Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Churchill Series - Jan. 14, 2006

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

It was September 1919. British troops, along with those of other nations, were fighting in Russia. They were attempting to help the Czar armies (The Whites) defeat the Bolshevik armies (The Reds) led by Lenin and Trotsky.

Many in Britain opposed using troops in Russia and demanded they be brought home. They said British troops were fighting the Czar's battle.

Churchill response to those people contained an analysis and prophesy

"It is a delusion to suppose that all this year we have been fighting the battles of the anti-Bolshevik Russians. On the contrary, they have been fighting ours; and this truth will become painfully apparent from the moment that they are exterminated and the Bolshevik armies are supreme over the whole vast territories of the Russian Empire."
Quote cited in Finest Hour's (Summer, 2003) review of David Carlton's "Churchill and the Soviet Union." (Here and scroll down)

Body armor: Why soldiers are saying "no more."

Here's part of military analyst Andrew Exum's op-ed in today’s New York Times:

From 2000 until 2004, I was an infantry officer in the Army. I deployed with a light-infantry platoon to Afghanistan in 2002, then with a platoon of Army Rangers to Iraq in 2003 and back to Afghanistan in 2004.

While I can testify that soldiers usually appreciate the protection body armor gives them, the load shouldered by the average infantryman often hinders his ability to fight - especially at high altitude as in Afghanistan.

But in Iraq, as well, the "soldier's load" is often unbearable. Most studies recommend that a soldier should not be burdened with more than one-third of his body weight. But if you take a 160-pound soldier and put 40 pounds of Kevlar and body armor on him and then he picks up an automatic weapon, ammunition, water and first aid equipment, it's not long before he is carrying half his body weight - and he is then expected to run, jump and fight insurgents, themselves carrying little more than a 10-pound AK-47. All of this, of course, often takes place in 120-degree heat in the cities of Iraq.

Lost among the politicians' cries for more extensive armor for the troops is the fact that most soldiers, in my experience and based on discussions with many, feel they have enough armor already - and many feel they are increasingly being burdened with too much equipment.
Exum is saying what most soldiers now in Iraq seem to be saying: they have enough body armor. More will only make their service more dangerous while giving the enemy important advantages. It all has to do with speed, accuracy and exposure to enemy fire.

If that seems hard to understand, imagine you're a soldier in Iraq.

Your armored vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. You managed to climb out a second or two before it was engulfed in flames. Carrying 30 extra pounds, you’d never have made it.

Yesterday, you were able to quickly shoulder your weapon and fire a split second before your enemy could. You lived; he died.

For accuracy, your shoulder-fired weapon must be held very steady. That’s tough to do, especially in combat. You know it’s going to get a lot tougher if Congress and the Pentagon decide you need to hang another 5 or 6 pounds of armor on each arm. Why can't folks back home understand that?

When you move from place to place in the open, speed is one of your best protections. It doesn't just limit the time the enemy has a clear shot at you; it limits the time he has to observe where you're going and cell-phone to others who then have some seconds to site their weapons on the corner they know you're about to turn. This time, the enemy will fire first. So he may live; and you may die.

If we can imagine some of what troops in combat face,it shouldn't be hard to understand why so many of them in Iraq are reluctant to put on more body armor.

But Senator Hillary Clinton seems to want to weigh them down with more armor.

Here's some advice for Senator Clinton: You want to be the soldiers' next Commander-in-Chief. Then listen to them when they speak about body armor.

Your deciding about body armor makes as much sense as my telling you how to organize a Hollywood fundraiser.

But if you feel you must decide about body armor, please first wear 30 pounds of it for a few weeks.

Hat tip and trackback: Michelle Malkin

Friday, January 13, 2006

Statement of House Republican leadership election

The Truth Laid Bare got it going.

Now, I'm one of many center-right bloggers who've signed the following joint statement on the House Republican leadership election:


We are bloggers with boatloads of opinions, and none of us come close to agreeing with any other one of us all of the time. But we do agree on this: The new leadership in the House of Representatives needs to be thoroughly and transparently free of the taint of the Jack Abramoff scandals, and beyond that, of undue influence of K Street.

