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Modern-day gladiator games spawn political circus

Nearly two millennia ago, satirical poet Juvenal decried the civic disengagement of his fellow Romans, to wit: “Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the people have abdicated our duties; for the people who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions – everything – now […]

Why I’m not looking forward to football season

As far back as I can remember, the start of NFL training camp has brought on chords of excitement akin to the anticipation felt the night before Christmas. Not this year. No longer am I looking forward to training camp news or the weeks of exhibition games leading up to the start of the regular […]

Scalia’s zingers appalling

Justice Antonin Scalia ended up on the losing side of two of the biggest cases from the Supreme Court’s just-concluded term: King v. Burwell, the Affordable Care Act case, and Obergefell v. Hodges, the same-sex marriage case. But his dissenting opinions were probably quoted more often, and more extensively, than the majority opinions that laid […]

Eye care focus of big-dollar legislative fight

This is a tale about high-powered politics, big money and even sex – a tale, believe it or not, about eyeglasses and contact lenses. Research by the Vision Council of America indicates that about three-quarters of Americans wear corrective eyewear of some kind. If one applies that statistic to California, it translates into nearly 30 […]

August 02, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 1 Reply

It’s a case of documented irresponsibility

People who entered the United States illegally may be called “undocumented” in politically correct circles, but what is all too well documented is the utter irresponsibility of both political parties in dealing with immigration issues. Both Democratic and Republican administrations have left the border with Mexico porous for years – porous not just for Mexicans […]

Among ruins, a case of righteousness

WASHINGTON — Christianity, whose presence in the Middle East predates Islam’s by 600 years, is about to be cleansed from the Middle East. Egyptian Copts may have found some respite under Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, but after their persecution under the previous Muslim Brotherhood government, they know how precarious their existence in 90 percent Muslim Egypt […]

US, others need to size up Iran’s past nuclear weapons research

It could be sometime next year before the Iran nuclear agreement takes effect if Congress does not block it before the lawmakers’ 60-day study period ends Sept. 17. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz predicted that it “will be in 2016″ before the International Atomic Energy Agency certifies that Iran has taken all the steps required and […]

Why ultralow interest rates aren’t going anywhere

For decades, central banks lorded over markets. Traders quivered at the omnipotence of monetary authorities – their every move, utterance and wink a reason to scurry for safe havens or an opportunity to score huge profits. Now, though, markets are the ones doing the bullying. Take New Zealand and Australia. The Reserve Bank of New […]

Liberals decide religious liberty isn’t so great

The American tradition of religious freedom has long included exemptions from laws that impose a burden on the exercise of faith. The Volstead Act implementing Prohibition, for example, made an exception for the sacramental use of alcohol. In recent years, though, liberals have started to turn away from that tradition – and come up with ever […]

Trump, Sanders and Obama’s stagnant ratings

Believe it or not, the presidential race has been astonishingly stable for the past six months. But will it stay that way for the rest of the “invisible primary” – the period leading up to the primary season that begins next winter? Here are five more questions for the next five months. 1. Panic or […]

Labor unions flex political muscle in Legislature

Only a sixth of California’s wage earners are members of labor unions, but they carry a very big stick in politics. Unions are the largest single source of legislative campaign funds, a recent Sacramento Bee compilation revealed, and among Democrats, their hegemony is even more pronounced. Not surprisingly, therefore, a Legislature dominated by labor-backed Democrats […]

Liberals decide religious liberty isn’t so great

The American tradition of religious freedom has long included exemptions from laws that impose a burden on the exercise of faith. The Volstead Act implementing Prohibition, for example, made an exception for the sacramental use of alcohol. In recent years, though, liberals have started to turn away from that tradition – and come up with […]

Good job best medicine to cure ills of poverty

When the Census Bureau began calculating poverty a half-century ago — as a “war on poverty” became a hot issue in Washington — it devised a rather simple formula. The formula defined income that would be counted — excluding noncash income such as food stamps and housing subsidies — and applied it to a narrow […]

Fact-free left ignores tangible evidence

The outrage over another multiple murder of American military personnel on American soil by another Islamic extremist has been exacerbated by the fact that these military people had been ordered to be unarmed – and therefore sitting ducks. Millions of American civilians have also been forbidden to have guns, and are also sitting ducks – […]

Risks tied to sanctuary cities now apparent

In reality, there is no free lunch. In the alternate reality known as the American political debate, however, that’s the only kind on the menu. Conservatives say tax cuts boost economic growth, which yields higher revenue. No need to worry about bigger budget deficits. Meanwhile, over on the left, we have laws and policies in […]

