SOPA

Americans Say They Don’t Trust Their Government

A long time ago, I asked people “Why Do You Trust Your Government?” It appears I now have an answer: they don’t.

As Barack Obama begins his second term in office, trust in the federal government remains mired near a historic low, while frustration with government remains high. And for the first time, a majority of the public says that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms.

1-31-13 #1The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Jan. 9-13 among 1,502 adults, finds that 53% think that the federal government threatens their own personal rights and freedoms while 43% disagree.

In March 2010, opinions were divided over whether the government represented a threat to personal freedom; 47% said it did while 50% disagreed. In surveys between 1995 and 2003, majorities rejected the idea that the government threatened people’s rights and freedoms.

The growing view that the federal government threatens personal rights and freedoms has been led by conservative Republicans. Currently 76% of conservative Republicans say that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms and 54% describe the government as a “major” threat. Three years ago, 62% of conservative Republicans said the government was a threat to their freedom; 47% said it was a major threat.

Weighing the Paul Ryan Announcement

Paul Ryan

This weekend Mitt Romney announced that his running mate would be Congressman Paul Ryan from Wisconsin. Ryan gained a lot of notoriety recently with his better-than-Obama’s budget proposal, which aimed to balance the budget in the next 3 or 4 decades.

It’s a sad day for conservatives when the hero to save them from their budget woes needs 30+ years to balance the budget.

Still, Ryan is the latest non-libertarian making waves about balancing the federal budget, so I would like to believe that Romney’s pick of Ryan is more about sending a message that he is (or that he wants to be) serious about fiscal issues rather than a pick to appease the Tea Party folks who don’t really care for Romney.

I am, however, a bit confused over the Tea Party excitement of Ryan. Sure, Romney could have made a worse choice, but Tea Party leaders are acting like the problems with Romney have vanished now that Ryan is on the ticket.

Let’s remember this is the same Paul Ryan who not only supported TARP but went to the floor of the House to beg his colleagues to do the same. This is the same Paul Ryan who supported the auto bailouts. How do those positions qualify anyone as a fiscal conservative?

Chick-Fil-A comes under fire for anti-gay marriage position

Chick-Fil-A

On Sunday, my wife and I went to see Refused, a Swedish hardcore band that just recently got back together after 14 years. I’m not going to be a hipster about it, so I’ll admit that I didn’t get into them until around 2000, a couple of years after the split up, after seeing the video for “New Noise.” After listening to their last record, The Shape of Punk to Come (1998, Burning Heart Records), I realized that they were very anti-capitalist, going so far as to call it a “crime.”

So while I was at the show, I wasn’t surprised to hear Dennis Lyxzén, the band’s frontman, mention their views, even though it was incredibly brief. We paid around $70 for our two tickets, another $50 for two t-shirts, and walked into the show with a full awareness of what to expect. In fact, these viewpoints are common in the style of music to which I listen. Bands like Propaghandi, NOFX, and a slew of others all express an anti-capitalist point of view, whether it’s in their lyrics or activism. As a believer in free markets, I just happen to strongly disagree.

The same could be said of Chick-Fil-A. The Atlanta-based restaurant chain has once again come under fire over its stance on a hotly debated social issue. In an interview for the Baptist Press, Dan Cathy, President of Chick-Fil-A, expressed his company’s opposition to same-sex marriage:

In a departure from previous comments, Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy told a Baptist website that the Atlanta-based company is “guilty as charged” in its support of traditional marriage.

The Return of SOPA

SOPA

You’d think Congress would learn its lesson. After much of the nation revolted in protest this year, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was killed in the House, as was its counterpart (PIPA) in the Senate. Americans don’t want government regulating and policing the Internet. Beyond that, the bill was bad for technology.

SOPA got pulled. We won. We sent a clear message that Congress should keep its grubby paws off the Internet. Victory is sweet!

But now it’s happening again.

Lamar Smith, the stubborn Republican from Texas is pushing his Intellectual Property (IP) legislation back into the forefront, and it seems that his latest effort, the Intellectual Property Attache Act, is on the fast track to be rushed through Congress before the public really understand what’s going on.

TechDirt reported yesterday about how the IP attaches that would be created would be for pushing maximalist policy globally:

Their role is not to support more effective or more reasonable IP policy. It is solely to increase expansion, and basically act as Hollywood’s personal thugs pressuring other countries to do the will of the major studios and labels. The role is literally defined as pushing for “aggressive support for enforcement action” throughout the world.

Government: All Your Internets Are Belong To Us

Legislators in Washington are at it again, working tirelessly to ruin a perfectly good Internet.

Maybe it would be different if they consulted with leaders in technological advancements to find out the implications of an idea. Or maybe they could ask what technology might break because of a bill. But that’s not how it works.

I imagine the Congressional discussions of Internet manipulation to be like a group of senior citizens sipping coffee at McDonald’s at 5:00 a.m. and fussing about those “dagburned Internet machines” taking over life as they once knew it.

