Junior Fellows Meet James Baker, Advisor to Presidents

He’s in his eighties now and no longer serving as an official advisor to the presidents, but James Baker still knows his way around the halls of power. He’s also still willing to share his experiences in those halls, a fact that worked to the benefit of the Junior Fellows last week, when they had a chance to meet him at a Houston World Affairs Council event and learn from his experiences and insights into the world.

James_Baker_Sign

His insights come from years in Washington, DC, where he served Presidents Ford, Reagan, Bush (the elder), Clinton, and Bush (the younger). Most notably, he served as Ronald Reagan’s Chief of Staff and George H. W. Bush’s Secretary of State, the latter capacity providing him with a starring role the shaping of the New World Order, assembling the coalition that defeated Saddam Hussein in the first Persian Gulf War, and ending the Cold War.

Gorbachev, Bush, Baker

Gorbachev, Bush, Baker

Baker’s speech reflected this broad background, with observations pertaining to every spot on the globe. When asked whether the United States should intervene in Syria, Baker was emphatic: “Consider me uncommitted. We don’t know which opposition group to back and intervention will simply antagonize Russia, whose support we need in Iran.” Baker was equally insistent that the US not allow Iran to have nuclear weapons, noting that such a development would prompt every Middle Eastern country to undertake a similar program, ending any hope of controlling nuclear proliferation. Regarding China, Baker urged cooperation, noting that there is “no better way to find an enemy than to go looking for one” and pointing out that the US will need China’s cooperation on a host of world problems.

James Baker Speaking

James Baker Speaking

Ever-present in Baker’s discussion was his well-known “realism,” the doctrine that US interests should be the guiding interest in the country’s foreign policy. “The US does not have,” observed Baker, “the resources or the support to be the world’s police. We must be guided by our values and principles, but we must first look to our interests in formulating policy.” It was a tutorial in international diplomacy for a group of students interested in politics. “It was a candid and non-partisan speech,” noted Jessica Rodriguez, an officer in the Junior Fellows who is interning for Houston Mayor Anise Parker. “It was great to see the world through the eyes of someone who knows it so well.”

Although best known for his work in the international arena, Baker also knows the political side of things. He managed the political campaigns of Ford, the elder Bush, and Reagan, including Reagan’s record-setting 1984 campaign, which garnered more electoral votes than any other president in history. Ever the realist, however, Baker acknowledged that the Republican Party’s fortunes had declined since the Reagan-Bush years. Under Ike, Reagan, and Bush, Baker observed, the GOP was the party of “effective and efficient government, not the party of ‘no government.’” To re-discover the path to victory and effective leadership, Baker continued, the party will need to eschew the “bitterness and resentment” that seem to characterize the views of party leaders today and, instead, present a “positive and optimistic” plan for the country.

Reagan, Cronkite, Gergen, Meese, Bush, Baker

Reagan, Cronkite, Gergen, Meese, Bush, Baker

For a group of students hoping to make a positive difference in the country, the words were a validation, which Baker followed with an exhortation aimed directly at the students: “You are the future of the country. Get involved. It’s your birthright.”

For these students, however, it’s also a choice, one they hope will lead them to some of the same halls of power that Baker roamed for so many years.

Junior Fellows with James Baker

Junior Fellows with James Baker

 

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Good Month for Junior Fellows’ Alum

It was a good month for Junior Fellows’ and JF alumni.  Megan Bryant, now Megan O’Flaherty, got married.

Nathan and Megan O'Flaherty

Nathan and Megan O’Flaherty

On the academic front, Justin Beiser finished his first year of law school, while Laken Jenkins graduated from South Texas College of Law…

Laken Jenkins at South Texas College of Law

Laken Jenkins at South Texas College of Law

…Cameron Goodman graduated from the Bush School of Public Service…

Goodman graduated from TAMU

Goodman graduated from TAMU

Dana Angello passed her Thesis Defense and officially has a Master’s Degree from the University of Missouri…

Dana Angello

Dana Angello

…Christian Bionat got out of the Army Military Intelligence School, graduating as a Lieutenant, and was promptly hired by a General–Attorney General Greg Abbott, that is.  Bionat will be working as a Field Representative on the Greg Abbott campaign….

