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My gracious: What has happened to our politics?

Between Pope Francis’s visit and House Speaker John Boehner’s announcement that he would step down this month we got quite a lesson in grace and gracelessness. The pope brought humility and genuine concern for the poor to Congress. The punditocracy soon reduced it to another round of partisan one-upmanship. (He talked about the environment, so […]

October 04, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 1 Reply

Poor acts contribute to malaise

California has, as noted in this space previously, a severe civic malady – a sharp decline in voting. Politicians have been scrambling to find fixes, such as automatically registering voters as they contact the Department of Motor Vehicles. However, Public Policy Institute of California polling has found, in essence, that the reason so many Californians […]

Facts expose affordable housing fraud

Nowhere has there been so much hand-wringing over a lack of “affordable housing,” as among politicians and others in coastal California. And nobody has done more to make housing unaffordable than those same politicians and their supporters. A recent survey showed that the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco was just […]

October 03, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 4 Replies

Obama’s Syria debacle

“Russia hits Assad’s foes, angering U.S.” Headline, The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 1 WASHINGTON — If it had the wit, the Obama administration would be not angered, but appropriately humiliated. President Barack Obama has, once again, been totally outmaneuvered by Vladimir Putin. Two days earlier at the United Nations, Obama had welcomed the return, in […]

Why US work ethic is a bigger issue for voters

A Bloomberg poll on the 2016 presidential race found that 72 percent of the people surveyed said the U.S. isn’t as great as it once was. No big shock there. Polls have been picking up the America-in-decline lament for years. Drilling down, however, the poll, released last week, found that 27 percent of respondents thought […]

Palestinians tear up a treaty, destroy reputation

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas told the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority no longer considers itself bound by the Oslo Accords signed with Israel in 1993. Although he didn’t specify the details, there is a legal theory that would entitle one party to withdraw from a treaty: a material breach by […]

October 01, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 1 Reply

Is it Marco Rubio’s moment?

Donald Trump has plateaued in the GOP primary race, having claimed all the voters he is likely to attract and offended most everyone else. Ben Carson, as we saw from his recent declaration that Muslims are unfit to be president (subsequently “clarified” to mean only Muslims who believe that the Constitution is superseded by Islam), […]

Jimmy Carter couldn’t win the South today

Two events in the past month or so made for a strange juxtaposition: a celebration of a Southern president, Jimmy Carter, after he disclosed his battle with cancer, and the enthusiastic crowds that turned out in the South for the Republican candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. There are few political figures with more differences between […]

Cultures clash as court weighs in on school funding, accountability

The epic war between California’s education establishment and a loose coalition of school reform and civil rights groups rages on many fronts. Combatants clash in the Legislature, in the state Board of Education, in local school board meetings, in school district, legislative and statewide elections, and, ultimately, in the courts. One of their many specific […]

Trump, Carson unfit for Oval Office

WASHINGTON — When the history of the quest for the 2016 Republican nomination is written, the chapter on September 2015 will be among its ugliest. The front-runner allowed a racist lie about President Barack Obama to go unchallenged. And the second-place challenger would defy the Constitution to red-line the White House to exclude Muslims. As […]

Will Hillary Clinton implode?

Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers suggest she has not hit rock bottom. The latest Quinnipiac poll tells us her support among Democrats (43 percent) equals the combined support for her rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., (25 percent) and her potential rival Vice President Joe Biden (18 percent). Unless Biden draws all his support from Sanders, which […]

Intraparty fights take shape for 2016

Toni Atkins probably would prefer to remain the Democratic speaker of the state Assembly indefinitely, but she can’t. Although the state’s term-limit law has been amended to provide more flexibility, she’s bound by the earlier version that limits someone to three terms in the Assembly. Atkins still has eight years of state Senate eligibility. But […]

The political left has its pope

Pope Francis has created political controversy, both inside and outside the Catholic Church, by blaming capitalism for many of the problems of the poor. We see more of the same during his visit to the United States. The pope is part of a larger trend of the rise of the political left among Catholic intellectuals. […]

Clinton’s best bet on emails is a Republican

Hillary Clinton needs help. Her poll numbers have been shaky. Her base of support, Democratic women, is restive. And she is mired in a law-enforcement review of her use of a private server and email account while she was secretary of state. As Nate Silver wrote at FiveThirtyEight Politics, she has been stuck in a […]

4 lessons of Scott Walker’s campaign collapse

Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, suggested in March that he might be the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. Monday, he dropped out – months before any primary votes will be cast. The quick move from frontrunner to left-behind status should remind us of a few things about the Republican race, and about politics […]

