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    Saturday, May 28, 2005

    Freedom's Source

    This Memorial Day weekend our country once again pays tribute to the brave men and women who have fought and continue to fight for our freedom. To honor them, here is a famous poem, by an unknown author:

    It is the soldier, not the reporter,
    who has given us freedom of the press.

    It is the soldier, not the poet,
    who has given us freedom of speech.

    It is the soldier, not the campus organizer,
    who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.

    It is the soldier, not the lawyer,
    who has given us the right to a fair trial.

    It is the soldier, who salutes the flag...
    who serves under the flag, and
    whose coffin is draped by the flag...
    who allows the protester to burn the flag.

    Were it not for the brave...
    there would be no land of the free.

    -Author Unknown

    Thursday, May 26, 2005

    PRINCIPLED LEADERS: Sean Hannity, Anthony Randazzo (student at The King's College), and myself. Posted by Hello

    Let Freedom Ring!

    Last month, I finally met Sean Hannity, though the meeting was VERY brief. But, he spoke to about 125 students and faculty at The King's College, which is located inside the Empire State Building in NYC. And, I had a front-row seat for about an hour.

    ISI sponsors a group at The King's College, called the "C.S. Lewis Society." They are a great bunch of students! One of their leaders, Elisha, has been an intern for Hannity for the past year and she was able to convince him to come speak at her school, free of charge. This is a guy that charges anywhere between $25,000 to $100,000 for speaking engagements. He has the second most popular talk radio show in the country, has won many awards, and is the co-host of "Hannity and Colmes" on FOX News (for those who have no idea). Because of my position with ISI and my great relationship with these students, they got me to meet Hannity and take a picture with him (i slightly got cut off, but all in all, not a bad looking photo op). Elisha, by the way, was just hired by Hannity for a full-time position as the Assistant Producer of his radio show, which broadcasts only blocks away from her school.

    He gave a great talk at TKC on "Principled Leadership" and encouraged students to remain principled, whether it is politically, spiritually, or personally, because our society is lacking in principled leadership. He also encouraged them to "take risks" because he said this great country has so many opportunities, that even if you don't succeed with the risk you are taking, there are plenty of other opportunities to keep you going. But he said if you put your heart into something you are driven to do, and you take risks, you are bound to succeed.

    Saturday, May 21, 2005

    SHOW ME HOW TO LIVE: Chris Cornell waves the Cuban flag as Audioslave brings American rock music to the streets of Havana. Posted by Hello

    Revolutionary Music hits Cuba

    Message to Castro: "FUCK YOU, I WON'T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME," screamed Chris Cornell and the other members of the U.S. rock band, Audioslave. Yes, these lyrics were screamed out, not at a U.S. concert venue, but... in Havana, Cuba. Freedom is on the march.

    Audioslave, which is a band that's been around a few years now, and is composed of Chris Cornell (former lead singer of one of the best grunge bands of the 80's and 90's, Soundgarden) and Tom Morello, (formerly of Rage Against the Machine) and the other members of the band were also formerly of Rage Against the Machine.... Audioslave was the first U.S. rock band to play an outdoor venue in Cuba in nearly a half-century. They played Cuba last Saturday, May 14.

    Even though most of the members of Audioslave have some socialist tendencies, they wouldn't come close to supporting a dictator, but in fact completely oppose dictatorship. Audioslave is a great band, and when I saw a news clip on MTV News on Sunday night with them covering a Rage Against the Machine song, "Killing in the Name", which features the powerful lyrics... "FUCK YOU, I WON'T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME," and seeing these lyrics echoed by tens of thousands of young Cubans on the streets of Havana, I got chills... these are the sparks of revolution... music moves people... and I can now foresee the day when Castro is also moved... out of power.

    The good news: Audioslave will be making a DVD available of the concert in Cuba in the near future... stay tuned for the DVD... and the revolution.

    Check out John Norris' review from MTV News.

