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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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Immigration is the winning issue

Elections have consequences is a maxim that's as true as ever, but it's a maxim that has lost some of its punch in a "can-you-top-this?" culture. The punditry insists, as always, that every election is the most important one of everybody's lifetime. It's hyperbole, of course, but it's also true that the 2018 midterms are very, very important. "It's the economy, stupid," is giving way to a maxim waiting for someone to coin: Immigration determines what kind of nation we'll be, and most Americans like the nation we already have.

In this Nov. 12, 2015, file photo, a man walks past a building on the Google campus in Mountain View, Calif. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Trade wars, and trade wars

America's high-tech colossi dominate the globe. Silicon Valley, loosely defined in a mixture of metaphors, is the ultimate Big Rock Candy Mountain. Amazon, Uber, Apple, Microsoft, Lyft, Intel, Facebook, Google, Instagram, Ebay, Twitter, Lyft, were all made in America. Europe's high-tech companies, by contrast, are puny. Only Spotify, a Swedish music-streaming app, makes much of splash globally.

People walk outside the Nevada Supreme Court in Carson City on Tuesday, May 8, 2018 before oral arguments on a death penalty case. The justices are considering whether to allow the state to move forward with its first execution of a death row inmate in 12 years. (AP Photo/By Scott Sonner)

The executioner's complaint

Capital punishment continues to be a hot-button issue nearly everywhere. Several public-opinion polls indicate that state-sanctioned killing is not as popular in America as it once was. Two decades ago polls showed that 80 percent of Americans approved of taking a life for a life, though some approved reluctantly. Now approval is down to a considerably smaller majority. There's a spirited movement of conservatives to abolish the death penalty altogether.

In this July 20 photo, a sign in Spanish that reads "Attention government, AEE. Montones wants light. Six months without light," hangs from a pole in Las Piedras, Puerto Rico. A scattering of hardware stores, barbershops and corner stores across the island are embracing solar energy, trying to wean themselves off a state-owned power company that remains heavily dependent on petroleum. (AP Photo/ Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo)

Bracing for more of the worst

Puerto Rico is braced for Alberto, Beryl, Chris and Debby and other named storms, which will be churning out of the Atlantic any day now. The hurricane season is bearing down on us, and bracing is probably all the island can count on. The local government's record of hurricane relief does not inspire confidence.

In this June 12, 2018, file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un adjusts his glasses after signing documents with U.S. President Donald Trump at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Redemption through repatriation

Soldiers who give their "last full measure of devotion," as Abraham Lincoln described death on the battlefield, deserve the highest honor a nation can bestow. The fundamental honor is a dignified burial. That right and honor has been long denied to thousands of men who fell in Korea. North Korea can heal the open wound on the American conscience by finally returning the remains of its long-lost sons.

FILE - In this July 11, 2018 file photo, students and community activists march at Northeastern University in Boston demanding the school cancel a multimillion-dollar research contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Northeastern was hired by ICE to research U.S. technology exports. Several colleges with ties to ICE are being pressured to split with the agency amid uproar over the separation of migrant families along the nation's border. (AP Photo/Sarah Betancourt, File)

Fanatics unbound

Eliminating law enforcement on the nation's southern border is a cherished goal of a noisy segment of undetermined size among Democrats. Cooler Democratic heads think it's party suicide, and it wouldn't help the nation, either. But cool heads in the party are scarce. Playing the "I'm crazier than thou" game is more fun.

FILE  - This Wednesday, April 26, 2017 file photo shows a Google icon on a mobile phone, in Philadelphia. European Union antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager is planning a statement on Wednesday, July 18, 2018 amid reports that her office will slap a record $5 billion fine on Google for abuse of its dominant position in the Android mobile phone operating systems. The decision was widely expected this week and financial media, including Bloomberg and the Financial Times, said the amount would total 4.3 billion euros. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Europe's war on American success

America's high-tech colossi dominate the globe: Amazon, Uber, Apple, Microsoft, Lyft, Intel, Facebook, Google, Instagram, eBay, Twitter, Lyft and others were all made in America. Europe's tech companies, by contrast, are puny. Only Spotify, a Swedish music-streaming app, has made much of splash globally.

As envisioned by President Trump, some 32 miles of new wall will be built in the Border Patrol's Rio Grande Valley sector at a price of $784 million, or $24.5 million per mile. (Associated Press/File)

A simple solution

Mitt Romney coined the term "self-deportation" in 2012 to describe his plan for stemming the flood of illegal immigrants pouring over the border. If illegals couldn't get jobs here because they have no documentation, they would decide to go home.

President Donald Trump departs after signing an Executive Order that establishes a National Council for the American Worker during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, July 19, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The slow dance to peace

Ours is not an age for reflection, patience and slow-dancing. Our age demands instant gratification. Sooner than that, if possible. Thus the slow-dancing in the latest exchange since the famous Singapore handshake, originating in a hand-carried letter to Pyongyang. The response came back in another hand-carried letter, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continuing as postman.

