Sunday, May 07, 2017

California Campus Free Speech Act

Remember when "Free speech" and segregation were huge issues on campus, both issues have been reversed of late. Free speech is only available to a select few and racial segregation is being embraced by the the grandkids of those who fought for inclusion and diversity.

Melissa Melendez’s California Campus Free Speech Act
Stanley Kurtz, National review 

California Assemblywoman Melissa A. Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) has just introduced the California Campus Free Speech Act. Melendez’s bill is based on the model campus free speech legislation I co-authored with Jim Manley and Jonathan Butcher of Arizona’s Goldwater Institute.

Upon introducing her legislation, Melendez released a statement that said: “Liberty cannot live without the freedom to speak and nowhere is that more important than on college campuses where we educate the leaders of tomorrow. The institutional silencing of individuals because of differing political ideology threatens the very foundation upon which our country was built.”

Although the California Campus Free Speech Act is closely based on the Goldwater proposal, it has a couple of strikingly distinctive features. While the Goldwater proposal and the bills based on it to date apply only to public universities, the California Campus Free Speech Act applies to both public and private colleges. That means this new legislation would apply not only to the University of California at Berkeley, where the Yiannopoulos and Coulter fiascos played out, but also to Claremont McKenna College, where Heather MacDonald’s talk was cut short.

The California Campus Free Speech Act accomplishes this by conditioning some (but not all) state aid to private colleges and universities on compliance with the Act (and by including an exemption for private religious colleges). In this, the legislation is clearly inspired by California’s Leonard Law, the only law in the country that extends First Amendment protections to private as well as public high schools and colleges.

The California Campus Free Speech Act is also framed as an amendment to California’s state constitution, which means that it can pass only with a two-thirds majority vote, and would then have to be ratified or rejected by a majority of state voters. A two-thirds majority requirement for a campus free speech bill is a high bar in a legislature dominated by Democrats. That said, I don’t think it will be easy for legislators of any party to openly oppose this bill.

There is also another route this proposed amendment could take. It’s relatively easy to place amendments to the California state constitution on the ballot. In lieu of a two-thirds majority in the legislature, signatures from the equivalent of 8% of the votes cast for all candidates in the last gubernatorial race suffice to place an amendment on the ballot. At that point, it requires only a simple majority vote for the measure to become part of California’s state constitution.

I wonder if some enterprising folks in California might decide to organize and finance an initiative campaign to place Melissa Melendez’s campus free-speech measure on the 2018 ballot. Once it got there, I believe it would have a very real prospect of passage. After the embarrassments of the last academic year, 50% plus one of California’s voters would likely act to restore freedom of speech to their state’s college campuses.

Momentum for state-level campus free speech bills based on the Goldwater model is clearly building. Late last week, Goldwater-inspired bills were introduced in Michigan and Wisconsin. With California now in the mix, the debate over the Goldwater proposal is becoming truly national. I much look forward to the battle over Melissa Melendez’s California Campus Free Speech Act. California has been ground zero for the campus free-speech crisis. Maybe now California can contribute to the solution.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He can be reached at

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Potemkin Universities

Potemkin Universities
 by Victor Davis Hanson, National Review

Behind the facades, universities have broken faith with a once-noble legacy of free inquiry. 

College campuses still appear superficially to be quiet, well-landscaped refuges from the bustle of real life.

But increasingly, their spires, quads, and ivy-covered walls are facades. They are now no more about free inquiry and unfettered learning than were the proverbial Potemkin fake buildings put up to convince the traveling Russian czarina Catherine II that her impoverished provinces were prosperous.

The university faces crises almost everywhere of student debt, university finances, free expression, and the very quality and value of a university education.

Take free speech. Without freedom of expression, there can be no university.

But if the recent examples at Berkeley, Claremont, Middlebury, and Yale are any indication, there is nothing much left to the idea of a free and civilized exchange of different ideas. At most universities, if a scheduled campus lecturer expressed scholarly doubt about the severity of man-caused global warming and the efficacy of its government remedies, or questioned the strategies of the Black Lives Matter movement, or suggested that sex is biologically determined rather than socially constructed, she likely would either be disinvited or have her speech physically disrupted. Campuses often now mimic the political street violence of the late Roman Republic.

Campus radicals have achieved what nuclear strategists call deterrence: Faculty and students now know precisely which speech will endanger their careers and which will earn them rewards.

The terrified campus community makes the necessary adjustments. As with the German universities of the 1930s, faculty keep quiet or offer politically correct speech through euphemisms. Toadies thrive; mavericks are hounded.

