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SEPTEMBER 6-7,  2023

LATEST EDUCATION NEWS:  Dear Harvard is in the news again, but for the wrong reasons.  From Daily Mail: 

Harvard University has been ranked the worst school for free speech in the U.S. - with the Ivy League institution being awarded zero points out of a possible 100. 

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression releases a similar list of rankings for American institutions of higher education every year. 

For 2023, Harvard - which has never performed well by FIRE's standards - was dubbed an 'abysmal' place for free speech.

Despite being arguably the most elite academic institution in the country, Harvard's 0-point score was a full 11 points behind the next worst school on the list, fellow Ivy League University of Pennsylvania.

FIRE added that Harvard's result was 'generous' and that its actual score by its calculations was less than zero at -10.69.

The school's score tanked for a number of reasons, not the least of which being the nine professors and researchers at Harvard who faced calls to be punished or fired in the last few years based on things they'd said or written.

Seven of the nine were ultimately disciplined.

The director of polling and analytics at FIRE, Sean Stevens, told the New York Post that Harvard has consistently ranked among the bottom tier of schools on the list, but was surprised a school was able to 'fall below zero.'

'They've had so many scholar sanctions,' he said.

A school's score is calculated based on factors like how strong its policies in favor of free speech are and how many professors, students, and visitors to campus have been targeted by school authorities for their publicly held positions.

At Harvard, in the last five years, some of the seven free speech incidents have included the school's decision to revoke conservative activist Kyle Kashuv's acceptance because of racist comments he made on social media as a 16-year-old, for which he apologized.

Since 2019, Harvard has sanctioned four scholars, three of whom the institution has gone on to fire.

David Kane, a former government professor at the university, was fired after hundreds of students signed a petition for his removal because of an op-ed he wrote about his alma mater's acceptance criteria and claimed that '90 percent-plus of the Black students at Williams would not have been admitted were it not for their Blackness.' 

Points are awarded if administrators at the school defend the rights of those whose speech has been threatened.

The score is also impacted based on the results of a poll conducted by FIRE in conjunction with the College Pulse about overall student sentiment surrounding free speech.

Harvard's shocking position comes despite some 100 of its professors uniting earlier this year to establish the Council on Academic Freedom to defend open inquiry on campus.

'Many, many people are being threatened with - and actually put through - disciplinary processes for their exercise of free speech and academic freedom,' said Harvard Law School professor Janet Halley. 'We are in a crisis time right now.'

Harvard and Penn were the only two Ivy League schools to round out the bottom five of the 248-school list. They were followed by the University of South Carolina, Georgetown University, and New York's Fordham University.

Columbia University in New York City took the top spot for worst school for free speech last year, though this year it ranked 214th out of 248.

COMMENT:    You can see the complete FIRE ranking list here.  Harvard has the honor to be the only college ranked "abysmal."   But other so-called "elite" colleges are close by. 

You'd think some of these wealthy, privileged, institutions of "higher learning" would want to do something about their free-speech problems.  But, just as General Motors knew it would sell lots of cars before the Japanese entered the market, prestige colleges know they'll get huge numbers of applications and donations simply because of their names.  Students applying to Harvard probably never give free speech a second thought.

It's possible things could change.  There appears to be a serious re-thinking about the value of higher education among the parents of America.  It's a function of the market.  College has become so expensive that more and more people are demanding to know its value.  Will the scrutiny lead to Harvard and others cleaning up their acts.  Maybe.

September 7, 2023       Permalinks

 

KAMALA, THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY'S BURDEN:  The Democratic worries about Joe Biden are obvious enough.  And more and more Democrats are stating them publicly.  But there's a very special worry, and her name is Kamala Harris.  She may be Biden's greatest political life insurance policy.  If the Dems would dump Biden, they get Harris.  That thought does not leave the Democrats jumping for joy.  From pundit and pollster Nate Silver: 

In response to Monday’s newsletter on the electoral and substantive risks posed to Democrats by Biden’s age, commenter Brian Want said something that I’ve thought about a lot too:

I wonder how much of the concern about Biden would be alleviated if he had a different Vice President. I understand that, for political reasons, he cannot replace Harris. And of course his age would be an issue no matter what. But if she had better favorables, it might be easier for skeptical Dems and hesitant independents to assuage their worries by saying to themselves, "Well, if Biden dies, we are in good or possibly even better hands."

