Friday, March 20, 2009

The Churchill Series - Mar. 20, 2009

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

On May 14, 1940, four days after Churchill became Prime Minister, one of the private secretaries he’d inherited from Neville Chamberlain’s office recorded in his diary a concern that Churchill was:

listening to the alarmist, and, I think untrustworthy opinions of Mr. Kennedy.
The secretary needn’t have been concerned.

Churchill listened to the American Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy as a matter of diplomatic courtesy. He knew Kennedy had been an appeaser and was now a defeatist who was predicting Britain would be forced to negotiate a peace on German terms..

Churchill deplored and distrusted Kennedy. Since shortly after he returned to government in September, 1939, he had bypassed Kennedy on important matters and corresponded directly with FDR. Churchill also met with American officials from Washington. Not only was Kennedy often not included in those meetings, frequently he wasn’t even given summaries of what was discussed.

By late October, 1940, when Kennedy returned to America, he was so angry that there was talk he might in the closing days of the presidential campaign publicly endorse FDR's Republican opponent, Wendell Wilkie.

Like Churchill, Roosevelt distrusted Kennedy. Unlike Churchill, FDR by 1940 had a dislike for Kennedy that bordered on hatred. But politics is politics and Roosevelt knew Kennedy's support would be important as he battled for an unprecedented third term. So Kennedy and his wife, Rose, were invited to dine at the White House with the Roosevelts and a few other “old and valued friends.”

Roosevelt biographer Conrad Black tells us a little about the evening:
Kennedy complained bitterly of the way he had been treated by the State Department, not informed at all of the destroyers deal, and left out while emissaries like [Asst. Sec. of State Sumner] Welles came through London without any consultation with the ambassador.

Roosevelt took up this theme, blasted the “officious men” responsible, and said Kennedy was being charitable. Only the war crisis had prevented Roosevelt from taking draconian measures against these insolent people, he said, and after the election there would be a “good housecleaning” to ensure the old and valued friends and the most important members of the administration like Kennedy were not treated in this way.

Roosevelt purported to accept Kennedy’s preposterous claims to absolute loyalty, to early and consistent support of the third term, and the virtual indispensability to Roosevelt and his family. The whole exchange was an allegorization of self-delusion by Kennedy and of cunning manipulation by Roosevelt.
By the end of dinner Kennedy had agreed to endorse FDR which he did two days later in a national radio address.

I don’t doubt the “dinner conversation” had something to do with that. More important, I think, was Kennedy’s awareness that a bolt to Wilkie would hurt the budding political career of his oldest son and namesake.

Shortly after the election, Kennedy resigned his post.

In August 1944 Joseph P. Kennedy Jr was killed in action while serving as a Navy pilot. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.
Conrad Black,
Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Follow the index for Churchill and Kennedy. The White House dinner is described on pg. 591. The diary entry by one of Churchill's private secretaries is found on pg. 339 of Martin Gilbert's Finest Hour: 1939-1941.

Should Obama’s Pick Make UNC Fans Nervous?

With tongue planted firmly in cheek, blogger and former N&O business editor Dan Gearino began a post today - - -

President Barack Obama has picked the University of North Carolina Tar Heels to win the NCAA basketball tournament.

Considering how well Obama has done with his other various choices since taking office, this should make the Heels very, very nervous.

For starters, the chances have just spiked up dramatically that we’ll learn UNC coach Roy Williams sort of, kind of forgot to pay his income taxes for a few years.

Then we’ll find out that UNC, a la AIG, quietly paid hapless former football coach John Bunting a million-dollar retention bonus — and did so last week, long after he’d actually left.

Also, don’t be surprised if, after Obama’s next mention of his plan for health-care reform, Ty Lawson’s ailing big toe falls off from fright. ...

There’s more in Gearino’s post here including his suggestion for how the Heels should handle their #1 pick by President Obama.

Obama's Iran Speech: We Saw - They Saw

At Something ... And Half Of Something comes a post - - -

"We saw... They saw" which begins:

I didn't bother to watch the TV clips of Obamessiah’s special message to Iran on the occasion of Nowruz, which I'm told is a holiday that celebrates the first day of spring and the New Year in many countries. I didn't watch because I don't think it's possible for me to care less and besides, I don't watch TV.

However, I did happen to catch an interesting post about it over at Mark Finkelstein's blog, not only did he watch it, Mark did a little research on it.

Turns out, the White House released more than one video of Obama's speech.

If you're an American and you watched it here in America, you would have seen Obamessiah looking like this:

If you're an Iranian, and you watched it over there in Iran, you would have seen Obamessiah looking like this:

Well. How do you like that?

The Obamessiah edited the video to make the American Flag completely disappear from the background before sending his message to the mullahs and Amadinejad, and not only that, but Obamessiah cropped it so close, so tight that the subtitles manage to cover up the American Flag lapel pin through pretty much all of the clip as well.

Seems like the Obamessiah went to an awful lot of trouble to wipe that video clean of all American symbolism to avoid offending his new friends.

What a shameful, cowardly and despicable thing for the President of the United States of America to do.

UPDATE: Just to be clear, for those of you who have asked "is it possible that Iran had the flag voided before transmitting the message rather than Obama's team doing it?"

I guess you didn't follow the link back to Mark Finkelstein's site. I put the link there because I meant for you to go to his site and read his post.

The rest of Something ... And Half Of Something's post is here.

Folks, the Louisiana Wise Man has been trying to get me to pay more attention to Finkelstein.

Something ... And Half Of Something's post has done that.

I'll look in at Finkelstein's blog every day for the next week, and often thereafter.

I hope you will too, and that you'll also give me a heads up on anything important you think I've missed at his blog.

In the meantime, let's see what President Obama's craven MSM flacks do with this story.

My bet on that question: The Obama White House will say nothing unless forced to by pressure from the "new media."

Stay tuned.

Hat tip: AC

Law Prof: Dodd Has No Excuse

At her eponymous blog, U. of Wisc. Law Professor Ann Althouse posts:

Christopher Dodd: "Had I known at the time that there were any A.I.G. bonuses involved..."

"... that this was somehow going to assist in that matter — I would have rejected it completely."
She follows that with four concise, spot on sentences:
An impossibly lame excuse. It's his job to know. He holds a public trust. Which he doesn't deserve.

Folks, Dodd’s a sleaze bag who's been ripping off the public for years.

Most of what we’re learning now isn’t new. It’s just that “the rock’s been lifted” when the public’s finally paying attention.

Btw - Take a look at Althouse’s post’s comment thread. It’s got some zingers on it.

Hat tip: Instapundit

Dem AIG "Freak Show;" Obama's Special Remark & More

A friend wrote me today - - -

Ed Morrissey has a pretty damning posting at Hot Air proving that Congress and the Administration knew all about the AIG bonuses as early as March 3rd.

Ed comments:

This whole episode has been a farce perpetrated by Congress and the administration to stoke artificial outrage over contractual compensation obligations. It’s a freak show put on by Democrats. They’re giving us populist circuses in order to build a mob mentality — but for what purpose?

What purpose, indeed. Obama and the Dems seem to think they can get away with anything, and maybe they can if the MSM doesn’t start doing its job.

Which makes thisWaPo column even more absurd on its face. Watchdogs of government? If it weren’t for bloggers we might not know about this at all.

There’s also a new blog out that’s a hoot. Obama’s teleprompter has starting giving us “Reflections from the hard drive of the machine that enables the voice of the Leader of the Free World.” Even Peggy Noonan has picked up on it:

It's bummed that it has to work a news conference next week instead of watching "American Idol," it resents being dragged to L.A. in Air Force One's cargo hold "with the more common electronic equipment." It also Twitters: "We are in California! One of the interns gave my panels a quick scrub and I'm ready to prompt for the day." And: "Waiting for my boss's jokes to get loaded for Leno!"

As we saw on Leno, Obama’s gaffes are starting to become the stuff of legend. And if he weren’t poised to do so much damage, it would be fun to just sit back and watch. Apparently he was serious about charging wounded vets for treatment, and now there’s this.

It’s another classic example of the Dems taking a bead on the evil health insurance industry and hitting the Medicare generation (me in a couple of years) right between the eyes.

Petition Opposing Award To Rep. Murtha

Roger Simon posts - - -

When I read the following email, I clicked posthaste on the link to sign the petition. (I don’t think I’ve ever been number 4 on a petition before, but the outrage was immediate. I think when you read it, you will want to sign too. But if by some remote chance you dither, remember this video of the man our Navy has seen fit to celebrate. But read the email first. That should suffice.)


Congressman John Murtha was recently awarded the Department of the Navy’s highest public service award for non-employees by the Secretary of the Navy. This is an outrage. As you probably know, John Murtha has been the worst of a bad lot in Congress who exploited those serving in combat for political purposes.

He was the most outspoken member of Congress in aggressively attacking Marines as “cold blooded killers” who “murdered women and children” after the Haditha incident in November, 2005, BEFORE AN INVESTIGATION WAS EVEN CONDUCTED. In fact, he slandered the Marines to such an extent, and with such disregard for the truth, that one of them sued him for libel (rumor says there’s another libel suit to come soon).

It is inconceivable that the Secretary of the Navy would give such an award to such a man, yet it happened not two weeks ago with muted response.

I have created an online petition to express our outrage and disgust and I’m asking you to join me in signing it.

Please use the link below to visit the petition and sign it; it will take less than two minutes.

Additionally, please send it on to everyone you know who cares about the reputation of our active duty military and combat veterans, we can’t allow this to pass by unnoticed. Once we receive enough signatures, it will be noticed. It is essential that you forward on the link to others, it’s the only way this will generate momentum.

Please take a few minutes to make sure that this petition doesn’t stop with you.

Fight Back

Semper Fi

The link to the petition is here

Folks, I signed the petition last night. It's an easy process.

While you must give an email address for verification, you can request it remain private.

When I signed there were already more than 6,000 electronic signatures.

I've posted often on Murtha- not only on his outrageous slanders of our Marines, but also his swimming for decades in the political scoundrel's sleaze pool

I'll post on Murtha and the petition drive again tomorrow.

A big thank you to the Anon commenter who was the first to alert me to the petition; to Instapundit for linking to Simon; and to Simon for his post.

AP's AIG Story Today Gives White House A Pass

The AP reports this morning - - -

The case of the missing AIG bonus limits has become a tale of political intrigue and Democratic infighting that could threaten the re-election chances of a top senator and the credibility -- if not the career -- of one of President Obama's top advisers.

As the House passed new legislation Thursday to crack down on the outrage-inspiring bonuses, Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, the Banking Committee chairman, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner engaged in finger-pointing about who was responsible for Congress' failure to prevent them in the first place.

Dodd, a five-term senator, was already facing a tough re-election contest in 2010. He says the Obama administration insisted he modify his proposal to rein in bonuses at companies getting billions of dollars in financial bailouts so that it would only apply to payments agreed to in the future -- thus clearing the way for the AIG payouts.

It was that or have his executive pay limits dropped altogether from the $787 billion stimulus measure that passed last month, Dodd says.

He agreed to the changes "in order to preserve the amendment," Dodd told reporters Thursday. "They sought it; I didn't. They asked for the changes ... and so we agreed to those changes."

Geithner said Thursday that his staff merely pointed out that without the change, the government risked being sued by executives in line to get big bonuses from bailout recipients.

"What we did is just express concern about the vulnerability of a specific part of this provision, the legal challenge, as you would expect us to do. That's part of the legislative process," he told CNN.

The treasury chief also appeared to back away from the administration's previous assertion that Geithner first learned of the bonuses last week. Interviewed on CNN, Geithner said only that he "learned of the full scale and scope of these specific" bonus payments at that point.

Both men had positive things to say about each other despite the dispute over who watered down the bill.

"He has the president's support and backing and he has mine at this point," Dodd said of Geithner.

Geithner told CNN that Dodd "has played an enormously important leadership role in this, and he's doing the right thing." ...

The entire AP story's here.

The most notable thing about it?

It avoids any mention of President Obama or his top staffers' involvement in crafting the bonus loophole (or whatever you want to call it).

But you know a legislative veteran like Dodd isn't going to do what he did just at Geithner's request.

Dodd surely, either directly or through a member of his staff, checked with The White House to make sure this is what Team Obama wanted.

He'd do that not only for CYA, but to pick up a "big favor chip" of the kind only White House top staffers and President Obama could later "cash."

We don't yet know the half of what went on.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Churchill Series - Mar. 19, 2009

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

In yesterday's post I quoted from Jon Meacham's Franklin and Winston something FDR is alleged to have said of Churchill in 1939:

“I always disliked him since the time I went to England in 1917 or 1918,” Roosevelt said to Joseph P. Kennedy, the American ambassador to Britain, in a conversation in 1939. “At a dinner I attended he acted like a stinker.”
Kennedy is the only source of that quote.

I can accept that Roosevelt may have said it, but if he did, I doubt he meant it.

FDR often told visitors what they wanted to hear. He knew Kennedy disliked Churchill intensely.

FDR had his eye on the 1940 presidential election and knew Kennedy’s support would be very helpful with Irish-American Catholic voters.

Now let’s consider some events which make me skeptical FDR meant what he may have said about Churchill.

In September, 1939 FDR did something extraordinary. He reached out to Churchill who had just been made First Lord of the Admiralty.

In a letter sent directly to Churchill, FDR said given their common experiences in WW I as administrators of their countries navies, he wanted Churchill to feel free to correspond directly with him on matters about which Churchill felt FDR should be informed and might be helpful.

As far as I know, it was a presidential act without precedent in the Anglo-American relationship.

America’s head of state bypassed the British head of state, King George VI; the head of British government, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain; Britain’s Foreign Office; our State Department and America’s Ambassador in Britain, Joseph P Kennedy; all to invite a member of the Prime Minister’s cabinet to correspond directly with him.

FDR knew Churchill had for years been the Prime Minister's and the Government’s fiercest and most outspoken critic.

FDR not only proposed direct correspondence with Churchill, he wanted it to be confidential, something the British government agreed to after discussions.

Later in September 1939 FDR was reading intelligence reports. He noticed one item suggesting German subs might be planning to attack a British passenger ship.

Normally such intelligence was passed to the British “through channels.”

But FDR decided in this case to do something unusual. He telephoned Churchill directly at his home and delivered the warning. I believe it was their first phone conversation.

There’s more I could cite, but I'm sure you can see why I’m skeptical FDR felt Churchill was a "stinker," although I would not doubt he led old Joe Kennedy to think he did.

What About All That "Adfad?"

This morning the post The Job Of A Journalist & The Duke Lacrosse Case began:

Former Raleigh News & Observer columnist Dennis Rogers recently made a number of false statements including claiming commenters here. See adfad adfad adfafda
Just after Noon today I changed the start of the post to:
Former Raleigh News & Observer columnist Dennis Rogers recently made a number of false statements concerning some of this blog's posts and its readers' commenters. See Former N&O Columnist Told: "Look To Yourself."
The change occurred because an Anon commenter asked, “What?”

I thanked the commenter on the thread and say “thank you” again for the question.

I also need to say “Sorry” to Ryan Paige who’s outstanding comment formed the bulk of today’s post and to JinC readers.

How did my stumble occur?

I rushed this morning to get the post up and did not properly proof.

And what was “See adfad adfad adfafda” about?

When I’m drafting a post in which I intend to link to a previous post I usually don’t have the link to that previous post at hand and often can’t recall its title.

All the “adfad” is a "blank" where I’ll later place the link and the post title.

There you are.

Thanks for your understanding.

This Made Me Smile

Mark Twain:

Homer is dead.
Shakespeare's dead.
And I myself am not feeling too well.

Barone: Dem-GOP Generic Ballot Gap Narrows

Blogging at U. S. News & World Report’s Thomas Jefferson Street, Michael Barone, one of America’s top political analysts, says Republicans - - -

have the lead in the generic ballot in the Rasmussen poll and are running even in that question in the latest NPR poll. The Republican lead in Rasmussen is 41-39 percent, with Democrats at the low end of the 39-50 percent range they've been over the past year and Republicans at the top end of their 34-41 percent range.

Is this just statistical noise? Quite possibly. But if I were chairman of the NRCC I would sure be looking at targeting a whole lot more races than I had imagined I would three months ago.

Rasmussen tells me that he has been tracking this question since January 2004 and that "Occasional polls may have shown the Rs ahead, but it's been a long time." He agrees that this may just be statistical noise, but notes that the gap between the parties has closed since the November 2008 election, and that that is more the result of the Democratic number sagging than of the Republican number rising.

The NPR poll similarly finds party identification today at 42-42 percent, as compared to 51-40 percent Democratic in October 2006. Note that this also represents a decline for Democrats, not a gain for Republicans.

The rest of Barone’s post’s here. It includes a caution for the Rs and more.

The Job Of A Journalist & The Duke Lacosse Case

Former Raleigh News & Observer columnist Dennis Rogers recently made a number of false statements concerning some of this blog's posts and its readers commenters. See Former N&O Columnist Told: "Look To Yourself."

Here, without any further comment from me, is what JinC reader Ryan Paige wrote in response to Rogers - - -

I was amazed at the cruelty and mean spirits exhibited by the News and Observer (and Dennis Rogers in particular) when it came to the Duke Lacrosse case.

The job of a journalist (columnists included) is to seek the truth. The truth. Not the convenient truth. Not the truth that serves the narrative you wish to call attention to. Not the truth only so far as it serves your world view or the story you want to tell.

Did you ever once consider what your casual disregard for the truth meant, not only to those who were falsely accused of a crime that never happened, but also to those who have to work that much harder to regain the public's trust that you so casually threw away with your blatant disregard for facts and reality?

Those people who work so hard for middle class salaries - who sweep the floors and drive trucks and do all the other things to bring the news to the public? They were all counting on you and other journalists at your paper to be honest, and you just couldn't be bothered.

And now the ship is sinking, and it's at least partially your fault, Mr. Rogers. Shouldn't you be crafting a heartfelt apology to them rather than chastising the lot of us for finding some degree of justice in the current mess your former paper now finds itself in?

Perhaps had you and your colleagues handled the story in an honest fashion (actually reporting rather than printing some half-remembered claim from someone who was provably lying); perhaps had you been appropriately outraged at the corruption in Durham during this case, maybe we'd all be joining in lamenting the precarious position the N&O now finds itself in.

Of course, maybe if the N&O had those kinds of reporters working there back in 2006, they wouldn't be in quite as precarious a situation now.

Ryan Paige

On AIG Dodd Points At Obama Administation

Politico last evening headlined - - "Dodd facing fresh political firestorm" – followed by a story which began:

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) looks like he may be facing a fresh political firestorm.

Dodd just admitted on CNN that he inserted a loophole in the stimulus legislation that allowed million-dollar bonuses to insurance giant AIG to go forward – after previously denying any involvement in writing the controversial provision.

“We wrote the language in the bill, the deal with bonuses, golden parachutes, excessive executive compensation that was adopted unanimously by the United States Senate in the stimulus bill,” Dodd told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer this afternoon.
“But for that language, there would have been no language to deal with this at all.”

Dodd had previously said that he played no role in writing the controversial language, and was not a part of the conference committee that inserted the language in the bill. As late as today, Dodd’s spokeswoman denied the senator’s involvement.

The rest of Politico's story's here.

It sure sounded like Dodd was the number one AIG "bad guy."

But then Dodd, who must know he’s in jeopardy of losing his Senate seat next year, released a statement that amounts to: Don’t blame me; I only did what the Obama administration wanted. And Obama can get that bonus money back from AIG if he wants to.

Dodd's statement follows in full as added to the Politico story as an Update.

“I’m the one who has led the fight against excessive executive compensation, often over the objections of many. I did not want to make any changes to my original Senate-passed amendment but I did so at the request of Administration officials, who gave us no indication that this was in any way related to AIG. Let me be clear – I was completely unaware of these AIG bonuses until I learned of them last week.

“Reports that I changed my position on this issue are simply untrue. I answered a question by CNN last night regarding whether or not a specific date was aimed at protecting AIG. When I saw that my comments had been misconstrued, I felt it was important to set the record straight – that this had nothing to do with AIG.

“Fortunately, we wrote this amendment in a way that allows the Treasury Department to go back and review these bonus contracts and seek to recover the money for taxpayers. Again, I have led the fight to curb excessive executive compensation, and will continue to do so.”

Folks, there’s clearly a need for a thorough investigation of the AIG bonuses, the conflicting stories we’re being told, and so much more concerning the scandalous government mismanagement of billions of the bailout money.

But who would you trust in The White House or Congress to do the investigating?

The Churchill Series - Mar. 18, 2009

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

Yesterday we looked at some of what Jon Meacham said in
Franklin and Winston about Churchill and Roosevelt's first meeting in July 1918 at a formal London dinner. FDR attended in his capacity as Assistant Secretary of the Navy and delivered a brief speech. Today, more about that meeting and some of what followed.

Here's more from Meacham:

In later years, Churchill would not recall meeting the American visitor. Roosevelt certainly recalled meeting Churchill, however, and long remembered Churchill’s brusqueness. “I always disliked him since the time I went to England in 1917 or 1918,” Roosevelt said to Joseph P. Kennedy, the American ambassador to Britain, in a conversation in 1939. “At a dinner I attended he acted like a stinker.” Roosevelt and Churchill would not be in contact again for another twenty-one years. When they were, Churchill, not Roosevelt, would be the one sounding the trumpet about the indispensability of an “intimate personal relationship.”
Every historian I've read on the subject says Churchill didn't remember their first meeting and FDR was bothered by that. I don't doubt what the historians say.

As to whether FDR told Kennedy in 1939 that he'd disliked Churchill for acting like "a stinker" at the dinner, I want to pause and consider with you.

Kennedy is the source of that remark, which FDR may very well have made.

The question is did FDR really mean what he said about Churchill, or was he perhaps doing a little play-acting for Kennedy?

We know Roosevelt wasn't above such things. In fact, we know that, along with his many admirable virtues, FDR frequently lied to people if doing so advanced his aims.

In 1939 Kennedy was an outspoken appeaser and critic of Churchill. FDR needed Kennedy's support in the 1940 presidential election. Kennedy was the country's best known Irish-American and Catholic.

You can see what FDR might have been doing.

Tomorrow I'll say some more about the interplay in 1939/40 among FDR, Joe Kennedy and Churchill.

For all Joe Kennedy's drive, intelligence, ruthlessness, and experience, he was no match for Churchill or for FDR, who used Kennedy 1940 for his political ends and then abandoned him.
The quote from Meacham's book can be found here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

But What About Obama, Dodd, Frank And The Rest?

Tonight the AP headlines:

Fannie Mae plans bonuses of up to $611,000 for 4 executives; Freddie Mac has similar plans
The story's here.

It's no surprise. We expect this sort of thing from our Democratic Party run government.

In fact, Dem Sen. Chuck Schumer recently assured his Senate colleagues "the American people don't care."

Question: Do you think Freddie and Frannie will leave enough in their piggy banks to shell out for President Obama's 2012 reelection campaign and Sen. Dodd and Rep. Frank's 2010 reelection campaigns?

They'd better because Sen. Reid and Speaker Pelosi won't like it if they don't.

Then we'll see some real outrage from the leaders of the party of "the little people."

Obama’s Latest History-making

Britain’s Daily Mail headlines:

Obama to make history with Leno as he becomes the first sitting president to appear on chat show
It’s story begins:
Barack Obama will become the first sitting U.S. president to appear on a late night chat show tomorrow when he is a guest of comedian and writer Jay Leno.

While most of the people on The Tonight show will promote a film or record, Mr Obama will be pushing his economic rescue plan for America.

Critics accused him of dumbing down the presidency and of blurring the line between politics and entertainment….
The rest of DM’s story’s here.

Who’s really surprised by President Obama’s latest?

But if a year ago you’d said that less than two months into his presidency Obama would be guesting on Leno's show, the MSM Dem hacks would've called you a - - you know.

Hat tip: Drudge Report

WSJ’s Tribute To Ron Silver

Tony Award winner Ron Silver died from cancer Sunday at age 62. Today the WSJ paid tribute to him noting:

... Silver's most notable legacy was his real-life political activism. A self-described life-long liberal, Silver rallied to the defense of his country and his hometown, New York City, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Three years later, he spoke at the Republican National Convention in New York, reminding his audience that "This is a war we did not seek. This is a war waged against us. This is a war to which we had to respond."

He had held similarly hawkish views during the Cold War, and he rebutted those who see America as little different than its enemies: "History shows that we are not imperialists."

By his own account, he suffered professionally for those convictions, but he sought no sympathy for whatever price he may have paid in Hollywood for his stand on the war on terror or his vocal criticism of the United Nations, about which he made a documentary in 2005.

In "Broken Promises," Silver held the U.N. to account for its failure to live up to its stated ideals, even as his acting colleagues derided President Bush for using military force against tyrants.
The entire tribute’s here.

I’m sure Silver paid a price in Hollywood where the bash-America first, most and always crowd dominates.

Ron Silver, RIP.

Will Obama, McCain, Dodd Return AIG Campaign Contributions?

An ABC News story begins - - -

AIG employees kept doling out donations to politicians, including presidential candidate Barack Obama, after getting bailed out with federal funds last year, raising the question of whether those politicians will now return the money.

AIG executives gave more than $630,000 during the 2008 political cycle even as the company was falling apart.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign finance reports, more than $120,000 of that money was donated after AIG received its first $85 billion in federal bailout funds in September. The company has since received a total of $170 billion in taxpayer cash to prevent its collapse.

Their generosity included more than $23,000 to Obama's campaign.

Both Obama and Republican presidential candidate John McCain raked in much larger sums from AIG earlier in the year. Obama collected a total of $130,000 from AIG in 2008, while McCain accepted a total of $59,499.

The rest of the story’s here

It’s a reminder of how much of “the outrage” we’re hearing from politicians of both parties is just self-serving blather intended to fool the public. For most Washington politicians, AIG and other large companies are cash cows they milk often.

ABC’s story also reminded me of the myth the “Anything for Obama” MSM often peddled last year about how most of then Sen. Obama’s campaign funds were in the form of small contributions from ordinary citizens inspired by Hope and Change. (See Where's Obama's money coming from? - Apr. 6, 2008)

Former N&O Columnist Told “Look To Yourself”

In March 2006 Dennis Rogers was a news columnist for McClatchy’s Raleigh News & Observer when the N&O’s blatantly biased, racially inflammatory and sometimes deliberately fraudulent coverage ignited the Duke lacrosse witch hunt.

By late April 2006 sensible people realized that what was then called “the Duke lacrosse rape scandal” was, in fact, a frame-up attempt involving some Durham prosecutors, some of its police, and many others.

But Rogers was not one of the sensible people. As late as August ’06 he penned a column in which he made what he knew was a serious and false charge about the three innocent Duke students then under indictment for gang rape and other felonies. In the same column Rogers went on to smear the entire Duke Men’s lacrosse team (See A Look Back At Former N&O'er Dennis Rogers. )

That was then. What about now?

Lately Rogers has been making false statements and in other ways smearing those he says are responsible for the problems journalists like him and others who work at the N&O are now experiencing.

Along with his falsehoods, Rogers’ recent comments are noteworthy for the generosity with which he self-righteously lathers himself and his spews of anger, all he claims in defense of “N&O people.”

Rogers’ drive-by comments reveal no sense of responsibility for the problems he and journalists like him have helped bring on themselves and others who did nothing wrong but whose misfortune it’s been to work alongside them.

Here in full and italics is a comment Rogers recently left at this blog followed in plain by edited portions of a JinC commenter’s response to Rogers.

Dennis Rogers said:

I probably shouldn't be but I am nonetheless amazed at the cruelty and mean spirits displayed on this website.

You may or may not like the N&O, its employees or Melanie Sill but to wish them and their families the suffering and strain of unemployment is simply beyond the pale. I vehemently disagree with most of what appears on this blog, but I would never wish ill to those who support it.

N&O people are not privileged elites. They work hard for middle class salaries. Not only are they the writers and editors who work hard to throw crooks like Jim Black and Meg Scott Phipps in prison, they are people who sweep floors, take care of administration, drive trucks, maintain equipment and a hundred other skills. They're honest, hard working people who don't deserve to be thrown out to the cheers of those on this blog.

You should be ashamed of yourselves, but from what I've seen, I doubt you. And unlike you cowards, I will sign my name to my words, as I did for 31 years.

Dennis Rogers, N&O columnist 1976-2007

Well, there's Dennis Rogers.

Now Phil Smart responding from Johannesburg, SA:

Dear Dennis

I probably shouldn't be but I am nonetheless amazed at the cruelty and mean spirits displayed by the N&O, its editorial staff (Melanie Sill, John Drescher, Linda Williams Ted Vaden et al), its reporting staff (Anne Blythe, Samiha Kahana, Ruth “You Know, We Know You Know” Sheehan, etc) and in its columns and posts (Barry Saunders, Linda Williams, Ruth Sheehan, Melanie Sill, Ted Vaden and you, Dennis)!

I neither personally like nor dislike the N&O, its above mentioned staff, or its other employees, but I wish to point out to them and their families that the suffering and strain of unemployment that N&O employees are currently facing is in some significant measure the result of the N&O’s Duke lacrosse editorial and reporting cowardice and ideological bias.

I sometimes agree and sometimes disagree with what appears on and in the N&O with the notable exception of its Duke lacrosse coverage, so essential to the frame-up attempt and the very great harm that’s been done to so many innocent people.

Dennis, you can only push readers so far, before they start pushing back and deserting you.

Look to yourself - Dennis, and the part you played in the N&O's demise, before excoriating those bloggers and commenters who are not so sympathetic to the current terminal writhings of the N&O.

This is not about the N&O people who are not the privileged elites. It is not about those who work hard for middle class salaries.

It is about the reporters, writers and editors who worked so hard to throw innocent (and demonstrably so) persons like Reade Seligmann, Dave Evans and Collin Finnerty in jail for a "crime" that never happened; that worked so hard to perpetuate the frame of those young men by former and now disgraced DA Mike Nifong and others at Duke and in Durham.

It’s about those who trashed and even now continue to trash the other Lacrosse players who are finally seeking justice through the courts.

I sympathize with N&O employees who sweep floors, take care of administration, drive trucks, maintain equipment and a hundred other skills. They're honest, hard working people who, I wholeheartedly agree, don't deserve to be thrown out on the street.

I agree with John there are honest, able reporters and editors at the N&O who did nothing to hurt the paper or the community.

I defy you to substantiate from any part of this blog, or any comment made here that supports your hyperbolic "to the cheers of those on this blog" statement. (What happened to dispassionate, subtle and nuanced reporting - Dennis?)

They are the collateral damage caused by years and years of pernicious socialist bias against the very system that allows you the "freedom of speech" you and your editorial and management colleagues have for so long hidden behind and abused.

You and most of the rest of the N&O editorial and news management staff should be ashamed of yourselves.

But from what I've seen, I doubt you or the N&O will ever apologise to your readers and those "middle management" staff and other workers whom you profess to hold so dear.

You call the people at JinC "cowards” and boast you sign your name to your words, as you’ve done for 31 years.

Well whoop de do - Dennis!

Phil Smart, Johannesburg SA.

Not an N&O columnist since 1953.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Churchill Series - Mar. 17, 2009

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

Many people believe Churchill and FDR meet for the first time at the White House in December 1941; others believe their first meeting was at Placentia Bay, Newfoundland in August 1941 at what's come to be called the Atlantic Charter Conference.

As some of you no doubt know, their first meeting was at a dinner on July 29, 1918 at Gray’s Inn, London.

Jon Meacham, author of
Franklin and Winston, tells us something about the event:

In the opening hours of a mission to wartime Europe in July 1918, Franklin Roosevelt, then thirty-six and working for the Navy Department, looked over a typewritten “Memorandum For Assistant Secretary” to discover what was in store for him in London. Reading the schedule’s description of his evening engagement for Monday, July 29, Roosevelt learned that he was “to dine at a function given for the Allied Ministers Prosecuting the War.”

Hosted by F. E. Smith, a government minister and good friend of Winston Churchill’s, the banquet was held in the hall of Gray’s Inn in London. It was a clear evening-the wind was calm-and Roosevelt and Churchill, the forty-three-year-old former first lord of the Admiralty who was then minister of munitions, mingled among the guests below a portrait of Elizabeth I. […]

The Gray’s Inn dinner was a glittering occasion, with high British officials going out of their way to pay homage to Roosevelt as the representative of their American ally. […]

Then Roosevelt — to his “horror,” he said-was unexpectedly asked to say a few words. He stumbled a bit as he began. Uncertainly, trying to find the right note, Roosevelt said he had been “given to understand that I should not be called upon to speak” and in his nervousness, looking around at the faces of his hosts, began to talk about the importance of the personal in politics and war.[…]
When they met again in 1941, Roosevelt reminded Churchill of their first meeting. Churchill couldn’t recall it, which irritated FDR.

But the two leaders got on with doing their work.

Tomorrow I’ll post again about the two statesmen’s first meeting and some subsequent events related to it.
The passages from Meacham used in this post can be found here.

Dem Dodd Hopes We're Dopes

Connecticut Democrat Senator Chris ("I didn't know I was getting special treatment") Dodd is acting mighty righteous these days. Fulminating, too.

But he isn't fooling Michelle Malkin who today posted - - "Chris Dodd: For AIG bonuses before he was against them."

It begins - - -

Kabuki Theater of Outrage, Act III. Unscrupulous borrower Sen. Chris Dodd struts on stage. Fox Business reporter Rich Edson turns on the spotlight:

Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) on Monday night floated the idea of taxing American International Group (AIG: 0.9768, 0.1967, 25.21%) bonus recipients so the government could recoup the $450 million the company is paying to employees in its financial products unit. Within hours, the idea spread to both houses of Congress, with lawmakers proposing an AIG bonus tax.

While the Senate constructed the $787 billion stimulus last month, Dodd unexpectedly added an executive-compensation restriction to the bill. That amendment provides an “exception for contractually obligated bonuses agreed on before Feb. 11, 2009,” which exempts the very AIG bonuses Dodd and others are seeking to tax. The amendment is in the final version and is law.

Also, Sen. Dodd was AIG’s largest single recipient of campaign donations during the 2008 election cycle with $103,100, according to

Need to make my airsickness bag triple-strength this morning.

The rest of Malkin's post's here.


My Comments:

Dodd hopes we're dopes, especially those of us who live in Connecticut.

It's the only way he'll be able to hold on to his public office and the power he's systematically abused for his personal gain.

Hat tip: BN

Chris Dodd Ad By GOP

Pelosi’s Talking Payoff; Not Merger

The San Francisco Chronicle reports - - -

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, worried about the fate of The Chronicle and other financially struggling newspapers, urged the Justice Department Monday to consider giving Bay Area papers more leeway to merge or consolidate business operations to stay afloat.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, released by Pelosi's office late Monday, the San Francisco Democrat asked the department to weigh the public benefit of saving The Chronicle and other papers from closure against the agency's antitrust mission to guard against anti-competitive behavior.

The entire story's here.


My Comments:

What does Pelosi mean by “more leeway to merge or consolidate business operations?”

The notion of independent newspapers is mostly a fiction.

The majority of them long ago sold out to the Democratic Party.

Have you ever noticed that when the Dems propose -- say a 10% increase in welfare spending -- and the Republicans argue it should only be 4%, newspapers don’t say very much about both parties wanting to increase welfare spending?

Instead they mostly say something like: “the GOP is fighting the Democrats’ attempt to increase aid to needy families.”

Why did the Swift Boat Veterans have to bring to the public’s attention Sen. John Kerry’s failure to release, as he promised, all his Navy records?

Former Sen. John Edwards’ affair cum "love child" was well-know and documented for weeks. But almost all major newspapers wouldn’t report the scandal until a few top Dems gave the signal Team Obama had decided Edwards could be an embarrassment so it was time to throw him overboard.

How about Dem Rep. Charlie Rangel? Could a Republican with his record remain chair of the House’s tax-writing committee? Wouldn’t there be “an outcry” from America’s newspapers’ editorial pages that he at least step down from his chairmanship?

California Democrat Rep. Pete Stark on the House floor said President Bush wanted to see our soldiers in Iraq have their heads blown off “for his amusement.” It wasn’t even a back page story in most newspapers.

Remember the racist, anti-American sermons of then Sen. Barack Obama’s pastor and close friend of almost 20 years, Rev. Jeremiah Wright?

Most newspapers followed the party line and told us they were just about “snippets.”

And do you know of any newspaper that reported on what Ms. Obama meant when she called America “a downright mean country?” Or any newspaper that at least reported trying to and kept at it?

There are many more examples I could cite. I know many of you could, too.

What Speaker Pelosi’s proposing isn’t about merger; it’s about payoff to party faithfuls.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Churchill Series - Mar. 16, 2009

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

This from yesterday's Daily Telegraph - - -

Blenheim Palace wins garden of the year

The gardens at Blenheim Palace, in which Sir Winston Churchill proposed to his future wife, have been named the finest in Britain.

Blenheim Palace: named Britain's historic house Garden of the Year
The gardens at Blenheim have often been overshadowed by the palace's baroque architecture

Landscaped by Capability Brown in the 18th century, the 80 acres of formal garden see half a million visitors every year and were recently used as a location for some scenes in the film The Young Victoria.

The grounds have often been overshadowed by the magnificence of the baroque house, which features three flamboyant state rooms and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987.

The family seat of the Duke of Marlborough, it is also the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and the place where Britain's future wartime leader proposed to Miss Clementine Hozier in 1908.

The couple had taken refuge in the Temple of Diana summerhouse, near the lake, after being caught in a shower during a walk in the grounds. Churchill, famous for his lack of punctuality, nearly ruined the big moment by arriving late for the walk, leaving 'Clemmie' contemplating an early return to London.

The rest of the Telly's story's here. It includes some splendid links.



Dennis Rogers Post Moved Back

Today I posted A Look Back at Former N&O'er Dennis Rogers . It included a link to his Aug. 2006 column in which Rogers made what he and his editors knew was a false statement about the three innocent young men indicted in the Duke/Durham frame-up attempt.

In the same column Rogers also smeared all the members of the Duke lacrosse team.

I commented in the post concerning both Rogers' falsehood and his smearing.

I also said I'd post further tonight concerning false statements Rogers made just yesterday about the content of this blog and many people who comment here.

I still plan to do that, but not tonight.

Too many other matters have come up as you can see by the post list - six so far today. And I'm working on other posts for tomorrow.

I'll get to the Rogers post in a few days, but right now it's at the back of the line.

In the meantime there's A Look Back At Former N&O'er Dennis Rogers with the link to his column.

What’s The Raleigh Public Record?

It claims to be a nonprofit provider of “independent news for the Raleigh community.”

Here’s more from its Web site - - -

The Raleigh Public Record is brand new and just getting up to speed. The idea is to create a non-profit journalism source to cover Raleigh. We are in organizing mode trying to put together a community to produce and support the site and the idea.

We are looking for people to cover city government and politics, crime, education, the environment, growth, development and all the other issues facing the many communities in Raleigh. We are also looking for programmers to help get a new website off the ground. Check out the Contact page to get in touch with the editor.

Also from its Web site this mission statement:

The Raleigh Public Record will provide non-profit community journalism for Raleigh, North Carolina. Through its website, RPR will deliver fair, trusted coverage of the issues affecting the neighborhoods in which we all live by using old-fashioned reporting and compelling writing, along with audio and visual mediums.

RPR will also serve as a laboratory to test the technological limits of the new media paradigm and help train a new generation of journalists.


My Comments:

What will The Raleigh Public Record (RPR) become?

I have no idea.

Who’s behind it?

I don’t know.

But if RPR carries through with its mission statement pledge to “deliver fair, trusted coverage of the issues,” it will be welcomed by many in Raleigh and across North Carolina.

Take a look at RPR for yourself here.

Hat tip: Anon commenter at McClatchy Watch.

The Journalism We Need

An extremely astute offline commenter who once blogged called my attention to an outstanding post that will appeal to most of you.

It's Clay Shirkey's "Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable" here excerpted as follows:

... Elizabeth Eisenstein’s magisterial treatment of Gutenberg’s invention,
The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, opens with a recounting of her research into the early history of the printing press. She was able to find many descriptions of life in the early 1400s, the era before movable type. Literacy was limited, the Catholic Church was the pan-European political force, Mass was in Latin, and the average book was the Bible.

She was also able to find endless descriptions of life in the late 1500s,
after Gutenberg’s invention had started to spread. Literacy was on the rise, as were books written in contemporary languages, Copernicus had published his epochal work on astronomy, and Martin Luther’s use of the press to reform the Church was upending both religious and political stability.

What Eisenstein focused on, though, was how many historians ignored the transition from one era to the other. To describe the world before or after the spread of print was child’s play; those dates were safely distanced from upheaval.

But what was happening in 1500? The hard question Eisenstein’s book asks is “How did we get from the world before the printing press to the world after it? What was the revolution itself like?”

Chaotic, as it turns out. The Bible was translated into local languages; was this an educational boon or the work of the devil? Erotic novels appeared, prompting the same set of questions. Copies of Aristotle and Galen circulated widely, but direct encounter with the relevant texts revealed that the two sources clashed, tarnishing faith in the Ancients.

As novelty spread, old institutions seemed exhausted while new ones seemed untrustworthy; as a result, people almost literally didn’t know what to think. If you can’t trust Aristotle, who can you trust?

During the wrenching transition to print, experiments were only revealed in retrospect to be turning points. Aldus Manutius, the Venetian printer and publisher, invented the smaller octavo volume along with italic type.

What seemed like a minor change — take a book and shrink it — was in retrospect a key innovation in the democratization of the printed word. As books became cheaper, more portable, and therefore more desirable, they expanded the market for all publishers, heightening the value of literacy still further.

That is what real revolutions are like. The old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in its place. ...

When we shift our attention from ’save newspapers’ to ’save society’, the imperative changes from ‘preserve the current institutions’ to ‘do whatever works.’ And what works today isn’t the same as what used to work.

We don’t know who the Aldus Manutius of the current age is. It could be Craig Newmark, or Caterina Fake. It could be Martin Nisenholtz, or Emily Bell.

It could be some 19 year old kid few of us have heard of, working on something we won’t recognize as vital until a decade hence.

Any experiment, though, designed to provide new models for journalism is going to be an improvement over hiding from the real, especially in a year when, for many papers, the unthinkable future is already in the past.

For the next few decades, journalism will be made up of overlapping special cases. Many of these models will rely on amateurs as researchers and writers.

Many of these models will rely on sponsorship or grants or endowments instead of revenues.

Many of these models will rely on excitable 14 year olds distributing the results.

Many of these models will fail. No one experiment is going to replace what we are now losing with the demise of news on paper, but over time, the collection of new experiments that do work might give us the journalism we need.

Shirkey's entire post's here.

Supermarkets Continue Bailing On Newspapers

The other day I posted McClatchy, The Councilperson & Newspaper Ads.

The short of it: A commenter noted food chains wouldn’t pay to advertise at newspapers’ Net sites when they can draw shoppers to their own Web sites for at lot less cost.

I added an example of a regional chain – Harris Teeter – which has a program with special benefits for customers who let HT send them a weekly email. (see post for HT link)

Along with all the info in the weekly newspaper ad insert it still uses, HT offers special and, IMO, considerable benefits only for customers receiving its weekly email.

I cited the HT email program as an example of supermarket chains starting to do what airlines did beginning in the 90s: wean their customers away from newspaper ads of flights and sales to the same info at their own less costly Web sites.

Most people don’t remember airlines were once among newspaper's major advertisers.

Today I received – unsolicited – an email enticement from a supermarket chain. Here’s part of it, after which I don’t think any comment is necessary.

Dear Lowes Rewards Member,

Thank you for taking the time to open and read this email. We value your time and respect your on-line privacy. Therefore, we would like to request your permission to allow Lowes Foods to communicate with you by email.

Lowes Foods has just launched an online program that will save customers even more money when they stop in our stores. This program has been tested and here are some of the customer comments received.

"I want to provide feedback on the new Lowes Foods program. I went on-line and signed up for the service. I was able to pick and choose from around 70 offers. I selected the offers for the items I normally buy. When I shopped, the offer deducted just as they should. I think this is a great service - especially for folks like me - full of good coupon-clipping intentions - but regularly failing to get the coupons I've clipped to the checkout line. Please pass this on to the right folks. Thank you!" Katie

"I just wanted you to know I LOVE THIS!! I am the worst at keeping up with coupons and this makes it so much easier! I tried this for the first time this week and saved $3.15. Everything worked like a charm." – Angie

The entire Lowes email's here.

A Look Back At Former N&O'er Dennis Rogers

Former Raleigh N&O columnist Dennis Rogers has left an angry comment containing a number of falsehoods on the thread of JinC "Reaches Out" To Sacbee Editor. I'll respond to it later this evening.

In the meantime, the post below the star line sheds light on the kind of journalism Rogers and the N&O have all too often engaged in.

With the title - Duke lacrosse: N&O columnist makes false statement, slimes players - I published it on Aug. 14, 2006 when Mike Nifong was still DA, the three innocent players were awaiting trial, and Duke President Dick Brodhead had yet to say a word critical of Nifong or those like Rogers who smeared the lacrosse players.



Readers Note: Dennis Rogers is a news columnist for the Raleigh News & Observer, the newspaper whose biased, inaccurate and inflammatory coverage of the Duke lacrosse story did so much to turn what should have been a fair, thorough police investigation into a witch hunt that's included investigative and legal travesties that have harmed innocent people and the community.

Some people believe the N&O has now ceased its outrages as the public has begun to realize "the Duke lacrosse case" is based on a hoax that certain individuals and groups have used to advance their interests and agendas.

But while the N&O has cut back on the frequency of its outrages, it still engages in them.

A very recent example is Rogers’ Aug. 12. news column in which he made a statement about the players that he and his editors had to know was false. Rogers immediately followed his false statement with an outrageous slime of the players.

I decided to write the following electronic letter to the N&O’s executive editor for news, Melanie Sill, who says news columnists “are under my watch.”

Sill has also told readers (scroll to seventh comment dated 9/21/05 at 12:32):

News section columnists are held to the same standards as news reporters in terms of ethics, news gathering and so forth. They could be fired for the same reasons reporters could be fired -- violating N&O standards in any of a variety of areas, ranging from plagiarism to professional behavior lapses.


August 14, 2006

Melanie Sill
Executive editor for news
Raleigh News & Observer
Raleigh, North Carolina

Dear Melanie:

In Dennis Rogers’ Aug. 12 news column he tells readers :
The lacrosse players say, nope, they don't remember a thing. I can appreciate that, having been to college parties where the details are still hazy. Unless something happened. In that case, I clearly recall being in a Laundromat at the time in question, your honor.
Rogers’ statement, “The lacrosse players say, nope, they don’t remember a thing.,” is false.

Rogers, his editors, you and I all know the statement is false.

The three indicted players have provided detailed accounts of their actions the night of March 13/14.

David Evans voluntarily provided a statement to police on Mar. 16 when he also voluntarily agreed to go to Duke Hospital to submit to rape kit testing. He also volunteered to take a police administered lie detector test. There are many witnesses ready to substantiate his detailed statement.

Reade Seligmann, through his attorney, has provided cell phone records, a time-stamped ATM receipt, a time-stamped ATM photo, a time-stamped food purchase receipt, a cab driver witness, teammate witnesses, and timed Duke dorm entry card data. That evidence, along with a statement by Seligmann, establishes a minute-by-minute account of what he was doing during the only time in which the alleged brutal gang-rape, beating, robbery and strangulation claimed by the accuser could have taken place.

Collin Finnerty’s attorneys say they have documentation and witnesses to his actions during the time in question that provide evidence as detailed and strong as that of Seligmann’s.

Other lacrosse players who were at the party have provided and signed detailed statements.

The lacrosse players have even provided, through their attorneys, numerous time-stamped photos of the party, including ones of the accuser.

However, everything the players have done to detail their actions that night didn’t stop Rogers, his editors and the N&O from making what you all knew was a false statement :
The lacrosse players say, nope, they don't remember a thing.
Rogers, his editors and the N&O weren’t satisfied with making a deliberately false and malicious statement.

They went on to deliberately and maliciously slime the Duke students by insinuating they are not truthful regarding their activities during the critical time the evening of Mar. 13/14 when the alleged felony crimes would have to have occured :
I can appreciate that, having been to college parties where the details are still hazy. Unless something happened. In that case, I clearly recall being in a Laundromat at the time in question, your honor.
Do Rogers and the N&O offer any evidence for their insinuation the players are lying? Of course not! N&O standards don't require any.

Melanie, at the Editor's Blog on the thread of this post you told N&O readers:
News section columnists are held to the same standards as news reporters in terms of ethics, news gathering and so forth. They could be fired for the same reasons reporters could be fired -- violating N&O standards in any of a variety of areas, ranging from plagiarism to professional behavior lapses.(bold added)
As a regular N&O reader who’s followed closely your Duke lacrosse coverage, I don’t question that Rogers’ false statement and sliming meet N&O standards.

Nevertheless, I think the N&O owes its readers a correction and explanation for what Rogers, his editors and the N&O did.

Also, as a matter of minimal decency the Duke students are owed the correction and explanation as well as an apology for Rogers’ column and so much else the N&O has done to harm their lives.

Finally, Melanie, I want to make a suggestion:Raise the N&O’s standards for reporters, news columnists and editors, including you.

At present, your standards are disgracefully low as Dennis Rogers’ column demonstrates.



cc: Dennis Rogers

Ted Vaden, public editor

Granny & The Duke/Durham Frame

On this McClatchy Watch thread an Anon 8:28 commented:

As my grandmother used to say:

"If you don't want it in the newspaper, don't join a rowdy college lacrosse team, throw a drunken party where you hire a mentally unstable stripper, encourage them to penetrate themselves for your amusement, holler vaguely racist things as the party disintegrates and live in a county with an imbalanced and unscrupulous DA."

My granny was right. Bad things can happen in that situation. Those kids should have been in the library.

Further down the thread I responded - - -

To Anon 8:28,

With all respect to your Granny, bad things can happen anywhere; being “in the library” is no protection.

Do you recall the cab driver arrested at work and put on trial after he provided an alibi for one of the innocent students "the Durham justice system" was framing and planning to send to prison for decades?

Do you know that trusting citizens, unaware they were being lied to by authorities, voted as a grand jury to indict three innocent young men who’ll now carry that stigma for the rest of their lives?

Do you at least know the Durham Police and DA repeatedly lied to the entire public about "stonewalling" and "horrific crimes?"

Those are all things much, much worse then some bad college student behavior. They are all essential parts of a police state’s operating system, as the Nazis and Soviets showed us.

One last thing: Did your Granny ever tell you about the sort of people who witness or learn about what happened in Durham in Spring 2006, and then focus most of their criticisms and blame not on the authorities but on the victims?

If you're Granny did talk about such people, she might have used Lenin's term for them: "useful idiots."

Do you remember?

Thanks for reading.

John in Carolina


Folks, so far Anon 8:28 hasn’t responded but I’ll check back tomorrow.

N&O announces staff cuts, other changes

Excerpts from a story just posted at followed by my comments below the star line. begins - - -

The News & Observer Publishing Co. this afternoon announced it is cutting jobs, cutting pay and requiring unpaid furloughs for its staff as it contends with steep declines in advertising revenue.

The newspaper company, which also owns community publications such as The Cary News and The Herald in Smithfield, will eliminate 78 positions, or 11 percent of its work force. The equivalent of about 27 full-time positions in The N&O newsroom are included.

The N&O will require remaining workers to take a week off without pay between May 1 and Oct. 31.

And it will cut salaries from 2.5 percent for lower-paid employees to 10 percent for the higher paid. Those making less than $25,000 a year won't see a pay cut.

"We are making our way through difficult times by making difficult decisions," N&O Publisher Orage Quarles III wrote in a memo to employees. "It is never easy to say goodbye to so many of our friends and colleagues, but we must make these additional cuts to sustain our company and adjust to new competitive and economic realities."

The cuts were expected and have been telegraphed for weeks after The N&O's parent, The McClatchy Co. of Sacramento, Calif., said it had to pare its business. The newspaper chain is wrestling with a severe drop in revenue as it tries to pay down debt. …

Quarles said The N&O will increase its cooperation with Charlotte to increase efficiencies and will speed the transition to a narrower newspaper, which will save on production costs.

The entire story’s here.

My Comments:

Just minutes ago I couldn’t find the text of Publisher Quarles statement at but McClatchy Watch has a copy posted here.

McClatchy Watch has also posted "Anger in Raleigh," detailing what are predictable and understandable reactions by at least some N&O staffers.

As I’ve said many times before when commenting on staff cuts at the N&O, I’m sorry for the honest, able people there who are losing their jobs, have already lost their jobs or may do so in the future.

They are certainly victims of technological forces impacting all newspapers.

They're also victims of McClatchy’s preening, self-indulgent and extraordinarily unwise leadership in recent years and of those at the N&O who’ve frequently infused the paper with their ideological beliefs at the expense of fair and accurate journalism.

Looking to the future, the story’s closing graf:

Quarles said The N&O will increase its cooperation with Charlotte to increase efficiencies and will speed the transition to a narrower newspaper, which will save on production costs.
will set many journalists to speculating whether rumors the N&O and CO will meld into one paper with separate Triangle and Charlotte “local” sections are true.

I've no “inside word” but I can understand why the rumors are going around.

As a practical matter, there’s already been a great deal of melding of the two papers.

And people who know the newspaper business tell me there could be considerable costs saved by melding the two.

There’s my first take on today’s announcements.

What do you say?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What Moderate Taliban?

Dated Mar. 13 at Larry Derfner’s U.S. News & World Report’s Mideast Watch blog there’s a post I’m sharing in full with a few comments after it.

Post Title - - - "Arab liberals warn about Obama's opening to militant Islam"

Text - - -

At the same time that liberal Arabs oppose America's pro-Israel tilt, they are worried about the Obama administration's intention to engage diplomatically with radical Islamic forces such as Iran and the Taliban.

Commentator Elias Harfoush writes in Lebanon's Dar al-Hayat of what he says is a harsh lesson learned recently in Pakistan of what comes from dealing with the Taliban:

There is no more obvious proof of the failure of any attempt to lure moderates from Taliban to a political settlement than what the Zardari government in Pakistan did recently.

The Pakistani regime released the hands of the Pakistani branch of Taliban, as it believed that they can be dealt with, in an attempt to regain control of the Swat province.

But what was the result? More murders and torture of those opposed to the movement and more suffering for the people who returned after the truce on the assumptions that stability was restored. More decapitated bodies of singers and artists and people whom the Taliban accuse of doing "indecent" activities, more attacks on female school teachers, including throwing acid at their faces on their way to work or threatening them with murder if they persist in their professions.

As a result, many schools had to close down, while the whole Pakistani province relived the worst days of Taliban rule in Afghanistan before September 11 and the American invasion.

My Comments:

Some people joined the Nazi party for reasons of expediency.

I suppose we could call them “moderate” Nazis.

But as I understand it, Taliban are “true believers” in their medieval and fully evil fanaticism who torture and kill singers, dancers, gays, Christians, independent women and any they suspect of being only “moderate” Taliban.

If that’s true, as I believe it is, there are no “moderate” Taliban.

And what happened in Swat was predictable.