Wednesday, June 30, 2004

"Your Bloods Will Be the River of Hope for Us"

Sean at the Everything I Know Is Wrong blog has a very heartwarming roundup of selections from Iraqi bloggers today.

If you would like to feel good about something today, read it. Then read it again tomorrow.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:17 PM

Illegal Alien? No Problem Unpaid Ticket? Lose Use of Your Car

NCPPR executive director David W. Almasi points out this interesting enforcement priorities in a Washington suburb:
In Arlington County, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., police plan to adopt a narrow interpretation of a new state law aimed at curbing crime on the part of illegal aliens. The new law, part of a new strategy to fight terrorism, allows authorities to detain an illegal alien criminal suspect with a felony record or previous deportation for 72 hours without bail and to transfer them to federal custody. The police, however, say they will limit their contact with federal authorities only to those committing violent felonious acts, having previous felony convictions or deportations, engaged in alien smuggling themselves, involved in gang activity or those actually engaging in terrorism. Quality-of-life arrests, traffic stops, misdemeanor crimes such as minor assaults and other infractions committed by known or suspected illegal aliens will apparently not jeopardize their continued residency. There's definitely pressure from local Hispanic groups to keep the enforcement light. It is political correctness at its worst.

Meanwhile, Arlington government employees are roaming the streets with a computer-linked camera, taking photos of license plates. If the owner of the car is found to owe unpaid taxes or fines, these city employees have the power to remove the plates from the car - essentially impounding it. If the driver fails to heed the bright green sticker they apply to the windshield and drives the car, the police will pull that driver over. They won't put them in jail without bail or deport them, but they probably won't show much mercy.

Has anyone pointed out to Arlington officials that illegal aliens don't usually pay their fair share of taxes? That might set their whole PC thought process on its head.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:32 AM

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

So Much for Supporting the Troops

You never can predict what is going to bother people.

This correspondent takes issue with the fact that our U.S. Army correspondent from Baghdad, Joe Roche (and we), at times have referred to Joe's unit informally in posts on this blog and elsewhere.
I have read a number of articles written by Specialist Roche; I would correct a glaring error that your military-challenged staff continually make: his unit in the 1st Armored Division is not the 16th Engineering Battalion, it is the 16th Combat Engineer Battalion. Your error tells anyone who reads a Roche article on your web site or elsewhere who has served in the Army or Marine Corps that you are typical Conservative Chicken Hawks who use the military to advance your own ends but would no more serve in the military than a Dick Cheney or a Rush Limbough.

Christopher P. Thompson
West Springfield, Virginia
By the way, the temperature in Baghdad reached 135 degrees yesterday. Joe and his unit, the 16TH COMBAT ENGINEER BATTALION, were working in full gear. Conditions in West Springfield, Virginia, were much more comfortable.

My guess is that this guy's real beef is that Joe's e-mails are encouraging Americans not to be discouraged by the nay-sayers among us.

I wonder about those folks who throw about the term "chicken hawk," however. They clearly believe one has to have served in the military to take a position on our national security policy. Do they also believe only litigants should vote for judges? Only taxpayers should vote at all? I bet many of them would squawk mightily if anyone ever advised that adult non-felon citizens who do not pay federal income taxes (millions of people) should not be able to vote in national elections.

On a personal note, I'm the only staffer who has written about Joe on our website, and I "admit" both that i have used the phrase "16th Engineering Battalion" and that I have not served in the military. I actually considered a military career seriously, but there were two strikes against me. My eyesight didn't meet the standards (pre-Lasik era), and I'm a girl. Even if I had somehow managed to get around the eyesight requirements, 25 years ago, opportunities for women to make a contribution in the Armed Forces were rather limited. So I spent the first decade of my professional career running public education campaigns and rallies in support of President Reagan's Cold War posture. It seemed a reasonable decision at the time. I'll have to ask my assistant what she thinks. She's a Lieutenant, and thereby -- unlike me -- is allowed to have opinions on national security questions.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:33 PM

Sunday, June 27, 2004

"Here in Baghdad We are Facing a Serious Sustained Terrorist Offensive"

In the last few days, the Washington Times, New York Times and Washington Post (here and here) all have run stories about the work of the 1st Armored Division in Iraq. This is, of course, the division to which our corrrespondent Joe Roche and his unit, the 16th Engineers, belongs.

Joe's unit is in Baghdad now and very, very busy. Joe says he's living on MREs and cold water, very little sleep and no time for showers. His last e-mail was short -- he didn't even have time to read his incoming e-mails before signing off to return to duty. It might be a while before he writes again.

But before that, on June 23, Joe had time to write a long e-mail for this blog and convey much information about the foreign enemy fighters U.S. servicemen have encountered in Iraq, examples of the dedication of U.S. troops, and much more. I recommend his entire piece, which is posted unabridged:
I know you are overwhelmed with news and analysis that tells you how bad things are here and how little we have accomplished. Please bear with me a little because I know the reality is far different. I believe you'll see this a bit more clearly from understanding what my fellow soldiers have done.

A few months ago, I recounted to you our efforts and achievements over a full year of missions in Baghdad, as a soldier in the 16th Engineer Battalion. Now I want to focus on our military combat efforts against the uprisings and our continued missions to secure Baghdad against the terrorist assault under way. This has been our primary focus over the past few months since being extended.

The 1st Armored Division, of which the 16th Engineers are a part, led the charge against Muqtada Al-Sadr's uprising. The 16th was in the front in all this in Karbala, Najaf, Kufa and Baghdad. And contrary to the negative news coverage, the reality is that we have won some major victories that are having dramatic impact region-wide. I don't think most Americans are aware of the seriousness of the threats we confronted and defeated.

Sadr's Mahdi Army was backed by extensive foreign fighters and a huge amount support. Iran's formidable Al-Quds Army (named for the conquest of Jerusalem, Israel) directly assisted their attacks against us. They trained some 1,200 of Sadr's fighters at three camps they ran along the Iran-Iraq border at Qasr Shireen, 'Ilam, and Hamid. This was backed by what one Iranian defector to us has said was $70 million dollars a month given by Iranian agents to our enemies -- from which Sadr's forces were directly funded in just the past few months by up to $80 million more. The Iranian Embassy distributed some 400 satellite phones in Baghdad to Sadr's forces, while 2,700 apartments and rooms were rented in Karbala and Najaf as safe houses. Sadr's ability to influence the Iraqi people was further enhanced by 300 "reporters" and "technicians" working for his newspaper, radio and television networks -- persons who are actually members of the Al-Quds Army and Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards.

We also faced Chechen snipers in Sadr's forces who were being paid anywhere from $500 to $10,000, depending on differing accounts, for each American soldier they hit. One sniper hit five soldiers in less then a minute-and-a-half, killing one with a shot in the neck. These mercenaries were sending this money back to Al-Qaeda-allied guerrillas in Chechnya to fight the Russians.

We also have constantly faced Lebanese and Palestinian Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon mixed in the fighting. Their claim to fame for the killing of 241 U.S. Marines in Beirut in 1983 is something we have had to consider every day and on every mission.

Najaf and Karbala are the two most important Shiite cities in the world. They are very densely packed and overcrowded tightly around the mosques that dominate the center of each. Baghdad's Sadr City has a population of over 2 million even more densely populated. Do you see what I'm getting at? The odds against us were extreme and it looked for a while like all of Iraq would collapse in an orgy of violence and chaos that threatened to erupt the entire region. The enemy tried constantly to force us into killing innocent civilians. This didn't work.

The people of Najaf and Karbala were extremely friendly. Kids poured out at times to greet U.S. soldiers because it was the first time many of them saw us. They knew the Mahdi Army was an alien outside militia, backed by foreign fighters, seeking to hijack their holy sites and force a larger regional conflict upon the U.S. When our patrols would go into the cities to clear schools where the militia hid weapons, or to secure government buildings, the Iraqis were very helpful and welcoming, giving much information to us to find and destroy Sadr's forces.

My battalion sent us in different directions to each of the combat zones. We had a myriad of different missions to perform every day and night, no matter how hot or stressful the conditions were. Constantly under the threat of enemy fire, your soldiers performed brilliantly and heroically. One group of my battalion was attacked 139 times by RPGs!

Casualties did occur, and soldiers have died and been wounded severely, including some in my battalion. Nothing of these past few months has been casual or easy. And though being crushed by the extension in April when we all thought we were headed home, how did your soldiers carry on?

Specialist Rodriguez is one example. He broke his leg some months ago. He was offered the chance to deploy out of Iraq. He chose to stay. When his unit was deployed to Karbala, he cut off his cast. A person told him today that "we aren't paid enough to do that." Immediately, he and the other soldiers responded that it isn't about the money; that we do this for much more important reasons.

Others of us faced down car bombs on streets under sniper attack; some carried out sweeps and raids against enemy-held locations; some have been constantly building and reinforcing defenses and holding high-danger critical locations. There is too much to try to list it all. Everyone has been a part of the full scope of the challenge.

In the first 14 days of this month there were 17 car bombs. Several hit locations at which we work. What can I say? The enemy is vicious and desperate. That is no excuse for anyone to retreat in defense of this mission. Bear in mind one of our past war leaders...

"Enduring peace cannot be bought at the cost of other people's freedom," Franklin Roosevelt said. "We will not be intimidated by the threats of dictators (against) our aid to the democracies which dare to resist their aggression."

You saw the most recent bombings that targeted Iraqis trying to join the new police and military services. There is no denying that it is the Iraqi people who are under attack by evil terrorism. Some people get confused when they hear that other Iraqis are participating in these attacks, as if that means all Iraqis are against us. But wasn't Timothy McVeigh an American, and in fact a combat engineer in the Army just like me? His terrorist attack in Oklahoma City never meant that Americans supported him, so why should the terrorism of a few demented Iraqis working with foreign terrorists mean more?

We are confronting a massive terrorist assault against the hopes for freedom here. Yes, we are targets, but so are the Iraqis. Therefore, it is vital that we remain committed to this mission.

We have defeated Sadr's uprising and dealt him a powerful blow that has signaled all potential would-be tyrants that the U.S. is serious. Contrary to the fudging news, Karbala, Najaf and Kufa have all been abandoned by the Mahdi Army. The local people turned on them, sometimes violently. Today local Iraqi forces secure those cities while the U.S. military is present to support them. Going to these cities was Sadr's ultimate move against us, and it was backed by a huge investment by his foreign allies. All that failed, and now he has retreated and is attempting to save face in politics. He offended the people of the cities his forces invaded, he offended the Iraqi people by claiming alliance with Lebanon's Hezballah and the Palestinian Hamas terrorist groups, and he has disappointed his foreign supporters who thought he would derail our mission here in Iraq.

Here in Baghdad we are facing a serious sustained terrorist offensive. This we expected. Just at the point that democracy and self-determination are being advanced for the Iraqis, there will always be these terrorist offensives meant to destroy the progress. We must not cower and apologize for our being here at this time. This is, in fact, the most important time for us to show our resolve. And your soldiers are doing this valiantly.

Next to my housing is a Military Police unit that has suffered several serious casualties in the past days. The destroyed hummwvs are a constant reminder. Memorial services for these soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country have been too frequent. Yet, in the face of this tragedy, those soldiers are holding American courage up like the best heroes we have ever had.

One of those MP soldiers has been wounded in two separate attacks, shrapnel going through each arm. You might think he is full of fear and wants out of here. He was in fact offered the chance to leave Iraq. Instead, he chose to stay. His commanders told him that if he gets hit four times, they're going to force him to leave. He responded, "then I have two more to go."

That MP unit has only been here for five months, but now has several Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts being awarded, in addition to the lost soldiers. ...This is your American soldier.

Baghdad will be the focus of the terrorist offensive for a long time. We accept that and are determined to stick it out. You at home need to remain strong in your support and faith in these soldiers. I will be leaving here soon, but the soldiers that remain will need your strength, courage and prayers.

The enemies we face are trying to wear us down, to demoralize us, and to take advantage of the political season now under way in America. Don't let them succeed. I think that the weakest point of our whole campaign is actually back in the U.S., because people are being impacted by so many negative and dismaying reports and political discourse. I don't want to sound like a recruiter, but I do believe that at a time when the military is so involved in combat operations world-wide, now is the best time ever for you to volunteer to serve.

I'm 36, joined late, and I'm not in good shape. Pat Tillman passed up a $3 million NFL contract to join the military. ...What better way to show the enemy the depth of our resolve than for Americans to volunteer a few years of their lives into our military?

This is an extraordinary group of Americans, your soldiers here. While I'm not as capable as most soldiers are, I am glad that I've been able to spend this time with them, serving our country. The challenges are huge, and the prospects for failure are great, but we are doing the right thing and are on the right track. Every day we are making progress, and these changes are influencing the entire Arab world. This is no small matter.

I read the same reports you do from so many experts who despair of our victories. Some of them have been angry with me and called me a dreamer. I take that as a compliment. Americans are dreamers, after all, who have made the impossible come true time and time again throughout our history. One such dreamer said in 1964 when looking at the overwhelming odds faced then in the world, "If we fail, at least let our children, and our children's children, say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done." That was Ronald Reagan. He kept the faith and remained strong in his resolve, and he won the Cold War.
An archive of Joe's other e-mails can be found here.



Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:32 AM

Friday, June 25, 2004

Family-Friendly Far From Fair? Part III

I received a thoughtful e-mail tonight regarding the conversation Ally (at the Who Moved My Truth blog) and I have been having about family-friendly policies in the workplace and society. With permission, I am sharing it:
Hi. I've had the pleasure of "e-mail-meeting" Ally recently. Hi Amy. Just wanted to throw a childless male's perspective into the ring.

Having read both sides, I can understand each point of view - but here's my take anyway:

As far as businesses go, they can do what they need to do (within the law) to make a profit. I have no problem with that.

As far as the work place is concerned (especially when the government starts getting involveed), I feel that there should be a level playing field. There is not.

Amy said: If they do not hire and promote based on merit, a rival will.

Affirmative Action impedes hiring and promoting based on merit. At times it also impedes the firing of those who've earned it. Let's assume that we don't have to worry about that. Let's look at my situation: I am a 31 year old male with no children. There are five people in my department counting the manager. The manager has children (actually, all the upper-level managers do) and comes in late and leaves early during the school year so he can deliver the kids to and pick them up from private school. I am the "valued" employee in the department... I run things when the manager is away. My salary is the same as everyone else in the department (not including the manager). I can't be promoted above the manager and there is no position between he and I. I can't get a substantial raise as compensation without creating a new position to justify it to the others (or so I've been told). I could quit and look for another job but I enjoy what I do and what I do is not an easy job to find. Besides, why should I look for another job? I'm not the person who's asking his employer/employees to alter schedules, meetings, etc. because I have kids. I'm coming to work and I'm exceeding at what I do. Why shouldn't he be moved to another position or be switched with me? So, because the manager has kids, I get to be vice-manager, work longer hours and shoulder the same responsibility as the manager with substantially less pay. Everything work related is scheduled around his kids' schedule. On the other hand, when a last minute trip out of the country pops up, I'm usually the guy who gets to go b/c I'm single, childless and therefore more flexible. That can be a perk - depending on where I have to go.

