Friday, April 03, 2009

The Churchill Series - Apr. 3, 2009

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

This repost from July 2006 should let us end the workweek with a smile.

From the time he was a small boy into old age, horses were a part of Churchill’s life. He rode ponies before he was five. He served as a cavalry officer in India and Africa. He jockeyed in steeplechases and participated in the famous cavalry charge at Omdurman. He was a skilled polo player who played into his early fifties. After WWII Churchill developed a small but very successful racing stable. It's success earned him membership in The Jockey Club.

All that is a fine background to what I think is the most amusing line to come out of the 1945 General Election campaign in which Churchill led the Conservatives.

His daughter, Lady Mary Soames, who campaigned with her father during the election, tells us about it:

[The newspaper magnate] Max Beaverbrook was an extraordinary personality, arousing extremes of reaction in people. ...

[His friendship with Churchill] was much disapproved of by “top Tories”: in the 1945 election the tone of the Beaverbrook papers led to the quip the Max “wanted the jockey to win but not the horse.”
One of those who disapproved of Churchill’s friendship with Beaverbrook was Clementine who for years distrusted him. Lady Soames says that near the end of his life Clementine softened her attitude toward Beaverbrook, “succumbing gracefully to Max’s perennial charm and blandishments.”
Speaking for Themselves: The Personal Letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill. (Edited by Mary Soames) (p. 649)

For Those Who’ll Soon Visit Britain (Post 1)

JinC Regular cks has won a National Endowment for the Humanities grant for five weeks of study this summer in England and The Netherlands. You can read more about her NEH program here.

Both cks’s frequent comments at JinC and her selection for the highly competitive NEH grant suggest she’s a pretty smart person.

Nevertheless, she's sought my opinions concerning her travel related activities.

Well first, cks, you and anyone else who reads here is warned.

Readers, you’re invited to join in with your recommendations and cautions.

And let’s expand cks’s time horizon and think in terms of folks who’ll be visiting Britain and The Netherlands between now and Sept. 15, 2009.

I’ll run a series of posts which will include my suggestions to cks and others. I'll also move from the comment threads to main page posts the tips, cautions, links, etc which many of you offer those visiting the two countries

With “consumer beware and investigate” always a useful reminder, let’s begin.

In the rest of this post I’m considering cks’ situation and the time of her visit, July.

Now to cks - - -

Since you’ve not been to London in 30+ years, you’ll notice a lot that’s changed as well as some things that are the same.

You’ll still find, thank God, those big, black taxi’s with the friendly cabbies who know London’s streets and whose cab rear doors open to the back, thus creating a big opening into which you can pitch your luggage and still have room to stretch your feet after a cramped transatlantic flight?

But there are now mini-cabs in London, too.

I skip them whenever I can.

If you never found a good cup of coffee back in the 80s, you're in for a pleasant surprise.

And it isn’t just because there are Starbucks all over central London and many other places in Britain.

The Brits themselves in hotels, restaurants and other places on the whole serve good to very good coffee.

You can even now get good coffee (and pastry, too) in the heavily trafficked, inter-city train and coach stations in London, Birmingham, Oxford, Edinburgh, etc.


They tell important parts of the story of social change in Britain these past 30 or so years.

That quiet place where you had a pint and, depending on your preference, were either left alone or welcomed into a civil, mirth-filled conversation, maybe later to be invited to join a game of darts or draw your pick in tomorrow’s betting pool -- that kind of pub is for the most part gone, especially in the principal cities.

When you want to find a pub like that, ask for “a traditional pub.”

Most pubs today have the TV on loud. There are also gaming machines in many pubs; and they, too, are loud. So are the conversations. How else to be heard?

Don't let the last few comments discourage you.

I love visiting Britain and will say more about that in succeeding posts.

The next one will be tomorrow.

Between now and then, I hope some readers will comment as well.

Obama’s Ultimate Objectives Include Socialized Medicine

Excerpts from Charles Krauthammer’s WaPo column today with my comment below the star line.

Krauthammers says - - -

…. By sacking GM's CEO, packing the new board, and giving direction as to which brands to drop and what kind of cars to make, Obama takes ownership of General Motors. He may soon come to regret it. He has now gotten himself so entangled in the car business that he is personally guaranteeing your muffler. (Upon reflection, a job best left to the congenitally unmuffled Joe Biden.)

Some find in this descent into large-scale industrial policy a whiff of 1930s-style fascist corporatism. I have my doubts. These interventions are rather targeted. They involve global financial institutions that even the Bush administration decided had to be nationalized, and auto companies that themselves came begging to the government for money.

Bizarre and constitutionally suspect as these interventions may be, the transformation of the American system will come from elsewhere. The credit crisis will pass and the auto overcapacity will sort itself out one way or the other.

The reordering of the American system will come not from these temporary interventions, into which Obama has reluctantly waded. It will come from Obama's real agenda: his holy trinity of health care, education and energy.

Out of these will come a radical extension of the welfare state, social and economic leveling in the name of fairness, and a massive increase in the size, scope and reach of government.

If Obama has his way, the change that is coming is a new America: "fair," leveled and social democratic. Obama didn't get elected to warranty your muffler. He's here to warranty your life.

Krauthammer’s entire column’s here.


My comments:

President Obama hasn’t set out to reform health care. “Health care reform” is just a term to hide what Obama really wants to do: give us government controlled health care, which used to be called socialized medicine.

The model for what Obama wants for Americas is Britain’s National Health Service, which covers all Britons and is free at the point of service, but tax supported and hugely inefficient.

Established in 1945, the NHS is in such a sorry mess today that public dissatisfaction with it is regularly cited as one of the principal reasons for the incumbent Labour Party’s very low public approval ratings.

Herb Denenberg, a former Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner, and now professor at the Wharton School and member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of the Sciences, wrote today in the Philadelphia Bulletin (excerpts)- - -

… The less you know, the more appealing are such things as Hillary-care, Obama-care and the national health insurance systems of Europe. ...

When I was a high school debater, knowing almost nothing about the subject, I most enthusiastically advocated national health insurance or some variation thereof.

When I spent many years teaching courses related to the subject at the Wharton School and over three years as Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner knee-deep in health insurance proposals and their implementation, I started understanding the system better.

I saw that armchair theoreticians could solve every health care problem, while really understanding none of them.

I’ve noticed one other thing. There are countless academic advocates of national health insurance, most of whom are mesmerized by their own voices.

But every time I’ve talked to anyone who actually used a national health insurance system, I found they were overwhelmingly in numbers and strongly in sentiment dead-set against national health insurance.

