Saturday, May 27, 2006

There are new Duke lacrosse discrepancies

I hope someone with a love for advanced math and a calculator is keeping a count of all the discrepancies in the Duke lacrosse case.

Here are the latest.

Conflicting accounts by the accuser's father and the man reported to have driven her to the party concerning the accuser’s actions and whereabouts during the hours immediately preceding her arrival at the party at which she says she was gang-raped.

The conflicting accounts appear in two separate Raleigh News & Observer news stories.

Let’s start with today’s N&O story containing the account of the man said to be the driver:

Accuser seemed OK early on, driver says
Brian Taylor, who met the accuser at a Super Bowl party two years ago, said he spent an hour and a half with her before driving her to the party where she was hired to dance. (Bolds in this post mine)

"She had called me a few hours earlier, asking me if she could use my place to get ready," Taylor said Friday.

Taylor said he did not know how the woman, a 27-year-old N.C. Central University student with two children, got to his home March 13. But he said that when she arrived about 9 p.m., he noticed nothing unusual about her demeanor. He did not say whether they consumed any alcohol.

Taylor had known for a while that his guest was a dancer. He and a male friend had watched her perform at clubs in Smithfield and Hillsborough.

As he sat in front of his PlayStation console March 13, the accuser showered behind a closed door and modeled at least two negligees for her host, he said.

"She asked my opinion," he said. "The first one was this black outfit, and I said, 'No.' When she came out in the red one I said, 'That's better.' "

It was 10:45 p.m., Taylor estimated, when they left for 610 N. Buchanan Blvd.

"The deal was for me to take her over there for about a two-hour show," he said. "She was supposed to call me to come pick her up."

Taylor did not hear from her again until 7 a.m. the next day. She was at Duke Hospital.
Now lets look at part of a May 19 N&O story of the accuser’s father’s account of her activities and whereabouts during those same few hours The N&O reported today Bryan Taylor described:
In an interview earlier this week, her father said he saw his daughter a few times March 13. That afternoon, he said, she picked up her two children from elementary school.

About 9:30 p.m., he said, she brought the children to their grandparents' house for the evening.

"She was fine," he said.

After their arrival, he and his daughter took a short car ride about 10 p.m. to a neighborhood convenience store at Cornwallis Road and South Roxboro Street. He bought a pack of cigarettes but said he did not recall what his daughter purchased.

When the two returned to his house, the woman said she had to go out and wouldn't return until 1:30 a.m.

He said he does not know whether she left in her own car or someone picked her up. He said she did call him to say she safely reached her destination -- about 11:30 p.m., about the start of a late-night talk show he was watching.

The man said he did not know his daughter was working as an escort that night. She didn't return until late the morning of March 14, the father said.
Did you get all that?

Taylor the driver says in today’s N&O the accuser came to his place “about 9 p.m.” He spent “about an hour and a half with her,” during which time she showered and modeled lingerie. He estimates that at about 10:45 p.m., he and the accuser left his place for the party.

Taylor makes no mention of her leaving his place at anytime between her arrival “about 9 p.m.” and their departure for the party.

But The N&O reported on May 19 that the accuser’s father said she arrived at his home about 9:30 p.m., and brought her children with her. He says about 10 p.m. he and his daughter drove to neighborhood convenience store, made some purchases and returned to his house.

The father says sometime after that the accuser left his house by car but he doesn’t know whether it was in her own (Does she in fact own one? – JinC) or whether someone else drove her away.

It's impossible to reconcile Taylor and the father's accounts, isn’t it?

And The N&O doesn’t even try. Instead, it just ignores its May 19 story.

The N&O also doesn’t mention whether it asked Taylor if he had sex with the accuser the evening of the alleged rape. Defense attorneys say evidence they’ve received from DA Nifong indicates two men who drove the accuser to the party each had sex with her that night, as did her boyfriend.

You’re most likely asking, “Why didn’t The N&O ask Taylor about having sex with her? And what about this second guy who’s supposed to have also ridden with the accuser to the party?”

Good questions. You have to wonder about The N&O’s reporting, don’t you?

I’m sending a link to this post to Anne Blythe, the reporter who’s bylined for today’s N&O story and Jim Nesbitt, Joseph Neff, and Samiha Khanna, the reporters bylined for The N&O's May 19 story.

I'll let you know what, if anything, I hear back from any of them.

I’ll say more about all of this in a post tonight.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Churchill Series – May 26, 2006

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

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.’”
Modeling somewhat C-SPAN’s Question Time signoff I end with:
“And please join us again on Monday, May 29, for another edtion of The Churchill Series.”
The Churchill Centre, Prime Minister's Questions.

Duke Women's "attire" exposes Boston Globe columnist

Boston Globe columnist and editor Jackie MacMullan wants us to believe she’s really concerned about the Duke Women's lacrosse players. I wonder if she fooled anyone.

MacMullan begins:

They want to make a statement, yet they will not speak.

They want to concentrate solely on the most important task in front of them -- winning a national championship -- but with a conscious choice of game-time attire, they will outfit themselves with the ultimate distraction.
And just what is the “game-time attire” that so concerns MacMullan?

Sweatbands with “Innocent” on them.

It has to do with alleged "gang-rape" and indictments. Remember?

MacMullan tells Globe readers other college sports teams have had bad experiences. She’s seen it all.

What concerns her now, MacMullan says, is that the Duke lacrosse women may be too close to the Duke lacrosse men; and therefore too willing to identify with and support them in their current "vulnerability."

MacMullan explains:
It's possible the Duke lacrosse women are feeling a bit vulnerable themselves these days. The Duke women have likely experienced a range of emotions, from shock to anger to sadness.
Ah, yes, we've all heard how emotional women can be.

I’ve witnessed some of it myself, including many women's disgust and outrage at the inflammatory and biased news reporting of the Duke lacrosse case

But MacMullan excludes disgust and outrage from the range of emotions she says the Duke women have experienced. Who’s surprised?

And who’s surprised that she fails to mention that many women experiencing great emotional stress act with cool intelligence and great courage. They often do so while experiencing condescension, derision and outright opposition from clods male and female.

Now let's go on and finish with MacMullan.

She warns the Duke lacrosse women of the consequences of their “game-time attire:”
There will be backlash from those who support the alleged victim.
No one doubts that. The accuser’s supporters have printed “vigilante posters” with face photos of the Men’s lacrosse players and “Wanted” stamped on them.

They’ve helped bring the New Black Panther Party to Durham.

Death threats have been shouted at the indicted.

The Duke lacrosse women know that the shouts of "Justice will be done" are verbatim what was shouted in the South prior to lynchings, and in the North prior to race riots.

I’m sure the Duke women thought of all that; just as I’m sure they know they’ll encounter some of that in Boston, along with many people who are decent and fair-minded.

In case anyone got near the end of MacMullan’s column and was still fooled by her affectation of concern for the Duke women, MacMullan gives herself away with a bungled attempt at sarcastic humor:
But the truth is the Duke women don't know whether those lacrosse players are innocent any more than we do -- unless they were present that night, and all accounts suggest they weren't.
Isn't that pathetic.

Bostonians are reputed to be intelligent people. I don’t question that.

So I wonder what they think when one of their hometown papers serves them a column like MacMullan’s.

Any journalist, blogger or reader want to offer an answer?

If I get enough responses, I'll bring them forward from the thread and put them in a post.

"Innocent" sweatband story: Raleigh N&O's a day late and 8 paragraphs down

The McClatchy Company’s Raleigh News & Observer finally reported on the Duke Women’s lacrosse team decision to wear “Innocent” stamped on their sweatbands during this weekend’s final four NCAA championship games.

The N&O did so only after national news organizations including the AP and ABC News carried the story first reported by The N&O's much small competitor, the Durham Herald Sun.

It’s revealing to compare national news organizations' reporting with The N&O's.

ABC News, for example, headlined:

Duke Women's Lacrosse to Wear 'Innocent' Bands
ABC used the AP’s text. Here are the first two paragraphs:
In a show of solidarity with the Duke University men's lacrosse team, members of the school's women's team plan to wear sweatbands with the word "Innocent" written on them.

"We want to win a national championship for ourselves, but definitely also for the university and the men's team," junior Leigh Jester told the newspaper. "They don't really have a chance to play their season, which is a shame."
ABC's headline and the AP's text are typical of how other news organizations I located using a Google search reported the "Innocent" sweatband story on Wednesday, May 25.

Now look at what The N&O offered its readers a day later:
Duke women focus on lacrosse despite troubles of men’s team
The story doesn’t mention the “Innocent” sweatbands until the second sentence of the eighth paragraph. Talk about "buried in the deep."

Except for The N&O, all the “Innocent” sweatband news stories I’ve read quote Duke lacrosse player Leigh Jester as saying:
"We want to win a national championship for ourselves, but definitely also for the university and the men's team.”
The N&O offers readers this quote:
"Obviously, we want to win it for ourselves -- everyone wants a national championship -- but it's nice to be able to be the face of your school and to be recognized nationally for that.

Obviously, if we had to do it all over again, we'd rather not have the attention because of the situation."
The News & Observer advertises itself as "Fair and Accurate."

No kidding, they do.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Churchill Series – May 25, 2006

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

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)

All aboard the Congressional Double Standard

You don't want to miss this at Outside the Beltway.

Be sure to read past the bumper sticker part to where you learn hats and t-shirts are now available too.

Do you think Denny and the rest of the Republican leadership team knew this stuff would happen? Did President Bush's new White House team give him any advance notice?

One thing's for sure: Nancy and the Democratic leadership certainly didn't tell them.

I mean, why would Dems try to stop a GOP train wreck?

Even Howard Dean knows better than to do that.

It's so sad.

Defending the ACLU dissidents

The New York Times reports:

The American Civil Liberties Union is weighing new standards that would discourage its board members from publicly criticizing the organization's policies and internal administration.

"Where an individual director disagrees with a board position on matters of civil liberties policy, the director should refrain from publicly highlighting the fact of such disagreement," the committee that compiled the standards wrote in its proposals. ...
Well, now, who’ll defend the ACLU board dissidents’ right to free speech?

Certainly not the ACLU. There isn’t a prayer of that, if you’ll excuse the expression.

And I don’t expect to move in and say they’ll fund the dissidents’ legal defense.

But The Federalist Society! Now there’s the group to lead the defense.

And do it pro bono. It would be a great national service.

Imagine attorneys who were once law clerks of Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito striding shoulder-to-shoulder with the ACLU dissidents into a federal courthouse to defend the dissidents and demand they be granted whistleblower status.

I can’t wait. I hope C-SPAN covers it all.

Hat Tip: Betsy Newmark

More Raleigh N&O failure to report Duke lacrosse news

The McClatchy Company’s Raleigh News & Observer is proud of its Duke lacrosse coverage, with its exec editor for news, Melanie Sill, crowing it’s “pushed hard” on the story.

Examples of what she means:

1) publication of the infamous “vigilante poster” containing face-photos of 40 lacrosse players and “WANTED” stamped on it;

2) describing Duke’s campus as “beer-sotted;”

3) searching courthouse records using Duke Men’s lacrosse team rosters as far back as 1999 for any legal charge involving any person whose name appeared on any of the rosters.

But for all its hard pushing, The N&O continues to slant, underreport or just plain ignore certain important Duke lacrosse stories.

The latest?

On Wednesday, May 24, The N&O failed to report two stories its smaller rival, The Durham Herald Sun, and national media reported.

The first concerned the Duke Women’s lacrosse team’s decision to wear “Innocent” stamped on their sweatbands as they play this weekend in Boston for the NCAA Woman’s national championship. Excerpts from the Durham H-S:

"Obviously we want to win a national championship for ourselves, but definitely also for the university and the men's team," junior Leigh Jester said. "They don't really have a chance to play their season, which is a shame.

"We'd love to bring it home not only for ourselves, but also for them."
The second story concerned defense claims that evidence provided last Friday by DA Nifong’s office.

As reported in the Durham H-S the defense claims the evidence reveals the accuser told police “she had sex with three men around the time of the alleged rape.” The men are “identified as her boyfriend and two drivers for the escort service for which she worked.” The Durham H-S said “Nifong would neither confirm nor deny the defense claims."

But on May 24 The N&O couldn’t find anything it thought its faithful readers should know about anything having to do with the Duke lacrosse case. But on the previous day it did.

The N&O’s Tuesday, May 23, front page contained an above the fold headline story:
Lie tests rankle victim backers
”Victim backers?”

The N&O really gives its bias away with its headline, doesn’t it?

As for an accuser’s backers being rankled by use of lie detectors, in the Duke lacrosse case who has trouble understanding why the accuser’s backers would be rankled by anything that helps get at the truth?

The N&O’s ignoring the two stories while pushing hard with, Lie tests rankle victim backers, is just what you’d expect from the newspaper that’s been nicknamed, “The Prosecutor’s Friend.”

Update: The N&O just got around to mentioning in the sports section of its May 25 edition the Women’s decision to wear the “Innocent” sweatbands. I’ll post about that N&O’s report this evening. Meanwhile, you can read it here.

If you compare The N&O reporting on the "Innocent" sweatbands to that of other news organizations, I think you'll agree there’s no danger The N&O will lose its “Prosecutor’s Friend” nickname.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Churchill Series - May 24, 2006

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

At a dinner party a while back 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’s called for, and others will carry on.

I responded something like this:

Well, when he was 13 he asked his mother to buy him a copy of U. S. Grant’s Memoirs.

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

During WW II he readHuckleberry Finn.

And 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.

One last thing: After the war, Churchill developed a small but very good racing stable. So he would often use 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.

Duke's Women's Lacrosse Team Shows Support

At MSNBC this headline and story:

Duke lacrosse women to wear 'innocent' bands
Duke University women's lacrosse team members will wear sweatbands that read "innocent" in their game against Northwestern in the Final Four on Friday in Boston to show their support for three members of the men's team who are charged with raping a stripper during a team house party, the Durham Herald-Sun reported Wednesday.

