Posts By Author » Debra Saunders
Woodward-Sperling Flap May Turn Tide
3 Mar 2013 12:02 am
There is a rule in Politics 2013 that’s evident in the flap about a White House aide’s maybe threatening or not threatening Washington Post veteran reporter Bob Woodward. The rule: The more superficial the brouhaha the bigger its impact.
What public figures say is more important than what they do, because cable TV and political blogs can cover a mud fight more cheaply and more easily than they can a real story.
Quick synopsis: Woodward has reported doggedly on the White House’s role in putting “sequester” cuts — $85 billion this year …
Will Dumb Cuts Trump Smart Cuts?
28 Feb 2013 12:04 am
When Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., met with the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board last week, she said reasonable people could pass a bill to apply $85 billion in sequester cuts more surgically. Too bad she’s a member of Congress.
When Editorial Page Editor John Diaz asked whether she considers the scale of the cuts to be “reasonable and doable,” she answered, “Yes, I do.”
Alas, the Democrats’ top budget man, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., believes that cutting $85 billion out of a $3.6 trillion budget is unthinkable, even to slow the …
In Denial Over ‘Zero Dark Thirty’
26 Feb 2013 12:03 am
You’ve got to admit that it’s awfully precious that there was a huge controversy about “Zero Dark Thirty” because Kathryn Bigelow’s film suggested that enhanced interrogation techniques helped intelligence officials find Osama bin Laden but no controversy about the final mission in the movie — to kill, but not capture, the al-Qaida leader.
Some of the film’s defenders believe that the controversy robbed “Zero Dark Thirty,” Bigelow, actress Jessica Chastain and screenwriter Mark Boal of well-deserved Oscars. Maybe so but maybe not; a number of fine films were up for best …
Does This Broomstick Go With My Prison Stripes?
24 Feb 2013 12:02 am
In its wisdom — and yes, I am being ironic — the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco issued a ruling Tuesday that revives a California inmate lawsuit to force the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to hire a paid, full-time Wiccan chaplain. Oddly, the three-judge panel found that the complaint “did not contain sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory under the First Amendment.” Nonetheless, the court overturned a federal judge’s 2011 dismissal of the lawsuit.
It’s enough to make you wonder whether Samantha twitched …
If You’re a Taxpayer, You’re With Stupid
21 Feb 2013 12:03 am
If President Barack Obama, the Republican House and the Democratic Senate cannot cut $85 billion from this year’s $3.8 trillion budget without laying off first responders, tying up airport security lines and furloughing food safety inspectors, what good are they?
The answer is: Not much. It turns out we elect lawmakers so they can hold our time and safety hostage. When Congress passed and the president signed the 2011 Budget Control Act, all parties agreed that the act’s $1.2 trillion in “sequester” cuts over 10 years would be so terrible that …
God Bless You, Sen. Feinstein
17 Feb 2013 12:02 am
Sen. Dianne Feinstein began her war on allergy and cold sufferers in 2005. In an effort to prevent small-time dealers from buying allergy and cold drugs and cooking them into methamphetamine, she pushed through legislation requiring consumers to show identification before purchasing products with pseudoephedrine — otherwise known as the good allergy drugs, known only to those who know enough to ask for them.
Now Feinstein wants to make you get a prescription from a doctor before you buy these drugs.
In 2005, I thought Feinstein’s Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act wrongly punished …
Treatment of the Fort Hood Victims
15 Feb 2013 12:02 am
In 2010, Kimberly Munley sat next to Michelle Obama as President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address. Munley was invited as a hero of the 2009 Fort Hood shootings. As a civilian police officer, Munley fired back after Maj. Nidal Hasan allegedly opened fire in an attack that killed 13 adults and wounded 32. Munley was shot three times. Her partner, Mark Todd, fired the shots that brought down Hasan and ended the carnage.
Three years later, Munley told ABC News reporter Brian Ross, she feels “betrayed,” as …
Bickering Over, Not Building, Bay Bridge
12 Feb 2013 12:03 am
In his column Sunday, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown wrote that on Labor Day weekend, he’ll be preening at the Bay Bridge opening ceremony, taking credit for obstructing plans to rebuild the Bay Bridge so that it could be the “the world-class wonder” he knows it will be.
“What gall,” quoth Judge Quentin Kopp, the lonely Bay Area politician who actually pushed to rebuild the bridge quickly.
If I were Brown or one of his fellow local pols, I would be hiding my head in shame. When the new and improved …
Wash Your Bags — Or Else
10 Feb 2013 12:02 am
San Francisco passed America’s first ban on plastic bags in chain groceries and drugstores in 2007. In a research paper for the Institute for Law and Economics, law professors Jonathan Klick and Joshua Wright crunched state and federal data on emergency room admissions and food-borne illness deaths and figured that the San Francisco ban “led to an increase in infections immediately upon implementation.”
They found a 46 percent rise in food-borne illness deaths. The bottom line: “Our results suggest that the San Francisco ban led to, conservatively, 5.4 annual additional deaths.”
