[guest post by Dana]
Let’s get started!
First news item
Free speech is in jeopardy yet again at Yale University, where law school administrators met with a student multiple times to pressure him to apologize for language he used in an email that offended some of his classmates. The incident illustrates how university officials can seek to intimidate students into silence and conformity through obscure procedures and veiled threats of punishment…
Even if Eldik and Cosgrove privately intended their serial meetings to be part of a voluntary and informal conflict resolution procedure, their conduct was more than just an attempt to persuade or convince. It was an abuse of power and a clear departure from what Yale boasts are its core values. The university’s excuse that no formal investigation occurred is woefully inadequate.
Perhaps Eldik and Cosgrove meant to refer only to destructive actions others might take if Colbert refused to prostrate himself and utter a forced apology. But to the ears of any reasonable student, some of these remarks were at best negligent, and at worst veiled threats. Eldik and Cosgrove were, at best, exceedingly vague about the process the student was undergoing and what consequences he might face if he failed to cooperate. Their fleeting assurances that the process wasn’t adjudicatory or punitive became less and less reliable. Listen, you can do whatever you want. And by the way, that’s a nice legal career you’ve got ahead of you. Would be a real shame if something happened to it.
The fact that Colbert’s speech was protected seemed to be of no concern to Eldik and Cosgrove — or of much less concern than placating Colbert’s angry classmates and avoiding bad publicity.
Second news item
Multiple major Democratic donors, as well as a political action committee run by John Bolton, have given money to Republican Rep. Liz Cheney’s reelection bid as she has positioned herself as the main GOP critic of former President Donald Trump…
Team Cheney, Liz Cheney’s joint fundraising committee, received donations in the third quarter from Ron Conway, a longtime Democratic donor and angel investor, and John Pritzker, a member of the wealthy Pritzker family. He is the cousin of J.B. Pritzker, the Democratic governor of Illinois, and Penny Pritzker, former U.S. Commerce secretary.
Conway has given his biggest donations to Democrats, while contributing to a select few Republican-led efforts. He was one of President Joe Biden’s top campaign bundlers during the last election cycle. Pritzker has a net worth of over $2 billion and has repeatedly given to Democrats over the years.
Among the donors to Liz Cheney this past quarter: Mitt and Ann Romney
— Alex Isenstadt (@politicoalex) October 15, 2021
Third news item
The former president’s threat drew winces among GOP operatives and U.S. senators gathered for a donor retreat for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) in Palm Beach, Fla., this week. Many still blame Trump for the loss of two U.S. Senate seats in Georgia in runoff elections early this year, saying his false claims of fraudulent ballots kept people from coming to the polls.
“It gives everyone cold sweats over the Georgia situation and the prospect he could have some impact again,” said one top party strategist, who like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations…
In a private speech at the retreat Thursday, Trump cast himself as the GOP’s savior, saying he had brought the party back from the brink of disaster and helped Republicans hold seats on Capitol Hill — failing to mention that the party lost the White House and control of both the House and Senate under his presidency.
“It was a dying party, I’ll be honest. Now we have a very lively party,” he said, to a room of senators, donors and lobbyists, according to a recording of the event obtained by The Washington Post, before boasting of all the endorsements and telephone town halls he had done in the 2020 cycle.
Fourth news item
A week after Mayor de Blasio announced plans to scrap the city’s gifted and talented program in public schools, his likely successor Eric Adams said he’d expand the existing program significantly.
Instead of having families sign up for gifted and talented tests, which typically occurs when children are four, he would instead make the tests the norm, with an option for parents to opt-out.
He also vowed to expand the program to under-served neighborhoods and said he’d offer the test more frequently and not just when kids are four.
“We should allow all children to opt-out of taking the test. That’s number one,” he said Friday morning on CNN. “Number two, we need to expand. The gifted and talented program was isolated to only certain communities. That created segregation in our classroom. And then we need to test our children throughout their educational experience — not only at age four, age six, age 10 — let’s continue to test them as well.”
Fifth news item
Former Today anchor Katie Couric admits that she purposefully edited out comments that the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made in their 2016 interview.
In the interview — which was published by Yahoo News, where Couric was global news anchor at the time — she asked Ginsburg about then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others who refused to stand during the playing of the national anthem before NFL games. Replied Ginsburg: “I think it’s really dumb of them.”
“Would I arrest them for doing it? No,” Ginsburg elaborated. “I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”
Couric then asked, “But when it comes to these football players, you may find their actions offensive, but what you’re saying is, it’s within their rights to exercise those actions?”
“Yes,” said Ginsburg. “If they want to be stupid, there’s no law that should be preventive. If they want to be arrogant, there’s no law that prevents them from that. What I would do is strongly take issue with the point of view that they are expressing when they do that.”
Couric writes that the day after their sit-down, the Supreme Court’s head of public affairs emailed her, saying Ginsburg had “misspoken” and asking that those comments not be in her pending story.
Couric notes that she asked a fellow journalist what to do, and David Brooks, the New York Times columnist, advised her that Ginsburg may not have understood the question. Couric said she was conflicted because, as a Supreme Court Justice, Ginsburg’s thoughts were important for people to hear, but as a fan, she allowed her personal politics to influence her editing decision.
Whether one agrees with RBG’s criticism or not, the last thing she sounds is confused about the question. On the contrary…
Sixth news item
President Joe Biden on Friday said those who refuse subpoenas from the House select committee investigating the January 6 riot at the US Capitol should be prosecuted by the Justice Department.
Asked by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins what his message is to those who refuse subpoenas from the panel, Biden said, “I hope that the committee goes after them and holds them accountable.”
Pressed on whether he thinks those people should be prosecuted by the department, the President said, “I do, yes.”
“My Justice Department will make decisions based on the facts,” Biden told TIME in an interview in December before he was named Person of the Year with his Vice President Kamala Harris. “They’re the people’s lawyers; they’re not my lawyers. I’m never going to pick up the phone and say, “Pardon so-and-so,” or “Go out and prosecute so-and-so.”
Seventh news item
Beating someone one time for being a Christian might not be “religious persecution.” Jailing someone briefly for being a Christian might not be. Threatening once to punish someone if he returns to church might not be. Third Circuit: Sure, guys, but all three together maybe could be, right?
Eighth news item
…Donald Trump has been obsessed with challenging and changing election laws. Should he find himself back in the White House, his allies are hoping to turn that obsession into legislative action…[A]s talk of such a campaign has grown more concrete, so too has speculation over what type of agenda he’d actually pursue.
Some answers can be found in the work being done by America First Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank stacked with former Trump administration officials. Among the group’s 20 main policy priorities, which include trade, immigration and education, is promoting more comprehensive voter restrictions in the name of election integrity. Officials describe it as a priority.
Have a great weekend!