Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Thanksgiving and Separation of Church and State

Over at Anchor Rising I've blogged about Thanksgiving, cribbing extensively from Paul Johnson's excellent A History of the American People. Time for me to hit the road (with 30-40 million other Americans, ugh). Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Reforming Academia

The Wall Street Journal's John Fund wrote yesterday about bringing "intellectual diversity" to America's campi. He cites the study by Klein and Stern, the concept of academia's problem of groupthink, (both previously mentioned here and here, respectively) as well as David Horowitz's work. Fund believes a promising reform idea would be in the use of tuition vouchers, which is being tried in Colorado (a target state of Horowitz and his Academic Bill of Rights)
Starting next year, the state will start shifting its higher-ed dollars from direct payments to universities to vouchers that will go directly to students. The idea is hardly radical. It is taken from the GI Bill of Rights, which is widely credited with giving returning veterans a chance at college through a program that won universal acclaim.

Debating such reforms is perfectly legitimate given that about half of the budget of public university systems come from taxpayers. Private universities derive about 35% of their budgets from public money, largely research grants. In addition, much of the student loan and grant money used to pay college tuition flows from taxpayer sources.

Richard Vedder, an economist at Ohio University, argues that its time to scale back taxpayer subsidies to universities and move towards a voucher plan so that schools would have to compete for students as paying customers. That might also end the punishing double-digit tuition increases many schools have been imposing. Our colleges and universities would benefit not only from some intellectual diversity, but also some diversity and competition in how they pay their bills and how students and taxpayers hold them to account.
Obviously, the expected result would be students choosing schools that offer intellectual diversity. There is a chance that this could lead to a sort of academic polarization (swing students, anyone?), but I expect that quality of education would still override any desire to slip comfortably into an ideological cocoon. This plan does have appeal and it should come as no surprise that those at the Wall Street Journal would favor such a market-based proposal. As I've said before, I don't have much confidence that the academy can reform itself. Perhaps it is time to hit them where it hurts to spur on such internal soul-searching.

Meanwhile, there are some movements within the grounds of the academy to reform the system. First are the Horowitz-supported Students for Academic Freedom and the independent National Association of Scholars, two organizations that strive for more of Fund's intellectual diversity. For example, Students at Columbia have had enough of persistent anti-Israel polemics on campus and are fighting back (though the offending professors won't go quietly). Finally, conservative campus newspapers are popping up everywhere...even at Brown!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Backlash Justified ...but Within Reason, Please

Cathy Young, a columnist for the Boston Globe, has offered an interesting piece over at Reason. She makes mention of the controversy surrounding Michelle Malkin's book,Defense of Internment: The Case for "Racial Profiling" in World War II and the War on Terror, and insightfully portrays, I believe, Malkin's motivation for writing the book:
She hopes that if Americans can be persuaded to get over the Japanese internment guilt complex, the profiling of Arab Americans and Muslims will become more acceptable.
Young also mentions Anne Coulter's book, Treason, an "apologia for anti-communist witch hunts," specifically the McCarthy era. I have yet to read either book, but Young does offer something that all of us should keep in mind:
The left's obsession with America's allegedly unique evilness, and in particular with real or imagined racism, has prompted a fully justified backlash. But that backlash can morph into an ugly and disturbing mind-set -- one that regards all efforts to confront America's past wrongs as the province of sissy liberals and wild-eyed lefties.
In an age of increasing hyperbole, we should all attempt to be a bit more measured in our arguments. Vilification is just as likely to call into question one's own beliefs as it is those of the vilified.

Friday, November 19, 2004

More on Academic Bias

As I wrote about yesterday, a new study detailing bias within the academy has come out. Stanley Kurtz has also taken notice and points to the New York Times article (by John Tierney) on the topic. Tierney's piece includes an especially illustrative, and egregious, quote by a liberal professor
One theory for the scarcity of Republican professors is that conservatives are simply not that interested in academic careers. A Democrat on the Berkeley faculty, George P. Lakoff, who teaches linguistics and is the author of "Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think," said that liberals choose academic fields that fit their world views. "Unlike conservatives," he said, "they believe in working for the public good and social justice, as well as knowledge and art for their own sake, which are what the humanities and social sciences are about."
This simply illustrates the kind of echo chamber that has been written about before and that is also alluded to within Tierney's piece
Martin Trow, an emeritus professor of public policy at Berkeley who was chairman of the faculty senate and director of the Center for Studies in Higher Education, said that professors tried not to discriminate in hiring based on politics, but that their perspective could be warped because so many colleagues shared their ideology.

"Their view comes to be seen not as a political preference but what decent, intelligent human beings believe," said Dr. Trow, who calls himself a conservative. "Debate is stifled, and conservatives either go in the closet or get to be seen as slightly kooky. So if a committee is trying to decide between three well-qualified candidates, it may exclude the conservative because he seems like someone who has poor judgment."
Kurtz doesn't see things getting any better, though he does mention David Horowitz's Academic Bill of Rights and other possible solutions. However, legislating change will prove marginal at best. I agree with Kurtz that it is ultimately up to the institutions to effect change. Neither of us hold out much hope for that. Hence, Kurtz's idea of either establishing small "conservative student think tanks" within universities (he mentions Robert George's James Madison Program at Princeton University) or the outright creation of new institutions (he mentions Ave Maria College) may provide the only hope for academic equality.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Geraghty nails it for me regarding Andrew Sullivan

I've not mentioned Andrew Sullivan for some time now as I have come to believe that he has become intellectually unstable. Jim Geraghty of NRO's The Kerry Spot summed it up best
By the way, some left-of-center friends who saw Sullivan's appearance on the season finale of Bill Maher's HBO show were up in arms recently, calling Sully a far-right conservative. I pointed out that label is at least not always accurate, as he recently called me 'desperate and unconvincing.'
I'm sure many Kerry Spot readers who read Sullivan during this campaign season would conclude that he was, when decision time came, a loud anti-Bush lefty. The lesson? Where one places him on the political spectrum depends on when you read or hear him and what he's writing or talking about.
Exactly. Further, this will be the last mention of Mr. Sullivan on this blog.