Christian Bionat and other Junior Fellows with AG Greg Abbott and Col. MB Etheredge

Christian Bionat and other Junior Fellows with AG Greg Abbott and Col. MB Etheredge

…Of course, Jessica Rodriguez had a pretty good week, too, helping Mayor Annise Parker kick off her Mayoral Re-election Campaign…

Jessica Rodriguez and Mayor Parker

Jessica Rodriguez and Mayor Parker

…Will Phillips graduated and was named an “Outstanding Graduate” in Political Science…

Will Phillips, Father, and Grandfather

Will Phillips, Father, and Grandfather

…and friend of the JFs Deanna Tyler graduated as well…

Deanna Tyler Graduates

Deanna Tyler Graduates

…Brandon Reese may have had the best week of all, passing the Bar Exam and becoming a father!

Christine, Willie, and Brandon Reese

…and the JFs also helped the YMCA and the Political Science Department have a good month as well, raising more than $5,000 which will be split between the two groups.

YMCA_Presentation

Junior Fellows Present Check to YMCA

Junior Fellows Host Charity Football Game Today

The Junior Fellows are once again bringing Republicans and Democrats together to play football, while also raising money for local causes. After six years of hosting the Charity Football Game, the players haven’t gotten a lot better at football, but they have raised significant funds for the Huntsville YMCA and the John Holcombe Scholarship Fund.

This year, the Democrats and Republicans Charity Football Game will take place at high noon today, Saturday, May 4 on upper Pritchett Field.

“We’re continuing the tradition,” noted Junior Fellow Jessica Rodriguez, who is also an officer in the Bearkat Democrats. “We’re bringing more community people in to play this year, but the focus on bringing people together to support local causes continues.”

This year the community is represented by eleven players drawn from various aspects of the community. Employees from Sam Houston State University, the City of Huntsville, the Walker County District Attorney’s Office, the YMCA, Huntsville Memorial Hospital, Vista Academy of Willis, Congressman Kevin Brady, and the Sam Houston Memorial Museum. Students from SHSU and Huntsville ISD will also be participating.

In addition to representing various community groups, the football roster also includes players of divergent ages. Ryan Brim, for example, first participated in the game in 2008, helping as an eight-year old volunteer. Today, as a fourteen-year-old, he’ll actually play. Brim, a self-described “mathlete,” is mild mannered by day….

Ryan Brim, Mild Mannered 8th Grade Trumpet Player

Ryan Brim, Mild Mannered 8th Grade Trumpet Player

But when football rolls around, Brim’s alter-ego emerges…

College students such as Matt Miori and Cameron Goodman will be on hand, along with more of the young-at-heart types: Everett Harrell, Joshua Busa, Kyle DuFour, Russell Martinez, Megan Buro, Mike Yawn, Aron Kulhavy, and Margaret Gulledge.

For Gulledge, it is her first foray into the football world, at least as a player. “Once we pointed out the basic rules of the game, such as which direction to run, she picked it up pretty fast,” added Yawn, “—plus, she’s really good at bringing people together.”

Margaret Making the Catch

Margaret Making the Catch

“Some of us vote Democratic and some vote Republican,” added Gulledge, “but for the last couple of months we’ve put that aside and worked together for a common cause.”

In all, this year’s fundraiser has netted about $5,000, with the players donating the first $1,550. Over the six years the Junior Fellows have hosted the fundraiser, the event has raised some $21,000. “We’d like to thank our sponsors and both the parties,” said Yawn. “Their donations will go to worthy causes, and many of these sponsors are also helping with the game. We are very appreciative.”

“This is a fun event,” noted Gulledge…

Jason Scores

Jason Scores

“but our goal is to make things better for the younger people in the community, through scholarships at the YMCA and SHSU.”

Junior Fellows and Community Leaders Present Check to the YMCA

Junior Fellows and Community Leaders Present Check to the YMCA

Things should also be fun for the youngsters who attend the Charity Football Game. Halftime events include the always-entertaining YMCA Dance, an egg toss, sack races, and wheelbarrow races.

Half-Time Egg Toss

Half-Time Egg Toss

Gift certificates from 5 Loaves Deli will also be given to the winners of the half-time games.

The game begins at noon today on the upper Pritchett Field. It is free and open to the public. For more information contact Mike Yawn at 936-294-1456.

