Saturday, October 27, 2007

Then there’s Edwards’ beach house

You must know about John Edwards, the “poverty fighter."

Yes, he's the one with the 28,000 sq. ft. house and his campaign headquarters in the most affluent part of affluent Chapel Hill, NC.

But do you know about Edwards’ beach house on Figure Eight Island, NC?

Most folks don’t because to even reach Figure Eight you have to leave the mainland and cross a bridge.

The bridge was built and is maintained at public expense, but as soon as you cross it, you’re on private property and face a guard house.

You’re not allowed past the guard house unless Edwards or another Figure Eight property owner such as Nobel laureate Albert Gore has “cleared” you.

So what’s Figure Eight Island like, anyway?

Well, click here and you’ll read:

This private, peaceful ocean side haven offers bright blue waters and long stretches of beach, and is home to notables like Al Gore, John Edwards, and others who relish seclusion and natural surroundings.

This 1,300 acre 5 mile island does not offer hotels, shopping centers, and tourism. However if bird watching, quiet walks and sunbathing is your strong suit you may find life here appealing. There are only 441 homes, no condos, but it does offer proximity to activity rich Wilmington, NC.

Enjoy the myriad architectural styles of neatly cared for properties if you can get onto the island.
Edwards must think nothing’s too good for a “poverty fighter,” especially one who’s “committed to the environment” and recently built an “eco-friendly” 28,000 sq. ft. house.

Duke’s Hoax “conservation” policy

With a drought hitting North Carolina, we’re being told to conserve water and given conservation tips: “Check for leaks” and “Cut the flow off as quickly as possible.”

That’s all gotten me thinking about Duke University’s conservation policies.

Say what you will about President Brodhead and BOT Chair Steel bungled and shameful response to the Mangum/Nifong lies and faculty/”activists”/media pressure, those two fellows and the people they direct are wonderful conservationists.

Do you know of a single leak at the Allen Building concerning why Brodhead decided to say nothing when the black racists threatened Reade Seligmann outside and within the Durham County Courthouse?

When President Brodhead made his prepared, unannounced “too little, too late” apology, no member of the University community or the press was permitted to ask a single question.

Could Brodhead and Steel have done any more than that to cut off the flow of information the Duke community and the public have a right and need to know about what they and other Duke leaders did and didn’t do during the Hoax?

At least that’s the way I see it. It’s also what I hear from many Duke parents, alums and others who say they’ve gotten stonewalled by the University when they’ve asked questions they felt they were entitled to ask.

Have you had any first-hand experience with Duke's Hoax "conservation" policy?

Duke Now Quiz #2

(Another quiz testing your knowledge of Duke now.)

On April 2, 2006 the Raleigh News & Observer published a picture of the “Vigilante” poster.

Anonymously produced, it contained face photos and names of 43 of the 46 white Duke lacrosse players against whom hate-filled activists had threatened physical violence.

The N&O's "Vigilante" poster photo, two columns wide on a six column page and seven inches long, was big enough so that the poster could be enlarged with good resolution providing easy face recognition of the players, many of whom had left their dorms and apartments because of fear for their safety.

On April 4 the N&O received the following statement:

“The publication of these photographs is not only unfair but dangerous to the young men involved. Will your newspaper not be satisfied until some vigilante egged on by your reporting harms a Duke student or team member?”
Question: The statement was made by:

1) Richard H. Brodhead, President of Duke

2) John Burness, Duke’s Senior Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations

3) Joe Alleva, Duke’s Athletic Director

4) None of the above

If you picked “None of the above,” you’re right.

The statement is part of a comment Everett E. Dodd Jr of Raleigh made to the N&O’s public editor.

Any Dukie or North Carolinian who remembers former Governor and Duke President Terry Sanford knows that had the N&O done something like publishing the “Vigilante” poster during his time at Duke, the editors would have heard loud and publicly from Sanford or one of his top aides or very likely both.

Can anyone who remembers Athletic Director Tom Butters conceive of his remaining silent when "activists" were circulating copies of the "Vigilante" poster on campus right outside Brodhead's office windows?

But at Duke now we have Brodhead, “Dick’s senior team,” BOT Chair Bob Steel and his trustees.

Why is Duke now at such a point?

Free Speech? Not for All

At American Thinker Ethel Fenig posts Freedom of Speech for Me but not for Thee :

Under the holy mantra of academic freedom of speech Iran's president Ahmadinejad was invited to speak at Columbia (we would have invited Hitler) University despite promising to eliminate the population of Israel. Academic freedom proponents were pleased at their victory.

But when Nobel Prize winner James Watson questioned the intelligence of Africans his book tour was cancelled, lectures called off, job suspended. The fallout continues.
Rockefeller University has cancelled a lecture Dr. Watson was to have given Wednesday at a ceremony honoring him and “The Double Helix,” the book he wrote about the elucidation of DNA.

“There were some members of the university community who had expressed reservations about Dr. Watson coming here to speak after the controversy over his remarks in the U.K.,” Joseph Bonner, Rockefeller’s director of communications, said today.
In addition, the 79 year old Watson retired as chancellor of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island as well as from its board. It was his life's work:
Dr. Watson transformed it from a small facility into a world-class institution prominent in research on cancer, plant biology, neuroscience and computational biology, the board said in announcing his retirement. Bruce Stillman, who succeeded him as president, said today that he had created an “unparalleled” research environment at the laboratory.
Fenig’s post continues here. You may not believe what happened at Emory University in Atlanta.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Churchill Series – Oct. 26, 2007

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

Folks, my plan was to continue in this post commentary concerning a Churchill memorandum contained in yesterday’s post.

I’m changing the plan. Here’s why:

The Oct. 16 Series post concerned a painting Churchill had given President Harry Truman in 1951. Truman left the painting to his daughter Margaret. Through her family, Margaret has just placed the painting with Sotheby’s for auction Dec. 13.

What follows is first, the Oct. 16 post; then, the auction story that’s just appeared at TIMESONLINE; and last, a link to a color picture of the painting.

Here’s the Oct. 16 post:

On June 3, 1951 Churchill, then 76, had as his luncheon guests at Chartwell the American Ambassador, Walter Gifford, and President Truman’s daughter, Margaret, to whom he gave a painting for the President.

In Never Despair (Houghton Mifflin& Co., 1988) Churchill’s biographer, Martin Gilbert, tells us some of what followed:

[Shortly thereafter Churchill wrote to “My dear Harry,”]

"This picture was hung in the [Royal] Academy last year, and is about as presentable as anything I can produce. It shows the beautiful panorama of the Atlas Mountains from Marrakech.

This is the view that I persuaded your predecessor to see before he left North Africa after the Casablanca Conference. He was carried to the top of a high tower, and a magnificent sunset was duly in attendance."

“I can’t find words adequate,” Truman replied, “to express my appreciation of the beautiful picture of the Atlas Mountains, painted by you. I shall treasure that picture as long as I live and it will be one of the most valued possessions I will be able to leave to Margaret when I pass on.”(p. 615)
Truman, who greatly admired Churchill and had a keen sense of history, no doubt treasured the picture; and appreciated better than most that when he passed it to Margaret, he’d be leaving her a work with a priceless historical provenance.

But did he ever think the painting today, if in good condition, would be worth well more than a million dollars as the prices of Churchill’s paintings at auctions continue to skyrocket?


“If it weren’t for painting, I couldn’t live, I couldn’t bear the strain of things,” Sir Winston Churchill once said. Now, one of the great statesman’s most important paintings has surfaced for the first time since he gave it to President Harry S. Truman more than half a century ago.

It was over lunch at 10 Downing Street in 1951 that Churchill presented Marrakesh, a vibrant image that captures the exotic colour and light of the Moroccan desert, as a gift to the US President.

Truman was overwhelmed, saying that he would treasure it as one of his “most valued possessions” and it has remained in the family ever since. But his daughter, Margaret Truman Daniel, is now selling it for financial reasons.

The painting, which dates from about 1948, will be the highlight of a sale of 20th-century British art at Sotheby’s in London on December 13. With its unbroken provenance to an important historical figure, its appearance on the open market is expected to attract strong interest from both collectors and historians.

Buyers may well ignore the £500,000 estimate, just as they ignored the £200,000 estimate in July when Sotheby’s auctioned Chartwell Landscape with Sheep, a view of Churchill’s home. That painting sold for £1 million – setting a new auction record, nearly double the previous figure for a Churchill painting.

Frances Christie, Sotheby’s specialist in the 20th Century British Art department, said that such prices for Churchill had emerged recently. “It is only in the past two years that he’s broken the £100,000barrier,” she said.

Although Marrakesh, as a Moroccan subject, is comparable in colours and tones to View of Tinherir, which sold in December for £612,800, this work is arguably superior in both composition and provenance.

Here’s a link to a picture of the painting that is larger than the one accompanying the TIMESONLINE story.

And here’s wishing you a very nice weekend. Ours will be wet and that’s very good. We need the rain.

I hope to see you Monday.


Edwards’ staff tries to kill student’s story

This at

A UNC-Chapel Hill journalism professor said John Edwards' presidential campaign tried to kill a student's video story about his campaign headquarters.

Associate Professor C.A. Tuggle said two top staffers for the former North Carolina senator demanded that the school drop the segment from the student-run television program "Carolina Week." They also asked to have the video removed from the YouTube Web site.

Tuggle said they threatened to cut off access to Edwards for UNC student reporters and other student groups if the piece aired.

"My gosh, what are they thinking?" Tuggle said. "They're spending this much time and effort on a student newscast that has about 2,000 viewers? They're turning a molehill into a mountain."

A spokeswoman for the Edwards campaign said it had no problem with student reporters.

"This is silly," campaign spokeswoman Colleen Murray said in a statement. "We love all reporters, the problem is the feeling isn't always mutual."

The campaign would not answer questions about the incident.

The segment, by graduate student Carla Babb, began as a look at Nation Hahn, a UNC senior interning with the campaign. During the interview, Babb asked about a recent column in The Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper, criticizing Edwards' choice of the posh Southern Village shopping center as the location for his headquarters.
Babb rewrote the piece to focus on that angle and interviewed the columnist, prompting the complaint from Edwards' campaign.

In the video, James Edward Dillard, a columnist for The Daily Tar Heel, says that the location conflicts with Edwards' campaign goal of reducing poverty in America.[…]
The rest of’s story is here.

You can view the video here.

Comments: Is Edwards’ campaign headquarters really too posh for a candidate who builds himself a 28,000 sq. ft. house and gets $400.00 haircuts?

I doubt Edwards thinks so. Posh is in the eye of the beholder, right?

BTW - Is Edwards still boasting that his young son Jack tells his friends they shouldn't wear sneakers their parents or someone else bought for them at WalMart?

TNR Stumbles On: Are You Shocked?

Remember The New Republic’s “Shock Troops” story this past July? American troops in Iraq were alleged to be doing some awful things but when the fact-checking started the allegations began to be proved false.

But TNR refuses to concede it passed unchecked to readers what turned out to be bogus reports.

So now, like Dan Rather refusing to concede he used phony documents in the 60 Minutes II TANG story, New Republic editors stumble on refusing to concede they made critical mistakes.

Bob Owens at Confederate Yankee has been in the forefront of those exposing the “Shock Troops” bogus claims. Today he provides an update on where matters stand.

Bob begins:

Franklin Foer, Peter Scoblic, Jason Zengerle and other senior editors at The New Republic can't quite seem to get their hands on enough information to complete their investigation into the Scott Thomas Beauchamp "Shock Troops" story published in mid-July.

As someone who has had a bit of success in separating the facts from the fiction in this and other instances of questionable media content, I can offer them some free consulting advice to expedite their final report.

In yesterday's Washington Post interview with Howard Kurtz, Franklin Foer made the following claim:
Despite the contentious conversation, Foer continued to defend the article days later. He did so again yesterday, reiterating that other soldiers whom the magazine would not identify had confirmed the allegations.

While Beauchamp "didn't stand by his stories in that conversation, he didn't recant his stories," Foer said in an interview. "He obviously was under considerable duress during that conversation, with his commanding officer in the room with him."
We'll overlook the fact that his commanding officer was not in the room. We'll also overlook the fact that the enlisted squad leader actually sided with Foer and Scoblic in their argument that TNR should be allowed to control the narrative and cancel interviews with both Newsweek and the Post.

And we'll overlook that the only obvious duress in the transcript was Foer using the emotional blackmail regarding Beauchamp's wife and the further strong-arm tactics of reminding Beauchamp that if he recanted, any future career of his as a writer is over.

We'll ignore all that for now, because want to get to the truth.

So let's focus on this part of the claim:
...reiterating that other soldiers whom the magazine would not identify had confirmed the allegations.
There are 58 pages of sworn statements currently under legal review at Central Command's FOIA Office in Tampa that seem to directly disagree with that assertion, so let's get the facts as we know them out in the open.
Bob goes on to gets the fact “as we know them” out to you in a major post that’s a must read for anyone following the TNR “Shock Troops” story.

Message to Bob Owens: Great investigative reporting.

Message to MSM news organizations: Why aren’t any of you doing the kind of investigative reporting on this story Owens and other bloggers are doing?

McClatchy Propaganda Speech

At the McClatchy Company’s Raleigh News & Observer’s Editor’s Blog executive editor for news Melanie Sill is cluck-clucking in a post she titles: “Honors for McClatchy's Iraqi journalists.”

I want to provide here excerpts from Sill’s post which includes comments from a McClatchy news editor and the full text of an acceptance speech by a McClatchy reporter stationed in Baghdad.

I end the post with a copy of a comment I’ve just left on the thread of Sill’s post and a link to the recent speech in which Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez excoriated journalists and news organizations for their biased news coverage from Iraq which Sanchez said has cost American lives.

Sill begins:

“I wanted to share some words from David Westphal, head of our McClatchy Washington bureau, about recognition for six courageous women who worked in the McClatchy (former Knight Ridder) Baghdad bureau. (Read our Iraqi staffers' blog here)

[Westphal writes]:"Six current and former Iraqi staffers in Baghdad were awarded the Courage Award in New York today (Tuesday) by the International Women's Media Foundation. Four of the six were present for the awards lunch at the Waldorf Astoria, and one of them, Sahar Issa, gave a smash acceptance speech on everyone's behalf.

Standing behind her were Ban Adil Sarhan, Huda Ahmed and Alaa Majeed. Not able to attend were Zaineb Obeid and Shatha al Awsy. A McClatchy fan club, including John Walcott, Mark Seibel, Leila Fadel, plus Knight Ridder alums Clark Hoyt and Steve Butler, led the cheering section

"We are so proud of them. Their reporting from the streets and roads and markets of Iraq is the foundation of our Baghdad report, and it was obvious from the crowd's reaction (and individual comments afterwards) that McClatchy's sparkling work on Iraq was widely understood and respected.”[…]

N&O editor Melanie Sill then tells readers:

Westphal also shared text of the acceptance speech given by Sahar Issa on behalf of the six Iraqi women in McClatchy's Baghdad bureau.

Here it is :

"It is a great honor for me to stand here today.

"To me, this award means that my colleagues and I have succeeded in what we set out to do; and that our voices have carried, through war, through death and sorrow, through sleepless nights and fear driven days in an effort to reflect the picture of our country as we see it, and of out people as only we can truly know them.

"To be a journalist in violence ridden Iraq today, ladies and gentlemen, is not a matter lightly undertaken. Every path is strewn with danger, every checkpoint, every question a direct threat.

