How can it be that with Washington simmering in scandals, with Republicans (not to mention talk-show hosts) using the "I" word (impeachment) with abandon, with calls to bring back Ken Starr (of Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky fame), President Obama's job approval rating is holding steady at around 50 percent, thank you very much?
Gov. Jerry Brown recently stepped in it when a reporter asked him about the Bay Bridge. In March, 32 of 96 key rods in the under-construction eastern span cracked after they were tightened. Dao Guv -- who, as Oakland's mayor, helped delay construction of the new span to win a tony, world-class design -- gave the wrong answer: "(Scatological stuff) happens."
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom likes to be out front on issues. As San Francisco mayor, he approved same-sex marriages in City Hall even though they weren't legal. He pushed for a first-of-its-kind ban on city pharmacies selling cigarettes. Likewise, he signed the Special City's first-in-the-nation ban on groceries giving away plastic bags.
It is that time of year again.
When you get right down to it, the political targeting and stalling of tax-exempt applications by the IRS was an effort to defund the tea party. Rick Santelli, one of the tea party founders and my CNBC colleague, was the first to make this point. I've taken it a step further: The IRS was taking the tea party out of play for the 2012 election, as it looked to avoid a repeat of 2010 and another tea party landslide.
My state of Texas seems to have an inordinate share of nincompoops in public office. But it's only fair that office holders from other states be considered before deciding which one is the nincompoopiest of all.
"The American people are weary. They don't want boots on the ground. I don't want boots on the ground. The worst thing the United States could do right now is put boots on the ground in Syria."
As a journalist, I am not supposed to admit this, but: I sympathize with the Obama administration's frustration over national security leaks. After a spate of leaks last year - notably, The Associated Press' reporting that national security officials foiled an underwear bomb 2.0 attempt last May - Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein joined Republicans to denounce the Beltway's proclivity for leaking classified information. "This has to stop," quoth DiFi. "When people say they don't want to work with the United States because they can't trust us to keep a secret, that's serious."
The Obama scandals started piling up on top of each other in the last few days. The civil servants who testified on Benghazi were heartbreaking. Then the IRS admitted a punitive agenda against tax exemptions for groups with "tea party" in the name or groups that "educate about the Constitution."
Monumental gifts to museums are coinciding with the erosion of arts programs at the nation's public schools.
Last Sept. 11, a terrorist attack left four Americans dead at the Benghazi, Libya, diplomatic mission. The next day, a State Department official wrote in an email, "The group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al-Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic terrorists." Days later, however, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice went on Sunday talk shows and blamed an anti-Islam video for the violence, even though others in her own department knew better.
Three young Cleveland girls missing and presumed dead turned up alive and in good health. A hero of the story is a neighbor, Charles Ramsey, a black man who helped free the girls from the home in which they were apparently imprisoned for some 10 years.
It sounded like a freedom-of-religion case when a Columbus, Texas high school relay-race team was disqualified from the state track championship because Derrick Hayes pointed heavenward after his team won the race. That would seem odd in a red state like Texas. It turned out that officials were so strict, they warned runners to make no hand gestures after the finish line. Hayes had apparently pointed forward, and then upward, and for that he was out.
Amy Meyer was curious. Then she was appalled. Then she was charged with the "crime" of using a cell phone to video what appalled her.
Federal unemployment benefits for 400,000 Californians out of work since last fall recently dropped 18 percent, a $52 cut out of weekly checks that average $297. Similar cuts are rolling out in other states.
"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."
There are 250 million Christians in America today, but most seem to be oblivious of the fact that they and their religion are under steady attack from those who apparently hate Christianity, or at least want to expunge Christianity from any public place or mention. That hatred seems to extend to all sorts of evidences of Christianity in our society, such as Christmas, which is a federal holiday.
Do you - or does anyone - really need a book of rules and a three-hour briefing to do your job ethically?
I have a theory as to why Americans don't worry all that much about global warming: High-profile purveyors of climate change don't push for reductions in greenhouse gases so much as focus on berating people who do not agree with their opinions. They call themselves champions of "the science" yet focus on ideology more than tangible results.
The celebrations in Havana and the sullen silence in Miami tell you all you need to know about who won this round with Castro's Cuba.
The spooks are spooked.
Brought before a House inquisition, MIT professor and Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber burbled a recantation of his beliefs about how that triumph of liberalism had been achieved.
The intelligence was obtained illegally. The hackers presented a threat to workers and their families. Foreign operatives likely were behind the document theft. Any news organizations that report this ill-gotten information are, if not un-American, surely "morally treasonous and spectacularly dishonorable."
In the spirit of holiday harmony and goodwill toward all, I say it's time for you working stiffs to extend your hands in a gesture of solidarity with America's millionaires.
This is Woody's story, my favorite Christmas story.
Christmas may not be the most solemn of all Christian feasts. That distinction belongs to Easter. Yet our salvation through the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord would never have been possible, had he not become one of us in the womb of Mary. Besides, for sheer popular appeal, Christmas still wins the gold.
The year is winding down with some good TV news: The amoral biker-gang drama "Sons of Anarchy" has ended its seven-year run on the cable channel FX, after a final season drenched in pointless sex and violence. Jax, the leader of the gang, shot a bunch of his enemies dead and then drove his motorcycle straight into the oncoming grill of a semi truck.
When California Gov. Jerry Brown was pushing Proposition 30 in 2012, he sold it with the promise that the income and sales tax increases in his measure would put off sharp tuition increases in the UC and CSU systems. Sacramento increased state funding for the University of California and California State University by 5 percent annually for two years and then 4 percent annually for the next two years. Budget documents heralded a four-year deal that would keep tuition flat.