Friday, May 01, 2009

The Churchill Series - May 1, 2009

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

In November, 1922 Clementine Churchill traveled from London to Dundee, Scotland with her seven week old daughter, Mary. Clementine went to Dundee to campaign in Churchill’s place for his re-election to Parliament. He was in London, recovering from a recent appendectomy.

With the election scheduled for the 15th, Churchill was still in a weakened condition when his doctor agreed he could make the trip to Dundee and campaign in the election’s closing days.

Churchill’s biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, tells us about what happened next:

On November 10 Churchill left London by sleeper for Dundee. On the following evening, at a meeting of his supporters, he was too ill to stand, and had to speak sitting on a special platform. …

[At one point Churchill stood to deliver] a message of good cheer to “suffering, struggling, baffled tortured humanity the wide world o’er.”

The effort of standing was extremely painful and left him exhausted. Two days later, before a hostile audience, he was booed, hissed and interrupted so frequently that he could not finish his speech.

“You will be at the bottom of the poll,” one heckler cried.

“If I am going to be at the bottom of the poll,” he answered, “why don’t you allow me my last dying kick?”

Two days later Dundee went to the polls. [Churchill was trounced and] out of Parliament for the first time in twenty-two years. …

As he left Dundee by the night train he was seen off by a crowd of [supporters. A local newspaper reported the next day that Churchill told them “he had always been a democrat, and had always believed in the right of the people to make their own institutions. He bowed to that now.”
Churchill’s remarks provide a fitting note on which to end this three-post series on the 1922 Dundee election.

Today's Derby Day in Kentucky. Do you have a favorite? I'm pulling for General Quarters. Here's why.

I hope you all have a nice weekend.



Smart Girl 2 - Thugs 0

The AP reports - - -

Don't mess with the marching band. That's what California authorities are saying after a 17-year-old girl used her marching band baton to beat back two would-be muggers.

Los Angeles County sheriff's Deputy Michael Rust says the Quartz Hill girl was walking to school April 24 when two men approached her from behind, tried to grab her coat and demanded money.

Instead, one got a punch in the nose and the other a kick to the groin. Rust says the girl then beat both of them with her band baton before she ran away.

The men had not been caught. But Rust says there's a clear message to take from the encounter:

"The moral to this story is don't mess with the marching band girls, or you just might get what you deserve. Final score: marching band 2, thugs 0."

Former DOJ Official Declines Holder’s Invitation

For eighteen years, Andrew McCarthy was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York. He was in charge of the prosecution of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and eleven other terrorists in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and a plot to bomb New York City landmarks. McCarthy’s currently a fellow at the National Review Institute. You can read more about him here.

McCarthy’s just sent Attorney General Eric Holder a letter which begins - - -

This letter is respectfully submitted to inform you that I must decline the invitation to participate in the May 4 roundtable meeting the President’s Task Force on Detention Policy is convening with current and former prosecutors involved in international terrorism cases. An invitation was extended to me by trial lawyers from the Counterterrorism Section, who are members of the Task Force, which you are leading.

The invitation email (of April 14) indicates that the meeting is part of an ongoing effort to identify lawful policies on the detention and disposition of alien enemy combatants—or what the Department now calls “individuals captured or apprehended in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations.”

I admire the lawyers of the Counterterrorism Division, and I do not question their good faith. Nevertheless, it is quite clear—most recently, from your provocative remarks on Wednesday in Germany—that the Obama administration has already settled on a policy of releasing trained jihadists (including releasing some of them into the United States).

Whatever the good intentions of the organizers, the meeting will obviously be used by the administration to claim that its policy was arrived at in consultation with current and former government officials experienced in terrorism cases and national security issues.

I deeply disagree with this policy, which I believe is a violation of federal law and a betrayal of the president’s first obligation to protect the American people. (bold added)

Under the circumstances, I think the better course is to register my dissent, rather than be used as a prop.

Moreover, in light of public statements by both you and the President, it is dismayingly clear that, under your leadership, the Justice Department takes the position that a lawyer who in good faith offers legal advice to government policy makers—like the government lawyers who offered good faith advice on interrogation policy—may be subject to investigation and prosecution for the content of that advice, in addition to empty but professionally damaging accusations of ethical misconduct.

Given that stance, any prudent lawyer would have to hesitate before offering advice to the government. …

I am, in addition, powerless to stop the President, as he takes these reckless steps, from touting his Detention Policy Task Force as a demonstration of his national security seriousness. But I can decline to participate in the charade. …

There’s a lot more in McCarthy’s letter. It’s a must read.

What will happen as a result of what President Obama’s doing to our national security apparatus?

IMO Tigerhawk, who also posted on McCarthy’s letter, has the answer - - -

In light of the demonization of the OLC lawyers and the interrogation consultants to the CIA who somebody in the federal government outed yesterday, people are learning that it is very dangerous to help the United States fight a war. Barack Obama, and the rest of us Americans, had better hope that he never needs help from rough men who stand ready in the night.

Hat tip: Instapundit

Historian D’Este On Churchill And Torture

Historian Carlo D’Este, whose works include outstanding biographies of Patton and Eisenhower and the recently released Warlord: A Life of Winston Churchill at War, 1894-1945, comments today in the Times of London - - -

The question of torture as a legitimate tool in the War on Terror has become an explosive issue, with the likes of Dick Cheney, the former US Vice-President, arguing for it and President Obama rejecting it, citing Winston Churchill as an example of someone of who would not have condoned its use.

Mr Cheney was a Vietnam draft-dodger while Churchill was a former soldier who understood what it was like to be a prisoner of war.

In 1898 Churchill narrowly escaped death on the sands of Omdurman, Sudan. He saw first-hand the terrible agony of enemy warriors left to die in the hot sun and was hugely critical of the British commander, General Horatio Kitchener.

“I am not squeamish but I have seen acts of great barbarity perpetrated at Omdurman,” he wrote, “and have been thoroughly sickened of human blood.”

As a war correspondent during the Boer War he was captured and imprisoned in Pretoria. Although well treated, he was horrified by the loss of his liberty and made a daring escape.

Churchill was ruthless in prosecuting the Second World War with strategic bombing of German cities but there is nothing in his behaviour or character to suggest that he would have condoned water boarding or other means of torture.

My comments:

I wish D’Este had said whether he thought Britain’s WW II policy of giving captured spies a choice of fully cooperating or facing secret trial and certain hanging within 24 hours constituted torture.

At the time of WW II the policy would certainly not have been called "torture" by all but a very few.

If America adopted an identical policy for treating captured Al Qaeda operatives, would D’Este consider such a policy "torture?"

President Obama should be asked whether he would approve such a policy or reject it as torture.

Look for another post tomorrow concerning Obama’s press conference assertions about Churchill, Britain and torture.

Previous post on this subject:

Obama, Churchill And Torture - - 4/30/09

MSM Rolls With Dems’ “Waterboarding Ineffective” Meme

Wednesday night President Obama contradicted four former CIA directors and many others expert in interrogation techniques on the question of whether of intelligence information gained as a result of enhanced techniques such as waterboarding could've been obtained other way.

Obama said he's confident it could've been obtained by other means.

But he didn’t say what they were or why he believed that.

The Obama-fawning White House press corps, recently awarded an “A” grade from his chief spokesman for their gushing coverage, didn’t ask those obvious follow-up questions.

Now today an ABC News report says:

"The use of these tactics tends to increase resistance on the part of the detainee to cooperating with us. So they have the exact opposite effect of what you want," said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich).
ABC doesn’t mention any evidence Levin offered for his claim “these tactics. . . have the exact opposite effect of what you want.”

And there's no mention of the press asking Levin for any.

When it comes to the Dems' denial of the value of enhansced interrogation, most of MSM are just rolling along with the Dems.

MSMers like to tell us they’re our watchdogs. But when Dems speak, most MSMers are more like puppies.

ABC's entire story's here.

Hat tip: Drudge Report

A Devilish Time For Specter

Yesterday a post Specter - Reid Faustian Bargain contained a friend’s email in which he said that if, as reported, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid entered into a bargain with Sen. Arlen Specter to allow him to keep his Senate seniority in exchange for switching to the Dems, that would cause most Dems to “revolt.”

Last evening The Hill reported - - -

Senior Senate Democrats are objecting to the deal Majority Leader Harry Reid made with Sen. Arlen Specter, saying they will vote against letting the former Republican shoot to the top of powerful committees after he switches parties.

Several Democrats are furious with Sen. Reid (D-Nev.) for agreeing to let Specter (Pa.) keep his seniority, accrued over more than 28 years as a GOP senator. That agreement would allow Specter to leap past senior Democrats on powerful panels — including the Appropriations and Judiciary committees.

“I won’t be happy if I don’t get to chair something because of Arlen Specter,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who sits on the Appropriations Committee with Specter and is fifth in seniority among Democrats, behind Chairman Daniel Inouye (Hawaii) and Sens. Robert Byrd (W.Va.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.) and Tom Harkin (Iowa). “I’m happy with the Democratic order, but I don’t want to be displaced because of Arlen Specter,” she said.

Specter’s first full day in Washington after turning the Capitol upside down with his decision to switch parties suggested a lonely future awaits in the upper chamber. …

[S]enior Senate Democrats exchanged phone calls to voice their objections to Reid’s gambit and one lawmaker said Specter should be happy with a committee seat at the “end of the dais.” Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and two other members of the Senate Republican leadership asked Specter to refund campaign donations.

One senior Democratic lawmaker told The Hill that the Democratic Conference will vote against giving the longtime Pennsylvania Republican seniority over lawmakers like Harkin, Mikulski and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) when they hold their organizational meeting after the 2010 election. …

There’s more to The Hill’s story here.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Churchill Series - Apr. 30, 2009

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

In November, 1922 Clementine was in Dundee, Scotland with her seven week old baby, Mary, campaigning to help Churchill retain his parliamentary seat in the general election scheduled for November 15.

Churchill was unable to be in Dundee; he was in London recovering from a recent appendectomy. His doctors would not allow him to go to Dundee until the 11th and even at that he was still so weak he delivered most of his speeches in the closing days while sitting down.

Just before Churchill left for Dundee on the 11th he received a letter from Clementine. You’ll see her inform him of the situation he’ll face and tactfully suggest how he should respond :

The situation here is an anxious one …

Of course I feel the minute you arrive the atmosphere will change & the people will be roused – If you bring Thompson [a Scotland Yard detective who often served as Churchill’s bodyguard. – JinC] etc tell him to conceal himself tactfully, as it would not do if the populace thought you were afraid of them. The papers are so vile, they would misrepresent it & say you had brought detectives because you were afraid of the rowdy element – They are capable of anything.

If you feel strong enough, I think besides the Drill Hall Meeting which is pretty sure to be broken up, you should address one to two small open meetings. Every rowdy meeting rouses sympathy & brings votes & will especially as you have been so ill. Even in the rowdiest foulest places of all the people tho’ abusive were really good-natured. …

I am longing to see you & so is Dundee. … I shall be heartbroken if you get in. … I find what the people like best is the settlement of the Irish Question. So I trot that out & also your share in giving the Boers self government. The idea against you seems to be tht you are a War Monger. But I am exhibiting you as a Cherub Peace Maker with little fluffy wings round your chubby face.

I think the line is not so much “Smash the Socialists” as to try with your great abilities to help in finding solution of the Capital & Labour problem & I tell them that now that you are free from the cares & labours of office you will have time to think that out & work fro it in the next Parliament.
Doesn’t Clementine do a wonderful job of lettering Churchill know what a tough fight he’s in; the issues on which he’s vulnerable; and how best to respond.

Clementine's letter reveals her to be a smart, politically experienced person wise in the ways of human beings.

Tomorrow Churchill finally arrives in Dundee, is soundly beaten and leaves Dundee with grace.
Speaking for Themselves: The Personal Letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill. Edited by their daughter Mary Soames. (p. 264-265)

Obama, Churchill And Torture

Let’s start with Ben Smith’s post this morning at Politico:

Obama followed Bush last night in using Winston Churchill as his example of a war president:

"I was struck by an article that I was reading the other day talking about the fact that the British during World War II, when London was being bombed to smithereens, had 200 or so detainees," said Obama, who's evidently readingAndrew Sullivan. "And Churchill said, 'We don't torture,' when the entire British -- all of the British people were being subjected to unimaginable risk and threat."

A reader points out, though, that that's a seriously contested claim. The Guardian published an article in 2005 the alleged torture of German prisoners in the "London Cage" between 1940 and 1948.

The paper described the facility as a "torture centre" and quotes one detainee -- an SS officer -- alleging "that he was doused in cold water, pushed down stairs, and beaten with a cudgel. Later, he says, he was forced to stand beside a large gas stove with all its rings lit before being confined in a shower which sprayed extremely cold water from the sides as well as from above. Finally, the SS man says, he and another prisoner were taken into the gardens behind the mansions, where they were forced to run in circles while carrying heavy logs."
I’ve read The Guardian’s 2005 story. It says quite clearly there’s no evidence what was done at the “torture centre” was done “with clear, official approval.”

The Guardian's also explicit in telling its readers what was done may have been a rouge operation by the centre’s officer in charge.

Now let’s hear from The Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb:
… I don't believe Churchill ordered the torture of Germans captured on the battlefield, but these were uniformed combatants, and what could they possibly have told their captors anyway -- there's a bunch of planes headed to London tonight? When Germans or their agents were caught operating without a uniform, they were turned or shot -- no trial, no habeas, no nothing.

But let's not pretend that Churchill wasn't responsible for policies that Jon Stewart and Andrew Sullivan would consider war crimes.

Churchill oversaw an area bombing campaign that killed tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of civilians [.]

Wars are messy, and in just 100 days Obama is already responsible for the deaths of more than a few civilians resulting from the targeted assassinations of al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan.

Baltasar Garzón, the Spanish magistrate who launched an investigation of six Bush administration officials, has also begun investigating Israeli officials for just such targeted assassinations as part of the Gaza campaign.

Garzón at least seems to believe that all state-sanctioned violence is criminal.
Obama would have us believe it's only criminal when Bush sanctions it.
President Obama wants us to believe that on the question of whether enhanced interrogation techniques yielded information not obtainable any other way and which saved lives, his judgment that it could have been obtained without those techniques is better than the judgment of the last 4 CIA directors and many others experienced in intelligence work who say it could not have been obtained but for the enhanced techniques.

I vote with the former CIA directors and others.

What about you?

Stay tuned to the Obama, Churchill, and torture story. It’s still developing.

Specter-Reid Faustian Bargain?

A friend emailed - - -

I’m flummoxed. Looks like Specter and Reid made a Faustian bargain, which I can’t sort out: I will switch Parties if you allow me to keep my seniority (Specter tempting Reid), or if you switch Parties I will allow you to keep your seniority (Reid tempting Specter).

So if it’s Reid, then Sen. Specter (now D-PA) will get a plum committee chairmanship, but the party faithful will revolt. And if it’s Specter and he gets moved to the back of the Dem seniority line, then he’ll filibuster with the Republicans (i.e., vote his conscience).

I guess it’s what happens when devils make deals.

Duke Defenders Duck Frame/Cover-up Questions

Last Sunday I posted Refuting Duke/Durham Frame/Cover-up Enablers.

The short of it: the facts of the case easily refute what the Duke/Durham frame/cover-up enablers want to believe. That explains why so many enablers, instead of responding to fact-based questions with facts and logic, now instead resort to name calling, ad hominems, threats, misstatements, lies and fantasies.

You can see examples of what I’m talking about on the thread of "BOT expected to select Blue as next chair."

I posted the comment you’ll read below on the TC thread knowing many members of the Duke community, including trustees, administrators and faculty, would silently monitor the thread.

Most people, myself included, understand the content of comment threads is not always useful. But often individual comments and “conversations” between commenters “add to the story.” So people with a strong interest in an online story typically read at least some of the story’s comment thread, and often return to the thread for a few days to read later comments.

Anyone doing that on TC’s
BOT to select Blue thread (now with 61 comments) will find my comment followed by a variety of others.

What Duke trustees, administrators, faculty, students, parents and others won’t find is any comment making fact-based, coherent responses to my questions.

I’ve included after my comment a few examples of the responses that have been made to the questions.

John in Carolina

posted 4/27/09 @ 11:01 AM EST

[Commenter] Expected Attack @ 9:05 AM has it right.

"[T]he only response [of the Brodhead/Steel frame/cover-up defenders] is to attack the person posting -- nothing on the substance of the discussion."

Why is that when there's so much to examine and discuss?

Why, on Mar. 25, 2006, did Brodhead fail to mention in his first public statement about the frame-up attempt the extraordinary cooperation the players had given police?

On Mar. 29 Brodhead apologized on behalf of Duke to the woman then known as "the first caller." The police had known for 15 days she was Kim Pittman, the second dancer.

Did Brodhead know that? I don't know. Brodhead's never answered the question.

Do any of you who defend Brodhead here know why he hasn't?

Or why Brodhead, the trustees and almost all faculty never said a public word critical of the black racists who shouted threats, including death threats, at Reade Seligmann at the Durham County Courthouse on May 18?

About those student records protected under FERPA: did Duke give them to DPD and Nifong without required student and parent consent and then latter engage with Nifong in an open court charade intended to deceive the court into believing Duke had not already turned over the protected records?

I hope Brodhead/Steel frame/cover-up defenders' will start to engage in reasoned discourse instead of resorting to ad hominems which make the already absurd Brodhead/Steel defense - - "Who knew? And besides, the facts kept changing. Let's move on." - - appear nasty as well.

At least it does to decent people.

John in Carolina


What Lies John ?
posted 4/27/09 @ 2:03 PM EST
Originally posted by
John in Carolina

"Now, is there any chance you and other Brodhead-Steel [ALLEGED]frame/cover-up defenders will engage in serious, discussion of [ALLEGED]Duke's actions and inactions in response to Crystal Mangum's, DPD's, the N&O's and Nifong's [ALLEGED]lies?"

Sorry John - not a Chance.

You could ask KC Johnson about
his PROVEN LIES though.

HA HA HA the man.


What frame John? The one in the brain of Bob Ekstrand?
posted 4/28/09 @ 4:48 PM EST

Ha Ha Ha

John, we forget to remind you

today your blog really sucks

and you are a dishonest, racist asshole.


Folks, what do trustees and others embracing the Duke defendants think when questions such as mine go unanswered?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Churchill Series - Apr. 29, 2009

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

Churchill lost a number of election battles. One occurred in the General Election of November, 1922, when he lost his parliamentary seat in the Dundee, Scotland constituancy.

The reasons for Churchill's defeat there were many and complex. I'll say more about them tomorrow. Today I’ll just mention only one of them: Churchill's inability to actively campaign until the last few days before election because he was recovering from an appendectomy, a surgical procedure which in those days required an extended convalescent period.

While he convalesced in London, Churchill’s banner was carried in Dundee by Clementine and some friends. Churchill wrote to Clementine on November 6th. He mentions Sarah , their fifteen year old daughter, and “your kitten,” their seven week old baby, Mary.

[Dr.] Hartigan examined Sarah this morning and said she had had a little cold behind the nose which would naturally cause a certain irritation in the ear, and that there was no connection whatever between this and the glands. [Sarah suffered from tubercular glands. – JinC] Her temperature is normal and she is quite all right. We are, however, keeping her indoors for a day or two as a precautionary measure. …

I do hope you were not too tired by your long journey. I felt it was a great effort for you to cart yourself and your kitten all that way last night.

Jack [Wodehouse, a friend. – JinC] telephoned this morning that you were all right and were addressing a meeting this evening. Do take it easy. The mere fact of your presence will I am sure be highly beneficial. …
Clementine was quite a woman. That train trip to Dundee with a seven-week old must took about 12 hours. And look what her daughter Mary would later tell us happened once she got there :
Clementine flung herself into the front line, making spirited speeches at packed rowdy meetings. General Spears reported to Winston on the bitterness and violence of the campaign: At one meeting, Clementine, wearing a string of pearls, had been spat upon by women. Spears commented admiringly: “Clemmie’s bearing was magnificent – like an aristocrat going to the guillotine in a tumbrel.”
Quite a woman, indeed.
Speaking for Themselves: The Personal Letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill, edited by their daughter, Mary Soames. (p. 264)

Is The Raleigh N&O Committed To Print Circulation Growth?

A story today in McClatchy’s Raleigh News & Observer - - “N&O slips in print, up online” - - includes this:

. . . The News & Observer was among hundreds of papers that recorded declining circulation since last fall, according to figures released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

The N&O's print circulation for the Sunday paper declined 2.8percent -- from 211,245 in the six months ended March 31, 2008 to 205,298 in the six months ended March 31, 2009.

Circulation for the daily paper declined nearly 11 percent, from 176,083 to 156,909 in the same time period.

[Publisher Orage] Quarles attributed the drop to two things: less money being spent to market the paper and thus gain new readers and fewer promotions where the paper is given away.

The bonus or promotional papers count for the paper's circulation figures, he said, but do not contribute to the company's bottom line.

"We just can't afford to do that anymore," Quarles said.

Now the company is focused on maintaining and increasing home delivery sales, Quarles said.

Home delivery and "single copy" papers sold in stores and coin-operated machines make up 82 percent of the newspaper's daily circulation and 95 percent of the Sunday circulation, said Jim Puryear, The N&O's vice president for circulation.

Sales of those two categories declined much less than the overall figures -- 4.2 percent daily and 0.5 percent for Sunday during the same period, he said.
The entire N&O story’s here.


My comments:

Spending less money promoting the print paper and cutting back on “giveaways” suggest the N&O has given up on growing print circulation, at least to any significant extent?

That’s got to be very bad news for N&O employees because if the N&O somehow manages to successfully go digital and becomes primarily a web publication, far fewer of them will be needed than at present.

And something else: those who wish to find a print N&O in their driveways each morning will undoubtedly be paying much more for the paper because there will be much less of the print circulation driven advertising revenues that have made it possible for newspapers to be priced as almost "giveaways."

Obama’s First 100 Days

Lots of charm. Apology tours. And mistakes.

The NY Post lists 100 of them including:

100. "Don't think we're not keeping score, brother." -- Obama to Rep. Peter DeFazio, after the Democratic congressman voted against the stimulus bill.

99. Obama enrolled his daughters in a DC private school.

98. "Education Secretary Arne Duncan has decided not to admit any new students to the D.C. voucher program, which allows low-income children to attend private schools ... For all the talk about putting children first, it's clear that the special interests that have long opposed vouchers are getting their way." -- Washington Post, 4/11

And counting down - - -

66. "I didn't want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances." -- Obama, on consulting with only "living" presidents

65. "Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards." -- Attorney General Eric Holder

64. "The National Newspaper Publishers Association named Obama 'Newsmaker of the Year.' The president is to receive the award from the federation of black community newspapers in a White House ceremony this afternoon. The Obama White House has closed the press award ceremony to the press." -- Los Angeles Times, 3/20

We get to - - -

8. Obama taps Nancy Killefer for a new administration job, First Chief Performance Officer -- to police government spending. But it surfaces that Killefer had performance issues of her own -- a tax lien was slapped on her DC home in 2005 for failure to pay unemployment compensation tax on household help. She withdrew.

7. In early February, the 2010 census was moved out of the Department of Commerce and into the White House, politicizing how federal aid is distributed and electoral districts are drawn.

6. "Mr. Obama is an accomplished orator but is becoming known in America as the 'teleprompt president' over his reliance on the machine when he gives a speech." -- Sky News, 3/18

5. "The White House says the president is unaware of the tea parties." -- ABC News, 4/15

4. Asks his Cabinet to cut costs in their departments by $100 million -- a whopping .0027%!

3. This year's budget deficit: $1.5 trillion.

2. "There is no doubt that we've been living beyond our means and we're going to have to make some adjustments." -- Obama during the campaign.

You can find
1 and all the others here.

The list is a clip and save.

AP Gives Obama Spin To Latest Economic News

The AP reports this morning - - -

The economy shrank at a worse-than-expected 6.1 percent pace at the start of this year as sharp cutbacks by businesses and the biggest drop in U.S. exports in 40 years overwhelmed a rebound in consumer spending.

The Commerce Department's report, released Wednesday, dashed hopes that the recession's grip on the country loosened in the first quarter. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected a 5 percent annualized decline.

Instead, the economy ended up performing nearly as bad as it had in the final three months of last year when it logged the worst slide in a quarter-century, contracting at a 6.3 percent pace. Nervous consumers played a prominent role in that dismal showing as they ratcheted back spending in the face of rising unemployment, falling home values and shrinking nest eggs. …

The entire AP story’s here.


My comments:

Many economists are concerned that the record deficits the Obama administration's running up and its plans to increase taxes will slow both the recovery and GDP growth in the out years.

But the AP's story says nothing about those concerns. Instead the AP gives its story an Obama spin that reads like it was written by The White House:

President Barack Obama is counting on his $787 billion stimulus of tax cuts and increased government spending on big public works projects to help bolster economic activity later this year. The administration also has put forward programs to rescue banks and curb home foreclosures - big negative forces weighing on the economy.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs called the first-quarter's showing a "pretty severe contraction," but added that some more up-to-date signals on the economy have been more encouraging. "We continue to get, as the president said, some glimmers of hope," he said.

Even in the face of Wednesday's weaker-than-expected report, some analysts stuck to predictions that the economy would shrink less in the current April-June period - at a pace of 1 to 2.5 percent - as Obama's stimulus begins to take hold. Those analysts also continue to hope the economy would start to grow again in the final quarter of this year.
I think the AP deserves an "A" from WH spokesman Gibbs like the one he recently gave the Obama-fawning White House press corps.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Churchill Series - Apr. 28, 2009

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

In July, 1888, as thirteen year old Winston Churchill was ending his first term at Harrow, his housemaster, H. O. D. Davidson, wrote a report letter to Winston’s mother. Davidson said Winston was not:

in any way willfully troublesome; but his forgetfulness, carelessness, unpunctuality, and irregularity in every way, have really been so serious, that I write to ask you, when he is at home, to speak very gravely to him on the subject.

When a boy first comes to a public school, one always expects a certain amount of helplessness, owing to being left to himself so much more in regard to preparation of work &c. But a week or two is generally enough for a boy to get used to the ways of the place.

Winston, I am sorry to say, has, if anything, got worse as the term passed. Constantly late for school, losing his books and papers and various other things into which I need not enter – he is so regular in his irregularity that I really don’t know what to do; and sometimes think he cannot help it.

But if he is unable to conquer this slovenliness (for I think all the complaints I have to make of him can be grouped under this head, though it takes various forms), he will never make a success of a public school. …

As far as ability goes he ought to be at the top of his form, whereas he is at the bottom. …

I have written very plainly to you, as I do think it very serious that he should have acquired such phenomenal slovenliness. …

I tip my hat to Housemaster Davidson for seeing past the problematic behavior and recognizing Churchill’s inherent ability: “he ought to be at the top of his form.”

During Churchill’s childhood and youth, many people wrote him off as a dullard, the most important of them being his father, Lord Randolph.

Were you thinking as you read the letter “Today, a teacher would be telling Jennie Churchill: ‘I think Winston may be ADHD or LD. You ought to have him evaluated. We’re probably expecting too much of him?’”
Ted Morgan,
Churchill: Young Man in a Hurry, 1874-1915. (p.45)

A Chance To Agree With Sen. Schumer

CBS 2 TV reports - - -

… Federal officials knew that sending two fighter jets and Air Force One to buzz ground zero and Lady Liberty might set off nightmarish fears of a 9/11 replay, but they still ordered the photo-op kept secret from the public.

In a memo obtained by CBS 2 HD the Federal Aviation Administration's James Johnston said the agency was aware of "the possibility of public concern regarding DOD (Department of Defense) aircraft flying at low altitudes" in an around New York City. But they demanded total secrecy from the NYPD, the Secret Service, the FBI and even the mayor's office and threatened federal sanctions if the secret got out.

"To say that it should not be made public knowing that it might scare people it's just confounding," Sen. Charles Schumer said. "It's what gives Washington and government a bad name. It's sheer stupidity." …

CBS 2’s entire report’s here.

Sen. Schumer only stated the obvious. but I’ll take an opportunity that doesn’t come along often to say, “I agree with Schumer.”

Specter Finally Makes It Official

The AP reports - - -

Veteran Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania abruptly switched parties Tuesday, a move intended to boost his re-election chances that also pushed Democrats within one seat of a 60-vote filibuster-resistant majority.

"I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans," Specter said in a statement posted on a Web site devoted to Pennsylvania politics and confirmed by his office. Several Senate officials said a formal announcement was expected at mid-afternoon.

But even before the event took place, Specter attended a Senate subcommittee hearing on the swine flu outbreak and took a seat on the Democratic side of the dais.

He made no overt mention of his decision, but said, "Sorry I can't stay longer, but this is a complicated day for me."

The entire AP story's here.

Specter's switch comes just a month after he told The Hill:

"I am staying a Republican because I think I have an important role, a more important role, to play there. The United States very desperately needs a two-party system. That's the basis of politics in America. "

So what caused Specter to make the switch?

At least two things:

1) - - - He's afraid he'll lose the battle next year for Pennsylvania's GOP Senate nomination to former Rep. Pat Toomey. Specter trailed Toomey by a wide margin in a recent poll of GOP voters.

2) - - - The Dems have promised Specter plenty of pork as well as a big say in filling federal judgeships and U. S. and asst. U. S. attorney positions.

cks weighs in with a prediction:

he will lose his seat because now the Republicans do not have to endure a bruising primary fight. [Toomey] should have a clear shot for the Republican nod and the voters of the Keystone state will not look kindly on the Specter flip.

One things certain: Specter's flip raises the already high stakes in the Coleman-Franken court battle.

CO and N&O Print Circulations Decline; Web #s Rise

Today the McClatchy Company’s Charlotte Observer reports:

Circulation numbers continued to tumble at Carolinas newspapers, according to industry statistics released Monday, but publishers continued to see gains in their online operations.

In preliminary figures released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations for the six months ending March 31, Charlotte Observer circulation fell 11 percent weekdays to 187,633 – its lowest daily number since 1986 – and was down 7 percent Sundays to 244,494. …

Nationally, daily newspaper circulation fell 7 percent year to year and Sunday circulation was down 5 percent, according to the audit bureau. A year ago, the industry reported a 4 percent decline in daily sales and a 5 percent drop on Sundays.
The Raleigh News & Observer has not published it’s latest ABC numbers, but at the CO story’s sidebar I found a link providing the latest ABC print circulation numbers for other Carolina papers.

Here they are for the ol’ Reliable:
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
Daily 156,909 -11%
Sunday 205,298 -3%
The CO story includes this:
But at the same time, the combined print/online index – which reflects the growing traffic to the newspaper's Web site – was up 8 percent year to year to 1.07 million. The index measures the combined audience of the newspaper over a seven-day period and the past 30 days of unique visitors to Charlotte ranked eighth highest in growth in the nation in the combined index. …

In Monday's circulation report, Raleigh showed a 4 percent increase in the print/online index, making it No. 24 in growth nationally, according to the audit bureau. No other Carolina newspapers ranked in the top 25.
The CO spins readers with this:
“We're gaining readership,” said Observer publisher Ann Caulkins. “We know people who don't read us in print are reading us online. We have more readership than we've ever had in the history of the Charlotte Observer.”
Maybe Caulkins thinks she doesn’t need to remind readers most newspaper revenue comes from advertisers who in large part base what they’re willing to pay on print circulation size.

I don’t doubt when the N&O reports its ABC numbers, it will provide a spin similar to Caulkins'.

That's what its been doing for the almost 15 years McClatchy has owned the paper and its circulation's flat-lined while population in its circulation area has grown by over 300, 000.

The entire CO story's here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Churchill Series - Apr. 27, 2009

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

Last Friday I said I'd post today an illustration of Churchill's loyalty with a story about his care for a person who wasn't "a friend," but whose service to Churchill placed him in a special category that included friends and to whom in all cases he was intensely loyal.

The person is Scotland Yard's Walter Thompson, for many years Churchill principal bodyguard.

In the early 30s Churchill learned that Thompson, who first became his bodyguard about 10 years before, had never been promoted by the Yard.

Wasn't that unusual, Churchill asked Thompson? What explained that?

Thompson feigned ignorance.

But Churchill wasn't to be put off. He pursued his questions with the Yard. He learned that Thompson had sat for promotion exams and done exceedingly well. But he lacked the range of experience an officer was expected to have for promotion. Too much of his service had been spent protecting Churchill.

This was all news to Churchill, although Thompson was well aware of why he hadn't been promoted. But as Thompson explained to his wife, Churchill was a great man who might some day be called upon to save the country. It was a privilege and duty to guard him.

For his part, once Churchill learned why Thompson had been denied promotion, he began a two-year campaign to correct matters. It’s difficult to get a large organization to change or override policy, especially a policy that has some sense to it.

But Churchill didn't want Thompson and his family to suffer any more on his account than they were doing already because of Thompson's unusual hours, frequent long trips away from home, and always dangerous work.

Churchill wrote letters, requested and was granted interviews with the Yard's top executives, and had an occasional "word" with people in the Home Office to which Scotland Yard reports. All of this was unknown to Thompson.

How did it all come out?

At the end of two years, Thompson became Detective-Sergeant and eventually he became Detective-Inspector.

Thompson retired from the Yard in the late 30s and opened a grocery business. But about the time Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, he received a call from Churchill.

Thompson rejoined the Yard, and from then until the end of the war he resumed guarding the man whose destiny he foresaw and whose life he felt he was privileged to protect.
The material in this post is drawn from Tom Hickman's
Churchill's Bodyguard.

N&O: Tipster’s “Tar Heel of the Week” Claim “Not True”

McClatchy Watch has posted a story which begins:

A tipster tells me News & Observer reporters have been told not to do any followup reporting on a man [, James Stephens,] who was named "Tar Heel of the Week" last week by the N&O, despite receiving new information the man was arrested in December for assaulting his wife.
McClatchy Watch’s entire post is here.

I’ve just called N&O executive editor John Drescher to confirm the report. He said it's “not true.”
”There is no truth to a report we quashed a follow-up story on Mr. Stephens. Our readers should look forward to reading a follow-up story to the original ‘Tar Heel of the Week’ story."
Asked when that story would appear, Drescher said it was being “worked on now. When all the fact-checking is complete, we’ll publish it.”

The N&O’s “Tar Heel of the Week” story featuring Stephens is here.

I’ll follow this story, Let me know if there’s some aspect of it I should be covering.

Blue Picked As Duke’s Next BOT Chair

You can be certain the people who control Duke University's board of trustees have settled on current board co-chair Dan Blue as the board’s next chair because The Chronicle reports today:

Dan Blue will likely be named chair of the Board of Trustees at the body's May meeting, according to an official with knowledge of the situation who wished to remain anonymous.
The anonymous source no doubt used TC for a planned leak approved by the people who selected Blue.

TC’s story will put an end to most speculation concerning current chair Bob Steel’s successor and give the Duke community plenty of time to digest today’s news before commencement weekend.

The Chronicle story continues:
Blue, Law '73, would be the Board's first black chair.

The Board will formally elect its chair at its May meeting. Current Chair Robert Steel, Trinity '73, will retire in June.

A lawyer and member of the N.C. House of Representatives, Blue currently serves as the co-vice chair of the Board of Trustees along with Richard Wagoner, former General Motors chief executive officer. Blue was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1995, and his term expires in 2011. Wagoner's term expires in 2013.

Ascension by a vice-chair has been common in recent years. …

Blue would be the second North Carolina native in a row to be named chair; Steel grew up in Durham just off East Campus. Blue went to college a few miles away, graduating from North Carolina Central University in 1970 and from the Duke University School of Law in 1973.

The men's politics also might be similar: Federal Election Commission records show that Steel donated to Blue's Senate campaign in 2002. Steel also donated to Blue's opponent, Erskine Bowles, to whom he lost in the primary.

Despite their common Carolina roots, Steel and Blue's backgrounds diverge from there. Steel comes from the corporate world, residing in Connecticut and having served as Treasury undersecretary and as CEO of Wachovia while chair of the Board. Blue is based in Raleigh, and he is a Democratic member of the North Carolina state House of Representatives and a partner at Blue, Stephens & Fellers law firm.

For three years after his law school graduation, Blue worked in the law offices of former Duke president and Gov. Terry Sanford. In his three decades in politics, he has worked for financial solvency and put safeguards in the state budget as speaker of the N.C. House. …
TC’s entire story’s here.

Blue was one of the eulogists at President Sanford’s funeral. You can read his tribute here.

And here’s a link that will take you to a short, 2007 Duke Invests in Talent profile of Blue.

Folks, what do you think of Blue's selection?

Mke Williams' Obama Watch Apr. 27, 2009

Obama’s been getting tea bags in the mail lately. I guess at least he’s aware of the Tea Party Movement now. He’s also saying that swine flu isn’t a cause for alarm, although he’s blaming Republicans for an epidemic. Meanwhile, “No Secretary of HHS, no head of the CDC, no Surgeon General - whoops.” Wouldn’t these be the people to deal with this crisis?

Awhile back, Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted that Israel wasn’t going to move forward on the Palestinian problem until the US did something about Iran’s nukes. Israel denied this, but not long ago Biden did warn Israel not to attack Iran.

So despite the denial, did Israel call Obama and raise? Ed Morrissey:

Asked about those comments during an appearance before a panel of the House Appropriations Committee, [Secretary of State] Clinton said she did not want to “prejudge the Israeli position until we’ve had face-to-face talks.” But she then cautioned that Israel was unlikely to gain support for thwarting Iran unless there were visible efforts to achieve Palestinian statehood.

“For Israel to get the kind of strong support it’s looking for vis-a-vis Iran it can’t stay on the sideline with respect to the Palestinian and the peace efforts, that they go hand-in-hand,” Clinton said….

Ed continues:

As I predicted, Clinton and Barack Obama got this backwards. The Palestinian problem is being stoked by Iran, not the other way around. Iran is behind the rise of Hamas and their coup d’etat in Gaza, which has effectively split the Palestinian proto-state into two entities. They want to ensure that an annihilationist force remains in power in order to give Iran a channel with which they can conduct proxy attacks on Israel. Iran openly funds Hamas for this very reason, just as they fund Hezbollah in Lebanon to create conflict on Israel’s north….

And this:

Ha’aretz reports that an Iranian vessel of arms destined for Gaza mysteriously sunk just as it attempted to dock and transfer its cargo. According to the original report in an Egyptian newspaper, the ship got attacked by either Israeli or American naval forces, continuing an effort to interdict the flow of weapons to Hamas and Hezbollah….

Israel does have submarines. My guess is we’re seeing the beginnings of a Netanyahu pushback, and Obama isn’t happy. There are rumors afoot that Obama won’t meet with Netanyahu at next month’s America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) summit in D.C. Contrast that with his grip-and-grin with Chavez.

As the pundits say, we’re in the very best of hands.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Why GOP Lost NY-20 House Race

The Hill reports :

A fundamental urge for change and a subpar get out the vote program doomed Assemblyman Jim Tedisco's (R) congressional campaign, according to sources close to his bid.
It seems “urge for change” played out this way: Tedisco’s opponent, Scott Murphy, painted Tedisco as “a politian” while holding himself out as a “change” candidate in the mold of President Obama.

Regarding the “get out the vote factor,” The Hill says:
But the race remained a nail-biter, coming down to the thousands of absentee ballots that ultimately gave Murphy the win.

Tedisco strategists recognized after the fact that their absentee ballot program fell well short of Democratic efforts. Absentee ballots were a higher proportion of votes in counties predisposed to supporting Murphy than they were in counties Tedisco won.
But Republicans say they’re impressed with how they did in NY-20:
Tedisco's initial poll showed him leading by a wide margin, but only because he was better-known throughout the district. In fact, the generic ballot tests never showed anything other than a statistical tie.

"If you look at the recent voting in this district, having the race end in a virtual tie was pretty damned impressive," said one House Republican leadership aide. "Would I rather have won than lost in the end? Sure, but we should remember that this is the sort of Northeastern district where we got crushed in November of ’06 and ’08. Getting to a push is real progress."

Though they expressed disappointment at the results, GOP officials like National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele said they saw progress being made.

"The Republican Party must be competitive in districts like NY-20 if we are going to regain our Congressional majorities," Steele said in a statement released Friday. "While we were unsuccessful in this race, the combined efforts of our candidate, the national and state parties and NRCC show that the GOP is going to invest the resources necessary to regain our majority in the U.S. House of Representatives."
The Hill’s entire report’s here.


My comments:

I wish Steele and Sessions didn’t sound so satisfied with the result. A part of The Hill story I didn’t include noted the GOP has a 70,000 vote registration advantage in NY-20.

The Dems apparently worked harder and smarter than the GOP on the crucial absentee vote.

Steele talks about investing resources. Fine. But I wish I’d read something about “smarter and harder?”

N&O Editor Brags But Won’t Answer Lax Frame Questions

Raleigh News & Observer executive editor John Drescher’s weekly print columns are often infomercials for his paper.

Last week he offered readers – “Happiness is a warm readership” - which began:

The people have spoken. You like us. You really like us.
This week Drescher offers - "N&O not letting vigilance go."

The short of it: Drescher used most of his column to praise past N&O investigative reporting (much of it quite good and a genuine public service) and editor Steve Riley who’s been in charge of the N&O investigative reporting for the last six years. Drescher ends with:
The N&O has a long tradition of investigating. We've been wounded by this recession. But as much as some public figures would like for us to fade, we're not going away.

The expansion of our investigative team is a sign that we're staying on the case.

This watchdog still barks. And bites.
I’ve left the following comment on the column thread. I don’t expect Drescher to respond but it’s important to remind him and others of what happened, and to provide an opportunity for him to answer the questions I ask.


Editor Drescher:

You brag about exposing "Duke lacrosse prosecutor Mike Nifong."

The N&O's coverage - biased, racially inflammatory and, in places, deliberately fraudulent - laid out Nifong and others' frame-up script before he ever spoke publicly about the case. Who arranged that?

Ruth Sheehan says Nifong was the anonymous source for her “Team’s silence is sickening” column. Was Nifong an anonymous N&O source?

That would explain a lot about your coverage.

The N&O withheld for 13 months critically important information exculpatory for the lacrosse players. In Oct. '06 editor Williams said at the EB it would be libelous for the N&O to publish that information.

But the N&O later published the information the day after the NC AG said the players were innocent. It sure looks like Williams was lying.

Why did the N&O really withhold that information?

Is an investigation planned?

John in Carolina

Refuting Duke-Durham Frame/Cover-up Enablers

Refuting Duke-Durham frame/cover-up enablers is easy.

Just use facts.

I was reminded of that this morning when I read the comment thread of The Chronicle’s recent, lengthy infomercial-like story headed:


During five years, Brodhead negotiates private and public life
At 1:11 AM on 4/23 an Anon commented:
I love the phony double standard applied by the LAX lunatics. When the Durham DA alleged that the LAX players were guilty of rape, we were all supposed to ignore the allegations.

However, when the LAX players make allegations against Duke and its administrators, we are supposed to treat those allegations as if they are the gospel even before trial. What a joke.
Tort Lawyer responded:
No... you're the joke.

The allegations against the lacrosse players were serious, and deserved to be investigated. When it became clear that Nifong was acting in a procedurally improper manner, it was appropriate to call for his replacement, as Professor Coleman did, to restore confidence in the investigation.

No one is asking you, or anyone else, to accept the allegations against Brodhead and Steel "as the gospel".

But these allegations are serious, and they deserve to be investigated... not swept under the rug.

What the Chronicle needs to do is to stop mischaracterizing the complaint against Brodhead by employing the strawman argument concocted by the Duke P.R. Department, that the criticism is largely related to one of a "lack of support".
Further down the thread you’ll find Plaque for 610 offering this piece of imagining entirely dissociated from reality:
610 North Buchanan Avenue.

Herein lies the ghost of Tarheel

Justice, trapped in a bathroom,

strangled, assaulted and robbed
A short while later a commenter provided reality:
stangled... and not a mark on her neck, per the medical report, police report and photographic evidence,

assaulted... and not a mark on her body, save the scratched knee, obtained while being dumped cold by co-workers on the hard shell parking lot of the Platinum Club,

robbed... and yet her cash left at 610 Buchanan was recovered, and her only claim deemed credible by the DPD was that she had been robbed by the second stripper,

Face it, no one was strangled, assaulted or robbed.

You were lied to, and you took the bait hard.

You so want to believe that someone was strangled, assaulted or robbed, that in your lie-filled fantasy world, it all requires a total disregard of the evidence.
That the facts so easily refute what the frame/cover-up enablers want to believe explains why so many of them now fall back on name calling, ad hominems, threats, misstatements, lies and fantasies.

TC's article's here; it's comment thread's here.