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President Donald Trump talks with reporters as he departs from the South Lawn of the White House via Marine One in Washington, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, to spend the weekend at Camp David in Maryland. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Who’s in charge of the military?

Perhaps it’s the mark of our times, but everybody seems to want to be someone or something he’s not. Men are trying to be women, women want to be soldiers, judges appoint themselves legislators. “Amusin,’” as Li’l Abner used to say in the comics pages, “but confusin’.” But given the stakes, there’s no room for the confusing.

FILE - This file photo provided on Monday, Sept 25, 2017, by the Ghouta Media Center, a Syrian activist media group, shows smoke and debris rising after Syrian government shelling of the rebel-held Jobar neighborhood of Damascus, Syria. Humanitarian officials are warning that conditions outside Syria's capital have reached crisis levels, as the government refuses to give up a siege against its opponents that has trapped close to 400,000 people without enough food, fuel or medicine for the winter. (Ghouta Media Center, via AP, File)

The season for church-burning

The “soldiers” of ISIS are battered, bloody and on the run in Iraq, but they’re making with big talk for the holidays which they have no reluctance to call by their right name, “the Christmas season.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Acting Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Robert Patterson make an announcement about new tools to combat the opioid crises, at the Justice Department in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Trading a badge for a broom

Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Those tasked with administering the law are obligated defer their opinions to the impartiality of the Constitution. Some people at the Justice Department prefer to tug on Lady Justice’s blindfold. Mr. Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion, so called, casting a shadow over the administration of Donald Trump since Inauguration Day, is fraying badly at the edges. The badge, the symbol of authority, must give way to the broom.

A risky president for Mexico

The course of American-Mexican relations never has run particularly smooth. There was the Mexican-American war in the mid-19th century, of course, and there’s always the inherent tension with one big, rich country to the north sharing a lengthy border with a poor, perennially corrupt and struggling nation to the south. “Poor Mexico,” goes one ancient lament south of the border, “so far from God, so close to the United States.”

U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks as his wife Kayla Moore looks on at the end of an election-night watch party at the RSA activity center, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Montgomery, Ala. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Good news in Alabama for everybody

Roy Moore leaves the stage with a gift for both Republicans and Democrats. The Republicans won’t have to share the stage with him ever again, and the Democrats, who tried and failed to win even one of a succession of special elections this year, have finally got what they couldn’t get on their own.

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Enas Almadhwahi, an immigration outreach organizer for the Arab American Association of New York, stands for a photo along Fifth Avenue in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn, Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, in New York. American Muslims are reeling over Donald Trump's victory, wondering what the next four years will bring after a campaign in which he proposed creating a national database of Muslims, monitoring all mosques and banning some or all Muslims from entering the country. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

'Allahu akbar!' on the streets of America

Confederate soldiers shrieked the rebel yell at Gettysburg, American paratroopers cried "Geronimo!" when they jumped into France on D-Day, and radical Muslim terrorists cry "Allahu akbar" when they kill innocents on the streets of America. Whether meant to calm nerves or strike fear in the hearts of opponents, the cries become a signature, sometimes a cry of bravery and heroism, but sometimes a cry of cowardly revenge.

FILE - In this Tuesday March 21, 2017, file photo, Republican gubernatorial candidate, Ed Gillespie, gestures during a kitchen table discussion at a private home in Toano, Va. Political observers say Virginia's closely watched race for governor between Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam has become one of the state's most racially charged campaigns in recent memory. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

Fear and loathing in Virginia

Desperation can make men who say they want to be good do bad things. Ralph Northam, the Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia, had been leading Ed Gillespie, the Republican, for months. His election was a lock. Everybody told him so.

In this Sept. 30, 2016 photo, teacher Regina Yang leads a bilingual Korean-English language immersion classes at Porter Ranch Community School in Los Angeles. As the rest of America debates stringent limits on immigration, California voters are considering going the other direction: They will decide whether to repeal a nearly two-decade-old prohibition that bars schools from teaching English learners in any language other than English. Proposition 58 has drawn virtually no attention, unlike the division sowed in 1998 when the original initiative went before voters. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

A growing shortage of cultural glue

It's natural to feel out of place in a strange land. But Americans can sometimes feel that way in their own land. The comfortable bonds of a common culture are weakening as the pace of migration quickens, and with rapidly shifting social currents goes the fundamental means of communicating in a shared language. A common language is the glue that holds a culture together. The familiar sound of English is fading in some quarters even as it spreads across the planet.

