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Remembering Ronald Reagan

If you are into national security, this is a very good article to read about Ronald Reagan.

It is a Fox News article by Ken Adelman. It is not long, but it is too good to summarize.


"I've Seen Many Tears Today in the Eyes of Big Strong Soldiers As We Watch the News Coverage of Reagan's Death"

U.S. Army Spc. Joe Roche has sent us an e-mail from Baghdad about President Ronald Reagan. I'm publishing the whole thing:

Dear Amy, my sergeants gave me time off from stuff because of Reagan's death. At first, I thought I'd just watch the news coverage. ...But maybe to with it, I wrote a letter below. Maybe you can use it. I don't know. Something like this, it just takes the wind out of my sails.


Ronald Reagan was, is and always will be a great inspiration to me. I grew up watching him as president. I think that I have recordings of every speech and event he was a part of. All of my friends know this because my homes have always prominently displayed my best items and pictures of him. Center is always the official White House photo of President Reagan, signed by him.

I find that my fellow soldiers here in Iraq, the young ones, don't realize what a crisis the United States was in at the end of the 1970s. Economic malaise, social disorder, moral breakdown, and foreign disasters. America at the end of that decade was in acute crisis, having fallen back from the Vietnam War, the Watergate crisis, and a general total collapse of morale and spiritual respect. Our enemies in the world were on the march, and America was confused and apologetic for even being there, it seemed. Every president, since the previous generation ended by Eisenhower, had faced one calamity or another to end their leadership in the most cruel and destructive ways. Our military was in disarray, and Americans felt a real sense of defeatism.

Then came Ronald Reagan's presidency. It was only natural that he restored America's strength and self-confidence. One of my most favorite items from my Reagan collection is the full-length video of his 1964 speech on behalf on Barry Goldwater's run for the presidency. The themes that would dominate his leadership in the 1980s were said then with a force of energy and conviction that to me, at least, mirror what is good and virtuous in America.

Reagan was an optimist and a true believer in even the most difficult and worst times in American life. He always saw the virtue of action, he recognized the duty good people have to act, and he believed in the righteousness of American values, ideals and pursuits. He was a man who could give hope and inspiration to all of us even when that seemed most impossible.

His first term as president was a time of intense confrontation and crisis. Economic recession, an assassination attempt on his life and the Soviet Union waging scorched-earth warfare from Afghanistan to Laos to Angola to Nicaragua. Americans were being held hostage in the Middle East, and hundreds of our soldiers were killed in terrorist attacks. Europe began the decade under the ominous threat of the SS-20 missiles that the Soviets had deployed countering all defenses that the Free World had under NATO.

Reagan set out to respond to all this, to fight back and say, "enough!" to our enemies. He said in his first inaugural address, "I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing." By the end of that first term, he had set the pieces in motion. Despite massive anti-U.S./anti-Reagan demonstrations that engulfed all our allies in Europe, as well as intense anti-Reagan demonstrations all over the U.S. by the defeatists opposed to him, he had successfully deployed the Pershing II missiles to effectively respond to the SS-20 threat. Anti-Soviet resistance forces worldwide were beginning to fight back. Reagan was drawing the line in the clearest terms about the evil of the Soviet Union and the virtue of America's role in the world. Do you remember the deep freeze of that crisis period?

The Soviets shot down the Korean airliner, and their leadership was passing from one hard-liner to another. There were no summits, just confrontation. It was perhaps the most dangerous moment, when had things gone differently, the Cold War would have taken a new more destructive turn. Instead, Reagan was re-elected.

I remember my friend, Stacy Pusterino, in high school telling me in 1984 that, if Reagan were to be re-elected there will be a war that will end the world. Her defeatism was because so many people were so obsessed by the negatives and the fears in the world at that time that they could not accept nor even allow for the call to stand up and fight for what we stand for. Many Americans were fixated by the malaise and pessimism of the Watergate/Vietnam years, and simply rejected Reagan's optimism that said we can and must fight back and that we should do so proudly. I remember that period, 1983-1984. It was, I think, the most important moment of the 1980s, when the whole course of events could have been followed for the worse.

