Below is my column for the BBC on the controversy over President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration. Sixteen states, led by California’s Attorney General, are now suing. Others lawsuits have been filed on behalf of landowners and others. The lawsuits appear to challenge both the basis for an emergency declaration and the funding. I still expect Trump to prevail in the long-run if this goes to the Supreme Court. Ironically, House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff said this weekend that this controversy would be the “test” of his colleagues integrity and principles. Yet, Republicans could easily point out that Schiff never objected or took action when President Barack Obama circumvented Congress, including ordering the payment of potentially billions out of the Treasury after Congress refused to fund part of the Affordable Care Act. He was also silent when Obama not only refused to get authorization for the Libyan War but used undedicated funds to pay for it without an appropriation from Congress.
As this column discusses, there was at one time a much easier way to resolve the most bitter differences among political figures.
Ron Shaich, founder of the Panera line of restaurants, attracted considerable media attention with his announcement that the company would open various pay-what-you-can restaurants in Dearborn, Michigan; Portland, Oregon; Boston, and Chicago. He called it his “test of humanity.” It may actually be a test of economics and the experiment failed. After nine years and huge debt, the restaurants will now close, according to Eater Boston.
Yale is being sued in a class action brought by three female students who allege that fraternities create a hostile environment for women. Anna McNeil, Eliana Singer and Ry Walker object to the parties and atmosphere created by such fraternities. In their filing, they tell the court that “they have been shocked, disappointed, and disturbed by the prominent role that the Fraternities play in the campus social scene.” Many would note that there is not one social scene at Yale and that these students can simply avoid Frat parties and activities. That may be the response of the Court, which could view this as an effort in part to force Yale to curtail parties that these students do not want to attend. The filing objects to the very structure and role of fraternities on campus.
Below is my column in The Hill Newspaper on the long-standing debate over self-identification of race — an issue brought again to the forefront by the Elizabeth Warren controversy. There is a broader issue here that impacts universities and businesses on how race should be confirmed when used professionally or academically or financially. There is an ongoing debate over self-identification of race and whether such questions are simply cultural rather than genetic.
For Warren, the desire to focus on her race announced this weekend may be overshadowed by the other race issue.
The controversy over the past claims of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren being a native American continued this week with a report in the Washington Post. The Post reported that Warren claimed to be an “American Indian” on her Texas bar registration. Warren has denied claiming the status in her legal career despite being listed or referenced as a minority at a couple of law schools. This is a notable incident because it is a claim written in her own handwriting and was entirely unnecessary for registration in Texas.
The Chicago Cubs is starting out 2019 with a win, though removed from the ballpark. The Cubs prevailed in a trademark dispute with Grant DePorter, CEO of Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group, after DePorter sought to claim ownership to “#MagicNumber108.” DePorter sought to cash in with the rest in claiming commonly used phrases so that he could force others to pay him for their use. On this occasion, logic prevailed over greed. The trademark examiner and now the Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeals Board ruled that the hashtag could not be claimed as a mark. So, for all of my fellow Cubs fans, here is to #MagicNumber108.
We previously discussed the move by some students to drop the long-standing name “Colonials” for George Washington University. The moniker has been associated with GWU for roughly a 100 years. However, this week a panel at GW will discuss the concerns over the use of the name and the possible need to adopt an alternative nickname, including one based on the hippo mascot. Before we embrace GW “hippocrites” or some other nickname, I would like to again voice my support for The Colonials.
The American Bar Association has been trying to crack down on schools that allow students to rack up huge debt but show low bar passage or employment rates. At the same time, the ABA has fought for greater diversity in the bar. Those two policies collided this week over a proposal to require at least 75 percent of law students at accredited schools to pass the bar exam no later than two years after their graduations. That would seem a modest and reasonable condition. However, the proposal was rejected because it was viewed as ‘unfair to institutions that serve minority students,” according to Inside Higher Education.
In what many view as a hilarious example of affected celebrity styling, Ariana Grande showed fans a new tattoo in Japanese Kanji writing that she said meant “7 Rings.” In reality, a missing character left a tattoo reading “BBQ Grill.” Some however did not miss the opportunity to be outraged and have claimed that any Kanji writing is cultural appropriation.
Saudi Arabia is full of contradictions as a nation imposing medieval Islamic laws while striving to portray itself as a modern country. We have routinely discussed the incredible bravery of women in the Kingdom who have risked everything to demand the most minimal rights of human beings from freedom of speech to freedom of travel to associational rights. One of these heroes is Saudi activist Loujain Alhathloulwho remains incarcerated and is being reportedly tortured for her advocacy of equal rights. For all of the women being abused in the Kingdom, many objected to Maria Carey holding a concert when this repression continues. Carey, who loves to sing about that “hero inside you,” took the money and will be holding the concert today. It appears that Carey’s commitment to women does not extend as far as turning down one concert from her already burgeoning fortune.
As many on the blog are aware, I am a fiscal conservative and social liberal (the profile of many a libertarian). I have previously railed against our soaring debt and the continued inability of our presidents and members of Congress to exercise a modicum of fiscal responsibility. This is a new low with the Treasury Department taking on $1trillion in more debt — for a second year in a row. We are saddling our children with this crippling level of debt to avoid our politicians to escape their responsibility to make tough decisions. With the start of the 2020 presidential election, politicians are lining up with expansive new spending proposals to entice supporters as our government plunges deeper into debt.
Months ago, I wrote about how Special Counsel Robert Mueller was clearly gunning for Stone with an increasing intensity (here and here and here). Stone was arrested early Friday morning in another signature raid on his home by the FBI. Once again, as with the treatment of Paul Manafort, it is unclear why prosecutors wanted to have a night raid on his home (captured by awaiting media) for non-violent crimes. It was entirely unnecessary in my view. The criminal counts themselves are additional counts of false statements and witness tampering. These type of process crimes are the majority of charged conduct against non-Russians in the investigation other than the unrelated crimes against figures like Manafort.
We previously discussed the plight of a young teenage girl who fought for asylum rather than return to the medieval laws of Saudi Arabia where women must live without equal rights or opportunities. The case for asylum of woman from our “close ally” is strong given the violence meted out to women who seek to express their own views or pick their own future, let alone their own religion. The stark choice for women was tragically evident this week when a medical examiner confirmed that two young sisters chose to die together rather than return to Saudi Arabia. Tala Farea, 16, and Rotana Farea, 22, reportedly wanted asylum but when their credit card ran out of money, they bound themselves together and threw themselves into the Hudson River, according to chief Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson as said in an official statement.