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Former San Antonio Mayor and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, center right, is embraced by his twin brother U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio), center left, during an event where Julian Castro announced his decision to seek the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

On to field of dreams

Most of the government is idle and the nation’s capital is shrouded in nearly a foot of snow with more on the way, but politics, the capital’s only industry, grinds on at a quickening pace. Over the past few days, two more Democrats have entered the race for president, joining Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Rep. John Delaney of Maryland. These four, gathering press notices while they may, won’t be the last.

A new poll reveals the gender divide on President Trump's proposed border wall with Mexico: Men favor the barrier, women don't. (Associated Press)

The aspiring new moralists

A congressperson as the arbiter of national morality, the judge of what’s right and wrong, the earnest scholar of government theology? Who knew? Yet Nancy Pelosi says building a wall on the border is “immoral.” Ours is an age that mocks the values that created America.

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks as he submits next year's budget bill to parliament in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2018. The $47.5 billion budget is less than half of last year's, mainly due to the severe depreciation of the local currency following President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal and restore U.S. sanctions. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Redeeming Iran

No matter how intense, the heat of summer yields to the moderating breezes of its successor season. Brutal governments that scourge their own inevitably face movements that hold out the promise of liberation and peace. The passage of 40 years, time enough to span three generations, tests the ability of the suffering people of Iran to endure the inhumanity of their radical Islamic regime.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, waits to participate in a mock swearing-in ceremony in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, as the 116th Congress begins. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ** FILE **

Romney for president, or something

Mitt Romney is nothing if not flexible, and he usually bends a little to the left. He has been in the public eye for decades, but he has served only four years in an elective office, as governor of Massachusetts. He has now been the junior senator from Utah for a day. His dearth of time in office hasn't been for lack of trying. He ran for the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts in 1994, governor of Massachusetts in 2002, president in 2008, president again in 2012, and finally for the Senate in Utah. Mr. Romney has either a profound determination to serve his country, or an ardent craving for the spotlight. Maybe it's a little of both.

In this April 4, 2018 photo, a U.S-backed Syrian Manbij Military Council soldier, left, speaks with a U.S. soldier, at a U.S. position near the tense front line with Turkish-backed fighters, in Manbij town, north Syria. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw troops from Syria has rattled Washington's Kurdish allies, who are its most reliable partner in Syria and among the most effective ground forces battling the Islamic State group. Kurds in northern Syria said commanders and fighters met into the night, discussing their response to the surprise announcement Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

A lesson learned (maybe)

With American troops and military installations spread on all continents, the importance of a mere 2,000 troops in Syria would seem Lilliputian. But from world media over the past few days, you might think it's as crucial as the withdrawal from Saigon in the previous century.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a key member of the Banking Committee, expresses her opposition to a move in the Senate to pass legislation that would roll back some of the safeguards Congress put into place after a financial crisis rocked the nation's economy ten years ago, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. Warren, who ran for office in the aftermath of the great recession in 2008, serves as ranking member of the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Pocahontas in pursuit of the White House

The Iowa caucuses, Round One in the quadrennial exercise leading to the election of a president, are still a year away, but Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts delivered a fix this week for Democrats who can't wait to get started on the considerable task of deposing Donald Trump.

Fireworks explode over the Arc de Triomphe during the New Year's Day celebrations on the Champs Elysees, in Paris, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

Fresh starts and blank slates

What a way to finish. Like a marathoner whose spent legs go wobbly a hundred yards shy of the tape, the nation seemed about to fall on its face during the waning days of the old year, as if barely able to straggle to the starting line of the new one. Before assuming that past performance is indicative of what's to come, however, it's instructive to remember that night follows day, the moon waxes and wanes, and the future, unlike the past, is not written in stone. It's a blank slate on which an industrious people record their work.

A 3D Christmas show displayed outside of a build in New Taipei City, Taiwan, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

Trading in dollars, politics and irony

The more China tries to minimize the success of Taiwan which is officially the Republic of China — the more important Taiwan becomes in the international order. It is, says one diplomat, "one of the greater ironies of our time."

