November 1, 2008

"Every time someone tries to hold Norm Coleman accountable, he runs to court to try to weasel his way out of it."

Al Franken does not like being sued for defamation. Who does? I hate to see political mud-slinging turned into lawsuits, even if there are plenty of people who will make the argument that if something were really a lie -- e.g., the "Swift Boat" attacks on John Kerry -- the candidate would have sued.

I thought conservatives loathed tort suits... not to suggest that it's fine for liberals to drag political battles into the courtroom.

***

By the way, "Senator Franken"... won't that be weird? If it happens. Not really weirder than Sonny Bono in Congress. Or Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor of California. Ah, I guess nothing about blurring the showbiz/politics line can be weird anymore. It's utterly banal.

***

Did you know Sonny Bono's epitaph is "And The Beat Goes On"?

41 comments:

Palladian said...

"Did you know Sonny Bono's epitaph is "And The Beat Goes On"?"

Not only that but he also has a Sonny Bono Signature Headstone™. Order yours today!

jpr9954 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jpr9954 said...

You forgot two others:

Congressman Cooter and Congressman Gopher. Or if your prefer, Ben Jones (D-GA) and Fred Grandy (R-IA).

peter hoh said...

Don't forget our former governor, Jesse Ventura.

Too bad he didn't throw his hat in the ring for the Senate race. (snark off.)

AllenS said...

What lies did the Swift Boat Veterans tell about Kerry? Name one.

Spread Eagle said...

Comparisons to the swiftboaters is inapt. Inasmuch as everything the swiftboaters said about Kerry was true, it would have been a lawsuit without a legal theory. Unless the truth hurts is now cognizable as a tort.

rcocean said...

What's the matter with Minnesota? Bad enough to Nominate a bad comedian for Senator but to elect him?

Whats next, Secretary of State, John Stewart?

Richard Dolan said...

"I thought conservatives loathed tort suits ...."

Strange. They may not think much of suits seeking damages because the hot coffee was hot, or the cleaner lost the "lucky" pants. Punitive damages have also come in for criticism as an irrational form of economic regulation. But I have never heard any sensible conservative say that she "loathed" the tort system. That contrasts with the idea of "Senator Franken," which any conservative is likely to find loathesome beyond description.

dbp said...

"Al Franken doe not like being sued for defamation". Well, I suppose bank robbers don't like getting arrested either.

Maybe he should consider stopping the slander. Not that I think CREW has much credibility, but Norm Coleman wasn't even on their top 20 list.

SteveR said...

"I thought conservatives loathed tort suits ...."

Norm Coleman is a fine man a good republican but that doesn't make him a conservative.

jdeeripper said...

Althouse - "I thought conservatives loathed tort suits..."

OK, I'll go Cedarford on you and say Norm Coleman is Jewish.

And what's the deal with Minnesota and the mandatory Jewish Senator law. There are maybe 15 Jews in Minnesota and eventually they will all serve at least one term as U.S. Senator.

It's like the U.S. Congressman from Borough Park, Brooklyn has to be a Swede named Sven or Olaf.

peter hoh said...Don't forget our former governor, Jesse Ventura.

And that Reagan guy whatshisname!

Susan said...

And Clint Eastwood as mayor of Carmel.

Host with the Most said...

How sad.

Al Franken is a sick, twisted human being. His life is a mess of pornography addiction. I don't hate him. I feel very sorry for him. Anyone in Minnesota who actually votes for him is not someone playing with a full deck.

As to John Kerry - your sentence requires thought, Ann. A fast reading gives the impression that you believe the "Swift Boat" claims were not truthful. Though you wrote a lot about it then, I can't remember. Do you believe that Kerry was defamed?

Simon said...

Althouse said...
"I thought conservatives loathed tort suits"

I thought conservatives loathed the abuse of the tort system. We're not fond on substance abuse either, but - conceding that it has its uses - we don't think that Super Glue should be outlawed.

I think Coleman is doing the right thing, for himself and others. The public good is not served by false or deceptive politicking, but we see a surfeit of distortion and outright lying in political advertising today. This suggests that the incentive structure is pathological: it has too little on the side of the balance that serves the public interest. In large part, the problem is the limited perceived cost of such speech relative to its utility. "The basic function of law in an economic or wealth-maximization perspective is to alter incentives." Posner, The Economics of Justice 75 (1981); when the legal system is used to increase (or create) costs associated with deceptive or fraudulent politicking, and so long as the risk of overspill chilling truthful speech is limited, the benefits would seem to oughtweigh the harms.

Ann Althouse said...

Host, you can click on the "Swift Boat" tag and see what I've written about them. I think Kerry failed to refute the attack adequately and did he ever allow his records to be released? Under those circumstances and without more, I assumed the Swift Boaters were close enough to the truth that Kerry knew he'd hurt himself more by engaging in that battle than by just complaining about it.

Cedarford said...

I'd add something to Simon about the lawsuit structure - currently going too far over to "absolute 1st Amendment Right" to protect defamatory speech about public figures tends to intimidate and discourage average citizens from entering politics.

It is bad enough to have your life and family in a sort of fishbowl without hateful activists and partisans wrapping themselves in the 1st Amendment as some magical talisman against deliberately lying about and smearing your "enemy". Or the vulnerable (they think) "enemy family members that can hurt the enemy if they can be hurt."

The other areas where the law needs to clamp down are: (1) dubious SCOTUS rulings protecting the free speech rights of those seeking to damage national security by revealing state secrets; (2) Those who agitate for harm of an individual or group who raise the threat level or are contributory to violence - just not "directly involved". Hate speech statutes aren't the answer because such threats are also directed against people not in any "protected class" - Duke Lacrosse players, sex offenders on parole, etc.

Freder Frederson said...

(2) Those who agitate for harm of an individual or group who raise the threat level or are contributory to violence

Oh that's precious coming from our resident racist and Nazi Cedarford who once stated that I should be lynched by neighbors after the next terrorist attack in the U.S.

Freder Frederson said...

The public good is not served by false or deceptive politicking, but we see a surfeit of distortion and outright lying in political advertising today.


Say for instance when politicians are accused of "palling around with terrorists", being socialists, or closet muslims?

Hey said...

We don't like Tort Lawyers (or almost any lawyer, actually). Tort law, on the other hand is unabashedly endorsed - most business disputes include at least an allegation of several torts, tough that could simply be the "throw everything against the wall" school of legal thought.

The big problem with tort law is in technical areas, where juries are least bale to make acceptable decisions and where they award punitive damages. Slip and fall suits, med mal, and class actions are the most abused, as plaintiffs can make a sob story and win despite evidence. John Edwards' ouija board closings being some of the worst, blaming a doctor for cerebral palsy!

But nice provocation!

John Stodder said...

While a showbiz type in politics is nothing new -- Sen. Helen Gahagan Douglass, famed early victim of Nixon, was a showgirl, and before Ronald Reagan became governor of California, song and dance man George Murphy was also a senator -- I do think, however, this is the first time an "alternative" media figure has tried to run for a high-profile office. That might be Franken's problem. A movie star's career benefits from a good media image. To be a late-night TV comedy writer doesn't require you to live any kind of exemplary life; in fact, the opposite probably helps. It would be weird if we found out that whenever John Belushi carved out a line of coke for Franken or if Eddie Murphy sent a transsexual hooker to his hotel room, Franken said "no thanks, I'm going to run for senator from Minnesota some day, so I want to make sure I remain a good role model for kids." We want some of our artists and entertainers to take the low road and tell us what they found there. Not our politicians, though.

If he'd gone through a publicized conversion to the straight life, maybe. But if he did that, he'd probably be a Republican.

David said...

Al Franken in the Senate? I guess it might happen, but the guy really is a slime bag. We do get what we deserve in politics, though.

SGT Ted said...

Obama himself tells us that he saught out marxists and radical extremists in College. Ayers is a terrorist and was a collegue of Obamas who devoted his 1974 book to sirhan sirhan, the assiassin of Roberts Kennedy. Ayers continued his radicalism in the University using Alinskis "community organizer" subversion methods and still thinks the US and capitalism are an Imperialist evil to be overthrown and replaced by socilism by any means necessary.

If McCain had an old time crony and it was discovered that said crony had dedicated a book to the assassin of MLK, McCain would not be the Republican nominee. Repubs may have spent money like the Democrats do, but they won't countenance such associations.

But Obama was cool with that, until Ayers was outed, then tried to say this is about stuff 40 years ago, when it isn't; it's about Obamas serious lack of judgement that hanging out with America haters and agreeing with their underlieing pholosophy, all the while campaigning lately as if he's some sort of conservative who going to give us tax cuts, when it's a complete lie exposed by his wanting the last set of tax cuts to expire, which will raise my taxes.

But Obama still reveals his inner Marxist when he calls people who want to keep the money that they earn "selfish". I view Obama as selfish because he has an Aunt living in an inner-city project and does nothing to help this woman, but thinks the rest of us should pony up instead.

Obama = Captain Bullshit. On stilts.

MadisonMan said...

I won't mind if Norm Coleman is dumped from the Senate. I don't see that he's any more or less slimy than Al Franken, and I'd rather boot out a slimy incumbent, even if the replacement is slimy.

Two other Senators I won't mind seeing exit: Sen. Stevens (that's an easy one) and Sen. Dole.

Cedarford said...

Freder Frederson said...
Freder - "(2) Those who agitate for harm of an individual or group who raise the threat level or are contributory to violence."

Oh that's precious coming from our resident racist and Nazi Cedarford who once stated that I should be lynched by neighbors after the next terrorist attack in the U.S.

And like textbook, Freder again demonstrates how dumb he is, and clueless about both law and the need to tell the truth.

You are just an internet nobody - no one cares if you blunder into defamation. But if you publicly accused a Senator who was not a kneejerk Israel backer, like Jim Webb, a Nazi without substantiation - you would have some legal expenses. Similar to someone calling someone a Communist when it could have career repercussions....

And like DTL, you are quite fond of making up statements other posters never said. I called you a traitor when you said that you wanted all US troops in Iraq prosecuted as "murderers" of innocent Iraqi civilians. Like with your obsession with terrorist rights, that put you clearly in the enemy sympathizer camp. I did not advocate anyone doing violence to you.

If the people you advocate for hit us again? Maybe it would serve you right if your neighbors did string you up, but I never expressed a stance they had to, or that it would be a good thing.

Racist? That is an opinion. Accusing someone of being a Communist, for example, is different than saying racist, homo. poopyhead, jerk - in making a specific charge of organizational membership that could affect ability to get work in certain fields. Same with accusing someone of being a Nazi or member of Al Qaeda.

You lack the ability to discern between advocacy of violence - and criticism and advocacy of policy changes. Which is what most people understand, except a few like you. It is one thing to say the black underclass has huge self-induced pathologies that have to be fixed and another to advocate "some brave people to step up and burn inner cities".

Beldar said...

As always, Prof. Althouse, I appreciate the link, especially because in this case it's to something I wrote long ago that perhaps made an impression on you at the time.

However, you significantly misstate my position through omission.

On August 5, 2004, before the very first of the Swiftvets' TV advertisements appeared, a pair of law firms jointly representing the Kerry campaign and the Democratic National Committee sent a threat letter to a great many TV stations from whom the Swiftvets were trying to buy advertising time. The letter asserted that the Swiftvets' entire first advertisement was an "inflammatory, outrageous lie." They claimed that statements made in the advertisement were "totally, demonstrably and unequivocally false, and libelous." They also asserted that by accepting the ad for broadcast, the TV stations would become "responsible for the false and libelous charges made by this sponsor [i.e., the Swiftvets]."

After these explicit threats by the Kerry Campaign and the DNC, many of their allies -- among them Kenneth Baer in a much discussed and linked article in The New Republic Online, argued that Kerry ought to make good on the threats by suing. I posted a lengthy rebuttal in which I both asserted the truth of the Swiftvets' allegations and my certainty that the Kerry campaign would definitely not sue because it would provide the Swiftvets with what they wanted more than anything in the world — a way to serve John Kerry with a deposition subpoena duces tecum.

The Swiftvets themselves repeatedly invited Kerry to make good on his repeated public threats to sue.

I have never argued, and do not believe, that the mere failure of someone to bring a defamation case constitutes an implied admission that something said about that party is true.

I do believe, however, that when -- as here -- someone goes to the remarkable length of having prestigious lawyers send multiple explicit threats of defamation litigation in an attempt to suppress debate during a presidential campaign, that changes things. I think that reasonably implies a moral -- not a legal, but a moral -- obligation to put up or shut up.

Moreover, sometimes there are good reasons not to pursue even meritorious litigation, as when the plaintiff can't afford to finance the case or the defendants are judgment proof. Here, however, Kerry's resources are effectively unlimited as the husband of a catsup-and-pickles heiress. And the defendants were far from judgment-proof; to the contrary, many of them, including Swiftvets' spokesman John O'Neill (a name partner in a major Houston law firm), are unquestionably able to pay millions of dollars to satisfy an adverse judgment.

John Kerry, through his own campaign's lawyers and the Democratic National Committee's, first raised the question of a defamation lawsuit when he went on record claiming to have been defamed. Then instead of proving any of his claims in court, he slunk away.

In those circumstances, I do think that people are entitled to draw a reasonable inference that Kerry was afraid not only of losing, but of what the pretrial discovery process would have produced. And as you noted indirectly by linking my post, in 2007 Kerry permitted even the incredibly generous three-year statute of limitations from Massachusetts to run on any defamation claims he might have.

You may choose to reject the inference that I suggest. So may your readers.

I continue to believe, however, that Kerry was a liar, and that if the details of his military record and his antiwar protesting (including meeting secretly with the enemy while still a commissioned officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve) were ever probed under oath and with the power to compel production of witnesses and documents, he would have been publicly eviscerated.

Thanks for the opportunity to reply in your comments.

Mark Daniels said...

And what about Senator George Murphy?

Mayor Clint Eastwood?

Or, President Ronald Reagan?

Alphonse said...

Yep. Weirdest of all. President Reagan. Started the demolition job that Dubya finished.

AllenS said...

Very good points Beldar. I have copies of Kerry's two DD124's. Yes, two of them. Both are a joke. What is missing in his first one.

You can see why Althouse has never practiced law.

Jason said...

Ann,

You're the first person to fly into high dudgeon when someone misstates something about you or questions your motives without firm grounding. Your perfectly justifiable anger at that New Yorker blogger guy is one of a number of examples, and you have even devoted a tag to "anti-althousiana."

Well, now you have clearly stated that the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth attacks were lies. It's hard to imagine any clearer formulation than what you've posited here. But you don't mention a single lie, specifically.

I think you owe it to those veterans at least to be specific in your criticisms.

I looked through the Swift Boat tag, and you don't say anything about the boaters themselves, nor do you address their arguments specifically. The closest you come is criticizing Kerry for inept handling of their attacks, and criticize a media outlet for failure to follow up.

Ann, you said the Swift Boat attacks were lies.

I'm calling BS on that.

What, specifically, were the material lies?

Simon said...

Jason, she didn't say that the swift boat vets lied.

Ann Althouse said...

AllenS said "... Althouse has never practiced law."

Jason said "Well, now you have clearly stated that the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth attacks were lies."

Both false. Try again, guys.

Jason said...

Sorry, Ann, I have to go by your own syntax, and I can't make anything else out of what you wrote other than the Swift Boat accusations as an example of something that was really a lie.

You used the term 'e.g.', or 'for example,' and then used the swift boat allegations as something that is an example of something that was really a lie.

You used a thing as the example and not a person or a reference to a person.

There is no other way to read what you wrote, taking your syntax at face value.

Now, you could have MEANT to use PEOPLE who refer to the Swift Boat allegations as your 'e.g.' example, but that's not what you wrote.

Is that what you actually meant?

Ann Althouse said...

I said that some people will make the argument that failure to sue implies truth, that Kerry's failure to sue implied the truth of the Swift Boat attacks. I don't think failure to sue should be regarded that way, but of course, I'm not thereby making the absurd assertion that failure to sue means the attack is false. All I'm saying is that I don't like political battles taken into the courts. I want them fought out in the political sphere.

I can't even see how you got to your interpretation. I use the Swift Boat attacks as an example of a time when the argument was made that "if something were really a lie the candidate would have sued." Kerry didn't sue, so the implication is truth.

Ann Althouse said...

Also, read my 12:23 comment: "Host, you can click on the "Swift Boat" tag and see what I've written about them. I think Kerry failed to refute the attack adequately and did he ever allow his records to be released? Under those circumstances and without more, I assumed the Swift Boaters were close enough to the truth that Kerry knew he'd hurt himself more by engaging in that battle than by just complaining about it."

Ann Althouse said...

Beldar, I only linked to provide a convenient example of the way failure to sue is used to make an argument. I didn't mean to imply that you always think failure to sue implies truth.

"I thought conservatives loathed tort suits" refers to Coleman.

El Presidente said...

"I thought conservatives loathed tort suits"

The conservatives much prefer to have civil disputes settled at dawn.

James said...

Here are some swift boat lies for you hate lovers out there. Be warned though, the following article contains items such as "facts" and "records" so they may not be easily digested by those not used them. Try them. Enjoy them. They'll grow on you.

http://tinyurl.com/2kes24

James said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zuzu said...

"The Swiftvets themselves repeatedly invited Kerry to make good on his repeated public threats to sue."

A claim you know to be false, Beldar. He made no such public threats. Why do you repeat this lie?

The only example you have EVER been able to provide is the single letter sent to the TV stations running a particular SBVT ad. However, as has been pointed out to you at length, it only constituted a threat to sue in your own fevered imagination.

http://patterico.com/2007/08/27/beldar-makes-john-kerry-an-offer-too-good-to-refuse/#comment-279871

(see following discussion, including Beldar's huff-huff responses)

zuzu said...

Jason said: "What, specifically, were the material lies?"

Here's a start:

http://homepage.mac.com/chinesemac/kerry_medals/truth.html

Now, how about you tell us a single material claim they made about Kerry's military record that was proven true?

fav.or.it said...

For some reason, the text following my links in the prior two post showed up as hypertext. To clarify that text:
#37: (see following discussion, including Beldar's huff-huff responses)
#38: Now, how about you tell us a single material claim they made about Kerry's military record that was proven true?

sent from: fav.or.it