Friday, December 26, 2008

Terrible but unsurprising news from Pakistan

From the Dec. 26 Times of London with my comments below the star line - - -

The Taleban have ordered the closure of all girls’ schools in the war-ravaged Swat district and warned parents and teachers of dire consequences if the ban is flouted.

In an announcement made in mosques and broadcast on radio, the militant group set a deadline of January 15 for its order to be obeyed or it would blow up school buildings and attack schoolgirls.

It also told women not to set foot outside their homes without being fully covered.

“Female education is against Islamic teachings and spreads vulgarity in society,” Shah Dauran, leader of a group that has established control over a large part of Swat district in the North West Frontier Province, declared this week.

Teachers said that they had little choice but to comply. The Taleban have destroyed more than 125 girls’ schools in the area in the past year. …

The militants have also prohibited immunisation for children against polio – claiming that the UN-sponsored vaccination drive is aimed at causing sexual impotence – causing a sharp rise in cases of the disease.

Since the start of the government offensive, girls’ schools have been targeted increasingly by Islamic fundamentalists. The district has 842 boys’ and 490 girls’ state schools for 300,000 children aged 3 to 9; only 163,645 boys and 67,606 girls are actually enrolled at state and private establishments, according to official figures.

According to the local authorities, 50 per cent of girls have stopped attending school because of the militants’ threats..

Attacks on girls’ schools are not confined to the Swat district. In the past two years another 100 schools have been burnt down in Waziristan and other tribal areas, leaving tens of thousands of children between the ages of 5 and 15 with no access to education.

In many areas hardliners have established Sharia, or Islamic law, setting up their own courts and introducing public executions for those who break it. This month militants killed a pro-government cleric and hung his body up in Mingora, the main town of Swat, in full view of the Pakistani military and the local administration.

The entire Times article’s here.



When liberals and leftists here in America ask if I know “Why they hate us?” I usually say, “Well, fot has something to do with how we threat woman, right?”

Paco Martin, Madrid, Spain comments on the thread:

About time ALL Muslims got their act together to condemn this. I fear I do not see this happening - Showing that really this religion needs to get its act together and support western values of health education and freedom for ALL.
I sure wish all, or at least a lot more, Muslims would start doing that.

I wish too there was a chance gay leaders and the Hollywood glitterati would squeeze a little time in between blasting President-elect Obama, Rev. Warren and Pope Benedict to condemn the treatment of women in many Muslim countries and support the elimination of the influence of Muslim fundamentalists everywhere.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A headline classic. And what about the N&O

An Andrew Malcom LAT Top Of The Ticket blog post begins:

The Barack Obama presidential transition office today finally released its own report on its own internal investigation of its own contacts with legally challenged Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. And you'll be comforted to know the Obama folks found no impropriety whatsoever by Obama folks.
That’s a very good opening, and all the better as it must surely upset Hollywood liberals and those devoted to them.

But look at that headline above Malcom’s post:
Obama team probe of Obama team finds no Obama team impropriety
It's a classic!

Why didn’t the LAT run a headline like that in its print edition?

Were the editors afraid they'd run off some of their devoted core of liberal and leftist readers?

I don’t know.

Anyway, it’s Christmas Day and I’m not doing much blogging.

But tomorrow I plan to look back and see how my local paper, the McClatchy Company’s liberal/leftist Raleigh News & Observer, headlined the story.

I’ll let you know what I find.

Malcolm’s entire post’s here.

Hat tip:

A most memorable Christmas

included attendance with my wife and dear friends at Mass at the Rosaire Chapel in Vence, France.

There's no exaggeration in the following from a Vence information site:

The Rosaire chapel, conceived by Henri Matisse remains a sacred art monument, unique in the world.

From 1948 to 1951, Matisse drew up the plans for the edifice and all the details of its decoration: stain glass windows, ceramics, stalls, stoup, [etc.]

It was the first time that a painter entirely designed every detail of a monument, from the architecture to the furniture [to the vestments the priests wear at Mass. – JinC]. …

For Henry Matisse, “this work required me 4 years of an exclusive and untiring effort and it is the fruit of my whole working life. In spite of all its imperfections I consider it as my masterpiece."

From New World Encyclopedia are photos of the chapel’s:


Interior here, here and here

The green, the red and the white chasubles Matisse designed.

And again from an information site some photos (click on the photo link on the menu at the left) of the area immediately surrounding the chapel.

A photo of the exterior of the alter end of the chapel is in the center. The photos can be enlarged with a click.

I hope a “visit” to this most beautiful chapel and creation of Matisse adds to your enjoyment of this day.


