It is bad enough that we have an official national debt of nearly $19 trillion – not counting, at a minimum, tens of trillions of dollars in unfunded Social Security and Medicare liabilities. But the focus on spending and debt ignores yet another…

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The race for Orange County Board of Education Area 1 sees incumbent Robert Hammond challenged by Tustin Councilwoman Rebecca “Beckie” Gomez and Santa Ana middle school math teacher Paul Zive. While we find Mr. Hammond the most like-minded on many…

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August marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service. Writer Wallace Stegner once described our national parks as “America’s best idea.” If our national parks are our best idea, then establishment of the Park Service was preceded three years earlier by what, at least from a conservationist perspective, could very well be called “America’s worst idea.” That would be the damming of Yosemite National Park’s spectacular Hetch Hetchy Valley, which remains underwater today. …

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Memorial Day often takes me down “hero’s highway.” This particular highway consisted of about a hundred feet of concrete from the helicopter landing pad into the back door of the Air Force field hospital in Balad, Iraq. I remember it well. I was the chaplain there in 2009. I met a lot of heroes, but those I remember today are those whose memorial services I conducted.We called these sacred soldier ceremonies “patriot details,” and they were usually conducted the hour after a soldier died…

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Taiwan made history this year when voters elected its first female president, Tsai Ing-wen. Although her victory was four months ago, she only officially took up her duties last week. Unfortunately, it is clear that the leaders of the Chinese…

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The report on Hillary Clinton’s email by the State Department’s inspector general last week was devastating – not because of how she handled email but because of how she handled investigators. The report’s revelations weren’t particularly revelatory: Clinton violated department policies and went further than predecessors in her use of private email, but she wasn’t the first to take this path. Beyond that, as my colleagues Rosalind Helderman and Tom Hamburger reported, officials say the FBI has “found little evidence that Clinton maliciously flouted classification rules.” But what’s damning in the new report is her obsessive and counterproductive secrecy: The Office of the Inspector General said it “interviewed Secretary Kerry and former Secretaries Albright, Powell and Rice. Through her counsel, Secretary Clinton declined OIG’s request for an interview.” “In addition … eight former Department employees (most of them Clinton aides) declined OIG requests for interviews.” “Two additional individuals did not respond to OIG interview requests.” “OIG sent 26 questionnaires to Secretary Clinton’s staff and received five responses.” The stonewalling creates a firm impression, well captured by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer last week when he interviewed Clinton’s spokesman, Brian Fallon: “If she didn’t do anything wrong and she had nothing to hide, why didn’t she cooperate with the inspector general?” There is no good answer to this. And that’s why the IG report was just another of Clinton’s self-inflicted wounds caused by her tendency toward secrecy and debilitating caution…

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Prospects for a much-hyped interparty debate heat up, fizzle outCalifornia deserves a debate between top Democratic candidatesFront-runner Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders now in a dead heat … »

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Relying on income tax creates revenue volatilityLos Angeles County wants tax powerLocal income taxes could become a monstrosity … Click to Continue »

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In covering President Barack Obama’s first trip to Vietnam, I watched his style and demeanor evolve over three days, giving a hint at what could be a more effective foreign policy ethos toward an erstwhile enemy. After a slate of formal meetings with Communist bigwigs, the president shifted his attention to Vietnamese citizens. He put a rapper on the spot, grinned about his weed-smoking days and blushed at a young man who said he was “so handsome.” His charm offensive aimed at the young population of this country may yield more for U.S.-Vietnamese relations than any palace visit.A few years ago I moved from Sacramento to Ho Chi Minh City and never thought I’d be covering so much U.S. news from this corner of Asia, or how challenging it would be to report on a visit by the president of the United States. …

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On June 7, Californians in 89 jurisdictions will vote on $6.6 billion in local taxesThis is a normal ballot in a state where the tax system is anything but normalThoughtful state policymakers need to find better ways to fund government … Click to Continue »

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National Nurses United helps fuel Bernie Sanders’ campaignHillary Clinton underestimates the nurses’ power at her perilAsk Meg Whitman what it’s like to face the nurses’ union … Click to Continue »

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California is renowned for the extent to which its citizens are allowed to make law at the ballot box. But heading for Gov.

