Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Press Conference with a Pig (and a frog)


Wanna be a Dean?

I love my school. St. Thomas has been a fabulous place to work, and much of the reason for that is the groundwork laid by our Dean, Tom Mengler.

Tom always said that deans outlive their usefulness at about ten years, so it shouldn't have been a surprise when he announced his retirement, still on top of his game, at the cusp of ten years in office here (and that coming after 9 years as dean at Illinois).

This means, of course, that now we are looking for a dean. Interested? Check out the info here.

Monday, January 30, 2012


Now that's a sandwich!

I just had to stop at this Culver's in Mauston, Wisconsin yesterday. It should be noted that the town motto there is "What's Shakin'?"


Haiku winner: Micah!

Our winner this week, opining on the theme of the 100-Acre-Wood and its inhabitants, is Micah, who penned this entry:

What about Eeyore?
Cheney of the Wood... except
He can't hold a gun.

And now for the bio:

MICAH is a creation of cutting-edge computer scientists at the MIT artificial intelligence lab. Jealous of IBM's highly acclaimed "Watson" project (in which a computer was trained to win at the game show "Jeopardy"), the folks at MIT knew they had to come up with an answer, to show that they could create a similar computer able to deal with the complexities of human language and thought on its own terms.

That's where the MICAH ("Massachusett's Institute Computer Authored Haiku") project came in. Over four years, they were able to develop a prototype that now has reached the pinnacle of the haiku arts-- a Haiku Friday championship!

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Sunday Reflection: The Cross

There are two Craigs on this blog-- one of whom mentored me, and one of whom I like to imagine that I mentored. The former is Craig Anderson, who played a key role in the formation of what I find to be important, when I worked for him in Student Life. He wrote a beautiful piece in the Richmond Times-Dispatch yesterday, and this was at the core of it:

Every Sunday as I enter my church, I am greeted by a rendering of the crucified Christ upon the cross — a common image in many churches, in all its disturbing glory.

The cross upon which Christ was crucified is the dominant image of, for and about Christianity.

The cross and the crucifixion have several levels of meaning for Christians. On the most basic level, the image of the crucified Christ is an abject symbol of man's inhumanity to man, as well as the horrific outcome of capital punishment. A man sentenced to death and nailed to a cross for a slow, painful, public death.

That image of Christ on the cross, or the cross alone, has so many meanings, all of them deep. It is one of the things that I do when I inventory a church-- I look at the crosses they have, and what they have to say. There are bare wood ones, some merely draped, others bearing a simple figure, and many with a fully-formed and gruesome Christ on it.

If we see the cross in so many ways, should it be surprise (or bad) that we see his message in so many ways?

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Another murder

When I was a Rotary Club member back in Grosse Pointe, one of the core members of the club was Bob Bashara; he and his wife, Jane, were stalwarts of the community. It was with great sadness that I read about Jane's murder this week.

One thing I have learned in a career in criminal law is not to pick a murderer based on press reports. There are many levels to this story, it seems, and all of them are tragic. I hope that in the end the case is closed with the right person convicted, whether it is Bob or someone else.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Haiku Friday: Piglet!

As wingmen go, Piglet is the ultimate. He's always upbeat, kinda goofy, never boring, and constantly supportive even when Pooh has dumb ideas. He's kind of the Joe Biden of the 100-Acre-Wood. (Plus, he is an excellent dancer). Today, I suggest we haiku about this fine mammal.

Here is mine:

Well, "'hullo, Piglet!"
Someday soon, we will get you
A nicer sweater!

Now it is your turn. You can actually haiku about any of the denizens of the 100-Acre Wood: Pooh, Christopher Robin, Eeyore, Thor, Rabbit, Ganja Pete, Kanga... whoever you want! If you win, you will get your bio here on Monday. So write!

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Political Mayhem Thursday: State of our Union

I loved Obama's speech on Tuesday night. I loved it for the same reasons I love the Reagan speech above-- it was positive, challenging, and embraced real values (albeit different values than Reagan's in some ways).