We are not naive about lobbying, and we know it can and has in fact advanced crucial issues and has often served to inform rather than simply influence Members.

But we are certain that the public is disgusted with excess and with privilege. We hope the Hastert-Dreier effort leads to sweeping reforms including the end of subsidized travel and other obvious influence operations. Just as importantly, we call for major changes to increase openness, transparency and accountability in Congressional operations and in the appropriations process.

As for the Republican leadership elections, we hope to see more candidates who will support these goals, and we therefore welcome the entry of Congressman John Shadegg to the race for Majority Leader. We hope every Congressman who is committed to ethical and transparent conduct supports a reform agenda and a reform candidate. And we hope all would-be members of the leadership make themselves available to new media to answer questions now and on a regular basis in the future.

Learn more about it.

Here's a list of blogger signing so far (Courtesy of Truth Laid Bare):

N.Z. Bear, The Truth Laid Bear
Hugh Hewitt,
Glenn Reynolds,
Kevin Aylward, Wizbang!
La Shawn Barber, La Shawn Barber's Corner
Lorie Byrd / DJ Drummond , Polipundit
Beth Cleaver, MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy
Jeff Goldstein, Protein Wisdom
Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
John Hawkins, Right Wing News
John Hinderaker, Power Line
Jon Henke / McQ / Dale Franks, QandO
James Joyner, Outside The Beltway
Mike Krempasky,
Michelle Malkin,
Ed Morrissey, Captain's Quarters
Scott Ott, Scrappleface
The Anchoress, The Anchoress
John Donovan / Bill Tuttle, Castle Argghhh!!!

Follow ups:

Pass the word to other bloggers.

Here in the North Carolina, let's get Republican House members on the record.

I'll post contact info for them tomorrow.

I'll keep you posted on anything I learn about what Tar Heel House Rs are planning.

And you all please keep me posted.

The Churchill Series - Jan. 13, 2006

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

It was August, 1950. The Prime Minister’s office was held by Clement Atlee. The Leader of the Opposition was Churchill, then age 75. He was spending August at Chartwell, his home in Kent, about an hour's drive from London.

At Scotland Yard that same August Detective Constable Edmund Murray, age 33 and a former member of the Irish Guards who’d served with both the French resistance and British intelligence, was ordered to complete all his outstanding case reports. He knew that meant an assignment change.

Murray was told he would now be part of Churchill’s protection detail. He tells us what happened next (British spellings):

I travelled by police car from Scotland Yard down to Chartwell. As I got out of the car I looked towards the half-open, substantial front door of the manor. (It looks as if it were made of solid English oak but is really ordinary pinewood and was designed by Churchill himself.)

In the hallway beyond I could see what appeared to be an immense figure, sitting on a red leather-covered bench.

I approached and recognised the most recognisable figure in the whole world. He was wearing a silver-grey Stetson hat and royal-blue velvet bedroom slippers initialed "WSC" on their fronts in gold thread. He was wearing his siren suit, as he called it, which he had perfected during the war years.

It was just a glamourised boiler suit, really, made in one piece more or less, with a zip fastener down the front. Occasionally when I was waiting for him to dress, I would hear a roar, and would know that he was having trouble with his zip fastener.

The Leader of the Opposition removed the cigar from his mouth with his left hand and offered me his right hand. As I took it I noticed its beauty: smooth and pink, unsullied by the liver spots that were to invade his hands sporadically in later years; with impeccable nails, one of which, that of the little finger of his right hand, was kept about a quarter of an inch long and well pointed. This existed for no unhygienic reason, but to be introduced into the end of any cigar that he took from the box in order to extract it without any damage to the object he loved so much.
I didn't know about Murray until a few days ago. How about you?

I want to learn more about this detective with such a fine eye for detail.
Edmund Murray, "The Churchill I Knew." Proceedings
of the International Churchill Societies 1992-93.

The brainbox and the blowhards

"The brainbox and the blowhards"

You knew it was about Alito v. Sens. Kennedy, Schumer, Biden, Leahy et al; and you're right.

But did you think the post title was mine?

I wish it was but it's the British magazine, The Economist, headline for its Alito hearings story.

It sure tells us a lot about how the committee hearings turned out.

And will you look at how The Economist begins its report:

TED KENNEDY is deeply troubled by the ethics of the Supreme Court nominee. Between 2001 and 2006, Samuel Alito, who is currently an appeals court judge, accepted $7,684,423 in “donations” from special interests who perhaps wanted the law tweaked in their favour. That included $28,000 from defence contractors, $42,200 from drug firms and a whopping $745,373 from lawyers and law firms.

No, wait. Those are Senator Kennedy's conflicts of interest—or, rather, a brief excerpt from a long list compiled by the Centre for Responsive Politics.
You can read the entire article here.

One point the political left and right can agree on: Sens. Kennedy, Schumer, Leahy, Biden, et al are excellent representatives of their party.

The Times can't admit it has an Alito litmus test

I suppose the New York Times will continue telling us it believes Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito should be judged in terms of his fitness to interpret the Constitution and the law.

But an editorial today leaves no doubt the Times views the Alito nomination as all about one big litmus test: Will Alito, if confirmed, rule to uphold Roe v. Wade?

The Times doesn't say that, but it begins with:

There are many reasons to be concerned about the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito Jr. for the Supreme Court, but for a small group of moderate Republicans who strongly identify themselves as supporters of abortion rights, there is a special problem: if Judge Alito gets to the court, there is every reason to believe that he will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade when the opportunity comes.
And it ends with:
The single most important thing a senator can do to support abortion rights is to vote against Supreme Court nominees who would take such rights away. Given Judge Alito's record and his testimony, it is hard to see how Senators Specter, Chafee, Snowe and Collins - or any other pro-choice senators - can call themselves strong advocates of abortion rights if they support him.
Everything in between is about how the Times thinks Alito would rule on Roe v. Wade.

Many advocacy groups admit they use litmus tests for judicial nominees. Why can't the Times admit that, too? Because it fears the public backlash that would surely follow.

Under the American justice system judges are supposed to decide only after they've heard all the arguments during a judicial process. If we demand judges tell us how they'll decide cases before they're heard, we'll be like countries where you know a judges decision before the trial begins.

Most Americans don't want that to happen here. Our distrust on MSM news organizations will only grow if newspapers such as the Times begin admintting they advocate litmus tests for judges. So the Times won't admit it has one for Alito anymore than it will admit its news selection and reporting are influenced by liberal bias.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Chruchill Series - Jan. 12, 2006

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

In June 1942 Churchill visited the United States for the second time since Pearl Harbor. After a series of discussions and an inspection of American troops training in South Carolina, he traveled to Baltimore to meet a flying boat which would take him and his party back to England. President Roosevelt sent his top aide, Harry Hopkins to see them off.

As the flying boat prepared to taxi for takeoff, a struggle was taking place at the end of a nearby pier. Two FBI agents had tackled a man and were wrestling a gun from his hand as he shouted, "I'm going to kill Churchill."

The man was later judged to be insane.

When Churchill learned of the incident he took note of the fact the man had placed himself in the open at the end of a pier: "crackpots are a special danger to public men, as they don't worry about the 'getaway.'"
Tom Hickman, Churchill's Bodyguard. (p. 139)

Remember Sen. Leahy's attack on Judge Bork?

Today at NRO I found Jay Nordlinger's article, The ‘Nastiest’ Democrat," which first appeared in National Review's July 9, 2001 issue.

And no, Nordlinger wasn't writing about Massachusetts’ "liberal lion." His "nastiest" was Vermont’s Sen. Patrick Leahy.

Here's Nordlinger on Leahy's conduct during Judge Bork’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings :

(Leahy) was a major tormentor of Robert Bork during those awful hearings of 1987. In fact, he was responsible for one of their moments of highest drama. He scolded Bork for doing insufficient charity work while a professor at Yale, and recited the fees he earned as an outside consultant during the years 1979 to 1981.

