Friday, December 12, 2008

The Churchill Series - Dec. 12, 2008

A short post today I hope starts your weekend with a smile.

In 1950 then Sgt.(later Inspector) Edmund Marray of Scotland Yard was assigned as Churchill’s principal bodyguard. Murray remained in that position for the rest of Churchill’s life and, like just about everyone who worked with him, grew to like and admire Churchill.

In 1992, in remarks before the International Churchill Society, Murray told the following story:

On one occasion, apparently in the Cabinet Room, [Ministers] were discussing the defence of the Empire — yes, we once had one — and the question of the protection of the Virgin Islands arose. One of the Ministers present asked, "Where the hell are the Virgin Islands?" A very sharp remark came from the PM: "A bloomin’ long way from the Isle of Man, I hope!"
I wish you all a good weekend and am keeping those of you in the Notheast hit by the storm and without power in my thoughts.

Inspector Murray’s remarks are hosted here at the Churchill Centre’s site.

Obama’s New America

Don’t be fooled by President-elect Barack Obama’s “centrist” cabinet appointments. He’s a man of the Left and means to head America in that direction.

That’s the essence of what Charles Krauthammer’s says today. Here’s his column’s close, followed by my comments.

… Obama was quite serious when he said he was going to change the world. And now he has a national crisis, a personal mandate, a pliant Congress, a desperate public -- and, at his disposal, the greatest pot of money in galactic history. (I include here the extrasolar planets.)

It begins with a near $1 trillion stimulus package. This is where Obama will show himself ideologically.

It is his one great opportunity to plant the seeds for everything he cares about: a new green economy, universal health care, a labor resurgence, government as benevolent private-sector "partner."

The first hint came yesterday, when Obama claimed, "If we want to overcome our economic challenges, we must also finally address our health care challenge" -- the perfect non sequitur that gives carte blanche to whatever health-care reform and spending the Obama team dreams up.

It is the community organizer's ultimate dream.

Ironically, when the economy tanked in mid-September, it was assumed that both presidential candidates could simply forget about their domestic agendas because with $700 billion drained by financial system rescues, not a penny would be left to spend on anything else.

On the contrary. With the country clamoring for action and with all psychological barriers to government intervention obliterated (by the conservative party, no less), the stage is set for a young, ambitious, supremely confident president -- who sees himself as a world-historical figure before even having been sworn in -- to begin a restructuring of the American economy and the forging of a new relationship between government and people.

Don't be fooled by Bob Gates staying on. Obama didn't get elected to manage Afghanistan. He intends to transform America. And he has the money, the mandate and the moxie to go for it.

Krauthammer’s entire column’s here.


So the government that created the postal system, bought $600.00 toilet seats, put in place in the 1930s “temporary” farm price supports, and renamed “high risk” mortgages “subprime” and then guaranteed taxpayers would by off those mortgages when many of them predictably went belly up, will now manage your health care.

What’s more if you can’t pay for your health care, Obama will make sure you get it for free.

You’re an illegal immigrant?

You get it free, too. Why shouldn't you?

Cuba will have nothing on this New America Obama's planning to create with lots of help from members of both our major political parties.

Lon. Times: Democracy challenges the EU

An editorial in today’s Times of London points out: The EU has many challenges, chief among them understanding democracy.

The editorial continues - - -

Brian Cowen, the Taoiseach [Gaelic title for Ireland’s PM], has told his fellow European leaders that he does not intend to take “no” for an answer from Ireland's voters.

Instead he has committed himself, a second time, to seeking ratification of the Lisbon treaty that they rejected by 53.4 per cent to 46.6 per cent six months ago.

Mr Cowen could have disgraced himself more thoroughly by ignoring Ireland's first referendum on the Lisbon treaty altogether. But his decision to heed European blandishments rather than his own citizens' ballots still shows, as the leader of the Irish “no” campaign has said, contempt for the democratic process.

It is also a grave and unnecessary indictment of the EU's current priorities, which in more outward-looking eras have unquestionably been a force for good. If a second Irish referendum on the Lisbon treaty does take place, it deserves to be resoundingly rejected once again….

The rest of the editorial’s here.

Following on the same “page” as the LT editorial is R. Mason of London’s “editorial” - - -

The treaty makes EU law superior to national laws, creates an army, police force, empowers it to deal with third countries, run industrial, agricultural, policy, etc. Everything a state should do except have a government chosen by its citizens.

A little further down the thread Jan from Sussex, UK reminds UK voters - - -

At least Ireland got a vote. We were promised one, but our inept and cowardly PM doesn't keep his promises.


I visit the UK about twice a year and EU countries almost as often.

Most Brits I talk to are very dissatisfied with PM Gordon Brown’s Labour government.

A phase I hear over and over: “Labour’s lost the country.”

It comes not just from Conservatives and Liberals, but Laborites as well.

As for the EU, if I had to sum up in one word what I hear about it from citizens of EU countries I’d say, “disappointment.”

An uncritical or mildly enthusiastic EU supporter is a “rare bird.”

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Churchill Series - Dec. 11, 2008

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

It’s April, 1941.

There’s no Eastern front. Germany won’t attack Russia for another three months. France collapsed in June, 1940. The United States won’t enter the war until attacked by Japan on Dec. 7, 1941.

