Saturday, May 12, 2007

Krauthammer & the inventive Tenet

Former CIA director George Tenet should have asked pundit Charles Krauthammer to review his just released and much ridiculed book, At the Center of the Storm, in time for Tenet to consider making needed revisions.

Krauthammer writes [excerpts]

Tenet presents himself as a pathetic victim and scapegoat of an administration that was hellbent on going to war, slam dunk or not.
Tenet … assumes no one remembers anything. For example: "There was never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraqi threat."

Does he think no one remembers President Bush explicitly rejecting the imminence argument in his 2003 State of the Union address in front of just about the largest possible world audience?

Said the president, "Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent" -- and he was not one of them. That in a post-9/11 world, we cannot wait for tyrants and terrorists to gentlemanly declare their intentions.

Indeed, elsewhere in the book Tenet concedes that very point: "It was never a question of a known, imminent threat; it was about an unwillingness to risk surprise."

Tenet also makes what he thinks is the damning and sensational charge that the administration, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, had been focusing on Iraq even before 9/11. In fact, he reports, Cheney asked for a CIA briefing on Iraq for the president even before they had been sworn in.
This is odd? This is news?

For the entire decade following the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Iraq was the single greatest threat in the region and therefore the most important focus of U.S. policy. U.N. resolutions, congressional debates and foreign policy arguments were seized with the Iraq question and its many post-Gulf War complications -- the WMDs, the inspection regimes, the cease-fire violations, the no-fly zones, the progressive weakening of sanctions.

Iraq was such an obsession of the Clinton administration that Clinton ultimately ordered an air and missile attack on its WMD installations that lasted four days. This was less than two years before Bush won the presidency.

Is it odd that the administration following Clinton's should share its extreme concern about Iraq and its weapons? …

Outside of government, the case for war was made not just by the neoconservative Weekly Standard, but -- to select almost randomly -- the traditionally conservative National Review, the liberal New Republic and the center-right Economist. ...

And the most influential tome on behalf of war was written not by any conservative, let alone neoconservative, but by Kenneth Pollack, Clinton's top Near East official on the National Security Council. The title: "The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq."

Everyone has the right to renounce past views. But not to make up that past. It is beyond brazen to think that one can get away with inventing not ancient history but what everyone saw and read with their own eyes just a few years ago. And yet sometimes brazenness works.
Krauthammer has my appreciation for reminding us just how inventive Tenet’s book is. It belongs on the fiction list.

Krauthammer’s column is here.

Hat tip to Mike Williams.

Steel & Brodhead's shrinking credibity

Regarding Duke University's refusal to face problems revealed by it's bungled and in some instances shameful responses to the witch hunt and frame-up, citizen journalist Locomotive Breath, a Duke alum, recently observed at Liestoppers Forum:

One strategy Duke is using is to pretend to each mad alum that that person is a malcontent and all alone in his/her [upset at Brodhead’s caving to the “88” and throwing the players under the bus.]
He’s got that right.

Another strategy Duke's been using involves keeping people ignorant of what’s been going on.

Would you believe the Alumni Magazine has yet to say one word about Professor James Coleman’s June 2006 letter calling for Nifong to recuse himself from the case; something Brodhead at the time insisted he couldn’t do, but then did eagerly and loudly in December, only a few weeks before events forced Nifong himself to finally request recusal.

What about the disgusting media attacks last spring on the Women’s lacrosse team whose “offense” was to assert the innocence of Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann? What about the death threats shouted at Reade Seligmann last May 18 in a Durham courtroom?

Nothing’s been mentioned about those events in the Alumni Magazine or in the “sunshine” emails and letters President Brodhead and Board of Trustees Chair Robert Steel keep sending “the Duke community.”

Perhaps that’s because the trustees and Brodhead said or did nothing about them.

People of goodwill who don’t know what’s been going on are inclined to believe Steel and Brodhead’s emails and letters assuring them all is well at dear old Duke.

Oh, there may have been a tiny flub or two last spring, but that was to be expected. After all, as Brodhead told the late Ed Bradley on CBS’s 60 Minutes “the facts kept changing.”

Yes, David Evans recently insisted “facts don’t change.” But are you going to believe a young, recent grad when President Brodhead himself tells you otherwise?

Now that’s enough about "changing facts." Steel and Brodhead want us to understand we’re “all united for Duke” and “looking to the future.”

But despite Steel and Brodhead's strenuous efforts, it's obvious to intelligent people that their “sunshine and unity at Duke” pitch is very misleading.

This March the Raleligh N&O reported [excerpts]:
… "The one thing that I wish we would have done is just out, publicly say, 'Look, those are our kids. And we're gonna support 'em, because they're still our kids.' That's what I wish we would have done," [Coach Mike] Krzyzewski told Bob Costas, a sports commentator who has a television show on HBO. "And I'm not sure that we did -- I don't think we did a good job of that." …

Krzyzewski, who also bears the title of special assistant to the Duke president, told Costas he did not speak out last spring because Brodhead did not ask him to do so.

"I met with my college president. I told Dick Brodhead, 'If you need me ... you tell me, and then put me in a position where I'm not the basketball coach. But I am that special assistant to you,' " Krzyzewski said.

"Dick Brodhead did not bring me in."
Recently 1,000 Duke students signed a statement that appeared as an ad in The Chronicle.

The students condemned Duke faculty’s Group of 88’s “social disaster” statement which appeared as a full-page ad last April in The Chronicle. To date, no one has admitted placing the ad, and Steel and Brodhead haven't asked where the funds for the ad came from.

The students' statement said in part:
In a time of intense emotions and enormous stakes, when our community dearly needed a call for calm, for patience, for rational and careful thinking, these professors instead took a course of action which escalated tensions, spurred divisions along lines of race and class and brought our community into greater turmoil.

Their actions also further undermined the legal process and most likely emboldened a rogue district attorney.
The students demanded an apology from the Group of 88. They ended their statement with an appeal to Brodhead:
Brodhead, widely regarded as sympathetic to the Group of 88, has not responded to the students, just as he did not respond last March and April when “activists,” including some Duke staffers and students, distributed on campus within sight of his office windows “Vigilante” posters boldly targeting the white members of the lacrosse team and adding to the danger those students were already facing.

This past Thursday, former Duke Athletic Director Tom Butters was quoted in Newsday:
"I know I am probably stepping on toes when I say this, but it was absurd," Butters says. "I wanted someone to step up for Mike [Pressler, the former lacrosse coach forced to resign last April] and those kids."
Today we read in the Durham Herald Sun:
Duke University has to reassess how it treats students accused of crimes and make sure it doesn't contribute to unequal treatment of them by Durham authorities, the school's departing student government president told trustees Friday.

The lacrosse case showed "that we cannot have blind faith in the Durham police and the Durham district attorney to administer justice," said Elliott Wolf, who added that Duke also "must now shake the perception, whether legitimate or not, that it simply washes its hands of its students when they are in legal trouble."

Wolf's comments came during a morning meeting of the school's board of trustees, the last of the 2006-07 school year.

The junior singled out for criticism, in addition to the Durham Police Department's handling of the lacrosse case, its "zero-tolerance" crackdown two years ago on the Trinity Park party house scene.

He said comments police Capt. Ed Sarvis made to The Herald-Sun last year show that it was "stated DPD policy to punish Duke students more severely than other members of the community," and that authorities have frequently issued citations knowing they were "based on evidence that would not stand up in court." …
The entire H-S article’s here.

It ends with a statement from Brodhead saying Duke will be looking to “see what lessons we have to learn.” Does that surprise anyone?

A big hat tip goes to Student Government President Elliott Wolf for saying to the trustees what University President Dick Brodhead should have said to them many months ago.

I don’t know how Brodhead and Steel will spin Wolf’s presentation but I know this: based on the communications I’ve been getting recently and what I’ve been hearing the last few days from members of “the Duke community” in Durham for commencement, the number of people who believe Steel and Brodhead's emails and letters is shrinking fast.

INNOCENT: Baker’s “Money Graf”

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

Some bloggers use the term “money graf” to ID what they think is a document’s most important paragraph.

After reading Durham City Manager Patrick Baker’s May 11, 2007 memo to Mayor Bill Bell and the Durham City Council, what I’d wanted to pick as my “money graf” isn’t in Baker’s memo.

My “money graf” would have begun with an admission DPD had a great deal of exculpatory evidence early on in the case, including the results of the first round of DNA testing which came back negative and the second dancer’s March 20, 2006 signed statement that Crystal Mangum’s story was “a crock.”

That would have been followed by this sentence:

“After taking careful measurements of what is a very small bathroom, DPD investigators concluded Crystal Mangum and the three young men could not all have fit in the bathroom at the same time and had room to even brush their teeth, much less engage in activities the Raleigh News & Observer said constituted a night of ‘sexual violence.’”
The next sentence would have explained why DPD spokesperson Cpl. David Addison repeatedly told the public and media about “this horrific crime” when, as Attorney General Cooper and the Special Prosecutors found, there never was any real evidence of a crime. At the end of that sentence there would have been a number citing a footnote which discussed slander and libel case law as it pertains to individual officers and police departments in North Carolina.

Baker would have followed that sentence with one explaining why Addison sent DPD substations, media and others the text of the Durham CS “Wanted” poster.

That would have been followed by sentences explaining why a cab driver was arrested on a three year old shoplifting warrant, why he had to post bail, and why DPD never explained why two DPD officers went over to the courthouse and sat through his trial.

Then Baker would have begun explaining what evidence of a crime two DPD investigators discovered on their trips to the DNA lab in Burlington, and during their attendance at meetings involving DA Mike Nifong and lab director Brian Meehan.

And then, etc, etc, ….

You can see it would have been a very, very lengthy “graf.” Maybe that’s why Baker didn’t include it.

Anyway, I looked through Baker’s memo to pick out what is my second choice "money graf.”

It’s the second paragraph in Baker’s memo:
At the outset, let me acknowledge the City’s concurrence with Attorney General Roy Cooper’s decision to dismiss all of the charges against Evans, Seligmann and Finnerty as well as his declaration that these young men are innocent of the charges for which they were indicted. While the criminal proceedings against them have ended, a true and measured analysis and critique of their tortured path to justice is just beginning.
I picked that ‘graf” for three reasons:

1) In the first sentence Baker does something extremely important: he doesn’t just say, on behalf of the City of Durham, that the charges should have been dropped. He goes out of his way to explicitly state Durham’s concurrence with Attorney General Cooper’s “declaration that these young men are innocent of the charges for which they were indicted.”

Durham City’s concurrence in the innocence of David Evans, Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty may now be some comfort to them and their families. It will certainly be useful in the future when the three young men and their supporters are compelled to refute the slanders that will inevitably come their way.

It will also be very useful in another way: “Innocent” sets a kind of “floor” for the law suits that are to come.

Durham City can’t argue “who really knew or knows.” Durham has effectively agreed with the Attorney General that they were innocent from the start and there was no cause to indict.

Evans, Seligmann and Finnerty have a very strong case against Durham City/DPD unless Baker can convince the courts “it was all Nifong’s fault.” But that’s down the road a ways.

2) The second and last sentence in the paragraph is a piece of wisdom with which we should all agree :
While the criminal proceedings against them have ended, a true and measured analysis and critique of their tortured path to justice is just beginning.
Does anyone doubt that “a true and measured analysis and critique of their tortured path to justice is just beginning?”

We’re still waiting for the state and federal investigations that should reveal most of what Baker tried so hard today to cover up. We haven’t yet had the civil suits, either.

In that one sentence about the “tortured path to justice,” Baker gave us wisdom in an otherwise shameless document that blamed victims and their helpers while excusing the victimizers.

Baker’s wisdom was unintentional, but it’s wisdom none the less.

3) All the other "grafs" were abominations.

I picked my “money graf” from a City Manager’s memo that isn’t worth a plugged nickel. Even Mayor Bell and the City Council may have trouble buying it.

Thank you Liestoppers for “flipping” Baker’s memo from pdf form. It’s too bad you couldn’t “flip” it into truth form.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Churchill Series – May 11, 2007

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

Today’s post, although very short, involves more than a million dollars.

Actually, it involves $1.2 million dollars. That's the price paid recently for a Churchill painting he’d given to a famous American he admired greatly.

You can read about it here.

I hope you all have a nice weekend.

INNOCENT: Pressler Reveals More

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

We’re learning more from Coach Mike Pressler and others about what happened last March and April at Duke.

In a Newsday story about Don Yeager’s “It’s Not About Truth,” reporter Graham Rayman recounts [excerpts]:

"The thing that might be most disheartening to me is that ... the only people that have stood up and apologized ... were the players," Pressler says in the book. "The adults in this picture -- the faculty, the administration -- they haven't apologized for anything." …

Duke president Richard Brodhead and athletic director Joe Alleva both were criticized. The book also reveals that Pressler and the team kept a secret list of people they felt had wronged them, dubbed, "The Grail."

Tom Butters, a former longtime Duke athletic director, also takes university officials to task in the book. "I know I am probably stepping on toes when I say this, but it was absurd," Butters says. "I wanted someone to step up for Mike and those kids."

Duke spokesman David Jarmul declined to comment on the book because it has yet to be issued. "From his first statement in March 2006, at a time when many seemed to accept the truth of the district attorney's charges, President Brodhead repeatedly emphasized the need for the students to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise within the legal system," Jarmul said.

At the outset, back in March 2006, the book says, Pressler and other Duke officials were so convinced that the allegations would go away that they gave bad advice to the players.

For example, co-captain Dan Flannery says that the assistant dean of students, Sue Wasiolek, told him, "Right now, you don't need an attorney. Just don't tell anyone, including your teammates or parents, and cooperate with police if they contact you."

The following day, eight police officers showed up at the North Buchanan house, frisked the players, searched the house, and took them to the station for interviews and DNA tests.

Flannery now blames Wasiolek's advice for what followed. "We believed, albeit falsely, that these people would look after our best interests," he says in the book. When Durham police called Pressler on March 20 and asked for an informal meeting with players, the coach agreed.

Pressler admits in the book that he told the team not to tell anyone about the meeting. "I was told to keep it quiet," Pressler said. "Everybody. . . thought it was going to go away. There was no reason to bring more attention to it. So I interpreted that being, 'Hey, guys, it's going to go away, let's keep it in-house here. Don't tell your parents yet, don't tell your girlfriends. Keep it in house.'"

But some parents already knew and demanded a postponement.

At times, the book says, Duke officials expressed support for the players in private, but not in public. On March 24, Pressler met with Athletic Director Joe Alleva, along with other Duke officials and the team captains. Alleva told them only that they would be punished for throwing the party.

The next day, Duke president Richard Brodhead decided the team would forfeit two games.

In an emotional five-hour meeting with the team's parents that followed, Duke officials said they believed the players' accounts. But on March 26, Brodhead ordered the suspension of all future games. …
A few thoughts --

The Newsday story confirms earlier reports Sue Wasiolek, dean of students, told students not to contact their parents.

Former AD Tom Butters speaking out publicly is a new and important development. Team Brodhead has tried to perpetuate the “we’re all on the same page” myth when in fact there have been many sharp differences within Duke’s leadership.

Friends who usually get things right say Brodhead is coming under increasing fire for what most Duke insiders realize was the bungling of the crisis last March and April and a none too effective PR campaign since to convince people “Problems? Not here.”

I’ll post more on Pressler’s book later today. Also, more about divisions within Duke’s leadership.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Churchill Series - May 10, 2007

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

On May 10, 1940 Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, was awoken at 5:30 AM, and given reports that German troops were moving into Belguim and Holland. The “phony war” was over; Hitler’s invasion of the West had begun.

Later that day the BBC reported:

The first news of the German invasion reached London at dawn. Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax received the Belgian Ambassador and Dutch Prime Minister at 0630 when they formally asked for Allied help. …

In a proclamation issued to the German armies in the West, Hitler said: "The hour has come for the decisive battle for the future of the German nation."

Reports from Holland said German troops crossed the border during the night. The Dutch destroyed bridges over the Maas and Ijssel to prevent the German advance.

There were reports of fierce fighting at Rotterdam where German troops were landed by flying-boat. Other planes landed at Waalhaven aerodrome and troops quickly seized control.

This evening German forces are occupying the Maas and Bourse railway stations in Rotterdam. There are conflicting reports about whether they are still in possession of Waalhaven airport. …

British and French troops have moved across the Belgian frontier in response to appeals for reinforcements.

Reports from Belgium say British troops have been enthusiastically received. Their guns have been festooned with flowers and the soldiers plied with refreshments….
That evening the King asked Churchill to become his Prime Minister.

Looking back at that day and what followed, author and Newsweek editor Jon Meacham recently observed:
Churchill recalled … he felt as though he "were walking with Destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial." He added: "I was sure I should not fail."

His confident view of his own capacities was not widely shared in London or in Washington. Churchill was George VI's second choice (Lord Halifax, foreign secretary, high-church aristocrat and reliable Chamberlainite, had been the first)….

Yet it soon became clear, even in real time, that the 10th of May was a hinge of history.

It is neither sentimental nor simplistic to say that Churchill's ascension and refusal to surrender as he awaited America's entry into the war is one of the great achievements of this or any age.

Things were one way before Churchill became prime minister, and another way afterward.

INNOCENT: “Distribute to Trustees”

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

Historian, professor and blogger KC Johnson’s post, “Twelve (and One) Questions for the Trustees,” will be cheered by all who wish Duke University well.

But it’s not a perfect agreement world.

There are some, including members of Duke’s board of trustees, who stoutly supported University President Richard H. Brodhead when he told the Durham community that whatever Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann “did was bad enough.”

Most of those same people have never expressed any interest in finding out why Duke’s never condemned those who targeted with “Vigilante” posters the white students on its Men’s lacrosse team.

What’s more, not a single trustee expressed any support last spring for the students on the Women’s lacrosse team when they were trashed by many in media for doing nothing more than saying, “Innocent.”

The trustees are meeting at Duke this weekend.

Duke News says they can be contacted via emails to the university secretary, Allison Haltom.

Her email:

Place in the subject line: “Distribute to Trustees”

With that done, I’m told Haltom will distribute your email to the trustees.

As always, some emails can be helpful while others do nothing but let the sender vent and demonstrate immaturity.

I’ve just picked three question from those KC Johnson asked. I’m sending them on with a request that if the trustees can’t answer all Johnson’s questions this weekend (a very tall order), they at least answer the three I picked as, IMHO, important and able to be answered promptly.

If you disagree with my picks, why not send along your own picks?

I’m also sending the news editors at the Raleigh N&O, the Durham H-S, WRAL and The Chronicle links to KC’s post and this post along with a request that they report on whether, at their meeting, the trustees considered KC’s questions and, if they did, what were the outcomes.

I’ll also ask the editors to contact KC as part of their story.

I hope you do similar things.


Subject: Distribute to Trustees

Dear Secretary Holtom:

I’m told by Duke News you’ll distribute the following email to all board of trustee members.

Thank you in advance.

John in Carolina

Dear Duke Board of Trustee Member:

I hold two degrees from the University and blog at

Historian, professor and blogger Robert KC Johnson has posted a set of questions for your consideration and response. If you have not read the post yet, I hope you will. Johnson’s questions express the concerns of many thousands of Duke students, parents, faculty and alums.

I realize it may very well be impossible to consider all the questions Johnson asks, but I hope at the least you’ll consider at your meeting this weekend the following three questions which are very important and can be promptly answered.

1.) On April 6, 2006, an advertisement appeared in the Duke Chronicle claiming the endorsement of a variety of departments and programs, including the following five academic departments:

• Romance Studies;
• Psychology: Social and Health Services;
• Classical Studies;
• Art, Art History, & Visual Studies;
• Asian & African Languages & Literature.

A hallmark of academic self-governance is the principle of democratic, majority rule. Yet no record exists that any of these officially constituted academic departments ever conducted a vote—either in person or via e-mail—on whether to sign onto the statement. (Less than 50 percent of the professors in each department endorsed the ad individually.) Indeed, in the case of at least one department (Classical Studies), I have been told explicitly that no vote of any type occurred.

Will the Board publicly explain the procedures under which these five academic departments—official administrative units of Duke University—endorsed the advertisement?

2.) In an April 11, 2007 e-mail, Bob Steel wrote, “Each step of the way, the board agreed with the principles that [President Brodhead] established and the actions he took.”

On April 20, 2006, President Brodhead informed the Durham Chamber of Commerce, in his first public appearance after the arrests of Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, “If our students did what is alleged, it is appalling to the worst degree. If they didn’t do it, whatever they did is bad enough.”

Did the Board agree with President Brodhead’s remarks at the time? If so, does it continue to endorse this statement? If not, will the board issue an apology to Seligmann and Finnerty?

3.) Why did no one from the Duke administration publicly condemn the death threats against Reade Seligmann delivered at the Durham County Courthouse on May 18, 2006?

Thank you for your attention to this email.

I look forward to your responses which I’ll publish in full at my blog.


John in Carolina

INNOCENT: Letter to Prof. Chafe

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

Readers Note: To understand the letter below, you should be familiar with the following posts:

"An Invitation to Duke's Prof. Chafe"

INNOCENT: "Prof. Chafe Responds"

"Comments Responding to Prof. Chafe"

Dear Professor Chafe:

I want to express my regard for your willingness to respond to my invitation. You surely knew you would not be entering an easy situation.

I appreciate your clarification and apology concerning your blogger remarks.

I’ll make this letter as brief as possible, partly out of consideration for you, but also because with the exception of the two comments noted in "Comments Responding to Prof. Chafe," all other comments on that thread and on the "INNOCENT: Prof. Chafe Responds" thread are civil, thoughtful and, in some instances, quite expert. So I don’t need to say much.

You can choose from among those comments the questions and issues to which you most want to respond.

You mentioned your concern that some see the Group of 88 as a unity when, in fact, its members are a very diverse group.

I agree, but with only a few exceptions, those of you who signed the Apr. 6 “social disaster” statement still stand by it. That gives you all a certain unity.

I try to bear in mind that terms like “Group of 88” and “Duke faculty,” while useful, are not comprehensive descriptors of the individuals they identify. If you see instances where you believe I’ve over generalized regarding Group of 88 signatories, please call them to my attention. I’ll give them a careful “second look.”

The most serious assertion I’ve made concerning the “social disaster” statement is that “it made a dangerous situation even more dangerous.”

I was thinking primarily of the danger to the lacrosse players, but also to anyone else, including all other Duke students, who could have been unintended victims of unstable individuals and hate-groups targeting the players and stirred by the statement and its message of thanks “for not waiting.”

I believe most people aware of the facts and circumstances I cited in my invitation to you would agree the “social disaster” statement “made a dangerous situation even more dangerous.”

If you think I’m wrong, I’ll give every consideration to what you say.

I want to be very clear I don’t believe any statement signatory consciously meant to do something that made the situation last April more dangerous for students and others. But there are unintended consequences.

Many students, parents, alums and, as you know, some of your colleagues find it hard to understand why, thirteen months after the fact, a person of your caliber who many of us recall as one of the University’s most respected leaders, has yet to recognize that the Apr. 6 statement was, at the least, a communications disaster that’s done much harm to innocent individuals and Duke University.

In closing, I want to again express my regard for your willingness to enter into this discussion.



The Churchill Series – May 9, 2007

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

On May 7, 1940, the House of Commons began a three day debate on the Government’s response to the German invasion of Norway. The debate inevitably raised questions about Prime Minister Chamberlain’s pre-war policy of appeasement and the Government's fitness to lead the nation.

The following excerpt from Martin Gilbert’s Churchill: A Life gives a good sense of what was happening on May 8, the second day of the debate. All four of the men mentioned in the excerpt at one time or another served as Prime Minister :

The second day of the Norway debate was as stormy as the first. There was fear that a feeble Government was inviting military disaster, even defeat.

When the Labour Opposition called for the debate to end with a Vote of Censure on the Government, Chamberlain retorted that he had “friends in the House." His remark was greeted with cries of derision.

“It is not a question of who are the Prime Minister’s friends,” retorted Lloyd George. “It is a far bigger issue,” and he went on to demand Chamberlain’s resignation.

Lloyd George also told the House that Churchill should not be blamed for all that had gone wrong in Norway.

Churchill at once rose from his seat to declare, “I take complete responsibility for everything that has been done at the Admiralty, and I take my full share of the burden.”

Lloyd George then electrified the crowded Chamber by warning Churchill that he “must not allow himself to be converted into an air-raid shelter to keep the splinters from hitting his colleagues.”

[As First Lord of the Admiralty] Churchill was soon to speak [for the Government]. Before doing so he talked briefly to Harold Macmillan. “I wished him luck,” Macmillian later recalled, “but added that I hoped his speech would not be too convincing.”

“Why not?” Churchill asked.

"Because we must have a new Prime Minister, and it must be you.” (pgs. 638-639)
In the event, Churchill delivered what many saw as the most effective of all the speeches defending the Government’s war management. But it didn’t turn the tide running in the House.

Two days later, Chamberlain submitted his resignation to the King; shortly afterwards, Churchill received a call to come to the Palace.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

AOL's Bushisms Poll: My Choices

Those “No kidding, we’re non-partisan professional journalists” at AOL News picked up on President Bush’s gaffe yesterday; the kind we all make from time to time.

But the journalists cum Democrats at AOL decided the gaffe called for a reader response poll on their main news page.

I decided to take the poll, but I couldn’t find any response “choices” those Dem AOLers provided that represented my opinions.

Like many Dem news organizations, AOL News favors certain restrictions on a citizen’s right to choose.

So I decided to share my responses directly with you.

AOL News’ poll items and “choices” are in italics; my responses are in bold.

What's your general reaction to his verbal miscues?

I laugh

I wince


I think how wonderful it is that we no longer have a President who has a young intern deliver pizza to the Oval Office and then perform oral sex on him. Talk about a Domino effect!

How would you describe Bush's gaffe while welcoming the queen?

Very embarrassing

Somewhat embarrassing

Not that bad

Nothing near as terrible as the tragedy at Chappaquiddick.

Which of these Bush quotes is your favorite?

"Hold this nation hostile"


"Fool me once"

"Illiteracy level ... are appalling"

"New ways to harm our country"

"OB/GYNs aren't able to practice"

"United States and America"

My favorite is not on the list. It’s the one where Bush asks: “Did Al Sharpton really say about Mitt Romney, ‘As for the one Mormon running for office, those who really believe in God will defeat him anyways, so don't worry about that; that's a temporary situation?’”

How many of these Bushisms do you remember?

All of them

Some of them

None of them

I don’t know. Whenever a Democratic Party news organization mentions a Bushism, I’m reminded of Democratic Senator Dick Durbin’s loathsome and erroneous description of America’s treatment of the prisoners at Guantanamo:

“Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime – Pol Pot or others – that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.”
Durbin’s now a key supporter of Sen. Barack Obama. Has Obama, who wants to be President and Commander-in-Chief, ever repudiated his pal Durbin’s loathsome and erroneous remarks?

And will AOL ever do a poll on Americans' favorite Bill Clinton quote?

I think most Americans would be hard put to decide between “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is” and “But I never had ….”

Maybe both parties can agree to ask Democratic and Republican Iowa caucus voters to choose their favorite Clinton quote.

The results might help the rest of us make our choices.

Comments Responding To Prof. Chafe

As of 11:30 AM EST today there are 17 comments on the thread of “INNOCENT: Prof Chafe Responds.” I haven’t deleted any comments although I came close to deleting one and would have deleted another which I’m leaving up only as an example of what doesn’t belong at this blog. I’ll add a comment to that effect on the thread which will include a mention that my judgment in the matter isn’t up for debate.

In this post, after some words about those two comments, I’ll write a few comments about all the rest of your comments. I’ll also share with you what I’m thinking to say to Professor Chafe and why.

The “almost deleted” comment was: “Chafe should choke on his apology.” It reflects only ill-will and is a “conversation stopper.” I left it up because the commenter had preceded the “choke” remark with some fact-based argument.

I’ve left such comments up when they’ve targeted me, so I thought: “Why not leave it up when it concerns Chafe?” Because, upon reflection, I remembered my parents and “We treat our guests better than we treat ourselves.” So the next time: delete.

“CCI [Campus Culture Initiative] are the equivalent to the most vile of race baiters” needs only this: it’s an example of the kind of nasty ad hominem of which Chafe and so many of you rightly complain.

Now about the rest of the thread commentary ---

Thank you. You’ve put together of group of civil comments touching important issues and asking questions that deserve answers.

One “strength” of the comments is that they have a good deal of both recognition of the direct and substantive aspects of Chafe’s response and notation of areas where he did not speak to some questions I asked.

I appreciate that so many of you expressed your regard or admiration to Chafe for his apology, even as you saw it as too limited or as part of a complex of statements he made, with most of which you took issue.

Finally, you’ve put together an excellent example of what many bloggers are talking about when we say to folks in the Group of 88 and others at Duke: “Most people commenting on the statement do so civilly and to serious purpose. Please answer their questions and address the issues.”

I need to give more thought to what I’ll say to Chafe. Matters I’m thinking of raising with him which may or may not make “the final cut” include:

1) His concern that people not see the Group of 88 as a unity.

2) His concern for greater civility among Duke faculty. Those of you who are Duke faculty members, especially in A&S, know Chafe’s concern is high on the “concern lists’ of many faculty.

3) His concerns re: student excessive drinking and criminal sexual acts.

4) My concern re: faculty silence in the face of “Castrate” banner and rally, “Vigilante” posters, threats to Seligmann, and trashing by many in media of Women Laxers for simply saying, “Innocent.”

5) His thoughts re: how to build a “conversation” that looks honestly and fully at our differences as well as all the problems at Duke that have come to the fore since last spring.

One part of my response I’m sure will involve encouraging Chafe to select and speak to some of your comments. I plan to do that early in my response.

Another "sure" part will involve introducing the matter of the University's silence in response to the events of last May 18 and seeking Chafe's help in bringing Duke to the point where it reaches out to Durham and together they do what they should have done last year for Seligmann, his family and for Duke and Durham.

Looking back at this post, I can see I’ll need to carefully limit what I ask Chafe to respond to.

I plan to send Chafe a link to this post.

I’ll send him my response tomorrow.

In the meantime, your comments are welcome.

BTW – Writing this post reminded me of President Kennedy and an instance of word choice involving his Inaugural Address. If I can dig out the reference, I’ll post on it in the next few days.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Churchill Series – May 8, 2007

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

An Anon left a wonderful anecdote involving the late actor Richard Burton and our man on the comment thread of the May 7 post. I hope you take a look.

Thank you, Anon.

No long, detailed post today; just a brief, punish one.

Churchill loved puns, some of which he made himself. When Pierre Mendes-France became French Prime Minister, Churchill said the question was: could Pierre mend his France.

Anthony Montague Browne, who in 1952 became Churchill’s Private Secretary loved puns, too. Here’s one he told at a Churchill Centre dinner:

But since you insist on a pun, I will give you a pun. It is about not making puns.

The jester of a medieval sovereign insisted on making puns and the sovereign finally said, ‘I’ve had quite enough of your terrible puns! One more and I will hang you." The jester did make one, and the sovereign duly sent him to the gallows. But at the last moment he repented, and thought he’d been a bit hard as he quite liked the jester.

So he sent a galloper to reach him at the foot of the gallows, who told him, "If you promise never to make another pun, you will be spared." And the jester sighed and said, "No noose is good news."
And so we come to the end of this brief and punish post.

KC's Levicy Posts: Some Reactions (Post 2)

This post is a continuation of “KC’s Levicy Post: Some Reactions (Post 1).” If you haven’t already done so, I urge you to read that post, which includes links to KC’s posts. All of the posts deal with important matters about which sensible people are very careful.

Before getting into Post 2, I want to respond here to part of a comment made on the thread of Post 1.

Anon @ 10:26 pm said in part:

No one goes back and charts on someone who has been discharged. This case was done in the ED when Crystal left on her own two legs at 1:30PM. Glad you have someone from DUMC on the case.
I think Anon@ 10:26 pm is referring to a comment I made in Post 1 about updating charts.

Folks, if a medication was administered to a patient at Noon; the patient was discharged at 1 PM with no recording on the patient’s chart of the noontime med administration; and the failure to record the administration is discovered at 2 PM; what hospital then doesn’t update the patient’s chart to show the med was administered at Noon?

We should all stay out of that hospital.

Now to Post 2 ---

I ended Post 1 with:
Of course, there’s a very good chance (almost a certainty) an HCP asked about a patient’s care even a few days afterwards by police or attorneys will already have had contact with an attorney representing his/her employing institution.
Many of you who are Health Care Providers know it often seems major hospitals such as DUMC have more attorneys on call than physicians and other med staff.

You also know how quickly, often for reasons not entirely clear to you, a hospital staff attorney or one retained by the hospital/service provider is asking questions and reviewing the chart for a particular patient.

No sane HCP wants an attorney looking over her/his shoulder during service delivery.

But when an investigator or attorney is looking at what a HCP did and asking questions, the sane HCP welcomes an attorney at her/his side.

The most competent HCPs I’ve known who became involved in investigative or adversarial proceedings have wanted an attorney “there” working with the HCP, but not because the HCP wanted to CYA.

In my experience, competent HCPs have wanted an attorney “there” in order to be sure they could accurately provide data and not be intimidated or become confused when recounting service delivery, etc.

Many health care centers such as DUMC stress to their HCPs what I’ve heard called “the attorney to attorney” rule.

Yes, you guessed it: a patient shows up with an attorney or an attorney for the patient writes a HCP a letter asking important and legitimate questions: in both instances, it’s time to invoke “the attorney to attorney” rule.

At least it is if you’re a sane HCP.

(Post 3 tomorrow)

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Churchill Series – May 7, 2007

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

In just three paragraphs Churchill scholar Douglas S. Russell provides a lot of information and an excellent outline of Churchill’s experiences as a cadet at Sandhurst:

Churchill entered Sandhurst on September 1st, 1893 at the age of eighteen years, ten months. He stood 5’ 6" tall. The Royal Military is located at Camberley, southwest of London. Founded in 1741, it served the purpose of training officers for the infantry and cavalry. Sometimes referred to as Britain’s West Point, it was not in fact a four-year college, and granted no degree. Churchill took the standard course: three terms of instruction and training over an eighteen-month period. The old school is still there today, looking just as it did in the 1890s.

The subjects were few and practical: tactics, fortification, topography (map making), military law and military administration. He also trained in drill, marksmanship, riding, gymnastics, and fencing. Sandhurst uniforms were those of the regular army, including the red dress coat and the dress blue spike helmet.

Churchill did well at Sandhurst, graduating twentieth out of a class of 130 in December 1894. As he later wrote, "It shows that I could learn quickly the things that matter." For the first time in his life his personal interests and his work were the same and he excelled. A distinguished career had begun.
As far as I know Russell has everything right except the number of months Churchill was at Sandhurst. Beginning with Sept. 1, 1893 and counting Dec. 1894 as a month, Churchill was there for a total of only 16 months, not 18.

But I go easy on Russell. I once posted that Churchill had graduated Sandhurst in 1994. One of you, Anon if I recall rightly, was good enough to point out my error, which, if uncorrected, would have meant I'd claimed Churchill had been at Sandhurst for 1,216 months.

INNOCENT: Prof Chafe Responds

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

Readers Note: On May 4 I posted "An Invitation to Duke's Prof. Chafe."

The post contained an email I sent to William H. Chafe, Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of American History at Duke University and a signatory of the faculty’s Group of 88’s “social disaster” statement that ran as a full-page ad in the Apr. 6 Chronicle. From 1995-2004 Chafe served as Dean of the Faculty of Duke University and Vice-Provost for Undergraduate Education.

Those of you familiar with the post know I took exception to Professor Chafe’s statements concerning bloggers as quoted in the Apr. 30 Chronicle and at KC Johnson’s blog. I also remain concerned about some of the content of the Group of 88’s “social disaster” statement and the group’s decision to publish it at such a tense time.

I expressed my concerns in an email to Chafe, a copy of which I included in the post.

I invited Chafe to respond and said I’d post his response in full; and that I’d make no comment on it for at least a day so readers could view it free of my commentary.

Chafe has responded. He included with his response the texts of the email The Chronicle sent him (Chafe’s overseas now) and his response to The Chronicle.

The Chronicle asked Chafe five questions; he responded to each question, numerating his responses. His numeration allowed me for your ease to paste the two emails into one document in Q&A form so that The Chronicle’s Q 1 is followed by Chafe’s A 1, etc.

Four words about comments on the thread: the usual rules apply.

So almost all of you will be able to do what you typically do at JinC: make civil, informed, reasonably questioning and pointed comments free of ad hominems and self-puffery.

For those few who just have to say “whatever,” there are millions of other blogs. I hope by hitting the delete button, I help you find at least one of them.

Now Professor Chafe’s response, followed by The Chronicle/ Chafe Q&A:

Dear John in Carolina:

I made a mistake in generalizing about “bloggers” in my comment to the
Chronicle, and I apologize.

For many Duke faculty who have been concerned about the values expressed in our campus culture, the last months have seen an unremitting flood of e-mails from people who believe that we presumed the guilt of the lacrosse players accused of sexual assault a year ago. That is not the case, I believe, at least in the instance of those faculty members I know.

A significant number of the critical e-mails, often using the same “canned” paragraphs, simply denounced us, without addressing the primary content of the ad; many appear unfamiliar with the fact that most faculty who have expressed themselves are concerned primarily about how we treat each other on campus, the fact that date rape is common, and that many sexual assaults go unreported and unpunished. Some e-mails and phone calls have been vicious, racist and threatening. It was my error to generalize from these.

Perhaps it is time to reassess generalizations on all sides. There is no “group of 88,” per se. We have never met. We do not belong to a political or professional organization, or to a particular discipline or set of disciplines. Most of us signed an ad as a way of expressing solidarity with students who were distressed. I know none of the students quoted in the ad. But I do know my own, who openly stated their concern about the same issues.

Somehow, in the aftermath of this, “the group of 88” has been demonized as left-wing, Marxist, elitist haters of Duke and of Duke athletics, committed to destroying the university. Why would we devote twenty, thirty, even more years of our lives to an institution we hate?

I made a mistake in my generalization. Maybe we can all start paying more attention to our respective statements, consider each other’s individuality and reject simple statements of condemnation for those who disagree with us. Then perhaps we can move forward.

For those who may be interested, appended to this e-mail is the full set of responses I had given to the Duke Chronicle reporter, only one line of which was used. The reporter’s questions are at the very bottom. (That’s now changed because as I explained I put the questions into the Q&A document. --- JinC)

Thank you.

Bill Chafe


Q1. What was your initial response to North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper’s announcement that all charges against the three indicted players have been dropped?

Chafe: I expected Cooper's announcement, and given the clear indication that Nifong had made serious mistakes throughout this process, I was pleased to see the record made clear.

Q 2. With the lacrosse case concluded, in retrospect what do you think it revealed about the campus culture at Duke?

Chafe: From my point of view, and that, I think of others, the lacrosse "incident" simply focused a spotlight on what many of us at Duke saw to be ongoing and critical issues in our campus culture.

These issues were not new, particularly the frequency of date rape, unpunished sexual assault, and covert or overt racism among some of our student body. Those of us who had been in
administration and dealing with student affairs for nearly a decade were well aware of these issues. The lacrosse "incident" simply highlighted, and made a more open topic of conversation, underlying issues within our community.

Q 3. Does the proclamation of innocence change the way you feel about the state of campus culture, or is it unrelated?

Chafe: The finding of innocence is unrelated to these ongoing issues. As I hope you and others will acknowledge, most of us never presumed guilt. In the Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed piece I wrote on this in May 2006, I specifically stated that we would not know whether an assault took place until the criminal process was complete. But as I said then, that was not the issue at hand.

The issue is and was how we feel about each other as members of the Duke community, and how we seek to sustain dignity, compassion and caring as values we affirm and pledge ourselves to uphold.

Q 4. As an original signer of the ad that ran in The Chronicle April 6, do you think the issues brought up in the ad are still relevant now that the prosecution has decided that the players are innocent of all charges?

Chafe: From my perspective, the ad simply affirmed faculty concern about students who had experienced denigration or sexual and racial maltreatment. I did not believe it was about whether or not a crime had been committed.

My own students -- not those who were quoted in the ad -- subsequently told me about their experience witnessing strippers hired to perform ON campus, and their regret that more of their peers had not protested sexual assault. These were the issues that concerned us. And these are the issues that still concern us, and should concern us.

Q 5. Now that their innocence has been proclaimed, and now that the case has come to its conclusion, do you still support the statements included in the ad?

Chafe: I support the ongoing engagement of faculty in seeking a community that cares about the dignity and personhood of every individual at Duke. I am appalled at the way that bloggers who have targeted the "Group of 88" have put words in our mouths, denied our individuality, and used racist and violent language to attack us (including sending us e-mails and making phone calls wishing our deaths, and calling us "Jew bitch" and "n-bitch"). It would be good to know whether those who do this in fact want their children to go to a university that sanctions student groups hiring strippers or mistreating fellow students.

KC’s Levicy posts: Some Reactions (Post 1)

I hope you've read KC Johnson’s posts (here, here and here) concerning DUMC nurse Tara Levicy, who on the morning of 3/14/06 was in the ER and had contact with patient Crystal Gail Mangum? At the time, Levicy was in training for SANE certification which she subsequently obtained.

KC’s posts detail and discuss not only Levicy’s actions on 3/14/06, but subsequent statements Levicy’s reported to have made to various parties concerning her involvement in the ER medical services provided Mangum that morning, as well as statements Levicy is alleged to have made relating to such matters as DNA testing and women’s truthfulness when making rape allegations.

KC reports that subsequent to 3/14, Levicy met a number of times over the course of many months with investigators who perpetrated the frame-up of three innocent Duke students as well as with at least one attorney who defended the them.

If you’re going to read further, I assume you’re very familiar with KC’s posts.

Full disclosure: I’m a health care professional trained at DU and DUMC.

Most of my professional service has been in private practice or at other institutions,but from time to time I've participated in DUMC research activities and staff training as part of grant programs or on a fee for service basis.

Now, except for limited consultation to service providing agencies, I’m retired from active practice and have no expectation of ever again providing service at DUMC. I have many friends and former colleagues at DU and DUMC.

Important qualifications to this post: 1) As far as I can recall, I’ve never met Nurse Levicy. I have not discussed Crystal Mangum’s care with anyone at DUMC who either had direct patient care responsibility for Mangum or supervisory responsibility for those who did. I’ve also never discussed Mangum’s patient care at DUMC with any attorney employed by DUMC or DU.

2) The remarks I’m about to make are stimulated by the contents of KC’s posts, but do not represent informed judgments regarding them. The posts’ contents reminded me of important principles of health care practice. It’s those I really want to share with you in order to affirm them and further embed them in the minds of health care professionals and the public. In a world where much is nonsensical, those principles are part of that rare resource: wisdom.

At the end of this post, I’ll also say a few things in response to some comments folks have made about DUMC and staff there.

Now let’s begin:

As many commenters at KC’s posts have pointed out, on day one or two of training, a health care professional (HCP) learns: “Always chart it.” “If it’s not on the chart, it didn’t happen.”

There’s more that goes with that advice: “Unless your 100% sure, don’t answer without checking the chart. And if the question is really important, check the chart anyway. That’s good for the patient and for you.”

“You’re only responsible for your part of the chart or what you sign off on. Other parts of it, let other HCPs explain”

“If you leave something off the chart, you can update. Don’t fudge. Make sure your supervisor knows you’re updating. Best practice: get your supervisor to sign with you on the update. Briefly give reason(s) for update. When it matters, let the patient or family know you’ve updated.”

And then there’s this ----

“Don’t ever speak to police or attorneys without the chart at hand. And then, for God’s sake, don’t ‘go off the chart’ and start talking about things that aren’t there. Best practice: before speaking with police or attorneys, ask your supervisor to review the chart. Review with your supervisor everything on the chart you were responsible for or signed off on. Ask also about reviewing what you’ll be saying with an attorney employed by your institution . ”

Of course, there’s a very good chance (almost a certainty) an HCP asked about a patient’s care even a few days afterwards by police or attorneys will already have had contact with an attorney representing his/her employing institution.

(This series continues tomorrow with thoughts about attorneys representing HC institutions, companies which provide malpractice insurance, and professional organizations; and how they most often interact with HCPs involved in the kind of complicated case Nurse Levicy was and is involved in.)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

N&O public editor asks a question

N&O public editor Ted Vaden’s column appears every Sunday on the N&O’s op-ed page, opposite the editorial page.

Today Vaden asks: “Is [the op-ed] page tilting left or right?”

Just so you’re not left hanging in suspense, Vaden, a career employee of the liberal/leftist N&O, concludes there’s “not much” wrong with his employer’s op-ed page.

Here’s some of what Vaden says:

Does the page lean liberal or conservative? That's in the eye of the beholder. At the request of one reader, I've looked back at the columns over a six-month period to see whether the numbers skew one way or the other.

Here's the count of the most frequent columnists over the period from October 2006 to March 2007: George Will, 45; Rick Martinez, 38; David Broder, 24; Ellen Goodman, 24; Charles Krauthammer, 22; Thomas Friedman, 16; Paul Krugman, 12; Bob Herbert, 12; Richard Reeves, 9; Gwynne Dyer, 9, David Brooks 7.

The reader, Charlie Board, perceives that lineup as overwhelmingly "right wing or neocon." In that camp, he places Will, Martinez, Broder, Krauthammer, Friedman and Brooks (total 152 columns). To the left, he puts Krugman, Goodman, Reeves, Herbert and Dyer (66 columns).

We could debate the ideological spectrum all day, but I'd place Broder and Friedman more to the left of center than right (Vaden's got that right), which changes the count to 112 conservative, 106 liberal -- a virtual tie.
Some of you may be wondering who Rick Martinez is.

Martinez writes on local and state issues. His column appears only in the N&O. He’s described by the op-ed page editor as in certain respects a “counterweight” to the N&O’s liberal news columnists whose columns appear, appropriately enough, right beside the paper’s liberal/leftist news columns.

If the N&O had, as it should, reasonable political and ideological balance among its news columnists, Martinez’s columns would appear alongside the news columns.

So I’m subtracting the non-syndicated Martinez’s 38 columns from Vaden’s count of the other columnists who are all nationally syndicated. Leveling the playing field that way makes the count 106 liberal to 74 conservative.

Vaden goes on to say:
It's a fatuous exercise, trying to pigeonhole columnists politically and to gauge the page accordingly. Editors at The N&O are not keeping count, but they told me they would expect the syndicated columnists to skew slightly right, for several reasons. One, to balance the other articles, editorials and cartoons on the op-ed and editorial page. Another is that the stable of liberal columnists has been depleted with the losses of Molly Ivins, dead of breast cancer, and William Raspberry, retired.
This paragraph is worth examining.

Why does Vaden say it’s a fatuous exercise to pigeonhole columnists politically and gauge an op-ed page accordingly after he just did that?

As for the editors’ expectation the number of syndicated columns the N&O published during the October ’06 to March ’07 period skewed right, we’ve seen using Vaden’s own categorizations that the skew was 106 liberal to 74 conservative.

About those cartoons on the op-ed page: on any given day it’s not unusual to find three or four of them there. Invariably their skew is liberal or left, some of them so far left and harsh in their characterization of America that they easily fit within the ideological frame of a government sponsored Iranian or Syrian newspaper.

You rarely see a political cartoon on the N&O’s op-ed page with a conservative skew or extolling America.

The N&O’s op-ed page also carries the leftist Gary Trudeau’s Doonesbury political comic strip.

I’d be surprised if in the October to March period, the combined Doonesburys and cartoons with liberal/leftist skews on the N&O’s op-ed page didn’t exceed 500.

I’d also be surprised if during that same period the N&O's op-ed page contained even 100 cartoons with a conservative skew.

Vaden tells faithful N&O readers:
Allen Torrey, op-ed editor, said his focus is not on ideology, but on ideas and issues. "I'd be very disappointed if anyone could say that I have some kind of ideological bias in picking pieces," he said. "What I'm looking for are interesting pieces that address important and timely issues from a variety of perspectives, with a leavening of the light and offbeat occasionally."
Given the op-ed pages that Vaden and Torrey view every day, can anyone explain why Vaden would seriously ask whether the page tilts left or right?

And can anyone explain why Torrey would say he’d be “very disappointed if anyone could say that I have some kind of ideological bias in picking pieces?”