Tuesday, April 20, 2004

This just in: 50 out of 50 states recognize God's role in Government

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Alabama 1901, Preamble. We the people of the State of Alabama, invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution ...

Alaska 1956, Preamble. We, the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land ...

Arizona 1911, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution...

Arkansas 1874, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Arkansas, grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government...

California 1879, Preamble. We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom ...

Colorado 1876, Preamble. We, the people of Colorado, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe.

Connecticut 1818, Preamble. The People of Connecticut, acknowledging with gratitude the good Providence of God in permitting them to enjoy ...

Delaware 1897, Preamble. Through Divine Goodness all men have, by nature, the rights of worshipping and serving their Creator according to the dictates of their consciences ...

Florida 1885, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Florida, grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty ... establish this Constitution...

Georgia 1777, Preamble. We, the people of Georgia, relying upon protection and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution...

Hawaii 1959, Preamble. We, the people of Hawaii, Grateful for Divine Guidance ... establish this Constitution.

Idaho 1889, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Idaho, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings ...

Illinois 1870, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.

Indiana 1851, Preamble. We, the People of the State of Indiana, grateful to Almighty God for the free exercise of the right to chose our form of government.

Iowa 1857, Preamble. We, the People of the State of Iowa, grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a continuation of these blessings ... establish this Constitution

Kansas 1859, Preamble. We, the people of Kansas, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges ... establish this Constitution.

Kentucky 1891, Preamble. We, the people of the Commonwealth of grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties...

Louisiana 1921, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Louisiana, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy.

Maine 1820, Preamble. We the People of Maine .. acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity ... and imploring His aid and direction.

Maryland 1776, Preamble. We, the people of the state of Maryland, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberty...

Massachusetts 1780, Preamble. We...the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe ... in the course of His Providence, an opportunity ..and devoutly imploring His direction ...

Michigan 1908, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Michigan, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom ... establish this Constitution

Minnesota, 1857, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings

Mississippi 1890, Preamble. We, the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, grateful to Almighty God, and invoking His blessing on our work.

Missouri 1845, Preamble. We, the people of Missouri, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and grateful for His goodness ... establish this Constitution ...

Montana 1889, Preamble. We, the people of Montana, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty, establish this Constitution

Nebraska 1875, Preamble. We, the people, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom .. establish this Constitution ..

Nevada 1864, Preamble. We the people of the State of Nevada, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom establish this Constitution ...

New Hampshire 1792, Part I. Art. I. Sec. V. Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience.

New Jersey 1844, Preamble. We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors ..

New Mexico 1911, Preamble. We, the People of New Mexico, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty ..

New York 1846, Preamble. We, the people of the State of New York, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings.

North Carolina 1868, Preamble. We the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for our civil, political, and religious liberties.

North Dakota 1889, Preamble. We, the people of North Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, do ordain...

Ohio 1852, Preamble. We the people of the state of Ohio, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and to promote our common ...

Oklahoma 1907, Preamble. Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessings of liberty ... establish this ..

Oregon 1857, Bill of Rights, Article I. Section 2. All men shall be secure in the Natural right, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their consciences..

Pennsylvania 1776, Preamble. We, the people of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance. . .

Rhode Island 1842, Preamble. We the People of the State of Rhode Island grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy.

South Carolina, 1778, Preamble. We, the people of he State of South Carolina, grateful to God for our liberties, do ordain and establish this Constitution.

South Dakota 1889, Preamble. We, the people of South Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberties ... establish this

Tennessee 1796, Art. XI.III. That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their conscience...

Texas 1845, Preamble. We the People of the Republic of Texas, acknowledging, with gratitude, the grace and beneficence of God.

Utah 1896, Preamble. Grateful to Almighty God for life and liberty, we establish this Constitution

Vermont 1777, Preamble. Whereas all government ought to ... enable the individuals who compose it to enjoy their natural rights, which the Author of Existence has bestowed on man ...

Virginia 1776, Bill of Rights, XVI ... Religion, or the Duty which we owe our Creator ... and it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian Forbearance, Love and Charity towards each other ...

Washington 1889, Preamble. We the People of the State of Washington, grateful to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution ...

West Virginia 1872, Preamble. Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we .. reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God ...

Wisconsin 1848, Preamble. We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, domestic tranquility ...

Wyoming 1890, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Wyoming, grateful to God for our civil, political, and religious liberties ... establish this Constitution ...


