Wednesday, March 26, 2008

KS AFP's Alan Cobb doesn't like us much

We've spent much of last Friday e-mailing back and forth with Alan Cobb, Executive Director of the Kansas branch of Americans for Prosperity.

He doesn't like us much.

Why? Because he doesn't like the way we represented his organization in our post about the AFP meeting of anti-government hacks in Topeka- at which Jim Ryun & Lynn Jenkins spoke.

Mr. Cobb demanded we issue a retraction- heck, take the whole post down- because we were "knowingly making a false statement(s)" about AFP.

We, very politely, told him we had done no such thing.

He, generally, didn't like that we had said AFP's stated goal was devastating cuts to government programs. We tried to explain to him that, well, his own mission statement says the goal of the organization is to cut taxes and reduce the size of the budget, which, at the federal and state level would lead to cuts in something. We just guessed as to where those cuts would be.

He didn't like that.

Excerpts of said e-mail exchanges follow. :-)

From Alan Cobb:

You have intentionally and deliberately posted false information on your blog. You have yet to provide any evidence or source for your statements about budget cuts we advocate.
No, no we haven't posted anything false- and, certainly the Americans for Prosperity web site serves as a beautiful source. He is right to say, though, that they don't lobby for specific cuts, just great big general ones. We'll get back to that in a moment.

He went on to say:
I understand you and other bloggers need to be politically provocative, but it is certainly intellectually weak, and illegal, to knowingly post untruths about groups with whom you disagree. Is the actual truth not good enough to get your folks riled up?
Gosh, tossing out insults certainly is the sign of an intellectual giants, of course. As to the "illegal" part, he supports his point by quoting for us a definition of libel.
  1. A false publication, as in writing, print, signs, or pictures, that damages a person's reputation.
  2. The act of presenting such material to the public.
I suggest you change your statements to more accurately and truthfully reflect our organizations specific goals, and ideas.
Tossing out scary legal terms in an effort to strong-arm a poor, defenseless blogger into doing what you want certainly isn't very nice. Neither is knowingly misrepresenting the law in an effort to do the same thing.

Everyone, please read the definition provided by Mr. Cobb. Note the word "person's."

A plain text reading of the Kansas statute that happens to be applicable (K.S.A. @ 21-4004 for those few, few who care) and even to Mr. Cobb's definition, says libel is an offense against a person. Americans for Prosperity is a group, not a person, and, thus, would have some pretty significant hurdles to jump before they could even attempt to bring a defamation suit. We believe Mr. Cobb is an attorney, and knows that full well- which makes it that much more unfortunate that he'd threaten us so.

But all of that is silly to discuss (as we told Mr. Cobb), because nothing we've posted anywhere on this blog ever even approaches the Kansas statutory definition of defamation (which, of course, isn't nearly as simple as the cute little quote Mr. Cobb lobbed at us in his e-mail). In the end, all we've done is offered a perspective Mr. Cobb doesn't like. Unfortunately for him, that's just not illegal.

Anyway, we responded thusly:
From: Boyda Bloc
To: Alan Cobb
Subject: RE: your blog

Mr. Cobb, we will have to continue to disagree. This blog posted nothing false about your organization, we merely correctly stated your organization leads the charge for reduced federal/state spending- reduced spending equals reductions in services. The two cannot be separated.

Your STATED goal is budget reduction, lowered taxes. Your STATED goal results in massive budget cuts and the slashing of social services. Nothing we've said is false, unless you live in a world where actions have no consequences. We, sir, do not.

We've published opinion & fact & logical extensions of AFP's mission statement, and you don't like our take on it. That doesn't make it libelous, sir.

We'll gladly do one thing for you: We'll clarify. We'll be happy to point out it isn't Social Security and Education you want to see cut. It's everything- literally all programs- that could see devastating cuts due to your efforts. It wasn't precise of us to limit it to the social programs we listed, and we apologize.

We should have been more broad.

And we should also say you don't care what gets cut, who gets hurt, and what kind of havoc you cause- as long as taxes go down, and budgets don't grow. The people of Colorado thank you, I'm sure.

In the end, Alan's right- we misspoke. We didn't commit libel, we merely didn't expound enough. They aren't calling for specific cuts in anything. They're championing cuts- ridiculous cuts- to pay for irresponsible tax policy. It might not be social programs, it might be Defense, or infrastructure maintenance- something will get cut if you cut the monies available.

So, yes, Mr. Cobb, you were right. We weren't clear. We put limits on the real damage you and your organization could do. We're dreadfully sorry- and thank you so much for giving us the chance to clarify that fact.

By the way...Mr. Cobb e-mailed us a several more times- finally saying he was asking "one more time" for us to make the changes he demanded. Hopefully this post will placate him- though, for some reason, we don't see that as a likely outcome.

And, just for giggles- here are a half dozen stories about exactly what could happen if Alan Cobb gets his way...and, wow- cuts to social services, education- even public safety as Colorado Springs is in such awful shape 55% of the city's budget is generated by sales tax..and can't afford enough people to answer 911 calls.

A Taxing Debate
, BEWARE: TABOR is coming;
After devastating government services in Colorado, the "Taxpayer Bill of Rights" threatens to spread, Commission's Revenue Cap Proposal Would Require Cuts in Education, Health, and Safety, and Harm Business Climate, Springs' 911 callers give up, Business leaders learn Colo. is still short on money for critical services, Fund our higher education.

(Credit where credit is due: The above picture was taken from the Americans for Prosperity web site. What on Earth are they doing to those children?)


Anonymous said...

lol...great post!

Anonymous said...

pure genius

Anonymous said...

Again with conservatives championing limited government...unless you say somthing they don't like. Do that and they'll scream to take away your first amendment rights so fast it'll make your head spin! Great post, BB. Well done.

Anonymous said...

Those kids have some serious swelling problems...I bet there is an ointment that'll clear that up right away.

Anonymous said...

i honestly can't believe someone who is the head of an organization- any organization- would e-mail a blogger and threaten them like this. it's kind of embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

WTF is the deal with that pic?!? I thought that only the Phelps cult used their children like that. Also, are those prison uniforms made out of duct tape? And who in the world painted "debt" on the ball and chain? I used to think that KS-AFP was just a little bit kooky, but that pic frightens me.

Anonymous said...

yeah....i think so kids are chained to debt...that's sooo clever! i'm want whoever does there media to do any press i ever need!

"quick mabel, we need chains on those infants!"

AllyK said...

I agree that I can't believe the head of an organization would do something like that. It doesn't bode well for him as a head just from a judgment stand point.

But further - doesn't he have an organization to run??

Robin said...

In criminal matters the Colorado Springs Police and the Prosecution work together to build the strongest case against you. You need a skilled Colorado Springs lawyer who will fight for you rights and your freedom. In all cases time is of the essence.

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This blog is not affiliated in any way with the Kansas Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee, Congresswoman Nancy Boyda, the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Boyda, or the campaign to re-elected Congresswoman Nancy Boyda. All commentary herein not directly attributed must be considered the opinion of the authors of this blog and not of any other individual, including Congresswoman Nancy Boyda.