Friday, June 30, 2006

Meet a hero

Michael Yon says it best:
Brad Kasal has been a Marine since he was eighteen. The story behind the famous photo taken by Lucian Read at the height of the battle for Falluja in November, 2004 has been told often and well in other forums, for the present purpose it suffices that in addition to injuries from using his body to shield another Marine from a grenade blast, he also got shot seven times. Despite bleeding from dozens of holes in his body, Brad Kasal never stopped fighting. For many, Lucian Read’s photo of Brad Kasal – pistol at the ready even as he was being helped from the building, but still with presence of mind to keep his finger off the trigger despite that he had nearly bled to death – is emblematic of the heart and fighting spirit of every United States Marine.
Read the rest over at his place.
Duke lacrosse

Two outstanding articles:

Robert KC Johnson
Roy Cooper's Silence
Ruth Marcus
Reasonable Doubt at Duke

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Augustus McCrae on Deadwood

I get the feeling that it's a provincial New Yorker's concept of what the West was like.

Robert Duvall talks about pizza, 'Sopranos,' Bush

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Duke lacrosse: the Washington Post spins for Nifong

Andrew Cohen, the Post's law columnist and CBS's Chief Legal Analyst defends DA Nifong the only way possible. He does not have facts, so he criticizes the media for bias and gullibility. (Gee, I thought only right-wingers did that.)

The Media Rush to Duke's Defense

There is no balanced coverage in the Duke case. There is just one defense-themed story after another.

As one example of this problem he sites the recent Newsweek story on the case and its description of the team response to the DNA dragnet which was based on one lawyer's (Bob Elkstrand) account. Here is Cohen:
Given that Elkstrand hardly is in a position to offer anything but his own spin, what is his self-serving, client-serving description doing leading off a lengthy news-analysis piece? No amount of "on-the-other-hand" attempts at objectivity by the magazine ("It is possible, almost three months later, that the players are maintaining a conspiracy of silence," the article continues after its love-fest with Elkstrand) makes up for the fact that the first impression of the long piece comes, uncontroverted, from the defense team.
That is true, but Cohen ignores critical facts that support Elkstrand's account and that are essential to understanding the new tone in the coverage. First, no player DNA was found on the accuser. Second, the team did not fight the broad DNA dragnet as they could have. Finally, all the players denied that any sex took place. Hence, they expected the DNA to exonerate them. Elkstrand may have waxed poetic, but his basic account is bolstered by other, verifiable information.

Cohen also flounders when he tries to describe the role Newsweek plays in the public discussion of the Duke case:
Of course, the story by Newsweek, which often sets the news agenda for the rest of the week, was widely imitated on cable television and in the blogosphere, where experts were happy to discuss what a disaster the prosecution was, what a fool Nifong was and how unjust it was that the charges hadn't already been dropped.
As anyone who has followed the case knows, Newsweek was playing catch-up. Cable news, newspapers, and bloggers had already reported and analyzed most of the elements in Newsweeks story. It is possible that Cohen really believes that newsmagazines still "set the news agenda" for cable, bloggers and others. Or it is possible that he simply wanted to discredit those other media by dismissing them as derivative. In either case his assertion understates just how weak the prosecutor's case is. The questions did not arise because a lawyer spun Newsweek. A host of independent reporters and bloggers have found one flaw after another in the case and news coverage.

Moreover, Cohen does not discuss Newsweek's first big story on the case which was pro-prosecution, anti-lacrosse team, AND FILLED WITH UNTRUTHS. Part of the reason Newsweek needed to do this new story was that they had reported bad information the first time. They did so because they trusted Mike Nifgong and they got burned. (Date rape drug, etc.)

Cohen should work for Slate because this line is unworthy of the Washington Post:

The case against the players didn't publicly get weaker last week -- so far as I know -- but the appearance of the case did, which is precisely what defense attorneys wanted to occur in the court of public opinion as pretrial proceedings lead us either to a trial, a deal or a dismissal.
It is, however, a sentence worthy of an employee of Mary Mapes old haunts. The case got weaker because the defense found a new account from the accuser: this one had five rapists and four dancers. Even worse for Nofong, one of his ace investigators challenged this assertion at a defense press conference and ended up looking like a fool when Joe Cheshire released the relevant documents.

That is another point Cohen ignores. For all his posturing about "defense spin", the real problem for Nifong is the information found in his own documents. The police reports make the accuser look bad and no defense attorney has to say a word for people to see that. The DNA and medical tests are what they are. How can there be a brutal gang rape with no DNA transfer or severe injuries?

At the end, Cohen cuts to the chase. Nifong does not have a weak case. Oh, my no. This is all about race and class:

I suspect race and money and access to the media have a lot to do with it. I have often wondered how media coverage might be different -- how the cynical, skeptical skew would turn -- if the alleged victim in the case were white and the alleged defendants black.
That is where this whole mess started. Cohen underplays just how the vilified the players were in the beginning: rich, racist, jocks at a southern university abusing a poor, black single mother. He says nothing substantial about that earlier coverage. Now, however, he is appalled that the defense wants to rebut some of the most egregious errors.

Cohen also is very quiet about the political context for Nifong's actions. He is all in favor of letting it play out in court, but what if it is a political prosecution, a show trial so Nifong could win a primary election? I guess he thinks that those are the breaks. What is a bankrupt family or two? Small price to pay so Andrew Cohen does not have to think while he grinds out columns and stories for the Post and CBS.
Slate and Scalia

Althouse has a good post on Lithwick's latest embarrassing effort. Here's the payoff:
She's writing for Slate, and Slate readers are sure to love a "Scalia's ca-ray-zee" rant. Are they going to check the Scaliatext or go about their busy lives feeling one notch more certain that Scalia's a wacko?
First four words that come to mind when Slate is mentioned:

Clever, dismissive, superficial, knowing.

I don't mean any of them in a good way.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Michael Barone's unasked question

This column is mostly Times-bashing. (Albeit Times-bashing of a high-order.)

The New York Times at War With America

Why do they hate us? Why does the Times print stories that put America more at risk of attack? They say that these surveillance programs are subject to abuse, but give no reason to believe that this concern is anything but theoretical. We have a press that is at war with an administration, while our country is at war against merciless enemies. The Times is acting like an adolescent kicking the shins of its parents, hoping to make them hurt while confident of remaining safe under their roof. But how safe will we remain when our protection depends on the Times?

