Friday, March 06, 2009

The Churchill Series - Mar. 6, 2009

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

Today we learn then twenty-two year old Lieutenant Churchill jumped at the chance to take leave from his regiment in India and return to London for “the season.” He visits Italy on the trip home.

From Churchill’s
My Early Life:

With the approach of the hot weather season of 1897 it became known that a proportion of officers might have what was called “three months’ accumulated privilege” leave to England. Having so newly arrived hardly anybody wanted to go. I thought it was a pity that such good things should go a–begging, and I therefore volunteered to fill the gap.

I sailed from Bombay towards the end of May in sweltering heat, rough weather and fearful sea-sickness. […]

I spent a fortnight in Italy, climbing Vesuvius, “doing” Pompeii and, above all, seeing Rome. I read again the sentences in which Gibbon has described the emotions with which in his later years for the first time he approached the Eternal City, and thought I had none of his credentials of learning it was not without reverence that I followed in his footsteps.

They formed a well-conceived prelude to the gaieties of the London season.
Churchill’s brother officers no doubt passed on the opportunity for home leave for two reasons. For most of them the expenses of the journey would've been a strain. And they were anxious to get on with their duties in their first overseas assignment, which they knew if they did well would help to advance their Army careers.

Expanse was not a concern for Churchill, and while he served bravely and with skill, the Army for him was always a means to an ends located in London in the Commons and at 10 Downing Street.

Spring has come to central North Carolina with the daffodils in full flower.

I hope things are nice where you are.

Have a good weekend.


Obama’s Deliberately Ignoring The Banking Crisis

Charles Krauthammer explains why - - -

At the very center of our economic near-depression is a credit bubble, a housing collapse and a systemic failure of the entire banking system. …

And yet with our financial house on fire, Obama makes clear both in his speech and his budget that the essence of his presidency will be the transformation of health care, education and energy.

Four months after winning the election, six weeks after his swearing in, Obama has yet to unveil a plan to deal with the banking crisis. (emphasis added)

What's going on?

"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste," said [Obama’s] Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. "This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before."

Things. Now we know what they are. The markets' recent precipitous decline is a reaction not just to the absence of any plausible bank rescue plan, but also to the suspicion that Obama sees the continuing financial crisis as usefully creating the psychological conditions — the sense of crisis bordering on fear-itself panic — for enacting his "Big Bang" agenda to federalize and/or socialize health care, education and energy, the commanding heights of post-industrial society.

Clever politics, but intellectually dishonest to the core. ...

Krauthammer’s entire column’s here. It is, as his columns always are, a “don’t miss.”

He’s America’s best pundit.

Hat tip: BN

Gearino’s Informed Look At An N&O Story

A story in yesterday’s liberal/leftist Raleigh N&O began:--

Joe and Angel Bostic bought their East Raleigh home for $150,000 in 1994, when Joe Bostic had a thriving renovation business.

Now, he sits home on disability, his wife works as a teaching assistant, and a refinancing has them owing $228,000 after their monthly payments ballooned from $891 to nearly $1,700.

The couple have (sic) filed for bankruptcy, but they are hoping that help is on the way from Congress.

The U.S. House is scheduled to vote today on a bill that would allow bankruptcy judges to alter mortgage terms if no other options remain for homeowners.

Judges could extend the payment period or lower the value of the mortgage on the home to the existing market value, a process known to the industry as "cramdown."

The rest of the story’s here.

Today blogger G. D. Gearino, former N&O business editor and columnist, posted an outstanding analysis of the story in which he first presented the essentials of what reporter Barbara Barrett and her editors told readers.

Gearino followed that with “Here’s what the reader doesn’t know” and laid out what that is.

Gearino’s post probably won’t make Barrett and her editors happy. But those of you who take your journalism seriously will appreciate it.

You can read it here.

Hat tip to Gearino.

Obama Outdoes Bush

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit:

A reader emails: “From Election Day 2000 to Election Day 2008, the S&P 500 fell 29.8%. From Election Day 2008 til this afternoon, it’s down 33.3%.” Ouch
Everything was supposed to get better if only we’d elect The One.

Anyone remember "Hope and Change?"

Count me among those hoping President Obama changes.

N&O’s Williams To Head Merged Features Dept

There was internal news yesterday for staffers at NC’s two largest circulation newspapers – The Raleigh News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer – both owned by the financially troubled McClatchy Co.

N&O senior editor Linda Williams who in March 2006 was lead editor of a deliberately fraudulent Mar. 25 front page story the N&O said was about a Duke lacrosse party that ended in “sexual violence,” will now head a N&O and CO newly merged features department.

What follows is the full text of the papers’ announcement memo followed by my comments below the star line.

TO: Observer and N&O staffs

FROM: Rick Thames [CO editor] and John Drescher [N&O executive editor for news]

RE: Features merger

We are pleased to announce that the features departments in Charlotte and Raleigh will merge and work together as one department. The editors in each department will plan together, communicate daily and assist each other in editing. Each staff could take the lead in planning and executing certain coverage areas or certain days of the week (or certain sections). We will explore the possibility of sharing copy editing and designing. When it comes to reporting, we will seek to expand our reach by avoiding duplication. We want to preserve as much local content as possible. But some stories, if reported in a certain way, could be effective in each paper. Each paper will have full access to the reporters on each staff. In an era of retrenchment, this effectively enables each department to expand its number of regular contributors.

There are many issues to be worked out. We will build on the lessons and successes from the merger of our sports departments in July. That merger has benefited each paper by avoiding duplication and enabling readers in each community to read the best work from the other paper. That merger has made our sports pages better. The features merger will do the same.

The merged features department will be led by The N&O’s Linda Williams. She will work daily with The Observer’s Michael Weinstein and The N&O’s Debra Boyette to build upon the strengths of each paper. Linda is The N&O’s senior editor/news; she oversees news, sports, business and features. Linda, who was reared in Fayetteville and is a UNC graduate, joined The N&O in 1974 as a reporter. She also has reported for The Oregonian, The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times. She returned to The N&O in 1997 as capitol/state editor and later served as metro editor. She will spend several days a week in The Observer newsroom. She will visit The Observer Monday.


My Comments:

Yes, I agree, it is a very wordy announcement.

Is this a new assignment for Williams which will mean she gives up some of her news and other editorial responsibilities at the N&O?

I’ve talked to people I trust at the N&O. They say they don’t know. They’re expecting to hear more in the next few days.

Two N&O staffers this morning said their understanding is the decisions to merge the features sections and assign Williams to head it were made at McClatchy’s Sacramento corporate headquarters.

In separate interviews each said it was possible Thames and Drescher themselves don’t know yet just what will be the full span of Williams editorial responsibility.

"We never know from one minute to the next what's going to happen here," one added.

There’s the news I have. I’ll update you when I have more.

Now a few “guesses:”

McClatchy is cutting it’s work force every week in an attempt to free up enough money to service it $2 billion in debt and avoid bankruptcy.

So it’s a very safe guess this merger is a step toward eliminating positions in the features section of one or both papers.

I doubt Williams’ appointment means she’ll lose editorial oversight in any of the areas she’s now responsible for at the N&O; heading features will be an add on.

Time is short today so I’m going to wrap up and say more in a few days.

I’ll close with this – I’m sorry for the fair, able journalists at the CO who'll now be working under Williams. They deserve better as do their fair, able colleagues at the N&O.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Churchill Series - Mar. 5, 2009

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

Historian Douglas S. Russell tells us how Winston Churchill, a student just graduated Harrow, became Lieutenant Churchill, 4th Queen’s Own Hussars.

Churchill entered Sandhurst on September 1st, 1893 at the age of eighteen years, ten months. He stood 5’ 6" tall.

The Royal Military College is located at Camberley, southwest of London. Founded in 1741, it served the purpose of training officers for the infantry and cavalry. Sometimes referred to as Britain’s West Point, it was not in fact a four-year college, and granted no degree.

Churchill took the standard course: three terms of instruction and training over an eighteen-month period. The old school is still there today, looking just as it did in the 1890s.

The subjects were few and practical: tactics, fortification, topography (map making), military law and military administration. He also trained in drill, marksmanship, riding, gymnastics, and fencing. Sandhurst uniforms were those of the regular army, including the red dress coat and the dress blue spike helmet.

Churchill did well at Sandhurst, graduating twentieth out of a class of 130 in December 1894. As he later wrote, "It shows that I could learn quickly the things that matter."

For the first time in his life his personal interests and his work were the same and he excelled. A distinguished career had begun.
Douglass S. Russell,
Lt. Churchill,4th Queen’s Own Hussars. The Churchill Centre.

Obama Turns Allies Into Bargaining Chips

NRO posts Charles Krauthammer’s comments on Fox' All Stars last night concerning President Obama’s secret letter to Russian president, Dmitri Medvedev proposing a deal on missile defense. TigerHawk follows with a spot on observation.

Krauthammer said - - -

This is smart diplomacy? This is a debacle. The Russians dismissed it contemptuously.

Look, if we could get the Iranian nuclear program stopped with Russian's helping us in return for selling out the Poles and the Czechs on missile defense, I'm enough of a cynic and a realist to say we would do it the same way that Kissinger agreed to de-legitimize and de-recognize Taiwan in return for a large strategic opening with China.

But Kissinger had it done. He had it wired. What happened here is it was leaked.

The Russians have dismissed it. We end up being humiliated.

We look weak in front of the Iranians, and we have left the Poles and Czechs out to dry in return for nothing.

The Czechs and the Poles went out on a limb, exposed themselves to Russian pressure, and we have shown that Eastern Europe is not as sovereign as it appears if the Russian influence is there, and we will acquiesce in what they consider their own sphere of influence.

This administration has prided itself, flattered itself on deploying smart diplomacy.

"Smart diplomacy" is a meaningless idea, but if it has any meaning at all, it is not ever doing something as humiliating, amateurish, and stupid as this.

Now TigerHawk - -

Whatever might be said about Bush era diplomacy, Dubya never sold our allies down the river.

Disagreement is one thing; converting such stalwarts as the Czechs and the Poles into bargaining chips is quite another.

Hat tip:

Obama/Dem Policies Are Driving The Dow Down

A friend sent the following:

President Obama and the Democrats continue to blame President Bush for all of our economic problems , including the falling stock market; but the Democrats have controlled Congress since January 4, 2007.

Below are a few market statistics which would indicate that President Obama and the Democrats in Congress (and their policies/ proposals) are responsible for a significant portion of the market's fall

-- Since the Democrats took control of Congress (Jan.4, 2007) the Dow has fallen about 5,600 points or 45%

-- Since Obama assumed office (Jan.20, 2009) the Dow has fallen about 1,400 points or 17%

Folks, we all know the drop in the Dow of 17% in just the 6 weeks since Obama took office is extraordinarily troubling.

The markets are screaming a big "No" in response to Obama's huge "spend now, pay some other time" programs.

The people who must risk their money to drive the Dow and other financial markets up are not buying into Obama's plans.

That's because they know where greater government control of the economy combined with enormous government borrowing and growth in the public debt lead: slow growth, high unemployment and less of the essential business risk taking necessary to grow the economy.

I haven't seen any editorializing about the markets "No" to Obama and the Dems in my local paper, the liberal/leftist Raleigh N&O.

What have you seen in yours?

This Made Me Smile

From The Guardian’s Mar. 4 Corrections and clarifications notes:

Our writer's fond recollection of having played a Mahler violin concerto at university, mentioned in an article headlined The great big musical mash-up (2 March, page 19, G2), was mistaken; Mahler never composed a violin concerto.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Churchill Series - Mar. 4, 2009

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

Churchill in India, the Sudan, and South Africa.

In Parliament, Downing Street, and the Admiralty.

Pacing in his study, working in bed and singing in the bath.

Churchill seems at one time or another to have been everywhere.

Everywhere, that is, but in the kitchen.

His long-time aide Anthony Montague Browne relates this amusing incident involving a brief conversation:

“…at Downing Street during the early 1950s:

Winston: ‘I shall go to Chartwell next weekend.’

Clementine: ‘Winston, you can't. It's closed and there will be no-one to cook for you.’

Winston: ‘I shall cook for myself. I can boil an egg. I've seen it done.’

Churchill's threat was received in dumbfounded silence on all sides but it was not carried out. His gastronomic priorities clearly prevailed!”

Well, folks, I need to run. The egg timer just rang.

Douglas J.Hall,
Man of Kent, Kentish Man: Churchill, Chartwell, and the Garden of England. (The Churchill Centre, Finest Hour, No. 111, Summer 2001)

Where Does The NYT Find Its Reporters?

For all of you who've asked:

Hat tip: AC

Will Kudlow Take On Angelo's Friend Dodd?

The Hartford Courant's Roger Catlin reports - - -

As conservative economist on the weeknight CNBC show "Kudlow and Co.," Larry Kudlow just last month was poking at U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.

Dodd "has yet to divulge fully his sweetheart mortgage deals with the former Countrywide," Kudlow said in a Feb. 13 screed. "He's re-fi'ed his mortgages, but we don't know those documents, either. Instead of being impeached, he's still around."

Now, it appears as if the TV show host and economic consultant and syndicated columnist may be going directly after Dodd. ...

The rest of Catlin's piece is here.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posts - - -

Larry Kudlow has expressed interest and started making contacts to possibly make a run for Chris Dodd’s Senate seat in Connecticut in 2010. The cable-show financial analyst senses Dodd’s vulnerability on his sweetheart mortgage deals with Countrywide Finance and his Irish mansion, all bought on a Senator’s salary. Kudlow is the latest celebrity talking head to think about a Senate run (via Instapundit):

As conservative economist on the weeknight CNBC show “Kudlow and Co.,” Larry Kudlow just last month was poking at U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn. ...

Politico reporter Josh Kraushaar reported Monday that Kudlow “confirmed his interest” in running against Dodd in 2010.
How serious is Kudlow? Serious enough to have dinner with John Cornyn, who heads the National Republican Senatorial Commitee and would be in position to back Kudlow.

Kudlow told Politico that Cornyn would love to make Dodd’s re-election a national case on Democratic policy, and presumably on Democratic ethics as well.

In 2010, the Republicans will have to run on fiscal responsibility and economic management, especially if the market continues to slide and the economy keeps stalling as badly as it is now. Dodd helped run the housing market into the ground, but thus far has managed to avoid much of the responsibility by shifting it to what he calls deregulation. …

Morrissey's entire post's here.

Folks, Dodd's a self-serving scoundrel who deserves to be defeated.

If there was much concern for ordinary homeowners among Connecticut's fat cat Dem leaders, we'd already be reading about Dodd facing a primary fight.

Did McClatchy Buy A "Failing" N&O?

A former top McClatchy Co. exec say, "Yes." The N&O's business editor in 1995 when McClatchy bought the N&O from the Daniels family says, "No."

Below are excerpts from blogger and former Raleigh N&O business editor G. D. Gearino's post today with my comments below the star line.

Gearino begins - - -

I read the most bizarre thing yesterday, something so absolutely contrary to the known facts that it left my jaw gaped in astonishment. And the most bizarre thing was that it was written by somebody who purports to traffic in trustworthy information.

First, some background: Until a few months ago, Howard Weaver was the top editor at McClatchy Newspapers, the California-based company which owns the News & Observer.

Weaver, now retired, has positioned himself as an industry theorist, offering guru-ish insights into journalism on a Web site carrying the awkward name Etaoin Shrdlu. In a post a few weeks ago, Weaver declared … well, it’s hard to figure out what exactly he wanted to say, frankly. ...

His post can be found here. Feel free to take a whack at a 25-word summary.

In any event, Weaver’s post prompted an impassioned response from former N&O columnist Dennis Rogers, who asserted McClatchy had “ruined” the Raleigh newspaper. In a reply to Rogers, Weaver said:

We didn’t ruin you. (The News & Observer was a failing business when McClatchy bought it. The Daniels didn’t believe in its future and it wasn’t doing well.) And no matter who owned that paper, the loss of advertising and revenue crash would have screwed them.
I know a little about this matter, since I was the N&O’s business editor in 1995 and co-authored the article announcing its sale.

McClatchy paid a quarter-billion dollars for the paper — top dollar at the time — and additionally agreed to take on approximately $120 million of N&O debt.

The Daniels family sold the paper for three reasons:

(1) There was no clear successor within the family to take over the company, a common fate among family-owned enterprises;

(2) the N&O needed to launch an expensive circulation-building campaign to keep up with the Triangle’s growth, but preferred to use cash flow to pay down debt; and

(3) as a well-regarded newspaper in a flourishing market, the family could command a premium price for the company.

In short, it was the right time for the Daniels family to cash out.

The N&O was by no means “a failing business.” In fact, I’d be willing to bet that even today, in the midst of this historic economic downturn, it still posts an operating profit. What’s dragging it down is the $2 billion debt McClatchy has heaped upon its newspapers — a debt Weaver helped create. ...

Gearino's entire post's here.


My Comments:

I sometimes agree and sometimes disagree with Gearino, but almost always find him interesting.

Weaver impresses me as someone who does much more rationalizing than thinking. He preens a lot, too.

That said, and without in this post taking a firm "Yes" or "No" position on the question of whether the N&O in 1995 was a "failing business," there's information I want to share with you that certainly bears on the questions of whether in 1995 the N&O was a "failing business," and whether its been one since.

The N&O has a multi-county circulation area; the circulation numbers I'm about to cite are total circulation numbers.

But the population numbers I'm about to cite are only for the N&O's home Wake County, which includes NC's capital, Raleigh.

I'm citing only Wake population numbers because the N&O has over the years changed areas where it makes home deliveries, had local bureaus, etc.

By restricting the population numbers to only Wake, where the N&O has its home office and which has always been its prime circulation-base, I'm making sure no one can claim I "shuffled" population numbers.

Also, in every case where I use a circulation number, I use the largest one I could find for the time cited whereas for the population numbers I cite are an undercount of the actual population in the N&O's total circulation area at all times cited.

Even allowing for that, I think you may be surprised - even shocked - to see how N&O total circulation growth has fallen far behind Wake's explosive population growth.

Let's look at the numbers:

Last Nov. 25 the N&O carried on its front page a five-column-wide photo of the above the fold portion of the N&O's May 28, 1957 front page as part of a story relating to 1957.

I noticed a small item boxed in the upper right-hand corner of the reproduced 1957 front page. It read:
Yesterday’s Paid Circulation – 125, 401.

A July 1995 NewsInc report gave the N&O's circulation as
153,000. (All print circulation and U. S. Census numbers that follow are rounded to the nearest thousand)

According to the ABC [Audit Bureau of Circulations] … for the six-month period Apr-Sept. 30, 2008, the N&O had a daily circulation (M-F) of

The Census and Population page (All rounded Census number cited can be found at the page.)lists Wake's 1960 US Census population as

The 1990 Census reported Wake's population as

The 2000 Census reported Wake's population as

2007 Census Bureau estimate of Wake's population -

Thus, according to the Census Bureau, between 1960 and 1990 Wake's population grew by 257,000. (426,000 - 169,000 = 257,000)

Now if we subtract the 1995 NewsInc N&O circulation figure of 153,000 from the 125,000 (rounded) circulation figure from the May 1957 N&O, for the thirty-eight years leading up to its 1995 sale to McClatchy, N&O circulation grew by

As we've just seen during 30 of those years (1960-1990), Wake's population grew by

And the last five years of those 38 years (1990-1995) were part of a decade in which the Census Bureau reported Wake population growth of 207,000. ( 2000 pop. of 633,000 - 1990 pop. of 426,000 = 207,000.)

Given the explosive population growth in Wake during those 38 year as well as a very strong economy during most of them, the N&O's circulation growth during them may not give cause to call the N&O in 1995 a "failing business."

But given the booming population growth and generally strong economy in Wake and much of the rest of the N&O's circulation area during those 38 years, it's reasonable to ask whether the N&O's circulation growth during those years wasn't at best anemic and a sign of what was certainly a flagging news company?

I'm going to stop here because this post has gotten long.

I'll post tomorrow taking a look at what I think the N&O's circulation numbers from 1995 going forward to the near present suggest about it and McClatchy as business entities.

I'm sending G. D. Gearnino, Dennis Rogers, Howard Weaver and McClatchy Watch links to this post inviting them to weigh in on this post. I'll offer to publish on the main page their responses.

Your comments are certainly welcome,too.

Hat tip: Locomotive Breath

PM Brown's Visit: A Few Brit Press Looks

Here's a 1, 2, 3 post with:

1 - - From The Guardian snips and links to press coverage of Britain's PM Brown's visit to Washington;

2 - - The full text of Daily Telegraph US editor Toby Harnden's take on the visit - Harnden's upset at the way President Obama's treating Brown and, by extension, dissing Britain;

3 - - A few of my comments.

1 - - From The Guardian's Politics blog - - -

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post says yesterday's meeting between Barack ObamaGordon Brown was a "no Colgate moment". and

Michael Scherer at Time magazine's Swampland blog thinks the British media's obsession with the strength of the special relationship is "pathetic" and evidence of the "insecurity of a faded empire".

And Amy Sullivan at Swampland recalls that Brown was beaten in the race to an audience with the new president by Tony Blair.

Jeff Zeleny and David E Sanger in the New York Times point out that Obama did not repeat Brown's "global New Deal" phrase, while BlueStateLiberal at the Daily Kos says Democrats should oppose Brown's plan for a "global New Deal" because it would lead to foreigners having power over US economic decision-making.

Toby Harnden, the Daily Telegraph's US editor, says on his blog that yesterday felt like a new era in transatlantic relations and that he started to feel a bit sorry for Gordon Brown.

2 - - Harnden's DT post - - -

Number 10 may be content that they just about got away with the visit to the Oval Office yesterday, as Andrew Porter reports from Washington.

But on this side of the Atlantic the whole business looked pretty demeaning. The morning papers and TV last night featured plenty of comment focused on the White House's very odd and, frankly, exceptionally rude treatment of a British PM. Squeezing in a meeting, denying him a full press conference with flags etc. The British press corps, left outside for an hour in the cold, can take it and their privations are of limited concern to the public.

But Obama's merely warmish words (one of our closest allies, said with little sincerity or passion) left a bitter taste with this Atlanticist. Especially after his team had made Number 10 beg for a mini press conference and then not even offered the PM lunch.

We get the point, sunshine: we're just one of many allies and you want fancy new friends. Well, the next time you need something doing, something which impinges on your national security, then try calling the French, or the Japanese, or best of all the Germans. The French will be able to offer you first rate support from their catering corps but beyond that you'll be on your own.

When it comes to men, munitions and commitment you'll soon find out why it pays to at least treat the Brits with some manners.

3 - - My Comments:

I wouldn't go as far as Harnden although I've already heard from some Brit friends many in the UK see Obama as having dissed Brown.

That's troubling for the reasons Harnden mentions. It's also somewhat surprising, too, since Brown is very unpopular in Britain and Obama has until recently drawn mostly raves from the UK press and most Brits I talk to.

A number of you have asked I comment on President Obama's decision some weeks back to remove the Epstein bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval office where President Bush had placed it after Britian loaned it to the US immediately following September 11. The British made clear they were willing to extend the loan but Obama decided to return the bust to them.

I held off commenting for a number of reasons including a hope that during PM Brown's current visit there'd be some resolution of the matter other than where things stand now with something like: "Here, Britain. Take back your Churchill bust. We don't want it."

I'll post on the matter this weekend.

The Churchill Series - Mar. 3, 2009

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

Kathleen Hill, Marian Holmes, Elizabeth Layton, Peter Kinna and some others like them receive little, if any, attention in the history books. But we owe them a great deal.

During World War II one or another of them was almost always within a few feet of Churchill during the times he worked alone on state matters.

The women would sit with fingers poised over a typewriter keyboard ready to record anything Churchill wished to dictate; Kinna would sit with steno pad and pencil in hand.

Churchill could be working in bed or on a train, ship, or plane. Something in a newspaper story would catch his eye and he’d want to ask a cabinet minister about it. He had only to name the minister and ask the question. It was all recorded and typed. In a minute or two Churchill could review a nicely typed minute he'd just dictated. (
I hope you’ll pardon how I put that. – JinC)

A lengthy policy paper from the Foreign Office? Churchill called out questions and made comments as he read through it. When he reached the end of the document, a first draft of his responses to the F.O. paper was ready for review.

The system of always having someone at the ready to record in written form Churchill’s thinking; and then to direct to appropriate parties the results of his thinking in the form of written questions, suggestions and directives had a great deal to do with Churchill’s success in leading the British war effort.
Martin Gilbert,
Continue to Pester, Nag and Bite. (pgs. 10-12); and Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill: Finest Hour, 1939-1941. (See index for Kathleen Hill, Marion Holmes, Elizabeth Layton, and Peter Kinna)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

What Today’s Slim Raleigh N&O Tells Us

Today the McClatchy Company’s liberal/leftist Raleigh N&O’s print edition is a slim 38 pages.

The “A” Section at only 10 pages is a real shocker that tells us something very important..

The section contains two editorial pages and about four-and-a-half ad pages. The ad pages were likely sold at very reduced rates. One full-pager is from Chevy which wouldn’t be paying full price now for such an ad in any newspaper. Another full-pager, on the preferred last page of the section and in color, was placed by Hatfield-Berrang Hearing Aid Centers who, like Chevy, surely demanded and got an rate discount along with the preferred placement.

That's all bad news for the N&O revenue stream which I’ll bet is nowmore like a revenue trickle.

And look at what’s happening to subscribers.

When you take away from the total of 10 pages in today’s “A” section the two editorial pages, four-and-a-half ad pages and the front page which is mostly masthead, headlines and photos, you're left with just two-and-a-half pages.

And not all of them are devoted to serious news reporting. Some space is given over to state lottery numbers, a list of celebrity birthday and the like.

But let’s be generous and say two-and-a-half of the “A” section pages are serious news stories.

While some of you will praise the Lord for the N&O’s shrinking news coverage, it is really shocking.

Things aren’t much better when you look at the 12-page “B” section which includes 5 pages devoted to Business with no mention of McClatchy’s financial troubles, including its stock selling at 43 cents a share as of 2:20 ET today.

So even when the N&O gives you a heap of Business news (mostly from wire services) it omits the one story that right now is most effecting the paper, its staff and, most important of all, its readers who are paying full price for a reduced product.

The “C” section – Sports – has 6 pages.

The “D” section – called “Life, etc” – has 10 pages that include the comics, crossword, advice columns, classifieds, etc.

Journalism at the N&O!

It's sad.

Who's Paying Brodhead's And The Other's Legal Bills?

Yesterday I posted The Chronicle’s “Recession Strategy” Story & Editorial.

Among other things, I noted TC has not reported on the costs to date of the suits resulting from the Steel/Brodhead administrations disgraceful actions and inactions in response to events which began Crystal Mangum’s and Mike Nifong’s lies.

I asked a number of questions of TC, two of which were:

What’s the effect of those costs – which sources tell me are already in the neighborhood of $50 million on Duke’s current extremely challenging financial situation?

And whose paying those costs?

This morning I heard offline from someone not connected with TC but very familiar with Duke, the suits brought against it, and some of their effects on the university.

Here’s what the source said:

Your comments on The Chronicle story and editorial were, as usual, spot on. In particular, your $ 50 million estimate of the amount Duke has spent to date on settlements and legal fees related to the lacrosse incident is not unreasonable -- and these costs will obviously continue as the civil suits move forward.

In addition to these direct out of pocket costs, there are other lacrosse related costs which may be difficult to measure but which are significant, e.g.

--- the loss in contributions from alumni, parents and others who are dissatisfied with Duke's leadership

--- the time spent by Duke personnel, in particular senior management

--- the damage to Duke's reputation

Regarding the tuition increase, I did some quick calculations and estimate that this increase will add roughly $ 20 million to Duke's annual revenues.

Had Duke behaved honorably in the lacrosse incident, the $ 50 million ( and more ) would have been available to pay for more than two years of tuition increases -- and maybe Duke could have postponed the tuition increase which are a burden to many parents/students in these difficult economic times.

So the answer to your rhetorical question of who will pay for the lacrosse related costs is, at least in part, the parents and students.

The Churchill Series - Mar. 2, 2009

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

During the winter of 1931/32 Churchill made an extensive lecture tour in the United States.

It was on that tour that he was struck and almost killed by a taxi while crossing New York’s Fifth Avenue.

During a lengthy convalescence, part of which was spent in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Churchill and his bodyguard, Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Walter Thompson, realized they'd not registered and received permits for the pistols they carried (At the time Churchill was considered a prime assassination target of both Irish and Indian extremists).

Churchill asked Thompson to take the pistols down to NYC Police headquarters and set matters right.

When Thompson returned to the Waldorf, he told Churchill what had happened.

The police had been very polite but they’d made it clear people were not supposed to carry guns in the city.

Thompson protested that extremist groups, some active in the Untied States, had repeatedly threatened to kill Churchill. Not only that, Thompson had read in the morning’s paper of five murders just the previous day.

The police said they understood his position, but there were still the gun law to consider.

Thompson continued pressing. Soon he was told the Police Chief himself would speak to him.

The Chief had been briefed on the problem. “We can’t give you official permission,” he told Thompson. Then he added: “But if you have to use weapons just let us know and we will square it for you.”

Churchill took it all in before telling Thompson the Americans were “an amazing people.”
Tom Hickman, Churchill's Bodyguard. (pgs. 70-71)

Monday, March 02, 2009

Holder's "Coward's" Speech's Breath-taking Hypocrisy

JinC Regular cks says - - -

What I found most breath-taking in the Holder speech was its hypocrisy. A reading of his speech reveals that it is only blacks (and at that only selected ones) who were courageous in their efforts to end the barriers between whites and blacks.

Why was there no mention of William Lloyd Garrison, abolitionist and publisher of The Liberator, or his daughter, Fanny Garrison Villard, one of the founders of the NAACP or her grandson, Oswald Garrison Villard, editor of the New York Post who advocated for equal rights?

Where was his mention of the Grimke sisters of South Carolina or any of the many abolitionists who suffered much at the hands of those who opposed them? What about the many nameless yet nonetheless committed whites who over the years have worked tirelessly for civil rights for all? They were hardly cowards....

I would ask Mr. Holder this - why is it that African Americans need to be singled out for special preferences? Asians, in particular Koreans and Indians, have suffered particularly at the hands of blacks in whose neighborhoods they have established businesses.

Why was there no calling out of those who feel a sense of entitlement today because their ancestors were once slaves? My paternal ancestors came to this country to escape warfare and starvation in Europe in the 1850's. They never used the discrimination that they suffered as an excuse. They worked hard and lived life on he margins.

Perhaps if African American leaders would preach and practice personal responsibility rather than offer excuses for those many African-American young men who find earning an honest living too "white" and those young women who feel that unmarried and pregnant a mark of one's womanhood, the racial climate in this country would change.

However, as long as African Americans view themselves as victims and all whites as the slave masters, nothing will really change.

Thank you, cks.

Speaking of hypocrisy - - -

One of the most revealing moments in the 2008 presidential campaign occurred when America's best known "civil rights leader," Rev. Jesse Jackson, unaware he was talking into a live mike and before a taping TV camera, used the n-word and said he was so angry he wanted to rip off then Sen. Barack Obama testicals.

What had Obama done to so upset Jackson?

In a Father's Day address before a largely black congregation, Obama said a great many African-American males needed to take their fatherhood more seriously.

Fox News caught it all.

And where was "the firestorm of outrage" from our white liberal friends and our black friends?

I didn't hear anything much.

Did you?

The Chronicle’s “Recession Strategy” Story & Editorial

In a story headlined – “Brodhead presents recession strategy” - a Chronicle story today under editor-in-chief Chelsea Allison’s byline begins:

In "Message to the Duke Community," his second e-mail on financial matters in two months, President Richard Brodhead outlined Duke's response to the global economic turmoil.

Duke will be smaller, Brodhead noted, after changes are made to compensation, administrative costs, capital projects and hiring.

"We have entered a world very different from the one we have grown used to in recent years. In this new circumstance, Duke has no choice as to whether or not to reduce its expense base," the e-mail reads.

Duke faces a $125 million shortfall, necessitating budgetary tightening across the University. This year, total operating expenses increased by $136.7 million, to $1.96 billion.

The endowment is now valued at "just north of $4 billion," Executive Vice President Tallman Trask estimated in an interview Sunday, after sitting at $6.1 billion in June. Spending from the endowment constitutes about 15 to 16 percent of the operating budget-but all sources of revenue, from endowment payouts to philanthropic giving, have been depressed.

The shortfall figure essentially shrinks the budget, translating to a total close to that of 2004-2005, Trask said.

Officials hope to stretch the blow of the deficit across three years as they bridge the gap between revenues and costs.

"If we did it all in one year, it would be catastrophic," Trask said.

It is unclear when the economy will settle-but this strategy means the University will continue to feel ripple effects as the gap is closed.

Officials have hesitated in recent months to say that the recession would inhibit Duke's growth, but the University will be cutting back in a variety of ways: reducing expenses and fees, postponing projects and carrying a smaller workforce. …

"The bottom line is in three years out we've got to be down $125 million," he said.

As for taking on debt, Trask said the University will not employ this strategy.

"We're done," he said. …

The entire TC story’s here. President Brodhead's letter's here.

The Chronicle also editorialized: “The tough get going.”

As its title suggests, TC’s editorial is for the most part approving, even admiring, of what the university announced today. It doesn’t question anything President Brodhead said. Nor does it ask any serious questions about the financial management of the university in recent years.

The comment threads of both TC’s story and editorial make clear not everyone’s as unquestioning as TC or as willing to go along with what Brodhead, BOT chair Steel and VP Trask are now saying and doing.

Here are two examples from the editorial thread - - -

Roper @ 1:47 - - -

What possible justification can be made for the conclusion that, "In an unsurprising and prudent move, the University has decided to raise the cost of tuition by 3.9 percent for the next academic year".

It seems as though members of the Chronicle editorial board are either (a) so rich that they do not notice tuition increases, or (b) so completely on financial aid that they can ignore tuition increases.

In any event, it is always easy to approve of price increases that fall on another's shoulders.

It is ironic that your own Chronicle "online poll" shows that in-excess of 85% of the respondents believe that Duke students should receive a DECREASE in the cost of tuition, in recognition of the hardships now faced by many Duke families. Oh well... let them eat cake.

Willow Wind followed @ 1:50 - -

The 16% of respondents to the Chronicle poll disapproving of lower tuition for Duke students must be members of the Duke faculty and their spiritual cohorts, feeding at the University trough.


My Comments:

In both its news story and editorial today TC failed to mention the costs of the lawsuits resulting from the Steel/Brodhead team's inept and disgraceful actions and inactions in response to the lies of Crystal Mangum and Mike Nifong which gave rise to the attempt to frame three obviously innocent Duke students for gang rape and the ongoing cover-up of the frame attempt.

Sources tell me the suits have already cost Duke in the neighborhood of $50 million.

Where has the money to settle suits and defend Brodhead, Steele and the many other Duke defendants come from?

Where is it coming from now; and where will it come from going forward?

Many alums are disgusted with what the trustees, Brodhead, “Dick’s senior team,” and the faculty (all but a few excepted) did and didn’t do in Spring 2006.

Many alums say they’re particularly angry that university money is apparently now being spent to do nothing more than sustain the cover-up in order that Duke’s malefactors can avoid further exposure and any accountability.

TC’s silence concerning the costs of the suits no doubt helps the trustees, Brodhead, his “senior team,” and many of the faculty.

But it’s not helping Duke.

Duke's Enduring a Troubled Economy Website

As hosted at Duke News & Communications President Richard Brodhead's email today to the Duke community concerning the university's financial challenges and plans to meet them includes a description and link to a website the university has just established - - Enduring a Troubled Economy.

From Duke News' post - - -

The university is seeking your help in this process and has established a new website as a central location to keep you informed about what’s happening. You’ll find messages from university leaders, details about Duke’s efforts to manage expenses and information about how the situation is affecting higher education generally. You also can join the conversation by offering your own suggestions about how Duke might improve efficiency and cut costs.

To go to the website, click here.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

McClatchy's Bee Execs Didn’t Need The Latest Indignity

Execs at the liberal/leftist McClatchy News Co. have seen its stock share price plummet from the mid-$70s to penny status.

Current and former employees now comment at blogs slamming McClatchy execs for their mismanagement of the newspapers and for misleading employees about jobs, layoff plans, etc.

Financial analysts rate McClatchy’s bonds “junk;” and say its bankruptcy bound.

I’ve no sympathy for the execs at McClatchy's head office and its newspapers who’ve run McClatchy into the ground.

Still, I don’t think they needed the latest indignity heaped directly on some of them and indirectly on all McClatchy execs who've marched and spoke in lockstep with CEO Gary Pruitt.

McClatchy Watch tells about this latest indignity in “Beleaguered Sacramento Bee gets free advice from hippie councilperson from Davis”

City councilmember Sue Greenwald gave the execs at McClatchy’s flagship paper her plan for saving the Bee.

You can’t read her plan without realizing Greenwald thinks she knows best and that Bee execs are - - to use the Yiddish word for "jerk" - - schmucks.

Just look at some of what Greenwald said to them:

Newspapers and businesses have to learn how to advertise on the internet. There is no reason why on-line advertising, and hence revenues, should not be as effective as hard copy advertising. (Yes, Mom, I wrote it down as soon as the teacher told me. - - JinC)

I have been really missing the Safeway weekly specials and the Macy's sale ads since I went all-electronic. (
Greenwald’s telling Bee execs she let her print subscription expire or canceled it to go “all-electronic.” That from someone as liberal/leftist as the Bee itself. That had to hurt the execs.)

I have also been shopping less because of this, which is probably good for me but bad for the economy, bad for the businesses and bad for the newspapers.

I have noticed that you have some decent on-line ads. (Bee execs can’t take comfort from Greenwald’s saying they’ve “just started having some decent on-line ads. For years they've been telling McClatchy shareholders and Bee employees that’s just what they were bringing to Sacbee’s online site. That's what justified their positions and salaries.) . . .
There’s more of Greenwald’s lecture in McClatchy Watch’s post.

In my opinion Bee execs didn’t need Greenwald’s presumptive and condescending lecture to a group she must think are schmucks.

Bee execs surely know by now they’ve blown things big time.

But did the execs
deserve Greenwald’s lecture?

That’s a separate question.

How do you vote?

McClatchy Watch's post is here.

Revisiting True Blue's Kristin Butler's Nifong Trial Column

This week people seeking as just a resolution as possible to the Duke/Durham frame-up attempt and its ongoing cover-up heard the very good news Kristin Butler (T '08), an award winning former Chronicle columnist, and Ed Rickards (T '63 & Law '66), 1963 Chronicle editor-in-chief, have launched a blog, True Blue.

Their goal is "to provide information and analysis that will empower students, parents, faculty, staff and alumni to participate more full in the governance of Duke.

I plan to post tomorrow on some of the many contributions Rickards' has made to truth and light at Duke which during the Steel/Brodhead regime has become increasingly secretive.

Today I want to salute Butler and help introduce her to many of you who've begun following the Duke lacrosse case since she graduated Duke and began her law studies at Ohio State.

I'll do that by reposting a Sept. 2007 JinC post which includes extensive excerpts from her column concerning the just completed trial and sentencing of Mike Nifong for lying to the court.

Here it is - - -

Chronicle columnist and Duke senior Kristin Butler has plenty to say today about the Hoax case and Durham. Here are excerpts with some JinC commentary in italics.

Butler begins:

This was a sensational week for lacrosse case followers. Among other things, Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson's highly anticipated book was released Tuesday, lacrosse players demanded that Durham pay $30 million to cover its misdeeds and former Durham DA Mike Nifong even did his 24-hour stint in the pokey. […]

As expected, Nifong's contempt trial featured a litany of "only-in-Durham" moments. My personal favorite was when [Nifong] suggested (under oath) that Crystal Mangum's young son may have contributed some of the unidentified male DNA found on swabs taken from her panties, vagina and rectum.

Also extraordinary was the testimony of local judges Ron Stephens and Marcia Morey, who both supported the disgraced DA during the sentencing phase of his trial. Stephens, who initially presided over the case in Spring 2006, praised Nifong for (of all things!) "enforc[ing] the rules" and being "a good lawyer, a real good lawyer" whose "word was his bond."

Morey, by contrast, asserted that it was acceptable for prosecutors to willfully lie to the court during a pretrial hearing-a remarkable thing for a judge (who has presumably studied the law at some point in her career) to say. Morey was later seen marching with Nifong as he entered the Durham County Detention Center to serve his sentence, where she was joined by 20 supporters carrying signs that read "We believe in your integrity and goodness." […]
Let’s excuse the 20 supporters as people with very strong beliefs formed in very mushy brains.

Such people often wind up supporting the Nifongs of this world.

But what about the judges? They’re not supposed to have mushy brains.

And their strong beliefs are supposed to include commitments to justice and a willingness to cleanse the court system of those who trample on innocent citizens.

Do Judges Stephens and Morey have any idea what their “hosannas” for Nifong told thoughtful citizens about them and what “justice in Durham” must really be like?

Morey’s statements about what’s OK in her courtroom deserve attention from the NC State Bar.

Message to Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson: I hope your next book is about the Durham court system. Suggested title: “Anything Goes.”

Butler continues:
When I hear such things, I wonder how Durham officials expect us to have any confidence in this county's justice system at all.

Over the past 18 months we've seen a succession of judges, assistant district attorneys, police officers, city council members and other high-ranking officials (like City Manager Patrick Baker and Chief of Police Steve Chalmers) lining up to support or cover for Nifong.

Even newly appointed interim DA David Saacks-who is widely described as moderate and relatively untainted by the scandal-appeared on Nifong's behalf at the contempt trial.

For these highly educated, ostensibly well-respected people to defend Nifong after everything he's done-after all, the man was willing to send three young men to prison for 30 years to save his pension-is a disgrace, and one that reaffirms many Duke students' deeply held mistrust of this county's justice system.

That's why I hope settlement talks for Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and Dave Evans will encourage the reforms that city officials have neglected. It was widely reported last week that the three are seeking $30 million from the city, and I hope they get every penny.[…]
Butler’s entire column is here. I hope you read it.

Here's True Blue.

Commenter’s Respond to Holder’s Racial Stereotyping

If you’ve read Obama administration attorney general Eric Holder’s Feb. 18 speech (linked here), you know he believes Americans are “a nation of cowards” because we fail, in his judgment, to openly, fully and freely discuss race.

But JinC posts here, here, and here.

Those posts contain fact-based refutations by Americans and people from overseas who expose the racial stereotyping that oozes throughout Holder's speech.

In this post I want to share parts or all of comments some JinC readers have made concerning what Holder foisted on Americans when he made clear that for him the terms of any discussion about race in America should be predicated on the “blacks are victims; whites are oppressors” mantra.

That's rot!

Commenters are in italics; I respond in plain.

From Tarheel Hawkeye - - -

On Fox News Brit Hume said something quite perceptive on the Holder "coward" pronouncement.

Why isn't there more dialog? Hume posits the reason is because whenever a White person opines on race, the race hustlers immediately pull out the "Racist" label and begin whining about how bad the poor Black people have been treated, blah, blah, blah. ….

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I’m no longer interested in any dialog under Holder's conditions--I don't give a damn about race relations any more. If that makes me a coward, then so be it.

Brit Hume is describing reality and you're not a coward, something I think you know.

You just don’t want to get into what’s not a serious and respectful dialogue, but is instead a “you’re bad and I gotcha” rhetorical exercise.

People of all races set up that kind of “dialogue.”

It’s too bad AG Holder passed on the opportunity to initiate a genuine dialogue.

Lyn said - - -

About the quote Holder lists all those black celebrities - he concluded blacks and Whites alike should be grateful. No thanks Holder.

You, Holder, are not going to call White Americans cowards and then speak for all of us and say we owe black celebrities a debt of gratitude.

My reading of Holder’s speech is that his “nation of cowards” slur didn’t distinguish between blacks and whites.

But overall, his speech certainly did with blacks the “good guys” and “heroes” and whites . . . (you know the rest - - JinC)

The most important point I took from Lyn’s comment is this: did Holder think intelligent Americans would miss his blatant dismissal of the heroic actions by millions of white across the centuries to liberate and in other ways aid their black brothers and sisters?

Anon @ 10:16 - - -

Any time Eric Holder or any other politician of any color wants to "discuss" race relations with me I'm ready. He/She may not like the questions I ask, and I've been called a racist before so that doesn't work anymore either. Let's go, Eric.

I think you know, Anon, Holder won’t join the kind of discussion that would involve consideration of whether, for example, race-preferences are good America.

Who believes Holder will discuss fully and honestly what it tells us about race in America when Jesse Jackson called then Sen. Barack a “n-word;” went on to say he wanted to rip off Obama’s testicles off; and there was no “firestorm of outrage” from the black community,” the PC “hate speech” crowd a/k/a liberals, or the “Anything For Obama” media?

More reader comments on the main page tomorrow.

Thanks to all of you who've commented on Holder's "a nation of cowards" speech.