Thursday, February 27, 2014

Wither Ukraine?

Ukraine, like its neighbor Poland, is a victim of geography. Poland’s historic problem is being stuck between Germany and Poland. Poland though, unlike Ukraine, has had long periods of independence. Ukraine borders Russia on the East and North. Ukraine has rarely been independent. Its history is one of shifting boundaries and continuous battles, and often conquests, by Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Mongols, Ottoman Turks, Vikings, Cossacks, Tatars, Poles, and Russians, as well as invasions by various nomadic tribes out of Asia and the steppes, including the Goths and Huns. Kiev was the great city of Eastern Europe until the Mongols sacked it in 1240. Moscow then rose to prominence. The expanding Russian Empire exerted control over Ukraine in the mid-1600’s, with spurts of independence, such as a few years after World War I until the Soviets incorporated Ukraine into the Soviet Union. Stalin’s rule was especially tragic with Nikiti Khrushchev, his satrap, being known as The Butcher of the Ukraine. The Ukraine was the breadbasket of the USSR. The later Kremlin bosses saddled Ukraine with the April 26, 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear reactor explosion. The Crimea Tatars were brutally expelled by Stalin and Beria. They were only allowed back to their ancestral homes a few decades ago. Later, Khrushchev as the leader of the USSR transferred the Crimean Peninsula to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954. The political boundaries had little political significance as long as the Kremlin made the decisions. Ukraine declared independence on July 16, 1990 during the collapse of the USSR. Its boundaries included the Crimea and other areas in the east with substantial Russian populations. Sevastopol in the Crimea is the base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The Russian foreign policy in the Mideast depends on access to the Black Sea, and then through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles to the Mediterranean. The Ukrainian economy has been collapsing in recent years. The government is essentially broke. The country needs outside financial assistance. The Ukraine is dependent on Russia for much of its energy and trade. Russia’s main natural gas line to Western Europe goes through Ukraine. Ukrainians, the non-Russian Ukrainians, have no love for Mother Russia. Yet, Vladimir Putin is about to place a Russian bear hug around Ukraine. The former KGB agent eyes a rebirth of the Soviet Empire, with perhaps the exception of some of the former Muslim republics. Putin went to war with Georgia a few years ago to seize part of Georgia. Any restored Russian Empire must include the Ukraine, which tragically has been joined by the hip to Mother Russia for centuries. The current Ukrainian unrest was triggered when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych cancelled a trade agreement in November with the European Union. President Putin offered $15 billion to Ukraine. Ex-President Yanukovich is the spitting image of the thugs who ruled many of the Soviet bloc countries. Ukrainians have no love for Russia. They want to join the West, but geography is their fate. President Yanukovych became a Russian puppet. The Ukrainians, at least those in the non-Russian parts of the Ukraine, rebelled. The shooting of the protestors by special riot police did not quell the popular revolt. The Ukrainian military refused to use force against the dissidents. They would not fire on their fellow Ukrainians. The President fled Friday, and emerged yesterday in Russia, claiming to still be the Ukrainian leader. “Independent” Russian militia members “spontaneously seized the Crimean Parliament Building and later the local airport yesterday. Reports are that some “militia” wore Russian Navy Insignias. President Putin suddenly ordered a 150,000 strong “war Games” on the Ukrainian border. Normally a state, such as Ukraine, would send police and the military to suppress a revolt. That could well trigger a military conflict with Russia. The Ukraine has a large military. Will it fight the Russians against strong odds? The Kievan protestors will. The Crimea Tatars Probably will. The Crimea though is probably going back to Russia, perhaps with some of Ukraine’s eastern provinces. President Obama will do nothing of substance to prevent it.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

They Shoot Squirrels in Berkeley: Don't They?

Will they shoot squirrels in Berkeley? Will Bullwinkle lose Rocky? The City of Berkeley deposited about 1.9 million tons of residential, industrial, and commercial trash on a 90 acre landfill on San Francisco Bay. The City covered it over and named it Cesar Chavez Park. Cesar Chavez deserved better than having an abandoned dump named for him, but I digress. The Park has become home to a prolific population of ground squirrels and gophers. The people of Berkeley believe in making love, not war. They love to feed the adorable squirrels. The squirrels and gophers love to borrow through the soft detritus of society by the Dock of the Bay. The bureaucrats of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board ordered Berkeley in 2009 to reduce the squirrel population at the Park. Bureaucrats versus squirrels. The squirrels will win. The bureaucrats claim the assiduous digging of the burrows breaks the cap on the dump and releases “garbage juice” into the Bay. “Garbage juice!’ I’ve heard of pond scum before, but garbage juice? Is that a scientific term? Should I now use “garbage juice” instead of “leachate” in my Toxic Torts class? What hasn’t garbage juice been a problem at the score of other dumps on the Bay? Is this just another example of the uniqueness of Berzerkeley? The Berkeley City Council has acceded to The Great Ground Squirrel Slaughter. The War on Squirrels has as much chance of success in Berkeley as the War on Drugs. Civil disobedience is expected, perhaps a Squirrel-in. The cry will echo through the hills of Berkeley: “Free Rocky the Squirrel.” The squirrels are like coyotes. The more you kill, the faster they breed. New colonies will migrate to the open spaces. Lebranstran for ground squirrels in Berkeley! The problem is how to dispose of them. I have a vague memory decades ago of a thriving ground squirrel population by San Francisco’s fabled Cliff House at the foot of the Bay. The tourists came to look at the entrance to the Bay, but fed the squirrels. Something happened to these squirrels. Was it a poison or infection? I don’t know. We also don’t know how Berkeley, with its hired exterminator, will expiate the squirrel population on a one acre test site. Poisons are out. They would kill desirable species, including a significant percent of Berkeley’s dogs and cats. State law prohibits the transplant of these mammals. They are condemned to live the rest of their lives in Berkeley. They could shoot the critters, but in Berkeley? The irony is that Cesar Chavez was opposed to violence. Suggestions include offering a dollar bounty for each dead squirrel the neighborhood children bring in. A corollary is to issue BB guns to the kids with the dollar bounty. The kids could probably wipe out the squirrels in a week. Another alternative would be to bring in gopher snakes. They love rodents squirreled in burrows. The theory is that the exterminator will trap the animals and then kill them offsite. Let me suggest an alternative. The captured squirrels and ground hogs could be placed on the menus of San Francisco’s Cliff House and Berkeley’s Chez Panisse. Ground Squirrel – a true San Francisco Bay Treat, boiled in garbage juice.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Congressman John Dingell, Jr., The Grand Inquisitor, Is Retiring After 58 Years: Finally!

