Saturday, March 15, 2008

Shredding Obama’s “denunciation”

At NRO Victor Davis Hanson will have none of Obama’s “denunciation” of his long-time friend and pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, following the airing of video-tapes documenting Wright's vicious anti-Americanism and racism.

Despite the serial profession of a new politics, there is something Nixonian about Obama's recent disclaimers over his racist pastor's diatribes. At first he tried to blame the messenger:

"Here is what happens when you just cherry-pick statements from a guy who had a 40-year career as a pastor.”

The problem is not cherries, Senator, but an entire orchard.

The most egregious slurs are not from two decades past, but post 9/11 and especially in 2006. And Obama should have learned from Nixon that when there is something there, it is best to get out in front of it in a manner that anticipates more disturbing revelations.

Yet the modified hangout then followed;

"It's a congregation that does not merely preach social justice but acts it out each day, through ministries ranging from housing the homeless to reaching out to those with HIV/AIDS."

This is a de facto defense of, not a distancing from, Wright, and begs the question of why? And the AIDs evocation is especially damning since the reverend has made it clear that HIV was our own creation, apparently part and parcel of some US government conspiracy.

Is Obama now suggesting that Wright did important civic work with AIDs even though he promulgated a belief that the virus was fabricated by our own government? ….

“Judgment” is the wrong word here, because the entire Wright liaison is proof positive of terrible judgment. And the problem is not judging Sen. Obama “on the basis of what someone else said”, but on the basis of his own generous subsidies to someone who spewed forth not mere speech, but hate speech.

And when Obama announces, “The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation,” he only will prompt investigative reporters to rush to substantiate whether the Senator was there when any of this calumny was preached, or has given a hint that he was aware of it in the past.

No doubt every word he has written, interview he has given, and people he has talked with will be examined to see whether that astounding statement is in fact true. For some strange reason, Obama has now banked his entire campaign on his word and assurance that he did not hear on a single occasion any such screed.

I hope he is correct. But if one were to collate the reverend’s views on what his congregation should think of the United States, and, further, his writs against Americans as “selfish, self-centered egotists who are arrogant and ignorant” with Michelle Obama’s own astounding statements that hitherto she had no pride in the United States, and considered America “just downright mean," and Americans “guided by fear" and (in the words of the New Yorker profiler) who summed up her views as ‘we're a nation of cynics, sloths, and complacents’ the echoes are eerie.

Without sounding dramatic, I think his campaign has seriously underestimated the effect of the Wright tapes on the average American voter (again, the problem is not just the transcript, but the delivery, most notably its fury and coarseness), and the senator’s own abject inability honestly and forthrightly to explain the close relationship of the Obamas to Reverend Wright, apologize for such a lapse of judgment, and move on.

His advisors are culpable here, and apparently in their spin have no clue that they are making things worse rather than better.
I hope you read the whole thing here.

Cabbie’s truth-telling honored

In today’s Durham Herald Sun:

Moezeldin Elmostafa is elated beyond expression. He has risen from the humiliation of being the cabbie who became collateral damage in the politically motivated Duke lacrosse case to being anointed an American hero.

Reader's Digest has named Elmostafa its 2008 Hero of the Year. He was selected by thousands of readers in an online contest sponsored by the popular, folksy magazine that has more than 40 million U.S. readers. …

"I feel great about it. I really feel good," said Elmostafa. The Sudanese immigrant and co-owner of On Time Taxi said he couldn't have entertained a dream of this uniquely American miracle story when he immigrated here in 1999. …

Reader's Digest profiled the 40-year-old Elmostafa and his travails in its November edition, and the ordeal struck a national nerve.

To recap, he was the taxi driver who picked up Duke lacrosse player Reade Seligmann and a friend on March 14, 2006, from an off-campus lacrosse party at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd. He took them to an ATM, a fast-food restaurant and then to a campus dorm.

The late-night fare provided Seligmann, who was falsely accused along with two teammates of raping a stripper who performed at the party, with an ironclad alibi.

Shortly thereafter, Elmostafa was arrested on a 2003 warrant charging him with shoplifting at Hecht's department store at Northgate Mall. A woman who got a ride in his taxi had been charged and later pleaded guilty to stealing handbags.

Defense lawyers and lacrosse case observers accused District Attorney Mike Nifong -- who was later disbarred as a rogue prosecutor for his misadventures in the lacrosse case and spent a night in jail -- of attempting to shake down Elmostafa with the old warrant.

District Judge Ann McKown found the cabbie not guilty at trial for lack of evidence linking him to the crime. ….
The rest of the H-S story is here.

Reporter Dan Way interviewed Elmostafa not only about his witness for Seligmann and subsequent arrest and trial, but about his wife and children back in Sudan who’ll come to America once Elmostafa earns American citizenship, something that he expects to happen soon.

It will be a pleasure to say to him: “Congratulations on your citizenship. I’m glad you live here in Durham.”

Some time back, author Joan Collins paid tribute to Elmostafa in a Profile in Courage post hosted a Friends of Duke University. It’s well worth reading by yourself or with a child you want to help learn about right and good people.

Liestoppers has a tribute post. It includes a picture of Elmostafa at his trial with two uniformed Durham Police officers sitting menacingly in the background. (Inv. Himan on the left; Ofc. Clayton on the right as you look at the picture)

The reason why the officers were at the trial has never been explained.

The Reader's Digest story about Elmostafa is here.

And this from
“Moezeldin is the quintessential hero,” said Reader’s Digest Editor-in-Chief, Peggy Northrop. “He selflessly stood his ground because he wanted the truth to prevail.”

Elmostafa’s photo and story are included in the April issue of Reader’s Digest, which will be on newsstands on March 18.

Today’s NY Times Obama-Wright Story

The story contains some interesting background concerning Rev. Jeremiah Wright. But for the most part, it’s very “soft” reporting on the Obama-Wright relationship. It also works to excuse Wright’s raving anti-American and racist preaching.

The Times begins:

In the handful of years Senator Barack Obama has spent in the national spotlight, his stance toward his pastor has gone from glowing praise to growing distance to — as of Friday — strong criticism.
No mention in that important first sentence of Sen. Obama and Rev. Wright's very close, nearly 20-year relationship.

Instead, we’re told about a “handful of years” during which Obama’s been gradually distancing himself from Wright.

Just “a handful,” you understand.

The “growing distance” is in there so liberals and leftists who trust the Times can say to others: “No, Obama didn’t denounce Wright under the pressure of exposure and awareness he’s being hurt politically. There's been “growing distance” between the two for at least "a handful of years." I read about it in the Times.”

Wright’s prejudices are not new; they go back decades.

Even if you go with the Times about "growing distance" for "a handful of years," there's still the question of why not sooner?

Why was Obama drawn to Wright in the first place?

And why, knowing what Wright is, has Obama brought his daughters to Wright’s church for their religious instruction?

Obama's "I wasn't ever in church" when all those statements were made works at the NYT, NPR and the DNC, but it won't fool most people.

Now let's look at the Times second sentence:
Friday, Mr. Obama called a grab bag of statements by his longtime minister, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., “inflammatory and appalling.”
The Times could have said “ a series of anti-American and racist statements Wright’s made over the years.” They’re what are starting to draw notice.

But the Times prefers to say “grab bag.” It has a slighting quality that will encourage readers not to take Wright’s statements as seriously as they might otherwise.

Obama knew enough not to use a term like "grab bag" in his statement concerning Wright's anti-American and racist remarks.

Further on in the story the Times offers this:
Since he arrived at Trinity in 1972, [Wright] has built a 6,000-member congregation through his blunt, charismatic preaching, which melds detailed scriptural analysis, black power, Afrocentrism and an emphasis on social justice; Mr. Obama praised the last quality in Friday’s statement.
Wright’s “charismatic preaching” has also included anti-Americanism and racism but the Times can’t bring itself to say that about the close friend, pastor and political ally of Barack Obama.

The Times goes on to quote leaders of the religious left, none of whom are critical of Wright. He’s described as a “beloved figure.”

And yes, for those of you wondering, the Times does work in the “few remarks taken out of context” excuse.

That and the rest of the story is here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Churchill Series - Mar. 14, 2008

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

I’m an admirer of William Manchester’s two volume Churchill biography: The Last Lion and Alone. I regret a stroke prevented Manchester from completing his planned third and final volume of the biography.

