Saturday, April 07, 2007

88 Ad Questions But No Answers

A year after The Chronicle published as a full-page advertisement Duke faculty’s Group of 88’s inflammatory “listening statement,” disturbing questions about the ad’s funding and sponsorship remain unanswered.

No one at Duke or The Chronicle has explained how 15 academic departments and programs came to be listed on the ad along with the 88 individual faculty members who acknowledge they signed on to it.

Many faculty members in the 15 listed departments and programs say they took no part in their department or program’s ad listing. They weren’t even aware of the ad before it was published.

So how did it happen that Duke faculty in 15 departments and programs didn't know they were being listed on a full-page Chronicle ad that thanked people who harassed and endangered Duke students by, among other odious acts, cheering a “CASTRATE” banner and distributing “Vigilante” posters within sight of Duke President Richard H. Brodhead’s office?

Everyone knows the students pictured on the “Vigilante” poster were targeted.

But who listed the 15 Duke academic departments and programs among those thanking the targeters for "not waiting?"

Brodhead has refused to answer that question, even after he shifted from a “Whatever they did was bad enough” position to an “I’m one of Nifong’s biggest critics” position.

Brodhead’s defenders say he’s not responsible for what they believe is a matter of “faculty governance” in which “Dick can’t get involved.”

They point to Duke’s Provost, Peter Lange: “He’s the highest academic officer. If there’s a mess between departments or about department spending, it’s Peter’s job to fix it, if he can.”

I couldn’t reach Lange before the start of the weekend but I plan to contact him Monday to hear what he has to say. I’ll keep you posted.

My post to Lange will be very simple: Who can claim a Duke academic department or program has signed on to a newspaper advertisement; and on what basis can such a claim be made?

Yes, that will still leave the question of whether Lange believes the ad’s claim regarding the 15 was proper. That’s for another post.

Meanwhile ----

Don’t miss posts by two very well-respected academics, historian KC Johnson and law professor Jim Lindgren. They’re asking very important “who, what and why” questions concerning the ad.

I’ll close with some questions I hope all of us keep asking:

Who paid for the ad?

Did individual faculty members pay for it with their personal funds?

Or were department funds used?

And if department funds were used, which department or departments paid out the money? Who authorized departmental payout(s)?

Or did the money come from one of the many “discretionary funds” which various Duke administrators and senior faculty can access?

If that’s the case, who was the administrator or faculty member accessing a fund and which discretionary fund was accessed?

We can’t rule out the possibility the money came from grant funds. Some grants include in their purpose and terms of use statements what’s often referred to informally as “anything goes” language. Things like: “Funds may also be used to encourage, support and facilitate other activities deemed likely to promote grant purposes as stated in paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), and (e).”

Why haven’t Duke and The Chronicle told us who paid for the ad and where the money came from?

Those are simple and easily answered questions unless ...

Let's not be put off!

The public has a right and need to know who paid for an ad thanking those who waved a “CASTRATE” banner, produced and circulated a “Vigilante” poster and by other means harassed and endangered students at Duke and citizens in Durham.

Duke and The Chronicle have an obligation to tell us.

As President Brodhead said a year ago: “This is no time to be playing games.”

Pelosi and the Logan Act

Some JinC commenters have suggested or outright said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi violated the Logan Act while cozying in Damascus with the brutal dictator Bashar Assad.

Those commenters got strong support yesterday from Robert F. Turner who served in the Reagan administration as an acting assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs. Turner's also a former chairman of the American Bar Association’s standing committee on law and national security.

Turner writes in a WSJ op-ed:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may well have committed a felony in traveling to Damascus this week, against the wishes of the president, to communicate on foreign-policy issues with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The administration isn't going to want to touch this political hot potato, nor should it become a partisan issue. Maybe special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, whose aggressive prosecution of Lewis Libby establishes his independence from White House influence, should be called back.

The Logan Act makes it a felony and provides for a prison sentence of up to three years for any American, "without authority of the United States," to communicate with a foreign government in an effort to influence that government's behavior on any "disputes or controversies with the United States."
Turner goes on to provide detailed background on Congress’ intent in passing the Logan Act. That background, Turner says, “helps [us] understand why Ms. Pelosi may be in serious trouble. …”

Turner concludes:
[What Pelosi did] violates not just statutory law but constitutes a usurpation of the powers of a separate branch and a breach of the oath of office Ms. Pelosi took to support the Constitution.

Ms. Pelosi's trip was not authorized, and Syria is one of the world's leading sponsors of international terrorism. It has almost certainly been involved in numerous attacks that have claimed the lives of American military personnel from Beirut to Baghdad.

The U.S. is in the midst of two wars authorized by Congress. For Ms. Pelosi to flout the Constitution in these circumstances is not only shortsighted; it may well be a felony, as the Logan Act has been part of our criminal law for more than two centuries. Perhaps it is time to enforce the law.
The entire op-ed is here.

I doubt the Logan Act will be enforced, although I think it should be in this case.

A JinC commenter has said former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a Republican from Illinois, has also violated the Logan Act. I don’t know the details of that situation but if Turner or someone with credentials similar to his were to say Hastert violated the Logan Act, I’d favor treating him the same way Pelosi should be treated.

At the least, Pelosi should be subjected to strong public condemnation and ridicule from “the people and the press.” Hastert too, if he did something as odious and partisan as Pelosi did.

Hat tip: Mike Williams

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Churchill Series – Apr. 6, 2007

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

The preceding two series posts concerned Churchill biographer Martin Gilbert’s account of his evacuation as a child in 1940 from England to Canada; and then his return to England in the summer of 1944.

Gilbert doesn’t mention it, but at the time of his return German V-1 and V-2 rockets were falling on London and surrounding areas. Yet the ship on which he sailed from New York, the Mauretania, carried hundreds of children who, like Gilbert, had been evacuated for their safety from England during the first years of W.W. II, in some cases even before German bombing had begun.

Why then, were the children being brought back to an England still under air attack?

The simplest answer is that their parents or others responsible for them now wanted them back in England, and the British government, with Churchill’s strong endorsement, was willing to do all it could to bring them back.

And that answer points us to something at once interesting, complex and very understandable: The British government initially supported a policy of child evacuation from areas most threatened by German bombing, but it soon adopted what we might call a “parental choice/ whatever works model.”

In 1939/40 the government encouraged families in rural areas in the north of England and Scotland to “take in” children. Parents in the most threatened places, such as London, were urged to send their children to those areas or to North America. Gilbert himself was evacuated as part of a government sponsored program.

Many parents in the threatened areas initially rushed to get their children signed up for evacuation transportation and into the safer areas.

But government directed child evacuation policies, with their necessarily attendant and restrictive rules and regulations, soon proved unworkable. The Cockney parents who just a month ago were so relieved to see their children safely off at King’s Cross station for Scotland now wanted the government to bring them home. And they insisted the government pay for the return trip.

Meanwhile, the “lovely, middle-aged, childless couple in Ayrshire” who so eagerly received the children last month were now even more eager to return them to London, especially as two of the kids were bed-wetters and another kept playing with matches in the barn. Whatever were the town councilors thinking of when they supported the evacuation scheme?

Churchill’s government never gave in to the Nazis, but it did to Britain’s parents. It adopted, as I’ve mentioned, a “parental choice/whatever works model.” In some instances evacuation “worked” with children sent to relatives or strangers who became as family to them. But for the most part, the British people in the most dangerous areas chose to face those dangers with their children beside them.

I drew on many books for this post. One that was especially helpful is Philip Ziegler’s London at War: 1939- 1945, published in Great Britain by Mandarin Paperbacks.

I hope you all have a wonderful Easter weekend.


AP "weasels"

Since late March, 2006 most of my media-related blogging has had to do with the Duke Hoax and frame-up coverage, principally that of the Raleigh News & Observer which, with a March 25 story the N&O knew was a fraud, presented to other media and readers Nifong's frame-up story a full two days before Nifong himself first began telling it in public on March 27.

So I'm "out of touch" with a lot of what MSM has been doing this past year.

But what I've read of MSM reporting doesn't suggest it's getting better. In fact, what I read at blogs - Instapundit, Betsy's Page, Powerline, Newsbusters, to name a few - suggests, if anything, MSM reporting is getting worse.

Something else.

The AP has gotten a number of important stories wrong, and then been reluctant to admit it. What's more, when its errors have been so blatant it's had to say something, the AP’s usually weaseled rather than straight out admitted its mistakes.

This JinC post from July, 2005 suggests it's "same old, same old" at the AP.

The AP has issued the following correction:

LONDON - In a July 9 story about Prime Minister Tony Blair's comments on overcoming global terrorism, The Associated Press erroneously reported that he spoke of easing the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Blair did not specifically mention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his interview with the British Broadcasting Corp.

Instead of using a weasel phrase like "Blair did not specifically mention the Isreali-Palestinian conflict," the AP should just say:
"Blair never mentioned the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Associated Press made that part up and sincerely regrets having to acknowledge that."
The AP's correction's here.

Hat Tip:

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Churchill Series – Apr. 5, 2007

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

Yesterday’s post contained historian and Churchill biographer Martin Gilbert’s recollections of how, as a three year old in 1940, he was sent by his parents from England to Canada, where he would be safer. Today, Gilbert tells us about his return to England, four years later when he’s about age seven:

I hated Canada, not the country but the separation from my parents, and while the war was still being fought, I returned to Britain. It was Churchill himself, I later learned, who had noted, in his regular scrutiny of ships in transit and in port, that the ocean liner Mauretania, then a troopship, as sailing from New York in the summer of 1944 with several hundred empty berths. He at once suggested that several hundred children be rounded up and brought back.

As a result of his intervention I found myself all alone, with an identification tag round my neck, on the night train from Toronto to New York, arriving bewildered in the yawning cavern of Grand Central Station, clutching my brand new Canadian passport (“valid duration war”) and standing in a long, slow-moving line by the quay-side on a sweltering New York summer afternoon.

I did not know, as we steamed across the Atlantic towards Liverpool, that Churchill had specifically asked the Admiralty to make sure (amidst his many other cares in the immediate aftermath of the Normandy landings) that there were enough lifeboats on board for all the extra children.

All that I can recall was a game with the American troops on board, throwing the lifejackets in the air and trying to catch them before they sailed over the side and into the sea.
I want to say more about issues relating to the evacuation of children from London and other high-risk areas during the war but time presses. I’ll say more tomorrow.

BTW - Some of you may recall stories you heard or read of soldiers who crossed over to England on troops ships so crowded the men often had to share berths and sleep in rotations. Those stories are true.

In that case, why was the Mauretania going to sail with hundreds of empty berths?

Much of the doubling up on berths occurred during the first years following America’s entry into the war. There were then fewer troopships available, and the great troop buildup in England before D-Day placed urgent and enormous demands on the ships’ carrying capacity.

By the summer of 1944, the troop buildup was slowing and ship-carrying capacity had greatly increased. So Martin Gilbert and the other kids on the Mauretania got to play with the Americans and the lifejackets Churchill had made sure they had.
Martin Gilbert, In Search of Churchill: A Historian’s Journey. (John Wiley & Sons) pg. 2

Pelosi & "Country before party"

Democrats such as former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and Senators Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy say they hate it when President Bush “divides America.”

Never mind that in Britain’s Parliament a vote is called a “division;” or that on the eve of WW II President Roosevelt had the political courage and sound judgment to push a military draft bill through Congress that passed the House by just one vote.

Carter, both Clintons, and Ted Kennedy insist they oppose President Bush because “he divides us.”

So instead they support their own Democratic Party leaders such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, about whom the liberal Washington Post editorial writers said today:

[…] Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered an excellent demonstration … of why members of Congress should not attempt to supplant the secretary of state when traveling abroad.

After a meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Ms. Pelosi announced that she had delivered a message from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that "Israel was ready to engage in peace talks" with Syria.

What's more, she added, Mr. Assad was ready to "resume the peace process" as well.

Having announced this seeming diplomatic breakthrough, Ms. Pelosi suggested that her Kissingerian shuttle diplomacy was just getting started.

"We expressed our interest in using our good offices in promoting peace between Israel and Syria," she said. …
”We expressed…”

Who knew that when America got its first woman House Speaker, she would use the royal “we?”

We certainly didn’t – uh, I mean - I didn’t.

The Post went on to point out some very serious problems with Queen Nancy’s proclamation:
The Israeli prime minister entrusted Ms. Pelosi with no such message. "What was communicated to the U.S. House Speaker does not contain any change in the policies of Israel," said a statement quickly issued by the prime minister's office.

In fact, Mr. Olmert told Ms. Pelosi that "a number of Senate and House members who recently visited Damascus received the impression that despite the declarations of Bashar Assad, there is no change in the position of his country regarding a possible peace process with Israel."

In other words, Ms. Pelosi not only misrepresented Israel's position but was virtually alone in failing to discern that Mr. Assad's words were mere propaganda. …
The Post added:
As any diplomat with knowledge of the region could have told Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Assad is a corrupt thug whose overriding priority at the moment is not peace with Israel but heading off U.N. charges that he orchestrated the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri.

The really striking development here is the attempt by a Democratic congressional leader to substitute her own foreign policy for that of a sitting Republican president. (emphasis added)

Two weeks ago Ms. Pelosi rammed legislation through the House of Representatives that would strip Mr. Bush of his authority as commander in chief to manage troop movements in Iraq.

Now she is attempting to introduce a new Middle East policy that directly conflicts with that of the president. We have found much to criticize in Mr. Bush's military strategy and regional diplomacy. But Ms. Pelosi's attempt to establish a shadow presidency is not only counterproductive, it is foolish. (emphasis added)
Overall, the Post has it right and is speaking for all of us who put country before party.

But I’d have made a few changes in the Post’s editorial.

