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COMMENTARY

‘Thought Criminals’: Aggrieved Conservative Elites Announce New University Dedicated to ‘Truth’ – But Who’s Funding It?

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Bari Weiss. Andrew Sullivan. Jonathan Rauch. Larry Summers.

Those are some of the more recognizable names a new university launched Monday lists on the front page of its website.

Its founder says some of them have been “treated like thought criminals.”

The University of Austin (which sounds remarkably like The University of Texas at Austin, founded in 1883,) in an announcement says it is “dedicated to the fearless pursuit of truth.” It is not currently accredited and offers no degrees.

But some of the people it is attracting have highly-controversial backgrounds. Indeed, some, like Weiss and Sullivan, seem to thrive on creating controversy.

It’s clear, from its founder’s message, that this is an enterprise dedicated to protect those who use their huge platforms to decry being “canceled.”

“Nearly a quarter of American academics in the social sciences or humanities endorse ousting a colleague for having a wrong opinion about hot-button issues such as immigration or gender differences,” Pano Kanelos, the former president of St. John’s College and apparently the founder of The University of Austin, writes Monday at Bari Weiss’ Substack. “Over a third of conservative academics and PhD students say they had been threatened with disciplinary action for their views. Four out of five American PhD students are willing to discriminate against right-leaning scholars, according to a report by the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology.”

Kanelos discusses some of the University’s founding faculty – a prerequisite appears to be having been subjected to criticism.

“On our quads, faculty are being treated like thought criminals. Dorian Abbot, a University of Chicago scientist who has objected to aspects of affirmative action, was recently disinvited from delivering a prominent public lecture on planetary climate at MIT. Peter Boghossian, a philosophy professor at Portland State University, finally quit in September after years of harassment by faculty and administrators. Kathleen Stock, a professor at University of Sussex, just resigned after mobs threatened her over her research on sex and gender.”

Its FAQ answers the question “Why Austin?” by jokingly replying: “If it’s good enough for Elon Musk and Joe Rogan, it’s good enough for us.”

The big question of course is who is funding this endeavor? The “University” says it will have a physical campus.

That’s expensive, as is paying top names.

“We have secured the seed money necessary to launch the university. But we are in the process of securing $250 million, which will enable us to grow into a comprehensive university,” it says.

“UATX has requested and is awaiting a tax-exempt determination from the IRS. At present, UATX is fiscally sponsored by Cicero Research, a tax-exempt entity organized under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.”

An online search for “Cicero Research” nets almost nothing, except a one page listing on Cause IQ, a company to help nonprofits grow.

According to that filing for the year ending December 2020, Cicero Research has no full-time employees, no assets, but under “characteristics” is tagged “political advocacy.”

Who’s actually funding this is currently unknown.

 

 

 

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COMMENTARY

Sinema ‘Weighing’ Senate Speech Against Changing Filibuster for Voting Rights as Biden Visits Hill to Meet With Dems

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President Joe Biden Thursday afternoon will make a rare trip to Capitol Hill, where he will attend a regular Democratic luncheon with the singular purpose of shaking hands and twisting arms, hoping to convince the lawmakers to pass his voting rights legislation: the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Conspicuous in her absence likely will be U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema who may be on the Senate floor when the President of the United States comes to meet with members of her own party.

The Arizona Democrat is “weighing” delivering a speech “against changing the rules for voting rights, per two Senate sources,” Politico’s Tara Palmieri reports.

One of those sources, Palmieri adds, says “Sinema is having Joe Biden for lunch.”

President Biden served as a U.S. Senator for 36 years before being elected Vice President, and subsequently President. Sinema served six years in the House and is a freshman Senator, first elected in 2018.

Sen. Sinema’s top donors, according to Open Secrets include a Texas-based tax software firm, a private equity firm, and Goldman Sachs, the multi-national investment giant.

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COMMENTARY

‘Hideous Coward’: Critics Blast ‘Disgusting Fraud’ Lindsey Graham for Accusing Biden of Politicizing the Insurrection

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After President Joe Biden delivered what some are calling his best speech ever, commemorating the one-year anniversary of Trump supporters’ attack on the U.S. Capitol – an insurrection and attempted coup – Senator Lindsey Graham served up a horrific attack on the American President, and is being highly criticized for it.

“What brazen politicization of January 6 by President Biden,” Sen. Graham tweeted. “I wonder if the Taliban who now rule Afghanistan with al-Qaeda elements present, contrary to President Biden’s beliefs, are allowing this speech to be carried?”

Tom Nichols, a U.S. Naval War College professor and expert with a lengthy résumé on Russia, national security, and nuclear weapons, slammed the Republican from South Carolina as a “hideous coward.”

Amy Siskind, whose work documenting the fascism of the Trump presidency gained national attention, likewise labeled Graham as an “unpatriotic coward.”

“Trying to prevent the certification of the election was done by ONE side and it wasn’t the left,” The Atlantic’s Molly Jong-Fast replied to Graham. “Also Watching Republicans turn against democracy instead of disavowing trumpism is pretty depressing.”

Political commentator Keith Olbermann minced no words: “So your party’s attempt to overthrow democracy was a non-partisan event? Once you were a Senator, grudgingly respected by your opponents. Now you are a Trump Whore. Flee the country.”

Related –
‘He Can’t Accept He Lost’: Biden Blasts ‘Defeated’ Donald Trump’s ‘Web of Lies’ and ‘Bruised Ego’ in Fiery Jan. 6 Speech

Slate’s Will Saletan:

“Yes, the Taliban loves broadcasting speeches by American presidents, that’s a terrific point,” wrote historian Kevin Kruse, mocking Graham, who’s supposedly an expert on foreign affairs.

Some other responses:

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COMMENTARY

Garland Speech Satisfies Some, Disappoints Others Who Say It Focused on Violence and Not Those Behind the Insurrection

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Attorney General Merrick Garland finally delivered a speech on the January 6 insurrection, 364 days after the attack on American democracy. Some experts appeared to be satisfied, but many more casual observers and critics continue to be frustrated at his focus on prioritizing investigating and indicting those who perpetrated violence that day while continuing to, apparently, ignore those responsible for inciting the insurrection and creating and disseminating “the big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen.

One popular social media commentator seemed to sum up the feelings of many watching and responding via social media, calling Garland’s remarks “a July 2021 speech not a ‘One Year After a Coup Attempt’ speech.”

“The Justice Dept. remains committed to holding all January 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law — whether they were present that day or otherwise criminally responsible,” Garland said in his speech (full video via C-SPAN), addressing DOJ employees. “There are questions about how long the investigation will take, and about what exactly we are doing. Our answer is — whatever it takes for justice to be done.”

But critics point out that Garland’s speech was largely focused on “statistics,” including how many arrests have been made. None of those arrests include Trump administration officials, or those who were behind the attack on American democracy.

“So, one thing you should notice about Garland’s framing of Jan 6 is that he *starts* at storming of the Capitol, *not* at the rally before,” wrote The Nation’s Justice Correspondent Elie Mystal, as Garland was speaking. “This goes to his general way of framing this as individual bad actors instead of a wider criminal conspiracy.”

MSNBC legal analyst and former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance responded to Mystal, saying: “This is a fair criticism. One of the things I’m looking for in this speech is whether he will suggest that Jan 6 was the culmination of an effort to overturn the election, or whether he views the events that took place at the Capitol in a vacuum.”

Vance appeared less concerned, adding:

Well-known, retired FBI Assistant Director Frank Figliuzzi, now an NBC News National Security Contributor appeared more hopeful:

And the highly-respected President and Director-Counsel of NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), Sherrilyn Ifill, also seemed satisfied:

So was Daniel Goldman, the former Lead Counsel of the House Impeachment Inquiry,a nd a former Asst. U.S. Attorney at SDNY:

The Guardian’s congressional reporter Hugo Lowell observes Garland “effectively left open the possibility of a criminal investigation into the Trump WH over the Capitol attack, vowing to hold accountable the perpetrators — at any level — of the Jan. 6 insurrection.”

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