Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Why Bush won Ohio and the country

How did Bush win Ohio? See this Wall Street Journal. The piece is not perfect, but it’s a start. Note especially the chart: Kerry lost 12 of the 14 rural Ohio counties that had more than 10% job loss since 2000. What was critical is the GOP ground war. It worked perfectly. "In 2000, the Bush team had recruited 88 county volunteers to conduct turnout operations. This time, they signed up more than 1,000 precinct-level turnout officials. In 2000, the Bush-Cheney campaign volunteers made a little more than 600,000 get-out-the-vote telephone calls. This time, they made 3.9 million, and 1.8 million of them were made in the last five days."

On whether not not the high turnout helped Bush nationally, see this from Patrick Ruffini. "The most compelling evidence for a pro-Bush shift in turnout comes from re-running the election using the 2004 percentages for each candidate and the 2000 vote totals. If the states had turned out the way they did in 2000, Bush would have received 50.71% of the vote to Kerry’s 48.31% -- a 0.6% shift to Kerry. The more granular you get, the more you should expect to see the turnout effect amplified. And lo and behold, by re-processing the results with the 2000 turnout at the county level, Bush gets 50.59% to Kerry’s 48.43% -- a further quarter point shift to Kerry. (And we haven’t even gotten down to the precinct level, or to the behavior of the individual voter within a precinct.) All told, the benefit the President received from this particular turnout pattern in 2004 is probably at least a point. Incidentally, that’s about the same as the gap between the final polls and the results.

Political scientists are going to have rewrite the book on this one. Broken glass Republicans outnumbered broken glass Democrats – despite everything the media establishment held sacred and holy about this election. There is no hidden, nonvoting Democratic majority. There is no cap on the number of people willing to vote Republican. GOP mobilization efforts work just as well with high turnout. Next time you see a long line at the polls, smile."

More on Tom Wolfe

I just got back from a bookstore, had to buy my second copy of Tom Wolfe’s latest since Emily took the first. I’m starting it (again) tonight). Ed Driscoll has a report on a speech Wolfe gave in San Francisco to a bunch of left-literati types. Interesting, full of insight, with good links. (Thanks to Powerline).

Kirsanow on C-Span today

This last Thursday, Peter Kirsanow, a member of the United States Civil Rights
Commission, was at the Ashbrook Center lecturing on the subject of
"Racial Rebellion: The End of the Victim/Grievance Movement."
C-SPAN was there to tape the event and it will be broadcast Today (Saturday) at 9:15pm EST and again at 12:15am EST on C-SPAN.

The filmed shooting in Fallujah

Owen West & Phillip Carter have some good thoughts on the filmed shooting of an insurgent in Fallujah. It may have been a tragedy, but it wasn’t an atrocity. Also note Diana West’s thoughts on the matter.  

Rice and guns

This article on Rice from the Montgomery Advertiser explains, in passing, why Condi Rice has always taken a pro-Second Amendment position. She was a child in Montgomery, Alabama, during the racial turmoil of the early sixties; her father was a minister: "During the bombings of the summer of 1963, her father and other neighborhood men guarded the streets at night to keep white vigilantes at bay. Rice said her staunch defense of gun rights comes from those days. She has argued that if the guns her father and neighbors carried had been registered, they could have been confiscated by the authorities, leaving the black community defenseless."

Gettysburg Address

It was on this day in 1863 that Lincoln spoke the words we know as the Gettysburg Address. Read it again, do your ears a favor, read it aloud. This is
a short piece I wrote on the speech some seven years ago.

Tom Wolfe as Dickens

I bought Tom Wolfe’s book the other day, started reading it, but then my daughter Emily took it away. Joseph Bottum convinced me that maybe I had better buy a second copy. This is a good overview of Wolfe, what the jealous Liberals think of him, why he should be compared to Dickens, why Charlotte Simmons may not be a novel, why he is worth reading: "Emile Zola was the writer Tom Wolfe recommended as the best model in the widely noted 1989 essay in which he called for America’s novelists to leave their prissy, self-absorbed concerns and go out to report on this ’wild, bizarre, unpredictable hog-stomping Baroque country of ours.’ But he mentioned Dickens along the way, and Dickens is the author to whom he is, in fact, the closest--if only because a Wolfe novel is invariably what Henry James once called books like Dickens’:

’large loose baggy monsters.’"

The Dutch and their tolerance

Washington Times reports that Dutch society has been transformed because of the murder of the journalist Theo van Gogh by Muslims. "Opinion polls show an overwhelming majority of citizens favor a crackdown on Muslim extremists, who are estimated to number as many as 50,000 in the country."
Christopher Caldwell has a piece on all this in the current issue of the Weekly Standard, but he is not optimistic about the Dutch’s response

Linda Ronstadt, the nut

Maybe she’s always been nuts, I don’t know. But she sure is now. This is self-psychoanalysis put out as political opinion. Linda Rondstadt said this: "People don’t realize that by voting Republican, they voted against themselves. I worry that some people are entertained by the idea of this war. They don’t know anything about the Iraqis, but they’re angry and frustrated in their own lives. It’s like Germany, before Hitler took over. The economy was bad and people felt kicked around. They looked for a scapegoat. Now we’ve got a new bunch of Hitlers."

Advice for Europeans

Andrew Busch has some words of advice for Europeans, and they won’t like them. Too bad.

"Altogether, Europeans have effectively removed themselves from Christendom while surrendering their sovereignty and much of the basis of their liberty. It is Europeans who have stopped having children and who have instead opened the floodgates to a potentially decisive fifth column of anti-Western immigrants; Europeans who have adopted the historically novel view that diplomacy with tyrants can succeed in the absence of a credible threat of force. And now it is Europeans who argue that Americans are the ones who have changed. This might be a good time for self-reflection among Europe’s elites, if they can spare a moment from their mourning."

Some girls don’t, but some girls do

Mac Owens starts with Webb’s new book, Born Fighting, and shifts nicely into country music. Perfect way to start the morning. Good writing, for a Marine.

"As Webb observes, when the Scots-Irish aren’t praying, they are often fighting, singing, or sinning in other ways. Despite the admonition of countless fire-and-brimstone preachers from time immemorial, the Scots-Irish have lived the, ahem, secular life to the fullest. As an old Marine, the drinkin’-and-fightin’ strain of country music has always appealed to me (not that I have ever engaged in such rowdy behavior, of course). To my way of thinking, there’s nothing like the in-your-face music of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams Jr., Aaron Tippin, and Toby Keith."

Rice on Foreign Policy

This is the link to the article that Condoleezza Rice published in Foreign Affairs during the 2000 campaign.

Palestinian internal politics

A helpful article from The Jerusalem Post on the internal politics of the Palestinian situation. The factions are jockeying hard and there is already talk of Abbas being assassinated. As the old saying goes, some people never miss the opportunity to miss an opportunity.

College students’ engagement

This story in the Chronicle of Higher Education reports on the latest finding by National Survey of Student Engagement, and it’s a shocker!

"Only about 11 percent of full-time students say they spend more than 25 hours per week preparing for their classes -- the amount of time that faculty members say is necessary to succeed in college. Forty-four percent spend 10 hours or less studying.

Yet students’ grades do not suggest that they are unprepared for their academic work: About 40 percent of students say they earn mostly A’s, with 41 percent reporting that they earn mostly B’s." Here is the whole report, Student Engagement (PDF file, 52 pages).

Ashcroft praised

Deroy Murdock explains the great good Attorney General John Ashcroft did for New York and the country: "As Attorney General John Ashcroft concludes his duties, Americans should applaud him for using the Patriot Act to charge 372 suspected terrorists and convict 194 of them since 9/11.

For example, absent the Patriot Act, Babar still might stroll the sidewalks of New York, gathering money and equipment for al Qaeda."

Rice at State

I have absolutely no problem with Dr. Rice at State. I think it is a good choice. George Will’s column is a series of questions that Senators, were they serious, could ask her at her confirmation hearings. Needless to say, a response would mean a real graduate level seminar lasting a week or two. Unlikely. It would be fun, not because I think Rice would be put on the ropes, but because we could also learn much about our Senators as well. This is President Bush’s announcement of her nomination. Michael Goodwin thinks it is "wonderful" that Bush isn’t making a big deal of the fact that she is the first black woman to be Secretary of State. He snuck her (and Powell before her) in the front door in broad daylight before anyone noticed. Lincoln lives. Imagine the diversity speeches we would have gotten from Kerry (or Clinton). Good for Bush, and us.
This BBC
report describes her as "driven and highly ambitious."

Why Health Care Costs So Much

Democrats and Republicans have been trading accusations for years about the reason for the dramatic increase in health care costs. Dems seem to think it’s all a matter of greedy drug companies, while Repubs fault the number of malpractice suits filed by greedy lawyers. The fact is that neither really gets at the heart of the issue--the declining percentage of health care costs that are being paid out of pocket, thanks to the prevalence of third-party health insurance. This chart shows the inverse proportional relationship between the two phenomena.

As E. Frank Stephenson over at Division of Labor puts it, "It brings to mind the saying about eating at a restaurant: If you’re paying I’ll have steak."

Defending the Electoral College

Today’s Columbus Dispatch published an op-ed by me defending the Electoral College. There was an article next to it opposing it, but I can’t get to it on-line because I am not a subscriber. But I have put my piece, as published, on our site. Click on my name.

Peter W. Schramm. I’m tempted to place a couple of coffee mugs here, but y’all would come down on me too hard and I couldn’t bear it, being so sensitive and all.


I’ll give Charles Krauthammer the first and last word on Arafat’s legacy, and then I don’t want to mention the SOB ever again.

CIA matters

The Belmont Club has a few good links and quotes from Rep. Jane Harman, Porter Goss, et al, on what is needed at the Agency: Spies.

Liberty in Paris

Here is a lovely essay by John Zvesper. He awaits his wife in Paris, has some time to kill, walking about in the Jardin du Luxembourg, he makes a pilgrimage to one of Paris’ two bronze "miniature" versions of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty: the smaller and more beautiful of the two (he includes a few good shots, one with a nice view of Paris). He makes reservations at a small restaurant, one of the few with an small American flag in the window, as he reflects on our relations with France, and the connection between liberty and democracy. Terrific.

America Okay, Say Americans

A Rasmussen Poll taken last week show that a solid majority (62 percent) of Americans believe that their country is basically "fair and decent." The same poll suggests that 67 percent think people who move to the United States should adopt American culture, and that 64 percent reject the idea that most Americans are racist.

Finally, and most heartening from a historian’s perspective:

Eighty-one percent (81%) believe students should be taught that "men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln were heroes who created a great nation." Only 8% disagree.

Colin Powell’s resignation as the end of civilization as we know it

It’s been amusing to watch the CNN types reflect (I use the word loosely) on Colin Powell and his most likely replacement, Condi Rice. Here is the gist: Powell is a statesman, a man full of all the virtues, magnanimity not excluded. He is a man of sovereign parts, in whose face you see the map of honor and truth. He has standing and stature and wit and intellect and most important, he stood tall in opposition the the President’s hard-ass policies, and to all his other mean-spirited and hard-hearted advisors. He was the last sober voice in the cabinet. He never--this soldier with an unspotted heart--did any ill or have any other thoughts than natural princes ought to have. This reign of the good is now over and we are forced to consider something wicked coming our way. Oh, this change cannot be good. Now there will be no one to oppose the neanderthals. Rice will not only be in agreement with the President, but will likely get the Department of State on board the administration’s line, and before we know it the CIA will be next! Oh my, what will become of us?

Every president must have such an opposing voice in his cabinet, else the
cherry trees on the Mall will begin walking and
all sorts of unnatural troubles and deeds will follow. Remarkably foolish stuff, all this. This is a prosaic example from the

Washington Post. More to follow, count on it.

