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Al Gore speaks to people before a meeting on climate change during the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Monday, Sept. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Dueling disaster thrillers

Ill winds are supposed to bring somebody good, so Al Gore, the circuit-riding global-warming preacher with manuscripts of novels and sequels in his saddle bags, is entitled to his snit. He can blame literary misfortune on Harvey, Irma and Jose.

A vintage coal-fired steam engine pushes a passenger car up the Cog Railway on a 3.8-mile journey to the summit of 6,288-foot Mount Washington in New Hampshire, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. Tourists visiting the northeast's highest peak were rewarded with summer-like weather on the first weekend of autumn. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Warmed again by coal

Gentlemen, start your thermostats. Ladies, too. The Obama war on coal, which cost Hillary Clinton the vote in once-reliably Democratic West Virginia, is over. Maybe the war on nuclear energy, too. Americans might soon heat their homes without choosing between the warmth and food and medicine.

U.S. First lady Melania Trump greets First lady Brigitte Macron, left, wife of President Emmanuel Macron of France, after she addressed a luncheon at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.  (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

The right stuff from a first lady

First ladies are usually, but not always, eager to establish themselves as separate but equal personalities. Some of them are content to be the “wife of,” but nearly all of them leave their mark on a presidency, even if only their husbands know the details of how and when the mark was applied.

FILE - In this Jan. 26, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is joined by Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of metro Phoenix, at a campaign event in Marshalltown, Iowa. Prosecutors in former Sheriff Joe Arpaio's now-pardoned criminal case face a deadline Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, for explaining why they now believe the case should be dismissed and all rulings should be thrown out. Judge Susan Bolton set the deadline after she found that prosecutors hadn't offered any legal authority to back up their argument. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Showtime in the Senate

Now is the time for all good Republicans to put up or shut up. There’s no more time for big talk about repealing and replacing Obamacare. The hot air sent spiraling into the cosmos over the eight years of the Obama administration, by big talkers safe in the expectation that whatever they did would get only a veto, was enough to raise the temperature of this planet and maybe Saturn and Pluto as well.

President Donald Trump walks to his seat after speaking during a luncheon with African leaders at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Premature applause for the Trump trio

The point of political affiliation, like fan loyalty, is to join a team to win. Donald Trump promised voters weary of being beaten like a drum that if he were elected they would soon “get sick of winning.” That hasn’t happened. Yet. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that most Americans are cheering the president for linking up with the Democrats to post some victories. They might restrain the high-fives, though. Those triumphs come with a hefty price tag.

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In this July 10, 2017 photo, Moina Shaiq speaks to a man after a Meet a Muslim event at Bronco Billy's Pizza Palace in Fremont, Calif. Shaiq discussed the importance of the hijab, the head scarf, and the niqab, the face covering, as well as the differences between Sunnis and Shias. She also spoke about the rights of women in Islam, and what it's like to be an American-Muslim today in her one-hour talks. (AP Photo/Kristin J. Bender)

The demographic threat to the West

Acombination of falling birthrates among the native-born and the influx of hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees from the Middle East threatens to swamp the indigenous European culture from which America sprang. Preserving the best of the culture will be the responsibility of the emerging generations, and the size of that responsibility is only now coming clear.

A rainbow appears over Tumon Bay, Guam Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. Residents of the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam face a missile threat from North Korea. (AP Photo/Tassanee Vejpongsa)

Waiting for China

Everybody talks a good game of peace, goodwill and other good stuff from the sidelines of the noisy war of words between the United States and North Korea, but none of those sideline warriors wants to be seen doing any of the heavy lifting.

Fans wave flags of Puerto Rico as compatriot Ivan Rodriguez speaks during his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., Sunday, July 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Cleaning up Puerto Rico's mess

Puerto Rico continues to struggle with the consequences of irresponsibly running up debt. It owes debtors about $70 billion, and a default on debt which was due to be fully repaid by last month has made things worse. The Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act, enacted last year after President Obama and House Speaker Paul Ryan applied pressure on Congress, was supposed to prevent things like that. Instead it threatens to accelerate the rate of collapse.

In this April 6, 2017, file photo, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the Women in the World Summit at Lincoln Center in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Deeper into the swamp

Sending a defeated rival to the penitentiary is not the American way (except, maybe, in New Jersey, Illinois or Louisiana). But in a swamp there's always an alligator eager to bite off any fingers searching in the murk for the drain plug.

A rescue drone flies during a training flight operation in the Atlantic beach of Biscarrosse, southwestern France, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017. A cutting-edge lifesaving initiative is taking flight again this summer off France's popular Atlantic beach destinations: the rescue drone. Following a successful launch in 2016, three airborne life-saver drones are being operated in the southwestern Nouvelle-Aquitaine region spots until September to come to the aid of swimmers struggling in choppy water.(AP Photo/Bob Edme)

The summer of discontent

The steamy days of August are cooking up a summer of discontent. Like much of what lies beyond the front door, the reasons for the national angst are complicated and often contradictory. Raucous noise from the nation's capital plays a big role in how Americans see the landscape, but waiting for a wind to freshen the air above the Washington swamp might be a long wait.