Surely it can’t be that way, but when you read the legislation, you have to wonder.

SOPA and PIPA threatened to do all sorts of bad things to the Internet. There was a whole list of problems with that legislation, and though massive Internet protests managed to derail the bills, it’s worth noting that if not for those protests, SOPA and PIPA would have been passed with much bipartisan support.

Then CISPA came along, and while it wasn’t a brutal pillaging of core Internet technologies like SOPA and PIPA, it would have opened the door for some serious privacy issues. With full cooperation from the Heritage Foundation (which was an outright betrayal of the American public), House Republicans managed to pass CISPA and send it to the Senate, where it fortunately hasn’t gone anywhere – yet.

We’ve Been Betrayed by The Heritage Foundation

I spent most of Friday in disbelief.

The House was supposed to be considering the Cyber Intelligence Safety and Protection Act, otherwise known as CISPA, on Friday. Thursday I caught some rumors that it was being moved up a day, and when I got online Friday morning, I found that they had indeed voted on it, and it passed 248-168.

My disbelief wasn’t that it passed but rather that my Congressman, Tom Graves, had voted in favor of it. He has a 5-way conservative test for considering legislation, and I’m still not sure how CISPA passed his test. I think CISPA has some obvious Constitutional problems, and when I saw Graves’ vote, I felt (for lack of a better word) betrayed.

That’s not to say that Graves is awful and needs to be thrown out. On the contrary, Tom really is a pretty good Congressman, and he’s usually on the right side of an issue even before I offer my input on legislation. For example, he opposed NDAA, and he was opposing SOPA before everybody else. Graves wasn’t the only usually-good Congressman to vote for this bill. Several others shocked me with a vote for CISPA as well.

While asking around and looking for reasons why these Congressmen went the wrong way on this bill, I was told multiple times that The Heritage Foundation was a major influence in CISPA’s passing. How unfortunate. While The Heritage Foundation typically does a good thing, apparently when it’s wrong, it’s really wrong.

CISPA passes the House

Yesterday evening, the House — acting a day earlier than scheduled — passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) in the face of opposition from the White House and a skeptical Internet community:

The House on Thursday approved cybersecurity legislation that privacy groups have decried as a threat to civil liberties.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, sponsored by Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Maryland), passed on a vote of 248 to 168.

Its goal is a more secure internet, but privacy groups fear the measure breaches Americans’ privacy along the way. The White House had weighed in on Wednesday, threatening a veto unless there were significant changes to increase consumer privacy. The bill was amended to provide more privacy protections, but it was not immediately clear whether the Senate or the White House would give the amended bill its blessing.

SOPA author not done with the internet

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.

SOPA: Freedom and the Internet, Victorious

Yesterday, I spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives about the massive online protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (“SOPA”) and the PROTECT IP Act (“PIPA”), legislation that poses a dire threat to the Internet and to liberties that our enshrined in our Bill of Rights.

You can watch my speech and read the transcript below:

Long ago, Jefferson warned, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.” The exceptions to that rule have been few and far between recently, and ought to be celebrated when they occur.

One did this past week with the announcement that supporters of the so-called “Stop On-Line Privacy Act” and the “Protect Intellectual Property Act” have indefinitely postponed their measures after an unprecedented protest across the Internet.

SOPA and PIPA pose a crippling danger to the Internet because they use the legitimate concern over copy-right infringement as an excuse for government to intrude upon and regulate the very essence of the Internet - the unrestricted and absolutely free association that links site to site, providing infinite pathways for commerce, discourse and learning.

The State of Our Union is Dire

Tonight President Obama will deliver his third State of the Union address, but something that happened yesterday illustrates the true state of our union far better than anything you’ll hear tonight. As we reported yesterday, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was detained by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials at the Nashville International Airport. Paul was detained by TSA officials after refusing an invasive full body pat-down following some kind of anomaly in the body scanner’s reading. Some might argue that there’s nothing to get worked up about here. After all, shouldn’t we expect senators to be treated like everyone else? But it is precisely because everyday citizens are subjected to these invasive procedures on a daily basis that Sen. Paul’s detention is so alarming. His high-profile detention by the TSA serves as a reminder that Americans are having their privacy violated every day on their way through the nation’s airports.

You probably won’t hear about Sen. Paul’s detention by the TSA in President Obama’s address tonight. You’re not likely to hear anything about it in the GOP response delivered by Governor Mitch Daniels (R-Ind.), nor even in the Tea Party response offered by businessman and former presidential candidate Herman Cain (R-Ga.). You probably won’t hear about the National Defense Authorization Act, the Stop Online Piracy Act, or any of the other manifold ways that Washington has undermined the Bill of Rights. But whether our politicians want to raise these issues or not, these are the issues that define the state of our union in the 21st century. And the state of our union is dire.

 


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.