Saturday, August 03, 2013
by Alan Jacobs
July 29, 2013
July 29, 2013
First, Reza Aslan is not a New Testament scholar. In Zealot, he is writing well outside his own academic training. This does not mean that his book is a bad one, or that he shouldn’t have written it, only that it is primarily a sifting and re-presenting of the work of actual NT scholars.
Moreover, there is nothing remotely new in Aslan’s book. Its general outlines very closely follow the story told by John Dominic Crossan in his 1994 book Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, which was itself a kind of summation of work Crossan and his colleagues had been doing for the previous quarter-century. (Aslan is more prone to see Jesus as a consciously political revolutionary than Crossan, who writes of Jesus’s message, “It did not invite a political revolution but envisaged a social one at imagination’s most dangerous depths” ; but in other respects Aslan’s picture of Jesus so closely resembles Crossan’s that it’s peculiar, at least, to see the earlier book go barely acknowledged in those notes.) Aslan makes no new discoveries, and makes no arguments that haven’t already been made — in some cases very long ago.
Let’s look at just one issue that tells us something about how Aslan handles his business. In Chapter 4 he writes,
Whatever languages Jesus may have spoken, there is no reason to believe that he could read or write in any of them, not even Aramaic. Luke’s account[s of Jesus’s literacy] … are both fabulous concoctions of the evangelist’s own devising. Jesus would not have had access to the kind of formal education necessary to make Luke’s account even remotely credible.
This an exceptionally definitive statement in two noteworthy ways.
First, Aslan asserts that Luke was a conscious fabulist. Yet even if Luke were wrong about Jesus’s literacy — or about anything else — there is more than one way to explain those errors. For instance, Richard Bauckham’s important and much-celebrated book Jesus and the Eyewitnesses — which Aslan appears not to know — makes a strong case that Luke’s Gospel, like the others, is based on the testimony of those who claimed to be eyewitnesses. Especially since Luke places such emphasis on his attempt to gather reliable witnesses to the life of Jesus, wouldn’t it make sense to attribute his errors (if they exist) to his interviewees’ lively imaginations or poor memories, and to his own credulousness, rather than to intentional deception? Yet Aslan never considers any other possible explanation than the one he blandly asserts without argument.
But, second, can we be so sure that Luke was wrong about Jesus being literate? Aslan again just states that Jesus could neither read nor write, but if we look at the bibliographical essays at the end of Zealot we discover that he knows perfectly well that the situation is far more complicated than that. One of the chief sources he cites is John P. Meier’s Jesus: A Marginal Jew, and, as Aslan must acknowledge, “Meier actually believes that Jesus was not illiterate and that he even may have had some kind of formal education, though he provides an enlightening account of the debate on both sides of the argument” (230n). So there’s an argument on this point? One wouldn’t learn that from reading the actual text of Zealot, only from burrowing deep into the apparatus.
In fact, Aslan is following the logic of Crossan here, who wrote — though again Aslan does not cite him —, “Since between 95 and 97 percent of the Jewish state was illiterate at the time of Jesus, it must be presumed that Jesus also was illiterate” (Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography 25). Aslan, as one might expect, just says “97%” — but both he and Crossan are wildly oversimplifying an immensely complex question, as I discovered when I tried to navigate the vast pile of evidence provided by Catherine Hezser in her Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine. Confession: I didn’t get far in Hezser’s book, but far enough to realize that the invocation of statistics like “between 95 and 97 percent” and “97%” is a comically inept attempt to use numbers plucked from the air to give a false appearance of scientific accuracy in overwhelmingly difficult and evidence-poor situations.
The chief point I want to make here is that in claiming that Jesus was illiterate Aslan is (a) asserting flatly a point that is seriously disputed among New Testament scholars and (b) making no new claim. Indeed, the claim was not remotely new when Crossan made it: probably armchair atheists have been making it since before there were armchairs, but among New Testament scholars it goes back at least to Light from the East by Adolf Deissmann, the first edition of which appeared in 1908.
So, in sum: Reza Aslan’s book is an educated amateur’s summary and synthesis of a particularly skeptical but quite long-established line of New Testament scholarship, presented to us as simple fact. If you like that kind of thing, Zealot will be the kind of thing you like.
Our leadership class’s real accomplishment is résumé padding.
