Playing Chicken

Gifts for Putin? “Republicans in Congress are willing to give Putin the greatest gift he could hope for,” said President Joe Biden this week, in response to fiscal conservatives holding up a spending package that would dole out $110 billion in funding for Ukraine.

Republicans are saying that addressing the situation at the southern border is a necessary prerequisite, something that Biden must prioritize if he wants Ukraine aid approved. Biden said his political opponents, in opposing that massive chunk of government spending, “are playing chicken with our national security” but that he is also interested in “mak[ing] significant compromises on the border,” if that’s what is deemed necessary to get Ukraine money approved.

“Biden now faces a difficult choice about how much to throw himself into talks on an issue that for decades has defied efforts to reach bipartisan compromise,” reports The New York Times. “And he will have to decide how far to go in giving in to conservative demands that he substantially choke off the number of migrants admitted to the United States while their asylum claims are considered.”

It’s a shame there are so few legitimately principled fiscal conservatives in Congress; holding up one form of spending to get another type greenlit is a time-honored tradition, but not one that truly dials back government spending.

Congressional testimony fallout: After the presidents of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology all testified in front of Congress earlier this week on the issue of antisemitism on campus, the board of Penn’s business school, Wharton, is calling on President Liz Magill to resign.

It’s crazy that the free speech hypocrisy on elite campuses has gone on for this long and gotten this bad. High-up university donors and governing bodies should have probably pushed for cleaning house long ago, and more forcefully communicated opposition to the imposition of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) bureaucracies, campus speaker shout downs, and the like.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media treatment of the issue has changed quite a bit over the last few days.

Difference between Day 1 and Day 2 Coverage of the same event by the NYT. What happened in the meantime? I mean the NYT saw the event unspool, and initially thought it was parrying not dodging. pic.twitter.com/R2EiIcFscQ

— Mike Pesca (@pescami) December 7, 2023

The distinction made between conduct and speech by all three presidents remains largely correct. University administrators should push for and enforce policies that are broadly speech-permissive. It’s just that there’s a hollowness to this being their stance now after years of skirting this commitment.

“What does it mean to make Jewish students feel safe on campus? One way would be to crack down on anti-Israel rhetoric that might make many Jews feel threatened. That would be consistent with the methods universities have sometimes employed to protect other minority groups,” writes Intelligencer‘s Jonathan Chait. “But it would also be deeply illiberal.”

“When elite university presidents claim that even hateful speech should enjoy ironclad protection on college campuses, they are absolutely correct,” writes Reason‘s Robby Soave. “But if they are asserting that speech characterized as hateful currently enjoys ironclad protection on their campuses, they are blind.”

Scenes from New York: Enjoyed chatting with Matt Taibbi on camera last night (possible Reason video forthcoming) at his provocatively-titled event “Hey, Haters: Come to Argue about Free Speech and Censorship in Park Slope.” People were mostly sensible Taibbi superfans concerned by the government jawboning of social media companies.

(Liz Wolfe)


Reason‘s Matt Welch and I will be on The Megyn Kelly Show today at noon. Tune in! You seriously cannot make this up:

This guy got a vasectomy because he was worried a kid would cause climate change and then he and his wife took a 4-year traveling honeymoon around Asia running a travel writing gig and racking up about 4-12x a normal person’s emissions all in one go. https://t.co/xPry1lh0c9

— Lyman Stone 石來民 ???????????? (@lymanstoneky) December 7, 2023

Special counsel David Weiss leveled a nine-count indictment against Hunter Biden late Thursday, accusing President Joe Biden’s son of failing to pay $1.4 million in taxes from 2016 to 2020,” per ABC News. The unemployment rate has reportedly gone up, from 3.9 percent to 4Bloomberg has more on the early signs of a recession. South Africa is experimenting with universal healthcare, which is proving controversial. “Should Biden really run again?” asks The New York Times, citing dropping approval ratings and gesturing toward his senility (while characteristically spending much more time explicitly dinging Trump for his age). I think I can help the Times with this stumper: No, he should not. Down with the gerontocracy! New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ poll numbers are dropping. Good news:

The Home Act passed yesterday at Austin City Council!

– 3 units allowed in SF-1,2,3 zones

– Duplexes allowed on 5,000 SF lots

– expanded FAR

– front setbacks now 15 feet

– reduction in occupancy limits

– tiny homes legal 400 SF and under

Biggest changes in decades.

— ATX RE Podcast (@atxREpodcast) December 8, 2023

The state of California—which is hemorrhaging its population—is staring down a $68 billion budget deficit next year. Is Chinese garlic…a national security threat?

Yesterday, a sitting US Senator actually claimed that imported garlic was a national security threat pic.twitter.com/IWPAfafNR3

— Scott Lincicome (@scottlincicome) December 7, 2023

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