Congressman John Dingell, Jr. joined today the herd of 3½ dozen Congressmen and Senators who have announced their retirement from Congress this year. His retirement is singular because he is the longest serving member of Congress, 58 continuous years through 29 terms. He was first elected in 1955, succeeding his father, John Dingell, Sr., who served from 1932 until his death in1932, Representative Dingell hopes his wife succeeds him, thereby keeping the seat in the family. Deborah Dingell is 30 years younger than her husband, and was a lobbyist for General Motors when they married. The 87 year old Congressman sais his health is good, but said “I do not want to be carried out feet first.” He added “I don’t want people to say I stayed too long.” Of course he did. He is a living argument for term limits. So are the other long term retirees, both Republicans and Democrats: Frank Wolf (R. Va.) 17 terms Howard Coble (R. N. Car.) 15 terms Buck McKeon (R. Cal.) 12 terms Tom Latham (R. Iowa) 10 terms Henry Waxman (D. Cal.) 20 terms George Miller (D. Cal.) 20 terms Bob Andrews (D. N.J.) 12 terms Jim Moran (D. Va.) 12 terms Carolyn McCarthy (D. N.Y.) 9 terms Mike McIntyre (D. N. Car.) 9 terms In addition, Senator Carl Levin (D. Mich.) is steeping aside after 35 years and Senator Max Baucus (D. Mont.) has left the Senate after 35 years to become Ambassador to China. Congressman Dingell was a dinosaur, carrying on the legacy of the New Deal and Great Society as the nation turned conservative. He was a bona fide liberal, being instrumental in the enactment of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Civil Rights Act, and Medicare. His life long dream of universal health care was achieved with the passage of ObamaCare. He should have retired with his good friend Bert Stupak (D. Mich.) in 2010. He finally realized that “This is not the Congress I know and love.” He added I find serving in the House to be obnoxious.” Of course it is a different Congress. The Democrats no longer control Congress. The Democrats controlled the House of Representatives for 40 years from 1954 to 1994. He was one of the Congressional Bulls, who chaired the powerful Congressional committees during the reign of Democratic hegemony. He lorded it over the Republicans until Newt Gingrich rallied them to fightback. Congressman Dingell chaired the House Energy and Commerce Committee from 1981 to 1994. He quickly acquired a reputation as The Grand Inquisitor, or more aptly as a bully. He used his Chair to terrorize scientists, business executives and government workers, often without cause. Democrats today complain of the House hearings chaired by Congressman Darrell Issa (R. Cal.), but Congressman Issa has the facts to question the Obama Administration on issues such as Fast and Furious. Among the eminent scientists crucified by Congressman Dingell are Nobelist David Baltimore, President of Rockefeller University, and Robert Gallo, who linked the virus to AIDS. Chair Dingell also “took out” President Donald Kennedy of Stanford University on false charges of irregularities in government grants. Congressman Dingell was a reliable liberal, except on two issues. First, he was opposed to gun control, at one point being on the Board of the National Rifle association. Second, he was strongly supportive of the automobile industry. His current Congressional District includes the Ford Motor Company headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. His largest campaign contributors are Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors. He has served then well. The Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives in the 2006 midterm elections. They deposed him as Committee Chair in 2008, being replaced by Congressman Henry Waxman, representing smoggy Southern California. He should have realized that it was time to go when his own party dumped him. Representative Dingell served under 11 Presidents, and watched the decline of both Detroits, the city and the industry, during his tenure in Congress. He represented the city of Detroit and its suburbs and served Detroit, the industry. Not well! Congressman Dingell had become a caricature of himself.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The UAW Seeks a Mulligan in Chattanooga, Tennessee

The UAW lost its attempt to organize the Chattanooga, Tennessee VW plant by a 712-626 vote on Friday, February 14. It filed an appeal with the National Labor Relations Board a week later. It needs a Mulligan from the NLRB to save it. The South, including the border state of Tennessee, is notoriously anti-union, championing right to work laws. The Northern states favored closed shops, whereby employees have to join a union. . The South lost the Civil War, but it is winning the economics battles. Even some bedrock progressive states, such as Indiana and Michigan, have become right to work. Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder was opposed to right to work legislation until the UAW led an unsuccessful effort in attempting to get the voters to approve Prop 2 in 2012. Prop 2 would have placed in the Michigan Constitution the right of private and public unions to organize and collectively bargain. It failed 58-42%. Enactment of right to work was the Republican payback to the UAW. The UAW is blamed, rightly or wrongly, for the decline, if not collapse of Detroit, both the industry and city. The traditional Big Three have been losing market shares and sales for 4 decades and closing dozens of UAW plants as the UAW membership plunged from 1.5 million dues paying members 35 years ago to 380,000 members today, a drop of 75%. No wonder the UAW is seeking a 25% dues increase. 130,000 of the UAW members work for the Big Three, the shrinking General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. GM has dropped from over half the American auto market to around 18-19% today. Chrysler and General Motors went bankrupt 5 years ago, but the taxpayers bailed out their UAW health insurance plans. Conversely the Southern states have witnessed a boom in automobile production as the German and Japanese car manufacturers have built new assembly plants in their states – all non-union. The UAW leaders understand what is happening. Union President Bob King recognized two years ago that the union’s survival depended on organizing the Southern plants. He said “I don’t think there is a long term future for the UAW” unless it organizes the South. Previous efforts to organize Nissan and Honda failed, but this time the new VW plant in Chattanooga was targeted with Mercedes in Alabama to follow. They thought VW was the best chance to unionize an import plant in the South. The UAW spent two years organizing the workers. VW was not opposing the union’s efforts. Indeed, it even let union organizers on the floor. Yet, the UAW failed. The UAW faces three obstacles in organizing the Southern Plants. First, the German, Japanese, and Korean manufacturers vigorously oppose unionization, with the sole exception of VW. Second, they don’t have much to offer the workers, who see the unionized plants as losers. The VW workers make about $27/hour and benefits. Third, the South is hostile to unions. The campaign against the UAW was promoted by outside forces, including politicians. Senator Bob Corker (R. Tenn) said shortly before the close of the voting period that he had been told that VW would not add a second assembly plant to build SUV’s if the workers unionize. VW disavowed the Senator’s statement, but VW’s choice is between Chattanooga and Puebla, Mexico. The Tennessee Senate leader threatened that VW would receive no further tax incentives if the plant unionized. The state and local governments had extended $577 million in subsidies to VW to get it to locate in Chattanooga. The political battle is over the future of the economic south, where jobs are growing. The Republican politicians in control of much of the South fear the money the UAW and other unions could raise locally through dues and then fund Democratic candidates in the South. The political and business leaders as well as many workers see the collapse of the heavily unionized industries and the decline of the northern union cities, led by Detroit. Thirteen anti-union billboards were placed near the plant. They had such messages as “United Obama Workers,” “Detroit: Brought to You by the UAW,” and “The UAW spends millions to elect liberal politicians, including Barack Obama.” Bob King was “deeply disappointed” with the “unprecedented interference by Republican politicians and political groups.” The UAW’s petition to the NLRB claimed “Senator Corker’s was shameful and undertaken with utter disregard for the rights of the citizens of Tennessee and surrounding states that work at Volkswagen.” The UAW will be pouring millions of dollars in trying to prevent a Republican takeover of the Senate this year. Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, said the unions will continue their organizing efforts in the South. The irony is that Trumka’s union, the United Mine Workers of America, is being destroyed by President Obama’s War on Coal. The UAW’s complaint to the NLRB is based on an organized campaign of intimidation by politicians and outside special interest groups. Such activities might constitute an unfair labor practice if conducted by the company fighting the union. However, it would be a novel theory for the NLRB to set aside an election because politicians and private citizens exercise their First Amendment Freedom of Speech. It is also based on inaccurate facts. About 1,000 votes, out of 1338, were cast, before Senator Corker uttered his statement. The UAW’s best hope is that the Obama NLRB will come to their assistance. It had earlier acted against Boeing for building a non-union plant in South Carolina to build 777’s. His appointees will not be bound by established law. Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina responded to the VW vote by saying Chrysler, Ford and GM union jobs are not welcome in South Carolina. “We don’t want to taint the water.” That expresses the Southern approach to the traditional, industrial unions.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Robert McKevitt, the Twix Vending Machine, and His Network Moment