    Monday, May 16, 2005

    CELEBRATING FREEDOM: (From left to right) Travis (UC-Boulder), myself, Courtney (UC-Boulder), Brendan (author/law student in San Diego), Ryan (Cal-San Bernadino), Ian (UC-Boulder), George and Greg (student editors at UN-Reno). Posted by Hello

    Went West for Freedom Fest

    This past weekend turned out to be a great experience at Freedom Fest. There were not as many people as I had hoped there would be (probably due to timing), but the quality of the people is what matters most - and as far as conferences go, this one not only had an overall great quality of people, but the lack of the masses of people also provided more quality time with the people (old and new faces alike) that I met.

    Another good thing was that because Freedom Fest was in Vegas, I was able to meet a new crop of people - Westerners. Yep, lots of people from California in particular, but also Nevada, Arizona, Colorado and other places out in the old frontier.

    There were some great moments...

    First, I finally got to meet Brendan Steinhauser, who I've communicated so much with over email, IM's and phone calls - it's great to meet people personally that you've communicated with, especially a fellow comrade in the revolution. Brendan and I conducted a panel on "Bringing Conservative Principles to Your Campus," where Brendan spoke more of the on-campus experience that he had as the Executive Director of the Young Conservatives of Texas, and I spoke more about how students could utilize ISI's resources as well as the resources of other national organizations that provide them.

    I also got to meet a few other students I have been in frequent contact with, though I wasn't expecting to - including one student from UC-Boulder who started The Liberty Club, an ISI Group. Friday night, 3 students from UC-Boulder, 2 from UN-Reno, and 2 from two schools in California (including Brendan) got together for dinner - conversations included everything from "when the sun will blow up," or "whether it will dim out", to "did man really walk on the moon? or was this just a fiction?" Yes, a bunch of conservative/libertarian students got together and forgot about politics and talked about random crap. Then again, I think this defines the conservative. It wasn't about ideology, but about thinking, with prudence of course.

    Another high of the weekend was meeting and actually having a good little discussion with Dinesh D'Souza. I had bought his book, "Letters to A Young Conservative," and he signed it, "To Francisco - A Champion of Conservative Principles!" (was I ever ecstactic - actually I still am). I think Dinesh is one of the great conservative thinkers (not to mention speakers) of our time. Who knows what the future has in store for him, but whatever it is, he has certainly had an impact on our generation of conservative intellectuals and activists.

    Freedom Fest should get better every year - and I think it's very healthy that it is a conference that is all about great ideas, great thinkers, and great books - but more importanly, about great debate. It ended with a debate between Bob Barr and Dinesh D'Souza over whether the war on terrorism has helped spread liberty or impede it. Both sides presented relevant issues, and made each side think a bit more, rather than what the Left does - they hardly debate, but only promote "group think." Group think makes people feel like they are united, but it makes them less free, and less productive.

    Freedom Fest certainly lived up to its name - not only does it celebrate freedom through the many organizations that sponsor it, but it encourages freedom of thought among all its participants.

    Sunday, May 15, 2005

    ROOM WITH A VIEW: This was the view outside my hotel room in Las Vegas. I stayed at the Bally's Hotel and Casino, which is next to (connected to) the Paris Hotel and Casino, and owned by the same company. Posted by Hello

    Thursday, May 12, 2005

    Vegas, baby! Now what?

    I arrived in Vegas this evening around 9pm Vegas time, yet my body was still on East Coast time, making it feel like midnight. It's now 12:47am Vegas time, which means it's nearly 4am East Coast time.

    I'm only blogging this late becuase I have the most incredible view from my hotel room. I'm staying at the Bally's Hotel and Casino, and just outside my window, about 100 feet directly in front of me is a huge replica of the Eiffel Tower, which stands in front of the Paris Hotel and Casino, adjacent to Bally's.

    I'll post a picture that I just took when I get back home. Tonight, I just freshened up, walked around the strip for about 2 hours, and came back to the room. I'm just too exhausted. But, I did check out Caesar's Palace and the fountain in front of the Bellagio. I've seen these places before, even though it was 7 years ago, tonight it just feels like, "cool, i'm back... now what?"