Shortchanged students collectively owe more than $1 trillion in student-loan debt — a sum that cannot be paid back by ill-prepared and often unemployed graduates.

Test scores have plummeted. Too many college students were never taught the basic referents of liberal education. Most supposedly aware, hip, and politically engaged students can’t identify the Battle of Gettysburg or the Parthenon, or explain the idea of compounded interest.

Many students simply cannot do the work that was routinely assigned in the past. In response, as proverbially delicate “snowflakes,” they insist that they are traumatized and can only find remedy in laxer standards, gut courses, and faculty deference.

“Studies” activist courses too often are therapeutic. They are neither inductive nor Socratic, and they rarely teach facts, methods and means of learning without insisting on predesignated conclusions. Instead, the student should leave the class with proper group-think and ideological race/class/gender fervor of the professor — a supposed new recruit for the larger progressive project.

Universities talk loudly of exploitation in America — in the abstract. But to address societal inequality, university communities need only look at how their own campuses operate. Part-time faculty with Ph.D.s are paid far less than tenured full professors for often teaching the same classes — and thus subsidize top-heavy administrations.

Graduate teaching assistantships, internships, and mentorships are designed to use inexpensive or free labor under the protocols of the medieval guild.

One reason that tuition is sky-high is because behind the facade of “trigger warnings,” “safe spaces,” and “culture appropriation” are costly legions of deputy associate provosts, special assistants to the dean, and race/class/gender “senior strategists” and facilitators (usually former faculty who no longer teach).

Few admit that a vastly expanding and politically correct administrative industry reflects a massive shift of resources away from physics, humanities, or biology — precisely the courses that non-traditional students need to become competitive.

One of the great mysteries of American life is nontransparent university admissions. No one knows quite how alumni legacies, deference to college athletics, or poorly defined affirmative action and haphazard diversity criteria actually operate. 

At the California State University system — the nation’s largest — nearly 40 percent of incoming students need remediation in math and English after failing basic competency tests. Universities are now scrambling to offer university credit for what are in truth remedial high-school courses, apparently to prevent eager (but entirely unprepared) students from hurt feelings when they butt up against the reality of college classes.

Careerist university administrators more often make the university change to accommodate the student rather than asking the incoming student to prepare to accommodate the time-honored university.

The results are watered-down classes, grade inflation, and student frustration and anger upon learning that entering college is not quite the same as graduating from college.

The way to ensure student confidence and self-reliance is not through identity-politics courses that emphasize racial, sexual, and religious fault lines. Instead, only classes ensuring that students are well trained in writing, speaking, computing, and inductive thinking will give assuredness of achievement — and, with it, self-confidence.

Apart from the sciences and the professional schools, campuses are a bubble of unearned self-congratulation — clueless that they have broken faith with a once-noble legacy of free inquiry and have lost the respect of most Americans.

The now-melodramatic university has become a classical tragedy. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A history lesson playing out on too many American campuses

A history lesson playing out on too many American campuses
Col. Mike walker, USMC (retired)

Calling people Nazis and fascists is popular sport of late. We should not take it lightly. A far-left American movement known as Antifa is now systematically attacking free speech (and especially conservative speech) across America’s university and college campuses.
The abbreviation “Antifa” -- like “Nazi” -- comes directly from interwar Germany: the Antifascist Action (Antifaschistische Aktion or Antifa) that was the German Communist Party’s equivalent of the Nationalist Socialist’s Brown Shirts/Storm Troopers (Sturmabteilung or SA). By 1930, the Nazi's and communists were the two largest German parties and worked TOGETHER to destroy democracy in Germany in preparation for the final showdown. 
The communists waged divisive class warfare to establish one-party rule and state ownership of the economy. The Nazis and fascists sought to unify the nation through the persecution of “enemies of the state” while seeking one-party rule and governmental control over (not state ownership of) the economy.
The future, as the interwar radicals saw it, was an ultimate socialist struggle between communism and fascism. Americans have forgotten that.
By the way, fascism is not the opposite of communism. They are two peas from the same rotten socialist pod. The antithesis of radical socialism is libertarianism.
Here is some more history that we have forgotten to our own peril:
The two radical socialist movements (communism and nationalist socialism) of the 1920s and 1930s held in utter contempt liberal democracy. The communist and Nazi/fascist movements abhorred limited government, free market economies and personal liberties such as free speech. To them, all liberal democracies were failures and, to use Trotsky’s term, destined for the dustbin of history.
To understand just how alluring fascism was read this:
6 June 1919 Manifesto of the Italian Fascist Struggle
Italians! Here is the program of a genuinely Italian movement. It is revolutionary because it is anti-dogmatic, strongly innovative and against prejudice.
For the political problem:
We demand:
a) Universal suffrage polled on a regional basis, with proportional representation and voting and electoral office eligibility for women.
b) A minimum age for the voting electorate of 18 years; That for the office holders at 25 years.
c) The abolition of the Senate.
d) The convocation of a National Assembly for a three-years duration, for which its primary responsibility will be to form a constitution of the State.
e) The formation of a National Council of experts for labor, for industry, for transportation, for the public health, for communications, etc. Selections to be made from the collective professionals or of tradesmen with legislative powers, and elected directly to a General Commission with ministerial powers.
For the social problems:
We demand:
a) The quick enactment of a law of the State sanctions that an eight-hour workday for all workers.
b) A minimum wage.
c) The participation of workers' Representatives in the functions of industry commissions.
d) To show the same confidence in the labor unions (that evidence to be technically and morally worthy) as is given to industry executives or public servants.
e) The rapid and complete systemization of the railways and of all the transport industries.
f) A necessary modification of the insurance laws to invalidate the minimum retirement age; we propose to lower it from 65 to 55 years of age.
For the military problem:
We demand:
a) The institution of a national militia with a short period of service for training and exclusively defensive responsibilities.
b) The nationalization of all the arms and explosives factories.
c) A national policy intended to peacefully further the Italian national cultures in the world.
For the financial problem:
We demand:
a) A strong progressive tax on capital that will truly expropriate a portion of all wealth.
b) The seizure of all the possessions of the religious congregations and the abolition of all the bishoprics, which constitute an enormous liability on the Nation and on the privileges of the poor.
c) The revision of all military contracts and the seizure of 85 percent of the profits therein.
I may not be the sharpest mind but in my experience I have never met a Republican or a conservative who would ever sign on to a fascist agenda demanding control over both civil governance and the economy by an all-powerful national government. I would also go so far as to say that the only people I have ever met that endorse every aspect of the manifesto above are on the far-left. 
In that sense, the future is back to the 1930s: Radical socialism still has two branches (fascism and communism) and both hold free-market, free speech, liberal democratic principles in utter contempt and will use violence to destroy them.
But a funny thing happened on the radical socialist road to a brave new world: Both nationalist socialism and communism failed badly and those plucky liberal democracies grew stronger and better than ever.
The ANTIFA failed then and will fail again -- even on America's college campuses.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Obama Is America’s Version of Stanley Baldwin

Obama Is America’s Version of Stanley Baldwin
Victor Davis Hanson, National Review

Both leaders put their successors in a dangerous geopolitical position.

Last year, President Obama assured the world that “we are living in the most peaceful, prosperous, and progressive era in human history,” and that “the world has never been less violent.”

Translated, those statements meant that active foreign-policy volcanoes in China, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and the Middle East would probably not blow up on what little was left of Obama’s watch.

Obama is the U.S. version of Stanley Baldwin, the suave, three-time British prime minister of the 1920s and 1930s. Baldwin’s last tenure (1935–1937) coincided with the rapid rise of aggressive German, Italian, and Japanese Fascism.

Baldwin was a passionate spokesman for disarmament. He helped organize peace conferences. He tirelessly lectured on the need for pacifism. He basked in the praise of his good intentions. 

Baldwin assured Fascists that he was not rearming Britain. Instead, he preached that the deadly new weapons of the 20th century made war so unthinkable that it would be almost impossible for it to break out.

Baldwin left office when the world was still relatively quiet. But his appeasement and pacifism had sown the seeds for a global conflagration soon to come.

Obama, the Nobel peace laureate and former president, resembles Baldwin. Both seemed to believe that war breaks out only because of misunderstandings that reflect honest differences. Therefore, tensions between aggressors and their targets can be remedied by more talk, international agreements, goodwill, and concessions.

Ideas such as strategic deterrence were apparently considered by both Baldwin and Obama to be Neanderthal, judging from Baldwin’s naÏve efforts to ask Hitler not to rearm or annex territory, and Obama’s “lead from behind” foreign policy and his pledge never to “do stupid sh**” abroad.

Aggressors clearly assumed that Obama’s assurances were green lights to further their own agendas without consequences.