When did Republicans become such a bunch of grumps? John Boehner looked like he was passing a gallstone on Tuesday, and his statements were consistent with the All-negative All-the-time template that Republicans seem to have set out for themselves.

Hey, Republicans, we get it: You don't like Obama. Beyond that, what are you for? Here is a list:

1) Maintain low taxes for rich people.
2) Reduce regulations (ie, environmental or consumer protection rules) on business
3) Hating President Obama

Quite a platform!

I'll accept that there is more to Republican proposals than those three points-- but they aren't being heard. It's lost in the waves of scowling and muttering that dominate your messages. Meanwhile, the President did present a pretty broad set of ideas, whether you agree with them or not.

For all the reverence that Republicans display for Ronald Reagan, they seem to have lost any sense of what he was about. If they do not get a handle on that, they will lose another election this year, running as the party of "Get off my lawn!"

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


What a waste of a perfectly good chicken!

My research assistant here at St. Thomas recently reported to me that in 7th century Rome, those convicted of murdering a parent were sentenced to death. Not just any death, either, but a very unusual one: The convict was placed in a sack with a rooster, a dog, a viper, and an ape, and then they were all drowned.

I've heard of some strange execution techniques (frankly, the current American technique of three drugs in sequence is pretty strange, in its own way), but this is the strangest.

This raises some very interesting questions:

1) Where did they get an ape in Rome?
2) What was the point of drowning extraneous animals with the convict?
3) What kind of project is this assistant researching, exactly?
4) Is it possible to consider this situation without thinking about McGyver?
5) How did the Romans finally get rid of this method of execution?
6) Which thing in the sack would live the longest?
7) What would RRL do?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


It's the news! With a twist!

Apparently, IPLawGuy is now getting all his news from China, and I think he is on to something. (Note: he continues to get his shirts from Italy, his indentured servants from Ireland, and his hats from Prussia). Check out this clip, which explains recent developments in the Republican nomination battle:

What other areas of the news deserve this treatment?

Monday, January 23, 2012


North Korea is fun again!

In an oddly militaristic kind of way...


The winners: Renee and RRL!

Here are the states that were proposed as the "best" on Friday:

Massachussets (2)
Minnesota (2)
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
South Dakota
Texas (2)
Virginia (Commonwealth of)
Wisconsin (2)

Here was Renee's finale:

New Mexico queen
Of states,Georgia O'Keefe praise
For grand spareness...art.

And RRL's:

You can go to hell...
I'm going to Texas. I
think that sums it up.

And now for the bios:

Because of a mail mix-up, RRL (born Rene Randolph Lemerson) and Renee received one another's mail for a period of seven years, from 1996-2003. During this time, Renee, an Edwardian lady-in-waiting stuck in an odd gap in the space-time continuum, received RRL's steady supply of work boots, punk rock sheet music, conservative PAC fundraising letters, and firearms. Meanwhile, RRL was flummoxed by the steady stream of fine women's hats, jodhpurs, walking sticks, and Elvis CD's.

Predictably, they eventually met to exchange several hundred pieces of mail. Choosing a place midway between Texas and Minnesota, they ended up planning a rendezvous in Memphis. The exchange, held at a blues bar on Beale Street, was amicable, though RRL initially tried to palm a few of the Elvis cd's. (Secretly, he also kept a pair of the jodhpurs, but that is best not discussed here). After a fine discussion, some dancing, a fair number of cocktails, and several dozen pork ribs, each returned home, happy for the encounter.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Sunday Reflection: For God's Sake

Today I can write nothing better than what my friend and colleague Susan Stabile set out on her blog, Creo en Dios, yesterday, so I have pasted it in below. I would add that Susan is very much farther along that path than I am-- there's no doubt in my mind that I am far from living my life "for God's sake," and that for this is aspirational. Still, it is good to have an aspiration, right?

The other day I was back and forth with my friend Richard on e-mail about something. After I wrote a message explaining why the subject of our conversation was important to me, he responded, “Well, that and, you are an attorney, for God’s sake.” “Literally,” he added.

