San Francisco Chronicle

The Palin Primary
October 11, 2011

Now that Chris Christie has plighted his troth to Mitt Romney, who will Sarah Palin endorse? According to The Hill, husband Todd has been fielding requests from the GOP presidential hopefuls. "I look forward to working with them in order to help them maybe articulate their message in more detail," La Palin said on Fox, "so we can make that best decision." Palin may find it difficult to locate a candidate she hasn't already insulted.

Locked Up for Life
August 20, 2009

In his column today, Nicholas Kristof argues that the United States wastes massive amounts of money on its prison system. Why? Because we unnecessarily imprison some nonviolent offenders, namely drug users and dealers. The result, Kristof says, is that the government is investing vast sums in keeping people who aren't necessarily dangerous under lock and key--while our education and health care systems suffer from underfunding. "California spends $216,000 annually on each inmate in the juvenile justice system," he writes.

Wall Eyed
July 31, 2006

READ ABOUT U.S. EFFORTS to seal the Mexican border, and you quickly encounter two words. The first is futile. Take this June 5 dispatch in U.S. News & World Report, which reports on the "deep sense of futility" about illegal immigration in the town of Nogales, on the Arizona-Mexico border. "The number of Border Patrol agents has increased more than 200 percent in less than 15 years.... Yet the number of people estimated to cross the border illegally each year has remained fairly constant, at about half a million.

May 03, 2004

Quack gay marriage science

See No Evil
February 09, 2004

IMAGINE THAT THE king has died. Now imagine that every day on television you see a procession of people chanting, “Long live the king!” Imagine it wasn’t always this way: Just a few years ago, if the king’s health became shaky, everyone discussed the problem openly. But no more. And now you have to choose. Either you go along and pretend that a dead man is alive—which isn’t all that difficult, since everyone is doing it—or you insist, unreasonably, that you see what you see, in which case you will be branded a kook. Now imagine you’ve been parachuted into a country like this as a foreign corre

Sweet And Low
March 22, 1999

I. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (HarperFlamingo, 546 pp., $26) Barbara Kingsolver is the most successful practitioner of a style in contemporary fiction that might be called Nice Writing. Nice Writing is a violent affability, a deadly sweetness, a fatal gentle touch. But before I start in on Kingsolver's work, I feel I must explain why I feel that I must start in on it. I do so for a younger version of myself, for the image that I carry inside me of a boy who was the son of a sadistic, alcoholic father, and of a mother who was hurt but also hurtful, and abusive.