FILE - In this June 26, 2017, file photo, protesters take part in a rally to oppose a new Texas "sanctuary cities" bill that aligns with the president's tougher stance on illegal immigration, in San Antonio, Texas, outside of the Federal Courthouse. With a rapid succession of policy changes and sharp rise in arrests, the Trump administration has created a surge of demand among immigrants in need of legal help, and hundreds of lawyers have started taking on immigration cases. But the systems for finding and reporting fraud and misconduct remain byzantine and allow bad lawyers to sometimes rack up dozens of complaints before being stopped. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

A fair chance for prospective immigrants

"You can't win if you don't play" is the slogan pitched to prospective buyers of lottery tickets, some of whom are put off by the observation of certain mathematicians that your chances of winning the lottery are about the same whether you buy a ticket or not. Prospective immigrants waiting to get into the United States deserve something better than a lottery ticket.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., flanked by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., left, and Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, talks about advancing the GOP agenda for tax reform, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The tipping point of tax reform

As the Republicans take their mark in the tax overhaul race, the obstacle is not the clock but the mischief of the naysayers who are eager to tie the reformers' shoelaces together. That would stop the race if not the clock. With the nation's prosperity on the line, everything is at stake for both special interests and ordinary Americans.

Kate Steinle was fatally shot on July 1, 2015, allegedly by illegal immigrant Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez. The U.S. House on Thursday passed Kate's Law, a federal provision aimed at penalizing illegal immigrants who return to the United States after being deported. (Associated Press)

Justice on trial

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, who was arrested two years ago for killing 32-year-old Kate Steinle, out on an evening stroll with her father on the San Francisco waterfront, finally went on trial for murder last week. Mr. Zarate, a career criminal, is something of an illegal-immigration artist. He had been deported five times.

U.S. Army Pfc. Amy Alexanders dresses in her Marne Standard battle gear before taking part in a physical demands study, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014, in Ft. Stewart, Ga. The Army is conducting a study that will determine how all soldiers, including women, for the first time, will be deemed fit to join its fighting units from infantry platoons to tank crews. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Conscripting women for war

Women have voluntarily served in the military ranks of the United States, serving with men through all the nation's wars, and with great distinction. The question now before the makers of defense policy is whether women should be required to sign up for the draft and risk the rigors of the battlefield whether they want to or not.

FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2015 file photo, Minnesota fans celebrate Halloween during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Minnesota and Michigan in Minneapolis. Administrators at some universities across the country are increasingly concerned in 2017 that certain costumes are becoming flash points in the campus debate over race and culture. While not outright prohibiting any costume, administrators are using letters, campus forums and advertising campaigns to encourage students to pick outfits that dont offend their classmates of color. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia, File)

The politically correct goblin

Tonight's the night of ghosts, goblins and angry witches, and the wise man and sagacious woman knows to avoid a ghost or a wicked witch. But in most precincts that's still a misdemeanor. Running afoul of the politically correct dress code, particularly on campus, is a felony.

Former President Barack Obama. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

The train wreck, coming 'round the bend

Anyone insured under Obamacare should be careful not to stand among or near sharp objects this week when he looks at the annual round of Obamacare enrollment. He'll faint at the sight of what Obamacare will cost over the next year. The average exchange prices for the more popular Obamacare plans will rise 34 percent.

Former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore won the Republican nomination in a run off race against Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama. (Associated Press photographs)

'Insurrection' in Alabama

Some of the Republicans who didn't get the memo are forming their familiar circular firing squad again, this time to assist the Democrats in taking down Roy Moore, the Republican candidate in the Dec. 12 special election in Alabama to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the Senate.

In this image provided by the U.S. Army, a carry team of soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), carry the transfer case during a casualty return for Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, of Lyons, Ga., at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Oct. 5, 2017. U.S. and Niger forces were leaving a meeting with tribal leaders when they were ambushed on Oct. 4 and Wright and three other soldiers were killed. There were about a dozen U.S. troops and a company of Niger forces, for a total of about 40 service members in the joint mission. (Pfc. Lane Hiser/U.S. Army via AP)

The borderless war

Thanks to a cowboy hat and a sharp tongue, a moment of fame has stretched into two moments for a Florida congresswoman. The uproar over who said what to whom when President Trump called the widow of an American soldier killed in the defense of his country becomes travesty through the dark arts of politics.

