Patterico's Pontifications


In Support of Section 230 of 1996’s Communications Decency Act

Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 1:27 pm

[Headline from DRJ]

Tech critics on both sides have it wrong: Section 230 is not a special privilege:

Recently, both Republicans and Democrats have publicly questioned the future of one of the most important laws underpinning the explosion of the internet: Section 230 of 1996’s Communications Decency Act. Policymakers including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) have both called the law, which protects internet providers and platforms from liability for the content their users generate, an unfair and special privilege for tech companies.

But in a new Mercatus Center at George Mason University working paper, we discuss why Section 230 is about accelerating sound legal precedent and free speech protection, not special privilege. It emerged as the codification of a pro-speech legal principle that had been developing since the 1930s: Media distributors should very rarely be liable for the content they transmit.

Starting with earlier technologies like newswire services and radio, courts began to recognize that free speech norms and a need for pragmatic rules should outweigh arguments for holding what are essentially conduits of information liable for that information. One early case found that a radio station should not be subject to strict liability for a host remarking that a certain establishment was a “rotten hotel.” As information technology expanded, so did this norm to include new mediums and address concerns such as newsstands and libraries

The rest is at the link.


50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:43 am

On July 20, 1969, my parents sat me, an infant not yet quite a year old, in front of our cathode-ray tube television set in Park Ridge, Illinois to watch history be made. Here’s Buzz Aldrin’s description of what it was like inside the lunar lander module:

Time was running out. The Apollo 11 lunar module was on its historic descent to the moon’s crater-pocked surface on 20 July 1969 when a fuel light blinked on. Still 100ft (30 metres) above the ground, it was not what the astronauts needed. The Eagle’s tank was nearly dry.

In a new video interview about the momentous first landing on the moon, Buzz Aldrin, the mission’s lunar module pilot, describes how he held his tongue when the warning light appeared and Charlie Duke, Nasa’s capsule communicator, came on the line from Houston to inform Aldrin and Neil Armstrong they had only 60 seconds left to make it down.

“OK. One hundred feet. Sixty seconds. We’d better ease down,” Aldrin recalls thinking. But he thought better of telling Armstrong to get a move on. Dressed in a jacket and “Destination Mars” T-shirt, his fingers adazzle with rings, Aldrin’s contorted face conveys how dicey the moment was. “But I don’t want to disturb Neil by saying: ‘Hurry up, hurry up!’” he says, leaning in and dropping his voice.

Armstrong had enough on his mind. From an altitude of about 500 ft he had taken control of the lunar module and was carefully steering the craft down. Nobody knew how the module would handle and there in front of the descending craft loomed a large crater that would have spelled disaster for the men and the mission.

The astronauts had already had to contend with program alarms going off in the module, which themselves could have forced the mission to abort. The glitch was eventually resolved, leading to a “go” from Houston, but as Aldrin concedes: “it tended to distract a little bit.”

The Eagle dropped 90 ft over the next 30 seconds, leaving the crew a further half minute of fuel to navigate the final 10 ft to the lunar surface. In the interview recorded at the Science Museum in London in 2016, but released on Thursday for the first time, Aldrin says it was only at that late stage that he felt more confident about the landing. “I figured, ah, we got it made,” he recalls.

It was a feat that succeeded by the finest of margins. “We touched down, and I think the estimate, not because somebody put a dipstick in the fuel to see how much was left, but it was calculations and information onboard, we probably had about 15 seconds of fuel left.”

Here’s the video interview:

Here is restored footage of the original moonwalk:

And the classic photo of Buzz Aldrin:

Buzz Aldrin on Moon

Ten thousand years from today, if man has not destroyed himself, very few names will be remembered. But one name is certain to stay in man’s memory, after almost all other names have faded away: that of Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon.

Breaking News & Off Topic Links (7/20/2019)

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 9:00 am

[From DRJ]

Let’s try something new. If this works out, I will do similar posts in the future.

This post is for everyone who wants to share a link to a breaking news story or to an interesting news story/blog post that is not related to a current post. Put your link in the comments and, if you want, a brief discussion of why it is important or interesting. Discussion about any links is welcome here, too.

Please use this post for breaking news and off topic links so they will be easier to find, instead of leaving them in the comments of other posts.


Trump: I Disagree With That ‘Send Her Back’ Nonsense. Also Trump: Those ‘Send Her Back’ Supporters Are Incredible Patriots

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:26 am

[guest post by Dana]

One day after his supporters chanted “send her back” at this week’s rally in North Carolina, and after taking heat from Melania and Ivanka Trump about it,
President Trump sought to distance himself from the supporters :

“I was not happy with it. I disagree with it,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

He also told reporters that he “felt badly” about the chanting.

Yet, the following day, Trump reversed course, and touted the chanting supporters:

Trump also praised his supporters who chanted at a rally, “Send her back!,” a refrain directed at one of the lawmakers, Somali-born Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). The president called the campaign crowd “incredible patriots” — a day after saying he disagreed with the chant.

Those are incredible people. Those are incredible patriots,” the president said…

“She’s lucky to be where she is, let me tell you,” he said. “And the things that she has said are a disgrace to our country.”

Asked about his unhappiness with the rally chant, Trump said: “You know what I’m unhappy with? I’m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country. I’m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can say anti-Semitic things.”

Reporters asked Trump if he believed that the “Send her back!” chant was racist.

“No, you know what’s racist to me? When somebody goes out and says the horrible things about our country, the people of our country, that are anti-Semitic, who hate everybody, who speak with scorn and hate,” Trump said. “ . . . We’re dealing with people who hate our country.”

Here is video of the president sharing with reporters his complete list of things that he is unhappy about with regard to the Democratic congresswomen:

Trump also bizarrely warned about criticizing the United States on his watch:

Trump said Friday that criticism of the United States is unacceptable and that the four congresswomen “can’t get away with” it.

“I can tell you this, you can’t talk that way about our country, not when I’m the president,” he told reporters outside the White House.

Every American has the right of free speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution, a reporter pointed out — and the president acknowledged that.

“We have First Amendment rights also ­— we can . . . say what we want,” Trump said. It was unclear who he was referring to as “we.”

As is standard practice, the media was also targeted by Trump:

In tweets earlier Friday, Trump characterized media coverage of his rally in Greenville, N.C., as “crazed” and complained that the media was “totally calm & accepting” of what he said were “vile and disgusting statements” made by Omar and the three other minority congresswomen whom he has repeatedly criticized in recent days.

Trump also complained that the media covered the return of Omar to her home state Thursday. She was greeted at the Minneapolis−St. Paul International Airport by a crowd chanting, “Welcome home, Ilhan!”

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)



Chappaquiddick 50 Years Later: That Time When Ted Kennedy’s Dreams Died

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:32 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Here’s how USA Today opens their report on the 50th anniversary of Chappaquiddick:

The crash ended a young woman’s life, and with it, a man’s White House dreams.

Dammit, Mary Jo, why couldn’t you have been a better swimmer!

Dammit, Mary Jo, you denied America President Ted Kennedy!

Dammit, Mary Jo, why didn’t you say no when he offered you a ride home from the party!

Dammit, Mary Jo, why couldn’t you figure out how to get out of the car? He did.

Dream Killer.

The article continues:

U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s Oldsmobile sedan veered off a narrow bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, an extension of the resort island of Martha’s Vineyard off Massachusetts, and plunged into a moonlit pond 50 years ago Thursday. His passenger, 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne, drowned.

His sedan “veered off a narrow bridge” all by itself apparently. She “drowned”? That’s all? How could they know for sure, given that there was no autopsy performed? Especially as John Farrar, the scuba diver who recovered Mary Jo Kopechne’s body from the partially submerged vehicle, believed that she suffocated.

Incredibly, this:

Kennedy, 37, survived, but his presidential ambitions did not.


Leslie Leland, who served as foreman of the grand jury that investigated the incident, had this to say:

Now 79, Leland was a young pharmacist on the island when he was swept up in the aftermath. He recalls getting death threats and 24-hour police protection, and says he is still frustrated by the judge’s refusal to subpoena anyone who was at the party or share key investigative documents — stymieing the grand jury’s efforts to determine whether Kennedy had been drinking.

“If we’d been allowed to do our job, there would have been an indictment and a request to have a jury trial,” he said. “Justice wasn’t served. There were so many discrepancies, but we weren’t allowed to do our jobs to get to the truth — whatever the truth may have been.

“I was young, and I believed in the system. I believed everyone played by the same rules. I learned they don’t.”

And is he ever so right.

This Kennedy’s public address about Chappaquiddick:

And here is the AP’s tweet about the 50th anniversary of Chappaquiddick. Again with that mysterious self-driving car:


(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Iran Seizes British Tanker(s) — UPDATED

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 1:25 pm

[Headlines from DRJ]

Iran ‘hijacks’ two British oil tankers with dozens of crew members on board:

A British tanker has been seized by Iranian authorities as the diplomatic crisis between Iran and the West deepens.

Iran has confirmed that the Stena Impero – carrying 23 crew members – was intercepted in the Strait of Hormuz

The second vessel, the Mesdar Crude Oil Tanker, was reportedly stopped before being allowed to continue on its original route.

Trump: ‘We’ll See What Happens’ After Iran Seizes Two Oil Tankers:

“American commercial ship passing through the Strait of Hormuz is being protected by U.S. military aircraft, reports CNN. The Pentagon believes the tanker captures were premeditated by Iran.”

Trump quoted as saying:

“We heard one, we heard two” of #Iran seizing oil tankers today, says @POTUS in reply to my question. But he declines to say if this crosses a line and how US will respond except to say there’s an agreement US has with #UK on maritime security.

UPDATE: Deborah Haynes, Sky News:

BREAKING: Britain advises all UK shipping to stay away from Strait of Hormuz for an “interim period”.
UK also says its response to seizure of British-flagged tanker by Iran will be “considered and robust”. There will be “serious consequences” if situation is not resolved.

BUT …CNN — “UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt says the UK is “not looking at military options” at this time.”


Political Common Ground

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 11:00 am

[Headline from DRJ]

This is from two days ago when Democrats were struggling to deal with President Trump’s rhetoric about “The Squad”:

The Memo: Democrats debate Trump response – ‘Being righteous and losing sucks’:

President Trump is set to ramp up his rhetoric at a rally in Greenville, N.C., on Wednesday evening.

Democrats, in turn, are weighing how to respond.

‘Being righteous and losing sucks’

This is a very pragmatic thought. Principles and morality seem unimportant, maybe even stupid, when we are desperate and our focus is solely on survival or winning. Pragmatism gets us from where we are to where we want to be, efficiently and without angst.

Do some Republicans and some Democrats have this attitude in common now?


Republican Senators Call For Antifa To Be Designated As A Hate Group

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:36 am

[guest post by Dana]

In the aftermath of recent violent attacks by Antifa, including an attack on journalist Andy Ngo in Portland last month, which left him with a brain hemorrhage, and the recent firebomb attack on an immigration center in Tacoma, Sens. Ted Cruz and Bill Cassidy of Lousiana have introduced a resolution to designate Antifa a hate group:

“Antifa is a group of hateful, intolerant radicals who pursue their unhinged agenda through aggressive violence,” said Cruz, who filed the measure alongside Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Lousiana. “Time and time again their actions have demonstrated that their only purpose is to inflict harm on those who oppose their views.”

“The hate and violence they spread must be stopped, and I am proud to introduce this resolution with Senator Cassidy to properly identify what Antifa are: domestic terrorists,” he added.

Sen. Cassidy wrote:

Antifa is a domestic terror organization. This is a group of hateful, intolerant radicals pursuing their extreme agenda through violence. They are masked bigots, attacking others b/c they don’t agree with their ideas. The time to stop Antifa is NOW!

