There are numerous issues that should be labeled a national epidemic, but few are as important as the ridiculous and onerous laws on the books on the federal and state level that have led to a massive incarceration problem in the United States.
It was big news Monday when Attorney General Eric Holder told the American Bar Association in San Francisco, "Certain low-level nonviolent drug offenders who have no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs or cartels will no longer be charged with offenses that impose draconian mandatory minimum sentences."
"Sire, clear the square with gunfire or abdicate."
These days, almost every political conversation ends up with a little Hillary at the end.
The culture war has gone global.
Forbes Magazine is at it again. This time it lists Stockton on its "Dirtiest Cities in America" list. Not playing favorites, Fresno and Modesto are also included on the list.
Eric Holder, America's first African-American attorney general, and his boss, Barack Obama, the first black president, haven't been shy about pointing out racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Racial profiling? It's real, they say. State "stand your ground" laws? Obama says they don't work for minorities. Yet both have been conspicuously absent when it comes to redressing racial disparities in their own home turf, the federal government's ill-conceived war on drugs.
DEAR DIDI: I was stopped by a Lathrop police officer the other day and he proceeded to lecture me about having my dog in the back of the pickup truck. I tried to explain that I am a rancher and my dog loves being back there but he threatened to give me a ticket if I didn't listen to his lecture. My dog is my buddy and he goes everywhere with me. He would never jump out of the truck so what, exactly, is the big deal?
The Washington Post is a legend in the minds of the Washington elite, so its financial decline has caused quiet panic. As NPR media reporter David Folkenflik put it, "You think of stories like the Pentagon Papers, Watergate, these are all stories where The Washington Post led the nation's understanding, the world's understanding of some major issues."
"There have been times when they slip back into Cold War thinking," said President Obama in his tutorial with Jay Leno.
They may find it scandalous for someone to say so, but our secular liberal media are playing favorites with religion. They have a spoiled child, Islam. Journalists see Islam as a bullied, minority faith for brown people. Draw a cartoon of Mohammed with dynamite on his head, and you are the worst kind of trouble-making hater.
I wasn't too surprised when do-it-yourself vigilante George Zimmerman was found not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin. The trial took place in Florida, after all.
Let's talk life expectancy.
Apparently, the threat is both serious and specific.
I'll bet that Mark Twain, who wrote "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," would've loved a current saga. I call it "The Jumping Congress Critter of Frog Jump."
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Westover Vineyards of Castro Valley. Owner Bill Smyth is preparing to shutter his winery because the California Department of Industrial Relations slapped him with $115,550 in fines, back wages and penalties for using unpaid volunteers. Those fees put Westover in the red.
A couple of weeks ago at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, several hundred people went to their feet to applaud a speech delivered by David H. Koch. The occasion was the opening of the Met's new facade on Fifth Avenue. It runs four city blocks, and is complete with new fountains, paving, lighting, landscaping and seating areas for visitors. Mr. Koch contributed the entire $65 million cost of the project, which took years to complete.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted to share his long-repressed feelings about a traumatic event. "It was," the Kentucky Republican confided, grim-faced, "the worst day of my political life."
DEAR DIDI: Our four year old pit mix will play with toys if we interact with them but if we throw the toy and ask him to fetch he loses all interest and walks away. He runs into things around the house fairly often so we are wondering if he has a balance or coordination issue. How PETS we work on this? We adopted him when he was a year old and he is so calm and such a joy to us. Our other issue, unrelated, is that he growls intensely at anyone that comes to our home even if ...
"The power to declare war, including the power of judging the causes of war, is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature."
At last month's California gubernatorial debate, Republican hopeful Neel Kashkari praised Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris for using their discretion not to appeal a court ruling that overturned the state's same-sex marriage ban. Kashkari then chided both Democrats for failing to use that same discretion when they appealed the Vergara v. California court decision. The suit is named after Beatriz Vergara, one of nine students who sued to eliminate the state's teacher tenure system.
Just when you thought the plutocratic profiteers running America's exploitative, low-wage economy couldn't get any more clueless, self-serving, pious, and mingy - along comes Lady Maria of Marriott, magnanimously saying: "Let them eat tips."
In his U.N. address, President Obama listed a parade of horrors afflicting our world: "Russian aggression in Europe," "terrorism in Syria and Iraq," rapes and beheadings by ISIL, al-Qaida, Boko Haram.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Lawrence Silveira is a Sierra High graduate now living in Chicago. In this column, penned on Sept. 5, he writes about the differences between the two locales, and what he's learned in his first few weeks at Columbia College.
"Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains."
Here's an unusual super-rich guy with a strange message for his fellow 1-percent-of-the-1-percenters.
There's a photo-word montage on the Internet in which a little boy, presumably from Africa, looks skeptically at a woman who is apparently from somewhere else. The boy asks, "You mean to tell me you have so much clean water, that you (poop) in it?"
Where are the peaceniks? Why aren't they marching on Capitol Hill to protest President Barack Obama's use of military force in Syria and Iraq? The San Francisco Chronicle's Kevin Fagan interviewed peace activists who told him that their ranks are numb, in part because America has been at war for more than a decade. Some even wonder whether the Islamic State is so barbaric as to merit airstrikes.