Saturday, April 05, 2008

The NY Times & “bankruptcy reform”

The NY Times’ reputation, bottom line and stock price have all tanked.

The Times has been unable to come up with any solutions to the tankings.

Letting hundreds of workers go doesn't seem to have helped much.

But never mind any of that.

The Times is confident it has solutions to other peoples problems.

Do know someone who took out a bigger mortgage than they could handle? Or a mortgage lender who made subprime (read high risk) mortgages to people with questionable credit histories and got a “performance bonus” for making those high risk mortgages?

How about a lending institution that made such loans under government pressure to lend in “traditionally under-served neighborhoods” to a more “diverse population?”

The Times has "solutions" for all of them. Excerpts from a Times editorial today:

…Congress is just now getting around to responding to the foreclosure crisis, doing things that would have been too modest even months ago, and are now clearly not up to the scale of the problem.

In the relief package debated by the Senate this week and expected to pass next week, lawmakers bowed to the mortgage industry. They ditched what would have been the bill’s most powerful measure — allowing bankrupt homeowners to have their mortgages modified under court protection.(emphasis added)

The remaining features in the package are smaller bore — $10 billion in tax-exempt bonds to help local housing agencies refinance subprime loans, $4 billion for local governments to buy foreclosed properties and $100 million to expand counseling for homeowners at risk. …

Congress has all the data it needs to quit dithering and take bold action.

Restoring the bankruptcy reform to the relief package as it moves through Congress would be a good place to start. …
George Will today tells us some of what’s wrong with the Times’ “solutions”, particularly "bankruptcy reform," which the Washington Post and many Senate Democrats also favor [excerpts]:
… [Sen. John McCain] says "it is not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they are big banks or small borrowers." For now, he is with Senate Republicans in opposing the Democrats' proposal to empower judges to rewrite the terms of some mortgages, an idea that strikes at the sanctity of contracts and hence at the ethic of promise-keeping that is fundamental to social life.

He opposes an additional dose of the toxin that has made the credit system sick -- he favors strengthening rather than weakening down-payment requirements for loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration.

And [McCain] has admirably avoided the rhetoric of victimology, such as that used when The Post editorialized that "lenders pushed tens of billions of dollars in potentially high-interest mortgage debt on people ill-equipped to handle it."

Pertinent questions were elided by The Post's formulation of the problem, a formulation in the spirit of the liberal narrative about "predatory" lenders.
How much pushing of lenders was required when they were being pushed by a bipartisan political consensus that, such are the community benefits from homeownership, it should be maximized?

What portion of the subprime borrowers currently in distress -- 30 percent? 50? 70? -- lunged for loans requiring 5 percent or less (if any) down payments and fibbed about their financial assets and capabilities? …
The Times editorial is here; Will’s column’s here.

I’m with McCain on these issues.

What the Times, WaPo and the Dems are proposing amounts to rewarding those who did things they shouldn’t have and making the rest of us meeting our mortgage obligations – still over 97% of mortgage holders – pick up the bill for those who don't.

NY & Illinois Gubernatorial crime rates: questions

Yes, I’ve read about New York’s Democratic Governors Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson, and their involvement with prostitution and other forms of sleaze.

I’ve also read the 2006 NY Times’ editorials enthusiastically endorsing both men.

But frankly, my dear readers, I don’t know a thing about New York’s Gubernatorial crime rate.

What about Illinois?

That’s different.

From Rick Moran at American Spectator :

…No fewer than 3 of the last 7 governors of Illinois have gone to jail for corruption. The most recent inmate being previous governor George Ryan [,a Republican,] who pressured state workers to raise money for his campaigns when Secretary of State, while overseeing a "pay for play" scheme at drivers license bureaus where unqualified truck drivers bribed state employees to get licenses.

One such driver was involved in a horrific accident that killed 6 children. The resulting investigation into that crash unmasked the conspiracy. More than 70 lobbyists, state employees, and government officials have been convicted in connection with the scheme.

And to list the corruption associated with Mayor Daley's Chicago Democratic Machine would require an encyclopedia-length dissertation. The most recent example of Machine sleaze was the conviction of one of the Mayor's closest aides in a city hall patronage scandal that had Barack Obama praising hizzoner for beginning to "clean up" city hall.

Frankly, I believe the Augean Stables would be an easier place to start cleaning up. Might as well start with something less taxing than trying to clean up Chicago politics.

The sleaze is not limited to Chicago -- not by any means. The sad fact is, the entire state is in some ways a gigantic cesspool of bid rigging, kickback schemes, cronyism, and outright bribery greased by campaign contributions, and where the businessman, the criminal, and the politician merge into a seamless, corrupt beast that greedily feeds at the public trough.

The beast survives due to an apathetic public and, despite some noble exceptions, a curiously quiescent press who seem to have adopted the blasé attitude in some cases that everyone does it so what's new?...
Moran’s entire post is here.

Folks, this time two years ago we were reading and hearing so much in MSM about what then House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called “a culture of corruption.”

The malfactors Pelosi and the Dem/MSM called out certainly deserved to be punished.

But why aren’t Pelosi and her Dem/MSM flacks speaking up now?

Why aren’t they urging Sen. Barack Obama to speak out and condemn the political corruption in his home state?

Why isn’t Obama telling us what he’s done to CHANGE “the culture of corruption” there?

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Churchill Series - Apr. 4, 2008

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

Reader’s Note: Previous posts dealing with John(Jack) Strange Spencer Churchill (1880-1947) and his relationship with his only brother and sibling, Winston S. Churchill (1874-1965), are here, here, here, and here.

On Aug. 8, 1908, Jack Churchill married Lady Gwendeline Bertie, whom Winston knew and liked. Later that day, Winston wrote to Clementine Hozier, to whom he would propose in a few days and marry a month later:

I have just come back from throwing an old slipper into Jack’s departing motor-car. It was a very pretty wedding. No swarms of London fly-catchers. No one came who did not really care & the only spectators were tenants & countryfolk. Only children for bridesmaids & Yeomanry with crossed swords for pomp.

The bride looked lovely & her father & mother were sad indeed to lose her. But the triumphant Jack bore her off amid showers of rice & pursuing cheers – let us pray – to happiness & honour.
Jack and Goonie (as she was always called) were, much like Winston and Clementine: intelligent, generous, witty and deeply in love.

Clementine and Goonie quickly became fast friends. They discussed details of their children’s development and their husbands’ careers. They shared opinions concerning art, music, social issues, and affairs of state. In later years they traveled together to such places as Venice, Florence, Rome, Paris and the South of France.

Besides delighting in each others company, the two couples often cared for each others children.

For a time during WW I while Winston served on the Western front and Jack served in the Eastern Mediterranean and later on the Western front, Clementine and her children moved in with Goonie and her three children.

During the early 1920s, with Winston’s career at a low point, the families vacationed together. This time it wasn’t as enjoyable as in the past. Churchill was not himself. Goonie realized he was depressed.

One afternoon Goonie, a talented amateur painter, told Winston that painting might lessen his depression. She was just about to paint. Why didn’t he grab a brush. She had extra canvas. She’d show him a few things, and he could be on his way.

And off he went until the very last years of his life.

Right up until Goonie’s illness and death in 1941, Winston and Clementine counted on Jack and Goonie (nicknamed “the Jagoons”) for generous love that included a quality rare at any time, and vital to a statesman: discretion.

The Jagoons never let them down. Candid when speaking to Winston and Clementine, they were expert at protecting Winston and Clementine’s private lives and unguarded comments.

In Monday’s post, I’ll conclude this series with a sketch of Jack’s later years and some thoughts on his achievements, including his contributions to Winston and Clementine’s lives.

I hope you all have a very nice weekend.


Winston’s letter describing Jack and Goonie’s wedding can be found on pgs. 12-13 of Speaking for Themselves: The personal Letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill (Mary Soames, Editor). I relied on that work for other material in this post. I also made use of Martin Gilbert’s Churchill: A Life and Richard Hough’s Winston and Clementine: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Churchills.

Sounds like, sounds like ...

The AP reports:

In chilling videos shown to a jury Friday, men accused of plotting to bring down jetliners over the Atlantic called for revenge for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and praised Osama bin Laden.

Six of the eight defendants videotaped messages denouncing the West for what they said was its suppression of Muslims, prosecutor Peter Wright said as he outlined his case to jurors at a London court. ...

"I say to the nonbelievers, as you bomb, you will be bombed. As you kill, you will be killed," said Umar Islam, 29, as he angrily wagged a finger at the camera, denouncing the U.S. and Britain for their role in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories. ...
"I say to the nonbelievers, as you bomb, you will be bombed. As you kill, you will be killed."

That sounds like who?

You don't know?

Hint: "America's chickens coming home to roost."

Ah, now you know.

Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Ok, but why didn't Sen. Barack Obama, a very smart man, know what his close friend and pastor said the Sunday after 9/11 or anytime thereafter until just a few weeks ago?

