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FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2015, file photo, President Barack Obama speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. Even as Obama tries to make a hard case for sentencing reform, prisoner rehabilitation and confronting racial bias in policing, he has been less clear about the death penalty. Obama has hinted that his support for capital punishment is eroding, but he has refused to discuss what he might call for. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

When danger is deliberate

Barack Obama is blowing past all signs of caution on the left lanes of the road of American politics. That’s a dog-bites-man headline that by now is common knowledge. He no longer cares what Americans think of his leadership. His “my way or the highway” handling of the Syrian refugee crisis, which could endanger the homeland, seals it.

FILE - in this Nov. 13, 2012 photo a worker pulls a line of shopping carts toward a Wal-Mart store in North Kingstown, R.I.  Wal-Mart reported improved customer traffic and an uptick in a key sales figure as it topped earnings expectations in the third quarter, even as a stronger dollar pressured its performance overseas. Its shares edged up more than 2 percent in premarket trading Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015 after it detailed results from the quarter that ended Oct. 31. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Jeers for the greedy on Thanksgiving Day

Black Friday is traditionally the first taste of holiday cheer. Thanksgiving is unique in that it has never been commercialized like Christmas, although they’re working on it. One national advertiser thinks it should be renamed “Thanksgetting.” For union organizers, it means an opportunity to protest for higher wages. If the crowds flocking to the nation’s malls are anything like recent years, it means consumers aren’t buying the politics of envy.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he talks during a news conference at the end of the G-20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. The leaders of the Group of 20 wrapped up their two-day summit near the Turkish Mediterranean coastal city of Antalya Monday against the backdrop of heavy French bombardment of the Islamic State's stronghold in Syria. The bombings marked a significant escalation of France's role in the fight against the extremist group. (Anadolu Agency via AP, Pool)

A new crisis in an old place

These are scary times. Miscalculations can be expensive, paid for by everyone. The shooting of a mere archduke set off World War I, and Japanese militarists thought they saw an unarmed America too proud to fight, and ordered the raid on Pearl Harbor. The Arab nations thought Israel would fold under attack, and started two wars that ended with the Arab nations folding like the accordion.

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Defense Secretary Ashton Carter speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) ** FILE **

Protecting the sea lanes of Asia

The Permanent Court of Arbitration, an agency at the United Nations that listens to disputes about the UN's Law of the Sea, has agreed to hear the Philippines' case against China for building military bases on reefs in the South China Sea a thousand miles south of its Mainland.

"While I was proud of our candidates and the way they handled tonight's debate, the performance by the CNBC moderators was extremely disappointing and did a disservice to their network, our candidates, and voters," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. (Associated Press)

How to reform the presidential 'debates'

It's not clear just who's running the Republican debates, but the outrage of Reince Priebus over last week's gong-show moderators is understandable, and about time. The chairman of the Republican National Committee suspended the party's "partnership" with NBC News for a debate next February, close to crucial Iowa caucuses.

President Barack Obama speaks to the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Chicago, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune via AP) ** FILE **

The incremental road to disaster

The one great lesson from the Vietnam War is that waging war by increment is a recipe for disaster. It never works because armies are not designed to wage war piecemeal. You do a puppy no kindness by cutting off his tail an inch at a time.

Jeb Bush, second from left, is flanked by Mike Huckabee, left, Marco Rubio, center, Donald Trump, second from right, and Ben Carson during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The campaign gets serious

The Republican debate this week may have been the actual beginning of the 2016 Republican campaign for the presidency. All that has gone before was mere entertainment. The "real" candidates began to emerge and the CNBC-TV moderators, as bad as they were, helped with separating the wheat from the tares. The sifting and winnowing is finally under way.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, left, and Hillary Rodham Clinton laugh during the CNN Democratic presidential debate, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher) ** FILE **

The consequences of a 'living wage'

Everyone wants a raise, but only a few of us expect to get it by government edict. Some workers at the bottom of the payroll will see a larger paycheck — if they don't get a pink slip first. It can get cold in the real world because despite all the government can do there's still no free lunch.

In this Oct. 24, 2015, photo, Republican presidential candidateBen Carson greets audience members after speaking outside the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity at Iowa State University during a campaign stop in Ames, Iowa. Carson and the other Republican presidential candidates are getting ready for the third GOP debate on Oct. 28, in Boulder, Colo.(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The doctor is in

Ben Carson represents the best of America. Whether he should be the president of the United States is another question that is not under consideration here. But his ascent to the top of the public-opinion polls tells a lot about both the man and the country he wants to lead.

The lesson of Lois Lerner

Almost any prosecutor, so courthouse wisdom goes, can persuade a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, with or without cheese. Barack Obama's prosecutor, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, was "persuaded" to throw out the case against Lois Lerner, the high-ranking officer at the Internal Revenue Service who targeted Tea Party groups for special attention in the run-up to the 2010 and 2012 elections.

