American Elephants


This May Be The Most Spectacular Failure Of Solar Power Ever by The Elephant's Child

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“Natural” is a ubiquitous word, especially for all things environmental. Wind and solar energy are held in high esteem largely because they are “natural.” Unfortunately, the word doesn’t mean much of anything, you only have to consider its opposite —”unnatural”— to point out how meaningless it is.

But for the environmental movement, natural is a very big deal indeed. We should draw our energy from the wind and the sun, eliminate unnatural chemicals from our diet, stop cutting down trees, save endangered species, but stop putting animals in cages, and stop eating meat. The word “natural” moved right to the top of the advertising buzz-word list.

So it is no surprise that in the panic about Global Warming, which was the next big thing after we stopped panicking about a new ice age in the 1970s, and the threat of a nuclear winter receded, we turned to trying to harness the power of the sun. Sensible people pointed out that the power of the sun was very diffuse, the sun had the habit of sinking below the horizon at night, and there was the problem of cloudy days and clouds on even nice days. But this is America, and the Twenty-First Century, as we are so frequently reminded, and we have technology!

The 2.2 billion Ivanpah solar project in California’s Mojave Desert is definitely high-tech. Those tiny white rectangles in the picture above are more than 170,000 mirrors, each about the size of a garage door, that rotate to follow the path of the sun across the sky. Solar-thermal technology was meant to supersede old-fashioned solar panel farms. The mirrors would reflect the sunlight to the huge “power towers,” enormous pillars to create steam which would generate electricity. It is not only the world’s largest solar project, it is also known as “the world’s largest outdoor bird fryer.”

The facility was built by Bright Source Energy Inc, and operated by NRG Energy Inc. NRG owns the facility along with Bright Source, Google and other investors. When I wrote about Ivanpah last November, they were delivering only 40% of their promised electricity, and they were trying to get a federal grant to pay off their $1.6 billion federal loan.

Now comes news that the Ivanpah solar plant may be forced to shut down. It is not producing the electricity it is contractually required to deliver to PG&E Corp., which says the solar plant may be forced to shut down if they don’t receive a break from state regulators. PG&E is asking the California Public Utilities Commission for permission to overlook the shortfall and give Ivanpah another year to sort out its problems. The extension request is opposed by some consumer groups, who are complaining that the cost of the electricity from the struggling plant is exorbitant. There is no mention in the article of whether or not they got the federal grant to pay off their federal loan. The high-tech power towers just aren’t working as advertised.

The huge array is owned by BrightSource Energy Inc., NRG Energy Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. Government subsidy is what brings these projects to fruition and what brings investors who expect to be rewarded by the government subsidies. Over and over, across the world, when taxpayer subsidy is removed, the project shuts down.

In neighboring Nevada I had read recently that when Nevada withdrew the state subsidy, Elon Musk pulled out, but I apparently didn’t save the article.When I consulted Google, the headlines from the articles about Elon Musk and SolarCity are so completely fascinating that I couldn’t resist linking to that page. Do scroll down slowly to get the full picture. The federal government has no business using taxpayer money to pick winners and losers in the business marketplace.

California’s one remaining nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon, produces more than twice as much clean, environmentally friendly electricity than all of California’s solar power installations combined. Environmentalists, of course, are trying to shut it down. (click to enlarge)

Diablo(h/t: Steven Hayward@ Powerline)



The Ugly Side of the Environmental Movement, And it’s Deplorable Actions by The Elephant's Child

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Aubrey McClendon, former CEO of Chesapeake Energy, “died March 2 in a car wreck the day after being indicted for conspiracy to rig bids on oil and natural gas leases. He will likely be remembered for two things: being a pioneer of the shale gas boom and a possible criminal who, in death, may have eluded a prison sentence. But McClendon may have had one other lasting legacy: he helped hasten the collapse of the coal industry in the United States.”

Between 2007 and 2012, McClendon and his associates contributed around $26 million to the Sierra Club to oppose the building of new coal-fired power plants. McClendon’s motivations were hardly pure; he knew that preventing new coal plants meant more demand for his company’s product, natural gas. And the contributions led to a scandal for the environmental group, whose well-funded “Beyond Coal” campaign has been instrumental in not only preventing new plants, but also shutting down aging ones.