Instead, the American people put their hopes in this optimistic and visionary man and he was re-elected. That was the turning point, I believe. Reagan had only been able to lay down the lines to the challenges in his first term. It wasn't enough time to put the weight behind it all to make it firmly institutionalized as the American re-birth. With his re-election to a second term, the world realized that Reagan was representative of America's new resolve and that a full recovery into a full forward winning offensive had been launched that would last to victory. Had he been defeated that year, it would have seemed that Reagan was merely an aberration from our continued malaise. Instead, his re-election made all that Reagan stood for the American standard worldwide.

It was in that second term that all of our enemies worldwide began to retreat. Gorbachev initially was crushed by Reagan's angry resolve at the Reykjavik summit, but quickly realized that the only way to deal with Reagan was to respect that he was a man of true fundamental beliefs and that nothing was going to sway him away from them. The end of the Cold War thus was begun.

Reagan's final years as president were marked by his ceaseless and determined optimism and belief in America. He spoke of a very promising world ahead, and challenged all Americans, especially the young, to take up this hope and pursue every opportunity that comes our way. He repeated his message from 1964: "You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope for man on earth." His inspiration has been with me every step of the way I've lived up to this day in Baghdad.

I don't think I would have left the very comfortable and leisurely life I had in Minneapolis to join the Army were it not for Reagan's inspiration. I had it good, but when I listened to my collection of his speeches, I felt the energy and conviction that he spoke of. Fate and destiny... these were things Reagan knew could be cruel and terribly difficult. Yet you will always see that in him, in his heart, Reagan truly believed in the justice and value of American pursuits.

He showed the American people his belief in God and his respect that our freedoms have been begotten because of virtuous morality in our society. In championing freedom, he taught that responsibility is greatest upon us who enjoy such freedom. We always have a duty to serve our beliefs and convictions. Less than that, we are throwing away the gift of freedom we have in America. Integrity in the law and commitment to free market capitalism are the bedrock to the American way. Reagan worked to restore this when he became president. Today's strong America owes much to him. It was his economic programs that brought on the growth that even Bill Clinton enjoyed and took undue credit for.

In this time of war, even more, I see the impact of Reagan everywhere. Our military is strong and successful because of the support and commitment Reagan gave it. Before he became president, our military was in disarray and crisis. Reagan restored it and gave it intense growth. Our leaders after him have slipped a bit, but mostly that growth is what is enabling us today to carry out the missions we are worldwide.

I think that nearly every soldier I have met, the older ones, admire and praise Ronald Reagan in the most glowing terms. My sergeants, the backbone of the military's enduring integrity, all speak most highly of him. Sometimes this surprises me because before I joined the Army I became accustomed to hearing so much defeatism on the part of many Americans.

Toby Keith and Ted Nugent were here in Baghdad yesterday performing for us soldiers. It was great! One thing Keith said, though, is sticking with me today: "It's no laughing matter when a soldier cries." I've seen many tears today in the eyes of big strong soldiers as we watch the news coverage of Reagan's death. I'm no stronger myself. I've often played Reagan's speeches out here with my fellow soldiers while on guard duty, and talked of him many times. He is still an inspiration.

Instead of feeling a loss for America in his death, we should endeavor to make those attributes of Reagan that were so good a part of our lives, and thereby renew our faith in ourselves and in our nation. His optimism and true belief in America is what we need to hold on to today. In fact, I see many parallels between his time as president and the period we are now living through. He always saw the virtue of action and recognized the duty good people have to act, and he believed in the righteousness of American values, ideals and pursuits. Grasp on to these Reaganesque qualities, and we will make today a good day for America.



Michael Reagan Radio Show Special Audio Tribute to Ronald Reagan

The Michael Reagan Radio Show webpage on the Radio America website has a link to a Ronald Reagan tribute page full of audio clips from the Gipper.

It is a great page full of a long list of clips I haven't been seeing elsewhere, as well as the most famous ones. I plan to listen to every one of them.

One can also listen to the Michael Reagan show live via this website (6-9 PM Eastern), or listen to one of the re-feeds (9 PM-midnight or 1-3 AM Eastern).

Be sure to click on the very top one, though -- it is a montage of clips and it is very, very moving.


A Collection of Ronald Reagan's Speeches

Since 1995 The National Center has maintained an Archive of Historical Documents on this website. I thought readers might like to know that it includes a collection of some of President Reagan's most noteworthy speeches.

