Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year. Blogging resumes Jan. 2, 2006.

Good wishes for a healthy and happy 2006.

A special thanks to America's serving military, our veterans, their families, and all those of our coalition allies.

Blogging resumes Jan 2.


Friday, December 30, 2005

The Churchill Series - December 30, 2005

(One of a series of daily posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

We often read of Churchill's participation in broad strategy planning during World War II. But he also immersed himself in details. He did it partly because he had to be always ready to answer for his war leadership to the Cabinet, Commons and the public. And he did it partly to enable himself to more effectively discuss and influence government policies and war strategy. And then there's the fact that all his life he was a detail person.

Here's an example of Churchill gathering details:


Prime Minister to Colonel Jacob

Let me have on one sheet of paper lists showing at present time and in September last the strength of British Home Forces in (a) rifles and S.A.A.; (b) artillery - including all types of field and medium guns under one head; and also coast defense batteries, and also A.A. both heavy and light; (c) number of "I" tanks and cruiser tanks in the hands of the troops; (d) ration and rifle strength of the fighting formations, (e) number of divisions and brigade groups; (i) on the beaches, (ii) behind the beaches in Army or G.H.Q. Reserve or otherwise; (f) strength of fighter aircraft available for action at the two dates; (g) strength and weight of discharge of bomber aircraft at the two dates; (h) strength of flotillas in home waters at the two dates.

Very general and round figures will do. Don't go too much into details.
We can wonder what Colonel Jacob thought when he read that "general and round figures" would do; and that he needn't "go too much into details."
Winston S. Churchill, The Grand Alliance. (p. 756)

Will faithful New York Times readers ask why?

Will faithful New York Times readers ask themselves why, as of December 30, the Times has said nothing for months about a major international news story: U. N. secretary general Kofi Annan and his son Kojo's purchase, with financial aid from an executive involved in the oil-for-food scandal, of a Mercedes-Benz which has since disappeared?

While the NY Times is silent, other news organizations are reporting the story and providing commentary. See, for example, The New York Sun, Wall Street Journal, Guardian, and Times of London.

Here's part of what Jordan's former representative at the U. N., Ambassador Hasan Abu Nimah, wrote for the Jordan Times:

Last week, CNN showed UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in a harsh exchange with UN correspondents at a year-end press conference.
Annan began the press conference in a jovial mood, offering advice to his successor, saying "he should be thick skinned and should have a sense of humour".

But things turned sour quickly when the London Times correspondent, James Bone, asked Annan what had happened to a Mercedes car which Annan's scandal-plagued son Kojo had imported into Ghana using his father's diplomatic privileges.

The report by Paul Volcker into UN corruption stated that Kojo bought the car using his father's name, avoiding hefty duties and obtaining a special discount available only to UN employees.

Annan lashed out angrily at the question. "Wait a minute, I smell something cheeky here," he said before scolding: "Listen James Bone, you've been behaving like an overgrown schoolboy in this room for many, many months and years. You are an embarrassment to your colleagues and to your profession. Please stop misbehaving and please let's move on to a serious journalist."
When the CNN programme was shown again last Sunday, as an introduction this time to a panel which debated the confrontation, Annan appeared in the programme commenting on the Mercedes affair by saying that the matter was being investigated by his son's lawyer and anyone who wanted further information could go straight to the lawyer or the son, adding he was not his son's lawyer or his "box man".

(This) kind of evasiveness suggests that Annan is not keen to answer questions no matter how respectfully they are posed.
Regarding the purchase, Ambassador Nimah says:
Under no circumstances could Annan's son order a car under his father's name and diplomatic privilege without his father's consent and signature. He could not ship the car anywhere without the same signature and the same consent, no doubt an operation requiring a great deal of documentation. Even if Kojo was able to obtain such paperwork from the UN bureaucracy without his father's knowledge, his father still remains accountable for a shocking lack of oversight, and Annan should insist on an internal investigation to find out how such a thing could possibly have happened without his knowledge, if that was the case.

If duties or taxes were avoided in the transaction, they ought to be refunded and the responsibility for that lies ultimately with Annan himself.
The Ambassador had much more to say. You can read it all here.

I can't help thinking about the news coverage and editorializing the New York Times would now be providing its readers if the Mercedes purchase involved Vice-president Cheney and his daughter instead Nobel laureate and U. N. secretary general Annan and his son.

Surely, the Times can't be serious when it claims to report the news "without fear or favor, regardless of party, sect, or interest involved."

I'll soon have more to report.

As always, your comments are welcome.

Trackbacks to: Michelle Malkin, bRight & Early

CNN transcript of Annan's Mercedes outburst

Here, from a CNN 12/21/2005 transcript , is that part of U. N. secretary general Kofi Annan's press conference in which he lashed out at a reporter who tried to ask Annan about a Mercedes purchased in the secretary general's name with financial help from a Swiss executive whose company is involved in the oil-for-food scandal.

Annan's son, Kojo, was employed by the executive's company, and may have been the actual purchaser of the Mercedes. Both Annan's say they can't now locate the vehicle.

ROTH (voice over): Up until now, the Nobel Peace Prize winner had in public kept his cool, but he lost it when asked by a British reporter about a Mercedes bought by his son and then shipped with a diplomatic discount to Africa, a slice of the overall oil-for-food scandal.

JAMES BONE, REPORTER: The Volcker report says the Mercedes was bought in your name. So as the owner of the car, can you tell us what happened to it and where it is now?

Now, my question is, it's true that we missed a lot of stories in the oil-for-food scandal, and the U.N. hasn't made it easy. And even your answer today on the Mercedes so far hasn't made it easy. Some of your own stories, your own version of events don't really make sense.

I would like to ask you particularly...

ANNAN: I think you're being very cheeky here.

BONE: Well, let me...

And I have to tell you -- no, hold on, hold on.

BONE: May I ask my question?

ANNAN: Listen, James Bone, you've been behaving like an overgrown school boy in this room for many, many months and years. You're an embarrassment to your colleagues and to your profession. Please stop misbehaving and please let's move on to a more serious...

BONE: My question...

No, move on to a serious -- move on to a serious journalist.

Constitutional scholar on domestic surveillance

In a Boston Globe op-ed, Harvard Law Professor and former solicitor general Charles Fried shares his thoughts concerning the domestic surveillance program, national safety, and the Constitution.

I am convinced of the urgent necessity of such a surveillance program. I suppose but do not know -- the revelations have been understandably and deliberately vague -- that included in what is done is a constant computerized scan of all international electronic communications. (The picture of a G-Man in the basement of an apartment house tapping into a circuit board is certainly inapposite.)

Programmed into this computerized scan are likely to be automatic prompts that are triggered by messages containing certain keywords, go to certain addresses, occur in certain patterns or after specific events. Supposedly those messages that trigger these prompts are targeted for further scrutiny.

In the context of the post-9/11 threat, which includes sleeper cells and sleeper operatives in the United States, no other form of surveillance is likely to be feasible and effective. But this kind of surveillance may not fit into the forms for court orders because their function is to identify targets, not to conduct surveillance of targets already identified. Even retroactive authorization may be too cumbersome and in any event would not reach the initial broad scan that narrows the universe for further scrutiny.
Fried goes on to ask a pair of critical questions many Americans are asking themselves:
If the situation is as I hypothesize and leads to important information that saves lives and property, would any reasonable citizen want it stopped? But if it violates the Constitution can we accept the proposition that such violations must be tolerated?
Fried then says how we should proceed to make sure we have an effective surveillance program that doesn't violate the Constitution.
We should ask ourselves what concrete harm is done by such a program. Is a person's privacy truly violated if his international communications are subject to this kind of impersonal, computerized screening? If it is not, at what stage of further focus do real, rather than abstract and hysterical concerns arise? And to what extent is the hew and cry about this program a symptom of a generalized distrust of all government, or of just this administration?

If of all government, then we are in a state of mind that renders us incapable of defending ourselves from real threats. If of this administration, then can we afford to disarm the only government we have until the result of the next election, which is likely to be as partisan and closely divided as the last?

The resolution of this dilemma to allow both the use of an important tool of national security and respect for the rule of law needs ingenuity, discretion, and a good faith search for sensible solutions. So far I have heard only alarmist and hyperbolic pronouncements calculated neither to illuminate nor resolve this problem.
Those last two paragraphs bear rereading by us all, but especially by those using news reports of the domestic surveillance program as just one more opportunity to "Get Bush."

Fried's op-ed is here.

(Hat Tip: )

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Churchill Series - December 29, 2005

(One of a series of daily posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

As a young officer in India, Churchill was very critical of many of the Army's tactics and ranking officers. He put his criticisms into dispatches which he sent off to newspaper editors who were eager to publish them.

