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Reports hint that schools not following state funding law

California school districts were granted extraordinary flexibility in implementing a historic overhaul of public education finance to provide more help to “high-needs” poor and English-learner students. Gov. Jerry Brown cited “subsidiarity” as his principle, defining it as trusting local school officials to use extra money from the Local Control Funding Formula wisely within broad state […]

September 02, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged | Leave a reply

Big quake just 1 threat to state

Gov. Jerry Brown says California’s drought and the wildfires it has spawned are wake-up calls about the potentially cataclysmic effects of climate change. That may be true. But they are not the only indications of potential disaster that could devastate a state perched, however precariously, on the continent’s western edge. California has been experiencing a […]

Fiorina shows political smarts

“Carly Fiorina camp goes to war with the RNC” is exactly the headline she wanted. Her campaign has officially weighed in to reiterate her supporters’ complaints about the qualification criteria for the next debate. Since the last debate, she’s risen dramatically in the polls, but because CNN insists on using all polls since mid-July, she […]

Time to kick jihadists offline

In meetings with U.S. counterterrorism officials, on Capitol Hill and with journalists, I am asked repeatedly about how Twitter has become a driving force behind global jihad and what I think can be done about this. Is it possible to stop the Islamic State group and other jihadi groups from using services such as Twitter […]

Trump has message Washington should hear

In many ways, Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency is so preposterous that it demands to be dismissed as a joke. This would be a mistake. Trump deserves attention – though not because he’s likely to win the Republican nomination, much less the presidency. Almost anything is possible in politics, but President Trump strains the […]

Why Fed won’t rescue markets with QE4

The recent financial turmoil already is fueling speculation about a fourth round of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve, which would again step in to buy financial assets, boosting prices and repressing volatility. This wishful thinking is unsurprising for markets that have been conditioned to view central banks as their best friend. Yet the Fed […]

What 6 years of ‘reset’ have wrought

WASHINGTON — On Sept. 5, 2014, Russian agents crossed into Estonia and kidnapped an Estonian security official. Last week, after a closed trial, Russia sentenced him to 15 years. The reaction? The State Department issued a statement. The NATO secretary-general issued a tweet. Neither did anything. The European Union (reports The Wall Street Journal) said […]

Post-deal, a push to boost support for Israel

President Barack Obama has promised increased U.S. arms shipments to Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Middle East allies concerned about the nuclear agreement with Iran. In an Aug. 19 letter to Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., Obama detailed an impressive and costly list of “our enhanced support for Israel.” Obama pointed out that the administration is […]

Panicked investors need timeout on China

On the way to remaking China’s economy, President Xi Jinping has hit many roadblocks: vested interests, a change-averse Communist Party, local officials accustomed to the status quo. Who knew the real barrier would be foreign investors? For years, the world has called on China to loosen its grip on the yuan, drop its arbitrary growth […]

Bush attacks Trump from the right

Jeb Bush in a memorable Aug. 19 rant in New Hampshire lit into Donald Trump, reminding the gathering that Trump was a Democrat for longer than he was a Republican, gave more money to Democrats, favors a tax on assets and wants to spend hundreds of billions on an immigration scheme. He could have added […]

Bill shows cynicism of teachers union, lawmakers alike

There are many other unworthy contenders, but Senate Bill 858 may be the most pointlessly cynical legislative act of this still-young century. It was drafted in the dead of night and hastily enacted as a budget “trailer bill” last year with no more than a cursory gesture toward public notice. It stands as a prime […]

3 issues loom large with Legislature back in session

The Legislature reconvened Monday after a monthlong summer recess and immediately focused on what most members like best: spending money. The 2015-16 state budget was enacted in June, but three big financial issues were postponed – raising and spending billions of dollars on transportation, raising and spending billions more on the Medi-Cal program of health […]

Immigration excuses just that – excuses

One of the most lame excuses for doing nothing is that we can’t do everything. Such excuses have been repeated endlessly, even by some conservatives, when it comes to illegal immigration. We can’t deport millions of illegal immigrants already living in the country, some say, so the wise thing is to just learn to live […]

Trump drags GOP into immigration swamp

“This was not a subject that was on anybody’s mind until I brought it up at my announcement.” — Donald Trump, on immigration, Republican debate, Aug. 6 WASHINGTON — Not on anyone’s mind? For years, immigration has been the subject of near-constant, often bitter argument within the GOP. But it is true that Trump has […]

Presidential candidates too fixated on China

For the Chinese government, November 2016 can’t arrive soon enough. Last week’s currency devaluation ensured Beijing will serve as a political punching bag during America’s presidential campaign. Donald Trump set the stage with tweets like “Devalue means suck the blood out of the United States!” and “I’ve been warning about China since as early as […]

Iran deal highlights GOP’s alternate universe

Republican presidential candidates, all of whom oppose the Iran nuclear deal, have created their own virtual worlds when it comes to dealing with the Tehran regime. Most say that, if elected, they would cancel the agreement, get Congress to reinstate broader U.S. sanctions and then persuade the rest of the world to participate in that […]

Hillary Clinton’s problems only get worse

Hillary Clinton’s problems don’t seem to be going away. Aside from poll numbers showing her slipping in Iowa against potential competitors, she has not been able to figure out how to respond either to her email scandal or the consequences of her foreign policy. And her email scandal just got a whole lot worse. McClatchy […]

Gas prices make for illogical political strategy

Tom Steyer is obviously an intelligent and rational man, given his demonstrated ability to amass great wealth through capitalistic investments. But since it’s difficult to rationally grasp his periodic rants about California’s gasoline prices, they only make sense in a purely political – i.e., illogical – context. Steyer apparently believes that complaining about California’s fuel […]

August 19, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 1 Reply

I pass a Rebel flag almost daily: I don’t feel enraged

Heading toward the gym, for the past month or so, I’ve passed it. A large, billowing Confederate flag in a yard on a busy thoroughfare. The homeowner at some point added a sign: “Even in Bowie. First Amendment applies to everyone. Don’t like it, move.” Seriously? I thought. I considered knocking on the door. I […]

Pension measure summary stretches read of its intent

Kamala Harris is not only California’s attorney general, but a very ambitious politician who hopes to become a U.S. senator. As attorney general, her office prepares the official “title and summary” for every proposed ballot measure. This week, she issued a summary for a measure that would empower voters to approve any increases in public […]

Bush offers recipe for economic disappointment

“I think we need to lift our spirits and have high, lofty expectations for this great country of ours,” Jeb Bush said in the first Republican presidential debate. The former governor of Florida (full disclosure) was being questioned about an ambitious goal he has set: As president, he’d aim to achieve 4 percent economic growth. […]

GOP engages in debatable ‘debates’

The so-called “debates,” among too many Republicans to have a debate, are yet another painful sign of how much words and ideas have degenerated in our times. No one expects these televised sound bites and “gotcha” questions to be anything like the historic Lincoln-Douglas debates on the momentous national issue of slavery. But the mob […]

The Racing Form, 3rd edition

WASHINGTON — Both presidential nomination contests having been scrambled by recent events – the FBI taking control of Hillary Clinton’s private email server and a raucous, roiling GOP debate – the third edition of the Racing Form is herewith rushed into print. Legal disclaimer: This column is for betting purposes only. What follows is analysis […]

Malaysia suffers today because it didn’t in 1990s

Malaysia’s ongoing currency crash has many causes: a worsening global outlook, plunging commodity prices and, of course, the political scandal enveloping Prime Minister Najib Razak. But the real culprit is the year 1997. The conventional wisdom is that Malaysia’s then-leader Mahathir Mohamad saved the country from the worst ravages of the Asian financial crisis when […]

Iran already a threshold nuclear state

WASHINGTON — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., in justifying their opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, fail to note one basic fact: Iran is already a threshold nuclear weapons state. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, it takes about 25 kilograms of highly enriched uranium-235 to make a […]

Tesla has to start acting like a car company

The relationship between Wall Street and the auto industry has always been contentious, with automakers balancing their huge capital needs and long-term business model against investors’ relentless focus on short-term returns. Tesla has turned this struggle on its head in its short time as a public company, grabbing market valuations at multiples of earnings that […]

Top-two voting not the panacea report describes

California’s top-two primary election system emerged from one of the oddest events in the state’s political history. In 2009, Republican state Sen. Abel Maldonado withheld his vote on a state budget that included new taxes until legislative leaders promised, with obvious reluctance, to put the landmark election change on the ballot. Then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was […]

GOP debate shows why Trump not a winner

Donald Trump was at the center of the surprisingly exciting first Republican presidential debate. He was the candidate who had you wondering, every time it was his turn to speak, what he was going to do next. The most interesting interactions between candidates all involved him. None of it went quite the way one might […]

Debt payoff a time to reflect

California’s politicians love to affix catchy names and acronyms to their nostrums. Were their labels subject to truth-in-advertising laws, however, many would be forcibly discarded. Examples are legion, but the biggest whopper of recent vintage was calling a $15 billion bond issue “economic recovery bonds.” That was newly inaugurated Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s doing as he and […]

9 gifted politicians, 1 broken party

The Republican Party, partially but not entirely thanks to Donald Trump, just gave us perhaps the most entertaining debate in presidential primary history. And it also showcased a field of talented politicians. But the problem is that everything was within a framework of a still-broken party. By the end of the night, all nine of […]

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