Advice on the transition from boyhood to manhood

Make sure to read W. Thomas Smith, Jr.’s advice column for his nephew Michael, who just graduated from high school and will be beginning college and Naval ROTC soon.

Timeless, priceless words – words that every young man should hear, read, and heed as he takes his first steps towards adulthood and responsibility.

Heck – for that matter, a lot of that advice is good for young women, too.

“Tear down this wall” almost didn’t make it into famous Reagan speech

Today is the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Gipper’s famous “tear down this wall!” speech. The Washington Times reports that line almost didn’t make it into the speech:

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Top administration officials said the speech was all wrong. Too provocative, said the National Security Council. Too tough, said the State Department.

The president overruled his advisers and, as he rode through the streets of West Berlin on June 12, 1987, he told an aide that his speech at the Brandenburg Gate was simply “the right thing to do.”

Addressing a crowd of thousands as he stood before the Berlin Wall — the world’s most notorious symbol of Soviet tyranny — President Reagan declared: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Tomorrow, former White House speechwriter Peter Robinson will recount the story behind those famous words during a special event at the Reagan Ranch Center here.

“It’s an opportunity to honor one of Ronald Reagan’s greatest achievements — winning the Cold War, as [British Prime Minister] Margaret Thatcher said, without firing a shot,” said Andrew Coffin, director of the center, operated by the Young America’s Foundation, which is hosting the 20th-anniversary commemoration.

Known as a staunch anti-communist long before he became president, Mr. Reagan had predicted in a 1982 speech to the British Parliament that Marxism was destined for “the ash heap of history,” and in 1983 had denounced the Soviet Union as an “evil empire.”

His 1987 speech at the Brandenburg Gate, invoking the name of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, was destined to become his most famous. A little more than two years later, in November 1989, the Berlin Wall was torn down — not by Mr. Gorbachev, but by the German people — dramatically symbolizing the collapse of communism.

Yet the speech’s most famous phrase nearly didn’t make it into the final draft.

Mr. Robinson, then a 31-year-old in his first full-time job, had been inspired by an earlier visit to West Berlin. There, he met with a group of residents, including Ingeborg Elz, who spoke bitterly of Mr. Gorbachev’s promises of “glasnost,” or openness, and “perestroika,” or reform.

“If this man Gorbachev is serious with his talk of glasnost and perestroika, he can prove it,” Mrs. Elz told Mr. Robinson. “He can get rid of this wall.”

As he recalled in his 2003 book, “How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life,” Mr. Robinson decided to include that demand in the Berlin speech Mr. Reagan was due to deliver in June. The president liked the idea. The State Department and the NSC, however, disapproved.

Among those who urged Mr. Robinson to omit “tear down this wall” from the speech were Secretary of State George Schultz, White House Chief of Staff Howard Baker, and Colin L. Powell, who was deputy national security adviser at the time. But Mr. Robinson argued in favor of keeping the phrase, and Mr. Reagan agreed.

Wanna watch the speech and relive some great memories? Here you go. The money quote is about two minutes thirty seconds into the vid:

Relevant text:

“Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the Soviet state? Or are they token gestures, intended to raise false hopes in the West, or to strengthen the Soviet system without changing it? We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace.

General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

And so it was.

Berlin wall falls - photo courtesy of AP

Tue AM Update: John Fund remembers the speech.

Workplace intolerance

Considering the title of this post, you might be thinking that the what is about to be discussed is some type of intolerance in the work place to gays or black people. Not so:

The words “natural family,” “marriage” and “union of a man and a woman” can be punished as “hate speech” in government workplaces, according to a lawsuit that is being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Briefs for Good News Employee Association vs. Hicks, which were filed June 5 with the nation’s highest court, lists D.C. school board President Robert C. Bobb as one of two plaintiffs. The case originated five years ago in Oakland, Calif., during his tenure there as city manager.

The dispute began in January 2003, when the two Oakland employees created a subgroup at their workplace called the “Good News Employee Association.” It was partly in response to a group of homosexual employees having formed their own group 10 months before and being given access to the city e-mail system. One e-mail, dated Oct. 11, 2002, invited city employees to participate in “National Coming-Out Day.”

When several employees asked whether such a posting was legitimate city business, they got an e-mail from City Council member Danny Wan, reminding them that a “celebration of the gay/lesbian culture and movement” was part of the city’s role to “celebrate diversity.”

In response, the Good News employees posted an introductory flier on the employee bulletin board Jan. 3.

It said: “Preserve Our Workplace With Integrity: Good News Employee Association is a forum for people of faith to express their views on the contemporary issues of the day.” It said it opposed “all views which seek to redefine the natural family and marriage,” which it defined as “a union of a man and a woman, according to California state law.”

Anyone who wanted to help preserve “integrity in the workplace” was invited to contact the two employees: Regina Rederford and Robin Christy.

A lesbian co-worker, Judith Jennings, spotted the flier and complained to the city attorney’s office that it made her feel “targeted” and “excluded,” according to a deposition. The flier was removed by a supervisor because it violated the city’s anti-discrimination rules.

A U.S. District Court for Northern California ruling said the words “natural family” and “marriage” had “anti-homosexual import.”

However, Miss Rederford was told she could announce the group’s presence on the city’s e-mail system if she removed “verbiage that could be offensive to gay people.”

In late February 2003, Joyce Hicks, a city deputy executive director and the other defendant in the suit, sent out a memo to city employees. It cited recent incidents where “fliers were placed in public view which contained statements of a homophobic nature” and warned employees they could be fired for posting such material.

Miss Rederford and Miss Christy sued the city, claiming their First Amendment rights had been violated. According to court documents, employees had posted bulletin announcements on everything from terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden to local sporting events, yet those had not been removed.

Don Surber, who is a supporter of gay marriage, sees the complainer about the flier, and what the city did in response to it just another example of the fascism that is deeply embedded in modern day liberalism:

As a supporter of gay marriage, I see this as yet another example of the fascist nature of what passes for liberalism these days. Not all liberalism, just that zero-tolerance strain that makes the Rev. Jim Dobson look positively open-minded.

Administrators should take control of the workplace. The bulletin board belongs to the employer, even in an government workplace. But if you allow one politically charged missive, you have to allow them all.

The city of Oakland seems to be creating a workplace that is hostile to strait-laced Christians.

He makes a good point about the closed-minded nature of liberals who are supposedly ‘tolerant’ of differing viewpoints. We know it’s a total myth that liberals of any stripe, particularly the ‘minority’ liberals, are tolerant of viewpoints that don’t mesh with their own, but that’s not the image of liberals that the mainstream media (who are overwhelminginly liberal themselves) wants you to see.

In fact, some of the most intolerant people you’ll ever meet are part of ‘minority groups’ who have been empowered by the ‘victim’ label the MSM and the left (but I repeat myself) have bestowed on them – in both instances, for personal and political gain. They’re made to feel ‘threatened’ by the majority to the point that when they speak out – or more to the point, when they make questionable accusations – the ‘majority’ isn’t supposed to challenge them out of respect for their Absolute Moral Authority.

Accepted Truths?Undaunted challengers to these ‘victims’ are labelled as haters or homophobes or racists or bigots or [insert intolerance-based name here] for seeking to challenge Accepted ‘Truths.’ Kinda ironic, considering that challenging Accepted ‘Truths’ was a hallmark of the 60s left, which has re-emerged today, thanks in large part to the fact that so many 60s lefties are in power and in fact play starring roles – think Senators Clinton and Kerry, for starters. Now that some of America’s Accepted ‘Truths’ (like, for example, all Republicans and Christians supposedly hate gay people) fall in line with what many of the lefties from yesteryear and today want the average American to believe, it’s unacceptable and ‘politically incorrect’ to challenge them. This is done in an effort to shame critics into silence, so the Accepted ‘Truths’ can continue to prevail unquestioned, which keeps those perpetuating them the most in positions of power and/or empowerment.

It is attitudes like these which embolden intolerant ‘minorities’ like the lesbian metioned in the WaTimes piece who was so ‘offended’ by the family-based flier that she complained to the city about it. There is a certain empowerment feeling to being made to feel part of a ‘victim class’ where the whole world is supposedly against you, so much so that when you fight back against that world, sometimes you become that which you abhor. A classic example of this would be radical feminists, who once upon a time wanted you to believe that they desired ‘equal rights’ for women, but who in reality have advanced far beyond wanting ‘equal’ rights, and now strive to prove that women are actually ‘better’ than men.

And the beat goes on …

Fourth Circuit rules against Bush admin in enemy combatant case

The NYT gleefully reports that the Fourth Circuit has decided against the Bush administration in a case about a Qatar man accused of being a sleeper agent for Al Qaeda, who was declared an enemy combatant here in the US:

In a stinging rejection of one of the Bush administration’s central assertions about the scope of executive authority to combat terrorism, a federal appeals court ordered the Pentagon to release a man being held as an enemy combatant.

“To sanction such presidential authority to order the military to seize and indefinitely detain civilians,” Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote, “even if the President calls them ‘enemy combatants,’ would have disastrous consequences for the Constitution — and the country.”

“We refuse to recognize a claim to power” Judge Motz added, “that would so alter the constitutional foundations of our Republic.”

The ruling was handed down by a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., in the case of Ali al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar and the only person on the American mainland known to be held as an enemy combatant.

Mr. Marri, whom the government calls a sleeper agent for Al Qaeda, was arrested on Dec. 12, 2001, in Peoria, Ill., where he was living with his family and studying computer science at Bradley University.

He has been held for the last four years at the Navy Brig in Charleston, S.C.

Judge Motz wrote that Mr. Marri may well be guilty of serious crimes. But she said that the government cannot circumvent the civilian criminal justice system through military detention.

Mr. Marri was charged with credit-card fraud and lying to federal agents after his arrest in 2001, and he was on the verge of a trial on those charges when he was moved into military detention in 2003.

The government contended, in a partly declassified declaration from a senior defense intelligence official, Jeffrey N. Rapp, that Mr. Marri was a Qaeda sleeper agent sent to the United States to commit mass murder and disrupt the banking system.

Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog has the spin-free version:

The Fourth Circuit Court, in a 2-1 ruling on Monday, declared that President Bush did not have the authority to order the military to seize and indefinitely detain a civilian who was taken from his home in Peoria, Ill. For the Qatar national who has been held by the military since 2003, the Court said, “military detention…must cease.” The ruling barred military detention of any civilian captured inside the U.S., but the Court said it was limiting its decision to those who are in the country legally and have established connections here.

“The President cannot eliminate constitutional protections with the stroke of a pen by proclaiming a civilian, even a criminal civilian, an enemy combatant subject to indefinite military detention,” the Court said.

The government has the right to ask the full Fourth Circuit bench to reconsider the case, or to take it directly to the Supreme Court. The Fourth Circuit has generally been quite favorable to the government in war-on-terrorism cases. It is unclear whether the Supreme Court would hear the case on a government appeal, because the decision technically does not conflict with a recent D.C. Circuit Court ruling denying rights to foreign nationals captured abroad and held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, outside U.S. territory.


The panel concluded that it would grant al-Marri habeas relief, though not immediate release. It said the government had accused him — though not with formal charges — of “grave crimes.” The case was returned to a federal judge in South Carolina with instructions to order the Pentagon to release al-Marri from military custody “within a reasonable period of time to be set by the District Court. The Government can transfer al-Marri to civilian authorities to face criminal charges, initiate deportation proceedings against him, hold him as a material witness in connection with grand jury proceedings, or detain him for a limited time pursuant to the Patriot Act. But military detention of al-Marri must cease.”

It’s a lengthy post, but well-worth reading to understand more about the case and why certain liberals are cheering about today.

What’s next? Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy speculates:

My prediction: I tend to doubt this decision will stand. My very tentative guess is that either the en banc Fourth Circuit or the Supreme Court will reverse, holding that the AUMF is broad enough to authorize an Al-Qaeda suspect like Al-Marri and therefore the detention is authorized by statute.

Stay tuned …