Saturday, July 31, 2010


Graduation Photos IV: Three Important People

Three guys who have been and will continue to be very important to Baylor Law School. The President, the custodian, and the teacher-- we need them all.

[click on any of these photos to enlarge them]


Graduation Photos III: The Students (Part B)

Ronnie, Nick, Katie, and Jon-- all of whom I loved having in my classes.


Graduation Photos II: The students (part A)

Here I am with three guys who were a great help to me: Matt Fass, Peter Pope, and Warren Wise.


Graduation Photos I: The Scene

The graduation speaker was Federal Judge/Proud Dad Ed Kinkeade, who gave a wonderful speech.



The crack/powder change must be real news if it made The Onion.


Death Penalty Chart

This was drawn from an article in The Economist, which was aptly described by Sentencing Uber-blogger Doug Berman.

What to make of this? How did we fall behind China, Iraq, and Iran?

Friday, July 30, 2010


Haiku Friday: Celebration!

The big news for MY week was the House passage of the Fair Sentencing Act, which will now be signed by the president. As many of you know, I have worked on this issue for many years, an effort that has included several cases in the courts of appeal, one in the Supreme Court, trying to rally support at Harvard, and writing academic articles. I also have an op-ed in this morning's Dallas Morning News, but that's after the fact.

Last night, with perfect if unplanned timing given the passage of the bill, I spoke about crack/powder to the Republicans of Greater Dallas at the invitation of one of my favorite former students, Emanuela Prister. That was a form of marking the day, but not quite enough...

How to celebrate? Should I sip Bacardi like it's my birfday? Should I play with fireworks? Let's haiku today about celebrations...

Here is mine:

What a week it was!
The place to find me tonight-
George's bar, Waco.

Now it is your turn... don't worry about syllable counts this week, we're going free-form. Just let your freak flag fly with three short lines...

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Political Mayhem Thursday: Foreign threats

This week, I'd like to pose s a simple question. What external power (a nation, movement, or group) poses the greatest threat to U.S. security? Here are some popular choices:

Radical Islam
Resurgent Russia
Illegal immigration

I will take some comments before chiming in myself...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


UPDATE: Crack/powder bill passes!

In what must be a good omen for Baylor football (see the post below), the House of representatives passed a bill drastically lowering the mandatory minimums for crack cocaine under federal law. It was, significantly, the first time a mandatory minimum for narcotics has been reduced since 1971.

You can read more here.


Lookin' Good for Baylor Football!

I'll admit it-- I'm a perpetual optimist. I even think that the crack/powder bill will pass the House this week, before Congress's summer recess.

But it takes a REAL optimist to think Baylor football is going to make a bowl game, and that's my prediction. Robert Griffin is back. The offensive line looks decent. And... check out the schedule:

09/04/10 vs. Sam Houston State Waco, Texas 6:00 p.m. CT
09/11/10 vs. Buffalo (PW) TV Waco, Texas 6:00 p.m. CT
09/18/10 at TCU TV Fort Worth, Texas 3:30 p.m. CT
09/25/10 at Rice TV Houston, Texas 7:00 p.m. CT
10/02/10 vs. Kansas * Waco, Texas TBA
10/09/10 vs. Texas Tech * Dallas, Texas TBA
10/16/10 at Colorado * Boulder, Colo. TBA
10/23/10 vs. Kansas State (HC) * Waco, Texas TBA
10/30/10 at Texas * Austin, Texas TBA
11/06/10 at Oklahoma State * Stillwater, Okla. TBA
11/13/10 vs. Texas A&M * Waco, Texas TBA
11/20/10 vs. Oklahoma * Waco, Texas TBA

As I figure it, there is a real chance at Baylor being 7-1 going into the Texas game. That 5-game stretch to end the season is a bear, but... up until then, the TCU game is the only one I see us most likely losing. Even if they start out 6-2, they still would have a chance to beat A & M at home to end up 7-5. Sic 'em!

