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Richard Nixon           Portrait by Norman Rockwell/Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery

‘Peace is the right memorial’

Memorial Day in America has traditionally been a time when we pay our respects to those who gave their lives, over a century ago, in a tragic civil war. In a broader sense, it has come to stand not only for the sacrifice of those who served in the War Between the States, but for all of those who have given their lives in arms since the birth of our nation.

President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-In in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, May 22, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The president pulls the plug

Donald Trump was never going to win the Nobel Peace Prize, anyway. He demonstrated “the art of the deal” with his cancellation of the “summit” with Kim Jong-un, which North Korea had skillfully begun to portray as a triumph of its own statecraft. The president pulled the rug out from under Mr. Kim with a triumph of his own. We can all be thankful.

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In this photo taken with light reflections on a pot German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends the weekly cabinet meeting of the German government at the chancellery in Berlin, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Frau Merkel's migraine

The reckoning is at hand for Angela Merkel in Germany. None of the political parties came close to winning a majority in the September voting, and trying to put together a workable coalition has given Frau Merkel — and Europe — a headache the size of a continent.

Judiciary Committee members, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, left, talks with ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on nominations on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. (Associated Press) **FILE**

'Packing' the judiciary

When what goes around comes around, only the quick and nimble escape a painful smackdown. The Democrats in California have had remarkable success over the years packing the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals with judges who have small appreciation for the Constitution as it was written, and now that may be changing.

Turkeys, worms and Schadenfreude

Republicans and other conservatives who are tempted to indulge excessive Schadenfreude over the woes of Charlie Rose, Al Franken and their sordid fellows, taking delight in their pain and humiliation, should remember Iron Law of Politics No. 3, that nothing recedes like success. Giving too many hoots and hollers at turkeys over this holiday season is great fun, but the universal truth about worms is that they eventually turn.

FILE - In this May 15, 2017 file photo, protesters hold signs during a demonstration against President Donald Trump's revised travel ban, outside a federal courthouse in Seattle. A Somali refugee living in Washington state is asking a federal judge to let his wife and young children join him in the U.S., saying the Trump administration's indefinite ban on allowing the families of refugees to enter the country violates immigration law. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Bordering on Obama-era dysfunction

Fidelity is scarce in Donald Trump's Washington, except among the not so loyal opposition. Whether owing to compassion or incompetence, the Trump administration one year on has failed to replace holdovers, leaving in place Barack Obama's people who are dedicated to obstruction and delay of the new era. In some federal departments, the greatest danger a bureaucrat faces is a paper cut. But about immigration, it's whether the laws enacted to protect the American people will be enforced.

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., center, arrives to speak to a large group of protesters rally against the Senate Republican healthcare bill on the East Front of the Capitol Building in Washington, Wednesday, June 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The season of the big slice

President Trump has something extra to be grateful for this Thanksgiving: a the long-awaited tax cut bill, passed by the House and en route to the Senate. As he marks the season with the traditional pardoning of the White House turkey, Republicans in line for similar clemency will get it only if the voters can find it in their hearts to forgive a plodding, inefficient (did someone say "incompetent"?) and lazybones Congress.

In this Aug. 10, 2017, file photo, a man watches a TV screen showing U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, right, during a news program at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

Back on the list of bad guys

You can't blame North Korea for playing American presidents for willing suckers. A succession of them applied for the job. President Trump didn't, and Monday restored North Korea to a deserved place of prominence on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

FILE - In this May 14, 2012 file photo, King Salman, left, speaks with his son, now Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, (MBS), as they wait for Gulf Arab leaders ahead of the opening of Gulf Cooperation Council, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The surprise dismissal and arrest of dozens of ministers, royals, officials and senior military officers by MBS late Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, is unprecedented in the secretive, 85-year-old kingdom. But so is the by-now virtually certain rise to the throne of a 30-something royal who, in another first, is succeeding his father. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)

Interesting times in Arabia

If hard times can make a monkey eat red pepper, as the ancient saying goes, tough times might require Arab and Jew to join forces to bring home the bacon. (Metaphorically speaking, of course.) The reformation of Islam, which stalled in Spain in the 16th century, might be struggling for renewed purchase in Saudi Arabia.

In this April 4, 2012 photo made available by the University of Goteborg in Sweden, the Swedish research team practices before the operations to transplant wombs at the Sahlgrenska Hospital in Goteborg, Sweden. Nine women in Sweden have successfully received transplanted wombs donated from relatives and will soon try to become pregnant, the doctor in charge of the pioneering project has revealed. “This is a new kind of surgery,” Dr. Mats Brannstrom told The Associated Press. Brannstrom is leading the initiative at the University of Goteborg and will run workshops for other doctors on how to perform womb transplants later this year. “We have no textbook to look at,” he said.  (AP Photo/University of Goteborg, Johan Wingborg)

When two heads are better than one

China is thinking big. The Middle Kingdom has already built a small chain of islands in the South China Sea, fortifying them and bids to make them armed fortresses astride the sea lanes connecting Asia to the world. Leaders have to think big, and China obviously wants to replace the United States as the world's superpower.

Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai speaks to the Associated Press after giving a press conference at his home in Harare, Zimbabwe, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017.  Tsvangirai said President Robert Mugabe must resign and called for a negotiated, inclusive transitional mechanism as well as comprehensive reforms before elections. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Coup in Zimbabwe

"Every great cause begins as a movement," the television philosopher Eric Hoffer once observed (maybe), "becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket." There's some dispute about whether Mr. Hoffer ever actually said it, but there's no dispute that it's an accurate description of what happened to the Zimbabwe of Robert Mugabe.