More Proof of the Liberal Bias in Academia

Daniel Klein and Charlotta Stern of the National Association of Scholars have just published a report (pdf format) entitled "How Politically Diverse Are the Social Sciences and Humanities?: Survey Evidence from Six Fields." The abstract of the article states:
In Spring 2003, a large-scale survey of American academics was conducted using academic association membership lists from six fields: Anthropology, Economics, History, Philosophy (political and legal), Political Science, and Sociology. This paper focuses on one question: To which political party have the candidates you've voted for in the past ten years mostly belonged? The question was answered by 96.4 percent of academic respondents. The results show that the faculty is heavily skewed towards voting Democratic. The most lopsided fields surveyed are Anthropology with a D to R ratio of 30.2 to 1, and Sociology with 28.0 to 1. The least lopsided is Economics with 3.0 to 1. After Economics, the least lopsided is Political Science with 6.7 to 1. The average of the six ratios by field is about 15 to 1. Our analysis and related research suggest that for the the social sciences and humanities overall, a "one-big-pool" ratio of 7 to 1 is a safe lower-bound estimate, and 8 to 1 or 9 to 1 are reasonable point estimate. Thus, the social sciences and humanities are dominated by Democrats. There is little ideological diversity. We discuss Stephen Balch's "property rights" proposal to help remedy the situation.
My own field, History, had a 9.5 to 1 ratio of Democrat to Republican. Depressing, huh? Overall, the authors believe it is safe to assume a 9:1 or 8:1 Democrat:Republican ratio. However, their deeper analyis, based on replies to 18 policy question, indicates that of those who voted Republican, there it is highly likely that they are more liberal than a generic Republican would be. As such
Further, the 18 policy questions of the survey--not analyzed in the present paper--showed that there is rather little heterogeneity of opinion among Democrats, that the Green voters are essentially like Democrats. Thus the "tent" of the Left on campus is not a big tent, but a rather narrow tent.

The policy questions showed more significantly heterogeneity under the Republican tent. Moreover, the Libertarians have grounds for saying that most campus Republicans are not so different than Democrats. As small as the percentage of non-Left voices are, therefore, they become even smaller when separated into their own camps, such as, traditionalist, neo-conservative, and classical liberal/libertarian. Rather than Left v. Right, it makes more sense to view the campus landscape as composed of a very dominant Left--with some heterogeneity, of course, but less than one migh expect--and a heroic fringe of several different non-Left voices, each almost infinitesimal, who on certain issues join together but rarely sustain a faculty-led program. (p. 15-16)
I get the feeling that I have unconsciously sought the fringe. How else to explain a conservative living in Rhode Island seeking an MA in History? Fight the Power!

Delighting in a pithy comment

Well, if it's Thursday, that means another column by Peggy Noonan. This one is worth reading for its "lets-step-back-and-take-a-breath" tone, but her observation about Condaleeza Rice was striking to me
She is a good person; she has experience and accomplishments; she is stable, hardworking and sophisticated. She is also--this is breathtaking, still--a young black woman raised to the position first held by Thomas Jefferson.
Let that soak in for a second. It could be considered irony to some. I prefer to look at it as another example of the promises of this country being fulfilled.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Sometimes, History does repeat

Though I think the saying "history repeats" oversimplifies the comparison between current events and past events, sometimes current events are similar to historical. According to this story
The president declared victory over a year ago, but terrorists continue to pick off U.S. troops and even American civilians at the rate of three per day.

The maniacal dictator may be long gone, but his hard-core followers continue to wreak havoc across the land, with the interim government seemingly powerless to stop the mayhem.

Back home, the press takes an increasingly pessimistic tone, with some of the most prominent news organs pronouncing the U.S.'s postwar strategy an abject failure.

Iraq 2004? Not exactly.

Try Germany 1946, in the first year after World War II.
The source is Oliver North, but read the rest of the article for the details. Too often, the critics of the war have acted as if Iraq has somehow stood apart from history, that somehow things should have gone easily. This is all the more ironic as many of the same who profess amazement and dismay at the problems in Iraq are often those who predicted dire consequences for undertaking the task in the first place. Finally, when they do call on history, it is inevitably to compare current events to past American failures (Vietnam) and not its successes (Japan, Germany, etc.).

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Bushes on History


Somehow, I missed this earlier. Regardless, the American Heritage magazine interviewed the President and First Lady about their perspectives on history. To me, the following two questions provoked insight and "nuance" that his detractors would have us believe the President does not have:
Question: When you look at American heroes and heroines, some people think they should all be knights in shining armor. But we know that Benjamin Franklin, for example, who did so many great things, didn’t always have a perfect life. Do you think it’s better for us to meet historical figures on a pedestal or see them as they are?

Mrs. Bush: I think it’s better to see people as a whole—

The President: Yes.

Mrs. Bush: Their brilliance and their achievements along with their faults, not in a revisionist sense where you go back and dig up things that you might not know about people, but—

The President: It’s one thing to be factual about a person, but it’s another thing to imply or assume in order to denigrate their contributions. I agree it’s very important to look at the whole, but I also think we should be confident enough about our nation and what we stand for not to denigrate achievement. We should focus on success. Kids need to see that success is possible. Children learning history have to say, “Gosh, maybe I can do that too.” People need to aspire to an ideal, without being Pollyanna-ish about the life of the person.

Question: Mrs. Bush, how should we teach our nation’s history to an increasingly diverse population? As a former teacher, how do you connect with kids who maybe weren’t even born here?

The President: One thing—I’m going to start, and then you can get in here because I feel strongly about this—I’m sure other Presidents have been asked about how we don’t seem to have things in common. That question has been asked throughout our history. There have been other times when waves of immigrants began to change the face of America. Yet what didn’t change were the ideals that united the country. That’s what is essential for kids to learn, that there are common ideals applicable to everybody, regardless of race or religion, that become the principles that bind us together, that make us unique, so that no matter how we diversify, the principles that unite us don’t change. And it says right there on the Presidential Seal, E Pluribus Unum. I didn’t write that. That was here a long time before me. “Out of Many, One.” And that needs to be taught. And we never should lose sight of it, because that is what makes us strong.

Mrs. Bush: And on the other hand, all heritages of all of our citizens, of every immigrant group that has come to the United States, have made our country rich. Each of those heritages is also something to study and know about. I was just reading about the Mayan culture. Probably a lot of Hispanics who are here have some Mayan ancestry. That’s a very interesting heritage for everyone to study with the idea that we are all one.

The President: Yes, in the world in which we live, it is essential that the American ideal be explained to people around the world. If you’re a Muslim living in America, you’re just as free as a Methodist. You’re just as free to succeed. You’re just as free to live a life of peace. You’re just as free to send your kids to school. We honor you just as much. We honor your religion. We honor your individual rights. We honor your dignity just as much as we honor anyone else’s. And that ideal is a powerful message to people who live in areas of the world that lack freedom, that lack a unifying principle.