The NYT, CBS, NPR, the DNC, George Soros and the rest of them still haven't answered that question.

Will they tell us before November?

The entire AP story's here.

Take the N&O’s “big hockey game” quiz

Did you know I can tell some very important things about you based on how you respond to a brief post Raleigh News & Observer Senior Editor Dan Barkin’s published this morning at the N&O’s Editors’ Blog?

If you don’t believe me, just read his post and then check what I say about you.

First, Barkin’s post, "Big hockey game tonight"; then my “analysis” below the star line.

Barkin begins - - -

If you go to the Carolina Hurricanes (sic) web site, you will see a big ad for playoff tickets. Tonight's game against Washington may determine whether there will be any playoffs for the Canes. If they win tonight in regulation, they clinch their division. If they lose, they are tied with Washington with two games to go.

You will also see on the Cane's (sic) site that Ray Whitney, who has missed the last 12 games after ankle surgery, is listed as "probable" for tonight's big game in Washington.

But if you go to Luke DeCock's blog, you will see that he is a little skeptical. Here is what he wrote today:

"I'm not ready to believe that Ray Whitney is ready to go until I see it, so I'm going to assume Wade Brookbank is still in the lineup until warmups. I am, however, willing to believe that Justin Williams and Bret Hedican are OK to go."

Luke was up in Northern Virginia, at the Washington Capital's (sic) practice facility. Go to Lord Stanley's Blog to look at his updates.

Two of the NHL's biggest stars are in tonight's game, the Cane's (sic) Eric Staal and the Capital's (sic)Alex Ovechkin, the league's leading scorer.

We'll have the results and a game story at later tonight.


After reading Barkin’s post, did you say to yourself something like: “Gee, that sure was nice of Mr. Barkin to take time from his busy day to let us know about “the big hockey game tonight?”

If you did, you’re a faithful N&O reader.

Now, what if you said something like: “What Barkin’s doing here is advertising. He’s using tonight’s game and Ray Whitney’s playing status as a draw to get readers to Luke DeCock’s Lord Stanley’s blog which I bet is an N&O blog with lots of advertising.

Barkin hype’s tonight’s game with mentions of “two of the NHL’s biggest stars” and ties them to a not subtle “ad” for the “game story” at

Barkin’s post is a reminder that most MSM “news organizations” are really in the sales and advertising business?”

If you said something like that to yourself, you won’t be fooled much by the N&O and other such “news organizations.”

Some of you who read Barkin’s post have some memory the N&O’s ended its deliberately fraudulent Mar. 25, 2006 story it said was about the young mother’s “ordeal” involving “sexual violence” with:

Paul Haagen, chairman of Duke's Academic Council, was in a faculty meeting about the incident.

"There was a sense of, 'This is sad, and it's terrible,' " Haagen said. "Beyond that, people don't know what's going on."

Haagen, a law professor who specializes in sports law, said studies show that violence against women is more prevalent among male athletes than among male students in general -- and higher still among such "helmet sports" as football, hockey and lacrosse.

"These are sports of violence," he said. "This is clearly a concern."
You folks who remembered the end of that N&O story will be the hardest of all to fool.

Raleigh N&O Arrogance (Post 4)

Readers Note: This is the fourth of a five-post series providing examples of the Raleigh News & Observer’s arrogance during its Duke lacrosse coverage. The examples also reveal some of the disingenuousness that was an essential and pervasive part of the N&O’s grossly biased, racially inflammatory and often false Duke Hoax reporting during Spring 2006 and thereafter.


This past Sunday Raleigh News & Observer publisher Orage Quarles III told readers:

We have a mission to advance our tradition of excellent public-service journalism and serve our community.
When I read that I thought of an email I sent Quarles some weeks ago (see post here) and his response.

Here's part of the email. I resume commenting below the star line.

Dear Mr. Quarles:

I’m an N&O subscriber and blog as John in Carolina.

For many months I’ve been posting concerning claims by Ruth Sheehan that then DA Mike Nifong was an anonymous source for her March 27, 2006 column “Team’s silence is sickening.” For example, in Nifong an N&O anonymous source (Post 1) 7/29/07 and Nifong an N&O anonymous source (Post 2) 8/1/08. ...

No reporter or editor would speak about the matter until recently when, in response to the email in this post - What's really hurting the N&O , Ted Vaden he sent me the email you’ll find in this post: N&O editor's response re: Nifong an anonymous source.

You'll see Vaden’s email avoided my questions and contains statements which are prima facie false.

On Feb. 6 I sent Vaden another email and a link to this post: Is the N&O public editor's job about the truth?

I once again laid out all the material relating to the N&O’s use of Nifong as an anonymous source and asked again the questions I’ve been asking for many months.

I ended my email, which I also posted for JinC readers, with this:
Given all of the foregoing, Editor Vaden, it's difficult to see how a reasonably responsible public editor would claim Sheehan is saying anything other than Nifong was an anonymous source for her March 27 column; or that she is saying anything other than Nifong's source information was passed to her by journalist(s) she reached by phone at the N&O.

I hope you will now give me and all other N&O readers full and frank answers to the questions I've been asking about the N&O's use of Nifong as an anonymous source in March 2006.

Isn't that the kind of service a public editor is supposed to provide readers?

If you can't provide that service, please direct me to someone at the N&O or the McClatchy Company who can?

I'll publish your response in full at my blog.

Thank you for your attention to this document.


John in Carolina
I’ve not heard anything back from Vaden.

I ask that you review the documentation and questions in my post and then direct me to the person at the N&O or in the McClatchy Company who can provide full and frank answers to what Ruth Sheehan has said and the questions I’ve asked. ...

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

I’ll publish your response in full at my blog.


John in Carolina

Now, folks, what sort of response to that email should a reader expect from an MSM newspaper publisher who tells them:
We have a mission to advance our tradition of excellent public-service journalism and serve our community?
Here in full is Quarles' response:
Dear John in Carolina.

We do not provide anonymous source information.


Orage Quarles III
Given the matters I raised, including false statements his public editor made to a reader, and the documentation I provided him, I was hoping for something more from Quarles.

His response is arrogant and disingenuous.

It's an example of both the contempt many MSM news executives and journalists have for readers and of their willingness to overlook the actions of those within their ranks who knowingly mislead readers.

Is it any wonder the public holds journalists in such low esteem?

A Worried Pelosi Warns Petraeus

First excerpts from a Politico story, then my comments below the star line.

Politico begins - - -

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned Army Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker on Thursday not to "put a shine on recent events” in Iraq when they testify before Congress next week.

“I hope we don’t hear any glorification of what happened in Basra,” said Pelosi, referring to a recent military offensive against Shiite militants in the city led by the Iraqi government and supported by U.S. forces.

Although powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr agreed to a ceasefire after six days of fighting, Pelosi wondered why the U.S. was caught off guard by the offensive and questioned how the ceasefire was achieved, saying the terms were "probably dictated from Iran.”

“We have to know the real ground truths of what is happening there, not put a shine on events because of a resolution that looks less violent when in fact it has been dictated by al-Sadr, who can grant or withhold that call for violence,” Pelosi said.

Petraeus, the top military commander in Iraq, and Crocker, the U.S. ambassador, will make their return to Capitol Hill on April 8 and 9 to deliver their assessment of the situation on the ground in Iraq. ….

The rest of the Politico story's here.

I wonder how Speaker Pelosi will feel if Gen. Petraeus says something like this about “what happened in Basra”:

While the balance of power in the city is now unclear, the judgment by some Western analysts that the cease-fire was a triumph for the Mahdi Army seems premature.

Similar assessments after inconclusive U.S. battles with the Mahdi Army in 2004 proved unfounded, and in this instance Mr. Sadr was obliged to publicly disown "anyone carrying a weapon and targeting government institutions."

What the end of the fighting demonstrated is that Mr. Maliki's government and army are not yet strong enough to decisively impose themselves by force in areas controlled by the Mahdi Army or other militias, at least not without the full support of U.S. ground forces.

The fact that such support remains available to the government no doubt contributed to Mr. Sadr's embrace of a cease-fire. By the same token, American withdrawal could precipitate a far bloodier conflict that, if won by the Mahdi Army, would be a major reversal for U.S. interests in the Middle East.

At best, the battle of Basra will persuade the Shiite parties to fight for control over the city in upcoming provincial elections, rather than in the streets. But the fact that an Iraqi government commonly described as impotent and inert now is willing and able to fight Shiite militias is a step in the right direction.
If Petraeus testifies along those lines, will Pelosi think she’s hearing “glorification of what happened in Basra?”

The statements I just cited are from a Washington Post editorial yesterday, "Battle of Basra."

Questions for Speaker Pelosi: What’s it like to be Speaker of the House of Representatives and worried American and Iraqi government successes in Iraq will be bad for your party?

Do you feel you’re doing all you can to downplay successes in Iraq and precipitate an American withdrawal which, while good for the Democrats' political interests, the Washington Post points out “would be a major reversal for U.S. interests in the Middle East?"

