03 April 2006

ConSource Connection

We attended the ConSource benefit dinner Friday night. Also in attendance were former Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O'Connor (the featured speaker), Senators Hatch and Bennett from Utah, Senator Smith from Oregon, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, and Randy Quarles, Undersecretary of the Treasury. At our table sat members of the Eccles family--generous benefactors of the University of Utah and BYU whose name graces the U of U football stadium. We quickly disclosed that we attended BYU and after some good-natured razzing, enjoyed an evening of friendly conversation.

Senator Hatch introduced Justice O'Connor. Among the many anecdotes, we were interested to learn that before meeting and marrying John O'Connor, the future Justice O'Connor briefly dated a young William Rehnquist.

Justice O'Connor's life serves as a wonderful example to aspiring jurists--male and female. Suggesting that her accomplishments--or those of any woman--are only an example to other women is a shibboleth, limiting the scope of their influence and impact of their achievements. We were struck by the sheer volume of Justice O'Connors accolades. What she has done would be impressive for any person--male or female. She isn't just "good for a girl," she is a powerhouse.

She gave a strong speech in favor of ConSource's effort to "democratize" Constitutional documents by making them available to everyone. Though she just turned seventy-six, her age clearly has not slowed her mind or wit as she delivered one-liners with ease. She spoke at length about Justice Warren Berger. He gave up his post as Chief Justice to lead a commission commemorating the bicentennial of the Constitution. A strict constructionist (other than Roe v. Wade), he argued for the importance of Constitutional structures like separation of powers and checks and balances. His love of the Constitution inspired Justice O'Connor and she in turn argued forcefully for the importance of teaching the American founding in public schools. She suggested, and we agree, that ConSource presents an excellent opportunity to expand national knowledge of the Constitution.

Many criticize Justice O'Connor for her "case by case" approach to Supreme Court rulings. Justice Scalia has been particularly unforgiving in his assesment of her rulings which he characterizes as inconsistent and contradictory. The Wall Street Journal took to calling her a "walking amendment." This is no doubt due, in part, to her "swing vote" status on the Court and her unpredictability in decision. Still others appreciate the individualized way in which she approaches each case. Every case is different, they reason, and therefore requires new interpretations of the law which do not necessarily follow precedent.

Following her address we met Justice O'Connor and thanked her for her rousing speech. She did not have time to field any questions--including ours. There are few times when someone meets or exceeds expectations. This was one of those rare moments. The same was also true of Elder Oaks, whom we had not before met.

Thanks and congratulations to Matt Berry who invited us to this event. Mr. Berry is one of the original Founders of ConSource and plays an important role in its continued success.

21 comments:

Raisin said...

Jake, do you have any thoughts on global warming? I mean, I agree that Jesus or some other deity will probably come save us before we really have to worry about it, but there seems to be a lot of liberals and members of the kooky evidence-based community that have been raising the alarm lately. What do members of the inspired religious right think? Are they going to take a wise steward approach, or a screw-it-cause-its-all-gonna-burn-anyway approach? Based off of their approach of applying Christian principles to foreign policy (is my cheek big enough for this tongue?) we should all feel comfortable knowing that power sits in competent hands.

morgan said...

My thoughts on global warming are most eloquently summarized by The Day After Tomorrow. "Have you ever seen the air so clear?"

PS Beware of the wolves.

Raisin in Grape Clothing said...

I haven't seen the movie, so I don't really know what your thoughts are on global warming. Back in high school we debated renewable energy policy, and back then you could find a wealth of opinions on both sides of the global warming debate. That debate has become increasingly one-sided, although the actual outcome is anything but certain. Better safe than sorry, and I hope America has the courage to act.

And thank you for warning us to beware the wolves. I imagine you are especially referring to wolves in sheeps' clothing. So what do wolves in sheeps' clothing look like? Well, they look like the sheep, right? They probably talk all day long about their belief in Christ, their dedication to family values, their compassionate nature and their opposition to evil. Maybe they manage to link their own agendas to the sheeps' agenda in such a way that the sheep actually start to think that the wolves' agenda is in fact their agenda, and has been from the start. In this way, the wolves' "consume" the sheep. The sheep are still sheep, but the wolves draw support for their non-sheep agenda with the mis-guided consent of the sheep. Or maybe that's not what you meant at all. :) In any case, wolves are probably just what we all call ideas and opinions that threaten our own "flock".

morgan said...

