Saturday, March 04, 2006

What really explains Air America’s failure?

Michelle Malkin links to Brian Maloney at The Radio Equalizer who reports:

While Air America Radio's loss of two affiliates in Phoenix and Missoula, Montana is generating news this week, the company itself probably hasn't been able to give either city a second thought.

Why? In a development sure to rip the heart right out of the liberal radio network's already ailing body, it appears extremely likely their leased New York City flagship station WLIB-AM will soon abandon Air America programming.

Even worse, litigation looks probable over the station's lease.
So what’s brought Air America to the edge of its grave?

Some blame Al Franken. He’s not funny or interesting.

Others ask whether even liberals wanted to listen to Bobby Kennedy Jr’s rant about environmentalism once they learned he owns three large homes, flies private jets, and opposes wind energy projects in coastal waters near oceanfront properties he owns in Massachusetts and New York.

And, of course, the company’s shady financial dealings drove away potential investors whose money might have helped Air America hire talented people.

While all that’s true, it doesn’t get at the most important reason for Air America’s impending demise: It’s failure to woo enough liberals away from their favorite liberal talk radio network: the giant, government subsidized National Public Radio.

How today's MSM might have covered D-Day

(This post is an updated version of one I posted shortly after D-Day, 2005.)

The D-Day anniversary reminded us of what we owe all the men and women who made our victory in WW II possible.

It also led me to wonder how today's news organizations might have reported on the invasion.

What follows is satire but all historical references are accurate.

Now here’s ABC’s Good Morning America – June 8, 1944

Charles Gibson: “We begin this morning with the war news, including reports of a serious split in the ranks of Allied military leaders.

When we first reported the D-Day invasion, we believed American and British military leaders had agreed on the invasion plan. Now we hear that was not the case.

First to Linda Douglas at the War Department.

Linda, any truth to what we're hearing?"

Douglas: “There certainly is, Charles. My source, who must remain anonymous, says Eisenhower’s air chief, Leigh-Mallory, strongly opposed the plan to drop paratroops into Normandy, fearing they couldn’t achieve their objectives and would suffer massive casualties.

Eisenhower, who's not an airman and has no experience commanding paratroops, went against Leigh-Mallory’s advice and ordered the drop anyway.

While we're being told the paratroops achieved their objectives, even Ike’s headquarters is admitting a lot of lives were lost.

Gibson: “Linda, any word yet who will replace Eisenhower?”

Douglas: “No.”

Gibson “Well, do we at least know when he'll be replaced?”

Douglas: “I’m afraid that might not be soon, Charles. Ike’s boss, General Marshall, is solidly behind him.”

Gibson: “That’s really not too surprising, since Eisenhower is a Marshall protégé. Well, thank you, Linda.

That evening on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams ---

Williams: Next, we go to our chief White House correspondent, David Gregory.

David, I'm a little puzzled as to why President Roosevelt has said nothing about this major split in Allied leadership? He spoke to the nation on D-Day but made no mention of it.”

Gregory: “That’s right, Brian. And he’s still said nothing.

And I’ve got to tell you that from where I’m standing here on the White House lawn that looks like a really huge blunder.”

Williams: “Why is that, David?”

Gregory: “Because it makes you wonder if Roosevelt really knows what’s going on in Normandy.”

Williams: “Indeed, David. NBC will continue to follow this story.

For an example of actual D-Day news reporting, here's part of a report Ernie Pyle, later killed by enemy fire in the Pacific, wrote on Omaha Beach on June 7, 1944:

In this column I want to tell you what the opening of the second front in this one sector entailed, so that you can know and appreciate and forever be humbly grateful to those both dead and alive who did it for you.
You can still see the foxholes they dug at the very edge of the water, in the sand and the small, jumbled rocks that form part of the beach.

Medical corpsmen attended the wounded as best they could. Men were killed as they stepped out of landing craft. An officer whom I knew got a bullet through the head just as the door of his landing craft was let down. Some men were drowned.

Our men were pinned down for a while, but finally they stood up and want through, and so we took that beach and accomplished our landing. We did it with every advantage on the enemy's side and every disadvantage on ours.
Pyle titled his report "And Yet We Got On." You can read it here.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Churchill Series - Mar. 3, 2006

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

I recall a courtroom drama in which the lawyer I was rooting for said to the witness I knew was guilty: “Well then, if you never knew her, how do you explain this cancelled check, which I ask the court to admit in evidence? “

Richard M. Langworth, Churchill scholar and editor of The Churchil Centre’s quarterly journal, Finest Hour, gives us a kind of “cancelled check” courtroom moment in a review responding to critics of Churchill’s multi-volume history, The Second World War.

Langworth first tells us about a "witness" whom he calls an analyst:

Churchill's prose "could often be aversive [sic] to modern readers," wrote another recent analyst, and, by the time the books appeared, "the world had moved on into an exhausted flatness that had little to do with, and little time for, the high-flown attitudes and language of Churchillian rhetoric."
Then Langworth produces "the check:"
If that's so, why was The Second World War able to sell over 300,000 copies of each volume as it was published, millions since, eighteen translations into foreign languages, three major serializations and several million abridgements?
If that’s so indeed!

Enter Editor Langworth’s "check" into evidence.

Some Friday fun. Howard Dean helps

Yes, the Democrats can do more than bash President Bush. Why they have a whole new program for America.

At the Democratic Party's blog, Party Chairman Howard Dean tells us what it is:

First we will conclude the negotiations with the Chinese and the North Koreans to disarm North Korea. Secondly, under no circumstances will a Democratic Administration ever allow Iran to become a nuclear power. Three, we will kill or capture Osama bin Laden and four, the authority and the control of the ports of the United States must be retained by American companies.
Can the Dems do all that next week or will they need the rest of the month? Dean doesn't say.