Executive director Michael Brune had a simple explanation for accepting money from a big gas company that was drilling hundreds of wells using hydraulic fracturing: the enemy of our enemy is our friend. “The Sierra Club board of directors … determined that natural gas, while far from ideal as a fuel source, might play a necessary role in helping us reach the clean energy future our children deserve,” Brune wrote in <aref=”http://sierraclub.typepad.com/michaelbrune/2012/02/the-sierra-club-and-natural-gas.html”>a 2012 blog post. “The idea was that we shared at least one common purpose [with Chesapeake]—to move our country away from dirty coal.”

The Sierra Club turned down further contributions from McClendon and his Chesapeake colleagues as it began to worry about the boom in natural gas fracking. That didn’t affect the outcome: McClendon’s philanthropy helped make it very unlikely that any new coal plants will be built in the U.S.—and helped push coal, the backbone of America’s power sector for more than a century, into a sudden and dramatic twilight.

Here’s another excellent example of the rot in the Green movement. If you can get rid of coal as a resource for power generation by claiming that it is the cause of anthropogenic global warming, what’s the big deal if you cause thousands of coal miners to lose their jobs, if you can force the country to depend on your natural gas for their electric power, and make your company and yourself rich by so doing?

The Sierra Club was once a nice organization with the goal of protecting the Sierra Mountains. They sponsored catered pack trips through the Sierras, and publicized Ansel Adams beautiful photography of the Sierras and Yosemite National Park. But at some point they became a leftist political agency under the cover of being a nice environmental club.

But then the coal industry once supplied nearly half of America’s power needs, and kept the cost of power low for American homes and businesses, enabling the prosperous industrial country we live in.  Mr. McClendon is hardly the only person who has been trying to enrich himself and his business by using the fear of a crisis of global warming that has been pushed by so many environmental organizations.

The cheap and affordable energy that coal-fired plants produce cannot be replaced by renewables, no matter how much investors hope it to become fact instead of wishful thinking. Wind is highly intermittent — we had a minor wind storm today that deposited bushels of fir cones and branches on the roof and on the streets (and on the driveway I laboriously swept yesterday) yet there were long periods with no wind at all, and even some blue sky.

Wind energy proponents talk about optimum performance — what a wind farm could produce if all the turbines were turning at the speed that would be produced by a perfect flow of wind. But Mother Nature doesn’t work that way.Wind is intermittent at best, and even shuts down for long periods. When it isn’t blowing at the perfect speed, then the power has to come from somewhere else. Hopes for battery walls ignore the availability and expense of the rare earths required which largely come from China, who has cornered the market and can raise prices as they choose.

President Obama’s Clean Power Plan will prevent 0.03 degrees of warming by 2100.

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity — but to destroy capitalism.

“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said.



Here ‘s Patrick Moore Explaining the Real Facts About CO2 by The Elephant's Child

“Since time immemorial, our climate has been and will always be changing. Patrick Moore explains why “climate change,” far from being a recent human-caused disaster, is, for a myriad of complex reasons, a fact of life on Planet Earth.”

Some scientists saw global temperatures climbing and noticed that at the same time, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere was climbing. Big Aha! moment.  But as scientists keep telling us—correlation does not prove causation.

At the beginning of this delusion, climate scientists were not the leading lights in the faculty lounge, but when governments, accepting the UN’s IPCC as the authoritative source on all things climate, started to try to protect us from catastrophic global warming. suddenly there were grants and attention and new equipment for the labs and they began to be interviewed and became important, and the press wallowed in their authoritative utterances. The grants were all for proving the fact that the globe was warming unnaturally because, of the evildoing of humans for drawing fossil fuels from the bosom of the Earth instead of commuting on bicycles as they should.

It was discovered that the thermometer sites on which readings of national temperatures depended were not accurate at all because some idiots had put them right next to the heat vents from air conditioners or where sunlight reflected off concrete walls increasing temperatures abnormally. Then we had “the Pause” when global temperatures as measured by satellites stopped climbing. And they stopped climbing for over 19 years, yet the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere kept increasing. Causation would seem to have gone out the window, but true believers don’t give up easily, and the recipients of  grants and subsidies don’t give up easily either.