Double suicide: The presidential campaign of 2015

Meanwhile, on the Democrats’ side: They are running a presidential campaign decrying wage stagnation, income inequality and widespread economic malaise – as if they’ve not been in office for the past seven years. Their leading presidential candidate is 27 points underwater on the question of honesty and is under FBI investigation for possible mishandling of […]

Japan’s new tax cuts welcome, but not enough

The avoidance of taxes, John Maynard Keynes wrote, is the only intellectual pursuit that still carries any reward. Don’t executives in Japan know it: Even with national debt skyrocketing, more than 70 percent of companies here still pay no corporate taxes. It makes one wonder what Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is thinking as he promises […]

Fiorina’s defense proposals ignore facts on the ground

Although Carly Fiorina may have appeared well prepared for the Republican presidential candidate debate Sept. 16, most of what she said about defense matters was fact-free or misleading. Having proposed major steps to make the U.S. military “the strongest military on the face of the planet” – which it already is – she never said […]

Fiorina’s ascent should terrify Democrats

WASHINGTON – In the wake of her stellar performance at the CNN debate, Carly Fiorina has shot to second place in the polls, and her ascent raises a possibility that should terrify Democrats: The GOP might just nominate a passionate, articulate pro-life woman as its standard-bearer in 2016. If that happens, Democrats can say goodbye […]

6 reasons for rest of GOP pack’s optimism

WASHINGTON — With Donald Trump in the lead in national and early state polls, oddly that means plenty of good news for the rest of the pack. First, candidates who were once thought to be improbable but are more serious and knowledgeable than Trump and Ben Carson look strong by comparison. Compared with them, Carly […]

Brown’s actions tarnish his legacy

Jerry Brown’s political modus operandi has become well established in the second half of his two-part governorship. He declares something to be vitally important, then often settles for a half-a-loaf “solution” or an initial gesture that allows him to check it off his political bucket list. And if the issue seems to require too much […]

Fiorina redefines ‘outsider’ candidate

Carly Fiorina likes to say, “Leadership is not about how big your position or your title is, it’s not about how big your office is, it’s not about how big your airplane, your helicopter, or your ego is. Leadership is about service.” She also makes the case that while she has not held a public-sector […]

Split tax role subject of political debate

What’s in a word? How about billions of dollars? Make It Fair is a labor-union-backed organization that wants to change Proposition 13, California’s landmark property tax limit. It has been circulating a chart claiming that since it passed in 1978, the proportion of property taxes paid on “commercial” property has declined from 45 percent to […]

September 20, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 4 Replies

Why the Fed should raise its target

My Bloomberg colleague Michael McKee asked a really good question at Janet Yellen’s press conference Thursday: If the Federal Open Market Committee expects below-target inflation for years, why do most of its members think a rise in interest rates before the end of this year is called for? The headline from the statement was that […]

September 19, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 6 Replies

Why have elections?

In a country with more than 300 million people, it is remarkable how obsessed the media have become with just one – Donald Trump. What is even more remarkable is that, after six years of repeated disasters, both domestically and internationally, under a glib egomaniac in the White House, so many potential voters are turning […]

Putin’s gambit, Obama’s puzzlement

WASHINGTON – Once again, President Barack Obama and his foreign policy team are stumped. Why is Vladimir Putin pouring troops and weaponry into Syria? After all, as Secretary of State John Kerry has thrice told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, it is only making things worse. But worse for whom? For the additional thousands of […]

Distinction exists between opportunity, outcomes

A hostile review of my new book – “Wealth, Poverty and Politics” – said, “there is apparently no level of inequality of income or opportunity that Thomas Sowell would consider unacceptable.” Ordinarily, reviewers who miss the whole point of a book they are reviewing can be ignored. But this particular confusion about what opportunity means […]

September 17, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 8 Replies

Senate’s hollow debate of Iran deal feeds public’s distrust of politics

Three days of Senate speeches and the vote Sept. 10 related to the Iran nuclear agreement presented perfect examples of why – according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll – 64 percent of adults think the American political system is dysfunctional and 72 percent say most people in politics cannot be trusted. The whole […]

September 17, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 1 Reply

Perry exits: A sad sign of our politics

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry exited the presidential race on Friday in the same manner in which he conducted his second presidential race, with maturity, largeness of spirit and devotion to conservative policies that improve the lives of all Americans. He declared, “It is time to elevate our debate from divisive name-calling, from sound bites […]

Legislature ends session with a whimper

As the final fortnight of the 2015 legislative session began, Capitol handicappers were predicting a concluding cascade of landmark legislation. The Legislature did take significant steps on medical marijuana regulation and the right of terminally ill patients to end their lives. However, as the biggest measures stalled one-by-one, the session ended early Saturday with a […]

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