I went to it earlier tonight and read them. It is amazing how well they stand up. Even (maybe especially) "A Time for Choosing," which was delivered forty years ago this October.


"I Have Wanted to Revisit France, Since Being There in WWII..."

Readers of this blog will recognize the name of Edward Kitsch, an e-mail correspondent who from time to time has shared observations with me that he has been kind enough to allow me to post in this blog.

Recently, quite by accident, I learned that Mr. Kitsch is a World War II Vet who landed on Omaha Beach. When I wrote to him, he not only confirmed this, but also shared with me a letter he sent to family and friends recounting his return to France, in 1998, including, among many other interesting observations, the reactions of French people he met there, when they learned of his war service.

Readers of this blog know I am not a cheerleader for France. But Mr. Kitsch's recent experiences there give me some hope. It could go without saying that his earlier experiences there, in 1944, are, like those of so many others, simply inspirational.

I excerpt some of his letter here. For those of you who would like to read it all (and I do recommend it) the entire letter can be found online here.

I have wanted to revisit France, since being there during WWII...

I had a wonderful time speaking with the French people, especially their kids. They always thought that my command of French was humorous, and I did get many hearty laughs when I used the wrong words. My French teacher at Springfield High (Illinois), told me. "Vous parlez Francais comme un vache Espanol," which translates to: "You speak French, like a Spanish cow." It is apparently a common expression, because several children finished the sentence for me when I started into it, followed by raucous laughter, as they remembered it from their childhood.

To a person, they were anxious to help me find my destination or hotel, and of course, because of my age and white hair, usually asked about "La Guerre, Grande." I received many "merci-hugs" from people of all ages, along with some unsolicited kisses of gratitude from ladies, old and young. They value their freedom far greater than we can appreciate. This was a reward to me, because I had not felt that they treasured all America had done for them...

When Paris surrendered to the Allies, we rode through in six by sixes, and all of the streets, including the Champs d'Elysees, were lined with grateful people, waving American flags, throwing flowers into our uncovered trucks, as well as fresh French bread and wine.

I booked a tour to the Normandy Beaches, which left at 7:00 AM and returned at 10:00 PM that night. It took three hours in spite of a high-speed toll road to Caen. We visited Pointe Du Hoc at the western edge of Omaha Beach, where they have preserved the nearly destroyed German bunkers and artillery emplacements. Pointe Du Hoc was a very difficult beachhead to take as the cliffs are over 100 feet high and had to be scaled with grappling hooks and climbing gear. Hitler thought these fortifications to be impenetrable. Pointe Du Hoc received its name from the shape of the coastline, which is shaped like a hog's rear leg, viz, a ham-hock. On D-Day, the 2nd Ranger Battalion initiated their assault at this point, and suffered many casualties. The original ruins of the bunkers had six-foot thick roofs. The roofs were laminated reinforced concrete, which spalled off when hit, allowing the upper layers to dissipate the energy of the shell burst or bomb. This preserved the integrity of the lower structural layers.

Most villages in Normandy have a monument, or museum to the heroes of WWII. I was a little surprised to be the only veteran of WWII on the bus, and I did not deserve all of the attention that I received. I was the last person getting back onto the bus at Pointe Du Hoc and got a round of applause. I was so embarrassed as I thought they were putting me down. I was apologizing in broken French, but a French woman stood and admonished me: "Nous attendons, parce que vous etes un hero Americaine." (We wait because you are an American hero.) The guide had apparently told them of my landing, with the 3rd Army at Omaha Beach, which encompassed Pointe du Hoc.

The French tourists would bring other French friends to meet me and praise me, and by the end of the tour, I was starting to believe them all. The 95th Infantry Division was not in the initial assault, so we had an easy time of it, and lost very few men, until north of Paris. When I tried to explain this to them, they simply paid no attention to my protestations. I was a field medic, not a rifleman, but that didn't seem to matter to them, as I couldn't turn them off. Anyway, I'm happy to learn that we were so deeply appreciated by generations younger than me. There were many expressions of gratitude by the people of France. Some of the most passionate praise was from young people, under 60 years old, down to college age.

