Saturday, December 08, 2007

Questions for Professor Munger

Readers Note: It will help you understand the letter which follows to Duke's Political Science Department Chair and professor Michael Munger if you've read Munger's letter to The Chronicle, my posts here and here and those posts' threads, and Munger's post at his blog (not a Duke site) and its thread.


Dear Professor Munger:

I appreciate your commenting at your blog and on JinC threads regarding your Chronicle letter responding to critics of the harassment of former presidential aide Karl Rove during his recent Duke appearance.

You say (on thread):

If I had had Karl come to my classroom, you can bet that I would have shut any protesters up immediately. And anyone who shouted insults would have been punished.

A public lecture is different. Protests and shouts are part of the show, as long as they are not too intrusive. And these protests and shouts were NOT, in my opinion, intrusive at all.
I assume a principal reason, if not the principal reason, you’d not tolerate protests and shouts in your classroom is because they’d interfere with the presentation of information, including opinion, and orderly discussion of same.

Why shouldn’t the same conditions hold for a public lecture at a university?

Why shouldn’t the rest of the student body, the faculty and others have the same chance to hear Rove under the same reasonable circumstances you’d enforce in your classroom?

Why could they only hear and interact with Rove and he with them in the face of harrassment which you justify as part of "the show?"

Universities frequently spend ten of thousands of dollars to bring speakers such as Rove to their campuses, we’re told for educative purposes.

Why not treat the appearances of such people as academic events?

I hope you come to agree that others at the University and those who traveled to Duke for the event should have had the chance to hear and question Rove under circumstances similar to those you’d have assured for your own students.

Further along on the same thread you made a second comment which included this:
The context of my [Chronicle] letter may matter. Some people at Duke had called for the shouters to be brought up on charges of violating the honor code. I think that is wrong, and said so. That was my point: no criminal charges should be brought against people who shouted "liar!"
I don’t know enough about what constitutes an honor code violation in the circumstances we’re talking about to comment on that matter. Also, I’m not clear as to why criminal charges might be involved.

I placed your comment in this post because you felt it was important to offer that explanation, and I wanted to give it more attention than it would get on the thread.

You mention I said your standard for civility was too low.

I hope I was clear that I was not speaking about your personal conduct.

What concerns me about your letter and some of your subsequent comments is that you are, IMO, setting the bar for acceptable public conduct on campus much too low.

For example, when you say, as you did in your letter, the Rove evening was “as close to flawless as you are going to get with a controversial speaker.”

The evening was certainly much better than the recent event at Emory during which administrators and police, fearful they could no longer assure the safety of David Horowitz, convinced him to break off his speech and leave the campus.

And as regards the invitation to Rove, almost all Duke faculty showed themselves more tolerant than the University of California system faculty who recently pressured the Board of Regents into cancelling their invitation to former Harvard President Larry Summers to be their dinner speaker.

But just because something is not the worst or near worst of its kind, doesn’t make it acceptable or deserving of praise.

I’m one of those concerned by the growing intolerance, including violent acts, on many campuses; and by the threat that intolerance poses to something both wonderful and vulnerable: The Academy.

I hope you decide to respond to this post. If you do, I’ll put your response on the main page as a stand-alone post with only a brief explanatory introduction added.


John in Carolina

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Churchill Series – Dec. 7, 2007

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

The relationship between Churchill and Charles de Gaulle was complex to say the least; and I won’t “go there” today.

But I will share with you the following from the Library of Congress online interactive site developed as part of the library’s Churchill and America exhibit examining “Churchill’s life-long relationship with the United States of America – the nation he called ‘the Great Republic.’”

Charles de Gaulle, the Free French leader with whom Churchill often found it difficult to work, was nonetheless an admirer of the British Prime Minister. With this cover letter to Churchill's daughter-in-law, Pamela, de Gaulle gave a book of drawings to her one-year-old son, Winston S. Churchill.

De Gaulle expressed the wish that in the future the young Churchill would think of the gift's donor as a "sincere admirer of his grandfather" and Britain's faithful ally in the greatest war in history.
Here’s de Gaulle’s letter to the grandchild's mother:
Dear Madame:

I permit myself to send you an old book of pictures of Marlborough for your son Winston. It is about the only thing I brought with me from France.

When the young Winston Churchill later looks at these Caran d'Ache sketches he will possibly think about a French general who was, in history's greatest war, the sincere admirer of his grandfather and the loyal ally of his country.

Kindly accept, dear Madame, my very respectful regards.
The marriage of Churchill’s only son Randolph ended in divorce in 1946.

Churchill and Clementine maintained good relations with their grandson’s mother, Pamala Digby, who later became a naturalized American citizen. She married the diplomat and former New York State governor W. Averell Harriman. President Clinton appointed her Ambassador to France, in which position she served until her death in 1997.

Both Churchill and Clementine were active grandparents who saw their grandson often, enjoyed his company and took pride in his youthful accomplishments. For his part, young Winston was a devoted and loving grandson.

I hope you all have a nice weekend. Those of you in snowy areas be especially careful.


Posting Resumes Sat. Dec. 8 at 2 PM.

I promised to post tonight responding to Duke Professor Michael Munger's Chronicle letter and subsequent comments.

I also said I'd post in response to KC Johnson's invitation to readers at his blog to offer questions regarding Until Proven Innocent, the excellent book he co-aurhtored with Stuart Taylor.

I'll not be doing either.

That's because my wife and Ihave had one of the best kinds of holiday surprises: out of town friends calling and saying, "We here and can come by if that's all right."

Of course it is.

So blogging is delayed until tomorrow.

Thanks for your understanding.


Talking to Regulars & Commenters

It’s been quite a week here at JinC, hasn’t it?

First, an expression of appreciation to all of you whose thoughtful comments free of personal attacks induced just a thought (jat) to expose him/herself via troolish comments.

With troll now ID’ed, please ignore troll and I’ll delete as soon as I see trool comments.

As often happens about the time a troll is ID'ed an anon shows up and guess what?

Yes, trool in disguise.

I’ve deleted two of those.

A few other thoughts re: troll(s) before I move on to other things.

I’ll use part of one of your comments (in italics) to help me:

I'm sure he is enjoying all this undeserved attention.Meanwhile, he is a distraction for those of us who have been engaged in dialogue on this and the DIW and other blogsites for many months.


Nobody as brilliant as Joan Foster needs to be wasting her superb wit and incisive intellect with this dimwit.

I prefer once we ID a troll that we refer to trool as trool. And dimwit is a touch strong for a mellow place like JinC. And as for brilliant, so many of you look that way to me and I'm not saying that just because I want you to let me copy your Trig homework and do the French exercise for me.

Let him have his tantrum, but don't let's sidetrack from the reasonable dialogue that hopefully will keep us searching for truth and justice.

Wise words I know just about all of us agree with.

There is MUCH yet to be done. The LAX three were just the bait that revealed the demons. I'm glad they escaped with their freedom, and their good names intact, but the sewer still exists. If JAT can't figure it by now, he will never figure.


And once more, thank you.

Future activities.

Barring something that breaks in the meantime, I plan to get two posts up later tonight.

One will respond further to Professor Munger's Chronicle letter and his comments here on the threads. (after I posted on the thread at his blog yesterday, he came on the thread with a comment that included a graceful acknowledgment of some of what I’d said.)

The other post will be a response to KC Johnson’s invitation at DiW to folks to ask question about Until Proven Innocent. He’ll respond to some of them Monday.

I’ll definitely ask him why there’s no mention of Anne Blythe in UPI. Also, when did investigative reporter Joe Neff first learn about Mangum’s claims in the 3/24/06 interview that the second dancer also was raped and that the second dancer would do anything for money?
You’ll recall Neff didn’t report that information until 4/12/07, the day after NC AG Cooper declared the three young men innocent.

There are some other posts in the works for next week. One has to do with how the media and Al Sharpton use each other to mutual advantage. I also plan posts making it clear things will get “uglier and Dukier” in the Hoax case.

That’s enough from me for now. I'd like to hear what your thinking.

I’ll also put up another of these Talking posts Sunday.

This was done rush-rush and is unproofed.


The Guy's Really a Blogger

Mike Williams is one of the best bloggers I know.

Only he doesn't blog because he doesn't want the hassles bloggers get.