Of course, the game to see this year in the Big 12 would be Texas/ Nebraska...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


The Road Trip

Last week, I went out to El Paso and Alpine with IPLawGuy. It was awesome.

IPLawGuy and I were friends in college 28 years ago, which is hard to believe. I'd say we're both much different now, but that's not really true.

Here are some photos, which feature the road, the cd that IPLG bought for some reason, and some other stuff.

By the way... the best of Norman Greenbaum is pretty bad:

We went back to the gallery in Marfa (the Ayn Foundation) described in chapter 18 of my book, and I, uh, gave them a book:

I love the Alpine train station...


The best sign ever

From my trip to Alpine with IPLawGuy:

Monday, July 26, 2010


The best part of Baylor

As I leave Baylor, there is one thing I am certain of: The best part of the law school, what makes it unique and good, is the students. They are incredibly hard working, resourceful, complex, and intelligent. My greatest honor here was to teach them, and I am incredibly proud of their accomplishments. There is not a thing, not a single thing, that I was able to accomplish in the past ten years of work without their help.

For example, take these two guys, Sid Earnheart and Matt Fass. They did most of the work on the commutation project, which has a new aspect I will discuss in the future. Their work was exemplary. There is a chance, a chance, that their work may change an important part of the law and open up new possibilities. With both of them, they thought of things I did not and made contacts I would have hesitated to cultivate.

People like Sid and Matt-- they are what Baylor Law is about. Not me. Not any other professor, or someone with a statue in the hall. We teachers and administrators humble ourselves when we say that (if we dare to), but voicing a humbling truth is always worthwhile.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


New to the Razor: Celebrity News!

I've been busy grilling salmon for friends this evening, but the world of celebrity news didn't slow down a bit! I guess it is finally time to bust down the turtle fence between "celebrity news" and "real news" here at the Razor--

Jennifer Aniston Adopts 33-Year-Old Boyfriend From Africa


Sunday Reflection: The flawed follower

Today was my last Sunday at 7th and James Church here in Waco. It was messy and sad and goofy and perfect.

One of the things I love most about 7th is that I can be (and really must be) a follower there. Because the members of that congregation are so smart and giving, I was always able to be the learner, the student, the follower-- a role I very much need in my life. I rarely participated in the Sunday service, but today was different.

I was asked to read from the first Chapter of Hosea, in the Old Testament. It is perhaps the worst passage in the whole Bible to read out loud in front of a crowd:

2 When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, "Go, take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD." 3 So he went and took Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. 4 And the LORD said to him, "Name him Jezreel; for in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. 5 On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel." 6 She conceived again and bore a daughter. Then the LORD said to him, "Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have pity on the house of Israel or forgive them. 7 But I will have pity on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the LORD their God; I will not save them by bow, or by sword, or by war, or by horses, or by horsemen." 8 When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. 9 Then the LORD said, "Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not my people and I am not your God."

Crikeys! Really? Here are some problems with reading this aloud:

1) The whoring whore of whoredome. I really have no desire to have anything to do with whoring whores of whoredom, in Waco or anywhere else. I suspect that they are the type I wrote about earlier this week.

2) Talk about grim! Who names their kids "Punishment," "No pity," and "You are not my people?"

3) God concludes by telling Israel "You are not my people, and I am not your God." What do we make of that? It can't be good.

In fact, I prefaced this reading by saying, "And now a reading from the Book of Hosea, which I did not personally choose." I didn't want people to tag me with some kind of interest in the rejection of Israel and the whoring whores of whoredom.

So, here's the rub: I messed it up (I'm not even a very good leader when I get the chance). I was supposed to read Hosea 1:2-10, but for some reason I stopped after verse 9. I did not read verse 10, which changes everything:

10 Yet the number of the people of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which can be neither measured nor numbered; and in the place where it was said to them, "You are not my people," it shall be said to them, "Children of the living God."

Wow. Boy, did I mess that one up. As Burt Burleson explained in his warm, challenging, and insightful sermon, the story is about the connection between judgment and mercy. God has standards; Israel had failed them. They were not a chosen people at that time, having been judged. Still, what were they? They were "Children of the living God." Children, all of us, who are judged and watched and loved and forgiven, whole in a way that mere chosen-ness can never provide. There is God who watches and condemns and yet He loves.

And I... I am a flawed follower, the mirror image of a perfect leader. Yet in my imperfections perhaps I have a role in God's plan; perhaps my humbling failure made Burt's sermon that much better, and set in counter-point all the more starkly the message of hope held out in Hosea 1:10.

Seventh and James gave me many things, and one was a chance to be flawed and messy, even judged, yet loved and valued. Can there be a better thing in a church? To be so like Christ?

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Great money making scheme!

Some of you may have been to Medieval Times (I haven't, but I have heard a lot about it). At MT, you sit around an arena, eat gobs of food with your hands, and then watch a jousting match between some knights representing different countries. The spectators are assign to cheer for one knight or another.

How about we do the same thing, only the spectators pick a Supreme Court justice, and then they battle it out? I would go to that...

Friday, July 23, 2010


Haiku Friday: Encounters with strangers

[click on the photo to enlarge it]

I have a post up right now at the Huffington Post about an unusual encounter with a stranger. You can read it here.

People meeting for the first time has become a theme with me lately. On Thursday night, there was an epic event in Razor history-- all of my primary conservative commentators got together and met one another, some for the first time. That's right; IPLawGuy, the Waco Farmer, Woody, and RRL all were in a small circle at Scruffy's in Waco, giving me a hard time. It was great.

Now I am in Alpine, Texas, one of my favorite places in the world. I am a stranger here, out of my element, and I love that.

So, let's haiku about being a stranger or meeting a stranger. You all have a story... let's hear it.

Here is mine (which is about Thursday night):

Old souls together
Telling stories they all know
And yet they just met.

Now it is your turn. It can be a story about a romantic interest, a friend, the check-out person at Target, whatever....

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Political Mayhem Thursday: The Fictional Ronald Reagan

As I have explained before here, I have had to eat some crow regarding Ronald Reagan. When he was president (and I was pretty young), I really was not a fan. I thought he wasn't very smart, that he provoked war, and that his ideas were wrong. Looking back, much of my view was wrong. He was smart, and his letters reveal that. He avoided war successfully, in a way his Republican successors did not. Finally, I came to embrace the view he seemed to hold most dear, which is that a small federal government is best.

That said, I am baffled by the cult of Reagan that has cropped up. It seems that modern Republicans think he was flatly anti-spending, anti-immigrant, that he always cut taxes, and that he never did anything with Democrats. All of this is wrong. Reagan accomplished some great things, but each one he did by violating at least one of those maxims. In short, Reagan was deeply pragmatic, and this was one key to his success. He actually accomplished things through legislation, something few modern Republicans can claim (unless belittling Democrats or less-conservative Republicans counts as an accomplishment).

Let's explore the reality and myth:

Myth: Reagan always cut taxes.
Truth: Ronald Reagan did initiate the biggest tax cut in history, and we are probably all better off for that. However, he also signed the biggest tax INCREASE in history (in 1982), and it was necessary at the time to avoid creating deficits. He also raised taxes significantly in 1983 (a gas tax and payroll tax) and 1984 (by cutting deductions).

Myth: Reagan was against big-government spending.
Truth: Ronald Reagan's biggest accomplishment in many minds was the decline of the Soviet Union as a threat to our security. However, he used one primary tool to do this: big-government spending. He spent so much on the military that the Soviets overextended themselves. It worked, it may have been brilliant, but it was nothing less than spending huge amounts of tax dollars to accomplish a goal.

