Wednesday, October 28, 2015

My C-J Article on the U of L Hooker Scandal

Reprinted with permission of the Courier-Journal

Katina Powell’s Breaking Cardinal Rules is a blemish on the face of the University of Louisville, but it is not the face. And like all blemishes, this sordid episode will eventually go away and the face will heal.
U of L is taking appropriate steps to investigate Powell’s allegations; we should reserve judgment until the facts are confirmed and that process complete. Calls for Coach Rick Pitino’s resignation are premature. He’s entitled to the same presumption of innocence any of us would want.
Even if Powell’s allegations are true, she does not, cannot fully and accurately portray U of L as an institution. Context matters. There’s a big campus outside Minardi Hall.
Based on exhaustive coverage of her e-book, I’m sure Powell makes no mention of theninety (90!) U of L students who have won Fulbright Scholarships since 2000. That’s more than all Kentucky schools combined. In several recent years, U of L led the nation in Fulbright winners, surpassing Harvard. The NCAA cannot take that away.
The Fulbright statistic reflects two realities. First, U of L is attracting smart students as quantified by the rise in its ACT scores. More important, U of L gives students with the desire and ability the mentoring, advising and encouragement they need to win scholarships like the Fulbright, Rhodes and Truman.
I doubt that Powell’s e-book mentions that this fall, thanks to a $6.3 million grant, U of L opened the John H. Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise at the College of Business. While self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders draws huge crowds, U of L is becoming a haven for the teaching and research of free enterprise and entrepreneurship as a way of  “advancing the well-being of society.”
Papa John’s Founder John Schnatter, the primary donor, wrote in this paper recently:
"The Center for Free Enterprise teaches that free enterprise empowers people to reach their full potential and achieve great things. It also teaches that everyone, regardless of his or her station in life, is blessed with gifts and talents that can be used to benefit others. When people are free to apply their skills and pursue their dreams, they are capable of finding tremendous self-fulfillment, self-esteem, and self-respect."
The Center for Free Enterprise is not just a huge catch for U of L; it also can play a critical role in our nation remaining a capitalist economy at a time when many “progressives” reject the concept of the free market. I particularly look forward to the Center's speaker series.
The Center for Free Enterprise is the latest vehicle to draw top-notch students to U of L under President Jim Ramsey, but by no means the only one.
Take, for example, the McConnell Center for Political Leadership, of which I am honored to serve as chair of its Board of Advisers. The McConnell Center offers not just scholarships, but seminars, trips and programming for undergraduates, as well as civics education for Kentucky teachers and a strategic broadening seminar for select members of the U.S. Army. Many of its lectures and speeches are open to the public. (Those who enjoy history and politics should get on its mailing list.)
The Brown Fellows Program similarly has caused many high-caliber students to apply to U of L, matriculate and do important research, even overseas. And the U of L Honors Program gives students small, rigorous classes and opportunities for additional international travel.
I admit that I view U of L through the prism of proud parent of a current undergraduate who is getting an excellent education. He is challenged, knows many of his professors well, and while working hard is enjoying his experience as Cardinal immeasurably. Like 5,000 U of L students, he lives in campus-affiliated housing.
U of L is no longer a commuter school. New construction has rendered the campus unrecognizable compared to when I moved here 20 years ago. This, in turn, has drawn new restaurants and shops near campus.
U of L has benefited from a powerful and loyal alum, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He has been an important champion of U of L, helping it secure millions of dollars in federal and private money. The transformation of U of L’s campus is a direct result. That metamorphosis  continues: The U of L Foundation expects to spend another billion dollars in new construction by 2020.
The U of L student who sued Powell for allegedly tarnishing U of L and diminishing the value of her education should take heart when that suit is dismissed, as it will be. The Powell saga will pass. No matter how it is resolved, no matter what the NCAA does or the news coverage that ensues, U of L will move forward, and upward.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Dem Debate Was a Snoozefest

I was the only member of my family who stayed awake for the whole thing.

What an unimpressive, unattractive and unlikable group of candidates. And how homogeneous: it looked like an all-white meeting of the AARP.  

As I watched Bernie Sanders, I kept thinking that he reminded me of someone, but I had a hard time discerning who that was, He looks somewhat like Dick Cheney. When he speaks, or rather yells, however, he reminds me of a socialist Archie Bunker.

My favorite part of the debate was when Anderson Cooper asked if anyone else on the stage was a socialist. Hillary dissembled about her love for small business, but it didn't matter. The fact that the question even needed to be asked should have told the American people all they need to know about the Democrat Party of today. Not that much of America was watching,

Obama's infomercial at the beginning -- replete with images of Joe Biden -- was something.  Not sure what, but something. Whoever edited it to include the shots of Uncle Joe plainly was no fan of Hillary. That big screen of the infomercial looming above the debate auditorium reminded me of a scene in 1984, where the proletariat watches a propaganda movie. I kept waiting for Obama to tell us that "we have always been at war with Eastasia,"

Hillary's performance was predictably robotic (at the risk of being redundant). Hillary needs some artificial intelligence so she can learn to emote. I hope and pray that she is the nominee.

She was lucky to have Webb, O'Malley and Chafee on the stage to make her look better by comparison, which is not saying much.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Coal Becomes Bipartisan -- At Least in Swing States

Democrat candidate for governor Jack Conway didn't always love coal. Back in the day, he drew support from the Sierra Club. Not this year, at least in terms of campaign contributions.

Conway is competing with Republican nominee Matt Bevin in a gubernatorial race that appears to be a statistical tie. One of the reasons that Conway is doing as well as he is in an increasingly red Kentucky is that Conway has been careful to reiterate his support for the coal industry. Indeed, Conway and Bevin appear to be indistinguishable on the issue.

Conway has opposed the Obama administration's Mercury and Air Toxics rule.  He also joined attorneys general of other states in lawsuits to halt new ozone rules. Conway says that he will not continue outgoing Democrat Gov. Steve Beshear's plan to implement Obama's anti-coal rules. (One has to wonder whether Beshear would have a change of heart on the issue if he were not term limited.)

It is no surprise that Conway has seen the light, so to speak. In Kentucky, coal literally keeps the lights on. The Obama administration's relentless attack on the coal industry has contributed to an economic crisis in Eastern Kentucky that long ago ceased to be a recession. It is a depression that has caused enormous suffering.

Conway is not the only Democrat to have an epiphany regarding coal. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, like Conway is the Democrat nominee for governor. Koster recently announced that he will join more than a dozen states that are suing the Environmental Protection Agency to halt new rules that are supposed to cut carbon emissions -- rules that are designed to kill the coal industry once and for all.

Koster's reasoning applies with equal force to Kentucky:  coal keeps utility rates down, and that gives the state an advantage in luring new businesses. (Unfortunately, Democrats' opposition to right to work, tax reform and tort reform negates that advantage regarding energy on job creation.)

Conway and Koster demonstrate that coal is becoming a bipartisan issue. Not in states on the East or Left Coasts, perhaps. But in states where the two parties are competitive, the economic impact of the rules has transcended the political. As voters have come to the realization that the EPA regulations would raise their own utility rates, Democrats have likewise come to understand that policies that kill the coal industry can also kill their political aspirations.

Moreover, voters -- and candidates -- have begun to realize that Obama's carbon rules are regressive:  they hurt poor people disproportionately.

As Harry Alford, President of the National Black Chamber of Commerce testified before Congress, Obama's Clean Power Plan would raise energy costs by 16 percent for blacks and by 19 percent for Hispanics. Minorities are slipping further and further behind in the Obama economy; the new carbon rules just makes it that much harder for people to escape poverty.

All those people who complain that we need more bipartisanship should be pleased to see that opposition to the Obama war on coal is becoming bipartisan.

For those who haven't thought deeply about coal or climate change, here's an additional reason to oppose Obama's regulations:  they run 1,560 pages and contain 76 different acronyms,  How can any business, in any sector, survive that kind of regulation?  If Obama really cared about the environment he'd tell the EPA to stop killing so many trees.

