Saturday, December 02, 2006

“Wanted” and “Vigilante” posters

Duke lacrosse “Wanted” and “Vigilante” posters played an important role in fueling the witch hunt and its monumental injustices. The posters helped inflame public opinion, provoked hate groups and unstable people, and endangered the players who were the posters’ targets.

In any request for a change of venue, in a trail that may follow and in other legal actions the poster will be used in evidence. So for anyone who will follow those proceedings as well as for everyone just wanting to know how such as wildly improbable hoax could have been believed by anyone with at least a room temperature IQ, knowing something about the posters is important.

Next Wednesday I’ll begin a three post series about the posters.

Here’s some of what the series will cover:

While many people use “Wanted” and “Vigilante” interchangeably suggesting they are one and the same, they’re not.

“Wanted” is the description of what is really a series of at least four posters produced by Durham CrimeStoppers.

All “Wanted” posters are text only; they offer cash rewards for information; and they are identified as having been produced by Durham CrimeStoppers, an organization that reports its independent of Durham’s Police Department, although the DPD has assigned Cpl. David Addison to work with CrimeStoppers. Addison produced the CS posters.

The first “Wanted” poster, produced and distributed in late March, is the subject of a request by an attorney, Alex Charns, acting on behalf of an unindicted lacrosse player for a public investigation by DPD into the production and distribution of the first “Wanted” poster and a full public apology by the City of Durham to the entire lacrosse team which Charns claims was libeled by the poster.

If, as DPD says, CrimeStoppers is a separate organization, why is Charns saying DPD should do an investigation and Durham City make an apology?

Charns contends CrimeStoppers is really part of DPD.

“Vigilante” is used to describe a poster which the Raleigh News & Observer published and distributed in photo form on Sunday, April 2. The N&O’s “Vigilante” poster differs in very important ways from the “Wanted” posters.

The “Vigilante” poster contains face photos of 43 white Duke lacrosse players; it is not a solicitation for information for money; it was posted on buildings on Duke campus and circulated in neighborhoods near campus; and it was published anonymously as “Vigilante” posters traditionally are.

Cpl. Addison is quoted on the N&O’s “Vigilante” poster. He was also quoted in the N&O’s inflammatory, grossly biased and now discredited March 25 “anonymous interview” story

In an interview in late May, DPD Maj. Lee Russ told me DPD would like to find out who produced and circulated the “Vigilante” poster.

There were then as now rumors in the community pointing to different sources for the “Vigilante” poster. Russ volunteered that no one in DPD had any connection to producing it.

For many months I’ve pressed the N&O for more information about a number of aspects of its publication of the “Vigilante” poster.

I really can’t tell you I’ve gotten much from the N&O. But I continue to ask for information.

I hope you come by and read the series.

Duke News Service sites

I recently mentioned contacting a Duke’s News Service site to ask a question. Some of you wanted to know more about the site and how to reach it.

I’m responding to that and also offering a some additional information.

You can access the University’s search engine with this address:

Type a person’s name, a subject, etc. in the search box and you're on your way.

Type in “Duke lacrosse” and you’re taken to:

It’s a website the University describes as providing “updates and information about the incident, the university's response and the extensive media coverage”

The websites main page includes a link to a collection of sample media coverage that includes some “old ones and new ones.” It’s here:

Just below that is an “Archive of Opinion.” You guessed it: op-eds, feature stories, editorials. Again, “oldies and newbies.”

The University seeks to provide a spectrum of news and opinion pieces. For the most part I think its done a good job of that. But the University should include news and opinion from blogs; and with very rare exceptions it hasn’t.

I'm going to continue to press Duke on its exclusion of blogs.

The main Duke News website is here:

There is a lot of information provided there about a range of services Duke News offers and how to access them. There are also bio sketches with job functions for some of the News Service's key personnel.

As you scroll down you’ll see there are links to many more specialized information provider sites within Duke as well as links to many Duke publications including The Chronicle, the student newspaper and the alumni magazine.

There’s also a link to daily press releases with contact information here:

I hope you find the above information and links are helpful.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Churchill Series – Dec. 1, 2006

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

On June 18, 1940, France began talks with Nazi Germany aimed at an armistice. That same day Churchill delivered first in Commons and later that evening on the radio his stirring speech ending with:

Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”
When we think of Churchill, those words and others from his speeches often come to mind.

But while those words represented his most deeply held feelings, they were part of his public rhetoric. He didn't, as we know, in everyday speech inform his Cabinet “This is our finest hour” or tell friends from time to time that “Never in the course of human history has so much been owed by so many to so few.”

But I want to tell you about an expression Churchill used very often that he included in a BBC radio statement delivered the day before his “finest hour” speech. It is an old Boer folk expression Churchill learned while fighting the Boer at the turn of the century. He used it often when speaking, and it appears often in his letters. I’ve no doubt it was one of his favorite expressions.

Churchill delivered his statement, meant to both stiffen the resolve and reassure the British people, immediately following the BBC’s announcement that Raynaud’s government had fallen and been succeeded by one headed by Petain. The old Boer expression is found in the last seven words of Churchill’s statement:
The news from France is very bad, and I grieve for the gallant French people who have fallen into this terrible misfortune. Nothing will alter our feelings towards them or our faith that the genius of France will rise again.

What has happened in France makes no difference to our actions and purpose.

We have become the sole champions now in arms to defend the world cause. We shall do our best to be worthy of this high honour. We shall defend our island home, and with the British Empire we shall fight on unconquerable until the curse of Hitler is lifted from the brows of mankind.

We are sure that in the end all will come right.
Two comments that I think I’m making for just about all of us.

1) In that brief statement which took only a minute to deliver, we find the major themes he returned to again and again throughout 1940. Like Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Churchill’s June 17 statement briefly and eloquently sounds the beliefs and purposes that justify great struggles and sacrifices.

2) We see again in this statement Churchill the master psychologist facing up to bad news but invoking pride, purpose and resolve ; and in his closing words reassuring the British people and pointing them toward the day of ultimate victory.
In haste. Sources to follow this weekend.

Note to Prof Crowley

As many of you know Duke University Professor Thomas J. Crowley recently published an op-ed in the Durham Herald Sun which contained a number of significant errors of both the factual and attributional type.

Bloggers and others contacted Crowley concerning the errors. I posted on some of them here and here.

Today the following letter appeared in the Herald Sun:


On Nov. 13, The Herald-Sun published an "Other Voices" piece by me concerning the Duke lacrosse case. I have subsequently been informed of errors in that letter. In particular my blanket statement about behavior of the lacrosse team was neither fair in general nor applicable to the particular case now in dispute. I apologize for this and any other errors.

The response to my letter has made me more aware of the intense emotions that are associated with this case. These tensions can only be bad for campus-community relations, and I strongly support any efforts to reduce them. Finally, I sincerely hope that lessons learned from the lacrosse case will be applied to future cases in order to lift the standards of justice for all in Durham County.

December 1, 2006

The writer is a professor at Duke University.

I've just sent Professor Crowley the following email:

Dear Professor Crowley:

I hold two degrees from the University and blog here as John in Carolina.

I've recently posted on your Herald Sun op-ed "Don't be too quick to toss lacrosse case." I noted and spoofed some of its errors here and here. I stand by what I wrote.

I've also read today your Herald Sun letter. It is about your letter that I'm writing now.

I'm sure you'll agree that the "Make Mistakes" club has a universal membership; the "Recognize One's Mistakes" club has a much smaller membership; and the "Admit One's Mistakes Publicly and Make Amends as One Can" club sometimes seems to have few, if any, members.

But with your letter today, you placed yourself in that small but most honorable club.

My hat is off to you.

I hope you write back.

I'd look forward to further correspondence concerning how we can make the current situation better than it is at Duke, in Durham and, particularly, as regards what you call attention to at the close of your letter: lifting "the standards of justice for all in Durham County."


John in Carolina

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Churchill Series – Nov. 30, 2006

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

Today’s the anniversary of Churchill’s birth at Blenheim Place in 1874.

The post which follows is the last of a three post series intended as a tribute to one of history’s great people. I’ve tried in the three posts to pay a well deserved tribute to Churchill but to do so with a little different “take” than the typical Churchill tributes which note his best known and most important public achievements.

We know Churchill didn’t suffer fools gladly and coulld sometimes be gruff. But at core he was a very kind person who often went out of his way to help those less fortunate than he. And he almost always did it outside the public spotlight.

Consider how he treated Mr and Mrs Donkey Jack.

The Jacks (they picked up “Donkey” because they owned one) were gypsies who had an encampment on common last that adjourned Chartwell property. Property owners then and now in England often pressure their town councils and other government agencies to clear gypsies off common land so they’ll leave the area.

Churchill didn’t do that. He was content to have the Jacks as neighbors. Clementine felt the same way.

But Churchill didn’t just leave the Jacks be. He often helped them.

When Mr Jack died in 1933 he was to be buried in a pauper’s grave. Churchill arranged and paid for a funeral and proper burial.

In October, 1934 Mrs. ‘Donkey’ Jack received notice of eviction by the local council. Churchill gave her permission to move her encampment into Chartwell woodland.

On New Year’s Day, 1935 Churchill wrote to Clementine, then on a cruise in Asia:

Mrs Donkey Jack will very likely never be able to walk again as it is unlikely her fractured ankle will knit together at her age. She was knocked down by a workman on a push bicycle and no compensation of any kind can be obtained for her in this desperate misfortune.

Should the worst be realized I shall try and get her into a decent home for the rest of her days at some small cost. …
In the same letter Churchill told Clementine that their indebtedness was not as great at the end of 1934 as it had been at the start. He said if all went well he thought they could further reduce their debts by the end of 1935.

A few weeks later in another letter he tells Clumentine:
While I was working on the new wall today Mrs Donkey Jack come walking along having trudged all the way from Westerham [ A village a bit less than 2 miles from Chartwell. – JinC] upon her injured ankle.

She was proposing to walk down there again tonight to get her pensions arrears which have accumulated while she was in hospital

I stopped this and we supplied her with food until Monday. …
Mrs Jack continued to live on the Churchills' property and he continued to look after her until her death a few years later.
In haste now. I'll provide sources this weekend.

Cash Michaels responds

Readers' Note:

On Monday I posted "About DA Mike Nifong." I asked columnist Cash Michaels to respond to it. He has. Below is first the "About DA Mike Nifong" post in case you're "just walking in." Then Michaels' response. Then an email I'm about to send him saying "thank you" and touching a few other matters.


Random House’s Unabridged Dictionary defines knifing as “to attempt to defeat or undermine in a secret or underhanded way.”

And in Wilmington Journal columnist Cash Michaels’ most recent column (online) we find this paragraph:

Duke Three supporters have also blasted Pres. Brodhead for not speaking out against what they believe to be a “false prosecution” of the defendants by Durham District Attorney Mike Knifing, based on reportedly scant evidence and an allegedly corrupted police photo ID lineup. (bold added)
Well, what do you think? Understandable typo of the kind we all make or did Michaels intend to just come right out and ......?

I plan to drop Michaels an email later today and ask him.

I’ll let you know what I hear back.

In the meantime, if Dr. Freud reads this, I hope he'll comment.

I found Michaels’ column at Friends of Duke University’s media links page.

Now Michaels' email:

Dear John in Carolina:

Thank you for your missive. Your website, along with Liestoppers and Durham-in-Wonderland, is one of the more respectful, if not respectable Duke Three supportive sites. Doesn't mean I always agree, but I do approve of the civil tone in comparison with Johnsville News and others.

I actually saw your site regarding the "Mike Knifing" typo when you posted, so I was aware of it.

To your questions:

Because it was a banquet (and a longrunning one at that, the was no Q & A with Duke University Pres. Brodhead at the Durham NAACP function. Since I left before it ended (indeed it still may be going on), I did not get a chance to private speak with Pres. Brodhead.

Currently, I have no plans to interview him. My coverage has been more process and issue oriented. I beleive his message to Durham's Black community was clear - there should be a presumption of innocence; we shouldn't allow the explosive allegations to tear Durham apart; and this episode tests all that the civil rights movement taught us.

Any more, let me know.

Cash Michaels

Dear Cash:

Thanks for responding fully and promptly.

Your editor, Mary Alice Jervay Thatch, let me know it was as most people thought the sort of typo we all make. She asked that I link to the corrected column and that's done by virtue of my reposting here my first post which contains a link to your column.

I appreciate your grouping me with Durham-in-Wonderland and Liestoppers. I think it shows that at least in this instance you've been a kind rather than tough judge.

About Johnsville News I hope we can agree to disagree.

JiC readers will appreciate your answers to my questions as do I.

Are you planning to post on KC Johnson's "Green Light for Nifong" and "The Stubbornnes of Facts" posts? I think many people would be interested to learn your take on them.

For my part, while I don't agree with KC every time, I have great respect for his reporting and commentary. I think his two latest posts take our understanding of the events last March and April to a new level.

Again, Cash, thank you.



Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Churchill Series – Nov. 29, 2006

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

This is the second of a three part series in recognition of Churchill birthday, November 30. In each post I’m try to provide a “snapshot” of Churchill at some moment in his life. I mean the “snapshots” to honor the man but I also mean them to provide something different from the typical and well deserved Churchill birthday tributes.

Today’s post focuses on a extremely important contribution Churchill made to the Allied victory in WW II. But it’s not the brilliant, resolute leadership he provided as Prime Minister when “England stood alone” we’ll be talking about. Instead we’ll go back to 1919 and examine something Churchill did then that subsequently proved vital to Britain’s victory in WWII.

In January 1919 the Prime Minister, Lloyd George, appointed Churchill Secretary of State for War and Air. The most immediate and important problem Churchill faced was arranging for the demobilizing of the millions of men from the Army. But another problem had to do with the Royal Air Force.

At the outbreak of WW I the Army and Navy each had their air services which both used primarily for reconnaissance tasks. As the war progressed the size of the air services grew; and along with that grew all the problems of building, maintaining, and providing trained personnel to fly and service the planes. Both the Army and Navy struggled to support their air services. When it was suggested that a separate air service be created to manage the various demands of the growing air services the Army and Navy quickly agreed to pass over the tasks to a newly formed Royal Air Force.

But with the Armistice and peace came the Army and Navy’s demand that the Royal Air Force be deactivated and its functions returned to them. RAF officers objected and made the case for a separate service.

Initially, it seemed the older services would carry the argument; and the RAF would cease to function as a separate service. But Churchill weighed in on the RAF’s side. If was a struggle of many months but eventually the government adopted Churchill’s view and the RAF was preserved as a separate service.

Fast forward now to the summer of 1940 and the Battle of Britain. For many weeks it was uncertain the RAF would win the battle. In the end, the RAF’s victory was, as Wellington said of his victory at Waterloo, a “close run thing.”

The RAF in 1940 was just strong enough to win. If it hadn’t been a separate service for the previous 20 years it would not have been as strong as it was. So we can fairly say one of those made victory possible in the Battle of Britain was the man who was Secretary of State for War and Air in 1919.
Martin Gilbert, Churchill: A Life. ( use the index to locate the issues discussed here)

Are Americans Cheap?

That’s the question ABC correspondent and 20/20 anchor John Stossel considers in an column posted at Excerpts:

The New York Times and Washington Post editorialize about America's "stinginess." Former President Jimmy Carter says when it comes to helping others, "The rich states don't give a damn."

Standing outside the White House, the singer Bono told the press that America doesn't do enough to help the needy.

It seems obvious to Bono and President Carter that America offers "crumbs" because the governments of most other wealthy countries distribute a larger percentage of their nations' wealth in foreign aid.

Yes, the U.S. government gave out $20 billion last year, much more than other countries give, but that's only because we are so stupendously wealthy. If you calculate foreign aid as a percentage of our wealth, the United States gives much less than others.[…]
I hope nobody’s getting “steamed” at Stossel. He’s just laying out the case.

Stossel continues:
But wait a second ... when talking aid,[why]talk just about what the government gives? Why conflate America with our government? America is the people. …

America is 300 million private individuals, and their contributions far exceed what government gives. When you include those, America is anything but cheap.

After the Asian Tsunami two years ago, the U.S. government pledged $900 million to tsunami relief. American individuals donated $2 billion -- three times what government gave -- in food, clothing, and cash. Private charities could barely keep up with the donations.

Americans' preference for voluntary contributions over forced giving through government is one way in which Americans differ from other people. (Don't think it's forced? See what happens if you don't pay your taxes.)

Syracuse University professor Arthur Brooks's new book, "Who Really Cares", points out that Americans give more than the citizens of any other country.

Individually, Americans give seven times more money than people in Germany and 14 times more than Italians give. We also volunteer more. …
Strossel says a lot more before closing with:
America is a uniquely charitable country. So when you hear that "Americans are cheap," just remember: We gave $260 billion in charity last year. That's almost $900 for every man, woman, and child.

Of course some people give nothing. Some people are cheap. Which raises the question: Who gives and who doesn't? I'll report on that in my next column.
I’ll be looking for Stossel’s next column. If you see it first, please give me a heads up. I want to post on it. You can read all of his first column here.

Meanwhile, some thoughts:

A huge part of America’s “giving” is the human and finaccial costs of our military. Without America's military sheilding it , what would most of the rest of the world be like?

We know the answer: Darfur, Zimbabwe and North Korea. It certainly wouldn’t be like Europe, Berkeley or your nearby comfy college campus where military recruiters are banned.

The military services and sacrifices of literally tens of millions of Americans during the last century and through today have made the world a much better place than it would otherwise be.

What price can you put on that service and those sacrifices? The trillions Americans have spent since WW II shielding much of the world doesn’t begin to get at the real “costs” Americans have paid out.

American higher education is heavily taxpayer subsidized. Contribute to your favorite private college and you take a tax deduction for what you gave. The burden of the lost tax revenue resulting from your contribution is passed on to other taxpayers.

Americans cheer those who give to private colleges. That’s fine. But people like Jimmy Carter and Bono should keep that in mind when they’re doing their “giving math.”

The Carters and Bonos should also remember that each year Americans welcome to our shores great numbers of foreign citizens who come here and study and train at taxpayer subsidized colleges and universities.

When they complete their educations, most of those foreign citizens will return to their home countries where they’ll offer their fellow citizens the benefits of the education and training they received in America.

Has anyone ever calculated the amount of the taxpayer subsidized dollars that in any given year go into the cost of the education and training of foreign citizens?

That most of us haven’t even thought of that question is a testament to the generosity and good will of the American people.

There is a lot more I could say, but I’ll end here.

What are your thoughts on all of this?

The Tragedy at Duke: Part I

A KC Johnson post today provides a detailed, gripping account of how key Duke University administrators acted when confronted with what was on its face a wildly improbable story involving the gang-rape of a black exotic dancer by a group of white Duke students during a party at a University owned house.

Johnson’s account is based “on e-mail or personal discussions with more than two dozen participants in the campus events" he describes.

Today’s post is the first of a two-post series. The second will appear tomorrow. Johnson posts here, usually just after midnight.

Most of Johnson's post is a day-by-day account with probing commentary concerning what key Duke administrators knew, did and didn’t do beginning on March 16, when police first searched the house, and the three Lacrosse captains living there provided them with extraordinary cooperation, including signed statements and voluntary submission to DNA testing.

Johnson's day-by-day account takes readers up to March 26, one day after the Raleigh News & Observer published it's grossly biased, inflammatory and now thoroughly discredited “anonymous interview” story.

Johnson reports new information concerning events and individuals, including a March 25 meeting attended by some Duke administrators and a large group of lacrosse parents. We also learn more about Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek's role in “arranging” for at least some players to be represented by an attorney of her choosing. What she did seems very questionable.

I hope Wasiolek speaks publicly concerning what Johnson reports. The parents of current Duke students should have been informed months ago of just what it was she did concerning the players. The parents of future Duke students and the public that’s followed the Hoax Case will also be interested to know what Wasiolek did.

For me, the post’s “biggest bombshell” was the report that at least some Duke administrators told some of the players not to tell their parents what was going on.

I hope when I finish this post and go to Duke University’s website there’s already a news release there at least responding to Johnson’s “don’t tell parents” report. If not, I plan to contact Duke News and ask for a statement.

Some of what Johnson’s sources provided is “old news.” For example, President Brodhead refused on March 25 to meet with the players’ parents. But that news still shocks.

What’s more, it raises a very important question Brodhead and the PR people Duke’s retained to “help us get past this” won’t answer: Just why did Brodhead refuse to meet with the parents?

While Johnson's is a “can’t stop reading” post, it’s also almost physically painful to learn that top Duke administrators – President Brodhead, Executive Vice president Tallman Trask III, Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek, Athletic Director Joe Alleva, and others - initially recognized the hoax for what it was, but nevertheless, over the course of many days and for reasons they’ve never explained, frequently acted in ways that at the least enabled the witch hunt and its monumental injustices.

Based on the information Johnson’s sources have provided, it’s even reasonable to ask whether Brodhead’s and other administrators’ actions didn’t, in fact, help make the witch hunt and its injustices inevitable.

Brodhead now tells everyone they shouldn't look back at events at Duke last March and thereafter. He wants us all to “look to the future.”

Johnson’s post makes it easy to understand why Brodhead doesn’t want us looking back. It also helps us understand why Duke’s trustees, top administrators and alumni association officers and directors are so reluctant to talk about what the University did and didn't do in response to the Hoax.

The events that have flowed from the initial false witness have rightly been described as a tragedy for the forty-six victimized students and their families.

Brodhead acknowledges there's been a tragedy at Duke. He’s even assigned himself a role: the well-intentioned but befuddled ditherer new to tragedy and all its complexities.

But Johnson doesn’t let Brodhead walk away with that role.

In the tragedy Johnson describes Brodhead is Cassius, the students and their families are the assassinated Caesar, and the rest of “the Brodhead team” are the other senators,not one of whom evidences any of Brutus’ redeeming qualities.

Back on September 9 I put up a post that included the following:

Brodhead likes to tell alumni groups and others he's been "very fair" to the lacrosse players.


How was Brodhead's withholding important information concerning the players’ cooperation fair to them?

How was it fair to any of us seeking to learn as much truth as possible about the situation?

How was it fair to Duke University or the community?

Whose interests were served by Brodhead's and his top administrators' withholding of that information from the public on Mar. 25?
Johnson’s post revives those questions. More importantly, it takes us closer to the answers.

Advice to Duke: Duck, cover and silence isn’t going to get you “past this.” Start answering the questions. Begin making things as right as you can.

Endorse Professor Coleman’s proposal that Nifong step aside and let a special prosecutor take over the case. Condemn the racists who threatened Reade Seligmann on May 18. Apologize to Seligmann and his family for not doing that when he was first threatened.

There’s much more you need to do but those actions will be important initial steps. They’ll be welcomed by people who love Duke and value fairness.

Words to KC Johnson: You’ve rendered another extraordinary service to those falsely accused; to those who seek as much justice as it’s possible to obtain now; and to those who want Duke to get “past this” with the openness, truth and courage that befit a great university.

Final word to readers: You're right. I plan to post tomorrow on Johnson's second post. I can't wait to read it.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Churchill Series – Nov. 28, 2006

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

In recognition of Churchill’s birthday on November 30, I’m beginning today the three-post series I discussed in yesterday's post.

Before reaching age six a child typically accomplishes some extraordinary things: walking, running, balancing, climbing and learning to speak, even perhaps to begin reading, a language. Those accomplishments mostly speak to the child’s physical and intellectual capacities. They don’t necessarily tell us a lot about the child’s character or his or her empathy for others. To learn something of them, we need to look at how the child responds to life's events and treats other people.

In Churchill’s case we know that he was born into a wealthy and privileged family. His parents, talented and ambitious, largely ignored their baby and child. His care was turned over to a nurse, Mrs. Everest. With her he formed a bond of love that lasted throughout their lives. He would care for Everest in her last illness and keep her picture in his bedroom until he died.

When Churchill was age 5 his brother John, always “Jack” in the family, was born. “I remember my father coming into my bedroom (and) telling me, ‘You have a little brother,” he recalled sixty-five years later. As with Winston, the Churchill’s placed Jack in Everest’s care.

The birth of a sibling is a formidable, often threatening event. We’ve all seen children age 5 or so react by reverting to baby talk, thumb-sucking and the like. Sibling rivalry can be intensely competitive, brutally aggressive, and often last a lifetime.

We all could have understood if Churchill had reacted to Jack that way. But he didn’t. Everything we know about the boys early years indicates that, with the exception of occasional, transient squabbles, Winston was an affectionate and protective older brother who joined with Everest in caring for Jack. The brothers were close and mutually supportive throughout their lives. They married within a few months of each other, and the two Churchill couples became “best friends.”

Jack's birth presented young Winston with a great challenge to which he responded magnificently.

The child is father to the man.
Sources will be provided later today.

"Mike, the Knife"

Yesterday I posted concerning a Cash Michaels' column in which he mentioned "DA Mike Knifing." I've emailed Michaels to find out whether "Knifing" was a typo or what.

Meantime, an anonymous reader composed this wonderful takeoff on the song from Three Penny Opera. You all know it. Hum along as you read it.

Hey man, there goes Mike the Knife!

Oh, the shark, has pretty teeth, dear
and he shows them pearly white
Just a jackknife has MikeNifong, dear
and he keeps it, out of sight
When that shark bites with his teeth, dear
scarlet billows start to spread.
Fancy gloves though wears MikeNifong, dear
so there's not a trace of red.

On the sidewalk,
Sunday morning,
lies a body oozin' life.
Someone's sneakin' 'round the corner,
is that someone Mike the Knife?

From a tugboat
by the river
a cement bag's droopin' down
Yeah, the cement's just for the weight, dear
bet you MikeNifong's back in town.

Lookie here, Ole Lady Justice disappeared, dear
after withdrawing all her cash.
And MikeNifong spends like a sailor.
Did our boy
do somethin' rash?

Judge Bushfan, Judge Stevens
Judge Titus, Judge Smith
Oh, the line forms on the right, dear
now that Mikey's back in town.

Anonymous added: I am no Joan Foster. So if anyone would like to improve on this, feel free to do so.

Imporve it? I think it's wonderful as it.

Thanks, Anonymous.

MSM ignores Edwards’ latest stumble

Yesterday I posted concerning the Manchester Union Leader’s report former Senator John Edwards would hold a book signing that night at a local Barnes & Noble that pays its employees a starting wage of $7 an hour.

Just behind the B&N is a Wal-Mart that also sells books and pays it workers a starting wage of $7.50 an hour.

Edwards has frequently criticized Wal-Mart for is employee wage scale. He’s encouraged people not to shop at Wal-Mart.

So why was Edwards holding a book signing at a B&N that pays its workers a lower starting wage than a nearby Wal-Mart, the Union Leader asked?

I asked two other questions:

Are people who know Edwards really surprised to learn he's holding his book signing at Barnes & Noble?

And don't you think most of those people are already asking themselves: "I wonder who John will blame for this one?"
Today, Edwards gave us his answer to my second question. It included a major stumble MSM are ignoring. From an AP report:
"I've never asked anyone not to shop at Wal-Mart," he said. "I understand people need to buy inexpensive goods... But there are other companies, like Costco, who can do it and pay a decent wage and provide health care coverage, and I don't think that responsibility should be passed to taxpayers."
So Edwards effectly blames Wal-Mart. OK, nothing new there.

But to justify blaming Wal-Mart, Edwards cites “companies like Costco” which he says “pay a decent wage and provide health care coverage, and I don’t think that responsibility should be passed to taxpayers.” (bold added)

Did Edwards mean to say the government shouldn’t provide health care coverage to millions of uninsured Americans, with the cost of that coverage “passed to taxpayers?”

Does Edwards think there’s any way the government can provide health care coverage to the uninsured without the cost of that coverage “passed to taxpayers?”

MSM should be asking those questions but so far news organizations appear to be giving Edwards a pass.

Just completed searches of network news sites and come up “empty” regarding any MSM follow-up on Edwards' extraordinary stumble.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Churchill Series - Nov. 27, 2006

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

It's some "this and that" today.

First, thank you to the two readers who responded to the question of what it is that Churchill is holding in his left hand in this photo of him and Clementine leaving St. Paul's Cathedral after a V-E Thanksgiving Service. Both responses were informed but I'm still not sure what he's holding.

One of Churchill's many "isms" was that, with certain notable exceptions, he liked, if at all possible, to keep his hands free. He was reluctant to carry even small, light objects. When, for example, walking to a spot where he would paint, he'd typically ask friends and aides to carry his brushes, paints and canvases.

The most notable exception to Churchill's "hands free" ism I can think of is his frequent use over many decades of a walking stick.

In recognition of Churchill's birthday November 30, tomorrow I'll begin a three-part post series which I hope will provide you some different from the well-deserved, but very familiar, birthday appreciations we usually read.

Two posts will concern his private life: his relationship with his younger brother, Jack, and his treatment during the 30s of a gypsy couple who first occupied land near Chartwell and then, at his invitation, moved onto Chartwell property.

The third post will concern his critical role after WWI in preserving the RAF as a separate service in the face of Army and Navy demands for its abolition and the distributing of its functions to them. In helping preserve the RAF as a seperate service, Churchill made an incredibly important contribution to the development of British air power which was just strong enough in 1940 to win the Battle of Britain.


Did Edwards surprise anyone?

At Manchester, New Hampshire's Union Leader online we read:

Former Sen. John Edwards is to spend an hour at the Manchester Barnes & Noble tonight promoting his new book. ...

In Manchester, the local Wal-Mart store sits right behind the Barnes & Noble. It has more floor space, a parking lot several times the size of Barnes & Noble's, and is easier to access by car or public transportation.

But Edwards would not be caught dead inside a Wal-Mart. Saying that the company pays its employees too little, Edwards has embarked on an anti-Wal-Mart crusade. He instructs his staff members and all Americans not to shop at Wal-Mart.

"Wal-Mart makes plenty of money. They need to pay their people well," Edwards said at a Pittsburgh anti-Wal-Mart rally in August.

So naturally Edwards is holding his book signing at Barnes & Noble instead of Wal-Mart. Which is too bad for his anti-low-wages campaign, because in Manchester Wal-Mart pays hourly employees more than Barnes & Noble does.

The Barnes & Noble where Edwards will hawk his book pays $7 an hour to start. The Wal-Mart that sits just yards away pays $7.50 an hour. ...
You can read the rest of the article here.

Two questions: Are people who know Edwards really surprised to learn he's holding his book signing at Barnes & Noble?

And don't you think most of those people are already asking themselves: "I wonder who John will blame for this one?"

To get the answer, let's keep an eye on the Union Leader's site.


It wasn't so long ago that Professor Stuart Rojstaczer occupied one of those tenured faculty “roosts” at Duke University.

And it was only a day or two ago that Rojstaczer was strutting through the blogoshere gobbling about:

“Duke lacrosse [blogs] with a severe right-wing slant [that] state outright that the charges against the lacrosse players are bogus.”
Sure, Liestoppers, Johnsville and KC Johnson all took shots at him. So did I.

But we must’ve all missed because at 4 pm today Rojstaczer could still be "heard" on this Liestoppers’ thread gobbling:
“The role of the [‘Group of 88’s] ad in this tragedy is so minor that at best, those that dwell on it and its signatories are simply making a mountain out of a molehill."
I don’t know what happened after that but by 7 tonight Momtothree had him trussed and was plucking her first "Rojstaczer feather:"
"Well, Mr. R., I’m a Duke mom and the ad certainly had an impact on me.”
You can “digest” the rest of her post here.

And please leave something for me. I may do "leftovers" tomorrow.

“Faculty Survivors” (Nov. 27)

Last week's “Faculty Survivors” show featured Duke Professor Thomas J. Crowley who offered Hoax Case “items” he said people had overlooked.

"Items" such as:

”Why was the woman sober when she arrived and staggering to the point of passing out a mere 30 minutes later? Was she possibly drugged by someone when they encouraged her to have a drink? If so, what were the motives?
It all seemed very important. Crowley looked like a sure bet to make it to the season’s final show.

Then blogger KC Johnson, a professor himself, asked Crowley what he knew about toxicology testing done at Duke Hospital the night of the alleged crimes. Test results were negative.

As KC subsequently reported:
Crowley responded: [original all caps]
Oops! And you guessed it: Professor Crowley isn’t back this week.


I want you to meet the newest member of our “Faculty Survivors” cast, blogger and former Duke Professor Stuart Rojstaczer

Rojstaczer brings to the show some things we haven’t heard before.

Tell us about them, Stuart:
“Lately, I’ve read blogs about the Duke lacrosse scandal that have a severe right-wing slant. They tend to focus on a few points.

First, they state outright that the charges against the lacrosse players are bogus.”
I know some bloggers do that. Many don't even bother providing a parental warning. They just come right out and say the charges are bogus. And that concerns you, does it?
”If [that] were their only issue, I’d have no problem. But it doesn’t just stop there. They tend to go on and on." […]
By “they.” I assume you’re talking about blogs such as Durham-in-Wonderland, Johnsville News and Liestoppers.

You should know I respect those blogs and visit them every day. So do many of our “Faculty Survivors” viewers.

But, Stuart, we want to hear what you think. So tell us, besides saying the players are innocent, what else do the bloggers do that upsets you?
”[They] demonize the “Group of 88,” the 88 faculty members that signed an advertisement in the Duke student newspaper decrying the state of race relations at Duke."
Stuart, I’m sorry to cut you off on this but next week’s entire show is devoted to the “Group of 88.” And we’re running out of time. Can you quickly summarize what it is you’re saying?
“Essentially, these bloggers are trying to use the lacrosse scandal as a way not only to state the innocence of the lacrosse players, but: 1) perpetuate the status quo of a student culture where debauchery trumps academics; 2) make a quixotic attempt to remove left wing faculty at Duke.

As for issue number one, I don’t think they need to make this effort.”
Stuart, you’re going on and on. Briefly, what are you saying?
”The culture of debauchery and anti-intellectualism at Duke will not go away. No one in Duke leadership has a sincere interest in changing this culture.”
I’m worried our viewers are confused. You seem more upset with Duke than with the bloggers.

A few closing thoughts, Stuart. Ten seconds:
"The right-wing bloggers don’t have to worry. Duke will be Duke for the foreseeable future. It's one of the reasons why I left."
I see. Well, thank you.

We’re out of time. Remember, folks, next week’s our “Group of 88” show._________________________________________

Professor Rojstaczer says more in his blog post. He and Durham-in-Wonderland’s KC Johnson comment on the thread.

Be sure to read Liestoppers response to Rojstaczer.

Also, Johnsville News responds here. (Scroll down)

About DA Mike Knifing

Random House’s Unabridged Dictionary defines knifing as “to attempt to defeat or undermine in a secret or underhanded way.”

And in Wilmington Journal columnist Cash Michaels’ most recent column (online) we find this paragraph:

Duke Three supporters have also blasted Pres. Brodhead for not speaking out against what they believe to be a “false prosecution” of the defendants by Durham District Attorney Mike Knifing, based on reportedly scant evidence and an allegedly corrupted police photo ID lineup. (bold added)
Well, what do you think? Understandable typo of the kind we all make or did Michaels intend to just come right out and ......?

I plan to drop Michaels an email later today and ask him.

I’ll let you know what I hear back.

In the meantime, if Dr. Freud reads this, I hope he'll comment.

I found Michaels’ column at Friends of Duke University’s media links page.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Welcome back

I hope you all had a very good Thanksgving.

I'm glad to be "in touch" with you again.


To The Chronicle: Letter 5

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.

The Chronicle editorial leveled extremely serious charges at bloggers.

I’ve responded 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 letters one, two, three and four.

Letter five follows.


Editorial Board
The Chronicle
Duke University

Dear Editorial Board Members:

This is the last of five letters responding to your Oct. 27 editorial, “Bloggers get point, miss complexity.” (Here are letters one, two, three and four.)

At JinC and blogs where I regularly read about Duke Hoax issues, bloggers are careful not to misrepresent people, including Duke faculty and President Brodhead. We typically link to documents we reference.

So, for example, concerning then Duke Professor Houston Baker’s March 29 letter in which he said there’s “scarcely any shame more egregious than one that wraps itself in the pious sentimentalism of liberal rhetoric,” I’ve told readers Baker meant by “pious sentimentalism of liberal rhetoric” what most of us mean when we use terms such as “due process,” “presumption of innocence,” and “constitutional rights.”

I think that’s a very straightforward interpretation of what Baker said. But I’ve made sure to link to his letter so readers can judge for themselves.

Recently Professor Thomas J. Crowley published an op-ed in the Durham Herald Sun. He told readers he was “surprised” so many people without “legal knowledge” nevertheless were asking that the lacrosse case be dismissed. He said he knew of “items about the case that would lead one to hesitate before throwing out the case.”

Crowley’s “items” included the following questions :

Why was the woman sober when she arrived and staggering to the point of passing out a mere 30 minutes later? Was she possibly drugged by someone when they encouraged her to have a drink? If so, what were the motives?
Whatever our individual thoughts may be about the case, I'm sure we agree that Crowley’s questions dealt with extremely important matters that needed follow up.

Blogger KC Johnson did just that. He promptly emailed Crowley and informed him regarding toxicology testing done at Duke Hospital the night of the alleged crimes.

KC subsequently reported :
Crowley responded: [original all caps]
Yet again, it seems to me extraordinary that a professor would publicly suggest that a student or students at his own institution could have used a date-rape drug without checking as to whether the state had performed a toxicology test; and, if so, what results that test produced. (Results were negative. JinC)
Growing numbers of readers want and expect KC's kind of factual reporting and informed commentary. Serious bloggers, like serious journalists, strive to provide it. Other bloggers, like other journalists, don’t seem to even try.

I hope we now agree that some of the best Duke Hoax reporting and commentary have come from MSM and blog sources as have some of the worst.

I look forward to hearing from you.