“I’m mad as Hell and can’t take it anymore.” We’ve all faced that Howard Beale moment, especially these days with an infinite series of robotic prompts, followed by the sounds of silence on a service call. Robert McKevitt had his last October and made a costly decision. We can identify with his battle with the money gouging vending machine. We have one of those machines in the law school. He put a dollar in the machine at the Polaris Industries warehouse in Milford, Iowa for a $.90 Twix Bar. Robert had had “a rough day.” His girlfriend was nine months pregnant and “it was rough.” The Twix was visibly hung up on the way done. He placed another dollar in the machine. Same result. It’s time for the tried and true Plan B kicking and violently shaking the machine. More frustration. Now it’s time to think outside the box. It’s time to fight the frustrations; it’s time for relief. “Man Against the Machine.” Deux ex Machina This man will beat the vending machine with a stronger machine – his forklift. The forklift lifted and dropped, or should I say “allegedly lifted and dropped,” the felonious vending machine six times, two feet each time, onto the cement floor. Robert hid the Twix Jackpot. The machine disgorged three Twix bars. Robert had won a small victory for man against the infernal vending machine. A victory we can all savor. Robert McKevitt then had to face a bigger foe, The Polaris Industries Human Resources Department. HR had no empathy or sense of humor. Robert was fired 5 days later, two days after the birth of his daughter. He had one moral victory. Polaris Industries replaced the vending machines. His subsequent application for unemployment was denied. The administrative judge held Robert McKevitt was justifiably fired for misconduct for acting in willful disregard of his employer’s interests. Apparently the judge frowns upon employee morale boosting activities. Robert earned $16/hour at Polaris. He now makes only $9/hour at Walmart. He also lost his girlfriend and had to move in with his brother. Where did Robert go wrong? First, he apparently never watched the 1976 classic movie “Network,” now out on Blu-ray. He would have seen that it ended badly for Howard Beale, who uttered the memorable line “I’m mad as Hell and can’t take it any more.” Second, he blew; he let his emotions control him. Find an outlet to release the pressure in a manner that is not anti-social. Take it out on a punching bag or golf club. Shoot 1,000 free throws. Clean the garage or basement. Listen to early Bob Dylan. Throw darts at a picture of the vending machine. Make a Voodoo Doll with the machine’s name on it, and then stick pins in it – anything short of actual violence. Third, understand that “It’s the minor frustrations that make life interesting.” As the saying goes “If You Have a Lemon, Make Lemonade.” (A wonderful book by Warren Hinckle). Read the book, or even the extensive owners manual for the forklift. Watch Martini McBride’s wonderful music video for “Even God Fearing Women Get the Blues.” But don’t emulate Roger Pion, who was so upset at a ticket in Vermont that he took out 8 Orleans County police cruisers with a tractor in August 2012, a feat emulated last December by a 38 year old man in Burnaby, British Columbia, who totaled six police cars and then flooded the Burnaby Hospital’s basement. Forklift rage is as bad as Road Rage. Fourth, Robert failed to understand that the law only tolerates “self help” to a very limited extent. For example, you don’t blow up the cell tower because you hate your carrier. Yet, even if only for a second, you have to think “Well done, Robert. Wish I had thought of that.”