Here is how the resolution reads:


Unsurprisingly, the most visible group monitoring hate groups, still refuses to designate Antifa as one:

The SPLC condemns violence in all its forms, including the violent acts of far-left street movements like antifa. But the propensity for violence, though present in many hate groups, is not among the criteria for listing. Also, antifa groups do not promote hatred based on race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity.

On a sidenote, in light of Antifa violence, and the recent attack on Andy Ngo by Antifa, Portland is now considering an anti-mask law:

City leaders in Portland, Ore., are considering making it illegal for protesters to wear masks in an attempt to address violent clashes between left-wing and right-wing activists, the latest of which occurred a few weeks ago.

Police Chief Danielle Outlaw first called for an antimask law after dueling protests on June 29, where a conservative writer said he was assaulted by members of the left-wing group Antifa, who frequently wear masks… “A lot of people are emboldened because they know they can’t be identified,” Ms. Outlaw said at a news conference.

A spokeswoman for Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said city officials have had initial discussions about outlawing the wearing of a mask to commit a crime or escape identification in the commission of a crime. Mr. Wheeler “wants to weigh his options thoroughly and hear concerns from community leaders before making a decision,” said Eileen Park, the spokeswoman.

Oregon’s ACLU is objecting to any potential anti-mask laws, citing First Amendment concerns:

“A policy that prohibits wearing a mask to a protest not only risks chilling First Amendment-protected activities, particularly for those who wear ‘masks’ for political and religious reasons, it misses the issue entirely,” spokeswoman Sarah Armstrong said in an email. “Behavior is the issue, not the mask.”

[Ed. I’ve bolded some portions where either the selected wording and/or actual claim need to be challenged… i.e. conservative writer “said” he was assaulted – he didn’t just say, he was. There is plenty of video confirming it happened…]

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


13-year-old Iowa Boy on Trial for Attempted Murder

Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 7:48 am

[Headline from DRJ]

Did Iowa 12-year-old pull the trigger to get attention or to kill his teacher?

A jury of seven men and five women will decide if Luke Andrews, 13, intended to kill his teacher in a North Scott Junior High School classroom last August.

In their closing arguments, prosecutor Julie Walton and defense attorney Melanie Thwing agreed on Tuesday that Andrews, then 12, pointed a loaded Smith & Wesson .22-caliber in the face of his seventh-grade social studies teacher, Dawn Spring, and pulled the trigger the morning of Aug. 31, the fifth day of the school year.

They disagree about whether he intended to kill her.

‘I accepted the fact that I was going to die': Teachers recall boy pointing gun in class:

Friday morning, [teacher Dawn] Spring took the witness stand. She testified that once MacDonald got her attention in the classroom, Andrews was holding the gun in the direction of other students.

Spring said she walked toward Andrews, “in hopes to distract him from the students,” and said, “something to the effect of, ‘Oh man, it looks like you’re having a really bad day.'”

Andrews walked toward Spring, and they faced each other near the front of the class, about 3 or 4 feet apart, Spring said.

“As he approaches me and we come face to face, he says nothing. I say nothing. He puts the gun up at face level and pulls the trigger,” Spring said. “I thought I heard an audible click from the gun, and then he turned the gun and kind of looked at it funny, like, ‘that’s weird,’ kind of a look at it, then he put it up in my face a second time.”

The verdict:

Jurors convicted Luke Andrews of assault while displaying a dangerous weapon, carrying weapons on school grounds, and assault with intent to inflict serious injury. They declined to convict him of attempted murder, instead selecting the second assault charge from a list of lesser, included offenses available to them, along with acquittal.


Follow Up: Hush Money Prosecution

Filed under: Law,Politics — DRJ @ 7:11 am

[Headline from DRJ]

Prosecutors weighed DOJ policy blocking indictment of a sitting president in closing Trump hush-money probe.

He did it. He can’t be prosecuted because he is President. “The investigation is over.”


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