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Member since: Wed Jan 9, 2008, 11:31 AM
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House Ethics Committee quietly deletes requirements for members to disclose who pays for trips!

The National Journal reports that the House ETHICS COMMITTEE changed a 30 year requirement that came about after the Watergate scandal that Congressional House Members disclose how much and who pays for their lavish trips abroad on their yearly financial disclosure forms.

The Ethics Committee did this without public announcement, behind closed doors! Ethics? Does someone need to read them the definition of ethics?

This is why we need to start our protests on September 13, in cities around the country to get the money out of politics and have Publicly Funded National/State/Local Elections. It is a Saturday and a good time to start beating this drum through the mid-terms. Let's make these candidates squirm as all of their money starts really flowing!



Too bad it doesn't work that way. I have been watching people and businesses struggling and

going under waiting for Justice in the BP a Deepwater case. They have to sit and watch the phony BP propaganda commercials everyday for over 4 years telling everyone everything is just GREAT down on the Gulf Coast! They now watch as BP claims to be a victim of the Agreement they drafted because a few phony claims get by with the system they set up. The media will not report that this ABUSIVE Agreement denies 10's of thousands of valid claims because they did not financially recover in 2011 to fit the arbitrary formula for recovery. They also fail to mention the $600,000,000 reasons they gave the Judge's friends that were appointed on the Plaintiff's Steering Committee if the Class Settlement goes through to completion. Now most of the claims are locked in the Class Settlement and approximately 75% are being denied. Oh and by the way, the few that were paid under the old formula, BP is coming after them for their money back! The victims that opted out of the Class Settlement have to wait until it is over before they are allowed to even BEGIN their litigation because..., well because of no particular reason given by the Judge at all.

It is not your fault that you didn't know what we go through to seek justice for our clients. The media always portray us as the bad guys, Ambulance Chasers and what not. I am not putting us all up for sainthood for sure, we have our fair share of greedy assholes, like the PSC in the Deepwater case. But there are hundreds of Erin Brockovich's and attorneys such as the ones you see in the movies like "Class Action." Do they want to make money, sure, but they also want to make a difference. Look up Barry Scheck and The Innocence Project for another example. Want to help, next time they come screaming for more tort reform tell them to shove it up their corporate ass! Thanks!

Years of legal work by dozens of lawyer and their staffs, reams of documents, depositions,

motions, hearings, phone calls, and meetings with thousands of clients, and hundreds of thousands of case expenses, all at risk if the government declined to settle and the trials were lost. Instead they were successful and got paid. It is not all profit, those employees have to get paid every pay day, insurance, copiers, IT...., you know, jobs. Should they not recover anything? Do you not want to have law firms available when this happens and the government, or a big company like BP come after YOU!

Big Plaintiffs firms are actually struggling to stay afloat now that Big Business has convinced everyone that we are the bad guys. Tort reform was passed everywhere limiting your rights and our ability to protect YOU! BP had 400 of the top of their class lawyers going against us in the BP Texas City explosion in March of 2005, we had 10. They dumped 7 million documents on us and we read 7 days a week, 16 hours a day and hired every available law clerk/students in the Houston area, but we did it. We found where they budgeted for their workers lives because they chose not to fix the most dangerous problems with their old, rust bucket plant. We found the document where they fraudulently filed a document with the TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) stating they had installed a flare that would have prevented the accident. We discovered that they hired the TCEQ employee reviewing that fraudulent permit, then had him resubmit in violation of Federal law. They pled guilty to a felony and were on probation when they blew up the Deepwater Horizon. After the case was won we still testified in from of Congress and told them it would happen again, that BP still hadn't learned their lesson. We turned over the key documents to Eric Holder and requested probation be revoked after Deepwater, they were let off probation early instead.

Yea, they shouldn't get paid for all of the hard work, expense, risk. You don't need us. You probably think Stella Liebeck didn't deserve the $900,000 for almost dying and having her labia and clitoris so horribly burned by McDonald's extra hot coffee that allowed them to get twice as much coffee from the same amount of beans and keep it fresher longer. Especially since the Judge lowered the 2 million the jury came up with (one day of Mickey D's coffee sales world-wide) because he thought it was excessive. I mean really, even though they knew they were causing some 2nd and 3rd degree burns every once in awhile, it was making them lots of money. Damn trial lawyers, now Mickey D's has to sell coffee at the industry standard temperature! But i am sure you knew that and are ok with that! Socrates was right, kill all of the lawyers, you can do without us. Tell yourself that next time a cop roughs you up and arrests you for trying to stand up for your rights!

K&R!!!! Whitehouse Rocks!

The regulars at DU know me to constantly link the issues of the day that are posted here to getting the money out of our political system. By far that has been my primary focus. I am quick to respond to one other type of post, and that is climate change. In fact my urgency is fueled by my worry over climate change and the environment.

I am very encouraged on both fronts right now as there seems to be a fast growing awareness and willingness to push these issues by both politicians and the rest of us. I know that both of these movements still have a long way to go, but they are picking up speed!

If we could make a stand before this election in November to DEMAND that the money be taken out. Demand the Constitutional Amendment to get rid of Citizens United, money = speech, and require Publicly Funded Elections for Federal, State, and Local elections, we can make the serious moves necessary to save ourselves.

As Sheldon Whitehouse says, "The oceans don't lie." They are in very poor condition already and rapidly getting worse. If the phytoplankton in the oceans start to die we all suffocate. 2/3 of our oxygen comes from these organisms. We are messing with things we haven't begun to understand and will already pay a heavy price for our hubris.

Sheldon is also right when he talks about how the rest of the world views our country, even if they don't always like our politics. If we make the serious commitment to the environment, the rest of the countries (the ones not already way ahead of us on renewable energy) will follow our lead!

Whitehouse for the Whitehouse!!!

The Republicans may be in the minority, but as many have stated above they fight dirty.

We could effect the change now, but for the fact that the Republican backers control the MSM and encourage the voter apathy that keeps the majority of the people from making the effort to go to the polls.

We need to find a way to engage them as Obama's run in 08 did. If we could plan on protests and marches starting in September with the sole focus of getting the money out of our politics we could give them a single cause they can understand and get behind. OWS had so many different issues aside from Wall Street it was just too much for most people.

Let's take a page from the Republicans play book and turn the reason for the apathy into the reason to vote, ending the corruption! Republicans are famous for taking a strength, such as John Kerry's Vietnam service, and turning it against him. Well, the corruption has kept the Repugs in power and contributed the lions share of the apathy, let's make that the issue in this election. The more money they raise the more we can show that they are trying to buy votes.

Let's force the candidates to support the Constitutional Amendment process to overturn Citizens United, money is not speech, and add to that Publicly Funded Elections across the board, Federal, State, and Local! Let's make them support COMPLETE Campaign Finance Reform!

OWS did a lot of good, especially in changing the conversation to the rising inequality. Let us refine what they did by keeping this singular focus. If we can achieve these goals, Representative Democracy will return and we can start addressing the myriad other issues facing us such as climate change, education, gun control, infrastructure.... We must act now!

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says suing oil companies for damages caused by Fracking is "frivolous!"

Rejecting the advice of his own attorney general and dozens of legal scholars, Louisiana governor and potential presidential contender Bobby Jindal effectively blocked a New Orleans-area levee board from suing oil and gas companies for allegedly destroying the state’s coasts – and in so doing, may have also derailed state and local claims against BP for damages and tax revenue lost following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

BP Fined Record $4.5 Billion for Gulf Oil Spill 2

BP Fined Record $4.5 Billion for Gulf Oil Spill

“This bill will help stop frivolous lawsuits and create a more fair and predictable legal environment, and I am proud to sign it into law,” the Republican Jindal declared in a statement Friday. “It further improves Louisiana’s legal environment by reducing unnecessary claims that burden businesses so that we can bring even more jobs to our state.”

Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association, was also quoted in the statement distributed by the governor’s office, hailing the measure as a “huge victory for the oil and gas industry.”


More and more they are taking our right to sue away under the guise of "frivolous lawsuits." You cannot sue generic drug manufacturers and now oil companies in La. Notice he doesn't say how this protects Louisiana's citizens. How is not allowing fracking suits when the oil companies ruin your water well a good thing for Louisiana? The thing is, if a lawsuit is "frivolous" the Judges throw the suit out and usually sanctions the attorney who brought it. We do not need absolute immunity going to oil companies, with said immunity applying in all instances, not just those deemed "frivolous."

It's past time for 60 Minutes to be up!