Instead of trying to influence Gen. Petraeus’ testimony and set the stage for spinning anything positive he may say, how about explaining to the American people how the Democratic Party came to be, in the words of Charles Krauthammer, “invested in our defeat in Iraq?”

To the WaPo edit board: Thank you for a fair, informed and balanced editorial. I wish the NYT edit board would learn how to write such editorials.

Hat tips: Instapundit, Mike Williams, Jennifer Rubens.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Churchill Series - Apr. 3, 2008

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

Reader’s Note: Previous posts in this "series within the series" concerning John (Jack) Strange Spencer Churchill (1880-1947) and his relationship with his only brother and sibling, Winston S. Churchill (1874-1965), are here, here and here.

A reader left a very nice comment on the thread of yesterday's post. I thank the reader for that comment and others he's made.


On January 28, 1900, Jack Churchill arrived in Durban, South Africa, aboard a hospital ship, Maine, which his mother, Lady Randolph Churchill, had helped raise funds to equip. Recently commissioned in the Territorials (something like America's National Guard), Jack had volunteered to serve in the Boer War.

Within a week of his arrival, Jack turned twenty and was serving alongside his brother Winston, five years his senior and, by then, an experienced combat officer who’d already seen action along what is now the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, in Sudan and South Africa.

The brothers’ first combat action together occurred on Feb. 12 when they were part of a mounted scouting patrol which encountered a much larger Boer force. The British patrol retreated under fire and appeared to have ridden clear of the Boers. Winston tells us what happened next:

I looked back over my shoulder from time to time at Hussar Hill or surveyed the large brown masses of our rearmost squadrons riding so placidly home across the rolling veldt. I remarked to my companion, “We are still much too near those fellows.”

The words were hardly out of my mouth when a shot rang out, followed by the rattle of magazine fire from two or three hundred Mauser rifles. A hail of bullets whistled among our squadrons, emptying a few saddles and bringing down a few horses.

Instinctively our whole cavalcade spread out into open order and scampered over the crest now nearly two hundreds yards away. Here we leapt off our horses, which were hurried into cover, threw ourselves on the grass and returned the fire. …

Jack was lying by my side. All of a sudden he jumped and wriggled back a yard or two from the line. He had been shot in the calf, in this his very first skirmish. …

I helped him from the firing-line and saw (that he received medical attention).
After treatment at a field hospital, Jack was evacuated to the Maine to complete his recovery. His mother had come out with the hospital ship and Winston soon joined them on board for a period of some days.

Jack later returned to the fighting. He was mentioned in dispatches and awarded the Queen’s Medal with five clasps.

For some years before WW I , Jack and Winston served together in the Oxfordshire Yeomanry, at the time a reserve unit whose members pursued civilian careers while training periodically.

Jack was on active duty throughout WWI. He served first near Dunkirk where the British fought to stop the German’s initial advance along the channel coast. Afterwards he served on the Western front, later at Gallipoli and, finally, back again on the Western front after British forces were withdrawn from Gallipoli.

As in the Boer War, Jack served with distinction. He was mentioned in dispatches; and in 1918 was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

Most historians say the quality Churchill most admired in a man was physical bravery. Jack, he knew, was such a man.

In tomorrow’s post the brothers marry within a month of each other; their wives become close friends; and the two couples move through life sharing good times and bad until death parts them.
For this post I’ve drawn from Speaking for Themselves: The personal Letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill (Mary Soames, Editor), Martin Gilbert’s Churchill: A Life, Richard Hough’s Winston and Clementine: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Churchills,and John Keegan’s Winston Churchill.

Responding to Commenters - 4/3/08

Folks, I’ve been traveling, but using “comment enabled” I’ve read all of the comments on the threads, and at least a part of the comments I’ve deleted.

I’ve also reread all the thread comments.

The rereading helped me see I should have deleted in the interest of reasonable, fact-based discussion free of needless name-calling a few comments I let on the threads.

I'm sorry for that.

I’ll work to do better.

Commenters have asked about N&O circulation numbers. I’m working on a “first post” concerning them.

It won’t offer “hard numbers” because I can’t find any right now.

But it will provide a good deal of information about the N&O’s declining circulation the past five years relative to the high population growth in its circulation area.

The post will also provide information about factors besides the area’s population growth which should have boosted N&O print circulation.

I appreciate all the “heads ups” I’m getting re: Sen. Obama, his voting record, and his many “friends and associates.”

Look for more about that.

I need to end this now.

I’ll be back tomorrow before noon Eastern with more.


Duke AD Alleva – LSU Update

At 2 pm Central on Apr. 3 the New Orleans Times Picayune reports:

LSU interim Chancellor William Jenkins and President John Lombardi likely will not choose a new athletic director before tomorrow.

"Dr. Lombardi has been calling around the country talking to different people about the candidates so it's unlikely anything will be done today," said Charles Zewe, LSU system vice president for communications. "More than likely there will be an announcement tomorrow."

LSU is choosing from a pool of four candidates recommended by the athletic director search committee. The candidates are LSU associate ADs Verge Ausberry and Herb Vincent; Duke AD Joe Alleva; and Kentucky deputy AD Rob Mullens.

Lombardi has said, however, he would not rule out selecting someone else or reopening the search.
Selecting someone else is just what Glenn Guilbeau at Lafayette’s Daily Advertiser wants to happen:
It is unlikely, but LSU president John Lombardi and/or interim chancellor William Jenkins could reject some or all of the four finalists given to them Wednesday by the Parker "search" firm and LSU search committee.

For the good of LSU, those recommendations should be rejected, and this search needs a timeout.

One would think that a school like LSU, which has had an elite, monster, money-printing football program for most of this decade and has made major strides in other more important areas, could hire a sitting athletic director from a reputable school.

Instead, of the final four finalists for the job, only one is a sitting athletic director, and he has a checkered past. Plus he is at a place where football is merely a distraction before basketball season.
The fact that Duke athletic director Joe Alleva is the only sitting athletic director on LSU's final four is a complete embarrassment to LSU, its administration, its fans, its alumni and the Southeastern Conference. …
Guilbeau has much more to say. His post is followed by citizen journalist Walter Abbott’s assessment of AD Alleva.

Guilbeau and Abbott are both worth reading here.

Krauthammer: Obama’s “100 Year Lie”

Many of you may already have read Charles Krauthammer’s column on Sen. Barack Obama’s misrepresentation of what Sen. John McCain said about Iraq and “Make it a hundred.” I didn’t see the column until today.

I just want to post some extracts from Krauthammer’s column and then make a few comments below the star line.

Krauthammer begins:

Asked at a New Hampshire campaign stop about possibly staying in Iraq 50 years, John McCain interrupted -- "Make it a hundred" -- then offered a precise analogy to what he envisioned: "We've been in Japan for 60 years. We've been in South Korea for 50 years or so."

Lest anyone think he was talking about prolonged war-fighting rather than maintaining a presence in postwar Iraq, he explained: "That would be fine with me, as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed."

And lest anyone persist in thinking he was talking about war-fighting, he told his questioner: "It's fine with me and I hope it would be fine with you if we maintained a presence in a very volatile part of the world."

There is another analogy to the kind of benign and strategically advantageous "presence" McCain was suggesting for postwar Iraq: Kuwait. The U.S. (with allies) occupied Kuwait in 1991 and has remained there with a major military presence for 17 years. We debate dozens of foreign policy issues in this country.

I've yet to hear any serious person of either party call for a pullout from Kuwait.
Why? Because our presence projects power and provides stability for the entire Gulf and for vulnerable U.S. allies that line its shores.

The desirability of a similar presence in Iraq was obvious as long as five years ago to retired Gen. Merrill McPeak, one of Barack Obama's leading military advisers and his campaign co-chairman. During the first week of the Iraq War, McPeak (a war critic) suggested in an interview that "we'll be there a century, hopefully. If it works right." (Meaning, if we win.)

Why is that a hopeful outcome? Because maintaining a U.S. military presence in Iraq would provide regional stability, as well as cement a long-term allied relationship with the most important Arab country in the region. …

But a serious argument [about that and related matters] is not what Democrats are seeking. They want the killer sound bite, the silver bullet to take down McCain.

According to Politico, they have found it: "Dems to hammer McCain for '100 years.'"

The device? Charge that McCain is calling for a hundred years of war. Hence:

-- "He (McCain) says that he is willing to send our troops into another 100 years of war in Iraq" (Barack Obama, Feb. 19).

-- "We are bogged down in a war that John McCain now suggests might go on for another 100 years" (Obama, Feb. 26).

-- "He's (McCain) willing to keep this war going for 100 years" (Hillary Clinton, March 17).

-- "What date between now and the election in November will he (McCain) drop this promise of a 100-year war in Iraq?" (Chris Matthews, March 4).

Why, even a CNN anchor (Rick Sanchez) buys it: "John McCain is telling us ... that we need to win even if it takes 100 years" (March 16).

As Lenin is said to have said: "A lie told often enough becomes truth." And as this lie passes into truth, the Democrats are ready to deploy it "as the linchpin of an effort to turn McCain's national security credentials against him," reports David Paul Kuhn of Politico. …

The Annenberg Political Fact Check, a nonprofit and nonpartisan project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, says: "It's a rank falsehood for the DNC to accuse McCain of wanting to wage 'endless war' based on his support for a presence in Iraq something like the U.S. role in South Korea."

The Democrats are undeterred. "It's seldom you get such a clean shot," a senior Obama adviser told Politico.

It's seldom that you see such a dirty lie.

Krauthammer’s entire column is here.


Horray for Charles Krauthammer!

Message to Obama: There’s at least one MSM pundit who’s willing to call you a liar when you lie. If you don't stop, more will follow.

Folks, “lie” is a charge thrown around often in politics when it really doesn’t fit.

But in this case I can’t think of a better word for what Obama’s been doing.

His “100 year” lie is not simply a falsehood; it’s a lie because it’s a deliberate falsehood.

We often hear the kind of bald-face lying Obama’s engaging in during the closing days of a campaign. But the presidential election is still seven months away.

So why’s Obama resorting to the “100 year” lie now?

All I can think of is either he’s got a Pinocchio problem or his internal polling is telling him he’s fading relative to McCain.

What do you think?

I’ll say more about all this soon.

Campus “activism” redefined

Michael Graham in the Boston Herald. I comment below the star line.

Graham begins - - -

Oh, to be a campus activist now that spring is here.

“Campus activist” is what the Boston Globe-Democrat calls the students pushing for coed dorm rooms at colleges across the country.

Not just coed dorms, floors or even suites. One room, two beds, a boy and a girl.

As Dr. Frankenstein said just before he threw the switch, “What could possibly go wrong?”

More than 30 colleges and universities, including Dartmouth, Clark, Brown, and Brandeis have coed dorm room policies.

This is part of the academic Left’s commitment to social justice, the battle against heteronormative bias, and a way for guys who look like Michael Moore to get a smokin’ hot roommate.

Not surprisingly, enlightened, socially progressive college males are giving this policy a resounding “Yeah, baby!”

This movement is led by the National Student Genderblind Campaign, which insists that colleges without gender-neutral housing are “heterosexist, oppressive, and anti-affirmative.”

“Heterosexist” means you think men and women are different. “Oppressive” means you won’t leave them alone in a dorm room long enough to prove you right.

“Anti-affirmative?” I think that means you’re not voting for Hillary. Or maybe Barack.

Note that all these schools already have coed dorms. They place very few restrictions on male and female mingling on campus.

But liberal academics aren’t content with coupling. They’re demanding cohabitation to make their point that acknowledging gender differences is, in and of itself, a form of oppression. …

The rest of Graham’s column is here.

If I had posted Graham’s column yesterday, you might have thought I was pulling an April Fools prank.

But sad to say what Graham’s talking about is no joke.

And it's getting lots of push from the Academic Left, which is teaching college students to consider "hetero-nomative" a putdown

If you haven’t done so already, I urge you to read Graham’s entire column.

Obama’s Cook County Vote

Tom Elia at The New Editor - - -

In the race for the most popular votes in the Democratic Party's presidential primary contests, Sen. Barack Obama's lead over Sen. Hillary Clinton is about 711,000 votes -- not including Florida or Michigan -- according to Real Clear Politics.

Of Sen. Obama's 711,000 popular-vote lead, 650,000 -- or more than 90% of the total margin -- comes from Sen. Obama's home state of Illinois, with 429,000 of that lead coming from his home base of Cook County.

That margin in Cook County represents almost 60% of Obama's total lead nationwide.

Interestingly, Sen. Obama's 429,000-vote margin in Cook County alone is larger than the winning margin of either candidate in any state. …

Folks, the rest of Tom’s post is here.

Hat tip: Instapundit

McClatchy credit rating falls but CEO does nicely

From (a McClatchy owned site) comes news I’ll post in italics, with my interlinear comments in plain.

McClatchy is the parent company of the liberal/leftist Raleigh News & Observer. begins - - -

The McClatchy Co.'s credit rating was lowered again Tuesday, but the downgrade won't cost the Sacramento-based newspaper chain any money.

Meanwhile, McClatchy has disclosed in its proxy statement that Chairman and Chief Executive Gary Pruitt made $4.6 million in total compensation last year, down from $5.6 million in 2006. McClatchy officials said Pruitt's compensation actually dropped further than that, based on an alternative calculation method.

I don’t know much about the “alternative calculation method,” but according to AOL m&f McClatchy (MNI) is trading right now at $11.04, down from its 52-week high of $34.32.

Moody's Investors Service dropped McClatchy's rating one notch, to Ba3 from Ba2, saying it believes The Bee's owner's revenue decline is worsening. Moody's already downgraded McClatchy in January.

The downgrade by Moody's takes McClatchy deeper into non-investment grade, or junk bond, status. Junk bond companies are considered riskier than investment grade companies.

That not good, but here comes the positive spin from McClatchy & Sacbee.

[ Ken in Dallas commented: The McClatchy spokesperson was correct. There is no immediate impact on interest payments. There are, of course, other significant consequences.

1. Any additional bonds or bank loans will carry a higher interest rate as well as more stingent loan covenants.

2. The holders of the current bonds experienced a reduction in their discounted value.

3. The stock price will be impacted in a negative way over time.

If the company doesn't understand the impact of a bond downgrade to junk bond status, they are living in La-La land. ]

But while downgrades usually mean higher interest expenses, this one won't, said McClatchy Treasurer Elaine Lintecum. The company's bonds carry a fixed rate, while its bank loans were just rewritten so the interest rate is based on debt ratios, she said.

"The practical effect (of the downgrade) is none," she said. "No additional interest costs as a result of the downgrade.

Lintecum is wrong to say there is no “practical effect.” There may not be an immediate financial cost, but when Moody downgrades you, especially when you’re already in “the junk house,” it has "a practical effect."

Like other publishers, McClatchy's revenue and profits have fallen because of competition from the Internet and a weakening economy. McClatchy is especially hard hit because one-third of its business comes from California and Florida, two states suffering some of the worst of the real estate downturn.

In truth, McClatchy has been in a long-term slide. Five years ago its stock traded near $60.

McClatchy's revenue dropped 7.9 percent last year and is off 13.2 percent so far this year, and the company's stock price has lost about two-thirds of its value in the past year.

The stock closed Tuesday at $11.10, up 40 cents, on the New York Stock Exchange. Moody's made its announcement after the market closed.

McClatchy said in its annual proxy statement to the Securities and Exchange Commission that Pruitt's $4.6 million in compensation included $1.1 million in base pay, an $800,000 performance bonus, as well as about $2 million in stock and option grants and other forms of compensation.

Gee, only an $800,000 performance bonus. He's got the stock over $10., right?

The rest of the story is interesting reading for the spinning McClatchy does concerning Pruitt’s compensation package.

You can read it all here.

Hat tip: journalist friends who sent the link.

Raleigh N&O Arrogance (Post 3)

Readers Note: This is the third of a five-post series providing examples of the Raleigh News & Observer’s arrogance during its Duke lacrosse coverage. The examples also reveal some of the disingenuousness that was an essential and pervasive part of the N&O’s grossly biased, racially inflammatory and often false Duke Hoax reporting during Spring 2006 and thereafter.


On Mar. 24, 2006 the Raleigh News & Observer began publishing grossly biased, racially inflammatory and often false stories, columns and editorials which made the phrase “Duke lacrosse rape scandal” known nationally and internationally.

By Mar. 27 when the Durham DA Mike Nifong first spoke publicly about the case, satellite TV trucks were already parked at Duke. Countless millions already believed the N&O's fraudulent story reported on March 25 about a young black mother’s “ordeal” which ended in “sexual violence” committed by three whites on the Duke lacrosse team whose teammates were “stonewalling” police.

On Mar. 28 the N&O published on its front-page the “criminal records” of all lacrosse team members (all charges involved misdemeanors such as underage drinking, public urination; some had been dropped in exchange for community service; and one had been dismissed. The N&O published them all)

By March 31 the N&O had reported on rallies and vigils in support of “the victim.” These events, which some Duke faculty members helped organize, encouraged students to attend and attended themselves, were marked by prejudgment of the players' guilt, shouted threats, the waving of large CASTRATE and GIVE THEM EQUAL MEASURE banners, and the circulation of Vigilante posters.

N&O reporter Jane Stancill had an important role in helping enable what, by the end of March, was a vicious witch hunt, an elaborate frame-up attempt and something the N&O led most of media to treat as a story of race, class and gender.

Between March 28 and 31 Stancill was bylined each day on a Duke lacrosse story,two of which were front-pagers. On all four stories Stancill shared the byline Anne Blythe, who’d been bylined on the Mar. 24 story which “broke” the case and the Mar. 25 victim’s “ordeal” story the N&O said was about a night which ended in “sexual violence.” You can read the four stories here, here, here and here.

