It's been an emotional and hectic few weeks here at OC Domer HQ. Our daughter graduated from high school a little over a week ago, and there has been a lot of hoopla surrounding that event. "Night of the Stars" awards night, "Senior Reflections" night, the graduation ceremony itself followed by "Grad Night" at a secure, undisclosed location. Visits from both of my parents and my two brothers and their families (it was GREAT to see everyone. I always laugh till my stomach hurts when I see my brothers). Old friends back in town for the graduation. Going away party for our daughter's boyfriend, who has already reported for duty at the United States Air Force Academy, where he will play football. Go Falcons!
So we're collecting our breath around here and trying to catch up on things that have been neglected for the past few weeks. E-mails need to be read and responded to, I need a haircut (badly), paperwork needs to get done, preparations must resume for sending our daughter off to South Bend in just six weeks. And the OC Domer Blog needs to gear up for the 2009 season.
It's been quiet at OC Domer, but not completely dead. I've been tweaking the blogroll a bit, adding the Daily Shillelagh to the roll (TDS is on fire lately!) and dropping a couple of the blogs to the bottom of the list as a prelude to dropping them off the roll altogether due to inactivity. If you have any suggestions for other blogs I should consider adding, leave a comment or drop me an e-mail.
I am also pleased to welcome to OC Domer a new sponsor for the 2009 football season: NotreDameTickets.com. You'll see their ad in the sidebar to the right, just below my Twitter badge. Please check them out for all your Notre Dame football ticket needs (buy-sell-trade). (I'll have more on our new sponsor later).
Despite it still being June, there has been some Notre Dame football news recently. One player has agreed to disagree with Notre Dame's Office of Residence Life and plans to pursue his degree at another University, while Coach Weis has clearly developed some momentum on the recruiting trail with QB Andrew Hendrix, DE Blake Lueders, and DB Lo Wood verbally committing to the Irish in the past week. Welcome aboard men!
So we've been a bit distracted lately (in a good way), but rest assured that Notre Dame football will return to center stage very soon here at OC Domer. Just as soon as I defeat this ridiculous Cap & Trade bill and stop socialized medicine from ruining health care in the United States.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Amidst all the angst over the University's invitation to have President Obama speak at Commencement, there arose a groundswell of popular sentiment against making any donations to Notre Dame until and unless Our Lady's University forsook her evil ways and began adhering more devoutly to the policies and proscriptions of the Catholic Church. The "boycott", which received a lot of gratuitous coverage from a press corps that loves a good inter-family squabble among conservatives, would hit Father Jenkins and the administration where it really hurts - in the wallet! By withholding untold millions of dollars in donations the protesters would bring Notre Dame to its knees and bend her to their orthodox will!
The University announced yesterday that it had exceeded it's very ambitious goal of raising $1.5 Billion dollars through the "Spirit of Notre Dame" campaign two years early. According to the press release:
The University of Notre Dame has surpassed the $1.5 billion goal of the “Spirit of Notre Dame” campaign more than two years ahead of schedule, raising $1.54 billion in gifts and pledges as of June 22.
The largest fund-raising effort in the history of Catholic higher education, “Spirit” was launched publicly May 5, 2007, and will end June 30, 2011. The most comprehensive campaign in Notre Dame’s history, “Spirit” is structured to provide significant financial support to four primary pillars of the University’s life: the undergraduate educational experience, research and graduate studies, diversity and international studies, and Catholic intellectual life.
“We are humbled by the generosity of those who have contributed to the success of the ‘Spirit’ campaign,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president. “Our challenge now is to build upon this success to fully fund all of the priorities. In doing so, we can advance our vision to remain fully committed to our Catholic identity, provide an exceptional undergraduate experience, and become one of the nation’s pre-eminent research universities.”
Congratulations to Father Jenkins and the entire Notre Dame community on reaching this important milestone, which will help the University move into the 21st century with confidence despite the current global economic turmoil.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
It is now an oft-repeated maxim that elections have consequences. And so we arrive at the point where our newly elected President is entitled (indeed, obligated) to nominate someone to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court of the United States of America. It is a momentous occasion and a sobering responsibility. Supreme Court Justices have life tenure and their un-appealable decisions become the supreme law of the land, binding on all Americans for years (or even for generations) to come.
Can there be another job which so obviously demands that it be filled people who are truly the best and the brightest that our nation can offer?
Instead, it looks like we're going to get Sonia Sotomayor, whose primary qualifications for the job appear to be her ethnicity, her sex, and her mainstream liberal views. Given all of President Obama's soaring rhetoric about a post-racial America, I would have hoped that we might actually move this nation forward to Martin Luther King's vision of judging people on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. But apparently such hopes are naive.
The more we learn about Judge Sotomayor, the more obvious it becomes that she represents at once both the best and the worst that our "progressive" affirmative action society has to offer.
Judge Sotomayor freely admits that she gained admission to both Princeton University and the Yale Law School with standardized test scores that were well below average, and she credits affirmative action policies in giving her the opportunity to receive a world-class Ivy League education.
I think most of us would agree that excellent students from disadvantaged backgrounds (of any ethnic heritage) deserve extra consideration in college admissions as they pursue the best educational opportunities.
