Saturday, November 11, 2006

Veteran’s Day - Remembrance and Thanks

We’re free because millions have served and sacrificed, even to giving the last full measure.

We remember them all today with gratitude and awe.

And we remember their families who loved and cared for them and endured the separations that are part of military service, including the most painful of all.

Michelle Malkin has a beautiful tribute post that includes links to the background and award ceremony this week at which President Bush awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously to Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham for his heroism in Iraq.

Two great mil blogs - Blackfive and Mudville Gazette - have very nice tributes.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Churchill Series – Nov. 10, 2006

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

After a long absence from the series, Scotland Yard’s Detective- Inspector Walter Thompson joins us today with an amusing Churchill anecdote from the Blitz.

In case you’re new to the series, Walter Thompson was Churchill’s principal bodyguard for most of the 1920s and 30s. He retired in 1937 and became a greengrocer.

On September 3, 1939, Britain entered the war against Germany and Churchill was aksed to join the government as First Lord of the Admiralty.

The following morning, Thompson received a phone call and heard the familiar voice. He remained with Churchill until the end of the war.

Among many incidents during the Blitz, Thompson recalled the very cold night when Churchill insisted, as he often did, on leaving the safety of the bomb shelter in a building called The Annexe and going onto its roof to watch the German bombing raid.

Churchill had been on the roof for some time when he decided to sit down for a few minutes and smoke a cigar. Thompson was always concerned when Churchill exposed them both to increased risk by being on the roof during a raid. And on this night he was also concerned for Churchill’s exposure to the cold.

Churchill reassured him about the cold. In fact, he said he really felt almost warm.

About that time a sentry came scurrying up to them and asked the PM if he’d mind standing up.

Churchill asked why.

”You are sitting on the chimney, sir. You’re smoking them out below.”
I hope you all have a nice weekend and are back Monday.

Tom Hickman, Churchill’s Bodyguard: The Authorised Biography of Walter H. Thmposon. (p. 127)


Dear Professor Wiegman

Readers’ Note: On Oct. 26 I posted “Why at Duke …”

The post included an email I sent to Duke University Professor Robyn Wiegman.

I’ve not heard from Wiegman so I’m sending her a second email with the first included.

The second email follows. I’ll keep you posted.


Dear Professor Wiegman:

I’ve not received a response to the email (see below) I sent you on Oct. 26.

Perhaps it dropped off your screen before you could respond.

In any case, I hope you'll respond since the matters raised in the email are, I’m sure you’ll agree, important and have generated considerable interest and discussion on campus, at blogs and, no doubt, elsewhere.

Thank you for your attention to my emails.



(First email sent to Professor Robyn Wiegman on Oct. 26.)

Robyn Wiegman
Margaret Taylor Smith Director Women's Studies
Professor, Women's Studies and Literature

Dear Professor Wiegman:

I hold two degrees from the university and blog as

In your Chronicle letter of Oct. 25 you write:

“[M]y colleague Steven Baldwin …finds the faculty response to the Duke lacrosse scandal one that warrants their being ‘tarred and feathered, ridden out of town on a rail and removed from the academy.’”(bold mine)
But that’s not true, Professor Wiegman.

Baldwin didn’t say anything about "the faculty response." He spoke about responses by some individual faculty members who engaged in certain despicable conduct which he described.

Read Baldwin’s words:
I do not believe that a faculty member publicly describing any student in pejorative terms is ever justified. To do so is mean-spirited, petty and unprofessional, at the very least. The faculty who publicly savaged the character and reputations of specific men's lacrosse players last spring should be ashamed of themselves.

They should be tarred and feathered, ridden out of town on a rail and removed from the academy. Their comments were despicable. I suspect they were also slanderous, but we'll hear more about that later.
Surely you didn't miss the fact that Baldwin's remarks concerned only certain faculty whose conduct he described. Not all faculty, thankfully, engaged in such despicable conduct.

Why did you fail to acknowledge that, and instead say: "Baldwin ...finds the faculty response ...?"

You'll find enlightening the following information from The American Heritage Dictionary of Idions:
"tar and feather"

Criticize severely, punish, as in The traditionalists often want to tar and feather those who don't conform. This expression alludes to a former brutal punishment in which a person was smeared with tar and covered with feathers, which then stuck. It was first used as a punishment for theft in the English navy, recorded in the Ordinance of Richard I in 1189, and by the mid-1700s had become mob practice. The figurative usage dates from the mid-1800s.

On another matter, I'm told that Women's Studies has made no statement condemning the threats of physical violence and death threats hurled by racists on May 18 at Reade Seligmann, both outside the courthouse and within the courtroom before the judge entered.

Is that true?

I'm also told Women's Studies has no plans to honor a group of outstanding women who constitute the only large Duke group who to date publicly acknowledge it was a hoax and have spoken out on behalf of the three wrongly indicted innocent students.

Is it true Women's Studies has no plans to honor the Women's lacrosse team and its coaches?

I look forward to hearing from you.



Greenhouse hypocrisy, anyone?

Washington Post syndicated columnist Robert Samuelson today:

It seems impossible to have an honest conversation about global warming. I say this after diligently perusing the British government's huge report released last week by Sir Nicholas Stern, former chief economist of the World Bank and now a high-ranking civil servant.

The report is a masterpiece of misleading public relations.

It foresees dire consequences if global warming isn't curbed: a worldwide depression (with a drop in output up to 20 percent) and flooding of many coastal cities. Meanwhile, the costs of minimizing these awful outcomes are small: only 1 percent of world economic output in 2050.

No one could fail to conclude that we should conquer global warming instantly, if not sooner. Who could disagree? Well, me.

Stern's headlined conclusions are intellectual fictions. They're essentially fabrications to justify an aggressive anti-global-warming agenda. The danger of that is we'd end up with the worst of both worlds: a program that harms the economy without much cutting of greenhouse gases.[…]
Samuelson goes on to explain how easy it will be for us to end up with the worst of both worlds. If fact, he may convince you we already have the worst of both worlds. Look what you find further on in his column :
Just last week, the United Nations reported that of the 41 countries it monitors (not including most developing nations), 34 had increased greenhouse emissions from 2000 to 2004. These include most countries committed to reducing emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. [...]
Is anyone surprised greenhouse emissions are rising in many “countries committed to reducing emissions under the Kyoto Protocol?”

Samuelson gets into the “whys and wherefores” of emissions' politics and technology. He’s written an awfully good column. I hope you take a look.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Churchill Series – Nov. 9, 2006

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

With the help of Wikipedia, let’s recall today F. E. Smith, the man Churchill biographers consider to have been his closest friend. I’ve planned the post so we'll end it doing what Churchill and Smith often did when they were together: laughing.

We learn from Wikipedia:

Frederick Edwin Smith, 1st Earl of Birkenhead, GCSI, PC (12 July 1872–30 September 1930) was a British Conservative statesman and lawyer of the early 20th century. He was a skilled orator, noted for his staunch opposition to Irish nationalism, his wit, pugnacious views, and hard living and drinking.

He is perhaps best remembered today as Winston Churchill's greatest personal and political friend until Birkenhead's untimely death at age 58.
After Birkenhead’s death, Churchill said he’d never once been with him without leaving better informed or wiser on at least one important matter. That’s quite a tribute coming from one of the best informed and wisest men of the time, isn’t it.

Now to the laughter: again from Wikipedia:
About Bolshevism Smith observed:

"Nature has no cure for this sort of madness, though I have known a legacy from a rich relative works wonders."

On Winston Churchill:

"He has devoted the best years of his life to preparing his impromptu speeches." (When Churchill heard the remark he laughed, and afterwards would quote it to others. - JinC)

And in court as a barrister:

Judge: "I have read your case, Mr Smith, and I am no wiser now than I was when I started."

Smith: "Possibly not, My Lord, but much better informed."

Judge: "Are you trying to show contempt for this court, Mr Smith?"

Smith: "No, My Lord. I am attempting to conceal it."

Judge: "Have you ever heard of a saying by Bacon — the great Bacon — that youth and discretion are ill-wedded companions?"

Smith: "Yes, I have. And have you ever heard of a saying of Bacon — the great Bacon — that a much-talking judge is like an ill-tuned cymbal?"

Judge: "You are extremely offensive, young man!"

Smith: "As a matter of fact we both are; but I am trying to be, and you can't help it."

Judge: "Mr Smith, you must not direct the jury. What do you suppose I am on the bench for?"

Smith: "It is not for me, your honour, to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence."

Smith to witness: "So, you were as drunk as a judge?"

Judge (interjecting): "You mean as drunk as a lord?"

Smith: "Yes, My Lord."
Smith's Wikipedia biography is here.

Bob Harris has responded

Most people who’ve followed the Duke lacrosse case agree with Duke Law Professor James Coleman: “virtually everything that [Durham DA Mike] Nifong has done has undermined public confidence in the [Duke lacrosse] case.”

So it was no surprise that on Election Day morning, Nifong was still scurrying for votes at a polling station despite being the Democratic Party DA candidate in a county that traditionally votes Democratic by landslide percentages of 70% or more.

When Bob Harris, the popular “voice of the Duke Blue Devils” showed up to vote, Nifong, with TV cameras rolling, saw an opportunity and tried to take it.

But Bob gave Nifong a ‘dust off” and called his “game:”

"This isn't about Duke," Nifong said. "This isn't about Duke at all."

"No," Harris said. "It's about honesty. You're not honest."
Bob always gets the score right, doesn't he?

I posted on Bob’s “broadcast.” So did KC Johnson and Johnsville News.

I also sent Bob an email.

He’s responded with an email that will cheer all of us hoping, praying and working for justice


Thank you for your wonderful email, and especially your blog. I really appreciate your kind comments and the comment posts that followed.

It is really great to know that there are thousands of people just like you who feel exactly the same. I am receiving tons of calls and emails from all over the east coast with 'thank yous' and more.

Keep up the good work. I've book-marked your site and will keep reading it.


In a day or two I’ll send Bob the threads to my first post and this one so he can read your comments if he hasn’t already done so.

Bob's a great “voice of the Duke Blue Devils.

And it’s great that he’s “receiving tons of calls and emails.”

Add your voice if you haven't already done so.

To The Chronicle: Letter 3

Readers’ Note: On Oct. 27, Duke’s student newspaper, The Chronicle, published an editorial, “Bloggers get point, miss complexity.”

The editorial and its comment thread are here.

Please read them if you haven’t already done so. See also The Chronicle's explanation of how it "writes" editorials.

The Chronicle editorial leveled a number of extremely serious charges at bloggers.

I’m responding to The Chronicle with a series of electronic letters which I’m posting at JinC. Each letter is headed "To The Chronicle" and enumerated. Here are links to Letter 1 and Letter 2.

Letter 3 follows.


