Senate

The Business of Government Is Hysteria

Sessions hearing brings out the worst in senatorial statism, Matt Welch argues in the L.A. Times

|

In never ends. ||| Moral Feature Film Co.
Moral Feature Film Co.

Did watching today's confirmation hearings for Attorney General-designate Jeff Sessions make you wanna go full anarchist? There's a good reason why: Senate Judiciary Committee members, even while putatively cross-examining the next top law enforcement official in the land, kept on asking him to ratify their hysterical versions of reality in order to further aggrandize government power. Even while occasionally criticizing Sessions for not agreeing to roll back previous hysteria-induced federal overreaches.

As I argue in the L.A. Times:

"I would like to begin," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said to Sessions, "with the second largest criminal industry in this country, which is now — believe it or not, by revenues produced — human sex trafficking." […]

In order for "human sex trafficking" to be the second largest criminal industry in the United States, it would at minimum need to supplant illegal narcotics (roughly $100 billion a year, according to a 2014 Rand Corp. estimate), or Medicare fraud (in the ballpark of $60 billion, according to the Government Accountability Office in 2015). So distant is reality from those numbers that even the commonly cited figure of $9.8 billion a year for all trafficking — and keep in mind that human smuggling dwarfs sex trafficking — was given "four Pinocchios" by Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler.

Feinstein wasn't done. "Trafficking victims," she warned, average "12 to 14" in age. ("Four Pinocchios," judged Kessler.)

These fake numbers have consequences. Congress has leaned on such bogus statistics by periodically ratcheting up the penalties of the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act — the 2015 reauthorization, for example, made websites liable for sex trafficking if a minor is found to have advertised services there.

"In 2014 alone, 31 states passed new laws concerning human trafficking," Elizabeth Nolan Brown wrote in Reason magazine 15 months ago. "Since the start of 2015, at least 22 states have done so."

And who is being prosecuted? Besides publishers such as Backpage.com, which shut down its "Adult" section this week after relentless pressure (including concurrent hearings on Capitol Hill on Monday), the criminals apprehended are disproportionately adult females who work in the sex industry by choice.

Read the whole thing, including nods to porn, online poker, and Gitmo, here.

NEXT: Trump Selects Anti-Vaccination Kook Robert Kennedy Jr. to Head Vaccination Safety Commission - Update: Not So Fast?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. including nods to porn, online poker, and Gitmo

    2 out of 3 aint bad.

    1. You have a problem with online poker?

  2. including nods to porn

    These euphemisms.

  3. Isn’t it ‘Pinitchio’ Matt?

    I mean really. Who edits these things?

  4. Feinstein’s gonna retire, finally, but she’s pushing for moonbeam to take her place.
    A elderly dementia replaced by a just, plain whacko.

    1. With Biden out, America needs Moonbean in the House. White House, House of Reps, Big House – don’t matter. Bring on the Moonbeam!!!

      1. How about we just turn him, Feinstein, Hillary, Biden, and John McCain out into a field with drool bibs and cowbells around their necks and make it a reality TV show?

        1. Hmm…. I see something like The Apprentice, with Obama in Trump role. They are competing to show who’s the most fit to be the next President, thus earning Obama’s endorsement.

          Yes. Yes to this. We need a few more, so add Huckabee, Santorum and Bernie. Eight should be enough.

        2. Jerry deserves this to be hung around his neck every chance I can get:
          “”The problem with anything, a certain amount is OK. But there is a tendency to go to extremes,” he said in a wide-ranging interview aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” ”And all of a sudden, if there’s advertising and legitimacy, how many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation?”
          http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014…..state.html

          Maybe we could sell opium to the Chinese?

          1. Add to that the one about a $15 dollar an hour wage not making sense economically, but still being the right thing to do. Let me get this right, destroying the economy is the right thing to do? No wonder they call him Moonbeam and call his leftist constituents, idiots.