Myth: Reagan created a smaller federal government and restrained debt.
Truth: President Reagan pledged to eliminate two federal cabinet positions (with the associated bureaucracies), but instead added one (for Veterans Affairs). The national debt tripled in his terms, and the US went from being the the world's largest creditor to the biggest debtor.

Myth: Reagan was aggressive in the use of force abroad.
Truth: While President Reagan TALKED a lot about being willing to use force, he did not actually do it. There were no real wars under his watch, despite the increase in arms. Most notably, when the U.S. embassy and then a Marine barracks in Beirut were bombed by terrorists, he did not react at all-- in fact, he pulled out of that area, acknowledging that retribution would not be worth the cost in civilian life.

Myth: Reagan was tough on illegal immigrants.
Truth: In fact, Ronald Reagan granted amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants in 1986. Amnesty. Go figure.

Ronald Reagan, sadly, is becoming an icon that does not represent the admirable and pragmatic man he was. Heck, the people who idolize him now would view parts of his record (huge spending increases, amnesty for illegal immigrants, adding cabinet positions, pulling out when we are attacked) as the worst kind of liberalism.

The more I learn, the more I admire Ronald Reagan. It saddens me that he did not live out his belief in smaller government, but I do see a worthwhile pragmatism in what he did. However, the Reagan who actually existed does not seem to be the person held up by the contemporary right, and that is doubly sad, because there is probably more to admire in the truth about Reagan than there is in the myth. The truth is full and human and complex and redemptive, if we choose to see it clearly.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Alico Building purchased by The Canadians!

In what can only be seen as a blow to American pride, Waco's own Alico Skyscraper has been purchased by Canadians. The odd spectre of touque-wearing, beaver-trapping, plaid shirt enthusiasts prancing down Austin Avenue with their reindeer will soon be something we all will have to get used to. Well, except me. I'm moving.

The building is to be renamed the Gretzky Tower, and will be a center for the Canadian Broadcast Channel (CBC), which has purchased the remaining NBC stations in Texas.

The Alico Building is not the Canadian's only acquisition, either. They have also bought up large buildings in Tyler, Abilene, Port Arthur, and Frankston. Some analysts believe that this buy-up is motivated by the effects of global warming. Many of the larger building in Canada itself, including major government buildings, are built out of ice blocks and are rapidly melting. Three years ago, in fact, the Montreal Expos were forced to move because large portions of their stadium had gone liquid.

As this report reveals, even Canada's Parliament Buidling (known as the "National Igloo") is in danger:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Giving up on a failure

Yesterday, I listened to a radio program on podcast about giving up on someone (this was NPR, of course-- nothing else would cover such a "story"). Something about it hit me in a deep and emotional way.

The voices themselves, their timbre and pitch, were compelling. A woman talked about leaving the house she shared with an alcoholic mother; a man told the sad story of loving a woman who lied and lied and lied about the many affairs she was having with people in her industry at conventions. Each of them were glad to have broken things off, and used the same word: freedom. It seemed like they did not realize the shackles that were on them until they cast them off. Even with that aspect of liberation, there was a mournful part of each voice, the reflection of a sad death.

Still, through those deaths come rebirth, and it is only by cutting the chain that these people became free. Those who hurt them could have ceased their action and didn't, and probably never would. The saddest thing of all is that it was clear that the people in the story who were hurt and left had been abused through their best and most Christian trait: The ability to love and forgive. To the abusers, these traits were taken as an invitation for further abuse and lies. I think there is a circle deep in hell for those who use others' forgiveness as an opportunity to hurt them.

I'm sure many of you have had to do this-- end a relationship that was hurting you. How did you do it? What pain did it bring? What freedom?

Monday, July 19, 2010


The most over-the-top admissions video ever...

Will it actually become parody? Watch and see...


The Amateur Journalist

A few weeks ago, I got a very intriguing invitation-- to interview Ken Starr, the new Baylor President, for a Q & A to appear in Wacoan Magazine.

