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John Adams, the first to hold the job, dismissed the vice presidency as "the most insignificant office" ever invented. Mather Brown's oil painting of Adams was finished in 1788, while the future vice president was serving as a diplomat.

An anniversary to remember

Had a Declaration of Independency been made seven months ago, it would have been attended with many great and glorious effects. We might before this hour, have formed alliances with foreign states. We should have mastered Quebec and been in possession of Canada.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has dominated the political scene for more than a dozen years, campaigned on behalf of his former party, the Islamist-rooted Peace and Development Party (AKP), appealing to voters to elect at least 300 parliamentarians to help push through a constitution that would expand his powers as an executive. But Sunday's stunning results make that a distant prospect. (Associated Press)

An implosion in Syria

The Obama administration’s determination to stay clear of the civil war in Syria, understandable but dangerous, is a tale of red lines drawn and then ignored as if they had never been drawn. President Obama’s brave talk followed by nothing much threatens to lead to an implosion of the region.

The American flag (AP Photo)

Honoring a symbol of sacrifice

There’s no better day to wave the American flag than on the nation’s birthday. But as the United States turns 239, the usual flotsam blowing in the wind urge fellow malcontents to burn it instead. Rather than honor the blood, sweat and tears of forebears, metaphorical if not actual, who set out to build “a more perfect union” in the wilderness, the flotsam trash the past and repudiate their debt to history.

Despite clear signs of skepticism from the Obama administration, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has come together with remarkable swiftness. (Associated Press)

The Chinese puzzle

There’s wide agreement that China is America’s No. 1 foreign concern. But there’s never been such a difference of opinion among China hands about what’s happening in China, and what if anything the United States could and should do about it.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prays at the tunnel section of the Western Wall in Jerusalem Wednesday, March 18, 2015. Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party scored a resounding victory in Israel’s election, final results showed Wednesday, a stunning turnaround after a tight race that had put his lengthy rule in jeopardy. (AP Photo/Emeil Salman)

Mr. Netanyahu’s remarkable triumph

Food, shelter and a comfortable life are as important to the Israelis as to everyone else, but survival comes first. That's the clear and unequivocal message in the remarkable triumph of Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel on Tuesday. His victory, unexpected to anyone paying attention only to the polls and the skeptical international media, was decisive, complete and emphatic.

President Barack Obama speaks at The City Club of Cleveland, Wednesday, March 18, 2015, in Cleveland. Obama visited Cleveland, in the all-important presidential battleground state of Ohio, delivering a speech focusing on middle-class economics and to draw contrasts with Republicans over federal spending. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

The galloping pace of waste

It's a dubious distinction, but government productivity set a record in one category last year: improper payments. Federal printers wrote $125 billion — that's billion with a "b" — in checks to Americans who didn't deserve them. This is the solid argument for shrinking the size of the bureaucratic Leviathan. President Obama has redistributed the mountains of waste and the oceans of red ink, rather than reduce them. It's business as usual in Washington, where frittering away other people's money is good sport.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting of the Victory Day celebrations organizing committee in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 17, 2015. Russia's foreign minister says the leader of North Korea is among 26 world leaders who have accepted invitations to Moscow to take part in celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany. (AP Photo/Sergei Ilnitsky, Pool)

When dictators go missing

When Russian President Vladimir Putin vanished from sight in early March all the explanation were colorful rumors. The maximum leader was a victim of a coup, he was attending the birth of his "love child" (the warmer, fuzzier Vlad), he was having cosmetic surgery (bullies on steeds need Botox, too). Or he was dead.

FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2015 file photo, Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington before the Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearing.  The White House blasted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday for holding up confirmation of Lynch, President Barack Obama's pick for attorney general, arguing the "unconscionable delay" was a stain on the Kentucky Republican's leadership. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Opportunity for Mitch McConnell

Loretta Lynch, President Obama's choice to succeed Attorney General Eric Holder, appears to be in trouble. So is the Republican legislation to do something about sex trafficking of girls and women, and the Republicans can prevail in both cases if Mitch McConnell doesn't blink before Harry Reid. This would erase the humiliation of the majority leader's performance in the debate over the budget for the Homeland Security Agency.