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Solidarity Forever? Joe the Plumber Joins the UAW

Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, was thrust into the public limelight in 2008 on the outskirts of Toledo, Ohio when he questioned Senator Obama on his claims of fairness. The Senator was there for a friendly meet and great, or so he thought. Jot the Plumber questioned the candidate on his proposed tax increases. Senator Obama responded “When you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” Everybody, that is, except for those being taxed. It was a moment that laid bare for all to see, if they wished to, that the candidate was a typical progressive income redistributionist. Economic growth was not his goal; he ran to redistribute income, to bring “justice” and “fairness” to America. The President’s 20 years of Liberation Theology with the Reverend Wright, his Senate voting record as the most liberal Senator (beating out Senator Ted Kennedy), and the exchange with Joe the Plumber presaged the past 5 years of the Obama Administration in action. ObamaCare is just an advanced form of income redistribution. The proposed increase in the minimum wage is another form of income redistribution. The surge in food stamp recipients, including ads in Mexico, represents income redistribution. It’s all done in the name of fairness, a compelling, seductive claim of fairness. Joe’s 15 minutes of fame, or infamy in the eyes of Obama Supporters, unleashed media scrutiny and invasions of privacy. His life was flyspecked by government officials. Helen Jones-Kelly, the Director of the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, and an Obama contributor, ordered a search of Wurzerbacher on the state’s computers. She subsequently resigned as her misconduct became public. An independent contractor for the Ohio Association of Police Chiefs used his connections to run an illegal personal check on the private citizen to retrieve personal information on the state's computers, including his DMV records. Joe Wurzerbacher, inadvertently thrust into the public limelight, took advantage of it. The unlicensed plumber’s assistant became a “poster boy” for the McCain-Palin campaign. Alas, neither Joe the Plumber nor Governor Palin could salvage the McCain Campaign. He gave promotional speeches, wrote a book, ran ads, and unsuccessfully sought a Congressional seat in 2012. He was opposed to public unions and the government bailout of General Motors. Joe is a workingman, who needs to work. He is a single father who needs to support his son. Joe the Plumber now has a new job. He is employed by Chrysler at the Jeep assembly plant in Toledo, Ohio. Ohio is a union-shop state, not a right to work state as Michigan recently became. Joe the Plumber has become a cardcarrying member of the United Auto Workers. He supports private unions. The response to his new job is mixed, as shown by the comments posted on line. Many supporters of the conservative Joe are dismayed. Some liberals and union members are apoplectic. They want him gone. They display no solidarity with their new union brother. One fellow worker during a work break called Joe a “tea bagger,” a phrase with several meanings. This response, in light of the Union’s failed attempt last week, to organize a Tennessee VW plant, further projects a negative image for the UAW. Joe is pleased to have a job, presumably a steady job, but Chrysler has had three near death experiences in the past three decades. Joe will not be pleased that UAW President Bob King has proposed a 25% increase in union dues from the equivalent of two working hours per month to 2½ hours per month, The Union wants to rebuild its strike fund. Joe has not said what he thinks of the Union contributing large sums to the Obama Campaign as well as other Democrats in the 2008 and 2012 elections. The UAW officials in Solidarity House have yet to comment on their new member.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Action Alert: Acton Camel on the Loose

Friday was Valentine’s Day, but the one hump Acton camel thought it was Hump Day. He escaped his pen, along with a buffalo and ostrich, who went their separate ways to blend in with the other escaped exotic animals in the Antelope Valley. The wayward dromedary was lost and confused. His hump was but a dilapidated, sagging half hump, and he had never been free to wander the high desert before. He didn’t even have a name, not even Joe Camel. We think he’s a he, but no definitive report has yet been released. He was musing about Valentine’s Day. No camel had ever been his Valentine, and certainly not today. The Camel With No Name was on a journey through the High Desert - Free At Last; Free At Last. But no! A 72 year old denizen of the desert tried to single-handedly corral him. The fool thought all camels were domesticated. Not this nameless one. He charged the man, knocked him to the ground, stuck the human head into his mouth, bit down and then remembered he was a vegan and not a carnivore. He stomped the human for good measure. Some other neighbors offered him food, the straw that broke the camel’s nerve, and led him back to his pen. But then, just as in the movies, a band of deputy sheriffs arrived. Our camel wanted no piece of the law and bolted again. He charged the deputies, he charged the cars, he charged anything that moved. He did not notice though the NBC4LA traffic helicopter hovering overhead. Angelenos are jaded by highspeed chases (so passé), but there had never before been a low speed, careening camel chase. OJ was in a low speed, white Ford Bronco pursuit in the O.C. two decades ago, but this is LA, or at least the far northeast fringe of LA County. A BOLO went out for the gallivanting camel. The marauding camel was news; it even made the London Daily Mail, which dates back to the time of the Sopwith Camel and Camel cigarettes. A camel capture ensued with sheriff cars and fire engines surrounding him in the Wild West of northeast Los Angeles. The camel is now penned in Lancaster, being held by the Los Angeles Sherriff, the new Sherriff from the O.C., as “evidence.” The camel has now found a purpose in life. Maybe he’ll regain his hump in life. He is evidence against his owner, whoever that might be. The owner is unlicensed to possess camels, which is as great a crime in California as the unlicensed practice of the law. The unlicensed camel owner is AWOL, fleeing the police, presumably not by camelback to the Camelback Resort.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Dumb Starbucks: A Great American Prank