Young kids need to learn about heroes, heroes from all walks of life. One of the things I try to do when I travel the country is point out acts of generosity and compassion done by average citizens and hold them up as models that we ought to emulate. There are ways to enrich history by setting out examples where youngsters will say, “Gosh, what an exciting figure that person is.”
I couldn't have said it better myself.

Rhode Island Education Progress Numbers

I attended a meeting last night at my local elementary school in which data was presented detailing where the school stood with regards to standardized testing for school accountability as mandated by the State and Federal governments. While I may find the specific numbers for my children's school more germane, I realize that there is more general interest in the statewide numbers. These have yet to be publicized, so I guess you could call this a bit of a scoop. For a more comprehensive breakdown, please go here.

The test results here are only for 4th graders statewide and cover Math and English Language Arts (ELA). There is an established standard that all students are supposed to meet. The levels of achievement are measured against that standard for each student and then the percentage of students at each level are calculated.

First, the ELA numbers for the state. The numbers below are for specific skills. In total, 89% achieved the overall standard for READING and 81% achieved the overall standard for WRITING.

READING - Basic Understanding (Students must demonstrated the ability to comprehend a variety of materials of varying length and complexity)

Achieved the Standard with Honors - 16%
Achieved the Standard - 57%
Nearly Achieved the Standard - 14%
Below the Standard - 11%
Little Evidence of Achievment - 0%
TOTAL Achieved Standard - 73%

READING - Analysis and Interpretation (Students must demonstrate the ability to analyze and interpret what they read in the process of becoming critical readers)

Achieved the Standard with Honors - 7%
Achieved the Standard - 55%
Nearly Achieved the Standard - 24%
Below the Standard - 11%
Little Evidence of Achievment - 1%
TOTAL Achieved Standard - 62%

WRITING - Effectiveness (Students must demonstrate the ability to write effectively in a variety of formats for a variety of purposes, audiences and contexts)

Achieved the Standard with Honors - 19%
Achieved the Standard - 56%
Nearly Achieved the Standard - 12%
Below the Standard - 10%
Little Evidence of Achievment - 1%
TOTAL Achieved Standard - 75%

WRITING - Conventions (Students learn to master writing conventions. Writing conventions include spelling, punctuation, grammar and other conventions associated with forms of written text.)

Achieved the Standard with Honors - 5%
Achieved the Standard - 54%
Nearly Achieved the Standard - 21%
Below the Standard - 18%
Little Evidence of Achievment - 0%
TOTAL Achieved Standard - 59%


Second are the Math numbers for the state. The numbers below are for specific skills. In total, 56% achieved the overall standard for MATH.

MATH - Skills (The student accomplishes tasks by using mathematical skills effectively, including the computation and symbol manipulation skills of arithmetic and algebra as well as geometric and graphical skills)

Achieved the Standard with Honors - 26%
Achieved the Standard - 44%
Nearly Achieved the Standard - 19%
Below the Standard - 9%
Little Evidence of Achievment - 0%
TOTAL Achieved Standard - 70%

MATH - Concepts (The student uses concepts of Number and Operation, Geometry and Measurement, Function and Algebra, and Statistics and Probability to solve problems and explains those concepts to others in different ways)

Achieved the Standard with Honors - 7%
Achieved the Standard - 37%
Nearly Achieved the Standard - 33%
Below the Standard - 20%
Little Evidence of Achievment - 1%
TOTAL Achieved Standard - 44%

MATH - Problem Solving (Explanation not legible)

Achieved the Standard with Honors - 14%
Achieved the Standard - 24%
Nearly Achieved the Standard - 18%
Below the Standard - 34%
Little Evidence of Achievment - 8%
TOTAL Achieved Standard - 38%

For more analysis, please go over to Anchor Rising.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Looking Back and Forward

Peggy Noonan offers some very good, pragmatic reasons as to why Bush won and Victor Hanson gives us a sobering look at what the President now faces.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Veteran's Day Comment on Fallujah from an Active Soldier

On Veteran's Day, I could think of nothing more appropriate than to make my first post of the day one that calls attention to some speculation by an active member of the US Army. The blogger 2Slick, in a post titled I Can Finally Say It, theorizes that perhaps Fallujah may not have been an unforseen mess, after all:
For the past several months, the media spin machine has taken much pleasure in writing about how U.S. forces have 'allowed Fallujah to fall into the hands of the insurgents' and that Fallujah is a 'no-go zone' and that Fallujah is just 'one big black eye on the face of the Coalition effort.' It's very easy to spin it that way (which is why they do it), but allow me to offer a different perspective.

What if the Coalition planners decided to let them set up a 'safe' operations center that would, over time, develop such an appeal to all enemies of the coalition, that local insurgents and foreign extremists alike would come running from all parts of Iraq to 'consolidate and organize?' Sort of like grabbing a megaphone and shouting 'Attention all ye Ba'athists and Islamofascists!!! Safe area in Fallujah!!! Bring your friends!!! Anyone interested in killing children and/or driving car bombs welcome!!!!'

Now, instead of having them spread throughout the country, we have the bulk of them holed up in one 'popular' spot. Like a roach motel. Insurgents check in, but they don't check out. Doesn't sound like such a failure now, does it?
I have had similar thoughts myself, though I hope it isn't anachronistic wishful thinking on my part. Regardless, our forces are making progress in Fallujah and our soldiers and marines are following in the footsteps of those who went before them. May God bless America and our Veterans and may He especially bless our brave soldiers, sailors and marines, wherever they may be.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Northeast Elitism: Nothing New