There are no more Mike Wallace tough interviews, or Ed Bradley's cool, but honest recitation of FACTS. They did not decide to go back to journalism school after the Lara Logan and Benghazi debacle which we are still learning was actually worse than 1st thought (Lindsey Graham as a source)! No, they did it again last Sunday with their piece about poor BP the victim. It was about as fair and balanced as Fox News. I wonder if they did it for new money, or just because since the Gulf oil spill BP has been one of the largest advertisers in the country, and by far the largest advertiser on the Gulf Coast (local media wouldn't dare print a victim's story negative to BP for fear of losing the ad money).
They gave account after account of fraudulent, or seemingly fraudulent claims. The focus was on BP paying claims that did not have to prove causation. It would have been real simple to attach a copy of the transcript from the "Fairness Hearing" where both sides asked the Court to approve the settlement. Judge Barbier specifically asked BP's attorneys on the record about the scenario where they would be paying claims where the losses could not be traced to the oil spill. BP said they were fine with it because to try to directly prove and/or disprove causation would cost more money. In reality, BP knew that under this deal they do not have to pay tens of thousands of truly deserving victims because they did not recover in 2011. Their accounting graph would not have the proper V shape. They have been able to deny businesses and individuals that everyone agrees suffered do to the spill for numerous technical and documentary issues. This is just another way for them to delay, deny, and defend until the victims give up.
The old 60 minutes would have asked Ken Feinberg some tough questions instead of just letting him tell of the most outrageous claims he remembers. I can see Mike Wallace asking Feinberg:

Mike: "Ken, we just showed a clip of you at one of hundreds of Town Hall meetings you held up and down the Gulf Coast in 2010, and 2011, where you told the assembled residents that you were 'Independent' and that they should not get an attorney because you were independent and fair, and that a lawyer would just cost you money." "First, is that true? Feinberg: "Yes...bullshit,bullshit, bullshit." Mike: "We have here an Order signed by the Judge in this case on February 2nd, 2011, where Judge Barbier stated, 'The clear record in this case demonstrates that any claim of the GCCF's (Gulf Coast Claim Facility which was supposedly formed to resolve claims) neutrality and independence is misleading to the putative class members and is a direct threat to this ongoing litigation, as claimants must sign a full release against all potential Defendants before obtaining final payments.' He goes on to state: '...in this case Mr. Feinberg has been quoted on a number of occasions as publicly advising potential claimants that they do not need to hire a lawyer and will be much better off accepting what he offers rather than going to court. A full disclosure of the relationship between Mr. Feinberg, the GCCF, and BP will at least make it transparent that it's BP's interests as the OPA (Oil Pollution Act) responsible party that are being promoted.' Mike: " Isn't it true Ken that you were not "independent" as you claimed, but as the Judge found, you were actually acting as BP's representative?"

They did not cover the fact that BP, out of the goodness of their little black heart, offered to pay the Plaintiff's Steering Committee (PSC) up to $600,000,000.00 in attorneys fees and expenses to the PSC members if they got the judge who appointed them to reset a trial that was about to start against BP, Halliburton, and Trans Ocean for another year, announce to the court that they have an agreement in principle to settle the case, freeze all settlements for 4 months, get rid of Ken Feinberg and his firm, and complete the Class Action Settlement. Now the PSC would agree to eat dog turds and screw all of the victims in the Class Settlement as long as it went all of the way through so they could get the $600,000,000.00 bribe, uh, I mean "Common Benefit Fund!"
60 Minutes did a great piece on the BP Texas City explosion case from 2005. They featured our client, Eva Rowe, who lost both her mom and dad in the blast. They had producers in our office for weeks pouring over documents and interviewing everyone so that they could get the facts straight. Ed Bradley had come out of retirement (he had cancer he did not tell anyone about) because of what happened to Ms. Rowe and how dirty BP was. He did a great job even though it was hard to be fair to BP since they would not cooperate with the story.
How far they have fallen now. Now it is all about being pro-corporation and anti-labor. In the meantime you will not see Anderson Cooper or Rachel Maddow doing follow up reporting on the coast. The MSM is not countering the propaganda BP has been desperately shoveling saying that they have paid all legitimate claims and all that is left are the fraudulent ones. We have over 6,000 clients who have not received an offer after 4 years. They opted out of the class settlement so they would not waive their right to trial against BP as all victims in the class action had to. We filed their lawsuits and there they sit collecting dust, not allowed by the judge to go forward until all claims in the class action have been resolved. What a joke! Meanwhile, the victims have to see BP's propaganda every time they turn on the TV, including this 60 Minutes broadcast.

Complete Campaign Finance Reform is the solution to the root cause of most of our problems!

We are living under a shadow government that controls both parties, the Judiciary, and the media! They are able to do this because we allow legal bribery of our elected representatives in the form of campaign contributions. We have Defense contractors that own networks, and through these and talk radio they have brainwashed and distracted the masses. Do you believe that all of these social issues, although very important, are not what we need to be focusing on. With publicly funded elections (media that uses our airwaves can be made to air the commercials as part of their licensing requirement) we can limit the corporate influence on our political system.
To get there would require massive demonstrations and protests. It will also require us to convince the police of our cause because that is who they will use (again) to stop us. OWS scared them and so they are ready when it happens again. They will use the NSA spying on us to identify these movements before they get off of the ground.
Republicans and Democrats should both be for this if they truly care about this country and realize the extent things have changed in our Democracy in the last 35-40 years. We have to understand that they have polarized the parties so that we will have trouble ever working together. The polarization has also helped to distract us. How many things right now do they have us upset about? How many things are political that used to be apolitical? Look at the topics here on DU at any given time and see how many of them that we are protesting about, that with politicians not owned by special interest, would be properly taken care of. North Carolina and Texas would not be doing the voter I.D. Laws and abortion restrictions from hell to circumvent Roe v. Wade, instead we should be doing Wall Street reform, jobs, environment, energy, health care... You can look at what's in the public eye and realize there are other things more important that are not mentioned.
I am looking to wake up people to what is going on behind the scenes and how they are being played. I am looking to attack the root problem, CORRUPTION OF OUR ENTIRE POLITICAL SYSTEM! I am not good with technology and have my hands full working on the BP oil spill case (daily examples of how big money corrupts the judicial process). There are many much better than I at articulating our situation. My suggestion would be that when you are fighting for the issues close to your heart, think about how it would be handled if your Representatives were not biased by special interests. Also, when protesting your issue, say for example stand your ground laws and Trayvon Martin, add in that we need honest, Independent politicians through campaign finance reform that are not beholden to the gun lobby. We need politicians not owned by insurance companies and Big Pharma to pass universal health care. We need politicians not owned by the tobacco, alcohol, and Big Pharma (again) to pass medical pot... We need to be active and fight!!!

Our Congress is almost totally corrupt, representative Democracy is dead!

Most of the threads on DU are complaining of things like: the DOJ not going after Wall Street; entitlement reform; the deficit; the filibuster... I could go on and on with the list. We all know that the fix is in on many of the issues that the American people support. The wealthy special interests write the laws and their hired politicians get them Enacted. Both Democrats and Republicans should be up in arms (not assault weapons) over the fact that our democratic system is broken. Citizens United has put the corruption on steroids. The problem at the core, which if fixed, will help to solve most of the problems facing the United States. If we can force our politicians to pass complete/full campaign finance reform, we can get our representative democracy back. If our politicians were freed from having to raise money full time, they might be able to work on more than one issue at a time. They could not be threatened with a primary opponent that had more money than God if they did not vote a certain way. They would not have to "owe" big donors at the expense of the rest of us. It would come down to whether his/her constituents thought that he/she were representing their interests, as it should be. I do understand that this will not be easy. If you thought that OWS encountered resistance, then you haven't seen anything yet! This would be a fight for control of the United States, they have it, and we want it back. It will take much larger crowds of protesters, and need to be sustained for a very long time. The movement will need leaders who will not cave to half measures. It needs to eliminate any money, perks, gifts etc. for elections and votes on legislation. It needs to eliminate the revolving door of Wall Street crooks and corporate whores who come in and carve out exceptions for themselves and then return to the private sector. If done right, we can expect that when the majority of the American public want something, like Medicare for all, we get it! If the majority of Americans want a ban on assault weapons, we get a ban on assault weapons. In order to get a large number of citizens behind this effort, we need to get the word out. I am asking for DU'ers to get behind this and help in whatever way you can. Most can talk and write about it, but some of you have media contacts and relationships with politicians that can help in tremendous ways. I know from my years spent reading threads here that we have some very creative members here, and folks much smarter than me. I look forward to your responses and your help, thanks!

The most important issue that needs to be in the national spotlight is CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM!!!

Why do our Democrats sometimes lack a spine? Is it b/c they are suffering from genetic defects? No, it is because they owe a special interest! Why do we allow legal bribery of our elected officials and Judges? We no longer have a representative democracy. Our media is complicit b/c we allowed them to consolidate into 6 corporations, one of which is one of our largest defense contractors (GE). We bitch and moan about Wall Street and the financial mess they created, but act like democrats have our back. We have a class of people (including corporations) who are above the law. No one goes to jail or pays a fine more than the profit they made from the crime itself if they are big or important! We must all do our part to bring this issue into the spotlight and force our legislatures to enact COMPLETE Campaign Finance Reform (CCFR)!!! Just imagine if our politicians did not have to spend almost all of their time raising money! Money will always find a way in, but it would help reset things, and at least make it illegal to bribe public officials! Most of the issues we care about would or could be resolved in a far better way if we had a truly representative government. There are now many disaffected Republicans who would support CCFR because they don't always agree with the corporate Republicans. Help bring this issue to the forefront and keep it there!
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