Actually the only wolves I was warning about were the killer wolves that LEAP out of hatchways and corridors to attack humans. If you have not seen the movie than obviously the reference would be meaningless.

Raisin said...

My bad. I need to watch more movies.

Laura Wright said...

Hey, read State of Fear by Michael Crichton and let me know what you think of global warming when you finish it. Very interesting....

raisin said...

Didn't he write about an island populated by genetically engineered dinosaurs and an alien orb found at the bottom of the ocean that manifests individuals' thoughts in reality? Maybe there are better sources.

Anonymous said...

Although according the movies based loosely on his books, if you know gymnastics you can avoid all dinosaurs

Laura Wright said...

Ok, it is true that Michael Crichton is a somewhat ENTERTAINING author (although you cannot judge him by the movies made off his books, and frankly, the man is a multi-millionaire - he must know SOMETHING!!!)..but he actually provided a 20 page bibliography at the end of the book which lists his research sources (ranging from articles written by university professors from MIT, UC-Berkeley, Harvard, Cambridge, and Duke, to reports on "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change") , as well as an appendix titled "Why Politicized Science is Dangerous". The man obviously researched the heck out of his topic, and this book is his way of making a statement on global warming. THAT is what I found interesting... Don't knock it until you've read it. It may help you in your "search for enlightenment". :~)

Laura Wright said...

Oh, by way of a P.S....
I would like to know what you think of the ideas Crichton states in his appendix to this book. In a purely book-discussion-like manner. Is that allowed on this blog?

raisin said...

Laura, apparently this book had a strong impact on your opinion about global warming. So let me ask you in a non-challenging and non-threatening way- Based on your reading, do you feel that global warming is not happening, not as big of a threat as many are claiming, or that we simply do not know what impact humans are having on global temperatures? Is there nothing to be concerned about?

Laura Wright said...

raisin-
first of all, the book did not change my opinion on global warming in the slightest. I only said that I found it interesting. I am interested in what others think of his points as well. I enjoy discussing books. (as well as ideas...that is why I comment on here fairly frequently.)
Now, my thoughts on global warming. I am certain that the human race is having some negative effects on the environment, including global temperatures. However, I can't help but seriously question the doomsday reports that we get all the time. This is an issue that is so easily exploited by "green groups" who have their own agendas and stand to benefit, either financially or otherwise, by all the uproar. So I guess you could say that I think there is something to be concerned about, but people should be careful believing everything that they hear. And I would love to see some research done on this subject by a truly agenda-less group of scientists. Meanwhile, I try to use fewer petroleum based products (sold my SUV and got a mini-van), non-aerosol hairspray, I recycle everything I can, and cross my fingers that indeed, my diety will arrive in time to save us all. (lol)
Truly, I am more concerned that we are going to run out of oil. I hope they can come up with some other energy source, because I hate depending on mid-Eastern countries to get my kids to school.

Raisin said...

