Friday, August 29, 2008

The Churchill Series - Aug. 29, 2008

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

Readers Note:For those who may have missed yesterday’s post it follows after which, below the star line, today’s post begins.


The following is from an article
Churchill biographer William Manchester wrote for the Churchill Centre’s Finest Hour quarterly. I’ll guess Manchester wrote it at least in part as preparation for the third volume of his Churchill biography which he never finished because of a debilitating stroke and his subsequent death.

I think you’ll find the article extract interesting. It has some information that was new to me. Tomorrow I’ll comment on it and the status of the uncompleted third volume: Defender of the Realm.

Manchester begins - - -

At dawn on Friday, 10 May 1940, Adolf Hitler plunged his bloody fists into the Low Countries and headed for France; at 5:00 PM that same evening, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of Great Britain. The new Prime Minister felt confident of victory then, but the French high command had made a grave miscalculation. Believing that the enemy would be coming through Belgium, as in 1914, the sixty-seven-year-old generalissimo Maurice Gamelin had sent the flower of the French troops and the entire British army the British Expeditionary Force, or B.E.F. into Flanders.

Instead, Nazi tanks struck through Ardennes Forest and crossed the Meuse. When the French defenders panicked, the panzers rolled up the entire Allied line all the way to the sea, trapping the Allies' force.

On the fifth day of the enemy offensive, the extent of the disaster began to emerge. Paul Reynaud, the French Premier, wired Churchill: "The German army has broken through our fortified lines south of Sedan." He then asked for ten more Royal Air Force squadrons "immediately."

The Prime Minister sent four squadrons, then decided it was "imperative to go to Paris." At 3:00 PM on May 16th, he took off in an unarmed Flamingo, a civilian passenger plane, accompanied by Generals Hastings Ismay and Sir John Dill and his bodyguard Walter Thompson, an inspector from Scotland Yard.

Over the French coast Churchill peered down, and Thompson saw his face go grey. He was looking, for the first time, at the war's refugees. There were seven million of them fleeing from the Germans, swarming down the highways, shuffling, exhausted, aching from the strain of heavy loads on their backs. Barns, sheds, and garages had vomited into roads an extraordinary collection of vehicles: tumbrels, trucks, horse-drawn carts, and ancient automobiles with sagging loads of mattresses, kitchen utensils, family treasures, and bric-a-brac.

Churchill later wrote: "Not having had access to official information for so many years, I did not comprehend the revolution effected since the last war by the incursion of a mass of fast-moving heavy armour." This German drive would not have to pause for supplies. As Charles de Gaulle had foreseen, the panzers would be filling their tanks at the filling stations of northern France


From’s biography of de Gaulle:

[In] his 1934 book Vers l'armée du métier, de Gaulle argued for a military strategy based on speed and movement. He was tireless in his advocacy of tanks and armoured divisions and attracted the attention of a number of leading Third Republic politicians. In 1937, he was appointed colonel of a tank regiment.

De Gaulle went to general-staff school, where he hurt his career by constant criticism of his superiors. He denounced the static concept of trench warfare and wrote a series of essays calling for a strategy of movement with armored tanks and planes. The French [Army] hierarchy ignored his works, but the Germans read him and adapted his theories to develop their triumphant strategy of blitzkrieg, or lightning war, with which they defeated the French in 1940.
Now about Defender of the Realm.

Paul Reid is working with William (Bill) Manchester’s notes and drafts to complete the book. In early 2007 a friend shared an email he’d received from Reid. Here’s part of it:
I have finished Parts One (1940) and Two (1941) and will be through Parts Three, Four and Five by mid-2007. Publication is set for sometime in 2008. Bill's notes and interviews run to thousands of pages, enough to fuel at least three more volumes.

My job, therefore, is to pace this final volume. About half of it will cover 1940 and 1941, about forty-percent the remainder of the war and about 10-15 percent the post-war years.

Bill saw the post-war years (or at least the last decade) as a long "afterward". Having been guided by Bill the last year of his life, and having in hand the pages he wrote (to the fall of France) I think I have a good feeling for the pace he set and where he was going.

The pages Bill finished are, as was usual with William Manchester, marvelous, full of suspense and foreshadowing, a real tale beautifully told.

Among many things he made clear to me was his desire that this book be an enjoyable read for younger people, people under 40 years of age who did not grow up with stories of the War percolating through their household.
Another friend who lives near Reid in Western North Carolina tells me Reid has not yet submitted a final draft to the publisher. After submission, it will be at least a year before publication of a book such as Defender which will require extensive proofing, fact-checking, indexing, copyright clearances, etc.

It looks like we all have at least a few years more to wait for the third volume.

I hope you all have a relaxing Labor Day weekend.


This made me smile

A friend commented offline - - -

If you live long enough, you'll see everything.

The only candidate on either party's ticket who's belonged to a labor union is the Republican V-P candidate.

The only candidate running for office whose family has actually lived a middle class lifestyle for most of its life is the Republican V-P candidate's family.

Oh, and we have a pro-American French President.

Gotta run, the sky is falling.

What about Palin?

First, a "thank you" to those on- and offline who gave me heads-ups Sen. McCain's choice was Gov. Palin.

A commenter asks:

Since you were hoping for Romney, I'm very curious to know what you think about Palin?
I was planning to vote for McCain before he picked Palin.

I’m still planning to vote for him. Or them, as the case is now.

I know a fair amount about Mitt Romney and much less about Palin.

So I’ll do some studying of her policy positions and leadership acts before commenting further about Palin in regard to them.

Of course, while its important to know about her stands on the issues now and in the past, that information may not tell us much about what she’ll do in the future.

Consider, for example, Sen. Obama who said he was so strongly against FISA he’d lead a filibuster if it came to the Senate floor for a vote.

When FISA got to the floor, wonder of wonders, Obama voted for it.

On the other hand, when politician take principled stands on issues, that can tell us a lot, especially when their stands are unpopular.

If that puts you in mind of Churchill’s opposition to Nazism in the 30s; and Reagan’s and Thatcher’s unapologetic opposition to the Soviet Union, something for which most of the press and “thinkers” in their countries and the rest of the West derided them, you got what I’m talking about.

Do you have anything to say about Palin’s stands on public issues?

I’ll say a few things tomorrow about how she strikes me as a person.

The short of it: It was sooo easy to spot John Edwards, the "millworker's son" and "poverty fighter," as a phony.

If his $400 haircut didn't give him away, his 30,000 sq. ft. house surely did.

Now, Palin.?

She said she was "a hockey Mom."

And by glory, there was her husband and four of her five children right beside her and the fifth training with the Army and getting ready to deploy to Iraq.

She seemed so proud and loving of them all - just like you'd expect a hockey Mom or a Lax Mom or a Duke Mom or any other caring Mom to be.

I got so pulled in to what seems to be Palin's genuineness that I never thought of Edwards' haircuts or house until I was working on this post.

NY Times: It's not Romney. Then who?

The NYT reporting just minutes ago:

…Also this morning, The Times’s Michael Luo reports that Mitt Romney, who had long been perceived as on one of the final candidates for the slot, has been ruled out. A source close to him said he is not going to be in Dayton today.

So who does that leave?

