Saturday, March 18, 2023

Weekend Jolt: Who’s in Charge at College Campuses?

Dear Weekend Jolter,

One of the impressions the viewer gets from the Netflix series ...


Who's in Charge at College Campuses?

Dear Weekend Jolter,

One of the impressions the viewer gets from the Netflix series The Chair — about a fictional college where, among other plot turns, outraged students make it their mission to take down a professor — is that nobody is actually in charge. The students make demands, and the administrators must respond to them.

Fittingly, that show was canceled. Yet The Chair does not so much dramatize as sanitize campus antics, which only appear to be getting worse in real life. A remarkable sequence of events this month at Stanford (the prestigious university where people can anonymously report one another for perceived slights and untold hours are squandered crafting "harmful language" lists) likewise gives the impression of an institution that is being run as an autonomous collective. Instead, university administrators should resolve to get control of their student bodies, not just for the sake of guest speakers and professors but students who would like to use their time on campus to — what's that thing? Ah, right: learn.

Ed Whelan has been tracking the incident and its fallout over at NR's Bench Memos. In brief, law-school students shouted down Trump-appointed Fifth Circuit judge Kyle Duncan and derailed the Federalist Society event that featured him; the kicker is that the school's own associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion chastised the speaker and all but blamed him for the disorder when she intervened.

Stanford's president and the law-school dean later apologized to the judge, acknowledging the conduct in that room was "inconsistent" with campus free-speech policies. But the story doesn't end there. Over at the Washington Free Beacon, Aaron Sibarium recounts how students moved on to target the law-school dean for apologizing, and to treat other students who didn't participate like scabs:

When [Jenny] Martinez's class adjourned on Monday, the protesters, dressed in black and wearing face masks that read “counter-speech is free speech,” stared silently at Martinez as she exited her first-year constitutional law class at 11:00 a.m., according to five students who witnessed the episode. The student protesters, who formed a human corridor from Martinez's classroom to the building's exit, comprised nearly a third of the law school, the students told the Washington Free Beacon.

The majority of Martinez's class—approximately 50 students out of the 60 enrolled—participated in the protest themselves, two students in the class said. The few who didn't join the protesters received the same stare down as their professor as they hurried through the makeshift walk of shame.

“They gave us weird looks if we didn't wear black” and join the crowd, said Luke Schumacher, a first-year law student in Martinez's class who declined to participate in the protest. “It didn't feel like the inclusive, belonging atmosphere that the DEI office claims to be creating.”

Talk about unsafe spaces. Stanford, of course, is one of many campuses where this kind of behavior is tolerated. Why is it?

Ed Whelan asks the pertinent question of what punishment Stanford should impose in the aftermath, noting that the school's policy on campus disruptions clearly states it's a violation to "prevent or disrupt the effective carrying out of a University function or approved activity, such as lectures, meetings, interviews, ceremonies, the conduct of University business in a University office, and public events." Ilya Shapiro, who has some experience in this area, has emphasized the need for discipline here, in the face of worsening illiberalism. To that point, federal judges James C. Ho and Elizabeth L. Branch write in clarion terms for NR that law schools must enforce their own rules:

This problem may be surprisingly easy to solve. Most universities already have rules in place ensuring freedom of speech and prohibiting campus disruptions. The problem is that the rules aren't enforced. Students disrupt without consequence. Administrators tolerate or even encourage the chaos. . . .

Nobody wants to be vindictive. But rules aren't rules without consequences. And make no mistake: Administrators who promote intolerance don't belong in legal education. And students who practice intolerance don't belong in the legal profession.

Law schools know what their options are. They know they can suspend or expel students for engaging in disruptive tactics, or threaten to report negatively on a student's character and fitness to state bar examiners.

Princeton's Robert P. George helpfully runs through the exercise of imagining what the response would be if the partisan affiliations were reversed and the speaker were, say, Justice Sonia Sotomayor. To figure that out doesn't take a law degree.



The problem isn't a lack of regulators; it's a lack of regulators who can spot problematic banking practices: Missing the Signs at Silicon Valley Bank

Michigan Republicans might want to focus on policies and ideas again, or suffer the consequences: Michigan Democrats Want to Bring Back Union Coercion

A time for cool heads: Russia’s Reckless Downing of a U.S. Drone  


Charles C. W. Cooke: No, the Silicon Valley Bank Bailout Doesn't Justify Mass Student-Debt Relief

Charles C. W. Cooke: Bill Kristol Has No Business Making Demands of NR

Caroline Downey: 'They’ve Ignored Us': Female Powerlifters Sound Alarm on Male Takeover after Trans Court Ruling

Jim Geraghty: Who’s Nudging Biden to Keep Disappointing Progressives?

Rich Lowry: The Desperate Front-Runner

Rich Lowry: The DeSantis Policy Is Woke Rollback, Not Woke Containment

Philip Klein: Silicon Valley Bank Depositor Bailout Makes Mockery of ‘Too Big to Fail’

Noah Rothman: Ron DeSantis Gets Ukraine Wrong

Jeffrey Blehar: DeSantis’s Ukraine Statement Was Careful Electoral Politics, and That’s a Good Thing

Hadley Heath Manning: The Boy Crisis Is Bad News for Girls

Brittany Bernstein: San Francisco Board Signals Support for $5 Million Reparations Payment for Black Residents

Christian Schneider: The Democrats' Underwhelming 2024 Shadow Primary

Neal B. Freeman: Sixty Years with NR: An Interim Report


David L. Bahnsen identifies a culprit: The Real Reason Silicon Valley Bank Collapsed

John C. Mozena makes a convincing case here: Losing Amazon's HQ2 Was a Blessing


Armond White scrutinizes an Oscar winner: The Whale Exudes Self-Pity, Not Compassion

A Texas museum exhibits entrepreneurial spirit, with a well-timed partnership. From Brian Allen: Spain's Museum of Abstract Art Comes to Texas


Elliot Ackerman: Why I Went to Iraq

Noah Rothman: Iraq: Mission Partly Accomplished

Michael Brendan Dougherty: Our Costly Iraq Successes

Elbridge Colby: In Iraq, Foreseeable Costs Outweighed Likely Benefits


NR is out with a colossal special issue, featuring a symposium on the Iraq War to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the invasion. Where to begin? I'd recommend Mark Antonio Wright's overview of what's inside, first. From there, try veteran Elliot Ackerman's Iraq War story:

When the war in Iraq began, we were in crisis. We were young Marine second lieutenants training in Quantico, Va. Most of us had never seen combat. We were convinced that we would miss our generation's war. I secretly hoped that progress in Iraq would prove slower than expected, that there would be a little bit of the war left for me to fight in when I arrived at my infantry battalion the following year. When Baghdad fell on April 9, I felt hopeless. When President Bush delivered his "mission accomplished" speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln, I despaired and stopped watching the news. Among the second-lieutenant trainees and captain instructors, the attitude turned from despair to resignation. The captains were frank with us: You missed the war. We missed it, too. Now let's get down to the business of soldiering.

In the summer of 2003, new instructors began to check in to Quantico. These were senior first lieutenants who would soon be promoted to captains. A couple of them had participated in what would eventually be called "the invasion" but what we then called, simply, "the war." They had stories — real war stories. I remembered how captains and majors who'd taught at Quantico for years deferred to the experience of these new instructors, many of whom still wore their desert-combat boots in the Virginia woods. In August, on the front page of the Marine Corps Times, the headline read: "Marines Back to Iraq." The story quickly made the rounds through the barracks, and many were left wondering what we'd even be doing there. Marines are shock troops. The war was over, and we don't do occupation duty — that's the Army's job. As if to emphasize further that the war was over, the Army dragged Saddam Hussein out of a hole near Tikrit two weeks before Christmas.

Everyone wanted one of two things: orders to Iraq or orders to Camp Pendleton, in Southern California. In January, I received orders to the Camp Pendleton–based First Battalion of the First Marine Regiment, or "one-one" in Marine-speak. That battalion wasn't going to Iraq; it was deploying with the Navy to the western Pacific as part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit, or MEU. Our instructors told us that for the next 24 hours we could exchange assignments if we wanted. Another lieutenant in my battalion, who desperately wanted to be stationed in Camp Pendleton, had orders to First Battalion, Eighth Marines (the less illustrious "one-eight") stationed in the North Carolina swamps of Camp Lejeune. I knew that battalion would be leaving for Iraq immediately.

I called two mentors. The first, an instructor at Quantico, said, "What do you want to go to Iraq for? All you'll do there is occupation duty. Deploy with the MEU." The second, then–Marine captain Doug Zembiec, who would later come to be known as the "Lion of Fallujah" for his heroics in that battle and would also, three years after the night of our call, be killed while leading a group of CIA-sponsored Iraqi commandos in Baghdad, responded more contemplatively: "If you go on the MEU, will you be carrying live rounds every day?" I responded that I would not. "If you go to Iraq," he asked, "will you be carrying live rounds every day?" I said I would. He then asked, "So, Marine, what do you think you should do?" I switched my orders.

None of us imagined that the war in Iraq would last the better part of a decade. We also didn't understand how, for many of us, it would become forever commingled with the war in Afghanistan, which would stretch into a second decade.

NR’s editorial takes a closer look at the regulation factor in Silicon Valley Bank's collapse:

But where were the bank regulators? Elizabeth Warren and other progressives are trying to blame rule changes made during the Trump presidency for the lack of regulatory oversight, but that is a red herring. The fundamental information about SVB's potential problems didn't need a more powerful government to uncover. SVB's business model made it an obvious outlier compared with other banks, based on public data that anyone could have looked at months ago, and its rapid growth in the past year should have attracted attention from regulators.

The financial sector in this country does not lack for regulators. This, not interest rates, is where the Fed deserves more blame. The monetary-policy decisions get the headlines, but most of the day-to-day work at the Fed, especially the regional Feds, is in bank regulation. Why wasn't the San Francisco Fed, in whose jurisdiction SVB resided, on the case? . . .

Because of the actions of one medium-sized bank doing business almost exclusively in one sector of the economy in one region of the country, and the failure of regulators to better police those actions, it's possible that the U.S. now has de facto unlimited deposit insurance, a weaker monetary policy, and a slew of politicians itching to make hay out of the whole debacle. It is also another instance in which the federal government is making sweeping decisions, with significant long-term implications, without going through Congress.

We were promised post-2008 that such instability was a thing of the past, due to Dodd-Frank, better Fed regulation, and the government's learning from its mistakes. But the government apparently can't spot ordinary problematic banking practices. What other obvious problems, which everyone expects regulators to fix, are lurking out there only to be found out once it's too late? There's systemic risk for you.

John C. Mozena with the Center for Economic Accountability notes the news that Amazon is pausing construction on its HQ2 project in Northern Virginia, and uses it as a reminder of why local governments should not shower corporations with cash to lure them:

It's worth looking back at the nationwide feeding frenzy in 2017, when more than 200 cities, counties, and states competed to come up with the most eye-catching proposals to entice the tech giant. What would have happened had Amazon gone for top dollar rather than doing what analysts had always predicted and choosing D.C. and NYC locations? What would have happened had Amazon's site-selection team opted for the biggest subsidy it could get (rather than having used those mega-offers to keep score in a reported billionaire-ego fight between Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk)?

Consider that Maryland — just ten miles away from Arlington as the crow flies, or a half-hour Metro ride — offered Amazon $8.5 billion in subsidies for a proposed Bethesda location. It turns out that Maryland taxpayers won by losing that head-to-head competition.

Similarly, Amazon originally passed up $7 billion on offer in New Jersey and accepted a deal for roughly $3 billion for a New York City location in Queens. Then, it discovered that taking money from New York gave the state's politicians an excuse to drag the company into New York politics, as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D.), union activists, and others embraced the opportunity to turn public meetings on the Amazon deal into Festivus-style "airing of the grievances" affairs.

The thing is that AOC wasn't wrong to oppose Amazon's getting massive subsidies from New York taxpayers. . . .

There are 230 communities across America that can consider themselves lucky to have lost. The next time around, perhaps they'll decide against even playing the game.

Checking in, once more, on how things are going in San Francisco. Courtesy of Brittany Bernstein:

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to accept a draft plan from the city’s African American Reparations Advisory Committee that would pay out a one-time $5 million payment per qualifying person.

While board members spoke positively about the advisory committee’s work during the more than five-hour hearing, the acceptance of the draft does not mean the board will ultimately approve all of the proposals included therein. The board can vote to approve, reject or change any or all of the proposals.

The reparations committee will submit its final proposal in June, after which the Board of Supervisors is set to meet on September 19 for its next reparations hearing.


George Packer, at the Atlantic: The Moral Case Against Equity Language

Aaron Sibarium, at the Washington Free Beacon: Student Activists Target Stanford Law School Dean in Revolt Over Her Apology

Matt Sedensky, at the Associated Press: In nursing homes, impoverished live final days on pennies

Gabe Kaminsky, at the Washington Examiner: Stacey Abrams lands job at left-wing dark money group behind gas stove crackdown


Plenty of songs come with an infectious hook or emotive solo. Sometimes what makes the music memorable, though, is the part that causes questions. It might be the introduction of a strange instrument or effect. Think of the electrotheremin on "Good Vibrations." Or, infamously, Peter Frampton's use of the talk box. Here's another that never fails to jolt me awake: Mr. Bungle's "Pink Cigarette." Aside from its being a haunting, surfy/doo-woppy number, the part that gets you is the *BEEPING*, which punctuates intermittently toward the end, and then flatlines. The first few listens, you're convinced something has gone terribly wrong with your stereo. It's all a trick.

I'll put this one to the list: What song makes you do a double take? Makes you say, "What the—"? Shoot it my way, at, for sharing with this list, as always. The responses could be interesting.

Thanks for reading.


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