Barone also makes the point that has been bugging me for some time:
The counterargument is that it is a dangerous business for the government to prosecute the press. But it certainly is in order to prosecute government officials who have abused their trust by disclosing secrets, especially when those disclosures have reduced the government's ability to keep us safe. And pursuit of those charges would probably require reporters to disclose the names of those sources. As the Times found out in the Judith Miller case, reporters who refuse to answer such questions can go to jail.
The unasked question is this:

"If the stakes are so high, why is this administration so slow to move against the public employees who are so quick to reveal our secrets."
Anheuser-Busch decides to mess with Texas

First a confession. There is a tiny little part of me that wishes i was from Texas. That might make a good future post but anyway, there it is. I also don't think i'm alone in that sentiment.

Scott Chaffin is the real thing and he has a post up about the new Bud Light ad-- part of their Forgotten men of Genius series. This time out A-B "salutes" Mr Way Too Proud of Texas Guy. Scott thinks he might qualify.

It's a funny ad but like all of the FMG spots it's "salute" is in the form of gentle mockery. That is par for the course for advertising aimed at non-metrosexual males-- people like Bud Light drinkers.

Watch any TV at all and you notice a sharp split between the portrayal of males and females in the commercials. The women drinking the crappy flavored instant coffee are slim, sophisticated, intelligent, and beautiful. The father in the cell phone ad is a pudgy doofus. The woman going to Home Depot is hyper-competent. Husbands who do home repair in ads are dolts who always screew up.

So where is the research that shows that mocking the customer is the best way to earn their loyalty?
Duke lacrosse: The News and Observer is still covering for Nifong.

Last week the Raleigh News and Observer ran an odd little story about the latest skirmish in the Duke lacrosse mockery of justice.

Lawyer says investigator ignored evidence

DURHAM -- A lawyer for an indicted Duke University lacrosse player fired off a letter today to an investigator for the Durham prosecutor's office, saying that the investigator must not have read the state's rape case file.

After a Thursday court appearance, Joseph B. Cheshire V, a lawyer for player Dave Evans, told reporters that a new batch of evidence contains a police report in which a woman who said she was raped at a team party told police she had been attacked by five men, and not three as authorities have said. Linwood Wilson, who coordinates the prosecutor's worthless check program and works as an investigator, interrupted Cheshire and asked to see the specific document that supports Cheshire's claims.

Today, Cheshire faxed a letter and page 1,304 of the discovery to Wilson.

"Since you are the District Attorney's Investigator, the press could have assumed -- falsely, as it turns out -- that you had actually read your file," Cheshire wrote
Careful readers of the N&O might understand the context of Cheshire's actions because the paper carried a story about the lawyer's press conference and Wilson's "question".

Defense gets load of new evidence

Defense lawyers have declined News & Observer requests for copies of the evidence, and Cheshire did not make them available Thursday. An investigator in Nifong's office called into question Cheshire's claims Thursday.

When Cheshire told reporters that the woman claimed five people attacked her, investigator Linwood Wilson asked Cheshire to show him that page in the evidence.

"You're welcome to come get it," Cheshire said.

"Yeah, I'd love to see it," Wilson said.

Wilson walked away, and Cheshire continued talking with reporters
Anyone who relies only on the News and Observer, however, is left in the dark about the nature of the exchange between Wilson and Cheshire and. Nor will they realize that Cheshire delivered another devastating blow to DA Nifong's case.

This story from WTVD provides more details on what happened outside the courthouse.

Attorneys Dispute Report in Duke Rape Case

A bitter exchange that started outside of the courtroom when Linwood Wilson, an investigator for the District Attorney's Office, interrupted a press conference by defense attorney, Joseph Cheshire.

The interruption came as Cheshire was referencing the discovery documents that indicate the accuser gave conflicting accounts of the alleged rape.

In affidavits filed by police, authorities said the accuser told police she was raped by three men at the March 13 team party where she was hired to perform as an exotic dancer with a second woman. District Attorney Mike Nifong won indictments against three players and has said they were the only ones implicated by the evidence.

After the exchange, Wilson told Eyewitness News that he personally read all 1814 pages of discovery documents and has not read that the alleged victim changed her version of the story.

Friday morning, Cheshire, who represents charged player David Evans, provided proof
So let's see what the N&O left out:

Nifong's investigator crashed the defense press conference and interrupted Cheshire.

That investigator lied to the press when he said he had read the whole file and that the accuser never changed her story.

The N&O also buried another critical piece of information: the accuser once claimed that there were four dancers at the lax house that night. That bombshell gets only a passing mention at the bottom of the

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Do we know there's a war on?

Heather MacDonald launches a scathing a attack on the New York Times for publishing secrets about the way we wage the war on terror.
National Security Be Damned

Clarice Feldman goes further: she wants to arrest journalists for writing and publishing the stories.
It's Fish or Cut Bait Time, Mr. Attorney General
Bashing the Times is good sport and I think the Times was wrong to publish the details of such sensitive and useful programs. OTOH, I doubt that much harm was done or that the blame belongs only on the reporters shoulders.

The reason I think that the harm may be minimal is summed up in a comment I left over at Miriam's Ideas:
Frankly, on Sunday i want to read that several dozen employees of State, Treasury, and CIA spent their Saturday being interviewed by the FBI and undergoing polygraph exam.
Remember, this is an administration that sent FBI agents into the House of Representatives to gather superfluous evidence against a corrupt congressman they already had dead to rights. SO why have they been so lethargic when it comes to finding the people who break their oath and leak "critical" information?

The AG has a powerful tool at his disposal. The Libby/Miller precedent means he can subpoena journalists to find out who blabbed. What his he waiting for?

Is it possible that the White House wants the issue more than they want to identify the leakers and punish them?

If they cannot find the leakers, then the relevant agencies need to discipline or reassign the senior managers who ran such lax, insecure programs. After all, they were responsible for security as well as getting the intelligence. They failed. There should be consequences for that failure.

Instead we have this alarmist rhetoric combined with near total inaction. It suggests that the Administration does not view this security breach as a serious issue. If they do not, why should I?