Instead of the Post's:
“The really striking development here is the attempt by a Democratic congressional leader to substitute her own foreign policy for that of a sitting Republican president,”
I’d have said:
”The really striking development here is the attempt by a Democratic congressional leader to substitute her own foreign policy for that of our country’s president.”
And instead of ending, as the Post did, with:
“But Ms. Pelosi's attempt to establish a shadow presidency is not only counterproductive, it is foolish,”
I’d have ended with:
“Ms. Pelosi’s attempt to establish a shadow presidency reminds us all of why we need to select leaders who put country before party.”
What do you folks think?

And before you answer, I hope you take a look at what Betsy Newmark has to say about it all here and here.

The Chronicle & Goestenkors' Leaving

Duke’s women’s basketball coach Gail Goestenkors’ leaving is a great loss for the University and for Durham. She did more than build a championship program. With intelligence, drive, good -humor and genuine care for others, she’s modeled what Duke is supposed to be about.

Many at Duke and in Durham are going to miss a great coach; even more we’ll miss a great person, neighbor and friend.

The Chronicle editorial board told readers why it thinks Coach G is leaving: the Chronicle says the administration is to blame and provides examples of what it’s talking about.

But the Chronicle overlooked some very important matters which may well have contributed to Coach G’s leaving.

They’re the kind of matters which, while not important to some people, are always very important to quality people like Gail Goestenkors.

I’ll explain by first presenting “main points” from the Chronicle’s editorial. Then I’ll identify matters I think are very important to Coach G which the Chronicle decided not to mention if it thought of them at all. Then, it’s up to you.

From the Chronicle editorial:

Coach G was a jewel in the athletic department. …

The loss of such a successful coach is an embarrassment to Duke, in particular because the athletic department completely mismanaged its efforts to retain Goestenkors.

Top administrators did a poor job of demonstrating to Goestenkors how much they valued her contributions to the University.

Neither President Richard Brodhead nor Director of Athletics Joe Alleva showed up at a March 29 rally outside Coach G's office, even though Brodhead was a conspicuous participant in a similar 2004 rally to persuade men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski to stay at Duke.

The symbolism was clear: women's basketball will never be as important as men's basketball, and the top brass couldn't be bothered to stop by a rally to support one of the best coaches in the game. …

To be sure, the Longhorns have a stronger women's basketball infrastructure than Duke does. Texas has its own women's athletics director-Chris Plonsky, a longtime acquaintance of Goestenkors'-and the women's team practices in a 44,000-sq. ft. facility, which includes a court exclusively for its use. At Duke, the women's team is forced to share court space in Cameron Indoor Stadium with the volleyball and men's basketball teams.

Brodhead and Alleva were correct to point out that non-financial considerations influenced Coach G's decision to migrate to the Lone Star State.

But that is precisely the problem. When her salary options were equal, Goestenkors chose to leave-what was once, at least-one of the most prestigious athletic departments in the country on the heels of the greatest regular season in the history of ACC women's basketball.

The athletics department must learn from its mistakes in the Goestenkors bidding war if it hopes to stay competitive in the contest for great women athletes and coaches.
The Chronicle editors excoriate the administration for other “mistakes” I didn’t “snip.” The entire editorial is here.

The Chronicle never considers whether the University’s conduct concerning the Hoax and the frame-up of three students might have contributed to Goestenkors leaving Duke.

Does the Chronicle think Goastenkors wasn’t very concerned by the University’s failure to speak up on May 18, 2006, or since in response to threats, including death threats, directed at a Duke student in Durham in broad daylight not a mile from campus.

I’m speaking about the threats shouted repeatedly at Reade Seligmann, his family and his attorney, the late Kirk Osborn, both outside and within Durham County Superior Court Judge Ron Stephens’ courtroom.

Neither Duke’s President, Richard H. Brodhead, nor any member of the board of trustees, nor any senior Duke A&S faculty member has spoken out publicly to condemn those making the threats; or to express a willingness to stand with Seligmann and his family in the face of those threats.

Last Spring one group at Duke realized the Hoax had led to the frame-up of innocent students. The group said exactly what needed to be said: “Innocent!”

And how were the coaches and members of the Women’s lacrosse team treated for saying, “Innocent?”

They were trashed.

The Atlanta Journal quoted a “national expert” who said:
“These are stupid, spoiled little girls. It smacks of high school. Maybe one day when they’ll read about one of their friends who was raped. Then they’ll rethink this.”
A Boston Globe columnist wondered whether with all the stress they’d been exposed to, the women were in any shape to make serious judgments.

Professor Karla Holloway reflected a wide swath of Duke’s faculty culture when she said:
I wanted to write to them to ask if they might, instead, consider writing the word "justice" onto their gear, a word whose connotations run deeper than the team-inspired and morally slender protestations of loyalty….”
Recently a Duke alum asked in a “don’t miss” post you can read at Liestoppers:
Did Duke professors choose to support these female students dismissed as “little girls” in the press? Was calling collegiate women “little girls” a social disaster? Apparently not.

Has anyone come forward now that the women’s lacrosse team was obviously correct to acknowledge their heroic courage and apologize for the response they received?
No one senior in the Allen Building or on the A&S faculty spoke out in support of the Women’s lacrosse team when it was trashed last Spring.

There are other instances of Duke actions and inactions since the false witness was first made that have concerned and upset people who love Duke and left them wondering where it’s headed.

I don’t know whether, as the Chronicle suggests, Brodhead and Alleva’s failure to show up at a March 29 rally outside Coach G's office influenced her decision to leave.

But I feel very confident that given a choice, Gail Goestenkors would’ve much preferred Brodhead and Alleva show up at a rally condemning those who threatened Seligmann than at a rally pleading for her to stay at Duke. That’s just the kind of person she is.

And she didn’t need Brodhead and Alleva spending time with her telling her about their commitment to students, especially student-athletes. She knows about that from watching them this past year.

Message to Gail Goestenkors: Thank you for all you did here. All the best at Texas.

Message to the Chronicle editorial board: I want to ask you again why you’ve never explained to readers your refusal to editorialize on any of the following:

1) the threats directed at Seligmann, his parents, and attorney;

2) the University’s silence in response to those threats;

3) the Chronicle’s decision to say nothing supportive or to defend the Women’s Lax team last Spring when so many in media trashed them;

and 4) the University’s silence in response to the trashing of the women students.

Please respond, editorial board members. It's almost graduation time

The Churchill Series – Apr. 4, 2007

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

I often quote Sir Martin Gilbert, one of the twentieth century’s greatest historians and Churchill’s official biographer. So I thought you’d be interested in reading something of Gilbert’s own WWII experiences, including what he says about how he missed a chance to hold one of Churchill’s letters in his hand:

In the summer of 1940 my father, who was then serving with an anti-aircraft gun battery on Hampstead Heath, took advantage of a British Government scheme to send children across the Atlantic to safety.

My parents were not well off, and it seemed to them that I would be better cared for there. That July, a month after the fall of France, when the German Army was on the cliffs between Calais and Boulogne, I sailed in the care of an aunt with several hundred other children, to Canada.

Our boat, the Duchess of Bedford, was in a convoy of fifty ships. In mid-Atlantic, after the destroyer escort had turned back, the convoy was attacked and five ships were sunk by the Germans. The Duchess of Bedford sailed on safely, via the iceberg-dotted sea off Labrador, to Quebec. Those icebergs, marvelous for a child to behold, are among my first memories. Shortly afterwards another boat with child evacuees on board, the City of Benares, was sunk and seventy-seven children drowned. The scheme was then abandoned.

I was only three years old. Many years later I learned that at the time of the sailing of the Duchess of Bedford Churchill had been asked by the organizers of the scheme to give the oldest child a letter to Mackenzie King, the Canadian Prime Minister, thanking him for receiving us. He was so opposed to any children being evacuated to Canada (he saw it as a “scuttle”) that he refused to write the letter, telling the minister concerned: “I will not send any message through the eldest child, or through the youngest child either.”

Thus I missed the chance to hold a Churchill letter in my hands, and to deliver it, though there were, I suppose, several children on board even younger than myself.
Gilbert goes on to say he hated his years in Canada, not because of the country and its people, but because he was separated from his parents. In Summer, 1944, just weeks after the Normandy landings, Gilbert got to return to England. Churchill had something to do with his return. That story and a bit about the evacuation of children from London during the 1940 /41 Blitz make up tomorrow’s post. _____________________________________________________

Martin Gilbert, In Search of Churchill: A Historian’s Journey. (John Wiley & Sons) pg. 1-2

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Stossel on "dangers"

What makes John Stossel one of the most important reporters in America?

For one thing, he reports what most other MSM reporters ignore or underreport.

You learn things from Stossel you don’t hear very often from other reporters.

Would you like to know more about the current risk to Americans from bird flu? How about child safety and guns? Read on:

For the past two weeks I've written about how the media -- part of the Fear Industrial Complex -- profit by scaring us to death about things that rarely happen, like terrorism, child abductions, and shark attacks.

We do it because we get caught up in the excitement of the story.

And for ratings.

Worse, because many reporters are statistically illiterate, personal-injury lawyers get us to hype risks that barely threaten people, like secondhand smoke, or getting cancer from trace amounts of chemicals. Sometimes they even con us into scaring you about risks that don't exist at all, like contracting anti-immune disease from breast implants.

Newsrooms are full of English majors who acknowledge that they are not good at math, but still rush to make confident pronouncements about a global-warming "crisis" and the coming of bird flu.

Bird flu was called the No. 1 threat to the world. But bird flu has killed no one in America, while regular flu -- the boring kind -- kills tens of thousands. New York City internist Marc Siegel says that after the media hype, his patients didn't want to hear that.

"I say, 'You need a flu shot.' You know the regular flu is killing 36,000 per year. They say, 'Don't talk to me about regular flu. What about bird flu?'"

Here's another example. What do you think is more dangerous, a house with a pool or a house with a gun? When, for "20/20," I asked some kids, all said the house with the gun is more dangerous. I'm sure their parents would agree. Yet a child is 100 times more likely to die in a swimming pool than in a gun accident.

Parents don't know that partly because the media hate guns and gun accidents make bigger headlines. Ask yourself which incident would be more likely to be covered on TV.

Media exposure clouds our judgment about real-life odds. Of course, it doesn't help that viewers are as ignorant about probability as reporters are.

To demonstrate that, "20/20" ran an experiment.
You can read the rest of Stossel’s column here.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Churchill Center – Apr. 3, 2007

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

Paraphrasing “From one small nut a mighty oak can grow,” we might call this post “From a few scribbles a great collection can grow.”

Courtesy of the Churchill Centre we read:

Donald Carmichael, of Buffalo, New York, has likewise broad interests. "My first 'collected' Churchill item is an autograph he sent me dated 1.12.27," Don says, "I was writing to Mr. Churchill for his autograph in connection with a school project, which required seeking the signature of a 'famous' person -- reminiscent of the idea expressed by James Boswell speaking to the elder Pitt: 'Honour me now and then with a letter . . . to correspond with a Paoli and with a Chatham is enough to keep a young man ever ardent in the pursuit of virtuous fame.'

At that time in the middle Twenties, when the project was initiated, I wrote first to Calvin Coolidge at the White House - and received a prompt and courteous reply from him. Without drawing any comparisons, it is interesting to note that the great J. Pierpont Morgan Collection was started when, in 1853, young Morgan wrote to President Millard Fillmore, seeking his autograph.

"As a result of this boyhood project and the fun, knowledge, and enthusiasm that flowed therefrom, I developed a substantial autograph collection of world leaders through direct correspondence. (One chain, lasting for five-plus years on such subjects as the "War Guilt," the Versailles Treaty and the League of Nations, was with the ex-Kaiser, Wilhlem II, in exile at Doom!)

"A nice letter from Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt sparked the start of a major concentration. Around FDR, I have a large collection of books and memorabilia, including several letters to me and many inscribed books written by him; just about everything written about him in English; and 125 items under glass - photographs, caricatures and associated items, still, after 55 years, I continue to add to this regularly.

"I began also dealing with veteran autograph dealers: Thomas Madigan, Forrest Sweet and Mary Benjamin, focusing on the Presidents of the United States, all of whose autographs-in-office I have with the exception of William Henry Harrison.

"During the Thirties, I read Churchill in magazines, biographies, Great Contemporaries - the plant was coming to bud. About 1940 I began to buy Churchill first editions from a New York bookseller named In-man.

With my autograph collecting bent, I favored English first editions of his writings, inscribed at a date close to publication, and preferably for someone with whom Churchill was associated in a meaningful way. Later, in London, Sotheran's, Sawyer's and Sotheby's auction rooms helped me greatly.”
There’s more as they say. You can read it here.

Do any of you collect autographs? Or Churchilliana?

This made me smile

I left something out I should have put away. (We bloggers aren't perfect, you know)

My wife, the most wonderful person in the world, called me on it.

"Im sorry. I meant to put it away."

"Sure. And my mother was a Bishop." & “Vigilante” Questions

CORRECTION: In my letter below to Duke University's Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta, I identify him has the highest ranking Duke administrator present at a March 25, 2006 meeting with the lacrosse parents. In fact, Executive Vice President Tallman Trask III was the senior administrator present.

I apologize for my error and thank John Burness, Vice President for Student Affairs and Government Relations, for calling it to my attention.


Readers Note: For background to the letter below, see these posts and other posts to which they link:

"Duke's Silence on 'Vigilante' and 'Wanted' posters"

"Letter to DUPD Director Dean"

"To DUPD Director Dean - 3/28/07"

DUPD and "Vigilante" Questions


Larry Moneta, Ed.D.
Vice President for Students Affairs
Duke University

Dear Dr. Moneta:

I’m a Duke alum who blogs as John in Carolina. I’ve published often on aspects of the Hoax and frame-up, including the “Vigilante” poster.

Those who created and distributed the “Vigilante” poster perniciously targeted students who were members of Duke’s 2006 Men’s lacrosse team, as evidenced by the poster’s prominent display of the 43 face photos of lacrosse players which were pulled from

The “Vigilante” poster also placed at risk the safety of every other Duke student who might be an unintended victim of unstable individuals and hate groups incited by the poster and the praise its “activist” creator(s) and distributors received from many, including some in leadership positions at Duke.

I want to ask you questions relating to the poster. I’ll publish your answers in full at JinC and leave your answers there free of my commentary for at least a day so the alums, parents and students, Duke staffers, journalists, and others reading the blog can read your response free of my commentary.

It’s my understanding you were the senior Duke administrator present at the lax parents’ meeting on Saturday, March 25, 2006; and that a parent request was made that the University remove from the face photos of all the lacrosse players.

Was such a parent request made? If it was, what did the University do in response?

If you or another administrator responded positively to the parent request, when were the photos removed from

As you know, it’s been reported that Duke only began to remove the students’ photos when it realized they were actually being pulled from A USA Today report puts the date as Monday, March 27.

Some months back sports information director Jon Jackson confirmed in a phone interview that, out of concern for the students’ safety, Duke did pull all the lacrosse players’ photos from before the poster creator(s) got the last 4 players photos, but obviously not before the creator(s) had already gotten 43 photos.

Do you know when Duke removed the students’ photos? Or should I direct that question to someone in IT?

If the question should be asked of someone in IT, please direct me to that person.

Have you or anyone in student affairs or elsewhere at Duke sought to identify the individual(s) who pulled the students’ photos that wound up on the “Vigilante” poster?

If yes, what have you learned?

If not, why not?

There are other questions I want to ask concerning student affairs' response to the “Vigilante” poster’s circulation on campus but this letter is getting long.

I’ll hold those questions for another day.

The post title containing this letter is: & “Vigilante” Questions.

I’m cc’ing to other University officers because I plan to contact them concerning aspects of the “Vigilante” poster.

Thank you for your attention to this letter.


John in Carolina

Cc: Robert Steel, chair, board of trustees, DU
Richard Brodhead, president, DU
John Burness, senior vice president for public affairs and government relations, DU
Aaron Graves, associate vice president for campus safety and security, DU
David Jarmul, associate vice president of news and communications
Robert Dean, director, DUPD

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Churchill Series – Apr. 2, 2007

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

Just fun today.

From William Manchester’s The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill; Alone: 1932-1940:

[Churchill] tells of how, crossing Parliament Square, he ran into Lord Londonberry, his cousin and frequent adversary. Londonderry, hoping to drive home a point, had asked him: “Have you read my book lately?”

Winston chortles his reply: “No, I only read for pleasure or profit.”

In the House of Commons he had remarked upon Sir Stafford Cripp’s “look of injured guilt.”

So many cabinet ministers wanted ennoblement that he had protested: “They can’t all have peerages; there ought to be some disappearages.” (pgs. 25-26)
And two others from memory concerning Cripps, an austere teetotaler, vegetarian, and frequent object of fun for Churchill.

During WWII, Churchill’s plane was forced to make an emergency landing at an airfield in the North African desert. The heat was intense and the desert bare without a blade of grass: “God, how Cripps would love this place.”

It was with a nod toward Cripps as he walked by that Churchill told a colleague: “There but for the grace of God goes God.”

Blogger problems and more


I was just thinking of posting something like:

"You know, folks, with the new Blogger support system there are so many fewer problems. Have you noticed JinC hasn't been 'down' for months?"
Then, "Kaboom!"

Down, and spending lots of time getting back up.

Blogger's engineers tell me everything is now fine.

I'll see if this works as a test message.

If it does, it will be the first and last post for today.

If you see this message, please come back tomorrow, April 3, around noon when I should be posting.

Fingers crossed, and with thanks for your understanding,


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Talking to Regulars & Readers – 4/1/07

(A post in the old web log tradition: notes for those familiar with the material. Don’t look for background information or links in this post.)

Those of you commenting on my letter to DUPD Director Dean containing “Vigilante” poster questions “got” what I tried to do: ask concise and on point questions. You also “get” the institutional context in which a reply, if one is forthcoming, will necessarily be framed.

To readers new to efforts within and outside Duke to obtain more information from the University regarding first, its response to the false witness against the students; and then to their public trashing by media led by the Raleigh N&O, by Nifong, and by many at Duke; and finally to the frame-up which the trashing did so much to enable; please keep in mind when you assess what Dean has said so far and may say in response to the DUPD/“Vigilante” questions that:

President Brodhead has never said word one as to why he refused to meet with the lax parents on Mar. 25 and has refused to meet with them since.

Brodhead’s never explained why he said nothing critical of the “activists” who on March 29 circulated “Wanted” and “Vigilante” posters on campus and made threats against the Duke students.

And, of course, The Chronicle has never urged Brodhead to speak out on those matters or his silence regarding the events of May 18.

One of my goals for today, Sunday, Apr. 1, is to work up a draft letter to vice president for student affairs Moneta concerning “Vigilante” matters.

I’ll begin with a reference to the Mar. 25 meeting with lax parents at which he was the senior Duke administrator present; and at which I’m told a request was made by at least one parent for the removal of the players’ face photos from

I plan to ask Moneta questions concerning what Duke did in response to that parent request, and when Duke began removing the face photos from

Some months back I confirmed with Duke SID Jon Jackson what had been reported in the press (USA Today, 3/29, for instance): Duke removed the photos when it realized the poster creator(s) was actually in the act of pulling the photos, but the poster creator(s) had already gotten 43 of the students’ photos which subsequently appeared on the poster. Duke removed the photos USA Today reported and Jackson confirmed out of concern for the players’ safety.

I didn’t know enough at the time to ask Jackson when Duke removed the photos.

I plan to ask Moneta about that as well as what he and student services have done to learn about the production and distribution of the “Vigilante” poster, and act with regard to any and all who engaged in those activities.

Also, I’ll ask about what student services did in response to “activists” “Vigilante” actions on Mar. 29 described by Lorenz (see latest Dean letter) and others I spoke with on campus on Mar. 30.

I hope to have a final letter posted and on its way to Moneta by Monday morning.

Another goal for later today is to post concerning the N&O’s Mar. 25 story.

( “Not again, John” )

Yes, I’ve posted on that false and malicious story before, but I think my latest post will leave many of you saying, “I’ve thought of that before and wondered why JinC and other haven’t said more about it.”

The short of the post: It was “a big product” involving many at the N&O, not just the reporters, Anne Blythe and Samiha Khanna, who’ve taken most of the heat for what was a fraud story (Khanna especially has taken heat.)

Moving on and responding to some Reader comments concerning people connected to at least the distribution of the “Vigilante” poster.

Thank you for that information.

Each piece of information I receive helps me and will often contribute to a post but sometimes not for many months.

Example: Months ago someone sent me a link to a Guardian article that was basically a slam of the lacrosse players. But the Guardian’s writer sat in the same Durham County Superior courtroom on May 18 with Reade Seligmann, his parents and Seligmann’s attorney, the late Kirk Osborn.

From the Guardian article:

“One of the accused, Reade Seligmann, 20, sat in a suit at a court hearing. From the gallery one onlooker shouted: 'Justice will be served, rapist!' Seligmann largely ignored the taunts, but as he left came the call 'Dead man walking!' and he blanched.”
More than one hate-monger shouted threats at Seligmann that day. Besides others of such ilk in the courtroom that day, they were outside the courthouse shouting threats, including “Justice will be done, Rapist.”

I plan to use the Guardian quote in a letter I’ll write this week to Duke’s Chapel Dean, the Rev. Canon Dr. Sam Wells, concerning his silence last May 18 and, so far as I know, since.

As you’d guess, I plan to urge Wells to speak out; and to do so before the end of the academic year.

Some Duke administrators and a good number of faculty initially told me last May there was no University response then because “it was such a bad time.” They meant the academic year was over, etc., etc. There were assurances something would be said after regular classes resumed in August.

You know how that played out.

My point to Wells: Don’t let the academic year end and the seniors leave Duke without hearing you condemn the racists who shouted threats at a Duke student; and don’t let the year end without you expressing words of solidarity and comfort to Seligmann and his family regarding what they endured.

Moving on ---

In the next few days, I’ll post the final Addison Series post, “Sue who?”

But first you all have to promise something: You’ll believe me when I say when I worked up the title for that post, I didn’t know Dean Sue was a CS board member when the “Wanted” poster was created and distributed.

I’ll post another Talking post tomorrow.

Liestoppers has some April Fools’ fun

Liestoppers today has a wonderful April Fools’ post.

I learned about it when I got a call early this morning from Duke’s President, Dick Brodhead.

“John, there’s this really, really confusing post at Liestoppers. The facts keep changing, and it says I’ve resigned.

I don’t recall Bob Steel or Karla Holloway telling me to do that.

Do you think John Burness would’ve issued a resignation press release without first telling me?”

“No, I don’t. Who wrote the post?”

“Joan Foster and Baldo.”

“Oh, they have wonderful senses of humor. I’ll bet it’s just an April Fools’ joke.”

“Well, whatever they did was bad enough. But if you say it was just a joke, then I look forward to them proving their innocence at their trial.”


“Yes, just before I called you, I called Mike Nifong and …..”

Hat tip: James B. Duke

Folks, don’t miss the post. You’ll laugh unless you’re a disciple of the 88.