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.

Self-righteousness v. Taxpayer Billions

( Welocme visitors from Mudville Gazette open post. )

Attorneys for thirty-six law schools and faculties were in The Supreme Court this week arguing that while they have a right to ban military recruiters from their campuses because they object to the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy toward gays, the federal government has no right to enforce a law that denies federal funds to any school that denies military recruiters the same access to students that any other employer enjoys.

The schools want the law declared unconstitutional so they can have both their self-righteousness and the taxpayers’ money; although they don’t state it quite that way in their briefs and oral arguments.

Anyway, George Will's written a wonderful column on it all: 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Hypocrisy. He provides his usual “cut to the chase” analysis including in this case some questions and comments by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices O’Connor and Scalia.

Here’s Will’s closing paragraph:

Today's schools bristle with moral principles that they urge upon the -- so they think -- benighted society beyond their gates. But as Roberts blandly reminded the schools regarding their desire to bar military recruiters: ``You are perfectly free to do that, if you don't take the money.''