Side notes

1. My view is bolstered by their bizarre handling of CIA. Why push out a man who was rooting out blabbermouths? Why bring back a guy who covered up for security lapses? (See here.)

2. I no longer believe that this is an administration that "abhors leaks". It is clear from the Plame/Wilson mess that it is as willing as any other administration to play the game. Rove, Libby, and a host of others were happy to leak to the New York Times, Washington Post, and other MSM "villans".

What they abhor are leaks they do not control and leaks about the internal maneuvering of the Bush team. That is fine as a general rule, but I have to wonder: is it team loyalty that is keeping AG Gonzalez from moving aggressively against the leakers?

Partisans assume that the people who leaked the intelligence information are "at war" with Bush and his GWoT. Reporters, however, get their information from many sources and those sources leak for many reasons. Did someone boast too freely about the successes? Was a loyalist baited into revealing too much? Was a would-be Lothario indiscrete? If the leaks were so bad, the motive should not matter.

Then again, if the leaks really were so bad and if the stakes really are so high, a competent administration would take vigorous action.

UPDATE 6/30: Howard Kurtz has a round-up of the reactions to the Times. I was struck by the fact that rightwing bloggers sounded more reasonable than rightwing media like NRO and The Weekly Standard. But the most over the top reaction came from James Wolcott of Vanity Fair. He, of course, was not bashing the Times: he was bashing the conservatives based on what he assumes we said:
I didn't bother listening to talk radio, but I'm sure they're baying for
blood between commercials for bladder control.

"What a gummy uproar. One so loud and ferocious that there almost has to be some follow-through, otherwise you are going to have one frustrated batch of highly indignants
So much for the elite press and their journalism of verification.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Two California Roman Catholic dioceses put the "needs" of illegal immigrants ahead of the right of children to be safe from molesters.

Diocesan Screenings for Abusers Give Slack to Undocumented

In L.A. and O.C., illegal immigrant Catholics can volunteer with children without background checks because they lack the required ID.

Not wanting to lose illegal immigrant volunteers, the Los Angeles and Orange Roman Catholic dioceses have quietly backed away from a pledge to root out pedophiles by running fingerprint background checks on anyone who works with children.

The revamped policy in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles allows church volunteer candidates without government-issue identification to give instead a sworn affidavit stating that they have not been convicted of any crime. In Orange, potential volunteers without photo IDs can submit a sworn affidavit and two letters of reference attesting to their character
Yeah. I'm sure that the average pedophile would never lie on an affidavit.

Then there is this:

Priest flees after abuse report

Bishop delays reporting incident

SAN FRANCISCO - The Roman Catholic bishop of Santa Rosa failed to immediately report an admission of child abuse by a priest who has since left the country, authorities said Thursday.

The Rev. Xavier Ochoa was suspended April 28 after admitting an incident of sexual abuse with a 12-year-old boy. Bishop Daniel Walsh didn't notify law enforcement until three days later, giving Ochoa time to flee to Mexico, according to church and law enforcement officials.

The Sonoma County District Attorney's Office on Thursday filed multiple misdemeanor and felony charges, including sodomy, oral copulation and lewd conduct with a minor, according to sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Dennis O'Leary
Soccer is the perfect game for the post-modern world. It's the quintessential expression of the nihilism that prevails in many cultures, which doubtlessly accounts for its wild popularity in Europe. Soccer is truly Seinfeldesque, a game about nothing, sport as sensation.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Duke lacrosse: Durham "justice"

If you are a cab driver who gave a ride to an indicted Duke lacrosse player, the Durham police will dust off a three year old misdemeanor warrant and haul you off to jail. They will also take the opportunity to see if you want to change your story. If you do not, they will make sure the press gets tipped off about your arrest. You will wait in jail until a friend posts your bond.

OTOH, if you are the daughter of Durham's police chief, you can be arrested for a serious felony (assault with a deadly weapon) and be released on unsecured bail into the custody of your mother. Even better, the police will fail to serve you with two critical summonses that are outstanding.

Chief's daughter misses court
Anyone at the New York Times remember FDR?

In light of the latest attempt to sabotage the War on Terror by the Grey Lady, this address by FDR makes for interesting reading. It was a fireside chat from 9 December 1941. A remarkable speech in many ways. I am struck by the somber realism with which he prepares the nation for more bad news after Pearl Harbor.

But this is the really good part:
Many rumors and reports which we now hear originate, of course, with enemy sources. For instance, today the Japanese are claiming that as a result of their one action against Hawaii they hare gained naval supremacy in the Pacific. This is an old trick of propaganda which has been used innumerable times by the Nazis. The purposes of such fantastic claims are, of course, to spread fear and confusion among us, and to goad us into revealing military information which our enemies are desperately anxious to obtain.

Our Government will not be caught in this obvious trap -- and neither will the people of the United States.

It must be remembered by each and every one of us that our free and rapid communication these days must be greatly restricted in wartime. It is not possible to receive full and speedy and accurate reports front distant areas of combat. This is particularly true where naval operations are concerned. For in these days of the marvels of the radio it is often impossible for the Commanders of various units to report their activities by radio at all, for the very simple reason that this information would become available to the enemy and would disclose their position and their plan of defense or attack.

Of necessity there will be delays in officially confirming or denying reports of operations, but we will not hide facts from the country if we know the facts and if the enemy will not be aided by their disclosure.

To all newspapers and radio stations -- all those who reach the eyes and ears of the American people -- I say this: You have a most grave responsibility to the nation now and for the duration of this war.

If you feel that your Government is not disclosing enough of the truth, you have every right to say so. But in the absence of all the facts, as revealed by official sources, you have no right in the ethics of patriotism to deal out unconfirmed reports in such a way as to make people believe that they are gospel truth.

Every citizen, in every walk of life, shares this same responsibility. The lives of our soldiers and sailors -- the whole future of this nation -- depend upon the manner in which each and every one of us fulfills his obligation to our country
Duke Lacrosse

Robert KC Johnson

Turning on Nifong

Lashawn Barber

Scottsboro, NYT, and Hauntings

Duke Rape Case: $2 million Hush Money Offer?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Duke lacrosse: USA Today's grudging second thoughts

This USA Today editorial admits that there are difficulties with the prosecutor's case in Durham. However, it actually understates the magnitude of the problem.

DNA. Nifong said in March that he expected DNA taken from the team would support the accuser's account. The DNA evidence found no link to any player.
That's true enough and is more than a little problem. The lack of evidence, in this case, is powerful support for the players and completely shatters the accuser's tale. If "every crime leaves a trace" as the forensic scientists maintain, then "no trace= no crime" when the exams are carried out within hours of the event.

Identification. The accuser was shown photos of only Duke lacrosse players three weeks after the party. Mixing in photos of non-suspects is considered more reliable and is recommended by the U.S. Justice Department and Durham police.
USA Today fails to mention that this was at least the third lineup attempt for the accuser. In the earlier attempts she did not identify all three suspects.

Defense attorneys say Nifong has rejected their requests to show him evidence that could clear the players, including time-stamped photos from the party that challenge the accuser's account of a 30-minute rape.
The photos due more than just "challenge" the accuser's estimate of the time elapsed. They also challenge her tale of losing her fingernail in the struggle (according to some reporters who saw the pictures, the nails are missing while the dancer is performing) and her account that she "fled" after the rape.

Nifong might have evidence he has not disclosed.
Under North Carolina rules he has to turn over everything promptly. That means that defense attorneys and some reporters have seen everything Nifong had when he went to the Grand Jury for his indictments.

the team members' behavior undercuts their credibility, and defense attorneys haven't revealed all that Nifong has given them.
The editorial writer never specifies what behavior undercuts the players' credibility. That is unfair and dishonest. Further, MSNBC's Dan Abrams claims that he has seen the whole discovery file, so it is not true that the defense has not revealed everything.

There are several points that USA Today did not include in their list:

1. "Blue wall of silence". Nifong led reporters to believe that the lacrosse team was stonewalling him and the police. That was partially untrue because the three captains submitted to lengthy interviews at the start of the case (without lawyers), submitted DNA and offered to take polygraphs. Nor did he acknowledge that some of them could have gone to court to quash or delay the DNA dragnet. Instead all of them submitted to the testing.

2. Seligman's alibi. USA Today does not mention that one of the indicted players was miles away from the party when the accuser says she was raped.

3. Lack of injuries. The medical exam is completely inconsistent with the events the accuser alleges happens. The Durham DA painted a picture of a brutal gang rape which included kicking, beating, and choking. The hospital found no evidence of such a violent crime.

USA Today wanted to appear fair-minded. It is bad form to "attack the victim". Unfortunately, they could only keep up those appearances by providing a partial, distorted picture of the state of the evidence. Their readers deserve better.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Duke lacrosse

Two editorials look at the case.

This one in USA Today is so wishy-washy it is misleading.

As time ticks by in Duke's rape case, facts grow short

I'll discuss it later.

The LA Times has an outstanding op-ed.

Overzealous prosecutors, cross-examine yourselves

Prosecutorial misconduct should not surprise us. Prosecutors are lawyers (intent on victory), politicians (craving popularity) and human beings (needing to rationalize serious errors). The question is what medicine can be prescribed to treat the malignant influences on their behavior. The solution begins with the right kind of public pressure. We must judge prosecutors by much more than how many headlines and convictions they muster.

I touched on several of these points in earlier posts:

Criminal justice and the Rosenhan Experiment

The elephant in the living room

Changing minds

I also think there is at least a partial solution to the problem.

1. Bar prosecutors from running for an elected post (except for re-election) until they have been out of the DA/AG/US Atty's office for two years.

2. Require prosecutors to file a record of every discussion they have with the media. Make these logs public records available to anyone who wishes to see them.

3. Require prosecutors to sign a blanket waiver of any right to be protected by reporter shield laws.

If you get rid of political ambition and anonymous leaks, the worst sort of prosecutors will look for other work.

If you break up the cozy relationship between reporters and prosecutors, the press can cover trials and investigations fairly without the ethical ambiguity that comes from cultivating and protecting sources.
What is country?

Jack Sparks has two posts that cover the real and the fake.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

From the cone of silence to Emily Litella

This weekend the Raleigh News and Observer decided to thrown Mike Nifong under the bus. Or maybe it is more correct to say they are trying to throw him under the bandwagon even as they slip off it unnoticed.

The N&O was an eager, energetic recruit to Nifong's righteous crusade. (See this post)

To follow along Robert KC Johnson's SNL theme: They have emerged from the cone of silence as Emily Litella.

Johnson is exactly right when he describes Ruth Sheehan's March 27 screed as "one of the most reprehensible columns on the case." If you read Sheehan's latest effort you will find no hint of a mea culpa. Instead, she wants to blame it all on Nifong.

Say all you want about the media's rush to judgment. But the truth is we report on allegations and charges out of district attorneys' offices every single day. And when a DA, especially one with Nifong's reputation for being a quiet, behind-the-scenes guy, comes out not only saying that a rape occurred, but that it was a brutal gang rape, in which the woman was strangled and beaten, you had to figure he had incontrovertible evidence.
This touches on one of the abiding concerns of this blog: the way the media cozies up to prosecutors during investigations. They toss aside their cynicism about elected officials when it come to the politicians with the most unchecked power in the country-prosecutors.

This tendency is not innocent; journalists do it to cultivate sources in order to score "exclusives" and get photo-friendly perp walks.

Even worse, Sheehan still holds to the liberal double standard that helped get her into this predicament. She worries that the case "has torn off the scabs on race and class-in Durham and beyond."

To quote the second dancer-"what a crock". The case is about an alleged rape. What tore the scabs off was the way the media-including the News and Observer-used it to highlight issues of class, race, and gender.

In doing so the media demonstrated once again their unlimited tolerance of double standards. They only pick at the scab when the defendants are white and the victims are minority or female. Only white nationalists look at the Carr brothers in Wichita and see something emblematic about race relations in America. But all the best outlets were happy to do so when it came to the Duke lacrosse team. Closer to Sheehan's beat is the case of the UNC Islamic hit and run driver. That incident, the MSM informs us, is only about one isolated, angry young man. It is not terrorism; it tells us nothing about the Islamic students who attend our colleges.

