Sunday, August 28, 2011

My Sunday Feeling,Which Today Is Mostly Frustration

Blogger inexplicably ate today's post while I attempted to edit same.  I ain't got time today to do a rewrite, so the literary world will have to go elsewhere for amusement.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My Sunday Feeling

North Carolina and THE Ohio State University can breathe a completely undeserved sigh of relief.  The NCAA has bigger fish to fry.  Last week Yahoo Sports broke the story that a scumbag Miami Hurricane booster named Nevin Shapiro showered Hurricane athletes with gifts and money since 2002.  Shapiro, pictured above with former Miami basketball coach Frank Haith and Miami President Donna Shalala at a fundraiser is doing 20 years in prison for operating a 930 million dollar Ponzi scheme.  The $ 50,000 check held in Dr. Shalala's hands?  Completely hot.  Stolen from his "investors."

The NCAA investigation involves 73 current Miami and former athletes and @ 7 coaches.  You can read about it here:

When, this news first broke the phrase "death penalty" was instantly bandied about in the sports community.  They refer, of course, to the NCAA's banning SMU from playing football for 2 years back in the eighties.  My initial thought was that the NCAA would never do that to a program again.  Indeed, SMU has just now become remotely competitive again.  Besides, the Mustangs scandal not only involved the boosters but the coaches were in on it and the SMU administration was aware of it.  Hell, even the Governor of Texas back then knew about it.  If any program deserved getting nuked it was SMU. 

But I am having second thoughts as the Miami deal is getting worse with each passing day.  First of all, the Miami Hurricanes are no stranger to the NCAA slammer.  Indeed, they were on probation in 2002 when Shapiro says he started his activities.  Rumor has it that the NCAA has advised Miami that it will invoke the "wilful violators" clause in the NCAA by-laws to increase the "lookback" period beyond the the usual 4 years.  If Miami was violating the "extra benefit" rule while on a period of probation this will not go well for them. 

Secondly, as Yahoo reported, Shapiro, in a drunken rage, tried to fight Miami's compliance officer in the press box during a game.  They should have banned him from the program then but didn't.  Secondly, Shapiro says that Miami  investigated him after that incident and discovered all the swag he was providing the players.  And did nothing.  Why should Shapiro be believed?  After all he's a convict.  Well, so far he has been right on the money according to Yahoo, convicted con-man or not.

If this is true, Miami is toast.  The NCAA will have to come down harder on Miami than Southern Cal and Tennessee.  Here's why.  The head of the Committee on Infractions in above-referenced investigations was a man named Paul Dee.  Guess what?  Dee was the Athletic Director at Miami when most of these alleged violations took place.  And it has been reported elsewhere that Dee approved Shapiro to participate in a mentors' program back in 1995.  No, whatever the NCAA does to Miami, if it can prove a lack of institutional control and/or actual knowledge of what Shapiro was up to while its former top cop was the AD it will not be pretty.

Of course, the delicious irony in all of this is that Butch Davis was brought in to Miami to shut down the party and appease the NCAA after Dennis Erickson got them put on probation. As you may recall, Butch Davis just got fired at North Carolina for NCAA violations during his watch.

The only reason a punk like Nevin Shapiro got within spitting distance of the athletic department at Miami, much less on the sidelines, was because he gave them so much money.  Even if it wasn't his to give.

Which leads to another observation.  If the Federal Judge in Shapiro's criminal case ordered a Trustee to try to "clawback" the money that Shapiro gave to Miami they may get to cough it all up AND suffer what are sure to be crippling sanctions from the NCAA.

A cautionary tale for all Division I schools.  Get a handle on the boosters.  If it is even possible.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Of Course, This Is Not True

" Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous, or treasonous, in my opinion."- Gov. Rick Perry

Texas Governor and Tea Party Presidential candidate Rick Perry gives us the opportunity to resurrect the first of what undoubtedly will be the first of many OCTINT posts during this political season.

Gov. Perry's remarks concerned the possibility of the Federal Reserve, and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke,  qualitatively easing the money supply to help stimulate the economy.  Perry, and many others, may believe that this is a bad idea and they are entitled to their opinion.  But it ain't treason.  Says who?  The Constitution of the United States and the United States Criminal Code.

The Founding Fathers, oft misquoted by the Tea Partiers, defined treason in Article III, Section 3[1] as follows in pertinent part (or in pari materia as I like to say frequently in casual conversation at the grocery store):  "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them,or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." (emphasis supplied). 

Maybe I missed it but I didn't see in the paper where the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors attacked Kansas.  Or that Mr. Bernanke was caught giving lemonade to members of the Taliban.

Turning to my home edition of the United States Criminal Code, the one that I stole from the Office of the Inspector General (I have a home version of the United States Bankruptcy Code and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure as well.  While these tomes are not on my nightstand, the question of why I live alone is something of a moot point given the reading material I possess.) we see the codification of the definition in the Constitution.

18 U.S.C. 2381 states, " Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States."

Which is pretty screwed up if think about it.  The range of penalties if you are convicted of treason is death toooooooooooo 5 years, a 10k fine and you can't run for County Judge.  No matter.  Uncle isn't really going to fool with you for this reason unless you are Tim McVeigh.  And you will note that he is usually referred to in the past tense.

But I digress. 

Do I really think that Rick Perry believes that Ben Bernanke deserves the death penalty if the Federal Reserve "prints more money?" No.  But treason is not a word that should be bandied about in political discourse.  Treason is not only, well, treason but it is a legal concept first defined with acute precision in the Constitution.  And to equate the Fed's exercise of its legal authority to regulate the banks and execute the monetary policy of the United States is palpably irresponsible and panders to the lowest common denominator in the electorate.  Which, of course, seems to be working. Which is why I'm fixing to ask my old Hendrix College buddy over in New Zealand who coaches track if he needs an assistant. 

 But is "printing money" an act of treason?  No.  Of course, this is not true. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My Sunday Feeling

Last week was crazy.  Standard and Poor's, evidently not satisfied with helping cause the economy to crater in 2008, decided to have another go at it by lowering the credit rating of the United States which caused the stock market to go through the floor.  The 6th Circuit ruled Obamacare unconstitutional.  Texas Governor Rick Perry threw his cowboy hat into the ring of lunatics that are seeking the Republican nomination for President.  Perry, who practically speaks in unknown tongues on the stump, recently said in an interview that he thought Social Security was unconstitutional.  He will fit in well with the psychotics and bigots that have hijacked the GOP for the time being.  So do I want to write about any of this stuff?

Hell, no!  I want to write about something important.  I want to write about the latest shake-up in college sports, namely, that Texas A & M, is joining the Southeastern Conference along with Clemson and Florida State.  The earlier rumor that Missouri was going to follow the Aggies over into the land of Bear Bryant and UGA the bulldog was just that.  The Tigers are staying put.

Why would the Aggies leave the mediocrity of the Big-12 for a far more murderous and insane football conference like the SEC?  Two 5 letter words my friends.  And those words are "Texas" and "Money."  The Aggies always felt like the red headed stepchild next to the snooty Longhorns.  But what really got their noses out of joint in College Station is when Texas went out and started its own television network, the proceeds from which they ain't got to share.  So, if the Aggs are going to finish in 3rd place in football on a yearly basis, why not do it in a conference where they stand to make a little more money?

Except they might not finish third.  Odds are the Aggies will be put into the Western Division of the conference.  Which only consists of Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State and Ole Miss.  No Iowa States or Kansas Jayhawks in that lineup.  The Aggies may not be able to beat Ole Miss on a consistent basis.  This may be a tougher slog in football than they thought at the time they made the jump.

The good news is that they will be competitive in basketball in that division right out of the chute since it pretty well stinks.  That and they won't have to fool with Kansas anymore. The bad news is that nobody at A & M much gives two hoots in hell about basketball.

I will say that having Clemson-or "Climpson"as those rednecks pronounce it- in the SEC will be bring a certain element into the mix. The SEC schools pride themselves on traditions.  Well, Climpson football is traditionally one of the cheatingest  programs extant. Their booster club is known as the IPTAY club.  It was started by legendary coach Frank Howard who had the farmers who made up their fan base back then pledge at least 10 bucks to the booster club after they got the crops out each year.  Hence, IPTAY or "I Pay Ten A Year."  It has also been said that IPTAY stands for "I Pay Ten Athletes per Year" and/or "It's Probation Time Again Y'all." Further, folks in Starkville or Auburn are downright Parisian next to the average Climpson fan.  Indeed, it is not for nothing that Sports Illustrated once referred to home games in Memorial Stadium as "the world's largest open-air Klan rally."

But I do like the fact that their coach is named Dabo Swinney.  Never met anybody named Dabo before.  Come to think of it, I'm not at all sure I ever met anybody from Clemson before.

Florida State already plays Florida and Climpson.  And the basketball programs there will surely enjoy not having to play North Carolina, Wake Forest and Duke anymore.  Hell, Florida State's team last year could have won the SEC Eastern Division even with Kentucky, Tennessee and Vanderbilt in it.

And none of the new schools will enjoy their SEC debuts in track or baseball.  At least not anytime soon.

But they can live with it, at least for awhile because they will be out from under the teams they need to be out from under and, most importantly, they will each make more money.

And that's really all that matters.  Money. 

But I can't wait for the first Clemson-LSU game.  The fights in the stands will be more entertaining than the game on the field.


Vox Populi: The Girl At The Bakery

The cute kid rang up my order.

"Don't you usually get croissants?" she asked.

"No," I replied.

" I thought you were the guy that gets croissants."

" You have confused me with some other unattractive man."

She laughed out loud and covered her mouth and nose with her hand.  After she recovered, she opened the register to get my change.  She affected a regal bearing.

" Actually," she said as she handed me my change. "You are a very handsome man."

"Wow," I replied. "So what time do you get off?"

She laughed again.

" Wellllllllllllllll.  How should I put this?" she said as she looked to the ceiling.

She looked back at me.

" You are a handsome older gentleman."

"Gotcha," I replied.  " See you later."

"Thanks for coming in," she said.  She winked. 

Not a bad start to a rainy Saturday.  Maybe I should get some croissants next time. 

Sunday, August 07, 2011

My Sunday Feeling

"I am at peace." 

These were the only words uttered by child molester and polygamist church leader Warren Jeffs as he stood in front of a Texas jury of his peers.  A jury that returned guilty verdicts against him on charges that he sexually assaulted two girls.  12 and 15.  Girls he  held out as being his "spiritual wives."  The 15 year old got pregnant.  The 12 year old he had the good taste to violate in the presence of 3 other "wives."

It took the jury 3 and half hours to come back with its verdicts.  My buddy Don wondered why it took that long, especially since Jeffs didn't actually put on a defense.  Indeed, he fired his lawyers on the eve of the trial.  My feeling was that the jury felt that if Jeffs was going to waste their time by standing mute before them for most of the 30 minutes he was allotted for closing argument that they might as well hold out for their free lunch courtesy of the State of Texas.  Might as well get 2 things accomplished.

Actually, Jeffs tried to interpose any of a number of defenses, mainly based on the theory that his prosecution was in violation of his religious freedoms.  These religious defenses were routinely shot down by the Judge who-pardon the expression-exhibited the patience of Job during Jeffs's ramblings, even when she was advised that God had appeared to him in his cell,and told him that "a whirlwind of Judgment" would be unleashed if he were not set free.

Well, why didn't God just go ahead and bust him out, God being God and all?  But I digress.

This is a teachable moment about where our 1st Amendment rights start and the criminal law ends them.

In this great land of ours, even in quasi-theocracies like Texas, Utah and apparently Hot Springs, Arkansas, you are free to believe anything you damn well please.   You are free to visit both the Catholic church and the Methodist church as I occasionally do.  Or did.  Or you can stay home and watch The Sports Reporters on ESPN as I generally do.  You can believe that there is no God.  Or that there are Gods. 

You can even believe that you are God's spokesman on Earth as does Warren Jeffs and his weak-minded acolytes.  However, your religious beliefs will not provide you with a defense if you violate the criminal laws.  Or many of the civil laws either.

True story.  A lady in Mississippi filed a Chapter 13.  She was asked by the Trustee at the First Meeting of Creditors why she hadn't filed an income tax return in years.  Simple she said.  She didn't have to pay taxes because she worked for a church.  Wrong.  Ask Richard Roberts.

God may tell me to smoke dope.  He can be my great comfort in times of woe.  But He can't be my defense if I get popped on a drug charge. 

Same with Warren Jeffs, he obviously believed his station in the universe to be sufficiently exalted that it entitled him to 78 "wives" and to engage in sex with children.  As a footnote, I think the main reason I could never be a religious sex pervert is that I would not like living in a compound with damn near a 100 people.   I like to be by myself too much. 

What is it about America that produces a Warren Jeffs, a Tony Alamo or a David Koresh?  Try as I might I can't really come up with a recent European counterpart.  Even at that, I am convinced that Alamo is mainly a criminal.  Unlike Warren Jeffs, Alamo had the relatively good judgment to cross State lines to go get his underage concubines.  So he is pulling his time in a Federal joint.  Jeffs will likely be spending the rest of his days in a Texas State prison where he will be forced to engage with a rougher crowd than what he is accustomed to.

Jeffs may well believe that he is God's spokesman on Earth.  But that didn't cut much ice with that jury down in West Texas. 

I doubt it'll cut much ice with God either.