By Steve Hochstadt
I just spent a weekend in Charleston, South Carolina, giving a talk about my research on Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany who spent the war in Shanghai. I was barely a mile from Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began.
South Carolina is one of the reddest states, giving 55 percent of its votes to Romney. Now I'm back at home in Illinois, one of the bluer states, so safe for Democrats that Obama did not even campaign in his home state. Red state, blue state - what's the difference?
By Robert Cruickshank
Two pieces of transit funding news came out of Los Angeles today. The first is that the L.A. Streetcar won its vote among downtown property owners to create a local taxing district and raise $125 million in revenue to begin building a streetcar line.
Unfortunately, we also learned that Measure J, the Los Angeles County Metro transit tax extension that would have helped deliver more rail projects sooner “failed.” It received 66.11% of the vote, a huge landslide victory in almost any other race. But because of the rule requiring a two-thirds vote for most local taxes, Measure J had to get 66.66%.
By Mark Naison
This is a daunting time to be a teacher in the United States of America. At work, almost every day brings word of a new test, a new assessment, a new rubric for accountability that makes teachers and students jump through another hoop.
Media and elected officials add to the stress and anxiety. It is rare that there isn't another public declaration of devotion to the cause of "Education Reform," which teachers have learned to interpret to mean another attack on their professional integrity and another chance to blame teachers for the nation's failure to be competitive on international tests, or reduce poverty and inequality.
By Anthony Wright
Yesterday, a new California legislature got sworn in for the 2013-14 legislative session, with new members, new margins, and a renewed mission to implement health reform and improve health care in general.
Both Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John A. Perez mentioned health issues in their opening remarks after being formally re-elected to their leadership posts.
In talking about the budget, Senator Steinberg specifically highlighted the cut of dental coverage in Medi-Cal as a major cut that was made in bleaker budget days, and one he will work to restore. He recalled going to a free dental clinic at Cal Expo, and seeing endless lines of people (mostly working families) requiring root canals and dental surgery, who had put off basic care for years.
By Liza Tucker
Who would want two companies, Tesoro and Chevron, to control more than half of California's gasoline market? Only people, like oil company executives, who think paying five dollars a gallon should be the new normal.
That could happen, though, if a deal goes through for Tesoro to buy BP's refinery in Carson and its low-cost Arco brand. In California, the ninth largest economy in the world, gasoline refineries have shrunk from 32 in the mid-1980s to just 14, owned by only a handful of companies. The more consolidated a market, the more tempting it is to make more money by producing and selling less gasoline. California's gasoline market is so consolidated that it is now geared to shortages and scarcity, which is why a few refinery outages and some scheduled refinery maintenance can cause a price spike of the sort you should only see in the wake of a real disaster.
By John MacMurray
One lesson this past election taught us was that there are a lot of men in this country who seem to think that women, collectively and individually, are not very smart.
Not smart enough to be hold public office, not smart enough to have a career without a man's help, and not even smart enough to know how their own bodies work unless men explain it to them.
This being their case, let's walk these gentlemen through an entire day where they won't have to have anything to do with stuff invented by "gur-ruls."
By Rev. Jim Conn
Despite the conventional wisdom that Southern California only has one season, some wag suggested it does indeed have four: Fires, floods, earthquakes and riots. So far this year we've had none of those, for which I am grateful, and I hope our luck holds.
I say luck because Los Angeles County leads the state in fire risk. Of the million homes in California in high-risk fire areas, half are in our county. Seven of the 10 most expensive fires in the U.S. since 1990 have been in California, and insurers paid some $5 billion in wildfire claims in 2003, 2007 and 2008.
By David Dayen
In the context of doing a deficit reduction deal at all, this is an extremely strong bid that Tim Geithner delivered to John Boehner today. Now we know why Boehner whined and cried all afternoon. Let's walk through it.
House Republicans said on Thursday that Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner presented the House speaker, John A. Boehner, a detailed proposal to avert the year-end fiscal crisis with $1.6 trillion in tax increases over 10 years, an immediate new round of stimulus spending, home mortgage refinancing and a permanent end to Congressional control over statutory borrowing limits.
By Lisa Schiff
Re-electing President Obama may have felt like a huge accomplishment, but it was really just the beginning of the work to come. With the rather low-key confirmation that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be continuing on into the second term, the President gave the clear signal that federal education policies and strategies will remain essentially the same, meaning a continued emphasis on competitive grants, further support for privatization via charter schools, and a focus on formulaic assessment of students, teachers and the overall quality and outcomes of our educational system. Arne Duncan was a troubling choice from the outset and his actions as Secretary proved those worries to be well-founded. In other words, we have nothing to be excited about and much to be gravely concerned over.
By Duane Campbell
The Sacramento Bee editorial board started in the right direction in their editorial of November 26, 2012 by calling for small steps to avoid the "fiscal cliff". Then, strangely, they list small steps that only call for compromise as advocated by the Republican-austerity side. While unemployment remains high and economic growth slow, we do not need more austerity. If you want some small steps, President Obama suggested that we extend the Bush era tax reductions for the bottom 98% of earners. This is a proposal that almost everyone agrees with - or at least say they agree with. Then, we can disagree over the 2%, and work out a compromise.