Are You a Climate “Denier?” The Left Wants to Send You To Jail For Disagreeing. by The Elephant's Child

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Attorney General Loretta Lynch testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that the Justice Department has “discussed” taking civil legal action against the fossil fuel industry for “denying” the threat of carbon emissions regarding climate change. The Justice Department has sent the case on to the FBI for determination.

During Lynch’s testimony, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said that he believes there are similarities between the tobacco industry’s denial of scientific studies showing the dangers of using tobacco, and companies in the fossil fuel industry denying studies that are alleged to show the threat to the world from carbon emissions. Well, we can’t have people disagreeing with us. We’ll just have to sic the law on them. What is the matter with these people?

Whitehouse, who resides in the far distant realms of Leftism, pointed out that under President Bill Clinton the Justice Department brought and won a civil case against the tobacco industry—but the Obama administration has done nothing to stop the climate change “deniers” from their obnoxious denying.  Good luck with that one.

You expect to prove in a court of law that those computer programs with all their assumptions and guesses about how the climate of the earth actually works are going to overrule the proven science with crony capitalism and genuine fraud? Not going to happen. Their case is very weak, and Mother Nature is not on their side. All the fraud and dishonest behavior has been committed by the climate alarmists, because they see it as their path to a one world government, or something like that—more complete power in any case.

The Left doesn’t like disagreement. You can see someone pop up every so often demanding that something be done. They don’t like free speech, they don’t like the Constitution, they are against anyone owning a gun, and they are against anyone who does not think the Earth is being destroyed in a blaze of heat created by excess carbon dioxide, the benign gas that we exhale with every breath, which acts as a fertilizer for plants and is greening the world, and helping to feed a hungry planet. Generous government grants trump scientific accuracy all too often.

President Obama just gave $500 million of taxpayer’s money to the UN Green Fund—the first chunk of a $3 billion commitment that President Obama personally made at the Paris climate talks, defying Republican objections to the president’s environmental plan. Congress has not authorized any commitment to the United Nation’s “Green Climate Fund,”and President Obama knows that they wouldn’t. But never mind, he’s quite sure that the lawyers can find a way around that tired old constitution, so he can have his way.

State Dept defiant on $500M to UN climate fund: ‘Did Congress authorize the Green Climate Fund? No.’

Asked by Senator Cory Gardner if Congress approved the US State Department to divert $500 million to the United Nation’s Green Climate Fund, Deputy Secretary Heather Higgenbottom says: “Did Congress authorize the Green Climate Fund? No. […] We’ve reviewed the authority and the process under which we can do it, and our lawyers and we have determined that we have the ability to do it, and I pledge to you and to other members we’d be happy to provide that legal analysis and the additional details.”

There’s another federal department that needs swamping out. Under the administration of Barack Obama, federal departments are engaged in figuring out how they can subvert the Constitution, do exactly what they want, and find some legal justification for it — after they’ve followed the directions from the Oval Office. This is not the way our government is supposed to work. Yet in case after case, that’s what is happening.

And for some inexplicable reason, many ordinary folks are furious with “the establishment” (which apparently means anyone who has worked in government) and Republicans for being unable to stop such behavior, and want to elect an “outsider” (someone who has no understanding of how the government is supposed to work) to be in charge rather than someone who is familiar with the problems.

And by the way, there are no climate “deniers.” Most everyone has noticed that there is a constantly changing climate. The true believers simply accept that the cause of climate change is carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because that’s what they have been told, or because that’s what pays their salary, or because that’s what gets them big taxpayer subsidies from the government. Not because they are actually familiar with the science in question.



Donald Trump is the Ultimate Insider by The Elephant's Child

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Matthew Continetti, writing at the Washington Free Beacon today, said “Donald Trump has become the Republican frontrunner because GOP primary voters want an outsider who is angry at the condition of the country and the party establishment.” this really struck me — because it is just dead wrong. I don’t know whether Continetti is correct or not, but if GOP primary voters assume that Donald Trump is an outsider, they are mistaken. Mr. Trump is the ultimate insider.

He has told us so repeatedly. Trump explains that he donates to both parties because he is in business, and that’s just what you do. Of course. He donates because he is buying access. If he gives a significant sum to a politician, whether a national candidate, a state candidate or someone in city administration, they will see him when he calls. They will look with favor, if they are able, to his requests, favor at least partly, his side of the latest ‘deal.’ That is by nature — an insider. That’s how you make deals.

Forgive me, but the party “establishment,” whoever that is:  Party Chairman Reince Priebus? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell? House Speaker Paul Ryan? Who precisely are you angry at and why? The Republican “establishment” did not pass ObamaCare, but have voted to repeal it in full six times, and in part over 50 times.

Those changes that you resent so much are a direct result of President Obama having a House and a Senate with Democrats in charge, and Republicans couldn’t do a thing about it. Even when the voters revolted and gave control of the House and the Senate to Republicans, there was little that they could do beyond putting a bill on the president’s desk, which he promptly vetoed, as he has. Shut down the government? That only frightens voters who fear that they won’t get their Social Security checks, or their welfare checks, or their food stamps, or their medical care. They depend on those payments, and shutting down the government really frightens them, and loses votes for Republicans at the polls.

The founders designed a Constitutional system that was meant to be slow, with participants thinking and arguing over potential legislation extensively to be sure that it was good legislation. They had no concept of a federal government with hundreds of agencies, departments, offices and bureaus all with the power to issue regulations. Who knew that it would take a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit which could take months and years to pry loose information that Congress needed to do their work? That many arguments about authority would go to the Supreme Court for a decision, and those can take years proceeding through the courts.

Of course there should not be hundreds of agencies, departments, offices and bureaus, and they shouldn’t be issuing regulations. Congress is supposed to be making the laws, not palming them off. It is the Democrats who are in favor of BIG government, and essentially believe that most everything should be done by government. I believe Bernie Sanders recently said that charities should be abolished and the government should take that task over. It is of course about power. And that’s why Democrat plans seldom work.

If  you are angry at the vast number of people who have dropped out of the labor market, the huge numbers on food stamps, the sluggish economy that Obama keeps claiming is growing and prospering — why aren’t you angry with Obama?

If you are distraught at open and unenforced borders, at illegals placed all over the country, and criminal illegals in sanctuary cities, blame the Democrats. If you are disturbed by President Obama’s announced numbers of “Syrian” refugees to be admitted to the country, Republicans are trying valiantly to stop some of these things.

If you worry about ISIS, then don’t fall for the Democrats’ propaganda about “Bush Lied, People Died.” Bush did not lie, every intelligence agency in the world believed that Saddam had WMD — and so he did. He had 500 tons of yellowcake, enough to make 168 nuclear weapons. He had vast warehouses full of “agricultural chemicals” which are the precursors of nerve gas and other poison gasses, and the chemicals that turned them into nerve gas were stored in Saddam’s scientists’ home refrigerators. ISIS has found vast stores of Saddam’s poison gas, which are still turning up. ISIS exists because Obama did not make any effort to make a status of forces agreement and just pulled all the troops out, leaving Iraq to fend for itself.

Republicans are doing what they can to prevent Obama’s overreach but as he has told us—he has a phone and a pen— and he is going to do as much as he possibly can to go around Congress and accomplish his ends with executive orders and signing statements and whatever other executive tricks he can think up. He has no intention of working with Congress at any time. Be as angry as you want, but at least direct your anger constructively at the source of the problems, not at those who are trying to remedy them.



You May Not Disagree With Progressives! by The Elephant's Child

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On February 10, the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS) held a panel discussion on how to take legal action to implement the environmental activists  agenda through legal action against climate change deniers. They covered topics such as RICO prosecutions, climate torts and the Supreme court’s ‘appalling’ stay of the Clean Power Plan. The session was organized and moderated by Lisa Heinzerling, an attorney brought into the EPA to manage the legal analysis of just how to extend EPA powers beyond the limits of the Clean Air Act.

What Republicans cannot get through their heads is that the Progressives, the Left, are at war “to fight for the world as it should be.”They don’t know very much and they have trouble defending their point of view — and they want the “vast right wing conspiracy” to stop disagreeing and they are willing to put you in prison to make you stop. They believe that utopia is just there, a few steps away, if the damned right wingers would just stop arguing and spoiling everything.

The ACS is a very liberal association of legal progressives that sponsors over 1,ooo sessions a year to promote their agenda and create a network “useful in influencing judges nationwide.” They don’t like conservative “buzzwords” like “originalism” and “strict construction” that use neutral-sounding language that leads to hated conservatism.

Although last to speak, the keynote message was offered by Senator Whitehouse. He supports a federal RICO investigation and prosecution of “deniers.” His was a political screed based exclusively on a presumption of a scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change through use of hydrocarbons. He believes the tobacco RICO case is the “roadmap” for prosecution of deniers and he looks forward to the day when the CEOs of the coal, petrochemical and electric power industry are marched before the Senate to confess their crime.

Greens are terrified that cheap coal, oil and natural gas are making renewable fuels uneconomical. Americans are spending less on energy than at any time in recent memory. Wind and solar are barely affordable when oil prices are high.

A California congressman and two other representatives demanded last week that the government investigate Royal Dutch Shell “for deceiving the public about the alleged dangers associated with man-made global warming.”

Don’t laugh, they are serious about this.  Really.

ADDENDUM: I did top this article with a vague picture of potential hangings from an article about ISIS. It has been suggested that nooses are “racist” because lynching.  So I am replacing it with the Inquisition, where a man’s feet are being burned off as he screams because I don’t want to “offend,” because “political correctness.” Go figure.



What’s Wrong With Diversity? More Than You Ever Knew. by The Elephant's Child

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Yesterday I received the alumni magazine from my alma mater in the mail, and among other changes, they announced the appointment of a new chief diversity officer.  Which seems to put them right in line with the norm in colleges and universities today, when every gathering or crowd is scanned for the correct mixture of skin color and ethnic identity. That doesn’t seem quite right.

It seems to me that diversity, in the case of higher education, should be a diversity of ideas — not a diversity of skin color and  ethnic origins, nor sexual diversity—there’s a lot of that going around — but diversity of ideas is pretty hard to find. Consider the speakers invited to campuses who are not just disagreed with, their divergent opinions are excoriated, their very presence is protested, loudly and violently, and security must be called to protect the person — who has improper ideas! Students need “safe spaces” to protect them from ideas with which they disagree.

Sometimes, I seem to be a little slow. I really hadn’t put together the innocuous idea of “diversity” which always seemed a little silly, with Saul Alinsky’s famous phrase “Rub raw the sores of discontent, galvanize them for radical social change.” Barack Obama was a student of Alinsky’s methods, and he’s been busily organizing us for over seven years. Hillary too, was a student of Alinsky.

The problem with the Alinsky method is that the end game is amorphous; the end game is the acquisition of power but little is said of what to do with that power once acquired. The core of Alinsky’s method is destruction, destruction of the “system” that allows a disparity of wealth. There is no discussion of what is to replace this system once it is brought down. However, there is little doubt that Alinsky’s idea of a better “system” is one that brings forced equivalence or Marxism. Fundamentally, the struggle to get power is the essence of Alinsky, what to do with the power once acquired is another matter altogether.

“The Obama administration is the embodiment of the failure of politics because it is not about politics—politics involves concession and compromise—it is about victory at any cost. The American people expected hope and change, as that is what they voted for, but what they really wanted was stability and prosperity.”

Well, no wonder the people are so angry with their government— and looking for someone, anyone, who can fix it. Their government has been furiously busy trying “to rub raw the sores of discontent.” They not only didn’t get “hope and change” — they didn’t get stability and prosperity either. “Diversity” has been a false promise. The people know and like people of all different races and ethnic backgrounds, and we like the ideas and the foods they have brought with them as well.

