The whole world mourns Nelson Mandela. Rightly.
It was 73 and sunny, still two weeks before Thanksgiving, and I was stuck in traffic on the 405. Over the car radio a DJ on KOST-FM was extolling the "holiday spirit." Then he played "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" by Gene Autry - a song so old that it doesn't rouse spirits so much as it conjures ghosts of Christmas past.
If 2013 was a year of ups and downs, it was also a year peppered with ironies. Here are just a few:
For those who enjoy lowbrow political theater, it's Christmas come early. Steve Stockman, a Texas congressman so far to the right he's in danger of falling into the Gulf of Mexico, is challenging Sen. John Cornyn in the Republican Primary. Though Tea Party leaders were calling Texas' senior senator a "traitor" who "surrendered" on Obamacare, the conservative case against Cornyn is thin. Stockman's challenge demonstrates that nothing less than absolute faith is sufficient to survive in a radicalized Republican Party that no longer resembles the Party of Reagan, much less that of Lincoln.
Environmentalists and budget critics of California's proposed bullet train may be breathing a sigh of relief.
President Obama's "Mission Accomplished" moment: "We have met the goal" of fixing the Healthcare.Gov website.
A new study has come out that finds men and women really do think differently.
After losing the Virginia governor's race because single women voted for the Democrat by a margin of 42 points, Republicans have found the solution. They will teach their candidates how to, in Speaker John Boehner's words, "be a little more sensitive" to the ladies. But Republicans painting over policy differences with pretty words piles insult on top of offense and will do little to close the gender gap.
A hundred years ago, business tycoon Samuel Insull consolidated smaller utility companies to form the behemoth (albeit public charity-sounding) Commonwealth Edison. Because of the infrastructure needed to provide energy to an increasingly power-hunger public, Insull and others argued that Commonwealth Edison was a natural monopoly; inherently one company had to dominate the market. This battle cry enabled a mere 10 utility systems to control three-quarters of the nation's electricity business by the time FDR was in the White House, subjecting consumers to higher rates with absolutely no competition save candles.
What compromises must we make when it comes to our security on the one hand, and our privacy on the other? Personally, I'm far less concerned about being tracked by the National Security Agency than I am about being monitored by, say, Google.
Trust ain't what it used to be in America.
God bless America, and how's everybody?
Back in elementary school when I was hand-writing my newspaper The Lewisburg Snoopy Nose, I never dreamed what sort of tools journalists would be using today.
Clearly, it MUST have been a video produced by America's enemies, a vicious piece of propaganda that was so outlandish it would have brought laughs 10 years ago. No one except indoctrinated citizens of communist countries would ever believe it.
In the week following Halloween, Jimmy Kimmel's stunt involving kids and their candy climbed to over 20 million views on YouTube. But public fascination with the gag doesn't change the fact that it is cruel and sadistic. It underscores the worst elements of mass media and social media, and the incendiary possibilities of combining the two.
Did the election last week really mean that much? I took to my Twitter account on Tuesday to point out that the change in control of the Senate from Democrat to Republican actually means very little, despite efforts by politicians and the mainstream media to convince us otherwise. Yes, power shifted, I wrote. But the philosophy on Capitol Hill changed very little. The warfare/welfare state is still alive and well in Washington.
So Jonathan Gruber thinks the American people are stupid, does he?
Usually when a burning issue arises, I feel compelled to squeeze every last drop of my own phrasing, logic and wit into this limited space.
What an amazing five years this has been!
So, that was fun. One minute we're promised a half dozen toss up races to determine control of the United States Senate, and the next Democrats are ducking under their desks as Massachusetts and Maryland elected Republican governors. Let the "Very Important Pundits" take turns on cable news assigning blame for the losses. I'm more interested in why the polls didn't tell us the wave was coming.
I admit it: I feel sorry for cigarette and cigar smokers these days. But changing fashions and the results of the recent election may offer them hope.