The WSJ's James Taranto thinks Dean may be "lifting material from 'Monty Python's Flying Circus.'" He provides this transcript from a Python sketch called "How to Rid the World of All Known Diseases":
Alan (John Cleese): Well, last week we showed you how to become a gynecologist.

And this week on "How to Do It" we're going to show you how to play the flute, how to split an atom, how to construct a box girder bridge, how to irrigate the Sahara Desert and make vast new areas of land cultivatable, but first, here's Jackie to tell you all how to rid the world of all known diseases.

Jackie (Eric Idle): Hello, Alan.

Alan: Hello, Jackie.

Jackie: Well, first of all become a doctor and discover a marvelous cure for something, and then, when the medical profession really starts to take notice of you, you can jolly well tell them what to do and make sure they get everything right so there'll never be any diseases ever again.

Alan: Thanks, Jackie. Great idea.
Dean sure sounds like he's been reading "How to Do It" transcripts.

Taranto called his post: Howard Dean's Flying Circus

I. O. U. posts - 3/3/06

I'm late with The March 2 Churchill Series post. Sorry about that. I'll have it up by this afternoon.

Also, I said I'd post something on the White House press corps last night. I plan to have that up by tomorrow morning.

Right now my attention is focused on: 1) The N&O's failure to report anything on the kidnapping and killing of Ilan Halimi in Paris; and France's shock and concern at the anti-Semitism involved.

2)Obtaining a statement from Congresswoman Sue Myrick or her office concerning whether she has acknowledged her one sentence letter to the President contained a major error.

3) Pulling a post together regarding errors of fact and omissions in yesterday's N&O
story, "Video shows Bush warned before storm. Confidential footage conflicts with earlier claims that levee breaches weren't predicted"

As you know that headline is false.

Thanks for your understanding. And please continue to visit.

Please keep visiting

Trouble in a politically correct paradise

Craig at Newmark’s Door took a look at this and that at some college campuses. His post is fun.

Among other things Craig noticed some sophomore upset at one of our most politically correct colleges :

And at Swarthmore, things are just tough. It has like really annoying flowers and bugs and stuff; you have to read really long books; and the classes are so small, the professors know when you're cutting class. Thank God for the strawberry smoothies and the sushi!
Read the entire post here. It has a link to the Swarthmore piece which appeared in the college’s student newspaper.

Hugh Hewitt on NBC's David Gregory's Imus call in

Was NBC's cheif White House corresspont David Gregory drunk when he called in from India to the Imus in the Morning program? You can listen to a very good quality audio of the entire call here. (via Radio Blogger)

Here's what Hugh Hewitt says:

Just listened to the tape. Gregory wasn't drunk. He wasn't composed, that's for sure, and he might have been jet-lagged, but I think it was one of those moments when the giggles hit. It happens. And he recovered enough to makes some very coherent statements about the nuclear deal signed today. Cut him some slack.
Hewitt's comments are fair, even generous. I'll give Gregory the benefit of the doubt.

What do you think?

Krauthammer: " Oscars for Osama"

Charles Krauthammer in today's Washington Post:

Nothing tells you more about Hollywood than what it chooses to honor. Nominated for best foreign-language film is "Paradise Now," a sympathetic portrayal of two suicide bombers. Nominated for best picture is "Munich," a sympathetic portrayal of yesterday's fashion in barbarism: homicide terrorism.

But until you see "Syriana," nominated for best screenplay (and George Clooney, for best supporting actor) you have no idea how self-flagellation and self-loathing pass for complexity and moral seriousness in Hollywood.

The "Syriana" script has, of course, the classic liberal tropes such as this stage direction: "The Deputy National Security Advisor, MARILYN RICHARDS, 40's, sculpted hair, with the soul of a seventy year-old white, Republican male, is in charge" (Page 21).

The political hero is the Arab prince who wants to end corruption, inequality and oppression in his country. As he tells his tribal elders, he intends to modernize his country by bringing the rule of law, market efficiency, women's rights and democracy.

What do you think happens to him? He, his beautiful wife and beautiful children are murdered, incinerated, by a remote-controlled missile, fired from CIA headquarters in Langley, no less -- at the very moment that (this passes for subtle cross-cutting film editing) his evil younger brother, the corrupt rival to the throne and puppet of the oil company, is being hailed at a suitably garish "oilman of the year" celebration populated by fat and ugly Americans.

What is grotesque about this moment of plot clarity is that the overwhelmingly obvious critique of actual U.S. policy in the real Middle East today concerns America's excess of Wilsonian idealism in trying to find and promote -- against a tide of tyranny, intolerance and fanaticism -- local leaders like the Good Prince.

Who in the greater Middle East is closest to the modernizing, democratizing paragon of "Syriana"?

Without a doubt, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, a man of exemplary -- and quite nonfictional -- personal integrity, physical courage and democratic temperament.

Hundreds of brave American (and allied NATO) soldiers have died protecting him and the democratic system they established to allow him to govern.

On the very night the Oscars will be honoring "Syriana," American soldiers will be fighting, some perhaps dying, in defense of precisely the kind of tolerant, modernizing Muslim leader that "Syriana" shows America slaughtering.

It gets worse.
Well, trust Hollywood, if you know what I mean. From "The Sands of Iwo Jima" to "Syriana" in two generations.

Krauthammer ends with:
Most liberalism is angst- and guilt-ridden, seeing moral equivalence everywhere. "Syriana" is of a different species entirely -- a pathological variety that burns with the certainty of its malign anti-Americanism. Osama bin Laden could not have scripted this film with more conviction.
Those last two sentences really get at what much of Hollywood and America's Left is about: anti-Americanism and helping the other side.

