WASHINGTON — Watching the Democratic presidential debate Thursday night left one clear impression: Donald Trump won.

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WASHINGTON — I want to hear the Democratic presidential candidates explain, convincingly, how they're going to beat Donald Trump. Then I want to hear how they propose to repair the devastating damage Trump has done to all three branches of government — and to our trust in our institutions.

A wave of protests is roiling Moscow. Millions of people, young and old, have been crowding the streets in Hong Kong. In Britain, members of the Conservative Party took to open revolt over Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s move to sideline Parliament on Brexit.

HONG KONG — Physically diminutive, intellectually acerbic and with an eye for the ironic, Margaret Ng — lawyer, writer and former legislator — is, at 71, a member of the generation for which this city's youthful protesters have scant patience. They say the elders have been too patient about …

WASHINGTON — House Democrats can't have it both ways. Either they're impeaching President Trump or they're not — and it looks like they're not.

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Once upon a time, Mark Sanford might have been a contender, but there's too much water under the bridges that stretch from this city of steeples to his erstwhile home on Sullivan's Island.

HONG KONG —The masked men who recently tossed firebombs at Jimmy Lai's home targeted one of this city's foremost democracy advocates. Lai, a 71-year-old media billionaire, calls this summer's ongoing protest "a martyrdom movement" and "a last-straw movement."

Political tribalism keeps getting worse. The demand for unthinking and uncompromising loyalty keeps getting louder. Individuals or institutions that try to maintain a sense of fairness and balance, that don't want to choose sides in our Uncivil War, are branded as weak-kneed, faint-hearted h…

WASHINGTON — This doesn't qualify as earth-shattering news at this point, but President Trump showed us again this week how spectacularly ignorant, vainglorious and obsessive he can be. This time, he did it with a clumsily doctored map.

Anybody who writes opinion columns needs to grow a thick skin. As a native of New Jersey, aka "The Insult State," I come by mine naturally. Personal invective there is an art form. If being called bad names made you cry, you couldn't drive to the grocery store without your mommy.

Some scandals reported as shocking are shocking for reasons other than those implied in the coverage. One would be the online scam that bilked millions from businesses, the elderly and women looking for romance.

WASHINGTON — Richard Stengel, a former Time editor who became the State Department's undersecretary for public diplomacy, writes that he was once an information "idealist." He believed that in the marketplace of ideas, the truth would ultimately prevail. Not anymore.

President Donald Trump, who canceled a missile strike on Iran, after the shoot-down of a U.S. Predator drone, to avoid killing Iranians, may not want a U.S. war with Iran. But the same cannot be said of Bibi Netanyahu.

WASHINGTON — A question for this moment: If the Earth's lungs were on fire and the doctor refused to treat it, would there be cause for a third-party intervention?

Sometimes, you wonder if the world is doomed to descend into autocracy. Certainly, that’s what the coverage of the past few years suggests. We read about the nations that are already there, like China and Russia, of course, and Saudi Arabia and Iran. Or about countries like Hungary, Turkey, …

Some days I wonder if American democracy can survive the 2020 presidential campaign. Other times, I pray that The Mooch is right: that facing defeat, Donald J. Trump will contrive an excuse not to run for a second term.

Andrew Luck, the superstar quarterback who just quit professional football at the tender age of 29, has received mixed reviews from the sports world. Colts fans booed him. And any number of sports writers see his decision to get out of football to avoid more injuries as tragedy combined with…

WASHINGTON — Let us now praise an insufficiently famous man, Nevada's Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, who in May gave his party's presidential aspirants a much-needed example of prudence. With the national media mesmerized by those aspirants' festival of pandering, scant attention was given t…

WASHINGTON — Is it my imagination, or is President Trump's chronic and debilitating case of Obama Envy getting worse?

WASHINGTON — It is grotesquely fascinating to see Donald Trump's apologists try to explain his most lunatic ideas and claims. It is a bit like watching someone choke down a sheep's eye on a bet, then declare it fine dining. (Note to animal rights activists: This is a simile, not a recommendation.)

To those of us of who learned our U.S. history from texts in the 1940s and '50s, President Donald Trump's brainstorm of acquiring Greenland fits into a venerable tradition of American expansionism.

President Trump knows his re-election depends heavily on a healthy economy. At a recent New Hampshire rally, he warned supporters that markets would crash and their savings would go "down the tubes" if he failed to win a second term. "You have no choice but to vote for me," he thundered.

WASHINGTON — In a trade war, as in a real one, people are wounded by friendly fire from their side. Consider some casualties in Donald Trump's "easy to win" — his promise — trade war. Begin with the company whose green machines bear the name of the blacksmith who, in the 1830s in Grand Detou…

WASHINGTON — The flood of bizarre pronouncements and behavior from President Trump is likely to get worse, I fear. He is now completely unfiltered — and, apparently, increasingly untethered to reality.

For millennia, war was how you did economic development. Today, economic and technical dominance are how you do war, and right now we’re losing something akin to a modern “war” with China.

I have this odd, puritanical quirk. I don't think people should run for president by pitching racially inflammatory fables to voters. Republicans or Democrats.

Democrats running for president are vowing to bring high-speed internet to rural America. President Donald Trump campaigned on the same promise. It was to be part of his big infrastructure plan. But no, there will be no big infrastructure plan.