Let us put aside, as he so rarely does, Anthony Weiner’s spambot penis, and consider his wife and putative first lady. By universal consent, Huma Abedin is “smart, accomplished” (the Guardian), “whip-smart” (The Week), “accomplished” (Time), “smart and accomplished” (the Daily News) — oh, and did I mention “accomplished” (Forbes)?
So, if she’s so smart, what has she accomplished? Let us put aside her Muslim Brotherhood family background — let us put it aside in the same corner as Anthony Weiner’s infidel penis, the Muslim Brotherhood being one of the few things on the planet rising even more spectacularly than Anthony. Instead, consider merely the official résumé. Huma Abedin’s present employment is as “head of Hillary Clinton’s transition team.” Mrs Clinton, you may recall, was once secretary of state. This was way back in January. Since then, she has been “transitioning away from government to become more involved in her family’s charitable foundation.” You can’t make a “transition” without a “transition team.” Well, not in America. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands recently abdicated and managed to transition away from being queen back to the non-queen sector without benefit of a “transition team.” But it would be entirely unreasonable to expect U.S. cabinet officials to attempt the same tricky maneuver.
In 2001, Bill Clinton was struggling with his own “transition back to private life.” He was reported by his ever reliable New York Times stenographer Adam Nagourney to be having difficulty “trying to place his own telephone calls.” The telephone is a technology many older people can have problems with, particularly if they had a full-time staff to place their calls throughout the Nineties. The 1890s, that is. So, alone in retirement at Chappaqua, a bewildered Bill would pick up the speaking tube and bark, “Hello, Central, get me Gennifer Flowers.” Fortunately, he was able to make a full recovery, and has since earned (according to CNN) $89 million in “speaking fees.” But few others could manage their “transition” quite that adroitly. So for the last six months the smart, accomplished Huma Abedin has been the executive supremo of Mrs. Clinton’s “transition team.”
Is this a grueling, time-consuming burden? Is this why Anthony Weiner’s shorts find themselves alone in the small hours burning the midnight oil? No. Politico’s Maggie Haberman recently broke the exclusive news that Ms. Abedin is taking “extended vacation time from her job.” This is not because the Clintons are naturally revolted at having their good name sullied by association with a sick pervert and his creepy enabling wife, but because, as you eventually discover if you plough deep into Miss Haberman’s story, “Hillary Clinton has close to no schedule next month.” She is now transitioning from her transition to her summer in the Hamptons, and presumably that requires an entirely different kind of transition team, to bring the beach towels and mix the margaritas.
Let us take it as read that “Head of Hillary Clinton’s Transition Team” is a meaningless title. Many societies have offices of state whose origins are lost in the mists of time. In London, David Cameron’s cabinet includes a man who holds the position of Lord Privy Seal. “Lord Privy Seal” would make an excellent ceremonial title for Anthony Weiner’s penis, but is in fact one of the most ancient gigs on the planet. Prior to 1307, his job was done by the Keeper of the Wardrobe. But the Keeper of the Wardrobe felt that, what with having to keep the wardrobe, he didn’t also have time to keep the privy seal, so a new post was created. Today, the Lord Privy Seal is a position reserved for a valued confidant the prime minister wants in his cabinet but without a department to run. Someone “smart” and “accomplished,” so to speak. But it’s one thing to have a job title rendered meaningless by the intervening seven centuries, and another to invent it out of whole cloth the day before yesterday, and have the media pass it off to their readers with a straight face. Presumably, Ye Lord Keeper of Ye Transition provides some valuable service for Mrs. Clinton, but, if so, it would be nice if Maggie Haberman could let us in on it.
What else has Huma Abedin accomplished? She was Hillary’s right-hand gal in the 2008 campaign for the Democratic nomination. Which Hillary lost. So not much of an accomplishment there. Subsequently, she was deputy chief of staff at the State Department, a job so demanding she latterly combined it with some private-sector consulting. What accomplishments does the State Department have to show for the Clinton-Abedin years? Secretary Clinton, as her supporters like to brag, “traveled a million miles.” “One is always nearer by not keeping still,” wrote the poet Thom Gunn. So Mrs. Clinton flew a million miles — to “reset” our relationship with Russia, and lead from behind in the Arab Spring. This weekend, America’s embassies in Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, and a bunch of other places will be shut down because everybody hates us. Meanwhile, Putin has embraced the first American defector to Moscow in decades, and is all but egging Obama to pull out of the G20 Summit and the insufficiently LGBT-friendly Russian Olympics. As Hillary in her more reflective moments must surely wonder about those million miles, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”
What accomplishments does Ms. Abedin’s husband have for his lifetime in “public service”? Other than the $3 million Park Avenue apartment that mysteriously came his way after his enforced return to the private sector. Carlos Danger’s pitch to the electors of New York is that they need him: His gifts are so extraordinary, his talent so prodigious, his skill set so indispensable that, like all great men weighed in the scales of history, he must be taken, as Cromwell said, warts and all. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Yet his time in Congress left no trace whatsoever. The most ridiculous thing about Anthony Weiner is not the tumescence of his Tweets but the flaccidness of his résumé.
