Archives Volume 1 No. 3 May 2000
In this issue:
The more gray that streaks my hair, the more to the political right my thoughts and actions go, the more to the middle the conservative candidates seem to drift. Supposed tried and true Republicans now sound a lot like a plain old Democrat. Without name recognition, it is difficult if not impossible to determine which candidate supports conservative issues.
It hasn’t been that many years ago that term limits were a choice of voters and political hopefuls voiced loud assurances of commitment for the voters demand. Once in office, those same podium pounding politicians suddenly lost their zest for term limits and immediately began campaigning for their next term in office.
Over the last few weeks those who pay close attention to political rhetoric have noticed a distinctive weakening of stances on abortion, school vouchers, education issues, moral standards etc in the Republican candidates for various offices. Although, according to Rush Limbaugh, Democrats (the considered liberal party) voted higher moral standards as one of the most important issues America needs back in politics, growing numbers of Republicans are carefully sweeping such controversial subjects under the rug...apparently afraid to take a stand.
What is happening to the Conservatives? Where are the so-called “ Right Wing” voters and why aren’t they voting? Could it be that the difference between Republican and Democrat tickets are so vague on moral and family issues that true conservatives feel a vote for any candidate is another vote supporting liberal causes.
Republicans toss away plenty of good conservative candidates , choosing instead those tinted with a liberal shade claiming “electablility”, persuaded by the power of the media and money people. In effect, allowing the media and big dollars to purchase the candidate of choice. Under these conditions, voters simply put a stamp of approval on candidates chosen by those who have the most funds.
Over and over again Republicans select politicians that vote more like the Democrats creating a dangerous pattern of party weakness. Recall Senator John Warner during the Clinton impeachment hearings. Although called a moderate, he voted like a liberal at a precise time when conservatives needed him most. Herein lies the danger of watered down conservatives. Politicians shaded with liberal colors tend to vote with the Democrats at the most crucial times. A prime example is the pork barrel spending in Congress today pouring from both sides of the political fence.
Call them moderates, or what you will, Republicans with noodle like spines bending over to appease the liberals are no different than Clinton Democrats. It’s time for Republicans to straighten the backbone , muster up a shred of strength and become conservatives again before it’s too late. Walking the middle line displays indecisiveness and lack of courage. Simply put, Republicans must decide to be liberal or conservative. Pick one and take off one of the faces.
Lissa Roche, the 41-year-old editor of Imprimis, died on October 17th, 1999.
The Village Voice said Lissa Roche died because of her belief in the philosophies of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged.
The coroner’s report ruled that Lissa’s death was a suicide, caused by a single bullet to the head fired by Lissa’s own hand from a gun which Lissa had taken from her husband’s gun cabinet minutes before her death.
Lissa’s husband of 25 years, George Roche IV, blames her death on his father, George Roche III, the president of Hillsdale College, with whom Lissa had secretly been having an adulterous affair the entire time of her marriage to her lover’s son.
The entire tawdry episode is a modern parable, which unfortunately is true. For conservatives, this is a primer lesson about our need to have in place safeguards for accountability for the organizations in which we are involved and for ourselves personally.
The school headed by George Roche III, Hillsdale College, was founded in 1844 as a Freewill Baptist college. Tucked away in rural Michigan, Hillsdale College has been one of the most important institutions in American education. It teaches a traditional curriculum, promotes genuine intellectual diversity, features a world-class lecture series, and publishes a free monthly newsletter which Lissa edited, Imprimis, that reaches nearly 1 million readers. The school also boasts an endowment fund of $300 million and refuses to accept a penny of federal aid. With no government entanglement, Hillsdale boasts about its freedom to promote the Judeo-Christian ethic, which is mentioned in the college's mission statement. In 1995, Hillsdale was ranked the "best value" in the Midwest by U.S. News and World Report for its commitment to teaching.
President George Roche III was viewed as a pillar of the conservative movement. He has written extensively on moral and educational matters in newspapers around the country. When Ronald Reagan won election, Roche was called to Washington to head the National Council on Education Research.
At the same time that George Roche became president of Hillsdale, Lissa began her high school education as a student on a large sailing ship in the Caribbean known as the Flint School, whose purpose was to instill into young minds the philosophy of Ayn Rand. After the Flint School, she enrolled at Hillsdale.
Author/philosopher Ayn Rand was born Alice Rosenbaum. She got the idea for her new American name from a machine, her typewriter, after first rejecting the name Ayn Remington.
Rand had initiated a sexual affair with her student/protégé Nathaniel Branden beginning in January 1955 when he was 25 and she was 50 years old. Rand had insisted that both their spouses give their approval. “We’ll have our year or two together,” Rand explained to Branden, “and there will be no victims, no tragedy.”
