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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.

President Barack Obama speaks at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. The annual event brings together U.S. and international leaders from different parties and religions for an hour devoted to faith. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Obama’s curious religious concerns

President Obama’s selective attitude toward religious persecution is puzzling, even to those who are eager to give him the benefit of every doubt. He’s eager to reassure peaceful Muslims in the United States that they are welcome among us. It’s right and good for him to do that, though he could have moderated his hectoring tone.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks in Derry, N.H. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

Hillary’s tin-ear disease

Willie Sutton, the famous bank robber of a bygone age, and Hillary Clinton are two of a kind. Someone, probably a psychology major working on a term paper, once asked Willie why he robbed banks. He answered simply, “because that’s where the money is.”

Protestors against asylum seekers being deported, gather for a rally in Sydney, Australia, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. Australia was resisting mounting international pressure not to deport child asylum seekers, with a minister warning on Thursday that allowing them to stay could attract more refugees to come by boat. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

Australia’s migrant tide

The immigrant surge throughout the world is not just south to north. Migrants are surging to Australia, too, and Australia’s highest court has ordered a temporary respite from a migrant threat like that in Europe and North America.

Herds of Asian elephants in Malaysia's Taman Negara National Park in Pahang state are apparently larger than feared, according to an examination of the dung they leave behind.

A dilemma for Jumbo

Liberty and freedom are man’s natural desires, but like everything else liberation is complicated, as man and elephant are learning in Myanmar, or Burma as it was called for centuries. Myanmar is making its way back into the real world after sitting it out in isolation for almost a hundred years.

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President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Jan. 20, 2015, as Vice President Joe Biden applauds and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio listens. (Associated Press)

President Obama's last hurrah

By President Obama's lights, he has saved the best for last. In a leaked peek at his final State of the Union address Tuesday night, he says that he wants to focus on "the big things" that will have importance "in the years to come." Among these are his "successes" in handling of the economy, climate change and gun control.

The price of uncontrolled immigration

The waves of migrants flooding across Europe, from North Africa through the Middle East to Pakistan and even Bangladesh, now threaten the very existence of the European Union. The promise of cheap and easily abused labor, which glittered like so much fool's gold in the eyes of the business elites, suddenly looks like the promise of a nightmare.

Multiculturalism reconsidered

Ageneration ago the Europeans, who had bled themselves white in war after war, usually in the service of chauvinistic nationalism, decided they could save the day with a new concept called multiculturalism. The concept was vague but expansive, which celebrated ethnic and other cultural differences and sprinkling them with holy water.

In this frame from a Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016 video provided by the Philadelphia Police Department, Edward Archer runs with a gun toward a police car driven by Officer Jesse Hartnett in Philadelphia. Archer, using a gun stolen from police, said he was acting in the name of Islam when he ambushed Hartnett sitting in his marked cruiser at an intersection, firing shots at point-blank range, authorities said. (Philadelphia Police Department via AP)

Another town, another attack on a cop

When a religious zealot fires 13 shots at a Philadelphia policeman, hitting him three times, and says he did it in the name of radical Islam and the mayor says no, religious belief had nothing to do with the shooter's motives, who should we believe? The mayor or our very own eyes and ears?

A tear wells up in President Barack Obama's eye as he speaks about the youngest victims of the Sandy Hook shootings, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. while speaking about steps his administration is taking to reduce gun violence. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Obama's half-hearted crusade

After months of planning and anticipation, rumor and rumination, President Obama finally issued his executive orders, together with a few regulatory "adjustments," that he says will put a damper on the "gun violence" that he -- and the rest of us -- so abhor.

Police officers arrest protester Asa Khalif during the Mummers Day Parade on New Year's Day in Philadelphia on Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. Dozens of activists from the Black Lives Matter movement used the parade to stage a protest. (David Swanson/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

Where is that 'war on blacks'?

One of the persistent narratives of the year just past was that the police are conducting a deadly war on black America. The narrative is pushed by media sensationalists until it becomes conventional wisdom. The narrative is wrong. The facts, collected by nonpartisan sources, say so. Perception, often encouraged by irresponsible reporters and pundits, nevertheless becomes reality, and anger and fear fester.

About 150 Muslim workers have been fired from Cargill Meat Solutions in Fort Morgan, Colorado, after walking off the job to protest a workplace prayer dispute. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

Prayer, discrimination and privilege

Everyone is entitled to his faith and his expression of it, but there's a gray area between the inner experience of worship and how its outer expression affects the lives of others. This leads to difficult judgments on how far society must go to accommodate the practice of faith. For Christians in the Age of Obama, the answer is sometimes not very far; for Muslims, a little farther.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to the audience as he arrives to inaugurate the International Conference on Frontiers in Yoga Research and its Applications in Jigani, near Bangalore, India, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016. The conference aims to make an effort to integrate Ayurveda, Naturopathy, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, Homeopathy and modern medicine by bringing prominent researchers and doctors from all these fields on one platform. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

Islamic terrorists open a new front

Just what the civilized world needs, a new front in the war against radical Islamic terrorism: Two terrorists were killed this week in an attack on the Pathankot Indian Air Force Base, a critical installation on the India-Pakistan border, near the troubled Himalaya state of Kashmir.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, leaves the Senate chamber after a roll call vote at the Capitol in Washington, in this Nov. 12, 2014, file photo. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Logjam in the U.S. Senate

If you have been nominated by the president for a federal judgeship, a top job in the executive branch or a government job related to finance and banking, you shouldn't quit the job you have now. There's a backlog of nominees waiting for confirmation votes, and there won't be many of those in the new year.