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Monday, April 19, 2004

Response

"While the major networks may be dominated by unacknowledged liberal bias, I don’t think the country is populated by a majority blind to that bias." You may be right on that, but I've got a strong feeling that the number of folks out there who don't keep track of politics as religiously as I do and simply take the mainstream media's word with no reservations is extremely high. Otherwise, we wouldn't be seeing the sort of public opinion polls that we regularly see. For example, when Democrats made hay about Bush "increasing" the levels of arsenic in the water, Bush's approval rating on the environment went down. Could this be a conscious and rational response? Sure. Is it more likely just a gut reaction to the headlines and opening story segments that Americans were watching? I think that's more likely.

"But when you imply that right wing pundits are waging war on some kind of grand liberal conspiracy to silence conservative views, some contrary facts must be acknowledged." No, there's no "conspiracy" to "silence" conservative views. Liberal institutions are pushing their own values, sometimes consciously, and I'm sure that sometimes the actors in those institutions aren't even aware of the inherent bias. Indeed, I expect liberal institutions to promote agendas they find compatible with their own views. The problem, as I stated earlier, is that they are unwilling to acknowledge that.

On whether or not conservatives are the "resistance," I must respectfully disagree. Republicans may control the government, but I would say that conservative ideas are not dominant in D.C. During the Reagan administration, conservative ideas were definitely the driving force of the executive branch. The same could be said of Congress right after 1994 when the "Young Turks" sought to revolutionize government. We saw some success in both those periods. But don't kid yourself; for every one step forward we took, the liberals had already pushed us two steps back.

The current administration and Congress no doubt have some conservative leanings and even the spine to advance a conservative principle from time to time. But the desire to remain in power has prodded both to abandon many conservative principles. That's how we ended up with the Medicare bill and the current squabble over just how much pork we can possibly pack into the Highway bill. Political necessity? Perhaps. There's certainly some merit to the argument that we need to stay in power to block the even worse harm that liberals would bring. (Of course, I think if Republicans had the spine to defend, promote, and explain conservative principles, the American people would agree with them...but that leads us back to the media and the ability to actually get those ideas out to the people.)

The bottom line is that while conservatives, conservative sympathizers, and some worthless tagalongs (a certain Senator from PA might fit in this category) may be running the government, they're still fighting a rear guard action. Liberals are succeeding in continually pushing us to the left, even if we occassionally push them back a bit. NR may have it right in that conservatives are "standing athwart history, yelling 'Stop.'" Can we ever win, in a fight like this, where we give more ground than we take? It didn't work for Joe Johnston, but I think that it can be done. If we're ever able to push through even a partial privatization of Social Security, then I think that we'll have reached a level of parity with liberals. Once you crack the foundation of the nanny-state, it may just begin to crumble. Then, and only then, will conservatives no longer be the "resistance."

"The vast majority of his judicial appointments have been approved." True...except where it counts. Only 13 out of 33 Appellate nominations have been confirmed.

"You're right that it is a constant struggle, and it will continue - but "war"?" Yeah, war. The liberals are treating it as such, and you'd make a grave mistake not to do the same.


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Sunday, April 18, 2004

War? Resistance? You've got to be kidding...

D-Rock - While the major networks may be dominated by unacknowledged liberal bias, I don’t think the country is populated by a majority blind to that bias. And as you acknowledge, voices from the other side are widely read and heard.
But when you imply that right wing pundits are waging war on some kind of grand liberal conspiracy to silence conservative views, some contrary facts must be acknowledged. First, conservatives are not the "resistance." Bush is the friggin' President. His appointed people run the Executive. His party controls both houses. The vast majority of his judicial appointments have been approved. Yes, certain nominees have been held up, but the filibusters are no more than unfortunate political grandstanding that energizes the faithful on both sides while more and more conservative jurists quietly take the oath. Conservative views are in clear ascendance, hyperbolic references to war against the liberal elite notwithstanding. You're right that it is a constant struggle, and it will continue - but "war"?
By the way if the liberal "elite" is in control of the media, what does that make the conservatives pundits and publications: "commoners, plebeians, rabble, or riffraff"? (courtesy of Thesaurus.com)
The comment on law students – you may be right. I guess I'm just not that intimidated.

That's enough. I've got exams.


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Sorry Lefty, You're Missing The Point

First, on the media:

National Review is a magazine that targets folks who are already on the right (ignoring the few in the center and on the left who read it just to get a sense of what the "other side" is thinking). The same can be said of Limbaugh and much of talk radio. These publications/outlets openly broadcast their bias. Ordinary Americans do not tune in to these sources to get what they believe will be neutral fact reporting devoid of opinion. It's no surprise that our ideas dominate these forums that we created simply to be heard in the first place.