"Every interview we conduct may be our last. So much is happening in Iraq. So much that is questionable. So much that we, as journalists, try to fathom and portray to the people who care to know."

"In every society there is good and bad. Laws regulate the conduct of the society. My country is now lawless. Innocent blood is shed every day, seemingly without purpose. Hundreds of thousands have been killed for seemingly no reason. It is our responsibility to do our utmost to acquire the answers, to dig them up with our bare hands if we must."

Comment to N&O executive editor for news Melanie Sill

Dear Melanie,

Do you know what Sahar Issa means when she says, “My country is now lawless?”

Most parts of Iraq are now more safe and peaceful than they’ve been in decades.

Why did Issa say, “Innocent blood is shed every day, seemingly without purpose?”

She knows Al-Qaeda and Muslim terrorist groups funded and trained by Iran make no secret of why they blowup innocent men, women and children.

They want to destabilize every part of the world – most especially now Iraq – so they can inflict on people that form of barbarism called Muslim Fundamentalism.

Issa knows it’s not true that: “Hundreds of thousands have been killed for seemingly no reason.”

Hundreds of thousands have not been killed.

And of those who have been killed, they’ve most often been killed by the terrorists for the purpose I just stated.

Why didn’t Issa say that?

The terrorists are so purposeful in their killings that they stage their attacks to gain maximum news coverage and do the greatest possible harm to peaceful economic and social order and the security forces supporting them.

Issa’s acceptance speech is just the sort of propaganda meme we hear from the extreme anti-American Left here and the Al-Qaeda enablers over there.

Why did McClatchy hire her in the first place?

Why are McClatchy news editors such as you boasting about a reporter who makes such an ill-informed, propagandistic speech?

And when is the N&O going to tell readers what General Sanchez said about most journalists reporting from Iraq and the great harm they are doing?

If you’d publish what Sanchez said, people could read what Issa said and easily connect the dots.


John in Carolina.

Folks, here’s a link to Sanchez’s speech.

Hat tips: Mike Williams and Kaz

The Chronicle’s Burness Gush

The Chronicle has editorialized in response to the announced departure next June of John Burness, Duke’s senior vice president for public affairs and government relations. The editorial’s here.

What follows are excerpts from the editorial in italics interspersed with my comments in plain.

The Chronicle began:

Now that everything is almost said and done, John Burness will go down in the books as something like the Brett Favre of college communications. […]

The Chronicle’s wrong: Everything isn’t “almost said and done.”

There’s a great deal we need to hear from Burness regarding his role and that of others in the University’s bungled and shameful response to the Hoax.

The senior administrator's departure is without a doubt a tremendous loss to the University. Sandwiched in between back-to-back national basketball championships in '91 and '92 and the most recent lacrosse case, Burness has masterfully overseen the communications of Duke as it has risen the ranks and come to international prominence. […]

Folks, just so there’s no misunderstanding: Burness didn’t play on either the ’91 or ’92 championship teams. He’ll tell you that himself.

Burness is a very talented man who’s done some good things for Duke. I’ll be posting soon concerning a few of them with which I’ve had first-hand experience.

But The Chronicle’s gushing doesn’t obscure in thoughtful people’s minds some very important questions.

Those questions concern Burness’ actions during the attempted frame-up and his actions to date as Duke’s leadership has tried desperately to avoid disclosing and explaining just what it did and didn’t do during the time President Brodhead said “whatever they did was bad enough” and “the facts kept changing.”

Further along The Chronicle says:

Burness made his mistakes. Communication, as this board has said many times before, was often a core failure of the University during the past year. The "right" statements were made in the lacrosse case, but they were rarely made in the correct or timely way so needed. For this, Burness does indeed deserve much criticism.

What’s The Chronicle talking about when it says the “right” statements were made but “rarely …in the correct or timely way?”

The Chronicle editors know there were critically important and dangerous times when the University should have spoken out and didn’t.

There wasn’t ANY statement when the “CASTRATE” banner waved

There wasn’t ANY statement when the “Vigilante” posters circulated on campus.

There wasn’t ANY statement when Nifong and DPD told what President Brodhead and senior Duke administrators knew were lies that inflamed already hate-filled people on the faculty and in the community against the Duke students?

There wasn’t ANY statement when racists directly threatened Reade Seligmann both outside and within the Durham County Courthouse.

What share of the responsibility for those shameful silences does Burness bear?

The Chronicle should have gotten an answer to that question and others before it declared Burness “something like the Brett Favre of college communications.”

Brett Favre’s always looked out for the team and been at his best in the toughest games. That doesn’t describe Burness the last 18 months.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Churchill Series - Oct. 25, 2007

The Churchill Series – Oct. 25, 2007

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

Readers Note: Today is the birthday of Sir Martin Gilbert, Churchill’s official biographer. Many of his fellow historians settle on the same word to describe his multi-volume life of Churchill: magisterial.

Gilbert’s one of the great historians of the twentieth century. In addition to the Churchill biography, he’s written more than 70 works that include histories of both world wars and the holocaust. Thumbnail descriptions of all his works are listed here.

I know we all join in wishing Martin Gilbert a Happy Birthday and a wonderful year to come.


On November 8, 1940 Churchill sent the following memorandum to Sir Edwards Bridges, a career civil servant who help the position of Secretary to the Cabinet.

Many of the executive departments naturally have set up and developed their own statistical branches, but there appears to be a separate statistical branch attached to the Ministerial Committee on Production, and naturally the Ministry of Supply’s statistical branch covers a very wide field. I have my own statistical branch under Professor Lindemann [An Oxford physicist, Churchill’s science advisor and close friend].

It is essential to consolidate and make sure that agreed figures only are used. The utmost confusion is caused when people argue on different statistical data. I wish all statistics to be concentrated in my own branch as Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, from which alone the final authoritative working statistics will issue. The various departmental statistical branches will, of course, continue as at present, but agreement must be reached between them, and the Central Statistical Office.

Pray look into this, and advise me how my wish can be most speedily and effectively achieved.
Six months into office, we see Churchill is this memorandum doing some important things. He’s solving the problem of different statistical outcomes being used by different government groups, possibly at cross purposes. While allowing those already using different sets of data to keep doing so, he’s providing an “umpire,” the Central Statistical Office, which will make any “disputed calls.”

That should allow for greater efficiency within the government and cut down on bureaucratic infighting.

He’s also drawing power into his own hands, isn’t he? And he’s not trying to disguise that by asking Bridges to sound out the other Cabinet officers. All he wants Bridges to do is advise how what he wants to do “can be most speedily and effectively achieved.”

Tomorrow I’ll say more about this memorandum and compare it to another document Churchill wrote almost exactly six months earlier when he had just assumed the premiership.

The full text of the memorandum can be found on pg. 684 of Their Finest Hour, vol. II of Churchill’s The Second World War. (Houghton Mifflin, 1949)

Fox, the networks & Jena myths

Like most Americans, I don’t regularly watch any of the networks' evening news programs.

But I hope some of you do, because I have a question.

Yesterday I posted concerning a news report by Craig Franklin, an editor of Jena’s newspaper. He debunked media myths surrounding the Jena 6 story. The "whites-only tree" and the "only a school yard fight" were just two of them.

Franklin is the only journalist to have covered the story from its inception until now.

Of MSM news reporting of the story, Franklin said: "I have never before witnessed such a disgrace in professional journalism. Myths replaced facts, and journalists abdicated their solemn duty to investigate every claim because they were seduced by a powerfully appealing but false narrative of racial injustice."

Fox News with Brit Hume covered Franklin's report tonight just as it earlier covered the hysteria, posturing and false claims which launched the Jena 6 story.

Friends have told me and I've read that the network evening news programs gave big splashes to the original Jena 6 hysteria, posturing and false claims.

My question: Are the network news programs covering Franklin's report?

Bonus question: Do you know of any journalist who's so far debunked anything Franklin's reported?