Although his intended use of “for God’s sake” in his sentence was as an exclamation for emphasis, I smiled at my friend’s wonderful afterthought. Although I am no longer a practicing lawyer, there is accuracy to the meaning conveyed by his phrase when one omits the comma from it: I am an Attorney for God’s Sake, as I am a Law Professor for God’s Sake, or a Retreat Director for God’s Sake, or any of the other descriptions I may use to explain my various roles.

If my life belongs to God, then there is no part of my life that is separate from my discipleship. Everything I am, everything do, is a response to God’s call. Everything I am and do is for God’s sake, for the furtherance of God’s plan for me and for the world.

And the same is true for you.

Who are you for God’s sake?

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Oh, panda!

Friday, January 20, 2012


Haiku Friday: The best state

What is the best state of them all?

Sure (according to the song) Louisiana has the best coach, best team, and best ethics laws, but a lot of it is pretty depressing. So, let's hear some other opinions-- in haiku!

Here is mine:

Best state? It's Vermont!
Minnesota with mountains
And crazy people.

Now it is your turn! Just make it 5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables, and if you win, you will get your bio here on Monday!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Political Mayhem Thursday: Why should investments be taxed at a lower rate than income from working?

It's late-- I'm just back from speaking at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in St. Paul, where I got great introductions from Bishop Brian Prior and Rector LeeAnne Watkins and had a wonderful time. It's a warm and loving church, which was a good thing on a cold, snowy night.

Now I'm home, though, and I'm fascinated by the story that Mitt Romney pays about 15% of his income in taxes. That's the same as the lowest rate overall on income from working-- for example, what low-paid teachers might pay.

How does that work? Put simply, Romney's income is mostly classified as "capital gains"-- that is, money earned from investing money. While the top rate on income from working is over 33%, the top rate for capital gains is 10%. In other words, you pay far less tax on money you earn from investments than you do from working.

I don't like the values behind this tax system-- I believe in the value of work, and think it should be taxed at the same or a lower rate than what people make from investments.

One argument for low capital gains taxes has always been that it "encourages investment." That makes no sense to me-- what else are people going to do with their wealth, other than invest it in one way or another?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


New at the Huffington Post...

I have a piece called "Why Religion Should Matter When You Vote," which you can see here.

I'm pretty sure this one won't be controversial.


Help Make a Film!

One of the great parts of the weekend was spending some time with Joshua Rofe, a filmmaker who came out from LA to see the trial and meet some of us who are involved. He is currently raising money for a film about the Trial of Christ in Oklahoma this April.

It was fun to watch Josh watch the trial-- he was keeping an eye on the audience, and gauging their reaction.

If you are interested in the trial, please visit his kickstarter site, put the video trailer on your facebook page, and consider helping him out.

His goal is $40,000, and apparently it is all-or-nothing: Either he meets the goal or ends up with no funding.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012



Tomorrow night, I'll be speaking about the civil discourse and the gay marriage amendment in Minnesota at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in St. Paul. (I like that on their home page, the event seems to be linked to something called the "Shoveler's Ball."). The event starts at 6 pm, and is co-sponsored by OutFront MN, Minnesotans United for All Families, and Episcopalians United for All Families.

Please come on out!


What a Trial!

[click on an image to enlarge it]

On Sunday, we performed the Trial of Christ at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago (pictured above), and I think it went very well. We got a great crowd, and the feedback has been tremendous. I loved the space for this... there was darkness and shadow and the sheer size was ominous. So many people in the church were wonderful hosts to us-- it is an amazing place.

For my opposing counsel, Jeanne Bishop, this was a special event, as Fourth Presbyterian is her home church. Here she in interviewing a witness on Saturday:

One of the great things about this version was that I got to have the assistance of not one, not two, but three of my students working with me on the project. Shown in the picture below are Phil Steger, Sara Sommervold, and Joy Tull. Phil, who is a second-year student at St. Thomas, reprised his role as Peter, and was masterful. Sara (also a 2L at St. Thomas) was second chair for the defense, and handled a direct and cross like a seasoned attorney. Joy, who was one of students at Baylor (she now works in Dallas) was my second chair and was excellent-- I'm going to try to rope her into doing it again. In addition, we had three excellent witnesses from 4th Church, and Circuit Court Judge Larry Axelrood presiding.

