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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton greets supporters during a campaign event at University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The peril in the polls

Public-opinion polls can be infuriating. They’re often read as if they’re telling us how to vote, rather than a speculation on how what we’ll do. Indeed, some voters who want to be part of a fashionable majority will take them that way, and hitch a ride on a bandwagon.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally at Regent University, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in Virginia Beach, Va. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

A little tease by the Donald

Donald Trump may be having a little fun, even if his friends and foes, who are worrying about what happens on Nov. 8, are not. They’re not sure why he said he wouldn’t accept defeat, nor what, exactly, he meant. He hardly clarified his meaning to them the next day when he said he would accept the voters’ verdict “if I win.”

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, center, accompanied by Campaign Manager Robby Mook, left, and traveling press secretary Nick Merrill, right, smiles as she speaks with members of the media aboard her campaign plane at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, following the third presidential debate. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Hillary and the buck

With so many campaign reporters in the tank with her, eager for a little warm and cuddly, Hillary Clinton’s fear of talking to them is a puzzle. She can be sure of not getting very many tough questions, and her answers will be carefully presented to an unsuspecting reader/viewership. They all share the same assignment, to destroy the Donald.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump smiles during a campaign rally at the Delaware County Fair, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016, in Delaware, Ohio. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

The debt to Donald Trump

Donald Trump and his regiments marched out of Las Vegas Thursday morning in high spirits. Maybe they were just whistling past that famous graveyard where hopes go to die. Or maybe not. Some post-debate polls show the race still tied, and if that’s true the debate changed very little. There’s still the election, to settle the dispute once and for all, or at least until 2020. (That campaign begins Nov. 9.)

Swapping the myths

The enduring American political parties have always been coalitions. The country is too big and populous, with too many strong regional and other economic demands to meet the models of European-style ideological political configurations.

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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks in Youngstown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Parsing the clintonclauses

The Clintons are quite a clever pair. They know how to sound like they're telling the truth when they're peddling a lie. They parse their words carefully, so that anyone trying to figure out what they're saying has to analyze every sentence and clause. One Arkansas student of the Clintons calls this "the necessary search of the clintonclause."

In this Thursday, July 28, 2016, file photo, Khizr Khan, father of fallen US Army Capt. Humayun S. M. Khan and his wife Ghazala speak during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

How to exploit a Muslim tragedy

Donald Trump is a remarkable gift to television news. He says something outrageous for every news cycle, which keeps the 24/7 cable-TV newscasts current. But for the Donald, the "anchors" and their correspondents might still be talking about the disappearing Malaysian airliner, Hurricane Katrina or the missing Chandra Levy.

The fence marking the border between Mexico and the United States is photographed on Wednesday, July 16, 2014, in El Calaboz, Texas. (AP Photo/Valley Morning Star, David Pike) ** FILE **

The clear campaign divide

It didn't take long for border security to claim the top spot among issues emerging from the presidential conventions. Every day news flashes describe the latest atrocity somewhere in the world. An immigrant, usually a demented Muslim, murders his native hosts.

When nothing works

Sometimes nothing works. In fact, "sometimes" often seems "all the time." The digital revolution has bequeathed a welter of new "systems" to cover nearly all of human activity. Something, alas, always goes wrong -- the Internet salesperson doesn't know that his company doesn't ship to a post office box, or the delivery courier, even with his Global Position System reader insists an address, where the addressee has lived for 40 years, doesn't exist.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton appears on stage at a rally a Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center in Columbus, Ohio, Sunday, July 31, 2016. Clinton and Kaine are on a three-day bus tour through the rust belt. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The Democratic dilemma

Hillary Clinton knows she's trying to sell a used car with no brakes, a busted transmission and bald tires. "I get it that some people don't know what to make of me," she said in accepting the Democratic nomination for president of the United States. She went on for almost an hour trying to tell everyone what to make of her. The television cameras caught Bill dozing off several times, once while standing up.

President Barack Obama speaks during the third day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Wednesday, July 27, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The biggest ego in town

President Obama is not the incarnation of Demosthenes, or even William Jennings Bryan, as he seems to think, but he's not bad on a good day with the right subject matter. His favorite subject matter, which is not necessarily the people's choice, is about him.

Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby said she has no regrets in bringing charges against the six officers. (Associated Press)

Justice in Baltimore

Marilyn Mosby, no Blackstone she, has made such a mess in Baltimore that the city won't live it down for decades. The Baltimore state's attorney announced this week that she was dropping all charges against the remaining Baltimore police officers she charged with murder in the 2005 death of Freddie Gray.

A voter marks a ballot for the New Hampshire primary inside a voting booth on Feb. 9 in Manchester, N.H. (Associated Press)

The other battle at the ballot box

Party conventions, first of the Republicans in Cleveland and this week of the Democrats in Philadelphia, first and foremost are about whose name goes on the top of the ballot. Before any votes are cast on Nov. 8, though, questions must be settled about identification rules determining who gets to cast a ballot. Voter identification laws, popularly called ID laws, have proliferated.

California delegates hold up signs as they cheer during the third day session of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Wednesday, July 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Dreaming the impossible Democratic dream

The Democrats had better pack a good lunch on their way to the post-convention campaign. It's going to be an all-day job. They must persuade voters to avoid looking at Barack Obama's disaster of "hope and change" while Hillary Clinton pushes the party's platform of more of the same. The platform, as adopted in Philadelphia this week, is an exercise in the old shell game.

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks about the mall shooting in Munich, Germany, before addressing law enforcement officers from around the country at the Advancing 21st Century Policing Briefing in the South Court Auditorium of the White House complex in Washington, Friday, July 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The price of trusting Iran

Barack Obama may be the last man in America who actually trusts the holy men in Iran, and a secret codicil, or amendment, he made to his infamous nuclear agreement with them reveals just what happens when a president has no understanding of "the art of the deal," or the people he makes deals with.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks in Springfield, Ill., in this July 13, 2016, file photo. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

The descent into depravity

Radical Islam descends to a level of barbarism beyond the imagination of civilized man. Women and children, and 87-year-old priests, become favorite targets. They can't easily fight back, though the heroic priest slain on his knees before the altar at a Roman Catholic Church in France tried, and gave up his life defending his parishioners.

An anti-Hillary Clinton demonstrator stands with a sign in downtown Philadelphia, Monday, July 25, 2016, on the first day of the Democratic National Convention. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Brotherly love in Philadelphia

The Democrats, like a pig stuck in a barbed wire fence, have a lot to cry about. Their nominee got the telephone call from the governor (or in this case the FBI) with the hoped-for stay of execution, their national convention just barely escaped implosion, but the landslide victory they expected only a month ago doesn't look like that any longer.

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during a meeting with World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan, not shown, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Monday, July 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, Pool)

The clouds on the horizon

When China spits, Asia swims. Everybody east of Suez learns that ancient tribute to the size and ambitions of the Middle Kingdom. Now Asia hears the harsh hocking noise that sounds suspiciously like China clearing its throat.

Recent but undated handout photo issued on Friday July 22, 2016 by William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, of Britain's Prince George with the family dog Lupo, at Sandringham in Norfolk, England. Prince George celebrates his third birthday on July 22, 2016. (Matt Porteous/Handout via AP)

An awful crime in Blighty

There's a new crisis in Old Blighty. Prince George, son of the duke and duchess of Cambridge and grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, could soon be a common felon, and he's not quite 3 years old. It's not likely, but you never know. There's photographic proof that he committed a dastardly deed.

President Barack Obama pauses while speaking to members of the media in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday, June 13, 2016, after getting briefed on the investigation of a shooting at a nightclub in Orlando by FBI Director James Comey, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and other officials.  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Barack Obama, the condolence man

President Obama tries to project a sunny outlook on the world, mostly by denying that anything bad is happening anywhere. But he's having a hard time of it staying ahead of the radical Islamic terrorists who, he says, don't really exist.

Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

Ted Cruz and an act of betrayal

Ted Cruz might have thought he was opening his 2020 campaign for president with his remarkable snub of the party and its nominee for president, but he was more likely making a deal with the undertaker.

FILE - This April 28, 2010 file photo shows the Colstrip Steam Electric Station, a coal-fired power plant in Colstrip, Mont. The Colstrip plant, a coal plant serving utility customers across the Pacific Northwest, has agreed to shut down two of its four units by 2022 under a settlement announced Tuesday, July 12, 2016, with environmentalists who sued over alleged air pollution violations. (AP Photo/Matt Brown, file)

Foolishness over fossil fuels

The masterminds who put their heads together to "improve" the planet sometimes only bump those heads together. Environmentalists have confidently -- and arrogantly -- declared that their "green" policies are based on "settled science," but evidence continues to trickle in to dispute that. On paper, saving the world is as elementary as ridding it of fossil fuels. Experience, however, teaches that "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Melania Trump stands at the podium during the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Monday, July 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Melania Trump's home run

Stealing the published words of others is never a good idea, particularly in Washington, but whether it's a felony or a misdemeanor usually depends on who the sinner may be. Democrats often get by with plagiarism, Republicans usually don't.