Sunday, October 28, 2007

Newser's book: Ford saw Clinton as a sex 'addict'

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Gerald Ford was disturbed by Bill Clinton's skirt-chasing ways - and thought he should check into a sex addiction clinic.

A new book on the late 38th President reveals he had strong views about the Clintons: He thought Hillary wore the pants and that Bill couldn't keep his zipped.

"He's sick - he's got an addiction. He needs treatment," Ford told Daily News Washington Bureau Chief Thomas M. DeFrank, author of "Write It When I'm Gone: Remarkable Off-the-Record Conversations with Gerald R. Ford."

Ford's wife, Betty, who founded a pioneering treatment center after her battle with alcoholism and drugs, agreed.

"You know, there's treatment for that kind of addiction," she told DeFrank during the same conversation in 1999. "A lot of men have gone through the treatment with a lot of success. But he won't do it, because he's in denial."

The Fords first got to know the Clintons in the summer of 1993, when they invited the new First Family to their home in Colorado.

Gerald Ford's impressions of the Oval Office's latest tenant were mixed. He believed Clinton was charismatic, articulate, a "helluva salesman" and the best politician he'd ever seen - even better than John F. Kennedy.

But he considered Clinton a foreign-policy wimp, and sensed that he hadn't learned from mistakes in his personal life - allegations of womanizing that dogged him during the campaign for the White House.

That opinion was based on behavior Ford witnessed the weekend he hosted the Clintons in Colorado.

"I'll tell you one thing: He didn't miss one good-looking skirt at any of the social occasions," Ford said later.

"He's got a wandering eye, I'll tell you that. Betty had the same impression; he isn't very subtle about his interest."

Nevertheless, when the Monica Lewinsky sex-and-perjury scandal erupted and barreled toward impeachment, Ford was willing to help Clinton - to a point.

After the House voted to impeach Clinton but before the Senate's decision on whether to convict him, the sitting President phoned the ex-President.

"He said he needed my help and wanted to know if I could help," Ford recalled not long after.

Ford had written two Op-Ed pieces in which he called for Clinton to admit he had lied to federal investigators in exchange for censure over impeachment.

He told Clinton that he would help him, if he agreed to such a deal.

"Bill I think you have to admit that you lied. If you do that, I think that will help - and I'll help you. If you'll admit to perjury, I'll do more," he said.

"I won't do that," Clinton told him. "I can't do that."

Ford was stunned by Clinton's lack of contrition. "It's a character flaw," he concluded.

Still, he seemed to feel for Clinton on a personal level.

"I'm convinced that Clinton has a sexual addiction. He needs to get help - for his sake. He's already damaged his presidency beyond repair," he told DeFrank.

In Ford's eyes, Clinton's weaknesses were in sharp contrast to his wife's iron will.

"She's stronger and tougher than he is," he said. "When she takes a point you're gonna have to be damn sure you're well informed because she won't compromise as quickly or as easily as he.

"She's very bright. She's strong, and I think he defers to her. When she gets her dander up, she ain't gonna roll over."

And he had no doubts about her ambitions. "Hillary is gonna be on the ticket in '04 or '08, one or the other, you can write that down," he said in 2002.

Yet he didn't think she would win - "I don't think the country is ready for a lady President," he said - and he didn't live long enough to find out if he was right.

The Clintons, through spokesman Howard Wolfson, declined to comment about the book.

Leave my child alone

More governmental bribery to get kids into the military. If the states don't comply, they lose funding...

The Dangerous Stranger - 1949 Educational Film

Online Defamation Law

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Defamation, Libel and Slander Law
Defamation, Slander & Libel (Wikipedia)

The Bloggers' FAQ on Online Defamation Law provides an overview of defamation (libel) law, including a discussion of the constitutional and statutory privileges that may protect you.

