Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Regarding my recent silence
A reader emails:
"Come on, Beldar, there has been a mid-term election Surely you must have something to say about this. What has happened to all those pointed, witty Beldar remarks?"
I wasn't much surprised by the election results. I'd said what I had to say about the Texas governor's race back during the primaries, and I didn't think I had anything unique or particularly interesting to write about any of the other races that wasn't already being at least adequately written by others.
And I don't have the urge right now to comment on the daily missteps of the Obama Administration. I'm instead content, at least for this moment, to continue to rely on a general observation I made over a year ago, just when some of those self-deluding Obama voters were beginning to focus more closely on their new emperor's new clothes:
Amateurs. Incompetents. Ideologues. Full-time politicians turned half-wit government officials. Brilliant leftists who, confronted with the real world, are exposed as clueless idiots and children.
It's going to be a long time until January 2013....
The odds are good that the muse will again take me, but there's no telling when.
Thirty years of honestly demeaning myself at the bar
Section 82.037(a) of the Texas Government Code requires that "[e]ach person admitted to practice law shall, before receiving a license, take an oath that the person will: (1) support the constitutions of the United States and this state; (2) honestly demean himself in the practice of law; and (3) discharge the attorney's duty to his client to the best of the attorney's ability."
A lawyer for whom I have boundless respect and affection United States Circuit Judge Carolyn D. King, for whom I had the privilege of clerking administered that oath to me and my co-clerks thirty years ago today.
It's a peculiar oath, containing a subtle but ironic example of the word- and phrase-parsing skills required of lawyers: "demean" most commonly means "to lower in dignity, honor, or standing." Many laymen might experience the hearing or reading of this oath as an "Aha!" moment, as in: "Wow, that explains why all those lawyers have been making asses out of themselves, it's literally a sworn duty!"
But "demean" also means "to conduct or behave (oneself) in a specified manner" as in "demeanor." And here, Texas law specifies the manner to be an "honest" one. I suppose it's theoretically possible to honestly make an ass of oneself, but law usually does not so obviously mock itself or its practitioners. Instead, the qualifier implies a legislative intent to use the word "demean" in this secondary, now near-archaic, sense.
Once that peculiarity has been spotted, properly masticated, and duly resolved, the oath itself becomes clear. Its actual application in the real world over the course of 30 years has proved to be anything but.
Nevertheless, I've done my best to keep it these thirty years, and shall for however many more are permitted me.