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426 posts
  • Opinion
  • Guns and Ammo
  • The Golden State
  • Rule of Law
Patrons leave the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks after a gunman opened fire, killing 12 people.
Patrons leave the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks after a gunman opened fire, killing 12 people. (Los Angeles Times)

It may be that California has temporarily exceeded its capacity for processing tragedy, and grief, after two major fires with horrific damage and death and the mass shooting at a Thousand Oaks country dance bar. But we can’t let ourselves become overwhelmed because, unfortunately, we’re likely to endure repetitions of both.

Devastating wildfires are not one-offs here. They are part of the natural cycle, though our insistence on building communities in places we know will burn overlays the grids of civilization on wild space, adding fuel to the fires and human losses to the natural toll. My colleagues on the editorial board have written eloquently about this, so I’ll leave it alone. But we know what needs to be done to lessen our exposure to the dangers.

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  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed
  • The Golden State
Authors of a study that found oceans are warming faster than previously thought erred in their math. But warming seas remain a problem.
Authors of a study that found oceans are warming faster than previously thought erred in their math. But warming seas remain a problem. (Richard E. Dodge / Sun Sentinel)

Well, that was unfortunate.

A study released a couple of weeks ago reporting that oceans were warming faster than previously anticipated turns out to have been off by a bit. By a large bit, in fact.

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  • Opinion
  • Election 2018
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), center, joined by other GOP senators, speaks to reporters in the Capitol on Wednesday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), center, joined by other GOP senators, speaks to reporters in the Capitol on Wednesday. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

It’s too easy to mock Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for writing a paean to bipartisanship … for Fox News’ website

So I leave that task to others. Of whom there are many.

Instead, allow me to offer two critiques. First, when McConnell touted the achievements of the “unified Republican government,” he failed to mention how divisive all of those accomplishments were. So divisive, in fact, that none of the pieces of legislation he cited could have passed under ordinary Senate rules. Instead, the regulatory repeals, the tax cuts and the judicial confirmations all were made possible by procedural shortcuts that barred filibusters and deterred amendments. 

CNN's Jim Acosta does a standup before President Trump's Nov. 7 news conference.
CNN's Jim Acosta does a standup before President Trump's Nov. 7 news conference. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

On Tuesday, CNN filed a lawsuit seeking to reverse the revocation of correspondent Jim Acosta’s White House press pass.

The complaint filed in federal court in Washington, makes a persuasive case that the administration‘s action was “the culmination of years of hostility by President Trump against CNN and Acosta based on the contents of their reporting — an unabashed attempt to censor the press and exclude reporters from the White House who challenge and dispute the president’s point of view.”

CNN is also correct in noting that the 1st Amendment has been interpreted by the Supreme Court as reflecting “a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.” The quotation is from the landmark 1964 libel case of New York Times vs. Sullivan.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • The Swamp
John Roberts of Fox News, left, Jim Acosta of CNN and Kristen Welker of NBC stand in the White House on Nov. 7.
John Roberts of Fox News, left, Jim Acosta of CNN and Kristen Welker of NBC stand in the White House on Nov. 7. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

When the Trump administration yanked the White House press pass held by CNN’s Jim Acosta last week, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders practically accused him of manhandling a female White House intern. On Tuesday, Sanders took a different tack, accusing him of manhandling the microphone he shares with dozens of other reporters in the White House press corps.

Responding to the lawsuit CNN filed against the suspension of Acosta’s press pass, Sanders said, “After Mr. Acosta asked the President two questions — each of which the President answered — he physically refused to surrender a White House microphone to an intern, so that other reporters might ask their questions.” 

So much for the Acosta karate chop.

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Physical therapists, occupational therapists and administrative staff stretch inside the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in 2013.
Physical therapists, occupational therapists and administrative staff stretch inside the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in 2013. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Public heath advocates appear to be getting desperate over the state of Americans’ inactivity.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Monday released a new set of physical activity guidelines and they are...ah...interesting. Instead of prescribing the standard block of sustained physical activity — previously at least 10 minutes at a time — the government is now urging Americans to, you know, move around more during the day and sit less.

The reasoning is that any activity is better than none for people who spend most of their lives sitting down — in a car, on the train, in front of a computer, eating meals, watching television or surfing the internet —  then they should do what they can to take breaks from the reclined life.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • The Swamp
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen looks to be the next top Trump administration departure, according to reports.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen looks to be the next top Trump administration departure, according to reports. (Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images)

When we last dropped in on the soap opera that is the White House — call it “As the Trump Turns” — I speculated that President Trump would start axing top officials shortly after the election. I had the scandal-scarred Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke as the likeliest to go first, with Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions probably second.

Sigh. Sessions went first, Zinke is still on the job, and now it looks like Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen may be the next to go. I had her at third on the list (with an asterisk for Sessions’ deputy, Rod Rosenstein, once Sessions left) so if this worked like March Madness, well, my bracket would be so busted.

  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed
The Congressional Budget Office projects that the federal debt will grow to unprecedented levels in the coming three decades.
The Congressional Budget Office projects that the federal debt will grow to unprecedented levels in the coming three decades. (Congressional Budget Office)

When Democrats take over the House of Representatives next year, they will most likely inherit a strong economy. That’s a good thing, given how messed up the federal budget is.

The federal deficit hit $779 billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, amounting to almost 4% of the U.S. economy. Although the budget gap isn’t nearly as large as it was in the depths of the last recession, it’s alarming to watch the red ink deepen at a time when the economy expands steadily.

The enormous tax cut Republicans approved in 2013 is partly to blame for that problem; it reduced tax revenues as a share of gross domestic product to 16.4%, while federal spending remained a little above 20% of GDP. And as the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget pointed out, the tax cut didn’t cause a surge in federal receipts, as its supporters promised it would. Instead, the CFRB calculated, the change translated into a loss of 3.6% to 4.7% — and a more than 5% reduction in what the feds had been projected to take in prior to the tax cut.

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Border guards deny entry at a bridge at Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to a mother and her children seeking asylum in the U.S.
Border guards deny entry at a bridge at Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to a mother and her children seeking asylum in the U.S. (Los Angeles Times)

There are two fundamental problems with President Trump’s latest attempt to throttle back the number of people — and particularly the number of Central Americans — trying to seek refuge in the U.S. In a proclamation issued Friday morning, Trump declared that asylum-seekers who crossed the border without permission — for example, by fording the Rio Grande instead of coming through an official point of entry — would be ineligible for consideration.

First, to shut the door to the desperate violates basic human decency and international norms of how asylum-seekers should be treated. Second, it is probably illegal, despite the contortions government lawyers have gone through to give it the veneer of lawfulness.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was injured in a fall at her office.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was injured in a fall at her office. (Saul Loeb / AFP-Getty Images)

When the Supreme Court announced Thursday that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had fractured three ribs in a fall at her office, there was predictable anxiety among her admirers, not only for her personal well-being but also for the future ideological composition of the court.

On Twitter, some admirers offered to donate ribs to the 85-year-old justice (#RibsForRuth).

But one well-wisher on Twitter added that Ginsburg “absolutely should have retired under Obama.”