Saturday, November 26, 2005

Blogging resumes Monday. Then lots.

Today, Saturday, Nov. 26, and tomorrow are travel days.

Blogging resumes early Monday, Nov.28.

Monday's first post will be part of the Churchill Series. I plan to challenge some unsubstantiated reporting concerning Churchill that appeared today in the London Telegraph. Your comments are very welcome.

By 8 AM Monday, I'll post an open letter to New York Times public editor Byron Calame.

John in Carolina regulars know the letter will concern false information the Times published concerning World War II Generals Bradley,Eisenhower, Marshall, Patton and Truscott.

There'll also be a post providing another example of the Raleigh News & Observer's liberal trending Left news bias.

And more will follow those posts.

See you Monday.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Churchill Series - Nov. 25, 2005

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

In 1902 Churchill, already at 27 a Member of Parliament, had yet to marry. But he set out to change that.

William Manchester in The Last Lion says Churchill began courting a beautiful 24 year-old American actress then performing in London. They often dined together at Claridges. He showered her with notes and flowers; and invited her to visit his ancestral home, Blenheim Palace. Some time after that, he proposed.

Ethel Barrymore said no. She told Churchill she “would not be able to cope with the great world of politics.”(p.361)

At the Churchill Centre, we learn Barrymore was a guest in August, 1925 at the Churchill’s home, Chartwell, in Kent. She signed the guest book.

Martin Gilbert, in his newly released Churchill and America, reports that in 1932 while visiting Washington, D.C. as part of a lecture tour, Churchill learned Barrymore was performing in the city. He sent her flowers and a note.(.140)

Krauthammer and America's Devotion to Liberty

Charles Krauthammer writes today about America's Unique Devotion to Liberty.

Don't miss it.

David McCullough, TR, and reading

A few years ago, historian David McCullough, spoke to a university graduating class about the importance of reading. Naturally, he illustrated his theme with references to great men and women who read often and widely, sometimes under difficult circumstances. Here’s one example:

Once upon a time in the dead of winter in Dakota territory, with the temperature well below zero, young Theodore Roosevelt took off in a makeshift boat, accompanied by two of his ranch hands, down-stream on the Little Missouri River in chase of a couple of thieves who had stolen his prized row boat. After days on the river, he caught up and got the draw on them with his trusty Winchester, at which point they surrendered. Then, after finding a man with a team and a wagon, Roosevelt set off again to haul the thieves cross-country to justice. He left the ranch hands behind to tend to the boat, and walked alone behind the wagon, his rifle at the ready. They were headed across the snow covered wastes of the Bad Lands to the rail head at Dickinson, and Roosevelt walked the whole way, 40 miles. It was an astonishing feat, what might be called a defining moment in that eventful life. But what makes it especially memorable is that during that time, he managed to read all of Anna Karenina.
Read McCullough's entire address here.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

From William Bradford's Journal

From the journal of William Bradford, Pilgrim leader and second Governor of Plymouth Colony:

"Being thus arived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees & blessed ye God of heaven, who had brought them over ye vast & furious ocean, and delivered them from all ye periles & miseries therof, againe to set their feete on ye firme and stable earth, their proper elemente. And no marvell if they were thus joyefull, seeing wise Seneca was so affected with sailing a few miles on ye coast of his owne Italy; as he affirmed, that he had rather remaine twentie years on his way by land, then pass by sea to any place in a short time; so tedious & dreadfull was ye same unto him.

But hear I cannot but stay and make a pause, and stand half amased at this poore peoples presente condition; and so I thinke will the reader too, when he well considered ye same. Being thus passed ye vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before in their preparation (as may be remembred by yt which wente before), they had now no friends to wellcome them, nor inns to entertaine or refresh their weatherbeaten bodys, no houses or much less townes to repaire too, to seeke for succoure. ..

Let it also be considred what weake hopes of supply & succoure they left behinde them, yt might bear up their minds in this sade condition and trialls they were under; and they could not but be very smale. It is true, indeed, ye affections & love of their brethren at Leyden was cordiall & entire towards them, but they had litle power to help them, or them selves; and how ye case stode betweene them & ye marchants at their coming away, hath already been declared.

What could not sustaine them but ye spirite of God & his grace? May not & ought not the children of these fathers rightly say : Our faithers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this willdernes; but they cried unto ye Lord, and he heard their voyce, and looked on their adversitie…"

Will pays tribute to William F. Buckley

George Will pays tribute today to William F. Buckley. With recollections, humor and grace, Will reminds us of what the young Bill Buckley saw at the start of his more then half-century of public service and what he decided to do about it. America is much the better for it.

Buckley, for whom the nation should give thanks, turns 80 on Thanksgiving Day, and National Review, the conservative journal he founded in the belly of the beast -- liberal Manhattan -- turned 50 this month. It is difficult to remember, and hence especially important to remember, the slough of despond conservatism was in 1955.

Ohio Sen. Robert Taft, for more than a decade the leading conservative in elective office, had died in 1953. Joseph McCarthy had tainted conservatism in the process of disgracing himself with bile and bourbon. President Eisenhower had so placidly come to terms with the flaccid consensus of the 1950s that the editor of U.S. News & World Report, the most conservative newsweekly, suggested that both parties nominate Eisenhower in 1956.
.Read Will's entire column here.

Thank you, Bill Buckley. Many more happy and productive years.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Churchill Series - Nov. 23,2005

On November 28,1999, the last Thanksgiving of the 20th Century, CBS newsman Bob Schieffer asked: to whom do we owe the most?

Schieffer didn't elaborate on the question. He knew we would understand he wasn’t talking about who we owed the most for material wealth or miracle medicines that keep many of us alive. He knew we'd know he meant owed the most for our freedoms?

Schieffer said there were two we owed most: Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt.

As we think back on the "good war" that America fought, it is easy enough to forget that even after Hitler had built the greatest war machine the world had ever known, some, even in Great Britain, still believed a way could be found to coexist with the Nazis.

And to many in America, Europe and its problems seemed no threat to a country an ocean away.

Yet those two men saw what so many others did not: They recognized that it was not the weapons the Nazis assembled that posed the danger, but the hatred that fueled their cause.

They understood the world would be plunged into a New Dark Age if the Nazis went unchecked, and so they asked what leaders seldom ask of their people any more: they asked for sacrifice.

(In) an age when so much of life - from the products we buy to the decisions our leaders make - is so heavily influenced by polling and public opinion surveys, when we so often confuse celebrities with heroes, let us pause to remember two men who followed their inner lights and may have saved the world.

May we forever stand in awe of their skill and greatness.

Bill Buckley's wonderful sense of humor

When I paid tribute to William F. Buckley's many contributions to America, I didn't mention his great sense of humor, but it's surely another wonderful Buckley contribution.

Four sample follow: two from memory, and two from a Jeff Jacoby column.

Buckley once said that given a choice between being governed by the Harvard faculty or a Congress composed of the first 500 people listed in the Boston phone directory, he'd opt for the phone directory.

He received a letter from an irate National Review reader telling him in great detail what a miserable editor he was. The letter ended with "cancel my subscription."

Buckley wrote back that he certainly had shortcomings and would try to do better. But as for canceling the subscription, he told the reader, "Dammit, cancel it yourself."

When asked why Robert Kennedy was refusing to appear on his Firing Line interview program, Buckley asked "Why does baloney resist the meat grinder?"

A National Review editorial comment began: "The attempted assassination of Sukarno last week had all the earmarks of a CIA operation. Everyone in the room was killed except Sukarno."

Bill Buckley, a great American and a very funny guy.

William F. Buckley: A tribute.

William F. (Bill) Buckley is a great American whose contributions to our country span more than half a century.

In 1950, he came to public attention when he wrote God and Man at Yale, which warned that ideology was pushing scholarship aside on university campuses. How prophetic he was.

Five years later, Buckley founded National Review at a time when, as former NR staffer Chris Weinkopf said, “the world considered conservative intellectuals a genetic impossibility. Just nine years later, NR would prove instrumental in Barry Goldwater's rise to the GOP nomination for president. In 1980, Goldwater protégé Ronald Reagan won the White House, and made National Review mandatory reading for his entire staff."

President Reagan often said it wouldn't have been possible for him to become President without Bill Buckley and NR.

Except for far-right extremists who still resent Buckley's attacks on the conspiracy-driven John Birch Society, is there a conservative or libertarian group active today that doesn't acknowledge a debt to Bill Buckley? Young Americans for Freedom was literally founded in his home. The many important research and policy proposals of The Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute are part of Buckley’s legacy.

With words, ideas, and actions, Buckley has unapologetically championed the American creed, often at times when few others were doing so. Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby recently wrote an appreciation of Buckley which included this:

I was a 17-year-old college sophomore when I discovered National Review. A quarter-century later, I no longer recall where I came across my first issue, or what was on its cover. What I do recall, vividly, is the thrill of encountering words and arguments that gave shape and coherence to my own inchoate political beliefs. The importance of individual freedom, the dangers of a too-powerful government, the blessings of a free market, the imperative of fighting communism, the indispensability of faith -- these were themes I encountered again and again in the pages of NR. And, in those pre-Reagan days, almost nowhere else.

Bill Buckley is 80 years old on Nov. 24, 2005. Let us give thanks for his life: and wish him many more fruitful and happy years.

A Googlepalooza: What's that?

Until this morning I never knew what a Googlepalooza was. How about you?

I just learned there's a lot of interesting information and opinion in a Googlepalooza. And lots of links, too.

I read a New York Times claim that Google is making the Web safe for advertising. I’m not sure I believe that.

I read an expert’s prediction Google will soon be the Net. I doubt that.

The Washington Post is proclaiming that Google's main focus is to be a bull in a china shop.

A bull in a china shop? Now there’s an odd corporate goal.

You can read about all of the above and much more at Newmark’s Door’s Googlepalooza.

I learned a lot.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Traveling Nov. 22 - No blogging

I'll be traveling to New York City today to join family and friends for Thanksgiving.

Blogging resumes tomorrow, November 23.

I'll also blog on Thanksgiving Day.


Monday, November 21, 2005

The Churchill Series - Nov. 21, 2005

(One of a series of daily posts about Winston S. Churchill.)

October 30, 1930 saw the publication of Churchill's autobiography, My Early Life. It sold well and was translated into many languages. His biographer, Martin Gilbert, has called it " a gentle, witty account of (Churchill's) school and army days, with many reflections on life and politics."

Churchill's childhood is like something out of Dickens. His parents treated him with indifference and ridicule. He was bullied at school and beaten unmercifully by masters, in one case so badly that his governess had to treat and dress his wounds for days.

Given all of that, I wonder how Churchill could write "a gentle, witty account" of his school days?

But since I've not read My Early Like, and because, like so many of you, I have extremely high regard for both Churchill and Gilbert, I'll pass on the question until I know more.

When I know enough to hazard an answer, I'll share it with you. Can any of you provide information now? It's welcome. Please speak up.

Meanwhile, here's a paragraph from My Early Life that caught my eye. The Churchill Centre included it in its Action This Day series, but did not cite a page.

We find Churchill digressing from the autobiographical to counsel parents. To fully appreciate what he is saying, imagine that Winston Churchill is visiting America to promote his book.

He's guesting today with Oprah.

An audience member stands and says she' s worried. Her teenage son wants to ride horses. She thinks that's dangerous. She wants to tell him he can't ride them but is afraid doing so will shatter his self-concept and lower his SAT score.

What advice does Churchill have for her and other parents in her predicament?

"And here I say to parents, especially to wealthy parents, 'Don't give your son money, give him horses.' No one ever came to grief - except honourable grief - through riding horses. No hour of life is lost that is spent in the saddle. Young men have often been ruined through owning horses, or through backing horses, but never through riding them; unless of course they break their necks, which, taken at a gallop, is a very good death to die."
What do you think? Will Oprah invite him back?
Martin Gilbert, Churchill: A Life. (p. 496)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Churchill Series - Nov. 20, 2005

(One of a series of daily posts about Winston S. Churchill.)

From the first joint Anglo-American war planning conference in Washington in late Dec. 1941 and Jan. 1942, almost until the June 1944 Normandy invasion, the question of when the Allies should launch a cross-channel attack divided the British and American leaders. The British consistently argued for later dates; the Americans for earlier ones.

Their differences led to frequent arguments, usually loud and fierce. Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Marshall Alan Brooke, recorded in his diary that one planning session between American and British chiefs of staff led to "the mother and father of all rows."

At times, leaders of each nation questioned the good sense and motives of leaders of the other nation. But that said, it must always be remembered that when the die was cast, the two nations stood together.

Now let's get Churchill in here.

Of course, Churchill argued for delay. He feared an attack before Germany was near collapse would mean the channel would "run red with blood." Roosevelt pushed for as early a date as possible. His military leaders, especially Army Chief of Staff George Marshall, supported him.

In those contentious circumstances, a joke began circulating among the Americans.

It seems that late one night, the telephone rang at 10 Downing Street.

A young operator, new to the job, answered. Someone with a gruff voice demanded to speak to Churchill.

The operator was intimidated and put the call through without asking who the caller was.

But Churchill immediately recognized the caller's voice.

"Ah, Marshall Stalin, how's everything in Moscow?"

"I don't know. I'm here with my army in Calais."

Is the AP a responsible news organization?

The Associated Press just provided thoughtful people with another reason to ask whether it’s any longer a responsible news organization.

The AP is reporting:

A man once imprisoned with Iraq's most feared terror leader said Sunday that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was tortured regularly by Jordanian prison officials in the late 1990s and was held six months in solitary confinement.

Offering possible partial clues as to why the Jordanian-born al-Qaida leader chose Amman for triple hotel bombings earlier this month, the former cellmate, Yousef Rababaa, said: "He hated the intelligence services intensely, and the authorities didn't know how to deal with his new ideology."
In its report, the AP acknowledges Rababaa provided no evidence to back his claim.

The AP fails to say whether it asked Rababaa why he didn't make his claim years ago or why he's only making it now.

The AP doesn't even say whether it made at least a token effort to verify Rababaa's claim. Absent assurance that it did, the AP very likely didn't. In any case, the AP offers no independent verification of Rababaa's claim.

The AP knows its unverified torture story will engender, in many quarters, sympathy and support for a terrorist who daily kills innocents at prayer, weddings and schools. The AP knows its story will also make more difficult and deadly the work of all those protecting the innocent in Iraq and seeking to bring peace to that country.

Knowing all that, the AP rushed Rababaa's claim onto its wire.

Who is not asking whether the AP is any longer a responsible news organization?

Mark Steyn answers a letter writer

If you regularly read columnist Mark Steyn, you know he's smart and funny; and doesn't suffer fools gladly or any other way.

But James Baxter mustn't know any of that because he wrote Steyn:

Boy, it’s not hard to become an Anti-Semite with people like you around.

Seldom have I seen such classic Jewish opportunism, warmongering, hatemongering and Jewish racism.

James Baxter

For his effort, Baxter received from Steyn the following:
Well, don’t let me stop you becoming an anti-Semite if you’re that eager to. It’s a free country, unless you’re writing from Saudi Arabia or Syria.
Here's a place where you can read more Steyn.