Howard Schultz has made a fortune convincing first Americans and then the world that they should overpay for “gourmet” coffee prepared by “baristas.” Forget Folgers and Maxwell House, even A & P’s 8 O’Clock and Chock full o’Nuts; Americans are addicted to their daily latte or frappuccinos in vendi or grande cups. $13.3 billion in 2012. From a company founded in 1971 by three University of San Francisco graduates, who sold it to Howard Schultz in 1987, the company has morphed out of its Pikes Place Market site to become one of the strongest brands in the world. You cannot escape Starbucks; not in Moscow, not in Vietnam, not in the Princes Islands. But there is only one Dumb Starbucks in the world. It opened last Friday in a strip mall in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles at 180 Hillhurst Avenue at Melbourne. Its fame spread rapidly through social media. The line to get in was up to three blocks long. Watch Americans line up outside a Starbucks before it opens in the morning – but not three blocks long. What did the customers see when they entered the new Dumb Starbucks? It was not the ambience. The walls were bare except for two posters of coffee beans and a large Dumb Starbucks sign. The pastry counters had pastries in their original Vons’ packaging, but they weren’t for sale anyway. A stack of Dumb Music CD’s rested on the counter, but they too were for show only. Dumb Noah Jones Duets, A Dumb Taste of Cuba, and Dumb Jazz Standards were not for sale. Too bad! Our dumb luck! The Dumb Starbucks should have offered dumb blue ray DVDs of Dumb and Dumber. But no such dumb luck. The menu featured Dumb Vanilla Blonde Roast, Dumb Chi Tea Latte, Dumb Caramel Macchiato, Dumb Frappucchinos, Dumb Iced Tea, and Wuppy Duppy Lattes. The sizes were Dumb Venti, Dumb Grande, and Dumb Tall. Forge the menu. Only dumb coffees and dumb lattes were served. It clearly was not the location in a strip mall next to a coin Laundromat. Nor was it the service of the two baristas. The dumb baristas would not answer the questions of the dumbfounded patrons. The Los Feliz Dumb Starbucks had something uniquely special to offer to jaded Angelenos. It quickly acquired a cachet unknown to the 20,000 Starbucks in the world. Dumb Starbucks outmarketed Howard Schultz, one of America’s greatest marketers. It offered Americans something Schultz would never offer America. The magic word, unknown to Starbucks, is “FREE.” The dumb price was simple: “0.” Even the dumbest Angeleno understands the value of FREE. There can be a free lunch, or at least a free latte. Also free were the smart phone selfies in front of the Dumb Starbucks cutout. They would stand in line for hours to get a free latte. How dumb could they be? Several patrons immediately posted their Dumb Starbucks cups on EBay for sale. No American has been so dumb as to purchase a dirty cup, which might have value in 100 years. Dumb Starbucks shut down on Monday. It was just a prank. We lack good pranks in America these days - harmless jokes that strike an American vein. No more Dick Tuck whose pranks were aimed at Tricky Dicky, Richard Nixon. The Yes Men have not been heard from for years. Allan Funt would not dare do “Smile, You’re on Candid Camera” today. CalTech and MIT may sometimes steal a cannon, or substitute student newspapers, but they get little publicity. Political correctness, fear of liability or criminal prosecutions, the thought police, and a poor sense of humor have chilled classic pranks. Nathan Fielder announced Monday that Dumb Starbucks was a prank, probably we suspect for his Comedy Central show “Nathan for You.” His dumb legal defense of “fair comment” and “parody” would have failed had the real Starbucks sued. Dumb Starbucks will go down as one of the all-time classic pranks, requiring tremendous planning, capital, equipment, supplies, rent, utilities and payroll. It died before its time because the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health lacked a sense of humor with Dumb Starbucks. The Health Department Public Health shut Dumb Starbucks down Monday afternoon because it failed to get a permit to open and operate a restaurant. The company got three permits to film the Dumb Starbucks, but some dummkopf failed to get an operating permit. America needs a good laugh. Dumb Starbucks gave us a smart life.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How Has President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize Worked Out?

President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize 4 Years, Two Months, Two Days Later The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to President Obama on December 10, 2009 for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” How has that worked out? The Arab Spring Egypt: Military cracks down on Democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood Libya: A State of anarchy Tunisia Syria: 150,000 dead and millions of refugees in civil war How has that worked out? Afghanistan: Al Qaeda and Taliban poised to take over. Resubjucation of women will occur Bangladesh: Months of riots following execution of Abdul Quader Molla, an Islamist leader Bosnia-Herzegovinia: Racked by anti-government riost and 40% unemployment rate Central Arab Republic: Christians retaliating against Muslims Indonesia: Radical Muslim revolt and terrorism in Islamic nation Iran: Iran proceeding rapidly to the bomb, crushes student demonstrations Iraq: Shite and Sunni killing each other Lebanon: Three decades of riots and religious conflicts Nigeria: Islamic militants slaughtering Christians South Sedan: devastated by “internal conflict” since July 2012 independence Thailand: weeks of anti-government riots Ukraine: Anti-government riots fueled by leaders betrayal of the peoples in rejecting membership in the European Union and embracing the Russian Bear. Israel-Arab Conflict: No end in sight How has that Nobel Peace Prize worked out?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Copenhagen Zoo Kills a Two Year Old Giraffe to Feed Him to the Lions

Copenhagen Zoo kills 2 year old Marius to feed him to the lions That’s not how they tell it, but that’s what they did. Marius, a 2 year old giraffe born at the zoo, was viewed as genetically expendable. Marius was shot in the head with a bolt, and then publicly dissected with the pieces fed to the lions and tigers, all in the presence of families with young children. The public in many countries, such as England, France and the United States, used to thrill to the sight of a public execution. Now we apparently carry on with animals. First, they fed the giraffe, and then they shot him. The public dissection and cutting the giraffe in pieces took three hours. They called it an autopsy. Classy! It would have been quicker if they had just tossed Marius into the lion’s cage and then let the hyenas have the leftovers. That would be more realistic. Imagine the response if the National Zoo, San Diego Zoo or Wildlife Park, or the Bronx Zoo attempted to publicly kill a giraffe and then feed him to the lions. The Copenhagen Zoo is a member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, whose bylaws promote genetic diversity in animals. The zoos agree to prevent inbreeding. The protocol with giraffes is to remove the young giraffes when they reach sexual maturity between 18 and 24 months. Zoos don’t want a female to mate with her father, who may stay with the pack of females for years. The young male would eventually fight with his father for supremacy of the herd. Thus, an acceptable home must be found. The Yorkshire Wildlife Park in England and a Netherlands Zoo both offered to take Marius. Yorkshire has a state of the art Giraffe House. That wasn’t good enough. Marius apparently had a brother, or half brother residing in Yorkshire. The Danes had their minds made up. Marius was genetically expendable. Tobias Stenbaek Bro, the zoo spokesman, would not survive long in the United States. He said: “I’m actually proud because I think we have given children a huge understanding of the anatomy of a giraffe that they wouldn’t have had watching a giraffe in a photo.” I assume therefore that Stenbaek Bro expects the young Danes to become zoo veterinarians. Every child should experience the dissection of a giraffe. Therefore it should be placed in the school’s curriculum as part of the common core for Denmark. Copenhagen Zoo Scientific Director Benot Holst explained: “As this giraffe’s genes are over-represented in the breeding program, the European Breeding Programe for Giraffes has agreed the Copenhagen Zoo euthanize him.” With a bolt to the head? He explained that any space, such as in the Yorkshire Animal Park, should be preserved for a genetically more improved giraffe. The zoo lets the animals breed to fulfill their normal life. They even named the baby giraffe Marius, thereby personalizing him. I like zoos, but the hubris of a zoo director claiming that a wild animal can lead a normal life in the confines of a zoo defies logic. Holst spoke against a giraffe vasectomy because it would have diminished the quality of Marius’ life. Therefore, they killed Marius, totally destroying the quality of his life. The Copenhagen Zoo has a reputation for the zealous practice of animal eugenics, killing 20-30 animals annually, including bears, tigers (a truly endangered species), and zebras. The Copenhagen Zoo brought Marius to life. They should have let him live out his life. Instead, the Copenhagen Zoo breed and raised Marius to feed him to the lions and other carnivores.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Caution: Cigarette Smoking is Hazardous to the Health of the Marlboro Man

