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>NCC WASHINGTON UPDATE, Vol. 8, #43, October 31, 2002 >by Bruce Craig <email@example.com> >National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History (NCCPH) >***************** > >1. Omens, Portents, and Election Predictions >2. Bellesiles Resigns from Emory University >3. President Bush Signs Bill Promoting Historic Preservation >4. News Bits and Bytes: FRUS Documents Made Available; NAGPRA Grants; >Ashcroft Declares No New "Leak" Statute Needed >5. Articles of Interest: Transcript of the Oral Arguments in the >Eldred Case; "New Preservation Gateway Launched" (UNESCO webpage; >posted 10/25/2002) > > >1. OMENS, PORTENTS, AND ELECTION PREDICTIONS >As the Tuesday (November 5) mid-term election approaches, neither the >Republicans nor the Democrats seem to have a clear advantage in their >highly partisan campaign for control of Congress. Following vigorous >travel schedules, President Bush and other political luminaries of both >parties are crisscrossing the country making whistle-stop campaign >appearances in the too close to call races. Ultimately, the party that >ends up controlling Congress will probably be determined by which does >the better job getting supporters out to the voting booth next Tuesday, >and on the "umbrella factor" -- whether or not the weather is nasty. > >To that end, how the parties target and motivate seniors (who vote in >higher numbers than other groups), African Americans (a crucial voting >block in several key races in the deep South), and a new political >niche, characterized by the Washington Post as "soccer moms," (upwardly >mobile, affluent, female voters) may prove decisive. Watch for >last-minute television blitzes targeted to these groups and other niche >voters to hit the airwaves this weekend. Neither party can do much to >control the weather on election day in states where there are tight >races, but keep in mind, Republicans generally turn out in larger >numbers than Democrats in inclement weather. > >Some political analysts find that as a whole, the American population >is socially, culturally, and economically becoming increasingly more >sympathetic to the Democrats. With demographic and economic forces >working in to the Democrats advantage, with the transition from >industrial capitalism to post-industrial capitalism and all that spells >in terms of work, culture, and gender, these analysts believe the >Democrats are better positioned to deal with those changes. Republican >strategists, however, note that the aging, more affluent population >that tends to vote in larger numbers, favors their >party. Consequently, Republican strategists hold firm to the >contention that in this election cycle, the GOP will not only continue >to control the House of Representatives, but will increase its majority >by up to three members; that it will wrest control of the Senate away >from the Democrats; and that it will capture control of more than their >share of state houses. > >Fact is, the Republicans are hoping to buck history. Since 1940, the >party whose leader occupies the White House has lost seats in the House >of Representatives as well as in state legislatures in mid-term >elections. George Bush, a Republican, is in the White House, ergo, >Republicans lose seats. In spite of the unusual factors that make this >election less predictable, there is little reason to think that this >election is so unusual and remarkable as to buck historical trends. > >That said, with the risk of going out on the proverbial limb, perhaps >even eating crow on November 6th -- here are our election day >predictions! In this year's midterm elections the Republicans will >barely hold onto their slim majority in the House, but they will >prevail -- expect a majority of three to four members in the >Republican's favor. > >In the Senate, we put high value in the historically based prediction >system developed by political historian Allan J. Lichtman and >geophysicist Volodia Keilis-Borok back in 1985. Historically, their >assessment model has correctly predicted, in advance, 87 percent of the >midterm Senate elections from 1986 to 1998. Based on eight diagnostic >"keys" (these keys do not focus on personalities, issues, or strategies >but rather on underlying structural features of senatorial elections) >the political competition in 2002 favors the incumbent party in most >states. This results in an advantage for Democrats who are defending >fewer seats than the Republicans. Lichtman/Keilis-Borok predict the >Democrats will "slightly increase their current one-seat majority." > >Given these possible election outcomes, when the "Lame Duck" Congress >meets in mid-November and more importantly, when the 108th Congress >assembles in January, President Bush and his party will find it >increasingly difficult to advance their legislative and political agenda. > >2. BELLESILES RESIGNS FROM EMORY UNIVERSITY >On October 25, 2002 Emory University announced that Michael Bellesiles >- author of the controversial, Bancroft Prize winning book, Arming >America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture - resigned from his >position as professor of history after 14 years at the Atlanta >institution. Commenting on the sometimes nasty two-year dispute about >his research on the infrequency of firearms in early America, the Emory >professor asserted that he simply "could not continue to teach in what >[he] felt is a hostile environment." > >Bellesiles' resignation follows on the heels of a recent investigation >into the "scholarly integrity" of his controversial book. After >publication in 1999, the conservative press, the National Rifle >Association, and eventually several historical scholars questioned some >of Bellesiles' research methodologies and hence his conclusions. > >In May 2002 the National Endowment for the Humanities entered the fray >by taking the Newberry Library to task for its awarding Professor >Bellesiles a NEH-supported fellowship "without due consideration of the >serious charges raised within the scholarly community about his work." >(See "NEH Withdraws Name From Fellowship" in NCC Washington Update, Vol >8, #21, May 23, 2002) and "Newberry Library Responds to NEH Criticism" >in ibid, Vol 8, #22, May 31, 2002). Once what has been characterized >as "the Bellesiles controversy" became a question of scholarly care and >integrity in the documentation, presentation and analysis of archival >sources, Emory University appointed a committee of three highly >respected historians to conduct a probe. The committee worked >from May 5 to July 1 evaluating and researching allegations that >Bellesiles engaged in the "intentional fabrication and falsification of >research data" and "other serious deviations from accepted practices" >of the historical profession "in the carrying out of and reporting >results from research" with regard to probate records, 18th and 19th >century wills, and militia census records. > >The distinguished independent investigative committee - composed of >Princeton University's Stanley N. Katz, University of Chicago's Hanna >H. Gray, and Harvard University's Laurel Thatcher Ulrich - applied >Emory University's misconduct guidelines and the American Historical >Association's "Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct." The >committee focused its investigation narrowly on five questions relating >to Bellesiles' use of probate records that are reflected in three >paragraphs and a table in a bulky, six hundred-page book. > >The committee found no "intentional fabrication or falsification of >research data," found no evidence of "a deliberate attempt to mislead," >but concluded that Bellesiles demonstrated "carelessness in the >gathering and presentation of archival records," and that he did >"engage in serious deviations from accepted practices in carrying out >[and] reporting results from research." The committee speculated that >"unfamiliarity with quantitative methods or plain incompetence" could >explain some of the known deficiencies [in his] breakdown of >data. Furthermore, they concluded that Bellesiles "casual method of >recording data. . . [his] extremely sloppy documentation [and] >carelessness" has resulted in an "unprofessional and misleading work." > >In his response to the report, Bellesiles admits to being "careless," >he acknowledges "errors of transcription" (and has promised to correct >them in the upcoming second edition of the book), and concurs that >scholars probably would not be able to replicate his >research. Nevertheless, he asserts that "the probate records could be >eliminated entirely and the thesis of the book would still >stand." Given the ferocity of the attacks against him, he fears that >"every scholar who challenges received truth" will be investigated and >"before long, no challenging scholarly books are published." > >For the Emory report and related articles of interest on this issue, >tap into the History News Network's webpage, ><http://hnn.us/articles/1069.html>. > >With the committee's report now in the public domain, conservative >organizations and gun rights groups are invigorated and are now calling >on Columbia University to rescind the Bancroft prize it awarded to >Bellesiles in 2001 for his, in more than one way, controversial book. > >3. PRESIDENT BUSH SIGNS BILL PROMOTING HISTORIC PRESERVATION >Historians and historical preservation advocates celebrate a victory >with President Bush's signature on the "Public Building, Property, and >Works Act" (P.L. 107-217), which became law on August 21, 2002. The >measure reinforces the importance of preserving historic buildings and >federal monuments by amending Title 40 of the United States Code, >authorizing and enabling the General Service Administration (GSA) to >take additional measures to ensure the conservation and preservation of >private and public historic landmarks. > >In short, the new law promotes the authorization of new historical >monuments and makes it easier to create historic monuments and more >difficult to destroy existing ones. Under this measure, the GSA will >exercise greater jurisdiction in determining which landmarks and >buildings are considered "political subdivisions or instrumentality of >the State." The GSA is now empowered to convert any "surplus real and >related personal property that is suitable and desirable for the use of >historic monuments for the benefit of the public" and such property may >be used for "revenue-producing activity" provided the activities are >compatible with the promotion for historic monument purposes. > >In addition, the Act dictates that the GSA must submit an annual report >to the President and Congress each January, reporting how it has >"protected and enhanced" the significance of historic monuments and >efforts it will embark upon in the upcoming fiscal year "related to >historic preservation." > >4. NEWS BITS AND BYTES >Item #1-- FRUS Volume Released: On October 11, 2002 the Department of >State's history office released another volume -- Vietnam 1967 -- in >the State Department's Foreign Relations of the United States's (FRUS) >series. Among the issues examined in the volume are American >diplomatic efforts to explore a "possible negotiated settlement" with >North Vietnam, as well as "the military intensification of the war >effort to force a peace settlement." The full text of FRUS, Volume V, >Vietnam 1967, is posted at ><http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/v/>. > >Item #2 -- NAGPRA Grant Availability: The National Park Service >invites proposals from Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages, >corporations, Native Hawaiian organizations, and museums possessing or >controlling of Native American human remains or cultural items to >submit proposals for the FY-2003 National American Graves Protection >and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) grants. Tribes and museums who have not >previously been awarded are encouraged to apply for one of the two >types of available grants: Documentation Awards (up to $75,000) and >Repatriation Awards (up to $15,000). Proposals must be postmarked by >February 28, 2003. For grant forms, guidelines, and more information, >tap into: <http://www.cr.nps.gov/nagpra/GRANTS>. > >Item #3 -- Ashcroft Declares No New "Leak" Statute Needed: On October >22, 2002 Attorney General John Ashcroft informed Congress that no new >legislation was necessary to "combat unauthorized disclosure ('leaks') >of classified information." The Attorney General did, however, suggest >measures to limit unauthorized information disclosure, primarily having >all authorized personnel sign a contract stating that a suspected >leaker "certify under perjury" and "sets out liquidated damages." In >all, Ashcroft and an interagency task force reasoned that any such >anti-disclosure legislation would not enhance or modify the >government's ability to deter or identify leakers. Thanks to the >Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy for >posting a copy of Attorney General's "Task Force Report on Unauthorized >Disclosures of Classified Information" at ><http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/dojleaks.html>. > >5. ARTICLES OF INTEREST >Two items worth noting this week: First, the transcript of the oral >arguments in the Supreme Court case Eric Eldred, et al., v. John D. >Ashcroft, Attorney General that challenges Congress's 1998 Sonny Bono >Copyright Term Extension Act. For the transcript, tap into: ><http://cubicmetercrystal.com/log/eldred2.html>. > >Second, "New Preservation Gateway Launched" (UNESCO web page >10/25/2002) describes the National Archives of the Netherlands and the >European Commission on Preservation and Access (ECPA) "Gateway for >Resources and Information on Preservation (GRIP)," an Internet portal >focusing on various aspects of document preservation." For information, >tap into: ><http://portal.unesco.org/ci/ev.php?URL_ID=6099&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201&reload= >1035562185 >. > > >*********************************************************** >NCC invites you to subscribe to this FREE weekly newsletter! You are >also encouraged to redistribute the NCC Washington Updates to >colleagues, friends, teachers, students and others who are interested >in history and archives issues. A complete backfile of these reports is >maintained by H-Net on the NCC's web page at ><http://www2.h-net.msu.edu/~ncc>. > >To subscribe to the "NCC Washington Update," send an e-mail message to >firstname.lastname@example.org according to the following model: SUBSCRIBE >H-NCC firstname lastname, institution. To unsubscribe send an e-mail >message to email@example.com according to the following model: >SIGNOFF H-NCC. You can accomplish the same tasks by tapping into the >web interface at http://www2.h-net.msu.edu/lists/subscribe.cgi and at >the "network" prompt, scroll down and select H-NCC; enter your name and >affiliation and "submit". >************************************************************** --