Worse Than Waterboarding
7 Feb 2013 12:05 am
On Tuesday, NBC released a confidential Department of Justice paper concluding that our government can authorize the use of drones to kill targeted terrorist leaders, including U.S. citizens abroad. This story bares the dividing line between honest liberals — such as Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the American Civil Liberties Union and the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board, all of whom opposed some of the harsher anti-terrorism tactics employed under President George W. Bush’s administration and under the current administration — and rank opportunists, such as President Barack Obama, Vice President …View More...
What Obama Does Best: Taunt Republicans
5 Feb 2013 12:03 am
President Barack Obama is not committed to fixing Washington’s chronic budget woes or jump-starting an ailing an economy, but that doesn’t mean this administration lacks focus. If there is one area in which this administration delivers, it is taunting Republicans.
Think Lucy teasing Charlie Brown with the football — except in this case, Lucy is a twice-elected president who ought to have better things to do, such as getting Washington to work.
Three recent examples:
The White House released a photo of the president skeet shooting, in reaction to the press corps’ skepticism …
He’s Mad as Hell and Not Going to Invest Anymore
3 Feb 2013 12:03 am
“Why this fat cat likes Obama’s tax plan” was the headline of a full-page ad La Jolla, Calif., investor Norman Lizt took out in The New York Times in August.
No, it wasn’t really an endorsement. Lizt wrote that he has been a successful investor over the years, but if Americans re-elected President Barack Obama and his proposed tax hike became law, Lizt would face a marginal tax rate of “well over 50 percent.” He wrote, “This represents the crossing of an inviolate threshold to me and is entirely unacceptable.”
Lizt explained …
Running With Scissors
31 Jan 2013 12:03 am
If you thought Republican presidential hopefuls were insane to refuse to raise their hands during a 2011 primary debate when asked whether they’d support a deficit reduction deal with $10 in spending cuts to $1 in tax increases, look at Washington today. In August 2011, President Barack Obama signed a debt ceiling deal that promised more than $2 trillion in spending cuts over a decade and zero dollars in new revenue.
The package included $1.2 trillion in “sequestration” cuts — $85 billion this year out of a $3.8 trillion federal budget …
Ploy of Voter Preregistration
29 Jan 2013 12:03 am
California state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson has introduced a bill to allow 15-year-olds to preregister to vote.
“I would like to engage young people in the political process at the earliest point in time. If young people get invested in the process earlier, they’ll be likelier to vote,” Jackson said Monday.
To my mind, the reason Jackson is pushing this bill is clear. She’s a Democrat. She wants to boost Democratic voter registration. What better way to find Democrats than to recruit kids before they have earned a paycheck or paid a dime …
Gov. Brown Does the Sacramento Choo-Choo
27 Jan 2013 12:17 am
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Jerry Brown gives great speeches with unusual quotes that never let the listener forget he is a former seminarian. In that spirit during his State of the State address Thursday, Brown quoted jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes, told a story from Genesis and marveled at the “mysterious cycle in human events” observed by Franklin D. Roosevelt. He moved on to Michel de Montaigne and Irish poet William Butler Yeats. But then Brown ventured into the land he rarely visits, the land of words with one syllable. He …View More...
What Doesn’t Matter to Hillary Clinton
25 Jan 2013 12:02 am
“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a hearing on the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi, Libya, which left U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith and Glen Doherty dead. “It is our job to figure …View More...
5 Things To Like About Obama
22 Jan 2013 12:03 am
As President Barack Obama’s second term commences, I thought I’d write about the things I liked in his first term. Here are five:
1) Obama is a great role model — and not simply as a black American who broke racial barriers. Obama is a strong role model for the adult male — a husband who cherishes his wife, a father who nurtures his daughters. Obama has shown the country how a youthful yet mature man takes care of his family.
2) Obama authorized the mission that brought Osama bin Laden to …
Obama’s Promise Could Send You to Prison
20 Jan 2013 12:02 am
Like a lot of Californians, Stockton businessman Matt Davies, 34, expected that when Barack Obama was elected in 2008, the new administration would not prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries operating under a law passed by California voters in 1996. After all, as a candidate, Obama contended that he saw federal enforcement against medical marijuana as a waste of resources.
On Oct. 19, 2009, Deputy Attorney General David Ogden released a memo that instructed the Department of Justice not to focus federal resources “on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance …
Obama’s Gun Plan: Divide or Conquer
17 Jan 2013 12:04 am
If I were president, what would I do in the wake of the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook School shooting, which left 20 first-graders and six adults dead, if I wanted not only to advance an ambitious initiative to reduce gun violence but also to sign a law that actually worked?
To punctuate what is at stake, I might launch my effort, as President Barack Obama did Wednesday, in a ceremony with children who had written to me after the school shooting.
I also might invite children scarred by the daily urban shootings, …
White House Press Corps Going Through the Motions
16 Jan 2013 2:02 am
You know that old saying that there are no dumb questions? It’s not true. I know. As a journalist, I’ve asked my share of stupid questions. Yet even in the context of my own shortcomings, I do not understand what the White House press corps is thinking during what passes for a news conference in the Obama White House.
Consider Monday’s news conference. The last presser of President Barack Obama’s first term spanned 53 minutes. Seven reporters asked questions — after Obama called on them as if according to script. In …