“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Congressional Morality has to be an Oxymoron

Posting or Hosting Sex Ads Could Mean 25 Years in Federal Prison Under New Republican Proposal

A related measure would open digital platforms to liability for past crimes committed by users.

Gregory Baldwin IKON Images/NewscomGregory Baldwin IKON Images/NewscomLooking forward to a future when federal agents monitor Tinder? We won't be far off if some folks in Congress get their way.

Under a proposal from Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R–Va.), anyone posting or hosting digital content that leads to an act of prostitution could face serious federal prison time as well as civil penalties. This is obviously bad news for sex workers, but it would also leave digital platforms—including dating apps, social media, and classifieds sites such as Craigslist—open to serious legal liability for the things users post.

In effect, it would give government agents more incentive and authority to monitor sex-related apps, ads, forums, and sites of all sorts. And it would give digital platforms a huge incentive to track and regulate user speech more closely.

Goodlatte's measure was offered as an amendment to another House bill, this one from the Missouri Republican Ann Wagner. The House Judiciary Committee will consider both bills on Tuesday.

Wagner's legislation (H.R. 1865) would open digital platforms to criminal and civil liability not just for future sex crimes that result from user posts or interactions but also for past harms brokered by the platforms in some way. So platforms that followed previous federal rules (which encouraged less content moderation in order to avoid liability) would now be especially vulnerable to charges and lawsuits.

The bill currently has 171 co-sponsors, including ample numbers of both Republicans and Democrats.

Specifically, Wagner's bill would amend Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act, which says that websites and other online platforms should not be treated as the creators of user-posted content. What this means in effect is that these third-party platforms can't be sued or prosecuted for users' and commenters' illegal speech (or illegal actions resulting from speech)—with some major exceptions. Digital platforms do not get a pass for content they actually create "in whole or part," for instance.

As it stands, states cannot generally prosecute web services and citizens cannot sue them when user-generated content conflicts with state criminal law. Rep. Wagner's bill—like the similar and more-hyped "Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act" (SESTA)—would end this state and civil immunity for digital platforms in cases of "sex trafficking" or "sexual exploitation of children."

But while that may sound like a small concession, it actually opens up a huge range of activity for liability. At the federal level, the above offenses encompass everything from the truly horrific and unconscionable (like sex trafficking by force) to things like sexting between teenagers. And at the state level, definitions can be even more varied and blurry.

Wagner's bill doesn't just stop at carving out a new Section 230 exception. It also creates a new crime, "benefitting from participation in a venture engaged in sex trafficking," and makes it easy to hold all sorts of web platforms and publishers in violation.

Any "provider of an interactive computer service" who hosts user-posted information "with reckless disregard that the information in furtherance of [sex trafficking] or an attempt to commit such an offense" could face a fine and up to 20 years in prison, the bill states. And nothing "shall be construed to require the Federal Government in a prosecution, or a plaintiff in a civil action, to prove any intent on the part of the information content provider."
So in cases like, say, Hope Zeferjohn, the teen girl convicted of sex trafficking for talking to a younger teen on Facebook about prostitution, Facebook could be facing a federal charge for participating in a sex trafficking venture.

Goodlatte's proposal, meanwhile, would work by amending the Mann Act, a century-old prohibition on transporting someone across state lines for prostitution. The new section would declare that "whoever uses or operates a facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce or attempts to do so with the intent to promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person shall be fined under this title, imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both." Anyone that "promotes or facilitates the prostitution of 5 or more persons" or "acts in reckless disregard of the fact that such conduct contributed to sex trafficking" could face a fine and up to 25 years of imprisonment.

Note that no actual prostitution needs to take place. An attempt—i.e., an online ad or solicitation, or what some official sees as one—is enough.

Like SESTA—which passed the House but has stalled in the Senate—this new package of proposals is presented as a way to combat sexual exploitation and human trafficking. But all it would really do is drive sex ads further underground, making it both harder to rescue victims of sexual abuse and harder for willing adult sex workers to conduct business safely, while simultaneously enabling unscrupulous attacks on web platforms, putting an insane chill on all internet speech, and opening the way for even more government prying into everyone's digital lives.


  1. .

    What do you expect? One more attempt to further government control of every aspect of our lives. This shit has been going on for decades but finally exploded after 9/11 and the so-called Patriot Act.