I conducted the interview last Thursday, and it was fascinating. It reaffirmed my confidence that Judge Starr was an excellent choice for president. I will post a link once the piece becomes available on-line.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Sunday Reflection: The Unsettled Church

The air conditioner in the sanctuary at 7th and James has been broken this week. Since it is about 100 degrees here in Texas, we had services in the social hall instead of in our comfortable pews this morning. The smallish room was jammed with folding chairs, the choir was tucked into a corner, and an upright piano took the place of the organ. Nothing was in its normal place.

It was GREAT. There was not an empty seat, giving the service an intimacy and energy that I loved. Burt Burleson, our interim minister, gave a wonderful and funny sermon and everyone was engaged. On the last hymn, we sang loud and strong.

Why did this misfortune turn out to be a blessing?

Faith, especially Christianity, is unsettling-- it unsettles the values of the larger world, of our own selfish dreams, of the call of money and power. Perhaps the comfort of repetition is in tension with that basic nature of the faith, and a physical dislocation, a mess, brings us closer to that core of the faith. God, after all, is there nonetheless, and perhaps easier to see when the sightlines are fresh.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Sadly, I can afford none of this.

[click on the photo to enlarge it]

Friday, July 16, 2010


Haiku Friday: Road trip!

Summer is for road trips, and I wish I was on one right now-- headed north a bit, west, whatever. There is great freedom on the road.

Let's haiku about that today. It can be about a trip you took, or just one you dream of.

Here is mine:

I drove slow and young
Up in the gentle green mountains
Sweet Virginia breeze.

Now it is your turn. Drive it!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Political Mayhem Thursday: The Stimulus

This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to hear economics expert Mike Kamperman talk about the economic stimulus packages employed by the Bush and Obama administrations, which collectively included the bank bailout (TARP), the auto company bail-outs, the printing of new money, the home buyers' tax credit, and the take-over of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Mike's point was simple-- that the stimulus was not enough. His arguments made sense, though my own opinion has been that it would have been better to let the weaker car companies and banks die of natural causes.

With a bit of perspective now available, was all this necessary? Is the public right to be concerned with the debt incurred?

[Check out some of Lane's thoughts on this over at his blog]

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Today's activity

This morning I am giving a talk at the Methodist Children's Home here in Waco. I regret to say that this is the first time I have been there in my ten years here in Waco.

This will be my third presentation in a year to social workers, a group of people I am deeply indebted to for doing a job I am not capable of. They are the people who deal with the worst bureaucracies, who care for the dying, who help struggling children, and who help those who cannot help themselves in an amazing variety of ways. They are people with big hearts, and often I find they are people who live much closer to the teachings of Christ than I do.

I'm not sure why it is, but many of the people and places I most admire in Waco are making themselves known in these last few weeks.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Looking for a catchphrase

For the fall semester (man, it feels good to say that instead of referring to "quarters!"), I'm thinking of developing a catchphrase.

I am open to suggestions.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Disco Demolition!

IPLawGuy reminded me that this is the 31-year anniversary of, well, this:


Blog notes

1) The former Jessica Phelps has morphed into Jessica Stafford (the photo above is one I took at their wedding) and graduated from law school while dumping her old blog and adding a new one. Thus, "Female Parts" is off of my Baylor blogroll, and "The Girl Who Ate Houston" is added to the Baylor alum blogroll.

2) I am about to cull some deadwood from the blogroll, so if you have let your blog go for a while, this is a good time to post! Peter Pope over at Magnificent Vista did so today, with this hilarious post about Facebook.

3) Bob and Mary Darden are out of town for a while (and apparently away from the internet). When I miss them, I visit Bob's last post, which is deep and sad and reminds me of the Good Blues.


Slow, long, and confusing

I watched the final of the World Cup yesterday, in which Spain beat the Dutch after 120 minutes of almost event-free "action." I like playing soccer, I enjoyed some of the games in this tournament, but boy was the final boring!

It was a poorly-timed boring game, too, for the world-wide audience of occasional fans who might be ripe for a more intense attachment to the sport.

Or... am I missing something?

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Sunday Reflection: Tragedy and God

When I talk to people about faith, I often find that the person I am talking to has fallen away from faith because of a tragic event in their life. Perhaps a parent died, or a child, or their own life was stricken with illness or misfortune, and they can't believe in a God that would allow this to happen. Some argue that nearly the entire body of Jews fell away from faith in some way after the Holocaust, an almost unimaginable tragedy.

It is probably the most important question of faith to many: How could a loving God allow such tragedies to happen?

It is one of the many questions of faith for which my best answer is "I don't know." By that, I don't mean that I have thought about it and not come up with a good answer. Actually, I have thought about it and come up with a lot of good answers-- ie, "God teaches us through tragedy." However, I don't know if that is God's answer. More powerfully, I don't think I could ever claim to know God's answer to that question. I am in the humbling position of being in relationship to a God I believe to be incomparably powerful and complex, and what he does is necessarily beyond my comprehension but for revealed truth. Because, as a Baptist, I do not believe that truth is revealed through a church hierarchy, I rely on the Gospels above all else, and they provide no clear answer to this question.

In other words, there is a God. I am not God. I cannot imagine God's logic but for revealed truth, and I do not see an answer to this question in revealed truth.

And thus, sadly, I tell those suffering tragedy that I just don't know why God would allow that tragedy to happen. It is a humbling moment, and one in which I so wish I could honestly say something else.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Stop, Speed Racer, Stop!

Speed Racer, one of the worst cartoons of all time, was a Saturday-morning favorite for me and my brother.

That is, until it got banned. Both my parents walked in one morning, just as we were watching Racer X clumsily hit someone over the head with a wrench. My mother was appalled by the violence, while my dad was even more upset by the terrible animation.

Somehow, they both were right.

Are there even cartoons on TV on Saturday morning anymore?

Friday, July 09, 2010


Haiku Friday: What to do on the beach

I really, really, want to go to the beach. It's the middle of summer, and I'm still teaching, so it probably won't happen, but a guy can dream, right?

What to do, though, on the beach? Everyone has a theory. This week, let's put ours into haiku form.

Here is mine:

Warm sand, cool water
The sound of waves and laughter
I lie still, listen.

Now it is your turn...

Thursday, July 08, 2010


Political Mayhem Thursday: Big Government

It is no secret that I think that the federal government is too big, too expensive, and inefficient at tasks ranging from national defense to education. Our nation would be better off with a smaller national government in nearly all respects-- a smaller federal agriculture program, smaller military, smaller law enforcement apparatus, and smaller federal budget.

I also think that we should not be funneling tax money to the federal government and then back to the states in the form of block grants and other giveaways. Let states tax for their own needs, and reduce the federal tax burden in that way. We would all be better off.

Apparently, a lot of the Tea Party supporters believe the same thing I do in this respect, but every time I talk to one or see one on television, it seems like the conversation morphs quickly into crazytime-- they want to tell me how Obama is a Muslim, or there is a Democratic plot to destroy the country, or how we need to mandate school prayer. I know this is hardly a scientific poll, but it has been my experience.

Could it be that the "Tea Party" movement is suffering from a lack of focus? I wonder what others' perceptions have been.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


Hey! Something in Drug Interdiction Actually Worked!

Great news: Federal measures finally were wildly successful in controlling an illegal and dangerous narcotic. Meth labs seem to be down about 70% from just five years ago.

Here's what worked:

Meth is made using (in part) an over-the-counter cold remedy, pseudoephedrine. In 2006, federal law changed so that pseudoephedrine could no longer be sold that way-- buyers had to show ID at a pharmacy to get it (though no prescription was required). The result has been a huge decrease in meth labs. Sure, more pill-form meth is coming over from Mexico, but that is not produced in such a dangerous way, nor does it result in the same kind of wide-spread devastation of poor rural communities, and there is still a net decrease.