Any day now, Hillary Clinton, having spent 20 minutes in the private sector, will be needing a new “transition team” to help her transition into replacing President Obama. He’s “smart” and “accomplished,” too. He had a million bucks of elite education — Occidental College, Columbia University, Harvard Law School — and became a “community organizer.” His wife went to Princeton and became a 350-grand-a-year diversity-outreach coordinator, a job so vital to the University of Chicago Hospitals that when she quit to become first lady they didn’t bother replacing her. This is what it means to be “smart” and “accomplished” in the hyperpower at twilight.
My old boss Conrad Black recently pointed out that “the economy can’t recover as it did in the past until more people are adding value” — making and doing something real. Instead, 40 percent of Americans perform minimal-skilled service jobs about to be rendered obsolete by technology, and almost as many pass their productive years shuffling paperwork from one corner of the land to another in various “professional services” jobs that exist to in order to facilitate compliance with the unceasing demands of the microregulatory state. The daily Obamacare fixes — which are nothing to do with “health” “care” but only with navigating an impenetrable bureaucracy — are the perfect embodiment of the Republic of Paperwork.
But nobody adds lack of value like America’s present leadership class — diversicrats, community organizers, and “power couples” comprising somebody handling the transition of a government official and somebody handling the transition in his boxers. If this is “smart” and “accomplished,” no wonder Putin’s laughing his head off.
Friday, August 02, 2013
The beloved Christian apologist's best books range beyond the Chronicles of Narnia.
By Alister McGrath
July 11, 2013
Still one of the finest and most widely read explanations and defenses of the faith. Its shrewd approach and luminous imagery retain much of their power to excite and inform, even 60 years after it was written.
The first and best of the Chronicles of Narnia introduces us to the mysterious realm of Narnia and the children who explore and ultimately change it. One of the best illustrations of the apologetic power of a good story.
Not an easy book, yet it represents a masterful critique of certain forms of naturalism and educational philosophies based on them. Well worth reading slowly and thoughtfully.
The seventh and final book in the Chronicles of Narnia sets out the hope of a New Narnia. Although controversial at points, Lewis's exploration of eschatological transformation has led many to explore Christianity in greater detail.
Also a difficult book, but one that repays close study, and the first that Lewis published under his own name. He uses the image of a road to explain his conversion to Christianity and includes a masterful critique of Freudianism, set alongside a powerful depiction of the "heart's desire" and its implications for our quest for God.
Alister McGrath is the author of C. S. Lewis - A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet (Tyndale).
By Guy Benson | Aug 02, 2013
Waving away the Benghazi massacre as a "phony scandal" was vulgar and low class to begin with. Now, it's totally inoperative as a talking point. CNN sends Benghazi-gate into the stratosphere with a striking series of highly sensitive revelations. Wow:
From Jake Tapper's exclusive:
Sources now tell CNN dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night, and that the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret. CNN has learned the CIA is involved in what one source calls an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency's Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out. Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency's missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency's workings. The goal of the questioning, according to sources, is to find out if anyone is talking to the media or Congress. It is being described as pure intimidation, with the threat that any unauthorized CIA employee who leaks information could face the end of his or her career. In exclusive communications obtained by CNN, one insider writes, "You don't jeopardize yourself, you jeopardize your family as well." Another says, "You have no idea the amount of pressure being brought to bear on anyone with knowledge of this operation." Agency employees typically are polygraphed every three to four years. Never more than that," said former CIA operative and CNN analyst Robert Baer. In other words, the rate of the kind of polygraphs alleged by sources is rare.
