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Protesters hold signs during a rally in support of transgender youth, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, at the Stonewall National Monument in New York. They were demonstrating against President Donald Trump's decision to roll back a federal rule saying public schools had to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their chosen gender identity. The rule had already been blocked from enforcement, but transgender advocates view the Trump administration action as a step back for transgender rights. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Free-for-all at the urinal

A visitor from Mars or Pluto could reasonably conclude that Earth is a weird planet indeed. “It’s a heavenly body of great beauty,” he might report back to headquarters, “where everyone is trying to change his and her sex but is so squeamish about talking about sex that they must coin euphemisms, such as ‘gender identity,’ to describe it.”

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting on domestic and international human trafficking, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017,in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The comeback of coal

President Trump’s boisterous press conferences sometimes cast a shadow over one of his most important achievements so far: his executive order suspending runaway Environmental Protection Agency rules that all but bankrupted the American coal industry. Three of America’s largest coal companies declared Chapter 11 in recent years largely as a result of rules like the Clean Power Plant Act, a gift of Barack Obama.

FILE - In this Feb. 15, 2017 file photo, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington before the House Financial Services Committee for the Fed's semi-annual Monetary Policy Report to Congress.  Federal Reserve officials earlier this month discussed the need to raise a key interest rate again "fairly soon," especially if the economy remains strong. Minutes of the discussions in minutes released Wednesday, Feb. 22  showed that while Fed officials decided to keep a key rate unchanged at their Jan. 31-Feb. 1 meeting, there was growing concern about what could happen to inflation if the economy out-performed expectations. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The regulator cometh, and maybe goeth

There’s a lot to be said about government regulation — and much of it not good. Some regulation, given that human nature is what it is, is necessary. But sometimes it seems there’s little difference between the government telling you how to spend your money and the government just taking it. Regulations are a lot like taxes.

Protesters of President Donald Trump's immigration policies chant across the street from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection station Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, in McAllen, Texas. (Joel Martinez/The Monitor via AP)

Immigration Order No. 2

The fight over who controls U.S. immigration policy is about to enter Round Two. President Trump pledges to come out swinging with a reformulated restriction on prospective immigrants. He seems deadly serious about defending the nation’s borders, and those who want to throw open the borders to everyone seem just as determined to stop him. The outcome will determine nothing less than who defines America.

Maple tree sap drips from a tap into a bucket, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, in Brookline, N.H. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, led a discussion with maple syrup producers in New Hampshire about how climate change is impacting their industry. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Carbonated politics

Every problem in Washington finally finds a solution, and it’s usually called a tax. A group of policy mavens, eager to do something for everybody, proposes to tax carbon, the substance found in all forms of fossil fuels. It’s the fourth-most abundant element in the universe. The idea is that if there’s a levy on the carbon content of oil, coal and natural gas, consumers will use less of it. Presto! No more human-caused global warming. But it still smells like a tax.

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Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump smiles during a CNN town hall with Anderson Cooper in the historic Riverside Theatre, Tuesday, March 29, 2016, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CNN learns a hard lesson

Whatever else Donald Trump may be, he's a new kind of politician. He's not afraid of the press. He doesn't drop to the fetal position, cowering as if pleading for a little mercy, when The New York Times or The Washington Post -- or CNN News -- cries boo!

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., left, and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, at the second day of a confirmation hearing for Attorney General-designate, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The bigotry of the high-minded

Only the terminally high-minded are qualified to break precedents, and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey is qualified, at least in his own mind, to break hoary Senate tradition to testify against a colleague up for a presidential appointment.

In this Sept. 1, 2015, file photo, from left, Brad Steinle, Liz Sullivan and Jim Steinle, the brother, mother and father of Kate Steinle who was shot to death on a pier, listen to their attorneys speak during a news conference on the steps of City Hall in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

Justice for the slain innocents

If Tomas Martinez-Maldonado isn't the poster child for Kate's Law, he should be. He's enmeshed in the toils of the law now to answer the charge that he brutally raped a 13-year-old girl on a Greyhound bus in Kansas last September.

President-elect Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, speaks during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trump's 'intelligence' file

Anything anyone can make up about Donald Trump goes. That's the "moral" of the latest speculation about the sins of the Donald, his chief sin being that he defeated Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in November.Anything anyone can make up about Donald Trump goes. That's the "moral" of the latest speculation about the sins of the Donald, his chief sin being that he defeated Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in November.

President Obama told NBC News on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2017, that it was "not clear" that President-elect Donald Trump ever believed he would win the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. (NBC News screenshot)

Obama's long goodbye

"Parting is such sweet sorrow," says Juliet to Romeo in Shakespeare's telling of it. And so it is, but Barack Obama's impending departure from the national stage does not necessarily pierce the heart in the same way. Many Americans prefer the message of Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks: "How can I miss you when you won't go away?"

Attorney General-designate, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Attacking with popguns

The Democrats took their best shots Tuesday at Sen. Jeff Sessions, the president-elect's nominee for U.S. attorney general, and demonstrated only that it's difficult for a gang that can't shoot straight to do much damage with popguns that only fire blanks.

