The sky starts to glow as a cool dawn sets in above Chavez Ravine, where a few hundred labor union activists have assembled for a caravan to Bakersfield—a media event, as it were. Their plan is to bother some Republican congressman about the immigration reform legislation currently stuck in the bowels of Congress.
At approximately 10 A.M., on Tuesday, January 7, Sheriff Lee Baca stepped up to a temporary podium in the front courtyard of the Monterey Park headquarters of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. After a short, emotional preface, he glanced at his notes and, running his fingers along the words as he said them, announced that he was leaving his position as the head of the nation’s largest sheriff’s department—effective almost immediately.
Marianne Williamson is competing for attention with a Malibu sunset. It’s nearly 6 p.m. on a Sunday, and about 200 people—from tanned and toned locals to model Amber Valletta to Todd Phillips, the guy who directed the Hangover trilogy—have come to a supporter’s oceanfront cottage to hear the New Age guru talk politics. Just moments ago singer Jason Mraz had warmed up the crowd with his hit “I’m Yours.”
Aaron Fraser is standing on the woman's wide wooden veranda, asking if she will sign a petition in support of adding his name to the ballot for U.S. Congress in New Jersey's 10th District. He needs 200 signatures from Democrats registered in the district by March 31, but Fraser is aiming to collect at least five times that many, in case his opponent challenges their validity.
Since the 1990s, insurance premiums had averaged double-digit annual increases. America was spending over $7,500 per person per year — 50 percent more than Norway, the next largest contender. Health spending alone was chewing up one-sixth of the U.S. economy, double that of competitors like Japan, and putting American employers at a severe disadvantage.