Saturday, December 06, 2008

This made me smile

While researching for future Churchill Series posts I came upon an address historian John Plumpton delivered before the Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy.

It includes the following - - -

Arguments about the importance of history and attempts to shape it and control it are certainly not new.

In 1927 the then mayor of Chicago, William Hale Thompson, launched an attack on allegedly pro-British textbooks in the city’s schools.

Chicagoans, more interested in the services provided by Al Capone, paid little attention.

Political cartoonists had a field day with it. In one cartoon, a police officer pulled over a suspicious-looking truck that had just arrived from Canada.

Demanding to know what the driver was carrying, he got the response.

“Only booze, officer.”

“Drive on, brother,” said the policeman. “I thought it was history books.”


Plumpton’s entire address is here.

Caroline Kennedy New York’s next Senator?

Today the NY Times posted - - -

Caroline Kennedy, a daughter of America’s most storied political family who for many years fiercely guarded her privacy, is considering whether to pursue the Senate seat expected to be vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton early next year, a family member said Friday.

“I believe that she is considering it,” said her cousin Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has spoken to Ms. Kennedy about the matter during the past week. “A lot of people the last couple of weeks have urged her to do it.”

Ms. Kennedy called Gov. David A. Paterson on Wednesday to discuss the position, Mr. Paterson confirmed Friday. The governor will choose a replacement for Mrs. Clinton upon her expected confirmation as secretary of state next month.

“The conversation was informational,” Mr. Paterson said. “She did not express an interest in the Senate, but we talked about the Senate, so I got that she was just trying to get some information to determine whether or not she would like to have an interest in it. And that was it.”

He added, “I haven’t offered the job to anyone.”

Ms. Kennedy, 51, a lawyer who lives in Manhattan, could not be reached on Friday. ….

The rest of the story’s here.

Yesterday at the Weekly Standard’s The Blog, Mary Katharine Ham posted on the possible choice of Ms. Kennedy by Gov. Paterson.

Ham provides interesting background and insights here.

Hat tip:

N&O again terms Nifong "fallen prosecutor"

Raleigh News & Observer’s stories of March 24 and 25, 2006 set in motion the Duke lacrosse witch hunt and the public part of the attempt to frame three transparently innocent Duke students for gang rape and other felonies. Both stories carried the bylines of Samiha Khanna and Anne Blythe.

Khanna recently left the N&O. Blythe remains and on Dec. 5 reported a story which began:

A federal judge on Thursday rejected the appeal of fallen prosecutor Mike Nifong to keep his case in bankruptcy court.

The ruling opens the door for the three exonerated lacrosse players to again pursue malicious prosecution allegations against the former district attorney.
The rest of the story’s here.

I’ve just sent an email to N&O executive editor for news John Drescher. It’s text follows. I’ll let you know what, if anything, I hear back.

A Dec. 5 story -- “Suit against Nifong can go ahead” -- under reporter Anne Blythe’s byline refers to “fallen prosecutor Mike Nifong.”

We typically refer to our war dead as “fallen heroes” and a police officer wounded or killed in the line of duty as “the fallen officer.”

That being the case, why use “fallen” for Nifong?

Why not use “disbarred?”

Even Nifong's supporters must admit its correct; and most people will, I think, agree its a much more appropriate adjective for Nifong than "fallen."

There's also “disgraced.” I’ve seen the AP use it a number of times to describe Nifong.

Please consider no longer using “fallen prosecutor,” which Blythe and the N&O chose to term Nifong in your Dec. 5 story and in a number of previous ones as well.

Thank you for your attention to this request.

I’ve posted it at my blog and will, if you respond, publish there your response in full.



The Churchill Series - Dec. 5, 2008

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

Historian John G. Plumpton - - -

Churchill made frequent comments about history and its importance.

Some were pragmatic and should be heeded by many contemporary political leaders: “A good knowledge of history is a quiver full of arrows in debates.”

Others are more profound: “Everyone can recognize history when it happens. Everyone can recognize history after it has happened; but it only the wise person who knows at the moment what is vital and permanent, what is lasting and memorable.”

But Churchill is often criticized for having a too romantic view of history - views strongly influenced by his upbringing.

“History, for Churchill,” said the great Cambridge historian, J.H. Plumb, “was not a subject like geography or mathematics. It was a part of his temperament, as much a part of his being as his social class and, indeed, closely allied to it.

It became a part of his politics, his diplomacy, his strategy and his tactics. I think it is extremely difficult for anyone not born into Churchill’s world or time to realize what a dominance the past had over all his thinking and action.

And one should recall that for Churchill the past was very personal. Think merely of Blenheim Palace where he was born.”

We cannot all be born in Blenheim – nor can we all have Churchill’s talent for the resplendent phrase, but we all can, through a deeper and more thorough knowledge of history, have a better understanding of what is vital and permanent, lasting and memorable.

Churchill’s romantic view of history led him to this conclusion:

“History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past trying to reconstruct its success to revive the echoes and kindle with pale gleams the passions of former days.”

Let me suggest that this is not enough. The passions of former days will be kindled only if they are relevant to each and every generation.

Thus it is our responsibility to our children, and our children’s children, that while the lamp of history may flicker, it must not go out.

Plumpton's entire address is here. (Scroll down)

Have a nice weekend.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Maureen Dowd sets the right price for her "punditry"

The NY Times Company-owned International Herald Tribune’s lede for a recent Maureen Dowd column has her setting the right price for her “punditry.”

At least it does IMO.

Take a look here and see if you don't agree.

How USA Today and Raleigh N&O reported record low U. S. combat deaths

USA Today’s front page yesterday carried the headlines:

U.S. combat deaths hit record low

11 troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in November
followed by a story which began:
U.S. combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan last month dropped to the lowest combined level since the United States began fighting the two wars more than five years ago.