Final comment: It's not hard to understand why the networks and their Democratic Party allies are so upset with Fox News, is it?

Assessing Duke's Burness

What follows are excerpts in italics from Duke senior Elliot Wolf’s Chronicle column today, after which I offer comments in plain text.

Now Wolf:

[…] Beyond the trials of the lacrosse situation, John [Burness, senior vice president for public affairs and government relations,] has consistently been willing to engage me in the variety of positions I've held since coming to Duke.

Upon the announcement that his departure from the University . . .I must thank him for putting up with me for the past three years. That he did, for so long, says a lot about him and about his commitment to the University . . ..

Our relationship began my freshman year, when I called him demanding various internal documents on University finances, and it continued as I scrutinized public records on the University's income and expenditures.

I eventually wrote a column on the University's tax return, which John felt the need to write a guest column refuting.

Subsequently, we discussed issues ranging from the University's purchase of 12 off-campus houses formerly occupied by students to the (lack of) detail in the University's financial statements and the Durham Police Department.

Although we often came down on different sides of various issues, he was ready and willing to take time out of what he described in an e-mail announcing his retirement as "70-plus-hour work weeks" to engage me-but not without humorous jabs here and there. […]

But now the conspiracy theories surround him. Comments on various blogs and The Chronicle's Web site suggest (without any evidence) he is being fired for his handling of lacrosse.

For what it's worth, during an interview with me two years ago, prior to lacrosse, he indicated that he would likely retire by the end of this year.

And many more comments argue that this is a positive development for the University.

Despite our various disagreements and the recent controversy over the handling of the lacrosse case, I cannot agree with that assessment. […]

Most [students] don't understand exactly what he is responsible for and by extension how hard it will be to replace him.

But believe me, it will be.


As the column excerpts suggest, Wolf has been an informed critic of the University who’s not been afraid to examine aspects of its functioning most student leaders would shy away from. He’s written more than one column that must have had some Allen building occupants reaching for their Maalox.

So Wolf’s praise of Burness is praise indeed and to be respected.

But we need to bear in mind that Wolf’s assessment is based solely on his direct contacts with Burness.

Any current assessment of John Burness’ service to Duke should include an explicit recognition that there’s a great deal we don’t know about his role in Duke’s actions and inactions in response to the Hoax.

Let’s acknowledge, as Wolf does, that so far we’ve heard only accusations that Burness worked behind the scenes to undermine the lacrosse students.

Acknowledging that is only fair. It’s also the principal reason why I’ve said next to nothing about those accusations. There’s a heavy burden on those making the accusations to produce “the beef” so the rest of us can make up our minds about them.

We may end up only with claims and counter claims of what did or didn’t happen during unrecorded conversations.

And while the claimants and counter-claimants may be telling us what they believe to be true, it may be impossible for the rest of us to reasonably determine whether Burness in fact acted to undermine the students.

What’s certain is there’s much about Burness’ role in the Hoax we don’t know, but need and deserve to know.

Was Burness an important advisor who helped determine the Univeristy’s bungled and shameful response to Crystal Mangum and Mike Nifong’s lies? Or was his role primarily to pass on to the media and public decisions and statements he had little or no part in formulating?

Is it possible that while publicly stating and affirming the University’s positions as he’d be expected to do, Burness spoke in private, and sometimes questioned parts of President Brodhead’s and BOT Chair Steel’s “throw them under the bus” strategy?

We don’t know yet whether Burness ever said something like “Dick, you really should meet with the lacrosse parents.”

Or, “We need to make some kind of statement supporting Reade Seligmann and condemning the racists. We certainly would if Seligmann were black and the racists white.”

Or, “Dick, that was an ugly scene last night with those ‘activists’ circulating ‘Vigilante’ posters right outside your office windows. You really should issue a statement condemning them. They’re heightening the danger the lacrosse students are facing.”

One thing is obvious: There’s a need for a full, fair inquiry into what Burness and other University leaders did in response to the Hoax.

I plan to post again concerning Burness and the Hoax.

Closing item: In a time when so many move quickly beyond policy and practice differences to launching ad hominems, it’s good to learn that Wolf and Burness contended over the past few years in a civil manner.

Their achievement is not to be taken lightly on a campus where many routinely compare the President of the United States to Hitler and raise no objection when a member of Congress, speaking on the House floor, says the President enjoys seeing our troops in Iraq have their heads blown off.

The Churchill Series – Oct. 24, 2007

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

On November 5, 1940 Americans were going to the polls to decide whether to re-elect President Franklin D. Roosevelt for an unprecedented third term.

In London that same day Harold Nicolson, a Member of Parliament, attended a House session during which Churchill spoke. Here’s Nicolson’s diary entry for the day as found in Diaries and Letters (Vol. II), Nigel Nicolson, editor. (Atheneum, 1967):

The Prime Minister makes a statement after Question-time. He is rather grim. He brings home to the House as never before the gravity of our shipping losses and the danger of our position in the Eastern Mediterranean.

It has a good effect. By putting the grim side foremost he impresses us with his ability to face the worst. He rubs the palms of his hands with five fingers extended up and down the front of his coat, searching for the right phrase, indicating cautious selection, conveying almost medicinal poise.

If Chamberlain had spoken glum words such as these the impression would have been one of despair and lack of confidence. Churchill can say them and we all feel, “Thank God that we have a man like that!” I have never admired him more.

Thereafter he slouches into the smoking –room and reads the Evening News intently, as if it were the only source of information available to him.
When you read the phrase “medicinal poise,” did you think I’d made a transcription error, and that the actual phrase Nicolson used was “medical poise?”

I wish I was more familiar with commentary on Nicolson’s diaries.

Does anyone know whether “medicinal poise,” which seems an odd phrase to me and I’m sure many of you, was what Nicolson actually meant and wrote?

On a more important matter, we can be sure that on November 6 when Churchill read cables and newspapers describing Roosevelt’s victory, he was relieved and delighted.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Water conservation comments too good to waste

I recently posted Butler on Drinking which concerned Chronicle columnist and Duke senior Kristin Butler’s recent column on the water shortage in the Duke-Durham area.

Some JinC Regulars and others commented. Here’s the thread so far, after which I offer a few comments.

mb said...

I like the sign posted on many toilets that are connected to septic tanks and drainfields: "If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down." Each flush takes ~2.5 gallons of water, and on older toilets, ~5 gallons, so flushing only when solid material is present in the toilet can add up to a lot of savings.
2:22 PM

Ralph Phelan said...

Stop watering the golf course.

2:42 PM

Anonymous said...

What ever Kristin Butler ends up in charge of (and I'm sure she'll be in charge) she'll do a great job. She's just got good sense!
4:31 PM

Anonymous said...

drink beer

6:43 PM

Bob said...

Ha! mb's comment above reminded me of a saying we had long ago during a water shortage in Pittsburgh:

"Don't flush without a solid reason!"


10:59 PM

Anonymous said...

The biggest water wasters in existence are toilet flappers, the flat disc that is lifted to flush,attached by a chain to the flush lever handle arm inside the tank.These silent leakers only last about 3 years before needing replacement.

The "if it's yellow let it mellow" deal comes at a price, calcium buildup in the passageways of the toilet.Occasional soaking with white vinegar helps remove excess calcium. Modern toilets use only 1.6 gallons of water.Do not use anything to displace the water or lower the recommended water line in your toilet,as you will use more water due to extra flushes to clear it out.

Rullie N.C. licensed Plumber (35 years)
3:43 AM

GPrestonian said...

Always take showers w/ a chick.
4:43 AM

Ralph Phelan said...

Many toilets in Japan have a two-way lever: Pushing it one way gives you a tiny flush, just enough to clear a purely liquid load. Pushing it the other way gives a nice healthy log-jam-clearing flush that always gets the job done on the first try.
9:16 AM

1) Re Kristin doing a great work at some future task: I agree. I’m also struck by how often people commenting on her column make the same point.

