Democrats & Liberals Archives

Spheres of Influence

Those who know what I write, know that I often refer to what I call “image-based politics”. I think a good explanation behind my principle objections will shed light on this subject.

Quite a number of today's politicians focus primarily on the manipulation of media and people's sentiments towards a certain image they want to project. It's practically become an industry in and of itself.

For major parts of our society, though, this focus on and sometimes anxiety about PR has absorbed focus away from shaping the events they have control over, and shaping themselves to certain ends. They abuse PR as a means to escape responsibility and accountability for what they do wrong instead of doing the one thing that could make much of that hard, highly subjective work unnecessary: dedicating themselves to fulfilling their duties and doing what's right.

The greatest weakness of image-based politics demonstrates itself in a crisis, in the panicked rush of PR that accompanies leaders in a crisis. It's a farce, really. These folks make up for years of incompetence and corruption by putting on a song and dance that comes across as transparent much of the time. Only those who have done themselves damage need damage control. Everybody else just needs to take responsiblity for events and get to work solving the problem.

The seductive appeal comes from the fact that one does not have to wade into the difficult waters of hammering out a practical solution in order to deal with the issues. We could call it a kind of cheating, but like cheating on your schoolwork, it only leaves you unprepared for the tests the real world throws at you.

The decision to make falls along the lines of whether you place the emphasis on dealing with reality or with your image. In the real world, of course, politicians must deal with both, but which to the greater extent? I would submit that dealing with the real world, with the hard policy concerns serves one much better than concentrating on the image polishing part of the job.

The real world persists in a way that image does not. Much of image manufacture centers around mimicking the appearance of its signs and facts when they are lacking. Much as they try, people cannot anticipate or produce every aspect of reality in simulation. At some point, doing things for real becomes more practical than pretending.

Doing things for real means that the consequences of your actions simply come into being, good or bad. If you keep things as good as you can, a background of unforseeable good consequences and corroborating facts will exist to get in the way of the lies and mud slung your way.

Like cheaters in school, those who claw their way into public office by dishonest means set things up to be more difficult. In a crisis, their past behavior can come back to haunt them. Their preference for learning how to look like they're doing good rather than learning how to do good will come back to haunt them as well. They have to ask themselves: Am I learning how to be a leader in situations like this, or am I learning how to be useless or worse than useless? Bold leadership, if foolish, grows only more stupid by the moment. Eventually, reality catches up with image, and God imagines outcomes with much greater detail than we ever can ever fake them, or BS past.

Integrity carries with it the advantage that comes in the meaning of the term: an enduring oneness. People like dealing with folks who have just the face they present. People like that what a person says and what a person believes are as one. People appreciate that while not perfect, a person with integrity will do their best to keep their promises. What value do people accord messages they know come from a source who plays them falsely? What traction does such a person retain to crawl towards a comeback when they fall from grace?

Nobody should expect such an approach to save the world from the evils of lies and dishonesty, but I guess we could say the difference is between standing knee deep in BS and being in over our heads. There are so many evils in society that we cannot get rid of, but unfortunately this society has given up in the face of them because of their clearly chronic nature. Dwelling at this ground state of social insanity, we try to function, and find ourselves stuck in a quagmire of shifting perceptions and competing narratives.

If we want to simplify things, we must simplify from the ground up. If we want to render our government more efficient, packing a bigger bang for the buck, we must start from the facts and work our way out. If we want to avoid more fiascos like Iraq, we can't be lying to ourselves and to others about the reasons backing our decisions, if we don't want thegiven war to turn south for us. Government is complex enough, in any form, at any size, for us to try and make it work when we don't have a clear notion of what's going on. The fearful, cowardly response to this would have us give up, and accept the chaos of lies and misleading messages. The truly brave response, the one that does us the most good remains sticking to the truth, and learning to deal with it.

If we deal with image first, it will rarely translate to a solid reality. A good reality, though, is much easier to translate to a good image, even if it take more skill and more difficult choices to get things there. If America wants better from its government, it must take on the question of what is good government with a great deal more maturity, and a lot less of this fairly useless talk about big or small, conservative or liberal. The world and its complexities cannot be contained in the confines of a few hot-button dualisms. We need to grow up and recognize that good government is the kind with the fewest illusions. A government based on concerns of image is one ensnared in its own illusions from day one.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at January 26, 2007 12:05 PM
Comments
Comment #205206

David:

It’s called advertising, a very potent industry because it works so effectively.

Posted by: womanmarine at January 26, 2007 1:09 PM
Comment #205207

Sorry Stephen, my mind has gone elsewhere (happens a lot at my age) :)

Posted by: womanmarine at January 26, 2007 1:10 PM
Comment #205224

Good artical Stephen.
I’ve dwelled some too on this very subject.
Cheaters exist, and people need to learn to recognize the clever tactics of the Cheaters.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 26, 2007 1:38 PM
Comment #205234

Well said. Thanks.

Posted by: Max at January 26, 2007 1:56 PM
Comment #205245

Great point!!!

Posted by: Linda H. at January 26, 2007 3:46 PM
Comment #205253

womanmarine-
Some people will like Coke better than Pepsi no matter how the latter group advertises. Reality provides a check to many great marketing campaigns, whether it’s a movie, a soft drink, a variety of junk food or a political candidate.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 26, 2007 4:51 PM
Comment #205254

Wow, you have said what I’ve felt since the days of Reagan. Jimmy Carter sucked at image politics, but was a man of substance. This is what scares me about the influence of TV. Of Course, everyone knows how Kennedy’s use of TV overwhelmed NIxon. While Reagan did not impress me much, he moderated much of his actions when confronted with reality, and did seem to be surrounded by competent people.

I’ve never seen this expressed in such a well formed and eloquent manner. Thanks.

Posted by: gergle at January 26, 2007 5:03 PM
Comment #205255

gergle-
I think people have to get use to operating in that kind of media environment, get inured to its strength to some extent. I think the internet is helping to roll that back as well, with factchecking more distributed and freed from all the constraints of network schedules and local newspaper distribution.

It doesn’t do us much good to blame the media for what people do with them. If the influence of TV scares us, we should look at how it works and devise antidotes in other media.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 26, 2007 5:21 PM
Comment #205264

Stephen Daugherty,

You’re onto something here that’s very important.
But, what is at the root of it is what is more important.

“image-based politics” is a tactic.
“image-based politics” is a control mechanism.
It is yet another of MANY dishonest mechanisms.

You eluded to the root cause, and that root cause is the reason for these many mechanisms, such as “image-based politics”.
IMO, the root cause of it is the most important part of your message.

As you wrote, some people among us are cheaters, and the reason for it, and understanding and being able to recognize the many mechanisms (such as “image-based politics”) is necessary for any healthy government, society, or organization.

The cheaters are the ones that resort to such mechanisms (such as “image-based politics”).

Why? Not everyone resorts to “image-based politics”.
That is because not all people have yet surrendered to the root cause of it.
Not all politicians fuel the powerfully effective, divisive, distracting partisan warfare.
Not all (though they are hard to find) have yet surrendered to the root cause that leads some to use such control mechanisms.

In fact, most people are law abiding.
Some are law abiding under all circumstances.
But some are cheaters, and temptation, opportunity for self-gain corrupt some, and power exacerbates it.

Voters need to learn to recognize the tactics (often things that are over-complicated to make them ripe for abuse, or difficult to determine accountability), so they they can reject them, rather than be cleverly manipulated by them.

And it is all about manipulation and control for nefarious reasons.

And that gets back to education.
In a voting nation, an educated electorate is paramount.
We’ll get that education the smart way, or the hard way.
Only education can help, and the sooner the better; that’s the only way to avoid the painful consequences of the hard way. Already, the some painful lessons will be unavoidable.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 26, 2007 6:48 PM
Comment #205278

One thing that increasingly alarms me is that the line between reality and non-reality has become increasingly elusive. In a world where reality is rewritten and spun, and the images repeated so frequently - for example the PR stunt of Hussein’s statue being pulled down.

This was an admitted (after the fact) PR shot. However, at the time it was portrayed (repeatedly) as joyous Iraqi’s liberated by US troops striking back at the effigy of their oppression. I have seen this video clip hundreds of times since then on both network and cable news. Not once have they stated “this is a staged event.”

So what is “real?” The image - though “unreal” is interpreted by most as very real.

Likewise, the construction and manipulation of images has advanced tremendously with the merger of image/art/technology. We have a tendency to believe what we see. Actually we are wired that way. Words are processed through a critical portion of our brain; images are not unless we look at them critically. Therefore, whoever controls the images - and the interpretation of the images - in a very real way controls what is “real.”

Posted by: Rowan Wolf at January 26, 2007 8:52 PM
Comment #205284

Rowan Wulf,
Yes. That is why education is so important.
We must learn to recognize such manipulations.
Especially when they are displayed over and over.
The control mechanisms abound.
We will continue to be manipulated by them as long as we fail to measure and see them ONLY for what they really are.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 26, 2007 9:53 PM
Comment #205287

Rowan-
Like my old professor always says, the Camera ALWAYS lies.

I suggest people take classes or read books on film and video aesthetics.

There are a number of conservative sites that posted a photo of Kerry seemingly sitting close to Jane Fonda. The trick is, the lense was narrow, shooting at a low, slightly downward angle, and at an oblique angle to those in shot.

Narrow Angle Lenses reduce perspective. Objects along the z-axis(think an imaginary line coming straight out of the camera lense) are made to look more densely packed. It also creates a very selective window of focus, in terms of both framing and depth of field If you can picture the world around you as a sphere, a narrow angle lense shoots just that: a narrower angle, a smaller segment of the sphere.

The low angle added to the sense that the z-axis was packed by basically putting more objects along the axis. The higher the angle on a crowd, the fewer targets will be in the way.

The oblique angle of the shot to the crowd both added apparent density to the crowd (the hypotenuse is always longer than either legs of a right triangle), and allowed the narrow angle lens to capture them in its compressed eye along the same z-azis. Without it, the shot might have missed Kerry or Fonda if either one was the target.

In reality, there was three seats aisle and several layers of crowd between him and Fonda. They were yards away from each other. The camera, though, always lies.

I suggest that every person here pick up a film/video aesthetics book, and learn from that. The better that you understand that images are not merely seen by the camera but interpreted by it and the person operating it, the better you will be able to spot what’s going on.

And above all else, take every shot you see on television with a grain of salt. It pays to take a skeptical view on what you see.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 26, 2007 10:03 PM
Comment #205290

B.S. The fact he was there has not been disputed.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 26, 2007 10:10 PM
Comment #205293

Dan-
Nobody’s disputing that Kerry attended an anti-war rally. That would not be out of character for him. He’s known to have done that.

What people were alleging with the photo was a close association with Fonda, who as we all know glorified the cause of the North Vietnamese at American Soldier’s expense.

Looking at the photo, which makes it look like he’s a row or two back, it might seem that way. However, looking at the photo critically, they are quite some distance from each other, dispelling such a notion, and any insinuations of closeness with Fonda’s cause that would come from it. This, coupled with the fact that he is known to have disinvited her from one of his group’s functions, would serve as evidence of greater distance, literally and figuratively between the two opponents of the war.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 26, 2007 10:21 PM
Comment #205300

Stephen D., what your article proposes requires an interested and vigilant electorate. Are Democrats going to dedicate their efforts to the cause of generating political interest and vigilance amongst the electorate? There are powerful political forces at play in incumbency by professional politicians to move in the opposite direction.

An uninformed, uninterested, and attention deficit electorate is the more efficient path to reelection. Is your party going to commit itself to the vision of our Constitution or to political reelection expedience ?

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 26, 2007 10:43 PM
Comment #205301

Kerry, as usual, tried to play both sides of the Vietnam war for political purposes.
Unfortunately, Kerry, without the help of anyone else, including the MSM, demonstrated that all too well for all Amerians.
Kerry under-estimated the American people’s ability to see though the “image-based politics”.

The partisan bias continues, which distracts from the root cause.

Regardless, I’m confident enough Americans will figure it out eventually, because their motivation is somewhat built-in.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 26, 2007 11:00 PM
Comment #205306


Back in 84, one of the candidates was Leonard the Roach and he gave a diatribe on tv about how Mondale and the Queen of England were the two biggest drug dealers in the World.

The next morning while getting my mail at the little country post office, 5 or 6 old men were chatting about Leonards accusation. One of them said that it must be true because you can’t say anything on tv that isn’t true. The others nodded their heads in agreement.

Some people apparently still think you can’t say anything on tv or radio that isn’t true, especially those that watch Faux News or listen to Fuzz Lintball.

Posted by: jlw at January 26, 2007 11:38 PM
Comment #205309

Here’s an op-ed of interest from the Times. I feel like I keep hearing one outrageous lie after another where the president says one thing, then does the opposite without anyone following up or calling him on it.

The Bait-and-Switch White House

We often wonder whether there is a limit to the Bush administration’s obsession with secrecy, its assault on the rule of law, its disdain for the powers of Congress, its willingness to con the public and its refusal to heed expert advice or recognize facts on the ground. Events of the past week suggest the answer is no.

In his State of the Union speech, Mr. Bush stuck to his ill-conceived plans for Iraq, but at least admitted the situation was dire. He said he wanted to work with Congress and announced a bipartisan council on national security.

That lasted a day. By Wednesday evening, Vice President Dick Cheney was on CNN contradicting most of what Mr. Bush had said. We were left asking, once again, Who exactly is running this White House?

While Mr. Bush has been a bit more forthright lately about how badly things have gone in Iraq, Mr. Cheney spoke of “enormous successes” there and refused to pay even curled-lip service to consulting Congress. Whatever votes Congress takes on Iraq, Mr. Cheney said, “it won’t stop us.”

Whenever the vice president does this sort of thing, and it’s pretty often, Americans are faced with an unpleasant choice: Are Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney running a bait-and-switch operation, or does the vice president simply feel free to cut the ground out from under Mr. Bush?

All of that was distressing enough. But in Friday’s Times, Adam Liptak gave an account of the way the administration — after grandly announcing that it was finally going to obey the law on wiretapping — is trying to quash lawsuits over Mr. Bush’s outlaw eavesdropping operations by imposing outrageous secrecy and control over the courts.

Justice Department lawyers are withholding evidence from plaintiffs and even restricting the access of judges to documents in cases involving Mr. Bush’s decision to authorize the warrantless interception of e-mail and phone calls. In one suit, Justice Department lawyers tried to seize computers from the plaintiffs’ lawyers to remove a document central to their case against the government.

In response to these and other serious concerns, the Justice Department offered only the most twisted excuses, which a federal judge rightly compared to “Alice in Wonderland.”

When government lawyers tried to take back a document that has circulated around the world, the judge asked a Justice Department lawyer, “Who is it secret from?” The answer: “Anyone who has not seen it.”

These are not isolated events. The government has made the same Orwellian claims of secrecy in a lawsuit over the president’s decision to create secret C.I.A. prisons for terrorism suspects. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales routinely stonewalls legitimate Congressional requests for documents and information on a wide range of issues. He negotiated a secret agreement to give supposed judicial oversight to Mr. Bush’s wiretapping program, with a court that does not permit anyone into its hearings to argue against the government.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney claim that they are protecting the powers of the presidency. At least that’s the bait they use to explain their trampling on civil liberties and the constitutional balance of power. But by abusing the government’s legitimate right to claim secrecy in court hearings, they will make it harder for other presidents to do that when it is actually justified. And with that switch, they have done grievous harm to the credibility of the Oval Office and the country.

Posted by: Max at January 27, 2007 1:01 AM
Comment #205311

How many times and how many ways has ‘Al Gore said he invented the internet, tee hee’ been used by our national media? It may have been the cause of him losing the presidency, but we all know, now, that he never made that claim at all. I’m not sure that an ‘informed’ electorate is possible in todays’ world…

Posted by: Marysdude at January 27, 2007 1:19 AM
Comment #205316

Image is so important now that everyone declares their run at the presidency at the same time. They dont want to be left behind. Also, primaries in some states are going to be moved earlier this year. They are trying to influence the elections by getting a head start on things. But, stay positive. This only gives us more time to look at the candidates. Educate yourself. Dont have the time? Im sure you can squeeze some research time in the coming 21 months.

Posted by: JoeRWC at January 27, 2007 6:18 AM
Comment #205328
Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n , Nobody’s disputing that Kerry attended an anti-war rally. That would not be out of character for him. He’s known to have done that.
Oooppppss. You’re right.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: What people were alleging with the photo was a close association with Fonda, who as we all know glorified the cause of the North Vietnamese at American Soldier’s expense.
Perhaps. But I don’t even think John Kerry sunk to the level of Jane Fonda, which was to essentially spit on our own troops. Some believe there were some betrayals by Kerry, but not like those of Jane Fonda.

The obvious problem with John Kerry, which is exemplified by his many statements, votes, and actions, is that he tries to be on BOTH sides of every issue.

Politicians are often accused of trying to be “all things to all people,” but few others have taken the practice to level that John Kerry did.

That is the sort of “image-based politics” politicians must be careful to avoid.

While there were plenty that exagerated it, there is no doubt that John Kerry earned the label of “flip-flopper”.

Too many voters may be easy to manipulate, but they definitely don’t like shifting opportunists (i.e. flip-floppers). That one thing is perhaps what is most responsible for John Kerry losing the 2004 election. Also, having an ambulance chaser for V.P. didn’t help either (i.e. John Edwards made 12+ to 60 million on four personal injury cases; enriching himself excessively by capitalizing on others’ pain and misery, idiotic juries, and a dysfunctional legal system).

The MSM is in the perfect position to help educate the electorate, but they too often squander it, prefer to follow Paris Hilton everywhere she goes, or completely misuse their position to mislead the people. That makes it difficult (often by design) to get to the truth.