The anti-Americanism is deliberate.

But I doubt many in the anti-American crowd realize they're helping America's enemies. They usually hold in their head some scenario in which "the people" wake up to their oppression and bring dramatic change to our imperialist government - think Dennis Kucinich as President, Sean Penn as U. N. Ambassador, Ramsey Clark once again Attorney General. Those folks embrace Castro and Chavez. And suddenly peace and justice break out.

I don't plan to watch the Oscars. But I do plan to keep reading Charles Krauthammer and listening to him most week nights on Fox's Special Edition with Brit Hume. Krauthammer's one of the best. So, for that matter, is Brit Hume.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Churchill Series - Mar. 2, 2006

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

In 1921 Churchill, than Colonial Secretary, reported to the Commons on his recent trip to the Middle East. It included these remarks:

A large number of Bin Saud’s followers belong to the Wahabi sect, a form of Mohammedanism which bears, roughly speaking, the same relation to orthodox Islam as the most militant form of Calvinism would have borne to Rome in the fiercest times of the religious wars.
The Wahabis profess a life of exceeding austerity, and what they practice themselves they rigorously enforce on others. They hold it is an article of duty, as well as faith, to kill all who do not share their opinions and to make slaves of their wives and children.

Women have been put to death in Wahabi villages for simply appearing in the streets. It is a penal offense to wear a silk garment. Men have been killed for smoking a cigarette, and as for the crime of alcohol, the most energetic supporter of the temperance cause in this country falls far behind them.

Austere, intolerant, well-armed, and bloodthirsty, in their own regions the Wahabis are a distinct factor which must be taken into account, and they have been, and still are, very dangerous to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, and to the whole institution of the pilgrimage, in which our Indian fellow-subjects are so deeply concerned.

The Emir Bin Saud has shown himself capable of leading and, within considerable limits, of controlling these formidable sectaries.
In practice, the Wahabis of our day are much like those of Churchill's day. But in reach, matters are very different now. The Wahabis, often called Islamists, are no longer contained within a particular region. Like every other force that has attacked democracy, they must be faced and defeated lest they prevail.
Winston Churchill, Speech in the House of Commons, June 14, 1921

What's Harvard's future? Second post

Yesterday I posted: What's Harvard's future?

In a New Republic article, Harvard Law Professor William J. Stuntz says it's not very bright:

Fifty years ago, General Motors was on top of the world--and knew it. GM dominated the American automobile market, and the American market dominated the world.

What could possibly go wrong?
You know the answer. If you had to give it in two words, you’d say: Honda, Toyota.

Stuntz believes Harvard and other leading American private and public American universities are now in a position similar to GM’s in the 50s. What’s worse, like GM then , they’re smug, ignore critics, resist change, over-reward entrenched employees, and deliver an increasingly inferior product at too high a price.

I said I’d give Stuntz a second read last night and post today. For my latest, I picked what most stood out to me and skipped quite lot.

So reader beware. Better still, read Stuntz’s article here (Registration's required but it's free and easy.)

Stuntz says:
There is little reason to believe that undergrads and graduate students are better educated today than a generation ago. More likely the opposite. Teaching loads of senior professors have declined; probably teaching quality has declined with it.
It’s hard to say whether a decline in teaching quality is tied to a decline in the teaching load of senior professors.

Senior professors aren’t necessarily good undergrad teachers and some grad students are excellent teachers.

But there is a "truth in labeling" issue involved here. If universities are going to give senior faculty a pass on undergrad teaching, the consumers – parents and students – ought to know that.

I recently learned that more than 50% of the undergraduate courses offered at the University of North Carolina –Chapel Hill are taught by grad students and part-time faculty.

Most North Carolinians would be surprised by that statistic. And I think they would ask, “Why is that?”

I have no idea what UNC – Chapel Hill administrators would say in response.

More Stuntz:
The culture of research universities has grown ever more contemptuous of students, especially undergraduates, who are seen as an interruption of one's real work rather than the reason for the enterprise. Which means that, year by year, students and their parents pay more for less. That isn't a sustainable business plan.
It’s very important to note Stuntz is talking about the “culture of research universities;” not individual professors, many of whom welcome and respect students.

That said, I’ll add: Many college faculty tell me time spent with students doesn’t count for much with trustees and administrators; only research matters, especially at tenure and promotion times.

Still more Stuntz
If undergraduate education is too often an afterthought, graduate education is too often a con game. A sizeable percentage of PhDs will never get tenure-track teaching jobs, which are the only jobs for which their education trains them. Since no jobs await them, they hang around longer getting their degrees, all the while teaching classes and doing research for their academic sponsors.
And that’s why, if you live near a large university, you know many people who understand plumbing theory and development but, like the rest of us, you can’t find anyone to unclog your pipes.

Universities compartmentalize knowledge, chopping it up into ever more and smaller pieces.

I teach and write about American criminal justice. Scholarship on crime and criminal justice is divided among a half-dozen different schools and departments: law, political science, economics, sociology, anthropology, and public health.

Scholars in each of those areas know next to nothing about scholarship in all the others. (I'm no better than anyone else on this score.) No wonder our work is ignored by policymakers; each of us can elaborately describe his own piece of the elephant but none sees the beast whole.

One could tell the same story with respect to dozens of other fields of study.
I’ll come back to Stuntz’s essay over the weekend.

Meanwhile, I hope you read it and comment.

David Gregory's Imus call in

Radio Blogger has an excellent quality audio of NBC's chief White House corresspondent David Gregory's now famous call in today to the Imus in the Morning program..

There are clips of some of Gregory's call floating around, but Radio Blogger has it all.

