Friday, February 09, 2018

Cruising the Web

Joel Kotkin looks at the three elements of the Democratic coalition and the problems they are going to face as they try to keep all elements of their party together.
hree different, and often somewhat hostile, tendencies now define the Democratic Party. These include the corporate oligarchs, causists obsessed with particular hot button issues and arguably the most critical to long-term ascendency, populists, who bear much of the party’s social democratic message and legacy.
The oligarchs, as he calls them, are who we might term coastal elites. They're the financial core of the party and there is a lot of money from the tech and Hollywood crowd flowing into the party. And there might be some overlap with the "causists."
Causists — gay rights, feminists, extreme greens, retro-urbanists and race-based political movements — now constitute the ascendant wing of the Democratic Party today. Their passion, communication and organizational skill increasingly drives the party agenda, turning traditional liberals increasingly into radicals with often extreme views “mainstreamed” into basic party dogma.

To be sure, the issues of the causists started, and remain, critical concerns that need to be addressed. But the current political physics tends to push each of these movements towards ever greater stridency and extremism, threatening the party’s long-term ability to win over middle of the road, suburban voters.
They are pushing the party to the left on issues like the environment, capitalism, social justice protections for marginalized groups just as they are demanding leftist policies to move the country toward some ideal of Scandinavian socialism. It's not clear how many of the oligarchs appreciate the anti-capitalist message of the causists. And then there are the populists, the most numerous part of the coalition.
True Middle American populists — Bernie Sanders after all represents post-industrial retirement colony of Vermont — are increasingly marginalized in a party dominated by identity issue activists and the big money of the post-industrial hierarchy. The other factions’ agenda — free trade globalism, uncontrolled immigration, strident social liberalism and identity politics — are the very things that could help re-elect Trump.

To win and consolidate their gains, particularly amidst a now strong economy, Democrats need to find a way to recover their basic economic message — as they did under President Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. They should focus on how to build sustained economic growth that would provide better opportunities for upward mobility for middle and working class voters, and in particular millennials. If they choose however to listen primarily to causists and oligarchs, they may win in the short run, given the ineptitude of their opponents, but may prove unable to sustain their ascendency over the longer term.
It's an interesting typology, but I think Kotkin ignores the suburban supporters of the Democratic Party. That is where they get a lot of the votes that help them win the votes that helped Obama win two terms. However, Michael Barone has a similar observation as he writes that the "gentry liberals own the Democratic Party. He has noticed demographic data about how New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago have seen a decline in the numbers of blacks in those cities with a corresponding rise in the white non-Hispanic population. These gentry liberals are the base for those cities' mayors as well as quite a few other major cities.
There’s irony in this. Gentry liberals have produced the highest-income-inequality metropolitan areas in the nation. They decry gentrification, and the accompanying movement of low-income blacks and Hispanics out of their neighborhoods, even as they cause it. They sing hymns to diversity even as they revel in the pleasures of communities where almost everybody believes and consumes exactly the same things—and votes uniformly Democratic.

Gentrification thus inevitably reshapes the Democratic Party, which from its beginnings in 1832 has been a series of coalitions of people regarded as somehow unusual Americans but who, taken together, are a national majority.

Consider Democrats’ priorities during the presidency of Barack Obama, who has lived all his adult life in gentrified neighborhoods. Increased taxes on high earners, which gentry liberals are happy to pay (if they weren’t they would have joined other affluent folk moving to Florida and Texas).

An infrastructure bill that was, as American Enterprise Institute’s Christina Hoff Sommers documented in the Weekly Standard, titled and tailored at the behest of feminists to invoke higher pay for teachers and nurses rather than new jobs for “burly men."

Similarly, Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed through passage of cap and trade legislation, a priority of her fellow San Francisco Bay area gentry liberals, which predictably cost Democrats multiple Coal and Rust Belt House seats.

But even with supermajorities, she and other Democratic leaders didn’t bring forward immigration legislation, not even relief for the DACA Dreamers whose cause they recently insisted was worth shutting the government down.