    Last time I was here, I was 20 years old, and just 4 months shy of 21. The trip was paid for by my family, but I felt like, oh just 4 more months, I could really have enjoyed this town as a 21-year old. Now, 7 years later, I feel like, "so what?" I had one drink tonight and I wanted to go to sleep. I see all the lights, the glitter, the glammer, and I heard all the slot machines chinging and changing, and I didn't even play anything. Not even a nickel. When I look around and see where all this extracted wealth is going to - just back into the casinos and hotels, I feel it just isn't right. So, even though I planned to gamble just $20 or so while I was here, I am not sure I'll gamble anything at all - what's the point?

    I think entering Sin City just makes me feel less like sinning. Does that make sense? Well, tomorrow Freedom Fest 2005 begins, and I feel like after 3 days here, I'm going to need a Virtue Fest. Although, if they ever did have a Virtue Fest, I don't think they could hold that here. But maybe they should.

    Monday, May 09, 2005

    Innate Gender Differences

    I'm a bit behind on my blogging, but I wanted to keep everyone up to date on what I'm doing and where I'm going. On April 19, I ventured up to Harvard (again) for an ISI-sponsored debate at the Harvard Law School.

    Earlier this semester, Harvard President Larry Sommers got into some controversy simply for bringing up a discussion over whethere innate gender differences are the reason why there are less women in the top positions in the sciences. Yep, just for bringing it up, he was labeled all sorts of things, and then he ended up back tracking a bit.

    So, Christina Hoff-Sommers of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Bartholet debated the question: "Innate Gender Differences: Do They Matter in Academia?"

    After the debate, about 10 students, myself, and Hoff-Sommers went out to dinner. She was great! It was the first time I had met her. Some of the students included a few from the Harvard Federalist Society, a few members of the independent women's group within the law school (who actually organized the debate) and a couple other students, including my good friend Rick Buhrman, who is a student in the Business School and who has been generous in putting me up to stay on two separate visits I've made to Harvard this semester. I always learn a lot from him.

    And, Ben Shapiro, who has authored the book, "Brainwashed," and is also a student in the law school, came to the debate and dinner. It was my first time meeting him, but I've read plenty of his columns in the past, particularly just before the election, on We all had some great discussions, and I was surprised we were actually at dinner a bit over 2 hours.

    I may have more to say about my Harvard visit... but that will have to wait for later. For now, you can read a review that appeared in "The Record", a Harvard Law publication. I was there and I think the writer got the arguments down pretty solidly. Click here to read it.

    Dinner with Christina Hoff-Sommers and Harvard Law and Business School students. Posted by Hello

    Sunday, May 08, 2005

    The Quest for Community

    On April 16, ISI held its annual conference in Indianapolis. Last year, I attended this conference as a graduate student - this year, I was attending as a 10-month member of the ISI staff. And, they had me working. Not to mention, networking with students and faculty members from around the country. Though, most were from the midwest region.

    This year's conference theme was based around the classic book by Robert Nisbet, The Quest for Community. I have only read about 1/3 of this book, but the basic argument Nisbet delivered in 1953 (though still prevalent today) is that there has always been, throughout human history, a "quest for community." No matter what is happening, people still desire to form communities of some sort or another.

    But, he argues that the rise of the state coincided with the rise of individualism, and both have destroyed the fabrics of communities. The state has assumed the control of many important aspects of community that were traditionally left to churches, neighborhoods, families, and other non-governmental institutions. And, at the same time, individualism not only rallied against the state, but also against these important institutions of community life. Thus, Americans have become more alienated and have felt less a part of community than ever before.

    Many different speakers filled the day at the Columbia Club in downtown Indianapolis, and we held special events, dinners and receptions as well. The most striking part of the day to me was to hear the stories and meet the winners of ISI's first ever Simon Fellowship for Noble Purpose. I can't say much more about these young people that are doing amazing things, from building schools in Kampala (Africa), to spreading liberal education in Iraq, and working with women and children on a Navajo Reservation in New Mexico with the late Mother Teresa. I feel fortunate just to have met these people and hear their stories. It was inspiring and encourage you all to read their stories and to follow in their footsteps.