I’ve also noticed another striking phenomenon. People are swarming into the United States for medical care. But the traffic the other way is definitely on the lighter side.(emphasis added) …

This all came crashing home to me again when I picked up a new book titled, Welcome to Obamaland: I Have Seen Your Future and It Doesn’t Work. It is by James Delingpole, a British political commentator who has had a full dose of the British system.

The book covers a broad range of subjects, but one of the first things he takes up is the British national health insurance system and there’s good reason for that emphasis. He starts out by telling us he has so much envy for Americans:

“You have the best doctors, the best hospitals, the best medical research in the world. You’re free, more or less, to choose what doctors you want; you have private, efficient ‘urgent care’ doctors’ offices dotted around your cities and towns; you don’t have to wait five years to see a surgeon; and your dentists seem to be rather better than ours.”

But he warns that’s all going to change: “Obama is going to bring you socialized medicine (though he’ll call it something else) — and won’t you be happy?” His answer is a definite “no.”…

[Delingpole cites a sample of] typical news items in Britain:

• “Husband found by wife lying in same filthy sheets he vomited on when admitted to hospital two days before

• “Hospital cleaners decide they find it more convenient to rinse selected drinking cups with cold water than to wash them with hot, soapy water

• “Chief Executive of hospital where 90 patients have died of infection due to dirty, blood-spattered wards gets $600,000 pay-off

• “NHS $20 billion supercomputer breaks down 110 times in four months

• “Government claims to have reduced waiting lists discovered to be result of fraudulent hospital figure fiddling

• “About 100,000 Alzheimer’s sufferers told NHS cannot afford $4 a day for drugs to alleviate their condition

• “Sixty Britons every day lose their sight to Age Related Macular Degeneration because local health authority refuses to treat them.”

Mr. Delingpole writes he could go on, but you get the idea, and you’ll get a better idea if Mr. Obama’s health plan goes into effect. He writes Mr. Obama says it will cost between $50 billion to $65 billion a year, and Mr. Delingpole is almost certain it will actually cost more than ten times that amount.

Denenberg’s entire article’s here.

I, too, could go on but, like Mr. Delingpole, I’m sure you get the idea.

Hat Tip: BN

Barone on NY’s 20th District’s Absentee Ballots

Michael Barone, one of our best election analysts, yesterday discussed the 5900+ absentee and military ballots which will decide the House race in NY’s 20th congressional district.

Here’s some of what he said - - -

… Of those 5,995 votes, 48 percent were cast by registered Republicans, 36 percent were cast by registered Democrats and 16 percent by others. That's a 12 percent Republican advantage, a little less than the 15 percent advantage Republicans have in total party identification.

It suggests to me a pretty good Democratic absentee voter drive, since registered Democrats in an Upstate New York district are likelier to be behavioral Democrats than registered Republicans are to be behavioral Republicans. (Reasons: a lot of people register Republican to vote in legislative and local primaries in jurisdictions which are now or have been heavily Republican in general elections; some people may have registered as Republicans years ago out of conviction but lately have been voting Democratic, which is in line with the Democratic trend over the last decade or so in Upstate New York).

Thus this absentee electorate could be a little more Democratic than the voters who voted on election day.

However, it's also possible that an effective Republican absentee voter drive targeted those registered Republicans who also indicate that they are behavioral Republicans; if I were setting up an absentee voter drive that's what I'd aim at doing.

So this absentee electorate could be a little more Republican than the electorate as a whole. There's no real way to know until the votes are counted. …

There's still time for absentee ballots to be received—and even more time for military ballots. …

Democrats are spinning that the absentees from each county will come in the same way the county voted on election day, in which case the Democrat Scott Murphy wins. Maybe, maybe not.

Republicans are spinning that the absentees will come in more Republican than the election day vote because of the Republican party registration edge among them. Again, maybe, maybe not.

Barone’s entire post's here at his
Thomas Jefferson Street blog.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Churchill Series - Apr. 2, 2009

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

Regular readers of this series know we’ve often smiled and laughed. Sometimes it’s been because of something Churchill said or did; sometimes it’s been something someone said about him. Remember Clementine Churchill’s explanation for why Churchill often left for the train station at the last minute and had to race to catch the train: “Winston’s a sporting man. He likes to give the train a chance.”

Today we won’t smile. We’ll see Churchill at age eighty attend the funeral of his closest friend, and then walk to his friend’s graveside for the final rites. Sad moments and joyous ones are part of a full life.

From Martin Gilbert :

The passage of Churchill’s remaining years was inevitably marked by the sadness of the death of close friends. In July 1957, his closest friend and confidant, Lord Cherwell, died; he was seventy-one years old, the same age as Clementine.

Before the war it was with “Prof” that he had examined the weaknesses and inventions of Britain’s Defense policy. It was to him that Churchill had entrusted the secrets of Britain’s nuclear policy during both his wartime and peacetime Premierships.

[Churchill] went to Oxford for Cherwell’s funeral. “As he came up the aisle of Christ Church Cathedral,” one of the mourners later recalled, “the congregation rose spontaneously to their feet. After the service he drove to the cemetery. He walked in procession up the cemetery path. He walked beyond the path, advancing over the difficult tufts of grass, with unfaltering but aging steps, onward to the graveside of his dear old friend.”
Later that year Churchill completed the fourth and final volume of his war memoirs. He died eight years later on January 24, 1965, following a massive stroke two weeks earlier.
Martin Gilbert,
Churchill: A Life. (pgs. 961-952)

Best Political Parody Of The Season

Here's Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit - - -

BACK IN 2004, MOVEON MADE A POLITICAL SPOT about how Bush was saddling our kids with too much debt. The folks at RedState have updated it for 2009. Best political parody of the season.

Scoundrel Dodd’s Poll Numbers Tank

At RealClearPolitics - - -

A new Quinnipiac poll in Connecticut finds Sen. Chris Dodd (D) trailing three potential Republican challengers, including former Rep. Rob Simmons, who leads Dodd by 16 points (March 26-31, 1181 RV, MoE +/- 2.9%).

Just 58% of Democrats back Dodd against Simmons, while Simmons wins the support of 87% of Republicans.

Dodd faces dismal approval ratings: 33% approve and 58% disapprove of Dodd's handling of his job. Plus, a quarter of voters say Dodd is most to blame for the AIG bonuses.

“A 33 percent job approval is unheard of for a 30-year incumbent, especially a Democrat in a blue state," said Quinnipiac pollster Doug Schwartz. "Sen. Christopher Dodd's numbers among Democrats are especially devastating."

The rest of RCP's post’s here.

