By John Ruberry

Last week I wrote this in my own blog about a scandal-plagued state university in Kentucky: “Is Louisville a college with an athletic program? Or is it an athletic program that offers some college classes?”

Late last month the shadowy and corrupt realm of NCAA men’s college basketball, whose players are nominally amateurs, was shattered by the revelation of an FBI investigation of payments to recruits that allegedly comes from Adidas. Ten people have been arrested, including four assistant coaches at Power Five college hoops programs. More arrests are expected.

But most of the media focus on the scandal is on the the University of Louisville, where no one so far faces charges. Allegedly an AAU coach, Jonathan Brad Augustine, whose team is sponsored by Adidas, boasted to an undercover FBI agent about the reach of Cardinals coach Rick Pitino–who is identified as “Coach-2” in court records–and how Pitino could get James “Jim” Gatto, the director of global sports marketing for basketball at Adidas, to send $100,000 to the family of a Louisville recruit. That athlete, Brian Bowen, enrolled at Louisville. But now he’s been suspended from the team.

Oh, the first “A” in AAU stands for “amatuer.”

“No one swings a bigger d–k than [Coach-2],” Augustine reportedly said after learning that Gatto had difficulty in allegedly sending the $100K to Bowen’s family. He added that “all [Coach-2] has to do is pick up the phone and call somebody [and say], ‘These are my guys–they’re taking care of us.'”

Those remarks appear to have been lifted from a Sopranos script.

Pitino, and Louisville’s athletic director, Tom Jurich, were suspended by the university the day after the scandal broke. Both of them are expected to be fired but in the meantime they are the highest paid persons in their positions in college sports.

But despite its success on the field–Louisville has a pretty good football team by the way–the athletic department loses money. Apparently Louisville manages its athletic department as poorly as the state of Kentucky runs its public-worker pension programs.

Pitino is the only NCAA men’s basketball coach to win national championships at two universities, Kentucky and Louisville. But four months ago the Cardinals program landed on NCAA probation because of a prostitution scandal involving recruits, some of whom were underage. Uh, where are the Louisville Police? The NCAA suspended Pitino for five games and Louisville will have to vacate some victories–and possibly its 2013 NCAA title. Pitino claims ignorance of the hiring of these “dancers” by the program. He also claimed to be simply a put-upon victim in a extortion attempt by a woman, Karen Sypher, who alleged that Pitino raped her. The Basketball Hall of Fame coach, who is married, admitted to consensual sex with Sypher–she later went to prison. Pitino also admitted to paying for her abortion.

Because Louisville’s men’s hoops program is already on probation, it’s likely that the Cardinals are eligible for the NCAA “death penalty” if they are found to be a two-time offender. The death penalty allows the NCAA to shut down a program for at least a year.

I say cut down the nets and turn off the lights for Louisville basketball, preferably for several years. The possibility of the death penalty has holders of the junk bonds financing the stadium where the Cardinals play understandably a bit nervous.

At the very least Louisville needs a fresh start, but so far it’s off to a dreadful one. Pitino’s interim replacement is one of his former players, David Padgett, who until two years ago was director of basketball operations at Louisville. Was Padgett a glorified clerk? Or a figurehead?

Louisville has other problems and one of them involves Adidas. Of the money from the current marketing contract the shoe giant has with the basketball team, reportedly 98 percent of it goes to Pitino. Shouldn’t the general revenue fund of this taxpayer-supported college get at least a healthy cut?

Jurich, the money-losing suspended athletic director, likely earned more money annually than the budgets of four Louisville academic departments.

This scandal has legs longer than those of the late Manute Bol–and I’m predicting not only will it spread to other colleges and AAU programs but to high school hoops as well, starting with the Chicago Public League. Lack of payments probably explains why the Chicago recruiting apparatus for years shuts out basketball programs such as DePaul and the one at my alma mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Both schools are natural fits for Public League talent and both of them used to recruit very successfully in Chicago.

Do you have a better explanation?

