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.
Turning your lawn into something more beautiful and useful would save time and money while curbing pollution and water usage.
The Obama administration's assault on the Second Amendment in reaction to Newtown is not a serious solution. It's a Band-Aid on cancer. The NRA's call for armed guards in every school also misses the point. When is anyone going to get serious? The problem is violence, a violence of monstrous and horrific proportions that has infected America's popular culture.
The brilliant actor Benedict Cumberbatch is in hot water for getting his words wrong. Appearing on Tavis Smiley's show, the Oscar-nominated star of "The Imitation Game" took a strong stand in favor of greater diversity in Hollywood.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters descend on Washington every January to "March for Life," protesting the horror of more than a million abortions in America every year. Every year the "news" outlets report next to nothing, even when their reporters are there documenting the event as their cameras film it.
The Super Bowl is well timed. It comes mid-winter, a month after our New Year's resolutions begin deflating, when the market is teetering, our finances are squeezed, and the collections agencies calling day and night. For those who were fortunate to make some income last year, the 1099's or W-2s arrive, and we brace ourselves to face off with the IRS.
So why is it that while other states are now enjoying gas prices of less than $2 per gallon, California is still paying higher prices?
First lady Michelle Obama made an important statement when she showed up in Saudi Arabia with her husband Tuesday to mourn the death of King Abdullah and meet successor King Salman. Though the first lady dressed in a fashion respectful of Saudi custom - in black pants and a long, loose jacket that fully covered her arms and legs - she did not don a headscarf. Saudi women do not have that choice. Thus, the first lady made a fashion statement that sent a politely assertive message to the all-male Saudi delegation.
Within hours after the Supreme Court announced it would decide whether the Constitution requires every state to recognize marriages between persons of the same sex, the New York Times published an editorial gleefully predicting the inevitable outcome. When its ruling comes down in June, the Times assures us, the Supreme Court will "end the debate once and for all."
As messed up as it sounds, in the unending struggle for justice, there is such thing as a "positive negative." This occurs when you win a struggle that you never should have had to deal with in the first place.
Jeb Bush may be the front-runner in the GOP 2016 primary. He is the son and brother of former presidents and can tap into their vaunted fundraising machines. In some eyes, the former Florida governor always was the more disciplined, thoughtful and worthy son. Maybe. But Jeb Bush also has a problem: He is a boring speaker.