Consider, too, that these regulations are not part of a statute that Congress passed. It is a safe bet that not a single member of Congress has read all 1,560 pages. Anonymous bureaucrats -- unelected an unaccountable -- drafted the carbon regulations. Anyone who cares about limited government and transparency in the democratic process therefore should oppose the anti-coal regulations on that basis alone.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My C-J Column on Title IX Kangaroo Courts

Reprinted with permission from the Courier-Journal

Colleges must be terrifying places these days, with the supposed explosion of rape on campuses. Why would any parent pay $60,000 a year for private tuition if there truly is a “rape culture” on college campuses?
Also frightening:  the response to this rape “epidemic” has led to an increasing number of students who are falsely accused of sexual assault and subjected to Star Chamber prosecutions on campus.
Typically the accuser is a young woman and the accused is a young man, but not always.
Some friends shared with me their daughter’s experience of such a situation at an elite college in another part of the country. Their daughter was accused by a former friend of sexual assault. The accuser complained to the college.
What happened next requires some background on an Obama administration initiative against campus sexual assault; that culminated in Title IX policy from the obscure Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) in the Department of Education.
Title IX, enacted in 1972, prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive any federal funds (nearly all colleges and universities). It’s the statute that led to increased opportunities for women to play sports and receive athletic scholarships.
In 2011, OCR announced in a Dear Colleague Letter that Title IX applies to sexual assault and that schools that are not proactive enough in addressing sexual assault will be punished. To avoid the risk of losing federal funds, schools responded by instituting pseudo-judicial tribunals to address sexual assault accusations.
My friends’ daughter was hauled in front of one of these campus kangaroo courts. She was fortunate: her parents understood that she needed a lawyer. And they could afford to hire one to represent her in this burgeoning area of law — defending students accused of sexual assault not in court, but in Title IX proceedings. However, because the rules of the campus hearing did not permit her to have a lawyer present, her lawyer could only accompany her as an “adviser.”  That is, he had no right to make objections or cross-examine witnesses.
As a group of 28 Harvard Law professors noted, Harvard’s proposed procedures for conducting Title IX investigations and hearings lack the most basic elements of fundamental fairness and due process. The procedures stack the deck against the accused.
That’s exactly what OCR wants. For example, OCR requires the standard of proof to be the much easier to prove “preponderance of evidence” (50.01 percent) rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt” (99.9 percent). Typically there are no sworn statements or subpoenas, no rules of evidence. No right to an attorney or right against self-incrimination.
Fortunately, witnesses — other than the accuser — were truthful and my friends’ daughter was exonerated. She was not expelled or labeled a sex offender. She graduated on time notwithstanding the distraction and stress of the false accusation. Her parents will be paying off that legal bill for years but consider it money well spent. The college, meanwhile, with a hubris only the Academy could muster, continues to ask this family to donate to it.
Sexual assault, when it really occurs, is a crime. It should be investigated by professional law enforcement, not campus police. It should be prosecuted by actual prosecutors —not college administrators. Expulsion from college is not a sufficient punishment for rape:  jail is. To the contrary, merely expelling a true perpetrator just sets him free to rape non-students.
However, boorish behavior should not be equated with sexual assault. By failing to make that distinction, Syracuse University’s recent decision to ban the “kiss cam” from the Carrier Dome trivializes the seriousness of rape and non-consensual sex.
The recent AAU survey used to quantify the so-called “epidemic” of rape is problematic not just because only 19.3 percent responded to the survey. It defined “Sexual assault” and “sexual misconduct” so broadly that it included “remarks about physical appearance.”  That may be sexual harassment; it’s not sexual assault.
Likewise, spontaneous inebriated sex does not necessarily constitute sexual assault. It depends on the facts and circumstances; it is too nuanced for college  tribunals to adequately address, while trying to prevent an OCR shakedown.
As Glenn Reynolds has written, the supposed explosion in rape and sexual assault on campus is media hype of a phony crisis to justify federal intervention. The rate of rape and sexual assault, like violent crimes generally, has plummeted. And it’s lower for college students (6.1 per 1,000) than non-students (7.6 per 1,000).
Sexual assault is wrong, pure and simple. So is leveling a false accusation.
Colleges should take steps to protect students from crime, including sexual assault, and provide resources to victims. We expect colleges to take reasonable measures to keep their students — our children — safe. Not just from rape, but from false accusations of sexual assault.