Americans are still in the dark about much of what happened that night. A few more details are now coming to the fore, despite the intelligence community's extraordinary efforts to keep a lid on them:
Among the many secrets still yet to be told about the Benghazi mission, is just how many Americans were there the night of the attack. A source now tells CNN that number was 35, with as many as seven wounded, some seriously. While it is still not known how many of them were CIA, a source tells CNN that 21 Americans were working in the building known as the annex, believed to be run by the agency.
A Virginia Congressman, who recently revealed that Benghazi witnesses were being silence by nondisclosure agreements, is calling this a "cover-up" and demanding more answers:
In the aftermath of the attack, Wolf said he was contacted by people closely tied with CIA operatives and contractors who wanted to talk. Then suddenly, there was silence."Initially they were not afraid to come forward. They wanted the opportunity, and they wanted to be subpoenaed, because if you're subpoenaed, it sort of protects you, you're forced to come before Congress. Now that's all changed," said Wolf.
This much seems clear: There was more going on in Benghazi than meets the eye. CNN reports that nearly three dozen Americans were caught up in the dual terrorist raids; four were killed, and at least seven were injured. We learned earlier in the week that at least one unidentified US operator (likely CIA) was on that roof with ex-SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. He survived, albeit with a "shredded" leg, yet help didn't arrive for nearly a full day. Now we know he wasn't alone among the injured, and several of his colleagues' wounds were "severe." For the last year, administration critics have advanced a three-pronged line of inquiry regarding Benghazi: (1) Why were security levels so inadequate in an obviously dangerous location, (2) why weren't reinforcements sent during the seven-hour raid? and (3) why did the administration revise and manipulate talking points after the fact in order to mislead the public about what happened? The answer to that last question appears to be political concerns, although it may also have had something to do with the shroud of secrecy that's been draped over the incident. For months, there have been rumblings about the CIA in Northern Africa quietly working to round up sophisticated weapons the US government had provided to radical Libyan rebels, then surreptitiously ship them off to Syria to aid the opposition there. Might there have been a much larger US presence in Benghazi to facilitate these covert dealings? That might explain why our facilities were so poorly protected -- our people didn't want to draw undue attention to a top secret operation. But if that's the case, they were taking a massive risk -- and the risk had deadly consequences. This theory may also reveal why the military seemed paralyzed for hours on end as the attack raged. Should they step in and salvage a busted, previously secret mission? Or let it play out and concoct a back story later?
This is all pure speculation, and none of it would justify the level of opacity with which the administration has treated the raid and its aftermath. Let's say this was a highly classified operation being kept secret for both domestic and international reasons. Once an operation blows up as badly as it did in Benghazi -- an ambassador is murdered, and dozens of Americans are surrounded by the enemy, fending for their lives -- accountability, and some degree of transparency, must follow. If these theories are close to accurate, Americans might be willing to cut the White House some slack -- except they've labeled the catastrophe "phony," deceived the public at every turn, and promoted several key players involved in the political cover-up. Plus, arming hyper-extreme Al Qaeda offshoots in Syria ishighly unpopular. Another thing: The weapons-to-Syria theories are half out of the bag already, so what are they still covering-up? It's possible that the administration doesn't want the American people and our foreign allies to know just how heavily involved we've been in arming squads of exceedingly dangerous jihadi forces in two different countries, whose goals happen to align with our fleeting strategic interests. As I said, that course of action would be very, very unpopular. In any case, the CNN report has touched off a feverish guessing game, with theories flying left and right. All we know for sure at this point is that we have no idea what on earth happened that night, or why -- and that this scandal is anything but "phony."
She’s a rock star only because people keep calling her one.
August 2, 2013
"I think she’s one of the most fascinating women of our time and this world,” confessed Bob Greenblatt, the chairman of NBC, as part of his announcement that his network is making a miniseries about former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, with Diane Lane in the starring role.
Words are funny things. For instance, G.K. Chesterton once remarked that that the word “good” has many uses: “For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of 500 yards, I should call him a good shot but not necessarily a good man.”
So it is, I suppose, with the word “fascinating.” Given the perpetual soap opera revolving around the Clintons, I can understand the fascination with Mrs. Clinton. But while a soap opera can make for a compelling spectacle, that doesn’t mean every character in it is compelling in his or her own right.
Quick: Can you think of a single truly interesting thing Hillary Clinton has ever said?
Before you answer, let me narrow the terms. Wildly implausible statements about how she parlayed pocket change into $100,000 in the commodities markets simply by reading the Wall Street Journal don’t count. Neither do her explanations of how her Whitewater billing records miraculously appeared out of thin air in the most secure building in America. Nor do her explanations of how and why she stuck by her husband.
