First, they came for the drones. No, not the unmanned kind that kill strangers from a safe distance but the sort who sit in meeting rooms and repeat slogans until they absorb the proper way of thinking. The killers, figuratively speaking, are the diversity trainers who numb the human mind with slogans and rote instruction on emotional correctness.
When folks pan the Affordable Care Act for being nearly 3,000 pages long, here's a sensible response: It could have been done in a page and a half if it simply declared that Medicare would cover everyone.
NATCHEZ -- In all of my visits to this beautiful river town, how have I missed the estate called Longwood? The mansions with their fanciful names run together if you see too many in one trip, but I've made many trips, toured many grand homes. Never, until recently, Longwood.
Even during this desultory economic recovery, one industry thrives -- the manufacture of synthetic hysteria. It is, however, inaccurate to accuse the Hysteric in Chief of crying "Wolf!" about spending cuts under the sequester. He is actually crying "Hamster!"
"Zero Dark Thirty," a nominee for Sunday's Oscar for Best Picture, reignited debate about whether the waterboarding of terrorism suspects was torture. This practice, which ended in 2003, was used on only three suspects.
Dear David from Georgia: I want to thank you for the email you sent last week. It made me laugh out loud. It seems you were unhappy I took a shot at Rush Limbaugh a few days back.
Lunch hour in the South Lake Union neighborhood. Workers walk dogs they can take to the office. Lines form in hip restaurants. Something big is going on here, but the only sure sign of a major employer is the many blue ID cards hanging out of jackets.
"You," said Jack Nicholson's Jessep to Tom Cruise's Kaffee, "have the luxury of not knowing what I know." Viewers of the movie "Zero Dark Thirty " will, according to some informed persons, lose the luxury of not knowing about hard but morally defensible things done on their behalf.
In the 12 months we have to steel ourselves for the next State of the Union spectacle, let us count the ways that this spawn of democratic Caesarism -- presidency worship -- has become grotesque. It would be the most embarrassing ceremony in the nation's civic liturgy, were the nation still capable of being embarrassed by its puerile faith in presidential magic.
So it turns out Chris Christie is fat. If, somehow, that fact had escaped you before, surely it came slamming home recently after he appeared on "The Late Show with David Letterman." There was the 50-year-old governor of New Jersey jokingly snacking on a doughnut as the talk-show host -- who has taken a jab or two at Christie's weight -- gently asked him about his girth. The bit was in keeping with how Christie usually deals with weight-related humor. He seems to feel the best defense is a good fat joke.
PASS CHRISTIAN -- Four different groups have ventured to our new holiday home on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. One found it. I've carefully typed out the same detailed instructions for all travelers, giving the benefit of my considerable experience finding the shortest route. All four carloads ignored my directions and relied on some kind of global positioning gadget in their computers, telephones or cars.
Before Ronald Reagan traveled the 16 blocks to the White House after his first inaugural address, the White House curator had, at the new president's instruction, hung in the Cabinet room a portrait of Calvin Coolidge. The Great Communicator knew that "Silent Cal" could use words powerfully -- 15 of them made him a national figure -- because he was economical in their use, as in all things.
"Obama says he's going to make middle-class jobs," the breakfast room troubadour bellowed at the Holiday Inn Express to those who wanted to listen -- and to those who didn't. "Did he make your job?" he went on, cornering a female employee. "Private companies make jobs." The commentary was not entirely wrong.
The following is a crashing generalization, but here goes: When it comes to how we dress, there are serious gender inequities -- in standards of comfort and in body exposure. Valentine's Day underscores a third that rankles just as much: inequality of effort. Go to any romantic restaurant on Valentine's Day, and observe. The girls are dressed for festivity, and the boys are dressed for walking the dog.
With his chronically gravelly voice and relentlessly liberal agenda, Sherrod Brown seems to have stepped out of "Les Miserables," hoarse from singing revolutionary anthems at the barricades. Today, Ohio's senior senator has a project worthy of Victor Hugo -- and of conservatives' support. He wants to break up the biggest banks.
We may never know exactly what happened in Benghazi, Libya, the night Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed, but it's becoming increasingly clear that our response was short of optimal.
PASS CHRISTIAN -- The week I became 60, I was on the Gulf Coast, the weather was balmy and life definitely seemed worth living.
This year, for the State of the Union address, Democrats and Republicans (those who can find "dates," anyway) will be sitting together. It is supposed to be a signal to the nation of bipartisanship -- at least the kind that allows people from opposite parties, as we used to do decades ago, to put their differences aside at the end of the day.
While all the figures aren't in and almost certainly never will be, the Center for Responsive Politics has estimated that roughly $6 billion was spent on the 2012 election, including $2 billion on the presidential contest and something on the order of $4 billion on congressional and state races. This gives us, I suppose, the best government money can buy -- which is certainly not the best we could have.
I'm looking forward to the year 2040, because that is when we won't be debating anymore whether birth control belongs in a basic health plan.
1. Slimantics: The man who wouldn't go home LOCAL COLUMNS
2. Possumhaw: It was a big fish LOCAL COLUMNS
3. Thomas Sowell: A primer on race NATIONAL COLUMNS
5. Froma Harrop: Will the blabbermouths wake Democrats up? NATIONAL COLUMNS