You point out that a valuable employee will be seen as such and promoted thusly. Maybe, maybe not. If the one who promotes you benefits from you, that person isn't going to promote you away, especially when you provide much support for her/his absence due to children. Also, odds are, the ones doing the promoting are older than the ladder climbers and probably have children. They don't want to hear your complaints about their perks...I've had this discussion and it didn't go well. They are also from a different generation and generally got married earlier and had kids earlier than my generation (which seems to be holding off on marriage and kids - generally)

My gripe is that too many parents want to have it both ways - they want the affluent lifestyle delivered by two incomes, they want kids, they want (or at least take) the perks given to them for having kids (both in the workplace and on the tax returns) AND they want to "spend quality time" with the kids. You can't have it all.

Case in point: I have three close friends who are married with children. One guy (Keith) works 40 to 60 hours a week as a lineman for a power company (he actually does physical labor). He also does landscaping on his off days to earn extra money. His wife stays home with the kids. They decided that was the best way to raise the kids and that's how they themselves were raised. They have a nice home in rural area, three vehicles and two children. Money is tight, but they aren't "hurting" by any means. Keith doesn't have much free time for his old friends b/c that free time is spent with the kids. My other friends have two kids each. They both complain to me that their wives want to quit their jobs and stay home with the kids. That's great. But, the men nor the women in this situation want to alter their lifestyle. Both families live in $250k, five bedroom houses in a suburb west of Atlanta. Each family has two vehicles that are no older that two years or less than $35K in cost. If they moved to a one income situation, they would have around half the income they have now. Which means they would have to move farther out, get a smaller house and get modest vehicles. The wives won't move away from their mothers, don't want a smaller house and wouldn't do without being up-to-snuff in the fashion du jour. The guys can't give up the giant vehicles and the expensive hobbies they enjoy. The men spend their free time tournament fishing, going on hunting trips, going to the races, and drinking. The women go shopping every weekend and visit their respective mother - kids in tow (unless they've been pawned off on the husband who then sulks around the house drinking and bitching that the women are out spending all the money - which the men are just as guilty of).

I use this example, because I think the second scenario is indicative of most of today's families and the first is indicative of the wealthy or of those who truly put their children first. My mother stayed home with the kids until the youngest was old enough for school. Then mom got a job teaching at the private school we went to until high school (at that time we were tossed to wolves in public school - HA!). Then she got a job. We were far from wealthy. We were lower middle class kids living in the sticks on a single parent income (dad is a plane mechanic for Lockheed-Martin) for most of our childhood. And we survived.

One can argue that a two income family can better provide for the child's college education. Maybe, maybe not. A spoiled brat, that is starving for parental affection and has a free ride through school generally makes for a poor student and a poor employee. On the other hand, some students work their way through school, shoulder huge debt and join the workforce with more character, real world ability and dedication - generally speaking. Of course, I'm biased b/c I've had a job since I was 14, I put myself through school and I bought a house when I was 29.

Kids are far too important to our future to pretend that going to their piano recital, taking them to and from school and ensuring that they've done their homework is "quality time." (What happened to kids riding the bus? Does anyone ride the bus anymore? There's a good place for life lessons - the school bus - a.k.a. 30 minutes of shear hell) Kids are pawned off on the school as long as the school has no disciplinary authority. It's disgusting how many times my boss huffs off to his kids school to demand that detention be forgone b/c he believes his child's version over that of the teacher. WTF?? What happened to going to school, respecting the teachers and keeping your trap shut lest daddy dearest get hold of that fanny?

Amy said: The children your co-workers are spending a small fortune in cash, sacrifices and sweat equity to raise will someday pay your generation's Social Security benefits. Your co-workers won't get a cent more in benefits than you will despite having paid to raise the kids who will make the benefits possible. That's not fair either.

They chose to raise the kids and they got their benefits (workplace, taxes, etc.) many years before the childless will get theirs (with the exception of a perfectly quiet house). Also, you assume that everyone will benefit from SS. There are many people who do not pay into (and will not collect) SS. I'm one of those people. I opted into a retirement program that allows me to use that SS money for my retirement. I won't collect SS but I never planned to rely on it, so I have two retirement plans (a 401K in addition to my retirement plan through work). My opinion is that anyone relying on SS is either in a dense fog of confusion or is a commie at heart (the commie part is a joke).

If one wants children, fine. Take the time and make the effort and raise a smart, respectful, courteous, educated child. A child that will lead this country when we are all old and senile. When I'm in the presence of this child I'll be sure to set a good example, to be polite and courteous, to watch my mouth, etc. But do not pretend to raise a child and demand perks and flex-time in order to be a conspicuous consumer and part-time parent. Do not flood my future with mealy-mouthed adult-kids who expect everyone to give them something for nothing. I didn't chose to make that sacrifice and that sacrifice shouldn't be forced on me in the workplace or when I retire. In fact, it is a sacrifice if done well. That's my BIG problem. It seems to me that most parents do not view child raising as a sacrifice - a sacrifice of time, a sacrifice of money, a sacrifice of opportunity, etc. One is either doing all that can be done to raise a kid in a nurturing environment or one is not. Am I being idealistic? Yes. But parents get equally idealistic concerning their children on topics other than this. It's all or nothing. It's either the "kids"...think of the kids, think of their future, don't burden them with our debt, ad nauseam...or it's not, it's about us and now. If we all agree to be idealistic about the kids in every aspect of their up-bringing, then I'm on board. But if we're picking and choosing, keep me out of it.

As far as my tax dollars go, I don't have a problem with my property taxes going to the schools. I would like to receive a progress report from each school in my county that discloses percentage wise the scores earned for each quarter/semester broken down by school grade. I would also like to see Truancy officers at the mall and I would like to see parents held accountable if their kids skip school or become an on-going distraction to other children (read undisciplined brat).

I'll leave the child subsidy tax thing alone also.

I don't lose any sleep over this issue and I enjoy jousting with parents over it but I don't buy into me owing anyone anything because some else has kids. That can become a two way street...I disapprove of how many of my friends (parents in general) raise their kids, but I keep my nose out of it. When I go to work, I'd rather you keep your kids out of it. But, I'm a hard-ass...just ask my 4 year old nephew.

So there you have it, for what it's worth, the thoughts and ramblings of a southern, straight, childless, single man in these fast, new times.

and to you both, a good Friday,

My comments:

1) Regarding your present workplace situation: to me it does not sound like you are getting a fair shake, but only you can decide if the things you like about the job outweigh the things that aren't fair. The notion that you can't be promoted because there is no job between you and your boss sounds like a dubious excuse on your boss's part to me. One could be created. Or they could give you a bonus. But I know so little about your workplace that I really should not say more.

2) I agree with you about affirmative action. Yet another reason why it -- in its present de facto quota form, especially -- should go.

3) I agree that folks can't have it all, at least, not at the same time.

4) My kids are too young for piano recitals, but, frankly, I'd consider attending a kid's piano recital to be "quality time." That is, if I believed in the concept. In my experience, kids want a parent's time at constant intervals. Say, every ten seconds.