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

The left is getting lefter. There’s no doubt the Democratic Party is pushing towards socialism and communism with “independent” Bernie Sanders leading the charge. I hear a lot of conservative commentaries welcoming this lurch. We need to be careful what we wish because, as we all know, voters can be swayed quickly with limited information and a good sales pitch.

They’re talking about Medicare-for-all. We know this is a horrific idea. Even Sanders himself admitted as much 30-years-ago. That hasn’t stopped the push. We need to be cognizant of it and be prepared to counter it with full force. Don’t take for granted that people can be easily shown how it would bankrupt the country. There are plenty of people who hear about $20 trillion debts, debt ceilings, busted budgets, and the federal reserve and think, “If I get free healthcare, who cares what the number crunchers in DC have to do to get me there?”

Remember how many people were shocked that Obamacare wasn’t free? Well, this IS “free” so millions will call for it regardless of the consequences. The Democrats are learning this. Their research is telling them they may have a winner if they nurture it. Many are willing to set aside logic and fiscal responsibility if it means taking back the House and the Senate. Don’t disregard this as impossible.

The hot topic lately has been about guns for obvious reasons. This is an area where there’s a little less complacency from the right, but it’s still almost impossible to imagine an America that completely disregards or repeals the 2nd Amendment. Folks, it really could happen and not as far in the future as most believe. Gun control pushes today are the first domino in a string that leads to full-blown gun-grabbing.

Lastly, there’s socialism itself. We are a capitalist nation. That’s (probably) not going to change any time soon. What we need to worry about is the false notion that they can’t push for socialism without tearing down capitalism first. In an ideal world for socialists, they don’t need to tear down capitalism at all. In fact, they would want capitalism to fund the socialism they desire.

One can read Atlas Shrugged and see the systematic deconstruction of capitalism happening with the rise of socialism. It’s fiction. It’s also not entirely impossible to happen even in America. We’re a nation of plenty that is fueled by those who do not have plenty in their opinions. They aren’t comparing their situations to the billions in the world who are starving and/or who do not enjoy basic levels of freedom. They’re comparing themselves to the guy down the block with the Ferrari. Socialists can paint a picture of income equality that is appealing on the surface. They won’t tell the people that income equality means everyone will be equally poor. They’re selling it as pushing things slightly better for the average American by taking from the rich. If you don’t think that can be sold as appealing to people, you’re still stuck in the 80s when such notions were unthinkable.

The Democrats aren’t committing the political suicide many on the right believe they are with their push to the far left. They’ve tested their messages, polled the people, and have come to the conclusion that this is a winning play for them. We cannot assume that common sense and facts will be enough to stop them from succeeding. It’s imperative that we fight the good fight to keep the impossible from becoming our reality.

Photo via M Rogers Granite Grok

On Saturday I went to St. Anselm’s Institute for Politics to cover the 2017 Red Summit.

It was an interesting affair in several ways, not the least being that my wife accompanied me to the event (a very rare thing indeed). The event featured a plethora of speaker discussing topics from canvasing, to midterm elections to how the Trump campaign used twitter to lead the media.

I tweeted a fair amount of what I saw on the REDSummit hastag but here are some quick notes from what I saw.

Governor Sununu talked spoke about the state’s lowest poverty rate in the nation with 73% and said it was about keeping it local but reminded everyone that the GOP can’t become complacent stating that if you have the house, senate and the governors office you have to move the ball forward (a lesson that DC should learn).

His farther the previous Governor Sununu talked about the necessity of GOP governance to get growth but notes that the real secret of NH is it’s model of self governance. A large legislature that has to be re-elected every two years is forced to keep close to the people, as he put it: “In the other 49 states that have no idea that we can govern ourselves.”

The Next Speaker was David Carney who gave a long presentation about winning elections is about knowing your district and keeping in touch with the issues locally vs nationally saying there’s: “Not a damn thing you can do about the NFL players but you can do something about the opioid crisis. He maintained that partisanship was “fools gold”.

