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318 posts
  • Trump
  • Opinion
Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions rescinded several Obama-era "guidance documents," including several dealing with race and education.
Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions rescinded several Obama-era "guidance documents," including several dealing with race and education. (John Gibbins / San Diego Union-Tribune)

On Tuesday, the Trump administration rescinded Obama-era guidance to school districts and colleges and universities about how they could take race into account. Was this a rollback of affirmative action?

Yes and no, but mostly no. The administration’s withdrawal of these documents, joint products of the departments of Education and Justice, doesn’t alter civil rights law nor does it repeal the Supreme Court decisions the Obama documents cited to justify some consideration of race in college admissions and pupil assignments in public schools.

At the same time, rescinding these documents sends a clear message that this administration frowns on policies that take race into account even when they are deemed legal under Supreme Court rulings.

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  • Opinion
  • Guns and Ammo
  • We're All Doomed
The U.S. surpassed 29,000 shootings so far this year.
The U.S. surpassed 29,000 shootings so far this year. (Jason Connolly / Getty Images)

This is kind of like watching the odometer in your car as it climbs. On Monday, the running count of shootings kept by the Gun Violence Archive surpassed 29,000 incidents so far this year.

As of Tuesday morning, the count stood at 29,012, including 7,258 deaths and 13,753 injuries. Of the dead, 330 were children. (There were 61,770 incidents in all of last year.)

But hey, 2nd Amendment.

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  • Opinion
  • #MeToo
 Harvey Weinstein is led out of a New York police station in handcuffs on May 25.
Harvey Weinstein is led out of a New York police station in handcuffs on May 25. (Spencer Platt)

It’s hard to think of anyone who plummeted from power faster and further than Harvey Weinstein. And with the announcement Monday that a Manhattan grand jury had updated its indictment from May against Weinstein with three more charges, the onetime Hollywood overlord turned ankle-monitored outcast now faces not just the possibility of lifetime banishment from Hollywood but possible lifetime imprisonment as well.  

Weinstein was initially charged with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another. He pleaded not guilty. Now he’s been hit with new assault charges for allegedly forcing a third woman to have sex with him. The three additional charges carry a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life.

Since last fall, dozens of women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct and assault, leading to his downfall and his perp walk into a New York City police station and giving rise to the #MeToo movement and the unprecedented raising of consciousness about the unacceptability of sexual harassment.

  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
Justice Sonia Sotomayor denounced the majority opinion upholding President Trump's travel ban.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor denounced the majority opinion upholding President Trump's travel ban.

When the Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s so-called travel ban last week, Justice Sonia Sotomayor offered a passionate dissent from the bench. She accused the 5-4 majority of "turning a blind eye to the pain and suffering the [ban] inflicts upon countless families and individuals, many of whom are United States citizens."

It was a dramatic moment, but the American people didn’t get to see and hear it. The court bars television cameras not only from oral arguments but also from the supposedly public announcements in which justices summarize their opinions.

It doesn’t look as if that is going to change anytime soon. Three days after he announced the travel-ban decision,  Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was scotching the ideas of cameras in the court.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
U.S. tariffs on imported steel, such as that from Stelco in Hamilton, Ontario, led Canada to slap levies on $12.6 billion in U.S. goods.
U.S. tariffs on imported steel, such as that from Stelco in Hamilton, Ontario, led Canada to slap levies on $12.6 billion in U.S. goods. (Peter Power/The Canadian Press via AP)

A noxious legislative proposal leaked out of the White House over the weekend, and for once the name matched the stink the bill would raise: the U.S. Fair and Reciprocal Tariff Act, or less delicately, the U.S. FART Act.

Axios reported Sunday that it had obtained a copy of the five-page draft bill, which would empower the president to raise tariffs unilaterally on any country that imposes “significantly” higher tariffs or other barriers to U.S. goods than the United States imposes on its goods. The measure would violate key World Trade Organization rules that the United States has committed to — and that Trump has disparaged as bad for Americans.

The irony here is that the WTO was created to resolve the sort of dispute that Trump would rather settle with tariffs — a tax on imports that raises the price of goods here in the United States and that encourages retaliation by foreign companies on exported U.S. products.

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  • Opinion
  • The Golden State
 
  (David Liam Kyle / Getty Images)

LeBron James is coming to Los Angeles. For the next three years at least, the greatest basketball player in the world will be playing for the Lakers.

But while we’re all still celebrating the purple and gold’s impending return to basketball relevance, here’s a fun fact I’d like to remind my fellow Angelenos: Our new basketball savior doesn’t like to drive.

Not only does he not like to drive, LeBron James is a cyclist. It’s his preferred method of transit. He’s been known to ride his bike to and from games. He holds annual “bike-a-thon” charity events in home state of Ohio. He bought a stake in the bike company Cannondale. He’s even got the spandex.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
Sen Bob Casey (D-Pa.) is among Senate Democrats calling for a delay in confirmatrion hearings for the next Supreme Court nominee.
Sen Bob Casey (D-Pa.) is among Senate Democrats calling for a delay in confirmatrion hearings for the next Supreme Court nominee. (Andrew Harnik / AP)

It’s easy to see why Senate Democrats feel frustrated about the prospect of President Trump filling a second vacancy on the Supreme Court now that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy has retired. (Trump said Friday that he will announce his choice on July 9.)

Still fuming — and rightly so — about the way Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made it possible for Trump to appoint Neil Gorsuch to the court, the Democrats are arguing for  delaying consideration of a second Trump nominee until after the midterm elections.  

Their hope is that Democrats will regain control of the Senate in November and thus deny an unacceptable Trump nominee the votes necessary for confirmation. (And it’s pretty clear that a lot of Democrats will consider any Trump nominee unacceptable.)

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
Seema Verma, a top Trump administration health official, has led the push to add work requirements to Medicaid.
Seema Verma, a top Trump administration health official, has led the push to add work requirements to Medicaid. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Call it situational principles about the separation of powers.

Republicans complained bitterly about the Obama administration effectively rewriting federal laws through regulation and enforcement decisions — and they were occasionally right about that (see, e.g., the decision to flat-out ignore the statutory deadlines for the requirement that larger employers offer health insurance to their full-time workers). But they have cheered on the Trump administration’s efforts to do the same in multiple arenas (see, e.g., just about everything the Environmental Protection Agency has been doing).

That’s left the courts to rein in the administration, and a federal judge in Washington did so in the nick of time Friday. Vox reported that U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg blocked an administration-approved plan by the state of Kentucky to require Medicaid recipients to work or participate in training programs in order to remain insured.

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • The Swamp
Fifty people from more than 20 countries took the oath of citizenship in Oxford, Miss.
Fifty people from more than 20 countries took the oath of citizenship in Oxford, Miss. (Bruce Newman / Oxford Eagle via AP)

One of the defining aspects of the Trump administration — beyond chaos and confusion, insults and petulance — is the relentless attacks on foreigners and immigrants. The administration has capped refugee resettlement for this year at 45,000, one of the lowest levels since 1980, and has endorsed legislation that would cut legal immigration to 40% of current levels while ending the decades-old policy of focusing immigration on family reunification.

He also has tried to end protected status for 690,000 “Dreamers” — people who have lived here without permission since arriving in the country as children — and lifted protections for 310,000 people stranded in the U.S. by disasters and turmoil in their home countries.

  • Opinion
  • Guns and Ammo
The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., published on Friday, a day after a gunman killed five people in the paper’s newsroom.
The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., published on Friday, a day after a gunman killed five people in the paper’s newsroom. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

An attack on a newspaper is the same as an attack on the Constitution, on the nation’s earliest face of the 1st Amendment.

Thursday’s murders at the local newspaper in Annapolis, Md., were allegedly committed by a man who police say staged “a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette.”

The targeted killing of journalists is something we think of as happening elsewhere — in Mexico, where journalists are gunned down by drug lords and their cronies; in Russia, where journalist critics of Vladimir Putin turn up dead; in Syria and Afghanistan; in France, where Islamic State supporters massacred Charlie Hebdo magazine journalists.