Caution: Cigarette Smoking is Hazardous to the Health of the Marlboro Man The warning label was clear: “Caution: Cigarette Smoking May be Hazardous to Your Health. ” The Marlboro Man did not heed it. Eric Lawson died last month from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the fifth Marlboro Man to die from cigarette related illnesses. Philip Morris had a problem six decades ago. Its filter cigarette, Marlboro, was selling poorly in competition with five other brands. It had less than 1% of the market as it was marketed to women. Filtered cigarettes were marketed as safer than the non-filters. Leo Burnett, the ad agency in Chicago, had an idea. Change Marlboro to a cigarette for men, real men. Ignore the health effects of cigarettes. A cowboy would be the first Marlboro Man, and the last. A print ad was published in the Chicago area in 1954, followed quickly by a national rollout. The national campaign featured TV ads, print ads, and billboards, such as the famous oversized billboard on Sunset Boulevard. Philip Morris also tinkered with the taste and nicotine level of Marlboro, to make it both more tasty and addictive. The final marketing stroke was to acquire Elmer’ Bernstein’s theme song in the successful movie, the Magnificent Seven. The rugged cowboy and the gripping theme in the captivating West grabbed our attention as few other ads ever have. The Marlboro Man became perhaps the most successful advertising campaign in history. 18 million Marlboros were sold in 1954, but jumped to 6.4 billion in 1955.19.5 billion Marlboros were sold two years later in 1957. Marlboro became the best selling cigarette in 1972. Philip Morris never looked back as it became the world’s largest cigarette company. The Marlboro Man left American Tobacco, R J Reynolds, Brown & Williamson, and Liggett & Myers in his dust. Philip Morris started with male models, pilots and other “real men” to portray the Marlboro Man, but then settled on authenticity - real cowboys. The Marlboro cowboys smoked the product. Eric Lawson smoked up to 3 packs a day until he was diagnosed in 2006 with COPD. Several tobacco execs also died from cigarette smoking, which can be viewed as poetic justice. Several of the Marlboro Men saw the light as they suffered from tobacco diseases and testified or prepared public service announcements against cigarette smoking. The Marlboro Man had a long advertising life, from 1954-1999. It’s toll still lives on. Wayne McLaren, David McLean, and Dick Hammer died from lung cancer, David Millar from emphysema, and Eric Lawson from COPD.

Friday, February 7, 2014

CHIP Cuffs Chula Vista Firefighter

A California Highway Patrol Officer Tuesday night handcuffed a Chula Vista Firefighter, who was doing his job. A local TV crew caught it on tape. A Mustang hit a railing on I-805 off Telegraph Road Tuesday evening around 9:30pm. The car flipped over and landed in a construction site. Two occupants were injured. The Chula Vista and San Diego Fire Departments responded with three fire engines. I-805 has multiple lanes. The fire engines were parked in the far left lane. Hire Departments have learned the hard way the need to secure a scene and protect everyone involved, the victims, paramedics, firefighters, and police officers, by positioning a fire truck to block oncoming traffic. Highway patrol officers often believe their mission is to facilitate the flow of traffic. Thus, they try to clear the scene of an incident. The police and firefighters came in conflict Tuesday as they all too often do in highway accidents. Conflicts have unfortunately been common in San Diego and Orange Counties. The difference this time, and why the public knows about what would otherwise have been a routine accident, is that San Diego TV station, KFMB CBS 8, videoed the resulting conflict. The video has gone viral. An unidentified California Highway Patrol Officer, who we shall call CHIP Anonymous, told two of the engines to move, which they did. One of the trucks had a paramedic who had not commenced medical attention with a victim. CHIP Anonymous then asked firefighter Jacob Gregoire, a 12 year veteran, to move his truck or face arrest. Gregoire said he would have to contact his superiors. He was following departmental policies. Officer Anonymous then handcuffed Gregoire and placed in the back of the police cruiser for about half an hour. That would normally constitute an arrest for legal purposes. Anonymous was quick with the handcuffs when it was unnecessary. Fortunately, Officer Anonymous was not quick in pulling out a gun. Our Officer Anonymous apparently never realized that by placing the handcuffed Gregoire in the back of the cruiser meant Gregoire would not be able to move the fire truck, thereby keeping the lane blocked. His actions, and thus those of the California Highway Patrol, have cast them in a indefensible position in the public eye. Officer Anonymous presents us with the classic question: “What the Hell were they thinking?’ Chula Vista Fire Chief Dave Hannneman immediately came to the defense of his firefighter. The fore chief stated: “Our goal at an emergency is to secure the scene and begin emergency care and transport the victims to the hospital as soon as possible.” He called the officer’s behavior “ridiculous.” John Hesi, the union president, also quickly came to the support of Gregoire. Fire Chief Hanneman and California Highway Patrol Border Division Chief Jim Abele met Wednesday and issued this statement: “Both of our agencies have the utmost respect for each other and our respective missions. … This was an isolated incident and not representative of the manner in which our agencies work together toward our common goal.” It reads like it was boilerplate written by the public affairs officers of the two agencies. We know that this was not an isolated incidence. Nor was it the first captured on tape. The California Highway Patrol in its goal of maximizing traffic flow forgot another critical part of its mission statement: To “maximize service to the public and assistance to allied agencies.” Officer Anonymous should have been assisting the firefighters rather than harassing them. Police forces and fire departments exist to promote public safety. Officer Anonymous breached that fundamental principle. Perhaps Gregoire could follow the example of another firefighter, Captain David Wilson, who filed suit against Hazelwood, Missouri Police Officer Todd Greeves who arrested him in 2003. He sued for violation of his constitutional rights. A federal jury in February 2008 awarded Captain Wilson $7,500 in compensatory damages and $10,000 in punitives from the officer. The Captain parked the fire truck to protect rescuers freeing a victim trapped in the wreckage of an accident. A video, also on Youtube, caught the officer arresting the firefighter almost as soon as he got out of the fire engine. We expect our police to protect and serve the people. We also expect good judgment, training, and reasoned rules and procedures in fulfilling their responsibilities to the public. Officer Anonymous publicly failed.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