FILE - In this July 11, 2018, file photo, Miami Marlins' Starlin Castro is mobbed by teammates after he hit a walk-off single in the 12th inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, in Miami. The Marlins won 5-4. Just look at the standings: Thanks to a recent surge, the young Marlins (41-57) are not even last in the NL East. And opponents rave. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

A grand night for baseball

Baseball is the reason God made summer. Summer stretches out with the solace and symmetry of a long fly ball to deep center field, climbing ever higher and hanging in the sky as if the afternoon could go on forever. Whether watching a ball game from a box seat on the third-base line or through a hole in the right-field fence, we could only wish it would.

President Donald Trump, center, accompanied by House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, left, and Rep. Diane Black, R-Tn., right, gestures as he listens to a question from a reporter as the media is escorted out of the Cabinet room of the White House, Tuesday, July 17, 2018, in Washington. Trump says he meant the opposite when he said in Helsinki that he doesn't see why Russia would have interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The fightin' side of America

The most depressing thing about Donald Trump's astonishing cuddle-up with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki is that it reveals how small the president's mastery of history and power politics. Worse, he does not hear the minor chords in the music of America, a gift most Americans acquire in the womb.

FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok testifies before the House Committees on the Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform during a hearing on "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election," on Capitol Hill, Thursday, July 12, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The art of detecting bias

'Bias" isn't complicated, and recognizing it is so easy a child can see it, and usually does. Every parent discovers this. If bias and the appearance of bias were persons, they would be identical twins whose mother couldn't tell them apart. Though usually personae non grata in law enforcement, these twins palled around with key players in the investigations of Donald Trump's presidential campaign. So, too, the inquiry into Hillary Clinton's handling of classified emails, and it fueled hatred for one and affection for the other. There won't be a satisfactory explanation for the sordid behavior of the Justice Department and its subsidiary, the FBI, until the curious decision that exonerated Mrs. Clinton and targeted Mr. Trump is explained, and in full.

U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One when departing from Glasgow, Scotland, on his way to Helsinki, Finland, Sunday, July 15, 2018 on the eve of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The summer of our malcontents

Gershwin got it right: "Summertime, and the livin' is easy, the fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high." It's the season for sitting on the bank of the creek with a fishing pole and letting life come to you. But sometimes those fish aren't biting, and the flies and mosquitos are. The dog days are soon upon us, and the grumblers will be wondering where to get a peaceful, easy feelin'. It's the summer of our malcontents.

President Donald Trump, center, with from left, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, pose during a group photo of NATO heads of state and government at Park Cinquantenaire in Brussels, Belgium, on Wednesday, July 11, 2018. NATO leaders gathered in Brussels Wednesday for a two-day summit to discuss Russia, Iraq and their mission in Afghanistan.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

NATO gets an earful

President Trump knows how to make a point by showing up late for a meeting. He arrived 30 minutes late Thursday at a session of the NATO summit, missed scheduled meetings with two world leaders, and talked to reporters for an unscheduled 35 minutes and then flew off to London for greater opportunities for tardiness.

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures while speaking to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during their bilateral breakfast, Wednesday, July 11, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Curse of the easy rider

Donald Trump says he wants excellence and higher productivity in government and you might think liberals, always eager to expand the work of government, would stand up and applaud. But there's not even the sound of one hand clapping. The reaction of the "progressives" to attempt to modernize civil service rules that monitor the hiring and firing of federal workers — reforms that could start taking place this week — has been a mixture of one part fear and two parts loathing.

President Donald Trump stands with Judge Brett Kavanaugh, his Supreme Court nominee, and his family in the East Room of the White House, Monday, July 9, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Diversity bites the liberals

Six Catholics, three Jews, three women, five conservatives and four liberals. Not a Protestant, man or woman, anywhere in sight. Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court might count more true-blue Roman Catholics than the College of Cardinals in Rome. Diversity, thy name is John Roberts.

In this image from TV, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May gives statement in the parliament Monday July 9, 2018. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson resigned Monday, adding to divisions over Brexit that threaten to tear apart Prime Minister Theresa May's government.(Parliamentary Recording Unit via AP)

A painful lesson in London

Perhaps it's no longer a matter of if, but of when, and under what circumstances, Theresa May's career as prime minster comes to a humiliating end in Britain. The resignations of David Davis, the cabinet minister overseeing Brexit, and Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, within a day of one another have seen to that. The only remaining question is, now what?

The Dome of the Capitol Building in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Religious intolerance on the left

George Washington, who saw at first hand the limitations of surmise, conjecture and theory, nailed it. "Reason and experience," he said, "both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."