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.
The Metropolitan Opera in New York City is hardly a site for hundreds of angry protesters. But they have erupted over their current selection, an opera called "The Death of Klinghoffer." Leon Klinghoffer was the 69-year-old paralyzed New Yorker who in 1985 was aboard the hijacked cruise ship Achille Lauro, then executed by Islamic terrorists because he was a Jew. The terrorists forced the ship's barber and a waiter to throw his body and his wheelchair overboard off the coast of Egypt.
You heard it here first.
Here we go again - into yet another war in a tumultuous swath of the world we still don't comprehend. For a preview of what we're stepping into in Iraq and Syria, let's remember Afghanistan.
If you believe Houston Mayor Annise Parker, then you have to believe that when lawyers for her city subpoenaed five local pastors and demanded their sermons, the episode represented an unfortunate instance of lawyer overreach, with no intent to harass or intimidate the opposition.
I know Republicans who voted for Jerry Brown in 2010. They thought he'd be like Richard Nixon going to China and stand up to public employee unions by fixing a dysfunctional pension system. They thought he'd live up to his pose as elder sage, ready to do what's best for California. After he won a return engagement as governor, Brown liked to bloviate about the need for elected officials to demonstrate "loyalty to California."
In 1492, "Columbus sailed the ocean blue" and discovered the New World. And Oct. 12 was once a celebrated holiday in America.
Growing up in Washington in the 1930s and '40s, our home was, several times, put under quarantine. A poster would be tacked on the door indicating the presence within of a contagious disease - measles, mumps, chicken pox, scarlet fever.
I'd like to think that if I got the bad news that Brittany Maynard received - terminal cancer with a prognosis of less than six months left to live - I'd be like her. I'd like to be stoic and brave. I'd like to take charge of the rest of my cruelly abbreviated life. If I were facing death at age 29, I would want to find meaning in an end come too soon.
Just in the United States, the cosmetics industry pulls in some $70 billion a year in sales of what's commonly called "makeup." But lipstick, mascara, eye shadow, and the like aren't the only kind of makeup the cosmetic giants are peddling.
Corporations are funneling money to right-wing governors who work against the interests of their customers and employees.
Practically everyone expects California Attorney General Kamala Harris to win re-election handily in November. The Democrat won 53 percent of the vote in a crowded June primary. A rising star expected to ascend someday to the governorship, perhaps a U.S. Senate seat, Harris has won the endorsement of major newspapers in the state. She's such an attractive candidate that even though it was true, President Barack Obama had to apologize last year for calling her "by far the best-looking attorney general in the country."
Rather than urge guests to leave bigger tips and thank you notes, Marriott should pay its housekeepers a living wage.
I paid less than $10,000 to earn my college degree from a top-ranked school.