When Congress heads out on summer vacation and the typically-frenetic news cycle is barely chugging along, it's hard to keep tabs on some of the biggest political issues, like immigration, health care, and the environment. With so few new developments, can you blame us? It's especially difficult with the sequester, which was flying under the radar even before our representatives went on break. The $1 trillion automatic spending cuts, which began on March 1, have slowly chipped away at government programs in ways that may seem invisible to many people.
Today, a federal judge ruled that the New York City Police Department's (NYPD) controversial stop-and-frisk program unconstitutionally targets minorities; hundreds of thousands of people are stopped every year for little or no reason. Being stopped is most certainly what the judge called a "demeaning and humiliating experience," but it is a humiliation from which white New Yorkers have been largely exempt. After millions of stops over the last decade, things are poised to change.
In 1995, Abe Pollin, then-owner of the Washington Bullets, announced that he had become increasingly uncomfortable with the team's name, particularly since Washington, D.C., like many large cities, was beset by gun violence. A contest was held to find a new name, and by 1997 the Bullets had become the Wizards. While some people would like to have kept the old name, the whole process was relatively painless.
Today, another of Washington's sports teams is facing increasing controversy over its name. The main difference is that Dan Snyder, the owner of the Redskins (and someone widely reviled in Washington for a whole host of reasons), is adamant that as long as he owns the team, it will never, ever, ever change its name.
Four years ago, Democratic representatives went home for the August recess and found themselves under assault from angry Tea Partiers, who took over town meetings with shouting and fist-shaking over the Affordable Care Act in particular, and more generally, the theft of their country by the foreign Muslim usurper Barack Obama. This August, however, it's Republicans who are under attack by some of those same people.
Last summer, the slew of wacky sitcom extras known as the GOP presidential slate realized their time was up. By summer, as normal people started going to the pool, Mitt Romney had the spotlight to himself and the other could-have-beens began fading into the background.