Unfortunately for Judge Sotomayor, and for the 300 million Americans that will soon be subject to her judicial whims, both she and those Ivy League institutions failed to take proper advantage of that golden opportunity. Although Sotomayor was "successful" at both Princeton and Yale (i.e., she got her degree), it is clear to those who have read her speeches or her judicial opinions that she did not receive at either school an education that most folks would recognize as "Ivy League." Her writing is filled with mistakes. Poor grammar. Improper word choices. Incorrect spelling of names. It is sloppy, and it is wholly unoriginal.
The question we as a nation have to ask ourselves is: When does affirmative action end?
So young Sonia Sotomayor is admitted as an affirmative action applicant to Princeton. That's great. Good for her. While at Princeton is she held to the standards of Princeton? Or is she only expected to perform to some lower "Princeton light" standard because she's a Latina? Do her professors at Princeton push her to bring her performance up to the standards expected of the rest of the student body? Or do they fail her by giving her really good grades for poor writing? Do they actually harm her by indulging in what President Bush called the soft bigotry of low expectations?
Is it really too much to ask that students receiving a degree summa cum laude from Princeton be able to write, not just passably, but well?
And after four years of summa cum laude work at one of the finest universities in America, if not the world, young Sonia Sotomayor scores below average yet again on standardized tests but is admitted to Yale Law School by virtue of affirmative action. Is that what affirmative action is all about? To make sure that top students from Princeton can get into Yale Law School? It seems to me that if you've spent four years on a full scholarship at Princeton you shouldn't be considered disadvantaged any longer. You ought to be able to compete on your own merits, not on your skin color.
While at Yale Sotomayor was an editor of the Yale Law Journal and was also managing editor of the student-run Yale Studies in World Public Order publication. Yet nobody at that prestigious institution ever taught her how to write well, judging by what she produces today.
Is it an indictment of affirmative action generally that a bright young woman can attend two of our most lauded educational institutions and emerge from them without being able to write? Or is it just Princeton and Yale that should be ashamed of the disservice they did to Sonia Sotomayor?
Having obtained the requisite Ivy League qualifications by virtue of affirmative action (and her own hard work, of course) Sotomayor now awaits confirmation to the highest Court in the land. But when the members of the U.S. Senate consider her nomination, will they judge her by the standards for the Court which have been set over the previous two centuries? Or will Judge Sotomayor again be held to some lesser, "Justice-light" standard because she's a minority and a woman? When does affirmative action end? Will she ever be held to the same standards as her non-Latina, non-female peers? Or will she, even at this moment, be treated with understanding and indulgence by a Senate that will view her race and sex as the equivalent of disabilities requiring special consideration?
Or will the U.S. Senate wake up, and realize that this is actually a pretty important moment, that their duties should be undertaken with utmost seriousness? Will the Senate realize that the American people deserve a Supreme Court Justice who is put there by virtue of demonstrating a superior legal intellect and who is considered an outstanding writer? Maybe that is expecting too much.
As I noted above, Sonia Sotomayor embodies the best and the worst of affirmative action. At its best, affirmative action takes exceptional young people from disadvantaged circumstances and gives them a little help as they start out on the path to success. Getting good minority students from disadvantaged backgrounds into excellent colleges is laudable.
At its worst, "affirmative action" gives minorities and other "underrepresented" individuals an undeserved competitive advantage even when those persons are a long, long way from their disadvantaged beginnings. Putting a graduate of Princeton and Yale on the Supreme Court because they are a Latina, when their body of work over a career as a Federal judge clearly demonstrates that they are not up to the standards of that institution is a travesty.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
I don't think I am alone in feeling that Clemson University football fans have long had an unrealistically high opinion of the stature of their program. The typical Clemson fan considers the Tigers to be an "elite" program on par with the likes of an Alabama, or Florida, or Notre Dame, and you'll often hear them droning on and on about the proud history of Clemson football. But when you do a little research you find that this long, storied tradition consists of exactly one national championship (1981). That 1981 Clemson squad is considered by at least one expert to be the 88th best team to have ever played. Notre Dame has ten (10) squads ranked ahead of Clemson's single entry on that Top 200 list, and sixteen (16) overall. Other true traditional powers of course have multiple entries as well. One list of top historical programs (same source) has Clemson at #38, just behind Houston and just ahead of Mizzou. And 37 spots behind #1 Notre Dame. Yet to hear Clemson tell it, they're right there with Texas, Nebraska, and Ohio State.
The point is, the only great tradition attached to Clemson football is their delusional fanbase.
But today we learn that it isn't just Clemson football fans that are delusional. It turns out that the Clemson University administration also has an opinion of Clemson as an academic institution that is a bit, shall we say, out of step with how Clemson is viewed by the rest of academia. According to the story:
Move over Harvard, Yale, Princeton — and every other college. Asked to rate other universities for the influential U.S. News & World Report rankings, Clemson University President James Barker put his institution on top.
Documents released by Clemson show Barker gave his own university a "strong" rating in the peer review survey portion of the rankings. But he gave no other university that high a mark. He ranked half the undergraduate universities in the magazine's survey as "marginal," according to copies of his survey provided to The Associated Press.
The documents did not show precisely how he voted on what schools, but Clemson was the only "strong" vote he gave in the national universities category — which includes famous public institutions like the Universities of California and Virginia as well as the private universities of the Ivy League.
Notwithstanding Clemson's high opinion of itself, it is ranked No. 61 overall in the magazine's latest table of national universities. (The University of Notre Dame is #18).
No great moral to this story, I just thought it was hysterically funny that both Clemson football fan and the Clemson administration share the same inferiority complex.