I am experiencing considerable inner turmoil at the spectacle of President Trump’s indictment, as well as at the almost animalistic glee that this spectacle has triggered in the solid bloc of Democrats that currently surrounds me.
I am extraordinarily sad — at the thickheaded ignorance of history that those who are celebrating tonight, reveal; and at what has become of our country.
Don’t people understand — much as they may hate this fellow — that this is exactly what coup leaders in every banana republic, do? Seek to imprison their political opponents?
Especially while the political opponents are on the campaign trail?
Another reason for my discomfort and misery is that I have a guilty conscience, because of what I experienced two decades ago and what I know — things that not that many people have experienced or know, and things that seem to be generally forgotten. These memories bear directly on current events…
I am having relentless flashbacks to where I was and what I was doing in late 2000, when I was a consultant for Vice President Gore’s campaign for the Presidency.
As I’ve written elsewhere — and as I am trying desperately to remind everyone who will now listen, on every podcast that will have me — I was advising from a distance, and looped in, intermittently, to discussions within the campaign that were both public and private, about exactly the same issues that are now apparently criminal offenses even to entertain, let alone to mention in actual words.
So were almost all of the lawyers, campaign consultants, advisors and staffers of Gore 2000. So was the candidate himself, visibly.
“I have given Mr. Weiss full power and authority to investigate Hunter Biden and the Biden family. We must conduct a thorough investigation so we can know which crimes to sweep under the rug,” said Garland.
Plans to slow walk the investigation past all statutes of limitation have been revised to take advantage of expanded power to hide evidence from Congress.
That special counsel, who is in charge of those prosecutors, is David Weiss. Appointed US attorney for the District of Delaware by Donald Trump. Trump said Weiss shared his vision for ‘Making America Safe Again.’
Weiss has been at least nominally in charge of the Hunter Biden investigation (admitted tax evasion, proven gun crimes, probable Foreign Agents Registration Act violations) since 2018. It’s logical for AG Merrick Garland to continue Weiss’ oversight of the investigation. Whether that serves Justice is a separate question.
In a March Senate committee hearing Merrick Garland insisted that he would not interfere with the investigation. Weiss, he said, had “full authority” to carry out the investigation and choose the jurisdiction if necessary. Weiss was “not to be denied anything that he needs.” Whether this turned out to be true is disputed.
Weiss is the same prosecutor who approved Hunter Biden’s plea deal – which constituted a gentle touch on the wrist (no slapping, absolutely no jail time) for crimes for which offspring not related to Joe Biden have received years long sentences. But, that’s only two of the three parts of the investigation for which Weiss was responsible.
His prosecutors tried to hide the FARA related parts (still under investigation, they say) of the plea agreement. The judge wasn’t fooled. When she challenged the buried and sweeping future immunity for FARA crimes (broadly, arranging favors for foreigners without registering as a lobbyist), Hunter’s lawyers withdrew from the plea deal. The Feds are now simply admitting the deal is kaput.
It must be getting serious if Garland is citing Departmental Rules. He’s a master of ignoring them. And the announcement wasn’t held for a Friday night information dump.
Among the most guileful, if transparently self-serving, arguments I’ve heard in favor of spreading student debt to every taxpayer – from a youngster whose degree was fully financed by parents – is that wiping the student slate clean would benefit everyone because of the important contributions student debt ‘victims’ could make if they no longer had to worry about the burden of holding up their end of freely signed contracts.
Freedom from the indentured servitude they accepted would enable them to more quickly apply their elite credentials and superior expertise, contributing to the welfare of society. Translated, this means they can get on with their lives: Borrow money to start a business, buy a house, start a family, afford a planet saving electric car, contribute to the most enlightened charities, vote for more spending… The simplest formulation is, “If we get to be looters, we will become better makers quicker than anyone else. And everyone gets a share!” (Apologies to Milo Minderbinder.)
I do not know how Equity of the implied redistribution is assured, and I assume Equity is very important. Maybe a new Federal Department?