An Orthodox Jewish man walks past a billboard of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Bnei Brak near Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, March 16, 2015, a day ahead of legislative elections. Netanyahu is seeking his fourth term as prime minister. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

A long night for Bibi

Benjamin Netanyahu faces a long election night. As election day dawns on Tuesday, his Likud Party trails by four seats in election-eve polling. He has barnstormed the country, warning voters of the consequences of turning the security of Israel over to his rivals, with apologies for his government's lack of attention to the economic plight of the average Israeli family.

Sen. Barbara Boxer. (Associated Press)

Global warming snipe hunt

Politics and science can be a lethal combination. When scientists armed with their version of new-age religion draw a policy line that all must toe, objectivity is banished. Climate-change Torquemadas in the U.S. Senate are designing an inquisition to punish organizations that question the government-approved global warming creed. Couched as a means to "request information," the senators' queries carry the malevolent tone of a letter from the IRS, seeking further information about a tax return. Fortunately, it's not yet illegal to tell the senators where to go. (Using this strategy with the IRS is not advised.)

The pronoun police

Universities are citadels of free thought, places where intellectual inquiry flourishes in an atmosphere of tolerance. Well, that's what they're supposed to be. But many administrators, professors, and, with increasing frequency, students themselves have turned many universities into institutions of indoctrination: Free thinking for me, but not for you.

FILE - This Nov. 11, 2014, file photo shows the U.S. Capitol Building illuminated by the setting sun on the National Mall in Washington. When the leaders of the U.S. Olympic Committee meet Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015, they'll be deciding on more than a city to put in the running to host the 2024 Summer Games. They'll be picking a partner that will help shape their near- and long-term future.  Leaders from Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington made their presentations last month and will not be present while the 15 USOC board members debate the pros and cons of each offering at their meeting at Denver International Airport. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Treason in the U.S. Senate

Sometimes public opinion must submit to a history lesson. The famous letter to Iran, signed by 47 senators, urging the mullahs in Tehran to beware of making a deal with President Obama to restrain their pursuit of the Islamic bomb, has got some Democrats in a proper tizzy over the Logan Act. These Democrats don't appear to know any more about the Logan Act than the rest of the anvil chorus, but they want the senators prosecuted for treason. They have collected 165,000 names on a petition to Mr. Obama urging him to prosecute someone.

A Secret Service officer and Secret Service agents provide security as Marine One carries President Barack Obama off the South Lawn of the White House, on Thursday, March 12, 2015, in Washington. Obama to traveling to Los Angeles for an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and a DNC fundraiser. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

No time for ‘boys will be boys’

The days of the Secret Service agent as superhero are long gone. Instead of men like Clint Hill flying into the back seat of the Kennedy motorcade to protect the first lady after the assassination in Dallas, or of the stoic agents of a later time who surrounded Ronald Reagan with their bodies and got him to safety after John Hinckley's failed assassination attempt, the men of today's security detail appear to be rude, raucous, unfocused college frat boys.

In this image made from video posted on a social media account affiliated with the Islamic State group on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, militants take sledgehammers to an ancient artifact in the Ninevah Museum in Mosul, Iraq. The extremist group has destroyed a number of shrines --including Muslim holy sites -- in order to eliminate what it views as heresy. The militants are also believed to have sold ancient artifacts on the black market in order to finance their bloody campaign across the region. (AP Photo via militant social media account)

Destruction in civilization’s cradle

Trashing antiquities and traces of early civilization is so easy a caveman can do it. Steeped in ruinous belief, the cavemen of the Islamic State are adding to their criminal rampage across the Middle East, smashing and looting the priceless artifacts made by their ancestors in a more constructive era.

A sign warns motorists of the presence of a red light camera in Chicago. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration on Sunday, March 8, 2015 announced 50 controversial red-light cameras will be taken down from about two dozen locations citywide. The move comes as the former White House chief of staff seeks re-election and faces questions about the cameras impact on safety. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

Chicago's red-light rip-off

Rahm Emanuel is in big trouble in Chicago, having abused the residents in ways that should be a warning to politicians everywhere. The mayor, a former adviser to both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, is not everyone's cup of breakfast tea. Everyone agrees that he's arrogant, high-handed and quick to scorn anyone with whom he disagrees. He couldn't get the 50 percent of the vote in the first primary and now the mayor is in a death struggle with a man who was written off early as a candidate with no chance. The machine, built by Richard Daley and nurtured by his son, was once invincible, and Mr. Emanuel has continued to wring money from those doing business with the city.