Iran routinely threatened U.S. Navy ships, even taking ten American sailors into custody early last year. Obama issued various empty deadlines to Iran to cease enriching uranium before concluding a 2015 deal that allowed the Iranians to continue working their centrifuges. Iran was freed from crippling economic sanctions. And Iran quietly received $400 million in cash (in the dead of night) for the release of American hostages.

All that can be said about the Iran deal is that Obama’s concessions likely ensured he would leave office with a non-nuclear Iran soon to get nuclear weapons on someone else’s watch. 

Obama green-lighted the Syrian disaster by issuing a red line over the use of chemical weapons and then not enforcing it. When Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad called Obama’s bluff, Obama did nothing other than call on Russian president Vladimir Putin to beg Assad to stop killing civilians with chemical weapons.

Nearly five years after Obama issued his 2012 red line to Syria, and roughly a half-million dead later, Assad remains in power, some 2 million Middle Eastern refugees have overrun Europe, and Assad is still gassing his own citizens with the very chemical agents that the Obama administration had boasted were removed.

Obama’s reset policy with Russia advanced the idea that George W. Bush had unduly polarized Putin by overreacting to Russian aggression in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. But Obama’s concessions and promises to be flexible helped turn a wary but opportunistic Putin into a bold aggressor, assured that he would never have to account for his belligerence.

Middle Eastern terrorism? Obama assured us that al-Qaeda was “on the run” and that the Islamic State was a “jayvee” organization. His policy of dismissing the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism,” along with his administration’s weird assertions that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was “largely secular” and that “jihad” did not mean using force to spread Islam, earned the U.S. contempt instead of support. 

Russia and China launched cyberattacks on the U.S. without worry of consequences. Both countries increased their defense budgets while ours shrank. China built artificial island bases in the South China Sea to intimidate its neighbors, while Russia absorbed Crimea.

North Korea built more and better missiles. Almost weekly, it threatened its neighbors and crowed that it would soon nuke its critics, the American West Coast included.

In other words, as was true of Europe between 1933 and 1939, the world grew more dangerous and reached the brink of war. And like Stanley Baldwin, Obama was never willing to make a few unpopular decisions to rearm and face down aggressors in order not to be forced to make far more dangerous and unpopular decisions later on.

Baldwin was popular when he left office, largely because he had proclaimed peace, but he had helped set the table for the inevitable conflict to be inherited by his successors, Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill.

Obama likewise ignored rumbling volcanoes, and now they are erupting on his successor’s watch.

In both cases, history was kind while Baldwin and Obama were in office — but not so after they left.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author, most recently, of The Savior Generals. You can reach him by e-mailing © 2017 Tribune Media Services, Inc. 

Read more at:

Saturday, April 08, 2017

The Situation in Syria

The Situation in Syria
Col Mike Walker, USMC (retired)

Few realize just how fragile Assad’s rule over Syria is today. Many felt his victory at Aleppo in December 2016 meant that the end of the war was in sight – that Assad was finally and firmly on the road to victory. But that victory, when analyzed closely, displays the full weakness of Assad and the reason is simple: 

Assad did not win the battle of Aleppo.

The battle for Aleppo was decided by the fighting of Hezbollah, the military infrastructure provided by Iran and Russia's logistical support and airpower. Take those three factors out of the equation and Assad would have lost the battle and that explains why he cannot win the war. 

Assad no longer has sufficient security forces to both defeat his enemies and occupy the majority of the country that remains deeply hostile to rule.

That presents his allies with a deep quandary: Is the bulk of Hezbollah's fighters along with thousands of revolutionary guards from Iran's Quds Force to remain in Syria indefinitely in order to keep Assad in power?

They know better than anyone that even if they “win” in a conventional sense, the Assad regime will collapse as soon as the military forces of Russia, Hezbollah and Iran withdraw.

The West and other powers in the region may be rightly criticized for having no clear vision over how to proceed in Syria but the other side (Assad, Hezbollah, Iran and Russia) is stuck on the horns of an irresolvable dilemma.

After over 400,000 Syrians have been killed, over a million more wounded and six million turned into refugees, the civil war rages on.

To help understand how this came to pass a short timeline is provided.

