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.
Saturday, December 31, 2005
Friday, 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:
16.IV.41We 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."
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.
Winston S. Churchill, The Grand Alliance. (p. 756)
Posted by JWM at 11:50 PM
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.Regarding the purchase, Ambassador Nimah says:
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.
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.The Ambassador had much more to say. You can read it all here.
If duties or taxes were avoided in the transaction, they ought to be refunded and the responsibility for that lies ultimately with Annan himself.
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
Posted by JWM at 10:55 PM
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...
ANNAN: 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...
ANNAN: No, move on to a serious -- move on to a serious journalist.
Posted by JWM at 10:00 PM
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.)Fried goes on to ask a pair of critical questions many Americans are asking themselves:
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.
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?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."
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.
Fried's op-ed is here.
(Hat Tip: Realclearpolitics.com )
Posted by JWM at 11:02 AM
Thursday, 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.
Posted by JWM at 11:52 PM
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.All that's true.
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.
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.
Posted by JWM at 10:42 PM
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.
Posted by JWM at 5:39 PM
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.There's a lot more before the Sun concludes:
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.
(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.”
Posted by JWM at 3:44 PM
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
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.Hmm.
(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.
Posted by JWM at 8:21 PM
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.Stossel follows the list with explanations of how we came to buy into these myths. He ends with some good advice for 2006.
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.
Read his whole column here.
Posted by JWM at 10:25 AM
Tuesday, 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)
Posted by JWM at 11:50 PM
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:
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin
Rep. Jack Murtha
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.
THE NEW YORK TIMES
I'll be posting more soon about why I think the Times deserves the Fisk Award.
Meanwhile, don't forget to vote.
Posted by JWM at 12:43 PM
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.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.
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.
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.You can read the rest of the London Times’ story here.
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.
The full New York Times story is here ; the New York Sun story is here.
Posted by JWM at 10:41 AM
Monday, 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)
Posted by JWM at 10:59 PM
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."
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.Barone, a graduate of Yale Law School where he was an editor of the Law Review, reminds us:
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."
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.There's more. Read the whole thing. Clip and save it.
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."
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.
Posted by JWM at 9:34 AM