"Obviously we want to win a national championship for ourselves, but definitely also for the university and the men's team," junior Leigh Jester told the newspaper. "They don't really have a chance to play their season, which is a shame.

"We'd love to bring it home not only for ourselves, but also for them."

Mike Pressler, who resigned as the men's coach April 5, talked to the women's team after practice Tuesday, the newspaper said.

"I think his message was a little bit more believing in themselves and looking at the year we had in spite of the difficulties that Duke and the lacrosse program have seen," women's coach Kerstin Kimel told the Herald-Sun.
That’s a fine gesture by the Women’s lacrosse team which the Men’s team, their families and friends will certainly appreciate it.

If you’re familiar with Duke lacrosse, you know there’s a history of mutually shared respect and support between the Men’s and Women’s programs.

But MSM doesn’t tell you much about that. Too tough to fit within their story frame.

Katrina reporting: MSM's "best" was very wrong

Slowly the American people are being told the truth: MSM got the post-Katrina rescue and recovery story very, very wrong.

Jonah Goldberg makes a contribution to the emerging truth in his LA Times column, “The Media’s Imperfect Storm.” Excerpts:

[It] is difficult to think of a bigger media scandal in my lifetime than the fraudulently inaccurate coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

Where to begin?

As I've written before, virtually all of the gripping stories from Katrina were untrue. All of those stories about, in Paula Zahn's words, "bands of rapists, going block to block"? Not true.

The tales of snipers firing on medevac helicopters? Bogus.

The yarns, peddled on "Oprah" by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and the New Orleans police chief, that "little babies" were getting raped in the Superdome and that the bodies of the murdered were piling up? Completely false.

The stories about poor blacks dying in comparatively huge numbers because American society "left them behind"? Nah-ah.

While most outlets took Nagin's estimate of 10,000 dead at face value, Editor and Publisher - the watchdog of the media - ran the headline, "Mortuary Director Tells Local Paper 40,000 Could Be Lost in Hurricane."

In all of Louisiana, not just New Orleans, the total dead from Katrina was roughly 1,500. Blacks did not die disproportionately, nor did the poor.

The only group truly singled out in terms of mortality was the elderly. According to a Knight-Ridder study, while only 15 percent of the population of New Orleans was over the age of 60, some 74 percent of the dead were 60 or older, and almost half were older than 75. Blacks were, if anything, slightly underrepresented among the dead given their share of the population.

This barely captures how badly the press bungled Katrina coverage.

And yet, a ubiquitous media chorus claims simultaneously that Katrina was Bush's worst hour and the press's best.

That faultless paragon of media scrupulousness Dan Rather proclaimed it one of the "quintessential great moments in television news." Christiane Amanpour explained, "I think what's interesting is that it took a Katrina, you know, to bring us back to where we belong. In other words, real journalists, real journalism, and I think that's a good thing."
So the media believes their Katrina reporting showed them at their best?

Well, who are we to argue that? Let’s concede their point.

That leads to the question: who’ll provide reliable information to citizens who need it if democracy is to function properly?

Enter the blogs.

I’ll say more on Katrina coverage soon.

Meanwhile, Goldberg’s column is here. I hope you read it. He says plenty about the role of the military in the rescue operations, a part of the story MSM "missed."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Churchill Series – May 23, 2006

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

Below, in three paragraphs for reader’s ease, are words that appear as a single paragraph in Churchill’s Their Finest Hour. They are extraordinarily wise and speak of the best that is in us. That said, they need no further commentary from me.

The efficiency of a war administration depends mainly upon whether decisions emanating from the highest approved authority are in fact strictly, faithfully, and punctually obeyed. This we achieved in Britain in this time of crisis owing to the intense fidelity , comprehension, and whole-hearted resolve of the War Cabinet upon the essential purpose to which we had devoted ourselves . According to the directions given ship , troops, and aeroplanes moved, and the wheels of factories spun.

By all these processes, and by the confidence, indulgence, and loyalty by which I was upborne, I was soon able to give an integral direction to almost every aspect of the war. This was really necessary because times were so very bad.

The method was accepted because everyone realized how near were death and ruin. Not only individual death, which is the universal experience, stood near, but , incomparably more commending the life of Britain, her message, and her glory.
Winston S. Churchill, Their Finest Hour. (pgs. 21-22)

Republican leaders seem like Palestinian leaders

Democratic Congressman William Jefferson and $90 thousand in cold cash are the "stars" of an FBI criminal investigation.

So how are congressional Republicans reacting?

According to USA Today’s Deadline they’re upset. They don’t like what’s happened.

So they're ready to declare themselves the party of honest government? Not quite.

USA headlines:

GOP challenges FBI raid of Jefferson's office
Displaying bipartisanship for one of their own, House Republican leaders are expressing concern that the FBI's search of the Capitol office of Louisiana Democrat William Jefferson crossed the constitutional boundary between the White House and Congress.

Tuesday, House Majority Leader John Boehner called the weekend raid "the Justice Department's invasion of the legislative branch" and predicted the issue would "end up across the street at the Supreme Court."…
In the Washington Post we learn:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said that he is "very concerned" about the incident and that Senate and House counsels will review it.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) expressed alarm at the raid. "The actions of the Justice Department in seeking and executing this warrant raise important Constitutional issues that go well beyond the specifics of this case," he said in a lengthy statement released last night.
So what should people do about leaders like that?

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit has a suggestion and some commentary:
GOP Congress members are objecting to the FBI raid on bribery suspect Rep. William Jefferson. I'd approve of this bipartisan spirit if it weren't just an example of the only kind of bipartisanship you can really count on from Congress -- standing shoulder to shoulder in defense of insiders' perks and against the interests of the voters.
That sounds pretty good to me.

Watching Republican leaders this past year has me thinking of what people often say of Palestinian leaders: They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

JinC Update: Glenn updated with this from Freeman Hunt:
Sort of like a man who catches his cheating spouse in the act and all she can say is "I can't believe you didn't knock!"

Duke lacrosse commentary - May 23, 2006

At History News Network there’s a post: “Where's the AG?” It begins:

North Carolina's attorney general is Democrat Roy Cooper; under the state's somewhat peculiar prosecutorial structure, he has authority to take control of the Duke lacrosse case away from Durham DA Mike (Ahab) Nifong. It seems as if the time has come for Cooper to act. …

On the post’s comment thread there was this:
"inexplicable" is a good choice of words. Since Nifong has been re-nominated and faces no opposition in a general election, you cannot attribute his conduct of the case to his current political ambitions.
That was followed by this comment:
I agree--there's no plausible or even conceivable political motive at this stage. Simply from a practical angle, why would a prosecutor not want to look at defense evidence, even if only to see what the defense has?
The post and comments were made right after the third player, David Evans, was indicted.

My reactions:

Yes, in certain circumstances the NC AG can take a case from a DA. (I’ll leave it to lawyers to explain the circumstances.)

So it’s possible Cooper could step in but I doubt he will, not least because Cooper is a very cautious guy who wants this year’s Democratic Gubernatorial nomination.

Stepping into the DLC won’t make Cooper many friends. But you can imagine the howls from the activist mob and their media allies if Cooper replaces Nifong.

Nifong upsets some of us who believe in due process and presumption of innocence but the activist/media crowd think he’s “just fine, thank you.”

What Cooper could do short of taking over the case is make a very public statement affirming the rule of law in NC and promising to punish those who interfere with it. But I don’t think he’ll do that although it would be a very wise “ounce of prevention.”

As for, “Nifong … faces no opposition in a general election, you cannot attribute his conduct of the case to his current political ambitions” and “there's no plausible or even conceivable political motive at this stage.”

Those comment’s are extremely na├»ve.

A plausible motive?

Well, think about it. If you’ve been promising for weeks that is will be three – a trio – do you just go out on stage and announce: “Folks, it’ll be a violin duo tonight. I couldn’t locate a cellist?”

Of course not: you do everything you can to locate a third player. DAs are that way too.

Nifong knows if he hadn’t produced the third indictment, his case would have even less plausibility than it has now.

A political motive?

Yes, Nifong effectively won reelection before he brought the third indictment against Evans. But that doesn’t free him from political pressures.

For the inside players – and Nifong’s one – politics is a 24/7/365 long-term career activity. Politicians begin thinking about the next election once the results of the current one are in. And that next election is often just another step in a 20 or 30 year career plan.

The groups who supported Nifong in his most recent election are, he knows, watching now. In four years time, they’ll remember what they saw.

As to what extent, if any, political considerations actually entered into his actions on the Evans indictment, I don’t know.

I’d be unfair to say they did; and presumptious to say they didn’t.

What I do know is that David Evans, Collin Finnerty, and Reade Seligmann are entitled to due process and presumption of innocence.

Will Nancy Pelosi be Harry Reid’s career ender?

Yes, according to Sherman Frederick, publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

In 50-plus months, Nevada voters will march to the polls and replace Sen. Harry Reid, thus ending one of the longer, more powerful political runs in state history.

When it happens, political wise guys will remember that Sen. Reid's undoing came early in his last term when he became a big shot in the Democratic Party and quickly morphed into someone Nevada voters did not recognize -- his political girlfriend in the House, uber-liberal Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California. …

Nevadans who see Sen. Reid exercise his position as the Democratic leader of the Senate don't see the hardscrabble conservative Mormon from Searchlight.

They see a political transvestite who forsakes his home state to kowtow to the wildly liberal wing of the Democratic Party. …

You can already color Reid the hue of burnt toast in rural Nevada. Harry has never done well in the cow counties, even when he wasn't slipping into Nancy's clothes and make-up.
But doesn’t Reid have huge support from union leaders and the casino owners?

Yes, but Frederick takes a closer look:
As for labor, Sen. Reid could probably come out in favor of copulation between humans and dogs and still get the support of union executives.

Work-a-day union members, however, are another story. Those folks who work hard for their money and count pennies to raise a family in Las Vegas want real paycheck relief, not tax-till-they-bleed federal programs.

Casino support is good for cash, which is important for any politician, but there is some evidence of a growing backlash within the electorate against gaming industry support.

Also, the instant that polls begin to show any doubt in Sen. Reid's re-election, gaming money splinters. If there is one thing casino management knows how to do, it is how to hedge a bet.
The whole thing’s worth a read.

By the way, don’t you love some of Frederick’s metaphors? The guy knows how to mix humor with sharp political commentary.

Hey, that gives me an idea!

We all know about the troubles the liberal Air America network’s been having.

We can’t do anything about its financial scandals.

But those low ratings? Maybe something can be done about them.

I’m going to send this post to Brian Maloney at Radio Equalizer.

No one's worked harder than Brian to help Air America realize what it has to do to grow its audience base into the thousands.

Brian could use Frederick’s column to show Air America’s biggest anchor, Al Franken, just what sharp, humorous political commentary is.

I mean, when Franken says “big, fat idiot” for the zillionth time, he expects to get a laugh and is confused when he doesn't.

But what if Brian told Franken about Frederick and commentary like “slipping into Nancy's clothes and make-up?”

Franken might change and people might begin asking, “When did Al Franken get funny?

How about it, Brian? Won't you give Franken one last chance?

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Churchill Series – May 22, 2006

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

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 Churchill in both the domestic and public parts of his life.

But as in any marriage, there were “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. Thompson sat in the back in what the Brits call the dickie seat (our rumble seat).

This was one of those rare times when Churchill was ready first. Soon Clementine joined him.

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.
Shh. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to break the silence.
Tom Hickman, Churchill's Bodyguard. (p. 219)

Prayer in school OK if it’s Muslim

Folks, you may not believe what’s coming in this post.

From Investors Business Daily, May 19:

In our brave new schools, Johnny can't say the pledge, but he can recite the Quran.

Yup, the same court that found the phrase "under God" unconstitutional now endorses Islamic catechism in public school.

In a recent federal decision that got surprisingly little press, even from conservative talk radio, California's 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled it's OK to put public-school kids through Muslim role-playing exercises, including:

Reciting aloud Muslim prayers that begin with "In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful . . . ."

Memorizing the Muslim profession of faith: "Allah is the only true God and Muhammad is his messenger."

Chanting "Praise be to Allah" in response to teacher prompts. …

Designing prayer rugs, taking an Arabic name and essentially "becoming a Muslim" for two full weeks.

Parents of seventh-graders, who after 9-11 were taught the pro-Islamic lessons as part of California's world history curriculum, sued under the First Amendment ban on religious establishment. They argued, reasonably, that the government was promoting Islam.

But a federal judge appointed by President Clinton told them in so many words to get over it, that the state was merely teaching kids about another "culture." …

In the California course on world religions, Christianity is not presented equally. It's covered in just two days and doesn't involve kids in any role-playing activities.

But kids do get a good dose of skepticism about the Christian faith, including a biting history of its persecution of other peoples. In contrast, Islam gets a pass from critical review. …

This case is critical not just to our culture but our national security. It should be brought before the Supreme Court, which has outlawed prayer in school. Let's see what it says about practicing Islam in class. It will be a good test for the bench's two new conservative justices.
See what I mean about hard to believe?

Sure, a teacher closing the classroom door and indoctrinating kids: We know that happens all the time.

And what about those loopy curricula defining America/Judeo-Christian values/whites/and males as not good while defining the U.N./Muslim laws/protestors/and "activists" as just fine?

We know there are many such curricula out there endorsed by the liberal/leftist teachers’ union, the National Education Association, and approved by equally liberal/leftist school boards.

But that a federal court of appeals, even one as liberal/leftist as the 9th Circuit, would go along with such a curriculum? I’d never have predicated that.

The case can’t get to the Supreme Court soon enough to suit me.

How about you?

And do any of you know if the people who will appeal the decision have a “tip jar?”

I’d like to contribute.

Hat Tip: Michelle Malkin

Does the GOP favor Vote Fraud Protection?

Since it’s become easier to vote – in some places you only have to show up on election day and not too many questions are asked – Americans are increasingly alarmed that non-citizens, felons, and repeat voters are deciding elections.

Today John Fund in the WSJ has plenty to say about what should be called Vote Fraud Protection. Excerpts:

Amid all the disputes over immigration in Congress, one amendment is being proposed that in theory should unite people in both parties. How about requiring that everyone show some form of identification before voting in federal elections?

Polls show overwhelming support for the idea, and there is increasing concern that more illegal aliens are showing up on voter registration rolls.

But the fact that photo ID isn't likely to pass shows both how deeply emotional the immigration issue has become and how bitter congressional politics have become with elections only 5 1/2 months away.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican whip, is proposing the photo ID amendment. He notes that Mexico and many other countries require the production of such identification in their own elections, and that the idea builds on the suggestion of last year's bipartisan election reform commission headed by former president Jimmy Carter and former secretary of state James Baker.

The Carter-Baker commission issued 87 recommendations to improve the functioning of election systems. …

[The] biggest surprise was that 18 of 21 commissioners backed a requirement that voters show some form of photo identification. They argued that with Congress passing the Real ID Act to standardize security protections for drivers' licenses in all 50 states, the time had come to standardize voter ID requirements.

Former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle joined two other commissioners in complaining that the ID requirements would be akin to a Jim Crow-era "poll tax" and would restrict voting among the poor or elderly who might lack such an ID.
Mr. Daschle's racially charged analogy is preposterous.

Almost everyone needs photo ID in today's modern world. Andrew Young, the former Atlanta mayor and U.N. ambassador, believes that in an era when people have to show ID to rent a video or cash a check, "requiring ID can help poor people" who otherwise might be even more marginalized by not having one.
Republicans who keep asking, “How can we get voters back on our side?” might ask themselves a question.

Do they have a strategy for assuring voters that the GOP is the party of Vote Fraud Protection?

Why not legislation in this session of the Congress to make photo IDs necessary starting in the ’08 presidential election?

Sure, there will be those like Daschle who’ll scream “racism”. That won’t be anything new.

If fact, it will be a lot like Democratic Minority Senate Leader Harry Reid screaming “racism” in response to a proposal to make English America’s official language.

If the GOP is out front on both those issues they’ll be doing what’s best for America and I think helping themselves in the bargain.

On the other hand, if many GOP Members of Congress are going to get into a lot of hemming and hawing about this and that concerning the two issues, I think a lot of voters might just hem and haw at home on election day.

Fund’s entire column is here.

For commencement speakers: The best advice I've heard

Commencement speakers are expected to give advice to graduates. But who gives advice to the speakers?

I suppose speaker selection committees do a little of that, but I can’t think of too many others who do.

But one who does come to mind is former House Majority Leader Dick Armey. And his is the best advice I’ve ever heard given to graduation speakers.

The following words may not quote Armey exactly but they're very close to what he said :

Just say a few sensible things that people with diverse opinions can agree on.

And keep it short. Five, maybe six minutes at most.

The people there didn’t come to hear you speak. They came to see someone they love graduate.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Why I admire the Duke lacrosse judge

Yesterday I told regular visitors I’d post today about Durham Superior Court Judge Ronald (Ron) L. Stephens, the presiding judge in the proceedings relating to the Duke lacrosse case.

I’m a Durham resident and am not an attorney. However, I’ve spent a lot of time during the last 30 years in the courts and with law enforcement agencies in this part of North Carolina. (No, I’m not a career criminal. It’s all been honest professional work, mostly as an expert witness.)

I’ve had a number of dealings with Stephens, both when he was the Durham DA and later when he went on the bench. Also, although he and I are by no means personal friends, in a town the size of Durham, people often “bump into” each other at youth activity events, charity fundraisers, etc. So I’ve has those contacts too.

I admire Ron Stephens. I think he has the qualities a good judge should have: He’s very intelligent. He listens well. In court he explains his rulings carefully and clearly. He speaks no louder than necessary and always to the point. He won’t use five words when four will do.

He has a fine understanding of his fellow human beings; and can be very patient as they struggle to “get it right.” But don’t offer him baloney. He hates it, and will toss it right back at you.

Stephens is not one to hold up law books and opine at length, but the best attorneys I know say he knows and cares about “the law.” Often I’ve heard them say he sees judging as a calling.

Is he tough? Yes, whenever necessary. At first some people aren't aware of the toughness. That can be a mistake. Don’t push Judge Stephens. He’s no Lance Ito.

If you were to meet Stephens around town, you’d find him a nicely groomed, conservatively dressed guy who’s easy to talk to, doesn’t take himself too seriously, and wants to help you if he can. You might also notice he has a nice sense of humor.

But back to tough. Stephens will often have to be just that as “activists” with no respect for due process and law work to turn the Duke proceedings into a circus while media stand by ready to report and broadcast their assaults on justice.

Last Thursday, May 18, some “activists” made their first move during Reade Seligmann’s first court appearance. As reported the following day in the Durham Herald Sun:

With protesters demonstrating outside the judicial building, Superior Court Judge Ron Stephens admonished those in the packed courtroom to be quiet and respect the proceeding.

"I'm not sure why everybody is here, but this is a court of law," Stephens said at the outset. "This is my court ... If anybody thought this was a public forum in which anybody could stand and speak, that is not going to be allowed. I will put you in jail. If you stay, you have to abide by my rules."
The activists will be back. They’ll keep trying.

The rest of us are going to have to do a lot of speaking up for justice. In a post tomorrow, I’ll share some ideas about what we can do here in Durham and North Carolina.

Full disclosure: I’m mostly retired now. Except as a prospective juror, I don’t expect to ever appear in Stephens’ court.

And even if I were to appear again as an expert witness, this post will count for nothing with Ron Stephens, which is another reason why I admire him.

Duke lacrosse: Is the Charlotte Observer “unbiased and informative?”

Charlotte Observer news editors claim their Duke lacrosse reporting is "unbiased and informative.”

With that in mind, let’s look at the Observer’s May 19 online story:

Judge: No fast track for Duke rape trial
It begins:
Duke University lacrosse player Reade Seligmann strolled past a heckler who called him a rapist Thursday to appear in court on sexual assault charges involving an exotic dancer.
”Strolled past a heckler?”

C’mon, "strolled” means an easy, relaxing walk.

The Observer knows that wasn’t the walk Reade Seligmann endured Thursday.

The Observer also knows, but didn’t tell readers, that Seligmann’s walk wasn’t just “past a heckler who called him a rapist.”

Seligmann had to walk past a crowd shouting threats identical to those we’ve read about in our history books.

Remember “Justice will be done, rapist?”

In school we learned that identical threat and others like it were used in the past to target mostly young black males, but sometimes young white males as well: Leo Frank, for example.

So when “Justice will be done, rapist,” was shouted repeatedly at Seligmann you might reasonable have thought the Observer would have reported it.

Other news organizations did
, and included the fact that the threats were made my members of the New Black Panther Party.

But the “unbiased and informative” Observer didn’t.

Instead it changed “Justice will be done, rapist” to “a heckler who called him a rapist.”


I don’t know except that a lot of liberal journalists are now acting just like those journalists of old we’ve been told “helped create the climate of hate in which it happened.”

Final word: If you’re saying to yourself, “John’s only mentioned the article's first sentence.Perhaps further along the Observer mentions 'threats,' the Black Panthers, etc.”

That's reasonable enough, but the Observer doesn’t.

You can read its entire article here.

McCain’s New School speech and JinC advice for next year.

On May 6 I posted on the New School’s President’s invitation to Senator John McCain, a former POW and war hero, to be this year’s commencement speaker.

When liberals and leftists who dominate the New School learned of the invitation they immediatly ceased dialoguing about “tolerance” and “inclusion” to demand McCain be barred from speaking.

You see, Castro, Chavez, Ward Churchill – they’re “heroes” the New School would welcome.

But Sen. McCain? One New School scholar called him “a homopohobic (sic) bigot, just like the rest of them.”

Well, anyway, did McCain ever get to speak? And, if so, how’d it go?

From today’s New York Times:

Graduates at New School Heckle Speech by McCain
The jeers, boos and insults flew, as caustic as any that angry New Yorkers have hurled inside Madison Square Garden.
The objects of derision yesterday, however, were not the hapless New York Knicks, but Senator John McCain, the keynote speaker at the New School graduation, and his host, Bob Kerrey, the university president. […]
Faculty and students waved orange banners declaring: "Our commencement is not your platform." Many other students and faculty members waved orange fliers with the same message.

Further on the Times reported:
As Mr. McCain came to the lectern, dozens of students and professors stood and turned their backs on him. Many waved their fliers. […]

After yesterday's event, Mr. McCain told reporters he felt "fine" about his reception. "I feel sorry for people living in a dull world where they can't listen to the views of others," he said.
The New School audience’s effort to suppress McCain’s speech is one more instance of a thuggish intolerance for diversity that we see more and more of on the left.

The choice of orange to represent speech suppressors is ironic. Most of us associate orange with the Ukraine’s recent drive for independence and greater tolerance for political diversity.

The New School’s early faculty members, many of whom fled Germany in the late 20s and early 30s, would have thought brown a more appropriate color for speech suppressors. Faculty who later joined them after fleeing the Soviet Evil Empire would no doubt have thought red was also appropriate.

Advice to the New School:

If you’re going to suppress speech at next year’s graduation, go with either brown or red.

My guess is red will be more popular with the faculty and student body, but both colors are equally appropriate.