Monday, December 31, 2007

Churchill: Americans “an amazing people.”

Churchill Series readers will enjoy this post. I think many of the rest of you will, too.

In December 1931 Churchill arrived in America to begin a lecture tour. He held no government office at the time. Nevertheless, the government took the unusual step of providing him a bodyguard because he was considered a likely target for attacks, even assassination, by Irish and Asian Indian extremist groups.

It was on that tour that Churchill was struck and almost killed by a car while crossing New York’s Fifth Avenue.

During his lengthy convalescence, part of which was spent in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Churchill and his bodyguard, Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Walter Thompson, realized that on entering America they had not disclosed they were carrying pistols and had no police permits for them.

They'd each unintentionally committed criminal acts, both punishable by jail terms.

Churchill directed Thompson to take their pistols down to Police headquarters the next day and try to set matters right.

Thompson spent most of the next day at the NYC Police Headquarters. When he returned to the Waldorf, he explained to the bed-ridden Churchill what had happened.

The police had all been very polite but they’d made it clear people were not supposed to carry guns in the city.

Thompson protested that extremist groups active in the Untied States had repeatedly threatened to kill Churchill. Not only that, Thompson had read in the morning’s paper of five murders just the previous day in New York.

The police said they understood, but there were still those laws.

Thompson continued pressing. Eventually he was told the Police Commissioner himself would speak to him.

The Commissioner had been briefed on the problem. “We can’t give you official permission,” he told Thompson.

Then he added: “But if you have to use weapons, just let us know and we will square it for you.”

Churchill took it all in before telling Thompson “the Americans are an amazing people.”

And indeed we are. Happy New Year.
Tom Hickman, Churchill's Bodyguard. (pgs. 70-71)

N&O Series Notes (Post 1)

Readers Note: As I've told you, I'm planning a series of posts to start in mid-January that will take a fresh look at the Raleigh News & Observer's Duke Hoax coverage.

As part of researching for the series I'm reviewing posts. I came across the following one this morning. I plan to reference it in the series because it helps expose the "N&O got better after a few days and then provided outstanding ocverage" myth.

I thought you might be interested to read it now for that reason andbecause it has a certain timeliness regarding Duke and suits.

The post was published June 20, 2007, two months after NC Attorney General Roy Cooper had declared the players "innocent."

It was titled: INNOCENT: The N&O's "Duke deal" story. The offer I made at the end of the post to lead reporter Anne Blythe to publish a response was never acknowledged.


On the front-page of today’s Raleigh News & Observer we see the headlines:

Duke deal shields faculty
Some spoke out after rape claims
Under reporters Anne Blythe and Eric Ferreri bylines with reporters Benjamin Niolet and Joseph Neff listed as contributors, the story begins:
Duke University's settlement with exonerated lacrosse players gives legal protection to faculty members, some of whom have been under siege for speaking out in the wake of the gang-rape allegations.

Neither side would disclose the terms of the agreement, announced Monday, but Duke's faculty chairman, Paul Haagen, informed professors that one provision is that all faculty members have been released from liability related to the lacrosse case.

That news sparked another round of vitriolic messages from e-mailers and bloggers still exercised over a student newspaper ad signed in the spring of 2006 by 88 Duke professors, who decried a campus culture of racism and sexism.

As Duke shut the door on lawsuits by the players in the lacrosse case, the Durham County sheriff on Tuesday slammed shut District Attorney Mike Nifong's access to the courthouse where he has worked 29 years. Orlando Hudson, the county's chief resident Superior Court judge, entered an order suspending Nifong with pay.
The N&O story is really two stories lumped together: the Duke settlement and matters related to it, and Nifong’s immediate legal and related difficulties.

I’m going to ignore the portions of the story dealing with Nifong and focus only on the N&O’s reporting of the “Duke deal” which reeks of a pro-Group of 88 bias and is, I believe, sloppy with at least one very important fact.

The N&O’s pro Group of 88 bias is obvious in the headlines:
Duke deal shields faculty
Some spoke out after rape claims
But Duke isn’t paying out money to exempt Professors Steve Baldwin, James Coleman and Michael Gustafson and Coaches Kerstin Kimel and Mike Krzyzewski for “speak[ing] out after rape claims.”

Duke’s paying out for statements and actions by certain faculty, including some Group of 88 members, which many legal theorists believe were potentially libelous.

There’s no problem with Duke faculty speaking out about "rape claims." We all know that.

But you can’t libel people, even if they are white male Duke students.

A less biased and more accurate headline would have been:
Duke settlement protects faculty from liability claims
Now let’s look at this paragraph:
That news sparked another round of vitriolic messages from e-mailers and bloggers still exercised over a student newspaper ad signed in the spring of 2006 by 88 Duke professors, who decried a campus culture of racism and sexism
Here we go again, folks.

The messages are “vitriolic?” Blythe, Ferreri, Niolet and Neff don’t say how they determined that. They don’t even say whether they read any or all of the massages.

Mightn’t some of the messages have been informed, fair-minded and properly critical?

And who are these latest e-mailers? Are they anything like the overwhelmingly civil, informed and caring e-mailers (a few haters and trolls mixed in) I’ve been hearing from the last fifteen months?

Does the N&O know whether these latest "e-mailers and bloggers" are the kind of people who were and remain concerned by statements and actions of certain faculty?

Does the N&O know whether the people writing "vitriolic" message are concerned by the same or similar statements and actions I'll bet the University Counsel and Trustees had in mind when they agreed to what was almost certainly a very hefty financial settlement?

Following the subhead - Duke's reasoning - the story continues:
Duke, too, is struggling to restore its image, and that, legal experts say, is one reason the university would settle such a case.
Another reason was to avoid the potential liability that Haagen assures his faculty colleagues they no longer bear.

The N&O, with four reporters working the story, failed to provide readers with even one example of a statement or action by a Duke faculty member that Haagen, a law professor, could tell readers Duke had in mind when it paid out to spare certain faculty from libel suits and itself from the odium of employing such faculty.

And if Haagen had been reluctant to cite examples, it wouldn’t have been hard for one of the four reporters to locate attorneys who have followed the case, and could have cited statements and actions by certain faculty that were potentially libelous.

But that’s not the kind of reporting you’d expect in a strongly pro Group of 88 story, is it?

There are other examples of bias further along in the story, but I’ve made my point.

Now let’s look at the reporters’ sloppy treatment of at least one very important fact.

To do that let’s look again at the story’s first two paragraphs:
Duke University's settlement with exonerated lacrosse players gives legal protection to faculty members, some of whom have been under siege for speaking out in the wake of the gang-rape allegations.

Neither side would disclose the terms of the agreement, announced Monday, but Duke's faculty chairman, Paul Haagen, informed professors that one provision is that all faculty members have been released from liability related to the lacrosse case.
The agreement announced Monday, we’ve previously been told, involved the three members of the Duke lacrosse team who were indicted as part of an attempted frame-up and their families.

There has been no report that Monday’s agreement also involved any of the other forty-four team members or their families.

If they were not involved in Monday’s settlement, what’s to stop one, some or all of the forty-four from bringing a libel action against one or some Duke faculty, and possibly Duke?

If the forty-four were somehow included in Monday’s settlement, the story doesn’t report that.

If the other team members were not involved in Monday’s settlement, than what the N&O should have reported is that faculty members have been released from liability related to the lacrosse case by David Evans, Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and their families, but not by the other forty-four members of the team or their families.

I’ll send lead reporter Anne Blythe a link to this post and request she at least clarify the matter of just who released Duke faculty from liability.

I'll offer to post her response in full.

Here's another link to the N&O story.

Durham H-S Looks at 2007

It’s New Year’s Eve: time for newspapers to look back at 2007.

Editor Bob Ashley’s Durham Herald Sun’s lead editorial today begins:

As the clock ticks toward midnight, we can look back on 2007 with some satisfaction and a few frustrations.

All in all, it was a pretty good year in Durham. Here are some reflections on 2007 as it slips into history:
And what’s the first reflection Ashley offers?
The economy plays a major role in how any city or region feels about itself.
We can all agree with that, can’t we?

The editorial rambles after that about job growth, crime, schools, etc. before getting to something it calls the “Nifong case.”
The lacrosse case turned into the "Nifong case," with former prosecutor Mike Nifong losing his job and his law license over his mishandling of the now-infamous false rape charge. The three charged players were declared innocent by the state's attorney general, Roy Cooper. But while many in Durham would like to see the case finally fade away, lawsuits filed by the players against the Police Department and others will insure that it will continue to make headlines in 2008.. . .
The entire H-S editorial is here.

My, hasn't the H-S come a long way from the days of “the Duke lacrosse rape scandal” when a Duke student sitting with an open beer can was engaged in "criminal" activity?

And Nifong only “mishandle[ed] … the now-infamous false rape charge?”

What nonsense!

Nifong worked for almost a year with certain Durham police officers, their supervisors and very likely certain Durham city officials and members of the DA office to manufacture evidence, lie to the public, and intimidate witnesses – all in an effort to frame three innocent Duke students for gang rape and other felonies.

Those engaged in the series of travesties and almost certainly criminal conspiracies to frame the players were aided by some at Duke University – let's hope unwittingly as to what the real intent of “the investigation “ was.

But Ashley and the H-S can only speak of Nifong and his “mishandling” of the case.

That tells you how Ashley and the current Durham Herald Sun “serve the community.”

How far do you think those who engaged first, in the trashing and endangering of the entire lacrosse team, and then in the attempt to frame three of its members, would have gotten if the Herald Sun had reported the Duke Hoax story with fairness, intelligence and courage?

What would be happening to the ongoing cover-up of the frame-up attempt if the Herald Sun was now reporting it the same way?

What might have happened if Durham had a newspaper whose editorials were vigorous and written “without fear or favor?”

We should ask ourselves those questions today as we look to the past and to Durham’s future.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bill Buckley on Pakistan and MSM

Via Bill Buckley provides background and sage opinions you won’t find in the NY Times:

Lally Weymouth of Newsweek did a brilliant article published just two weeks before the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

She was in close quarters with Bhutto and then with President Musharraf. Neither one of them said anything apocalyptic, and certainly there was no indication that poised in those conventional words was the gleam of the assassin, or the fright of a victim bound. In short, from the two principals, there were no big surprises.

But Ms. Weymouth's questions were not banal, and Musharraf rewarded her with a singular frankness. This came early in the interview, when Ms. Weymouth asked him, "Do you feel you stuck your neck out for the United States after September 11 and the United States has not stood by you?"

One yearns to write that the following words were "spat out," but that much can only be inferred: "No, I don't. I stuck out my neck for Pakistan. I didn't stick out my neck for anyone else. It happened to be in the interest of the world and the U.S. ... The problem with the West and your media is your obsession with democracy, civil liberties, human rights.

You think your definition of all these things is (correct). ... Who has built democratic institutions in Pakistan? I have done it in the last eight years. We empowered the people and the women of Pakistan. We allowed freedom of expression."

Musharraf cited as an example of the bias against which he works, the coverage by the Western media of the violence at the Islamabad mosque last summer: "We took action. What did the media do about it? They showed those who took action as villains and brought those madwomen who were there on television and made heroes of them."

Weymouth then asked the sacred question: "Do you feel you could work with Benazir Bhutto?"

Musharraf: "When you talk of working with her, you imply she is going to be the prime minister. Why do you imply that? I keep telling everyone we haven't had the elections."

"Mrs. Bhutto charges that there are going to be ghost polling stations -- that the voting is going to be rigged."

This brought real asperity: "... let her not treat everyone like herself. ... I am not like her. I don't believe in these things. Where's her sense of democracy when 57 percent of the Parliament vote for me, and she says she is not prepared to work with me ...?"

Why, the interviewer asked Ms. Bhutto, are the terrorists so strong in Pakistan? Is it because there is support for them from the government?

Ms. Bhutto: "Yes. I am shocked to see how embedded it (terrorism) is. I knew it was bad from afar. People are scared to talk. They say I am polarizing when I say militancy is a problem."

Two weeks later the lead story in The New York Times spoke of our policy as "left in ruins." Nothing remained of "the delicate diplomatic effort the Bush administration had pursued in the past year to reconcile Pakistan's deeply divided political factions."

Another Times reporter spoke of "the new challenge" the assassination posed to the Bush administration in its effort "to stabilize a front-line state" in the "fight against terrorism."

There are reasons to object to the repository of blame in the Bhutto situation.
To the charge that there was insufficient security in Rawalpindi, nothing more needs to be said than that -- yes, manifestly there was insufficient security, as there was at Ford's Theatre in 1865, Dealey Plaza in 1963, and the hundred other places in America where mayhem has been plotted.

We cannot know with any confidence just what it is that the Pakistanis have to come up with to make safe the niceties of democracy about which Musharraf speaks with understandable scorn.

The scantest knowledge of Pakistani and Muslim history challenges the fatuity that this is a corner of the political world where public life can proceed with no more concern for militant interruption than would be expected in the House of Lords.

The Bush administration should announce to the waiting world that the United States cannot be charged with responsibility for maintaining order in Pakistan, and does not accept responsibility for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
I agree with Buckley.

Yes, that does put me at odds with most of MSM, including the NY Times.

But that only makes me feel more confident Buckley's right.

What about you?

Washington’s “Most Important Story?”

”The most important story to come out of Washington recently had nothing to do with the endless presidential campaign. And although the media largely ignored it, the story changes the world.”

That’s what Walter Russell Mead, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said in an LA Times op-ed today.

Mead continued:

The story's unlikely source was the staid World Bank, which published updated statistics on the economic output of 146 countries. China's economy, said the bank, is smaller than it thought.

About 40% smaller.

China, it turns out, isn't a $10-trillion economy on the brink of catching up with the United States. It is a $6-trillion economy, less than half our size.

For the foreseeable future, China will have far less money to spend on its military and will face much deeper social and economic problems at home than experts previously believed.

What happened to $4 trillion in Chinese gross domestic product?


When economists calculate a country's gross domestic product, they add up the prices of the goods and services its economy produces and get a total -- in dollars for the United States, euros for such countries as Germany and France and yuan for China. To compare countries' GDP, they typically convert each country's product into dollars.
Mead explains how tricky comparing countries’ GDPs can be.

For one thing, China artificially manipulates the value of its currency.

For another, Mead notes, “many goods in less developed economies such as China and Mexico are much cheaper than they are in countries such as the United States.”

He explains more about the difficulties of comparing countries’ GDPs and then gets to what’s on many of our minds: what are the political consequences of this “most important story?"
The political consequences will be felt far and wide.

To begin with, the U.S. will remain the world's largest economy well into the future.

Given that fact, fears that China will challenge the U.S. for global political leadership seem overblown. Under the old figures, China was predicted to pass the United States as the world's largest economy in 2012. That isn't going to happen.

Also, the difference in U.S. and Chinese living standards is much larger than previously thought.

Average income per Chinese is less than one-tenth the U.S. level. With its people this poor, China will have a hard time raising enough revenue for the vast military buildup needed to challenge the United States.

The balance of power in Asia looks more secure. Japan's economy was not affected by the World Bank revisions. China's economy has shrunk by 40% compared with Japan too.

And although India's economy was downgraded by 40%, the United States, Japan and India will be more than capable of balancing China's military power in Asia for a very long time to come.

But don't pop the champagne corks.

It is bad news that billions of people are significantly poorer than we thought.

China and India are not the only countries whose GDP has been revised downward. The World Bank figures show sub-Saharan Africa's economy to be 25% smaller.

One consequence is that the ambitious campaign to reduce world poverty by 2015 through the United Nations Millennium Development Goals will surely fail.

We have underestimated the size of the world's poverty problem, and we have overestimated our progress in attacking it. This is not good.

There is more bad news. U.S. businesses and entrepreneurs hoping to crack the Chinese and Indian markets must come to terms with a middle class that is significantly smaller than thought. . . .

China's political stability may be more fragile than thought.

The country faces huge domestic challenges -- an aging population lacking any form of social security, wholesale problems in the financial system that dwarf those revealed in the U.S. sub-prime loan mess and the breakdown of its health system. These problems are as big as ever, but China has fewer resources to meet them than we thought. . . .
There’s more before Mead ends with:
For Americans, the new numbers from the World Bank bring good news and bad.

On the plus side, U.S. leadership in the global system seems more secure and more likely to endure through the next generation.

On the other hand, the world we are called on to lead is poorer and more troubled than we anticipated.

Maybe the old Chinese curse says it best: We seem to be headed for interesting times.
Mead’s entire op-ed is here. I hope you all find time to read it.

And as for our media missing this "most important story," who's surprised?

I mean, if you're chasing a front page story about a strand of toilet paper that seems shaped like a noose discovered in a college bathroom, do you really have time to report and explain World Bank statistics, even ones which challenge existing assuptions about the global economy and international power balances?

C'mon folks, there's only so much Katie Couric, Brian Williams and the others can do.

Duke Suit Story & Citizen Journalism

A story in today’s Durham Herald Sun , "New Duke suit puts focus on police", by reporter Ray Gronberg’s begins:

A lawyer's gambit in a new lawsuit stemming from the Duke lacrosse case promises to focus judicial scrutiny on the rules that govern how Durham and Duke University police work together.

Attorney Bob Ekstrand's federal civil-rights filing contends the investigation of a stripper's bogus rape claim went bad last year when Durham Police Department detectives improperly took over a case the Duke University Police Department should have controlled.

Ekstrand -- who's representing lacrosse players Breck Archer, Ryan McFadyen and Matt Wilson -- anchored the claim to a 2004 cooperation agreement between the city and the university that assigned to Duke police the "primary responsibility" for investigating incidents on Duke property.

The scene of the now-infamous team party, 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., qualified as Duke property because of the university's purchase of the house two weeks before last year's now-infamous lacrosse team party.

Ekstrand also noted that Durham's police chiefs have issued a standing order that city cops should let sworn campus officers "handle all criminal and traffic offenses that occur on campus property."

Ekstrand alleges that Duke officers, following policy, in fact launched an investigation of the stripper's rape charge but dropped it. He believes Durham police were preparing to defer until the city detective who wound up supervising the botched probe, Sgt. Mark Gottlieb, lobbied to have it assigned to his unit.

Observers say the statutory and case law that will shape the players' chances of winning the argument isn't clear-cut.

Ekstrand has proposed "an interesting legal idea," said Daniel Carter, vice president of Security on Campus Inc., a Pennsylvania watchdog group that prods universities to focus on safety and comply with federal crime-reporting requirements.

But Carter added that he doesn't "know of a single case that really talks about addressing overlapping jurisdictions" like those involved here and that addresses whether both departments "have an obligation to investigate."

He also voiced some skepticism about the chances of a judge going along.

"You could make the same argument for a sheriff's department" whose jurisdiction overlaps a city or campus, Carter said. "Absent blatant civil-rights violations, typically police do not have specific obligations to act on a crime or take a specific course of action. That's a basic tenet of law." . . .

Mark Kleinschmidt, a lawyer and Chapel Hill town councilman who once termed UNC's cops a "foreign police force," prefers seeing campus officers subordinated to or at least accompanied by town or city police whenever they're handling matters out in the community.

He regards that as a guarantee of ballot-box accountability.

Citizens harmed by a campus force "don't have the power of removing a chancellor or university president" and thus don't have much sway over the actions of such agencies, he said. . . .
Gronberg’s entire story is here.

I’m not informed enough to comment now on many of the issues raised by the suit, including some relating to police jurisdiction.

So just three comments before I move to something else.

1) Ekstrand isn’t quoted in the story and Gronberg doesn’t mention having tried to reach him.

2) Was it really necessary, even in a newspaper edited by Bob Ashley, to refer to the team party as “now-infamous” twice in one sentence?

3) Even to this layman it was apparent that attorney Mark Kleinschmidt was speaking about citizens holding police accountable via the ballot box. Well and good.

But the suit concerns laws, agreements and practices concerning jurisdictions involving Duke University PD and Durham PD.

So while Kleinschmidt’s comments are interesting, they’re off point to issues relating to the suit.

Now for what may be the most important news in this post: the citizen journalism involved with Gronberg’s story. Here’s the first reader comment that follows it:
Why was Sgt. Gottlieb, assigned to the Durham PD Property Crimes division, allowed to take control of a sexual assault case? There were sexaul assault specialists in the DPD at the time, but somehow a rogue cop from the property division was able to "lobby" for, and seize control of the case.

This was not a case of overlapping jurisdictions. This was a case of some parties purposely hijacking control of an investigation to pursue a specific agenda.

Where are our investigative journalists?
There it is. Citizen journalism by one Charles Wolcott.

Right there on the same Net page with Gronberg's story, Wolcott “joins the conversation” and asks somethiing many readers want to know: how was it that Gottlieb “was allowed to take control of a sexual assault case?”

In traditional journalism, that’s the kind of question good reporters and editors talk about in newsrooms and now on their cells. Often readers are not aware of the importance of such a question and that it needs to be answered.

But today a citizen journalist put the question out there at the end of Gronberg’s story and asked about “investigative reporters.”

I’m encouraged every time I see citizen journalists informing us and making it harder for “real professional journalists” like editor Bob Ashley to practice their “lazy-hazy” brand of journalism that winks and nods at the power groups in their circulation areas.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Obama says Clintons "secretive."

From the New York Post:

Sen. Barack Obama kicked off the countdown to the Iowa caucuses yesterday with a sharp attack on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton - raising the specter of a "secretive" history and problems in her husband's administration.

"You have to ask yourself, who's talked the talk, because that will be the measure of how seriously they take this stuff," Obama said.

"If they've been secretive in the past, they'll be secretive as president," he said at an Iowa rally.

"If they haven't been all that strong on lobbyists in the past, doesn't matter what they say in the campaign - they won't be that strong about it when they are president."

The "secretive" charge has been lodged by Clinton critics who question why thousands of pages of material from Hillary's days as first lady haven't been released. . . .

Well yes, we all remember that "secrative" stuff.


Would you say Hillary's Rose Law Firm billing records which "disappeared" for a few years when investigators wanted to examine them count as an example of Clinton secrecy?

Before you answer, remember they were "discovered" a few years later in the Clinton White House by a staffer who was just "walking by a table and noticied them."

That being the case, what's the secret?

The records were found, right?

So how could there be a secret?

Speaking of secrets: Does anyone know the whereabouts of that blue dress Miss. Lewinsky was wearing when -- you know?

And should we talk about its apparent disappearance as "a Clinton secret?"

Wouldn't it be fairer to say, "a Lewinsky secret?"

Has Women's Wear Daily ever editorialized on the question?

The entire post story is here.

Al Qaida Disputes Dem, MSM Iraq Claims

Most Democratic Party leaders and their legion of allies in MSM have worked hard to convince Americans Al Qaida is not heavily involved in Iraq.

They’ve said the “Al Qaida involvement claim" is something neo-cons made up, and President Bush knowingly and wrongly endorsed.

Now along come Osama bin Ladan and his chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, to tell us the Dems and their MSM allies have been misleading us.

From the AP just minutes ago:

Osama bin Laden warned Iraq's Sunni Arabs against joining tribal councils fighting al-Qaida or participating in any unity government in a new audiotape posted on the Web on Saturday.

Bin Laden also made an unusally (sic) sharp threat of attacks against Israel, saying, "I would like to assure our people in Palestine that we will expand our jihad there." ...

Most of the 56-minute tape dealt with Iraq, in the latest attempt by al-Qaida to keep its supporters and other insurgents in Iraq unified behind it at a time when the U.S. military claims to have al-Qaida's Iraq branch on the run.

A number of Sunni Arab tribes in Iraq's western Anbar province have formed a coalition fighting al-Qaida-linked insurgents that U.S. officials credit for deeply reducing violence in the province. The U.S. military has been working to form similar "Awakening Councils" in other areas of Iraq.

In the audiotape, bin Laden denounced Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, the former leader of the Anbar Awakening Council, who was killed in a September bombing claimed by al-Qaida.

"The most evil of the traitors are those who trade away their religion for the sake of their mortal life," bin Laden said.

Bin Laden said U.S. and Iraqi officials are seeking to set up a "national unity government" joining the country's Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.
Bin Laden’s right when he says “U.S. and Iraqi officials are seeking to set up a ‘national unity government’ joining the country's Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds”

And he knows that can’t happen without the stabilizing presence of America’s military in Iraq.

I’ll bet he wants to “Bring the troops home” even more than John Edwards, John Murtha, Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi and Barak Obama.

The AP story continues with Osama explaining why he want America to “Bring the troops home.”
"Our duty is to foil these dangerous schemes, which try to prevent the establishment of an Islamic state in Iraq, which would be a wall of resistance against American schemes to divide Iraq," he said.

The authenticity of the tape could not be independently confirmed. But the voice resembled that of bin Laden. The tape was posted on an Islamic militant Web site where al-Qaida's media arm, Al-Sahab, issues the group's messages.

The tape was the fifth message released by bin Laden this year, a flurry of activity after he went more than a year without issuing any tapes. The messages began with a Sept. 8 video that showed bin Laden for the first time in nearly three years. The other messages this year have been audiotapes.

In an October tape, bin Laden sought to patch up splits between Iraqi insurgent factions, urging them to unite with the Islamic State of Iraq - the insurgent coalition led by al-Qaida.

He took a conciliatory stance, chiding even al-Qaida's followers for being too "extremist" in their positions toward other insurgents.

Bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahri took a sharper tone in a Dec. 16 video, branding as "traitors" those who work with the anti-Qaida tribal councils and calling for Sunnis to purge anyone cooperating with the Americans.
Folks, here’s a very safe prediction: Tomorrow, on the Sunday interview programs, leading Dems who scoffed at Al Qaida in Iraq claims will be saying, “Not me. What I meant was ...”

That won't be hard for them to do because, for the most part, their MSM hosts/questioners will be asking "softball questions" and won't hold their fellow Dems to account.

Here’s another very safe prediction: Almost all of those in MSM who’ve gotten it wrong regarding Al Qaida in Iraq won’t step forward and say they were wrong.

But a few may.

I’ll be interested to hear what those few say: not to gloat, but to pay attention to people who have enough character and respect for their readers to say, “I was wrong.”

The entire AP story is here.

Chicago Trib Got It Wrong

Folks, you get an idea of how biased and wrong much of MSM reporting on the Duke lacrosse case was from the post below published May 12, 2006, three days before David Evans’ fraudulent indictment.

It's also includes an excellent example of "headline bias," which occurs in newsrooms and is the responsibility of editors.

The link to the Chicago Tribune story has "rotted" but enough of the story is quoted for you to see what the Trib was doing.

The Trib's story is a glaring and shameful example of what the players and their supporters faced for months and, in many cases, still face.

The post title: Chicago Trib's Duke lacrosse DNA story bias.

Today headlines:

”DNA links 3rd player to alleged attack”
The Tribune news services' story begins:
Prosecutors believe they have DNA evidence to tie a third Duke lacrosse player to the alleged attack on a 27-year-old exotic dancer, news outlets in Durham reported Thursday.

The local ABC affiliate, citing sources, reported that the third player is the same person who was identified with "90 percent" certainty by the alleged victim in a photo lineup. That lineup was conducted by police weeks after the March 13 off-campus lacrosse team party where the alleged incident took place.

The potential evidence--a DNA sample found under a fake fingernail worn by the alleged victim and linked to the lacrosse player--was recovered from the off-campus home where the alleged attack took place. […]
The lead paragraphs certainly support the Tribs headline: “DNA links 3rd player to the alleged attack.”

But if you read down to the story's last two paragraphs, you learn:
The Durham Herald Sun newspaper reported Thursday that the tissue sample used for testing did not allow for a 100 percent match, but it was "consistent" with DNA of the third player. Because a complete DNA pattern was not obtained from the sample on the fingernail, it was impossible to match that sample with near certainty to the third player, the newspaper said.

Defense sources told the ABC station that results from this set of DNA tests are also inconclusive and that there is no match, and that to say otherwise is "very misleading." They also say it would not be unusual to find players' DNA in the bathroom or garbage can of a house where many spent time.
Given the information in the last two paragraphs, how can the Trib justify its headline, “DNA links 3rd player to the alleged attack,” or its lead paragraphs?

The Trib’s headline and its equally misleading lead paragraphs are further examples of MSM news bias directed against the Duke lacrosse players.

Gen. Petraeus - Letter to the Troops

Via Gen. David Petraeus’ year-end Letter to the Troops:

Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and Civilians of Multi-National Force-Iraq:

As 2007 draws to a close, you should look back with pride on what you, your fellow troopers, our Iraqi partners, and Iraqi Coalition civilians have achieved in 2007.

A year ago, Iraq was racked by horrific violence and on the brink of civil war.
Now, levels of violence and civilians and military casualties are significantly reduced and hope has been rekindled in many Iraqi communities.

To be sure, the progress is reversible and there is much more to be done. Nonetheless, the hard-fought accomplishments of 2007 have been substantial, and I want to thank each of you for the contributions you made to them.

In response to the challenges that faced Iraq a year ago, we and our Iraqi partners adopted a new approach. We increased our focus on securing the Iraqi people and, in some cases, delayed transition of tasks to Iraqi forces.

Additional U.S. and Georgian forces were deployed to theater, the tours of U.S. unites were extended, and Iraqi forces conducted a surge of their own, generating well over 100,000 more Iraqi police and soldiers during the year so that they, too, had additional forces to execute the new approach. In places like Ramadi, Baqubah, Arab Jabour, and Baghdad, you and our Iraqi brothers fought--often house by house, block by block, and neighborhood by neighborhood--to wrest sanctuaries away from Al Qaeda-Iraq, to disrupt extremist militia elements, and to rid the streets of mafia-like criminals.

Having cleared areas, you worked with Iraqis to retain them--establishing outposts in the areas we were securing, developing Iraqi Security Forces, and empowering locals to help our efforts. This approach has not been easy.

It has required steadfastness in the conduct of tough offensive operations, creative solutions to the myriad problems on the ground, and persistence over the course of many months and during countless trying situations.

Through it all, you have proven equal to every task, continually demonstrating an impressive ability to conduct combat and stability operations in an exceedingly complex environment.
The rest of Petraeus’ letter is here.

It can’t be said often enough: America’s military is the greatest fighting force in the world and its most important and effective human rights organization.

Take our military “off the board” and you’d have Pakistan and worse everywhere.

That’s why Al Qaeda, the Islamists and their sympathizers hate our military and those Americans who support it.

I hope in 2008 all of us who understand the importance of our military and the extraordinary sacrifices its members and their families make on our behalf will all do more to support them.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Churchill Series - Dec. 28, 2007

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

Readers Note: During the holidays I'm posting some "Classic Oldies." The following post was first published on Nov. 10, 2005 and appears here in slightly modified form.

The "general injunction" of Churchill's quoted here helps explain why he was such a great war leader. He knew the importance of In War: Resolution. Many today don't understand that.

I'll post New Year's Eve but there'll be no post New Year's Day.

I hope this last weekend of the year is an especially good one for you all.


On May 28, 1940, facing an overwhelming German forces, Belgium surrendered and the French army in northwestern Europe retreated toward Paris. As a result, the Germans were able to surround and force back upon the sea almost a third of a million British troops.

The British organized a defensive line around a small seaport called Dunkirk. It seemed certain that within a matter of days they would be annihilated or taken prisoner.

But that didn’t happen.

Instead, extraordinary courage, ingenuity and sacrifice made possible what we’ve come to call “the miracle of Dunkirk”: The great bulk of the British force was safely evacuated back to England to fight on other days.

But on May 28 no one, including Churchill, foresaw “the miracle.” People rightly feared that France would soon seek terms with Germany leaving Britain and the Commonwealth to make with Hitler what terms they could or to fight on alone.

And so it was in those circumstances that Churchill issued this “general injunction” to his government colleagues:

(Strictly confidential.) In these dark days the Prime Minister would be grateful if all his colleagues in the Government, as well as important officials, would maintain a high morale in their circles; not minimizing the gravity of events, but showing confidence in our ability and inflexible resolve to continue the war till we have broken the will of the enemy to bring all Europe under his domination.

No tolerance should be given to the idea that France will make a separate peace; but whatever may happen on the Continent, we cannot doubt our duty, and we shall certainly use all our power to defend the Island, the Empire, and the Cause.
______________________________________________________________ Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War: Their Finest Hour. (p. 91)

Duke’s CMT’s Silence is Sickening: A Parody

A recent court filing (pdf. 404 pages) by attorney Robert (Bob) Ekstrand on behalf of three unindicted Duke lacrosse players references Duke’s Crisis Management Team (CMT):

B. The CMT’S Acts in Furtherance of the Conspiracy

414. On or before March 25, 2006, Defendant Steel directed Defendant Brodhead to create a Crisis Management Team (“CMT”) to manage the University’s actions relating to the investigation of Mangum’s claims.

The original participants in the CMT were Defendants [BOT Chair] Steel, [President] Brodhead, [Provost] Lange, [VP] Trask, [VP] Burness, and [VP] Moneta. Defendant Victor J. Dzau (Chancellor for Health Affairs, and President and CEO of Duke University Health Systems, Inc.) was added to the CMT shortly after it became clear that DUHS and Tara Levicy were critical to the State’s case.

Defendant Allison Halton (sic) (the University’s Secretary) was also added to the CMT following its first meeting on March 25, 2006


After reading the above, I couldn’t resist using Raleigh N&O columnist Ruth Sheehan’s Mar. 27, 2006 McCarthyite screed, “Team’s Silence Is Sickening,” as the basis for the following parody.

Duke’s CMT’s Silence Is Sickening

Members of Duke’s Crisis Management Team: You know.

We know you know.

Whatever happened at your meetings about the stripper party gone terribly bad, you know who was involved. Every one of you does.

And one of you needs to come forward and tell attorney Bob Ekstrand and the rest of us

Do not be afraid of retribution by the team. Do not be persuaded that somehow this "happened" to one or more "good administrators."

If what Ekstrand alleges is true, the CMT members responsible are not "good."

This seems an elementary statement, I know.

But I can see loyal team members sitting around convincing themselves that it would be disloyal to turn on their teammates -- why, the administrators who were involved were just a little "over the top."

In real life, they're fine people. They call their stockbrokers at least once a day. They share campus gossip with friends. They treat Chronicle editors to cokes and cookies.

I can see the team going down this path, justifying its silence. And it makes me sick.

Because, of all the occupational hazards that must come with being a Duke student, one of them should not be being an attempted frame-up victim. And no, throwing all the lacrosse players under the bus doesn’t make it any better.

Unfortunately, because the CMT members are administrators at such a high tuition university, there is a tendency to presume that this was an aberration. That these administrators are "really good guys."

I don't know what happened at those CMT meetings, and in that bathroom, over in Durham. Ultimately, that will be a matter for the court system to decide.

But what was said and decided at the CMT meetings are things Ekstrand and the rest of us need to know. Now.

We shouldn't have to wait for discovery and 46 or more depositions.

Every member of Duke’s Crisis Management Team knows who was involved and whether it was a conspiracy.

Until the team members come forward with that information, suspending their 401K contributions isn't enough.

Shut down the Allen Building.

Bhutto’s Rule and Legacy

Christopher Hitchens at Slate offers an informed, sensitive, and unsentimental profile of Benazir Bhutto and a very worrisome assessment of her legacy to Pakistan and the world.

According to Hitchens - - -

The sternest critic of Benazir Bhutto would not have been able to deny that she possessed an extraordinary degree of physical courage. When her father was lying in prison under sentence of death from Pakistan's military dictatorship in 1979, and other members of her family were trying to escape the country, she boldly flew back in.

Her subsequent confrontation with the brutal Gen. Zia-ul-Haq cost her five years of her life, spent in prison. She seemed merely to disdain the experience, as she did the vicious little man who had inflicted it upon her.

Benazir saw one of her brothers, Shahnawaz, die in mysterious circumstances in the south of France in 1985, and the other, Mir Murtaza, shot down outside the family home in Karachi by uniformed police in 1996.

It was at that famous address—70 Clifton Road—that I went to meet her in November 1988, on the last night of the election campaign, and I found out firsthand how brave she was. Taking the wheel of a jeep and scorning all bodyguards, she set off with me on a hair-raising tour of the Karachi slums.

Every now and then, she would get out, climb on the roof of the jeep with a bullhorn, and harangue the mob that pressed in close enough to turn the vehicle over. On the following day, her Pakistan Peoples Party won in a landslide, making her, at the age of 35, the first woman to be elected the leader of a Muslim country.

Her tenure ended—as did her subsequent "comeback" tenure—in a sorry welter of corruption charges and political intrigue, and in a gilded exile in Dubai. But clearly she understood that exile would be its own form of political death. (She speaks well on this point in an excellent recent profile by Amy Wilentz in More magazine.) . . .

Who knows who did this deed? It is grotesque, of course, that the murder should have occurred in Rawalpindi, the garrison town of the Pakistani military elite and the site of Flashman's Hotel. It is as if she had been slain on a visit to West Point or Quantico.

But it's hard to construct any cui bono analysis on which Gen. Pervez Musharraf is the beneficiary of her death.

The likeliest culprit is the al-Qaida/Taliban axis, perhaps with some assistance from its many covert and not-so-covert sympathizers in the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence. These were the people at whom she had been pointing the finger since the huge bomb that devastated her welcome-home motorcade on Oct. 18.

She would have been in a good position to know about this connection, because when she was prime minister, she pursued a very active pro-Taliban policy, designed to extend and entrench Pakistani control over Afghanistan and to give Pakistan strategic depth in its long confrontation with India over Kashmir.

The fact of the matter is that Benazir's undoubted courage had a certain fanaticism to it. She had the largest Electra complex of any female politician in modern history, entirely consecrated to the memory of her executed father, the charming and unscrupulous Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who had once boasted that the people of Pakistan would eat grass before they would give up the struggle to acquire a nuclear weapon. (He was rather prescient there—the country now does have nukes, and millions of its inhabitants can barely feed themselves.)

A nominal socialist, Zulfikar Bhutto was an autocratic opportunist, and this family tradition was carried on by the PPP, a supposedly populist party that never had a genuine internal election and was in fact—like quite a lot else in Pakistan—Bhutto family property.

Daughter of Destiny is the title she gave to her autobiography. She always displayed the same unironic lack of embarrassment.

How prettily she lied to me, I remember, and with such a level gaze from those topaz eyes, about how exclusively peaceful and civilian Pakistan's nuclear program was.

How righteously indignant she always sounded when asked unwelcome questions about the vast corruption alleged against her and her playboy husband, Asif Ali Zardari. (The Swiss courts recently found against her in this matter; an excellent background piece was written by John Burns in the New York Times in 1998.)

And now the two main legacies of Bhutto rule—the nukes and the empowered Islamists—have moved measurably closer together. […] ____________________________________________________

Hitchens’ entire article is here and well worth reading.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Churchill Series - Dec. 27, 2007

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

Readers Note: During the holidays I'm posting some "Classic Oldies." The following post was first published on Nov. 4, 2005 and appears here in slightly modified form.


By May, 1936. Churchill's attacks on the government's appeasement of Nazi Germany had wearied and angered Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin.

He wanted to publicly denounce him but Baldwin knew he had to be careful.

Churchill, though out of government and with but a small public following, was a fierce debater.

A Baldwin attack would invite a Churchill counterattack that could leave Baldwin the loser.

So Baldwin remained publicly circumspect. But he poured out his upset in a letter to a confidant, Dr. Tom Jones. Here's part of it:

"One of these days I'll make a few casual remarks about Winston. Not a speech - no oratory - just a few words in passing. I've got it all ready.

I am going to say that when Winston was born lots of fairies swooped down on his cradle [with] gifts - imagination, eloquence, industry, ability, and then came a fairy who said 'No one person has a right to so many gifts', picked him up and gave him such a shake and twist that with all these gifts he was denied judgment and wisdom.

And that is why while we delight to listen to him in this House we do not take his advice."
Cited in Roy Jenkins, Churchill: A Biography (p. 419).

Steyn on Benazir Bhutto

Mark Steyn at NRO:

Benazir Bhutto's return to Pakistan had a mad recklessness about it which give today's events a horrible inevitability. As I always say when I'm asked about her, she was my next-door neighbor for a while - which affects a kind of intimacy, though in fact I knew her only for sidewalk pleasantries.

She was beautiful and charming and sophisticated and smart and modern, and everything we in the west would like a Muslim leader to be - though in practice, as Pakistan's Prime Minister, she was just another grubby wardheeler from one of the world's most corrupt political classes.

Since her last spell in power, Pakistan has changed, profoundly.

Its sovereignty is meaningless in increasingly significant chunks of its territory, and, within the portions Musharraf is just about holding together, to an ever more radicalized generation of young Muslim men Miss Bhutto was entirely unacceptable as the leader of their nation.

"Everyone’s an expert on Pakistan, a faraway country of which we know everything," I wrote last month. "It seems to me a certain humility is appropriate."

The State Department geniuses thought they had it all figured out. They'd arranged a shotgun marriage between the Bhutto and Sharif factions as a "united" "democratic" "movement" and were pushing Musharraf to reach a deal with them.

That's what diplomats do: They find guys in suits and get 'em round a table.

But none of those representatives represents the rapidly evolving reality of Pakistan.

Miss Bhutto could never have been a viable leader of a post-Musharraf settlement, and the delusion that she could have been sent her to her death.

Earlier this year, I had an argument with an old (infidel) boyfriend of Benazir's, who swatted my concerns aside with the sweeping claim that "the whole of the western world" was behind her.

On the streets of Islamabad, that and a dime'll get you a cup of coffee.

As I said, she was everything we in the west would like a Muslim leader to be. We should be modest enough to acknowledge when reality conflicts with our illusions.

Rest in peace, Benazir.
Benazir Bhutto’s the latest casualty in a worldwide war that’s been going on for decades.

As for "the whole of the western world" being behind her, much of the “western world” isn’t even looking out for its own best interests.

One reason the Islamists have made progress in the terror war has been the unwillingness of so many in the West to even admit it’s going on. They talk snidely of “George Bush’s war on terror.”

Another reason is that so many refuse to believe the Islamists are people every bit as evil and determined as were the Nazis.

As with the Nazis, you can’t safely negotiate with such people. You can only destroy them or be destroyed.

But many Westerners shrink from admitting that.

Instead our human rights organizations spend their outrage on Guantanamo, our news organizations loudly proclaim they’d never publish those Danish cartoons, and today John Edwards assured the people of Iowa he’d just talked to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and advised him on what to do next.

Benazir Bhutto: RIP

Duke 3 Win Political Incorrectness Award

The American Daily blog is dedicated to exposing the stupidities and injustices of political correctness.

It gives an annual award, The Political Incorrectness Award, to a person or persons who did the most during the year to expose PC stupidities and injustices.

American Daily’s just announced David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann are its 2007 Political Incorrectness Award winners.

After first castigating mainstream news organizations for neglecting “their duty to provide balanced and factual coverage of the case [and allowing themselves to become] the public relations arm of a sleazy prosecutor named Michael Nifong,” American Daily explained why it was recognizing Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann :

Extraordinary pressure was placed on the young men to admit to the misdeed.

At an early interview a policeman warned Dave Evans, “Tell us the truth or you’re going to jail for the rest of your life.”

Local feminists organized a rally with signs saying, “Time to Confess.”

On March 29 a “Please Come Forward” poster with mug shots of the players was posted on campus.

During [a Roman Catholic] mass [a Duke chaplain,] Father Joe Vetter[,] broadly condemned the players. When one of the player’s fathers confronted the priest over his unsaintly remarks, the Man of the Cloth shot back, “Tell them to confess first.”

At one point Michael Nifong issued this threat to the players’ defense attorney: “You tell all of your clients I will remember their lack of cooperation at sentencing. I hope you know if they didn’t do it, they are all aiders and abettors, and that carries the same punishment as rape.” . . .
After criticizing the players for the party, American Daily goes on to say:
[Admiration] must go to the Duke lacrosse team and to the three players falsely accused of rape -- men who, with dignity and grace, endured a self-possessed media spectacle for over a year.

Throughout the episode the Duke lacrosse team hung together, cooperated with the police investigation, answered their questions honestly, volunteered to undergo DNA tests, and above all, refused to stoop to the antics of the Nifong prosecution team and his media enablers.

On May 15, 2006 team captain Dave Evans stood in front of the Durham County magistrate’s office and declared, “These allegations are lies, fabricated – fabricated, and they will be proven wrong … You have all been told some fantastic lies.”

This past April attorney general Roy Cooper vindicated Evans’ claim when he famously announced, “we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges.”

So the 2007 Award for Political Incorrectness goes to Dave Evans, Reade Seligmann, and Collin Finnerty, three young men who refused to go quietly into the night.
The American Daily’s entire announcement is here. It’s a very good read.

And heartiest congratulations to the winners.

Duke's Exemplary Friends

With the year coming to an end, I want to express the appreciation I feel, and I'm sure many of you feel, for the outstanding leadership and services Jason Trumpbour and the Friends of Duke University provided throughout the struggle to defeat the attempted framing of three Duke students; and for what they continue to do to help the Duke Hoax victims secure some measure of justice for the crimes and falsehoods they've endured, and to hold their malfactors and enablers to account through public exposure, and where warrented, civil and criminal punishments.

FODU's fist public action was an open letter addressed to Duke's President Brodhead and the Board of Trustees which FODU placed as a full-page ad in the July 19, 2006 Chronicle. That same day I posted concerning the letter and FODU An exemplary service to Duke and the community.

An exemplary friend tells you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.

Beginning with their public letter FODU's been an exemplary friend to Duke and all those seeking to understand and counter the travesties and crimes which began with Crystal Mangum and Mike Nifong's lies.

You'll see that as you read An exemplary service to Duke and the community.

That’s what the Friends of Duke University provided today with a full-page ad in The Chronicle, Duke’s student newspaper. Historian and blogger KC Johnson tells us :

Today's Duke Chronicle features an open letter to President Richard Brodhead and Duke's Board of Trustees. Sponsored by Friends of Duke University, a grassroots organization, the letter urges the Brodhead administration to do more to speak up for Duke students, in part by "formally demand[ing] that Mr. Nifong immediately correct, to the extent now possible, the grave errors that he has committed to date."

The letter also notes that beyond acknowledging bad conduct by the lacrosse team, as he has repeatedly done, Brodhead needs to "call attention to the larger, more positive, context the [Coleman] committee found” about the team.

In general, the letter advocates a more robust response by Duke to the crisis, asking the institution to use its formal, but especially informal, powers on behalf of both itself and its students.
KC says a lot more in an excellent post that's a must read. Those of you who disdain faculty foolishness and exploitation clothed as concern for students will love KC's Swiftian evisceration of Duke's faculty's Group of 88.

The Friends make clear they don’t condone the partying that occurred the night of Mar. 13/14. They want necessary reforms which recognize that “many of the team’s problems exist within the larger Duke community.” [And on most other campuses. – JinC]

People who love Duke and others who just value fairness will cheer the Friends’ vigorous, fact-based refutation of the “elitist Duke,” “walled off from the community,” “indifferent to Durham’s poor” slimes that have been hurled by the worst of media reporters and “talking heads,” and even by some Duke faculty. [Yes, the Group of 88 and the academic departments and programs that endorsed the 88’s exploitive “listening statement.” Others, too. - JinC ]

Whatever the letter’s ultimate impact, it’s already accomplished two very important things:

1) It provides Duke students with a much needed statement of the facts and issues of fairness, judgment, justice and community life the Duke lacrosse case has raised.

2) By confronting President Brodhead with facts, injustices and the sliming of the university; and by asking that he speak out and in other ways act, the letter places Brodhead in a position where he must take a stand or lose a very great deal of credibility.

Back on Mar. 29, within a few hours of listening to the tape of a 911 call, Brodhead issued a written, unqualified, public apology to the caller without knowing whether all, some or none of what the caller said was true.

Brodhead’s decision to apologize to the caller, who we later learned was the “second dancer,” is very much on the minds of Dukies and everyone else who’s watched the unraveling of what's really the Duke lacrosse hoax.

People will be thinking about how and why Brodhead decided to make an apology as they now assess his response to the Friends’ letter.

Advice to President Brodhead: Press releases and committee formations won’t be enough. You’re going to be judged against the standard you set for yourself and the university on Mar. 29.

Something for JinC readers: The Chronicle issue in which today’s letter appears is called the “mailer issue.” That’s because it’s a special edition that’s mailed to about 18, 000 addresses, including those of the students and their families. The issue is meant to be a “Welcome to the start of the new school year.”

Message to Friends of Duke University: Well done! A lot of us have been looking for something like what you put out there today.

Full disclosure: KC Johnson noted that he’s a strong supporter of Friends of Duke University; also that they’ve often linked to his posts. The same is true with me.

Also, because some people now expect such disclosure: I’m a Duke alum, and feel I'm fortunate to be one.

That said, I’m no different than millions of Americans outraged by the injustices of “Justice in Durham;” by biased and inflammatory media reporting, especially that of the Raleigh News & Observer; and by a university response which, with a handful of admirable exceptions, has been troubling to say the least.

I’m very glad so many people who’ve never set foot on Duke’s campus or visited Durham care about the case.

It’s great to be “shoulder to shoulder” with such people. I think every Dukie feels that way except the 88 and others like them.

Folks, you're welcome to add your own apprecaition to FODU.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Churchill Series - Dec. 26, 2008

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

Readers Note: During the holidays I'm posting some "Classic Oldies." The following post is the very first series post. It ran on Nov. 1, 2005. I think you'll agree it has a nice "seasonal touch" as well as some Churchillian wisdom.


Just before Christmas, 1941 Churchill arrived in Washington to meet with Roosevelt and begin joint Anglo-American war planning.

With the exception of a brief trip to Canada, Churchill remained in America for almost four weeks. While in Washington, he stayed at the White House.

The British government and people were understandably very interested to know what was transpiring with the Americans.

When Churchill flew back to England, landing at Plymouth on Jan. 17, 1942, a train was waiting to take him to London where at 10 PM that evening, the War Cabinet assembled to hear his report.

The minutes of that meeting include this:

The Prime Minister thought that (the Americans) were not above learning from us provided we did not set out to teach them.
Cited in Martin Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill: Road to Victory, 1941-1945, (p. 43).

A nice Munger wrap

The post title has nothing to do with how I wrapped a Christmas present for Duke University’s Political Science Department chair and professor Michael Munger.

For the record, I didn’t even give Munger a Christmas present.

The “wrap” has to do with how Munger ended his part of a useful, "no-winner" series of exchanges we had at his blog (not a Duke site) and JinC.

Our exchanges, to which thoughtful commenters at both blogs added, mostly concerned matters relating to free speech at Duke and other colleges and universities.

Munger's wrap is reflective, informing and gracious. If you haven’t done so, I hope you read it here.

Those of you not familiar with our exchanges will find links to them in this JinC post and this Munger post.

Dem whine for the holidays

Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby has a secure place on my “10 Favorite Pundits” list.

Here are excerpts from his June 2, 2005 column in which he reviewed a number of Dem whines including a just released Kerry ’05, a Gore ’02, and the Hillary Clinton “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” classic which is still available at the NY Times, NPR, the AP, and other leading liberal vendors.

Jacoby begins:

John Kerry had a complaint. Six months after winning more than 59 million votes in his bid for the White House, the Massachusetts senator was lamenting to a roomful of columnists and editorial writers that voters can't hear Democrats above the roar of the GOP spin machine.

The right, he groused, is far more effective than the left at making itself heard.

To peddle their ideas, Republicans and conservatives have assembled an elaborate communication network, one that relies on the likes of ''Cato and Heritage and Grover Norquist" -- two think tanks and a well-connected Republican lobbyist -- to make sure its messages get plenty of attention.

''Several times a day, their message is amplified," grumbled the former Democratic standard-bearer. ''We don't have anything like that."

Now, where have we heard this before?

Well, last year we heard it from Democratic operative Rob Stein, creator of a much-discussed presentation called ''The Conservative Message Machine's Money Matrix." As The New York Times Magazine summarized it, Stein ''essentially makes the case that a handful of families -- Scaife, Bradley, Olin, Coors, and others -- laid the foundation for a $300 million-per-year network of policy centers, advocacy groups, and media outlets that now wield great influence over the national agenda.

The network, as Stein diagrams it, [is] . . . linked to a massive message apparatus, into which Stein lumps everything from Fox News and the Wall Street Journal op-ed page to Pat Robertson's '700 Club.' " …

In 2002, Al Gore declared, ''The media is kind of weird these days on politics, and there are some major institutional voices that are, truthfully speaking, part and parcel of the Republican Party." He indicted several by name. ''Fox News Network, The Washington Times, Rush Limbaugh -- there's a bunch of them, and some of them are financed by wealthy ultra-conservative billionaires . . . Most of the media has been slow to recognize the pervasive impact of this fifth column in their ranks."

Earlier still, first lady Hillary Clinton pooh-poohed reports of an affair between her husband and Monica Lewinsky as the delusions of a ''vast right-wing conspiracy." …

If nothing else, [Kerry’s and the others’ whines make] it clear that the paranoid style in American politics is alive and well.

Thirty years ago, it was Richard Nixon who fumed at the media and compiled an enemies list. Today it is in the upper ranks of the Democratic Party that unflattering news coverage is blamed on ''conspiracies" and subversive ''fifth columns."

But there is a difference. Nixon really did a face an overwhelmingly hostile press corps. Kerry, Gore, and Clinton, by contrast, benefit from a news media that is overwhelmingly liberal, as countless surveys have shown.

To cite just one: When a New York Times reporter polled journalists covering the 2004 Democratic National Convention, those from around the country favored Kerry over Bush by a ratio of 3 to 1.

Among the Washington press corps, the results were even more lopsided -- 12 to 1 pro-Kerry.

What Kerry and the others object to is not that there are only conservative voices in media circles these days but that there are any such voices.

The right-of-center Fox News cannot hold a candle to the combined left-of-center output of ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, and PBS.

Scaife, Bradley, and Olin money helps leverage Republican messages, but its impact is dwarfed by the Ford, Rockefeller, Pew, Heinz, MacArthur, Carnegie, and Soros fortunes.

The Washington Times is conservative? Yes, but The Washington Post is liberal -- and its circulation is eight times as large.

But for Kerry, Gore, and Clinton, even a few conservative outlets are too many. …
There’s more to Jacoby’s column which you can read here.

I wonder what liberals who champion press freedom tell themselves when they hear Al Gore, the man most of them wanted to be President, complain that most of the media have been “slow to recognize the pervasive impact of this fifth column in their ranks?"

What does Gore think should be done with these “fifth column” journalists who don’t toe the NYT/WaPo/AP line?

If ratios of journalists at 3 to 1 and 12 to 1 favoring them don’t satisfy the Democrats, just what ratios will?

And if we ever reach those ratios, will there by any news organization left willing to report John Kerry still hasn’t released to the public all his Navy records as he said he would years ago.

And BTW – Is it true Kerry’s spending Christmas in Cambodia with Dan Rather and Paul Krugman?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

To Our Military and Their Families My Deepest Thanks

If you're part of America's military forces, have someone in your family who is, are a veteran or a veteran’s family member, or if you're one of those who lost a loved one who made the supreme sacrifice, I just want to say to you a heartfelt "thank you."

I'd never have had the good life I've had without the service and sacrifice of America’s military and their families.

The same holds for my family and literally billions of others in this world whose lives are better and safer because of you.

Tomorrow at a Christmas Eve Service when my wife and I give thanks, you all will be first on our list.

That isn't much, but it let's you know how we feel.

May God watch over all of you.

Is Paul Krugman really "brilliant?"

In a recent Newsweek "net exclusive" the politically liberal Jonathan Alter begins his column by telling readers:

Paul Krugman is a brilliant Princeton economist and fine columnist for The New York Times who was far ahead of the pack in asserting that George W. Bush is a total disaster as president
And that isn't all.
In the next sentence, Alter assures readers:
[Frugman's] clarity in explaining what academics call "political economy" is without peer.

If Alter had stopped there, I might have believe he thinks Krugman is brilliant.

But in the very next sentence Alter says of his fellow liberal and passionate Bush-hater Krugman:

But his attack on Barack Obama on December 17 was wrong on history, wrong on politics and wrong on what the future holds for Obama's "big table" idea.
Woah, Nelly!

If a Princeton professor and NYT columnist is wrong on history, politics and "what the future holds for Obama's 'big table' ideas," how can he be brilliant?

It's a little like believing it was a brilliant politican who said, "I never, ever had sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," before the DNA study revealed it was his seman which stained her dress.

Go figure.

Alter's entire column is here.

BOT Chair Steel Questions

This is a 1, 2, 3 post containing:

1 – a statement Duke BOT chair Robert Steel made on Apr. 7, 2006.

2 – a some facts we all knew on Apr. 7 and some questions they generate in light of what Steel said that day.

3 – a few comments.

Let’s begin ----

From Duke News the full text of BOT chair Robert Steel’s Apr. 7, 2006 statement:

1 - The trustees of Duke University have been in active conversation with President Brodhead and the university’s senior leadership since the outset of the controversy involving the men’s lacrosse team. We appreciate the constancy of President Brodhead’s responsible leadership at a time when the facts are not clear and emotions run high.

President Brodhead has spoken eloquently about the challenges our community faces and the values that must guide us in doing so, in addressing the serious issues that have surfaced as a result of this incident. First and foremost, we await a resolution of the facts surrounding the party of March 13, and join in calling for full cooperation with the police investigation.

As President Brodhead has consistently stated, the crimes alleged are grave and, if verified, will warrant severe punishment from both the criminal justice system and Duke’s student judicial process. Simultaneously, we must protect the rights of students who have maintained their innocence and not been charged with any crime.

As President Brodhead has noted, we need not -- and will not -- wait on the resolution of this case to address broader issues that range from the social culture of our students to difficult questions involving race, class and Duke’s relationships with its Durham neighbors.

We endorse the steps President Brodhead is taking to deal with both the immediate situation and these wider challenges.

The trustees recognize and deeply regret how the current situation has cast a cloud over the many wonderful people who comprise our campus and the larger community of Durham. We are especially grateful to Mayor Bill Bell and Chancellor James Ammons and many others in the Durham community and at Duke for their wise and statesmanlike leadership during this troubled time.

When all of the facts are in, Duke will be judged by how it responded to the challenges before us. The trustees recognize these challenges and pledge our personal and collective support over the coming weeks to ensure that Duke University responds in a manner consistent with the great institution we know it to be.

__________END OF STEEL'S STATEMENT____________________

2 – By Apr. 7 Steel and the rest of us knew about the players’ cooperation with police. Steel and the rest of us also knew their attorneys had approached Nifong offering to provide what they said was exculpatory evidence and to bring the Duke students in for questioning but had been rebuffed by Nifong on both counts.

Steel said nothing about any of that. Why not?

By Apr. 7 Steel and the rest of us knew about the “Wanted” and “Vigilante” posters, both based on the lie that the players hadn’t cooperated with police.

We all knew both posters added to the considerable physical danger the lacrosse players were facing and heightened the danger other Duke students were facing because they could be unintended victims of unstable people stirred to act by the posters.

But in a statement he made clear had the support of his fellow trustees, Steel said nothing critical of the posters’ contents or those circulating them. Or for that matter the 88 Duke faculty mambers who just the day before had thanked them "for not waiting."

Why was that?

What about Steel “calling for full cooperation with the police investigation?”

Did he know of anyone at the time on the lacrosse team or connected with it who wasn’t willing to cooperate so long as their rights were respected and they weren't being set-up as part of a frame-up?

Steel should tell us.

Can you agree with this statement: Steel had to know at the time he made his call “for full cooperation” that it would be helpful to those using the “wall of silence” lie and posters in ways that endangered Duke students?

3 – Final comments:

I’ll be interested to read what you say.

This is my last Duke Hoax post before I join my family for Christmas services and festivities.

I’ll put a few “low intensity” posts up later tonight ( “Low intensity?” They’re easy to do posts. Like posting on a pundit’s claim NYT columnist Paul Krugman is “brilliant.” ) and then JinC will be “closed” for Christmas Eve and Day.

The only important one of the “low intensity” posts will be a full-hearted expression of thanks to our armed forces and their families.

I’ll be back around 10 AM Eastern on Wednesday.

Every good wish for joy and health to you all and those you love

The Duke Hoax: Time for a name change?

Readers Note:

If you’ve read the threads of recent JinC Duke Hoax posts, you know Walter Abbott’s been commenting to the effect that I shouldn’t use the term “hoax” but must use “frame” instead.

Abbott's promised to challenge me every time I use “hoax.”

If Abbott’s name is new to you, I and many others know him as a citizen journalist who’s done outstanding work in response to the Duke lacrosse witch hunt and so much that’s followed.

Abbott was right early in spotting Mangum’s and Nifong’s lies. He’s “been there” often at the Raleigh News & Observer’s Editors’ Blog questioning and exposing the N&O’s biased, racially inflammatory and false Duke lacrosse coverage which did so much to advance the Hoax.

At the EB and other places in the blogosphere as well as in newspapers, Abbott’s helped expose the attempted frame-up by Nifong and others. He’s also challenged the enablers.

Following the NC AG’s declaration the three former Duke students were innocent, I posted a tribute to Abbott which included samples of his outstanding work. You can view that post here.

I’ve just sent Abbott the following email with a link to this post.


Dear Walter:

I entered the search term “Duke lacrosse” in the JinC archives. It returned 755 hits.

Add to that number some other posts relating one way or another to matters relating to the lies Crystal Mangum and Mike Nifong told about the night of Mar. 13/14 but in which I didn’t use “Duke lacrosse,” and it’s safe to say I’ve published close to a thousand posts, some quite lengthy, about what I and others often refer to as “the Duke Hoax.”

I’ve used many other terms in those posts - “frame-up,” “monumental injustices,” and “witch hunt,” to name a few.

In a post on Apr. 3, 2006, just days after the Raleigh N&O “broke” the story, I used the term “reporting/prosecution” to describe the paper’s coverage?

One week later on the day the public learned the DNA results had come back negative, I posted and asked:

Should we keep referring to "the Duke lacrosse rape story?"

Shouldn't we now be referring to "the Mike Nifong rape case story?"
On the Monday following the Saturday publication of the N&O’s “anonymous interview” story I called a number of N&O editors to complain that, among other things, by repeatedly referring to the accuser as “the victim,” the N&O was effectively framing the Duke lacrosse players as the victimizers?

I must have expressed that identical sentiment in at least a hundred posts.

There’s no single term – hoax, frame or whatever - that satisfactorily expresses all that’s happened since Mar. 13/14.

But “hoax,” which the dictionaries say means something intended to deceive or defraud, encapsulates a good deal, although certainly not all, of whats happened and what is still going on as part of the cover-up of the attempted frame-up.

So “hoax’ is accurate as to the past and the present while “the frame,” thanks to the efforts of many including you, was exposed and foiled, with the principal framer subsequently receiving some punishment but nothing near his due.

Winston Churchill once said that people who disagreed intensely on the proper definition of “rhinoceros” could nonetheless all agree when they saw one.

I think it’s that way with “Duke Hoax” in a post title or in reference to aspects of what is now a twenty-one month series of travesties and illegalities redeemed somewhat by the actions of sensible and, in some cases, courageous people.

So I intend to continue using “Duke Hoax.”

I hope this letter persuades you that's reasonable and you desist from your promise to confront me each time I use the term.

Now I’m going to prepare one more serious post before Christmas.

It deals with what I see as a very troubling statement Duke BOT chair Robert Steel made last Spring. I’ll ask questions that’ll suggest to reasonable people there may very well have been some deception in Steel’s statement.

That being the case, I’ll be using “Duke Hoax” and “hoax” in the post.

After that post I plan a few “light” posts in the holiday spirit.

Then I’ll join my family for some Christmas festivities and what looks to be the start of a wonderful holiday season for us.

I wish the same for you and yours.


John in Carolina

Remember "Nifong Roasting?"

A year ago today three former Duke students the NC AG would later declare innocent were still under indictments, now disbarred Mike Nifong was still Durham DA, and Duke's Dick Brodhead, the school's president, hadn't yet started telling alums: "I'm one of Nifong's bigest critics."

Also a year ago today, JinC published "Nifong Roasting" by Duke alum Locomotive Breath.

As they say in the music industry, "Nifong Roasting" was "an instant classic."

I'm delighted to republish it today.


There’s The Christmas Song Nat King Cole made famous:

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping on your nose,
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.
The rest of the lyrics are here.

Citizen journalist and JinC Regular Locomotive Breath took those lyrics and has just produced this wonderful spoof:
A Christmas Song for Mike Nifong
With Apologies to Tradition

DA's burning in a hellish fire
Flames are licking at his toes,
Mournful chants sung by a choir,
Of tortured souls sent down below.

Everybody knows a false charge from a lyin' ho',
Will surely send you straight to hell,
Wicked fiends with their eyes all aglow,
Will make it hard to sleep too well.

They know that Nifong's gotta pay,
He's loaded lots of guilt and bad deeds on his way,
And every laxer Mom is gonna spy,
To see if Michael really knows how to cry.

And so I'm offering this simple gaze,
From now to time beyond our view,
Although it's been said many times many ways,
Immolation for you.

Grandpapa Churchill & the toy trains

Winston Churchill was a courageous and eloquent statesman to whom the world owes a great deal. He was also a loving grandfather in whom there was a good bit of “the little boy.”

In Memories and Adventures (Weidenfield & Nicolson, 1989) Churchill’s grandson and namesake, born in 1940 during the London Blitz, tells us:

[My] greatest excitement was … a wonderful clockwork train set which Grandpapa and Grandmama Churchill had scoured London to find for me secondhand as no such thing existed in the shops in wartime.

Those who never knew him will find it astonishing that, even in his seventieth year with all his weighty responsibilities, he could find time to play trains with his small grandson, getting down on his hands and knees to adjust the track or attend to a derailment.

For corroboration of the following story I am indebted to Mrs. Kathleen Hill, [at the time his personal secretary. Mrs. Hill’s son was asked by Grandmama to unpack the trains and make sure everything was in working order.]

According to Mrs. Hill: “The train set consisted of two clockwork engines, some rolling stock and some gauge rails. Her son, Richard, knelt upon the floor, and arranged the rails to form a circle.

While engaged upon this, he noticed close beside him a pair of velvet slippers initialed ‘WSC.’ He looked up to find looming over him the figure of the Prime Minister. [He began to stand but was told:] ‘Carry on with what you are doing.’

Once the rails were completed the Prime Minister ordered: ‘Put one of the engines on the track.’ This was done and the engine ran around the circle until the clockwork ran down.

He then said: ‘I see you have two engines. Put the other one on the track as well.’ So both engines ran around the circle.

When they had stopped, the Prime Minister got down upon his hands and knees on the floor and declared, 'Now, let’s have a crash!’

Of course they duly crashed, much to the Prime Minister’s satisfaction!” (pgs. 31-32)
As those of you who’ve yourselves arranged such crashes know, they very rarely cause any real damage.

That was the case with young Winston’s trains which subsequently he and Grandpapa played with for years.

There’ll be no Churchill series posts on Christmas Eve and Day, but starting Wednesday, Dec. 26, look for some series “Golden Oldies” through the New Year.

I hope you all have happy and blessed holidays.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Upcoming Series on Duke Hoax/Frame

In The N&O's Duke Hoax Role I explained why it’s important to take a fresh look at the Raleigh News & Observer’s coverage of what in Spring 2006 was commonly called “the Duke lacrosse rape scandal.”

I told readers I’m planning a post series (about 20) to run in Jan. and Feb concerning the coverage and promised to provide some outline information concerning the series in a separate post.

This is that post.

The series is a work in progress. I’m learning as I go along. What I’m learning will not only show up in the texts of posts; some of it has already forced me to modify the planned structure of the series.

For example, I always intended to work into various posts text material N&O readers and editors posted at the N&O’s Editors’ Blog and Readers Corner blogs.

But after reading through the scores of N&O editors’ posts and their responses to readers, and then what are easily over 1200 reader comments, some quite lengthy, I’ve decided to include in the series two stand-alone posts focused solely on the N&O’s blogs’ part of the paper’s Duke Hoax coverage.

Another structural change has to do with N&O reporter Joe Neff, called by some a “hero of the Hoax.”

Researching for the series confirms what many, myself included, have said: Neff produced some fine stories based on examination of court documents and statements made by principals in the case.

But research also raises some important questions: Why, for instance, in the first Duke lacrosse story I found in which Neff’s listed as a reporter, does the story report near its end on the criminal background of the accuser but omit the crucial fact that at the time of the crimes in 2002, the accuser was lap-dancing at a men’s club? Why did the N&O’s public editor consider recommending removing Neff from covering the case? Why, on May 22, 2007, did Neff tell a National Press Club panel audience the N&O never used anonymous sources during its Duke lacrosse coverage?

Because of those and other questions concerning Neff, I’m reworking the series structure to include at least one stand-alone post examining his reporting and seeking to answer questions concerning it.

I plan stand-alone posts for two other N&O journalists: vice president and executive editor for news Melanie Sill, who’s since left the McClatchy News Company owned N&O to assume an identical position at McClatchy’s flagship paper, the Sacramento Bee and public editor Ted Vaden.

The first series post will set out my objectives, briefly review the N&O’s history with regard to politics, race, and political correctness, and provide some information about the N&O’s place among North Carolina news organizations.

Subsequent posts will include one summarizing N&O coverage from Mar. 24 to Mar. 28, 2006, the period from the time the public first heard “Duke lacrosse case” to the first N&O reports of Mike Nifong’s public news conferences, including the one in which calls the Duke students “hooligans.”

That post will be followed by one which will do two things: 1) document what the N&O knew but didn’t tell the public during the critical Mar. 24 to Mar. 28 period when the players were being publicly framed as the “Wanted” and “Vigilante” posters were produced (news suppression); and 2) cite failures by the N&O to gather statements and report on matters a responsible newspaper could reasonably be expected to report.

For example: That when defense attorneys come on a case it’s routine for them to tell their clients to be silent. I must so far have spoken to at least 10 attorneys who’ve told me the N&O could easily have found attorneys not on the case who would have been willing to be quoted as saying such advice to clients is routine as is attorneys’ silence until they’re familiar with the case and know more about their clients role, if any, in it.

The following post will do two things: 1) examine when and with what explanations the N&O has subsequently admitted some of what it knew at the time but didn’t report; and 2) cite important matters the N&O should long ago have disclosed to readers but has so far refused to do.

For instance, telling readers just how it was led to Crystal Mangum on Mar. 24 and how her agreement to be interviewed was obtained.

Did someone in the DA’s office or DPD help lead the N&O to Mangum and perhaps tell her that the N&O was a newspaper she could trust?

There’ll be much more in the series before it ends with a look at how three sources – the American Journalism Review, Stuart Taylor/KC Johnson’s Until Proven Innocent and the N&O itself – have assessed the N&O’s Duke lacrosse coverage and some comments of my own.

I hope you decide to read the series and find it worthwhile.

I plan to begin on Jan. 10.