Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sanchez, War & Stark: Some thoughts

Readers Note: I want to use excerpts from a comment by Scott on the To N&O:Retract Sanchez Story thread to make few comments. I’ll not hyperlink in this post. The excerpts are in italics; my comments are in plain.


Given the results of the recent "surge" strategy (decrease in murders; decrease in violence overall), I think it is a bit premature for [the former American forces commander in Iraq, General] Sanchez, to make a statement that this strategy is "a desperate move that would not achieve long-term stability." The jury is still out on that, but there is clear evidence that the situation has improved recently offering some hope that long-term stability can be achieved.

Certainly things in the short-term are looking better. The “surge” appears to have contributed to that.

As for “long-term stability,” what is “long-term stability” and how do we know we’ve achieved it?

There are parts of the world where we’ve been supporting the efforts of the people for decades to secure their freedom but we still need an American military presence there to sustain any sort of stable democracy.

For example, most people agree that but for the presence of American military forces in South Korea and our pledge to protect that country, it would soon be overrun by North Korea; with the result that democracy would be as dead in South Korea as it is now in North Korea.

And that's almost 60 years after we began fighting there. When will Democrats begin asking for an immediate troop withdrawel from South Korea? I'd sure like to bring the troops there home.

Just within the last few days, Dennis Gibson of ABC News reported that there is no news from Iraq today because there were no reports of anything being exploded or anyone getting killed. Hey, Dennis, guess what? Given the last 4 years in that part of the world, that's news!

I’m happy for the recent good news but I don’t think we should judge our success or failure in Iraq based on events in the short-term.

Yes, I know people like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, ABC News’ Terry Moran and Rev. Al Sharpton do.

But I think Churchill had it right when he said, “In war: resolution.”

By that he meant “however long and whatever the cost may be.”

We know for sure, however, that the mainstream press can be counted on to present the news that fits their agenda, whether that is to portray a drugged-out prostitute, with a prior history of fabricating rape claims and other violations of the law, as a mother and student who was a victim of a brutal rape by white athletes or to focus on anti-Bush remarks and omit the criticism of the press that was included in the very same speech delivered by Sanchez or to call news that something good happened in Iraq (no deaths) "not news."

Scott, I’m very sorry to say what I think every decent American who follows the news would say to you: you're right.

Anyone who thinks they are getting anything newsworthy from the mainstream print and broadcast media, I can hook you up with someone who has prime real estate in the Everglades for sale cheap.

Thanks, Scott, but like you and many millions of Americans I’m not in the market to buy what most of MSM is selling. It’s too much like the stuff anti-Americans around the world want to shove down our throats.

As to Stark, I used to live in Fremont CA, which is in the East Bay about 15 miles south of Oakland, so Fortney was my congressman for 4 years. He has always been loose cannon. This was just the latest incident and by no means the worst.

I want to be careful regarding Stark’s comment and the excuse Democratic Party and liberal/leftist news organizations will offer for it: “That’s just Stark. He’s that way.”

Sorry, but Stark’s terrible statement about President Bush is right in line with statements equally, or more abhorrent and hurtful to America, statements and actions of other Democratic Party leaders.

Remember Sen. Ted Kennedy's statements at the time of Abu Ghraib that America's military was running a prison system as bad as Saddam's? How about Sen. Dick Durbin comparing what we were doning in Guantanamo to what the Nazi's did?

There's more. I'll be posting on it soon.

In the meantime consider this: when Stark said Thursday on the House floor,

"You're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement,"
not a single Democratic House member disagreed with him.

That tells us a lot, doesn't it?

Thanks for your comment, Scott.

Stark post later today

Some of you on and off line have asked whether I'm planning to post on Democrat House Member Pete Stark's terrible and inciteful comment:

"You're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement," Stark told Republicans on the floor of the House.
Yes, later today; most likely by about 7 PM Eastern.


“Nancy’s plane” revisited

Two days ago I posted A "near upset" & "Nancy's plane." If you’re not familiar with it, please give at least the “Nancy’s plane” part of it and the comment thread a look before proceeding with this post.

You’ll see the second commenter Dukeeng93, hereafter De93, says:

John - I believe you are mischaracterizing the "plane truth. I know this is NPR but still - there's more and less to the story...
I responded
I stand by what I posted.

I plan to post on the main page tomorrow using your comment as a starting place.

In the meantime, you and others who think I mischaracterized might want to take a look this ABC News report that was available to you along with the less "fact-filled" NPR report you used:

Be sure to read the description of the C-32.

Speaker Pelosi knew exactly the kind of plane she was asking for.

De93 later posted this:
John - I'll await your post, then. I wonder how the quote "Did you find yourself wondering why she didn't just asked George Sores, Bill Gates, Jay Rockefeller and Duke’s BOT Chair Bob Steel to chip in for it? They could’ve paid for Nancy's plane without touching their next month's lunch money." can be made relevant, for example, to a government official asking for the same rights given her predecessor from another party.

I feel like your statement "When Nancy began her reign as Speaker by demanding the taxpayers foot the bill for a jetliner, that was a tip-off the Dems’ congressional leadership might not earn much approval from the American people, wasn't it?" misses the points that her Republican predecessor also had a plane, and that the logistics of the situation and the security concerns - then and now - merited a different aircraft that was requested, NOT BY THE SPEAKER, but by the sergeant at arms of the house (CNN, 2/9/2007 )

Also note in the CNN article above, the White House comes out in *support* of Speaker Pelosi's request, stating, "It is important for the speaker to have this kind of protection and travel." Your ABC story did not have all the information that was presented by NPR the day after and by CNN two days later. Some of the "facts" were akin to the ones that we've heard "kept changing" in other cases of media misinformation.

I look at the line, "Were you surprised Madam Speaker demanded the citizens pay for the plane after she’d promised to eliminate “fat-cat” congressional perks?" and what *I* see is the woman who's second-in-line to the presidency getting secure transport paid for by the government, just as had been provided to her predecessor, with the modification that she lives further away and thus needs a different plane. She did not *specifically* request a particular aircraft; the request was made for her and reiterated by her to have an aircraft wit (sic) appropriate range.
Folks, in this post I don’t seek to persuade De93 that I didn’t mischaracterize the plain truth.

I just want to provide some information De93 didn't and then leave you to decide whether I mischaracterized the truth.

First, what De93 offers is only the final “Pelosi-Dem-MSM” version of a story with a number of “evolving” versions as Pelosi and her allies in Congress and the media scurried to distance themselves from a February 1 Washington Times story based on unnamed Pentagon sources.

The Times story said Pelosi and her aides had been demanding the government provide the military equivalent of a luxury jetliner of a 737 or 757 type for her travel to and from her home district in San Francisco. (I couldn't link to the Times story, but this page attempts to link, and you may have more success than I did. - JinC)

Following publication of the Times story Pelosi and her allies began offering various explanations and accusations.

For instance, just the day before CNN’s Feb. 9 story containing the final “Pelosi-DemMSM” version, ABC News reported:
[…] Pelosi charged that the Pentagon is treating her request for a military plane differently than that of her predecessor because she is a woman.

The Speaker told gathered reporters, "As a woman, as a woman speaker of the House, I don't want any less of an opportunity than male speakers when they have served here," implying a sexist undertone to the recent criticism.

"This is something that's very strange that the Department of Defense and the Pentagon, which I have been a constant critic of the war in Iraq...has decided that they will go public about a conversation on an issue that applied to the other Speaker," Pelosi continued, referring to former Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.
Notice in this version of “Nancy’s plane” story, Pelosi, in contradiction of what De93 says, acknowledges she made a request to the Pentagon. She complains it's not being taken as seriously as it should (by which I think she means complied with immediately) because she’s a woman.

But that’s not all.

Speaker Pelosi finds it “strange” that “a conversation” about her plane request should come to the public’s attention.

Well, yes, how did that happen? Why is the public being let in on what’s going on in Washington?

Nancy wonders if it didn’t happen because she’s been “a constant critic of the war in Iraq.”

For anyone who doesn’t get what was really going on, a little further along in the ABC News report we read:
Late Wednesday afternoon, one of Pelosi's closest allies in the House, Rep. John Murtha, D-Penn., chairman of the key Appropriations Committee subcommittee on defense, told CNN that the Pentagon was making "a mistake" by leaking information unfavorable to the speaker "since she decides on the allocations for the Department of Defense."
Good old Jack Murtha. We need to thank him for providing today’s civics lesson.

On the other hand, he sure ruined Pelosi’s and De93’s “the woman as victim” spins.

As for where the White House stood on the question of Nancy’s plane, the following is from the same ABC story:
The White House today was asked if it's "a good idea" for Pelosi to "have a large government military jet available to her to go back and forth to California?"

"After Sept. 11, the Department of Defense -- with the consent of the White House -- agreed that the speaker of the House should have military transport," replied White House spokesman Tony Snow. "And so what is going on is that the Department of Defense is going through its rules and regulations and having conversations with the speaker about it. So Speaker Hastert had access to military aircraft and Speaker Pelosi will, too."

The White House deferred all questions about the size of the plane to the Pentagon.
It was the size (and amenities) of the plane, not secure transport for Speaker Pelosi or gender discrimination, which was the issue in the story of Nancy’s plane.

Once more from the ABC News story
There are four types of planes available at the 89th Airlift wing, at nearby Andrews Air Force Base - the C-20 Hastert once used, C-21s which are even smaller than the C-20 and thus not able to fly nonstop to San Francisco, and the fabled C-32. (That’s the jetliner that can take a couple of dozen congressional colleagues and “working” reporters from DC to Frisco and back for the weekend. – JinC.)

There is also the C-37A -- a military version of the Gulf Stream 5, which is about the same size as the C-20, but is able to fly nonstop to California. One military source who asked not to be identified says that it may be that Pelosi and her aides were shown a C-37A and didn't understand that it was different and more potent than a C-20 [which Hestert flew], since they look so similar.
Do you really think Pelosi and her aides couldn’t tell the difference between a C-32 jetliner and a C-37A which can carry about 12 passengers and is about the size of the plane Hastert used?

I hope you take a look at what I said in A "near upset" & "Nancy's plane" and then decide if I mischaracterized the truth.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Churchill Series - Oct. 19, 2007

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

Readers Note: Portions of this post first appeared in a Jan. 2006 series post.

Many Churchill fans don't know that for many years he owned a racing stable. What's more, he wasn't one of those celebrity owners who preen and eye the cameras while putting their feet in - oops - the wrong places. As with everything else he cared about, Churchill the race horse owner, was informed and "hands on."

Churchill's most successful horse was a grey, Colonist II. Churchill bought him against the advice of racing experts because he thought he saw something - a special determination - in Colonist that would make the horse "a winner."

Colonist proved Churchill right.

"This tough and indomitable grey horse has performed miracles," said one racing writer in 1950. "No horse in living memory has put up such a sequence of wins in good-class races in one season." Among the prestigious races Colonist won were The Winston Churchill Stakes and The Jockey Club Stakes.

As Colonist's racing days came to a close, his trainer reminded Churchill that Colonist would be very valuable as a stud horse. The trainer offered to arrange matters.

Churchill pondered a moment, then laughed and replied,

"To stud? And have it said that the Prime Minister of Great Britain is living on the immoral earnings of a horse?"
Churchill's official biographer, Martin Gilbert, does not say what ultimately happened to Colonist. We can wish the horse had a green old age.

I hope you all have a wonderful and winning weekend.

Martin Gilbert, Never Despair. (pgs. 488, 522, 524, 528, 563)

Piot, McCarthy, Starn & Nixon

Readers Note: If you're not familiar with Duke Professor Charles Piot's ad hominems directed at Brooklyn College Professor Robert KC Johnson, please read Where's Piot's "KC - Shut Up?


Professor Charles Piot
Duke University

Dear Professor Piot:

This email is in two parts: the first is a copy of an email I previously sent you to which you’ve not responded; the second demonstrates why it’s necessary you release the videotape of your Feb. 12 ad hominem delivered at a public forum on Duke’s West Campus and targeting Brooklyn College Professor Robert KC Johnson.

Part One: Email previously sent to Professor Piot.

Dear Professor Piot:

I first contacted you on February 13 of this year concerning a paper you read the previous night in the West Union Building on West Campus. Taping of your reading was not permitted and you didn't distribute print copies of your paper. I asked where I could link to your paper.

In an email response you explained: "I've promised my piece for publication in an academic journal, with the proviso that it not be published elsewhere beforehand. I'll certainly let you know when it comes out."

Your paper has now been published in Transforming Anthropology. It differs in significant respects from what I reported in posts last February based on notes taken during your reading.

For example, as you surely recall, you ended your Feb. 12 reading with: "KC - shut up and go back to teaching." I posted concerning it in PIOT HURT HIMSELF and sent you a link.

However, the Transforming Anthropology version of your paper omits your "KC - shut up and go back to teaching" statement.

Forum attendees were not permitted to tape your reading but there was, as you know, a videotape made by Duke AV people of it at the behest of the forum organizers.

I understand the videotape is now in the possession of the Department of African and African American Studies which has so far not made the tape available to the public despite requests that it do so.

I am requesting that you now make that tape publicly available at an internet site.

You accuse bloggers, especially KC, of McCarthyism.

Yet KC linked to your Transforming Anthropology article as part of his response to you. I'm sure he would have linked to the videotape of your paper reading had it been available.

But he can't.

You’ve given KC no chance to respond to the paper you read Feb. 12 which was the most vicious, and possibly slanderous, ad hominem I've ever heard one academic deliver against another in public.

You've done that by acting much like Senator McCarthy himself. Recall he made that speech in Wheeling, WV attacking "Communists in the State Department" but never produced the actual speech, and instead began offering versions of it.

Professor Piot, fairness demands you make the videotape available to KC and the rest of us.

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

Here’s a link to a post which includes this email as well as background concerning it:


John in Carolina

Part Two: Why Piot’s Tape Must Be Made Public

Professor Piot, if the request above hasn't persuaded you to release the tape, please consider the following:

For more than a year I’ve posted and corresponded concerning a false claim made by your colleague, Professor Orin Starn.

Professor Starn was the first person I contacted regarding his false claim. I asked him to correct it and apologize to the person whose statement Starn had misrepresented: Duke’s men’s basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Starn denied he’d misrepresented what Coach K had said. So I demonstrated for Starn and everyone else just what Starn had to do to misrepresent Coach K’s actual statement.

I did that by first linking to Coach K’s actual statement. Then I deliberately manipulated Coach K's words – rearranging some, eliminating others, etc - in order to create the bogus statement which Starn falsely claimed Coach K had made. Then I linked to Starn's false claim.

Everyone could see for him/herself what had happened.

That was fair and essential for people seeking to determine what Coach K actually said and what Professor Starn did.

But I couldn't have done it without access to the documents containing what each man said.

Please read Starn's Distortion & Duke's Standards. It contains links to the relevent documents and much more including an email from Starn in which he denies doing what he demonstrably did.

I'm confident KC Johnson will quickly refute many of the statements you made last Feb. 12.

But by your Nixonian refusal to release the tape, you've created a situation in which you were able to attack KC and but he has had no chance to view and hear your attack so he can respond.

That's not fair and it ought not to be happening at Duke.


John in Carolina

To N&O: Retract Sanchez Story

I’ve just sent the following electronic letter to Melanie Sill, executive editor for news at the liberal/leftist Raleigh News & Observer with a copy to the paper’s public editor, Ted Vaden.

Melanie Sill, executive editor for news
Raleigh News & Observer

Dear Melanie:

In his Oct. 12 luncheon address to military journalists and their editors, Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez devoted about half his speech to exposing and castigating journalists and news organizations for their partisan biases and false reporting of the Iraq War.

Among other things General Sanchez, a former commander of our troops in Iraq, said was this (full speech text in capitals):


It’s vitally important for Americans to know Sanchez believes that so strongly that he’d go before journalists and say it directly to them on the record, I’m sure expecting news organizations would be forced to report what he said.

But most news organizations, including the N&O, told Americans nothing about Sanchez’s statements concerning how pervasive partisan politics is in news reporting from Iraq, even to the point that it’s helping kill our troops.

Instead of giving readers a truthful report of Sanchez’s speech, you made no mention of his press criticism in your front-page, above the fold Oct. 13 story headlined:
Iraq a 'nightmare,' general says

A year after his retirement, Ricardo Sanchez, who led U.S. forces during the Abu Ghraib scandal, levels a broad, biting attack
Lest anyone doubt you reported his speech as anything other than a Bush-basher, here are the N&O's first two paragraphs:
In a sweeping indictment of the four-year effort in Iraq, the former top commander of American forces there called the Bush administration's handling of the war "incompetent" and said the result is "a nightmare with no end in sight."

Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, who retired in 2006 after being replaced in Iraq after the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal, blamed the Bush administration for a "catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan" and denounced the current addition of American forces as a "desperate" move that would not achieve long-term stability.
If the Bush administration had been charged with reporting the Sanchez speech to the public, and in a White House press release it had left out all criticism of the administration and included only those parts castigating the press and Congress, what would people have said?

That the administration was being dishonest. And they’d be right.

Then is the Raleigh News & Observer being anything other than dishonest when fails to mention Sanchez’s castigation of the press and instead “reports” a Bush-basher?

If the people who worked the Sanchez story for the N&O meant to report it honestly, can we agree they failed?

If the N&O is serious about being an honest newspaper, shouldn’t readers expect the N&O to retract and correct its Oct. 13 story?

If you care to take a look, I posted previously on your Sanchez "reporting" here.


John in Carolina

Cc. Ted Vaden

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Churchill Series – Oct. 18, 2007

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

Neville Chamberlain, Churchill’s predecessor as Prime Minister, died November 9, 1940 from stomach cancer. In the six months since he’d resigned the premiership, Chamberlain had given Churchill his full cooperation as Lord President of the Council. With great personal fortitude, Chamberlain had striven to serve the government until the very last days of his life.

Churchill was to deliver a political eulogy in the Commons. By November 1940 Britons knew that under Churchill’s leadership they had warded off invasion. They were beginning to realize they’d won the Battle of Britain. And two months into the Blitz they, were standing up to the Luftwaffe with a “we can take it” attitude.

In November 1940 Churchill’s personal popularity and political stock were very high. Chamberlain, on the other hand, was scorned as “the apostle of appeasement” and “the man of Munich.”

The House was expecting at best a pro-forma eulogy from Churchill, especially as the Members knew that beyond the expected political give and take, Chamberlain had been shabby, even rough, in his treatment of Churchill. Some members had even urged Churchill to use the occasion to remind the public of the great harm Chamberlain’s appeasement policies had done the country.

When Churchill rose in the House he began a warm, generous and admiring tribute to his predecessor, saying in part:

It fell to Neville Chamberlain in one of the supreme crises of the world to be contradicted by events, to be disappointed in his hopes, and to be deceived and cheated by a wicked man.

But what were these hopes in which he was disappointed?

What were these wishes in which he was frustrated? What was that faith that was abused?

They were surely among the most noble and benevolent instincts of the human heart – the love of peace, the toil for peace, the strife for peace, the pursuit of peace, even at great peril, and certainly to the utter disdain of popularity of clamor.

Whatever else history may or many not say about these terrible, tremendous years, we can be sure that Neville Chamberlain acted with perfect sincerity according to his lights and strove to the utmost of his capacity and authority, which were powerful, to save the world from the awful, devastating struggle in which we are now engaged.

This alone will stand him in good stead so far as what is called the verdict of history is concerned.(p.119)
Churchill was almost always quick to forgive and practice magnanimity.

I copied the excerpt from the eulogy from Steven F. Hayward’s Churchill on Leadership.(Forum, 1997)

A “near upset” & “Nancy’s plane.”

At his blog, Michael Barone, arguably America’s best analyst of election results, takes a look at the “near upset” and ol JinC asks about “Nancy’s plane.” Barone first:

Here are the election returns for Tuesday’s special election in the Fifth District of Massachusetts. Democrat Niki Tsongas beat Republican Jim Ogonowski 51 to 45 percent in a district in which John Kerry beat George W. Bush 57 to 41 percent. This probably counts as the “near upset” I suggested as a possibility in my U.S. News column for the week.

As I noted in an October 3 blog posting, a SurveyUSA poll taken in September showed Tsongas up 51 to 41 percent, and Democrats poured in celebrities—Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry—to help Tsongas essentially maintain that level of support.

Ogonowski evidently increased his support in the face of this onslaught. This is not the victory Republicans wistfully hoped for. But it was something like Democrat Paul Hackett’s near upset in the special election in August 2005 in Ohio’s heavily Republican Second District.

This is not necessarily a harbinger for the 2008 House elections. […]

Still, there may be some lessons here—as there were in the Ohio Second District result in 2005.

One: Ogonowski campaigned against Congress. This is the first time since 1994 that Republicans have been able to campaign against a Democratic Congress, and Congress’s job ratings are dismally low. […]

Two: Ogonowski campaigned on holding down taxes. This is an issue that has not worked for Republicans in a long time. I speculated in my column that it could change the votes of high earners who have been favoring Democrats on cultural issues.

This does not seem to have happened. Ogonowski actually ran even with or 1 to 3 percentage points behind Bush’s 2004 numbers in high-income, culturally liberal Boston suburbs in the southern part of the district: Wayland, Sudbury, Concord, Acton, and Harvard (an actual town, not near Cambridge).

Where he ran ahead of Bush was in the suburbs around Lowell and Lawrence, places with income levels somewhat lower (or at least that is my impression) but mostly above the national average. […].

This suggests to me that Ogonowski’s two leading substantive issues, taxes and immigration, cut significantly into the Democratic vote in middle-income areas while failing utterly to do so in the high-income suburbs. [...]

I was up in the district in late September and interviewed Tsongas and Ogonowski’s campaign manager. My impression was that Tsongas was running a 2006 campaign—vote against Bush, stop the war—that is in the process of being overtaken by events: Bush is leaving, and the surge is actually working.

Ogonowski, meanwhile, was running a 2007 campaign, raising issues like taxes and immigration that were not much emphasized in 2006.

The 2008 campaign, I think, will probably resemble 2007 more than 2006 and will be shaped as well by the two presidential nominees.

Since the 2006 election I have written that we are in a period of open-field politics. The Massachusetts Fifth’s special election seems to confirm that—and to indicate that past voting patterns may no longer be relevant and that there may be some unpleasant surprises—for Democrats but also quite possibly for Republicans, too
Barone’s entire post is here.

Now a few questions about “Nancy’s plane:”

Did Nancy Pelosi ever get the government to give her that plane she wanted when she became House Speaker?

It was a 737, right? Or was it a 777? Or was it another kind of jetliner?

But for sure it was a type in which she could “get some work done with staff” and make herself available to journalists “seeking background on legislation” as they flew with her from Washington to San Francisco for the weekend.

Were you surprised Madam Speaker demanded the citizens pay for the plane after she’d promised to eliminate “fat-cat” congressional perks?

Did you find yourself wondering why she didn't just asked George Soros, Bill Gates, Jay Rockerfeller and Duke’s BOT Chair Bob Steel to chip in for it? They could’ve paid for Nancy's plane without touching their next month's lunch money.

When Nancy began her reign as Speaker by demanding the taxpayers foot the bill for a jetliner, that was a tip-off the Dems’ congressional leadership might not earn much approval from the American people, wasn't it?

Duke, Dick & “Duh”

Elliot Wolf is a Duke senior who’s worked tirelessly to persuade the University to do more to assure all students are treated fairly. He also writes a weekly column for The Chronicle.

In today’s column Wolf says the University has discovered undergraduates need to be “developed.”

You may be thinking, “Of course, the arts and sciences, the search for truth, the traditional values of The Academy.”

But that’s not the kind of student development Wolf says Duke has in mind

Wolf explains:

[H]undreds of Student Affairs employees [are now] trained specifically to "develop" us. They are trained to nurture our "psychosocial and identity" needs, with respect to "cognitive-structural" considerations and "typology."
Wolf’s entire column is here. I’ll link to it again at the end of this post.

What follows are excerpts from Wolf’s column in italics and my comments in plain.

Just how is Duke “developing” students as it slogs through the fourth year of Dick Brodhead’s presidency?

[By using] the three major components of a rather obscure field called "student development theory," situated somewhere near the crossroads of sociology, psychology and babysitting.

Per a division-wide mandate instituted in 2004, most salaried employees in Student Affairs hold master's degrees that include training in student development theory, and for many it was the primary focus of their postgraduate education.

Its tenets have been cited as justification for the comical (but ultimately nauseating) state of undergraduate judicial policy, the policies surrounding whom Student Affairs can hire, the programs and services provided by Student Affairs and much more.

In a more gratuitous example of its application, Residence Life and Housing Services told Sigma Phi Epsilon to rename their "Dorm Wars" competition "Hall Brawl," because the word "Dorm" wasn't considered sufficiently welcoming.

Folks, what is it about PCers and Leftists such as those now dominant at Duke that they so often want to rename things that already have perfectly satisfactory names?

“Dorm” to “Hall” reminds me of what the Socialist government in Britain tried to do when it took power after WW II: use the term “housing accommodation units” for what had traditionally been called “homes.”

Back to Wolf and Duke:

So what is this "discipline?" What's so great about it that allows it to define the extracurricular relationship between the institution and its students?

As far as I can tell, it's not really a "discipline."[…]

After checking out 15 volumes on the subject from Perkins and scouring the Internet, I've reduced student development theory to two components: (1) tautology, or statements that are either repetitious of already widespread ideas or otherwise very obviously true, and (2) absurdity, or statements that simply don't make sense.

In other words, student development theory consists of the "duh... " and the "what!?!"

To demonstrate, each of the following quotes comes from a book, scholarly article or Web site on student development theory. Source references and additional quotes are posted at

On the "duh... “ side, student development theory stresses that, "on any number of campuses, on any given day, students engage in a variety of acts."

Recognizing that students are somewhat rational beings, one guide states, "satisfaction of one's own needs and occasionally the needs of others determine actions."

And as anyone who's been dumped can attest, "individuals seek acceptance and friendship among peers; adults seek a mate. Thwarted needs for belonging and love are considered to be a primary source of maladjustment."

Furthermore, "the pursuit of lifelong learning further extends the educational sphere into a person's entire life."

Indeed, and oranges are orange.

What’s more, they should never be confused with green apples, which are easily identified by their green skins.

At least that was the way it was when I was at Duke.

But I suppose all that may have changed because of what we’ve learned since we started looking at apples and oranges through the prisms of race, class, and gender.

Duke President Dick Brodhead has so far been unable to explain why he refused for months to meet with the lacrosse parents; and why he said nothing when their sons came under attack by Mike Nifong and certain Durham Police, Duke faculty and “rights activists.”

With Parents’ Weekend just two weeks away, I wonder what Brodhead is planning to tell parents about all the “duh” we now have at Duke.

Wolf’s entire column is here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Churchill Series – Oct. 17, 2007

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

In 1951 Churchill, age 76, published The Hinge of Fate, the fourth volume of his WW II memoirs. Reviews were on the whole very favorable. Here’s part of what The Times Literary Supplement said:

"It is a breathtaking book. To say that Mr. Churchill is a romantic, as immortally young as the hero of Treasure Island, is not to lose sight of the massive common sense of his judgment at the grimmest moments or his superhuman resilience in facing the ugliest facts squarely and taking tremendous decisions. It is rather to point at one deep source of his strength."
Churchill’s romanticism as a deep source of his strength.

That’s a wise observation we should remember when we hear people today talk disparagingly of it.

How can they do that?

I think at least part of the answer has to do with this: Almost all those disparaging Churchill’s romanticism have no first-hand knowledge of Churchill’s leadership during one of the world’s darkest and most dangerous times. The TLS critic did.

You’ll find the TLS quote in this Churchill Center document.

Pelosi Update & Questions

The "word on the street" tonight, Wednesday, is that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is looking for a quiet way to bury the Armenian genocide resolution she pledged on Sunday to bring to the House floor for a vote.

I've got some questions.

I understand what we'll call "the thinking on Wednesday night:" Pelosi's hearing from some Dem colleagues.

They're telling her they don't want to have to vote on the resolution. They wish she'd never pushed the matter. It's upset a critical ally, Turkey, which has recalled its ambassador and threatened to deny America the use Turkish facilities vital to supporting our troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So I understand why it's a sure bet now Pelosi will find a burying place for the resolution.

So much for Pelosi's thinking on Wednesday night.

But what was she thinking on Sunday, and before when she said she'd bring the Armenian resolution to the floor for a vote; and made it very clear she personally supported the resolution?

Everything that's happened since Sunday was very predictable. The Turks have warned before what they would do.

Pelosi’s had prior first hand experience with the matter. She and other Dems helped prevent a vote on a similar resolution when President Clinton was in office.

So what was Pelosi's thinking on Sunday?

Did Dems promise to support the resolution who are now backing down because they don't want to be seen as hurting our troops at war?

I'm at a lost to explain how Pelosi got herself into the mess she's trying to get out of tonight.

What do you think?

The N&O & the Russians.

Correction: Anon @ 8:33 noted the post I reference below was written by N&O deputy managing editor Steve Riley, not executive editor for news Melanie Sill.

I've corrected the post to reflect that and thank Anon for pointing out my error.

I responded further to Anon @ 8:33 on the thread.


Two editors of Russian newspapers and an interpreter from Moscow are visiting the Raleigh News & Observer this week. An N&O deputy managing editor, Steve Riley, explains the trio is at the N&O as part of a training program to “advance quality journalism.”

Riley also said this:

Journalists in Russia face many challenges: They have no legal right to information, and many media outlets are controlled by the government or seedy business interests. While here, the trio met with several reporters and editors about ways they can advance their work.
Riley’s entire post is here.

I’ve just left the following comment on the thread for N&O managing editor for news Melanie Sill, who's quoted in a previous comment.

Dear Melanie,

So Russian journalists “have no legal right to information, and many media outlets are controlled by the government or seedy business interests.”

I’m sorry for that, but tell them Americans face a very similar situation.

When General Sanchez recently castigated journalists for their politically biased and blatantly inaccurate reporting of the Iraq War, the N&O told readers nothing about it.



Sanchez, as you know, devoted half his speech to castigating journalists and news organizations.

Here’s the URL to the full text of Sanchez’s speech:

Here’s the URL to your front-page “report” of the speech:

Why not give the Russians printouts of both, and ask what they think?

If they can read Sanchez’s speech and your “report,” they’ll know just what kind of newspaper the N&O is.

You could then explain to them the N&O had no legal obligation to tell readers what Sanchez actually said.

Be sure to also tell them American news organizations regularly withhold important news from the public while propagandizing much of the news that is reported.

It will help the Russians understand just how seedy an American newspaper can be if you tell them that for thirteen months the N&O withheld the news, of vital interest to all fair-minded readers and exculpatory for the lacrosse players, that Crystal Mangum had told the N&O the other dancer had also been raped at the Duke lacrosse party and would do anything for money.

Ask the Russian editors if they do things like that?

Or is that the kind of news suppression and manipulation of the public their government does?

Come to think of it, what the N&O did was far worse than “seedy.” It was downright dishonest reporting and very cruel to David Evans, Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and their families.

Melanie, please tell the Russians for me and most Americans that we hope someday they’ll have the press freedoms MSM has here; and that if they ever get them, we hope they’ll use them with a greater respect for fairness and accuracy then our media does here.


John in Carolina

PS – Is there any chance you’ll show the translator this comment?

Profs Refute Coleman-Kasibhatla

On October 5 The Chronicle published a letter from Duke School of Law Professor James Coleman and Professor Prasad Kasibhatla of Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences in which the professors complained of

“a recurring theme advanced by critics like [National Journal Columnist Stuart] Taylor and [historian, blogger and Brooklyn College Professor Robert KC ] Johnson that the faculty at Duke and at other universities are increasingly a bunch of ideologues who care less about the their students and more about promoting their own extremist agendas.”
Today we learn Duke’s John Hope Franklin Institute is inviting Duke professors to apply for faculty fellowships for the 2008-2009 academic year. The six recipients will each receive a two-course workload reduction. The theme: “The Alternative Political Imaginaries.”

KC Johnson tells us:
The co-directors [are]Group of 88 member Michael Hardt and Women’s Studies/”clarifying” professor Robyn Wiegman. Wiegman is best known for lobbing intellectually unsustainable allegations of racism against Steve Baldwin and for announcing that presuming the lacrosse players’ guilt wasn’t a “crime.”

The program’s wording is arrestingly blunt, even for the Group of 88 and their campus allies.
KC then offers some excerpts from the program (italics KC’s):
The humanities have come to be characterized in recent decades by an overarching concern for politics, from the politics of cultural practices and knowledge production to political issues more traditionally conceived, such as state power, social movements, public policy, and law. As a result, almost all humanities scholarship is now considered political in one sense or another, whether it names its political intention or not . . .

Although our investigation of alternative political imaginaries will be wide ranging, we have a specific investment in using this topic to rethink whatwe see as the predominant way in which humanities research approaches politics today, namely critique: the critique of commodity culture, representational practices, colonial thought, patriarchal structures, tyrannical regimes, racial hierarchies, sexual normativities, and so forth.

Such critical practices generally seek to unmask domination and speak truth to power with the implicit belief that doing so will undermine and topple its control . . . We sense, however, that a search is already underway within the humanities for alternative political imaginaries that will enable producing not just different affects but different itineraries for political scholarship and action . . .

Fellowship proposals from Duke faculty members should include . . . your teaching goals and the ways in which your participation in the seminar might support your work in the classroom.
What was that Coleman and Kasithatla were saying?

No one’s surprised when Group of 88-types go after Johnson or Taylor.

But who knew some of them were planning to pull the rug out from under Coleman and Kasibhatla? I didn't.

And it’s not even two weeks since their letter was published!

Wouldn’t you think that in appreciation for what Coleman and Kasibhatla tried to do, the faculty ideologues would’ve waited a decent interval – say a semester or two - before offering such strong evidence of just what Johnson, Taylor and many others have been saying?

I hope you read KC’s post.

If you know Duke Trustees, send them a link and ask them why so often now at Duke ideology trumps scholarship?

That isn’t good for Duke or America.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Churchill Series – Oct. 16, 2007

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

On June 3, 1951 Churchill, then 76, had as his luncheon guests at Chartwell the American Ambassador, Walter Gifford, and President Truman’s daughter, Margaret, to whom he gave a painting for the President.

In Never Despair (Houghton Mifflin& Co., 1988) Churchill’s biographer, Martin Gilbert, tells us some of what followed:

[Shortly thereafter Churchill wrote to “My dear Harry,”]

"This picture was hung in the [Royal] Academy last year, and is about as presentable as anything I can produce. It shows the beautiful panorama of the Atlas Mountains from Marrakech.

This is the view that I persuaded your predecessor to see before he left North Africa after the Casablanca Conference. He was carried to the top of a high tower, and a magnificent sunset was duly in attendance."

“I can’t find words adequate,” Truman replied, “to express my appreciation of the beautiful picture of the Atlas Mountains, painted by you. I shall treasure that picture as long as I live and it will be one of the most valued possessions I will be able to leave to Margaret when I pass on.”(p. 615)
Truman, who greatly admired Churchill and had a keen sense of history, no doubt treasured the picture; and appreciated better than most that when he passed it to Margaret, he’d be leaving her a work with a priceless historical provenance.

But did he ever think the painting today, if in good condition, would be worth well more than a million dollars as the prices of Churchill’s paintings at auctions continue to skyrocket?

A suit, two stories & a slime

This is a 1,2, 3 post.

1 – The Raleigh News & Observer’s story of the recent filing of a suit on behalf of former Duke coach Mike Pressler against the University

2 – The Durham Herald Sun’s story of the same suit filing.

3 – Some brief commentary.

1 - From the N&O under Anne Blythe’s byline:

Mike Pressler, the Duke University men's lacrosse coach fired amid the 2006 rape allegations, has filed suit against the university despite a settlement agreement reached in the spring.

In the complaint filed in Durham on Friday, Pressler alleges that Duke's chief spokesman made disparaging remarks about him to a New York newspaper after the settlement was reached, comments that violated the agreement.

Neither Pressler nor his lawyer, Jay Trehy of Raleigh, could be reached for comment Friday night.

After learning that the suit was filed, Pamela Bernard, Duke's vice president and general counsel, promised to fight the claim.

"Mr. Pressler, aided by his attorney, reached a fair and final financial agreement with Duke University in the spring of 2007," Bernard said in a statement issued late Friday. "We are disappointed that he is now trying to undo that agreement with an unfounded claim against Duke. We will address the matter through the legal process and insist on honoring our existing agreement."

The details of Duke's settlement with Pressler were not disclosed in the spring. Pressler was fired amid allegations that three members of his 2006 Duke team gang-raped an exotic dancer.

Pressler is now the head lacrosse coach at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., an NCAA Division II school.

He spent 16 seasons at Duke building a powerhouse team that won three Atlantic Coast Conference championships, earned 10 NCAA tournament berths and made an appearance in the 2005 NCAA Division I championship game.

Since losing his job, Pressler has spent much time crisscrossing the country promoting his book, "It's Not About the Truth: The Untold Story of the Duke Lacrosse Case and the Lives It Shattered."

The book was Pressler's first extensive comments about a sexual assault case that crumbled.

2 – From the H-S under Ray Gronberg’s byline:

Former Duke men's lacrosse coach Mike Pressler filed suit against the university this week, alleging that the school violated the terms of a confidential settlement arising from his forced resignation last year.

Pressler and his attorneys allege that Duke violated the agreement by allowing university spokesman John Burness to twice make comments disparaging the former coach.

One of the comments appeared in an April 9 article published in Newsday, a New York newspaper. It quoted Burness as saying that coaches are responsible for the behavior of their teams and that the difference between Pressler and his successor, current lacrosse coach John Danowski, was "night and day."

The other comment appeared in a June 7 Associated Press article and quoted Burness as saying that after the controversy sparked by what proved to be false rape allegations lodged against three team members, a coaching change was essential so the team could move forward.

Pressler's lawsuit -- filed Thursday in state Superior Court in Durham -- alleges that Duke officials have made other defamatory and disparaging comments about him since the March settlement. It asks a judge to void the deal and hold a jury trial on the former coach's wrongful-termination claim.

Duke officials say they will fight.

"Mr. Pressler, aided by his attorney, reached a fair and final financial agreement with Duke University in the spring of 2007," university General Counsel Pamela Bernard said. "We are disappointed that he is now trying to undo that agreement with an unfounded claim against Duke. We will address the matter through the legal process and insist on honoring our existing agreement."

Pressler coached Duke's men's lacrosse from 1990 until his ouster on April 5, 2006.
He lost his job after a stripper accused three of his players of raping her. The allegations were false, and state Attorney General Roy Cooper later exonerated the three players, David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann.

Pressler has maintained that his ouster -- officially a resignation -- was a public-relations ploy by the university.

He was forced out the same day that Durham court officials released a search warrant targeting another player, Ryan McFadyen, who after last year's ill-fated team party sent team members an e-mail saying they should hold another party, invite strippers and then kill and skin them.

Supporters of the players have said the e-mail was not a threat, but instead a joke based on a Bret Easton Ellis novel called "American Psycho" that was assigned reading in classes taken by several lacrosse players.

But school President Richard Brodhead responded by canceling the team's season, announcing Pressler's ouster and ordering an investigation of the team.

Conducted by a committee co-chaired by Duke Law School professor James Coleman, the investigation subsequently found that the lacrosse team's disciplinary record was "noticeably worse than the records of all other athletic teams" at Duke, although its transgressions were minor and usually alcohol-related.

It was clear that "responsible senior leadership on the part of team captains [was] too often missing," and that players who voiced "deep respect and admiration" for Pressler nonetheless defied him, the committee said.

But Coleman's committee also found that senior administrators in Duke's student affairs and athletic departments did little to warn the coach when players were accused of misconduct. On the few occasions they did, Pressler disciplined his charges. Sanctions often required extra running from players, but occasionally included game suspensions.

Pressler's lawsuit -- filed by Raleigh attorneys Jerome Trehy Jr., Donald Strickland and Jesse Rigsby -- said Duke officials conceded last June that they had ousted him "without cause." The two sides subsequently negotiated a confidential settlement.

News of the deal emerged in June. Burness' comments to AP staff writer Aaron Beard appeared in a story reporting it. The full quote attributed to Burness was, "Coach Pressler is an excellent coach and did a great job building the Duke men's lacrosse program. Unfortunately, last spring it was essential for the team to have a change of leadership in order to move forward."

The Newsday story was an April 9 column by sportswriter Steven Marcus. The full text is no longer available online, but excerpts indicate that Burness told Marcus, "One of the things we certainly have come to understand in this case is that the coaches in general in each of our sports are responsible for the behavior of their teams."

The excerpts also include the "night and day" comparison of Pressler and Danowski.
Pressler's lawyers couldn't be reached for comment. His lawsuit is the second in as many weeks filed in connection with the lacrosse case.

Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann on Oct. 5 filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the city, police, former District Attorney Mike Nifong and two officials with a DNA lab they accuse of conspiring with Nifong to hide exculpatory evidence.

The three players have already reached a confidential settlement with Duke University.

Commentary: At the risk of inviting a lawsuit, I’ll go ahead and say the differences between the N&O and H-S stories are “night and day.”

H-S reporter Gronberg dug and worked the story to get facts and let readers hear from both parties; Blythe took what Duke "handed" her.

Blythe was one of two N&O reporters bylined on the paper’s March 24 and 25, 2006 stories which repeatedly said the then anonymous accuser Crystal Mangum was the victim. The March 25 “anonymous interview” story was deliberately fraudulent. Among other things it promulgated the falsehood the players were refusing to cooperate with police while withholding news the N&O had that they in fact were cooperating.

And what did you think of the closing words of the Blythe/N&O story: “Pressler's first extensive comments about a sexual assault case that crumbled?”

But there never was a sexual assault case that crumbled, was there?

Allowing that Blythe has a bias against the Duke lacrosse players she did so much to publicly and falsely trash and frame, wouldn’t you think some editor at the N&O would've said to her: “Sorry, Anne, we can’t slime the players anymore. Let’s end your story with something like: ‘Pressler’s first extensive comments concerning a case in which the Attorney General declared the players innocent and the district attorney was disbarred and jailed.’”

Why didn't any of the N&O editors who worked Blythe's story do that?

The H-S's Gronberg has done a lot of very good reporting lately. I’ll be linking to some of his stories later this week.

Hat tips to Gronberg and his metro editor, Dan Way.

There’s more I could say, but you deserve a turn.

On Sanchez, The N&O Deceived Us

Readers Note: Portions of this post are cut and paste from a copy of General Sanchez's speech which was all in capital letters.

Across the top of the McClatchy Company’s liberal/leftist Raleigh News & Observer’s October 13 front-page ran the headline:

Iraq a 'nightmare,' general says

A year after his retirement, Ricardo Sanchez, who led U.S. forces during the Abu Ghraib scandal, levels a broad, biting attack
The N&O’s story began:
In a sweeping indictment of the four-year effort in Iraq, the former top commander of American forces there called the Bush administration's handling of the war "incompetent" and said the result is "a nightmare with no end in sight."

Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, who retired in 2006 after being replaced in Iraq after the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal, blamed the Bush administration for a "catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan" and denounced the current addition of American forces as a "desperate" move that would not achieve long-term stability.
There’s a lot more in the story. It all flows nicely with the opening paragraphs.

The entire N&O story is here.

But nowhere in its report of Sanchez’s speech (full text here), delivered Oct. 12 at the Military Reporters and Editors luncheon in Washington, did the N&O tell readers Sanchez said to the journalists:

About half of Sanchez speech was like that: sharp criticism of unscrupulous reporting of the Iraq War by many journalists and news organizations.

A trustworthy newspaper would have told us that. The N&O didn't

Here’s more of what Sanchez said:



Even if you’re a Democrat who worries that if America succeeds in Iraq it could be good for Republicans, don’t you think the N&O should have reported at least some of Sanchez blistering exposure of so much of MSM's Iraq War “reporting?”

Especially this:

Don’t you agree the Bush-hating, types at the N&O should have at least reported General Sanchez said some journalists’ and news organizations’ partisan politics “are destroying our country and killing our service members who are at war?”

Sometimes I ask myself whether I’m too hard on the N&O and other such MSM news organizations.

But the N&O’s deliberate deception concerning what Sanchez actually said, which deception most other MSM news organizations also engaged in, leaves me thinking I’m not too hard on the N&O and other news organizations whose actions are, as General Sanchez says, "destroying our country and killing our service members.”

I’ll send N&O executive editor for news Melanie Sill and public editor Ted Vaden links to this post and invite their responses.

Both Sill and Vaden tell readers the N&O observes the very highest of ethical journalism and that its news reporting is fair and accurate. There are many devoted N&O readers who believe that.

You'll get a good idea of their journalism ethics and what they mean by fair and accutate if read the N&O's story here and General Sanchez's speech here.

Americans who want this country to survive and our troops to have as much protection as possible need to do things to lessen the influence of MSM and get the truth out there.

In the coming days I’ll be posting about things we can do to help make that happen.

The Sanchez story reminds of of how urgent and important that task is.

Hat tip: Mike Williams

An independent review at Duke?

In today’s Chronicle, Lee Hamel (Duke ’62), a former federal prosecutor who specializes in white-collar crime litigation calls for an independent review of what is now widely seen as Duke’s bungled response to the lies of Crystal Mangum, Mike Nifong and DPD.

Here, IMO, are the money grafs from Hamel’s column, followed by some commentary:

How does this great University deal with similar problems that may occur in the future? President Brodhead has proposed hosting a national conference of educators, lawyers and student affairs leaders "to discuss best practices in this field."

This endeavor may be helpful to develop "best practices" for universities in general, but it will not get to the heart of the matter-Duke needs a clear factual assessment and recommendation to guide the administration and Trustees in the future. While policy must ultimately come from the Trustees, such policy should not be based on an introspective study by those who participated in the affair or a "best practices" national symposium.

If the Trustees seek an unbiased filter through which to examine the events to which they were a party, they should appoint an independent commission to study the case.

The root cause of the evil resulting in the lacrosse athletes' indictments was a lying alleged victim and a corrupt district attorney-for which Duke's leadership cannot be blamed.

But the administration's reaction to the allegations denied the lacrosse athletes their right to fair treatment by the University, whose power exercised over them and over the lacrosse team's coach and season appeared judgmental-words of presumed innocence notwithstanding. Exacerbating this conduct was the administration's admitted failure to distance the University from the ad signed by 88 faculty members, which, most charitably put, prejudged the athletes' guilt. […]

We should support an independent review of the judgments of the administration and Trustees in the Lacrosse Affair. It is highly likely such a review will provide insights and proposals that would never occur to those who were involved. Hopefully a policy will emerge that will serve the University's interests as well as the presumption of innocence due its students in word and deed.
When Hamel says “such policy should not be based on an introspective study by those who participated in the affair or a "best practices" national symposium,” he’s referring to plans President Brodhead’s announced September 29 to applause from trustees and senior administrators. This from Brodhead’s statement that day (scroll down):
My colleagues in the Duke administration are going over all our procedures to see what we can learn from our experience. But these are complex questions, and they aren’t ones Duke can or should hope to solve on its own. To work through these difficulties and see that their lessons are learned not only here but around the country, we will be hosting a national conference of educators, lawyers and student affairs leaders to discuss best practices in this important field,
What Brodhead’s promising amounts to a fox telling a farmer he and his senior fox colleagues will examine all the farmer’s “procedures to see what we can learn” about why his chickens keep disappearing.

The administrators and trustees who developed and implemented Duke’s response to the Hoax shouldn’t be the ones to assess their own bungled response. Instead, they should fully and publicly explain what they did and didn’t do during the Hoax.

A year and a half after the “CASTRATE” banner crowd shouted threats at white Duke students and “activists” on campus circulated “Vigilante” posters targeting those same students, we still have no explanation from President Brodhead or BOT Chair Steel for their silence when the students were threatened and endangered.

John Burness and the faculty Group of 88 may not need explanations for Brodhead’s and Steel’s silences in the face of dangers to students created by the “CASTRATE” and “Vigilante” crowds and other equally shocking failures, but most of us in Duke community and others do. What’s more, we’re entitled to explanations.

A comprehensive, independent study of Duke’s response to the Hoax is clearly needed.

Message to Lee Hamel: I hope your column starts a robust discussion among Dukies and others concerning an independent commission’s make-up and charge.

Thanks for your column.

Hamel's entire column is here.

JinC Readers, what do you think?

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Churchill Series - Oct. 15, 2007

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

Readers Note: The following post was first published in April 2006. Since then many readers have come to the series who likely missed it and those of you who read it on "the first go" may appreciate taking a second look at how Churchill managed what I consider the first great crisis in his life.


John Strange Spencer Churchill, Winston’s only brother and sibling, was born Feb. 4, 1880, in Dublin, Ireland, where the boys’ father, Lord Randolph, was serving as Vice-Regent.

Sixty-five years later, Churchill recalled the day: “I remember my father coming into my bedroom at Vice-Regal Lodge in Dublin and telling me (aged 5), ‘You have a little brother.’”

Shortly thereafter, the family returned to England. The boys’ parents were indifferent to their emotional needs and often away, even at Christmas. Or, if they were at home, they often arranged for the boys to stay elsewhere, lest they distract the Churchill’s from their political and social pursuits.

But Winston and Jack were not totally denied the kind of care and attention parents owe their children. They received it from a servant: their nanny, Ann Elizabeth Everest.

“My nurse was my confidante, Churchill later wrote. “Mrs. Everest it was who looked after me and tended all my wants. It was to her I poured out my many troubles.”

Everest had been employed when Winston was a baby. As a toddler he began calling her “Woom,” and would continue doing so throughout his life.

With Jack’s birth Woom was no longer just “Winnie’s nanny;” she became “the boys’ nanny.” Everest gave Jack the same deep affection and care she gave Winston.

Jack’s birth and Woom’s care, really love, for him confronted Churchill with the first great crisis of his life.

A five year old can be very angry and resentful when a sib arrives. Often, those emotions are directed savagely at parents, cherished caregivers and/or the sib. They can last a person’s whole life.

But a five year old can also take on a “big brother, big sister” role, “helping” parents or caregivers nurture the new sib.

We know how Winston resolved his crisis. Whatever anger or resentment he may have felt toward his parents, “Woom” and Jack, must have been slight and well-repressed. Historians and documents I’ve read note no change in Winston’s feelings or behavior toward “Woom” following Jack’s birth. What we know of the brothers’ relationship in their early years suggests it was then as it was during their adult years: warm, affectionate and caring; in a word: loving.

A five year old who resolves a great crisis in the way Churchill did has taken a long stride toward confident, caring adulthood. He’s beginning to learn that what he holds most dear may be threatened but that he has within himself the resources to master such threats and preserve what’s most dear.

The old expression comes to mind: “The child is father to the man.”
Churchill's recollection of his father telling him of Jack's birth is found in Martin Gilbert's Churchill: A Life (p. 2). This post draws on that work, John Keegan's Winston Churchill, and Speaking for Themselves: The Personal Letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill (Mary Soames, Editor) for background.

The discussion regarding Jack’s birth as a crisis and Winston's resolution of it is my responsibility.

The Chronicle, Pressler's Suit, & a Question

The Chronicle editorializes today concerning the lawsuit recently filed on behalf of former Duke lacrosse coach Mike Pressler. The editorial follows in full, after which I make a few comments and ask a question concerning the suit filing. I hope someone will answer the question. It concerns an important matter.

Now The Chronicle editorial:

Former Duke men's lacrosse head coach Mike Pressler's recently filed lawsuit against Duke marks yet another chapter in the seemingly unending judicial process that has followed the lacrosse case.

Pressler's attorneys seek to void the financial settlement reached last March between Pressler and the University because they claim it was violated when John Burness, senior vice president for public affairs and government relations, made disparaging comments about Pressler. In a press release from University Counsel Pam Bernard, the University seems confident in its ability to defend against the lawsuit.

Although the University has sustained much criticism for the numerous lawsuits recently filed against it, we have learned all too well that we cannot rush to judge Pressler or the University as details of the settlement are confidential. This board awaits new information to come to light to evaluate this highly sensitive case.

Indeed, at this point, we know very little about this suit in particular and don't pretend to know much about the intricate legal processes at play. We need to give both the University and Pressler's attorneys time to present their arguments before reaching conclusions.
I left the following comment on the thread of the editorial post:
To the editorial board:

I'd like to commend you for a well-writen and very sensible editorial.

It's a service to the Duke community.


John in Carolina
I’ve read the filing once and press accounts concerning it.

I plan to post today or tomorrow on the press accounts – look for a post: “One suit, two stories.”

Now a question I want to ask those of you who are attorneys or particularly knowledgeable regarding filings in suits of the type Pressler is bringing.

In the filing (available here in pdf form) Duke is ID’ed as “the defendant” and John Burness as “the official spokesperson.”

The filing contains a number of numerated paragraphs in which specific statements by “the official spokesperson” are cited.

Up through paragraph 22 “the official spokesman” is the only person cited as having made statements which Pressler’s attorneys assert breached the agreement with Duke.

Then paragraph 22:
22 - Upon information and belief, the defendant, acting through its official spokesman, agents, employees and representatives, has made about Coach Pressler additional defamatory and disparaging statements that breach an essential and dependent covenant of the Confidential Agreement.
The filing doesn’t cite particular statements it asserts Duke’s “official spokesman, agents, employees and representatives” made “that breach an essential and dependent covenant of the Confidential Agreement.”

My question: Is 22 a kind of “any and all, now and forever” boiler plate statement used as a contingency in the event discovery reveals that others besides Burness made statements which Pressler’s attorneys would assert breached the Confidential Agreement; or does 22 indicate Pressler's attorneys are in possession of what they believe are statements made by others at Duke besides Burness which the attorneys will assert breached the Confidential Agreement?

None of the press reporting of the filing has mentioned 22 or addressed the question I’m asking.

I hope someone can help with the answer.

The most comprehensive coverage so far of the Pressler suit has been provided by The Johnsville News here and here. It was at TJN I found the pdf link to the filing. If you, like me, sometimes have trouble with pdf documents, TJN has the full text of the filing in this post.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Clinton’s Watermelon Postcard

Folks, before reading the rest of this post, I encourage you to take a look a racially insensitive postcard former President William Jefferson Clinton, then a college student, sent his grandmother in 1966, three years after Dr. King’s memorable “I Have a Dream” speech.

I’ll wait while you go view the postcard and read background information concerning it here.

It’s quite something, isn’t it?

The postcard’s a reminder of how open and pervasive racism was then. We can argue whether since 1966 America’s made genuine progress in how it views and treats blacks (I think there’s been considerable progress), but there’s no doubt the racism that exist’s now is less openly practiced.

As for Clinton sending such a card while he was in college, I’m inclined to see it as more sophomoric and insensitive than racist.

What do you think?

And how will MSM, “civil rights groups,” and “the Democartic-base” will treat this?

The answer’s easy, isn’t it?

Not the way they would if the postcard had been sent by President Bush or any of the leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination while they were in college.

If that had happened, we’d already be hearing and reading about “a firestorm of outrage,” with NAACP condemnations , editorials, Chris Matthews and Harry Reid expressing “shock” and demanding “an immediate apology and explanation,” and the Revs. being the Revs.

But Bill’s a Democrat, so even if the Revs angle for a little “camera time,” there won’t be much of a fuss.

As of 3 P. M. Eastern on 10/14, the NY Post is the only news organization at reporting the story.

The Post put the story on the net early this morning.

If MSM-Dem news organizations such as the NYT, CBS, NPR, and WaPo wanted to cover the story, there’d be reporting it by now.

I think if the story is going to get much MSM attention, bloggers will have to have to push it out there.

Faking Comments

She’s shut it down since, but last June Raleigh News & Observer Columnist Ruth Sheehan had a blog, and she posted complaining about all the critical comments she was getting in response to her columns savaging the Duke lacrosse players and demanding their season be cancelled and their coach fired. Sheehan said the worst of the emails were coming from “Duke” people.

Shortly after Sheehan posted her whine, I emailed her and called this comment to her attention:

Hi Ruth,

Do you know John in Carolina?

A Phi Beta Kappa at 12, John became the youngest member of the Apollo 11 crew. It was John who pried open the stuck lunar lander’s door, thus enabling Neil Armstrong to take his historic moon walk.

John later won 9 gold medals at the 1992 Olympics, and went on to believe everything he reads in the N&O.


a friend
You can read more about it all here.

The comment’s a fake, of course, that I wrote to make two points: commenters aren’t necessarily who they say they are; and they don't necessarily believe what they say.

I just copied the following comment from the thread for Ken Larrey’s outstanding Chronicle letter noting significant shortcomings in President Brodhead’s “apology” for Duke’s mistreatment of the students and families most victimized by Nifong/DPD and their enablers at Duke. The commenter self-describes as “staff” :
Let me make this clear for you.

They chose that moment because that is the moment, after the lacrosse event, when the racist loonies went after black students on campus and threatened their safety. It is called a 1:1 correspondence. Lubians (sic) email was a response to what the lacrosse incident caused to happen to black students. And the 88 signers focused on students who were being verbally assaulted on campus RATHER THAN comment on the three boys who were the focus of everybody else. Do you think the faculty should only care about some students but not others? Why are you so interested in pretending these other students do not exist? Why aren't they important to protect?

Is it because...?

Had the lacrosse incident not happened, the apparent racism might have stayed under covers. Hurrah to the 88 who reminded the rest of you that Duke's students were under attack.
Is “staff” really trying to make a case for the 88? Or is “staff” ridiculing the 88 and reminding us of what they and others at Duke actually did?

“Staff’s” presentation of events is so erroneous, it’s laughable. It was white students who were targeted by a hate-filled crowd waving a “Castrate” banner. The “Vigilante” poster contains photos of forty-three Duke students; all of them white.

Black Duke students weren’t sleeping in their cars for fear of their safety while Durham’s DA and its Police spokesperson repeatedly incited the Duke and Durham communities with public statements saying they’d committed “horrific” crimes.

Yes, “Lubians” is a misspelling, but if Professor Lubiano or anyone else points that out, it will only remind us all of her chronically “forthcoming” books. Do you think "staff" thought of that?

Look at those last two sentences:
Had the lacrosse incident not happened, the apparent racism might have stayed under covers. Hurrah to the 88 who reminded the rest of you that Duke's students were under attack.
Duke’s response to the “lacrosse incident,” including the 88’s ad and subsequent statements, has, to borrow the words of President Brodhead, “brought to glaring visibility” Duke’s two-race standard.

I’ll give the Duke faculty Group of 88 and others at Duke an “hurrah” for unintentionally reminding us Duke treated white students in ways it would never treat black students.

Now who is “staff?”

A gifted satirist perhaps?

Or a very sincere Women’s Studies/Cultural Anthropology double major who “really, really” thinks the Group of 88 is “awesome;" and whose name just happens to be “staff?”

I reported and reminded. You decide.