Some Things To Ponder

I do a lot of “surfing” on the internet and from time to time run into stuff I find interesting enough to pass along. So I will be including here a random assortment of links to various stuff I’ve stumbled upon. Make sure you copy and paste the ENTIRE web address into your browser. I will add more to the list over time so stay tuned.

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For starters, THE list of Washington’s top 10 most corrupt politicians: 

http://www.judicialwatch.org/judicial-watch-announces-list-

washington-s-ten-most-wanted-corrupt-politicians-2007

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Here is the text of the “H.R. 393: Universal National Service Act of 2007” which has a very good chance of passing!!! EVERYONE needs to make themselves aware of this as it could effect YOU!
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h110-393

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A REALLY angry radio show host after interviewing MITT ROMNEY:

url=http://www.jonesreport.com/article/01_08/290108

_romney_loses_larson.html

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FAMOUS NOVELIST GRISHAM USES WV’S JUDICIAL CORRUPTION FOR NEW BOOK

(01/30/2008)
By Scott Finn

West Virginia Public Broadcasting

http://www.wvpubcast.org

West Virginia’s judiciary is getting national attention from one of America’s best-selling novelists, John Grisham.

In a recent interview, he said West Virginia was an inspiration for his new book on judicial corruption.

Today Show host Matt Lauer asked Grisham about “The Appeal” on the Today Show Tuesday morning.

Basically, it involves a chemical company,” Lauer said. “They contaminate the water in the community. There’s a cancer outbreak. People die. And there’s a $41 million jury award against this company. And the head of the company says, I’m not gonna pay it. What I’m gonna do is avoid paying it by stacking the court that’s eventually gonna hear the appeal on this case. Far fetched?”

“It’s already happened,” Grisham said. “It’s already happened.”

“It’s a long term calculation,” Lauer said. “You have to be pretty sure about the money you’re investing in this.”

“Well, it’s happened,” Grisham said. “It happened a few years ago in West Virginia. A guy who owned a coal company, got tired of getting sued. He elected his guy to the Supreme Court, it switched 5-4 back his way. Now he doesn’t worry about getting sued. So it happens. It’s already happened.”

Grisham got the number of Supreme Court justices wrong, but his main point was the $3 million Massey CEO Don Blankenship spent to help Justice Brent Benjamin win his seat in 2004.

And earlier this month, photos emerged of state Supreme Court Spike Maynard vacationing with Blankenship in the Riviera – at the same time that Maynard was judging a multi-million dollar case against Massey.

Both Maynard and Benjamin voted to overturn the verdict against Massey, which saved the company $76 million.

The plaintiffs in the case have appealed the decision, and now that the pictures have come out, Maynard has recused himself from the case.

Senator Jon Hunter said it’s pretty bad when West Virginia becomes John Grisham’s poster child for judicial corruption.

“When they asked him for a specific example, unfortunately, he said West Virginia,” Hunter said.

Senator John Yoder said that the stories are even echoing through the halls of the U.S. Supreme Court.

He said he was at the court Thursday night for a dinner, and everyone from law professors to justices focused on West Virginia’s judiciary.

One professor said he now uses West Virginia in his ethics class – as an example of what not to do.

“Everyone was talking about West Virginia and how bad it is,” Yoder said. “Everybody is laughing at us.”

Senator Jeff Kessler said he has a solution: a clean elections bill for the Judiciary. He said the public funding of judicial candidates would lessen the influence of money in elections.

He also attacked the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for calling West Virginia a judicial hellhole.

Senator Evan Jenkins has his own solution: the non-partisan election of judges. Jenkins has personal experience here – he ran for the state Supreme Court in 2000 and lost in the Democratic primary.

“As many of you know, very often I speak out in areas where West Virginia seems to be out of step,” Jenkins said. “And this is clearly an area where West Virginia is out of step.”

Jenkins urged Kessler to put the non-partisan election bill on the Judiciary Committee agenda.

“So let’s be reflective of the will of the public at least give the bill an opportunity to be discussed,” Jenkins said.

Kessler said the problem isn’t political parties – it’s the money behind the elections.

Legally, there’s no way to stop individuals like Blankenship from spending their own money on behalf of candidates. But Kessler said a clean elections bill would give other candidates a fighting chance.

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University Investigates Whether Governor’s Daughter Earned Her Degree:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/22/us/22heather.html?_r=1

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