I plan to post later tonight on Gregory and the White House press corps.

Why is The Raleigh News & Observer silent on the Halimi crimes and what followed?

On Jan. 20 Ilan Halimi, a 23 year old French Jew, was kidnapped in Paris. In the days that followed his family sougt his release as kidnappers made various ransom demands.

Then on Feb. 13 Halimi was found handcuffed and naked by a railroad track south of the city. His body was covered with stab wounds, burns and other indications of torture. He died in an ambulance on the way to a hospital.

The gang police say carried out the crimes are young Muslims, most of whom live in areas where there was rioting last fall.

Police and national government officials initially denied anti-Semitism was a motive for the gang. But on Feb. 23 The Wall Street Journal reported they had reversed themselves and concluded anti-Semitism was a motive:

Justice Minister Pascal Clement explained that the charge of anti-Semitism was based on the fact that one of the suspects had declared to the judge that they picked a Jew because Jews are supposed to be rich. But, according to reports in the French press, some of the suspects in police custody said that they tortured Ilan with particular cruelty simply because he was Jewish.
That same day, President Chirac, his wife and many leading officials joined Halimi's family and friends at a memorial service at a Paris synagogue.

On Feb. 26, the Associated Press reported:
Some one hundred thousand demonstrators, including ministers and politicians of all stripes, joined in a show of force against racism and anti-Semitism on Sunday, marching through the French capital after the torture and killing of a Paris Jew, 23-year-old Ilan Halimi.
A Washington Post story on the crimes and French reaction was headlined:
Killing in France Seen as 'Wake-Up Call'
If you depend on The Raleigh News & Observer for your news, you haven’t yet read a single word about Halimi and France’s “Wake-Up” call.

Why is The N&O silent on this important story?

On Feb. 28 I phoned N&O public editor Ted Vaden and asked him that question. He said he’d talk to "our news people" and get back to me.

I've heard nothing from him. Maybe my question just dropped off his radar screen.

I’m sending him an email and link to this post.

I’ll keep you informed.

The Clintons are always the Clintons

Senator Hillary Clinton looks at the UAE ports deal in terms of political gain while her husband, the former President, rakes in megabucks lobbying for the UAE.

The Clinton's remind me of the old politician who said, "I may have made that remark, but at this time I'll neither confirm nor deny that I meant it."

A Clinton here and a Clinton there

The Financial Times and Bob Novak report on “the spectacle of the two Clintons going in opposite directions on the UAE port-management” deal.

While Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was ripping President Bush's handling of American ports management, Bill Clinton was pushing for one of his favorite White House aides to be hired to defend the deal. The former president proposed to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) his onetime press secretary, Joe Lockhart, as Washington spokesman for the UAE-owned company, Dubai Ports World.

Widespread public reaction against outsourcing control of the ports was seen by Sen. Clinton and other prominent Democrats as a chance to outflank the Republicans on homeland security in this year's elections. Behind the scenes, however, Democrats aligned with the Clinton family were lobbying for the UAE. ...
It was big buck lobbying, the only kind we'd expect from a Clinton:
The sheikdom has contributed to the Clinton Presidential Library, and brought (the former president ) Clinton to Dubai in 2002 and 2005 for highly paid speeches (reportedly at $300,000 apiece). He was there in 2003 to announce a scholarship program for American students traveling to Dubai.
Two days ago in a UAE port service deal update I said I'd be "watching Hillary Clinton, but that’s just to see how she thinks she can play the ports deal for political advantage."

Now we can watch Bill Clinton play the ports deal for financial advantage.

It's a shame we can do either.

Also, have you noticed how little press coverage Bill Clinton's lobbying is getting?

Now if he were a Haliburton executive who'd been photographed with President Bush ...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Churchill Series - Mar. 1, 2006

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

The three most powerful WW II allies: America, Britain and Russia.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee: America and Britain.

Why wasn't Russia represented?

The Grand Alliance Churchill explained it this way:

The Russians were not represented on the Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee (because they) had a far-distant, single, independent front, and there was neither need nor means of Staff integrations.
Of course there was more to it than that, but in this brief post we won't get into whys and wherefores historians have disputed for more than half a century.

We'll move along to something else Churchill said about the Combined Chiefs:
The enjoyment of a common language was of course a supreme advantage in all British and American discussions.

The delays and often partial misunderstandings which occur when interpreters are used were avoided.

There were however differences of expression, which in the early days led to an amusing incident.

The British Staff prepared a paper which they wished to raise as a matter of urgency, and informed their American colleagues that they wished to "table it."

To the American Staff "tabling" a paper meant putting it away in a drawer and forgetting it.

A long and even acrimonious argument ensued before both parties realized that they were agreed on the merits and wanted the same thing.
Whatever the case with Russia, any historian questioning Churchill's "table it" story, need only look up table in The Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary:
table verb [T]

1 UK to suggest something for discussion:
An amendment to the proposal was tabled by Mrs. James.

2 US to delay discussion of a subject:
The suggestion was tabled for discussion at a later date.
With that now cleared up, what do you say to tabling further discussion?
Winston S. Churchill,
The Grand Alliance. (pgs. 686-689)

A Harry Lauder remark that will leave you smiling

Sir Harry Lauder (1870 - 1950) was a Scot who composed and sang popular songs, told jokes, and in two World Wars entertained troops, often near battlefields.

An American who thinks of Lauder as combining the best of Irving Berlin and Bob Hope is on the mark.

And the smile?

Lauder once said to a Scotland in the midst of the Great Depression:

"When I want to fill my fountain pen, I always go to the bank where I keep my over-draft, they have a better quality ink than you get at the post office."
You can read more here. The site includes a link to some of his songs.

What's Harvard's future?

In the New Republic Harvard Law Professor William J. Stuntz writes:

Fifty years ago, General Motors was on top of the world--and knew it. GM dominated the American automobile market, and the American market dominated the world. Every year, another line of Chevrolets and Buicks rolled out, pretty much the same as the last, save for the shape of the tailfins. Millions bought them. Wages rose and benefits increased. If costs were higher, customers seemed happy to pay. What could possibly go wrong?
Stuntz says plenty can and will go wrong at Harvard and at many other American universities. He explains why before ending with:
When one sees a large competitive opportunity, it's usually a good bet that someone else has seen it already.

Universities in other parts of the world now enjoy an enormous opportunity. And the competitive position of American schools is worse than GM's in the 1950s. Then, Germany and Japan were still prostrate; no one could imagine that within a generation their economies would seem poised to overtake America's.

Now, it's easy to imagine that a generation hence, Chinese or Indian universities will dominate the world, or perhaps that some intellectual entrepreneur will bring Oxford or Cambridge back to the top of the heap.

Or--this is the scenario to root for--maybe Bill Gates will use a few of his billions to create a new university from scratch, one that does not follow the old rules, and a new style of education will take the market by storm. The only thing that seems certain is that the world of higher education will look very different than it does now.

For Harvard and for the high-end universities with which it allegedly competes, that world will look a lot worse than this one.

I feel a little like an aging French nobleman in, say, 1780. Life is good. One day soon, it won't be. But who cares? I've got mine.
I'm going to give Stuntz a second read tonight. I'll post again tomorrow on his article.

Meanwhile I hope you give it a look. (Registration is required but it's simple and free.)

Change at the UN? Will it be cosmetic only?

Just about everyone now knows the U.N. Human Rights Commission is a comfy place for dictators and Islamists to spout anti-Americanism while pulling in big bucks through corrupt "programs." So what to do about it?

The U.N. is thinking cosmetics. It's proposing a name change for the commission. That sounds just like the U. N.

Austin Bey writes:

What's in a name change?

At the United Nations, the answer is "not much" -- unless substantial structural and organizational change occurs.

Shakespeare said a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

For years, the rancid smell of hypocrisy and shame marked the sorry trail of the U.N. Human Rights Commission, as human rights violators like Sudan, Zimbabwe, Cuba and Libya used the commission as a propaganda forum.

Their big target was the United States. Old-line Stalinists and al-Qaida Theo-fascists applauded, but ultimately the spectacle of Sudan and Libya lecturing the United States and other democracies on human rights discredited the commission. Under the cover of anti-U.S. propaganda, the rogues used the commission to avoid criticism, investigation and sanction for their truly heinous rights violations.

Sudan's genocidal warfare in Darfur (which began in early 2003) sent a message even the politically correct "internationalista" crowd couldn't dismiss as "right-wing American assaults" on the United Nations....
So we get the name change proposal. But that's nothing more than a new paint job on a rotting house.

America's U. N. Ambassador John Bolton is saying substantial change is needed. Beys says:
In Bolton's view, "the opponents of reform have watered down" reform proposals and "we are now at a point where we have to decide if we are going to make significant reform or not." Reformers, Bolton said, "won't get another chance in the next two years to make the body 50 to 75 percent better."

According to Bolton, many countries "are very happy with the way decisions are currently being made. ... They don't want to be subjected to human rights scrutiny when appropriate." Bolton described a political game of lip service. Discussing rights abuses "in the abstract" is fine, just don't discuss and investigate verifiable real-world abuses.

"The HRC is the place where we can talk about human rights violations," he said. And in Bolton's view, the United States isn't exempt. " It's uncomfortable -- we face allegations ourselves. (But) if you want an effective human rights commission, you have to be able to conduct that kind of discussion (thoroughly and openly)."

Bolton wants significant change, not cosmetic swipes. An effective, responsive Human Rights Commission would be a major step toward genuine U.N. reform.
The people who should be standing shoulder to shoulder with Bolton are the liberals and leftists in America who still tell us the U. N. is "our best hope."

But does anyone think most of America's liberals and leftists will demand the commission substantially change or that the U. S. withdraw its support if the commission doesn't?

Here's Bey's column.

Open post: Mudville Gazette

Expert in Baghdad: Iraq NOT on brink of civil war.

Is Iraq on the brink of civil war as so much of MSM is claiming?

I don’t know but here’s what military expert Ralph Peters, who’s in Baghdad right now says (excerpts):

The reporting out of Baghdad continues to be hysterical and dishonest. There is no civil war in the streets. None. Period.

Terrorism, yes. Civil war, no. Clear enough?

Yesterday, I crisscrossed Baghdad, visiting communities on both banks of the Tigris and logging at least 25 miles on the streets. With the weekend curfew lifted, I saw traffic jams, booming business — and everyday life in abundance.

Yes, there were bombings yesterday. The terrorists won't give up on their dream of sectional strife, and know they can count on allies in the media as long as they keep the images of carnage coming. They'll keep on bombing. But Baghdad isn't London during the Blitz, and certainly not New York on 9/11.

It's more like a city suffering a minor, but deadly epidemic. As in an epidemic, no one knows who will be stricken. Rich or poor, soldier or civilian, Iraqi or foreigner. But life goes on. No one's fleeing the Black Death — or the plague of terror.

And the people here have been impressed that their government reacted effectively to last week's strife, that their soldiers and police brought order to the streets. The transition is working.
You are being lied to. By elements in the media determined that Iraq must fail. Just give 'em the Bronx cheer.
You can read Peters entire piece here.

What do you think?

Hat tip: Mike Williams

Where's the ACLU?

Abu Ghraib photos.

All those times we read that the American Civil Liberties Union was going to court to demand the release of still more of the prison photos.

It was so important that we see them all. That every newspaper and network be able to carry them.

And the Danish cartoons.

I haven't heard anything from the ACLU. Have you?

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Churchill Series - Feb. 28, 2006

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

If Churchill ever listed the three most important places in his life I feel sure they were the House of Commons, 10 Downing Street and Chartwell, the large house in Kent and its surrounding farms which he purchased in the 1920s.

In 1990, one of Churchill’s granddaughters, Lady Emma Soames, than age forty, spent a day visiting Chartwell, now maintained by The National Trust. She then recorded some recollections. Here’s a few of them:

When we lived there it was a Noah’s Ark of chickens, pigs, ponies and cattle, agreeably interspersed with barns of hay and towers of straw, a gloomy apple shed and a deliciously filthy pigsty, where my grandfather spent hours leaning over the metal gate scratching the pigs’ backs with his walking sticks. "Dogs look up to you, cats look down on you, but pigs treat you as an equal," he used to say.

Meals were fun. The conversation went largely over our heads, but the food was always delicious and exquisitely spoiling to a child.

(Afterwards) Toby the budgerigar would be released on to the table where he would remove all the tiny silver trowels from the salt urns before attacking Grandpapa’s cigar.

At this point the youngest grandchild would be dandled on Grandpapa’s knee while he and my mother smoked large Havanas and indulged in a competition as to who could grow the longest tail of ash. He was not amused if he didn’t win.

The house was bequeathed to the National Trust by a group of Churchill’s friends, who showed the imagination and generosity to buy it from my grandfather after the Second World War and give it to the National Trust on condition he could live in it until his death. As he said before the war: "With my happy family around me. I dwelt at peace within my habitation."
Emma Soames, "Chartwell Childhood," Finest Hour (No.71) Soames article can be viewed here.

Raleigh News & Observer bias watch - 2/28/06

Yesterday, there were two important economic news stories on the wires and in The N&O newsroom.

US economy set to roar back


Record set by number of unsold new homes

Now bearing in mind that the President usually gets credit or blame for how the economy's doing, did The N&O:

a) publish both stories

b) publish only one story

c) publish neither story

The answer is b.

And if your familiar with The N&O, your already saying to yourself, "Sure, and it was the poor housing story."

You're right.

And I'll bet you also know The N&O tells readers its news columns are free of political bias.

Will Myrick's letter help her?

They say Charlotte Congresswomen Sue Myrick is thinking about a run for Governor.

Politicians running for office always need publicity which may help explain why Myrick, a Republican, wrote this one-sentence letter to President Bush

In regards to selling American ports to the United Arab Emirates," she wrote, "not just NO, but HELL NO!
As we all know, Myrick got the one fact in her letter wrong. No ports are being sold.

But she's received nationwide attention and Charlotte Observer pundit Tim Funk notes that "in post-9-11 America, Myrick's angry, Trumanesque letter hit a national nerve."

A couple of comments on Funk's remark:

Truman wrote many people rude, even nasty letters but he was always respectful when writing any President of the United States, even Eisenhower with whom he had many sharp disagreements.

And being Trumanesque didn’t always work for Truman, who ended his presidency with the one of the lowest approval ratings of any modern president.

As time passes, it will be interesting to gauge the effect Myrick's letter has on her career.

I think the letter will be a negative for Myrick if she seeks higher office.

Hat tip: David Boyd

UAE port service deal update

A few days ago I said I was stepping back on the UAE port service deal because I needed to listen and learn a lot more about it.

John Hinderaker at Powerline is one of the people I've been listening to. Here's some of what he said yesterday:

I reserved judgment on the UAE port controversy for quite a while, but it seems increasingly clear that this is one more in a long series of news stories where decibel level far exceeds substance.

Much criticism of the "deal"--there actually isn't a deal, a company headquartered in the United Arab Emirates bought a British company that had contracts to administer facilities at six ports--consists of general criticisms of the UAE, as though companies headquartered in that country can only do business in America if the Emirates' record on terror-related issues is spotless.

That strikes me as a complete non sequitur. More confirmed terrorists have come from Great Britain than the Emirates, but no one raised any objection to British control over port terminals.

And no one seems to care that the National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia already controls terminals at nine American ports. Or that China operates both ends of the Panama Canal.
I didn't know the Saudis served some of our terminals.

Later in his post, Hinderaker links to a Gateway Pundit post that’s worth a read. It's where I learned that China services both ends of the Panama Canal.

I’m far from certain where I’ll come out on the port question.

I’ll continue reading and listening to smart pundits and bloggers with a good track record, and politicians I think have a lot of integrity. And I’ll read some editorial pages.

The pundits include Glenn Reynolds, Michelle Malkin, Charles Krauthammer, and Michael Barone.

Politicians – Joe Lieberman and if you give me time I’ll think of a few more.

Editorial pages – The Wall Street Journal , Washington Post and Washington Times will top the list.

Opinion journals - The Economist, National Review, The New Republic, Weekly Standard

I’ll also be watching Hillary Clinton but that’s just to see how she thinks she can play the ports deal for political advantage.

The NY Times' surrender and how it can recover

The New York Times, journal of record, hasn't published even one Danish cartoon; and it doesn't acknowledge that's a sign it’s been silenced by fear of Islamist rage.

But at the same time, the Times is telling Muslim moderates they should speak up and act more strongly against the Islamists (Silenced by Islamist Rage, Feb. 25).

Here's a bit of the Times' gratuitous opining, after which I offer the Times some advice:

It is not the West that is most threatened in this crisis. The voices of moderation in the Muslim world are the ones that are being intimidated and silenced.

Those few journalists and leaders who have spoken out against the rioting have been vilified and assailed, and even jailed.

In most of these cases, the legal action represents attempts by cowed authorities to appease the Islamists.
It is time for moderate Muslims to abandon the illusion that they can placate the Islamists by straddling the fence.
They must do so because their future is at stake — not Denmark's.
Their future is at stake; not Denmark's? And not ours?

The Times recently joined almost all other Americans news organizations in a quick and base surrender in the face of Islamist rage. It surely knows democracy can't long survive without an informed, fair and free press.

So how is it the Times can publish an editorial that's so out of touch with reality?

Instead of telling Muslim moderates to be braver, why aren’t the Times and other news organizations acting in support of moderate Muslims and in defense of a free press? One way to do that would be for news organizations to select a day on which they'll all show at least some of the cartoons.

If news organization have such a day, I'm sure thousands of bloggers will also publish or link to the cartoons, even if doing so will be a repeat of what many of them have already done.

But if news organizations that repeatedly printed Abu Ghraib photos and defended Piss Christ as art won't do that, can they seriously claim not to have surrendered to Islamist rage?

Meanwhile, the Times should take its editorial advice to moderate Muslims and put it somewhere out of sight. It doesn’t look good to be telling other people to be brave while you’re practicing appeasement.

Michelle Malkin has more on the Times editorial, including a letter to the editor.

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Churchill Series - Feb. 27, 2006

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

Churchill loved baths. Once, he even arranged for a train to stop in the middle of a desert while he got off and took one in a tub set beside the tracks.

Here's how that happened.

In March, 1921, Churchill, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, traveled to the Middle East.

After days of meetings in Cairo, he and his party boarded an overnight train for Jerusalem.

Early the next morning, with the train moving through the desert, Churchill summoned his bodyguard, Inspector Thompson. He wanted Thompson to arrange for his bath.

Thompson, who would become Churchill's longest serving bodyguard, had only recently been assigned to him. He wanted to oblige Churchill but didn't see how he could. He said "everybody on this hot, grubby journey wants a bath (but there is) no bathroom on the train (and) no bath for miles."

Churchill insisted there was at least a tub on board somewhere; and asked Thompson to locate it, which he finally did in the baggage car.

"(It was) a tall-backed, old-fashioned, tin-plate affair," Thompson later said. "The kind used in front of bedroom fireplaces before a bathroom became standard home equipment."

When Thompson told Churchill of his find, he added that there was no hot water on board. So how could Churchill have his bath?

"You're slipping, Thompson," Churchill said. "When you first came to me I thought you were a man of intelligence. Now I doubt it."

With that, he told Thompson to have the engineer stop the train. They would draw hot water from the engine.

Now, let's give the final words to Thompson:

Winston got out of bed. He put on a brightly coloured dressing gown, seized a towel, and led the way along the tracks to the front, where the steaming bathtub lay on the dusty desert.

He smiled up at the engine crew, stripped naked, and fitted himself into the bath.

As Archimedes predicted, most of the water spilled over and was swallowed up by the parched earth.

But (Churchill) got a bath of sorts, dried himself, waved to the crew and sauntered, pink and clean, back to his compartment.
Tom Hickman, Churchill's Bodyguard. (pgs. 15-16)

Congresswomen Sue "HELL NO"Myrick update

If you missed my first post on Congresswomen Myrick, you can read it here before reading this update.

I sent the email to Myrick and this morning left another VM with her press secretary, Andy Polk.

I’ve heard nothing back.

Believe it or not, Myrick's letter with its "selling American ports" error is still up uncorrected at her Internet site.

Something I didn't say in Saturday's post: Myrick's letter is right beside a nice photo of her and President Bush side-by-side and smiling at the camera.

I'm sending an email to Raleigh N&O exec editor for news Melanie Sill asking whether or not The N&O knew when it ran a photo copy of Myrick's letter on page one that it contained the "selling" error. The N&O made no mention of the error

If you read The N&O, you know the question’s not impertinent.

The paper has run a number of false stories lately, including a front-pager reporting a group of state employees had been "caught cheating." The N&O was forced to print a correction two days later.

Hillary Clinton reacts to Rove

Just hours after we learned Presidential Assistant Karl Rove said Sen. Hillary Clinton has a certain "brittleness about her," the AP reports Clinton's response:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that President Bush's chief political strategist Karl Rove "spends a lot of time obsessing about me."
"He spends more time thinking about my political future than I do," Clinton said."...
Clinton sounds like she's planning to skip Larry King and go straight on to Oprah.

Weekly Standard: "Harvard Lays an Egg"

The Mar. 6 Weekly Standard has an article, Harvard Lays an Egg, that’s a must read for all of us seeking to understand Harvard today and how and why President Summers was brought down.

Writer James Piereson provides information and analysis you’re not likely to find in the NY Times or Newsweek. Example:

Summers's major sin in the eyes of the liberal and left-wing faculty was his insensitivity to the diversity regime that has taken over at Harvard and just about every other major institution in the country.

This regime is propped up by mythical presumptions, the major one being that the United States has been guilty of oppressing or otherwise holding back various groups, especially blacks, women, homosexuals, American Indians, people of Hispanic origin, and others who make up perhaps 75 percent of our population.

These groups, so the argument goes, are owed special consideration on the campus by virtue of their victimization, which means in practice that no one is allowed to question their oppressed status, their claims to special consideration, or their privilege to complain about any institutional practice that they find inconvenient.
Piereson says the diversity ideologues goal of getting rid of Summers ultimately became the goal of the majority of the Harvard Corporation, who themselves embrace the diversity ideology:
There are some, both on and off the campus, who will now look to the Harvard Corporation as a source of level-headed guidance for the institution. The Corporation, established by the original charter of the college, is a seven-member governing board consisting of five self-appointed "fellows" plus the president and treasurer of the institution.

(T)he Corporation greased the skids for Summers's fall, taking their cues from disgruntled members of the arts and sciences faculty and failing to consult with students or with deans and faculty members in the various professional schools.

One explanation for its unhelpful role in this fiasco is that the Corporation itself seems fully committed to the diversity regime that drove Summers from office. There are two liberal Democrats on the panel, Robert Rubin and Robert Reischauer, president of the Urban Institute in Washington, both of whom are policy wonks in the Summers mold.

There appears to be a "feminist" seat on the board, currently occupied by Nannerl Keohane, formerly president of Wellesley and later of Duke, who replaced Hanna Holborn Gray, retired president of the University of Chicago.

It also appears that there is a "black" seat on the Corporation, which was occupied until late last year by Conrad K. Harper, a New York lawyer, who resigned in protest against statements Summers had made about women and minorities.

He was replaced recently by Patricia King, Georgetown University law professor and wife of the left-wing author Roger Wilkins. King is a feminist activist who in 1991 testified against confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.

More recently (King) was one of the signers of a petition at Georgetown calling on Congress "to repeal the disgraceful Solomon amendment" (which requires universities to permit military recruiters on campus or lose federal funding) and reaffirming the faculty's opposition to military recruiting on campus. King, who takes her post in the spring, seems an unlikely ally for any president in the Summers mold.

The membership of the Corporation, in other words, runs the gamut of political opinion from A to B, from liberal Democrat to left-wing Democrat, and seeks to represent the same groups as are active on the arts and sciences faculty. It stands to reason that they would be willing to force out their president.
I’ll say more about Piereson’s article very soon.

Meanwhile, I hope you give it a look. It’s lengthy (3200 plus words), but organized and filled with information and analysis which, as I said at the outset, you’re not likely to find in the NY Times or Newsweek.

One criticism of Piereson: He mentions a scholar who spoke at Harvard and had
“some fun at the expense of Harvard's students and faculty, all of whom had competed mightily to gain entrance to one of the most selective and prestigious colleges in the world, only to turn around once there to adopt a posture of thoughtless egalitarianism.”
Piereson doesn’t make clear whether it’s the scholar, himself or both of them who believe “Harvard’s students and faculty, all (adopt) a posture of thoughtless egalitarianism.”

Whatever the case, we should acknowledge that not all at Harvard engage in such an adoption.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

AP quotes Pope Center's George Leef: Summers's was "march(ed) to the scaffold"

An Associated Press story offering opinions on the reason(s) for Harvard University President Lawrence Summers' departure quotes Tar Heel higher education policy expert George Leef

Now, some people who may have donated money or sent their children to Harvard may think twice, said George Leef, executive director of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, a North Carolina think tank devoted to what Leef calls "educational traditionalism."

"What Summers was trying to do was restore some of the academic integrity that he could see and many other people could see has been eroding at Harvard," he said. "And for doing so, for saying some things that the faculty regarded as intolerable, he had to march to the scaffold."
In the next few days I'll begin posting on campus issues here in North Carolina. I'll be referring often to George Leef and The Pope Center.

Harvard's problem in fourteen words

Its Faculty of Arts and Sciences is more like Ted Kennedy than John Kennedy.

Harvard’s highest value? Ideology, of course.

Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby says:

Harvard's motto is ''Veritas," Latin for ''truth." But at Harvard, as in much of academia, ideology, not truth, is the highest value.

Nothing exemplifies the moral and intellectual rot of elite academic culture like the sight of Harvard's president falling on his sword for the crime of uttering statements that the vast majority of Americans would regard as straightforward common sense.
Jacoby provides examples of Summers's comments and actions that turned many at Harvard against him, including the remarks that first set the anti-Summers's campaign in motion:
Summers's fall from grace actually began on Oct. 26, 2001, less than four months after his presidency began.

That was the date on which he addressed the annual public service awards banquet at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and had the temerity to speak favorably of American patriotism -- and, even more audaciously, to express admiration for the men and women who serve in the US armed forces.

Patriotism is a word ''used too infrequently" on campuses like Harvard's, Summers said, and too many academics regard those who wear the uniform with ''disaffection."

He stressed ''the importance of clearly expressing our respect and support for the military," and pointedly voiced the ''hope that when you have this award next year, among those who will be recognized will be those who have served our country in uniform."

Summers followed up that message in a Veterans Day letter to Harvard cadets and midshipmen, writing that he ''and many others deeply admire those of you who choose to serve society in this way." And in remarks to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, he described military service as ''vitally important to the freedom that makes possible institutions like Harvard."

In most of America, such views are commonplace. But at Harvard -- where ROTC has been banned for more than 30 years -- more than a few faculty members were bound to find them appalling.

Just how much they rankled is suggested by the fact that on the day Summers resigned, one of his most virulent opponents -- anthropology professor J. Lorand Matory -- told an interviewer that among the things that made the university president so unbearable was his ''telling us we should be more patriotic."
There sure are a lot of loathsome, ungrateful, smug and foolish people at Harvard. And on most other campuses. And in many other places in America.

How do people who seem to have at least Average intellectual ability not realize that the ultimate guarantors of their freedoms are the men and women serving in the U. S. military.

Back to Harvard. As I said yesterday, we need to follow what’s happening there now and in the next few years. The direction Harvard takes will influence most other colleges and universities.

I plan to post for the next fews weeks on what’s happening at Harvard and its future direction. I hope you keep visiting.

Also, in a day or two I plan to start posting on diversity and other issues at North Carolina campuses, with special attention to UNC – Chapel Hill and Duke.

Be sure to read Jacoby’s column.