Jason Chaffetz

Drop the SOPA: Protect the Internet from censorship

I’m kind of a rare breed of libertarian.  I actually believe in the concept of intellectual property.  As such, some might be under the belief that folks like me would be in favor of something like the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA.

Of course, they would be horribly, horribly wrong.

Regardless of ones feelings on IP, the reality is that SOPA is nothing less than a NDAA or PATRIOT Act for the internet.

You see, the internet is the last bastion of freedom anywhere in the world.  While it’s entirely possible to render something illegal in one country, it’s virtually impossible to stamp it out.  Laws and regulations become meaningless as physical borders mean nothing on a cyberscape free from such lines.

The kick in the butt with this bill, as with many similar bills, is that it really won’t do a whole heck of a lot to combat piracy.  Of course, there are some that will argue that what SOPA seeks to do is crush that freedom. That ideas breed in such freedom, and such ideas can not be allowed to incubate.

I don’t know if I would go that far, but what is clear is that SOPA is nothing more than a powergrab.  Those that are supposed to support and defend the Constitution have instead decided to just ignore the document completely.

SOPA seeks to require your ISP to spy on you.  It seeks to hurt companies like Mozilla that haven’t done what the powerful want it to do.  It seeks to rewrite the current laws regarding the internet and remake it into a place where innovation no longer happens.

Now, SOPA may not be all bad.  After all, plenty of companies will love to open up their nations to the off-shore dollars that are bound to flee the United States after a SOPA-like bill is passed.  While I’m not an opponent of out sourcing per se, I’d prefer it not to be encouraged through idiotic legislation.

SOPA must be shot down by Congress

On the heels of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which effectively shredded the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and Habeas Corpus, Congress will likely take up the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) at some point early next year.

For those of you that haven’t followed SOPA, Tina Korbe at Hot Air offers a very good introduction to the legislation:

Introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) and co-sponsored by representatives from both parties (the bill has a total of 31 co-sponsors!), the Stop Online Piracy Act purports to stop “foreign online criminals from stealing and selling America’s intellectual property and keeping the profits for themselves.”

According to Rep. Smith’s website, “IP theft costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs. The Stop Online Piracy Act specifically targets foreign websites primarily dedicated to illegal activity or foreign websites that market themselves as such. The bill ensures that profits from America’s innovations go to American innovators.”

That sounds relatively harmless, but there has been a lot of concern among tech-advocates that SOPA would would lead to censorship and deter innovation on the Internet.

Korbe continues:

State legislatures push back against online gambling ban

online gambling

The proposal to ban online gambling introduced at the behest of casino owner and major Republican donor Sheldon Adelson has been met with opposition from the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan group that serves legislators across the country.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the proposal, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (H.R. 4301 and S. 2159), in their respective chambers at the end of March. While the supporters are making this out to be some sort of moral crusade, Adelson is using his money and influence to protect brick-and-mortar casinos from competition.

But the National Conference of State Legislatures is pushing back against the measure, telling federal lawmakers that regulation of online gambling should be left up to state lawmakers:

In a letter to lawmakers on Thursday, the bipartisan group said the push would amount to the federal government usurping the role of the states to decide the legality of gambling online.

CNN uncovers explosive new Benghazi details

A little more than a week after President Barack Obama hit Republicans for their focus on what he called “phony scandals,” Jake Tapper, host of CNN’s The Lead, reported last night that the CIA had “dozens of people” on the ground in Libya the night of the attack that claimed four American lives and that the Agency going to great lengths to keep them from talking to the media:

Four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed in the assault by armed militants last September 11 in eastern Libya.

Sources now tell CNN dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night, and that the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret.

CNN has learned the CIA is involved in what one source calls an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency’s Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out.

Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency’s missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency’s workings.

The goal of the questioning, according to sources, is to find out if anyone is talking to the media or Congress.

It is being described as pure intimidation, with the threat that any unauthorized CIA employee who leaks information could face the end of his or her career.

In exclusive communications obtained by CNN, one insider writes, “You don’t jeopardize yourself, you jeopardize your family as well.”

Another says, “You have no idea the amount of pressure being brought to bear on anyone with knowledge of this operation.”

Congressman: Impeachment is in the “Realm of Possibility”

On Monday, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) floated the possibility of impeaching President Barack Obama over the administration’s handling of the terrorist attack on the American compound in Benghazi:

Rep. Jason Chaffetz says President Barack Obama’s handling of the government’s response to the Benghazi terrorist attack could be an impeachable offense and vows to continue digging at the “lies of highest magnitude” from the White House.

“It’s certainly a possibility,” the Utah Republican said Monday when asked about impeachment. “That’s not the goal but given the continued lies perpetrated by this administration, I don’t know where it’s going to go. … I’m not taking it off the table. I’m not out there touting that but I think this gets to the highest levels of our government and integrity and honesty are paramount.”

Chaffetz did clarify, however, that he’s not necessarily calling for impeachment. As he explained during an interview on CNN, he was asked about impeachment, so merely answered the question.

House Republicans changing their tune on spending cuts?

Recently, I noted that the national debt has increased by over $1.59 trillion since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives. Most Republican apologists will dismiss this since Speaker John Boehner and company have to work with a Democratic Senate and President Barack Obama. It’s a valid point, but only to an extent. Why? Because a chunk of House Republicans are constantly voting with House Democrats to prevent spending cuts.

And we’re not talking about massive spending cuts here. The Club for Growth notes that 95 House Republicans recently voted against a 0.27% across the board spending cut (that’s not a typo) to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill. Over at RedState, Erick Erickson notes some other proposed spending cuts that went down thanks to House Republicans:

You probably didn’t realize this because, for some reason, no one is reporting it. So here are just a few of the amendments the House defeated last week. If you’re not happy with this record House Republicans are compiling this election year, let them know now!

Amendments to H.R. 5325, the Energy and Water Appropriations Act, which contains more spending than last year’s bill:

Taxpayers to foot hefty bills for former presidents

We all know that President George W. Bush was a fiscal nightmare, largely laying the groundwork for his successor. Veronique de Rugy noted in her analysis on spending under Bush, that domestic spending alone went up by more than 20% in his first term. He expanded Medicare and expanded the bloated federal bureaucracy.

And even though he’s not in office anymore, The Daily Caller notes that Bush is still a burden to taxpayers thanks to a free ride for expenses given to former presidents:

Former President George W. Bush is budgeted to receive the most money from taxpayers of all the living ex-presidents.

Bush, the most recent former president, is requesting more than $1.3 million in taxpayer dollars for fiscal year 2013, according to a budget proposal document prepared by the General Services Administration.

Among expenses, the GSA budget document says the younger Bush is requesting $85,000 for phone costs. Hannah Abney, a spokeswoman for Bush, declined to comment on that when reached by The Daily Caller on Tuesday.

This is something from which all living presidents benefit. For example, Clinton has been budget just over $1 million; so just picking on Bush isn’t fair, but at the same time it’s hard not to equate this sort of spending with pork projects for companies already turning a profit.

The Hill names House GOP members that fight for limited government

It’s no secret that House Republican leadership, who often have to be prodded to stand on principle, has had issues with some members of their caucus. While they are often portrayed negatively by the media, many of us view them as the conscience of the Republican Party at a time when it would be easy to just “make a deal” with the White House and avoid big political fights.

The Hill recently went through a series of votes on key issues — ranging from the renewal of the PATRIOT Act to the government shutdown— and named off the dozen members who have consistantly stood for limited government values:

House Republican leaders had an extremely difficult time uniting their members in 2011, but some were far more exasperating than most.

But surprisingly, the most consistent GOP defectors during the last year were not freshmen, according to an analysis conducted by The Hill.

Veteran rank-and-file Republicans, not members of the historic class of 2010, have proven to be a greater challenge to keep in line.

The Hill’s review found that only two of the 12 biggest defectors in the House Republican Conference are freshmen: Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.) and Jeff Duncan (S.C.).

The other 10 are Reps. Ron Paul (Texas), Timothy Johnson (Ill.), Connie Mack (Fla.), Tom McClintock (Calif.), Tom Graves (Ga.), Paul Broun (Ga.), Jason Chaffetz (Utah), Steve King (Iowa), Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and Joe Wilson (S.C.). All 12 legislators consistently opposed their leaders at key moments during the House GOP’s first year back in the majority since 2006.

Drop the SOPA: Protect the Internet from censorship

In keeping with the goal to educate readers about the dangers of SOPA and PIPA, here is a piece by Tom Knighton, originally posted on December 20, 2011.

I’m kind of a rare breed of libertarian. I actually believe in the concept of intellectual property. As such, some might be under the belief that folks like me would be in favor of something like the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA.

Of course, they would be horribly, horribly wrong.

Regardless of ones feelings on IP, the reality is that SOPA is nothing less than a NDAA or PATRIOT Act for the internet.

You see, the internet is the last bastion of freedom anywhere in the world. While it’s entirely possible to render something illegal in one country, it’s virtually impossible to stamp it out. Laws and regulations become meaningless as physical borders mean nothing on a cyberscape free from such lines.

The kick in the butt with this bill, as with many similar bills, is that it really won’t do a whole heck of a lot to combat piracy. Of course, there are some that will argue that what SOPA seeks to do is crush that freedom. That ideas breed in such freedom, and such ideas can not be allowed to incubate.

I don’t know if I would go that far, but what is clear is that SOPA is nothing more than a powergrab. Those that are supposed to support and defend the Constitution have instead decided to just ignore the document completely.

SOPA seeks to require your ISP to spy on you. It seeks to hurt companies like Mozilla that haven’t done what the powerful want it to do. It seeks to rewrite the current laws regarding the internet and remake it into a place where innovation no longer happens.

SOPA must be shot down by Congress

In keeping with the goal to educate readers about the dangers of SOPA and PIPA, here is a piece by Jason Pye, originally posted by  on December 20, 2011.

On the heels of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which effectively shredded the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and Habeas Corpus, Congress will likely take up the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) at some point early next year.

For those of you that haven’t followed SOPA, Tina Korbe at Hot Air offers a very good introduction to the legislation:

Introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) and co-sponsored by representatives from both parties (the bill has a total of 31 co-sponsors!), the Stop Online Piracy Act purports to stop “foreign online criminals from stealing and selling America’s intellectual property and keeping the profits for themselves.”

According to Rep. Smith’s website, “IP theft costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs. The Stop Online Piracy Act specifically targets foreign websites primarily dedicated to illegal activity or foreign websites that market themselves as such. The bill ensures that profits from America’s innovations go to American innovators.”

That sounds relatively harmless, but there has been a lot of concern among tech-advocates that SOPA would would lead to censorship and deter innovation on the Internet.

Korbe continues:

 
 


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