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In this Dec. 7, 2005 file photo, former South African President, Nelson Mandela, smiles at the Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg. The former political prisoner who became the country's first black president in 1994 died in December 2013 at the age of 95. Pan Macmillan said Tuesday, March 24, 2015, that it will publish the sequel to Mandela's best-selling autobiography "Long Walk to Freedom" in Britain, South Africa, India and Australasia in 2016. U.S. and Canadian rights have not yet been sold. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

Dreams of children of angry fathers

Most Americans can’t quite understand how events of previous centuries still have the power to stir anger and resentments, and make an appreciation of their common interests difficult. Well, some Americans can recall a certain anger late on a summer night after a third or even fourth bourbon and branch water, but the feeling quickly goes away. Nations, after all, do not have permanent friends, in Lord Palmerston’s famous explanation to Queen Victoria, but nations do have permanent interests and memories of a civil war no longer poisons those interests on these shores.

Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, says he'll try to force the Senate to vote on a bill halting the subsidy that lawmakers and their staffs get to pay for insurance on the Obamacare exchanges, saying that's a benefit no other American receives, so Congress shouldn't either. (Associated Press)

Treats from the congressional buffet

Successful congressional candidates of both parties often — perhaps usually — suffer amnesia when they get to Washington, and get a glance of the vast buffet of perks Congress votes for itself. They forget a lot of the promises they made during their successful campaigns for Congress. Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, a Republican, has not forgotten. He’s trying to find out who certified that Congress is a “small business” so its members and their highly paid staffs could be eligible for an Obamacare subsidy for employees of businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

Environmentalists say the delta smelt population has declined because state and federal water pumps suck in and kill smelt, which usually spawn in the delta's upper reaches in spring.

Solar-powered park benches and the delta smelt get their day

America celebrated the planet Wednesday with the gaudy red, white and blue charm guaranteed to turn a tree-hugger green. Earth Day was first observed 45 years ago when most baby boomers were teenagers, and now the candles are dripping all over the birthday cake. It’s only natural. Repetition becomes routine, and routine hides the original idea, which is rendered meaningless. It doesn’t take a campaign to care for the planet, and some of the Earth Day observances are starting to look a little silly.

Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks to potential supporters at the Londonderry Fish and Game club in Litchfield, N.H., Sunday, April 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

Gunning for fun in ’16

It’s the conceit of every generation to think in terms of hyperbole, that nobody has seen the trouble it sees. But the 2016 campaign for the White House promises to be as personal and divisive as any in a long time. The politics of threats, fireworks and innuendo have begun. The Democratic and Republican front-runners have been around for a long time, and have the help of longtime loyalists with a history of using every weapon in their arsenal to cripple and destroy.

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This March 13, 2012 photo shows older and newly constructed 250,000 barrel capacity oil storage tanks at the SemCrude tank farm north of Cushing, Okla. (AP Photo/Tulsa World, Michael Wyke) KOTV OUT; KJRH OUT; KTUL OUT; KOKI OUT; KQCW OUT; KDOR OUT; TULSA OUT; TULSA ONLINE OUT

An oily blast from the past

Predictions of gloom and doom have been with us since before steam replaced sail on the high seas, putting thousands of galley slaves out of work. Panic has driven modern man, even in our own times, to extreme and unworkable solutions to problems manufactured in the heat of fright and alarm.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks during the Iowa Agriculture Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, on March 7, 2015. (Associated Press) **FILE**

Critiquing the president

President Obama, still the college professor at heart, doesn't easily listen to criticism or argument. Only he knows what's what, and he grades on a steep curve. When Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin critiqued the deal the president is about to strike with Iran, the president retorted that the governor didn't know what he was talking about. He should "bone up" before he says anything, the president said.

FILE- In this Nov. 10, 2009 file photo, soldiers salute as they honor victims of the Fort Hood shooting at a memorial service at Fort Hood, Texas. The Army said in a letter addressed to Congress on Friday, Feb. 6, 2015 that the victims of the 2009 shooting that left 13 dead and more than 30 wounded will receive the Purple Hearts many have said they deserve. (AP Photo/Donna McWilliam, File)

Honor at Fort Hood

There's a difference, you might say, between a hero and a zero, and President Obama has blurred that difference in Washington. But the Bard was right, truth will out, and so was Abraham Lincoln, you can't fool all the people all the time, not even at the White House. Several heroes are about to get their just rewards.

