Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Wisconsin Public Radio

I am on Wisconsin Public Radio from about 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. tonight, if you are interested. I think it is called the Ben Merens Idea Network. It’s a call in after about ten minutes, 1-800-486-8655.

Trip to the Capitol

Beth Vaderkooi reports on her experience in going to the capitol yesterday. Another former student, Alyssa Guthrie, writes: "We got off the Metro around 3:30 and were caught up in the waves of
people headed towards Constitution Avenue. We got fairly close to the
road, but by the time the casket rolled by, the crowd was at least
twenty people deep. After the funeral procession, we got in line for
the Rotunda viewing. The heat was overwhelming. It was easily 95
degrees with 100% humidity. A steady stream of ambulances were parked
behind the crowd, and one left every 30 to 45 minutes carrying someone
who had succumbed to heat exhaustion or dehydration. Despite all of
that, the spirits of the crowd were quite high. People shared anecdotes
about Ronald Reagan and a genuine sense of community grew up among those
put together. Most of the people around us had traveled quite a
distance - the ladies in front of us had flown in from Atlanta that
morning. The closer we moved towards the Capitol, however, the more the
mood changed. The crowd became quieter and more respectful. By the
time we walked by the casket, no one was speaking. Even children and
babies quieted down. Veterans silently saluted and some people put
their hands over their hearts. What struck me most about the crowd was
the fact that the majority of them were their simply because they loved
Ronald Reagan. A few mentioned that they came because it was
"historical" or an "important event." But I think most just had a quiet
need to honor the president that they loved so much - you just don’t
wait in line in scorching heat for 6 hours to be involved in a "news
event." The talk about putting Reagan on Mt. Rushmore or the $10 bill
has already started, but I really thought that the most appropriate
memorial for President Reagan was the loving throng of people who came
from all over the country to pay their respects. People who loved him,
I think, almost as much as he loved them."

Margaret Thatcher and W. on Reagan

Here is Thatcher’s fine eulogy of Reagan. And this is W’s eulogy.

Reagan: Lion at the Gate

The new issue of On Principle just landed on my desk (it will be mailed on Monday), but you can read it on-line now. The issue is devoted to Reagan, and includes his talk here when he opened the Center, my "Ronald Reagan, American," and most importantly, a long and wonderful piece from Steve Hayward, called "Lion at the Gate." This is the prologue (without footnotes) of Hayward’s upcoming book, The Age of Reagan: Lion at the Gate, 1980-1989. It is a must read, a wonderful piece about the Great Liberator, laying out in detail Reagan’s statesmanship (focusing on "Open this gate, tear down this wall"), with the appropriate comparisons to our other hero Churchill.    

Liberals on Reagan

Andrew Sullivan runs a series of quotes from Liberals in the 1980’s (Strobe Talbott, John Kerry, Anthony Lewis, et al) on Ronald Reagan. You would think they would be embarrased, but they’re not. I love this from Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.: "A few years from now, I believe, Reaganism will seem a weird and improbable memory, a strange interlude of national hallucination, rather as the McCarthyism of the early 1950s and the youth rebellion of the late 1960s appear to us today." - Arthur "Always Wrong" Schlesinger, Washington Post, May 1, 1988.

Media not being taken seriously

VodkaPundit looks at the latest data from Pew on news audience attitudes. "For all intents and purposes, more than half of the populace (everybody except partisan Democrats, and even their numbers for credibility are nothing for most of the press to brag about) has written off the vast majority of the national press. And they’re doing so because they believe that the press has written them off." Here is the full Pew study, note how it is titled, "News Audiences Increasingly Politicized". The elite media lacks all authority, and they don’t even know it. Perfect.

Rage against Bernard Lewis

Ian Buruma attacks Bernard Lewis in the latest New Yorker. He just can’t get over the fact that such a serious scholar of Islam would become a "cheerleader" for the war in Iraq. He tries, unsuccesfully, to explain (what he calls) this chasm. Not very satisfying, yet worth a note, if for no other reason than to learn that he thinks Rashid Khalidi (who holds the Edward Said Chair in Arab Studies at Columbia) is somehow serious, at least in his political judgments.