The Chicago Boyz blog reminds that the northeastern pretensions that seem to turn so much of the rest of the country off are really nothing new.
The core strength of 'liberal' America resides in the descendants of Yankee puritans, a memetic 'Greater New England' that sprang from the Yankee diaspora which settled the Northern tier of the country. These folks have been living uneasily with their fellow Americans for over 350 years. They have been trying to reform the rest of us for our own good the whole time: Revolution, abolition, prohibition, civil rights, environmentalism. Sometimes they are even right, as much as I hate to admit it. Look at a picture of Cotton Mather, or Susan B. Anthony, or any eat-your-peas liberal do-gooder. The eyes: sad at the foolishness and injustice of the world -- the mouth, a mirthless line -- and the jaw, set in determination to rectify the world's wrongs and smite its wrongdoers. Those Yankees, genetic or memetic, are the core of the 'progressive' element in American life, and they have been for centuries, and they'll never change.
A similar argument has been made by William J. Stuntz at Tech Central Station, who makes the divide between East and West.
Easterners like theory and process. Westerners care more about outcomes than procedures, and they like whatever works. Easterners are cautious; Westerners take chances. Easterners like universities, legislatures, and the U.N. Westerners like businesses, the executive branch, and the Army. Eastern politicians are more likely to talk down to voters -- think of Dewey, Adlai Stevenson, or John Kerry -- because they are instinctively less democratic; they come from a world where social and educational class matters and where institutions seem to outlast people. (I teach at a university that is nearly four centuries old.) Western politicians are more optimistic, believe that problems can be solved and limits surpassed. Also that institutions are temporary things: they are the creatures; people are their creators, and creators matter more than the things they create. The flip side of optimism is rootlessness: if life isn't working out, go somewhere else and reinvent yourself, like Easterner-turned-Westerner (and Democrat-turned-Republican) Ronald Reagan. Easterners are more likely to be defined, and confined, by place. Eastern candidates want to protect a lead and play it safe -- Dewey, anyone? -- while Westerners roll the dice, not only in campaigns but in the White House: Reagan's simultaneous tax cuts and defense buildup (Howard Baker called it "a riverboat gamble," and it was), Bush's war in Iraq and his decision to wrap his arms around the third rail of American politics.
To these observations I would add my own that the subtle influence of New England's own religious heritage, the sense of being 'selected', which has ironically lost it's religious connotations and changed into a secular-centered ideology, has fostered an often self-righteous belief in the "obvious" and "inherent" wisdom of the opinions of the average northeastern liberal.

I would take Stuntz's theory a bit further back though, as I believe that it was, for the most part, the adventurers and individualists who were the ones with enough gumption to board those creaky vessels, leave their old lives in stagnant Europe and create a new life in America. They were the risk takers and those willing to put their destiny in their own hands. The New England colonies were, obviously, some of the first American colonies and were the first to experience widespread population growth. Succeeding migrations, first to the western frontier in northern Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and western Massachusetts, then the Ohio Valley, and so on, saw subsequent generations of these risk takers and individualists move on. At the same time, those who had built stable, and relatively safe, lives in the northeast stayed home. Their minds turned from survival to aesthetics, ideas and theories that they could put to use to help their fellow man. (Benjamin Franklin believed that one of the first signs of a modern society was this very ability: for individuals to turn from personal concerns to those on behalf of their fellow man and created fire departments and the American Philosophical Society as an outgrowth of this belief). So, relative idleness often provides the atmosphere for the generation of ideas, both good and bad. Sometimes these ideas are tried and they work (the American Revolution, abolition, civil rights) and sometimes they don't (prohibition), but in every case arguments, those who generated these ideas put them in the public sphere for debate. The result was the development of stronger arguments to justify pet theories against skeptical listeners.

The current problem is that many of the "liberal elite", isolated on campuses, holed up in newsrooms, or bound by geography, have managed to narrow the range of opinions to which they are regularly exposed and have lost the ability to provide justification for, or adequately defend, their ideas. This has been occurring for quite some time and has recently been outlined by Mark Bauerlein in a recent article in The Chronicle Review (via Lane Core). Titled, "Liberal Groupthink is Anti-Intellectual," Bauerlein's article outlines the problem in academia, which he breaks down into three major components:

1) Common Assumption - All of one's peers are likeminded. In other words, they are all liberal and are thus unified in this world view. According to Bauerlein, "The Assumption proves correct often enough for it to join other forms of trust that enable collegial events. A fellowship is intimated, and members may speak their minds without worrying about justifying basic beliefs or curbing emotions." It goes without saying that not all share in this Common Assumption, but unless they are tenured, they have no good reason to make waves in the academic pool. The result is intellectual stagnation, or worse. Bauerlein notes, "Apart from the ill-mannered righteousness, academics with too much confidence in their audience utter debatable propositions as received wisdom. An assertion of the genocidal motives of early English settlers is put forward not for discussion but for approval. If the audience shares the belief, all is well and good. But a lone dissenter disrupts the process and, merely by posing a question, can show just how cheap such a pat consensus actually is."

2) The second component is what Bauerlein terms the False Consensus Effect, which "occurs when people think that the collective opinion of their own group matches that of the larger population. If the members of a group reach a consensus and rarely encounter those who dispute it, they tend to believe that everybody thinks the same way." However, most now realize that those outside of the academy, the average American, if you will, holds opinions vastly different than those found within the Ivory Tower. As such, Bauerlein says, "Some take pride in a posture of dissent and find noble precursors in civil rights, Students for a Democratic Society, and other such movements. But dissent from the mainstream has limited charms, especially after 24 years of center-right rule in Washington. Liberal professors want to be adversarial, but are tired of seclusion. Thus, many academics find a solution in a limited version of the False Consensus that says liberal belief reigns among intellectuals everywhere." (Fine examples of this are the recent NY Times column by the historian Gary Wills or reading the majority of the regular fare at the History News Network.)

As such, there is no such thing as conservative intellectual within academia because "Professors cannot conceive that any person trained in critical thinking could listen to George W. Bush speak and still vote Republican." However, they realize that there are some intellectuals in other areas of society, such as the various think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute and others, but they right off the veracity of the work done in these institutions because they are privately funded by big business. As Bauerline points out, nearly all "references to 'right-wing think tanks' are always accompanied by the qualifier 'well-funded.'" In general, they believe that to be conservative means to be ignorant. "When a Duke University philosophy professor implied last February that conservatives tend toward stupidity, he confirmed the public opinion of academics as a self-regarding elite -- regardless of whether or not he was joking, as he later said that he was."

There are conservatives on campus, though out of necessity they usually wait until they are safely tenured before speaking up. Ruth R. Wisse of Harvard recently offered a conservative insight into the situation:
Personally, I greatly enjoy being in the conservative opposition. My colleagues are cordial, and since I'm not looking for promotions I willingly sustain an occasional snub for the greater advantage of being able to speak my mind. Students making the transition from liberal to conservative are often wounded by their first exposure to the contempt that greets their support for the war in Iraq or opposition to abortion or whatever else separates them from the liberal campus. I suggest to them that, as opposed to living in constant terror of offending some received idea, they relish their freedom of expression. The self-acknowledged conservative never experiences intellectual constraint.

But this enviable autonomy doesn't extend to graduate students or untenured colleagues. Recently, I had two encounters with sobering implications for the academy. A junior professor told me that when she began teaching at Harvard she resigned from several organizations that would have betrayed her conservative leanings. She hadn't wanted to give colleagues an easy excuse for voting her down when she came up for tenure; but now that the prospect of tenure was before her, she didn't know whether she wanted to stay on in such a repressive community. My second conversation was with a rare pro-Israel Muslim whose contract as lecturer hadn't been renewed, very probably because he was critical of the way his subject was being taught. This young man was in a great mood. He was leaving for Washington, where he could make a greater contribution to national security.
Presumably he was going to one of those morally compromised think tanks so demonized by the majority of the liberal professoriat.

This attitude casts a pall over the academic side of academia as well. "When laymen scan course syllabi or search the shelves of college bookstores and find only a few volumes of traditionalist argument amid the thickets of leftist critique, they wonder whether students ever enjoy a fruitful encounter with conservative thought. When a conference panel is convened or a collection is published on a controversial subject, and all the participants and contributors stand on one side of the issue, the tendentiousness is striking to everyone except those involved. The False Consensus does its work, but has an opposite effect. Instead of uniting academics with a broader public, it isolates them as a ritualized club." A local example is offered by Paul W. Anghinetti, professor of English at Rhode Island College:
The litmus-paper test for the English department resides in its course offerings, which will reveal, even to those possessing only a casual familiarity with traditional English offerings, its radicalized shape. Euro-centrism, Feminism, Marxism, The New Historicism, Reader Response, Post-Structuralism and Deconstruction Theory got adopted with a fervor worthy of medieval scholastics or Muslim fundamentalists. Collectively, these post-modern dogmas obviated any semblance of traditional literary theory.

Dead White Male authors became anathema to my colleagues, who shuddered at the sound of "Milton," "Melville" or "Hemingway." Even Shakespeare had to be cleansed of his racism and sexism. Literary value yielded to extra-literary political and theoretical concerns.

Down with form and content, up with socio-political and pop agendas! John Ellis's Literature Lost and Roger Kimball's Tenured Radicals tell the debacle more efficiently than I have here.

3) The final social pattern is the Law of Group Polarization, which, as described by Cass R. Sunstein, a professor of political science and of jurisprudence at the University of Chicago, "predicts that when like-minded people deliberate as an organized group, the general opinion shifts toward extreme versions of their common beliefs." Bauerlien offers a few examples of this phenomenom, but what is most important is that debates between like-minded people aren't debates at all. Accortding to Bauerlein, "The problem is that the simple trappings of deliberation make academics think that they've reached an opinion through reasoned debate -- instead of, in part, through an irrational social dynamic. The opinion takes on the status of a norm. Extreme views appear to be logical extensions of principles that everyone more or less shares, and extremists gain a larger influence than their numbers merit. If participants left the enclave, their beliefs would moderate, and they would be more open to the beliefs of others. But with the conferences, quarterlies, and committee meetings suffused with extreme positions, they're stuck with abiding by the convictions of their most passionate brethren."

Bauerlein does point out that the same would occur if the overwhelming number of people within academia were all conservative. The bottom line is that intellectual diversity is the most important goal for our society, at all levels. Liberals in some regions of our nation, particularly here in the northeast, have lost the ability to even accept contrary arguments. Conservatives have tall walls to climb before they can even get to the base of Mt. Liberalism and begin the real work of convincing people that they offer a real alternative. Before that work can begin, conservatives first have to convince liberals, as well as those who live in an environment dominated by liberal thought, that they aren't out to starve their kids and grandparents, fatten the wallets of the rich, or embark on a religious crusade. Yet, once the debate is engaged, the conservative argument finds a receptive audience because conservatives have learned to convince people. In contrast, the success that liberals have had in dominating academia and the media has only served to render them ineffective. People don't like to be dictated to, they like to be convinced. Should conservatives one day find themselves in the dominant positions in the media and academia, they would do well to remember that intellectual consensus is not always a good thing.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Specter Debate

I have been following the debate among Republicans regarding the efficacy of allowing Arlen Specter, a "moderate" Republican, to ascend to the Chairmanship of the Senate Judicial Committee. Those against such a move point to his past hostility to pro-life judges and to other conservative favorites, especially Judge Robert Bork. The two biggest forces aligned against Specter, at least as far as the New Media is concerned, are probably National Review (with Katherine Jean Lopez in the vanguard) and conservative talker Laura Ingraham. Specter has his defenders, including the usual Senate suspects, but, to the surprise of some, Hugh Hewitt, a conservative blogger and talk show host, has offered the most strident defense on behalf of Specter.

Without getting to the merits on either side (and they both have them), the argument seems to be essentially between those who hold their conservative idealism closer against those who are engaged in party building (broadening the big tent and all) and are willing to make some compromises to strengthen the majority. As a conservative and a Republican, I must admit that I am torn on the issue (GET OFF THAT FENCE!). Specter is the worst kind of milquetoast Republican moderate, is wrong about so many things (as far as I'm concerned) and really doesn't deserve the Chair after backhanding the President who saved his bacon in the Republican primaries. On the other hand, there really are moderate Republicans, especially in the northeast, and keeping them happy bolsters the long term strength of the party. At the convention we saw "Ahnold" and Rudy, both "moderates" who have widespread appeal, whether we conservatives like to admit it or not. Therefore, I agree with Hewitt that we should not take a scorched earth policy by telling moderate Republicans to toe the line or get out.

My problem is this: I don't trust Arlen Specter. So, on a day where Lincoln Chafee finally decided to still be a Republican, at least for now (wink wink), I think that moderates are worth keeping because they make the Republican party more appealing, though I would hesitate to say that Chafee is a plus but would include Maine's two Senators (Snowe and Collins) as positives. The problem with Specter is that he strikes me as a Jim Jefford's type of moderate Republican...he is a political opportunist who would jump if it suited him. In short, Specter is not interested in party building. He is only interested in himself. As such, he doesn't deserve a 475th chance.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Hoisting the Anchor

After about 2.5 seconds of deliberation, I agreed a few days ago to join fellow Rhode Islanders Justin Katz and Andrew Morse in launching a new website, called Anchor Rising. For more on the project, please follow the link. For now, suffice to stay that this solo conservative writer is proud to now be part of a team.

New England - Blue States on the Fringe

Yesterday's Providence Sunday Journal had a predictable, but informative, story concerning the political and financial repercussions that will be felt by the Ocean State and her New England neighbors as a result of their lock-step Democrat voting patterns.
There is this harsh reality for New England Democrats in presidential politics: Eight times in elections since 1968, a prominent Democrat from the region has been on a losing Democratic ticket or run unsuccessfully for his party's nomination.

President Bush's close but clear-cut victory over Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry means that, "you can be born in New England, you can be educated in New England, but you can't run from New England," says Garrison Nelson, a University of Vermont political scientist and expert in the region's politics.
Nelson has a point. Since 1972, Edmund Muskie, Ted Kennedy, Michael Dukakis, Joe Lieberman, Howard Dean and John Kerry have all made credible bids for President and come up short. However, it is simplistic to say that it was because they were all from New England that they were unpalatable to the national electorate. Rather, it was the nature of their politics, a liberal message delivered with an implied "we know what's good for you" tone, that failed to catch on with the south and midwest.
What is more, a region that historically had powerful senators and U.S. House members now has little clout in conservative, Republican Washington. No state in the region voted for Mr. Bush; the president even lost New Hampshire, a state he carried in 2000. Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont voters all gave Kerry victories of better than 20 percentage points; Kerry won big, too, in Connecticut, and comfortably in Maine.

From just after the end of World War II until 1987, a Massachusetts representative held the House speaker's chair for 23 years; Republican moderate Joseph Martin of Attleboro served four years; Democrat John McCormack of Boston was speaker for nine years; and Thomas "Tip" O'Neill, of Cambridge, led the House for a decade. Maine Democrat George Mitchell served as Senate majority leader and Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy had a stint as Senate Democratic whip.

Now, No New Englanders are in top leadership positions in either the GOP-controlled House or Senate, and such moderates as Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee have no friends in the White House.
Add to the list the two moderate Republican Senators from Maine (Olympia Snow and Susan Collins) and it becomes obvious that even those Republicans that the region has sent to Washington are on the fringe of their party. This can be a blessing, though, because they can wield some clout as their crucial votes will be needed to break Senate filibusters. Nonetheless, reduced overall political influence within the party in power translates to fewer "goodies" for the states that continually send members of the minority party to Washington. For his part, Sen. Jack Reed recognizes the danger:
What also worries Reed is that the Republicans will move to slice the region's share of federal money that is distributed to states under complicated mathematical formulas that support such programs as housing for the poor, medical research and education.

"These formula fights are ferocious," says Reed. "I got my staff together on Wednesday afternoon and . . . said we can't be down about this, we have to get right back to work for the people of Rhode Island on the isssues we care about."
The article also made note of the disparity between New England and the "Red States" on social issues.
On these issues, too, New England is sailing against the national wind. Eleven states had same-sex marriage bans as ballot questions; they won overwhelmingly everywhere, even in Oregon, the Vermont of the West Coast.

Vermont has had civil unions for almost five years. Most Vermonters have accepted the institution and there is no movement to repeal the civil union law. In Massachusetts, no legislator who suppported same-sex marriages lost his or her seat last week.

[Tip] O'Neill, the avuncular House Speaker, was fond of saying that most people view politics from the prism of their kitchen window; they vote on such basic economic issues as whether they have good jobs and believe their children will have career opportunities.

Last week's election showed that a significant slice of voters in the states of the Midwest and the old Confederacy see politics through the prism of a stained-glass church window.
It is this last which seems to confound many Democrats who believe that economic issues stood them in good stead this election. However this seemed based on their rhetoric not on the reality. (I'm not going to go into the Democrat assertions of a bad Bush economy compared to the reality of Clinton like unemployment numbers, etc.) As Kate O'Beirne noted recently in the Washington Post:
Republicans don't talk patronizingly about the issues that matter to voters by telling average Americans to "vote their pocketbooks." Rich Hollywood liberals might put aside their own economic interests to support a candidate who pledges to raise their taxes, but the little people leading small lives in small towns are not expected to look beyond their parochial concerns about overtime pay or health benefits. Leaving aside whether Democratic prescriptions on taxes and the economy would actually benefit these middle-class voters, Bush recognizes that they, too, care about issues larger than themselves. Despite Ohio's poor economy, moral values almost tied jobs as a matter of concern to the state's voters, who -- by the way -- also gave the edge to Bush in handling economic issues.

Bush recognizes that American diners are filled with middle-class voters who likewise have concerns that transcend their daily lives. He let them know that he shared their worries about marriage and its weakening as society's most fundamental institution, about the chilling brave new world of cloning and about the coarsening of the culture -- at the hands of Kerry's Hollywood supporters. The guests enjoying dinner at Tina Brown's sparkling table have not had their daily lives affected by Halliburton's no-bid contracts, the USA Patriot Act or missing munitions in Iraq, yet these are the kinds of issues that motivate liberal elites.

Bush believes Americans are smart and unfailingly decent. He doesn't think southern conservatives are closet racists, that opponents of gay marriage are hateful homophobes or that pro-lifers are mean-spirited misogynists. He is well aware that America's liberal media (and as well as European commentators) view him as a dangerous fool. Nonetheless, the majority of high school and college graduates voted for him.
Some, such as Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, realize that the Democrats have some work to do on the morality front:
"We Democrats better think long and hard about what happened . . . and how our party is going to connect with the hopes and aspirations of the people," Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., said last week. "We have lost the ability to connect with people's value systems and we're going to have to work to get that back."
The problem is that, to a large degree, the politicians in New England simply reflect the morality of their constituents.
New England is "closer to Canada on these social issues than most of the rest of the United States," says Brown University political scientist Darrell West...Such scholars as Nelson, the University of Vermont political scientist, a Boston native, and Anthony Corrado, a Colby College political scientist and Barrington native, believe the region's differences on social issues are rooted in history.

"Are you surprised that a state founded by Roger Williams supports separation of church and state?" says Corrado, referring to the 17th-century father of church-state separation who was Rhode Island's first white settler. [I'm not]

Even in rural parts of New England, evangelical movements are not strong, and haven't been since the Great Awakening of the 18th century, Corrado says.

New Englanders were steeled by generations of religious conflict in a region of tribal, ethnic and religion-generated fissures. "There was a time when you couldn't put Congregationalists, Catholics and Jews in the same room," says Nelson.

It seems hard to fathom today, but New England was plagued by religious intolerance, even violence, especially in the anti-immigrant Nativist wave in the early 20th century. Native Protestants burned Catholic convents and the Ku Klux Klan even had a foothold in rural Rhode Island; the target was not blacks, as in the South, but Catholics.