But Mike sends friends electronic letters which are really blog posts. Today I'm going to share some of his most recent letter with you.

Everthing which follows is Mike's except for a few paranthaticals. I come in at the end with a few words.

Now Mike - - -
Yesterday a 19 year-old male, armed with a rifle, opened fire in an Omaha, Nebraska mall. He killed eight people and wounded five others (two critically)before taking his own life.

The mall is a gun-free zone, just like the Trolley Square complex in Utah and the Virginia Tech campus.

[University of Tennessee Law Professor and Instapundit blogger] Glenn Reynolds comments:

It seems to me that we've reached the point at which a facility that bans firearms, making its patrons unable to defend themselves, should be subject to lawsuit for its failure to protect them. The pattern of mass shootings in "gun free" zones is well-established at this point, and I don't see why places that take the affirmative step of forcing their law-abiding patrons to go unarmed should get off scot-free….
Meanwhile, Bob Owens offers some timely advice:
You should never have to shop in fear, but yesterday's senseless murders…remind us that violence can happen almost anywhere. Because it can, it isn't a bad idea to have an exit strategy in the back of your mind.
In the very unlikely event that you find yourself in a situation like that in Nebraska yesterday or previous shootings this year in malls in Salt Lake City, Kansas City, and Douglasville, Georgia, there are simple actions you can take to increase your chances of getting out unharmed….
It’s a good read if you have some time.

By the way, did you get a chance to watch that Eric Cantor video yesterday? [You can view it here at JinC. It's great fun unless you're a Dem without a sense of humor. ]

If so, you’ll have noticed one of the shots he aims at Pelosi involves the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). (If you’re not exactly sure what the AMT is, you can read all about it here.) So now from this morning’s WaPo we learn:
Eleven months after adopting stringent new rules aimed at reining in the federal deficit, the Senate last night shrugged off its pledge of fiscal rectitude and overwhelmingly approved a measure to spare millions of families from the growing reach of the alternative minimum tax without providing an offsetting tax increase. The Senate's 88 to 5 vote blew a $50 billion hole in the Democrats' promise not to pass any spending or tax measure that would add to the deficit. The outcome brought a furious response from conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats in the House, who assailed the Senate and vowed to block passage of any tax measure that would add a cent to the federal debt. "We run for reelection every two years. They run every six years," fumed Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.). "Don't try to tell me the Senate can't take a tough vote." Despite the heavy toll the AMT exacts on some middle-class taxpayers, Congress has been loath to repeal it outright because that would leave a trillion-dollar hole in the federal budget over 10 years….
The problem is Paygo, a new “rule” in Congress that requires “spending or tax changes to not add to the federal deficit.” In other words, legislation must be revenue neutral or countered with budget offsets. So back to the WaPo:
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) scrambled last night to come up with a new set of tax increases and loophole closures that could win Republican support. But Rep. Jim McCrery (La.), the tax-writing panel's senior Republican, said Rangel need not bother. "It's not going to happen. It's not going anywhere," he said. That could leave the fate of paygo to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Blue Dog leaders said the speaker personally pledged to them on Wednesday that she will not bring any bill to the House floor that would add to the deficit. If she does, 31 Blue Dog Democrats have vowed to vote against the measure.

Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.), a leading Blue Dog, even said that he would rather see the alternative minimum tax balloon this year then see his party bend on its vow of fiscal discipline. But if Pelosi bowed to pressure and brought an unpaid-for AMT bill to the floor, it would almost certainly pass over such opposition, House Democratic leaders conceded. Overwhelming support from Republicans, coupled with Democratic defections, would probably get the bill to President Bush's desk for a promised signature….
Captain Ed Morrissey comments:
The Democrats in this article act as though they have only one choice in dealing with the AMT, which is to play a shell game and find another way to tax Americans. Even the Republicans in the article, gleeful over forcing Democrats to violate Paygo, seem to forget that other options exist for fiscal responsibility. At Heading Right, I remind Congress that the budget "hole" supposedly blown by the AMT fix amounts to a whopping 1.67% of the federal spending plan for next year. Congressional anguish over fixing the ludicrously broken AMT apparently has clouded their minds so much that they've forgotten about the option to reduce spending 1.67% instead of jacking up taxes by a much larger percentage.
Dafydd ab Hugh agrees:
Why not just cut $50 billion in spending from the anticipated $2.9 trillion federal budget? That's a trim of just 1.7%... which doesn't seem so terribly out of reach. Even if we exempt the $717.6 billion in spending related to the military, the war on global hirabah, veterans' affairs, and NASA, that still leaves cutting the remaining $2.18 trillion by only 2.3%.

We can achieve that goal by cutting all other budgets by 2.3% across the board, or by mandating the cut by department and allowing each department head to pick his own victims. Republicans should be happy, because we're not simply robbing small investors to pay people with a lot of kids who live in California. And I'm sure Democrats will be ecstatic over the spending cut, because, as they say, they're only thinking of is fiscal responsibility! All right, problem solved….
Folks, this is JinC back now.

"Democrats will be ecstatic over the spending cut, because, as they say, they're only thinking of is fiscal responsibility!"

Democrats ecstatic over a spending cut?

I would never have believed that unless I'd read it at a blog.

But if a spending cut is what it will take, then the Republicans need to step up and do their part to make sure the Dems get their “ecstasy fix.”

A big hat tip to Mike Williams.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Churchill Series - Dec. 6, 2007

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

Military leaders have often been critical of civilian leadership. Some were retired but others made public criticisms while on active duty: Generals MacArthur, Patton and Stilwell come immediately to mind.

In his biography of WW II Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, Forrest Pogue recounts an instructive and amusing episode that relates to military-civilian leadership conflicts and how in at least one important instance conflict was avoided.

In late December 1941 Britain and the U. S. agreed that the Chiefs of Staff of the two nations’ service branches would form a combined group which would set war strategy, identify and prioritize major military operations, and allocate resources. Most WW II historians agree the group, The Combined Chiefs of Staff, preformed admirably.

But the group had many sharp and sometimes angry differences regarding what to do when and how. Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke called a heated, three hour-long argument they had “the Mother and Father of all rows.” At one meeting of that sort things got so hot the Generals and Admirals and Field Marshals and Air Marshals could agree on only one thing: it wasn’t good for the Allied cause for them to all be in the same room at that moment.

So they decided to break and return later.

During the break Field Marshal Sir John Dill, who for much of the war served as liaison officer for the two staffs, went back and forth between the groups with the same message for both: If the chiefs couldn’t settle their differences and draw up a document they could all initial, then “they will get to decide.”

Dill’s message had a great effect because, as one of the chiefs later put it, “We all knew what a hash they could make of things.”

When the Combined Chiefs resumed to their meeting, they worked more cooperatively and achieved agreement on a document they all initialed. The document was then passed on so “they” could initial it “FDR” and “WSC.”

Bush, CNN and the latest NIE

Following a failed assassination attempt on Indonesian President Sukarno in 1957, a National Review editorial comment began: "The attempted assassination of Sukarno last week had all the earmarks of a CIA operation. Everyone in the room was killed except Sukarno."

Then there was CIA director George Tenet who, according to the Washington Post, told President Bush it was a “slam-dunk” Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs.

And then there’s this CNN story using the latest National Intelligence Estimate to replay the “Bush knew and didn’t tell us” slime some Dems often use.

CNN’s “news report” begins:

President Bush was told in August that Iran's nuclear weapons program "may be suspended," the White House said Wednesday, which seemingly contradicts the account of the meeting given by Bush Tuesday.President Bush wasn't given specifics in the August meeting, his press secretary says. . . .

The new account from [press secretary] Perino seems to contradict the president's version of his August conversation with McConnell and raised new questions about why Bush continued to warn the American public about a threat from Iran two months after being told a new assessment was in the works. . . .

The entire CNN story is here.

So we seem to have, CNN says, “new questions about why Bush continued to warn the American public about a threat from Iran two months after being told a new assessment was in the works, do we?


Why would the President continue to warn about Iran when he knew he’d soon be getting a new NIE estimate from some of the same people who not so long ago gave him a “slam-dunk” assurance on Iraq’s WMDs?

The question sounds like something Sen. Harry Reid, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the congressional Democrats will want to investigate.

If they do, I hope they take a look at Thomas Joscelyn’s Weekly Standard post which begins:
As many recognize, the latest NIE on Iran’s nuclear weapons program directly contradicts what the U.S. Intelligence Community was saying just two years previously. And it appears that this about-face was very recent. How recent?
Consider that on July 11, 2007, roughly four or so months prior to the most recent NIE’s publication, Deputy Director of Analysis Thomas Fingar gave the following testimony before the House Armed Services Committee (emphasis added):
Iran and North Korea are the states of most concern to us. The United States’ concerns about Iran are shared by many nations, including many of Iran’s neighbors. Iran is continuing to pursue uranium enrichment and has shown more interest in protracting negotiations and working to delay and diminish the impact of UNSC sanctions than in reaching an acceptable diplomatic solution. We assess that Tehran is determined to develop nuclear weapons--despite its international obligations and international pressure. This is a grave concern to the other countries in the region whose security would be threatened should Iran acquire nuclear weapons.

This paragraph appeared under the subheading: "Iran Assessed As Determined to Develop Nuclear Weapons." And the entirety of Fingar’s 22-page testimony was labeled "Information as of July 11, 2007." No part of it is consistent with the latest NIE, in which our spooks tell us Iran suspended its covert nuclear weapons program in 2003 "primarily in response to international pressure" and they "do not know whether (Iran) currently intends to develop nuclear weapons."

The inconsistencies are more troubling when we realize that, according to the Wall Street Journal, Thomas Fingar is one of the three officials who were responsible for crafting the latest NIE. The Journal cites "an intelligence source" as describing Fingar and his two colleagues as "hyper-partisan anti-Bush officials." (The New York Sun drew attention to one of Fingar’s colleagues yesterday.)

I hope you all take a look at the rest of Joscelyn’s post which asks some very important questions CNN and much of the rest of MSM are ignoring or underreporting.

Don't Miss This One Unless

Folks, the You Tube clip below has been going around the Net; and has lots of people laughing.

Caution: It's not for Dems who lack a sense of humor.

On the other hand, I've never heard House Speaker Nancy Pelosi make more sense than she does in this short video.

I'll be interested to know what you think.

Prof. Munger’s “ interesting comparison”

Yesterday I posted Duke Prof OK With Rove's Treatment.

That post contained Duke Political Science Chair and professor Michael Munger’s Chronicle letter concerning former presidential assistant Karl Rove appearance at Duke and my comment on Munger’s letter.

Subsequently Munger commented on the Duke Prof OK With Rove's Treatment thread.

Munger also posted at his own non-Duke blog here. His post includes links to his Chronicle letter and it’s thread, my post and it thread, and another blog where he commented in advance of Rove’s Duke appearance.

I responded a short while ago at Munger’s blog to the following with which he concludes his post:

Some thoughts:

1. The internet has become a place where a lot of people are sure they know things that they don't know.

2. Then they feel entitled, even obliged, to act on that knowledge.

None of this discourse is very enlightening. But to see such a weak, everyday argument (people should get to listen, interruptions aren't that big a problem) attacked with such vitriol from both sides.... Interesting.

Dear Professor Munger:


I’m John in Carolina

I agree the Internet is “a place where a lot of people are sure they know things that they don't know.”

And that’s true of any other place where groups of people gather.

The Internet is also a place where many informed and wise people express themselves, something which isn’t true of all places where people gather.

And yes, as you say people on the Internet who are wrong but certain they’re right often "feel entitled, even obliged, to act.” But so do such people everywhere.

Regarding the particular collection of Internet commentary to which you link, I don’t agree “none of [that] discourse is very enlightening.”

I found your Chronicle letter, for instance, enlightening as did many others.

And while some of the comments on The Chronicle thread were ad hominems or well meant but not well thought out, others struck me as thoughtful and containing reasonable and important criticism of some of the things you said.

I plan to cross post this comment with an introduction at my blog that'll include links to your post here and your Chronicle letter.

I also plan to post this evening or tomorrow on some of the comments you’ve made on the JinC thread.

Finally, while I don’t agree with some of the comments you’ve made – for example, your calling my consideration of the standards that ought to apply in a university classroom and at a talk such as Rove’s “silly” - I do appreciate your willingness to engage in discussion as do just about all JinC readers.

Thank you.


John in Carolina

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Churchill Series – Dec. 5, 2007

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

Churchill always understood what the confrontation between Nazi Germany and Britain and its Empire involved.

Even before the Nazis seized power, Churchill warned they posed “a threat to civilization.” A war with Nazi Germany, he said, would be about defending “all our freedoms” and avoiding “a new dark age.”

So it may seem strange to some to learn that in the early months of war between the two nations – “the phony war” period from Sept., 1939 to May, 1940 when there was almost no land fighting between the two countries – there were a good number of people in Britain, including some government leaders, who weren’t quite sure what Britain’s war aims were.

From Lynne Olson’s Troublesome Young Men: The Rebels Who Brought Churchill To Power and Helped Save England (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2007):

Having tried to avert war until the last minute and still determined to avoid combat, the prime minister and his men simply didn’t know what to say on the subject.

When [foreign secretary] Lord Halifax asked [civil servant and permanent under-secretary for foreign affairs] Alexander Cadogan what he thought Britain’s war aims should be, Cadogan replied that he saw “awful difficulties” in anything that might be proposed.

“I suppose the cry is ‘Abolish Hitlerism,’” Cadogan wrote in his diary. “But what if Hitler hands over to Goering? Meanwhile, what of the course of operations? What if Germany now sits tight? … What do we do? Build up our armaments feverishly? What for? Can we last out the course? Time is on our side. What are the Germans doing meanwhile? Must try and think this out…”

Such confused and muddled thinking was the target of a limerick making the rounds in Whitehall:
An elderly statesman with gout
When asked what the war was about
Replied with sigh
My colleagues and I
Are doing our best to find out.

DOJ’s No To Nifong Investigation

Tonight at

The U.S. Department of Justice will not investigate whether former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong engaged in criminal misconduct in his handling of the Duke lacrosse case, a DOJ spokesman said today.

"We believe the State of North Carolina has the primary interests in this matter: protecting the integrity of its judicial proceedings, holding Mr. Nifong accountable for his actions as an officer of its courts, and vindicating the principles of justice under state law," Peter Carr, a DOJ spokesman, said in a prepared statement.

"North Carolina has begun that process," he said. "Well-established principles of federalism and comity discourage federal intervention when the state has the primary interest and the state is taking remedial action. We believe the allegations relating to the North Carolina state proceedings should be addressed and resolved by the State of North Carolina." . . .

The announcement that no federal investigation will ensue does not mean Nifong won't face criminal charges.

As Carr pointed out in his statement: "Recently, the former interim Durham District Attorney Jim Hardin requested that the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation determine whether any person involved in the Duke Lacrosse prosecution engaged in criminal misconduct."

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper this spring declared Dave Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann innocent of the charges made by escort service dancer Crystal Mangum. . . .
The entire story is here.

ABC 11 Eyewitness News’ report includes:
[…] Sources told ABC11 Eyewitness News that federal investigators had collected testimony and other court documents from Mike Nifong's ethics trial and his contempt hearing. There was also the possibility a potential federal probe would have targeted current and former members of Durham's Police Department and the Durham County District Attorney's Office.

Now it's up to the State Attorney General's Office whether to proceed with an investigation alone or not at all.

Spokeswoman Noelle Talley said without federal assistance, it would be difficult to launch an investigation into criminal wrongdoing in the Duke Lacrosse case. Unlike federal prosecutors, North Carolina cannot convene and investigative grand jury that would hand up indictments.

Talley said the State Attorney General's Office and the State Bureau of Investigation are discussing their options.

Will this DOJ decision be final as to any DOJ investigation into events related to the attempted frame-up and on-going cover-up of same?

I ask the question because since early in the case a number of attorneys I respect who have no direct involvement in the case have told me what would most likely bring the DOJ into the case, if it entered it at all, would be evidence suggesting violations of the victims’ civil rights.

From tonight’s news reports it sounds like the DOJ is responding to a request it become involved in matters involving state law.

At least that’s my lay person’s reading of DOJ Acting Deputy Attorney General Chris Morford’s letter to NC Senior Deputy Attorney General James J. Coman. (pdf form)

Is it possible, therefore, that evidence uncovered during discovery proceedings as part of the civil suits brought by the victims against Nifong, Durham City and others could result in DOJ finding a basis to investigate that presently it does not see?

I hope some of you out there with legal knowledge will respond.

Einstein & Segregation in Princeton

A political profile of Albert Einstein contains the following:

The town of Princeton, New Jersey, where Einstein lived (and for that matter, its university), though only a short drive from New York, might well have been in the old southern Confederacy.

Paul Robeson, who was born in Princeton, called it a “Georgia plantation town.” Access to housing, jobs, and the university itself (once led by the segregationist Woodrow Wilson) were routinely denied to African Americans; protest or defiance were often met with police violence. Einstein, who had witnessed similar scenes in Germany and who, in any event was a longtime anti-racism militant, reacted against every outrage.

In 1937, when the contralto Marion Anderson gave a critically acclaimed concert in Princeton but was denied lodging at the segregated Nassau Inn, Einstein, who had attended the performance, instantly invited her to stay at his house.

She did so, and continued to be his guest whenever she sang in New Jersey, even after the hotel was integrated.
I don’t doubt most of you found this brief excerpt interesting on many counts. You may also think as I do that the profile author, John J. Simon, meant to say Anderson stayed with Einstein when she sang in Princeton, not "New Jersey."

I was touched by Einstein’s decent gesture and delighted to learn Anderson and Einstein were friends.

O'Hanlon on Iraq & the Dems

In USA Today Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute gives Democrats much of the credit for recent improvements in Iraq and then offers them some advice:

Rarely in U.S. history has a political party diagnosed a major failure in the country's approach to a crucial issue of the day, led a national referendum on the failing policy, forced a change in that policy that led to major substantive benefits for the nation — and then categorically refused to take any credit whatsoever for doing so.

This is, of course, the story of the Democrats and the Iraq war over the past 13 months.

Without a Democratic takeover of the Congress in 2006, there is little chance that President Bush would have acknowledged his Iraq policy to be failing, and that Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker would have been accorded the resources and the policy latitude needed to radically improve the situation on the ground.

Democrats were not the authors of the surge and in fact generally opposed it. But without their pressure, it probably never would have happened.

We now have a realistic chance, not of victory, but of what my fellow Brookings scholar Ken Pollack and I call sustainable stability. Violence rates have dropped by half to two-thirds in the course of 2007, the lowest level in years. Iraq is still very unstable, but it has a chance.

Despite this progress, many Democrats are inclined to provide Bush the roughly $12 billion a month he requests for Iraq and Afghanistan in 2008 only if the money is devoted narrowly to counterterrorism and bringing home U.S. troops. This is a mistake.

On strategic grounds, it appears that we now have an opportunity to salvage something significant in Iraq. Given sectarian tensions and brittle Iraqi institutions, this almost surely requires us to execute a gradual drawdown of U.S. forces there rather than an abrupt departure.

In political terms, it would be rescuing defeat from the jaws of victory to mandate an end to an operation, however unpopular, just when it is showing its first signs of progress.

Democrats should change course. Rather than demand an end to the operation no matter what, they should continue to keep up the pressure for positive results in Iraq.

They can retain their anti-war stance, emphasizing that their default position is that U.S. troops should soon come home absent continued major progress. The surge was never designed as just a military operation; it was intended to create political space for Iraqis to forge reconciliation with each other across sectarian lines.

Since that is for the most part not yet happening, it is perfectly reasonable for the Democrats to demand more as a condition for continued funding.

The way to do this is to tie funding for Iraq operations to further progress by Iraqi leaders on their nation's political front. Release of our money should be partly contingent on progress on the so-called benchmarks in this year's funding bill — reforming the de-Baathification process to allow amnesty for lower-level former Baathists, expunging extremist and militia leaders from key government jobs and the security forces, passing a hydrocarbon law, moving to provincial elections and creating a provincial powers act. But we should add other stipulations to the list as well, some already raised by the Iraq Study Group in 2006.

A considerable to-do list

The Shiite-dominated Iraqi government should:

* Ensure that oil revenue keeps flowing from Baghdad to the provinces and that it increases in amount each year.

* Guarantee that Sunni volunteers are, once properly screened, brought into Iraqi security forces. As Gen. Petraeus points out, hiring Sunnis is in effect a form of de facto amnesty or reformed de-Baathification. It is happening, but it is often too slow, especially in mixed Sunni-Shiite regions.

* Make sure that adequate numbers of Sunnis are hired for government jobs in non-security sectors.

* Continue to improve the legal system, including training more judges and establishing an appeals process, partly to correct for sectarian influences in the system.

* Try to improve the situation in Kirkuk, where Arabs and Kurds contest the same land and oil fields — not by rushing to a referendum but by figuring out what should be contained in any eventual referendum and focusing on how to compensate losers in any such process.

* More generally, create programs to help people displaced from their homes by the violence, especially if they have to settle elsewhere in Iraq.

* Agree to be disbanded if progress is not made on these matters soon, with new elections or a regional peace conference held to replace the government.

Who should decide whether enough has been done in these areas to justify release of Washington funds?[…]
The rest of O’Hanlon’s op-ed is here.

I’d like to see what O’Hanlon’s proposing work. But I doubt it will.

What he’s asking the Democrats to do is to put partisan interests aside and act as “honest broker” appraisers of progress in Iraq.

I doubt the Dems can do that because they’re so heavily burdened by their wing which strikes me as unreasonable on a number of issues, particularly the Iraq War.

What O’Hanlon’s calling for depends on people being very reasonable: data driven rather than ideology driven.

And they’ll need to be that way over the course of many years.

I just don’t see the Dems being that way now and certainly not in the months to come as the presidential campaign plays out.

But I’d like to see O’Hanlon’s proposals work, so I hope I’m wrong.

Duke Prof OK With Rove's Treatment

The following letter from Michael Munger, Chair and professor in Duke's Political Science Department appears in today's Chronicle. My response, which I left on the comment thread, follows Munger's letter here.

Munger's letter:

To the editor:

Reading the description of the Dec. 3 "Conversation with Karl Rove" event in both The Chronicle's lead editorial and some other letters and posts, I feel we must have attended different events.

This event was as close to flawless as you are going to get with a controversial speaker. I was proud of the protesters: lots of very angry people at Page Auditorium at Duke last night. But no one prevented other people from hearing, or listening, in any serious way.

It was sometimes an unfriendly atmosphere, and maybe even disrespectful. Sure, there were signs and some harsh shouts. But no one is guaranteed a friendly, or respectful atmosphere.

You get a hearing, and nothing more. Mr. Rove got that. And the protesters got to make their point, also.

A number of conservative students said they were "embarrassed" at the protests. Bull puckey.

The audience was restrained, and "respectful" in the formal sense of not exercising the heckler's veto. The protests may upset you, but that's part of academic discourse.

Let's give the administration credit. A major conservative speaker came to campus, gave a lengthy talk and was not shouted down or even seriously interrupted. That would not have happened at most of the schools we consider to be our peers.

Michael Munger
Chair and professor
Department of Political Science


My response:

Professor Munger's letter surprised me.

I was always taught you didn't shout slanders about murder and treason at a professor or speaker in a classroom or lecture hall because, among other things, that disturbed the "academic discourse."

But Munger says the protestors didn't prevent "other people from hearing, or listening, in any serious way."

How can students and others shouting slanders in class at a professor or at a speaker while he/she presents and answers questions be anything other then disruptive?

To those of us critical of the protestors in the hall Munger says, "Bull puckey;" and adds: "protests may upset you, but that's part of academic discourse.


How often are Duke professors treated in classrooms, at conferences and during speaking engagements and their book promotion tours the way Rove was treated Monday night?

How does Munger think most of them would react if they, some of whom like Rove are political and controversial, were treated the same way in classrooms and other venues?

Munger wants to give "the administration credit [because a] major conservative speaker came to campus, gave a lengthy talk and was not shouted down or even seriously interrupted. That would not have happened at most of the schools we consider to be our peers."

Munger is wrong when he says Rove wasn't "seriously interrupted."

The shouted slanders were serious interruptions; no less so because conservative speakers are often even more seriously harassed and threatened on American campuses.

Professor Munger’s wish to commend the administration because Rove wasn’t shouted down and could finish his speech is very revealing. So is his assertion that that “would not have happened at most of the schools we consider to be our peers."

Munger is revealing how he views the level of academic tolerance and the free exchange of ideas on campuses today.

It’s sad and very troubling that Munger believes, not unreasonably, Rove’s ability to finish his speech is something that could not happen on some campuses.

It’s also sad and very troubling that Munger praises those who harassed Rove while dismissing their critics with “Bull puckey.”

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Churchill Series – Dec. 4, 2007

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

I promised a post today about an incident involving Churchill and General George C. Marshall. I’ve misplaced the book containing an account of the incident. I’ll look for it and hope to have that post for you soon.

Meanwhile, from Steven F. Hayward’s Churchill on Leadership: Executive Success in the Face of Adversity (Forum, 1997):

[Most] of the time Churchill depended on personal persuasion to get his way, and he conducted most meetings as an honest broker and conciliator. He was a great believer – perhaps excessively so – in the ability of good will and personal contact to solve almost nay problem.

There were other times, however, when Churchill would put his foot down and impose his personal will in a highly forceful and even theatrical manner.

When Churchill went off to France to take a battalion command in the trenches in World War I, he knew that as a disgraced politician, he might not get a warm welcome from the troops in the line. One of his subordinates described Churchill’s first meal with the officers’ mess:
It was quite the most uncomfortable lunch I have ever been at. Churchill didn’t say a word: he went right round the table staring each officer out of countenance. We had disliked the idea of Churchill being in command; now, having seen him, we disliked the idea even more.

At the end of the lunch, he made a short speech: “Gentlamen, I am now your Commanding Officer. Those who support me I will look after. Those who go against me I will break. Good afternoon gentlemen.”
Hayward goes on to tell what followed after that:
Nonetheless, Churchill quickly won over the affection and respect of his fellow officers and soldiers.

Contrary to the initial impression that he would be a “tough guy,” he gained a reputation for leniency and generosity with his troops. He forgave minor offences that other commanders punished strictly. He was especially indulgent of infractions by troops who had seen hard fighting. ( pgs. 144-145)

Just a Few Thoughts

Readers’ Note: If you’re not familiar with the posts and their comment threads: Rove at Duke Letter: My Response , Attacks on Rove: Some Reactions , and Reader Comments Today , I urge you to read them before reading this post.

You'll see many comments from someone ID'ing as "just a thought."

Thanks go to all of you who made informed and properly critical responses to just a thought’s error-filled and mendacious comments.

You’ve demonstrated the corrective power of the blogosphere.

I’m about to give just a thought a brief response after which I’ll go to bed hoping to rise tomorrow and post again with all of you back.


Dear just a thought:

Let’s agree you started off at JinC defending the right of “protestors” last evening at Duke to shout slander and disrupt former Presidential Assistant Karl Rove’s attempt to talk to an audience.

Of course, you didn’t call what the “protesters” shouted slander. You described what they did as an exercise of their Constitutional rights.

In subsequent comments, which everyone can read for themselves, you made clear just how you felt about things most Americans cherish: presumption of innocence, due process, and checks on prosecutorial power, to name just a few.

On another matter: Informed and fair-minded people reading your comments about what Communists and Nazis sought to do in Weimar Germany know those “protestors” often tried, frequently successfully, to shout down speakers with whom they disagreed.

But you didn’t acknowledge that.

Something else: In response to AC who pointed out Grover Norquist could not have been a shill/plant questioner at the CNN You Tube Republican presidential candidates debate because the candidates and the media all know who he is, you countered by saying you’d asked your wife and she didn’t know who he is.

Now really, just a thought, who are you fooling?

Besides being one of Washington’s best known and most influential lobbyists, Norquist serves on the board of directors of the National Rifle Association and the American Conservative Union. He's also a contributing editor to the American Spectator Magazine.

Some people might think you’re a Duke faculty member and/or someone who sincerely believes Mike Nifong got a raw deal from the NC State Bar.

But I don't believe that.

You’re a troll.

I’ll be deleting any future comments you make and any comments similar to yours.

That said, on the chance you’re not a troll, you’re in luck: There are many blogs for folks like you and thousands of colleges and universities that’ll welcome to their faculties and staffs someone “thinking and dialoging” as you have here.


Kristin Butler on Duke’s BOT

Duke senior Kristin Butler’s Tuesday Chronicle columns are “must reads” for many who also visit JinC.

Because of her work on a senior thesis, Kristin didn’t write a column this week. As a result, many of her readers are suffering “withdrawel symptoms.”

To help those folks, and perhaps introduce others to Kristin’s columns which are always carefully researched and thoughtful, I’m posting a “Butler Classic” that was first published Feb. 20, 2007.

At the time Mike Nifong was still Durham DA and three innocent young men who’d been Duke students remained under indictment for multiple felonies.

Just weeks before Butler’s column appeared, Duke President Richard Brodhead and BOT Chair Robert Stell, after eight months of going along with Nifong’s plan to put the man on trial, calculated it was in their interests to finally begin criticizing Nifong.

But neither then nor since has Brodhead or Steel explained Duke’s “throw the students under the bus” response to Crystal Mangum and Mike Nifong’s lies and the “faculty outrage” which did do much to give credence to the lies and enable the frame-up attempt.

Kristin Butler’s Feb. 20 column called attention to major University governance problems which contributed to Duke’s disgusting response to the Hoax.

Here’s Butler’s column, after which I make a brief comment and ask a question:

Now that 2007's hotly contested undergraduate Young Trustee race has concluded, it's worth asking: When was the last time you heard a "regular" member of the Board of Trustees publicly define his platform the way Ben Abram, Jimmy Soni, Chrissie Gorman and David Snider were required to?

The answer is probably never. Aside from annual Young Trustee elections, the process for selecting the Board's remaining 36 members is, according to a January 1996 Chronicle article, "entirely confidential" due to "potentially serious political and financial repercussions for the University."

That process is not especially representative, either; in fact, the Methodist Church elects 24 of the board's 36 seats, with 12 apportioned to the church's Eastern Conference and another 12 reserved for the West.

Duke's alumni are nominally responsible for electing 12 more trustees, although alumni leaders-and not alumni in general-are tasked with selecting these candidates.

This clandestine selection process may well respect the delicate political and financial considerations that go into selecting a trustee, but it also guarantees a board that is largely unknown-and unaccountable-to the Duke community.

By excluding the press from nearly all the Board's deliberations and shielding its records from the public, the Board completes a cycle of clandestine decision making that leaves it accountable to no one.

Considering that Duke's bylaws vest "all powers of the University... in a Board of Trustees," including responsibility for everything from overseeing the University's financial well-being to choosing a president, that level of secrecy separates community members from nearly every important decision this University must make.

If this seems remarkably anti-democratic to you, well, it is; the Board's closed-door policy-which was re-instituted in 1996-was blasted by The Chronicle in an October 2000 editorial as an "unbending... refusal to resume an appropriate level of communication, making scrutiny difficult and removing all accountability."

The editorial continued, saying this policy ensures the Board's "decisions will go essentially unscrutinized and its discussions will go virtually unquestioned and the distance between the board and the community it serves will grow disturbingly wider."

As the board's Feb. 23-24 retreat at the Washington Duke Inn approaches, it's worth asking when our trustees-as the University's top decision makers-plan to break their silence and publicly address the scandals embroiling our community.

A particularly appropriate place to start would be to address the major conflict of interest Chairman of the Board Robert Steel faces with his appointment as undersecretary of the treasury for domestic finance. This new role has forced the Board's prized "financial and economic genius" to "not be involved in anything connected to fundraising," a task that should otherwise define his job.

In fact, this prohibition is so restrictive that it's not even clear if Steel can function as ex-officio chair of the Board's executive committee, which oversees "operations and investment process" for billions of dollars of the University's endowment.

Indeed, if this board is really to make decisions that "cost people's jobs, refine their benefit packages, reshape their educations and change the dynamics of their city," the hypocrisy of overseeing University-wide priorities while the Board refuses to police itself deserves our input.

Equally important is that the board offer decisive leadership in the aftermath of the lacrosse scandal, which is increasingly pitting constituencies within the University-faculty, students, administrators and alumni-opposite each other.

Just this year, Professor Kim Curtis has been accused of tampering with students' grades, while many of her colleagues have reported receiving racist and abusive e-mails and phone calls.

Students and alumni are now openly signing online petitions that demand apologies from these same professors, with some of them going so far as to withhold financial support for the University.

Compare that to President Brodhead's defiance last month that he would handle the lacrosse scandal no differently knowing what he knows today-pressuring the coach to resign, suspending the team's season, sending not only the defendants but also Ryan McFadyen home.

This level of administrative denial, coupled with the rising intensity of our internal conflicts and the threat of more lawsuits to come puts the board's erstwhile silence to shame.

Although Duke's warring factions may be united in their fierce love for the University, the conflicts appear to be growing more acrimonious, not less, and a decisive, public response from the University's senior governing body is long past due.

After all, it was chairman Steel who defended the lacrosse season's suspension, saying, "We had to stop those pictures. It doesn't mean that it's fair, but we had to stop it."

Perhaps it's time that Steel took his own advice and publicly addressed these issues at our University. It won't be pleasant, but it is vitally important if the board wishes to be considered a representative and responsible steward for our community-wide priorities.

Here’s the link to Butler’s column: The Board We Trust

Comment and Question:

I’m not aware of any intention, much less plan, by the trustees, alumni association and the Methodist conferences to address the problems Butler describes so clearly.

Are any of you aware of intentions or plans by any of those groups to change things for the better?

What's with The Chronicle? Where's Kristin Butler?

A number of you have noted various problems at The Chronicle's web site with both TC's own posting of material and your ability to navigate and comment.

This from TC Online Editor Lauren Kobylarz;

Thank you for your comment and for your email.

As our host, College Publisher, moves its offices this week we have been experiencing frequent system errors that are beyond our control.

I apologize for this inconvenience, which I empathize with and understand is quite frustrating.
I'm sending Editor Kobylarz an email thanking her for a prompt and informative response.

Where's Kristin Butler's TC column today?

I called TC this morning and learned she's completing a thesis, so she did not have time this week for her column.

We can all understand and I know wish Kristin luck.

And I'll bet something else.

When you read she was working on a thesis, just about all of you who are KB readers said to yourselves something like: "When she finishes, it will be a very good thesis."

I'll try to get into TC archives in a few minutes, find a KC "Classic" column and post it.

But no promises. Earlier today I couldn't access the archives, very likely because of the tech problems TC is having.

Reader Comments Today

Folks, In the last 24 hours there’s been a mix of sensible, informed comments and some others.

I want to respond more fully to those comments this evening. Also at that time I’ll respond to some other comments made this past week.

For now, I just want to share this set of comments from this post thread with you.

just a thought

in responding to a Chronicle letter writer who said in part:

Now while I completely respect people's opinion and their ability to protest, shouting down Rove only infringes his right to speak-the very right being invoked by the protesters.
said ---

I hate to be the one to point this out, but these are rights the government cannot take away. The constitution does not say you have the right to speak without others interrupting. If it did, only the mutes in our society would be free. There is no right being infringed by the protestors, whether you agree with them or not.

JWM said...

Dear just a thought,

Courts, including the Supreme Court, have held that government can regulate the time and place of speech. One reason for that is to protect the speech of citizens who might be shouted down and in other ways harressed by "activists."

Consider, for example, what the Communists' and Nazis' "activists" did to the German democratic center, center-right and center-left speakers and meetings during the late 20's and early 30s.

I'm sure other commentors will be along to further correct and inform you.

Now a caution ---

You are really "wondering" on the Plame matters.

Each time someone points out your errors, you shift terms and re-define the issues.

That's a sign of a troll.

I welcome thoughtful debate at JinC but ad hominems and babble have no place here, even if they're now welcome at many of our high-tuition universities.

And, of course, there are millions of other blogs. Ad hominems and babble are welcome at many of them, too.

I hope you can understand my desire to keep JinC a place where people can have reasoned, fact-based discussions with respect for diversity indicated by the care and respect shown for those who offer reasoned, fact-based contrary points of view.


Ralph Phelan said...

The constitution does not say you have the right to speak without others interrupting.

I'd like to hire someone to follow you around with an air horn and push the button every time you try to talk. By your reasoning it wouldn't violate any of your rights.

JWM said...

Dear Ralph,

That's such a brilliant comment that so perfectly makes the case for why we just can't give "activists" and "protestors" the right to shout down those they disagree with.

Do you mind if I use it sometime and don't give you credit?


Attacks On Rove: Reactions

Across the entire front-page and above the fold of this morning’s Durham Herald Sun are the headlines:

Rove’s critics let loose with loud, colorful protests

Hecklers at Duke call former Bush adviser a killer and traitor
The H-S story begins:
Karl Rove encountered hecklers and protesters at Duke University Monday night, some accusing him of being a fraud, a traitor and even a killer.

President Bush's former White House deputy chief of staff and senior adviser appeared in Page Auditorium for a "conversation" with Duke political science professor Peter Feaver.

But the situation intensified when the floor was opened to questions […]
The entire H-S story is here.

The H-S says "loud, colorful protests." From what I've heard from friends who were there and read in this morning's papers "angry, disruptive protests" would've better informed readers.

This morning’s Chronicle contains a very thoughtful letter from Daniel Simpson, Trinty ’11. It follows as do the two comments (one mine) on the comment thread as of 9 AM Eastern.

I end this post with a few further comments and a link to a Chronicle editorial concerning last night's events.

Now Simpson's letter ---

To the editor:

Upon walking into Page Auditorium last night, I, along with everyone else in attendance, was handed a green slip of paper stating that Duke University respected academic freedom and wanted to have a meaningful, respectful academic discussion with Karl Rove.

I was appalled by what ensued. Rove's attempt at discussion was interrupted at least a dozen times by hecklers screaming everything from "Liar!" to "Murderer!" At one point in the discussion, someone walked in front of me with a massive sign reading "Arrest Him!"

Now while I completely respect people's opinion and their ability to protest, shouting down Rove only infringes his right to speak-the very right being invoked by the protesters.

As the University had pledged to curb such malicious and slanderous statements, their lack of any response to these protesters was disconcerting at best.

Professor Peter Feaver was quoted yesterday as saying, "There should be ways for people to register their disagreements with him without breaking the law and without infringing on the rights of others... I'm confident that Duke administrators have taken steps so that everyone's free speech... will be preserved."

It is a shame that Professor Feaver was proven wrong last night.

Daniel Simpson

Trinity '11

And on the comment thread from Trinity '06 ---

As a recent grad, and a politically active member of my community, I am sad, yet unsurprised at the outcome of the conversation with Mr. Rove last night.

Somehow the tolerance for disruption seems to be oh so much greater if the speaker is on the right of the political spectrum.

Let's hypothesize briefly about the shoe being on the other foot, shall we?

I should think Prof. Diane Nelson should like it not at all if one were to march in to her class while she was teaching (using old videos of Captain Spock, no doubt) and shout "Hippie!", "you're a moonbat!" and "feminism is the Devil!".

This would be rude, unfouded, and highly conterproductive to the educational process. Not to mention, it would undoubtedly be met with strong responses from Ms. Nelson and the University.

Then again, that's simply my hypothesis. In my four years at Duke, I don't think I met anyone disrespectful enough to try such a thing, so I suppose we'll never know how Ms. Nelson would react?

Here's my comment ---

Dear Mr. Simpson:

Thank you for a very thoughtful letter.

It's both a shame and frightening that there are so many at Duke who want to interfere with other people's right to peacefully express opinions.

What I've heard from friends and what I've read in the papers this morning leaves me with the same disturbed feeling I had as I watched some faculty (the Group of 88, for instance) and students condemn the students on the lacrosse team while cheering on Mike Nifong and certain Durham Police officers' police-state conduct.

If the Leftist, as represented at Duke, ever come to dominate America, they'll put an end to democracy.

Again, thank you for your letter.


John in Carolina

Folks, Here's The Chroncile's editorial on last night's events.

I'll respond to it later today.

While I'm glad TC's editorial had some critical words for the worst of the protestors, I think TC obscured and/or avoided some important issues raised by last nights protests.

Example: The editorial speaks about the need to tolerate "controversial" speakers at Duke. But the issue really isn't about "controversial" speakers.

Duke has no problems with controversial speakers like Harry Belefonte who supports Hugo Chevez and call's America's President the world's greatest terrorist.

The problem Rove presented to Duke is he's a strong supporter of the Bush administration.

There's "a hearty welcome" at Duke for controversial speakers of a certain type but not for others.

I'll say more later today

Monday, December 03, 2007

No Churchill Post - Dec. 3, 2007


Because of my work load and other blogging activities I didn't have time today to put a series post together.

I'm sorry.

I'll have one ready for tomorrow. It's a good one despite the fact Our Man loses a battle with General George C. Marshall.


Another CNN “Questioner” Exposed

Remember last week’s CNN You Tube Republican presidential candidates’ debate?

Are you keeping count of the “questioners” CNN selected who have connections to the Democrats and/or interest groups the Dems appeal to?

If you are, add Yasmin to your list.

Yasmin was the Muslim woman wearing a head-scarf who identified herself as “hailing from Huntsville, Alabama.”

Yasmin said from time she’d spent in the Middle East, she realized “just how much damage the Iraq War and the perception of invasion has done to America.”

She wanted to know what the candidates would do about her set-up question, only neither Yasmin nor CNN ID’ed her question as a set-up.

Now, would you be surprised to learn that Alabama’s own Yasmin is a former CAIR intern?

Michelle Malkin has more, including a clip of Yasmin’s “question” and former Mayor Guiliani’s and Senator McCain’s responses.

I hope you take a look here. Click on Guiliani and the clip starts almost immediately.

It’s well worth a look. Both Guiliani and McCain speak up for what’s right.

Question: Do CNN and their Dem allies have more plants than New York’s Botanical Gardens, or is that just my imagination?

I reported. You decide.

Rove at Duke Letter: My Response

The following letter appeared in The Chronicle today. My response, posted on the comment thread, follows the letter here.

To the editor:

I'm assuming that you've received many e-mails expressing outrage, embarrassment, frustration and disappointment over the scheduled appearance of Karl Rove at Duke tonight.

Please add my name to the list.

Rove, the former chief propaganda minister (not his formal title, of course, but it should have been) for President George W. Bush, rather than being invited to speak at Duke, should instead be on trial for subverting democracy at home and for enabling war crimes abroad.

As even the casual follower of current events knows, Rove was "the architect" of Bush's whole ghastly political career. He conducted the "whisper campaign" that Ann Richards was a lesbian, which resulted in Bush's being elected governor of Texas. Rove smeared John McCain in the 2000 South Carolina primary with a series of "push poll" phone calls to voters claiming that McCain had a "black child" and had been rendered mentally unstable by his years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Those lies revived Bush's flagging campaign and put him on the road to his hostile takeover of the presidency.

As a policy maker in Bush's administration as well as a political hit man, Rove helped sell the Iraq war, torture, the Swift-boating of John Kerry and the relentless fear and faux patriotism that resulted in Bush's remaining in the White House for a second term. Rove has tellingly abandoned Bush as his former boss' ship sinks (to go out and make money at universities and other places willing to pay large sums for him to deliver speeches), but he remains the sort of man willing to tell even the most obvious of untruths. His latest "big lie" is that the Democratic Congress was responsible for rushing the United States into the Iraq War.

What will Rove say tomorrow night at Duke? That he had nothing to do with illegally "outing" covert CIA agent Valerie Plame? That there never was a war in Iraq, or that, if there was, no civilians died in it? That, contrary to Democratic propaganda, Osama Bin Laden has been captured?

I'm not advocating taking away Rove's freedom of speech; however, Duke University should not have given such a professionally dishonest man a big payday to come and spread more of his transparent lies.

Rodney Allen
Graduate School '82


Dear Rodney Allen:

You say that as “a policy maker in Bush's administration as well as a political hit man, Rove helped sell . . .the Swift-boating of John Kerry.”

But you offer no proof that he did.

You also don’t say what you mean by “the Swift-boating” of Kerry.

Do you mean, for instance, the disclosures during the 2004 presidential campaign by men who served with Kerry in Vietnam that, despite repeatedly promising to do so, he'd failed to release to the public all his Navy records?

By Swift-boating do you mean alerting the public that contrary to what he had claimed in a Senate speech, Kerry hadn’t actually spent Christmas in Cambodia?

Do you know T. Boone Pickens has offered Kerry $1 million if he can prove even one Swift-boat charge was false? Kerry wrote Pickens accepting his offer but so far he hasn’t produced anything to disprove a Swift-boat claim.

Here’s a link to The American Spectator’s site where you can read more about Kerry’s failure so far to refute any charge.

You wonder whether Rove will say “he had nothing to do with illegally ‘outing’ covert CIA agent Valerie Plame.”

Do you know the Special Prosecutor did not accuse Rove of “outing” Valerie Plame?
Does that matter to you?

Also, why do you say Plame was a “covert” agent?

For more than five years before she was “outed” she lived in D. C. and each workday drove to CIA headquarters in Langley, VA.

CIA “covert” agents don’t commute by car to headquarters for more than five years, do they?


John in Carolina

What TNR’s “Let’s Go” Tells Us

This is a 1, 2, 3 post

1) Excerpts from blogger Bob Owens’ (Confederate Yankee) concerning The New Republic’s retraction of Scott Thomas Beauchamp’s fables from Iraq.

2) Excerpts, via Michelle Malkin, of TNR readers’ comments on TNR’s 14-page Beauchamp “explanation” ( It’s mostly self-excusing and blame-shifting.).

3) My comments.


1) From Bob Owens:

It takes him fourteen pages, but Franklin Foer finally makes an admission regarding Scott Thomas Beauchamp’s posts in The New Republic.
…in light of the evidence available to us, after months of intensive re-reporting, we cannot be confident that the events in his pieces occurred in exactly the manner that he described them. Without that essential confidence, we cannot stand by these stories.
Foer’s opus begins 13 pages earlier and attempts the impossible feat of justifying his editorial leadership at The New Republic from the lead up to the publication of Beauchamp’s work to the retraction above.

Through it all, Franklin Foer has made it painfully apparent that he is incapable of admitting his own ethical and editorial shortcomings, and refuses to answer many of the key questions that still hang over The New Republic like a gallows.

As editor of The New Republic, Franklin Foer allowed Scott Thomas Beauchamp to publish three stories that were not competently fact-checked. At least one of those that was assigned to [Beauchamp’s] wife to fact-check even though that was a clear conflict of interest.

All three of those stories—not just"ShockTroops"— had significant “red flags” in them. These red flags range from the changing of a tire of a vehicle equipped with run-flat tires in "War Bonds," to several obvious and easily verifiable untrue statements, including the claim of a discovery of a kind of ammunition that do not exist, and absurd evidence for allegations of murder "Dead of Night" that could have been (and were) debunked in less than 30 seconds with a simple Google search. […]
2) - At Michelle Malkin’s blog she offers the following samples of reader comments at TNR following Foer’s opus:
“When I last spoke with Beauchamp in early November, he continued to stand by his stories. Unfortunately, the standards of this magazine require more than that. And, in light of the evidence available to us, after months of intensive re-reporting, we cannot be confident that the events in his pieces occurred in exactly the manner that he described them. Without that essential confidence, we cannot stand by these stories.”

So you took 15 PAGES to say that you were WRONG, and even then lacked the courage to actually confess to error. You long ago added intellectual cowardice, to the usual helpings of intellectual dishonesty, but did you really have to take 15 pages to so clearly prove the points made by your opponents?

Could you not simply have said — “We screwed up. We apologize?” Guess not.

| Posted by brooklyn red
5 of 72 | warn tnr | respond

so you lied?

| Posted by Joe Humphrey
6 of 72 | warn tnr | respond

After four and a half months of utter nonsense about recanting and re-recanting and hearing from many thousands of honest warriors you spend countless words across 14 oages to finally admit that you are standing down from drom the Beauchamp fables. Amazing, simply amazing! You should be ashamed.

| Posted by Chris Christner
7 of 72 | warn tnr | respond

You broke every rule of journalism and in the process slandered our military.

At the very least you owe them an apology.

If you had a shred of integrity and respect for the reputation of TNR, you’d also submit your resignation.

It’s obvious that you waited until the last possible moment to retract Beauchamp’s stories, only doing so now because the new TNR book on Election 08’s just come out. However, regardless of your blame-the-messenger retraction, the Beauchamp affair is still going to hammer your book’s credibility along with that of TNR. As it should.

| Posted by George Croft
8 of 72 | warn tnr | respond

The real culprits are your editors and your management. The anti-soldier stories were “just too good to check” and you eagerly went to press with pure garbage from an anonymous, lying, neophyte writer.

Don’t dare blame it all on Beauchamp. He just created the garbage. YOU SERVED IT UP. George Croft Argyle, TX

| Posted by Suspended Disbelief
9 of 72 | warn tnr | respond

Congratulations. You’ve reached the conclusion that the rest of us reached months ago. Good luck with the upcoming staff purge and loss of advertisers.

3)- Comments:

From the beginning TNR knew it was dealing with a soldier who was anti-war and anti-Bush.

It had absolutely no experience with him that would give it confidence in his news-gathering skills or his integrity.

And TNR knows how easy it is for a source to make things up.

Given all of that, a group of responsible journalists would've said to each other something like:
We need to be extra cautious here.

What he’s saying will besmirch and damage our military’s reputation.

The incidents he’s describing will disgust the American people a la Abu Ghraib and weaken support for the war.

That will encourage those fighting our troops in Iraq and discourage Iraqis who want to side with us if they can count on the United States to stay the course.

And we’ll be giving a propaganda “hammer” to those who want to bash America.

We must fact-check and re-fact-check every detail of what Beauchamp claims.

Anything else would be reckless.
But that didn’t happen. Instead, TNR said, “Let’s go!”

TNR’s “Let’s go” tells us just what kind of journalism its editors practice.

Four’s 14-pager is his best effort to convince people they don’t.

Sensible people won’t be fooled.

I’ll do a follow-up post later today acknowledging bloggers who took the lead in exposing TNR’s Beauchamp fables.

If you want to read everything Foer says it's all here.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

“A loss for civilization”

That’s what Mark Steyn calls the recent election defeat of Australia’s John Howard, for ten years his country’s Prime Minister and always a staunch ally of those fighting terrorists.

Excerpts from Steyn’s column in The Australian follow after which I add a few comments below the star line:

What mattered to the world was the strategic clarity Howard's ministry demonstrated on the critical issues facing (if you'll forgive the expression) Western civilisation.

First, the prime minister grasped the particular challenge posed by Islam. "I've heard those very silly remarks made about immigrants to this country since I was a child," said the Democrats' Lyn Allison. "If it wasn't the Greeks, it was the Italians ... or it was the Vietnamese."

But those are races and nationalities. Islam is a religion, and a political project, and a globalised ideology. Unlike the birthplace of your grandfather, it's not something you leave behind in the old country.

Indeed, the pan-Islamic identity embraced by many second and third-generation Muslims in the West has very little to do with where their mums and dads happen to hail from.

"You can't find any equivalent in Italian or Greek or Lebanese or Chinese or Baltic immigration to Australia. There is no equivalent of raving on about jihad," said Howard, stating the obvious in a way most of his fellow Western leaders could never quite bring themselves to do.

"Raving on about jihad" is a splendid line which meets what English law used to regard as the reasonable-man test. If you're a reasonable bloke slumped in front of the telly watching jihadists threatening to behead the Pope or Muslim members of Britain's National Health Service ploughing a blazing automobile through the check-in desk at Glasgow airport, "raving on about jihad" fits in a way that President George W. Bush's religion-of-peace pabulum doesn't.

Bush and Tony Blair can be accused of the very opposite of the traditional politician's failing: they walked the walk but they didn't talk the talk. That's to say neither leader found a rhetoric for the present struggle that resonated.
Howard did.

Likewise, [another Australian political leader,] Peter Costello. Sympathising with Muslims who wish to live under sharia law, he mused: "There are countries that apply religious or sharia law: Saudi Arabia and Iran come to mind. If a person wants to live under sharia law these are countries where they might feel at ease. But not Australia."

It's a glum reflection on the times that such an observation should be controversial.

Yet it stands in marked contrast to, say, the Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner, who remarked that if the electors voted to bring in sharia he'd be OK with that, or the Swedish politician who said that Swedes should be "nice to Muslims while we are in the majority so that when they are in the majority they will be nice to us". …

And that brings us to the [Howard] Coalition's next great strand of strategic clarity. At his 2006 education summit, Howard called for "a root and branch renewal of Australian history in our schools, with a restoration of narrative instead of what I labelled the 'fragmented stew of themes and issues"'.

As he explained at the Quadrant 50th anniversary celebration: "This is about ensuring children are actually taught their national inheritance."

The absence of a "narrative" and an "inheritance" is a big part of the reason that British subjects born and bred blow up the London Tube, why young Canadian Muslims with no memory of living in any other society plot to behead their own prime minister.

You can't assimilate immigrants and minorities unless you give them something to assimilate to. It's one thing to teach children their history "warts and all", quite another to obsess on the warts at the expense of all else. The West's demographic weakness is merely the physical embodiment of a broader loss of civilisational confidence.

Australia should never have had a "department of immigration and multicultural affairs", but, given that it did, Howard was right to rename it the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Government should promote citizenship, not multiculturalism.

The Coalition was all but unique in understanding the three great challenges of the age - Islamism, demography, civilisational will - that in other parts of the West are combining to form the perfect storm.
Steyn’s entire column’s here.

It’s both a tribute to Howard and a warning to those who take Western civilization for granted.

I’ll post again on the column in the next day or two.

Charns on WUNC Monday

JinC Regulars know about Durham attorney Alex Charns’ work on behalf of an unindicted Duke lacrosse player Charns contends was libeled, along with his teammates, by a Durham CrimeStoppers Wanted poster. (See here and here, for example)

In March 2006 a Durham Police officer, Cpl. David Addison (he’s now a Sgt.) wrote and distributed to police substations, media and others the text of the poster which said an “horrific crime” had been committed at the lacrosse.

Charns will be the guest Monday, Dec. 3, on WUNC – FM’s The State of Things , hosted by Frank Stasio.

The show airs from Noon to 1 PM Eastern. You’ll find information here about audio links and podcasting. (see Listen Now menu on right-hand side of page)

Charns will be on for the entire hour.

You can call in during the program at 1 – 877 – 962 - 9862 or email a question to

The “call in” format means you can’t be certain what will be covered but Charns said expects to talk about a death penalty appeal he’s currently involed with (see below) as well as aspects of the Duke lacrosse case and other cases he’s handled involving the Durham Police Department.

Charns is regarded as one of North Carolina’s outstanding Constitutional attorneys.

The death penalty appeal he’ll speak about is on behalf of Nathan Bowie. The following, from a 2002 AP story, provides some background to the appeal:

A death-row inmate whose defense attorney admitted drinking more than 12 ounces of 80-proof rum every night during trial was denied a new trial and sentencing hearing.

Superior Court Judge Michael Helms said in a ruling last week that he found no evidence that attorney Thomas Portwood's drinking problem affected his performance during Nathan Bowie's trial.

Bowie, 31, was sentenced to death in 1993 for the murders of two men outside an apartment complex in 1991. No date has been set for his execution.
Alexander Charns, Bowie's appellate attorney, said he would ask the state Supreme Court to review the case.

He called the order "an outrage," saying Helms ignored a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring defense attorneys to thoroughly investigate a defendant's background.

Neither Portwood nor his co-counsel, Mark Killian, obtained Bowie's social service, school and mental health records. They did not call witnesses who could have detailed Bowie's troubled childhood, alcohol abuse and mental problems -- mitigating factors that Bowie's new attorneys say could have swayed a jury to at least impose a life sentence.

The judge cited the testimony of other attorneys who said Portwood's drinking "caused social problems but did not affect, and has not affected, Portwood's ability to practice law."

Portwood testified in October that he began drinking every night around 6 p.m. and was never drunk in the courtroom.
Never drunk in the courtroom?
I guess that means Portwood never appeared in night court.

And what about those attorneys who said Portwood's drinking ‘caused social problems but did not affect, and has not affected, Portwood's ability to practice law?”
How’d they know that?

Scientific research or just their own first-person experiences?

I know surgeons who won’t drink at all or will at most have one drink the night before they’re scheduled to operate.

I can’t imagine an attorney or anyone else knocking down the equivalent of a full cup and a half of 80 proof alcohol, and that not influencing his/her functioning the next day.

In any case, I’ll be tuning in tomorrow here to listen to Charns, Stasio and the callers. I hope you’re listening, too.

Maybe one of you will be a caller.