Churchill knew he was setting himself up for a great deal of criticism from powerful people with experience much greater than his. But he was prepared for that. He wrote a friend:

There will not be wanting those who will remind that in this matter my opinion finds no support in age or experience. To such I shall reply that if what is written is false or foolish neither age nor experience should fortify it; and if it is true,it needs no such support."
When I read Churchill's remarks, I thought of something President Lincoln said concerning criticism he knew he was sure to get:
If the end brings me out all right, what's said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.
The words of each of the great men resonate with those of the other.
For the Churchill quote and background see William Manchester, The Last Lion (p. 256-260)

For the familiar Lincoln quote I used Google.

David Boyd is back

David Boyd had some tech problems but he's back up and posting.

Go visit. He's always interesting.

The worst and best of American democracy

Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters picks the 10 Worst Americans.

When picking his 10 Worst, Ed says:

I decided that the status of American had to be part of their "crimes". In other words, simply picking someone like Ted Bundy or Charles Manson would be too easy. Their evil, though real and in most cases worse than what you'll read on this list, doesn't have to do with their innate American heritage. I went looking for the people who sinned against America itself, or the ideal of America. Otherwise, we'd just be looking at body counts.
Ed also tried to "avoid picking contemporary political figures, as we do not have sufficient historical perspective to make that kind of determination."

But one contemporary political figure made the list. Ed explains:
The real reason (President) Carter winds up here at #10 is because he singlehandedly almost lost the Cold War and allowed the start of the Islamofascist terror war during his single term in office.

His naiveté in dealing with the Soviet Union, captured perfectly by kissing the jowled cheek of the Soviet dictator Leonid Brezhnev, led him to believe that worldwide Communism was here to stay and that we could do nothing about it.

(Carter) also assured Americans that we had nothing to fear from the Soviets, who really weren’t bad guys – right up until they invaded Afghanistan. Even then, his response in boycotting the Olympic Games of 1980 has to remain one of the most embarrassing examples of displayed impotence in our nation’s history.
All that's true.

And then, on November 4, 1980, Carter was defeated and Ronald Wilson Reagan was elected fortieth President of the Untied States. His Cold War strategy was "We win; they lose."

American democracy is wonderful for it capacity to often correct our worst mistakes while bringing out our best.

A David Brinkley remark that made me smile.

A friend shared this remark by former news anchor David Brinkley:

“The one function TV news performs very well is that when there is no news we give it to you with the same emphasis as if there were.”
Brinkley died in 2003, age 82.

I thought he was a first-rate reporter and commentator.

NY Times' silence on Annan's Mercedes is telling us a lot

On Tuesday I posted, New York Times silent on Annan’s Mercedes anger outburst, but others report it.

At a recent news conference U. N. secretary-general Kofi Annan lashed out at Times of London reporter James Bone for questioning him about a Mercedes purchased in Annan's name in Switzerland under questionable circumstances. The vehicle was then shipped to Ghana, where it disappeared.

In its press conference story, the New York Times never mentioned the Mercedes. But other news organizations, which have been reporting the story for months, had plenty to say.

And today, the New York Sun has an editorial, Follow That Car:

The tantrum with which Secretary General Annan greeted the now famous question about the missing Mercedes Benz tells us a lot about the tensions that are building at the United Nations.
The Mercedes Benz, described as a "sporty green" Jeep-type vehicle, is missing somewhere in Africa, and Mr. Annan, his son Kojo, and their army of spokesmen and lawyers, just don't seem to want to answer questions about: What happened to that car? Who owns it? Where is it parked?

The September 7 report of the Independent Inquiry Committee headed by Paul Volcker has it that the car was bought in Geneva in the fall of 1998, just as the goods-inspection company Cotecna was about to land a fat contract with the U.N.'s oil-for-food program. Cotecna at the time employed Mr. Annan's son, Kojo. The secretary general contributed $15,000 toward the purchase of the car. Another contributor was a Cotecna official and a family friend of the Annans, Michael Wilson, who paid a $3000 deposit. Kojo Annan paid the rest.
There's a lot more before the Sun concludes:
(Mr. Annan’)...bullying...backfired, and reporters are now more interested than ever in the story of the missing Mercedes.
Not all reporters.

A search of the New York Times archives using entries "Kojo Annan" and "Kojo Annan + Mercedes" and "Annan + Mercedes" reveals only one mention of the Mercedes. It's in a September 7 story by Warren Hoge (Annan Failed to Curb Corruption in Iraq's Oil-for-Food Program, Investigators Report).
In one incident, (Volcker) said, Kojo Annan bought a new Mercedes using his father's name, which yielded him a diplomatic discount and enabled him to import the vehicle to Ghana without paying import duty.
Other than that single sentence, the New York Times appears to have reported nothing about Annan's Mercedes, not even that it's now missing.

The Times' silence on this matter is awfully loud.

Suppose instead of Annan and his son we had Vice-president Cheney and his daughter getting a special tax break on a Mercedes partially paid for by a Halliburton executive just before the car was shipped to Texas and disappeared.

You know the kind of news coverage the Times would be giving a Cheney/Halliburton missing Mercedes story, to say nothing of its editorials.

But about what Annan, his son, and an executive and company involved in the U. N. oil-for-food scandal did and didn't do with the Mercedes, the Times has been silent for months.

The Times' silence sure tells us a lot about its claim to report the news “regardless of party, sect, or interest involved.”

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

My thoughts on the latest Rasmussen poll

The highly respected Rasmussen Reports just released its latest poll findings. They include:

Sixty-four percent (64%) of Americans believe the National Security Agency (NSA) should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States.

(About) 23% disagree.
Just 26% believe President Bush is the first to authorize a program like the one currently in the news.

What to make of 23% of respondents saying the National Security Agency (NSA) should not be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the U.S.; and 26% erroneously believing Bush is the first president to authorize such a program?

For one thing, I'll bet there's so much overlap between the 23% and 26% respondent groups that they're essentially the same group.

What's more, I'll bet the overwhelming majority of them come from "the Democratic Party base." They wanted Dean and voted for Kerry. They dream of a President Hillary Clinton. They worry President Bush might get credit for doing anything right because that will make it harder for Clinton to win in '08. And, of course, they "support the troops."

Such respondents trust mainstream media to tell them all they want to know; and mainstream media doesn't let them down.

That's what I think. How about you?

Trackbacks at: Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive, Confederate Yankee, Michelle Malkin, and Sister Toldjah.

ABC's John Stossel's Top Ten Foolish Myths

Today at Realclearpolitics ABC's John Stossel begins:

Looking back on 2005, I realize that much of what I heard -- and what the media said -- turned out to be myths. Newsweek reported that U.S. interrogators had flushed a Koran down a Guantanamo Bay toilet. After Hurricane Katrina, reporters said that sharks from Lake Pontchartrain were swimming through New Orleans, and roving bands of armed gang members were attacking the helpless.

Myth after myth. So to celebrate the new year,
I'd like to review my top 10 list of foolish myths. (ABC will broadcast a televised version of this column in "20/20"'s timeslot Friday night.):

No. 10: Americans have less free time than we used to.

No. 9. Money buys happiness.

No. 8: Republicans shrink government.

No. 7: The world is getting too crowded.

No. 6. Chemicals are killing us.

No. 5: Guns are bad.

No. 4: We're drowning in garbage.

No. 3: We're destroying our forests.

No. 2: Getting cold will give you a cold.

No. 1: Life is getting worse.
Stossel follows the list with explanations of how we came to buy into these myths. He ends with some good advice for 2006.

Read his whole column here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Churchill Series - December 27, 2005

(One of a series of daily posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

When using his initials Churchill commonly signed "WSC." But some political foes and others who considered themselves wits took delight in playing on WC. So when Churchill was defeated in the 1925 general election, one newspaper said it was sure the members of the new parliament could manage "with one less WC."

Churchill took it in stride. On occasion he would even make a WC remark himself as he did in February, 1940 while on a destroyer returning to England from France.

There were some mines in the ship's path. Guns were fired to destroy them. The gunfire churned the water and set some debris floating past the destroyer. Among the debris was a lavatory door.

Churchill looked at it and said with a grin to those beside him, "That door has my initials on it. They must have known I'd be aboard."
Tom Hickman, Churchill's Bodyguard. (p. 88-89)

Remember to cast your Robert Fisk Award ballot

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs played a leading role in exposing CBS's fraudulent 60 Minute Texas Air National Guard story. Thank you, Charles.

Charles now invites us to visit LGF and cast a vote in the Robert Fisk Award for Idiotarian of the Year competition.

Here are the 20 nominees:

Cindy Sheehan
Harry Reid
Mary Mapes
George Clooney
Sean Penn
Howard Dean
Ward Churchill
Dan Rather
Chris Matthews
Nancy Pelosi
Noam Chomsky
Kofi Annan
Ramsey Clark
Dick Durbin
Hugo Chavez
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin
Rep. Jack Murtha
George Galloway
Maurice Hinchey
Kanye West
Cynthia McKinney

All 20 are deserving but if you think there's someone or some organization more deserving than those twenty, you're free to make your own nomination.

