Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"We Stop, They Kill!"

Mary Kissel at the WSJ, sez Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren is "doubling down" on the "You didn't build it" narrative.
"China invests 9% of its GDP in infrastructure," she says in the commercial titled "Rebuild," which includes scenes of dour-looking construction workers. "America? We're at just 2.4%. We can do better."
Yeah, let's make America's economy more like the state-run Chinese version. That should sell.

But even more to the point, my very successful businessman brother (a Democrat) told me a story last year about a colleague being China. He was consulting with a new potato chip factory outside the city of Bejing. When his young wife went to visit him, she was met at the airport by a driver and taken on  the ride of her life.

There were brand new, gleaming highways alright. But no cars on them. They were all but empty of vehicles. There were used however, by scores of walking poverty-stricken peasants. During the trip, her driver actually hit one of them, a woman, knocking her to the pavement. He didn't stop but continued on at an even higher rate of speed. When the horrified wife told him he had to stop, the driver replied, "We stop, they kill."

Yeah, America needs to be more like China. Sheeesh!

Penn vs. PSU: A Tale of Two Scandals

Philly Mag's Richard Rys, the author of the excellent 2007 piece about the University of Pennsylvania's pathetic handling of the Scott Ward case to which I referred in Sunday's column, dropped me an email this morning. A nice one.

In it, he mentioned that he'd noticed the eerie similarities between the Sandusky and Ward cases back when the Penn State story broke last year and he posted a piece about it at the Philly blog. I just read it for the first time and it, too, is excellent.

Check it out here.

Stay tuned for more about all this in tomorrow's newspaper.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Buzz Bissinger and Me: Part II

The meeting I had scheduled tonight with Buzz Bissinger is off. I was notified of this in a two-page  letter from an attorney named Paul Lauricella.

"Kindly note that I represent Mr. Bissinger in connection with your column of July 29, 2012. Please direct any further inquiries to my attention."

In his letter, Mr. Lauricella accuses me all manner of journalistic malfeasance and demanded a retraction of my original column claiming that it "unnecessarily subjected" Mr. Bissinger to "undeserved ridicule" and "unwarranted attacks."

And he wrote this:
"You have compounded your initial lapse in journalistic integrity by baiting Mr. Bissinger, responding to his requests to remove the column with unprofessional mockery, and by demanding that he respond to criticism that were not even justified in the first place. For that reason, Mr. Bissinger will not be attending the meeting that had been arranged for this evening, as it is clear to me that your goal is to simply self-servingly trade upon his good name and needlessly malign him. As far as I am concerned, Mr. Bissinger should not be forced to "respond" to a controversy that you have invented."
Unprofessional mockery? Has Mr. Lauricella ever listened to Mr. Bissinger's radio show?

Mr. Lauricella, of course, made no mention of the fact that it was Mr. Bissinger who failed to respond to two emails and one phone call from me asking him if he knew anything about the Ward case before the column ran. Furthermore, Mr. Lauricella ascribes to me conclusions about Bissinger's actions, I did not come to, that I did not write, and that make no logical sense.

Mr. Lauricella also made no mention of the three Sunday morning phone calls I got from Mr. Bissinger, all profanity-laced diatribes and overhead by two witnesses.

Mr. Lauricella writes that Mr. Bissinger is considering his "legal options."

Aren't we all?

Senator Hayek

Philly Mag's Peter Kerkstra has a strong piece about Pat Toomey, our surprisingly moderate and effective U.S. Senator.

An American's Most Precious Right

Sunday morning in Cincinnati, Ohio, I am in a bagel joint. Waiting at the cash register for my wife and a friend to collect their order, I pick up the local newspaper and start reading. The front page story is about voting rights. It begins:
Each election year, Ohio residents cast thousands of ballots that are not counted.
Despite efforts to simplify the state’s voting to avoid widespread discarding of ballots, it could happen again in November’s presidential race.
The Enquirer, during a weeks-long examination of the state’s electoral procedures, found that voting – America’s most precious right and the foundation for all others – is a fragile civic exercise for many Ohioans.
I shake my head. Behind the counter is a girl, maybe 20 years old. Her name tag says Karol Lyn. She is petite and wearing glasses. I tell her I have a question for her.

"What would you say is your most precious right as an American citizen." She hesitates but just for moment.

"I would say freedom of speech."


So now I have another question? How is it that a 20-something-year-old cashier at a Bruegger's Bagels shop better understands the significance and primacy of the First Amendment, than the editors and staff writers at one of Ohio's largest newspapers? I mean, it's only the core right that protects the whole profession of journalism from government interference!

The idea that my right to free speech (or any of the others in the Bill of Rights) are contingent on my right to vote in any particular election is ludicrous. Those rights are protected by the U.S. Constitution and can't be "voted" away without changing the constitution. Yes, that can be done by vote but it sure takes a lot of them.

There is nothing "fragile" in the civic exercise of voting. In every election a tiny minority of voters spoil their own ballots by making mistakes and voting improperly. Concerns about voter fraud and stolen elections have led to new laws requiring voters to be able to prove they are who they say they are when the cast a ballot. As has been pointed out by others, you need an ID to fly on an airplane, to buy a beer, or a pack of cigarettes. Has our right to fly, drink, or smoke, really become "fragile?"

Utterly ridiculous.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Buzz Bissinger and Me

Here is today's column about the Penn State Sandusky case and the similarities between it and the relatively recent case of Professor Scott Ward, a known pedophile at the University of Pennsylvania who managed to keep on teaching at the Wharton School for 13 years after the first criminal charges were filed against him.

At the end of the column I mention that one of Philadelphia's most celebrated authors, the Pulitizer-prize-winning Buzz Bissinger seemed to have nothing to say about the Ward case back when it was going on but has been one of loudest critics of the Penn State situation and Joe Paterno.

Here is what I wrote regarding Mr. Bissinger:
Finally, I’d very much like to know where one of Penn’s most esteemed graduates, Pulitzer-prize-winning author Buzz Bissinger, stands on all this. After all, no single person in America has publicly expressed more outrage and disgust over the failures at Penn State University.
In his columns and TV appearances, Bissinger has not only applauded the sanctions against Penn State and the crippling of its football program, he has led the campaign to vilify the late Joe Paterno as a “dictator” and dangerous egomaniac. He has made clear that he finds the culture of big time college football sickening and directly blames it for the failure of nerve that allowed a sexual predator like Sandusky to run amok.

So what explains the culture at his own alma mater that allowed Professor Ward to continue his own decades-long crime spree?

If Buzz Bissinger weighed in on the Ward case, I couldn’t find it. But I would love to hear him explain why PSU should pony up $60 million for its allegedly protecting a pedophile and the Wharton school should not. Why PSU’s football program should be eviscerated and the academic institution that protected Ward by means of tenure and due process should not. And why not.

I don’t expect Bissinger to admit that his contempt for the culture of college football and all things Paterno has poisoned his view of this case. But more fair-minded journalists ought to have resisted throwing in with this torch and pitchfork crowd.

As this story continues to unfold, a few more decent souls may come to regret running with this rampaging herd of independent minds.

Friday, I called Bissinger to ask him if he knew about the Ward case when it was going on. Given his  vociferous interest in bringing child molesters and their supposed enablers to account, I thought he would be interesting to talk to.

I also sent him two e-mails. The first, telling him I was writing a column about the similarities of the two cases and asking him to call or write me. (The second to correct Ward's first name - I said it was Steven. It's Scott).

I didn't hear anything from Bissinger Friday or Saturday. The column ran without comment from him.

I did, however, hear from him Sunday morning. My wife and I were out of town, visiting friends and we were with them when he called.

To say that he was angry is a ridiculous understatement. He was spitting, fuming mad and in a expletive-laced, name-calling diatribe accused me of being unprofessional and "sandbagging" him. He said he was a "very busy" man and blamed me for his not getting back to me because I had neglected to include my deadline in the phone message or email.

(Just so you laymen know, it is by no means required or even common practice to hold an opinion piece until everyone mentioned finds the time to weigh in. Having worked for a daily newspaper himself, Bissinger's outrage on this is downright laughable.)

He said he "always respected" me and thought I was a "stand-up guy" but now his opinion had changed. He called me a "f------ a--hole" more than once.

During his spew, he said he didn't know anything about the Ward case, that he was busy writing a book at the time, and that even if he had known about it, he no longer worked for the Inquirer and had no forum on which to write about it. Then he went back to his swearing and name-calling.

I interrupted his diatribe to tell him that I was out of town and that I would be happy to talk to him when I returned. He said he had no interest in that. And that I could "f---" myself.

He hung up. But he called back a few minutes later and renewed his profanity-laden freak out. Near the end of it, he called me a "f---ing gutless coward."

At that point, I got pretty angry myself. I told him if he was going to call me a coward, I would prefer he do it "to my face" and that I would meet him wherever and whenever he wanted so he could do that. And we could see how that worked out.

By that time, however, I believe he'd hung up. 

Fortunately, he called back one more time almost a half hour later, while I was on my way to the airport. He said that he was going to get me "f---ing fired." He called me a  "whore" and other names. I again told him if he wanted to call me names he should have the guts to "do it to my face."

He said he was too busy. He said he was getting all sorts of emails from people based on my column. I told him he should answer them. I also pointed out that I understood that he has his own radio show, a megaphone, with which he could respond to such queries. 

I thought it was strange when he angrily replied that he only had "10 listeners." 

It was after my third demand that if he was going to call me a gutless coward, to do it to my face, he said, suddenly and more quietly, "When?" I said "Tomorrow night." He said, "Where?" I named a bar in Philadelphia. We settled on a time. He said he'd be there.

Later, I received this e-mail:
In advance of our meeting tomorrow, I want the column taken down off the Internet immediately. There are now dozens of tweets and Facebook posts and comments questioning my fairness and reputation. They are being disseminated everywhere. 
This is damaging to my career and I have no recourse since I have no idea of how many people are receiving them.
It is also the top trafficked story on the Delco Times website.
There is no basis that I knew about the Scott Ward storybecause I did know about it.You would have learned that had you interviewed me.
But despite the seriousness of what you wrote about me, you did not. You also would have learned that I had no forum to write about Ward even if I did know about it. I was writing books at the time.
Buzz Bissinger
To which I sent this reply:
The column will not be taken down in advance of our meeting tomorrow or at any other time. 
I have since heard that Bissinger posted a long diatribe against me on his Facebook page. Calling me, among other things, "unethical." That post, I have been led to understand, has since been taken down.

Let me reiterate, my column won't be.

I will post updates as they occur.

UPDATE: Here is the first email Bissinger sent Sunday morning right before he called me.
Of course Penn's conduct is outrageous and irresponsible. I didn't know when your column was running. I wasn't avoiding you. I am busy. You never told me you were going to make me the foil.
I had respect for you. Completely unfounded. Total ambush.
And the inference that I should have covered it. I wasn't at the Inquirer during any of this.
And you were too much of a coward to send me the column.
He has since written an email claiming that I didn't call him. I did. At his home. At least what I thought was/is his home. The woman on the message machine said it was the "Bissinger" residence. And I did send him another email at 4:57 p.m. Friday afternoon mentioning the name change.

Friday, July 27, 2012

In Aurora, Chivalry Lives

Nice column by Mona Charen on the sacrifice made by three men in Aurora to protect the women they loved.

More here from James Taranto and the New York Post:
Jonathan Blunk, 26, "threw his date, Jansen Young, 21, to the floor, pushing her under the seat. 'Stay down!' he told her, moments before he was shot to death." Blunk "drew on his military experience. 'He knew, and threw me on the ground and was like, "We have to get down and stay down," ' [Young] told the 'Today' show." She added: "He took a bullet for me."
Matt McQuinn, 27, was at the movie with girlfriend Samantha Yowler, also 27, and her brother, Nick. "When [the gunman] started firing into the audience, Matt and Nick, sitting with Samantha between them, 'both jumped sideways in front of her,' family lawyer Ron Scott told The Post. 'Matt took three hits, one in the chest, one in the back, and one in the leg,' he said." Samantha was wounded but survived. So did Nick.
Alex Teves, 24, "used his body to cover girlfriend Amanda Lindgren, Teves' grandmother Rae Iacovelli told The Post. 'He shielded her. He got down on the floor and covered her up,' said Iacovelli, . . . 'She was pulled out from under him. I don't know who pulled her out.' "

A Man for All Seasons: Including Football Season!

In an earlier post about the NCAA ignoring it's own rule book to righteously punish Penn State and the late Joe Paterno, I referenced a scene from A Man for All Seasons.

It sounds all the better coming from Paul Scofield as Thomas More.

(The man about whom they are speaking is Richard Rich, a liar and backstabber who later perjures himself to convict More. Rich sells his soul "for Wales." More, however, dies heroically - "The king's good servant, but God's first.")

Friday Funny


Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Lawyerly Look at the Freeh Report

I've provided my thoughts on the Freeh report. Now, here's a lawyer who REALLY takes it apart.

And not with a sledge hammer but a scalpel. Read it all!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Napoleon Dy-No-MITE!

Spencerblog's new favorite commercial...

UPDATE: Spencerblog's new favorite Australian 100-meter hurdler...

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Monday morning, the National Collegiate Athletic Association threw out its own rule book to join the mob of those demanding punishment for Penn State University.
This was an act of bureaucratic lawlessness and was justified by NCAA President Mark Emmert as he assumed his new job as NCAA judge, jury and executioner.
Wallowing in guilt and shame, PSU meekly accepted its punishment, which was spectacular in its potential legal pitfalls. The university handed Emmert the rope with which to lynch its legendary football program and the NCAA president took a zealot’s delight at the opportunity.
One man's opinion: Mine! Read it all here.

The NCAA has a constitution. If it had a Supreme Court this decision would have been thrown out 9-0.

UPDATE: From the comments:
Does something have to be written in a rulebook for us to know the difference between right and wrong?"
We have rulebooks, due process and laws for a reason and it's not always to punish the guilty. As made clear by Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons.
William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law! 
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake! 
Chew on that for a while. The More of Robert Bolt's play was truly a man for all seasons. Including, football season.

Preventing Mass Murder

Holman Jenkins asks, Could data mining have prevented the massacre in Aurora?

Interesting question.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Punishment Squad

Now the NCAA is about to jump onto the pile of Penn State bashers and haters.

Under the broadest of its powers and for violations not directly related to football, the NCAA is poised to announce it's sentence on the Penn State football program.

As usual, we will be told this is "for the kids," the "victims of child abuse everywhere." What this is about is joining the mob of sanctimonious Monday morning quarterbacks who have convinced themselves of their own righteousness and purity.

If the NCAA effectively hands down a "death sentence" for the football program, the new leaders of the university will only have themselves to blame. They hired Louis Freeh and accepted his conclusion-jumping report as if it was the gospel truth. But any sentient, still thinking, reasonable person should have doubts about exactly who knew what when about Jerry Sandusky. There is a difference between knowing something to be true (Sandusky's crimes) and not doing enough to find out if it's true.

The removal of the Paterno statue is over the top. John F. Kennedy did things far worse in both his personal and professional life than Paterno ever thought of doing. We know about Kennedy now, and his penchant for using and abusing young women. Martin Luther King was serial adulterer even as he preached the Christian gospel of civil rights.

So where are the demands to take their name off federal buildings, highways and airports? They don't exist because most grown-up Americans understand that even our best and brightest are flawed. None of them are perfect and some are far from it. We still celebrate their achievements, what they stood for, and what they came to symbolize.

The effort to redefine Joe Paterno as nothing more than a vain egoist willing to see children be sexually abused to protect his own legacy as saint is - at its core - a cowardly one. In the crucible of this scandal reputations are being blithely destroyed for the mere sport of it.

Not only has Paterno not been proven guilty of his "crime," neither have Tim Curley or Gary Schultz. How crazy is it to wait for their actual trial before judging them to be guilty?

They are accused of lying to protect themselves and a child molester from "bad publicity." But the nice thing about being part of a mob is that - unlike a jury - you don't have to wait for all the evidence to be presented before coming to a conclusion. Is there anything that might be shown in a court of law that might cause anyone to doubt the guilt of these men?

The NCAA believes it has enough information to pass judgement on Penn State and to declare a fitting punishment for the tens of thousands of students, football fans, and alumni who care about this school.

But I doubt it.

UPDATE: I thought so. The NCAA has imposed a 4-year ban on bowl appearances, fined the school $60 million and stripped Joe Paterno of credit for every win since 1998. More here.

Somehow, this is supposed to be justice.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Joker Rises

Comic book villainy strikes in Colorado. My print column is up.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Bad News for Obama Fans

He is slipping in the polls.
And in a sign that the newfound negative tone of the campaign may be backfiring, the poll showed Obama's favorability ratings - always his strong suit - at an all-time low as president.  Only 36 percent in the NYT/CBS poll view him favorably, a six-point drop over the last three months, with 48 percent viewing him unfavorably. Romney's favorables aren't good, either - 32/36 fav/unfav - but mutually assured destruction isn't going to win the election for the president.
The state-by-state numbers aren't any more encouraging.  Quinnipiac's just-released poll of Virginiavoters shows Obama and Romney tied, with Obama only polling at 44 percent.  Among non-college educated whites, Obama's job approval dropped even further, down to 29 percent, with only 40 percent of college-educated whites approving of his job performance.  To compensate in the Old Dominion, Obama would need overwhelming support from minorities and turnout comparable to their 2008 levels.
All told, the numbers paint a picture of voters growing increasingly disillusioned with the president.   By going hard negative against Romney, the president is landing some solid blows.  But without much of a positive governing agenda to campaign on, it doesn't look like that will be enough by itself.

Friday Funny

If You Build It, Obama Will Take the Credit

Liberal Democrats are attempting to spin comments by President Obama away from their spoken meaning. Apparently, America's greatest orator needs a team of translators to explain "what he meant to say" when he blundered last week...
“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
"The point is, when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires."
We are not supposed to take the President at his word (words) "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."

What he meant was that if "you have a business" all the people who "invested in roads and bridges" "made" your business "happen." That is, "government" made your business happen.

Charles Krauthammer explains how pathetically dumb (and revealing) Obama's statement is.

UPDATE: When it comes to his own administration, Cronyism Built That.

UPDATE II: At the end of his embarrassingly unscripted "You didn't build that..." speech,  the president tried to rescue himself by saying this...
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.
It was the equivalent of golfer getting his driver trapped behind him on the downswing, realizing it, and flipping his wrists to save the shot. But by that time, the ball was gone and in the weeds.

The cracks in the president's swing are beginning to show. He's hoping to win his match against Romney by yelling during his backswing "YOU SUCK!" Not very presidential or sportsmanlike but, it's all he's got. If Romney can keep from being distracted and his eye on the ball, he could be 4 up at the turn and coasting to victory.

Louis Freeh: Hypocrite?

A former graduate assistant Penn State football coach tells me he saw suspect behavior on the part of Jerry Sandusky during his two-year stint with the program. And he believes Paterno and others covered it up.

My print column is up.

Meanwhile, Louis Freeh had his own scandal to deal with when he was the head of FBI in the 1990s. According to the main whistleblower in the FBI crime lab fiasco, Frederic Whitehurst, Freeh was no truth seeker. He was a vindictive, institution-protecting bureaucrat.
“While I was reporting issues at the FBI crime lab, FBI Director Louis Freeh was doing every thing he could to shut me down including coming at me with proposed criminal charges, referrals for fitness for duty (psych evals), destroying my career, moving me around the lab like a rag doll, ruining my wife’s career. This man has no conscience and he is accusing Penn State managers of not taking any steps. He ought to be ashamed. Before the lab scandal is over you will find that Freeh was right in the middle of it. He did EXACTLY what the Penn State folks did.”
Over the years, the deficiencies in the crime lab resulted in hundreds, if not thousands, of people being found guilty of crimes they did not commit.

More here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Penn State vs. Duke

K.C. Johnson and Stuart Taylor compare the institutional handling of the Penn State scandal to the Duke lacrosse case.

In some respects Penn State's has been much better.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Quotes of the Day

If you build it, they will come. - Ray Kinsella, author Field of Dreams

If you build it, we will say you didn't build it. - President Barack Obama.

Defining Politics Down

It's campaign season and the "stupid moment" has arrived.

Maureen Dowd: Clown

Maureen Dowd has an hilarious column in today ripping Republicans for unfairly and cynically characterizing failed Democratic presidential candidates from Al Gore to John Kerry to Michael Dukakis.

She writes:
Usually, at this stage of a presidential campaign, Republicans are doing a much better job of sullying the Democratic candidate as un-American.
Michael Dukakis was accused of having a funny last name and failing to say the Pledge of Allegiance 10 times a day. John Kerry was faulted for acting French and eating Philly cheese steaks with Swiss cheese. Al Gore was into the earth and earth tones — need we say more?
It's hilarious because Dowd has made a career out of comically and cynically characterizing these very men as pathetic losers. She practically made the name Al Gore synonymous with "earth tones."

Even a few liberals have tired of Dowd's snarky dishonesty. Including Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler. in this recent post...
Over the past twenty-five years, Maureen Dowd has played an extremely destructive role in our journalistic culture. 
On Sunday, Dowd was clowning again, pretending to worry her small tiny brain about the size of Candidate Romney’s home. Yesterday, we helped you recall the days when she played this same stupid game with respect to Candidate Kerry. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/19/12.) 
We also helped you recall the way Dowd went after Candidate Kerry’s wife. Kerry’s wife was an obvious bitch, a point Maureen Dowd enjoyed stressing.
Of course, Maureen Dowd has slimed a long list of major male Democrats’ wives—and the career liberal world always sat there and took it. Finally, in June 2008, public editor Clark Hoyt savaged Dowd for an offshoot of this repellent conduct, right in her own New York Times. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/14/12.)
Expect Somerby to have something to say about Dowd's ridiculous screed today.

Second Thoughts on Penn State

My print column is up. In the comments, the lynch mob is alive and well.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"You Didn't Build That"

Barack Obama tells business owners "You didn't build that." And Mitt Romney shoves it down his throat.

UPDATE: The RNC does a pretty good job at punching back too.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Meet Randy Barnett

If want to learn something about constitutional law and libertarianism listen to this interview with Randy Barnett, the law professor who helped the Supreme Court see and declare that the Obamacare individual mandate was and is unconstitutional.

It's long (a half hour) but fascinating and instructive. If you don't have much time, just listen to the last three minutes.

Abusing Kids? That's What We Do

Joel Kotkin on how our generation has screwed over the "millennial" generation.
Today’s youth, both here and abroad, have been screwed by their parents’ fiscal profligacy and economic mismanagement. Neil Howe, a leading generational theorist, cites the “greed, shortsightedness, and blind partisanship” of the boomers, of whom he is one, for having “brought the global economy to its knees.”
How has this generation been screwed? Let’s count the ways, starting with the economy. No generation has suffered more from the Great Recession than the young. Median net worth of people under 35, according to the U.S. Census, fell 37 percent between 2005 and 2010; those over 65 took only a 13 percent hit.
The wealth gap today between younger and older Americans now stands as the widest on record. The median net worth of households headed by someone 65 or older is $170,494, 42 percent higher than in 1984, while the median net worth for younger-age households is $3,662, down 68 percent from a quarter century ago, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center.
And then Obama comes along and requires this same generation to buy health insurance that many don't want or believe they need so that old guys like me won't have to pay as much for what we get. Obamacare is just another transfer payment from young people to old.

Obama's Attack Machine

Having had one of his top campaign spokesmen accuse Mitt Romney of possible felonious conduct concerning his stewardship of Bain Capital, Obama says that Romney should answer questions about his stewardship of the private equity firm.

Or maybe he should just claim executive privilege.

Born Freeh and Rushing to Judgement

My Sunday column on the Freeh Report is up. It begins...
Going by the media reaction to The Freeh Report perhaps Louis Freeh should have held his press conference announcing his findings at the foot of Mt. Sinai.
After all, the conclusions Freeh reached about the culpability of Penn State officials are being accepted by the mainstream media as if they had been carved in stone by God Himself.
But Louie Freeh is no more God, than Joe Paterno is … or was.
The herd of independent minds is in full rampage.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Funny

The Freeh Report and What It Leaves Out

The media and public are lapping up The Freeh report as if it is the final word on the Penn State scandal. The report is full of debatable conclusions, characterizations and assumptions. But the most stunning thing about it to me is how it leaves out any criticism of Mike McQueary, the man who claims to have witnessed Sandusky raping a 10-year-old boy, did nothing to stop it, and later reported it in in the most ambiguous of ways. 

Having allegedly seen this criminal act performed with his own two eyes, McQueary admittedly left out the sort of details that would have guaranteed an immediate and thorough police investigation. His lack of specificity allowed Joe Paterno and the others to wonder if a crime had even occurred. If McQueary had told Paterno, Curley and Schultz what he told the grand jury does anyone doubt Sandusky would have been arrested within days, if not hours?

It is apparent that Paterno didn't push McQueary for greater detail about the incident when he should have. But there is no guarantee that McQueary would have provided them, given what he withheld from  his own father and Dr. Jonathan Dranov an hour after witnessing the crime.

It was McQueary's testimony and behavior during and after the incident that caused the jury in Sandusky's criminal trial reasonable doubt that a crime occurred. It was one of the few charges against Sandusky that didn't stick.

The Freeh Report blames Paterno, Curley, Schultz and Spanier in the most damning of terms. But there is not a scintilla of blame apportioned to the man who, by his own admission, withheld critical details and information from his superiors that would have ensured Sandusky would have been stopped then and there. 

There is no evidence that anyone at Penn State told McQueary to remain silent about what he saw. But for years he did. He could have gone to the police to child welfare or any other investigative body. He didn't. And HE - not Paterno, not Curley, not Schultz nor Spanier - was the eye-witness to this crime. Perhaps it was his own behavior at the time that kept him silent. Leaving the scene of the crime and a naked 10-year-old boy in a shower with his adult rapist is not something any responsible adult would do or want others to know.

It is just as reasonable to believe that McQueary didn't want Paterno, a man he revered, to know how horribly and gutlessly he behaved at the scene of the crime. It would certainly explain the lack of detail in his account to his coach.

But the Freeh Report makes no mention of any of that. Freeh concludes that Paterno, Curley Schultz and Spanier actively concealed evidence with "shocking" disregard for the child victims of Sandusky. Isn't McQueary's behavior and silence for 10 years just as shocking? Besides the children, no one had more direct knowledge of Sandusky's criminality than McQueary. Yet he escapes any criticism in the report.  

In response to Freeh's conclusions, the Paterno family issued a statement that included this paragraph:
One great risk in this situation is a replaying of events from the last 15 years or so in a way that makes it look obvious what everyone must have known and should have done.  The idea that any sane, responsible adult would knowingly cover up for a child predator is impossible to accept.  The far more realistic conclusion is that many people didn’t fully understand what was happening and underestimated or misinterpreted events. Sandusky was a great deceiver. He fooled everyone – law enforcement, his family, coaches, players, neighbors, University officials, and everyone at Second Mile.
There are two competing narratives here. Louie Freeh's says, Paterno and the other knew all about Jerry Sandusky, that he was a dangerous pedophile and that they knowingly let him harm more children out of fear of "bad publicity."

The other narrative is these men didn't actually believe Sandusky was a sexual predator. That they misjudged, underestimated, and misinterpreted. They made mistakes, they should have done more to investigate but they didn't intentionally, recklessly or with a care in the world, put more kids at risk to "protect the brand." 

Based on all the facts in the Freeh report the second is just as reasonable a conclusion to come to as the first.

Though it is obviously not as popular.

UPDATE: Oh yeah, my print column is up.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

It's the Standard of Living, Stupid!

Progressives rage against income inequality and would like to see "the wealth" more fairly distributed throughout society.

Matt Schoenfield explains why income distribution is far less important than how well the average family lives and what Michael Jordan has to do with it.
Critics today often point to the 1950s as the last years before American society became so divided between haves and have-nots. At the end of that decade, America's "Gini coefficient"—the most common measure of income inequality, running from 0 (least unequal) to 1 (most unequal)—was 0.37. Today it is 0.45. 
But in 1959, more than 20% of families fell below the poverty line. In 2010 that figure was just over 13%. Real per capita GDP today is 270% higher than it was in 1959. A family in the bottom fifth of the income distribution today makes the same amount in real terms as a family earning the median income in 1950. So inequality might have increased, but so too—dramatically—has quality of life.
Read it all.

Paternos Getting Out Front of Freeh Report

In anticipation of the Freeh report being released tomorrow by Penn State, the family of Joe Paterno has released a statement. Here it is:
Over the last nine months Joe Paterno has been praised by some in near saintly terms and criticized by others as a villain. He was neither.
As the people who worked closely with Joe know, he was tough, aggressive, opinionated and demanding. He was also highly principled, uncompromisingly ethical, dedicated to his job at Penn State and committed to excellence.
When the Sandusky case exploded last fall, Joe's first instincts were to tell everything he knew. He assumed the University would want to hear from him, but he was never given the chance to present his case.
He planned to hold a press conference, but University officials ordered him to cancel it. And then the various investigations started and the legal process took over. On top of everything else, Joe was diagnosed with lung cancer. Two months later he was gone. The end result is his story has never fully been told.

Read more »

An Unmitigated Delight!

Spencerblog is watching Topsy-Turvy... for the 4th time. It gets better every time we see it.

Our Golfer-in-Chief

Pinterest congratulates President Obama on his 100th round of golf while in office. Included in the various fancy places the Commander-in-Chief has played at Grove Park in Ashville, N.C.

As it happens I played Grove Park while visiting relatives in the Tar Heel state last year. The clubs President Obama used were on display outside the pro shop.

Nice sticks. Pretty course. I begrudge the president nothing when it comes to his teeing up every chance he gets.

Hopefully, he will have even greater opportunities to hit the links after November.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Obamacare: It's Shimmer!

The argument over whether the Obamacare individual mandate is a penalty or a tax is ridiculous. It's a penalty AND a tax.

Like Shimmer...

It's a floor wax AND a dessert topping...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hope and Change? Well, Change Anyway

President Obama has changed the country, voters say, but for the worse...