This year New York’s Andrew Cuomo and California’s Jerry Brown have been bellowing against the Republican tax bill for eliminating most of the deduction for state and local taxes. This has virtually no impact except on people with incomes over $100,000 in high tax states. I.e., gentry liberals. First constituencies first.

And who are Democrats eyeing as possible 2020 presidential nominees? Identity politics, a favorite talking point of gentry liberals, has them focusing mainly on women and minorities. Like Kirsten Gillibrand, who met her husband while working in Manhattan, and Elizabeth Warren of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Or Cory Booker, raised in Harrington Park, New Jersey, and Kamala Harris, from San Francisco.
They might add a Joe Biden or Tim Kaine to their tickets to appeal to populist liberals, but we all know where those guys' hearts were.
Dominating the party is one thing; producing candidates and issues with appeal to the broader national electorate is another. Gentry liberals have the microphone and the money to dominate the Democratic Party. Whether they can overcome their snobbish disdain and bitter contempt for those beyond their comfortable enclaves, and come up with a winning national strategy, is unclear.
Trump was able to put together enough votes from those white, lower class members of the Democratic coalition in order to win a victory in the Electoral College. If he were a less controversial and silly man, he wouldn't have antagonized so much of the country to such a fever pitch and he'd be a formidable candidate for reelection. However, mostly because of his own character and flaws, he is perhaps even more unpopular now than when he was running for president.

Matthew Continetti writes about what he calls the Back to the Future Democrats who are so trapped by their identity politics that they are having trouble reaching to the part of their coalition that voted for Trump. Remember that Trump received a surprising number of votes from people who had voted for Obama.
The Democrats are like characters in a Bill Murray movie. They keep reliving the same day, trapped in the rhythms and routines of campaign 2016. They persist in the rhetoric, tropes, gestures, figures, and policies that delivered the presidency, the Congress, and the bulk of statehouses and governor’s mansions to the Republican party. What they can’t escape is identity politics — the slicing and dicing of the electorate by race, sex, orientation, gender identity, country of origin, dietary preference, what have you. Meanwhile President Trump has run off with the most salable of the Democrats’ old issues and the foundations of their coalition. You’d think they’d notice.

Instead the Democrats are too paralyzed by disgust with Trump to care. They are too in love with their newly created self-image as the vehicle of the Resistance, too possessed by the codes and nostrums of the literary-theory courses they took as undergraduates, too beholden to the ludicrous iconography of Hillary Clinton as feminist martyr.
Continetti observes that Clinton still keeps showing up. She's rather like the corpse in a horror movie who we all thought was dead, but pops up periodically from her coffin to frighten everyone except those members of her party who still see her as some sort of feminist icon despite her history of protecting her husband's sexual predations by attacking women or keeping a sexual abuser on her staff as her religious adviser.
Clinton is no longer in government, but her campaign strategy continues to guide the Democrats’ actions and messaging.

Joe Kennedy III’s response to the president was a case in point. His speech hit the same notes as Clinton’s a year and a half ago, with emphasis on the Dreamers, who apparently speak only Spanish, and a fillip suggesting that trans causes are equivalent to a drug epidemic that killed 52,000 people in 2015. Kennedy mentioned neither the word “job” nor the word “terrorism.” He said the word “trade” just once. There was the suggestion, if not threat, that future generations will remove obstacles along the southern border, and there were shout-outs to the social justice cause du jour: “You bravely say, me too. You steadfastly say, black lives matter.” This was the same identity politics that emboldened Clinton to label Trump supporters “deplorable,” to assume that Wisconsin and Michigan were safely behind the nonexistent “Blue Wall,” and to lose whites without college degrees by 31 points. You go, Joe.
You'd think that, in the year of #MeToo and the force of minorities within the Democratic coalition they could have come up with someone other the very white heir of a wealthy and political dynasty. You'd think that they'd be thinking of how to win over those lower-class, white voters who used to be a firm part of their coalition, but who voted for Trump. You might think so, but you'd be wrong.
The fate of working-class people in the country’s interior is a defining domestic issue. For the Democrats to win nationally, they must stanch their losses among this key voting bloc, just as Clinton’s husband and Barack Obama did. “If Clinton could simply have reduced the shift toward Donald Trump among these voters by one-quarter, she would have won,” Ruy Teixeira wrote a few days ago on Even more remarkably, Teixeira found that Doug Jones’s victory in the Alabama special election “was not attributable to his strong showing among black voters alone, or even a combination of black voters and white college graduates. My analysis indicates that Jones benefited from a margin swing of more than 30 points among white non-college voters, relative to the 2016 presidential election in the state.”

