In his latest post-election snit that no one's taking very seriously, Donald Trump threatened Tuesday to veto the annual defense funding bill if Congress doesn't repeal a key law that protects websites from being sued for stuff their users post. It was yet another hissy in Trump's longstanding attempt to limit speech on the internet by whining that conservatives don't have free speech.

Trump's beef is with Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which shields internet companies from liability for messages their users post, meaning the sites can only be held legally responsible for content created by the companies themselves. So if Wonkette libeled Donald Trump, he can sue us, but we can't be sued for any of the awful things you Terrible Ones write in the comments, which we don't allow anyway.

In a pair of tweets Tuesday night, Trump whined,

Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to "Big Tech" (the only companies in America that have it - corporate welfare!), is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity. Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand.....

.....Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk. Take back America NOW. Thank you!

Yes, he invoked both "national security" and the Oval Office's "very beautiful Resolute desk," because we wouldn't want Joe Biden to make us forget how real presidents talk. So gosh, imagine if we ended up with the internet intact, and the Pentagon having to pinch pennies, so sad. It's not like Trump gives two shits about The Troops anyway, those suckers.


As the Washington Post 'splains,

Section 230 is a broad, decades-old federal law that spares a wide array of sites and services from being held liable for the content posted by their users — and, in the process, the decisions about the posts, photos and videos that tech companies take down or leave online. It is considered one of the Web's foundational laws, crafted in large part to facilitate free expression digitally.

But in recent years, the Right has become very concerned that internet companies like Facebook and Twitter are "censoring" conservative speech by unfairly moderating user comment, like when Twitter marks Donald Trump's complete lies as "disputed by experts." Wingnuts also claim, without evidence, that rightwing posts are intentionally "shadow-banned," or suppressed from reaching the widest possible audience, because how can their screeds about lizard people controlling the Federal Reserve have fewer likes than a cat video? Never mind that wingnuts can't really prove any such systematic bias, or the tendency of the big internet companies to let all sorts of outrageous crap remain up, particularly Donald Trump's own spews of dangerous lies about the coronavirus pandemic and his baseless conspiracy theories about election "fraud."

WaPo also decorously notes that, apart from protecting even Donald Trump's democracy-undermining lies about winning the election, "Section 230 otherwise has no nexus with national security."

But one thing not having anything to do with another has never been a reason for Donald Trump not to get all petulant, so sure, he's threatening to veto the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the big spending bill that keeps the military militarized and the Pentagon five-sided, this year at roughly $740 billion. This is his second threat to veto the NDAA; back in June, Trump also threatened to veto any bill, including the defense authorization, that renamed military bases honoring America's beloved traitorous Confederate generals.

And is Congress suddenly rushing to repeal Section 230 because Trump's demanding it? Hell no; they know he's lost the election and are betting that Trump's making yet another empty threat. Politico reports that both House and Senate lawmakers are just going ahead and getting the details of the bill worked out without any such provision, because getting to an agreement on such a huge bill is always a heavy lift even without a last-minute hissymatum from the "president." And that sentiment is bipartisan, even extending to rightwing schmucks like Sen James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who told Politico that

while he agrees with Trump on Section 230, the provision "has nothing to do with the military."

"You can't do it in this bill. That's not a part of the bill," Inhofe said, adding that he has conveyed that belief to Trump.

That opinion, minus the desire to gut the basic law governing speech on the internet, was echoed by Sen. Jack Reed (D--Rhode Island) the committee's top Democrat, who said,

"At this last minute, this sudden threat on an item that's not even part of a defense bill. … I don't think we could do it in a thoughtful, logical way at all" [...]

"It seems to be more out of spite than anything else," Reed said of the president's threat, warning that Trump's posture jeopardizes several important policy moves, including a pay raise for U.S. troops.

Politico did not report precisely how hard Reed rolled his eyes when asked about throwing a last-minute revision of a complex law into a bill that's expected to pass soon.

Ah, but here's our favorite paragraph from the Politico piece:

Republicans on Wednesday showed some signs of exasperation with the president's latest effort. As one GOP lawmaker put it: "Republicans are sick of this shit."

We'd be willing to bet good sound Canadian money on the likelihood that that very same Republican has also been vocally supportive of Trump's bullshit attempts to overturn the election.

Needless to say, there were some Republicans who made a great display of supporting Trump's call to wedge a completely unrelated internet measure into the defense bill, and his name is Lindsey Graham, who cheered, "If I were him, I'd use all the leverage I could," as his body, bereft of a spine, flopped aimlessly around his chair.

Trump won't be getting his cherished Confederate military base names, either: A provision of the bill that would give the Pentagon three years to change base names and other monuments to the Confederacy, written by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) remains in the final Senate bill. House Democrats say any attempt to strip it out would be a deal-breaker for them, too.

It's unclear whether Trump will actually follow through on his threat to veto the defense authorization; it's entirely possible, given his love of doing stupid shit and his apparent desire to wreck as much of the US government as he can. Perhaps he's decided the military won't keep him from being removed from the White House on Jan. 20, and figures he may as well screw the troops for their disloyalty to him. There's no reason to think his idiot followers would see it as a bad thing — "he took a bold stand against endless wars!"

Or, more likely, he'll sign the thing (on the very beautiful Resolute desk) and insist it means he won the election.

[NBC News / WaPo / Politico]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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