Monthly Archives: July 2012

NCAA acting as judge, jury, and executioner: What could possibly go wrong?

Many quarters praised the NCAA for not wasting time with its own investigation of the Sandusky affair, which would inevitably take forever and cost a fortune, but rather relying on the report prepared by Louis Freeh’s company.  However, the NCAA’s purview is entirely different from the university’s itself (and, of course, from those of a civil court or criminal prosecutor):  “The NCAA’s job is to investigate whether Penn State broke its rules and whether it gained a competitive advantage in doing so”—i.e., not the same objective as the Freeh report.

For that matter, what is the NCAA’s interest in this case, beyond any interest of the university itself, the criminal justice system, or the tort lawyers?  None.  Sandusky’s conduct and the corruption at Penn State were horrific, but none of this is alleged to have impacted any Penn State students or anything impacting the competition on the field.  Would the NCAA have similarly intervened if Sandusky shot up a shopping mall while wearing his PSU hat?

The NCAA’s punishment was a gross violation of “the rule of law,” such as there is one that pertains to its relationship with member universities.  It seemed to invent the rules that the university broke and the appropriate punishments as it went along.  Its Orwellian punishment—pretending past Penn State victories (but not losses, apparently) didn’t exist—seems to have nothing to do with the crimes committed.

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To anyone who thinks that my book validates criticism of Obama: You’re racist

We suppose that David Maraniss was taken aback when observers of President Obama found sections of his latest, apparently well-reported, book consistent with their critiques of Obama’s world view.  Lest polite society fear that Maraniss has fallen off of the politically-correct reservation, he felt compelled to take to the Washington Post to reassure us.

Meanwhile, an excellent piece by David Gelernter sums it up:  “What keeps this failed president above water?”  “His biggest asset is being black.”

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The likely ripple effects of Penn State

Sadly, the bureaucratization of risk management that Harvey Silverglate fears will become more prevalent in higher education.

This happens in large companies, too.  Most companies have “risk” or “compliance” czars (not to mention the human resources, accounting, and tax bureaucrats who impose their own constraints) who have to monitor, in very intrusive ways, all business activities to understand the company’s exposure to various forms of liability that can literally destroy the company.

The problem is that these risks do not, for the most part, derive from market competition, but rather from government regulations and from the tort bar.  The worst part is, corporate executives generally side with the “compliance” bureaucracy over the business line if there is a conflict—when the bureaucrat says, “you can’t do that business deal for XYZ reason,” the business manager finds it hard to argue against this claim.  Blanket restrictions substitute for normal business considerations—like judgment, balance, and common sense.

One example of this from our background was a decision that the CEO of our large professional services firm made saying that, due to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, we would simply not do work in Indonesia.  Sure, Indonesia is a minefield, but isn’t it a bit draconian to simply ban the pursuit of all work in such an important market?  Surely a company comprised of such intelligent, seasoned businesspeople could use its judgment to pursue business there in a viable way?

This is a typical example of how conservative large companies have to be.  In fact, large organizations—be they corporations or universities—look awfully like government organizations.  This is no accident; and is another success by the left in transforming our society toward a government-centered one.

The next discrete step in this convergence of large companies and government is government ownership of some companies.  We could easily see “Big 4” accounting industry becoming nationalized the next time we see an Enron-type scandal:  these firms perform, the argument will go, an essentially public service—making sure that the investing public (including, by the way, many public or quasi-public investment funds)—so their functions should be provided by the wise, benevolent government.

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Political interference in the Olympics is unacceptable (sometimes)

We loathe the “Olympic movement.”  That fact that it even ascribes that moniker to itself is evidence of its rot to the core—the corruption, venality, hypocrisy, and arrogance displayed by Olympic officials at the international levels rival those even of the United Nations.

So we found this article confusing:  “The IOC suspended Kuwait in 2010, saying there was evidence of political interference in the country’s sports movement,” but has resolved the issue so Kuwaiti athletes were allowed to compete under their own flag in 2012.

That point is hard to understand.  Are we to believe that Kuwait in 2010 was the only example in the world of “political interference in the country’s sports movement” or a lack of “independence of its sports movement”?  For all Gulf Cooperation Council countries, at a minimum, there is no difference between the public and private sectors when it comes to athletic development (or any other endeavor).  Olympic participation is completely controlled by the government.

How about the example of Greece.  How can that country’s Olympic Committee get away with kicking Voula Papachristou off of its Olympic team for a “racist” tweet?  Her case was steeped in political maneuvering.  Opinion leaders in Greece had targeted her for some time as a “known racist” and a notorious “supporter of right-wing political parties.”  So, in her case, the Olympic ban was basically an attempt to hound such a person out of mainstream society.

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