From Pointe du Hoc we went to the Village of Omaha Beach, which is to the east of the spot where we landed, and in a valley that reaches the ocean. We avoided the flat valley, for tactical reasons, as Hitler had massed many troops, tanks and artillery there, assuming we would take the easy route. It appears to be a fishing port. I believe that this was where our mechanized artillery and supply trucks came ashore, once it was secure for the Allies. When we landed, the beach was already reasonably secure, as we had light artillery fire and some strafing, but not the withering barrage of the heavy guns during the initial hours of the landing.

Our riflemen still found German soldiers hiding in barns, houses and air tunnels of the defense system, as the lead divisions could not delay their advance to search these complex tunnel systems. One of these tunnels ended in the kitchen floor of a farmhouse, which had a wooden floor. Our men recognized that at that time, most kitchens in Normandy had dirt floors, and were a step or two below the living area of the house. When we tore up the floor, we found an exit from one of the bunker systems, and about twenty German riflemen hidden there.

Our division landed at a point probably three or four miles east of Pointe du Hoc as we had this very difficult cliff to climb, and once there, had no mechanized or artillery support. Our purpose was as a backup division in case of an Axis breakthrough, so straggling German snipers were the priority...

In the American Cemetery at St. Laurent, the graves of the dead from the second Ranger Battalion were heavily clustered from Company A, then a few less from company B, C and on. The military does everything by the numbers, so the fortunate men were in Company F. It was quite evident that few of the first men onto the beach lived through the assault. I counted well over 100 graves from Company A, of the 2nd Ranger Battalion, before I gave up. An infantry company is about 250 men, but there were excess personnel at the start of the onslaught to compensate for casualties. I was not the only man sobbing uncontrollably there.

The Normandy Military Cemetery was on land deeded to the U.S. in perpetuity, near Caen. The grave of my closest friend Peter Holwerda was found for me on their computer, but he was buried at a cemetery in Lorraine, which is west of Metz, near the German border. He was also a medic. I had thought his death was before we advanced through Paris, but it is so difficult to remember something that happened so long ago and which we want to forget...

The French Underground did help our riflemen get out the snipers and sympathizers, but they had little firepower and were not much of an organized military force. They were a band of very brave men, as many Frenchmen were collaborators. I also remember having to stop our advance to enter Paris, to give General De Gaulle time to get his troops together for the triumphant entry. General Patton was out of his mind waiting for the very political General De Gaulle. On PBS, I saw a film of the African Campaign, which told of the battle our navy had with the Axis French Navy when passing through Gibraltar, as we went to the aid of Montgomery in Africa. We won!

The French Normandy tour guide, and lecturer, apologized passionately for the lack of French resistance to the Germans entering France. She was very critical of the reigning French president, and the Vichy Government, at that time, saying that they thought it would be the best for France from a commercial standpoint, to become a cooperating nation of the Axis Forces. The movies shown to us at the museum, had in depth errors, as they showed an organized French resistance capturing and holding large areas to the south and west of Paris. The French military had been integrated into the German army and at this point were the enemy. The tour guide was very bitter about their turncoat government.

She was also very critical of the present day Germans, indicating a deep unresolved hatred. She is a history major, doctoral student at the Universite' Du Paris. The European Union will be slow to integrate...

I did not get to the Bastogne area where the Battle of the Bulge took place. I would have liked to revisit Aachen, as well, as it was so totally devastated. I also did not get to Metz, which was our most devastating battle, but transportation for a single person is expensive and time consuming. I'm satisfied that I saw as much as I wanted and have little desire to go back until my 100th birthday...
To read it all, visit here.


Ronald Reagan: Chapter One

This particular evening, all I planned to add to this blog was a letter. It is a worthy letter; one that I hope many of the visitors to this blog will read. It will still be posted, at midnight.

Then came the news about Ronald Reagan.

We have C-Span on in this house right now. It is replaying Reagan's speeches. It is a wonderful thing to walk about the house and see his face on every television, as if it were the 1980s again.

The Reagan years weren't all easy ones for conservatism in Washington, in case you've been getting that impression from the news coverage. But then, easy years don't need extraordinary leaders, and Ronald Reagan certainly was one of those.

Thanks to my old friend Morton Blackwell -- then a new mentor -- I served on the national campaign staff when Reagan ran for President in 1980. I was 20. My job was recruiting young people to vote for Governor Reagan. Because of it, I was able to attend the convention at which Reagan was nominated. I also got to stand near the front of the crowd, below the dais, when he was sworn in. It was a wonderful opportunity, although one could see it a lot better on TV.

