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.
The biggest story in Washington is about something that doesn't really exist: the so-called "fiscal cliff." This manufactured panic is all about politicians and corporate interests getting things they want - things that don't have much to do with the "crisis" anyway. But instead of challenging this spin, big media outlets are playing along.
While America's CEOs are fretting about the government's so-called "fiscal cliff," millions of American workers face a financial disaster that gets much less media attention. There's a half-trillion-dollar deficit in the nation's worker retirement benefits.
We know the news flash: On Saturday morning, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend, then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and shot himself in the head in the parking lot in front of his coaches. To liberals like NBC sportscaster Bob Costas, this was not just a crisis. It was also an opportunity.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted to share his long-repressed feelings about a traumatic event. "It was," the Kentucky Republican confided, grim-faced, "the worst day of my political life."
DEAR DIDI: Our four year old pit mix will play with toys if we interact with them but if we throw the toy and ask him to fetch he loses all interest and walks away. He runs into things around the house fairly often so we are wondering if he has a balance or coordination issue. How PETS we work on this? We adopted him when he was a year old and he is so calm and such a joy to us. Our other issue, unrelated, is that he growls intensely at anyone that comes to our home even if ...
"The power to declare war, including the power of judging the causes of war, is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature."
At last month's California gubernatorial debate, Republican hopeful Neel Kashkari praised Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris for using their discretion not to appeal a court ruling that overturned the state's same-sex marriage ban. Kashkari then chided both Democrats for failing to use that same discretion when they appealed the Vergara v. California court decision. The suit is named after Beatriz Vergara, one of nine students who sued to eliminate the state's teacher tenure system.
Just when you thought the plutocratic profiteers running America's exploitative, low-wage economy couldn't get any more clueless, self-serving, pious, and mingy - along comes Lady Maria of Marriott, magnanimously saying: "Let them eat tips."
In his U.N. address, President Obama listed a parade of horrors afflicting our world: "Russian aggression in Europe," "terrorism in Syria and Iraq," rapes and beheadings by ISIL, al-Qaida, Boko Haram.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Lawrence Silveira is a Sierra High graduate now living in Chicago. In this column, penned on Sept. 5, he writes about the differences between the two locales, and what he's learned in his first few weeks at Columbia College.
"Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains."
Here's an unusual super-rich guy with a strange message for his fellow 1-percent-of-the-1-percenters.
There's a photo-word montage on the Internet in which a little boy, presumably from Africa, looks skeptically at a woman who is apparently from somewhere else. The boy asks, "You mean to tell me you have so much clean water, that you (poop) in it?"
Where are the peaceniks? Why aren't they marching on Capitol Hill to protest President Barack Obama's use of military force in Syria and Iraq? The San Francisco Chronicle's Kevin Fagan interviewed peace activists who told him that their ranks are numb, in part because America has been at war for more than a decade. Some even wonder whether the Islamic State is so barbaric as to merit airstrikes.
"I see the media is at it again," an acquaintance said referring to the deluge of coverage after the Ray Rice assault on his wife. True, a ton of coverage on what became a national, if not international story.
For those of you who read my last column and thought I had crossed over to the dark side, this one should tilt the world back on its proper axis.
"You'll never meet anyone who says, 'I want to be a millionaire. I think I'll start a winery,'" owner Bill Smyth tells me from his small office over the tasting room of Westover Vineyards, nestled in Palomares Canyon. Smyth has worked in a number of fields. He made some money. He bought the vineyard property when he was young. His ex-wife bought him a kit to make wine, and his labor of love turned into a small business.
The video of a Syrian captor beheading American freelance journalist James Foley "has done more damage than any ransom ever could," former Iranian hostage Sarah Shourd warned on CNN recently. Foley's parents have been vocal about their frustration in knowing that their son remained a hostage as France and other European countries paid a reported average of $3 million-plus to free their citizens. The family wants to establish an organization to provide information to other families, presumably to get around a no-ransom policy.