Saturday, January 12, 2008

Best blogger with fewest readers?

In my limited blog world experience, it's David Boyd.

Here's a sample post:

The apple nearest the tree


I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers – I will be true to them and to my beliefs. Some believe that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy. If they are right, so be it.

But I think they underestimate the American people. Americans do not respect believers of convenience.
But what could be more convenient than having the same beliefs as one's 'fathers?'

Folks, I hope you give David a look.

And if you do, make sure you don't skip these posts: What hell must be like, Evan Williams Single Barrell, and Fear no one.

David Boyd's just a click away here.

Remember the Clintons?

At former Bush staffer Karen Hughes thinks we do and believes that's Hillary's biggest problem.

Hughes says - - -

[…] Clinton's biggest message problem is not merely the fact that she finds herself on the wrong side of the change-versus-experience divide.

Her biggest problem is that the experience she's touting is exactly the experience that many voters want to change. The authoress of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" charge is not the candidate to bring left and right together and bridge the hyper-partisan divides of Washington.

Yet that's the Hillary Clinton that her campaign has been evoking.

She has rooted her message of experience not in her work in the Senate, or her legal career, or her passion for progress on a few core issues, but on the royal "we" of the Clinton presidency.

She was a part of everything, she insists, from health care to foreign policy. To drive the point home, her campaign sent former President Clinton out virtually full-time on the campaign trail across Iowa and New Hampshire.

The signature photograph from the Clinton campaign on the day the Iowa caucuses fired the starting gun of the 2008 campaign was not Senator Clinton engaging with voters, but the Clinton couple, Hillary and Bill, having lunch together.

It's probably not fair, but politics is about perception, and for all but the most committed Democratic voters, watching the Clintons together places our experiences with them in a negative and partisan light.

With his presidency almost eight years in the rear-view mirror, I can see former President Clinton today and think of the good, bipartisan work he did with former President George H.W. Bush to raise money to help the people of Indonesia after the tsunami. I can appreciate his efforts to reform welfare, or admire his ability to connect with audiences.

But when I see the Clintons together, I see a parade of images from impeachment to Monica to Ken Starr that are reminders of Washington at its partisan worst, with Hillary as a harsh and accusatory player.

She only underscores this with her frequent complaint — really a reminder — that she's taken "incoming fire." […]

The rest of Karen Hughes column is here.

Folks, you know we need to be careful when people assess what we're doing and point out our weaknesses. Maybe they’re right; maybe they’re not.

We have to be especially careful when we’re in polictics and the person doing the assessing, in this case Karen Hughes, is a long-time opponent of Hillary Clinton’s from the other party.

That said, I think Hughes has Hillary in sharp focus and is offering some useful advice.

I also like the fact that, IMO, Hughes’ column is free of cheap partisan shots.

Instapundit Used "Net power"

When print journalists tell readers "my column today looks at how bloggers stack up against professional journalist backed by editors and respected news organizations," they almost never mention the updating and corrective "power" the Internet makes available to both bloggers and journalists.

In the post that follows, Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds blogging provides an example of how updating and corrective "Net power" serves fact-seeking readers.

Then, below the star line, I add a few comments.


From Instapundit - - -

RON PAUL RESPONDS TO HIS CRITICS ON CNN. But: "67% of blacks are in prison"? Surely that's not what he meant to say. Are 67% of prisoners black? I don't think that could be it.

UPDATE: Nope: "Although blacks account for only 12 percent of the U.S. population, 44 percent of all prisoners in the United States are black." Bad enough, but I don't see how that could be the source of his number.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Kevin Jones emails: "Have you considered the possibility that Paul said '6 to 7 percent' rather than '67 percent'? That still might be an inaccurate figure, but it's at least a little more plausible!" Yeah, but I replayed the video and it's pretty clearly 67%. You can listen for yourself -- it's at about 3:05 - 3:09.

MORE: Reader Brian Macker emails:

Ron Paul brought up 67% in context of drug war. He is using this statistic:

"Thirty-seven percent of drug-offense arrests are black; 53 percent of convictions are of blacks; and 67 percent -- two-thirds of all people imprisoned for drug offenses -- are black."

From here:

I don't think he's a racist. All the "evidence" seems to have innocuous explanations.

Well, the "innocuous" explanation is that Paul let people publish crap under his name and didn't care enough to read it so long as the money came in. Is that something we want in a President, or even a serious candidate?

As reader Corinna Cohn emails: "I really like Dr. Paul and I still plan on voting for him in the Nevada caucus, but what really bothers me about that interview is his attitude of, 'How can you hold me responsible? It was the editor's responsibility; I'm just the publisher.' Not a very 'buck stops here' type of attitude for someone who wants to be Commander-in-Chief." Nope.

STILL MORE: Reader Scott Adcox emails: "Looks like he may have gotten that number by prepping for the debate tonight. In SOUTH CAROLINA, blacks make up 67% of the prison population, at least they did in 2003." He's right -- it's at the link with the 44% figure above; if you scroll down you can see it broken down by states and South Carolina has the 67.2% percentage for black inmates.


A few comments:

"Net power" makes possible more fact-based discussions about "race in America" and other important subjects.

That can only be bad for demagogues and good for democracy.

"Nat power" exposed Dan Rather and 60 Minutes bogus Texas Air National Guard story.

"Net power" proved John Kerry did tell his Senate colleagues he'd spent "Christmas in Cambodia."

And on it goes.

Now, folks, it’s your turn to use "Net power."

Your comments, please.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Churchill Series - Jan. 11, 2008

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

Vanity Fair's July 10, 1900 issue contained a character sketch of one of the heroes of the Boer War, twenty-five year old Winston Churchill.

On publication date, Churchill was aboard ship returning to England from South Africa. Once ashore in England he planned to start work on two books and a campaign for a seat in Parliament.

Churchill's son and biographer, Randolph Churchill, shares this from the Vanity Fair sketch:

(Churchill) is a clever fellow who has the courage of his convictions.
He can write and he can fight.
(He has) hankered after politics since he was a small boy, and it is probable that his every effort, military or literary, has been made with political bent. He is something of a sportsman who prides himself on being practical rather than a dandy.

He means to get on and he loves his country. But he can hardly be the slave of any party.
Vanity Fair knew its man.
Randolph S. Churchill, Winston S. Churchill: Youth. (following p. 440)

I hope you all have nice weekends.


Where to put N&O editorials

In a recent letter to the N&O, Richard A. Robken of Rocky Mount, NC said:

Thanks for the opening 2008 New Year's Day editorial chuckle, in which you wrote that "political gluttons" must turn to CNN and MSNBC.

The humor was in the omission of the demonstrably fair and balanced FNC (Fox News Channel), the most popular cable news network for discerning political gourmets that overwhelms the combined competition.

An innocent oversight? In the lefty N&O? Chuckle.

Most FNC critics could not name its esteemed managing editor, much less its contributors -- half of whom are bona fide liberals -- because they've never watched it. …

Please don't cancel my subscription. Breakfast would be so un-chuckling without your editorials.