One of his best points was how small local races have a top up effect for an entire ticket. I’ve always maintained that it was the lack of local races that allowed Scott Brown to win in 2010 I spoke to him after his speech:

There were further presentation of things from software to identify voters while canvasing to how to build up a relationship with local media and an amusing presentation on how the Trump Campaign completely trolls the media with his tweets that featured a modified version of the classic 1949 Bugs Bunny cartoon “Long Haired Hare” to make the point

it brought the house down.

I was not the only attendee from out of state, I talked to Harold from Rhode Island:

and Beth Lindstrom of Massachusetts running in the GOP primary to challenge Elizabeth Warren

The headliner from the Event was Donald Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. His speech was a call to arms a congratulation for NH getting the Trump Train rolling and a slap in the face to the assembled crowd. He pointed out how so many had dismissed President Trump’s candidacy as a stunt.

He pulled no punches says the GOP failed them in congress, emphasizing that Trump had to get both the Wall and Tax reform in order to win re-election. At the same time he stressed the disaster that Democrat Control of the House or Senate would mean for the agenda.

He was blunt is saying that we needed a national voter ID law and stated an opinion I shared that Trump had won NH and it had been stolen.

He had nothing but distain for the entrenched political class in government, cheered the President for his statements on the NFL and hit the players for disrespecting the flag and reminded folks that the idea of America first was a foreign concept to the last administration.

When his speech was done he was mobbed by well wishes and those who wanted a photo with him. He commented during his speech on how he would lose many friends by supporting Trump but as a person with the president’s ear it’s amazing how many new friends he has discovered.

It was impossible to get an interview in the hall so after getting permission from his wife (who is a delightful and patient woman) Corey agreed to a walking interview as he headed to his car

That was a good interview but I think the most important one of the day longterm was with Fred Douchette. I had interviewed him at the first in the nation summit and then again at the Trump event in Derry where is was a co chair of the Trump campaign in NH. Given that he was on the Trump train way before the rest of us his perspective is particularly important.

Given how he and other saw this coming before everyone else I simply can’t understand why you don’t see more of them on national shows.

The photo gallery follows my TipJar pitch


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This has been said by multiple people since the first time Rex Tillerson’s name was announced as President Trump’s pick to run the State Department. Everyone has their reasons: no experience, liberal tendencies, love of the Iran nuclear deal, love of TPP… the list goes on an on. I have a new reason to want him out.

He’s too weak to stand up to President Trump.

Politico posted an article today asking if Tillerson should resign. While much of what they said had its standard leftist tilt, one important note is that Tillerson has been the least effective Secretary of State so far, perhaps ever. Harsh criticism. Nonetheless, it’s quite true. Tillerson has literally nothing notched in the win column. The reason isn’t just his lack of ability. He’s undermined by the President and placed far below the level that most Secretaries of State enjoy. He’s subservient to John Kelly now and Reince Priebus before him. His word holds less weight than people allegedly under him, namely Jared Kushner, Wilbur Ross, James Mattis, and Gary Cohn. Even Steve Bannon, when he was in the White House, had much more pull than Tillerson.

In short, Rex Tillerson isn’t strong enough to lead the foreign affairs wing of the White House.

While not endorsing them, both John Bolton and Nikki Haley would be better choices. Bolton is outspoken enough for the job, which may be why he doesn’t have it. Haley has proven to be aggressive enough, though she may have the same challenges as Tillerson if she’s unwilling to fight her way up Trump’s pecking order. I should mention Mitt Romney, but I won’t. I just don’t like the guy.

If Tillerson stays, it will be because President Trump wants someone in position that he can bully or embarrass with Tweets like these:

Now is not the time for America to have an ineffective Secretary of State. Between China, Russia, the Middle East, North Korea, Venezuela, and turmoil in Europe, we need someone like James Baker. Instead, we have a bored old rich guy whose biggest claim to fame is being recognized by Vladimir Putin as a Friend of Russia.

