Archives for February 2012
DemandProgress, some of the folks behind the anti-SOPA push, just sent me a very funny letter. At least, that’s how I’m taking it.
From the email I received:
It took 10 million-plus constituent contacts to beat back SOPA—and we barely won. That’s because a few wealthy interests had bought the allegiance of key members of Congress.
If we want to win the next fight, we need to reduce the role of special interest money in politics.
That’s why we’re teaming up with CREDO on a call to overturn Citizens United and end corporate personhood.
Oh, where to begin?
Of course, the DemandProgress guys are looking at the MPAA and the RIAA when it comes to corporations…but have they given any thought whatsoever to the big boys who helped bring it down? You know—Google? Facebook? Twitter? Wikipedia?
Perhaps DemandProgress should go and read Doug Mataconis’ excellent post on the subject over at Outside The Beltway. Let’s face it: SOPA would have gone under the public’s radar if Wikipedia and Reddit didn’t go dark and if Google hadn’t spoke out against it. DemandProgress has a staff of two people and while it has many supporters, there’s not enough of them to seriously change the debate within the 311.5 million population of the United States.
If DemandProgress got their way and got Citizens United overturned, when SOPA (inevitably) comes back for a second run, Google and other major companies and organizations might not say anything, and we’ll get shafted by our government again. Then where would DemandProgress be?
Maybe they should take a minute to consider what they’re saying before they just push it out to the public. They’re making themselves jokes now.
After the unprecedented protests throughout the internet, one might think that Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) would figure out that perhaps folks take the internet pretty seriously. One might think that…but they would apparently be wrong.
Another day, another threat to internet freedom. According to International Business Times, beloved Texas Representative Lamar Smith is the author of a new bill that includes extreme surveillance provisions, and a name that will make opponents sound like criminals: H.R. 1981 (bump that last digit up three times for a more fitting title), or the ‘Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011.’
The new name has outraged many opponents of SOPA and other bills that could bring more government control to the internet, like PIPA and ACTA. It’s hard to imagine the whole world turning out against a bill with the words ‘protect’ and ‘children’ in the title, regardless of the actual contents of the bill.
In the words of Business Insider’s David Seaman, it’s “just a B.S. name so that politicians in the House and Senate are strong-armed into voting for it, even though it contains utterly insane 1984-style Big Brother surveillance provisions.” Ouch.
Following politics as closely as I do, I’ve built up a thick skin of cynicism regarding the presentation of truth by politicians and the media. There is a good reason for that; according to a Gallup poll a few months ago, from 1998-2010, the number of Americans expressing distrust of the mass media outlets has risen from 46% to 57%. Congressional approval ratings remain lower than the average age of a fan at a Justin Beiber concert. And while Americans generally want to think well of their president, (especially a president seen as proof that America is no longer a racist nation), Obama struggles to convince half of Americans he’s doing a good job.
I was thinking about this as I watched and read coverage of the Republican presidential candidates by the mainstream media. If we are to believe them, this assemblage of Republicans is among the most backward, bigoted, heartless and arrogant people ever to walk the earth. Mitt Romney is decried as being rich and out of touch with average Americans. Newt Gingrich is the arrogant, professorial philanderer too volatile to be trusted with the presidency. Rick Santorum is portrayed as the far right theocrat who will be sneaking into the homes of unsuspecting women and arresting them for using birth control. Ron Paul is, well, Ron Paul. They don’t know quite what to make of him.
With President Barack Obama telegraphing his fall strategy of raising taxes on the wealthy in the name of “fairness,” we need only look across the Pond to our friends in the United Kingdom where a surtax on the evil and hated rich has actually caused revenues to decline:
The Treasury received £10.35 billion in income tax payments from those paying by self-assessment last month, a drop of £509 million compared with January 2011. Most other taxes produced higher revenues over the same period.
The self-assessment returns from January, when most income tax is paid by the better-off, have been eagerly awaited by the Treasury and government ministers as they provide the first evidence of the success, or failure, of the 50p rate. It is the first year following the introduction of the 50p rate which had been expected to boost tax revenues from self-assessment by more than £1billion.
Senior sources said that the first official figures indicated that there had been “manoeuvring” by well-off Britons to avoid the new higher rate. The figures will add to pressure on the Coalition to drop the levy amid fears it is forcing entrepreneurs to relocate abroad.
If you missed the debate on CNN last night in Arizona, count yourself lucky. It was miserable. I only watched it because I discovered—much to my chagrin—that a recently purchased WiMAX adapter allowed me to stream video directly off the web at a framerate that wouldn’t make my brain explode. (It instead left that job up to the candidates.)