NBC's Megyn Kelly interviews Juli Briskman, a former government contractor who was fired after she was photographed giving President Trump's motorcade the middle finger. (Image: "Megyn Kelly Today" screenshot)

The 100-grand salute

Salutes to the president can be monetized, and a middle-finger salute to a passing presidential motorcade can sometimes be worth more than a hundred grand. Is this a great country, or what?

Homeward-bound jihadis

War is hell, especially for the losers. Rather than winding up in a World War II-type concentration camp, defeated terrorists of ISIS are merely gathering up their wounded egos and bloody heads and heading home. Mom might be overjoyed to welcome the return of little Jihadi Joey, but the neighbors, not so much. When reauthorizing the nation's surveillance code, Congress must make sure that in protecting the privacy of the law-abiding they don't overlook the dangers posed by returning fighters who have lost the battle abroad but intend to continue the fight at home.

Former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore leaves after he speaks at a church revival, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, in Jackson, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The dilemma in Alabama

"You can't beat Somebody with Nobody" is one of the first rules of politics, but occasionally Somebody is exposed as a wolf in borrowed clothes and Nobody wins by default. Nobody in Alabama is a man named Doug Jones, and a fortnight ago his chances of defeating Roy Moore were somewhere between Slim and None. And then Slim unexpectedly left town.

The Supreme Court in Washington is seen here at sunset on Oct. 10, 2017. (Associated Press) **FILE**

California and the Constitution

There's a lot about the law and the Constitution that California does not understand, particularly the First Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court, perhaps willing to offer the needed tutorial in the law, has agreed to hear a legal challenge to a California law requiring private pro-life pregnancy counseling centers to tell their clients that the state will provide an abortion instead.

President Trump has undermined the judiciary by using his pardon powers on former Sheriff Joe Arpaio and has hurt the First Amendment by berating news outlets or calling them "fake," according to some of the Democrats' articles of impeachment. (Associated Press/File)

Home, with a side of bacon

President Trump is home from the hill, and Thanksgiving isn't far away, but the only words of gratitude from the liberals and the harder left is, "Thanks for nothing." That's all the president gets from his sore-loser critics following a whirlwind diplomatic and deal-making excursion through Asia. When they lock their partisan opposition in concrete and vow never to say an encouraging word, Americans are reminded why they voted to "Put America first."

Former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks at the Vestavia Hills Public library, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in Birmingham, Ala. According to a Washington Post story Nov. 9, an Alabama woman said Moore made inappropriate advances and had sexual contact with her when she was 14. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The unraveling culture

The times are not just "a'changing," as Bob Dylan sang of them — but they're unraveling. Dismembering of the culture is at hand, and only the blind and foolish cannot see it. History is trashed and anyone who objects is a bigot, or worse. Pale-skinned Americans are vilified for living innocent lives, exploiting "white privilege." Bulls-eyes are painted on the backs of conservatives and Republicans because, well, they're conservatives and Republicans. Every man is a sexual predator, or will be soon. Throwing brickbats at unpopular targets can be great fun, but what goes around comes around.

Activists with Planned Parenthood demonstrated in Washington on Oct. 20, 2017, in support of a pregnant 17-year-old being held in a Texas facility for unaccompanied immigrant children to obtain an abortion. (Associated Press) **FILE**

The inconvenience of a conscience

Abortion is the issue that will divide America forever because it's fundamentally an issue of conscience vs. convenience, with no victory for either side in prospect. A conscience is difficult to silence and everybody likes convenience. There's no better snapshot of the chasm between red America and blue America.

Former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore waits to speak the Vestavia Hills Public library, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in Birmingham, Ala. According to a Thursday, Nov. 9 Washington Post story an Alabama woman said Moore made inappropriate advances and had sexual contact with her when she was 14. Moore has denied the allegations. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Roy Moore's day in court

Sometimes a lynch mob gets a guilty man, but it's nevertheless an unspeakable evil. The accusations against Roy Moore in Alabama are sordid and serious, but so far they're accusations, not charges, and he is entitled to his day in court. That day will be Dec. 12, and the jurors, in a special election to replace Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate, will be the voters of Alabama.

Eating, drinking and merriment in Maine

The voters of Maine gave themselves a Christmas present last week, voting to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, and doing it by referendum to prevent Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, from taking it away from them. The legislature had tried five times to give such a fine present to Maine voters, and five times Mr. LePage vetoed the present because he said Maine couldn't afford it.

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR REDFIN - A Redfin real estate yard sign is pictured in front of a house in Seattle on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017. (Stephen Brashear/AP Images for Redfin)

Searching for loopholes

Home is where the heart it is, but home is where there's a big hole in tax receipts. The home mortgage interest deduction, which enables mortgage holders to write off the interest payments on their properties, will subtract $1.3 trillion from the federal government's balance sheet over the course of the next decade.

National Space Council will meet Thursday. Government officials and entrepreneurs will be in attendance. The event will be livestreamed.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, in the middle of a Christmas Eve space walk, outside the International Space Station in 2013. (NASA)

High times and matrimony at NASA

Some marriages are said to be made in heaven, and now certain Democratic senators want to make sure that some marriages be recognized in space. Heaven can wait. These senators object to President Trump's nominee to be the administrator of NASA because he, like most Americans, thinks the ladies make the most appropriate brides.