Have you considered relocating them to the revamped comics pages?
While I grant they’re often laughable, I don’t favor moving N&O editorials to the comics page.

More people would notice them there.

That wouldn’t be good for our community.

Better to leave the editorials right where liberals and leftists go for reinforcement, and sensible people like Mr. Robken go for laughs the editors never knew they’d put there.

Nifong’s Copier “Discovery” Is A False Story

I’d like you to read an extract from a Apr. 25, 2007 post, Nifong & The Copier Discovery. Be Careful. I’m very confident the incident recounted in that extract is false regarding a very important claim.

The claim is that then Durham DA Mike Nifong first learned about what became “the Duke lacrosse rape case” on Mar. 23, 2006 after his Chief Assistant DA, David Saacks, had made an unprecedented and very likely unconstitutional request that a judge issue a nontestimonial order directing all 46 white members of the 2006 Duke Men’s lacrosse team to submit to police DNA testing and face and torso photographing.

In this post I want to tell you why the claim is false and suggest at least one reason why it was created.

Let’s start with the Apr. 25 post extract. The post began:

On April 14, 2007, Raleigh News & Observer reporter Joseph Neff began a five part series on Nifong & the Duke Hoax case. Neff’s first series article begins:

Mike Nifong found out about the case that now threatens his career March 23, 2006, when he stopped by the office copier and found a court order demanding DNA samples from 46 Duke lacrosse players. An escort service dancer told police that three men at a team party had dragged her into a bathroom and raped her anally, vaginally and orally for 30 minutes, according to the order.

The Durham district attorney's reaction, he later told lawyer Jim Cooney: "Holy crap, what is going on?"
In his source notes, Neff cites two people as sources for his report Nifong only learned about the nontestimonial court order (NTO) on 3/23/06 when he discovered it at his office copier.

One is Jim Cooney, an attorney for Reade Seligmann. As Neff noted in another series article, Cooney first met Nifong in December, 2006, nine months after Nifong’s “copier discovery.”

Neff’s use of Cooney’s “Holy crap, what is going on?” account of Nifong’s reaction gives a seeming “You are there” dimension to the “discovery” story but, as Neff makes clear, what Cooney says is based not on Cooney’s observation of Nifong’s “discovery,” but on what Nifong told Cooney.

And we know about the reliability of what Nifong tells attorneys, judges, and all of us.

Neff’s only other source for his “copier discovery” report is David Saacks, Nifong’s chief assistant district attorney. It was Saacks who signed the NTO request.

Saacks certainly could have been standing right by the copier when Nifong made his “discovery.” Or he could have been down the hall in his office and heard Nifong exclaim, “Holy crap, what is going on?”

Maybe “the discovery” happened just the way Neff reports it.

But that means Saacks went ahead and got the NTO order without ever discussing it and the hugely troubled and hugely politically significant “Duke gang-rape” case with Nifong, who was then in a hotly contested primary race for the Democratic nomination for DA.

Did Saacks go ahead without saying anything to Nifong? Did Nifong really know nothing about the case until he made his “Holy crap” “copier discovery?"

Color me very skeptical of what Joe Neff reports. […]


In his testimony during the State Bar trial which resulted in his disbarment, Nifong testified he “discovered” the NTO just as Neff reported. Nifong estimated his Mar. 23 “discovery” occurred sometime around 4 pm.

But he had to know about the case before then. Here’s why:

By the morning of Mar. 14 a lot of people in Trinity Park (TP) already knew police had been to the house at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd. and that something "had happened" there.

"Did you see the two police cars there? Do you know what happened? Are you on the listserv?"

Trinity Park residents include Duke administrators, faculty, medical center personnel and other University staffers. It's home to a number of Raleigh N&O staffers, attorneys and others with regular business at the Durham County courthouse a mile or so away where the Durham DA and his staff also have offices.

So there was buzzing on Mar. 14 not only in TP but at Duke, the courthouse, other places and on the Net.

The buzz grew on Mar. 15 and got louder still on Mar. 16 when six or seven DPD cruisers were parked outside the house for hours and DPD Sgt. Mark Gottlieb subsequently emailed on a TP listserv seeking information from anyone who could help with the "investigation."

On Mar. 18 the N&O ran a story of a reported rape at the house; it ran a second story concerning it on the 19th.

Both stories ran in a part of the N&O's "B" section where local crimes are regularly reported. Many people involved in the criminal justice system routinely check that part of the paper.

I'd think a DA, especially one running for office, would check that part of the paper daily unless the DA wanted to be in a position where a citizen could ask about a reported crime in his or her neighborhood and the DA didn't mind having to say, "Gee, I don't know a thing about it. Why don't you give the police a call?"

On Mar. 19th adults at churches in TP were talking about the "horrible crimes" in their Sunday School classes.

A friend who teaches one of those classes later told me when his class met, it ignored the lesson for the day and "got right to talking about the case." My friend said there were "a few cool heads but most people were on fire."

With about five minutes of class time left, the class realized it should at least give the lesson a glance and did so. It then adjourned for coffee and to meet people from the other classes and those just arriving for the 11 o'clock service.

Do you know what my friend told me happened then?

He learned that in all the other adult classes folks had done just what they'd done in his class.

"Everyone" went to work on Monday, Mar. 20, at DU, DUMC, the courthouse, etc. and had lunch on 9th Street, Whole Foods, etc. Talk, talk, and more talk.

It had been a week since the party. During that week Nifong and his wife, Cy Gurney, had been campaigning for his nomination as the Democratic Party's DA candidate in the November election.

While we do newspaper ads and some TV spots and interest group endorsements count for a lot, campaigning in Durham still involves plenty of "retail" work: getting friends to host "deserts" and invite the neighbors in to meet you; getting out to service and fraternal club luncheons to be introduced and shake some hands afterwards; asking people what's on their minds and do they have anything they want to ask you.

But with all of that, Nifong, if we believe the "Holy crap" copier discovery story, knew absolutely nothing about the case on Mar. 20.

With his office only a mile from the house; with many supporters in TP; and getting out and about in the TP neighborhood and nearby as part of his campaign and talking regularly to "the courthouse crowd" he'd known for almost 30 years, had no idea there was anything going on that would later be called "the Duke lacrosse case."

And if his wife, Cy Gurney, well connected to many in TP, active in his campaign, a "partner" of many Durham activists and "victim’s advocacy" groups, and herself a courthouse regular by virtue of heading up the Guardian ad Litem regional program knew about the case, then we have to believe she didn't tell her husband Mike, the DA.

It's unbelievable, isn't it?

And folks, I've only taken the narrative up to Monday, Mar. 20.

If you believe the copier "discovery" story, you still have to get to about 4 o'clock on Thursday, Mar. 23, before Nifong learns anything about the case.

That's Mission Impossible.

On Tuesday, Mar. 21, The Chronicle published a story on the alleged crimes. It noted Duke was the owner of the house, quoted Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek as saying the University was awaiting the results of the police investigation. It mentioned Gottlieb had said the residents of the house had been cooperative. There was more to the story. Literally many thousands of people at Duke now knew something about the case.

Even Duke President Richard Brodhead has acknowledged he knew about the case by Mar. 21. (I'm not sure he didn't know before then, but that's for another post.)

Brodhead and thousands of others at Duke knew but Nifong didn't?

If you believe that, you must be a life member of MoveOn.Duke.

If you aren't convinced by now the copier "discovery" story is false, there's more I could say but I don't think I'd convince you.

Now to the question of why create the falsehood of Nifong only learning about the case on the afternoon of Mar. 23, after the NTO had been signed by his dear friend, mentor and predecessor as DA, Judge Ron Stephens?

This from my Apr. 25, 2007 Nifong & The Copier Discovery. Be Careful post:
There’s one thing we can all be sure about: It’s greatly to both Saacks' and Nifong’s advantage to be able to say they never spoke about the NTO before 3/23/06.

If they didn’t speak about it, there’s no need to ask sticky questions such as:

Before seeking an unprecedented NTO to obtain DNA and mug and torso photos from 46 citizens based solely on their race and membership on a sports team, what did Durham’s District Attorney and its Chief Assistant District Attorney say to each other about the accuser’s failure to ID any of the alleged rapists?

Did they say to each other anything about police officers’ and the second dancer’s statements that the accuser’s story was a “crock?”

What did they say about hospital records from Duke and the accuser's many conflicting stories?
Folks, there are other reasons why I think the falsehood was created.

In a few days I'll post concerning them.

Right now I'm interested to hear what you think.

And I'm sorry this post got long.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Churchill Series - Jan. 10, 2008

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

By age fifteen, Churchill had already impressed his masters and schoolmates at Harrow with his knowledge of history. He’d won a prize for Roman History and twice won prizes for English History.

Then Churchill began to excel in another subject for which success he said in later years he had Robert Somervell to thank.

Somervell was Churchill's English master. Churchill called him 'a most delightful man to whom my debt is great."

From Martin Gilbert's classic, one-volume Churchill: A Life (Holt, 1991):

Somervell's method, Churchill recalled, was to divide up a long sentence into its component clauses 'by means of black, red, blue and green inks', and teaching it almost daily as 'a kind of drill'; by this method 'I got into my bones the essential structure of the ordinary British sentence - which is a noble thing.' (pgs. 22-24)
Somerville was undoubtedly a fine teacher. Generations of Harrovians recalled him with respect and fondness.

This post reminds us how much each of us owes to teachers. It's never too late to thank one or two or more of them.

DC Gun Suit Dismissed

From The Volokh Conspiracy:

A unanimous 3-judge decision of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals has dismissed a municipal lawsuit brought against firearms manufacturers, District of Columbia v. Beretta et al.

The court ruled that the suit was barred by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Firearms Act, which was passed by Congress in 2005, and which by its terms applies to all pending and future cases.[...]
The rest of the post is here.

I don’t know enough law to comment on the legal issues involved in this case.

But I’ve always believed the Constitution gives individuals the right to bear arms.

And that belief’s been reinforced by my study of history.

One of the first things dictators do when they knock out a democratic government and seize control of a country is disarm the citizenry.

Pakistan: This sounds good but

I don’t know how much stock to put in a Strategy Page report which begins:

Pakistan may not be winning its war with Islamic radicalism, but at least it is now fighting harder. …
After a review of the history of tribal conflicts and tensions in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, the influence of Muslim radicals and a summary of recent fighting the Strategy Page report ends on a somewhat hopeful note:
Much of the violence involving the Taliban is basically sectarian, with the non-Taliban tribesmen resisting the lifestyle rules (no music, video, booze, shaving and so on) the Taliban insist on imposing.

The Taliban are seen, by most tribesmen, as a bunch of sanctimonious bullies. The government agrees with that, and is eager to arrange a coalition of tribes that are willing to shut the Taliban down.

This is difficult to do, what with the current popularity of the Islamic radicals. But as has happened many times in the past, the Islamic radicals eventually turn too many people against them with their violence, and failure to accomplish anything useful.

That's what's happening to the Islamic radicals in Pakistan and Afghanistan. While the Afghan group has drug money to keep them going, the Pakistani bunch are running out of options and local support.
The entire article is here.

A lot of smart people read this blog. Do any of you know something about what's going on in what used to be called "the Northwest border area?"

There doesn't seem to be anyone in the MSM who knows what's happening there.

My impression is the MSMers depend on second-hand feed from Pakistani military and government officials; and then start their "filtering process," after which they pass on to us reports which should carry “dated” and “dodgy” labels.

Hat tip: Instapundit

The Chronicle Disappoints Again

Chronicle readers concerned by the recent decline in the quality of its news reporting have another reason to be concerned: its Jan 9 "3 unindicted laxers sue University" story.

I’ve just sent University Editor Chelsea Allison, who was bylined on the story, the following email which I’ve also left in modified form on the story’s thread at TC’s website.

Dear Editor Allison:

Concerning your Jan. 9 story: "3 unindicted laxers sue University"

You say:

[The complaint filing] includes a comprehensive timeline of the case's progress, which began in April 2006 after Crystal Mangum alleged that she had been sexually assaulted at a party hosted by members of the team, who had hired her as an exotic dancer.
The case “began” on the night of Mar 13/14 in response to Crystal Mangum’s lies.

The complaint filing details events from that time forward.

You say:
The complaint also details a multidimensioned conspiracy between the Duke and Durham police departments, which the suit alleges had developed a "zero-tolerance" policy for Duke students.
You do not mention the most important point concerning the “zero-tolerance” policy alleged in the complaint.

As alleged in the complaint, “the zero-tolerance” policy to which Duke agreed called for Duke students to be treated differently and more harshly by police than all other citizens resident in Durham or visiting the city would be treated in very similar or identical circumstances.

That's not supposed to happen in America.

You provided readers just one presumably objective expert’s comments on the complaint. While that expert, School of Law Professor James Coleman, was quoted extensively, he admitted he’d not actually read the complaint filing.

Between Dec. 18 when the complaint was filed and Jan. 9 when your story ran, could you not have obtained comments from one or more law professors at Duke or nearby law schools who’d read the complaint?

The full text of the complaint filing along with attachments is available at a number of places on the Net. Here, for instance, at

Why didn't you provide Chronicle readers with a link or URL to the filing.

I hope you agree my comments and questions are fact-based and reasonable.

I’ll publish your response in full on the main page of my blog.


John in Carolina

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Churchill Series - Jan. 9, 2008

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

During his long life, Churchill witnessed extraordinary changes. The gas lamp gave way to the light bulb. Horse carriages were replaced by automobiles. And the ocean liners he loved gave way to four-engine planes.

But not everything changed.

Churchill, for instance, was harried throughout his entire public career by egocentric and ill-informed newspaper editors.

His offical biographer, Martin Gilbert, tells us about a Feb. 14, 1932 Washington Post editorial written when Churchill was in Washington, DC during his American lecture tour that year:

As for Churchill's call for "a working agreement between Great Britain and the United States," (the Post) was hostile.

"Not many years ago." it declared, "political and economic unity with the Yankees would have been repulsive to British statesmen." ...

"Now the tables are turned and Mr. Churchill is trying to flatter the United States into taking over some of Great Britain's (World War I debts)." ...

"What contribution has Britain to make to the cooperative bond that Mr. Churchill suggests for the two countries?"
A few years later, the Post's editorial writers were asking whether the Royal Navy was doing enough to make sure Britain would be able to protect neutral American ships in the Atlantic in the event of a "European war".

In 1939, as First Lord of the Admiralty, Churchill was responsible for making sure Britain could make that "contribution the cooperative bond" between our two nations.

Did the Post's editorial writers in 1939 remember their editorial of Feb. 14, 1932?

I doubt it.
Martin Gilbert, Churchill and America. (Free Press, 2005) (pgs. 140-141)

Voter-Fraud Court Case

John Fund today in the WSJ:

Supporters and critics of Indiana's law requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls square off in oral arguments before the Supreme Court today.

The heated rhetoric surrounding the case lays bare the ideological conflict of visions raging over efforts to improve election integrity.

Supporters say photo ID laws simply extend rules that require everyone to show such ID to travel, enter federal office buildings or pick up a government check. An honor system for voting, in their view, invites potential fraud. That's because many voting rolls are stuffed with the names of dead people and duplicate registrations--as recent scandals in Washington State and Missouri involving the activist group ACORN attest.

Opponents say photo ID laws block poor, minority and elderly voters who lack ID from voting, and all in the name of combating a largely mythical problem of voter fraud....

But U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker, who first upheld Indiana's photo ID law in 2006, cited a state study that found 99% of the voting-age population had the necessary photo ID.

Judge Barker also noted that Indiana provided a photo ID for free to anyone who could prove their identity, and that critics of the law "have produced not a single piece of evidence of any identifiable registered voter who would be prevented from voting."

Since then, liberal groups have pointed to last November's mayoral election in Indianapolis as giving real-life examples of people prevented from voting. The 34 voters out of 165,000 who didn't have the proper ID were allowed to cast a provisional ballot, and could have had their votes counted by going to a clerk's office within 10 days to show ID or sign an affidavit attesting to their identity. Two chose to do so, but 32 did not.

Indeed, a new study by Jeffrey Milyo of the Truman Institute of Public Policy on Indiana's voter turnout in 2006 did not find evidence that counties with more poor, elderly or minority voters had "any reduction in voter turnout relative to other counties."

Opponents of photo ID laws make a valid point that, while Indiana has a clear problem with absentee-ballot fraud (a mayoral election in East Chicago, Ind., was invalidated by the state's Supreme Court in 2003), there isn't a documented problem of voter impersonation. "The state has to demonstrate that this risk of fraud is more than fanciful. And it really isn't," says Ken Falk, legal director for the ACLU of Indiana.

But Indiana officials make the obvious point that, without a photo ID requirement, in-person fraud is "nearly impossible to detect or investigate." (emphases added)

A grand jury report prepared by then-Brooklyn District Attorney Elizabeth Holtzman in the 1980s revealed how difficult it is to catch perpetrators. It detailed a massive, 14-year conspiracy in which crews of individuals were recruited to go to polling places and vote in the names of fraudulently registered voters, dead voters, and voters who had moved.

"The ease and boldness with which these fraudulent schemes were carried out shows the vulnerability of our entire electoral process to unscrupulous and fraudulent misrepresentation," the report concluded. No indictments were issued thanks to the statute of limitations, and because of grants of immunity in return for testimony.

Even modest in-person voter fraud creates trouble in close races. In Washington state's disputed 2004 governor's race, which was won by 129 votes, the election superintendent in Seattle testified in state court that ineligible felons had voted and votes had been cast in the name of the dead.

In Milwaukee, Wis., investigators found that, in the state's close 2004 presidential election, more than 200 felons voted illegally and more than 100 people voted twice. In Florida, where the entire 2000 presidential election was decided by 547 votes, almost 65,000 dead people are still listed on the voter rolls--an engraved invitation to fraud.

A New York Daily News investigation in 2006 found that between 400 and 1,000 voters registered in Florida and New York City had voted twice in at least one recent election.

Laws tightening up absentee-ballot fraud, which is a more serious problem than in-person voting, would be welcome. But, curiously, almost all of the groups opposing the photo ID law before the Supreme Court today either oppose specific efforts to combat absentee-ballot fraud or are silent on them. ...
While Fund doesn't mention them, two of those who most vigorously oppose photo ID voter requirements are the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

But while they claim photo ID requirements are racially discriminatory, they don’t support that claim with the kind of systematic data Fund cites to support the use of phote ID requirements. Nor do the Revs seriously address problems of voter fraud.

I support photo ID requirements along with proof of residency.

I recently stopped at a bank where I don’t regularly do business to cash a check drawn on that bank. I was asked for my driver’s license.

The teller checked not only my photo but my signature on the license with the one on the check.

The signatures weren’t a close enough match for the teller. I was asked to sign my name on a separate piece of paper, which the teller was satisfied was a close match to my license signature.

I didn’t mind any of what the teller did. The bank had every right to be careful before it handed over the cash amount of the check: $9.65.

My vote is worth a lot more than that. So is yours.

Fund ends with:
In 2006, the court unanimously overturned a Ninth Circuit ruling that had blocked an Arizona voter ID law. In doing so, the court noted that anyone without an ID is by federal law always allowed to cast a provisional ballot that can be verified later.

The court also noted that fraud "drives honest citizens out of the democratic process and breeds distrust of our government. Voters who fear their legitimate votes will be outweighed by fraudulent ones will feel disenfranchised."

So the high court itself has already defined the nub of the case it is hearing today. On one side are those who claim photo IDs will block some voters from casting ballots, but offer scant evidence.

On the other side are those who believe photo ID laws can act as a deterrent to irregularities the public increasingly views as undermining election integrity.

Given the obvious political nature of the argument, here's hoping a clear Supreme Court majority reprises its 2006 finding and holds that such questions are best resolved by the elected branches of government and not by unaccountable courts.
Fund’s entire column is here.

South Carolina a test for Bill

From the Washington Post's campaign diary The Trail:

About thirty minutes into Bill Clinton's nearly two-hour stop here at Dartmouth College, a steady stream of students started walking out of the venue. . . .

"I am not anti-Hillary, I am not anti-Clinton, I love Bill Clinton. But I just think we need a fresh start, a new face," Ramirez told The Trail. "All my life I've known the Clintons. As much as I like them, it's time for someone like Barack."

Friends Allie Landers, Jenna Smith and Marina Galkina echoed Ramirez. The three stopped by to get a glimpse of Clinton. But they headed for the doors just a few minutes after they got there. They're Obama supporters.

"I think it's really hard that you're campaigning for change -- Clinton's been using that word a lot too -- when, if you were elected, then the past presidents would be Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton," said Landers, 21.

Added Smith, also 21: "I'm from New York. I think Hillary has done a good job as a senator, but it was just her stepping stone. And, for some reason, for whatever reason, I just don't like her."

The girls headed to the food court for dinner.
The entire article’s here. Hat tip: Michelle Malkin.


Monday in The Clinton Rocks I mentioned a friend’s account of what happened a few years ago when the former president spoke at a national trade association convention where an SRO crowd was expected. The hall was only two-thirds full and people slipped out during Clinton’s speech.

My friend said convention goers who didn't attend Clinton’s speech said things that amounted to "I've been listening to him for years." Many acknowledged being Clinton admirers but passed on what they viewed as "same old, same old."

Let’s keep our eyes out for how effective Bill Clinton will be on Sen. Clinton’s behalf in South Carolina where Sen. Obama is Hillary’s principal opponent.

African-Americans have been Bill Clinton’s most reliable and enthusiastic supporters and make up about half the Palmetto State’s Democratic voters.

Bill Clinton is going to face many audiences there in which most of the African-Americans will be Obama supporters. They may also, like those Dartmouth students and my friend's convention colleagues have "Bill Clinton fatigue," a condition I developed sometime in early 1993.

The SC Democratic primary is Jan. 26, two weeks from Saturday.

It should be an interesting few weeks.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Churchill Series - Jan. 8, 2008

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

Until a few years ago, whenever I thought of Churchill's magnificent leadership during 1940, it was always in terms Britain surviving Dunkirk, standing alone, facing the threat of invasion, fighting the Battles of the Atlantic and Britain, and carrying on during the Blitz.

I'd never thought much about, or understood, the courage, genius, and consequences of Churchill's decision after Dunkirk to dispatch most of Britain's army to North Africa and the Middle East.

But historian John Keegan has. Here's what he said about that decision, part of a Churchill profile Keegan wrote in April, 1998:

Following the total defeat of France, Britain truly, in his words, "stood alone." It had no substantial allies and, for much of 1940, lay under threat of German invasion and under constant German air attack.

He nevertheless refused Hitler's offers of peace, organized a successful air defense that led to the victory of the Battle of Britain and meanwhile sent most of what remained of the British army, after its escape from the humiliation of Dunkirk, to the Middle East to oppose Hitler's Italian ally, Mussolini.

This was one of the boldest strategic decisions in history. Convinced that Hitler could not invade Britain while the Royal Navy and its protecting Royal Air Force remained intact, he dispatched the army to a remote theater of war to open a second front against the Nazi alliance. Its victories against Mussolini during 1940-41 both humiliated and infuriated Hitler, while its intervention in Greece, to oppose Hitler's invasion of the Balkans, disrupted the Nazi dictator's plans to conclude German conquests in Europe by defeating Russia.
John Keegan, Winston Churchill: A Profile. ( - April, 1998)

The Best Use of Primaries

Part of Thomas Sowell’s column today gets at the best use citizens can make of presidential primaries. I add a few words to what Sowell says. They’re about how I misjudged two presidential candidates:

[…]With all the media attention to the various political rivalries in both parties, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that all of this is ultimately about choosing a President of the United States.

The question of what kind of President each candidate would make is infinitely more important than all the "horse race" handicapping that dominates the media.

By far the best presentation as a candidate, among all the candidates in both parties, is that of Barack Obama.

But if he actually believes even half of the irresponsible nonsense he talks, he would be an utter disaster in the White House.

Among the Democrats, the choice between John Edwards and Barack Obama depends on whether you prefer glib demagoguery in its plain vanilla form or spiced with a little style and color.

The choice between both of them and Hillary Clinton depends on whether you prefer male or female demagoguery.

Among the Republicans, there are misgivings about the track record of each of the candidates, especially those who have shown what Thorstein Veblen once called "a versatility of convictions."

There are fewer reasons for misgivings about Fred Thompson's track record in the Senate but more reason to be concerned about what his unfocused and lackluster conduct of his campaign might portend for his performance in the White House.

When it comes to personal temperament, Governor Romney would rate the highest for his even keel, regardless of what events are swirling around him, with Rudolph Giuliani a close second.

Temperament is far more important for a President than for a candidate. A President has to be on an even keel 24/7, for four long years, despite crises that can break out anywhere in the world at any time. (emphasis added)

John McCain trails the pack in the temperament department, with his volatile, arrogant, and abrasive know-it-all attitude.

His track record in the Senate is full of the betrayals of Republican supporters that have been the party's biggest failing over the years and its Achilles heel politically.

The elder President Bush's betrayal of his "no new taxes" pledge was the classic example, but the current President Bush's attempt to get amnesty for illegal aliens, with Senator McCain's help, was more of the same.

President Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon probably cost him the 1976 election and cost the country the disastrous Carter years.

McCain's betrayals include not only the amnesty bill but also the McCain-Feingold bill that violated the First Amendment for the illusion of "taking money out of politics."

His back-door deal with Democrats on judicial nominations also pulled the rug out from under his party leaders in the Senate.

The White House is not the place for a loose cannon.
Sowell's entire column is here.

We often look for significance in what are contrived or incidental gestures while failing to assess the importance of candidates’ temperaments - the combination of mental, physical, and emotional traits that determine behavior.

I let myself get suckered in 1976 by then Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter because, among other things during the primaries, he insisted on carrying his own luggage and stayed in private homes.

Those were sure signs he’d make a great president, right?

And I counted President Ford’s pardon of former President Nixon against him.

It was the pardon that tipped me into the Carter column on Election Day.

In time I came to realize Ford’s pardon of Nixon was best for the country and a courageous act.

The pardon was a product of Ford’s temperament. He had the sound judgment to realize a Nixon trial would do the country little good and possibly much harm.

Ford had the courage to issue it because at a very deep emotional level he felt his duty was to do what was best for the country, and put his own political well-being aside when it conflicted with America’s welfare.

Ford was a person “who more than self his country loved.” Carter’s something else.

Where Duke Is Now

Readers Note: You’ll best understand the post following this note if you’re familiar with the contents of these posts – Duke BOT Steel Questions ,

Responding to "Call home immediately" comments ,

Duke's Simple Questions Problems – and their comment threads


This is a 1, 2, 3 post.

1) The full text of Red Mountain’s comment in response to Duke's Simple Questions Problems.

2) My response to RM’s comment

3) A few thoughts and an invitation to you to comment.

Let’s begin ----

1 – Full text of RM’s comment on the thread of Duke’s Simple Questions Problems:


You are arguing a point I didn't make. I agree with your post and I agree that the answers are No as well. Once I accept the fact that Duke did many things wrong in it's handling of this situation, the next question becomes; Why? The lawsuit implies an evil and malicious intent on the part of the Duke administration to railroad the Lacrosse players. That is the answer to my question the lawsuit gives, and it seems that you agree with that.

I believe the intent was to resolve the case as quickly as possible because Duke believed that the accusations were false and they felt the sooner the investigation was completed the sooner it would be resolved in the favor of the players. That in no way justifies the actions that Duke took that were potentially harmful to the players. Duke made some major mistakes and I even pointed out a few other mistakes I believe are going to be hard for Duke to justify. If this lawsuit goes that far and a jury is at the point that it feels Duke is liable for these errors, the amount of the award could hinge on the jury answer to this question.

2 – My response to RM - - -

Dear Red Mountain:

I continue to appreciate your civility and avoidance of ad hominems.

I was glad to see you acknowledge the only correct answer to each of the four questions I posed was “No.”

That each of them can only be answered in the negative is a major problem for Duke and those claiming it acted last March with concern for the students’ legal rights, safety and emotional well-being.

In the threatening circumstances the lacrosse players faced, what sort of university administrators would fail to urge students to “call home immediately?”

And for what reason(s) would they fail to do that?

A reasonable person needn’t accept Ekstrand’s major contention in order to reject your major contention:

“I believe [Duke’s] intent was to resolve the case as quickly as possible because Duke believed that the accusations were false and they felt the sooner the investigation was completed the sooner it would be resolved in the favor of the players.
When President Brodhead and the rest of Duke’s Crisis Management Team read and discussed the Raleigh News & Observer’s Mar. 25 front page story about a night of “sexual violence,” they knew it contained many falsehoods, including the claim that the players had formed a “wall of solidarity” and were refusing to cooperate with police.

Yet when Brodhead issued a statement later that day he said nothing about the players’ cooperation and instead urged everyone to cooperate with police.

Where’s the “intent was to resolve the case as quickly as possible” in that?

Why didn’t Brodhead say something like: “I urge everyone to cooperate in this investigation as have the lacrosse players?”

Duke “believed that the accusations were false.”


On Mar. 28 DPD began circulating the libelous Durham CrimeStoppers Wanted poster about “this horrific crime.”

Why didn’t Duke University Police Director Robert Dean, who then chaired the Durham CrimeStoppers board of directors, demand the retraction or at least a correction of the poster?

Why wasn’t Dean joined in that request by his fellow CrimeStoppers board member, Duke’s Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek?

There’s a lot more I could cite that argues Duke did many things and failed to do other things it should have done.

Together Duke’s actions and failures to act had the collective effect of not simply enabling the initial investigative travesties but of advancing and sustaining the attempted frame-up of three of its students.

You say, “Duke believed that the accusations were false.”

As regards Steel, Brodhead, most of its trustees and “Dick’s senior team,” I strongly suspect you're right.

Given they very likely knew the accusations were false, and given what Duke did and didn’t do, can’t you see that your claims Duke worked on the students’ behalf are absurd?

If we ever learn something close to the full truth of what happened, everything in Ekstrand’s filing will likely not stand.

But based on what we already know that’s indisputable, nobody should doubt a great deal of what Ekstrand’s asserted will prove true.



3 - Folks, how did Duke ever go from being a place led by President Terry Sanford to a place led by BOT Chair Bob Steel and President Dick Brodhead?

I want to say more but I’ve a meeting coming up and I want to get this posted.

Anyway, it’s your turn to comment.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Churchill Series - Jan. 7, 2008

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

Wasn't it Ben Franklin who said, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy?"

In any case, it was Churchill who flew from Cairo to Naples in October 1944 to meet with Allied military leaders, including General Sir Harold Alexander, commander of British troops in Italy.

Alexander pressed Churchill with many requests, including more beer for his troops.

Churchill promptly sent a minute to the Secretary of State for War, saying in part:

The Americans are said to have four bottles a week, and the British rarely get one. You should make an immediate effort, and come to me for support in case other Departments are involved.

Let me have a plan with time schedule for this beer. The question of importing ingredients should also be considered.

The priority in issue is to go to the fighting troops at the front, and only work back to the rear as and when supplies open out.
If they’d been contemporaries, I think Churchill and Franklin would have gotten along splendidly, at least most of the time.

And wouldn't we have loved to have joined them for dinner, or at least a beer.
Martin Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill:Road to Victory, 1942-1945.
(Houghton Mifflin, 1986) (p. 1036)

No N&O “thinking” in this post

A few years ago a person with quite a bit of formal education said, referring to the Raleigh News & Observer’s editorials:

”I like reading them. They’re so informative and help me with my thinking."
I thought about that person today as I read Christopher Hitchens’ latest at Slate.

It began:
To put it squarely and bluntly, is it because he is or is it because he isn't?

To phrase it another way, is it because of what he says or what he doesn't say?

Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois is the current beneficiary of a tsunami of drool.

He sometimes claims credit on behalf of all Americans regardless of race, color, creed, blah blah blah, though his recent speeches appear also to claim a victory for blackness while his supporters—most especially the white ones—sob happily that at last we can have an African-American chief executive

Off to the side, snarling with barely concealed rage, are the Clinton machine-minders, who, having failed to ignite the same kind of identity excitement with an aging and resentful female, are perhaps wishing that they had made more of her errant husband having already been "our first black president."

Or perhaps not.

Isn't there something pathetic and embarrassing about this emphasis on shade?

And why is a man with a white mother considered to be "black," anyway? Is it for this that we fought so hard to get over Plessy v. Ferguson?

Would we accept, if Obama's mother had also been Jewish, that he would therefore be the first Jewish president?

The more that people claim Obama's mere identity to be a "breakthrough," the more they demonstrate that they have failed to emancipate themselves from the original categories of identity that acted as a fetter upon clear thought.[...]
The rest of Hitchens’ article is here.

I hope you read it.

Right now I just want to call it to your attention because it’s such an informative article that made me think.

I don’t expect to find anything like it in the N&O’s editorial column.

How about in your local newspaper’s editorial column? Will you find anything like it there?

And can we all agree none of us will find anything as thoughtful and informative in the editorial columns of the NYT, LAT and Boston Globe as what Hitchens wrote at Slate?

Now I’m going to watch the rest of the Ohio State-LSU game.

OSU’s a great school but I’m pulling for the Tigers because I’ve lots of family members with LSU ties.

Hillary’s Tears: The Important Question

Hillary’s public tears today put her in the same category with many other politicians great and not so great, male and female, who’ve cried in public.

Among the greats: Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan.

Among the not so greats: Richard Nixon and Pat Schroeder.

So what’s important to know about Hillary’s tears today?

Whether they were genuine and spontaneous or forced as part of a strategy to “humanize” her?

Duke’s Simple Questions Problems

This is a 1, 2, 3 post.

1 – Some simple questions I asked in a post, "Call home immediately" , concerning Duke’s actions and inactions in response to the lies Crystal Mangum told and the police investigations her lies launched.

2 – A response to those simple questions by Red Mountain, who’s commented often, typically with: 1) comments critical of a complaint filing by attorney Bob Eckstrand on behalf of three unindicted Duke lacrosse players; and 2) offering generally benign explanations for Duke's and its leadership's actions and inactions

3 – A few comments.

1 – The simple questions from "Call home immediately" :

Let's put aside for now questions of whether what's alleged in the portion of the [complaint filing] cited above is true in part or whole.

Let's allow that there are confidentiality provisions regarding to whom and what university administrators may disclose concerning a student.

Was there anything that prevented Duke administrators when they first learned DUPD and DPD were investigating crimes alleged to have occurred at a party attended by certain Duke students from advising those student to "call home immediately?"

Was there anything that prevented Duke administrators from sending emails to the students concerned urging them to call their parents to let them know what was happening?

Was there anything that prevented Duke administrators from saying to eighteen and nineteen year-old students that the administrators and the students could jointly call parents to make sure that anything the parents thought should be done in the students' interests was being done?

In the more than twenty-one months since the night of March 13/14 has Duke ever claimed it did some or all of what I've asked here?

2 – Red Mountain’s comment in its entirety (on this thread) :

I also think this is an excellent post. The giving of legal advice (and bad advice at that), the dorm search, and the giving away of the key card info are hard to justify. I have stated before that Duke went way overboard in terms of its cooperation with the Durham police.

Was that due to an interest in getting the case resolved quickly or due to a conspiracy by the Duke consortium to frame the players?

3- A few comments:

In another post here I noted what would happen if Red Mountain merely dropped the “or” out of the compound sentence with the two questions he asked.

Just by dropping out the “or” RM would then be asking concerning Duke going “overboard [in] its cooperation with the Durham police" :

Was that due to an interest in getting the case resolved quickly due to a conspiracy by the Duke consortium to frame the players?
Now we can be pretty sure RM didn’t mean to ask that question, but just dropping the “or” out of what he actually asked illustrates how very careful you have to be these day when you try to defend or excuse Duke’s actions and inactions in response to Mangum’s lies and what followed from them.

And here’s something else: Go back and read those four simple questions in Section 2.

All four of them can only be correctly answered with the same two-letter word: “No.”

When such simple questions can only be answered “No,” it’s no wonder BOT chair Bob Steel and president Richard Brodhead want us all to join MoveOn. Duke.

Will things get “uglier and Dukier?”

Who doesn't know the answer to that simple question?

This Made Me Smile

An item from Mickey Kaus’ blog notes at Slate on last night’s debates in New Hampshire:

Big Pimpin' in N.H.:

Gave three women a ride to their motel from the Radisson. Was pulled over by police who suspected we were ... part of America's growing service sector. Where is Ron Paul when you need him? ...

The Clinton Rocks

At Captain's Quarters Ed Morrissey posts Bill Not Holding Their Interest, Either

Morrissey says: Earlier today, I noted that Hillary Clinton has a problem holding the interest of her audiences. Surprisingly, the New York Times reports that her husband has had the same problem of late. Fatigue seems to be the issue, but who's getting tired of whom?

Is this what it would have been like had Elvis been reduced to playing Reno?

Former President Bill Clinton has been drawing sleepy and sometimes smallish crowds at big venues in the state that revived his presidential campaign in 1992. He entered to polite applause and rows of empty seats at the University of New Hampshire on Friday. Several people filed out midspeech, and the room was largely quiet as he spoke, with few interruptions for laughter or applause. He talked about his administration, his foundation work and some about his wife.

“Hillary’s got good plans,” Mr. Clinton kept saying as he worked through a hoarse-voiced litany of why his wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, is a “world-class change agent.” He urged his audience to “caucus” on Tuesday for Mrs. Clinton, before correcting himself (“vote”). He took questions, quickly worked a rope line and left.

Maybe the sluggish day was a blip. It was, in fairness, the day after Mrs. Clinton finished third in the Iowa caucuses, behind Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and John Edwards of North Carolina. Mr. Clinton was working on 30 minutes’ sleep. He traveled to New Hampshire from Iowa in the wee hours, and the university was on winter break.

But there was a similarly listless aura at the previous stop, in Rochester. And again, on Saturday in Bow, at just the sort of high school gym that the master campaigner used to blow out. Only about 225 showed up in Bow — about one-third the capacity of the room — to hear Mr. Clinton hit his bullet points on the subprime lending crisis, $100 barrels of oil and how “10 of Hillary’s fellow senators have endorsed her.”
The Hillary campaign can't figure out how to use Bill. When he talks about Hillary, the crowds go limp.

When he talks about himself, people respond -- and they compare Hillary to Bill. Mark Leibovich reports that Bill has attempted to de-celebritize himself by making his speeches more quickly and with less charisma so as to keep from outshining his wife.

But what does Bill offer outside of his charisma and his celebrity?

Could anyone have predicted that Bill couldn't get a room more than one-third full anywhere in New Hampshire the week before its primary?[...]

There's more to Morrissey's post here.


The Iowa results and now predictions for tomorrow's vote in New Hampshire have understandably rocked Hillary's seemingly inevitable march to the Dem's presidential nomination.

But what about Bill ( "He rocks") Clinton?

Shouldn't he be packing the rooms?

What's this about people walking out on Bill in mid-speech?

I think at least some of it may have somethng to do with what a friend told me a few years ago.

My friend was at a national trade association convention where Clinton was the featured speaker. The association had been touting for months how lucky it was to snag Clinton (luck and a six-figure speaking fee did it).

Everyone at the convention was urged to "be there early" to hear the former president. A SRO crowd was expected.

Comes the day and the hour for the "rock star quality" Clinton to speak and the hall, my friend said, was about two-thirds full.

There was some audience shuffling and talking while Clinton spoke and some people slipped out.

My friend said convention goers who didn't attend the Clinton event said things that amounted to "I've been listening to him for years." Many acknowledged being Clinton admirers but they were going to pass on what they viewed as "same old, same old."

I wonder if we're starting to see something like that on the campaign trail.

One thing's for sure: If something like that is already underway, the Dem dominated MSM will be the last to tell us what the stay-aways in New Hampshire may already be telling us.

The last word to Ed Morrissey, one of the best bloggers out there:

Barack Obama continues to inspire. He's the Bill Clinton in this race, and Hillary has become Dick Gephardt.
What do you folks think?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

George Will Earned a 20 Today

George Will said a lot today that’s needed saying about Mike Huckabee and John Edwards.

Here’s some of it, after which I offer a few comments:

[Mike Huckabee] and John Edwards, flaunting their histrionic humility in order to promote their curdled populism, hawked strikingly similar messages in Iowa, encouraging self-pity and economic hypochondria.

Edwards and Huckabee lament a shrinking middle class. Well.

Economist Stephen Rose, defining the middle class as households with annual incomes between $30,000 and $100,000, says a smaller percentage of Americans are in that category than in 1979 — because the percentage of Americans earning more than $100,000 has doubled, from 12 to 24, while the percentage earning less than $30,000 is unchanged.

"So," Rose says, "the entire 'decline' of the middle class came from people moving up the income ladder." Even as housing values declined in 2007, the net worth of households increased.

Huckabee told heavily subsidized Iowa — Washington's ethanol enthusiasm has farm values and incomes soaring — that Americans striving to rise are "pushed down every time they try by their own government."

Edwards, synthetic candidate of theatrical bitterness on behalf of America's crushed, groaning majority, says the rich have an "iron-fisted grip" on democracy and a "stranglehold" on the economy. Strangely, these fists have imposed a tax code that makes the top 1 percent of earners pay 39 percent of all income tax revenue, the top 5 percent pay 60 percent and the bottom 50 percent only 3 percent.

According to Edwards, the North Carolina of his youth resembled Chechnya today — "I had to fight to survive. I mean really. Literally." Huckabee, a compound of Uriah Heep, Elmer Gantry and Richard Nixon, preens about his humble background: "In my family, 'summer' was never a verb."

Nixon, who maundered about his parents' privations and his wife's cloth coat, followed Lyndon Johnson, another miscast president whose festering resentments and status anxieties colored his conduct of office. Here we go again? […]

Huckabee says that "only one explanation" fits his Iowa success "and it's not a human one. It's the same power that helped a little boy with two fish and five loaves feed a crowd of 5,000 people." G-d so loves Huckabee's politics that He worked a Midwest miracle on his behalf?

Should someone so delusional control nuclear weapons?

Speaking of delusions, Edwards seems unaware that the world market sets the price of oil. He says a $100-a-barrel price is evidence of — surging demand in India and China? Unrest in Nigeria's oil fields? No, "corporate greed."

That is Edwards's explanation of every unpleasantness. […]

Although Huckabee and Edwards profess to loathe and vow to change Washington's culture, each would aggravate its toxicity. Each overflows with and wallows in the pugnacity of the self-righteous who discern contemptible motives behind all disagreements with them and who therefore think that opponents are enemies and differences are unsplittable.[…]
Will’s closer:
Barack Obama, who might be mercifully closing the Clinton parenthesis in presidential history, is refreshingly cerebral amid this recrudescence of the paranoid style in American politics. He is the un-Edwards and un-Huckabee — an adult aiming to reform the real world rather than an adolescent fantasizing mock-heroic "fights" against fictitious villains in a left-wing cartoon version of this country.
Will’s entire column is here.

A pundit is supposed to be a learned person whose opinions and judgments inform and uplift us.

So few of those we call “pundits” really do that. But Will sure did today, as he usually does.

Only today I especially appreciated his column because it was such a searing, illuminating and deserved evisceration of a pair of posturing, self-seeking hypocrites who demean America in order to serve themselves.

I’ll say more about them tomorrow.

Meanwhile, on the 1 to 10 scale I scored Will’s column a 20. He earned a 10 for exposing and skewering each of them.

Ham’s “few minutes” with George Will

Durhamite and pundit Mary Katharine Ham posts at

I was seated on the plane right near George Will and saw fit to bug him for a few minutes after we landed. He was nice enough to chat a bit. …

Will on Huckabee:

"I'm assuming Huckabee's just treading water here and the question is how long he'll be in it after this."
There’s more including Will’s response to Ham’s question about what the Huckabee surge means for GOP fiscal libertarians and a very candid Will comment about what Will calls McCain’s “talent for hatred.”

Take a look here.

BTW – Mary Katharine Ham is the daughter of John Locke Foundation exec Jon Ham whose blog, Right Angles, is always worth a look.

The apple didn't fall far from the tree.

N&O says, “believe us”

Raleigh News & Observer executive editor for news John Drescher’s print column today is about news organizations’ use of anonymous sources. (“’Scoops' based on anonymous sources often are wrong” )

Drescher begins:

There's a slop of "news" reported on television and the Internet based on anonymous sources.
Drescher cites sports stories ESPN and the LAT used anonymous sources for and got wrong. That takes up most of the column.

Near the end of the it Drescher gets to what he really wanted to do in the first place: praise the N&O for what he says is its rare and very responsible use of anonymous sources.

Drescher ends his column by presenting N&O subscribers with what he sees as a stark choice facing them:
You can believe our competitors who use anonymous sources promiscuously.

Or you can believe us.
”Wow! It’s a risky world out there. We can’t take any chances. Let’s renew our N&O subscriptions right now.”

Unlike his predecessor Melanie Sill, Dresher doesn’t post his Sunday columns at the Editors’ Blog. So I’m sending the following email directly to him.

His address FYI:

Dear Editor Drescher:

In your column today you say:
At The N&O, we discourage the use of anonymous sources and rarely use them.

When we do, the information has to be factual. It has to come from sources with first-hand knowledge. There must be no other way to get the story on the record. And it has to be approved by me or a senior deputy.
But in your Duke lacrosse coverage you not only frequently used anonymous sources, you encouraged their use.

The “Mother, dancer, accuser,” story published on your front page Apr. 16, 2006, the day before a Durham grand jury indicted Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, used neighbors, relatives and friends of the accuser as anonymous sources.

You even tracked down the accuser’s former husband and used him as an anonymous source for a very sympathetic account of the accuser teaching him to read.

How did you confirm that account? And why did you run it?

What did it have to do with what was by then an obviously very flawed “investigation” in which Durham police and the DA had repeatedly made unsubstantiated and, in some cases, obviously false statements that three Duke students committed gang rape and other felonies while other Duke students stood by and later “stonewalled” the police investigation?

By Apr. 16 there were law professors, attorneys not connected with the case and other experts very willing to talk on the record about grave weaknesses in the case. Some were even urging Nifong to drop the charges because he had no case.

Why didn’t you run a front page story quoting such experts?

Why did the N&O instead run the sympathetic to the accuser and heavily anonymous source dependent “Mother, dancer, accuser” story on its front page the day before we all knew the grand jury was to meet?

You say “information has to be factual.”

You knew on Mar. 24, 2006 when you used the accuser as an anonymous source that her claim of being new to dancing in front of men was false.

But you ran it anyway and withheld the news you had that proved it was false.


You knew she’d been lap dancing at a public club as far back as June 2002 when she stole a car from one of the club’s customers.

But the N&O withheld that news for three weeks.

How can readers "believe us" when the N&O does something like that?

On Mar. 25 you published the accuser’s claim that men in the house where the party was held barked racial slurs at her and the second dancer. Everyone in the house at the time including the second dancer denied that happened.

Yet you published that story, to the great detriment of innocent young people and race relations in our community.


You had statements from Sgt. Gottlieb and Duke that the players had been cooperative.

Yet you withheld that information and instead cited anonymous “authorities” you said had vowed to crack the team’s “wall of solidarity.”

Who were those anonymous “authorities” the N&O used for its Mar. 25 story?

Was one of them Mike Nifong?

Ruth Sheehan says Nifong was the anonymous source for her Mar. 27 “Teams Silence Is Sickening” column. According to Sheehan the N&O was using Nifong as an anonymous source by Mar. 26 when it passed on to her “information” from Nifong which served as the basis for her column.

I posted on the N&O's use of Nifong as an anonymous source here and here.

When did the N&O begin using Nifong as an anonymous source for its Duke lacrosse stories?

When was the last time you used Nifong as an anonymous source?

I wish you would do as your predecessor Melanie Sill did and post your columns at the Editors’ Blog so readers can comment there.

N&O readers should be aware of the questions I’m posing as well as questions and concerns many other readers have regarding the N&O’s use of anonymous sources.

I hope you begin posting your columns and dialoging with readers concerning them.

In the meantime, I hope you respond to my questions.

I’ll publish your response in full on the main page on my blog.


John in Carolina