5) I'd like to know how you managed to opt-out of making Social Security contributions. Agree with you on the need to save so one does not rely on it -- but many millions of people rely on it anyway. Given the chance, I'd overhaul the system.

In conclusion, I'll repeat I theme I hope has come through my earlier posts. When quality employees -- the ones bosses don't want to lose -- demand change, over time, they will tend to get it. If not at one firm, then at another. But in the meantime, I agree that inequalities exist. It is up to all of us to encourage flexible workplace policies and get beyond the notion -- so encouraged, at times, by government and labor unions -- that employees aren't individuals.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:54 PM

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Family-Friendly Far from Fair? Part II

Ally at the Who Moved My Truth? blog has a friendly disagreement with some of what I posted here about family-friendly policies in public accommodations and workplaces.

So, in the same friendly spirit, I'll go into a little more depth.

First, I agree that childless persons are at times inconvenienced and at times have expenses (such as taxes for public education and Medicaid for underinsured minors) because other persons have decided to have children. I also believe that childless persons at times benefit from the fact that other persons have decided to have children.

I acknowledge that there is a tax-deduction for dependents in the tax code. We could have a philosophical debate over whether a tax-deduction amounts to a subsidy, but for simplicity's sake in this argument, I will say that it is. This subsidy does not, however, come close to making child-rearing a financially-profitable enterprise for most couples (I will make an exception for the parents of the Olson twins).

Regarding the workplace: Our workplaces are undergoing a shift that will take some time to work through. Several decades ago the norm was a working man and a homemaker wife. Accommodations within the workplace for child-rearing were minimal because the wife shielded the working husband from many child-rearing concerns. As women entered the workforce in large numbers, accommodations increased and continue to do so -- but have not yet expanded to the degree necessary.

Many times, hidebound policies unnecessarily limit an employer's ability to accommodate workers who place a high priority on flexible schedules.

Once such hidebound policy is the notion of promoting workers by seniority. Ally says, to quote just a small part of her observations, "...Employers must be careful. If you are looking at promotion, and a mother with 2 children and a single childless woman are up, but the mother has more seniority.... well, that employer is going to walk a fine line."

They shouldn't. They should promote the person who can do the job better. Companies that don't promote based on merit are slowly strangling themselves. If they do not hire and promote based on merit, a rival will.

But all that is the long run. In the short run, some people are being asked to cover for others who have parental responsibilities (just as motivated workers often cover for the unmotivated, the clever for the dullards, the hardworking for the lazy, etc.). I concede this. The best reaction to this, in my view, is for the childless worker covering for a parent to seek compensation (just as a clever, useful worker deserves more compensation than the dullard goof-off). Maybe cash, maybe a better chance for advancement, maybe to get the bigger office or be the last one laid off in a recession. Ask for compensation just the way the other employee asks to leave early. And if you are in a workplace with rules or labor contracts that prohibit this kind of flexibility on your employer's part, seriously consider a job change, if not immediately, eventually. The flourishing firms of the future will be those flexible enough to adapt to changing market conditions, and labor markets are part of that.

Now, on to Social Security. I mentioned it in my earlier post primarily as a throwaway consolation line, but it is true for all that. Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, abetted by Congresses, gave us a system in which persons from roughly their mid-sixties on expect cash -- loads of it -- from younger workers, and younger workers go along with it. The system requires a steady influx of young workers to survive. I don't think it is unreasonable to note that those persons who raise the younger workers are providing society with a service. The Social Security and Medicare system, however, also are hidebound and need to change. It is not only unfair to ask one generation en masse to support another, it is impractical. As we increasingly are finding out.

So, in conclusion, inequities exist. If you find yourself facing some, demand change or compensation.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:11 PM

Washington Post Lists Immunity Problems, Forgets to Explain Benefits

Today's Page One Washington Post article, "U.S. Immunity In Iraq Will Go Beyond June 30," manages to list quite a few reasons why U.S. plans to extend immunity for U.S. forces in Iraq may cause difficulties, but the article never explains the policy's benefits.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:09 AM

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

1st Armored Division Claims Victory Over Sheik

Rowan Scarborough of the Washington Times has an article today, "Army Unit Claims Victory Over Sheik," about the work Spc. Joe Roche and his fellow soldiers of the Army's 1st Armored Division have been doing in Iraq. The piece begins:
The Army's powerful 1st Armored Division is proclaiming victory over Sheik Muqtada al-Sadr's marauding militia that just a month ago seemed on the verge of conquering southern Iraq.

The Germany-based division defeated the militia with a mix of American firepower and money paid to informants. Officers today say "Operation Iron Saber" will go down in military history books as one of the most important battles in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq...
Speaking of Joe Roche, he's just e-mailed us an update. (Go here for a list of his previous commentaries, some of which have appeared in newspapers nationwide.) We'll be publishing it in this blog shortly.



Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:42 PM

Family-Friendly Far From Fair?

Ally at the Who Moved My Truth Blog asks the following question: "...Where are the perks when you decide not to have children? Why do we pay the same price at the gym when I don't use their childcare and you do? Is it fair?"

Ally doesn't give her own opinion (but she does reference a post that trends against "family friendly" policies by GeekGirl2 on the Musings & Ephemera blog), but I'd like to take a crack at an answer. As a mom of three who was single until 36 and childless until 40, I think it is fair to say I've been on both sides of the question. And having looked at it from both sides, I don't think the matter is a cut and dried as it might seem. Marketplace compensations exist.

Consider gym pricing, as Ally does. Most gym memberships are priced under the assumption that members will use the facilities far less often than they are entitled to. Until a gym is filled to capacity, the more memberships a club sells, the less it needs to charge each member to stay profitable. If a club has unsold memberships available, and offering childcare brings in more revenue than providing the service costs, offering childcare can result in lower membership prices for all members, parents or not. It is likely that any given club is offering childcare not out of charity but because it is good business.

GeekGirl2 focuses her family-friendly musings on the workplace, saying in part: "Not meaning to sound grumpy here, but what is an employer going to give me in return for coming to work every day, not leaving early, working unpaid overtime, covering so-called 'family' un-friendly shifts, etc?"

This question, I submit, is better addressed to GeekGirl2's employer than to the blogging community. GeekGirl2 (presumably; I do not know her) accepted employment under terms she considered advantageous to herself. At the point at which her employer asks her to stay late or assume other duties to such a degree that the employment is no longer advantageous relative to GeekGirl2's employment alternatives, GeekGirl2 (presumably) will ask or a raise, compensatory benefits, or quit. This will be the case whether her co-workers have children or cats.

The same is true for GeekGirl2's co-workers who are parents. Some may have traded income or upward mobility for the chance to work fewer hours, a fact which may be invisible to GeekGirl2. When GeekGirl2 gets promoted ahead of these workers, will she recall that her ability to work longer hours gave her an edge -- that the greater opportunity for promotion was itself a benefit of the longer hours worked?

No two employees are alike. In most positions, hours worked is but one factor that measures an employee's worth (if a century worth of labor union propaganda has led you to think otherwise, review your assumptions). A very knowledgeable, high-motivated employee working 38 hours per week may be more valuable to a company than a 42-hour-week average employee, even if the salaries paid are identical. Or not. What is most predictable is that the employer knows which employees are the most valuable, and is making decisions accordingly.

The more successful a business is, the more likely it is that the employer knows which employees are the most valuable and is compensating and promoting accordingly.

A childless worker faced with co-workers who want less hours so they can watch junior's t-ball games potentially is faced not with an unfair situation, but with a a greater opportunity for advancement than would be the case if all her co-workers were childless.

But, childless workers, if the situation still seems unfair in the short run when you really, really want to go home and can't while you co-worker gets to attend her 25th piano recital, consider the long run: The children your co-workers are spending a small fortune in cash, sacrifices and sweat equity to raise will someday pay your generation's Social Security benefits. Your co-workers won't get a cent more in benefits than you will despite having paid to raise the kids who will make the benefits possible. That's not fair either.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:25 AM

Washington Post Covers South Korean's Beheading With Four Paragraphs on Abu Ghraib Included

The Washington Post apparently found itself unable to run its page one story on the beheading murder of South Korean Kim Sun Il by terrorists in Iraq without spending four paragraphs of the story on the prisoner abuse that took place in Abu Ghraib.

A well-edited, objective paper would have run the beheading murder and the Abu Ghraib update as separate stories. The story about Kim Sun Il's beheading belonged on page one. The minor update on judicial proceedings against U.S. soldiers charged in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal belonged deep inside the paper, assuming it belonged in the paper at all.

The same article reported that "Kim's death appeared almost certain to broaden opposition in South Korea to the country's already unpopular involvement in Iraq," but the Post did not explain why it believes this is so. A good editor would have removed the assertion, or required support for it within the text.

Thankfully, the South Korean government appears unwilling to surrender to terrorist extortion. Such a surrender would be likely to encourage the terrorists to kill even more innocent people. South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun is reported saying South Korea will send additional troops to Iraq.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:25 AM

Monday, June 21, 2004


If you have time, check out the Captain's Quarter's blog today. He has several very interesting stories. I particularly refer to one called "The Failure of European Socialism," and another "Safire: 9/11 Commission 'Manipulated" By Runaway Staff," but there are others as well.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:58 PM

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Speaking of Saudi Arabia...

Jack Rich has quite a firey editorial on his life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness blog. A sample:
Colin, dear Colin, don't let your flacks lie to us. And let's put an end to this dog shit relationship with the Saudis. Perhaps we should occupy the Saudi oil fields and seal off the rest of the "nation" to do to itself as it will. Guarantee: without oil revenues, all foreigners who can leave will. So they'll simply kill each other until a critical mass of rational Saudis realizes there might be a better way. I don't really care, just so long as they no longer threaten us.

And then perhaps we should start getting real in Iraq...
There's lots more.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:50 AM

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Common Sense Environmentalism

Joe Bast, president of The Heartland Institute, has a very interesting transcript on his website. It is from a speech he gave about environmentalism to the Libertarian Party Convention.

Among other things, Joe addresses the current state of the environment, his past as a self-described "hippie freak" and critiques a talk given earlier at the convention by the executive director of the Sierra Club.

Anyone interested in environmental issues will enjoy the transcript from Joe's talk about Common Sense Environmentalism.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:36 AM

Friday, June 18, 2004

I Don't Remember Voting for Kofi Annan

The U.N.'s Kofi Annan is making another effort to claim the authority to try U.S. soldiers in the International Criminal Court. secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...
-Declaration of Independence, 1776

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:05 AM

Kerrey 9/11 Commission Snub Pays Off -- But Not for Him

Executive director David Almasi notes an interesting chain of events thus far lost to the major media:
After much public wailing, the 9/11 commission finally got a meeting with President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney on April 30. When they finally got their interview, however, two commission members - Bob Kerrey and Lee Hamilton - excused themselves early to attend other appointments. Hamilton went to a luncheon honoring the Canadian prime minister. Kerrey went trolling for pork, and it's interesting what happened.

Kerrey, a former senator, was trying to meet with Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Energy and Water Appropriations. Kerrey wanted more money for the New School University, an institution where "education is seen as a tool to produce positive changes in society" and he serves as president. It's not the kind of place known for work on energy and water issues.

Not only did Kerrey leave an important meeting meant to strengthen our nation's security against an international terrorist threat, but his funding pitch to Domenici ended up being only a brief discussion held just off the Senate floor. It was also unsuccessful. Kerrey should be very understanding about the reason why.

The 9/11 commission just released a report revealing that al Queda's initial plan of attack was much broader than what actually happened. The original plan called for ten hijacked planes, with two targeting nuclear power plants. Kerrey, coincidentally, could not get New School funding because more money than expected is needed to fund the creation of the national nuclear storage facility at Yucca Mountain.

When completed, Yucca Mountain will thwart terrorist plans to use spent radioactive fuel that is now usually stored on-site at most nuclear plants as a weapon (like crashing a plane into it). While Kerrey didn't get the money for his school, he should rest easy that the money is being spent with the intent of reaching the goals of the commission on which he serves. Some of the time.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:00 AM

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Media Above the Law?

Glenn Reynolds has interesting insights on a trend I have noted in this blog, namely, the tendency of some journalists to believe the law does not apply to them.

Some of my earlier thoughts on the matter can be found here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:00 AM

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

100,000 Undocumented Workers

From the mailbag on Fox New Channel's O'Reilly Factor:

"[Mexico's President] Vincente Fox couldn't come to [President Reagan's] funeral, but he's sending 100,000 undocumented workers in his place."

O'Reilly didn't mention it, but under Reagan, in 1986, illegal aliens were granted amnesty. I guess Mexico is grateful.

Go here to read O'Reilly's "Talking Points" editorial of June 13 ("Respect for the Dead and for the USA") that inspired the letter I cited above.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:07 AM

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Reagan Commentaries

I'm indulging myself by commenting on some of the things I'm seeing on blogs and elsewhere online regarding coverage of our late President:
Belmont Club praises Reagan, saying:
It's hard to remember how downbeat, how beaten America was in 1984, nine years out of the fall of Saigon; four years after the shock which took oil prices to $80 a barrel in 2002 terms; four years after Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized a US embassy without Washington being able to do a thing about it. Theatergoers anted up to watch Red Dawn, starring a young Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen, whose plot featured a Soviet invasion of the Continental United States...
I agree with the conclusions, but not the example. By 1984, we were well on the way up from the pre-Reagan malaise. The movie "Red Dawn" is noteworthy as a cultural/historical benchmark not because it depicts a Soviet attack on American soil, but because its theme was American youth fighting back. Had the same movie been made five years earlier (which it wouldn't have been), it would have shown American youth too stoned to care.

Elsewhere, the Alphabet City blog has a heckuva story about how the Reagan Administration turned public opinion in Sweden in the Cold War. Hint: They used virtual "remote controls" to trap a Soviet submarine so it would go aground in Sweden. I remember that incident, but I had no idea whatsoever that the U.S. made it happen. Brilliant. There's more if you follow the link.

Captain's Quarters has a good piece on the Reagan Administration as a fierce battle of opposing domestic philosophies. He also links to a very worthy Daniel Henninger Opinion Journal piece reminding people that Reaganities suffered a lot of casualties during the war of ideas in the 80s. He points to vicious attacks on Ed Meese by Joe Biden as an example; it's just one of many and the war's not over yet.

Charles Krauthammer may be mum, but Milton Friedman is willing to say whom he believes is this century's greatest president: Reagan. Sean at Everything I Know Is Wrong has written Krauthammer on the matter and promises to tell us if he gets a reply. Krauthammer appears to be begging to be asked; perhaps it is a future column-in-the-making.

In his life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness blog, Jack Rich explains why those who promote the "Reagan was a negotiator not a warrior" and "Reagan wanted to end the Cold War not win it" theories are idiots. If you don't already know why they are idiots, read it.

Andrew Sullivan thought Brian Mulroney was "a bit of a bore" at the state funeral. It's funny how different people have different reactions. I thought Mulroney's tribute to Reagan was extremely moving. Iain Murray agrees with me. He's another one who remembers that Mulroney was important to more than just Canada. He played a significant role in ending the Cold War himself.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:21 AM

Friday, June 11, 2004

Listening to Talk About Reagan

The was written by Christopher Blunt, president of Overbrook Research, a polling company. Blunt and David Almasi lived across the street from each other in college and were involved in campus political activism together during the Reagan Administration. David passed this over to me, thinking blog readers might enjoy reading it:
Reagan's passing hit me a lot harder than I thought it would. Before last Saturday, I had never really stopped to think about the degree to which he had shaped my personal, political and professional identities. Somewhere in the middle of the coverage that night, I decided what I needed to do: After the kids went to bed, I poured myself a pint of Guinness I'd been saving for a special occasion, slipped "A Time For Choosing" into the VCR and toasted the greatest President of my lifetime.

Wednesday night, as the memorial service in the Capitol was in progress, I felt drawn to the 7:00 pm Mass at the church in our small town in East Central Illinois. I wanted to be connected to what was going on, and the best way seemed to be to join others in praying for Reagan and his family. Our town is not unlike Dixon - out on the Illinois prairie, friendly and filled with people with deeply rooted values. Like President Reagan's parents, my wife and I decided that this was the kind of place where we wanted our children to grow up.

My eight-year-old son announced that he wanted to go with me to Mass. As we drove past rolling fields of corn and soybeans, the two of us listened to Dick Cheney's tribute to Reagan. Cheney was still speaking when we reached the church, and it was only 6:55 pm, so we sat in the parking lot and continued to listen. I was mesmerized, and deep in thought, but my son was clearly starting to get antsy. Cheney finished right before 7:00 pm, and I snapped off the radio. On our way into the church, my son asked, slightly annoyed, "Daddy, why do you like listening to so many things about Ronald Reagan?"

I didn't have time to answer him then, but his question made me do a lot of thinking while we were inside. On our way back out to the car, he insisted again: "Daddy, why do you like listening to so many things about Ronald Reagan?"

I decided the radio would stay off the whole way home. I took a deep breath, and tried to find the best place to start. "When I was eight years old," I said, driving through the tree-line streets of Paxton, "a bad man became President..."

"Did he know he was bad?" my son interrupted.

"Probably not," I replied. "But he did a lot of bad things."

"Like what?" he insisted.

I tried to explain about his grandmother and I sitting in line to get gas, inflation ("everything kept costing more"), interest rates ("nobody could buy a house"), hostages ("bad people in other countries did bad things to us, and the President couldn't stop them"), malaise ("the President said all these problems were the fault of us, the people") and how everything changed in 1981. I told him what Reagan did, and what he meant for me and the country. I also told him how I saw, for the first time, what good the right man can do in office, how that got me into politics, why I worked on Reagan's 1984 campaign in high school and why I waited for hours to see him when he came to my town and why I studied political science in college and devoted all my spare time to campus political activism. Above all, I told him why I chose political polling as a career: it's a way I can use everything I learned to help good people get elected.

People who can do good things in public office. People who can make America better. People like Ronald Reagan - and George W. Bush.

Our station wagon crunched onto the gravel driveway of our hundred year old farmhouse. "Does this make any sense?" I asked.

My son nodded. I don't think he understood everything I'd said, but he didn't ask again why we were listening to all these people talk about Ronald Reagan.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:53 PM

Reagan, African-Americans, and a Few Thoughts

A few words and a confession from National Center executive director David W. Almasi:
In 1996, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found African-Americans almost equally split between conservative, moderate and liberal political beliefs. A Gallup Poll in late 2003 found more blacks identifying themselves as conservative (30 percent) than liberal (22 percent). But the media can't seem to find any of these people.

And I'd like to take this time to apologize for falling into their trap. Of all people, as the director for the African-American leadership network Project 21 - an organization formed to highlight the diversity of black political opinion - I should know better.

As reported by the Media Research Center, ABC in particular has been taking cheap shots during its coverage of the death of President Ronald Reagan. As Reagan's casket was loaded onto Air Force One to travel to Washington, George Stephanopoulos commented out of the blue that Reagan "did not reach out to African-Americans." Anchor Peter Jennings felt that they had "not talked a lot yet about his relationship to African-Americans," as if a dirty secret was being swept under the rug.

But possibly the most unforgivable comment came from Jennings once again, commenting on the crowds of mourners: "we haven't seen many African-American faces up at the presidential library."

In my opinion, Jennings just wasn't looking. Blacks mourned the loss of Ronald Reagan. Blacks benefited from his policies. And many blacks today consider themselves conservative because of who he was and what he did. Greg Parker, a member of Project 21, said, "Those who say such things are misguided and are not looking around hard enough. I myself was ten years of age when he took office and 18 when he left, so I grew up with him as President. He was the reason I became a Republican and a conservative."

To say Reagan did not care about black Americans or do anything to help them during his term of office shows gross ignorance of his presidency. As syndicated columnist and Project 21 member Deroy Murdock points out: "The dramatic economic expansion his tax cuts and deregulation unleashed benefited Americans in general, but black Americans in particular. Rising employment and opportunities for entrepreneurship helped grow the black middle class during the Reagan years. And the fall of Communism made things safer for Americans of all backgrounds." As for his personal interest in black Americans, Reagan - a man of letters - maintained a correspondence with Ruddy Hines, a black boy in the D.C. public schools, throughout his presidency.

As for black faces in the crowd, I spent five-and-a-half hours in line on Wednesday night to visit Reagan in the Capitol Rotunda. The line was the very definition of diversity with regard to race, ethnicity, class, sex, age and lifestyle. Peter Jennings apparently didn't see any black faces because he didn't want to.

But let's talk about my mea culpa. It comes from a conversation I had with Greg Parker as we collaborated on a press release about these media slights of Reagan. I told Greg I was moved by a young black man in front of me in the line. If I saw him on the street, I said, I'd consider him a gang-banger without the slightest interest in Ronald Reagan much less the desire to spend almost a quarter of a day to pay respects to a man who was largely out of the public eye during his lifetime.

I suddenly realized I was acting no better than Stephanopoulos and Jennings. I was willing to simply figure the guy as either a staunch liberal or political agnostic or someone who was more interested in Playstation than trickle-down economics. While that may have been the case, he nonetheless was there, and it is touching.

I shared my stupid statement with Project 21's Mychal Massie. He told me not to feel bad about what I initially thought, saying he knew my heart. And I think that guy Wednesday night knew Reagan's heart. Despite the slow drumbeat of criticism of Reagan and conservatives like him from black "leaders" and their media allies, he saw through it and made the effort to say goodbye.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:45 PM

Krauthammer: Who's First?

Except for the first clause, Charles Krauthammer's "Reagan Revisionism" in today's Washington Post is a must-read.

Money quote:
"'Optimism' is the perfect way to trivialize everything that Reagan was or did. Pangloss was an optimist. Harold Stassen was an optimist. Ralph Kramden was an optimist. Optimism is nice, but it gets you nowhere unless you also possess ideological vision, policy and prescriptions to make it real, and, finally, the political courage to act on your convictions. Optimism? Every other person on the No. 6 bus is an optimist. What distinguished Reagan was what he did and said."
Another one:
"In the early '80s, the West experienced a nuclear hysteria -- a sudden panic about imminent nuclear destruction and a mindless demand to "freeze" nuclear weapons. What had changed to bring this on? Reagan had become president. Like George W. Bush today, the U.S. president was seen as a greater threat to peace than was the enemy he was confronting. The nuclear freeze and the accompanying hysteria are an embarrassment that liberals prefer to forget today. Reagan's critics completely misunderstood the logic and the power of his nuclear posture. He took a very hard line on the Soviets, who had broken the nuclear status quo by placing missiles in Europe. Backed by Margaret Thatcher and Helmut Kohl, Reagan faced the Soviets down -- despite enormous "peace" demonstrations throughout the West, including the largest one to date in U.S. history (New York City, 1982) -- and ultimately forced the Soviets to dismantle the missiles and begin their overall retreat."
One quibble on that paragraph: I wish Krauthammer had included Brian Mulroney in this paragraph. Canada may not be a military powerhouse, but under Mulroney it was a diplomatic one (especially within NATO, where the action was on the nuclear freeze and much else), and a stalwart ally of Reagan's Cold War posture. (Side note: If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and click herefor the text of Mulroney's eulogy for Reagan; it is a beautiful tribute.)

However, that's a quibble. Speaking as someone who put about a year of my life into fighting the nuclear freeze, it is nice to read someone who actually remembers the nuclear freeze debate and understands why it was important. Over the last week I have more than once had the impression that some people think the 1980s were a cake-walk for conservatives. Good grief, no.

Krauthammer ends:
"Rarely has a president been so quickly and completely vindicated by history. The Berlin Wall came down 10 months after Reagan left office. His policies of unrelenting toughness won the Cold War and brought a new peace. That is because Reagan understood that the key to peace was never arms control. Security had nothing to do with the number of weapons; it had everything to do with the intention and power of those who possessed them...

This success is an understandable embarrassment to the critics who opposed his every policy. They supported the freeze, denounced the military buildup, ridiculed strategic defenses, opposed aid to the Nicaraguan anti-communists and derided Reagan for telling the truth about the Soviet empire.

So now they praise his sunny smile. Normally, people speak well of the recently deceased to honor the dictum of being kind to the dead. When Reagan's opponents speak well of him now, however, they are trying to be kind to themselves."
Now, as to Krauthammer's first clause. It reads: "The second-greatest president of the 20th century dies (with Theodore Roosevelt coming a close third)..."

Who's first?

We can talk about Teddy Roosevelt some other time.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:32 PM

Black Activists Decry Negative Reagan Media Coverage

Some members of Project 21 are furious at those in the news media who are saying that Ronald Reagan did not help black America.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:58 PM

More Praise from Black America

The National Center-sponsored African-American leadership network Project 21 issued a press release on Wednesday relaying members' sympathies to the friends and family of Ronald Reagan and praising his accomplishments. Not all of the quotes were received in time to be included in the release. Here is still more support and praise from black America to mark Reagan's passing and his legacy:
Geoffrey Moore (Chicago, Illinois): "The nickname 'The Great Communicator' almost does President Reagan a disservice. It really doesn't come close to approaching how effective he was as a world leader. With Reagan at the controls, America regained its spirit and confidence, the economy grew at record pace and communism fell."

Deroy Murdock (New York, New York): "Every American should mourn the loss of Ronald Reagan and celebrate all he did for this country throughout his extraordinary life. The dramatic economic expansion his tax cuts and deregulation unleashed benefited Americans in general, but black Americans in particular. Rising employment and opportunities for entrepreneurship helped grow the black middle class during the Reagan years. And the fall of Communism made things safer for Americans of all backgrounds."

Jerry Brooks (Spokane, Washington): "Ronald Reagan always highlighted the best of America and its people regardless of skin color. He spoke of hope and opportunity for all Americans."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:01 AM

Note from a Neighbor

Something nice in the mailbag today:
When Ronald Regan visited Canada when he was President, my wife and I made up a large, very neat poster welcoming him ("Friends in Freedom" with the U.S. and Canadians flags, etc. - very nice, we still have it). We strategically positioned ourselves so that both he (in a limousine) and the TV crews could see us very well and my wife, then a young, very photogenic woman, held up the sign for all to see. There were a few hundred well-wishers in our place on the sidewalk as well. Just down the road were some scruffy protesters with the typical ugly signs. When the media went by us they had their cameras off, all pointed skyward and they showed no interest in us. When they got to the few dozen scruffy protesters, all the cameras came on and guess what the media reports and images were that night on the National TV news about the crowd that came out to meet the Reagans? The anti-Americanism we see in so much Canadian media just does not represent the views of the average Canadian. Generally, we find Americans a caring, intelligent, honest and likeable people, just like President Reagan.

Tom Harris
Ottawa, Canada

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:00 AM

Thursday, June 10, 2004

"This One Man Changed The World"

Executive Director David Almasi shares his experiences in paying respects to President Reagan at the Capitol Rotunda last night, and answers the question: Was paying respects worth standing eight hours in the heat?
Immediately after the caisson carrying Ronald Reagan's coffin passed us on Constitution Avenue, the group I was with made our way to the line for viewing in the Capitol Rotunda.

Our group was an odd assortment: me and my wife, my intern, black conservative syndicated columnist and Project 21 member Mychal Massie, my boss from my first job in Washington and her boyfriend and a Pennsylvania state representative and a woman who served in Iraq with the Air Force. I had just met the latter two just hours earlier.

We entered the line at 7:30 in the evening. Dividers and rope lines stretched across the lawn in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pool. The line moved in starts and stops. It was hot and muggy, but no one seems to mind too much.

Although the mood was solemn, people were cheerful and not in the least bit disruptive. Food and water was shared among strangers. A few people with cell phones guided pizza deliverymen through the lines to great fanfare.

The crowd was diverse. There were whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians and people of countless other ethnicities. There were rednecks and bluebloods. Soldiers and police in full dress uniform along with men in business suits who refused to even loosen their ties standing alongside people in sandals and tank tops. There were elderly, newborns, and several pregnant women. People in wheelchairs and those who lacked the gift of sight. All were there to pay their final respects to the 40th President.

Everyone in our group saw someone they knew or who knew them. My new legislator friend, who represents a rural area of northeastern Pennsylvania, was recognized by one of his constituents who also made the trip. Massie was recognized by several readers of his WorldNetDaily column. I saw another old co-worker from over a decade ago. It was like a reunion of sorts.

When we officially entered the Capitol grounds, it was five minutes to midnight. I found this amusing since critics of Reagan often used this time analogy to describe how close they felt the Reagan Administration was pushing us to the brink of nuclear war. How wrong these critics were.

We arrived at the Capitol Rotunda at 12:30 am. The air was chilly - a dramatic change from outside. Members of every branch of the military stood like statues around Reagan's coffin. Capitol Police kept order, but let people stay as long as they liked. Standing next to me in the Rotunda was a somber Christopher Cox, a former counsel to Reagan who is now a Member of Congress. Other congressmen were there to pay their respects and greet mourners.

At 1 am, five-and-a-half hours after we entered the line and eight hours after we left to meet the caisson, we were finally on our way home. Eight hours of standing in heat that caused some to pass out. Eight hours to walk past a flag-draped coffin for just a few minutes. Was it worth it?

Absolutely. I never met the man, but Ronald Reagan is one of the most important people in my life. My first work in politics was as a high school volunteer in his re-election campaign. Admiration of his policies and style of governing made me want to study political science in college. Preserving his legacy is why I came to Washington. It was the same for my wife. Not only am I thankful to him for what he did to strengthen our nation and bring freedom to the world, but also for playing a role in introducing me to my wife.

It's the same at my office. My bosses, who are married to each other, would most likely never have met if not for Reagan's presidency. They would not have the three wonderful children they have now (nor would three other friends who all have children with the middle names of Reagan). My office might never have even been established had he not been president.

This one man changed the world. He did it in big ways and at the individual level. That's why I stood there in appreciation, and why hundreds of thousands of others did the same.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:54 PM

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Paying Respects to President Reagan

Our family paid its respects to President Reagan today.

It's not very easy for four-year-old children to understand that a giant has left us, but as Ronald Reagan bequeathed to our children and millions of others a safer, more prosperous world, he deserved what thank you they could give him.

In this case, it was by hanging around a hot sidewalk at Constitution and Louisiana Avenues, essentially, at the bottom of the literal Capitol hill, for a couple of hours and generally behaving well despite a lack of toys and entertainments. And, I hope, by beginning to get a little germ of understanding that there is such a thing as a United States of America; that good men and women protect it, and great men and women protect it especially well.

Before we left, I showed the children the cover of Time magazine, with its 1980 campaign picture of Reagan. I explained that we were going to say "thank you, President Reagan."

By some coincidence, on Friday evening our son Christopher had taken an interest in watching a Ronald Reagan video containing testimonials and speech clips. Our family had no advance word of the President's then-approaching death. But Christopher saw the video in its case and wanted to view it. I explained that wasn't a cartoon, but as he still wanted to see it, so I plopped him on the kitchen counter and he plugged it into our little kitchen TV/VCR. He watched the whole thing -- about twenty minutes -- much to my surprise. His twin, Jonathan, came by and wanted to look at the tape box, which contained a photo of Reagan with a horse. I pointed out both; he seemed to be interested in looking at Reagan.

Perhaps children know things we adults don't, because the next day Christopher wanted to watch the Reagan video again. After he did, the video popped out, and the Fox News Channel announced that the President was gravely ill. We didn't know whether to believe it, but by the time we came back home from an outing with the kids, we learned it had, indeed, been true. President Reagan was dead.

So, on the day of his funeral possession to the Capitol, armed with memories of video and photographic images, holding three small U.S. flags their father had bought for them, and remembering (maybe) my explanation that we were going to town to say "thank you, Ronald Reagan," three little children and some somber adults went to pay our respects as the President's caisson traveled from the Washington Monument to the Capitol building.

It was hot, and crowded, but we heard no one complain. No one talked about politics, either, or much that was specific about why they had come. Everyone was friendly, but somber. A woman next to me wearing a shirt that made it clear that she works for a labor union spoke to me about how she wouldn't miss the opportunity to pay respects to President Reagan for anything. As a Reaganite, that's not what I am used to hearing from professional labor union organizers. I wondered at her sentiments, but appreciated them.

It got increasingly crowded as the time for the procession drew near, but there was no pushing. Everyone respected those who had arrived earliest, and stayed in the spots they had found open when they arrived. The procession drew close. Police officers on motorcycles and vehicles; military men and women in formation; black cars whose occupants' identities we could only guess at. A band marched by. Funny, I can't remember what the music was, now.

Then the airplanes flew overhead. Loud, almost directly above us, perpendicular to the procession route. The missing man formation.

Then the caisson containing the President's mortal remains. The honor guard; the horses, the caisson itself. The casket seemed smaller than I remembered Reagan being; my husband later said the same. He must have just seemed bigger.

Then a horse, sans rider; the rider's boots on facing backward.

As the caisson approached and passed, the crowd was silent and respectful. Only children -- not just ours -- made sounds and were shushed by their parents. To paraphrase what a surgeon -- a Democrat, if I remember correctly -- reportedly told Reagan the day the President was shot: today, we're all Republicans. Just not necessarily in the partisan sense.

I had told the children we were there to say thank you to President Reagan, but when the time came, I forgot to prompt them. Katie remembered. As the caisson was perhaps ten feet past us, her little voice floated out from her perch on Daddy's shoulders: "Thank you, Ronald Reagan."

When the caisson was out of sight, applause broke out. It lasted a while. As applause goes, it was rather somber. I think people were aware that this was a funeral, and did not wish to behave as if it were a hockey game -- and yet, they wanted to do something to say goodbye.

As the crowd disbursed, we walked along. I kept expecting to see someone I knew. I worked in the Reagan '80 campaign; I've run a conservative Capitol Hill organization for 22 years; we were at the foot of the Capitol building where I know so many staffers. However, except for people who work for or with our own organization, I didn't recognize anyone.

We were still among the crowds when we heard the cannons begin the 21-gun salute. People around us stopped, and turned the face the Capitol. We couldn't see it through the trees, but the sound was loud and clear. We counted, silently. No one moved until it was over.

On the walk back to the car, David and I compared notes. We'd both expected the sight of the caisson to be the most moving part for us. We found that it hadn't been. Instead, that moment came while we were watching the missing man formation. The jets flew by, wave after wave. Then, in the last wave, one jet separated, and flew up and away.

The cloud cover was low. As we watched, the jet vanished into the sky.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:13 PM

Reagan Pulled Gun on Mugger to Save Woman

Here's a Ronald Reagan story you may not have heard before, courtesy of WorldNetDaily: "Reagan Pulled Gun on Mugger to Save Woman."

Thanks to the Right To The Point blog for the pointer.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:21 PM

Mourning the Passing of Ronald Reagan

Project 21 has released a statement, "Black Activists Mourn the Passing of Ronald Reagan."

Some may also be interested in a What Conservatives Think document we published in January, "Reaganomics: Were the 1980s the Decade of Greed?"

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:00 AM

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

The Little Bronze Gipper

This very sweet story is written by a journalist who once derided Ronald Reagan in print -- but who realizes, thanks in part to a gift from his eleven-year-old son, that "the Gipper was a lot smarter than the folks who derided him. Folks, in other words, like me."

The story begins:
It was Christmas six years ago when Ronald Reagan, who died on Saturday at the age of 93, became an unexpected addition to our family, thanks to my son, who was then 11. As every parent knows, kids that age can have strange ideas about what the well-equipped adult really needs, so when Squirt handed me a little box with a mysterious present clunking heavily inside, I expected a clock or cast-iron sock rack or some such equally useless thing. What emerged instead was a small bust of the 40th President of the United States, whose forever-frozen smile gazed up from the wreckage of ribbon and gift wrap with more than a dash of mockery.

A statue of Reagan! A joke, right? His mother must have put the boy up to it. But no, she was just as genuinely bemused. What could he have been thinking to mark Christmas with this grinning, empty-headed lump, seven inches of cast-bronze conservative kitsch?...
It ends:
In his innocence, my son was right. I did like Ronald Reagan, even if I didn't know it at the time. So here's a toast to a simple man who had the wit to ignore his betters and leave the world, all things considered, a finer, safer place than he found it.
Read the middle.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:01 AM

Monday, June 07, 2004

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.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:30 PM

"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.


Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:09 PM

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.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:07 PM

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.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:10 AM

Sunday, June 06, 2004

"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.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:00 AM

Saturday, June 05, 2004

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.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:50 PM

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.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:44 AM

Friday, June 04, 2004

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?
  • Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:05 AM

    Thursday, June 03, 2004

    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?

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:28 AM

    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.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:01 AM

    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.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:00 AM

    Wednesday, June 02, 2004

    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.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:05 PM

    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.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:00 AM

    Tuesday, June 01, 2004

    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.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:02 AM

    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.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:01 AM

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