A “gift” for all of us from Jeff Jacoby

I woke up this morning to find Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby had left under the masthead at a “gift” which begins:

Can you hear the grumbling over in what Howard Dean used to call "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party?" The tolerance-and-diversity crowd is upset with Barack Obama; it seems the president-elect has been bringing people into his circle who don't agree with them on every single issue.
The rest of Jacoby’s excellent column’s here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Blessings to you and my plans

Holiday good wishes and blessings to all of you who strive to do you best and give the other person a fair shake.

I appreciate the good wishes some of you have expressed to me.

Blogging will be very light today and tomorrow.

From Dec. 26 until after the New Year the blogging will be more "conversational" than anything else.

By that I mean, for example, that without going back and getting the links, I'll talk about what a sea change there's been for Duke since Sept. 2007 when President Brodhead issued his "apology" to the lacrosse players to a standing ovation from the trustees and "the word" from the Allen Building was "move on."

But that's all fallen apart.

Since Sept. 2007, to cite just two examples, the same Duke leaders who were talking "move on" found themselves forced to first, hire Jamie Gorelick, an attorney best-known for her political influence in high places, and second, bring a suit against one of its insurers who's refusing to pay a penny for legal or other costs connected with suits brought against Duke in regard to its disgraceful response to Mangum's lies and what followed them.

Duke’s not moving on. It just finding itself stuck deeper and deeper in the Duke/Durham cover-up with things getting uglier and Dukier.

Along with those “conversation” posts, I'll pick up on a few "in the news” items.

I'll also let you know what some of my major goals for JinC in '09 are.

And I'll ask for your thoughts on how to achieve them.

So keep looking in during the holidays.

Just don't expect too much.

Now again, every blessing to you.


Raleigh N&O’s “gift” to the Duke laxers

When we think of the McClatchy Company’s liberal/leftist Raleigh News & Observer in connection with Duke lacrosse players, we don’t think of the N&O sending a “gift,” even unintentionally, to the Duke lacrosse players.

After all, the N&O did so much to publicly trash and libel them, even going so far as enable a transparent frame-up of three of the players for gang rape and other felonies.

Why would it send the players any kind of "gift?"

But on June 20, 2008 at its Editors’ Blog the N&O, in a post by senior editor Dan Barkin, delivered, I’m sure unintentionally, a big “gift” to the laxers and their attorneys who’ve brought suits against Duke University, Durham city and police officials, and others involved in the massive injustices inflicted on the players and their families.

To see that for yourself, please read Barkin’s post, here in its entirety except for a color photo that accompanies it, and which Barkin describes in his post. I’ll add a few comments after the star line.

Barkin’s post, "The Perp Walk," begins - - -

On the front of our Business section today was a photo of a former Bear Sterns hedge fund manager, Matthew Tannin, being helped into a car by a federal law enforcement agent. This is what is known among journalists as the "perp walk." Perp being short for perpetrator.

This is the occasion, after an arrest is made, when the accused is being taken from one place -- like a lockup -- to another place -- like a courthouse. Or maybe from the courthouse to another place. This is usually the best opportunity for photographers to get pictures or video of the perp.

In high profile cases, the perp walk takes on special symbolism. It conveys a message from law enforcement: We got him. We are on the case.

In cases of white-collar crime, it has taken on an even greater significance. It is law enforcement's way of sending the message that even though the accused may be a millionaire and a big-deal executive, he is going to be treated like a common criminal.

There is nothing that focuses the minds of big-shots on Wall Street like the sight of a former colleague being marched in handcuffs past a swarm of cameras by federal agents. Sometimes the federal agents actually walk into the big Wall Street firms and march the accused right out of his office, in front of co-workers.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, when he was a federal prosecutor, is said to have raised the executive perp walk to an art form. Prosecutors have increasingly used the threat of a perp walk in negotiations with targets of their white-collar investigations.

Here's a good article on the history and nuances of the technique.

One thing that you have to keep in mind when you see photos or videos of Big Shots being perp walked is that -- in the end -- the government still has to prove the case. The guy that you see being cuffed and put into the back of a car probably has a battery of $700 an hour lawyers at his disposal, who will go up against federal lawyers who do not make $700 an hour. Try $60 an hour.

There is a good chance that the perp being walked today will never see the inside of a prison cell when all is said and done.

The feds know this, in the back of their minds, which may be one big reason for the handcuffs and the cameras. Because even if the accused win in court, they'll still have to live down the images of being perp walked (sic) being seen on CNN by everyone who went to high school with them.



The Raleigh N&O published a perp photo of the players - their coats and sweaters covering their faces - walking in to the police lab to give DNA samples. It also published a Vigilante poster photo. Newsweek put “mug shot” photos on its front page. And on and on the MSM photo-smearing went.

When it comes to the time in the suit process when the players' attorneys are arguing before a judge, jury or others involved in agreeing to pay damages to make the players as “whole” as possible, the attorneys will surely welcome editor Dan Barkin and the "gift" of his post “The Perp Walk.”

Advice to anyone who might use Barkin’s post: Print out or in some other way retain the post. Sometimes posts at the Editors’ Blog are “updated;” sometimes posts and comment threads there even disappear entirely.

Factual note: Many people believe the N&O published the lax “perp walk” photo on Mar. 24, 2006 along with the story of the Duke students entering the police lab to give DNA samples. But the N&O decided not to publish it then.

The N&O waited until some days later when the trashing, slandering and threats directed at the players were at their height and then published it.

Some newspaper!

The Churchill Series - Christmas Eve, 2008

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

Shortly after Pearl Harbor Churchill sailed for America to meet with President Roosevelt. After a stormy crossing he arrived in Hampton Roads, VA from where he and some of his party fly on to Washington while the rest of his party traveled there by land.

Churchill arrived Dec. 22, 1941 at Washington’s National Airport (now Reagan) where he was greeted by President Roosevelt. Roosevelt and Churchill, together with their staffs, would in the following days and weeks engage in intense, complicated and critical war planning.

But the two leaders would also take some time for Christmas.

In the 1940s, in an event broadcast nationally by radio, the White House Christmas tree was lit by the President on Christmas Eve. Churchill was staying at the White House and so was there late on the afternoon of Dec. 24 as Roosevelt prepared to make to make some brief remarks to the nation and light the tree.

Roosevelt invited Churchill to join him on the White House’s South Portico where the ceremony would take place. He also invited Churchill to say a few words, which Churchill readily agreed to do.

This link will take you to a photo of Roosevelt standing before the microphones with Churchill standing to his right and rear at a column base. I don’t know who the third man in the photo is but assume he’s a technician.

According to the White House Historical Association following Roosevelt's remarks, Churchill said:

"Let the children have their night of fun and laughter. Let the gifts of Father Christmas delight their play. Let us grown-ups share to the full in their unstinted pleasures before we turn again to the stern task and formidable years that lie before us, resolved that, by our sacrifice and daring, these same children shall not be robbed of their inheritance or denied the right to live in a free and decent world."
FDR then lit the tree and the two leaders led the crowd assembled on the South Lawn in the singing of carols.

The photo and Churchill's words are part of a site the White House Historical Association has put together. It has many photos (some color) of Presidents and their families centered on Christmas themes. I hope you enjoy looking around the site.

And I wish all of you blessings this day.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"Nifong Roasting" remains a "holiday classic"

Two years ago today three former Duke students North Carolina's attorney general Roy Cooper would later declare the "innocent" victims of a "rush to accuse" by a "rogue prosecutor" were still under indictment for gang rape and other felonies.

The rogue prosecutor, Mike Nifong,was still Durham's DA. In fact,he'd just narrowly won election to his first full term as Durham DA.It would be another seven months before he'd be disbarred.

And two years ago today Richard H. Brodhead, Duke's president, hadn't yet started telling alums: "I'm one of Nifong's bigest critics."

That wasn't surprising. Since March 2006 Brodhead and Duke's trustees had positioned the university to be Nifong's principal enabler.

They only began abandoning Nifong on Dec. 15, 2006 when one of his stooges admitted in open court he'd conspired with the Nifong to withhold DNA evidence of the students' innocence.

And also two years ago today, JinC published for the first time "Nifong Roasting" by Duke alum Locomotive Breath.

It was, as they say in the music industry, "an instant classic."

I'm delighted to republish it again today.


You all know
The Christmas Song Nat King Cole made famous.

It begins:

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping on your nose,
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.
The rest of the lyrics are here.

Locomotive Breath took those lyrics and produced this wonderful spoof:
A Christmas Song for Mike Nifong
With Apologies to Tradition

DA's burning in a hellish fire
Flames are licking at his toes,
Mournful chants sung by a choir,
Of tortured souls sent down below.

Everybody knows a false charge from a lyin' ho',
Will surely send you straight to hell,
Wicked fiends with their eyes all aglow,
Will make it hard to sleep too well.

They know that Nifong's gotta pay,
He's loaded lots of guilt and bad deeds on his way,
And every laxer Mom is gonna spy,
To see if Michael really knows how to cry.

And so I'm offering this simple gaze,
From now to time beyond our view,
Although it's been said many times many ways,
Immolation for you.

The latest from Camelot

The International Herald Tribune works had to put the best face on a story that should be headlined “The Princess Who Won’t,” but we nevertheless learn a few things by picking through the story as well as noting what it leaves out.

According to the ITH - - -

… If she were applying to be, say, an undersecretary of education in Barack Obama's new administration, Caroline Kennedy would have to fill out a 63-item confidential questionnaire disclosing potentially embarrassing text messages and diary entries, the immigration status of her household staff, even copies of every résumé she used in the last 10 years.

If she were running for election to the Senate, Kennedy would have to file a 10-part, publicly available report disclosing her financial assets, credit card debts, mortgages, book deals and the sources of any payments greater than $5,000 in the last three years.

But Kennedy, who has asked Governor David Paterson to appoint her to succeed Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton — and who helped oversee the vetting process for Obama's possible running mates — is declining to provide a variety of basic data, including companies she has a stake in and whether she has ever been charged with a crime.

Kennedy declined on Monday to reply to those and other questions posed by The New York Times about any potential ethical, legal and financial entanglements.

Through a spokesman, she said she would not disclose that kind of information unless and until she becomes a senator.

"If Governor Paterson were to choose Caroline, she would, of course, comply with all disclosure requirements," said the spokesman, Stefan Friedman. …

The rest of the story’s here.



She’ll disclose on the eve of her appointment.

How gracious!

But why not now so people can take a long look and investigative reporters can – if any of them dare – investigate whatever Senator-presumptive Caroline Kennedy finally releases.

Closing thought: Kennedy owes the IHT a Thank You note for not mentioning that she’s refusing to release her recent tax returns.

Ah, Camelot!

McClatchy steaming toward bankruptcy

Here's a repost of my June 10, 2008 post: The McClatchy Train Wreck. After that below the star line there "the latest" from McClatchy Watch and a few of my comments.

The McClatchy Train Wreck

At McClatchy Watch there’s more news of “the slow motion McClatchy train wreck.”

This time the news is the Charlotte Observer’s just announced job cuts.

You can read about them in this McC Watch post which also has links to previous posts on McClatchy’s decline.

McC Watch does an outstanding job covering McClatchey, America’s second (or maybe third) largest newspaper chain whose papers include the liberal/leftist “Anything for Obama” Raleigh News & Observer.

I’ve only one disagreement with McC Watch’s latest post.

I don’t think we’re watching a slow motion wreck.

McClatchy’s on the fast track to disaster.

Within the last 5 years its stock has traded in the mid 70s.

According to AOL Money & Finance McClatchy (symbol mni) closed yesterday, June 9, @ 7.81, down from its 52-week high of 28.73 and just above its 52-week low of 7.77.

McClatchy is loaded with debt; its bonds are rated junk; and its ad revenues are declining. So is print circulation at just about all its papers.

A blog friend who knows something about finance and a lot about the newspaper business says he won’t be surprised to see McClatchy declare bankruptcy before the end of this calendar year.

Meanwhile, McClatchy's business plan seems to be: "More steam, engineer."

Duke’s lax conduct: “appallingly unique” or “the usual … business?”

The following comment by AMac was posted in response to Why did the Duke trustees enable the frame-up attempt?

It’s slightly off topic. I don’t agree with some of the things AMac says. I want to discuss them as well as some other things he says with which I agree or about which I’ve thought and wondered for almost three years now.

But I’m not getting into any of that now because things at JinC will slow down starting tomorrow, Christmas Eve, until after the New Year so I would rather wait until 2009 to engage many of the important issues, questions and conclusions AMac offers.

But I want to put his comment before you for your consideration and response now as you wish with the knowledge I’ll be revisiting it in 2009 along, I hope, with many of you.

I thank AMac for his comment.

Now Amac’s comment - - -

For those of us lacking a Duke connection, here's a more general concern: Is the conduct of this institution's Board of Trustees appallingly unique, or is it a consequence of the usual course of business?

If presented with a similar set of circumstances, would other BOTs have performed more honorably or more capably?

We can't know the answer, but I'll state the most reasonable guess: No.

Shivers accompanied by "There but for the Grace of God go I" ought to be the common reaction of university trustees upon reading "Until Proven Innocent" and the like.

Two thoughts as to why:

First, the initial reactions to Nifong's and the DPD's campaign by the N&O, the potbangers, the Group of 88, and Pres. Brodhead defined the narrative for the BOT as much as for the media as a whole. It's very difficult for humans to admit "I've been wrong, so I'm repudiating my actions to this point." This is especially true for those in the public eye--and for those such as Trustee Robert Steele who hold themselves in high esteem.

Second, some stories are intrinsically more credible than others, and the Lacrosse Gang Rapists account had the ring of authenticity from the very beginning.

As the edges began fraying, it morphed naturally into an essential truth, details notwithstanding. Fake but accurate.

Partly this ground was prepared by the rowdy conduct of the team over the years--Charlotte Simmons.

Yet it is apparent (to all except many Leftists) that the lion's share of this travesty was enabled by our society's widespread and reflexive genuflection to the idol of political correctness.

For the Trustees who came to the case with prior Belief or even merely Acceptance, listening to the Listeners was the natural place to start. (Obviously, I am using that word in the same toxic manner that the Listeners themselves do.)

It would have taken unusual insight and strength of character for a Duke Trustee to have deviated from the road that Brodhead and Steele reflexively began to travel.

None did, in those critical weeks and months before "lawyering up" became the order of the day.

Sadly, few of their peers at other institutions would have, either.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Churchill Series - Dec. 22, 2008

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

On November 30, 1924, Churchill turned fifty.

One of his biographers, William Manchester, would later describe Churchill at fifty:

(He was) portly, bald, stooped, his face lined with wrinkles accumulated during countless crises, any one of which would have aged most men overnight.

Yet the overall effect was pleasant. He had begun to resemble the cartoonist's conception of John Bull, hearty and prosperous, with an ovoid torso and a low center of gravity, good-humored if you let him have his way but stubborn and even refractory if you didn't.

His height was just under five feet, seven inches, which would have surprised those who knew him only through newspaper photographs, because his massive shoulders led one to expect a taller man.

His manner was always forthright, never devious, no one ever called him enigmatic.

As unsubtle as the rare roast beef he ( and John Bull) loved, his expression invariably reflected his mood. He beamed, looked puckish, frowned, wept, or brooded, but of the thousands of Churchill photographs, none shows him bored.
What a wonderful word portrait.

And as for no photo showing him bored, remember what our parents taught us?

Boredom is what happens to people who aren't interested in anything

That was never Churchill.
William Manchester,
The Last Lion: Visions of Glory. (p. 755)

Restating the trustee enablement question

The comments in response to Why did Duke’s trustees enable the frame-up attempt? and Did Duke's trustees just follow Steel's lead? were, without exception, thoughtful.

Each added to the discussion of Duke’s disgraceful role in the Duke/Durham hoax and frame-up attempt.

For all of that, a number of the comments convinced me I didn't state as clearly as I should've just what I was asking.

Here, in italics, is a very reasonable Anon comment that helped me see I should've been more clear - - -

Duke has spent more than $100 million buying good will in Durham. (Duke is likely the biggest renter of office space; and often the first to line up to invest in any re-development project).

Duke needs the city's good will in order to get the zoning it requires to rebuild its campus (a project costing up to $500 million).

In their grand scheme of things, IMHO, big-time players like Steel and the rest probably considered three innocent Duke students to be expendable.

I can agree that trustees might let some mistreatment of Duke students by Durham authorities happen because they told themselves it was, for example, "just small potatoes citing a kid for a misdemeanor."

That wouldn't be right but I could understand that trustees might rationalize their indifference because "what was done wasn't major."

But in the case that started with Mangum’s lies we weren’t talking about something like citing and cuffing a Duke student for public peeing when in similar circumstances a DPD officer would have let another a Durham citizen off with a warning, unacceptable as it would be for Duke’s trustees to passively condone or actively cooperate in such differential treatment of Duke students.

But the Duke/Durham frame-up attempt involved felonies that would, on conviction, have sent innocent students to prison for decades

I'm not questioning that Duke’s trustees might have gone along with some mistreatment of Duke students .

What I'm questioning is why
any Duke trustee would enable a frame-up as vicious as one for gang rape and other felonies and that was so obviously a frame-up based on a crazy hoax story.

Why would Duke's trustees enable a gang rape frame-up of their students based on a malicious hoax so improbable and crazy it was recognized as false in the first hours it (and multiple versions of it) was told at DUMC’s ER on the morning of Mar. 14, 2006.

Recall all those Duke and Durham police officers and Duke physicians and nurses (one or two excepted) in the ER that night who questioned and/or examined Crystal Mangum?

They concluded her claims of multiple rapes were false. Their conclusions were documented in written police reports and physicians' and nurses' medical notations.

Why would Duke trustees say ignore all that and go along with Sgt. Gottlieb and Mr. Nifong?

Yes, I know Duke tries to work as cooperatively as it can with Durham authorities, but aren’t there times when it says to Durham authorities: “Duke can’t go with you on this one?”

Yes, I know Durham has lots of clout – zoning, for instance – with which it can influence Duke.

But Duke has lots of clout with which it can also influence Durham.