To the MSM some crimes are just crimes while other crimes are significant social markers. In some cases, journalists are so eager to play sociologists (talk about low aspirations) that they forget that they need to establish what happened before they hold forth on "what it means.'

Monday, June 19, 2006

Iraq and "Transformation"

Jerry Pournelle identifies the critical weakness with Rumsfeld's push for "transformation" and its implemetation in Iraq. Those high-tech forces are wasted when they serve as constabulary during and occupation.

That's why i am only half in agreement with this column by another general calling for Rumsfeld's resignation. (HT: Irish Pennants) On one hand he is right that we did not have a strategy for winning in Iraq, just a plan to take Baghdad and topple Saddam. OTOH, "more boots on the ground" is not necessarily the right answer for the reason Purnelle gives.

Clausewitz: "Strategy is the employment of the battle to gain the end of the war."


The Meaning of Defeat and the Utility of Victory

"Defining and Achieving Decisive Victory "
Duke lacrosse

Looks like DA Nifong might cancel his subscription to Newsweek:

Doubts About Duke

The prosecutor insists his rape case is strong. One big problem: the facts thus far.

Yikes! Even his brain-dead supporters at the News & Observer are jumping ship:

DA ought to hand off case

Robert KC Johnson has another good post up

Nifong and the Blogs

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Duke Lacrosse

Outstanding post by Robert KC Johnson

Shifting the Goalposts

As the presumed “facts” initially associated with the Duke lacrosse case have melted away, those on campus who aggressively condemned the lacrosse players have found themselves in an uncomfortable position. While a few columnists (such as David Brooks and Nicholas Kristof) have revised their opinions in light of the Coleman Committee report and the recently released prosecution documents, no one at Duke has publicly done so. A small minority have ignored the new material, and even leveled new charges against the lacrosse players. But most still condemn the lacrosse players, though now with a focus on issues relating to alcohol—acting as if their earlier critiques, which centered on allegations of the players’ alleged racism or sexism, or insinuations about the likelihood of rape, never occurred. This shifting of the goalposts is at best intellectually dishonest, and at worst shameful.


The activistas defend their anti-lacrosse position with an ever-changing set of "arguments" and stubbornly ignore the facts that make them look like dupes. When forced to confront those inconvenient facts they shriek "strippers", "drinking", "public urination"! They call to mind Marlowe's character who answered the charge of fornication with "but that was in another country; And besides, the wench is dead."

Speaking of old plays. Wouldn't this one provide a great title for the book that recounts the Duke travesty and the dashed hopes of the campus activistas?
Do as we say, not as we do

Fewer and fewer people read newspapers. The MSM has no doubt that this is a VERY BAD THING.

Maybe before they lecture their customers, reporters and editors should take their own advice and read their own papers.

Confederate Yankee has one intersting example . This post is another.
Not Ready to Make Nice

Still willing to play the victim:

"It was the bullying and the scare factor," shudders banjo and guitar player Robison. "It was like the McCarthy days, and it was almost like the country was unrecognisable."

(HT: Michelle Malkin)

Looks like all their publicity work isn't getting the job done:

The outspoken Texas band Dixie Chicks has been having trouble selling out its upcoming tour dates, forcing some shows to be canceled. reports the trio -- which has been politically controversial since singer Natalie Maines criticized President George W. Bush before the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq -- begins its U.S. tour in July, but so far four dates have been pulled due to slow ticket sales

Friday, June 16, 2006


CSPAN ran an interview with Frank Schaeffer discussing his new book AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service. It is well worth watching. (CSPAN has it here)

Schaeffer pulls no punches, but he is also non-partisan. He is critical of the New York Times and Harvard, but he also faults GWB for his failure to be a true war president after 9-11.

At one point in the interview Schaeffer wonders why the media does not devote more front page space to the heroic deeds of soldiers. Editors lavish attention on a Tony winner or a Golden Globe nominee. They have no such interest in men who have received the Navy Cross or Medal of Honor.

This, again, is not a left/right issue. The New York Times does it, People magazine does it, Fox News does it. The object of their obsession may vary, but they are united in their unrelenting focus on the trivial at the expense of the heroic.

There is something wrong with a media world that confers celebrity on Britney Spears's doltish consort but has no time for the people like Randy Shughart, Rick Rescorla, John Macejunas, or Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith.

Duke Lacrosse

Strong words about the failure of Duke's leadership to actually lead:

Apologies necessary

As an African American, an alumnus and a member of the 2005 Duke men's lacrosse program, I am revolted by my alma mater's handling of the rape allegations directed toward members of the lacrosse team.

Richard Brodhead, Larry Moneta, other administrators and certain faculty members have flagrantly and wrongfully hung members of the Duke men's lacrosse team out to dry.

This mistake has not gone unnoticed and will no longer be tolerated by the alumni community. I call on all of Duke University's alumni and donors to end contributions to the University pending a formal apology issued by President Brodhead on behalf of the faculty and administration for failing to appropriately support members of the Duke community

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Duke Lacrosse: Assessing the News & Observer

The coverage of the Duke lacrosse case by the cable shows has been abysmal. As shocking discoveries go, that ranks right up there with seeing the sun slide over the eastern horizon in the morning. Much more interesting has been the performance of the Raleigh News & Observer. Initially, they took a page out of the Howell Raines playbook and “flooded the zone” on this case. Clearly they were striving to be the paper of record for this auto de fe. Sadly, their eager beaver reporters can crank out thousands of words on the story, but they so not seem to read very well. Their accounts have uncovered red flags aplenty, yet the N&O has shown little interest in pursuing them.

Blogger John in Carolina has done yeoman’s work sifting through the N&O’s coverage and finding discrepancies. For example, on May 27 they ran a story on the man who drove her to the party. As JinC points out, his story conflicts on many points with the account given to the paper by the accuser’s father. If you just read the N&O you would never know that.

Nor would you know that the driver demolished the image of the accuser carefully crafted by the N&O’s first story on her. On March 25 the paper went to great pains to portray the alleged victim (AV) in sympathetic terms. Of special note is how they portrayed her “dancing career”:

The accuser had worked for an escort company for two months, doing one-on-one dates about three times a week."It wasn't the greatest job," she said, her voice trailing off. But with two children, and a full class load at N.C. Central University, it paid well and fit her schedule.This was the first time she had been hired to dance provocatively for a group, she said.

Her driver, however, paints a difference picture:

Taylor had known for a while that his guest was a dancer. He and a male friend had watched her perform at clubs in Smithfield and Hillsborough.

The trained professionals at the N&O just let that pass.

In the same March 25 story the AV told an interesting tale about how she came to report the crime:

She hesitated to tell police what happened, she said Friday. She realized she had to, for her young daughter and her father. "My father came to see me in the hospital," she said. "I knew if I didn't report it that he would have that hurt forever, knowing that someone hurt his baby and got away with it."

We now know that she cried rape hours earlier—long before any visit her father made to the hospital.

The N&O has been aggressively negligent in scrutinizing the conduct of DA Nifong and his investigation. For instance, on March 24 they covered the 46 player perp walk that Nifong organized. In that story their reporters cited the warrant and gave this description of the 911 call:

The victim went to the Kroger grocery store on Hillsborough Road and called police at 1:22 a.m. March 14, the warrant says.
That statement is completely false. The AV did not call 911; a security guard did. The call did not report a rape; it reported that the AV was passed out in a car. But Raleigh’s Woodward and Bernsteins are unconcerned about lies in a court document.

Nor are they troubled by the fact that Nifong has a pattern of misleading statements in warrants. Stuart Taylor raised this issue on May 1 in his National Journal column:

Many a media report has said that the Duke emergency room found "signs, symptoms, and injuries consistent with being raped and sexually assaulted vaginally and anally." But that is the state's characterization, in a March 23 sworn statement, of still-secret "medical records and interviews." The only specific assertion attributed to the forensic sexual-assault nurse -- that "the injuries and [the accuser's] behavior were consistent with a traumatic experience" -- says nothing about rape. A sloppily drafted report? Or sly distortion? Time will tell.

Subsequent revelations show that Taylor’s skepticism was entirely warranted. The SANE exam recorded none of the grievous injuries that Nifong’s warrant hinted at.

Further, the extraordinary DNA dragnet could only be justified if the DNA tests could provide powerful evidence for Nifong’s case. The DA promised that the tests would "immediately rule out any innocent persons." Yet when the tests revealed no matches between the lax players and samples taken from the rape exam, righteous townie Mike Nifong smugly whispered, “no matter, I don’t need it.”

He was right about that. All he need was an ID by the AV. To get that, he needed three different photo array sessions, each of them terribly flawed. The watchdogs at the N&O know that, but they just rolled over so the Durham DA could scratch their tummy. (Hey—he gave them great photo ops with two separate perp walks.)

Their blind loyalty is all the more puzzling given these two stories:

Durham DA Blames His Office For Mistaken Dismissal Of Child Rape Case

Durham slayings remain unsolved, evidence untouched

There is one more item a truly investigative press would be digging into. When Nifong was riding high, the press was in a tizzy over an email sent from a lax player’s email account. Here is what Time magazine reported on April 14:

Defense lawyers say they fear their clients are being targeted in a setup or sting operation possibly perpetrated by law enforcement. The lawyers have advised the players not to trust or respond to any e-mails sent to each other, one attorney tells Time.

The explosive allegations stem from an e-mail message sent in the last few days to several players from the e-mail address of another player, stating he was going to tell the police a crime occurred and implicate key players. The player denies he sent it. This comes after the recent revelations of the now infamous email sent by a Duke player hours after the alleged crime, in which he joked he was going to have more strippers over and "kill the bitches'; defense lawyers do not dispute that message's authenticity, though they insist it has no bearing on their clients' culpability. "The police said [the new e-mail] came from a confidential informant, but we have reason to believe it came from the police, hoping it would make all the players nervous," says one defense lawyer. "That didn't work." A spokesperson at the Durham Police Department would not comment on the allegations of a setup, and said she would not forward TIME's inquiries to any of her superiors over the holiday weekend. No one at the Durham County District Attorney's Office could be reached for comment Friday

It seems to me that we have 3 possibilities here:

1. The defense lawyers lied.

2. Some one hacked into Duke’s email system and sent the email.

3. The Durham police sent the email.

Two months later and we still do not know who sent the email. More telling, the N&O does not seem to care. They give no indication that this matter is important. Contrast their indifference on this story with the effort that went into their April 9 story “Team has swaggered for years.” The N&O had nine people work on a 1,900 story recounted the arrests of various lacrosse team members and the opinions of neighbours who disliked them.

We see, then, the bizarre news judgment at work in Raleigh. Possible police malfeasance in a high profile case—no big deal. Highlighting “preppy arrogance” and misdemeanors—spare no effort.

The N&O’s coverage of Duke lacrosse matters for to reasons. First, local media frames the story and does much of the research for national media. The cable talking heads spend a lot of air time yammering about what appears in that day’s Herald-Sun or News & Observer.

More importantly, the N&O’s handling of this story shows that PC liberalism still reigns over newsrooms throughout the country. Two years after Rathergate, editors and reporters still operate with blinders they do not know they wear. More telling, mainstream press pundits (Kurtz, Rosen, etc.) have let them get away with it.
The best in the NFL

Super Bowl Victories

Pittsburgh 5
Dallas 5
San Francisco 5

Super Bowl Appearances

Dallas 8
Pittsburgh 6
San Francisco 5

Division Titles post-merger

Pittsburgh 17
San Francisco 17
Dallas 16

Play-off appearances post-merger

Dallas 23
Pittsburgh 22
Minnesota 22
San Francisco 21

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Roethlisberger and Bradshaw

ESPN has gotten a lot of mileage out of condemning Big Ben for riding that motorcycle. What is particularly funny is that they cite an old interview with Terry Bradshaw talking about the responsibility Roe3thlisberger has to his teammates.

As if TB is some sort of authority on what it means to be a good teammate.

In his book Double Yoi! Myron Cope is highly critical of how Bradshaw has denigrated the myth of the Immaculate Reception in books and “motivational speeches”. Cope saw the game in person and years late reviewed the tape of the play. He is adamant that it was a legal play and, like Chuck Noll, he credits Franco’s hustle for making it possible. Years late John Madden (“the Corpulent Coach”) would spin a web of yarns and lies to claim that his Raiders were robbed.

Here’s Cope on Bradshaw’s shtick and his concern for his teammates:

Terry’s imagination is, you might say, a figment tree. Moreover, his assertion that Swearingen ruled in favor of the Immaculate Reception in order to save himself from mob violence was actually a canard John Madden had spouted and clung to for years. Terry, it’s a cute answer when you are asked if Franco’s catch was legal, but it’s an answer that does a disservice to your teammate. Think about it when you go for a laugh.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Trusting experts

Photon Courier has an interesting post up on decision-making and hierarchy. I think there is an additional, relevant aspect to the historical events he uses as a jumping off point.

Kaiser Wilhelm's rebuke to von Moltke-"your uncle would have given me a different answer" must have stung. As an obedient soldier von Moltke could not reply in kind. If he could have, he would have been right to say "you would never have let my uncle be chief of the General Staff."

By 1914 German had no good strategic options and the Kaiser had few good experts to rely on. All of that was Wilhelm II's doing. He wanted all the reins in his hands and brooked no interference from generals or diplomats. When war came, he had no one to turn to except technocrats, courtiers, and sycophants.

So Photon Courier is right that executives need to tap into all the knowledge and expertise in their organization. But there is a corollary: If you want good advice in a crisis, you have to make certain that you have good people in place before hand.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Big Ben

When did sports writers and radio blowhards become such a bunch of big, cold-hearted, meddling nannies?

First off, skip the lectures about helmets until we find out how the kid is doing after surgery.

Second, i really don't care what it means for the season until i find out how Roethlisberger is doing.
Tucker Carlson: The willing degradation of the reservation conservative

Watching Tucker Carlson cover the Duke lacrosse travesty of justice brings to mind those old photographs of Geronimo riding around in a car in Florida. It took a big chunk of the U.S. Army to send the old warrior to the reservation. Carlson went willingly as the price of having his own little-watched cable show.

To his credit Carlson was an early skeptic of the political prosecution underway in Durham. For this he has been mocked by guests on his own program. The conventions of cable news allow talking heads to spew the most amazing nonsense under the pretense of presenting "both sides of the story." In the Duke case, people like Wendy Murphy have been reduced to screeching "defense spin, defense spin" when confronted with those inconvenient things called facts.

Carlson as host has to act like this lame farce is meaningful and that he and his guests are engaged in a real dialogue. Take this transcript from a recent program.

After Wendy Murphy behaves like an obnoxious LaRouchite, Tucker closes with:

Wendy Murphy, completely insane, but delightful nonetheless.

Thanks for joining us
Where is the outrage? Why does a host have to pretend that Wendy Murphy or Georgia Goslee are honestly seeking the truth when they lie and spin? Is this news or pro wrestling?

The shame of it all is that Carlson's early instincts on this case have been proven correct. He was suspicious of the accuser, aware of the political motives of the DA, and worried about the harm done by false accusations. He could have claimed the mantle of Atticus Finch and Edward R. Murrow. Instead he chose to go along to get along and allowed other to move ahead of him on the story.

Tucker Carlson: Can a reservation conservative boost MSNBC?
"But the owners are Republicans"

Eventually that line pops up in every debate about media bias.

That's what makes this column by the editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer so interesting.

The great experiment begins

Here we see the newsroom's view of the proper role of ownership. They even managed to put it in writing. Every member of the new ownership group in Philly was required to take The Pledge.

The editorial function of the Business shall at all times remain independent of the ownership and control of the Company, and no Member shall attempt to influence or interfere with the editorial policies or decisions of the publisher.
Sort of makes the owners's politics irrelevant.
Here and there

Deviant apologetics at the L. A. Times

Tabloid Baby has the sordid details.

We already know that Hollywood embraces criminals and deviates. But what about the LA Times? Will the paper ever lose its attempt at hip distance and take a stand on practices within its hometown industry? We don't think so. Not as long as great artists like Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Bryan Singer and Victor Salva agree to give them exclusive interviews in fancy eateries.

Defending Ann Coulter

I'm not a big fan of Coulter. But Dafydd at Big Lizards makes a strong defense of her in this post. After reading it, I have to say that he makes her case better than se does.

Defending James Webb

I am a big fan of James Webb. His primary opponent has tried to portray him as anti-semitic. Some in the blogosphere have fallen for it. Outside the Beltway shows why they are wrong.

Richard Hofstadter

Slate has an article on the historian. As a graduate student I was subjected to a diet heavy in Hofstadter. Unlike others on the menu, his work does not call for re-reading. Greenberg admits that "many of his major ideas are just plain wrong."

It makes sense that Slate would run a warm appreciation of Hofstadter. They share many qualities: good prose, a weakness for striking aphorisms, unacknowledged political agendas, and a taste for daring conclusions at the expense of superficiality and obstinate error.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Even cartoons are political at the New York Times

These people need to get lives.
An animated fable about happy cars might have made sense before gas hit three bucks a gallon, but even an earlier sticker date couldn't shake the story's underlying creepiness, which comes down to the fact that there's nothing alive here: nada, zip. In this respect, the film can't help but bring to mind James Cameron's dystopic masterpiece, "The Terminator," which hinges on the violent war of the machine world on its human masters. To watch McQueen and the other cars motor along the film's highways and byways without running into or over a single creature is to realize that, in his cheerful way, Mr. Lasseter has done Mr. Cameron one better: instead of blowing the living world into smithereens, these machines have just gassed it with carbon monoxide.
Sometimes an animated movie is just a cartoon for kids.
Duke lacrosse

The Conservative Voice sees the big picture:
I don’t know about the rest of you but, my observation of our current legal system is that it’s not only broken—it’s imminently dangerous. If all it takes, for the complete destruction of lives, is a DA wanting to “get you” for his or her own political advantage (having no evidence whatsoever) we are in more trouble than we’ve ever been.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Duke Lacrosse

Robert KC Johnson has a round-up and commentary.

The defense attorneys continue to dismantle Nifong's case in their pretrial motions.
Osborn writes that the alleged victim said she was hit, kicked and strangled, but that the investigator in the case, Benjamin Himan, omitted that "the examining physician … at 3:14 a.m. [on March 14] found no neck, back, chest or abdominal tenderness."

He also writes that the investigator's probable cause affidavit omitted that the sexual assault examination found that "no condoms, fingers or foreign objects were used during the alleged sexual assault."

The motion also states that the nurse who did the examination was not technically certified as a sexual-assault nurse, but that she was still "in training

Some of the legal documents sound like summaries of a bad Jerry Springer episode:
The exotic dancer who has accused three Duke lacrosse players of gang-raping her was drinking while taking medication that night, and had sex with at least four men and a sexual device in the days immediately leading up to the off-campus party, according to court papers filed Thursday.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


My sentiments exactly.

I hope the Counterterrorism blog is right:

Despite the popular perception that killing or capturing al-Qaeda mid-level commanders is a game of "whack-a-mole", the reality is al-Qaeda in Iraq has limited resources and a finite pool of expertise. Over time, as less experienced leaders fill the positions of the more experienced, this impacts al-Qaeda's organization in effectiveness, leadership, ability to network and degrades operational security.

Cam Edwards deals with the "sophisticated nay-sayers":

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Doughnuts and immigration

Say that i decide-- for the sake of my heart and my waistline-- that i am going to stop eating two doughnuts every morning for breakfast. Henceforth, it is strictly a Saturday treat.

Is it fair to say that i hate doughnuts? Should my decision be evaluated only by the pain it causes doughnut-makers?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

"The Bedford Boys"

June 6, 1944: Nineteen boys from Bedford, Virginia--population just 3,000 in 1944--died in the first bloody minutes of D-Day. They were part of Company A of the 116th Regiment of the 29th Division, and the first wave of American soldiers to hit the beaches in Normandy. Later in the campaign, three more boys from this small Virginia town died of gunshot wounds. Twenty-two sons of Bedford lost--it is a story one cannot easily forget and one that the families of Bedford will never forget. The Bedford Boys is the true and intimate story of these men and the friends and families they left behind.

A book that is highly recommended:

6 June, 1944

The serious journalists on teevee are all caught up in the 6-6-6 numerology today. (Funny how that also ties into the release of a big budget Hollywood movie.) This blog prefers rememember 6 June as the anniversary of D-Day. So do the guys at Hot Air.

Monday, June 05, 2006

A healthy dose of good sense

R. Joseph Hoffman on Da Vincititis:

But the humanists I know have been passionately interested in the unfaithing potential of the controversy, with the result that they vie with the Catholics for the Numbness of Nuance award. Always happy to see rocks thrown at nonsense (than which there is none greater than the ossified dogmas of Catholicism) the shortsighted atheist few had not counted on Da Vinci creating a new form of superstition, a Religio Da Vinci that blends historical implausibility with a modern passion for intrigue and a postmodern indifference to truth. Magic, codes, rings, and cryptographs, naifish spirituality, the occult, and the unbelievable are the pillars that prop up the symbolic roofs of Narnia, Middle Earth, and Hogwarts Academy. In tapping into a rich vein of early Christian eccentricity famous for its contempt for the historical Jesus, Brown has been able to mine the riches of a darker period, our own, known for its historical illiteracy.

Frederick Crews on Freud:

One set of questions can be answered summarily: of course Freud's influence in our culture has been pervasive. Nobody doubts it, so that surely can't be the news item.

A more interesting question would be whether any evidence--recognized as such by uncommitted and scientifically well-informed parties--has recently, or ever, come to light in support of Freud's specific propositions about the mind. That issue was thoroughly addressed a few years ago by the philosopher of science Edward Erwin in a book called A Final Accounting. Its conclusion was that no corroborative evidence whatsoever has been found. The same conclusion emerges from Malcolm Macmillan's great study Freud Evaluated: The Completed Arc (1991; revised 1997, with a foreword by me

Sunday, June 04, 2006


First posted 4 June 2006

Sixty-four years ago today the United States Navy changed the course of the Pacific War with its victory at Midway. I know of no other battle where so much changed in just a matter of minutes. At 10.20 that day, the Japanese possessed the strategic initiative in the Pacific and a decided naval superiority. At 10.30 both were lost.

Battle of Midway, 4-7 June 1942
New York to the Heartland: You're Expendable!

That's how i read the reaction to the anti-terrorism funding for 2006.

I blogged about this issue here and here.

It is hard to take Bloomberg seriously because he rarely acts like counter-terrorism is Job 1 for NYC's mayor. If it was he would not waste time on smoking bans and harrassing gun dealers in Pennsylvania.

HRC has now weighed in:

Senator Clinton Criticizes Cut in Antiterror Financing

Is it possible that she will shoot herself in the foot on this issue? It is a great issue for her in New York, but will it hurt her in Iowa and New Hampshire? Maybe some parents there will ask about Beslan. If i lived in Des Moines or Cedar Rapids, i'd want to know if the children of Iowa were somehow less important because my state had no Empire State building.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


Just damn. Mentioned in the New York Times.

OTOH, it has been good for 13 visits thus far. So as far as traffic goes, that link is no Michelle Malkin or Steve Sailer.

UPDATE: A couple days ago this list was discussed on the Charlie Rose Show. Critic Thomas Mallon made the point that younger novelists seem less interested in non-fiction compared to previous generations of writers. He felt that this hurt their novels. In his view writers like Mailer or Mary McCarthy became better novelists by trying their hand at journalism and criticism.

Not to beat a dead horse, but let's note that Wolfe was a journalist and critic before he turned to the novel.
The Iraq Syndrome

Daniel Henninger nails a big factor for the war weariness in Red America:
The greatest danger at this moment is that the American public will decide it wants to pull back because it has concluded that when the U.S. goes in, it always gets hung out to dry.
He thinks that will be a bad thing, but he does not have a way to prevent it.

Friday, June 02, 2006

"Kiss the boot of shiny, shiny leather"

I can't help thinking of the Velvet Underground when i read or hear Bush-backers defend this administration and its search of Rep. Jefferson's Congressional office. Is it some deep-seated masochism or an emerging love for authoritarianism? Either way the line from "Venus in Furs" works.

Me, i'm just an old-fashioned, historically-minded conservative. As such, i was shocked when the FBI went in the House offices. It brought up too many historical analogies, all of them harmful to liberty.

Jerry Pournelle is a pretty smart guy. He feels the same way.