  5. Did watching today’s confirmation hearings…

    Um, it’s your job to watch that shit and our job to make snarky comments. It’s like you don’t even complex division of labor.

    1. Spoonfeed me!!!

      1. Don’t forget to burp me. Oh, and something stinky going on down below.

        1. And people ask me why I just pick at my food after being on the computer.

          1. The raging eroticism makes it hard to concentrate on the food?

  6. I was apparently getting visibly upset this morning when Feinstein was bloviating this morning on the tv in the cafe and was amusing my office mates (who have no idea who she is).

  7. “I would like to begin,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said to Sessions”

    Crikey, as much as I dislike Sessions, why isn’t that old hag dead yet? Make the world a better place, Frankenfiend, walk into some traffic already.

    1. I pray daily for all progressive democrats to die in agony for what they have done.

  8. Federal jury says death for Roof; sentence on state charges still pending

    Apparently he has been convicted on 33 federal counts, “including multiple counts of committing a hate crime against black victims, obstructing the exercise of religion and using a firearm to commit murder.”

    1. I guess we can say the sentence is…

      /dons sunglasses…

      Through the roof?

    2. Wait. Wtf? I thought the death penalty was banned in federal cases.

      1. No, though there was an interval when it wasn’t enforced. At least in theory, that interval is over.

        1. And what about Timothy McVeigh?

          1. Hate crime against the federal government.

  9. Dianne Feinstein found Harvey Milk’s body. Did Matt Welch ever discover the body of someone named after a beverage? No? Then shut the hell up and let the lady make up her facts. She earned the right.

    1. Damn! Why didn’t I think of that?

    2. Stupid Fist. Apparently you are not aware that Matt Welch was present when Fred Koch suddenly passed. Hmmm…makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

      1. So what holes did Matt finger?

    3. I’ve seen Matt murder Soda Popinkski in PunchOut.

      1. This is H&R, feel free to use his birth name of Vodka Drunkenski

  10. Why is porn back in the news so much, and don’t fucking begin to blame it on trump. This shit has been reaching crescendo for a while.

    1. Reaching crescendo… teach me to type with my thumbs

      1. You know what people need? It isn’t more than one hand for the internet, that’s for damned sure. They need lots more boogeymen. The old buzzwords and scares aren’t working as well.

    2. Yeah I don’t get it either. I started to notice that hag Diane Rehm routinely rail against porn during the last 6 months or so. Some people are going back to classic notions like porn usage will make the menfolk more rapey, contra any evidence.

      1. Diane Rehm

        That woman’s voice is cruel and unusual punishment.

    3. My local ‘Deja Vu’ location claims Melania Trump will be performing on February 3rd.

  11. As far as the hysteria goes, why can’t we just go back to witch hunts? I mean, why do we need all these new elusive boogeymen, when the existing boogeymen worked just fine? I saw you consorting with da debil! What’s wrong with that? It’s slightly more believable than most of the new hysteria the government works so hard to invent and the media works so hard to spread.

    1. Because we live in enlightened times, and can focus on real evils, such as poor people enjoying things rich people don’t like as much.

      1. Lower access to energy products like gasoline and electricity are out.

  12. Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

    -Groucho Marx

      1. Yeah, I was trying to imagine Groucho Marx saying this while chewing on his cigar.

        Here is what Groucho actually said.

    1. TBF, if you diagnose it incorrectly, applying the wrong remedy would be better than applying the right one. Govt stumbles on solution for the win!

      1. Unfortunately, the common remedy of more lethal force is often lethal.

    2. It’s a good quote. I actually convinced an entire room full of people today that Obamacare should be repealed and NOT replaced because it was better when we had nothing. My success was in convincing them (all highly paid professionals) that there was not only no benefit for anyone in that room from government interference in healthcare, but that in fact, it’s hurting us. Which of course is easy when every one of them have seen the drastic increases in their health insurance deductibles, increases in premiums (where’s that $3000 savings?), and less access/longer wait times to see specialists, or even your primary care doctor (who’s probably already gone concierge if they’re any good). I typically don’t get into these conversations, but when I see an opening, I go for it.

