Saturday, July 07, 2007

INNOCENT: Durham & America

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

Today’s Durham Herald Sun contains a letter from Steve Bumgardner, a Durhamite who for many years has been a regular contributor to the H-S’s letters section. Or maybe I should say he’s been a chronic contributor.

Anyway, what I want to do is take one of Bumgardner’s emotings (Bumgardner no doubt would call it a “thought”) and use it to say things I’ve wanted to say for some time.

Bumgardner begins:

I find it very interesting how all of these people that don't live here are telling Durhamites how they should feel and react to the lacrosse case.
To paraphrase an old expression: “your not from Durham” is the last refuge of those who still wish Nifong had been right.

People like Bumgardner don’t write letters saying they’re upset that Nifong repeatedly lied to them and worked to frame innocent men.

They don’t complain that Durham police lied about a “horrific crime” being committed and a “wall of silence;” thereby inflaming racial tensions to the point that Durham’s Mayor, NC Central’s Chancellor and Duke’s President felt forced to take out full-page newspaper ads calling for community calm.

But let someone from Wisconsin write a letter that begins, “We should all respect the Constitution and I’m concerned Mike Nifong hasn’t…,” and it lights the Bumgardners’ fuses, and they start booming about “outsiders telling us in Durham what to do.”

Never mind that the Constitution is supposed to be the law of the land. Or that as citizens we are all supposed to take care that it is enforced everywhere in America.

And never mind that if we were all like Baumgardner we wouldn’t have listened to Don Abrams, William Anderson, the late Ed Bradley, La Shawn Barber, Tom Bevan, Mary Katherine Ham, KC Johnson, Betsy Newmark, Kathleen Parker, Dorothy Rabinowitz , Thomas Sowell, Stuart Taylor, Jason Trumpbour, Jason Whitlock, Philip Wood and so many others whose work helped slow the witch hunt and expose the frame-up.

Well, folks, you’re all smart enough to ignore Bumgardner’s last refuge argument and hoot his H-S letter and ones like it.

I hope you also know how much most of us in Durham appreciate all the help we’ve had from outsiders to get rid of Nifong. What would have happened if he hadn’t been stopped and could have gone on for anther four years?

It’s too bad Bumgardner and some others here don’t think about that and instead worry about “outsiders” who might say things they don’t want to hear.

Keep those letters coming and stay with us. We need your help.


Friday, July 06, 2007

The Churchill Series – July 6, 2007

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

This post deals with the same topic I discussed yesterday: readers’ comments and what those comments suggest about series readers.

The thing that most impresses me about series commentors is how well they handle their knowledge or lack of knowledge when commenting. By that I mean, when commenters don’t know something they freely admit it and ask information-seeking questions. When they do know something, they invariably comment in a helpful, fact-based and “to the point” manner with no discernable “look at me” thrown in.

Some examples of what I mean: I recently mentioned that Churchill, because of an injury years before that limited his range of right shoulder use, had used a Mauser pistol at the Battle of Omdurman instead of a sword, which was the weapon used by British cavalry officers at that time.

A short while later a commenter noted that the type of Mauser Churchill used could be adapted with the addition of a wooden stock, thus allowing the pistol to be steadied by the shooter’s bracing it against his shoulder. The commenter said:

It is also interesting to know that the Mauser automatic used by Churchill at Omderman was a broomhandle Mauser with a shoulder stock, the perfect weapon to have one hand guiding the horse and the maximum bracing for the gun (the shoulder and the grip on the pistol). It was chambered in .30 Mauser, regarded in its day as a hot pistol load. For those not gun aficianadoes, the stock functioned as a holster and had a slot that allowed the pistol to be attached to the rear of the grip.
Sure enough, when I went to this site that’s exactly what I learned. (Churchill’s even mentioned in the article)

The commenter/reader was right and helped clear up something I hadn’t mentioned in the series post: in his account of Omdurman in My Early Life, Churchill speaks of riding toward where he knew the battle would take place with his Mauser in its “wooden holster.”

I had thought it odd that Churchill’s pistol holster would be made of wood until, thanks to the reader, I learned about its double use, something I assume Churchill believed his readers would know when he published My Early Life about 1930.

Two very recent examples of the kind of reader comments I’m talking about can be found on the thread of the July 2 post in which I suggested Churchill was sometimes foolhardy in the face of physical danger. The two comments follow in full:

First comment:
I'd previously mentioned the character in Winds of War stating: “Winston is a perpetual undergraduate about getting into combat. He's a great man, but it's one of his many faults." The same criticism was leveled against Edward R. Murrow for exposing himself to danger (during the Blitz and going on bomber runs) needlessly. Not bad company.

By the way, I sometimes feel you're doing the 'series' just for me, so it's nice to see others commenting.
And the second comment:
[At the time Churchill took the Americans to a rooftop to witness a bombing raid on London it was]ten months before Pearl Harbor, [and] the American reps may well have still been under the influence of isolationist politics of the "he kept us out of war" sort.

Churchill did have a history of theatrically exposing himself to danger. But he also had a far more important reason for rubbing those diplomats' noses in the Blitz: to demonstrate that the Germans were returning to their WW I habits of mass attacks against civilians, and to create two witnesses who couldn't very well say in future that the war news was overblown.

Perhaps their personal descriptions to FDR assisted in first setting up Lend-Lease, and then assisting wholehearted cooperation with Britain in opposing the German-Japanese axis militarily after Pearl Harbor.
The truth may be that what I saw as foolhardiness in the face of danger was a calculated attempt by Churchill to impress upon the Americans not just what the war was about, but British resolve to see it through to the end.

And yes, as far as courage in WW II is concerned Churchill and Morrow constitute very, very “good company”

Based on the comments I do get, I believe this about series readers: you are a remarkably informed group and interested in becoming more informed. How many people now the type of Mauser Churchill used at Omdurman? How many Americans today know much about Ed Morrow, including that he once flew on a bombing raids? Or that Churchill before Pearl Harbor took great pains to impress every American he came in contact with of British resolve in the face on Nazi attacks?

There are many other such examples I could cite. You may recall, for example, the two recent comments in response to the post concerning the Enigma and code-breaking work at Bletchley. I didn't get into detail here on those comment because I know so little about computers, but the comments impressed me with their obvious expert knowledge.

I hope you’re all back on Monday after having enjoyed a nice post-Fourth weekend.


INNOCENT: Prof. Haagen & Seligmann comments

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007
Readers Note: To understand this post and its purpose, you must be familiar with this post: "INNOCENT: Prof. Haagen Responded."


From Anon @ 3:01,

Thanks for your continued persistence, John.

There seems to be a conspiracy of silence at Duke. I am grieved, as an alumna of the graduate school, that the image of my great university continues to deteriorate because of the inability or unwillingness for those who were complicit in this tragedy to say a simple "We are sorry. We were wrong. Forgive us".

Words accused; Words can heal.

We desperately need the faculty and administration to begin to speak forth words of healing. Not rationalizing, nor condescending, nor blame-shifting words... but words of personal responsibility.

Will anyone break the deafening silence, and begin the healing?

The verdict was justice. But it will take more than justice to heal. It will take words, honest, contrite and gracious words, from the heart. How long must we wait?

From Anon @ 4:34,

Re: 3:01

The answer seems quite clear to me: As soon as the "hate studies" faculty lose control of the university administration. I wouldn't hold my breath, Duke just spent multi-millions to keep them here.

From Anon @ 5:22,

Somewhere I read a Duke Alum state that the future of Duke was up to the Duke family, not to the temporary stewards who have indeed disgraced the university. If you are representative of those who love and value Duke, hopefully Duke can be saved from the radical insanity that seems to be currently in charge. Perhaps even lead the way for some long overdue sanity in higher education.

From Doris in NC @ 7:11,

So how do we family members save the Duke family that we once knew and loved?

Withold donations?

Petition the Board of Trustees?

Pot-bang the President or Academic Council ? ( No, really I'm just kidding... although my baser nature really would love to invoke the "eye for eye" principle for the guilty who risked the lives and future of so many people for their arrogance and greed.)

But REAL Duke people are not that way. And the squatters who have usurped the rightful place of the owners live their lives by a different code. Alas, treating them the same way as they treated others would just cheapen the good guys and the bad guys wouldn't learn anything anyway.

So it isn't about teaching them a lesson.

It's about taking back our heritage.

Do we even have a prayer of hope that any of the conspirators take note of this or any other blog?

Do they KNOW what is being said?

I had two children born in Durham. I have a graduate degree from Duke. I have been proud of my school and my heritage. I want my pride back. I am tired of feeling embarassed of Duke and Durham, and I am tired of the university and the town being held hostage by the conspirators.

From Anon @ 1:33,

It is now past midnight of June 30. Prof. Hagen's tour of duty is over as Chairman of the Academic Counsel. Have you had any reply to your Hagen / MacLendon letter?

Do these folks think that this issue is just going to be ignored into oblivion?

Hopefully, those of you who are holding people accountable, backed by the rest of us, will NOT let them forget, ignore, or wiggled out from personal responsibility for their abhorrent complicity with the Duke Lacross Hoax and the Pressler Persecution.

Please keep the heat on John.

Hopefully, those of us who want to reclaim Duke University and it's ( previous) good reputation will have longer memories than the average American public does when something really really terrible happens. The acquittal was the BEGINNING of a new kind of battle. Not the end.

There was one other comment askin only whether Prof. Haagen had responded. Since that's been answered I didn't include it here.

INNOCENT: Professor Haagen Responded

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

Readers Note: If you followed the recent NC State Bar trial resulting in former DA Mike Nifong’s disbarment, you know some of its most compelling, disturbing and saddening testimony concerned not Nifong, but the ordeal Reade Seligmann, his parents and attorney endured as they walked on May 18, 2006 to the Durham County Courthouse.

As they approached and entered the courthouse, they passed through a gauntlet of angry racists shouting physical threats at Seligmann. Once inside the courtroom things were, if anything, worse.

Duke’s response to the threats directed at Seligmann has been silence. President Brodhead has said nothing; nor has any Trustee; or any member of “Dick’s senior team.” The faculty, with few exceptions, has also been silent.

Since last May I’ve written Brodhead, the Trustees and others connected at Duke urging them to speak out in condemnation of those who threatened Seligmann and in support of him and his family.

At first I wanted Duke to speak out because of concern for Seligmann and his family, and in support of a civil Durham where law abiding citizens can go about without fear of being threatened by racists.

My hope was that President Brodhead would help organize an event at which the leaders of Duke and Durham, “town and gown,” would say the things which needed to be said and which every decent person would endorse and applaud.

As the months have past and nothing has happened, I've come to realize there's another reason Duke needs to speak out: to erase, in so far as is possible, the stain the Brodhead administration and its followers’ silence has brought upon Duke’s reputation.

Can you name another university in America where in the last 40 years a student was threatened by a mob of racists as Seligmann was not a mile from the campus and the university said nothing?

To date I and others had no success in getting Duke to right its wrong.

My email letters to President Brodhead and Trustees have never received even pro forma acknowledgements. Phone calls to Brodhead's office aren't returned. Letters to others at Duke are sometimes courteously acknowledge but say little else, except on occasion to direct me to someone else.

Among those who have replied only Arts & Science Faculty Dean George McLendon said he “deplored and condemned” the threats made to Seligmann and anyone else connected with “the Duke community, as a result of this tragically misguided prosecution and the events which surrounded it.”

McLendon was responding to a request I made this May that he place before the Academic Council my request that it condemn those who threatened Seligmann and affirm Duke's support for him and his family.

As precedent for such an action, I cited a prior instance just a year before when the Executive Committee of the Academic Council, acting in the name of the University faculty, condemned a series of three cross burnings in Durham one evening by a person or persons who has/have never been identified.

McLendon forwarded my request to then Academic Council Chair Paul Haagen, a professor in the Law School.

I did not hear from Haagen and contacted him in late June as his term as Chair was ending.

I then heard back promptly and want to share Haagen's response with you.

Below is first a copy of my letter to Haagen. I included for his convenience a copy of the letter I'd received from McLendon. Also for Haagen's convenience, I added to my letter a copy of the letter I'd sent McLendon.

If you are already familiar with those letters, you may want to scroll down to the double star line, following which you’ll find, first Haagen’s entire response to me, followed by a few of my comments concerning my next steps.


Paul H. Haagen, J.D.
Professor of Law
Duke University School of Law

Dear Professor Haagen:

Some weeks back I contacted Faculty of Arts & Sciences Dean George McLendon. I requested he ask the Academic Council to make a statement condemning those who on May 18, 2006 shouted physical threats, including death threats, at Reade Seligmann and expressing concern for him and his family for the ordeal they endured.

In addition to links to news reports of the threats, I provided Dean McLendon with a links to an account of the cross burning in Durham the previous May and the Academic Council’s formal condemnation a few days later of that odious event.

Dean McLendon responded as follows:

I have forwarded your email to Paul Haagen, chair of the academic council.(A [JinC] commentator astutely notes that I have no special standing with [the academic council] ).

I personally deplore and condemn any threats directed at Mr Seligmann,or at any other member of the Duke community,as a result of this tragically misguided prosecution and the events which surrounded it.
I’ve heard nothing from you in the weeks since Dean McLendon forwarded my request to you.

I know how easily things can fall off the radar screen, so I’ve included below a copy of the letter I sent Dean McLendon.

I look forward to your response, which I'll post in full at my


John in Carolina

George L. McLendon, Ph.D.
Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences
Duke University

Dear Dean McLendon:

I hold two degrees from the University and blog as John in Carolina.

I’m writing as both an alum and a Durham resident.

You no doubt recall that last May 18, then sophomore Reade Seligmann was subjected to shouted physical threats, including death threats. They were made first as he walked to the Durham County Courthouse with his parents and attorney, the late Kirk Osborn, and then again within the courtroom.

The threats were widely reported in media. Britan’s The Guardian's account said:
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.
Among those threatening Seligmann were members of the racist New Black Panther Party.

I know of no member of the Arts & Sciences faculty who spoke out publicly to condemn those threatening Seligmann or to offer their compassion to Seligmann and his parents after what was a terrible ordeal.

The A & S faculty’s silence reflects very poorly on it and Duke University.

That’s especially so when we recall the faculty’s prompt, clear and strong response almost exactly a year earlier to the anonymous and still unsolved cross burnings in Durham.

Here in full for your reference and JinC readers information is the Academic Council’s June 1, 2005, statement as posted for media distribution at Duke News:
As representatives of the Duke University faculty, the Executive Committee of the Academic Council wishes to add our collective voice to the recent events in Durham.

Cross-burning in the United States is a history we all hoped had ended. Such acts have been an extreme symbol of racial violence and of one group's desire to deny civil and human rights to another group. Cross-burning has re-emerged as a practice of intimidation in the present, still carrying the taint of white supremacist, segregationist, and other demeaning policies associated with a not-so-distant time in the life of Duke, Durham, and the surrounding region.

Intimidation and threats of violence against any group are anathema in both university contexts and in society at large. We condemn the cross-burnings that have disgraced our community -- and we renew our commitment to liberty and justice for all.
In June 2005 I was very glad the Academic Council made its cross burning statement as were fair-minded alums and Durhamites who learned of it.

Since May 18, 2006 I’ve been very troubled by the faculty’s silence regarding the threats made to Seligmann.

Why has there been no faculty statement that intimidation and threats of violence against Reade Seligmann or any other peaceful citizen are anathema in both university contexts and in society at large?

I don’t believe the intimidation and threats Seligmann, his parents and Kirk Osborn were subjected to last May 18 by two small groups of hate-filled people disgraced either Duke or Durham. But the wall of silence the University and the City have collectively thrown up since May 18 certainly has.

That wall of silence needs to fall.

I’m told that as Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences you are the proper administrator to place the matter of a faculty response to the events of May 18 before the A&S faculty for consideration of a request to the Academic Council.

That request would, I hope, ask the Academic Council to issue on behalf of the Duke faculty a statement as clear and strong in its condemnation of the threats made to Seligmann as was its June 2005 condemnation of the cross burnings.

I look forward to your response, which I’ll publish in full at my blog.

Thank you for your attention to this letter.


John in Carolina



John in Carolina -

I understood that the forwarding of the message to me was for my information and expected to hear something further if you intended to follow up with me. During the four years that I have been on the Executive Committee of the Council, it has not been my practice to participate in official or institutional condemnations. I recognize that you found such an instance from a time when I was not on the Council. The person who you want to contact is Paula McClain. My last day in office is Saturday and I am in Germany teaching at the moment. Professor McClain is my successor. Her term begins on Monday.

Paul H. Haagen
Professor of Law
Duke University School of Law
Science Drive and Towerview Road
Box 90360
Durham, North Carolina 27708-0360
tel. 919-613-7088
fax 919-668-0996



I plan in the next week or so to follow-up on Haagen's suggestion and contact Professor Paula McClain. I'll include in my letter much of what you’ve read here.

I'll ask McClain to put my letter and the matter of a statement by the Academic Council before the Council for its consideration. I'll also ask her if she can conveniently provide a list of the Council members so I can contact them directly.

Concerning Haagen, I plan to write him in a few days. When law school professors remained silent during the Civil Rights Movement when students engaged in peaceful activities were threatened, it didn't go down well with me. And neither does Haagen's silence last May 18 and since regarding the threats directed against Seligmann.

I'll post copies of my letters to McLain and Haagen as well as any responses I may receive from them.

I'm sending Haagen a link to this post.

In a few minutes I'm taking the comments from the thread of "INNOCENT:To Prof. Haagen re: Seligmann threats" and posting them as a separate post: "INNOCENT: Duke's Haagen & Seligmann comments."

Those thread comments all concern how to change Duke from a place where the students on the lacrosse team were treated as they were and the University was silent on May 18 and since to a place where those kinds of things no longer happen and Duke's President doesn't keep telling us "the facts kept changing" and now we all need to "move on."

I hope many of you add your thoughts and suggestions to the thread of that post.

There need to be many changes made at Duke.

INNOCENT: Mystery Writer on “Nifong’s Follies”

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

Many of you know Roger L. Simon through his wonderful PI Moses Wine mystery books. Others may recognize him as the screen writer for such films as Lies and Whispers and Scenes From a Mall, which starred Woody Alan.

Simon also blogs and on January 12, 2007, right after then DA Mike Nifong recused himself from the case, Simon posted “Nifong’s Follies.” Here it is in full:

What interests me in the strange case of Mike Nifong - the DA in the Duke Lacrosse Team alleged rape case (very alleged at this point) - is why a reasonably intelligent person, as I assume him to be, would come to make such a long and ultimately self-destructive fool of himself. He is now apparently and at long last trying to beat a retreat through a recusal.

Much of the talk I have read centers on the DA's election needs - and no doubt this factors in.

But his behavior, evidently hiding exculpatory DNA evidence from the defense, seems so neurotic it makes you think there were deeper and more complex forces at work.

Nifong also appears to be one of those given to the simplistic view that minority members are always right when confronting the scions of the evil majority. Or, more precisely, perhaps he was relying on that concept as zeitgeist for which he received great support from the Duke faculty that made similar assumptions- a kind of cultural relativist justice in which the same laws should not apply to the disadvantaged.

Of course at base this is racist - but not in the way Mr. Nifong thinks. Quite the reverse. This is yet another example of one of the hallmarks of our era - bourgeois liberalism become ultra-reactionary in its actions.

Nifong's big mistake is that he took that zeitgeist a few steps too far. He should have known better.
You can visit Simon’s eponymous blog here. He’s always worth reading.

I like especially Simon’s independent thinking: how many folks working in Hollywood would have written the post you’ve just read?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Churchill Series – July 5, 2007

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

Something different today: a post built on responses to reader comments.

One person who comments often noted the few comments the series draws, and said he wonders sometimes whether I was doing the series just for him.

I think the best answer I can give is no but …

No, in that I think there are many who read the series but for a variety of reasons feel no need to comment. For example, they simply like the posts and perhaps once a year say “Nice job, John.” Or perhaps they never say it. They’re under no obligation to do so.

Sometimes when people comment on the series, it’s often not on a series thread but on the tail of comment regarding another post: “And something else. I enjoy the Churchill series.”

Pundit Michael Barone once commented he liked JinC because its “a reliable and serious blog.” He added: “I like the Churchill series, too”

But the first commenter is right in so far as many people (it’s impossible to get an exact number) who visit the site avoid the series posts for one reasons or another. On the other hand, there are some who come to JinC only for the series.

Go figure.

Tomorrow I’ll say a bit more about why I think there are a good number of people out there reading the series. My reasons include the historical knowledge and technical expertise commenters reveal. I’ll start with Insufficiently Sensitive’s recent comments about Churchill's physical risk-taking and an Anon’s recent comment about a hand-held Mauser pistol which Churchill used at Omdurman being adaptable to a shoulder fired weapon when a wooden butt was added.

I hope you are back tomorrow for part 2.

Did you hair about Edwards?

The Washington Post seems intent on cutting up Democratic presidential nominee candidate John Edwards of North Carolina. We read in the July 5 WaPo:

For four decades, Joseph Torrenueva has cut the hair of Hollywood celebrities, from Marlon Brando to Bob Barker, so when a friend told him in 2003 that a presidential candidate needed grooming advice, he agreed to help.

The Beverly Hills hairstylist, a Democrat, said he hit it off with then-Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina at a meeting in Los Angeles that brought several fashion experts together to advise the candidate on his appearance. Since then, Torrenueva has cut Edwards's hair at least 16 times.

At first, the haircuts were free.
This kind of story often starts that way. But because:
Torrenueva often had to fly somewhere on the campaign trail to meet his client, he began charging $300 to $500 for each cut, plus the cost of airfare and hotels when he had to travel outside California.

Torrenueva said one haircut during the 2004 presidential race cost $1,250 because he traveled to Atlanta and lost two days of work.
We can all understand that. There are, after all, the two America’s: the one where most people by $30 or less for a cut, and the one where $1,250 is what John Edwards pays for his cuts.

But look at what he gets for it:
"He has nice hair," the stylist said of Edwards in an interview. "I try to make the man handsome, strong, more mature and these are the things, as an expert, that's what we do."
Gee, if someone could make me handsome, strong and more mature for just $1,250, that would be a great bargain. My wife would have her credit card out.

But the WaPo reminds us that this is really all serious stuff:
It is some kind of commentary on the state of American politics that as Edwards has campaigned for president, vice president and now president again, his hair seems to have attracted as much attention as, say, his position on health care.

But when his campaign reported in April that it had paid for two of his haircuts at $400 each, the political damage was immediate. With each punch line on late night TV his image as a self-styled populist making poverty his signature issue was further eroded.

Edwards said that he was embarrassed by the cost and that he "didn't know it would be that expensive," suggesting the haircuts were some kind of aberration given by "that guy" his staff had arranged. His wife, Elizabeth, made lots of jokes at her husband's expense and the campaign wished the whole issue would go away.

But Torrenueva's account of his long relationship with Edwards -- the first he's given -- probably guarantees that won't happen quite yet. And if $400 seemed a lot for a haircut, how about one for three times that?
There’s much more to the story before it ends with an account of the first meeting of Torrenueva and the man who wants to be the next President of the United States:
The stylist said he has a vivid memory of the first time he met Edwards, in 2003.

"My friend called me and said, 'Do you know who John Edwards is?' and I said yes, I had heard of him. My friend said he is going to be running for president, but his hair doesn't look right. I don't know what it is and I think you will know what to do."

Torrenueva agreed to meet Edwards at the Century Plaza hotel in Los Angeles along with several fashion experts.

"There was a woman, an award-winning clothes designer -- I think she works in film and onstage, too. She was there with her swatches with materials for colors of suits, ties and what we were doing there was discussing his look. I was there for hair.

"What I did was, there was too much hair on top, always falling down, and it made him look too youthful. I took the top down and balanced everything out. He couldn't see it. But then we went into the bathroom. He looked in the mirror and said, 'I love this,' and that was it."
Well, folks, what do you say we cut this post short and part.

You can read the entire WaPo story hair.

INNOCENT: Brodhead didn't even whisper

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

Last spring when the Duke students who played on the Men’s lacrosse team came under fire by much of the media and many at Duke after which three were picked by the disgraced Mike Nifong for indictment and trial, Duke President Richard Brodhead acted in ways that even many of his defenders say were inept, and his critics say were shameful.

Brodhead excuses himself for what he did and didn’t do by telling people it was a “confusing time” in which“[t]he facts kept changing. Every day we learned new things that no one knew the day before.”

Well, last April 19, the day after Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann were arrested, hand-cuffed and taken to the county jail, and nine months before Brodhead could ever bring himself to say anything critical of the disgraced Nifong, well-known defense attorney Roy Black wasn’t confused.

USA Today columnist Jon Saraceno reported:

Black told me Tuesday that the prosecution of the Duke players is "beyond difficult." An attorney for one of the accused told reporters his client wasn't even at the party at the time of the alleged rape.

"It almost reaches the level of absurdity," Black said. "I think it's driven more by local politics, race and class. How often do you see prosecutors give 30 press conferences before charges are filed?

Based upon what we know, the lack of physical evidence (beyond a hospital exam that cited injury consistent with rape), corroboration and conclusive DNA argue against a strong case here.

What you have here is her word, one certainly subject to serious credibility questions."
Now why couldn’t Brodhead have figured that out and at least have whispered it in the ears of people like Durham Herald Sun editor Bob Ashley, Duke Professor Peter Wood and Raleigh News & Observer columnist Ruth Sheehan?

Durham Mayor’s Bank Problems

On the front-page of the July 4 Raleigh News & Observer we read:

A bank whose board chairman is Durham Mayor Bill Bell has agreed to overhaul its operations after running afoul of federal and state regulators.

Mutual Community Savings Bank has agreed to an order that, among other things, calls for it to stop operating with "inadequate management" and "in such a manner as to produce net operating losses."

The order does not mean the bank is shutting its doors. "We're still in business, and that is the bottom line," Bell said Tuesday.

Mutual was founded 86 years ago by African-American businessmen, providing a financial lifeline that helped to create a black middle class during the decades of Jim Crow. It also was one of the anchors of Durham's famed "Black Wall Street." In addition to the mayor, its board includes prominent citizens, including two pastors and the provost of N.C. Central University.

The bank has been under a regulatory cloud since it disclosed in May that it had received a proposed cease-and-desist order from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the N.C. Office of the Commissioner of Banks.

According to the order, which Mutual filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, regulators have "determined there is reason to believe the bank had engaged in unsafe or unsound practices and committed violations of law and regulations." Similar language is frequently used by the FDIC when it issues such an order.

Joe Smith, the state banking commissioner, and FDIC spokesman David Barr declined to identify the practices.

The order notes that Mutual Community has neither admitted nor denied any charges. The order calls for Mutual Community to stop:

* Operating with inadequate management.

* Operating with a board of directors that hasn't provided "adequate supervision."

* Operating with inadequate capital and reserves.

* Operating at a loss.

* Operating with inadequate information technology.

* Violating law, regulations, and policy as identified in an FDIC bank examiner's report which has not been made public. Such reports contain sensitive financial information and are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, said the FDIC's Barr.

Bell and the bank's CEO, William G. Smith, declined to comment on the alleged violations -- or any other specifics of the order. Efforts to reach other board members failed.

"We're working on a lot of different things to return the bank to profitability," Smith said.

Bell said that the board hasn't yet decided whether management will be overhauled.
Mutual recently disclosed, without explanation, that Albernard Bass Jr., the bank's senior vice president and chief operating officer, has resigned effective July 13. Bass couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.

Smith said Bass left to consider other opportunities and his departure was unrelated to the order. . . .

According to the order, the bank has to evaluate whether its senior executives are qualified "to perform present and anticipated duties." The bank also must make a plan to "recruit and hire any additional or replacement personnel" within 60 days.

Any executives hired by the bank would have to be approved by the FDIC's regional director, Mark Schmidt.

The bank also must adopt a plan to boost its capital, which can include selling stock, and improve its earnings. And it must submit quarterly progress reports to regulators and adopt an "educational program" for training board members.
We obviously don’t have very important information regarding what the bank’s been doing that led the FDIC and the NC Office of the Commissioner of Banking to take such unusual steps including citing the bank for “inadequate management” and "violating the law," and its board of directors for failing to provide “adequate supervision.” But these are extremely serious matters that I hope the N&O will continue to follow and report.

Bell has announced that he will seek reelection to a four year term this fall. He’s expected to have opposition, most likely from city councilman Thomas Stith. Right now Bell would be a heavy favorite in such a race.

According to a side bar that accompanies the article, one of the two pastors serving on the bank’s board of directors is Bishop Elroy Lewis, pastor of Fisher Memorial United Holy Church.

From the time the Duke Hoax first broke, Lewis has been active in support of what NC NAACP chair Rev. Dr. William Barber II has called his organization’s “monitoring of the Duke rape case."

The N&O side bar states Lewis received $4,250 in 2006 for his part in failing to provide “adequate supervision” of the bank. ( Well, the N&O didn’t really say it that way but you can bet that, in fact, is what actually happened. – JinC )

The NC Central University Provost serving on the bank board is Dr. Beverly Washington Jones. She’s a former member of the Durham Public Schools' board of education (an elective office in Durham) and well-connected with the politically powerful Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People. The N&O reports her board compensation in 2006 was $4,500.

Bell, as bank board chair, received $7,500 for his 2006 service.

You can read the entire N&O story here.

The Durham Herald Sun has so far said nothing about the Durham bank's problems and the FDIC and NC Office of the Commission of Banking’s actions.

Another day in Durham.

INNOCENT: A Great Duke Story at Johnsville

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

In case you haven’t yet heard about it, there’s a great Duke story over at The Johnsville News. (You may need to scroll down)

It’s headed “All-ACC Academic Men’s Lacrosse Team” and begins:

All four league schools competing in men's lacrosse are represented on the inaugural team with Duke placing a league-high 15 student-athletes on the list. ( bold by TJN but I would have bolded it too. Who wouldn’t? - JinC )
Who would have believed that after all the slander and libel those students endured; after they were abandoned by Duke’s Dick Brodhead, the University’s President; by Duke’s Trustees; by the administrators who comprise “Dick’s senior team;” by all but a handful of faculty while viciously attacked by many faculty; after being trashed in the media and realizing the Durham Police Department was repeatedly lying about and endangering them in response to which their University and its Police Department said nothing; and having good cause to fear for their physical safety; those 15 students never the less achieved academic distinction and played on a championship team?

What those 15 young men achieved is testimony to the best that youth can be.

For that they deserve not only our praise, but our gratitude.

TJN’s post lists the 15 players along with their majors.

TJN remains one of my “must visit daily” blogs.

Final words: Go Devils!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

America’s Finest

Readers Note: Some of you may recall Scott Pierce who blogged at Right in Raleigh before he moved with his family to New York. Scott was a fine blogger.

A friend of Scott’s, Mike Williams, just sent me the following and I want to share it with you. It’s a reminder of the outstanding men and women who serve in our armed forces.

Those men and women, their families, and veterans and their families have earned our deepest admiration and gratitude for the sacrifices they’ve made to protect our freedoms.


Army vet Scott C. Pierce has a [West Point] classmate in the 1st Cav who is currently serving in Iraq. Here is an excerpt from an email Scott shared with me recently:

Much has happened since the last update, life has become so very dynamic around here. I just returned to the job as MiTT Chief after spending three weeks as the Brigade Commander while he was on leave.

The temperatures are hitting highs of 117 degrees in these first days of summer. It’s been truly an exhausting and amazing time to see Soldiers perform magnificently under the harshest of conditions, yet motivated and serving freely in a foreign place as your ambassadors.

Soldiers are the reason that this has been easier to deal with at all levels. You all would continue to be so proud of all they do every day, with their patience, vigilance, compassion, resilience and toughness.

We also received word about a three month extension, and it will probably work out to around a 2 month extension give or take a week and a half. Nevertheless, under the current plan, I will get home before Christmas and my 20th wedding anniversary!

No matter what any newspaper says, the Troops are over it – don’t get me wrong, we all want to get home and it wasn’t like we were jumping for joy, but we found out far enough out that we have been able to adjust our expectations to a point that we are just focused on a new date and getting our job done safely.

In all this, we are focused on helping the Iraqi Brigade we are working with to get past where they are in their administrative and logistical systems, as well as how they plan for and conduct combat operations. It is a real challenge for all of us, but there are many rewarding times.

The Iraqi people here in Diyala Province are beginning to work with us to get rid of Al Qaeda, and it is making it easier to see a way ahead for them. There is much work to do – a long hard road ahead to really see some results, but the key thing is that we have started to see a true change in the will of the people here.

Obviously the entire country of Iraq is not showing the same hope every day, but here in Diyala, despite the horrific events that we have seen, we are moving ahead and making progress.

The last couple of weeks have been fairly hopeful, and I attribute, again, to a true change in the will of the people. It is starting to catch fire across the Province, and I can only hope that similar things are happening everywhere. Please keep this in your prayers as you think about us.

I experienced a very special meal recently called Pachar. It is the head of the sheep with the feet, boiled and served with rice. I know that sounds pretty weird and nasty, but it is a great delicacy and was considered an honor that they served it to us.

I had fun digging right into it and challenging everyone to be “culturally sensitive” and dig right in with me (ha ha ha). Needless to say, there were a couple brave souls who tried it, but the majority decided to eat some rice and bread and just act like they weren’t that hungry. And of course there were some of us playing with the eyes and tongues before eating up.

Different cultures for different people!

Later I reminded many of the folks how hot dogs and sausages are manufactured and that the Iraqis may have a real hard time if they saw that process.
Diyala, you may recall, is in the Baghdad belts and one of al Qaeda’s former safe havens. Warriors like Scott’s classmate are truly heirs of The Greatest Generation.

And speaking of The Greatest Generation, we recently lost one of its most decorated heroes. He was a WWII submarine skipper who “sunk” a Japanese train, in addition to an aircraft carrier and assorted other ships. If you get a chance follow this link, and hoist the adult beverage of your choice to him and to Scott’s classmate as we celebrate our independence and our freedoms.

The Churchill Series - July 4, 2007

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

Readers Note: A few days ago I promised to follow-up on the question of whether Churchill was something of a needless, even reckless, risk-taker. I'll do that tomorrow in a post in which I'll respond to a reader's comment.

Today, I want to repost major portions of a post concerning America's grant of honorary citizenship to Churchill. And I want to wish each of you a very happy Fourth of July.


On April 9, 1963 at a White House ceremony, President John F. Kennedy read a proclamation granting Churchill honorary American citizenship. Only one other person, the Marquis de Lafayette, had previously been so honored.

Age and ill health prevented Churchill from attending, but special arrangements were made for a live satellite broadcast direct to his home where he watched the ceremony.

Kennedy first read the proclamation a unanimous Congress had authorized. The president then spoke some words of his own. They were brief, graceful, and left no doubt Churchill deserved the honor he'd just been awarded.

Churchill's son, Randolph, then read a statement on his father's behalf. It too was brief and graceful. And it left no doubt that, even in the winter of his life, Churchill was strong for the things he had always valued and fought for.

Below, courtesy of The Churchill Centre, are the full texts of the citizenship proclamation, President Kennedy's remarks, and the new American citizen's response.


WHEREAS Sir Winston Churchill, a son of America though a subject of Britain, has been throughout his life a firm and steadfast friend of the American people and the American nation; and

WHEREAS he has freely offered his hand and his faith in days of adversity as well as triumph; and

WHEREAS his bravery, charity and valor, both in war and in peace, have been a flame of inspiration in freedom's darkest hour; and

WHEREAS his life has shown that no adversary can overcome, and no feat can deter, free men in the defense of their freedom; and

WHEREAS he has by his art as an historian and his judgment as a statesman made the past the servant of the future;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOHN F. KENNEDY, President of the United States of America, under the authority contained in an Act of the 88th Congress, do hereby declare Sir Winston Churchill an honorary citizen of the United States of America.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

DONE at the City of Washington this ninth day of April, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and eighty-seventh.


Remarks by President John F. Kennedy at
The White House, Washington D.C., April 9, 1963

We meet to honor a man whose honor requires no meeting -- for he is the most honored and honorable man to walk the stage of human history in the time in which we live.

Whenever and wherever tyranny threatened, he has always championed liberty.

Facing firmly toward the future, he has never forgotten the past.

Serving six monarchs of his native Great Britain, he has served all men's freedom and dignity.

In the dark days and darker nights when Britain stood alone -- and most men save Englishmen despaired of England's life -- he mobilized the English language and sent it into battle. The incandescent quality of his words illuminated the courage of his countrymen.

Given unlimited powers by his citizens, he was ever vigilant to protect their rights.

Indifferent himself to danger, he wept over the sorrows of others.

A child of the House of Commons, he became in time its father.

Accustomed to the hardships of battle, he has no distaste for pleasure.

Now his stately Ship of Life, having weathered the severest storms of a troubled century, is anchored in tranquil waters, proof that courage and faith and the zest for freedom are truly indestructible. The record of his triumphant passage will inspire free hearts for all time.

By adding his name to our rolls, we mean to honor him -- but his acceptance honors us far more. For no statement or proclamation can enrich his name -- the name Sir Winston Churchill is already legend.

Sir Winston's response
28 Hyde Park Gate, London, April 6, 1963

As read at the White House
by Randolph S. Churchill, April 9, 1963

Mr. President,

I have been informed by Mr. David Bruce that it is your intention to sign a Bill conferring upon me Honorary Citizenship of the United States.

I have received many kindnesses from the United States of America, but the honour which you now accord me is without parallel. I accept it with deep gratitude and affection.

I am also most sensible of the warm-hearted action of the individual States who accorded me the great compliment of their own honorary citizenships as a prelude to this Act of Congress.

It is a remarkable comment on our affairs that the former Prime Minister of a great sovereign state should thus be received as an honorary citizen of another. I say "great sovereign state" with design and emphasis, for I reject the view that Britain and the Commonwealth should now be relegated to a tame and minor role in the world. Our past is the key to our future, which I firmly trust and believe will be no less fertile and glorious. Let no man underrate our energies, our potentialities and our abiding power for good.

I am, as you know, half American by blood, and the story of my association with that mighty and benevolent nation goes back nearly ninety years to the day of my Father's marriage. In this century of storm and tragedy I contemplate with high satisfaction the constant factor of the interwoven and upward progress of our peoples. Our comradeship and our brotherhood in war were unexampled. We stood together, and because of that fact the free world now stands. Nor has our partnership any exclusive nature: the Atlantic community is a dream that can well be fulfilled to the detriment of none and to the enduring benefit and honour of the great democracies.

Mr. President, your action illuminates the theme of unity of the English-speaking peoples, to which I have devoted a large part of my life. I would ask you to accept yourself, and to convey to both Houses of Congress, and through them to the American people, my solemn and heartfelt thanks for this unique distinction, which will always be proudly remembered by my descendants.


INNOCENT: A Nifong & Brodhead Parody

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

Readers Note: Last August I parodied the then Durham DA and now disbarred and disgraced Mike Nifong and Duke's President, Richard ("The facts kept changing") Brodhead in a post titled: "Nifong, Churchill, Brodhead and me."

I thought on this holiday the post might provide you with a smile or two, so I'm reposting it.


Here's Durham DA Mike Nifong as quoted in the Mar. 29 Raleigh N&O:

"I would like to think that somebody who was not in the bathroom has the human decency to call up and say, 'What am I doing covering up for a bunch of hooligans?' " Nifong said.

"I'd like to be able to think that there were some people in that house that were not involved in this and were as horrified by it as the rest of us are."
This from the Presumption of Innocence article in Legal Encyclopedia, Thompson & Gale.
"In practice the presumption of innocence is animated by the requirement that the government prove the charges against the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt."
Here's Winston S. Churchill in a letter to the Times of London, July 8, 1902:
"[I]t is for the accuser to prove his charge, not for the defendant to prove his innocence.”
Here's Duke University President Richard H. Brodhead in his letter to the Friends of Duke University, July 25, 2006:
"We are eager for our students to be proved innocent."
And here I am today, Aug. 4, 2006:
"I would like to think that somebody on the Brodhead team who was not involved in drafting the letter has the human decency to call up and say, 'What am I doing covering up for a bunch that doesn’t understand the common law?'" John in Carolina said.

"I'd like to be able to think that there are at least some people in the Allen Building that were not involved in the letter, and are as horrified by the 'proved innocent' misconception as the rest of us are."

Ye Olde NY Times

Ye Olde NY Times

This time last year the New York Times had run a number of stories disclosing national security secrets. The Times used “the public needs to know” justification.

In response Scott Johnson at Powerline parodied the Times. I posted it last July 4 and it’s appropriate to post it again today.

So here’s the Ye Olde NY Times in early April, 1775

Some newspapers never change.

A Declaration of Independence Quiz

Who were the oldest and youngest signers of the Declaration of Independence? What states were they from? Why was Thomas Jefferson designated to write it? Which member of the Congress refused to sign the Declaration and why?

Ed Williams, editorial page editor of the Charlotte Observer, invites you to take a Declaration quiz.

It’s the kind of quiz we all wished for in school. Along with the questions, come the answers. Get you pencils ready. We’ll talk after the quiz.

Here's Williams:

Representatives of the 13 American colonies approved a document 231 years ago this Wednesday announcing the birth of a nation: the United States of America.

Test your knowledge about one of the most powerful documents ever written, the Declaration of Independence.

Q. When did the colonies break their ties to Britain?

In 1776, in a four-step process.

June 7: Richard Henry Lee, a Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, presented a resolution that read in part: "Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."

June 11: Congress postponed consideration of Lee's resolution and appointed a Committee of Five to draft a statement of the reasons for declaring independence: John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Robert Livingston of New York and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia.

July 2: Congress adopted the Lee Resolution and began considering the committee's declaration.

July 4: Congress approved the Declaration of Independence.

Q. Why was Jefferson the principal writer?

According to John Adams' account, Jefferson nominated Adams to write it. No, said Adams, it should be you: "Reason first, you are a Virginian, and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second, I am obnoxious, suspected, and unpopular. You are very much otherwise."

Q. Where did the ideas in the Declaration originate?

Jefferson maintained -- correctly -- that it contained nothing new in political thought. He was influenced by the 17th-century philosopher John Locke's ideas about liberty and the social contract and by the English Whig party's theories of government.

Q. Did the Declaration start the Revolutionary War?

No. The war had begun with the battles of Lexington and Concord, Mass., on April 19, 1775. By the summer of 1776 American patriots had taken control of every colony, expelled royal officials and created an army led by George Washington.

In August 1775, King George III declared his American subjects to be "engaged in open and avowed rebellion." An estimated 15 to 20 percent of colonists (called Tories) still supported the king.

Q. Five signers of the Declaration were taken prisoner by the British during the Revolution. What happened to them?

Four were captured while engaged in military actions against the British. They were treated as prisoners of war, not as traitors, and eventually released.

The other, Richard Stockton of New Jersey, was taken prisoner specifically because he had signed the Declaration. He was imprisoned in York City like a common criminal. He secured his release by recanting his signature and signing an oath of allegiance to George III.

Q. Who were the oldest and youngest of the 56 signers?

Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, 70, and Edward Rutledge of South Carolina, 26.

Q. What was Benjamin Franklin's remark after signing the declaration?

Noting that the signers were committing treason against King George, Franklin said, "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."

Q. Who was the only college president to sign the declaration?

John Witherspoon, a Presbyterian minister born in Scotland who was president of the College of New Jersey, later known as Princeton. (Among his descendants is Reese Witherspoon, the actress.)

Q. One member of Congress would not sign the Declaration. Who, and why?

John Dickinson of Pennsylvania. He was hoping for reconciliation with Britain.
He thought his abstention would end his public life, but he later was elected president (governor) of Delaware, then president of Pennsylvania. In 1787 he was a delegate the federal convention that adopted the U.S. Constitution and was one of the signers of that document.

Well, I got everything right. How about you?

I hope many of you email this post to friends. Also, that you print and share it at picnics and band concerts today.

And if your going to a fireworks display tonight, you know there’s always that time when your sitting waiting for it to get dark enough to start the display. Williams’ quiz would be an interesting “conversation piece” to share with those around you while you wait.

We have a great country. Thanks go to Ed Williams for reminding and informing us of some of its history as we celebrate this Fourth of July.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Churchill Series – July 3, 2007

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

This post comes with a “Caution” label. I’ve selected some “Churchill quotes” from a site, Brainy Quote, that seems reliable but doesn’t cite sources for the quotes.

I checked about 50 of the Churchill quotes there and, with one exception, they’re all quotes I recognize as Churchill’s words.

The one exception is that old, well-worn “I may be drunk but you’re ugly; and tomorrow I’ll be sober and you’ll still be ugly.”

I don’t know of Churchill ever having said it. It or something very close to it has been attributed to just about everyone except Gandhi and Mother Teresa.

Now the Churchill quotes:

"Eating words has never given me indigestion."

"I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught."

"Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential."

"Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things."

"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."

"Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery."

Folks, as many of you know, the socialism quote reflects beliefs Churchill held throughout his political life. He despised socialism for just the reasons stated in the quote.

Now I’m not sure I should end with the following quote on the eve of the Fourth of July, but here it is anyway - -

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."

INNOCENT: Ross Pipes Wasn’t “Confused”

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

Last spring the students who played on the Duke University’s men’s lacrosse team were trashed and endangered during a witch hunt generated first by the false and racially inflammatory reporting of the Raleigh News & Observer followed by other news organizations; and then by the false and racially inflammatory statements of Mike Nifong and Durham Police spokesperson David Addison.

During that time, Duke President Richard Brodhead acted in ways that even many of his defenders say were inept, and which many of his critics say were shameful.

Brodhead excuses himself for what he did and didn’t do by telling people it was a “confusing time” in which“[t]he facts kept changing. Every day we learned new things that no one knew the day before.”

Now we turn to Ross Pipes whose letter appeared in the N&O on Apr. 12 under the head “Presuming guilt.”

Now that the DNA results have been announced (news story, April 11), the lack of DNA evidence strongly suggests the Duke lacrosse players are innocent of the district attorney's charges and his continued public presumption of their guilt.

With the primary election three weeks from now, it appears to me that Mike Nifong is continuing his investigation to benefit his election campaign. I have decided to publicly presume Nifong's guilt in using this case to further his political ambitions and to vote against him in the primary.

Ross Pipes
Ross Pipes wasn’t confused, was he?

INNOCENT: At The N&O Race Matters

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

Many people, including some journalists, believe the Raleigh News & Observer’s editorial page and news reporting often show a racial bias that favors blacks over whites. They want the N&O to adopt a policy that favors neither race.

Those who criticize the N&O for racial favoritism note that when reporting crime stories the N&O often fails to include police descriptions of the suspect(s) or anything about the suspect(s) background.

At the N&O’s Editors’ Blog one of the paper’s deputy managing editors for news, Linda Williams, has just offered the N&O’s “explanation” for why that’s so. I responded to Williams on the thread of her post: “Suspect descriptions.”

Below is the key portion of Williams’ “explanation,” followed by my response.

Editor Williams told readers:

In recent days, local police departments have distributed "descriptions" of crime suspects that were not included in our reports on the crimes. Each assigned a racial label to the suspect, but were (sic) sketchy in details of the physical description.

Numerous readers have criticized the News & Observer for our policy against printing such descriptions. The policy is in place because such "descriptions" fail the tests of accuracy, completeness, usefulness, relevance and fairness.[. . .]
Dear Editor Williams:

You talk about police “descriptions” that “fail [the N&O’s] tests of accuracy, completeness, usefulness, relevance and fairness.”

Since when does the N&O use such tests?

Does the N&O really have a “policy against printing” the race of suspects based on “physical descriptions” that are “sketchy in details.”

Last March the N&O reported on a case involving 46 young men the police had named as suspects after a woman the N&O said was “the victim” reported she was brutally beaten, strangled, robbed and gang-raped by three men at a party the police and the N&O knew some of the 46 man hadn’t even attended.

In that case the Durham police didn’t even offer “sketchy in details” physical descriptions. The only physical descriptions the police provided for any of the 46 men was their race.

With the suspects’ race as the only physical descriptor the N&O had from the police; and without addressing for your readers the question of why the accusing woman and/or police were not providing at least “sketchy” descriptions of the three men alleged to have attacked “the victim,” the N&O reported on March 25, 2006 in a front-page story the race of all 46 men.

You then did criminal background checks on the men and the accuser.

On March 28 the N&O published on it front-page a story by reporter Benjamin Niolet detailing criminal charges against 15 of the man for such offenses as underage drinking and public urination: “15 players had prior charges” ($ req.)

But the N&O suppressed until April 7 any mention of the accuser’s far more serious criminal background that included stealing a car and assaulting a law enforcement officer.

When the N&O finally reported on “the victims’” criminal background in a story by reporter Samiha Khanna, it wasn’t on the N&O’s front-page.

The N&O buried its first mention of Crystal Mangum’s criminal record in the last three paragraphs of a page A14 story about the Durham City Manager’s explanation for the delay in searching the house where the alleged crimes took place: “Manager: Scanty info delayed search.” ($ req.)

Now, Editor Williams, I’m sure you’re thinking what everyone else reading this is thinking: “But in the case you’re talking about, JinC, the young men were all white males and Crystal Mangum is an African-American.”

You’re right. And that’s my point.

At the Raleigh News & Observer race matters.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Churchill Series – July 2, 2007

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

Churchill’s biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, writes:

On the night of March 19 [,1941] Churchill gave dinner at Downing Street to [two aides of President Roosevelt, Averell] Harriman and [Anthony] Biddle. While they were dining, there was a heavy air raid on London, whereupon [Churchill took his guests to the roof of the Air Ministry to watch the raid.] . . .

[One of Churchill’s Private Secretaries, Eric] Seal, who was present tht evening, wrote home to his wife of how, while the “pretty bad Blitz” was stil in progress, “the PM insisted on taking two Americans …..onto the roof, & a fantastic climb it was – up ladders, a long circular stairway, & a tiny manhole right at the top of a tower. No bombs fell whist we were up – although fire engines were continually passing, & the guns were firing all the time, with planes droning overhead.”
Seal later remarked that the Americans felt they were “at last in the war.” Who would doubt that?

Churchill taking his guests and aides onto the Air Ministry roof during the raid was, IMO, foolhardy.

On the other hand there are those, including his principal bodyguard during the war, Scotland Yard Inspector Walter Thompson, who say Churchill took such risks because he felt he needed to set an example of sharing in the dangers Londoners were facing during the Blitz.

Perhaps there were elements of both foolhardiness and brave exemplar in Churchill’s actions that night. What do you think?
Martin Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill: Finest Hour, 1939-1941 (Houghton Mifflin) (pgs. 1038-1039)

INNOCENT: Changing Nifonged

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

According to the Urban dictionary Nifonged describes the railroading or harming of a person with no justifiable cause, except for one's own gain. It is someone being taken advantage of unfairly by someone without scruples or morals.

The dictionary gives as examples of usage: Being Nifonged, Getting Nifonged, Nifonged

We’re hearing Nifonged used by defense attorneys who feel their clients are being railroaded. A popular columnist recently suggested “a new reality show championing the cause of folks who’ve been trampled by such soulless narcissists. The show could be called, ‘Help! I’m being Nifonged!’”

I want the meaning of Nifonged to change. It will say something very good about our society if Nifonged comes to mean the disgrace and punishment of those who use police and prosecutorial power to railroad or harm people with no justifiable cause, except their own gain.

At we read some of what I have in mind to change the meaning of Nifonged:

Mike Nifong today submitted his resignation as Durham district attorney effective immediately, just as a judge was scheduled to consider removing him. . . .

Nifong still faces criminal contempt of court charges for his handling of charges against three former Duke University lacrosse players.

A disciplinary panel of the State Bar last month disbarred Nifong . . .
I’d love to turn on the TV some day in the not too distance future and hear:
“The already Nifonged Nifong is expected to be Nifonged again tomorrow when he faces a federal judge at his sentencing hearing.”
We need to get to a time when innocent people don’t have to worry about being Nifonged, and prosecutors and police are careful not to do anything that could get themselves Nifonged.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Durham H-S Hypocrisy on Coulter

I’m no fan of Ann Coulter. She’s often needlessly offensive, even vicious.

Coulter’s remarks about those she disagrees with are frequently as venomous as some of the things current DNC chair Howard Dean and Sen. Teddy Kennedy have said.

Dean in an ’04 Democratic presidential nominee candidates' debate called President Bush “the enemy.”

And at the time of Abu Ghraib Kennedy slimed America and our military by announcing on the floor of the U. S. Senate:

"Shamefully, we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management: U.S. management."
No doubt those fighting our troops in Iraq and the folks found Kennedy’s words an aid and a comfort.

I don’t read Coulter’s column. If I never see Coulter on TV or see one of her books on a shelf: fine.

But the deserved bashing she’s getting now from much of MSM reeks of hypocrisy.

We see an example of that in the Durham Herald Sun’s Weekend Editorial that includes:
By now, most folks tuned into presidential politics know that Ann Coulter, the abrasive, loud-mouthed conservative columnist and author, doesn't like presidential candidate John Edwards.

In March, during a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Coulter used a gay slur to refer to Edwards.

Having had a good Southern upbringing, (if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all), Edwards didn't fire back at Coulter's gay slur and used it to raise money for his presidential campaign.

The opportunity to cash in on Coulter's big mouth presented itself again this week when Coulter clearly crossed the line while appearing on Chris Matthews' show, "Hardball." Her venom-filled comment about Edwards probably made Rush Limbaugh blush. Well, maybe not.

"If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot," Coulter said in response to a question about the gay slur in March.

The comment was just too much for Elizabeth Edwards, who called into the show to let Coulter know that she didn't appreciate Coulter wishing death on her husband.

"It debases the political dialogue," Elizabeth Edwards said. "It drives people away from the process. We can't have a debate about issues if you're using this kind of language."

John Edwards also found his voice on Wednesday: "When these hatemongers, with their hate language, continue to speak out, we are not going to sit by quietly anymore," he said.

Some political pundits speculated that Coulter's remarks were a riff on a similar comment made by HBO's Bill Maher in March. Maher said "people wouldn't be dying needlessly" if Vice President Dick Cheney had been killed in an insurgent attack in Afghanistan.

Coulter and Maher's remarks are equally distasteful, and have no place in the nation's political discourse. …
Coulter and Maher’s remarks equally distasteful? I agree.

So why didn’t the H-S editorialize when Maher made his widely quoted and disgusting remarks targeting America’s Vice President?

The H-S is right when it says Coulter is “an abrasive, loud-mouth conservative columnist and author.” And Al Franken is an abrasive, loud-mouth liberal author and talk show host.

But how many times has the H-S referred to Franken or liberals like him as abrasive and loud-mouthed?

And has the H-S ever taken to task those who call the President of the United States “Hitler?”

What the H-S gave readers with its Coulter editorial is one more example of the double standard that’s so common at MSM news organizations.

Here's the URL for the H-S editorial:

INNOCENT: DPD’s Real Shelton Problems (Updated)

READERS’ ALERT: The post below has been updated because of what I learned thanks to an Anon commenter who alerted me to information I wasn’t aware of when I posted.

If you go to the post thread, you’ll see that the first commenter, Anon @ 5:26, alerts me to the information.

Reading down the thread you’ll see where Anon @ 5:26 and I back-and-forth. That back-and-forth includes one instance in which I miss something important and Anon helps me find it.

Bottom lines:

The post as updated now says parenthetically that Sgt. Shelton did indeed do what I speculated he did: ID on 3/14 Kim Roberts as “the first 911 caller.”

Also parenthetically, I provide what I’ve learned is the “public” explanation for the erasures of the police radio communications of the night of Mar. 13/14 when Shelton would have been reporting to his supervisor what he had learned from Roberts.

Please read the thread, note the parenthetical updates and know I’m also deeply appreciative of Anon’s informed and generous help which added to my knowledge and helped make the post more informative.


"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

In today’s Raleigh News & Observer reporter Joseph (Joe) Neff has a story which begins:

When the Durham City Council's commission meets to review how police handled the Duke lacrosse case, the commission will have a lot to chew on -- particularly if members read the N.C. State Bar's files.
Further into Neff’s story he raises the question of whether testimony contained in the Bar’s files indicates DPD “was punishing or ostracizing” Sgt. John Shelton.

Let’s look at what Neff says about that matter and then I’ll offer some commentary. Neff reports :
But one of the most intriguing questions is whether the police department was punishing or ostracizing the one officer who, from the beginning, concluded that Crystal Gail Mangum was lying when she accused the three players of gang rape.

Alex Charns, a Durham lawyer who has successfully sued the Durham police several times, said the police have a history of using internal affairs investigations to silence internal critics or naysayers.

"In the past, internal affairs has been used to punish officers who displease those up the chain of command," Charns said.

Durham Police Chief Steve Chalmers declined to be interviewed, as did every other police official contacted.

On March 14, 2006, Sgt. John Shelton was the first officer to come into contact with Mangum, an escort service dancer and student.

Shelton was skeptical of Mangum's behavior when he first encountered her passed out in the passenger seat of a car at the Kroger supermarket on Hillsborough Road, records show.

Shelton got no response when he talked loudly to her; when he put ammonia smelling salts under her nose, she began breathing through her mouth, which Shelton deemed a sign that she was conscious. As Shelton put pressure on her wrist to goad her out of the car, Mangum grabbed the parking brake, struggling to stay inside. Once out, she collapsed on the parking lot.

Later, at the Duke Hospital emergency room, Mangum gave differing accounts of whether she was raped. After talking with her in the Duke Hospital emergency room, Shelton loudly announced, "I think she is lying."

Shelton apparently has held on to that opinion, which made him unpopular with his fellow officers and Nifong.

In testimony to the State Bar, Investigator Benjamin Himan testified that he spoke with Shelton about the case several times: "Basically, he just characterized it as that she was lying. In my opinion, I didn't think that he had handled it professionally."

In his deposition to the bar, Nifong derided Shelton's handling of the case, though the prosecutor said he had never read Shelton's report of the incident: "Officer Shelton did not seem to appreciate that this was a very serious situation at the time that he responded to the Kroger parking lot."

According to Linwood Wilson, Nifong's investigator, the police department thought Shelton's comments were inappropriate. Wilson said Capt. Jeff Lamb asked him to investigate the remarks.

"The police asked that I do that and keep Himan out of it because he had to work with those guys," Wilson said. "Obviously, it led to an internal investigation at the police department, and Himan would probably be, you know, a witness in that. So ... [Lamb] felt like it would be better for me to interview those people, so I did."

It would be highly irregular for a police captain to turn to someone outside the department to assist in an internal affairs investigation.

Lamb did not return calls. City Manager Patrick Baker said he did not know whether an internal investigation took place.

Wilson declined to be interviewed. His lawyer, Fred Battaglia, said he does not know the status of the internal investigation.

Bill Thomas, a Durham lawyer who represented a lacrosse captain not charged in the case, said he didn't believe Lamb would ask an outsider to investigate his officers, and certainly not for concluding that a witness was lying.

"Throughout history, police officers have called witnesses liars when they don't believe them," Thomas said. "Rather, it appears to be a transparent attempt to discredit this officer first on the scene and in the best position to evaluate her credibility." . . .
Attorney Bill Thomas is right about Nifong and some in DPD wanting to discredit Shelton.

But that tactic is going to backfire on Nifong just as it will on all those involved in the frame-up and on-going attempts to cover it up.

The real problem Shelton presents to them is not his stated disbelief of Mangum, but his actions the night of March 13/14 which provide critically important and irrefutable evidence that a brutal beating and gang-rape NEVER TOOK PLACE.

Shelton and his backup, Officer Willie Barfield, who arrived in the Kroger parking lot shortly after Shelton both know about the kinds of horrific physical injuries a woman suffers when she’s brutally beaten and raped by even one strong young man, to say nothing of being brutally beaten and raped by three strong young men for thirty minutes.

But Mangum had suffered no such injuries. She hadn’t even suffered slight injuries. A subsequent physical exam by Dr. Julie Manly at Duke Hospital confirmed that.

Had Shelton seen any signs of injuries when he first came upon Mangum “passed out drunk,” he would have arranged for her to be taken immediately to Duke Hospital, which is less than a mile from the Kroger parking lot.

Because there were no physical injuries, Shelton arranged for Officer Barfield to take Mangum to Durham Access, which provides short-term domicile and “support services” for substance abusers. Barfield only later took Mangum from Durham Access to Duke Hospital after she said at Access she’d been raped.

From the moment Nifong and those helping him learned what Shelton and Barfield had done, they knew what any police officer, any veteran prosecutor, any emergency room physician and any sensible citizen would know: absent serious physical injuries, Mangum was not the victim of a brutal thirty minute beating and gang-rape by three strong, young men.

I feel certain Shelton did other things the night of March 13/14 that are real problems for Nifong and his DPD helpers as they seek to avoid responsibility for what they did.

Shelton certainly ID’ed Kim Roberts ( Per readers' alart above, Shelton's notes, posted at The Johnsville News reveal Shelton did indeed ID Roberts as the caller - - JinC ). With the lap top in his cruiser, he would have checked her background and would very likely have learned there was an outstanding warrant out on her for probation violation.

He would have asked her where she and her friend had been and how her friend got so she "passed out drunk."

Roberts almost certainly told Shelton she and her friend were strippers at a party at 610 N Buchanan Blvd. She’d have no reason to lie about that. What she did is not illegal. And a woman in her position doesn’t want to lie to a veteran police officer if she doesn’t have to.

Shelton knew something about the party. He was one of two officers who responded to the “first 911 call” in which a woman complained that as she and a friend were passing the Buchanan Blvd house they were subjected to racial slurs as people were leaving the house and others were sitting across the street on the wall of Duke’s East Campus.

When shortly before 1 AM Shelton and another officer arrived at the house in response to the 911 call, they found it deserted.

It was about 30 minutes later that Shelton entered the Kroger parking lot and began interviewing Roberts.

You all see where I’m going. I think it’s very likely Shelton learned on March 14 Roberts was “the first 911 caller.”

Shelton would have reported everything he learned about Roberts over his police radio to his supervisor. That’s standard procedure. The transmissions between Shelton and his supervisor were recorded. That’s standard procedure.

Later all DPD radio transmissions for the time period during which Shelton reported what he had learned were erased. The public was told the erasure was “an accident” that DPD couldn’t explain but was looking into. ( Per readers' alart above, there is another explanation for the erasure which you can read about here. -- JinC )

When I heard about the erasures, I thought of the expression: accidentally on purpose.

In any case, when Shelton gets to testify about what he and Kim discussed in the Kroger parking lot, I predict what he says will be a real problem for Nifong and his helpers.

Neff’s entire story is here.

KC Johnson has posted on Neff's article.

I want to express appreciation and admiration to and The Johnsville News for the tremdous work they've done posting Hoax documents, putting together timelines, etc. That work is an invaluable resource to anyone seeking to understand and write about the Hoax. And they do that work in addition to their many outstanding posts and first-rate commentary.

Previous JinC posts concerning Sgt. John Shelton:

Duke lacrosse: The N&O finally tells about Gottlieb. So why now? (Sept. 10, 2006)

Easy DPD questions; some tough ones,too (Feb. 2, 2007)

Addison Series # 1 - "This horrific crime" (Feb. 16, 2007)

INNOCENT: Councilman Questions DPD Actions (Jun. 1, 2007)

DPD's Sgt. Shelton & Cpl. Addison (Jun. 3, 2007)

INNOCENT: Nifong's "f" & Sgt. Shelton (Jun. 26, 2007)