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FILE - This May 13, 2015, file photo, shows Google's new self-driving car during a demonstration at the Google campus in Mountain View, Calif. The federal government's highway safety agency agrees with Google: Computers that will control the cars of the future can be considered their driver. The redefinition of "driver" is an important break for Google. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File)

Self-driven cars are on the way

Machines with a mind of their own are the future, and self-driving automobiles will soon be sharing the road with cars and trucks with real drivers. Labor-saving devices are always welcome, and driving on roads in the congested communities where most Americans live is certainly a chore.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks to the Illinois General Assembly Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, inside the House chamber at the Illinois Capitol in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Obama’s slick oil tax

When every problem looks like a shortage of cash, every solution looks like a tax. President Obama sees a $10 surcharge on every barrel of oil the nation consumes as the key to fixing America’s transportation system. The dramatic decline in global oil prices has put money back into the pockets of Americans, and predictably, the president intends to seize what he imagines is his “fair share.”

A child jihadi armed with a rocket-propelled grenade has threatened to execute President Obama in a chilling new video released by the Islamic State terrorist group. (Screen grab of Islamic State video via The Daily Mail)

No game for children

Innocence, once lost, vanishes forever. Spoiling a child’s only opportunity to laugh and play without the cares of adulthood is a crime. Many children are swept into the violence their parents unleashed across the world, and the fortunate ones cheat death only to endure wasted childhood years and a joyless life.

The candidates and the Court

The Republican presidential candidates have mostly ignored one of the most important issues the man (or woman) elected in November will face in his or her first term — filling vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court. Hillary Clinton, however, has no reluctance to say that she will apply a litmus test in selecting nominees, and suggests that Barack Obama would be a good addition to the High Court.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks at a town hall-style campaign event, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

A nation of dog-whistlers

Modern America is an ethnic minefield, and everyone must mind his step. It’s getting more dangerous as the presidential campaign moves toward crucial primaries in the bigger states. The unwary among us can step on one of those mines and blow holes in the peaceable land, and all unaware.

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In this Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 photo, Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party, DPP, presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen raises her hand as she declares victory in the presidential election, in Taipei, Taiwan. (AP Photo/Wally Santana, FIle)

Good news from Taiwan

The Republic of China (Taiwan) has become an economic powerhouse, the fifth largest in Asia and in the top 20 in the world, and even more important, its political institutions are stable. Real growth has averaged about 8 percent over the past three decades. The older labor-intensive industries have steadily moved elsewhere, replaced by technology-intensive industries.

The grim news comes with less than a year left for President Obama to put the Affordable Care Act on firmer footing as he seeks to head off what is likely to be a last effort at repealing the act after November's elections. (Associated Press)

Obama's not-so-hot report card

Not everyone can win a popularity contest, which is why not everybody can be the president. As difficult as winning may be, staying in the good graces of the electorate is even more difficult. Seven years after climbing to the top of the heap, public-opinion has put President Obama in his rightful place: well below average. The judgment of his countrymen can be cruel, but it happens to every president.

For Fox News, Donald Trump's absence could be disastrous. The candidate said his presence has helped the previous debates set records for viewership. "Without me, they'd have no ratings," he said in a Twitter post Tuesday as the feud erupted. (Associated Press)

Will he, or won't he, show up?

Conventional wisdom once held that a front-runner shouldn't debate his challengers because meeting them on the same stage gives them stature. So why do a favor for a challenger? That's why Ronald Reagan wouldn't debate George H.W. Bush in 1980. He sat on his lead, lost to Mr. Bush on caucus night and breathed new life into a challenger who began the race as a footnote in most early polls.

Homecoming: A U.S. government plane met with a Dassault Falcon of the Swiss army air force at Geneva airport in Switzerland to bring back to the U.S. American hostages who were recently freed from lengthy imprisonments in Iran. (Associated Press)

The price of freedom

Freedom is priceless, or used to be. A longstanding American policy decrees that the United States will never negotiate with terrorists, and will never pay ransom for hostages. That rule has been honored in the breach -- never is a long time -- but the rule has never been more enthusiastically abused than during the Obama years.

FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, file photo, more than 30 oil drilling rigs are idle in a Helmerich & Payne, Inc. yard in Odessa, Texas, along Highway 80, as rig counts drop in the Permian Basin. The price of oil continues to fall, extending a slide that has already gone further and lasted longer than most thought, and probing depths not seen since 2003. Lower crude prices are leading to lower prices for gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and heating oil, giving drivers, shippers, and many businesses a big break on fuel costs. But layoffs across the oil industry are mounting, and bankruptcies among oil companies are expected to soar. (Courtney Sacco/Odessa American via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

A new energy 'crisis'

Big Oil, particularly in the Middle East, never had it so good, and now some of the sheiks sound like they've never had it so bad. A gallon of Perrier, Poland Spring or Mountain Valley Water costs more than a gallon of crude, and Big Oil ain't seen nothin' yet. The shale revolution continues to shake up old assumptions and change things as revolutions always do.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Dordt College, on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in Sioux Center, Iowa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

'Politics ain't beanbag'

It was back in 1895 that Finley Peter Dunne's fictional Mr. Dooley first observed that "politics ain't beanbag," but nothing has happened since to throw doubt on Dooley's words. In fact, this year's Republican presidential campaign sounds a lot like something Mr. Dooley would have truly enjoyed.

