God and Calhoun at Yale

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You can tell skilled debaters from amateurs by this simple test: skilled debaters can argue either side of the argument with equal success. It’s why public defenders are often better attorneys than public prosecutors. In most situations, public prosecutors can choose which case to take to court. Given this option, it’s not surprising to see them avoid cases they don’t agree with. Public defenders have no similar choice. They must make a case for the defendant whether they believe that defendant is guilty or not. Unlike private defense attorneys, who may choose not to represent any particular party, public defenders have no right to pick and choose their cases.

It’s easy to see why people sometimes think less of the legal profession. The ability to argue either side of any issue with the same fervor can indicate a certain level of amorality that can make a preacher’s skin crawl. After all, in the court of law, judgment is fungible – the power of a lawyer’s rhetoric can sway it. On the other hand, from the point of view of the pulpit, Continue Reading “God and Calhoun at Yale”

TWTWTWID*

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* These Were The Weeks That Were In Davenport

In case you missed it the first time around some thirty-five years ago, editor Seth Magalaner and illustrator Ed Sevilla have reunited to share their rare collection of wit, fantasy, and creative prowess by allowing us mere non-Master’s aides a chance to peek behind the curtain that once was. Since many of you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’ve no doubt returned to your daily (hourly? minutely?) reflection on Facebook and are no longer reading this. That’s good. We only want those in the know to take advantage of this once in a lifetime offer. That’s right, now is the only time you will be having your 35th reunion from Davenport College and you are therefore accorded a glance at the original TWIDs from your senior year.

Just click on this link and go back in time to a time when your primary worry was reading, writing, and money to buy pizza. It was a time when the last thing you thought of doing was reading TWID. Well now, after all these years, after most of your reading and writing is behind you, and at a time when your doctor says to lay off the pizza, now you finally have the time to read TWID.

Click here to enter the past you never knew.

Why Trump Won’t Lead The Reagan Revolution

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In the spirit of this week’s Presidential Inauguration, I’m going to do something I rarely do: I going to share with you a personal correspondence. Early last year, just as the Republican primary was starting to get interesting, a classmate of mine who writes for the National Review went full speed into the “Never Trump” camp. In March, I penned this letter to her:

Maggie:

Too bad most of the comments on your “Good-Bye Reagan Revolution!” article are ad hominem attacks on you; thus, have no validity. I’ll speak to you on a more personal level since we grew up together in the midst of the Reagan Revolution. First some background, in case you forgot (and I have no reason to believe you remember). In 1979/1980 I was (and Continue Reading “Why Trump Won’t Lead The Reagan Revolution”

Here’s What I Learned When I was a Professional Political Pollster

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agreement-survey-scale-1-1236335-660x395Imagine being a physics and astronomy major at a school interested in politics and government where the most popular major is political science and economics. It’s tough. You can’t engage in discussions, you can only listen. You know nothing, unless the conversation turns towards nuclear energy policy (which it almost never does) or space exploration (which it doesn’t ever).

That was me heading into the 1980 presidential primary season. I was nothing more than a naïve cheerleader. I wanted to be more, but what? In an ocean of future neo-cons, think tank thinkers, and government policy makers, I was merely a small deserted isle that didn’t even merit a place on the map. I tried and tried to think of a way I could add value, to discover something in one of the classes I took that would generate at least interest, if not respect, among my more politically knowledgeable classmates. About the only unique differentiator I offered was that I had lived in Jack Kemp’s congressional district, but that was just a novelty of coincidence.

Then it struck me. While all these talking heads spent their class time debating the merits Continue Reading “Here’s What I Learned When I was a Professional Political Pollster”

What The University of Chicago Can Teach Yale

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nathan_hale_statue_flanked_by_two_soldiers_yale_university_1917They took all incoming freshman on a special tour within a day of our arrival at the campus in New Haven. Those were ancient times, when many (like me) had neither the time nor the treasure to visit colleges prior to matriculation (let alone application). To this day, one fact from that introductory outing stands out in my much more crowded brain – the visit inside and around Connecticut Hall. Completed in 1757, this last remaining survivor of Yale’s “Old Brick Row” served as a dormitory for nearly two centuries. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965.

But that’s not what I remember.

Here’s what I remember: First, there was some obscure graffiti left on an interior wall. Supposedly more than a century old, I don’t remember what it said. All I remember feeling upon hearing this story is that college students have always been rascals and Yale apparently didn’t mind – and even glorified – these youthful misdemeanors.

The second memory carried far greater weight. Outside of Connecticut Hall stands a Continue Reading “What The University of Chicago Can Teach Yale”

It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It

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Winters in New Haven, Connecticut aren’t nearly as severe as those in the Greater Western New York region. I had proudly proclaimed my home town ever since that sun-drenched day in September of 1978 when I first stepped onto campus. As a result, when the winds of winter arrived, as a native of Buffalo, I felt obliged to walk the talk. That meant, on a regular basis, when temperatures “dipped” into the low thirties, I would trudge out of my dorm in nothing but gym shorts and walk to the post office to get my mail. (Before you get too impressed, the post office was located in the basement of my hall. There was no interior access, so I had to walk outside into the raised courtyard, down the steps to ground level, then turn a quick right before descending another set of stairs before, finally, entering the mail center.)

I remember one of those treks quite vividly. There I was, sauntering (after all, walking hastily would make it seem as though I feared the frigid temperature) through the courtyard without a shirt one coolish evening. Establishing a different form of cool, I stopped to talk to some friends. (I remember one saying to the other, “It’s cold, why isn’t he wearing a shirt?” The other responded, “He’s from Buffalo.” The first person said “Oh” with a knowing nod.)Continue Reading “It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It”

The Solver – Rich: The Final Piece of the Puzzle

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[Previously: Roommates for Sale – Frank: The Designated Driver]

After Spike (a.k.a. “Pierce”) left The Roommates (yes, there was a fifth Roommate) in 1979 to join the Marines, a rather expansive punk group which qualifies for government assistance, the boys needed a drummer. Most critics would have agreed that, even with Spike, The Roommates needed a drummer. Spike brief time with the three originals did leave three permanent marks. First, it was Spike’s hidden love for martial music that set the early war-like tone of the proto-group. Second, he inspired Ted to write his first hit, the now famous folksy rag “Blond-Haired Boy from Brooklyn.” Finally, Spike gave the other members something they would need to catapult them to instant fame: Continue Reading “The Solver – Rich: The Final Piece of the Puzzle”

Roommates for Sale – Frank: The Designated Driver

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[Previously: Rubber Puck – Ted: Proudly Not Silent, but Just as Deadly]

Frank started his professional life as a mediocre radio personality, constantly getting fired by general manager after general manager. Fortunately, it was steady work as the only people fired more often than Frank were his (ex) general managers. Scot and Ted found Frank sleeping on a park bench late one night and invited him in for a beer. He proceeded to drain their reserve of two half kegs. It was the first time he had had beer. The two immediately noticed Frank’s strange reaction to beer, and, as they soon discovered,Continue Reading “Roommates for Sale – Frank: The Designated Driver”

Rubber Puck – Ted: Proudly Not Silent, but Just as Deadly

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[Previously: Meet The Roommates – Scot: The True Leader – Silent, but Deadly]

Scot first met Ted at the Winter Carnival Hockey Tournament in Montreal during the summer of 1978. Both had played on opposing teams in the finals. The two visited in the penalty box for nine minutes (two two-minute roughing penalties and a five-minute minor for fighting). Scot and Ted got along famously right from the get-go. (“Enmity is the heart of friendship,” Rich was to later tell Zig Jones.) But, while Scot turned to music, Ted remained with hockey. At the peak of an impressive playoff run, the puckster received a call from Scot and joined The Roommates. Ted stunned the hockey world when he announced Continue Reading “Rubber Puck – Ted: Proudly Not Silent, but Just as Deadly”

Meet The Roommates – Scot: The True Leader – Silent, but Deadly

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[Previously: The Birth of Something New]

Just who were, to borrow a phrase from Zig Jones, these “Musical Mussolinis”? Again, most of the information we have is from the Rock Waves interview, the only question and answer session the group allowed. The boys have been reluctant to discuss specifics of their past since the break, (we can only hold out hope the statute of limitations will eventually run its course).

In fact, the only quote Scot, the unquestionable founder of the band, has ever given in public was the now classic “Give me Continue Reading “Meet The Roommates – Scot: The True Leader – Silent, but Deadly”