"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.
As the white flag rises above Republican redoubts, offering a surrender on taxes, the mind goes back to what seemed a worse time for conservatives: December 1964.
Bill O'Reilly asked this question on his Fox News program last week: "Why do I have to be the leader defending Christmas against its attackers?" O'Reilly was criticizing Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee's renaming his state's Christmas tree a "holiday tree."
More than 5 million young people are looking for work. College is increasingly unaffordable, while youth jobs are few and far between. For years lawmakers have been cutting programs that help young Americans find a productive path. And as if that weren't enough, budget cuts scheduled for 2013 may hollow out what's left of federal education and training programs.
Given the expectations raised by the Republican punditocracy - that Mitt was headed for a big victory - the jolt of defeat hit especially hard.
Remember the horrible murders in 1978 of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk? At the killer's trial, his lawyer argued for leniency, saying that a steady diet of junk food had addled his client's brain – a claim that entered the annals of jurisprudence as the "Twinkie Defense."
I am at war with my phone company. Compared with real wars, it is a nothing war, a luxury war. But every time I walk into my house, I face my enemy: a dead phone.
Those who say we should run government like a business must not be frequent flyers.
Ah, the hypocrisy of tax-hikers who do everything they can to avoid the taxes they wish to impose on others.
There's money to be made in wind and solar power, but so far, not very much. And that's the way fossil fuel giants aim to keep it. As of today, they're winning the energy battle because federal subsidies for renewable energy are about to expire, unlike Uncle Sam's giveaways to the oil, gas, coal, and nuclear industries.
Those who thought ObamaCare was set in concrete by Chief Justice John Roberts' decision last June are in for a shock. December 14 is the new deadline (extended from November 16) for states to let the feds know, yea or nay, whether or not they will be setting up a health insurance exchange, which is the key to participating in the misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Downtown San Francisco feels like a large public toilet without enough janitors. More than once this year, I've seen men drop their pants in public places - including at Fifth and Market - to leave a smelly mess on the sidewalk. You can walk for blocks and never escape the stench of stale urine. At lunchtime, I see street people passed out on high-traffic sidewalks, and I am afraid to walk around them.
"Natural law - God's law - will always trump common law," said Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and a Christian leader in her own right, "God will have the final word in this matter."
San Francisco changed America. When then-Mayor Gavin Newsom opened City Hall to same-sex marriages during the 2004 Winter of Love, he had determined to "put a human face on discrimination." The long line of couples eager to tie the knot appealed to the public's romantic side. When two people are in love and want to commit to each other for the rest of their lives, activists asked, how can the government say no?
At last, America's political leaders now feel the pain of the poor and empathize with the millions of working families slipping out of the middle class.
The judicial decision to uphold all of the president's health care subsidies may be very disappointing, but the economics of Obamacare are far worse than whatever constitutional mistakes have been committed by the Supreme Court.
"I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you."
Almost immediately after a white killer gunned down nine black worshippers at a historic church in Charleston, South Carolina, out came the politics.
DEAR DR. ROACH: As a preventive measure for prediabetes, my doctor recommended I take 500 mg of metformin twice a day (morning and evening). I have been following this regimen for two months. The same day I started the medication, my night sweats started up again, with a vengeance. On the metformin, my quality of sleep was negatively affected by four to five episodes of bad hot flashes every night. Since hot flashes/night sweats were not mentioned as a side effect either by my doctor or on the information pamphlet, I notified my doctor. He suggested stopping the metformin ...
When SB 128, which would legalize physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, passed the California Senate, supporters hailed the measure's success as a sign of its inevitability. And what Democrat in this heavily left-leaning Legislature wants to be on - say it slowly - The Wrong Side of History?
There's nothing as depressing as asking young people whether they plan to participate in the election and hearing them tell you they have no idea which candidate to be for or what the differences are or, worse, that it doesn't matter. What do you do with such a person? Can you really force someone to sit down and read a voter's guide? And what would they learn if they did? Probably more about what's wrong with their opponents than what's right about their candidates.
It is fitting, if late, that South Carolina's political leaders seem ready to evict the Confederate flag from the grounds of their state Capitol in response to the vile shooting that left nine African-Americans dead in Charleston's Emanuel AME Church last week. In a Monday news conference while flanked by Democrats and fellow Republicans, Gov. Nikki Haley noted that many in the Palmetto State see the Confederate flag as a tribute to their Southern roots but said, "Today we are here in a moment of unity in our state, without ill will, to say it's time to ...
DEAR DR. ROACH: My 18-year-old daughter at college has severe acne that has not improved with OTC or prescribed topical treatments. Her dermatologists discussed the option of oral treatments, including the drug isotretinoin, which can have severe side effects.
In his seventh year of "fundamentally transforming the United States of America," as Barack Obama memorably promised five days before he was elected president, we're learning new details about thousands of immigrants who were released from custody after being convicted of serious violent felonies and horrific sex crimes. Instead of doing his duty to keep bad people out of America (or remove them if they manage to sneak in), Obama is bringing us even more diversity by accepting thousands of refugees from terrorist-harboring countries such as Syria and Somalia.
Let's now praise a threesome of odd bedfellows: a Democratic ex-senator, an exiled American citizen, and a current Republican senator.
DEAR DR. ROACH: Is it true that someone who takes antacids every day is more likely to get cancer of the esophagus? -- D.R.