What is defamation?
Generally, defamation is a false and unprivileged statement of fact that is harmful to someone's reputation, and published "with fault," meaning as a result of negligence or malice. State laws often define defamation in specific ways. Libel is a written defamation; slander is a spoken defamation.
What are the elements of a defamation claim?
The elements that must be proved to establish defamation are:
  1. a publication to one other than the person defamed;
  2. a false statement of fact;
  3. that is understood as
  4. a. being of and concerning the plaintiff; and
    b. tending to harm the reputation of plaintiff.
  5. If the plaintiff is a public figure, he or she must also prove actual malice.
Is truth a defense to defamation claims?
Yes. Truth is an absolute defense to a defamation claim. But keep in mind that the truth may be difficult and expensive to prove.
Can my opinion be defamatory?
No — but merely labeling a statement as your "opinion" does not make it so. Courts look at whether a reasonable reader or listener could understand the statement as asserting a statement of verifiable fact. (A verifiable fact is one capable of being proven true or false.) This is determined in light of the context of the statement. A few courts have said that statements made in the context of an Internet bulletin board or chat room are highly likely to be opinions or hyperbole, but they do look at the remark in context to see if it's likely to be seen as a true, even if controversial, opinion ("I really hate George Lucas' new movie") rather than an assertion of fact dressed up as an opinion ("It's my opinion that Trinity is the hacker who broke into the IRS database").
What is a statement of verifiable fact?
A statement of verifiable fact is a statement that conveys a provably false factual assertion, such as someone has committed murder or has cheated on his spouse. To illustrate this point, consider the following excerpt from a court (Vogel v. Felice) considering the alleged defamatory statement that plaintiffs were the top-ranking 'Dumb Asses' on defendant's list of "Top Ten Dumb Asses":

A statement that the plaintiff is a "Dumb Ass," even first among "Dumb Asses," communicates no factual proposition susceptible of proof or refutation. It is true that "dumb" by itself can convey the relatively concrete meaning "lacking in intelligence." Even so, depending on context, it may convey a lack less of objectively assayable mental function than of such imponderable and debatable virtues as judgment or wisdom. Here defendant did not use "dumb" in isolation, but as part of the idiomatic phrase, "dumb ass." When applied to a whole human being, the term "ass" is a general expression of contempt essentially devoid of factual content. Adding the word "dumb" merely converts "contemptible person" to "contemptible fool." Plaintiffs were justifiably insulted by this epithet, but they failed entirely to show how it could be found to convey a provable factual proposition. ... If the meaning conveyed cannot by its nature be proved false, it cannot support a libel claim.

This California case also rejected a claim that the defendant linked the plaintiffs' names to certain web addresses with objectionable addresses (i.e., noting "merely linking a plaintiff's name to the word "satan" conveys nothing more than the author's opinion that there is something devilish or evil about the plaintiff."
Is there a difference between reporting on public and private figures?
Yes. A private figure claiming defamation — your neighbor, your roommate, the guy who walks his dog by your favorite coffee shop — only has to prove you acted negligently, which is to say that a "reasonable person" would not have published the defamatory statement.

A public figure must show "actual malice" — that you published with either knowledge of falsity or in reckless disregard for the truth. This is a difficult standard for a plaintiff to meet.
Who is a public figure?
A public figure is someone who has actively sought, in a given matter of public interest, to influence the resolution of the matter. In addition to the obvious public figures — a government employee, a senator, a presidential candidate — someone may be a limited-purpose public figure. A limited-purpose public figure is one who (a) voluntarily participates in a discussion about a public controversy, and (b) has access to the media to get his or her own view across. One can also be an involuntary limited-purpose public figure — for example, an air traffic controller on duty at time of fatal crash was held to be an involuntary, limited-purpose public figure, due to his role in a major public occurrence.

Examples of public figures:
  • A former city attorney and an attorney for a corporation organized to recall members of city counsel
  • A psychologist who conducted "nude marathon" group therapy
  • A land developer seeking public approval for housing near a toxic chemical plant
  • Members of an activist group who spoke with reporters at public events
Corporations are not always public figures. They are judged by the same standards as individuals.
What are the rules about reporting on a public proceeding?
In some states, there are legal privileges protecting fair comments about public proceedings. For example, in California you have a right to make "a fair and true report in, or a communication to, a public journal, of (A) a judicial, (B) legislative, or (C) other public official proceeding, or (D) of anything said in the course thereof, or (E) of a verified charge or complaint made by any person to a public official, upon which complaint a warrant has been issued." This provision has been applied to posting on an online message board, Colt v. Freedom Communications, Inc., and would likely also be applied to blogs. The California privilege also extends to fair and true reports of public meetings, if the publication of the matter complained of was for the public benefit.
What is a "fair and true report"?
A report is "fair and true" if it captures the substance, gist, or sting of the proceeding. The report need not track verbatim the underlying proceeding, but should not deviate so far as to produce a different effect on the reader.
What if I want to report on a public controversy?
Many jurisdictions recognize a "neutral reportage" privilege, which protects "accurate and disinterested reporting" about potentially libelous accusations arising in public controversies. As one court put it, "The public interest in being fully informed about controversies that often rage around sensitive issues demands that the press be afforded the freedom to report such charges without assuming responsibility for them."
If I write something defamatory, will a retraction help?
Some jurisdictions have retraction statutes that provide protection from defamation lawsuits if the publisher retracts the allegedly defamatory statement. For example, in California, a plaintiff who fails to demand a retraction of a statement made in a newspaper or radio or television broadcast, or who demands and receives a retraction, is limited to getting "special damages" — the specific monetary losses caused by the libelous speech. While few courts have addressed retraction statutes with regard to online publications, a Georgia court denied punitive damages based on the plaintiff's failure to request a retraction for something posted on an Internet bulletin board. (See Mathis v. Cannon)

If you get a reasonable retraction request, it may help you to comply. The retraction must be "substantially as conspicuous" as the original alleged defamation.
What if I change the person's name?
To state a defamation claim, the person claiming defamation need not be mentioned by name — the plaintiff only needs to be reasonably identifiable. So if you defame the "government executive who makes his home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," it is still reasonably identifiable as the president.
Do blogs have the same constitutional protections as mainstream media?
Yes. The US Supreme Court has said that "in the context of defamation law, the rights of the institutional media are no greater and no less than those enjoyed by other individuals and organizations engaged in the same activities."
What if I republish another person's statement? (i.e. someone comments on your posts)
Generally, anyone who repeats someone else's statements is just as responsible for their defamatory content as the original speaker — if they knew, or had reason to know, of the defamation. Recognizing the difficulty this would pose in the online world, Congress enacted Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides a strong protection against liability for Internet "intermediaries" who provide or republish speech by others. See the Section 230 FAQ for more.

The vast weight of authority has held that Section 230 precludes liability for an intermediary's distribution of defamation. While one California court had held that the federal law does not apply to an online distributor's liability in a defamation case, the case, Barrett v. Rosenthal, was overturned by the California Supreme Court (EFF filed an amicus brief in this case)
Can I get insurance to cover defamation claims?
Yes. Many insurance companies are now offering media liability insurance policies designed to cover online libel claims. However, the costs could be steep for small blogs — The minimum annual premium is generally $2,500 for a $1 million limit, with a minimum deductible of $5,000. In addition, the insurer will conduct a review of the publisher, and may insist upon certain standards and qualifications (i.e. procedures to screen inflammatory/offensive content, procedures to "take down" content after complaint). The Online Journalism Review has an extensive guide to libel insurance for online publishers.
Will my homeowner's or renter's insurance policy cover libel lawsuits?
Maybe. Eugene Volokh's the Volokh Conspiracy notes that homeowner's insurance policies, and possibly also some renter's or umbrella insurance policies, generally cover libel lawsuits, though they usually exclude punitive damages and liability related to "business pursuits." (This would generally exclude blogs with any advertising). You should read your insurance policy carefully to see what coverage it may provide.
What's the statute of limitation on libel?
Most states have a statute of limitations on libel claims, after which point the plaintiff cannot sue over the statement. For example, in California, the one-year statute of limitations starts when the statement is first published to the public. In certain circumstances, such as when the defendant cannot be identified, a plaintiff can have more time to file a claim. Most courts have rejected claims that publishing online amounts to "continuous" publication, and start the statute of limitations ticking when the claimed defamation was first published.
What are some examples of libelous and non-libelous statements?
The following are a couple of examples from California cases; note the law may vary from state to state. Libelous (when false):
  • Charging someone with being a communist (in 1959)
  • Calling an attorney a "crook"
  • Describing a woman as a call girl
  • Accusing a minister of unethical conduct
  • Accusing a father of violating the confidence of son
  • Calling a political foe a "thief" and "liar" in chance encounter (because hyperbole in context)
  • Calling a TV show participant a "local loser," "chicken butt" and "big skank"
  • Calling someone a "bitch" or a "son of a bitch"
  • Changing product code name from "Carl Sagan" to "Butt Head Astronomer"
Since libel is considered in context, do not take these examples to be a hard and fast rule about particular phrases. Generally, the non-libelous examples are hyperbole or opinion, while the libelous statements are stating a defamatory fact.
How do courts look at the context of a statement?
For a blog, a court would likely start with the general tenor, setting, and format of the blog, as well as the context of the links through which the user accessed the particular entry. Next the court would look at the specific context and content of the blog entry, analyzing the extent of figurative or hyperbolic language used and the reasonable expectations of the blog's audience.

Context is critical. For example, it was not libel for ESPN to caption a photo "Evel Knievel proves you're never too old to be a pimp," since it was (in context) "not intended as a criminal accusation, nor was it reasonably susceptible to such a literal interpretation. Ironically, it was most likely intended as a compliment." However, it would be defamatory to falsely assert "our dad's a pimp" or to accuse your dad of "dabbling in the pimptorial arts." (Real case, but the defendant sons succeeded in a truth defense).
What is "Libel Per Se"?
When libel is clear on its face, without the need for any explanatory matter, it is called libel per se. The following are often found to be libelous per se:

A statement that falsely:
  • Charges any person with crime, or with having been indicted, convicted, or punished for crime;
  • Imputes in him the present existence of an infectious, contagious, or loathsome disease;
  • Tends directly to injure him in respect to his office, profession, trade or business, either by imputing to him general disqualification in those respects that the office or other occupation peculiarly requires, or by imputing something with reference to his office, profession, trade, or business that has a natural tendency to lessen its profits;
  • Imputes to him impotence or a want of chastity.
Of course, context can still matter. If you respond to a post you don't like by beginning "Jane, you ignorant slut," it may imply a want of chastity on Jane's part. But you have a good chance of convincing a court this was mere hyperbole and pop cultural reference, not a false statement of fact.
What is a "false light" claim?
Some states allow people to sue for damages that arise when others place them in a false light. Information presented in a "false light" is portrayed as factual, but creates a false impression about the plaintiff (i.e., a photograph of plaintiffs in an article about sexual abuse, because it creates the impression that the depicted persons are victims of sexual abuse). False light claims are subject to the constitutional protections discussed above.
What is trade libel?
Trade libel is defamation against the goods or services of a company or business. For example, saying that you found a severed finger in you're a particular company's chili (if it isn't true).

NC - Penchant for secrecy ill-serves public and law enforcement

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John J. Leggett, the Fayetteville police officer cited for animal cruelty after allegedly burying puppies alive, is no longer on the force. And that, according to spokeswoman Jamie Smith, is all you need to know.

Let’s rephrase that: Smith would, by her account, be breaking unspecified privacy laws if she told you any more than that. “We can say only that his employment with us ended on Oct. 23,” she explained.

If that’s true, Bryan Beatty, head of the state Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, became a criminal last week when he opened files on two dozen internal affairs cases — penalties and all — to “assure the public that we will not tolerate serious misconduct” and show that the vast majority of officers adhere to high standards. And Gov. Mike Easley broke those laws when, on Sept. 25, he publicly praised the commander of the State Highway Patrol for firing three troopers, two for sexual misconduct, one for abusing his police dog.

Was former Fayetteville Police Chief Tom McCarthy over the line last year when he announced his retirement and gave his reasons? Did he become a recidivist when he said he wouldn’t be Chapel Hill’s next chief, after all, because he’d flunked his physical?

It’s not our aim to hammer the Fayetteville department. It’s a fine one. Not so fine is this prissy pretense, rampant in government, that officials “can’t” discuss what they’d prefer not to discuss.

If Leggett’s case involved a plea bargain, the department probably is not at liberty to disclose its terms. But that’s no privacy law, it’s a nondisclosure provision of an agreement to settle, and the department most surely is at liberty to say that a case has been settled. If, rather than animal cruelty, Leggett had been accused of mob ties, there’d be none of this “can’t” talk.

Our guess is there’s no such law, although a misguided policy may need rescinding. If it were law, half the state’s prosecutors (the half with an eye on higher office) would be habitual criminals. But if there really is a law that prohibits telling whether the man quit or was fired, or if he will be eligible to work in law enforcement after this, perhaps even with a canine division, then let’s have it — chapter and verse, so the public will know exactly what it needs repealed.

OK - New sex-offender law faces opposition

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A three-tiered ranking system takes effect Thursday.

New restrictions for sex offenders -- including a three-level ranking system that designates how long they must register -- take effect Thursday.

However, some of those who are on the front lines dealing with sex offenders believe that Oklahoma's law is having an adverse effect and needs further changes.

''Most people who know anything about this are frustrated. It is just not helpful -- the laws as they are now,'' said Randy Lopp, treatment subcommittee chairman of the Oklahoma Sex Offender Management Team.

Lopp is also a member of the review board established by the new law to categorize the sex offenders into three levels.

''I think if the general public understood the research, they would be willing to back the legislators to change the laws to make more sense and to protect children, because the laws as they are written are not protecting children," he said. "They are doing more harm than good.''

Categorizing offenders: Lawmakers changed the state law to comply with the federal Adam Walsh Act, said Jim Rabon, who oversees sex offender registration for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.
- So they could get the grant money for compliance. It's called bribery!

What the federal law calls a ''tier system,'' the new state law calls a ''numeric risk level.'' The risk level is determined by the type and severity of crime for which the offender was convicted and the number of convictions that person has, he said.

Level One offenders will register for 15 years; Level Two offenders will register for 25 years; and Level Three offenders will register for life.

As in the previous version of the law, those who are categorized as ''aggravated'' or ''habitual'' sex offenders will also be required to register for life.

Rabon said the committee that set up the levels reviewed cases of people beginning prison and probation between July 2006 and June 2007 and determined that most sex offenders fall into the highest risk category.

The review revealed that 78 percent of the sex offenders fall in Level Three, 3 percent in Level Two and 19 percent in Level One.

Based on those numbers, Tulsa Police Sgt. Gary Stansill, who has spent more than 20 years investigating sex crimes in Tulsa, said he believes that the Oklahoma law is too broad.

Under the law, he said, an 18-year-old who is convicted of statutory rape for having sex with a 15-year-old and someone who is convicted of groping an officer during an undercover sting would both be registered sex offenders for life.

''The least number of people should be in the worst tier, but the most number of people are going to be in the worst tier under the new law,'' Stansill said.

Federal law mandates that any state that does not adapt to the Adam Walsh Act will receive up to a 10 percent reduction in federal grant money. Based on past funding, that might amount to a loss of about $200,000 to $300,000 for Oklahoma, Rabon said.
- Bribery!

The loss in funding is part of the reason the state has moved to comply with the federal law, he said. Another reason is consistency.
- You see, they are complying because of money, if the money was out of the picture, these draconian laws would not be passed.

''We do recognize that if all of the states' registration systems are similar, that does make it easier to track offenders when they move from state to state,'' Rabon said.

He said it is important that people realize that Oklahoma has what he believes is one of the best sex offender registration systems in the country.

By that, he means a lot of information is available on the Department of Corrections Web site that is easy for the public to access and local law enforcement agencies to update. He said Oklahoma has a low percentage of delinquent offenders compared to other states.

The residency debate: Lopp said he doesn't believe that the offense-based assessment is the the best way to categorize offenders. He thinks a tiered system is a step in the right direction but that it should be based on the risk of the individual.

Some states have refused federal funds so they can continue to develop risk-based assessments, he said.
- And I wish more would do this as well. You can't just lump everyone into one group based on their crime, you need to review each case and then put that person in a risk level based on their past and present.

A risk-based assessment could then correspond with the residency restrictions, which have created headaches for law enforcement agencies across the country.

Stansill said residency restrictions have driven sex offenders underground in Tulsa.

The controversial state law that went into effect last year has put 90 percent of the city off limits for sex offenders by prohibiting them from living within 2,000 feet of playgrounds, parks or child-care facilities. They were already prohibited from living within that distance of a school.
- And when they move into the 10%, people scream and moan about them being there as well.

The new law does loosen the residency restrictions slightly by specifying that offenders are precluded from living near only child-care centers -- and not including day-care homes, which are numerous.

Before the residency laws, Tulsa had about 540 registered sex offenders at the peak. As of Sept. 20, 329 were registered here, Stansill said.

''If I really thought it would really do some good, then I would be all for it (the residency restrictions). Then we could focus on the people who don't want to register -- who have no good excuse for not registering -- because they are the people who are likely to be re-offending.''

The new law that takes effect Thursday requires police to register sex offenders even if the offenders intend to move into restricted areas. Previously, Tulsa police would tell an offender to look for another place to live and then come back to register.

''If I register those people, does that give them the right to live there?" Stansill questioned. "Or are we supposed to register them and turn about and work a case against them for violating the residency law?''

Stansill said sex crimes detectives are already overloaded with sex offender law violation cases.
- And why do you think there are violations? Because of the laws!! Before these new laws came to be, you did not have these issues. Put the laws back to how they were when they were working.

From 2006 to 2007 Tulsa police have investigated 228 sex offender registration violation cases. During the same time period, they investigated 275 rape cases.

Forcing offenders to move from place to place because of residency laws could do more harm than good, Lopp said.
- I think you need to replace "could" with "does"

''When you keep making these people move, you are disrupting their stability; you are disrupting their jobs; you are causing an immense amount of stress on that population,'' Lopp said.
- And adding more stress only increases the danger that some will reoffend. Think about it for once, if you had to move every week, lose your job all the time, wasting tons of money due to these issues, what do you expect? People will give up, and vanish, stop registering, then we are all in danger. Stable housing, jobs, income, food, support, etc makes people safer. Open your eyes people!

''What do we know about re-offense? Stress, job instability, living instability increase the chance of re-offense.''

Authorities say research shows that where sex offenders live is not a factor -- that most of them know their victims and that attacks often occur in the victims' own homes. But Rabon said there is more than one side to the argument about residency restrictions.

''The other side of that is that between the DOC and all of the local law enforcement agencies, . . . everybody works hard trying to locate them and keep the addresses current,'' he said.

That results in Oklahoma having a high rate of compliance, Rabon said. Of 5,462 registered sex offenders statewide, 870 are classified as delinquent, meaning their locations are unknown.

''When the residency restriction went into effect, we saw the delinquent number bump up a little bit, not a huge number,'' he said.
- You will see more and more of this as well, as people are forced to move all the time, lose their jobs, etc.

Meanwhile, Lopp hopes the committee works to encourage state and federal legislators to change the laws to make them more effective.

''What ultimately is going to have to happen to change this law is the community is going to have to get in touch with legislators and tell them, "This is not helping; this is making things worse,' " Lopp said.
- Do you really thing the community, who has been misinformed about the statistics by the media, politicians trying to make a name for themselves, are going to do this? I doubt it. You need to pass laws that work regardless of what the public thinks, IMO. You tell a lie long enough and loud enough, eventually people believe it's the truth, and that is exactly what has occurred here.

Bill O'Reilly Hates The Gay, But He Loves The Lez

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Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow mock Bill O'Reilly's hypocritical rant against J.K. Rowling's gay Dumbledore revelation. On his show, BillO tried to make a case for homophobic bigotry. But according to his sexual harassment lawsuit, married "Culture Warrior" BillO tried to scare up a FFM threeway with a female producer and her lady friend. (Via Crooks and Liars)

FL - 'Angel' the Jack Russell, saves girl from abduction