I look forward to reading Sam Francis in each issue of Chronicles and rarely have a major quibble with his analysis of politics and public policy. However, in his otherwise thorough and accurate critique of the Buchanan campaign (“Revolt of the 300-Pound Beefy Guys,” Principalities & Powers, February), he includes a sentence that could be misunderstood as suggesting Pat might have a chance at winning the presidency. Sam writes, “One major value of the Buchanan campaign, especially since his move to the Reform Party, is not so much that it might win the presidency this year as that it offers a very real opportunity to build a serious, mass-based political party able to compete for—and eventually to win—power on a national scale . . . “

Sadly, no candidate outside the Incumbent Party has a chance at winning the presidency or even to win “power on a national scale.” The elector selection rules have been changed so many times that it now is virtually impossible for any candidate other than a Democrat or Republican win. In all but two states, Maine and Nebraska, all electors go to the winner of the popular vote that state. The real presidential  election takes place on Monday in December when each state’s electors gather at their capitols and cast a vote over which they have no control. The ballots are already typed and the electors just sign their names. An elector would be subject to arrest were he even to try to vote for a candidate other than the one who carried his state. Lincoln would have loved it!

Contrary to what many people believe, Ross Perot’s two campaigns had no effect on the presidential elections of 1992 and 1996. Bill Clinton won 70 percent of the electors in both elections. Perot won zero electors, even though he garnered 20 million popular votes in 1992. 

“But,” people protest, “we have to something to stop them, don’t we?” Yes, we do, but why don’t we do something really effective? For example, let’s use all the money and effort Pat Buchanan, Gary Bauer, and Howard Phillips will expend in the 2000 campaign to get children out of governmental schools. While we’re at it, let’s take all the money and effort expended every year by James Dobson, Phyllis Scholarly, Pat Robertson, et al., and use that to fund private Christian schools and provide scholarships for the poor. If no children showed up at Baal Elementary and Moloch Middle School in August, that would be a real threat to Leviathan. The Buchanan campaign is no threat to the Incumbent Party. 

        —J. Michael Brown
Tulsa, OK

On the Summer School 

I would like to give you and your readers some reasons why I am attending The Rockford Institute’s Summer School again this year—and bringing my husband!

The reading lists are outstanding, and I must admit that, despite my education, I have not been exposed to these writers. The reading list itself was very enjoyable—I could truly appreciate why these works are considered great literature.

The faculty and staff not only made intellectually stimulating presentations, but were personable, accessible, and genuinely enjoyed what they were doing. I particularly enjoyed their evident collegiality and good humor.

For anyone overly exposed to academia and its inflated sense of self-importance, the Summer School is an oasis in the desert.

Thinking people from many walks of life were brought together in friendship and camaraderie—faculty and students. “Professional identity” was secondary to the development of relationships among students and faculty. This probably has to do with the fact that most of us seriously question what is going on in the dominant culture.

The emphasis that the Summer School placed on local community encouraged me to go home and do likewise—to find a local Michigan coffee company (not just Starbucks), to seek out the local USGS topographical map of two rivers nearest my home (in metro Detroit), and to choose a membership in the Detroit Zoological Society rather than an out-of-town zoo (because it’s better to support that which is nearby than that which is cheap). 

The Rockford Institute’s Summer School provides an opportunity for informal professional development, intellectual challenge, lively conversation, and the cultivation of relationships with like-minded people.

Thank you so much for all of the effort you put into it, and for your warm hospitality.

        —Lisa Morgan
Redford, MI

On Praise and Blame

J.O. Tate’s jovial critique of Hollywood gender-benders (“Unisex Multiplex,” Views, February) provides a great overview of the problems with ostensibly innocuous entertainment. As an admirer of the Coen brothers’ films, I would only add to Professor Tate’s discussion of The Big Lebowski that the film, in addition to being a wicked parody of Raymond Chandler, also mordantly depicts nihilism through the Germanic trio that harasses “The Dude” (Jeff Bridges). In one of the more hilarious scenes in recent years, one of the nihilists bleats, “Iss not fair!” To which John Goodman’s character retorts, “Fair? Who’s the f—ing nihilist around here!” Strike a blow against sanctimony!

That said, Professor Tate’s essay contains one minor error: Tyne Daly was Harry Callahan’s partner in The Enforcer, not Sudden Impact. Incidentally, Dirty Harry makes a comment in The Enforcer that complements Professor Tate’s essay. When one of the mayor’s stuffy feminist staff informs Callahan that “His Honor intends to broaden the areas of participation for women in the police force,” the irreverent inspector observes, “Well that sounds very stylish”—a perfect assessment and dismissal of the redial chic so intertwined with feminism.

        —Myles Kantor
Boynton Beach, FL

While I enjoy Chronicles, I was a bit surprised to see Siobhan McKenna’s name mentioned along with “Hillary and Rosie and Madonna and Riot Grrrls . . . “ in your February issue (“It’s a Girl’s, Girl’s, Girl’s, Girl’s World,” Views). 

The late Siobhan McKenna was the first lady of Irish theater. Her film credits include Dr. Zhivago and King of Kings. I had the pleasure of seeing her on stage in San Francisco a few years before she died. She certainly had little in common with the other women on the list.

Is it possible that Marian Kester Coombs was thinking of Sinead O’Connor and simply got her Irish lasses confused? I trust that this was an honest mistake which your fact-checker simply failed to catch. 

        —Siobhan Semmett
Dayton, OH

The Editors Reply:

When it rains, it pours. We regret the errors and thank our readers for calling them to our attention.