The problem is that CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times (and pretty much every other major paper besides the Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, and The Washington Post) do not openly admit their biases. Ordinary Americans ARE tuning in to these sources and expecting to get bias-free news. Fox News may be an exception, I will certainly say that I can't discern any routine liberal bias at FNC. (But on the other hand, although this is a matter of opinion, I would say that I've never witnessed FNC carrying water for the Republicans/conservatives nearly as much or as blatantly as I've witnessed the other outlets doing the Democrats'/liberals' bidding.)

Now, I must say, I rather object to the use of the term "whining" in this context. If it is considered "whining" to hammer home the point that these news sources are not the solons of impartiality that they pretend to be, then I guess I'll just have to live with that description. This is a campaign by conservatives, and an entirely appropriate one at that, to delegitimize the mainstream media's monopolistic hold on a large segment of the American people. This isn't "being a victim," this is waging war.

A truly unbiased media is an almost impossible goal. Instead, conservatives have built their own institutions while trying to inform the public that the other outlets are not agenda-free. In my view, the optimal outcome would be a return to the early days of the republic when newspapers self-identified as either Federalist or Jeffersonian papers.

Now, on to Federalists and law schools:

"Face it, we are the elite in Washington, D.C."??? I'm not sure how you would define "elite," but I would generally say that it doesn't include being a very small minority in a town dominated by liberal thought, even if you're a somewhat influential minority with the current administration. I would also say that being nearly instant targets of Senate filibusters might be a factor that weighs against calling us "the elite". "The resistance" would be a better label in my opinion.

"we are well represented at most of the top schools – if not in the faculty at least in the student body.
And if you don’t have the guts to challenge the liberal line in class discussion, whose fault is that?"
The Federalist Society is not simply about "speaking up in class." Ask yourself, if you're a green 1L in your first semester, mostly ignorant of legal doctrine, whose opinion will carry more weight in your mind? The guy at the front of the classroom who has been there for 10 years and will write your exam? Or the student in the back row who argues with him?
The Federalist Society is about changing legal culture. It's about approaching legal problems and legal thoughts from a direction other than the left. In the context of law schools, it's about getting recognition for ideas that haven't been in the mainstream for 50 years.


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Saturday, April 17, 2004

Jonah - you are the elite media

While the networks and most top schools are filled to the brim with liberals, it is time for the right to stop whining about how conservative views are not heard in the "elite" media. NRO, Fox News, Limbaugh, Hannity, Hume are not at the top of the media game? Conservative scholars don't teach at top universities like Texas, Chicago, Harvard, GMU? (OK, maybe not at W&L).
Federalists should certainly be above the "I'm a victim too" crowd. Face it, we are the elite in Washington, D.C., and we are well represented at most of the top schools – if not in the faculty at least in the student body.
And if you don’t have the guts to challenge the liberal line in class discussion, whose fault is that?


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Friday, April 16, 2004

Jonah on "Air America"

No, not "on" as in on the air...just an article he wrote for NRO on "Frankenfreude"


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Thursday, April 15, 2004

Liberty Law School Dean on the Pledge and Symbolism

The Power of Symbolism

I sat in a meeting yesterday in which the Chancellor of Liberty University, Dr. Jerry Falwell, made reference to a legal matter currently before the United States Supreme Court—the constitutionality of the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. He made a passing reference to the symbolism that a decision by the Supreme Court striking that phrase would hold. Whatever the legal significance, I agree that the profound symbolism of such a decision could have far-reaching consequences to our country. Many such decisions in the courts over the last half century may have had greater symbolic effects than legal ones. It would be a mistake to believe that symbolic expressions and acts are of no significance.

In preparation to teach Foundations of Law to the inaugural class in August, specifically the concept of jurisdiction, I thought about the Gettysburg Address, in which Abraham Lincoln referred to a national rebirth of freedom “under God.” In that simple symbolic allusion he was referring to the most fundamental idea that the Western legal tradition embraced from the Christian faith. The idea is jurisdiction—that God’s sovereignty transcends and stands in judgment of all human sovereignties. As George Weigel puts it, “Because God is God, Caesar is not God and neither are Caesar’s successors, be they kings, presidents, prime ministers, or party general secretaries. And because Caesar and his successors aren’t God, their power is limited, not absolute; in addition to Caesar’s legitimate power, there are other legitimate powers in the world.”

Abraham Lincoln understood this jurisdictional principle and he understood that any rebirth of freedom must come under the auspices of the sovereign whose jurisdiction it is to grant true freedom to men and nations. And in a simple mid-nineteenth century symbolic expression by the President of the United States, he declared that the State cannot be absolute. It cannot be all there is. The State is, in fact, “under God” and must be forever aware that its jurisdiction is thus limited. It does not grant freedoms. Its jurisdiction is to protect and preserve the freedoms granted by God.

The Chancellor is right. Now, just imagine the symbolism expressed by the Supreme Court of the United States of America striking as unconstitutional the phrase “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.

Bruce Green's Blog


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Monday, April 12, 2004

Free Speech in Candad

Canada: A "Pleasantly Authoritarian Country": Picking up on a theme expressed on the Volokh Conspiracy and elsewhere (and citing my You Can't Say That!), John Leo notes the growing threat to freedom of speech from antidiscrimination legislation in Canada. (Via Instapundit) In particular, Canada, joining many of its provinces (and several European countries), is on the verge of making public criticism of homosexuality a crime.

Fifteen years ago, when I was in law school, supporters of hate speech rules argued that there were no slippery slopes, that Holocaust deniers' and pornographers speech could be restricted without damaging the First Amendment. In Canada, they started making exceptions to their constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech just fifteen years ago. Those cases involved Holocaust deniers and pornographers, and now it's illegal to quote biblical condemnations of homosexual acts. No slippery slopes, indeed.


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Treasury of Information

The Online Library of Liberty has some of the great works of the western world available for download.


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Heartwarming anti-Americanism

Go here for some touching photos from the April 10 rally in San Francisco. Whatever you do though, don't call them unpatriotic or anti-American.


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Thursday, April 08, 2004

Rice Testimony Drinking Game

Courtesy of the Volokh Conspiracy

I'm sufficiently confident about this that I think I can write up the scripts. Here are the buzzwords I expect from both sides. Play bingo at home (or, if you want, make it into a drinking game: one drink for each iteration of one of these words).

Of her demeanor, Rice supporters will say she was: "poised," "confident," "authoritative," and/or "polished."
Of her demeanor, Rice detractors will say she was: "defensive," "visibly annoyed," and/or "brusque" ; bonus (if they feel strongly) "petulant" and/or "schoolmarmish"

On the quality of her arguments, Rice supporters will say: "persuasive," "convincing," "firm," and/or "powerful"; bonus (if they feel strongly) "overpowering"
On the quality of her arguments, Rice detractors will say: "unpersuasive," "weak," "vacillating," and/or "shaky,"; bonus (if they feel strongly) "incoherent"

Overall, Rice supporters will describe her performance as: "a home run," "putting doubts to rest," "answering all the questions," "showing Clarke to be a liar," and/or "letting us get on to the people's business"; bonus (if they are really partisan) "refuting the demagogues on the other side"
Overall, Rice detractors will describe her performance as: "raising more questions than it answers," "a missed opportunity to inform the American people," "vindicating Richard Clarke," and/or "raising troubling questions about this Administration"; bonus (if they are really partisan) "you're the demagogue" (followed by: "am not!"; "are too!"; "am not!"; etc.)

I'll be interested to see whether any of the talking heads crosses ideological lines tomorrow. My guess is that they won't, and that their scripts will lean heavily on the words above.


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US News Ranking Myth

The myth of alumni donations is easily explained. US News DOES use it as a factor for ranking undergraduate schools.


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Wednesday, April 07, 2004

True.

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him: "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am!"

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You're in a hot air balloon approximately 30 feet about sea level. You are 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude."

She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be a Republican."

"I am," replied the man, "how did you guess?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "Everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help to me."

The man smiled and responded, "You must be a Democrat."

"I am," replied the balloonist, "how did you know?"

"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are, or where you're going. You've risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You've made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, and you expect ME to solve your problem. You're in EXACTLY the same position you were in before we met, but somehow, now it's MY fault."


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US NEWS Ranking Criteria

US News reports that its rankings are based on the following 12 measures of "quality" with associated weights:

Faculty Reputation (.25) 25%
Lawyers /Judges Rep (.15) 15%
Median LSAT (.125) 12.5%
Median U'grad GPA (.1) 10%
% Applic. Accepted (.025) 2.5%
Employ at Grad (.06) 6%
Employ after 9 mo. (.12) 12%
Bar Passage % (.02) 2%
School expenditures /student for instruction, library, & supporting services (.0975) 9.75%
Student/Teacher Ratio (.03) 3%
Avg. / student spending on all other items, including financial aid (.015) 1.5%
Total # of library volumes (.0075) 0.75%


If you add up the weights, you'll see that leaves precisely 0.00000 % for "percentage of graduate / class giving".

I think we need to make it clear to students that their participation or non-participation in pledging future income to W&L DOES NOT AFFECT how US News ranks our school.

And, personally, I'm tired of being told how my $0 contribution is going to doom W&L's future reputation.

***UPDATE: Tyler Wood is looking into where the information (myth?) that giving % influences our ranking came from ***


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Professor Glendon on "Today's University Students"

Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon prepared this address on "Today's University Students" for an International Youth Forum, held near Rome this week. The entire speech is excellent, if you have reading time. Otherwise, consider the excerpt below. Professor Glendon was speaking to Catholic students, but I think you'll agree that the wisdom of her comments transcends denominations:

[...]

But if those are your hopes, you are apt to be disappointed in many of today's universities. For universities themselves seem to be losing their sense of purpose and meaning. As a young woman from the United States put it in her answer to my questionnaire: "If I could sum up what has been drilled into my generation's minds in one word, that word would be 'tolerance.' While this has resulted in us being pretty nice people, it has also produced in my opinion a generation that has little concept of objective morality or truth. We are equipped with few guidelines for judging right and wrong."

A young woman who teaches in Kenya wrote that university students there "need role models and something to believe in and they search for these desperately. There is a constant clash between how their parents brought them up and what society is offering them." Sad to say, the postmodern university seems even to be losing its vaunted regard for tolerance of diverse opinions -- at least where religiously grounded moral viewpoints are concerned, and especially if those viewpoints are Christian.

Thus we find ourselves in a curious situation where all too many of the most highly educated men and women in history have a religious formation that remains at a rather primitive level. Have you noticed how many well-educated Catholics seem to be going through life with a kindergarten level apprehension of their own faith? How many of us, for example, have spent as much time deepening our knowledge of the faith as we have on learning to use computers!

I must admit that when I read in the Holy Father's letters to the laity that we are supposed to fearlessly "put out into the deep," I can't help thinking there should be a footnote to the effect that: "Be not afraid" doesn't mean "Be not prepared." When Our Lord told the apostles to put out into the deep, he surely didn't expect them to set out in leaky boats. When he told them to put down their nets, he didn't expect those nets to be full of holes!

This brings me to the most important point I wish to make today: I want to suggest to you that poor formation represents a special danger in a society like ours where education in other areas is so advanced. In contemporary society, if religious formation does not come up to the general level of secular education, we are going to run into trouble defending our beliefs -- even to ourselves. We are going to feel helpless when we come up against the secularism and relativism that are so pervasive in our culture and in the university. We are going to be tongue-tied when our faith comes under unjust attack.

When that happens, many young Catholics drift away from the faith. Countless young men and women today have had an experience in the university comparable to that which caused the great social theorist Alexis de Tocqueville to lose his faith 200 years ago at the height of the Enlightenment. All through his childhood, Tocqueville had been tutored by a pious old priest who had been trained in a simpler era. Then, at the age of 16, he came upon the works of Descartes, Rousseau and Voltaire. Here is how he described that encounter in a letter to a friend many years later:

"I don't know if I've ever told you about an incident in my youth that marked me deeply for the rest of my life; how I was prey to an insatiable curiosity whose only available satisfaction was a large library of books. ... Until that time my life had passed enveloped in a faith that hadn't even allowed doubt to enter. ... Then doubt ... hurt led in with an incredible violence. ... All of a sudden I experienced the sensation people talk about who have been through an earthquake when the ground shakes under their feet, as do the walls around them, the ceilings over their heads, the furniture beneath their hand, all of nature before their eyes. I was seized by the blackest melancholy and then by an extreme disgust with life, though I knew nothing of life. And I was almost prostrated by agitation and terror at the sight of the road that remained for me to travel in this world."

What drew him out of that state, he told his friend, were worldly pleasures to which he abandoned himself for a time. But his letters testify to a lifelong sadness at his incapacity for belief. How many young Catholics have fallen into those same pitfalls when they had to make the difficult transition from their childhood faith to a mature Christianity. Tocqueville at least was confounded by some of the greatest minds in the Western tradition. But many of our contemporaries are not even equipped to deal with simplistic versions of relativism and skepticism!

Some young men and women, like Tocqueville, may spend their whole lives in a kind of melancholy yearning. Others may start to keep their spiritual lives completely private, in a separate compartment sealed off from the rest of their lives. Still others imitate the chameleon, that little lizard who changes his color to blend in with his surroundings. When parts of their Christian heritage don't fit with the spirit of the age, the chameleon just erases them.

How many of these lost searchers, I wonder, might have held their heads high as unapologetic Catholics if somewhere along the way they had become acquainted with our Church's great intellectual tradition and her rich treasure house of social teachings?

Today, in the age of John Paul II, there are really no good excuses for ignoring the intellectual heritage that provides us with resources to meet the challenges of modernity. No Catholic who takes the trouble to tap into that heritage has to stand tongue-tied in the face of alleged conflicts between faith and reason or religion and science.

In "Novo Millennio Ineunte," the Holy Father has a message that is highly relevant to the topic of this conference on "Witnessing to Christ in the University."

"For Christian witness to be effective," he writes, "it is important that special efforts be made to explain properly the reasons for the Church's position, stressing that it is not a case of imposing on non-believers a vision based on faith, but of interpreting and defending the values rooted in the very nature of the human person" (51).

Three implications of those wise words need to be spelled out:

First, those of us who live in pluralistic societies have to be able to give our reasons in terms that are intelligible to all men and women of good will, just as St. Paul had to be "a Jew to the Jews, and a Greek to the [pagan] Greeks." Fortunately, we have great models of how to do that in Catholic social teaching, and in the writings of John Paul II.

Second, we who labor in the intellectual apostolate need to keep our intellectual tradition abreast of the best human and natural science of our times, just as St. Thomas Aquinas did in his day.

And third, because we live in a time when our Church is under relentless attack, we need to be equipped to defend her. That does not mean we have to react to every insult no matter how slight. But we do need to learn to have and to show a decent amount of pride in who we are.

There is nothing wrong with taking pride in our Church's intellectual tradition -- a tradition that predates and outshines the impoverished secularism that is stifling thought in many leading universities. There is nothing wrong with taking pride in our Church's record as the world's foremost institutional voice opposing aggressive population control, abortion, euthanasia, and draconian measures against migrants and the poor.

At a time, and in a culture, where Christianity is under assault from many directions, Catholics do a great disservice when they do not contest the myth that the history of Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular is a history of patriarchy, worldliness, persecution, or exclusion of people or ideas.



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Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Weak? Yes, But...

....we still made the How Appealing side bar listing of "Even More Blogs". Does that mean we can claim that our blog is "nationally recognized"?


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Weak

Yes, D-Rock, the Blog has indeed fallen on hard times. I saw the Corner piece on Dodd's over-the-top statement ... almost posted some thoughts on it ... and then thought, naahh, D-Rock lives in the Corner -- and who else reads the blog these days?

Now for a completely unrelated topic....

I've come to the conclusion that all the bitching and moaning about how "issue" flyers "dumb down the debate in the law school" is a bunch of baloney. What debate? What "spirited, high-level, intellectual discourse"?

Where has all of this P.C., give no offense, be civil, all opinions are of equal merit, la dee dah nonsense gotten us? To welding school, that's where. Our student body strikes me as no more seriously engaged with the great issues of society, culture, and politics, than what you would find at a manual trade school.

My theory is that the problem isn't with our student body per se, but rather with the focus (or lack thereof) of our educational institution as a whole -- which of course takes its direction from the administration and faculty.

This really harkens back to my earlier post when I said that I've never really thought of our school as a Top 25 program. Top 25 in my mind has more to do with the people you turn out than with the people you bring in. With all due respect to Tom Sansonetti, I don't believe that W&L provides squat beyond adequate legal training these days. An obstensibly Top 25 program should do much more.

For example, my undergrad alma mater's mission was (in part) to "educate, train, and inspire [...] so that each graduate is a [...] leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country; professional growth throughout a career [...] and a lifetime of selfless service to the nation." Right there I think you have a model mission for a truly premier law school. Of course, what mattered much more than the mission "on paper" was the mission "as lived." USMA lives this mission.

W&L strikes me as pathetic by comparison. The school has an admirable heritage of honor and gentlemanly conduct, but the legacy of the dead guys -- whom the majority bash for being slaveholders anyway -- just doesn't cut it. To reprise the USMA comparison, Grant, Pershing, and McArthur are great for historical bragging rights -- but if the school wasn't still cranking out Norman Schwartzkopfs, Mike Krzyzewskis, and Jim Nicholsons (the former RNC chair, not the actor), I would start to wonder whether the institution had lost its way.

W&L clearly has. It encourages academic proficiency (I won't even go so far as to say "academic excellence"), increasing racial diversity, and "getting along." Perhaps I've just missed the overarching noble goal of our nationally-recognized institution. If so, I trust one of our 3 remaining bloggers will clue me in.


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Chris Dodd's remarks

Well, I guess that only 3 people read this anymore...and I assume that the Consiglieri has already seen this referenced on NRO...so I guess I'm posting to you, that other reader.

Chris Dodd on the celebration of Byrd's 17,000th vote:
"It has often been said that the man and the moment come together. I do not think it is an exaggeration at all to say to my friend from West Virginia that he would have been a great senator at any moment. Some were right for the time. Robert C. Byrd, in my view, would have been right at any time," said Senator Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.

So now the media is going to go on full offense mode against Dodd, right? If we're to take his statement literally, it means that Byrd would have been right for the time even when he was a member of the KKK.

Now, to be honest, I don't impute ill motives to Dodd on this point, even if he was a major apologist for communists in South America in the 80s, but it would be nice to see the media apply the same standard they applied to Trent Lott when he praised Strom Thurmond.

Hmmm...I guess it doesn't work that way though, does it? To put it in legal terms, every time a man with an "R" next to his name opens his mouth, the comment is subject to strict scrutiny (perhaps ultra strict scrutiny)...but if you have a "D" next to your name, your comment gets the rational (or perhaps irrational) basis test.


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Sheer Brilliance

If you're anything like me, you check out the forums at democraticunderground.com from time to time. Why? To lose whatever scintilla of faith in humanity that you might have left.

I just came across a remarkable suggestion in a thread discussing partial birth abortion and a recent government witness. The witness was a doctor testifying that. according to his research, a fetus at 20 weeks could feel pain. Naturally, this witness was viewed by most of the DUers as a crazy right wing threat to the fundamental human right to have profligate sex with no consequences. But then...the brilliance...one poster had a simple solution. If a fetus can feel pain, we'll just simply anaesthetize the fetus before we abort it. Something tells me he's missing the broader point.

And some people think that liberals live on another planet...where do they get that idea?


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Shout out

I saw the ACS "shout out" to the Fed Soc. Apparently, we don't care about how the law "affects people's lives." I care about how the law affects my life and my family's lives. Those are people. Further, why should we care about how it affects their lives? And, which people's lives should we be more concerned with? Should we worry about Steve Johnson's life or maybe John Smith's? Maybe we should draw up personalized statutes for every person in the US. That way we could tailor laws that will affect each person's life in a positive way. You got to hand it to ACS. They are genuises.


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Pepperdine Announcement

W&L Law Student Named Chair of Constitutional Law at Pepperdine Law School

Full story here.


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Our on campus opposition

Did anyone see the shoutout to the FedSoc in the law notices:

ACS event

The American Constitution Society will be holding its final meeting of
the year at 12:00 on Wednesday April 7th in classroom H. We'll be
discussing next years events and officers.

For those who don't know, the ACS is the liberal counterpart to the
Federalist Society. According to our mission statement, "We seek to
counter the dominant vision of American law today, a narrow conservative
vision that lacks appropriate regard for the ways in which the law
affects people's lives."


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if The Consiglieri wants to break news. . .

. . . he should report that this weekend, "Face" and "J-Rad" were named editors of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.


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Monday, April 05, 2004

Bias part 2

Reminded me of an older story...i'll give you the short version.

One day, G.W. Bush is out fishing with his dad. The wind picks up and blows the elder man's hat off. His father asks G.W. to turn the boat around so that he might retrieve his hat. W simply responds, "I'll handle it." With those few words, W steps out of the boat and walks across the surface of the water. He retrieves the hat and brings it back to the boat. Unbeknownst to him, a NY Times reporter observed the whole incident. W awoke the next day to the following headline: "Bush Can't Swim"


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Bias

...forwarded from a liberal friend.

BOY WINS FIGHT WITH DOG

Two boys in Boston were playing basketball when one of them was attacked by a rabid Rottweiler. Thinking quickly, the other boy ripped a board off a nearby fence, wedged it into the dog's collar and twisted it, breaking the dog's neck. A newspaper reporter from the Boston Herald witnessed the incident and rushed over to interview the boy.

The reporter began entering data into his laptop, beginning with the headline: "Brave Young Celtics Fan Saves Friend From Jaws Of Vicious Animal."

"Excuse me, but I'm not a Celtics fan," the little hero interjected.

"Sorry," replied the reporter. "But since we're in Boston, Mass, I just assumed you were."

Hitting the delete key, the reporter begins again, "John Kerry Fan rescues Friend From Horrific Dog Attack."

"But I'm not a Kerry fan either," the boy responds.

The reporter says, "I assumed everybody in this state was either for the Celtics or Kerry or Kennedy. What team or person do you support?"

"I'm a Houston Rockets fan and I really like George W. Bush," the boy says.

Hitting the delete key, the reporter begins again:

"Arrogant, Conservative Brat Kills Beloved Family Pet."


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Sunday, April 04, 2004

Where do I begin?

Alas, it's been noted that we've declined below the top 20. As any Yankee fan knows, if Steinbrenner were running the operation here, heads would be rolling.

But could we really be a "conservative" law school and still maintain a high ranking? Wouldn't all the employers run screaming? Yeah, I guess so...just like they run screaming from U. Chicago's law and econ focus...not exactly a left wing perspective.

So, allow me to play Richard Clarke here for a moment (only I plan on being a bit more consistent, a bit less egotistical, and a whole lot less full of crap).

Our problems:
1. employment...perhaps such helpful career advice as "you need to find your voice in your cover letter...you know, give the employer an appealing snapshot of who you are and why they should hire you" isn't terribly constructive
2. bar passage rate...I have a hunch that we could be a bit more selective on our admissions...but more importantly, maybe it would help if more than 1/3 to 1/2 (given the year) of our students learned property law

A few bonehead errors:
hmmm...perhaps the huge size of the second year class wasn't such a good idea in retrospect, considering that it hurt our faculty to student ratio
hmmm...perhaps the administration could find better things to do with their time rather than trying to foist upon a (largely) unwilling SBA a referendum on whether we should allow smoking outdoors around the law school...or making sure that their own notions of "civility" aren't offended

An idea for reform:
How about we go back to being a small law school that rigorously trains our students to be the best possible lawyers instead of filling our curriculum with courses on how to save the world. We could be the VMI or Citadel of law schools. Most folks that have seen the Paper Chase probably are thankful that our law school experience wasn't anything like the experience of those folks at HLS in that day...I'm not...bring on the pain.

My prediction:
These slides are hard to stop absent radical reform. I suspect that alums will not be pleased and donations may just show it. As for myself...I'll consider donating when the powers that be get their acts in gear and stop trying to turn W&L into a politically correct paradise of social activism and social engineering.

Teach law, teach it well, and make any attorney facing someone with W&L on their resume quiver with fear, dammit!


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Friday, April 02, 2004

What color is your parachute?

Well, W&L is down to "23" in US News this year. I, for one, am not optimistic for a turn-around....but then again, I wouldn't have ranked us in the "Top 25" in the first place. Notre Dame now scores ahead of us, and we're barely ahead of William & Mary, which has broken into the 20s.

But mark my words, George Mason will be the #2 law school in VA within the next 10 years. The school has only been around for about 30 years, moved into the top tier in 2002, and is already at 38 in US News (moving up 10 spots in two years). If you go by the educational quality rankings, they already rank ahead of us.

I'm less sure about who #3 will be ... but W&M certainly has a better recent historical trend than we do.

As always, my big question for the administration is why they think our niche for making this school successful is trying to sell Lexington as some sort of Greenwich Village in the VA mountains. It just doesn't work. W&L is a shoe-in to successfully promote itself as THE conservative, country law school, steeped in tradition, gentlemanly conduct, honor, government service, American pie, and wrapped in the flag.

Of course our current faculty and administration would rather eat crow than see the school become successful by those means....


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Thursday, April 01, 2004

Take that, Enviro-weenies

AK. Gov. Frank Murkowski, frustrated with the extreme environmental movement's success in blocking ANWR drilling, has just pledged to open more drilling lease sales in state waters just off the ANWR coast. Story here.


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As predicted, Specter displays his shamelessness

A while back, I posted on the "Shameless Eleven," those Senators that voted to kill "Laci and Conner's Law" in an amendment and then turned around and voted for it after their efforts had failed. NRO now reports that Specter is running radio ads on Christian radio stations touting his support for the law. How shameless...how predictably Specter.


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