Opinion: Democrats May Be Too Optimistic About 2018 Gains

The redrawn congressional districts in North Carolina turned out to be too racially driven for a Supreme Court dominated by conservatives — with Justice Clarence Thomas siding with the majority.

Who’d have thought it?

But the fact that it’s arguably a toss-up, in some judges’ reasoning, how much the Republicans in the state legislature used race or pure partisan advantage while doing their dirty work highlights how difficult it will be for Democrats to retake the majority in the House — Trumpian scandals and a proposed budget that hurts many in the GOP base notwithstanding.

Opinion: Trump Policies on Voting and Criminal Justice Quietly Move Country Backward

While the Trump administration is in a state of perpetual turmoil, some of its promised policies are proceeding as planned. Support from a Republican Congress is softening with each cringe-worthy headline about slips, leaks and feuds; still, its members, mindful of the president’s loyal base, are proceeding with caution.

And when you step back from the chaos, don’t expect to see any progress on other issues — such as voting rights and criminal justice reform — that once promised a bit of bipartisan cooperation.

 

Opinion: Trump’s Reruns — ‘Slippery Ethics, Harsh Pronouncements and Shiny Gilt’

Is everyone exhausted yet?

The one thing America could count on was that Trump, as promised, would put on a surprising show. But not even four months into the Trump presidency, the one surprise is how depressingly familiar the playbook has become. The hopes and dreams that candidate Trump promised to fulfill? Hold off on those.

 

Opinion: It’s Huge — Few Presidents Have Praised Authoritarians as Much as Trump

So what does a criminal look like, exactly? On the campaign trail, Donald Trump featured the moving stories of the grieving relatives of those who had been killed by criminals who were in the U.S. illegally. In a promise kept, the Department of Homeland Security has introduced the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office, or VOICE, housed within Immigration and Customs Enforcement. DHS Secretary John Kelly said: “They are casualties of crimes that should never have taken place — because the people who victimized them often times should never have been in the country.”

Opinion: The Obama Effect — Pros and Cons for Republicans and Democrats

Barack Obama, the charismatic former president, can cause a scene just by walking into a coffee shop, as the rapturous crowds in usually blase New York City demonstrated at one of his cameos. So as he gently re-entered the public and policy eye this week, it’s no surprise that he could throw both Democrats and Republicans off balance — though of course for very different reasons.

 

Opinion: Weighing the Costs of War and Diplomacy

John F. Kelly is getting a lot of criticism these days, and that’s understandable. As leader of the Department of Homeland Security, the retired Marine general now has to be more sensitive to the politics of any given situation.

So when he publicly said critics of his agency’s policies — whether they come from Congress, civil rights groups or the public — should “shut up,” he came off as what he once was, a military man giving orders. When the administration, Kelly’s department in particular, is challenged on its travel bans and inconsistent immigration enforcement, Kelly could do more listening and learning

But as America’s foreign policy and national security efforts become increasingly muscular and aggressive, there is some comfort in his presence among the rest of the men — and they are mostly men — advising President Trump and the members of Congress with power to approve or restrict military action and to balance the money spent on military and diplomatic efforts. Kelly is a member of that club no one wants to belong to — he lost his son in action — and he has another child in service.

Opinion: In North Carolina, the Good and Not-So-Good News

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s North Carolina, so, of course, the good news is followed by that pesky dark cloud every time.

You would think everyone in the state would welcome the end of the long saga over House Bill 2, the so-called bathroom bill, which was repealed recently in a compromise. That bill, which had compelled people to use the bathroom that corresponded to the gender on their birth certificates, also said cities could not follow Charlotte’s lead and enact their own anti-discrimination ordinances or a minimum wage and much more.

 

Jeff Sessions-Style Policing Makes Everyone Less Safe

The Trump administration is most comfortable with power and the powerful.

On the world stage, this attitude has taken the form of a relationship with Russia’s Vladimir Putin that is cozier than ones with traditional allies such as Germany’s Angela Merkel. That sentiment trickles down within America’s borders, as well, to Trump’s words on policing, where for the self-proclaimed “law and order” president, force wins out over conciliatory tactics every time — including in his own “get ’em out of here” rally cries that have resulted in his own legal headaches.

It’s no surprise, then, that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is following the Trump lead.

 

Opinion: Not So Fast, Democrats. You Had a Good Day, but Now What?

As the Republican Party has learned, it’s much easier to be the party of “no” than to actually have a plan to lead. So while Democrats are celebrating a GOP in disarray, the party out of power needs a message and a plan.

Understandably, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosicelebrated as the GOP’s new-and-improved health care plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act failed. But long term, she must truly want to experience a return to the speaker’s post. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer knows just how to rile Donald Trump, his fellow New Yorker. But he still has to call Trump Mr. President.

So what happens the morning after the party, when all that remains are empty champagne bottles and a headache? f

Opinion: Art as Soul Food – A Tough Yet Essential Case to Make

… when most people think arts and humanities, it usually conjures something a little snooty, out of reach and not at all essential. Cue video of the Broadway “Hamilton” cast, with the approval of audience members who have paid hundreds of dollars for a ticket, lecturing Vice President Mike Pence, and it certainly confirms a stereotype.

Truly, though, as someone who has sat in those orchestra seats — and that’s a show that needs no help surviving — the road there was paved with more than a few federal dollars.