- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 2, 2004

Pair of letters

“Gentlemen,” Washington-area resident Doug Welty writes to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Foundation, “Lincoln Property Company, our building managers here in Arlington, dropped off a Toys for Tots flier today that says at the bottom: ‘In keeping with the principles of the Toys for Tots campaign, we cannot accept toy guns, knives, or other things of this nature and toys should have a perceived value of $10.00.’

“As I have donated toy guns to Toys for Tots campaigns for many years, I was wondering if this is actually a Toys for Tots policy or just something our building manager made up. It also seems to me, upon reflection, that a Scout knife or leatherman-type tool would be a Christmas gift that most boys would prize.

“Are ‘things of this nature’ to be verboten … in this enlightened era of political correctness?”

A response soon came from retired Marine Maj. Brian A. Murray, vice president of operations for the Toys for Tots Foundation, who wrote to Mr. Welty: “While not a written policy, we do not accept items that have a connection to violence. Not political correctness, but a conscious decision to stay away from toys/gifts resembling weapons.”

Mr. Welty told Inside the Beltway yesterday that “the guns I put in the boxes are cowboy-style, not gangsta style.”

Chicken for the soul

“Enjoyed your piece on the Battle of the Bulge,” writes Chuck Rigney of Norfolk, regarding Congress observing this month’s 60th anniversary of the courageous World War II battle fought in frigid temperatures against Germany, during which 19,000 U.S. troops died.

“Over Thanksgiving dinner I got [my wife] Gail’s father, Tommy Mitchell, to tell a couple of stories about his involvement in the battle. He was an infantryman in the Army and got the nickname ‘the Mole’ for his ability to scrape out a foxhole in the solid frozen ground anytime the shells started landing.

“He said he became extremely adept at knowing the type of shells (especially the ferocious ‘88s’) coming in, and when they landed they would be a dud or go off. The duds would impact with a crack, while the others would ‘thud,’ then a split second later explode.

“One time he was on guard duty along with five other ‘expert’ marksmen when a chicken appeared out of nowhere, and they all opened up on it at the same time. After the initial burst of automatic-weapons fire, the chicken was none the worse for wear from their efforts.

“He said they all busted out laughing and agreed that the chicken should live to see another day. Tommy said the thought that all of them missed the chicken didn’t speak too highly of what might happen should Germans show up, but it certainly provided a moment of comic relief in an otherwise bitterly cold and bloody time.”

Be the paper

Twenty-two conservative student publications have been started on college campuses so far in 2004, breaking the record of 21 set in 2003.

“I tell students, ‘Don’t complain about the media — be the media,’” says Benjamin Wetmore, director of student publications for the Leadership Institute’s Campus Leadership Program.

Still, it isn’t easy to print a conservative collegiate publication, given most campuses “force-feed students an unhealthy dose of liberal indoctrination,” Mr. Wetmore notes.

“Leftists” at Cornell University in New York, he said, defunded the Cornell American, while administrators at Lynchburg College in Virginia “told security staff to throw out copies of the conservative Lynchburg Current.”

“The Campus Leadership Program will help any student who wants to start a conservative newspaper — no matter how aggressive and thuggish the left is,” Mr. Wetmore assures.

Costly counting

Still think your vote doesn’t count?

Consider the other Washington — Washington state — where a statewide manual recount of the gubernatorial election — requested by the Democratic Party — is underway.

At one point this week, a mere 42 votes separated Republican Dino Rossi and Democrat Christine Gregoire, the state’s attorney general.

“This is by far the closest race in the history of our state, and one of the closest the nation as ever seen,” says Mrs. Gregoire, who is appealing — through the Democratic National Committee in Washington — for donations.

As she explains it, Washington law requires the party requesting the recount to pay for it. Estimated cost: $750,000.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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