Eleven American servicemembers died in combat in the conflicts in November. Seven others died in non-hostile incidents. The highest monthly total for combat deaths in both wars was 129 in November 2004. …
The rest of the story’s here.

And how did the McClatchy Company’s liberal/leftist Raleigh News & Observer report the news of record low U. S. combat deaths in November?

Yesterday buried on page 7A the N&O ran a 6-paragraph story with the small font lede:
Attacks in Iraq hit lowest level ever
The story's first five grafs concern bombing attacks in Iraq. Then comes this final, single-sentence graf:
U. S. combat deaths were down in November too, falling to one of their lowest monthly levels of the war – eight.
One sentence at the bottom of a brief story buried inside the “A” section was all the N&O thought the news of record low U. S. combat deaths was worth.

And if you look back at the USA Today story, you see the N&O not only grossly underreported important news, it also mangled it.

As for what made the N&O’s front page, its major above the fold story yesterday was headlined:
Canes rehire Maurice

The former coach replaces fired 2006 Stanley Cup winner Laviolette
It was accompanied by a large color photo of Maurice. (View front page here - pdf)

The N&O’s senior editors continue to insist it's a serious, unbiased newspaper.

They're also trying to figure out how to reverse the N&O's circulation decline.

An interesting "conversation" re: Duke's National Union suit

An outstanding comment thread follows Duke filing against insurer comments & my responses. I urge all with an interest in the Duke lacrosse suits to read it, if you’ve not already done so.

I’m taking excerpts of four comments and posting them here because together they make a very interesting “conversation.”

The first comment on the thread is from Drew and included - - -

. . . I should point out that I am not an expert in university or not-for-profit insurance. As a result, I am largely unfamiliar with what Duke has characterized as an "I&O" policy. Nonetheless, the manner in which they describe the policy sounds very similar to a Directors + Officers Liability policy, with which I have more than passing experience.

These policies do indeed cover "wrongful acts", and do describe what those wrongful acts are.

However, Duke's lawsuit seems to drive too hard on only one small portion of the insuring agreement (i.e., the "wrongful act[s]"), without making any reference to the many exclusions that no doubt are also a large portion of the policy.

I suspect that we could all agree that some wrongful acts occurred in Durham in 2006.

The fundamental question, however, is whether or not they fall within the insuring agreement in the policy (the fact that it was not appended to Duke's filing suggests to me that their counsel would not like to have the full policy subject to review), AND are not excluded by the policy's other provisions.

In insurance claims work, the process is usually rather simple - you determine whether an occurrence took place (was there a loss?); whether it falls within the insuring agreement (is it potentially covered by the policy?) and then whether or not the loss/occurrence is excluded by the policy.

All the definitions, conditions, endorsements, etc. that are attached to most policies are there to provide some contractual insight into how to address the three questions above.

My suspicion is that National Union (who are not a bunch of rubes who just fell off the turnip truck in matters such as this) was compelled to acknowledge Duke's initial notice of the case; thus, the letter advising that the events were "potentially" covered.

But they also "reserved rights", which is a nice way of saying that they didn't think there was going to be coverage in the claim, and would continue to investigate the second and third of the questions above.

That investigation is not yet complete; however, Duke has always had the opportunity to "go it alone" (as they appear to have done) with the proviso that they could force National Union to cover 100% of the claim (subject to some conditions regarding the policy's limit of liability) in the event that Duke is/was successful in arguing that the claim is in fact a covered event.

Personally, my opinion has long been that the retention of Jamie Gorelick as counsel for Duke in the underlying claims is the tip-off that Duke has parted ways with its insurers.

Ms. Gorelick is not the type of lawyer that competent insurers like National Union would retain to defend its insured; National Union would insist on counsel who is familiar with the insurance specialty, and is an accomplished litigator.

Ms. Gorelick and her firm are lightweights in the type of litigation involved in the underlying legal actions, and (my opinion here) was likely selected for their political and lobbying connections.

There are plenty of other lawyers without such name recognition and/or Washington insider status that have far better track records in actually defending these types of claims successfully. National Union would likely have insisted on such a firm to defend itself (as the indemnitor of Duke), rather than go with the PR-type firm.

The ultimate resolution of this matter will likely not take place very publicly, as National Union's reply brief will likely start to lay out "minor" things such as the applicable exclusions from the policy, and their reading of the action(s) taken by Duke and DUMC based on the presumed extensive cooperation National Union has had under the terms of the policy.

If, in fact, Duke provided National Union with the cooperation that I fully suspect that NU demanded, it would certainly be out of character vis-a-vis Duke's other comments in this matter.

Duke's case in general is some measure of proof that their counsel are not familiar litigators in this type of matter, and that the University seems to be relying on its reputation and brand name to insulate it from any adverse outcome. I'm sorry to say that I believe this is one instance where Duke will not be able to BS their way through the legal system, nor can they rely on their reputational capital to get them off.

Further down the thread BN made two successive comments which I’ve excerpted and place here as one.

From BN - -

Duke stated in its filing that it notified the insurance company on March 30, 2006. This date becomes very relevant. The lacrosse players' attorneys in the civil suits will have a strong argument that this was the date that Duke first believed that it could face future litigation from its actions.

As such, Duke would have been required to preserve all related documents ( letters, e-mails etc.) as of March 30,2006 and going forward.

There was a meeting on March 29, 2006 which was attended by [the DU police director Robert Dean and Dean’s supervisor, VP for Campus Security Aaron Graves] and a number of Durham officials including city manager Baker, police chief Chalmers, deputy chief Hodge, Gottlieb , Himan and an attorney from DPD. [I’ve been told the police attorney was Toni Smith. - - JinC].

This was not, I believe, merely a case status meeting, as has been reported based on responses from Durham officials and John Burness , who did not even attend.

This many senior officials and an attorney typically would not attend a routine meeting. I believe that there were several important issues discussed at that meeting which involved Duke's cooperation with and/or tacit approval of some very questionable and/or illegal activities, namely

1) Request for the players' key card information for March 13 and 14, 2006. This was provided, in violation of FERPA, by DUPD to DPD on 3/31/06. Two months later Duke officials conspired with Durham authorities in an elaborate cover up scheme involving the issuance of fraudulent subpoenas. [That cover-up scheme involved Nifong formally requesting that Duke provide him the FERPA-protected key card information Duke had already given him on March 31, and Duke going along with the deception by, among other things, sending letters to the players requesting their consent to release the protected information. - - JinC]

2) Players' DNA testing results from the SBI lab, which Durham authorities ( Nifong/police) knew were negative as early as 3/28/06. . . .

This was not, in my opinion, a status meeting. This was a meeting to solicit Duke's cooperation in the prosecution ( persecution ) of the lacrosse players.

Drew responded to BN - - -

Thanks for reminding me about the keycard data issue. I had neglected that earlier. This was clearly an act by Duke personnel (almost assuredly with senior management approval) that was clearly in violation of the FERPA act.

In other words, an illegal act condoned/committed by Duke, the insured in the soon-to-be famous I&O policy issued by National Union. [all emphasis added]

Insurance protection against illegal acts is against public policy in virtually every jurisdiction in the country; thus, National Union already has the means to invoke that exclusion in their policy.

Based on the dates of the events (if what we read is correct), the filing of Duke's notice of a potential occurrence (bear in mind that they [Duke] did not yet have a claim made against them) following the illegal act would likely negate coverage altogether, since National Union could argue (probably rather easily) that Duke's notice was made in bad faith, since they knew their own personnel had already broken the federal law.

It shouldn't be too difficult to get one of the lower-echelon employees that Duke will try to throw under the bus to testify that Duke's senior management was aware of the key card matter at the time they filed with National Union.

Don't put your money on Duke in the ensuing litigation with National Union.

AIG's claims people are too smart and experienced to allow their own underlings to deny payment in a claim that could be potentially such a large PR issue. My suspicion is that National Union has very good policy language, law, and facts on their side.

It will be fun to watch.


I thank Drew, BN and every other commenter on what is an informed and judicious thread.


The Churchill Series - Dec. 4, 2008

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

In Summer, 1975, a certain Dr. Merry informed London Daily Telegraph readers that Churchill drank too much. What's more, the good doctor said he felt sure Churchill's drinking influenced his judgement and led him to make decisions which lengthened WW II.

Well, as you might guess, many readers were unwilling to swallow Dr. Merry's concoctions. Here's what two of them said in letters to the editor:

"The inappropriately named Dr. Merry is undoubtedly correct when he says that Sir Winston Churchill was responsible for lengthening the war. Had it not been for Churchill the war would have ended much earlier in Britain's defeat."

M. A. Wicking
Tunbridge Wells.

"What did Lincoln say when it was reported to him that Grant was getting through a bottle of whisky a day? 'Fine, find out what brand and send a case with my compliments to all the other generals.'"

Leon Drucker
If we met them, I bet we'd all say to Wicking and Drucker, "Cheers."
The Churchill Centre:
Action This Day, Summer, 1975, page.(Scroll down)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Des Moines Register lets cartoonist go. Now what?

The DM R reports - - -

The Des Moines Register is eliminating jobs for 41 employees because of worsening economic situations, publisher Laura Hollingsworth announced today.

Another 15 open positions will not be filled, she said, and four employees volunteered for a severance package.

Among the positions cut was the newsroom’s editorial cartoonist, Brian Duffy, who has been in that position since 1983. The Register had claimed to be the only newspaper in the United States with an editorial cartoon on the front page.

The tradition extended back to at least the early 20th century, according to Register archives.

Ted Rall, the president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, estimated that about 20 editorial cartoonists have been laid off or retired in the last three years. …

The rest of the DMR’s story’s here.

Brian Duffy and Ted Rall are two of MSM’s best known liberal/leftist newspaper cartoonists.

“Liberal/leftist” and MSM “newspaper cartoonists” are close to a redundancy: the overwhelming majority of MSM newspaper cartoonists are liberals/leftists.

I don’t know where Duffy will find another job that’ll pay him a salary and benefits for knocking out a handful of cartoons every week that fit nicely with the DMR’s political biases.

But I wish him well.

I also have some advice for the financially beleagueded DMR: Use Duffy’s departure as an opportunity to strengthen your balance sheet.

I’m not thinking about his salary and benefits money you’ll save.

You already know about that.

My advice is consider treating the space Duffy’s cartoons have occupied on your front page as advertising space.

Don’t go: “Gasp! Horrors!”

British newspapers regularly sell ad space on their front pages.

The best and the worst of them do it.

You could use the added revenue to improve the severance packages you’re offering employees.

You don’t like that idea?

Then what about this: Do you pay any health care benefits to your carriers?

You know most newspapers don’t.

The ad revenue generated by sales of front page ads could at least be used to pay the carriers a better wage which would be some help toward meeting their health care costs.

Think about it.

I’ll post again tomorrow on the topic of front page ad sales by American newspapers.

McClatchy’s top news exec leaving

McClatchy’s Sacramento Bee reports - - -

Howard Weaver said today that he is retiring as vice president of news for The McClatchy Co., ending an extraordinary journalism career that won him two Pulitzer Prizes.

Weaver, 58, will leave The Bee's parent at year's end. He said he "always wanted to have a Phase 2 career," although he hasn't yet figured out what that next phase will bring. He might try some non-journalistic writing, he said.

"It's exhilarating rather than scary," he said.

A former Bee editor, Weaver oversees McClatchy's news bureaus in Washington and overseas, as well as the company's interest in McClatchy-Tribune Information Services, a news operation jointly owned by Tribune Co. of Chicago. He also consults with the top editors of every McClatchy newspaper, and has been an ardent cheerleader in the company's drive to embrace the Internet.

"Howard wholeheartedly embraced the digital age and saw an important place in it for McClatchy journalism," said McClatchy Chairman and Chief Executive Gary Pruitt. He said the company will look for a replacement.

Weaver's only regret about retiring is "a sense of walking away in the middle of a fight," he said.

That's a reference to the challenges confronting newspapers as the economy sinks and business bleeds away to the Web. McClatchy's own profits, revenue and stock price have dropped sharply in the past two years, and some analysts have questioned whether newspapers can survive.

Weaver said the next year or two will be extremely tough, but he's convinced "there's a stable, prosperous place out there where an independent McClatchy Co. can practice public service journalism." . . .

The rest of SacBee’s story’s here.

Post mortem question: Did Weaver jump or was he pushed?

I’ll be checking in at McClatchy Watch to see what folks there say.

Hat tip: Louisiana Wise Man

NBC urged to “come clean” on analyst’s ethics problems

Yesterday I posted Viewers challenge NBC & Williams' silence on McCaffrey's conflicts.

The short of it: NBC execs and NBC News anchor Brian Williams are refusing to comment on NY Times’ stories exposing NBC military analyst Barry McCaffrey’s glaring conflicts of interests stemming from his financial involvements with defense contractors. NBC viewers are slamming Williams at an MSNBC blog where he posts.

I said in the Internet Age NBC and Williams will be forced to stopped stonewalling and offer viewers some kind of explanation, however lame.

NBC and Williams are still stonewalling.

Media Matters for America blog County Fair, which self-describes as” a media blog featuring news links and progressive media criticism from around the web,” today posted - "Brian Williams can't escape the NBC military analyst controversy on his blog."

It begins:

Media Matters' David Brock isn't the only one urging NBC execs to come clean regarding their role in the pressing Pentagon Pundit scandal.
That’s followed by examples of sharp criticisms from commenters at MSNBC’s blog.

County Fair’s post ends asking:
Will Williams ever acknowledge his readers concerns? Or is his blog just a p.r. vehicle to drum up viewers?
I’ve already given my answer to the first question.

As to the purpose of his blog, if Williams keeps stonewalling he’ll drive away viewers just as the Raleigh News & Observer’s stonewalling of readers questioning its biased, racially inflammatory and often false Duke lacrosse coverage has led many of those readers to lose interest in the N&O and seek out more reliable news sources.

The Internet makes that possible just as its made it harder for news orgs to mislead the public.

But, Lord knows, many news orgs are still trying.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Churchill Series - Dec. 3, 2008

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

Readers note: I've previously published this post. It always makes me smile, as I hope it does you today.


We often read of Churchill's participation in broad strategy planning during World War II. But he also immersed himself in details. He did it partly because he had to be always ready to answer for his war leadership to the Cabinet, Commons and the public. And he did it partly to enable himself to more effectively discuss and influence government policies and war strategy. And then there's the fact that all his life he was a detail person.

Here's an example of Churchill gathering details:


Prime Minister to Colonel Jacob

Let me have on one sheet of paper lists showing at present time and in September last the strength of British Home Forces in (a) rifles and S.A.A.; (b) artillery - including all types of field and medium guns under one head; and also coast defense batteries, and also A.A. both heavy and light; (c) number of "I" tanks and cruiser tanks in the hands of the troops; (d) ration and rifle strength of the fighting formations, (e) number of divisions and brigade groups; (i) on the beaches, (ii) behind the beaches in Army or G.H.Q. Reserve or otherwise; (f) strength of fighter aircraft available for action at the two dates; (g) strength and weight of discharge of bomber aircraft at the two dates; (h) strength of flotillas in home waters at the two dates.

Very general and round figures will do. Don't go too much into details.
We can wonder what Colonel Jacob thought when he read that "general and round figures" would do; and that he needn't "go too much into details."
Winston S. Churchill,
The Grand Alliance. (p. 756)

Will Franken need the Senate Dems?

It’s starting to look that way.

Posted this evening at

…Using the secretary of state's website, which breaks out from the total all of the challenged votes, Coleman had picked up 88 votes after Tuesday in the recount and extended his lead to 303 votes. …
As election law and ACORN critic John Fund and others have warned, we may be heading toward a situation where Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid and his fellow Senate Democrats step in and fix things so Franken “wins.”

Viewers challenge NBC & Williams' silence on McCaffrey 's conflicts

From Privacy Digest - - -

The New York Times's David Barstow, whose excellent and aggressive journalism led to the uncovering last April of the Pentagon's domestic propaganda program involving network "military analysts," today returns to this topic with another lengthy front-page exposé.

Barstow focuses today on the numerous, undisclosed conflicts of interest of Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who continues to be featured frequently by NBC News as an objective analyst as opines about war policies in which he has a substantial (and concealed) financial stake.

Some of the key facts which Barstow reports concerning the improper behavior of McCaffrey and NBC News were documented all the way back in April, 2003, in this excellent article from The Nation, which Barstow probably should have credited today.

That article -- entitled "TV's Conflicted Experts" -- detailed the numerous defense contractors to which McCaffrey had a substantial connection -- including Mitretek, Veritas and Integrated Defense Technologies, all featured by Barstow today -- and highlighted how the policies and viewpoints McCaffrey was advocating as a "military analyst" on NBC directly benefited those companies. ...

PD's entire post's here.

So far Williams and NBC are refusing to comment on the NYT's latest.

But at MSNBC's The DailyNightly blog, viewers are speaking up.

Williams' puffy post about traffic in New Jersey and Thanksgiving shopping drew such comments as this from Alan Nelson - - -

I'd like to hear an explanation from you rather than the NBC pr department speaking to this weekend's revelations in the New York Times that Barry McAffrey has been promoting his private defense industry interests in the guise of "expert commentary" on NBC News.

This is corruption at its most insidious, influence peddling masquerading as objective commentary. I would expect better from NBC News.

Tim asked - - -

Any plans for Mr. Williams, Anchor and Managing Editor, to address the latest NYT's article in a non-spin, serious manner? Or will your organization continue to dismiss and belittle serious journalism just because it is embarrassing to NBC and Mr Williams, Anchor and Managing Editor?

From gkokoris - - -

Mr. Williams,

How long will it be before your conscience or your shame compels you to publicly, and honestly, address NBC's disgraceful promotion of General McCaffrey as as an independent military analyst?

The NYT's article is a devastating indictment of your shoddy journalistic ethics, and your ongoing efforts to obscure or dismiss this scandal.

The story has only grown since the initial reporting in April of '08. You need to offer more than snide dismissals, defensive back-pedaling, or protestations of innocence.

There was a time Williams and NBC could stiff viewers on the McCaffrey story.

But not in the Internet Age with the NYT pumping out the news and viewers putting it right to Williams and NBC on Williams' post thread.

It will properly be lame, but look for some kind of statement soon from Williams and NBC. And look for less McCaffrey on NBC.

I'm going to try to watch NBC News tonight.

More on this story tomorrow.

Hat tip: Romenesko

Duke filing against insurer comments & my responses

On the thread of Duke filing against insurer in connection with lax suits are comments I mainly want to bring to you attention and thank the commenters.

Reader comments are in italics; my responses in plain

Ex-prosecutor said...

There is one aspect of this latest lawsuit which should be very interesting to those of us following this unfolding situation.

In the civil rights suit brought by the players against various defendants, the defense lawyers, as I recall, were successful in getting a ruling that discovery (depositions, production of most documents, etc.) will be postponed until the judge rules on the defendants' summary judgment motions.

The judge will decide which, if any of the plaintiffs' claims do not make out a legal basis upon which recovery can be based. If some of the claims are dismissed as a matter of law, depositions and discovery of documents will be limited to the surviving claims and defendants.

The civil rights suits are breathtaking in their complexity and length, so it may take and judge and his law clerks awhile to make a ruling.

However, as to Duke's claims against its insurance carrier, one of the company's main defenses, I expect, will be that the misdeeds of Duke officials triggered an exclusion to the policy, so it does not cover Duke.

What makes this defense interesting is that to determine exactly what the Duke officials did, the insurance company should be able to depose the Duke officials and employees and obtain copies of relevant documents. Ultimately, copies of some depositions may be filed with the court clerk, meaning that they will be available for public review.

It's likely that a copy of the policy is attached as an exhibit to Duke's lawsuit. An examination of it would show what acts are excluded from coverage.

I’ve nothing to say to Ex-prosecutor except “thank you.”

Jim in San Diego said...

This is an intriguing development in the Lacrosse case.

Jurisdictions of which I have knowledge prohibit insurers from covering or defending against claims for intentional wrongs.

This prohibition if for obvious policy reasons. If you could insure in advance for committing an intentional wrong, you could "buy" the right to do a wrong. (This was done in Medieval times through purchase from the Church of advance dispensations for sins the purchaser intended to commit. It is frowned upon here.)

The insurer would not have lightly refused to pay defense costs in a case like this. Thus, they must have a reason, and a good reason.

Discovery in the insurance case, which will begin very soon, will be fascinating.

“Thank you” to Jim, too. And welcome back. It’s good to have you commenting again.

Steve in New Mexico said - - -

You two guys offer articulate, literate, informative and yes Jim, fascinating comments. Thank you from a regular reader for the time and effort you take to make them.

Yes, they do, Steve. And so do you and many other JinC commenters who add to the blog.

Anonymous @ 9:51 - - -

John - I love your work, but you have some factual errors in your write-up.

The "McFadyen et al lawsuit" (3 plaintiffs) is being managed by the attorney R. Ekstrand.

The "Carrington et al lawsuit" (38 plaintiffs) is being managed by the attorney C. Cooper.

Keep up the good work.

Anon was right. I made the corrections and put a readers note at the head of post in which I noted a correction had been made, referenced Anon’s comment on the thread and thanked Anon.

I also added this comment to the thread - - -

To Anon @ 9:51,

Thanks for combining a very helpful piece of editing with some nice words for me.

I appreciate your help to me and others who'll read the post.



I’ll wrap with this:

Since both Duke and National Union surely went a long way to avoid the suit Duke’s brought, the cause(s) and degree(s) of difference(s) between the two must be huge, vital and viewed by both as irresolvable so that in Duke’s case, it brought a federal suit against National Union, and, in NU’s case, it's chosen to face a suit in federal court rather then accede to Duke’s indemnity requests.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Churchill Series - Dec. 2, 2008

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

Readers Note: Today I found the following post prepared for publication in Dec. 2005.

It appears it wasn't published. I can't explain why not.

Whatever the case, I'm happy to publish it today.


A November, 2005 press release from a UK National Achieves says:

A document unearthed today as part of Archive Awareness Campaign, and as part of National Tree Week, reveals that Winston Churchill was not only a fearsome wartime leader but also a keen environmentalist.

A concerned member of the public wrote to Churchill in 1954 to warn him of the decimation of forests throughout Surrey as well as the lopping of trees in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. Churchill was sufficiently concerned to request a "special note" on this subject.

He wrote to the Minister of Works:
"What is this you have been doing in the parks? Let me have a special note. It is a dreadful thing to cut down a tree which has life in it."
The Minister of Works replied straight away, defending the lopping and chopping as necessary. When trees were in old age, diseased or were dangerous they would be destroyed but replanting was going on at the same time. The document, held at The National Archives in Kew, West London, records the whole correspondence and shows that Churchill was satisfied that responsible tree-felling was taking place
No doubt Churchill was satisfied with “responsible tree-felling." He did a lot of that at his home, Chartwell, where he ordered trees cut to improve views and allow for building.

Churchill was a "keen environmentalist" as the term was used in his day. He built gardens and fish ponds. He loved to be out in the countryside steeple-chasing, polo-playing, fox-hunting, and grouse and stag shooting.

But would Churchill qualify as a "keen environmentalist" today? What would he make of a Barbara Streisand owning a 10 thousand gallon, heated pool while urging other woman to hang clothes on a line to save energy? Or Robert Kennedy Jr. criticizing as energy hogs people who drive SUVs while Kennedy owns four large houses and frequently travels by private jet.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, those three keen environmentalists: Barbra Streisand, Winston Churchill, and Robert Kennedy Jr.

No, it doesn't work, does it.

Duke filing against insurer in connection with lax suits

Readers Note: As first published, this post contained two citation errors as you'll see if you read the comment thread. The errors have now been corrected.

My thanks to the Anon who called them to my attention.


A Dec. 1 Chronicle story begins - - -

Duke has filed suit seeking compensatory and punitive damages from National Union Fire Insurance Company for refusing to pay the expenses of the University's settlements with members of the 2005-2006 men's lacrosse team.

The suit stems from a dispute between Pittsburgh-based National Union-an affiliate of American Insurance Group, Inc.-and United Educators Insurance, another company with which Duke has a policy, The (Durham) Herald-Sun reported Nov. 26. The two insurance companies are wrangling over who is obligated to cover the University's legal expenses for a settlement with the three wrongly indicted former lacrosse players, sources told The Herald-Sun. …

The entire Chronicle story’s here.

I’ve read the Duke and Duke Health Systems complaint filing. (pdf)

The complaint says National Union has failed to pay any compensation not only in connection with actions brought by members of the 2005-2006 men’s lacrosse team, but by Coach Mike Pressler as well.

In addition to the settlement with the three wrongly indicted students later declared innocent by the NC attorney general, separate suits have been brought by three team members (called McFadyen suit in Duke’s filing; more often called the Ekstrand suit), thirty-eight team members and some parents (called Carrington suit ) and Kyle Dowd’s now settled suit in response to grade retaliation.

All those actions are specifically mentioned in the Duke filing as resulting in expenses for which Duke maintains National Union must indemnify it.

There is nothing in Duke’s filing that speaks to a dispute between insurance companies as to which of them must indemnify Duke.

That may simply be because that material doesn’t belong in the filing.

Still, I’m very eager to read the reason(s) National Union gives in its response for its refusal to date to pay one dime in connection with any of the legal actions brought against Duke in connection with its disgraceful and mismanaged Duke lacrosse case actions and inactions.

The Raleigh News & Observer’s account of Duke’s filing is here; the Durham Herald Sun’s account’s here.

None of the three newspapers mentions a date by which National Union must respond.

I have a call in now to its legal office in New York City and will let you know what I learn.

Rare for Indians to carry guns

In a SpiegelOline International Mumbai commentary the following left me thinking how rare it is for Indian civilians to carry guns, something I’m sure the terrorists took into account when they planned their raid.

They walked the streets in pairs and killed anything that moved.

They slaughtered dozens of people in the train station, moving platform to platform.

They killed random passersby on the streets. They dropped in on a famous café and massacred everyone they could.

They shot down an old couple who had looked out their window to see what was going on.

They blasted people eating in restaurants.

They took over two of the city's most famous hotels and hunted down people room to room in hotels, some of whom managed to survive for days before being murdered. ...
The entire article’s here.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Churchill Series - Dec. 1, 2008

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

Something different today.

Todd Ronnei has collected Churchill stamps and covers for 20 years. On November 30 he posted at his Web site a birthday tribute page in honor of the man many of us regard as the greatest Englishman of all time.

You can visit Ronnei’s site here. His birthday tribute here includes a photocopy of an envelope addressed and mailed in England the day of Churchill’s birth.

He sells some Churchill stamps and commemorative covers. See here.

I know very little about stamp and cover collecting but Ronnei has a good reputation and some of his items are only a few dollars.

Economist’s Mumbai article stands out

The Mumbai terrorist attacks have spawned a lot of seat-of-the-pants and just plain wrong reporting and commentary.

But there’s been some careful reporting and thoughtful commentary, too.

Of everything I’ve read coming out of Mumbai, I’d put this Economist,com article – “Terrorism in India: Mumbai counts the cost” – near the top of the “careful, thoughtful” category.

The article closes noting some major political, security and social issues Mumbai and India face. Its last sentence wraps with a wise reminder for India and her friends:

India’s friends and neighbours can hope for a measured reaction, but they should not assume it. After an attack on its national parliament in 2001, India mobilised hundreds of thousands of troops on the border with Pakistan.

The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), then in power, routinely accuses its successor, the Congress party, of being soft on terrorism.

The desperate spectacle in Mumbai could damage Congress's prospects in pending state polls and even cost it the next general election, which must be held by May. The BJP is now choosing its words carefully but a front-page newspaper advert, presumably commissioned before the Mumbai attacks, accused Congress of being “incapable and unwilling” to fight terror; a sentiment illustrated with a large splatter of blood.

The Indian government, in turn, hopes for restraint from its own people, particularly in crowded, polyglot Mumbai.

The metropolis is sometimes called “Maximum City”, because it is always pressed up hard against its limits. Its commuter trains are crushed with passengers each morning; its squalid slums hum with industry and ambition. No other city in India bears such colossal inconveniences with such phlegmatic grace.

No Mumbaikar would describe the city as liveable; yet many Mumbaikars cannot imagine living anywhere else.

But this attack on its people and landmarks represents an enormous test of Mumbai’s civic temperament. Its assailants may have wished to provoke a backlash against Muslim inhabitants—which in turn would help to radicalise India’s vast Muslim minority.

Even after the last of the terrorists have been killed or captured, that is how they could still hope to win.
The entire article's here.

A good news report

from delawareonline - - -

Victim shoots man during robbery try
Holdup suspect tells police he was hit by gang of men

The News Journal

An armed robber who tried to stick up a man Monday night ended up getting shot when the victim pulled out his own gun, police said.

The would-be bandit later told police he was shot by a gang of men who tried to rob him.

The initial holdup happened at 5:45 p.m. in the first block of Chesterfield Drive in Garfield Park, north of New Castle, said Cpl. Trinidad Navarro, a New Castle County police spokesman.

While officers were on their way there, they got another call from the same vicinity about a man who said he was wounded by men who tried to rob him, Navarro said.

Officers talking to the first victim were told that he was taking items out of his car when two men walked up to him and stuck an object he believed to be a gun in his side.

The 37-year-old victim said he thought the assailants were going to shoot him, so he pulled out his own 9 mm handgun and fired one round at them.

The victim wasn't sure whether he hit anyone but heard a loud moan. He then saw the two would-be robbers run in the direction of Bizarre Drive.

Officers who later interviewed the wounded 18-year-old at a home on Bizarre Drive were told he was shot by a group of men who attempted to rob him on Briarcliff Drive.

The man, who suffered a gunshot wound to the upper chest, was reported in stable condition at Christiana Hospital.

Officers investigating the first case on Chesterfield Road recovered the gun from the victim who had placed it in a safe place.

Investigators are now holding the gun as evidence while they continue to investigate, Navarro said.

No charges have been filed pending the outcome of the investigation.

Anyone with information may call Detective Thomas Abram at 395-8110 or Delaware Crime Stoppers at (800) TIP-3333.

It’s a shame a peaceful citizen is set up to be a crime victim. Thank goodness he had a gun with which to defend himself and others who the would be robbers might have targeted later that night.


My favorite comment on the story thread - - -

What a heartwarming story for the Holiday Season. It is people like this man that was being robbed that show the generosity to share a bullet with a robber that make this country great. God Bless him.

Hat tip: Instapundit

The blame America for Mumbai game

You knew it would be played. You knew you’d read and hear it from the usual blame America first, most and always news orgs such as NPR, the NYT, the BBC, the AP, Reuters and CNN.

But did you think the “blame America” slanders along with their “excuse the Muslims” corollaries would begin even while Mumbai authorities were still counting the dead?

From WSJ editorial writer Dorothy Rabinowitz - - -

If the Mumbai terror assault seemed exceptional, and shocking in its targets, it was clear from the Thanksgiving Day reports that we weren't going to be deprived of the familiar, either. Namely, ruminations, hints, charges of American culpability that regularly accompany catastrophes of this kind.

Soon enough, there was Deepak Chopra, healer, New Age philosopher and digestion guru, advocate of aromatherapy and regular enemas, holding forth on CNN on the meaning of the attacks.

How the ebullient Dr. Chopra had come to be chosen as an authority on terror remains something of a mystery, though the answer may have something to do with his emergence in the recent presidential campaign as a thinker of advanced political views.

Also commending him, perhaps, is his well known capacity to cut through all sorts of complexities to make matters simple. No one can fail to grasp the wisdom of a man who has informed us that "If you have happy thoughts, then you make happy molecules."

In his CNN interview, he was no less clear. What happened in Mumbai, he told the interviewer, was a product of the U.S. war on terrorism, that "our policies, our foreign policies" had alienated the Muslim population, that we had "gone after the wrong people" and inflamed moderates. And "that inflammation then gets organized and appears as this disaster in Bombay." …

Two subsequent interviews with Larry King brought much of the same -- a litany of suggestions about the role the U.S. had played in fueling assaults by Muslim terrorists, reminders of the numbers of Muslims in the world and their grievances.

A faithful adherent of the root-causes theory of crime -- mass murder, in the case at hand -- Dr. Chopra pointed out, quite unnecessarily, that most of the terrorism in the world came from Muslims.

It was mandatory, then, to address their grievances -- "humiliation," "poverty," "lack of education." The U.S., he recommended, should undertake a Marshall Plan for Muslims.

Nowhere in this citation of the root causes of Muslim terrorism was there any mention of Islamic fundamentalism -- the religious fanaticism that has sent fevered mobs rioting, burning and killing over alleged slights to the Quran or the prophet. Not to mention the countless others enlisted to blow themselves and others up in the name of God.

Nor did we hear, in these media meditations, any particular expression of sorrow from the New Delhi-born Dr. Chopra for the anguish of Mumbai's victims: a striking lack, no doubt unintentional, but not surprising, either.

For advocates of the root-causes theory of crime, the central story is, ever, the sorrows and grievances of the perpetrators. For those prone to the belief that most eruptions of evil in the world can be traced to American influence and power there is only one subject of consequence. . . .

So natural does it feel, now, to hold such views that their expression has become second nature.

Which is how it happens also that the U.S. is linked to the bloodletting in Mumbai, with scarcely anyone batting an eye, and Larry King -- awash perhaps, in happy molecules -- thanking guest Dr. Chopra for his extraordinary enlightenment.

Rabinowitz’s entire column here.

I hope you give it a read.

Hat tip:

Mumbai, Muslims and Other: Steyn has it right

Mark Steyn in the Washington Times - - -

When terrorists attack, media analysts go into Sherlock Holmes mode, metaphorically prowling the crime scene for footprints, as if the way to solve the mystery is to add up all the clues.

The Bombay gunmen seized British and American tourists. Therefore, it must be an attack on Westerners!

Not so, said Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria.

If they had wanted to do that, they would have hit the Hilton or the Marriott or some other target-rich chain hotel. The Taj and the Oberoi are both Indian-owned, and popular watering holes with wealthy Indians.

OK, how about this group that's claimed credit for the attack? The Deccan Mujahideen.

As a thousand TV anchors asked on Wednesday night, "What do we know about them?"

Er, well, nothing. Because they didn't exist until they issued the press release. "Deccan" is the name of the vast plateau that covers most of the triangular peninsula that forms the lower half of the Indian Subcontinent.. . .."

OK. So does that mean this operation was linked to al Qaeda? Well, no.

Not if by "linked to" you mean a wholly owned subsidiary coordinating its activities with the corporate head office.

It's not an either/or scenario, it's all of the above.

Yes, the terrorists targeted locally owned hotels. But they singled out Britons and Americans as hostages.

Yes, they attacked prestige city landmarks like the Victoria Terminus, one of the most splendid and historic railway stations in the world.

But they also attacked an obscure Jewish community center.

The Islamic imperialist project is a totalitarian ideology: It is at war with Hindus, Jews, Americans, Britons - everything that is other. , , ,

Steyn’s entire column’s here.

War on “everything that is other” nails it

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stunning Raleigh N&O circulation numbers

Last Tuesday, Nov. 25, readers of the McClatchy Company’s Raleigh News & Observer found splashed across the first page of the N&O’s Triangle & Co. section a story headlined “N&O photos still tell the hot stories.”

The story’s accompanied by a five-column-wide photo of the above the fold portion of the N&O's May 28, 1957 front page.

After scanning that 1957 N&O edition’s headline – “Legislators’ Liquor Arrives On Time” – I noticed a small item in the upper right-hand corner of the page.

It read:
Yesterday’s Paid Circulation – 125, 401.

The N&O’s May 28, 1957 announcement of paid circulation the previous day of 125,401 brought to mind a very recent post –
Raleigh N&O’s print circulation drops - in which I reported current N&O Sunday and weekly (M-F) paid print circulation.

Extract from that post - - -

According to the ABC [Audit Bureau of Circulations] … for the six-month period Apr-Sept. 30, 2008, the N&O had a daily circulation (M-F) of 159,000. (ABC circulation numbers and U. S. Census numbers to follow rounded to the nearest thousand)

Also according to the ABC, during the same [period] the N&O’s Sunday circulation [was] 206,000.

Now, readers, hold on to those numbers while I drop a few more numbers “on the table.”

At you'll find 1960 U.S. Census population for the N&O's home county - Wake- given as 169,000.

Also at you'll find July 1, 2007 U.S. Census population for Wake County given as 833,000.

Using the U.S. Census population numbers for 2007 and 1960, and subtracting from Wake's 2007 population (833,000) the 1960 Wake population of 169,000, yields a difference of 664,000.

Thus, according to U.S. Census reporting the population of Wake County grew between 1960 and 2007 by 664,000.

Now, if you take the ABC's N&O daily (M-F) print circulation finding of 159,000 for the period ending Sept. 30, 2008 and subtract from it the N&O's Monday, May 27,1957 print circulation of 125,000 (rounded to nearest thousand), you have a difference of 34,000.

So during the last half-century or so, the population of the N&O's home county and the core of its circulation area has grown by 664,000 while its daily (M-F) circulation has grown by 34,000.

If you're a McClatchy stockholder, an N&O advertiser, or an employee at the N&O, are the numbers in this post a surprise to you?

How about those of you who are N&O readers? Or those of you who are following the decline of what some media analysts call "the dead tree media?"

I found them stunning.

Look for more posts soon concerning the N&O's circulation.

Traveling today

Blogging resumes about 9 PM ET tonight.

Look for posts on some Raleigh N&O circulation history, Duke's disputes (now before a court) with its insurers who are refusing to pay for expenses in connection with suits growing out of Duke shameful response to the Mangum/Nifong lies and the frame-up attempt which followed, and a post concerning some now largly forgotten Jesse Jackson actions that are very much in character with the Jackson we know.


Attention Sen. Reid: Iraq War wasn’t lost

Investors Business Daily reminds us of that - - -

Nineteen months after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared the war "lost," a freely elected Iraqi Parliament signs a security pact with the United States. We won. It is the terrorists and their appeasers who lost.

While Americans sat down for Thanksgiving dinner deciding what they were thankful for, the Iraqi parliament Thursday passed an agreement with the U.S. that set a date certain for American withdrawal, as war critics wanted. But it was based on conditions on the ground, as the Bush administration insisted.

The conditions on the ground are that the jihadists are a spent force that lost the war as well as the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

Province after province has been returned to Iraqi control, and the young Iraqi nation appears both willing and able to defend itself. . . .

The entire IBS editorial's here.

Iraq still has a long struggle ahead before it secures the domestic peace typical of a stable democracy.

It will certainly come under attack from terrorists bent on destabilizing the country and increasing their own power.

It exists in a very rough part of the world where neighbors are often enemies.

It has an ethnically fractious population.

Corruption is a major problem that will hold back economic growth so essential to domestic peace and the ability of the country to arm and defend itself.

With all of that in mind, I can’t bring myself to says simply, “It’s over. We won.”
There are tough days and severe trial ahead of Iraq.

But it has a chance to become a functioning democracy with all the good that can be for its people, the Middle East and the world.

I wish the new Iraq well.

For President Bush, General Petraeus and our magnificent forces serving there and their families, my admiration and three full-throated cheers.

What about Sen. Reid? Has anyone heard from him lately?

Pakistan Now Won’t Send Intel Chief to India

Yesterday I posted India pressures Pakistan for terrorist intel. I said Pakistan’s agreement to send its ISI chief, rather than a subordinate, to New Delhi in response to a demand from Indian PM Singh had something of the feeling of a school boy being called to the Principal’s office and was a tacit admission of a Pakistan connection to the Mumbai.

Now with tensions and national feelings in both countries escalating, Pakistan has reversed itself.

From a Washington Post report:

. . .Pakistan reversed a decision to send its spy chief to aid India's investigation, saying it would send a lower-level official. But officials said they would help India identify and capture those behind the attacks.
The entire WaPo story's here.