Unidentified military personnel walk along a causeway near Navarre Beach, Fla. Wednesday, March 11, 2015 as they search for survivors of an Army Black Hawk helicopter that went down Tuesday evening with 11 service members aboard.  (AP Photo/Northwest Florida Daily News, Devon Ravine)

Black Hawk down

While the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was inquiring Wednesday into President Obama's request for authorization to use military force against the Islamic State, or ISIS, a more immediate drama about a military force was playing out over the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of northwest Florida.

admissions: Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton conceded Tuesday that she should have used a government email to conduct business while head of the Department of State, saying her decision was simply a matter of "convenience." Rep. Trey Gowdy said a neutral third party should determine which of her messages shall remain private. (Associated Press photographs)

Hillary comes not so clean

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive." That bit of wisdom is often attributed to Shakespeare, but it's actually from Sir Walter Scott, and he must have been talking about Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, questioned witnesses about sex trafficking and other abuses during a recent hearing on Cuba. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The suspicious Menendez indictment

The Justice Department surprised nobody with the announcement that it will seek an indictment of Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, a Democrat. A criminal investigation of the senator has been going on for many months. A jury may ultimately sort it out, and that's the way it should be. But Ted Cruz, his colleague in the U.S. Senate, put in words what a lot of people in Washington have been thinking: Does this indictment have more to do with politics than corruption or law?

President Barack Obama, center, walks as he holds hands with Amelia Boynton Robinson, who was beaten during "Bloody Sunday," as they and the first family and others including Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga,, left of Obama, walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. for the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday," a landmark event of the civil rights movement, Saturday, March 7, 2015. From front left are Marian Robinson, Sasha Obama. first lady Michelle Obama. Obama, Boynton and Adelaide Sanford, also in wheelchair. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The campaign rally at Selma

When President Obama marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma he had Republican company. The casual reader/viewer might not know that, because in the wake of an occasion that the president transformed into a Democratic campaign rally some of the Republicans who joined him were relegated to the margins, sometimes even cut out of the photographs.

A United Nations flag waves as Spanish U.N. peacekeepers carry out a foot patrol in the disputed Chebaa Farms area between Lebanon and Israel, in southeast Lebanon, Tuesday Feb. 24, 2015. A Spanish peacekeeper was killed in south Lebanon last month during a flare-up in hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah. The U.N. peacekeeping force known as UNIFIL has been deployed in south Lebanon since 1978 and monitors the border between Lebanon and Israel. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Unarmed peacekeeping on the Heights

The United Nations peacekeeper is a lot like the constable in a town with one stoplight. He looks sharp only when nothing is happening. This "peace" is about to end soon on the Golan Heights, the mountainous buffer between Israel and Syria. Iran is sending forces into Syria to back Damascus in its civil war, and a long period of relative quiet along the border is likely to be shattered. The U.N. is forewarned that the day is coming when there's no more peace to keep.

U.S. must defend Ukraine

Some conservatives have questioned Ukraine's importance to America, as if it were a small, remote country of no strategic value. But in fact Ukraine is Russia's broad gateway to Europe. And Europe is the first target of Russian President Vladimir Putin's coalition of rogue states.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at a university conference sponsored by the Clinton Global Initiative at the University of Miami, Saturday, March 7, 2015, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Gaston De Cardenas)

Not ready for Hillary Clinton

Dissecting Republicans and their chances for regaining the White House next year is good, clean fun for most pundits and analysts, Democrats nearly all, because it distracts attention from what's wrong in their own party. The conventional wisdom has been that the Democratic superstar would bury anyone unfortunate enough to be nominated by the Republicans. The only concern in Democratic ranks has been that Hillary Clinton would need a practice sprint in the primaries to tone and flex muscle in anticipation of November. If Hillary were a baseball team, her acolytes concede, she could still use a little spring training.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a cabinet meeting in the Red Room at the Capitol, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, in Albany, N.Y. Cuomo says he has not been subpoenaed or contacted by federal investigators probing Albany corruption, but he won't say if the same is true for his aides. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Saying no to prosperity

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Or leave 'em, depending. Several struggling towns in upstate New York look across the state line at Pennsylvania and are thinking about secession, not from the union but from New York. After years of timid waffling, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said no to fracking, the method of drilling for oil and gas that is making Pennsylvania prosperous. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, could be the key to putting a jingle into the pockets of New Yorkers, and improving the state's dreary and desolate business climate.