Friday, November 26, 2010

The Duke False Rape Scandal, Coach Krzyzewski, & Failed Character

College basketball has begun anew and once again the Duke Blue Devils are top ranked, a familiar place since Mike Krzyzewski became coach. But although Coach K, as he is fondly called, may have found success as a basketball coach, to me he will forever symbolize failure, failure of character, at his moment of truth.

In 2006, in a now infamous scandal that in the end brought disgrace to many and serves as a morality tale of the evils of reverse racism and liberal cultural hatred gone amok, three white Duke University lacrosse players were falsely accused of rape by a black woman whose story was fishy, inconsistent, and implausible from the very start, and which in short order only grew more so. From the beginning of this sordid affair, three innocent students were used for nefarious political purposes by a despicably corrupt white prosecutor, a Democrat who sought to curry favor with black voters for his upcoming election bid. In his great frame-up, this man was consciously aided and abetted, for a variety of personal and political reasons, by many in the police force, in the prosecutor’s office, in the judiciary, in the liberal media, in the Duke administration, in the Duke hospital, in the Duke student body, and in the ultra-liberal Duke faculty (many of whom fanned racial grievances in promoting their anti-white narrative). In the early months, few stepped up to caution temperance, open-mindedness, and due process; few raised the obvious concerns about the weakness of the accusation and the disgraceful behavior of the prosecutor and the police. A few heroes stood up from the start for truth and justice, among them historian KC Johnson, who brought national attention through his meticulously researched blog (link) that chronicled and analyzed the unfolding events of the case, and the men and women Duke lacrosse players and their coaches. Many cowards also stand out, such as the numerous Duke professors of law who acquiesced in the gross miscarriage of justice unfolding at their own school before their very eyes, cowered by the left wing lynch-mob fervor all around them. As we all know, eventually, but not before great suffering, the students were completely exonerated, and some of the persecutors have been punished in one way or another.

Occupying a prominent place in the hall of eternal shame is the most famous Dukie of all, Coach Mike Krzyzewski. The product of a working-class Chicago neighborhood and a Catholic high school, he’s gone on to great success and fame. But for some of us there come one or two moments in our lives when we are faced with a great test of character, when we must choose to stand up for what is right or avert our gaze and shirk away. One such moment came for Mike Krzyzewski. With his national following as Duke’s most famous coach, and in a case involving Duke athletes, he could have stood strong and demanded fairness and justice for the accused. Instead, he chose to remain silent, either from indifference or cowardice. Perhaps he feared that his recruitment of black players would suffer if he spoke out.

In the end, whatever its cause, Krzyzewski's silence in the face of an unfolding great moral wrong will forever define him and will forever tarnish whatever his teams accomplish on the basketball court, and brings to mind the maxim, sometimes attributed to Edmund Burke, that all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

John M Greco

Monday, November 22, 2010

Illinois Now Worst Among States in Risk of Default on Debt. And Illinois Voters Like It That Way. We’re Number One!

Illinois has long had the distinction of being the state with one of the, if not the, most precarious financial positions. The formula has been simple: overspend, tax, overspend, tax, overspend, borrow, overspend, borrow, overspend, borrow. At some point, and this may be the point, the state cannot borrow enough anymore.

One of the statistics that sticks in my head is this: In a recent 10 year period, Illinois’ population is roughly flat while “spending per person, after inflation, is up almost 47% (link).” Unsustainable, of course.

Where has all the money gone? Pensions to government workers, including teachers, in a system where the pension payment is set by a formula that disproportionately weights the last year’s salary, which, of course, is artificially bumped up to astronomical levels by the politicians and their union compatriots to jack up the lifetime retiree monthly pension payments. And who pays for all this? The shrinking Illinois taxpayers.

Says (link) the Chicago Tribune to the Land of Lincoln: “You've bizarrely promised your workers some $80 billion more in pension payouts than you can afford. What's more, you've promised them additional billions that you don't have for their health care after they retire.”

And then there’s Medicaid – here’s the essence: “Medicaid spending eats up 30 percent of Illinois’s budgetary pie…. Between 2003 and 2008, [Illinois’] Medicaid enrollment grew at an average rate of 7.8 percent a year while Illinois's population only grew 0.5 percent" (link). Sheesh.

Writes Amy Merrick in the Wall Street Journal (link): “Illinois's deficit through mid-2011 is estimated at $11 billion to $13 billion—close to 50% of the expected $26.7 billion in available revenue for the coming fiscal year…. That is among the worst such percentages among states…. The state pension system also is the worst-funded in the U.S. … State auditors estimate that the pension systems are underfunded by $62 billion…. Required pension contributions, including interest payments, have nearly quadrupled in the past 10 years.”

Now, in today’s Wall Street Journal, Steven Malanga writes (link) that in June 2010, based on cost of default “insurance” for holders of debt, “Illinois surpassed California as the worst credit risk among U.S. states, [and] was at greater risk of default than Iraq.” Great.

And how did Illinois voters respond this month to this historic crisis? They opted for the ostrich maneuver, re-electing the sitting Illinois Democrat governor whose plan is to cut spending a bit and raise taxes a lot, and re-elected a majority of Democrats to the Illinois House and Senate, the former presided over, seemingly forever, by a Democrat Speaker named Madigan whom many regard as the most powerful politician in Illinois and who probably more than anyone else has overseen this debt debacle.

What happened to hope and change?

John M Greco

Related Posts:

Illinois Wins a Silver Medal in Fiscal Irresponsibility, Narrowly Missing a Gold, But Beats Out New Yorkers

Illinois’ Unnecessary Budget Crisis & Irresponsible Solutions

Illinois' New Governor Proposes a 50% Tax Hike To Close Budget Gap Caused By Years of Reckless Overspending

Of Ponzi Schemes, Social Security, & State Budgets – What’s The Dif? And, Illinois in Trouble

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Armistice Day, the Brits, & Lessons for Us All

A few weeks back at Power Line Blog I came upon a post about a new video compilation (link) of some rarely seen WWII British home front footage, accompanied by the audio of a live performance at the British Festival of Remembrance in November 2009. The background music on the video is, what I have now come to know, a WWII-era song “There’s a Land of Begin Again”, sung (link) with great depth and pacing by a young man named Jamie Cullum, whom I had not heard of previously but whom I now read is fairly well known in some music circles. The song was recorded at the time, perhaps originally, by Vera Lynn, who is better known for another wistful war-era song “We’ll Meet Again.”

Listening to Vera Lynn sing I can just imagine the lyrics running through peoples’ heads as they huddled in air raid shelters listening to the destruction of their world above:
There’s a land of begin again, on the other side of the hill
Where we’ll learn to love and live again, where the world is quiet and still,
There’s a land of begin again, and there’s not a cloud in the sky,
Where we’ll never have to grieve again, and we’ll never say good-bye.
When all your troubles just surround you, and around you, skies are gray,
If you can only keep your eyes on, the horizon, not so far away.
It’s remarkable in some ways that the British were able to rustle up the will to fight through the Second World War, having not yet recovered from the horror, devastation, and loss of life from the First, their despair captured well by Eliot in the opening lines of his otherwise inordinately cryptic poem:
April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm,
Covering Earth in forgetful snow.
Armistice Day once again brings to mind many things, not the least of which such notions as the importance of early deterrence, how weakness is provocative to predators, and the illusoriness of appeasement. Despite paying a dreadful price when such lessons were forgotten, within memory history now repeats itself as tragedy.

The British mustered enough energy and purpose to lift themselves from despair and ennui, but only long enough to prevail. In the end, their reserves exhausted, most soon collapsed, perhaps terminally, into deep pacifism, apathy, and decadence, unwilling to defend their own culture against the growing depredations of socialism and Islamism in unholy alliance. Surely there are many stout Brits who will once again throw off their stupor and stand strong, but will there be enough of them this time around? And is America to suffer the same fate?

John M Greco