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    Tuesday, May 23, 2006

    600 attend ISI debate at Oregon State

    On May 22, about 600 students, faculty, and local observers attended ISI's Cicero's Podium debate series event at Oregon State University. The debate was on the topic, "Evolution vs. Intelligent Design: Scientific Assumptions in a Free Society." Dr. Michael Ruse of Florida State University defended the theory of evolution, while Dr. Cornelius Hunter of Biola University defended the intelligent design position.

    I was at the event, and after the ISI 50th anniversary gala in 2003 held at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., I think this was the second most highly attended ISI event EVER. That means it might have been the most highly attended ISI event on a college campus. IMPRESSIVE. The Socratic Club at OSU was the host group on campus, while many other ISI students "got the word out" as well and attended the debate.

    I really enjoy this debate series because it is just that - a debate. Both sides are presented and the entire audience is challenged to listen to both sides of a debate and come to their own conclusions. A great Q&A typically follows, as it did at OSU.

    The Daily Baromoter at OSU, which is the main daily paper, published a great article about the event on the following day, which appeared on the front page as the leading story.

    Friday, May 05, 2006

    Clarence Thomas Addresses ISI's Dinner for Western Civilization in Delaware

    On Thursday, May 4th, Clarence Thomas addressed ISI's Dinner for Western Civilization in Wilmington, Delaware - only about 6 blocks from my apartment. Pretty cool.

    We had over 300 people in attendance - most were donors, but the dinner also included about 40 ISI Faculty Associates and 30 student Campus Representatives, all of which came into the Brandywine Valley from all over the country to take part in this truly historic event. Notable people were also in the crowd, including Ed Feulner, who is Chairman of the Heritage Foundation and former Chairman of ISI's Board of Trustees. Also, former Attorney General, Ed Meese, was there. (I got to shake his hand!)

    The day after the event I drove one of ISI's major donors back to the train station - he wanted to take the train back to Maine. He has been involved with ISI since the beginning and he told me the event the night before was one that all of the people who attended would "never forget."

    He was right. Clarence Thomas was amazing - and he spent at least his first five minutes paying tribute to Ed Meese. Ronald Reagan once said, "If Ed Meese is not a good man, then there are no good men." Justice Thomas pretty much said some of the same. Finally, he got into his speech where he talked about the role of the judge and the judiciary and his own judicial approach. He claimed he didn't have a particular approach (strict constructionist, originalist, etc.) He said, he just tries to get it as close to what the Constitution says because that is the supreme document of the land.

    After about 20 minutes, he opened the floor to questions from the audience (this was completely HIS idea). For about 30 more minutes, he took some really great questions. My friend and Oregon State Campus Representative, Nathanael Blake, asked one of the best questions (and the last question) of the night. He quoted Whittaker Chambers and asked if the West was "worth saving." He also asked if we in the West had "lost hope" and if that was important to retaining the faith that is so critical to Western Civilization.

    Clarence Thomas answered by saying that if we are going to prosper in American and the West, than "we must have hope." He continued, "If a black man in the South in the early twentieth century had hope, than it is easy for me to have hope today." This was moving - as was his entire speech and the lengthy, detailed, and straight from the heart answers he gave to every question. Everyone I talked to during the reception that followed the dinner told me that they were completely impressed. They came to the dinner expecting a phenomenal time and they left with their expectations surpassed.

    Clarence Thomas - WOW.

    Tuesday, May 02, 2006

    ISI debate on Warrentless Spying at Wheaton College (MA)

    On April 30, I had a heck of a day traveling back to the east coast. After a few hours delayed in the Chicago Midway airport, which was where my connecting flight took off from, I finally made it to my final destination: Providence, Rhode Island... about 3 hours later than expected. Oh well, that's how it is sometimes. Air travel can either be really convenient, or really inconvenient. Some days are better than others. My suggestion: take earlier flights. The earlier in the day is usually better.

    Anyways, I was traveling to Providence because ISI was holding a Cicero's Podium debate series at Wheaton College, which is in Massachussetts, but only 30 minutes from Providence, RI. So, we usually stay in Providence. This debate was between Jon Miller of The National Review and David Cole, of The Nation and also a professor of law at Georgetown University. The topic was, "Can a Free Society Tolerate Warrantless Spying," and focused mostly on the current debate on the NSA program. It was mostly very good.

    I have to give it up for our Campus Representatives at Wheaton College, who run the Wheaton College Conservatives Club: Nick Walton and Dan Mardis. These guys are awesome. On such a Leftist campus, they get the conservative students involved and they turn out a bigger crowd than most could. We had over 150 at the debate. Only about 1500 students even go to the school, so that's turning out about 10% of the student body.

    Also, I have to praise Teddy Sifert of Thomas More College for bringing about 8 students down (that's a 2 hour drive!) Teddy and the gang from TMC are what I have dubbed, the "ISI road warriors." They travel like this to so many events with an hour or two drive of Merrimack, NH. They even stayed a few extra hours to hang out with us afterwards at Dave & Buster's in Providence, RI. It was a lot of fun. These debates stimulate discussion and help to engage students in good debate, not to mention good fellowship.

    On Tuesday morning, Matt and I from ISI took the train back (Chad left way earlier than we could even imagine). After a 4 and a half hour train ride and 16 days on the road, I went right to ISI to not only pick up my truck and drive it back to my apartment, but also to complete my monthly expense report. Yep, 16 days on the road and the first place I went back to was work. I guess I like this job.