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Los Angeles County supervisors are pressing Sacramento for authority to place a “millionaire’s tax” on the Nov. 8 ballot to pay for an ambitious program to combat homelessness. State Senate leader Kevin de León wants to help house the homeless by using part of an entirely different, but already…

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Google’s federal court victory over Oracle on Thursday is a win for Silicon Valley innovation. If it holds up on appeal, it will be a green light for software developers to keep creating the Next Big Thing. To much of the world, the six-year lawsuit was all about whether brash Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison could force one of his biggest rivals to hand him a $9 billion check: a mano a mano tech battle for the ages…

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Last week, the State Department’s independent watchdog, the Office of the Inspector General, issued a report on Clinton’s “email records management.” Given the family’s extensive history of being under investigation, she of all lawyers had to know that government correspondence belongs to the people, not the placeholders. The secretary of state was so busy trying to protect her self-interest that she repeatedly ignored warnings about cybersecurity risks. …

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A number of false and misleading assertions have been made about Measure A, the proposal on the June 7 ballot to create an independent Orange County campaign finance and ethics commission. We’d like to set the record straight. • The commission…

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Several years ago, the Pew Center on the States released an important report that caught the attention of criminal justice officials, policymakers and the public. The report found more than one in 100 American adults was confined to an American jail…

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SACRAMENTO – The latest round of gun-control bills speeding through the Legislature should offer a reality check to those of us who own firearms: Democratic leaders will never be satisfied closing the latest round of “loopholes.” Every year…

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How to best track the progress of California’s public schools and hold them accountable for educating students continues to spur debate. In 2013, California’s Local Control Funding Formula law streamlined education funding, giving school…

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State lawmakers should be working to braoden disclsoure, not restrict it

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Presumptive GOP presidential nominee speaks to less-than-capacity crowd at Selland ArenaTrump’s speech should raise serious questions about his credentials to be presidentPromises aplenty from presumed Republican standard bearer who shows he knows little about Valley … »

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The California Coastal Commission’s reputation is in tatters after the February firing of venerable director Charles Lester, who refused to cozy up to developers hoping to trash the state’s 1,100 miles of coastal glory from Oregon to Mexico. Meanwhile, Gov. …

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Gangs have turned East Bay freeways into battle zones. Twenty-eight shootings since November resulted in four dead, 12 injured.

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Prospects for a much-hyped interparty debate heat up, fizzle outCalifornia deserves a debate between top Democratic candidatesFront-runner Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders now in a dead heat … Click to Continue »

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Jack Ohman: Billable Hour… | The Sacramento Bee Sign In Subscribe Jack Ohman Jack Ohman: Billable Hour… i Jack Ohman: Billable Hour… …

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One morning this month started like any ordinary day. I walked my dog, was running late for work and hurried out to my car to find a piece of paper on my windshield. As a longtime resident of midtown Sacramento finding fliers shoved under my windshield wipers is a common annoyance, but I noticed this one was different than the typical laminated postcard-style advertisement. A symbol that looked like a swastika was the first thing I saw. …

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In many aspects, the 1990s in America can be seen as a decade of fear – a race-based fear that an underclass was rapidly eroding our way of life.Many believed alarming crime rates, welfare policies and sexual irresponsibility had pushed America to the brink. Something had to be done about “welfare queens” and “super predators,” the thinking went.In response, state and federal legislators, Democrats and Republicans, passed tough-on-crime laws that filled our prisons well beyond capacity. “Welfare reform” slashed public assistance and, in too many cases, exiled Americans into extreme poverty.We have begun to re-examine the wisdom, effectiveness and equity of our crime laws of the 1990s. It’s time we also review California’s “maximum family grant” rule, a discriminatory measure passed more than 20 years ago to coerce poor women to stop having children.We can right this wrong in the next few weeks as the Legislature and governor finalize California’s 2016-17 budget. …

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In many aspects, the 1990s in America can be seen as a decade of fear – a race-based fear that an underclass was rapidly eroding our way of life.Many believed alarming crime rates, welfare policies and sexual irresponsibility had pushed America to the brink. Something had to be done about “welfare queens” and “super predators,” the thinking went.In response, state and federal legislators, Democrats and Republicans, passed tough-on-crime laws that filled our prisons well beyond capacity. “Welfare reform” slashed public assistance and, in too many cases, exiled Americans into extreme poverty.We have begun to re-examine the wisdom, effectiveness and equity of our crime laws of the 1990s. It’s time we also review California’s “maximum family grant” rule, a discriminatory measure passed more than 20 years ago to coerce poor women to stop having children.We can right this wrong in the next few weeks as the Legislature and governor finalize California’s 2016-17 budget. …

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Way back in 1873, Congress investigated the financing of the transcontinental railroad, which involved the distribution of shares in the shadowy firm Credit Mobilier to members of the House, the vice president and others in the Garfield administration. Its conclusion was that bribery had occurred,…

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We know all about the benefits in store for us when big hospital chains merge and bigger health insurance companies grow even bigger:  Lower prices. More efficient healthcare. More innovation…

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