This confirms something I have been preaching for years: What works to stop narcotics trafficking are actions based on the economics behind the drug business. Making a key ingredient very hard to get works, much more than locking up all the small-time meth-makers did.

Of course, this victory was not won by the big-budget federal law enforcement narcotics apparatus, but by an administrative measure. There is a lesson there. If we take out parts of the business which are easily replaceable (mules, street dealers, etc.), it makes little difference. However, if we analyze the drug business the way as a business, and think how to shut that business down, we are more likely to succeed. By targeting the key people, materials, and funds that make the business work we can actually make a difference. It is time to learn this lesson.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Postage and handwriting

It looks like the cost of a stamp is going to rise, perhaps dramatically. I still think that mailing a letter is a great value-- 44 cents to anywhere in the U.S.!

Of course, few people write letters, which makes receiving a handwritten letter a special treat. (that said, no one wants a handwritten letter from me, since my handwriting is illegible).

Who would you write a letter to, or want to receive a letter from?


Ne mangez pas les chatons de dîner!

En Amérique, les pauvres gens mangent les chatons, malgré les protestations du président de la République, l'entraîneur Bobby Knight, et tous les Kilgore Rangerettes. Pas étonnant que cette nation des États-Unis n'est plus dans la Coupe du monde du football! Beaucoup de joueurs des États-Unis, j'ai lu, sont des mangeurs de chatons. C'est un problème pour tout le monde à regarder et dire: "États-Unis, vous ne devriez pas être mangeurs de chatons!"

Nous nous félicitons de ton.

Monday, July 05, 2010


4th on the 5th

Today is a holiday, but it doesn't seem quite right to celebrate the 4th on the 5th..

If we had a new holiday, what should it be?

I vote for "Redemption Day," on which we can all ask for forgiveness from those we have wronged.

Most of us (myself included) would need the day off to have any chance of doing that in one day.

Sunday, July 04, 2010


Sunday Reflection: God, Nation, and Grace

Yesterday morning, Baylor President Ken Starr gave a speech in front of my house. (Believe me, that sentence is not one I would have expected to be writing 15 years ago). By all reports, he and his wife Alice were very kind in attending the neighborhood's 4th of July parade, staying long after nearly everyone had left to talk to people in the community-- all while wearing a sport coat and tie as only a native Texan can in the heat of July.

Months ago, when President Starr was first hired, I was very happy to hear the news. He has a unique skill set that is perfect for Baylor. He didn't come at an easy time; on his first day, the Big 12 was crumbling and with it Baylor's stake to big-time athletics. With many others, however, President Starr worked to keep the Big 12 (in slightly smaller form) together, and that effort succeeded.

That hasn't been his greatest accomplishment, however. That feat has been quieter, but deeper. Uniformly, I have heard from people on all sides of various Baylor disputes that once they have met Ken Starr they come to have a genuine appreciation for him and to a belief in his work at Baylor. Many of these people seem surprised to find themselves saying this, but are happy that they can. In short, something seems to be healing here, and Ken Starr has a hand in it.

I'm not quite sure how this recipe works: Take one of the most controversial figures in one of the most divisive debacles in American history, add him to a too-often bitterly divided campus, and let simmer over the high heat of a Texas summer. What I do see is that it has worked, thus far, and something real and nourishing seems to be resulting.

Grace sometimes surprises us. Not only the grace of God, but the grace that we sometimes have for one another. I have seen many people here show grace to this new President, and have watched him graciously listen and engage with people who sometimes have probably been hostile. There is a long road ahead, but at least that journey has begun, and a journey that begins with grace carries with it the hope and light of the world.

Saturday, July 03, 2010


Please help me.