Palestinian residents of the besieged refugee camp of Yarmouk wait at the gate of the camp to receive aid supplies from the United Nations on the southern edge of the Syrian capital, Damascus. The deteriorating situation brought on by Syria's civil war prompted the U.N. Security Council to call an emergency meeting Monday, April 6, 2015, to discuss Yarmouk, calling for safe evacuation for the Palestinians, protection for the refugees, and humanitarian access to the camp. (AP Photo/SANA, File)

Muslims killing Muslims

The barbarians of ISIS no longer have the ability to surprise anyone. They have beheaded innocents, set a captive afire in a cage, taught children how to shoot to kill at point-blank range, and murdered Christians only because they worship the Christ. The West is outraged, both for the brutality and by its frustration for not doing much about it.

Republican Presidential candidate, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks, Wednesday, April 8, 2015, in Milford, N.H. Paul, a newly declared Republican presidential candidate, is dodging a central question about abortion: What exceptions, if any, should be made if the procedure were to be banned? In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, Paul would not say where, in his view, a pregnant woman’s rights begin and those of the fetus end.(AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Rand Paul to the starting line

If diversity is the secret of winning politics, the Republicans are running the most ambitious cafeteria in town, featuring the favorite dishes of several freshman senators fired by both conviction and ambition. If a hungry customer doesn't see what he wants, there's probably something else coming from the kitchen.

FILE - In this May 24, 2011 file photo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walks with House Speaker  John Boehner of Ohio, to make a statement on Capitol Hill in Washington.  American politicians like to pick and choose when they’ll abide by the storied notion that politics should stop at the water's edge, and when to give that idea a kick in the pants.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

When the thrill of a romance is gone

That pop and crackle in the air is the sound of strains on a romance, like the noise of a cooling wood stove. The Jewish love affair with the Democratic Party has not gone bust by any means but it's beginning to frazzle at the edges, as unrequited love inevitably does. The Democratic left, which now dominates the party, does not like Israel very much.

In this Aug. 17, 2010 file photo, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald talks to reporters after a jury found former Gov. Rod Blagojevich guilty on one count of the 24 counts against him in his federal corruption trial. in Chicago. Robert Blagojevich the brother of imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich offers fresh details in a new book to back his contention prosecutors used him as a pawn to get his younger sibling on charges he sought to hock President Barack Obama's old U.S. Senate seat. While charges were eventually dropped against him, the Tennessee businessman, says his refusal to turn on his brother made him "collateral damage" of an overzealous prosecution that cost his reputation, $1 million in legal bills and a still-unrepaired family split. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

The crimes of the prosecutors

Prosecutors, like cops, usually deal with people who aren't very nice. Prosecutors at every level rarely see the occasional bursts of human kindness that lead the rest of us to see the good among the bad. Unfortunately, some prosecutors, blind to the good among the bad, conclude that evildoers don't deserve a break, that the important thing is to get evildoers behind bars, so anything goes. If no actual evildoers are available, make one up.

Homes with swimming pools border the desert of this neighborhood Friday, April 3, 2015, in Cathedral City, Calif. California Gov. Jerry Brown ordered officials Wednesday to impose statewide mandatory water restrictions for the first time in history as surveyors found the lowest snow level in the Sierra Nevada snowpack in 65 years of record-keeping. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Dry days in California

California excess is the stuff of the tabloids, often entertainment for all, but the drought is not funny. Gov. Jerry Brown has ordered mandatory water restrictions for the first time, extending them far beyond the manicured lawns of Brentwood, the vineyards of Sonoma and the Napa Valley and the scenic coastline of picture postcards. When the going gets tough, the tough will have to turn off the taps. It's going to hurt.

Russian President Vladimir Putin smiles during a meeting on Internet startups in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Friday, March 27, 2015. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)

President Obama’s dreamy dreams

Words enough to fill an unabridged dictionary went into the tentative "framework" that President Obama and the Western powers reached with Iran to address Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. All those words could be distilled in John Lennon's naive refrain: "All we are saying is give peace a chance." While Barack Obama was preoccupied with erecting his "framework," Vladimir Putin was busy, too, reminding his European neighbors that Mao Zedong's favorite and not-so-nave refrain still applies: "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

Opponents of Indiana Senate Bill 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, march past the Indiana Statehouse en route to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Saturday, April 4, 2015 to push for a state law that specifically bars discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

A tale of two governors: There was dithering in Indiana, quick and effective action in Arkansas

The great religious liberty debate has been put to bed if not to sleep, if only for now. We can be sure the devout and aggressive secularists of the left are picking through the debris of controversy to find something more to quarrel with. Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana marched up the hill to defend his state's law and then wobbled down again as if to surrender. Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, on the other hand, saw a prospective problem of perception with similar legislation in his state, asked the legislature to fix it, and be quick about it, and within 24 hours had a slightly revised bill on his desk, and he signed it.

Republicans seem intent on using Harry Reid's own "nuclear option" against him.  (Associated Press)

A day to celebrate Harry Reid

Harry Reid's decision to retire after 32 years in the House and Senate, 10 of them as the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, is good news not only for Republicans, but also for everyone else saddened by the deterioration of political rhetoric.

Boys dressed as shepherds take part in the Children's Holy Thursday Procession, in Tunja, Colombia, Thursday, April 2, 2015. In this annual procession, now in its 55th year, children depict the key moments of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

The Passion

Straightaway in the morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered Him to Pilate.

FILE  In this March 31, 2015 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. President Barack Obama on Wednesday authorized a new U.S. government approach to deterring cyberattacks: financial sanctions against malicious overseas hackers and companies that knowingly benefit from the fruits of cyber espionage.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Going green with the globalists

The jolly green giant has a fan in the White House. President Obama has signed us up to salute the United Nations' climate change agenda. By pledging allegiance to the Global Climate Treaty, the president won't actually accomplish much in weather control beyond enriching the likes of Al Gore and his friends in the renewable energy industry. Playing God is just another day in the Oval Office for the spender in chief, but it requires the American taxpayer to worship with dollars at the altar of environmental extremism.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks Jan. 2, 2015, after taking the oath of office at the District of Columbia Mayoral Inauguration ceremony at the Convention Center in Washington. (Associated Press) **FILE**

Mayor Bowser's all-inclusive budget

Knockoffs of the State of the Union addresses are all the rage now — we're waiting for someone to make a State of the Precinct Address. Mayor Muriel Bowser delivered her first State of the District Address this week, and, following script, there was a recitation of the accolades bestowed on the nation's capital. We're cool with foodies, the tech community, the entrepreneurs and the city is in the top five cities in new construction.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks question during a news conference, Tuesday, March 31, 2015, in Indianapolis. Pence said that he wants legislation on his desk by the end of the week to clarify that the state's new religious-freedom law does not allow discrimination against gays and lesbians. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Bad faith in Indiana

The row over Indiana's religious liberty law breaks new ground in the war between religious liberty and the liberal political agenda. If there's no conflict, you have to make one up. This contretemps blew up out of nowhere, and inquiring minds want to know how and why it happened.

The U.S. Capitol building is seen through the columns on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, May 5, 2014. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

A challenge to Congress

When Richard Nixon signed the legislation establishing the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, he was praised for his vision and commitment to conservation "going forward," though that cliche had yet to be coined. A few critics — "outliers," in another cliche waiting to be born — warned that the EPA could grow into a nightmare of a bureaucracy, but no one paid attention. Jeremiahs are rarely popular at the picnic.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday, March 29, 2015. Netanyahu said he has "deep concern" over a pending nuclear deal the West appears close to signing with Israel's arch-enemy Iran. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty, Pool)

Virginia’s lawyers scratch Israel

This is the season for despising Israel and the Jews. The terrorists of Hamas dispatch agents of evil into the country bent on mayhem and sabotage. Palestinians fire rockets at Israeli children from launchers stationed at schools, hospitals and other places where they can find protection among the children, the lame, the halt and the helpless. President Obama contributes tone and tint to the campaign, determined to reward Iran with a sweetheart deal to protect its nuclear-weapons program, which it has promised to use to wipe Israel and the Jews "off the face of the earth." Mr. Obama, bent on revenge for censure and criticism, merely wants to wipe the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, off the face of Israel.

President Barack Obama speaks at the dedication of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston, Monday, March 30, 2015. The $79 million Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate dedication is a politically star-studded event attended by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and past and present senators of both parties. It sits next to the presidential library of Kennedy’s brother, John F. Kennedy. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The nuclear mirage in Iran

Many a lost traveler in the desert has spied an oasis in the sand and sun only to discover that it was only a mirage. In similar desperation, President Obama sees a good deal with Iran on the horizon, where he would put an end to the strife in the Middle East and finally earn the Nobel Peace Prize his admirers in Sweden gave him in a similar fit of euphoria as he took his first oath of office.

FILE  In this March 25, 2015 file photo, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. waits on the floor of the House Capitol Hill in Washington for the arrival of Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani, who was to speak before  a joint meeting of Congress. Reid is announcing he will not seek re-election to another term. The 75-year-old Reid says in a statement issued by his office Friday that he wants to make sure Democrats regain control of the Senate next year and that it would be "inappropriate" for him to soak up campaign resources when he could be focusing on putting the Democrats back in power. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

The end of a Senate era

Harry Reid still has one good eye, and it's enough to read the handwriting on the wall. Announcing that he won't run for a sixth term, he said Friday that he wants to "go out at the top of my game." That's a face-saving way of saying he doesn't want to go out feet first.