Michelle Malkin just did. Here's her nomination:

For its reckless endangerment of national security, unapologetic distortion of our troops' commitment to the mission in Iraq, trashing of 9/11 families who refused to capitulate to political correctness at Ground Zero, routine insipidity and unaccountability, laughable hypocrisy, protectionism for Democrats and liberal pet projects, dishonest Bush-bashing, anti-war pandering, cluelessness by the barrel, narcissism, and skyscraping editorial arrogance and snobbery, I nominate...

It will be no surprise to JinC readers that the Times will get my vote.

I'll be posting more soon about why I think the Times deserves the Fisk Award.

Meanwhile, don't forget to vote.

New York Times silent on Annan’s Mercedes anger outburst but others report it.

A Mercedes-Benz purchased in U. N. secretary-general Kofi Annan’s name has disappeared in his native Ghana. It was imported there after Annan received on the purchase a large tax break given to diplomats. Annan’s son, Kojo, was involved in the purchase as was an executive for a Swiss company that employed Kojo. Kojo, the executive, and the company are all caught up in the U. N. oil for food scandal.

During the past four months a few dogged reporters, including the London Times’ James Bone, have asked questions about how the vehicle was actually paid for, its intended owner, and why it can’t be found.

At a recent news conference, Annan refused to answer questions about the Mercedes and lashed out at Bone.

But the New York Times, in its story of the press conference, never mentions Annan's Mercedes. And here’s all it tells readers about Annan’s outburst:

Mr. Annan later refused to respond to a question by James Bone of The Times of London after Mr. Bone said, "Some of your own stories, your own version of events, don't really make sense." Interrupting, Mr. Annan accused Mr. Bone of being "cheeky" and said he was "behaving like an overgrown schoolboy."
Now take a look at what The New York Sun tells its readers:
CNN's Richard Roth asked a recurring question about the whereabouts of a Mercedes-Benz that was bought in Mr. Annan's name by the secretary general's son, Kojo.

The son's childhood friend, Michael Wilson, who is an executive at the Swiss-based Cotecna company, which employed the two, and the secretary-general himself contributed to the car's purchase, and Mr. Annan has been unable to say where the car is now.

"You are all obsessed about the car," Mr. Annan said, but refused to add any information beyond: "Please direct your questions to his lawyers or to him."

"I am neither his spokesman nor his lawyer," he said, speaking of his son.

Later, Mr. Annan finally lost his cool when Mr. Bone began a question by following up on Mr. Roth's inquiry about the car.

"Hold on, listen, James Bone," Mr. Annan said. "You have been behaving like an overgrown schoolboy in this room for many, many months and years. You are an embarrassment to your colleagues and to your profession. Please stop misbehaving, and please let's move on to a more serious subject."

(Annan) then refused to allow the reporter to get to his question, which was left unasked. Mr. Bone later told the Sun that he wanted to ask a detailed question about inconsistencies in Mr. Annan's testimony before the Volcker commission.
Why, in its press conference story, did the NY Times decide to make no mention of questions concerning the Mercedes, Kojo, Cotecna, and Annan’s Volcker commission testimony ? Surely they involve news fit to print.

For its part, The London Times began its report of Annan’s news conference:
THE UN Secretary-General has used his end-of-year press conference to lash out at the media in general, and The Times in particular, for their coverage of the Oil-for-Food scandal and his role in it.

Kofi Annan singled out James Bone, New York correspondent of The Times, after he questioned Mr. Annan about a Mercedes jeep that his son, Kojo, imported into Ghana using his father’s diplomatic immunity to avoid taxes.

Saddam Hussein’s manipulation of the UN’s $64 billion Oil-for-Food programme enabled him to circumvent international sanctions and raise hundreds of millions dollars, through kickbacks on UN-supervised sales of oil and imports of humanitarian supplies. Kojo Annan worked for a Swiss firm, Cotecna, that won a lucrative UN contract to monitor those imports.
You can read the rest of the London Times’ story here.

The full New York Times story is here ; the New York Sun story is here.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Churchill Series - December 26, 2005

(One of a series of daily posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Just a short post tonight. Its been a long, happy, active day, and I'm tired.

It's early January, 1942 and Churchill is taking a few days rest in Florida. He walks down to the beach for an ocean swim. Other than a handful of aides, there are only a few people further down the beach.

At the waters edge, Churchill decides to take off his trunks. He tells his bodyguard, Scotland Yard Detective Walter Thompson:

"If they are that much interested, it is their own fault what they see."
Tom Hickman, Churchill's Bodyguard. (p. 136)

Barone exposes Times' story. Cites MSM "bubble"

If Paul Krugman, Helen Thomas and Frank Rich are your kind of pundits, you won’t like Michael Barone’s latest op-ed. It’s an informed and carefully reasoned evisceration of the New York Times’ latest "Get Bush" effort: its “domestic surveillance story."

Here’s Barone:

What the Times didn't bother telling its readers is that this practice is far from new and is entirely legal. Instead, the unspoken subtext of the story was that this was likely an illegal and certainly a very scary invasion of Americans' rights.

Let's put the issue very simply. The president has the power as commander in chief under the Constitution to intercept and monitor the communications of America's enemies. Indeed, it would be a very weird interpretation of the Constitution to say that the commander in chief could order U.S. forces to kill America's enemies but not to wiretap -- or, more likely these days, electronically intercept -- their communications. Presidents have asserted and exercised this power repeatedly and consistently over the last quarter-century.

To be sure, federal courts have ruled that the Fourth Amendment's bar of "unreasonable" searches and seizures limits the president's power to intercept communications without obtaining a warrant. But that doesn't apply to foreign intercepts, as the Supreme Court made clear in a 1972 case, writing, "The instant case requires no judgment on the scope of the president's surveillance power with respect to the activities of foreign powers, within or without this country."
Barone, a graduate of Yale Law School where he was an editor of the Law Review, reminds us:
Warrantless intercepts of the communications of foreign powers were undertaken as long ago as 1979, by the Carter administration. In 1994, Bill Clinton's deputy attorney general, Jamie Gorelick, testified to Congress, "The Department of Justice believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes."
And there's this:
In the Dec. 15 Chicago Tribune, John Schmidt, associate attorney general in the Clinton administration, laid it out cold: "President Bush's post-Sept. 11, 2001, authorization to the National Security Agency to carry out electronic surveillance into private phone calls and e-mails is consistent with court decisions and with the positions of the Justice Department under prior presidents."
Most Americans don't know this legal record. Barone tells us why:
"News stories" in the Times and other newspapers and many national newscasts have largely ignored this legal record. Instead, they are tinged with a note of hysteria and the suggestion that fundamental freedoms have been violated by the NSA intercepts.

Earlier this month, a Newsweek cover story depicted George W. Bush as living inside a bubble, isolated from knowledge of the real world. Many of the news stories about the NSA intercepts show that it is mainstream media that are living inside a bubble, carefully insulating themselves and their readers and viewers from knowledge of applicable law and recent historical precedent, determined to pursue an agenda of undermining the Bush administration regardless of any damage to national security.
Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of NSA and now deputy national intelligence director, has come forward to say, "This program has been successful in detecting and preventing attacks inside the United States."
There's more. Read the whole thing. Clip and save it.

If you have a well-intended friend whose been fooled by the Times and other left-wing media, share Barone's op-ed with them.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Doesn't CAIR have two other stories to tell?

At the online site of Daily Times which describes itself as "A new voice of a new Pakistan," we read a story that in one form or another we've been reading since just after September 11, 2001. It begins:

The Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim rights organisation in the United States, has described the revelation that Muslim gatherings and homes around Washington have been electronically “sniffed” for radiation as “disturbing.”

In a statement on Friday, CAIR said, “This disturbing revelation, coupled with recent reports of domestic surveillance without warrant, could lead to the perception that we are no longer a nation ruled by law, but instead one in which fear trumps constitutional rights. All Americans should be concerned about the apparent trend toward a two-tiered system of justice system, with full rights for most citizens, and another diminished set of rights for Muslims.”
If CAIR ever tires of its "we poor Muslims in America" meme, I hope it gives America its explanations for the following:

1) Why so few Muslims choose to emigrate from America.

2) Why so many Muslims have chosen to immigrate to America since 9/11.

If, as CAIR constantly tells us, Muslims are now second-class citizens with a diminished set of rights, why are so few leaving and so many coming?

CAIR should explain these comings and goings.

Surveillance point and counterpoint

Some of the sharpest and most amusing commentary in the blogosphere can be found on the post threads. Here's an example from Chicago Law Professor Cass Sunstein's post, Presidential Wiretaps.

First, this comment:

It seems probable that the administration did not seek FISA authorization for the surveillance because it thought it would not get approval from the special court.(bold added) Approval, including ex post approval, is apparently pretty easy to obtain.

Doesn't that suggest that the surveillance went beyond "those reasonably believed to be associated with Al Qaeda and its affiliates"?
About five comments down, there's a response that includes this:
I agree with most of (the previous commentator's) words but completely disagree with his thoughts and conclusion. Here's my version of his political thoughts-edited for fairness.

It seems probable that the administration did not seek FISA authorization for the surveillance because it thought it unnecessary, even though approval, including ex post facto approval, is apparently pretty easy to obtain. (bold added)

Doesn't that suggest that the administration underestimated its political enemies, the Democrats, and their print arm, the NYT etc.
You just have to smile.

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Churchill Series - December 23, 2005

(One of a series of daily posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Churchill was always interested in mail from the public. Naturally he couldn't read it all, but staff did; and Churchill had staff keep a tally of the letters by categories he determined. The categories were a mix of "perennials" and subjects of current interest.

Here's the list he made and count for the week of April 2, 1955, when his retirement as Prime Minister was widely rumored:

Requests for autographs, photographs - 45

Foreign letters - 23

On the atom bomb and H-bomb - 21

Requests not to retire - 42

Congratualtion and good wishes - 30

"Lunatics" - 76
Martin Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill: Never Despair. (p. 1117)

National Review correspondent puts in what the Times leaves out

National Review’s White House corresponedent Byron York provides critical background information as to why President Bush acted as he did with regard to domestic surveillance. York explains that was a lot more involved in Bush’s decision than just the need to “act fast.”

In 2002, when the president made his decision, there was widespread, bipartisan frustration with the slowness and inefficiency of the bureaucracy involved in seeking warrants from the special intelligence court, known as the FISA court.

Even later, after the provisions of the Patriot Act had had time to take effect, there were still problems with the FISA court — problems examined by members of the September 11 Commission — and questions about whether the court can deal effectively with the fastest-changing cases in the war on terror.

People familiar with the process say the problem is not so much with the court itself as with the process required to bring a case before the court. "It takes days, sometimes weeks, to get the application for FISA together," says one source. "It's not so much that the court doesn't grant them quickly, it's that it takes a long time to get to the court.

Even after the Patriot Act, it's still a very cumbersome process. It is not built for speed, it is not built to be efficient. It is built with an eye to keeping [investigators] in check." And even though the attorney general has the authority in some cases to undertake surveillance immediately, and then seek an emergency warrant, that process is just as cumbersome as the normal way of doing things.

Lawmakers of both parties recognized the problem in the months after the September 11 terrorist attacks. They pointed to the case of Coleen Rowley, the FBI agent who ran up against a number of roadblocks in her effort to secure a FISA warrant in the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, the al Qaeda operative who had taken flight training in preparation for the hijackings.

Investigators wanted to study the contents of Moussaoui's laptop computer, but the FBI bureaucracy involved in applying for a FISA warrant was stifling, and there were real questions about whether investigators could meet the FISA court's probable-cause standard for granting a warrant.

FBI agents became so frustrated that they considered flying Moussaoui to France, where his computer could be examined. But then the attacks came, and it was too late.
Isn't it interesting to read a calm, fact-based explanation of some very important issues affecting the tracking and capture of terrorist.

As you read York's report, did you find yourself wondering, "Why doesn't the New York Times provide information like this?"

York offers much more. It's all here.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Secretary General and the "overgrown schoolboy"

Why would United Nations' Secretary General Kofi Annan lash out at a reporter, calling him an "overgrown school boy?"

Because the reporter was asking about the mysterious purchase of a Mercedes-Benz by Annan's son with the use of Annan's name to secure some UN sweetheart "money savers" on the purchase.

According to one press report:

Mr Annan ... lashed out at James Bone, a respected UN correspondent for The Times.

Bone had tried to ask the Secretary-General a question about the whereabouts of a Mercedes-Benz vehicle bought by Mr Annan's son Kojo and shipped to Ghana with the benefit of UN tax exemptions.

But an angry Mr Annan accused Bone of behaving like an "overgrown schoolboy". He then questioned the reporter's professional standards and, as he has done for months, refused to address the issue of the mysterious Mercedes.

"You are an embarrassment to your colleagues and to your profession," Mr Annan told Bone. "Please stop misbehaving, and please let's move on to a more serious subject."

Mr Annan's tirade came just minutes after he said a thick skin and a sense of humor were essential character traits for any future secretary-general.
I can't wait to see how the New York Times, Washington Post and other liberal news organizations report this story.

And what will liberal and further left pundits say about this latest from one of their favorite world leaders?

Stay tuned.

No Chruchill Series post - December 22, 2005

The will be no Churchill post today becasue of many other activities.

I'm sorry.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Churchill Series - December 21, 2005

(One of a series of daily posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Readers’ Note: This post is the second of a two-part post. The first can be found here.

On the morning of December 15, 1943 Churchill remained in bed. His temperature was still 101. There were no signs that his pneumonia had lessened.

Throughout the day, specialist physicians were flown from Cairo and Italy to Tunisia. They administered tests and prescribed medications. They told Churchill to cancel his work schedule. He reduced it somewhat, agreeing to see only one person at a time.

On December 16, Churchill summoned his personal physician, Lord Charles Moran. “I don’t feel well,” he said. “My heart is doing something funny – it feels to be bumping all over the place.”

Churchill was suffering a heart attack, at least his second in less than two years. (The other occurred during the night of December 26/27, 1941 when he was staying with President Roosevelt in the White House. News of that attack was not made public at the time.)

That evening he was “weak but cheerful.” He asked his daughter Sarah to read to him from Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice.

The following day Clementine reached him. They had not seen each other for almost six weeks. That evening they dined alone. The next day, Churchill suffered another heart attack.

Let us stop the narrative here to reflect a bit before continuing.

During the course of a single week (December 12 to 18) Churchill, age sixty-nine and with a coronary history, had pneumonia all the week and suffered two heart attacks.

No wonder his physicians feared for his life. In retrospect, it seems extraordinary that he survived at all, to say nothing of his living on for another twenty years.

From what source comes such vitality? We can only wonder.

Then there is the matter of Churchill’s behavior as a patient. In that, as in so many things, he wasn’t at all like most others.

Standard medical treatment at that time called for complete bed rest of six weeks or more following a heart attack. And the time was to be spent very quietly with no work or upset.

Churchill, as we’ve seen, would not accept such a routine. So was he reckless to press on with his extraordinary work schedule with all its enormous strains?

Well, before you answer, consider this: Moran says that Churchill repeatedly asked doctors who prescribed bed rest and quiet whether they had any evidence that such a regimen benefited a patient. They had to tell him no. He even asked if any of them knew of a single case where someone had gotten out of bed a day or two after a heart attack and been the worse for it. Again, the physicians said no.

So Churchill saw no reason for not going on with his schedule as his energy permitted.

He decided to continue meeting with people one at a time. He told his doctors he would get out of bed as soon as he felt strong enough.

Now back to our narrative.

By December 19 Churchill’s temperature was normal and Moran said “the signs of pneumonia are disappearing.”

In the succeeding days his strength returned even as he continued to work beyond the limits the doctors thought wise.

By December 24 he felt strong enough to get out of bed for the first time in two weeks.

On Christmas Day Churchill attended a brief religious service and then hosted a luncheon for military commanders. “His doctors are quite unable to control him,” his Private Secretary John Martin wrote, “and cigars etc have now returned.”

During the rest of December and into January Churchill maintained an active but reduced work schedule while also relaxing with painting and visits from friends.

On January 14, 1944 Churchill left North Africa by plane for Gibraltar where he boarded the battleship HMS King George V for the trip back to England. The ship arrived at Plymouth on the night of January 17. The King had sent his train to meet Churchill and take him on to London.

Of Churchill’s arrival in Plymouth an aide recorded, “There were no political, strategic or diplomatic dramas – the atmosphere was one of immense relief that the PM was back alive and well and truly in control of events.”
For references to Lord Moran, see his Churchill: Stuggle for Survival. (pgs. 17-18 and 161-170)

For other references, see Martin Gilbert, Churchill: A Life (pgs. 762-767)

Senator Reid and WaPo team to distort Bush remarks

For Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and the Washington Post, teaming up to claim President Bush said something he didn’t say is as easy as one, two, three.

If you doubt that, read the first three paragraphs of this Post story, Democrats Criticize Bush For Saying DeLay's Innocent. Then look at what the President actually said.

Here are the paragraphs:

(One) Democratic leaders sternly criticized President Bush Thursday for saying former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, is innocent of felonious campaign finance abuses, suggesting his comments virtually amounted to jury tampering before DeLay stands trial.

(Two) "The president of the United States said a jury does not need to assemble, that Tom DeLay is innocent," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. "To have someone of his stature, the president of the United States, prejudge a case is something I've never seen before."

(Three) During an interview Wednesday on the Fox News Channel, Bush was asked whether he believed DeLay was innocent of the charges of money laundering and conspiracy that led to his indictment and resignation from the House Republican leadership in September. "Yes, I do," the president replied.

It all sounds pretty bad until you look at what the Fox News Channel’s transcript reveals President Bush actually said about DeLay’s trial and his innocence during the Fox News interview with Britt Hume (Scroll about a quarter of the way down to get to remarks cited here):

HUME: You know a thing or two about Texas politics. What is your judgment of the prosecutor in the case, Ronnie Earle?

BUSH: I'm not going to go there, simply because I want — I want this trial to be conducted as fairly as possible. And the more politics that are in it, the less likely it's going to be fair. (Bold added)

HUME: Do you just — do you believe he's innocent?

BUSH: Do I? Yes, I do.

The President never said, as Reid charged, that “a jury does not need to assemble”. He said just the opposite: He wanted a “trial to be conducted as fairly as possible.”

As for the President's "he's innocent" comment, there is in America a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, something The Post often reminded us of during the Clinton administration.

But it's understandable that the Post didn't tell its readers what the President actually said about DeLay's trial or remind them of the presumption of innocence.

If the Post did those things, Reid’s charge and its story would be seen for what they are quicker than you can say, “one, two, three.”

Jay Leno on Iraq and the New York Times

“More Iraqis think things are going well in Iraq than Americans do.

I guess they don’t get the New York Times over there.” —Jay Leno

The Liberal Bubble

The American Thinker editor Thosas Lifson writes today on The Liberal Bubble.

To a remarkable degree, America’s liberal elites have constructed for themselves a comfortable, supportive, and self esteem-enhancing environment. The most prestigious and widest-reaching media outlets reinforce their views, rock stars and film makers provide lyrics and stories making their points, college professors tell them they are right, and the biggest foundations like Ford fund studies to prove them correct.
And has all of that helped liberals to thrive? No, Lifson says:
It has been a disaster for them.
Why is that? Because:
American liberals are able to live their lives untroubled by what they regard as serious contrary opinion. The capture of the media, academic, and institutional high ground enables them to dismiss their conservative opponents as ill-informed, crude, bigoted, and evil.

The memes are by now familiar. Rush Limbaugh and the other radio talkers “preach hate.” Evangelicals are “religious fanatics” comparable to the Islamo-fascists in their desire to impose “theocracy.” Catholics observant of the teachings of their church are “hypocrites” and their priests possible “pedophiles.” Jewish conservatives are members of the “neocon” cult, a suspicious lot schooled in the esoteric works of Leo Strauss.

Liberal elites tend to cluster themselves in the biggest cities, coastal blue states, and if marooned in a red state, liberal enclaves like Austin, Texas, Missoula, Montana, Lawrence, Kansas, and Moscow, Idaho. Ensconced in their turf, they feel free to utter causal epithets directed at the President, Republicans, or conservatives in general, as if no person worthy of respect would dare to disagree.

As a result, liberal discourse has become an in-group code, perfectly understandable and comforting among the elect, but increasingly disconnected from everyone else.
Lifson has a lot more to say. You can read it all here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Churchill Series - Dec. 20, 2005

(One of a series of daily posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

November 30, 1943 was Churchill's sixty-ninth birthday. He was in Teheran attending a Big Three conference with Roosevelt and Stalin.

Because it was his birthday, Churchill hosted that night’s dinner for the three leaders and their aides. Toasts were drunk to his health, with many remarking on his great good spirits and inspiring energy.

But a few weeks later, Churchill's medical condition was critical and his personal physician, Lord Charles Moran, feared he would die.

This post and tomorrow’s post tell something of the battle for Churchill’s life and his remarkable recovery, even as he repeatedly defied doctors’ orders and engaged in activities which placed his life at greater risk.

On December 2, Churchill flew from Teheran to Cairo where he immediately launched into a series of troop inspections, Allied strategy conferences, and diplomatic negotiations while in off moments reading correspondence from London and elsewhere, and dictating letters, memos, and planning documents.

By December 9, Churchill was so exhausted he lacked the energy after his bath to dry himself. Instead, he lay on his bed and wrapped a towel around himself. But he pressed on with what he often called "my duty."

On December 10, after another long and active day, Churchill had a private dinner with a young British officer. The officer had just returned to Cairo from months behind German lines in Yugoslav where he'd helped coordinate British support for the partisan Tito, whose hit-and-run attacks were tying down many German divisions Hitler wanted to use against the Russians or to bolster the Atlantic Wall he knew the Allies would soon attack.

With dinner over and Churchill satisfied he had learned all the young officer could tell him, Churchill's day had not yet ended. There was still the matter of a trip to the airport and an eight-and-a- half-hour flight to Tunisia to meet the next day with Eisenhower.

After the kind of day Churchill had put in, an eight-and-a-half-hour flight would be an ordeal for anyone, especially under wartime conditions. But for a sixty-nine year old man with a poor health history?

There were the problems with the flight. The plane landed the wrong airport. For about an hour, Churchill sat on luggage beside the plane in a cold December dawn.

When matters were finally straightened out, there was another hour-and-a-half flight before he finally meet up with Eisenhower on December 10.

Later that day, Churchill sent Eisenhower a note:

I am afraid I shall have to stay with you longer than I had planned. I am completely at the end of my tether and I cannot go on to the front (for an inspection) until I have recovered my strength.
For most of December 11, he remained in bed while dictating to secretaries and meeting with military planners. He didn’t appear at all well.

On December 12 his temperature was 101. His physicians told him he had pneumonia and must cease work activities.

Churchill ignored them. He continued meeting with military officers and dictating letters and memos to staff.

Churchill’s biographer, Martin Gilbert, says that by the night of December 14:
Churchill’s heart began to show signs of strain. Lord Moran feared that he was going to die.

Churchill himself was philosophical, telling (his daughter) Sarah, “If I die, don’t worry – the war is won.”
Tomorrow we’ll see how Churchill’s life-threatening health crisis worsens before he begins a recovery, and goes on to lead in a war whose outcome was a great blessing to us all.
For references to Lord Moran, see his Churchill: Stuggle for Survival. (pgs. 151-162)

For other references, see Martin Gilbert, Churchill: A Life (pgs. 760-763)

Wise words on the NSA surveillance story

A Betsy Newmark post reminds us “I really don’t know” can be very wise words:

I haven't blogged about the whole NSA surveillance story, because, frankly, the combination of not knowing exactly how this procedure worked along with not having the legal background to understand all the laws and precedents seems to dictate that I shouldn't be pronouncing on this. In fact, I wish that most non-lawyers would just calm down before they start pronouncing this some terrible expansion of presidential power. And given, that we don't know much about whom was eavesdropped on and for how long and if a warrant was sought at some point after the fact, it seems that we have ignorance compounded in some of the discussion on TV and on blogs.
Betsy says the post that’s been most helpful to her is George Washington University Law School Professor Orin Kerr’s at the Volokh Conspiracy.

She also links to National Review’s White House correspondent Byron York who details problems the administration faced when using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Betsy ends with a summary and link to commentary by political pundit
John McIntyre of along with some comments of her own.

Betsy and John agree Democrats who see political advantage for themselves in the surveillance debate don’t realize their party doesn’t do very well when it jumps into the National Defense and War on Terror end of the pool.

Read the whole thing. It’s a great post.

Should the AP help the Dems? My Opinion

The Associated Press must believe the Democrats are not doing a very good job attacking President Bush. Why else would the AP run a story: Bush Leaves Out the Bad News in Iraqi Poll? (Dec. 19, 2005)

It’s not news that President Bush is using poll results that suggest his policies are succeeding. Presidents of both parties always do that, just as the opposition party always points to poll results that cast doubt on the President and his policies.

News organizations are supposed to report what the President and his opponents say about polls, and let voters decide between them. And surely the Democrats are up to attacking Bush’s use of poll results.

But while the AP's news story sounds like the sort of thing you expect from Democratic Leaders Sen. Reid and Rep. Pelosi, it's all from the AP itself:

President Bush is making selective use of an opinion poll when he tells people that Iraqis are increasingly upbeat.

The same poll that indicated a majority of Iraqis believe their lives are going well also found a majority expressing opposition to the presence of U.S. forces, and less than half saying Iraq is better off now than before the war.
Now if Reid and Pelosi had made those remarks, it would have been reasonable and informative for the AP to ask questions such as: “Do either of you know what percentage of Iraqis support the immediate withdrawal of American and coalition troops from their country?”

But how can the AP ask the questions and report when it’s making the statements?

That question deserves consideration. Personally, I hope the AP stops trying to help the Democrats.

The AP and the country will both be better off if the AP develops into an unbiased news organization.

Readers’ Note: I’m pretty sure the AP would want me to say it already is an unbiased news organization.

Monday, December 19, 2005

No Churchill Series post on Dec. 19

Because of my work load, there'll be no Churchill Series post today.

I'm sorry for that.

The Series resumes tomorrow, December 20.

I usually have the Churchill post up by about 11:30 PM Eastern.


Reuters Plays a Democratic Party Game

In a story headlined, House approves $39.7 bln spending cuts (Dec 19, 2005), Reuters helps the Democrats play one of their favorite games. In the process, it misleads the public.

The story begins:

The House of Representatives on Monday narrowly voted to cut $39.7 billion from federal spending over five years, including health care and other social welfare, as part of a conservative push to contain these growing programs.

By a vote of 212-206, the House, at the end of a rare overnight session, approved the spending cuts, which were opposed by Democrats.
The House really didn’t make any spending cuts to health care and other social programs. It voted multi-billion dollar spending increases for them all, only by a slightly smaller percentage than earlier proposed.

But Reuters partners with the Democrats and calls the reduction in proposed spending increases “program cuts.”

Once an MSM news organization reports such “program cuts,” a game rule requires it to quote Democrats hammering Republicans for “hurting the poor and helpless.”

Reuters followed the rule:
Democrats criticized spending cuts to student loans, child care and other programs. Rep. John Spratt (news, bio, voting record) of South Carolina, the senior Budget Committee Democrat, complained that Republicans were negotiating last-minute deals to help medical equipment manufacturers and suppliers, while maintaining reductions in some programs for the poor.

Rep. Chet Edwards (news, bio, voting record), a Texas Democrat, said, "This bill under the Republican leadership makes Scrooge look like a philanthropist."
Additional savings would come in student loan programs, which Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy (news, bio, voting record), a Democrat, called "the biggest cuts to student aid programs ever."
Ther's also a rule that allows MSM news organizations to report terrible things about Republicans without any supporting evidence. So Reuters can report Rep. Spratt accused Republicans of “negotiating last-minute deals to help ... manufacturers and suppliers, while (reducing) programs for the poor” without a quote from Spratt or anything else to support what it claims he said.

Some game!

Reuters waits until the sixteenth paragraph before reporting the $39.7 billion decrease in spending growth is part of a five year, $14 trillion dollar budget proposal. And it never reports the $39.7 billion represents only one-third of one percent of that $14 trillion.

Why does Reuters wait until the sixteenth paragraph? Why does it fail to report "one-third of one percent?"

Because that’s the way an MSM news organization plays the Democrats’ game.

More, Mr. President, Lots More!

I give President Bush a 10 for his press conference performance today. He was clear and forceful. Here he is on the New York Times' disclosure:

My personal opinion is it was a shameful act, for someone to disclose this very important program in time of war.

The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy.

You've got to understand, and I hope the American people understand, there is still an enemy that would like to strike the United States of America, and they're very dangerous.

And, you know, the discussion about how we try to find them will enable them to adjust.
The President's words won't go down well with the liberals who dominate MSM and their Democratic Party friends in Congress, but most folks on Main Street will understand what he's saying and agree.

Michelle Malkin and Ankle Biting Pundits have extensive coverage, including links to other bloggers.

The White House transcript and webcast are here.

Bush got a big, unintentional assist from an obviously hostile, partisan press corps. If I were running the Republican National Committee I'd be working right now to place ads on TV and the internet highlighting the press corps' performance. I liked this reader comment at Michelle Malkin:
The press corps reminded me of that Saturday Night Live skit that ran in the beginning of the 1st gulf war. The press kept asking “ When exactly will we attack, from which direction and what forces will be used” and “What secret code do we use and how does it work?”.

These people are so clueless and blinded by partisanship that they actually expect the president to let everyone know what methods we use to track the communications of people that want to kill us all.
Most of MSM will continue to distort the President's words and actions. The only way for him to counter that is by talking directly to the people.

So more, Mr. President, lots more!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Churchill Series - Dec. 18, 2005

(One of a series of daily posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

A few random facts concerning Churchill:

The former cavalry officer who loved polo and fox-hunting rode to his Sept. 12, 1908 wedding in an electric automobile.

During Churchill’s time, the Prime Minister’s official country residence, Chequers, lacked central heating. Eisenhower referred to it as "that damned icebox."

Churchill once told Eisenhower: "All I want is compliance with my wishes, after reasonable discussion."

Of Churchill and Eisenhower, historian Carlo D'Este says:

Although the two men would engage in numerous heated debates during the course of the war, neither ever lost his respect for or friendship with the other.
Randolph S. Churchill, Winston S. Churchill: Young Statesman for photo and description of automobile (after p. 222)

Carlo D'Este, Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life for other references (pgs. 328-331)

The Washington Post, domestic surveillance, and the Robert's children

The Washington Post editorializes today on government eavesdropping to determine whether people in this country are in contact with terrorists overseas. The editorial concludes:

Congress must make the administration explain itself. In the aftermath of the revelations, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said hearings on the matter would be a high priority in the coming year. That's good. It should be unthinkable for Congress to acquiesce to such a fundamental change in the law of domestic surveillance, particularly without a substantive account of what the administration is doing and why.
But the Post says nothing about domestic surveillance of some of American citizens' most private records. For instance, the adoption records of the Robert's children.

Remember? The New York Times decided it needed to take a look at the children's sealed adoption records. Blogger Michelle Malkin covered the story here.

To my knowledge, the Post never expressed any concern about the Times' domestice surveillance.

It's not too late for the Post to say whether it believes a private, powerful, partisan organization such as the Times should be able to secretly gain access to the adoption and other private records of American citizens, including children. And if so, under what circumstances, and with oversight by whom?

It would also be helpful if the Post explained how the new national shield law it and other newspapers are demanding would have operated in the case of the Times' snoop at the Roberts children's records. Would the law have prevented the public from learning what the Times was up to? Does the Post favor the public knowing when news organizations do such snooping?

Does the Post see any need for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter to hold hearings on what the Times did?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Churchill Series - Dec. 17, 2005

(One of a series of daily posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

It's 1897. Twenty-three year old Lieutenant Winston S. Churchill is serving in Queen Victoria's army in India. He's been under fire often during fighting in what was then British-ruled India's Northwest frontier.

Now, off the battle lines and billeted in Bangalore, he has time to correspond with his mother.

He urges her to do all she can to improve his chances of winning a seat in Parliament at the first opportunity. Later he told a friend, "She left no stone unturned, she left no cutlet uncooked."

Lady Churchill was concerned for her son's safety. With a flippant insensitivity excused by his youth, he told her he would not die in combat because "I do not believe the Gods would create so potent a being as myself for so prosaic an ending."

In a subsequent letter, we see a more thoughtful Churchill. His biographer Martin Gilbert records:

Two of Churchill's friends had also been war correspondents on the Indian frontier. One, Lord Fincastle, had won the Victoria Cross. The other, Lieutenant R. T. Greaves, had been killed in action, "A very little luck," Churchill told his mother, "might have carried me to the highest of all prizes or have ended the game."
Martin Gilbert, Churchill: A Life. (pgs. 80-83)

Who are you calling literate?

If you're writing to a college graduate, be careful what you say. Not all of them are literate.

Teacher and blogger Betsy Newmark tells us more about that in a post that begins :

Wouldn't you guess that college graduates were, well, literate? Apparently not. Less than a third of college graduates tested in 2003 scored as proficient in literacy.
Betsy provides test findings and commentary that should have us all asking why, after sixteen or more years of formal education, so many students can't "read lengthy, complex English texts and draw complicated inferences."

And how do we correct the situation?

I'm sure we'll hear from "student advocates" who'll claim the test results prove we're "failing these college graduates." They'll say our college and university remedial reading and math programs are underfunded. They'll appeal for more government money "to expand and improve student services."

While I'm usually sympathetic to most any appeal to help students, I don't think expanding remedial programs will solve the college graduate illiteracy problem.

Instead, why not do this: In each state, set up a program designed to enable students to achieve literacy before they go to college?

The states would start with children when they were about five, and then give them -- say twelve or so years of formal education.

At the end of that time, literate students would receive a credential attesting to their literacy; and colleges would require that candidates for admission possess such a credential.

That would seem to take care of the problem.

How do you like the plan?

Do you think the leaders of the National Education Association, and here in North Carolina, the NC Association of Educators, will support such a plan?

Read Betsy's post here.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Did Rush Really Say That?

A reader emials that Rush Limbaaugh just said, "The Democrats lost another election. This one was in Iraq."

If that's true, Reps. Pelosi and Murtha, and Sens. Kennedy, Clinton and Reid, and the editorialist who write the news and edit page stories at the NY Times are all going to be upset with Rush.

But hey, is anyone claiming the Democrats are happy about what happened in Iraq yesterday?

The Democratic Party Chairman has made it clear that "the idea that we are going to win this war is an idea that unfortunately is just plain wrong."

When the sense of history overwhelms

The Shape of Days has a powerful essay, When the sense of history overwhelms, on the Iraq election, .

Here's part of it:

How many different ways are there to say “historic moment?” How many different ways can you say that a nation was born yesterday? If I were writing a speech, I’d have all the high-minded rhetoric and soaring oratory you could ask for. But to try to write about it casually, in my own voice … I’m speechless.

Look, here’s how it is: Yesterday, for the first time in their history, the 25 million people of Iraq went to the polls and elected a legitimate, democratic government that was established by a constitution they wrote, a constitution they ratified. Not just for the first time in modern history; not just for the first time in the history of that particular nation-state. For the first time ever.
Read it all here.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Churchill Series - Nov. 15, 2005

(One of a series of daily posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

November 30, 1927 was Churchill's fifty-eighth birthday. As Chancellor of the Exchequer, he spent part of the day reviewing the budget he'd soon submit to Parliament. Among its thousands of details, he was surprised to notice one that taxed people temporarily residing in the United Kingdom.

The tax fell mainly on wealthy Americans who came over for fox hunting. Churchill had previously rejected it in very strong language.

To the bureaucrats charged with budget preparation, Churchill dictated :

Two years ago, I examined the question of the extension of taxation, i.e. Americans temporarily resident in this country.

I expressed very strongly the view that it was to our interest to facilitate the use of this country for the temporary residence of wealthy Americans as it brought very substantial sums of money into the rural areas, especially in the sporting counties.
Churchill reminded the bureaucrats of why he opposed the tax:
a considerable number of wealthy Americans, who used to spend very large sums of money (in fox hunting areas)and elsewhere (will) sell their horses and quit the country, while no doubt others are being deterred from coming.
As a countryman who enjoyed riding to hounds, steeple-chasing and shooting parties, and as a sensible person, Churchill understood how a tax that drove away "wealthy Americans" would also reduce the incomes of the maids, cooks, butlers and stableman who served hunting parties; and the woodcutters, greengrocers and butchers who filled orders from the great houses where the parties stayed; and the incomes of many others in the "sporting counties."
Details of Churchill's actions on Nov. 30, 1927 can be found in Martin Gilbert, Churchill and America. (p.107)

Churchill's appreciation for how taxes on the wealthy can affect other economic classes is well-documented by many of his biographers as is his understanding and love of country life.

Blogging resumes tomorrow afternoon

I'll resume blogging tomorrow afternoon with a Churchill Series post dated Dec. 15.

It been a long week, and I need a good night's sleep.

Like most of you, I'm glad Iraq's election day was largely trouble-free and the turnout was heavy.

Please visit tomorrow afternoon.


Anti-Semite Conflicts and Agreements

David Boyd links to a Jay Nordlinger NRO article that contains this:

One thing that always amazed me is that many Middle Eastern elites couldn't decide whether to deny the Holocaust, celebrate it, or lament that it didn't go far enough.
I don’t doubt that Anti-Semites everywhere suffer from deny or celebrate conflict syndrome. Certainly, all the ones I've known have had the syndrome to a greater or lesser degree.

On the other hand, there are many things that don't cause anti-Semites conflict. They find it easy to hate the United States, for instance. And while they speak of the "pain" they feel for "the suffering Palestinian people,” they become delirious when a Palestinian kid kills Jewish kids by blowing himself up.

One other thing about anti-Semites: Have you noticed they don't get very upset if you kill other people so long as your long-term goal is too kill Jews. So for instance, al-Qaeda can kill Hindus and Christians in Bali and Muslims across the Middle East, and that's all OK with anti-Semites because they know al-Qaeda really wants to destroy Jews.

With anti-Semites for friends, it’s no wonder the Palestinian people are suffering. Think what our lives would be like if we had anti-Semites for friends.

Another reason not to trust the NY Times


I don't think the following email letter to the New York Times editor will appear in the paper. But I hope you'll read it, and share it with friends.

Thank you,

To the editor:

Re: "Saudi Prince Gives Millions to Harvard and Georgetown" (news article, Dec. 13)

You report that among Prince Alwaleed’s previous money gifts, “a $10 million check he gave Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani in October 2001 for the Twin Towers Fund (backfired):”

Mayor Giuliani returned the gift when he learned that a news release quoted the prince as calling on the American government to "re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause."
Actually, as you reported at the time (Times' article available only to paid subscribers), Mayor Giuliani returned Alwaleed’s check after he learned Alwaleed had issued a statement saying in part:
''However, at times like this one, we must address some of the issues that led to such a criminal attack. I believe the government of the United States of America should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance towards the Palestinian cause.'' (Bold added – JinC)
You quoted Giuliani's response:
''I entirely reject that statement. There is no moral equivalent for this act. The people who did it lost any right to ask for justification for it when they slaughtered 4,000 or 5,000 innocent people. And to suggest that there's a justification for it only invites this happening in the future. It is highly irresponsible and very, very dangerous.''
Why, in your Dec. 13 report, did you fail to mention Alwaleed’s “address …issues that led to such a criminal attack” statement? It was, after all, the despicable moral equivalence of that statement that led Giuliani to condemn it and return the check.

But readers are told nothing of that.

Given what actually happened, the Times seriously misleads readers on this important matter when all you say is:
Mayor Giuliani returned the gift when he learned that a news release quoted the prince as calling on the American government to "re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause."
You've just given readers another reason not to trust the Times.



Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Churchill Series - Dec. 14, 2005

In 1906 Churchill's two volume biography of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was published in both Britain and America to mostly favorable reviews.

One American saw some merit in the biography but cared not at all for either Churchill. "I have been over Winston Churchill's life of his father," President Theodore Roosevelt wrote a friend. "I dislike the father and I dislike the son so I may be prejudiced" TR said both the biographer and the subject had "real farsightedness." But they both possessed "such levity, lack of sobriety, lack of permanent principle, and an inordinate thirst for that cheap form of admiration which is given to notoriety, as to make them poor public servants."

TR was closer to the mark with Randolph than with Winston.

A big part of appreciating Winston is recognizing how much he did enjoy what TR called the "cheap form of admiration;" and also how much he wanted political office and the esteem of people he respected; and yet was repeatedly willing to take unpopular stands on important issues.
Martin Gilbert, Churchill and America. (p. 50)

Pundit: Dems Showing "Bad Faith" on Iraq?

The Washington Times' Tony Blankley takes aim at Dems who whine when criticized for demanding "immediate withdrawal from Iraq" or for telling our troops and the terrorists that the idea America can win there is "just plain wrong." Blankley wants Americans to have a serious discussion about the consequences of what those Dems are saying.

For his launch pad, Blankley uses remarks by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright:

Last Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright said: "There is not one Democrat who wants us to fail in Iraq. There is not one Democrat that doesn't want our troops to come home safely or wants our homeland to be properly protected or let Iraq develop a democracy and operate within the region. And I have to tell you, to be maligned or as not patriotic or undercutting the effort, I think is unacceptable."
There are some, I'm sure, who heard that and were ready to say, "Gosh, Madam Secretary, let me give you a hug." But not Blankley who responded:
I suppose it depends on what the meaning of "wants" is. I'll give her the second want: that our troops come home safely. I don't doubt that even the most fanatical antiwar Democrat wants our troops to come home safely, and he or she could honestly argue that an immediate withdrawal of all our troops from Iraq could best effectuate that want.

But as to the first, third and fourth wants (wanting us to succeed in Iraq, to protect our homeland, and wanting Iraq to develop democracy and operate within the region), I have to take exception to the former secretary of state's claim. There are several elected Democrats (I won't hold Mrs. Albright's assertion to include rank-and-file types) who actively support policies that objectively undercut those three wants.

What are rational people to make of Howard Dean's statement that "the idea that we're going to win the war is an idea that, unfortunately, is just plain wrong." In what sense does he "want" us not to fail in Iraq?
Certainly as to the third point (bringing democracy to Iraq) no sane person can believe that intentionally loosing the war by immediately bringing our troops home is rationally calculated to attain that goal.
Democratic Party officials, such as Mrs. Albright, who assert that they support both democracy in Iraq and immediate withdrawal can and should be called on such baldly false assertions.
Democrats (and, for that matter, Republicans) who call for immediate withdrawal should be accused of objectively threatening our national security. Let's have that debate. Politicians who call for immediate withdrawal should not be entitled to claim, as Mrs. Albright does, that they are acting in the best interest of our national security -- whatever they may subjectively think.
Blankley ends with this:
Once upon a time, the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre shrewdly and stingingly criticized self deceivers with the charge of bad faith (mauvaise foi): the self-deceptive motives by which people often try to elude responsibility for what they do.

Now would be a good time to review the applicability of such bad faith to the politicians who claim to have our national security at heart even as they call for surrender and retreat.
You can read Blankley's column here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Churchill Series - Dec. 13, 2005

(One of a series of daily posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Vanity Fair's July 10, 1900 issue contained a character sketch of one of the heroes of the Boar War, twenty-five year old Winston Churchill.

On publication date, Churchill was aboard ship returning to England from South Africa, and planning at least two books and a campaign for a seat in Parliament.

Churchill's son and biographer, Randolph Churchill, shares this from the Vanity Fair sketch:

(Churchill) is a clever fellow who has the courage of his convictions.
He can write and he can fight.
(He has) hankered after politics since he was a small boy, and it is probable that his every effort, military or literary, has been made with political bent. He is something of a sportsman who prides himself on being practical rather than a dandy.

He means to get on and he loves his country. But he can hardly be the slave of any party.
Vanity Fair knew its man.
________________________________________________________________________________ Randolph S. Churchill, Winston S. Churchill: Youth. (following p. 440)

More Bad News for White Flag Dems

Political Musings has a post that begins: We're still winning in Iraq.

It includes this from the Washington Post:

As Iraqis nationwide prepare to go to the polls for the third time this year on Dec. 15 – this time for a new parliament – candidates and political parties of all stripes are embracing politics, Iraqi style, as never before and showing increasing sophistication about the electoral process, according to campaign specialists, party officials and candidates here.
Take a look at the post which links to the WaPo article.

Jeb Bush for US Senate in '06?

Florida-based political pro Thomas Croom at Peer Review considers the possibility Governor Jeb Bush might challenge incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson for his Senate seat in ’06.

If Jeb Bush gets in the race then it’s over the day he announces. After repeated denials of any interest for post Governor positions, he is still leading Nelson by double digits in hypothetical polls.

Hands down, Jeb Bush is the most popular and strongest GOP candidate in the state. If he jumped into the Senate race he would win, and he would practically guarantee victories for every GOP candidate down the ticket. The base would rally, the state would support him and everybody benefits (except dems). Jeb would continue to be the most powerful elected official in FL and continue to direct money to whomever he wishes … and FL dems would continue to be flecked and unimportant in state politics.
The first part of Croom's post, Bush wins, Bush wins, is too “Florida insider” for this Tar Heel. But once I got to Bush and the Senate race, I couldn't stop reading.

And when Croom goes on and considers what Jeb Bush might do once he gets to the Senate, it’s “Watch out Hillary” time.

Take a look here.

Great Leaders and DNC Chair Howard Dean

In his column today, Paul Greenberg recalls the words and actions of great leaders who have stood for freedom. A few examples:

"When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until he has struck before you crush him." — Franklin D. Roosevelt, Fireside Chat, Sept. 11, 1941

"Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never . . . ." — Winston Churchill, Oct. 29, 1941

"With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounded determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph, so help us G-d." — Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dec. 8, 1941

"OK, we'll go." — Dwight D. Eisenhower, June 5, 1944, D-Day minus one

"In war there is no substitute for victory." — Douglas MacArthur, April 19, 195

"Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women." — Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address, Jan. 20, 1981

"Inspired by all the courage that has come before, we will meet our moment and we will prevail." — George W. Bush, 43rd president of the United States, Oct. 11, 2001
And then, Green reminds us, there are also leaders like this:
"The idea that we're going to win this war is an idea that unfortunately is just plain wrong." — Howard Dean, chairman, Democratic National Committee, Dec. 5, 2005
It’s hard to believe Howard Dean is the best person to represent the Democratic Party. But he must be. Why else would Democrats elect him their chairman?

Hat Tip: Michelle Malkin

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Churchill Series - Dec. 12, 2005

(One of a series of daily posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

By age fifteen, Churchill had already impressed his Masters and schoolmates at Harrow with his knowledge of history. He'd won a prize for Roman History and twice won prizes for English History.

Then Churchill began to excelling in another subject. He later said he had Robert Somervell to thank for that.

Somervell was Churchill's English Master. Churchill remembered him as 'a most delightful man to whom my debt is great."

Martin Gilbert records:

Somervell's method, Churchill recalled, was to divide up a long sentence into its component clauses 'by means of black, red, blue and green inks', and teaching it almost daily as 'a kind of drill'; by this method 'I got into my bones the essential structure of the ordinary British sentence - which is a noble thing.'
Martin Gilbert, Churchill: A Life. (pgs. 22-24)

Polipundit's Iraq Post -election predictions

Polipundit offers a very interesting set of predictions about what will happen in Iraq after the election. It's worth reading.

Stay healthy and prevent credit card theft

Interested in "18 Tricks to Teach Your Body" and "22 Ways to Foil Credit Card Thieves"?

Craig Newmark has them and more in his Dec. 9 post (scroll down).

His blog, Newmark's Door, is always worth a visit.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Churchill Series - Dec 11, 2005

(One of a series of daily posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

During his long life, Churchill witnessed extraordinary changes. The gas lamp gave way to the light bulb, the horse carriage to the automobile, and the ocean liners he loved were replaced by four-engine planes.

But not everything changed. Churchill, for example, was harried throughout his public career by egocentric and ill-informed newspaper editors.

Here's part of what his biographer, Martin Gilbert, tells us about a Feb. 14, 1932 Washington Post editorial written when Churchill was in Washington during his American lecture tour that year:

As for Churchill's call for "a working agreement between Great Britain and the United States," (the Post) was hostile.

"Not many years ago." it declared, "political and economic unity with the Yankees would have been repulsive to British statesmen."
"Now the tables are turned and Mr. Churchill is trying to flatter the United States into taking over some of Great Britain's (World War I debts)."
"What contribution has Britain to make to the cooperative bond that Mr. Churchill suggests for the two countries?"
A few years later, the Post's editorial writers began wondering whether the Royal Navy was doing enough to make sure Britain would be able to protect neutral American ships in the Atlantic in the event of a "European war".

In 1939, as First Lord of the Admiralty, Churchill was responsible for making sure Britain could make that "contribution the cooperative bond" between our two nations.

Do you think Post editorial writers in 1939 remembered the editorial of Feb. 14, 1932?

I doubt it, unless editorial writers are wiser today than they were then, and I really doubt that. How about you?
Martin Gilbert, Churchill and America. (pgs. 140-141)

Dean, Clinton, Pelosi? Sure, but don't forget Abizaid.

We've heard lots about Iraq from Democratic Party Chairman Howard "America can't win" Dean. Also, from Senator Hillary Clinton, Representative Nancy Pelosi and so many of their MSM reporter and editor allies.

Now, let's get an idea of what the General in charge of fighting the insurgency in Iraq, John Abizaid, thinks is going on there.

Abizaid recently spoke at the Naval War College. He reported in detail on the situation in Iraq. He explained how he thought it was likely the forces of democracy and civilization could win in Iraq, but he also explained how we could lose to the terrorists.

MSM seems to have missed Abizaid's speech; maybe because it was so busy trying to discover who "outed" the CIA employee after she'd been driving every day for 6 years to her job at CIA headquarters. MSM can't do everything, can it?

Anyway, Right in Raleigh has posted a detailed set of notes taken while Abizaid spoke. Wow! The notes are nothing like Democratic Party experts Dean, Clinton, Kennedy, etc. are telling us. Take a look for yourself right here.

Then go to David Boyd, where you can read what he thinks are the most important parts of the report on Abizaid's speech. Compare what David thinks with what you think.

NYT's "Dumbest Ever" Piece? It's a Tough Call

The dumbest New York Times piece ever?

Michelle Malkin makes a very strong case for Michael Crowley's Sunday NY Times magazine piece about the influence of conservative vs. liberal blogs. But Crowley has a lot of tough competition.

I'm sending Malkin this post, New York Times Editor Offers Explanation for Falsehoods. It contains NYT Op-Ed page editor David Shipley's email to me in which he claims that when the Times listed five famous generals, and immediately followed their names with a sentence that begins, "Having endured the horrors of World War I trenches, these men...," the Times wasn't saying the five were actually "in" the trenches. The Times, Shipley says, was just speaking figuratively. And that was clear, he says.

I'm also sending her my response to Shipley, Op-Ed Fiction From the New York Times.

The Times' willingness to distort the military services of Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton, George Marshall, Omar Bradley and Lucian K. Truscott Jr in order to bolster an op-ed charging the Army lies to West Point cadets and officers may not belong in the "Dumbest Ever" category.

But it surely deserves some recognition. It needs a correction, too.

I hope Malkin can help get that done.

I'll keep you posted.