Sharansky on Reagan

Atlantic blog has a few good words to say about Reagan, and then this good paragraph from Natan Sharansky:

"In 1983, I was confined to an eight-by-ten-foot prison cell on the border of Siberia. My Soviet jailers gave me the privilege of reading the latest copy of Pravda. Splashed across the front page was a condemnation of President Ronald Reagan for having the temerity to call the Soviet Union an ’evil empire.’ Tapping on walls and talking through toilets, word of Reagan’s "provocation" quickly spread throughout the prison. We dissidents were ecstatic. Finally, the leader of the free world had spoken the truth - a truth that burned inside the heart of each and every one of us."

Viewing Options for Reagan Funeral

NoLeftTurns viewers who have good cable systems and satellite systems may wish to watch the post-funeral coverage on CNN/fn (CNN’s financial news channel, not the regular news channel), where I will be offering guest commentary for two hours from 1 - 3 pm eastern time.

Ray Charles

...has passed away at age 73. RIP.

NRO on Reagan

Just calling attention to the wealth of writing on Reagan over at National Review Online. It runs the gamut from abortion and AIDS to his governorship and adding his likeness to Mount Rushmore. There are personal stories by Hadley Arkes,reflections on Reaganomics and more. Take a look.  

John Lewis Gaddis on Ronald Reagan

Back in April John Lewis Gaddis gave a lecture at George Washington University which is to be incorporated as a concluding chapter in the forthcoming revised edition of his classic 1982 work Strategies of Containment. To the dismay of his academic audience, his assessment of Reagan’s foreign policy is almost entirely favorable.

Gaddis began by noting that he ended the original edition of Strategies of Containment on a pessimistic note. Containment, he wrote at the time, "appeared to have reached a point of crisis, if not a dead end." But that was in 1981, before anyone had a clear sense of what the Reagan foreign policy would be. Over twenty years later, the author now claims that:

Ronald Reagan – not his advisers, but Reagan himself – deserves to be ranked alongside Kennan, Nitze, Eisenhower, Dulles, Rostow, Nixon and Kissinger as a serious strategist of containment. Indeed, I will go beyond that to argue that Reagan succeeded, where they all failed, to achieve a workable synthesis of symmetrical and asymmetrical containment – drawing upon the strengths of each approach while avoiding their weaknesses – and that it was that accomplishment, together with the accession to power of Mikhail Gorbachev, that brought the Cold War to an end.

No Left Turns Mug Drawing Winners for May

Congratulations to this month’s winners of a No Left Turns mug! The winners are as follows:

Kevin Barker

Travis Smith

Jorge Amselle

Ronald Bernheim

Paul Oliu

Thanks to all who entered. An email has been sent to the winners. If you are listed as a winner and did not receive an email, contact Ben Kunkel. If you didn’t win this month, enter June’s drawing.

Cheney on Reagan

I thought Vice-President Dick Cheney’s remarks at the state funeral were first class. This is the White House (so, official, I guess) version.

The Critics

The Left cannot be pleased with the overwhelming national turnout and support for the legacy and achievements of Ronald Reagan. For starters, this has interrupted the anti-Bush media campaign, and put the Kerry campaign on a week-long hiatus. But more importantly, it has shown, contrary to Danny Glover’s prediction, that Reagan will not be remembered first and foremost for Iran-Contra. Of course, the fact that liberals like Daschle and Clinton long to share in the limelight and stand ready to praise our fallen hero only goes to show that something is to be gained by aligning yourself with Reagan and his greatness. The public’s support has forced the Dems to praise the man they once derided. But the Left can’t hide all of its disdain for Reagan, especially now that it’s clear how history is likely to remember him. Wes Pruden had these fine words on the Left’s "virulent venom." And then there’s this report on the Left’s web-based demonization. Pity.

