They have rejected Biden’s plan to forgive some student loan debt, saying that he exceeded his authority.

I have mixed feelings about this one.

I think Biden did exceed his authority. One man should not, with a stroke of the pen, be able to throw away hundreds of billions of dollars owed to the government of the USA. That should be the job of Congress. Biden’s claim to that authority was based on an overly broad interpretation of the HEROES Act.

Moreover, he made an end-run around the Constitution. Both houses of Congress voted to cancel Biden’s decision, but he had the power to veto their decision. Nevertheless, it is clear that Congress does not approve that forgiveness, and it should be their decision. Using this process, the President could declare any executive action he cared to, and no action of Congress could prevent him from doing so as long as he had enough votes in either house of Congress to avoid an override of his veto. This would mean that American policy would be made by a third of one house of Congress (plus one vote), since it takes 2/3 of both houses to override a veto. This is not the way laws should be made, and only the Supreme Court has the authority to settle that question, as they did.

To illustrate: If Trump regains power, he might declare an end to Obamacare by executive action. Congress would likely bristle at this blatant usurpation of their authority, and reinstate it, but Trump would veto, and would need only 146 members of the House on his side to win the day (the House needs a 290-145 vote to override a veto). That would hold true even if his veto were overridden 100-0 in the Senate. As we know from experience, it would not be difficult for Trump to find 146 blind loyalists in the House. The only remedy would be to take the case to court, where the Supremes would rule (I presume) that the president had usurped the authority of Congress, precisely the same ruling they made in this case.

I think the court took a sensible position on the merits of the case.

Standing, on the other hand, is a separate matter. It seems to me that the plantiffs in this case really had no valid standing to sue, which was the (rejected) position of the administration’s lawyers.

I am neither a lawyer nor a constitutional scholar, but it seems to me that both sides had a case for plenty of legal nit-picking.

What about the policy itself? As a taxpayer, I found it ridiculous that a family making $249,000 a year should get relief on $10,000 in debt. Those suckers should have that much in their checking accounts, especially since they have not had to make a debt payment on that loan for the last several years! Perhaps some degree of debt relief is necessary, but if so, this particular scheme didn’t seem to be the solution.

The WAPO featured this headline:

“State affirmative action bans helped White, Asian students, hurt others”

A quick look at the data indicates that the headline should read “State affirmative action bans helped White, Black, Asian students, hurt others.”

The headline does not say that, presumably because it is extremely inconvenient for the liberal narrative to admit that Black students do better in the states that ban affirmative action.

As you can see in WAPO’s own chart (below), the main beneficiaries of AA, by far, are Hispanics, who are brought from significant underrepresentation almost all the way to population parity by Affirmative Action.

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If you want to design a program that benefits Hispanics, there’s a much easier and totally constitutional way: just give admissions preference to any student who is totally fluent in more than one language. If, on the other hand, you want to extend a helping hand to Black students, the great brains at Harvard and elsewhere should be able to create a system that works better than the existing Affirmative Action models, which don’t seem to have worked at all for that purpose.

(Note: black students are still dramatically underrepresented in both groups, with or without AA, when measured as a percent of the population. In other words, even those who actively seek diversity should realize that it was probably time to shelve the existing Affirmative Action programs and replace them with some new schemes. The Supreme Court’s action will apparently have a negative impact on Hispanic students, but not so much for other minorities, who have apparently not been helped significantly by any of the existing admission models, with or without AA.)

I would go even farther than this guy.

Granted, I am a skeptical man, but here’s what I see:

  • Prigozhin challenged Putin with an armed rebellion, but was allowed to re-settle in Belarus, with all charges dropped. (Oh, that Putin – always the forgiving guy!)
  • Prigozhin is going to end up in Belarus, unpunished, not as a lonely exile, but with his mercenary army.
  • The Wagner group potentially could have access to the nuclear weapons that Putin conveniently started moving there last week.
  • It is only about 100 miles from Kyiv to the nearest point in Belarus.

All of the bullet-points above seem to be undisputed facts, yet few people seem to find that concatenation of circumstances to be alarming.

Add one more possibility. Russia and Belarus have been in talks to unite as a single country. Even if that does not happen, Belarus is just a vassal state, so as Putin sees it, Prigozhin is just in another part of his empire.

Some Ukrainians have noticed. One Ukrainian blogger wrote:

There will be a threat from the north. There is no need for “patriotic heroism,” but a sober approach to the current situation is needed. It was too easy for Putin and Prigozhin to reconcile. For Russia, a couple dozen corpses and five downed planes are a trifle when implementing a secret operation to “kindly” transfer Wagner specifically to Belarus. And think about why, under an agreement and “good will,” Prigozhin was sent specifically to Belarus and not to Africa or Syria, where Wagner has existing bases.

Another opined:

Even if there are only 15,000 mercenaries, in order to prevent any provocations on their part, we need to redeploy 5-6 brigades to the North. Under the conditions of the offensive in the South, this is a lot.

“Trump, who first revealed the news earlier Thursday in a post on his Truth Social platform, faces seven counts, according to his lawyer and another source. The charges include false statements, conspiracy to obstruct and a charge related to the Espionage Act, sources said.”

Complete indictment here

Data published by the Pew Research Center in 2019 highlighted how federal prosecutors have a 99.6% conviction rate. This is true because federal prosecutors almost never file charges unless they have the accused dead to rights. That seems to be the case here as well. Given that the former President almost certainly did everything he is accused of, given that there is a mountain of testimony and physical evidence, and given that his own words have exacerbated his problems, his lawyers have a real challenge. What’s the defense? Most federal defendants (nearly 9 out of 10) plead out, but Trump is not one to negotiate a plea deal, so his lawyers will need to concoct some strategy as yet unforeseen.

Since a legal defense has not yet emerged, the Trump loyalists will undoubtedly try to muster a full-throated political defense. Don’t look for any of them to try to prove that Trump is innocent, although they may generalize that “he’s an innocent man” without taking any questions after making such a claim. They know what he did, and they know it was illegal. Instead, they will be screaming about the fact that the charges are politically motivated, and they will be creating a false equivalency to the Pence and Biden documents. Those red herrings will convince many in the general public that Trump is somehow being treated unfairly, but will not help him obtain a “not guilty” verdict. Even if it were true that the investigation was politically motivated, that argument is irrelevant in court, where the issues are (1) “which crimes is he accused of?” and (2) “did he actually commit them?”

The list includes Stephen Colbert, Brad Raffensberger, Letitia James, Morning Joe and Seth Meyers.

Raffensberger and James, in particular, are not involved in foreign policy. To my knowledge, neither of them has made any public statements about Russia, but they are among Trump’s bugbears. Perhaps the most obscure private citizen on the list is the Capitol Police officer who killed one of the January 6th rioters. (Although this man has no connection to Russia in any way, he is the subject of lunatic conspiracy theories among the Trumpies, and has also been singled out by Putin in the past.)

The list is confusingly inconsistent.

  • One of the most baffling omissions is Jimmy Fallon, given that Kimmel, Meyers and Colbert are banned. If Fallon’s writers ever return to work, they should have a lot of fun with this. Conan O’Brien is not on the list either, and he’s just ballsy enough to go to Russia for a comedy special.
  • In another example of inconsistency, the list does not include others perceived by Trump as enemies, like Alvin Bragg.

The list of 500 new names means that there are now 1,344 Americans covered by Russian sanctions. I was kind of heartbroken to see that I did not make the cut.