Again, “image-based politics” is one of many control mechanisms used by cheaters to use and manipulate others, rather than do the hard work to earn their respect.

So, most voters are aware of politicians’ games.
Most voters polled believe most in Congress are corrupt.
But, too many voters keep rewarding those politicians by repeated re-electing them.
Why?
Because there is one other mechanism even more effective than “image-based politics”.

It is the extremely effective, circular, divisive, distracting partisan warfare.
Many politicians and their hacks know all about it, and love to fuel it.
Only an educated electorate can learn to readily recognize and reject these clever mechanisms.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 27, 2007 11:00 AM
Comment #205337


Dan: What do you suggest we do about personal injury cases?

Posted by: jlw at January 27, 2007 12:27 PM
Comment #205343

Dan-
You’re buying into the notion that he was a flip-flopper, which was the Republicans way of punishing him for turning against the war, which a lot of people did.

The most famous example made actually had him voting for a version of the 90 billion dollar supplemental that paid for the war with a cessation of the tax cuts for the rich. He voted against a version that simply deficit spent to get the money. Now, it’s clear he mispoke when describing what he did, but what he did was principled. He had no plans to simply deprive the troops of the money they needed to fight the war, but also no plans to let the budget deficit worsen or the soldiers sacrifice without somebody back home doing likewise.

Yet folks bought into that whole thing of what the Republicans thought it looked like. Only by examining the facts, and pushing past the partisan sensibilities could one get to what Kerry really intended.

We can never truly gain an independent knowledge of all the facts that affect us. That’s what makes our situation with politicians so chronically frustrating. It doesn’t help that people buy into this medias bias theory, which causes them to doubt the accounts harmful to their party before they even have a chance to analyze the facts. This premature rejection causes them to short-circuit their own capability to analyze the facts for themselves, and not entirely without purpose.

Now you can attack John Edwards, but I got one question for you: what do you know about the cases he brought to trial, the juries, and the courts, that causes you to believe that things are as you say? In fact, what you know about the current legal profession that causes you to think they way you do? So many people throw around allegations about what’s going on without factual back up, and often, this stems from the very partisan manipulation you would reject so heartily. This is called “poisoning the well”. The only way to fight back against it is to step past the rhetoric, composed for effect towards the facts. The alternative is being lost in a labyrinth of illusions constructed by those with their own special interests at heart.

Only when you analyze things for yourself do you have the control that the world allows you. Otherwise, you are forced to dance to the tune of those who made the arguments.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 27, 2007 2:10 PM
Comment #205344

Put some common-sense caps on the lawyers take and educate juries to stop unjustly enriching greedy ambulance chasing lawyers that abuse the dysfunctional legal system, and capitalize on others’ pain and misery for their own self-gain.

Ever heard of usury laws ?
The historical rendition of usury as a vile enterprise stems not only from a viewpoint that charging exorbitant interest is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed, but carries with it social connotations of perceived unjust or discriminatory moneylending practices.

So I don’t see why there should be any difference.

Laws can exist to limit interest rates, fees, etc.
Why not have common-sense limits on the take for ambulance chasing lawyers?

Posted by: d.a.n at January 27, 2007 2:11 PM
Comment #205345

Stephen Daugherty,
I’m not buying anyone else’s take on it.
Kerry’s flip-flops are well documented, and has much more to do than his stand on Vietnam.
If you don’t believe it, then research it.
Look at how he votes one way one day, and the other way another. The examples are numerous. It’s not just a myth.

BTW, Bush has many flip-flops too. Fortunately for Bush, he doesn’t have decades of votes in Congress that reveal it quite so clearly as Kerry’s.

But, it’s not a contest as to who is the biggest flip-flopper. Kerry earned that label. He flip-flopped on a wide number of things.

Re: John Edwards. I’ve read about John Edwards cases, and recall some of the judgements when they happened, and it doesn’t matter whether the verdicts were correct or not. The facts of the case are not the issue.

The issue is that our legal system is dysfunctional and allows greedy ambulance chasing lawyers to be unjustly enriched by capitalizing on others’ pain and misery, and some voters are disgusted by it (and rightfully so).

John Edwards take was over $12 million for only four cases. It was legal, but was it moral? See the discussion of usury above.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 27, 2007 2:47 PM
Comment #205347

Stephen D.

The big problem is that half the electorate is below average intelligence. So far this thread has ample proof.The hope lies in educating people to actually look at facts before jumping to conclusions but that takes all the fun out of jumping conclusions. Example: Attacking Edwards. A young girl had her entrails sucked out by a pool drain. This would have been prevented if the manufacturer had installed a 35 cent screw. They knew the danger but did not want to make the expense. Guilty. Pool drains are now equipt with safety modifications saving lives.Damn lawyers.

If one operates under the assumption that if our country stands for anything it should stand for democracy then a look at Vietnam war history will show we were on the wrong side. Our goal was to prevent a national election in which Ho Chi Minh would have been elected.But,oh my God,they might have divided the wealth differently. We can’t have that.Fonda and others were absolutly justified.
With much less opposition we supplied and trained the same Islamist radicals we are fighting in Afganistan. Reagan called them”freedom fighters”. Why? Because the Russians wanted to devide the wealth differently. We can’t have that. The Russian conflict grew from an incident when the Russians brought in school teachers who taught women. Our “allies” killed them for it. Russia responded and the conflict esculated from there. We were again on the wrong side for the wrong reasons and now we are reaping the whirlwind. Thats OK because it will only be the children of working people that get killed or wounded and only working people that have to pick up the tab. Good thing we don’t devide wealth differently. We can’t have that. See a theme?

Posted by: BillS at January 27, 2007 3:00 PM
Comment #205348
BillS wrote: The big problem is that half the electorate is below average intelligence. So far this thread has ample proof.
Agreed.

BillS,
The point wasn’t about the facts of John Edward’s cases, or the verdict.
The issue was his huge cut (over $12 million).

So, are you saying that is ethical; just because it’s legal? (See discussion above about usury).

Why is it OK to make laws that limit what a bank can charge (e.g. interest, fees, etc.), but not OK to limit what lawyers charge?

I’m not thrilled about limiting what anyone can make, but there are instances, such as this, where someone is abusing the system. What should we do? Just ignore it? And how about those lawyers that made billions from the cigarette class action laws suits? There’s something very wrong that allows this fleecing, supposedly on the behalf of victims.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 27, 2007 3:18 PM
Comment #205350


Dan: Those in power who argue against the current system try to claim that most if not all of the law suits are frivolous, without merit, and only happen because ambulance chaser lawyers dream them up. They really don’t care about the lawyers, they just want lawsuits stopped.

Although the system is flawed, it actually protects company executives from prosecution, imprisonment and possible death penalties. If we only deal with one side of the equation, the whole equation becomes unbalanced.

Concerning Edwards, are those amounts his gross or his profit after expenses?

Posted by: jlw at January 27, 2007 3:50 PM
Comment #205351

It appears to be profit after expenses …

  • John Edwards (more here) made his personal fortune through his trial successes and his 2003 financial disclosure forms showed a total net worth between $12.8 and $60 million. Edwards was criticized for paying himself mostly through subchapter S corporate dividends, rather than a salary, to take advantage of a tax-law loophole that allowed him to avoid paying $591,000 in Medicare taxes; Edwards claimed that he chose the subchapter S structure to protect his assets from liability.

jlw,
There’s something wrong when lawyers are being drastically enriched by such law suits, supposedly on behalf of victims.

Yes, no doubt, corporations want immunity.
But that’s not the real problem.
The problem is vile practice and abuse of the system where a few lawyers receive an exorbitant cut which is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed. And who really pays for it all of it? Everyone, in higher costs, insurance, etc.

The issue is not the size of the settlements for victims (even though those are often ridiculous too); it’s the size of cut for the lawyer.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 27, 2007 4:09 PM
Comment #205353

Such extremely lucrative lawsuits where the lawyers represent themselves as champions of the victims, in-league with government, is just another clever mechanism, such as “image-based politics” and “partisan warfare”.

There are lots of victims, but not all of the perpetrators (targets of the law suits) have deep pockets. They’re out-of-luck if they are victimized by someone without any money.

What ever the mechanism, it distracts many from the potential gains of some, pits the parties against each other, and paves the way to self-gain for the few that control and manipulate the conflict.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 27, 2007 4:32 PM
Comment #205373

Dan-
It doesn’t matter whether the verdicts are correct or not? Now you’re trying my patience. You cannot, on one hand, tell me that it’s important to get past “image based politics”, and then tell me that the quality of the verdicts don’t matter in whether these sums of money are distributed. This strikes me as blind flailing at an imperfect system.

If you want to discourage frivolous lawsuits, make the law clearer as to what the thresholds of a good lawsuit are. Don’t screw around with what are essentially handouts to corporate giants that want to be able to regard lawsuits as a cost of doing business, rather than an inhibiting risk.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 27, 2007 8:26 PM
Comment #205376

Nonsense. The lawyers represent themselves as champions of the victims, in-league with government, abusing the system to receive an exorbitant cut, which is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed. The juries, no doubt are severely misguided, but that does not excuse the greed of some ambulance chasing lawyers. Thus, the verdicts do not justify the unchecked greed.

Stephen Daugherty wrote: If you want to discourage frivolous lawsuits, make the law clearer as to what the thresholds of a good lawsuit are.
That’s exactly what I recommended above.

It’s amazing.
Would ya’ll be defending an ambulance chaser, had it been a Republican. I doubt it.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 27, 2007 8:53 PM
Comment #205377

BillS-
First, I refuse to stand in judgment on the intelligence of my fellow Americans. There are various reasons not to do this.

First, Most people are close to average intelligence. It’s a bell curve sort of thing.

Second, scientists have found intelligence to be a multi-dimensional thing, rather than being one thing that can be measures. IQ itself has no real basis besides the use of a mathematical trick to analyze test scores. a 100 IQ is simply the ability to score an average number of questions on a test that’s been abstractly analyzed to be an average.

Third, I believe there is a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy to the nothing that Americans are generally more heart than head, leading the media to dumbdown material, which dumbs down audiences, which in turn prompts rejection of genuinely intelligent material.

My own life’s experience has prompted me to consider things in other terms. I think people are generally smarter than they give themselves credit for. The key is to give them the opportunity to use that intelligence without scaring them off by being intimidating about it.

The Fourth reason I’ll give here is for our own sake. There is nothing so obnoxious to the average person of average intelligence as having another pundit look down their nose at them.

My Dad and my best friend find the History Channel to be one of their favorite networks. These are not folks with big pretentions about them. These are the sort of people today’s market is aimed at. But they’re not fools. They’re curious about the world around them, and they can think for themselves.

Some people have greater focus than the average person, or better judgement, or more acute senses, or whatever. But my experience is, where God gives, he takes away as well. I know this better than most.

To me, the cold war did have a note of truth to it. The totalitarian excesses of the Soviet Union did deserve to be opposed. We have to acknowledge that what the Soviet Union was doing was not simply a peaceful difference of wealth distribution. Looking at Stalin’s purges, the occupation of Eastern Europe, the injustices of China and the actions of others along this vein (I would include Hugo Chavez among them now), I would say there is an evil to be fought in what they did, and how they governed. Communism, as these people practiced it, was a monstrous system that denied people their freedom, the ability to prosper further. It was a hypocritical system, which rightly became satirized in Orwell’s Animal Farm along the lines of some animals being more equal than others.

I don’t think Afghanistan was a simple escalation of of an argument over teachers. It was part of a Soviet push towards the Indian Ocean, which could be reached through Pakistan. We see Centcom develop not to face the later Gulf and Iraq wars, but instead as part of opening a third front in the Cold War. Afghanistan was indeed a place of significance.

It pays to realize that there was more to the resistance movement in Afghanistan than just the Arab Mujihadeen who went over trying to secure their credentials as warriors of God. Many of these people were the less ideologically centered folks we see in the Northern Alliance.

Did some people take things to far in opposing communism? Yes. That’s the trap you can get into opposing any particular system. Kennedy’s sentiments about breathing the same air, loving our children, and all being mortal about sums it up. There was reason to oppose the communists, but I would say not all ways of opposing them were equally good.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 27, 2007 9:27 PM
Comment #205380

Dan-
You can do better than cliched stereotypes. Please do better.

As for defending Republican ambulance chasers?
The very term comes freighted with assumptions. Sure I don’t like people who get people to file frivolous injury claims, but I don’t have any special hatred for them, regardless of what party they vote for.

Actually, the fact is, unless I learn something particularly unsavory about a person, I don’t have a tendency to think poorly about people. You generally have to piss me off or do something truly obnoxious to get me to be less than easygoing regarding my opinion of you.

You’re flinging an ad hominem argument at me to defend a cliched, stereotyped circular argument. Your only justification for coming down on Edwards is that personal injury lawyers are all bad, which is essentially saying that Edwards is an evil personal injury lawyer because Edwards is a personal injury lawyer, and they’re all evil. You’re arguing your own opinion about lawyers as the basis for me accepting your argument about lawyers. So, please do better than this.

When people rely on stereotypical arguments in their causes, how far off are image-based politics? After all, a prime means of manipulation is the easy to believe truthy bits of conventional wisdom that hide a much more complex, sometimes completely different reality.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 27, 2007 10:06 PM
Comment #205423
Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n , It doesn’t matter whether the verdicts are correct or not? Now you’re trying my patience. You cannot, on one hand, tell me that it’s important to get past “image based politics”, and then tell me that the quality of the verdicts don’t matter in whether these sums of money are distributed.
OK, the verdict matters. However, my point is that there shouldn’t be so many frivilous law suits in the first place. The other point is that the ambulance chasing lawyers should NOT be able to take such a huge cut, because that just creates the situation we have now where ambulance chasing lawyers go out of their way to sue anyone with deep pockets.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n , This strikes me as blind flailing at an imperfect system.
Nonsense. So, you don’t see a problem with these frivilous law suits and the abuses of ambulance chasing lawyers that are getting filthy rich from it?
Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n , You can do better than cliched stereotypes. Please do better.
What cliche ? I’m not knockin’ all lawyers, nor all personal injury lawyers. Just the greedy, ambulance chasin’ lawyers. There’s a difference.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: As for defending Republican ambulance chasers?
Well, it appears to matter, since John Edwards is a Democrat ambulance chaser that you are defending.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: Sure I don’t like people who get people to file frivolous injury claims, but I don’t have any special hatred for them, regardless of what party they vote for.
Then why defend John Edwards (who is a Democrat), who made $12+ million (maybe up to $60 million) that way?
Stephen Daugherty wrote: Actually, the fact is, unless I learn something particularly unsavory about a person, I don’t have a tendency to think poorly about people. You generally have to piss me off or do something truly obnoxious to get me to be less than easygoing regarding my opinion of you.
I see.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: You’re flinging an ad hominem argument at me to defend a cliched, stereotyped circular argument.
Nonsense. The argument is sound and many others would agree.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: Your only justification for coming down on Edwards is that personal injury lawyers are all bad,
Wrong !. That’s pure nonsense. Clever tactic, but it is false and it ain’t gonna work. Again, I am NOT knockin’ ALL lawyers, nor ALL personal injury lawyers. Just the greedy, ambulance chasin’ lawyers. That’s all. There’s a difference. My justification is plain and clear, and completely justifiable. There is a problem in this nation where too many greedy, ambulance chasing lawyers are abusing the system, getting filthy rich capitalizing on a dysfunctional legal system and other peoples’ pain and misery. If you want to dispute that fact, then go for it, because the evidence of it is overwhelming.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: … which is essentially saying that Edwards is an evil personal injury lawyer because Edwards is a personal injury lawyer, and they’re all evil.
Wrong ! I did not say anywhere above that ALL lawyers or ALL personal injury lawyers were evil or bad or (please review the comments above). I said John Edwards is a greedy ambulance chaser, as evidenced by the millions he got from it, and other greedy ambulance chasin’ lawyers also exist, who got filthy rich by capitalizing on other peoples’ pain and misery, and a dysfunctional legal system that permits that abuse by the greedy ambulance chasin’ lawyers. Your false comments incessantly try to twist it into “ALL personal injury lawyers are evil”.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: You’re arguing your own opinion about lawyers as the basis for me accepting your argument about lawyers. So, please do better than this.
Wrong ! I’m NOT referring to ALL lawyers. I’m ONLY referring to greedy, ambulance chasin’ lawyers (like John Edwards). What did I say above in this thread that condemned ALL lawyers, nor ALL personal injury lawyers. You dreamed that up all by yourself.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: When people rely on stereotypical arguments in their causes, how far off are image-based politics? After all, a prime means of manipulation is the easy to believe truthy bits of conventional wisdom that hide a much more complex, sometimes completely different reality.
Again, you’re premise is flawed from the onset. I’m not stereotyping anyone. Please review the comments above. I’m NOT referring to ALL lawyers. I’m ONLY referring to greedy, ambulance chasin’ lawyers (like John Edwards).

If you want to defend John Edwards, then fine. Just say so. That ought to be interesting. So, you think it’s OK for John Edwards to abuse the system that way to become filthy rich?

The issue here is ONLY about ambulance chasin’ lawyers, NOT all lawyers.
But your comment that tries to twist it into a criticism of ALL lawyers is the real “prime means of manipulation” here.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 28, 2007 10:44 AM
Comment #205425

By the way, it is the greedy ambulance chasin’ lawyers (and that does NOT mean ALL lawyers) are of the same sort of cheaters you refer to in your “Spheres of Influence” above.

How did the legal system become so dysfunctional to allow some greedy ambulance chasin’ lawyers to engage in such a vile practice, where the ambulance chasing lawyer can receive an exorbitant cut which is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed?

And the greedy ambulance chasing lawyers (and that does NOT mean ALL lawyers) play on the sympathies of the juries to win huge awards, but the juries have no control over how large a cut the greedy ambulance chasin’ lawyers take, enriching themselves via the pain and misery of others, and abusing an obvious flaw in the legal system.

How did it get that way, and why is there so much resistance to change it (tort reform) what is a clear cut issue of cheating?

Tort Reform is a very partisan issue. At both the state and national levels, Republicans overwhelmingly support tort reform and Democrats oppose it. The trial lawyer associations which represent plaintiff lawyers are major contributors to the Democrats. Insurance and medical interests contribute heavily to Republicans. In fact, the tort reform debate can be considered as an aspect of the overall political dynamic involving distribution of the nation’s wealth. The most contentious issues involve medical malpractice and product liability. The result of settlements and verdicts of these cases is a transfer of wealth from groups which tend to be wealthy to victims and their lawyers. Virtually all the reform proposals ultimately attempt to limit the amount of funds which are distributed in this fashion.

Hence, one has to wonder if it is partisan bias ?

Posted by: d.a.n at January 28, 2007 11:06 AM
Comment #205426

Dan,

I have a friend that is a personal injury lawyer, his standard fee is between 25-35%, and he only gets paid if the case is successful.
Does that make him greedy?
These trials can drag on for years.
Who are we to say whether or not any lawyer is worth that kind of money?

Your case against Edwards seems to be mostly based around the fact he is successful, and as a result, is high profile.
He is eloquent, and he uses emotion as a tool to win cases.
Is that a bad thing?

If you, or your child had been disemboweled by a pool filter, who would you want to represent you?

The problem seems not to be too many frivolous lawsuits, the problem seems to be that judges are accepting too many cases based on dubious claims.

On his use of a tax loophole;

The question should be whether it was legal or not.
If it was legal, what’s your point?

I’m not defending Edwards’ actions, but it appears that he has worked within the law, and has been successful at it.

If you don’t like the laws, work to change them.

Posted by: Rocky at January 28, 2007 11:28 AM
Comment #205435
Rocky wrote: d.a.n , I have a friend that is a personal injury lawyer, his standard fee is between 25-35%, and he only gets paid if the case is successful. Does that make him greedy?
No. It depends on the size of the settlement. Is any lawyer supposed to get unjustly enriche this way?
Rocky wrote: These trials can drag on for years. Who are we to say whether or not any lawyer is worth that kind of money?
We all know what should be reasonable. I’m have not criticized ALL lawyers or ALL personal injury in this thread. Again, there is something very wrong with a system that allows an ambulance chasing lawyer to get rich by a vile practice and abuse of the legal system where a lawyer receives an exorbitant amount of money, which is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed. Surely, you are not disputing that, are you?
Rocky wrote: Your case against Edwards seems to be mostly based around the fact he is successful, and as a result, is high profile. He is eloquent, and he uses emotion as a tool to win cases. Is that a bad thing?
Again, there is something wrong with a system and any ambulance chasing lawyer that gets rich by a vile practice and abuse of the legal system where a lawyer receives an exorbitant amount of money, which is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed.
Rocky wrote: If you, or your child had been disemboweled by a pool filter, who would you want to represent you?
That is immaterial. A good personal injury lawyer, of course. Does that justify the vile practice and abuse of the legal system where a lawyer receives an exorbitant amount of money, which is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed. Surely, you are not disputing that, are you?
Rocky wrote: The problem seems not to be too many frivolous lawsuits,
No, there are way too many. That is why people say we are a very litigious society. And one thing that fuels it is the vile practice and abuse of the legal system where a lawyer receives an exorbitant amount of money, which is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed.
Rocky wrote: … the problem seems to be that judges are accepting too many cases based on dubious claims.
But is it possible for judges to toss out any cases they please?
Rocky wrote: On his [John Edwards] use of a tax loophole; The question should be whether it was legal or not. If it was legal, what’s your point?
What’s the point? Just because it is legal, does not make it ethical or just. Perversion of the law often paves the way for legal plunder, to do the very thing it was supposed to prevent (e.g. eminent domain abuse). Also, the vile practice and abuse of the legal system is legal, but is it ethical for a lawyer to receive an exorbitant amount of money, when it is clearly a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed?
Rocky wrote: I’m not defending Edwards’ actions, but it appears that he has worked within the law, and has been successful at it.
He certainly has been successful. I never said he broke the law.
Rocky wrote: If you don’t like the laws, work to change them.
I do. Thank you for that sound advice. I have voted for law suit reform, and support the non-partisan “Texans for Lawsuit Reform” working for law suit reform. Unfortunately, many organizations are interested in setting limits on awards, instead of focusing on the exorbitant take for the lawyer, which is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed. Limiting the size of the judgement may not be fair to the victim, but laywers should NOT be getting unfaily enriched in the process, which fuels more frivolous law suits of targets with deep pockets. Not all law suits are frivolous, but often, the lawyer still receives an exorbitant amount of money. If laws can be passed that limit usury (e.g. excessively high interest rates and fees), then why not apply common-sense limits for the lawyers’ compensation? After all, isn’t that just another form of usury? Without any common-sense limits, the system is open to abuses (as evidenced by the excessive frivolous law suits and exorbitant amounts of money awarded that don’t go to the victims).

A lawsuit should not be used to win lottery-type riches for a lawyer via exorbitant money awards, which is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed, and a serious flaw in the legal system.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 28, 2007 1:03 PM
Comment #205445

Dan,

25-35% is exactly that, and for the work done it shouldn’t matter what the size of the settlement is.
You seem to think these guys just sit back and collect the checks, they actually work hard for those that have been the unfortunate victims.

You have yet to define;

What in your opinion is an ambulance chaser?
Typically it was reserved for guys that actually chased ambulances to get clients. Somehow I doubt Edwards fits that description.
The corporate lawyers defending these cases charge huge fees as well, do we define “ambulance chaser” only by the size of the ambulance?

What in your opinion is unjustly rich, and what is an exorbitant take?

And if we put limits on what a lawyer can make, who’s next?
Do we put limits on what everyone else makes as well?

Posted by: Rocky at January 28, 2007 1:58 PM
Comment #205452
Rocky wrote: d.a.n , 25-35% is exactly that, and for the work done it shouldn’t matter what the size of the settlement is.
Yes it should. A lawsuit should not be used to win lottery-type riches for a lawyer via exorbitant money awards, which is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed, and a serious flaw in the legal system.
Rocky wrote: You seem to think these guys just sit back and collect the checks, …
Nonsense.
Rocky wrote: … they actually work hard for those that have been the unfortunate victims.
Some do, and I never disputed that, nor made an issue of how hard they work. The issue was and still is that a lawsuit should not be used to win lottery-type riches for a lawyer via exorbitant money awards, which is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed, and a serious flaw in the legal system.
Rocky wrote: You have yet to define;
Not true. I’ll say it again …
Rocky wrote: What in your opinion is an ambulance chaser?
A lawyer that uses a lawsuit to win lottery-type, exorbitant money awards, which is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed, and a serious abuse of a flaw in the legal system. Surely, you don’t disagree with that do you, or saying it doesn’t happen, are you?
Rocky wrote: Typically it was reserved for guys that actually chased ambulances to get clients. Somehow I doubt Edwards fits that description.
Semantics. It doesn’t change the fact that John Edwards recevied exorbitant money awards, which is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed, and a serious abuse of a flaw in the legal system.
Rocky wrote: The corporate lawyers defending these cases charge huge fees as well, do we define “ambulance chaser” only by the size of the ambulance?
Nonsense. Their payment pales in comparison, and payment is often by the hour.
Rocky wrote: What in your opinion is unjustly rich, and what is an exorbitant take?
John Edwards is a good example of exorbitant. $12+ million to $60 million for a handful of cases? He didn’t inherit that wealth, and he’s not that old. Even for a case that lasted for a few years, $3 to $5 million is exorbitant, and it should be noted that it reduces the final receipts of the victim. Again, a lawsuit should not be used to win lottery-type riches for a lawyer via exorbitant money awards, which is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed, and a serious flaw in the legal system.

Are you saying that’s OK with you?

Rocky wrote: And if we put limits on what a lawyer can make, who’s next? Do we put limits on what everyone else makes as well?
That is a good question.

What is required is common-sense.
How about setting a limit of no more than $1 million per year + expenses?
Are you saying too few lawyers wouldn’t want to make $1 million per year?

By the way, banks have limits on what they can charge for interest and fees.
Those are common-sense usury laws.
So, what is wrong with common-sense usury laws to stop the exorbitant, lottery-type money awards, which is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed, and a serious abuse of a flaw in the legal system ?

And look at what medical insurance companies do.
They will only pay reasonable fees.

Or should we just ignore the problem?

What is your solution?

Because, if you ignore it, with the potential for these vast lottery-type riches for a lawyer via exorbitant money awards, you can bet we will see more and more of it. In fact, some lawyers are making billions for a few years of work. Yes that is billions with a “b”.

That sort of exorbitant money awards for a lawyer, is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed, and a serious abuse of a flaw in the legal system.

Some common-sense legislation (such as H.R. 420) would help put an end to personal injury lawyers gaming the vulnerable civil justice system by filing frivolous lawsuits, forum shopping, and being unjustly enriched by huge, lottery-type money awards.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 28, 2007 2:45 PM
Comment #205464

Dan,

I didn’t have a problem when my friend won a case that brought him his first paycheck over a million dollars. I knew that the case had taken several years to complete, and he had to pay his staff during that time out of his own pocket.
Or maybe you think that all lawyers work out of huge law offices?

You think corporate lawyers make a pittance by comparison?
Maybe the underlings at the law office, the main partners make millions.

Edwards started in private practice went to a corporate firm and back to a private practice.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Edwards#Legal_career

“The jury awarded the Lakeys $25 million, the largest personal injury award in North Carolina history. The company settled for the $25 million while the jury was deliberating punitive damages, rather than risk appeal. For their part in this case, Edwards and law partner David Kirby earned the Association of Trial Lawyers of America’s national award for public service.”


Apparently you missed that last line in the link you provided.

So, Edwards wins his first important case in 1984, and his financial disclosure 19 years later in 2003 says he’s worth between 12.8 and 60 million dollars.
So what?
Are you saying that nobody could make that kind of money in nearly 20 years?
You are attempting to make it sound as if Edwards forces his clients to use his service.
He is a high profile lawyer, that wins high profile cases, and his fees are immaterial.
Personally I don’t care how much money he makes, and frankly I don’t see what stake you might have in this as his clients appear to be satisfied with his work.


Oh, and BTW,

In 2003 Michael Haggard won two cases against the same pool pump manufacturer as Edwards did in 1997. Edwards won his client a $25 million settlement, Haggard won two verdicts of over $100 million.

http://www.haggardparks.com/

“Among his many accomplishments, “40 Under 40” featured the impressive notable cases handled by Haggard which consisted of two record-breaking verdicts dealing with pool drowning negligence cases which left two children with irreversible brain damage. Haggard won a $104 million verdict in a case where a boy got trapped underwater by the suction of a defective and unsafe pool pump (Peterson v. Sta-Rite, August 2003) as well as a $100 million verdict in a case where a toddler who nearly drowned in a pool at her apartment complex because she gained access to the pool area through a broken pool gate (Hinton v. 2331 Adams Street Corp, January 2003). The verdicts are two of the largest single personal injury verdicts in Florida’s history.”

So where is the outrage at these verdicts?

Posted by: Rocky at January 28, 2007 4:52 PM
Comment #205466

Sorry,

The verdict in the appartment case wasn’t against Sta-Rite.

My mistake.

Posted by: Rocky at January 28, 2007 5:17 PM
Comment #205474

Rocky,

I don’t believe a lawsuit should be used to win lottery-type riches for a lawyer via exorbitant money awards, which is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed, and a serious flaw in the legal system.

So you disagree.
Fine.
You’re entitled to your opinion.
You think that’s OK, and I don’t.
Unlike some debates, where there is a dispute over facts, we are diametrically opposed on whether lawyers should be allowed to win huge awards.

Citing cases where some other lawyer won an even larger judgement doesn’t prove anything.

Citing all those other cases doesn’t prove anything. Just because it happens a lot doesn’t make it right.

Also, it’s important to note that those extremely exorbitant money awards reduce the awards to the victim.

Rocky wrote: Are you saying that nobody could make that kind of money in nearly 20 years?
Not likely. Certainly uncommon.
Rocky wrote: You are attempting to make it sound as if Edwards forces his clients to use his service.
Nonsense.
Rocky wrote: He is a high profile lawyer, that wins high profile cases, and his fees are immaterial.
Only to you. Not to many other people, including many lawyers such as those that the “Texans for Law Suit Reform”.
Rocky wrote: Personally I don’t care how much money he makes, …
Then you ignore the fact that the lawyers significant cut diminishes the awards to the victims.
Rocky wrote: I don’t see what stake you might have in this as his clients appear to be satisfied with his work.
I don’t believe a lawsuit should be used to win lottery-type riches for a lawyer via exorbitant money awards, which is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed, and a serious flaw in the legal system. This flaw will lead to more greedy personal injury lawyers, gaming the vulnerable civil justice system by filing frivolous lawsuits, forum shopping, and being unjustly enriched by huge, lottery-type money awards.

I’m against it.
You are for it.
Enough said.

No point in debating it any further, since your position is that it is OK.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 28, 2007 6:34 PM
Comment #205492

Dan,

You are absolutely right.
We disagree.
You feel that a lawyer shouldn’t be adequately rewarded for the work they do for their clients, as in your continual use of the phrase “lottery-type money awards”.

Real Estate agents regularly make 3-5% of their sales, whether the sale is for $100,000 or $50,000,000, yet you don’t seem to have a problem with that.
Personal agents for sports stars, and the media typically ask for 10% whether the contract is for $1,000,000, or $250,000,000.
Do you have a problem with that?

You have singled out John Edwards, and complain that he has made too much money, yet you only talk about his 3 of his 4 (I haven’t been able to find the judgement on the 4th) most high profile cases, which would have grossed him (at the typical 25-30%) between 8-12 million.
Admittedly that’s a lot of money, but you don’t bother to figure in the expenses, and the fact that most personal injury lawyers don’t get paid at all if they don’t win the case.
Being a lawyer is also a business.
Do you think that Gerry Spence doesn’t make a good living as a personal injury lawyer?

You guys bitch about tort reform, and cite the high cost of malpractice insurance, but you won’t cite the fact that the AMA refuses to police it’s own members, and that is one of the biggest reasons malpractice insurance is so high.
Or that Ford thought it was cheaper to continue to build Pintos and not fix the problem, and just pay off the lawsuits for the people that were maimed, or killed.

So yes, we disagree.

You are entitled to your opinion, and you can call guys like John Edwards, and Gerry Spence, and Michael Haggard “ambulance chasers” and “greedy” if it helps you sleep better at night.

I, on the other hand, am also entitled to my opinion. I know that it costs a lot of money up front to go to trial, and that every personal injury case is a crap shoot.
These guys do the people in this country a great service, and they get paid well for it, and they should.

Posted by: Rocky at January 28, 2007 7:49 PM
Comment #205509

Like I said.
Enough said.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 28, 2007 8:17 PM
Comment #205510

Or, if you’d like, please espouse why you think these lottery-type awards are justifiable.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 28, 2007 8:18 PM
Comment #205518
Rocky wrote: These guys do the people in this country a great service, and they get paid well for it, and they should.
Like I said, the tells it all. Posted by: d.a.n at January 28, 2007 8:40 PM
Comment #205520

Dan-
You’re skipping logical steps to convincing people you’re right.

First, you don’t respect people’s right to have other opinions. If you don’t respect that other people may not know what you do, may not have thought of it in in that way, or may indeed know something you don’t, you can end up with rather deficient capital to invest in persuading people.

You must acknowledge a problem, a barrier between you and your goal before you can achieve it. You must also be willing to admit that a lack of success can be yourfault, not necessarily that of your audience. Those who expect their arguments to succeed on the spot underestimate the differences that can exist between how different people think.

Also necessary is the effort to empathize, to try and figure out how the other person truly thinks, not merely relying on blanket statements. Well meaning crusaders of all types have dashed themselves on the rocks of imaginary opponents with imaginary attributes. I mean, how many liberals actually take communism seriously, or even like it, when so many voted for Reagan, for certain Republicans?

If you don’t admit that a rival in an argument can harbor beliefs that aren’t typical of the party stereotype, it will be very difficult to acknowledge them, must less establish a dialogue on them. The belief systems in a party, even at its most partisan stages, are not monolithic.

What sometimes gets me about your cycles and everything, is that they may just reify (or make a thing out of) what are really abstract, generalized states of mind.

I mean, do we really have to go through those cycles? I mean, once we’re aware that we’re sliding towards Hade’s, can’t we take things in a new direction? And what if society doesn’t evolve all in one piece, but instead in interleaved cultures? In that case, one culture could decay while another rises. Or maybe cultures collided and one culture’s values disseminate into another.

I take a very non-linear viewpoint of history. Events emerge from history more than they proceed from it. All descriptions are insufficient. All theories are approximations, some better than others.

To convince somebody of your particular approximation of the truth, you must build a pattern for other to bind together according to their own logic. People aren’t complete different, so it isn’t completely out of the question, but differences of personality, approach, and education can mean a lot, and should not be dismissed; nor should one dismiss another on their account.

Me and Rocky are of course Democrats and Liberals. Being that way, we’ve already come to certain conclusions. What they are, you do not necessarily know, except by reading what we write, and then only in part. What we know, you may not necessarily have a clear picture of. We both know lawyers, him his friend, and I my brother. We know that the legal profession is far more complicated than what this culture assumes, and I personally can say that I find the villification of the judiciary in modern times, judges, lawyers, constitutional protections, to be a rather ill-informed, annoying state of affairs.

TV has convinced us that everything’s about dramatic witness confrontations, psychos let go to walk the streets on technicalities, cops held back from doing their job, and other charming cliches milked for a few pages of screen time.

