March 6, 2013
With all due respect to the groundhog, it was voters who came out Tuesday and saw their city's shadow, guaranteeing 11 more weeks of campaigning. That's no cause for celebration in a Los Angeles weary of shallow debate answers and silly campaign mailers. Not that this campaign season has been shallower or sillier than most, but it certainly has been uninspiring. The candidates, by and large, were unimaginative; all too often they pandered or ducked the tough issues. Is that how it's going to be between now and May 21 in the runoffs?
March 6, 2013
House Republicans often complain that Senate Democrats have been lax on fiscal matters because they haven't approved a budget resolution since 2009. But those resolutions are largely symbolic; the real spending decisions are made in the dozen appropriations bills that Congress is supposed to pass by Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year. And on that score, the House GOP leadership failed miserably last year, and is about to do so again. This week the leadership plans to bring up a bill to fund the federal government's operations for the final six months of fiscal 2013.
March 4, 2013
Los Angeles on Tuesday begins a far-reaching overhaul of its city government, voting for a new mayor and controller, and voting as well for city attorney and to fill more than half the City Council and nearly half the school board and Community College District board of trustees. Nonpartisan city and school elections differ from California legislative and congressional elections, in which runoffs between the two highest vote-getters are now guaranteed. In Tuesday's election, a candidate can avoid a runoff by winning more than 50% of the vote.
March 1, 2013
President Obama's decision to provide the Syrian opposition with another $60 million in aid - while continuing to withhold weapons - will disappoint those who have argued that the United States should step up its role in the battle to overthrow President Bashar Assad. But the administration is right: Arming the rebels now would be a mistake. On Thursday, Secretary of State John F. Kerry announced the new aid program, which he said would help the Syrian opposition coalition deliver food, medicine, sanitation and education.
February 28, 2013
At a forum held by the Univision broadcasting network in September, President Obama said the most important lesson he'd learned in his first term was that "you can't change Washington from the inside; you can only change it from the outside. " That helps explain why he has issued a barrage of public statements and made a slew of appearances in the past week aimed at persuading congressional Republicans to cancel looming across-the-board cuts in federal spending, rather than meeting with congressional leaders to hammer out a deal.
February 14, 2013
U.S. secretaries of the Interior have seldom been renowned for being … well, renowned. Typically affable former members of Congress who reliably see things according to the president's point of view, they are nearly always Western conservationists, though their agreement on the extent to which natural resources should be exploited can wary widely. Sally Jewell, President Obama's recent nominee for the post, fits that description pretty well, while bringing some additional attributes that suit the president's agenda beautifully.
January 30, 2013
The Los Angeles city attorney does at least two and arguably three jobs. He is the city's advocate in court; the legal advisor to the mayor, City Council and government agencies; and the chief prosecutor of misdemeanors in the city. The office's functions are so disparate that there are periodically calls to break it up, to make the city's counsel an appointed position while still electing the city's prosecutor. That idea is not before voters this spring, but four candidates are: incumbent Carmen Trutanich, former Assemblyman Mike Feuer and private lawyers Greg Smith and Noel Weiss.
January 22, 2013
The House GOP seems to have extricated itself from a bind that could have damaged both the American economy and its own political future. Frustrated by Democrats' opposition, many House Republicans wanted to use the debt ceiling as leverage to force the Senate and the White House to accept deeper spending cuts. But after three days at an annual retreat, party leaders said Friday that they're willing to move the fight over spending to more appropriate times - including the looming debate over funding the federal government after March 27, when the money for most operations runs out. That's a good decision for everyone involved.
January 18, 2013
Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide last week at age 26, leaves behind quite a legacy for someone so young. He was an Internet activist dedicated to promoting the free flow of information online, which made him a hero to many. His most recent milestone was the launch of Demand Progress, a grass-roots lobbying group that helped defeat the Hollywood-backed anti-piracy bills known by the acronyms SOPA and PIPA. His eagerness to "liberate" information that others had locked behind pay walls,however, contributed to his undoing.
January 17, 2013
Gov. Jerry Brown has thrown his support behind expanding Medi-Cal, the health insurance program for impoverished Californians, to the full extent authorized by the 2010 federal healthcare reform law. It was the right choice, and Brown deserves credit for recognizing that the benefits to public health and the economy outweigh the potential costs. But his budget proposal left state lawmakers to decide whether to keep responsibility for the expanded program in Sacramento or hand it off to the counties.