"There was virulent anti-Semitism among the Irish in Boston and other European ethnics," says Nelson.

The Ivy League colleges that are among the region's top educational assets had unspoken quotas for Jews.

"These religious conflicts held the region back for many years, but after the 1960s things changed," says Nelson. "The leadership class in New England basically decided that we would be better off without all this conflict."

Interfaith marriages and a knowledge-based economy have also winnowed religious divisions in the region, says Nelson, which has made New England states more like each other politically than red-state America.
This history of religious tension is characteristic of a dense population made up of disparate groups. In the so-called "Red States", such diversity doesn't occur as much where communities are more isolated and more homogenous. However, religious tolerance shouldn't necessarily mean religious abandonment, as has occurred with rising secularism (a religion of sorts, itself, I would argue) in the Northeast and West Coast. Additionally, while differing perceptions of morality explain the Red/Blue divide, as O'Beirne alluded, perhaps those of us who vote Republican, regardless of our geographical location, have actually exhibited a bit more "nuance" than our more "enlightened" liberal opponents would like to admit.
There is one great irony in Kerry's loss, says Corrado.

"Gay marriage in particular was a galvanizing issue," he says.

But it probably would never have vaulted to the forefront of campaign topics without the Supreme Judicial Court decision in Kerry's home state last spring that legalized gay unions.

"It was the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that allowed President Bush to really get a focus on this issue."
Here, simply, Corrado is wrong. President Bush didn't focus on the issue, his opponent did. What the issue did highlight was that the judiciary was untrustworthy in matters concerning legal definitions of morality or traditional institutions that have upheld said moral values. Thus, it wasn't gay marriage, per se, that threatened people so much as the fear that, regardless of one's own personal view, it is the citizen who should decide, not an un-elected judge. In other words, what troubled many voters was not necessarily the outcome so much as the vehicle by which a revered social institution (marriage) was redefined. Recent history has shown that what liberals can't accomplish via the ballot box they instead pursue via the judiciary. A majority of Americans have had enough of this tactic and believe that keeping George W. Bush as President ensures that fewer "interpretive" judges will be named to the federal bench.

The majority of New England voters apparently don't prioritize their reasons for voting for a presidential candidate in the same manner. Now, we in New England find ourselves on the outside looking in. Yet, there is some hope for the New England-style of moderate Republican, as explained by O'Beirne:
Republicans were mocked when popular social liberals Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger were showcased to make their party's case on national security and economic opportunity at the national convention in New York. What Democrats saw on the podium were dissident Republican politicians with enlightened views on abortion and gay marriage who had been enlisted in order to deceive voters; what we were all actually looking at was the makings of a successful majority party.

The moderate Republicans who spoke at the convention are at home in their conservative, pro-life party and represent countless others who share their views on such issues as foreign policy, tax rates or tort reform. Political parties are coalitions, and elections are won when a self-confident party can remain faithful to its core principles while appealing to voters with different priorities. President Bush's success exemplifies that approach: He is unapologetically opposed to abortion but passes no judgment on those who disagree with him and encourages them to find common cause with him elsewhere. Last year, Sen. John Kerry was calling pro-lifers "the forces of intolerance."
In fact, with the exception of our own Congressman Jim Langevin, I'm hardpressed to name a pro-life Democrat. They simply won't allow it and one believes that Langevin's unique personal story is the only reason that he gets a pass. As such, it seems that now the Republicans are the "big-tent" party. Unfortunately for most of New England, we're on the outside, on our hands and knees, attempting to peer under the canvas.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

What do the Rhode Island Presidential Exit Polls tell us?

I've been looking at CNN's exit polls for Rhode Island in an attempt to figure out why Rhode Island so heavily favored John Kerry. Yes, I know all of the regular reasons usually given, born a Democrat, always a Democrat and all that, but I wanted to see what the numbers said. Now, before I started, I realized that on some level it would be hard to trust the same exit polling data that so often called states wrong for Kerry, but in the case of the Ocean State, I would bet that they are pretty much spot on.

So, what did the exit polls tell me? Not much I couldn't have guessed. Kerry beat Bush in nearly any demographic imaginable. The President came closest to Kerry by garnering 47% of the vote of those who make between $100,000 and $150,000 (surprised?). Generally, speaking, most Rhode Islanders simply viewed this election as a referendum on the President and by a 57% - 42% margin disapproved of the way he was doing his job. I'm sure the fact that Kerry, a fellow New Englander, was on the ticket also contributed to the landslide. Yet, as Bill Reynolds said in today's ProJo, one get's the sense that Attila the Hun could run as a Democrat against Jesus as a Republican and the Hun would win.

The fundamental problem for conservatives in this state is simple: there just aren't enough who describe themselves as such. According to the exit polls, the Rhode Island electorate is comprised of:

Liberal (27%)
Moderate (52%)
Conservative (21%)

My guess is that many of the moderates would otherwise be classified as liberal by most outside of the Northeast. What is interesting is to compare the above numbers with:

VOTE BY RELIGION (BUSH/KERRY )

Protestant (26%) [52% /47%]
Catholic (57%) [40%/ 59%]
None (12%) [22%/ 76%]
Jewish (2%) n/a
Other (3%) n/a

The obvious anomaly seems to be the numbers of Catholics who voted for Kerry, despite his self-avowed reluctance to apply his own morality to his politics. Namely, his support for all abortion, including partial-birth, as well as his somewhat squishy stance on gay marriage. Again, this is not really that surprising. I've had the sense that Rhode Island Catholics are Catholic more out of habit than out of any deep sense of belief or desire to adhere to church teachings and doctrine. The question is, is there a way to turn Rhode Island's Catholic population around? Is it even possible to convince them to vote in a manner consistent with their own morality, if not exactly in line with church teachings?

I'm not sure, but what does need to be done is a greater emphasis on the priorities that Catholics should hold in all of the big questions. I believe many Catholics are both anti-abortion and anti-war and have trouble reconciling these often politically dichotomous beliefs. This year, the Catholic Church did attempt to explain the prioritization, as did a Catholic writer or two, but it seems as if most Rhode Islanders failed to notice. Or perhaps, they simply don't care. In a state founded by those with strong principles of both freedom of worship and tolerance of others who worship differently, it may be simply a case in which these principles are simply held more dear than any teachings by religious leaders. In the end, perhaps, it is just one more area in which Rhode Islanders enjoy being "independent," despite the long term consequences.