Responded Bork, "Those are the only years I ever made any money in consulting." He continued, emotional, "There was a reason to get money, and I don't want to get into it here." Leahy acknowledged that the judge had his reasons.

Then Sen. Gordon Humphrey, a Republican, broke in, saying, "Judge Bork, this is a very personal question, and if you prefer not to answer it, by all means do not — but were those years [ones that] coincided with heavy medical bills in your family?"

Bork spoke one syllable: "Yeah."

The bills to which Humphrey had referred were for Bork's first wife, Claire, who died in December 1980. This was not only a moment of high drama, but one that turned the stomachs of many of those watching.
Many of us have forgotten how Leahy disclosed that day just what sort of Senator he is.

Nordlinger has a lot more to say about Leahy, all of it worth reading.

It's too bad MSM news organizations won't remind us of Leahy's shameful conduct at least as often as they remind us Vice-president Dan Quayle once misspelled "potato."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Churchill Series - Jan. 11, 2006

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

Churchill's father, Lord Randolph, almost always treated him harshly. For his part, Churchill did all he could to please his father, the hero of his youth whom he continued to revere all his life.

Below are portions of two letters father and son exchanged. They illustrate what I'm saying.

At the time Churchill was 19 and a cadet at Sandhurst. Lord Randolph had given him a gold watch; and later learned from the watchmaker, Mr. Dent, that it had twice been damaged while in Churchill's care. That prompted Lord Randolph's letter. The "Jack" Lord Randolph mentions is his son and Winston's younger brother.

21 April 1894

Dear Winston,
(Mr. Dent) told me (you had) with the utmost carelessness dropped it on a stone pavement & broken it badly.

(After repairs) Dent again received the watch and you told him it had been dropped in the water. He told me the whole of the works were horribly rusty.

I would not believe you would be such a young stupid. It is clear you are not to be trusted with a valuable watch & when I get it back from Mr. Dent I shall not give it back to you.
Jack has had the watch I gave him longer that you have had yours; the only expenses I have paid on his watch was 10/s for cleaning before he went back to Harrow.

(In) all qualities of steadiness taking care of his things & never doing stupid things Jack is vastly your superior.

Your very much worried parent,

Randolph S. Churchill

Churchill replied the next day. His letter includes lengthy explanations of the circumstances in which the watch was damaged and what he did to set matters right. Here's what he told Lord Randolph about dropping the watch "in the water."
I placed the watch my breast pocket - not having with uniform a waistcoat to put it in - and while walking along the Wish Stream I stooped down to puck up a stick and it fell out of my pocket into the only deep place for miles.

The stream was only about 5 inches deep - but the watch fell into a pool nearly 6 feet deep.

I at once took off my clothes and I dived for it but the bottom was so uneven and the water so cold that I could not stay in longer than 10 minutes and had to give it up.

The next day I had the pool dredged - but without result. On Tuesday therefore I obtained permission from the Governor to do anything I could provided I paid for having it all put straight again.

I then borrowed 23 men from the Infantry Detachment - dug a new course for the stream - obtained the fire engine and pumped the pool dry and so recovered the watch.

I tell you all this to show you that I appreciated fully the value of the watch and that I did not treat the accident in a casual way. The labour of the men cost me over (three pounds).
I am sorry to have written you such a long and stupid letter, but I do hope you will take it in some measure as an explanation.

With best love
I remain ever your loving son
Winston S. Churchill

Nothing Churchill did impressed Lord Randolph. To the end of his life he predicted his oldest son would be a failure and an embarrassment to the family name.

Randolph S. Churchill, Winston S. Churchill: Youth (pgs. 209-213)

Open Newmark's Door and look what you find.

Craig Newmark at Newmark's Door is constantly posting "shorties" that lead us to important information we don’t often find in MSM.

Here's one of today's "shorties":

Michael Barone writes that we can understand why the pessimists were wrong about the American economy 25 years ago by looking at the fall of GM and the rise of Wal-Mart.
Follow the link to Barone's column and you'll read:
The American economy continues to surge ahead, though you won't read much about it in mainstream media. Economic growth in the third quarter was 4.1 percent--despite Hurricane Katrina!--the 10th consecutive quarter with growth over 3 percent. Unemployment is 5.0 percent--lower than the average for the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s. Since April 2003 the economy has created a net 5.1 million new jobs.
Core inflation is only 2.1 percent, and gas prices, which surged above $3 a gallon after Katrina, are now down around $2. Productivity growth for the five-year period of 2000-2005 is 3.4 percent, the highest of any five-year period in 50 years.

This is a remarkable performance and owes something surely to the Bush tax cuts and to Alan Greenspan's stewardship at the Federal Reserve. But it also tells us something broader about the American economy. Mainstream media coverage about the economy tends to be full of bad news, especially during Republican administrations, and to focus on economic problems.
Barone has a lot more to say, including his thoughts regarding why GM fell as Wal-Mart rose. You can read it here.

And don't forget to keep knocking on Newmark's Door.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Churchill Series - Jan 10, 2006

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

By the time of the 1906 General Election, Churchill had left his Commons seat on the Conservative side and crossed over to the Liberals. Mostly it had to do with free trade. He was a staunch free-trader.

In the election, the Liberals offered Churchill a chance to run for a seat in Manchester held by a Conservative.

The race was seen as a tough go for him. The Conservative and Labour candidates were strong opponents.

And than there was the matter of many people just not trusting a man who had crossed the aisle. Could you believe anything a turncoat said?

To take advantage of this distrust, the Conservatives decided to distribute a pamphlet filled with quotes Churchill had made while in their ranks.

Let the public challenge him on what he'd once said. That would do him in.

They planned the first distribution for early on the night Churchill was to address a large crowd in a theater he had rented. Put the pamphlet in the hands of the people going in, run a few paid hecklers and some good party men in amongst the crowd, and then shout and hoot Churchill down with his own words.

It seemed like a good plan and everything was in place as Churchill walked onto the stage to a mix of cheers, boos, and a lot of pamphlet waving amidst cries of "Do you deny this?"

Churchill started his formal remarks but the pamphlet waving and cries of "Do you deny this?" threatened to drown him out.

Churchill paused.

Then he drew from his pocket a copy of the pamphlet he's obtained a few hours earlier. "What page should I look on," he asked?

He read for a moment; looked up; and admitted he's said what was on the page. Hoots!

And the other page? He asked for a little quiet while he read.

It was true, too. In fact, as he glanced through the pamphlet, everything he read was something he had said.

He had no quarrel with the people who'd put the pamphlet together. They had told the truth. Indeed, he'd said "all those stupid things."

He seemed to grow angry with himself and started tearing out pages, crumpling some and tossing others over his shoulder all the while repeating, "stupid," "stupid."

Finally, with no more pamphlet left, Churchill thundered to the crowd, "Yes, I said all those stupid things because I was then a member of a stupid party but I left that party and joined one that...."

Much cheering, and the night was his.

On election night, as the British would put it, "Churchill came first."
Many biographers have recorded the pamphlet episode. See, for example, Violet Bonham Carter, Winston Churchill: An Intimate Portrait. (pgs. 100 - 103)

More on The N&O's Sago mine reporting

At Raleigh News & Observer public editor Ted Vaden's blog there are currently two comments concerning his Sunday, Jan. 8, column. That's the column in which he tells readers he "can't find fault" with The N&O for its botched, front page Jan. 4 "miners found alive" story.

How do you think that want down in the newsroom and executive offices in Raleigh, and at parent company McClatchy's California exec suites?

We really needn't pause, do we?

So moving right along ---

One of the two comments is quite critical of The N&O (No, it's not mine).

The other is very supportive of The N&O (That's not mine, either).

I've copied and pasted the entire supportive comment below.

After the comment, I ask some questions and make a few remarks.

I plan to use my questions and remarks as a basis for both a comment at Vaden's blog and a post here tomorrow.

If you are new to this story, stay with it. Search back through archives of the last seven days. News is developing all the time.

Example: Before today, how many N&O readers knew that its executive editor for news, Melanie Sill, and Vaden had explained nothing to readers about The N&O's other mine story on Jan. 4?

You'll read about that story and find a reference to it in my remarks.

Now the supportive comment made at Vaden's blog:

Comment from: Ted at State [Visitor]
01/10/06 at 14:24

Does everything have to be about the N & O's presumed liberal bias? Let's look at the facts:

* The rescuers were given a code phrase if they found them dead and another if they found them alive. No one had the foresight to create one if some were dead and others alive.

* Communications in a mineshaft is pretty bad. I can't get my cell phone to work half the time when I'm in my office, much less 3 miles into a mine (and 250 feet below ground).

* The rescue team was focused on rescue. They heard moaning, so someone was alive. Unfortunately, it was only one person.

The N&O went with everyone else and published the story. They blew it, but not as much as the company withholding the correct information. The N&O hopefully will use this as an opportunity to improve.

Now, as to the comparison to Bush's team and WMD, I really don't see the connection. Rather than a miscommunication over a very short period of time, the WMD conclusion involved selectively reading intelligence reports over several months. The administration decided the outcome, and chose to use or ignore intelligence based on how it supported the outcome.

Calling the N&O liberal is really laughable. You should read some papers that ARE liberal or even progressive. The N&O seems somewhat to the right of the middle, and some of their editorial writers (such as Martinez) seem to be trying to get an invitation to appear on The O'Reilly Factor.

Now some JinC remarks:

Comments to Ted at State ---

What company withheld “the correct information ?” Provide a name and a few facts.

Have you told N&O exec editor for news, Melanie Sill, and public editor, Ted Vaden, that a “company” withheld the “correct information?”

Do you know anything about The N&O's other Jan. 4 mine story?

It’s the two-column story that ran at least in The N&O’s West and Final editions on the same day The N&O reported the miners had been found alive.

The N&O’s other Jan. 4 mine story ran on pg. 10A beside the inside portion of its front page “found alive” story.

It begins, "Even as 12 of 13 trapped miners were found alive, attention turned to the Sago Mine's history of safety violations - and questions about the White House's commitment to mining safety."

And in the middle of the story The N&O says, “In recent years, Democrats have said the Bush administration’s enforcement of mining safety and environmental regulations must come under scrutiny.”

But nowhere does The N&O mention the many statistics indicating the century-long progress in mine safety has continued under the Bush administration. And The N&O doesn’t tell us anything about the many mine safety experts who dispute its “blame Bush” story.

Here are a few questions for Ted at State and other fans of The N&O’s “news reporting.”

We’ve been told The N&O barely had time to get out its wrong “found alive” story. So how did The N&O find time to also publish its “blame Bush” story?

If The N&O had held off a day or two on its “blame Bush” story, might it have had a little extra time to get its “found alive” headline story right?

And why haven’t Melanie Sill and Ted Vaden even mentioned the “blame Bush” story?

Many readers want to know more about both The N&O "miners found alive" story and its "Bush blaming" story.

More tomorrow.

An email to The N&O public editor

Many of you know that since Jan. 4 The N&O has claimed it told readers the Sago mine owners had not confirmed the men were found alive.

My copy of The N&O did not report that. I've had numerous contacts with The N&O trying to find out what's what.

Today I received from public editor Ted Vaden an email that's at the head of the email I just sent him by way of reply. You can read my most recent email below.

I'll post further on this matter tonight. Time is short now.

Dear Ted:

Re your email: John. Where do you live? It may be that you got an edition that didn't have that information. Our copy desk updated the story at least once, maybe twice as more info came in. Ted V.

My copy of the Jan. 4 N&O says West Edition.

Although neither you nor Melanie have mentioned it, The N&O's Jan. 4 West edition contained two mine stories.

One, of course, was your front page one reporting the men were alive.

The second also reported the men were alive. It's on page 10A and begins: "Even as 12 of 13 trapped miners were found alive, attention turned to the Sago Mine's history of safety violations - and questions about the White House's commitment to mining safety.


Did your pg. 10A Bush-blamer mine story run in all editions?

If not, please tell me in which ones it ran?

The Boston Globe is cited at the bottom of the story. Is that entire story a Globe story? Or is part of it N&O?

I look forward to hearing from you.



Alito hearings outcome: A prediction

When his Senate confirmation hearings end, I think Judge Alito's standing with the public will be much higher than it is now. We may be saying Saturday that Alito impressed the public just as positively as then Judge Roberts did during his hearings.

I'll say more about this tonight.

Meanwhile, how do you think Alito's doing? Where do you think he'll stand Saturday?

This post reminded me of yesterday

In January 2004, blogger Collin May decided Howard Dean reminded him of students he’d met while at Harvard Divinity School. He contrasted them with students he’d met at Boston College. Here's some of what May said

Dean reminded me of the students and many of the professors I met when I was studying at Harvard Divinity School ten years ago - a combination of half-witted intellectual and provincial New England upper middle class trying desperately to be a liberal while stumbling all over his complete lack of familiarity with the traditional Democrat working-class and African-American voter.

I'm not surprised that Dean attracts a large "educated" group, which is more or less to say he attracts that coterie of pseudo-educated academic illiterate who has collected a few degrees but has no real understanding of the issues involved. This was exactly the kind of person Harvard Divinity School turned out.

I can contrast this with the two years I spent at Boston College. Many of the students there came from an Irish, Italian or Hispanic background. They were far more attuned to the working class mentality, but also far exceeded the Harvard Divinity students in terms of their intellectual abilities and their grasp of the essentials whether the subject was politics, philosophy or theology.
There's a certain "freshness" to May's comments, isn't there?

I'll bet we're all thinking of the same judicial nominee.

You can read May’s post here.

Monday, January 09, 2006

No Churchill Series post Jan. 9, 2006

Because of some other responsibilities, there's no post today.

I'm sorry I didn't post this message earlier. I kept thinking I could get a post done.

How did Churchill ever do all he did? Some person!

Please come back tomorrow evening after 10 PM.


Is Osama bin Laden dead?

We've heard the reports before: Osama bin Laden is dead. Often, they've come from very questionable sources.

But the latest OBL dead report comes via a respected errorism expert, Michael Ledeen, author of The War Against the Terror Masters and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Here's what he's says in an NRO article:

According to Iranians I trust, Osama bin Laden finally departed this world in mid-December. The al Qaeda leader died of kidney failure and was buried in Iran, where he had spent most of his time since the destruction of al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The Iranians who reported this note that this year's message in conjunction with the Muslim Haj came from his number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, for the first time.
I hope you read Ledeen's whole article. I plan to comment on it tomorrow.

N&O public editor replies. I ask again.

Below are full taxt copies of three emails. The first I sent yesterday, Jan. 8, to Raleigh News & Observer public editor Ted Vaden. I questioned a statement he made to N&O readers in his column yesterday.

The second is Vaden's reply.

The third is another email I sent Vaden after receiving his reply.

I'll let you know what I hear back.

Dear Ted,

In today's column you say The N&O's Jan. 4 story on the miners "did note that the mine owners had not confirmed the rescue." Melanie has made the same claim at her blog.

But my Jan. 4 N&O doesn't contain any mention that "the mine owners had not confirmed the rescue."

What explains that?

Here's a link to a post today concerning your column:

I'll post again on your column tomorrow.



From paragraph six of the Jan. 4 story: "The mine's owner, International Coal Group Inc., did not immediately confirm that the 12 other men were alive."


Dear Ted:

After receiving your email I read The N&O's Jan. 4 front page miners story for what must be the fifth or sixth time.

Contrary to what you and Melanie are saying, nowhere in the story I read is there any mention that the "mine's owner, International Coal Group Inc., did not immediately confirm that the 12 other men were alive."

I've asked others to read the story. They, too, found nothing about mine owners
not immediately confirming the 12 men were alive.

The story ran five days ago. Any question about its contents, especially one of this importance, should have been resolved by now.

I want to do what I can to make that happen.

Would it help if I faxed you a copy of the part of your front page story that contains all the text there of the miners story as well as faxes of all text of the inside page part of the story?

If it's necessary, I'll drive to The N&O's office in Chapel Hill so one of your staffers can look at my Jan. 4 N&O. But I can't get to Chapel Hill much before 6:30 PM.

I look forward to hearing from you.



Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Churchill Series - Jan. 8, 2006

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

I want to share a story that reflects Churchill's care for the precise use of language, even under the most trying circumstances. I can't cite a source for it but I recall reading it in a reliable one; and I don't doubt that on the important points the story is true. So with the usual caution about memory, here's the story.

Churchill was in his last years and visiting with friends in the South of France. After dinner, they went outside and sat quite awhile talking. Darkness fell and a wind came up. Churchill's physician, Lord Charles Moran, urged the party to go inside. Churchill wanted to stay outside. So the party did.

Churchill awoke the next morning with fever, chills and severe bronchial congestion. Lord Moran feared he had pneumonia but told Churchill he thought it was a cold. Moran added, "I fear you caught it sitting out so late on the porch."

Churchill, struggled to say something in response but Moran didn't catch it. So he bent close to him and asked what he'd said.

"It's a portico, Charles, a portico."

Don't miss Will; look in on Boyd

From a George Will column about government and people, David Boyd highlights this graf:

Government could spare itself the stress of moralizing about so many things if it decided that the choices people make with their money is their, not its, business. And government could avoid having opinions about so many things if it would quit subsidizing so many things.
Don’t miss Will’s column. And look in on Boyd.

"I can't fault The N&O," public editor says.

Raleigh News & Observer public editor Ted Vaden's column today concerns The N&O's botched story reporting 12 miners had been found alive.

Vaden's column is basically more of what N&O executive editor for news Melanie Sill has been telling readers: OK, the story was wrong. We're sorry. We'll review procedures but it wasn't our fault.

Here's how Vaden puts it:

I can't fault The N&O or the rest of the newspaper sorority for going with the incorrect story. It was the best information available and it was tied to credible, identified sources.
Compare Vaden's "can't fault The N&O" conclusion with what Wichita Eagle editor Sherry Chisenhall told readers about similar mistakes The Eagle made. From her Jan. 4 column, "Here's why The Eagle got it wrong:"
(We) violated a basic tenet of journalism today in our printed edition: Report what you know and how you know it.

We published what we believed to be true at the time. But unfortunately, we failed to make clear exactly where those reports were coming from and that they were not confirmed. Instead, our story and headline reported them as certainty.

Many newspapers and TV stations reported exactly what we did today. But being wrong in crowded company is still being wrong.

Our commitment to our readers is to tell you exactly what we know and how we know it. Today, we fell short.
I respect Chisenhall for so forthrightly acknowledging her paper's mistakes and accepting responsibility for them. Nowhere in her column does she shift responsibility and blame others. If it's a fair sample of how she regularly practices journalism, Chisenhall's staff and readers are very fortunate.

I'll say more about Vaden's column in a post tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I'm sending Vaden the following email. I'll let you know when he replies.

Dear Ted,

In today's column you say The N&O's Jan. 4 story on the miners "did note that the mine owners had not confirmed the rescue." Melanie has made the same claim at her blog.

But my Jan. 4 N&O doesn't contain any mention that "the mine owners had not confirmed the rescue."

What explains that?

Here's a link to a post today concerning your column:

I'll post again on your column tomorrow.



MSM reports on Bush's approval ratings

For a while it seemed we couldn't read or hear a news story that didn't include a reference to President Bush's approval rating.

"With President Bush's poll numbers plunging, the state fair opened today ..."

Even in the travel sections we were finding things like: "A family visiting Newfoundland could easily forget Bush's most recent approval rating is among the lowest ...."

Now that Bush's approval ratings have risen from the high 30's to the mid'40's we're not seeing or hearing many references to them.

That tells us something even as MSM insists it doesn’t have a political agenda