WASHINGTON — Because of the investigation led by three University of South Florida researchers, and because of exemplary journalism by the Tampa Bay Times, we now have an intensely discomforting but welcome enrichment of American literature.

Rampell: ‘Conspiracy’ against Trump's economy is massive. When Barack Obama was president and the economic statistics were good, then-candidate Donald Trump said they were fake. When Trump became president and inherited the exact same stats, they suddenly became real. Now that they're turning south, they're apparently fake once more. Trump, aided by his economic brain trust of cranks and sycophants, believes any indicator showing the U.S. economy could be in trouble must be fabricated. It's all part of an anti-Trump conspiracy, he rants, according to reports in The Washington Post, the Associated Press and The New York Times. And move over, Illuminati, because this particular conspiracy is massive. It's led by the Federal Reserve, Democrats and the media, of course, or so say Trump and his Fox News minions. But it also includes the entire U.S. bond market, which flashed a warning sign last week when the Treasury yield curve inverted (meaning long-term bonds had lower interest rates than short-term ones, which usually predates a downturn). Also colluding are the many farmers, retailers, manufacturers and economists who have been warning for more than a year that the burden of Trump's tariffs is mainly borne by Americans, not China or other trading partners, and also that uncertainty over trade tensions can paralyze hiring, investment and purchasing decisions, which we need to keep the economy expanding. The cabal even transcends borders. Besides Trump's trade wars, after all, the main risk to the U.S. economy involves contagion from abroad. And right now, nine major economies are either in a recession or on the verge of one. The White House has reportedly declined to develop contingency plans for a downturn because it doesn't want to validate this "negative narrative." This is, in a word, idiotic. As others have analogized, it's like refusing to buy a fire extinguisher because you're afraid of feeding a "negative narrative" that you might someday face a fire. Administration officials decided the best way to deal with recession risk, which they of course aren't personally worried about, was through a show of force on TV. There, Trump's economic advisers assured Americans they definitely, certainly, cross-their-hearts-and-hope-to-die don't see reason to worry. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro's strategy was to deny that the data show Americans are paying higher prices on tariffed goods (though we are) and also that the yield curve had recently inverted (though it did). On that latter point, Navarro said the curve was merely "flat" and therefore doesn't signal a possible recession. In virtually identical language across interviews, he told audiences that he had authority in this matter because he "didn't write the book on the yield curve," he wrote "several books on the efficacy of the yield curve as a leading economic indicator." What Navarro failed to mention, though, is that these books say that both inverted and "flat" yield curves are usually signs of impending recession. One such book, from 2006, explicitly mocked business leaders for failing to prepare for the 2001 recession because they had ignored "the ominous progression of the yield curve" that began with the curve's flattening. So, yeah, you can add mid-2000s-era Navarro to the list of anti-Trump conspirators, too. Trump's National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow hit the Sunday shows, too. For his part, he bizarrely pretended other troubling economic data (in this case, on consumer sentiment) didn't exist. He also repeatedly told viewers: "Let's not be afraid of optimism." And look, yes, it would be unhelpful for public officials to go on TV and tell everybody to panic, pull their money out of the market and stuff it under their mattresses. The White House obviously wants to project confidence instead. But that confidence is convincing only if it's credible — because, say, the White House has acknowledged how its own trade policies are contributing to recession risk and is committed to reversing them. Or because it has a competent team in place if recession strikes. Neither is true. Instead, Kudlow's call for optimism has a whiff of Peter Pan logic about it: If only we believe in fairies hard enough, we can always save Tinker Bell — even when we're sending her out into a hailstorm. If you believe, clap your hands; don't let Tink die! It's hard to imagine nervous Americans are really this credulous. Then again, perhaps we were never the intended audience for such performances. Sure, maybe White House aides are trying to fool the public into believing recession warning signs don't exist. But maybe they're actually just trying to fool their boss. A frightening conspiracy theory, indeed. Catherine Rampell's email address is crampell@washpost.com

‘Conspiracy’ against Trump's economy is massive.

CHICAGO — The last time I saw Sil Ganzó, she was beaming as she gave a tour of her after-school care facility for newly arrived immigrant and refugee children.

Democracy’s premise is that ordinary citizens can make solid decisions on complex issues. But this basic principle and the structure of laws and practices erected over the centuries to safeguard it are being questioned as rarely before.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It is difficult to discourage and impossible to manage Justin Amash because he, unusual among politicians, does not want much and wants nothing inordinately. He would like to win a sixth term as congressman from this culturally distinctive slice of the Midwest.

I have never been a big fan of Bernie Sanders. His authoritarian tendencies and aggressive attacks on any who would disagree have outweighed the good in him.

This Week's Circulars

Obituaries

of Potomac, passed away Tuesday, September 17, 2019, at Hawthorne Inn, in Danville. Arrangements are pending at Blurton Funeral Home, in Potomac.

Lewis "Nick" Pryor pass-ed away September 16, 2019, at the age of 57. Nick is preceded in death by his parents, Jim and Astrid Pryor, and his brothers, Jimmy and Johnny. Nick is remembered by his daughters, Terri Largent, Leather Birge and Lacey Flowers; 13 grandchildren; nephews, Jacob Pryo…