Trump’s State of the Union was well crafted and moving, but what made it especially important was the ease with which the president took the Democratic economic message of a few years ago and pocketed it without protest. If Bill Clinton had M2E2 — Medicare, Medicaid, education, and the environment — then Donald Trump has T2I2: terrorism, trade, immigration, and infrastructure. He has framed these issues in ways that leave the Democrats in the cold, and oh, by the way, he’s taken family leave away from them too. He’s for tight labor markets within the original free-trade zone, the United States, and all the Democrats have left is virtue signaling and grievance mongering. Maybe that’s why Nancy Pelosi looked so unhappy Tuesday.

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Christina Hoff Sommers valiantly tries to refute the myth that women aren't paid equally for equal work. A T-Mobile ad during the Super Bowl once again perpetuated this myth with an ad of baby girls and telling them, “You will demand fair and equal pay. … You will be heard, not dismissed.” Oh, please.
For the past two years, the Super Bowl has run ads promoting equal pay for equal work.

A 2017 Audi ad showed a scrappy little girl in a box car race. Her worried father asks, “Do I tell her that despite her education, her skills, her drive, her intelligence, she will automatically be valued as less than every man she ever meets?”

This year, a T-Mobile spot assured a group of adorable babies: “You will demand fair and equal pay. … You will be heard, not dismissed.”

These Super Bowl ads imply that American women face systemic wage discrimination, and do not receive equal pay for equal work. But this claim has been debunked over and over again. How did it find its way to the Super Bowl?
The 23-cent gender pay gap we often hear about is simply the difference between the average earnings of all men and women who work full-time. It does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure, or hours worked per week. When economists account for these relevant factors, the wage gap narrows to a few cents. By now, even feminist wage gap activists agree — at least when pressed.

No one knows if those remaining few cents are the result of discrimination, or some other hard-to-quantify variable. When American Association of University Women, a feminist organization, looked in 2012 at the wages of recent college graduates, it found that the wage gap narrowed to about six cents once relevant variables were accounted for. When an NPR reporter asked an AAUW representative how much of the remaining six cents could be blamed on discrimination, she replied, “We are still trying to figure that out.”

Yet, the idea that women are paid less for the same work is taken for granted. Everywhere we hear that for the same work, women only make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. Think about that. If it were true, why wouldn’t businesses only hire women? Wages are the biggest expense for most businesses. So, hiring only women would reduce costs by nearly a quarter — and that would go right to the bottom line.
But let's not let facts get in the way of a tendentious myth that encourages girls to think that they will be discriminated against in the real world. I can testify that my students all believe this lie. Hoff Sommers goes on to put forth her explanation why this myth persists.
What explains the appeal and staying power of a groundless claim about systemic pay injustice? For one thing, there is a lot of statistical illiteracy among journalists, activists, political leaders. There is also an admirable human tendency to be protective of women: stories of female exploitation are readily believed, and skeptics — especially men — risk appearing indifferent to women’s plight. But these are not the root causes.

The wage gap myth endures because it has the support of a passionate and effective lobby. An army of gender scholars and activists in our universities and women’s research institutes believes there is systemic gender discrimination in the labor market and they promote this myth in their classrooms, textbooks, and factsheets. They rarely engage directly with critics and skeptics outside of the gender equity universe, but they have forged an alternative route to success: Networking....