Sign inside Niles, Illinois supermarket

By John Ruberry

I’ve written a couple of columns at Da Tech Guy, one here and one here, about Cook County’s hated one-cent-per-ounce soda tax championed by County Board President Toni “Taxwinkle” Preckwinkle, a left-wing Democrat. But the question I’ve been only alluding to here and on my own blog is this one: Why is this money needed?

And the soda pop tax is only the latest outrage. Like other counties, Cook levies property taxes, but it also mugs residents and anyone who buys something here with a 1.75 percent sales tax, along with gasoline, liquor and tobacco taxes.

(Those cheers you just heard come from retailers with shops on the other side of the Cook County line.)

Toni “Taxwinkle” Preckwinkle

County government in most places means the operation of a court system and a jail, providing law enforcement, particularly in unincorporated areas (Cook has few of those), and road maintenance. But in Cook County–Chicago is its seat–county government means building a massive health care network, the Cook County Health and Hospitals System, paid for by long-suffering taxpayers such as myself, and one that caters to the estimated 300,000 illegal immigrants living here.

Chicago is a sanctuary city and Cook is a sanctuary county.

A DNA Chicago article about plans for a new county health facility on Chicago’s Northwest Side that will replace a much smaller one, contains a revelation on where all of that tax money is going.

Once it’s running at full capacity, Carey [a county official] expects the site — one of 17 free clinics [emphasis mine] operated around the county — to host about 37,000 doctors’ visits annually, she said.

Keep in mind, this is just one clinic.

More…

The proposal has been brewing since at least 2015, when doctors told newly elected Cook County Commissioner Luis Arroyo Jr. that they had “outgrown” the Logan Square facility, Arroyo said.

Instead of expanding it, county health officials began looking for a new location, where more immediate neighbors could take advantage. They landed in Belmont Cragin, whose estimated 12,000 undocumented residents [emphasis mine again] has one of the largest clusters of uninsured people in the city, Arroyo said.

Leftism is expensive. Sure, some of what is spent on county health care for illegal aliens is reimbursed by another arm of government. Emergency visits at county-run Stroger Hospital come to mind as does the expensive state-funded All Kids program. Hey, they get me coming and going in Illinois, that’s for sure. But who pays for the salaries and generous benefits for the county doctors, nurses, dentists, and administrators? Not Kim Jong Un, that’s for sure.

Princely but underfunded county worker pensions are another reason “Taxwinkle” needs her taxes.

As a political blogger I natural follow current events. But I don’t recall the conversation about the need for Cook County to transform itself into a welfare state, particularly for illegals, as well as a retirement program for not-working-so-hard county employees. But that’s what county government has evolved into here.

And taxes and spending keep soaring, even though the population of Crook County, oops, I mean Cook County, peaked around 50 years ago, when the county last had a Republican running it and when none of these taxes existed.

Yes, leftism is very expensive.

John Ruberry, a fifth-generation Cook County resident, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

The small vine with Vinnie’s Grapes

Driven by hunger, a fox tried to reach some grapes hanging high on the vine but was unable to, although he leaped with all his strength. As he went away, the fox remarked ‘Oh, you aren’t even ripe yet! I don’t need any sour grapes.’

The Fox and the Grapes Via Wikipedia

John Nolte, one of the treasure of Breitbart tells us that there is a sudden shift in the land of socially conscious sportscaster Stephen A Smith:

Friday, ESPN “First Take” co-host Stephen A. Smith said he was “tired” of the national anthem protests and linking of arms in unity, adding he is ready to “get back to football.”

What? This can’t be, we’ve been told right along by guys like Smith that the Kaepernick protests not only were important but that it was disgraceful that fewer people in the NFL were taking part. What could possibly be his explanation for this sudden transformation?

Smith reasoned that Colin Kaepernick’s initial protest has been “hijacked” and the message has been “lost” because the protests are now anti-President Donald Trump, which he said just causes more “division.”

Chad Ochocinco is saying the same

Former Cincinnati Bengals star wide receiver Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson said in an interview with TMZ Sports that he believes the national anthem protests in the NFL are now “politically whitewashed” and have lost their initial meaning,

Vice sports is saying the same:

It’s heartbreaking to say, but this past Sunday shows that brain-dead argument perpetrated by brain-dead hucksters and embraced by brain-dead people is serving its purpose, by deflecting attention away from the protest’s original meaning.

Oddly this is a sentiment that I’ve heard a lot of WEEI from people who were all pro Kaepernick lately on my evening drive. The protests have jumped the shark, they’ve been hijacked etc etc etc.

So the question on the floor is this: why are we suddenly seeing this change in the narrative from the sporting left?

The answer is simple, despite what you might hear from Esquire Trump has won this cultural battle big time.

The NFL is battling to repair its tarnished image and to win back a chunk of the fan base that they’ve forfeited, and the NBA, terrified of mimicking the NFL’s dropping popularity has made it clear that there will be no kneeling allowed.

And thanks to the left turning this into a racial issue we are going to have the pleasure of seeing the 2018 Democrats defending disrespecting the flag to avoid a primary challenge in red states.

Trump has won but our friends on the left can’t admit that, so instead we have the face-saving message, oh the protests have been hijacked message.

If they want to play this game, that’s fine, the political result will be exactly the same and both the NFL and the NBA have learned a valuable lesson about their customer bases that they won’t soon forget.


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Buried in all the news about the NFL is a paragraph in this observer piece by Ashe Snow that perfectly encapsulates what the media don’t get about Donald Trump and twitter

Tweets mean nothing. It takes no effort at all to send one. Acting like Trump actually spent all day Monday caring about the NFL because of what he tweeted is absurd. Does the media really think all he does is tweet? It sure seems like it. They would rather write dozens of articles about every single one of the president’s tweets than look into what he’s actually doing.

That’s the real secret about Donald Trump and twitter, he understand the media mind set, he knows that with just a few tweets he can send them down a rabbit hole all day while he gets work done, or to push them in a direction they don’t want to go, or get the heat off of a project that he is dealing with or lobbying for.

A great example of this has been the reactions on WEEI on Trump that I hear when I drive in and go home from work. For some reason the libs on the station think that Trump is obsessed with the NFL, the reality is that his line at the rally last monday was a throw away applause line and once he saw the reaction it only took a few tweets to get them and the left where he wanted. I doubt he spent more than 3-4 minutes a day on it, but the media was fully committed and while they were congratulating themselves over the NFL’s “victory” over Trump and taking knees in congress Trump was getting things done in Puerto Rico without worrying about the media butting in.

Politico reported, “Rossello and other officials praised the federal government for planning its response in detail before the storm hit, a contrast with what Puerto Rico has long seen as the neglect of 3.4 million Americans living in a territory without a vote in Congress or the electoral college.”

There is only one issue I have with the piece, and that’s this line:

I’m not defending Trump’s tweets. I wish he’d stop.

Snow is dead wrong there. Trump’s tweets are a valuable weapon against the left. Via twitter he gets his message out without them forcing them to react to him rather than the other way around and putting them into battles they don’t want to fight and baiting them into positions they can’t defend. Why do you think they keep attacking his tweets every chance they get?

Tweet away Mr. President, Tweet Away.

“We are moving to Sioux Falls, South Dakota,” my father said matter-of-factly.

I don’t think I knew exactly where South Dakota was, having spent my formative years in Denver, a truly wonderful place to live as a kid back then. I could obtain an occasional Coors beer—an exclusive adult beverage only available in the area around Colorado, where it was brewed. I could grab a train every weekend to ski. Life was good! No, life was great!

My family moved to Sioux Falls in 1966, the year I started high school, and left in 1969, the year I graduated. Our class was the first to spend all three years at Lincoln High, which had just been built.

Those years still provide my moral compass as a journalist and an educator.

This past weekend I was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Lincoln High, an honor indeed for someone who spent much of his time exploring the boundaries of teenage life in flyover country.

I thanked the committee who overlooked my smoking and drinking in the school parking lot, my suspension for fighting in the hallways, my arrest for car theft, and my protests against Vietnam.

I was one of the better students in the class of more than 600—technically No. 21 in the days when everyone knew everything about one another. No one got trophies for participation back then.

My main contribution at Sioux Falls Lincoln, however, was rock ‘n’ roll. I was the lead singer of The Trippers, a garage band before garage bands became vogue. We practiced in a basement because garages in South Dakota were too cold!

Along with other bands, The Trippers brought psychedelic music from the West Coast and rhythm and blues from Detroit. We traveled throughout South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota, playing small towns like Lane, a bump in the road of 25 people where hundreds turned out from the farmlands every Saturday to listen to rock music, to large venues where we played with Neil Diamond, The Turtles, and The Lovin’ Spoonful.

The Trippers had one recording, “Have You Ever?,” which made it into Billboard’s Top 100. Well, it made it to No. 99 for a week. The Trippers, a band of great desire and somewhat limited talent, were inducted into the rock ‘n’ roll halls of fame in South Dakota in 2010 and in Iowa in 2016. Here is a short video about the band:

In the 1960s, the radio provided the window on the world for the teenagers of Sioux Falls. KISD served up the top of the pops from The Beatles to Jimi Hendrix, with a lot of bubble gum in between.

It wasn’t an easy time. The 1960s almost tore the country apart because of war and race relations. Some of my classmates went to Vietnam. Fortunately, no one died, but many returned broken and unappreciated.

In a book I wrote a few years ago called “Flyover Country,” I told the story of the Class of 1969 and its students. The class produced doctors, lawyers, business people, and educators. It also produced criminals and con men. Many from the class died way too young. See https://www.amazon.com/Flyover-Country-Boomers-Their-Stories/dp/0761853324/

Most importantly to me, Lincoln High School sculpted me. It took a cocky kid from Colorado who wanted to be anywhere but South Dakota and made him into young man with an appreciation for people who didn’t complain about 100 inches of snow every winter or the vagaries of how the world treated them. If there was a job to do, it got done. If there was a neighbor to help, it got done. If there was a problem to fix, it got done.

I learned a lot about life in my three years in South Dakota. I learned about friendship and kindness. I learned about truth and trust. I learned about community and caring.

No excuses! No complaints! That’s what I learned in South Dakota; lessons I still hold dear today.

It’s also wonderful spending time with folks from flyover country. I saw an old friend, former U.S. Senator Jim Abourezk, a longtime liberal. He is an original. He and I don’t agree on much. But we can talk about politics as a discussion rather than an argument.

Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 4.09.33 PM
Former U.S. Senator Jim Abourezk (right) and I have some apple pie in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

I even saw a man with a T-shirt for Reagan-Bush in 1984 at a diner in Sioux Falls. Imagine wearing one of those outside of flyover country! It was a reinvigorating visit that will help me deal with the insanity of urban politics in Philadelphia.

Here is an added bonus. My cover of Light My Fire at the induction of the Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame:

Local ElectionsA quick reminder to all of those in the MSM, on the left, piling on Trump on twitter etc and declaring victory like this fool:

Thanks to you, the NFL and the media every Democrat running in a red state, especially those vulnerable Democrat senators, now gets to answer this question during election 2018.

“Do you support or oppose professional sports players kneeling for the national anthem in protest?”

I’m sure Manchin & McCaskill et/all and all the dem class of 2018 are dying to answer that question.

If they answer “support” in the primary it will doom them in the general

If they answer “oppose” it will certainly draw a primary challenge from the left that will either be too far left to win or force them to position even farther left to ensure primary voters still show.

Either way Trump wins.

Thanks NFL & Dems, because of you Trump will have to extra GOP votes to repeal Obamacare after 2018 and can tell McCain Collins et/al to pound sand.


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