The Times’s Elisabeth Bumiller sends the following:

Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska? As reports circulated on television and cable networks on Friday morning that Senator John McCain might have selected Ms. Palin as his running mate, McCain advisers expressed bewilderment.

One adviser said that while Mr. McCain thinks highly of Ms. Palin, who is opposed to abortion rights and would be welcomed by Christian conservatives, her less than two years in office would undercut one of the McCain campaign’s central criticisms of Senator Barack Obama — that he is too inexperienced to be commander-in-chief.

“While it’s a dramatic and interesting choice, it would make the argument he’s making difficult to make,” said one McCain adviser.

Much of the campaign apparatus remained in the dark about Mr. McCain’s choice as of 9 a.m. Friday. Briefing calls that had been scheduled to go out to a top group of outsider advisers were delayed Thursday night, and then delayed again Friday morning.
There are reports Gov. Palin will not be in Dayton this morning.

And neither will I.

So who will it be?

Politico: It’s not Pawlenty

Headline@ 8:40 AM ET: BREAKING: Pawlenty won't be in Dayton today, says "was honored to be considered"

Gov. Tim Pawlenty said this morning that he will he not be in Dayton, Ohio, today and strongly suggested that he won't be John McCain's running mate.

"I'm going to be at the [Minnesota] state fair," Pawlenty said on WCCO just minutes ago. ...
The rest of the brief post’s here.

My fingers are crossed Sen. McCain will pick Mitt Romney.

MSMers react to Obama’s speech

From The Hill’s Blog - - -

Several members of the media were seen cheering and clapping for Barack Obama as the Illinois senator accepted the Democratic nomination Thursday.

Standing on the periphery of the football field serving as the Democratic convention floor, dozens of men and women wearing green media floor passes chanted along with the crowd. …

The rest of The Hill’s post’s here.


Well, yes, of course MSMers would cheer Obama.

But will they get out and vote for him more than once?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Churchill Series - Aug. 28, 2008

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

The following is from an article
Churchill biographer William Manchester wrote for the Churchill Centre’s Finest Hour quarterly. I’ll guess Manchester wrote it at least in part as preparation for the third volume of his Churchill biography which he never finished because of a debilitating stroke and his subsequent death.

I think you’ll find the article extract interesting. It has some information that was new to me. Tomorrow I’ll comment on it and the status of the uncompleted third volume: Defender of the Realm.

Manchester begins - - -

At dawn on Friday, 10 May 1940, Adolf Hitler plunged his bloody fists into the Low Countries and headed for France; at 5:00 PM that same evening, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of Great Britain. The new Prime Minister felt confident of victory then, but the French high command had made a grave miscalculation. Believing that the enemy would be coming through Belgium, as in 1914, the sixty-seven-year-old generalissimo Maurice Gamelin had sent the flower of the French troops and the entire British army the British Expeditionary Force, or B.E.F. into Flanders.

Instead, Nazi tanks struck through Ardennes Forest and crossed the Meuse. When the French defenders panicked, the panzers rolled up the entire Allied line all the way to the sea, trapping the Allies' force.

On the fifth day of the enemy offensive, the extent of the disaster began to emerge. Paul Reynaud, the French Premier, wired Churchill: "The German army has broken through our fortified lines south of Sedan." He then asked for ten more Royal Air Force squadrons "immediately."

The Prime Minister sent four squadrons, then decided it was "imperative to go to Paris." At 3:00 PM on May 16th, he took off in an unarmed Flamingo, a civilian passenger plane, accompanied by Generals Hastings Ismay and Sir John Dill and his bodyguard Walter Thompson, an inspector from Scotland Yard.

Over the French coast Churchill peered down, and Thompson saw his face go grey. He was looking, for the first time, at the war's refugees. There were seven million of them fleeing from the Germans, swarming down the highways, shuffling, exhausted, aching from the strain of heavy loads on their backs. Barns, sheds, and garages had vomited into roads an extraordinary collection of vehicles: tumbrels, trucks, horse-drawn carts, and ancient automobiles with sagging loads of mattresses, kitchen utensils, family treasures, and bric-a-brac.

Churchill later wrote: "Not having had access to official information for so many years, I did not comprehend the revolution effected since the last war by the incursion of a mass of fast-moving heavy armour." This German drive would not have to pause for supplies. As Charles de Gaulle had foreseen, the panzers would be filling their tanks at the filling stations of northern France.

Obama’s Bill Clinton omission

From the NY Times’ text of Sen. Obama’s acceptance speech and just as I recall Obama delivering it:

If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice – but it is not the change we need.

We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. (emphasis added)

So don't tell me that Democrats won't defend this country. Don't tell me that Democrats won't keep us safe.
You know Bill Clinton didn’t miss Obama's omission.

Why, Barack, why?

I thought it was all about unity.

The NYT's entire speech text's here.

"I'll invest $156 billion in the next 10 years in"

renewable energy.

Who knew Sen. Obama had that kind of money?

But with all that money, why hasn't he already done something about our foreign energy dependence?

And why hasn't Obama used some of his money to make Chicago's public schools better than they are?

It's not enough that he says "improving Chicago's schools" was what he and his terrorist friend Bill Ayers were doing with all that Annenberg money?

The Unsurprising Jimmy Carter & Yasser Arafat

Beneath the headline Carter: McCain 'milking' POW time,” - USA Today reports:

Former president Jimmy Carter called Republican presidential candidate John McCain a "distinguished Naval officer," but said the Arizona senator has been "milking every possible drop of advantage" from his time served as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

Carter spoke Thursday with USA TODAY ahead of Barack Obama's acceptance speech to cap off the Democratic National Convention.. …

The rest of the story’s here.


There’s nothing selfish, smug, or downright mean spirited former President Jimmy Carter does that's surprising.

His "milking every possible drop of advantage" cheap-shot, bad as it is, is nothing near as revolting as was his wrath-laying tribute to Yesser Arafat this past April.

From an April 20 JinC post: Carter pays respects to a Monster.

Almost all of America’s MSM has ignored former President Jimmy Carter’s tribute to “the father of terrorism,” Yasser Arafat.

From Cybercast News Service:

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter laid a wreath of red roses at the grave of Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat during a visit to the West Bank City of Ramallah on Tuesday.

"He and Mrs. Carter and his son Jeff wanted to pay their respects to President Arafat," Carter's trip director Rick Jasculca told Cybercast News Service. …

The entire CNS story’s here.

Now this from the Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby’s Nov. 11, 2004 column:

Yasser Arafat died at age 75, lying in bed surrounded by familiar faces. He left this world peacefully, unlike the thousands of victims he sent to early graves.

In a better world, the PLO chief would have met his end on a gallows, hanged for mass murder much as the Nazi chiefs were hanged at Nuremberg.

In a better world, the French president would not have paid a visit to the bedside of such a monster.

In a better world, George Bush would not have said, on hearing the first reports that Arafat had died, "God bless his soul."

God bless his soul? What a grotesque idea!

Bless the soul of the man who brought modern terrorism to the world? Who sent his agents to slaughter athletes at the Olympics, blow airliners out of the sky, bomb schools and pizzerias, machine-gun passengers in airline terminals? Who lied, cheated, and stole without compunction? Who inculcated the vilest culture of Jew-hatred since the Third Reich?

