Paul Ryan, departing ingloriously from Congress in six months, has capitulated to Donald Trump and House right-wingers at the expense of the “Dreamer” immigrants brought to the United States at a young age. Ryan blocked a bipartisan bill that would have given the Dreamers protection from deportation and given them a pathway to citizenship. The measure also would have provided money for more sensible border security than the expensive and inefficient Trump wall.

We Americans regularly delude ourselves into believing atrocities of the past will never recur on our watch, that we have learned from history. Yet history often repeats itself in new and confounding guises that test not only our principles but also our ability as critical thinkers. Many of us fail in stunningly awful ways.

The Texas Association of Business rolled into Waco a few weeks ago with its bright idea of invigorating voter turnout in a state with chronically dismal turnout numbers: Not only tap businesses to convince employees to go out and vote but even suggest they vote in ways that might help those particular businesses.

Republican leaders seem to be looking the other way as children are separated from their asylum-seeking parents at the U.S.-Mexico border — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Vice President Mike Pence and, till recently, House Speaker Paul Ryan, all of whom boldly declare their allegiance to President Donald Trump’s immigration reforms and to cracking down on those crossing our borders illegally.

Since the end of the Cold War, it has widely been assumed that U.S. foreign policy would follow one of two courses: Either the United States would continue as primary defender of the international order it created after World War II or it would pull back from overseas commitments, shed global responsibilities, turn inward and begin transitioning to a post-American world. The second approach was where U.S. foreign policy seemed headed under President Barack Obama, and most saw the election of Donald Trump as another step toward withdrawal.

June is high season for weddings and Supreme Court opinions. The former are invariably memorable for a lifetime, whereas the latter may quickly be consigned to perpetual obscurity. This term’s blockbuster decision about wedding celebrations — vindicating the claim of Jack Phillips, the Colorado-based wedding cake artist — is now being dismissed in various quarters as a jurisprudential nothing-burger. All the Colorado Civil Rights Commission needed to do, it is said, was be nicer and more civil in rendering its “thou must serve all customers” mandate. By in effect vehemently condemning Phillips’ faith journey, the court concluded, the state agency had transgressed the bounds of tolerant discourse in a pluralistic society.

A letter from a grandmother of 10 to an advice column caught my eye recently. The grandmother lamented that none of her grandchildren bothered to acknowledge her on Mother’s Day. Now, given the fact that requiring grandchildren to contact their grandmothers on their special day might diminish the value of such contact, one would hope grandchildren might still be more sensitive and, of their own free will, be in touch. Must a child’s love and attention be centered only on his or her parents?

A few years ago, I was talking with Charles Krauthammer in the Fox News green room when the news that someone famous had passed away flashed on the television screen. Charles told me the way he hoped to go when his time came. His dream, he said, was to be assassinated during the seventh-inning stretch at a game at Nationals Park. He wanted to die in what he once called “my own private paradise,” where “the twilight’s gleaming, the popcorn’s popping, the kids’re romping and everyone’s happy.”

New York’s top cocktail bars face a crisis. A fashionable global protest movement has nightlife venues scrambling to replace their plastic straws with more sustainable alternatives, such as paper ones, on the theory that doing so will reduce plastic waste in the oceans. It all sound virtuous — but in reality, it’s likely to make matters worse.

President Donald Trump’s name wasn’t invoked in Waco’s 19th State District Court last week, but his long shadow fell on proceedings involving a white police officer’s use of unnecessary force on an unruly black motorist pulled over in East Waco. Not only did the president of the United States last week claim to be above the law to the extent he can pardon himself of crimes, not only do his lawyers assert that, as head of the Department of Justice, he cannot possibly obstruct justice, he also reinvigorated racial tensions over football, the national anthem and the police violence too many Americans don’t want to face but would rather dismiss by claiming patriotic outrage.