Editorial Board
The Chronicle
Duke University

Dear Editorial Board members:

My first two letters (here and here) were, as you know, direct responses to your Oct. 27 editorial, “Bloggers get point, miss complexity.”

I’d planned for this third letter to be an explanation of why you should exculpate me and bloggers like me from your charge that we vilified Durham DA Mike Nifong.

But I want to put that aside for now and instead comment on your November 6 Election Eve editorial, “Cheek for District Attorney,” and your November 8 editorial, “Facing the Reality of Nifong.”

While your Nov. 6 endorsement of Lewis Cheek was no small matter, the editorial has an importance beyond the election.

You took into account and stated clearly issues embedded in the lacrosse case but also vital to Duke and Durham’s futures. For example:

Nifong's handling of the case to date raises a number of questions about his prosecutorial conduct, but also about the general manner in which he carries out his duties as district attorney. […]

Nifong's actions seem to sidestep the legal system, but it also seems that he has taken advantage of the community.

Through his approach to the case and his statements to the press, Nifong utilized an already existing and powerful divide in the Durham community.

This district attorney race is not just about the Duke lacrosse case and it certainly should not be. Durham had the highest homicide rate in North Carolina in 2005 and continues to face a grave gang violence problem.
Your November 8 post-election editorial provided a crisp, informed analysis of the factors at play in the race. It also quite correctly pointed out the many responsibilities a Durham DA faces.

To all of that I found myself agreeing. But I “hit the breaks” when I came to:
Whether or not he chooses to bring lacrosse to trial, we ask Nifong to make his decision out of justice and respect for his own office, not out of political ambition or media pressures.
What you ask of Nifong all reasonable people wish he would do.

But that an intelligent, reasonable group such as yourselves feels compelled to ask a District Attorney to be just and respect his office is really a powerful argument for what Professor James Coleman recommended back on June 12 :
Durham District Attorney Michael Nifong should ask the attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor for the rape case against three Duke lacrosse players and then remove himself and his office from further involvement. This is the only way to restore some degree of public confidence in the handling of the case.

Up to now, virtually everything that Nifong has done has undermined public confidence in the case.
We’ve since learned more about the fraudulent ID procedures that led Coleman to say, “Any three students would do; there could be no wrong choice.”

We’ve also heard Nifong recently say in court that he’s never discussed the case with the accuser.

And we’ve watched Sgt. Gottlieb do something none of us could do: from two pages of handwritten notes produce months later a typed, detailed, single space, thirty-two page “report” of his investigation.

I end this letter with admiration for your Nov. 6 and 8 editorials, but also wondering why, having affirmed in those editorials so much that is right for the accused, for Duke and for Durham, The Chronicle has not joined with Professor Coleman and many others who believe justice can best be served by the appointment of a special prosecutor.

In a day or two I’ll write a letter responding to your concerns about my treatment of media, and a few days after that I’ll write another addressing your concerns regarding how I’ve treated Duke faculty.

Thank you for you attention to what I’ve written.



Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Churchill Series – Nov. 8, 2006

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

November 14, 1940

London is enduring the Blitz. In the North Atlantic, the British and Canadian navies are fighting a desperate battle to keep open Britain’s vital supply line from North America.

There’s some talk in government circles that perhaps it would be in Britain’s interests to draw closer to the French Vichy government. Churchill decides to send his cabinet colleagues a note. It follows in full: --------------

“Although revenge has no part in politics, and we should always be looking forward rather than looking back, it would be a mistake to suppose that a solution of our difficulties with Vichy will be reached by a policy of mere conciliation and forgiveness.

The Vichy Government is under heavy pressure from Germany, and there is nothing that they would like better that to feel a nice, soft, cozy, forgiving England on their other side. This would enable them to win minor favours from Germany at our expense, and hang on as long as possible to see how the war goes.

We, on the contrary, should not hesitate, when our interests require it, to confront them with difficult and rough situations, and make then feel that we have teeth as well as Hitler.” (emphasis in original) ------------

When was the last time you read an important government policy document that is so brief, to the point and wise?
Winston S. Churchill, Their Finest Hour. (pgs. 525-526)

Something to Be Proud Of

Early this morning Liestoppers posted "Something to be proud Of."

The post was that and more.

It was really an editorial.

But it had the thought, depth and values normally missing from most MSM editorial columns.

Liestoppers began :

The votes are in and counted. Mike Nifong will continue to be Durham County District Attorney, at least until the bar complaints are followed through. [...]

To those of you disappointed that this amazing effort didn’t result in Nifong’s removal from office, turn off “There’s a tear in my beer.” Or as Jo Dee Messina might say, “There’s no time for tears.” Put in Montgomery Gentry’s “Something to be proud of” and turn it up as loud as it will go.

A group of Durham citizens organized an effort to state loud and clear that Nifong’s unethical and despicable conduct would not go unnoticed. An easy general election win quickly turned into a less than 50% escape. That’s something to be proud of.

The Democratic Party in Durham offered up only [Nifong].

The Republican Party in Durham offered up only a delusional fool interested in promoting himself and too vain. [...}

Ordinary citizens picked up the slack and spoke in a loud, unmistakable voice about the real values of justice and the conduct expected of our public officials.”

Every single person who contributed to this incredible and historic grassroots efforts against public abuse of power deserves to be proud today.[...]

When the hoax is over and the full truth known, we will all look back and judge our actions against the standards of “something to be proud of.” LieStoppers is comfortable where it stands.
And when "the full truth is known," Liestoppers will deserve a place in the front rank of the truth tellers.

Folks, if you're following the Duke Hoax, I hope Liestoppers is on your "visit daily" list along with Durham-in-Wonderland, Friends of Duke University, and Johnsville News.

This weekend I'll post and link to some outstanding bloggers who from time to time report and comment on the hoax

Liestoppers' post/editorial is here.

Go, Bob Harris, Go

For thirty years sportscaster Bob Harris has been the familiar “Voice of the Duke Blue Devils.” He broadcasts both football and basketball games. Last year Bob broadcast his 1000th Duke basketball game. He was recently inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

Bob’s also a good neighbor and friend to many in Durham. I couldn’t tell you the number of times Bob has helped sports youth groups find speakers for their awards dinners or agreed to serve as MC at a function at a retirement home.

Bob’s Hall of Fame citation includes this:

”[He’s] been extremely involved in community service, with countless celebrity appearances as well as behind-the-scenes work for a host of charitable causes.”
So yesterday morning, Election Day, DA Mike Nifong knew exactly what he was doing when, with TV camera’s rolling, he approached Bob "for a handshake."

"The handshake" was sure to be on the local Noon Hour and Five and Six O’clock news programs.

Nifong no doubt was inwardly salivating at the thought of viewers who hadn’t yet voted watching and hearing about “a smiling DA Mke Nifong shaking hands this morning outside a polling station with Bob Harris, the very popular ‘Voice of the Duke Blue Devils.’”

But Harris knew what Nifong’s game was and he called it (from WTVD):
Eyewitness News cameras were rolling when Nifong tried to shake hands and say hello to Bob Harris, the voice of Duke sports. Harris was in his car as Nifong walked up.

"You've got to be nicer than that," Nifong said.

"Get out of here," Harris said. "Don't pull this crap."

"This isn't about Duke," Nifong said. "This isn't about Duke at all."

"No," Harris said. "It's about honesty. You're not honest."
Wasn't that wonderful, what Harris did?

I’m sending him the email below.

KC Johnson and Johnsville News also posted on Harris’ truth telling.

You can read more about Bob here.

Dear Bob:

Thirty great years as the “Voice of the Blue Devils!”

And then yesterday morning, with “Don’t pull that crap” and “It’s all about honesty. You’re not honest,” you were “the voice” of all of us who want a Durham DA who’s fair and seeks justice for all.

Yesterday was one of your most memorable and important “broadcasts.” It’s heartened those of us in the Durham and Duke communities and elsewhere who are pressing on in the fight to right wrongs.

And as we all know, your words will be special to those who've suffered most because of Nifong's travesties: the players and their families.

I posted on your remarks at my blog. Here’s the link.



Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Churchill Series – Nov. 7, 2006

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

Today we’ll read “Three by Churchill.”

Of Joseph Chamberlain, an important early 20th Century political leader whose son Neville would become Prime Minister, Churchill said: “Mr. Chamberlain loves the working man, he loves to see him work.”

That jab is often said to have actually been directed at Clement Attlee. I don’t know which the case is. Then, too, there’s always the chance Churchill may have believed in recycling.

Of Arthur Balfour, Prime Minister from 1902-06, Churchill remarked: “If you wanted nothing done, Arthur Balfour was the best man for the task. There was no equal to him.”

And of Stanley Baldwin, who served three times as Prime Minister and was succeeded in May, 1937 by Neville Chamberlain, Churchill observed: “He occasionally stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened.”
The Wicked Wit of Winston Churchill compiled by Dominique Enright (pgs. 58-61)

Before the votes are counted

Regardless of the outcome of tonight’s DA race, here are some good things that have happened since Beth Brewer and Roland Leary filed petition signatures for Lewis Cheek on August 9.

I hope you add other good things on the comment thread. We can put together a very long list.

Public opinion has continued to shift in favor of the players and against Nifong.

Under the pressure of NC’s Discovery Law, Nifong’s been forced to turn over evidence that further exonerates the players and implicates him in what is nothing more nor less than his deliberate frame-up of three innocent young man.

Gottlieb produced his “notes” for Nifong. They were meant to help Nifong’s frame-up. It turns out they gave Nifong the kind of “help” you give a drowning man when you toss him an anchor.

At first, Nifong appears not to have realized just what kind of “help” Gottlieb had given him. In a move Nifong obviously meant to preempt an upcoming 60 Minutes episode likely to be favorable to the players, Gottlieb’s notes were “leaked” to The New York Times, the most reliable refuge of scoundrels playing race, gender and class cards,

The Times did its best to deliver for Nifong. It knocked out a 5,600-word, front page story. But despite The Times' best efforts its story fooled no one not already fooled.

As Stuart Taylor, arguably America’s most respected journalist writing on legal matter, told Slate readers:

[The Times’s story’s ] flaws are so glaring that it was shredded by bloggers within hours after it hit my doorstep. They were led by a Durham group called Liestoppers and by KC Johnson, an obscure but brilliant New York City history professor of centrist political views.

The [story] highlights every superficially incriminating piece of evidence in the case, selectively omits important exculpatory evidence, and reports hotly disputed statements by not-very-credible police officers and the mentally unstable accuser as if they were established facts.

With comical credulity, it features as its centerpiece a leaked, transparently contrived, 33-page police sergeant's memo that seeks to paper over some of the most obvious holes in the prosecution's evidence.
And all of that was before we saw the tapes of “Good Old Precious” just about the time Gottlieb’s notes tell us she was hurting so much she needed a very soft pillow to sit down on.

On the eve of the 60 Minutes broadcast The Raleigh News & Observer’s admitted that in its Mar. 25 “anonymous interview” story it withheld the news that the accuser had identified the second dancer, Kim Roberts, and made accusations concerning her which the N&O said it didn’t mention in the story because it couldn’t “substantiate” any of that.

Wow, you’re saying, but the N&O didn’t substantiate almost everything it said about the lacrosse players.

You’re right. You’re also right that the polls in Durham will close in a few minutes so I’d better wrap this post up.

Remember to add to it on the thread.

I'll put one other thing on the list of what's happened since the Cheek petitions were filed: 60 Minutes concluded they’re innocent. We'd all believed that before 60 came along but it was sure nice to hear 60 say it.

And 60's conclusion will I think help defeat Nifong tonight.

Now to the returns.

Let The Chronicle know

Duke's student newspaper had a fine editorial yesterday endorsing Louis Cheek.

If you haven't done so already, I hope you read it.

You can leave a comment here. The Chronicle's Editorial Board reads each one.

The Herald Sun’s ABCs.

Bob Ashley became editor of the Durham Herald Sun in late 2004. During the next 15 months, the paper’s circulation declined about 20%.

Then in March of this year, the biggest news story to ever hit Durham exploded onto the front pages of newspapers across America and around the world. What was first called “the Duke lacrosse rape case” and is now recognized as a hoax case has remained a “page one” story for seven months.

The case has provided “cover story material” for Newsweek and Time as Durham’s DA Nifong went for weeks giving bizarre interviews in which, among other things, he explained how condoms could have been used in an alleged gang-rape and demonstrated strangulation with Nifong simultaneously acting the roles of strangler and victim.

Reverends Jackson and Sharpton offered (pleaded?) to come to Durham. They didn’t, but the Black Panthers did.

Duke University’s President allowed as how he was eager to see three of his students charged with the alleged gang-rape “prove their innocence” at a trial.

CBS’s 60 Minutes spent six months researching the story and reported in a double episode.

All that and more has played out right smack in the middle of the H-S circulation area.

So what’s happened to the H-S’s circulation numbers these past six months?

They’ve gone up, right?


In The Raleigh News & Observer we read that :

“according to the Newspaper Association of America’s calculations of data supplied by the Audit Bureau of Circulations [ABC] for the period [March to September, 2006,] The Herald-Sun of Durham, which competes directly with The N&O in Durham and Chapel Hill, reported the greatest declines of the state’s largest papers: a 7.3 percent decrease daily and a 10.5 percent drop on Sunday.”
How to explain those circulation drops?

I think they reflect the fact that growing numbers Durhamites are learning that Ashley spins a lot of news and ignores or buries other news that doesn’t fit his agenda.

Just consider today’s H-S. It’s front page Election Day story, “Durham DA race is hot,” begins:
Voters are set to go to the polls today to settle a variety of state and local elections, none hotter than the race for district attorney in Durham County.

Incumbent DA Mike Nifong faces challenges from County Commissioner Lewis Cheek and write-in challenger Steve Monks.

Campaign workers for all three men spent Monday preparing for today's election, lining up precinct-watchers to greet voters and making sure prospective supporters understand the rules that will govern the balloting.
If you’re following the election, you know Nifong and Cheek are locked in what looks like a close race.

Monks has almost no organization and no chance of winning. He’s polling in the low single digits. A Monks vote is a vote experts say would likely go to Cheek.

But for weeks Ashley and the H-S have built up Monks and treated him as a serious challenger.

Today’s H-S story makes no mention of Monks' polls numbers or the experts belief that all he can do is possibly play a spoiler role by siphoning votes from Cheek and thereby tip a close election to Nifong.

The H-S story also makes no mention of the sexual harassment complaint former Durham Assistant DA Ashley Cannon’s has filed against someone in Nifong’s office. Cannon says Nifong ignored her complaint.

The H-S failed to report on the story yesterday when the Raleigh N&O reported it.

Today the H-S stuck the story in its “Metro” section, which is folded inside the “A” and “Sports” sections.

For the best and most comprehensive reporting on Cannon’s charge see KC Johnson’s report at Durham-in-Wonderland.

Intelligent people aren’t going to pay money for the kind of “news reporting” the H-S served up today and has been serving up for months.

Many people believe Nifong’s “the worst DA in America.”

Ashley’s Duke Hoax and DA election coverage have a lot of people saying he’s the worst newspaper editor in America.

The ABC circulation numbers would seem to clinch their case.

BTW – In case you’re wondering why I went to the N&O for the ABC’s H-S circulation report, I couldn’t find it in the H-S.

We only go forward

There's a very good chance Louis Cheek will defeat the man many consider the worst DA in America. If I were betting today, my money would be on Cheek.

But what if Nifong wins? What will happen? Will the fight for justice go on?

You bet it will!

Sure, there’ll be deep disappointment and some tears; but no recriminations. Pros recriminate. We’re amateurs who put our best out there. We’ll be thanking everyone who helped and asking: “What’s the best way to go forward?”

Joan Foster at Liestoppers thinks Cheek will win but she knows how Liestoppers and the rest of us will go forward should Nifong win:

[We] will still be here tomorrow morning, breathing fire. Forget despair… think dogged determination. We don't do angst, we redouble our efforts.

Every Ashley propaganda piece has fueled a stunning rebuttal from someone on the blog. A twisted missive popping up from the professor-ly-pitiful Gang of 88 is manna for our creative heaven. Every Nifong outrage inspires us, rejuvenates us, rededicates us. […]

A Nifong victory tonight will not bring ANY of us to despair. It will burnish ALL of us to whatever brilliance we might hope to possess. We will dig deeper, we will delve further… we will leave no stone unturned.

We will write and rhyme and reason... parse the law and produce wickedly funny cartoons. We will not be eviscerated by a Nifong win today… by heaven, this crew will be invigorated.

Nifongistas, we'll all still be here. You ain't seen nothin' yet.
Joan’s right.

None of us will give Nifong a day’s rest until he’s out of office. After that, he can spend all the time he likes meeting with his defense attorneys.

Joan’s editorial is here.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Churchill Series – Nov. 6, 2006

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

We know Eisenhower had his problems with certain “personalities.” Generals Montgomery and de Gaulle come immediately to mind. Churchill had his problems with those same two “personalities.”

Today we’ll read something Montgomery wrote in November, 1943 about British General Alexander, then commending the 15th Army Group in Italy. It's an example of the kind of things Montgomery was then saying to many in the Allied high command. At the time, he was Alexander’s subordinate:

In my opinion 15 Army Group is a very bad and inefficient H.Q. I think the staff there works under great difficulties since they find it quite impossible to get any decision out of ALEXANDER, or any firm line of country on which to work.

There is no proper planning or thinking ahead. ALEXANDER does not know clearly what he wants; and he has very little idea as to how to operate the Armies in the field.

When he has a conference of commanders, which is very seldom, it is a lamentable spectacle; he relies on ideas being produced which will give him a plan. …
There’s a lot more as they say.

At the time Montgomery wrote the above and similar remarks, the commanders for the D-Day Overlord operation had not been selected. Alexander was seen by many as the likely choice to command the ground forces. I’m sure you know who Montgomery thought would be the best choice.

For Churchill and Eisenhower, dealing with Montgomery and the bitter resentments his comments often caused was all part of a tough day's work.

BTW – Montgomery capitalized ALEXANDER in the original. I guess he wanted to make it easy for everyone to remember who he was talking about.
Nigel Hamilton, Master of the Battlefield:Monty's War Years, 1942-1944. (p. 468)

The Press at War

Excerpt’s from James Q Wilson’s op-ed, “The Press at War,” in today's WSJ:

Thankfully, though, the press did not cover World War II the way it covered Vietnam and has covered Iraq. What caused this profound change?

Like many liberals and conservatives, I believe that our Vietnam experience created new media attitudes that have continued down to the present.

During that war, some reporters began their coverage supportive of the struggle, but that view did not last long. Many people will recall the CBS television program, narrated by Morley Safer, about U.S. Marines using cigarette lighters to torch huts in Cam Ne in 1965. Many will remember the picture of a South Vietnamese officer shooting a captured Viet Cong through the head. Hardly anyone can forget the My Lai story that ran for about a year after a journalist reported that American troops had killed many residents of that village.

Undoubtedly, similar events occurred in World War II, but the press didn't cover them. In Vietnam, however, key reporters thought that the Cam Ne story was splendid. David Halberstam said that it "legitimized pessimistic reporting" and would show that "there was something terribly wrong going on out there." The film, he wrote, shattered American "innocence" and raised questions about "who we were."

The changes came to a head in January 1968, when Communist forces during the Tet holiday launched a major attack on South Vietnamese cities. According to virtually every competent observer, these forces met a sharp defeat, but American press accounts described Tet instead as a major communist victory.

Washington Post reporter Peter Braestrup later published a book in which he explained the failure of the press to report the Tet offensive accurately. His summary: "Rarely has contemporary crisis-journalism turned out, in retrospect, to have veered so widely from reality."

Even as the facts became clearer, the press did not correct its false report that the North Vietnamese had won.

When NBC News producer Robert Northshield was asked at the end of 1968 whether the network should put on a news show indicating that American and South Vietnamese troops had won, he rejected the idea, because Tet was already "established in the public's mind as a defeat, and therefore it was an American defeat."
A blog friend who read Wilson’s column emailed:
”Tet was already established in the public's mind as a defeat, and therefore it was an American defeat.”

Just substitute Iraq
From reading mil blogs quoting troops in Iraq and from conversations I’ve had with troops who’ve returned from there, I’ve become convinced that most of MSM are giving us a replay of their “America’s losing” Vietnam-era kind of “reporting.”

What do you think?

Hat tip: Mike Williams.

Chronicle columnist nails it

Excerpts from Duke senior Steve Miller’s column in today’s Chronicle:

Our fellow students are not on trial because of evidence, but in spite of it.

This is a moral, social and legal outrage. It is an assault on our peers, our community and the core values of our nation.

To successfully unleash this depraved injustice, it seems our DA has managed to go against criminal procedure, legal precedent, constitutional protections, hundreds of years of common law and thousands of years of ethics tracing back to the Old Testament.

Nifong must have confused America with a police state.
Miller’s got it.

I’d only add that Nifong’s been helped along by many enablers at Duke, in media and in organizations that claim to be about people’s rights but act more like special interest groups.

Miller's column is here.

On the most important issue, Dems fail

I could give you a long list of things I think President Bush and the Republicans get wrong. But there’s one thing they get right that Democratic Party leaders have been getting very wrong for decades. And now most rank-and-file Democrats seem to get it wrong too.

That one thing is so important I can’t bring myself to vote for Democrats in elections for national office.

Michael Barone tell us about that one thing :

"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

Those two sentences, spoken by John Kerry last week, tell a lot about the mindset of many -- not all, but many -- Democrats who supported him for president in 2004 and who, as this is written, are looking forward to Democratic victories this week. One thing they tell us is that Kerry's mindset is still back in the Vietnam era. […]

Kerry's explanation for his bizarre refusal to apologize for two days and then his grudging off-camera apology was that he was trying to make a joke about the stupidity of George W. Bush (even though Kerry's grades at Yale were slightly lower than Bush's).

But his words were not wholly out of line with previous statements by him and other Democrats characterizing American troops as perpetrators rather than heroes.

There was Kerry's 1971 "Genghis Khan" testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as his December 2005 statement that troops were "terrorizing" women and children.

Sen. Dick Durbin likened American service members to Nazi storm troopers and the Khmer Rouge, and Sen. Edward Kennedy suggested that Abu Ghraib under our "new management" was comparable to Saddam Hussein's regime of torture and murder.

Behind all these statements is an unspoken assumption that American service members are incompetent and vicious.(bold added) […]
If other Democratic leaders roundly condemned such statements, I’d think something like: “Well, both parties have their clunkers.”

But you didn't hear House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi say Kennedy’s remarks, made on the Senate floor, were an outrage for which he should have immediately apologize. Or DNC Chair Howard Dean demand Durbin immediately apologize for his statements.

It’s not just Democratic Party leaders who fail to speak out against those who slime our military.

Look at Democratic newspapers such as the NY Times, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and, here in North Carolina, the Raleigh N&O. Do they editorialize and take their party leaders to task for sliming our military?

Most rank-and-file Democrats I know applaud when terrorists or their sympathizers are invited to speak at college campuses. Students should be exposed to all points of view, they say.

But allow ROTC recruiters on those same campuses? That’s different. Of course not.

Clinton scandals? Dems won't talk about them.

But Abu Ghraib? They never seem to tire of talking about it; especially describing to one another the “shocking photos” they’ve seen.

If you’re among such people and you point out the magnificent service our military renders, you start to get stares. You’re clearly “off message.” You’re likely to be asked if you’re a Republican or Conservative.

Our military is America and the world’s principal protection from the kind of horrors Muslim fundamentalists would inflict on all peoples throughout the world.

America’s military is the world’s largest, best-equipped, best-trained, most generous and most effective humanitarian service organization.

Its defense and humanitarian service work, often one and the same, is incredibly dangerous. Millions of its members have literally given life and limb in the service of our country and humanity.

As long as Democrats slime our military, they’ll never get my vote.

Chronicle endorses Cheek

"Cheek for District Attorney," The Chronicle, Duke's student newspaper, says this morning.

Durham voters will face an easy choice this Tuesday at the polls: elect a district attorney who has failed his office or vote to recall him by selecting Lewis Cheek.

It is true, as many in the public sphere have expressed, that one should not normally judge an attorney based on one case alone but rather on an entire career. But what if that attorney's mistakes in one case are so public and so grievous?

Many have accused Nifong of disregarding several laws and practices like his oversight of numerous failed lineups, improper contact with witnesses, refusal to examine exculpatory evidence and advocating the guilt of the accused to the press before properly reviewing the evidence.

For the first time the public is witnessing Nifong's prosecutorial style first hand, in a very public manner. Nifong's handling of the case to date raises a number of questions about his prosecutorial conduct, but also about the general manner in which he carries out his duties as district attorney.(bold added)

The district attorney is more than just a lawyer who prosecutes cases; he is a public figure with a great deal of power. Nifong's actions seem to sidestep the legal system, but it also seems that he has taken advantage of the community. Through his approach to the case and his statements to the press, Nifong utilized an already existing and powerful divide in the Durham community.

This district attorney race is not just about the Duke lacrosse case and it certainly should not be. Durham had the highest homicide rate in North Carolina in 2005 and continues to face a grave gang violence problem.

This county needs a fair and competent DA. From witnessing his style during the past few months, it is apparent that Nifong is hardly that choice.

It seems shocking from recent polls that Durham residents would not choose to recall Nifong and have someone else appointed to the post. This time, the victims of what seem to be unethical procedures were three members of the Duke community who could afford to hire proper legal representation, but what happens to those who can't?

Nifong appears to be, from his actions during the past few months, a DA who will do anything to get a conviction and gain political favor. [...]

Only one option is left in this election: Lewis Cheek. Steve Monks, as a Republican write-in candidate with little trial experience, has no chance of being elected.

By selecting Cheek as DA, Durham residents can send a direct message to the governor that this county needs better.

North Carolina Governor Mike Easley is no fool; he would not subvert the democratic process by re-appointing Nifong or someone like him.

The choice is clear.

The Chronicle formally endorses Lewis Cheek for district attorney.
People at Duke, in Durham and elsewhere who care about justice will cheer The Chronicle's well-written, carefully reasoned editorial.

By urging voters to reject Nifong and give Governor Easley a chance to appoint an able and honorable District Attorney, The Chronicle is serving the interests of Durham’s citizens and everyone else who wants and expects to be treated justly by the DA's office.

The editorial does something else: It answers a question many in the Duke community and elsewhere have been asking for months: "Isn't there any other group at Duke besides the Women's lacrosse team willing to lead in the fight for justice?”

Today, at least, we can all answer: "Yes, The Chronicle's Editorial Board."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

How Ashley "endorses" Nifong

Durham Herald Sun Editor Bob Ashley has not been able to stop the steep declines in the H-S’s circulation numbers and advertising revenue which began shortly after he became editor in late 2004.

But Ashley has found ways to get around a long-standing H-S policy that other editors have respected: not endorsing candidates for local office.

The H-S has traditionally seen itself as “a paper for the whole community.” It's also the only Durham-based daily newspaper. So the H-S has a long-standing policy of not taking sides in local elections.

But that policy presented Ashley with a problem.

Ashley’s a strong supporter of Durham DA Mike Nifong who’s locked in a tight election battle with Durham County Commissioner Lewis Cheek. A write-in candidate, Steve Monks, who's polling in the low single digits, could play a spoiler role by taking votes from Cheek and thereby tipping the election to Nifong.

So what could Ashley do to help Nifong?

Ashley effectively runs the H-S. He could have ignored its non-endorsement policy and endorsed Nifong outright. In at least one editorial, he all but did that. (I can no longer access the editorial. I'll email Ashley Monday and keep you informed. )

But an outright H-S endorsement would have shattered the “community paper” image that Ashley still tries to maintain. What’s more, most Durhamites would’ve recognized it as another “Ashley change.” That recognition would only call more attention to the H-S’s circulation and ad revenue declines, news stories Ashley understandably downplays.

So instead of an endorsement on the editorial page, Ashley appears to have found at least two other ways to help Nifong.

One involves using news stories to boost Monks’ candidacy. Experts agree Monks has no chance of winning (In two recent polls of voter preferences, Monks polled 2% and 5%). Experts also agree almost all Monks’ votes would otherwise go to Cheek, Nifong’s only series challenger.

But just about all H-S DA race stories have reported nothing about any of that.

Instead, Ashley's H-S gives Monks so much "puff" coverage you'd think Monks was Nifong’s only serious challenger and Cheek was the guy with poll numbers close to zero (See the H-S's two most recent DA race stories here and here.)

Another way Ashely’s found to help Nifong is by sliming and sometimes outright falsely reporting on Duke lacrosse players and those supporting them.

In a H-S Oct. 17 editorial, “Little new in ’60 Minutes’ report,” there’s this:

”The players maintained an aura of sweet innocence with reporter Ed Bradley either downplaying or ignoring conflicting evidence. Collin Finnerty, for example, was portrayed as an outstanding lacrosse prospect, but no mention was made of his recent assault conviction, with strong homophobic overtones, against a gay man on a Washington, D.C. street” (Editorial no longer available online)
The “gay man” the H-S refers to is Jeffrey Bloxsom.

Five months ago, Bloxsom and his attorney went to considerable lengths to let the public know he’s not gay. They said they were doing that not because Bloxsom would be ashamed if he were gay, but because they wanted people to know the truth about Bloxsom and not exploit the incident as gay-bashing. Their statements were widely reported during May.

After that, I hadn't seen another news organization use the “Collin beat a gay” falsehood until the H-S used it on Oct. 17.

But wait, Ashley's H-S can do worse.

In August, Ashley’s paper reported what it said were :
previously undisclosed [DNA]matches, one involving indicted rape suspect David Evans and the other involving a player not charged, have been confirmed by several sources close to the case. (bold added)

According to the sources, semen on a towel was DNA-linked to Evans.”…
It turned out the H-S’s “previously undisclosed matches” had been disclosed months before (see here and here) in news stories that made clear the towel was not connected to the rape charge and that Evens lived in the house where the towel was found.

And just today in the H-S we find this :
"… Stefanie Sparks, an assistant women's lacrosse coach at Duke who is also a paralegal for -- and sister-in-law of -- Bob Ekstrand, a Durham lawyer who represents several unindicted men's lacrosse players.

Ekstrand, a Duke alumnus, has been an active behind-the-scenes player in the continuing controversy over the case."
In Bob Ashley’s H-S an attorney like Bob Ekstrand becomes in the next sentence “an active behind-the-scenes player in the continuing controversy.”

But Durham Police Sgt. Mark Gottlieb has, as far as I know, never been described by Ashley as “an active behind-the-scenes player” even when he was somewhere typing up 32 pages of single space notes based on two pages of hand-written notes.

The H-S’s declining circulation and ad revenues appear to befuddle Ashley. But my, isn’t he good at helping Nifong?

A Gottlieb question

If the Easter Bunny can leave millions of baskets under children's beds, why are we making such a big deal about Durham Police Sgt. Mark Gottlieb leaving jsut one thrity-two page report in DA Nifong's "IN" basket?

Hussein: Good news, maybe more to follow

This morning from Fox News:

Saddam Hussein, the iron-fisted dictator who ruled Iraq for nearly a quarter of a century, was found guilty of crimes against humanity Sunday and sentenced to death by hanging.
Perhaps the imminence of his hanging will lead Hussein to try to make a deal to spare his life.

Saddam may now offer the Iraq government some “ inside stories” in exchange for being allowed to live out his days in confined but comfortable circumstances.

Who bribed him and his cronies in order to get lucrative oil contracts? Names, dates, and amounts, please.

What about UN officials who looked the other way while they were supposed to be supervising the multi-billion dollar Oil for Food program, which Gen. Tommy Franks correctly called “the Oil for Palaces program?” Who are they? What turned their heads?

What’s the truth about WMD in Iraq? This is your last chance, Saddam.

Advice to the Iraqi Government: Get to work building that gallows. Keep Saddam informed of how the projects going.

Nifong? Johnsville's solution

is right here.

You don't want to miss it.