This same ingenue has been heard to argue that we needn’t worry about government spending in any case, because we are on the brink of marvelous technological advances which make the at least half trillion dollar cost of spreading student debt to everyone else look like spare change.
This explosive growth of wealth theory is interesting enough for another long post, but I do have some questions to mention here.
In the context of the student loan pillaging, the minimum increase in general wealth would have to be substantially more than half a trillion. For example, we need to account for all the small businesses that wouldn’t be started because some taxpayers won’t be able to afford it; or a down payment on a house. Etc..
So, if the starting point is north of half a trillion dollars, what is the limit to spending we should consider? Is there any? Are we into full MMT? How much debt will be erased by this unprecedented expansion of wealth?
It seems to me we should minimally aspire to eliminating the national debt, and establishing true trust funds for social entitlement programs. Including a contingency fund for things like reparations. Again, what’s the limit on current spending if we assume such miraculous future growth?
This news is so good, and so imminent (arguably it must occur withing the span of a single generation) that I have to wonder why we just don’t wait for it to happen. And THEN pay off the student loans. Or, better, let the people who incurred the debt pay it off with their new found wealth.
OK. I conflated arguments which appear not strictly meant to be taken together. But there is a direct line between freeing the potential of these embryonic John Galts and economic nirvana. Expecting consistency in such ideas isn’t unreasonable. If we’re going to accept “the elite will contribute more than it costs” argument, it’s fair to ask how much faith we can put in the overall economic acumen of the bright young people who are proposing it. Who are preparing to become stewards of the economy.
The bottom line is that looting of taxpayers on behalf of students will damage the economy. Even if you accept the “benefits everyone” argument, those benefits are not immediate. Let’s just let the people who benefited from the loans they took (because they thought they would benefit financially) pay them off. As a bonus, not paying them off via taxation preemptively reduces the national debt by at least half a trillion dollars.
However, perhaps you find economic arguments insufficient. And you consider the question of fairness to those who responsibly discharged their student debt to be irrelevant… Let’s take a look at legal objections and precedent.
A major argument for proponents is that a Presidential executive order is legal under the 2003 HEROES Act. Randi Winegarten certainly doesn’t see any legal barrier:
If you can take the word of a person responsible for closing classrooms that she’s concerned about “our students” you might consider that what she means by “our” is ownership, not stewardship. She does not mean students under care and protection, she means revenue bots.
The HEROES Act of 2003 was sponsored by Republican John Kline of Minnesota, who had served 25 years as a U.S. Marine. When he introduced the bill in the House of Representatives, he declared that it would help “the troops who protect and defend the United States.”
At that time, many college students and recent grads who were members of the National Guard and Reserves were being deployed to carry out Operation Iraqi Freedom and anti-terror operations in response to the slaughter of 2,977 people on 9/11.
Stating that the bill was “simple in its purpose” and “specific in its intent,” Kline explained that it will “assist students who are being called up to active duty or active service” and those who are impacted by “a war, military contingency operation or a national emergency.” He also emphasized that the bill would do this “without affecting the integrity” of student loan programs.
Demonstrating just how simple and specific the bill was, the official legislative record shows that the House of Representatives passed it by a vote of 421–1 with only “forty minutes of debate.” The Senate then passed it “without amendment by unanimous consent.” If all 100 senators were present, this is a margin of 521 to 1.
The Penn Wharton Budget Model estimates that Biden’s student loan cancellations and payment reductions will cost $605 billion to more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years. This amounts to an average cost of roughly $4,700 to $7,700 for every household in the United States.
The Biden administration claims that the HEROES Acts of 2003 gives them that power, but Congressional records prove just the opposite is true. These include the introduction of the law, the debate of the law, the votes on the law, and the text of the law.
Moreover, the Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed that unless Congress clearly delegates such powers to the president, these types of actions are illegal.