The year or two turned into thirteen. Rand’s husband’s alcoholism and Branden’s wife’s disturbing anxiety attacks increased. And Rand flew into a jealous rage when she discovered Branden was having an affair with a younger woman and was no longer interested in his 63-year-old mentor. The woman who had dedicated her life to promoting what she called “the virtue of selfishness,” now demanded her lover give up his right to selfishness because her own right to selfishness was more intense.
The heart of Rand’s philosophy can be found in the 62-page diatribe which John Galt makes at the end of Atlas Shrugged, a piece of writing Rand did while in the early stages of her affair with Branden. “A moral commandment,” Galt informs the reader, “is a contradiction. The moral is the chosen, not the forced; the understood not the obeyed. The moral is the rational, and reason accepts no commandments.” At the end of his speech Gant concludes, “It is your morality that you have to reject.” George III and Lissa certainly did that.
Besides man-worship, Ayn Rand’s philosophy also exalted money-worship. To Ayn Rand, America was symbolized by the dollar bill sign which she wore as a decoration on her black cape while she was alive, and a six-foot high version of which stood as a decoration beside her coffin as she lay for funeral home viewing. Her fictional character Hank Rearden says in Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged, “money is the root of all good.”
Hillsdale’s Board of Trustees never made that statement openly, but their failure to take action against the obvious warning signs of their president and their publications editor speaks louder than words. Roche was one of America's best fundraisers. In his 28 years as president, he brought in more than $324 million, including some $45 million last year. His total 1997-1998 salary package as the president of a 1,200 student school, according to Forbes magazine, was $524,000.
For years, there had been speculation on campus about Lissa and President Roche. Hillsdale Vice President Ronald Trowbridge minimized it, "A lot of us suspected that Lissa might have been in love with George."
One faculty member recalled Lissa and George III returning to campus from a business trip and openly engaging in a long passionate kiss, something that was definitely “not a peck on the cheek.”
"I was shocked, but not surprised…There were signs of impropriety all over the place,” recalls Thomas Payne, a former member of the political science department at Hillsdale. Payne graphically described one sexually charged scene between Lissa and George III which was witnessed by other faculty and said, “Roche’s affairs were not a matter of carnal lust. Roche wanted to be treated like a god.”
Then, according to the police report, at about 1 a.m., on Sunday, October 17, George IV was awakened by a phone call from his father's new wife. She said that his father was having a diabetic insulin reaction. He called 911 and went to the hospital with his father. He stayed there with him until about 3 a.m.
After a few hours sleep, George IV woke up around 8 a.m. Although it was Sunday morning, George IV had a class to teach out in a field about seven miles north of town. It began at 10:00. Almost immediately after George IV left home to go to class, Lissa called George III in his hospital room to tell him she was going to commit suicide. George III delegated to his secretary the task of telling his son.
George IV immediately went to his father’s home, Broadlawn, where Lissa was. She was very upset and insisted on going to the hospital to see George III. Lissa repeatedly threatened to kill herself on the way to the hospital.
In the room were President Roche, the new Mrs. Roche, George IV, and Lissa. Once they were in the hospital room, Lissa Roche confessed to her husband, her father-in-law and her new mother-in-law that throughout her marriage, she and George Roche III had been having an adulterous affair. George IV turned to his father and asked, "Is she telling the truth or is she having some sort of breakdown?" The elder Roche, said his son, “didn't say a word. I could tell by looking at him that she was telling the truth. I saw the look in his eyes. He was caught."
Later that afternoon, when George IV left on an errand, Lissa Roche unlocked her husband's gun cabinet and removed a gun. She stepped out of their kitchen door into the backyard, crossed the grass, and went through a wooden gate down a narrow trail to an open hollow with a stone gazebo. She sat down, placed the barrel of the gun behind her ear, and pulled the trigger.
There was a single gunshot wound to the head, and no note.
After a quick and quiet burial of Lissa’s cremated remains, George III and his new wife went to Hawaii on a delayed honeymoon.
An emergency trustees-only meeting of the full board was called for November 10. Roche flew back from Hawaii. President Roche came in to the meeting with his new wife, who sat silently beside him during the meeting. Roche denied a sexual relationship, but told them that he understood it was over, that he could not continue as Hillsdale president.
George III resigned and issued a statement afterward that remains his only public comment on the issue. In it, he doesn't mention Lissa, his son or any reason for his leaving. “Together we have built a wonderful dream," he wrote. “We have proved that integrity, values and courage can still triumph in a corrupt world. Hillsdale is a monument to those beliefs."
