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Making sense of what's happening in journalism

The Washington Times

Inauguration Day begins a new chapter in the story of America every four years, and the story of the republic thus never grows stale. This time, however, the fresh page is marred with fake and bizarre news before a single accurate word is written. Russian hacking reports, secret dossiers and news of what happens when a president tries to lead from behind overwhelm the senses and challenge the ability to make heads or tails of it all.

President-elect Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, speaks during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trump's 'intelligence' file

Anything anyone can make up about Donald Trump goes. That's the "moral" of the latest speculation about the sins of the Donald, his chief sin being that he defeated Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in November.Anything anyone can make up about Donald Trump goes. That's the "moral" of the latest speculation about the sins of the Donald, his chief sin being that he defeated Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in November.

President Obama told NBC News on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2017, that it was "not clear" that President-elect Donald Trump ever believed he would win the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. (NBC News screenshot)

Obama's long goodbye

"Parting is such sweet sorrow," says Juliet to Romeo in Shakespeare's telling of it. And so it is, but Barack Obama's impending departure from the national stage does not necessarily pierce the heart in the same way. Many Americans prefer the message of Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks: "How can I miss you when you won't go away?"

Attorney General-designate, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Attacking with popguns

The Democrats took their best shots Tuesday at Sen. Jeff Sessions, the president-elect's nominee for U.S. attorney general, and demonstrated only that it's difficult for a gang that can't shoot straight to do much damage with popguns that only fire blanks.

"Fake news - a total political witch hunt!" President-elect Donald Trump tweeted in screaming all-capital letters. (Associated Press)

A change of hope

Tempus fugits without much month-to-month change. February is a lot like January, August a lot like July. But the pace of change quickens, and overnight everything old seems new again. The 2016 presidential election was a sudden and breathtaking upheaval of wishes and dreams as Americans divided themselves between those who want, or think they want, a fundamentally transformed United States, and those who yearn to "make America great again." These opposing emotions of disappointment and expectation collide to promise a jarring ride through 2017.

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting in the Moscow's Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Jan. 9, 2017. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

The 2016 campaign continues

Faith, as the Bible teaches us, is the evidence of things not seen. Faith is the key to belief that surpasses all understanding, and now the secular intelligence chiefs tells us that trust is the key to understanding affairs of state, too. All the president's men, or at least some of them, have now spoken what they insist is the last word on the Russian hacking scandal, concluding that Vladimir Putin plotted to choose the 45th president of the United States. If the chiefs of spies were to explain how they know that, they would probably have to kill us.

President-elect Donald Trump listens to a reporters question at Trump Tower in New York, Monday, Jan. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Making good on the promise

Donald Trump's signature campaign promise was to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border to take control of immigration to America. The promise was appealing to most Americans, because every nation in the world has the right to control who gets in, and how.

Jeff Sessions was nominated by President Reagan in 1986 for a judgeship, but senators blocked him over what they said were racist tendencies. (Associated Press/File)

The black friends of Jeff Sessions

The confirmation hearings for Cabinet and other high-position nominees, of and by any president, must be fair but robust. The questions put to the nominee must be tough but just. But sometimes confirmation hearings can become what Clarence Thomas, who survived a mean and unjust hearing to become a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, called "a high-tech lynching."

Former Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite,File)

California discovers states' rights

The Democratic liberals have treated the Second, Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution with the respect given to discarded Kleenex over the eight years of the Obama presidency. But California, the bluest of the blue states, has just discovered, of all things, states' rights. The ghost of Strom Thurmond and his States' Rights Democrats is apparently alive and well in Sacramento.

This image from a video that was broadcast live on Facebook and later posted on Vidme shows a frame in which a man, right, is assaulted in Chicago. The video shows the man with his mouth taped shut as a woman and other people cut off his shirt and hair with a knife, and someone pushes his head with his or her foot. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, that the victim has mental health challenges, and he called the video "sickening." (Vidme via AP)

Pure evil in Chicago

Evil is more than something in the eye of the beholder, and someone who can't recognize evil when he sees it reveals a lot about who he is and where he comes from.

A survey finds that 91 percent of the incoming 115th Congress identify as Christian, compared to 95 percent of the 1961-62 legislative body. (Associated Press)

Giving Congress a good shake

Congress, like a proper martini, should be shaken, not stirred. Democrats and Republicans alike are getting an early demonstration of the effects of a good shaking. Shaking can move mountains, and even timid congressmen.

Hot on the cyber trail

Condemnation of Russia's presumed cyberhacking, aimed at high-level figures suspected of abusing the latest presidential election campaign, has sprouted from every corner of Washington. There's little mischief to anger Americans more than the idea that foreigners are manipulating the transferral of governing from one president to another.

A student walks the University of Maryland campus. (Facebook, University of Maryland) **FILE**

News from the College Park cuckoo's nest

A sequel of sorts to the 1975 film, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," is playing out at the University of Maryland at College Park, where the inmates are threatening to take over the asylum. The cuckoo's nest, which the movie set in Oregon, has been moved to College Park.

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