Saturday, July 01, 2006

In Gaza: A sensible aid worker

So many "international aid workers" and "human rights advocates" are just leftist ideologues bent of bashing America and Israel.

So as someone who can remember when organizations such as Amnesty International and the International Red Cross commanded my respect, I'm glad to call Jan Egeland to your attention.

Excerpt from The Australian:

Much of Gaza, including two main hospitals, was without power and running water as a UN aid chief warned that the 1.4 million residents of the strip were three days away from a humanitarian crisis.

"They are heading for the abyss unless they get electricity and fuel restored," said emergency relief co-ordinator Jan Egeland, who urged militants to free Corporal Shalit and stop firing rockets into Israel.
I wish The Australian had identified Egeland's relief organization. But perhaps The Australian didn't want to expose that organization to the hostility and censure it might receive from other "relief organizations" for employing someone who'd say what Egeland is reported as saying.

As long as we're talking about The Australian, I'll take the opportunity to once again express my admiration for Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard who's unapologetically for civilization.

Message to Kofi and Jacques: Be more like Howard.
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Pundit shies away from saying the candidate's name

Charlie Cook, columnist and founder of the Cook Political Report, recently wrote a column handicapping competitive ’06 U. S. Senate races. In the middle of it we read :

Inside the Beltway, the open Democratic seat in Maryland, where Paul Sarbanes is retiring, is getting considerable attention. Republicans have an even-money shot at holding that state's governorship, but the Senate race is a more difficult proposition. Maryland remains a very Democratic state. Gov. Robert Ehrlich is the first Republican since 1980 to win any statewide office, and many observers say his victory was mainly due to the extraordinary weakness of the 2002 Democratic nominee.
And who was that extraordinarily weak Democratic nominee?

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, at the time Maryland’s Lieutenant Governor. The oldest child of the late Robert F. Kennedy, Townsend went through the campaign stumbling from one mistake to another. She told an Hispanic group that she favored requiring Maryland’s schools to teach “hispanish.” When it appeared her support in the African-American community was not as strong as it needed to be for her to win, she began pushing affirmative action proposals even Rev. Jackson hadn’t thought of.

It’s interesting that Cook couldn’t quite bring himself to say her name. I wonder if he thought doing so might offend the Kennedys. He wouldn't be the first pundit to shy away from making Uncle Teddy mad.

And can you blame Cook? Have you ever seen one of those Ted Kennedy rages at a Senate hearing where he doesn't like the witness or nominee's background or statements?

Duke lacrosse: Attorney Charns’ email to Durham officials and my interview with him

Readers' Note: Attorney Alex Charns, representing one of the unindicted Duke lacrosse players, is asking the Durham City Manager and Police Chief for an official investigation into the production and distribution of a series of Durham CrimeStoppers “wanted posters.” Charns is also asking for an official public apology on behalf of the city and police department for producing and distributing the posters, which he says libeled the players.

If your not familiar with the Charns/Durham CrimeStoppers story this post, "Duke lacrosse: More about CrimeStoppers and "vigilante posters," supplies background as well as links to related posts. Also see a post by Historian Robert KC Johnson,"Roy Cooper’s Silence." It includes a summary of Charns' actions and some commentary. John
Folks – I think the best way to bring you up to date on the story is to have you read a June 13 email Charns sent Durham City Manager Patrick Baker and Police Chief Steve Chalmers, which Charns was kind enough to share with me.

I'll follow Charns’ email with part of an Apr. 12 Raleigh N&O report of at least some of the sequence of changes to the CrimeStoppers “wanted” posters.

I’ll end with a report on my June 29 phone interview with Charns.

Here’s Charns email:

Subject: RE: Follow-up Public Records Request and Second Request for an
Internal Investigation into libelous DPD Duke lacrosse posters

Dear City Manager Baker and Chief Chalmers:

This is a follow-up Public Records Act (N.C.G.S Sec. 132-1 et seq.) request
as well as my second request for an Internal Affairs or city manager investigation of
the libelous posters that you admitted in the letter to me signed by Major Lee Russ, dated May 26, 2006, "was copied by a member of our agency using a Durham Police Department header".

This is a public records request for certified copies of all city and police
department e-mails, letter, memos, fax transmissions, authorizations or
other records in any format (paper, audio, digital or electronic) that were
generated or followed my initial public records request for records concerning the Durham Police Department poster offering cash for “assistance
in solving this [Duke lacrosse team] case” that impugned the entire lacrosse
team with its assertion that “The victim was sodomized, raped, assaulted and
robbed. This horrific crime sent shock waves throughout our community.”

In response to my initial request for certified copies of all city of Durham
and Durham Police Department press releases or posters concerning the Duke lacrosse alleged rape investigation, some records were released to me. I do not believe all records concerning these posters were given to me because I received a certified copy of the poster that I provided to the city as proof instead of copies of the poster from police department files or computers. If records have been destroyed or deleted, I request records concerning the destruction of the records including but not limited to authorizations for their destruction and the date of their destruction.

In addition, I have not received a formal letter from Internal Affairs
notifying me that an IA investigation of this matter has begun with me as
the complainant.

I again formally request an internal investigation. Furthermore, under the
libel laws of this state, I request a press release correction and apology
for the DPD poster in question. This correction and apology is to be
disseminated to every person, neighborhood association and media entity that
received the original libelous communication on official city of Durham
Police Department letterhead.

Alex Charns
Here’s the N&O Apr. 12 article, "Crimestoppers amends news release."

A news release from Durham CrimeStoppers has been amended several times since the original release:

In an April 3 news release offering cash rewards for information, CrimeStoppers coordinator Cpl. David Addison wrote, "The victim was sodomized, raped, assaulted and robbed. This horrific crime sent shock waves throughout our community."

Tuesday at 11:16 a.m., Addison e-mailed the same release, but modified the first sentence to read: "The victim alleges that she was sodomized, raped, assaulted and robbed." The second sentence calling the incident a "horrific crime" was deleted.

Eighteen minutes later, an amended CrimeStoppers release was sent. The only change was that "the victim" was now referred to as "the complainant."

Addison did not return calls inquiring about the change.

When I interviewed Charns on June 29 he had read the JinC posts I’d sent him. We agreed that what I told you regarding my interview with Durham Police Major Lee Russ fit with what he was experiencing with the police as regards an investigation.

Charns did not agree with Russ’ contention that because the Durham police had “corrected” the posters there was no need for an investigation.

Charns said he was “not satisfied” that simply correcting earlier versions of the “wanted poster” took care of matters.

Charns went on to say, “The police made an egregious mistake. They told the public the players were criminals when they had not even completed their investigation. What they did libeled a large group of people. They just can’t walk away from that.”

What will Charns do now? “I’m going to take some time and think about what to do.”

He was not more specific than that and I didn’t press.

I’ve brought you up-to-date in a post that’s awfully long so I’ll end now.

But look for at least some JinC commentary in a few days.

In the meantime we should all be wondering why these matters are not getting more media attention.

Friday, June 30, 2006

The Churchill Series – June 30, 2006

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

A Churchill Centre post, Action This Day(Summer, 1945), contains an excellent sketch of people and events connected with the July, 1945 British general election. Here’s part of it.

Despite Churchill’s war record his Party’s prospects for reelection were discouraging. Since 1942 the Gallup poll had shown a large Labour lead. Eight Conservative candidates, unopposed by Labour because of a wartime electoral truce, had already been beaten by independents.

The Conservatives focused on Churchill as the leader who had won the war. Churchill reminded the overseas troops that there was "no truth that you can vote Labour or Liberal without voting against me." As grateful as they were, many people expressed concern that the great war leader would not be a good peace leader. […]

From the beginning he struck hard against his opponents. Controversy ensued when he said the Socialists "would have to fall back on some form of Gestapo." His daughter Mary later recounted how her mother begged Churchill "to delete the odious and invidious reference to the Gestapo. But he would not heed her." […]

Polling day was 5 July in Britain but it took three weeks to count the service vote. Meanwhile Churchill flew to Bordeaux to rest before moving on to Berlin [to attend the Potsdam Conference].

Shortly after arriving in the German capital Churchill, with his daughter Mary, toured its ruins including Hitler’s Chancellery. When Churchill observed the German populace he said his "hate died with their surrender."

On the same day he met President Truman for the first time. A few days later the two leaders agreed to use the atomic bomb against Japan.

Churchill’s last public event as British Prime Minister occurred on 21 July when he took the victory salute in Berlin. "Twice in one generation," he told the troops, "as in bygone times the German fury has been unleashed on her neighbours. Now it is we who take our place in the occupation of this country."

Among the cheers, however, were ominous signs. John Peck noted how "the great war leader but for whom we should never have been in Berlin at all, got a markedly less vociferous cheer than Mr. Attlee." [Clement Attlee was at time the Labour Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister in the national unity government Churchill formed upon taking office as Prime Minister in May, 1940.]

On 25 July Churchill left Stalin and Truman, without saying goodbye, to return to London with Attlee to await the results of the election. On 28 July Clement Attlee returned to Berlin as Prime Minister. […]

[Following his defeat Churchill made a gracious] concession speech [which]included the admirable comment: "I thank the British people for many kindnesses shown towards their servant." This remark stands in contrast to Stalin’s reported comment that he was surprised because he had supposed that Churchill would have "fixed" the results.

On 29 July Churchill signed "finis" in the visitors’ book at Chequers. Many high-ranking officials who owed their positions to Churchill, including Lord Louis Mountbatten, were now expressing Labour sympathies.

When Chamberlain had resigned in 1940 many Conservatives clearly expressed their preference for him over the new Prime Minister. This time, however, the Conservative MPs showed their hearts were with Churchill. When he entered the House on 1 August they sang an enthusiastic "For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow." Later he joined Attlee to celebrate VJ-Day and clearly received greater ovations.

On 16 August the House recognized Churchill’s war leadership. The new Prime Minister spoke for all when he said that Churchill’s "place in history is secure."
Most people are unaware Churchill headed a national unity government during the war. Attlee was one of many Labour leaders who held important cabinet posts. Leaders of the much smaller Liberal party held offices as well including the party leader, Archibald Sinclair, who served as Secretary of State for Air.

The entire post is here.

Duke lacrosse: For Nifong the news was bad, then got worse

(Welcome visitors from Court TV and Friends of Duke University. I post often on the Duke lacrosse case. See here and here. Enjoy your stay JinC. John)

(Full disclosure: I live in Durham and support Louis Cheek for DA. John)

Just after 3 p. m. today, June 30, I spoke by phone with Durham County Board of Election Director Mike Ashe.

Ashe said attorney Louis Cheek’s supporters today turned in “in the neighborhood of 10,000” petition signatures. Cheek needs just over 6,300 verified signatures to get his name placed on the November ballot as an unaffiliated candidate for DA.

Cheeks supporters are confident he’ll have more than the required number of verified signatures.

That’s bad news for DA Mike Nifong who until recently expected to have no opposition in November.

But the news got worse for Nifong.

Republican Steve Monks had also sought to have his name placed on the ballot but Ashe said his supporters turned in petition signatures “in the neighborhood of 5,000.”

So barring a write in campaign by Monks or someone else, Nifong very likely will face Cheek in a two way race.

A few thoughts:

It’s unlikely Monks will launch a write in campaign. Such an effort would have almost no chance of success. It would be seen by most people, including most Republicans, as a “spoiler” effort. Monks would come third in the race. He’d damage his prospects for future public office

I don’t have any reason to believe Monks is thinking about a write in campaign. I mentioned the possibility because many of you may be wondering about it.

I gathered some signatures for Cheek and was struck by how intense many people are about seeing his name on the ballot.

Nifong, the Energizer.

But Cheek is much more than just a “Not Nifong” candidate.

He’s a well-regarded attorney and experienced office holder who currently serves as a Durham County Commissioner.

I’ll soon say more about the DA race.

MSM caught "swiftboating"

MSM is using “swiftboating with increasing frequency. And Rocky Mountain News columnist Mike Rosen has plenty to say about that

Ever short on reasoned rebuttal, liberaldom has now come up a new buzzword to rationalize legitimate criticism. It's "swiftboating."[…]

"Swiftboating" has also been recently invoked to deflect criticism of Cindy Sheehan, John Murtha and Al Gore. This is the left's contemporary update of the old McCarthyism Gambit.

Originally, "McCarthyism" was a term that connoted unfair accusations about an individual's ties to communist organizations. While Sen. Joseph McCarthy, the redhunter-in- chief of the 1940s and 1950s, had the goods on some dyed- in-the-wool commies who had infiltrated our government, he was also given to demagoguery and irresponsible allegations about others. […]

"Swiftboating" is a loaded, critical term coined by leftists during the 2004 presidential campaign, referring to criticism of John Kerry by John O'Neill (author of Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry) and more than 250 other members of the Swift Boat Vets for Truth.

These were Vietnam veterans, 60 of whom were wounded in combat, who served in U.S. naval units like Kerry's, and who disputed his embellished and exaggerated accounts of personal heroic battle experiences.

Since Kerry had built his political career on his opposition to the war in Vietnam and had made his military experience there the centerpiece of his presidential campaign, his self-serving claims were fair game for scrutiny.

We learned how he lobbied for Purple Hearts for questionable wounds enabling him to cut his Vietnam tour 243 days short, and what appeared to be an outright fabrication about a Christmas Eve mission to Cambodia. I suppose it's possible that Kerry had it right and that all of his swift boat critics were lying. It's also possible Kerry was lying. The dispute was never definitively resolved.

Today, "swiftboating," like McCarthyism, has come to be used by leftists as a facile antidote to dodge or dismiss legitimate criticism which they condescendingly characterize as merely an ad hominem attack, nothing more than name-calling or smearing.

But this charade just doesn't hold up. Cindy Sheehan hasn't been "swiftboated." She's an emotionally distraught, foolish airhead. And that's not an ad hominen attack. If you've listened to her speak, it's an accurate, clinical appraisal.

Have you heard the names she's called the president? Talk about ad hominen. She's exploited her son Casey's death in service to his country to advance her own obsessive cause. She has no standing to speak for him, or for any other parent who's lost a son or daughter in Iraq and who might disagree with her. She's entered into political combat and has been held to account for her words and actions. […]
As with Sheehan, Rosen rebuts those in MSM who, instead of reporting on Murtha, Gore, and other liberals, really work to defend them by claiming their critics are “swiftboating.”

Rosen ends :
It's bad enough when liberals use this term. When supposedly objective journalists use it, it's intolerable.

You can read Rosen’s column here.

BTW – When’s Kerry's next scheduled promise to release his military records? I want to take the whole family this time.
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Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Churchill Series – Jun. 29, 2006

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

Some years ago at a Churchill Society dinner, Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten’s daughter spoke about her father’s relationship with Churchill.

Lord Mountbatten, Dickie to his friends, had known Churchill since boyhood. His father had been First Sea Lord for a time when Churchill served from 1911 to 1915 as Lord of the Admiralty.

During his long life, Lord Mountbatten served the government in a number of important capacities. For much of WW II he was allied commander for the China-Burma-India Theatre. He later served as Great Britain’s last Viceroy to India.

Mountbatten and Churchill developed a lifelong friendship. There was a break when Churchill was angered by Mountbatten’s support for Indian independence but the rift healed over time

In her speech Countess Mountbatten recounted two incidents involving Mountbatten and Churchill. I think you'll find them amusing. The first occurred before WW I when Mountbatten was a cadet at Osborne, a naval preparatory school. The second occurred in later years by which time Mountbatten was on to what Churchill’s Private Secretaries called “his tricks.”

[My father] was at school a few years later at Osborne and Mr. Churchill came down as First Lord to visit. He went round the cadets and he very unwisely asked them whether they were satisfied with their evening meal which they happened to be eating, and my father, who was never at a loss for words, said, "Well not really Sir, we only have two sardines, and we would very much like to have three."

So Mr. Churchill called up to whomever was going around with him and said, "Admiral, see to it that these young gentlemen are given three sardines for their suppers!" The Admiral said, "Yes, Sir." However, they waited a day or two, a week or two and nothing happened. […]

At the other end of Churchill's long life, my father was sent for to report on an important matter about which there'd been some little difference of opinion. Mr. Churchill gave his views at length and then sitting back in his chair, removed his hearing aid (he had become a bit deaf) and said, 'Now Dickie, tell me your views on that."

My father was not easily beaten, as you would know. He leaned forward, handing him back the hearing aid, said firmly, "Certainly Winston, provided you can hear me!"
You can read all of Countess Mountbatten’s speech here.

I hope you’re back tomorrow.

Freedom at the Raleigh News & Observer

At the McClatchy Company sponsored Editor’s Blog, Raleigh News &Observer exec editor for news Melanie Sill has been cheering the Times’ latest national security breach. It all has to do with freedom and our right to know, of course.

Here’s a little of what Sill's telling readers:

A free, independent press was envisioned by the founders and the Bill of Rights as insurance on freedom and democracy in this country.
Further down the thread where readers can express their opinions, we find this:
06/29/06 at 11:42

Comment removed: Off point. Please keep comments on point to post. Thanks, Melanie Sill
At the N&O, it's freedom for us but not for you. At least, not when
Sill decides you're "off point."

For helping us understand that: Thanks, Melanie Sill

Answers to some of your Duke lacrosse questions

Having had a good look at “justice in Durham, ” astonished Americans are asking: Why is that DA still on the case? And how did he ever get to be a DA in the first place?

Can NC Attorney General, Roy Cooper, do anything?

Can the police be sued?

Noted historian KC Johnson has just responded to those and other questions in a lucid, carefully-researched post, “Roy Cooper’s Silence.”

Here’s some of what Johnson says about what Cooper can and can’t do:

The attorney general’s office includes one section, the special prosecutions division, which can handle prosecution of local cases. […]

[The] protocols for the attorney general acting (which aren’t available on-line) seem to have been written with this case in mind. Indeed, under the protocols, there are at least four grounds for the special prosecutions division to handle the case.
Johnson goes on to explain the grounds under which he believes Cooper can act. Excerpt:
3.) Category I, section (e): “When the District Attorney or a member of his staff will be called as a witness to testify regarding contested facts touching upon the merits of a case.”

An important article by the N&O’s Joseph Neff reveals five public statements by Nifong unsupported by the available documents in the case. Richard Myers, a former federal prosecutor and UNC law professor, told Neff that defense lawyers can call the prosecutor as a witness when the prosecutor’s public statements contradict the facts of the case. To date, no documents have been made public upon which Nifong could have based the statements profiled in Neff’s article; defense attorneys have denied that any such documents exist. (bold mine)
With that and more, a reasonable person might think Cooper will appoint a special prosecutor any day now. But there’s a stumbling block: Nifong himself.

Johnson explains:
If all of these reasons exist for Cooper stepping in, why hasn’t he done so? Under the statute creating the special prosecutions division, the local district attorney must request state intervention. So North Carolina has established a system in which an ethically challenged prosecutor like Nifong effectively can police himself.

But there's nothing in the statute that prevents the attorney general from publicly urging Nifong to request state intervention. Or Cooper could be milder, and let it be known that he would approve a request to allow the special prosecutions division to take over the case.
And some North Carolina news organization could ask the attorney general what he thinks about all of this. Just a thought.

Regarding the Durham Police Department Johnson notes:
Civil liberties lawyer Alex Charns, the attorney for an unindicted lacrosse player, has filed a series of Public Records Act requests from the Durham Police Department relating to production, over the department’s letterhead, of a “crimestoppers” poster. (This document was the genesis for the “wanted” poster that prompted the public “thank you” from the Group of 88 faculty.)

Created at the very initial stages of the investigation, the poster stated that “the Duke Lacrosse Team was hosting a party” at which “the victim was sodomized, raped, assaulted and robbed. This horrific crime sent shock waves throughout our community. Durham Police needs your assistance in solving this case.”

Charns, not unreasonably, wondered “what happened to investigating a crime before a blanket accusation of guilt is made. Wasn’t it ‘Alice in Wonderland’ in which the verdict came before the trial, and the accuser acted as judge and jury?”

Durham authorities have stonewalled him on producing material related to the decision behind the poster’s wording—which was quietly changed to remove claims of a crime definitely having occurred, though only after posters with the initial language had appeared around the area.

It’s not clear how aggressively Charns will pursue his case: the fact that Durham officials haven’t been forthcoming with the documents he’s requested doesn’t speak well for the city’s position.
We can all only wonder what Durham Police Chief Steve Chalmers and other public officials think about what Charns is doing and Johnson is saying.

Full disclosure: Johnson links to JinC in the post but don’t let that stop you from reading “Roy Cooper’s Silence.”

To learn more about Johnson, go here.

Message to KC Johnson: Well done.

Senator Obama gets a pointed question

TV network interviewers know the unwritten rule: you don’t ask liberal Dems tough questions.

That’s why you never hear questions like: “How did it feel, Mr. Clinton, when the Supreme Court acted unanimously to disbar you and you had to turn in your license to practice before the court?”

Or: “If you feel so strongly about the environment, Sen. Kerry, why do you own five large homes and three SUVs?”

But recently, Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts either forgot or just ingored the rule.

Blogger Mark Finkelstein at Newsbusters tells us about it:

In introducing [Sen. Barack] Obama, GMA's Robin Roberts did describe him as "one of the Democrats' rising stars." But I think that might be some kind of required FCC label, so we'll cut Robin slack. Particularly so in light of the very probing question with which she ultimately hit Obama, and the telling response she elicited.

The topic was the Dems' uneasy relationship with religion and religious voters, and the speech Obama gave yesterday exhorting Democrats to "compete for the support of evangelicals and other churchgoing Americans."

Frankly, I expected Roberts to accord kid-MSM glove treatment to Obama. But after some nice chit chat, she landed this blow:

"We saw, of course, in the last presidential election moral values very much on the minds of voters who went to the polls. But it's also, when evangelicals talk about the way Democrats traditionally vote, when it comes to gay rights and abortion. So it's not so much the family values that you talk about, but about how Democrats vote. Does there have to be a change there?"


Obama: "There are going to be differences and issues and not all these issues that touch on religious faith are easily resolved. I mean, the fact of the matter is that there are going to be contentious debates around abortion and gay marriage and that's part of our democratic process. My simple point is to make sure that we don't get so locked into a particular perception about how one party or the other thinks that we miss the enormous complexity and diversity of religious views across the country."

Translation: "When it comes to social issues, we Democrats are going to keep voting like the liberals we are. But we have to figure out a way to change the religious voters' perception of what we're up to." ( Finkelstein’s bolds and italics)
If there were more questions like the one Roberts asked, those network ratings might go up. Of course, it would be a lot harder to get the lib Dems to come on the shows.

Thanks, Mark, for a good catch.
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Duke lacrosse: Is Nifong America's worst DA?

At blogger Chris Reed has a post much like one I’ve been working on this morning. So I’m just going to paste most of it here.

As an exchange, I’ll retrieve a Nifong post I did some weeks ago after Nifong revoked misdemeanor agreements his office had reached with Duke lacrosse players for priors because they attended the party. That same week Nifong agreed to a bail reduction for Kim, the second “dancer,” after she became a “cooperative witness.

One difference with Chris: I’d have put a question mark after the title because, while Nifong’s terrible and should be removed from office, I don’t know if he’s the worst.

"America's worst district attorney"

It's Durham County, N.C., DA Mike Nifong, as every new revelation in the Duke lacrosse case makes clear. Ruth Marcus, a Washington Post pundit who was certain the three accused men were guilty in the case's early days, now finds it simply incredible that Nifong is pursuing the prosecution:

[The accuser] gave six different accounts of what happened the night of the incident: She did not originally mention rape to the police when they found her in a car outside a grocery store; raised the rape allegation after being taken to a substance abuse facility; later said that "no one forced her to have sex"; and gave accounts of the alleged incident that differed in various ways, including the number of attackers and the type of assault.

This is what the public has learned over the months as more official evidence has been released. Nifong has known it all along. And yet he refused to accept the evidence that one of the accused's lawyers provided that made plain the dancer was lying:

Reade Seligmann's lawyer has presented evidence that during the post-midnight time frame in which the attack allegedly occurred, Seligmann called his girlfriend six times and another person twice (12:05 to 12:14); was picked up by a cab (12:19); used an ATM (12:24) and returned to his dorm (12:45). The lawyer tried to present this evidence to the prosecutor before the indictment but was rebuffed.

This is despicable. Nifong is a disgrace.

There's an odd dynamic to this case. The fact that the accuser is a minority and the accused are wealthy jocks at a snooty private school seems to have lessened the media fury that otherwise might be expected over a prosecutor ruining three students' lives to win re-election. […]
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Soldier takes on NY Times. Let's help him

Is your local newspaper supporting the New York Times latest “give away” of national security information that helps only terrorists?

My local paper, McClatchy's Raleigh News & Observer, is definately supporting the NYT's national security disclosures. What's more, the N&O's exec news editor, Melanie Sill, doesn't like:

“the Bush attack Monday on The Times.”
But wait a minute! Wasn’t that the President of the United States, George W. Bush, who responded Monday on behalf or our country and castigated those who put our serving military and America at greater risk of terrorists’ attacks?

Sure it was. And Sill knew it.

But like so many Bush-hating partisans, McClatchy's Sill just couldn't bring herself to grant the President the formal courtesy of using the title of the office to which the American people elected him.

And we're suposed to trust the N&O to bring us the news "fair and accurate." You bet.

Sill moves on and provides her own “Bush attack.” It's mostly a ramble about “free speech,” during which Sill never mentions her recent threats to delete readers' comments or the N&O’s suppression of Duke lacrosse news.

Disgusting, isn’t it?

We need to keep working to change how we get news.

But let’s hold that until tomorrow.

Tonight’s a time for Sgt. T. F. Boggs and the rest of our military. Most of you “met” Sgt. Boggs this morning in this post.

Biggs is serving his second tour of duty in Iraq, where he helps provide security for a military base in Mosul. He is also blogs at

And on Sunday Boggs fired off to Bill Keller, exec editor of the New York Times, a letter that said in part:
Thank you for continually contributing to the deaths of my fellow soldiers.

You guys definitely provide a valuable service with your paper. Why without you how would terrorists stay one step ahead of us?

I would love to hear a response as to why you deemed revealing this program a necessity, but that will probably come as soon as the government decides to finally put you guys behind bars where you belong.
There’s more to Boggs'letter. You can read it here.

A little while ago, I sent Boggs the following email:
Dear Sgt. Boggs:

Thank you for your service to our country.

In a few minutes, I'll post and link to your letter at my blog. I'll include some email addresses so folks can write and express support for you and our military for the fantastic and courageous work you all are doing to keep the rest of us safe.

I'll be back to you soon.

Again, thank you.

Here are the email addresses of the NYT , WSJ and WaPo.
And don’t forget Sgt. Boggs. You know he’d love hearing from all of you who support what he’s doing; and that’s most of you who comment here. His blog link is:
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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Churchill Series – Jun. 28, 2006

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

Dominique Enright has brought together a nice collection of anecdotes and commentary in The Wicked Wit of Winston Churchill. Here’s a bit of it:

Making speeches, WSC is said to have claimed, is “The art of making deep sounds from the stomach sound like important messages from the brain.” […]

[Churchill’s] friend, [F. E. Smith, later] Lord Birkenhead [once] quipped; “Winston has devoted the best years of his life to preparing his impromptu speeches.” […]

[Churchill worked his secretaries ] hard – to the point of making them stay up all night taking dictation – (“I shall need two women tonight,” he would say to his Private Secretary at busy times, no doubt loudly enough to startle any guest not in the know); and he was kind to them, if sometimes irritable and impatient.

Almost without exception they, and also his male research assistants and Private Secretaries, grew to love him – “His secretaries adored him …We were all in love with him; he was such a lovely man, said Maurice Ashley, one of his research assistants.
Enright’s book is a brief , fun, and sometimes touching read for anyone, especially fans of “Our Man.” In Enright see pages 45-6 and 95-6 for the items mentioned here.

About the NY Times: Soldiers sound off

Today in Jeff Jacoby’s Boston Globe column (“The press, in an unsettling firefight of its own”) we learn what some soldiers think of the New York Times latest attack on America’s security:

T.F. BOGGS is a 24-year-old sergeant in the Army Reserves serving his second tour of duty in Iraq, where he helps to provide security for a military base in Mosul. He is also an occasional blogger, venting his views at

On Sunday, those views took the form of a letter to Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times. Two days earlier, the Times (along with The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times) had exposed the existence of a top-secret government effort to monitor the international movement of funds between Al Qaeda and its financial collaborators.

``Your recent decision to publish information about a classified program intended to track the banking transactions of possible terrorists is not only detrimental to America but also to its fighting men and women overseas," Boggs wrote.

``Terrorism happens here every day because there are rich men out there willing to support the . . . terrorist who plants bombs and shoots soldiers. . . . Without money, terrorism in Iraq would die because there would no longer be supplies for IED's, no mortars . . . and no motivation for people to abandon regular work in hopes of striking it rich after killing a soldier. Thank you for continually contributing to the deaths of my fellow soldiers."
Boggs isn't the only angry soldier the Times has heard from. Jacoby continues:
Lieutenant Thomas Cotton, a Harvard Law School graduate who practiced law in Washington before becoming an infantry officer, wrote from Baghdad (in a letter posted on the influential Powerline website) about the roadside explosion that recently ``killed one soldier and severely injured another from my 130-man company."

Cotton, too, underscored the fact that terrorism runs on money. The people trying to kill him and his men ``require financing to obtain mortars and artillery shells, priming explosives, wiring and circuitry, not to mention for training and payments to locals willing to emplace bombs . . . You may think you have done a public service, but you have gravely endangered the lives of my soldiers and all other soldiers and innocent Iraqis here."
What the Times has done is shameless, arrogant, and as Sgt. Boggs and Lt. Cotton make painfully clear, places our military in even greater danger than it already faces. I’ll say more about these two soldiers tonight.
Meanwhile, if any military or members of military families are reading this, thank you.We owe our military our freedoms.

Back to Jacoby:
It obviously didn't come as news to the editor of the Times that money is crucial to terrorism, or that Al Qaeda will be a threat until its financial supply lines are choked off. The Times had made that point itself in a strong editorial less than two weeks after 9/11. ``Washington and its allies must also disable the financial networks used by terrorists," the editorial said. ``The Bush administration is preparing new laws to help track terrorists through their money-laundering activity. . . Much more is needed" […]

If America is going to wage a new kind of war against terrorism, it must act on all fronts, including the financial one."

It was just such reasoning that led the Treasury Department to develop the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program that last week's stories exposed.

Once upon a time, mainstream journalists would have been aghast at the revelation of national security secrets in wartime. Apparently only some of us still feel that way.

The media may not be the most detested institution in America, but it is surely a contender for the title. A Harris poll in March found that only 14 percent of American adults express a ``great deal" of confidence in the press, while 34 percent -- one American in three -- have ``hardly any" confidence in it.

The nation's most trusted institution, by contrast, is the military. According to Harris, 47 percent of Americans have a ``great deal" of confidence in the armed forces. Only 14 percent have ``hardly any." No doubt it is just a coincidence that the small fraction of the public that disdains the military is equal to the small fraction that greatly admires the media.

But at a time when prominent newspapers are running stories that are apt to get more soldiers killed, I'll bet Sergeant Boggs and Lieutenant Cotton don't think so.
More later.

I hope you read Jacoby’s entire column.

Hat Tip:
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Responding to Readers’ Comments – 6-28-06

(Readers’ Note: Comments at JinC are growing. Some raise issues I should post on but can’t because of lack of time. So I’m going to post brief responses here to part or all of reader comments that I might otherwise post on. I'm going to try this for a week or so and see how it works.

Reader comments are indented. My responses follow. JinC)

Regarding newspaper reporting errors and bias, a reader asks:

Doesn't the reader have some responsibility? They paid for the information and willingly read it.
If you and I sue the N&O for libel, and we win damages, are you saying we should pay ourselves?
Presumably the reader understands that everything that appears in a newspaper -- including dozens of advertisements -- isn't the gospel truth.
Very true, but what does that have to do with the Raleigh N&O or any other newspaper’s responsibility to make a genuine effort to tell us the truth?
If no charges have been filed and no guilty verdict reached, a reasonable person can assume anyone called a "victim" in a newspaper is technically an alleged victim.
Why would a reasonable person assume that? If I falsely accuse you of mugging me, should “reasonable” people assume I’m an “alleged victim?”

What would be next? Me on Oprah weeping and telling the audience that “I discuss in the book, Oprah, my shock and hurt when I first learned defense attorneys were questioning my credibility?”

Calling the accuser "the victim," or even "the alleged victim," isn't fair to the accused no matter how many times the McClatchy Company's Raleigh N&O does it, or tells you it's Ok and they're proud of their Duke lacrosse "reporting."

Moving on.

Here, folks, is a reader asking a question that a lot of people in Durham and elsewhere are asking:
Are the city of Durham, the Durham police department, the city manager, the police investigators, the Raleigh newspaper, et al possibly headed for civil and libel action?
Reader, your question involves so many individuals and organizations that it’s impossible to provide a categorical answer.

But, read on.

Regarding the City of Durham and Durham police, take a look my post, Talking with Regulars – 6-26-06. Scan to the part where I report on what attorney Alex Charns, representing one of the unindicted Duke lacrosse players, has written Durham City Manager Patrick Baker and Police Chief Steve Chalmers concerning the CrimeStoppers posters/flyers. Charns explicitly raised with Baker and Chalmers the matter of libel relating to certain actions by certain Durham police.

For those not familiar with Charns, he’s one of North Carolina’s most respected attorneys litigating in the area of police malfeasance. He’s won a number of large judgments and settled a number of claims against the City of Durham and its Police Department.

If you don’t believe that, ask City Manager Baker now or Police Chief Chalmers as soon as someone finds him.

Chief Chalmers hasn’t been seen in public for months, although we’re told he’s following the Duke lacrosse case just as closely as the rest of us.

No kidding. Our police chief (Full disclosure: I’m a Durham resident.) really hasn’t been seen in public in months but, Durham being Durham, who’s concerned or surprised?

Not the City Council, that’s for sure. Maybe the council members know Chalmers will be back from Argentina any day now, bringing with him Amelia Earhart and Glenn Miller.

But how does that help the rest of us here in Durham, most especially the players and their families?

I should continue responding but this is getting long, so I’ll end now and pick up in a day or two where I’m leaving off.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Churchill Series - Jun. 27, 2006

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

From Finest Hour, Third Quarter 1965 - - -

The twenty-fifth anniversary of the Battle of Britain saw many posthumous honours bestowed on Sir Winston.

The first Churchill crown was struck at the Royal Mint and the very heavy demand for the coin exceeded that for the Coronation crown of 1953.

On 19 September forty members of the Churchill family attended the Battle of Britain Service in Westminster Abbey. The congregation rose as Lady Spencer-Churchill and Randolph walked down the aisle. A march of homage to Sir Winston composed by Sir Arthur Bliss, a massive, sombre piece of music, was played.

After the service the Queen unveiled a Churchill stone in the middle of the aisle, immediately west of the Unknown Warrior's stone. It is the first memorial one sees on entering the west door. On the wall just above it is the commemorative plaque to President Roosevelt. The Churchill stone is inscribed:

Earlier in the day a Spitfire and Hurricane flew over the Churchill grave at Bladon.

I loved this reader comment at The Editor's Blog

The liberal/leftist Raleigh News & Observer's exec editor for news is trying to sell readers on the NY Times latest action that's helped the terrorists and put Americans at greater risk.

At the McClatchy Company's The Editor's Blog Sill links to an arrogant letter NYT executive editor Bill Keller is sending readers who don't like the NYT tipping off terrorists about what the government is doing to protect us.

Keller's letter amounts to: We at the Times know best. If we decide to disclose government secrets you should be damn grateful. Now stop bothering me.

One N&O reader left this comment on the thread where Melanie's cluck-clucking for Keller.

I wouldn't pour flat beer on Keller or any of the NTY staff if they were running down the street with their hair on fire.

I'm actually not upset with the N&O for running the story, just a bit sad that you didn't preface it with: "Here is what the traitors at the NYT published, just thought you'd like to know."
I love reader comments at The Editor's Blog.

Talking with JinC regulars - 6 - 27 - 06

(One of a series of posts in the original web log tradition: notes and "thinking out loud." These posts will be most easily understood by regular visitors and are written with them especially in mind. But others are welcome.)

Before the first item, a quick “thank you” to all of you who’ve made comments, especially ones that let me know you understand what I try to say. Recently that’s been especially helpful with regard to the Duke lacrosse case.

Now the Main:

Item number one: Do you know anyone in Durham County who hasn’t signed the petition to put Louis Cheek’s name on the ballot in November? Signed petitions need to be in by Friday.

If someone needs a link for petitions, tell them its here. The signed petitions need to be in to the Durham County Board of Elections by Friday, Jun. 30

I just posted on two news stories concerning Cheek. I hope you give the post a look.

Moving on.

I’m amazed at all the people who are falling all over themselves to praise media who only a few weeks ago were saying media“condemned those boys and ruined lives.”

Now those same people are worried the rest of us aren’t being nice enough to news organizations.

What’s important such people say is that we not offend MSM so that we get news organizations like the Raleigh N&O on “our side.”

Message to such people: You’re enablers. Main stream news organizations love you. You make it possible for them to function the way they do, including avoiding responsibilty for what they do.

I’m planning a post explaining why I think it’s important the public hold to account those individuals and news organizations that contributed to the Duke lacrosse witch hunt through their biased and reckless reporting.


There’s going to be a lot here in the next few days as follow up to the CrimeStoppers and “vigilante poster” posts from late May and through June 16. I’ll work later tonight and tomorrow to get a post up detailing the latest I’ve received from attorney Alex Charns.

The short of it: Charns’ has written the DPD again about the CrimeStoppers posters/flyers and said in effect: Give me more or tell me who destroyed records. I’m repeating my request for an investigation. What’s more, under NC libel law, I’m requesting from DPD “a press release correction and apology for the DPD poster in question.”

Local media are mostly ignoring what Charns is pursuing. I think the Durham Herald Sun ran a story but that was weeks ago. Media are making a mistake by ignoring the issues and questions Charns is pursueing. What Charns is looking into and the questions he’s asking will, at the least, be very important to a full understanding of how the Duke lacrosse case developed. And very likely a lot more.

Look for a post later today that will be titled something like: A reader asks legal questions. I'll say more about Charns there.

I'll end now because I don't want this Talking to run on. Or do you think it has already?

Anyway, thanks for you interest and support.

Duke lacrosse: DA election update – 6-27-06

Both the Durham Herald Sun and the Raleigh News & Observer have stories today, June 27, concerning opposition DA Mike Nifong may face in the November election.

The H-S reports on two attorneys seeking to have their names placed on the November ballot: Durham County Commissioner Lewis Cheek, a Democrat, and local Republican Party leader Steve Monks.

The H-S headlines:

Lewis: Lacrosse case made Durham laughing stock
The H-S story begins:
County Commissioner Lewis Cheek, who has until Friday to convince thousands of voters he should be on the ballot for district attorney in November, said at a news conference
Monday the Duke lacrosse rape case has turned Durham into a laughing stock.

"This circus didn't need to happen," Cheek said. "It shouldn't have happened, and that's what I'm thinking about."

Cheek didn't confirm he'll run for the county's top prosecutor's position. But he blasted current District Attorney Mike Nifong's public handling of the case in which three Duke University lacrosse players have been charged with raping a dancer during a team party in March at a house rented by one of the team co-captains.

"As DA, you don't prejudge, and, in my judgment, you don't engage in public discourse," he said.
There’s more including reporting on Steve Monks petition gathering efforts:
Monks, who was working a trial Monday, said he has 15 or so volunteers gathering signatures on his behalf.

"If this doesn't get it done, there's no way it could have been done, absent of having $20,000 to send out a nice mailing like Mr. Cheek did," Monks said.
Full disclosure: I’m supporting Louis Cheek but even if I wasn’t I think I’d notice that Monks remark about a “nice” $20,000 mailing sounds an awful lot like the kind of thing Mike Nifong would say.

Are you wondering why the H-S headline used just Lewis Cheek’s first name? Well, that’s because we’re all family down here.

A serious point: Cheek calls what's happened a "circus;" and there's certainly been a lot of clownish talk from some people.

But what's happened in Durham is really a tragedy. The lives of many innocent people have been greatly damaged at the same time public confidence in our DA, the Police Department, Duke University and some local media have all been shaken.

Now to the N&O.

Its story profiles Cheek (the N&O profiles Monks tomorrow) as he talks about the DA’s job and his battle with alcohol. Headlined:
Cheek poised for DA plunge
the profile begins:
Sitting in the conference room of his South Durham law office, Lewis Cheek cultivates the image of the measured man -- wearing a somber suit, choosing his words deliberately.

He is careful not to criticize Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong too directly for his handling of the rape allegations involving three members of the Duke University lacrosse team.

Instead, Cheek tries to steer the conversation to what he would do if elected -- making tactfully veiled references to Nifong's oft-criticized public statements in the early days of the investigation, as a national media maelstrom descended on the Bull City.

"If I had been the one up on the courthouse steps in front of all those cameras, I would not have commented about that case or any other case," Cheek said in an interview last week.

Cheek, 55, said Monday he is still weighing whether to run for Nifong's job, but his actions indicate a man already in the race. About 25,000 Durham voters received a letter last week asking that they sign a petition to place Cheek's name on the November ballot as an unaffiliated candidate. With the signatures of 6,303 Durham voters needed to meet a tight June 30 deadline, Cheek's campaign said it had already received more than 2,000 forms in Monday's mail, many with several signatures each.[…]

One decision, he said, was to talk publicly about his battle with alcohol. Cheek has been in residential treatment facilities for substance abuse three times, most recently a 28-day stay in 2000 while on the council. Cheek said it has been years since he's had a drink, though he can't say exactly how long.

"It is a disease that will always be with me, and it's something I'm dealing with on a continuing basis," Cheek said. "A lot of people look at addiction as a character flaw. That's not the case. It is a medical condition."

His personal bouts with addiction have affected his public views, said Cheek, who as a county commissioner has pushed for greater government support for treatment centers. It's an insight he would also bring to the DA's office, where many criminal cases are the result of drugs or alcohol.

"Someone can't go out and rob 20 people and then tell the judge, 'It's not my fault. I have an addiction,' " Cheek said. "But I think if we had more treatment, we could keep more people from entering the criminal justice system in the first place."

[Jackie]Brown, the campaign treasurer, said she does not fear Cheek's alcoholism will be used against him in the DA's race.

A previous opponent, Joe Bowser, brought up Cheek's drinking in a 2004 commissioner's race. Cheek still unseated the two-term incumbent and board vice chairman. […]
I’ll post tomorrow on the N&O’s profile of Monks. I don’t know much about him. So unless you do, we’ll be learning something at the same time. We can then compare notes. I hope you come back tomorrow.
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Monday, June 26, 2006

The Churchill Series - Jun. 26, 2006

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

Fair warning: today’s post's source is the top of my head.

You know Churchill paid attention to details. Remember from an earlier series post the time he stopped his motorcade as it passed a large, abandoned green house? Some of the structure's glass panes were broken; but many were not. Churchill directed the unbroken panes be stored where they could be easily retrieved. The UK's cities were surely going to be bombed soon. They'd be many shattered windows; replacement glass would be a much needed item.

Other details that always draw Churchill's attention included the names of military operations. When Churchill learned of the name of an operation he would sometimes immediately interrupt whoever was explaining it and ask why it had received the name it had. If he didn't think the name appropriate, he'd argue for a change. Sometimes he just ordered one.

One operation name Churchill thought very appropriate was Torch, the name for the joint Anglo-American invasion of North Africa in November, 1942. He suggested it himself.

Churchill said Torch was the best word and symbol to convey what the allies were doing: bringing the light of freedom to a Nazi dominated part of the world. He requested a logo with two hands holding up a torch; they represented British and American forces jointly pursuing the same objective.

Selecting Torch as the operation name was an inspired and inspiring choice.

Beyond what I know Churchill said in urging Torch as the operation's name, I wonder if he wasn't also thinking Torch would resonate with Americans whose Lady Liberty held a torch to light the way to freedom, and with the French whose eternal flame serves a similar symbolic purpose.

I can't be sure Churchill thought of Lady Liberty and the eternal flame but I bet he did. Not much escapes a man who looks at a broken and abandoned greenhouse, and sees something very valuable.

AP hypes liberals’ Alito talking point

Reporting on today’s 5-4 Supreme Court decision upholding a Kansas death penalty law, the Associated Press headlines:

"Alito breaks tie, Kan. death penalty stays"
The AP story begins:
New Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito broke a tie Monday in a ruling that affirmed a state death penalty law and also revealed the court's deep divisions over capital punishment.
What the AP hypes about Alito’s vote is wrong. Alito didn’t break a tie. His was one of five votes cast by the majority of justices who upheld the Kansas law. Alito’s vote no more “broke a tie” than did the vote of any of the other four justices who formed the majority. And the AP knows that.

But it went ahead and hyped the liberal interest groups' main, but nonsensical, talking point against Alito's confirmation.

Advice to AP reporter Gina Holland who wrote the story: Apply for a position at Ralph Neas’ People for the American Way. You’ll fit right in and won't have to keep telling people, "I just report the news."

Advice to the AP: Drop the pretense of being a serious news organization. Reorganize as a 527 Group. Sure, you’ll have to stop selling “news” to other MSM organizations so you'll lose lots of revenue, but Soros, and the Hollywood crowd will make up for that. You must know how strongly they support what you do. Think about it.
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Fund shreds Murtha, exposes Dems

In today’s Wall Street Journal John Fund again demonstrates why he is one of the best reporters in America. Fund exposes Democratic Rep. John Murtha’s recent statements as dangerous folly and political opportunism and leaves us wondering when, if ever, the Dems will get serious about America’s security. Excerpts:

The day after Mr. McCain articulated why many voters see Republicans as inconsistent and ineffective, a leading Democrat, speaking in Miami, made it crystal clear why his party is an unacceptable alternative.

Pennsylvania's Rep. John Murtha, who became a hero to the antiwar left when he called in November for immediate withdrawal from Iraq, went further at a town hall meeting for Rep. Kendrick Meek. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel quoted Mr. Murtha as claiming that the "American presence in Iraq is more dangerous to world peace than nuclear threats from North Korea or Iran."

He also told the audience of 200 that "we want as many Americans out of [Iraq] as possible" because "we have become the enemy."

Mr. Murtha has been sticking his foot in his mouth a lot lately. He accused Marines in Iraq of murdering civilians "in cold blood," contradicted himself in the same breath by saying they had "overreacted," and asserted that higher-ups covered up the purported crime without backing his statements up.

He told a startled Tim Russert of NBC that U.S. troops withdrawn from Iraq could be "redeployed" to Okinawa, Japan, whence they could return "very quickly" to Baghdad--which is 4,899 miles away. And more than once he has offered these examples of presidential leadership: "In Beirut, President Reagan changed direction. In Somalia, President Clinton changed direction."

Here's another take on the change of direction in Somalia: "After a few blows . . . [the U.S.] rushed out of Somalia in shame and disgrace, dragging the bodies of its soldiers." That was Osama bin Laden, in an ABC interview in 1998, the same year al Qaeda blew up the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, murdering more than 220. […]

"Mr. Murtha sounds less like a Marine colonel these days, and more like a male Cindy Sheehan," writes Jack Kelly of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which circulates in Mr. Murtha's district.

But all the adulation from left-wing bloggers has apparently convinced the 74-year-old Mr. Murtha that he has a shot at higher office. "The more he gets out there, the more he realizes that he truly has taken on a leadership role," a Murtha aide told Time magazine. This month he told his colleagues that he plans to run for majority leader, the No. 2 job in the House, if Democrats take control this November.

It is assumed he would have the tacit or open support of many close allies of the current minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, who won a leadership post in 2001 in large part because Mr. Murtha was her campaign manager and convinced some moderates she was not an antimilitary left-winger.
So Murtha convinced some moderates Pelosi is not an antimilitary left-winger.

I'll bet they're some of the same moderates who still believe Clinton didn't have sex with Monica.

Back to Fund:
If Jack Murtha, a backroom operator who is blunder-prone when speaking publicly, is Democrats' idea of fresh leadership, the party is in real trouble. Far from advancing the Democratic argument that Republicans have bred a "culture of corruption" while in power, Mr. Murtha's leadership bid would open a Pandora's box of questions about his own record.
Fund details Murtha’s involvement in the 1980 Abscam scandal in which the prosecutors named him an “unindicted co-conspirator:”
In direct contrast to Sen. McCain, whose experience in the 1990 Keating Five scandal turned him into a good-government reformer, Mr. Murtha's brush with infamy stirred in him a pit-bull conviction that members of Congress deserve more protection from ethics probes. […]

[Murtha] unsuccessfully pushed for a law that would require the Justice Department to reimburse the legal bills of any member of Congress it investigated if it was shown the probe was not "substantially justified"--a privilege no other American has.

Small wonder that Gary Ruskin, director of the liberal Congressional Accountability Project, told Roll Call that "when it comes to institutional policing of corruption in Congress, John Murtha is a one-man wrecking crew."

A Harper's magazine study has concluded that "the most effective ally for the [pork barrel ] earmark-seeker is a lobbyist who is actually related, by blood or marriage, to a powerful member of an appropriations committee."

Rep. Murtha is the ranking Democratic member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and for the past three years has been the House's top recipient of defense industry cash. Therefore, few in Washington are surprised that his lobbyist brother, Robert "Kit" Murtha, is an enormously successful "earmark specialist" for the Beltway firm KSA Consulting.
There’s a lot more in the same vein before Fund concludes:
[Not] enough attention has been given to how much Democrats are flopping in their attempts to provide a better alternative [to Republicans].

By pushing forward Rep. Murtha as a fresh leader for their party, [the Dems] are reinforcing the worst stereotype many swing voters have of a congressional Democrat: a big spender tarnished by scandal who holds wacky foreign-policy views.
So if I help make Nancy Pelosi House Speaker, I may get John Murtha as House Majority Leader.

Quick! Will somebody show me the Republican lever.

As for not much attention being paid to how the Dems are flopping in their attempts to provide a better alternative to the GOP, I'm sure Fund knows why just as most of us do:Most MSM spins for the Dems and don't want them exposed.

That’s why, when Murtha started getting headlines last November for his cut-and-run from Iraq proposals, MSM didn’t remind us he was an “unindicted co-conspirator” and ran one of the largest family pork farms on Capital Hill.

I hope you agree Fund is one of the best reporters in America.

Can you imagine what this country would be like if there were 50 or so just like him scatted throughout CBS, NYT, WaPo, AP, NPR; and they were free to write what they knew?

Be sure to read all of Fund’s “Worst of All Worlds.”
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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Duke lacrosse: Can you believe The Editor’s Blog?

The McClatchy news organization sponsors The Editor’s Blog, where Raleigh News & Observer exec editor for news Melanie Sill is supposed to interact with readers.

But not much of that happens there. It’s not unusual for Sill to get just one or two reader comments a week. There have even been weeks when there weren't any comments.

But lately?


Whenever Sill allows readers to comment on the N&O’s Duke lacrosse coverage, which a journalist friend says “has violated every bedrock principle of ethical journalism,” the Editor’s Blog lights up.

Readers immediately demand to know why the N&O told them the accuser was “the victim,” granted the accuser a “free shot” anonymous interview, published the infamous “vigilante poster,” and the like.

Readers are angry because N&O “reporting” that my friend said “violated every bedrock principle of ethical journalism” went on for months; and is only now beginning to mute, long after sensible people realized the case the N&O and Nifong have pursued is a monumental injustice, which may include criminal acts.

Given all of that, how has Sill responded to readers?

She’s responded in various ways. A reader making a comment or asking a question that contains a factual error or evidences a misunderstanding gets a quick, corrective response. Readers asking fact-based, on point questions are often ignored.

Sill frequently responds with misleading and incomplete answers. For example, to readers who’ve complained about the N&O’s publication of the “vigilante poster” photo, she said it was only a “small” one on an inside page.

In fact the photo, which ran on Apr. 2 on pg. 20A, is two columns wide on a six column page. The pixilated portion of the photo is 6.25 inches long; adding caption and border space brings the length to 7.25 inches.(Unfortunately you can't access photos in the N&O's archives, which BTW require subscription. Hard copies can be purchased from the N&O.)

The N&O placed the “small” photo where it would get maximum reader attention: At the top of the page and in the 4th and 5th columns of a six column page.

So a two column wide, 7.25 inches long photo at the top center-right of the page is a "small" photo.

Do you see what I mean about misleading and incomplete answers?

I plan a detailed post on other aspects of the N&O’s “vigilante poster” photo publication, including providing readers important information the N&O failed to give them.

I also plan to ask why the N&O published the “vigilante poster” photo after warnings that doing do would only make it more likely the players would be targeted by unstable individuals and hate groups, something that’s unfortunately come to pass.

But for now, back to Sill and The Editor’s Blog.

I hope you visit there and read what Melanie Sill tells people. You’ll see a few readers accept what she says and seem satisfied. But others don’t and aren’t.

It’s those others who won’t be fobbed off who are now making The Editor’s Blog such an interesting place. (Full disclosure: Following repeated threats by Melanie over many months to ban me from The Editor’s Blog, I stopped commenting there.)

But if I were commenting now, I’d ask questions and say things like the following:

Melanie, when did the N&O first learn the Duke lacrosse players who lived at the house had cooperated with police; and that they’d voluntarily given statements, gone to Duke Hospital and submitted to “rape kit” testing, and offered to take lie detector tests?

And when did the N&O first report about that to readers?

Please don’t respond with “sometime early in the case” and “just as soon thereafter as possible.”

Intelligent readers want dates.

Moving along.

In the Mar. 24 report in which you broke the Duke lacrosse story, the N&O seven times said the accuser was “the victim” or referred to her with the possessive “victim’s”, not once preceding them with either “alleged” or “reported.” You very recently told readers the N&O regularly refers to an accuser as “the victim.”

Why? What makes an accuser a victim?

And, Melanie, you don’t regularly call an accuser in a rape case the victim, do you?

I checked your archives, searching all of this past January using the input word “rape.”

The N&O didn’t once call the accuser “the victim.” In most cases you called the accuser “the woman;” in a few cases “the accuser.”

You were making an exception in the Duke lacrosse case, weren't you?

The N&O doesn’t normally call the accuser in rape cases the victim any more than other American newspapers do because journalists know it isn’t fair to the accused.

So why, in the very first story the public would read about the Duke lacrosse case, did the N&O decide to cast the accuser as “the victim” and frame the Duke lacrosse players as her victimizers?

There’s a lot of speculation in the community about the answer to that question. What’s your answer?

Last question for now, Melanie: On your Duke lacrosse comments post thread on 6/14/06 at 9:52 you commented in part:

...we are sticking to N&O standards of verification and sourcing.
The N&O has standards of verification and sourcing?

Well, in that case tell us who the person(s) or group(s) are who were the source(s) of the infamous “vigilante poster” you published on Apr. 2? Your story doesn’t say.

Readers’ note: I don’t hold copyrights to the questions above. Anyone can ask them of Sill and others at the N&O. I hope many do.

If you get a response, I’ll appreciate your sharing it here on this post’s comment thread, even if you think the response is just baloney.

Thank you.