On Saturday, there was a wonderful party at the home of Jerry and Karen Johnson, where filmmaker Joshua Rofe got to talk about his project regarding the trial. I'll have more about that tomorrow...

Monday, January 16, 2012


Our Winner: Anonymous!

There were many strange and wonderful entries last Friday for the haiku contest, on the topic of "what I wish I hadn't said." Our winner, though, by acclamation, is "anonymous," for this little ditty:

I wish I hadn't said
That I wanted fries with that
Forty thousand times.

And now for his biography:

Anonymous (pictured above) is a retired journeyman sportswriter now living in the Tampa Bay area. Sadly, he is completely immobilized, save for a once-a-month trip to Sam's Club for shopping, an excursion that requires an electric scooter to move his considerable girth.

For forty-three years, Anonymous ate at least two meals a day at a Hardee's Restaurant which was located next door to his home. It was during this time that he ate over two million french fries. When that restaurant closed, he was lost and confused, and took to eating various gumm products (ie, gummy bears, gummy worms) at every meal for another two years. Sadly, the side effects of gumm (which is a petroleum refining by-product) took a toll on his health, and he had to move to a different part of Tampa to be close to a different Hardee's location.

Yet, through it all, his poetic muse endured! All hail, Anonymous!

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Sunday Reflection: The Dangerous Christ

Today I am prosecuting Jesus again, and I have the same inner torment that goes with that. I am very careful in writing a closing, and painstaking about my preparation, and each moment seems to drain me of a few drops goodness. My critical thinking/prosecutor side turned against my faith is difficult for both.

It is hard to avoid the fact that Christ was dangerous-- dangerous to the institutions at the center of society (then and now), dangerous to power and wealth, dangerous to settledness and comfort. There is a way in which his message often seems to tear against what feels like the natural law... our natures lead us to comfort and safety, and he sends us out in the opposite direction. How can that be?

God does challenge our very natures through Christ. Realizing that shakes up every settled notion.

Saturday, January 14, 2012



I'm in Chicago today, getting ready for the Trial of Christ tomorrow at 12:30 at 4th Presbyterian Church on Michigan Ave. There is snow falling, and it was falling yesterday in Minneapolis, as well-- those big gorgeous flakes that drift down lazily.

People in Texas have a love-hate relationship with snow. There are a lot of great skiers in Texas, for example, and many others from there want to be cozy inside with the fireplace going while it is snowing outside. Yet, they think living in a place like this is kinda crazy.

I see the point. Driving in snow is dangerous and slow. The cold can chill you to the bone. All those clothes!

But still, on a morning like today....

Friday, January 13, 2012


Haiku Friday: Things you wish you hadn't said

Today, let's haiku about things we shouldn't have said, or perhaps things that other people (politicians, parents, Mr. Rogers) shouldn't have said.

Here is mine:

I should have known that
The wrong person would hear me;
Meant that for Gordon.

Now it is your turn! The winner gets their bio here on Monday.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Political Mayhem Thursday II: The Haley Barbour Pardons

UPDATE: I will be talking about these pardons tonight at 9 pm on Fox, Channel 9 here in the Twin Cities.


It seemed a little odd when the ultimate DC insider, Haley Barbour, returned to his home state of Mississippi to run for governor. Barbour had been a highly successful head of the Republican National Committee in the 1990's, and found equal success as a lobbyist.

He won that race for governor, and then won re-election in 2007. Those inside-DC connections paid off for Mississippi when Katrina hit in 2005-- most observers think that Mississippi responded better and recovered faster than neighboring states (especially Louisiana).

Last week was his last in office, as he faced term limits. On his way out, he pardoned about 200 inmates, including 14 convicted of murder. Several of those murder convicts worked in the Governor's mansion. Now the (Democratic) Attorney General of the state is challenging the pardons because some did not meet a notice provision, and has refered to Gov. Barbour as "Boss Hogg."

If nothing else, this episode reveals something many criminal defense lawyers know well: That humanizing a convict to a key decision-maker can make all the difference.

Is there a problem here?