I’ve read Quinnipiac’s report which includes this:

"The generic numbers are even worse for Dodd than the specific matchup numbers, with only a third saying they probably or definitely will vote for Dodd compared to 59 percent saying they definitely or probably won't vote for him," Dr. Schwartz added.
I’ve got my finger’s crossed Connecticut voters throw the scoundrel out.

The Soros Doctrine In Obama's Foreign Policy

Kyle-Anne Shiver at American Thinker (excerpts) - - -

... [A]ny careful observer would be inclined to make special note of [George] Soros' ever-present insistence that American foreign policy be formulated in a way that puts international objectives ahead of U.S. objectives. Soros expects the U.S. to subjugate herself to what he believes will help the whole world, not merely us and our interests.

So, what doctrines does Soros specifically advocate?

1) - - - The United States should use its position of financial and military might to "lead a cooperative effort to improve the world by engaging in preventive actions of a constructive character."

2) - - - The United States should increase foreign aid to all who need it. Soros believes that by giving grants, as opposed to loans, to developing countries, we make friends and give people what they need, thereby decreasing the incentives for making war against us.

3)- - - Terrorists have always been with us, Soros insists, and terrorism requires "police action," not wars based upon "imperialist intentions."

4) - - - Only an international body (such as the U.N.) can solve the problem of terrorism as it is an inherently international problem.

5) - - - The Bush Doctrine of holding host nations responsible for their support and protection of terrorist entities shuts down the necessary diplomatic channels, which would otherwise lead to joint solutions.

The bottom line is that George Soros is an internationalist; he always has been. (all emphases added) He has even said that the only thing the U.S. does for him is issue his passport, which is itself an obsolete instrument of the even more obsolete nation-state concept.

Soros Doctrines and President Obama

President Obama's Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has begged the Chinese to support our debt, while sloughing off human rights abuses by the communist regime and has praised the environmental efforts of our Mexican neighbor, while making no mention of the flood of Mexican illegal immigrants invading our southern borders.

Madame Clinton has finger-wagged our Israeli allies, while securing $900 million in American aid to the beleaguered Palestinians (read Hamas) while there are no demands on them to stop firing rockets into Israel. Madame Clinton has additionally pledged a $200 million scholarship fund for Palestinians.

Buying friends is a staple of Soros foreign policy. Greased palms, he seems to believe, provide a great deal of "cooperation."

Candidate Obama echoed this view in his Berlin citizen-of-the-world address, stating,

"Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity."

Adhering to Soros doctrine again, President Obama has declared that the United States is no longer engaged in a "Global War on Terror." We are now conducting "overseas contingency operations."

For seven long years, George Soros vociferously attacked Bush for declaring war on terrorism, calling the Global War on Terror a "false metaphor," which inevitably resulted in catastrophic civilian casualties, in turn creating more terrorists for the future.

In addition, Obama has echoed Soros' objection to Gitmo and has declared that it will be closed within the year.

Obama seeks to revert to the failed Clinton policy of treating terrorism as an international policing problem, and plans to rely on the Soros doctrines of cooperation, international law and law enforcement actions that do not use military force except for police functions.

Interestingly, President Obama's intention to deploy 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan falls into what Soros counts as a police function.

The original intention of Operation Enduring Freedom (War in Afghanistan) was to capture Osama bin Laden, destroy al-Qaeda, and remove the Taliban regime which had provided support and safe harbor to al-Qaeda.

If bin Laden is ever captured, then presumably the Afghan "contingency operation" will end and President Obama will work out a peace accord with the "moderates" of the Taliban, as Pakistan has done.

When President Obama announced last week his intention to add 4,000 troops to the earlier declared 17,000 additional forces to Afghanistan, he added that he intends to garner Congressional approval for a $15 billion aid package for Pakistan. The $15 billion for Pakistan's leaders will most likely be approved, in spite of our own intelligence evidence, which concludes the Pakistan government is using our money to finance the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Taliban is killing U.S. soldiers, using our own money, funneled through the middleman, Pakistan. ...

Shiver's entire article's here. It's a "don't miss."

Hat tip: Mike Williams

CEO Reaps Millions As McClatchy Implodes

In less than five years under the leadership of CEO Gary Pruitt, the McClatchy newspaper chain, which owns the liberal/leftist Raleigh News & Observer, has seen its stock price fall from more than $75 a share to penny stock status.

McClatchy’s bonds have “junk” ratings. The company’s been downsizing its newspapers, letting employees go by the hundreds, and cutting the pay of those who remain as well as forcing them to take unpaid “furloughs.”

And how’s CEO Pruitt doing?

McClatchy Watch reports yesterday, April 1 - - -

This is no joke -- even though McClatchy's share price has fallen by 95 percent over the past year, the board rewarded Gary Pruitt by paying him $2.7 million in 2008. …

Be sure to read the rest of the post which includes Pruitt’s compensation totals for 2006 and 2007. And don’t miss the comments.

Duke Trustee & Her Son Leaving Brodhead's Office?

Not really. See the Daily Mail's photo caption.

'Cool mum, free drinks!'

David Miliband and Hilary Clinton looked like a mother and son on a University visit

Folks, think what you will about Obama and Brown, at least Hillary and Britain's Foreign Secretary seem to have established a special relationship.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Churchill Series - Apr. 1, 2009

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

When someone mentions the Churchill- Roosevelt relationship we assume the person is referring to the two great Allied war leaders. But in today’s post, when we talk about Churchill and Roosevelt, we’ll be talking about Winston and Eleanor. Did you know they had a little spat at a London dinner in October, 1942?

Mrs. Roosevelt was in England for a goodwill visit. She made the usual visits to factories and training facilities and met the people who needed to be met. The trip was a great success except for the little spat. Jon Meacham, author of
Winston and Franklin: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship, tells us about it:

At a small diner in London, Eleanor and Churchill exchanged words over Loyalist Spain. “I remarked that I could not see why the Loyalist government could not have been helped, and the prime minister replied that he and I would have been the first to lose our heads if the Loyalists had won – the feeling against people like us would have spread,” Mrs. Roosevelt recalled.

[She continued]: “I said that losing my head was unimportant, whereupon he said: ‘I don’t want you to lose your head and neither do I want to lose mine.’

Then Mrs. Churchill leaned across the table and said: ‘I think perhaps Mrs. Roosevelt is right.’

The prime minister was quite annoyed by this time and said: ‘I have held certain beliefs for sixty years and I’m not going to change now’” (p. 200)
Meacham goes on to say Eleanor Roosevelt’s friends thought Churchill “hopeless.”