Cheney’s Eulogy to Reagan

Amidst the flow of remembrances and recollections honoring President Reagan that continues apace, do read Cheney’s eulogy to President Reagan (delivered yesterday at the state funeral in the Capitol Building). Here are a few excerpts:

He once said "There’s no question, I am an idealist," which is another way of saying, "I am an American."

And who else but Ronald Reagan could face his own decline and death with a final message of hope to his country, telling us that for America, there is always a bright dawn ahead?

Fellow Americans, here lies a graceful and a gallant man.

Finally, his words to Nancy Reagan, who must be feeling the weight of the world as she must bear her grief with us not for a few hours or a day but an entire week, were a fitting and poignant conclusion to the eulogy.


This Fox story includes a number of lines from the eulogies by Senator Ted Stevens, Speaker Dennis Hastert, and Vice President Cheney. I must say that I found Cheney’s speech quite moving. FoxNews has the video of Cheney’s eulogy in case you missed it.

I don’t have the media report to prove it, but I have it on good authority that Bill Clinton is quite unhappy with Mrs. Reagan. Turns out Clinton asked to speak at one of the ceremonies, and Mrs. Reagan refused. Again, on good report, President Reagan had asked that his funeral include only remarks by his own Vice President, and whomever turned out to be Speaker of the House, President pro tempore of the Senate, and the President of the United States at the time of his death. Of course, all of these men turned out to be Republicans -- and word in Washington is that Nancy Pelosi is fuming.

As it turns out, here’s what the WaTimes reported on the subject.

More on Ronald Reagan

Steve Hayward reflects on Reagan’s start in California in this op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle, and on the Cold War in the Claremont Review of Books. Julie Ann Ponzi writes a lovely remembrance for Ashbrook. Max Boot reflects on what Reagan’s political opponents thought of him while he was president (an "amiable dunce," etc.) and notes that history will have a different opinion. Arnold Schwarzennegger explains why Reagan is his hero. Newt Gingrich connects Reagan and FDR. Stephen Moore explains why Reaganomics won the day. James Taranto reflects on what makes presidents great. And Ralph Peters recollects (he joined the Army in 1976 and was in OCS training in 1980) how Reagan helped the military regain its fighting spirit.

Still More Reagan v. RFK

One of the rhetorical questions Reagan asked in that debate was about America’s brief monopoly of nuclear weapons in the 1940s: “Can you honestly say that had the Soviet Union been in a comparable position with that bomb, or today’s Red Chinese, that the world would not today have been conquered with that force?”

Winston Churchill said this in 1948: “What do you suppose would be the position this afternoon had it been Communist Russia instead of free enterprise America which had created the atomic weapon? Instead of being a somber guarantee of peace it would have become an irresistible method of human enslavement.”

More on Reagan v. RFK

You will look in vain in any of the liberal biographies of Robert Kennedy for a single mention of his debate with Reagan, which even Kennedy realized he had lost to the Gipper. As he was leaving the TV studio, Bobby growled at his aide Frank Mankiewicz, "Who the f--- got me into this??"

CBS taped the show, and reportedly had to edit it down in part to downplay the rudeness and radicalism of the student audience. The only exception to this rudeness was a question from an American Rhodes scholar in the student audience--faormer basketball player and later U.S. Senator Bill Bradley.

Reagan debating Robert Kennedy

Ronald Reagan debated Robert F. Kennedy in 1967 (on CBS TV and radio). This is the whole transcript from the Kennedy Library. Get a cup of coffee, read it, and decide whether or not Reagan was a lightweight, as his detractors continue to claim. (Thanks to Realclearpolitics  

Increase in Local Ali Baba Activity

Regular readers of this blog will note that I reported two IEDs found in Tuz in the course of two days. When the second IED was found, the base launched a mission that night to provide additional presence patrols and checkpoints in the city. I went out with a group from the 120th Infantry who were setting up a checkpoint covering a bridge in the city. The searches conducted at the checkpoint were relatively uneventful. A number of trucks came through loaded with watermelons and chickens, and a couple of vehicles came by shuttling individuals from the surrounding villages to the city’s hospital. While on the checkpoint, however, we heard gun shots from across town. A Special Forces unit came across individuals who appeared to be setting an IED. When the suspects rushed to their vehicle, a firefight ensued, but the vehicle ultimately escaped. On our way back to the base later that evening, we reached a road very close to base where we were stopped by Lt. Hunt because of a possible IED further down the road. I left the 120th guys and joined up with Lt. Hunt to wait for the Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) team.

The possible IED was set in the center of the road. Lt. Hunt took me over toward it so that I could get a closer look and snap a few pictures. It was clear that the person who placed the object wanted it to be seen: they placed a line of rocks across the road, stood up a sandbag in the middle of the array, and propped up a piece of cardboard on top of the sandbag. After I’d taken my pictures, we returned to the vehicle to wait for EOD. When EOD began their approach, Lt. Smith and I walked toward the object with the intention of going around it--at a safe distance mind you--to get to the other side where the EOD would be operating. The road was pitch black, and shortly into our walk, Lt. Smith suggested that we must be getting close to the IED by now. I depressed my shutter button to take advantage of the camera’s bright "pre-flash" light, only to find that we were a few short meters from the object. We took a few steps back before moving around the object from a safer distance. The "IED" was ultimately found to be a fake--just a sandbag filled with junk. Sometimes teens play "pranks" like this--complete with wires sticking out of the would-be IEDs. But at times this kind of decoy is intended to get convoys to stop short of the "IED" in what is the kill zone of the real, hidden IEDs.

While I have not heard news of any new IEDs in the last couple of days, there is news of increased banditry in the area. For example, last night, the platoon received a late night call for a Quick Reaction Force mission to assist Coalition elements that were engaging bandits, but were recalled just as they were preparing to leave the gate because the situation was under control.

The cumulative effect of these incidents is a modest uptick in the terrorist and criminal activity in the local zone of operations--an area which has been relatively quiet for the month I have been here. This escalation is not terribly surprising. Al Qaeda operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi expressly called for terrorists to step up violence prior to June 30th, while they could use what he called the "pretext" of American occupation to provide some justification for their actions. The region is still relatively safe, and the locals, who the troopers and I have regular contact with, are overwhelmingly pro-Coalition. However, as is the case elsewhere in Iraq, there is a small percentage of individuals in the area who will cause mayhem when and where they can.

Good news for Iraq

Iraq’s new prime minister "announced an agreement Monday by nine political parties to dissolve their militias, integrating some of the 100,000 fighters into the army and police and pensioning off the rest to firm up government control ahead of the transfer of sovereignty." And, a U.S. led special forces freed three Italians and a Pole held hostage in Iraq and captured some of their abductors in a bloodless rescue mission Tuesday.

This is also very good news: The U.N. Security Council "gave a resounding 15-0 endorsement Tuesday to a U.S. resolution backing the transfer of sovereignty to Iraq’s new government 14 months after the fall of Saddam Hussein. President Bush predicted the measure would instill democracy and be a ’catalyst for change’ in the Middle East." As far as I can tell we, and the Iraqis, got everything we wanted in this resolution. This meditation by John Zvesper on the meeting between Bush and Chirac during the Normandy celebrations merits careful reading.

The end of freedom in Zimbabwe

The government of Zimbabwe announced Tuesday that all farmland will be nationalized and private land ownership abolished. “There shall be no such thing as private land,” Land Reform Minister John Nkomo said. This is the MSNBC report’s last sentence: "United Nations crop forecasts predict Zimbabwe, once a regional breadbasket, will produce only half its food needs this year." Next year it will be even less.

Morel Reviews Guelzo on Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation

Entitled "The Lonely Emancipator", my review of Allen C. Guelzo’s excellent book on Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation just surfaced on-line at Books & Culture: A Christian Review. In it, I argue that

Guelzo renders a meticulous and altogether persuasive account of how the Emancipation Proclamation was Lincoln’s supreme act of political prudence. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation is now the definitive book on the defining act of Lincoln’s presidency, what he called "the central act of my administration, and the greatest event of the 19th century." We will need no other in our lifetime.

Because his book was published in 2004, it was not up for the Pulitzer this year. If it does not get it next year, along with a truckload of other awards, there is no justice in the world. At least Gettysburg College has seen fit to hire him as their Director of the Civil War Era Studies Program and Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era.

Hours extended

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library announced Tuesday that it had extended the end of viewing hours from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. "due to the overwhelming response." By 6 a.m. Tuesday, more than 40,000 people had gone through the library, said Duke Blackwood, the library’s executive director. Also note this note about the crowd at NRO.

Today’s Iraqi Weather

The last couple of days have hovered between 108 - 115 degrees, with a wind that makes the outdoors into one big convection oven. But lest I start complaining, a crew just returned from a base about two hours south of here, where the temperature hit 130 degrees outside, and was measured to be 145 degrees inside the Humvees.

Honoring Reagan

I had actually hoped that Reagan would be put on a train to Washington because then untold thousands--if not millions--would have had the opportunity to pay their respects along train tracks from California through Kansas to D.C. This photo from California of the

funeral procession to the Reagan Library yesterday morning is an indication of deeply felt sorrow. It is touching. (Thanks to Andrew Sullivan)

The Raids

Last week, Echo Troop of the 196th Cavalry conducted a raid in one of the least hospitable cities in the area. To understand the raid, it is first useful to get a little bit of background on the unit’s operations since they arrived in country. Echo 196 did not come directly to FOB Bernstein, but was previously deployed at a location near the Iranian border. When things started to heat up in the south, the troops deployed at Bernstein were shifted to one of these hotspots, and Echo 196 was called in to take over Bernstein while they were gone. The impression that the troop was given by the departing battalion was that they would be taking over FOB security—a limited mission that made sense given that the array of operations run out of the FOB were calibrated for a battalion-sized unit, not a company-sized unit. Nonetheless, the rocket attacks on the FOB continued, and so “the little troop that could” was forced to take on a task previously performed by a much larger military unit—a task which included providing security for the FOB, running raids, and tracking down “Rocketman,” the source of the then frequent rocket attacks on the FOB.

During this month, the fourth platoon had a few of engagements of particular note. In one raid, Lt. Naum, Sfc. Hutton, Ssg. Gleason, Sgt. Black, Spc. Vorhies, and Pv1 Harkless entered a house, seizing a suspect, $4500 of US currency, and a computer. The detained suspect’s brother was out of the house at the time of the raid—an absence made all the more telling when three rockets “coincidentally” were fired on the FOB during the raid. The brother “turned himself in” the next day when he came to the FOB to ask about his detained relative. Since his arrest, there have been no rocket attacks on the base.

Then there was the mission at an unfriendly city in the south. The fourth platoon and Cpt. Bumgardner were providing an outer cordon for Bravo Company, while Charlie Company was running a mission just south of their location, with LT Williams’s 1st Platoon providing the outer cordon there. Lt. Naum’s Humvee, with Spc. Woehler driving, Sgt. Black gunning, Doc, and Spc. Russ took up a position by a water tower juxtaposed roughly in the middle of the two operations—a position just up the street from Lt. Williams’s Humvee. The ground appeared stable, however when Lt. Naum’s vehicle stopped, it quickly sank up to the floorboards. The water tower had a leak, and the water had collected beneath the visible surface. Their Humvee was stuck, and in a rather precarious place.

Lt. Naum, Spc. Woehler, and Spc. Russ dismounted from the vehicle to control traffic in the area. A couple of young men who were trying to get through on the road caused a minor disturbance, and after running a check on their names, the decision was made to detain them. Naum, Woehler, and Russ were standing with the detainees outside their vehicle. Then it happened. An RPG hit just short of Lt. Williams’s Humvee, with Sgt. Miller gunning, discharging some portion of its explosive force backwards on impact. The cone and tail of the RPG skipped, continuing to hurtle forward before landing five meters from Spc. Woehler, Spc. Russ, Sgt. Black and Lt. Naum. Not content to stop, the RPG spun in place, throwing up sparks like an oversized “ground flower” firework.

At nearly the same time, Staff Sergeant Pugh was walking down a pitch black street with the aid of his night visions goggles, or NODs. The one problem with NODs is that they distort depth perception—a fact that had painful consequences for Pugh, who stepped into a four-foot deep hole in the middle of the road, thereby partially tearing a ligament.

Later that same early morning, an AK-47 opened fire on the Lt. Naum’s Humvee—the bullets coming so close that Sgt. Black could hear the telltale crack above his head in the gunner’s hatch. The shots seemed to be coming from one of the rooftops. The Humvee maneuvered to engage the shooter, who quickly darted out of sight. Contrary to the uninformed nonsense frequently touted in the press—the rules of engagement prohibited the soldiers from returning fire in the absence of a clear shot. First Platoon came to the scene to search the buildings, but by then the shooter had made his way off the roof and out of the area.

This brings us to last week’s raid. Intelligence suggested that an individual at a house in the city of the previous RPG attack had a cache of rockets. It was unclear whether he was involved in the previous attack, either as the triggerman or the supplier, but given the proximity, there was that chance. And, of course, even if he had nothing to do with the previous attack, he was a threat that needed to be addressed.

The Humvees drove lights out to the city, turning on the white lights only for passing cars, which might not be able to see the military column proceeding through the darkness. When the vehicles reached the city, they went to white lights, presumably because of the anticipated increase in street traffic. I was riding in Lt. Naum’s vehicle, with Spc. Woehler driving, Sgt. Black gunning, and Spc. Russ as dismount. My instructions were to stay with Russ once we reached the house, who would take up a position on the corner of the building, following which Lt. Naum would direct me to link up with Cpt. Bumgardner to enter the building after the insertion team. We reached the house very quickly once we hit the city. The vehicle stopped, I jumped out and came around the back of the vehicle, and Lt. Naum and Spc. Russ moved quickly across the rocky field to a corner of the house. I thanked my lucky stars (or in this case, moon) for the 90+% illumination that evening, which prevented me from following in Pugh’s footsteps as I jogged across the field without the aid of NODs.

The house had a wall creating a courtyard in the front. Naum and Russ took up a position at the corner of the building, with me in tow. Elements of 2d Platoon and Cpt. Bumgardner entered the gate to the courtyard, and I followed. Someone shouted that there was movement on the roof. A quick scan revealed that the family was sleeping on the roof. They were quickly brought to the lawn so that a full search could begin. While the translator explained what was happening, Lt. Hunt and the 2d Platoon searched the inside of the house, and members of fourth platoon searched the courtyard and the fields surrounding the building. The search came up empty, with only one (permitted) AK-47 found.

All the while, the commotion of the raid aroused gawking from the rooftops of neighboring homes. The gunners used their night vision and scopes to scan the rooftops to identify potential threats, while Spc. Woehler, Spc. Russ, and Lt. Naum ran traffic control, checking vehicles traveling through the area. At the end of the evening, the Coalition had thrown a party, but Ali Baba failed to show up. Given the nature of this particular city, however, that merely postpones their meeting until a later date.


The Strategy Page has this useful paragraph on Afghanistan:

The new coalition and Afghan tactics are working against the Taliban raiding groups. Using ground and air patrols (often with UAVs), as well as an increased number of friendly villages (willing to give information) has made it more difficult for the Taliban to move around undetected. When a group of Taliban are spotted, coalition (mostly American) and Afghan troops are rushed to the area by truck and helicopter. If the Taliban know that they have been spotted and about to be attack, they will disperse and scatter as individuals or smaller groups (two or three men each). They will hide their weapons (in one of the thousands of caves found in the hills) and turn into civilians. But if the Taliban are confronted while they are still a group, they will fight. Because the Americans have airpower and smart bombs, once the Taliban are located, they are toast. A few smart bombs come down on the Taliban as the Afghan and coalition troops close in to capture the Taliban who survive the bombs. It’s dangerous work, as even a wounded Taliban will often continue fighting. The Taliban are losing a dozen or more men a day (dead or captured), and it doesn’t look good for the Taliban’s much heralded "offensive."

More on Reagan

John Fund explains how Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Pope Paul II, won the Cold War. Michael Barone writes that Reagan rescued America from despair and totalitarianism. This is George F. Will’s understanding of Reagan in Newsweek. Charles Krauthammer, writing in Time, says that Reagan had a vision and the courage to endure all the doubters. And Peggy Noonan writes that
"Ronald Reagan told the truth to a world made weary by lies."

It will not surprise you that Cuba’s take on Reagan is less favorable. Radio Reloj:
``As forgetful and irresponsible as he was, he forgot to take his worst works to the grave.’’ And then this:

``He, who never should have been born, has died,’’ the radio said.

Mikhail Gorbachev can’t overcome his Marxist habits (stemming from the unterbau, no doubt) and is already revising history. But, hey, that’s OK, as long as the rest of us remember who’s on the ash heap, and who isn’t.

Now cracks a noble heart

Bill Buckley gave this speech on Reagan in 1999. George W. Bush’s comments from this morning. Lou Cannon’s lengthy obituary in the WaPo. Steven Hayward’s fine piece (in case you missed it below). And this is George Will’s effort. And this from Mark Steyn.

And the Belmont Club offers this from Macaulay:

When the oldest cask is opened,
And the largest lamp is lit;
When the chestnuts glow in the embers,
And the kid turns on the spit;
When young and old in circle
Around the firebrands close;
When the girls are weaving baskets,
And the lads are shaping bows;

When the goodman mends his armour,
And trims his helmet’s plume;
When the goodwife’s shuttle merrily
Goes flashing through the loom;
With weeping and with laughter
Still is the story told,
How well Horatius kept the bridge
In the brave days of old.

Ronald Reagan, American

I grew up with Ronald Reagan. I walked precincts for him when he ran for governor of California in 1966, worked for his election to the presidency twice, and ended up in his administration. I liked everything about him. By the time he became president I came to love him, the way an ordinary citizen can have an honest affection for a public figure.

Ronald Reagan was the antidote to the nihilism of the Sixties. Some in the country—especially the sophisticated intellectual elite and the media—had not only come to doubt our policies, but had come to have profound skepticism about the things for which—I thought—we had always stood. The central idea of republican government was placed in question. The ground under our feet became unsteady. The Carter presidency became the political exemplification of this nihilistic onslaught against the last best hope. There was doubt and cynicism and a lot of shouting. It was asserted that the country was not only ungovernable, but that the American spirit had waned. Carter said that we had an inordinate fear of Communism, and was unable to recognize the nature of Soviet tyranny until the monster bit in Afghanistan. At one point in his presidency, Carter asked the people to think of some nice things to say about America. But his disposition revealed the hopelessness he felt and conveyed to the American people. And, even worse, Carter always implied that the people were to blame for this malaise. The people were despondent and gloomy and Carter called for seminars on the question. The ancient creed—the massive fact of the American idea—seemed to be teetering.

Ronald Reagan was the political antidote to this shrunken view of America. He reminded us that we stood for something great, that we were made of sterner stuff than the nay-sayers implied. He not only made the right arguments and proposed sound policies, but his very person, his character, was such as to make it entirely believable. This was an entirely American man. It is almost impossible to disagree with a man who is full of hope, who looks you in the eye and tells you that you are capable of both self-government and greatness, while joking and laughing all the while. The insensate Liberals mocked him for his cowboy boots and hat, for his clear and straightforward talk, for his eternal hopefulness. By doing this they revealed for the first time in American politics that they were no longer the party of the people: They had come to mistrust the ordinary and decent. Reagan could be for the people because he truly was of the people. Reagan trusted the people and their capacity for self-government. Everyone but the elites sensed this. The Liberal elites underestimated him just the way they underestimated the American people. They may have been embarrassed by his designation of the USSR as an evil empire, but every ordinary person from Ashland to Budapest to Vladivostok knew it was true. The only shocking thing about the statement was that an American president had said it, a president able to make a moral distinction. This was shocking to their nihilistic sensibilities. Yet that simple statement was the final cause of the death of Communism.

Ronald Reagan helped Americans regain their footing. He reminded his fellow citizens what we once were and what we may yet become. He knew that we needed to hear once again the language of our ancient faith, the drumbeat of the American Revolution, the nature of limited constitutional government. He reminded us what held us together, what made us citizens of the shining city on the hill. He helped us reconstruct our ancient faith on solid ground. He was utterly confident that the character of the people was yet sound, and he always appealed to the better angels of our nature. He knew that we were not made of cotton candy, and that free men should smile while they do their hard work in the world. Because of Ronald Reagan the Republican Party became the conservative party, and because of him the country itself was given a new birth of freedom that should be lasting.

The Liberals called him simple-minded. The contrary is the case. Reagan uttered deep truths, stemming from the insights of a clear mind and a stout heart, and the habits that come from prospering in a world often difficult. He did it, and he knew we could all do it. And he was right. Although his noble heart has now cracked, his name should survive the grave. And it will. Let flights of angels sing him to his rest.

The Book that Kofi Annan Doesn’t Want You to Read

Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit is off for vacation, and one of the books he’s bringing with him is Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures : A True Story from Hell on Earth. Written by three UN employees (two former and one current), it exposes the corruption that has suffused the organization’s operations in Haiti, Kosovo, Liberia and Somalia. According to the Daily Telegraph, Kofi Annan is not amused.

Remote Detonated Bomb in Tuz

This morning, a remote detonated bomb detonated in Tuz. The explosion killed one Iraqi police officer, and injured six Iraqi civilians. I have been told that three suspects have been detained.

UPDATE: The revised count is now up to two Iraqi police dead, one Iraqi civilian dead, and 8 Iraqi civilians injured.

Christmas in June

The mail has been slow coming here at Bernstein. When I first arrived, the guys had received mail only a couple of times in about 6 weeks. Packages sent well over a month before with items such as eyeglasses were in limbo. The mail service is still slow and inconsistent--even compared to mail service to those in the field during the Gulf War, but the men are now at least getting some mail each week.

When mail does arrive, it is like Christmas. The troopers open the care packages filled with food (i.e., “pogey bait”), hometown newspapers, and pictures from home with anticipation. Then there are the letters from family, friends, and from people they don’t even know who write to wish them well. The soldiers pour over the letters, reading selections aloud, and frequently take the time to respond to those who have taken the time to write them. Of the correspondence from people who the soldiers do not know, some of the most amusing letters come from school children. For example, one student wrote to Staff Sergeant Gleason: “Thank you for defending our country. You must be exhausted.” Some of the children send drawings, like the American flags colored by a kindergarten class which line the main hallway in the barracks. While the guys appreciate care packages sent by those they do not know, a number have said that they prefer letters. For those who wish to send a letter to a member of the unit, here is their address:

Any Soldier

Echo Troop 196th Cav.

30 HSB, 1st ID

Operation Iraqi Freedom

FOB Bernstein

APO AE 09392

I use the address “any soldier,” but those interested should feel free to send a letter to a specific trooper mentioned in one of the blog posts or articles.

Remembering Reagan in Iraq

Today, the troops at Bernstein received their combat patch. The ceremony was timed to correspond with D-Day, and as the troops assembled, they remembered the sacrifice of the Big Red 1 which fought valiantly in WWII. On the way over to the ceremony, I received word from one of the soldiers that President Reagan had died. The news spread quickly through the ranks. Trooper after trooper walked up to me to ask if I had heard the news. The men quickly assured that the flags were at half-mast. On a day that commemorates the a great battle in WWII, the men were moved by the death of the man who won the Cold War.