Saturday, November 04, 2006

Why the Duke Hoax Continues

William “Bill” Anderson is an economics professor at Frostburg State University in Maryland. He's written often on the Duke Hoax. His commentary's been informed and incisive. Anderson’s paid particular attention to Duke University’s role in enabling a hoax to become a witch hunt that’s led to massive injustices. His most recent column begins:

The "60 Minutes" broadcast has come and gone. Millions of people have seen the video of the accuser doing a pole dance at a strip club at the same time she and the police were claiming she was too injured even to sit upright.

The second stripper at the infamous lacrosse party now claims that the accuser told her to hit her in order to inflict bruises in hopes of being able to frame the players on criminal assault and rape charges.

One bombshell after another hits this case, yet the prosecutor, Michael Nifong, continues to push it to trial, and no one with authority will do anything to stop him.

Furthermore, the demand for trial and criminal convictions not only echoes from the black community in Durham, North Carolina, but also from vocal segments of the Duke University faculty. There may not be evidence that anyone committed rape, but a large and influential portion of the population at Durham wants these young men in prison for the rest of their lives.

In most situations, one would expect that the existence and publication of information that obliterates a criminal case would be taken seriously by the authorities, but we do not see that happening here. Thus, we ask ourselves why this case is different, and why much of Durham and the Duke University faculty have rushed well beyond judgment to a point at which they demand that no one confuse them with facts.

The short version of the answer is this: the politics of race and sex trump justice and even logic. The longer version reaches the same conclusion, but demonstrates the path that is taken – and why that is so. As I explain why this case still is alive, I must begin with the thought that also is at the end of this analysis, that being that I doubt I ever will be involved in or even see this level of hypocrisy and cynicism on behalf of people who claim to care about things like justice.
The rest of Anderson’s column is here. It’s the first of a planned two column series.

Message to Bill Anderson: Great column.

Something else: I can't resist repeating this paragraph:
The short version of the answer is this: the politics of race and sex trump justice and even logic. The longer version reaches the same conclusion, but demonstrates the path that is taken – and why that is so. As I explain why this case still is alive, I must begin with the thought that also is at the end of this analysis, that being that I doubt I ever will be involved in or even see this level of hypocrisy and cynicism on behalf of people who claim to care about things like justice

Israel at war soon?

John Keegan is an outstanding historian. He’s also a superb military analyst. In the London Telegraph he predicts :

There will soon be another war in the Middle East, this time a renewal of the conflict between the Israel Defence Force (IDF) and Hizbollah.

The conflict is inevitable and unavoidable. It will come about because Israel cannot tolerate the rebuilding of Hizbollah's fortified zone in south Lebanon, from which last year it launched its missile bombardment of northern Israel.

Hizbollah has now reconstructed the fortified zone and is replenishing its stocks of missiles there. Hamas is also creating a fortified zone in the Gaza Strip and building up its stocks of missiles. Israel, therefore, faces missile attack on two fronts. When the Israel general staff decides the threat has become intolerable, it will strike. […]

The big question hanging over an Israeli return to south Lebanon is whether that would provoke a war with Syria, Lebanon's Arab protector. The answer is quite possibly yes, but that such an extension of hostilities might prove welcome both to Israel and to the United States, which regards Syria as Iran's advanced post on the Mediterranean shore.

What is certain is that – probably before the year is out – Israel will have struck at Hizbollah in south Lebanon. And the strike will come even sooner if Hizbollah reopens its missile bombardment of northern Israel from its underground systems.
You can read Keegan’s entire analysis here.

Durham DA poll commentary

Liestoppers and KC Johnson at Durham-in-Wonderland both post on poll results released yesterday by supporters of Louis Cheek.

Those results show a tight Durham DA‘s race with Cheek gaining strength and a very high percentage of undecideds/don’t knows (30% combined)


Can there really be that high a percentage of undecs/dks just a few days before Election Day?

When I posted yesterday, I said that were a lot of them out there, at least judging by the folks I talk with.

Those people are a good Durham mix in terms of race, class, gender and age. In terms of political orientation, all of them fit somewhere on the liberal-independent- conservative spectrum. None are hard right or left.

As those people have started moving (again, just the ones I talk to), they’re moving to Cheek.

A neighbor and I were at our driveways getting our papers this morning. She’s been saying for months she doesn’t like the idea of “letting the Governor pick the DA when it’s our right to pick him.” But she walked over (very quickly, it’s cold here today) and said, “I’ve just decided the hell with it. I’m voting for Cheek. Nifong’s done too much wrong.”

KC Johnson says comparing the Cheek poll with one completed tow weeks ago by the N&O suggests:

the news of recent days (Nifong's admission that, despite his status as prosecutor and lead investigator for the case, he's never spoken to the accuser about her story, amidst revelations that the accuser was dancing in a most limber fashion at the time the authorities claim that she was in horrific pain from her attack) is having an effect.
He’s got that right. I’ve been hearing that everywhere I’ve gone during the past few days.

It’s Nifong’s failure to interview the accuser that’s bothering the people I talk with. They’re almost all decent people who are more concerned by the DA’s conduct than they are by the accuser’s actions, not that her actions don’t register on them with predictable effect.

For such people, Tuesday’s election isn’t about “Good Old Precious’” pole dancing. It’s about a DA whose actions many of them for the first time are starting to seriously question.

In a few hours my wife and I will be going with friends to the Georgia Tech – N.C. State game. We’ll do lots of tailgating so I’ll have a chance to get around and talk to many people.

I’ll post tomorrow around noon on what I hear and what I read in the papers.

To The Chronicle: Letter 2

Readers’ Note: On Oct. 27, Duke’s student newspaper, The Chronicle, published an editorial, “Blogger’s get point, miss complexity.”

The editorial and its comment thread are here.

Please read them if you haven’t already done so. See also The Chronicle's explanation of how it "writes" editorials.

The Chronicle editorial levels extremely serious charges at bloggers for, among other things, vilifying Duke President Brodhead, media and Durham DA Nifong. But The Chronicle offers not a single fact to support its many charges.

I’m responding to The Chronicle with a series of electronic letters which I’ll post at JinC. Each will be headed "To The Chronicle" and enumerated. A link to Letter 1 is here.

Letter 2 follows.


Editorial Board
The Chronicle
Duke University

Dear Editorial Board members:

Here’s my second letter responding to your Oct. 27 editorial, “Blogger’s get point, miss complexity.” A link to the first letter is here.

The letters are in posts at I’ll email you links so you can respond on the comment threads. I hope many of you will.

In your editorial you say: “An informed-complex-understanding of the situation requires in-depth conversations with administrators, lacrosse players, lacrosse parents, defense lawyers, hundreds of students, alumni and many more.”

That’s true as regards some matters. For example: Why did so many at Duke embrace a vicious, wildly improbable hoax?

We’ve all read about the Salem witch hysteria and trials. We also know that in the not too distant past some newspapers, law officials and others inflamed issues of race, class and gender for their own malevolent purposes.

How, then, was such a hoax embraced and enabled by so many at Duke?

Why did that hoax lead to the “burning” of many innocent people, including Duke students and a taxi driver who did nothing more than a citizen's duty?

Why does the University continue to let the innocent suffer?

Tha answers to those questions do require study; they are complex.

But does The Chronicle Editorial Board believe a decent person actually needs an “informed-complex-understanding of the situation” to ask those questions? Or to ask why so many at Duke duck them? Or to begin examining them?

During the week of Mar. 27 Nifong publicly ridiculed Duke students for exercising their right to counsel.He also asked why they needed attorneys if they were innocent.

Nifong was engaging in blatant McCarthyism.

Board members, you’ve read about “the McCarthy period” and surely heard professors speak out and condemn McCarthy, his methods and those who use them.

But I can't find a single Duke professor quoted in The Chronicle at that time who condemned Nifong’s McCarthyism. And, although I live in Durham, am often on campus and have a number of faculty friends and acquaintances, I can’t recall meeting or hearing at that time any who were speaking out publicly.

Yes, understanding exactly why Duke faculty didn’t speak out against Nifong’s McCarthyism requires an “informed-complex-understanding of the situation.”

But just what does a blogger or an editorial board member need to know to say the faculty should have spoken out?

Or to say that Duke is in serious trouble if many faculty members failed to speak out because of fear of colleague censure, indifference to students’ rights, outright support for Nifong or some other reason or combinations of reasons?

I wish many MSM journalists would ask those questions, and report and editorialize on what they learn. And I wish The Chronicle would, too.

Do you recall what happened on May 18 to your school-mate, Reade Seligmann and Duke’s silence afterwards?

I refer to the threats racists shouted at Seligmann, first as he walked to the Durham County Courthouse (“Justice will be done, Rapist”), and then within the courtroom before the judge entered.

Because some readers at JinC may not be aware of what happened, I’m including an excerpt from The Guardian's account of May 21 :

Reade Seligmann, 20, sat in a suit at a court hearing. From the gallery one onlooker shouted: 'Justice will be served, rapist!' Seligmann largely ignored the taunts, but as he left came the call 'Dead man walking!' and he blanched.
Decent people are outraged by what happened to Seligmann.

They also wonder why any university remains silent when one of it students – Black, White, Hispanic, Asian or otherwise – is subjected to the threats Reade Seligmann endured on May 18.

Bloggers and others have raised questions about Duke’s silence on May 18 and since. I’m proud to be one of them.

The silence of President Brodhead and almost all faculty on May 18 and since is a terrible thing.

Why do you castigate those who call attention to it? Shouldn't you instead be calling on Brodhead and the faculty to redress matters in so far as they can?

My next letter concerns your upset at what you see as bloggers vilifying DA Nifong.

I ask again that you keep my email adress in confidence.

Thank you for your attention to this letter.



Friday, November 03, 2006

The Churchill Series – Nov. 3, 2006

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

WARNING. Today’s post is drawn from the top of my head.

We know Churchill could be brusque and would often interrupt people who were telling him things he already knew. “Prey get on with it.”

There was the time a secretary taking dictation in the early morning hours at Chartwell sat by uncomfortably as Churchill and a young don who’d done research for him got into a dispute. The secretary tried to break the tension with: “My, it’s very dark outside.”

Churchill took his glasses off, stared at her for a moment and then said: “It generally it at night.”

But I can tell you of a group of people with whom Churchill was very patient and even thanked them fro telling him things he had known for decades.

The people were prominent Americans who visited Churchill during the period September, 1939, when he became First Lord of the Admiralty, until Pearl Harbor.

Many of the recorded in diaries, letters or in later interviews the time and care they took to explain to the First Lord and later the PM the American government’s constitutional structure, its public opinion and how all of that was influencing FDR, especially as the 1940 presidential election approached..

The visitors explained how the Electoral College worked, that FDR’s decision to seek a third term flew in the face of Washington’s “No third term” decision, and so on.

Churchill knew all of that. As we learned in Tuesday’s post he’d written a respected history of America. What’s more he’d visited the U.S. often and frequently wrote about America for British papers and magazines.

But invariably we find Churchill’s American visitors recording things like, “He listened attentively as I explained how the Electoral Collage works; and asked some good questions afterwards,” and, this a common one, “As I was leaving, Churchill thanked me again for what I’d told him about the President’s constraints.”

I always smile when I read those accounts.

BTW – If you haven’t read Churchill’s The Great Republic in his History of the English-Speaking Peoples I hope you do. Maybe put it on your holiday gift list.

Have a nice weekend.


Nifong is

click here.

Thanks, Liestoppers. You post says it. I hope many other bloggers link to it.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Churchill Series – Nov. 2, 2006

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

In early September, 1918 Churchill, Minister of Munitions in Lloyd George’s Government, crossed the Channel to meet in France with military leaders. Instead of sailing over, he flew.

On Sept. 8 he wrote Clementine about his flight. We’re about to read excerpts from the letter in just a moment. Some of his language might lead you to believe he sailed but in those days it was common to use the language of the seas rather than land when speaking about flying: planes were airships and pilots who flew passengers were captains, even if they were civilians, a usage we all know is still with us.

Letter excerpts:

My Beloved,

We sailed across the Channel through a fierce storm and were over the other side in about 11 minutes. …

It was so nice on the beach with you and [the children.] …

I do hope you were not cold going back in the car, or were not worried at my method of travel. It gives me a feeling of tremendous conquest over space , & I know you would love it yourself. The Canary [his pilot, Cyril Patterson] is much alarmed by motor car & thinks them far more dangerous than aeroplanes. …

I am very happy to be married to you my darling one, & as he years pass I feel more & more dependent on you & all you give me.

With tender love
Your own
Far from coming to “love” flying in those years, Clementine was greatly worried by Churchill’s flying. After he was involved in two crashes while attempting to earn his pilot’s license, she along with many friends persuaded Churchill to cease taking flying lessons.

Churchill greatly regretted not getting his license. During WW II on long flights he’d sometimes go into the cockpit and with a pilot beside him, have, as the British say, “a go at it.” I think I’ve described at least one such “go” in this series.

Helping Cheeks and Durham

With only 5 days to Election Day here in Durham, there really do seem to be a fair number of undecided voters. At least there are among the people I talk to.

What’s more, a lot of voters who say they’re voting for one or the other of the candidates are unenthusiastic about their choice.

So I’m ignoring what the polls say and continuing to try to get “undecideds” and some “unenthusiastics” to vote for Lewis Cheek.

Here’s some of what I do:

I pass by the table-pounders and fire-eaters no matter who they say they’re for. If they “catch” me, I move on as quickly as possible.

You know why.

When I meet quieter folks – people I think I can “kick things around with” - I start by asking what they think. Never whom they’re voting for. Just “What do you think about it all.”

Then I listen.

Sometimes what I hear tells me: “Save your time, John. You’ll only make him more committed to Nifong.”

Example: The other night I was at a meeting at which the Chairman of Durham’s Human Relations Commission was a panelist. He’d gone on quite a bit about Duke students drinking and noisemaking. He talked about a “time bomb” situation.

But when someone asked him what Durham’s H-R Commission had done or said when racists made threats, including death threats, against Reade Seligmann, the chairman seemed put out and said something about his director takes care of that and she wasn’t there.

I put the chairman in the “Strongly for Nifong” column.

When you give people who’ve made up their minds a chance to “dialogue” usually all you’re doing is helping reinforce what they believe. That’s especially true late in a campaign.

But people on the fence?

When people answer, “I really don’t know what to think, John,” that’s my cue.

I open with my “high card.”

“Did you hear what Professor Coleman said about that photo ID lineup Nifong arranged? The accuser was told she was only looking at pictures of players who were there. As Coleman said, “Any three students would do; there could be no wrong choice.”

If a person reacts to that with something like, “Sure, but they brought a lot of this on themselves,” I don’t give up, but I don’t press too hard.

I say something about the party being wrong and I wish Duke and other schools did more to crack down on underage drinking.

If the person continues in “they brought …” mode I nod and try to move on, with maybe a quiet mention of my worry about a DA who does what Nifong’s done.

On the other hand, if the person reacts favorably to, “Any three students would do; there could be no wrong choice,” I encourage the person to talk some more.

I usually go where the person is leading. So if the person says, “I didn’t like it that that Sgt. Gottlieb came up with his report months after it was due, and it had 32 pages of what he remembered,” I’ll agree.

I’ll add something about the trouble I have when I go to Harris Teeter or Kroger and have forgotten the shopping list: “I can’t remember half the things that were on the list. How’d Gottlieb do it?”

If the person responds, “John, he had to make that stuff up. You know that,” I agree and tell myself an undecided voter is moving into the Cheek column.

What about Monks?

I don’t spend much time talking about him. People know it’s a Nifong-Cheek race. Almost no one’s planning to vote for Monks no matter how much Bob Ashley’s Durham Herald Sun tries to pump Monks up.

If this late in the campaign someone’s for Monks, that person really wants Nifong just as Ashley does.

If I’ve been heard on Coleman and Gottlieb, the third thing I bring up is “the light and dark years.”

There’s still some “light” in Durham. Defense attorneys and some few others, using mostly Nifong’s own case material and “evidence,” have exposed the frame-up he hatched in the “dark” when people couldn’t see what he was doing.

Durham has a chance to throw that rascal out and assure that our DA’s office can stand “exposure to light.”

But if Nifong’s elected, Durham will endure “dark years” with a rogue DA and a city news editor who’s cheered him on.

Nifong “honored”

Durham DA Mike Nifong has just received The Florida Masochist’s Knuckehead of the Day Award.

In announcing Nifing’s award, FM blogger Bill Jempty said :

Seven months have passed and Nifong hasn't found the time to interview the accuser? He sure has had enough time to give press interviews and get re-elected. This man and prosecution both stink badly.
Nifong is not expected to be able to go to Florida to accept the award in person.

Instead, insiders say it’s likely Nifong will ask Durham Herald Sun Editor Bob Ashley and Attorney Steve Monks to accept on his behalf.

Both men are expected to agree to do so. Veteran Durham observer JinC explained :
“Ashley and Monks will do anything for Nifong.

Besides, going to the award ceremony and meeting Jempty gives both men some exposure. They’re already being talked about as future Knucklehead of the Day Award winners. In my opinion, Bob and Steve have already done enough to deserve the award.”
You can read more about the award here.

Full disclosure: Jempty says some nice things about JinC.

Thank you, Bill.

Jon and Ta Raise A

A blog friend sent along this link to what’s fast becoming a famous photo of soldiers in Iraq ridiculing Sen. John Kerry for his disgraceful cheap shot at Americans serving there in our military.

The soldiers are holding a large banner with a message for Kerry. It begins: “HALP US JON CARRY.”

If you haven’t seen the photo, it’s a “must see” unless you believe most of MSM have no liberal/leftist bias.

The soldiers' banner reminded me of something that happened back in the late 1990s.

Talk was growing about Kerry as a future Democratic presidential candidate. Naturally, people were also talking more about Kerry’s wife.

Sometimes I’d hear Ms. Heinz Kerry referred to as “Ta ree sa;” other times I’d hear “Ta raise a.”

Which was it?

I asked a friend who “travels in Washington circles.”

“She pronounces it ‘Ta raise a',” he said.

I thanked him and said I hoped I could keep that straight.

“That should be easy, John. Just remember Kerry’s a Democrat so he wants ta raise a your taxes.”

I’ve kept it straight ever since.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Churchill Series – Nov. 1, 2006

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

The Commons’ debate on whether to approve the Munich Treaty began on Oct. 3, 1938. The outcome was never in doubt. PM Neville Chamberlain had claimed the treaty would assure “peace in our time,” and that was firmly believed by most people, including the members of the House.

However, the member leading off the debate spoke in opposition :

The Prime Minister has believed in addressing Herr Hitler through the language of sweet reasonableness. I have believed that he was more open to the language of the mailed fist. …

We have taken away the defences of Czechoslovakia in the same breath as we have guaranteed them, as though you were to deal a man a mortal blow and at the same time insure his life.”
Was that Churchill speaking? It sounds just like him.

But the speaker was Alfred Duff Cooper. He'd just resigned as First Lord of the Admiralty in protest of the treaty, the only cabinet member to do so.

During the war, Duff as he was called, served in Churchill’s National Unity government in a number of capacities including Minister of Information. From 1943 to the end of the war he held the very challenging position of Government Representative to the French Committee of Liberation (de Gaulle).

Note in Duff Cooper's remarks the word Americans would spell "defenses" has the British spelling "defences." If you're a regualar series reader you know British spelling appear often.

And then there are my own spelling errors.

I hope you're back tomorrow.
William Manchester, The Last Lion, Winston Spencer Churchill, vol 2, Alone:1932-1940. (pgs. 365-366)

Second letter to DAA President

President Tom C. Clark
Duke Alumni Association

Dear President Clark:

On Oct. 11 I sent you the electronic letter below with copies to all DAA officers, directors, and executive director Sterly Wilder.

I asked questions a growing number of alums are asking.

We question President Brodhead’s position that there’s nothing the University can or should do about Durham DA Nifong’s plan to put a recent Duke graduate and two undergraduates on trial for multiple felonies, including rape.

Law Professor James Coleman has said Nifong’s committed so many procedural irregularities he should step aside and allow a special prosecutor to take over and review the case. I linked to a letter in which Professor Coleman explains further why how that should be done.

An outstanding historian, Professor Robert KC Johnson, recently published two research documents that bear directly on Brodhead’s position.

Johnson concluded Brodhead’s position, which almost all Duke leaders have publicly endorsed, ignores civil and legal rights generations of Americans, including many on university campuses, fought for and thought secure until Brodhead rejected them.

My letter linked to Johnson’s documents.

With all of that, I thought the least I’d receive from you and Duke's Alumni Association would be thoughtful reply that addressed the fairness, legal process and individual and collective rights issues Coleman and Johnson raised on behalf of David Evans '06 and Collin Finnerty '08 and Reade Seligmann '08.

Three weeks after sending my electronic letter, I’ve heard nothing from you or anyone else at DAA.

Why is that?



October 11 Letter to DAA President Clark with cc’s to officers, directors, and executive director Sterly Wilder.

President Tom C. Clark
Duke Alumni Association

Dear President Clark:

I'm a DAA member, hold two degrees from the university and blog at

I was surprised and disappointed by "Lacrosse Responses: A Few Key Points," particularly by those talking points appearing to endorse President Brodhead's views that the students indicted by DA Nifong should be tried and there is nothing Duke can or should do about the matter.

Many alums reject Brodhead's views. Our reasons are explicated in two research documents historian Robert KC Johnson recently published: "Justify or Retract" and "In Denial."

Johnson considered Brodhead's views in light of important legal, political, social and higher ed precedents. He concluded Brodhead's views are counter to hard-won rights and standards Americans cherish.

Regarding DAA's talking points, Johnson notes " [they suggest] professors and academic leaders must remain silent amidst procedural irregularities by local prosecutors. Such 'talking points,' of course, would repudiate 80-plus years of the history of higher education, dating back to [then Professor] Felix Frankfurter's public protests against the Sacco and Vanzetti case, and would effectively condemn the thousands of brave professors and academic leaders who stood up against the actions of corrupt Deep South prosecutors in the late 1950s and early 1960s".

Acceptance of Brodhead's views means we will not advocate for what Duke Law Professor James A. Coleman believes is a proper response to the investigative and legal travesties that led to the students' indictments.

From Coleman's June 13 letter to the Raleigh N&O:

Durham District Attorney Michael Nifong should ask the attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor for the rape case against three Duke lacrosse players and then remove himself and his office from further involvement. This is the only way to restore some degree of public confidence in the handling of the case. Up to now, virtually everything that Nifong has done has undermined public confidence in the case"
Endorsement of Brodhead’s views means remaining silent even as we know the truth of what Coleman goes on to say:
According to the police account of the identification … the police not only failed to include people they knew were not suspects among the photographs shown the woman, they told the witness in effect that there would be no such "fillers" among the photographs she would see.

This strongly suggests that the purpose of the identification process was to give the alleged victim an opportunity to pick three members of the lacrosse team who could be charged. Any three students would do; there could be no wrong choice."
Who doubts Coleman is describing a frame-up?

Months after the events, Nifong's principal investigator, Durham Police Sgt. Gottlieb, produced from two pages of handwritten notes thirty-two pages of typed, single space, detailed "evidence" he'd collected.

Gottleib's "notes" are the frame-up's "exclamation point."

Why would alums reject Coleman's solution and instead endorse Brodhead's views?

And why would DAA do likewise?

Professor Johnson is certain DAA's talking points are "repeats" of Brodhead’s views.

Did the talking points just "land" on DAA's site as a result of someone's "good intentions?"

Or are they there as a result of the considered judgment of DAA's officers, directors and executive director?

I appreciate the attention you and others who lead DAA will give this letter and my questions.

I'll post your response in full at I'll also post responses, if any, I receive from others to whom this letter is copied.

I trust you'll keep my email address in confidence.



cc’s to DAA officers, directors, and executive director


"Education -- if you make the most of it and you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well," Kerry said. "If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

That’s what former Democratic Party presidential candidate John Kerry said Monday during a campaign stop in California.

Kerry’s cheap shot at America’s military men and women has drawn rebukes and engendered outrage from Americans across the political spectrum.

And how is the liberal/leftist Raleigh News & Observer reporting the story?

The N&O says nothing about the many millions of Democrats and independents who are disgusted by Kerry’s remark.

Instead, the N&O runs a story from The Boston Globe (It endorsed Kerry in ’04) that tries to spin what Kerry said as just politics. The N&O’s Globe story begins:

President Bush joined a chorus of prominent Republicans Tuesday in blasting Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., for comments they said demeaned the intelligence of U.S. troops.

Kerry gave a speech at a political rally where he said that students who don't perform well "get stuck in Iraq."

But Kerry, insisting the comment was a "botched joke," struck back with a furious, nationally televised press conference during which he attacked the entire GOP for divisive campaign tactics. […]

Republicans pounced on Kerry's comments as emblematic of the Democrats' disrespect for the military. A week before the midterm elections, the comments were an unwelcome distraction for Democrats who appear close to taking control of Congress. […]
”an unwelcome distraction for Democrats.” So that’s what it is. I had myself convinced it was the kind of demeaning of our military that liberals and leftists often engage in. You know: "We can't let them on our campuses." Things like that and much worse.

Here's news for the liberal/leftist reporters and editors at the NY Times' owned Globe and McClatchy's N&O: Senator John McCain has had plenty to say about Kerry's cheap shot.

McCain, a military hero who endured repeated torture during more than five years as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese, thinks Kerry’s remark is much more than a distraction. McCain said yesterday:
[Kerry's] statement, basically, was so demeaning to the men and women who are serving in the military that you will be even more grateful than you are at this moment that George Bush is president of the United States…

You can't make this up. His statement was that if you get an education and you do well, then you don't have to go to Iraq, and if you don't have an education, then you have to go to Iraq. Do you know how demeaning that is to the men and women who are serving so magnificently in the cause of freedom and are fighting and dying in Iraq today?
Neither The Globe nor The N&O included McCain’s remarks in their stories.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Churchill Series resumes Nov. 1, 2006


Sorry to let you down.

It's a busy time.


To the Raleigh N&O - 10-31-06

Readers' Note: Melenie in the comment below is Melanie Sill, executive editior for news at The Raleigh News & Observer. John Drescher is the paper's managing editor. The comment was left on a thread at the Editors' Blog where Sill and Drescher blog.


Dear Melanie,

You ask commenter “"El jefe:" -- "why not identify yourself?"

I wonder if El jefe and others who comment anonymously here are concerned you'll treat them the way you've treated the Duke lacrosse players.

You published on Apr. 2 the "vigilante poster" knowing it would endanger the players. They'd done you no harm and made no criticisms of The N&O.

As you know, The N&O’s "vigilante poster" contains photos of only 43 of the 46 white lacrosse players because Duke pulled the players’ photos when it realized some people would use the photos in ways that would endanger the players, including publishing and distributing their photos throughout the community.

The person(s) who put together The N&O's "vigilante poster" was only able to get 43 photos before all 46 players' photos were removed.

You didn’t tell readers any of that.

Not only that, Melanie, you published your "vigilante poster" anonymously. You still refuse to disclose the source(s).

How can you honestly say to “El jefe,” -- “why not identify yourself?”

Why don’t you identify who produced the “vigilante poster?" Durham Police Maj. Lee Russ has said DPD would like to know who produced it. So would many others including the players families and attorneys.

The N&O published the poster just a few weeks after you refused to publish the Danish cartoons. Journalists feared publishing the cartoons would endanger themselves and their colleagues.

But the "vigilante poster?" You even made sure to run it on a Sunday, your highest circulation day.

Melanie, you and John Drescher understand why people who criticize The N&O may not want to ID themselves.

What’s more, you and John don’t really have a problem with anonymity. You use it often to produce stories and earn your incomes.

The N&O published the accuser's false accusations anonymously and without checking most of what she said. You did not even care enough to carefully substantiate the grave accusations of gang-rape, strangulation and beating she made against the players.

Did you have any problems and speak out when CBS 60 Minutes first used forged documents from an anonymous source to impugn President Bush's Texas Air National Guard service?

Dan Rather looked into the camera and told millions of viewers CBS’s anonymous “documents” source was "unimpeachable."

Thanks to bloggers pushing and a few MSM journalists following up, Rather and CBS were forced to admit about 10 days later that their "unimpeachable" source was long-time Bush-hater and Democratic Party activist Bill Burkett. As a condition of all his “documents,” Burkett demanded the network first arrange for him top speak with a top strategist in then Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s campaign, something the network did but didn’t disclose to viewers.

Anonymity can be used to cloak falsehoods. But well-known journalists and news organizations engage in falsehoods, too. Quite a few of them actually.

Viewers and readers must always be careful and fact check.

As to the trustworthiness of bloggers and journalists, I pay a lot of attention to the promptness and completeness with which they acknowledge and correct errors.

Are you and John planning to tell readers why it’s taken seven months for The N&O to make even a grudging, incomplete admission that using “victim” and “victim’s” in the Mar. 24 and 25 stories was wrong?

What would you tell readers about an anonymous blogger who stonewalled for seven months on such an important matter, and them said only something like: “Well, I quess I did a little too much of that?”


The Churchill Series - Oct. 30, 2006

Many of you have commented recently. I read them all and appreciate you kind words.

Now be warned: I mean to tempt you today.

First, here’s part of historian and museum curator Joseph B. Smith’s review of Churchill’s American Civil War history in The History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Vol. IV, Book XI, “The Great Republic.”

Throughout his book Churchill often surprised me. For instance, he did not say what almost all the history books do today - that West Virginia seceded from Virginia because of slavery - which is completely wrong. He gave the true reason. The people in that region "had long chafed under the oppression of the state Government at Richmond which ignored its interests and exploited it for the benefit of the Tidewater section. It now seized the opportunity to secede from Secession."

How did Churchill learn that, when practically no one in the United States is aware of the true facts? It is also interesting to note that a large number of West Virginians then fought for the South, the most notable being Stonewall Jackson. […]

When Churchill came here, what battlefields did he want to see? What else but the battlefields of Virginia? I don't mean to say that he neglected the rest of the war because he definitely did not. However, in his book he certainly emphasized the war in the East.

And we have the evidence of his daughter Mary who, in a question/answer session at the 1990 ICS [International Churchill Society] Conference in San Francisco, identified President Lincoln and General Lee as two of the five most influential persons in her father's life - both of them spent the war years in the East.

Finally, on his visit in 1929, Churchill went over the Virginia battlefields with Douglas Southall Freeman, who was then working on his famous four-volume biography entitled R. E. Lee.

Stonewall Jackson is obviously also a favorite of Churchill's. There is no doubt in my mind at all that Sir Winston had studied Colonel G.E R. Henderson's outstanding book, Stonewall Jackson, which is truly a masterpiece.

I don't know whether Churchill knew, but General Lee said later that if Jackson had been at Gettysburg he would have won that battle. I would assume that he did not know that fact. Yet Sir Winston ended his discussion of Gettysburg with the words, "Above all he had not Jackson at his side."

I personally agree with Colonel Henderson that Jackson was a genius in the art of war and feel sure that Churchill would agree.
I hope you now want to read Mitchell’s entire review, and that doing so will tempt you delve into Churchill’s Civil War writings.

Monday, October 30, 2006

This made me smile

Recalling the story about the parent of a stong-willed 10 year old who wouldn't come down off the garage roof:

"All right, but if you fall off that roof and break both your legs, don't come running to me."

To The Chronicle: Letter 1

Readers’ Note: On Oct. 27, Duke University’s student newspaper, The Chronicle, published an editorial, “Blogger’s get point, miss complexity.”

If you haven’t read the editorial, I hope you read it and its comment thread. See also The Chronicle's explanation of the process by which it "writes" editorials.

I’m responding to The Chronicle with a series of electronic letters which I’ll be post at JinC. Each will be headed "To The Chronicle" and enumerated.

Letter 1 follows.


Editorial Board
The Chronicle
Duke University

Dear Editorial Board members:

I’m a Duke alum and blog as John in Carolina, one of the two bloggers specifically mentioned in your Oct. 27 editorial, “Blogger’s get point, miss complexity.”

In this and a few subsequent letters, I’ll respond to some of the statements you made.

I’m going to include the letters in posts at I'll send you links so you can respond on the comment threads if you wish. I hope many of you will.

Except when stated otherwise, I speak only for myself and my blog. I'm no more responsible for the virtues and faults of other blogs, including those that cover the Duke Hoax, than you are for the virtues and faults of other student newspapers. Blogs are a very diverse lot, a fact your editorial ignored.

You claim:

[T]here are no editors in the blogosphere and few checks to make bloggers consistently accountable for what they write.
Actually, there are many editors in the blogosphere. There’s even a blog called The Editors’ Blog at which five Raleigh News & Observer editors blog.

If you’ll allow that an editor is someone who does editorial work, then we can agree that I have hundreds of editors. You’ll find them “working” on the comment threads at

The other day I included in a post: "I hope your there." An hour later an “editor” commented: “’I hope your there.’ YOU ARE. Please, use correct grammar.”

I corrected my mistake and thanked the reader. You’ll find all that here.

Recently, I made a far more serious mistake. It concerned President Brodhead.

I pasted into one of my posts a post by Tom Bevan who blogs at

Bevan’s post included:
Broadhead's knee-jerk reaction to believe the word of a stripper over his students, to cancel the season and expel members of the team from the University without giving them so much as a chance to defend themselves and prove their innocence is reprehensible and unforgivable.
As you all know, President Brodhead didn’t expel any lax players. I should have caught the false statement. Readers did catch it and called it to my attention.

I immediately updated my post with a correction and apology to readers. I took other actions that included letting Bevan know of the error. Bevan did what good bloggers typically do. He promptly posted a correction and apology for what he called a “significant error.”

While I have no reason to believe President Brodhead ever reads JinC, I sent him an explanation and apology. To further call readers' attention to my mistake, I set up a stand alone post: “My mistake – I apologize (updated).”

One reason I acted as I did is I believe most JinC readers, including many who are very critical of President Brodhead, expected me to promptly and fully correct my error.

If I hadn’t, a lot of them would’ve started thinking about moving on. One mouse click and a reader need never again be at JinC.

That one mouse click is a powerful “check” on bloggers like me who want to attract and hold readers who demand reliability and honesty from their news and opinion sources.

But that "check" pales beside the most important “checks” both bloggers and MSM journalists have if they care to use them.

I hope you all know I have in mind respect for readers, a commitment to truth, and a desire at the end of the day to be able to say: “I saw right and wrong; and tried to do right.”

Thank you.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Duke VP Burness has responded

On Oct. 23 I posted: “Problems at Duke's lacrosse incident page”The post is an email letter addressed to John Burness, Senior Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations at Duke University. It begins:

Duke’s News and Communication’s lacrosse incident page has been a valuable aid to many people, including me. I thank you and the university for that.

However, much about the page today is questionable; and some of it is very troubling.

I call to your attention four matters I hope you'll agree deserve your response which, like this letter, I'll share with my readers.
I detailed the four matters and asked for his response.

Burness has responded (at a very busy time and while traveling)and, as promised, I’m sharing his response in full with you.

In a few days, I’ll comment.

Right now, as I typically do in such cases, I’m publishing Burness’ response without comment so you’ll have an opportunity to read it and reflect before I comment.

I’ll send Burness a brief email thanking him for his response, linking to this post and promising to send him a link to my follow-up comments which I’ll post by Wednesday if Blogger cooperates.


Hi John,

It's not our normal practice to respond to blogs because it would be never-ending. That said, I just am getting to your note, as I'm on the West Coast and well behind on the hundreds of emails I receive daily. I have sent no comment on your blog to anyone but you, which follows:

1. We posted the outtakes of President Brodhead originally posted by CBS because he is Duke's president and said a great deal more than was used in the broadcast.

2. We decided at the beginning that our website would not post blogs. I believe that the sole exception was Malcolm Gladwell's piece on eyewitness identification in April which was so different from anything else published before or since.

3 and 4. Errors in the media coverage we have posted are unfortunate, and there are undoubtedly more than the one you cited. We don't have the staff time or the resources to attempt to correct all of them, and we have not tried to do so.
Our goal was simply to show a range of representative media comment.

The decision by the folks in the News and Communications office to post the editorial following 60 Minutes in the Herald Sun (the hometown newspaper) reflects a desire to show a variety of reactions to the broadcast. We don't see it as an endorsement of any candidate. It's lumped with Jason Whitlock's column which calls for the case to be dropped and a more balanced editorial from the Duke Chronicle.

John F. Burness
Senior Vice President For Public Affairs
and Government Relations
Duke University

Commenting at The Chronicle

Readers’ Note: On Oct. 27 The Chronicle, Duke Univeristy’s student newspaper, ran an editorial, “Bloggers get point. Miss complexity.”

I tried to leave the comment below on the thread that follows the editorial. I kept getting error messages and have contacted the online editor.

I encourage all of you to read the editorial and the comment thread. As I say in the comment here, I’ll soon post on the editorial.


I'd like to thank all the commenters who've spoken here on behalf of responsible bloggers. You've pointed out important things The Chronicle editors ignored.

I especially appreciate your comments because I’m one of only two bloggers (KC Johnson's the other) The Chronicle specifically mentioned in its editorial criticizing bloggers for, among other things, vilifying President Brodhead and for our lack of expertise and study regarding complex issues related to the Hoax case.

Do any of you think we'll soon see a Chronicle editorial explaining the appreciation for complexity and expertise a blogger or any decent person must have in order to criticize, as I have, President Brodhead and the A&S faculty for remaining silent when racists hollered threats, including "There's a dead man walking," at Reade Seligmann on May 18?

You don't need to be an expert to ask, as I have: "Why did President Brodhead refuse to meet with the lax parents on Mar. 25; and having not met with the parents then, why has he failed to meet with them since?"

I'll be saying more at my blog later today and in the next few days about the editorial, including addressing the issues of anonymity, vetting and editing.

Thank you again for speaking out.