2) I always appreciate it when someone who earns h/her living at a particular job takes time to explain aspects of h/her work the general reader would not know. So a special thanks goes to Rullie, the plumber.

3) GPrestonian hasn’t commented here for awhile. Question to GPrestonian: Would that be because you’ve discovered “showers w/a chick?” They’re usually very time-consuming, and definitely not recommended for water conservation.

Thank you all for commenting.

Obama & MSM’s Double Standard

An editorial note in the Nov. 5 National Review (print, not available online) begins with a refrence to Sen. Barack Obama, and then highlights one aspect of MSM’s double standard when covering Ds and Rs.

Here’s NR’s note in full after which I make a few comments:

On the campaign trail, Obama told an enthusiastic audience that he hoped to be “an instrument of God.”

Fine and dandy. So should we all. But can you imagine if a conservative Republican had said that? Can you hear the cries of “Theocracy!”?

There are different roles for different parties. Speaking before the Democratic convention, Jesse Jackson can say, “God is not finished with me yet.” (He can also compare Dan Quayle to Herod – one of the lowest blows in recent political history.)

President Bill Clinton can wave his big, fat Bible at the cameras, as he enters and exits the Foundry United Methodist Church, the Rev. J. Phillip Wogeman, presiding.

But a conservative Republican had better keep his head down. There is separation of church and state in this country, you know. (emphasis NR’s)
NR could have said a lot more.

Democrats hold political rallies in churches and that’s just fine with most MSM. But if a group supporting a Republican candidate hands out campaign literature to people leaving a church, we get editorials suggesting the church may have jeopardized its tax-exempt status.

The MSM’s overwhelmingly Democratic bias is easily seen in its double standard treatment of Ds and Rs concerning religion.

Jena’s Myths & the Duke Hoax

Jena Times assistant editor Craig Franklin writing today in the Christian Science Monitor begins:

By now, almost everyone in America has heard of Jena, La., because they've all heard the story of the "Jena 6." White students hanging nooses barely punished, a schoolyard fight, excessive punishment for the six black attackers, racist local officials, public outrage and protests – the outside media made sure everyone knew the basics.

There's just one problem: The media got most of the basics wrong.

In fact, I have never before witnessed such a disgrace in professional journalism. Myths replaced facts, and journalists abdicated their solemn duty to investigate every claim because they were seduced by a powerfully appealing but false narrative of racial injustice.

I should know. I live in Jena. My wife has taught at Jena High School for many years. And most important, I am probably the only reporter who has covered these events from the very beginning.

The reason the Jena cases have been propelled into the world spotlight is two-fold: First, because local officials did not speak publicly early on about the true events of the past year, the media simply formed their stories based on one-side's statements – the Jena 6.

Second, the media were downright lazy in their efforts to find the truth. Often, they simply reported what they'd read on blogs, which expressed only one side of the issue.

The real story of Jena and the Jena 6 is quite different from what the national media presented. It's time to set the record straight.
Franklin then takes 12 media myths concerning Jena and provides information to refute them.

Franklin’s Myth 1 is The White-Only Tree. I’ll skip that one because I think even Jesse Jackson has stopped peddling it, just as he finally stopped peddling the Mangum-Nifong lies about the Duke lacrosse party.

But let’s take a look at what Franklin, the only journalist to report on the Jena events from the beginning through now says about Myth 7: The Schoolyard Fight, because Jackson and many in media are still peddling that one:
The event on Dec. 4, 2006 was consistently labeled a "schoolyard fight." But witnesses described something much more horrific.

Several black students, including those now known as the Jena 6, barricaded an exit to the school's gym as they lay in wait for Justin Barker to exit. (It remains unclear why Mr. Barker was specifically targeted.)

When Barker tried to leave through another exit, court testimony indicates, he was hit from behind by Mychal Bell. Multiple witnesses confirmed that Barker was immediately knocked unconscious and lay on the floor defenseless as several other black students joined together to kick and stomp him, with most of the blows striking his head.

Police speculate that the motivation for the attack was related to the racially charged fights that had occurred during the previous weekend.
In terms of how the people of Jena – black and white – were exploited by “rights activists” and most of the national media, the most inflammatory of the 12 myths is Myth 8: The Attack Is Linked to the Nooses.

About Myth 8, Franklin reports:
Nowhere in any of the evidence, including statements by witnesses and defendants, is there any reference to the noose incident that occurred three months prior. This was confirmed by the United States attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, Donald Washington, on numerous occasions.
No evidence to support a link between the nooses and the attack on Justin Barker? That’s familiar. There was no evidence to support the indictments of the white students in the Duke lacrosse case.

How do you explain travesties such as Jena and the Duke Hoax?

A major contributor to both travesties is this: many in the media and many “activists” and “civil rights leaders” seek to unfairly advantage one race at the expense of another.

Back to Franklin and Myth 10: Jena 6 as Model Youth.
While some members were simply caught up in the moment, others had criminal records. Bell had at least four prior violent-crime arrests before the December attack, and was on probation during most of this year.
Franklin’s entire article is here. It’s must reading for anyone seeking to get at the truth of what happened in Jena. It includes a link to a review of all the Jena events at – click on Chronological Order of Events.

Franklin’s closing paragraph includes this:
As with the Duke Lacrosse case, the truth about Jena will eventually be known. But the town of Jena isn't expecting any apologies from the media. They will probably never admit their error and have already moved on to the next "big" story.
I hope we learn more about what Franklin calls “the truth about Jena.”

I also hope we learn more about the truth of the Duke Hoax. The public still doesn’t know why, for example, the Raleigh News & Observer, which first reported “the Duke lacrosse rape” story, told readers the woman was “the victim” who had endured “an ordeal” that ended finally in “sexual violence.”

The N&O knew no later than March 24 the players had been cooperative with police but it withheld that news and instead promulgated what it knew was the lie that the team had refused to cooperate with police.

As for Jena getting any apologies from the media, Franklin’s right not to expect any even though they’re due.

But news organizations often do worse than not apologize for sloppy and sometimes deliberately false reporting.

Take the N&O as an example.

In an interview with the paper, the only one she gave to the press, the false accuser contradicted the DA’s story that she was the only one raped at the party. Instead, she claimed the second dancer at the party had also been sexually assaulted but couldn’t report it for fear of losing her job.

The N&O suppressed that news for 13 months, disclosing it only the day after the state attorney general had declared the three young men innocent.

Having done what I’ve cited in this post and much more to promote and sustain the crimes committed against the innocent Duke students, would you believe the N&O’s executive editor for news, its managing editor and its public editor now all say they are very proud of the N&O’s coverage?

There are some able, honest reporters and some trustworthy news organizations. But many journalist and news organizations do great harm to individuals, communities and our country. Jena and the Duke Hoax prove that.

The following posts document what I've said here concerning the N&O's Duke Hoax reporting, including portions of the N&O's reporting that were deliberately misleading and/or false.

Did the Raleigh N&O withhold news of the Duke captains' cooperation? ( 7/12/06)

Duke lacrosse: N&O's Mar. 25 story implodes (10/8/06)

AJR's Hoax article's biggest failing? (7/19/07)

The N&O and "Bullies" (7/28/07)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Churchill Series - Oct. 23, 2007

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

Readers Note: This post was first published in Jan. 2006.


I want to share an anecdote that reflects Churchill's care for the precise use of language, even under the most trying circumstances. I can't cite a source for it but I recall reading it in a reliable one; and I don't doubt that on the important points the anecdote is true.

So with the usual caution about memory, here's the anecdote:

Churchill was in his last years and visiting with friends in the South of France. After dinner, they went outside and sat quite awhile talking.

Darkness fell and a wind came up. Churchill's physician, Lord Charles Moran, urged Churchill to go inside but he wanted to stay outside and did.

Churchill awoke the next morning with fever, chills and severe bronchial congestion. Lord Moran feared he had pneumonia but told Churchill he thought it was a cold.

Moran added, "I fear you caught it sitting out so late on the porch."

Churchill, struggled to say something in response but Moran didn't catch it. So he bent closer to him and asked what he'd said.

"It's a portico, Charles, a portico."

“Rights-crazed” or “rights confused?”

I posted earlier today noting this is the 20th anniversary of the U. S. Senate’s vote to reject the nomination of Judge Robert Bork to sit on the Supreme Court.

In this post I want to share with you excerpts from an article, “Thanks a Lot,” Judge Bork wrote this past Spring. I first saw it in the Apr.16 National Review. It’s now available online here at After the excerpts I offer some comments.

Now Judge Bork. My comments follow below the star line

Once more the lunacies of America's rights-crazed culture are on display in our highest court--disguised, of course, as a serious civil-liberties issue.

A high school in Juneau, Alaska, released students from class to watch the 2002 Olympic Torch Relay. As the torch runner passed, Joseph Frederick, a senior and apparently an apprentice wisenheimer, attempted, along with some friends, to attract television cameras by unfurling a 14-foot banner with the words "BONG HITS 4 JESUS." Deborah Morse, the school principal, took the banner away and awarded Frederick a ten-day suspension.

Inevitably, he sued, alleging a violation of his First Amendment right to freedom of speech. The school board upheld Morse, as did a federal district court, but a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed.

The nine justices of the Supreme Court then accepted the case for review under its official title of Morse v. Frederick, though it will undoubtedly go down in history as "the great bong case."

There is a certain madcap disproportionality in all this.

An insignificant five-year-old fracas has now engrossed the time and energy of 13 federal judges as well as the principal and the school board. It is a truism that we live in a culture riddled and fragmented by ever-proliferating rights, but that this minor instance of school discipline should be treated as a crucial civil-rights issue suggests that we have lost our balance and even our sense of humor.

Deploying the federal judicial system in full regalia for the Morse-Frederick squabble is like hunting field mice with an elephant gun.

It would be merely laughable if it were not possible that basic principles of the First Amendment will be put in play and further deformed.

There is little consensus about the proper result in this case. Liberals and those hybrids known as libertarians generally favor the further expansion of the category of protected utterances. Conservatives can be found on both sides.

My own view is that Frederick's complaint should have been dismissed out of hand.

The speech clause took a wrong turn some time back, and, in cases like this, it very likely does more harm than good to both law and education […]

It should be unacceptable that judges who have inadequate knowledge of what took place some years ago issue rulings and then depart the scene, leaving others to bear the burden of the long-term outcomes. Justice Hugo Black's dissent in Tinker looks better and better. Black, a fierce advocate of free speech and expansive First Amendment protections, nevertheless wrote with considerable indignation that the Court had taken from educational officials "the power to control pupils." […]

Education in the United States is concededly in poor condition. There was a time when public schools did a far better job, and that time was characterized by school discipline without recourse to the ACLU and the new and burgeoning mass of constitutional rights.

I went for three years to a public high school where behavioral standards were maintained, at least during school hours. I was suspended for saying "Thanks a lot" to a teacher in a sarcastic tone. It never occurred to me or anyone else to go to court. And the result was good for the school, for the other students, and, not least, for me.

It is unfortunate in the extreme that law is being forced into every institution and social relationship.

When law attacks authorities within institutions, it weakens those institutions, deprives them of their integrity, and makes them less effective.

No doubt the obsession with rights has spread to the general population, which is all the more reason for the courts to step back and stop feeding the rights paranoia.

If the Supreme Court holds for Deborah Morse, no harm will be done to Joseph Frederick or the law, and a process of rethinking the First Amendment, and reinvigorating schools and other institutions, may begin. ( Early in this current term, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of Morse & the school board. – JinC )


With all respect to Judge Bork, I wish he'd said “rights-confused” instead of “rights-crazed.”

Millions of American’s who support in the name of free speech Joseph Frederick’s right to wave his “Bong” banner also support speech codes on college campuses.

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is invited to speak on Columbia’s campus while ROTC recruiters are banned from speaking there.

Social workers and school nurses can decide to take a 14-year-old for an abortion without telling the girl’s parents. But they can't give the girl an aspiran without parental consent.

And don't forget all those people who still think Crystal Mangum has a right to have her blatantly false charges taken so seriously that three white men she picked out at random should have to stand trial for multiple felonies?

Who doubts America has become “rights-confused?”

Bork’s entire article is here.

PBS Moral Equivalency

While researching for an unrelated post I came upon a page for a PBS NOW with David Brancassio program: “Politics & Economy – Selling War.”

It included the following (scroll down):


During World War II the word propaganda took on a more sinister tenor — due largely to the great emphasis placed on the creation of propaganda by the Third Reich, under the leadership of a Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels.

The United States called its own war propaganda program a "strategy of truth." The new Office of War Information was in charge of selling the war at home. The Office of Strategic Services concentrated on getting the Allied word out abroad. These campaigns defined the war as a classic battle between good and evil.


The very nature of the Cold War assured great reliance on propaganda by both sides. In the United States, efforts were spearheaded by the United States Information Agency and Radio Free Europe.

At the same time the Communist regimes put their best face forward with "official" images of smiling peasants and productive workers.
Yes, at PBS it’s Nazis, Communists and America, all putting “their best face forward.”

Folks, please think about what you’ve just read the next time you’re tempted to contribute to PBS.

Remembering Bork & Kennedy

Today is the 20th anniversary of the Senate’s rejection of Judge Robert Bork for a place on the U. S. Supreme Court.

Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy led the opposition to Bork. He’s a sample of the kinds of things Kennedy was shouting about Bork:

"Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, school children could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens of whom the judiciary is — and is often the only — protector of the individual rights that are at the heart of our democracy."
Kennedy said and did a lot worse but you get the idea.

Kennedy’s tactics and statements attacking Bork were such that “a Borking” is new understood to be the character assignation of a public figure with the intent of denying the person a position of public trust for which the person is well qualified.

Gary McDowell, a professor at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond writes in todays WJS:
Twenty years ago today the United States Senate voted to reject President Reagan's nomination of Judge Robert H. Bork to the Supreme Court.

The senators may have had every reason to believe that was the end of the story. However ugly it had been, however much time it had taken, Mr. Bork's defeat was only one more routine sacrifice to partisan politics. But time would prove wrong anyone who actually thought that.

The battle over Mr. Bork was politically transformative, its constitutional lessons enduring.

To many at the time (and still today) it was inconceivable that a man of Mr. Bork's professional accomplishments and personal character could be found unacceptable for a seat on the Court.

Warren Burger summed it up for many when he described Mr. Bork as simply the best qualified nominee in the former chief justice's own professional lifetime--a span of years that included the appointments of such judicial luminaries as Benjamin Cardozo, Hugo Black and Felix Frankfurter. Such praise was no empty exaggeration.

A former Yale law professor and U.S. Solicitor General, Mr. Bork was, at the time of his nomination, a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

When he was a circuit court judge, Mr. Bork's opinions not only were never overruled on appeal, but on several occasions his dissents were adopted by the Supreme Court as its majority view.

In an earlier day such an appointment would have been celebrated as adding breadth, depth and luster to the highest bench. Instead, the nominee faced a mauling by those who set out not only to destroy him personally but to discredit all that he stood for as a jurist.
There’s more to McDowell’s op-ed. You can read it here.

I’m not sure which way history will head in the next few hundred years. Traditional values and the love of country without which America can’t survive and prosper are today under fierce attack from without and within.

If we lose the America which most of us love but take for granted, the people who will then be in charge of writing history will regard October 23, 1987 as a great day and Ted Kennedy as its hero, just as many Democrats do now.

Butler on Drinking

Duke senior Kristin Butler’s weekly Chronicle columns have earned her an appreciative and growing readership.

Butler writes today about drinking at Duke and in Durham. Here are excerpts from her column, followed by my commentary.

At present, Durham has just 65 days of water left in municipal reservoirs. Given that forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are predicting a La Nina year with "abnormally dry" conditions (read: no rain) through February, our community could be in for a very unpleasant-not to mention thirsty-winter.

Of course, there is a "Level IV" drought blanketing much of the Southeast this fall. Nevertheless, Durham's situation remains exceptional in several regards.

With just 65 days of water, we are in even worse shape than other large cities in the region-including Raleigh, which has 107 days left, and metro Atlanta, where officials are counting on 75 more days. . . .

This is the second time we've had a severe drought in three years (and the third time we've been on water restrictions since 2002), yet officials have largely relied on what Duke psychology professor Mark Leary called "eagerness to please... and strong need for social acceptance" to curb residential usage through summer and early fall.

Gov. Mike Easley is now calling on residents to view a "bit of mud on the car or patches of brown on the lawns" as a "badge of honor" and to eliminate water use not "essential to public health and safety."

But no one, Easley included, wants to support the "draconian" measures required to enforce those suggestions.

That's why, given the acute shortage we face right now, it's particularly disheartening to hear people like Durham Deputy Water Management Director Vicki Westbrook insist "we don't want to use scare tactics to force [conservation]."

On the contrary, a healthy dose of fear is just what this region needs. When officials publicly begged residents to voluntarily reduce water usage by 30 percent last month, consumption fell by only 16 percent.

That disappointing response has hastened the introduction of tougher regulations, but it also calls into question whether Durham residents really understand the gravity of our situation.
There’s a lot more to Butler’s column. You can read it all here.


Here are a few easy water-saving tips more people ignore - - -

Before brushing your teeth, fill a plastic glass with water and shut the water off while you're brushing. Rinse your mouth using the water in the cup.

You can easily cook many vegetables in the microwave with just an ounce or two of water. Chop carrots, place in a microwave-safe glass dish, add a bit of water, season as you like, cover and cook.

Microwaves don’t all heat with the same temperature, so check the cooking as you go along.

What are your water-saving ideas?

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Churchill Series – Oct. 22, 2007

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

Throughout the WW II Mollie Panter-Downes served as The New Yorker's London correspondent. Her fortnightly reports from her native England appeared in The New Yorrker as "Letters from London." They were later edited by William Shawn and published as London Was Notes: 1939-1945 (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1971).

Two days after Churchill became Prime Minister on May 10, 1940 Panter-Downes' "Letter from London" included the following:

Events are moving so fast that England acquired a news Premier almost absent-mindedly, without any excessive jubilation from Winston Churchill’s supporters, who had been fearful that even at the last moment Mr. Chamberlain would hang onto the office, since he was said to feel, in his mystical Berchtesgaden manner, that it was his sacred duty to lead the nation to ultimate victory. …

In Winston Churchill, people feel that they have a leader who understands exactly what risks should be taken and what kind of adversary they are up against. The iron of appeasement has burned too deeply into British souls for them ever to be quite sure again of Chamberlain on that second point.

Diehard Tories, who once looked on Mr. Churchill as “a dangerous fellow,” now passionately proclaim that he is just what the country needs. It’s paradoxical but true that the British, for all their suspicious dislike of brilliance, are beginning to think that they’d be safer with a bit of dynamite around. (pgs. 55-56)
We can look back now and know that Panter-Downes was right about Chamberlain wanting to hang on to office. After agreeing on May 9th to resign the Premiership, he told aides on the morning of the 10th that in view of the invasion of the West the Germans had just launched, he didn’t think it would be good to change the government at such a critical time.

Chamberlain was soon persuaded that the Commons felt otherwise; he’d receive a riotous reception in the House if he didn’t leave office as planned.

Panter-Downes doesn’t try to hide her contempt for Chamberlain and “his mystical Berchtesgaden manner,” does she?

I’ll take issue with her on one thing she says: “the British, for all their suspicious dislike of brilliance.”

I’ll counter her with Chaucer, William Byrd, Shakespeare, Newton, Milton, and Harvey to name just six.

Burness Leaving Duke

At Duke News today an announcement which begins:

John F. Burness, Duke University’s senior vice president for public affairs and government relations since 1991 and the guiding force behind the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership that helped strengthen Duke’s ties with the local community, will retire on June 30, 2008.

Duke President Richard H. Brodhead has appointed L. Gregory Jones, dean of Duke Divinity School, to chair a 12-person search committee of faculty, trustees, administrators and alumni to identify candidates to succeed Burness.
The rest of the announcement is here.

President Brodhead and Burness both say the retirement was planned two years ago, which means before Chrystal Mangum and Mike Nifong started lying about Duke students.

I’ll say more about Burness tonight. I’m off to a meeting now.

Hat tip: BN

A serious threat for Dems

is Bobby Jindal, the articulate, well-informed, 36-year-old, Republican congressman who’s just been elected Governor of Louisiana.

From the AP:

Changing Louisiana's reputation for corruption would do more than just make over its image, Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal said Sunday: It could help the state attract businesses and win federal aid for hurricane recovery.

The Republican congressman, a day after his historic win in an election that featured a dozen candidates for governor, pressed ahead with his campaign pledge, saying in an interview with The Associated Press that one of his first acts will be to call a special legislative session to reform ethics laws.

"I think we're setting the bar too low when we say, 'Look, isn't it great that we haven't had a statewide elected official go to jail recently?' " Jindal said. …

The son of immigrants on Saturday won more than 50 percent of the vote in a primary election to make him Louisiana's first nonwhite governor since Reconstruction and the nation's first Indian-American chief executive. …
Some bio info from the NY Times:
… Piyush Jindal was born on June 10, 1971, in Baton Rouge to Hindu parents who had come to the United States six months before so his mother could pursue a graduate degree in nuclear physics at Louisiana State University.

His father was an engineer from the Punjab region of India, the only one of nine siblings to attend high school. The younger Jindal, growing up in Baton Rouge, was not expected to come home from school with anything less than 100 on tests.

Public high school in Baton Rouge was followed by Brown, where Mr. Jindal was Phi Beta Kappa, and a conversion to Roman Catholicism that Mr. Jindal has described in transformative terms. “I draw my definition of integrity from my Christian faith,” Mr. Jindal said during the campaign. “In my faith, you give 100 percent of yourself to God.”

“But we live in a pluralistic state,” he was careful to add.

After Oxford, a well-paid stint at the Washington consultants McKinsey and Company was followed by an interview for the job of secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals with the newly elected Republican governor of Louisiana, Mike Foster, in 1995.

Mr. Jindal was 24; it was the biggest department in state government, and it was in serious financial trouble. He got the job despite Mr. Foster’s initial skepticism, made cuts and restored the department to financial stability; Louisiana still has one of the highest percentages of uninsured, however.

More high-level jobs followed in quick succession: chairman of a bipartisan Medicare reform commission in Washington, head of the statewide University of Louisiana system, assistant secretary in the Department of Health and Human Services under Mr. Bush.

He and his wife, Supriya, returned to Louisiana to so he could run for governor in 2003. The Jindals have three young children, Celia, Shaan and Slade.
The Democrats have lost a gubernatorial seat to the Republicans. But neither the AP nor the NYT speculate on what that might mean for ’08.

But you can be sure had Jindal lost instead of pulling an amazing 54% of the vote in a 12-candidate field, we’d be hearing a lot about “one more indicator of public dissatisfaction with President Bush and the Republicans.”

Jindal presents a very threat to Dems and their MSM allies. The last thing they want happening is a popular and successful Republican who’s also a member of a minority group emerging on the national scene.

I predict the Dems and most MSM will move early and hard to inflict what political damage they can on Jindal.

The AP story is here; the NYT story here.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Duke Now Quiz #1

Ready for your first Duke Now quiz?

Good. Let's begin.

On March 29, 2006 The Chronicle published a story headlined:

Police release 911 tapes, players deny sex of any kind with dancer at party
The story included this:
Donna Lisker, the director of [Duke’s] Women's Center, said Duke is reaching out to its neighbor school, inviting NCCU students to Wednesday night's Take Back the Night march-an annual rally intended to bring awareness of sexual assault and empowerment to women.
On April 2, 2006 the Raleigh News & Observer published a letter to the editor which included this:
As one of the organizers of the March 29 Take Back the Night (TBTN) march and speak-out at Duke University, I want to clarify that we did not plan, nor do we endorse, the distribution of names and pictures of members of the Duke men's lacrosse team.

The distribution of the pictures, the targeting of the lacrosse team, and the violence implicit in the defacement of the pictures are nothing less than violations of the space that TBTN exists to create.

The event is neither a protest of the kind we've witnessed recently, a forum for accusation nor a place to target and defame. That some attendees tried to make it so is saddening and not at all in the spirit of the event.
The “pictures” the letter writer refers to were copies of the “Vigilante” poster containing the face photos of 43 white Duke students who were targeted by Duke and Durham “activists.”

The “activists” had previously rallied around a “CASTRATE” banner and made threats against the Duke students.

Duke’s faculty Group of 88 subsequently thanked the “activists” for “not waiting.”

Now our quiz question:

The letter writer condemning the “activists” and making it clear what they did had no place at the TBTN rally was:

1) Women Center director Donna Lisker, whose appointment as associate dean of undergraduate education has just been announced.

2) Dean of students Sue Wasiolek

3) Vice president for student affairs Larry Moneta

4) None of the above

If you answered 1) Lisker, 2) Wasiolek or 3) Moneta, you don’t understand how things are now at Duke.

The letter writer was Geoffrey Lorenz who’s not a Duke administrator. I suspect he’s not even a Duke employee.

Would you like to learn more about Donna Lisker and her work as a member of Duke president Richard Brodhead's "team" following Brodhead's and BOT chair Bob Steel's embrace of Crystal Mangum’s and Mike Nifong’s lies?

Then take a look at an ourstanding post by KC Johnson here.

KC’s post tells us all a lot about Duke now.

N&O’s Stark Editorial Silence

On April 10, 2005 the liberal/leftist Raleigh News & Observer ran an editorial titled "Judges Under Fire." Here’s part of it:

[Senate leader Bill Frist] has drawn a line between himself and firebrands such as Rep. Tom DeLay, the GOP leader in the House, and DeLay's fellow Texan, Sen. John Cornyn. They have talked in terms of retribution, or unspecified kinds of judicial accountability, after federal judges at three levels chose against intervening in the Terri Schiavo case. …

Cornyn, who once sat on the Texas Supreme Court, went so far as to wonder aloud if recent court-related violence could be connected to the public's frustration with a judiciary that is not sufficiently accountable. …
The N&O, without ever quoting anything Cornyn and DeLay actually said, went on to call their statements “inflammatory” and again remind readers of violence directed at judges.

The editorial ended by castigating the two Republicans for “raining fire and brimstone on judicial independence.” According to the N&O, the “anti-judge rhetoric” was “damaging to the American justice system.”

I thought when I read the editorial that it was motivated by the N&O’s intense Democratic partisanship. I hadn’t read anything Cornyn and DeLay had said that could fairly be linked to recent killings of judges.

Everything each man had said was well within the bounds of what’s tradionally been accepted as part of our public discourse.

Cornyn and DeLay did talk about and encourage citizens to vote for or against a judge based on how they felt about h/her record.

But that doesn’t damage “the American justice system;” it affirms it.

The N&O itself at each judicial election picks and chooses among judicial candidates. It criticizes the careers and decisions of many of them; and urges readers to vote against some while voting for those on the N&O’s “approved” list.

Then the N&O turns around and attacks Republicans for doing the same thing.

That kind of double standard is just what many, me included, have come to expect from the Democratic N&O.

So I guess I should have expected that when Democratic House member Pete Stark said on the House floor,
"You don't have money to fund the war or children, but you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the President's amusement,"
that the N&O would say nothing critical of him.

Afterall, President Bush is a Republican. Democrats routinely equate him to Hitler. That being the case, I guess the N&O editors could read what Stark said and decide it was nothing more than mainstream Democratic rhetoric.

Still, I’d hoped, given the inflammatory nature of Stark’s attack and the high degree of threat to his life every President faces, that the N&O would put aside its partisanship and say something critical of Stark.

But it hasn’t so far.

Does that surprise any of you, especially Democrats, reading this?

Stark “refreshing?” No, he’s dangerous

Speaking on the House floor Thursday concerning the vote to override President Bush’s veto of the SCHIP funding bill, Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) shouted:

"You don't have money to fund the war or children, but you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the President's amusement."
Posting at NewsBusters, Brad Wilmouth reported [excerpt]:
On Thursday's "Countdown," MSNBC host Keith Olbermann suggested that President Bush "hates" kids because of the President's veto of the SCHIP funding bill, as the "Countdown" host teased the show: "Why does President Bush hate American kids?"

Olbermann also suggested that it was "refreshing" to see Democratic Congressman Pete Stark refuse to apologize for accusing President Bush of gaining "amusement" at U.S. troops having "their heads blown off" as he asked of guest Jonathan Alter [, a liberal Newsweek columnist]: "Did you not, in that, obviously he went to extremes there, but was there not something refreshing about his at least refusal to back down when somebody came after him?" (Transcript follows)…

OLBERMANN: And yet, did you not, in that, obviously he went to extremes there, but was there not something refreshing about his at least refusal to back down when somebody came after him? Or is the Democratic leadership going to say to him, "No, you're going to have to back down to some degree"?

ALTER: No, I think he should back down. I mean, you've got to look at the way, say, Pelosi handles it, versus the way, you know, Stark handles it. You can't say, look, the President is misguided, he's been a terrible President, but he's a human being, and he doesn't like to see people killed, and to say that he does is just silly and counterproductive, and the best thing for him to do would be to apologize and move on. …
So Olbermann finds it “refreshing” that Stark refused to back down?

A few comments:

I remember people rightfully noting a climate of increased danger for the President stirred by, among other things, a Nov. 22, 1963 Dallas newspaper ad which the NY Times reported “bitterly attacked [President Kennedy’s] record."

Olbermann make’s clear he’s willing to tolerate, even encourage, vicious and inflammatory attacks on an American President, or at least on the current President.

Yes, Olbermann says Stark’s statement was “extreme” but in the next breath he reveals, unintentionally for sure, that he’s not only willing to accept a House member attacking the President as Stark did, he’s glad Stark hasn’t retracted his attack.

Olbermann finds that "refreshing."

By the way, it was a member of the media who asked Stark if he would retract his statement.

As of today, I don't know of any Democratic House member who's said Stark should retract his attack and apologize to the President and the House.

If there's a Dem House member out there who's called for Stark to retract and apologize, please let me know. I'll be glad to post about it.

Regarding Alter, his remarks fall in the categories of “common decency” and “responsible adult.”

But I wish Alter had gone further and called for the House to censure Stark for his reckless and dangerous statement.

I’l like to hear what you think but one caution: I hope no one offers the “Pete Stark’s just like that and does it all the time” excuse for overlooking what Stark did.

Many drunk drivers are “just like that” and do “it all the time.” But that doesn’t excuse them. So why should the same arguments excuse Stark?

The House censuring Stark would be letting him off easy for what he did.

As well as censuring him, his fellow House Democrats ought to tell Stark if he does anything again close to what he’s just done, he’ll be stripped of his membership on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

Brad Wilmouth's entire post is here and well worth a read.