Friday, November 05, 2004

A wee bit of a roundup

Bill at INDC Journal is having some fun with math and has shown how Herbert Hoover can rest easy, despite Sen. Kerry's campaign assertions regarding President Bush's economic policies.

The Diplomad is a group blog by a collection of Republican State Department employees who regale with tales of panic and dismay among their left-leaning colleagues. Worth the read (via Instapundit).

Much post-election analysis is going on with different focus by different folks. Howie Kurtz on the media, Glenn Reynolds on "new media", Bill Bennett on values, and finally Jane Smiley gives a screeching liberal reaction (countered by many, such as Roger Simon and James Lileks).

By the way, it seems like the President's 3% margin of victory in the popular vote has now gone to 5%, according to USA today. Is that enough for a mandate my liberal friends?

Finally, I didn't miss the juvenile move by Sen. Chafee. I'm past being surprised by this man.
Sen. Lincoln Chafee made good on his pledge yesterday: As a form of "symbolic protest," he cast a write-in ballot for former President George H.W. Bush instead of voting for his son, President George W. Bush. He also did not rule out the prospect of changing parties if the incumbent president is reelected.

Please, Senator, do us a favor and go right ahead. I hear Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey has an eye on your seat. He actually IS a Republican.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Peggy Noonan

She's Back!

Culture Realigned...or Reaffirmed

In the latest issue of the Weekly Standard, Jeffrey Bell and Frank Cannon write of a Bush Realignment based on the war and cultural issues. Of the latter, they comment:
What Kerry failed to see, and ultimately what sealed the fate of his candidacy, was a similarly momentous change in people's view of social issues brought into play earlier this year by the high court of his own home state. As we argued in these pages a month before the election ('The Rise of the Values Voter,' Oct. 11), survey research commissioned by Time and MSNBC/Knight-Ridder revealed that concern over social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage had taken a quantum leap this year and had become far more favorable to Republicans than in previous election cycles, particularly in the swing states in which the election was ultimately decided.

Evidence of this was apparent in the exit polling, which clearly showed that voters concerned over social and moral issues turned out for President Bush in large numbers. (Though Glenn Reynold's warning against overstating this should be considered, as should reliance on these same flawed exit polls that indicated a Kerry swing-state sweep.) Those on the coasts may be befuddled by how Bush won, and some have resorted to the predictable charge of it being a result of simple-minded, religiously-fanatic, right-wing conservatives supporting the President. For example, Michelle Totten commented that
...the top reason that Bush voters gave for supporting their guy was not the economy, not Iraq, not even the war on terrorism. It was "moral values." That's right, with American soldiers dying overseas, Al Qaeda still gunning for us at home, the deficit spiraling, the gap between rich and poor growing, Social Security on the brink, etc., etc., Bush's reelection was driven by a bunch of folks freaked out over the thought of gay marriage and stem-cell research.

God save the republic.

Perhaps the best answer to Michelle is provided by Bell and Cannon
How is it possible that in a time of war and global crisis, voters see "Moral Values" as comparably important--an issue that was central in delivering reelection to a consequential, controversial wartime president?

The answer is that voters can weigh more than one big worry at the same time. In 1980, Americans felt beleaguered by the fear of losing the Cold War and by stagflation at home. A more "sensible" politician than Ronald Reagan would have suggested addressing one crisis first, then turning our emphasis to the other.

Counterintuitively, Reagan sensed that he needed to address both crises at once. He cut taxes deeply, supported Paul Volcker's ratcheting up of interest rates, and instituted a massive military buildup, all in his first year as president. By 1982, Reagan's job performance rating had fallen into the 30s, and he was widely regarded as a failure. In 2004, the year of his death, what Reagan did goes by a different name.

Today, many voters' sense of security is equally threatened by military attacks by our terrorist enemies and by elitist judges' assaults on our ability to guard our moral standards by means of self-government here at home. As he thanked his supporters and the American people in the Ronald Reagan Building Wednesday afternoon, President Bush took a giant step toward a comparable achievement.
First, note that Bell and Cannon point out that voters saw moral issues as comparably important to the War on Terror, not as preeminent. Contrary to elite opinion, and the press spin, voters can vote on more than a single-issue. Bush voters didn't just vote based upon social/moral issues like gay marriage, or abortion, or religion: they also voted for the President because they agreed with him about the war (even when the exit poll questions cleverly separated the War on Terror from Iraq). The voters took the combination of all of these issues, weighted differently by different people, and judged collectively that the President's position on them was better for the long-term good of the country and its people than were Senator Kerry's.

Nonetheless, while the War on Terror rightly continues to be important, cultural issues such as gay marriage, abortion, and judicial activism will be just as, if not more, important to many in the electorate. In the political debates surrounding the War on Terror and other international issues, most conservatives and many moderates and libertarians have generally tended to be pitted against liberals. However, it seems likely that, as Justin Katz has predicted, these lines are going to be re-drawn on the moral and cultural front and that conservatives face an assemblage of liberals, moderates and libertarians. This debate is between those who prioritize the rights of the individual to excercise often radical or even self-destructive (legalizing drug use, for instance) "freedoms" over the rights of those who hold more traditional values that have formed the bedrock of the ideal of a moral American society. This election has revealed that a slim majority of Americans hold these traditional values dear and that they are not ready to relinquish their right to maintain these values in their culture and institutions. They don't "hate", they disagree, and they have as much right to excercise their "rights" as anyone else.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Now What?

Well, for the long term, I continue to support the President and his policies, broadly speaking, but I will look for some fiscal restraint, too. For the short term, I need some sleep. An intellectual re-charging before I ramp it back up for finalizaton of my MA Thesis work and some blog-related prospects. That being said, I'll probably be pretty scarce for the next few days.

My confidence in the American people is reaffirmed

I had faith this fall...faith in the Red Sox, and faith in the American people to re-elect George W. Bush. In October my faith in the Red Sox was finally rewarded. This November, my belief that the American people would ultimately show their support for a war-time President was also rewarded. We did not fight historical precedent and blink in the face of a grave threat. As we did in 1864, 1942, etc., the American people bucked up and voted to see this thing through. There really is nothing else to say. The President has won and the American people have clearly given him a mandate, regardless of what his partisan opponents or the media might say. Our leader will continue to lead us through the difficult times ahead: we are lucky to have this man, at this time, to guide our way.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Read Rush before you vote

Please read Rush Limbaugh's essay on what's at stake in this election, then vote. I already did and now it's time to hold my breath...and pray.