Human beings might stoop to bless a creature so evil -- as indeed Arafat was blessed, with money, deference, even a Nobel Prize -- but God, I am quite sure, will damn him for eternity. …

Jacoby’s entire column’s here.

A person with reasonable judgment and a bit of moral fiber wouldn’t lay a wreath at Afafat’s tomb.

But Jimmy Carter did.

And now he criticizes McCain.

Dems latest worry: Obama’s airs

From - - -

Senior Democratic officials are expressing serious concerns about the political risks posed by Barack Obama’s acceptance speech at Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium Thursday evening.

From the elaborate stagecraft to the teeming crowd of 80,000 cheering partisans, the vagaries of the weather to the unpredictable audience reaction, the optics surrounding the stadium event have heightened worries that the Obama campaign is engaging in a high-risk endeavor in an uncontrollable environment.

A common concern: that the stadium appearance plays against Obama’s convention goal of lowering his star wattage and connecting with average Americans and that it gives Republicans a chance to drive home their message that the Democratic nominee is a narcissistic celebrity candidate.

“We already know he is a rock star, we already know he can bring 85,000 people together in a stadium. He has done it multiple times. He needs to talk to people who haven’t made up their minds yet,” said Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen. . . .

The rest of the article’s here.

A “typical politician” whom the gods would destroy they first make narcissistic.


Yesterday I posted London Times sees weakened Mugabe.

A Times of London editorial described growing opposition in Zimbabwe’s Parliament to that country’s President in title and brutal dictator in fact, Robert Mugabe.

I expressed the hope Zimbabwe and the world would soon be rid of Mugabe as the Times seemed to be suggesting might be about to happen.

But I cautioned we’d heard “Mugabe’s on the skids” reports before only to later learn he’d strengthened his grip on power.

Today I want to share with you two reports.

The first report [excerpts with link to entire] is from today’s Zimbabwe Times, a newspaper whose writings suggest that while subject to Mugabe’s thugs brutality, the paper retains enough independence to be critical of him and his dictatorship.

The second is from a JinC Regular, Danvers, a native Zimbabwean who now lives in South Africa.

First, from the Aug. 28 Zimbabwe Times - - -

Student organisations in Zimbabwe on Wednesday took a swipe at President Robert Mugabe for officially opening the 7th Parliament in clear breach of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) he signed with his counterparts in the opposition.

Among other things, the organisations said they would lead campaigns of civic disobedience and petition regional and international leaders to discredit Mugabe and the government he would appoint.

On July 21, Mugabe, [ the head of the opposition,] MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, of a splinter faction of the opposition, signed a Memorandum of Understanding which set the platform for inter-party dialogue under the mediation of South African President Thabo Mbeki.

One of the requirements of the MoU was that Parliament would only be convened after the talks had been concluded.

Part of the MoU read: “The parties shall not, during the subsistence of the dialogue, take any decisions or measures that have a bearing on the agenda of the dialogue, save by consensus. Such decisions or measures include, but are not limited to the convening of Parliament or the formation of a new government.”

But in clear breach of the section, Mugabe officially opened the seventh Parliament on Tuesday, amid heckling and jeering by MDC legislators.

Mugabe has since announced he would appoint his Cabinet without Tsvangirai’s MDC.

And on Wednesday, representatives of youth organizations meeting in Harare said Mugabe’s moves would be challenged.

“We discussed many issues to do with the current political developments, trying to find alternative ways forward and try to provide leadership to the country,” said Clever Bere, president of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU), one of the organisations at the meeting.

Among other things, said Bere, the youths resolved, “the young people recognise that Robert Mugabe is not the legitimate president of Zimbabwe.

“Indeed it was not within his mandate for Mugabe to officially open parliament until and unless there was a political settlement, political agreement and political consensus with the other parties, particularly the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) which won the elections on March 29,” said Bere. . . .

The entire Zimbabwe Times report is here.

Now, JinC Regular Danvers' analysis - - -

As hopeful as some recent events in Zimbawe may seem, there is still a long way to go. To partially quote Winston Churchill: "it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

The main opposition leader, MDC’s (Movement for Democratic Change) Morgan Tsvangirai has come out of this phase of the struggle with a major tactical victory. He now has an MDC member as both Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Parliament. Moreover he has literally destroyed Arthur Mutambara; the leader of the break-away MDC faction.

When Tsvangirai refused to capitulate and sign the proposed power-sharing agreement at the SADC conference in Johannesburg, Mutambara, despite protestations to the contrary, was looking to form a coalition with Zanu-PF in Parliament and was expecting to be made one of the vice presidents in the new government.

The quid pro quo was that Mugabe would allow a Mutambara MP to be voted in as Speaker.

The published parliamentary election results (whether one believes them or not) gave Mugabe 99 seats, Tsvangirai 100 seats, with Mutambara (10 seats) and an Independent holding the balance of power.

The outcome of the secret ballot for the election of the Speaker was very instructive!

The total votes received by Tsvangirai’s nominee meant that all Mutambara’s MP’s and 3 Zanu-PF MP’s voted for Tsavangirai. What the above will mean for Mutambara’s political future is anyone’s guess. What it means for Tsvangirai is that he effectively has control of the former's additional 9 MPs. This giving him a de facto absolute majority in Parliament.

Zanu-PF however, controls the senate; their majority being enhanced by Mugabe’s appointed (not elected) members, and tribal chiefs. Mugabe has already appointed Zanu-PF members as Provincial Governors, and obviously still controls the armed forces.

The upside for Tsvangirai is that he controls the economic future of the country; international donors will not move to stabilize and further support Zimbabwe’s economy without Tsvangirai in the Government.

Moreover Mugabe knows that without an agreement with Tsvangirai, he is vulnerable to being charged with genocide and other war crimes for the Gukurahundi massacre of the early 1980’s, when Mugabe’s 5th brigade massacred approximately 20 000 N’debele in Matabeleland.

Realistically, and according to many in the know, Mugabe’s biggest fear is ending up like Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia, now on trial at The Hague for war crimes.

My assessment is that as a result of all the above, Tsvangirai is now in a more powerful position that he has ever been, the result of the first round Presidential ballot notwithstanding.

Perhaps indeed "this is the beginning of the end" for Robert Gabriel Mugabe.

The Churchill Series – Aug. 28, 2008

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

Shortly after the outbreak of WW II Churchill’s only son, Randolph, an officer in his father’s old regiment, the 4th Hussars, married a young woman of a good family, Pamala Digby.

Neither set of parents were keen for the marriage which they felt was being entered into impetuously as so many wartime marriages were. As they used to say “the marriage was soon troubled” and ended in divorce shortly after the war’s end.

Randolph and Pamela had one child, a boy born in October, 1940, and named for his paternal grandfather Winston Spencer Churchill.

Both sets of grandparents were concerned for the effect his parents’ divorce would have on the child. There was also the matter that right after the war both parents were traveling a great deal.

In those circumstances, the two sets of grandparents, who always cooperated in young Winston’s interests, each arranged for him to spend most of his time either at the Digby’s diary farm in Dorset or the Churchill’s farms and gardens at Chartwell.

What follows are Winston S. Churchill adult recollection of what it was like for a boy almost 6 to go from the dairy farm of one set of loving grandparents to the Chartwell estate of his other set of loving grandparents:

Delighted to have a grandfather who was a milkman, I now discovered I had another who was a bricklayer.

Grandpapa Churchill would regularly spend a couple of hours most afternoons when he was at Chartwell, building a wall around his vast kitchen garden where Mr. Vincent, the gardener, grew a wonderful variety of flowers, fruit and vegetables.

Grandpapa would don his overalls and, if it wasn’t too windy, his broad-brimmed ‘Ten Gallon’ hat. He would then mix up his ‘pug,’ as he called his mixture of sand and cement to which he added some water.

He wielded his builder’s trowel with dexterity, placing a layer of “pug’ on the top course of bricks, to make a bed for the new bricks which I would hand to him. He would bang them into place with the handle of his trowel, scraping off any surplus ‘pug,’ which would be saved for the next course.

From time to time he would get out his plumb line to check that he was building true.

I thoroughly enjoyed being his “Brickie’s mate” and , ultimately became quite proficient at it myself , especially when Grandpapa gave me as a Christmas present a miniature building set, complete with tiny bricks and real ‘pug’ which I could mix up myself to build small houses.

Winston S. Churchill, Memories and Adventures. (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1989) (pgs. 54-55)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Obama’s case against Obama

Some weeks back I asked why most of people hurting Sen. Barack Obama were either part of Team Obama ( think who said “a downright mean country” and the Team’s wanting the Brandenburg Gate for a campaign stop prop) or long-time associates and mentors such as convicted felon Tony Rezko and the raving racist, anti-American Rev. Jeremiah Wright?

Now Townhall columnist and Wizbang blogger Lorie Byrd moves the ball further down the field:

It would be hard to make a better case against a Barack Obama presidency than the one Obama has made in his own words.

The most memorable thing about Obama's speeches is not generally what he says, but rather how large and enthusiastic the audiences are. If voters pay attention only to the symbolism and get caught up in the excitement of the Obamessiah and his throngs of fainting disciples, he stands a good chance of winning in November.

If voters pay attention instead to the things Obama is saying, the case against an Obama presidency will be clear. …
Citing Michelle Malkin, Lorie continues:
Last May, he claimed that Kansas tornadoes killed a whopping 10,000 people: "In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died -- an entire town destroyed."

The actual death toll: 12. …

Last March, on the anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama, he claimed his parents united as a direct result of the civil rights movement: "There was something stirring across the country because of what happened in Selma, Alabama, because some folks are willing to march across a bridge. So they got together and Barack Obama Jr. was born."

Obama was born in 1961.

The Selma march took place in 1965.

Some of Obama's gaffes go beyond simple slips of the tongue and confusion over numbers though and display a lack of knowledge on important issues as was the case when he commented on the war in Afghanistan and the lack of translators: "We only have a certain number of them and if they are all in Iraq, then it's harder for us to use them in Afghanistan."

As Malkin pointed out, the real reason it's "harder for us to use them" in Afghanistan is because Iraqis speak Arabic or Kurdish, while Afghanis speak Pashto, Farsi, or other non-Arabic languages.

Worse than the lack of knowledge of the languages spoken in other nations is that he lacks an understanding of the threat posed by some of them. Or maybe he doesn't. It is really a bit confusing.

In Portland, Oregon, Obama said of Iran, "They don't pose a serious threat to us." The following day in Billings, Montana he said: "I've made it clear for years that the threat from Iran is grave."

Maybe it depends what the definitions of "grave" and "serious" are. As I said, it is all bit confusing. Maybe that is why so many focus on the crowds at Obama's events, rather than to what Obama is actually saying to them.

If voters are paying attention to what Barack Obama says they will see not only a lack of knowledge of important issues, but on some of the issues where he is informed, an attempt to hide his true position and past votes. …
Lorie goes on to shire the lights on Obama’s past votes. You can read it all here.

And be sure to check in at Wizbang. It’s a great blog.

London Times sees weakened Mugabe

The Times of London’s editorial today – “Mugabe mauled” – contains some very good news.

The Times begins - - -

For millions of Zimbabweans, that angry look was enough to send an exhilarating message of hope. Robert Mugabe had been thwarted for the first time in years. He had insisted on opening Parliament with traditional pomp and his familiar denunciations of the West, despite a promise that he would not do so unless a power-sharing agreement was reached with Morgan Tsvangirai.

Yesterday his hubris was answered - with jeers, catcalls and slogans denouncing Zanu (PF) by jubilant MDC members. The 84-year-old President raised his voice, glowered and raced through his final lines. His humiliation was broadcast live on television, plain for all to see.

This may not have been Zimbabwe's Ceaucescu moment. The Romanian dictator similarly was shocked and angry at being jeered as he delivered a speech to the crowd in December 1989; within three days he had been forced out of office and was shot dead.

But it is clear that Mr Mugabe and his security forces have been out-manoeuvred at last. Police tried to ensure that the President's party would still control the legislature, despite the Opposition's victory in the parliamentary election. They seized two MPs and waited outside Parliament to arrest 17 more MDC supporters, to deny Mr Tsvangirai a majority.

But they forgot to bar the back door. Inside, Zanu (PF) leaders also thought that they could count on the votes of a breakaway MDC faction. But they did not realise that a secret ballot would protect all those, including some of their own party, determined to respect the election result.

For the first time in 28 years, Mr Mugabe now has to contend with a hostile Parliament. The Opposition has already spoken of repealing repressive legislation, curbing state abuses and denying money for measures proposed by the President. Mr Mugabe is unlikely to accept this setback.

His instinct, and that of his cronies who see their position threatened, will be to deploy his bullyboys in a brutal new assault on those MPs who have had the temerity to thwart him. He will also attempt to bypass Parliament, ruling by decree and using the special powers that he has awarded to himself.

Nevertheless, the MDC's triumph in capturing control of Parliament is of huge strategic and psychological importance. . . .

The rest of the editorial’s

I’m delighted to learn of anything that weakens Mugabe’s hold on Zimbabwe and its people.

He’s a monster. In a more just world he would long ago have been executed for his crimes, which include the systematic murder of his opponents and the starvation of thousands of Zimbabwe’s innocent people.

I don’t know enough to comment in much detail on what the Times’ editorial reports.

Perhaps the opposition actions and wider protests the Times describes are not as significant as the Times believes. We’ve often read that Mugabe was just about to be overthrown, only to subsequently learn he’d bested his opponents, in some cases even tightening his grip on power.

But anything that speeds the day he’s removed from power is welcome. Let’s hope the Times has it on the money.

I hope some of you can say more.

Commenter on V-P picks and an MSM targeting spree

Last evening I posted My answer to Juan Williams’ question.

The NPR senior correspondent said on Fox News he didn’t understand why the polls weren’t showing “a Joe Biden bounce.”

I offered two explanations: 1) Biden isn’t Hillary Clinton; and 2) Let’s face it, he is Joe Biden and he can't change that.

The post drew an Anon comment presented here in full followed by a few brief comments below the star line.

Anon began - - -

I think that you have hit it on the head John. I was a political pollster/consultant in the 1980s and measured the Ferraro and Quayle VP impacts in 1984 and 1988. Biden is just not someone to move the needle (even if his IQ is higher than mine and he is as eloquent as . . . well, Neil Kinnock).

Some trivia on VP selections . . .

Despite the fact that Reagan crushed Walter Mondale in 1984, there was a brief period that Reagan trailed in the polls. He was down two points in the 48-72 hours after Mondale chose Geraldine Ferraro.

Apparently, the choice was newsworthy and interesting enough that Mondale got a temporary, short-lived bump.

Back to this year, I think that since BHO is supposed to be Mr. Excitement, he needed a more exciting choice to maintain the "Audacity of Hype." Biden ain't it.

More trivia . . .

The press and Democrats jumped on the Dan Quayle selection almost as soon as Bush announced it in 1988. Quayle was portrayed as a lightweight and not ready to be VP.

What many people don't know is that Quayle had 12 years in DC under his belt at that point -- 4 years in the House and 8 in the Senate. He was reelected to his Senate seat in 1986 with what was, at that time, the largest margin of victory in Indiana history (even surpassing the popular Richard Lugar).

The media treated Quayle as a presumptuous joke for running for VP but (to return to the present) they have little problem swallowing the idea that Obama, who started running for President after serving only two years of his first US Senate term, is ready for the much bigger job of President.


First, thank you, Anon commenter.

I think most readers will find all your comment interesting.

The most valuable portions of it for me were the reminder of how MSM immediately began trashing Dan Qualye and the comparison of the treatment he received compared to the treatment MSM is according The One.

Can you imagine how Qualye would have been treated if he and his wife belonged to a church whose minister subscribed to and preached the lie that our government deliberately spread the AIDS virus as a means of holding down America’s black population?

What say the rest of you?

A Joe Biden question and that Neil Kinnock speech

Is it true Biden's asked Neil Kinnock to write his V-P nomination acceptance speech?

Whatever the case, in the Daily Telegraph we read the details of a now legendary plagiarism.

"Joe Biden plagiarised Neil Kinnock speech"

What's in a quote? For Joe Biden, his plagiarisation of a speech delivered by Neil Kinnock, then Labour leader, helped put pay to his own campaign to win the Democrats' presidential nomination more than 20 years ago.

The speech by Mr Kinnock, as he desperately tried to remodel and rebuild the Labour Party, was widely judged to be a dramatic and powerful piece of political rhetoric - making it particularly tempting, but also unusually unwise, for Mr Biden to borrow its most significant passage without attribution to the British politician.

NEIL KINNOCK at Welsh Labour Party conference May 1987:

"Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? Was it because our predecessors were thick? Does anybody really think that they didn't get what we had because they didn't have the talent or the strength or the endurance or the commitment? Of course not. It was because there was no platform upon which they could stand"
JOE BIDEN IN Sept 1987 during his first presidential campaign:
"Why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go a university? Why is it that my wife... is the first in her family to ever go to college? Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright? ...Is it because they didn't work hard? My ancestors who worked in the coal mines of northeast Pennsylvania and would come after 12 hours and play football for four hours? It's because they didn't have a platform on which to stand."
Incidentally, Kinnock was awarded a peerage in 2005 and now sit in the House of Lords.

But when he was a political leader his nickname was "the Welsh windbag."

Does that bring someone else to mind?

All Hail Obama! And advice for McCain

Reuters reports:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's big speech on Thursday night will be delivered from an elaborate columned stage resembling a miniature Greek temple.

The stage, similar to structures used for rock concerts, has been set up at the 50-yard-line, the midpoint of Invesco Field, the stadium where the Denver Broncos' National Football League team plays.

Some 80,000 supporters will see Obama appear from between plywood columns painted off-white, reminiscent of Washington's Capitol building or even the White House, to accept the party's nomination for president.

He will stride out to a raised platform to a podium that can be raised from beneath the floor…
Paraphrasing the ancient Greeks: Politicians whom the gods would destroy, they first make narcissistic.

And this from the Book of JinC: Verily, to help assure a "typical" politician's destruction, the gods send messengers like House Speaker and Church of NOW theologian Nancy Pelosi to proclaim him "a leader that God has blessed us with at this time."

Message to Sen. McCain: We’re told you’re going to make your V-P pick announcement Friday. Don’t lock in to that. Give yourself some flexibility.

We know by announcing on Friday you want to cut in to some of the “rah-rah” which will follow Sen. Obama’s Invesco Field apparition and sermon to the multitudes.

But Obama may overshoot and/or gaffe Thursday night, giving you the same kind of opportunity he gave you after his Berlin “citizen of the world” speech.

You're staff immediately produced ads deftly noting Obama's grating narcissism and a number of "missed opportunities" in the speech.

As a result, the speech was a net loss for him.

You may have a similiar opportunity this Friday. A V-P annoucement the same day would only split the public's attention.

Think about it.

I’ll bet the ancient Greeks knew: Politicians whom the gods would help succeed, they make able to respond quickly to unexpected opportunities their narcissistic opponents provide.

The entire Reuters story's here.

Alaska’s Stevens wins GOP primary

The AP reported a few hours ago:

Even though he's facing federal charges, Ted Stevens remains feisty as ever. The 84-year-old Republican handily won his primary race for Senate and immediately proclaimed the November election a "piece of cake."

That's despite some major hurdles Stevens faces in the next few months.

Stevens has a September trial that will keep him off the campaign trail for weeks, and he's up against his toughest opponent in his 40 years in office: popular Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.

Stevens won the race Tuesday with 63 percent of the vote, beating six other opponents, including his closest competitor Dave Cuddy by more than 35 percentage points.

Begich easily won the Democratic primary over two minor challengers with 91 percent of the vote.
I was hoping Stevens would lose the primary.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Churchill Series – Aug.26, 2008

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

From National Review publisher William Rusher’s Sept. 25, 1994 remarks at the Proceedings of the International Churchill Societies in Banff, Alberta - - -

… [In] December 1944, … Churchill arrived [in Greece by ship] to try to set up a democratic government. The Communists were trying very hard to take over, but Churchill hoped to set up a democracy with backing and prestige that the Western powers could support. The man the British thought might lead it, uniting all the disparate fighting elements was Archbishop Damaskinos. …

Damaskinos, the Greek Orthodox prelate, was duly named premier and Churchill, of course, met him during that visit to Greece. Gerald Pawle, in his book The War and Colonel Warden, recounts an episode which occurred right before their meeting in December 1944.

It is a tradition in the Royal Navy that on Christmas Eve members of the crew dress up and go around the deck japing and joking, and occasionally, at random, tossing a colleague into the sea. They wear very strange costumes.

On this occasion one of them, it is said, was dressed up as a hula dancer, with a grass skirt and brassiere with red and green lights that blinked on and off. Others were similarly attired.

They had been very carefully isolated from the roped-off VIP area around the Captain’s quarters, but nonetheless they wandered a little closer than they were supposed to be.

Just then the official party including the Archbishop arrived.

Now Damaskinos stood well over six feet, and of course he was wearing a mitre that reached a good foot or more above that. He had a long, flowing black cloak and had a huge, bushy grey beard.

The sailors looked at him and beheld a fellow celebrant! Massing happily, they advanced on the Archbishop with clear intention of tossing him into the sea.

From this objective they were deterred only with difficulty. The Archbishop went on to Mr. Churchill’s cabin, and when it was explained to him who these people were and what the tradition was, it is said that he looked as if he had fallen among a group of lunatics. …

Do any of you know how Churchill reacted to the episode afterwards?

My guess is he was amused and enjoyed retelling it.

If Biden did that, what would Obama have done?

On O'Reilly tonight Dennis Miller said one of the things he liked about Joe Biden is "Biden would have walked out of Rev. Wright's church."

I'll bet almost all of us would applaud Biden if he walked out of Wright's church.

Heck, a lot of us would even applaud Jesse Jackson and Dick Brodhead if they did that.

But what does Biden say?

Would he really have walked out of Wright's church once he heard "God damn America" and "KKK-America?"

I hope so.

But no one in the MSM has asked Biden about it.

And if Biden had walked out of the raving racist, anti-American Jeremiah Wright's Trinity Church, would Obama have asked him to be his Vice-Presidential running mate?

Or would Obama have passed on Biden because Biden's walkout would make Obama look like . . . well, you know?

Why hasn't anyone at the NY Times, NPR, NBC or some other news org that's tanked for Obama asked him that question?

I think we all know the answer to that one.

My answer to Juan Williams’ question

On Fox News tonight, NPR senior correspondent Juan Williams said he didn’t understand why the polls aren’t showing “a Joe Biden bounce.”

IMO there are two principle reasons for that:

1) Joe Biden is not Hillary Clinton. Most of her supporters responded to Biden’s selection with “Jeez, that change?”

2) Joe Biden is Joe Biden. How many enthusiastic Biden supporters have you ever known? And have you met in the last few days even one person who told you: “I wasn’t sure I’d vote for Obama, but with Biden on the ticket I'm voting for him?”


Headlines from Drudge @ 4:50 PM ET

Bill Clinton undercuts Obama -- again...

OUT OF SIGHT: Dems working on hotel roll-call vote...

Carville: Wasted first night...

Tensions boil...

Three Clans Mix Uneasily...

GALLUP Daily: McCain Takes Lead After Biden Pick...

Denver archbishop scolds pro-choice Biden...

Obama from a home in Kansas City: I'm 'here in St. Louis'...

Obama seeks to silence ad tying him to 60s radical...

Obama general counsel calls for prosecution...

Pelosi Tells Disappointed Clinton Supporters to Avoid 'Victim Politics'...

Pelosi to protesters: 'Can we drill your brains?'...

If you’re a Democrat, the good news may be not many people are paying attention:

Democratic Convention Ratings Fall From 2004...

What will Obama do?

Please take a look at this ad.

Now what do you think Sen. Obama will do?

I say he has no choice but to say he supports the Senate resolution.

However, the net effect of the resolution and this ad is to remind people Obama opposed the surge, something he'd rather everyone forgot as he prepares to become Commander-in-Chief and start giving orders to General Petraeus.

Hat tip: AC

Michelle Obama’s Convention Speech

Author Phyllis Chesler is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies at City University of New York and co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology and the National Women's Health Network .

Here are excerpts from her assessment of Michelle Obama’s speech last evening and “the family moments” following it, after which I offer comments below the star line.

Chesler begins - - -

In her speech before the DNC, Michelle Obama came across as a low-key and consummately likeable family woman: a warm, (but oh-so-cool) sister, daughter, wife, and mother. Her role was to normalize her exotic or at least unusual husband.

How American can he be with an absent Kenyan Muslim father, an absent Indonesian Muslim stepfather, a name like Barack Hussein Obama, a childhood which consisted of growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia, and of being brought up by his white grandparents?

Michelle Obama also had to dispel the fears about her college thesis as a black separatist–and she certainly tried to do so.

Thus, instead of noting that America has been “criminal” in its treatment of African-Americans, (and suggesting that the most admirable African-Americans are “separationists,” not integrationists), she uncritically stated that she loves America and credits it with her humble and church-going family’s breathtaking rise.

Barack Obama was presented as a loving, hands-on father. The Obamas are no different than the Cleavers or the Huxtables. Obama himself appeared on video from Kansas City and related as a family man to his wife and young daughters.

This relaxed, informal “cuteness” seemed to work for the delegates who cheered, wiped away tears, “woo-hooed,” looked dreamy, and applauded Mrs. Obama over and over again.

But now for some reality.

We are at war and under seige. With our every purchase of oil, we are funding the war against ourselves. Jihadists, both terrorists and legal and civil rights advocates, mean to establish Islamist beachheads in all our Judao-Christian countries and, step by step, to take them over and force us all to live under Sharia law.

Mrs. Obama is a smart woman. I would have liked to hear her say something about this. Showing us and telling us that she cherishes her private family life, however wonderful that may be, does not rise to the level of a Churchillian speech in which her maternal concerns are for us all, not only for her children.

Yes, I know, that kind of speech may be reserved for her husband who is the presumptive candidate. But for a lawyer with an Ivy League education, I expected much more–no, I actually expected a lot more. She did not say a word about what America must do to protect herself from those who intend to destroy us. . . .

Chesler’s entire assessment's here. I encourage you to read it.



Certainly part of Michelle Obama’s role was to, as Chesler puts it, “normalize” Barack Obama. Another important part of it was also to “normalize” herself.

Let’s talk a bit about the Obamas and “normalization.”

I keep hearing from Dems and MSM about this need to “normalize” the Senator because of his “exotic” background. They mean his having a Kenyan father, living some years in Indonesia , etc.

Well, message to Dems and MSM: You can spare the “normalization” efforts about those sorts of things.

They don’t bother me or most Amerians. In fact, there’s a lot in Barack Obama’s “exotic” background and what he’s done with his life that we find very attractive.

Where the “normalization” work needs to be done has to do with Rev. Wright, Tony Rezko, Obama's feelings about people he calls bitter and derides for what he says is their clinging to “guns and religion.

And, oh yes, I’d like to hear him define what he thinks “a typical white person” is besides “my grandmother,” whom he compared to the raving racist Wright.

It’s about those matter the “normalization” needs to happen.

For “normalization” the Dems and MSM should read “truthful answers.”

I feel similarly about the need to “normalize” Michelle Obama.

I really don’t care much that she wrote a senior thesis at Princeton praising black separatists.

She was in her early twenties. If she says that’s all from her youthful past, well, it is.

But less than a year ago she was still attending Wright’s church and with her husband taking her children there for religious instruction.

I care a lot about that and want answers as to why she did that.

And I hope she doesn’t try to use the “I slept through all those sermons” excuse.

Her husbands already appropriated it and it isn’t going down with sensible people.

And then there’s “downright mean” America.

She needs to explain what she meant.

Saying “I love America” only avoids what I took to be her genuinely heartfelt description of America as “downright mean.”

I’ll say more about Michelle Obama’s speech and Phyliss Chesler’s assessment in a future post.

What did you think?

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Churchill Series - Aug. 25, 2008

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

As reported by John Derbyshire in his July 28, 2004 National Review essay "Oh, The Songs."

On the evening following the signing of the Atlantic Charter, Winston Churchill hosted a dinner party in honor of President Roosevelt on board H.M.S. Prince of Wales.

At one point in the proceedings, the two men fell into heated argument—not about the future shape of the world or the intentions of Stalin, but over whether the line - "In Bangkok at twelve o'clock they foam at the mouth and run" - comes at the end of the first refrain in Noël Coward's song or the second.

Hard to imagine any such exchange between present-day politicians. And those of the next generation will presumably have spent their formative years listening to gangsta rap.

Roosevelt said the second, and he was right. When Churchill was told this, he muttered: "Britain can take it."

What will Michelle Obama say?

Besides the story of the little girl from the South Side of Chicago who grew up to meet and marry The One, we’ll get liberal bromides about what “Barack and this party – all of you in this convention hall and millions watching tonight - want to do for America.”

And "change." We'll get lots of talk about that.

I should have worked “change” into the first sentence. Sorry.

Now here’s another sure bet.

Michelle Obama won’t explain why she thinks America’s “a downright mean country,” although that’s what most Americans want to hear her explain.

And whose fault is it that we won’t hear her talk about that?

It's Team Obama’s fault.

She was told a few months ago not to talk about "downright mean" America, but to instead go on The View and tell us why she doesn’t like stocking hose.

I’m sorry they ride up on tall women like Michelle and pinch, but who really cares?

Andrew Sullivan, Frank Rich, and Nancy Pelosi?


But most Americans aren’t interested.

I bet even Joe Biden’s not interested.

We want to know why she thinks America's “a downright mean country?”

But Michelle Obama won’t tell us that tonight.

Or anytime before the November election.

But afterwards, if her man loses?

Just you wait.

Obama's promise to slow weapons development

Yes, Sen. Obama said he would filibuster the FISA bill if it got to the Senate floor.

Then, when it did, he voted for it.

So when you make predictions about what he'll say and do you have to be careful.

Still, I feel safe predicting we won't hear Obama say at the Convention this week what he told Iowa's liberal caucus goers: "I will slow our development of future weapons system."

Watch and listen to it and what else he told them.

Now take a look at Mike Francesa's blog where he has more.

N&O publisher: No cuts/buyouts announced “as of now.”

The McClatchy Company recently announced job cuts and buyouts at a number of it’s papers.

McClatchy’s flagship publication, The Sacramento Bee, today reported it had “offered voluntary buyouts to the majority of its full-time employees.” The Bee hinted another round of layoffs may be in the offing.

The news from Sacramento is understandably stirring concern at McClatchy’s Raleigh News & Observer, which has previously offered buyouts, outsourced jobs and cut positions.

I’ve been getting calls and emails all day from readers and even N&O staffers asking if I knew what was happening at the N&O, where rumors are flying.

I decided to call N&O publisher Orage Quarles and ask him what was going on.

We spoke at 4:10 PM ET.

I asked whether any buyout or job cut announcements had just been announced by the N&O.
Quarles said no such announcements have been made by the N&O "as of now."

I asked whether any were expected in the not too distant future.

Quarles response: “No comment.”

I didn’t question further and thanked him for responding to my questions.

I want to get this news posted ASAP.

But I’ll be back on this story later tonight.

Hat tips to all of you who've been alerting me to McClatchy news and the situation at the N&O.

I've said it before but it bears repeating: I'm sorry to see journalists who report the news straight up losing their jobs. I'm also sorry for the support, non-news staffers who are losing theirs.

The Chronicle’s Butler & Rickards are truth-seekers

Great news!

This year Duke’s student newspaper, The Chronicle, will publish on Monday’s a column by Kristin Butler, Trinity '08, and Ed Rickards, Trinity '63 and Law '66.

Many of you remember all those outstanding columns Butler wrote for TC as an undergrad. Her work didn’t go unnoticed. She won a number of prestigious awards for her journalism.

Richards is a former TC editor whose deep love for Duke goes back half a century.

Butler and Rickards have reputations for digging out facts, asking tough questions and telling it like it is. Here’s some of what they said this morning about themselves and their column:

…The column Pro Bono Publico will appear each Monday with a joint byline. We promise to be fair and principled, probative and informative, analytical and critical. Our focus will be university policy and governance, and readers can count on us to hold administrators' feet to the fire. That starts right now.
So how did President Richard (“Whatever they did is bad enough.”) Brodhead and others at Duke react?

Butler and Rickards tell us:
We regret that at the outset President Richard Brodhead has refused to grant us an interview. We explained in summertime e-mails we would be writing more about him and his administration than any other journalists, on campus or off.

John Burness, who recently retired as senior vice president for government affairs and public relations, replied that although Duke "has been more willing than other universities to engage with reporters," it is paradoxically not "in the University's interest" to speak with us, writers from the Duke community newspaper.

Burness's replacement, Michael Schoenfeld, quickly agreed-so quickly in fact that he did not bother to take office first nor exchange a single word with us.

As unsound as we often found Burness's judgment-remember a judge questioned, "Why would anybody be dumb enough to say what (Burness) did" about former lacrosse coach Mike Pressler-we are appalled by Schoenfeld's demonstrated lack of independent thought, not to mention his lack of respect for this newspaper.

Indeed, by signaling that he'll deal only with certain (read: ideologically friendly) Chronicle writers and not others, Schoenfeld has moved toward a brave new world on campus where access seems governed by how lavishly one praises Brodhead.
There’s much more to the column. I encourage you to read it all here.

I left the following comment on the column thread:
I want to thank and congratulate Kristin Butler and Ed Rickards for their column today.

President Brodhead's refusal to grant them an interview is unfortunate, but understandable.

He was undoubtedly concerned they'd ask him questions such as:

1) Why didn't he meet with the lacrosse parents on Saturday, March 25, 2006?

2) Why, on March 29, did he apologize on behalf of the university to the "anonymous first caller" and "your friend" for racial remarks the caller (she was the second dancer, something the Durham Police had known since March 14) alleged were directed at her and "my friend," when Brodhead had no way of knowing if what was claimed in the call was true or bogus? (It turned most of it was bogus.)

3) At the time he made his unconditional, written apology, did Brodhead know "the first caller" was actually Kim Roberts, "the second dancer?" Why hasn't Brodhead ever answered that simple question?

4) Is Brodhead confident Duke didn't violate student FERPA privacy rights?

5) Why did Duke's President never speak out against those campus and community "activists" who rallied under "CASTRATE" and "GIVE THEM EQUAL MEASURE" banners, circulated on campus "Vigilante" posters targeting white students, and shouted threats at Duke students on and off campus; one particularly shocking example being the death threats black racists shouted at Reade Seligmann at the Durham County Courthouse on May 18, 2006?

Dick Brodhead doesn't want to answer those and other such questions.

Kristin and Ed, you've both been out in the wide, wide world long enough not to take Brodhead's refusal to meet with you personally.

If Brodhead was sure you were going to ask him about his "vision for Duke in 2050," and only that, he would’ve welcomed you into his office.

There might even have been a cookie tray out along with Cokes, Sprites and herbal teas, as there often are for interviews with those Brodhead views as "understanding" and "really mature given their ages."

Keep up the great work. Brodhead, his senior team, other Duke defendants and campus toadies may not appreciate it.

But those of us shocked, angered and embarrassed by Duke’s Brodhead-led response to the hoax and frame-up attempt do.

We also appreciate your efforts to lift the lid on Duke’s continuing cover-up of what really happened.

We're looking forward to your future columns.


John in Carolina
Folks, I hope many of you go here to the column thread and leave your own welcome and thoughts there.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My hopes for Duke (Post 1)

Duke provided me with superb professional training. It’s where I met lifetime friends and married the greatest woman in the world. It’s the primary reason we choose to make Durham our home.

Now that you know that, I want to share some hopes I have for Duke as it begins a new academic year.

First and foremost, I hope this year alums tell the development office and their class officers something like:

“I love Duke."

"Because of that, I’m holding off giving or pledging until I know more about Duke’s actions and inactions in response to Crystal Mangum’s lies; DA Nifong's and others' attempts to frame three obviously innocent Duke students; and the frame-up ‘cheer leading’ that came loud and venomous from many at Duke, including faculty.”

“Mind you, I’m not saying I won’t give. I’m saying I’ll hold off giving until BOT Chair Steel and President Brodhead give me and other alums more information.”

“Since March 2006 we’ve all gotten dozens of letters, e-mails, copies of Duke Magazine and what not. We’ve been to Alumni Weekend. I’ve talked to people who were at those 'dinners with Dick' or whatever they were called.”

“But we've gotten no explanation for why Brodhead never said in March ’06 the lacrosse captains had cooperated fully with police. There must have been a reason for his withholding that information. We want to know what it was.”

“We also want to know why Brodhead let the “wall of silence” lie spread, thus adding to the already great danger the players faced from racists and other unstable people living near campus.”

“A lot of us wonder why Brodhead or Steel or someone at Duke didn’t speak out against those vicious ‘activists’ who waved ‘CASTRATE’ and ‘GIVE THEM EQUAL MEASURE” banners and shouted threats at the students on March 26, 2006 right on Duke property?”

“Please don’t get me wrong. I love Duke. And as I say, I want to contribute.”

“I will. As soon as I get satisfactory answers to the questions I’m asking.”

"I don't expect you to provide them. Steel and Brodhead need to do that."

“I know nothing I’m asking about is your fault. You’ve been very nice to talk to and I appreciate your listening.”

“I hope you’ll ‘pass the word up the line.’”

“Somebody at Duke needs to tell us something besides: ‘We made an out of court settlement on that suit and the others so we can’t say anything. Now let’s all move on and support Bob and Dick.’”

“It’s time Duke told us the truth of what happened and what didn't happen.”

“We’re not children. We can handle the truth. We deserve the truth.”
(to be continued)

Visiting Oxford City and University

Two recent JinC Churchill Series posts focused on events in Churchill’s life which occurred in Oxford and at his birth place, Blenheim Palace, eight miles from “the city of dreaming spires.”

In a post yesterday I encouraged Series readers to consider a stay in Oxford for at least a few days, perhaps more.

I had to interrupt that post in order to save my marriage and keep the friendship of the most wonderful person I know.

Now what follows here is first, the part of the post I completed yesterday; and second, below the star line, its completion.

I hope others besides Series readers give the post a look.


I’ll walk you through a “virtual trip" there which begins with an arrival at Heathrow Airport. The "trip" is arranged so that you can do a great deal of visiting in and about Oxford without having to rent a car.

At Heathrow there’s a frequent, 24 hr. per day express motor coach service to Oxford.

The trip takes about 1:30. You travel on a modern motorway through attractive countryside on a comfortable coach. It enters Oxford on the High Street and makes frequent stops alone the street before the final one at the coach terminal.

If you look at this map (all those red areas are college buildings) you’ll see at the bottom right-hand corner the railroad station. The coach station is some few blocks to the right as you look at the map.

The map I’ve linked to is for overview purposes. There are many maps of Oxford and the surrounding area available on the Net. Particular places such as restaurants and hotels now almost always provide good maps at their sites as well.

That brings me to where to stay.

The guide books are available, including Michelin Red for Great Britain and Ireland.

Some people have great success searching the Net.

Let me offer an alternative to a hotel or B&B stay. Consider a self-catering short-stay apartment.

When we’re in Oxford we stay here. It’s very clean, comfortable, quiet and well-located. The rooms, while well- appointed, are on the smallish side. Also, there are no king size beds.

That said, you can save a good deal of money self-catering by cooking many of your meals; even packing a carry-along lunch as you head out for the day.

There’s something else that makes a self-catering stay in Oxford fun. You get to shop for food at the historic Cornmarket.

I should say here I’ve no financial interest in the apartments I’m recommending and if you tell them “John in Carolina sent me,” they won’t know what you’re talking about.

I’m simply trying to do you a good turn by suggesting that option.

Now I must break off this post or lose my best friend and the world’s greatest wife, all in one person.

Suppose we have special post Sunday in which I’ll finish our “trip.”

Look for a post around 3 PM ET with a title like “Visiting Oxford.”

See you then.


Back today, are you? Good! Let’s resume.

I’ll assume you’ve chosen a place to stay within easy reach of the rail and coach stations. (Both, btw, are in safe areas frequented by many pedestrians throughout the day and up through about midnight.)

At the rail station (small, clean and pleasant, with two news agents, a book store and a number of coffee and snack stalls, kiosks, tables and chairs), I’ve always found the ticket and gate agents informed and friendly.

You may have bought some type of rail pass before you left your home country or you may wish to just buy the lowest priced round-trip ticket you can get for your day trip. (The Brits call that kind of ticket, priced lower than most others, “a cheap, one-day return.” )

You’ll have lots of choices of where to visit by rail from Oxford.

Windsor is just an hour journey and its Castle is just a few minutes easy walk from Windsor Station. Near the Castle and along the Thames are some lovely pubs for lunch. There’s also a convenient footbridge that crosses the river to Eton and the College.

But you might instead choose to go to Bath. That’s about a 1:30 ride.

London? The trains from/to Oxford and Paddington Station leave/return very frequently during the day (average about every 15 minutes at peak times) and into the evening hours (average about every 30 minutes about 10, 11, and midnight.).

Travel time? Express about 1:15; a “slow train” about 1:45.

Using this National Railway site you can explore for yourself what’s available from Oxford, etc. I’ve set the link so you can enter places and times but you know you can click to the home page and explore as you please.

I hope you do.

There’s frequent Coach service from Oxford out to Blenhein and to towns in the Cotswolds, Manchester City and Stratford-upon-Avon. You’ll find the Coach links at this Wikipedia site.

There you’ll also find many links to theatres, historic sites and other interesting venues in and around Oxford.

Final Oxford item: Some of the world greatest choral music is regularly performed there in beautiful chapel settings.

You can attend performances of choral Masses, Eucharists and Evensongs at a number of colleges during the university terms which you’ll find at this site.

Three of the greatest choirs, in order of my untutored preference, are:

New College


Christ Church

If you wish to attend a service, remember to check there’ll be one during your visit.

There’s a lot more I’d like to say to tempt you to visit Oxford.

But I’ve said enough for now.

I hope it’s been helpful.