"Fake news - a total political witch hunt!" President-elect Donald Trump tweeted in screaming all-capital letters. (Associated Press)

A change of hope

Tempus fugits without much month-to-month change. February is a lot like January, August a lot like July. But the pace of change quickens, and overnight everything old seems new again. The 2016 presidential election was a sudden and breathtaking upheaval of wishes and dreams as Americans divided themselves between those who want, or think they want, a fundamentally transformed United States, and those who yearn to "make America great again." These opposing emotions of disappointment and expectation collide to promise a jarring ride through 2017.

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting in the Moscow's Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Jan. 9, 2017. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

The 2016 campaign continues

Faith, as the Bible teaches us, is the evidence of things not seen. Faith is the key to belief that surpasses all understanding, and now the secular intelligence chiefs tells us that trust is the key to understanding affairs of state, too. All the president's men, or at least some of them, have now spoken what they insist is the last word on the Russian hacking scandal, concluding that Vladimir Putin plotted to choose the 45th president of the United States. If the chiefs of spies were to explain how they know that, they would probably have to kill us.

President-elect Donald Trump listens to a reporters question at Trump Tower in New York, Monday, Jan. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Making good on the promise

Donald Trump's signature campaign promise was to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border to take control of immigration to America. The promise was appealing to most Americans, because every nation in the world has the right to control who gets in, and how.

Jeff Sessions was nominated by President Reagan in 1986 for a judgeship, but senators blocked him over what they said were racist tendencies. (Associated Press/File)

The black friends of Jeff Sessions

The confirmation hearings for Cabinet and other high-position nominees, of and by any president, must be fair but robust. The questions put to the nominee must be tough but just. But sometimes confirmation hearings can become what Clarence Thomas, who survived a mean and unjust hearing to become a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, called "a high-tech lynching."

Former Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite,File)

California discovers states' rights

The Democratic liberals have treated the Second, Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution with the respect given to discarded Kleenex over the eight years of the Obama presidency. But California, the bluest of the blue states, has just discovered, of all things, states' rights. The ghost of Strom Thurmond and his States' Rights Democrats is apparently alive and well in Sacramento.

This image from a video that was broadcast live on Facebook and later posted on Vidme shows a frame in which a man, right, is assaulted in Chicago. The video shows the man with his mouth taped shut as a woman and other people cut off his shirt and hair with a knife, and someone pushes his head with his or her foot. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, that the victim has mental health challenges, and he called the video "sickening." (Vidme via AP)

Pure evil in Chicago

Evil is more than something in the eye of the beholder, and someone who can't recognize evil when he sees it reveals a lot about who he is and where he comes from.

A survey finds that 91 percent of the incoming 115th Congress identify as Christian, compared to 95 percent of the 1961-62 legislative body. (Associated Press)

Giving Congress a good shake

Congress, like a proper martini, should be shaken, not stirred. Democrats and Republicans alike are getting an early demonstration of the effects of a good shaking. Shaking can move mountains, and even timid congressmen.

Hot on the cyber trail

Condemnation of Russia's presumed cyberhacking, aimed at high-level figures suspected of abusing the latest presidential election campaign, has sprouted from every corner of Washington. There's little mischief to anger Americans more than the idea that foreigners are manipulating the transferral of governing from one president to another.

A student walks the University of Maryland campus. (Facebook, University of Maryland) **FILE**

News from the College Park cuckoo's nest

A sequel of sorts to the 1975 film, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," is playing out at the University of Maryland at College Park, where the inmates are threatening to take over the asylum. The cuckoo's nest, which the movie set in Oregon, has been moved to College Park.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 29, 2016. (Associated Press) **FILE**

Delay of game

What goes around comes around, and never more often than in the partisan games politicians play. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, the new leader of the Democrats in the U.S. Senate, is determined to put a quick finish to whatever honeymoon Donald Trump may get when he becomes the president two weeks hence.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell speaks during a session about opioids at the National Governors Association meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, on July 15, 2016. (Associated Press) **FILE**

Striking a blow for good sense

When the urge to be edgy leads to fad, the unique, the uncommon and sometimes the weird and goofy is suddenly high fashion. In 2016, "transgenderism," the urge to be what you're not, became a fad. A visitor from Mars might think that every Earthling is determined only to change his sex and find an inappropriate place to pee.

A capital chance for change

Congressmen love recess almost as much as the kids do, and no one knows for sure what either Congress or the kids will do when the bell finally rings and they return to their seats. With the opening of the 115th Congress, there's high anticipation that Congress will settle down to conduct the nation's business like adults.

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Tom Perez announces a civil rights unit to be based in Birmingham, Ala., on Tuesday. The unit will be responsible for prosecutions and lawsuits. (Associated Press)

A race to the bottom

Once they get over their post-election pout (and even if they can't, and don't), the Democrats must choose a new chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The two top contenders, Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, represent that great distinction without a difference.

In this photo released by the Kremlin Press service via Sputnik agency, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during an undated recording of his annual televised New Year's message in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. (Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin Press Service, Sputnik, via AP) ** FILE **

A lesson in score-settling

Settling scores is always petty, whether by pouty teenagers, embittered ex-spouses or soon-to-be former presidents. Barack Obama is making himself look small and insignificant when he could be looking like a big man making a graceful exit.