If you bought German government bonds that April, you’d get a very low interest rate. That was "the price" paid by serious investors who wanted to collect their principal at maturity.

British government bonds? Sure, you got a very high interest rate but the "smart people" in Wall Street would tell you you were buying in on "the losing side."

Still, Britain, the Commonwealth, and Empire fought on wherever they could.

On the home island, the fight involved a mostly defensive battle against German bombing raids. The Royal Air Force destroyed many attacking bombers but others got through and did their worst.

Bristol was hard hit during a nighttime raid that April.

The following morning, Churchill and Clementine left London for Bristol to view the damage and comfort victims. A small party accompanied them. It included an American, Averell Harriman, then in England as a representative of President Roosevelt.

Everyone was moved by the damage they witnessed and the "pluck" of the survivors.

That evening, Harriman arranged to make a large, anonymous donation to a relief fund for the bombing victims.

Clementine learned of his gesture. She sent him the following letter:

Tuesday, April the 15th. 1941

My dear Mr. Harriman:

I am sending your generous present to the Lord Mayor of Bristol & although I shall respect your wish that it shall be anonymous, I shall tell him how moved the giver was by the sufferings and bearing of the people of Bristol.

I feel it is the fervent hope and prayer of many of us that all this pain and grief, some of which we have perhaps deserved by our blindness and negligence, may bring our two countries permanently together & that they may grow to understand each other.

Anyhow, whatever happens we do not feel alone any more.

Yours very sincerely,

Clementine S. Churchill
We often forget that in Freedom's great struggle,there were two Churchills who used the English language to touch, sustain, and inspire.
Lady Churchill's letter was included in a Library of Congress exhibit:
Churchill and the Great Republic. A transcript of the letter may be viewed here.

NASA "not cooperating" with Obama transition

Robert Block at - - -

NASA administrator Mike Griffin is not cooperating with President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, is obstructing its efforts to get information and has told its leader that she is “not qualified” to judge his rocket program, the Orlando Sentinel has learned.

In a heated 40-minute conversation last week with Lori Garver, a former NASA associate administrator who heads the space transition team, a red-faced Griffin demanded to speak directly to Obama, according to witnesses.

In addition, Griffin is scripting NASA employees and civilian contractors on what they can tell the transition team and has warned aerospace executives not to criticize the agency’s moon program, sources said.

Griffin’s resistance is part of a no-holds-barred effort to preserve the Constellation program, the delayed and over-budget moon rocket that is his signature project.

Chris Shank, NASA’s Chief of Strategic Communications, denied that Griffin is trying to keep information from the team, or that he is seeking a meeting with Obama. He also insisted that Griffin never argued with Garver.

“We are working extremely well with the transition team,” he said. ...

The rest of Block's story's here.



It sure doesn't sound like "We are working extremely well with the transition team," does it?

BTW - Have you noticed that the NY Times, which was late and downplayed the Ayers-Obama connections, is forced to play catch-up on recent major stories embarrassing to Obama coming our of Illinois, D.C,, and now, NASA?

Belgium police report Al Qaeda plot? Questions

From Skynews - - -

Police in Belgium have arrested 14 suspected al Qaeda members, including one who is believed to have been about to commit a suicide attack.

The arrests were made during 16 raids in Brussels, as European Union leaders gathered for a summit there, and one in Liege.

"We don't know where the suicide attack was to take place," federal prosecutor Johan Delmulle said.

"It could have been an operation in Pakistan or Afghanistan, but it can't be ruled out that Belgium or Europe could have been the target."

One of the suspects had "received the green light to carry out an operation from which he was not expected to come back," Mr Delmulle quoted investigators as saying.

The man "had said goodbye to his loved ones, because he wanted to enter paradise with a clear conscience", he added.

"This information, linked to the fact that a European summit is getting under way at this moment in Brussels, left us no choice but to take action today."

The inquiry is described as "the most important" anti-terrorism operation in Belgium.
It is linked to a Belgian Islamist group involved in training as well as fighting on the Pakistan-Afghan border, the federal prosecutor's office said.

The year-long investigation "probably prevented plans for an attack from being carried out in Brussels," last year, it added.

There has been no change to security arrangements for the summit, an EU spokesman said.


There’s been “no change to security arrangements for the summit?”

Who believes that?

Sky News doesn’t say anything further about its report “the federal prosecutor’s office” said a “ year-long investigation ‘probably prevented plans for an attack from being carried out in Brussels,” last year.

My questions, which I’m sure many of you are asking yourselves: What are the details of the ‘probably prevented” attack last year?

Will Belguim authorities say more about whether “probably prevent[ing]” an Al Qaeda attack last year did or did not tip off AQ that Belguim authorities were on to them?

You'd think it would, wouldn't you?

There’s a lot to learn about this story.

Here’s the link to the Sky News story in case it updates at the same URL, but I pasted in this post the entire story there now.

At the NYT, more “Name That Party”

The NYT’s latest round of “Name That Party” is headlined: “Illinois First Lady Faces Scrutiny”

It begins:

In the six years since she became first lady of Illinois, Patricia Blagojevich, now 43, has not played a highly public role in her husband’s administration.

“She has kept a very low profile as first lady,” said Paul Green, a political science professor at Roosevelt University. “She literally could walk down Michigan Avenue and if she didn’t have security, 9 out of 10 people would not know who she was.”

So the extent of her involvement in the brash telephone conversations that resulted in charges of corruption against her husband, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, on Tuesday came as a surprise to many....
The Times makes no mention of anyone’s political party affiliation until the 8th paragraph of its 21-paragraph story:
Ms. Blagojevich has a deep-rooted political pedigree as the daughter of Richard Mell, the longtime Chicago alderman and a leader in Cook County Democratic politics, who is considered to have been instrumental in getting Mr. Blagojevich in politics.
The Times’ reference to Mell’s leadership role in Cook County Democratic politics is its only mention of the party affiliation of any of the story’s principals.

And how did you like the Anything for Obama NYT's describing the grossly vulgar and bribe-soliciting telephone conversations as "brash?"

That's like describing Al Capone as "adventurous."

The entire NYT story's here.

Hat tips: AC, BN

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Churchill Series - Dec. 10, 2008

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

Most people know horses were an important part of Churchill's life. He rode pony's as a child; trained in horsemanship at Sandhurst; was commissioned as a cavalry officer; rode as a lancer in the famous charge at Omdurman; played polo into his fifties; and kept and bred horses at Chartwell and other properties.

But most people don't know that for many years Churchill owned a racing stable. And he wasn't one of those celebrity owners who preen and eye the cameras while putting their feet in - oops - the wrong places. As with everything else he cared about, Churchill the race horse owner was informed and "hands on."

Churchill's most successful horse was a grey, Colonist II. He bought him against the advice of many racing experts. Churchill thought he saw something - a special determination - in Colonist that would make the horse "a winner."

Colonist proved Churchill right. "This tough and indomitable grey horse has performed miracles," said one racing writer in 1950. "No horse in living memory has put up such a sequence of wins in good-class races in one season." Among the prestigious races Colonist won were The Winston Churchill Stakes and The Jockey Club Stakes.

As Colonist's racing days came to a close, his trainer reminded Churchill that Colonist would be very valuable as a stud horse. The trainer offered to arrange matters.

Churchill pondered a moment, then laughed and replied,

"To stud? And have it said that the Prime Minister of Great Britain is living on the immoral earnings of a horse?"
Churchill's official biographer, Martin Gilbert, does not say what ultimately happened to Colonist. We can wish the horse had a green old age.

Martin Gilbert,
Never Despair. (pgs. 488, 522, 524, 528, 563)

A question for Obama

It comes from National Review's White House correspondent in an NRO post - - -

It just so happens that The Office of the President-Elect, which should really be called the office of the president-elect, has today started a new feature on its website called "Open for Questions."

The Obama-Biden Transition wants to hear from you. Use our 'Open for Questions' tool to ask a question about a policy or issue that's important to you — then click the check mark or the "X" to tell us which questions you most want the Transition to answer.

My first question is a variation of the one Obama didn't answer from the Los Angeles Times: Is Obama aware of any communications in the last six weeks between Rod Blagojevich or anyone representing Rod Blagojevich and any of Obama's top aides?


That's a fair question it seems it may be tough for the President-elect to answer.

Blagojevich: Beyond “business a usual"

For more than a year Tarheel Hawkeye has been commenting here on the pervasive corruption in Chicago and Illinois.

Here’s his latest - - -

I worked closely with local, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in Northern Illinois from 1968 to 1973. For Barack Obama to claim he never had close relations with Blagojevich doesn't pass the smell test.

In Cook County especially, you don't get into politics, get elected a state senator, get elected a U.S. senator, and get elected U.S. president unless you have CLOSE, CONTINUING, PERSONAL relations with the top tier of the Illinois Democrat Party.

And, believe me, nobody in the top echelons has any illusions about the corruption within the political structure in the Land of Lincoln.


Thanks, TH. You were way ahead of the curve explaining why an Obama administration has the potential to bring a corrupt culture to D. C. worse than what’s already there.

Rick Moran grew up in Illinois where he still lives. He’s followed Chicago and Illinois politics for years. His American Thinker post today in response to Gov. Blagojevich’s “salesmanship” has the sharp commentary only someone who knows “the players well” and how “they play the game” can provide.

Moran begins - - -

Those of us who have followed Illinois politics for any length of time are tempted to give the Rod Blagojevich arrest and pending indictment a quick shrug, a knowing smile, and a cynical sigh of know-it-all arrogance. "We've seen this before in Illinois, nothing new here, just move along" is the condescending response to questions from out-of-staters that usually suffice when some Illinois politico is caught with his fingers in the taxpayer's cookie jar.

But the Blagojevich True Crime Drama is not criminality as usual in Illinois politics. The malfeasance of Governor Rod Blagojevich is so outrageous, so brazen, so breathtaking in its scope and character that even jaded journalistic hacks whose beat has been the statehouse for years are shocked.

In the long history of official Illinois corruption, the Blagojevich schemes to personally enrich himself, enrich his cronies, and use the power of his office to further his nefarious designs are unprecedented.

If you read all 72 pages of the indictment, you just can't help being struck by the money-grubbing nature of the governor and his mania for money. He had schemes within schemes to extract cash from supporters, cronies, and companies who wished to do business with the state.

His "pay to play" program was particularly lucrative. This was a scheme where Blagojevich friend and campaign financier Antoin "Tony" Rezko pressured companies doing business with the state to contribute to the Blagojevich re-election campaign in exchange for lucrative state contracts.

