“You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.”

Humanity is governed by minorities, seldom or never by majorities. It suppresses its feelings and its beliefs and follows the handful that makes the most noise. Sometimes the noisy handful is right, sometimes wrong, but no matter, the crowd follows it.

Oddly enough, Mark Twain’s quote comes from The Mysterious Stranger– in the world of blogs and message boards, mysterious strangers are the norm. Here, for example, I am known as Promise; but,by any name, am a modern day muckraker.

I still believe most do; but, I am no longer so green that I can’t spot a Yellow Kid or recognize comments made by those that reflect the British English application of the word to sensationalist scandal-mongering journalist, not driven by any social principles.

Allegations and indictments have, as Cowboy would say, slabbed the integrity of our State’s legal system. Grief is a natural response, and anger is a natural part of the grieving process. Scandal-mongering, however naturally it may come to some, is not anger – it’s the sensationalized stories or outright lying that caused Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, two icons of American journalism, to be known as the two Yellow Kids.

Pulitzer and Hearst are often credited (or blamed) for drawing the nation into the Spanish-American War…eventually resulting in…the most famous example of the exaggeration…a version of which appears in the Hearst-inspired film Citizen Kane – the apocryphal story that artist Frederic Remington telegrammed Hearst to tell him all was quiet in Cuba and There will be no war. Hearst responded Please remain.You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.

So – Who’s furnishing the pictures of Attorney General Hood and who’s furnishing the war on his integrity?

It would be less than honest not to acknowledge Hood himself is submitting a few snapshotsI didn’t care who (Scruggs) supported. I wasn’t crazy about being attorney general anyway.. – and equally dishonest not to consider the possibility Twain suggested – Often the surest way to convey misinformation is to tell the strict truth.

Yesterday’s edition of the Clarion Ledger generated a total of 160 reader comments from a front page story and three separate blog posts related to the allegation that indicted attorney Dickie Scruggs attempted to influence Hood.

Blogs started developing that picture on the 25th – that Jim Hood story was sitting there in Pacer at 7-8 PM or thereabouts. I started downloading stuff about then, and just didn’t get around to it till midnight.The first post was up early on the 26th and Holy S–t Balducci, State Farm, Jim Hood, Scruggs – all together in one paragraph appeared shortly therafter.

During the day related posts and news stories were linked to those already posted online.

Holy Cow! Do you see what this says? It says that Scruggs paid Balducci and Patterson half a million dollars to get Hood to back off the State Farm grand jury investigation. ..Seems to me that whole business needs to be explored some more, don’t you think? If this is true, doesn’t it qualify as some sort of improper influence of a public official?

By the evening of the 26th another picture was developing on the blogs – one chiding the old media are 24 hours behind the blogs…Actually, I’m going to frame this question more aggressively…What’s with the pros? – and, on the morning of the 27th, it was ready to print.

As you might expect, that $500,000 that Tim Balducci claims Dickie Scruggs (eventually, grudgingly) paid him and Steve Patterson to get Attorney General Jim Hood’s indictment of State Farm called off has made a splash in Mississippi’s largest newspapers this morning

On the 28th, the Yellow Kid went big time with a level of sensationalism that spread an outright lie coast to coast under the banner of none other than Legal News Line. Had it not been for my all time favorite blog post title – Why Legal News Line is fit only for the bottoms of virtual birdcages – the Yellow Kid’s nose would be longer than Pinocchio’s by now for claiming An FBI report released this week supported the headline Hood allegedly offered bribe from Scruggs.

The modest attempt to set the record straight – Editor’s note: The following story is a corrected version of an earlier article that contained many inaccuracies – fell far short of any measure of retraction. Shortly after daylight today, Legal News Line was back to the bottom of virtual birdcages – Too bad you didn’t notify The Google, LNL. I hope this helps them sue your ass for libel.

Attributing an outright lie to an FBI report can only be called an amazing act of hubris – far stronger evidence than documented in the defense Motion to Change Venue:

the print media blitz has been supplemented by Mississippi-based web logs (blogs) that report, in excruciating detail, every event in the prosecution and defense of the Scruggs criminal case; as well as their finding people piling on. Mr. Merkel. Mr. Tollison. The notion being at last he’s getting his comeuppance.

Judge Biggers called it one of the most thoroughly researched briefs I have ever seen; later adding, but it’s hard for me to believe there were no statements favorable to Dickie and denying the motion.

Considering the unanimous, accurate blog prediction of every ruling Judge Biggers made on the Defense Motions, Judge Biggers unquestioned integrity, and the assaults on Attorney General Hood, one can only wonder who’s providing the pictures and who’s providing the war – and where all these warriors are hidden.

The only thing proven thus far is attributed to Mark Twain:

Injurious truth has no merit over an injurious lie. Neither should ever be uttered. The man who speaks an injurious truth, lest his soul be not saved if he do otherwise, should reflect that that sort of a soul is not strictly worth saving.

23 thoughts on ““You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.””

  1. Thoughtful post Promise. The latest Jim Hood bash really contained nothing new regarding him as ostensibly he did not know about the money Mr. Balducci alleges Mr. Scruggs offered him (except in the minds of the people at Legal News Line).

    Cowboy brought up an interesting point yesterday on Sid Salter’s blog, how did State Farm’s lawyers come by that information? Mr. Hood was asked about that dinner meeting in Natchez weeks before this broke?

    Also missing in the analysis is the motivations of Mr Balducci. He has an incentive to come clean and if coming clean is not good enough for his federal handlers embellish in order to remain free. I find it interesting that some of the same commenters that cut Paul Minor, Jim Whitfield, Wes Teel and Don Siegleman alot of slack vis a vie their accusers accept Mr Balducci’s statements as 100% true even though “the evidence” he offers has not undergone the crucible of the court system.

    I

  2. Thank you, Sop – and “thoughtful” is right btw. : ) I’m not blind to what others are seeing; but, the pattern and rhythm of these recent events is similar to a “call and response” – and we’re definitely not in church.

    When I came across the history of “you provide the pictures and I’ll provide the war”, it fit the pattern – and it’s certain more polite than the term you finance guys use!

  3. Coastal Cowboy uses the term lynch mob which fits well in my opinion. None of us are blind to what has been reported but we have largely been getting one side of the story to this point.

    How anyone can make the “crook” determination based upon an incomplete set of facts, even if they have read every piece of paper thus far placed on PACER is hardly in a position to either chastise the “old media” or hold their opinions out as “professional”.

    At least “Old media” commenter Sid Salter has the guts to sign his name to his pieces, an inconvenient fact that evidently escapes our newly self proclaimed “new media” professionals in the blogosphere whom also evidently do not know the difference between news, opinion and why there must be a wall of separation between the two.

    This reminds me exactly how far ahead of his time Clarence Thomas appears for coining the phrase “high-tech lynching”.

    sop

  4. Nice try, boys.

    While you are applying whitewash to Dickie, you might as well take a whack at explaining the $50M to PL Blake. Any thoughts on what he could have done for Dickie that was worth that kind of money? The official testimony (by Dickie, under oath) was that it for making phone calls and clipping newspaper articles. Do you boys buy that?

    Pretty much every thinking person in America has figured out that Blake was a bagman, passing some subset of that money along to the various people that Dickie needed to grease. Do you disagree, or have you found some sort of innocent explanation?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  5. SOP811, I’d really like to know who had been talking to SF’s attorneys before the trial in Natchez. Veddy interestink! They were trying to prove that Hood and Scruggs were in cahoots when in fact SF and Scruggs were after the same results from Hood — to drop the charges. Ain’t that weird? No wonder the judge threw out the case. SF obviously knew this too when they went in because someone had been talking to them. It ain’t over until the fat lady sings.

  6. P.S. I think all those Scruggsmaniacs on the blogosphere owe our Attorney General Hood an apology. First he was supposedly in cahoots with Scruggs against SF and now we find out Scruggs had to pay someone $500,000 to influence him and it didn’t work! Balducci had to go try and bribe a judge to get his money. It sounds like he was really hurting for money.

  7. Mr Claims Guy with due respect I think your remark drove home Promise’s point. I agree with you that many people have made up their minds but the fact we are keeping an open mind with respect to the Scruggs criminal matter, Jim Hood and Trent Lott’s involvement does not mean we are white washing anything. It does mean that we have not seen all the evidence as Mr Scrugg’s day in court has not occured.

