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Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, smiles Sept. 21, 2012, at her husband, Sidney Williams (left), during a House Ethics Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington after learning she had been cleared of allegations that she steered a $12 million federal bailout to a bank where her husband owns stock. (Associated Press)

On the outside, looking in

Moral preening comes naturally in some precincts. It's cheap, it feels good and has very little to do with authentic high moral tone. But it doesn't accomplish much. When at least 66 Democratic members of Congress boycotted the inauguration of Donald Trump, saying that he was not a legitimate president and would never be their president, they got a headline or two but accomplished little more than children who threaten to hold their breath unless they get the piece of candy they want.

President Donald Trump speaks at The Salute To Our Armed Services Inaugural Ball in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Donald Trump begins returning the power of the government to the people

Donald Trump's presidency won't be written in poetry. He's neither a poet himself nor does he inspire flights of fancy and heroic language. He reprised his aims -- "dark" and harsh in the description of his more delicate critics -- in his inaugural address in the language of his campaign, plain and sometimes rough at the edges, planks with the bark still on. His plain speech recalls neither John F. Kennedy nor Ronald Reagan, but Harry S Truman.

Senate Armed Services Committee member Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, during the committee's hearing: "Foreign Cyber Threats to the United States."  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

And here comes 2018

Now that the presidential election campaign is in the history books, with the results certified and the new president at work on making America great again, Washington's attention turns to the 2018 midterm congressional elections and the set-up to another presidential campaign. The city snoozes, but the politics never sleeps.

FILE - In this Sept. 22, 2014, file photo, a member of the Secret Service Uniformed Division with a K-9 walks along the perimeter fence along Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House in Washington. An Army veteran who got over the White House fence and inside the executive mansion before being stopped is about to be sentenced. Omar Gonzalez is scheduled to appear in federal court in Washington for a sentencing hearing Tuesday. Gonzalez's lawyer is asking a judge to sentence him to time served and says he deserves leniency because of his Army service. Prosecutors are asking that Gonzalez spend nearly two years in prison. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

A president for a day (maybe)

David Rice Atchison was a president (if that's what he was) that the sorehead Democrats, stewing in the sour juices of contempt and frustration, could love. Atchison might, or might not, have been president for a day but he's a footnote to history that almost nobody remembers.

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

A candidate for the ax

Donald Trump promises change on a scale seldom seen in Washington. Whether his campaign to "Make America great again" succeeds depends a great deal on whether he can bend the bureaucratic institutions that make up the federal government to his will.

Protestors gather for a march on the Capitol Building as preparations continue ahead of the presidential inauguration, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

A tantrum for the Inaugural

No one likes to lose, but the sweet taste of victory makes the risk worth it. In the race to become the 45th president of the United States, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump put everything on the line, and Hillary lost. She seems to be taking it as a grown-up must, but the sting of defeat has been too much for many of the Democrats, and legions of them promise to disrupt Friday's Inauguration Day festivities.

FILE - In this undated file photo provided by the U.S. Army, Pfc. Chelsea Manning poses for a photo wearing a wig and lipstick. On Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, who leaked Army documents and is serving 35 years. (U.S. Army via AP, File)

Undeserved mercy for Chelsea Manning

The difference between real life, where most Americans live, and life inside the bubble, as President Obama described the place where many Democrats fled to, has never been illustrated more vividly than in the commutation of the sentence of Chelsea (nee Bradley) Manning, who was serving 35 years in prison for betraying her country.

President-elect Donald Trump speaks during the presidential inaugural Chairman's Global Dinner, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Making sense of what's happening

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 Barack Obama holds up a personalized Chicago Cubs baseball jersey presented to him for a group photo during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, where the president honored the 2016 World Series Champion baseball team. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Obama, baseball and the numbers

Barack Obama was a deprived child, and it shows. Born on an island in the middle of an ocean and raised in Indonesia, little Barack never had the opportunity to absorb the juice and electricity of America. He grooved on the evening call to Muslim prayer, which he called "the prettiest sound on earth," but never learned the rousing words and music of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

FILE - In this Jan. 11, 2017 file photo, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington at the confirmation hearing for Attorney General-designate, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Lewis says hes doesnt consider Donald Trump a legitimate president, blaming the Russians for helping the Republican win the White House. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

The suicide of an icon

Democrats have yet to grasp the fact that Donald Trump is not your typical Republican, eager to curl up in the fetal position when fired on. He fires back, usually with both barrels.

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, where the president honored the 2016 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs baseball team. In the background are Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, center, and his brother Todd Ricketts, who was chosen by President-elect Donald Trump to be Deputy Commerce Secretary. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The sum of hope and change

Barack Obama vowed to transform America, and he succeeded. After his two terms in the White House, the day-to-day lives of Americans are very different from what they were. If religious faith and politics are important to the feelings of well-being, the Age of Obama has pushed the nation backward. Transformation can be good, and it can be bad, depending on who's transforming what.

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks at McCormick Place in Chicago, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, giving his presidential farewell address. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Obama's legacy of bad racial feeling

George Washington established the precedent of the farewell address. Not every president has something to say as he leaves the White House. Those who do, or think they do, usually indulge mostly in self-congratulations. Some indulge self-delusion.

Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump smiles during a CNN town hall with Anderson Cooper in the historic Riverside Theatre, Tuesday, March 29, 2016, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CNN learns a hard lesson

Whatever else Donald Trump may be, he's a new kind of politician. He's not afraid of the press. He doesn't drop to the fetal position, cowering as if pleading for a little mercy, when The New York Times or The Washington Post -- or CNN News -- cries boo!

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., left, and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, at the second day of a confirmation hearing for Attorney General-designate, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The bigotry of the high-minded

Only the terminally high-minded are qualified to break precedents, and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey is qualified, at least in his own mind, to break hoary Senate tradition to testify against a colleague up for a presidential appointment.

In this Sept. 1, 2015, file photo, from left, Brad Steinle, Liz Sullivan and Jim Steinle, the brother, mother and father of Kate Steinle who was shot to death on a pier, listen to their attorneys speak during a news conference on the steps of City Hall in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

Justice for the slain innocents

If Tomas Martinez-Maldonado isn't the poster child for Kate's Law, he should be. He's enmeshed in the toils of the law now to answer the charge that he brutally raped a 13-year-old girl on a Greyhound bus in Kansas last September.

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.

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