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.
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."
Ask anyone under 40 to identify Paul McCartney or "I Want to Hold Your Hand," and the odds are you'll get a blank look in return. Ask someone under 30 to describe the Soviet menace and you may well get the same response. The first one is harmless ignorance, and some might argue the second one is as well. After all, it's over and we won, right?
When America was hit on 9/11, the world united around us. France just had its 9/11, and again the civilized world has come together, all except the United States. Where were America's leaders as the rest of the world united?
I love women. I've always loved women.
Minutes to midnight on New Year's Eve, I sat around a fire with friends, discussing plans for 2015. I told them mine: to hike over 200 miles on the John Muir Trail through the High Sierras, by myself.
Here's what I love about the French: They've long understood the dangers presented by radical Islam. French President Francois Hollande swiftly called the deadly Wednesday shooting at Paris' Charlie Hebdo magazine "an act of exceptional barbarity," without doubt a terrorist attack. There was no hedging. The Socialist leader didn't engage in the sort of blather White House spokesman Josh Earnest offered on MSNBC shortly after the shootings. Earnest called the attack a "terrible act of violence," but not necessarily terrorism.
Congress, which had been so tied up in a partisan knot by right-wing extremists that it became unable to move, suddenly sprang loose at the end of the year. Before heading home for the holidays, it put on a phenomenal show of acrobatic lawmaking.
For the third time, the cops of the NYPD have turned their backs on the mayor of New York.
While last year's voters put a pack of reactionaries in charge of the new Congress, let's not forget that bigger majorities of the same electorate leapt at the chance to say "yes" to an array of unabashedly progressive ballot initiatives.
"The Interview" is a funny movie that does a stand-up job showcasing how a not particularly serious or informed person would deal with Kim Jong Un - and evil itself, with all its blandishments. James Franco plays talk show host Dave Skylark, who discovers that the North Korean dictator loves his show. Skylark's susceptibility to flattery renders him willfully blind. Because Kim plays up to him, Skylark wants to believe that the phony grocery his chauffeured car happens to drive by is real, that reports that Kim starves his people are the result of media bias and that Kim, like ...
The past month of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the Winter Solstice, our hearts grew warmer and our thoughts turned to kindness and goodwill toward all.
In July of 1870, King Wilhelm sent Foreign Minister Bismarck an account of his meeting with a French envoy who had demanded that the king renounce any Hohenzollern claim to the Spanish throne.
It has become a never-ending quest to define millennials. Those between the age of 18 and 34 are often portrayed as a self-absorbed, narcissistic generation obsessed with technology. They are a group more likely to check their Twitter or Instagram apps than keep up with world events. In fact, voters age 18-29 made up a mere 13 percent of the vote in this month's mid-term elections.
Peace on Earth, good will toward men. We honor these noble values every holiday season - and some people actually work to advance them all year long.
"NYPD, KKK, How many kids did you kill today?"
An old bumper sticker offered a stinging response to the Bush-Cheney regime's enthusiasm for waterboarding: "Impeach Bush," it urged. "Torture Cheney."