Eleanor Roosevelt and Winston Churchill’s relationship was one of mutual respect but no great affection. Many factors explain that. For one thing, Churchill had a wonderful sense of humor which bubbled even in the worst of times. Eleanor was almost humorless. In my experience, a humorless person always finds someone like Churchill a strain.

Also, Eleanor disapproved of Churchill’s enjoyment of alcohol. Her father and brother were both alcoholics whose lives were cut short by their drinking.

Your U.S. Auto Repair Company

I think it will be as efficient as the Postal Service and as customer-friendly as the I.R.S.

The folks at Reason TV agree. Take a look.

A Rare Smile About President Brodhead

With one exception, I can’t think of anything Duke’s President Richard Brodhead’s said or done that’s caused me to smile.

The exception occurred in Oct. 2006 on 60 Minutes when Brodhead attempted to excuse himself for his disgraceful actions and inactions in response to Mangum's and Nifiong’s lies and the terrible events they set in motion.

Remember Brodhead's whiny explanation to Bradley that he found himself in a confusing time in which “the facts kept changing?”

Could you do anything but smile, even laugh?

And until today I can’t think of anything anyone's said or written about Brodhead, supportive or critical, that’s caused me to smile.

But today when I visited Liestoppers Meeting I saw where abb had pasted in my post of yesterday In Ekstrand Suit, Court Consolidates Motions To Dismiss. (Thanks, abb)

Then further down the comment thread I saw that a commenter, Payback, had replicated part of my post and added his comment which made me smile. I hope it makes you smile, too.

The portion of my post is in italics; Payback’s comment’s in plain and bold.

If you’ve read attorney Ekstrand’s original and amended filings, you know he’s presented the court with an extraordinary amount of information regarding actions and inactions of the defendants.

The information is from witnesses and documents that directly refute claims made by various defendants to justify their actions and/or inactions.

For example, defendant Richard Brodhead, Duke president, claimed the Duke University Police Department had no authority to investigate the charges of false accuser Crystal Mangum; the authority rested with the Durham Police, Brodhead stated.

Ekstrand has provided the court with a copy of an agreement signed by representatives of Duke University and Durham City that directly contradicts what Brodhead claimed. The agreement was in force at the time Mangum made her false charges.

It sounds almost as if Ekstrand thinks that Richard Brodhead lied about something. Is it possible?

Team Obama’s UK Press Kit’s A Laugh/Groan

The Daily Telegraph’s US editor Tony Harnden begins - - -

So here's what the White House is telling American reporters - and by extension the American people - about Britain.

It's laid out in an inch-thick "press kit", with the Seal of the President of the United States emblazoned on the cover, handed out to each of us on board the White House press charter en route from Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington to Stansted.

The United Kingdom, we are told, is "slightly smaller than Oregon".

As for the the British climate, it is "generally mild and temperate" and "subject to frequent changes but few extremes of temperature".

A "group of islands close to continental Europe", Britain has been "subject to many invasions and migrations".

We're taken through the Roman invasion ("brought more active contacts with the rest of Europe"), the Norman invasion (led to "active involvement in European affairs...for several hundred years") and various travails with the Welsh, Scots and Irish before the British empire reached its zenith in Victorian times.

Then it all started to go wrong. "The losses and destruction of World War I, the depression of the 1930s, and decades of relatively slow growth eroded the United Kingdom's preeminent international position of the previous century".

Those fretting about the demise of the term "special relationship" might not be reassured by this briefing book.

There's talk of a "strong bilateral relationship", of the UK being "one of the United States' closest allies" and of "close coordination" and "bilateral cooperation" between two countries who "continually consult on foreign policy". Everything except "special".

After the country sections, we're introduced to the personalities, with information mainly culled from their websites.

Queen Elizabeth "enrolled as a girl Guide when she was eleven, and later became a Sea Ranger", we are informed. During the war she "put on pantomimes with the children of members of staff for the enjoyment of her family and employees of the Royal Household".

Folks, you can read, laugh and groan at the rest of Harnden’s column here.

Among the comments, my favorite is from a reader who IDs as a British ex-pat living in America:

A fact sheet probably written by a couple of goggling twits in a back room of the WH who have never traveled further than Tijuana for the benefit of a press corps that has almost certainly traveled extensively in the course of their work. Priceless.'s a thought. Maybe it was originally written for Obama: "Your Majesty, I understand you were a Girl Guide..."

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Churchill Series - Mar. 31, 2009

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

In 1876 Lord Randolph Churchill was appointed Private Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, his father. Two year old Winston Churchill accompanied his parents to Dublin where the Churchills would live for the next for years. Young Churchill’s nurse, Mrs. Elizabeth Ann Everest, accompanied him to Ireland.

We learn, courtesy of the Churchill Centre, a few things about Winnie, as family members often called him, from a letter of his mother's and his granddaughter's commentary.

A letter from his mother described life in Dublin with her young son: "Winston is flourishing tho rather X the last 2 days more teeth I think. Everest has been bothering me about some clothes for him saying that it was quite a disgrace how few things he had & how shabby at that."

Churchill's granddaughter, Celia Sandys, offers this portrait: "Winston had arrived in Dublin a month after his second birthday dressed, as was the fashion, like a girl. At that time children were dressed alike, making boys and girls indistinguishable one from the other, for the first few years of their lives."
Randolph and Jennie Churchill were neglectful parents; and their neglect of a son who loved them constituted more than harshness. It amounted to a cruelty.

I often wonder how Churchill would have turned our if Mrs. Everest hadn't been there from right after his birth until he was a young man. She was to him and his younger brother John (Jack) everything a loving parent should be.

Everest never married. The Mrs. before her name reflects the custom at the time to call nurses Mrs. even if they were unmarried.

Also, you may have seen her middle name spelled “Anne.” That’s how it’s usually spelled. But the Churchill Archives at Churchill College, Cambridge University give it as “Ann” so that’s what I use.

In Ekstrand Suit, Court Consolidates Motions To Dismiss

If you’re not familiar with what is often called “the Ekstrand suit,” I encourage you to take a look at this post.

Yesterday, Judge Beaty issued an order consolidating into one motion to dismiss separate motions to dismiss filed by various individuals and groups of defendants.

Beaty’s consolidation order, available in full here, includes the following:

All of these pending motions have now been fully briefed and referred to the Court for

Having undertaken a preliminary review of these matters, the Court notes that all of the Motions to Dismiss involve overlapping legal issues best addressed by the Court in a single determination that addresses all of the issues raised by the various Defendants.

Therefore, the Court enters this preliminary Order for administrative purposes to consolidate all of the pending Motions to Dismiss into a single Motion to Dismiss for determination by the Court.

The Court will consider the arguments raised by the parties in their respective briefs as part of the consolidated determination.
Bear in mind I’m not an attorney.

That said, I offer the following commentary:

Beaty’s motion is for certain a procedural one that allows him to address in one ruling identical dismissal claims made by multiple defendants. It should also allow him to deal in a more organized and precise way with dismissal arguments that are distinct but not entirely unrelated.

Beaty will take great care with his dismissal rulings. First, because as attorneys have told me, he’s a conscientious judge. There’s also the importance of the suit growing out of events which generated national and international attention, and led to the disbarment of a North Carolina district attorney, an action unprecedented in the state’s history.

Something else, Judge Beaty must know however he rules, there will almost certainly be appeals of his rulings.

Everything taken together, Beaty will work hard to,IMO, issue rulings that are very carefully reasoned based on relevant law and court rulings.

Final point: Keep in mind that as Beaty weighs dismissal arguments, he must also grant to the plaintiffs the presumption that what they claim in their filings is true.

If you’ve read attorney Ekstrand’s original and amended filings, you know he’s presented the court with an extraordinary amount of information regarding actions and inactions of the defendants.

The information is from witnesses and documents that directly refute claims made by various defendants to justify their actions and/or inactions.

For example, defendant Richard Brodhead, Duke president, claimed the Duke University Police Department had no authority to investigate the charges of false accuser Crystal Mangum; the authority rested with the Durham Police, Brodhead stated.

Ekstrand has provided the court with a copy of an agreement signed by representatives of Duke University and Durham City that directly contradicts what Brodhead claimed. The agreement was in force at the time Mangum made her false charges.

All in all, I think it’s a safe bet that as Judge Beaty looks at Ekstrand’s complaint filing and the defendants’ dismissal motions, he’ll find that at least most of what Ekstrand has alleged on the plaintiff’s behalf needs to be the subject of discovery proceedings.

What do you think?

Hat tip: sdsgo at Liestoppers Meeting

Brodhead Can’t Escape His “Marley Problem”

Yesterday The Chronicle published Duke President Richard Brodhead’s eloquent appreciation of the late Duke Professor John Hope Franklin, whose life and scholarship contributed so much to informing his fellow citizens and making America a more inclusive and just country.

While I’m sure Brodhead meant his remarks only as a tribute to Franklin, they inevitably caused many people to reflect on Brodhead and his leadership, particularly when he mentioned the “exclusion, discrimination, and physical menace” Franklin faced as an undergraduate at Fisk University.

On the comment thread of Brodhead’s tribute, John Steed directly addressed Duke's President:

Thank you for your eloquent and timely tribute to John Hope Franklin. I am pleased to see you using the Chronicle's "Guest Commentary" section to share your views, and those of your administration, with the Duke community.

Last week saw the third anniversary of the Potbangers' Rally, a demonstration which included (among other outrages) the raising of banners reading "Castrate!!", "Confess!" and "Give Them Equal Measure," and the distribution of vigilante posters, all directed at falsely-accused Duke students.

Next month will feature the anniversary of the "Listening Ad" in which 88 Duke faculty members and 15 departments and programs applauded the demonstrators and thanked them for "not waiting."

Perhaps this might be an opportune time for you to write a guest commentary in the Chronicle reflecting on those events and explaining to the Duke community, with the benefit of three years hindsight, why your administration acted (or refrained from acting) as it did and whether it has learned anything from the episode.
And in an email a friend said (excerpts):
… Dr. Franklin, to his credit, showed good judgment and compassion by not mentioning the lacrosse incident in his [2006 commencement address].

But now to Brodhead who, unlike Franklin, used his very influential position to evoke the passions of racism and dangerously prejudice the case against the lacrosse players.

Below are some excerpts from Brodhead's April 5, 2006 letter to the Duke Community which was issued concurrently with his firing the coach and canceling the season.

At the beginning of the letter Brodhead says,
" Rape is the substitution of raw power for love, brutality for tenderness and dehumanization for intimacy.

"It is also the crudest assertion of inequality, a way to show that the strong are superior to the weak and can rightfully use them as objects of their pleasure.

"When reports of racial abuse are added to the mix, the evil is compounded, reviving memories of the systematic racial suppression we had hoped to have left behind us."

Brodhead goes on with this type of passionate and inflammatory language for four more paragraphs. …
What Steed and my friend’s comments (and those of others I’ve heard from) brought to mind was what in an April 2008 post I called Brodhead’s “Marley problem:”
In Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Jacob Marley's ghost warns his old partner Ebenezer Scrooge to repent lest he suffer Marley’s fate of carrying “the chains forged in life” through eternity.

Richard Brodhead will always carry “the chains” he forged when he abandoned the Duke lacrosse team.
I ended the post with:
Duke needs a new President.
That was true in April 2008 and it’s true today.

The Trustees need to act.

Here’s Some Excellent Political Satire

from Scott Ott at - - -

Just hours after firing General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner for mismanaging the giant firm which has thus far received $26 billion in taxpayer cash to stay afloat, President Barack Obama announced that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into similar allegations.

"We cannot give the appearance of using tax dollars to reward leaders who have done a poor job," said Obama. "The message is clear. If you take billions from the taxpayers you answer to a new boss -- the chief executive. In November, I inherited a failed banking system, a failed auto industry and a failed Congress. Americans demand action. Heads will continue to roll."

The president said Reid and Pelosi have "overseen an unprecedented spending binge, while some of their major brands have nearly collapsed through mismanagement, malfeasance and plain old stupidity."

"Their insurance products -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- are actually elaborate Ponzi schemes," he said, "paying early investors with cash from later investors without creating an ongoing insurance fund. Bernie Madoff is behind bars for doing the same thing."

The rest of Ott’s satirical piece is here.

I smiled at everything Ott wrote
except the last graf you see here about the federal government’s “insurance products” being nothing more than “elaborate Ponzi schemes.”

That’s so true, it’s painful.

Too bad almost all our newspaper editorial writers avoid reminding us they’re Ponzi schemes.

And what’s worse, most editorial writers encourage the public to invest through tax payments more heavily in those government Ponzi schemes, just as Madoff encouraged people to invest in his Ponzi scheme.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Churchill Series - Mar. 30, 2009

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

The following news story is found in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph under the headlines:

Winston Churchill had whiskey and a cigar with breakfast

Winston Churchill wrote his own breakfast menu which included whiskey and a cigar while on his last flight to the USA as Prime Minister

The story begins - - -

While on the BOAC flight in June 1954 the plane's menu was not good enough for the Prime Minister so he wrote one out himself.

He requested his meal be brought on two trays.

He lists in his own hand: "1st Tray. Poached egg, Toast, Jam, Butter, Coffee and milk, Jug of cold milk, Cold Chicken or Meat.

"2nd Tray. Grapefruit, Sugar Bowl, Glass orange squash (ice), Whisky soda." He then adds: "Wash hands, cigar."

At first he had tried to amend the printed menu, but in the end wrote out his own on the other side.

With his Foreign Secretary Sir Anthony Eden at his side, the visit to the US was made at the height of the Cold War and his last to the US as Prime Minister.

The menu was kept by the air steward and the item is being sold along with press cuttings from the trip.

Richard Westwood-Brookes, who is selling it, said: "This is one of the most remarkable pieces of Churchill memorabilia we have seen.

"It shows what a hearty breakfast he ate and it was all washed down with a whisky, after which he smoked a cigar.

"It is the type of indulgence we've come to associate with Churchill and it reassuring to know he ate so well in his 80th year."

He added: "There are some smudges and ink stains but it is a wonderful piece of history."

The menu is expected to fetch up to 1,500 pounds when it is sold at Mullock's auctioneers in Ludlow Shropshire on St George's Day.

Another Blogger Responds To N&O Publisher’s Letter

This morning I posted Questioning The N&O’s Publisher About His Open Letter.

Dan Gearino, a former N&O columnist and business editor, also posted in response to publisher Orage Quarles’ letter.

Here’s some of what Gearino said:

This last paragraph is perhaps the most revealing of all.

At a moment when everyone agrees that the newspaper industry’s biggest handicap is its failure to smartly adapt to the digital age, Quarles promises only that the N&O will still “be in your driveway.”

In fact, online readers can’t even find Quarles’ remarks on the N&O’s site — which is why I couldn’t link to them here.

He doesn’t seem to realize that, in fact, the driveway is a graveyard. It’s where newspapers eventually will die, not thrive, as technology pushes relentlessly forward.
Gearino’s entire post's here. I hope you give it a look.

Obama’s Fulfilling At Least One Campaign Promise

Here’s another example of President Obama fulfilling his campaign promise to bring people of diverse political backgrounds together.

From ABC News - - -

European Union chief Mirek Topolanek, the recently ousted leader of the Czech Republic, calls the plan the Obama administration has been pushing "a way to hell."

Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel is also a skeptic.

"We must look at the causes of this crisis," she said. "It happened because we were living beyond our means. ... We cannot repeat this mistake."

That sounds a lot like Obama's Republican critics at home. …

The entire story’s here.

Questioning The N&O Publisher About His Open Letter

If you’re a Raleigh News & Observer print reader who Sunday, Mar. 29, looked at page 12A and then glanced at the facing page, you saw that entire page contained “An open letter to our readers”

The open letter from Orage Quarles, III, N&O President & Publisher is nowhere I could find at the N&O’s online site,; nor is it linked or even mentioned at the N&O’s Editors’ Blog.

For those who aren’t N&O print readers, I’ve typed some of what Quarles told readers and followed that with a copy of an email I’ve just sent him.

Saying he wanted to “set the record straight,” Quarles told N&O readers:

First and foremost, The N&O is a profitable enterprise that is not about to go out of business. In fact, more people depend on us now than ever in our history. Our print and online readership grew last year, and our combined audience keeps setting records.

Every single day, more then 400, 000 adults read The N&O in print ( more than 500,000 on Sundays) and another 85,000 read us online.

Each month, more than 1.8 million unique visitors come to our Web sites, and in just one day this week, we ha more than 1.5 million page views on our site. …
My email to Quarles:

Orage Quarles, President & Publisher
The Raleigh News & Observer

Dear Mr. Quarles:

I can’t find your open letter of March 29 anywhere at or the Editors’ Blog. Did I miss its online publication?

If so, please let me know where it is and I’ll inform JinC readers.

If your letter’s not online, why isn’t it?

With your letter online and an opportunity for readers to comment, you could engage us and respond to our questions and concerns in an “open forum” all could view.

For example:

You say that “[e]very single day, more than 400, 000 adults read The N&O in print[.]”

But you don’t say how you arrived at that number or how it compares with the number of print readers The N&O claimed 5 and 10 years ago.

According to a McClatchy publication chart posted at McClatchy Watch, N&O print circulation in 1998 was, rounded to the nearest thousand, 208, 000 (Sunday) and 164,000 (weekday).

The Audit Bureau of Circulations recent N&O print circulation numbers are about the same or lower than those McClatchy claimed in 1998.

That circulation flat-lining has occurred while population in The N&O’s circulation area has boomed. The US Census Bureau estimates that in Wake County alone between 2000 and 2008 population grew by more than 200,000.

Yet your letter doesn’t discuss long-term factors impacting print circulation and the ad revenues it generates. Instead you express the hope “that this recession is slowing, and that better days will come sooner rather than later.”

You say The N&O is still profitable but you don’t say whether that’s mainly, or even entirely, because of the frequent employee buyouts and layoffs The N&O’s engaged in the past few years and all the outsourcing you’ve done.

You make no mention of how the financial problems of The N&O’s parent McClatchy Company are impacting the paper.

Many people say McClatchy’s problems are one of the principal reasons for The N&O’s cuts in staff and the elimination or melding of entire sections of the newspaper with an attendant and obvious loss in the breath and depth of the paper’s coverage.

I look forward to your response. As in the past, I'll post your response in full at my blog.


John in Carolina

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Remember When “European Leaders”

were, we were told, all “gah-gah” over Senator Obama and panting to see him elected President?

Now in a
Guardian story about this week's G-20 meeting in London we read:

European leaders are worried that Obama's huge public spending programmes could fuel hyperinflation and leave Europe struggling to refinance colossal levels of state debt if they followed suit.
The entire story’s here.

Obama promised to end “the politics of division.”

But who knew last Fall that he’d bring Europe’s mostly center-left leaders and America’s thoughtful conservatives and independents together in apprehension over what Team Obama’s planning?

Duke BOT Vice Chair Wagoner Out As GM CEO

The AP reports - - -

General Motors Corp. Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner will step down immediately at the request of the White House, administration officials said Sunday.

The news comes as President Obama prepares to unveil additional restructuring efforts designed to save the domestic auto industry.

The officials asked not to be identified because details of the restructuring plan have not yet been made public. On Monday, Obama is to announce plans to restructure GM and Chrysler LLC in exchange for additional government loans. The companies have been living on $17.4 billion in government aid and have requested $21.6 billion more.

Wagoner's departure indicates that more management changes may be part of the deal.