The U.S. Capitol Building Dome is seen before the sun rises in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The polarization express

Washington has always been a mixture of principle and power, but seldom has the concoction been so explosive. As tumultuous as the past two years have been with Republicans lodged at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, the next two with resurgent Democrats commanding the House of Representatives promise to be far coarser. Anticipating the coming clash, Americans are bracing for impact.

People walk near the Washington Monument, with the U.S. Capitol in the background, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018, as the partial government shutdown continues in Washington. A shutdown affecting parts of the federal government appeared no closer to resolution Wednesday, with President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats locked in a hardening standoff over border wall funding that threatens to carry over into January. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The unnecessary partial government shutdown

Poor Donald Trump. At least that's how the president was feeling on Christmas Eve, according to his own Twitter account. "I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security," he proclaimed. "At some point the Democrats not wanting to make a deal will cost our Country more money than the Border Wall we are all talking about. Crazy!"

This May 3, 2018, photo shows boxes on a conveyor belt during a tour of the Amazon fulfillment center in Aurora, Colo. The explosion in online shopping has led to porch pirates and stoop surfers swiping holiday packages from unsuspecting residents. The cops in one New Jersey city are trying to catch the thieves with some trickery of their own. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

A false shot at prosperity

Amazon, the world's biggest retailer, founded and helmed by the world's richest man, recently subjected scores of American municipalities to a humiliating dog and pony show. The Seattle-based tech behemoth announced it was planning to build a second headquarters somewhere in North America, promising some 50,000 new jobs to wherever it landed. It then, in a slow-motion imitation of a reality television show, invited localities to submit bids.

U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., speaks, during a news conference Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, at the Capitol in Phoenix, after Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, rear, announced his decision to replace U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. with McSally in the U.S. Senate seat that belonged to Sen. John McCain. McSally will take over after Kyl's resignation becomes effective Dec. 31. (AP Photo/Matt York)

A new senator for Arizona

Republican Rep. Martha McSally is nobody's idea of a sore loser. The Tucson area congresswoman recently lost a close race for Senate to her fellow Arizona representative, a Democrat named Kyrsten Sinema, who represents Phoenix. Even though Ms. McSally appeared to be in the lead on election night itself, late counts pushed Ms. Sinema across the finish line a few days later.

President Donald Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn arrives at federal court in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Squaring Rubik's Cube

If only unraveling the maddening complexity of the Russian collusion investigation were no more complicated than solving Rubik's Cube with all of its innumerable permutations. Tuesday's sentencing of former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was supposed to set a piece of the 2016 presidential election puzzle in place but instead, it led to new twists and turns that included an unexpected sentencing postponement. While witnessing the political spectacle the probe has engendered, it's helpful for Americans to remember one thing: There has yet to be found any collusion on the part of Team Trump.

Turning over a new green leaf

Abody doesn't need an advanced academic degree to practice common sense. That's why working folks who carry the nation on their backs have grasped the limits of the renewable energy revolution more quickly than those enthralled with the promise of a fossil-fuel-free future.

In this April 12, 2018 photo released by Xinhua News Agency, the Liaoning aircraft carrier is accompanied by navy frigates and submarines conducting an exercises in the South China Sea. China has announced live-fire military exercises in the Taiwan Strait amid heightened tensions over increased American support for Taiwan. The announcement by authorities in the coastal province of Fujian on Thursday was accompanied by a statement that the navy was ending a three-day exercise in the South China one day early. (Li Gang/Xinhua via AP)

Trouble in the Taiwan Strait

The unwritten law is often a myth, romantic as the idea may be. If it's not written there's no one to enforce such a "law." Such romantic legislation is usually thought to apply to the defense of marriage and the home, but it's sometimes applied to other things, such as the freedom of the seas. It's only useful when there's a nation big enough and determined enough to enforce the principle of such a law.