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Wrangling over new state taxes

As the Great Recession gripped California, state revenues plummeted by 20 percent and Capitol politicians and major stakeholders battled over which programs would take the hits. During this decade, however, a slow recovery from recession and a temporary hike in taxes approved by voters in 2012 have boosted general fund revenues from scarcely $80 billion […]

November 25, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 1 Reply

Stop the bleeding; close the borders

There was a painful irony when France’s immediate response to the terrorist attacks in Paris was to close the borders. If they had closed the borders decades ago, they might have avoided this attack. Someone once said that the First World War was the most stupid thing that European nations ever did. Countries on both […]

Hillary Clinton flip-flop-flips on Iraq

It was an extraordinary concession. Hillary Clinton, who voted for the Iraq war and then apologized for doing so, and who opposed the surge, now publicly concedes it worked. This confirms former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s account that Hillary Clinton opposed the surge purely for political reasons. In his memoir, Gates wrote, “Hillary told the […]

November 25, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 2 Replies

Is California’s economy booming? Not really

Kevin de León, the state Senate’s president pro tem, has been making his way slowly to a global conference on climate change in Paris next month. One of his stops, last week, was London, where he spoke to a group of British legislators and business leaders, touting the economic benefits of California’s efforts to curb […]

November 22, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 5 Replies

Six reasons Ted Cruz is in trouble

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, despite good reviews in the debate and yet another immigration issue set up for him to exploit, has a rockier path ahead of the him than he did before the Paris attacks. Like a number of other candidates, he has a path to the nomination, but it is narrower than many […]

November 21, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 7 Replies

Mandatory parental leave can pare gender gap

The World Economic Forum (best known for organizing the annual Davos shindig) just published its annual Gender Gap report. It makes for thoroughly depressing reading. On current trends, it will take 118 years before women’s salaries equal those of men; women currently earn what men took home a decade ago. So here’s a modest proposal […]

Islam’s terrorists have America waiting for next president

WASHINGTON — Tell me: What’s a suicide bomber doing with a passport? He’s not going anywhere. And, though I’m not a religious scholar, I doubt that a passport is required in paradise for a martyr to access his 72 black-eyed virgins. A Syrian passport was found near the body of one of the terrorists. Why […]

IAEA’s Iran report to provide opening for deal’s foes

Opponents of the Iran nuclear agreement in Washington and Tehran will have their next opportunity to sabotage its implementation when the International Atomic Energy Agency releases a report by Dec. 15 on its investigation into Iran’s past nuclear weapons activities. Americans opposed to the deal will reopen debate over whether the International Atomic Energy Agency […]

Germany’s refugee response puts US to shame

The political controversy over the proposed resettlement of 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S. next year imperils the superpower’s claim to global moral leadership. Unlike their counterparts in some European nations, the more compassionate politicians in the U.S. appear powerless to do more for people fleeing war and terror. Syria is the biggest source of […]

5 questions on where the GOP presidential race is headed

We are about three months away from the Iowa caucuses. No one is technically “winning” a race in which no votes have been cast and in an era when polls are highly suspect. Predicting what we will have three weeks from now, let alone three months, is a fool’s errand. But there are questions, the […]

Kamala Harris undercuts California’s Prop. 209

Proposition 209, passed by California voters in 1996, bars race, ethnicity or gender preferences in hiring, college admissions and other governmental actions. The measure, which has survived multiple legal challenges, is a section of the state constitution. Attorney General Kamala Harris took an oath to “support and defend . . . the constitution of the […]

France has had its 9/11: What happens next?

Paris is getting back to life as usual after Friday’s attacks, if you discount the armed police on the streets and a general sense of grief. But for France, the question of what President Francois Hollande should do, now that he has declared the nation at war, remains unanswered. This situation is completely different from […]

Brown struggles to secure lasting legacy

When Jerry Brown’s first governorship ended in 1983, he had precious little lasting accomplishment on his political resume. His few initiatives had faced a hostile (albeit Democratic) Legislature and he had been preoccupied with two unsuccessful campaigns for the presidency and one for the U.S. Senate. After the latter, Brown declared, “I believe the people […]

November 15, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 2 Replies

Political novices Carson, Fiorina owe us full disclosure

We can accept in theory the idea of a nonpolitician as president. Someone with equivalent skills to those of the folks in public office and with the requisite knowledge could, I am fairly certain, do the job. But it is quite another thing to accept that the specific nonpolitician before you is qualified and capable. […]

Carson’s misstatements don’t add up to a pyramid of beans

Dr. Ben Carson’s whole life has been unusual, so perhaps we should not be surprised to see the latest twist – the media going ballistic over discrepancies in a few things he said. Years ago, when I was writing some autobiographical sketches, I dug up old letters to check out things that I remembered – […]

The most revealing GOP debate, but any change?

WASHINGTON — The Republican debate on CNBC was riveting, the way a train wreck is riveting – you can’t take your eyes off it. The Fox Business Network debate was merely satisfying. A serious political discussion requires a bit more work, but it repays the effort. The CNBC affair was a contrived food fight during […]

6 ideas the GOP could do without

There are many good, creative policy ideas floating around on the right, on everything from higher education reform and entitlement reform to alternatives to the federal health care law. Here, however, are six really bad ones that should be dumped: 1. A value-added tax (VAT). Neither Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, nor Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., […]

The phony ‘War on Christmas’ is back, fueled by those ‘Jesus haters’ at Starbucks

Like everything connected to Christmas, this year’s “War on Christmas” freakout has arrived early. And it has taken the form of a red Starbucks cup. Never mind that stores across America are already playing Christmas carols. Forget that Wal-Mart started its holiday layaway plan in August, and Target rolled out the Christmas trees alongside Halloween […]

The decline and fall of America’s working class

One big piece of news in the past couple of weeks has been the release of a new paper by recent economics Nobel winner Angus Deaton and his co-author, Anne Case. The paper highlights a very disturbing trend – death rates are increasing for white people in America, especially for working- class, middle-aged whites. The […]

California initiative process alive and well

The Capitol’s Democrats and their biggest allies – unions, particularly – were riding pretty high after the 2012 elections. The party had achieved two-thirds legislative supermajorities and with a Democratic governor in place, its leaders and their allies had an ambitious liberal agenda to pursue. What better time, some thought, to consolidate their control of […]

Lessons for Ben Carson as character questions arise

Ben Carson caught a break when Politico ginned up a story concerning his supposed scholarship to West Point, giving Carson room to wriggle out of a potentially sticky situation. To recap: Politico first reported Carson admitted to fabricating an offer of a full scholarship. Carson’s team responded that he never admitted fabricating anything and that […]

Local decisions perhaps best on certain issues

California and its politicians over the years have taken pride in pushing the policy envelope, setting a pace for the nation as a whole. Decades ago, we led in building freeways, in battling smog that cars on those freeways created and in offering low- or no-cost higher education opportunities. Currently, Gov. Jerry Brown and other […]

Critics ignore bigger, obvious issues

A recent, widely publicized incident in which a policeman was called to a school classroom to deal with a disruptive student has provoked all sorts of comments on whether the policeman used “excessive force.” What has received far less attention, though it is a far larger question, with more sweeping implications, is the role of […]

Christie’s opportunity as Bush falters

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., deservedly is getting most of the headlines, but in the race for the mainstream GOP contender, his potential toppling of Jeb Bush opens opportunities for others. Remember that no matter how “angry” the base is and regardless of how much D.C. pols are out of fashion, the GOP in recent decades […]

Republicans trip over their ‘liberal debate’ victory

WASHINGTON — Where do Republicans get that special talent for turning gold to dross? They score an electoral “massacre” (The Economist) in 2014, and a year later, what do they have to show for it other than another threat to shut down the government? Hillary Clinton is caught in email flagrante and Benghazi mendacity and […]

Rubio most likely Republican nominee

Marco Rubio is the most likely candidate to win the Republican 2016 presidential nomination. I said early on that Rubio was in a first tier of contenders with Jeb Bush and, before he dropped out, Scott Walker. There was a solid case for and against each of them. Well, the case against Walker turned out […]

Obama has a Syria plan, but it’s no quick fix

It’s time to stop this constant refrain that President Barack Obama has no strategy for Syria. There is and always has been a strategy. From 2011 it has been to end the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, primarily through diplomatic rather than military means. Since 2012, the Obama strategy has been to use force […]

November 05, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 6 Replies

Candidates fail to tell how they would govern

The Republican presidential candidates’ three debates have been sometimes compelling, often contentious and always amusing. We’ve learned a lot less about how any of the candidates would govern. They have chiefly relied on cliches, buzzwords and attempts to prove which of them most disdains President Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. There is a similar weakness […]

What went wrong in Libya?

The new Republican SuperPAC Future45 released an ad bashing Hillary Clinton, this one focusing on the Libya disaster. Unlike the House Benghazi committee, the ad sticks to the bigger, more important issue. The ad shows Clinton testifying, “I was responsible for working on the policy, both before and after the end of the Gadhafi regime.” […]

National student test scores confirm poor California performance

The latest national academic tests tell us again that California’s public schools aren’t doing a very good job of educating more than 6 million youngsters. Once again, California finds itself in the bottom tier, with New Mexico and Alabama, in the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests of fourth- and eighth-graders in math and English. […]

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