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Member since: Mon Apr 5, 2004, 03:58 PM
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Journal Archives

Judge Says Websites Must Face Defamation Lawsuit For Calling Climate Scientist A ‘Fraud’

I love the fact that Dr. Michael Mann is suing some climate deniers. The climate deniers have been operating on the assumption that no scientist would dare sue them for their lies and that no scientist would dare submit himself to discovery. Professor Mann is doing a great job of suing a couple of climate denier websites and his lawsuit survived the motion to dismiss and an anti-SLAP claim http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/01/24/3205111/mann-defamation-lawsuit/

A judge for the D.C. Superior Court on Thursday refused to let libertarian think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and conservative news site National Review off the hook from a defamation lawsuit brought by climatologist Michael Mann, saying the sites’ musings about the accuracy of Mann’s research may not be protected by the First Amendment.

Mann had sued the outlets in 2012, claiming they published defamatory articles accusing him of academic fraud and comparing him to a convicted child molester, former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Specifically, Mann alleged that CEI published — and then National Review republished — an article calling Mann “the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except that instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science that could have dire economic consequences for the nation and planet.”

Judge Frederick H. Weisberg on Thursday ruled that while “opinions and rhetorical hyperbole” are protected speech under the First Amendment, accusing a climate scientist of lying about his seemingly factual data is serious enough to warrant defamation claims.

“The allegedly defamatory aspect of this sentence is the statement that plaintiff ‘molested and tortured data,’ not the rhetorically hyperbolic comparison to convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky,” Judge Weisberg wrote.

The statement “he has molested and tortured data” could easily be interpreted to mean that the plaintiff distorted, manipulated, or misrepresented his data. Certainly the statement is capable of a defamatory meaning, which means the questions of whether it was false and made with “actual malice” are questions of fact for the jury. … To state as a fact that a scientist dishonestly molests or tortures data to serve a political agenda would have a strong likelihood of damaging his reputation within his profession, which is the very essence of defamation.

Judge Weisberg denied CEI’s and National Review’s motions to dismiss the lawsuit.

In the real world, a defendant would normally settle after losing a motion to dismiss. Here the National Review and the CEI are far too stupid to realize that they are in trouble. These idiots can not believe that anyone would dare call them on their stupidity.

This will be a fun lawsuit to watch. I have been following this case since it was filed a couple of years ago.

Fox Host: Erickson A 'Jerk' For Calling Wendy Davis An 'Abortion Barbie'

I was somewhat surprised to see a Fox News anchor/host call Eric Erickson a jerk http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/greta-von-susteren-erickson-jerk-wendy-davis

Fox News host Greta Van Susteren on Monday criticized Red State editor-in-chief Erick Erickson for being "disrespectful to women," particularly Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis (D), who he has called an "abortion barbie."

"I don’t care how much you disagree or agree with Texas’ Wendy Davis, you have to agree that this guy, Erick Erickson, is a real jerk and is really lousy at being a spokesperson for his views," Van Susteren wrote on her blog "GretaWire."

Van Susteren said that Erickson did not smartly argue against Davis' views, and instead acted "boorish."

"Sometimes if you are smart in your debate, you persuade someone who otherwise had disagreed with you. And then there are the creeps who take cheap shots because they are too ignorant and small to engage in an important discussion," she said. "No one should pay any attention to them – they are not persuasive, they are noise, and in some instances boorish and obnoxious."

Van Susteren highlighted a few of Erickson's tweets about Wendy Davis, which were made after the state senator acknowledged inconsistencies in her bio.

Greg Abbott and the Texas GOP have taken to the use of the term #abortionbarbie on twitter. There are some very disgusting posts on twitter by supporters of Abbott.

This is going to be a very nasty race. Greg is a nasty person and his followers are just as bad.

The Campaign to Brand Wendy Davis as a Hater of Disabled People

I have been monitoring the twitter thread on #abortionbarbie and there is a pattern of Abbott supporters trying to paint Wendy Davis as being mean to disabled people. It seems that there really is a campaign by Abbott supporters to try to make this rather stupid claim http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2014/01/23/the_campaign_to_brand_wendy_davis_as_a_hater_of_disabled_people.html

Just yesterday, National Review slammed Davis for saying that Abbott had never "walked a day in my shoes." That cliché wouldn't be interesting at all if Abbott could walk. Because he can't, it's supposed to be scandal. There'll be more of this, surely, as Republicans work to portray Davis as a cruel dummy.

There is a youtube video of an adviser to Greg Abbott being blunt with his theory that women will not vote Wendy Davis because Greg is disabled


All supporters of Wendy Davis need to keep this meme in mind when talking about this race. The Abbott supporters are dying to try to change the topic off of Greg's lack of a personality and right wing positions to a new topic. I personally think that these mis-characterizations of Wendy's statements are dumb and wrong but we need to be smart in this campaign.

24th Amendment, outlawing poll taxes, turns 50

The 24th Amendment is going to be litigated in the Texas voter id case later this year http://thevoterupdate.com/trail/?p=1209#.UuGbRGfnYY3

Today marks 50 years since ratification of the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting poll taxes in federal elections.

It was on Jan. 23, 1964 that South Dakota became the 38th state to approve the amendment, completing the ratification process nearly 18 months after Congress passed the measure 77-16 in the Senate and 295-86 in the House.

Adoption of the amendment officially outlawed the practice of charging a fee for voting, which had been used by some Southern states to suppress black voter turnout after the 15th Amendment extended suffrage to African-Americans in 1870.

“The tide of a strong national desire to bring about the broadest possible public use of the voting process runs too strong to hold back,” President Lyndon Johnson said upon ratification of the amendment. “In a free land where men move freely and act freely, the right to vote freely must never be obstructed.”

The Poll Tax is relevant today when in Texas one can not vote without paying a poll tax of $3 to $22 in order to vote. Mark Veasey has raised this issue in the Texas voter id case and I think that the issue has some merit. For example the Missouri state Supreme Court held that a similar law was a poll tax Weinschenk v. State, 203 SW 3d 201 - Mo: Supreme Court 2006 http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=16462019301480907426

Plaintiffs in this case, on the other hand, offered testimony of specific Missouri voters who will have to incur the costs associated with birth certificates and other documentation to acquire a photo ID and vote. Specifically, Plaintiff Weinschenk will have to pay $12 for her birth certificate; Plaintiff von Glahn, who was asked to pay $11 for his "free" non-driver's license required to vote under the statute, will have to pay another $20 for his birth certificate. Others, like Plaintiff Mullaney, may have to incur more substantial costs for additional documentation because their names have changed since their birth. Additionally, elections officials testified to the substantial number of other otherwise qualified Missouri voters who also must pay a fee in order to vote.

Based on this evidence, the trial court found that this cost was directly connected to Plaintiffs' exercise of the right to vote. The trial court also found that the citizens who currently lack the requisite photo ID are generally "the least equipped to bear the costs." For Missourians who live beneath the poverty line, the $15 they must pay in order to obtain their birth certificates and vote is $15 that they must subtract from their meager ability to feed, shelter, and clothe their families. The exercise of fundamental rights cannot be conditioned upon financial expense. Cf. Griffin v. Illinois, 351 U.S. 12, 16-19 (1956) (holding that due process and equal protection require that indigent defendants are entitled to pursue appeals without payment of costs). In this case, Plaintiffs proved that these costs must be incurred for citizens who lack the SB 1014 mandated photo IDs to exercise their right to vote.

Given the attention to this issue, it is very appropriate to celebration this amendment

Fight for leadership of Harris County Republican Party

Jared Woodfill is a tea party idiot who has been the chairman of the county party for a while. Woodfill is being challenged for leadership of the Harris County GOP http://texpate.com/2014/01/10/the-harris-county-gop-chairman-race/

The Houston Chronicle reports that County Judge Ed Emmett has endorsed Paul Simpson in his race for chairman of the Harris County GOP, against incumbent Jared Woodfill. Emmett, a Republican, is the highest ranking member of the county party, holding the de facto executive leadership role over Harris County.

The news was broken last night on Quorum Report, where it was also reported that Emmett had donated a generous $10,000.00 to Simpson’s campaign. As the astute may recall, this is Simpson’s –a local attorney– third bid against the incumbent chair. However, unlike a previous race, this year’s election simply features the two candidates, making Woodfill somewhat more vulnerable. Emmett blasted Woodfill as being out of touch and implicit in the recent losing streak of the party. Ronald Reagan would probably not be welcome in today’s Republican Party. I would like to see the base in Harris County to be 400,000, not 150,000,” Emmett says.

Ed Emmett is well respected and this will be a fun race to watch. I have heard that the fight is getting nasty with tea party types backing Woodfill and the business types in the GOP backing Paul Simpson

Mayor Zimmer has been asked by US attorney to cease media interviews

The US attorney has asked Mayor Zimmer to cease media interviews. http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2014/01/after_national_media_appearances_zimmer_says_her_lips_are_sealed.html

This is after one appearance on MSNBC last Saturday, when she first aired her claims, and two on CNN, the last one on Monday night. She declined to speak to Fox News.

But her lips are sealed from now on, Zimmer, a Democrat, said in a statement she issued this morning.

"The U.S. Attorney's Office has asked that we not conduct additional media interviews and we are respecting their request,” the statement reads. “I stand by my previous statements and remain willing to testify under oath about all of the facts in this case."

U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Rebekah Carmichael said her office doesn't publicly discuss whether or not it has had specific meetings or conversations.

This request for a gag order tells me that that US attorney is seriously investigating this issue. You do not want your star witness out giving media interviews that can be used against that witness at trial.

Texas would be covered under proposed amendment to Voting Rights Act

I personally do not think that this amendment has a chance of passage but last week a bipartisan group of congresspersons proposed an amendment to the Voting Rights Act that would undo the damage inflicted by the SCOTUS in the Shelby County case. http://txredistricting.org/post/73550604374/proposed-vra-amendments-would-return-texas-to The act has some good stuff and some not-so good stuff but one of the key provisions would be that Texas and three other states would automatically be subject to preclearance.

Under the proposed amendments, states and local entities would be required to submit voting changes for preclearance before putting them into effect if they met the conditions of two new statutory triggers.

For states, preclearance coverage would be triggered “if 5 or more voting rights violations occurred in the State during the previous 15 calendar years, at least one of which was committed by the State itself (as opposed to a political subdivision within the State).”

Currently, four states - Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi - would be covered under the new formula.

There is no way that this amendment is going to pass. Remember Greg Abbott is taking the position in the Texas redistricting case that the Texas GOP is discriminating for partisan purposes which is okay in his opinion http://www.nationalmemo.com/texas-attorney-general-texas-didnt-discriminate-against-minorities-only-against-democrats/

Texas’ defense does not deny that Texas engaged in discrimination, but it does deny that it did so on the basis of race.

Greg Abbott backed up Texas, explaining: “In 2011, both houses of the Texas Legislature were controlled by large Republican majorities, and their redistricting decisions were designed to increase the Republican Party’s electoral prospects at the expense of the Democrats.”

In other words: The state’s Republican Party was trying to water down Democratic votes, not those of minorities.

Here is a great quote from the brief filed by Texas

From the brief filed by the state:

DOJ’s accusations of racial discrimination are baseless. In 2011, both houses of the Texas Legislature were controlled by large Republican majorities, and their redistricting decisions were designed to increase the Republican Party’s electoral prospects at the expense of the Democrats….The redistricting decisions of which DOJ complains were motivated by partisan rather than racial considerations, and the plaintiffs and DOJ have zero evidence to prove the contrary.

Got that? Texas wasn’t trying to discriminate against racial and ethnic minorities; Texas was simply trying to discriminate against racial and ethnic minorities who vote for Democrats.

In other words, Texas’ defense is that state policymakers were trying to crush the Democratic vote, and this led to inadvertent discrimination against African Americans and Latinos. As such, the argument goes, Texas was motivated by crass partisanship, and not racism, so the discrimination doesn’t really count.

I personally do not believe that the GOP will vote to save the Voting Rights Act because the amendment would subject Texas to pre-clearance.

Meetup opportunities for Fort Bend/Houston DUers

The Fort Bend County Democratic Party is having a fundraiser on Friday, January 24, 2014 with Representative Joaquin Castro as the speaker. http://www.fortbenddemocrats.org/fundraiser

I will be there along with Juanita Jean who has promised that she has some new jokes. Chairman Hinojosa will be there and it should be a fun event. We are holding the event at Tom DeLay's country club.

There is also a Ready for Hillary event in Houston the next day (January 25, 2014) in Houston. I also plan to attend this event. Here are the details for the Hillary event:

Doors Open at: 12:45PM
Program Starts at: 1:00PM
CWA Local 6222
1730 Jefferson St.
Houston, TX 77003

PDittie and I saw each other at one of the redistricting hearing. It has been along time since we tried to have a meetup.

Opposition research on Wendy Davis is being released

The GOP opposition researchers are trying to poke holes in Wendy Davis' life story and the details that she got wrong are not significant. The date of her actual divorce is when the paperwork was finalized and not when she was separated from her first husband. Does it make any difference when the divorce became final when the point of the story was that she was a single parent at the time of her separation from her first husband?

As to some of the other details, Wendy's second ex-husband and her father are defending her http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/wendy_davis_admits_fudged_facts_in_bio

Jeff Davis said paying for part of his ex-wife's education wasn't a "big deal," and told the Morning News that her past financial struggles were real.

“A lot of what she says is true,” he told the newspaper. “When she was 21, it became a little easier for her. The first 21 years were about working one, two and three jobs, trying to get through, raising a kid, driving an old Toyota pickup truck that was the smallest you could find."

Davis' father, Jerry Russell, also defended his daughter's successes in an October interview with Texas Monthly.

"She is who she is, I promise you that," Russell said. "The whole situation with the mother working at Braum’s--that’s all true."

I have given money to the Davis campaign as well as to Battleground Texas and I plan to continue to make contributions to these campaigns. Nothing in this story has changed my mind.

The fact that the Abbott team is trying to make a big deal of this crap tells me that they are worried.

New case on Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act came out today

This is really major news because there have been few cases involving Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 3 allows the DOJ to have pre-clearance rights over a political jurisdiction if that jurisdiction violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act or other laws. http://www.ballot-access.org/2014/01/u-s-district-court-in-alabama-makes-rare-use-of-section-3-of-the-voting-rights-act/

The most obscure part of the federal Voting Rights Act is Section 3, which says that if a jurisdiction persistently demonstrates a disregard of voting rights for ethnic and racial minorities, it is subject to pre-clearance from the U.S. Justice Department. This section applies to the entire nation, but has almost never been used, because between 1965 and 2013, such jurisdictions were virtually always also required to obtain pre-clearance under Section 5.

On January 13, 2014, a U.S. District Court in Alabama used Section 3 to require the city of Evergreen to obtain approval from the Justice Department, if it makes changes to the voting rolls and also if it makes redistricting changes in its city council elections. The city had been placed under Section 5 in 2012. But in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court made enforcement of Section 5 impossible, because the Court invalidated Section 4, which is linked to Section 5 and contains the formula to determine which parts of the nation are under Section 5.

The decision is Allen v City of Evergreen, southern district, 13-0107.

The DOJ and the private plaintiffs are suing in both the redistricting case and the voter id case to cause Texas to be subject to Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act. The fact that the DOJ forced a city to agree to be subject to pre-clearance is a big deal and my indicate that the courts are reacting to the SCOTUS' ruling as to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
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