Monday, August 29, 2016

University Tells Incoming Class That "Trigger Warnings," "Safe Places" Are Incompatible With Academic Freedom

In a letter welcoming the Class of 2020, the University of Chicago's Dean of Students penned a letter that should be read by anyone who thinks college campuses should be about restricting what young men and women hear. NPR reports:
 Dear Class of 2020 student," the welcome letter from the school's Dean of Students John Ellison begins. It goes on to explain the university's commitment to freedom of expression and inquiry. Students "are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn without fear of censorship. 
 And that means the school "does not support so-called 'trigger warnings' " to alert students
of upcoming discussions or speakers that they might find offensive.  
 The University of Chicago won't cancel controversial speakers, and it "does not condone the creation of intellectual 'safe spaces' where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own."  
 Law professor Geoffrey Stone says the letter's intent was based on a report from a faculty committee he chaired on freedom of expression and academic freedom.  
 "This is really exciting," Stone says. "You're coming to an amazing institution."  
He says the University of Chicago has a long history of standing for those principles.  
 "We've been deeply committed to the notion that we're here to learn from one another and to learn from the world and to study things and to figure out the answers. And the best way to do that is to hear all sides of everything."
This is a great lesson from a university with a great reputation.  Increasingly the notion has taken root in liberal quarters that people have a right to be free of hearing ideas incompatible with their world view.  Nowhere has this nonsensical notion taken root than on college campuses where students often shout down conservative speakers if they can't get them disinvited altogether.  Your right to free speech does not include the right to stop others from speaking.

To read the entire letter click here.

To see a great book, from a former Democrat activist no less, on liberal attempts to suppress free speech, click here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Polls Show Trump Badly Trailing Republican Down Ballot Candidates

State polls are rolling in now and they demonstrate the stark reality that Donald Trump has little ability to attract Democratic-leaning voters while holding on to his GOP base.  In state after state, Trump badly lags behind Republican statewide candidates.  Let's look at some recent polls in battleground states:

Ohio (Monmouth) 
Clinton leads by 4
Portman (R) leads by 8
Swing:  12 points

Iowa (Quinnipiac)
Clinton and Trump are tied
Grassly (R) leads by 7
Swing:  7 points

New Hampshire (CBS)
Clinton leads by 9
Hassan (D) leads by 1
Swing:  8 points

North Carolina (NBC)
Clinton leads by 5
Ross (D) leads by 2
Swing:  3 points

Pennsylvania (Quinnipiac)
Clinton +9
McGinity +3
Swing:  6 points

And in what must be the biggest finger in the eye of Trump and his cult-like following:

Florida (NBC)
Clinton +5
Rubio (R) +6
Swing:  11 points

Although Indiana is not (yet) considered a battleground state, it stands out as an exception:

Indiana (Monmouth)
Trump +11
Holcomb (R) +1
Swing -10 points

I know my Democratic friends have trouble accepting it, but the fact Trump runs ahead of state-wide Republicans in Indiana might have to do with Govrnor MIke Pence on the ticket.  Thus far, the Pence selection seems to be the only thing Trump has not screwed up in the general election phase of his campaign.

At the end of the day, however, the unpopularity of Trump at the top of the ticket will doom many down ballot Republicans.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Evan Bayh Continues to Vote Illegally from Indianapolis Condo Where He Does Not Live

For years, Evan Bayh has used an Indianapolis condo assessed at just over $50,000 as his declared "residence" for voting even after leaving the Senate...all the while living in the Washington, DC suburbs.  CNN now reports that Bayh has twice been declared to be an "inactive" voter due to postcards addressed to the Indianapolis condo being returned as undeliverable because, well, he doesn't actually live there.
Election officials in Indiana have concluded that former Sen. Evan Bayh is an "inactive" voter in their state after they failed to confirm he lives in Indianapolis, creating a new problem for the Democrat as he mounts a late effort to win back his old Senate seat.According to records obtained by CNN, Bayh has been listed as an inactive voter twice
since leaving office -- once in July 2014 and the second time last week. 
Bayh has voted by absentee ballots in Indiana elections since leaving office, requesting those ballots be sent to his home and office addresses in Washington, the records show. (He voted in person in May, his office said.)
Perhaps more significantly, the inactive designation is only bound to intensify GOP accusations that the former senator had swiftly abandoned his state for Washington in his nearly six years since leaving office, only to come back to Indiana last month in a last-ditch effort to return to power.
The new revelations come just days aftear a CNN report showed Bayh consistently listing his two multi-million-dollar homes in Washington as his main places of residence, not his $53,000 condo in Indianapolis, contradicting his public claims that he "never left" the state after giving up his seat in 2011.
It is similar to the problems that dogged former Sen. Richard Lugar, the veteran Indiana Republican who lost his 2012 primary after he was sharply criticized for not owning a home in Indiana and for living in the Washington suburbs instead.
The fact is both Richard Lugar and Evan Bayh, and their family members, have on numerous occasions voted in Indiana using addresses that were clearly not their residences.  Every time they did so, they could have been prosecuted for a felony.  Yet they have been given a pass on prosecution while former Secretary of State Charlie White now has to live with multiple felonies for being accused of violating the law on a single occasion because he voted at his ex-wife house instead of the condo he had purchased, but arguably had not yet moved into.  Democrats and Republicans who engaged in the Charlie White lynching should be ashamed of themselves.   White deserves an apology.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Polls Show Trump, Republicans Facing Electoral Disaster in November

Polls released in the last couple weeks show the presidential race turning into a presidential route. Trump has fallen behind, in many cases far behind, in several key states.   As I predicted, the number of battleground states has increased not because Trump is putting blue states into play, but because his unpopularity and (correctly) perceived unfitness for office is giving the Democrat Hillary Clinton the chance to win traditionally red states.
Let's look at Hillary Clinton's lead as reflected in the Real Clear Politics average of polls in those states: Pennsylvania 9.2, Michigan 6.6, Ohio 2.6, Florida 3.6, Iowa .4, North Carolina 2.0, Wisconsin, 9.4, Virginia 10.0, New Hampshire 8.2, Georgia .3 Colorado 11, Nevada 2.3

In only two of the battleground states is Trump above water: Missouri 5.3 and Arizona .3. I think once newer polling in Missouri comes in, it will show Trump's margin in that state decreasing.

Today a survey by Public Policy Polling shows Trump with only a 6 point lead in Texas. I fully expect, despite the presence of Indiana Governor Mike Pence on the ballot, that Indiana will be in play come November.

I have been tracking statewide polling for months to see how Trump is faring against Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's performance in 2012. Trump is beating Romney's numbers in 14 states, while Trump's polling numbers lags behind Romney's in 24 states.

I still harbor doubt that Trump will want his legacy to be that of running an incompetent campaign that leads to a landslide loss.  I think there is a significant chance - today I will put it at 35% - that Trump drops out of the race. Departing the race would allow him to avoid becoming one of the biggest political LOSERS in American history, while claiming that he would have done better than his successor. In walking away, Trump would likely blame the media and talk about how "Crooked Hillary" and turncoat Republicans were conspiring to rig the election against him. Don't expect Trump to offer any proof. Just accusations. That's the Trump way.

Here is the thing though. Any replacement candidate fielded by Republicans (assuming they can navigate state ballot access laws to replace Trump on the ballot) immediately becomes competitive with extraordinarily unpopular Hillary Clinton.   

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Former Marine Loses Religious Freedom Case Involving Biblical Phrase

Fox News reports:
Monifa Sterling
A former Marine court-martialed in part for refusing to remove a biblical phrase from her workspace lost her appeal on Wednesday, when a federal court concluded the orders from her superiors did not constitute a "substantial burden" on her First Amendment rights. 
Monifa Sterling, who was a lance corporal stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., was court-martialed for various offenses relating to separate incidents – including disrespecting a superior officer, disobeying lawful orders, and failing to report to an assigned duty.
But the part of the case that fueled her court challenge involved orders to remove a personalized version of the biblical phrase from Isiah 54:17: "No weapon formed against thee shall prosper." 
Sterling taped the verses in three spots on her workspace. Court testimony said Sterling's superior repeatedly ordered her to remove the signs -- and when she refused, trashed them. 
In its 4-1 opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces turned away Sterling’s case. 
At issue is the extent a federal law on religious freedom protects members of the Armed Forces. The intersection of free speech on government property, especially within a military context, has made this case closely watched by a number of advocates on both sides of the debate 
"This is absolutely outrageous," said Kelly Shackelford, president of First Liberty Institute. "A few judges decided they could strip a Marine of her constitutional rights just because they didn't think her beliefs were important enough to be protected."...In a dissent, Judge Kevin Ohlson said, "while the military's asserted interest in good order and discipline surely deserves great deference, it does not demand reflexive devotion." 
The key dispute for the judges was interpreting a 1993 federal law known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, requiring the government to seek the "least burdensome" and narrowly tailored means for any law that interferes with religious convictions.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Second Poll Shows Trump Trailing in Georgia; Will Trump Leave the Race if Historic Defeat is on the Horizon?

Shock waves reverberated through the political world with the release last week of an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll late last week showing Republican Donald Trump losing Georgia by 4 points. Georgia hasn't voted Republican for President since 1992 when the state was won by former Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton.  Before that you have to go back to Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter for a Democratic presidential election victory in the state.  

Now comes the release of a second poll showing Trump trailing in the Georgia, this time by 7 points. The poll, conducted by JM Analytics, included Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein.  The AJC poll also included a multiple party candidate field question.   Clinton's lead fell from 4 to 3 points in that poll when the additional candidates are included.  That is consistent with virtually every poll which shows Hillary Clinton's support dropping slightly when additional candidate options are provided.

I have long argued that the focus on Trump switching blue states to red is misplaced.  The New York businessman's real "legacy" to the Republican Party will be flipping many states from red to blue. I think there is a very good chance that Indiana will be one of those states come November.  I think
Hillary Clinton's electoral vote will pass 350 and may go as high as 400.

Finally, one thing to watch out in the days ahead is the very real possibility Trump will leave the race. If Trump is headed toward an historic defeat, one that will damage his reputation and his future business interests, he may well choose to drop out saying that "Crooked Hillary" was "rigging" the election."  (He appears to be already laying the groundwork to that end.)  Letting a successor take the "L" would allow Trump to claim to his cult-like followers that he could have won the Presidency if he chose to stay in the race.  Most certainly his followers will believe him.

As a side note, the 168 member Republican National Committee would meet to select another nominee should Trump drop out.  (As an alternative, the RNC could call another convention of the thousands of Republican delegates to replace the nominee...not likely.)  News accounts make it sound like an easy process. I question that.  State ballot access laws govern the placement of candidates, including federal candidates, on the ballot.  I am not so sure that a new presidential candidate could simply be substituted within the last 60 days on all 50 state ballots.  Needless to say, there could be considerable litigation involved in the process.

Friday, August 5, 2016

City Councilor Zach Adamson Won't Face Charges

The Indianapolis Star reports:
A special prosecutor has decided charges  are not warranted against City-County Councilman Zach Adamson after a 19-year-old man accused him of rape.
“From the beginning, we have maintained that the allegations against me were false,” Adamson said in a statement. “We are pleased that after 7 weeks of extensive investigation by the police, they have come to the same conclusion.”
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tami Napier of Marshall County said she spent about a week reviewing information police had gathered, listening to interviews and conferring with detectives in the case.
“I determined criminal charges were not merited based on the information we had,” she said.
Good to hear. I have had many interactions with Zach over the years and consider him a friend despite our political differences. (He is often wrong on policy issues while I am always right.) As I wrote before, we have to assume people are innocent until proven guilty when facing these types of accusations. Just because accusations are of a sexual nature, doesn't mean the "victim" is telling the truth.  Sometimes those making the accusation are lying, for whatever reason.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Obama Adminstration Secretly Sent Money to Iran as Iran Released Hostages

The Wall Street Journal reports:
The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran, according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward.
Wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, according to these officials. The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland, they said.
The money represented the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration reached with Iran to resolve a decades-old dispute over a failed arms deal signed just before the 1979 fall of Iran’s last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
The settlement, which resolved claims before an international tribunal in The Hague, also coincided with the formal implementation that same weekend of the landmark nuclear agreement reached between Tehran, the U.S. and other global powers the summer before.
Why Obama administration officials denied that the payment was ransom paid, the they admit that the Iranians wanted something "tangible," i.e. the cash, for entering into the deal. Iranian officials in the Iranian press described the payment as ransom for release of the prisoners.

And if it wasn't "ransom," then why the secrecy and why all the work in securing other currencies to make the payment?