Putting History Into Perspective: Steven Fenberg and Jesse Jones

Will Phillips–

“He was forgotten,” noted Steven Fenberg, author and documentarist, when I asked him to characterize most people’s knowledge of Jesse Jones (1874-1956).  It was an unlikely fate for the man once described as “The Fourth Branch of Government” whose entrepreneurial skills with philanthropic endeavors to help build Houston into the nation’s fourth largest city.  Fenberg wrote about Jones’s achievements in Unprecedented Power: Jesse Jones, Capitalism, and the Common Good, and he spoke to the Junior Fellows about them in the World Affairs Council’s “Conversations About History.”

Unprecedented Power, by Steven Fenberg

Unprecedented Power, by Steven Fenberg

Fenberg described his early interest in Jones, prompted in part when the Houston Endowment asked him to create a chronological history of Jones.  Fenberg was given complete access to the Jones’ papers, which gave him unique insight into Jones’s world and power.  Jones was the Director of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) under both Hoover and Roosevelt, and he used this position to solidify the US economic system by providing loans and bailing out banks.  Remarkably, it is possible that the outcome of World War II could have been different if it weren’t for Jones and his support of industries that were crucial to the war effort.  It was this type of influence that made Jones an advisor to presidents from Wilson to Truman.

Fenberg fielded numerous questions, with his responses hinting at the old adage of history repeating itself.  Fenberg pointed out how the Financial Crisis of 2008 was handled in a similar fashion, via T.A.R.P (Troubled Asset Relief Program) funding, to the RFC funding during the Great Depression.

Junior Fellows with Author Steven Fenberg

Junior Fellows with Author Steven Fenberg

The Junior Fellows greatly enjoyed the opportunity to sit down and talk with Steven Fenberg and would like to thank him for not only his time in coming to visit with us, but would also like to thank the World Affairs Council for facilitating this discussion with this great author!

Jesse Jones and the City He Built

Jesse Jones and the City He Built

Have Law Book, Will Travel: SHSU Holds Court

For pre-law students, SHSU offers numerous pre-law classes, a legal studies minor, and many internship opportunities in law offices.  The most popular of the law-related events, however, is the appearance of the 10th Court of Appeals every spring.  This year, the 10th Court heard four cases on SHSU’s campus, inducing 800 plus students, staff, faculty, and local residents to tune in to cases concerning intoxicated manslaughter, wrongful death, aggravated assault, and capital murder.

The visit to SHSU was prompted by the three Justices on the 10th Court, Tom Gray, Rex Davis, and Al Scoggins, who contacted the Political Science Junior Fellows in 2012 about the possibility of trying cases in Huntsville.  After initial explorations suggested that the logistics were manageable (thank you Ann Broussard, David Epps, Tim Mullings, Amanda Burris, Charles Henson, and Dean Vince Webb!), a partnership was born.

Almost four hundred people attended the first year, with visits by more than a dozen elected officials.  This year, attendance was even greater, pushing the Kerper Courtroom to its capacity.  Accordingly, the Junior Fellows resorted to live video, streaming the proceedings into classrooms, giving additional students and faculty the opportunity to watch the drama unfold live.

Justice Gray Opens the Proceedings

Justice Gray Opens the Proceedings

“This is a rare opportunity,” noted Justin Beiser, a 1L at Texas Tech Law and a Junior Fellow alum.  “We do this now at Texas Tech, but we don’t get as many cases and no prefatory explanations are offered.  It’s particularly impressive that SHSU does it, especially the way the Fellows and the Justices format it.”

The formatting is “lay-person friendly,” with attorneys permitted to turn and address the audience about the facts of the case in their opening remarks.  Such background is not generally permitted in an Appeals hearing, which revolves around procedural or legal questions rather than the facts of the case.  Such facts, however, permit the audience to make sense of the legal issues, which follow.  In all the hearings last about fifty minutes, giving both defense and prosecution time to speak and the Justices time to ask questions.

“This isn’t something that most Universities do,” observed Pre-Law Advisor Mike Yawn.  “We’re fortunate that the attorneys and Justices Scoggins, Davis, and Gray are willing to travel.”

According to Justice Gray, who graduated from SHSU in 1978, it’s all about the education.  “We want as many people as possible to see the process.  We are fortunate to have SHSU in our district…and [the University] has an incredible facility for both students and the general public to watch these proceedings.”

10th Court of Appeals, in Session

10th Court of Appeals, in Session

At times, too many people lined up to see the proceedings.  For the final case, involving capital murder, the courtroom exceeded capacity, leaving students temporarily disappointed…

Kerper Courtroom Overflowing

Kerper Courtroom Overflowing

Fortunately, the Junior Fellows were able to find a makeshift overflow room, and the students were able to watch the livestream.