The Syrian War Timeline

  • Spring-summer 2011, peaceful protests bring Assad’s regime to the brink of collapse. Iran, Russia and Hezbollah pledge to support Assad.
  • August 2011, Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) forms the al Nusra Front in Syria.
  • Early 2012, Assad orders in the army and air force to crush the opposition. Civil war ensues.
  • July 2012, al Nusra seizes border crossings with Iraq. Hezbollah and Iran’s Quds Force send military advisors to Assad.
  • September 2012, Assad’s troops shell the Kurdish Quarter in Aleppo. Syrian Kurds enter the war against Assad.
  • January 2013, Assad regime again teeters on the edge of collapse.
  • 6 March 2013, Raqqa falls into rebel hands with help from al Nusra Front.
  • April 2013, al Baghdadi breaks from al Nusra and forms the Islamic State (IS). Hezbollah sends in 4,000 fighters from Lebanon to bolster Assad.
  • September 2013, Western-backed Syrian opposition engages in heavy fighting with the Islamic State – a three-way civil war begins.
  • January 2014, Raqqa declared the capital of the Islamic State’s caliphate.
  • Spring-summer 2014, IS launches major offensives in Syria and Iraq. In northern Iraq, only the Iraqi Kurds hold firm against the IS invasion.
  • Throughout 2015, IS expands internationally (like al Qaeda in 1998).
  • Summer 2015, Assad again is on the ropes, looks likely to fall from power.
  • July 2015, Iran nuclear deal reached. Quds Force head Qasim Solemani heads to Moscow with a plan to save Assad that requires Russian intervention (Assad is not invited to the talks).
  • August-September 2015, Assad continues to lose ground.
  • 30 September 2015, Russia enters the war.
  • October 2015, thousands of Quds Force reinforcements begin to arrive in Syria.
  • 16 January 2016, Iran sanctions lifted. Cash flows into Iran and funds supporting Quds Force operations in Syria increase accordingly.
  • 15 March 2016, Russia announces it will withdraw from Syria but the Assad regime is too weak to allow it.
  • May 2016, Syrian Kurdish forces begin attack on Raqqa but fail to take the city.
  • 25 June 2016, Syrian army along with Iranian and Hezbollah forces begin offensive against Aleppo (then Syria’s largest city and rebel stronghold).
  • July 2016, last rebel supply route into Aleppo shut down by Assad and his allies.
  • September 2016, rebels lose control over western Aleppo.
  • October 2016, final rebel counteroffensive to break the siege of Aleppo fails.
  • November 2016, Syrian Kurds launch second attack on Raqqa. After minor gains, the attack halts.
  • 22 December 2016, Aleppo falls to Assad and his allies.
  • 14 February 2017, Iran’s Quds Force commander Qasim Solemani makes another trip to Moscow to plan out the next phase of the war.
  • 9 March 2017, US Marines with heavy artillery arrive at the Raqqa battlefield to assist US Special Forces and the Syrian Kurds.
  • 4 April 2017, Assad drops air-delivered sarin gas munitions on Idlib province (SW of Aleppo). All the casualties are civilians, including dozens of children.
  • 6 April 2017, the United States strikes the airfield used to launch the chemical attack.

Thursday, April 06, 2017


Nice dew, Chuck!
This is what happens when you deal with adults. What did you expect?


John Hinderaker, Powerline
While nearly everyone has been saying that Judge Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation was inevitable, I was worried. The Democrats’ filibuster of Gorsuch, a thoroughly noncontroversial nominee, seemed to make little sense unless they thought that a handful of Republican senators wouldn’t go along with the Harry Reid option, leaving the nominee stranded with fewer than 60 votes. 
Thankfully, that didn’t happen. The Senate voted today along party lines to do away with the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. All Republicans joined in, to make the vote 52-48. The New York Times is regretful:
Senate Democrats in 2013 first changed the rules of the Senate to block Republican filibusters of presidential nominees to lower courts and to government positions, but they left the filibuster in place for Supreme Court nominees, an acknowledgment of the sacrosanct nature of the high court.
Actually, it was an acknowledgement that they didn’t need it at that point. Plus, Republicans have never engaged in a partisan filibuster of a Democrat’s Supreme Court nominee.
“This is the latest escalation in the left’s never-ending judicial war, the most audacious yet,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said after describing Democratic opposition in the past to Judge Robert H. Bork and Justice Clarence Thomas. “And it cannot and it will not stand. There cannot be two sets of standards: one for the nominees of the Democratic president and another for the nominee of a Republican president.”
That is exactly right. McConnell is the hero of this battle. And now the Democrats won’t have the filibuster to fall back on, if and when President Trump makes his second Supreme Court nomination. That nominee might not be more controversial than Judge Gorsuch, but he can’t be any less so.