Trying again with secession

If at first you don't succeed, secede. That's the latest message from California, where the idea of breaking up with the United States is the current rage. With Donald Trump in the White House attempting to "make America great again," the idea of returning to an era of freedom, faith and family is as antithetical to the cool crowd as a blue-light special at Kmart. The farther the Left Coast travels down the road toward "Calexit," the harder the climb back into the good graces of Americans for whom California is not as cool as it once was.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, accompanied by, from left, National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, on leaks of classified material threatening national security.  (AP Andrew Harnik)

A job for dedicated plumbers

Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared war, or at least a skirmish, on leakers last week, and it's about time. Leakers grow like weeds in Washington, and it was ever thus, but it's out of hand when The Washington Post prints leaked transcripts of the president's telephone conversations with foreign heads of state. Even Democrats say so, even if using the occasion to slip another needle into the president, or mock Mr. Sessions' motives.

**FILE** Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court in Washington is pictured May 1, 2008, during a ceremony where the title of chief judge for the U.S. District Court in Washington was passed from Judge Thomas F. Hogan to Lamberth at the federal courthouse in Washington. (Associated Press)

Two loud cheers for clean elections

You might think every good citizen would cheer attempts to protect the sanctity of the vote. Many good men and women have died for the right to vote, and we all owe it to them to protect what their sacrifice achieved for all.

Resisting the blue pencil

James Lankford, the Republican senator from Oklahoma, was rightly incensed Monday by an ABC News online headline that "Jeff Sessions addresses 'anti-LGBT hate group' but DOJ won't release his remarks."James Lankford, the Republican senator from Oklahoma, was rightly incensed Monday by an ABC News online headline that "Jeff Sessions addresses 'anti-LGBT hate group' but DOJ won't release his remarks."

In this Thursday, June 8, 2017, file photo, former FBI Director James Comey speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

James Comey's literary apology

James Comey has good reason to despise Donald Trump. He would hardly be human if he doesn't. The president cashiered him without ceremony, and nobody likes to hear "you're fired!" Now the director of the FBI until he was sacked has a book contract, and he's in the dilemma similar to that of Zsa Zsa Gabor's seventh husband. He knew what was expected of him on their wedding night, but despaired of making it fresh and surprising.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, center, looks at the watch of Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay, right, as Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea watch them during the 113th Founding Anniversary of the Bureau of Internal Revenue in metropolitan Manila, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. The tough-talking Duterte briefly lashed out at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a speech before local revenue collectors Wednesday. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

The road to reality in Pyongyang

The road to reality in Pyongyang leads through Beijing, and it's a road with many potholes. China doesn't want chaos in North Korea, but neither does it want to give up the means to profit from that chaos. Nevertheless, North Korea's second intercontinental ballistics missile launch last week caught the attention of the five countries with a stake in a stable Korean peninsula.

President Trump embraced a Republican-sponsored bill last week that would trim the broad range of family relationships that qualify for immigration and inject a government screen for needed skills and English proficiency into employer immigration. (Associated Press/File)

A good start on immigration reform

Why enact a law or write an executive order to reform a broken immigration system when a poem will do? President Trump endorsed new immigration legislation Wednesday, moving to a merit-based system, and it was greeted with predictable cries and squeals from advocates of open borders.

FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016, file photo, a miniature reproduction of Arturo Di Modica's "Charging Bull" sculpture sits on display at a street vendor's table outside the New York Stock Exchange, in lower Manhattan. U.S. Stocks are rising Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017, as payment processors and banks trade higher. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

The abuse of Freddie and Fannie Mae

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae almost took down the U.S. economy by transforming bad mortgages into something that looked valuable, but were anything but. The extraordinary bailouts that followed put everyone, for one good reason and another, shaking in their boots.

How Republicans can still win on Obamacare

When Nancy Pelosi, the former speaker who famously said "we will read [the details of Obamacare] after we vote on it," was once asked by Chris Wallace of Fox News just what the Democrats were willing to offer Republicans as part of a grand new spirit of bipartisanship, she replied nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Security forces leave after a suicide attack followed by a clash between Afghan forces and Islamic State fighters during an attack on the Iraqi embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, July 31, 2017. (AP Photos/Rahmat Gul)

The threats of war

America's longest war has cost more than 2,300 lives and 20,000 wounded, and $1.07 trillion. The value of the lives cannot be measured. Now President Trump has authorized sending 3,000 to 5,000 more troops to strengthen training and support efforts there, adding to the 9,800 Americans who are part of an international force of 13,000.

Electric cars and gas pains

Moral preening isn't pretty, and "greener than thou" is all the rage in Europe. Volvo says that starting in 2019 it will no longer manufacture gasoline-only cars, only electrics or gas-electric hybrids.

It's still the economy, Stupid

Donald Trump has shown a remarkable ability to survive snubs, slights and spirited assaults almost from the day he threw his hat in the ring, more than a year ago, and he seems to relish testing the depths of the loyalty of conservatives. His remarkable twitter campaign against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a particular favorite of nearly every conservative, might be the greatest test so far.

In this Saturday, July 15, 2017 file photo, a rosary hangs over the portrait of the late Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo is displayed outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong. China cremated the body of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died this week after a battle with liver cancer amid international criticism of Beijing for not letting him travel abroad as he had wished. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)

The world ignores an outrage

The death of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo from late-stage liver cancer last month is further evidence that China's suppression of human rights is growing more severe. Worse still, foreign reaction to outrage in China is growing weaker, and cynical besides.