You’ve heard the stories. Charles Murray was attacked by a mob after giving a talk at Middlebury College. Not long after that, a riot broke out at U.C. Berkeley over a scheduled appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos. Berkeley’s student newspaper later published a series of essays justifying the violence as “self-defense.”
Recently, I debated Professor Rick L. Hasen of UC Irvine School of Law at a Federalist Society event at Southwestern School of Law in LA. The subject was campaign finance law, and Professor Hasen took the opportunity to outline the case he makes in his new book, Plutocrats United: Campaign Money, the Supreme Court, and the Distortion of American Elections. From the title, you might guess that he is both not a fan of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and that he thinks money in politics is leading to a kind of plutocracy, in which the wealthy end up influencing government far out of proportion to everyone else.
One year ago today, Islamic terrorists entered the offices of the French publication Charlie Hebdo and fired sixty shots inside of three minutes. When the smoke cleared, eleven employees of the magazine and one building maintenance worker had been killed and eleven other people in the building had been injured. The “crime” for which these individuals were being punished was blasphemy.
In his terrific book The Tyranny of Silence, Flemming Rose, who was at the center of the Danish cartoon crisis in 2006, quotes Saudi cleric and TV preacher Muhammad Al-Munajid’s reaction to the controversy: “The problem is that they want to open a debate on whether Islam is true or not . . . . they want to open up everything for a debate. That’s it. It begins with freedom of thought, it continues with freedom of speech, and it ends up with freedom of belief.”
On The Yaron Brook Show this past weekend, Don Watkins and I discussed freedom of speech and the many campus protests and controversies that have broken out over the past few weeks. It’s a really good discussion (if I do say so myself) of a lot of issues that bear on the campus protests, including racism, inequality and even helicopter parenting. During the show, Don and I mentioned a number of essays by Ayn Rand that bear on the campus protests that are worth elaborating on a bit more.
The consensus among pundits about the Democratic presidential debate is that Hillary Clinton “won” in the sense that she came across as trustworthy, likable, and “presidential.” I’ll leave to readers to ponder the use of words like these to describe someone who has been dissembling about her emails for years now and who angrily dismissed a Congressional investigation into the cause of the Benghazi attacks with “What difference, at this point, does it make?”
Donald Trump’s “straight talk” has once again created a minor controversy, at least among many commentators on the right. Trump recently told Fox News’s Bret Baier that he thinks the use of eminent domain is “a wonderful thing.” His comments give us more insight (if we needed it) into the kind of politician Trump would be.
Stories about government officials getting perks from those with business before them aren’t exactly rare today. Remember those amazing loan deals Senator Chris Dodd received from Countrywide Bank while he was the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee? Or the millions in donations made to the Clinton Foundation by foreign governments and companies that stood to benefit from arms deals with the U.S. while Hillary was Secretary of State?