The wage discrimination myth has made it to the Super Bowl because it has become an enthusiasm — with rallies, speak-outs, affinity networks, even its own holiday. The truth about pay disparities can hardly compete — it is addressed to reason rather than emotion and requires a few minutes of explanation. It does not lend itself to heartrending vignettes about innocent girls and babies facing a future of injustice. Most of all, the truth lacks a lobby. For the time being, expect more ads.
John Sexton links to this Fact-Check from the Washington Post from 2016.
Critics of the Census statistic have noted that the wage gap is affected by a number of factors, including that the average woman has less work experience than the average man and that more of the weeks worked by women are part-time rather than full-time.

Women also tend to leave the workforce for periods to raise children, seek jobs that may have more flexible hours but lower pay, and choose careers that tend to have lower pay. (BLS data show that women who have never married have virtually no wage gap; they earn nearly 94 cents for every dollar a man makes.)

At the same time, however, women now make up a majority of college graduates and have begun to narrow the gap in managerial expertise – which help explain why the pay gap has declined over time.

In 2011, economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis surveyed economic literature and concluded that “research suggests that the actual gender wage gap (when female workers are compared with male workers who have similar characteristics) is much lower than the raw wage gap.” They noted that women may prefer to accept jobs with lower wages but greater benefits (more flexible parental leave) so excluding such fringe benefits from the calculations will exaggerate the wage disparity.

For instance, a 2013 article in the Daily Beast, citing a Georgetown University survey on the economic value of different college majors, showed that nine of the 10 most remunerative majors (such as petroleum and aerospace engineering) were dominated by men, while nine of the 10 least remunerative majors (such as social work and early childhood education) were dominated by women.

In 2016, a comprehensive review conducted by Francine D. Blau and Lawrence M. Kahn of Cornell University found that about 50 percent of the wage gap could be explained by a variety of factors largely in a woman’s control, such as choice of occupation and industry. The level of experience helped explain another 14 percent of the wage gap.

But Blau and Kahn said that 38 percent is “unexplained” and could be the result of discrimination. That adds up to almost an eight-cent differential between men and women, much less than the 21 cents suggested by the raw Census data.

“We conclude that many of the traditional explanations continue to have salience for understanding the gender wage gap and changes in the gap, although some factors have increased and others have decreased in importance,” the authors said. One reason that gender wage gap has narrowed in recent years, they said, is because women now exceed men in educational attainment and have greatly reduced the experience gap. At the same time, some of the highest-paying white-collar jobs are less forgiving of workers who desire more flexible hours, such a women with family responsibilities.

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Sally Pipes explains the connection between the Democrats' health policies under Obama have helped lead to our opioid crisis.
Obamacare is fueling the opioid epidemic. That’s according to an explosive new report from the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

The health law expanded Medicaid coverage to millions of childless, able-bodied adults. Some of them have used their free coverage to obtain prescriptions for powerful opioids, which they have then sold on the black market. In effect, the U.S. government is paying for many of the addictive pills that directly and indirectly kill tens of thousands of Americans each year.

It's time for Congress to roll back the Medicaid expansion -- and fundamentally reform the broken program so that it protects taxpayers and better serves the truly needy.

President Obama's health law initially required states to expand Medicaid coverage to anyone who earns less than 138 percent of the poverty line. In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the expansion was optional. Nevertheless, 31 states and the District of Columbia took the federal government up on its offer. In November 2017, Maine’s voters approved a referendum directing the state to expand Medicaid.
This led to states expanding their Medicaid coverage for able-bodied, childless adults because of the federal subsidies paying for the expansion. And the coverage of opioids under Medicaid led to a vast expansion of such prescriptions.
About 80 percent of heroin and fentanyl users spiraled into their addictions after first getting hooked on prescription painkillers. The Medicaid expansion made those painkillers widely and cheaply available.

Some people chose to sell their painkillers on the black market. As the Senate committee's report notes, "Medicaid co-pays can run as low as $1 for as many as 240 pills -- pills that can be sold for up to $4,000 on the street."

