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426 posts
  • Trump
  • Opinion
The federal website for Obamacare signups, HealthCare.gov, is photographed in Washington on Dec. 15, 2017.
The federal website for Obamacare signups, HealthCare.gov, is photographed in Washington on Dec. 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)

A day after announcing a rule change designed to undermine Obamacare and its protections for people with preexisting conditions, the Trump administration unveiled a proposal that just may strengthen Obamacare. 

Wait, what?

Reversing a position taken by the Obama administration, the departments of Labor, Treasury and Health and Human Services proposed Tuesday to allow employers to give workers cash, tax-free, for healthcare insurance and expenses in lieu of providing a group insurance plan. Workers would have to combine their Health Reimbursement Accounts, however, with an insurance plan that complied with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (with one important exception that I’ll explain in an update below).

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  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed
Megyn Kelly speaks at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Laguna Niguel on Oct. 2.
Megyn Kelly speaks at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Laguna Niguel on Oct. 2. (Phillip Faraone / Getty Images)

Halloween is always getting people in trouble. There’s just something about feeling liberated to dress in costume that makes people stupid. (I hate to bring this up, but remember how now-beloved Prince Harry turned up as a Nazi at a costume party years ago?)

On Tuesday, Megyn Kelly, host of the third hour of the “Today” show on NBC, embraced blackface as a Halloween costume choice. No, she didn’t don it. (Thank God.)  But she and her fellow chatters were grumbling about all the costumes deemed politically incorrect when she suddenly dropped this: “What is racist? You truly do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface at Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. When I was a kid, that was OK as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character.”

Seriously? Whom did she dress up as when she was a kid? Al Jolson?

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Election 2018
Attendees spell out 'vote early' at a rally for Democratic candidates Monday at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
Attendees spell out 'vote early' at a rally for Democratic candidates Monday at the University of South Florida in Tampa. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

There are two consistent messages in recent national polls about the coming midterm election. One, as seen in the latest results from USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times, is that significantly more Americans plan to vote for Democrats than Republicans. The other, as illustrated by this new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, is that surging voter enthusiasm in both parties could lead to a huge turnout.

National surveys about voter preference should be taken with a full shaker of salt. The Democrats who dominate the coastal cities don’t get to vote in the GOP-led states lying between them. Yes, every midterm election since 2006 has been a “wave” election of some sort, shifting power dramatically in one chamber or the other. But as the person selling you mutual funds is duty-bound to tell you, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

The turnout projections are more interesting, coming at a time when President Trump’s unusually low approval ratings are climbing. He’s close to being in net positive territory — more voters approving than disapproving — for the first time in his tenure. Given the unblinking support from his base and unwavering hostility from Democrats, Trump’s improved ratings could be coming only from less ideological voters in the middle.

  • Opinion
  • Election 2018
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) filmed a campaign ad with his daughter, Annika,
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) filmed a campaign ad with his daughter, Annika, (Rohrabacher campaign)

Some congressional Republicans are apparently so desperate to hold on to their seats on Nov. 6 that they are willing to gamble that voters won’t notice their newfound affection for the popular parts of the Affordable Care Act that they tried to kill again and again.

From California to Pennsylvania, Republican candidates are claiming they support a popular consumer protection in the ACA that prohibits insurers from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions, without mentioning they have voted dozens of times to repeal or undermine President Obama’s signature healthcare law and the provisions on preexisting conditions since it passed in 2010.

Orange County Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is among them. The Costa Mesa Republican is in a pitched battle against Democrat Harley Rouda, who is polling even with the incumbent.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Election 2018
Migrants moving toward the U.S. border have drawn angry tweets from President Trump.
Migrants moving toward the U.S. border have drawn angry tweets from President Trump. (Johan Ordonez / AFP/Getty Images)

As the caravan of thousands of mostly desperate Hondurans makes its way north through southern Mexico, one thing has become abundantly clear: President Trump and his brain trust have absolutely no idea how to handle it.

Fuming and frothing, Trump urged the governments of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to stop the caravan and announced Monday morning that he “will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them.”

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  • Opinion
  • Election 2018
One of Verita Black Prothro's campaign signs, defaced, in Reno.
One of Verita Black Prothro's campaign signs, defaced, in Reno. (Courtesy of and used with permission from Verita Black Prothro)

Last week, I received a series of texts from Verita Black Prothro, a woman I’d interviewed when I covered the women’s march in Reno nearly two years ago. Since then, Black Prothro decided to run for public administrator in Washoe County, the northwest Nevada district that contains Reno. Her speech at the women’s march animated the audience, which cheered and teared up as she spoke. "We pray that those who say they walk with Christ start acting like they walk with Christ,” she said of the Trump administration, which was just taking office. “In the Old Testament through the New, we're told to care for the poor, the widows, and the orphans. This whole thing they call 'tough love' — that's not mentioned in the Bible."

So when I saw the first text — an image of a campaign sign with Black Prothro’s face covered in black spray paint except for her eyes and mouth and the “Black” in her name crossed out — I dropped my phone. It was such a degrading depiction of such a dignified woman that, for a moment, the whole thing did not compute.

But we live in a world where women and people of color are not safe and where women of color are exponentially less so. The Huffington Post has been keeping a running list of racist attacks on candidates of color. At the time of writing, twenty-three political candidates in this year’s elections were reported to have been victimized; three, including Black Prothro, are from Nevada. Black Prothro says that these experiences are more common than reported. For instance, when a Latino candidate in Nevada was shot at while campaigning in 2016, he didn’t talk about it until the election was over, worried it would negatively impact his chances.

And while a striking number of black candidates are running for office in November — including high-profile gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams, Ben Jealous and Andrew Gillum — some have pulled out of their races because of safety concerns.

People protest officials' handling of sexual misconduct allegations involving former university gynecologist George Tyndall at USC in June.
People protest officials' handling of sexual misconduct allegations involving former university gynecologist George Tyndall at USC in June. (Los Angeles Times)

It looks like USC has finally gotten the message.

Following a series of scandals on campus that were only made worse by the administration’s attempts to quietly bury the problems, the university announced Friday that it had reached an agreement to pay $215 million to patients treated by Dr. George Tyndall, the longtime campus gynecologist accused of abusing and sexually harassing patients.

The “agreement in principle” calls for the university to provide $2,500 to every student who ever saw Tyndall at the campus health clinic and up to $250,000 to students who provide a written claim of abuse and who agree to be interviewed by a psychologist. An independent evaluator appointed by the court will decide the individual award.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Election 2018
A group of Honduran migrants, near the border of Honduras and El Salvador, continue their journey to the United States on Oct. 18.
A group of Honduran migrants, near the border of Honduras and El Salvador, continue their journey to the United States on Oct. 18. (Rodrigo Sura / EPA/Shutterstock)

In the build-up for the midterm elections, Democrats are flailing Republicans over health insurance for people with preexisting conditions, and President Trump is flailing Democrats over a caravan of Central American migrants heading toward our southern border.

Both of these issues speak to deep-seated insecurities among overlapping groups of voters — the well-founded concern about rising healthcare costs, and less-well-founded fears about demographic and economic changes in this country. And both also shine a spotlight on what and whom Democrats and Republicans value. 

But the two issues are being thrust at voters as if they were mountainous when, in terms of the number of people involved, they look a lot more like molehills.

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law

President Trump mouthed some of the right words Thursday when he said it appears that dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi had probably been murdered and that the consequences would be “very severe” if blame is firmly tied to the Saudi government. But, hours later at a campaign rally, he praised Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte, who won a special election last year despite body-slamming a Guardian journalist to the ground — an act for which Gianforte later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge.

“By the way, never wrestle him,” Trump said to laughter from the crowd. "Any guy who can do a body slam ... he's my guy.”

  • Opinion
  • The Golden State
  • Election 2018
State Sen. Kevin de Leon and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein after their debate Wednesday. They are joined by moderator Mark Baldassare.
State Sen. Kevin de Leon and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein after their debate Wednesday. They are joined by moderator Mark Baldassare. (Ben Margot / Associated Press)

Watching the one and only debate between the two Democrats running for the U.S. Senate in California — incumbent Dianne Feinstein and her challenger, state Sen. Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles — I often found myself wondering what voters really wanted to hear from candidates. Was it their plans, or their ambitions?

Feinstein, whose been in the Senate long enough to have served in the majority and the minority twice, was all about plans. Incrementalism. Small ball.

De Leon, who enjoyed Democratic supermajorities during much of his time as president pro tem of the California Senate, was all about ambitions. Big, immediate change. Home-run swings.