What I mean is: Have you ever heard her speak, as a politician in her own right, and been wowed by her eloquence or floored by her insights or even particularly impressed by her raw political skill?
I’m hard-pressed to think of any examples. I suppose her famous dismissal of any interest in how, on her watch, four Americans were murdered by terrorists — “What difference, at this point, does it make?!” — could count as fascinating in its brazen indifference and staggering cynicism. But c’mon.
The simple fact, by my lights at least, is that Hillary Clinton is not a compelling personality in her own right. Even Bill Clinton’s harshest critics have to concede that he was a masterful politician, a jazz impresario mixing deep insights, policy minutiae, and folksy cornpone peppered with compelling half-truths and daring outright lies. Barack Obama isn’t nearly as gifted as Bill was on the stump or in the backrooms, but the man has political talent. Hillary’s a very solid policy wonk, but the only thing that makes her a rock star is that people keep calling her one.
The same goes for her career. Quick: What has the woman done? As a lawyer, what important cases did she win? As a first lady, her only major “accomplishment” was a failed health-care-reform scheme that didn’t even get a vote in the Senate. As a carpetbagging senator from New York, what historic legislation did she shepherd? Most of her party, including the president, repudiates her vote for the Iraq War. Pretty much the only thing her biggest supporters can tout about her tenure as secretary of state is that she “traveled a million miles,” which strikes me as the ultimate triumph of quantity over quality (particularly given the hot mess that is American foreign policy).
In other words, what fascinates me is the fascination with Hillary. I don’t deny that it exists, I just don’t think she warrants it. Also, I don’t think finding Hillary Clinton deeply interesting necessarily means there’s a deep interest out there in the American public to see her become president. Huma Abedin, the humiliated wife of Anthony Weiner, is interesting for many of the same reasons Hillary is; that doesn’t add to Abedin’s qualifications for high office.
And this is one reason why I think all of the talk about Hilary’s “inevitability” is misplaced. Yes, she’s way ahead in the polls. But she’s also been out of the line of fire in domestic partisan politics for a long time. That softens people’s attitudes until they are given a reason to change them. (George W. Bush’s popularity has gone up markedly for similar reasons.) When the Benghazi scandal was in the news, her favorability dropped. You can be sure it’ll happen again if she runs and stakes out positions.
Sure, the smart money is on her to win the Democratic nomination if she runs. But, then again, the same smart money went to Clinton in 2008. Clinton lost to Obama for several reasons, some of them tactical. But trumping all of the others was that Obama was a more compelling candidate.
And that’s Hillary’s Achilles’ heel: Candidates matter.
Thursday, August 01, 2013
Whistleblower Porter Fischer says there's evidence linking athletes from basketball, boxing, and NCAA sports to PEDs, but only baseball's governing body seems to care.
Porter Fischer is the man who brought the Biogenesis scandal public, by providing documents to a Miami newspaper that named MLB players as PED clients. (Nicole Noren/ESPN)
A curious interview was posted on ESPN's Outside the Lines last Thursday, July 25, under the headline "Biogenesis Whistle-Blower Speaks Out."
Porter Fischer, the former Biogenesis clinic employee who sparked the current performance-enhancing drug scandal in major-league baseball by turning over documents to the Miami New Times earlier this year, told ESPN's T.J. Quinn that there are at least a dozen more athletes, whose names haven't yet been revealed, who received PEDs from the Biogenesis clinic, adding, "This isn't a 2013 thing or a 2012 thing. Some of these people have been on the books since 2009."
Though he didn't name names, Fischer did tell Quinn that there were other major-league baseball players who have not yet been exposed -- as well as athletes from professional basketball, boxing, tennis, mixed martial arts and, perhaps most intriguingly, the NCAA. And yet, Fischer says the only authorities who have contacted him are from the office of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig.
"In just the four years that I know," Fischer said, "it's got to be well over a hundred [athletes], easy. It's almost scary to think about how many people have gone through [treatment by Biogenesis owner Tony Bosch] and how long he's gotten away with this."
I don't know what's more peculiar about this: the fact that no other sports' governing bodies have contacted Fischer, or that almost no one appears to have asked why.