    At the same dinner where the Simon Fellowship winners were announced and awarded, NY Times Columnist David Brooks gave a talk, structured on his latest book, "Paradise Drive: How We Live Now and Always." But, he gave his speech immediately after the Simon Fellowship winners gave their acceptance speeches and he admitted that the evening would only decline morally from this point on. But, he gave ISI a major compliment by saying that some organizations only talk about ideas, but ISI is on the cutting edge, because not only do we talk about ideas, but we put ideas into action.

    I would say that's true, but ISI is not just an "organization" that does this, but is filled with incredible people - from the staff that puts together the programs, to the thousands of students and professors that not only participate in those programs, but become a vital part of them. In that sense, I can say that ISI succeeds because it has, in fact, formed a community - and a community of unbelievable people that are blessed with so much talent.

    Thursday, May 05, 2005

    For God, Country, and Notre Dame

    After I had dinner with the "Orestes Brownson Society" at Notre Dame (see last blog below), Chris Brophy, who leads the group, gave me a pretty lengthy tour of the campus at night. What a great campus! I saw all the visitor sights, including the basilica and the "grotto", where students and others light candles and say a prayer, under a statue of Our Lady.

    After touring the basilica on campus, Chris showed me a carving on the outside of a side entrance of the basilica that said, "For God, Country, and Notre Dame". That's pretty much how people feel in South Bend, Indiana. And, as I walked around this magical campus, I felt much the same way.

    There truly is a sense of God on this campus, I don't care how much some of the students complain that it's too liberal or too secular. To me, Notre Dame seems to have struck a pretty good balance between the religious nature of its founding to the secular nature so prevalent throughout modern academia. I don't know what goes on inside the classrooms at ND, but just being on campus, you can certainly feel the presence of God - whether it is inside the cathedral, or out on the lawn, where a statue of Jesus looks towards the golden-domed administration building. Or, out in the grotto, where at night, the hundreds of lit candles sparkle as students pray for peace, for their relationships, for their university, or perhaps for their test scores.

    Chris also showed me all the famous "Touchdown Jesus" mural that drapes the front of the library building. But, he also showed me "First Down Moses" and "Fair Catch Corby" (a priest named Father Corby, who's statue looks like he could be calling a fair catch). Ahh, yes, welcome to Notre Dame... where football and religion sometimes blend.

    My second day at Notre Dame gave me a chance to see what goes on here during the day, as students bustle around to classes. The one thing I noticed most was that the campus itself just seemed very "peaceful". Granted, I was there on two spectacular looking days, where the temperature fluctated from the low 60s to the low 70s, not a cloud in the sky.

    I wandered around, when I got a call from Joe Lindsley, the Editor-in-Chief of The Irish Rover, a CN-sponsored publication at ND. I was already planning on meeting him and others from his staff that night for dinner, and he called to coordinate. But, I realized he was only a few hundred feet away from me on campus, where the College Republicans were holding a "Social Security Bakesale." Classic. They were selling a few cookies each. If you were a student, the set of cookies cost you like $1.50. If you were over 65, they only cost you 30 cents. They were trying to make the point to students how our generation's paychecks are subsidizing the older generation, and that we were having to put so much money into the pot, while they collected only a fraction... thus by the time we reach social security age, their may not be much money left in the pot for us - or at least not enough benefits.

    A great thing about Joe being there was that he was able to introduce me to the College Republicans at Notre Dame, yet another conservative group that ISI could be working with. These students were very motivated and they seemed to be very interested in taking advantage of the resources that I told them ISI could offer them. Later that evening, I met with the students from The Irish Rover. They were fun and very ambitious. They publish about 2 issues per month (which is impressive) and during this meeting they were going over the current issue that just came out that day - and they were doing constructive criticism of every article in that issue - from headlines to stories, etc. I was impressed to say the least.