“It was good to see so many students interested.  As Pre-Law advisor, you like to see students take opportunities.  I’d like to thank those students who did, as well as Will Phillips, Arjenae Walker, Cody Williamson, Jake Rivera, Jessica Rodriguez, Brian King, and Coby Steele for assisting with the event; and Professors Tamara Waggener and Cassandra Atkin-Plunk for involving their students.  Most of all, I’d like to thank the Justices for agreeing to this  arrangement.  It’s a win-win-win for the students, the University, and the community.”

Students with the 10th Court of Appeals Justices

Students with the 10th Court of Appeals Justices

 

 

 

 

Spring Clean: 2013

Wet_Paint_Web

For the seventh consecutive year, the Political Science Junior Fellows have assisted the Huntsville Main Street office with the Spring Clean.  This year was one of the best, with more than sixty people participating from across the community and activities ranging from trash cleanup to painting—all to beautify the downtown area.

Coby Steele and Brian King Working on the Square

Coby Steele and Brian King Working on the Square

The event traditionally occurs in the spring, a forerunner to well-attended spring events: the Folk Festival and the Airing of the Quilts.  Community volunteers chip in, led by the fine staff at Huntsville Main Street.  The staff includes Main Street Director Kim McAuliffe, and the intern.  This semester, the intern is Jessica Rodriguez, who joined the Junior Fellows last semester and has had quite an impact on the community in a short period of time.

Jessica Rodriguez

Jessica Rodriguez

 

McAuliffe and Rodriguez led teams who worked in different parts of the square, some sweeping, some raking, some painting, all making the downtown look a little better.

Junior Fellows Painting

Junior Fellows Painting

Even Mayor Mac Woodward and his wife, Leanne, attended, always willing to offer a helping hand.

Mac and Leanne Woodward

Mac and Leanne Woodward

Every couple of hours, the volunteers took a break to participate in Main Street sponsored raffles, doling out prizes from Fabric Carousels and other community-minded businesses.

Toward the end of the day, the Junior Fellows took a longer break for lunch at the wonderful Farmhouse Eats and Sweets, one of the best restaurants in Huntsville.  The fired pies were the most popular.

Farmhouse Eats & Sweets, Downtown Square

Farmhouse Eats & Sweets, Downtown Square

Following lunch, the Junior Fellows and the other volunteers wrapped up some items and posed for photos…

JFs_Bags_2

…and took a tour of downtown Huntsville, where they saw the Masonic Lodge…

Masonic Lodge

Masonic Lodge

…and the beautiful Roche Building…

Roche Building

Roche Building

It was another great event for Huntsville Main Street and another service to the community they provided.  For more information about Huntsville Main Street, contact Kim McAuliffe at (936) 291-5920.

Group_Photo_bags_Web

Honoring Sam Houston’s Best

For the third consecutive year, the CHSS has honored its top alumni and faculty with a “Wall of Honor” Ceremony.  For 2013, the honorees were FBI Agent Roy Hazelwood; former Dean of CHSS Dick Cording; General Cecil Neely; and former Professor Mattie Bedford.  And for the third consecutive year, the Junior Fellows were privileged to assist the Dean’s Office at this event.

The event was planned by Dean John de Castro and his staff, as well as the CHSS Alumni Advisory Committee, Chaired by Paula Lenz.  The event drew some eighty people including President Gibson and former President Marks.

Former President Bobby Marks (far left), former Dean Dick Cording (Center), and President Dana Gibson (front right)

Former President Bobby Marks (far left), former Dean Dick Cording (Center), and President Dana Gibson (front right)

Following the main ceremony, the Dean’s Office provided snacks and refreshments, perfect for mingling and catching up.

President Gibson with CHSS Alumni Advisory Board Chair, Paula Lenz

President Gibson with CHSS Alumni Advisory Board Chair, Paula Lenz

A dinner for the family and other guests followed, and on a personal note, it was nice for the Junior Fellows to have a chance to learn from SHSU’s administrators, faculty, and alumni.

(L-R): Brenda Lowery, Blake Schockley, Toni Abshire, Belinda Myers, and Ariel Traub

(L-R): Brenda Lowery, Blake Schockley, Toni Abshire, Belinda Myers, and Ariel Traub