Immigrant rights supporters join hands as they demonstrate in favor of Congress passing a 'Clean Dream Act' that will prevent the deportation of young immigrants known as Dreamers working and studying in the U.S., Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, in Miami. President Trump announced plans to end a program protecting them. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Rocking the demographic

The liberal case for surging immigration as the essential element of healthy population growth needs a fresh coat of whitewash. As immigration reform advocates attempt to blaze a pathway to legal status for millions of illegals to follow, their formula is showing signs of wear. Immigrant hands, legal or illegal, are needed to turn the crank on the great American economic machine, and immigrant women are no longer having babies in the numbers they once did.

Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie speaks at a campaign rally at the Washington County Fairgrounds, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, in Abingdon, Va. (Andre Teague/The Bristol Herald-Courier via AP) ** FILE **

Stumble in the stretch

Whether for horses or political candidates, nothing evaporates quite like a double-digit lead when the favorite loses the momentum in the homestretch. Only three weeks ago Ralph Northam held a 13-point polling lead in the race for governor in Virginia, and the latest polls now show Mr. Northam in a dead heat with the Republican candidate, Ed Gillespie.

People gather in front of the Palau Generalitat in Barcelona, Spain awaiting for Catalan President Carles Puigdemont's speech Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. Spain announced an unprecedented plan Saturday to sack Catalonia's separatist leaders, install its own people in their place and call a new local election, using previously untapped constitutional powers to take control of the prosperous region that is threatening to secede. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)

Honoring homage to Catalonia

Words matter, and sometimes language matters most of all, as the crisis in Spain eloquently demonstrates. The crisis is the result of a long, bitter history of the Catalan people who now seem determined to break away, establish their own nation, and enthrone their own language.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is reported to have his first indictment from a federal grand jury in Washington, and the target could be taken into custody as soon as Monday. (Associated Press/File)

Collusion confusion

A good dog comes home clenching a bone in his teeth. A bad dog drags home a bloody remnant of skeleton. Bad dogs are on the loose around Washington and they're beginning to dig a little too deep into the Russian collusion scandal, so called. Sensitive noses in polite places are beginning to detect a stink worse than something from the swamp, and it's not coming from the Trump White House.

In this photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks at a meeting in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. Khamenei on Wednesday urged Europe to do more to back the 2015 nuclear deal after President Donald Trump refused to re-certify the pact and European companies have rushed into the Iranian markets since the landmark accord. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

The audacity of mendacity

Barack Obama might call it the audacity of hope. Others more skeptical might call it "the mendacity of hope." Two years ago when Barack Obama struck his nuclear deal with the mullahs in Iran he set out to achieve something more lasting than merely limiting Iran's ability to wage nuclear war.

Commonly referred to as the Peace Cross, this is a picture of the historic Bladensburg, Maryland, World War I Veterans Memorial. (Photo/Liberty Institute website)

Size matters, to these judges

The campaign to erase the nation's history continues, outrage following outrage, the goofy replacing the merely ridiculous. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which sits in Richmond, in its wisdom has ruled that a 40-foot Peace Cross erected 92 years ago to honor the military dead of World War I is "unconstitutional."

Handcuffs used on men arrested for prostitution solicitation sit on a table at a hotel in Minot, N.D., on Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015 in this file photo. (AP Photo/Martha Irvine) **FILE**

The myth of the happy hooker

The state has tried to eliminate, regulate and exploit the oldest profession for centuries, and no one has come up with a lasting formula. But now the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has cleared the way for "prostitution activists" to proceed with a lawsuit in a lower court to overturn the California law banning the trade, and the suit may have constitutional consequences.

Participants in the annual Trick or Treat Main Street go from business to business for candy and other items during the evening Halloween celebration, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017, in Pittston, Pa. (Dave Scherbenco/The Citizens' Voice via AP)

Ghosts on the run

Having given the back of the hand to Christopher Columbus, the snowflakes have gone to work on another suspect holiday, this one the preserve of ghosts and goblins. Just when everyone thought it was safe to be dead, pious ire of the politically correct is turned toward the Eve of All Hallows.