Friday, August 5, 2022

Happy Friday

Two bits of good news.

All Aboard — From the Washington Post, the last hold-out on the tax/climate change bill is with it.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) said she would soon be ready to “move forward” on a revised version of Senate Democrats’ health-care, climate and deficit-reduction package, opening the door for party lawmakers to adopt the long-stalled bill as soon as this weekend.

Sinema offered her must-have support after Democratic leaders agreed to scale back some of their original tax proposals, capping days of speculation about her public silence and moving her party one step closer to fulfilling a central element of President Biden’s economic agenda.

And Alex Jones finds out that lying your ass off can have consequences.

Infowars founder Alex Jones must pay $4.1 million in compensatory damages to the parents of a 6-year-old boy killed in the Sandy Hook mass shooting, an Austin jury announced Thursday, after the right-wing conspiracy theorist’s false claims that the deadliest elementary school shooting in U.S. history was a “giant hoax” created a “living hell” for the family.

The decision means Jones, America’s foremost purveyor of outlandish conspiracy theories, could pay less than the $150 million sought by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, for remarks nearly a decade ago after the massacre in Newtown, Conn., that killed 26 people, 20 of them young children.

But it remains to be seen how much Jones, 48, might be ordered to pay in punitive damages. The jury is expected to return Friday to weigh that amount — a sum that could be considerably higher. While the damages awarded to Jesse’s parents Thursday acknowledge the suffering they endured, punitive damages can be levied to punish a defendant and prevent future abuse.

“Punitive damages are the opportunity for the jurors to send a message,” said trial consultant Jill Huntley Taylor, who was not involved in the case.

It is worth noting that nowhere in the award or in the trial itself did anyone call for Jones to be taken off the airwaves or the internet. He still has his First Amendment right to say whatever he wants. That was never the issue. It was that one of the obligations that comes with rights is the responsibility to exercise it without harming others. A lot of people fail to grasp that concept. Frankly, I doubt he does. But the rest of us get it.

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