In reality, there’s a reason why the law is a profession in our times, not merely a side gig for some guy who puts out a shingle. The world done gone complex from the time where the average person could set aside the time and the resources to become a lawyer.

Because of some of what my brother has told me, I’m rather more careful about how I treat the law than I might have once been. I also took a Telecommunications Policy class, so I know from that the nuances that the constitution can take on.

If some guy walks down the street belting opera naked, is he expressing free speech? A purist view might say yes. But this country recognizes distinctions of time, place and manner. If a guy quietly sings to himself while wearing a pair of decently unrevealing shorts, he might have a case for free speech, even in the dead of winter.

Additionally, there’s another element to all this: as we all know, law can become a monstrosity if it is enforced without regard to the way the real world works. When a mandatory minimum sentence sends a two-bit dealer to the slammer, and grants a person higher up immunity for ratting his lieutenants out, something’s out of balance. A judge should have the power to punish according to the situation. Image-based politics would have us be hesitant to change such laws, because we might be interpreted as overly lenient. But aren’t there times when being unmerciful only serves to harden, rather than punish criminals?

The world is not such a simple place. Any alternative to image-based politics must embrace a messy, often counterintuitive, and always incompletely glimpsed reality.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 28, 2007 8:49 PM
Comment #205522

Dan-
Also, there’s a big difference between claiming you’ve won an argument, and actually having won the argument. Anybody can come out of a debate thinking they’re right. Only a person who can get opponents and audience to think that can truly win, though.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 28, 2007 8:51 PM
Comment #205528
Stephen wrote: d.a.n , You’re skipping logical steps to convincing people you’re right.
Nonsense. List specifics.
Stephen wrote: First, you don’t respect people’s right to have other opinions.
More nonsense.
Stephen wrote: You must acknowledge a problem, a barrier between you and your goal before you can achieve it. You must also be willing to admit that a lack of success can be your fault, not necessarily that of your audience.
More nonsense. Others’ beliefs is not my responsibility.
Stephen wrote: Those who expect their arguments to succeed on the spot underestimate the differences that can exist between how different people think.
More nonsense. I’m well aware of differences. Just because I disagree has nothing to do with underestimating them.
Stephen wrote: Also necessary is the effort to empathize, to try and figure out how the other person truly thinks, not merely relying on blanket statements. Well meaning crusaders of all types have dashed themselves on the rocks of imaginary opponents with imaginary attributes. I mean, how many liberals actually take communism seriously, or even like it, when so many voted for Reagan, for certain Republicans?
Blah, blah, blah.
Stephen wrote: If you don’t admit that a rival in an argument can harbor beliefs that aren’t typical of the party stereotype, it will be very difficult to acknowledge them, must less establish a dialogue on them. The belief systems in a party, even at its most partisan stages, are not monolithic.
Yes, partisan bias is all too evident.
Stephen wrote: What sometimes gets me about your cycles and everything, is that they may just reify (or make a thing out of) what are really abstract, generalized states of mind.
Gobbledygook.
Stephen wrote: I mean, do we really have to go through those cycles? I mean, once we’re aware that we’re sliding towards Hade’s, can’t we take things in a new direction? And what if society doesn’t evolve all in one piece, but instead in interleaved cultures? In that case, one culture could decay while another rises. Or maybe cultures collided and one culture’s values disseminate into another.
More gobbledygook.
Stephen wrote: To convince somebody of your particular approximation of the truth, you must build a pattern for other to bind together according to their own logic. People aren’t complete different, so it isn’t completely out of the question, but differences of personality, approach, and education can mean a lot, and should not be dismissed; nor should one dismiss another on their account.
More gobbledygook.
Stephen wrote: Me and Rocky are of course Democrats and Liberals. Being that way, we’ve already come to certain conclusions.
Obviously.
Stephen wrote: What they are, you do not necessarily know, except by reading what we write, and then only in part. What we know, you may not necessarily have a clear picture of. We both know lawyers, him his friend, and I my brother. We know that the legal profession is far more complicated than what this culture assumes, and I personally can say that I find the villification of the judiciary in modern times, judges, lawyers, constitutional protections, to be a rather ill-informed, annoying state of affairs.
I used to work in a law firm. That’s different than knowing a lawyer. I know lots of lawyers. The issue is a vile practice of charging exorbitant interest; a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed. You and Rocky support it and see it as noble. We disagree. So what?
Stephen wrote: TV has convinced us that everything’s about dramatic witness confrontations, psychos let go to walk the streets on technicalities, cops held back from doing their job, and other charming cliches milked for a few pages of screen time.
Nonsense.
Stephen wrote: In reality, there’s a reason why the law is a profession in our times, not merely a side gig for some guy who puts out a shingle. The world done gone complex from the time where the average person could set aside the time and the resources to become a lawyer.
More unsubstantiated nonsense.
Stephen wrote: If some guy walks down the street belting opera naked, is he expressing free speech? A purist view might say yes. But this country recognizes distinctions of time, place and manner. If a guy quietly sings to himself while wearing a pair of decently unrevealing shorts, he might have a case for free speech, even in the dead of winter.
Oh, yes. It’s all suddenly making perfect sense.
Stephen wrote: Additionally, there’s another element to all this: as we all know, law can become a monstrosity if it is enforced without regard to the way the real world works. When a mandatory minimum sentence sends a two-bit dealer to the slammer, and grants a person higher up immunity for ratting his lieutenants out, something’s out of balance.
Now that is making sense.
Stephen wrote: A judge should have the power to punish according to the situation. Image-based politics would have us be hesitant to change such laws, because we might be interpreted as overly lenient. But aren’t there times when being unmerciful only serves to harden, rather than punish criminals?
No. Do the crime. Do the time.
Stephen wrote: The world is not such a simple place. Any alternative to image-based politics must embrace a messy, often counterintuitive, and always incompletely glimpsed reality.
Yeah, yeah. It’s always more complicated.
Stephen wrote: d.a.n , Also, there’s a big difference between claiming you’ve won an argument, and actually having won the argument.
Pure B.S. I never claimed to have won anything.
Stephen wrote: d.a.n , … Anybody can come out of a debate thinking they’re right. Only a person who can get opponents and audience to think that can truly win, though.
More pure nonsense. Being right has nothing to do with the success of convincing others on any issue. Posted by: d.a.n at January 28, 2007 9:24 PM
Comment #205529

Dan,

Where in the code of ethics does it say “thou shalt not make too much money”?

You continue to use the same mantra of “lottery type awards” as if the lawyers are the ones being awarded the money from the judgements that are handed down in their “clients” favor.
It is as if there is no connection for you between the actual work a lawyer performs and the verdict that “awards” his client the money.
The lawyer “justifies” his pay by the amount, and quality of work he performs for his client, just as you and I “justify” our paychecks by the amount and quality of the work we perform.
The scale is the same (except for pro-bono) 25-35% whether the client is awarded $.50 or $50 million, and the client, and the jury, and the judge, and the opposing lawyers, and their clients know that going in.
Why is that a problem for you?
Personal injury lawyers didn’t create the problem. Their job is to do the best work they can do for their client, by using whatever legal means are at their disposal, and for that they should be paid what they ask.
Nowhere in the laws of this country, does it say how much money any one person can make.
If you think a lawyer is too expensive, you are within your rights to go find another lawyer.

Me, I am going to find the best lawyer I can afford, and if I have suffered life threatening injuries due to someone else’s negligence, how much money my lawyer makes off my case is the least of my worries.

Posted by: Rocky at January 28, 2007 9:25 PM
Comment #205535
Rocky wrote: d.a.n , Where in the code of ethics does it say “thou shalt not make too much money”?
There are reasonable limits and you either know it, or you don’t.
Rocky wrote: You continue to use the same mantra of “lottery type awards” as if the lawyers are the ones being awarded the money from the judgements that are handed down in their “clients” favor.
And those huge cuts diminish the clients award … something you refuse to acknowledge. Not only that though, you completely refuse to acknowlegdge an abuse of the system, gaming the vulnerable civil justice system by filing frivolous lawsuits, forum shopping, and being unjustly enriched by huge, lottery-type money awards.

That’s OK with you.
Fine.
How revealing.

Rocky wrote: It is as if there is no connection for you between the actual work a lawyer performs and the verdict that “rewards” his client the money.
Gobbledygook. No one is disputing the right to fair compensation. But I do dispute the system where citizens are at the mercy of a system that provides lottery-type riches for a lawyer via exorbitant money awards, which is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed, and a serious flaw in the legal system.
Rocky wrote: The lawyer “justifies” his pay by the amount, and quality of work he performs for his client, just as you and I “justify” our paychecks by the amount and quality of the work we perform.
Pure B.S. We are not all closely in-league with government and the legal system that allows this perversion of the law to legally plunder others, twisting the law to do what the laws were initially supposed to prevent.
Rocky wrote: The scale is the same (except for pro-bono) 25-35% whether the client is awarded $.50 or $50 million, and the client, and the jury, and the judge, and the opposing lawyers, and their clients know that going in. Why is that a problem for you?Rocky wrote: Personal injury lawyers didn’t create the problem. Their job is to do the best work they can do for their client, by using whatever legal means are at their disposal, and for that they should be paid what they ask.
Nonsense. Plaintiffs are at the mercy of the corrupt system.
Rocky wrote: Nowhere in the laws of this country, does it say how much money any one person can make.
Wrong. Ever heard of usury laws. They apply to individuals too.
Rocky wrote: If you think a lawyer is too expensive, you are within your rights to go find another lawyer.
Right. Good luck. Again, plaintiffs are at the mercy of the system.
Rocky wrote: Me, I am going to find the best lawyer I can afford, and if I have suffered life threatening injuries due to someone else’s negligence, how much money my lawyer makes off my case is the least of my worries.
Undoubtedly. How revealing. Posted by: d.a.n at January 28, 2007 9:43 PM
Comment #205540

Dan,

Who pissed in your Wheaties?

“Ever heard of usury laws. They apply to individuals too.”

We’re talking about lawyers, not Guido and Lefty.
Loan sharking was frowned upon in the Torah and has nothing to do with what we are debating.

Stephen and I have given you our opinions based on our experiences and your response has insults not facts.
I can only assume any discussion from you will only be more of the same.
It’s useless, I give up.

Have a life.

Posted by: Rocky at January 28, 2007 10:00 PM
Comment #205578

And I gave my opinions.

So, you have your opinion …

“Where in the code of ethics does it say “thou shalt not make too much money?”

… and you’re entitlted to it.

You defend a practice that I call an abuse of the system (i.e. cheating).

You believe awards of million$, hundred$ of million$, or billion$ are not exorbitant.

I do.

The frustration of being unable to convince me results in “Who pissed in your Wheaties” and “It’s useless, I give up”, and “Have a life” ?

Lots of people, understandably, see it the same way as I do (i.e. that see it as an abuse of the system; cheating).

And many of them are lawyers too.

Now, the reality is, such huge awards as we have discussed don’t happen often; only about 6% of the time are awards over $1 million, but when they do, they make the news.

The case where the lawyer made billion$ (yes, billions with a “b”) from the tobacco companies is a good example. Especially since people know in advance that smoking is bad for their health. Even when I was a kid in the early 1960’s, they called them “cancer sticks”.

Many people, and understandably, will say that is an obvious abuse (i.e. cheating) of the system. And many of them are lawyers too.

It is not unreasonable to question the practice in which a lawsuit is used to make million$ or billion$ in a short period of time.

Are you saying no such abuse occurs?

Posted by: d.a.n at January 29, 2007 6:00 AM
Comment #205585

Dan-
How revealing! How Revealing? To whom?

You ask what logical examples you’re skipping. Well, you’re skipping specific premises. You’re skipping getting people in the right frame of mind, or a logically inescapable position by those specifics. I think it’s funny that you deny that you don’t respect people’s opinons, and then call everything I say “nonsense”, “gobbledygook”, among other things.

Jeez man, if that’s respect, I’d hate to get on your bad side! You don’t offer counter arguments, you simply write that I’m wrong.

And yes you have claimed to have won in effect, saying “enough said”, “how revealing”, or other coy little things effectively indicating that you think you’re right and that this should be obvious.

That’s fine, if you want to do things that way, but if your intent is to convert and bring people over to your point of view, there’s a dynamic you have to respect, if you want to succeed. Unless you simply intend to advertise your correctness, it should concern how one changes another’s mind.

If you seek to build some sort of revolution in political thought, it’s essential you bridge that gap, essential that you acknowledge that not everybody has replicated your life such that they should morally think just like you.

Now, these dismissive, one line responses have done little to convince me that you’re right. Your attacks on the fact that I do have some party association, have done little to convince me that I should abandon them.

If you want to change my mind, you have to get at the supports of what I believe, and those supports depend largely on facts and my experience of them. I tend to go after underlying facts, because even if an argument is magnificently constructed, facts can make that argument inapplicable. We should prevent dictators from breaking international law to gain WMDs, but first they have to have WMDs to be prevented from attaining! Otherwise, the argument is inappropriate as a cause for action.

The Achilles’ Heel of this administration has been the lack of respect for the facts and how they alter the soundness of an argument’s applicability. It is this that the Democrats have used to take down their Republican opponents, and it is that which others may take down the Democrats with, if they stray from their ideals and the desires of the people.

We cannot expect people to be persuaded on logic alone, because logic is just the framework. Likewise, facts alone will not do it, because the structure of the facts and the theories they validate are not always obvious. They must work together, and it helps if you are more objectively right than subjectively. What reason do people have to believe that? That is the task we’re presented with. The only way to defeat the illusions of image-based politics is to understand the facts, be in command of them, and to present them in a structure that approximates best to reality. You cannot win an argument and win it truly all by yourself. The real world, the audience, and you have to develop a health relationship of information and inference. The alternative is madness and confusion in one’s behavior. This is a constant fight, not just some cycle, and it’s one going on at a level of complexity that beggars the mind. That’s why nobody has every completely resolved things.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 29, 2007 9:03 AM
Comment #205601

Dan,

You have based your entire argument against John Edwards on one, very lonely fact.

John Edwards, the personal injury lawyer, made a lot of money.

From that one lonely fact, your premise has been extrapolated to be;
Some personal injury lawyers have made a lot of money, therefore they must be ambulance chasers, and therefore they must be unethical.

There are holes in that logic I could drive a truck through. You are making vast assumptions based on one, half-vast fact.

Undoubtedly there are some lawyers that take advantage of the system.
With the information that you have supplied, you cannot prove that Edwards is one of them.

Anyone else’s opinion on this subject has been labeled as “nonsense”, and “gobbledygook”, and while that may play well in some trailer park, it would be unacceptable in any court of law.

You are assuming facts not in evidence.

Posted by: Rocky at January 29, 2007 11:00 AM
Comment #205617
Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n , You ask what logical examples you’re skipping. Well, you’re skipping specific premises.
Not true. I gave good examples. We simply disagree.

It is not unreasonable to question the practice in which a lawsuit is used to make million$ or billion$ in a short period of time.

Are you and Rocky saying no such abuses occur?
Rocky even provided several examples of judgements in the hundreds of million$.
Do you really think that is right?
If so, fine.
We are then at a dead-lock.

Stephen Daugherty wrote: … and then call everything I say “nonsense”, “gobbledygook”, among other things.
Not true. Not everything. Just the things that are. : )
Stephen Daugherty wrote: Jeez man, if that’s respect, I’d hate to get on your bad side! You don’t offer counter arguments, you simply write that I’m wrong.
Not true. I offered many arguments. Also, the usury example is a good example. Why did usury laws emerge? Because charging usurious interest rates is unethical. It does not matter that a person may be foolish to have agreed to high (usurious) interest rates. My arguments were met with rudeness. For example:
Rocky wrote: We’re talking about lawyers, not Guido and Lefty. Loan sharking was frowned upon in the Torah and has nothing to do with what we are debating.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: And yes you have claimed to have won in effect, saying “enough said”, “how revealing”,
Not true. That does not equate to “winning”. It merely means there’s no point in continuing, since there is a basic difference of opinion. You and Rocky defend a practice that I call an abuse of the system (i.e. cheating). You and Rocky believe awards of million$, hundred$ of million$, or billion$ are not exorbitant. I do. Enough said. See ?
Stephen Daugherty wrote: … or other coy little things effectively indicating that you think you’re right and that this should be obvious.
Precisely.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: That’s fine, if you want to do things that way, but if your intent is to convert and bring people over to your point of view, there’s a dynamic you have to respect, if you want to succeed.
That’s wise advice for everyone, including those that preach it.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: If you seek to build some sort of revolution in political thought, it’s essential you bridge that gap, essential that you acknowledge that not everybody has replicated your life such that they should morally think just like you.
And you think remarks like that are not rude?

As for Rocky, his very first snide remark to me was:

If you don’t like the laws, work to change them.

Review the thread to see where it starts.
Those that are rude to others ought to expect some of the same back.

Stephen Daugherty wrote: Your attacks on the fact that I do have some party association, have done little to convince me that I should abandon them.
False. I have not attacked your party association. I have merely point out instances of partisan bias. Such leaps of illogic to twist reality won’t change it.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: If you want to change my mind, you have to get at the supports of what I believe, and those supports depend largely on facts and my experience of them. I tend to go after underlying facts, because even if an argument is magnificently constructed, facts can make that argument inapplicable. We should prevent dictators from breaking international law to gain WMDs, but first they have to have WMDs to be prevented from attaining! Otherwise, the argument is inappropriate as a cause for action.
Agreed.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: The Achilles’ Heel of this administration has been the lack of respect for the facts and how they alter the soundness of an argument’s applicability. It is this that the Democrats have used to take down their Republican opponents, and it is that which others may take down the Democrats with, if they stray from their ideals and the desires of the people.
No, I don’t think so. Sure, the last “IN PARTY” was corrupt, as was the “OUT PARTY” too. And the new “IN PARTY” will become corrupt too. That’s what history shows us. The comment reveals partisan bias. Republican and Democrat politicians are both equally flawed. The differences are minor. That is how the two parties simply take turns, while enjoying a 90% re-election rate.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: We cannot expect people to be persuaded on logic alone, because logic is just the framework. Likewise, facts alone will not do it, because the structure of the facts and the theories they validate are not always obvious.
Sad, but true.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: The only way to defeat the illusions of image-based politics is to understand the facts, be in command of them, and to present them in a structure that approximates best to reality.
Agreed. Education is required. People must learn to recognize the manipulative, controlling tactics of cheaters. Too many voters are manipulated (especially with the very effective partisan warfare).

As for the subject of these large law suit awards, I have a question for you and Rocky:
Are you saying no such abuses occurs?
Are you saying there is never a question of ethics with these huge awards?
Are you saying there is no such thing as exorbitant awards?
Because if your saying there is no abuse, then fine.
We simply disagree. And so do many others believe there is some obvious abuse (i.e. cheating) of the system. And many of them are lawyers too. It is not unreasonable to question the practice and ethics in which a lawsuit is used to make million$ or billion$ in a short period of time.

Rocky wrote: d.a.n, You have based your entire argument against John Edwards on one, very lonely fact. John Edwards, the personal injury lawyer, made a lot of money.
Yes and No. Yes, Edwards made a huge fortune in a relative short period of time ($12 to $60 million; either is a lot). No, there are other cases and instances of large awards (some that you also provided, that are even much larger).
Rocky wrote: From that one lonely fact, your premise has been extrapolated to be; Some personal injury lawyers have made a lot of money, therefore they must be ambulance chasers, and therefore they must be unethical.
Yes, if it was exorbitant. That raises the question of how much is too much. You believe the amount is immaterial. I don’t. You asked me what the limits should be, and I responded:
How about setting a limit of no more than $1 million per year + expenses? Are you saying too few lawyers wouldn’t want to make $1 million per year?
Should the legal system be an avenue for lottery-type awards? Some will say that it is a vile practice and abuse of the legal system where a lawyer receives an exorbitant amount of money, and a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed. I agree, when the awards are ridiculously huge and the lawyer makes millions in a short period of time. Due to the vast, lottery-type awards, it undoubtedly can lead to more frivolous law suits.
Rocky wrote: There are holes in that logic I could drive a truck through. You are making vast assumptions based on one, half-vast fact.
No. I don’t think so. If that were true, you would have already. The fact is, abuse occurs. In my opinion, John Edwards abused it. John Edwards got rich from it.
Rocky wrote: Undoubtedly there are some lawyers that take advantage of the system.
Finally. Is that based on the size of the award? Or just the frivolousness of the suit? So, how much is too much? What are these abuses you refer to ?
Rocky wrote: With the information that you have supplied, you cannot prove that Edwards is one of them.
Not true. Edwards made $12.8 to $60 million (as of 2003). He did not inherit it. He had one case alone with an award of $25 million. His take was millions. Another case was for $3.7 million. Another was for $5.75 million. John Edwards lives in a 28,200 square feet mansion on a 102 acre estate in rural/suburban. So, there’s no doubt that he has been successful at making a lot of money. The question is whether some (or all) of those awards were exorbitant? We disagree because you believe the size of the awards are not exorbitant. I most definitely do.
Rocky wrote: Anyone else’s opinion on this subject has been labeled as “nonsense”, and “gobbledygook”, and while that may play well in some trailer park, it would be unacceptable in any court of law.
Not true. Those remarks were for specific paragraphs, and a critique of the paragraph immediately above it. They do not apply to every paragraph. Some paragraphs are followed by “Agree”, or “True”, or other comments. So, whose extrapolating now?
Rocky wrote: You are assuming facts not in evidence.
Now that is just plain nonsense. ; )
  • Posted by: d.a.n at January 29, 2007 12:10 PM
    Comment #205637

    Dan,

    First things first.

    My remark was “snide”, only because you interpreted it that way, not because of my intention.

    Your argument is entirely based on the fact that someone made, what is in your opinion, too much money, too quickly.
    You cite usery laws as an example of a cap on wages, and that is exactly what a lawyer’s percentage is, wages.
    The courts already set limits on contingency fees (see link below).

    You cite only Edwards’ gross income, and apparently assume that all that money from those specific cases goes to him and him alone.
    In your last post you cite that he lives in 28,000 sq ft house, and that this is a sure sign that he has made a lot of money.
    Is it at all possible that he may have made some investments, or is that too much as well?

    The system allows lawyers to claim a fee for services rendered. That fee is negotiable to a point.

    http://research.lawyers.com/How-and-How-Much-Do-Lawyers-Charge.html

    “Contingent Fees

    In certain types of cases, attorneys work on a contingent fee basis. “Contingent” means that the attorney takes no fee from the client, but gets a percentage - typically one-third of the settlement or money judgment. Contingent fee arrangements are typical for plaintiff’s counsel in automobile and accident litigation, medical malpractice and other personal injury cases, as well as in debt collection cases.

    Courts set limits on the contingency fees a lawyer can receive from personal injury suits. Of course, lawyers and clients are free to negotiate contingency fees less than the standard one-third. Contingent fee arrangements in certain kinds of cases such as divorce, criminal cases, or child custody cases are prohibited.”

    Posted by: Rocky at January 29, 2007 1:44 PM
    Comment #205654
    Rocky wrote: d.a.n , First things first. My remark was “snide”, only because you interpreted it that way, not because of my intention.
    Really? It’s a very common remark intended to get under the other person’s skin, and you know it. When someone disagrees, the biting remark is: “If you don’t like it, then fix it yourself”. In your case, you said “If you don’t like the laws, work to change them.” So, I don’t buy it, and doubt anyone else would either.
    Rocky wrote: Your argument is entirely based on the fact that someone made, what is in your opinion, too much money, too quickly.
    Yes, if it is exorbitant, it is unethical. Obviously, from your comments above, what you believe is OK, I believe is exorbitant.
    Rocky wrote: You cite usery laws as an example of a cap on wages, and that is exactly what a lawyer’s percentage is, wages. The courts already set limits on contingency fees (see link below).
    Of course. But one-third is still a fortune if the total award is a massive fortune. It is interesting that you concede to the practicality of one-third limits, but don’t extend it to the total amount. As far as I am concerned, it is a loophole that is abused. There should be caps on total awards, such as 22 times the median income plus expenses per 365 day period. That comes to about $506 per hour (excluding expenses that would increase the total received), or $1 million per year (based on median income of $46K). And that does not even mean they worked all 2000 hours. $1 million per year is still plenty to insure lawyers will take such cases.
    Rocky wrote: You cite only Edwards’ gross income, and apparently assume that all that money from those specific cases goes to him and him alone.
    False. I never said that. Everyone knows the plaintiff (victim) gets two-thirds (or more).
    Rocky wrote: In your last post you cite that he lives in 28,000 sq ft house, and that this is a sure sign that he has made a lot of money. Is it at all possible that he may have made some investments, or is that too much as well?
    Yes. Some of it. Certainly, not all of it. We already know that for only 3 cases, John Edwards and his client were awarded $25 million, $5.75 million, and 3.7 million (totalling $24.45 million). One third of that is $11.483 million. And that is ONLY for three cases. In my opinion, that is an abuse of the system. Even if he had spent 10 years working for that $11.483 million obtained from only those three cases, that is a huge take ($1.1483 million per year). It also diminishes the award to the victims.

    You don’t see anything wrong with that?
    Is it right to become rich by capitalizing on others’ pain and misery?
    If you don’t see a problem with it, fine.
    But I do.
    To me, it is an exorbitant cut which is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed.

    Rocky posted excerpt: Courts set limits on the contingency fees a lawyer can receive from personal injury suits. Of course, lawyers and clients are free to negotiate contingency fees less than the standard one-third. Contingent fee arrangements in certain kinds of cases such as divorce, criminal cases, or child custody cases are prohibited.
    Yes, but that leaves it wide open for abuse. Victims are at the mercy of the system. The lawyers should not be getting lottery-type awards, that diminish the award of the victim. It is an obvious flaw in the system. The laws that set contingency limits at one-third should be expanded to include caps on the total (as mentioned above; i.e. 22 times the median income + expenses per 365 day period). The have to be reasonable limits to such things. Especially when it involves the judicial system, and government.
    Rocky wrote: Nowhere in the laws of this country, does it say how much money any one person can make.
    If we were to follow your logic, Congress and the President should be able to set their own salaries as high as they like. But, if they did, that would bring outrage from the voters. And rightfully so. If you need a medical operation, but the doctor demanded above what is normal and customary, you wouldn’t like it. Never mind that you are at their mercy.

    When it comes to civil suits, victims are practically on their own, since they don’t get an attorney appointed for them to persue compensation for crimes against them.
    However, unlike the lawyers appointed to defendants in criminal court, who make a reasonable income for doing that, personal injury lawyers are allowed to charge up to a third of the award. Naturally, many personal injury lawyers are praying for those lottery-type awards that will make them as wealthy as John Edwards.
    So, we have the system we have now, and it is sometimes abused (as you acknowledge).

    In some cases, the lawyers win huge, lottery-type awards (hundreds of million$ and even billion$).
    Sometimes, in some of these cases, the huge award (when split up among many plaintiffs), comes to only a few bucks, while the lawyer makes million$ (even billion$ in some cases).

    Not all lawyers are bad, not all personal injury lawyers are bad. I’m only referring to those that abuse the system to use use a law suit to obtian exorbitant amounts of money; a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed.

  • Lots of people, understandably, see it the same way as I do, and many of them are lawyers too (i.e. that see it as an abuse of the system; cheating).

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 29, 2007 3:33 PM
    Comment #205671

    Dan,

    “Rocky wrote: You cite only Edwards’ gross income, and apparently assume that all that money from those specific cases goes to him and him alone.
    False. I never said that. Everyone knows the plaintiff (victim) gets two-thirds (or more)”

    Again you miss the point entirely.

    What was Edwards’ net income from those cases, AFTER he paid his partner, employees, etc…?

    We are only seeing his gross income from the cases, not what he actually put in his pocket.

    I can only assume that his net was significantly less.

    Posted by: Rocky at January 29, 2007 5:04 PM
    Comment #205675

    Dan-
    You’ve skipped:

    1)Details about the dissatisfaction of clients with Edward’s take.

    2)Scholars or regulatory parties taking issue with the size of his take.

    3)Details concerning the relative frivolity of the cases, compared to others.

    4)Details concerning the reasoning and procedure behind establishing awards at verdict and settlements.

    All of which (and others I’m not going to get into) would go far to providing your argument with real world ground, the sound foundation that gives life to your claims and conclusions. It’s easy to claim exorbinance, to claim corruption, to claim all kinds of generalized points, but logic alone, without facts, is no cause for being persuaded.

    You claimed I was being unfair to you on your claims. Was I? You accused him of being a greedy, ambulance-chasing personal injury lawyer.

    Okay, stipulating the fact that he is a lawyer, and the fact that he specializes in Personal injury:

    1)You must prove that the awards from the verdicts are deliberately excessive.

    2)You must prove that the clients were willing to settle for less, and that he pushed them higher for his own benefit.

    3)You must prove that his cut was not standard for the industry.

    4)You must prove that legal scholars and professionals thought the verdicts excessive for the matter at hand.

    5)You must prove that John Edwards centers his business on the unethical, perhaps illegal solicitation of clients, that they didn’t seek him out.

    Image-based politics would have you argue this all from what you feel is right, but if you want to break free of that and truly motivate people to care, you have to demonstrate logically and factually at once that your opinion is soundly based on fact and good thinking.

    I’m giving Edwards the benefit of the doubt. Call me biased, call me naive, call me too trusting, but until a convincing factual picture of his misdeeds and practices arises, I would find it rather bad manners to speak ill of the man. Being a rather successful personal injury lawyer does not make you a greedy ambulance chaser. Other things do, and until you present me with those, I’ve got no reason to allow you to get away with a poorly founded argument.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 29, 2007 5:22 PM
    Comment #205679
    Rocky wrote: d.a.n … Again you miss the point entirely.
    Not true. I understand John Edwards does not get all the money and that there are expenses, but that does not mean his cut was still not substantially large, as evidenced by his wealth.
    Rocky wrote: We are only seeing his gross income from the cases, not what he actually put in his pocket. I can only assume that his net was significantly less.
    Less perhaps, but not significantly. Otherwise, where did his wealth, estimated as high as $60 million come from? He didn’t inherit it. He didn’t win big in the stock market. There’s no mystery where it came from.

    John Edwards’ take on ONLY three cases was substantial, even after paying expenses.
    How can one know that?
    Because he didn’t have a lot of partners helping, and all of his employees (altogether) don’t make millions per year.
    Again, we already know that for only 3 cases, John Edwards and his client were awarded $25 million, $5.75 million, and 3.7 million (totalling $34.45 million). One third of that is still a staggering $11.483 million. And that is ONLY for three cases. Even if he took a smaller percentage, such as 25%, it would still come to $8.6 million. Even if his net was only 15%, it would still come to $5.16 million.
    If he invested his income wisely, he could have doubled his fortune.

    But wikipedia estimates his total wealth as high as $12.8 to $60 million (it’s hard to measure, since he is very heavily invested in stocks).
    So, the obvious question is, where did all that money come from if he didn’t inherit it ? (not to mention affording a 28,200 square feet mansion on a 102 acre estate).

    The obvious answer is, and no one has ever disputed it but you, that John Edwards become very wealthy from the awards of his personal injury law suits.
    And the bulk of it came for only a few cases (the three largest cited on wikipedia). And if these cases last so long (years and years) as you say, how many could there be?

    There’s no doubt in my mind where his vast wealth came from.
    But, if you can prove otherwise, then I’ll admit to being mistaken.
    First, you took the position that the amounts were immaterial and “
    Then you took the position that his net income was not that great, despite his vast wealth.

    So, I am still of the opinion that such huge lottery-type awards (and I am not saying all lawyers are bad) by using a law suit to obtian exorbitant amounts of money, is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed, and that includes John Edwards.

    Lots of people, including many lawyers, see it the same way. It’s cheating.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 29, 2007 5:50 PM
    Comment #205682
    I’m giving Edwards the benefit of the doubt. Call me biased, call me naive, call me too trusting, but until a convincing factual picture of his misdeeds and practices arises, I would find it rather bad manners to speak ill of the man. Being a rather successful personal injury lawyer does not make you a greedy ambulance chaser. Other things do, and until you present me with those, I’ve got no reason to allow you to get away with a poorly founded argument.
    I addressed most (if not all) of those points above. If you are also alleging that a significant amount of John Edwards vast wealth came from elsewhere (other than the obvious personal injury awards cases), then let’s see it. Good luck. It doesn’t exist.

    BTW, in case you didn’t notice, Wikipedia states the following:

    Edwards made his personal fortune through his trial successes and his 2003 financial disclosure forms showed a total net worth between $12.8 and $60 million

    You say the awards are not exorbitant. I do.
    You say the practice is ethical. I don’t.

    I am still of the opinion that such huge lottery-type awards (and I am not saying all lawyers are bad) obtained by abusing the system by using a law suit to obtain exorbitant amounts of money, is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed.

    I’ve got no reason to allow you to get away with a poorly founded argument.
    It’s not poorly founded. John Edwards got rich from huge awards from personal injury law suits. For you to prove otherwise, you will have to prove that his vast wealth came from somewhere else. But you can’t, because it does not exist. If it did, you can rest assured that it would be known to us all (for obvious reasons).
  • Posted by: d.a.n at January 29, 2007 6:13 PM
    Comment #205686

    Dan,

    “There’s no doubt in my mind where his vast wealth came from.
    But, if you can prove otherwise, then I’ll admit to being mistaken.”

    You cannot prove that Edwards has been unethical, other than innuendo, or you would have done it already.
    Look, you can bitch all you want about Edwards’ wealth, but unless you can actually prove your point it is just your opinion, and it sounds like sour grapes to me.

    “First, you took the position that the amounts were immaterial and
    Then you took the position that his net income was not that great, despite his vast wealth.”

    The amounts are immaterial, and frankly, unless Edwards has done anything illegal, it is none of our business how much money he makes.
    Again, prove his impropriety.
    My bet is you can’t

    Vast wealth?
    60 million dollars “is” a lot of money, but over 19 years it is hardly “vast” wealth.
    Hell, I’ve grossed nearly a million dollars in the last ten years, and I’m a self employed electronics installer and show tech.

    Lotto last Saturday was 244 million, now that’s “vast” wealth.

    “If we were to follow your logic, Congress and the President should be able to set their own salaries as high as they like.”

    Congress votes themselves raises, or rather doesn’t vote against raises, all the time.
    In point of fact, between 2000 and 2004 alone Congress allowed themselves “cost of living” raises totaling over $16,000.
    A bill was passed in 1989 that allows Congress to get those same cost of living raises every year, unless they specifically vote against it.
    Congressional pay for the “rank and file” since 1990 has risen from a little over $98,000 to just over $165,000 last year.

    Dan, I wasn’t born yesterday, and you’re just going to have to do a lot better than repeating the same mantra over and over, before I will find your argument convincing.

    Posted by: Rocky at January 29, 2007 6:55 PM
    Comment #205689
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n , You’ve skipped:
    • 1)Details about the dissatisfaction of clients with Edward’s take. (I have no idea. It doesn’t matter)
    • 2)Scholars or regulatory parties taking issue with the size of his take.
    • (I don’t need their take on it, but there are many tort-reform proponents that have a problem with it)
    • 3)Details concerning the relative frivolity of the cases, compared to others. (that’s not important to my point about exorbitant awards; although frivolous cases do occur)
    • 4)Details concerning the reasoning and procedure behind establishing awards at verdict and settlements. (Whose reasoning? The Judge, jury, Edwards ?)
    All of which (and others I’m not going to get into) would go far to providing your argument with real world ground, the sound foundation that gives life to your claims and conclusions. It’s easy to claim exorbinance, to claim corruption, to claim all kinds of generalized points, but logic alone, without facts, is no cause for being persuaded.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You claimed I was being unfair to you on your claims. Was I? You accused him of being a greedy, ambulance-chasing personal injury lawyer.
    Yep. And for good reason.

    It’s not a flippant criticism.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Okay, stipulating the fact that he is a lawyer, and the fact that he specializes in Personal injury:
    • 1)You must prove that the awards from the verdicts are deliberately excessive. (maybe, but not necessarily for the victim; just the lawyer in many cases, as evidenced by his vast wealth from those awards)
    • 2)You must prove that the clients were willing to settle for less, and that he pushed them higher for his own benefit. (who knows; even if it didn’t, it doesn’t justify exorbitant awards for the lawyer too)
    • 3)You must prove that his cut was not standard for the industry. (it is limited to one third, but still does not justify exorbitant awards for the lawyer)
    • 4)You must prove that legal scholars and professionals thought the verdicts excessive for the matter at hand. (there are plenty of people and other lawyers that say it is excessive; especially tort-reform proponents; according to legal and medical experts who spoke with CNSNews.com, they say John Edwards used “junk science” to win cases)
    • 5)You must prove that John Edwards centers his business on the unethical, perhaps illegal solicitation of clients, that they didn’t seek him out. (Exorbitant awards is unethical; Why not let the victims keep most of it? Who else were they going to turn to? Victims are at the mercy of the system; an abused system)
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Image-based politics would have you argue this all from what you feel is right, but if you want to break free of that and truly motivate people to care, you have to demonstrate logically and factually at once that your opinion is soundly based on fact and good thinking.
    The facts and what is ethical is all that matter. I presented the facts, and what I believe is ethical (and unethical).

    BTW, John Edwards won more than 50 cases with verdicts or settlements of $1 million or more, according to North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, and 31 of those were medical-malpractice suits. During his 20 years of suing doctors and hospitals, he perfected the art of blaming psychiatrists for patients who commit suicide. He also found new ways to blame doctors for delivering babies with cerebral palsy (according to doctors, fellow lawyers and legal observers who followed Mr. Edwards’ career in North Carolina).

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I’m giving Edwards the benefit of the doubt. Call me biased, call me naive, call me too trusting, but until a convincing factual picture of his misdeeds and practices arises, I would find it rather bad manners to speak ill of the man. Being a rather successful personal injury lawyer does not make you a greedy ambulance chaser. Other things do, and until you present me with those, I’ve got no reason to allow you to get away with a poorly founded argument.
    Again, it’s not poorly founded. Your defense of John Edwards is poorly founded if you are saying, as Rocky is, his wealth did not come from large awards. It did.

    The other issue is one of ethics (i.e. were the awards exorbitant?).
    In my opinion, they were exorbitant.
    If you disagree, then fine. That’s a dead-lock.

    Yes, I believe it is highly possible that partisan bias is possible, based on things I’ve already seen, and because John Edwards is a Democrat.

    Rocky wrote: The amounts are immaterial, and frankly, unless Edwards has done anything illegal, it is none of our business how much money he makes.
    Just because something is not illegal does not mean it is ethical.
    Rocky wrote: You cannot prove that Edwards has been unethical,
    I already have, if one believes his awards are exorbitant (which I do). The label “ambulance chaser” is well deserved.
    Rocky wrote: d.a.n , I wasn’t born yesterday, and you’re just going to have to do a lot better than repeating the same mantra over and over, before I will find your argument convincing.
    Believe whatever you like.

    John Edwards got rich suing people.
    That ain’t right.
    But, perhaps you can’t see that?

    Rocky wrote: Look, you can bitch all you want about Edwards’ wealth, but unless you can actually prove your point it is just your opinion, and it sounds like sour grapes to me.
    It’s not his wealth.

    I have proven my point, whether you believe it or not.
    There’s nothing wrong with being wealthy.
    It’s how he got it.
    Perhaps you can’t see the difference ?

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 29, 2007 7:22 PM
    Comment #205692

    Dan,

    “Yes, I believe it is highly possible that partisan bias is possible, based on things I’ve already seen, and because John Edwards is a Democrat.”

    I could give a rat’s ass if Edwards was a Whig. It doesn’t matter to me.

    Bias?
    How could I be biased if I don’t care?

    Oh, and BTW, you haven’t proven anything.

    Your case against Edwards is innuendo and opinion, nothing more.

    If you have the facts, show them, if you can’t, hey, you’re entitled to your opinion, but don’t try to shove opinion on me as facts.

    That some people hold the same OPINION doesn’t make it any more true. It is only opinion. Some people think we haven’t landed on the moon, they are also entitled to their opinion.

    Edwards has done nothing unethical, or he would have been censored by his peers.
    Unlike doctors, the Bar will remove a lawyer for impropriety. It happens more than you might think.

    Posted by: Rocky at January 29, 2007 7:37 PM
    Comment #205701
    Rocky wrote: d.a.n , I could give a rat’s ass if Edwards was a Whig. It doesn’t matter to me.
    That was addressed to Stephen’s question.
    Rocky wrote: Oh, and BTW, you haven’t proven anything.
    Sure I have. You just don’t believe it. You argued his portion, and I disproved that his wealth came from anywhere else but his huge awards. Besidses, that is a well know fact that isn’t disputed. Even John Edwards does not dispute that fact.
    Rocky wrote: Your case against Edwards is innuendo and opinion, nothing more.
    Not true. It is based on facts and my opinion of what is ethical. The fact is: John Edwards got rich from many large personal injury law suits. My opinion is: that ain’t right.
    Rocky wrote: If you have the facts, show them, if you can’t, hey, you’re entitled to your opinion,
    I did. I showed you both.
    Rocky wrote: …but don’t try to shove opinion on me as facts.

    You can refrain from the debate anytime you like.
    Just stop posting if it bothers you so much.

    To portray me as forcing anything on you is pure nonsense.

    Rocky wrote: That some people hold the same OPINION doesn’t make it any more true. It is only opinion.
    There are large numbers of people that share that opinion, and a whole lot of them are lawyers (especially the lawyers that are proponents of tort reform). Again, I presented fact and my opinion. The fact is: John Edwards got rich from many large personal injury law suits. My opinion is: that ain’t right.
    Rocky wrote: Some people think we haven’t landed on the moon, they are also entitled to their opinion.
    Yes, I’ve heard of people like that. I’m not one of them.
    Rocky wrote: Edwards has done nothing unethical, or he would have been censored by his peers.
    That’s your opinion. Not mine. In my opinion, John Edwards earned the label “ambulance chaser”. And he got rich doing it.
    Rocky wrote: Unlike doctors, the Bar will remove a lawyer for impropriety. It happens more than you might think.
    Doctors can also lose their license to practice, but what doctors do isn’t the issue. There are bad apples in all professions.

    Or, are you trying to discredit the doctors or the medical profession?

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 29, 2007 8:13 PM
    Comment #205705

    Dan,

    “Or, are you trying to discredit the doctors or the medical profession?”

    As I posted before, one of the biggest reasons that malpractice insurance is so expensive is that the AMA will not police it’s own members.

    That is a fact.

    It is also a fact that you are attempting to smear John Edwards because he made a lot of money (and maybe because he is a Democrat, (see, bias can work both ways) doing his job within the bounds of his profession, and within the bounds of the law.

    IMHO, your point is…well…, pointless.

    Give me a crime, or give it a rest.

    Posted by: Rocky at January 29, 2007 8:32 PM
    Comment #205710

    Legal does not equate to ethical.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 29, 2007 9:01 PM
    Comment #205712

    Yeah, you said that already.

    Posted by: Rocky at January 29, 2007 9:07 PM
    Comment #205716

    Yes, and you avoid it.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 29, 2007 9:17 PM
    Comment #205727

    I just did.

    Posted by: Rocky at January 29, 2007 9:55 PM
    Comment #205734

    Exactly.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 29, 2007 10:19 PM
    Comment #205743

    Hillarious ; )

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 29, 2007 11:10 PM
    Comment #205881

    Dan-
    1)Edwards is an agent of his clients. If his clients say he pushed them into things, or suggested things that made them uneasy, it reflects on his character, and also on any assessment of greed.

    2)Regulatory agencies and scholars could provide objectively checkable standards that would indicated if he crossed any lines.

    3) and 4) The Merits of the case determine whether they are frivolous. The frivolity of the case determines whether the case merits a large verdict or not. They also define what can be called exorbitant, because that term applies to things that have gone beyond customary, legal, or appropriate limits. Well, what defines appropriate? The norms of the profession, the wishes of the client, the legal opinions handed down- The only limits he seems to have exceed are your personal limits on how much people are allowed to morally take from a lawsuit. Now, maybe the public could generally end up agreeing with your assessment, but your authority must come from something greater than just your personal inclinations.

    On my other points-
    1)If you’re calling him greedy, It helps to demonstrate a pattern of excessive verdicts. A good indication of excess is a court regularly reducing the award, or limiting it to actual damages.

    2)It also helps to illustrate that given not merely the opportunity but the suggestion by the client that they take less that he browbeat them into getting more, because is a documentable, significant choice

    3)As I said before, custom and law are key parts of the definition of exorbitance. There must be standard limits.

    4)Who is who establishes those limits?

    5)Don’t dodge the question: the very implication of the term Ambulance chaser is a person who pursues personally clients, even though the law says that they must let them come to them. A lawyer cannot approach you and offer to represent you. You must approach them. Otherwise, it’s solicitation. As for the victim keeping most of it, six-tenths to two thirds IS most of the money.

    There’s another issue amongst your responses.

    I think I can establish that the views presented in the first link are pretty much Bullshit.

    I could start by speaking of the sources (the Washington Times, which is not known for its journalistic excellence, or CNS news service which proudly portrays itself as Right-Wing), but an argument from bias is a cheap argument.

    So much better to demonstrate the bias.

    First and foremost, There are plenty of sources that pretty much say that premiums are not going up because of malpractice liability claims.

    Additional reasons include:
    1)Malpractice Insurance Companies are making up for lost money on their investments.

    2)The companies are just gouging people.

    3)Problem doctors are causing a great deal of malpractice claims, which makes it a problem of self-policing for the doctors.

    Additionally there are problems with the notion of a crisis caused by Malpractice claims. First, not everybody wins. Second, not all punitive damages (the damages you could claim were excessive) stand up. As one of the sources at that link establishes (the page links to multiple sources), damages are often reduced on appeal, because of limits on the malpractice insurance payouts, or in anticipation of the reduction of damages. Moreover, these payouts represent a small fraction of what are certainly escalating healthcare costs.

    Even on the science portion, you’ve got trouble. One warning sign should be the use of the term “junk science”. This is a term born of the Right-Wing propaganda mill, used to dismiss global warming, evolution, environmental issues, and of course, the ill effects and addictiveness of smoking. Two of the authors referenced in that work, Walter Olson, and Peter Huber are members of The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a conservative think tank. And what about Boisseau, the lawyer referenced in the story?

    Well, these paragraphs say it all:

    Eldon L. Boisseau of the Kansas-based firm Turner and Boisseau, specializing in defending doctors’ insurance companies from medical malpractice lawsuits, agreed that physician-caused cerebral palsy “occurs only rarely.”[emphasis mine]

    Each of these three main sources has an ulterior motive for being antagonistic. Good ole Eldon specializes in defending these cases against lawyers like Edwards, and the other two are funded by a right wing think tank set up to provide a publishing platform for Republican talking points, especially tort reform and the cause of battling “junk science”, which as I’ve established is not so much bad science as science that the interest groups in the GOP don’t like.

    Speaking of that…

    “At the end of the day, I verily believe we will find [the cause of cerebral palsy is] all genetic,” Boisseau said in an interview with CNSNews.com.

    Yea, verily. Totally genetic. Entirely the consequence of bad genes from the parents! Thank you doct… wait, no, this is junk science right here. First and foremost, while infant hypoxia is no longer considered the predominant cause, it is still considered a major cause, to the tune of about ten percent. There are about 6 to 8 thousand children born a year with cerebal palsy in the US, so doing the math, we come out with a figure of about six to eight hundred children a year who are given this disability by hypoxia. Given that NC has about 3% of America’s population, that’s at least 18-24 kids who get cerebal palsy a year from hypoxia in that state. If he practiced law over the course of 5 years, he would have a legitimate client pool of about 90 to 120 children.

    This all, of course, is just mathematical. Real results may vary proportionately or disproportionately with national incidence for various reasons. Indeed, Medical Malpractice is not the predominant reason for this disorder. But uncommon does not equate with nonexistent or junk. Cerebral Palsy is a disorder that results from brain damage. It’s nonprogressive, and though genetics can play a role, it’s likely more in predisposition than in total Hypoxia can be a cause, and there can be any number of mistakes by a doctor that contribute to that.

    I was born hypoxic myself, premature because the doctor induced labor rather than wait to have me born by C-Section. I’ve turned out relatively well because I was rather quickly rushed for neonatal care at a nearby children’s hospital. But I really didn’t need to have been born like that. Doctors can screw things up that open them to legitimate liability.

    So what kind of junk science are we talking about? Can a doctor’s error cause hypoxia? Yes it can. Can that damage the brain? Yes it can. Do scientist believe this is the cause of Cerebral Palsy, a nonprogressive disorder caused by brain damage at or around birth? In one out of ten cases, yes. Is that enough to provide legitimate claimaints for malpractice in North Carolina’s population? Yes, especially over the course of a number of years.

    Of course, to get a real read on the cases, and the legitimacy of them, you would need to know the facts of the case. What actions did the doctor take or not take? That is at the heart of malpractice.

    You accept the word of some pretty biased sources, sources with pre-existing agendas that would give them a conflict of interest for providing defenses for Edwards, sources that used scientific fact to make unscientific claims and arguments that were mostly centered around one thing: making Edwards look like an ambulance chaser.

    It looks pretty much like you’re falling for the tactics you detest. This will happen as long as you don’t do your own home cooking with your arguments, and as long as you accept low thresholds of evidence for claims, especially scientific ones. People can make plenty of claims for their own reasons, and the facts are the only way to distinguish the right from the wrong. Merely using bias as a means to distinguish such factuality, one will only end up becoming trapped in one’s own bias instead. Only facts can counteract both personal biases, and those of media and political opponents.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 30, 2007 7:21 PM
    Comment #205884

    Stephen Daugherty,
    It is very simple:

    • (1) John Edwards got very weatlhy from suing people (mostly doctors). That is a fact that no one can change. John Edwards won more than 50 cases with verdicts or settlements of $1 million or more, according to “North Carolina Lawyers Weekly”, and 31 of those were medical-malpractice suits.

    • (2) In my opinion, that is an unethical, vile practice and abuse of the system by using a lawsuit to receive an exorbitant amount of money, capitalizing on the pain and misery of others, and is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed. In my opinion, the label “ambulance chaser” is VERY well deserved.
    You and Rocky disagree.
    So it’s a deadlock.
    There’s nothing you can say that will change my mind, because I believe it is flagrant greed, and you and Rocky do not.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 30, 2007 7:47 PM
    Comment #205906

    Dan-
    As long as people judge things primarily by personal opinion and not the kind constrained by an examination of the facts, the images will reign above the facts, the cheaters over those who do the actual good. It’s easy to get people to react based on what they already feel, if you tell them the right story. We can be lead around in circles by our beliefs.

    It’s much hard to piece the story together yourself, to check the facts and the assumptions, to rebuild their dependencies on each other. But that’s the first step towards freedom: finding things out.

    If you really want to confront politicians that seek to control you by leaving out important facts, the first and most important thing to do, is to make sure that what’s left out by the politicians, is not left out by other sources; that the only person truly left out of the loop, is the politician who hasn’t yet discovered that few bought his lies.

    You have to be careful with sources. I can accept sources with a bias, but sources with an agenda are a different matter. Everybody’s got some slant. It’s the facts that matter, and getting them right.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 30, 2007 9:41 PM
    Comment #205960
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n , As long as people judge things primarily by personal opinion and not the kind constrained by an examination of the facts, the images will reign above the facts, the cheaters over those who do the actual good.
    Agreed.

    But that is not the case here.
    I presented enough facts to form my opinion.

    This is the ONLY facts I need:

    • F_A_C_T_S: John Edwards got very weatlhy from suing people (mostly doctors and hospitals). John Edwards won more than 50 cases with verdicts and/or settlements of $1 million or more, and 31 of those cases were medical-malpractice suits. He had one case alone with an award of $23 million. Another case was for $3.7 million. Another was for $5.75 million. John Edwards lives in a 28,200 square feet mansion on a 102 acre estate. Wikipedia states that his net worth is between $12.8 million and $60 million. John Edwards did not inherit his wealth, and it did not all come from profit on investments. John Edwards has never disputed where his wealth came from. Wikipedia states, and no one disputes “Edwards made his personal fortune through his trial successes”.

    Based on that alone (and feel free to try and disprove any of it):

    • In my opinion, that ain’t right. It is not unethical (even if it is legal). It is a vile practice and abuse of the legal system by using a lawsuit to receive an exorbitant amount of money, capitalizing on the pain and misery of others, and it is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed.