The race riots in Ferguson and Baltimore were urged on by imported community organizers. The campus protests and demands for more racial equality and more racial segregation at the same time, the banishing of statues or buildings named for anyone who once owned slaves, the racial hoaxes, were all stirred up by organizers from Black Lives Matter, Acorn, Occupy, and Organizing for America. Did you wonder why race relations seemed to get worse rather than better? Did you wonder why Black Lives Matter seemed to be stirring up animus against the police instead of improving relations? Why more policemen were being attacked or killed? That was deliberate community organizing.

Michelle Obama at the Democratic Convention:

“Barack stood up that day,” talking about a visit to Chicago neighborhoods, “and spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about “The world as it is” and “The world as it should be…”
“All of us are driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do – that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be.”
“There is no utopia; those who have strived to make the impossible real, to implement their grand visions of life have been the agents of death and destruction on a scale surpassed only perhaps by Islam. Alinsky, like the Koran, Sira, and Hadith, represents morality turned upside down or abandoned entirely in favor of cold pragmatism. …It is no surprise that they have been deeply involved in voter fraud and other nefarious practices. “

Here’s David Horowitz:

This is something that conservatives generally have a hard time understanding. As a former radical, I am constantly asked how radicals could hate America and why they would want to destroy a society that compared to others is tolerant, inclusive and open, and treats all people with a dignity and respect that is the envy of the world. The answer to the this question is that radicals are not comparing America to other real world societies. They are comparing America to the heaven on earth — the kingdom of social justice and freedom — they think they are building. And compared to this heaven even America is hell.

Freedom is important to Americans, but it is sometimes hard to recognize where and why and how it is being taken away. We hate the EPA for its dumb overregulation, are shocked when Condoleeza Rice is invited to speak at an American university, and turned away because students protest. Environmentalists suggest prison terms for people who claim that global warming is natural. People are laid off, but will not get severance pay unless they train the foreign workers who will replace them. Scandals erupt throughout the government, but no one is ever fired. Veterans are denied medical care, but the promised changes never take place. Government workers who break the law are placed on paid leave, instead of being dismissed.

Detainees are released from Gitmo, and turn up as spokesmen for al-Qaeda. Relations are resumed with a nasty little Communist dictatorship just south of Florida, who continue to abuse their people and emphasize that they will change nothing at all — in return for a resumption of trade. Immigration laws are ignored, the borders are ignored as well, and illegals flow into the country to be distributed to every state. Obama makes speeches about the importance of constitutional law regarding appointment of a judge to replace the distinguished Antonio Scalia, but notes that he has a phone and a pen, and he cannot be bothered to attend the distinguished jurist’s funeral.

The American people are indeed angry. But their anger is somewhat misplaced. It is not “the establishment” that is turning loose drug pushers to go back to the streets in the name of “prison reform.” It’s not “the establishment” that is letting convicted criminal illegal aliens back into the country to commit more crimes. It’s not “the establishment” that made an impossible deal with Iran that practically assures that we will be attacked with nuclear weapons. It is not “the establishment” that has so weakened our national security that we are warned to expect a direct attack from ISIS this summer. And it’s not the establishment that stuck us with ObamaCare, nor “the establishment” that has reduced our army to the smallest since 1940 and the Navy the smallest since 1915. Nor is it “the establishment”  that has given us the worst economic recovery in the last 70 years.

I think we need to do some serious reassessing.

ADDENDUM: “White college students are undergoing a weekly “deconstructing whiteness” program at Northwestern University. The ‘6-part’ workshop series for undergraduate students who self-identify as white” launched in January and runs through March according to the university’s website.” The program is voluntary, but comes under the rubric of “Social Justice Education.” Forgive me, but there is no such thing as “social justice”— we have one kind of justice in the United States of America which involves the Constitution, the body of laws, the courts, the judicial system and the officers of the law. Northwestern University declined to give any details.

F.I.R.E. reports that 33 “public colleges have elected to ignore a deadline to respond to the House Judiciary Committee’s request to adopt new speech codes on campus. Bob Goodlatte, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, asked 160 schools to change at least one of their existing policies after a FIRE report showed that these schools substantially restricted their students’ free speech rights.”




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