If you were a conservative turning in to your first presidential debate, you may have been surprised. Up on stage was one Rick Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania, who in a number of statements said that he voted against spending and was dead set against the big government philosophy of Barack Obama…only to then say that he wanted to use the power of the government to force his own view of family life on people, and that he was for the big government philosophy of Barack Obama.
Just, you know, for his things. Riiight.
If you were still unswayed by the arguments by myself or Kevin or anyone else that Santorum was not a friend to libertarians or even fiscal conservatives, well, Santorum should have swayed you tonight. Let us focus on his whopper of a quote during one of his numerous tirades against Mitt Romney:
[C]ongress has a role of allocating resources when they think the administration has it wrong.
Newsflash, Santorum: Neither Congress nor the administration has the role of allocating resources. We have this thing called the “free market” that does that. Now, one could say that I was misconstruing Santorum’s argument, because he was only talking about resources that were justly appropriated for government use (though that is a whole Pandora’s box right there.) But as Alex Roarty over at the National Journal points out, the whole thing came in over a discussion on earmarks, something that Santorum has defended.
In a new video from Learn Liberty, Professor Aeon Skoble explains why smoking bans violate the private property rights of business owners. He notes that if someone that doesn’t want to eat at an establishment that allows smoking, the market allows them to find another restaurant that is more suitable to them:
While Republicans in Arizona are trying to decide between the candidates running for the presidential nomination, the race for the GOP nomination to replace Sen. Jon Kyl is less than suspenseful. According to a new survey from Public Policy Polling, Rep. Jeff Flake holds an overwhelming lead over his rivals:
- Jeff Flake: 56%
- Wil Cardon: 7%
- Bryan Hackbarth: 5%
- Others: 2%
- Not sure: 31%
Flake, perhaps of the most fiscally conservative members of the House, also leads his prospective Democratic Party opponents, Richard Carmona and Don Bivens, in head-to-head matchups — by the same margins.
Jeff Flake v. Richard Carmona
- Flake: 46%
- Carmona: 35%
- Undecided: 19%
Jeff Flake v. Don Bivens
- Flake: 46%
- Bivens: 35%
- Undecided: 19%
Despite a disappointing fundraising haul last quarter, Flake is still the favorite to win in the fall. But a word of caution to Republicans, Arizona is a state that President Barack Obama’s campaign plans to actively compete in. Continuing to drag out the presidential primary could hurt Flake come fall as money is still going elsewhere.
In a new ad airing in Michigan, Rep. Ron Paul’s campaign slams Rick Santorum for voting to raise the debt ceiling, doubling the size of the Department of Education, and supporting Medicare Part D, a multi-trillion dollar expansion of an already broken entitlement.
Paul also hits Santorum on voting to send money to Planned Parenthood, which is frequently targeted by social conservatives (heads may have just exploded), via his votes in the Senate forcing taxpayers to pay for contraceptives.
Last month’s jobs numbers were certainly much needed good news, but a new report reminds us that we aren’t out of the woods yet. According to a new survey from Gallup, unemployment is hovering back around 9%:
Unemployment could rise back to 9 percent of the U.S. population in Feburary, according to a Gallup survey released Tuesday, painting a grim picture for the Obama administration, which had been temporarily buoyed by promising jobs figures at the end of January.
Gallup’s mid-month reading, which traditionally previews the government report issued at the end of the month, shows a rise of seven-tenths of a percentage from the 8.3 percent unemployment rate at the end of January. That would be the worst unemployment figure since September of last year.
The survey firm said seasonal factors — including job loss by seasonal workers hired over the holidays — could be responsible for the dip.
“Regardless of what the government reports, Gallup’s unemployment and underemployment measures show a sharp deterioration in job market conditions since mid-January,” the firm said in a statement accompanying the release of the data.
Gallup also found that 10 percent of American workers have part-time positions despite wanting full-time work.
This is a reminder to Democrats that they can’t take a month or two of decent economic news as a sign that Barack Obama will win re-election and they’ll re-take the House. Then again, this isn’t surprising given the predictions the Federal Reserve and the Congressional Budget Office recently made about the economy in the next couple of years.
As you know, the Obama Administration recently rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, a head-scratcher given that gas is expected to rise upwards of $4 a gallon in the coming months. It’s also odd given the dire need for jobs, and the pipeline would have certainly aided those efforts.
Oddly, however, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said yesterday that his boss, President Barack Obama, wasn’t to blame for the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. According to the White House, congressional Republicans are to blame: