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World War II: Little Known Stories

On Thursday March 20, 2014 Craig joined authors at the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville, VA.


The event featured:

Art Beltrone is coauthor with Lee Beltrone of Vietnam Graffiti: Messages from a Forgotten Troup Ship and A Wartime Log. They founded the Vietnam Graffitti Project, in partnership with the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. – See more at: f

Cheryl Jorgensen-Earp, author of Discourse and Defiance Under Nazi Occupation: Guernsey, Channel Islands, 1940-1945, is a Professor in the Communication Studies department at Lynchburg College. She was named Virginia Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation in 2001. – See more at:

Craig Shirley, author of NYT bestseller December 1941, is an acclaimed historian and author of two Reagan books, Reagan’s Revolution and Rendezvous with Destiny. He is the Reagan Scholar at Eureka College and a widely sought after commentator and speaker. – See more at: http://www.vabook.org/site14/program/details.php?eventID=73#sthash.iaI1T9VS.dpuf

The Republican war cuts through CPAC




By Craig Shirley  MARCH 11, 2014

The 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference has ended but the harsh debate between the Republican establishment and the Tea Party goes on. Though nothing remains static indefinitely. Things do change.

The venerated conference, for example, begun years ago in a room at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel, has more of a corporate, insider feel than in the Reagan days. During the 70s and 80s, this meeting possessed a revolutionary “up the establishment” flair.

Some in the Tea Party complained that this year’s conference favored establishment incumbents, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senator John Cornyn (R-Tex.), rather than offering a platform to their conservative challengers.

Many attendees, however, still hailed from the anti-status-quo ranks. This was clear in the crowd’s reaction to one speaker’s attack on Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor. Sharp criticism of Snowden ignited a chorus of boos from the audience.

Those boos revealed the stark fault line between the Republican Party’s two factions. The insiders (a.k.a. neo-conservatives, Bushies, establishmentarians) are invested in maintaining national security, buttressed by corporate and state power. The outsiders (a.k.a. Tea Party, Reaganites, conservative movement, and populists) are focused on anti-state power, personal freedom and competition.

These warring factions are now more antagonistic than at any time in Republican Party history.

The insiders have argued for years that the Reagan conservatives have been the impediment to the GOP winning majority control of Congress. Yet if the public’s attitude toward privacy is any indication, it is the insiders who might be the real impediment.

As long as the establishment embraces the security state, the GOP can’t make a clear and consistent pro-privacy, pro-personal freedom argument. A strong argument can’t be made to attract a majority of voters if they perceive that the Republicans are speaking with conflicting voices.

The left and the Democratic Party has long built voter support by asserting that conservatives wanted to put government between a woman and her doctor when it came to abortion. It worked politically.

Now the GOP has the chance to make the even stronger argument against government coming between you and your doctor under Obamacare. Or government getting between you and your email or cell phone because of the NSA surveillance; between you and your private tax filings because of Internal Revenue Service misdeeds; between you and your right to free speech because of the Federal Election Commission, and between you and your bank account because of the Justice Department.

The fly in the buttermilk, though, is that the GOP establishment is viewed as often being on the opposite side. That Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) won the CPAC straw poll going away over longtime establishment darling New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will be a source of concern to the Washington insiders. Paul has raised too many questions about NSA policies, making establishment Republicans uncomfortable.

Don’t kid yourself. These differences are real. They are cultural as well as ideological and philosophical. The two sides really have a different worldview when it comes to government, foreign policy, federalism and the executive power of the presidency.

But now outsider-Tea Party-populist-Reaganite conservatives have finally developed their own sources of financing and media power. With funding from Charles and David Koch, Harlan Crow and other supporters including talk radio kingpin Mark Levin and Internet powerhouse Glenn Beck, the conservatives say they are ready to take on the establishment. They aim to stand up to the Bush-High Tory-neoconservative-establishment insiders, who — courtesy of Wall Street/Big Business and K Street corporate largess — have long held that type of power.

The fight is more vicious than before, however, because both sides are now dug in and deeply hostile to each other. Consider the harsh name-calling of Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.) as just one example.

CPAC confirmed that neither side of the GOP looks ready to stand down any time soon.

PHOTO (TOP): Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) gestures at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, March 14, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Why Sochi is not Lake Placid


By Craig Shirley, published February 18, 2014

Try as they might, some commentators during the U.S.-Russian hockey game could not muster much credible moral argument for making a comparison between Sochi of 2014 and Lake Placid of 1980.
Of course, we all wanted the US team to win this time, just like in 1980. But as part of a larger world morality play, it pales to near nothingness in comparison. President Obama immediately moved to seize a political advantage, sending out a tweet claiming to “never stop believing in miracles.” The president’s grasp of history is self-evidently weak and self-serving.
Back then, the joy of the American win was palpable. Strangers hugged in the streets, high-fived in the bars, screamed on the sidewalks. Toasts were made all over the 50 states. Everybody in America felt it and felt a part of it.
The galaxy-stunning win by the young American upstarts back in 1980 over the older, more experienced, and more intimidating Russian hockey team was the most compelling upset in the history of the wide world of sports–an American “Miracle on Ice” viewed as a crack in the ice of the Cold War, and in our favor for the first time in years.
This time around, the American victory was practically ho hum: “So one group of corporate-sponsored professional athletes beat another group of corporate-sponsored professional athletes. Huh. Big deal.”
The Nike logo and other corporate logos were prominent on their uniforms–still, the 1980 American team had better outfits than the 2014 American team. Then they wore white, the symbol of purity. This time, their uniforms were a blue, so deep they appeared black from a distance.
Back then, in Lake Placid, at a different time in our history, it was a Really Big Deal. Thirty-four years ago the Soviets had already invaded Afghanistan, were actively undermining NATO, and were winning a Cold War. In 1980, the world witnessed again a great morality play pitting good against evil, which had acted out many times in human history, most recently in the Second World War, which in turn set the stage for East versus West, and with that, freedom versus tyranny.
The struggle between East and West played out with guns and weapons, in South Korea and Southeast Asia, in economics, such as the boycott of Cuba, and in sports. We were the good guys, we played by the rules, and they were the bad guys. They cheated, lied, and stole, as they did with the 1972 Olympic basketball game. And their hand puppet judges from East Germany could always be counted on to score Americans low and the Soviets high. It was that or the gulag.
In short, our “Man of Steel”–“Superman”–was good and their “Man of Steel”–Stalin–was evil.
All sensible people in 1980 knew that Moscow was the world headquarters for the evil oppression of thought and of human freedom. Washington, flaws and all, was still the world headquarters for the expansion of freedom–or at least the wobbly and stumbling pushback against world communism.
It was a settled argument and only a fool or a liberal Ivy League professor believed otherwise.
There was in 1980 no comparison in terms of experience or morality to be made between the two teams. Today, both the American and Russian hockey teams, dominated by professional players from the NHL, are marinated in Corporate America and in vastly bankrolled multi-national corporations. One player who makes millions playing for the Washington Capitals of the NHL, Alexander Ovechkin, chose to play for Mother Russia, not the country that vastly enriched him.
Still, one can understand the sentiment. Ovechkin may feel loyalty to his country but possibly not his government. Many in the United States feel the same. They love their country but they despise their government. Recently, a national poll showed 72 percent of Americans said their government was the “enemy.”
The overlap between the teams and the countries today in attitudes and athleticism is astonishing, and telling. Many fail to see the distinction between the two teams and only a bit more between the two governments, if we’re being honest.
The Soviets once occupied Afghanistan, to what end? Now America occupies Afghanistan, to what end?
At the Lake Placid arena in 1980, some fans hung a large sign that said, “Defectors Welcome.” Yet with the advent of Edward Snowden and all his revelations about an out-of-control and corrupt NSA, it would seem defectors now are more welcome in Russia than they are in the United States.
In 2014, Moscow is corrupt. Washington is also corrupt. Both cities worship at the altar of bigness. Both countries are led by career politicians who pay lip service to the rules of law. Both countries are led by men who strike down the rights of individual citizens, uninhibited by any semblance of respect for due process.
One man in his State of the Union address this year said he will go out of his way to go around Congress to get things done. This is the same man who has changed his compulsive health-less health care plan dozens of times without consulting Congress.
Is it only a coincidence that early in his presidency, Obama created “czars” as a means of growing and extending the bureaucracy?
The Russian strongman, Vladimir Putin, also celebrates himself and like Obama, likes images of himself. He has brought the oligarchy back to Russia. Lamented one dissident writer, Mikhail Shishkin, “Once again, we have an autocracy. Once again the courts serve the authorities instead of the law. Once again, the censors, the spirit of enslavement.”
People in both countries fear to take legal action or speak out because both men have the media, and the power that goes with that media, on their side.
America once had respect for taking legal action and for speaking out. Now, the whims of one man are defined as progress and all who dare to oppose him are swept away. A cult of personality dominates the city state, just as a cult of personality once dominated Moscow. Less equals more. Dependency equals freedom.
As the writer said, you can never go home again. Things change.
Russia was bad, got better, and now is getting worse again. America, more unevenly, has stumbled but nonetheless inexorably moved closer to a police state. In 1976, Jimmy Carter campaigned for president saying we deserved a government as good as the American people. He was right then and that sentiment is right now.
Today, the Russian government is no good. Problem is, neither is ours.

Republicans, stick to your principles




By Craig Shirley and Newt Gingrich
updated 11:08 AM EDT, Thu August 8, 2013

Editor’s note: Craig Shirley is a Ronald Reagan biographer, the first Reagan scholar at the former president’s alma mater, Eureka College and president of Shirley & Banister. Newt Gingrich is the new co-cost of CNN’s “Crossfire,” which starts September 16. A former speaker of the House, he was a candidate in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries. In 1977, as a private citizen, Newt Gingrich collected 50,000 signatures in Georgia supporting Reagan’s fight to keep the Panama Canal.

(CNN) — As Republicans wrestle with how to oppose President Barack Obama, what to do about Obamacare and how to compare the value of fights based on principle versus fights based on clever calculation, there may be some lessons from one of the darkest periods of Republican history.

Watergate was a slow-motion disaster for the Republican Party. Richard Nixon, who had just won one of the largest majorities in American history in 1972, was slowly being exposed and driven from power. Continue reading Republicans, stick to your principles

SHIRLEY: A recollection of D-Day

Lyn Nofziger understood the meaning of sacrifice

Washington Times



By Craig Shirley; Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ronald Reagan was not one to generally bestow nicknames on staff. He had nothing against nicknames, and in fact, over the years had himself picked up “Dutch” from his father and “the Gipper” from his portrayal of the dying George Gipp in “Knute Rockne, All American.”

Nancy was “Mommy” (but only after his own mother had passed away), daughter Maureen was “Mermie,” and son Ronald Prescott was “Skipper,” which he hated.

To Reagan, Peter Hannaford was always “Pete,” Edwin Meese was always “Ed,” Richard Allen was always “Dick,” and James A. Baker III was always “Jim.”

But for Franklyn C. Nofziger, to Reagan, he was always “Lynwood.” Lyn never knew how or why Reagan conferred the nickname on the disheveled and plain-spoken but beloved aide. One thing was for sure though. Reagan was always a sucker for war heroes, and Nofziger was a war hero. Continue reading SHIRLEY: A recollection of D-Day