Parkland shooting fallout highlighting worst instincts

cpzl9man4o6wThere was a time when I watched Fox News fairly regularly, when Megyn Kelly still had her nightly show and before Greta van Susteren departed for the presumably friendly confines of MSNBC. Even Sean Hannity’s brand of ad hominem was tolerable because he still brought in dissenters like Prof. Cornel West and Austin Goolsbee and wasn’t as prone to launching on-air rants. By the time Kelly switched to the Today Show, van Susteren was dumped by MSNBC and Hannity endorsed Roy Moore for the Alabama special election I lost my interest in Fox News. Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham’s ascendance into prime time only sealed the channel’s fate. The content didn’t bother me much. I still listen to Rush Limbaugh to get a sense of what the ‘other’ side is thinking and hear some interesting perspectives in the caller’s comments. They’re not as predictably pro-Trump as one would expect; some are more than willing to put principle before loyalty. Continue reading

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April 8, 2018 · 3:21 am

Budget fight drags on as observers groan at result

government-shutdown-cartoon-beelerWhen PJ O’Rourke submitted Thrown under the Omnibus to his editor the author couldn’t have known he was forecasting a bit of jargon that would be used years later in a different context. Budget battles like the one that led to a recently-signed $1.3 trillion leviathan have been cloaked in terms like 2011’s “fiscal cliff,” which gave way to the mysteriously-labeled bundle branded as ‘sequestration.’ While writing for Wonkblog in 2012 Suzy Khimm described it as “automatic spending cuts” of $1.2 trillion evenly divided between military and domestic outlays. After a partial shutdown and ahead of possible defaults in an ongoing battle over the US debt ceiling, lawmakers reached a deal brokered by Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray. Congress has not been known as a good manager of taxpayer dollars, yet managed to reach new levels of…financial liberty by agreeing to spend roughly $1 trillion in 2014 and 2015. Continue reading

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April 1, 2018 · 11:42 pm

House Russia inquiry on a slow track to nowhere

694940094001_5750073288001_5750069600001-vsAfter months of wrangling it came as no surprise when the House Intelligence Committee released a final report signaling there was no collusion between Russian hackers and the Trump campaign. Democrats were indignant and vowed to press on while calling the report ‘incomplete’ and citing the consensus among US intelligence agencies that Russians, regardless of method, aimed to help candidate Trump. Whatever one thinks of the panel’s efforts, reportedly involving 73 witnesses and 300,000 pages of documents, the resulting product is more political than legal. The House committee’s inquiry started breaking down once Chairman Devin Nunes took it upon himself to visit the White House and brief the president about allegations his “wires” had been tapped with help from Britain’s GCHQ. The trend continued while Adam Schiff toured cable television and managed to reveal enough information the ranking Democrat was pressed to recuse himself from what was an open investigation. Continue reading

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March 29, 2018 · 11:19 pm

Trump’s “easy” trade war built on a House of cards

rally-on-the-range-21Something was different about President Trump’s declaration on tariffs in early March that set it apart from his wacky statement on guns and due process. Republicans who had avoided criticizing the incumbent were no longer silent; Rep. Paul Ryan is the most prominent critic on Capitol Hill, noting he is “worried about the consequences of a trade war.” While anything but compelling, Ryan’s stand marks a break with the president over what could devolve into a trade war the former real estate mogul believes is “good” and “easy” to “win big.” It’s not unusual for the onetime mogul to gloss over unpleasant details with grandiose claims, but his decision begs an obvious question. Why here and why now? It could serve as a well-timed shot-across-the-bow that helps US trade representatives negotiating changes to NAFTA secure a deal that is, according to the White House, “fair” to the US. In a different environment the president’s ploy could work. Continue reading

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March 26, 2018 · 11:33 pm

When Clouds cross the sky, don’t ask El Sol why: chapter 4

santa-barbara-sambos-lgOn a soggy Sunday morning: Mark was the first to stir as the sun’s rays began streaking through the clouds shading the coastal city, the night’s clear sky had given way to a mist he could almost touch. The onetime Wildcat looked outside, then around the cabin while searching for his phone.

After yawning and stretching where he could Mark mumbled to nobody in particular “it’s 8:30, doesn’t look like 8:30…does it?”

Once the door was open and the nominal captain climbed out he heard a familiar voice.

“Going somewhere Solo?”

Mark turned to find Claire was not only awake, but had rolled down the window and was pointedly staring at him.

“Just heading to the front desk to check in and get our keys, wanna’ come with?”

She laughed, then replied “sure, I could use a little exercise.” Continue reading

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February 28, 2018 · 4:28 am

Trusting management in La-La Land, with conditions

dm_170117_nba_one-play_lakers_randle_and_oneAfter several years of clumsy rebuilding at Staples Center, one mantra stood tall over the proceedings: a desire that fans “trust the process.” It was mostly implied, often relayed by writers and pundits without word from the front office, but the plea for patience persisted. Trust doesn’t come easy when progress was measured in half-steps before the first lottery pick and stalled when Julius Randle was lost for the entire season on opening night. A year later the purple-and-gold drafted D’Angelo Russell after one season at Ohio State; Earvin Johnson believed the team found a “future superstar,” then watched as the former Buckeye was taken out of the starting lineup. At the time Russell was a risk worth taking after earning Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors and being named to the Big Ten first team. It took a season or two and a new management team to decide Russell wasn’t in the Lakers’ future. Continue reading

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February 23, 2018 · 1:26 am

Sessions is wrong about weed, yet Becerra isn’t right

jeffsessionsweedThe familial squabble between state and federal regulators over the only plant so (in)famous to inspire a loopy bit of 1950s film paranoia goes back decades. It turns out that when Californians voted for Proposition 215 and joined the movement for legalized medical use of cannabis it unwittingly became a part of the legal fight this Justice Department has since taken up. When Jeff Sessions announced his decision to overturn the Cole memorandum the attorney general put fresh fuel on a simmering fire. At its heart this battle represents a failure in Washington DC. A standing dispute over the status of some 11 million undocumented immigrants paved the way for states like New Mexico and Maryland to issue driver’s licenses; there are several examples of states coping by offering in-state tuition or Medicaid access. The problems each one is facing, when combined with a population that remains present and “in the shadows” could lead to no other conclusion. Continue reading

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January 18, 2018 · 4:32 am