Firstly, my apologies to the family of Doris ‘Dorrie’ Miller, the courageous black (African-American, if you prefer) cook, who won the Navy Cross at Pearl Harbor, and deservedly so. I confused him with another Miller! I suspect that it was not easy in 1941 for black servicemen to win awards for gallantry. It was terribly sad that this brave man lost his life when USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56) was torpedoed by the I-175 off Makin on November 24th 1943.
The Liscombe Bay’s loss illustrated the vulnerability of aircraft carriers – she blew up after taking just one torpedo, although there are indications that a second fish was fired. Down below decks, Dorrie Miller would not have stood a chance – only a few hundred of her crew survived. He remains an iconic figure and rightly so. It wasn’t just his bravery at Pearl Harbor which won admiration, it was his quick-thinking. I don’t care what color he was – he was an authentic American hero.
The Donald in Trouble
The Democrats think it’s all over. The national polls are headed their way, they set the Donald up nicely with the Khans at the Democratic Convention and he keeps shooting his mouth off and hitting himself in the foot.
Hold your horses. It ain’t over yet. The polling companies are neither neutral nor professional, nor are the people who commission them. Time and again they have underestimated the vote for conservative candidates or positions. They got it spectacularly wrong in the British General Election last year, in the last Israeli General Election and in the Brexit Referendum.
In our referendum they couldn’t even get the exit poll right! How can you foul up an exit poll? It’s not a predictive poll of voting intentions, it’s a poll of how people have actually voted.
The exit poll, just to remind you, was 52% Remain 48% Leave. The result was the other way round. A 4% lead for the Bad Guys in the poll became a 4% lead for the Good Guys when the votes were counted.
In order to arrive at a true result my rule of thumb is to deduct 5% from the left-wing candidate’s vote and add 5% to the conservative candidate’s. If you adjust the polling data that way things don’t look so bad for Trumpy.
Several reasons have been advanced for the inability of polling organisations to predict election or referendum results:
(1) Conservative voters tend to resent being asked how they are going to vote.
(2) Conservatives tend to keep their opinions to themselves.
(3) Many conservative voters are elderly, their conservatism being based on their life experience, and are harder to reach.
(4) Many elderly voters are not online and not all use phones.
I would add a fifth reason: polling companies do not select a sufficiently wide range of people to do the actual polling. A conservative voter is more likely to open up to a fellow-conservative. It was noticeable that in the Brexit referendum online polls, with no personal interaction, were consistently more accurate than telephone polls.
Another point, often overlooked by liberals on the littorals, and by overseas commentators, is that a US general election is not really a single election. In reality it’s 51 separate elections, in the states and the District of Columbia. A national poll has to be carefully weighted between states. I suspect a lot of polls have a littoral bias.
The Khan Controversy
This undoubtedly damaged Donald Trump. The ambush bears the stamp of Hillary Clinton’s close friend and adviser Huma Abedin, a Muslim and dual Indian/US national, whose mother is Pakistani. The Democrats are no doubt congratulating themselves.
Although I am a conservative and a strong supporter of Donald Trump that does not mean that I agree with everything he says, or the way he says it. His comment about Mrs Khan was fair, but better left unsaid, given that she is the grieving mother of a son who died in combat. You’re not going to win many battles against mothers who have given their sons.
I wish I had been advising Donald Trump on his response! I would have gone for something much more presidential, with a word of thanks for the service of Captain Humayun Khan, who died in Iraq in heroic circumstances. By all accounts he was a good officer and I say nothing against him.
However, the fuss kicked up by the liberal media has been overdone. Donald Trump’s response lacked a certain grace, with respect, but it was factually accurate and wasn’t rude or abusive. There is plenty of time for him to say that he ‘mis-spoke’ and to pay tribute to Captain Khan’s service. I hope that he does.
Khizr Khan, however, is fair game. He’s playing politics and has mounted a public attack, itself lacking in grace, on the Republican nominee for president. It is legitimate to scrutinise his background and question his motives.
The mainstream media of course didn’t do any background checks. Thankfully Theodore and Walid Shoebat did. They have named Khizr Khan as an agent of the notorious Moslem Brotherhood terrorist organisation, established by the German Abwehr intelligence agency in 1928. He is also an outspoken supporter of sharia, i.e. Islamic law, the law that says it’s OK to chop off hands and feet.
That isn’t going to go down too well in the Bible Belt. The only feet that get chopped off there have been caught up in combine harvesters. You can imagine the riposte – so you Democrats are saying that chopping off the hands and feet of thieves is fine? Whatever happened to community service?
Looks to me like the Democrats have screwed up royally. All somebody needs to do is to get the Shoebats’ work, or this column, into Donald Trump’s hands, and the fightback on this issue will begin.
I hold no brief for the Shoebats, but I admire good work whoever does it. Their research into Khizr Khan looks good to me.
Hillary is still weak on gun control, indeed it’s her Achilles Heel. Never mind the trail of dead bodies behind the Clintons. Never mind that the Krauts (DVD again) arranged to fly a member of Bill Clinton’s Cabinet into a mountain (the old fake radio navigation transmitter mounted on a truck with a generator trick again) and he didn’t say a word, pretending that the highly professional USAF pilots didn’t know how to fly the plane. Hillary wants to take away your guns.
She says she doesn’t want to repeal the Second Amendment, although I bet she does, really. Donald Trump, whose IQ score is some way above what my colleagues on VT are giving him, has hit the nail right on the head: she won’t go for a constitutional amendment, she’ll just appoint intellectually dishonest liberal judges, if that is not a tautology, who will misinterpret the Second Amendment and water it down.
The conservative movement has learnt its lesson from Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court cannot be trusted to interpret the US Constitution in good faith, never mind accurately. How a bunch of judges, even liberals, could have concluded that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson believed in abortion is beyond me. They were good men, who believed in the value of human life. Authorising abortionists to take away life at its most helpless and when most in need of the protection of the law must have been about the furthest thing from their minds when they approved the Constitution.
We in the UK have seen a bunch of judges conclude, in the notorious Factortame cases, that they were not bound by the clear terms of an Act of Parliament, indeed the House of Lords even went so far as to purport to ‘set aside’ the Merchant Shipping Act 1988. Their purported order was junk of course, with every respect, and their reasoning, if reasoning is not too strong a word, ludicrous, but nevertheless that’s what they tried to do.
Of course the Democrats will say that they only want to take away big guns, such as assault rifles, but then they would say that, wouldn’t they? We all know they hate gun-owners and the very idea of liberty and want to take away your guns for the very reason your Founding Fathers said you could have them in the first place. As Washington and Jefferson knew, a man with a gun is a free man.
The IQ Thing
Assessing IQ is fraught with hazards. Being the modest sort of chap that I am (!) I underestimated my own IQ for years, not that I thought it about very much. Other people did however. Until the CPS got up in court and seriously suggested that I was mentally ill, because I had reached conclusions they were not smart enough to understand, with respect, in an area of counter-intelligence so difficult and complex they barely knew it existed, I had never voluntarily undertaken an IQ test. I then joined Mensa at the first attempt, which not everyone does.
I was scored at school, however, and my score was so high, apparently, it went all the way to the Vatican (I was schooled mostly in Catholic schools in Queensland and New South Wales). When I turned up at the Vatican in 1975 with an invite to a general audience with His Holiness Pope Paul VI, who made as much an impression on me as Mother Teresa had in 1973, the boys already had a file on me, and it wasn’t just a sheet of paper.
I know a little about intelligence, having some of it myself, if you can call an estimated IQ in the mid-180s as intelligent (the nice lady psychiatrist appointed at the urging of the CPS gave a starting figure in interview of 185). Take it from me: Donald Trump has NOT got an IQ in the 120s. I’m not sure I’d ever meet him at a Mensa social, but you’re looking at some way north of 120.
Part of the problem is his hair, partly because he has some. For some reason geniuses are supposed to have receding hairlines. People also have an unreasoning prejudice against blonds, and associate being blond with being dumb. Intelligence is not linked to hair color or hairline. Donald Trump is one smart cookie, certainly smart enough to be president. You guys have elected a lot dumber presidents. You wouldn’t catch a President Trump giving away the Panama Canal, for example, or cancelling the B-1, or telling the Air Force they couldn’t bomb Hanoi because it might upset the North Vietnamese.
This election is getting nastier by the day. The Democrats want a dirty campaign and they’re going to get it. A gentleman does not normally comment on a lady’s age, but Hillary Clinton is no lady, no offense intended, she’s a politician.
She will have turned 69 by polling day. Rising 70 is not a good age at which to be elected president. That means that she would be 73 by the end of her first term and 77 at the end of her second term. American voters normally think two terms when electing a president, which is why the Germans have to shoot them if they’re any good, or at least try to, in their first term.
If Hillary were in good health it wouldn’t matter so much, although the job takes a lot out of you, unless like Barack Obama you don’t really care because it’s not your country anyway, and you play golf every other day. Hillary Clinton is not in good health, however, and the prognosis isn’t that brilliant, sadly.
I expect her health to come under increasing scrutiny. She also has the problem that she has an abrasive personality, no offense intended, so that not everyone is going to be as sympathetic as I am.
The 50 Republican National Security Experts
I wouldn’t put too much faith in that silly letter to the New York Times if I were the Democrats. The Times often has sensible letters (including one from me once, defending the jury in the O J Simpson murder trial and acquitting them of the charge of racial bias). This wasn’t one of them.
For one thing they aren’t all Republicans, and the ones that are, are mostly RINOs. True, they all got good jobs in Republican administrations, but they’re not all experts. Only a handful made any meaningful contribution to the Global War on Terror. Most of the time they held things up, when they weren’t actually working for the opposition.
My Reading This Week
My reading this week has been Fighting Admirals of World War II, by the prolific naval author David Wragg (2009, Pen & Sword). I always enjoy reading his books. They are well-written and well-researched, and Fighting Admirals is no exception.
He takes a selection of the leading admirals from the major navies of World War II, although curiously there seems to have been a different selection for the US edition, which includes Admiral Lutjens of the Kriegsmarine but leaves out the Italians, who admittedly didn’t fight very hard, at least their admirals didn’t.
I can’t quarrel with his selection. Admirals Cunningham, Somerville, Ramsay, Pound and Horton feature from the Royal Navy, and Nimitz, Fletcher, Spruance, Halsey and King from the US Navy.
Neither Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound, nor Fleet Admiral Ernest King actually fought a naval battle in World War II, so to describe them as ‘fighting admirals’ is a little odd. Poor old Dudley Pound was being blackmailed by the Germans, which explains his role in the loss of HMS Hood and Convoy PQ17.
Wragg is far too kind to both these gentlemen, with respect. Pound’s decision to order Convoy PQ17 to scatter, a decision which was for the Convoy Commodore not him, cannot be blamed on his brain tumor, advanced though it was. As Wragg acknowledges, he should have been retired on medical grounds before the war. One very interesting new fact which emerges from Wragg’s research is that the tumor was detected, but the diagnosis suppressed from the Admiralty.
King did not have the excuse of being ill. A virulent Anglophobe, who did immense damage to Anglo-American relations, he was a German agent throughout World War II, unfairly laying the blame on poor old Admiral Husband Kimmel for Pearl Harbor, which King knew was coming.
It is time to stop pussyfooting around with King. His decision in early 1942 not to order convoys on America’s East Coast, and related orders, cannot be explained away as poor judgment. They were taken at Axis request to get Allied ships sunk and Allied sailors drowned, pure and simple. Interestingly, it looks like you guys spotted King, because he decided to have a stroke in 1947, around the time that his former boss James Forrestal’s cover was blown.
Wragg is however generous in his praise of great admirals like Nimitz, Spruance, Fletcher, Cunningham, Somerville, Ramsay and Horton. I am pleased that he included Jack Fletcher, hero of the Battle of the Coral Sea. King’s subsequent treatment of Fletcher was inexcusable. Jack Fletcher was outnumbered and didn’t have the luxury of reserves. He wasn’t unduly cautious – he just didn’t have enough ships and aircraft to take the fight to the Japanese enemy in the way he would have wanted to. He was a fine admiral, and a good man.
Wragg’s treatment of Halsey is balanced, and fair. Spruance and Mitscher were greater carrier admirals by far. Like many naval historians of World War II, Wragg underestimates the power of the battleship. It is a curious fact that the Battle of Midway, when most of the aircraft carriers participating were sunk and none of the battleships, is held up as evidence that the battleship was now obsolete. Thankfully for the Good Guys Admiral Yamamoto had much the same view of the battleship as David Wragg.
It’s a good book, and well worth reading, but it won’t be the final word on any of the naval leaders covered.
Michael Shrimpton was a barrister from his call to the Bar in London in 1983 until being disbarred in 2019 over a fraudulently obtained conviction. He is a specialist in National Security and Constitutional Law, Strategic Intelligence and Counter-terrorism. He is a former Adjunct Professor of Intelligence Studies at the American Military University.