Price of fetal parts comments open door to debate late-term abortion

“Thank you Planned Parenthood. God bless you.” — Barack Obama, address to Planned Parenthood, April 26, 2013 WASHINGTON — Planned Parenthood’s reaction to the release of a clandestinely recorded conversation about the sale of fetal body parts was highly revealing. After protesting that it did nothing illegal, it apologized for the “tone” of one of […]

Why so many Americans support Trump

Donald Trump is now the 2016 GOP frontrunner. That sentence would have sounded ridiculous a month ago, but here we are. The billionaire real estate mogul and reality star has tough-talked his way to the top of the ticket for 24 percent of Republican voters, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll. As The […]

Some things only the feds can do

These are dark days for those of us who believe that public goods such as infrastructure and scientific research are essential functions of government. Decades of attacks by libertarians, not all of them well-informed, have made conservatives and much of the public skeptical toward the provision of public goods. Increased spending on transfer payments – health […]

Who will flourish after Donald Trump self-destructs?

Donald Trump’s self-destruction will soon manifest itself in his drop in the polls. The problem remains for those GOP voters still seeking a candidate who is a viable alternative to Jeb Bush. It is not likely to be Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who has been outshone by more credible candidates and again showed bad judgment […]

Congress investigating Pentagon plan for a British base

Congress is investigating the U.S. military to evaluate charges that it manipulated studies to justify building an intelligence center in the United Kingdom. Over the weekend I obtained a letter to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, sent by Chairman Jason Chaffetz of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to request documents, communications and […]

July 22, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 1 Reply

Legislature slides down slippery slope of moral impurity

The 2015 legislative session may – or may not – be otherwise memorable, but certainly will be known for symbolic gestures that drift into censorship. Earlier in the year, the Senate voted to remove the statue of Junipero Serra, the 18th century Spanish missionary who brought Christianity to California and built the first of the […]

Religious liberty latest Obamacare victim

A group of Catholic nuns, the Little Sisters of the Poor, wants relief from the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that it offer contraceptive coverage to its employees. The nuns lost a court case last week – and everyone who cares about religious freedom should be troubled by the reasons why. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act […]

Vaccine debate latest chapter in phobia politics

A woman holding a hand-lettered sign urging the Legislature to repeal Senate Bill 277 stood by the entrance to the Capitol’s garage Thursday morning. It was a forlorn echo of an issue that generated the highest level of emotional energy seen in the Capitol in decades – whether public and private school students, with few […]

Is the Civil War over?

In the wake of the recent killings in a South Carolina church, the killer’s hope of igniting a race war produced the opposite effect. Blacks and whites in South Carolina came together to condemn his act and the race hate behind it. Some saw in the decision to remove the Confederate flag from in front […]

Iran deal worse than we could have imagined

WASHINGTON — When you write a column, as did I two weeks ago, headlined “The worst agreement in U.S. diplomatic history,” you don’t expect to revisit the issue. We had hit bottom. Or so I thought. Then on Tuesday the final terms of the Iranian nuclear deal were published. I was wrong. Who would have […]

Greece’s imaginary numbers will destroy any deal

Mathematicians use “imaginary numbers” for abstract concepts such as the square root of -1 (which, since you asked, has two answers: i and -i). The European Union seems to be using a similar trick in constructing a bailout for Greece. Unfortunately, the magic that works for arithmetic seems likely to doom the rescue efforts in […]

From Dempsey, a sobering assessment of Iraq

WASHINGTON — Outgoing Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey showed last week how much his understanding of the Middle East will be missed when he steps down. In a blunt assessment given the Senate Armed Services Committee last week, Dempsey — who since 1991 has spent a good part of his career in the region – outlined […]

Why should eurozone still want to keep Greece?

So Greece and the rest of the eurozone have a deal. It turns out I was wrong last week when I suggested that after the referendum, the negotiations were down to two choices: The European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund would capitulate and offer better terms, or Greece would exit the euro. With […]

GOP should consider payroll tax relief

Already in the presidential campaign we have seen a flat-tax plan from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and a pro-growth, pro-middle-class plan from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. Longtime GOP strategist and former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer has a proposal for something we have suggested – payroll tax relief: “I would tell them to create a […]

Voters should expect hot fight over public worker pensions

It’s likely that California voters will be treated – or subjected – next year to a vitriolic campaign over public employee pensions. Backers of a proposed ballot measure, which would require voter approval of future pension increases, contend that too-generous benefits are diverting money from other vital public services such as police and fire protection. […]

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