ESPN's Black Heritage Month: The 1951 University of San Francisco "Undefeated, Untied, Uninvited" Football Team

ESPN’s Black History Month features on Saturday USF’s fabled 1951 “Undefeated, Untied, Uninvited” football team. Once upon a time, small colleges played big time football in the United States. The University of San Francisco was one of them. I am as proud of my USF degrees as my Michigan degrees. The 1951 football team is an example of Jesuit values. Forget Michigan, Notre Dame, USC, Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas, the 1951 team is regarded as one of the greatest on college history. “Lightning in a bottle” struck the team. The team went 9-0 with an average score of 33-8. Nine members of the team made it to the NFL Eight played for the 12 teams in the NFL at that time. Five made the Pro Bowl and three, Ollie Matson, Gino Marchetti, and Bob St. Clair, are in the NFL Hall of Fame. (Check out Sports Illustrated, November 12, 1990, available online). Major West Coast schools were scared to play the Dons in 1951, but the Orange Bowl in Miami invited them for the New Year’s bowl game. Only one condition was attached to the invitation. USF would have to leave its two black players, Ollie Matson and Burl Toler, in San Francisco. The segregated South would not allow black athletes in its white only colleges or bowls. Some prestigious northern schools acceded to the southern demands. Not USF! The players, as one, said they were a team. They would play as a team, or not at all. The small Jesuit University, less than 1200 students in 1951, needed the money. The team and the Jesuits said no. USF did not go to the Orange Bowl. The team never played again. The University was running a deficit; it could no longer carry the football team. The only choice was to cancel football. The program would have been cancelled at some point in the future under the best of circumstances. Catholic universities, with the exception of Boston College and Notre Dame, terminated their big time football programs. The best player on the team was generally regarded to be Burl Toler, the line backer. He suffered a severe injury in the College All-Star game and could not play pro ball. He became the ninth to make the NFL, but in a different way. USF’s Sports Information Director had graduated from USF the year before, but stayed on at the campus. His name was Pete Rozelle, who became the famous commissioner of the NFL. Commissioner Rozelle brought Burl Toler into the NFL as the league’s first black official. Burl Toler was the first African American field official in pro sports. He officiated in the NFL from 1965-1989. ESPN is celebrating Black History Month. It will feature the 1951 “Undefeated, Untied, and Uninvited” USF Dons at 4:00 p.m. PST Sunday. USF’s pioneering athletic black integration continued, but not in football. Lightning in a Bay Area Bottle struck again four years later. The USF basketball team, led by three Black players, Bill Russell, K.C. Jones, and Hal Perry, won 60 games in a row and two NCAA titles. Bill Russell and K.C. Jones are in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Bill Russell revolutionized basketball. Russell, as a player and coach, won 11 NBA titles with the Boston Celtics. USF lit the sports jackpot a third time. Steve Negoesco led the Dons to 4 NCAA soccer titles in the 1960’s and 1970’s. I am proud to be a Don.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Reflections on Super Bowl XLVIII 24 Hours Later

Pete Carroll is absolutely vindicated. Only three coaches, Barry Switzer, Jimmy Johnson, and Pete Carroll have won both the NCAA football title and Super Bowl. Pete Carroll took a losing USC team and won the national title four years later. He took a losing Seattle Seahawks team and won the Super Bowl four years later. Pete Carroll proved, once again that college coaches can succeed in the NFL: Pete Carroll, Barry Switzer, Jimmy Johnson, Bill Walsh, Paul Brown, Tom Coughlin, and Jim Harbaugh. Reggie Bush is not going to strip this title away from Pete Carroll. Paul Allen continues to give back to Seattle, his home. He has been liberated since leaving Microsoft. Defense still wins title games. The Pot Bowl was a bust; only one team showed up on Sunday. Denver’s offense, defense, special teams, coaches were AWOL on Sunday – a total team effort. Why didn’t Fox switch to three hours of commercials after the safety 12 seconds into the game? Richard Sherman must be that good; Seattle hardly tested him. What is John Elway thinking? Does he miss Tim Tebow? Will advertisers finally stop flooding the airways with Peyton Manning ads? How many times did Peyton Manning call “Omaha?” A quarterback under 6’ tall, Russell Wilson, won the Super Bowl. A 5'11" quarterback defeated a 6'5" quarterback. Prognosticators pronounced yesterday a new football dynasty in the Seahawks. Next year will tell. How can a Super Bowl featuring two mid-media markets, Denver and Seattle, have the highest Super Bowl viewership? Will Americans realize the New York Giants and New York Jets play in New Jersey? The players and coaches will pay New Jersey income taxes on their earnings yesterday. Did the players know they were playing the Super Bowl 1,000 yards from a Super Fund site, Berry’s Creek – a first for the Super Bowl? Did 82,529 fans, often paying scalpers, get their money’s worth? Would Denver have had a chance if the Super Bowl were played today in a snowstorm instead of a balmy 49°? Why do we have to use Roman numerals for a purely American sport? How could Bob Dylan show up in two Super Bowl commercials?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Los Angeles and New York City are Ticketing Jaywalkers