Rezko was convicted of 18 counts of fraud in connection with the scheme and the governor's name was prominently mentioned during his trial. Others involved in this scheme include Stuart Levine, a GOP mover and shaker in the state.

At least you can say we here in Illinois are bi-partisan when it comes to corruption. …

Moran’s entire post’s here.

Why's the N&O's Blythe still covering the Duke/Durham frame-up story

Saturday I posted N&O again terms Nifong "fallen prosecutor."

The title tells you the problem. Nifong "fallen?" That's the adjective we most commonly use for our honored war dead and for police officers wounded or killed in the line of duty.

For Nifong "disbarred" and "disgraced" are much more accurate and appropriate adjectives.

The "fallen Nifong" story's reporter, Anne Blythe, shared with Samiha Khanna bylines on the N&O's March 24 and 25, 2006 stories which set off the Duke lacrosse witch hunt and the public part of the attempt to frame three transparently innocent Duke students for gang rape and other felonies.

A commenter responding to
N&O again terms Nifong "fallen prosecutor asked why Blyths was still permitted to report on the Duke/Durham case.

That's a reasonable question.

The best answer I can give at this time is this: N&O reporters and editors talk publicly at least about how "proud" they are of the N&O's Duke lacrosse coverage beginning on March 24, 2006 and continuing through to this day.

The N&O acknowledges it made a few mistakes in the first few days of reporting the story, but it places blame for those mistakes squarely on the shoulders of the players, their parents, attorneys and others who "would not cooperate with us."

According to the N&O, after the first few days and once the players, parents, etc. started cooperating, the N&O's coverage was outstanding.

That's self-serving bosh as I've demonstrated many times on this blog.

But given the public position of the N&O regarding its Duke lacrosse coverage, why would it take Blythe off the story since she continues to promote the falsehoods and biases of what the N&O says it its "outstanding Duke lacrosse coverage."

Here's an example of Blythe's biased and false reporting from a July 26, 2007 post - -
INNOCENT: N&O STILL CLAIMS "RACIAL SLURS." Blythe never responded to my offer to publish in full whatever response she cared to make to the false statements I noted in her story.


The July 26, 2007 post begins - - -

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

I've just sent the following email to N&O Reporter Anne Blythe, one of two reporters bylined on the Raleigh News & Observer's deliberatly fraudulent March 25, 2006, "anonymous interview" story,

Dancer gives details of ordeal
A woman hired to dance for the Duke lacrosse team describes a night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violence.
That story reported "the victim's" claims that racial slurs were "barked" at her and the other danser before she was brutally beaten and gang-raped. The N&O also withheld from the story the critically important exculpatory news "the victim" said the second dancer had been sexually assaulted but didn't report it for fear of losing her job.


Dear Reporter Blythe:

Your story today, "Nifong apologizes to lacrosse players," includes this:
Defense lawyers have said the players scattered in the wee hours of the morning after the team party because the second escort service dancer threatened to call police about racial slurs uttered by partygoers.
I'm not aware of the defense attorneys saying any such thing.

Can you show me where they did?

If you can't, will you correct your story?

I'll publish your response in full.

Also, you and the N&O claim you reported in your March 25 story only things "the victim" said that were in "a police report."

You've never ID'ed which police report you used. Your March 25 story reported "the victim" saying things that are in no police report made public so far.

Did you really restrict what you reported Crystal Mangum said to what was in a police report? Or did you not?

If you really did use a police report, make it available. I'll publish that in full. People want to see it.

Thank you for your attention to my queries.


John in Carolina

Caroline Kennedy's celebrity shouldn't be enough

Excerpts from Fred Lebrun’s Albany Times Union column today followed by my questions below the star line.

Lebrun writes - - -

... [Where else but New York state] would Caroline Kennedy be seriously considered for a U.S. Senate seat, even for a millisecond? Have we lost our collective minds?

The 51-year-old attorney and daughter of martyred President John F. Kennedy is interested in Hillary's seat, or at least her cousin Robert F. Kennedy Jr. says she is.

Supposedly, she's made an inquiry about the job with Governor Paterson, who will do the appointing for the unfilled term.

As soon as her name popped up as a possibility, in some minds she became a front-runner. It's absurd. What, in heaven's name, are her credentials, her applicable experience? It's all wrapped up in a name, and it isn't heaven's.

That simply isn't enough, not in New York. Not everyone who carries the Kennedy name is automatically adept at politics. Please, show us proof.

We're told Caroline Kennedy is apparently a bright, wonderful person, who is soft-spoken, intensely private and, given her enormous celebrity, has miraculously avoided the limelight. …

OK, but she's never run for political office, and before becoming deeply involved in the Obama primary against Hillary, didn't show us an overt interest in the political process at any level.

Now she's become the close friend and adviser of President-elect Obama, who says she's a warm and terrific person and would make a great senator. But, Obama added, he declines to get involved in New York's political process. As if he just didn't.

There is much that is off-putting about this trial balloon. It's being pushed exclusively in Washington, in Hyannis by her uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy, and in New York City. There is no indication from any upstate political voices that Caroline Kennedy has a grasp of the problems afflicting our 62 counties, or up to now, done much to find out. She hasn't spoken out on issues, or policy, or even personalities except for Obama's. ...

The rest of Lebrun’s informed, insightful and properly critical column’s here.


For the most part, New York’s media response to Kennedy’s possible appointment to the U. S. Senate has been, “Oh, goodie!”

Lebrun’s column’s an honorable exception.

Shouldn’t media be digging to find out whether she’s spoken out on our Iraq and Afghanistan policies?

What, if anything, has Kennedy said about American strategy in those two countries going forward?

Does she think that as part of a bailout package, UAW workers at GM, Ford and Chrysler must accept the same wages and benefits as workers at Toyota and other profitable foreign companyies' auto plants here in America?

Does she think NY Congressman Charlie Rangel should at least step down from the chairmanship of the House committee which writes our tax laws?

Has Kennedy said publicly anything critical of Rangel?

There are many more important questions Caroline Kennedy must answer before she's considered for appointment to the U. S. Senate.

If she doesn't, it will be an admission she being considered solely on her celebrity.

Blagojevich, Rangel wouldn't see a problem

Sacramento’s ABC affiliate reports - - -

The State Treasurer says financing for infrastructure projects will stop in two weeks unless there's a solution to California's budget crisis.

In a rare joint session of the Assembly and Senate, new and returning lawmakers got the low-down from the state's financial experts on just how dire the state's finances are. …

"The urgency and severity of this crisis requires all of us to act and to act immediately," said Assembly Speaker Karen Bass. …

While the state is wallowing in a $28 billion deficit over the next 18 months, newly-elected lawmakers got new cars. From $32,000 hybrids to $46,000 Cadillacs, their new rides will cost taxpayers an estimated $1.3 million.

It is a perk included lawmakers' six-figure salaries.

"The California Legislature has the highest-paid members in the country. So they're very well compensated. So I think a threshold question is whether or not they should even get any car allowance or cars at all," said Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Lawmakers also get their gasoline and maintenance paid for by the state
The entire ABC7 story’s here.


I doubt Democratic Gov. Ron Blagojevich will see a problem with the cars. “What’s the big (expletive) deal?”

Rep Charlie Rangel will likely say he’s not aware of what’s going on in the California legislature because his accountant didn’t tell him about it.”

Hat tip: Instapundit

The Churchill Series - Dec. 9, 2008

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

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

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

Churchill response to those people contained an analysis and prophesy

"It is a delusion to suppose that all this year we have been fighting the battles of the anti-Bolshevik Russians. On the contrary, they have been fighting ours; and this truth will become painfully apparent from the moment that they are exterminated and the Bolshevik armies are supreme over the whole vast territories of the Russian Empire."

Quote cited in
Finest Hour's (Summer, 2003) review of David Carlton's "Churchill and the Soviet Union." (Here and scroll down)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Citizen journalist gives Strib a lesson

The Minneapolis Star Tribuen yesterday headlined:

Senate recount: Minneapolis gives up on 133 ballots, but they still have pull

How they got away and deciding whether to count them are just some of the loose ends in the Franken-Coleman race.
The story included:

… As they called things off, Republican Sen. Norm Coleman's campaign raised concerns that "political spin" by DFLer Al Franken's camp might be affecting whether the ballots ultimately will be counted. …

A decision about whether to count the precinct's votes as tallied on Election Day is likely to be made this week when the state Canvassing Board meets. …

The Coleman campaign questioned suspending the search and expressed worry that the Franken campaign may have influenced a suggestion by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie that there is precedent for counting vote totals from Election Day when similar mistakes have occurred.

The Minneapolis precinct is heavily Democratic, and calculations indicate that leaving the missing ballots out of the count could cost Franken a net of 46 votes. That's a potentially important number in a race where Coleman held a 192-vote edge after the recounting, not including several thousand challenged ballots, according to Star Tribune totals. ....

"The decision by a senior member of the secretary of state's office, as well as the secretary of state himself, to insist there are missing ballots when there are any number of other plausible scenarios is disappointing. With today's news, we would hope further review of these other scenarios will be conducted, rather than just accepting the political spin of the Franken campaign." …

The entire Strib story’s here.


Mr. Franken and his supporters are delighted his fellow Democrat Secretary of State Mark Ritchie seems inclined to “count” the missing ballots.

Ritchie hasn’t said exactly how such “counting” will be done, but it will likely involve “projecting” (really assuming) that the Coleman-Franken breakdown among the 133 ballots would be the same as it was for the rest of the precinct’s Coleman-Franken vote.

Since the precinct went heavily for Franken, he’d be apportioned the lion’s share of the missing votes “counted.”

But such a bogus “count” doesn’t explain why those 133 votes are missing. Were they, for example, actually overwhelmingly for Coleman? We don’t know.

The Strib’s story doesn’t say how or why we can with any confidence assume the missing ballots would favor Franken.

Then there’s the crucial “chain of custody” matter.

The Strib doesn’t mention that, either.

But a citizen journalist does.

Under the heading
“One argument I like” marktrail3 on Dec. 9, 08 at 12:41 PM posts on the story thread - - -

One Sen. Coleman argument I like.. is that when you "find," either "missing" votes or "absentee" ballots ... is they fall outside the official chain of custody. When anybody can have access to ballots . . . you're begging for fraud. Ergo, those ballots shouldn't count.

The Coleman people have repeatedly raised the break in the “chain of custody” issue.

It’s critical.

Who would buy property if a title search revealed a break in the chain of title (the chain starting in the first case with proper possession of the property and thereafter continuous proper property transfers by each succeeding owner)?

Those 133 ballots are unaccounted for since last week. Finding them now even “right where they were supposed to be but we just missed them” won’t restore a “chain of custody.”


Score another one for citizen journalists.

And thank you, marktrail3.

Take a quick Duke quiz

It’s short (one question) and you can immediately check your answer.

Here goes - - -

What three things do the following four men have in common?

Bob Steel, Richard Wagoner, John Mack, Alan Schwartz.


1) All are members of Duke’s board of trustees.

2) All have led major companies as CEO’s

Steel - Wachovia

Wagoner -- GM

Mack-- Morgan Stanley

Schwartz-- Bear Stearns

3) All four companies have collapsed or are near collapse.

A blog friend who sent the above information added:

I expect that the recent investment results of Duke's endowment ( if they ever release them ) will be terrible . It will be interesting to see how the results compare with those of other comparable universities.

The BOT did not perform too well during the lacrosse incident either.
No, Duke’s BOT didn’t perform too well during the lacrosse incident.

And it’s not performing too well now unless your definition of “performing well” includes keeping President Brodhead and “Dick’s senior team” in place and raising their salaries while stonewalling alums asking for explanations of Duke’s disgraceful actions and inactions during the Hoax and frame-up periods and the now ongoing cover-up of what happened then at Duke University and DUMC.

NBC rewards David Gregory’s partisanship

Leftists and most liberals are no doubt pleased with NBC’s decision to name David Gregory the new Meet the Press moderator replacing the late Tim Russett.

But like many independents and conservatives, Tim Graham at Newsbusters is not pleased.

Graham explains - - -

As the baton passed to David Gregory at NBC's Meet the Press, NBC couldn't stop from shamelessly selling itself as a gift to America. On Monday's Today, Tom Brokaw exclaimed about filling the late Tim Russert's shoes: "It's a great legacy and he'll remain a presence of that, but Tim would be the first to say we were all temporary custodians of a national treasure."

How did David Gregory earn this new position? Most viewers know him largely as an arrogant question-yeller at Bush White House press conferences.

Take this exchange with Scott McClellan on the Plame leak probe on July 11, 2005: "This is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us after having commented with that level of detail and tell people watching this that somehow you decided not to talk. You've got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium, or not?...Why are you choosing when it's appropriate and when it's inappropriate [to comment]?"

McClellan replied: "If you'll let me finish," but Gregory insisted: "No, you're not finishing! You're not saying anything!"

Gregory is another journalist to rise through the ranks by bad-mouthing Republicans and defending the Democrats.

He lectured President Bush in a May 18, 2006 interview shown on MSNBC's Hardball: "In the most recent survey, your disapproval rating is now one point lower than Richard Nixon's before he resigned the presidency....Do you think it's possible that, like Nixon and Watergate, that the American people have rendered a final judgment of disapproval on you and your war in Iraq?" …

The rest of Graham’s excellent post’s here.


“Gregory is another journalist to rise thought the ranks by bad-mouthing Republicans and defending the Democrats.”

That sentence rings with truth.

Does anyone think Gregory would have gotten the
Meet the Press moderator’s chair if he was known for repeatedly saying things like:

“Senator Obama. This is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us after commenting you never heard any of Rev. Wright’s racist and anti-American sermons and now tell people watching this that somehow you’ve decided not to talk anymore about Wright. You've got a public record of 20 years of attendance at his church out there....Why are you choosing when it's appropriate and when it's inappropriate [to comment]?"
That's not the way NBC and most of MSM work.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Churchill Series - Dec. 8, 2008

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

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

The Liberals offered Churchill a chance to run for a seat in Manchester held by a Conservative. The race was seen as a tough go for him. The Conservative and Labour candidates were considered strong opponents.

And than there was the matter of many people not trusting a man who'd crossed the aisle. Can you believe anything a turncoat says?

To exploit this distrust, the Conservatives planned to distribute a pamphlet filled with statements Churchill made while in their ranks.

Let the public challenge him on what he'd once said; that would do him in the Conservatives reasoned.

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

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

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

He paused.

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

A page number was called out and Churchill said he'd turn to it.

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

What else did people want him to read? He asked for a little quiet while he read.

After a few minutes he admitted everything he'd read was something he'd said.

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

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

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

Much cheering, and the night was his.

On election night, as the British would put it, "Churchill came first."
Many Churchill biographers have recorded the pamphlet episode. See, for example, Violet Bonham Carter,
Winston Churchill: An Intimate Portrait. Harcourt, Brace & World, 1965. (pgs. 100 - 103)

WSJ: Possible Tribune bankruptcy filing this week

From today’s Wall Street Journal - - -

Tribune Co. is preparing for a possible filing for bankruptcy-court protection as soon as this week, according to people familiar with the matter, in a sign of worsening trouble for the newspaper industry.

In recent days, as Chicago-based Tribune continued talks with lenders to restructure its debt, the newspaper-and-television concern hired investment bank Lazard Ltd. as its financial adviser and law firm Sidley Austin to advise the company on a possible trip through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, people familiar with the matter say.

A Tribune spokesman said the company doesn't comment on rumors or speculation.

Tribune owns eight major daily newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun, plus a string of local TV stations.

A spokeswoman for Lazard didn't respond to requests for comment. Representatives of Sidley Austin couldn't be reached for comment. …

The entire WSJ story’s here.

A report this morning from Miami’s CBS4, a news partner of the McClatchy-owned Miami Herald which the NY Times reports is up for sale, includes the following - - -

…Tribune owns multiple media outlets including the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, as well as the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field. The company, which was purchased and taken private last December by Sam Zell, immediately began cutting jobs in all divisions, with the Los Angeles Times seeing some of the largest cuts.

But, even with the cuts, the company might not have enough cash flow to cover nearly $1 Billion in interest payments due this year, according to The Wall Street Journal. Much in the same way McClatchy may have a hard time finding buyers for the Herald, selling off the Cubs and other entities may be next to impossible for Tribune to pull off in time to stave off bankruptcy. …

The entire CBS4 story’s here.


If you haven’t read
Is the Raleigh News & Observer for sale? and its comment thread, give them a look.

Today’s WSJ and CBS4 reports add support to the post’s conclusion.

Based on what people familiar with the newspaper business and McClatchy’s grave financial situation, including its immediate need for money to service its $2 billion in debt, have told me: All McClatchy’s newspaper properties, including the Raleigh News & Observer, are effectively for sale.

McClatchy, like some other newspaper companies, is at the point of “No reasonable offer refused. But hurry!”

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Is the Raleigh News & Observer for sale?

A NY Times’ report says Raleigh News & Observer’s parent McClatchy Company:

"… burdened by debt and a steep slide in newspaper advertising, wants to sell one of its most prized properties, The Miami Herald, according to people briefed on the company's plans."
The NYT’s story has some people asking: “What about the Raleigh N&O? Is 'the ol' red rooster' on the block, too?”

The best answer I can give is this:
There’s been no official public announcement the N&O’s for sale.

Neither N&O publisher Orage Quarles nor McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt has said the paper's for sale.

For the past few years I’ve asked people about McClatchy’s and the N&O’s prospects in the face of declining circulations and ad revenues.

Adding to those declines are McClatchy’s costs servicing its $2 billion in debt, with that debt service made more costly by the “junk” rating of McClatchy’s bonds.

McClatchy’s top executives and senior editors at the N&O profess to be very positive about the company’s and the N&O’s futures.
That said, a fair distillate of what I’ve heard from intelligent people knowledgeable about McClatchy and the N&O is this:
The masthead of just about every American newspaper should include: No reasonable offer refused. But hurry.
McClatchy needs cash now; and lots of it.

A person who wanted to be described only as “just fairly intelligent and with no insider information about McClatchy” said:
"Given McClatchy’s desperate need for money and the declining value of newspapers, you have to believe McClatchy would jump at any offer for the N&O that provided quick cash.

"But that’s true for all McClatchy’s papers. It’s fire sale time in Sacramento."
I think that person makes a lot of sense.

What do you think?

The entire NYT story's here.

Thanks go to each of you who’ve passed on the NYT story and other stories reporting the Miami Herald is for sale

Voters freeze out Congre$$man Jeffer$on

From the AP - - -

…Indicted Democratic U.S. Rep. William Jefferson was ousted Saturday from his New Orleans area district, while Republicans narrowly held on to the seat vacated by a retiring incumbent. …

The entire story’s here.

It’s great news and I couldn’t resist the post title.

Raleigh N&O’s Pearl Harbor remembrances

On the 67th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack the Raleigh News & Observer carries a story of one survivor’s experiences that December 7 and since. Under the byline of Jim Wise, an outstanding reporter, the story begins - - -

John N. Pollok was out on deck that morning. It was right after breakfast, and he wanted a breath of air before going on watch down in the hot engine room.

Then he saw the planes coming in. When a machine-gun round hit the deck right in front of him, he knew Pearl Harbor was under attack.

"I got up and ran," he recalled, sitting last week in his Durham apartment surrounded by Christmas decorations and service memorabilia. "I was lucky I didn't get killed right then."

Pollok was a 21-year-old seaman aboard the USS Whitney, a repair vessel. He had joined the Navy in 1938, fresh out of Durham High School with thoughts of seeing the world and ambitions of earning a commission up through the ranks.

On that Sunday morning, 67 years ago today, he found himself firing a .50-caliber machine gun at Japanese Zeros while bombs and torpedoes went off all around him, ships exploded and sank and more than 2,400 Americans died.

"I did see the old Utah," he said. "Saw that hit with a torpedo and turn upside down, and about that time the Arizona blew up. They hit that with two torpedoes and I don't know how many bombs. ... I saw the West Virginia turn over. ... Saw the Shaw hit with a bomb, and it blew all to pieces." . . .

The rest of the story’s here. Relying on Pollak’s words, Wise respectfully and skillfully presents some of the complex of emotions and memories Pollak carried out of the war and through to this day in his 88th year.

Alongside the Pollak story, senior editor Dan Barkin offers a very thoughtful commentary - “What Pearl Harbor should teach us.”

Barkin concludes - - -

... Before Dec. 7, we were a nation that had, [UNC professor and former chief historian of the Air Force Richard] Kohn said, "kind of an uneven role" in Great Power politics. (Pre-9/11 we were a global superpower. Post-9/11 we were a global superpower. Not much discernible change.) "

After Pearl Harbor," he observed, "even though people wanted to go back to normal, they couldn't do it. What went on elsewhere in the world affected us, and not just economically, but politically and from a security standpoint."

Our elders learned that lesson from Pearl Harbor, but the years rolled by, and we youngsters were told that, after the fall of the Soviet empire, history had few if any surprises left for us. And then came Sept. 11.

So we had to learn once again, as a nation, to constantly question whether our government has good intelligence. We had to learn to be smarter about preparing for the unexpected.

The horrific recent events in Mumbai provide a sad refresher on the consequences of complacency in a dangerous world. In Kohn's words: "The one thing we know about the future is that we are likely to be surprised."

I think that's what the World War II generation wants us to remember this Dec. 7. I think they're mainly concerned that more than six decades after they defeated an existential threat to our nation -- a threat that filled the skies over Hawaii with Japanese fighters and bombers 67 years ago today -- that we'll forget what can happen when we let our guard slip. Just that.

Barkin’s nailed it. His entire commentary's here.

Today Wise, Barkin and the N&O reminded readers of one of the most critical events in our nation’s history, the service and sacrifices of our veterans, and some of what we need to remember and do going forward, if we're to keep America strong and as safe as possible.

In December 2006 the N&O published two beautifully written remembrance stories: “Living links to Pearl Harbor wane” and “Seeking peace at Pearl.”

The four N&O pieces cited here are examples of journalism at its best.

Pearl Harbor Remembrance

Lieutenant (JG) F.H. White was on board the USS West Virginia when it was attacked and sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The following is from White’s action report written on December 11, 1941:

At 0756, approximately, I was in the wardroom when the Fire and Rescue party was called away by bugle. I ran to the quarter deck.

The first thing I saw, on reaching topside was a Japanese plane over a ship, ahead of the West Virginia, from which a column of water and smoke was rising. As I ran forward, I stopped at the Deck office and sounded the general alarm just as the first torpedo struck the ship.

In route my battle station in secondary forward I noticed no one in charge of the AA battery on the boat deck where the crews were manning the guns, so I remained there and took charge of the battery, breaking out the ready service ammunition, forming an ammunition train and getting the starboard guns firing, local control.

The ship had received three or four torpedo hits which threw oil and water all over the decks, which combined with the list to -- approximately 25° -- made footing very precarious. Due to the list of the ship, the port gun crews were brought to starboard as their guns would not elevate sufficiently. The air to the guns had gone out, which necessitated depression for hand loading. While the guns were in action, several bombs dropped on or near the ship, but the discipline on the guns was excellent. ...

Lieutenant Commander J.H. Harper saw me and told me to go to the bridge and bring down the Captain who was wounded.

Lieutenant C.V. Ricketts, Ens. V. Delano, C.S.M. Siewert, D. Miller, M.Att.2c. and several signalmen were on the signal and flag bridges, in the immediate vicinity of the starboard admiral's walk where the Captain was lying.

The Captain's abdomen was cut apparently by a fragment of bomb, about three by four inches, with part of his intestines protruding. The Captain deserves the highest praise, for although he was in great pain, his only concern was for the ship and crew. ...

A serious oil fire from the galley spread to the mast structure, with flame and thick black smoke preventing our lowering the Captain forward of the conning tower although an unsuccessful attempt was made. The smoke and flames prevented us from seeing more than a foot or two, and the heat was intense. ...

The life jackets stowage and signal bags were burning by this time and Lt. Ricketts, Seiwert and I threw burning flags over the side. A fire hose was sent up by heaving line which I used to try to fight fire but the pressure was insufficient. By this time the bridge was burning to starboard, and the signal bridge all over.

Ens. Graham went up the starboard boat crane and sent over a line which we secured to the rail on the bridge and used to cross to the carne and thence to the boat deck. From then until relieved fought fire. ...
And this from a history of the West Virginia
The ship's commanding officer, Capt. Mervyn S. Bennion, arrived on his bridge early in the battle, only to be struck down by a bomb fragment hurled in his direction when a 15-inch "bomb" hit the center gun in Tennessee's Turret II, spraying that ship's superstructure and West Virginia's with fragments.

Bennion, hit in the abdomen, crumpled to the deck, mortally wounded, but clung tenaciously to life until just before the ship was abandoned, involved in the conduct of the ship's defense up to the last moment of his life. For his conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage, and complete disregard of his own life, Capt. Bennion was awarded a Medal of Honor.
The West Virginia was later raised from the bottom and repaired. It took part in actions off the Philippines, Okinawa and Iwo Jima. By the war's end, it had earned five battle stars.

On August 31, 1945 the
West Virginia sailed into Tokyo Bay. It was thus a "witness" two days later to Japan's formal surrender aboard the USS Missouri.

West Virginia's website is here. It's well worth a visit.

I can never find the right words to properly express my admiration and appreciation for our military men and woman and their families. Their services and sacrifices make our freedoms possible.

History Matters has the text of FDR's address to Congress asking for a declaration of war.

There's an outstanding remembrance post at Volokh Conspiracy. It contains film footage and narration of the background and attack on Pearl Harbor as well as photos, film and reactions of visitors to Pearl and the Arizona memorial site. The post is informative, moving and inspiring.