Yes, things are getting better. But that's not saying much. Republicans have lowered the standards of Congress so much that the completion of a basic task like passing a budget or confirming a non-controversial judge is now cause for celebration. Americans shouldn't accept the low standards of this new normal. It's like the relief of having a tooth pulled. The ache that's been with you for so long is gone, the sharp pain of having it pulled is over. But there's something missing. As we look forward to the year ahead, let's remember the tasks we left behind in the rancorous, bitter 2013. Barely functioning is not enough. We have a lot of work to do. Here's to higher standards in 2014!
One distraught woman from Florida pleaded with me -- in a conversation I'll never forget -- to "Please, please, please don't ruin the Rose Parade for us! We're Christians and watch it every year with our grandchildren. Homosexuality is an abomination. Jesus said so in Genesis." Seriously. "Jesus said so in Genesis." I couldn't make that up.