And in those first days of Mar. 14 and 15 when Duke Police and Durham Police investigations concluded Mangum's gang rape claims were without foundation, surely Durham's power figures weren't pressuring Duke to go along with the frame-up then, were they?

So given a crazy story and the overwhelming weight of the evidence pointing to the students' innocence, why did Duke's trustees lead the university to a place where it became the principal enabler of a frame-up of its own students?

From the close of Why did Duke’s trustees enable the frame-up attempt?

But suppose instead of trying to pass that 2400 sq. ft. house off as being 2600 sq. ft., we tell prospective buyers it’s really a 30,000 sq. ft., brand new house “the same as the one former Sen. John Edwards built for himself?”

Who’d believe us?

We’d be crazy to try to market the house that way.

There’s no Realtor here in Durham I know who’s ever tried to market a 2400 sq. ft. house as a 30,000 sq. ft. house.

But Duke’s trustee’s went along with a crazy story (really a series of contradictory crazy stories) told in the DUMC emergency room during the early morning hours of March 14, 2006.


Duke’s trustee’s agreed to serve as enabling partners of a rogue prosecutor.

The rogue’s conduct was so offensive to due process and legal ethics that within four days of his first public statements meant to advance the framing, the North Carolina State Bar opened a case file in anticipation of the time when it would have to consider bringing ethics charges against him; something that later happened and led to his disbarment.

Wouldn't it be crazy for a university’s board of trustees to partner with a rogue prosecutor hell bent on trashing and framing its own students?

But Duke’s trustees did that?


A Brit's take on his country, Iraq and Afghanistan

Michael Portillo, Britain’s former Secretary of State for Defence (the Brit spelling), in the Times of London with my comments below the star line

Last week Gordon Brown announced a date for Britain’s withdrawal from Iraq. Most troops will be back in time for a spring general election. The prime minister posed with soldiers and expressed his sorrow over yet more fatal casualties in Afghanistan.

He did not dwell on Britain’s humiliation in Basra, nor mention that this is the most inglorious withdrawal since Sir Anthony Eden ordered the boys back from Suez.

The fundamental cause of the British failure was political. Tony Blair wanted to join the United States in its toppling of Saddam Hussein because if Britain does not back America it is hard to know what our role in the world is: certainly not a seat at the top table.

But, for all his persuasiveness, Blair could not hold public opinion over the medium term and so he cut troop numbers fast and sought to avoid casualties.

As a result, British forces lost control of Basra and left the population at the mercy of fundamentalist thugs and warring militias, in particular Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.

The secondary cause of failure was a misplaced British disdain for America, shared by our politicians and senior military.

In the early days in Iraq we bragged that our forces could deploy in berets and soft-sided vehicles while US forces roared through Baghdad in heavily armoured convoys. British leaders sneered at the Americans’ failure to win hearts and minds because of their lack of experience in counterinsurgency.

Pride has certainly come before a fall. British commanders underestimated both the enemy’s effectiveness and the Americans’ ability to adapt. Some apparently failed even to observe how much had changed.

At a meeting in August 2007 an American described Major-General Jonathan Shaw, then British commander, as “insufferable”, lecturing everyone in the room about lessons learnt in Northern Ireland, which apparently set eyeballs rolling: “It would be okay if he was best in class, but now he’s worst in class.”

Around the same time Jack Keane, an American general, moaned that it was frustrating to see the “situation in Basra that was once working pretty well, now coming apart”.

By then General David Petraeus had been appointed US commander, introducing intelligence and determination in equal measure.

If a fair-minded account of the Iraq war is written, credit should go to President Bush for rejecting two years ago the report by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group that called for force reductions.

He defied conventional wisdom and ordered a troop surge instead. It has been an extraordinary success and, unlike Britain, the Americans will not withdraw in defeat.

During debates in Washington, British forces’ ignominious withdrawal to barracks was cited to argue that the United States could not contemplate being humbled in a similar way. In the end Bush was not a quitter. Blair “cut and ran”.

Britain’s shaming was completed in March 2008 when Iraqi forces, backed by the US, moved decisively against the Mahdi Army, inflicting huge casualties and removing them from Basra.

Operation Charge of the Knights was supervised by Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, exasperated that Iraq’s second city was controlled not by Britain but by an Iranian-backed Shi’ite militia. . . .

It cannot be a defence of British policy that the war was unpopular at home. Our mission was to provide security for the Iraqi people, and in that the US and Maliki’s government have recently had marked success and we have failed.

The fault does not lie with our fighters. They have been extremely brave and as effective as their orders and their equipment would allow.

It raises questions about the stamina of our nation and the resolve of our political class. It is an uncomfortable conclusion that Britain, with nuclear weapons, cruise missiles, aircraft carriers and the latest generation of fighter-bombers, is incapable of securing a medium-size conurbation.

Making Basra safe was an essential part of the overall strategy; having committed ourselves to our allies we let them down.

The extent of Britain’s fiasco has been masked by the media’s relief that we are at last leaving Iraq. …

The British media and public have shown scant regard for our failure to protect Iraqis, so the British nation, not just its government, has attracted distrust. We should reflect on what sort of country we have become. We may enjoy patronising Americans but they demonstrate a fibre that we now lack.

The United States will have drawn its conclusions about our reliability in future and British policy-makers, too, will need to recognise that we lack the troops, wealth and stomach for anything more than the briefest conflict. How long will we remain in Afghanistan?

There, in contrast to our past two years in Basra, our forces engage the enemy robustly. But as a result the attrition rate is high. We look, rightly, for more help from Nato allies such as Germany, although humility should temper that criticism, given our own performance in Iraq.

The mood in the Ministry of Defence is said to be despondent. The government, having used our forces in Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, has been unwilling to increase the budget.

Having announced that he would fight the recession by bringing forward public spending, Brown has pushed back the date of two new aircraft carriers. The Conservatives are too cautious about public spending to make promises.

The recession is likely to bring further cuts because neither party sees votes in defence. Nor is either willing to talk of reducing commitments or of specialising in particular defence roles.

Prestige apart, it is hard to explain why we have nuclear weapons, and what price prestige, if it is clear to the world that we could not protect the civilians of a single city in Iraq?

Portillo’s entire column’s here.



Portillo’s informed, well-reasoned and literate essay is quite a contrast to the Bush-bashing, blame America drivel we read and hear so often on both sides of the pond.

Regulars here who read the posts on the American-Iraqi combined effort to retake Basra from Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army (most of those posts written by Mike Williams) will not be surprised by what Portillo says about how the Brits functioned there.

But most Americans would be: First, because we were fed all those gloating MSM stories about how “much smarter and more effective the British approach in Basra is to what the Americans are doing.”

Then there was the underreporting or outright ignoring of the Brits' loss of control there.

Finally, when American and Iraqi troops moved in to retake the city and initially encountered more resistance than expected, the call for reinforcements was presented by MSM as a sign of impending defeat rather then a sign of determination to prevail, which ultimately happened.

President Bush is getting a shellacking from the overwhelmingly Democratic press which a few years ago hailed Sen. Harry (“The war in Iraq is lost.”) Reid and the rest of the “cut and run” crowd as "wise."

That’s the same press that kept predicting civil war in Iraq.

Now informed, reasonable people recognize the truth of what Portillo said:

If a fair-minded account of the Iraq war is written, credit should go to President Bush for rejecting two years ago the report by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group that called for force reductions.

He defied conventional wisdom and ordered a troop surge instead. It has been an extraordinary success and, unlike Britain, the Americans will not withdraw in defeat.

The Bush-bashing MSM and the crowd that took out the General Betray Us smear ad in the NY Times must choke when they read what Portillo says. Most of them know Portillo's right, President Bush was right, and they were wrong. But rather than admit that, they turn up the Bush-bashing volume in the hope people won't notice what's really happened..

Iraq is a long way from being a secure, stable democracy, but it now has a chance to become one.

For that great credit is due our military forces, their commanders, especially Gen. Petraeus, and President Bush.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Does Vice-president elect Biden take off his shoes first?

Shannen Coffin at NRO - - -

Vice President Cheney had a little fun at his successor-to-be's expense today, telling Fox News Sunday that he didn't take Joe Biden's criticism of his tenure too seriously because Joe Biden doesn't know the Constitution from a hole in the ground.

Bill Sammon reports that Cheney said: "Joe's been chairman of the Judiciary Committee, a member of the Judiciary Committee in the Senate for 36 years, teaches constitutional law back in Delaware, and can't keep straight which article of the Constitution provides for the legislature and which provides for the executive. So I think I'd write that off as campaign rhetoric. I don't take it seriously."

Cheney was referring to Biden's VP debate gaffe (discussed here), in which he confused Articles of the Constitution addressing the authority of the Legislative Branch (Article I) and the Executive Branch (Article II).

Biden "bit back," according to Sammon, but unfortunately, he seems to have bitten himself.

According to Biden, Cheney's "notion of a unitary executive, meaning that, in time of war, essentially all power, you know, goes to the executive, I think is dead wrong."

Well, once again, Mr. Biden, that's no one's notion of the unitary executive except confused Democrats. The unitary executive is simply a recognition, from the first sentence of Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, that the "executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America."

For the umpteenth time, it is not a theory that the president's power is somehow enhanced, at the expense of Congress, during wartime. It is merely a recognition that there is only one (i.e., uni-tary) executive and that any efforts by Congress to give executive authority to someone other than the President is unconstitutional.

It is not a theory about the balance of power between the branches, but a statement about the authority of the president within the Executive Branch.

The "notion" that a "unitary executive" means that "in time of war, essentially all power, goes to the executive," is indeed dead wrong. But it's Biden's misconception of that theory that is wrong, not Cheney's.

Keep it up, Joe. At this rate, you'll know more about the Constitution than your non-lawyer predecessor in, well, never.


Three Questions:

Does the Vice-president elect remember to take his shoes off before he puts his feet in his mouth?

Does he appreciate how lucky he is to have mostly fawning Democratic MSM to play down or ignore his many misstatements?

Does he know whether Caroline Kennedy thinks NY’s Rep. Charlie Rangel should step down from his House Ways and Means Committee chairmanship?

Did Duke's trustees just follow Steel's lead?

On the thread of a Why did Duke's trustees enable the frame-up attempt? Anon @ 12:34 asked:

Were the trustees just following the lead of the chairman of the board of trustees?

My answer - - -

BOT chair Robert Steel's Apr. 7, 2006 public statement included the following :

The trustees of Duke University have been in active conversation with President Brodhead and the university’s senior leadership since the outset of the controversy involving the men’s lacrosse team. We appreciate the constancy of President Brodhead’s responsible leadership at a time when the facts are not clear and emotions run high. …

As President Brodhead has noted, we need not -- and will not -- wait on the resolution of this case to address broader issues that range from the social culture of our students to difficult questions involving race, class and Duke’s relationships with its Durham neighbors.

We endorse the steps President Brodhead is taking to deal with both the immediate situation and these wider challenges. (emphasis added)
By Apr. 7, 2006 Brodhead had, to name just a few of his questionable actions, apologized unconditionally in Duke’s name to “the first caller” who we were told at the time was “unknown,” but who had been known since Mar. 13/14, the night of the party, to Durham police and many others. (Maybe Brodhead, members of “Dick’s senior team,” and at least some trustees, do you think?)

What’s more, by Apr. 7 Brodhead had already forced Coach Pressler’s resignation; canceled the lacrosse season; and, for reasons he and Steel have never disclosed, failed to correct a number of deliberately false and malicious statements attacking the lacrosse players made by now disbarred Mike Nifong and the Raleigh N&O.

Brodhead and Steel had failed to counter those statements, even as other Duke administrators recognized those false statements were adding to the risks of physical harm Duke’s students, the lacrosse players especially, were facing from angry, hate-filled people in the community who’d rallied to CASTRATE and GIVE THEM EQUAL MEASURE banners by East Campus and distributed the notorious “Vigilante” posters within sight of Brodhead’s office windows.

Do I believe that by the time of Steel’s Apr. 7 statement all Duke’s trustees (the BOT usually has 37 members) agreed with Steel’s and Brodhead’s actions?


Because, for one thing, I can't believe all Duke's trustees agreed by Apr. 7 that Brodhead and Steel were right to say nothing critical of those whose odious actions were endangering Duke's students and others?

What’s more, by Apr. 7 reasonably intelligent, fair-minded people could see “the wheels were coming off” the Duke/Durham hoax and framing.

Surely by then at least some Duke trustees recognized what was happening, don’t you agree?

I've been told by people I trust and in a position to know, that some trustees by Apr. 7 had shared with Brodhead and Steel their concerns and disagreements about what's now recognized as Duke's disgraceful "throw them under the bus" strategy.

I believe that.

But no trustee publicly expressed by Apr. 7 even a slight concern about what “Dick and his team” were doing, including their going along with Nifong’s false public statements and their agreeing to provide him with federally protected student key card information.

And no trustee has to date expressed publicly any disagreement with how Brodhead and Steel led Duke’s disgraceful response to the false accuser’s and Nifong’s lies and the endorsement of those lies by many administrators, faculty, staff and students.

Why not?

In 2009 the “why not” question will get a lot more attention as the pending suits move through the court system.

Perhaps before 2009 ends some trustees will step forward and give us their answer to the question.

That said, there remains the question I raised in my post Why did Duke's trustees enable the frame-up attempt?

Why did the trustees allow Duke to go along in the first place with what was obviously a crazy hoax?

Why on March 14 or 15, 2006 or as soon thereafter as they learned about Crystal Mangum's lies, didn't the trustees say the equivalent of: "We have to tell our Durham police friends that this one is too absurd, too vicious and too public for us to go along with it?

The questions won't go away.