Cutting Edge / On federal subsidies for March Madness, stoning by Christians, warrior women and more ...

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Subsidizing madness

Steven Malanga at RealClearMarkets noticed U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan's comments on the "notoriously low" graduation rates among the major college baseketball powers in a Washington Post op-ed piece. Mr. Duncan suggested the NCAA adjust its distribution of television money to reward schools that graduate more players.

Mr. Malanga thinks Mr. Duncan should have gone further. He noted "that the schools participating in the tournament, both private and public universities and colleges, enjoy nonprofit status ostensibly designed to support their educational purpose. But the major sports programs of Division 1 schools make liberal use of that nonprofit status to burnish their bottom lines at the expense of the taxpayer, a 2009 Congressional Budget Office report noted ...

"In other words, whether or not you like what's going on in big-time college basketball, as described by Secretary Duncan, you're helping to subsidize it."


Raja-ready?

The Pittsburgh Comet addressed the candidacy for Allegheny County executive of Mt. Lebanon commissioner and information company president D. Raja:

"OK, I'll be the first to publish it. I watch [the TV show] 'Outsourced.' We had the G-20 and talked enough about how important that was. Maybe there is an advantage, biznass-wise, to having someone a little more worldly in the top job -- not to mention someone whose background lies in a crackerjack global networking nation-state like India.

"Allegheny County could be parlaying with a chip maker from Singapore, and that chip maker would be like, 'Ooh, they're being led by a Raja, these people must be players after all!' "


Avenger or nut?

Joshua Holland at Alternet writes about reports that 70-year-old Murray Seidman of suburban Philadelphia was stoned to death with a rock stuffed in a sock allegedly by 28-year-old John Thomas, who claimed Mr. Seidman had made unwanted sexual advances. According to the criminal complaint, Mr. Thomas told police he killed Mr. Seidman because the Old Testament refers to stoning homosexuals.

Mr. Holland's take: "If the perpetrator were following the uglier dictates of another book of myths -- say the Koran -- then this would obviously reflect poorly on all his fellow adherents. As it stands ... well, just a lone nutter."


Women of war

Robert Dreyfuss in The Nation: "So Obama's women wanted war against Libya. We'd like to think that women in power would somehow be less pro-war, but in the Obama administration it appears that the bellicosity is worst among Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power.

"All three are liberal interventionists, and all three seem to believe that when the United States exercises military force it has some profound, moral, life-saving character to it. Far from it. Unless President Obama's better instincts manage to reign in his warrior women ... the United States could find itself engaged in open war in Libya, and soon."


Federal bully

Hans Bader at Minding the Campus: "There's no federal law against bullying or homophobia. So the Department of Education recently decided to invent one. On Oct. 26, it sent a "Dear Colleague" letter to the nation's school districts arguing that many forms of homophobia and bullying violate federal laws against sexual harassment and discrimination. But those laws only ban discrimination based on sex or race -- not sexual orientation, or bullying in general.

"The letter ... twisted those laws, interpreting them so broadly as to cover not only bullying, but also a vast range of constitutionally protected speech, as well as conduct that the Supreme Court has held does not constitute harassment. In so doing, it menaced academic freedom and student privacy rights, and thumbed its nose at the federal courts."


Whacking the WikiLeaker

The local Spork in the Drawer blog on Bradley Manning the WikiLeaker:

"A senior U.S. official with the Department of Defense leaks classified secrets to the Associated Press because it serves his purpose. This happens frequently and there are no consequences for doing so.

"Pfc. Bradley Manning leaks 'classified secrets' the administration finds embarrassing and he's declared an enemy combatant, forced to endure inhumane treatment by his [captors].

"Sounds about right."


Compiled by Greg Victor ( gvictor@post-gazette.com ).


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