Saturday, April 19, 2008

CBS’s newsroom now and then

What a difference the last three and a half years have made in the life of CBS News, once “the premier news network.”

The AP reported yesterday - - -

CBS Corp. Chairman Leslie Moonves paid a surprise visit to the CBS newsroom Friday to support embattled anchor Katie Couric.

Moonves told CBS News employees that "there are no plans for a change—today, tomorrow and into the future," according to a network executive who was there. The executive spoke on condition of anonymity because the comments were not made public.

That doesn't mean Couric's status won't be reviewed if ratings continue to lag—but that won't happen until after the election, the executive said. …

The entire AP story’s here.

Now take a look at this Jan. 11, 2005 NY Times report - - -

CBS yesterday dismissed four of its top journalists, including a high-ranking news executive, after an independent panel concluded that a September report that raised questions about President Bush's Vietnam-era National Guard service never should have been broadcast.

The panel concluded that the network's news division, in a dash to beat its competitors, suffered a breakdown in judgment as it rushed the report onto the air on Sept. 8. Among its findings was that the news report was approved by inattentive executives; was delivered by an overworked anchor, Dan Rather; and did not undergo even the most rudimentary fact-checking.

The segment, broadcast on the Wednesday edition of "60 Minutes," raised new questions about Mr. Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard in the early 1970's. It presented four documents, described as memorandums from the files of his commander, suggesting that Mr. Bush, then a lieutenant, had received preferential treatment. The panel said that the documents had not been properly authenticated, but that it had no evidence they were forgeries. ...

Leslie Moonves, the chairman of CBS, said that Mr. Heyward had "issued direct instructions to investigate the sourcing of the story" but that his instructions had not been "implemented in a prompt or systematic way." He said Mr. Heyward would remain in his job.

Mr. Rather, who narrated the news report but played only a limited role in assembling it, will remain a CBS correspondent for the Wednesday edition of "60 Minutes" - the program that broadcast the troubled news report - as well as the fabled Sunday edition of "60 Minutes." …

The entire NY Times report's here.

Folks, the Times did not explain why Dan Rather and CBS went 10 days telling the public the anonymous source of the documents was “unimpeachable,” when they knew all along he was Bush-hater and Democratic Party activist Bill Burkett.

And nowhere does the Times report asking Moonves why CBS lied about Burkett until bloggers and a few MSM journalists finally exposed CBS.

Are the Times' omissions examples of “professional courtesy” among MSM news organizations?

I think so. What about you?

And what about today?

Well, despite economic setbacks, both the NYT and CBS remain very powerful news manipulation organizations.

That should concern all Americans who want unbiased news.

The fight goes on.

Can McClatchy and the Raleigh N&O get worse?

The McClatchy News Co. and the Raleigh News & Observer tilt so far liberal/left that folks often say they don't see how either can get any worse.

Well, before you agree with those folks, take a look at McClatchy and the N&O's latest which comes to us via Mike Williams (Another excellent letter, Mike. You really should start blogging. JinC) - - -

Yesterday I noticed this McClatchy rant in the N&O. It starts off:

The war in Iraq has become "a major debacle" and the outcome "is in doubt" despite improvements in security from the buildup in U.S. forces, according to a highly critical study published Thursday by the Pentagon's premier military educational institute….

And here is an excerpt from today’s editorials:

As to the report from the National Defense University, there is simply confirmation of the views of the Bush administration's congressional critics who have long disputed the wisdom of invading Iraq in the first place. And then there were the bumbling strategies that have had to be reconfigured after years of mismanagement of the war effort.

The editors of the Small Wars Journal noted the same article in the Miami Herald and posted this:

The Miami Herald piece on a NDU "occasional paper" (Choosing War: The Decision to Invade Iraq and Its Aftermath), quoted alternately as a Pentagon or NDU study, raised some flags here at SWJ. So we asked the author, Joseph Collins, to provide some context. His reply:

The Miami Herald story ("Pentagon Study: War is a 'Debacle' ") distorts the nature of and intent of my personal research project [my emphasis]. It was not an NDU study, nor was it a Pentagon study. Indeed, the implication of the Herald story was that this study was mostly about current events. Such is not the case. It was mainly about the period 2002-04. The story also hypes a number of paragraphs, many of which are quoted out of context. The study does not "lay much of the blame" on Secretary Rumsfeld for problems in the conduct of the war, nor does it say that he "bypassed the Joint Chiefs of Staff." It does not single out "Condoleeza Rice and Stephen Hadley" for criticism….

SWJ Editors Note: Unfortunately this is not the first instance - nor will it be the last – of highly selective use of source quotes and excerpts as well as distortion of context by members of the “mainstream media” in reporting on recent events and trends in Iraq…

And from Charles Bird at Red State:

This is just the latest example of McClatchy clinging to its narrative of downtalking Iraq despite the facts and despite the actual situation on the ground. A few weeks ago, in the wake of the Basra offensive, Leila Fadel of McClatchy clearly colored her reporting to proclaim Muqtada al Sadr the victor and Nouri al Maliki the loser. The reality is that the situation in Basra has improved since Iraqi forces entered the city.

Leila Fadel of McClatchy is an uncritical cheerleader of that Soros-funded study.

Leila Fadel (and co-journalist Mohammed al Dulaimy) was quick to report a mass slaying of 11 in Baghdad, "underscoring the fragility of recent declines in violence." The problem is that the story is a hoax.

McClatchy was quick to report that twenty headless bodies were found near Baghdad last June. Quote: "A car bomb parked at a crowded Baghdad bus terminal killed at least 25 Thursday morning, while 20 beheaded bodies were found on the banks of the Tigris River southeast of the capital…The beheaded remains were found in the Sunni Muslim village of Um al Abeed, near the city of Salman Pak, 14 miles southeast of Baghdad." QandO compiled other similar reports of the slaughter, but the problem is that the massacre never happened (McClatchy removed the link and, best as I can tell, replaced it with this).

Jay Price and Qasim Zein of McClatchy produced this ridiculous story, lamenting the loss of business for Najaf cemetery workers because of the declines in violence.

I know it's tough being in the newspaper business, but there could very well be a connection between their sloppy, inaccurate reporting and the fact that their stock price has dropped around 70% in the last twelve months.

We’ll give the last word on this to Ed Morrissey:

…what the Miami Herald didn’t report was that the study looked at a specific time period and has little bearing on the current status of the conflict. How do we know that? A blogger decided to do what the Herald couldn’t — journalism….

Does this remind anyone of the paper analyzing the Harmony documents? The initial reporting, based on a leak from the Pentagon, claimed that the paper showed no links between Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship and al-Qaeda. When the entire report got released, it turned out to show very specific links to various terrorist groups, including two AQ organizations, one of which was Ayman al-Zawahiri’s Egyptian Islamic Jihad.

Perhaps the Herald [and the N&O] should rethink its approach to journalism. Wouldn’t it make sense to contact the author of a paper before embarrassing the media outlet with faulty conclusions? SWJ certainly thought so — and showed themselves superior to the layer of fact-checkers and editors at a major-market newspaper. Unfortunately, that’s becoming a dog-bites-man story.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Churchill Series - Apr. 18, 2008

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

In yesterday's post I promised to say something about Churchill and guns.

I've gone back and found this post from last year which recounts how a gun - a type of Mauser pistol - saved Churchill's life when he was a young man.

Here's the post ----

Yesterday’s series post included a link to a few details concerning the Battle of Omdurman fought Sept. 2, 1898. During the battle, Churchill, a Lieutenant commending a squadron, took part in the last major cavalry charge of the British army. The British victory at Omdurman over the Dervish army secured the upper Nile (now Sudan) for Queen Victoria’s Empire.

I said yesterday I’d post today on how an accident in India saved Churchill’s life at Omdurman. Here how that came about.

Regulars to this series will recall that when the ship carrying Churchill's regiment first arrived in India, he was stepping off a small landing boat and preparing to mount steps that would take him up the side of a quay. At that moment the landing boat started drifting away from the steps. Churchill grabbed for a rope ring to avoid falling into the water. He saved himself from falling, but in the process sustained a serious muscle tear at the place where his arm and shoulder joined. The tear left Churchill with a life-long limited rotation in his right arm and shoulder.

Now he tells us what he did in consideration of his shoulder problem and how it saved his life. From My Early Life:

I had always decided that if I were involved in hand-to-hand fighting, I must use a pistol and not a sword. I had purchased in London a Mauser automatic pistol, then the newest and the latest design. I had practiced carefully with this during our march and journey up the river. This then was the weapon with which I determined to fight. . . .(pg. 189)
Now in the midst of the battle Churchill finds himself separated from his troop and surrounded by Dervish fighters. He’s mounted and the Dervishes are on foot. One gets close beside his and intends to swing for Churchill’s leg and cut his hamstring muscle so he’ll be unable to control his horse:
… I saw the gleam of his curved sword as he drew it back for a ham-stringing cut. I had room and time enough to turn my pony out of his reach, and leaning over on the off side I fired two shots into him at three yards.

As I straightened myself in the saddle, I saw before me another figure with uplifted sword. I raised my pistol and fired. So close were we that the pistol itself actually struck him. Man and sword disappeared below and behind me. (pg. 191)
Churchill was twenty-three at the time. He lived on another sixty-seven years to become the last surviving British officer to have participated in the famous cavalry charge at Omdurman.

A very informed series reader provided the following information:

"It is also interesting to know that the Mauser automatic used by Churchill at Omdurman was a broom handle Mauser with a shoulder stock, the perfect weapon to have one hand guiding the horse and the maximum bracing for the gun (the shoulder and the grip on the pistol). It was chambered in .30 Mauser, regarded in its day as a hot pistol load. For those not gun aficionados, the stock functioned as a holster and had a slot that allowed the pistol to be attached to the rear of the grip."

You'll see what the reader's istalking about at this site where there's a photo of the pistol with the stock attached and much information.

I hope you all have a very nice weekend.


Chronicle’s DUPD edit & citizen journalism

The Chronicle’s just completed a three-part series: A Look Inside DUPD. You can read the three stories here, here and here. They’re must reading for anyone at Duke or in Durham concerned with public safety on and off campus.

The series reporter, Rob Copeland, its contributor, Chelsea Allison, and the editors who worked the series have done an outstanding job digging out documentary evidence, conducting interviews and producing three well-written reports that paint a picture of an understaffed DUPD which, as a Chronicle editorial puts it today, is “undergoing …extreme turmoil and turnover.”

In this post I want to provide key portions of the editorial and then portions of comments on the edit’s thread. The editorial deserves our attention ; the comments, in the best tradition of citizen journalism, “extend the discussion” and further inform the reader.

From The Chronicle’s editorial:

After a semester in which two local university students were murdered, it is all the more unnerving that Duke University Police Department is undergoing such extreme turmoil and turnover. More than ever, DUPD needs effective leadership-and attrition rates suggest it has nothing of the sort.

This board has criticized DUPD in the past but has generally recognized that the organization, though flawed, is functional. Under the leadership of Associate Vice President for Campus Safety and Security Aaron Graves and Maj. Gloria Graham, we cannot be sure of that-or of our security-anymore. (emphasis mine)

Graves was hired in January 2006 for the new position. He hired Graham, his colleague at the University of Southern California, to be operations commander in July 2007, though because she lacked police officer certification she did not begin work until this January.

That more than one-third of the DUPD force has left since their arrival can hardly be coincidence, especially in light of wrongful termination lawsuits brought against Graham and Graves at USC.

The suits allege abusive treatment of employees and racial discrimination, two issues former DUPD officers have raised. These concerns, along with the reported "my way or the highway" attitude of Graves and Graham, have lowered morale within the department and resulted in the loss of experienced officers. Some officers have even retired early rather than risk a poor performance report that could lower their pensions.

Though on paper Graves may have looked like a suitable candidate, it's disappointing that the University dismissed these lawsuits so cavalierly and did not speak to his colleagues at USC directly during the search. Now, more than two years later, we are seeing the results.

The administration is aware of the problems under Graves and Graham, and we approve of their hiring Sibson Consulting to analyze the situation.

The University must actively recruit seasoned veterans to replace those lost, but more importantly it needs to ensure there's someone qualified at the top. If that's not Graves, we see no reason to keep him around.

[DUPD’s] smaller, younger work force may lack knowledge about and familiarity with Duke that is essential to making them Duke's Finest. Although the effect on crime is yet unknown, the loss of experienced officers will certainly be a problem for DUPD in future. …

As students, we take for granted that DUPD has the capacity to strengthen and expand patrols when crime increases. Our confidence now seems misguided.

The entire editorial is here.

Now below are the citizen journalists' comments in italics. The first comment here is not first on the editorial thread, but I’m placing it first here because many of us have never heard of Sibson Consulting. But take a look at what a “puzzled” citizen journalist, having done his or her own digging, provides us by way of additional information and extending the discussion concerning Duke's decision to hire Sibson Consulting.

I am puzzled by Duke's hiring of Sibson Consulting.

-- I have reviewed the Sibson website and find NOTHING that would suggest qualification for this mission.

-- I have talked this morning with two high level human resource professionals who are familiar with the company. They provided no clue either.

The lack of qualification is readily apparent if you read Sibson's quarterly magazine, and I have just reviewed back copies for three years. The entire focus is on subjects such as employee stock options, cheating retirees out of health coverage, higher executive compensation, how to cope with shareholders and the media pissed at excessive executive salaries. One article I liked was entitled "Are Management Mandates Wasting Your (Employees) Time."

Are we victims of Sibson's recently enlarged Raleigh office and the aaggressive need for business to spread the larger overhead? What expertise does Sibson ofer, precisely, that bears upon the problems in Duke Police?

Who hired Sibson? Was it Executive Vice President Trask, who bears direct responsibility for the mess in Duke Police? This sounds to me like a move to duck responsibility.

Who hired Graves? Trask bears direct responsibility. Did he consider the situation at USC? When were the lawsuits against USC/Graves filed?

Should due diligence have disclosed this problem before Duke imported it?

The problem goes well beyond Graves and his hiring of a police commander.


Both the University and The Chronicle should promptly respond to the important, information seeking question the comment/citizen journalist asks.

I’ll end with a sampling from other commenters/citizen journalists:

It is heartening that the Duke Chronicle is finally looking into problems within the DUPD associated with Aaron Graves mismanagement of his responsibilities.

What is amazing, however, is the [Chronicle’s] continued willingness to turn a blind eye to the allegations of gross abuse of his office presented in the Duke lacrosse case.

Is there no one at the Chronicle who wants to get to the bottom of the allegation that DUPD officers, including particularly Officer Day, were told to amend their reports from March 14, 2006 to avoid contradicting the version of events being spun by Mike Nifong?

Who authorized release of the Duke students confidential FERPA information to the Durham PD, and then attempted to cover-up the fact?

Who hacked into the Duke students private email accounts?

Who sent out false emails from a Duke student's address?

Who authorized providing Durham PD with access into Duke dorms, without warrants, to search rooms and confront students without counsel present?

Who was present at the high-level meetings with Durham officials in which the Durham PD was instructed to "indict someone, any three lacrosse players would do" to quell the threat of mob violence in response to Nifong's inflammatory public accusations?

Just as the case against the Duke students required new, honest leadership, in the form of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, in replacement of the corrupt Mike Nifong, to reveal the truth, so will Duke University need new, honest leadership, to get to the bottom of the DUPD's role in this travesty of injustice.

duke is has lost the meaning for morality, for charity, for accountability, and now for safety...and still NO ONE IS ACCOUNTABLE...

So Obama's going to unite us

Here's Sen. Obama, the candidate who wants to unite us.

If Obama's nominated, do you think he'll flip Sen. McCain during a debate?

We learn more about Senator Obama every day.

Burness confirmed as defendant in Pressler suit

Wednesday afternoon I posted Pressler slander suit to go forward.

In his story on the court proceeding, Durham Herald Sun reporter Ray Gronberg mentioned both Duke University and its senior vice president for public affairs and government relations John Burness were defendants.

I said while Gronberg is a very able reporter, I thought Burness had been dropped from the suit and only Duke was now a defendant.

I promised to check with Gronberg and get back to you.

I checked and received the following reply from Gronberg:

Re the post from yesterday,

Burness was added as a defendant when Pressler’s lawyers refiled the case as a slander claim. See yesterday’s court docket at, item #28. I’ve taken the liberty of inserting the relevant text below
If you use the link Gronberg provided, it'll take you to that part of the docket (#28) where both Duke and Burness are listed as defendants.

I’ll post a note at the head of Pressler slander suit to go forward with a link to this post.

I thank Gronberg for providing the information and link.

And I’ve just moved him from the “very able” to the “very, very able” category.

No surprise here

Sam Youngman at The Hill reports:

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) filed a number of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with Cabinet-level agencies and inter-agency departments looking for opposition research to use against presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.).

In early February, there was a sharp uptick in the number of FOIA requests from the DNC with McCain as a specific target. February was about the same time McCain emerged as the front-runner and likely nominee. …
The rest of the story’s here.

Who’s surprised the DNC part of the Democratic Attack Machine is hard at work digging for dirt?

But you have to wonder why the liberal/left MSM, which swears it puts it politics aside when it reports the news, is always talking about the Republican Attack Machine but has so little to say about its own Democratic Attack Machine.

Obama bungled the Ayers question

Here’s Washington Post Style columnist Tom Shales reacting to ABC’s George Stephanopoulas question to Sen. Obama in Tuesday debate concerning the Senator’s relationship with unrepentant Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers:

The boyish Stephanopoulos … looked like an overly ambitious intern helping out at a subcommittee hearing, digging through notes for something smart-alecky and slimy. He came up with such tired tripe as a charge that Obama once associated with a nutty bomb-throwing anarchist. That was "40 years ago, when I was 8 years old," Obama said with exasperation.
If cries of “shody” and “despicable” emanating from Shales, Sen. Obama’s campaign workers and many Obama media flacks satisfy concerns you have about the Senator’s relationship with Ayes, you don’t need to read National Review White House correspondent Byron York’s column in The Hill.

For the rest of you, York IMO provides the best report and analysis of Obama’s response to the Ayers question [extracts]
… ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Obama about Obama’s relationship with William Ayers, the unrepentant former member of the Weather Underground.

“An early organizing meeting for your state Senate campaign was held at his house, and your campaign has said you are friendly,” Stephanopoulos said to Obama. “Can you explain that relationship for the voters, and explain to Democrats why it won’t be a problem?”

At first Obama downplayed his connection with Ayers. “This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who’s a professor of English in Chicago, who I know and who I have not received an official endorsement from,” Obama said. “He’s not somebody who I exchange ideas with on a regular basis.”

Then Obama downplayed the question’s relevance. “The notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values doesn’t make much sense.”

And then, the Coburn Card.

“The fact is that I’m also friendly with Tom Coburn, one of the most conservative Republicans in the United States Senate,” Obama said, “who during his campaign once said that it might be appropriate to apply the death penalty to those who carried out abortions.

“Do I need to apologize for Mr. Coburn’s statements? Because I certainly don’t agree with those, either.”

Where to start?

Well, Coburn is ardently anti-abortion. So much so that he once said, during his 2004 Senate campaign, “I favor the death penalty for abortionists and other people who take life.”

It’s a far-out position. But note a couple of things. Coburn also said in the campaign that he realizes abortion is not, you know, against the law. And he does not support the death penalty for people who haven’t broken the law and who haven’t received due process if they have.

“I understand what the law is,” Coburn said during the 2004 campaign. “My hope would be that we would get back to a time when we recognize the value of life, and I think we’re not.”

Now, that’s still an out-there position. Coburn’s dream is not going to happen.

But wouldn’t Coburn be more comparable to Ayers if he, Coburn, had bombed abortion clinics in the past — and then said that he not only did not regret bombing the clinics but wished that he had done more? And then, after bombing abortion clinics and refusing to express regret, he held a political event in his home for Barack Obama, which Obama attended?
What York asks rhetorically makes perfect sense and exposes Obama’s equating of Coburn to Ayers as ludicrous. That’s why you wouldn’t find it in Tom Shales' column or a NY Times “news analysis” of the debate.

Back to York:
And if all that had happened, would Obama say it wasn’t a problem because Coburn had bombed those clinics a long time ago, when Obama was just 8 years old?

Do you believe that would endear Obama to voters in the Democratic primaries?

As it was, Obama used his Senate colleague Coburn to suggest that the issue was not one of violence, and radicalism, and lawbreaking, but rather a simple disagreement: Sen. Coburn and I disagree on some things, and yet we’re still friendly. Bill Ayers and I disagree on some things, and yet we’re still friendly. So what’s the problem?
York wants Obama to tell us more about his relationship with Ayers. York also notes a growing number of Americans are concerned about Obama’s relationship with people who work against America’s interests:
Obama needs to tell us more about his relationship with Ayers. It’s important because voters might well wonder whether that relationship, coupled with Obama’s longtime relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is the beginning of a pattern, a pattern in which Obama seems quite comfortable with people who really, really, really don’t like the United States of America.

It’s a reasonable question, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) was right to suggest that Republicans will raise it in the general election campaign if Obama is the Democratic candidate.

They will — and they should.

Why not clear it up now?
Shales column is here; York’s column is here.

Carter’s Hamas Visit Outcomes (a parody)

First, he defects.

You say: “So what? He’s already working for Hamas.”

Well, sure, but until now it’s only been part-time.

Imagine what will happen when he’s full-time with Hamas.

Remember what he did to America in just four years?

The Palestinians think their economy’s a wreck now?

Wait til they see what happens when Carter starts helping them.

When things go from very bad to even worse, Carter delivers a speech about “the malaise out there in Gaza.”

A few days later, he reveals at Huffington Post he’s become a Muslim “because that’s in the interests of world peace.” He's also taken a second wife.

She’s Yassir Arafat’s widow.

Her dowry is a $100 million gift from her former husband’s estimated $1 billion plus estate to the Carter Center.

Carter jokes with the press that the $100 million “ain’t peanuts,” before pledging the Carter Center will use the money “to advance the cause of world peace.”

By this time a month has passed and Hamas leaders agree “Sheik Carter” has done all he can for them. They beg the Israelis to let him leave the area of Gaza they control.

Israel at first refuses, but negotiations ensue.

Soon the first ever direct agreement between Hamas and Israel is reached.

In exchange for Israel letting Carter enter its country and take a flight back to the U. S., Hamas agrees to first refrain from any act of terrorism for three months.

Carter says, “I’m proud to have played a part in bringing Hamas and Israel together.”

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Churchill Series - Apr. 17, 2008

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

A commenter yesterday mentioned guns in connection with Churchill. I'll post a few thoughts tomorrow in response. In the meantime, I thank the commenter.

As for this post today, I hope you all agree that while it's brief, it's also comprehensive.

On May 21, 1952 during Prime Minister's Question Time, Labour Member Colonel Lipton asked:

“Will the Prime Minister state which Commonwealth Governments have been invited to send observers to the British atom bomb tests in Australia?”
Churchill responded:
“None, sir.”
Lipton pressed just as we see members do now on C-SPAN’s replays of PM’s Question Time:
“Is it not desirable when the economic and other relationships between the Commonwealth countries are more disrupted than they have been, that they should be brought into consideration which would enable Commonwealth observers to be present?

May I ask the Prime Minister if he will condescend to answer that question?

If he is not interested in the matter, then of course he need not answer the question."
“It was after full consideration of all those points that I gave my somewhat comprehensive or rather exclusively comprehensive answer, ‘None, sir.’”
The Churchill Centre, Prime Minister's Questions.

Chronicle edit shows poor judgment

Here are portions of today’s Chronicle editorial followed by my comments below the star line.

The Chronicle begins - - -

Tonight's talk featuring author David Horowitz gives a stage for an inflammatory demagogue.

It will mark an encore appearance for Horowitz, who came to Page Auditorium in March 2006 with a speech sponsored by Students for Academic Freedom amid general hoopla and audience antics from his opponents and supporters.

Inviting Horowitz as a speaker so soon after his SAF-sponsored appearance signals a preference on the part of Duke Conservative Union for inciting belligerent dispute rather than encouraging intelligent discourse.

The two are not always mutually exclusive, but in this case, there seems to be little reason to expect a second dose of Horowitz to provide anything more substantial than the rather unconstructive first.

This is largely because Horowitz's approach is an indiscriminate, scattershot attack on the left. …

He seeks to severely curtail faculty freedom in the classroom, and his overblown, hyperbolic criticisms of certain ideas as "dangerous" are haphazard at best. Moreover, he espouses political views that can only be described as bigoted-his proposal to combat so-called "Islamofascism" is for Muslims to do away with chunks of the Quran. Where are his calls for Jews and Christians to do the same for offensive portions of their holy books?

Finally, Horowitz's motivations for coming to Duke are questionable. He seems to be making an appearance expressly to incite anger among students. …

We are not calling for Horowitz to be censored, though we recognize that he does not share the same reluctance when it comes to stifling the voices of certain professors at Duke and elsewhere.

It is not that his presence is in any way a threat; it's just that the prospect of listening to him voice the same turgid, pointlessly inflammatory rhetoric is, frankly, unexciting.

[We] welcome Horowitz to Duke with open minds if not with open arms. Unlike the man himself, we trust students' ability to freely form opinions rather than be forced into them, despite the "dangerous" ideas that we allow to be expressed on our campus.

The entire Chronicle editorial is here.



I don’t doubt the students on The Chronicle’s editorial board believe they’re “welcome[ing] Horowitz to Duke with open minds[.]”

And I don’t doubt that it hasn’t occurred to them that one reason it would be interesting to hear Horowitz speak at Duke is for what he might say about the University’s response to the wildly improbable and self-contradicting lies Crystal Mangum told, and the great harms and many injustices that flowed from them.

Doesn't The Chronicle know that's all happened since Horowitz last spoke at Duke?

Why is it that so many Duke faculty either remained silent or embraced Mangum's lies?

Would something like that happen at any high-tuition university?

Why was there almost no faculty condemnation of those who rallied to CASTRATE and GIVE THEM EQUEAL MEASURE banners?

If Horowitz spoke about those questions and others relating to the terrible events which have involved Duke these past two years, I don’t doubt The Chronicle’s editorial board might find his remarks “turgid.”

If Horowitz discussed why he thinks The Chronicle has never editorially criticized those who waved the banners or remained silent when others did, the editorial board members might find what he said “pointlessly inflammatory rhetoric.”

But that’s no reason why others shouldn’t have a chance to listen to Horowitz.

Is there really a good reason for The Chronicle’s editorial this morning?

On the editorial’s thread I left the following comment expressing a very serious concern I have about the editorial. I hope some of you comment also. And please share your comments here.

To the Chronicle Editorial Board:

Your editorial shows remarkably poor judgment.

It's a serious risk for Horowitz to appear on many campuses.

Recently at Emory the university police and administrators told him in the midst of his talk to an audience which included many extremely hostile faculty and students that they could not guarantee his safety.

He was advised to leave the lectern and police escorted him off the campus.

Your editorial is inciteful.

At Duke we’ve seen CASTRATE and GIVE THEM EQUAL MEASURE banners; “Vigilante” posters, and faculty thanking the crowds who rallied with the banners and posters “for not waiting.”

How did you ever convince yourselves Duke needed your editorial on the morning Horowitz is scheduled to speak?


John in Carolina

President Brodhead’s “Marley problem”

Under the heading, "Brodhead responds to threats on student," The Chronicle today published a letter from President Brodhead. It follows in full, after which I comment below the star line.

To the editor:

I am distressed by the news reported in Wednesday's Chronicle that a Duke student and her family in China have been subjected to attacks as a result of the student's participation at a rally last week at Duke. Physical intimidation is the antithesis of reason, and there can be no justification for such attacks.

The deepest principle involved in the discussions at Duke about the current conflict between China and Tibet is not the principle of free speech, as important as that is. It's the principle of education through dialogue. Universities, in particular, must give wide latitude to free speech and free debate because the pursuit of truth through the encounter of divergent points of view is the very stuff of education.

This community must stand united in its affirmation of the principles of open and unfettered debate. I am pleased that the leaders of the Duke Chinese Students and Scholars Association and others at Duke have strongly condemned the attacks against our student.

Richard Brodhead


I applaud President Brodhead’s letter as will all decent people.

But a great many people will then ask: why didn’t Brodhead speak out when Duke students on the Men’s 2006 lacrosse team were threatened by a hate-filled crowd which included Duke faculty, staff and students and carried CASTRATE and GIVE THEM EQUAL MEASURE banners?

When racists at the Durham County courthouse shouted death threats at Duke Sophomore Reade Seligmann, why did Brodhead decide to remain silent? Why were there no words of condemnation for the racists and no words of compassion for Seligmann and his parents?

Many of you recall what happened on Mar. 29, 2006.

For those who don’t, I offer this letter which appeared in the Apr.2, 2006 Raleigh News & Observer:

To the editor:

As one of the organizers of the March 29 Take Back the Night (TBTN) march and speak-out at Duke University, I want to clarify that we did not plan, nor do we endorse, the distribution of names and pictures of members of the Duke men's lacrosse team. ( The letter writer is speaking about what’s known as the “Vigilante” poster which contained face photos of 43 white members of Duke’s lacrosse team. – JinC )

The distribution of the pictures, the targeting of the lacrosse team, and the violence implicit in the defacement of the pictures are nothing less than violations of the space that TBTN exists to create. The event is neither a protest of the kind we've witnessed recently, a forum for accusation nor a place to target and defame. That some attendees tried to make it so is saddening and not at all in the spirit of the event.

That being said, TBTN was a resounding success. It was inspiring to see that students, administrators, faculty and community members from Durham and N.C. Central University could come together in incredible numbers for what was, on the whole, a beautiful event.

I hope that, in the future, the Duke community, and the Durham community at large, can continue to unite to address these issues and offer support to survivors.


Geoffrey Lorenz was listed as the letter writer. As far as I know, he has no formal connection to Duke.

The terrible events Lorenz describes took place within sight of President Brodhead’s office windows. To this day, he’s said nothing critical of those who distributed the “Vigilante” posters and perpetrated the other threatening acts.

However, Brodhead did subsequently tell a Durham audience that whatever the players did “was bad enough.”

He remained through late December 2006 one of the now disbarred Mike Nifong’s most important enablers.

In Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Jacob Marley warns his old partner Ebenezer Scrooge to repent lest he suffer Marley’s fate of carrying “the chains forged in life” through eternity.

Richard Brodhead will always carry “the chains” he forged when he abandoned the Duke lacrosse team.

His letter today is a reminder of that.

Duke needs a new President.

At Raleigh N&O Job Cuts Loom

Back on Jan. 24 I posted Raleigh N&O Cuts Jobs, Outsources.

Today the Durham-based weekly Independent reports under Fiona Morgan’s byline the N&O is likely to make more job cuts.

Excerpts from the Indy’s story follow, after which I comment below the star line.

…Full-time news staffs at daily papers fell by 2,400 last year, a 4.4 percent drop and the largest decrease in 30 years, according to the American Society of Newspaper Editors' annual census released this week.

The News & Observer is not immune. At a meeting last week, executive editor John Drescher warned newsroom staffers there could be some tough cuts.

"We continue to have trouble financially and all options are on the table," Drescher says. He and publisher Orage Quarles III are discussing whether to cut payroll, pages or both. Dresher says he would prefer any staff reductions to be the result of attrition, as has been the paper's policy to date. "I hope that we're able to avoid layoffs." The newspaper employs 206 editorial staff.

Drescher says he expects a final decision from Quarles within two weeks. "Obviously I'll argue my case as best I can, but I understand that there are overall needs of the company too." …

"We're not the only newspaper in this situation," Drescher says. "Generally speaking, we've fared much better than most. The News & Observer Publishing Company made its budget last year; it's one of the few McClatchy newspapers to do so."

On March 30, The N&O published a set of articles discussing its future. Drescher was proud to announce that while paid daily print circulation of about 178,000 papers has "plateaued," online readership has grown. Add print readers to online readers, and the paper's total readership has grown 19 percent, he says.

"If these readership numbers were going down, I'd be really bummed out," Drescher says. "But the numbers are pretty strong, and that makes me feel confident that there's still demand for what we do."

The problem is how to make enough money online to recoup lost revenue. No one in the newspaper industry has figured out the answer.

The N&O went through a period of cost-cutting and restructuring last year under previous editor Melanie Sill. (See "What's going on at The N&O?" March 28, 2007.)

To reduce pages, two Sunday sections were combined, a change Drescher says he's been pleased with. Some editors, reporters and columnists were reassigned in lieu of layoffs. …

Morgan’s entire story is here.



I’m sorry for the people who will lose their jobs. I hope the N&O actually provides those people with substantial severance packages and not token ones as some news organizations have done.

Editor Drescher’s remarks sound like the Captain of the Titanic reassuring passengers: “I’m pleased to be able to tell you it’s been more than 20 minutes since we hit the iceberg, and we’re only listing slightly.”

I don’t know who Drescher thinks he’s fooling with talk about being, as Morgan reports it, “proud to announce that, while paid daily print circulation of about 178,000 papers has ‘plateaued,’ online readership has grown. Add print readers to online readers, and the paper's total readership has grown 19 percent, he says.”

The population and economy in the N&O’s circulation area has boomed for years. The Durham Herald Sun’s circulation in Durham and Orange counties, where the N&O and the H-S compete, has plummeted since Bob Ashley took over as H-S editor, meaning there were many thousands of former H-S subscribers the N&O could have signed up. And for the last two years the Duke Hoax – one of the biggest news stories in North Carolina’s history - has played out in the N&O’s circulation area.

And Drescher says he’s proud the N&O’s print circulation has plateaued.

Give me a lifeboat!

I’m going to post again on the Indy story.

For now, these stock quotes for the N&O’s parent company, McClatchy News (stock symbol MNI), may interest you.

According to

On Jan. 3, 2005, the first day of trading for that year and the time Ashley took over as H-S editor, MNI closed at 71.01.

On Mar. 24, 2006 the day the N&O “broke” the Duke lacrosse story MNI closed at 48.10.

As of 1 PM ET today, Apr. 17, 2008 MNI was trading at 9.34.

Zogby’s latest Pa. poll & the beer question

Zogby’s latest Pa. polling report begins - - -

With just five days left before Democratic primary voters go to polls to decide who they want to be their presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois are locked in a battle that is too close to call, the latest Newsmax/Zogby telephone poll shows.

The survey, which was conducted April 15-16, 2008 and came out of the field midway through Wednesday's contentious debate between the two candidates in Philadelphia, shows Clinton at 45% and Obama at 44%, with 12% either wanting someone else or left undecided. …

After reporting the numbers, John Zogby provided his analysis. Parts of it follow in italics; then come my comments in plain.

"This is not a year for negative campaigning and Clinton's pounding of Obama on his controversial description of small town voters in Pennsylvania does not seem to be working.

"Obama leads in the Philadelphia and eastern part of the Commonwealth, among African Americans, and Very Liberal Pennsylvanians. He also has a slight lead among voters in union households and has an 18 point margin over those who have lost a job.

"Clinton maintains her lead among whites, Catholics, Liberals, and Hispanics.

"The gender gap is huge with Obama leading among men by 15 and Clinton leading among women by 15. But Clinton holds a wide advantage on the question of understanding Pennsylvania (58%-27%) and handling the economy of the country (47%-38%). She also is ahead in understanding the personal financial situation of individuals (41%-35%).

"On the other hand, Pennsylvanians by a two to one margin (60% to 29%) are more likely to agree with supporters of Obama that voters in Pennsylvania are bitter about their economic situation than with Clinton and critics of Obama that he is an elitist who does not understand working people.

"On the key questions of who they would rather have a beer with: Clinton 38%, Obama 39%—with 15% undecided.

Zogby's entire report is here.

The beer question!

I don’t take it too seriously. After all, are the 15% undecideds that way because they can’t make up their minds which of the candidates they’d rather have a beer with or are they just not sure they want a beer with anyone?

Maybe they’re all single malt drinkers.

Zogby doesn't say.

Moving on, there’s one serious use we can all make of the beer question.

It should remind us that when we hear pundits talk about the impact Sen. Obama’s “cling to bitter” remarks have had on voters in Pa., the election next week will only give us some sense of how the remarks may have affected Dem primary voters given only a choice between Obama and Sen. Clinton.

We won’t know from the Pa. primary results how Obama’s remarks may be affecting Republicans and Independents in Pa.

And we won’t know how they may affect the American electorate in November should Obama, as many think, be the Dems’ nominee.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Churchill Series - Apr. 16, 2008

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

In response to yesterday's post, one of you noted Treasure Island was one of the books Churchill read.

Yes, he did. As boy and man, it was one of his favorite books. Thank you, Anon Commenter.

Now today's post - - -

During the winter of 1931/32 Churchill made an extensive lecture tour in the United States.

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

During a lengthy convalescence, part of which was spent in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Churchill and his bodyguard, Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Walter Thompson, realized they had not registered or received permits for the pistols they carried.

They agreed Thompson would take the pistols down to Police headquarters and set matters right.

When Thompson returned to the Waldorf, he explained to Churchill what had happened.

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

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

The police said they understand his position but there were still those laws.

Thompson continued pressing. Soon he was told the Police Chief himself would speak to him.

The Chief had been briefed on the problem. “We can’t give you official permission,” he told Thompson. Then he added: “But if you have to use weapons just let us know and we will square it for you.”

Churchill took it all in before telling Thompson the Americans were “an amazing people.”
Tom Hickman, Churchill's Bodyguard. (pgs. 70-71)

Pressler slander suit to go forward

Reader Alert: I question in the post below whether a report that Duke senior vice president John Burness is a defendant in the Pressler suit is correct. I checked with the reporter on the story who confirmed that Burness has now been added as a defendant. You can read more here.

I thank the reporter, Ray Gronberg, for his help.


The Durham Herald Sun reports under Ray Gronberg’s byline:

Superior Court Judge Howard Manning ruled today that former Duke lacrosse coach Mike Pressler can pursue his claims against the university and university spokesman John Burness. …

The judge didn't address the merits of Pressler's claims, but said he was mystified why Burness made the comments he did to columnist Steven Marcus at Long Island's Newsday and to Aaron Beard of The Associated Press long after Pressler had taken another coaching job.

Pressler became the lacrosse coach at a Rhode Island school, Bryant University, in 2006, four months after leaving Duke.

Burness' comments appeared in April and June of 2007.

Pressler claims Burness maligned him by implying to Marcus that he hadn't controlled his team, and by allegedly telling Beard there was a night-and-day difference between Pressler and his successor at Duke, coach John Danowski.

Pressler was forced out in 2006, the height of the controversy triggered by an exotic dancer's false allegations that she'd been raped by three members of the 2005-06 lacrosse team.

Technically he resigned, but neither side has ever tried to hide the fact he did so under pressure from the Duke administration.
The entire H-S story’s here.

Gronberg’s a very able reporter. I plan to contact him to check whether Burness is a defendant in the suit.

My understanding is Duke is the only defendant; the suit simply names Burness as having acted in Duke’s name.

I’ll let you know what I hear back from Gronberg.

The Raleigh N&O’s report of today’s decision included this which I found informative:
…John M. Simpson, a lawyer representing Duke, argued that when Pressler started at Duke in 1990, he signed an agreement to go through an arbitration process with any employment complaints.

Lawyers Don Strickland and Jay Trehy, who represent Pressler, argued that Pressler could not be held to those terms in the slander case because the remarks came after his employment at Duke ended. …
The entire N&O story is here.

WRAL's report on the story is here.

Question: Does anyone have recent membership figures for MoveOn.Duke?

Hat tips: A number of you who are helpful and on to things before I am. Many thanks.

Please keep working to keep me up with "the latest."


Speaking up for Obama

I often disagree with Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Clarance Page, but he’s always informed and reasonable. Today, he offers what I think is the “best case” so far from “the Obama side” concerning the Senator’s “bittergate” remarks.

Page begins - - -

Why do Americans look up for people to look down on?

We Americans sometimes baffle ourselves with ambivalence toward ambition and success.

We applaud "merit," for example, yet we turn up our noses at "elitists."

We root for the little guy, yet again and again we elect the wealthy, the powerful and the insider-connected.

In fact, we seem to love elites. It's the snoots we can't stand.

That's why Sen. Hillary Clinton figured she could block rival Sen. Barack Obama's momentum in their Democratic presidential nomination race by playing the "elitist" card.

She targeted some of Obama's remarks at a private fundraiser in San Francisco. As reported by Mayhill Fowler for the Huffington Post Web site, Obama was offering a candid explanation of why many residents of economically struggling industrial towns vote against their own economic interests. They "feel so betrayed by government," he said, that they don't think government is going to help them.

It's going to be a challenge, he said, "to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's not evidence of that in their daily lives." …

Voters don't like to be portrayed in downbeat terms like "bitter" and "cling."

Obama, of all people, knows the value of emphasizing an optimistic, can-do spirit. His landmark "One America" speech to the 2004 Democratic National Convention resonated with it. If he thought he could speak more casually at the San Francisco gathering, he was wrong.

That's why Clinton expresses shock - shock! - over his words, even though the sentiments should sound quite familiar to her.

Here, for example, is an account from the Sept. 17, 1991, Los Angeles Times of what her own husband said:

"In complaining that President (George H.W.) Bush has been exploiting the race issue to divide the Democrats, Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, a probable presidential contender, said: 'The reason (Bush's tactic) works so well now is that you have all these economically insecure white people who are scared to death.'"

"As Clinton sees it," wrote Times political reporter Robert Shogan, "Bush has been telling worried white workers: You're right. I won't do anything for you. Government can't do anything for you. But at least I won't do anything to you."

Of course, Obama is more vulnerable to being labeled "out of touch" with middle-American values than Bill Clinton was. Unlike Clinton, Obama did not grow up in a small middle-American town. A description of the attitudes of mostly white factory-town voters that sounds candid when it comes from Clinton can sound condescending when it comes from Obama. …

Page has more to say, including this which left me LOL:

To underscore what a Regular Guy-Person she is, the New York senator held her own weekend blue-collar tour of regular-people places. They included a bar in northern Indiana where she was cajoled into a beer, pizza and a shot of Crown Royal, a fine Canadian whiskey.

A few journalists saw a geographic irony there.

Clinton's chief strategist, Mark Penn, was forced to step down days earlier because he had been advising another client, Colombia's government, in how to win ratification of a free-trade agreement that Clinton opposes. …

Page’s entire column is here.

If you give it a look, I’d be interested to hear what you think.

Hat tip:

Iraq news not in the Raleigh N & O

With a thank you to Mike Williams, one of the best electronice letter writers I know, here's part of Mike's letter today:

The N&O continues to march in lockstep with the NYT on Iraq:

BAGHDAD - A company of Iraqi soldiers abandoned their positions Tuesday night in Sadr City, defying American soldiers who implored them to hold the line against Shiite militias.

The retreat left a crucial stretch of road on the front lines of a battle undefended for hours and led to a tense series of exchanges between American soldiers and about 50 Iraqi troops who were fleeing….

Tuesday's desertions in Sadr City left many U.S. soldiers wondering about the tenacity of their Iraqi allies….

Bill Roggio has an alternative storyline:

Iraqi and Coalition forces are pressing the fight against the Mahdi Army in northeastern Baghdad and the southern port city of Basrah. Iraqi troops have cleared two Mahdi Army strongholds in Basrah and reportedly have surrounded three others as they prepare to press the operation. In Baghdad, the Iraqi Army and US forces continue to clash with the Mahdi Army while forces have moved into southwestern Sadr City and set up a "demonstration area" to distribute aid and provide local security….

Roggio concludes:

Sadr and his political movement have become increasingly isolated since the fighting began in Basrah, Baghdad, and the South. The Iraqi government, with the support of the political parties, said the Sadrist political movement would not be able to participate in upcoming provincial elections if it failed to disband the Mahdi Army. On April 13, the cabinet approved legislation that prevents political parties with militias from contesting provincial elections this year.

The bill will now be sent to parliament for approval. Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani, the senior most Shia cleric in Iraq, said the Mahdi Army was not above the law and should be disarmed.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Churchill Series - Apr. 15, 2008

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

At a dinner party a few years ago someone asked, “John, what books did Churchill read?”

Well, you don’t really try to answer such a question, do you?

A polite response with a little information is all that was called for.

I responded something like this:

When he was 13 he asked his mother as a Christmas to buy him the two-volume set of U. S. Grant’s Memoirs.

When he was in India and in his early twenties, he read many of the classics, including Gibbon’s Decline and Fall.

During WW II he readHuckleberry Finn.

Late in Churchill’s life his physician, Lord Moran, found him in bed reading Orwell’s 1984. Churchill told Moran it was his second reading.

And this: After the war, Churchill developed a small but successful racing stable. So he would often read thoroughbred stud books, although I don’t know that anything he learned in them ever appeared in his speeches.
Do you know of a book Churchill read that you’d like to call to our attention? How about a reference he later made to a book he'd read?

If I get enough responses, I’ll put a post together.

Will “A Look Inside DUPD” Include Mar. 29, 2006?

Today’s Chronicle carries the first story in a three-part series: “A Look Inside DUPD.”

The story, “DUPD plagued by attrition,” begins:

Imagine the uproar if Duke lost nearly one-third of its faculty in two years.

That level of attrition is plaguing the Duke University Police Department, and some officers say campus safety is suffering the consequences.

This semester, although issues of crime and safety have never been more prominent, some DUPD officers say no one seems to care about the turmoil in the department.

"Something bad is going to happen," predicted one officer. "We are surrounded by it, and if something doesn't change we are talking about people getting hurt or killed."

Some of DUPD's most experienced officers have left because of alleged dissatisfaction with current departmental policy and with the leadership of top brass including Aaron Graves, associate vice president for campus safety and security, and Maj. Gloria Graham, DUPD's operations commander.

Graves arrived in 2006 and since then at least 19 officers have left DUPD, more than double the previous rate of attrition. According to its Web site, DUPD has 67 commissioned officers.

"We just don't have enough officers and our reserves are depleted," said one veteran DUPD officer who wished to remain anonymous.

All officers interviewed for this article asked to remain anonymous out of fear of professional consequences. …
The story under Rob Copeland’s byline with Chelsea Allison listed as a contributor provides extensive, well-organized information drawn from a number of sources. In addition to DUPD officers, Graves and Graham, Executive Vice President Tallman Trask was interviewed. Graves reports directly to Trask.

The story concludes:
Graves denied that officer morale has declined during his tenure and said retention involves difficult and complex questions.

"I'm prepared to address these issues but [The Chronicle] is not the forum for that," he said in a brief telephone conversation.
I encourage all of you to read today’s story here.

I have my fingers crossed The Chronicle’s series will include a detailed look at a very important meeting Graves attended on March 29, 2006 and some events surrounding it.

What transpired at that meeting and events surrounding have very likely contributed to DUPD’s low morale and its difficulty filling positions reported by Copeland and Allison.

As reported in a May 30, 2007 Durham Herald Sun story under Ray Gronberg byline:
… The media crush also focused high-level administrative attention on the case. The two detectives, [Gottlieb and Himan,] met on March 29;, 2006] with Baker, Chalmers, Hodge, a police attorney and two Duke University officials -- Associate Vice President for Campus Safety and Security Aaron Graves and Police Director Robert Dean.

[Durham City Manager Patrick] Baker on Tuesday said the March 29 meeting allowed him to hear from Gottlieb and Himan first-hand, to make sure they and Duke police were working smoothly together and to make sure the detectives had the resources they needed to finish the investigation. He said the issue of identifications didn't come up.
I posted on Gronberg’s story the same day it appeared, saying in part:
There are questions raised in my mind by the fact that that particular group of people met on March 29 and by Baker’s preposterous explanation for their meeting.

If Baker just wanted to hear first-hand from Gottlieb and Himan to make sure they were working smoothly with Duke police and had the resources necessary to finish the investigation, what were all those other people doing at the meeting?

Especially, why was “a police attorney” there if the meeting was for the purposes Baker described? And, by the way, who is that police attorney?

Baker didn’t have to involve Graves and Dean if all he wanted to do was hear from Gottlieb and Himan about cooperation between Duke and DPD, did he?

On the other hand, if Baker and DPD wanted to work out something involving Duke and DPD that was very important and/or questionable, that might need a signoff from the “top cops” at Duke.

In that case, Baker would want/need Graves and Dean at the meeting, wouldn’t he? And maybe a police attorney to assure Duke’s “top cops” that ....

Folks, that was a “heavy hitters meeting” involving top law enforcement people at Duke and DPD, with Baker/DPD bringing along an attorney. Some very important things were surely talked about and perhaps decided there.
Further along in that same post I noted Gronberg’s story included this:
Himan finished the job on April 3, the following Monday, after having Clayton and another investigator, Michele Soucie, review the presentation.

The next day, Gottlieb had an office assistant, Van Clinton, look over the presentation again, and then had Clayton and two crime-scene technicians, Angela Ashby and Heather Maddry, help him show it to the accuser.

He also placed a morning call to Graves. Duke officials, like Baker, said the ID process wasn't discussed. "It's my understanding that at that stage it was just about the ways the university could assist in the investigation, and there was no discussion of the ID session," Duke spokesman John Burness said Tuesday.
My reaction to Burness' explanation was:
Woah, Nelly!

Why is Burness speaking for Graves? Shouldn’t Graves be telling us about his phone conversation with Gottlieb?

And what is “It’s my understanding that at that stage” telling us?

It’s such a carefully qualified remark that it left me asking myself again: “Why isn’t Graves telling us about his phone conversation with Gottlieb?

And was it just a coincidence that Gottlieb called Graves on the same day [,Apr. 4,] DPD ran what Professor James Coleman called the “no wrong choice” photo ID procedure which was so essential a part of the frame-up?

What’s my strongest reaction to today’s H-S story? It helps build the case for a thorough investigation by the federal government.
In July 2007 I posted again concerning the Mar. 29 meeting and events surrounding it. Here's part of that post:
Something else: why would Graves and Dean participate in a meeting at which DPD had an attorney; at which the person who called the meeting, Baker, is an attorney; and at which Duke is not represented by an attorney?

Did Graves and Dean have a green light from their Duke supervisors to attend a meeting with Baker and a “police attorney” without Duke being represented by an attorney?

I don’t know what the actual purpose(s) of the March 29 meeting was/were.

But it was surely something very, very important involving law, rights and proper legal conduct. That’s why all those “heavy hitters” were there cum “police attorney.” ...

Now I just want to provide two parts of an outstanding Liestoppers post ...

First, part of a Liestoppers’ timeline based on depositions and Bar trial testimony [that was part of the trial which resulted in then DA Mike Nifong's disbarment]:


March 27, 2006: [Nifong assistant] Sheila Eason requests [via email] information from Duke Police

Hi, Lt. Best.

As we discussed on the phone, Mr. Nifong, our DA wants any and all details documented in writing concerning the incident involving the alleged gang rape by the Duke Lacrosse Team members of Crystal Mangum….All details, even though they may seem insignificant, may add together to help us with this case. Thank you for your assistance with this matter.

March 27, 2006:
Nifong, Himan, Gottlieb possibly discuss obtaining emails and additional "stuff" from Duke. . . .

March 31, 2006: Duke PD delivers key card data to Sgt. Gottlieb. Gottlieb notes that key card information was "requested by us."

Inv. Smith and [Sgt.] Stotsenberg from Duke Police drove up to the District 2 substation as I was leaving. They had three reports they delivered reports to me requested by us. Two were for staff at Duke who are being harassed due to this case (Duke reports #2006-1548 and 2006-1515), and one is a key card report for the team members on 3/13/06 to 3/14/06.

Now this from the same Liestoppers post:

It appears that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) protected key card records of Duke University students which District Attorney Mike Nifong sought by subpoena 0n May 31, 2006 were actually provided to the Durham Police Department, and in turn to the ex-DA, on March 31, 2006. . . .

A review of the case notes and State Bar deposition of Sgt. Mark Gottlieb reveals that the private key card records were obtained from Duke University without a court order and in violation of FERPA.(emphasis added)

Gottlieb's deposition also reveals that the information provided illegally by Duke University contributed to the indictment of Collin Finnerty while leading directly to the indictment of Reade Seligmann.

The key card date, illegally obtained and purposefully misconstrued by Sgt. Gottlieb,offered the only "corroboration" presented to the Grand Jury of Seligmann's presence at the scene of the imagined crimes. ...
Folks, given the fact presented here, it's not hard to understand why DUPD officers - at least those who care about fairness and take pride in enforcing laws justly - might leave DUPD or have low morale, if they've stayed and seen nothing done by the Brodhead administration and the BOT except "duck and cover."

It's also not hard to understand why officers would speak only anonymously. Or why they might be most reluctant to speak about matters discussed here, even as they complain about hiring and other policy practices.

The matters discussed here are of the most serious kind.

That said, I hope The Chronicle's "A Look Inside DUPD" includes a detailed look at Mar. 29, 2006.

Court Rules Against Duke

Under the headline “Fed judge KO's Duke, city's lacrosse plea” the Durham Herald Sun’s Ray Gronberg reports:

A federal judge on Tuesday denied a request from Duke University and Durham's government for sanctions against the legal team that's representing 38 members of the 2005-06 Duke men's lacrosse team.

U.S. District Judge James Beaty Jr. held that the Web site, news release and news conference the players and their attorneys used to publicize the filing of the case in February didn't run afoul of ethical guidelines intended to assure a fair trial.

Beaty stressed that under the law, Duke and Durham had to show the statements made on behalf of the players had a substantial likelihood of prejudicing jurors.

The lead attorney for the players, Charles Cooper, said prejudice isn't likely, given that a trial in the federal civil-rights lawsuit is likely a year and a half away.

Beaty also noted that he and lawyers for both sides would also have a chance, when the trial begins, to question potential jurors and screen out any who've formed an opinion about the case. …
The rest of Gronberg’s story’s here.

At the website Duke sought to shut down,, the following statement is posted:
Chief Judge James A. Beaty, Jr. of the US District Court in Winston-Salem today denied Duke University’s and the City of Durham’s motion to sanction lawyers for the 38 Duke lacrosse players for holding a news conference and maintaining a blog about their lawsuit.

Judge Beatty issued an order which included guidance to both the plaintiffs’ and the defendants’ attorneys about their relations to the news media.

We will study the judge’s guidance and govern ourselves accordingly. …
The judge's ruling won’t come as a surprise to those of you who’ve followed the case in posts here.

This post - Duke lowers bar and stumbles - includes some of my thoughts on the motion as well as the much more expert thinking of attorneys Paul Mirangoff (blogs at and Jason Trumpbour ( spokesperson for Friends of Duke University and University of Maryland Law School professor) who are both linked in the post.

See also Duke's Motion a Stumble

Regarding Cooper’s statement that a trial is a year and a half away, keep in mind that discovery would occur well before the start of a trial.

I’m very glad to be reporting what is good news for citizens who wish to keep themselves informed concerning a civil rights suit with implications not simply for the parties directly involved, but for justice in America.

Hat tip: Very alert blog friend in NY

A commenter provides a history lesson; civility, too

A JinC Regular, Jack in Silver Spring, recently commented in response to "disparagement of this country." I'm putting most of the comment here and adding a few comments of my own below the star line.

Here's Jack in Silver Spring - - -

First of all, no place is Utopia except for the garden in Heaven (and even that got ruined). This country is a great country, probably the greatest in history.

As for the Founding Fathers, they did as best they could with what they had. Had they not made the compromises they did, there would have been no United States of America.

Absent the Constitution, with all its warts, the country would not have lasted. As it was prior to the Constitution, it was coming apart. More than likely, there would still be slaves today in the South (and who knows where else).

Secondly, a little war was fought from 1861 through 1865 over the matter because of the obstinacy of the South in coming to terms with Lincoln. Some 600 to 700 thousand men died in a country 38 million. That is a staggering number.

I will concede that after the war mistakes were made, the most egregious being the Supreme Court's 1896 decision in Plessey vs. Ferguson which eviscerated the 14th Amendment, and allowed separate and (un)equal to be the law of the land. That folly was fianlly corrected in Brown vs. Board of Education and in the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

I will note in passing that Dwight Eisenhower tried to pass a Civil Rights in 1957, and it was voted down (now get this) by the Democrats.

Finally, I might add that blacks in the post-World War II period made enormous income gains, despite discrimination and retained intact families. It is only in the post Civil Rights Act period, after 1964, that those gains have abated and black families have disintegrated. Don't blame the country for that. Look inward.

Finally, this country is peopled by immigrants. My mother was an immigrant, my father's parents were immigrants, and my wife is an immigrant (an escapee from that dystopia called communism). They all came here penniless, and somehow they made it.

Whatever faults the Founding Fathers may have had have been subsumed in the larger American community that was meant to be a melting pot for all (until multiculturalism came along, and now we have hyphenated Americans, instead of just Americans).

Moreover, whatever faults they may have had, they left us a wonderful Constitution and a wonderful economic system, otherwise no one would have risen above poverty and immigrants would never have come here in the first place.

Justice58 - whatever faults this country has, be very thankful you are here and not elsewhere. In most other elsewheres, we could not have this debate.



Jack describes America as I know it. I agree with everything he says except the possibilty there'd still be slaves in the South today. I doubt that.

I believe what so many people in the 1850s North and South believed along with Lincoln: "this government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free."

As for the development of blacks in the post-Civil rights era, that's a complex matter. I often find myself wondering how we've gone in the last 60 years from having civil rights leaders such as A. Phillip Randolph, Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall to the present generation of civil rights leaders such as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Jeremiah Wright.

Finally this, one of the reasons I put Jack's post on the main page is because it's an example of what most of you know and do, but some few forget: you can make a strong, fact-based response civilly.

Charlie Cook on "bittergate"

Excerpts from National Journal Group pundit Charlie Cook’s column today on “bittergate" are in italics; my comments are in plain.

… Alone, this incident is hardly enough to derail Obama's nomination. It would take much more than that. While Obama's delegate lead over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., is not large, it is very difficult to overcome given how few states are left to vote, how hard it is to close a gap under the Democrats' proportional representation system and that the remaining undecided superdelegates hardly seem ready to march lock step into the Clinton column.

It doesn't mean this isn't costly and doesn't hurt Obama in a general election. Even a cursory look at the national and state-by-state polling shows that voters are predisposed to vote Democratic and vote for change this year. But swing voters have to be comfortable with the change they are asked to make.

For undecided voters being asked to support a 46-year-old black man with a relatively thin résumé on the national or statewide level, this kind of story does not make them comfortable. …

8I think Sen. Obama’s “cling to” God and guns remarks would hurt any presidential candidate. I don’t see where race has much to do with it. But then I don’t agree with Sen. Kerry that Obama’s race will be an advantage in his dealing with moderate Muslims should he become President.

... For Clinton, the odds are the incident is too late to save her candidacy. But more Bittergates would increase her chances of drawing enough support in the April 22 Pennsylvania primary to justify, or even guarantee, her continued run.

There are likely to be more gaffes for each of the candidates as this campaign progresses, but in a race like this, each one is exceedingly costly and, cumulatively, can become fatal. As of now, I still believe that Obama has about a 95-percent chance of clinching the Democratic nomination.

The only way Clinton can win is to get enough pledged delegates through the remaining primaries and caucuses so that superdelegates can perceive the race as a virtual tie and vote for her.

However, the window for that is pretty much closed.

She can't win the remaining contests by sufficiently large-enough margins to appreciably close the gap, and superdelegates appear to be breaking more toward Obama. So again, short of a Rev. Jeremiah Wright-level embarrassment visiting Obama each week for four or five more consecutive weeks, this thing is over. …

I wonder if “this thing” is as “over” as Cook thinks.

I’d be surprised if a lot of uncommitted superdelegates aren’t shaking their heads and wondering about Obama.

I’d also be surprised if many Obama delegates – super and otherwise - aren’t doing the same thing.

I don’t know how this race will finally shake out, but I’ll say this: Obama's committed delegate numbers may not have changed much in the past five days, but I'll bet the strength of the commitment of many of them has softened.

That could be very significant in the coming weeks. It may not take four or five weeks with a Rev. Wright-level embarrassment each week to turn some Obama delegates and get some uncommitted ones thinking about someone else. Just one Wright-level embarrassment might do it.

Meanwhile, as Obama seeks to minimize the effects of his self-inflicted damage, he's lucky to have Sen. Clinton's self-inflicted damage working for him.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Churchill Series - Apr. 14, 2008

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

I hope this post leaves you smiling.

Churchill ends his autobiography, My Early Life, with the oft quoted words: “until September 1908, when I married and lived happily ever afterwards.”

It was a wonderful marriage, with Clementine’s love, judgment and loyalty sustaining and enriching Churchill in both the domestic and public parts of his life.

But as in even the best of marriages, there were those “moments.” Churchill’s long-time bodyguard, Scotland Yard Detective-Inspector Walter Thompson tells us about one of them that occurred in the late 20s.

The Churchills were about to drive in an open two-seater from London down to Chartwell. Winston drove. Thompson sat in the back in what the Brits call the dickie seat (our rumble seat).

Thompson carries the story from there:

[Clementine] appeared dressed in a most gorgeous black dress decorated with gold thread. Winston voiced his delight. “Clemmie,” he said, “you look beautiful. What a lovely dress.”

“I am so pleased you like it, darling,” she replied, as she took her seat beside him.

It was not until we were out in the country that the dress was again mentioned . Winston gazed sideways and quietly said: “And what did it cost?”

She replied: “I dare not tell you.”

“I thought not, he said. “I am sure it was very expensive.”

“I will tell you later, Winston,” she replied.

“But there is no harm in knowing now, in view of the fact you have bought it.”

The car almost came to a standstill when she said: “Two hundred guineas.”

“I suppose,” he said, “you have not paid for it yet?”

“Let us talk about it later,” she replied.

Dead silence followed and not another word was said.
Tom Hickman, Churchill's Bodyguard. (p. 219)

Is Clinton's Pa. lead really 20 points?

People are questioning the results of the American Research Group's latest poll of Pa. Dem potential presidential primary voters as well as ARG's polling track record.

I posted today on ARG's latest results; and now I want to give you "the other side."

It comes from The Numbers Guy at WSJ. As with the ARG poll results this afternoon, I'll post without further comment.

The Numbers Guy begins - - -

A new survey showing Sen. Hillary Clinton leading Sen. Barack Obama by 20 percentage points in Pennsylvania comes from a polling firm with a shaky track record this election season.

The poll, which topped the Drudge Report on Monday afternoon (”shock poll”), was issued by American Research Group Inc. (ARG). In the poll, conducted on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 57% of likely Democratic voters said they were supporting Sen. Clinton, compared with 37% for Sen. Obama. Just last week, each candidate received 45% in an ARG poll in the state. Other recent polls generally show a much smaller Clinton lead.

But there are reasons to question ARG polling numbers. In a polling report card of 2008 primary accuracy issued by a rival survey company, ARG ranked in the bottom half of more than three dozen polling firms, among 2008 primaries through late February. It also ranked near the bottom in another ranking of pollster accuracy at, a Web site that tracks the Electoral College. And, as I wrote last month, the widely tracked polling averages at the political Web site Real Clear Politics don’t include ARG numbers, because of concerns about transparency. Like they’ve been in Pennsylvania, ARG polls also were volatile in previous primaries, notably in Wisconsin, which saw a 16-point swing in just two days.

Dick Bennett, president of ARG, acknowledged his firm struggled in early primaries, but told me that its polls in later, big-state primaries have done well, citing California (the final poll showed a Clinton lead of four percentage points; she won by eight), Ohio (ARG had Sen. Clinton up by 14; she won by 10) and Texas (the poll had Sen. Clinton up by three; she won the primary by 3.5 points but appears to have lost the caucuses). According to Mr. Bennett, ARG’s stumbles in states such as Connecticut and South Carolina — where the firm understated Sen. Obama’s support — were due to underestimating the likelihood that first-time voters would go to the polls.

“In the tough ones, we’ve been close,” Mr. Bennett said. “As time has gone on, we’ve gotten much better.” ....

The rest of The Numbers Guy's report is here.

Obama surprise at Rezko trial

The Chicago Tribune updating the Rezko trial today - - -

Obama appeared at 2004 party at Rezko's home

April 14, 2008; 12:57 p.m.

Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama's name came up again at the Antoin "Tony" Rezko corruption trial and in a way that earlier filings in the case did not telegraph.

Stuart Levine, the prosecution's star witness, said he and Obama were at a party Rezko threw at his Wilmette mansion on April 3, 2004, for Nadhmi Auchi, a controversial Iraqi-born billionaire who Rezko was trying to get to invest in a South Loop real-estate development.

Auchi, now a citizen of the United Kingdom, has faced criminal charges in Europe. He also figured in the revocation of Rezko's bond early this year after attempting to wire him more than $3 million. Upon learning of that attempt, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve declared Rezko a flight risk and ordered him held in a federal jail in the Loop.

The Rezko party in 2004 was designed to induce Auchi to pour money into the South Loop investment. Obama's presence at the party was not previously known. At the time, Obama was fresh off a surprise win in the Illinois Democratic primary for U.S. Senate and was riding a crest of national publicity.


Do you think Obama would rather be talking about Rezko or those "bitter" "God and guns small town" people in Pennsylvania?

I'd say it was a close call.

BTW - I'll ask again: Obama has now raised hundreds of millions. Who's giving that money? And why?