    You disagree.
    Fine.
    We disagree.
    I haven’t changed your opinion, and you and Rocky have not changed my opinion.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: It’s easy to get people to react based on what they already feel, if you tell them the right story. We can be lead around in circles by our beliefs.
    What story? I just gave you the simple facts.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: It’s much hard to piece the story together yourself, to check the facts and the assumptions, to rebuild their dependencies on each other.
    Don’t need stories. Just the facts. Stories aren’t always facts. I could give you more facts, but all I need is the following:
    • John Edwards got very weatlhy from suing people (mostly doctors). John Edwards won more than 50 cases with verdicts or settlements of $1 million or more, and 31 of those cases were medical-malpractice suits.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: But that’s the first step towards freedom: finding things out.
    Yep. The second step is opinion based on the facts. We disagree.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: If you really want to confront politicians that seek to control you by leaving out important facts, the first and most important thing to do, is to make sure that what’s left out by the politicians, is not left out by other sources; that the only person truly left out of the loop, is the politician who hasn’t yet discovered that few bought his lies.
    Politicians lie ? No ! You don’t say.

    Now, if you are trying to say I’m lying, then prove it. Where is the lie (or mistake) in the F_A_C_T_S paragraph above?

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You have to be careful with sources. I can accept sources with a bias, but sources with an agenda are a different matter. Everybody’s got some slant. It’s the facts that matter, and getting them right.
    Bias, slant, agenda; they’re essentially the same. They are only bad if the premise is flawed, or if the facts are wrong. The rest is opinion, and my opinion has not changed.

    Based on that one F_A_C_T_S paragraph (above) alone:

    • It is a vile practice and abuse of the legal system by using a lawsuit to receive an exorbitant amount of money, capitalizing on the pain and misery of others, and it is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed. In my opinion, the labels “ambulance chaser”, “greedy”, “cheater” are VERY well deserved. Also, the system should not allow this abuse. Not only does it diminish the award for the victims, it unfairly enriches the lawyer with lottery-type award. That, in my opinion, is unethical, even if it is legal. And, while it proves nothing, I am not alone in that opionion. There are vast numbers that agree, and many of them are lawyers themselves, such as the “Texans for Lawsuit Reform” organization, and many others like it. Granted, some organizations have motives to limit liabilities, which is not my point. My point, and my opinion is that the huge awards for the lawyers is an abuse of the system, and clear-cut case of greed. It is cheating.

    That’s my opinion.
    Our difference of opinion says something about BOTH our characters.
    My opinion is not flippant, and does not apply to all persons of any profession.
    Such a harsh opinion of someone is not taken lightly.
    I stand by my opinion 100% unless someone can disprove the F_A_C_T_S above.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 31, 2007 9:27 AM
    Comment #206110

    Dan,

    “It is a vile practice and abuse of the legal system by using a lawsuit to receive an exorbitant amount of money, capitalizing on the pain and misery of others, and it is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed. In my opinion, the labels “ambulance chaser”, “greedy”, “cheater” are VERY well deserved. Also, the system should not allow this abuse. Not only does it diminish the award for the victims, it unfairly enriches the lawyer with lottery-type award. That, in my opinion, is unethical, even if it is legal. And, while it proves nothing, I am not alone in that opionion. There are vast numbers that agree, and many of them are lawyers themselves, such as the “Texans for Lawsuit Reform” organization, and many others like it. Granted, some organizations have motives to limit liabilities, which is not my point. My point, and my opinion is that the huge awards for the lawyers is an abuse of the system, and clear-cut case of greed. It is cheating.”

    !!!!!sarcasm alert!!!!!

    …… and we are surely cast out upon a “vast”, roiling sea of hyperbole…. Surely he must be in league with Lucifer……

    !!!!!end of sarcasm!!!!!

    Of course you are entitled to your opinion, but holy crap dude.

    First you assume that Edwards is an “ambulance chaser”, a term that, by definition, means that he solicited his “victims”.
    Then you assume that he has consciously set out, and made it his goal to abuse the “system”, to deceitfully “cheat”, and to “capitalize on the misery of others”.
    The fact that lawyers of this type are offering a service where they are allowed to set the price, or the percentage (within certain boundaries pre-set by the law), and that their “victims” sought them out, and thusly fully capable of seeking other counsel if they believe the price is too high, never seems enter the equation.

    The mere concept is ridiculous, and repeating this concept ad nauseum, and that there might be a questionable “vast” others that hold the same opinion, makes it no less absurd.

    We, here in America, love to tear down those we deem as too successful, a practice, BTW, I despise.
    This opinion is a perfect example of that practice.

    So yes, you are absolutely right, we disagree, and on any point even remotely similar to this, we always will.

    Posted by: Rocky at February 1, 2007 11:05 AM
    Comment #206151

    Dan-
    The facts? He’s won a lot of cases, medical malpractice included, has made a lot of money, is now rich because of his takes from these cases, which average about a third of the total- customary in personal injury cases, as any lawyer would tell you.

    You haven’t sucessfully established the factual character of his cases, his dealings with his clients, his adherence to the laws and ethical provisions of his profession, or even the fact that what he’s doing is responsible for increased premiums or a state-wide health crisis. You uncritically accept the position of a person speaking on behalf of a special interest group, without evidence to back it up.

    Facts? I provided you with facts, and you’re ducking behind the notion that it’s your opinion, rather than try and rebut a factual picture that essentially exposes the tort-reform lobby as being full of hot air.

    As long as facts are less important than opinions, image-based politics, and all that you profess to hate, will rule supreme, because in a world where opinions are all that matter, all points of view are equal, and some just more equal than others. But when facts are important, and the right facts are present, some opinions will be better informed, and some will reflect reality better than others.

    We can both say that the facts support our opinions, but only I have provided a comprehensive factual picture, rather than just bunch together my opinions and my unsupported claims, and call them facts.

    You claim that Edward’s earnings are exorbitant, I present the facts that a take of 1/3 is standard in personal injury, and that exorbitant, as a word means customary and legal, which I can argue a take of 1/3 is, according to the facts.

    You claim that Edwards and those like him are driving up health care costs, and I present evidence in return that says that liability costs aren’t a big part of what’s making healthcare more expensive, malpractice insurance costlier, or rural clinics difficult to keep open.

    You claim that Edwards is a greedy ambulance chaser. Yet you provide no evidence to back the claims that he is crossing moral lines to get more money.

    If I were to claim that Bush is a greedy land speculator, I’d have the decency to relate the circumstances around the sale of real estate around the Ranger’s new stadium, where he and others used imminent domain law to seize the land of those who didn’t sell them their land cheap enough, and then made money off the profits of these ill-gotten gains.

    I don’t have to say “It’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it.” Somebody reading that, unless they deny the facts, could see an abuse of power there, without having to just arbitrarily agree.

    For me, it’s a fundamental rule of approach: when telling people how you feel about a certain law or political point, it often helps to include the information, the logic, and the sources that led you to that conclusion. Instead of expecting people to be persuaded by an arbitrary personal opinion, something diffuclt to prove or disprove, I give them provable facts, that can add up to the feeling I get from what I see.

    There are profound overlaps between people concerning what they want, what they need. However, such overlaps do not always coincide with a common knowledge of the facts. Now, it’s much harder to change somebody’s overall feelings on things, but if they already have a certain sensibility about things, about corruption, for example, then those who work to make certain facts common knowledge can lead the way for many of those people to respond to the dirty politics.

    I embrace narrative, that is relating a story like a journalist would, because often what people need is a digestion of what’s going on, and how events and facts relate to each other.

    What’s important in this form is what things add up to, what they prove. I very much believe in emulating the standards by which journalists operate when it comes to making allegations. I might start shorthanding things after a while, but only after I’ve established facts in the records concerning these things.

    I’ve tried to do you the respect of not merely flatly contradicting you, but also providing you with the facts that back my alternative view. Will you do me the same favor and do a better job of describing Edward’s behavior, and the cases he worked on? If you don’t do the research, then you can’t carry the point any further, or convince anybody else.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 1, 2007 2:34 PM
    Comment #206194
    Rocky wrote: d.a.n , !!!!!sarcasm alert!!!!! and we are surely cast out upon a “vast”, roiling sea of hyperbole. Surely he must be in league with Lucifer. !!!!!end of sarcasm!!!!!

    Of course you are entitled to your opinion, but holy crap dude.


    Talk about hyperbole.
    Feel better now?

    Rocky, you are going to run into people that don’t always agree with you. It’s best to get used to it. Especially when so many people also believe it is an abuse of the system (many of which are lawyers themselves). Otherwise, you’re gonna be doin’ a lot of runnin’ around sayin’ “holy crap dude”.

    First you assume that Edwards is an “ambulance chaser”, a term that, by definition, means that he solicited his “victims”.
    Not true.

    The slang term is more encompassing that that, and does not merely apply to solicitation alone. It is a common term that many use to describe lawyers that abuse the system by using a law suit to obtain lottery-type awards by capitalizing on the pain and misery of others.

    • “ambulance chaser” (noun): Slang. A person who practices law: attorney, counsel, counselor, lawyer. Chiefly British: barrister.

    But, that does NOT mean all lawyers are bad.
    Neither are doctors.
    But, in John Edwards case, IMO, it is a term that is well deserved.
    But, if you want to quibble over the technicalities of the definition of the label, let me refrain from that term.
    Instead of the term “ambulance chaser”, I’ll just call it “greedy”, “flagrant greed”, and a “vile practice”.
    How’s that?

    Rocky wrote: Then you assume that he has consciously set out, and made it his goal to abuse the “system”, to deceitfully “cheat”, and to “capitalize on the misery of others”.
    Precisely. It is an abuse of the system, even though it is not illegal.
    Rocky wrote: The fact that lawyers of this type are offering a service where they are allowed to set the price, or the percentage (within certain boundaries pre-set by the law), and that their “victims” sought them out, and thusly fully capable of seeking other counsel if they believe the price is too high, never seems enter the equation.
    People that are damaged by a tort are the real victims.

    Then, a large portion (up to one-third) of their award is kept by the lawyer, diminishing the victim’s award.
    In some cases those awards are reasonable.
    Sometimes the awards are obscene (obviously excessive), providing lottery-type awards for the lawyer.

    So, you think that’s OK ?
    Just because something is legal, does that make it ethical ?

    But, due to the obvious flaw in the abused system, victims have little choice about it.
    The victims can accept two-thirds, or nothing. That’s not much of a choice. It’s not like they will get a court appointed lawyer that will earn a reasonable amount. No, sadly, the law allows this abuse where some lawyers receive lottery-type awards, and diminishing the victim’s award.

    Rocky wrote: The mere concept is ridiculous, and repeating this concept ad nauseum, and that there might be a questionable “vast” others that hold the same opinion, makes it no less absurd.
    You keep repeating that. Look whose talking.
    Rocky wrote: We, here in America, love to tear down those we deem as too successful, a practice, BTW, I despise. This opinion is a perfect example of that practice.
    We? Speak for yourself. I am neither jealous or envious of the wealthy.
    Rocky wrote: … a practice, BTW, I despise.
    Me too.

    For example, some people support a graduated (progressive) tax system, where the income tax percentage increases as the person’s income rises. They have lots of reasons to defend their belief that it is fair, but I have never heard any convincing reason. To me, that is jealousy and envy disquised as demands for equality.

    So, your conclusion is flawed, due to that obvious contradiction.

    You are cleverly trying to confuse the abuse of the system with envy and jealousy of the wealthy.

    Good try, but that is pure and unsubstantiated nonsense.

    F_A_C_T_S:

    • John Edwards got very weatlhy from suing people (mostly doctors and hospitals). Wikipedia states, “Edwards made his personal fortune through his trial successes”. John Edwards won more than 50 cases with verdicts and/or settlements of $1 million or more, and 31 of those cases were medical-malpractice suits. He had one case alone with an award of $23 million. Another case was for $3.7 million. Another case was for $5.75 million. John Edwards won more than $152 million from 63 lawsuits (source: Center for Public Integrity). Wikipedia states (source: opensecrets.org) that John Edwards net worth is between $12.8 million and $60 million, he lives in a 28,200 square feet mansion on a 102 acre estate. John Edwards did not inherit his wealth, and it did not all come from profit on investments.

    I see that as a vile practice fueled by greed, and an abuse of the legal system.
    You, obviously, do not ?

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You claim that Edward’s earnings are exorbitant, I present the facts that a take of 1/3 is standard in personal injury, and that exorbitant, as a word means customary and legal, which I can argue a take of 1/3 is, according to the facts.
    One-Third of a fortune is still a fortune, and diminishes the victim’s award. But, the victim hasn’t much choice, do they? Again, legal does not equate to ethical.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I’ve tried to do you the respect of not merely flatly contradicting you,
    Nonsense.

    You and Rocky have done exactly that.
    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
    You are entitled to your opinion.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: … but also providing you with the facts that back my alternative view.
    Good. Nothing wrong with that. I’m not attacking you for your viewpoint. You and Rocky pounced on me for my viewpoint.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Will you do me the same favor and do a better job of describing Edward’s behavior, and the cases he worked on? If you don’t do the research, then you can’t carry the point any further, or convince anybody else.
    I have already provided all the evidence and research that is necessary (see the F_A_C_T_S above) to form my opinion that John Edwards deserves the label “greedy”, and that he got rich by capitalizing on other peoples’ pain and misery, and abusing the legal system.

    I’m aware that some tort reform is focuses on caps for victims, but I’m not for that.
    Those are often an attempt by corporations to limit liability.
    My complaint is that real victims are at the mercy of a flawed legal system that allows a lawyer to take a huge cut of the victim’s award. That’s not a service. That’s an abuse.

    Obviously, you and Rocky are both disturbed by my opinion.

    You tell me I don’t have the facts to support that opinion, when I clearly show the F_A_C_T_S above.
    I could show you more about John Edwards cases, but that is not necessary. I could tell you that John Edwards’ spin is always “I am helping the little guy”. But John Edwards screened his cases to the point that he only helped people when the defendant had deep pockets.
    I could show you that a few years ago, every neurosurgeon in Washington D.C. had been sued by some lawyer for medical malpractice. Never mind that it is unlikely that the nation’s capital has ONLY bad neurosurgeons. It appears more likely that the legal system is being abused by some opportunisted, greedy lawyers.

    And, it does not matter that some of John Edwards’ clients are not bothered by his cut (even though some probably had some disdain for the size of the John Edwards’ cut).

    No, it’s not necessary to go into each and every case.
    The F_A_C_T_S (above) are more than enough.
    Our difference of opinion says something about BOTH our characters.

    Obviously, you and Rocky are both disturbed by my opinion.

    However, I stand by my opinion 100% , based on the F_A_C_T_S above.
    It is not mere stubborness.
    It is not flippant.
    It was arrived at after much consideration.

    Rocky wrote: So yes, you are absolutely right, we disagree, …
    Yes, we disagree.
    Rocky wrote: and on any point even remotely similar to this, we always will.
    So what?
  • Posted by: d.a.n at February 1, 2007 5:09 PM
    Comment #206230

    Facts, Dan. Facts. Not your opinions, not your conclusions, not your claims, facts. A fact like: “U.S. News and World Report looked at Bush’s record and found he did not attend enough drills to meet the requirements” or “Bush was grounded because he failed to show up for a required physical.”

    Or

    “Studies by groups researching malpractice costs found them to be a minor part of the total costs in the healthcare industry”

    Or

    “Malpractice Insurance companies in Seattle were forced to refund their policy holders money they gouged from them”

    Or

    “Donald Rumsfeld repeatedly pushed for fewer troops to be involved in the Iraq invasion, even over the objections of the Army Chief of Staff.”

    Or

    “To date, The Bush Administration has found no functional WMDs in Iraq, and none younger than the Gulf War itself.”

    Come on. Get out of pundit mode, and start treating this as if you were a lawyer or a reporter. Build a case, build a story, just build it on the facts. Stop flinging rhetoric at me and calling it facts.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 1, 2007 9:43 PM
    Comment #206260
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Facts, d.a.n . Facts. Not your opinions, not your conclusions, not your claims, facts. A fact like …
    Gee. Gettin’ a little pushy there, eh? There’s no need to get so wound up.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: A fact like: “U.S. News and World Report looked at Bush’s record and found he did not attend enough drills to meet the requirements” or “Bush was grounded because he failed to show up for a required physical.”
    I did. Perhaps you didn’t see them?

    Here they are again:
    F_A_C_T_S:

    • John Edwards got very weatlhy from suing people (mostly doctors and hospitals). Wikipedia states, “Edwards made his personal fortune through his trial successes”. John Edwards won more than 50 cases with verdicts and/or settlements of $1 million or more, and 31 of those cases were medical-malpractice suits. He had one case alone with an award of $23 million. Another case was for $3.7 million. Another case was for $5.75 million. John Edwards won more than $152 million from 63 lawsuits (source: Center for Public Integrity). Wikipedia states (source: opensecrets.org) that John Edwards net worth is between $12.8 million and $60 million, he lives in a 28,200 square feet mansion on a 102 acre estate. John Edwards did not inherit his wealth, and it did not all come from profit on investments.

    Those facts are all I need to know.
    Are you disputing those facts?
    Please feel free to try to disprove those facts?
    But, if you agree with those facts, but merely don’t draw the same conclusion that I do, then we simply have a difference of opinion.
    More facts won’t change the facts above, which won’t change my opinion.
    What part of that do you not understand ?

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Come on. Get out of pundit mode, and start treating this as if you were a lawyer or a reporter.
    Pundit mode?
    • pundit (noun), A usually elderly person noted for wisdom, knowledge, and judgment
    Gee, Thanks!

    Lawyers and reporters are supposed to deal with facts.
    And so did I (see F_A_C_T_S above), which you ignore, and/or don’t believe them, and/or think is OK, perhaps even good?

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Build a case, build a story, just build it on the facts.
    Nonsense.

    I did build a case and show the facts.
    As for your incessant advice to build/tell a story … stories aren’t needed.
    Just the facts.
    What more facts do you want aside from those F_A_C_T_S above?
    That is more than sufficient.

    It’s funny.
    I get the feeling your examples of FACTS above are not mere examples, but also attempts to make derogatory comments above about Bush, Rumsfeld, etc.
    If so, you’re wasting your time.
    I don’t care about them.
    Bash ‘em all you want.
    They deserve it …
    Just like John Edwards earned the labels “greedy” and “ambulance chaser”.

    I get a big laugh when John Edwards talks about being for the little guy.
    Right. Sure he does, if the tort against the little guy is by a defendant with deep pockets (at least $1 million).
    I’d have more respect for him if he came right out and said “Precisely. I avoid cases with small awards”.
    But, instead, he talks about “Two Americas”, poverty, and the plight of the poor, and injured.
    Yet, John Edwards used a clever (but legal) tax dodge to avoid paying $591,000 in Medicare taxes.
    Never mind that he got rich by capitalizing on the pain and misery of others, and by abusing the legal system to use a lawsuit to win lottery-type awards.

    So you like John Edwards and don’t see the hypocrisy, or anything wrong with any of that?
    Fine.
    That’s what I mean by: How revealing?

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stop flinging rhetoric at me and calling it facts.
    Wow.

    Listen to yourself.
    You certainly seem accustomed to giving orders.
    Don’t you ever get tired of telling people what to do?
    Didn’t you parents tell you that is not only rude, but a waste of time?
    Is that how you win people over to believe the same as you?


  • Posted by: d.a.n at February 2, 2007 12:51 AM
    Comment #206287

    Dan-
    Those may be all the facts you need to know to come to your conclusion, to persuade yourself, but once you get beyond yourself, you need more than that. You’re not trying to convince yourself here, you’re trying to win in front of me and everybody else.

    You don’t need to tell me that we have a difference of opinion, you just need to tell me why we shouldn’t. We can both write in that mode, God knows, but you and I both know what kind of pundits I was talking about.

    You say you don’t need the facts to convince me, I say I do need more facts to convince me. Who is going to win this particular dispute? It’s a losing argument to gainsay somebody on the request for more information. Maybe if you did come across with more information, rather than just rely on his income and number of cases won, you might convince me. I’ve told you what I want to know. What’s stopping you?

    As for the “derogatory” comments about Bush and Rumsfeld, they aren’t. They’re just facts that indicate bad things about their character, or the job they’ve done. They’re examples. Each fact is checkable. You could google some of them, read other parts in books. I know the U.S. News article is online. They raise legitimate questions about the way these people did business, literally in Bush’s case, when it came to how he got the fortune that preceded his run for public office.

    Hell, I was going to concede the point on The Medicare tax filing, but I’ve reconsidered. Why? Because when I researched it, I ran across a rather interesting article.

    But accountants and tax-law specialists say that S Corporations have grown increasingly popular with lawyers, contractors and entrepreneurs. The IRS received 3,191,108 such filings last year. If anything, these experts said, Mr. Edwards used it rather conservatively. While most of his income, which included some investments, was labeled dividends on the S Corporation, for which he paid no Medicare tax, Mr. Edwards did designate $360,000 a year as wages on which he was taxed for Medicare. But even those whose business it is to collect taxes said they could find no fault with what Mr. Edwards did. ”Let’s face it,” said Veranda Smith, a government affairs associate with the Federation of Tax Administrators. ”I work for the state tax agencies, and I’m perfectly happy to say that anyone who puts in a structure that pays more taxes than necessary is nuts.”

    Indeed, how revealing. He did save on Medicare taxes, but he did pay them on other money he earned. They are popular among people who essentially run their own business, which Edwards did, and according to the experts that they talked to, used rather conservatively by him. And what do the tax collectors say? Anybody who structures their taxes in such a way as to pay more than necessary is “nuts”. How bad could what he did be if even a tax collector can’t find fault with it?

    What’s more, the facts learned in the article kind of put a damper on your charge that he’s a greedy man:

    Friends and neighbors say Mr. Edwards does not flaunt his wealth and generally avoids its trappings.

    and

    The Edwardses recently vacationed at Walt Disney World, but for the most part, vacations are to Raleigh or to the beach house.

    and

    ”You’re not talking people who are in love with money for its own sake,” said Glenn Bergenfield, a friend of the couple’s since law school, and godparent to their two sons. They have a live-in nanny. Mr. Edwards drives a Buick and Mrs. Edwards a Chrysler minivan. Aides say Mr. Edwards could no more say the brand of shoes or suit he is wearing than he could the exact distance to the moon. ”He just doesn’t care,” one said. Wade Hargrove, a former law partner, said Mr. Edwards once asked for advice on buying a boat. ”He wound up with a little small boat, a little runaround boat with an outboard motor on it,” Mr. Hargrove recalled. ”Hell, he could have bought a yacht.”

    and

    ”They don’t live an extravagant lifestyle at all, we’re not talking jewelry and clothes,” Ms. Downey said. ”They do what people do when they have kids. With a little bit of money you can give them ballet lessons and braces when they need them, as opposed to saying either braces or ballet. They don’t have the hard choices that many people have, but that’s good.” The Edwardses set up an endowment at the University of North Carolina, where they received their law degrees, and a program in Raleigh in the name of their son Wade, who died in 1996. Mr. Edwards bought a house for his brother, and a friend said the couple had paid at least a year’s college tuition for the son of friends who could not afford it.

    With the kind of money that Edwards has, he could easily live the high life. But he doesn’t. He chooses not to. That fact reflects well on his character.

    And you know what? If I hadn’t been perturbed about what you were telling me, if I hadn’t followed my instincts and sought out what the story was, instead of just jumping to a conclusion based on a few facts, I might have thought ill of him for the wrong reasons.

    What is revealing is your repetitive use of Republican and Conservative leaning sources and talking points. Have you really cut ties to any kind of bias or partisanship, if you so consistently seek out such sources? If you’re not independent from Republican thought and GOP fed news services, then you’re not really independent. What does it matter that you don’t associate with the party, if you still rely on those associated with them to inform you and form your philosophy?

    It’s always useful to step beyond the partisan material. That’s why I go to the mainstream news for my sources. There, I at least have a chance of learning something my party or the other party doesn’t want me to known. Then I have the opportunity, now informed, to actually confront who I have to confront on the matter. All else needed is the courage to confront. That’s where the bias presents the make or break point. I hope, more often than not, that I have the courage to speak truth to power, even if it’s from my own party.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 2, 2007 9:17 AM
    Comment #206288

    Dan,

    In this discussion, I haven’t seen anyone dispute the meager facts you have provided from which you say you have based your opinion upon. These facts, as presented, are public record.
    What you haven’t provided is any evidence that would support your claims of abuse of the system, or that Edwards only takes cases that will give him a large reward.

    That link from National Review is emotional, editorial, baloney.

    Show me a logical explanation, not an emotional interpretation, that has lead you to your conclusions.

    The mere fact that Edwards has been able to make himself wealthy, while trying personal injury cases, proves nothing.

    Posted by: Rocky at February 2, 2007 9:23 AM
    Comment #206345
    Rocky wrote: d.a.n , In this discussion, I haven’t seen anyone dispute the meager facts you have provided from which you say you have based your opinion upon. These facts, as presented, are public record.
    Good. That’s progress. At least we agree on the F_A_C_T_S And those facts are enough for me. If you and Stephen want to see more facts about John Edwards, you may research it yourself.
    Rocky wrote: What you haven’t provided is any evidence that would support your claims of abuse of the system, or that Edwards only takes cases that will give him a large reward.
    Baloney. I provided sufficient facts (see above).

    50 of John Edwards cases (of 63 cases for awards totaling $152 million) were for $1 million or more.
    Seems pretty damn clear to me.
    But the nationwide average tort award is $51K .

    Next?

    Rocky wrote: That link from National Review is emotional, editorial, baloney.
    Not true. It contains some facts (e.g. “quotes”) about a case, which you conveniently choose to ignore, like many other facts.
    Rocky wrote: Show me a logical explanation, not an emotional interpretation, that has lead you to your conclusions.
    I have (many times). However, logic isn’t working.
    Rocky wrote: The mere fact that Edwards has been able to make himself wealthy, while trying personal injury cases, proves nothing.
    It proves enough. In my opinion, it proves an abuses of the legal system to use a law suit (over and over), capitalizing on others’ pain and misery, to win huge lottery-type awards, a manifistation of unchecked greed, which also greatly reduces his clients’ awards. While it is legal, legal does not equate to ethical. But you disagree. Fine. In my opinion, based on these facts, John Edwards earned the label “greedy”. You don’t agree. Fine. That’s what I mean by: How revealing?

    We look at the same facts and draw a different conclusion.
    That is a difference of opinion.

    You and Stephen certainly seem disturbed and determined to debate this forever.
    Why ?

    Regardless, I stand by my opinion 100% .
    I’m not changing my opinion merely because you don’t like it.
    Since you are not disputing the facts I provided, it is simply a difference of opinion.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n , Those may be all the facts you need to know to come to your conclusion, to persuade yourself, but once you get beyond yourself, you need more than that. You’re not trying to convince yourself here, you’re trying to win in front of me and everybody else.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n , Those may be all the facts you need to know to come to your conclusion, to persuade yourself, but once you get beyond yourself, you need more than that.
    Get beyond myself ? Look whose talking. You and Rocky certainly seem disturbed and determined to debate this forever. Why ?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You don’t need to tell me that we have a difference of opinion, you just need to tell me why we shouldn’t.
    I don’t need anything of the kind. You’re entitled to your opinion. It’s not my job to fix that.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: We can both write in that mode, God knows, but you and I both know what kind of pundits I was talking about.
    Modes? No, I don’t. Who?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You say you don’t need the facts to convince me,
    False. I provided facts. You don’t dispute them. You simply draw a different conclusion from them. You and Rocky can go on and on, and you won’t change my mind, unless you can disprove those facts.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: It’s a losing argument to gainsay somebody on the request for more information. Maybe if you did come across with more information, rather than just rely on his income and number of cases won, you might convince me. I’ve told you what I want to know. What’s stopping you?
    Do your own research. It’s not my job or duty to do it for you. I’ve already provided facts that prove my point to my satisfaction. There’s more, but more isn’t necessary.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: As for the “derogatory” comments about Bush and Rumsfeld, they aren’t. They’re just facts that indicate bad things about their character, or the job they’ve done. They’re examples. Each fact is checkable. You could google some of them, read other parts in books. I know the U.S. News article is online. They raise legitimate questions about the way these people did business, literally in Bush’s case, when it came to how he got the fortune that preceded his run for public office.
    I never disputed those examples and could care less of the accuracy. That wasn’t the point.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Hell, I was going to concede the point on The Medicare tax filing, but I’ve reconsidered. Why? Because when I researched it, I ran across a rather interesting article.
    Figures.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: What’s more, the facts learned in the article kind of put a damper on your charge that he’s a greedy man:
    Not at all. Abusing the legal system to use a law suit to win lottery-type awards, greatly diminishing the awards to the client, and capitalizing on the pain and suffering of others, is a manifestation of unchecked greed.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Friends and neighbors say Mr. Edwards does not flaunt his wealth and generally avoids its trappings.
    The Edwardses recently vacationed at Walt Disney World, but for the most part, vacations are to Raleigh or to the beach and house So?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: What is revealing is your repetitive use of Republican and Conservative leaning sources and talking points.
    I belong to no party, and show no favoritism to either. In the last election, I voted for Democrats, Libertarians, Independents, and one local non-incumbent Republican who was running unopposed anyway. So, your accusations of Republican leanings are false. If you look at my political compass, you see that my leanings are centrist, and slightly Libertarian. Still, I’m not a member of any party, and see no point in it.

    The fact is, there is little difference between the parties.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I say I do need more facts to convince me.
    Fine. Go find them yourself.

    IMO, there has been an obvious, flagrant abuse of the legal system (even if it is legal) fueled by greed.
    You obviously don’t think so.
    IMO, this obvious abuse falls perfectly into the category of cheating, one of the points in your article above. It seems odd to me that you can not see the cheating by the abuse of the legal system. You concede the one-third cap, but fail to acknowledge that one-third is still too much. You fail to see that as an abuse. You fail to see the greed in that. You both ignored the fact that (at one instance) every neurosurgeon in Washington D.C. has been sued. What does that mean? That all of those surgeons are bad? Or that the legal system is being abused (due to greed)?
    You both ignore that fact that John Edwards rarely took on any cases where the awards were $1 million (or more), while the average tort award (nation-wide) is only $51K.

    So, we disagree completely.
    Now what?
    We could flip for it, but it wouldn’t prove anything, would it?

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Who is going to win this particular dispute?
    Nobody. Why don’t you get it? We look at the same facts and draw the opposite conclusion.

    Why is it so important for you and Rocky to keep this up?
    If you know you are right, then why worry about it?

    This is going nowhere.
    We look at the same facts and draw an opposite conclusion.

    Therefore, this is my last post on this thread.
    Feel free to get in the last word, if it is that important to you.

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 2, 2007 12:56 PM
    Comment #206393

    Dan-
    Your responses puzzle me. You show obvious concern and dismay that we don’t change our minds, underlining, bolding and spreading out the letters of the word FACTS as if it should be plain to us.

    Yet you say you have no intent to persuade us.

    You say you provided sufficient facts for us to draw your conclusion, yet we’ve told you no, we aren’t satisfied with the facts you’ve provided.

    Your argument is that Edwards makes too much money to be a moral man. Good heavens, if we made that argument, we’d be called communists! But since we’re not, we don’t mind a person making a lot of money, so long as it’s not evident that they’re hurting people to do that, or taking money from them without giving them something in return. In each case, Edward’s Clients got two thirds of the take, much of it often free and clear of other costs. He made these people rich, in compensating them for their pain and suffering. What evil!

    He lives a relatively frugal life, according to the link I provided How does that square with Edwards being greedy? Is he a miser? No, he paid for his brother’s house, paid for the education of a friend’s son, among other things.

    The accuracy of these facts is very much the point. If you want to ceaselessly argue the same thing, no matter what evidence we provide, fine. But it’s hypocritical to demand we face facts when you don’t face ours.

    If our facts are correct, Edwards is not that greedy of a man. If they are correct, What Edwards does is not ambulance chasing. If they are correct, what he does is of great benefit. If they are correct, the tax plan he employs is not the immoral greedy act you portray it as. if they are correct, what he does is not driving up healthcare costs or putting scores of doctors out of business.

    In the course of debating this, I have seen you use one source after another that is identifiably connected to the Republican party, or the conservative media machine. Given your ostensibly non-partisan position, I find this rather puzzling. If I were you, I’d be looking for the secondary sources, if I could find them and link those. That, or I could look for nonpartisan publications to get their view on the subject, and determine whether their “facts” are an artifact of their associations.

    Whether you like it or not, you have gone out of your way in this thread to attack a Democrat, and have used very conservative publications to back yourself up. If you’re not qualifying the material in there, am I unreasonable in assuming you agree with it?

    You told me to go find the facts to convince me. Good heavens man, it’s not my job to research support for your position! Why should I win this debate for you? I’ve already given you plenty of assistance I didn’t have to, by telling you what lines of inquiry you could follow. We’ve done our share of the work, backing our positions. Have at it. It’s your opportunity to shine. Your opportunity to truly put us in our place by finding the holes in our arguments.

    And no, we haven’t disputed or denied what you wrote. We just don’t accept the interpretation because of what else we know and have found out. We take it in a different context, and accept different facts. Contented that your view is correct, you have allowed nothing about the rather salient facts we’ve given, faze your opinion.

    You ask what’s so important to us. Well, let me put it this way: we have spent years being badmouthed by the right. We’re sick and tired of being mischaracterized, of people making such broad generalizations about us. For us, it’s time to fight back. For us, it’s time to hold folks accountable for the accusations they make.

    For me, that means putting opinions like yours to the test, to distinguish the truth from what’s merely rhetoric and vitriol. No more free shots. No more just taking it. If you want to badmouth us, to make claims like you have, you had better come at us with more than just “Edwards made a lot of money as a Personal Injury Lawyer.” You had better come at us with good evidence of his misbehavior. You had better be prepared to make a convincing case beyond just personal feelings.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 2, 2007 5:30 PM
    Comment #206417
    Stephen Daugherty wrote:If you want to badmouth us
    I bad mouthed you?

    Oh … you mean Democrats when you say us?
    Ahhh … I see.
    Nonsense.

    In my opinion, using a lawsuit to win lottery-type awards, such as John Edwards did (50 cases over $1 million each, and 63 cases totaling $159 million), diminishing the awards to the client by millions of dollars, is a vile practice, abuse of the legal system, and a manifestation of unchecked greed.

    How you like them apples, eh?

    That’s my opinion based on the facts presented (see above).
    I stand by it 100% .
    I’m entitled to my opinion.
    If you don’t like it, tough.
    All of your threats and orders are amusing …

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n, … You had better be prepared …
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: If you want to badmouth us …
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You had better come at us with good evidence …
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: we’ve told you no, we aren’t satisfied with facts you’ve provided.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: For me, that means putting opinions like yours to the test …
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: you’re trying to win in front of me and everybody else …
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stop flinging rhetoric at me and calling it facts. Facts, Dan. Facts. Not your opinions, not your conclusions, not your claims, facts. …
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Get out of pundit mode, and start treating this …
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n , Now you’re trying my patience …
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You’re flinging an ad hominem argument at me …
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Me and Rocky are of course Democrats and Liberals. Being that way, we’ve already come to certain conclusions.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Jeez man, if that’s respect, I’d hate to get on your bad side!
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Your attacks on the fact that I do have some party association, have done little to convince me that I should abandon them.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I’ve tried to do you the respect of not merely flatly contradicting you

    And here is the most ironic of all …

    Stephen Daugherty wrote:
    d.a.n , First, you don’t respect people’s right to have other opinions… .

    Funny!
    Who is admonishing who for their opinon?

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 2, 2007 8:40 PM
    Post a comment