President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the White House Brady Press Briefing Room in Washington. Obama is slated Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, to finalize a set of new executive actions tightening the nation’s gun laws. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Who lost the Middle East?

Saudi Arabia raised the threat to the peace and stability of the world with its display of more barbarism in the Middle East, executing 47 dissidents on January 2, some on the gallows and some beheaded in the government butcher shop. The execution of a prominent Shia cleric was particularly provocative.

Britain's Labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, applauds during the party's annual conference in Brighton, southern England, Sunday Sept. 27, 2015. (Gareth Fuller/PA Via AP)  UNITED KINGDOM OUT  NO SALES  NO ARCHIVE

Disillusion on the left, again

The curious attraction of socialism for intelligent and otherwise level-headed men and women has a certain abused logic. Injustice and inequality often seem to reign without challenge, and some men and women of fertile imagination and an activist view of the world seek a remedy for the trials, tribulations and injustices in this world rather than wait for perfection in the next, as religious faith promises.

Michelle Morrow practices on the shooting range at the Spring Guns and Amo store Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Spring, Texas. President Barack Obama defended his plans to tighten the nation's gun-control restrictions on his own, insisting Monday that the steps he'll announce fall within his legal authority and uphold the constitutional right to own a gun. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Riding a hobby horse to the wrong place

President Obama, feckless in the pursuit of the nation's real enemies, is relentless in riding his spavined hobby horse to all the wrong places. He thinks the guns of the law-abiding are more to blame for crime and violence than mental illness, criminality and terrorism. He's determined to do something about it even if he has to ride roughshod over Congress and the people.

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Second World Internet Conference in Wuzhen Town, east China's Zhejiang Province, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. (Chinatopix via AP) CHINA OUT

China, the killer capitalist

China's enormous emerging market, and its investment in the infrastructure to support it, is pulling U.S. policy off course. The Communists in Beijing, as they still call themselves, are some of the toughest capitalists anywhere. The latest evidence is at the World Bank.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016. (Amir Cohen /Pool Photo via AP)

More eavesdropping on friends

If we take them at their word, Barack Obama and his not so merry men have demonstrated incompetence once more in "inadvertently" listening in to conversations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of Congress and other American friends of Israel who saw the president's sweetheart deal with the mullahs in Iran as the disaster that it is. On the other hand, the eavesdropping may have been deliberate.

Using its giant economy as a draw, Beijing has both courted and intimidated the smaller nations on its periphery. China has advanced aggressive territorial claims in the battle to control the vital shipping lanes of the South China Sea, but Chinese President Xi Jinping also has reached out to leaders in Southeast Asia. (Associated Press)

Brave new bad-credit world

If you admire efficiency, you have to respect the Communists in China. They're a step or two ahead of American liberals in their drive to mold and manipulate the peasants and sheep to do their bidding. American liberals only demonize (so far) those who disagree with them; the Chinese demonstrate that it's possible to consign such idolatrous types to outer darkness with neither arrest nor beating.

Connecticut state police recruits practice with their new .45-caliber Sig Sauer pistols during. (AP Photo/Dave Collins, File)

Yes to legal guns

All presidents want to leave a lasting imprint on history, a legacy, with a record of their wise words and good deeds. Sometimes a president with a spotty record comes along and tries to fake a good legacy, which can be difficult since what a president does speaks so loud that no one can hear what he says. Barack Obama is trying to write such a legacy with executive orders.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye, right, shakes hands with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida prior to a meeting at the presidential house in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Dec. 28, 2015. The foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan said they had reached a deal meant to resolve a decades-long impasse over Korean women forced into Japanese military-run brothels during World War II, a potentially dramatic breakthrough between the Northeast Asian neighbors and rivals. (Chun Jean-hwan/Newsis via AP) KOREA OUT

Halting steps in an Asian dance

Familiarity breeds contempt, and family squabbles are the worst, to be avoided if at all possible. That goes for nations as well as individuals. Perhaps no two strong societies have had as much contact over the centuries as Japan and Korea, contact at the price of considerable fuss and friction.

President Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Going after Leviathan with a knife

Bigger is not always better. Bigger government is nearly always badder. That's what Americans are saying in a new Gallup Poll about the danger of overweening authority. There's a near-universal recognition that the institutions erected "in order to form more perfect union" are instead facilitating expensive flapdoodle. Small wonder that a majority say the nation is on the wrong track.

President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the Brady Press briefing room at the White House, in Washington, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The view from Pluto

Any doubts about whether President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and their aides had taken up residence on another rock in the universe -- perhaps Pluto, which recently lost its status as a planet -- vanished with the arrival of a State Department report on American foreign-policy "successes" of 2015.

Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson poses for a photograph before speaking with The Associated Press in his home in Upperco, Md., Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

No place that's home

The warm and comfortable feeling of "home" is partly a state of mind, but it's as tangible as the familiar squeak of a front door or the welcoming hug of a loved one. The man bereft of the sights and sounds of home is a restless soul, never knowing the affirmation of belonging in a place "where everybody knows your name." For many Americans, the land of the free and the home of the brave doesn't feel much like home anymore.