From watching sports talk shows and reading news on the Internet, you'd think that baseball was the only sport with a drug problem. But of course, that's far from the case. Fischer did tell Quinn that as far as he knew, Biogenesis had no clients from the NFL. This is somewhat surprising since, as I wrote earlier this year, on September 21, 2008 the San Diego Union-Tribune published a report that 185 NFL players were users of performance-enhancing drugs. The report named players from every NFL team and at all positions, including quarterback.
At the time, some reporters called the Union-Tribune study "the Mitchell Report of pro football," referring to Senator George Mitchell's hugely influential 2007 report on the use of PEDs in baseball. In fact, the Union-Tribune's list contained nearly 100 more names than the Mitchell report. Yet few journalists picked up on the story, though in fact 33 NFL players were suspended in 2012 and 2013 for violating the league's substance abuse policy, while, over the same time span just eight MLB players were penalized. According to The Washington Post, the Redskins alone have eightplayers who received suspensions of various lengths since 2011.
Given that the NFL's drug problem seems to be rampant compared to baseball's, one would think that Commissioner Roger Goodell would have at least one representative looking into what Fischer might have.
The NBA has fared better on suspensions for substance abuse; some have suggested that that's because the league's drug policy is lax compared to those of baseball and football. Last fall, David Howman, Director General of the World Anti-Doping Agency, singled out the NBA for "gaps" in its testing program, specifically not testing for Human Growth Hormone. This will almost certainly come up when the next labor agreement is negotiated. (The current agreement expires after the 2015-2016 season.)
Fischer mentioned no professional boxer by name, but there's one candidate who's likely on some people's minds. Mexican welterweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez fought Filipino champion Manny Pacquiao three times prior to their fourth meeting December 8 of last year. All three fights went the distance, with one draw and two victories for Pacquiao. In the fourth fight, Marquez exhibited prodigious punching power and knocked Pacquiao unconscious in the sixth round.
Observers couldn't help but notice that when Marquez had stepped into the ring, his framewas "vastly more muscular" a year after hiring Angel Guillermo "Memo" Heredia as his strength and conditioning coach. Heredia had a known association with Balco, the Bay Area laboratory which pumped Barry Bonds into a late-career superman. (Balco founder Victor Conte served a prison stint for his connection with illegal steroids.) Professional boxing in the U.S. has no central authority, no commissioner to take charge of an investigation and ask to see the Biogenesis records.
Mixed martial arts, on the other hand, which is governed by the Ultimate Fighting Championship or UFC, does have a commissioner. When Dana White was told there were names of MMA fighters in the Biogenesis document, he said that he hadn't been keeping tabs on the story and that he had "no idea how I'd handle it." Memo to Dana White: Better start thinking of a way to handle it, just in case.
The most intriguing of Fischer's revelations, though, was that there were NCAA athletes associated with his former employer. Does he mean college football players, college basketball, or both? Or possibly college baseball, where an increasing number of major-league players hone their skills before going pro? Given the number of athletes who play college sports, the potential for PED use is staggering--greater than that of all professional sports combined. But as Associated Press reporter Eddie Pells wrote back in 2011, an AP survey of more than 50 schools found that "policies were all over the map - with no consistency or integrated strategy to tie them together."
The NCAA claims to spend more than $5 million annually on drug testing and education in an effort to deter the use of banned substances. But according to their website, "Each NCAA member is responsible for determining whether to establish an institutional drug-testing program, at which time the school would be responsible for determining applicable penalties. If a testing program is established, though, the school is obligated to enforce the penalties. Failure to do so can lead to NCAA sanctions."
I take this to mean that member schools -- a group which includes virtually all accredited colleges in the United States -- are pretty much free to conduct their own testing programs according to their own rules, and only if they fail to adhere to their own standards will the NCAA step in. (How exactly the NCAA finds out that a school hasn't met its own standards isn't clear.) So it seems that the most powerful organization in amateur sports is far more concerned with athletes whomake a few bucks on the side selling their own game-used jerseys.
No wonder, then, that the NCAA sent no one to talk to Porter Fischer; they simply assume that if any member school is interested they can give him a call on their own.
Forget about PED use being a problem specific to baseball. If the Biogenesis scandal indicates anything, it's that as far as the use of performance enhancing drugs by professional and amateur athletes goes, we've only seen a tiny portion of what could be in store. If no other sport cares, Major League Baseball would be doing fans, enforcers, and athletes alike a huge favor by making the Biogenesis information public as soon they're done.