Facing the 60s Music

Robert Samuelson explains that our government finance problems started in the 60s with the Keynesian disregard for the danger of debt and high deficits.
The blunder of the Sixties has had a long afterlife. Economic policy is trapped between weak demand and the fears of too much debt. Yesterday's Keynesians undercut today's Keynesians. "In the long run we are all dead," Keynes said. But others are alive -- and suffer from bad decisions made decades ago. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Don't Worry, Be Happy!

Pelosi's Paradox Solved

Thanks to the CERN super collider, "Higgs boson" has been discovered. And now thanks to Democratic scientists inside the "Beltosphere" the existence of "Roberts' Taxon" has been conclusively disproven...

Iowahawk reports:
WASHINGTON DC - Jubilant scientists at the DNC's High Speed Word Collider (HSWC) announced today they have conclusively disproven the existence of Roberts' Taxon, the theoretical radioactive Facton particle that some had worried would lead to the implosion of the entire Universal Health Care System.
"I think it's time to pop the champagne corks," said HSWC Director David Plouffe. "Then blaze some choom."
The landmark experiment in Quantum Rhetoric began early this week after legal particle cosmologist John Roberts published a paper in the Quarterly Journal of Tortured Logic that solved the long-debated Pelosi's Paradox in Universal Health Care Theory.
"Pelosi's Paradox states that in order to find out what is in a health care bill, it would have to be passed," explained physicist Steven Hawking. "But in order to be a law it would have to be constitutional, which means someone would have to know what was in it, which would mean it couldn't have been a bill in the first place. Think of Schroedinger's Cat, except with a lobotomy."

Natural Born Killer

Just saw "The Devil's Double" on Netflix...

Uday Hussein makes Tony Montana look like an Eagle Scout.

They Killed Kenny! Not Kenney!

Delco President Judge Chad Kenney graciously answered a number of questions designed to help county residents know their President Judge better.

Unfortunately, "Getting to Know New President Judge" did not include spelling his name correctly in the intro. But you get the idea.

In the Heat of the Night

When it's hot out, people get cranky. In Chester, that can be lethal.

Pass the Strawberries

Getting ready for Breakfast at Wimbledon.

Andy Murray is the first Brit in 70 years to make it to the finals. All he has to do now is beat Roger Federer.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

I Know Just How He Feels...

He Should Join Gamblers Anonymous

President Obama sez he's "Betting on America." Actually, he's asking America to double-down on him. History, the dealer, is showing a King and the president wants us to hit a 16. Sheeesh!

James Taranto has more...

Not even Trent would double down on that hand.

Hey Mitt, how about a new shoe?

Obama's Great White Lie

And for a guy who touts U.S. made vehicles, his bus was made in Canada.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Anyone for Mandatory Voting?

I'm not. My print column is up.

Coming Soon...


UPDATE: Maybe the administration can sue and get this movie declared "unconstitutional."

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Took Jake Spencer and his buddy Brian to see the new Spiderman in 3D this afternoon. I had low expectations but it was terrific! It MUST be seen in 3D. I don't care how stupid you feel in the glasses.

The trailer doesn't begin to do it justice.

P.S. As good as the trailer was for War Horse, the movie stunk! Spiderman is just the opposite.

If A Woman Tells You She was Gang Raped...

I tuned in late this morning to WHYY's Radio Times but just in time to catch a female caller emotionally recalling how she was "gang raped" back in late 70s or early 80s when she was in the Air Force.

The call came in response to the morning segment which was about how thousands of women in the U.S. military are victims of sexual assault each year. Marty Moss-Cohane's guest was the producer of a documentary called The Invisible War on the subject.

But here's the thing: The more I listened the more I had doubts about the woman's story about what she claimed happened to her so many years ago.

She said on the night this happened that her roommate was entertaining a male guest in their room so she was in some common area when this really nice, good looking male cadet came up and talked to her. She described him as "Mr. Super Handsome Wonderful" and that she never thought he would pay any attention to her. But he did.

"He started talking to me. And he said 'You don't have anyplace to sleep, why don't you sleep in my room. And I was like, um Oh, I guess, I guess I'm OK with that. It never like occurred to me that anything would happen... That was really naive of me, I guess. And he took me in and... I figured we were going to mess around. He had turned out the light and we were starting to have sex and then his roommate came in... And then other men started to come in. I have no idea how many. They just started coming in and coming in... Then next day I told my roommate and girlfriend and they said don't report it because they are not going to do anything about it."

No idea how many? Did she fight? Complain? Had she been drinking? We don't know.

And it was at that point, Marty gently stopped and told her how "sorry" she was for what happened to her and then invited her guest to weigh in. Jean was thanked for sharing her terrible story and told what happened that night was not in anyway her fault and that there were thousands like her who had suffered in silence.

So that was pretty much it.

Now, I get that having a radio show and inviting callers on to tell stories can be a dicey affair. It's not like you or your producer is going to be able fact-check a story from 30 years ago. And when somebody tells you of some horrible assault that happened to them, you're in a sticky place of having to believe them, or pretend to...