    Then, a few of the editors got into a Protestant-Catholic debate, which they say happens often on this paper. Hey, when this is the main debate you're having, you're doing pretty good in my book. I had already met Joe several times at CN and ISI functions and he's one of the best students around. In fact, this coming summer, he'll begin his year-long paid internship under Fred Barnes, an internship he earned through his hard work as an editor for a CN paper. It was also great to meet the other students with the Rover at Notre Dame. They are top-notch and Joe is leaving the paper in good hands... even if they may be Protestant hands. They're all still in God's hands.

    On Friday, April 15, I jetted out of town down to Indianapolis for ISI's Annual Conference. But before I did that, I stopped off at the history department and met with the chair of the department and talked to him about the Ph.D. program they offered and potential professors in the department I might be able to work with, considering the areas of history I want to explore further. He offered some good advice and wished me luck in my ventures with ISI and my pursuit for further education... who knows, perhaps even at Notre Dame. I'll leave that up to Providence... but on this ISI trip out of South Bend, all that was on my mind was God, Country, and Notre Dame.

    The Grotto: as nice as this picture looks, it looks and FEELS 100 times more amazing in person. In the top right corner, you can see a statue of Our Lady of Notre Dame. One night, I meditated on the rosary there. And, of course, I lit a candle both nights. Posted by Hello

    A statue of Jesus, with the basilica in the background. However, if you could see this picture in its entirety, Jesus is really directly facing the administration building, commonly referred to as the Golden Dome on the Notre Dame campus. Religious imagery such as this blends with the natural elements of the campus greens. Posted by Hello

    "God Country Notre Dame, the inscription says, "In Glory Everlasting." Posted by Hello

    FOR THE GIPPER: Here I am with the student editors and writers of The Irish Rover, the CN publication at the University of Notre Dame. They put in a lot of hardwork, following in the footsteps of the Gipper. (you figure out which "Gipper" I'm referring to) Posted by Hello

    Tuesday, May 03, 2005

    The Glory of Notre Dame

    On April 13-15, I had the fortunate opportunity of visiting the University of Notre Dame. I have always wanted to visit this campus for many different reasons. First and foremost, love them or hate them, Notre Dame football is legendary. It has created a mystique for their campus. But, more importantly, the school itself is an important Catholic institution in this country. And, it offers one of the most premier educational experiences for any student.

    I ventured onto the campus late on a Wednesday afternoon, to meet with a very active ISI Group there called the "Orestes Brownson Society." This group is spectacular, and they're some pretty hard-core Catholics, I might add. Last fall, they were reading an ISI Book called Common Truths: New Perspectives on Natural Law. The book features about 15 distinct essays, 4 of which were written by Notre Dame professors, including the new President of the University, Rev. John Jenkins. Some of these professors have come in to talk about the chapter in the book they wrote, including Rev. Jenkins, while he was President-elect of the University.

    This semester, this group is reading a non-ISI Book by Hilaire Belloc called "The Great Heresies." This book explores all sorts of heresies, including Arianism, Islamism, Albigensian, and Protestantism. Yes, my friends, Belloc includes Protestants and Muslims as "heretics" of the Christian faith. This will tell you a bit of what these students are like. But, only a bit. They have taken on these works at a very high intellectual level and they seek to keep the University of Notre Dame on firm ground, as the founders of the school would have preferred.

    On Wednesday night, April 13, I met about 7 students from this group at "Legends," a resaturant on the campus, situated right next to the football stadium. When we were done with dinner, I asked the waitress to take our picture. The picture below is what came out, and I can only say that it was Providential that she captured the quote on the wall behind us (which I hadn't even noticed until I saw the picture). It is a quote from one of the founders of the University, who first said it way back in the mid-19th century, that "This University cannot fail to succeed..."

    In a way, this is why ISI exists and why I go around and help these students do what they do... so that the universities cannot fail to succeed.

    I'll have more on Notre Dame in the next blog...

    THIS UNIVERSITY CANNOT FAIL TO SUCCEED... and ISI and the Orestes Brownson Society are ensuring that it won't. Posted by Hello