Political Mayhem Thursday I: Was Tina Fey fair to Sarah Palin?

Here is what Tina Fey has to say about it:

"Some may argue that exploiting Governor Palin and her family helped bring attention to my low-rated TV show," writes Fey of 30 Rock, the NBC show that has struggled in the ratings despite critical acclaim.

Fey's comments appear in her new memoir, "Bossypants," an advance copy of which was obtained by USA Today.

"I am proud to say you are wrong," she continues. "My TV show still enjoys very low ratings. In fact, I think the Palin stuff may have hurt the TV show. Let's face it, between Alec Baldwin and me there is a certain fifty percent of the population who think we are pinko Commie monsters."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Excuse me, but... where did all the crime go?

I was fascinated by this Doug Berman blog post, reporting on the steep drop in crime in Los Angeles.

How steep? Here's how steep: There is now less crime in that city, overall, than there was in 1957, the year Leave it To Beaver premiered. This, despite the addition of 1,500,000 people to the population!

In the same way that we often don't know what went wrong with crime, in this case we don't really know what went right. Population is up. Narcotics use is the same or greater. The economy is in the tank.

It's essential we find out the answer to that question-- what went right?-- if we are to replicate this remarkable success.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Coming up this Sunday...

It's the Trial of Christ at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago. You can get the details here.

Meanwhile, a previous Osler/Bishop clash mysteriously popped up on Youtube yesterday for the first time-- my 2009 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee vs. Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins:


Well, that's odd...

It appears that Texas Fire Marshall Paul Maldonado, who defended the conviction and execution of Todd Willingham, resigned abruptly in December.

How abruptly? Well... check out his resignation note.

Oh, Texas...

Monday, January 09, 2012


Our winner: Mr. Robert Johnson!

I was all set to award this week's prize to Bob, in large part because of his Bachman Turner Overdrive reference (I'm a sucker for anything related to BTO). But then Bob himself gave a shout-out to the golden last line of Robert Johnson's effort:

That has a nice ring to it.
Mormon Schmormon, Yo!

And so, Mr. Johnson is our winner. As promised, here is a short and 110% accurate biography of the champion:

Robert Johnson is currently the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the McLennanan, which bills itself as "McLennan County's County Magazine." True to its promise, the McLennanan brings a monthly dose of all things McLennan, whether it is a bar fight in Lorena or an apparent nuclear explosion in McGregor. Somewhat more obscure is the way in which Mr. Johnson seized control of the magazine.

From 1886-2001, the McLennanan (originally known as the McLennaneran) was owned and operated by the Larson family of Clifton, Texas. In the later years of the Larson's ownership, it was apparent that things had slipped. On a regular basis, several pages of the magazine were blank but for a small message reading "this page intentionally left blank," while much of the remainder was filled with gun ads, poorly drawn comic strips submitted by area youths, and no small amount of locally-produced porn.

In 2001, Johnson was just finishing up his career in the military, where he served with the very secretive US Navy SEAL Team 7. Among other operations, Johnson was involved in the secret invasions of Cambodia, Canada, Aruba, and France, and was rumored to have been a part of the failed government operation against the cast of Three's Company in 1980. Done with his service and with time on his hands, Johnson returned to his home county and set his sights on the slack-jawed owners of the McLennanan.

With the aid of ten Kazak mercenaries, Johnson stormed the McLennanan offices on Valley Mills Road at dawn. Initially, the fighting was fierce as armed militants from National Tire and Battery and the H.E.B. grocery store joined the fray, but in the end Johnson and his men seized the offices and took control of the magazine. They suffered only a single gunshot wound to one of the mercenaries, which was quickly attended to by "Doc" Anderson in his nearby office (though this treatment led to a later and unfortunate addiction to cat tranquilizers).

Congratulations again to this week's winner, Mr. Robert Johnson!

Sunday, January 08, 2012


Sunday Reflection: Religion and Politics

One thing I find dispiriting about the Republican primaries is the way that the candidates talk about their faith. I'm not one of those, though, who thinks that politicians should not talk about their faith-- rather, I think they should talk about it more.

Here is what I mean by that: When Rick Santorum or Michelle Bachmann talk about gay marriage as a threat to Christianity, they lay it out as if that is an obvious conclusion. It isn't. Many Christians, including me, have come to the conclusion that state-sanctioned marriage for same-sex couples would be a good thing.

They should talk about this more-- specifically, they should describe how they get to such a position from the Gospels, which so often counsel love and tolerance between us, as judgment is left to God. Second, they should describe why this faith belief of theirs should be imposed on others who may or may not be Christians.

In the same way, Barack Obama needs to talk about his faith more. It's not enough to assert that he isn't a Muslim. Rather, he should talk openly and actively about his faith life, and how it informs his work. I also wish that Mitt Romney would speak plainly about his own faith. Being a Mormon is nothing to be ashamed of, and he needs to assert the primacy of that part of his life.

Sadly, I think religion is too often used as a prop, or something to attack. In reality, though, to people of faith, it is something that infuses all that we do with meaning. Leaving that color out of the picture they present of themselves is untrue and distorted, and we are owed the truth.

Saturday, January 07, 2012


Sitting at the cool kids table

I'm in DC for a few meetings-- the Association of American Law Schools and the Law Professors Christian Fellowship-- and the most interesting thing happened on Thursday night.

At the big meeting for the conference, one of the first orders of business was the admission of four new schools to the Association. It was like a form of Kabuki theater in its formality: First, the chair of the membership committee made a motion. Then a short speech was made. The Dean of that school would give a short talk and introduce his faculty, and after comments were solicited a public vote was taken.

It was one of those moments that I knew St. Thomas is the right place for me. The Kabuki theater proceeded as before, until about when the Dean was called upon to give his speech. Unlike some of the others, our dean, Tom Mengler, had a conversational, happy tone to his brief remarks, which led to some trash-talking and joking around with the president of AALS before the vote was taken.

St. Thomas is like that-- the cool kids table where the people who are confident and funny sit with whoever wants to join them. I have seen this again and again in settings where our faculty or students interact with others. There's a certain magic to it. I will see it again tomorrow when Susan Stabile speaks at the Law Profs. Christian Fellowship; I know that she will be challenging and funny and insightful in a way that marks her as one of us.

It's a good place to be.

Friday, January 06, 2012


Haiku Friday: Republicans!

Since we are in the heat of the primaries, let's haiku about these colorful Republican candidates! You are allowed to haiku about any of them, including those who have already dropped out (i.e., Pawlenty, Bachmann, Trump, Cain) or any of those that remain (Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and that guy who used to be in the "Rent is too damn high!" party).

Here is mine:

Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul
Wouldn't they be quite a ticket?
"Hey! Get off my lawn!"

Now it is your turn. Just try to make it about 5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables, and the winner gets their bio here on Monday!

Now do it!

Thursday, January 05, 2012


Political Mayhem Thursday: Santorum!

by: oslerguy

[Disclaimer: The real IPLawGuy is actually quite articulate, and holds only some of the positions attributed to him here]

What a great time to not be a Republican! Watching the Iowa campaigning and caucus results without a horse in the race was like being the only sober person in a room full of drunks-- it just gets more entertaining and absurd as the night wears on.

Here are a few of my conclusions:

Boy, do people not want to vote for Romney!

This guy has, by far, the most money raised and spent. Between 2008 and now, he has spent months in Iowa. He has by far the best organization on the ground. He pretty much avoided gaffes, and consistently came off as knowledgeable, poised, well-prepared, and energetic. Yet, for all that, he improved his results vs four years ago by 6. Not six percentage points-- six votes. He got 30,021 in 2008, and 30,015 last night... oh, wait, that's six LESS votes. Huh. He ended up almost precisely tied with a candidate with almost no resources and nearly devoid of accomplishment-- Rick Santorum. Further, here is a list of the goofballs who have, in sequence, moved ahead of Romney previously in the polls:

Donald Trump
Michelle Bachmann
Rick Perry
Herman Cain
Newt Gingrich

Crikeys! What a motley crew-- a reality tv star, someone who promotes praying away the gay, a guy who seems unable to focus for a full hour, a pizza executive who didn't know that China has nuclear weapons, and one of the biggest hypocrites in American political history (and that's saying something).

Compare this group to the talent we saw in the 1980 Republican caucuses in Iowa. In first place was George H.W. Bush, a man with broad Congressional experience, a former ambassador and head of the CIA, and a genuine war hero. In second place was Ronald Reagan. In third place was Howard Baker, a Senate Majority leader, White House chief of staff, and Ambassador. In fourth place was John Connally, a former Secretary of the Navy and the Treasury and former governor of Texas and war hero who won the Legion of Merit. In fifth and sixth places were veteran Illinois Congressmen Phil Crane and John Anderson, and in seventh place was war hero, veteran Congressman and Senator, and future nominee Bob Dole. Now THAT is talent.

And now we have Rick Santorum? What I take from all this is that Republicans are nearly desperate for someone besides Romney.

That strikes me as kind of weird, since he is a good candidate in any observable respect, especially compared to the competition. Newt Gingrich pretty much had a meltdown last night, Rick Santorum couldn't even hold his senate seat in Pennsylvania, and Rick Perry may already be done.

Of course, I also think Romney would be the worst president. His policies are almost shockingly single-minded in increasing the income disparity in this country, which has become a major and legitimate issue. He is, and serves, the very wealthiest among us. Wait a minute... could it be that Republicans don't want that, either? I really do think that has something to do with it (I tease them, but Republicans are right about a lot of things, and are no more idiots than the Democrats).

Meanwhile... I wonder if Tim Pawlenty thinks he dropped out too soon?

[I'm ignoring Ron Paul in order to incite Ron Paul enthusiasts into a lathering rage]

Wednesday, January 04, 2012


The Bishop Sisters and Plaxico Burress

It's a strange combination, but a good cause... though I would take the advice of the Bishops on this one over gun violence victim Plaxico Burress-- who shot himself. [The Bishops appear at about 1:33 of the video]


A busy, busy Spring

I'm used to having a lot to do, but this Spring semester is going to be a little crazy. Here is what I have going on:

1) Teaching Criminal Law

In ten years at Baylor, I never got the chance to teach a first-year lecture class (Brian Serr ably handled that), but now I am getting my shot at it. I'll have about 90 eager St. Thomasites ready to learn all about homicide and conspiracy.

2) Teaching Criminal Practice

This is just about my favorite class to teach, and the the first one I ever taught. It's an intense walk-through of the actual tasks a criminal lawyer performs. I've had the chance to teach many amazing people in this class, from David Moore in 2000 to Rita Berg last year at St. Thomas.

3) Commutation clinic

Last fall I started the first federal commutation clinic in the country, and it is continuing into the Spring. I've got a great bunch of students, and their work thus far has been pretty interesting.

4) The Trial of Christ

We're really pushing this project into overdrive this Spring. There is now a home page for that project, and here is part of our schedule:

January 15—Trial of Christ, Fourth Presbyterian, Chicago, 12:30 pm.
February 7—Trial of Christ, Episcopal Divinity School/Harvard, 7 pm.
February 24—Osler/Bishop Death Penalty presentation, Belmont University, Nashville
February 25—Osler/Bishop presentation to Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty conference, Nashville
February 26—Osler/Bishop presentation at St. Henry’s Catholic Church, Nashville
February 27—Trial of Christ, Carson-Newman College, Jeffersonville, TN
March 18—Trial of Christ, St. Henry’s Catholic Church, Nashville
April 5 (Maundy Thursday)—Trial of Christ, Crossings Community Church, Oklahoma City, OK

4b) Other Speaking gigs

Other than the Trial of Christ, I also have a lot of speaking to do at various conferences and such. For example, in the third week of January (our first week of classes) I have four interesting events: On Wedenesday the 18th, I'll be speaking at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in St. Paul, on Thursday the 19th I will be presenting here at St. Thomas with Andrew Densemo, on Friday the 20th I am on a panel at the annual PFLAG conference, and on Sunday the 22nd Susan Stabile and I will quarrel over creedalism in front of the confused parishoners of Christ Episcopal Church in Woodbury, Minnesota.

5) Symposium

On April 20, we are hosting a symposium on commutation issues, with some great guests, and I am working to coordinate that.

5b) RALS conference

I'm currently the head of the association of Religiously Affiliated Law Schools, and we have our big bi-annual conference this May at Touro Law School. Lots of planning to do for that.

6) TYLA Team

I'm coaching a mock trial team, and I'm still amazed at the talent I am finding at St. Thomas. These guys are going to be good.

7) Academic writing

I've got one article coming out (on narcotics interdiction strategies), another being placed, and am finishing up a third (suggesting a radical revision of the sentencing guidelines).

8) Other writing

I don't think I'm going to slow down much on the short-form writing-- I finished two op-ed this week, one for CNN and the other for the St. Thomas alumni magazine.

9) Blogging

Oh, yeah. I'll still be here. Every day.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012


Bowl Game Report!

It's been a great year for bowl games-- especially if you are a fan of Baylor. Here is an update on the action so far:

1) Alamo Bowl

Baylor 67
Univ. of Washington Muskies 54

No, I'm not making that basketball-like score up. It was an incredible game to watch, and Baylor proved that you can win ten games in a schedule packed with tough games, despite having a defense that puts up less resistance than eleven traffic cones set up at random.

2) New Mexico Nuclear Bowl

Temple Owls 74
Univ. of Wyoming Sea Cretins 72

In an attempt to generate as much scoring as the Alamo Bowl, both teams agreed to let coaches stand in as a symbolic "defense" for the second, third, and fourth quarters of the game.

3) Beef O'Brady's Bowl

Florida International Golden Samovars 10
Marshall University Flaming Goatees 20

This game avoided the defensive meltdowns seen in other bowls by having Mr. O'Brady play quarterback for both teams.

4) Rose Bowl

Oregon Super Ducks 45
Wisconsin Cheese 37

Though the game itself was pretty good, the highlight was the halftime show, during which the Oregon marching band performed a medley of songs reflecting a small portion of the felonies committed by the Oregon team this year.

5) BCS National Championship

Alabama 2

In a defensive struggle many people predicted would be "legendary," Alabama's safety with four seconds remaining was the difference.

Monday, January 02, 2012


Our winner: Gary!

Haiku-ing was a little light last week, but no wonder-- we were all kind of off-duty, right? Our winner, though, was Gary, who crafted a haiku that was at once believable and horrible; mundane and terrible:

My New Year's Eve Theme:
It's Hello Kitty party time!
Get out your red bows!

I can't even imagine what to say about this one's true meaning. Still, I owe him a bio, so here goes:

Gary was born in thel central Texas town of West. His father ran a small feed lot, and his mother sold grapefruit to passing motorist. Well, she didn't really sell them-- she just threw them at cars. Gary's ambition was to attend Baylor University, and through the generosity of friends and several anonymous donors, he got his wish.

While at Baylor, Gary became a Spanish major, and a protege of the Spanish Medievalist. He began wearing armor to class, and brandished a sword. Thought odd by some, Gary did cut a memorable figure on campus, and was called upon to tell several underperforming Baylor coaches that they were being terminated.

Now having completed Baylor, Gary now works for the TSA at the Waco airport, where you may well have met him on your way through the magnetometer!

Sunday, January 01, 2012


Sunday Reflection: The New Year

It is a new year.

Yes, it's an arbitrary demarcation, no more significant in its fundamentals than the odometer flipping 10,000 in the car, but that does not mean it is without meaning. It's symbolic, yes, but symbols are the most powerful things in our society- what tyrants and heroes alike rely upon to change the world.

And what does it symbolize? A new beginning, a time to set your feet firmly and look forward boldly, imagining what may lie ahead. This is important; what we create is a product, after all, of what we first imagine.

Time and again, that was Christ's message, too. In my church, there is a cross, but no one upon it. That's because Christ is gone-- gone from the cross, gone from the tomb, gone on to live some more, the new beginning.

This can be as religious a holiday as we choose to make it. There is nothing more profound in faith, after all, than the opportunity to be remade.

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