Thursday, October 14, 2021

Last Call For The McCabe Coda

Andrew McCabe, the FBI deputy director that testified against Trump after being fired days before his pension would have been fully vested, has won back the money Trump took from him out of spite.

Hours before he was scheduled to retire in 2018, Andrew G. McCabe, then the F.B.I.’s deputy director, was fired by the Justice Department, depriving him of his pension and prompting cheers from President Donald J. Trump, who had been hounding him over his role in the Russia investigation.

On Thursday, the department reversed Mr. McCabe’s firing, settling a lawsuit he filed asserting that he was dismissed for political reasons. Under the settlement, Mr. McCabe, 53, will be able to officially retire, receive his pension and other benefits, and get about $200,000 in missed pension payments.

In addition, the department agreed to expunge any mention of his firing from F.B.I. personnel records. The agreement even made clear that he would receive the cuff links given to senior executives and a plaque with his mounted F.B.I. credentials and badge.

The Justice Department did not admit any wrongdoing. But the settlement amounted to a rejection by the Biden administration of how Mr. McCabe’s case had been handled under Mr. Trump, who perceived Mr. McCabe as one of his so-called deep-state enemies and repeatedly attacked him. A notice of the lawsuit’s dismissal was also filed in federal court.

“Politics should never play a role in the fair administration of justice and Civil Service personnel decisions,” Mr. McCabe said in a statement. “I hope that this result encourages the men and women of the F.B.I. to continue to protect the American people by standing up for the truth and doing their jobs without fear of political retaliation.”

Mr. McCabe thanked his lawyers at the firm of Arnold & Porter, who will receive more than $500,000 in legal fees paid by the government. The firm intends to donate the money to its foundation, which provides scholarships to minority law students, among other things.

“What happened to Andrew was a travesty, not just for him and his family, but the rule of law,” said Murad Hussain, one of Mr. McCabe’s lawyers. “We filed this suit to restore his retirement benefits, restore his reputation and take a stand for the rights of all civil servants, and that’s exactly what this settlement does.”

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
I fully expect Trump's cultists to find a way to go after McCabe, whether it's Hannity and his flying monkeys demanding blood, the nutjobs in the congressional GOP holding up legislation until his settlement is reversed, or individual "concerned citizens" paying him a visit.

Maybe this will have a happy ending, and out of gratitude, McCabe will come clean on the Trump-era FBI and the rotten apples still in the agency.

I don't honestly know.  And that scares me.

Tech Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself, Con't

House Democrats are making their strongest pitch yet to reform Section 230 protections for social media giants like Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Whether or not the bill will get any Republican support, despite Donald Trump screaming about Section 230 for years, remains to be seen.

Top Democratic lawmakers unveiled a major proposal Thursday that could hold digital platforms like Facebook and Twitter legally responsible for making personalized recommendations to users that lead to their physical or emotional harm.

The bill comes amid a groundswell of scrutiny of how algorithms can amplify harmful content in the wake of revelations by whistleblower Frances Haugen about Facebook’s risks. Her disclosures to the media and policymakers have shined a spotlight on the way Silicon Valley’s often-opaque systems can surface dangerous material.

The legislation marks one of the most significant threats in years to the tech industry’s liability protections under Section 230, a decades-old law that shields a broad range of digital services — from giants like YouTube and Instagram to smaller sites like Etsy and Nextdoor — from lawsuits for hosting and moderating user content.

The bill is set to be introduced Friday by four leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee — Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) — which holds broad jurisdiction over tech issues including Section 230.

“Designing personalized algorithms that promote extremism, disinformation and harmful content is a conscious choice, and platforms should have to answer for it,” Pallone said.

The legislation would carve out Section 230 so that a digital service could face liability if they knowingly or recklessly make a personalized recommendation that “materially contributed to a physical or severe emotional injury to any person.” The bill would apply to recommendations that use algorithms to boost certain content over others based on users’ personal information.

Lawmakers have introduced dozens of proposals to revamp or roll back tech companies’ liability protections in recent years, but almost all of them haven’t gone anywhere.

Only one measure has been signed into law, FOSTA-SESTA — a proposal to open tech platforms up to liability for knowingly facilitating sex trafficking, which cleared former president Donald Trump’s desk in 2018. And just one other, a bill to make it easier to sue companies that host child exploitative material known as the EARN IT Act, has advanced out of committee since.

Attempts to weaken Section 230 have faced heavy opposition from the tech industry and some civil society groups, who consider it a foundational law that helped create the modern Internet.

But the latest proposal — the Justice Against Malicious Algorithms Act — boasts some of the most powerful lawmakers in the space, instantly making it one of the top contenders of all the Section 230 bills to potentially become law.
It’s the first bill targeting Section 230 led by Pallone, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is a close ally to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). He ultimately controls what Section 230 bills get marked up and voted on by the panel and will surely look to advance his own proposal.

It seeks to sidestep thorny and politically divisive debates about what content should be left up or taken down by focusing instead on how platforms recommend content to users, and how those choices can lead to real-world harm.

Democrats and Republicans have sparred for years over whether companies like Facebook over- or under-enforce many of their policies. Democrats say major platforms haven’t done enough to crack down on misinformation, hate speech and other online harms, while Republicans accuse the platforms of stifling conservative viewpoints.
Again, the problem is there's no way this will pass the Senate filibuster unless there's specific language that does prevent digital media from stopping Republican bigotry and hate speech.  Trump will torpedo it anyway, because he wants to be the one to sign the bill into law, not Biden.

Besides, it may not even get out of the House.

The techbros have too much money.

School Of Hard-Right Knocks, Cincy Edition

Ohio perennial losing Senate candidate Josh Mandel got himself tossed from a Boehner Country school board meeting in Butler County after attacking school board members and refusing to wear a mask.

U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel was escorted out of a Butler County school board meeting Monday evening after school officials said he staged an event to "disrupt a public meeting."

A video of the meeting is available on the Lakota Local Schools' YouTube channel. At nearly an hour and a half into the recording, school board candidate Darbi Boddy said she would like to have Mandel speak on her behalf.

Mandel walked up to the microphone and began by criticizing the district for not publicizing its finances on the Ohio Checkbook, a website created during his tenure as state treasurer that details spending by public institutions. Board president Kelley Casper interrupted Mandel and asked him to stop speaking.

As Mandel continued, Casper announced that the board would take a recess and the video cuts out.

"I'm just trying to stand up for kids," Mandel said in a video he posted on Twitter.

Public hearing participants must be residents of the Lakota Local School District, according to the board's bylaws, or "be the resident's designee and be introduced as such, and have a legitimate interest in the action of the Board."

Mandel, a Republican from the Cleveland area, is running in a crowded primary to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Rob Portman. He paints himself as a fighter who isn't afraid to disrupt the status quo and often uses social media as a platform for misinformation and controversial statements that attract attention.

"Forcing kids to wear masks in schools is a total trampling of the freedom and liberty of the kids and the parents," he said in an interview on Tuesday. "It is not the role of a school official or politician to tell moms and dads how to raise their kids."

In another video of the incident, provided by Mandel's campaign, Mandel spoke about the district's mask requirement and gender politics. Casper told the crowd that the board's bylaws allow Boddy to designate someone to speak on her behalf, but instead she had stated she "wanted to yield her time."

Mandel is then escorted out of the meeting by two Butler County Sheriff's officers. According to the board's bylaws, the board's presiding officer may request the assistance of law enforcement officers to remove "a disorderly person when that person's conduct interferes with the orderly progress of the meeting."

Mandel did this knowing he'd get thrown out, and knowing he'd be able to get it on video. He's in a race to see which white male asshole can be the biggest, most hateful, most Trumpy moron in the race so that red Ohio will elect him in 2022. He's up against equally awful bigot and antisemite JD Vance, author of "Hillbilly Elegy" and the soon to be upcoming tale, "How I sold my soul to Donald Trump and lost an election."

It's free publicity when Mandel pulls stunts like this. Expect a lot more of this as the race heats up over the next six months and change as we get closer to the primary in early May. Using a school board meeting as a prop is going to be the least of their sins.


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