That said, there are some things Manchester says about Churchill that just aren’t so. Here's one example. In Alone Manchester writes :

As a man who reached his majority in 1895, when Victorian gentlemen never use the words “breast” or “leg” if ladies were present, he assumes that they are innocents who must be shielded from the brutal facts of life and that feminine beauty is unaccompanied by carnal desire.” (p. 17)
Churchill understood from youth that the Victorian convention of avoiding references to sex in front of women was just that: a social convention.

Churchill knew that many women enjoyed sex. One of them was his mother; another was his wife. When he was away, Clementine would often end her letters to him remarks such “your ‘Cat’ needs stroking” and “I so want to purr with you.”

Now the weekend's upon us, and I hope yours purrs right along.

All Good Thinks,


Obama Denounces But Doesn’t Explain carries an AP story that begins:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Friday denounced inflammatory remarks from his pastor, … the Rev. Jeremiah Wright [of] Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ.

In a sermon on the Sunday after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Wright suggested the United States brought on the attacks.

"We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye," Wright said. "We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost." …
There’s much more to the story including quotes from Rev. Wright sermonizing and damning America. The entire story’s here.

The site polls for readers’ reactions. One question:
Should Obama do more to disassociate himself from the pastor’s remarks
Given a “yes” or “no” choice, 75% of respondents are saying “yes” as of 9:30 pm eastern

But I chose “no.”

Here’s why:

While many Democrats here at home and other people around the world agree with Rev. Wright, there are still many Americans who don’t agree with him.

Those of us who don’t agree America is a state sponsor of terrorism want Obama to explain why he hasn’t denounced Wright until today.

Obama's excuse -- he wasn’t in church the Sunday after 9/11 and so didn't know -- is as believable as Bill Clinton’s “I never had sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.”

NY Governor Eliot Spitzer built his career in part on his denunciations of prostitution. He worked to increase the criminal penalties for it. He prosecuted people who engaged in it.

So much for denunciations from politicians.

What Obama must do now is provide full, honest explanations.

Decent Americans want to know why Obama chose Wright as his spiritual advisor; why he chose him to officiate at his wedding; and why he brings his children to a church where such a man is pastor?

Apart from those comfortable with the anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism of the religious and political left and Obama's MSM shills, who’s satisfied with Obama’s after disclosure “denunciation?”

Will even Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich accept it?

Some Plead for Spitzer

Beginning Monday when the Spitzer scandal broke, there’ve been unanswered questions concerning, for example, possible use of campaign funds to pay prostitutes and whether Spitzer’s been blackmailed during the years he’s held public office.

Those questions and others need to be fully investigated.

But some don’t want that to happen. A NY Times story today includes:

A friend of Mr. Spitzer’s, who spoke on condition of anonymity, reacted with fury at the news that prosecutors appeared to be widening their inquiry to include money spent on campaign trips that may have involved trysts with prostitutes.

“At some point, this becomes piling on,” the friend said. The friend said that he would be stunned if “a judge or jury would convict a man for something like this. It’s very low grade,” adding, “Why would prosecutors pursue this?”
An AP story today includes this:
Gerald Lefcourt, past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, said criminal charges against Spitzer would be "stretching federal statutes to a place they've never been."

Edward J.M. Little, who worked in the public corruption unit of the Manhattan federal prosecutor's office in the 1980s, said it would be "piling on" to bring charges now.

"I think it would be outrageous if they went after him any further on this," he said. "Solicitation cases are typically pled down to minor charges and just because he was governor doesn't mean he should be treated any more harshly unless they impacted his duties as governor."

He added: "Even though I personally think it's reprehensible, it doesn't mean it's criminal. He's resigned which is probably the ultimate penalty in this case so we should let it be."
About Spitzer’s friend: If I were in Spitzer’s position, I’d be glad to have friends speaking up for me. But I’d tell them not to say: "Why would prosecutors pursue this?”

That will only get the public thinking maybe we need to know more about what Spitzer’s done that would concern federal and state prosecutors.

Message to attorneys Lefcourt and Little: I don’t doubt it’s in Spitzer’s interest to try to cut a deal as soon as possible.

But it’s not in the public’s interest until federal investigators and prosecutors can assure us they’ve looked at everything that could be criminal, had time to weigh everything and have concluded that a deal, if reached, is in the public’s interests as well as Spitzer’s.

The complete NYT story is here; the complete AP story's here.

Breaking: Top Al-Qaeda Figure Captured in '07

The AP reported about an hour ago:

Authorities have captured a high-level al-Qaida figure who helped Osama bin Laden escape from Afghanistan in 2001, the Pentagon announced Friday.

Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman declined to say when or where Mohammad Rahim was captured -- or by whom -- announcing only that he was handed over by the CIA to the Pentagon earlier this week and is being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

But in a memo obtained by The Associated Press, CIA Director Michael Hayden told agency employees that Rahim was detained in the summer of 2007.

"Rahim is a tough, seasoned jihadist," Hayden said. "His combat experience, which dates back to the 1980s, includes plots against US and Afghan targets."

Rahim is a close associate of bin Laden and has ties to al-Qaida organizations throughout the Middle East, Whitman said.

He said Rahim helped prepare the al-Qaida hideout at Tora Bora -- a mountain area full of warrens used by bin Laden during the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. He assisted al-Qaida's escape from the area during the U.S. operation to try to catch the al-Qaida leader, officials said.

"Rahim's detention in the summer of 2007 was a blow to more than one terrorist network," Hayden said. "He gave aid to al-Qaida, the Taliban, and other anti-Coalition militants.

This story goes in the "great news" file.

BTW - There's no agreed upon spelling of the name of the terrorist group OBL heads. The AP used al-Qaida in this story; other news organization use al- or Al- Qaeda and other variants. (with and without the hyphen)

I use al-Qaeda because it's the most commen usage based on number of Google hits.

Plaintiffs Respond to Duke’s Motion

For background concerning the post which follows, please see Duke's Motion a Stumble and Law Prof Responds to Duke's Motion.

Attorneys for 38 unindicted members of Duke University’s 2006 Men’s lacrosse team and some of their family members have filed their response to Duke motion “regarding attorney –initiated and attorney-sanctioned contact with the media.” The response is available (pdf) at - Response to Duke's Motion.

The plaintiffs 18-page response, which asks the Court to deny the requests in Duke’s motion, is extremely persuasive.

Based on what attorneys tell me and what I’ve read of the Duke motion and the plaintiffs’ response, I can’t see how the court will grant any of the requests in Duke’s motion.

I continue to believe what I said when Duke first filed its motion: it was “a stumble.”

Does Duke really believe an attorney of Charles Cooper's caliber and experience would commit ethical violations in any situation, and especially in so public a setting as a press conference or by agreeing to the setting up of an information Web site.

I’ll say more about the motion and response this weekend. posts the first two paragraphs of the response’s Argument. Give them a read if you don’t have time to read the entire response.

There are three exhibits (A, B, and C) attached to the response.

Exhibit A is a copy of the request for change of venue filed Dec. 15, 2006 on behalf of David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, then under indictment but subsequently declared innocent by the NC attorney general.

I strongly encourage you to read the change of venue request asserting the three men could not get a fair trial in Durham because of grossly biased media coverage and statements by, among others, some Duke leaders, faculty and students.

People are starting to forget a lot of what went on during the frame-up attempt and how many spoke out and helped enable it.

The change of venue motion is not a complicated legal document. It can be easily understood by a lay person. It's a valuable reminder.

Exhibits B and C are Duke statements concerning University efforts to settle suits. The plaintiffs provided them to the court as evidence that, while attorneys for the plaintiffs have not, as Duke alleges, violated the NC State Bar’s code of professional conduct or any rule of the court, Duke University appears to have done so.

Obama’s Minister of Hate

That’s the title of a NY Post editorial today. Here’s part of it. I offer comments below the star line.

The NY Post begins - - -

Which of these outrageous positions of his pastor and longtime spiritual advisor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, does Barack Obama endorse?

That African-Americans should not say "God Bless America," but rather "God damn America" for "killing innocent people"?

That 9/11 was a case of "America's chickens coming home to roost"?

That Zionism has an element of "white racism"?

The one implied by his decision to make a pilgrimage to Libyan dictator Moammar Khadafy with Louis Farrakhan - a man Wright's church has hailed for having "truly epitomized greatness"?

These are not idle questions. And certainly not unfair ones.

Just two weeks ago, the Democratic National Committee put out a press release asking the same kind of questions of John McCain, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

The attack concerned Rev. John Hagee, a leading televangelist who endorsed McCain's candidacy; the DNC demanded that McCain renounce Hagee's support because of the minister's past anti-Catholic and anti-Muslim remarks.

Noting McCain's statement that he was "not endorsing some of [Hagee's] positions, the DNC asked: "Which Hagee positions does McCain endorse?"

Well, right back at 'em.

Hagee, it should be noted, has merely announced his support for McCain, with whom he's had no longstanding relationship.

Obama and Wright, by contrast, have been intensely close for two decades: The Chicago minister married the Obamas, baptized their children and dedicated their house. He even provided the title of the senator's book, "The Audacity of Hope."

Now ABC News says it has reviewed dozens of Wright's sermons - and found repeated public denunciations of America.

The rest of the editorial is here.

The DNC and the rest of us have every right to ask: “Which Hagee positions does McCain endorse?”

The same holds with Obama and Rev. Wright.

However, in Obama’s case there’s also his close, two decades long relationship with Wright.

That needs explaining, at least as far as I’m concerned.

The more I learn about Wright, the more disturbed I am that Obama would choose him as his spiritual counselor and bring his children regularly to Wright’s church.

A few years back I met a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. How was she?

“Pretty well,” she said, in a way that let me know things weren’t “pretty well.”

What was wrong?

It seems her minister was given to preaching the gospel in such a way that it was clear he didn’t think that Bush administration policies conformed to Jesus’ teachings.

My friend said the preacher never came right out and attacked the President, but you couldn’t miss his intent.

So a few Sundays before, as she was leaving church after service, she said to the minister: “Next Sunday you can save us all 25 minutes by just saying, ‘I hate Bush. Amen.’”

She wasn’t happy about what she’d done. Some church members were mad at her. Looking for a new church was “a chore.” But “I’d just heard enough from him.”

I wish Obama at some point had had enough of Rev. Wright.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Churchill Series - Mar. 13, 2008

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

Today amusing "orders" Churchill gave Clementine. At the time, they'd been married almost 40 years.

Twenty-eight Hyde Park Gate was the address of their London home. G.H.Q. stands for General Headquarters. The note’s punctuation is as it appears in a published copy.

15 June 1948


You did promise Sept 12 1908 ‘To Love, Honour, & Obey.”

NOW herewith are Orders

5:15 You come up here to rest. E.Y.H. [car registration letters] will bring you & is waiting

7:30 Dinner

8:30 Journey to 28 [Hyde Park Gate]

9:40 Bed & a read

Given at Chartwell G.H.Q.

The Tyrant

Clementine and Churchill had pet names for each other. Hers were Cat and Kit; his were Pug and Pig.

The Tyrant sketched a pig below his Orders.

The note can be found on page 549 of Speaking for Themselves: The Personal Letters of Winston And Clementine Churchill, which their daughter, Lady Mary Soames, edited.

Do Gore and the Nobel Committee know?

From Green Bay, Wisconsin’s Press Gazette comes news that'll be tough sledding for Al Gore and the Nobel Committee ideologues. The paper reports:

So far this snow season (through March 12) Green Bay has received 80.3 inches of snow.

This is the first time in Green Bay’s modern-day weather history that more than 80 inches of snow has been measured (117 years of snowfall data).

Normal seasonal snowfall is 53.1 inches, the National Weather Service in Ashwaubenon reported. …
The entire Press Gazette’s report is here.

Question: Who can best solve the problem of record snow in Green Bay: Hillary or Obama?

One thing’s for sure: McCain and the GOP won’t do anything about it.

Hat tip: Instapundit

Remember Obama’s friend Tony Rezko?

Here’s the Chicago Sun Times’ latest news report on the trial of Tony Rezko, Chicago fixer and long-time friend of Sen. Barack Obama.

At American Thinker blog Thomas Lifson take’s a “closer look” at Rezko. It’s an outstanding post.

Lifson includes this:

There are two good sites for following Rezko news and analysis, Rezkorama and the aforementioned Rezko Watch.

Even if the mainstream media downplay it, the word from the trial will get out, as Patrick Fitzgerald turns over the Rezko rock.
Let's hope Lifson's right about that.

Iran's Eliot Spitzer & Duke's Dick Brodhead

Blog friend Mike Williams sent along the following, after which I comment below the star line.

Mike begins - - -

Sorry, I forgot to add this one to the list of you-might-want-to-reads:

Think New York’s governor has problems…..

General Reza Zarei, Tehran’s chief of police and a member of the Revolutionary Guard, has resigned under a cloud of scandal after he was caught and arrested naked, with no fewer than six nude women, during a government raid on a brothel.

General Zarei had spearheaded recent police operations targeting the enforcement of Islamic dress for women to promote public morality, which have resulted in thousands of arrests.

In courthouses across the country, but especially in Tehran — among lawyers, judges, court clerks, and police — there is talk of little else.

The story, which the Iranian regime has done its utmost to keep out of the press, first leaked out on the leftist Farsi website Peiknet more than a week ago….

Remember Walter Matthau and the movie, “A Guide for the Married Man”? The dénouement for Gen. Zarei probably wasn’t nearly as amusing.


Thanks, Mike.

In Zarei's case, I'm not ruling out he was framed by others in the government who for some reason - a grudge, perhaps, fear of him as a rival, he had something on them so he needed to be discredited and gotten out of office - wanted to get rid of him.

Frame-ups happen all the time in police states. That's how they operate. They have no system of justice.

Frame-ups happen, too, in democracies when you have prosecutors like the now disbarred former Durham DA Mike Nifong and certain police officers and supervisors willing to help with the frame-up; and public and elected officials willing to do their part in the frame-up.

And, of course, if while the framers are working to railroad the innocent into jail, leaders of "the progressive community" and "rights groups," and a high-tuition university, and all but one or two of its law school faculty, and all the area news organizations are willing to go along and enable the frame-up, that makes things easier for the framers, and all the more likely more injustices will follow.

That's why although Nifong and the other framers started out to railroad three white Duke students they soon had to arrange the arrest and trial of a black cab driver because his honest evidence threatened the frame-up attempt.

If you don't believe that, just ask Duke's head, Dick Brodhead. He knows an awful lot about what I've just said.

Brodhead also knows about the ongoing cover-up of the frame-up attempt. Ask him about that, too.

And if you care about preserving your Constitutional rights, pray and act so that the civil rights violations suits which have been filed on behalf of the young men victimized by Nifong, his office, certain Durham police and their supervisors, Meehan's lab, the City of Durham and Duke University succeed in exposing all that was done that shouldn't have been done.

That's the only chance Durham has of learning what it needs to know so we can punish the guilty and acknowledge and protect those who acted fairly and in accord with their duties and our Constitution and laws.

If that doesn't happen, if we don't learn of the travesties and crimes committed in our name, and set out to "right wrongs," then Durham will continue its slid toward being more like Tehran than what our founders dreamed America would be.

Spitzer, Nifong & Their MSM Enablers

Kimberley Strassel in the 3/12 WSJ uses the unfolding Spitzer scandal to provide important insights into how most news organizations work. Anyone who's followed the frame-up attempt by now disbarred former Durham DA Mike Nifong will see many similarities between Spitzer and Nifong on the one hand, and journalists who were all too eager to enable them.

I make some comments below the star line concerning press coverage and enablement of Nifong.

Strassel begins:

The fall of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer holds many lessons, and the press will surely be examining them in coming months. But don't expect the press corps to delve into the biggest lesson of all -- its own role as his enabler.

Journalists have spent the past two days asking how a man of Mr. Spitzer's stature would allow himself to get involved in a prostitution ring.

The answer, in my mind, is clear. The former New York attorney general never believed normal rules applied to him, and his view was validated time and again by an adoring press. "You play hard, you play rough, and hopefully you don't get caught," said Mr. Spitzer two years ago.

He never did get caught, because most reporters were his accomplices.

Journalism has many functions, but perhaps the most important is keeping tabs on public officials. That duty is even more vital concerning government positions that are subject to few other checks and balances.

Chief among those is the prosecutor, who can use his awesome state power to punish, even destroy, private citizens.

Yet from the start, the press corps acted as an adjunct of Spitzer power, rather than a skeptic of it. …

Time magazine bestowed upon Mr. Spitzer the title "Crusader of the Year," and likened him to Moses. Fortune dubbed him the "Enforcer."

A fawning article in the Atlantic Monthly in 2004 explained he was "a rock star," and "the Democratic Party's future." In an uncritical 2006 biography, then Washington Post reporter Brooke Masters compared the attorney general to no less than Teddy Roosevelt.

What the media never acknowledged is that somewhere along the line (say, his first day in public office) Mr. Spitzer became the big guy, the titan. He had the power to trample lives and bend the rules, while also burnishing his own political fortune. He was the one who deserved as much, if not more, scrutiny as onetime New York Stock Exchange chief Dick Grasso or former American International Group CEO Maurice "Hank" Greenberg.

What makes this more embarrassing for any self-respecting journalist is that Mr. Spitzer knew all this, and played the media like a Stradivarius. He knew what sort of storyline they'd be sympathetic to, and spun it.

He knew, too, that as financial journalism has become more competitive, breaking news can make a career. He doled out scoops to favored reporters, who repaid him with allegiance.

News organizations that dared to criticize him were cut off. After a time, few criticized anymore.

Instead, reporters felt obligated to run with whatever he handed them. Consider the report in the wake of a 2005 op-ed in this newspaper by John Whitehead.

A respected Wall Street figure, Mr. Whitehead dared to criticize Mr. Spitzer for his unscrupulously zealous pursuit of Mr. Greenberg. Mr. Spitzer later threatened Mr. Whitehead, telling him in a phone call that "You will pay the price. This is only the beginning and you will pay dearly for what you have done."

Some months later, after more Spitzer excesses, Mr. Whitehead had the temerity to write another op-ed describing what Mr. Spitzer had said.

Within a few days, the press was reporting (unsourced, of course) that Mr. Whitehead had defended Mr. Greenberg a few weeks after a Greenberg charity had given $25 million to the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation -- a group Mr. Whitehead chaired.

So Mr. Whitehead's on-the-record views were met with an unsourced smear implying bad faith. The press ran with it anyway.

In 2005, Mr. Spitzer went on national television to suggest that Mr. Greenberg had engaged in criminal activity. It was front-page news. About six months later, on the eve of a Thanksgiving weekend, Mr. Spitzer quietly disclosed that he lacked the evidence to press criminal charges. That news was buried inside the papers.

What makes this history all the more unfortunate is that the warning signs about Mr. Spitzer were many and manifest. In the final days of Mr. Spitzer's run for attorney general in 1998, the news broke that he'd twisted campaign-finance laws so that his father could fund his unsuccessful 1994 run. Mr. Spitzer won anyway, and the story was largely forgotten.

New York Stock Exchange caretaker CEO John Reed suggested Mr. Spitzer hadn't told the truth when he said that it was Mr. Reed who wanted him to investigate Mr. Grasso's pay. The press never investigated.

Mr. Spitzer's main offense as a prosecutor is that he violated the basic rules of fairness and due process: Innocent until proven guilty; the right to your day in court. …

On the substance, his court record speaks for itself. Most of Mr. Spitzer's high-profile charges have gone up in smoke. A New York state judge threw out his case against tax firm H&R Block. He lost his prosecution against Bank of America broker Ted Sihpol (whom Mr. Spitzer threatened to arrest in front of his child and pregnant wife). Mr. Spitzer was stopped by a federal judge from prying confidential information out of mortgage companies. Another New York judge blocked the heart of his suit against Mr. Grasso. Mr. Greenberg continues to fight his civil charges.

The press was foursquare behind Mr. Spitzer in all these cases, and in a better world they'd share some of his humiliation. …
Yes, but most of the press has no shame and one of the things journalists do best is excuse themselves.

Strassel continues:
Instead, remarkably, they continue to defend him. Ms. Masters, his biographer, was on CNN the day Mr. Spitzer's prostitution news broke, reassuring viewers that the governor really was a "lovely" guy.

Other news reporters were reporting what a "tragedy" it was that such a leading light in the Democratic Party could come to such an ignoble end.

There's little that's tragic about Mr. Spitzer, unless you consider his victims (which would appear to include his own family). The press would do well to meditate on that, and consider how many violations they winked at and validated over the years. Politicians don't exist to be idolized by the press, at least not by any press corps doing its job.
Strassel’s entire column is here.

“Enabling” is an accurate but very understating descriptor of the roles most MSM have played in furthering Spitzer’s career and Nifong’s criminal acts and his two successful election campaigns. “Complicit” is a better descriptor.

In the case of Nifong, there were no press demands he explain why his office sought a court order requiring certain members of the lacrosse team to submit to DNA testing when police knew those members weren’t at the party where Nifong insisted a gang-rape took place.

Nor did the press demand Nifong explain who actually made the decision to seek the court order which most attorneys say was an unconstitutional order.

It’s still not clear today whether Durham Police decided on their own to seek the order or whether they prepared a request for the order in response to a directive from Nifong’s office.

That question should have been asked in March 2006. If Nifong didn’t answer it, reporters should have kept asking and news organizations should have editorially demanded he answer it.

But rather than do that, most news organizations, dominated by liberal Democrats, went along with Nifong’s and others’ rogue conduct, while spinning the PC meta-narrative of race, class and gender.

The Raleigh News & Observer, which led the media charge, withheld news it had of the players’ cooperation with police and instead promulgated Nifong’s lie the players weren’t cooperating with police.

When that later became known, there was no media demand that Nifong hold a press conference and explain why he’d lied about the players’ lack of cooperation. And there was no media condemnation of the N&O for what it did.

Both major Durham area dailies – the N&O and the Durham Herald Sun - went for many months praising Nifong even when it was obvious to any fair-minded, intelligent person he was engaging in a frame-up attempt.

What did the two papers’ editors do?

They mostly castigated Nifong’s victims for underage drinking and hiring strippers and cheered on his enablers. They also looked the other way at police misconduct, something they’re still doing.

Nifong never could have gotten indictments if the local and national media had done a half-way decent and honest job of reporting and commenting on what was a wildly improbable series of conflicting lies told by accuser Crystal Mangum and Mike Nifong.

Americans need to keep our eyes on our news organizations. Many of them can be as dangerous to a free and just society as rogue prosecutors Spitzer and Nifong.

Hat tip: Tarheel Hawkeye

Spitzer: A list of possible charges

Until two days ago NY Governor Eliot Spitzer was one of the most powerful liberal Democrats and often spoken of as a future presidential nominee. Today reporter Don Dahler lays out criminal charges he may face, after which I offer a few comments below the star line.

Now Dahler - - -

Eliot Spitzer's resignation Wednesday spares him and the state the spectacle of an impeachment, but what about an indictment?

It was a rare and unequivocal declaration by U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia: "There is no agreement between this office and Gov. Eliot Spitzer, relating to his resignation or any other matter."

And in Spitzer's own words:

"Over the course of my public life, I've insisted, I think correctly, that people regardless of their position or power take responsibility for their conduct."

But what conduct? And what form will that responsibility take? Legal observers say there's a good chance the governor will be indicted.

"To move funds from one place to the other, to hide the source of the money … it's still going to be money laundering," said John Jay College School of Criminology professor Joseph King.

Experts say "Client 9" could face the following charges:

* Money laundering for trying to conceal the source and recipient of financial transactions.

* Tax evasion, if he was a knowing party to an all-cash business that wasn't filing taxes.

* Violation of the Mann Act for paying for the trip from New York to D.C. by the call girl known as "Kristen."

* Misuse of state resources, if he used his state-issued credit card for hotels or meals with prostitutes as well as if he was being protected by State Troopers during his dalliances.

* And finally, soliciting prostitution.

There's also the question of whether Spitzer used campaign funds for these trysts, which opens up a whole other litany of charges from fraud to federal election violations.

Court documents and published reports indicate perhaps as much as $80,000 were transferred from Spitzer's account to a trio of dummy companies that were fronts for the escort service.

North Fork Bank reportedly grew suspicious when the governor asked that his name be taken off the latest transactions.

The prostitution charge carries the least severe possible sentence. Ironically, one of the first bills Spitzer signed into law raised the penalties for Johns, the men who patronize prostitutes, from a maximum of three months, to now up to a year in jail. Money laundering has a maximum of 20 years.



A repeat from yesterday's comments I bet almost all of us agree on: It’s too soon for the feds to cut a deal with Spitzer.

The feds won’t know enough to weigh what a deal should include until they know as much as can be learned about crimes he may have committed while in office and perhaps before.

It very likely what we’ve learned so far is just the tip of the iceberg.

In any case, the need for a thorough investigation by federal authorities with the power to subpoena records and compel testimony is obvious and urgent.

A deal now would smack more of a cover-up than a resolution.

Spitzer’s fellow liberal Democrats, including the NY Times editorial board and NY’s Sens. Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, should be demanding a “no stone unturned” federal investigation of Spitzer’s conduct.

The silence of liberals regarding an investigation of Spitzer’s conduct is a sad but not very surprising contrast to their demands for an investigation into who “outed” Valerie Plame.

You remember Valeria Plame: the “undercover CIA agent” who lived in DC and for more than 5 years commuted by car to CIA headquarters in Langley, VA.

A number of you have made excellent comments regarding the Spitzer scandal. Thanks.

Later today I plan to look around the blogosphere to find bloggers who are all over the scandal. I suspect some of you have already found some. Mention them on the comment thread. I’ll be sure to take a look.

BTW – Reporter Don Dahler was the first tv reporter to report live from the WTC on 9/11. He’s got a very impressive professional background you can read more about here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Churchill Series - Mar. 12, 2008

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

Churchill’s warnings during the 1930s concerning the threat a rearmed and expansionist Germany posed are well known. Less well known are his warnings concerning Germany in the aftermath of World War I.

At the Paris Peace Conference which followed the November 1918 armistice, there were many who wanted a war settlement that would identify Germany as solely responsible for the war; and punish her severely through loss of territory, restrictions on the size and types of her military forces, and very large financial reparations.

France’s Prime Minister, Georges Clemenceau, was their most influential leader. In June 1919 he told conference delegates they would “be false to those who have given their all to save the freedom of the world if they consent to treat this war on any other basis than as a crime against humanity.”

Clemenceau demanded Germany “ make reparation to the very uttermost of her power.”

Churchill believed a harsh peace would leave Germany economically weak, politically unstable, and eager to throw off the terms of a treaty it viewed as a diktat.

On May 20, 1919, he wrote to Prime Minister Lloyd George who was then attending the conference:

In my opinion it is of profound importance to reach a settlement with the present German Government, and to reach it as speedily as possible. …

The newspapers and public opinion at home, so far as it is vocal, claims the enforcement of the most extreme terms upon the vanquished enemy. …

Disaster of the most terrible kind lies on that road, and I solemnly warn the Government of the peril of proceeding along it. …

Now is the time, and it may be the only time, to reap the fruits of victory. “Agree with thine adversary whilst thou art in the way with him”

Everything shows that the present German Government is sincerely desirous of making a beaten peace and preserving an orderly community which will carry out its agreement.

It seems to me quite natural that they should put forward a series of counter propositions, and we ought to take these up … with patience and goodwill and endeavour to split the outstanding differences.

In this way we shall get a genuine German acceptance of a defeated peace and not be dawn into new dangers measureless in their character.
During the 1920s Churchill worked to moderate some of the terms of the Versailles Treaty. He later saw his worst fears concerning an unstable and resentful Germany fulfilled as Hitler and the Nazis took advantage of those circumstances to seize power and implement their horrific policies and practices.
Clemenceau’s speech can be found here. (scroll down about a third of the way)

Excerpts from Churchill’s letter and the circumstances in which he wrote it can be found in Martin Gilbert’s Winston S. Churchill: The Stricken World. (pgs. 895-897)

For those following the Carson murder story

First, a report from the Durham Herald Sun’s Web site, followed below the star line by later information and a few comments.

The Herald Sun reports ------

Police Chief Brian Curran would neither deny nor confirm Wednesday morning that the department has a suspect in custody in the murder of UNC Student Body President Eve Carson.

Reports earlier in the morning said that Durham police had made an arrest after heavily armed officers raided a home on Rosedale Avenue. The man they arrested there was then turned over to the Chapel Hill police, the report said.

Shortly before 11 a.m., police escorted two people with their heads covered from the Chapel Hill Police Department, put them in a car and drove away. There was no indication where they might be headed.

Curran said that the department might be holding a press conference later Wednesday morning – "depending on how things go."

Carson was murdered last week, her body found in a residential neighborhood about a mile from the UNC campus.

Update at 1:30 pm eastern ---

From a WRAL report:

…Members of the media swarmed the Chapel Hill Police Department, and a news conference about the latest developments scheduled for 11:45 a.m. was delayed until later in the day. (Watch it live on when it happens.)…
You can access WRAL’s Web site here.


The H-S's report thread already has many comments. Some comments are too presumptive and some don’t make sense. There are also some very informed and sensitive comments.

I encourage you to take a look at the thread. As a Durham resident, I think it gives you something of a cross section view of folks in Durham; something traditional media hasn’t done very well since March 2006.

I’m sure many of you have been impressed with the way CH Police Chief Brian Curren has dealt with the media and public. Quite a contrast with the false and reckless statements DPD spokesperson Cpl. David Addison made and published in March and April, 2006.

H/T - Ed in NYC

U. S. Attorney says no deal with Spitzer

From a story reporting NY Governor Eliot Spitzer’s announcement he will resign his office:

… There were rumors that Spitzer had negotiated a plea deal to avoid jail time in the case, but U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia squashed those rumors. "There is no agreement between this Office and Gov. Eliot Spitzer, relating to his resignation or any other matter," he said in a statement to CBS 2….
I posted last evening concerning possible criminal charges Spitzer is likely to face: A Spitzer target letter.

Also, yesterday I posted on the Raleigh News & Observer’s very incomplete reporting on the Spitzer scandal, including the N&O’s failure to report how and why the IRS and federal prosecutors first caught on to the liberal Democrat Spitzer’s activities which may soon lead to his indictment on federal criminal charges relating to financial transactions.

I linked within that post to a NY Times story that did report on that. Go to the post here and then scroll down until you come to the section detailing and linking to the NYT’s story.

First thoughts:

I was glad to hear the feds had not cut a deal with Spitzer. This scandal is in its first stages. I have no doubt there’s a great deal more Spitzer’s done the feds very likely don’t know about.

Something else: Yes, this scandal involves a governor who hired a prostitute and thereby set himself up as a potential blackmail victim. That’s a very serious matter

But what I think is even more serious is Spitzer’s repeated, public and blatant abuses of his office. They need to be fully investigated with an eye toward prosecution where warranted.

More soon.

What do you think?

Today’s story is here.

The Churchill Series - Mar. 11, 2008

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

Churchill’s first wartime visit to the United States occurred shortly after Pearl Harbor. He visited again in June, 1942.

On both occasions Churchill stayed at the White House, to which during his second visit an airmail letter was delivered addressed simply:

Winston Churchill
White House
Washington, D. C.
The envelope was postmarked Denver, Colo., and dated June 21, 1942.

Inside was a single sheet of plain white stationery on which was typed in capital letters:
Churchill returned to England on June 25.

I can't help thinking that if today's White House press corps had been around in 1942 and learned of the letter, the next day we'd have heard in the press briefing room:
"Do you really expect us to believe the Prime Minister's departure had nothing to do with the letter the New York Times made public yesterday?"
The envelope and letter are now at the Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge, U. K.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The world’s safest prediction?

Tonight on Fox News with Brit Hume, a reporter wrapped up a segment on the Spitzer scandal with:

”His days as a corruption fighter may be over.”

A Spitzer target letter

Last evening California-based blogger Patterico, who’s also an attorney and prosecutor for the Los Angles County district attorney's office, posted on the Spitzer scandal[excerpt]:

[A] report says Spitzer is suspected of “structuring” which is the intentional structuring of financial transactions involving cash in amounts less than $10,000 for the purpose of avoiding the filing of “Currency Transaction Reports” with IRS and FBI.

The [federal prosecutors] indicted the prostitution ring based on what they uncovered in looking into Spitzer, but the facts suggest to me that Spitzer has received a target letter indicating that he is the target of a federal criminal investigation for his conduct.
Tonight it seems to me Patterico was right about a target letter.

From this afternoon:
Gov. Eliot Spitzer is set to resign Wednesday, sources tell CBS 2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer, but insiders say he's going to use the resignation as a bargaining chip to cut a deal with federal prosecutors and he won't step down until that happens.

The talks have been going on since Tuesday morning.

The governor's fate rests in the hands of two people: U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia and Michele Hirshman, the head of his legal defense team. The deal they cut will determine Spitzer's future.
Whoa, Nelly. What should have said was: "the deal they may cut would help determine Spitzer’s future, but as of now there’s been no deal announcement from Garcia or Hirshman."

Back to
Criminal law experts say Spitzer will definitely have to resign the governorship and that what's involved in the deal is key.

So what's the best that could happen to him?

"No charges, absolute resignation, and contrition. I think the worst that could happen is a felony plea on one of a number of charges that they could lodge against him," said noted criminal attorney Ronald Fischetti, who has often had to negotiate with feds on behalf of clients. . . .

The very real problem for Spitzer, as he well knows having been a prosecutor and the former Attorney General is that he could be charged with a number of things that carry jail time: tax evasion, money laundering, bringing a prostitute across state lines from New York to Washington.

He also has another problem in the negotiations with Garcia, who could be feeling pressure to throw the book at him.

"It's very important that [Garcia] expresses to the public that everyone is treated alike and if he doesn't charge someone who was the Attorney General and prosecuted crimes, he will be subject to a lot of public criticism that he let [Spitzer] go because he was the governor," said Fischetti.
I'll bet most of you think there'll be more than "a lot of public criticism" if Spitzer is let off with just his resignation and a public apology about what he's called a "private matter."

Patterico's post is here and the story's here.

Raleigh N&O’s 3/11 Spitzer Coverage

(This post is based on coverage in the N&O’s West print edition.)

Put in the kindest terms, today’s Raleigh News & Observer’s coverage of the scandal involving Democratic Governor Eliot Spitzer is restrained and very incomplete.

The N&O runs the story at the bottom of its front-page under the headline:

Governor apologizes as reports link him to prostitutes (unable to link; story not posted at
Below the headline is the full text of Spitzer’s public statement yesterday, a picture of Spitzer reading the statement with his wife, Silda, standing beside him, four paragraphs of story text, and a Details Of Tryst – 4A prompt.

The story (Lisa Anderson, Chicago Tribune) then jumps to pg. 4A.

On 4A there’s some sidebar material including Spitzer bio info of the kind his office would release, a color photo from the Web site of the Emperor’s Club, which provided the prostitute, and a related story headlined:
In affidavit’s tale of tryst, seamy details mix with mundane

The N&O only once mentions Spitzer’s a Democrat; and never says he’s a liberal Democrat.

It says nothing about how Democrats are reacting to news that one of their leaders, who until yesterday was often spoken of as a future Democratic presidential nominee, is now involved in a major scandal.

The N&O doesn’t mention Spitzer is a Clinton superdelegate or discuss what that means in terms of the Clinton-Obama fight for the Democratic presidential nomination. For example, that if Spitzer resigns as governor, he'll lose his superdelegate status and his delegate slot won't be filled.

The N&O also fails to report what many news organizations, including the liberal Washington Post, have reported: asked for comment yesterday, all Sen. Clinton said was "I obviously send my best wishes to the governor and his family."

The N&O’s use of “tryst” in both headline and text was obviously meant to “soften” a story that’s really a major scandal involving a liberal Democrat with a history of abusing the public’s trust.

As the Wall Street Journal said this morning after citing some of Spitzer’s abuses when he served as NY Attorney General:
In our system, citizens agree to invest one of their own with the power of public prosecution. We call this a public trust. The ability to bring the full weight of state power against private individuals or entities has been recognized since the Magna Carta as a power with limits.

At nearly every turn, Eliot Spitzer has refused to admit that he was subject to those limits.

The stupendously deluded belief that the sitting Governor of New York could purchase the services of prostitutes was merely the last act of a man unable to admit either the existence of, or need for, limits.

At the least, he put himself at risk of blackmail, and in turn the possible distortion of his public duties. Mr. Spitzer's recklessness with the state's highest elected office, though, is of a piece with his consistent excesses as Attorney General from 1999 to 2006
All true, but the N&O prefers to speak of Spitzer's “tryst.”

That from the newspaper which two years ago, with no credible evidence, nevertheless ran on its front-page, above the fold headlines:
Dancer Gives Details of Ordeal

A Night of Racial Slurs, Growing Fear, and Finally, Sexual Violence
The N&O left out entirely an extremely important part of the Spitzer story the NY Times, ABC and other news organizations began reporting last evening. It concerns why federal investigators first began looking at what Spitzer was doing. It had nothing to do with prostitution.

From the NYT:
…[According to law enforcement officials] Internal Revenue Service investigators conducting a routine examination of suspicious financial transactions reported to them by banks found several unusual movements of cash involving the governor of New York, several officials said.

[The governor] appeared to be trying to conceal the source, destination or purpose of the movement of thousands of dollars in cash, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The money ended up in the bank accounts of what appeared to be shell companies, corporations that essentially had no real business.

The transactions, officials said, suggested possible financial crimes — maybe bribery, political corruption, or something inappropriate involving campaign finance. Prostitution, they said, was the furthest thing from the minds of the investigators. …
Spitzer, besides getting caught hiring a prostitute(not a crime), may very well be the target of a federal criminal investigation growing out of the investigation into money transactions.

The N&O should have told readers that. I’m sure it would’ve were Spitzer a Republican.

Spitzer has many North Carolina connections. His wife Silda is a native of Concord, NC and a graduate of Meredith College, located just a few miles from the N&O’s Raleigh offices. The Spitzers have many friends in the Triangle area. Spitzer has spoken at both Duke and UNC – Chapel Hill. In April 2003, for example, Spitzer was the keynote speaker at a major conference at Duke concerning public policy and ethics.

The N&O’s only reference to any of the Spitzers’ NC connections is a one-liner in his bio sidebar telling readers Silda Spitzer is a Concord native and graduate of Meredith.

I could say more about today’s N&O coverage, but I don’t want this post to get too long.

Wrap-up comments:

When scandal involving Republicans and true centrist Democrats is involved, the N&O pushes hard. But when one of its own liberal Democrats is involved, it provides the kind of restrained and very incomplete coverage we saw today.

Much of what the N&O failed to report today is being heavily reported by thousands of news organization and bloggers. Their coverage will no doubt be the hard push the N&O needs to begin reporting the Spitzer scandal more fully and with less restraint.

Let’s see what happens tomorrow.

Here are links to the complete texts of the N&O's "tryst" story, the WaPo's story quoting Sen. Clinton, the WSJ editorial, the NYT story, and Duke's announcement of Spitzer's April, 2003 speech.

A great Karl Rove retort

On Hannity & Colmes tonight Sean Hannity introduced Karl Rove with a quote from a NY Times’ writer who’d praised Rove’s election night punditry on Fox News.

What did Rove think when he heard that, Hannity asked?

Rove: “What am I doing wrong to get applause from the New York Times?”

I’ve watched and listened to Rove’s election commentary.

IMO – This is one time a Times’ writer got it right.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Churchill Series - Mar. 10, 2008

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

Some Churchill quotes:

"When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber."
House of Commons speech, July 14, 1940

"Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened."
House of Commons speech, November 29, 1944

"Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all."

"The power of man has grown in every sphere, except over himself."

"It is no use saying, 'We are doing our best.' You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary."

"For myself I am an optimist - it does not seem to be much use being anything else."

The four preceding quotes are from a speech at the Lord Mayor's banquet, London, November 9, 1954

"It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations."

Winston S. Churchill, My Early Life
And it's a good thing for all of us to have quotations from such a great and good person.

Some knew about Spitzer in ‘06

As far back as Apr. 21, 2006 The Albany Times-Union reported . . .

The NY Times, Spitzer and tomorrow

The NY Times today:

Gov. Eliot Spitzer has been caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute at a Washington hotel last month, according to a person briefed on the federal investigation. …

“I have acted in a way that violates my obligation to my family and violates my or any sense of right or wrong,” said Mr. Spitzer, who appeared with his wife Silda at his Manhattan office. “I apologize first and most importantly to my family. I apologize to the public to whom I promised better.”
The Times’ first mention of Spitzer’s party affiliation comes in the 15th paragraph:
Mr. Spitzer had a difficult first year in office, rocked by a mix of scandal and legislative setbacks. In recent weeks, however, Mr. Spitzer seemed to have rebounded, with his Democratic party poised to perhaps gain control of the state Senate for the first time in four decades.
That paragraph reads like: “It’s so sad. What will happen to the Democrats now?”

Here’s the last sentence of the Times’ story:
The Albany County district attorney is set to issue in the coming days the results of his investigation into Mr. Spitzer’s first scandal, his aides’ involvement in an effort to tarnish Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno, the state’s top Republican.
That’s all the Times said about the growing scandal involving key Spitzer aides’ misuse of state police to try to smear Republican Bruno.

In contrast, included this in its Spitzer story:
But his stint as governor has been marred by several problems, including an unpopular plan to grant driver's licenses to illegal immigrants and a plot by his aides to smear Spitzer's main Republican nemesis.

Spitzer had been expected to testify to the state Public Integrity Commission he had created to answer for his role in the scandal, in which his aides are accused of misusing state police to compile travel records to embarrass Senate Republican leader Joseph Bruno.
The Times should have said more about Spitzer and attempts to smear Bruno; and the information shouldn’t have been at the very end of its story.

The Times’ editors know tomorrow hundreds of newspapers will use its story: and millions of people who today can't name the governor of New York will form their first impressions of Spitzer. The Times also knows the editors at those papers are most apt to leave out of what they publish material placed near the end of its story and/or mentioned without background information.

The Times did report:
The man described as Client 9 in court papers arranged to meet with a prostitute who was part of the ring, Emperors Club VIP, on the night of Feb. 13. Mr. Spitzer traveled to Washington that evening, according to a person told of his travel arrangements.

The affidavit says that Client 9 met with the woman in hotel room 871 but does not identify the hotel. Mr. Spitzer stayed at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington on Feb. 13, according to a source who was told of his travel arrangements. Room 871 at the Mayflower Hotel that evening was registered under another name.
But the Times’ story begged the question: why would Spitzer go all the way to Washington to meet a prostitute when there are so many places closer to Albany?

The NBC story gets at that:
Last week, federal prosecutors in Manhattan filed conspiracy charges against four people accusing them of running a prostitution ring that charged wealthy clients in Europe and the U.S. thousands of dollars for prostitutes.

The Web site of the Emperors Club VIP displays photographs of the prostitutes' bodies, with their faces hidden, along with hourly rates depending on whether the prostitutes were rated with one diamond, the lowest ranking, or seven diamonds, the highest. The most highly ranked prostitutes cost $5,500 an hour, prosecutors said.
Why didn’t the Times report that?

Now if it had been John McCain . . .

The Times’ story is here; NBC’s is here.

A WaPo global warming snow job?

It happened, says Lorne Gunter. Writing in Canada’s National Post, Gunter explains:

Just how pervasive the bias at most news outlets is in favour of climate alarmism -- and how little interest most outlets have in reporting any research that diverges from the alarmist orthodoxy -- can be seen in a Washington Post story on the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), announced last week in New York.

The NIPCC is a counter to the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC. The group was unveiled this week in Manhattan at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, along with its scientific report claiming that natural factors -- the sun, El Ninos and La Ninas, volcanoes, etc, -- not human sources are behind global warming.

The Washington Post's first instincts (not just on its opinion pages, but in its news coverage, too) were cleverly to sew doubt of the group's credibility by pointing out to readers that many of the participants had ties to conservative politicians, such as former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, and that the conference sponsor -- the Heartland Institute -- received money from oil companies and health care corporations.

That's standard fare, and partly fair, so that's not what I am talking about.

The insidiousness I am referring to is the unfavourable way the Post compared the NIPCC report to the IPCC's famous report of last year.(emphasis added)

After reminding readers that the IPCC and former U.S. vice-president Al Gore shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for their work on climate change, the paper then, sneeringly, added: "While the IPCC enlisted several hundred scientists from more than 100 countries to work over five years to produce its series of reports, the NIPCC document is the work of 23 authors from 15 nations, some of them not scientists."

First of all, the IPCC and Mr. Gore won the Peace Prize, not a science prize, which only proves they are good at politics. They didn't win the Physics Prize, for instance.

Also, while the former vice-prez may have invented the Internet (by his own admission), he is demonstrably not a scientist. Yet in the same paragraph as the Washington Post lionizes Mr. Gore for his work saving the planet, it backhands non-scientists for meddling in the climate change debate, never once showing any hint it recognized its own hypocrisy.

And the paper displays its utter lack of intellectual curiosity, too.

Hundreds of scientists may have contributed bits and pieces of work to the IPCC's gargantuan report, but just 62 wrote the chapter said to "prove" that man is behind global warming -- not that many more than the 23 from the new NIPCC who the Post so snidely dismiss as inconsequential in number.

And just 52 people -- many of them the kind of non-scientists the Post would have us believe have no business passing judgment -- wrote the IPCC's "Summary for Policy-makers."

That's the publication that gets all the ink and drives the climate alarmism because it contains the most provocative statements about the certainty of manmade warming.

The bias is that whatever the IPCC and its defenders claim, the Washington Post and most other outlets report without scrutiny. Meanwhile, the motives and sources of all sceptics are instantly suspected and derided. …
Gunter presents a lot more detail before concluding:
I don't believe we are headed for an ice age any more than we're hurtling towards a meltdown. But we are in the midst of overwhelming bias in favour of the meltdown side.
The column is here.

It’s a don’t miss because of what is says about climate change and its demonstration about media bias. It will help you to be careful when you read those papers and magazines and listen to Katie, Brian and especially the liberal/leftists at NPR.

N&O Beats On Bloggers. Again!

The Raleigh News & Observer, whose racially inflammatory, grossly biased and often false coverage led the media frenzy which launched the Duke witch hunt and enabled so many of the injustices that followed, today runs another “blogs are bad” story.

This one’s headlined:

Suicide followed anonymous jabs

Blog vitriol comes under scrutiny
It begins:
Advertising blogs churn out some of the Web's more scathing, and personal, vitriol. Recently, the bloggers absorbed some body blows of their own.

Visitors to AgencySpy and AdScam, two sharp-tongued blogs written by advertising industry insiders, posted comments blaming the sites for contributing to the suicide late last month of Paul Tilley, 40, the creative director of DDB Chicago.

In so doing, bloggers and their readers added another chapter in a long debate about how, or whether, to manage anonymous posts that seem aimed at shredding a person's reputation. …

Gregory K. Brown, a specialist on suicide at the University of Pennsylvania, said public humiliation could play a role in suicide because "hopelessness is often a major risk factor, and if you've been publicly humiliated and your reputation has been tarnished forever, you could see how someone could become hopeless."

Before his death, Tilley had come under particularly harsh criticism on the blogs. …
The entire N&O story is here.

The story does not say MSM news organizations frequently air and print anonymous source comments every bit as critical of people – and often much more so – than the comments the N&O reports were directed at Mr. Tilley, whose death I regret.

Do you recall during the 2004 presidential campaign the charges Dan Rather and CBS' 60 Minutes hurled at President Bush based on forged documents they obtained from an anonymous source they said was “unimpeachable?”

It turned out Rather’s and CBS’ “unimpeachable” anonymous source was long-time Bush-hater and Democratic Party activist Bill Burkett who only agreed to give them some of the documents after they’d arranged for him to speak directly with President Clinton’s former Press Secretary Joe Lockhart, who was then one of Sen. Kerry’s top aides.

The N&O itself allowed Crystal Mangum to anonymously make demonstrably false charges of gang-rape, beating, strangulation and racial harassment against a group of innocent Duke students.

It splashed her charges across five columns of its front-page in a story it said was about a night ending in “sexual violence” of which she was “the victim.”

The N&O even praised her in an editorial for having “the courage” to come forward and make her accusations for which the NC attorney general later said there was no credible evidence.

And now the N&O warns us about blog comments.

Folks, there are some blog comments that deserve to be deleted. I delete, for example, ad hominems.

Compare that with the N&O’s “journalism standards” which allowed Crystal Mangum to make unsubstantiated and vicious attacks on innocent students; after which the N&O hyped her false statements; made false statements itself; and encouraged and affirmed the hate-filled pot-bangers and "Duke 88" types who attacked and endangered the students.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Did Barry Saunders lie? Or did the N&O?

At the Raleigh News & Observer’s Editors’ Blog Executive Editor for News John Drescher has a question. Excerpt from Drescher’s post:

…Columnist Barry Saunders takes a second swing today at the 38 Duke lacrosse players who weren’t charged in the case but have filed suit against multiple parties. Click here for the full column.

Last week, Saunders wrote: “The lawsuit claims the plaintiffs have been aggrieved by the negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Say what? Oh, their wittle feelings have been hurt.”

What do you think of these Saunders’ columns? ...

I’ve just left the following comment on the thread of Drescher’s post.

Dear Editor Drescher:

After reading Saunders' columns, my first thought was: "Saunders’ slimes of the players and their parents is on message with Drescher and the N&O."

That's because you and other senior N&O editors as well as McClatchy News don't want to see the 38 suit or the other suits go forward lest they expose your roles in the trashing and endangerment of the players, the enablement of the frame-up attempt and the sustaining of the ongoing cover-up of the frame-up attempt.

So after all you've already done to them, you'll now enable Saunders to slime the players and their families; their attorneys, too.

My second thought was: “Ruth Sheehan admitted the source for her March 27, 2006 “Team’s silence is sickening” column was Mike Nifong. So who was the source for Saunders’ March 28, 2006 column, “Beauty in a place of horror?”

You know, the column in which Saunders said:
From what I hear, the young lady was a novice stripper, which won't make a bit of difference to the moralists who'll blame her anyway.

It would, however, explain why she didn't know that she should've hustled her 6-inch clear heels out of that crib as soon as she realized that an engagement to dance for five men turned out to be a "boys gone wild" gig with close to 50 males. (Don't dare call them men.)
The N&O knew from the beginning of her lies that Crystal Mangum had a long history as a stripper.

Editor Drescher, you knew Saunders’ “novice stripper” description was false.

In June 2002 the N&O reported Mangum had been stripping at a men's club when she stole a guy's keys and car; and then tried to run down Durham Deputy Sheriff John Carroll when he gave chase.

Durham police, deputies, news reporters and many others here in Durham knew from the beginning who Mangum was and that the "new" to dancing claim the N&O first reported on March 25, 2006 was false

So the questions I ask myself when I read a Barry Saunders column are the same ones any sensible person should ask:

Did Saunders really believe Mangum “was a novice stripper?” Or was he lying?

Didn’t everyone covering Mangum’s “story” after March 14 know who she was?

Why did you and other senior N&O editors publish Saunders’ March 28, 2006 column when you knew for days Mangum true history?

Why did you decide not to publish her history which was relevent to the case and refuted what she'd said and you'd reported?

Why did you and others at the N&O decide instead to promulgate another lie about the players refusing to cooperate with police?

Why does the N&O continue to say it's "proud of our 'Duke rape case' coverage?"

There are more questions I want to ask about Saunders’ columns.

But first, please answer the questions I’ve asked here.

You know the answers.

Thank you.

John in Carolina

More on Duke's Motion to Suppress

Iwant to follow-up on my Mar. 2 post: Duke Motion a Stumble. If you’re not familiar with its contents, give it a look. Also take a look at U. of Maryland Law Professor and Duke alum Jason Trumpbour’s detailed examination of the motion in terms of ethics and law. ( "Law Prof on Duke's Motion")

First, I said in Duke Motion a Stumble :

I think it's significant the motion was filed a week after Duke alleges the violations of ethics and court rules occurred. The motion is brief; it looks to be something a few attorneys could turn out in a matter of hours.

Why, then, did Duke wait a week before filing this motion, when it could easily have filed it by Feb. 25?

I'm guessing there was a good deal of discussion - possibly even intense disagreement - concerning this motion.(emapahsis added)

For example, I can easily see someone(s) urging Duke that if the motion was to be filed at all, that it not repeatedly make the harsh and very, very questionable claim that Charles Cooper was a principal in actions which violated NC's State Bar's code of ethics.

Why not just file something saying softly that as Duke reads the relevant court rule, Cooper's press conference,, and the press release seem counter to the court's intention, and ask the court to rule on the question?

What sense does it make to charge one of the nation's most respected attorneys with ethics violations when it's very likely he did not violate ethics?
I’m not a lawyer myself, but I’ve been in touch with five this past week who agree with what I just presented here.

Every attorney said in one way or another: There’s no basis for an ethics charge. Terms used to describe Duke’s actions included “nasty,” “typical of Duke. They’re always that way,” “Dumb. It will p.o. a federal judge. Duke isn’t going into Stephens' court,” and “Duke’s just trying to put some dirt on Cooper. Make him seem like he’s doing what Nifong was doing. Maybe they’ll fool some alumni, but a federal judge won't fall for it.”

Given what those attorneys said and given Trumpbour’s post, I’m even more confident than I was last week that truth and justice seekers can look forward with confidence to the hearing later this month on Duke’s motion.

On the matter of Duke wanting to, as one attorney said, “put some dirt on Cooper,” the Raleigh N&O's treatment of the story is revealing. Published Mar. 1 with the headline,
Duke says lawyer in lacrosse case violating bar rule,
the story under Anne Blythe’s byline began:
Duke University is accusing the lawyer representing 38 members of the 2006 Duke lacrosse team of violating the same professional rule of conduct that fallen prosecutor Mike Nifong did.

J. Donald Cowan Jr. and Dan J, McLamb, lawyers for Duke and the Duke University Health System, filed a motion in federal court Thursday complaining about the Web site, a news conference and other communications by Chuck Cooper, the Washington lawyer representing the players.

Thirty-eight members of the Duke 2006 lacrosse team filed suit last week, saying their reputations were damaged by their association to an escort service dancer's phony gang-rape allegations.

Cooper and Robert Bork Jr., the group's hired publicist and son of rejected Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, announced the lawsuit at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington. …

In its ethical rules, the State Bar orders lawyers to refrain from statements outside the courtroom that they know might have "a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing" legal proceedings. But once one side talks to the media, ethics rules say, the other side can make statements "a reasonable lawyer" would believe are required to protect a client from bad publicity.

In their latest motion, the Duke lawyers complained that statements made by the players' attorney and his agents "appear calculated to 'influence the actual outcome of the trial' and prejudice a jury.

"In summary, the creation and aggressive promotion of a Web site purporting to be the 'the official source' of information about the lawsuit, the press conference at the National Press Club" and a news release issued Feb. 21 "make clear the plaintiffs' intention to 'use the techniques of modern communication ... to win litigation,' " the motion says.

Neither Cooper nor Bork could be reached for comment late Friday afternoon.
The entire Blythe/N&O story's here.

I’ve posted before concerning why I believe the N&O does not want this suit any of the suits to advance, and especially not this one which has the greatest potential to expose the self-serving myth the N&O and others have promoted.

The myth goes something like this: Sure the N&O got a few things wrong in those first stories, but that’s, as the editors say, because the players, their parents and attorneys weren’t giving the paper any help. But after those first few days the paper produced one great story after another. You can read all about it in Taylor & Johnson’s Until Proven Innocent.

If there’s discovery and trial involving this suit the public will learn a great deal about the N&O that can’t be fit into “the first few days” myth.

The N&O doesn’t want that to happen. That’s why Blythe’s story and its headlines played up Duke purposes rather than offering something more balanced and with substantial acknowledgment of what most attorneys are saying: Duke knows Charles Cooper didn’t violate ethics

Instead of doing that, Blythe and the N&O produced a story that was hit-piece journalism, pure and simple.

A brilliant ridicule of “liberal guilt”

That’s what Mark Steyn provides in his latest column which begins:

Well, we will have Hillary Clinton to kick around some more, at least for another few weeks. The Mummy (as my radio pal Hugh Hewitt calls her) kicked open the sarcophagus door and, despite the rotting bandages dating back to Iowa, began staggering around, terrorizing folks all over again.

"She is a monster," Barack Obama adviser Samantha Power told a reporter from The Scotsman – and not a monster in a cute Loch Ness blurry, long-distance kind of way. "You just look at her and think, 'Ergh,'" continued Ms. Power, who subsequently resigned from the campaign.

The New York Times took a different line. The monster is you – yes, you, the American people.

Surveying the Hillary-Barack death match, Maureen Dowd wrote: "People will have to choose which of America's sins are greater, and which stain will have to be removed first. Is misogyny worse than racism, or is racism worse than misogyny?"

Do even Democrats really talk like this? Apparently so. …
Steyn's brilliant column includes a look at “victim” and “ethnic appeal” Democratic Party leaders:
As for victims, you have to feel sorry for John Edwards. He was born in a mill. He weighed 1.6 pounds and what did his dad get? Another day older and deeper in debt.

John spent most of the 19th century as a spindly 7-year-old sweep with rickets, cleaning chimneys in Dickensian London until Fagin spotted him and trained him up as a trial lawyer. And it worked swell in the 2004 primary but it counted for nothing this time round because, even with all that soot on his face, he's still a white boy.

Bill Richardson was the first Hispanic candidate but nobody needs a Hispanic called "Bill Richardson." …
There’s much more like that in a column that’s sure to “shock” the kind of liberals Steyn ridicules.

Don’t miss it, especially if you’re just starting to doubt the “truths” the NY Times and NPR tell you.

It'll help set you free and it's all here.

Hat tip: AC