For most of my life, Christmas has been a strange, sad and lonely day. I've raised my children the way I was raised: to respect Christmas as a religious holiday, which is to say not our holiday.
It's too hard to try and make sense of a senseless event. Adam Lanza's merciless slaughter in Connecticut has forced everyone with a microphone to insist we have a "national conversation" about why this happens.
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.
"You can make money without doing evil" is No. 6 on the list of 10 things Google (the corporation) knows to be true. The Google list leaves out a few caveats. Like: You can make more money flouting antitrust laws. You can pay your brainiacs less if they believe you will retaliate if they try to go to work for someone else.
When the news rippled out on Monday that Robin Williams had committed suicide, even I thought - for a moment - "but he had everything." As if suicide is a "choice."
Most Americans have received an authentic-looking email from a scammer, purportedly from a bank, requesting an update to the account information for official-sounding reasons.
If John Boehner is so worried about the president's executive orders, why didn't he sue George W. Bush?
"Who is responsible for the Bay Bridge?" I asked California Gov. Jerry Brown at a San Francisco Chronicle editorial board meeting in May.
The Koch brothers - the GOP megadonors and fossil fuel magnates - live in their own special world, enshrouded in the fumes emanating from their family's enormous stockpiles of wealth.
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."