OXFORD -- Why do we let politicians and the press get away with this? For years, we've been told with increasing fervor that rich people are America's problem and if only condemned for their miserly ways, we would have a better state and nation.
If you have worked hard for five decades, made pots of money and now want to squander it all in Las Vegas on wine, women and baccarat, go ahead.
Nothing like a debt-ceiling brawl to raise the public's anxiety levels.
Ah, the great American West, where man can generally breathe free and also inhale -- woman, too.
Christmas in my home city of Santa Monica is different this year. It used to be that there were elaborate displays depicting the birth of Jesus in the big public park by the ocean. I've always believed that Christmas is a major religious holiday, and the display reflected that. According to people who know more about such things than I do, the large dioramas told the story of Jesus' birth according to the Gospels of Luke and Matthew.
A few words to ponder as we sail toward the fiscal cliff. Those words would be: "That was then, this is now."
Something about the snakeskin flashlight for $25 sent me screaming to the Land of Bah Humbug. It was on one of those magazine lists of gifts for under $25 -- technically the snazzy flashlight was not "under" but "right at" -- which sucker me in to disappoint.
Americans are justified in feeling numbed by the car alarm of Washington politics. Every now and then, we get a reprieve from the noise. Something breaks through: a sex scandal, a gaffe, a surprise resignation. Already the words "Petraeus affair" have been supplanted by "DeMint's departure."
Young people are not exactly renowned for their judgment. We are, after all, talking about an age group that has to be told it is a bad idea to text while doing 70. Or drink alcohol till it spews from your nostrils. Or wear a T-shirt and flip-flops to interview for the office job.
Even Jonathan Swift, who said that promises and pie crusts are made to be broken, might have marveled at the limited shelf life of Barack Obama's promise of a balanced deficit-reduction plan, substantial spending cuts to accompany revenue increases.
As global warming causes more serious and frequent shoreline flooding, indignation rises over federal programs helping owners of beach properties rebuild in places the ocean wants to take back. Superstorm Sandy was a lollapalooza in terms of waterfront damage and demands on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's resources.
A variety of insults have been deployed in opposition to Susan Rice's likely nomination for secretary of state: She is not qualified; she's too aggressive; she "misled" the public following the lethal attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya.
On a recent "Meet the Press," host David Gregory presided in a tailored jacket and tie. Panelists Al Sharpton, David Brooks and Ken Burns appeared similarly professional. But the two female panelists, Andrea Mitchell and Carly Fiorina, seemed ready for cocktails, not coffee, in form-fitting dresses, arms naked to the world.
I have known Susan Rice for decades. We worked together in the '80s. I followed her career in the '90s. She served her country with intelligence and integrity during the Clinton administration and for the past four years as our country's representative to the United Nations.
With a chip on his shoulder larger than his margin of victory, Barack Obama is approaching his second term by replicating the mistake of his first.
As events have unfolded in what shall ever be known as "The Petraeus Affair," one cannot escape noticing that the women in this sordid saga have been handed the short end of the shtick, as though the men are mere victims of ambitious, hormonally driven vixens.
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