Unfortunately, I don't think many people beyond the fervent Dem base feel that way about the ticket. It also makes me wonder if/when we've ever had a VP who was notably more popular than their president.

Leaving aside the question about whether a VP has ever been more popular than their president, it’s remarkable how little enthusiasm there is about the prospect of a Harris candidacy or presidency. I’m not particularly well-connected among Democratic Party establishment types — it’s just not my crowd. But between the conversations I have had with people in those circles and my “normie D” friends, I don’t think I ever heard a single person advocate that Biden should settle for one term and let Harris run instead. Hell, even in her column that did advocate for Biden to step down, New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg — who I find to be a consistently thoughtful reader of progressive sentiment — conspicuously mentioned that the alternative didn’t have to be Harris, citing Harris’s poor polling.

How much is the perception that Harris would be an electoral liability grounded in reality? One always has to be concerned that perceptions of “electability” can be skewed against women candidates, an idea that was probably reinforced among Democrats by Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016.3

Still, Harris fares meaningfully worse against Trump than Biden does in polls.

COMMENT:  Read the whole thing.  It's solid analysis.  Look at the situation we're in:  The Republican Party is led by a larger-than-life former president who could probably win a solid victory but is facing more than 90 legal charges.  The Democrats are led by an obviously fragile president who most voters think shouldn't even run again.  And...his logical successor is what Hollywood used to call "box office poison."

Ain't politics grand?

September 7, 2023       Permalinks

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER 4-5,  2023

POLITICAL THREAT TO BIDEN:  The Dems depend on a particular percentage of the "minority" vote to win elections.  But what would happen if that percentage erodes?  That is exactly what is occurring now.  We can feel Democrats reaching for the panic button.  From The New York Times via Yahoo News: 

President Joe Biden is underperforming among nonwhite voters in New York Times/Siena College national polls over the last year, helping to keep the race close in a hypothetical rematch against former President Donald Trump.

On average, Biden leads Trump by just 53% to 28% among registered nonwhite voters in a compilation of Times/Siena polls from 2022 and 2023, which includes over 1,500 nonwhite respondents.

The results represent a marked deterioration in Biden’s support compared with 2020, when he won more than 70% of nonwhite voters. If he’s unable to revitalize this support by November 2024, it will continue a decade-long trend of declining Democratic strength among voters considered to be the foundation of the party.

Biden’s tepid support among these voters appears to be mostly responsible for the close race in early national surveys, which show Biden and Trump all but tied among registered voters even as Biden runs as well among white voters as he did four years ago.

With more than a year to go until the election, there’s plenty of time for Biden to reenergize his former supporters. Indeed, the Times/Siena data suggests Biden could approach — though not match — his 2020 standing simply by reclaiming voters who say they backed him in the last election.

But the possibility that his standing will remain beneath the already depressed levels of the last presidential election should not be discounted. Democrats have lost ground among nonwhite voters in almost every election over the last decade, even as racially charged fights over everything from a border wall to kneeling during the national anthem might have been expected to produce the exact opposite result. Weak support for Biden could easily manifest itself as low turnout — as it did in 2022 — even if many young and less engaged voters ultimately do not vote for Trump.

COMMENT:  Read the rest.  This is a thorough report.  However, I cannot help but being amused by the surprise expressed by pundits at the decline in the Democratic minority vote.  Could it be, could it possibly be, that the pundits are simply wrong in their understanding of how minority citizens think?  Could it be that said pundits have listened too much to college professors and professional activists, and not enough to the voters themselves? 

Yeah, it could be.  Maybe it's time to have some talks with black mothers and Hispanic families.  Find out how it feels to be a black mother who's afraid to let her child go out and play.  How can that mother vote for a party that believes in defunding the police?  Talk to the right people.  Ask the right questions.

September 5, 2023       Permalinks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 "What you see is news.  What you know is background.  What you feel is opinion."
    - Lester Markel, late Sunday editor
      of The New York Times.


"Political correctness does not legislate tolerance; it only organizes hatred. "
     - Jacques Barzun

"Against stupidity the gods themselves struggle in vain."
     - Schiller

 

 

 

 



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