Congress

Chris Dodd Thinks Anti-SOPA/PIPA Websites Are Abusing Their Power

If you’re like me, you hoped that you wouldn’t be hearing anything more from allegedly corrupt former Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) after he decided in 2010 not to seek a sixth Senate term. Unfortunately those hopes were dashed when the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) decided it just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hire somebody who allegedly knows exactly what it takes to buy a senator. The MPAA selected Dodd as its new head lobbyist chairman and CEO last year. Now Dodd is taking aim at Wikipedia, Google, and other websites involved in today’s protest against the SOPA/PIPA internet censorship legislation pending in Congress:

It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and use their services. It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today. It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.

5 Reasons Obama Should Stop #SOPA & #PIPA With Veto Threat

Given President Obama’s first instincts to centralize power in Washington and expand his own executive power, it might seem unlikely that he would issue a veto threat against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act (PIPA). But we might be able to persuade him if we speak in language that is well understood at the White House, which is the language of reelection. While the Obama campaign might think backing SOPA/PIPA will help the president’s reelection efforts by way of generous campaign contributions from Hollywood, the White House might want to consider that signing SOPA/PIPA into law could damage his chances of reelection in at least five important ways.

1. SOPA/PIPA will alienate independents. No question about it, independents love and are well-informed about threats to their civil liberties. The Obama campaign might want to remember an ACLU poll from 2007 that showed a large majority of independents insisting that the next president should restore civil liberties that were eroded during the eight years of the Bush administration. That President Obama largely hasn’t restored those civil liberties hasn’t gone unnoticed. Maybe that’s why new polling shows Ron Paul and Mitt Romney beating Obama and even Rick Santorum nipping at his heels among independents. Many independents are independents precisely because they don’t trust either party to protect their civil liberties. Obama can kiss those independent voters goodbye if he signs SOPA/PIPA into law.

So…will turnabout be fair play?

There’s an old saying, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”  For the metaphorically impared among you, it means that if something is acceptable for one person to do, then it should be equally acceptable when another does the exact same thing.  Failure to adhere to this is generally called hypocrisy.

So, now that President Obama has made three recess appointments - you know, without Congress actually being in recess or anything - there is a factor out there that’s not really being discussed.  Sure, many people are arguing against the constitutionality of his actions, and rightly so.  However, the question I have is whether Democrats who are applauding this move now will do so when a Republican president tries it a few years down the road?

For the record, I’m going to guess that they won’t be as understanding.

This isn’t a new phenomenon in politics in the least.  Look at arguments against President Clinton getting us involved in Kosovo.  They look remarkably like arguments made against President Bush getting us involved in Iraq (including the idea that we should get United Nations support).  The only difference was the speakers.  On the flip side, the arguments for going into Kosovo were mirrored by the other side leading up to our invasion of Iraq.

The thing is, these kinds of moves only create a precedent by which the other side can try the exact same thing next time around.  However, many progressives are applauding the action.  Many conservatives are denouncing it.  I’m willing to bet that the next time around, the roles will be a complete 180 from where they are now and I would laugh if it wasn’t so tragic.

Reining In Out-Of-Control Bureaucrats

Joel Aaron, Grassroots Director for the Georgia chapter of Americans for Prosperity, sent along this piece about the REINS Act, which would curtail regulations placed businesses and, ostensibly, consumers. It’s tailored to Georgia, but this is an issue that Democrats in swing districts across the country may have to contend with in 2012.

Last week, Georgia Democrats John Barrow and Sanford. D. Bishop, Jr. casted votes in favor of alleviating excessive regulatory burdens with minor procedural hindrances. Today, Georgia legislators have the opportunity to confront Washington’s over-regulation problem head-on, by supporting the Regulation from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act.

The REINS Act was inspired in 2009 when Kentucky activist Lloyd Rogers approached U.S. Representative Geoff Davis after EPA water regulations had doubled his county’s taxes without so much as a congressional vote. Unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats should not have the power to make laws in this country, plain and simple. This basic, founding principle is given to lawmakers who must account for their votes and listen to the voice of the people they represent.

Rogers challenged Rep. Davis with language from the U.S. Constitution which says “all legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” Rep. Davis took this challenge to Washington and thus H.R. 10, the REINS Act, has become a centerpiece of the Republican House agenda.

AP questions Obama’s stimulus claims

President Obama claimed last night that his jobs plan would be paid for.  “Everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything,” he said.  In politics, it never gets more clear than that.  Of course, obviously I question it.  I question everything any politicians says.  What surprised me was that even the Associated Press is questioning it.

THE FACTS: Obama did not spell out exactly how he would pay for the measures contained in his nearly $450 billion American Jobs Act but said he would send his proposed specifics in a week to the new congressional supercommittee charged with finding budget savings. White House aides suggested that new deficit spending in the near term to try to promote job creation would be paid for in the future – the “out years,” in legislative jargon – but they did not specify what would be cut or what revenues they would use.

Essentially, the jobs plan is an IOU from a president and lawmakers who may not even be in office down the road when the bills come due. Today’s Congress cannot bind a later one for future spending. A future Congress could simply reverse it.

Thank you AP.

For the record, this is the same problem one runs into when talking about spending cuts.  Most of those cuts are deferred to the out years to ease the pinch in the short term, and most never materialize because, as the AP points out, Congress can’t tell a future Congress what they have to spend.

Regardless of what you think of the President’s jobs plan, his claim it will be paid for is dubious at best.  As the AP piece points out, Obama must send his proposal to the Super Committee – which he does not control – and hope they accept it, then get it through Congress and then hope that these proposals are adhered to in the future.

“We shouldn’t be partisan, We should solve problems.”

Those were the words of President Obama in an interview with WSB-TV.  He was talking about the debt ceiling and budget negotiations, but that quote really stuck out to me.  You see, I agree with the statement.  However, I have to wonder if President Obama does.

This is the same man who told congressional Republicans that he won and that they should get over it.  For the record, there was no question that he won.  They were talking about how Republicans had issues with TARP II.  Glad to see he wasn’t being partisan then, but just solving problems.

I guess he wasn’t being partisan when he passed a massive health care overhaul that 54% of the American people didn’t want in the first place.  That number is virtually unchanged even now.  I’m sure though that it wasn’t partisanship, but solving problems.  What was the big problem facing the nation when health care reform was passed?  Oh yeah, the loss of so many jobs…most of which weren’t in health care in the first place.

The truth of the matter is that President Obama, like every president I can remember before him, is partisan.  So are the guys on the other side of the table.  It’s politics and that’s just how it works.  Do I agree that it shouldn’t be about partisanship?  Oh yeah.  It absolutely should be about solving problems…but that’s where the partisanship kicks in.

Congress raiding our Oil: About to require the sale of U.S. SPR (Strategic Petroleum Reserve) to fund additional spending

Today, as part of H.R. 2354, Congress is requiring the sale of $500 million of Strategic Oil Reserves - and then requiring any money from those reserve sales be used to fund additional spending as part of the general treasury.

This sets a terrible precedent, threatens our national security and is in all likelihood not entirely legal.

On the floor of the house today Congressman McClintock called it a scandal - and we agree. This is nothing more than accounting tricks and blatant disregard for the very idea behind the Strategic Oil Reserve.

The vote is tomorrow, spread the word.

The Imperial Presidency, Round #43917

So Senator Mitch McConnell has released a “solution” to the debt ceiling crisis. Jason has already jumped on this topic, but I feel the need to add my own two cents. For me, the crucial portion of this non-solution is that it gives additional power to the White House, and perpetuates a seeming tradition of Congress abdicating responsibility that we’ve seen over the past decade.

The entire deal punts the debt and spending over to the President. Essentially, he decides to raise the debt limit. While Congress can pass a “bill of disapproval” with a two-thirds majority, the President can simply veto, which would then require a 2/3 vote to override. The plan would also require the President to make spending cuts roughly equal to the increase in the debt limit (as I understand it.) Yet there is no enforcement mechanism that I can see to ensure he does so. What would Congress do if he raised the debt limit with no corresponding cut in spending? Stamp their feet? It might be all they can do.

Haven’t we seen enough power consolidated in the Oval Office yet?

I mean, the President can assassinate people with a drone without so much as a whoopsie-daisy; have anyone imprisoned on suspicion of terrorism and interrogated; can have a lovely jaunt off to war and only send Congress a politely-worded letter; formulate budgets and tax policy while merely requesting Congressional approval; through executive agencies and department make and enforce law without a vote; and now we’re going to give him the power to unilaterally raise the debt limit with requirements that are so wishy-washy they make Natty Light look good?

Some Tips on Discretion and Common Sense

I have watched (somewhat in disbelief) the episode with Congressman Weiner unfold.  When discussing it with friends, I initially argued that somebody smart enough to get elected to Congress would be smart enough to not to post those certain types of photos online – or at the very least would be clever enough not to do it from his official Twitter account.

But I was wrong.  As my dad would say, common sense is apparently not too common.

In case there are others who insist on misbehaving online and who could benefit from a lesson in common sense, here are some things you should consider to obfuscate your real identity:

Podcast: Post-HCR Threats, “Control the People,” ObamaCare Impact, Nullification, Hank Skinner case, Guest: Jeff Scott

This week, Brett was re-joined by Jason and UL contributor, Jeff Scott, also from the Jeff Scott Show.

This week’s topics include:

 
 


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