For decades, the Texas business climate has beckoned outsiders to pack up and move to the Lone Star state in search of a better way of life, a better place to work and a better place to raise a family. It’s great news for Texas businesses and the state’s economy. It also means an ever-growing student population in our Texas schools — a good problem to have, but with it comes a unique set of challenges.

“In England,” Alexander Hamilton says in The Federalist No. 70, “the king is a perpetual magistrate; and it is a maxim which has obtained for the sake of public peace that he is unaccountable for his administration, and his person sacred.” Even if he’s advised by a constitutional council, ultimately a monarch “is the absolute master of his own conduct in the exercise of his office and may observe or disregard the counsel given to him at his sole discretion.”

President Donald Trump is in a pardon frenzy. Last month, he dispensed absolution for boxer Jack Johnson and pundit Dinesh D’Souza, and this past week — before pardoning Alice Marie Johnson at the request of Kim Kardashian West — he declared that he can even pardon himself. A White House official told The Washington Post that Trump is now “obsessed” with pardons, his new “favorite thing.” The pardon power is the most kinglike power our presidents have; they can apply it whenever and to whomever they like. Still, many misconceptions surround this constitutional perquisite.

President Donald Trump has managed to enrage most of America’s closest allies by hitting them with name-calling, Twitter outbursts and steep tariffs on their steel and aluminum. In the past week, he has escalated his hardball tactics further, telling Canada and the European Union that if they don’t reduce their trade barriers, he’ll hit them with more tariffs.

Win by animus; lose by animus. That’s the message of the highly anticipated Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, in which the U.S. Supreme Court held Monday that a baker could not be found liable for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple because the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had treated him with “hostility” based on his religious beliefs. The decision, however, is not as bad for gay rights as it could have been.

Memorial Day weekend kicked off the annual summer driving season, but like a bad movie we have watched several times before, this holiday weekend was waiting to greet us with higher gasoline prices. National average gasoline prices are bumping up against $3 per gallon and could hit $4 per gallon on the West Coast. At the same time, West Texas Intermediate crude oil went from less than $30 per barrel to more than $70 per barrel last month.

Can an American president be indicted? Can he pardon with impunity? Refuse to answer a prosecutor’s questions? Do the answers to these questions lie in legal precedents? Historical practices? The resolution is in something more fundamental: a decision on whether we have a president or a king.

Richard Painter is not your typical Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, even in my idiosyncratic home of Minnesota. For one thing, he is a Republican, or at least has been for almost all of his life. He served in the George W. Bush administration, in fact, as the chief ethics lawyer. On many issues, he holds conservative positions one might expect from a lifelong Republican who now works as a corporate law professor. Yet he might win, and it would be good for us all if he does.

Tommy West was a prominent Texas newspaper reporter and columnist who died in 1998 at the age of 55. West graduated from Baylor University in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He was born in nearby Bosqueville and began his career at 16 as a copy boy for the Waco Tribune-Herald. Over the years he wrote for newspapers in Philadelphia, Fort Worth, Beaumont, Corpus Christi, Cincinnati, Houston, Stephenville and San Antonio. He worked as a reporter, columnist and editor for the San Antonio Express-News from 1980-1996. He penned well-read columns for the Express-News such as “Trails West” and “South Texas Spirit.” He was known affectionately there as “the Colonel.”

A few primary elections remain, but the campaign season is about to enter what I call the summer grind, which consists mostly of fundraisers, Fourth of July parades, etc. Retail politics is not a good summer sport; candidates will try to fight against the tide of serious disinterest in all things political. Regardless, with the primaries about to end, Republicans and Democrats are coming to terms with the factors that will shape the fall general election.

Just after he was elected president, Donald Trump went on what he called a “victory tour” in which he visited states that he won, ignoring those where Hillary Clinton received more votes. At the time it seemed like only the 20th most classless thing he was doing on any given day, but in retrospect it was a highly symbolic decision, a synecdoche for the presidency he was about to begin.

