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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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President Donald Trump arrives at Paya Lebar Air Base for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Sunday, June 10, 2018, in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A crossroads at the summit

No politician owns the exclusive rights to "hope and change." As a campaign slogan, it worked well for a moment for Barack Obama, but in hindsight it was little more than an attractive but empty phrase. He wowed the world by signing the Iran Nuclear Deal, but left the terror-friendly regime in Tehran on course to complete a doomsday arsenal. President Trump, girding himself for a nuclear summit with North Korea, promises to deal only in the hard currency of reality.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., tells reporters he intends to cancel the traditional August recess and keep the Senate in session to deal with backlogged tasks, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 5, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

McConnell's masterstroke

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, is not the most charismatic, telegenic, or gripping figure to have graced the politics of the republic. His soft-spoken Southern manners tend more toward the soporific than the stimulating, and they sometimes lead his critics to underestimate him.

President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium, Tuesday, May 29, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Sometimes saving money is scary

It's difficult to imagine that the U.S. Government has more money than it has figured out how to spend, but President Trump wants to give back $15.4 billion of such money and Congress is unhappy about it. This money is in appropriated, but unspent, funding from earlier years.

Michael Farris, CEO of the conservative Christian group Alliance Defending Freedom, looks at the decision in front of the Supreme Court, Monday, June 4, 2018 in Washington.  The Supreme Court has ruled for a Colorado baker who wouldn't make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in a limited decision that leaves for another day the larger issue of whether a business can invoke religious objections to refuse service to gay and lesbian people.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

A half-baked cake

A half-baked cake may be better than no cake at all, but not much better. The Supreme Court's decision that a baker with religious convictions against it doesn't have to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding was the work of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who seems to have a schoolgirl crush on anything gay.

FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2015, file photo, contestants wear swimsuits as they compete in the 2016 Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, N.J. The Miss America Organization is dropping the swimsuit competition from its nationally televised broadcast, saying it will no longer judge contestants in their appearance. Gretchen Carlson, a former Miss America who is head of the organization's board of trustees, made the announcement Tuesday, June 5, 2018, on "Good Morning America." (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

The new Miss America

"A pretty girl is like a melody/ that haunts you night and day/You can't escape, she's in your memory/by morning, night and noon/She will leave you and then come back again/a pretty girl is just like a pretty tune."

Names make news, and trouble, too

A lot of people don't like their names, even good, solid, substantial names like Woodrow, Arthur or Gertrude. Particularly, apparently, "Arthur." Names can predict fortune. June brides, dreaming of making children, might one day regret choosing something cute, such as naming a daughter "Chastity," or a son "Shirley." They could keep this in mind.

When is an informant a spy?

Enemies of Donald Trump made a big mistake when they sent a spy into the midst of the Republican candidate's campaign. Their secret agent was no debonair figure in the mold of "Bond, James Bond," but a rotund and affable academic with no trailing retinue of femmes fatale. There will be no winning over of American public opinion on fashion points, and so the legitimacy of shadowy enterprise will rise or fall on its own merit, which appears to be not much.

Workers plant romaine lettuce, Thursday, April 26, 2018, at the EG Richter Family Farm in Puyallup, Wash. The farm sells most of it's lettuce to large local grocery store chains, and owner Tim Richter says that so far his farm hasn't been affected by warnings that romaine lettuce from Yuma, Ariz., apparently has been contaminated with the E. coli bacteria. Richter says he urges consumers to stay away from bagged lettuce and to always cut and wash their own produce. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

When green takes a hit

Green is good. It's the favorite color of the environmentalists, and everything green is the craze of the politically correct. Many a clever shopkeeper, taxicab operator and entrepreneur has set out to "go green," joining the craze with little more than a brush and a can of paint. If green is good, it nevertheless needs a little marketing genius.

Turkey's President and ruling Justice and Development Party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters during an election rally in Corlu near Istanbul, Tuesday, May 29, 2018. Turkey holds parliamentary and presidential elections on June 24, 2018, seen as important as it will transform Turkey's governing system to an executive presidency.(Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)

The shriveling ally

Only yesterday, Turkey was considered a candidate for membership in the European Union, a reliable friend of the West. Turkey was reasonably modern, forward looking, and Western oriented. Turkey was already a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and membership in the EU would only cement its alliance with the West.

This undated photo provided by VisitNC.com shows a boy on the beach at Ocracoke on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach is No. 2 on the list of best beaches for the summer of 2018 compiled by Stephen Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach, a professor at Florida International University. (Bill Russ/NC Department of Commerce via AP)

Let the good times roll

Summer signals the arrival of happier days -- more sun, more fun and more all-around good vibes. It isn't officially summer yet, but it's close enough to taste. Memorial Day is behind us and that means it's a good time to measure "the mood of America."