      1. I actually convinced an entire room full of people today that Obamacare should be repealed and NOT replaced because it was better when we had nothing.

        I can see exactly why you argued this – baby steps, there’s no sense rocking their foundation to the core when a nudge in the right direction would get the idea through the door. But can I just say that the notion that what we had before was “nothing” is so freaking crazy.

        Apropos anecdote for the quote, two thumbs up to Hyperion.

        1. Well, no one there, including myself had any illusion of there being ‘nothing’ as far as government interference goes in the healthcare industry. I just meant ‘nothing’ as compared to the ‘something’ that is the ACA. IOW, rolling it back to where we were already at and then just waiting for markets to readjust.

  13. In order for “human sex trafficking” to be the second largest criminal industry in the United States, it would at minimum need to supplant illegal narcotics (roughly $100 billion a year, according to a 2014 Rand Corp. estimate), or Medicare fraud (in the ballpark of $60 billion,

    Related: I made $9,345,739 last moth as a human sex trafficker. The current demand is higher than ever, which is why I am willing to share my secrets of success with you. All you have to do is send me a self-addressed stamped envelope in addition to a money order for only $2,222 dollars.

    For that you will receive pamphlets that will guarantee success!

    You will learn:

    -How to evade law enforcement
    -How to find to a Jew to teach you how to money launder
    -How to contact those guys from the Taken movies

    Plus!

    -How to set up cam shows

    Contact me today!

    1. The link on your name goes to a missing twitter page? How can I get in on this now?

  14. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was a one-man hysteria generator, with each question designed to give the federal government more power. What did Sessions think about the Obama administration interpreting the Wire Act in a way to “allow online video poker”? “I was shocked,” Sessions replied.

    Graham went on to say, “The only gambling I do is with the lives of US service men and women.” To which Sessions replied, “Well put, Senator, well put.”

    1. You’re just upset there’s no senator lindsay lohan.

  15. Just to clarify, orphan mining is not human trafficking, correct? I mean, asking for a…er…person.

    1. As long as they are never allowed out of the mines, I believe there is no traffic occurs.

      1. If I…I mean, a person… mines out fresh orphans, and delivers them straight to the customer without a third party, is that still trafficking, though?
        What if transfer of ownership happens in the mine?

        Damn, how can a simple businessman work with all this regulation bullshit? I’m building my own underwater city. With blackjack, and mutants!

  16. OTConan O’Brien’s pubes are influential:

    Charles “Chuck” Johnson, a controversial blogger and conservative online personality, has been pushing for various political appointees to serve under Donald Trump, according to multiple sources close to the President-elect’s transition team. While Johnson does not have a formal position, FORBES has learned that he is working behind the scenes with members of the transition team’s executive committee, including billionaire Trump donor Peter Thiel, to recommend, vet and give something of a seal of approval to potential nominees from the so-called “alt-right.”

    Beyond recommending candidates, Johnson has also helped set up meetings between potential appointees and transition team members. He has worked with Jim O’Neill, who is being considered to head the Food and Drug Administration and is currently employed by Thiel at San Francisco-based investment firm Mithril Capital. Johnson has tried to arrange for O’Neill to meet with conservative influencers and political groups in an effort to build support for his potential FDA nomination. O’Neill declined to comment.

    What the frick? O’Neil seems like a swell fella, so I am conflicted.

    1. Hah, so much verbiage to say the following:

      Johnson, a self-described “journalist, author and debunker of frauds,” who has made a name for himself by peddling false information and right-wing conspiracy theories online.
      When asked about his work with the transition team, Johnson said last month that he had “no formal role,” and was vague regarding his level of influence.
      Johnson’s statements came before his appearance on an online radio show with libertarian blogger Stefan Molyneux on Dec. 22 during which Johnson declared that he had been “doing a lot of vetting for the administration and the Trump transition.”
      The full extent of Johnson’s involvement in the transition is not clear

      The rest is Glen Beck-like drawing of connections to show that Johnson is very influential because he talks to people who talk to people, and some sort of history of Meming For Trump.

      1. a self-described “journalist, author and debunker of frauds,” who who has made a name for himself by peddling false information and right-wing conspiracy theories online.

        the source they linked to to validate their characterization described him thusly

        Charles C. Johnson has won awards for his reporting, but he’s also been ridiculed in the mainstream media. A New York Times columnist recently called him a “troll on steroids….
        …Johnson’s seemingly outlandish reports on politics and news have created an online profile so big it can’t be ignored. The New York Times, the Washington Post and Mother Jones magazine have all profiled him in the last month.

        Johnson has a long list of successes — including revealing the bogus credentials of supposed Syrian expert Elizabeth O’Bagy.

        “She made up having a PhD and she was working for the Syrian rebels and her work was being cited by both parties on the house floor for why we should go to war in Syria,” Johnson said. “And I don’t know what we should do in Syria, but I know we should not have frauds be the ones making the case.”

        He also has failures. For example, in his effort to unmask the rape hoax at the University of Virginia, he posted a photo of the wrong woman.

        Ah.

        forbes is all like, “he aint no real journalist” (cites source touting successes as a journalist)

        1. again – i’ve never actually read anything by this guy in my life. what i find odd is that its become so normal for “legit media” like Forbes to openly demonize people because…

          ….what, they do *exactly what you’re doing right now*? e.g. write sourceless-hit-pieces demonizing people? acting like a partisan attack dog?

          with all the shit throwing, you can’t really tell who’s the “bad guy”.

      2. So “Glen Beck-like” means “Dave Emory-like”?

    2. The full extent of Johnson’s involvement in the transition is not clear

      This is like one of the most popular rhetorical dodges in modern-day journalism. its like “make authoritative claims about various things, but then assert later on in the story that the actual veracity of those things “are not clear”

      Its like something you insert to give your bullshit tabloid style gossip column the appearance of “professional news” because, like, that’s the sort of thing Real Journalists? say.

      e.g. “The impact of the Russian Election hack on voters remains unclear” (after lots of hemming and hawing suggesting the election is de-facto invalidated because john podesta gave some Ukranian his password)

      btw…. who is Chuck Johnson again? some guy who writes for the daily caller or something? i’ve seen his name but don’t recall why he matters.

  17. human smuggling dwarfs sex trafficking

    How much sexual demand can there possibly be for dwarfs who smuggle humans?

      1. I say milves and smurves ‘cus of wolves and elves.

    1. Somebody has that as a fetish.

      1. All I’m sayin’ is Peter Dinklage is one sexy motherfucker.

        1. But does he smuggle people?

        2. A few years ago I used to see him fairly frequently about town, and trust me he is even more devilishly handsome in person.

    2. I had the same trouble reading that sentence. Welch underestimates the number of hours his audience has accumulated with the works and derivations of Tolkein.

      1. Including, apparently, some truly non-canonical fanfiction.

      2. Strikes me more as a Game of Thrones thing.

        1. They had to make a buck somehow after Smaug served the eviction notice.

      3. One of the few things I do not underestimate, Elendil!

    3. I had to reread that sentence a few times with my imagination running wild before I put it together the way it was meant to be.

  18. I presume in the past they would have sued the phone companies for letting people talk to each other?

    “Families of Americans killed by ISIS are suing Twitter for allegedly providing ‘tremendous utility and value’ to the terrorist organization”
    […]
    “Family members of three Americans killed by ISIS attacks in Belgium and France have sued Twitter for allegedly failing to keep members of the terrorist organization off its platform.”
    http://www.sfgate.com/technolo…..845815.php

    1. OT but kind of on, so maybe half topic. A picture in that story has the NYSE price for Twitter. I am not a Twitteroid, so I was wondering, how do they generate revenue? Do you have to pay to be a Twitteroid, or is it advertising, or what? How are they a profitable company?

      1. Advertising. And profitable? Hah!

        From their 3rd quarter, 2016 report:

        The company posted quarterly revenue of $616 million, up 8% year-over-year. Quarterly GAAP net
        loss was $103 million, or ($0.15) per diluted share, with quarterly non-GAAP net income of $92 million, or $0.13 per diluted share.
        Advertising revenue totaled $545 million, an increase of 6% year-over-year. Mobile advertising
        revenue was 90% of total advertising revenue. Data licensing and other revenue totaled $71 million,
        an increase of 26% year-over-year. U.S. revenue totaled $374 million, an increase of 1% year-over-year. International revenue totaled $242 million, an increase of 21% year-over-year.

        1. Maybe they should charge journalists a fee every time they reference a tweet.

      2. “I am not a Twitteroid, so I was wondering, how do they generate revenue?”

        I sold marketing services for a long time. During the dot-com bubble just before the turn of the century, we all learned to ask where and how the OH GEE WHIZ IDEA company was going to develop revenue.
        Often the answer was ‘We haven’t figured that out yet’. Those were on a cash basis with us…

    2. Defense states its case:

      “Your Honour, Twitter never brought an iota of utility or value to anyone except its management!”

      *bang* “Case dismissed!”

      1. I’m Donald Trump and I approve this message!

  19. Did ENB stroke out because of Sessions’ testimony? Why is Welch covering the sex traffic beat?

    1. ’cause he got the LA Times slot, and she didn’t. Why? Sexism.

      1. It’s called Editor Privilege.

  20. Linked at the tail end of the PM links, but it’s worth reposting. Trigger warning: no trigger warning. No warning whatsoever.

    It occurs to me that something like this, as satisfying as it is to watch, is probably a devastating ordeal for the store owner. I’m willing to bet he can’t help but empathize with the man he shot. The fact that that man had a gun trained on him is a detail which it’s safe to downplay after the fact. The fact is, the would-be robber didn’t shoot first, and that hesitance cost him his life. He probably never intended to use the gun in the first place. It’s neither here nor there, but I bet the fact weighs heavily on him.

    1. Fuckin’ A, I hope some shitheel like that never puts me in a similar situation. But still, fuck, what kind of an idiot tries to rob a gun store during business hours?

      1. The kind of idiot who thinks a gun is a badge rather than a tool, which is why he’s dead now. He meant to flash it and have the staff empty the register without complaint. I doubt he even had his finger on the trigger. But he showed up with a weapon meant to put men in graves, and found one for himself.

  21. “I would like to begin,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said to Sessions, “with the second largest criminal industry in this country, which is now ? believe it or not, by revenues produced ? human sex trafficking.” [?]

    Keep in mind, the woman also said this: “We have federal regulations and state laws that prohibit hunting ducks with more than three rounds. And yet it’s legal to hunt humans with 15-round, 30-round, even 150-round magazines.” — Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California)

    I assume human hunting seasons vary by state as well.

    1. As dumb as Republican senators are, it’s always appreciable how much dumber are Democrat voters.

    2. It annoys me to no end when Camille Paglia goes on about how the dumbest woman in politics is the smartest woman in politics. I don’t understand her gushing over Feinstein.I mean I know I don’t see eye to eye with Paglia politically but come on, Feinstein is an idiot.

      1. I guess winning re-election in a statewide race in the country’s largest state as many times as Feinstein has qualifies as a kind of intelligence.

  22. Yet another reason to never do business with Best Buy. Like I really needed one.

    http://hotair.com/archives/201…..ard-drive/

  23. Golden showers, golden toilets it’s all coming together.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.