Months later Stancill and the N&O began a July 16, 2006 story, “Lacrosse defense sways media,” by telling readers:

Journalists rushed to Durham in April to tell the world about a sordid evening at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., where a black exotic dancer reported that she was raped by white lacrosse players from Duke.

An avalanche of media coverage followed, as the confident prosecutor gave dozens of interviews and reporters ferreted out a pattern of drunken misbehavior by jocks at an elite university. ….
What happened to March, you ask?

Why no reminder the N&O broke the story? There’s no mention in Stancill’s July 16 article of even one of the more than a dozen prosecutorial/prosecutorial news stories, columns and editorials the N&O published in March.

Reading further in Stancill’s story we learn why the N&O airbrushed March and gave the Hoax a “revised” April “start date”:
But the story changed, and now the pundits ask: Are the three Duke lacrosse players innocent boys falsely accused?

The opinions still fly on cable TV and popular blogs. Major stories have appeared in Newsweek, Sports Illustrated and Vanity Fair. The nation's opinion leaders at influential newspapers took a break from Iraq and Darfur to come to the defense of the three accused players.

At The New York Times, two columnists have written about the case, including David Brooks, who penned two columns that track the shift in perception. The first posed a question about how young men slip into depravity. The second talked about the stages of witch hunts.

"First frenzy, when everybody damns the souls of people they don't know," wrote Brooks, who will teach at Duke this fall. "Then confusion, as the first wave of contradictory facts comes in. Then deafening silence, as everybody studiously ignores the vicious slanders they uttered during the moment of maximum hysteria."

On Monday, the legal maneuvers will continue in the Durham County courthouse. But in the court of public opinion, the defense has gained the upper hand. …
Stancill’s entire July 16 story is here.

By July 16, 2006 the N&O didn’t want people looking at it March coverage. Then as now, when almost all people at the N&O have to mention March 2006, they usually say things about “the players and their parents weren’t helping us” and “deadlines.” They then spin the “our coverage was great after those first few days” myth.

You know the players, their parents and deadlines are no more responsible for the N&O’s March coverage than they are for its Apr. 2006 coverage which included the publication of the Vigilante poster photo, the “swagger” story, the “mother, dancer, accuser” story, and the withholding of news it had of Crystal Mangum’s criminal background and activities on Mar. 13/14 which directly contradicted things the N&O had reported on Mar. 25.

And so do Stancill and the N&O.

For Stancill and the N&O to tell readers, “[j]ournalists rushed to Durham in April to tell the world about a sordid evening,” is arrogant and disingenuous.

Previous series posts:

Raleigh N&O Arrogance (Post 1)

Raleigh N&O Arrogance (Post 2)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Churchill Series - Apr. 2, 2006

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

Reader’s Note: Previous posts dealing with John Strange Spencer Churchill (1880-1947) and his relationship with his only brother and sibling, Winston S. Churchill (1874-1965), are here and here.


Neglected by their parents, Winston and Jack received the care and love their parents owed them from their nanny, Mrs. Ann Everest, whom the Churchills first employed when Winston was born. The boys reciprocated Everest’s love.

That they would each love Everest is understandable. What’s extraordinary is that they developed in childhood feelings for each other of deep affection, admiration, concern, and devotion that would last their lifetimes.

There were so many factors that could have helped lead the brothers to an envious rivalry. Jack displaced Winston as the only object of Everest’s love and attention. Family and friends often let the boys know Jack was “good,” “really a dear,” while Winnie was “troublesome” and “a worry.” When Churchill’s father, Lord Randolph, spoke or wrote to Winston, he often held Jack up as an example of what Winston should be, usually using harsh, even brutal, language.

An act of Winston’s at the time of Mrs. Everest death on July 3, 1893 reveals his concern for Jack, then a thirteen year old school boy at Harrow.

When Churchill heard Everest was ill, he rushed to her bedside in London. Realizing her condition was serious, he arranged at his expense for a noted physician to attend her and engaged a nurse. But Everest died within a day of his arrival.

Common practice at the time called for Churchill to send Jack news of Everest’s death via telegram. There was also the matter of Churchill having interrupted his military training to go to Everest. He was falling behind each day he was away. He needed to return to his post.

Nevertheless, at a time of great personal sorrow, Churchill was mindful of Jack’s feelings. So he took the train to Harrow and spared Jack the shock of learning the news from a telegram. In doing so, Churchill was also making sure there would be someone at Harrow who understood and shared Jack’s grief.

At the time of Everest’s death, Churchill was 18.

In tomorrow’s post, Churchill leaves for South Africa to report and fight in the Boer War. Jack joins him there. The brothers literally fight side by side and narrowly escape death, although Jack is wounded.
For this post I’ve drawn from Speaking for Themselves: The personal Letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill (Mary Soames, Editor), Martin Gilbert’s Churchill: A Life, Richard Hough’s Winston and Clementine: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Churchills, and John Keegan’s Winston Churchill.

Rezko Watch has "everything"

An Anon commenter put me on to Rezko Watch, a blog which promises it "will follow the adventures -- and misadventures -- of indicted Chicago political friendster-fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko and his relationship with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)."

I took a look around Rezko Watch.

Here's just a little of what I just saw at 7 pm Eastern on Apr. 2 - -

Courtroom Reports

• Complete Rezko Index, Chicago Tribune; "Gavel-to-Gavel Trial Coverage: Week 2 and Week 1.

• Complete Rezko Index, Chicago Sun-Times and Natasha Korecki's Eye on Rezko Blog.


• Rob Olmstead, Rezko trial witness tells of pressure for $750,000 payoff, Daily Herald, April 1, 2008.

• Bob Secter and Jeff Coen, Levine details attempts to get kickbacks. Witness says he tried, failed to get kickback, Chicago Tribune, April 1, 2008.

• Gavel-to-Gavel: Schemer feared getting caught, witness says, Chicago Tribune, April 2, 2008.

• Natasha Korecki, On tape: No way around clout. Levine says he met to divvy spoils, Chicago Sun-Times, April 2, 2008.

• Natasha Korecki, Secret tape reveals extortion attempt on 'Million Dollar Baby' producer, Chicago Sun-Times, April 2, 2008.

• Real estate fund owner quoted as suspecting Rezko, April 2, 2008.

Folks, there’s so much at Rezko Watch - and it all seems to be well organized and linked - that I thought of a six year old boy’s reaction a few years back when I asked him at Christmas dinner what Santa had brought him that morning.

He threw his arms out and said: “Everything!”

Rezko Watch looks like it has “everything” for all of us who want to know more about Sen. Obama’s close friend Tony Rezko and the political organization and culture that’s nurtured the CHANGE candidate.

Thank you, Anon Commenter.

I hope those of you who go to Rezko Watch will let me know what you think.

Understanding the N&O's Vigilante poster photo

Readers Note: N&O Senior Editor Linda Williams was lead editor of the deliberately fraudulent March 25, 2006 “anonymous interview” story the N&O told readers was about a night that ended in "sexual violence.”

At the Editors' Blog Williams recently told readers who'd complained about the N&O's Duke lacrosse hoax coverage:

… Many people commenting here seem to be merely taking an opportunity to express their own considerable racial anxieties. It's obvious that some find the color of my skin disturbing and have concluded that my color is all the information they need to determine what I think and my motivations. It seems more important to them to address my color than my words. … (see EB thread here and a JinC post here)
Today is the second anniversary of the N&O' publication of a photo of the infamous Vigilante poster, something no other NC daily did following expressions of concern by the players’ families and Duke that publishing such a photo would add to the danger the players were already facing. You can view the poster here at Liestoppers.

I’ve just sent Williams the following email. I'll let you know if she responds but she rarely does.


Dear Editor Williams:

Just three years ago, in response to the Wilmington Race Riots Commission report, the N&O made what it said was a sincere apology for its long history of race-baiting.

But soon thereafter, the N&O launched its often false and racially-inflammatory Duke lacrosse coverage.

By withholding relevant news and promoting the lie that white lacrosse players had not cooperated with police, the N&O helped inflame community sentiment and bring about the indictments of three innocent white men.

But you knew the white men had cooperated with police.

The N&O wouldn’t have promoted a falsehood about the players not cooperating with police if they’d been black men.

We both know that.

The N&O withheld for over a year the exculpatory news that Mangum told you on March 24, 2006 that Kim Roberts had also been raped at the party, but didn’t report it for fear of losing her job.

The N&O also withheld the news that Mangum said Roberts would do anything for money.

The N&O wouldn’t have withheld such critically important news if Mangum had been a white woman and David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann had been black men indicted by a white DA like Mike Nifong using grand jury testimony by two white cops, would it?

After their parents and Duke expressed concerns that publishing the “Vigilante” poster with face photos of 43 white Duke students on it would add to the danger the students were already facing, the N&O published the poster anyway. The N&O didn’t even tell its readers those concerns had been expressed.

Two years ago today the N&O published a two-column wide, seven-plus inches long photo of the Vigilante poster. Your photo was large enough so that it could be enlarged and thereby provide a good face recognition source for hate-filled and unstable people seeking to target the players.

If NC Central University and the parents of 43 of its students had expressed concerns that publishing an anonymous “Vigilante” poster with face photos of 43 of black students the DA and cops were saying were involved in the brutal beating and gang rape of a young white mother would endanger the students, would you have gone ahead and published the poster photo anyway?

Of course not.

The N&O would never do something like that to a group of black males.

But lets just suppose you had.

And suppose people like Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, Community Activist Victoria Peterson, Professors Houston Baker, William Chafe, Karla Holloway, Irving Joyner and Tim Tyson, Mayor Bill Bell, Journalist Cash Michaels and NC NAACP President Rev. William Barber reacted to what you did.

Imagine they issued a statement denouncing the N&O for doing something which “reeked of racism every bit as ugly and dangerous as the racism often found in Southern newspapers in the last century.”

What would you have said in response?

What if those people – all of whom often proclaim their commitment to civil rights – demanded the N&O apologize to the players, their families and the community and fire the people responsible for publishing the “Vigilante” photo?

Would the N&O have ignored them as it’s ignored the people who’ve asked for an apology to the students, their families and the community for the publication of the Vigilante poster photo?

Editor Williams, I and most N&O readers don’t care about the color of your skin or that of anyone else who works at the N&O.

We simply want the N&O to stop engaging in racially inflammatory and race-based double standard coverage as we've seen so often during your Duke Hoax coverage.

Thank you for your attention to my comment. I look forward to your response which I'll publish in full at my blog.


John in Carolina

Rezko Trial Update

Last evening @ NRO Corner Stephen Spruiell provided a Rezko trial update which began:

Today was another bad day for Tony Rezko and Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Star witness for the prosecution Stuart Levine described a meeting he had with two of Blagojevich's top fundraisers and advisers — Rezko and a roofing contractor named Chris Kelly — at which they asked him to arrange for an investor with business before Levine's board either to pay a $2 million bribe or raise $1.5 million for Blagojevich's campaign.

Levine's a less-than-credible witness, so to bolster the believability of his account, prosecutors played a phone conversation between Levine and another alleged schemer named Bill Cellini Robert Weinstein that occurred shortly after Levine's meeting with Rezko and Kelly.

During the conversation, which the feds recorded without Levine or Cellini's Weinstein's knowledge, the two of them discussed Rezko, Kelly and the scheme to extort the investor, a Hollywood producer and financier named Thomas Rosenberg. …
The rest of Spruiell’s update is here.

While attention has been turned to Sen. Obama’s close friend and pastor of 20 some years Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the American public is not noticing the trial’s shocking revelations.

Someone asked me last night when was the last time a Nothern liberal was elected president?

I don’t know.

FDR turned out to be a liberal but he ran the first time in ’32 as a conservative Dem, even promising to balance the budget.

JFK ran as a centrist on domestic issues and pretty much to the right of Nixon on foreign policy and defense, which he promised to strengthen. Liberals had a lot of trouble getting behind Kennedy.

Anyway, my comeback question for my friend was – you guessed it – “when was the last time a Northern liberal with a pastor like Wright, 20 years of membership in his church and a very close friend like Tony Rezko was elected?

Your turn.

Raleigh N&O Arrogance (Post 2)

Readers Note: This is the second of a five-post series providing examples of the Raleigh News & Observer’s arrogance during its Duke lacrosse coverage. The examples also reveal some of the disingenuousness that was an essential and pervasive part of the N&O’s grossly biased, racially inflammatory and often false Duke Hoax reporting during Spring 2006 and thereafter.


Immediately following the Mar. 24, 2006 publication of the Raleigh News & Observer’s front-page story reporting all 46 white members of the Duke Men’s lacrosse team had been ordered to submit to police DNA testing in connection with a gang rape charge, readers began questioning the N&O.

Why had the paper seven times referred to the anonymous accuser as “the victim” or with the possessive “victim’s,” never once using a qualifier such as “alleged?”

By doing that, wasn’t the N&O framing the lacrosse players in the public’s mind as the rapist victimizers of the “the victim?”

And didn’t the N&O regularly use a qualifier such as “alleged” in cases involving adults where there was a charge of rape but it was denied and there’d been no conviction?

The N&O said it didn’t regularly use qualifiers in such cases; what it did on March 24 and for days thereafter was “common practice.”

Here, on July 24, 2006 at the Editors’ Blog, is then N&O executive editor for news Melanie Sill (the McClatchy News Co. which owns the N&O subsequently promoted Sill to the executive editorship at its flagship Sacramento Bee) telling readers that:

Using the word "victim": Readers of The N&O and most print publications, and online for that matter, know that it's common practice to describe people listed as victims in criminal reports as victims. What is unusual in this case isn't that we used that term, but that we and most other media have stopped using it. (emphasis added)
I responded to Sill on the comment thread noting that her statement was false.

Here’s part of my comment which you’ll find as 7/26@10:11:
[You’re] misleading readers.

Yes, Melanie, people shot or robbed are listed as victims because they indisputably are.

But as you know, in the case of rape, where the charge and/or actions related to it are denied, ethical news organizations seek to avoid calling the accuser a victim.

That’s because they know that doing so is unfair to the accused who, after all, is presumed innocent, or is at least so presumed by people who respect the Constitution.

What’s more, Melanie, ethical journalists know about the time when newspapers, especially in the South, would cast rape accusers as victims and the accused as their victimizers to “stir the mob” and maybe circulation, too.

Often horrific injustices were the result.

That’s why the NY Times, for example, no model of what a newspaper should be, but at least in the case of the Duke lacrosse hoax nothing like the N&O, in every one of its Duke lacrosse stories I’ve read never refers to the accuser as victim, with or without a qualifier such as “reported” or “alleged.”

But you tell trustful N&O readers: “common practice.”

Melanie, I just did a customized search of the N&O’s archives for the period Jan. 1, 2006 to Jan. 31, 2006 using only the input word “rape.”

It yielded many hits. I searched through every one of them to identify those stories that dealt with a rape accusation either in a criminal investigative phase or a judicial pre-adjudication phase.

You know what I found, don’t you, Melanie?

Not one instance in which the N&O called the accuser victim, with or without a conditional qualifier.

In your Mar. 24 story, the one in which you say the N&O “broke” the Duke lacrosse story, the N&O seven times told readers the accuser was the victim or used the possessive “victim’s” when referring to her.

Tell readers the last time the N&O did that in a case involving a rape accusation?

“Common practice?” That’s just false, Melanie.

On Mar. 25 you ran the following headlines on page one, across five columns:
Dancer gives details of ordeal

A woman hired to dance for the Duke lacrosse team describes a night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violence
The N&O frequently uses quote marks around part or all of a headline to denote it’s an opinion statement, or simply that the N&O has some skepticism about what’s being said. But there are no qualifying quote marks around any of the Mar. 25 headlines.

The headlines are definitive. They read as facts.

The N&O’s headlines contain no indication of what you knew at the time: That all the players denied the “soft spoken” young mother of two children’s accusations of gang-rape, beating and strangulation.

The N&O explained it granted the accuser anonymity. You said:
It is The News & Observer's policy not to identify the victims of sex crimes.
That’s clear, Melanie. No alleged.

She’s a victim of “sex crimes.” …
Sill ignored my comment. She continued to tell readers the “common practice” falsehood.

Beginning on Monday, March 26, 2006 I began calling and emailing the N&O’s public editor Ted Vaden about the N&O’s “victim” usage. He kept referring me back to Sill because he said it was a “news matter” and news was “her area.”

The first on the record admission I know of by anyone at the N&O that its failure to use a qualifier with “victim” was in any way wrong occurred on Oct. 20, 2006 and was reported the following day in an N&O story:
… Still, some journalists featured at a Duke Law School panel discussion acknowledged times when their publications could have done better covering the ongoing case involving an exotic dancer's allegation that three Duke lacrosse players raped her.

Drescher said The News & Observer went back and forth between the terms "victim" and "accuser." The alleged rape has not been proven, and thus it isn't clear whether there is a victim.

"I don't think we were careful enough with that word," Drescher said. …
In the first story the public would ever read about the Duke lacrosse case, the N&O deliberately framed the Duke students as Crystal Mangum’s victimizers.

In the face of what it knew was its own policy and standard practice at decent newspapers, the N&O continued for seven months telling readers what it did was “common practice.”

That’s arrogant; disingenuous, too.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Churchill Series - Apr. 1, 2008

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

John Strange Spencer Churchill, Winston’s only brother and sibling, was born Feb. 4, 1880, in Dublin, Ireland, where the boys’ father, Lord Randolph, was serving as Vice-Regent.