But here was a anecdote that fit the narrative of the story Marty and her guest were telling and there was no point actually questioning whether it was true or not. But the lack of skepticism, the accepting of this story at face value is bothersome.

One of journalism's hoariest cliches concerning the need for detached skepticism is this: If your mother tells you she loves you... check it out. Certainly, that same sort of skepticism ought to apply to an anonymous caller who tells you a bizarre story about being gang-raped by a bunch of Air Force cadets 30 years ago. 

In any case, I think as a professional courtesy Marty Moss-Cohane could have spared us her deep sighs and soulful expressions of sorrow as this emotional tale was being told. That is, if she still considers herself a journalist and not some sort of counselor/therapist.

Her behavior reminds me of that scene in Broadcast News where William Hurt airs his expose on date rape and shows himself weeping in response to his own interview.

As the only real bona fide newsman at the station, Albert Brooks, cracks,"You really blew the lid off nookie."

No wonder he didn't get the girl.

(You can listen to the Radio Times segment here. Jean's call come at about the 23:30 mark.)

After listening to the broadcast, I came across this story. It shows why journalists and cops should keep their wits about them when interviewing self-proclaimed victims, who might turn out not to be crime victims at all.

Anderson Cooper is liberal! I care!

Gotta' love this headline from the Philly Daily News:
Anderson Cooper is gay. Who cares?
Who cares? Presumably a lot of people. Otherwise it wouldn't be "news." Right? The "news" wouldn't have made it into the newspaper.

What the headline writer and newspaper is trying to suggest is that people shouldn't care that Anderson Cooper, or anyone else, is gay because being gay is now so common... and kind of awesome.

And yet, it's not that common, though people mistakenly think that it is. According to a Gallup survey last year, a majority of U.S. adults believe that one in five people are gay. The actual number is  closer to 1 in 50.

Why the misperception? Why do you think? The media/hollywood/industrial complex has  exaggerated the presence of gay people in our society beyond their actual numbers. Understandably so.

Let's face it, gay people are more interesting than straight people. They are often very smart, funny, and talented people. They go into the arts, the media, fashion and big business. Not all, of course, but a disproportionate number do. And as a group, they are more successful than straight people. At least, they make more money.

And yet, like that joke Chris Rock tells about being black, a straight guy wouldn't trade places with the richest gay man in the world. Tell me I'm wrong!

Homosexuals in polite society didn't use to admit being gay, it was just understood by their friends and even their families. Then, with the gay rights movement, "coming out" almost became a duty. That it took Anderson Cooper so long to do it in this day and age, irked many gays and sophisticated straight people.

So finally, he did it. And it wasn't an admission. It was a celebration.

"The fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn't be any more happy, comfortable with myself and proud." Cooper wrote to fellow gay man Andrew Sullivan. His reticence in coming out sooner he attributed to his own sense of personal privacy and professionalism.

But you've still got to love the "Who Cares?" Anderson is being praised and getting "love bombed" for his public announcement.

As reported in the New York Daily News:

The decision to go public now brings the subject to a larger general audience — a move experts predicted won’t hurt his career and one that fans and friends cheered.
“This wasn’t some shocking announcement; this is certainly something that people have been saying for a long time,” said Robert Thompson, pop culture professor at Syracuse University.
Media strategist Shari Anne Brill agreed. “For those people who think it’s an issue, they’re probably watching Fox News anyway,” she told the Daily News.

An issue? I suppose Ms. Brill means that those Fox New watching sort of people will question Cooper's professional objectivity on certain matters when covering issues like gay rights, AIDS, same-sex marriage, etc. Maybe. That he referred to Tea Party activists as "tea baggers" a sexual term known well in the gay community certainly raised past questions about his "professionalism" and "objectivity."

Also, I recall Cooper's aggressive questioning of a spokesman for the Milton Hershey School and its decision not to accept an HIV-positive 13-year-old applicant and Cooper's assertion that the kid posed virtually no risk to the 1,800 other students at the boarding school. That Cooper and CNN found a host of public health professionals to interview who also downplayed the risk of knowingly admitting an HIV-positive teenager to a boarding school for teenagers is hardly surprising. But it certainly reflected Cooper's personal attitude on the subject. Clearly, he was more concerned with the kid's civil rights than he was with the school's right to consider potential risks to other students over the next four or five years.

There was not a whiff of Cooper being an objective or disinterested journalist in that case. He was acting purely as an advocate for the kid and the cause. Did he do this because he is gay? Maybe. But more likely it is because he is a liberal. Now there's something more CNN talking heads should come out and admit.

Anyway, I loved the headline and would like to see more of them.

John Travolta is gay. Who cares? 
Green Lantern is gay. Who cares?
Obamacare Upheld. Who Cares? 
Phillies Lose! Who Cares? 

I do!

Monday, July 2, 2012

WSSD Head Cases

The Wallingford Swarthmore girls soccer team will look ridiculous next season.

 And it just goes to show how little WSSD cares about boys.


It could be worse.

UPDATE II:  You should definitely wear a helmet while doing this...

h/t Secret Squirrel's Nut House

Sunday, July 1, 2012

He Was Agin It Before He Was For It

On the health insurance "mandate" Obama changed positions more often than Jenna Jameson