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Bad College “Watch List”

May 25, 2020

The “Sycamore Trust” is an association of University of Notre Dame alumni who are appalled by the loss of faith underway at one of the premier Catholic colleges in America.

Ever since 1931 when Pope Pius XI issued the encyclical “QUADRAGESIMO ANNO Catholicism was reoriented toward “Social Justice,” and the Catholic Church has drifted away from its roots in “reason” that St. Thomas traced to the ethics of Aristotle. That’s one of the conclusions of my of study of what is called “First Europe.”

The priests at Notre Dame imbibed deeply in this ideology and grew Notre Dame away from its roots into a pursuit of heaven on earth. Most parents are unaware that this has happened and continue to support Notre Dame financially.  That university’s 13.8 billion dollar endowment is the 8th largest in the United States. But those of us affiliated with the Sycamore Trust understand that the Congregation of Holy Cross priests, who take a vow of poverty, are in love with wealth.

That explains Notre Dame’s creation of a Working Group to consider resuming classroom instruction. One month later, Notre Dame announced resumption of classes starting in August.

That decision, I believe, will end badly.

Students who are healthy between ages 19 and 32 are relatively safe from Covid-19 infections, but many students are asthmatic, have heart murmurs or suffer from depression.  And many CSC priests and instructors are over age 60, the age most vulnerable to Covid-19.

This decision puts some students and many faculty and CSCs on campus at risk to serious illness and seems motivated by a decision to assure income stream, not for good pedagogical reasons.

Moreover, ND assumes that it can direct instructors to develop effective distance learning facsimiles of their classroom courses. I was in the distance learning business for 16 years and can safely assert that transferring classroom course content for Internet learning this quickly will fail.

The alternative is to take distance learning seriously and work with instructors between June and early August to place all scheduled courses online, close all campus facilities, and offer lowered tuition (nor more than $600 per course) for students willing to enroll for online instruction in August, or the normal start date for classes. Then, commence a massive funding drive to make up the shortfall.

Notre Dame’s decision saddens me and confirms my belief that Notre Dame has joined the other faithless religious colleges that have abandoned their religious faith.




Bad Journalism at WSJ

May 23, 2020

Judge Donald Cabell, a judge in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, ruled favorably in a petition by federal prosecutors–acting on a request of extradition from Japan—that led to the arrest of two ex-Green Berets.

Their crime: assisting Carlos Ghosun, ex-Nissan CEO, escape from Japan to Lebanon.

This report appeared in the WSJ (and other media) for May 21, a day that coincided with the guilty plea coerced by judges in the same court from Lori Loughlin.

WSJ reporters, Mark Maremont and Nick Kostove, told this story without a word of comment on the actions of these Massachusetts jurists who are well known “hanging judges.”

Nor do Mark Maremont and Nick Kostove report  the names of federal prosecutors who brought this to a federal court. Most important, they did not connect this ruling to the “Varsity Blues” as examples of prosecutorial overreach.

In other words, these two WSJ reporters don’t understand our “attorney problem,” the antagonism of federal justices and prosecutors in Massachusetts to wealthy, conservative and in this case, antagonism to military defendants. Japan’s economy is one of the largest in the world and an ally of the United States. But these ex-Green Berets are Americans and deserve a heariing with a jury of their peers, not peremptory extradition.

Japan is a protectionist nation that is suspicious, even hostile to foreigners and the goods and services they export to Japan. Giving Japan its way in extradition is a step too far,  and the Wall Street Journal should know better.

Nor do these WSJ reporters observe that these defendants were stupid enough to choose Massachusetts as their domicile.



How Trump & Friends Hurt the GOP

May 22, 2020

News reports that President Trump exploded in anger at his “pollster,” Brad Parscale, are only half true. Trump directed his anger at Parscale blaming him for Trump’s polling numbers that were in free-fall.  But Parscale is not a pollster or survey researcher, he is a web design specialist and master of digital advertising.

In other words, Trump hired someone for the wrong reasons, in this case because Trump’s son-in-law, Jared recommended Parscale.

Had either Jared Kushner or Trump had any political experience before 2015, not to mention Republican or conservative experience, they would have reached out to dozens of pollsters trained by the late, Arthur Finkelstein. Finkelstein’s record of successful candidates, ranging from James Buckley to Jesse Helms and John East to Strom Thurmond, was unmatched.

Finkelstein’s genius extended to those he hired to work for him and learn the business. They included  Kieran Mahoney, Tony FabrizioJohn and Jim McLaughlin, Rob Cole, and Jon Lerner.

Parscale fits the model of Trump hires, tall (6’8″), wealthy, gifted in one thing, and not a political conservative. This spells disaster for Trump in 2020, but, more important, the death of the Republican Party.

Since the Great Depression, the Democrat Party has been known for its appreciation of the power of the national government to “do good” as long as the power of the American “state” is in the hands of Democrats.

This year that power is in the hands of a nominal Republican, so the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have rediscovered the principle of Congressional Supremacy.  And leaders of the Impeachment of President Trump quoted words of wisdom of George Washington, George Mason and James Madison. Even Alexander Hamilton was cited. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has identified Russian oligarch Vladimir Putin as a bad guy.

All that is to the good, but as we know from persons addicted to alcohol, it takes more than thinking about addiction to recover from it. Our Democrat Party is a party of the Left and carries in its hips all the falsehoods and mistaken views of utopian idealists. That suggests that “after Trump” we’ll see “business as usual,” not real reforms, nor reorientation of American foreign policy toward the national interest and a long painful slide of the Republican Party into oblivion.



Abuse of Professional Staff

May 20, 2020

If you abuse a servant or personal cook, the servant will leave. But if you are a college educated specialist in politics or economics and your boss is a top Trump Administration official, your boss is likely to take the criticism.  I worked for two boorish public executives, and only once was I subjected to verbal abuse, but by then I realized that person was unstable and I had to leave as soon as possible. The other told me that he wasn’t going to bully me, but he abused every other staff person and intern. The late Herb London dealt with that by threatening to throw the Senator out the window.

Now we learn that Mrs. Susan Pompeo, wife of U.S. Secretary State Mike Pompeo, tasked State Department officers to wash dishes and the Pompeo dog.  President Trump walked into the controversy by saying maybe Mrs. Pompeo wasn’t home and couldn’t wash dishes herself.

Like Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who do these people think they are?

Abuse of Congressional Staff

February 11, 2019

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Presidential candidate is the object of critics who argue that the Senator abused her staff. If you work on Capitol Hill or in policy organizations in the Washington, DC area, you’ll hear complaints that some Members require staff to do laundry, follow extreme rules for handling food, or baby-sit their children.

I personally heard such complaints about a Senator and a House Member from my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Good manners alone should constrain Members of Congress from using paid Congressional staff as personal servants. And anyone running, especially, for the Office of President should be aware that such behavior will be made public.

Members of the Congress of the United States are human beings, however, and bring to office all the personal failures for which humans are well known. Sexual relationships between Members and subordinates are common, less so is the taking of bribes, but lying is a professional skill well-honed by American politicians. And even treasonous acts have occurred. But, when an elected official crosses those lines, it is worthy of notice.

We should be watching Amy Klobuchar’s actions over the next months to see if her abuse of her staff portends to abuse of power.

Bye-bye Steelers

May 19, 2020

Growing up in Pittsburgh, my world revolved around the Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh’s hockey team, the Hornets.

Even before Myron Cope started the Steeler’s “Terrible Towel” movement in 1975, another sportscaster, Bob Prince, started waving a white towel to urge on Don Hoak as the Pirates went into the 1960 World Series.

Long before I started undergraduate classes at Pitt, I sold papers in Forbes Field.  Before Night Games, I could catch fly balls hit over the outfield fence and sell them to parents entering the park. Dale Long, Roberto Clemente, Branch Rickey, Bob Prince and his predecessor Rosy Rowswell were my heroes.

Well, Forbes Field was shuttered and two new stadia were built at public expense in the downtown area, one for the Steelers and one for the Pirates. Now, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the future of Heinz Field is in question. This is another sign of how aspects of normal life will be disrupted by this damnable virus!

Restructuring 21st Century Life

May 18, 2020

How quickly we can restructure our daily lives will determine if economic damage from a Covid-19 Pandemic can be limited to a recession or expands into another Great Depression.  Already much destruction to our Constitutional system of limited government has occurred.

But, life will go on, modified by our weakness to viral infection.

We already see signs of that in such companies as Grub Hub and Uber Eats. Dining in restaurants and other communal activities that enlivened our culture will slowly disappear.  Meeting our friends at the local bar will subject us to risks that aren’t worth the enjoyment of an alcoholic drink. What restaurants are able to remain open will offer delivery or curbside pickup of orders.

Motion picture cinemas will be shuttered, but “streaming media” on Netflix, Acorn, HBO and many other venues will provide access to theatrical performances and “movies” that once we enjoyed in the company of friends and strangers. We’ll become affiionados of old films.

Religious services will be televised or accessed in a revival of drive-in theaters. Choirs will practice and perform on Voom, Netscape or Web-assisted conference calls. Conferences will be held online as will most political events.

Radio will become a greater part of daily life.

Universities and colleges will offer complete degree programs via the Internet and access to libraries of digitized materials will replace traditional libraries.

Much commerce will occur online serviced by an expanded universe of drivers and delivery services. Gone will be Department Stores and check out counters will be replaced with credit card checkout.

Where before employees provided in person support., thousands more will be hired to respond to telephone calls answered by employees working from home.

Sporting events like basketball, soccer and football will disappear and be replaced by spectator-less events requiring limited contact like baseball or other events such as NASCAR or new ones that can be created.

Somehow, we’ll manage, though older citizens must wait for a vaccine and hope that it can be discovered while they’re still alive or wish to die sooner.


Higher Education in Crisis

May 17, 2020

The “CARES Act” provides financing to alleviate the effects of unemployment caused by a viral Pandemic.  Some funding is allocated to shore up institutions of higher education that were forced to close instruction in college classrooms. Colorado, where for eight years I was President of an Internet university,  according to this report, “received $173.3 million from the CARES Act — $144.5 million for public institutions and $28.8 million for privately operated schools.”

That sounds like a good deal to me, but when the government acts by giving or cutting funds, it seldom does so with up-to-date understanding of ways those funds should be spent or reduced.

As I reported yesterday, “Though colleges must move immediately to offer courses online, very few know how to do that. Those online courses will fail to enroll students willing to pay full tuition and a high percentage of those that do enroll will not complete coursework.”

With a vaccine not discovered this year or even in 2021, colleges and universities must perfect their ability to develop effective online courses and lower tuition of online courses to real costs, somewhere between $350 and $450 per course. Two years ago, when I last surveyed tuition cost at Colorado public institutions, here’s what I found:

Per Credit Tuition                                                               3-Credits           8-Courses   10 Courses

Fort Lewis College – Durango                           $295             $885                  $7,080        $8,850

Metropolitan State University of Denver       $293             $879                  $7,032        $8,790

Western State College                                         $244             $732                  $5,856        $7,320

University of Northern Colorado                      $253             $759                  $6,072        $7,500

Adams State College                                              $227             $601                  $5,448       $6,010

Colorado Mesa University                                    $315             $945                  $7,560        $9,450

Colorado State University – Pueblo                     $304             $912                 $7,296         $9,120

University of Colorado at Boulder                       $388             $1.164              $9,312     $11,164

If an effective online course can be offered with an instructor for $150 per academic credit, current tuition at Colorado public universities must be reduced by at least 50%. Any reasonable accountant will tell you that, if offering classroom instruction may not resume until 2021, then operating costs must be reduced accordingly.  That means furloughing  faculty and administrative staff not engaged in teaching and administering online courses.

A course that can be administered for $450 at CU-Boulder or Adams State should be priced at $450 each, not $1,164 or $601.

Neither the “Cares Act” nor the U.S. Department of Education require that.