Saturday, September 01, 2007

Newweek on “Until Proven Innocent”

Newsweek online has just posted under National News:

A Rush to Judgment

'Until Proven Innocent' is harshly critical of the city and campus response to the Duke University rape case.
The article with Evan Thomas’s byline begins:
On march 28, 2006, the four co-captains of the Duke lacrosse team accused of gang-raping an exotic dancer met with university president Richard Brodhead. One of the captains, David Evans, emotionally protested that the team was innocent and apologized for the misbegotten stripper party. "

Brodhead's eyes filled with tears," write Stuart Taylor Jr. and KC Johnson in their new book on the case, "Until Proven Innocent" (420 pages. Thomas Dunne Books. $26.95). Brodhead "said that the captains should think of how difficult it had been for him." The misbehavior of the players, said Duke's president, "had put him in a terrible position."

Listening to Brodhead, Robert Ekstrand, a lawyer representing the captains and many of their teammates, "felt his blood starting to boil," write Taylor and Johnson. "Here, he thought, is a comfortable university president wallowing in self-pity in front of four students who are in grave danger of being falsely indicted on charges of gang rape, punishable by decades in prison."

It is possible to feel sympathy for Brodhead (who in an interview with Taylor denied he was tearful or self-pitying at the meeting). The president of a modern, elite university must be careful not to cross his politically correct faculty. Brodhead had already lost face with some professors (who dislike the admissions break given to athletes) by appearing to kowtow before Duke's iconic basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski, to stop him from jumping to the pros.

Brodhead had to worry about potential riots if he were seen as an apologist for the lacrosse players. They were white and the alleged victim was black; Duke is seen as a bastion of white privilege in its racially mixed hometown of Durham, N.C.

Still, as unforgivingly portrayed in "Until Proven Innocent," Brodhead appears weak-kneed. In their vivid, at times chilling account, the authors are contemptuous of prosecutor Mike Nifong, whom the North Carolina legal establishment disbarred for his by now well-documented misconduct. (Nifong's lawyer, David Freedman, says "there are a number of people who testified at the state bar proceeding that [Nifong] was a very caring career prosecutor.")

But their most biting scorn is aimed at the "academic McCarthyism" that they say has infected top-rated American universities like Duke. […]

By and large, the press did not let the facts get in the way of a good race-class-sex- violence morality play. Thanks in part to the reporting and guidance of Taylor, a NEWSWEEK contributing editor, NEWSWEEK was the first major publication to pick apart the prosecution's case, in an article on June 29, 2006.

But the magazine also put mug shots of two of the wrongly charged players on its cover on May 1 and, in the cover story I wrote, clucked at doting parents who do not want to see that their sons could turn into "thugs." Taylor and Johnson show that the players were crude and drank too much, but that they had no prior record of racism or sexual violence.

The authors make the Duke faculty look at once ridiculous and craven. […]

The only group that shows any common sense in "Until Proven Innocent" is the student body. Aside from a few noisy activists who assumed the players were guilty, Duke undergrads mostly overlooked the political correctness of their professors.
Thomas's entire article is here.

I’ll say more about it tomorrow.

Are Alums Just For Money?

At Scott Mirengoff posts concerning a Dartmouth alum who wanted to give his Alma Mater more than just money:

In 2004 Cypress Semiconductor chief executive officer T.J. Rodgers waged a successful insurgent campaign -- the first in 24 years -- for election to the Dartmouth board against three candidates selected by the alumni council nominating committee.

Rodgers leans libertarian and shuns characterization on the left-right divide; he says he was motivated to run by "the degradation of freedom of speech and the freedom of assembly . . . at [Dartmouth] today."
It turned out there are other Dartmouth alums who want to give the school more than money. Some followed Rodgers's example and ran as insurgent board candidates while tens of thousands of others supported them:
Rodgers's election to the Dartmouth board has been followed by the election of petition trustees Peter Robinson, Todd Zywicki, and Stephen Smith as well as the resounding rejection of the proposed new alumni constitution that would have changed election procedures.

The powers-that-be at Dartmouth are not pleased with the outcome of these elections and apparently mean to do something about it the old-fashioned way.

In today's Wall Street Journal, Joseph Rago interviews Rodgers regarding his experience on the board. Rodgers anticipates an unhappy outcome to the governance committee review of election procedures that will be presented to the board next month.
The rest of Mirengoff's post is here. It includes links to the WSJ article and one Mirengoff wrote for Weekly Standard.

Colleges and universities open wide the doors of their development offices to welcome all who wish to contribute by cash, check or money order. Credit cards, too.

But go over to the administration building and tell them you’d like to give some time checking out what the trustees have been doing and …. (you know the rest of it).

Question: Why do so many intelligent, accomplished people give so generously – sometimes even the bulk of their estates – to colleges and universities which aren’t really accountable to them; and don’t wish to be?

Responding to commenters - Sept. 1, 2007


I've just finished responding to all comments made on post threads beginning on August 28.

Tomorrow I'll work further back and respond to more comments.


Friday, August 31, 2007

The Churchill Series – Aug. 31, 2007

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

The last two series posts dealt with two questions: 1) Did Churchill have an American Indian ancestor on his mother’s side; something that, during Churchill’s lifetime, was openly talked about by many and which possibility Churchill was aware of; and 2) What were Churchill’s feelings about the question? The posts are here and here.

On the first question, as so often in genealogical study, there is dispute. I provided citations from two respected sources, one for and the other against the American Indian claim.

And that’s about what I can do on the question. I've no knowledge of my own to contribute.

Now, as to how Churchill felt about the question, he came down on the side of the “fors.” Churchill Centre Associate Elizabeth Snell has said: "Sir Winston, to whose romantic nature the story appealed, was known to believe it, as did some members of his family."

And in Chruchill and America (Free Press, 2003) Martin Gilbert reports, citing a letter he received from one of Churchill's physicians:

In 1960, five years before his death, Churchill told one of his doctors: " ... you may not know it, but I am descended from a Seneca Indian squaw who was an ancestor of my mother." (p.3)[...]
Well, there you are.

I hope you all have a very nice weekend. I plan to take Labor Day off from the series, but I'll be back on Tuesday. I hope you are too.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Churchill Series – Aug. 30, 2007

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

Yesterday's post dealt with questions of whether Churchill ancestors included an American Indian on his mother, Jennie Jerome Churchill’s side; and if that were the case, how did Churchill treat the matter?

I quoted Churchill’s official biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, whose opinion on the ancestory question as expressed in In Search of Churchill: An Historian’s Journey was “a qualified ‘yes.’”

As to the second question of how Churchill treated the possibility, I said I’d do further research before I offered you an answer.

I also cautioned that genealogical study can be complex and uncertain; leading sometimes to strong differences among people researching the same family.

So it is with Churchill’s possible American Indian ancestry. Here’s part of what Churchill Centre Associate Elizabeth Snell had to say on the question in an article which appeared in the Centre’s quarterly Finest Hour. You’ll see she doesn’t agree at all with Gilbert:

Long before the age of political correctness, some Churchills delighted in extolling the legend of their Native American blood, believed to have been introduced through Jennie Jerome's maternal grandmother, Clarissa Willcox.

Despite the much-mooted Indian features of some of Clarissa's descendants, there is no genealogical evidence to support Indian ancestry in the Jerome lineage.

In Jennie: The Life of Lady Randolph Churchill, Vol. 1, Ralph G. Martin wrote that Randolph S. Churchill in his biography of his father noted that the mother of Jennie's grandmother Clarissa was one Anna Baker whose "mother's maiden name is not recorded in the genealogies" and "is believed to have been an Iriquois [sic] Indian."

Although Randolph did write something like this it is ironic that any Churchills or Churchillians give credence to Jennie, which was withdrawn in Britain over its false allegation that Sir Winston's brother Jack was not Lord Randolph's son.

In any case, the fact is that we now know not only Anna Baker's mother's name but something of her background - thanks to an unearthed 1951 typescript on the descendants of the Baker family.
Well, what do you think?

I’m not ready to bet yet. Are you?

As for how the Great Man himself treated the matter, Snell notes:
In the absence of any real proof [what] we are left with are the stories passed on through the Jerome family over the years, of some ancestor's supposed Indian blood. . . .

Sir Winston, to whose romantic nature the story appealed, was known to believe it, as did some members of his family.
I want to go to the library later today to do some more research before giving my final answer on how Churchill treated the matter.

Snell’s entire article is here courtesy of the Churchill Centre.

Nifong’s contempt trial: a few comments

I posted earlier here on Mike Nifong’s contempt trial today.

Since then, KC Johnson has posted on the afternoon session. The Johnsville News has an omnibus post reporting and linking to many Hoax related matters including today’s trial. Liestoppers has also posted on the trial (scroll down).

I’m going to use KC Johnson’s “highlights” of the morning session to make a few comments. KC’s “highlights” are in italics; my comments are in plain.

At times, the goal of Nifong attorney Jim Glover appeared to be to put everyone in the courtroom to sleep. "Wandering" is a charitable description of his questioning style. It didn't help that Brad Bannon knew the basic facts of the case so much better than Glover did.

In the most emotionally charged moment of the morning, Brad Bannon eviscerated Glover’s claim that the multiple male DNA found by Meehan was “not significantly exculpatory.”

Bannon responded, “That’s absolutely false.” He then paused before adding, “And you know it.”

Bannon surely believed he “had” Glover and Judge Smith knew it; otherwise Bannon wouldn’t have said to Glover, first, “false,” and then followed that with “you know it.”

Glover is there to defend his client but he’s also an officer of the court. He’s not supposed to knowingly say things that are false. That’s one of the things that got his client in trouble.

Glover better be careful. Maybe he should spend less time with Nifong.

In any case, what a telling exchange.

A critical item from the Himan testimony: the officer offered much more clarity on the April 21 meeting between Nifong and Meehan than we previously have heard. Meehan told them, Himan remembered, that he had discovered DNA from four unidentified males.

This revelation would seem to have strongly damaged Glover’s other line of defense—that Nifong couldn’t have been expected to have remembered what Meehan told him, because he took no notes. Himan, it seems, had no trouble recalling this important fact.

What’s so important here is the “story gap” that continues to widen between Nifong and Himan.

Remember at Nifong’s disbarment trial Himan testifying that he questioned Nifong’s plan to indict Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann: “With what?”

Now Himan remembers very important facts from the April 21 meeting that Nifong “couldn’t have … remembered.”

Do you think it’s very likely that further down the legal road Himan will be a cooperative witness when Nifong faces much more serious criminal charges than the one he’s facing now? I do.

There were at least two occasions in which Glover almost seemed to imply that Nifong never should have moved ahead with the case after the SBI returned its DNA findings, noting that the SBI lab showed that there was no semen evidence “to support this story that she told.”

Glover could have added: “and no other credible evidence as my client admitted before you, Judge Smith, on July 26.”

But they were all in the courtroom today because Nifong didn’t start wraping the case up last April. He pushed resolutely ahead using all the powers and resources of the state in an attempt to frame three young men he knew were innocent.

Today Nifong was reaping some of what he sowed.

Finally, Glover portrayed Nifong in such a way to provide a further reminder that this man never should have been a prosecutor:

Nifong, said Glover, “simply didn’t pay any attention(!)” to what was in the DNA Security report, since he had “developed a habit of not paying much attention to the details and specifics of what was in these reports.” Glover concluded, “What he did in this case was what he did in other cases.”

This statement was nothing short of astonishing.

Ah, the old “incompetence defense.”

“I’m not guilty. I’m just a dummy. How was I to know I shouldn’t have done all that stuff.”

Think of the irony of it, folks. This time last year we here in Durham were being told we should elect Mike Nifong DA because he was a smart prosecutor with 27 years experience.

Now today we get “the incompetence defense”: the last refuge of those who know they’re guilty and cornered.

Of course, Nifong didn’t himself offer it; his attorney did. But you can see where things are heading down the road.

What a difference a year can make.

Nifong Today & "The Attorney's Lesson"

From this afternoon:

Former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong began fighting a criminal contempt of court charge today in the same courtroom where he once prosecuted people accused of crimes.

Nifong, who was stripped of his law license this month, is facing Judge W. Osmond Smith III on the charge, which arose from his handling of the Duke lacrosse case.

The former prosecutor pleaded not guilty this morning. And at the close of prosecution evidence this afternoon, Smith refused Nifong's motion to dismiss the charge.
You can read the entire report here.

KC Johnson’s been live blogging from the courtroom. His account of the morning session is here. His “highlights” of the session are here. As of 5 pm eastern he’s not posted on the afternoon session.

I’ll post later tonight on today’s session.

As I thought about Nifong standing before a judge and being held to account for some of the many great wrongs he’s done, I thought back to a “lesson” an outstanding North Carolina attorney gave me this past February. I was so impressed I posted on it.

I’m reposting it today because what the attorney said made clear the gravity and criminality of Nifong’s withholding the exculpatory DNA evidence.

If you don’t agree now that Nifong deserves jail time for the criminal contempt with which today’s court procedinga are concerned, and for so much more he did in an attempt to frame three men even he now admits were innocent, I hope you do after you read The Attorney’s Lesson.


An attorney I was talking with the other day gave me a lesson.

The attorney said the public still has no idea “just how extraordinarily important and powerful” the DNA evidence is that DA Nifong and DNA Security Lab director Brian Meehan conspired to withhold from the defense.

What follows is a close paraphrase, using a first person voice, of what the attorney then said:
Suppose it’s 1985 and those three guy are accused and indicted just as they were. Everything’s the same as it is now except no DNA.

At the trial it’s only the woman’s word and she’s changed her story a couple of times.

But that’s no problem. The prosecution puts expert witnesses on the stand who tell the jury it’s normal for a woman to change her story.

I’ve seen cases where prosecutors have told juries that the woman changing her story is one more proof she was raped.

Factor in the media onslaught you had against those kids and you get convictions. They’re sent away for life.

Twenty years goes by.

Now it's 2006 and DNA evidence identical to the evidence Nifong and Meehan tried to hide is brought forward in an actual innocence claim on the players' behalf.

That evidence, in and of itself, is enough to set those guys free. Just that DNA evidence. It’s that powerful. It's that important.

Not only that, and I could cite the appellate court decisions for you, in circumstances like that states have been directed by the courts to expunge any records of the charges, the convictions, and the imprisonments. The state is supposed to also make formal apologies to the guys.

It's all an attempt to “make the person whole;” only you can’t really make a person whole in those circumstances.

The state is also supposed to look at the case again.

Did the woman lie? Was she drugged and just didn’t know who? Did she just ID the wrong guys? Is she still claiming rape? ( The attorney mentioned that when North Carolina prosecutors seek indictment for rape, they almost always also seek indictments for sexual assault and kidnapping as happened in the Hoax case. Attorneys and judges refer to the practice of linking the three as “boxcaring.” - JinC)

If the state believes the woman is confused but still has some credibility or if it believes on some other basis a sex crime was committed against her, it should treat the other men, excluding the driver, whose DNA was found in her as suspects; and then either eliminate them as suspects or weigh bringing charges.
The attorney’s words were quite a lesson, at least for me.

They helped strengthen my belief the State Bar will disbar Nifong. Given the seriousness of what he did and the public's growing awareness of that, the Bar doesn’t dare do otherwise, even if it’s so inclined.

The attorney's lesson also helped strengthen my belief that what Nifong and Meehan did was so wrong and so serious that they ought to go to prison.

The LA Times Was Wrong

Tuesday I posted LA Times Gets It Wrong. It drew a comment I want to respond to.

So here first is the post; then below the star line you'll find the comment; and after that my fisking response.

LA Times Gets It Wrong

Gateway Pundit has posted:

Wrong: Media's Story on Gen. Peter Pace Urging Troop Reduction

On Friday we heard this all over the news- via Memeorandum:

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is expected to advise President Bush to reduce the U.S. force in Iraq next year by almost half.

Today we heard this:

Pace on Friday said, "The story is wrong, it is speculative. I have not made or decided on any recommendations yet."


Funny, the correction didn't make any headlines.

Nice work, Gateway Pundit and Memorandum.

Now the comment ---

Anonymous said...

Um, this actually shows your ignorance of the political process. The general said the story was "wrong, it is speculative."

But the LAT had never reported that he HAD made a recommendation. It reported only that he is "expected" to make a certain recommendation to the president, based on interviews with unnamed sources.

Politicians often play these games. They challenge the validity of a story, but it's bluster. The only way for the LAT to have been wrong would have been for the general to say: "The story is wrong. I plan to recommend that we triple our troops, double our troops, etc."

He didn't say that.

So, this analysis that the LAT story is flawed is, itself, flawed.

By the way, when were you last in Iraq providing insight from the ground?

9:52 PM

OK, folks, I’m sure some of you are asking, “Why is John going to respond to a troll? Why doesn’t he just delete the comment?”

Because in this case, if it is a troll’s comment, it’s useful in that it allows me to make some important points.

Let’s begin.

The comment is certainly trollish in that it begins with what is meant to be an insult to me and in the very next sentence provides information that confirms what the Gateway Pundit post was saying and which I endorsed. So we read:

Um, this actually shows your ignorance of the political process. The general said the story was "wrong, it is speculative." (emphasis mine)
That’s right. General Case said the LAT story was “wrong.”

Newspapers shouldn’t run news stories that are wrong. They’re supposed to check to see if the story is right which the LAT could have done with a phone call to Pace's office.

If an MSM news organization is going to do a story on what a public figure is planning to do, shouldn’t we expect the MSM outfit to check with the person to find out what he/she has to say?

If the LAT had checked with Pase, he would’ve told the LAT what it was forced to admit the next day buried in the seventh paragraph of a story not on troop deployment in Iraq, but on troop morale there:
Pace on Friday said, "The story is wrong, it is speculative. I have not made or decided on any recommendations yet."
Why did the LAT publish a speculative story without checking first with Pace? Especially, why did the LAT publish that kind of speculative story in a time of war?

The troll or the actually serious commenter ends with:
By the way, when were you last in Iraq providing insight from the ground?
That’s a silly and irrelevant question.

But it's useful in this regard: It reminded me of a post I’ve thought about doing now for some time.

In 1970 I visited Chappaquiddick Island where, most of you probably recall, Sen. Ted Kennedy was involved in a fatal auto accident in 1969.

I’ve wanted to tell you what I learned there when I spoke to locals and drove the route Kennedy took that led to his driving off the Dike (also spelled Dyke) Bridge and the death of the passenger in his car, a 28-year-old woman, Mary Jo Kopechne.

I’ll put that post up early next week.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Churchill Series – Aug. 29, 2007

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

A reader recently asked two questions:? Was Churchill part American Indian? If he was, how did he feel about that?

Let’s start with the first question.

Churchill’s official biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, offered “a qualified ‘yes’” as his answer in In Search of History: A Historian’s Journey (John Wiley & Sons):

Chruchill’s ancestry was, and stil is, a frequent subject of enquiry. A former Hungarian diplomat writing a book about “the mixing of the nations and the races” wanted to know if it was true that one of Churchill’s American ancestors was an American Indian woman. ...

The answer seems to be a qualified “yes.”

[Churchill’s son, Randolph,] was always proud of a possible Indian link, and I remember his pleasure when he received at Stour, in May 1963, a letter from the United States Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, indicting two separate possible sources of Indian blood in [Churchill’s mother’s] veins, both of them Iroquois women. ...(pg. 263)
Gilbert goes on to say Udall wrote it was very likely “Sir Winston is 1/16th degree Indian.”

There’s much more to the question of Churchill’s very likely American Indian heritage. I’ll get into some of it tomorrow with my fingers crossed because genealogy study can be very complicated and sensitive. In the case of Churchill, for instance, there is, even among those who agree he was an American Indian descendent, considerable dispute as to who the Indian ancestor was.

On the question of how Churchill felt about his possible American Indian heritage, I want to do some more research before I offer a response.

In the meantime, you’re all welcome to weigh in.

What about a visit to LS boards?

Should you visit Liestoppers discussion boards?

That's up to you. You can decide for yourself by going here or here or here.

My opinion?

It depends on what you want.

If you want to "keep the faith" that when Duke's faculty Group of 88 published their ad, all they really were doing was "listening to students," don't go to the LS boards.

If you think Duke's President, Richard H. Brodhead, didn't meet for months with the lacrosse parents because "he's a busy man who can't meet with everyone," you'd best stay away from LS boards.

And if you're still upset that the Raleigh N&O and the Durham H-S "didn't do all they could last Spring to help Mike, Mark, Ben, David, Ron, Patrick, Tara and Crystal," DEFINITELY don't go near any LS board.

But if you're following the Duke Hoax case closely or you just appreciate seeing well-informed people discuss issues, I think you'll like the LS boards.

But take a look; decide for yourself.

Highlighting H-S Editor Ashley (Post 2)

(This is another in a series of posts highlighting Durham Herald Sun Editor Bob Ashley’s work.)

Bob ("Paxton Owner Man") Ashley edits the H-S on both the news and editorial sides.

Today the H-S’s lead editorial is headlined

City next target in lacrosse case
A year ago this time someone seeing only that headline might have wondered:
“What’s going on? I thought Nifong was just targeting the lacrosse players.

Bob Ashley didn’t say anything about Nifong going after the whole city. Will the H-S tell Nifong to stop that?”
But the H-S did nothing last year to try to stop Nifong and Durham police from framing the players.

On the contrary, Ashley and the H-S egged them on.

H-S editorials repeatedly told readers the attempted frame-up was a legitimate. They praised what Nifong and the police were doing.

The H-S went out of its way to slime the players.

Its editorials were manna for Duke's now disgraced faculty Group of 88 and Nifong's campaign team.

As late as last November, by which time anyone who cared to know knew “the Duke lacrosse case” was a monumental travesty, the H-S stood with Nifong and endorsed his scheme to put three innocent young men on trial.

In its Nov. 9, 2006, post-election editorial the H-S said:
It can be argued credibly, and Nifong has admitted, that the case hasn't been handled flawlessly. But a court of law is the best place to weigh the merits of the case, whether a judge is evaluating it on procedural grounds or whether a jury winds up assessing the evidence on its way to a verdict. That is how our system resolves difficult questions such as those in this case.

Furthermore, with an upcoming trial that is sure to draw major media attention, it would be better for the players to have an opportunity to prove their innocence at trial.

If Nifong were to dismiss the case now, the suspicion would linger that influence and money played a role.
How about that? Can you believe it?

Last November, nine months after the NC State Bar opened an ethics violation file that would lead in time to a trial and Nifong’s disbarment, the H-S could only bring itself to concede Nifong hadn’t handled the case “flawlessly.”

And what about Ashley’s telling the players, their families and Durham's citizens that “it would be better for the players to have an opportunity to prove their innocence at trial?”

That’s typical Ashley arrogance and a “spit in the eye” of America’s justice system, founded on the presumption of the innocence of the accused with the prosecutor bearing the burden of proof.

When you read today’s Ashley/H-S City next target in lacrosse case editorial, please keep in mind all that Ashley and the H-S did to enable and sustain the attempted frame-up and the on-going cover-up of it.

Keep especially in mind that last November the H-S said it was concerned that if David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann weren’t put on trial, suspicions might linger that “influence and money” played a role in that.

Now, as you read today's editorial, you’ll see Ashley and his editors are very upset.

The H-S didn't come right out and say it, but Ashley and his editors know possible civil suits against Durham City will almost certainly reveal how powerful influences in Durham and the enormous financial resources of the state were used to violate police procedures and abuse the legal system.

And they know Durham's public may now see what was done to frame three innocent Duke students while the H-S looked with approval.

So is it any wonder Bob Ashley and the H-S are so upset today?

The AP's liberal bias: a classic example

Readers Note: The post below was originally published on Nov. 1, 2005.

It cites a classic example of the AP's liberal bias I found in a story reporting on then U. S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Conner's resignation from the court and speculation regarding her replacement to be nominated by President Bush.

After you read the example, you may say to yourselves, "Nothing's changed."


Under Deb Riechmann's byline, an Associated Press story, Bush Expected to Name New Nominee Monday, contains this sentence:

Conservatives revile O'Connor for staking out moderate and practical positions on controversial issues.
Reichmann doesn't name a single conservative who reviles Justice O'Connor, nor does she or her AP editors provide one example of O'Connor's "moderate and practical positions on controversial issues."

But providing such information would get in the way of the AP's reason for running that sentence: To tell readers conservatives are people who revile a public figure who is moderate and practical concerning controversial issues.

If you doubt that, read the sentence again:
Conservatives revile O'Connor for staking out moderate and practical positions on controversial issues.
It reads like a cut-and-paste from a attack ad.

It does nothing but tell people what the AP wants them to believe about conservatives.

The AP could have told readers of conservatives' recent praise for O'Connor's dissent in Kelo and for much else. But that, as the pols say, "gets off message."

So the liberal journalists at the AP campaigned their way.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Churchill Series – Aug. 28, 2007

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

Yesterday I ended a five-part series intended to refute assertions by some historians that Churchill was insensitive to the problems and accomplishments of ordinary people, particularly those who worked for him.

In the first of the five posts historian Maurice Ashley, not one of those who’s embraced the insensitivity claim, nevertheless noted that an historian as distinguished as A.J.P. Taylor has written that [Churchill] was an ‘atrocious’ employer.

Ashley gave as another example of what we might call the “‘Churchill was insensitive to 'ordinary people’ school of historiography” the opining of a reviewer of Manchester’s The Last Lion. The reviewer claimed Churchill treated his research assistants and secretaries badly and underpaid them.

Taylor, the reviewer and others are wrong. The four series posts which followed the first made that abundantly clear. For those of you who many want to take a second look they’re, in chronological order, here, here, here, and here.

I believe the series did an effective job of refuting the assertions of “the insensitivity school.” But I couldn’t leave the series where it was because, looking back on the series, I realized I’d failed to mention what is the best and greatest example of Churchill’s understanding of the needs of “ordinary people” and his concern for their welfare: his defense of their freedoms.

I don’t doubt that all of you agree with that.

I hope you’re back tomorrow.



This is a "starter list." Come back tomorrow. I'll have added to it.


Here are some Triangle-based blogs I like:

Betsy’s Page

Confederate Yankee

Newmark’s Door

Right Angles

These blogs have provided outstanding Duke lacrosse coverage



The Johnsville News

Always check anything you read in MSM critical of the U. S. military. Some good places to do that are:

Black Five

Michelle Malkin

Mudville Gazette

If you think news reporting in America is just fine, stick with the NY Times, CBS, NPR and in the Triangle, the Raleigh N&O

If you feel otherwise try Newsbusters.

Also, these blogs



And be sure to check RealClearPolitics every day.

LA Times Gets It Wrong

Gateway Pundit has posted:

Wrong: Media's Story on Gen. Peter Pace Urging Troop Reduction

On Friday we heard this all over the news- via Memeorandum:

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is expected to advise President Bush to reduce the U.S. force in Iraq next year by almost half.

Today we heard this:

Pace on Friday said, "The story is wrong, it is speculative. I have not made or decided on any recommendations yet."


Funny, the correction didn't make any headlines.

Nice work, Gateway Pundit and Memorandum.

N&O, Duke & Player Cooperation (Post 2)

The lie that the Duke lacrosse players were not cooperating with police helped poison public opinion against the players. It inflamed unstable and hateful people. It led to the “Wanted” and “Vigilante” posters which added to the danger the players were facing. And it gave then DA Mike Nifong “cover” as he sought to frame the players.

The lie, often expressed as “the players’ ‘wall of solidarity,’” was first promulgated by the Raleigh News & Observer on March 25, 2006 despite the paper’s knowing it was a lie (see this post).

Now, we read in the American Journalism Review’s critique of the media’s Duke lacrosse coverage what’s emerging as the N&O’s cover-up story for its decision not to report on the players’ cooperation in stories it published in the critical days after the N&O “broke” the Duke lacrosse story on March 24, 2006 :

Looking back, Neff wishes he and his colleagues had paid more attention to … a police blotter entry published in the Raleigh paper on March 22, 2006, on page B3. The brief said a woman had told police she was raped and robbed March 13 during a party at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd. It cited Sgt. Gottlieb as saying that residents of the rental house were cooperating.

"[W]hen the story blew up and it became this huge mess, we never said, 'Wait a minute. The police sergeant said they were cooperating, and Nifong said they weren't cooperating,'" Neff says. "I wish we would have caught that."
When reading what Neff says, it’s important to keep in mind the March 22 story made no reference to “Duke lacrosse.”

As a result, it was a very rare reader who would’ve “connected the dots” between the N&O's March 22 story and the N&O’s subsequent “Duke lacrosse” stories and asked: “Why is the N&O now saying the players didn’t cooperate when it reported on March 22 Gottlieb said they had?”

What Neff is saying now in response to that question, which the N&O was forced to acknowledge after this blogger and other readers dug up the March 22 story in the N&O's archives, amounts to:
”Oh, that! Yes, the March 22 story. Gosh, we forgot about it.”
What Neff says in the AJR critique is not believable.

There were many N&O reporters and editors working the Duke lacrosse story last March. They didn’t all forget what Gottlieb said.

Even if you were to suppose they had all forgotten it, on March 24 Duke University issued a statement in which it said the players were cooperating with police.

You can view the statement at Duke's news site where it's been availalbe to the N&O 24/7 since Duke issued it.

You can be sure that many N&O journalists read that statement at the time.

But can any of you say the N&O ever reported on it?

If the N&O had reported on Gottlieb’s and Duke University’s statements about the players' cooperation, the “wall of silence” lie would have been challenged by intelligent and fair-minded people.

And in that case, the “wall of silence” lie would have been exposed for the lie it was.

The N&O helped trash the entire lacrosse team and frame David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann.

The N&O's never said it's sorry for that.

TJN on An Inconvenient Truth

Go to The Johnsville News and you'll find an outstanding post. Parts of it follow. Then I add a few comments.

An inconvenient truth: Diversity Hurts Higher Education

One of the stories that flew past the radar this month was the Boston Globe article entitled the "Downside of Diversity" by Michael Jonas. The stunning finding that it reported has had a few weeks to rattle around the blogosphere. It was a shocker:

A Harvard political scientist finds that diversity hurts civic life. What happens when a liberal scholar unearths an inconvenient truth? -- IT HAS BECOME increasingly popular to speak of racial and ethnic diversity as a civic strength. From multicultural festivals to pronouncements from political leaders, the message is the same: our differences make us stronger.

But a massive new study, based on detailed interviews of nearly 30,000 people across America, has concluded just the opposite. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam -- famous for "Bowling Alone," his 2000 book on declining civic engagement -- has found that the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects.

In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings.

"The extent of the effect is shocking," says Scott Page, a University of Michigan political scientist.[…]
The related issue about the value of diversity in higher education was raised today by Prof. KC Johnson's profile of Duke Group of 88 member, Prof. William Chafe. Prof. Johnson's post made these observations regarding academic diversity:
William Chafe is Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of History, where his scholarship, as his website states, “reflects his long-term interest in issue of race and gender equality.” He specializes in U.S. history after World War II, with a particular focus on African-Americans, women, or radical whites. [...]

In a 2002 address, he explained his strategy to faculty personnel matters: “There has remained a tendency to think of Duke as a place of wealth, whiteness and privilege. We aim to change that.” The Chronicle added that “Chafe said faculty diversity is still lacking, and that the University must continue to seek new ways to attract women and minorities.” [...]

Elite schools normally have placed academic excellence, not “diversity,” as their primary goal in hiring, as Economics professor Roy Weintraub pointed out at the time... Duke makes choices at the margin in every resource allocation decision and every programmatic expenditure. Have we chosen to settle for using our resources to achieve a more diverse faculty instead of a more intellectually distinguished one? The record of the past decade seems to indicate that the answer is ‘yes.’”[…]
The part about a "diversity" dean would have been considered funny once upon a time. But, after watching the diversity enabled Duke Group of 88, attack, vilify, and academically injure their own students, the word diversity now makes us flinch as if a dark dangerous shadow swept over us.

If diversity hurts civic life, then it seems logical that it could also hurt academic life, especially in the extreme. It's been said, "job security tends to corrupt, and tenure corrupts absolutely." Tenured diversity looks like the extreme that fostered Duke's tenured and corrupt G88 vigilantes. […]

Folks, All of TJN's post is worth reading. It include snips of some bloggers’ comments on Putnam’s study as well as links to their posts.

Message to The Johnsville News: It’s a great post. It should be must reading for the administrators in Duke’s Allen Building and the Univeristy’s trustees.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Churchill Series - Aug. 27, 2007

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

This is the final post in a five-part series intended to refute the assertions of some historians that Churchill was insensitive to the problems and accomplishments of ordinary people, particularly those who worked for him.

The series began with a presentation of "the case" of those making the "insensitivity" claims. Following that were posts concerning legislation to aid ordinary people which Churchill fought for and helped implement as a cabinet minister as well as examples of ordinary individuals he knew well and treated with compassion and financial generosity in their times of need.

I end the series today with a look at how Churchill treated Violet Pearman and her two daughters.

Mrs. P, as Churchill always called Pearman, was one of his secretaries during the 1930s when Churchill was out of office, and worked mostly on his articles, speeches and books at his Chartwell home.

Mrs. P was divorced and was raising two daughters when in 1938, at about age 36, she suffered a very serious stroke that left her unable to work.

Churchill arranged to pay her full salary for the next year. He consulted physicians on her behalf and sought to assure she received the best possible care. As she began her recovery, he sent her the following letter:

Dearest Mrs. P,

I am so grieved at your illness – due I fear largely to your devotion to my interests and fortunes. I am sure that all you need is a good long rest without worries of any kind. Now do help in this. Lie absolutely fallow and you will recover. There is no need to fret about anything - though I don’t pretend I do not miss you badly.

Do not let your case be a burden. Why don’t you tell your solicitor to come to me. I will have it all properly looked after. Remember you can count on me for the 50 [pounds] I promised.

All I want you to do is to get well, and this you can do by a good holiday. I will look after you.

Yours affectionately,

Winston S. Churchill
Violet Pearman died in 1941. Churchill biographer Sir Martin Gilbert wrote:
Churchill made arrangements for her monthly salary, at that time 12 [pounds], to be paid to her daughter Rosemary , then aged eleven, and for a further seven years beginning in 1943 he paid 100 [pounds] a year towards Rosemary’s education.
Churchill’s treatment of Violet Pearmen is one more example of his sensitivity to the problems of ordinary people and his appreciation for their achievements.

I don’t want to make this post any longer than it already is, but I do want to make a few remarks before ending this series. So tomorrow I’ll offer summary remarks about the sensitivity and generosity of Winston S. Churchill, a great and good man.

All of the material concerning Churchill and Violet Pearman can be found in Martin Gilbert’s In Search of Churchill: A Historian’s Journey. (John Wiley & Sons, 1994) (pgs. 156-160)

Targeting U. S. Marines

Denis Keohane at American Thinker says:

If Democrats really do support the troops, they will use their control of Congress to launch one more investigation -- into a series of statements and reported leaks by officials that have severely harmed our troops and their ability to accomplish their mission.

These statements fall into a category of press misinformation that currently has no name, but which deserves one, a neologism to join the ranks of "fisking" and "a lewinsky."

beauchamp (n)

a story or narrative demeaning to or condemnatory of American military personnel that is readily and even eagerly accepted and presented to others as fact without due diligence to customary norms, of critical fact checking or the legal principle of innocent until proven guilty.

Example: "Our troops overreacted [at Haditha] because of the pressure on them and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood..."
- Congressman John Murtha [Dem. - PA], May 2006
I’m not surprised Congressional Democrats haven’t used their powers to investigate whether leaked and very likely largely false information hurt U. S. Marines. Are you?

Keohane goes on to show us some of what al-Jazeera's Factbox Haditha is telling people in the Middle East and elsewhere:
John Murtha, Democratic congressman and former marine and war critic, says the military attempted a cover-up and accuses the marines of killing "in cold blood".

Some US media compare Haditha to the 1968 My Lai massacre in Vietnam, when US soldiers ran amok in the village, and killed some 500 people, mostly women, children and old men.

US politicians briefed on the investigation are quoted as saying several marines, led by a sergeant, went from house to house killing people and also killed four students and a taxi driver in a car that approached the scene. Photographs of the corpses suggested some victims had been kneeling when killed." …
There’s a lot more to Keohane’s post. It’s must reading for people who care about our military and holding MSM responsible for telling us the truth.

Hat tip: Mike Williams

N&O, Duke & Player Cooperation (Post 1)

If you’re a regular reader of this blog or if you’ve followed the Duke Hoax case from the start on your own, you almost certainly know the following five things:

1) The most important Duke Hoax news story was the Raleigh News & Observer’s March 25, 2006 story featuring an anonymous interview with the woman and what the N&O reported was "an ordeal" for “the victim” which ended finally in “sexual violence.”

2) Among other things in that story, the N&O promulgated what it knew was the lie that the players had not cooperated with police.

3) N&O news stories in the following two days and a March 27 news column by Ruth Sheehan (“Teams’ Silence Is Sickening”) reiterated the lie.

4) When Mike Nifong began speaking publicly about the case on March 27, he used the lie of the players not cooperating with police which the N&O had been telling the public for three days.

5) The lie about the players’ non-cooperation, expressed in the “Wall of Silence” phrase, did a great deal to inflame self-righteous and hateful people whose words and deeds helped place the players at risk of physical harm. It also gave Nifong a kind of "cover" which he needed because as we now know he had no credible evidence of the players' guilt.

I don't doubt you know all of that.

But do you know this: On March 24, 2006, the day before the N&O began telling readers and the rest of media the players weren’t cooperating, Duke University issued a statement in which it said unequivocally the players were cooperating?

Here’s the statement in full, which you can also view for yourselves at Duke News:

Yesterday, 46 Duke University undergraduates who are members of the men’s lacrosse team responded to a legal order from Durham authorities and traveled downtown to be photographed and provide identifying information. The authorities made the request in connection with an investigation of an alleged incident on March 14 at 610 Buchanan St. in Durham. Duke University is monitoring the situation and cooperating with officials, as are the students.
John Burness, Duke’s Senior Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations is listed on the statement as a contact with his phone number and email included. The N&O regularly contacts Burness and uses Duke News statements in its stories. Duke also has a special contact number for reporters on deadline.

Does anyone know why the N&O’s March 25 story doesn’t mention the Duke statement and the players’ cooperation?

Does anyone know why the N&O made no mention of the Duke statement in its Sunday, April 26, story reporting on a vigil Saturday night in support of “the victim" or in its April 27 story reporting the “potbanger” rally in which “the activists” gathered around a large “CASTRATE” banner?

Of course, we can all understand why Ruth Sheehan wouldn’t mention the Duke statement in her “Teams’ Silence Is Sickening” column. Mentioning the Duke statement would have destroyed the whole point of her column.

Final question: Does anyone know when the N&O finally reported the very important news that Duke had issued a statement on March 24 saying the players were cooperating?

I’ve got to go now but I’m going to return to this story.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

This made me smile

I was driving with our six year old grandson. He's recently returned with his family from living a year in Australia.

We stopped at a light and I saw a Chick-fil-A.

He loves chicken nuggets, so I said I thought Chick-fil-A made the best nuggets.

He said they were good but he liked Hardees’ better; and there was one place in Australia that had "the really best nuggets.”

I asked its name.

“I don’t know.”

Well, where was it?

“I don’t know. But if you go to Australia, that’s where you should get chicken nuggets.”


Readers Note: This post is the first of a three-post series the title of which states the series' theme.

Today's post includes a post, BRODHEAD'S FAILED, I first published on December 23, 2006.

That's followed by commentary concerning how the post looks to me today and a few words about the two series posts which will follow this one.

Let's begin with last December's BRODHEAD'S FAILED:

Back on March 25 Duke’s President, Richard H. Brodhead, refused to meet with the parents of 46 students under investigation for multiple felonies, including gang rape. He hasn’t met with them since. He’s never said why.

On May 18 racists outside and within the Durham County Courthouse shouted threats, including death threats, at Duke sophomore Reade Seligmann.

Brodhead said nothing then and has said nothing since critical of racists threatening one of his students.

Duke News Service recently confirmed Brodhead’s silence on May 18 and since. But it said I needed to call his office to learn why he’s been silent. Calls to Brodhead’s office in which I identified myself and my purpose have not been returned.

On June 13 the Raleigh News & Observer published a letter from Duke Law School professor James Coleman in which he said Nifong had “undermined public confidence in the case” and should step aside.

For the next six months and nine days Brodhead declined to support Coleman’s request.

Instead, Brodhead urged us all to, like him, do nothing about Nifong’s conduct; and thus enable Nifong to bring David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann to trial in Durham where Brodhead said they would have their chance to be “proved innocent.”

Now, a week after a disgraced DNA expert admitted in court he teamed with Nifong to withhold evidence favorable to Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann, Brodhead announced he can support Coleman’s position after all.

What’s more, Brodhead is demanding Nifong “explain to all of us his conduct in this matter.” Excerpt from Duke News Service:

“The district attorney should now put this case in the hands of an independent party, who can restore confidence in the fairness of the process. Further, Mr. Nifong has an obligation to explain to all of us his conduct in this matter.”
It’s a plus for justice whenever someone goes from silence in the face of Nifong’s travesties to endorsing what Coleman and so many others have asked for.

But excepting that, I’m not cheering Brodhead’s statement. It’s too little, too late and obviously self-serving.

Brodhead’s demand that Nifong “explain to all of us his conduct in this matter” would have been very helpful last spring or even a few weeks before November’s election which Nifong won with less than 50% of the vote.

By speaking out last spring, Brodhead might very well have helped prevent a witch hunt and the massive injustices it’s spawned.

Even if Brodhead had delayed speaking out until October, he might have helped defeat Nifong at the polls. In that case, Nifong would now have just over a week left in office.

Brodhead has often said the job of president of Duke University is a very tough one. He’s right. But there are matters and events that come a Duke president’s way that are very important and not really so tough. Yet Brodhead’s managed to fail at many of them.

What was tough about condemning the "Wanted" and "Vigilante" posters that circulated on campus and in Durham last spring? But Brodhead said nothing. Those posters endangered the lacrosse players most but they also endangered the rest of us.

How tough was it back on May 18 to speak out against the racists attacking Seligmann; or to say supporting words to him and his family? And if for some reason Brodhead didn’t think May 18 was the right day to speak, why hasn’t he spoken since?

What kind of university president remains silent for seven months about events like those of May 18?

Brodhead’s failed Duke and Durham. He needs to move on. The sooner, the better.

Looking back on that post, I wish I'd capitalized "spring." Otherwise, I wouldn't change a word of it.

The post contains fair, accurate descriptions of President Brodhead's actions and inactions which even his supporters don't dispute.

Brodhead's actions and inactions I cite are odious and, of themselves, enough to mark him as a failed president.

But unfortunately for Duke, I can say to you what Dave Barry is known for saying: "Wait! There's more."

The second post in this series will look at some of Brodhead's failures that relate to the Duke Hoax which were known last December but which I didn't discuss in order to hold the post to a reasonable length. For example, his decision to issue on March 29 a full and unconditional apology on behalf of the University to the woman who was at the time identified only as "the first 911 caller."

The third post will look at some of Brodhead's failures since BRODHEAD'S FAILED was published. For example, his failure to state what, if anything, Duke has done to determine whether the person(s) who "pulled" from face photos of white lacrosse players which later appeared on the notorious "Vigilante" poster did so using Duke equipment.

I'm told by tech people that the answer to the question can be easily determined.

But apparently it's not an easy question for Brodhead; or at least it's not one he wants to answer.

I hope you all take a look at the BRODHEAD'S FAILED comment thread. There's a lot of excellent commentary there.

I also hope you're back for the second series post.

And what are your thoughts regarding Brodhead?

New suits in Durham?

No, this post is not about clothing.

It’s about the Aug. 25 Durham Herald Sun story which begins:

Two of the country's best-known lawyers are representing three former Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape and may file a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the city next month, multiple sources say.

The players have hired Washington, D.C., lawyer Brendan Sullivan and New York City litigator Barry Scheck to represent them in the pending civil case.

Sullivan -- who gained fame in the 1980s while representing former Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North -- is working for lacrosse players David Evans and Collin Finnerty.

Confirmation of that came Friday from Chris Manning, a law partner of Sullivan's in the Washington firm Williams & Connolly.

Manning said that Scheck -- a member of O.J. Simpson's legal "dream team" in the 1990s -- is representing the third falsely accused player, Reade Seligmann.

Sources say Sullivan and Scheck contacted the city's lawyers recently and told them Durham faces litigation over how police handled the Duke lacrosse case.

Their move prompted City Council members, senior administrators, City Attorney Henry Blinder and a private-practice attorney retained by the city, Joel Craig, to huddle behind closed doors twice this week for consultations.

Blinder and Craig are supposed to attend a face-to-face meeting with the players' attorneys sometime in the next few days to hear them describe the basis for a lawsuit and perhaps terms for an out-of-court settlement.

The council has scheduled a closed-door meeting on Sept. 6 to hear a report from Blinder and Craig on the results of that meeting.
You can read the H-S story here.

Comments for those who appreciate irony:

1) The H-S story ran 17 months to the day the Raleigh News & Observer published a front-page story with headlines that gave no indication the facts of the story were in dispute:
Dancer gives details of ordeal

A woman hired to dance for the Duke lacrosse team describes a night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violence
For any readers who didn't “get it” from the headlines, the N&O’s uncritical reporting of “the victim’s” story and its reporting of what the N&O knew then was a lie about the players not cooperating with police, the N&O told readers:
It is The News & Observer's policy not to identify the victims of sex crimes.

2) The H-S story ran one year to the day the NY Times published "Files From Duke Rape Case Give Details but No Answers.”

A better headline would have been: “Times Hypes Gottlieb Notes Meant to Bolster Frame-up.”

Within a few hours of its appearance, had shredded the Times’ story (I'm not kidding about the “few hours". The NYT story appeared on the net a little after midnight; Liestoppers posted a little after 3 A. M. ).

Other bloggers and journalists added to Liestoppers' shredding so that within a few days the Times’ story had little or no credibility with informed, fair-minded people.

What a difference from the public's and media’s largely credulous reactions to the N&O’s fraudulent March 25 story about "the victim's" "ordeal" during a night that ended "finally" in “sexual violence.”

We'd learned a lot in the five months between the N&O’s story and the Times’ story.

By August 25, 2006 I’ll bet even many of Duke faculty’s Group of 88 and the NAACP’s state leadership knew Nifong’s “case” was really a frame-up.

That brings us to the next irony.

3) A year ago most city council members who’ll meet behind closed-doors on Sept. 6 to hear what will surely be a “bad news” report were supporting Mike Nifong for Durham DA. Also, most, if not all, of them had up until then said nothing I can recall critical of the DPD.

Bonus irony:

Councilwoman Diane Catotti’s supporters will surely agree she did all she could last Fall to help elect her friend, Mike Nifong.

Of course, they’ll add she didn’t do it because she and Nifong are friends.

I won't question that.

I’m sure Catotti, who’s up for re-election this year, backed Nifong because after following the Duke Hoax case closely for five months, she felt Nifong was the right person to be DA.

I also don’t doubt Catotti had her reasons a few months back for opposing an outside review of police conduct in the frame-up and ongoing cover-up of same.

Catotti is regarded as the most liberal and/or progressive member of the city council ( No, I don’t know the difference between “liberal” and “progressive,” either. But it seems to be important, at least to "progressives" who just hate, hate being called "liberals." ).

In any case, don't both "liberals" and "progressives" tell us they're all about justice and opposed to rogue prosecutors and police who violate the rights of citizens?

I’ve got to end this now, but I’ll soon post again concerning the H-S’s story.

I hope you read the entire H-S story.

The Raleigh News & Observer has so far reported nothing that I could find on the possible lawsuits.

KC Johnson and Liestoppers posted on the H-S story.

The Johnsville News has a comprehensive post updating on the Duke Hoax case, including a part it titles: Durham in Legal Crosshairs. That really says it, doesn't it?