Here's some unexpected news.
President Obama may be backing away from his doomsday spending-cut predictions as the sequester goes into place. But the new party line is that while there will be no impact in the first few days, there'll be a slow, downward slump after that.
WASHINGTON - The screeching you hear in Washington is the sound of politicians slamming their mouths into reverse as they back away from their previous positions on the misnamed "budget sequester." For weeks now, we have been told that an $85 billion reduction in the rate of increase in federal spending - a 2.4 percent cut - will have devastating consequences for our nation.
The Postal Service says it's going to stop delivering mail on Saturdays. This won't happen until August, but the overseers of our postal workers in Congress are already swooning.
Weeks before the Oscars, Sony Pictures, the studio behind "Zero Dark Thirty," put out this statement: "We are outraged that any responsible member of the Academy would use their voting status in (the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences) as a platform to advance their own political agenda. The film should be judged free of partisanship. To punish an artist's right of expression is abhorrent. This community, more than any other, should know how reprehensible that is."
While we sports fans regularly lionize the stars of pro baseball, football, basketball, etc., it's time to acknowledge that the team executives and owners are also great athletes of a different sort. They routinely make dazzling off-the-field moves.
DEAR DIDI: I got my amazing dog, a Dalmation, five years ago. My husband and I were not blessed with children, so Dougy has been cherished. With the change in the economy I was forced to rejoin the work force last year. I am concerned about Dougy staying home alone every day and his quality of life but can't imagine our life without him either. Any suggestions? -Lots of Spots in French Camp
Inside the Beltway, everybody's talking about sequestration - and not only about whether it will happen (various supposed "high-level" sources say they are not optimistic that it will be avoided) and what it will mean, but also - it being the Beltway - which side of the aisle will pay the price.
There is a rule in Politics 2013 that's evident in the flap about a White House aide's maybe threatening or not threatening Washington Post veteran reporter Bob Woodward. The rule: The more superficial the brouhaha the bigger its impact.
"Why did the Soviet Union disintegrate? Why did the Soviet Communist Party collapse? An important reason was that their ideals and convictions wavered," China's new leader, Xi Jinping, told a closed meeting of party elite in Guangdong province.
"You've got African Americans; you've got Hispanics; you've got a bag full of money. Does that tell you - a light bulb doesn't go off in your head and say, 'This is a drug deal'?"
When Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., met with the San Francisco Chronicle's editorial board last week, she said reasonable people could pass a bill to apply $85 billion in sequester cuts more surgically. Too bad she's a member of Congress.
In the age of rapidly shortening attention spans and the mass media hopping from one story to the next, it is fairly remarkable that the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, one year ago Tuesday, continues to resonate in the consciousness of many Americans.
The Obama administration is whipping up hysteria over the sequester budget cuts and their impact on the economy, the military, first providers, and so forth and so on. Armageddon. But if you climb into the Congressional Budget Office numbers for 2013, you see a much lighter and easier picture than all the worst-case scenarios being conjured up by the administration.
In its wisdom - and yes, I am being ironic - the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco issued a ruling Tuesday that revives a California inmate lawsuit to force the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to hire a paid, full-time Wiccan chaplain. Oddly, the three-judge panel found that the complaint "did not contain sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory under the First Amendment." Nonetheless, the court overturned a federal judge's 2011 dismissal of the lawsuit.
That is how one unnamed official described the military option in Iraq, on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014.
At the end of the Cold War, Francis Fukuyama famously wrote that our world may be at the "end of history" where "Western liberal democracy" becomes "the final form of human government."
It has been a summer of remembrance.
Back in the 1950s, C.S. Lewis saw chastity as under attack with "all the contemporary propaganda for lust that makes people "feel that the desires we are resisting are so 'natural,' so 'healthy,' and so reasonable, that it is almost perverse and abnormal to resist them."
The (well-funded, I am sure) opposition to San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener's ballot measure to tax soda and other sugary drinks calls itself the Coalition for an Affordable City. Its website features owners of corner markets explaining how the proposed tax would hurt their businesses and expressing their bewilderment at City Hall's picking on hardworking merchants.
There is no white Republican elected official today who is coming close to Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's effort to reach out to black voters.
In June, President Barack Obama sent a letter to Congress asking for help to address the surge of illegal crossings at the Texas-Mexico border. Among other items, Obama asked Congress to grant him the legal authority "to exercise discretion in processing the return and removal of unaccompanied minor children from non-contiguous countries like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador."
Last week, by 2-1 vote, a Washington, D.C., appellate panel ruled that the Obama administration unlawfully changed Obamacare. Meanwhile, on the same day, on the same question, a panel from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the other way. This issue is headed for the Supreme Court.
Anyone who thinks the cultural left is going to stop its political correctness with the Washington Redskins isn't reading USA Today. On the top of their Sports front page on July 22, the paper reported on activists taking a stand against "redface," championing a group called Eradicating Offensive Indian Mascotry.
The New York Times has seen the light. On Sunday, the paper editorialized in favor of an end to the federal ban on marijuana. According to Tony Newman of the Drug Policy Alliance, The Gray Lady has become the first major national newspaper to support legalizing marijuana.
When I heard our Congress critters are taking an extended vacation for all of August and part of September, I had two incongruous reactions: gratitude and anger.
The FBI's motto is "Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity." But given the FBI sting against Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow - a convicted felon who was freed from prison in 2003 because the feds got him to testify against a confederate - I suspect that a more apt motto might be "Fuggedaboutit."
The "crossfire" mentality that defines public discourse today has the obvious problem of ignoring the fact that most of us land somewhere in the middle, turning every debate into a shouting contest between the extremists who generate passion and ratings, and rarely reflecting the views of the majority in the middle. I've been saying for years that it might be just as entertaining, and certainly more productive, to see where ideological opposites find common ground. But until someone actually attempts it, we will keep spiraling down into extremism and incivility.