Well that seems like a pretty measured approach to me. I agree with you that the oil supply is a serious question and a wise America would do everything in its power to develop alternative energies. I had no reason to believe that the Bush administration would be the embarassment and disaster it is today back when Bush originally ran for office, and as a young (naive and idealogical... pawn of a liberal university, Jake) and non-partisan voter I weighed robotic Al Gore against bumpkin Bush. Granted, talk is cheap, but in the debates both were asked about the hot-button energy crisis. Bush wanted to drill in Alaska. Gore wanted to subsidize R & D in renewables and alternatives. Who knows if he would have made a good president (could he have done any worse?) but I liked the idea to look a little farther down the path. I believe in new technologies and the power of entrepreneurs to provide solutions for our world. However, as any venture capitalist will tell you, if there is no market for a product then it doesn't matter how good an idea is. And if the development of the market is obscure and unpredictable, then captial will not want to be tied up in R & D whose return is beyond the typical horizon of a VC. In some ways oil has to fail before you will see a breakthrough because a new market will have to be created for investors to make calculated bets on what new standards, distribution, and regulations will exist. Private companies will provide answers and services, but in order to be ahead of the curve our nation really should make R & D a top priority. Governments don't have to operate profitably and can afford to make bad investments on energy policies (see Occupation of Iraq). Many technologies already exist, and yet the market is thin enough still because oil really isn't that expensive yet. I don't know what type of tensions and problems will arise as a result of oil shortages in the future, but I favor policies that look to ease the transition and put American companies at the forefront of the development. The problem is that oil companies really do have a lot of influence in our goverment and anyone who thinks that is just paranoia and conspiracy talk is living in a bogus reality. Exxon just passed Wal-Mart as the largest company and I think there are 3 or 4 other oil companies in the top ten. Don't get me wrong; oil companies offer a valuable service and there is nothing wrong with making a buck. But status quo powers don't have the same incentive to change the market they make their money off of. And are politicians really going to be influenced by the massive lobbying dollars of the Americans for Hydrogen Power? You question the agendas of scientists when it comes to global warming. I have no doubt that the "green" agenda would like to use this issue to its advantage. I also have no doubt that the largest companies in the world have every reason to discredit some of these findings. I guess my opinion is that the fragmented and diverse scientific community is difficult to influence with any cohesive agenda unless findings are consistent and the likelihood of an agenda or bias existing in research is much more likely on the side of those who have the most to loose. What do you think?

morgan said...

Well said Raisin.

Laura Wright said...

I wrote a lengthy reply to your post, raisin, and I thought it landed on here, but apparently I did something wrong. Sorry. The gyst of it is this:
I agree with your analysis.
I think if you look to where the research funding is coming from, then you will find the agenda bias.
And, I have always thought that the war in Iraq had more to do with oil than with WMD or terrorism. But that's just my opinion.

morgan said...

This link may summarize what Laura was trying to get at with her Michael Crichton reference. I think it may be from a British source so beware ;)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2006/04/09/do0907.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/04/09/ixworld.html

raisin said...

Jake, I would be interested to read an entry in your blog that outlines what you think you got right and what you think you got wrong in the political positions you have taken over the past couple of years. You and I have discussed politics for some time now, and quite frankly, I believe many of your positions have proven to be complete rubbish. Better said, I believe much of the propoganda you have repeated has proven to be complete rubbish. What should the Republicans be proud of in the direction they have taken America in the past few years? What should the religious right claim as a validation of their politics? Why would you encourage America to vote "conservative" in the coming elections? What have you learned? Has your attitude changed at all on anything? It's not about being right or wrong to begin with- I understand if you want to avoid that discussion- but rather what we have learned.

raisin, part 2 said...

And for those of you who want to rush to Jake's defense, let me preempt you by saying that although I disagree with Jake's politics and I feel reality has eroded his position, I consider him to be a person of high integrity and intelligence. I think we both understand that religion and politics occupy a seperate arena that shouldn't damage friendship or diminish respect.

Laura Wright said...

My very best friend (next to my sisters and my husband) is a Democrat. We have a great time discussing things!

Anonymous said...

Jake... this has nothing to do with global warming but we are wondering what your thoughts are on the immigration debate?

Sameer said...

Jake! It's your old friend Sameer from high school. I'm glad to see you're so politically active. I have to respectfully disagree with your reasoning however. Richard's article presents one of the worst arguments I’ve ever heard. If anything, big oil companies are influencing our energy policy, not some scientists who'd benefit from federal research grants. I also think that a one degree temperature rise is significant when it’s viewed in the right context. Over the past several centuries prior to the last, the temperature hadn’t risen one degree. And now, all of a sudden, it rises one degree at the same time we go through an industrial revolution. Coincidence? I think not, my friend. I’m not influenced by the so called biased liberal media. I look at issues and come to my own conclusion. Unfortunately, I think some of us come to our conclusions as a matter of convenience, and not because they actually make sense. Hit me up sometime.

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