Roche, 65, resigned with a retirement package approved by the trustees with the explanation that he was just too old for the job. The college sent its contributors a letter announcing the president’s departure. Signed by board chairman Donald Mossey, the reassuring letter went on for two full pages without once mentioning the scandal, or even giving a reason for Roche’s retirement. “George leaves Hillsdale with a record of distinguished achievement,” Chairman Mossey wrote.
The following quote appeared in George and Lissa Roche’s officially co-written work, The Book of Heroes. They did not seem to be able to see the truth of their own writing:
"As an historian, I am convinced that there are times of historic change or crisis where everything we think or do takes on the utmost importance. These crossroads come but rarely, but there is every reason to believe we are in one now. They grow out of a massive clash of ideas .... As such, they are difficult to detect, and we do not always recognize the crisis when it arrives. Yet the moment comes for each of us, and what it involves is a choice between the one set of ideas or the other.”
Ideas, as the saying goes, have consequences. Where the idea comes from is even more consequential. Jeff Evans, a Hillsdale senior, stated the basic fact which had escaped President Roche and the trustees of the college: “You can’t have a moral society--a proper, healthy society--without Christ being Lord."
When Chuck Colson spoke at Hillsdale, he agreed to let his speech be published in Hillsdale’s Imprimis newsletter, which was edited by Lissa Roche. When he got the proofs of the article, all mention of Jesus Christ had been removed. Colson recalled in his “Break Point” radio commentary November 30th: “I called Lissa to protest and she told me that it was their policy not to use the Lord’s name in any of their publications. My response was, ‘Then forget about publishing the speech.’ After lengthy negotiations, George Roche agreed to let me make two references to Jesus Christ," Colson said. “I think the title of my speech, ‘Can Man Be Good Without God?’ turned out, sadly, to be prophetic--and maybe helps us understand this tragedy."
Hillsdale’s admissions are down ten percent this year.
Acting Hillsdale President Robert Blackstock said that he doesn't know the whereabouts of George III; the two haven't spoken since November 10.
Blackstock said George Roche IV is still employed by the school but is not teaching. Blackstock described himself as a good friend of George Roche IV but said they have rarely spoken since Ms. Roche's death.
George V, the only child of Lissa and George IV, is on leave this semester from his studies at Hillsdale.
It is time to take back the Shenandoah National Park from the Federal
Government. A noble attempt to rescue and preserve America's natural beauty and wildlife, that began during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, went too far in Virginia with the destruction of entire communities along the Blue Ridge.
From Front Royal to Stanardsville thousands of mountain folk, there for 200 years or more, were forceably displaced to "relocation" housing in the lowlands, and their ancestral homes, churches, and businesses burned to the ground. Families previously linked by a network of roads accross the mountains were separated and links lost that had previously joined counties on either side. Not only were businesses and farms now in the park destroyed but communities on either side, now isolated, shrivelled and died too. Counties separated from each other by the huge swath of the Park that suffered socially have been retarded economically over the decades as well due to the loss of commerce and as the land lost to production was also removed from the tax roles.
This tragedy occurred because some rich people coveted the land for a park and connived with Gov. Byrd and the national government to use force to take it over. Their "humane" excuse was the poor conditions that existed for many families in the mountains. But economic advances and better roads were already bringing forth "commuting" to work opportunities. The same excuse was used for the disastrous "urban renewal" in the 1960's. The only folks benefitting from either were developers - and government. Many of those "experiments" have been dynamited now as utter failures. While these government projects did provide jobs more and better jobs would have been
provided in an expanding free market had government simply gotten out of the way and allowed people to live their own productive lives. In fact government take-owers always shrink the economy even as they destroy freedom.
Sixty years after the fact it is too late to undo the social damage done by the displacement of families, as few are still alive who remember life "before the park." But the principle of justice could be restored by
restoring conditions of private property and free enterprise that existed prior to the park.
Most of the park lands should be given back to the heirs of those it was stolen from. Where records aren't clear or heirs cannot be found it should be sold to local citizens for homes, farms and businesses. County roads would be re-opened Skyline Drive could be kept open as a money maker to entertain city folks.
Rustic farms similar to what used to be there (like those that now exist along the Blue Ridge Parkway to our south) are more interesting to look at all day than rocks, trees, sky and and views too distant to make out much but specks on the horizon. Tourists can still back pack and hike on trails. Small shops and B & B's will cater to a broader audience. Strict environmental controls will prevent any eighty foot long double-wides and the loss of mountain ambiance --- and maximize profits for a half-dozen counties on either side.
The Federal Government now owns about one third of all the land in the nation and pays no taxes on it, but keeps citizens from using it. The Constitution calls for the Federal government to own only such land as is necessary to national defence and for ports of commerce. Who is the Shenandoah National Park supposed to defend us from?