August 4, 2011
If nothing else, the extended debate over raising the federal debt ceiling, which brought the country to the brink of economic catastrophe, demonstrated that this Congress was unusually willing to risk doing extreme harm to the nation in order to score political points. Ultimately, lawmakers stepped back from the edge on that issue — but when it came to funding the Federal Aviation Administration, they jumped off a cliff. Because Congress failed to approve a temporary spending measure for the FAA before leaving town for the rest of August, 4,000 FAA employees have been furloughed, airport construction projects have been halted, 70,000 construction workers have been idled, and the federal government stands to lose roughly $1 billion in uncollected airline ticket taxes.
July 21, 2011
The din of partisan bickering in Washington subsided briefly this week when six Republican and Democratic senators unveiled a long-awaited proposal to rein in the runaway federal deficit. The so-called Gang of Six made the same point that a slew of nonpartisan and bipartisan budget commissions have made over the last year: Washington's fiscal problems are so big that solving them will be painful for all concerned. The question is whether enough members of Congress can accept that premise and embrace a deal that forces both parties out of their ideological corners.
July 19, 2011
We didn't just survive "Carmageddon" last weekend, we basked in it. Neighbors had dinner together. Angelenos strolled to their local coffee shops and biked around town. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky gushed that Los Angeles residents "have turned Carmageddon into Carmaheaven. " People waxed wistfully that we should do this every weekend. Well, no, we can't do it every weekend. Just as Carmageddon was a construction success because time was built into the schedule for things to go wrong (nothing did)
July 13, 2011 |
Drinking six to eight glasses of water each day is healthful, most health experts agree. But apparently not everyone is on the same page. A general practitioner from Scotland says that health advice is “thoroughly debunked nonsense” and is propagated by bottled water companies out to make a profit. In a commentary published online in the British Medical Journal , Margaret McCartney quotes experts that say drinking too much water can cause hyponatremia (low sodium levels in the blood)
July 6, 2011
A prosecutor assigned to investigate the CIA's use of torture has decided not to recommend further investigation of as many as 100 CIA interrogations of detainees over the last decade. That judgment ensures that there will not be a full accounting of how, when and by whom "enhanced interrogation techniques" were employed to extract information. That is a loss to the nation. The prosecutor, John Durham, did advise the Justice Department to continue an investigation in two cases in which detainees died in custody.
June 28, 2011
Day after day, Frank McCourt manages to expose the Los Angeles Dodgers, the once-revered franchise he now owns, to new indignities. His feud with Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig prompted Selig to install a representative to examine the team's finances. McCourt has struggled for the last few months to scrounge up the cash to make the team's payroll. And now, in an effort to hold off Selig and maintain control of the team, he's put the Dodgers into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. We're hardly in a position to deride bankruptcy protection — for better or worse, it's an accepted tool in the modern business kit — but McCourt's use of it suggests his desperation in his increasingly shrill campaign to keep the team he bought in 2004.
June 27, 2011
When the Supreme Court rules in favor of power plants in a global warming case, the initial reaction is dismay. But the effort to control carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions won't be greatly set back by last week's unanimous decision rejecting a lawsuit by California and five other states against four power companies and the Tennessee Valley Authority. The states had sought to limit the greenhouse gases emitted by the power plants, but their lawsuit had a problem: It was brought not under the Clean Air Act but under the common law doctrine known as "public nuisance.
June 21, 2011
John Bryson's nomination to be President Obama's next secretary of Commerce has been met with the predictable combination of delusion and obstructionism that characterizes the modern confirmation process. Some Senate Republicans vow to hold him hostage to the passage of several long-sought free-trade agreements; others insist they will reject him based on his presumed politics, which they wish were more like theirs. None has advanced an argument worthy of defeating this nomination, and though sensible people will withhold a final judgment until after Bryson is questioned, his credentials are encouraging, as are the endorsements of those who know him. Bryson is a familiar figure in Los Angeles.
April 29, 2011
To help balance the city's budget, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa made what appeared to be an irresistible offer to thousands of public employees: If they agreed to pay more of the cost of their retirement benefits and to delay a promised pay hike, the city would stop the furloughs that were shrinking their paychecks. Groups representing more than two-thirds of the workers covered by the proposed contract amendment accepted it, but four did not. Those rejections suggest that the naysayers weren't given the right incentive to support the deal.
April 20, 2011
The winning electoral coalition assembled by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s has been compared to a three-legged stool, the legs being social conservatives, fiscal conservatives and national security conservatives. As the 2012 Republican race takes shape, another leg has been added to the stool — the "tea party" movement. Last week, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney announced that he was setting up an exploratory committee (though it's hardly a secret what he'll discover), as did former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.