Monday, September 29, 2008

Hooray, The Bailout Was Defeated

Hooray, the bailout was defeated. But don't expect the likes of Nancy Pelosi and our own Barney Frank to do any soul searching.

This defeat shows that politics certainly makes strange bedfellows. Many Republicans joined with some Democrats in opposing this horrible bill. Of course there were only three Congressman in Massachusetts who voted against this horrible bill - John Tierney, Bill Delahunt and Stephen Lynch. And they are to be commended. The others should be condemned for their cowardice.

Now let's see if the sky falls. More likely, the housing bubble will continue to burst, as it should. If Congress really wants to help the situation they should do what Obama has said we should do (despite his similarly shameful, cowardly support of this horrible bill), and stimulate the economy "from the bottom up" rather than from the top down.

But don't hold your breath. I doubt this is the end of corporate welfare as we know it. This particular kind of welfare is far too important to the large campaign contributors.

My previous posts on this bailout attempt:
A Shameful Suck Up
Just Say No To The Bailout

A Shameful Suck Up

Another shameful moment for our Congress is coming in its suck up to Wall Street. Once again we have bad leadership in the Democratic party, and that has and will result in more ass-kissing of the power elite, including the Bush Administration, whose incompetent Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson will now have incredible power over taxpayer money to aid the unworthy on Wall Street.

As I feared in the bailout there will be no meaningful restrictions on executive pay, despite what is being generally reported, even on NPR this morning. We are also wrongly being told that we taxpayers, who will be expected to foot the bill for this further giveaway to the rich, may actually profit from this bill eventually.

Today's latest article by economist Dean Baker, TPMCafe | Economist Dean Baker| Why Bail? The Banks Have a Gun Pointed at Their Head and Are Threatening to Pull the Trigger, explains why we should not accept the banking community's propaganda, which is being disseminated by the government "leaders" - both in the White House and Congress.

Here is our Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi:

Wow, I think this is her most shameful moment in office, probably akin to Colin Powell's most shameful moment of his career, when he presented false intelligence information to the UN to justify the invasion of Iraq.

And here, with Dennis Kucinich, is what our Speaker of the House should be saying today instead:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Just Say No To The Bailout

Once again we are being asked to trust the liars and fools who run Washington.

First we were asked to take the Bush Regime's word that suddenly terrorism was such a threat to us that we needed to give up some of our civil liberties. And thus we got the abominable Patriot Act.

Shortly thereafter we were asked by Bush, and the foreign policy duo of Dick Cheney and Cheney's pal and longtime mentor and partner-in-crime Don Rumsfeld - who together have screwed up foreign policy in their work for several different presidents, from Ford to the present Bush - to trust them about the need to go to war against Iraq because it supposedly had weapons of mass destruction. They asked for, and got, from Congress a blank check to go to war if and when these liars chose to go to war. And what a shameful disgrace this war against Iraq has been.

And now, Bush and the banking elite, for whom the Bush family has worked for decades, have asked Congress for a blank check for "$700 billion" (who knows how much, really?) to bail out Wall Street. Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, current Chairman Ben Bernanke, and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, have overseen the stock bubble and/or the housing bubble, and have continuously either lied about one or both of these bubbles, or stupidly and irresponsibly told us everything was fine while doing nothing to prevent or ameliorate the predictable problems so many other economists, not similarly blinded by the elite's narrow Wall Street agenda, could and did foresee. And now we are being asked to believe these liars and incompetents once again? And let them stay in charge?

As they attempt to bail out unworthy Wall Street, will these incompetents and/or liars also do the things they should do, such as adopt strict conditions (caps on executive pay, for example) in exchange for appropriating our taxpayer dollars? Will they democratize the Federal Reserve?

Not a chance. They were happy to expand in an instant the role of the Federal Reserve with the Bear Stearns bailout, but would they actually put it more directly under the control of the people? No way.

Sometimes, we should just say no. No to the incompetents, the liars, the crooks, the thieves, the criminals in high places, and no to the greedy capitalist pigs who have sucked lots of the lifeblood of the economy from the ordinary people who truly keep the economy working. No to the incompetents who have screwed up the economy while telling us all is well. The banking and economic elites who pretend to manage our economy for the greater good, while actually and primarily serving the narrow interests of the greedy on Wall Street, have been the tyrants of our economy for decades.

They need to get a strong message from the people that there will be no more business as usual. Will the Democrats step up to the plate? Sadly, that is not likely, because they are far too much aligned themselves with the same economic elite so undeserving of their power. So far they appear to be wimps. I have no confidence that our spineless Congress will engineer a bailout with the kind of conditions, and structural changes, that are really needed, and which would benefit the vast majority of us in the long run. I think, then, that we should instead insist that there be no bailout at all.

Bush and Company told us all was well, but suddenly now the sky is falling. We've been there before with these clowns. It's too bad the media is going along with the latest lies and manipulations and not exposing these phonies and questioning their motives. Instead, we should listen to one of the economists who was right about both the stock bubble and the housing bubble while the economic elite were irresponsibly full of happy talk. Dean Baker is one of these, and he says we should not reward incompetence and should not give these elites the bailout they now seek: No Bailout: Stop Rewarding Incompetence, by Dean Baker.

To understand better what is really going on (as the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal frequently do not get it right), see Dean Baker's blog Beat The Press | The American Prospect: Dean Baker's commentary on economic reporting. And, now more than ever, it's a fine time to read his tome The Conservative Nanny State - How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer.

Monday, September 22, 2008

NOLO, Its New Divorce Blog, and Do It Yourself Divorce

Nolo, the very reputable publisher of legal forms, books, and other aids for those with legal problems they can handle on their own ("Do It Yourself" or "DIY") has recently sponsored blogs in various legal areas.

Since April of this year, Nolo’s Divorce, Custody & Family Law Blog has been in operation. Although the blog has not had very many posts to date, the quality is excellent, as the blog is written by California family lawyer Emily Doskow, who is the very author of Nolo's Essential Guide to Divorce.

While on the subject of DIY divorce, I want to say two more things:

1) DIY divorce is not for everyone, and it is best actually to get an initial consultation with a divorce attorney in your state to discern whether you can and should in fact handle your divorce on your own, or whether you need to hire an attorney, mediator, or other professionals. OK, you can stop laughing now. Honest to God, I myself have told many individuals, at their initial free consultations with me, that they should not hire me or anyone else, and should instead consider handling their divorces themselves. Of course, DIY is generally only appropriate when there are few, if any, unresolved issues between the parties, that is, when there is little or nothing in dispute, and also when there are no matters of any complexity.

2) The Nolo book is a good book for general reference and a general understanding of divorce, but one should actually find, if possible, a more specific book applicable to the laws of one's own state. Divorce and family law are governed by state law, and each state's laws, while similar in many respects, are in fact oftentimes quite different.

When I see a good candidate for DIY here in Massachusetts, I show them my copy of How To File For Divorce In Massachusetts, a book written and published by the founders of, Massachusetts' own divorce attorney Sharyn T. Sooho, and Steven L. Fuchs.

Full Disclosure: I am not just an ardent admirer of the book and especially the website,, for which these two are responsible; I am also a longtime member/advertiser on their website, But I get no benefit from this plug, of which the authors have had no advance notice from me, nor have I even informed them that that I have been quietly promoting their book for years. (As for the Nolo book, I do not even know its author nor have I ever communicated with her.)

Now, my own edition of the Massachusetts book is quite old and I am not sure if it has been updated. But it is still the best book - even the old edition I have - which I have seen for DIY divorce on the market in Massachusetts. I have recently seen another book in several of the big bookstores and it seemed reasonably good as well, but the Sooho-Fuchs one is the best.

For information about Massachusetts divorce and family law, see the divorce and family law page of my law firm website.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Crockefeller's Sealed Divorce Records Released to Prosecutor

It seems whenever I miss a story in my own state, at least regarding the fascinating "Clark Rockefeller" (hereinafter "Crockefeller") case, Jeanne Hannah over in Michigan picks up on it. In her blog Updates in Michigan Family Law: Sealed divorce files?, she discusses the news of last week, here in the Boston Globe, that certain of Crockefeller's sealed divorce records were ordered released to the Suffolk County District Attorney. Although it is not ordinary for a court to seal divorce records in the first place (except for personal financial statements, Guardian ad Litem reports, and other confidential documents, divorce files are public records), it does happen, and I have had a number of cases where one or both parties successfully sought to have their divorce records sealed.

For information about Massachusetts divorce and family law, see the divorce and family law page of my law firm website.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Massachusetts Divorce & Wills Lawyer Blog

I just found another good, new legal blog in Massachusetts, and this one should be of interest to my readers as it is devoted to my primary area of practice - family law - as well as estate planning: Massachusetts Divorce & Wills Lawyer. It is published and written by Gabriel Cheong, who practices both family law and estate planning from his office in Quincy, Massachusetts. I have just added it to my blogroll. Have a read, subscribe to it, blogroll it, and pass the word.

For information about Massachusetts divorce and family law, see the divorce and family law page of my law firm website.

Stimulus Checks Intercepted for Child Support: My Client's Story and a Rant

While I myself have been too busy to post this past week, a few of my clients have found themselves quoted in the news. There's only one I can mention here. Cheryl Hayes, my former client, has authorized me to discuss her case after she thanked me for directing Associated Press reporter Steve LeBlanc to her this past Tuesday, thus resulting in her interview an hour later and a photo session that resulted in the following Associated Press article, AP IMPACT: Stimulus checks boost child support -, immediately published and picked up by some 300 news outlets around the world.

I find it a bit ironic that I had a hand in having my client pictured in this article, as she is a woman owed lots of child support by her exhusband and she is arguing that it is absolutely correct that the federal stimulus checks should be intercepted to pay down child support arrears. Well, I agree with her. However, up until just five or six years ago I was predominantly representing men in divorce actions. I have probably had more than my fair share of male clients who were the victims of child support orders that were too high. Indeed, I have long been both personally and professionally aware of the recent history of unfairness toward men in the Massachusetts family courts, both in custody and visitation matters and in child support determinations.

But what I now understand much better - now that I represent a larger, more representative sample of family law clients, including many more women now than before - is that family law victims are not of one gender. Too often irresponsible and even abusive individuals, whether male or female, are able to "win" in court, at least in some respects, even when the facts are against them.

When the reporter contacted me on Tuesday, and was seeking clients or previous clients who could speak to him about the issue of stimulus checks being intercepted to pay child support obligations, I immediately told him to speak with the Fathers and Families organization here in Massachusetts, and was told that he had already done so. The reporter needed, instead, somebody who was in favor of the interception of stimulus checks to pay child support arrears. Well, I certainly had someone for him. After calling Cheryl Hayes to get her approval to give her name and phone number to the reporter, I helped the reporter to make contact.

Cheryl Hayes wants even more publicity for her case, and wants me to tell even more of her story here, because it is so illustrative of the fact that there are indeed deadbeat dads out there. And boy, if there ever was one, her exhusband fits the bill. (Of course, there are deadbeat moms as well, and there are misguided, mistaken, and sometimes even incompetent court officials, and thus there exist numerous types of miscarriages of justice, leading to suffering by men, women, and children.)

The man who owes Cheryl Hayes some $30,000 somehow had the gall and the wherewithal to hire expensive attorneys to fight for the right to see his children, despite the fact that he had abused them and they were terrified of him. But this man failed to show up in court when the children's therapist and another mental health professional testified in court that the children suffered from quite egregious abuse by him while they were with him in North Dakota, and before the children moved with their mother to Massachusetts. This man has since left North Dakota and now lives in Minnesota, where he has managed to pay next to nothing in child support in the past three years, while the children have continued to struggle with therapy, and even institutionalization, as a result of his unspeakable abuse.

This man has failed to show up personally in Massachusetts to court for either of his family law cases - his visitation case (which led to a trial in which we won a ruling, after the above-described testimony, that he would have no contact with the children) and his child support case. This man has been able to avoid, halt, or otherwise dodge investigation by social service agencies and the police by moving from one state to another, and has avoided paying child support by perjuring himself in courts of at least two states, and by hiring attorneys in this state while achieving some degree of success in manipulating the court systems in at least two, and possibly three, states.

It is "men" like this who give all of us fathers a bad name and truly deserve to be called deadbeats. And it is cases like his - no less than the cases of fathers who are paying too much child support - that point up the fact that our courts are falling far short of their responsibility to find facts and dispense true justice.

We should not demonize all men who owe child support, as most of them are good people, even many of those who fall far behind in their support. (See my previous post Deadly Delinquents, Deadbeat Dads, and the Dangers of Demonization.)

Nor should we demonize men simply because they are accused of abuse. Men are more likely to be accused of abuse, but not really that much more likely actually to be guilty of abuse (physical or mental) than women, according to the available evidence. Because men are less likely to have custody of their children, and because men are still more likely to have greater expectations for financial contributions to their families, men are also more likely to be required to pay child support than women, and there is a greater number of men than women who fall behind in their support. However, men with child support obligations are more likely than women with child support obligations to actually pay those awards, according to the evidence.

These real statistics, often covered up by feminist groups and trumpeted by fathers' advocates, point out not only the inequality, unfairness, and gender bias in our expectations of both mothers and fathers that have resulted in numerous injustices in our family courts. These statistics also point to the sad reality that the facts of individual cases often do not matter: that family law conflicts too often lead to the wrong results (too much child support, not enough child support, custody to the wrong parent, etc.) because of the unfair procedures, bias, incompetence, and other failings in the judicial system.

Each case should be judged on its own facts. Far too often, because of the problems with our court system, the facts do not determine the outcome of cases. And irresponsible and abusive individuals too often are permitted to harm others with seeming impunity. And that's just sad. And wrong.

I have faith that our courts will improve. But we need more people who have suffered injustice in the family law arena to take the time to get involved and try to change the system. People like Cheryl Hayes. And people like the good men and women at Fathers & Families.

For information about Massachusetts divorce and family law, see the divorce and family law page of my law firm website.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Stealing the Vote - Will the Republicans Be Able To Do It Again This Year?

Did Al Gore win in 2000? Yes, he did. The hanging chads, and the corrupt ruling of five members of the US Supreme Court were only part of the story. If thousands upon thousands of black voters had not been deliberately disenfranchised by Jeb Bush's Florida government, as documented and reported by Greg Palast at BBC and elsewhere, and if other intentional Republican cheating had not occurred (e.g., counting overseas military votes although the ballots arrived late), Gore would have been declared President in 2000. Despite Nader. Despite the hanging chads. Even despite a corrupt US Supreme Court which was willing to overturn the Florida Supreme Court in order to put Bush in the White House. Gore would have won, and those problems would not have mattered.

And then did Kerry win in 2004? Greg Palast has made a strong case that he did in fact win - specifically, that he actually won Ohio and New Mexico, and but for Republican cheating in those states, Kerry would have, and should have, been named President in 2004. In 2004, I contributed financially to Kerry's campaign and also I was one of the many lawyers who volunteered to help the Kerry campaign monitor elections in several important states. Given a choice of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, I chose Pennsylvania, and was therefore responsible for monitoring a particular voting precinct in Scranton. (Afterwards, I joked that Kerry won Pennsylvania because I was there, and that had I opted for Ohio, Kerry would not have "lost.") The discrepancies in Pennsylvania and Florida in 2004 were not so many, but in Ohio and New Mexico they were enough, arguably (see Greg Palast's reports) to rob Kerry of the presidency.

Both Gore and Kerry did the polite, establishment thing and stepped aside for the sake of their own future careers - or whatever. To me, Gore was particularly disappointing in his refusal to fight, not for himself, but for the many disenfranchised voters whose votes were stolen in Florida. Many blamed Ralph Nader for the "loss" but the real blame belongs with the Jeb Bush-Jim Crow tactics that are frighteningly a major part of the Republican playbook, and which continue to threaten our "democracy" - that is, whatever remains of our democracy, now that big business has bought and paid for most of the politicians in Washington.

The mainstream media did not timely, accurately, and fully report the real story of 2000. Instead, weeks after the real story should have been on page one, the corporate media instead made allusions to the real story, as had already been reported in England and elsewhere in Europe, typically in a shamefully short article about the NAACP's "claims" buried on page 26. Nor did the media report on the vote stealing of 2004. The corporate media (General Electric, Disney, Rupert Murdoch, et al.) has also not reported the real story on the "Help America Vote Act" (an Orwellian name for a frighteningly repulsive federal law that continues to threaten our democracy).

For the real story - as there is hardly any guarantee we will get the unvarnished truth from the corporate media just because they have the constitutional "right" of a free press - one must read Greg Palast's articles and books at

Now Greg Palast has teamed up with Robert Kennedy, Jr., in an effort to prevent a repeat of the Republican vote stealing that has occurred in the last two elections. See Perhaps Obama will win in a landslide, as Kerry should have done in 2004, and thus it will be impossible for the corrupt Republican machine to steal enough votes to take the election this time. But all who care about democratic values should be vigilant. Vote stealing is a time-honored tradition, both in this country and throughout the world - both "democratic" and "non-democratic". But while Jimmy Carter may monitor the elections in other countries, we can't expect to have outside monitors with any clout monitoring our own elections. We certainly can't count on our media to monitor the election accurately; the media, and not just FOX, has been a huge part of the problem, both in 2000 and 2004.

There is a documentary, now showing in East Cambridge, at Kendall Square's landmark theater, about vote stealing - Stealing America - The Movie - which I have not yet seen but which I will see soon. From the previews, I can see that both Robert Kennedy, Jr. and Greg Palast, among many others, are interviewed in the documentary.