Part of my day tomorrow will be consumed by searching for vuvulzelas in Waco. Seriously, what could be better for the 4th of July than annoying bee noises?

Does anyone know where I can find some?

Places that do not have vuvuzelas:

Wally's Party Factory
Dollar General
Baylor Bookstore
That Weird Comic Book Place
Plastic Annoyance Gallery
Top China of Import Distributor Outlet
H.E.B. Grocery
Haddock n' Such (Hewitt location)
7th and James Baptist Church
Academy Sports
This n' That for Drunks


Bloggy bloggy bloggy

I'm struggling a bit trying to figure out how to deal with my move here on the blog. Maybe I should just ignore it, and focus on world, national, and legal events. It seems kind of self-indulgent around here already. However, I might also want to spend some time writing about where I am going from and where I am going to-- the people and things that have made Waco wonderful for me, and what I look forward to in Minnesota.

Also, should I continue the blog after I move?

What do you think?

Friday, July 02, 2010


Haiku Friday: Art

It's time again for Haiku Friday-- don't they seem to be coming faster now that we are in the heart of summer? For me, that means I am closer to leaving, a bittersweet feeling. It makes me think about the things that are eternal-- love, beauty, truth, the stories that (in different colors) pervade every culture.

Today, though, let's think about art.

If you could have any painting in your home, what would you choose?

Red predominates
Subtle gradations, maroon,
Picture of a heart.

Now it is your turn. Five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, five in the last...

Thursday, July 01, 2010


Oh, good! A message from Dr. Rachad Porn!

My latest favorite missive from somewhere in West Africa. Not surprisingly, this message from "Dr. Rachad Porn" was routed to my junk mailbox. I will let you all make the usual analysis...

Dear Sir/Madam,
Please kindly accept my apology for sending this unsolicited email to you, I believe you are a highly placed person considering the fact that I got your email from a human resource database of your country. I request you treat what I am about telling you with seriousness and confidentiality.
Well, I am Rachad Porn Esq., a solicitor. I was the personal attorney to Mr. Adams Victor James who used to work with a telecom company here in Thailand as a contract staff. On the 21st of Dec 2009, he died in his sleep. Before his death, I helped him deposit the sum of 264million Baht of the country money with a bank here, which is about 8, 0250 thousand united state dollars .

All I require now is your honest co-operation so that you can apply as his beneficiary and claim this deposit. The fund shall be shared into two equal halves between both of us. I guarantee that this will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of law. Should you be interested, write back with your name and phone number for me to give you details.
Thank you .
Rachad Porn (Esq)


Political Mayhem Thursday: The Kagan Hearings

It looks a near certainty that Elena Kagan has passed the test of her confirmation hearings, and will be confirmed to a seat on the Supreme Court. It's a fantastic accomplishment, and I agree with Ken Starr that she will be a fine justice.

Still, I was disappointed with the confirmation hearings. In 1995, Kagan herself wrote that such hearings should be truly substantive, and that prospective Justices should articulate their ideas on important issues. She was right. For a post that carries life tenure in such a high position, the Senate and public deserve a serious discussion of legal issues.

Sadly, her own performance reflected little real substance. She not only refused to talk about how she would have come down on cases that may in the future come before the Court, but on cases that the Court has already ruled. For example, the important Heller case, in which the Court first definitively held that there was an individual right to bear arms under the Second Amendment, is certainly one she was familiar with, but she refused to give her own view of the law in this area.

The whole thing reminded me of the most boring first-round World Cup games, where both teams were playing not to lose. Dean Kagan's first priority was to not give an answer that might inflame one side or the other, and she performed this task very well. Still, not scoring on your own goal is a low standard. We should expect more.

Here are this week's questions (you can answer one or all):

1) Would you vote to confirm Kagan if you were in the Senate?
2) Is the confirmation process flawed?
3) What did you think of Dean Kagan's performance?
4) What should President Obama look for if and when he gets to appoint another Justice?

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