The National Center opened in February 1982 with a mission of acting on "emergency" issues. We interpreted this for the most part until 1990 as fighting the Cold War.

That means that we, and I, spent the 1980s running projects supporting President Reagan's deployment of the Pershing Missiles in Europe, his Strategic Defense Initiative, and his policies (ever controversial!) that brought democracy to Latin America.

I was a junior member of the conservative movement in those days, but I was lucky in that I had the opportunity to talk with President Reagan twice. Once was purely a greeting. The other conversation had substance. I'll leave it for another day to discuss what that was about, but for tonight, I want to say this: I was a kid, but he listened to me as though I wasn't. And he really did listen.

Ronald Reagan deserves a lifetime of blog entries. There isn't time to fit a lifetime in tonight, but there doesn't have to be. We'll be talking about Ronald Reagan again. Our great-great-great-great grandchildren will be talking about Ronald Reagan. Whenever and wherever the history of freedom is written; Ronald Reagan will be Chapter One.

I'm ending this blog entry now. C-Span is running President Reagan's speech on the 40th Anniversary of D-Day. I've never before watched that speech without crying. I don't know how I will do tonight.


Just Say No to Slutstuff

Kudos to everyone who complains about what Susan Estrich calls "slutwear."

"In" or not, no store should sell clothing designed to make little girls look like hookers. Ever.

Captain Ed has an excellent and comprehensive post on this (from which the earlier link was cribbed, in fact). I'll add but one thing to it, which is that the problem isn't limited to clothing to teens or pre-teens or even age 6 and up.

Two cases in point, though I could provide many more.

1) When our daughter Katie, now four, was two and needed new dress-up shoes, I took her shopping. The only dressy shoes available in the chain store I chose had inappropriately high heels and seemed to me to be designed to look sexy. Aware that I am an Old Fogy, I spoke to another parent in the aisle about it and she shared my opinion. We didn't buy any shoes that day. (To be fair, another branch of the same store had appropriate shoes on sale, and I usually find fine -- and rather sturdy -- shoes at this particular chain store, so perhaps this was an anomaly.)

2) A few weeks back, I took the kids for new warm-weather playwear. Shorts and t-shirts; nothing fancy. No problem equipping the boys, but a substantial percentage of the girls' shirts available in size 4 were hookerwear. Slutstuff. Not just a table or two, but table after table. I expressed frustration there, too, but got glares from another customer. (Perhaps this is a penny-pinching mom who figures that if her daughter grows up to be a hooker, she won't be asked to pay for either her college tuition or a wedding?)

Which leads me to my final point. Pre-schoolers don't pick their own clothes. The stores are at fault here, but there apparently is a market for this stuff. That market is us, folks, by which I mean parents, mostly, and we need to have more decency.

By the way, the first store was Sears; the second, Target. We've been back to Sears with good results. It will be a while before we try Target again.


Is It Just Me? Part II

Husband David Ridenour, whose musings about the news media were published here last month, is wondering now about a few new issues.

  • With so many things "new" associated with the right (i.e., New Europe, new media, and new money), and so many things "old" (i.e., Old Europe, old media, and old money) associated with the left, why do we still call liberals "progressives"?

  • If treating terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay as non-combatants sent the wrong signal to the guards at Abu Ghraib prison, what kind of signal did liberals and the media elite send to those same guards by repeatedly claiming Iraqis are incapable of democratic governance?

  • If the makers of beverages formerly labeled "juice" can be forced to re-label their products as "drink" when they contain less than 5 percent real fruit juice, why can't newspapers containing less than 5 percent real news be forced to re-label their publications "opinionpapers"?

  • With so many around us incapable of seeing the forest for the trees, why isn't there a public outcry for more logging?

  • Thursday

    Bush Fears the Pope?

    Boy, this article is stupid.

    It claims President Bush's "knees may knock" when Bush meets with the Pope, since the Pope didn't agree with the Iraq war.

    How silly. Bush is made of sterner stuff than that.

    Plus, if the two of them are getting together to air grievances (VERY unlikely), Bush's list of grievances could be at least as long as the Pope's.

    However, when an anti-Bush newspaper (the New York Times) accepts an op-ed from a correspondent from another anti-Bush newspaper (the National Catholic Reporter), one can't expect an article based solely on objective facts.

    I visited the National Catholic Reporter's website. Saw a lot that seems to disagree with Catholic theology as I understand it.

    So let me get this straight. Catholic newspapers don't follow the Church's teachings, but President Bush is supposed to?


    Ambassador to Security Council: You are Irrelevant

    No, Bush's hasn't decided -- as far as I know -- to withdraw from the anachronistic U.N. (more's the pity), but the U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the U.N. made it plain on Wednesday that defining the relationships between the new Iraqi government and the governments of the Coalition of the Willing are none of the U.N.'s business.

    In other words, the Security Council can stuff it if it thinks it can decide what allied militaries are going to do within Iraq. That's up, he said, to the involved nations -- including Iraq.

    Jacques Chirac, meanwhile, is going out of his way to make it clear that his government is an intractable enemy of U.S. interests.

    Good thing for us France is impotent.

    I will give A LOT to have the authority to write President Bush's speech for the D-Day Ceremonies this weekend.


    When the Public's Right to Know Conflicts with the News Media's Self-Interest

    According to Reuters, President Bush has "sought a lawyer" to possibly represent him during an ongoing government probe to find out who told major new organizations that Valerie Plame served with the CIA.

    A lot of fuss is being made so we can learn something -- the leaker's name -- that should and could have been revealed months ago. The major news organizations know how they learned what they reported, but they refuse to tell.

    Some journalists they are! Whatever happened to the public's right to know? I guess that is limited to occasions in which the news media finds it convenient to its own self-interest.


    Government Wastes Our Money; Government Wastes Our Time

    Captain Ed at Captain's Quarters has a post today about the state of Minnesota fining gas station operators for not charging enough for gasoline.

    I'm sure the citizens of Minnesota are very grateful to their government for protecting them from lower prices.

    Reminds me of some paperwork I had to fill out for The National Center last week. A California tax return. The National Center is based in DC, incorporated in Delaware, and has never had an office in California. We're a non-profit and we don't operate side businesses that generate income. Nonetheless, we received a notice from California asking why we had not submitted a tax return. The notice warned that, if we ignored them, they would not go away. So we filled one out. Zero zero zero zero etc. No taxes owed. But what good did this effort do anyone, including the good citizens of California? Just wasted my time and their time.

    In my perfect world, everyone would have to run a business for at least a year, preferably in their younger years, just to inform their perspective.


    Only WE Can Prevent Forest Fires

    Writing in the Washington Times June 1, Professor Tom Bonnicksen explains how we can do as Smokey Bear advised:

    We have only two basic choices for dealing with our wildfire crisis.

    First, we can acknowledge we need, live in and use our forests every day, and accept our responsibility to restore natural fire-resistant forests and brushlands to the uncluttered state that kept them healthy for thousands of years. This means removing only scientifically selected trees. A restored forest is the first and most important defense against wildfire.

    Or, we can let our forests keep growing out of control, knowing the increased tree density is unnatural, caused by human neglect and will lead to huge fires that destroy wildlife habitat, burn homes, trigger mudslides and kill people.

    Science shows there is no middle ground.
    I recommend the whole thing.

    For more writing on the topic, including several on-spot pieces by Tom Bonnicksen, visit our Forest Policy Information Center.


    Warning: Chauvinists Won't Like This One

    Read this post in the new Who Moved My Truth? blog, and then read the one directly below it.

    Thanks to Dissecting Leftism for the pointer.


    Affleck Versus Greenspan

    This Employment Policy Institute essay by Craig Garthwaite on minimum wage increases struck me as hilarious. Or maybe it is not the essay itself -- worth a read in any case for those interested in the impact of mandatiory minimum wage increases -- but the very notion of Ben Affleck debating economics with Alan Greenspan. What a mental picture!

    Thanks to for the pointer.


    Magic Needs to Conjure Some Sponsors

    NCPPR executive director David W. Almasi reminds us that a black face is less valuable than green dollars when it comes to integrating auto racing:

    Former basketball star turned businessman/investor Magic Johnson is the newest black face in auto racing after the announcement that he will co-chair the Executive Steering Committee of NASCAR's "Drive for Diversity" program. The program seeks to recruit minority drivers and race crew members as well as draw more minority fans to the sport. Last year, NASCAR stopped giving unrestricted donations -- thought to total near $250,000 -- to Jesse Jackson after The National Center's Project 21 African-American leadership network and the National Legal and Policy Center exposed Jackson's apparent hustling of NASCAR for money while doing little more for the sport than raising the level minority animosity toward it.

    It's great that high-profile African-Americans such as Johnson and former football star Reggie White are involved in trying to diversify what has thus far been a sport that largely attracts white fans and participants. It's also great to have corporate support for NASCAR's diversity program. But the real support is needed in the bank accounts of minority drivers. It costs millions to race, and NASCAR cannot provide that money. Corporate sponsors need to get behind good minority drivers if the sport is to be truly diversified.

    While Johnson should be congratulated for helping raise the profile of these NASCAR's diversity efforts, the unsung heroes are Domino's, Sunoco, Miller Brewing, the National Guard, Kodak, Lowe's MBNA and Centrix. These are that companies that are already supporting minority drivers. Dominos, in particular, is supporting all four drivers currently enrolled in the "Drive for Diversity" program. Way to go!


    Worth Noting

    This point made was made on Right Wing News:

    In Afghanistan, we were told going in that the war would be long, difficult, and perhaps even unwinnable... our defeatist press was crying 'quagmire' & 'Vietnam' as we bombed our enemies into oblivion.
    It is a observation worth remembering.


    June 6, Perhaps

    Late Friday evening I finally got around to glancing through the Washington Post, which we (predictably) get by home delivery. I almost skipped a Special Section of the May 28 edition published to commemorate this weekend's dedication of the new World War II Memorial on the National Mall.

    I figured the special section would mostly be stuff for tourists. Wrong.

    Among with maps to the festivities, ads saying thanks to veterans and stories about the memorial itself is a montage, World War II Remembered, of personal recollections of the war. These are short stories by regular folks, not all of them soldiers. Some of them brought tears to my eyes.

    I'm picking one out almost at random to provide a sample of the stories they collected:

    I was a paratrooper with the 17th Airborne Division at an airfield in France awaiting "Operation Varsity," the Allied airborne invasion over the Rhine River on March 24, 1945.

    The afternoon before the drop, I had received a letter from my mother that upset me greatly. She sensed that I was going into battle. "Son, I want you to be merciful," she wrote. "Never forget that the young man you are fighting has a mother who loves him and prays for him, just as I love and pray for you."

    Infuriated, I thought: "Mother, what are you trying to do, bring about my death? I am trained to kill or be killed!"

    At 3 a.m. the following morning, we were fed a last meal before the long, rough flight. The Germans were expecting our attack. The flak and groundfire was were the most intense of any airborne invasion in the war. Once on the ground, I was pinned down in an open field by machine-gun fire from distant farmhouses. A group of our paratroopers coming out of the woods saved me by causing a pause in enemy fire. I then joined in charging the farmhouses, only to find that they had been hastily abandoned.

    Bringing up the rear as we passed the last farmhouse, I heard noises coming from a cellar. Convinced that some of the enemy were hiding there, I lifted the slanted, wooden cellar door cautiously and was about to toss in a grenade when I remembered my mother's plea: "Be merciful!" Instead, I shouted down for the Germans to surrender and come out with their hands up. There was silence.

    My second shout brought stirring.

    The first to come up was an elderly grandmother. Then another woman appeared, followed by four or five little children, until 14 women and children stood before me. I shuddered at the thought of what I might have done, and the burden it would have placed on my life, had I not received my blessed mother's letter.

    --John Kormann, Chevy Chase (MD)
    Read these folks, if not today, then bookmark it to read later. On June 6, perhaps.


    Smiting August

    James Lileks' Friday, May 28 Bleat is a must-read.

    After rescuing Gnat from an evil shopping cart, in rapid-fire order he takes on Human Rights Watch, China, France, Germany, Russia, reveals director Roland Emmerich's Inner Michael Moore and caps it all with a coup de grace against the European Union.

    It's a classic.


    This Time, I Agree With Hollywood -- Sort Of

    If viewing "The Day After Tomorrow" inspires you to take action, let it be this:

    Go to the Envirotruth website and use the handy form to conveniently encourage Putin's Russia to stay out of the Kyoto Treaty.

    The Hollywood left wants to spur us to take action. Let's listen to them -- this time.