Tom Wolfe’s latest

David Brooks opines on Tom Wolfe’s latest novel (I Am Charlotte Simmons). I started reading it this weekend. How could I resist? It’s by Wolfe, perhaps the greatest sociologist of our age, and it’s about college life, with a lot of drinking and even more sex. By the way, I bet there is no need for chocolates in the whole novel, but I’ll keep my eyes open. A couple of paragraphs from Brooks:

" [The novel] is about a young woman who leaves Sparta, a small town in North Carolina, and enters an elite university. She finds all the rules of life there are dissolved: the rules of courtship, the rules of decorum and polite conversation.

The social rules have dissolved because the morality that used to undergird them dissolved long ago. Wolfe sprinkles his book with observations about how the word ’immoral’ now seems obsolete, about how sophisticated people now reject the idea of absolute evil, about a hypermaterialistic neuroscience professor who can use the word ’soul’ only when it is in quotation marks.

Wolfe describes a society in which we still have vague notions about good and bad, virtue and vice, but the moral substructure that fits all those concepts together has been washed away. Everybody is left swirling about in a chaotic rush of desire and action, without a coherent code to make sense of it all."

CIA turmoil

Here is Stephen Hayes’ take on the changes (read, turmoil) taking place within the CIA. This will continue for some time, and should, over the long run, have some very good consequences.

Dungeons and Dragons

Great article on Dungeons and Dragons in today’s Boston Globe. I never played D&D but alot of my best guy friends did. There is much truth in what the author, Peter Berbergal, says about the people who played it. They were smart, witty, clever, and a bit off the beaten path. What marbles and other "brain games" did for generations past, he argues D&D did for his generation. Today’s smart kids will find something equally fascinating, I am sure. No reason to be overly concerned about the plethora of video games, etc.

Chocolate and Women

Now husbands have a reason to have mixed feelings about their wives cheating on all these low carbohydrate diets.

Hat tip to Rush Limbaugh for bringing this story about the link between the desire for chocolate and the desire for sex in women to our attention. Not only is this link not surprising (as Rush pointed out, men have known this for centuries--why else chocolate for Valentine’s day and dates?) but is anyone really surprised that the researchers conducting the study were Italian?

But before young men start flocking to the chocolate shop, they should remember that nature is a cruel teacher. Another study mentioned in the story showed a link between HPV (human papilloma virus) and prostrate cancer in men. In other words, men who exercised their libidos too much in their younger years and were, thereby exposed to the the virus that has long been linked to cervical cancer in women, and with just as tragic results.

The lesson, guys? Get married, stay faithful, and (to make that easier) buy chocolate. Worth a read, and a mug. Hot chocolate, anyone?! 

Liberals focus on the "Real" enemy

American troops are wiping Fallujah clean of terrorists and giving their all to keep America safe. Meanwhile, back on the base . . . American liberals focus on the real enemy facing America’s troops THE BOY SCOUTS! Yes, apparently those little guys might mention God or something and that would really be very insensitive. I guess Steve is right. They just don’t get it. Wanna bet the next go around the military vote will be even more disproportionately Republican? For more on the ACLU’s war on the Boy Scouts, see The Claremont Institute’s website where there is a pile of articles addressing the issue.

Busy, busy

Sorry about the lack of blogging. Have been running around all day. One meeting, then another; you know how it works. I’ll do better tomorrow.

Critique of Sander’s Study on Affirmative Action and Law Schools

Four professors have weighed in on Sander’s forthcoming study that argues affirmative action hinders black progress in law school and the profession. It is entitled"The Real Impact of Eliminating Affirmative Action in American Law Schools: An Empirical Critique of Richard
Sander’s Stanford Law Review Study

More Incredible Reaction to ’The Incredibles’

A reviewer in The Nation vents about The Incredibles:

"Bird’s biggest achievement in The Incredibles is to have inflated family stereotypes to parade-balloon size. His failing is that, in so doing, he also confirmed these stereotypes, and worse. Helen mouths one or two semi-feminist wisecracks but readily gives up her career for a house and kids; women are like that. Bob’s buddy Frozone, the main nonwhite character in the movie, can instantly create ice; black people are cool. The superheroes are in hiding because greedy trial lawyers sued them into retirement; and, while concealed, they chafe at their confinement, like Ayn Rand railing against enforced mediocrity. The family is the foundation of our society. Freedom is on the march."

Andrew Sullivan comments: "The left’s estrangement from America continues."

Incredible Iincredibles

This is to second Julie Ponzi’s post below on The Incredibles, which the Left has taken note of. Guess what: the Left doesn’t like it. There is a long article in this week’s New York Observer about The Incredibles and Team America: World Police with lots of liberal hand-wringing about what it can possible mean that conservative-themed movies are being made and doing well at the box office. Another sign of doom for the Left, that’s what!

David Horowitz has long argued persuasively that Hollywood is actually a lagging cultural indicator (the F-word didn’t make it’s first appearance in a major motion picture until M*A*S*H in 1971, long after the word had become ubiquitous on the street). If so, then The Incredibles may be a sign of growing momentum for the backlash against mush-headed liberal political correctness in our popular culture.

Go see The Incredibles. I’ve already taken our six-year-old twice.

Academia’s "Liberal Group-Think"

Mark Bauerlein, a professor of English at Emory University and director of research for the National Endowment for the Arts, has an outstanding op-ed in the latest issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education. Alas, only subscribers can access the on-line version, but it’s worth trying to track down a paper copy just to have a look at it. Entitled "Liberal Group-Think is Anti-Intellectual," it is a stinging critique of the culture of left-wing orthodoxy that exists at most college campuses today. There are just too many good passages for me to list here, at least without running afoul of copyright laws, but here are a couple of gems:

Liberal orthodoxy is not just a political outlook; it’s a professional one. Rarely is its content discussed. The ordinary evolution of opinion -- expounding your beliefs in conversation, testing them in debate, reading books that confirm or refute them -- is lacking, and what should remain arguable settles into surety. With so many in harmony, and with those who agree joined also in a guild membership, liberal beliefs become academic manners. It’s social life in a professional world, and its patterns are worth describing.

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.

As I say, do try to get hold of a copy of the Chronicle and read the whole thing. I don’t make a habit of doling out mugs in my posts, but this is an exception well worth making:     

Studies in Cluelessness

I’ve often remarked that liberal Democrats operate under a presumption that they have the right to rule, which explains their incredulousness each time the voters deliver them a spanking at the polls (which is becoming more and more regular--Republicans have now won 7 out of the last 10 presidential elections).

Today’s New York Times has an article on the new Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada, with some unintentionally revealing quotes from some top Democrats. Sen. Joe Biden, for example, says that "The idea that people are looking at Harry to sort of be the spokesperson of the Democratic Party, that’s not a role all majority leaders have filled before." Wait a minute: "majority leader"?? Majority leader? News flash, Joe: Your team hasn’t had a majority for ten years now (excepting those few months brought to you courtesy of Jim Jeffords), and you’re not likely to be int he majority again for a while. Deal with it. And learn to start saying the word "minority," as in "minority party." Carville has made the leap; so can you.

Ditto for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who tells the Times in the same article: "If we keep going in this way, we’ll be a minority party." News flash Dianne: You’re there already.

That’s Incredible

After some hesitation about the PG rating, my husband and I took our two kids (ages 3 and 5) to see the new Pixar/Disney movie The Incredibles. We needn’t have worried. It was terrific! Without over-politicizing, I would even venture to say that it was a conservative movie. Villains in the movie include tort lawyers, a French theif, and all the forces that promote mediocrity in the world. Top that off with a lively, healthy romantic relationship between the mother and father characters that is very tastefully and not gratuitously portrayed! The animation and the action were, indeed, incredible. It was, I think, the best Pixar film I have seen yet. And Disney let these guys get away?! No wonder they’ve got problems.

But the most refreshing thing about this movie was the absolute lack of any inappropriate themes or suggestions. The PG rating made me worried because the last movie we took the kids to with that rating,Shrek 2 by Dreamworks, really irritated me with its totally inappropriate and unnecessary "adult" jokes that marred an otherwise adorable movie. At least my kids were too young to get or remember those jokes. Kudos to Pixar for getting it right.