Young Winston had turned fivc just a few months before on Nov. 30, 1874. Sixty-five years later, Churchil recalled the day: “I remember my father coming into my bedroom at Vice-Regal Lodge in Dublin and telling me,‘You have a little brother.’”

Shortly thereafter, the family returned to England.

The brothers’ parents were indifferent to their emotional needs and often away, even at Christmas. When they were at home, the parents often arranged for the boys to stay elsewhere, lest they distract the Churchills from political and social pursuits.

But Winston and Jack were not totally denied the care and attention parents owe their children. They received them from their nanny, Ann Elizabeth Everest, whom Winston called "my nurse."

“My nurse was my confidante, Churchill later wrote. “Mrs. Everest it was who looked after me and tended all my wants. It was to her I poured out my many troubles.”

Everest had been employed when Winston was a baby. As a toddler he began calling her “Woom,” and would continue doing so throughout his life.

With Jack’s birth Woom was no longer just “Winnie’s nanny;” she became “the boys’ nanny.”

Mrs. Everest gave Jack the same deep affection and care she gave Winston.

Jack’s birth and Woom’s care, really love, for Jack young Winston with the first great crisis of his life.

A five year old can be very angry and resentful when a sib arrives. Often, those emotions are directed savagely at parents, cherished caregivers and/or the sib. The hostile feelings can last a lifetime.

But a five year old can also take on a “big brother, big sister” role, “helping” parents or caregivers nurture the new sib.

We know how Winston resolved his crisis. Whatever anger or resentment he may have felt toward his parents, “Woom” and Jack, must have been slight or well-repressed.

Historians and documents I’ve read note no change in Winston’s feelings or behavior toward “Woom” following Jack’s birth. What we know of the brothers’ relationship in their early years suggests it was then as it was during their adult years: warm, affectionate and caring; in a word: loving.

A five year old who resolves a great crisis in the way Churchill did has taken a long stride toward confident, caring adulthood. He’s beginning to learn that what he holds most dear may be threatened but that he has within himself the resources to master such threats and preserve what’s most dear.

The old expression comes to mind: “The child is father to the man.”
Churchill's recollection of his father telling him of Jack's birth is found in Martin Gilbert's Churchill: A Life (p. 2). This post draws on that work, John Keegan's Winston Churchill, and Speaking for Themselves: The Personal Letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill (Mary Soames, Editor) for background.

The discussion regarding Jack’s birth as a crisis and Winston's resolution of it is my responsibility.

"Disagreeing" with Butler; "defending" humanities profs

Folks, most of you will quickly see some of what I say here is parody.


In her Chronicle column today chiding Duke for many things, Kristin Butler questions the teaching load “common throughout the humanities”:

…And what about those elite professors we all came to study under?

Well, they have a pretty cushy deal too. With a five-hour-per-week teaching load common throughout the humanities, today's Duke professors spend much less time in the classroom than their predecessors.

In fact, teaching loads at Duke used to be as heavy as 15 hours per week until the 1960s, including mandatory Saturday classes.

Seeing as undergrads pay an average of $4,291.88 per course (that's $17,167.50 in semesterly tuition divided by a standard load of four courses), it appears we're not getting our money's worth.

And although there's a very good chance that I'll be run out of the English department on a rail for saying this, there is no good reason why humanities-based professors can't teach more than five hours per week-or at least as much as their colleagues in the sciences.
Butler’s entire column is here.

Well now, I respect Kristin Butler. She’s one of the best collegiate columnists I’ve ever encountered (she’s also more informed and reasons better than a great many MSM columnists).

However, I must disagree with Butler’s assertion “there is no good reason why humanities-based professors can't teach more than five hours per week-or at least as much as their colleagues in the sciences.”

Duke humanities professors, with some exceptions, believe they bear a very important and often time-consuming responsibility to provide their “scholarly insights and leadership” to the entire Duke community and, indeed, the wide, wide world.

Mind you, I’m not saying faculty members in the sciences don’t also care about the Duke community and the world. It’s just that, on the whole, humanities professors seem so much more willing, even eager, to provide their “insights and leadership.”

It wasn't merely coincidental that the first faculty member to circulate an open letter in March 2006 calling for the immediate expulsion of all the white members of the Men’s lacrosse team was not a physician or a chemist, but a humanities professor, Houston Baker.

And with the University at a dangerous crisis, who took the lead and spoke out to thank those who’d rallied under the CASTRATE banner, threatened students on the lacrosse team, and circulated Vigilante posters?

If science professors would do more of that sort of thing, they wouldn’t have so much time for classroom/lab teaching.

I wonder if Butler and the rest of you appreciate how much time many humanities professors actually spend each day talking to and e-mailing like-minded colleagues?

Those activities are an essential part of their staying current with the latest and most nuanced thinking and findings in the all-important areas of race, class, gender, and faculty benefits.

But what thanks do humaities professors typically get when they offer "their insights and leadership" to the community and world?

Consider what little appreciation Cathy N. Davidson, John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and Ruth F. Devarney Professor of English, received when she published an op-ed in the Jan. 5, 2007 Raleigh News & Observer.

The following is from a post by KC Johnson reporting on letters to the editor in response to Davidson's op-ed. I add a few comments below the star line.

KC begins - - -

It appears as if few of the N&O’s readership were persuaded by Cathy Davidson’s recent apologia for the Group of 88’s rush to judgment. Today’s Sunday forum published six responses to the Davidson op-ed; five letter-writers were critical.

Chapel Hill’s John Chambers notes that the reasoning behind her op-ed, not the words of Davidson’s critics, “shows the hypocrisy and tunnel vision which many would say 'make(s) academics and liberals look ridiculous.' In fact, it is exactly the mirror equal of Rush Limbaugh at his one-sided worst.”

Chyambers detects a “social disaster” from this event—the fact that a false allegation of rape will make it harder for true victims to be taken seriously. “Will the 88 distinguished and anguished professors of the Duke Chronicle ad,” he wonders, “now provide a second one, denouncing the real disaster for all women? Any bets?”

Raleigh’s Mark Esposito notes that while “it’s comforting to know the faculty at Duke are concerned enough with the side effects of the controversy to write about it some 10 months later . . . one can’t help wonder why there was no such concern for the accused three players.”

Chapel Hill’s Diane Goldstein Block takes apart Davidson’s absurd claim that in the early days of the affair, Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and Dave Evans “were being elevated to the status of martyrs.” Instead, Block correctly observes, “It is these young men who have had their names and faces splashed across the media, had their lives put on hold, lost careers that they had earned, not to mention the emotional and financial strain they and their families have been put through.”

For Block, “the social disaster is that Davidson and other faculty members who signed that ad still do not understand the harm they have done to the university itself and to society at large.”

Raleigh’s David Kelsey brings his own personal experience to bear: “Having once served as jury foreman in a volatile federal District Court case on sexual harassment, I witnessed first-hand what happens when people deliberately ignore facts—especially unpleasant ones—and stick to their personal agendas.” Group of 88 members, he notes, obviously are entitled to free speech, but he questions “their timing and their means of disseminating these views. An educator’s job is to help students learn how to think critically,” not engage in “sacrificing individuals”—in this case three of their own students—”for the sake of a debatable social good.”

Finally, a superb letter from Michael Gustafson, which I quote in full.
One problem with Duke professor Cathy N. Davidson’s Jan. 5 Point of View article was her statement that “I am positive I am not the only professor who was and continues to be adamant about the necessity for fair and impartial legal proceedings for David, Collin and Reade while also being dismayed by the glaring social disparities implicit in what we know happened on March 13.”

Such adamance would require some form of public expression. To my knowledge, none has taken place.

When Durham police entered a dorm to “interview” lacrosse players without their legal representation present? Silence.

When our students were threatened with taunts of “You’ll get yours, rapist” and “Dead man walking!” Silence.

When the committee tasked to examine the lacrosse team’s behavior concluded that “The committee has not heard evidence that the cohesiveness of this group is either racist or sexist” and “The current as well as former African American members of the team have been extremely positive about the support the team provided them”? Silence.

When Professor James Coleman stated “the line-up ordered by the D.A. for the Duke lacrosse case violated local, state and federal guidelines”? Silence.

When Moezeldin Elmostafa was arrested in connection with a crime he helped police to solve, shortly after coming forward with evidence of innocence for one of the students? Silence.

When Mike Nifong refused to hear evidence from David, Collin, or Reade? Silence.

When DNA evidence demonstrated just how fictional the district attorney’s story was? Silence.

Adamant silence.


Folks, it should concern us all that so many professors at a major American university were either taken in by an obvious hoax or were willing to use the hoax to advance their agendas, even at the cost of endorsing the police-state tactics of a corrupt prosecutor and others.

And it should concern us all that so many Duke alumni and others are willing to give money to the University when it hasn't explained what its leadership did and why it acted so disgracefully in response to the hoax.

Finally, to anyone thinks I tarred all humanities professors: Reread the post.

Is Lieberman right about the Democrats?

Do you ever watch ABC's This Week hosted by Democrat and former Clinton White House staffer turned MSM "journalist" and "analyist" George Stephanopoulos?

This past Sunday former 2000 Democratic Party vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Lieberman was a This Week guest and said:

Well, I say that the Democratic Party changed. The Democratic Party today was not the party it was in 2000.

It’s not the Bill Clinton-Al Gore party, which was strong internationalists, strong on defense, pro-trade, pro-reform in our domestic government.

It’s been effectively taken over by a small group on the left of the party that is protectionist, isolationist and basically will —and very, very hyperpartisan.

So it pains me.
At The Ross Douthat posted yesterday concerning Lieberman's remarks. Here's the money part Douthat's post:
...The only truly questionable portion of Lieberman's remarks is his suggestion that the change agents responsible for the Democratic Party's progressive turn represent "a small group on the left of the party."

It's too soon to tell if the the new-model Democrats are headed for a long-term majority or just a short-term, post-Bush bounce, and maybe Lieberman's right that the the Dems' leftward shift will eventually drive the party into a political ditch.

But given how the landscape looks right now, Lieberman sounds an awful lot like the Rockefeller Republicans of yore, who would complain about how a "small group of extremists" in the conservative movement were hijacking their party and dooming it to defeat, even as those same extremists were leading the GOP to national successes that the Jacob Javitses and Christine Todd Whitmans and Lowell Weickers could only dream about.

There's an important lesson here: Namely, that the American "center" moves around a lot (and varies wildly on an issue-by-issue basis), and thus a party that moves leftward or rightward on the hot-button issues of the day can sometimes find a new center that nobody realized was there.

This tends to leave the inhabitants of the old middle - the Rockefeller Republicans in the '70s and '80s, and perhaps the Lieberman Democrats of today - flummoxed and out-of-step, unable to figure out that just because they've always considered themselves "centrists" doesn't mean the American people will always agree with them....
Douthat's entire post is here.


I respect Sen. Lieberman as someone who puts country before party.

He’s right about the Dems moving further left since 2000.

But I don't agree that it's only a small group that’s taken it in that direction. I also believe the Dems’ leftward shift has been going on for decades.

Just consider what happened to former Lt. John Kerry following his Winter Soldier falsehoods testimony in 1971 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He slimed America’s troops in Vietnam and launched a political career based on those slimes.

Remember the borking of federal appellate judge Robert Bork? Most Senate Dems at the time – July, 1987 – were willing to throw away any consideration of how “the loyal opposition” should function under our Constitution in order to score a partisan victory.

What did it matter that almost universally legal experts considered Bork eminently qualified to serve on the court? The Dems needed to appeal to special interests groups on the left.

Fast forward to the time of Abu Ghraib when Sen. Ted Kennedy declared in a Senate speech: “[W]e now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management: U.S. management."

I was overseas at the time the news of Abu Ghraib broke. The America-haters and the terrorist enablers were saying exactly what Kennedy was saying.

And wouldn’t you expect them to say just what Kennedy said?

Remember Sen. Dick Durbin sliming America with the charge we were treating the prisoners at Gitmo the way the Gestapo, NKVD and Pol Pots killers?

Charles Krauthammer recently said on Fox News the Democratic Party is invested in our defeat in Iraq.

Does anyone doubt that when daily we hear pundits talk about how “bad it will be for the Democrats if thing improve in Iraq;” and Democratic leaders don’t even bother to step forward and challenge that?

I’m not an R, folks, but I could never be a D.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Churchill Series - Mar. 31, 2008

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

Did you know Churchill had a brother?

Many people are surprised to learn he did. Here, for example, is an inquiry typical of many The Churchill Centre receives each year :

While watching “Young Churchill” the other day, I heard a reference to his brother. I have since learned he had a younger brother named Jack. I am highly surprised I have never heard about him before. Could you tell me something about him?
The Centre replied with a “bare bones” sketch, some of which follows :
John Strange Spencer Churchill, 1880-1947, known as Jack, a stockbroker.

Wounded in action in the Boer War, 1899.

Served at Dunkirk, 1914; on Sir John French's staff 1914-15; on Gen. Sir Ian Hamilton's staff at Gallipoli, 1915; on General Birdwood's staff 1916-18.

Married Lady Gwendeline Bertie (1884-1941), daughter of the 7th Earl of Abingdon, in 1908.

Jack and Winston were very close; their descendants still are.
In the next two posts, I’ll put some “flesh” on those “bones.”

Jack was a person of amiable temperament, generous, brave, discreet and possessed of what we used to call “a fine character.” He and Churchill always got along.

They each married once. After their marriages (both in 1908), the brothers’ wives became best friends. The two couples shared the good and the bad of their lives until first Gwendeline’s (called “Goonie” in the family) died in 1941, followed by Jack in 1947.

Jack and Goonie are interesting in their own right. Learning about them will also tell us a great deal about Winston and Clementine.

I hopw you're back tomorrow

Gallup’s latest “presidential” plus

Folks, without further comment here’s a link to Gallup’s latest polling of presidential voter preferences, reported on a Gallup page which in its right hand column has links to some very interesting recent polls on particular matters which may affect some voter groups.

Raleigh N&O Arrogance (Post 1)

Readers Note: This is the first of a five-post series providing examples of the Raleigh News & Observer’s arrogance during its Duke lacrosse coverage. The examples also reveal some of the disingenuousness that was an essential and pervasive part of the N&O’s grossly biased, racially inflammatory and often false Duke Hoax reporting during Spring 2006.


On Apr. 9, 2006 N&O executive editor for news Melanie Sill’s print column began:

The N&O has pushed hard on the police investigation involving Duke's lacrosse team.

So have other area newspapers and TV stations, which makes sense.
So have just about every major newspaper and television network, which makes less sense. …
Sill went on to urge the national media to back off covering the story and leave the Triangle area. She said national coverage had been “seamy.”

Sill continued:
We broke the story March 24 that 46 lacrosse players had provided material for DNA testing following a woman's report to police that she was raped at a team party.

The story has national importance, given Duke's stature and the impact of the scandal.

But why, beyond sensationalism, would headlines on the case's lurid details play on TV screens and newspapers for days all over the country?

With crowds of journalists and paparazzi gathering, … authorities quickly shut down interviews or turn to press briefings. You can't achieve any depth of reporting at a press briefing.

We've seen this here already. District Attorney Mike Nifong, the only person who can explain his office's decisions on the case, cut off interviews early last week, blaming an overload of requests.

That's not just a problem for reporters. It's keeping information away from people who live in this community. …
On Apr. 9, 2006 N&O readers agreed with Sill’s assertion the N&O had “pushed hard” on the story.

They knew the N&O had run story after story sympathetic to the women the N&O repeatedly referred to without any qualification as “the victim.” They’d seen the N&O publish the “Vigilante” poster. They’d read the editorial praising the “woman’s courage in coming forward” and demending Duke University shut down the team.

But what almost all N&O didn't know on Apr. 9 was that Sill’s column was part of an elaborate and monstrous hoax involving the trashing and endangering of Duke’s Men’s lacrosse team and the attempted frame-up of three of its members for rape and other felonies.

Readers didn't know the N&O was enabling the hoax by keeping critically important information away from them.

For example, most readers had some memory of the N&O’s Mar. 25 story it said was about an “ordeal” the “victim” suffered during “a night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violence.”

It was that story which embedded in the public’s mind the deliberately fraudulent hoax script of the frightened black mother brutalized by the white lacrosse aggressors. In the Mar. 25 story, the N&O told readers:
… The accuser spoke Friday, struggling not to cry as she recounted the events of the early hours of March 14 at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., next to Duke's East Campus.

It is The News & Observer's policy not to identify the victims of sex crimes.

The accuser had worked for an escort company for two months, doing one-on-one dates about three times a week.

"It wasn't the greatest job," she said, her voice trailing off. But with two children, and a full class load at N.C. Central University, it paid well and fit her schedule.

This was the first time she had been hired to dance provocatively for a group, she said. …
The N&O knew Crystal Mangum’s claim that March 14 “was the first time she had been hired to dance provocatively for a group” was a lie.

The N&O had reported as far back as June 24, 2002 concerning Mangum’s car theft after she’d stolen the car’s keys from a man she was lap dancing for at a strip club.

John Carroll, the Durham County Deputy Sherriff who gave chase to Mangum andwho she subsequently tried to run down, still works as a Durham Deputy.

The N&O not only published Mangum’s lie on Mar. 25, it continued for weeks to suppress any news which would contradict the young black mother “new to dancing” lie.

That lie generated tremendous sympathy for Mangum and helped sustain the frame-up attempt.

On Apr. 9, when she praised the N&O and complained the attempts of other news organizations to cover the case were “keeping information away from people who live in this community,” Sill knew the N&O was suppressing news and sustaining a lie.

That's arrogant; disingenuous, too.

Here are Sill's column and the N&O's Mar. 25, 2006 and June 24, 2002 stories.