For most of my life, Christmas has been a strange, sad and lonely day. I've raised my children the way I was raised: to respect Christmas as a religious holiday, which is to say not our holiday.
It's too hard to try and make sense of a senseless event. Adam Lanza's merciless slaughter in Connecticut has forced everyone with a microphone to insist we have a "national conversation" about why this happens.
The year 2012 was defined by the calculated re-emergence of Obama worship, no matter how obvious his failures in office. After his re-election, the actor Jamie Foxx let it all hang out in a tribute at the BET Awards on November 25: "First of all, give an honor to God and our lord and savior, Barack Obama!"
Despite all the media hullabaloo about the fiscal cliff and a potential recession if none of the Bush tax cuts are extended, stock markets have behaved calmly throughout this whole period.
In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy, every politician who has me on their email list - and there are many, on both sides of the aisle - has been filling my inbox. All of the messages begin with the requisite expression of shock and horror, the business of sending out our hearts and prayers to those who mourn. Then the gun control advocates insist that now is the time for congressional action, and the opponents caution that no legislation is going to stop people (not guns) from killing.
While some prominent Republicans appear to be more open to raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans as part of a budget deal that would keep us from tumbling off the so-called "fiscal cliff," others are digging their heels in deeper.
On Friday, a heavily armed young man walked into a Connecticut elementary school and murdered 20 first-graders and six adults before he killed himself. Even in a country inured to gun violence, this crime is too heinous to contemplate.
Michigan is no longer a state. It is now "Michiganistan," an autocratic czardom in the hands of Emperor Rick Snyder.
"No set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society."
President Barack Obama in 2008, and again during the 2012 election, promised absolutely, positively no tax hikes on the middle class. The rich, however, must pay more: "It's not me being stubborn, it's not me being partisan - it's just a matter of math."
"Mandatory sentences breed injustice," Judge Roger Vinson told the New York Times. A Ronald Reagan appointee to the federal bench in Florida, Vinson was railing against a federal system that forced him to sentence a 27-year-old single mother to prison life without parole because her dealer ex-boyfriend had stored cocaine in her house.
Those who say we should run government like a business must not be frequent flyers.
When you think about it, it's amazing that the high-minded swells at the University of California didn't unveil a new logo sooner. The old logo, which will continue to appear on diplomas and official letters, features the school motto, "Let there be light." Ancient. An English translation of a Latin phrase. And a book. Dead-tree lit. 1868? Dead white guys. Under a star. Too militaristic.
Here we are on brink of a major historical moment. We're beginning to wind down the longest period of war in our history. And we're about to turn around a 13-year-long surge in Pentagon spending.
Christmas in my home city of Santa Monica is different this year. It used to be that there were elaborate displays depicting the birth of Jesus in the big public park by the ocean. I've always believed that Christmas is a major religious holiday, and the display reflected that. According to people who know more about such things than I do, the large dioramas told the story of Jesus' birth according to the Gospels of Luke and Matthew.
Eric Holder's Justice Department has completed its investigation into whether Ferguson cop Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown in cold blood for racist reasons when he shot the black teenager last August.
The GOP-led House of Representatives has already achieved a historic legislative record.
Can someone explain why the "party of limited government" continues, with a straight face, to support ethanol? Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa says about the heavily subsided product, "Everything about ethanol is good, good, good."
When actress Patricia Arquette won an Oscar, she pled for "wage equality" for women: "To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen in this nation: We have fought for everybody else's equal rights. It's our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America."
"Do the crime, do the time," goes the old saying.
"I am under 'investigation,'" professor Roger Pielke Jr. of the University of Colorado Boulder posted on his blog Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton addressed the Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women. The former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state comes to the Bay Area at a time when I hear more people, on the left and the right, cringing at the prospect of Clinton's heading the Democratic ticket next year - and, worse, squaring off against Jeb Bush in a Bush-Clinton rerun. To many, a Clinton nod has the grim inevitability of death and taxes.
I can't tell you how many times I've had out-of-towners tell me they think San Francisco is a breathtakingly beautiful city - so why is it that City Hall hasn't done more about baseball pitchers chewing tobacco at city ballparks? No, wait. I can tell you. I've never heard that. I have heard countless complaints from tourists and locals about homeless people sprawled on sidewalks, the stink of the city and the creepiness of walking downtown while navigating around urine puddles, feces and used hypodermic needles.
The safest bet you can possibly make at the beginning of a presidential election cycle is that the "objective" national media will savage the Republican contenders with "investigative" journalism. Not just one Republican contender, but all the Republican contenders.
Back in 1987, this writer was invited by friends to advise them on a press conference they had called to oppose President Reagan's signing of an INF treaty to remove all nuclear missiles from Europe.
The times they are a-changin'. Last week, a Republican congressman from Orange County, California, joined Oakland medical marijuana dispenser Steve DeAngelo to urge President Barack Obama, a Democrat who started out as a critic of the war on drugs, to curb his Department of Justice. They want Obama to make his prosecutors stop trying to shut down honest marijuana establishments in states that have legalized medical marijuana. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and the left-leaning DeAngelo have found common cause in calling out one area in which the federal government can and should do less.
The people of Chicago are grappling with a big question that people in nearly every urban place face: Can anyone really govern such a sprawling, brawling city?
When Republicans challenged Obamacare in the courts, they sought to overcome the hurdle of persuading the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a program passed by Congress and enacted by a president. The legal challenge by Texas and 25 other states to the Obama administration's executive actions on immigration is different. Congress never passed a Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, to grant legal status to some 5 million immigrants. President Barack Obama himself never signed what his aides call an "executive action"; Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson takes that honor ...
After years of debt, deficits and budget cuts, it may come as a surprise to learn that our state government is flush with cash. But you wouldn't know it by the talk of tax increases coming out of Sacramento.
The other day I built my first snowman. It was cold and a little rainy and we didn't have the stereotypical carrot nose or corncob pipe to adorn our new friend with, but it was something of a success. It had branches for arms and I even used my hat and glasses to make him look cool - if a snowman can get any 'cooler'.