Interested in a serious liberal arts education?

Click Here to Visit the Ashbrook Center's Homepage

Hosted by World Observer

Ashbrook E-Mail Update
May 5, 2006

In This Edition: Review of Recent News and Commentary | Other Ashbrook Web Sites | Recent Ashbrook Publications | Book of the Week | Upcoming Events | Ashbrook Podcasts | RealAudio Archive | Donate to the Ashbrook Center

Review of Recent News and Commentary

Latest Podcasts

I did a podcast yesterday with Dr. John C. Green of the Ray Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron. The twenty-minute conversation is about the Blackwell victory and the state of politics in Ohio. It was a very good conversation, Green knows a lot and is articulate. Be sure to listen if you want to understand why the Blackwell victory was no surprise, and why he should become the next governor.

Also, I failed to mention last week's podcast in our last Email Update. Last week, I spoke with Julie Ponzi about my article, "Born American, but in the Wrong Place", a biographical piece about my immigration from Hungary as a child and my love affair with my adopted country.
Posted by Peter W. Schramm

Peter's "Born American"

If you haven’t yet found the time to read Peter’s grateful reminiscences on his life as a new American, find it soon. It’s a wonderful piece.

My dad, a generation older, but only a few years older as an American, read it with great pleasure. For him, a Dutchman who came of age during WWII, the U.S. was the land of opportunity and freedom. In 1953, after three years here, he responded to his adopted country’s call, joining the Army for what turned out to be a 20-year hitch. He shipped out for Europe from Camp Kilmer, where Peter spent his first days in the U.S. When Peter and his family were making the trek for Austria (my mom’s home), my dad was a young soldier, beginning a family while stationed in Pisa, Italy. By the time the Schramms made it to southern California, the Knippenbergs were back in San Francisco, where I was born. While we never darkened the doors of Schramm’s Hungarian Restaurant, I’ve eaten my share of goulash and "stuffed garbage."

Peter’s essay speaks to all of us, native and immigrant, who appreciate in our bones and in our heads, the American promise.
Posted by Joseph Knippenberg

Ashbrooks in Iraq

Two former Ashbrook Scholars are currently serving as Marines in Iraq. These are the kind of guys who think that going to a "sandbox" (as one of them referred to it) like Iraq is "fun." The first of the two pictures is of Avi Zaffini. Avi was only at Ashland for one year before duty called. He will be back and perhaps after another few years with us he will be an educated man. The second picture is of Capt. Josh Kirk, a JAG officer and a graduate of UVA Law School. In the photo he is sitting on a throne that was found in the Al Jaw Palace. Apparently, the throne was a gift to Saddam from Yasser Arafat. Good men… Semper Fi.

Posted by Peter W. Schramm

Bush: Our Worst President?

Gerard Alexander is a bit critical of this Sean Wilentz piece on George W. Bush being the worst president in our history. I noted the Wilentz piece here.
Posted by Peter W. Schramm

Gas About Ethanol

There are a lot of proposals being bandied about on Capitol Hill for how to reduce America’s alleged petroleum dependence. Nearly all of them are silly, according to Alan Reynolds of the Cato Institute, but the silliest is the notion that ethanol is going to be the country’s saving grace. He notes that the production of eight gallons of ethanol requires no less than seven gallons of gasoline:

Unfortunately, there is much less energy in 8 gallons of ethanol than in the 7 gallons of gasoline-equivalent needed to produce it. The Energy Department estimates the highway mileage of a Nissan Titan drops from 18 mpg to 13 mpg by switching to E85 (85 percent ethanol). That is why lavish subsidies to auto companies to produce flexible fuel vehicles are useless—a disguised bailout at best.

Posted by Peter W. Schramm

Rumsfeld and Some Generals

Mac Owens takes up the cudgels on behalf of the SecDef. His conclusion:

Retrospective criticism is easy. Rumsfeld’s detractors would be much more credible if they could point to an instance in which their ability to discern the future was substantially superior to that of the man they have attacked.

Read the whole thing.
Posted by Joseph Knippenberg

What the Moussaoui Verdict Proves

Two things: 1. The Jihadists are not without their reasons for thinking Westerners have become weak in the face of danger and 2. War Criminals do not belong in civilian courts. Terrorism on this scale is not a criminal act—it is an act of war. Trying Moussaoui as if he were an ordinary mass murderer guilty of breaking the law was as insane, if not more insane, than the persona he presented to that poor jury. And I am not without some sympathy for them. There was some talk about jurors fearing for their safety and that of their families as a result of their service. Who could blame them? They didn’t sign up for that job as do our brave fighting men and women. The military tribunal is the place that ought to have handled Mr. Moussaoui.

Peggy Noonan writes nicely about the miscarriage of justice, but, I think, misses the larger point that no matter what happened to Moussaoui at trial, we made a grave error in giving him that trial in the first place. Still, of course, death would have been a better sentence. As a regular caller to the Hugh Hewitt show, Yoni (an American/Israeli citizen) pointed out, what we’re forgetting is that his living will inspire terrorists (foolishly, but nevertheless) to try and take hostages for bargaining. Every second he sucks air he endangers more American lives.
Posted by Julie Ponzi

The Age of Reagan

Jonah Goldberg just got around to reading Steven Hayward’s The Age of Reagan and thinks it is "one of the best histories of recent American politics I’ve ever come across." I agree, but really Jonah, the darn thing was published five years ago!
Posted by Peter W. Schramm

An Astounding Comeback: 1938

Andy Busch writes the fourth in a series on midterm elections in America. This one is on the 1938 elections, when things looked especially bad for the GOP. Yet, some things happened that demaged FDR and gave the GOP some hope. And the Republicans made an astounding comeback, gaining six Senate seats and 71 House seats. This was the end of the New Deal.
Posted by Peter W. Schramm

Weigel on Europe's Two Culture Wars

Stanley Kurtz recommends this article by George Weigel. I concur.

My wife and I have been telling ourselves that, once the kids are old enough, we’ll take them to Europe. I’m getting gloomier by the day about that prospect; the Europe we want them to experience may not be there, unless the movements whose rationales are articulated in this book gain traction.

To be clear about my meaning: Europe for me is not simply a tourist destination, but an essential part of my family’s heritage (intellectually, culturally, and personally—we still have family in Austria, the Netherlands, Germany, and Scotland). The great conversation in which I take part as an intellectual has been conducted on that continent for more than the past two millenia. Some of its most horrific practical fruits played themselves out there in the last century. And I fear that an insidious strain of that conversation will have an even worse effect in the future. Having failed to kill itself by killing all too many of its people (through war, genocide, and other means), Europe may euthanize itself, having lost the will to live.
Posted by Joseph Knippenberg

Jean-Francois Revel, RIP

In the Wall Street Journal this week, the editors remember Jean-Francois Revel, one of the few European public intellectuals of the 20th century who refused to embrace totalitarianism of either the Left or the Right.

Revel’s judgments were not unfailing, and in retrospect he was overly pessimistic about the ability of Western democracies to muster the will and courage to defeat their existential enemies. But by sounding the right warnings about the nature of those enemies—and the places where our defenses were weak—he not only helped win the Cold War, but redeemed the reputation of public intellectuals everywhere.

Posted by John Moser

Un Problema

John Podhoretz thinks that the organizers of this week’s nationwide demonstration’s are secretly in the pay of the the anti-immigration lobby. Good argument. I saw an interview of a self-identified Hispanic fellow (can’t remember what organization he was with) yesterday in which he castigated the US for slaughtering the Indians (he didn’t say native Americans), being an empire, taking Mexico’s land, etc., and now he was demanding that anybody who wanted to come to such an awful place be allowed to do so. Period. Amazing.
Posted by Peter W. Schramm

There Hangs a Tale

I have been reading into Paul Johnson’s Creators: From Chaucer and Durer to Picasso and Disney this weekend. I like it. It is well written (no surprise), which makes some deeper thinking seem lighter than it really is, and I learn something from each page. Look at the chapters on Shakespeare (Falstaff and Hamlet), Jane Austen, Mark Twain, and also Bach; look not to agree, but to see into some of the great ones with Johnson’s eyes. Example:

Indeed, if there is one area in which Shakespeare lacks moderation. it is the world of words. Here he is, in turn, excitable, theoretical, intoxicated, impractical, almost impossible. He lived in a period drunk with words, and he was the most copious and persistent toper of all.

Posted by Peter W. Schramm

Recent Ashbrook Publications

Born American, but in the Wrong Place
by Peter W. Schramm (On Principle)

My mother tells me, though I don’t remember saying this, that I told my father I would follow him to hell if he asked it of me. Fortunately for my eager spirit, hell was exactly what we were trying to escape and the opposite of what my father sought. "Why are we going to America?" I asked. "Because, son. We were born American, but in the wrong place," he replied. MORE

The New Deal Comes to a Screeching Halt in 1938
by Andrew E. Busch (Editorial)

When Republicans and Democrats faced off for the 1938 midterm elections, it had been a decade since Republicans had done well in congressional elections. They had lost seats in both houses of Congress in 1930, 1932, 1934, and 1936, bringing their totals to a mere 88 in the House and 16 in the Senate. Then, a series of events damaged Roosevelt’s standing and rejuvenated the GOP’s chances. MORE

Rumsfeld and His Critics
by Mackubin T. Owens (Editorial)

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has taken a serious beating recently. His critics, including several retired Army and Marine Corps generals, have accused him, in essence, of being personally responsible for perceived failures in Iraq. The first thing to realize is that disagreements between civilians and soldiers about the conduct of a war are not uncommon in American history. MORE

Publications Archive

Book of the Week

Painting the Map Red: The Fight to Create a Permanent Republican Majority by Hugh Hewitt

Book of the Week Archive

Upcoming Events

J. Dennis Hastert
Friday, May 26, 2006 at 7:30pm
Palace Theater,
Marion, Ohio

All of the Ashbrook Center's events are broadcast live on the Internet at:

You can listen to any previous Ashbrook speaker on our web site at:

For further information on any event, visit the Ashbrook Calendar of Events or call the Ashbrook Center, toll-free, at (877)289-5411.

Ashbrook Podcasts

What's a podcast?

RealAudio Archive

This week's feature:

Lamar Alexander on Teaching American History
Major Issues Lecture Series
March 23, 2006

Visit our archive of on-line speeches at:

Other Ashbrook Center Web Sites

No Left Turns: The Ashbrook Center Blog
Features daily commentary on recent news by Peter Schramm, Robert Alt, Steven Hayward, Joseph Knippenberg, Julie Ponzi and other Ashbrook Center Adjunct Fellows.
Our web site for social studies teachers and students, featuring an extensive document library, information on our seminars and summer institutes for social studies tecahers, and an audio archive of previous teacher seminars.
A web site to accompany our Presidential Academy program which will lead selected secondary social studies teachers in a careful study of the pivotal turning points in American history memorialized by the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, and the "I Have a Dream" speech.
Our web site to accompany Thomas G. West's fine book defending the American founders' views and actions on slavery, women's rights, property rights, voting rights, and other controversial issues.

Donate to the Ashbrook Center

The Ashbrook Center is funded through the generous contributions of individuals like you. Please click here to contribute on-line via our secure server.


Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs
401 College Avenue
Ashland, OH 44805