This lucrative, albeit illegal, business model explains why there was a 55 percent increase in the number of Medicaid-opioid fraud cases in the four years following expansion compared to the previous four years. More than 80 percent of fraud cases occurred in Medicaid expansion states, including New York, New Jersey, and Michigan.
This is what the rules of unintended consequences looks like. Pipes calls for rolling back the Medicaid expansion, but expect cries that Republicans hate the poor and want them to suffer if they proposed this. The House repeal bill of Obamacare would have done that and we know how that ended up.

This gives us even less confidence in the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's private server.
The FBI didn’t flag that some emails from Hillary Clinton’s private email server were marked classified with a “(C)” when they were sent — something that seemingly would have been one of the first and most obvious checks in an investigation, and one that FBI agents instantly recognized put the facts at odds with Clinton’s public statements.

The Intelligence Community Inspector General noticed it after the FBI missed it, texts between FBI agent Peter Strzok and his mistress, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, reveal. “Holy cow,” Strzok wrote, “if the FBI missed this, what else was missed?”

.....“Found on the 30k [emails] provided to State originally. No one noticed. It cuts against ‘I never sent or received anything marked classified,'” he wrote, referring to statements by Clinton downplaying the danger of her email practices.
Hmmm. Good question .
Of course, this didn't change James Comey's determination that Hillary didn't actually intend to break the law, so he wouldn't care that she had clearly broken the law. But then Strzok and Page have already indicated in their text messages that the fix was in to exonerate CLinton.
In the newly released texts from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Page warned Strzok that Clinton “might be our next president,” in a Feb. 25, 2016 exchange.

“The last thing you need [is] going in there loaded for bear,” Page continued. “You think she’s going to remember or care that it was more [DOJ] than [FBI]?”
Clinton really benefited from the FBI's omission.
The ommission allowed Clinton to repeatedly and prominently state that she had “never received nor sent any material that was marked classified” on her private email server while secretary of state.

She even said so at major debates, and because the FBI hadn’t caught the letter (C), and therefore never stated its findings, PolitiFact rated the claim “Half True.”

When the FBI belatedly noticed and relayed the truth, the fact-checking site said “Now we know it’s just plain wrong.
And now we know how deliberately Clinton's actions prevented the FBI from noticing the classified documents on her server.
Clinton decided to print out 55,000 pages instead of providing the State Department with her emails in their digital format, a technique sometimes used by lawyers to make searches harder for their opponents. A CTRL-F search for “(C)” could have missed the markings because State had to re-digitize the forms with Optical Character Recognition, which can get tripped up on symbols, perhaps interpreting it as something like “[C]” or a copyright symbol. Nonetheless, the classified marker always appears at the beginning of a paragraph and is visually distinct.
Mighty convenient that. But of course, there was no deliberate effort to obfuscate, was there? And wasn't she "lucky" that Comey decided that evidence of her breaking the law just didn't matter?

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One congressman defends Barack Obama and the Congressional Black Caucus meeting with Louis Farrakhan. According to Farrakhan, the Jews were to blame for 9/11 and he's called for the deaths of white people and praised Hitler. However, Illinois Representative Danny Davis sees nothing wrong with meeting with Farrakhan, despite his vocal anti-Semitic and racist views.
“I personally know [Farrakhan], I’ve been to his home, done meetings, participated in events with him,” Davis told TheDC.

“I don’t regard Louis Farrakhan as an aberration or anything, I regard him as an outstanding human being who commands a following of individuals who are learned and articulate and he plays a big role in the lives of thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of people,” he emphasized later.

Davis told TheDC “it wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary” for him to meet with Farrakhan and said that Farrakhan isn’t considered a fringe character in his hometown of Chicago.

When asked about Farrakhan’s history of anti-Semitic comments, Davis was dismissive and said that many people in politics have a history of inflammatory comments.
Imagine if a Republican defended meeting with David Duke because lots of people say inflammatory things.

