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416 posts
  • Opinion
  • Plastic Trash
  • The Golden State
A Coca-Cola vending machine in the basement of the state Capitol
A Coca-Cola vending machine in the basement of the state Capitol (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Gov. Jerry Brown used some strong words Thursday in a rare signing message for a bill temporarily banning local governments from taxing soda and single-use plastic in exchange for the soda industry withdrawing a ballot initiative that would have made it harder to raise taxes.

“An abomination,” Brown called the initiative.

The ballot measure, which was funded primarily by soda companies such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi, would have raised the threshold for approving a local tax measure to a two-thirds vote. Currently, some taxes can be approved with a simple majority of local votes cast. What Brown found particularly objectionable was the language that would have expanded the definition of a state tax subject to a two-third vote of the Legislature to cover some types of fees that state agencies currently have the authority to impose.

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  • Opinion
  • Guns and Ammo
Police gather near the offices of Capital Gazette Communications in Annapolis, Md., after a shooting.
Police gather near the offices of Capital Gazette Communications in Annapolis, Md., after a shooting. (Zach Gibson / AFP/Getty Images)

If newspapers are the first draft of history, Twitter represents the notes that should have been crumpled up and thrown away.

The shocking news about the shootings Thursday at the Annapolis, Md., offices of Capital Gazette Communications, which publishes the Capital and the Maryland Gazette, prompted a considerable amount of finger-pointing and blame-assigning even before police announced a death toll, let alone identifying the shooter or his motive.

Some outlets are just now reporting a name, adding that it appeared to be a guy who’d lost a defamation lawsuit against the Capital. If so, that would contradict the operating assumptions fueling the flow of angry hot takes for the first few hours after the shooting — for example, that it was motivated by President Trump’s incessant attacks on the news media or by Rep. Maxine Waters’ call to confront Trump’s top appointees wherever they might be found (no, that one doesn’t make any sense to me either).

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
President Trump meets with Republican Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), left, and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
President Trump meets with Republican Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), left, and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). (Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

Donald Trump is going to get a second Supreme Court pick, and there’s nothing Democrats can do to stop him.

There are, however, two people who can. And they may be willing to put a leash on the president and his worst excesses: Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

When it comes to confirming a Supreme Court justice, Republicans hold all the cards. They control the House and also enjoy a 51-49 majority in the Senate. But Collins and Murkowski could flip that advantage if they choose. And they have shown a willingness to flex that muscle.

  • Opinion
  • The Golden State
Maybe Californians want to continue setting their clocks back and forth an hour twice a year. The governor should let them decide.
Maybe Californians want to continue setting their clocks back and forth an hour twice a year. The governor should let them decide. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

It’s up to Gov. Jerry Brown to decide whether to sign a bill placing a measure on the November ballot to end the archaic practice of changing clocks twice a year. The California Legislature has already given the proposal its blessing, and the governor should too.

This measure would not necessarily end California’s observance of daylight saving time. If approved by the voters, it would repeal a 69-year-old ballot measure (the Daylight Saving Time Act) that forced the semi-annual clock adjustments and leave Californians on Pacific Standard Time (which is what we currently observe from November to March). The Legislature could later decide, by a supermajority vote, to switch California permanently to Pacific Daylight Time, which we are observing right now.

Endless daylight saving time is the intent of the Legislature, though it would require federal approval.

  • Opinion
  • Election 2018
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez takes a selfie with a man in New York.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez takes a selfie with a man in New York. (Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

There must be a lot of soul-searching going on among Democratic Party leaders today about what to make of the surprise upset of veteran Rep. Joe Crowley (D-New York) by newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Latina socialist Democrat in Tuesday’s primary.

Good. It’s time they had an honest self-appraisal when it comes to their support of issues people care about and that make the young candidates, particularly women and ethnic minorities, eager to participate. Couldn’t the party establishment see that this majority-minority district might go for a charismatic candidate over a middle-aged white guy incumbent? Now they look foolish and deserve a bit of mockery. Well, maybe not all of it.

(I’m betting not being nice enough to Trump was not a factor in the outcome of this Democratic Party primary. Or any of them. Ever.)

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, center, joins other Supreme Court justices and officials at President Trump's inauguration in 2017.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, center, joins other Supreme Court justices and officials at President Trump's inauguration in 2017. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s retirement will have President Trump and Senate Republicans racing to name and confirm a replacement before the November elections, when there’s an outside chance that Republicans will lose control of the Senate. (It’s an outside chance because far more Democrats are up for reelection than Republicans.)

On first blush, you might think the clock is on the Democrats’ side. After all, there aren’t many legislative days left before the elections, even with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) keeping the chamber in session through the traditional August recess. And it typically takes months for the White House to vet judges and select a nominee.

It’s the safest of safe bets that Trump will have a nominee in short order, however. The president updated his published “Supreme Court Shortlist” in November, which included many names suggested by conservative legal scholars. And remember, it took Trump less than two weeks after his inauguration to pick Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia; the vacancy had been kept open by McConnell and his fellow Republicans, who refused even to hold a hearing on President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland.

Editor's note: This article was originally published April 10, 2017. We are resurfacing it from the archives with a new headline in the wake of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s decision to retire from the Supreme Court.

Two persistent themes mark the Trump administration: Spontaneity, and cruelty. Late Tuesday night, U.S. District Court Judge Dana M. Sabraw in San Diego ordered the government to end one product of those two themes – separating migrant children from their parents. The judge also ordered the government to reunite the families within 30 days, or within 14 days for minors under the age of 5.

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
A U.S. judge ordered that migrant families separated by the government must be reunited.
A U.S. judge ordered that migrant families separated by the government must be reunited. (AFP/Getty Images)

A federal judge in San Diego late Tuesday managed to achieve something the president and Congress have failed to do: Resolve President Trump’s self-inflicted crisis of separating children from their migrant parents.

It turns out the solution is pretty simple: Reunite them. Judge Dana M. Sabraw gave the government 30 days to get all the kids back with their parents, and 14 days for kids under the age of 5.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
President Trump speaks at the White House on Tuesday before awarding the Medal of Honor posthumously to 1st Lt. Garlin Conner.
President Trump speaks at the White House on Tuesday before awarding the Medal of Honor posthumously to 1st Lt. Garlin Conner. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

What matters most in the Supreme Court’s decision in Trump vs. Hawaii is the bottom line: a 5-4 ruling that the president didn’t violate the law or the Constitution in imposing the third version of what he himself calls a travel ban. The outcome of the case fully justifies Trump’s exuberant tweet this morning: “SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS TRUMP TRAVEL BAN. Wow!”

But if Trump reads Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s majority opinion and a concurring opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy, he might be less jubilant. Both justices made it clear that, while they believe Trump acted lawfully in blocking the entry of foreign visitors and immigrants from several mostly Muslim-majority nations, they weren’t endorsing Trump’s ugly statements about Muslims.

In the case of Roberts’ opinion for the court, you had to squint to see the criticism between the lines. After citing Trump’s various problematic statements about Muslims — including his notorious campaign proposal for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” — Roberts wrote: