Monday, September 23, 2002


But No Man's Land is a goblin sight
When patrols crawl over at dead o' night;
Boche or British, Belgian or French,
You dice with death when you cross the trench

-James H. Adkin - No Man's Land

Jerry Finch, ombudsman for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, makes note of a sad passing. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs there are now no surviving veterans of the European Civil War (WWI) living in Virginia, and there are only an estimated 250 alive nationwide. There have been no public ceremonies, no public observances and no parades. The doughboys are mostly gone and largely forgotten.

Just as the American Civil War shaped the United States as we know it today, so too did the European Civil War shape the world order that was to follow. The Second World War was largely an outgrowth of problems created at the end of the First. By comparison, Reconstruction in the South was relatively benign and peaceful.

The last remaining veterans of the American Civil War were greatly honored and celebrated, both North and South. It’s a shame we haven’t done the same for the boys who went to Europe to at least try to make the world, in the words of Woodrow Wilson, “safe for Democracy.”
posted at 2:20 PM

James DiBenedetto points to a much-overlooked piece in The Washington Post about the Federal Election Commission finally getting “around to meting out punishment for the widespread and brazen campaign finance violations of the Democratic Party and specifically the Clinton-Gore campaign in 1996.” One of the more interesting aspects is that, according to The Post:

The FEC documents describe Democratic fundraisers who set specific prices for foreign nationals to make illegal campaign contributions in return for meetings with then-President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.

Some of the "contributions" were funneled through dummy corporations with no assets, which served merely as conduits for money from China and other countries. It gets worse.

I credit the fact that so little has been done until now to stonewalling by Janet Reno’s Department of Justice. To my mind this stinks worse than either Teapot Dome or The Whiskey Ring. The Clinton Administration put itself for sale to foreign interests, and the stench goes all the way to the top.

Peter Sean Bradley makes good points about medical malpractice awards, although his point about insurance rates being driven by changes in interest rates applies to virtually all types of insurance, not just professional malpractice.

He points out that perhaps no group is as favored by juries as are medical doctors and that liability caps may harm the victims of malpractice by preventing them from receiving appropriate compensation. My experience in Virginia is that the cap does do harm and that victims of serious malpractice may not receive enough to cover future medical expenses that result from the malpractice, let alone any compensation for life-long pain and suffering.

Something worth considering is that the really outrageous civil-liability jury verdicts are in product liability cases, not professional malpractice. And tort reform for product liability needs to be handled at the Federal level. This is because of problems with horizontal federalism whereby standards set by one state can become the de facto standard for all 50 due to interstate commerce and forum shopping. Plaintiff’s attorneys will generally file suit in the state most favorable to their cause, with the result being that citizens of the other 49 states have little say in the standards being applied to products being sold across the country.

The solution is not some arbitrary “cap” on awards. An arbitrary cap may result in gross under-compensation in some situations, and have no effect whatsoever on trivial cases that should never have been brought. True reform requires that liability standards for products in interstate commerce be set at the national level.

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