And then there is Congressman Keith Ellison who is also the DNC's deputy chairman. Jeryl Bier exposes how Ellison has been lying about his connections with Farrakhan. He has stated that it was a smear to associate him with Farrakhan, but later admitted that he'd worked for a year and a half with the Nation of Islam, but he condemned the anti-Semitism of the Nation of Islam and Farrakhan. Since he was running for Congress, he realized that that was an unsavory connection. But he's been hiding his connections with the NOI and Farrakhan since he was elected.
In September 2013, however, Messrs. Ellison and Farrakhan dined together. The occasion was a visit by Iran’s newly elected President Hassan Rouhani to the United Nations. Mr. Rouhani invited Muslim leaders from around the U.S. to dinner after addressing the U.N. General Assembly. Contemporaneous news reports placed Mr. Farrakhan at the dinner. Unreported by mainstream outlets was the presence of Mr. Ellison, along with Reps. Gregory Meeks of New York and Andre Carson of Indiana. (All three are Democrats; Messrs. Ellison and Carson are Muslim.)

The Nation of Islam website documents the event, noting that Mr. Rouhani “hosted the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, Muslim leaders from different Islamic communities and members of the U.S. Congress at a private meeting . . . at the One UN Hotel in Manhattan Sept. 24, 2013 across the street from the UN headquarters.” The Final Call, a Nation of Islam publication, added that “ Keith Ellison of Minnesota . . . participated in the dialogue” after dinner and includes photos of Messrs. Farrakhan and Ellison at the tables. The Michigan-based Islamic House of Wisdom also reported on the meeting, with additional photos.

According to Mr. Farrakhan, the 2013 meeting was not the last time he and Mr. Ellison were together. After Mr. Ellison renewed his denunciation of Mr. Farrakhan in 2016, Mr. Farrakhan stated in an interview that Reps. Ellison and Carson had visited him in his Washington hotel suite the preceding summer.

When Mr. Ellison sought the DNC position, he received support from many Jewish leaders and prominent politicians. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer dismissed concerns rather glibly: “I’m not worried about the Israel stuff.”
Why let a little anti-Semitism get in the way? Besides if Schumer had to condemn such connections, what other members of the Congressional Black Caucus might he have to condemn?

Armageddon rolls along.
CVS Health will increase employee pay and sweeten benefits to some employees using a portion of the company's windfall from the new tax law.

CVS will boost starting pay for hourly employees to $11 per hour from $9 per hour, starting in April. Pay ranges and rates will be adjusted for many of its retail pharmacy technicians, front store associates and other hourly retail employees later in the year. Full-time employees will qualify for as much as four weeks of paid parental leave, and worker health-care premiums will hold steady at current rates.

The health-care company has more than 240,000 employees.
So is getting a 22% pay increase still crumbs?

And here is some more terrible economic news. Or, at least it's terrible news for the Democrats' claims of how ruinous the GOP tax bill was.
The Congressional Budget Office says that federal revenues in January added up to $362 billion. That's an increase of $18 billion— or 5.2% — from the year before. As a result, the government ran a surplus of $51 billion that month, which is equal to the previous January.

Wait, weren't the tax cuts supposed to bankrupt the country to benefit the rich? It almost looks like the tax cuts — which took effect in January — are paying for themselves.

That wouldn't be fair, either. As the CBO notes, the new payroll withholding scheduled hadn't fully taken effect in January; companies don't have to update their employee tax withholdings until the middle of this month. When that happens, monthly revenues from individual income taxes will likely slip.

But the latest CBO report does show how a growing economy can make up a lot of the difference between the advertised price of a tax cut and the actual impact on revenues.

The same report says that revenues for the first four months of the current fiscal year — which started last October — were $46 billion higher than the same period the year before.

And then there is this report.
The percentage of U.S. small businesses planning to raise wages is the highest in more than 28 years. That’s according to the January employment survey of the National Federation of Independent Business, due out later today. Small companies posted solid job increases last month amounting to 0.23 workers per firm. And they would have hired even more workers if they had been able to find them.

NFIB CEO Juanita Duggan says that for owners of small companies, “finding qualified workers is an increasing challenge, rising to the top of their concerns.”

To address the tight labor market for both skilled and unskilled workers, a net 24% of owners surveyed “plan to raise worker compensation, the highest reading since December 1989,” says NFIB Chief Economist William Dunkelberg. He adds that a full 31% “reported raising compensation to attract or retain employees,” the highest reading on that question since December 2000. “Only an increase in the labor force and an increase in the participation rate can provide relief from the impact of labor shortages,” adds Mr. Dunkelberg.

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Kudos to Princeton University. They're going to assign Keith E. WHittington's upcoming book, Speak Freely: Why Universities Must Defend Free Speech to next year's incoming freshman class to read.
The Pre-read is a Princeton tradition that introduces first-year students to the intellectual life of the University by offering opportunities to engage with a book that students, faculty and staff read.

“‘Speak Freely’ is an insightful book about an important topic,” Eisgruber said. “Keith Whittington’s clear, accessible argument explains why free speech is essential to university life. The book also illuminates campus controversies that have grabbed headlines around the world. Because issues about free speech matter to everyone at Princeton, I am inviting all faculty, staff and students to read ‘Speak Freely’ along with the incoming freshmen.”

Speak Freely” will be published by Princeton University Press in April. The Press is an independent publisher with close formal and informal connections to the University.

This summer, each member of the incoming Class of 2022 will receive a copy of the book — in time to discuss it with classmates in the fall. The book also will be distributed to all current Princeton undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff members of the Academic and Administrative Managers Group.
Excellent. It's a shame that students need to be instructed in the importance of the freedom of speech, but that is where we are today.
“I hope the book can foster conversations about, and a better appreciation of, the purposes of a university and the role of free speech within it,” Whittington said. “I have had the great good fortune of being part of a particularly vibrant intellectual community at Princeton, and I hope the book can help clarify and sustain the principles that have helped make this University a great institution.”

“Vigorous argument and constructive disagreement are vital to the mission of this University, and I expect this book will inspire precisely that sort of lively conversation,” commented Eisgruber.
Other universities should jump all over this year. Perhaps if the younger students learn about why we value the freedom of speech, we'll start to see the end of the efforts of closed-minded students demanding that no one with whom the disagree be allowed to speak.

Well, this is awkward.
California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia — whose high-profile advocacy of the #MeToo movement earned her national media notice — is herself the subject of a state legislative investigation in the wake of a report that she sexually harassed and groped a former legislative staffer.

In December, when Time magazine announced that “Silence Breakers” who spoke out against sexual harassment were its Persons of the Year, Garcia’s face was prominently included in the art accompanying the cover story.

But Daniel Fierro of Cerritos told POLITICO that in 2014, as a 25-year-old staffer to Assemblyman Ian Calderon, he was groped by Garcia, a powerful Democratic lawmaker who chairs the Legislative Women’s Caucus and the Natural Resources Committee.

He said she cornered him alone after the annual Assembly softball game in Sacramento as he attempted to clean up the dugout. Fierro, who said Garcia appeared inebriated, said she began stroking his back, then squeezed his buttocks and attempted to touch his crotch before he extricated himself and quickly left.

Fierro said he never reported the incident, which occurred years before the current #MeToo movement and new whistleblower legislation to protect legislative staffers. But after he mentioned the issue last January to Calderon, his former boss, the matter was then referred to the Assembly Rules Committee, which launched an investigation.

Fierro is not the only one claiming improper advances by Garcia. A prominent Sacramento lobbyist says she also accosted him in May 2017, when she cornered him, made a graphic sexual proposal, and tried to grab his crotch at a political fundraiser. He spoke to POLITICO on the condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisals.

This is a funny story about the difficulties a student had in persuading her professor not to flunk her paper for writing that Australia is a country. Apparently, the professor was under the misconception that it is a continent, not a country. Apparently, despite her PhD, the provessor had never been to middle school or even heard of Google.