New York and Los Angeles are the nation’s two largest cities, linked together by Neil Diamond’s “I am, I said.” LA and New York have little in common. One is the city of cars and the other the city of subways. New York is built up and LA spreads out. LA has the sun and New York blizzards. New York has Broadway and LA Hollywood. LA, greater LA, offers Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Universal Studios. The New York metropolitan area offers Coney Island and Playland in Rye. They now are both engaged in a campaign against jaywalkers. I understand it in the City of Angels. It is built on cars. Pedestrians are not part of the City’s DNA. You are judged by what you drive, not how many miles you walk. Pedestrians don’t count. Walking is a necessity in New York City, a rarity in LA. Jaywalking is an accepted custom in New York City, the norm, just as the next three cars have the right to go forward as the light turns red. Custom rules on the streets of New York. Custom is reinforced by the hordes of pedestrians competing with the multitudes of cabs, busses, vans, cars, trucks, and bikes on the clogged, often narrow, streets of Manhattan. Vendors cram the sidewalks, often forcing pedestrians into the streets. Jaywalking is natural for New Yorkers. Any sliver of light shining through the traffic is an invitation to “Go for it.” Both LA and New York City agree that jaywalkers are to be ticketed. The LAPD has made a cottage industry of hitting jaywalkers with a $197 ticket. Jaywalking in LA does not necessitate walking across the street. Simply putting your foot in the street before the light turns green is an invitation to the ticket. Tickets are issued even when no visible traffic is on the block. The LAPD can look for crime in the streets or jaywalkers in the street. Ticketing a jaywalker is easier than physically arresting a real criminal. The Police Chief says it’s a “matter of public safety and traffic flow.” If those were the reasons, then the city would not be installing bicycle lanes on many of the major streets in the city. LA should also then ticket the bikers who do not follow the law, but they don’t. Nor would the city be expanding light rail, but it is. Mis-stepping pedestrians are singled out because they don’t “fit” in LA. The LAPD does not discriminate in issuing jaywalking tickets: workers, shoppers, and tourists are all issued tickets. Ethnicity and gender do not seem to play a role. LAPD is an equal opportunity ticketer. The true reason is to raise money for the nearly bankrupt city’s coffers. They ticket jaywalkers because they can. Downtown LA is back, and with it the people having to walk from their office to a parking lot, The ticket potential is a potential goldmine for LA. New York City is concerned about safety. 12 pedestrians were killed in January and 172 in 2013. By way of contrast, New York City, the fabled city of homicides, had reduced them in 2013 to 333. Mayor de Blasio’s goal is to similarly reduce pedestrian deaths with his ten year Vision Zero Campaign, which is also directed against aggressive drivers. New York drivers are aggressive by nature. They are New Yorkers. LA drivers are egocentric. They do not believe pedestrians exist. They don’t know any. Even children are discouraged from walking to school. LA (and Orange County) police do not target aggressive drivers unless they fall victim to a speed trap or DWI checkpoint. Note to Mayor de Blasio and LA Police Chief Charles Beck, not all pedestrian fatalities are jaywalkers. The crazy thing about the ticketing is that I read about the established LAPD policy ticketing of jaywalkers in the New York Times and the new NYPD policy of ticketing jaywalkers in the Los Angeles Times. Go figure.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

$400 Million for the Gipper

The University of Notre Dame announced earlier this week the $400 million Campus Crossroads Project. We can look at it with humor or as a statement on the nature of college sports today. Humor “Win one for the Gipper” is so passé at Notre Dame. Now it’s contribute $400 million to add 4,000 seats to the House That Rockne Built, 4,000 seats in luxury suites. Notre Dame is a great university. Without football, the annual USC-Notre Dame rivalry, and the subway alumni, it would be just another Catholic University, such as the University of San Francisco or St. Mary’s, which dropped football. Without football, Ronald Reagan never would have played the Gipper. Where would America be as a society without the inspirational story of Rudy, who was subsequently nailed for Securities Fraud? Michigan did it first, so Notre Dame has to follow. Michigan taught Notre Dame how to play football. Notre Dame was a quick learner. The House That Rockne Built was modeled on Michigan Stadium. Notre Dame Stadium cost $750,000 to build in 1930, $200,000 less than Michigan Stadium, but 20,000 seats smaller. Notre Dame has been playing catch up ever since. The $400 million is to add three buildings totaling 750,000 square feet to the campus. They will abut the stadiums like flying buttresses. The front of the buildings will face the campus, but the backside will become the walls and foundations of luxury boxes with 4,000 seats. Notre Dame is following the model of Disneyland where Adventure Land and Frontier Land share walls. The effect of the three new buildings is to constantly remind the students that Notre Dame is football. The Westside will include student life services, a recreational center, including a basketball court (Isn’t Notre Dame a football school?), a career center, a large ballroom, and a climbing wall. Go to college to learn to climb rocks. Students will gladly explain to their parents, shelling out $50,000 annually to Notre Dame, that they learned to climb the wall, a valuable lesson in life. The Eastside will house the Departments of Anthropology and Psychology and the media center. Psychology is needed to temper Coach Brian Kelly’s sideline temper tantrums. The Southside will have Music and Sacred Music. The fabled Notre Dame Fight Song is sacred music to the ears of the Fighting Irish. The Northside will be left open so Touchdown Jesus will still look down on the field. TJ’s view and inspiration will be untrammeled. Notre Dame knows its priorities. Forget religion, Catholicism, masses, and convocations. The U.S. News & World Reports ranking is irrelevant. Students must know that the DNA of Notre Dame is football. Luxury boxes – the antithesis of smash mouth, college football in the Midwest! What must Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, and Lou Holtz be thinking? Is it the Damnation of Faust all over again? Fans should be jumping up and down in freezing rain and blowing gales. They must share with the players. They should not be sitting in sheltered luxury boxes eating kisch. They must experience the game and the pain. Notre Dame plans to hire 80 professors in nanotechnology, biochemistry, biomedical engineering, and nuclear physics as part of the expansion. Don’t be fooled by these academic pretentions. Brian Kelly, the football coach, will still be paid 15-30 times more than the new Ph.D. in nuclear physics. The physics of the forward pass are more critical to Notre Dame than the physics of the Universe. As long as Brian Kelly wins! Football rules. The Economics of College Sports All humor aside, athletic powers, such as Michigan and Notre Dame, are engaged in an escalating facilities war. Ohio State has set the standard in the Midwest for an athletic complex. The other schools must match, else they will be unable to attract star recruits. Football and/or basketball should carry the athletic department budgets. However, only about 20 athletic departments are self-sufficient. They include Texas, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, LSU and Alabama. Their financial success depends either on winning programs, or sharing in highly profitable league revenues, such as The Big Ten Network. Maryland and Rutgers joined The Big Ten Conference because they need the money. Michigan invested $226 million in expanding and renovating The Big House, adding 83 luxury boxes and 3,200 club seats. An additional $52 million went into Crisler Arena, a bargain compared to UCLA’s $136 million on Pauley Pavilion. The Michigan Athletic Department is planning an additional $341 million in facility improvements in future years, most of which will be underwritten by contributions. Expansions depend on contributions, bonding, and a large cash flow. Thank God for the Notre Dame’s most loyal alumni base in America. A 40-50% admissions rate for legacy instills loyalty. Fr. Jenkins announced construction will proceed when Notre Dame raises the funding. Notre Dame, whose loyal alumni have given it a $8.7billion endowment, will rush to the cause. The alumni understand that 25% of Notre Dame’s freshmen class are legacies, and that the Admissions Office accepts 40-50% of the legacy applicants. On Notre Dame!