Wagoner, 56, has repeatedly said he felt it was better for the company if he led it through the crisis, but he has faced sharp criticism on Capitol Hill for what many lawmakers regard as years of missteps, mistakes and arrogance by the Big Three automakers.

Wagoner joined GM in 1977, serving in several capacities in the U.S., Brazil and Europe. He became president and chief executive in 2000 and has served as chairman and CEO since May 2003.

The rest of the AP’s story’s here.

Nathan Bomey at Michigan Business Review comments:

The exodus of Rick Wagoner from General Motors marks a momentous moment for the automaker's most emphatic critics - many of whom have called for his resignation for years.

But it won't necessarily save the company. Ultimately, GM's survival is more dependent on the ability of the company's negotiators to land meaningful concessions from the UAW and GM bondholders - or the company's ability to navigate government-backed bankruptcy restructuring….

Wagoner's departure will surely invite a multitude of assumptions and accusations about his motives. Is Wagoner the notorious ship captain who rows away while the boat is sinking?

Not my call. In his defense, perhaps he believes someone else is better suited to steer GM through this crisis.

But let's be honest. Even if GM survives - which seems likely, even if bankruptcy is involved - Wagoner's legacy will be defined by GM's fall from grace.

The company - once the world leader in vehicle production - failed to embrace alternative propulsion vehicles as Japanese rivals Toyota and Honda established themselves as the leaders in that critical segment. …

Wagoner, ultimately, was not the executive to steer GM through the end of this crisis. ...

Bomey’s entire commentary’s here.

Wagoner currently serves as one of two vice chairs (Dan Blue's the other) of Duke University’s board of trustees. See here for a list of Duke’s current trustees. Click of Wagoner’s name for a profile dated Oct. 2008.

Wagoner is one of
Duke’s most powerful trustees.

He serves on the trustee executive committee which acts on the BOT’s behalf between its 4 meetings per year.

Wagoner is very close to current BOT chair Robert Steel.

In 2003 Steel, then a BOT vice chair, headed the search committee that recommended then Yale dean Richard Brodhead for the Duke presidency. Wagoner was a member of the search committee.

Steel is often cited as the chief architect of Duke’s disgraceful “throw the students under the bus” response to the lies of false accuser Crystal Mangum and the now disbarred Mike Nifong.

Wagoner’s role in shaping Duke’s response to those lies and the howls of the Raleigh N&O and some Duke faculty has received less attention.

However, it’s hard to believe he was anything but hip-and-thigh with his friend Steel in deciding on Duke's actions and inactions which have stained the university's reputation and embroiled it in numerous lawsuits, with more very likely still to come.

Yet there’s been much talk in the Duke community this past year of Wagoner succeeding Steel when Steel’s term as chair expires at the end of June.

Today’s resignation will surely dampen that talk and, I hope, preclude Wagoner’s moving up to BOT chair.

Final note for those who appreciate irony: While searching The Chronicle archives for this post the earliest mention of Wagoner I found was in a Nov. 1994 story headed:

GM executive talks to Fuqua about company turnaround
Hat tip: Someone who stands up for Duke.

Three Years Ago Today: The “Hooligans” Story

A March 29, 2006 Raleigh News & Observer story headlined:

Duke puts lacrosse games on hold

Duke's president announces the suspension by saying it's not time to play
included the following:
"I would like to think that somebody who was not in the bathroom has the human decency to call up and say, 'What am I doing covering up for a bunch of hooligans?' " Nifong said. "I'd like to be able to think that there were some people in that house that were not involved in this and were as horrified by it as the rest of us are."
The entire story’s here.

During the five days before it published the “hooligans” story, the N&O’s barrage of biased, racially inflammatory and sometimes deliberately fraudulent Duke lacrosse coverage led many people to view the players as a bunch of drunken, racist, privileged Duke students, three of whom were guilty of gang rape and other crimes which their teammates were helping cover-up by stonewalling the police.

Just the day before the “hooligans” story ran, an N&O editorial praised the woman for her “courage” in coming forward while on its front page the N&O published the “priors” story listing the names of 15 of the players and the prior charges for minor offenses brought against them.

Little wonder then that many people thought Nifong was understating when he called the players “hooligans.”

Looking back three year, it’s clear Nifong and the N&O with their smearing of the lacrosse players set in motion a lose, lose, lose situation.

Each Duke student on the lacrosse team will bear an undeserved stigma no matter how decent his life may be.

Nifong wound up being disbarred and jailed for a day as a result of his shameless and reckless pursuit of a frame-up. The State Bar charges that served as the basis for his disbarment included as specific reference to his “hooligans” statement.

The N&O’s reputation has suffered because of its lacrosse coverage. It will surely suffer even more if, as seems very likely, there’s discovery in the suits brought by the lacrosse players and that discovery is made public.

I can think of only one positive outcome involving the use of “hooligans.”

In a spirit of proud opposition to Nifong, those who worked the frame-up attempt with him, and their enablers at Duke and elsewhere, a group has taken on the name Hooligans. The group includes people who have done some of the best Duke lacrosse case reporting and commentary.

If you don’t already know about The Hooligans, you can “meet” many of them at Liestoppers Meeting.

On AfPak It's Obama vs. Obama

Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette - - -

"The President's plan" for Pakistan and Afghanistan (I think it's important that its established order of priority is maintained - and not only because I concur with it) will be tough to implement without the support of all involved - that's obvious. Loyal, thoughtful, and constructive opposition is expected, but certainly not from some quarters where it's already beginning to appear.

From the plan:

The United States must overcome the 'trust deficit' it faces in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where many believe that we are not a reliable long-term partner. We must engage the Afghan people in ways that demonstrate our commitment to promoting a legitimate and capable Afghan government with economic progress. We must engage the Pakistani people based on our long-term commitment to helping them build a stable economy, a stronger democracy, and a vibrant civil society.
Which makes you wonder if this guy read it:
WASHINGTON — The United States must look for a way out of the war in Afghanistan, President Obama said, in a signal that the military build-up in Afghanistan will not be open-ended and will lead to the eventual withdrawal of American and NATO troops from the country.

“There’s got to be an exit strategy,” Mr. Obama said in a wide-ranging interview shown Sunday on “60 Minutes” on CBS.

That second story is from earlier this week.

Why must Americans be forced to choose sides, as those who've decided to support President Obama will soon be forced to confront those who are equally determined to support President Obama instead?

Is there no middle ground? Can't we all just get along?

Great post, Greyhawk.

BTW - Mudville Gazette is one of the best mil blogs.

Hat tip: AC

Comments re:" N&O Still Stonewalling ..." (Post 1)

I want to respond to comments on the thread of N&O Still Stonewalling On Mar. 25, 2006 Duke Frame Story.

Comments or parts thereof are in italics; my responses are in plain.

Anon @ 9:22 - - -

The N&O's strategy of stonewalling has apparently paid off, however — no consequences for a journalistic travesty, for libeling the three falsely accused players or for casting the entire team in a false light.

You're right. There have been no legal consequences so far and I don’t think such are likely in the future.

That’s not to say I don’t think the N&O libeled the lacrosse players; it’s just to describe things as they are and how I think they’ll play out in the future.

But the N&O has paid “a price.” Many readers and advertisers think the less of it because of its Duke lacrosse coverage despite praise extended to the N&O in books such as
Until Proven Innocent, in the American Journalism Review, at Durham-in-Wonderland and by the N&O’s editors themselves.

If as I expect there is discovery in the civil suits brought by victims of the Duke/Durham hoax and frame-up attempt, what will be revealed during discovery will, as I’ve said here before, further hurt the N&O’s reputation and the reputations of a number of its reporters and editors, past and present.

Folks, if you believe NC AG Roy Cooper that there never was any credible evidence of a crime, then you have to answer a question.

It’s this: How was the N&O able over the course of four publications days (Mar. 24-27, 2006) to tell its readers and the world the same false story about “the victim” and the lacrosse players that Nifong told when he began speaking publicly about the case on the afternoon of Mar. 27?

What do journalists have to do to get a story so neatly lined up with Nifong's when there's no evidence for his story/frame-up?

Xutag77 said - - -

I think they get will not get off without consequences. They will be the next target of the players after the Duke case is settled.

Although the statue of limitations for filing a libel suit in NC (one year) has passed as far as when the N&O’s most false and defaming stories were published, there is something called “resetting the clock.”

The “resetting” can come into play, for example, if a person had no way of knowing he/she was being libeled at the time of publication. Or if, for example, a newspaper a few years after initial publication of a possibly libelous story republished extensive parts of it.

In those circumstances a court could rule the one year “clock” for filing a libel suit began running anew when the person learned of the story or when the newspaper republished it or substantial parts of it.

Something else could possibly lead to “resetting the clock.”

If as a result of discovery, the players learn of certain actions by the N&O that they knew nothing of; and if those actions could be construed as possibly deliberately malicious, the players and others might, attorneys tell me, have cause to bring an action against the N&O.

But the attorneys stress winning such an action would require “climbing a very steep hill” for many reasons.

The most important one is that our courts give newspapers considerable leeway as regards being held libel for what they publish.

Attorneys the past three years has told me that had an individual said or written the many falsehoods about the lacrosse players which the N&O published, that individual would’ve been a prime candidate for a slander suit for what was said and/or a libel suit for what was published.

I’ll post again Sundday responding to some other comments on the thread

I thank all of you who’ve commented.


Commenters Are Right About Thomas Sowell

In response to Sowell: The “Degeneration of Politics In Our Time” a number of commenters on- and offline noted what an outstanding pundit Thomas Sowell is. One commenter compared him to a wise grandfather at a family gathering who listens to the discussion and at a certain point speaks up, providing a spot on summary of the topic at hand.

I can think of no better example of that than his April 24, 2006 column, “Rape Accusations Against Duke Lacrosse Players: Law or Lynch Law?”

Sowell was one of the first print syndicated columnists to question what Nifong was doing.

Almost three years later I can’t find a single thing he got wrong in the column; and he sure had plenty right. Take a look and decide for yourself.

Here in full is Sowell’s April 24, 2006 column:

People who were not within 1,000 miles of Duke University have already taken sides in the case of a stripper who has accused Duke lacrosse players of rape. One TV talk show hostess went ballistic when a guest on her program raised questions about the stripper's version of what happened.

Apparently we dare not question accusations of rape when it involves the new sacred trinity of race, class, and gender.

Media irresponsibility is one thing. Irresponsibility by an agent of the law is something else -- and much more dangerous. Prosecutors are not just supposed to prosecute. They are supposed to prosecute the right people in the right way. In this case, prosecutor Michael Nifong has proceeded in the wrong way.

Having an accuser or a witness pick out the accused from a lineup is standard procedure. That procedure not only serves to identify someone to be charged with a crime, it also tests the credibility of the accuser or witness -- or it should, if the lineup is not stacked.

A lineup should include not only people suspected of a crime but also other people, so that it tests whether the accuser or witness can tell the difference, and is therefore credible. But the stripper who claimed to have been raped by members of the Duke lacrosse team was presented with a lineup consisting exclusively of photographs of members of the lacrosse team.

In other words, whoever she picked out had to be a lacrosse player and would be targeted, with no test whatever of her credibility, because there was no chance for her to pick out somebody who had no connection with the team or the university. Apparently District Attorney Nifong was no more wiling to test the accuser's credibility than was the TV talk show hostess who went ballistic, though credibility is often crucial in rape cases.

Mr. Nifong went public with his having DNA evidence collected.

Then, after the DNA failed to match that of the accused, the students were arrested anyway and their bail was set at $400,000 -- in a community where a youth accused of murder had bail set at $50,000.

When a prosecutor acts like he has made up his mind and doesn't want to be confused by the facts, that is when the spirit of the lynch mob has entered the legal system. When this happens on the eve of an election for the prosecutor, it looks even uglier.

If the young men accused of rape are in fact guilty, they need to be proved guilty because they are guilty, not because an election is coming up or there is racial hype in the media or a legally stacked deck.

More important, we need to know that the rule of law is there for all of us, regardless of who we are or who our accuser might be.

Even beyond this case, we are increasingly becoming a society in which some people are allowed to impose high costs on other people at little or no cost to themselves. This sets the stage for extortion, not only of money but also of legal plea-bargains extorted by ambitious prosecutors.

The stripper, for example, does not even pay the price of having her name known, while the names and pictures of the accused young men are all over the media. Even if they are acquitted, or the charges thrown out of court, this case will follow them and they will be under a cloud for the rest of their lives.

Mr. Nifong has said that he has a third person whom he may indict. If so, he has already demonstrated to that third person what he can do by disgracing the other two and putting a heavy financial burden on their families for bail and lawyers. If that third person cannot stand the disgrace or his family cannot afford the expense, that is leverage for getting him to say whatever the prosecutor wants him to say.

This case presents opportunities as well as pressures. Race hustlers are having a field day, including the inevitable Jesse Jackson.

A fellow stripper who was at the same party sees in this an opportunity -- in her own words -- to "spin this to my advantage."

The biggest opportunity that this case presents is for District Attorney Michael Nifong to win his election, even if the case falls apart later and the law is cheapened by all this.