In a public opinion survey published Oct. 8 by the independent Levada Center pollster, more than 70 percent of Russians said they backed President Vladimir Putin's decision to launch airstrikes against forces opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad. (Associated Press)

Trying to recreate Soviet Russia

Vladimir Putin never sleeps, unlike his most famous counterpart elsewhere. He has refigured the Russian domestic scene in the Soviet image, one that gladdens the hearts of the remaining Soviets who never thought they would see his like again.

President Barack Obama speaks about his Clean Power Plan, Monday, Aug. 3, 2015, in the East Room at the White House in Washington. The president is mandating even steeper greenhouse gas cuts from U.S. power plants than previously expected, while granting states more time and broader options to comply. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Green is the color of climate science

The business of Washington is politics, but politics doesn't sell without "good optics." The White House that passed out white lab coats to a phalanx of doctors backing Obamacare in a Rose Garden photo-op, is lining up big-name companies now to pledge allegiance to "a low carbon-dioxide future" in advance of next month's climate change conference at the United Nations.

Rep. Paul Ryan had been reluctant to give up his role as head of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee and precious weekends with his family, so he demanded support from every wing of the party by Friday. (Associated Press)

The team we like

"Personnel is policy," most of the time, and whom a president, governor, senator or mayor surrounds himself with is a good way to judge whether he will stay true to his convictions, beliefs and values once comfortably in office. Once elected, such officials tend to attract either "yes men" or advisers with rogue agendas while taking care to appear to be reliable "yes men."

China's President Xi Jinping, attends a joint press conference with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, at 10 Downing Street, London, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015,  on the second day of his state visit to the UK. China's state visit to Britain moved from warm toasts and ceremony to cold, hard cash Wednesday, with business deals including a major Chinese investment in the U.K.'s first nuclear power station since the 1980s. (Suzanne Plunkett /Pool Photo via AP)

Concern in the Taiwan Strait

There might be a lesson in Taiwan for political parties in democratic states elsewhere about what to do when stuck with a bad candidate and an approaching election. Taiwan, where politics is always about survival, will elect a new president in January and the ruling Kuomintang, direct descendants of Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists who fled the Mainland Communists in 1949, was saddled with a nominee running 20 percentage points behind in the public-opinion polls.

This picture released by Cubadebate on its website early Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, shows Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Havana, Cuba, on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012. Castro has written an article on Sunday in state-media criticizing those who spread rumors he was on his death bed. (AP Photo/Alex Castro, Cubadebate)

Light on the opening to Cuba

Children, ex-wives and discarded mistresses can be the ruin, or at least the headaches, of dictators. Fidel Castro's son, a photographer, has confirmed the fears of the critics of Barack Obama's "opening to America" in an interview with a Chilean radio station. Alex Castro, the regime's official photographer, went to Chile to promote his photographic books at an international book fair.

This image provided by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shows a close-up of the red planet Mars. (AP Photo/NASA) **FILE**

Mars is calling

If you're not moving forward, you're falling behind. Like the hare that snoozed during his race with the tortoise, America is conceding leadership in human achievement in space. American astronauts conquered space decades ago, but now its astronauts must hitch rides aloft with the Russians.

House Benghazi Committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., left, and the committee's ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., have a heated discussion on the dais on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, as Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testified before the committee. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

A failed Benghazi responsibility

The tragedy in Benghazi is a profound public issue. Four American lives were squandered. A sovereign but woefully unprotected American diplomatic station on foreign soil was attacked by terrorists. The American people were sold a false narrative (a lie, in plain English) for weeks about the true nature of the attack.

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Just the facts, Ma'am

Capitol Hill often resembles a three-ring circus, but there must be no clowning around at the face-off Thursday between Hillary Clinton and the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Hillary's future as the face of the Democrats could rise or fall on the credibility of her answers to questions about her role in the events leading up to the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya.

Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, gave members until Friday to decide whether they agree with his vision for the party, one that includes trumpeting big ideas, making clear policy choices and a cooperative effort to change the way the House operates. (Associated Press)

Paul Ryan, as speaker of the House

Paul Ryan looks like a lock for a job he says he never wanted. We believe him. The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee says he values time with his family, his guns and the tax code. That sounds like the usual cliche of the pol departing Washington, but we believe him on this, too.

A storm cloud on the horizon

What looked like the cloud no bigger than a man's hand only weeks ago has become a dark and threatening cloudbank on the horizon. Nobody any longer says that Donald Trump can't win the Republican nomination. Some pundits are even saying maybe he could even be elected president.

Farewell to a friend

Americans were reminded this week of what a tried and true friend it has in its Canadian neighbor, a relationship all but unique in the world. That reminder, Ken Taylor, Canada's ambassador to Iran who hid six Americans in the ambassador's residence during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, died last week at 81.