- The Washington Times
Monday, December 21, 2015

NEWS AND OPINION:

There was the armed bank robber who filed a $6.3 million claim over injuries he sustained while fleeing the scene, and the inmate who sued a football team over a playoff loss. And don’t forget the diner claiming injury over a “flying dinner roll.” None of these legal actions made the Top Ten Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2015, a n annual judgment call made by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform.

No, that honor goes instead to PETA, which has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Naruto, a 6-year-old crested macaque monkey. The animal rights group claims that the primate owns the rights to a series of “monkey selfies.” Indeed, Naruto took pictures of himself with a special camera setup supplied by a photographer who later published the images in a book. PETA claims the publication profits belong to Naruto, not the photographer.


Furthermore, the U.S. Copyright Office says it will register copyrights “only for works produced by human beings,” a policy that the animal rights folks consider to be “an opinion.” So it’s complicated.

“These stories will make you laugh, but sadly, frivolous lawsuits are all too common,” says Lisa A. Rickard, president of the legal reform group. “As a society, we’re too quick to sue, and issues that could be settled outside of the courtroom result in expensive and unnecessary litigation and wasted time.”

The fleeing bank robber’s case came in second on the top 10 list, by the way. See all 10 winners at FacesOfLawsuitAbuse.org — a public awareness campaign created to “highlight absurd and ridiculous lawsuits against businesses, families, and communities across America,” the U.S. Chamber advises. A highlight video of the cases can be found here

POINTING THE FINGER AT TRUMP

“It’s the trope on Trump: He’s authentic, a straight-talker, less scripted than traditional politicians. That’s because Donald Trump doesn’t let facts slow him down. Bending the truth or being unhampered by accuracy is a strategy he has followed for years,” declares Angie Drobnic Holan and Linda Qiu, editor and analyst, respectively, for Politifact, the relentless fact-checking arm of the Tampa Bay Times.

The organization has deemed Mr. Trump’s collective campaign commentary as the “Lie of the Year,” noting in an analysis that the Republican presidential front-runner has “perfected the outrageous untruth as a campaign tool,” and noting that out of 77 Trump statements this year, 76 percent were “mostly false, false or pants on fire.”

They particularly cited Mr. Trump’s comment that people were cheering in the streets after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and that the Mexican government sends “the bad ones” over the U.S. border, among many others.

“Trump hasn’t apologized or backtracked on his statements. Instead, when challenged, he offers flimsy explanations and suggests he shouldn’t be held accountable — or simply insists he’s right,” the group noted in its report, adding, “Trump’s supporters, like their candidate, don’t mind the hyperbole.”

A LITTLE REMINDER

“Republicans again desire a conservative presidential nominee,” reports Gallup poll analyst Justin McCarthy. And the numbers: 60 percent of the GOPers felt that way in December 2007 — and 60 percent feel that way as of Dec. 6, 2015.

“Republican presidential candidates continue to jockey for the unofficial status of being the race’s ‘true conservative.’ The party’s front-runner, real estate mogul Donald Trump, has bucked the trend. Several of his views are not ideologically pure, but his positions on immigration — the marquee issue of his campaign — are arguably to the right of every other candidate in the race, and may explain his relatively strong appeal to very conservative Republicans,” Mr. McCarthy writes.

ONE FOR LINDSEY

And then there were 12. Sen. Lindsey Graham dropped out of the presidential race Monday, leaving a modest candidate’s legacy. Many observers were surprised by the lawmaker’s outspoken and aggressive candor on national security, a strong defense and foreign policy. But Mr. Graham has fans in other sectors.

“Lindsey Graham has been a voice of fiscal sanity in a presidential campaign filled with too many costly promises and too few specifics on savings,” says Maya MacGuineas, president of Fix the Debt, a nonpartisan organization intent on setting the nation on a more productive fiscal path.

“He made dealing with the debt a priority of his campaign and recognized that tough decisions need to be made to put our budget house in order. He has been willing to keep policy options on the table, which will be key in helping the next president govern in a fiscally responsible manner. We are sorry to see him leave the race.”

FOXIFIED

You can’t plan these things too early. The casting and staging of the next Republican presidential debate are complete. Fox News will host the live, two-hour GOP bout on Jan. 28 from Des Moines — to be distributed across assorted platforms, including Fox News Radio. The network fondly recalls its August debate, which drew a record-breaking 24-million-member audience and was the highest-rated non-sports cable broadcast of all time.

The same moderators will return: Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace will sit in the big chairs and field the questions at the event, staged just four days before the all-important Iowa caucuses. Insiders wonder, meanwhile, if Ms. Kelly and front-runner Donald Trump will have mended a spat sparked the first time around.

POLL DU JOUR

35 percent of U.S. voters are not sure who they want to win the college football championship; 29 percent of Republicans, 42 percent of independents and 36 percent of Democrats agree.

26 percent overall want Michigan State to win the championship; 21 percent of Republicans, 32 percent of independents and 27 percent of Democrats agree.

15 percent overall want Clemson to win; 20 percent of Republicans, 13 percent of independents and 13 percent of Democrats agree.

13 percent overall want Alabama to win; 16 percent of Republicans, 7 percent of independents and 15 percent of Democrats agree.

10 percent overall want Oklahoma to win; 14 percent of Republicans, 6 percent of independents and 9 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Public Policy Polling survey of 1,267 registered U.S. voters conducted Dec. 16-17.

Spats and drats to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.


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