There’s more. Even Nancy Pelosi knew it would be illegal before she stopped knowing it
If the Court cannot stop the president from raiding the Treasury to buy votes and reward friends on the most implausible of legal pretexts, what is it for? A majority of the Court appears to recognize that the HEROES Act does not grant the power in question — a reality that even Nancy Pelosi acknowledged until it became clear that Biden intended to act when he could not get such a plan through Congress.
The statute says that the secretary of education can “waive or modify any statutory or regulatory provision applicable to the student financial assistance programs” when “necessary in connection with a war or other military operation or national emergency.” Chief Justice John Roberts set the tone for the argument by noting that Justice Antonin Scalia once observed that “modified in our view connotes moderate change. He said it might be good English to say that the French Revolution modified the status of the French nobility, but only because there’s a figure of speech called understatement and a literary device known as sarcasm.” Moreover, the chief justice observed that, even if terms such as “waive or modify” could be construed to encompass the outright cancellation of student debt, the Court’s “major question doctrine” requires more — namely, a citation to “clear congressional authorization” of the specific action taken by the administration. No one can plausibly claim that the HEROES Act even anticipated, much less green-lighted, half a trillion dollars in relief to a favored class of debtors without additional congressional input.
The entire idea was a Democrat political ploy prior to the mid-terms.
Biden has justified spending such an incredible amount without first obtaining congressional approval by invoking the HEROES Act, a 9/11-era law designed to allow the federal government to provide student debt relief to soldiers who were forced to withdraw from college to enter active duty. Under the HEROES Act, the Secretary of Education is granted the authority to waive “any statutory or regulatory provision” relating to student loan repayment or assistance programs during a time of “a war or other military operation or national emergency.”
The legal ground justifying Biden’s student loan relief plan has always been shaky—and obviously politically motivated. As higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz told CNBC earlier this month, “If it was an emergency, why wait three years to provide the forgiveness? Why present it in a political framework, as fulfilling a campaign promise?”
Finally, let’s not forget who promoted this problem. Student indebtedness owes most of its problematic nature to debt encouraging Federal programs and the use of that easy money to fund the explosion of a diversity/inclusion/equity (DIE. AKA DEI) Administrative cadre in our universities. WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING is a quintessential example of government causing a problem for which the ‘fix’ is more government intervention.
“…race-conscious admissions policies must be limited in time. This requirement reflects that racial classifications, however compelling their goals, are potentially so dangerous that they may be employed no more broadly than the interest demands. Enshrining a permanent justification for racial preferences would offend this fundamental equal protection principle.
It has been 25 years since Justice Powell first approved the use of race to further an interest in student body diversity in the context of public higher education. Since that time, the number of minority applicants with high grades and test scores has indeed increased. See Tr. of Oral Arg. 43. We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today.
By next year, when the Court’s decisions in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina are rendered, it will have been 20 years. Close enough for government work.
Harvard’s demerits of Asian-American applicant’s personalities are particularly scandalous and inexcusable. Harvard penalizes them because, according to its admissions office, they lack leadership and confidence and are less likable and kind.
Harvard, of course, does not exist to provide remediation, intellectual skepticism. or training in any of those personality categories. Harvard exists to make sure its endowments persevere. It’s easier for Harvard when everyone thinks the same way.
Here’s a slice from oral arguments on the Students for Fair Admissions’ suits. SCOTUS Chief Justice John Roberts presses Seth Waxman, the primary attorney defending Harvard.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: — put aside the hypothetical about the African American applicant who’s a legacy. Take two African American applicants in the same category, however you want to take it. They both get or both can get a tip, right, based on their race.
And yet they may have entirely different views. Some of their views may contribute to diversity from the perspective of Asians or whites. Some of them may not. And yet it’s true that they’re eligible for the same increase in the opportunities for admission based solely on their skin color?
MR. WAXMAN: So the — the point is —
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: That was a question.
MR. WAXMAN: No, I know. I’m –I’m attempting to answer your question.
There is no doubt that for –as the testimony showed, that for applicants who are essentially so strong on multiple dimensions, so extraordinarily strong on multiple dimensions that they are sort of on the bubble, that they might –they have a real candidate for admission, African American –being African American or being Hispanic or in some instances being Asian American can provide one of many, many tips that will put you in.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Well, people say that, yes, but you will have to concede, if it provides one of many, that in some cases it will be determinative.
MR. WAXMAN: I do. I do concede that.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Okay. So we’re talking about race as a determining factor in admission to Harvard.
MR. WAXMAN: Race in some –for some highly qualified applicants can be the determinative factor, just as being the –you know, an oboe player in a year in which the Harvard-Radcliffe orchestra needs an oboe player will be the tip.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Yeah. We did not fight a Civil War about oboe players.
A friend to whom I sent that bit was amused. He commented:
“…at least bassoonists were not used as the example!”
This got me to thinking how Harvard admissions commissars would evaluate woodwind players. Assume equally qualified candidates of the same skin color, sexual orientation, and leftist political views… Only one can be admitted: Bassoonist or oboist? Which woodwind would win?
And what of other woodwinds? I had some thoughts:
First, let’s acknowledge that bassoon or oboe… Roberts is still an anti-woodwindist.
But, a more interesting question arises: Do you get more Harvard admission equity points for a bassoon or for an oboe?
How this could be decided might be partially based on whether the instrument could be used in a marching band – a musical ensemble associated with the military and inextricably bound up with the works of John Philip Sousa.
Sousa is a well known white male and suspected heterosexual, whose patriotism and contribution to martial music remains a threat to our democracy. ‘He’ never declared his preferred pronouns.
So. Oboes in a marching band? Apparently it is a thing.
But a bassoon in a marching band is practically unheard of.
Conclusion: Bassoonists get into Harvard. Oboists do not. But what about… Piccolos, for example? Guidance is needed.
We might take other lessons from this. Trombones, apparently up to 76 of them, seem the most obvious objectionable instruments for their domination of the marching band. Bass drums suffer from oppressive decibels, making them unsuitable for drum circles. These are excluded in this analysis because the Chief Justice has not commented on brasses or percussion.
I’ll suggest the most damaging admissions related woodwind is a piccolo, because they are featured in Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever, the National March of the jingoist (etc., etc.) United States.
Piccolos are not up to the 76 trombone pinnacle, but more than one piccolo is not unheard of.
Piccolos have been known to identify as flutes, and in some delusional cases, as bassoons. But, unlike Harvard’s Elizabeth Warren, they have neither high cheekbones nor a family mythology. Nor the compleat disingenuity.
Overall, while I think bassoonist applicants would get more points than piccoloists – for admission to Harvard the better choices might be harp or grand piano.
The broader question applies to all musical instruments, and there is surely a 6 figure diversity department salary for the person who can figure out how to score them on the diversity/inclusion/equity scale. The whole western canon of musical instruments must be analyzed.
A guy named Anthony Novak made fun of the Parma (Ohio) Police Department by creating a parody Facebook page mocking the official police website.
The Parma constabulary took a dim view of Novak’s efforts. So, after consulting the city’s “law director,” they arrested him (Novak) for “illegal use of a computer to disrupt or impair police functions.”
A jury of his peers acquitted Novak of the charge.
If you aren’t pretty certain you grasp the definition of ‘parody,’ now is the time to look it up. Something the Parma city scions seem to have neglected: Novak has sued the city for violation of his Constitutional rights.
Win or lose that suit, he has proved the police disrupted and impaired their own function by arresting him. For speaking.
So far, though, he hasn’t been allowed to present his case. There’s this thing that encourages city “law directors” to take legal risks organizations vulnerable to Constitutional strictures would avoid. It’s known as “qualified immunity.”
According to a district court, with concurrence from the Sixth Circuit, Novak is not allowed to have this question adjudicated. He is not entitled to seek remedy because qualified immunity protects public officials from lawsuits when they violate a federal right unless “the unlawfulness of their conduct was clearly established” at the time they acted.
The First Amendment clearly established Novak’s right to parodize the local constabulary in 1787. That is his opinion, anyway. And mine. And the jury’s. The case is going to the Supreme Court.
The Onion has filed an amicus curiae brief supporting the suit. I think the Babylon Bee is consistently more creative, but The Onion got its mojo back on with this brief. It’s 23 hilarious pages. Courtesy of the Institute for Justice
The American Civil Liberties Union was once a stalwart, scrappy, absolutist defender of free speech and due process. It took serious heat for its defense* of American Nazi’s right to free expression in 1977.
*There are many accounts of this. You will find some here, here, and here.
That indomitable devotion to the First Amendment prompted me to become a card carrying ACLU member. But I haven’t been a member since ~1985 because the ACLU drifted away from this purity of principle. It continued downhill for many years, but after the 2016 election the corruption rapidly became complete and absolute.
The rotten yolk of this organization may still be called a “union,” but it now diametrically opposes the other three words in its name. Enthralled by the money gushing out of the Diversity/Inclusion/Equity cabal, ensnared by rote identitarianism, and blinded by Trump Derangement Syndrome – the ACLU turned its back on the Constitution.
RIP. Here are comments from two high profile liberal lawyers. Like me, former ACLU supporters:
The ACLU has defended Nazis, the KKK, pornographers and purveyors of hate speech. I was privileged to serve on the national board of the ACLU during its golden age.
Then everything changed. The board decided to “diversify.” This meant that a certain number of women, African Americans, Latinos and gays had to be represented—which, in turn, meant the representatives of these groups were expected to prioritize the parochial interests of the groups they represented over the more general interests of all Americans pertaining to free speech and due process.
Unsurprisingly, the organization stopped prioritizing free speech and due process. Instead, it began to prioritize a woman’s right to choose, gay marriage, racial issues and “progressive politics.” This trend began well before the election of President Donald Trump, but it came to a head when he took office. The ACLU turned into a money-making machine by prioritizing the anti-Trump attitudes of its new members over its traditional role as a nonpartisan defender of free speech and due process.
The ACLU is now rolling in money, but it is intellectually bankrupt in its defense of free speech and due process—especially when these core liberties conflict with its money-making progressive agenda. This is particularly true with respect to the attacks on free speech and due process on university campuses, which are rampant and largely ignored by the current ACLU.
For years, many of us who have long supporteded the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have grown alarmed by its abandonment of core principles in the support of civil liberties in favor of support what seems a more political agenda…
Free speech protection was once the touchstone of the ACLU which was fearless in its unpopular advocacy. It is now an area of open retreat for the organization as the leadership seeks to appease irate donors. Despite the right to carry being a constitutional right, the ACLU has indicated that it will not vigorously support the right to lawfully carry weapons at protests. That is no more evident than in the truly shocking filing of the ACLU to oppose due process rights for students at our colleges and universities, particularly in the imposition of a higher and more consistent evidentiary standard…
The group seems increasingly committed to appeasing liberal donors and supporters in avoiding such fights. Now it has actually taken up the cause of reducing due process — a position that disgraces its long and proud legacy… It is now actively trading off civil liberties to achieve beneficial social ends.
NCLA views the administrative state as an especially serious threat to constitutional freedoms. No other development in contemporary American law denies more rights to more Americans. Although Americans still enjoy the shell of their Republic, there has developed within it a very different sort of government—a type, in fact, that the Constitution was designed to prevent. This unconstitutional administrative state within our U.S. government is the focus of NCLA’s concern. NCLA urges Americans to recognize the administrative threat and join our civil liberties movement against it.
Public statements, emails, and recent publicly released documents establish that the President of the United States and other senior officials in the Biden Administration violated the First Amendment by directing social-media companies to censor viewpoints that conflict with the government’s messaging on Covid-19.
