October 16, 2012 |
When Barack Obama and Mitt Romney hit the stage Tuesday night at Hofstra University on Long Island for the second of three presidential debates, they'll be responding to questions submitted by a town hall-style audience, who will determine the content of the conversation. It's a controlled chaos, but a chaos nonetheless, one that gets to the heart of American democracy. And yet, suggests Richard Beeman, former chairman of the history department of the University of Pennsylvania, our democracy faces a growing paradox: that, while “there is an abundance of evidence establishing that the vast majority of Americans, whatever their political differences, have an intense love of country … there is an equally large body of evidence suggesting that Americans' knowledge of their history and of the way in which their institutions have worked over the course of that history is embarrassingly meager.” Beeman's statement comes in the introduction to a new series, Penguin's “Civic Classics”: six small paperbacks that seeks to gather our most essential documents, among them as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and a collection of Supreme Court cases, spanning two centuries.
September 16, 2012
Re "Fire dispatch script blamed for CPR delays," Sept. 14 Reading your article concerning the myriad questions (many irrelevant) that Fire Department dispatchers must ask before sending help made me wonder where common sense factors in situations such as this. Some other examples: Isn't it common sense that a politician accused of doing something illegal should be fired immediately? Isn't it common sense that teachers unions need to be reined in, given the state of our school systems and that tenure as we know it has outlived its usefulness?
August 23, 2012 |
The good news is that rush-rush efforts to reform the state's bedrock environmental law have stalled for this session. As the Times editorial board called for Wednesday, last-minute legislation to change the California Environmental Quality Act will be placed into "pre-print" so that the public can read it during the fall, and the bill will be formally introduced next session. There's plenty of room for making CEQA fairer and more business-friendly, the board noted, without undermining its protective nature that requires builders to forecast the effects their projects will have on the environment and take steps to reduce the damage.
August 23, 2012 |
In the U.S., Toyota Motor Corp. is best known for conservatively styled, reliable, but often boring cars. It's considered the Maytag of the auto business. Toyota's advertising pretty much follows the same theme. Overseas, the automaker appears to have shattered the mold in a commercial for the Auris, a Corolla not sold in the U.S. The commercial opens with a model -- nude save for an open jacket and a skimpy bikini bottom -- strutting toward the new car. Meticulously coifed long blond hair streams behind as the curvy model strips off the jacket and faces the camera.
July 24, 2012
Re "Santa Monica goes too far," Editorial, July 22 Your editorial on Santa Monica's pending ban on smoking in condo and apartment units says the proposal intrudes too far into the "lives and homes of residents. " The law does absolutely nothing to curtail current residents' smoking rights. It covers only prospective residents who, by definition, are not yet residents when they learn that the unit they are considering is a nonsmoking unit. They can choose to reside in a community with smoking units.
July 23, 2012 |
“You didn't build that” stands a good chance of becoming one of the indelible, hot-button phrases of Campaign 2012. Mitt Romney and Republicans will use President Obama's words to attack him as the business-unfriendly Bureaucrat in Chief. Democrats will defend the sentiment as common sense - suggesting only that no one who succeeds in business makes it entirely on their own. Obama's words about private enterprise resonate because they fit into perennial themes: the conservative notion that only unfettered individuals can build a rich and free society vs. the liberal idea that society (and sometimes government)
May 18, 2012
In"Lovely Molly,"a young woman moves with her new husband back into her family's empty old house. She immediately begins behaving strangely, as if the house itself exerts some mysterious power - whether she is being overtaken by bad memories and old habits or something supernatural is initially unclear. If the story sounds somewhat similar to the recent Elizabeth Olsen vehicle"Silent House,"it is, and unfortunately, "Lovely Molly" and its star, newcomer Gretchen Lodge, only suffer in comparison.
March 23, 2012 |
Upon finding himself trapped in a Lucite coffin in the opening minutes of the silly thriller "Brake," Secret Service agent Jeremy Reins (Stephen Dorff) figures he's being shaken down for his outstanding gambling debts. Upon finding yourself trapped with Dorff for 91 minutes, you may correctly remember that Rodrigo Cortés' 2010 morality play "Buried" took the same, single-setting premise to places far more interesting than the empty cynicism found here. Agent Reins quickly learns that the stakes are bigger than those at the card games he frequents.
December 24, 2011 |
Twenty-eight years ago, I was a producer on a film based in Tokyo when, just before the Thanksgiving holiday, I was called back to America to deal with a production emergency. The company I worked for was based in Marin County in Northern California, and there I found myself all alone on Thanksgiving Day. Wallowing in self-pity, I took myself off to one of the charming villages of Marin County, found a Country Kitchen-like restaurant, sat down to the Thanksgiving Special, and gave absolutely no thanks for the mendacious accountant who had run off with some of the production's funds.
December 5, 2011
With Congress lurching toward adjournment after a year rich in drama but poor in accomplishment, lawmakers have to decide whether to renew a handful of tax and spending measures that could have significant effects on the economy. Their job is complicated by the uncertain state of the recovery; although the housing market remains grim, there are hints in other sectors that the economy is gaining steam. We think it's too early yet for Congress to stop trying to stimulate growth, but Washington still needs to be smart about how it does so. And some of the proposals coming out of the White House and Capitol Hill don't pass that test.