    Do we have opinions? Certainly we do. However there is a point that the speculation has taken on a life of it’s own, from the often repeated rumor involving Trent Lott and Judge Delaughter to the smear campaign against Jim Hood. Opinion confused as facts and portrayed as “news” in any criminal matter is not a good thing nor does it reflect well on some of the commenters.

    As for Mr Blake I share your concerns about his involvement in the tobacco settlement. However that is also an entirely different matter though one certainly worthy of further scrutiny.

    Bellesouth I too would like to know who has been sharing information with State Farm’s lawyers regarding Mr Balducci’s statements to the FBI. Perhaps they came by it a different way such as having Mr Hood under surveillance by a private detective. It is telling that no other blog engaged in active conversation on this matter has even broached the subject. Closed minds generally do not think outside the box though and that certainly appears the case here.

    sop

  8. BellSouth:

    Here is an interpretation.

    Skruggs wants Hood to go after SF and feeds him information. Hood has no problem with that concept because it certainly would appeal to voters.

    Skruggs gets a deal with SF, and wants Hood to back down. He does not want it to look like too much of a direct trail so uses intermediaries.

    Hood is not thrilled with the idea, but goes along because he doesn’t want to screw up a lawsuit that will potentially help voters. He may (or may not) understand that there is a sweetener in the deal for him. In any case he backs off.

    The deal is nixed. But Hood has made is agreement with SF.

    SF begins to dig in its heels and Hood realizes that he has royally screwed up. Hood tries to undo his deal with SF, and at least on the face of it: loses.

    So what do you get out of this situation? To allies working together who have similar, but not exactly the same, goals in mind. When the two allies ran into a slight variance in goals, the one ally got the other to do it their way through a combination of cajolery and enticement.

    Seems pretty plausible to me. Particularly as almost all of the needed activities are in the public record.

  9. The Spanish American War is arguably the first time that the US went to war by accident: if we say either Vietnam (with the Gulf of Tonkin Affair) or Iraq (with Curveball) as the second. The USS Maine probably sank due to an explosion of its unstable ammunition. These spontaneous explosions happened to a number of ships of the period. Just infrequently enough that the pattern was never noticed.

    The Maine is one of the better examples of a true black swan.

  10. Claim Guy, it’s the folks trying to paint our Attorney General into this picture puzzle me.

    If you follow the links, you’ll understand this post was about the influence of blog post and comments “providing the picture” that are “providing the war” on the Attorney General.

    That influence is very real and was cited by the Scruggs defense team in their Motion for Change of Venue – my reference to the Scruggs case was specific to that one motion.

    The Legal News Line story proves their point IMHO – but it’s also a story of the raging media war on the Attorney General.

    If you consider all the good insurance people who are casualties of the “insurance war”, you’ll get the picture of what’s happening to our Attorney General.

    What you’ve done is provide yet another example of blog comment continuing to ignore facts about the Attorney General and steamroll him into the picture of a different war.

  11. Russell: I posted this on Rossmiller’s site. I think it speaks to your scenario, but in less tainted way:

    “Scruggs and the Rigsbys have had attorney/relator relationship from the beginning. The Rigsbys brought a qui tam action

  12. Russell, try this – your perspective is very helpful.

    another view of interpretation –

    Hood goes after State Farm two weeks after Katrina August 29 meaning Hood filed his civil case the week after Labor Day.

    Scruggs lost his home to Katrina – SKG doesn’t appear until October as far as I can tell.

    All of this is taking place in 2005.

    Most people see Hood in secondary role to Scruggs; but I think it’s been the other way around and from that perspective I see Hood struggling to keep the State’s interest separate – Scruggs/SKG were one of many private practice attorneys with related cases filed after Hood.

    As sop said, not “defending” Hood or others – just trying to shut the “noise” out and figure things out.

  13. SOP:

    My comments have, to date, been confined to Scruggs. I have made no comments about Hood, Lott or others, so if this is about them, then I have driven home no one’s point.

    If you want to suspend judgment on Scruggs you are obviously welcome to do so, but for my money, the only question with Dickie is “will he get off” not “did he do it”.

    As for Hood, since you are all dying to talk about him, let’s. I think the main reason Hood has taken such a beating is that he is the chief law enforcement officer of the State and has had to have the Feds come in and clean up the mess made by his cronies. Then, rather than doing the right thing, stepping up and saying that he fully supports the prosecution and will do whatever he can to assist the Feds (that’s what a law enforcement officer would do), he hides under his desk for a couple of weeks. And finally, he gets thoroughly pantsed by State Farm when they jam the old settlement agreement down his throat (only after making him testify for the better part of a day). AND he gets his butt kicked so completely that he has to get the settlement made confidential.

    After a trifecta of shame like that, the proper thing to do would have been to resign and let someone with some stature and integrity hold the office, so it can be rehabilitated. But no: he has to sit there and issue his fairy tale announcements about how he won the matter with State Farm because it was dismissed. There isn’t a first year law student in the land that didn’t see that press release for the absurd bit of nonsense that it was.

    Having said all of that, am I saying that the guy is a crook? No. I have no idea whether he has broken any laws. Is Lott a crook? No idea.

    But anyone thinking that the guy deserves candy and flowers is delusional. And bloggers who call him out as the embarrassment that he is are not part of some scheme to accomplish a nefarious political goal. They are angry citizens who expect more from public servants and are bitterly disappointed at the performance of this one.

    If you want to set the bar so low that Hood’s conduct to date is acceptable, then you deserve what you get. But I believe in accountability for public servants, and I particularly believe that officers of the justice system should behave in a manner that is above reproach. He flunks those tests. If he had any sense of propriety and rightousness, if he had any internal moral compass at all, he would clear out and let someone more fit do the job. He shames it every day he stays.

  14. Mr Claims Guy I never said Jim Hood’s conduct was acceptable or unacceptable. At this point we really only know this, that he took a campaign contribution from a self admitted felon and a person under indictment. Unfortunately the same thing can also be said about George Bush, Bill Clinton and a host of other politicians.

    All the other criticisms you expressed have an alternative viewpoint as expressed by bloggers like Bellesouth but she has routinely been shouted down at places like Folo, the Clarion Ledger and the Insurance Coverage Law Blog.

    I’ve made it clear we welcome all viewpoints here including yours and Belle’s. I hope she stops by so you guys can exchange ideas about Mr Hood.

    sop

  15. Sop

    I think these are the main issue points:

    1)Did Hood take bribes from Lawyers that would go beyond the legally allowed campaign contributions?

    2)Did Hood cooperate with Scruggs or others in a way that was inappropriate in return for what otherwise would have been legal campaign contributions.

    3)Did Scruggs or others give contributions to Hood because his activities were helpful to them with no quid pro quo.
    —-
    4)Were Hoods activities an improper use of the power of the State with regard to his involvement in matters that where also the issues of civil litigation.

    5)Did Hood make sufficient use of his resources with respect to the insurance companies that led to a just and equatable resolution of their post Katrina obligations.

    The problem is that I see is that many have been arguing that #1 is true, when even with Balducci’s latest odd revelation, #2 is probably the most that could be reasonably surmised. They then drag in the issues of #4 & 5 to further their belief in #1. Which would not be a huge problem except that they act with a certitude that the evidence really doesn’t justify.

    The evidence against Scruggs is stronger, but most of it still rests with some rather odd conversations between Balducci and the Judge. If Balducci is believed, Scruggs used intermediaries with his illegal activities and seemed pretty cautious in his use of language. That caution will make him a very difficult person to prosecute. From what I have seen so far, I have not been that impressed. It will be interesting to see if Langston or Blake will be brought into the mix.

  16. Russell all your questions are fair and well stated. Based on what we know for certain I do not think any can be definitively answered. What makes answering those questions thoughtfully so difficult is drawing a line between politics and political maneuvering and criminal activity.

    Bellesouth is well versed in the MCI litigation for example, where Jim Hood contracted with Joey Langston for the litigation. Mr Langston recovered $100MM for the state plus several million for a couple of Mississippi non profits along with a court approved $14MM contingency fee for his law firm. The State was originally willing to settle this litigation for $10MM.

    Mr Langston was a large contributor to Mr Hood’s campaign. Mr Hood did not set the contingency fee.

    On the surface this case appears open and shut. Certainly politics entered into Mr Hood’s decision to let a large donor handle the case on contingency but there is no law against steering such work to friendly hands, in fact in politics here in Mississippi this happens all the time on both sides of the aisle.

    So a good result was achieved for the taxpayers and the right wing here in Mississippi has bitched a blue streak ever since. Mr Langston did not help matters by engaging in a bribery scheme that is still subject to investigation but again that case is unrelated to his arrangement with Mr. Hood.

    Other bloggers have formed their opinions, in many cases this is the same group that missed so badly on the Scruggs criminal contempt case. As you know from our time on the finance boards fitting selected facts to a pre conceived viewpoint is a recepie for disaster and that certainly appears to be the case at other sites.

    As for me I probably will not form final judgments about Mr Hood until the Scrugg’s case has been litigated fully.

    sop

  17. I’m not well versed in this subject matter, only whats been in the media and the overage has been slanted to the right since 2007. That may change after Holder half-ass investigates Murdoch.However, I know some of these guys and the prosecutors who fled like a diseased heard after the Scrugg’s guilty pleas. The media destroyed the Scruggs. They couldn’t have gotten a fair trial in Oxford.

    Zach didn’t know about the bribe! Someone, please post Dick’s 2255. He has a claim. Meanwhile, Casey Anthony walks for murdering her child. Your, right Sop Nowdy and you have been quite fair in your blogging on Scruggs related topics.

  18. Regardless what is known remember it’s Mississippi just-us, it may take a minute. This is the cherry atop the cake. It wasn’t a church. Most all these folks the lawfirms and others were blessed. $ 330 million or $2 billion $330 million came through the court in Hinds county. It was divided among the players who have answered to no one. How is it their names pop up in every Scruggs event? Where did the money for the tabacco litigation come from? A retired Navy polit ? Scruggs endavors started around the time of settlement actions of 251-98-1061 and the failed trial 251-96-493 before Graves. Connection?

    All this settled on one family as trial fails. Hood has an attorney from that action under his wing with Ricky Luke. Graves moves on from circuit court to supreme court MS. and next appointed to appeals court by Obama. Davia Baria attorney for the victims goes onto become state senator. Victims don’t even get a pot to piss in. BP, Black Famers, Katrina and Vicksburg are all fraudulent extortion plots held by attorneys unlawful use of authority.

    Who’s got the body bags?

  19. These made-up and exaggerated articles take advantage of the ignorance and laziness of the press and the public. There were three completely contradictory charges regarding Hood and Scruggs being put out at the same time and no one had enough sense to see that at least two of them had to be false.

    First, State Farm and its business press allies alleged, with no evidence, that Hood initiated the grand jury investigation in order to help Scruggs force a settlement.

    But then in Dec. 2006 or Jan. 2007, Scruggs and State Farm’s attorneys leaked (with the obvious fingerprints of Scruggs and Sheila Birnbaum) to Anita Lee that they had agreed on a settlement of Scruggs’ cases that was contingent on Hood dropping his investigation. It was in the newspaper to put public pressure on Hood to cave so that Scruggs’ VIP clients and others could get their money. It was also clear from the article that it was State Farm that linked the Scruggs settlement with Hood’s investigation.

    So if Scruggs and State Farm had to go public in the Sun Herald to pressure Hood to capitulate then Hood must not have been using the investigation for the purpose of helping Scruggs’ reach a settlement. Maybe Assistant AG Courtney Schloemer was actually investigating State Farm because its managers and adjusters had committed fraud.

    Also, since it was in the Sun Herald that Scruggs had a settlement windfall coming if only Hood would back down, there would be no reason for Scruggs to pay Balducci and Patterson to go tell Hood that. If B & P met with Hood to tell him that Scruggs would back an opposing AG candidate if Hood did not cave, it may have been their way of trying to weasel in on some of the settlement money, but it was something that Hood certainly already knew.

  20. Does Simpson have a chance against Hood? I don’t think the alleged Scruggs bribery 1 or 2 will have an impact on the electorate. Unless, the media or Simpson brings this up during re-election, even though the prosecutors lied to the court in order to obtain guilty pleas. Thats ok there the Feds, they can do what they want. Anyways, they still plead guilty, so will Simpson bring this up to help him get elected?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *