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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?

Shrinking hopes

Joseph Napolitan, who essentially created the profession of campaign consultant and who passed away this past December, was a wise man. He used to tell Democratic candidates and officeholders he counseled “to never underestimate the intelligence of the voters, nor overestimate the amount of knowledge at their disposal.” His point was that it was the candidate’s and the campaign’s responsibility to inform and educate voters and that if by election day, “the voters still do not understand what the candidate is trying to tell them, then it is the candidate’s fault — not the voters.’ ” That is as true today as it was when Napolitan wrote it more than 50 years ago.

Jobs and skills and zombies

A few months ago, Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, and Marlene Seltzer, the chief executive of Jobs for the Future, published an article in Politico titled “Closing the Skills Gap.” They began portentously: “Today, nearly 11 million Americans are unemployed. Yet, at the same time, 4 million jobs sit unfilled” — supposedly demonstrating “the gulf between the skills job seekers currently have and the skills employers need.”

In contraception challenge, are employees people? Or just bosses?

A year ago, for the fifth straight year, Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. raised wages for its full-time hourly employees. They’re now paid $14 an hour. The hourly wage for part-time employees was increased to $9.50, but David Green, the Oklahoma City-based arts-and-crafts chain’s founder and CEO, has said the “lion’s share” of his nearly 18,000 employees work full time.