When niece Chelsey was little, I lavished her with Christmas gifts too numerous and fanciful to remember. There were faux-fur coats with Dalmatian spots, diminutive dolls bundled as quintuplets, plastic horses that cost more than the real thing.
Pope Francis is displaying an extraordinary style and passion that demands our attention. He addresses the needs of the poor, embraces outcasts, and loves those on the margins of society. In this recent "apostolic exhortation," The Joy of the Gospel, the pope raises a moral challenge to both his church and the world.
"Don't be deceived," Duck Commander and A&E reality television star Phil Robertson insisted, when asked to define what he considered to be sinful behavior. "Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers -- they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer. And a penguin?
I suspect the NSA may have thought they got lucky when one of the first post-Edward Snowden cases to challenge their phone metadata collection was assigned to Judge Richard Leon on the federal district court in Washington, D.C. After all, Leon was appointed by President George W. Bush after a long career, much of it spent working for Republicans in Washington.
As Christmas approaches, the shopping mall can become a shopping maul. One of the ways of buying gifts for family and friends, without becoming part of a mob scene in the stores, is to shop on the Internet. However, for many kinds of gifts, you want to be able to see it directly, and perhaps handle it, before you part with your hard-earned cash for it.
'Tis the season, and Nancy Pelosi has given the hands-down best gift to the American people -- her phrase "Embrace the suck." Miraculous.
In explaining the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, President Obama told Chris Matthews he had discovered that "we have these big agencies, some of which are outdated, some of which are not designed properly."
Americans don't care much about rising economic inequality, recent surveys suggest. But that's not quite right. The public may know that the top 10 percent pulled in about half of pretax income in 2012 -- and that income inequality is the widest it's been since right before the Great Depression. Its brain understands that these trends are not good for the society.
Make a woman laugh, Marilyn Monroe supposedly said, and you can make her do anything.
Mainstream Republicans are doing backflips over Chris Christie's frolic to re-election as governor of New Jersey. Here is a Republican who took on public employee unions, spoke out against abortion and gay marriage, and still scored a landslide win in a blue state. And he won Latinos' and women's votes, too.
Wow, this T-shirt costs only $8. Great color. Problem is, your finger could punch a hole through it. In most Americans' shopping experience, colors change and styles come and go, but there's one constant: low quality and a sweatshop-country label.
We have reached a new level of political absurdity when the right is mad at the pope and the left wants to anoint his head with oil. Everyone seems to have his own special version of Pope Francis. Liberals have declared him a crusader for social justice, especially regarding his comments about global inequality. Conservatives fear he just might be a commie.
FISHTRAP HOLLOW -- Lightning or some other benevolent act of fate struck the magic modem that brings this technology-heavy century into our otherwise peaceful home.
Drawing moral lines in our rough-and-tumble capitalist system can be hard. But it should not tax too many ethical muscles to set aside some protections for trusting, unsophisticated borrowers of modest means. That is, unless you're a politician working on behalf of predatory lenders.
I like capitalism. Specifically, I like the idea that if I write a better book, have a better idea, build a better mousetrap, I will be rewarded accordingly.
As the government health-care Web site chugs along, the Obama administration has begun a counter-initiative to combat Republican naysaying -- and its weapons are of superior grade.
Depressing news about black students scoring far below white students on various mental tests has become so familiar that people in different parts of the ideological spectrum have long ago developed their different explanations for why this is so. But both may have to do some rethinking, in light of radically different news from England.
An unapologetic drinker, writer H.L. Mencken blamed Prohibition on American moralists' distaste for happiness. "A Puritan is not against bullfighting because of the pain it gives the bull," he wrote, "but because of the pleasure it gives the spectators."
FISHTRAP HOLLOW -- I rarely watch those "news" videos the Internet pushes, the ones where you are force-fed a couple of advertisements before you reach the meat.