President Barack Obama speaks in Detroit. During an interview with Politico posted on its website Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, Obama was extremely cautious in discussing the presidential campaign to avoid showing explicit favor in the Democratic race. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

Unsustainable overspending

Compound interest, so the saying goes, is the most powerful force in the universe. It can turn a meager investment into a rich treasure with the passage of time. It can also transform manageable debt into a crushing financial burden that can never be repaid. Sadly, that could be the fate of the United States due to persistent overspending, according to the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) Summary of the Budget and Economic Outlook.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he speaks at the Justice Department in Washington to discuss the Aug. 9, 2014, shooting in Ferguson, Mo. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

A racket in the chicken house

Some of the chickens of Eric Holder, the former attorney general, and President Obama are fluttering over the chicken house again, looking for the roost. One of those chickens, as persistent as a tough old Dominecker hen, is the Holder scheme called "Fast & Furious."

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas speaks during a campaign stop at the Freedom Country Store, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, in Freedom, N.H. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

For the love of Christ

Evangelical Christians have a passion for spreading the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ "to the whole world," and that's a wonderful thing. This passion has led Christians of various denominations to build hospitals, found colleges and universities, establish orphanages and educate the poor and impoverished.

President Barack Obama speaks as he visits UAW-GM Center for Human Resources in Detroit, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016. (Daniel Mears/Detroit News via AP, Pool)

The Obama legacy

President Obama is determined to leave American relations with Israel, the nation's only reliable ally in the Middle East, in ruins as part of his legacy. He doesn't seem to understand that a president doesn't design his legacy. Reality takes care of that, and the legacy he will leave is well established already.

A man climbs the border wall to cross into the United States from Tijuana, Mexico, on Sept. 11, 2008. (Associated Press) **FILE**

A step toward border order

Barack Obama is about to find out whether he's a power unto himself or merely a president. His immigration orders will be held up against the standard of the U.S. Constitution, tattered and oft-ignored as it may be.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during the King Day at the Dome event celebrating the life of Martin Luther King Jr., Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

Tests for the president's men (and women)

There are moments in history when the fate of nations lies at the mercy of the integrity of a single person. We're at such a moment now, and growing numbers of Americans are beginning to realize that. Hillary Clinton, who more than half of the people answering the pollsters say they do not think is honest and trustworthy, violated the rules by running her official business through a personal email server.

President Barack Obama listens as Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016. Obama welcomes Turnbull, his first foreign leader of the new year, for talks that will cover the Islamic State militant group and a 12-nation Pacific Rim trade agreement. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Burying coal

Invention is the engine of progress, but when President Obama claims that he "reinvented our energy sector," he should say that he has put the engine in reverse. His scheme to keep coal in the ground to make alternative energy sources more price-competitive will only make the cost of living more expensive. It's part of his war on the middle class.

President Barack Obama waves at the conclusion of his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

Ending the audacity of overreach

President Obama marveled during his State of the Union address at the breathtaking rate of change sweeping the nation. He didn't mention that the phenomenon — and its disorienting effect — has been largely his doing. He campaigned on a promise of "hope and change," and what America got was destructive change and not much hope.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

The consequences of romancing mullahs

It's hard to exaggerate the strategic disaster of Barack Obama's celebrated deal with the mullahs in the Islamic Republic of Iran. With "lone wolf" murders proliferating and no central command over them, the president has emboldened a vicious wing of radical Islamic terrorism.

An Indian washerman works on the banks of the River Brahmaputra on a foggy winter morning in Gauhati, India, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

Preventing a water war in Asia

Just when Asia was getting accustomed to the Chinese threat to the oceans of Southeast Asia, there's another water worry for Asians. The government in Beijing controls the health of six major South and Southeastern Asian rivers, the heart of life in the region. All of the rivers rise on the Tibetan plateau.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, left, addresses the Maryland House of Delegates as House Speaker Michael Busch, center, and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford stand nearby, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Annapolis, Md. Maryland lawmakers gathered for the start of their annual 90-day legislative session. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)

Gov. Larry Hogan and voting rights

Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland is a man of judgment and courage. The odds were against his being elected governor of one of the most relentlessly blue states, where conservative Republicans are all but an endangered species. Despite occasional exceptions -- Spiro Agnew and Robert Ehrlich come to mind -- Democrats have taken success as their due. But Gov. Hogan, both a Republican and a conservative, beat the odds.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during his annual address to the foreign media, in Jerusalem, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Israel’s prime minister says Sweden’s foreign minister’s call for a probe into the deaths of Palestinian attackers is “absurd” and “unjust.”  (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

Bloviation, demand and swagger

Boycotts are tempting weapons when persuasion doesn't work, but except in rare, special circumstances where alternatives are scarce, such as Martin Luther King's celebrated bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., more than a half-century ago, boycotts don't work, either.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up during a campaign stop, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Portsmouth, N.H. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The pout of the elites

The Republican elites are so frightened by Donald Trump that many of them are making noises that they're ready to embrace Ted Cruz, who is, so we have been told over and over, universally disliked in Washington, and particularly by his colleagues in the U.S. Senate. That's close to an endorsement in this season of the noisy outsider, but it's nevertheless a symptom of a divided party.

Pakistani police officer and rescue workers gather at the site of suicide bombing in Quetta, Pakistan, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. The suicide attack on a polio vaccination center in southwestern Pakistan killed more than a dozen people and wounded many, officials said. (AP Photo/Arshad Butt)

Hope in Pakistan

The Pakistan government's move on radical Islamic militants suspected of participating in attacks on Indian border military installations in early January is good news, and not just for the region. It's good news for the United States, too.