    The government says never let a crisis go to waste and the sheeple, frightened out of their minds by color-coded warnings and the threat of terrorist attacks, yell 'Thank you, sir, may I have another'.

    Pitiful, but don't expect it to change. The government currently monitors all our conversations and now the Bible-thumpers wants to control what goes on between consenting adults. The CIA Director, Mike Pompeo, wants access to all social media so that a new massive date base can be constructed on every American including their buying habits and personal lives. The NSA as been expanding their snooping since it was first formed decades ago.

    The government has been trying to get control of the internet and other means of communication with the public since the media existed. Control the message is the message. These proposed bills are just the latest examples. Control the message. All sides do it. And we have a partisan divide in this country that doesn't look at anything objectively and logically but rather through strictly partisan eyes. The sheeple willingly give up their rights either for partisan reasons or because the government and both major parties run about like Robbie the Robot from Lost in Space waving its arms crazily while shouting 'Danger. Danger. Danger.'

    Makes you want to puke.


    1. .

      Today's Irony Moment

      Paul Ryan loves Rage Against the Machine.

      Tom Morello (lead guitar RATM): 'Paul Ryan Is the Embodiment of the Machine Our Music Rages Against'


    2. I like the Uncle Sam pointing at us saying:

      I want YOU to buy crap !

      Great catch, Quirk !

      Uncle Sam has stolen your slogan.....or did you sell it to him ?

  2. .

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders Goes All Nurse Ratchet On CNN

    The White House's top spokesperson had a warning for a CNN reporter on Tuesday: Ask President Trump a question at an event you're about to attend, and you may not be allowed into similar events.

    The strange moment came before a presidential bill signing ceremony in the morning. Events like that often include what's known as a "pool spray," a brief opportunity for a small group of reporters and photographers to take photos and, when possible, ask questions. The White House "pool" is comprised of a few members of the press corps who are assigned on a rotating basis to cover presidential events and file reports to be used by other media outlets when it would be impractical for the entire press corps to attend those events. When journalists are on pool duty, they are working not just on behalf of themselves and their employers but for all the journalists and outlets that receive pool reports.

    On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders gave CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta, who had drawn pool duty, an unusual warning.

    Pose a question to Trump at the pool spray after the bill signing, Sanders told Acosta, and "I can't promise you will be allowed into a pool spray again..."

    Control the message.


  3. Sarah is just what's needed in a Press Secretary, in the absence of the Mooch.

    Michelle Malkin would do well too.

    Judge Jeanine Pirro would be fine.

    You got to draw a line in the shit.

    1. Quirk would do well too, as his mind would be able to attack them from all 45 multi-dimensions, and they'd be playing with three.

      Each day he would leave them frustrated and weeping, a wonderful sight to behold.

    2. The Mooch was the best Press Secretary this county ever had.

    3. Tyrus makes a truly great Press Secretary, perhaps even better than The Mooch.

      He, basically, doesn't take questions, so it goes really well.

    4. .

      She draws her line in the shit with a heavy chisel-tip permanent shit marker.

      The job seems to be wearing on her. Not sure how long she will last.


    5. Well, she's got good backup.

      She can call on Tyrus.

      He's so big he used to eat four or five reports for breakfast.

    6. Tyrus was Greg Gutfeld's permanent bodyguard at one time.

      Tyrus brushes his teeth with the Eiffel Tower.

      Rosenstein is testifying to the Congression Committee right now.

      They want another committee to oversea the Mueller Committee.

    7. Clint Eastwood for press secretary.

    8. .

      Yea, and he's got his own chair.


  4. Much more has been said about White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders than what she herself has said during her tenure as President Donald Trump's chief spokesperson. Even by the standards of the woman who's in charge of America's most vapid display of political theater, Tuesday was not a good day.


    Here's what Acosta told Wolf Blitzer about what happened when he attended a press event for the president's signing of the National Defense Authorization bill Tuesday afternoon:

    In the moments before I asked the president the question in the Roosevelt Room as he was signing the National Defense Authorization bill, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, pulled me aside — this was prior to me asking that question of the president. And she warned me that if I asked the president a question at this pool spray, as we call them, that she could not promise that I would be allowed into a pool spray again.

  5. Anderson Cooper looks like a cyborg.

  6. Nice and peaceful around here without Bob.

  7. I been on an undercover assignment.

    Interesting stuff, and fraught with danger, but interesting.

    At one point I almost had to call for Quirk and his Ultr-light The Savior but got out of the scrap myself.

    I am getting too old for this kind of adventure.

    Yes, in the future I'll just call in Quirk and his air support, or, just send Quirk on the mission himself.

    He's actually more skilled at it than me anyway, so it seems proper just to risk his life rather than mine.

  8. Everything went well today.

    Even got approved for my new American Express account.

    whooopie !

    What you got in your wallet, eh ?

  9. A legislative career gone wrong, or is it, right ?

    Kentucky State Rep. Dan Johnson dies of 'probable suicide' in Mt. Washington

    People tend to take things too seriously.

    He could have just resigned, gotten an American Express Card, and gone on with his life.

    But no, got to be dramatic about it.

  10. Next IANDS Conference is scheduled for Bellevue, Washington August 30 - Sept 2 2018.

    This is my chance to go to one.

    Quirk, Doug, Sam you wanna go ?

    When the Speakers List is in order I'll put it up.

  11. - ‘Trump is a f**king idiot’, 'a douche,' ranted Peter Strzok, top FBI Investigator
    into trumped-up Russia inquiry :

    1. - UK: Muslim migrant who worked at Heathrow Airport jailed for “animalistic” bid to
      rape passed-out student :

    2. - EU begins court action against Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic for not taking
      enough Muslim migrants :

    3. - France is certainly not the US: Man gets suspended sentence for the rape of a
      four-year-old girl :

  12. December 14, 2017
    Megyn Kelly Leads Renewed Targeting of Trump
    By Daniel John Sobieski

    The former Fox News Anchor and part-time lingerie model, now working at the network where Matt Laurer locked his doors when not prowling the halls, has once again taken the lead in portraying President Donald Trump as a sexual predator who should be driven from office.

    Now that Sen. Al Franken has said he will resign, Rep. John Conyers is on his way out, the Roy Moore dragon has been slain, the no longer politically useful Bill Clinton has been conveniently bashed, and the Democrats are once again pure as the driven snow, the decks have been cleared to for a full frontal assault on the man who dared save the country from that great defender of women who have been assaulted, Hillary Clinton.

    Little more than a year after the Republican debate where Megyn Kelly grilled Trump on sexual harassment allegations, she resurrected three of his debunked accusers to regurgitate their earlier charges on her Dec. 11 show:

    Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Rachel Crooks on Monday morning told NBC News’ Megyn Kelly about their alleged experiences with Trump. Lisa Boyne, a fourth accuser, joined them for a news conference later that day…

    Leeds, Holvey and Crooks reflected on what it was like to watch Trump get elected after they had accused him of sexual harassment and assault…

    Leeds first spoke to The New York Times last year, alleging that Trump groped her on an airplane more than 30 years ago

    “He was like an octopus,” she said. “His hands were everywhere.”

    That’s not how another passenger on that flight remembered the transatlantic flight., casting significant doubt on the tall tale told by Jessica Leeds of groping by the Donald in the first class section..He portrayed Leeds as something between a groupie and a stalker who was rebuffed by Trump, according to the New York Post:

    Donald Trump’s campaign says a British man is countering claims that the GOP presidential nominee groped a woman on a cross-country flight more than three decades ago.

    The man says he was sitting across from the accuser and contacted the Trump campaign because he was incensed by her account -- which is at odds with what he witnessed.

    “I have only met this accuser once and frankly cannot imagine why she is seeking to make out that Trump made sexual advances on her. Not only did he not do so (and I was present at all times) but it was she that was the one being flirtatious,” Anthony Gilberthorpe said in a note provided to The Post by the Trump campaign....

    1. Megyn is really crashing, and it's a joy to behold.

      And, I used to kinda like her too....

  13. December 13, 2017
    Strzok-Page texts reveal deep bias: Clinton 'just has to win'
    By Thomas Lifson

    The first 90 texts between adulterous FBI lovers Peter Strzok and Lisa Page have been released by the Justice Department, revealing bias so severe as to disqualify the work performed by both government employees (who still are receiving paychecks, so far as anyone can tell) concerning President Trump and Hillary Clinton – and any politician of any stripe, for that matter. Even the New York Times and NBC News, both reliably anti-Trump, are giving the story play.

    The Times summarizes:....