From 1896…..

I have often stated at the end of the day this blog is about things that interest me, and hopefully my mentioning a topic here or there will also amuse someone else.  Such is the following from the latest book I am reading.

The imagery in the following account of how William McKinley came to know of his nomination for president on the Republican ticket is grand to ponder in light of our technology driven age.

Consider if you will that for these men of the late nineteenth century, many of them Civil War veterans, what author Edward P. Kohn writes about in Hot Time In The Old Town was almost an “eerie experience”.

It was a time, of course, when nominees to-be usually did not attend political conventions and so that is how we find McKinley at his Ohio home surrounded by a few associates and newspapermen.  Upstairs in the hallway are telegraph machines delivering the latest news from the convention being held in Minneapolis.  Mrs. McKinley and some ladies were in a separate room, and one of her cousins relayed messages that were also coming via a telephone.

McKinley waited and obviously was wondering what had happened as the minutes ticked away after his name had been placed in nomination by the Ohio delegation.  No news was forthcoming and McKinley was wondering if the phone was working.  When he lifted the receiver he found the line was open and someone had left the circuit open.  What had happened was that for a full half hour after his name was placed in nomination the convention was filled with cheers and chants.  One of those in the room with McKinley will write of the sound over the phone sounding like “a storm at sea with wild, fitful shrieks of wind.” McKinley will easily secure the nomination.


Russia Looking For Black Widows, Bomber May Have Already Penetrated Security Ring For Olympic Games

The hunt is on.  (Is this not how Frederick Forsyth might start a plot line in a book?)

A possible female suicide bomber may have already made it past the ring of security for the Sochi Olympic Games, according to reports from ABC News and NBC News.

Russian security services may be looking for as many as four “black widows” who have been dispatched to disrupt the Olympics, NBC News reported Monday. The suspected terrorist who may be inside the security ring is believed to be a young widow of an Islamic militant killed by Russian security forces last year. She is described as being affiliated with the Caucasus Emirate, the terror group led by Doku Umarov that has threatened attacks against next month’s Winter Games in Sochi.

Wanted posters describe the woman as having a limp in her right leg, a left arm that does not bend at the elbow and a 4-inch scar on her cheek. The notices say that Russian security officials have been informed of her possible departure from Dagestan earlier this month.

Militant groups in the Caucasus are known to use “black widows,” considered by security experts to be harder to identify because they do not fit the stereotype of an Islamic militant and can easily change their appearance with clothing and makeup.

Russian authorities are primarily responsible for security at the Games, although the U.S. government provides additional security for the Olympic delegation. About 40,000 Russian police and military personnel have been dispatched to the region.

Senator King Urges Athletes And Tourists Against Attending Olympics In Russia

Tensions and uncertainty mounts as we near the start of the Sochi Olympic Games.  The United States will send warships to the area in case of a crisis.

Russian terrorists, who recently carried out a successful bombing at a train station in the Russian town of Volgograd, killing more then 30 people, have released a new video promising to kill tourists attending the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia next month.

In the video, the terrorists can be seen making bombs, one assumes for Sochi.

If that weren’t disturbing enough, US Senator Angus King (I-ME), who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, went on CNN yesterday and warned American athletes and tourists against attending the Olympics in Russia because he says it’s simply not safe.

Because of his position on the Intelligence Committee, it’s a fair guess that King knows something that he’s not telling us, and it’s not good.

King told CNN yesterday that because of security concerns, “I would not go, and I don’t think I would send my family.” The Senator added, “It’s just such a rich target. It would be a stretch, I think, to say I’d send my family.”

United States Prepares For Terror At Sochi Olympics, Warships On Standby

There is no doubt, and for just cause, that the world community is taking steps to deal with a potential crisis at the Sochi Olympics.  There has been deep and lingering concerns that Russia is not prepared to keep the games and athletes safe.  Without full confidence that the host country can do the job means that the world’s leader must step in and make sure there are plans in place should a disaster occur.

From CNN.

The U.S. military will have up to two warships and several large transport aircraft on standby under a contingency plan to help evacuate American officials and athletes during the Sochi Olympics if ordered, a U.S. official with direct knowledge of the plan told CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

The official said the State Department would take the lead in organizing and evacuating Americans. The official declined to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the information.  The official emphasized the Russian government would have to give its approval for U.S. assets to enter Russia.  The ships and planes are “just in case the Russians ask for help,” the official said. But the assets, he said, are clearly there “if something happens like a major terrorist attack and we need to get Americans out.”

The plan calls for the warships to enter the Black Sea in the next few days. In a crisis the ships’ helicopters could fly quickly to Sochi and begin evacuating American officials. C-17 aircraft being put on standby in Germany could be on the scene in about two hours for additional evacuations.  Other aircraft contracted to the State Department would also play a role.

Gay Rights Front And Center At Davos, Panels To Discuss Russia And Putin

Davos, and those who can make things happen, have lined up.

Megadonors Paul Singer and Dan Loeb are planning to use the typically staid World Economic Forum at Davos later this week to make a statement about gay rights, flying in LGBT activists from around the globe, including a major critic of Russian President Vladmir Putin, POLITICO has learned.

Singer and Loeb, partnering with the Human Rights Campaign, have organized an event with two panels at Davos that are dedicated to the international LGBT rights agenda. A featured attendee at one of the panels will be Masha Gessen, a lesbian mother of four and a journalist and activist who has been deeply critical of Putin and of Russia’s new anti-gay law.

“There is systematic repression of human rights of gays and lesbians in a number of countries represented at the World Economic Forum,” a source close to Singer said of the panels, which have a range of sponsors from both sides of the political spectrum. Among the corporate sponsors are Microsoft and Time Warner.

“Any gathering of business and political leaders from across the globe should include a spotlight on human rights. All of us convening here have an opportunity to move the needle for freedom of LGBT individuals in our countries and around the world. There was a void in Davos,” the source said. “That’s why Singer began reaching out to a number of players in the business world and in the LGBT advocacy community to pull this event together. It’s part of his overall partnership with [Human Rights Campaign].”

One panel is entitled, “Gay Rights — Progress and Backlash. Reports from Russia, Uganda, Jamaica.” The other is called “The LGBT Agenda, US Politics, & US Foreign Policy” and features Singer, Loeb, Microsoft executive vice president Brad Smith and HRC head Chad Griffin. Both are moderated by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, and there will be remarks by the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, according to a source familiar with the planning.

But the presence of Gessen is likely to create the biggest stir. She has written forthcoming books on the aftermath of the jailing of members of the punk band Pussy Riot and on the lives of gay couples in Russia. She also wrote “The Man without a Face: the Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin.”

Gessen is attempting to move her family to the United States because of the new anti-gay laws in Russia, which Putin has defended as aimed at protecting children from gays. Gay relationships had been decriminalized in Russia two decades earlier after the Soviet Union fell.

The panels that Singer is co-sponsoring are part of an initiative he launched through the Human Rights Campaign late last year to focus on gay rights globally, but also to highlight Republicans who are sympathetic to LGBT causes.

The Public Split Between MSNBC And Governor Chris Christie

This is one of those side-stories that makes the Governor Chris Christie mess so compelling to follow.  Who does not enjoy watching a real political scandal play out in public?  When the emails were released to the public showing the Christie administration was neck deep in the mire there was no denying this story had legs.  In the past week this story became an onion with layers of intrigue standing on long legs.   There is no way any news operation can do other than follow the leads that present themselves.  The Christie administration can not be upset that journalists are doing their job when it comes to the biggest scandal to have hit in quite some time.

It was a match made in moderately minded Northeast Corridor heaven.

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey needed a TV network that would burnish his bipartisan bona fides and showcase his gleefully contrarian style. MSNBC craved a Republican who cut against the party grain and lit up the screen with his everyman-ish, Springsteen-loving spontaneity.

An on-air romance blossomed, forged over chummy strolls along the Jersey Shore and heart-to-hearts in the studio about everything from overeating to education, embodying the aisle-crossing aspirations of this partisan era.

Now, the improbable relationship between a governor with his eyes on the White House and a network determined to break into the top tier, up to now so beneficial to both, has curdled in a spectacularly public fashion.