NCLA joined the lawsuit, State of Missouri ex rel. Schmitt, et al. v. Joseph R. Biden, Jr., et al., representing renowned epidemiologists and co-authors of the Great Barrington Declaration, Drs. Jayanta Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff, as well as Dr. Aaron Kheriaty and Jill Hines. Social media platforms, acting at the federal government’s behest, repeatedly censored NCLA’s clients for articulating views on those platforms in opposition to government-approved views on Covid-19 restrictions.
This insidious censorship was the direct result of the federal government’s ongoing campaign to silence those who voice perspectives that deviate from those of the Biden Administration. Government officials’ public threats to punish social media companies that did not do their bidding demonstrate this linkage, as do emails from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to social media companies that only recently were made public.
The Administrative State is nowhere better established than in our Universities, and FIRE started out as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education before recognizing a broader mission. The examples below indicate that FIRE is dedicated to defending the First Amendment. The content of speech is not the issue. Whose Ox is gored is irrelevant. The speakers opinions are sacrosanct, even… especially… if they are unpopular.
A lawsuit filed last week by theater professor Richard Bugg against administrators at Southern Utah University alleges that key school officials violated his First Amendment rights when they punished him for refusing to use a student’s preferred pronouns.
Bugg is represented by FIRE Faculty Legal Defense Fund network attorney Jerome H. Mooney, with FLDF’s financial support. FLDF offers “first responder” legal assistance to protect the academic freedom and free expression rights of faculty at public colleges and universities, and where appropriate supports litigation when on-campus efforts meet resistance.
Bugg’s lawsuit alleges that when a student in his 2021 fall semester acting class requested Bugg use they/them pronouns when referring to that student, Bugg instead offered to use that student’s given or preferred proper name. Although Bugg attempted not to use female pronouns to refer to the student, he mistakenly did so two to three times, by his own admission. Despite Bugg’s proposed accommodation, the student filed a Title IX complaint against him alleging Bugg would not refer to the student using gender-neutral pronouns.
After a hearing, SUU determined Bugg violated university policy by engaging in “conduct that constitutes ‘discrimination’ and ‘harassment’ based on gender identity.” As punishment, SUU has required Bugg to take a class about the use of gender-neutral pronouns in the English language, and that Bugg use students’ preferred pronouns. SUU also cautioned that if Bugg’s continued refusal to use preferred pronouns causes students to avoid registering for his classes, SUU will open additional sections, and will reduce Bugg’s pay to offset the cost of the additional sections. It also threatened Bugg with possible termination.
Queen Elizabeth’s death yesterday spurred a global outpouring of grief from many of her fans, alongside discussion and debate about the complicated history of England’s monarchy. Much of this debate took place on Twitter, which, for better or worse, serves as a modern public square for commentary about current events.
But critics succeeded in at least partially silencing one such commentator: Carnegie Mellon University professor Uju Anya, who wrote on her personal account hours before the Queen’s death was announced: “I heard the chief monarch of a thieving raping genocidal empire is finally dying. May her pain be excruciating…”
CMU must publicly refuse to investigate or punish the professor
Regardless of public controversy, Anya’s tweets remain protected under First Amendment standards. Private institutions like CMU are not bound by the First Amendment to promise free expression, but, laudably, the university has chosen to do so, committing that it “values the freedoms of speech, thought, expression and assembly — in themselves and as part of our core educational and intellectual mission.” CMU goes so far as to say the “university must be a place where all ideas may be expressed freely and where no alternative is withheld from consideration.”
Now that CMU has promised faculty free expression, it cannot backtrack from “all ideas may be expressed,” to all except this one because people are mad. CMU has not backtracked, but it also has not foreclosed the threat of punishing Anya in its public statement. That’s why FIRE is asking CMU to publicly commit not to investigate or punish Anya for expressing her opinion. As we told CMU:
While some may find the timing or substance of speech about the deceased to be offensive, freedom of expression does not observe a mourning period. It applies whether speech about the recently departed takes the form of a venerating eulogy, scorn, or something in between.
If you are so inclined you can join me in supporting NCLA here, and the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression here.
We do need institutions to take up the banner the ACLU has ground into the mud.