Senate Democrats Clear Anti-Free Speech Nominee For Floor Vote

At the start of the Biden Administration, I expressed alarm over the anti-free speech figures being brought into the administration by the President. Indeed, President Biden himself has called for greater private censorship and speech regulation. This unease continued to grow as the President turned to figures long criticized for their opposition to free speech, including Dr. Lisa Cook, Professor of Economics and International Relations at Michigan State University. Cook has been nominated for the Federal Reserve. The Democrats just “discharged” Cook from committee on a partisan vote to bring the nomination to a Senate floor vote. Cook has opposed the most basic protections of free speech and academic freedom on campuses during her academic career.

Cook was involved in one of the most notorious cancel campaigns discussed on this blog involving University of Chicago economics professor Harald Uhlig.

Uhlig was the senior editor of the prestigious Journal of Political Economy and remains the Bruce Allen and Barbara Ritzenthaler Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago.  Uhlig drew the ire of the mob when he criticized Black Lives Matters and the movement to Defund The Police. (Notably, President Joe Biden recently denounced the defund the police movement).

Uhlig wrote on Twitter: “Too bad, but #blacklivesmatter  per its core organization @Blklivesmatter  just torpedoed itself, with its full-fledged support of #defundthepolice.” He added:

“Suuuure. They knew this is non-starter, and tried a sensible Orwell 1984 of saying oh, it just means funding schools (who isn’t in favor of that?!?).But no, the so-called ‘activists’ did not want that. Back to truly ‘defunding’ thus, according to their website. Sigh. #GeorgeFloyd and his family really didn’t deserve being taken advantage of by flat-earthers and creationists. Oh well. Time for sensible adults to enter back into the room and have serious, earnest, respectful conversations about it all: e.g. policy reform proposals by @TheDemocrat  and national healing.”

His comments immediately led to an effort to get him fired, including the ever-present online petition where viewpoint intolerance is some how strengthened by numbers.

The cancel campaign targeting Uhlig was led by figures like the New York Times’ Paul Krugman, who denounced him as the embodiment of “white privilege”:

University of Michigan professor Justin Wolfers denounced Uhlig for “trivializing the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement” and “hurting and marginalizing people of color and their allies in the economics profession.”

Dr. Cook was one of those calling for the canning of Uhlig, one of the country’s most respected economists, because he held opposing political views.

Uhlig raised her past campaign against him when she was nominated:

Harald Uhlig @haralduhlig

Lisa Cooks nomination hearing was today. She accused me of “spreading hate” in 2020 and wanted my speech restricted, see screen shot. Why? Was she referring to my tweet back then, where I took the position that defunding the police is absurd. Care to clarify, Lisa Cook?

9:39 PM · Feb 3, 2022·Twitter for iPhone

Cook accused Uhlig of “racial harassment” and called on Uhlig to be fired as the editor of the Journal of Political Economy and removed from working with students.

Cook’s view that “free speech has its limits” is certainly consistent with many in the Democratic Party today. Cook was not speaking of the usual limits for criminal conspiracy or other crimes where speech can be an incriminating element. She was speaking of limits on viewpoints when they are deemed offensive or unacceptable, including Uhlig’s comments on BLM or defunding police.

While once fierce defenders of free speech, Democrats now routinely call for private censorship and speech controls. Her effort to have Uhlig fired shows what is meant by such “limits.” He was to be fired as editor because he disagreed with Cook on his view of Black Lives Matter and the Defund the Police movement.

One could dismiss Cook’s intolerance for opposing speech as immaterial to her role on the Federal Reserve. However, the position will require supervision of employees who may hold opposing views on political and social issues. Moreover, Cook herself made clear that such views are material to whether someone continues to work as an economist. She wanted to prevent Uhlig from working as an editor because he held opposing views on issues like defunding the police.

Uhlig opposed the nomination on free speech grounds in a column in the Wall Street Journal. He further wrote:

“I was fired as consultant from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, following my tweets. Lisa Cook is on the Board of the Chicago Fed. She has the power to see to it that my firing is reversed. Has she taken steps to rectify that decision? I have not heard anything, if so. Does she perhaps endorse that firing as an entirely appropriate procedure to deal with dissenting voices? What, then, will happen, when she is appointed Governor? Will Fed researchers continue to speak freely about their findings concerning racial disparities or the importance of policing, or will speech by sullied, for fear of taking a wrong step and seeing a career come to an end? To the degree that these issues matter for monetary policy at all, will the Board be provided with a balanced and reasoned assessment by its researchers, or will only an activist voice be welcome?

This may all lead to considerable damage to the Federal Reserve, its focus on the limited mission in form of its dual mandate, and its wide respect as a neutral voice of reason on economic matters. The credibility and neutrality of the Fed is its perhaps biggest asset. Loose that and it may not be possible to get the genie back into the bottle.”

What is concerning to me is that anti-free speech sentiments either are valued by many in the Senate or dismissed as irrelevant. Free speech is often treated as an abstraction and rarely defended as a core value defining our country as a whole. While Cook believes that criticism of Defund the Police or BLM warrants termination, senators do not view her hostility to free speech as important enough to deny confirmation to a major federal position.

 

60 thoughts on “Senate Democrats Clear Anti-Free Speech Nominee For Floor Vote”

  1. Turley says:

    “His comments immediately led to an effort to get him fired, including the ever-present online petition where viewpoint intolerance is some how strengthened by numbers.”

    On the same day that Turley trumpets how many hits his blog got, here he reminds us that strength in numbers is NOT to be mistaken as strength in one’s argument….

    1. Mr. Silberman did you learn your logic from the likes of AOC or Kamala Harris? How does Professor’s Turley’s conveying his happiness over the the volume of traffic to his site have anything to do with a internet lynching of a U of Chicago Economics professor expressing a perfectly reasonable opinion. Some day researchers should perform post mortem examinations of the brains of progressives with TDS. Your gratuitous and vacuous snarks against Turley demean you. Why don’t you take a step back and formulate a substantive comment that actually is worth rebutting.

      1. AlanK,

        I don’t flatter myself to be as intelligent as Kamala Harris or as successful as AOC. I am a no account compared to them. Are you accusing me of Trump Derangement Syndrome or Turley Derangement Syndrome? Please clarify which ad hominem you are accusing me.

        1. “April 1, 2022”

          “. . . as intelligent as Kamala Harris . . .”

          I see what you did there.

  2. “Dr. Lisa Cook, Professor of Economics and International Relations at Michigan State University has opposed the most basic protections of free speech and academic freedom on campuses during her academic

    career.”

    – Professor Turley
    ______________

    “What fresh hell Is this?”

    – Dorothy Parker
    _____________

    When illegal aliens enjoy ascendance and prevail, a nation dies.

    When woman aren’t women and engender no progeny, that nation dies.

    What happens when men aren’t men?

    Contemporary America, that’s what.
    ____________________________

    “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

    – Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto
    ______________________

    Have the Ten Commandments ever been “amended?”

    Have all the destructive, antithetical, communistic, improperly ratified, and unconstitutional amendments, subsequent to the Bill of Rights, “INJURED” the Constitution and destroyed America?

    The American Founders have been rolling over in their graves since 1860, American freedom having persisted for merely 71 years.
    _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

    “…of such a nature as will not injure the constitution,…”

    ” And if there are amendments desired, of such a nature as will not injure the constitution, and they can be ingrafted so as to give satisfaction to the doubting part of our fellow citizens; the friends of the federal government will evince that spirit of deference and concession for which they have hitherto been distinguished.”

    – James Madison, Proposed Amendments to the Constitution, June 8, 1789
    ___________________________________________________________

    “[We gave you] a [restricted-vote] republic, if you can keep it.”

    – Ben Franklin
    ___________

    “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    – Declaration of Independence, 1776

  3. Stop voting for Democrats, starting this year. we can still turn it around, but we are pretty much at the proving point. Again: stop. voting. for. democrats. For everything. From the Congress all the way down to the PTA. I’m sorry it took so long for so many to wake up, as this has been apparent for years, but it isn’t too late to turn it around. For now. If people continue t insist on voting dem out of ‘principle’ – I don’t know what we do but kiss our Constitution goodbye.

    1. James, I am more pessimistic than you. I thought the tipping point was somewhere in the Obama Presidency. Trump was an uptick but insufficient to protect us from the near free-fall we are seeing today.

      In my mind, entropy is the natural state of government, so society has to work hard and in the right direction to maintain the type of Republic we have had.

  4. Who in this execrable administration is picking these nominees? I ask this in all honesty, has anyone ever seen a worse group of political appointees than what the “Biden” team are putting up? Mayorkas, Mayor Pete, Ron Klain, Susan Rice, Jake Sullivan, UN Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, Merrick Garland, Lloyd Austin, Jennifer Granholm (who has made a fortune off of green technology) at Energy, Xavier Bacerra at HHS, Rachel Levine (Time’s woman of the year) and MArty Walsh at Labor?? Not to mention the SOVIET he named to be in charge of currency and Gigi Sohn at the FCC AFTER SHE SAID TO BAN FOX. We can’t forget Deb Haaland who is the first Native American blah, blah, blah, seeming to forget that she is 1/2 NA and is also 1/2 Norwegian and so I am guessing that she is actually the first NORWEGIAN as Sec of Interior.

    Of course Biden also picked Kamala Harris as VP and a far left jurist to be on the SCOTUS. He had a moderate black woman he could have named, but he went to his left again.

    Seemingly every pick the Biden team has made has been either wrong headed or totally incompetent.

    1. “Who in this execrable administration is picking these nominees? I ask this in all honesty, has anyone ever seen a worse group of political appointees than what the “Biden” team are putting up?”

      Trust me this is the shortlist of those indicted, convicted, or jailed during the Trump administration. Lest you think this was some sort of political retribution, most of these were charged DURING the Trump administration when Sessions and Barr were trying to look the other way on everything. The previous administration was full of cons and grifters. If Biden starts pardoning his cronies, then you can make a comparison.

      https://rantt.com/trump-crimes

      1. Trust me this is the shortlist of those indicted, convicted, or jailed during the Trump administration.

        Blacks were shot, lynched or beaten with whips to their knees by the thousands and yet, you applaud when a group of people in power pronounces certain individuals as miscreants.

        You’re a lot more sinister than you lead readers to believe. When the tables turn on your grandchildren, because people are as fickle as you, they wont look kindly on your gutless moral relativism.

          1. “….trying real (sic) hard to…”

            Ebonics is so 1980s.

            It is obvious all of the free gubermint edgjukayshun LBJ’s Democrats have “given” you were a waste on you. White Democrats still own your black ass. Thats on you

  5. I wonder since Dr. Cook believes that Uhlig should be fired from his position due to his opposition to the Black Lives Matter Movement (ALL Lives Matter) or his opposition to the brain dead “Defund The Police” movement, would it now be ok for me to ask in interviews if a candidate for a position with my company be asked if he/she supports Democrats and if so exclude them from the opportunity of a position with my company? Can I now go through the employee parking lot and fire anyone with a Biden or Obama bumper sticker since I find supporting Democrats against my personal opinion and not in America’s best interest?

  6. Being educated beyond your intelligence is a dangerous thing….PHD’s at one time in history were hard to come by and required genuine intellectual or scientific capability.

    Affirmative Action shot that squarely in the butt.

    Dumbing down never benefited anyone….but the one being blessed with favored treatment.

    1. Ph.D.’s still require genuine intellectual capability. I doubt that you’ve ever read a dissertation or attended a dissertation defense.

      1. “Ph.D.’s still require genuine intellectual capability.”

        In the humanities and social sciences, that statement is overwhelmingly BS.

        Those dissertations require one intellectual “skill:”

        Being able to toss a word salad for hundreds of pages (with copious, indecipherable footnotes)

        And one psychological “skill:”

        Sucking up to the dissertation committee

        (And, yes, I have been on both sides of the dissertation table.)

        1. If you taught in a humanities or social sciences department, and faculty in your department did this, then perhaps you should have brought it up at a dept. meeting.

      2. ATS it is doubtful that you understand the intellectual capacity that a Ph.D. should have. Today a lot of Ph.D.s are skilled technicians or worse intellectually diminished individuals due to their choice of a Ph.d. that is meaningless.

            1. Oh look. Allan is trying to flirt with me while not recognizing his comment just reveals he’s a Diddler underneath all the bluster. He even liked his own response…

              Still, even this flub doesn’t outdo his idiotic run on sentence about Ph.D’s. No doubt he giggled to himself as he typed it with two fingers.

              Better yet he proves he’s still clueless about distinguishing between voices on the blog.

              Allan is Homer Simpson.

                  1. Anonymous the Stupid, are you creating new pretend friends to help protect your weak ego?

              1. Anonymous the Stupid, you are desperate to blame your stupidity on others. The point is not whether I recognize which Anonymous the Stupid you are, rather the stupidity you provide. You can’t stand being shown for what you are.

                I’ll repeat the initial statement: “ATS it is doubtful that you understand the intellectual capacity that a Ph.D. should have. Today a lot of Ph.D.s are skilled technicians or worse intellectually diminished individuals due to their choice of a Ph.d. that is meaningless.”

                1. “Today a lot of Ph.D.s are . . .”

                  A while back, I did some historical research on Ph.D. dissertations in the humanities and social sciences (starting with the early 20th century).

                  The early ones were packed with important knowledge, wide-ranging in scope, well-structured and well-written, terse, and gloriously brief. They proved that the writers were in fact scholars.

                  As you might guess, the progression over the decades is a train wreck. The dissertations became more filled with impenetrable jargon, focused on mindless minutiae (what academics call “a flea on a flea”), covering topics that are completely detached from reality and from life, propagandistic, and mind-numbingly long. They prove what the writers are: Frauds.

                  1. Thank you Sam, we are in agreement. You say, “They prove what the writers are: Frauds.” That is exactly what Anonymous the Stupid is, a fraud.

      3. You’re joking, I hope. I personally have not seen a dissertation worry of the name in either history or literature deserving of the name. Isn’t that why James Lindsay’s and Helen Pluckrose were able to have all their junk research published in “respectable” journals? (Rape culture in dog parks, LOL)

      4. Are you opining about the “good old days”? When you read about people like this having PhDs, anyone with any common sense knowsso much in academia has changed to not what one knows or exhibits, but who/what one is. These kinds didn’t earn the degrees, but got them to satisfy diversity/equity targets in enrollments, degrees, faculty, etc.

        1. NDA is an Agreement, between two consenting parties. Businesses do them all the time. For the consideration of XXX you will agree not to reveal any facts about YYY.
          Agreeing to keep a secret is not an infringement

  7. Well ,let’s assume that all the senate Dems will vote for her , and all Republicans will vote against with VP Harris making the final vote.

    Is there any dem or repub that will vote differently?

  8. “The cancel campaign targeting Uhlig was led by figures like the New York Times’ Paul Krugman, who denounced him as the embodiment of “white privilege”

    What I find interesting is that when promoting slavery, black folk were considered less than a man. Though 3/5ths have many reasons, one reason was to clarify that a black person was not a complete person.He was considered was less than a man. Today the same mindset does it to white people under “white Privilege.” Either way, it is a disgusting display of racism that arises from the left, where both black and white people promote this racist attitude.

    1. I don’t think that’s right about the 3/5ths rule in the constitution. The main purpose of it was to count heads for purposes of determining the number of representatives a state would have in the House. The non-slave states wanted each slave to count as zero. The slave states wanted each to count as 1. It would be wrong to conclude from this that the North thought less of the slaves as persons than the South. It was purely a question of how to allocate power. They ended up compromising at 3/5.

      1. Daniel, you are absolutely correct about the reasons behind the 3/5ths clause. Historically enslaved people have been of any color, religion or from any country. How could those primarily in the south justify only blacks being condemned to slavery? ( I do not forget that America’s original enslaved people included whites and the indentured, who died at a greater rate.). Without question, blacks were just as much men as white persons, so there had to be justifications and part of that justification was one had to treat them as less than a man.

        I’m sorry for creating your question by not being careful enough when I made my point. Racists demeaned black people so they could enslave blacks while keeping whites free. Today racists are demeaning white people in the same way through things like ‘white ‘privilege.’ If one has a distaste for slavery, one should have the same distaste for singling out any race or religion as having less worth than anyone else.

  9. “Cook’s view that “free speech has its limits” is certainly consistent with many in the Democratic Party today.”

    The view that “free speech has its limits” is “certainly consistent with” our laws against such things as perjury, incitement, defamation, child porn, solicitation to commit crimes, blackmail, and copyright infringement. The issue isn’t whether “free speech has its limits” — it clearly does — but what those limits should be. You’d serve your readers better by acknowledging that free speech does have its limits instead of pretending that that’s the issue.

    “Democrats now routinely call for private censorship and speech controls.”

    And you routinely engage in private censorship of some of the comments on this blog. Which is of course wholly legal. But it is hypocritical to condemn others for behavior that you also engage in while pretending that it’s just others who do this.

    That said, I agree with Uhlig that people should have “have serious, earnest, respectful conversations about it all.” Cook should be questioned about her speech views and how they might intersect with her job.

    If *you* want to “have serious, earnest, respectful conversations about it all,” perhaps you should invite one of the people you’d criticized to have a public conversation with you about it and post the transcript as a column.

    1. One might suggest to you to build your own blog and do as you suggest to our host. But, nahhhhh, who would visit it except for your colleagues at Act Blue to give the appearance of a unified front?

      Note to Act Blue admins: send us better trolls.

    2. “The view that “free speech has its limits” is “certainly consistent with” our laws against . . .”

      Those who want to usurp rights and control others, always conflate a right and a crime.

      That I do not have a right to steal my neighbor’s property, does not mean that there is a “limit” to my property rights. At best, that argument is a non sequitur.

  10. The failed nominee Raskin wanted to stop financing fossil fuel companies. This one is focused on censorship. How about a Fed nominee with a commitment to low inflation and a stable dollar?

  11. I don’t see how any Republican, or any Democrat who respects the value of free speech, could support this candidate. Fed research risks going the way of the politicised CDC’s.

      1. you don’t? Democrats want MONEY via POWER! They hate America…so she is Perfect!

        You have that way wrong. Most people do, so no shame.

        Power is the goal. Money only a tool to gain and exercise…power.

        1. “Power is the goal. Money only a tool to gain and exercise…power.”

          So the critical theorists aren’t totally wrong, they just have the wrong metric–it’s the ‘elites’ versus everyone else. 😉

    1. Let’s face it – free speech is not valued as it was by our founders in today’s world, political climate.
      Very sad and destructive .

  12. Ms Cook is a typical lefty – “Free speech for me, but not for thee.”

    Race and racism also appear to be factors in her life view.

    All-in-all, an ugly person.

    1. monumentcolorado: She would be a perfect MSNBC host. It is truly a remarkable time in America where black racist people get a pass. Not only a pass, but celebrated on the left. This is certainly toxic for the culture.

  13. “Doctor” Cook.
    Another Affirmative Action Puppet that cant withstand an open debate in an academic culture.
    The vast majorithy of “doctorates” suck a lot of capital out of system that they drag down rather than contribute to.

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