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Their Views

It’s All About May 25

KIEV, Ukraine — The word “maidan” means “square” in Ukrainian and in Arabic. And the “Independence Maidan” of Kiev, like the “Tahrir Maidan” of Cairo, has been the scene of an awe-inspiring burst of democratic aspirations.

Progress toward colorblind society

The Supreme Court’s ruling Tuesday upholding Michigan’s ban on race-based preferences in state university admissions should send a message to lawmakers in Sacramento seeking to undo California’s Proposition 209, the 1996 voter-approved measure on which the disputed Michigan measure was modeled.

Privacy, please

Scarlett Johansson left nude photos of herself on her computer. A hacker grabbed them and sent them to gossip websites. A Pennsylvania high school issued laptop computers to students and then remotely activated the laptops’ cameras to watch the students when they were away from school. On my computer, a program called Disconnect reveals that my favorite websites spy on me and track what I like to read, what I browse, what I buy.

Dithering on Ukraine

After an agreement to “de-escalate tensions and restore security” in Ukraine was announced Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry was very explicit about U.S. expectations. “We fully expect the Russians … to demonstrate their seriousness by insisting that the pro-Russian separatists who they’ve been supporting lay down their arms [and] leave the buildings” in eastern Ukraine, he said. “I made clear to Foreign Minister [Sergei] Lavrov today that if we are not able to see progress … this weekend, then we will have no choice but to impose further costs on Russia.”

The adolescent president

WASHINGTON — Recently, Barack Obama — a Demosthenes determined to elevate our politics from coarseness to elegance; a Pericles sent to ameliorate our rhetorical impoverishment — spoke at the University of Michigan. He came to that very friendly venue — in 2012, he received 67 percent of the vote in Ann Arbor’s county — after visiting a local sandwich shop, where a muse must have whispered in the presidential ear. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., had recently released his budget, so Obama expressed his disapproval by calling it, for the benefit of his academic audience, a “meanwich” and a “stinkburger.”

An easier Tax Day

Rep. Dave Camp’s pending retirement from Congress may put an end to his long crusade to make common sense of the nation’s tax code, unless someone else takes up the mantle. It would be tragic if the effort is not sustained.

Shrink the feds’ share of the West

For a brief period more than a week ago, American politics seemed to be transported back to the 1990s. The source of the time warp: Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher who was engaged in a tense standoff with officials from the federal Bureau of Land Management.

Regulatory overkill

WASHINGTON — Occasionally, the Supreme Court considers questions that are answered merely by asking them. On Tuesday, the court will hear arguments about this: Should a government agency, whose members are chosen by elected officials, be empowered to fine or imprison any candidate or other participant in the political process who, during a campaign, makes what the agency considers “false statements” about a member of the political class or a ballot initiative?

High Court ruling a win for free speech

Depending on who you listen to, the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 McCutcheon v. FEC decision on campaign finance laws is either a resounding victory for free speech or the end of democracy as we know it. The truth is probably somewhere in between, though we think it is much closer to the former.

Keeping the terrorists out

Factions among and within the right and left disagree about immigration, but nearly all Americans can agree that foreign terrorist shouldn’t step foot on our shores. Thanks to Rep. Doug Lamborn and Sen. Ted Cruz, Iran won’t be shipping a former hostage taker to the United States to serve as that country’s ambassador to the United Nations.

A counter for hysterics in Michigan

DETROIT — Robert Griffin, now 90, who rose to be second in the Republican U.S. Senate leadership, was defeated in 1978. Since then, only one Michigan Republican, Spencer Abraham in 1994, has been elected to the Senate and for only one term. Evidence former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land might end this GOP drought is that Democrats are attacking her for opposing “preventive health care.”

Data release welcomed

Federal officials released a huge trove of data Wednesday that shows what Medicare paid to more than 880,000 doctors and other health care providers nationwide. There were some eye-popping stats: