Saturday, December 16, 2006

Iraq SG "non-partisanship"

Remember the Iraq Study Group and its report? Weren't we told everything about the group and its report was non-partisan?

At least that what's I read inthe NY Times and my local liberal/leftist newspaper, the Raleigh N&O.

Now look at what CNN is reporting under the banner: "Clinton's defense chief warns of Iraq 'quagmire'"

Former Defense Secretary William Perry, a member of the Iraq Study Group, said Saturday that Iraq could turn into a "quagmire" if the Bush administration fails to change strategy.

Perry, who led the Pentagon under President Clinton, delivered the Democratic Party's weekly radio address.[...]
You don't think the lib/left/Dems who dominate MSM news reporting were just trying to -- you know -- get us to buy into their partisan Democratic Party line, do you?

If we can't trust MSM news organizations, who can we trust? Mike Nifong?

You can read CNN's story here.

Battle of the Bulge Remembrance

The battle began on December 16, 1944. It would last through five weeks of the coldest winter Europe had seen in 50 years.

American forces, outnumbered, confused and overrun at first, would with incredible courage and sacriface stiffen, take the worst the Germans and the weather hit them with, and then turn the battle tide and achieve victory.

American forces suffered roughly 95% of the Allied battle casualties including almost 20,000 dead and 70,000 wounded, missing or captured.

From the forward to Hugh M. Cole’s The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge:

[U]nder the goad of Hitler's fanaticism, the German Army launched its powerful counteroffensive in the Ardennes in December 1944 with the design of knifing through the Allied armies and forcing a negotiated peace.

The mettle of the American soldier was tested in the fires of adversity and the quality of his response earned for him the right to stand shoulder to shoulder with his forebears of Valley Forge, Fredericksburg, and the Marne.
During the next five weeks I’ll be posting concerning the battle.

The following links may interest you:

The Department of Defense’s 60th Anniversary Battle of the Bulge site.

The American Experience Battle of the Bulge documentary site

Battle of the Bulge Veterans Assoication site. It includes links to fact sheets of American divisions that fought in the battle.

JinC Regular’s hearing report

JinC Regular and citizen reporter Locomotive Breath was there at yesterday’s hearing. He provides a very interesting, detailed account at Free Republic.

LB’s account includes some wonderful “color.” Here’s a bit of it:

At about this time the AP guys sees me with a notebook and asks for whom I'm reporting. I say "private citizen". I almost said "Freeper" to see if he would get it. But I was trying to remain anonymous so people might talk to me. (Sorry Dukie07 - no blue wrist band today.)

Too bad FreeRepublic can't get recognized as a media outlet and get us credentials. He then asks me to identify the defendants' lawyers for him 'cause he doesn't know who they are. (In your drive by report would you like fries with that?) I point out to him who they are to the best of my ability.

Well, OK, it's not like AP's credible anyway. He laments that someone whose name I don't know will probably do all the speaking and mess up his report.
Message to LB: Please don’t take this the wrong way but I think you should report for the Raleigh News & Observer. Nice work.

The rest of us can read LB’s report here.

Newmark: Remove Nifong now

Betsy Newmark today explains why Durham DA Mike Nifong "shouldn’t be allowed to continue doing who knows what other damage to our legal system.” Betsy’s concerned not only with the injustices Nifong’s inflicted on three innocent young men but with what he’s doing to others as well:

The question for North Carolina legal officials should be whether such a man should continue to have the power over indicting and prosecuting alleged criminals in Durham County.

If he is violating procedures and lying in court about his collusion with the DNA lab to hide evidence from the defense in a very public trial such as this one, imagine what he might be doing in all the other cases in Durham where there aren't the glare of the national press and highly paid defense lawyers to expose his malfeasance.

Yes, he won election. But whether it should be the North Carolina bar, the North Carolina Justice officials, or the United States Justice Department, this man shouldn't be allowed to continue doing who knows what other damage to our legal system.

There shouldn't be a delay to wait for the outcome of the trial. In the interests of providing a fair system to all who might be caught up in the legal system in Durham, he should be removed from all cases until he is either cleared or prosecuted himself.

Just think what would happen if he were prosecuted and disbarred a year or so from now. Everyone who had been prosecuted by his office in the interim would have grounds for appeal. Get him out of there now. (bold added)
I hope you read the entire post, “How much longer should Mike Nifong be in power as Durham's District Attorney?”

If you’re not regular Betsy Newmark reader, please take a look around her blog, Betsy’s Place. It’s one I visit daily.

Last item: Betsy’s the “unofficial winner” in Weblog Awards’ 251-500 Best blog category. Result won’t be certified until Monday but voting has ended and Betsy has a solid lead over her nearest competitor in a 10 blog field. ( unofficial count: Betsy’s Place 1353 - Flopping Aces 1040)

I’ll post separately on the Best “race” later today.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Churchill Series – Dec. 15, 2006

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

Scotland Yard’s Detective Inspector Walter Thompson, Churchiill’s principal bodyguard for many years, tells us:

Mr. Churchill did not always respect the rules created for his own protection. One of my duties was to ensure that photographs were not taken of him with landmarks in the background that could be recognized

[During WW II while] he was [still] at the Admiralty, we were walking over one day to 10 Downing Street when a press photographer intercepted us. This was not a suitable place for a photograph and I waved the pressman aside.

Winston, however, had other ideas. He called to the cameraman, “Do you want to take a photograph?”

“Yes, please, sir, “was the reply.

The photograph was taken and I was not pleased. I turned to Churchill and said, “I thought that photographs were forbidden here, sir?”

“Ah, well,” came the answer, with that irresistible boyish grin. “After all, he is one of God’s children, Thompson.”

By then he saw that I was not mollified, and in the garden of No. 10 he returned to the subject. “They have to do something to get a little copy, you know.”
Yes, then as now.

I hope you all have a very nice weekend.

Ex-Detective Inspector Walter Thompson, Beside the Bulldog:The Intimate Memoirs of Chrchil’s Bodyguard. (pg. 83)

Liestoppers' simple devastation

Remember the old adage:“Simple is best?”

Liestoppers has just produced a very simple, informative and powerful post. But don’t read it if you want to go on believing DA Mike Nifong is fair or honest.

Liestoppers’ post in full is below. My comments follow.


"The state is not aware of any additional material or information which may be exculpatory in nature with respect to the defendant [Seligmann]," Nifong wrote in a court filing [May 18].


"Meehan struggled to say why he didn’t include the favorable evidence in a report dated May 12, almost a month after Seligmann and Finnerty had been indicted. He cited concerns about the privacy of the lacrosse players, his discussions at several meetings with Nifong, and the fact that he didn’t know whose DNA it was.

"Under questioning by Jim Cooney, a defense attorney for Seligmann, Meehan admitted that his report violated his laboratory’s standards by not reporting results of all tests.

"Did Nifong and his investigators know the results of all the DNA tests?" Cooney asked.

“I believe so,” Meehan said.

“Did they know the test results excluded Reade Seligmann?” Cooney asked
I believe so,” Meehan said.

"Was the failure to report these results the intentional decision of you and the district attorney?" Cooney asked.

“Yes,” Meehan replied."

"Head of DNA lab says he and Nifong agreed not to report results" [N&O]

It’s devastating, isn’t it? And who can argue with it? It’s all “the record.”

It couldn’t have been easy for Meehan to admit he and Nifong agreed that he’d intentionally withhold exculpatory evidence from his report.

Meehan’s ruined professionally and he very likely will face civil suits. But he must have realized that awful as those consequences are, they’re preferable to a perjury conviction.

Liestoppers’ post makes it clear Nifong will now need to offer another lie(s) to explain his May 18 written statement to the court.

But "the noose" is tightening.

“O, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

If I were a decision-maker at the state bar association, and I’d just read Liestoppers' post, I hope I’d be calling the other decision-makers and saying something like: “We better start moving.”

Message to Liestoppers: Congratulations on a simply devastating post.

Kim’s needed now

Like “Old Man River,” Nifong and his enablers' lies just keep rolling along.

Two of Nifong & Cos. latest lies appear at the end of this excerpt from WRAL TV’s report of this morning’s court hearing:

Brian Meehan, the director of a private lab that tested DNA samples in the case, testified Friday about the testing procedures and the report the lab delivered to Nifong's office. Defense attorneys maintain that report was incomplete.

The defense said the full report showed DNA samples from several men were found on the woman and her underwear, but none of the genetic material matched any of the players. Their motion also said that some of Meehan's own DNA contaminated the sample.

Meehan said the lab didn't try to withhold information. He said he and Nifong chose not to release the full report to protect the privacy of lacrosse players who weren't implicated in the case.
Meehan didn't try to withhold information? Nifong wanted "to protect the privacy of lacrosse players who weren’t implicated in the case?"

What a crock!

Where’s Kim Roberts when we need her?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Churchill Series – Dec. 14, 2006

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

Folks, it's just fun today.

In 1944 Fitzroy MacLean, a British diplomat, was serving behind German lines in Yugoslavia as a liaison with Tito and his partisans. At one point MacLean was pulled out of Yugoslavia and brought to Algiers for intelligence debriefing. As you’re about to read, he spoke by phone with Churchill. MacLean recalled:

In the spring of 1944 the military situation in Bosnia made it feasible to land an aircraft by night in a secluded valley, and I was once again brought out to report. When I reached Algiers I received a message inviting me to call the Prime Minister in London by radio telephone via Washington.

For this purpose I was taken to an underground room in Allied headquarters and handed over to a pretty American WAC sergeant. Before putting us through, she explained that our conversation would be scrambled, and that we could speak freely without fear of being overheard by the enemy.

What was my surprise, therefore, on hearing Mr. Churchill's well-known voice come booming over the ether and [on] announcing my own identity as instructed …being told by the Prime Minister to shut up! He then asked me whether I had spoken to "Pumpkin."

Disconcerted, I asked him what he meant. "Why that great big General of mine," he said in a stage whisper. "And what," he went on, "have you done with Pippin?"

Clearly one of us was off his head! I hoped it wasn't me, but how much worse if it was the Prime Minister. In despair, I told him I had no idea of what he was talking about or how all these fruits and vegetables came in to it.

There was a pause, interrupted only by the inhuman wailing and crackling of the ether. Then, projected over the air, first of all across the Atlantic, from Downing Street to Washington, and then back to North Africa, came quite distinctly an exclamation of horror and disgust. "Good God," I heard him say, "they haven't got the code."

At this point, not a moment too soon, the technicians took over, arguing among themselves about whether we needed to use a code or not.

A few minutes later the Prime Minister was back on the air. "Shall we scramble?" he asked gaily. I replied that I thought I was scrambled. There was a rumbling noise, followed by silence, and Mr. Churchill's voice came through again. "So am I," he said.

After which, much to my relief, we were able to talk normally and very sensibly and to arrange for my onward journey to London. …

[The call ended. I] laid down the receiver with relief after this unnerving experience. I started up the stairs of our dugout but then turned back to collect something I'd forgotten. As I opened the door, I was startled to hear my own voice coming through it. "Pumpkin, Prime Minister?," I was saying, "I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean."

I looked in. The pretty American sergeant was playing our conversation back to herself, rocking with laughter. “And an English accent, too," I heard her say.
You can read more of what MacLean had to say about Churchill at a Churchill Centre page here.

I vote Betsy Newmark

Weblog Awards voting for “Best” blogs in various categories closes at 11:59 PM (US - Eastern) December 15, 2006.

There are three excellent NC blogs in the 251-500 “Best” category: Betsy’s Page, Confederate Yankee and Sister Toldjah. IMHO any one of the three will be a deserving winner. I’m not familiar with the other nominees.

That said, I just voted here for Betsy’s Page.

Betsy Newark’s a high school social studies teacher in Raleigh. She’s proud and clear for America’s creed and those who defend it. She reports and comments on the foolish and knavish (eg. Jimmy Carter, Al Sharpton and NC’s own John Edwards) as well as the wise ( eg. Michael Barone, Charles Krauthammer, Heather McDonald, Thomas Sowell and Mark Steyn).

Betsy’s a Duke mom. And does she ever comment on the Hoax! Here she is on Dec. 13 with “More exonerating evidence in the Duke lacrosse case:”

Lookee, lookee here. New information about the DNA tests that were done back in the Spring. Precious, the strip dancer and alleged victim, apparently was chock full of male DNA, just none of it was from any of the lacrosse players.
That's a very good example of Betsy’s “tell it like it is” blogging. She ends her post with:
It was already quite clear that her story was a pack of lies, but every revelation turns up more lies in her story.

If Nifong really kept this information from the defense, there is even more reason to investigate Mike Nifong's conduct of this case.
You can vote here; but only until 11:59 PM (US - Eastern) December 15, 2006.

Thank you.

Adding to N&O’s "Block IDs" story

Readers’ Note: If you’ve already read the N&O's story below, you may want to skip down to my comments below the star line.


The Raleigh News & Observer has posted online a story, "Lacrosse judge asked to block IDs" It begins:

Defense lawyers asked a judge today to block the accuser in the Duke University lacrosse case from identifying her alleged attackers in court at trial.

If they succeed, the lawyers for three indicted former lacrosse players would undermine the foundation of District Attorney Mike Nifong’s case and give the defense a chance to have the charges dismissed before trial. The request came in a motion in Durham County Superior Court that also asks the judge to throw out the photographic lineup procedure that became the basis for the state’s rape case.

The 43-page motion methodically recounts the day-by-day progress of the investigation and the efforts of police to get a reliable identification from the accuser, an escort service worker who said she was raped by three men at a March lacrosse team party. […]

Her descriptions of her attackers did not resemble the men eventually charged. Before picking out her attackers three weeks after the party, police told her she would be viewing photographs of all people at the party, meaning anyone she picked out could be indicted.

The document is titled, “Motion to Suppress the Alleged ‘Identification’ of the Defendants by the Accuser.’”

The motion, signed by lawyers for all three defendants, asks Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith III to throw out the April 4 lineup procedure in which the accuser identified four men as her attackers. It asks the judge to bar her in-court identification and asks for an evidentiary hearing on the issues raised in the motion. […]

The motion highlights a further contradiction: The accuser told police that a man she later identified as Seligmann dragged her to a car after the assault. A photo taken at 12:41 a.m. shows one player helping the accuser into a car; a Wachovia ATM photographed Seligmann withdrawing cash at 12:24 a.m., about a mile from the party.
The N&O’s story, detailed and coherent, looks like fine reporting under tight deadline.

The story will very likely be front-page in tomorrow’s print editions. Between now and the print deadline the story’s reporters, Ben Niolet and Joe Neff, will no doubt continue working on it.

I hope Neff and Nicolet do at least two things that will make the story more useful for readers:

1) After reporting defense attorneys are asking that the accuser be barred from IDing her alleged attackers in court at trial, explain why the attorneys made that request.

That's made clear by Duke University Law School professor James Coleman in hisJun. 12 letter to the N&O:
[The police’s telling the woman they’d be no fillers used] strongly suggests that the purpose of the identification process was to give the alleged victim an opportunity to pick three members of the lacrosse team who could be charged. Any three students would do; there could be no wrong choice.

The prosecutor would not care if the pre-trial identification was subsequently thrown out by the court.

The accuser would identify them at trial by pointing to the three defendants seated in front of her as the three men who assaulted her.

The prosecutor would argue that she had an independent basis (independent of the identifications thrown out) for doing so.
2) Regarding the N&O's report the block motion noted an accuser contradiction: She "told police that a man she later identified as Seligmann dragged her to a car after the assault. A photo taken at 12:41 a.m. shows one player helping the accuser into a car; a Wachovia ATM photographed Seligmann withdrawing cash at 12:24 a.m., about a mile from the party."

I hope the reporters add that Moezeldin Elmostafa, the cab driver who drove Seligmann and his roommate from the party to the ATM machine, reported taking them from there further away from the house on N. Buchanan Blvd. to a Cook Out Hamburgers where the two students bought takeout; after which Mostafa drove them back to their dorm on Duke’s West campus. Mostafa’s cab record shows he dropped them off at 12:45 a. m. Duke’s electronic records show Seligmann’s key card was used at 12:46 a.m. for entry to his dorm. (Seligmann timeline data from Johnsville News post.)

It's very likely the attorneys included the Elmostafa and card swip information in their motion.

Including the Elmostafa and card swip information in the N&O story will help readers understand the improbability of the accuser's claim that Seligmann helped her into the car.

I plan to contact Niolet and Neff on the two points.

I get an N&O print edition. (The N&O prints four editions. In my area we get the West edition.)

I'll post tomorrow on whether the N&O included in the print edition either or both of the points I've raised.

A hat tip goes to an Anon who called my misspelling of Moezeldin Elmostafa's name to my attention.

Law prof: "Nifong tried to cheat"

University of Maryland Law School professor Jason Trumpbour writes (“Now we are seeing some action!” Dec. 14):

Today, the defense teams filed a motion to compel discovery which reveals even more evidence of the prosecutorial misconduct that moved Representative [Walter] Jones to write his letter [to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.]

Contained in that motion is evidence that [DA Mike]Nifong tried to cheat on discovery. The private lab hired by Nifong never reported that it had found dna from numerous males in the rape kit samples taken from the vaginal area, anus and undergarments of the alleged victim.

Nifong never turned this information over to the defense, opposed an earlier motion to compel discovery of the records containing this information and has yet to fully comply with that earlier motion.

The information is particularly relevant as evidence because it contradicts statements made by the alleged victim and also provides an explanation for the “edema” inside her vagina. Of course it would also fundamentally undermine any argument that Nifong was planning to make that the accused could have committed a gang rape, ejaculated and not left any dna on the alleged victim.

The motion also suggests that the private lab was complicit with Nifong in attempting to cheat on discovery. The lab’s owner is listed among the prosecution witnesses.

If it is true that the lab owner aided Nifong in attempting to obstruct justice, Nifong would now have to decide if he still wants to call a key expert witness who might have to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights on the stand in response to cross examination. How much more screwed up can a prosecution case get?!
Trumpbour, who also teaches in the University of Baltimore’s Legal and Ethical Studies graduate program, holds three degrees from Duke University (A.B., 1988, A.M., 1991, J.D., 1991.) as well as a doctorate from Cambridge University (Ph.D., 1996). He's been in private practice and also served in the Criminal Appeals Division of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office (1988-2001).

Like Duke University Law School professor James Coleman, Trumpbour has for many months been alerting the public to Nifong’s travesties. Here’s part of a letter Trumpbour wrote on Aug. 4 in response to one of the Durham Herald Sun’s “gosh, we love Mike Nifong” editorials:
In an August 1 editorial, you found District Attorney Mike Nifong "courageous" and "contrite" in his discussion of the Duke lacrosse case at a recent press conference.

Unfortunately, there is little courage to be found in a desperate appeal to sympathy by an embattled politician. And Nifong was hardly contrite as he continued to obfuscate the relevant legal standards for his conduct.

You also stated that Nifong "still believes he has a good case" and find that significant for some reason. Yet, Nifong apparently lacks the courage of those convictions. After ramrodding evidence through a hopelessly backlogged SBI crime lab and racing to get indictments before the election, Nifong is now trying to postpone the day of reckoning until next spring.

Nifong refused to even look at any of the exculpatory evidence proffered to him by the defense. This action violated North Carolina Rule of Professional Conduct 3.8 which prohibits a prosecutor from avoiding "pursuit of evidence merely because he or she believes it will damage the prosecutor's case."

In hiding his eyes from that evidence, Nifong abdicated the responsibilities of the office to which he was appointed and should have no further claim to it. (bold added)[…]
Trumpbour identified himself as a member of Friends of Duke University. He serves as FODU's spokesperson. FODU has no formal affiliation with Duke but seeks to work with the University on a variety of issues including securing as much justice as is now possible for the three framed young men – David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann.

FODU welcomes the involvement of Duke and non-Duke people alike.

I included Trumpbour’s H-S letter in an Aug. 4 post: “This Duke Friend is a Durham friend, too”

The Aug. 4 post includes a link to KC Johnson's "Roy Cooper's Silence" post [Cooper's NC's Attorney General] in which KC provides a scholarly review of N. C. law and procedures relating to Nifong's misconduct as well as a link to Coleman's Jun. 12 letter in which he said of the rigged ID procedure that was the most essential part of the frame-up of Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann: "And three students would do; there could be no wrong choice."

Trumpbour continues to be a friend of Duke and Durham. He’s a friend of Justice, too.

You can read Trumpbour’s Dec. 14 column here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Churchill Series – Dec. 13, 2006

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

Monday we read some of the logistical and strategic explanations Churchill offered for what historians generally agree was, if not the greatest blunder Hitler made during the war, certainly was of the greatest: his decision, announced to key aides in late Summre/early Fall 1940, to invade Russia the following Spring by which time Hitler knew and told his aides Germany would not yet have forced Britain out of the war.

Today let’s look at a psychological explanation for Hitler’s blunder: his pathological hatred of Bolsheviks. Hitler’s hatred of Bolshevik’s matched that of his hatred of Jews. He frequently grouped them together. In Mein Kampf he repeatedly refers to the “Judeo-Bolsheviks” and says the last phase of the great, European war he believed was inevitable must involve the destruction of the then Soviet Union.

In Their Finest Hour, volume two of his WW II history, Churchill includes a narrative of secret negotiations in late 1940 between Russia and Germany. Their stated purpose was the division of sphere’s of influence and “spoils” between the two nations as well as Hitler’s Axis partners: Italy and Japan.

For Hitler, however, the talks were really meant to lull the Russians while he prepared to annihilate them. So German offers to Russians were designed to keep Stalin talking and misguided as to German intentions. In reality, Churchill says:

Hitler’s heart was set on destroying the Bolsheviks, for whom his hatred was mortal. He believed that he had the force to gain his main life-aim. Thereafter all the rest would be added unto him. (pg. 587)
Few statesmen and few historian’s have understood Hitler as well as Churchill.

The Wikipedia Mein Kampf entry is reliable. It provides a good content summery as well as some very interesting information about the book’s publishing history.

What's up with the Saudis

Concerning the Saudis, Varifrank observes that in the last few weeks MSM have reported but not paid much attention to four important and very likely connected events:

1) VP Dick Cheney went to Saudi Arabia.

2) With no forewarning, the Saudi Ambassador to US resigne and returned home.

3) The Saudi King grantrf a press interview in which he said the ‘Arab world is ready to explode”.

4) Saudi Arabia announced it will support Sunnis in Iraq if the US leaves.

Varifrank believes the four events are connected. Why?

It has to do, Varifrank says, with Saudi:
Means, Motive, Opportunity
• Saudi Arabia has a capable US trained Military – Means.

• Saudi has the funds for a large scale military operation – Means.

• Iran is Shiite, Saudi is Sunni - Motive.
Varifrank offers a lot more by way of commentary concerning events 1 through 4 and Means, Motive [and]Opportunity.

I hope you take a look at Varifrank’s post.

No Churchill Series post - Dec. 12, 2006


I'm sorry my work schedule has gotten in the way.

There'll be no series post today.

I'll be back at it tomorrow.

I'm sorry and thanks for your understanding.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Whacky in Waco and Elsewhere

Yesterday I posted “This had me LOL.” I was laughing after reading a very funny satire which included:

Scenario: Parents take cute pictures of their 2 year-old playing in the tub.

1965 Parents go to Walgreen's, get them developed, and put them in the child's picture album which is shared with friends and relatives.

2006 Parents reported by Walgreen's to the Police, arrested for child pornography, and child sent to foster care.

Scenario: Mark gets a headache and his Mother gives him some aspirin to take to school.

1965 Mark's headache persists. He goes to his locker, gets a couple of aspirin and takes them at the water fountain.

2006 Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.
Today, I read “a real world” story that didn’t leave me laughing. The AP reports from Waco, Texas:
WACO - School administrators gave a 4-year-old student an in-school suspension for inappropriately touching a teacher's aide after the pre-kindergartner hugged the woman.

A letter from La Vega school district administrators to the student's parents said that the boy was involved in "inappropriate physical behavior interpreted as sexual contact and/or sexual harassment" after he hugged the woman and he "rubbed his face in the chest of (the) female employee" on Nov. 10.

DaMarcus Blackwell, the father of the boy who attends La Vega Primary School, said he filed a complaint with the district. He said that his son doesn't understand why he was punished.

"When I got that letter, my world flipped," Blackwell said in a story in Sunday's editions of the Waco Tribune-Herald.

La Vega school district officials said student privacy laws prevented them from commenting.

After Blackwell filed a complaint, a subsequent letter from the district said the offense had been changed to "inappropriate physical contact" and removed references of sexual contact or sexual harassment from the boy's file.

Administrators said the district's student handbook contains no specific guidelines referring to contact between teachers and students but does state that inappropriate physical contact will result in a discipline referral.

The La Vega school district, which has five schools, covers about 30 miles around Waco.
We can’t be sure what the child actually did. But unless the AP got the story very wrong (yes, that happens), the school system wrote the child’s father a letter about “inappropriate physical behavior interpreted as sexual contact and/or sexual harassment" and then backed off of the “interpreted as sexual contact and/or sexual harassment” part of the letter when the father complained.

What’s “interpreted as sexual contact and/or sexual harassment" behavior by a four year old? If you're going to use explosive, stigmatizing terms such as “sexual contact” and “sexual harassment” to describe a child’s behavior, shouldn’t you be damn sure the behavior actually involved sexual contact and sexual harassment?

If I were a parent and had gotten either version of the letter, I’d have been very upset and asked: “What did my child actually do?” I’d also want to know why the school didn’t call me before sending the letter.

I wish the story had said whether school personnel sent the first letter as a result of their professional judgment of what was the appropriate way to contact the parent; or whether they were following a school system policy that says whenever you suspend a student you must inform the parent in writing.

Most school systems have such a policy but it shouldn’t excuse school personnel from also phoning a parent to explain the reason for the letter and inviting the parent to school to discuss the child’s behavior.

Getting back to the 1965 – 2006 satire: Where’s a society headed when it has school systems in Waco and most other places in America sending home in-school suspension letters to the parents of four and five year olds while those same school systems don’t inform a parent when a school counselor contacts a social worker and other “helping persons” to discuss how they’ll “help” a fifteen year old obtain an abortion?

There’s a lot whacky in Waco and elsewhere in America.

I learned of the story from Betsy Newmark's post: "No tolerance policies run amuk." I hope you give it a look.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Churchill Series – Dec. 11, 2006

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

In response to a reader’s request, today and tomorrow’s posts will look at the question of why Hitler choose to invade Russia before he had “finished” with Britain. Most of you know historians disagree on the answer(s) to that question. So within the limits of my knowledge and the “space” of the posts, I’d be foolish to suggest that I’m offering you the answer(s).

Instead, let’s look together at some of what a great historian, Winston S. Churchill, offered as his answer(s) to the question. Today we’ll focus on some of what he saw as logistical and strategic reasons for Hitler’s decision to turn away from Britain and invade Russia. Tomorrow, well look at what Churchill and many other historians cite as a powerful psychological force influencing Hitler: his deep hatred of Bolsheviks and Slavs.

In Their Finest Hour, volume II of his WW II history, Churchill provides a very good summary of logistical and strategic factors the caused Hitler, in the late Summer and Fall of 1940, to turn his attention from West to East, and begin planning for an invasion of Russia in the Spring of 1941, with Britain to be finished off after Russia was defeated:

… Without the command of the sea or the air, it had been deemed impossible to move German armies across the Channel. Winter with its storms had closed upon the scene. …

There must be many months’ delay before “Sea Lion” [, the German invasion plan,] could be revived, and with every week that passed, the growth, ripening, and equipment of the British home armies required a larger “Sea Lion,” with aggravated difficulties of transportation. Even three-quarters of a million men with all their furnishings would not be enough in April or May, 1941.

What chance was there of finding by then the shipping, the barges, the special landing craft necessary for so vast an over sea stroke? How could they have assembled under ever-increasing British air-power? Meanwhile, this air-power, fed by busy factories in Britain and the United States and by immense training schemes for pilots in the Dominions centered in Canada would perhaps in a year or so make the British Air Force superior in numbers, as it was already in quality, to that of Germany.

Can we wonder, then, that Hitler, once convinced that Goering’s hopes and boasts had been broken, should turn his eyes to the East? Like Napoleon in 1804, he recoiled from the assault of the island until at least the Eastern danger was no more. He must, he now felt, at all costs settle with Russia before staking everything on the invasion of Britain. (pgs. 576-577)
From my readings I judge that putting aside the question of whether Hitler should have finished with Britain first, his decision to invade Russia was in any case his worst military decision of the war. What do you think?

Faculty "Honor," Puffery & Silence

KC Johnson's post today begins:

In the months since Houston Baker departed Durham for Vanderbilt, a race to the bottom has occurred among the Duke faculty to determine which ideologue can behave in the most irresponsible manner. Three finalists for this dubious honor:

• Peter Wood, who has gone out of his way to appear to slander his own students;

• Karla Holloway, who has proclaimed that “white innocence means black guilt,” while boasting she would sign the Group of 88’s statement again “in a heartbeat”;

• Wahneema Lubiano, who coordinated the Group of 88’s statement.
All three are worthy of the dubious honor but KC goes on to spotlight Lubiano’s very thin scholarly record, her questionable claims about certain of her professional accomplishments, and numerous other actions which suggest she among all Duke's faculty has acted “in the most irresponsible manner.”

KC’s post is detailed, scholarly, and stinging. Duke’s trustees, administrators and responsible faculty ought to be asking themselves very serious questions about how and why someone like Lubiano was given a position on the A&S faculty and awarded tenure.

Regardless of whether they’ll question Duke’s faculty hiring process, it appears KC will. He ends his post with:
Tomorrow: Through what kind of process do professors like Lubiano get hired?
I’m looking forward to reading it at KC’s Durham-in-Wonderland.

I’ve sent links to KC’s post to trustee board chairman Robert Steel and president Richard Brodhead. I hope you will find ways to let them and others at Duke know most people who care about Duke are very concerned by what we’ve been learning about many A&S faculty.

La Shawn Barber has put together a wonderful post whose title tells us what its about: "Duke’s Privileged Puffed Up Professors."

La Shawn starts off:
Here’s some common sense advice for everyone: Never puff up your academic and professional credentials. All it takes is one smart and motivated person to do a little digging and expose you to ridicule.
When Lubiano put her CV together and in other places told people about her professional accomplishments, why didn’t she think herself of the “common sense advice” La Shawn offers? That’s another question those responsible for faculty hiring at Duke should be asking

La Shawn observes:
Johnson examines Lubiano’s essays and teaching, highlighting such inane rhetoric as “once white working class people learn that corporate capitalism is using racism to manipulate them, they will want to join with racially oppressed people against capitalism.” The irony is lost on a tenured professor with a cushy job supplied by a capitalist system she accuses of being racist.
You can read the rest of La Shawn’s post here.

Thankfully, most A&S faculty are not like Lubiano and some others. And they're not puffed up either. But, with a few honorable exceptions, they sure are silent.

They need to get their voices back.

This had me LOL

This is "floating around the net." A friend passed it on.


Scenario: Parents take cute pictures of their 2 year-old playing in the tub.

1965 Parents go to Walgreen's, get them developed, and put them in the child's picture album which is shared with friends and relatives.

2006 Parents reported by Walgreen's to the Police, arrested for child pornography, and child sent to foster care.

Scenario: Jack pulls into school parking lot with rifle in gun rack.

1965 Vice Principal comes over, takes a look at Jack's rifle, goes to his car and gets his own to show Jack.

2006 School goes into lockdown, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.

1965 Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up best friends. Nobody goes to jail, nobody is arrested, nobody is expelled.

2006 Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario: Jeffrey won't be still in class; disrupts other students.

1965 Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by the school principal. Sits still in class from then on.

2006 Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his father's car and his Dad gives him a whipping.

1965 Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.

2006 Billy's Dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. Billy's sister is told by state psychologist that she remembers being abused by her Dad, and their Dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has affair with psychologist.

Scenario: Mark gets a headache and his Mother gives him some aspirin to take to school.

1965 Mark's headache persists. He goes to his locker, gets a couple of aspirin and takes them at the water fountain.

2006 Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario: Mary turns up pregnant.

1965 Several high school boys leave town. Mary does her senior year at a special school for expectant mothers.

2006 Middle school counselor calls Planned Parenthood, who notifies the ACLU. Mary is driven to the next state over the border and gets an abortion without her parent's consent or knowledge. Mary given condoms and told to be more careful next time.

Scenario: Pedro fails high school English.

1965: Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.

2006: Pedro's cause is taken up by state Democrat party. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files a class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English banned from core curriculum as a required course. Pedro is given diploma anyway, but ends up mowing lawns and washing dishes for a living because he can't speak English.

Scenario: Jimmy takes apart leftover firecrackers from the 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a fire-ant hill.

1965 Ants die.

2006 BATF, Homeland Security, FBI called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism. FBI investigates parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated, Johnny's Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

[. . . and who among us (boys mostly) didn't have a chemistry set that was capable of making all sorts of concoctions that would land us in the hoosegow today, and we were encouraged to learn to use it.]


Barone on Iraq SG

I’ve a few thoughts on the Iraq Study Group’s report but first here’s some of what Michael Barone is saying about it today:

[The] 79 recommendations included some constructive suggestions for new military tactics and for reorganizing the Iraqi government. But it concentrates more on what it calls the "external approach," a "reinvigorated diplomatic effort," a (with capitals in the original) "New Diplomatic Offensive."

This New Diplomatic Offensive would not only be directed at securing Iraq's border and reducing violence within them, but would also, astonishingly, be directed at producing a peace settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. All this because, the report says, "all key issues in the Middle East -- the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iraq, Iran, the need for political and economic reforms, and extremism and terrorism -- are inextricably linked.

Well, everything is linked to everything, I suppose, and you could even argue that everything is "inextricably" linked to everything. But it's hard to see why, to take one of several possible examples, Iraqi Sunnis would stop shooting Shiites and American troops if the United States successfully pressured Israel to give the Golan Heights to Syria. Nor is it clear that a removal of U.S. objections to Iran's nuclear program would persuade the Shiite militias to stop shooting.

Regime change has been achieved in Iraq by military action. The ISG would seek to reduce violence in Iraq by regime change in Iran and Syria -- regime change to be achieved by negotiation. But it gives no persuasive reason to believe this is possible. In its narration of the facts, the report acknowledges that Iran has been promoting violence in Iraq and that Syria is at best negligent in preventing it. Later, it asserts that reducing violence in Iraq is in Iran's and Syria's interest.

It would be nice if the leaders of Iran and Syria thought so, and I suppose it's theoretically possible that if we explain things to them in patient negotiations, they might be persuaded. But not, I think, much more possible than persuading pigs to fly.
Pigs to fly, indeed.

As many others have pointed out, none of the ISG’s 79 recommendations are new. What’s new is that they’ve been bundled into one package which much of MSM is telling us represents “realism” but which I think should carry a large warning label: NAÏVE!

Barone points out the report’s stunning naivety:
As instruments of persuasion, the ISG report presents very little in the way of sticks and some very dangerous carrots. The only stick I saw was the suggestion that, if the United States withdraws, Saudi Arabia might intervene militarily in aid of the Sunnis. That doesn't seem likely to get the mullahs quivering.
No, it doesn’t.

The report never really addresses the question of why Iran and Syria would want to give up their decades-long state sponsorship of terrorism and assassinations. Nor does it say anything realistic about how you negotiate with those states and their terrorist surrogates – Hezbollah and Hamas - whose idea of “negotiations” is to take whatever you put on the table while planning to kill you later.

The ISG report reminded me of the sort of thing British and French diplomats prepared in the 1930s before going to Berlin to meet with Hitler.

Barone’s column is here. I can’t remember a time when a Barone column wasn’t worth at least one read.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Talking to Regulars and Readers - Dec. 10, 2006

(A post in the “old” web log tradition of “notes for others familiar with what the notes are about.”)

Thanks to all of you who provide information, links and “heads ups.” I appreciate them.

A number of you sent along links to “Wanted” and “Vigilante” posters’ information/comments sites. I followed them all. I learned some things I didn’t know.

BTW – In response to questions I’d asked her months ago and recently concerning the N&O’s Apr. 2 publication of a “Vigilante” poster photo, Melanie Sill emailed Thursday that she stands by everything she’s said at the Editors’ Blog concerning the poster and the N&O’s publication of it.

That sets up a situation where I’ll be reporting that as is typical of “Vigilante” posters, the “Vigilante” poster the N&O published is anonymous. No source is cited on the poster; the N&O has never identified one; and no one has thus far come forward to claim he/she/they produced the poster.

After reporting that, I’m going to have to go on and report that Melanie stands by the following on the thread at this EB post

Comment from: Melanie Sill [Member] •
11/01/06 at 19:35
John - listen carefully. The flyers were left out in public, on people's cars. We picked one up and took a photograph of it. We identified the photograph as such. There is no "anonymous source." Clear? Melanie

I appreciated the help with the links to the post at Duke professor Michael Gustafson’s blog.

Michael has often commented here on aspects of the Hoax. Recently he’s begun commenting on it at his Blog of Convenience. If you haven’t visited his blog I hope you do. And Michael, many of us are very glad you're blogging!

“A parachute for Ashley?” has a very interesting thread. If you haven’t read it, I hope you will.

Some journalists commented offline about the post. Some of the points they made: Ashley and H-S owner Paxton have no sense of how to compete against the N&O. They have very little real understanding of the complex social, racial and political dynamics of Durham or the importance of a strong Web presence. Paxton’s reluctance to “put money” into the H-S was also mentioned as was Paxton's lack of experience running a newspaper the size of the H-S.

And there was this comment from a print journalist familiar with Duke’s PR/PI operations: "[T]he fact that Ashley has newspaper experience is of little consequence in today's information environment. In fact, it could be a detriment: Duke's public and internal information machines are Web-oriented to a fault.”

I’ve paid so much attention to the Duke Hoax that I’ve not had much time for N&O posts other than ones relating to its Hoax coverage (Of course, last Spring much of the N&O’s coverage was really Hoax creation/inflammation). I need to get back to paying more attention to the N&O.

But I also want to keep pressing on Hoax matters such as the silences of so many who should have spoken out when Reade Seligmann was subjected to racists’ verbal abuse on May 18, first outside the Durham County Courthouse, and then within a courtroom before the judge entered it.

Time to wrap up with a final item. It’s part of another comment by Melanie on the same comment thread as above (10/31 at 18:58)

John says we use anonymity "often to produce stories and earn our incomes." N&O readers know we rarely use anonymous sources.
Thanks for being part of this blog. And have a good week.