We now are on the brink of a trade war between the United States and its allies. The Trump administration confirmed this week that it will impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from the European Union, Canada and Mexico. The measures were announced earlier in the year, but the United States’ neighbors and the E.U. — all vital diplomatic partners — had been granted temporary waivers as negotiators sought a compromise that would reduce import levels and allay the White House’s grievances over trade deficits.

Amid swirling charges and counter-charges, the Hewitt City Council last month voted to hire a Fort Worth law firm to investigate complaints that some city employees have made against Mayor Ed Passalugo, whom they contend has created a “hostile work environment.” But is this really so? Or is this the price of being a vigilant public servant? Citizens are certainly justified in asking: How did Hewitt get where we are now?

If you’re reading this column in Waco, the odds are very good that you wish to take some action to combat anthropogenic climate change. I make this bold assertion because of the results of a recent Yale University poll: 54 percent of McLennan County residents believe that global warming is already harming U.S. citizens, while 64 percent believe that future generations will be harmed.

On its surface, the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Epic Systems v. Lewis, handed down last week, looks like a significant defeat for workers. In ruling that companies can require employees to resolve contract disputes through arbitration, rather than class-action lawsuits, the high court limited the ability of workers to band together in court to pursue overtime and other statutory claims. Yet the Epic Systems ruling may well prove beneficial to workers, a qualified blessing in disguise.

Hopefully, veterans spent part of the long Memorial Day weekend reflecting on the ultimate sacrifice made by fellow service members killed on the battlefield protecting our freedoms and way of life. For this, I am forever grateful. To fully grasp the significance of that solemn duty, we must understand that no one joined the military to die. For some, it was patriotic duty. For some, it was a family tradition, a heritage of serving. For some, it was the law by virtue of the draft.

For those of us who pass by it in the months and years to come, the abandoned, 14-acre Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center campus in North Waco will stand as an enduring monument to cheap talk by state leaders when it comes to mental health. Every time a tragedy erupts involving someone who obviously has mental-health issues — mass shootings are common examples these days — a hue and cry goes up among lawmakers that government and society must aggressively expand access to improved mental-health treatment. And some of us take them seriously.

June is high season for weddings and Supreme Court opinions. The former are invariably memorable for a lifetime, whereas the latter may quickly be consigned to perpetual obscurity. This term’s blockbuster decision about wedding celebrations — vindicating the claim of Jack Phillips, the Colorado-based wedding cake artist — is now being dismissed in various quarters as a jurisprudential nothing-burger. All the Colorado Civil Rights Commission needed to do, it is said, was be nicer and more civil in rendering its “thou must serve all customers” mandate. By in effect vehemently condemning Phillips’ faith journey, the court concluded, the state agency had transgressed the bounds of tolerant discourse in a pluralistic society.

Republican leaders seem to be looking the other way as children are separated from their asylum-seeking parents at the U.S.-Mexico border — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Vice President Mike Pence and, till recently, House Speaker Paul Ryan, all of whom boldly declare their allegiance to President Donald Trump’s immigration reforms and to cracking down on those crossing our borders illegally.

Flashback

What were we talking about one year ago? Take a look back.

For more than 20 years I have been an advocate for small businesses through my appointments to statewide committees with the Texas Association of Business, National Federation of Independent Business and the Texas Small Business Advisory Council. As a seven-term legislator, I’ve taken that advocacy to the Texas Capitol, having served on the Economic & Small Business Development committees and as vice chairman of both the House committees on Agriculture and Livestock and Energy Resources, as well as chairman of the Texas Legislative Rural Caucus.

President Richard Nixon, the quintessential Cold Warrior, could pull off an opening to China because his anti-communist credentials were never in doubt. President Donald Trump, the quintessential anti-immigrant xenophobe who called Mexicans “murderers,” exploited victims of crimes allegedly committed by illegal immigrants and vowed to enact mass deportation, could be the one to bury the anti-immigrant right’s agenda and its incessant crusade against “amnesty,” which amounts to any immigration stance that does not result in deportation of 11 million to 12 million people.