People wait their turn to vote during the presidential election in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, May 20, 2018. Amidst hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine, President Nicolas Maduro is seeking a second, six-year term in an election that a growing chorus of foreign governments refuse to recognize after key opponents were barred from running.  (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

The destruction of Venezuela

Viva la revolution — or something. Alas, the slow-motion catastrophe that is the Venezuelan revolution shows no signs of abating. It keeps going, going and going, and in ever steeper descent.

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.

President Donald Trump speaks to the media before boarding the Marine One helicopter on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 23, 2018, en route to a day trip to New York City. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Slinging doubts about Singapore

The Democrats and their allied pundits are licking their chops at the prospect of supping on soup of bones from the collapse of the Singapore summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. Mr. Trump now rates the prospect of the summit even happening as no better than a toss of a coin.

Jim Thomas, Dr. Seth Cropsey, Ronald O’Rourke and Dr. Andrew Erickson, discuss the U.S. Asia-Pacific Strategic Considerations Related to P.L.A. Naval Forces Modernization in front of the House Armed Services Committee, in Washington, DC., Wednesday, December 11, 2013.  (Andrew S Geraci/The Washington Times)

The cost of not having a Merchant Marine

Freedom of the seas is critical to America's economic and political security, enabling the transportation of goods manufactured in the United States to other places around the world, and enabling Americans to obtain things otherwise unobtainable here, like bananas every day of every year. What would life be without the freedom to enjoy an occasional banana split?

In this Jan. 21, 2018, file photo, lights shine inside the U.S. Capitol Building as night falls in Washington. (AP Photo/J. David Ake) ** FILE **

A privilege, not a right

No nation is more confused over who, why and how someone may cross its borders than the "nation of immigrants." America's confusion is largely the work of men and women who would get lost on a highway with no exits. Common sense, an uncommonly precious leadership quality, is the compass that points the way toward an immigration policy based on respect for the law. Common sense, alas, suffers a sharp discount in our present day.

In this May 21, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump, right, holds a bilateral meeting with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Trump sided with Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries Tuesday in a deepening diplomatic crisis with Qatar, appearing to endorse the accusation that the oil-rich Persian Gulf nation is funding terrorist groups. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Peace in the Middle East

Donald Trump isn't the first man to point out that life in the Middle East is built largely on a mirage of fantasy and resentment. But he is the first man in a long time to do something about it. Moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is simply a long-overdue recognition of the reality that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and the Jews aren't going anywhere.

In this May 9, 2018, file photo, CIA nominee Gina Haspel testifies during a confirmation hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Gina Haspel confirmed

In the end, the resistance didn't work. Despite much hemming and hawing, the nomination of Gina Haspel to be the director of the Central Intelligence Agency passed the Senate this week. The vote was 54 to 45, with six Democrats supporting her. Two of those Democrats are members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner of Virginia and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Their support sealed the success of the nomination earlier in the week.

A bad week for Democrats

The blue wave that Democrats are counting on to win the day in November, and the Congress with it, just can't seem to break out of the swamp. This week's party primaries were counted on to produce candidates moderate enough, or at least sane enough, to restore credibility to Democratic prospects. It didn't happen quite that way.

FILE- In this Sunday, April 29, 2018 file photo released by Saudi Press Agency, SPA, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, is greeted by Saudi King Salman in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Iran's rivals long have wanted to scuttle the nuclear deal with world powers, but its destruction could backfire and spark even more unrest in parts of the Middle East as Saudi Arabia threatens to launch its own nuclear weapons program in response. (Saudi Press Agency via AP)

With a little help from a friend

It's rare for the list of everyday annoyances to get shorter, not longer. But shrink the list did when the high price of oil crashed a decade or so ago, leaving Americans with a happy jingle in their pockets. Now several factors are converging to drive up the price of oil again, and motorists are feeling familiar pain in the wallet. Dread may return with every fill-up. The difference this time, though, is that the United States has new oil reserves in the Earth's fractures beneath North Dakota, and now maybe Saudi Arabia wants to be a pal.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman listens as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the opening ceremony of the new US embassy in in Jerusalem, Monday, May 14, 2018. Amid deadly clashes along the Israeli-Palestinian border, President Donald Trump's top aides and supporters on Monday celebrated the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem as a campaign promised fulfilled. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

This year, in Jerusalem

The world did not end when President Trump withdrew from the Paris climate scheme, nor did the heavens fall when he insisted that the United States deserves a fair shake in the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement.