Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘congress’

Embrace the sequester

Posted by Richard on February 24, 2013

I’m disgusted by the fear-mongering about the sequester by Obama and the Socialist Democrats, and I’m even more disgusted at all the Republican politicians who are joining the hysteria. Massive cuts, my ass. Jeez, by their own fraudulent “baseline budgeting” accounting, the sequester amounts to less than 3% of federal spending. And as Sen. Rand Paul has pointed out, that’s not even a real cut, but merely a reduction in the rate of increase.

The GOP leadership ought to be declaring over and over, “Mr. President, if you and your cabinet can’t cut spending by 2.5% without closing national parks, endangering the food supply, and inconveniencing air travelers, then you’re not competent to run the federal government.” They ought to embrace the sequester as at least a decent start.

Here’s another reason to embrace the sequester: According to DNC chief Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, it will delay action on gun control. Let’s hear it for the sequester!

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MSM fiscal cliff reporting jumps the shark

Posted by Richard on December 29, 2012

In the last few days, the mainstream media’s “reporting” of the fiscal cliff negotiations has gone from somewhat biased to totally beyond the pale. For instance, NBC Nightly News in the past fawningly reported Bill Clinton’s defense of the tax rates during his administration. And for years, they’ve talked disapprovingly about the “Bush tax cuts.” The other night, they described the consequences of going over the fiscal cliff as the restoration of the “higher Bush-era tax rates.” Not the “higher Clinton-era tax rates,” but the “higher Bush-era tax rates.” That is, the rates Bush inherited from Clinton and subsequently cut. 

Another news story I saw recently (I think it was CBS) stated as fact that with time running out, the only option left is to give the President what he wants. Why isn’t the only option to give the House Republicans what they want? Why is the intransigence of Obama an immutable given, while the intransigence of House Republicans is irrelevant?

I think the President is willing — perhaps eager — to go over the fiscal cliff. He may object to the domestic discretionary spending cuts, but he has no problem with the defense cuts (neither do I, by the way). And he likes the general idea of higher taxes and more government revenue. Plus, he’s confident that, given the GOP’s messaging incompetence and the complicity of the MSM, the blame for middle-class tax increases will fall on the Republicans.

I just hope that the utterly incompetent GOP mishandling of this issue will lead to the dumping of Boehner as House speaker and possibly the dumping of McConnell as Senate minority leader. It’s far past time for a major shake-up in the GOP that kicks to the curb the “ruling class” inside-the-beltway, politics-as-usual leadership that has served the party so poorly for so many years.

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Obama administration is creating another housing crisis

Posted by Richard on August 2, 2012

Pretty much everyone agrees that the financial crisis of 2008 was precipitated by the collapse of the housing bubble and subprime mortgages.

The left blames “predatory lenders” who somehow coerced or swindled borrowers into signing up for mortgages they couldn’t afford.

The right blames government regulations and intimidation, corruption and irresponsible practices at Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac, and lawsuits and intimidation from non-profits like ACORN for pressuring banks and mortgage institutions into making countless bad loans, which they then turned into CDOs and other derivative instruments in a futile attempt to avoid the consequences.

Unlike the left, which has only demagoguery and accusations, the right has facts to support its view. See also this and especially this.

But in any case, everyone pretty much agrees that vast numbers of loans to borrowers who would never be able to repay them were the root of the problem.

So why is the Obama administration trying to coerce lenders into making vast numbers of loans to borrowers who will never be able to repay them?

Well, this time it’s different. Because this time it’s not Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Community Reinvestment Act. This time it’s the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, a creation of Dodd-Frank (two of the prime architects of the 2008 crisis). This time they’re also going after the credit rating agencies.

And this time the subprime mortgages, lowered credit standards, and liar loans are limited to just blacks and Hispanics. Who will no doubt be protected from the consequences of whatever irresponsible choices they may make by the beneficence of the redistributionist Obama administration (if it continues for another four years).

Or maybe this time it will lead to yet another housing bubble ending in yet another housing collapse leading to yet another round of smaller financial institutions going under or being absorbed by the “too big to fail” institutions that have friends in Washington looking out for them — who will once again be bailed out at the expense of taxpayers who acted responsibly.

Read the whole thing.

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“Take the heavy boot off the throat of America’s job creators”

Posted by Richard on July 27, 2012

Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA3) delivered such a rousing  five-minute speech on the floor of the House yesterday that he received a standing ovation. Check it out.


[YouTube link]

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Obama’s dangerous fantasies

Posted by Richard on February 6, 2012

In an interview with the Today Show’s Matt Lauer, President Obama reiterated what he’s maintained for the past 3 years, that we can dissuade Iran from building nuclear weapons (and using them against Israel) by persuading them that they don’t really want any (emphasis added):

The president elaborated on Iran’s nuclear capability — and how he plans to prevent it. “My goal is to try to resolve this diplomatically, mainly because the only way over the long term we can assure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon is by getting them to understand it’s not in their interest,” Obama told Lauer.

The Washington Times quotes the President as also claiming that Iran’s goals are a mystery:

Mr. Obama also said in an interview that the U.S. has “a very good estimate” of the state of Iran’s nuclear development, but is having a more difficult time assessing its leadership’s intentions, as well as the political dynamics within the Islamic Republic.

Here’s a hint — this is what they’re saying right now in Iranian media outlets (government-controlled and thus with at least tacit approval):

The Iranian government, through a website proxy, has laid out the legal and religious justification for the destruction of Israel and the slaughter of its people.

The doctrine includes wiping out Israeli assets and Jewish people worldwide.

Calling Israel a danger to Islam, the conservative website Alef, with ties to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the opportunity must not be lost to remove “this corrupting material. It is a “‘jurisprudential justification” to kill all the Jews and annihilate Israel, and in that, the Islamic government of Iran must take the helm.”

The article, written by Alireza Forghani, an analyst and a strategy specialist in Khamenei’s camp, now is being run on most state-owned sites, including the Revolutionary Guards’ Fars News Agency, showing that the regime endorses this doctrine.

Does the Obama administration really think that Hillary Clinton (a mere female) or even the silver-tongued Obama himself can somehow persuade this genocidal and tyrannical regime that having nukes is not in its interests, when its interests include killing every Jew on the planet??

Meanwhile, Bashir Assad, whom Hillary defended as a “reformer,” continues to slaughter civilians in growing numbers, and in the same interview Lauer asked why the U.S. and U.N. would act to stop such slaughter in one case, but not another:

“I said at the time with respect to Libya that we would be making these decisions…on a case by case basis based on how unified the international community was,” Obama said. …

The repressive regimes of Russia and China have blocked a U.N. resolution merely condemning the brutal repression in Syria, so I guess the Obama administration will shrug and say the international community isn’t sufficiently unified.

As for the home front, for the umpteenth time the President bemoaned the fact that he can’t just impose his will on the nation:

“What’s frustrated people is that I have not be able to force Congress to implement every aspect of what I said in 2008,” he said.

This man is full of dangerous fantasies, foreign and domestic. In the former case, 60s peace-and-love generation fantasies; in the latter case, fantasies of autocracy.

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1000 days without a budget

Posted by Richard on January 24, 2012

Tea Party Patriots reminds us that as of today, the U.S. Senate has failed to perform one of its primary functions for nearly three full years (emphasis in original):

Today marks the 1000th day that the US Senate has failed to pass a budget. Budgets are something that most Americans encounter, whether in their homes, in their jobs, in their businesses, or in their community groups, etc.

The purpose of a budget is to lay out a guideline for revenues and expenditures, so that one can have a forecast of the year to come.

It is no wonder our elected officials can’t seem to balance the budget and get our fiscal house in order. There is no budget; no guide to even point them in the right direction. In fact, they can’t find the “BOLDNESS” to cut even $1 from the federal budget!

In an economic environment where many Americans are out of work, losing their jobs, and struggling to find jobs, it is unacceptable that the members of the US Senate have been allowed to go on without completing a basic function of their jobs for nearly 3 years!

Call your Senator today. Tell them that Washington spending is out of control and must be cut. Tell them to take the first step and pass a budget.

Because of the baseline budgeting scam, Senate Democrats’ refusal to pass a budget lets spending grow on autopilot. The spendthrifts (of both parties) can claim they’re “holding the line” on spending if their continuing resolutions appropriate funds at somewhere near the “current level” — which is automagically about 7-8% higher each year.

Go to Tea Party Patriots to look up your senators’ phone numbers. Then give them a call and let their staff know that you’re on to their sleazy little game.

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Life imitates art, Atlas Shrugged edition, episode 137

Posted by Richard on January 23, 2012

Here’s some news you may have missed last week. From The Hill:

Six House Democrats, led by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), want to set up a “Reasonable Profits Board” to control gas profits.

The Democrats, worried about higher gas prices, want to set up a board that would apply a “windfall profit tax” as high as 100 percent on the sale of oil and gas, according to their legislation. The bill provides no specific guidance for how the board would determine what constitutes a reasonable profit.

The Gas Price Spike Act, H.R. 3784, would apply a windfall tax on the sale of oil and gas that ranges from 50 percent to 100 percent on all surplus earnings exceeding “a reasonable profit.” It would set up a Reasonable Profits Board made up of three presidential nominees that will serve three-year terms. Unlike other bills setting up advisory boards, the Reasonable Profits Board would not be made up of any nominees from Congress.

Co-sponsoring the bill are five other Democrats: Reps. John Conyers Jr. (Mich.), Bob Filner (Calif.), Marcia Fudge (Ohio), Jim Langevin (R.I.), and Lynn Woolsey (Calif.).

Pam Geller called it “Post-American Statism” and asked:

This is straight out of Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged — what next? The “Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog Rule,” and “The Equalization of Opportunity Bill”?

Didn’t Obama already appoint an Equalization of Opportunity Czar? I’ve lost track.

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SOPA/PIPA sponsors bailing

Posted by Richard on January 19, 2012

Support for HR 3261, the Stopping Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act (PIPA), which prove that technologically challenged legislators have no business regulating the Internet, is collapsing in the face of widespread public opposition, with 14 former cosponsors dropping their support. Americans for Limited Government issued a press release today in which its president, Bill Wilson, urged other lawmakers to drop their support (emphasis added):

“The American people have spoken, with the urging of popular websites like Wikipedia, through hundreds of thousands of emails and phone calls to members of Congress in opposition to a big government takeover of the Internet. It led to no less than 14 cosponsors of SOPA and PIPA to drop their support, eight in the Senate alone. Now it is time for other cosponsors to respond to the will of the American people as well.

“There simply is no constituency for legislation that, in the name of protecting copyright, institutionalizes a system of blocking entire websites, removing visibility from search engines, and targeting ad providers, all based merely on the accusation of intellectual property theft. Existing law already provides for the removal of copyrighted material from the Internet domestically, and dealing with foreign infringement requires diplomacy with relevant nations overseas, not a regime of censorship here at home.”

Under current law, if someone uploads copyrighted content to, say, YouTube or my blog, the copyright owner can demand that it be removed. That’s reasonable. The site owner can comply or dispute the copyright claim, in which case a court will determine who’s right. But under SOPA, a single unsubstantiated claim of copyright infringement would be sufficient for the government to shut down the entire site immediately, with no judicial review.

For more information about the bills, the imploding of support, and why such legislation simply isn’t necessary to protect copyright, see the long list of references attached to the ALG press release, and especially this NetRightDaily post. To tell your senators and representatives that you don’t want the government’s boot on the Internet, click the button below.

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Doubling down on autocratic rule

Posted by Richard on January 5, 2012

Mere hours after making his first non-recess “recess appointment,” President Obama made three more, this time to the National Labor Relations Board. Even Sen. John McCain called it an “absolute abuse of power” and characterized the two radical pro-union appointees, Richard Griffin and Sharon Block, as “far, far left” people. When Sen. “Reach Across the Aisle” McCain calls someone “far, far left,” you can be pretty sure they’re really out there. For more about their background, check out this report (PDF) by Americans for Limited Government, which also exposed the President’s “we can’t wait for Congress to act” claim as totally bogus:

“These nominees were only submitted to the Senate by Obama on December 15,” ALG President Bill Wilson noted. “There has not even been time to hold a hearing in the Senate, let alone vote on them, and yet Obama wants to claim his extraconstitutional ‘recess’ appointments were based on some sort of extraordinary delay.”

Industry groups affected by NLRB regulations are expected to sue in federal court to overturn the appointments and any new regulations the Board issues.

“Obama and Reid have thrown out the ‘advice and consent’ clause of the Constitution so that union organizers can hang posters on their boss’ door during a union election,” Wilson joked, concluding, “And to what end? When all is said and done, the courts will nullify these appointments and their acts, meanwhile Obama will be remembered as the recess president who accomplished nothing because he was too busy violating the Constitution.”

“When all is said and done” may be a long way off. Right now, not enough is being said or done. In this matter, as in others, the Obama administration is attempting to rule by decree, a la Hugo Chavez. Where is the outrage? Why don’t I hear full-throated denunciations instead of just McCain/McConnell-style soft-spoken disapprovals?

Cartoon by William Warren, ALG

Warren Toon from NetRightDaily.com. Used with permission. Click to visit source.

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The audacity of autocracy

Posted by Richard on January 4, 2012

The Constitution gives the President the “power to fill up vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate.” A plain reading of those words makes it clear that a recess appointment may be made only when a vacancy occurs during a recess. But like so many other parts of the Constitution, this restriction has been long ignored by both Democrats and Republicans. Presidents of both parties have used Congressional recesses to make appointments for which they couldn’t get (or didn’t want to ask for) Senate consent.

During the last couple of years of the Bush administration, Democrats, angered by the Bolton appointment, devised a strategy to prevent the President from making any more recess appointments: they kept Congress in session “pro forma” even when most members were out of town. It worked. Because it apparently never occurred to Bush (supposedly the architect of an “imperial presidency”) that he could simply decide by fiat that Congress was in recess.

Now we have a President who’s done exactly that:

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell Wednesday condemned President Obama’s decision to make a recess appointment of Richard Cordray as the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, even as the Senate is not in recess.

“This recess appointment represents a sharp departure from a long-standing precedent that has limited the President to recess appointments only when the Senate is in a recess of 10 days or longer,” said Sen. McConnell, who in a speech on the Senate floor December 17 pleaded with the White House for cooperation on the stalled confirmation of presidential appointments.

“Breaking from this precedent lands this appointee in uncertain legal territory, threatens the confirmation process and fundamentally endangers the Congress’s role in providing a check on the excesses of the executive branch,” he said.

Republicans have successfully blocked the Senate from going into an actual recess since Christmas to prevent Cordray’s recess appointment by Obama.

White House officials said Obama will argue these “pro forma” sessions are an artificial device with no legal standing—and that the Senate was, in fact, recessed.

In other words, “The Senate is in recess when I say it’s in recess.”

Obama’s mantra of late has been “We can’t wait for Congress to act.” Those are code words for “We don’t need no stinkin’ Congress.” This president and his staff are at heart autocrats, using executive decrees, unconfirmed czars, and sweeping regulatory actions to thumb their noses at the balance of powers and run roughshod over both the Constitution and the legislative branch. Imperial presidency, indeed.

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Pass this bill instead

Posted by Richard on September 15, 2011

When the President addressed Congress a week ago and exhorted them 17 or 18 times to "Pass this bill!" there was no bill to pass. No actual written legislation. Nothing at all on paper, only talking points on his teleprompter. After that was pointed out, staffers hastily drafted a bill, and the President has been waving the 150-page document ever since as he endlessly repeats "Pass this bill!"

The title of that belatedly drafted bill is the "American Jobs Act of 2011." But here's the funny thing: A dozen or two times a day, the Prez calls on the House (where it must originate) to pass that bill — now, not later! — and exhorts his followers to call their congresscritters and tell them to pass that bill. But no Democrat ever introduced the bill. The Prez keeps urging the House to pass a bill they can't pass. 

Yesterday, Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-1) decided to rectify that situation. He introduced his own bill, only two pages long, named the "American Jobs Act of 2011." It changes the corporate tax rate (and alternative minimum tax) to 0%. 

Brilliant. I love it. Call or email your congresscritters and urge them to pass Rep. Gohmert's "American Jobs Act of 2011" (H.R. 2911). It would create far, far more jobs than the President's amalgam of recycled tax increases, tax incentives for favored groups/behaviors, and "stimulus" spending. 

Warner Todd Huston thinks either Obama is incredibly incompetent or cynical and duplicitous: 

If Obama were an effective president Rep. Gohmert would never have been able to appropriate Obama’s bill name for his own. If Obama was effective he’d have crafted his jobs bill, delivered his speech that night, and lined up at least one Democrat, if not the whole Democrat Party, to introduce his bill the very next morning after the speech.

But Obama did no such thing. Not only was there no bill when he delivered the speech, even this many days after the speech the bill has never been introduced in the House of Representatives where such bills might begin the legislative process.

Of course, it is also possible that President Obama never intended to submit any bill named the “American Jobs Act of 2011″ in the first place. It is possible he never wanted such a bill debated for real because all he was doing was using it as a political ploy for his reelection campaign.

Whichever is the case, the best defense is a good offense, and Rep. Gohmert has mounted a marvelous offense. Let's help him out by talking up his "American Jobs Act of 2011" (H.R. 2911) as a sensible alternative to the President's as-yet unintroduced, as-yet unnamed "Son of Stimulus" bill. Contact Congress!

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The baseline budgeting scam

Posted by Richard on August 5, 2011

A new CNN/Gallup poll shows most Americans disapprove of the debt ceiling deal, and CNN claims it's because of the process. Nonsense. It's the substance. An earlier CNN poll found that 2/3 of Americans favored the much tougher Cut, Cap and Balance Act, including a majority of every single demographic surveyed, even liberals.

Most Americans recognize a failure to honestly address the spending and debt crisis when they see it. If they knew just how the baseline budgeting scam works, they'd be even more disgusted by this sham "debt control" deal, which will increase the federal debt by at least $7 trillion (that's $7,000 billion) in the next 10 years. And that's assuming some pretty rosy projections for economic growth. 

Baseline budgeting proponents began with a seemingly reasonable suggestion: "Instead of starting each budgeting process from scratch [zero-based budgeting], why don't we use the previous budget as our starting point and make adjustments from there?" Then they added, "Of course, we'll need to adjust the previous budget numbers to account for inflation, population growth, increased demand for services, and a big fat dollop of 'What the heck, we can get away with it!' to create the baseline for next year." And they've been getting away with it for years.

The result of this process is that the starting point for each new federal budget — the baseline, which by bipartisan ruling class consensus represents "no spending increase" — is about 7-8% higher than the previous year's spending. Fiscal year 2011 spending is going to be about $3,800 billion. So, under baseline budgeting, if FY 2012 spending increases only to $4,066 billion, that's no increase at all! "Look how fiscally responsible we are! We held spending to the current level!" 

Of course, a 7% annual increase means the budget will double in 10 years to about $7,600 billion. But the baseline budgeters call that a 10-year spending freeze!

So let's put this "historic" Congressional compromise into perspective. They've agreed to $900 billion in "cuts" over 10 years, and their bipartisan committee is supposed to come up with $1,500 billion more in "cuts" this fall. If they really do (and Obama, Reid, et al, are already clamoring for the $1,500 billion to be mostly "revenue enhancements," i.e., tax increases), then the 2022 budget will be "cut" from its $7,600 billion baseline to a mere $5,200 billion. 

That's a 37% increase over 2011. They call that a massive cut. The establishment, ruling class Republicans are congratulating themselves for this monumental achievement. They're telling the Tea Party that they've won, that they've "changed the terms of the debate" and "turned things around."

Um, no. They've slowed the rate at which we're approaching the apocalypse. They've bought themselves another year or two (and maybe helped Obama buy another term) before the US turns into Greece. They've once again kicked the can down the road. And a significant proportion of the American people — far more than ever before — recognize this deal as the irresponsible charade that it is.

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Weinergate commentary, at last

Posted by Richard on June 8, 2011

OK, so far I've avoided posting about the saga of Rep. Anthony Weiner (SD-NY) and his tented underwear. But I've broken down and can no longer resist.

Best bitingly funny remark goes to Ann Coulter, who suggested that Weiner's penis photo dispute would be settled in Small Claims Court. 

Best amateur submission I've heard was from a caller to a radio show who, after Weiner's first press conference, pointed out that no matter how you pronounce his name, it fits. 

Best column summing things up and, while being quite funny, making a serious point, goes to Reason's Gene Healy

Ah, Weinergate, you are the gift that keeps on giving, the crotch-shot that launched a thousand puns. Yet, sadly, some people fancy themselves far too serious to embrace the hilarity.

"Just pathetic," an example of "American Puritanism," journalism professor Jeff Jarvis pronounced the media focus on Rep. Anthony Weiner's (D-N.Y.) alleged boxer-brief malfunction.

Spare me. There's nothing wrong with enjoying a good old-fashioned political sex scandal. They're entertaining, and they may even be edifying—reminding us that self-styled "public servants" are often less responsible, more venal, and just plain dumber than those they seek to rule.

So have a guilt-free laugh about Weinergate. Not only are political sex scandals great fun, they serve an important social purpose. They remind us that we should think twice before we cede more power to these clowns.

Actually, I think they should make us think twice about how much power we've ceded to these clowns already. But I grant Healy his point. Read the whole thing for bipartisan examples. 

UPDATE: Oops, sorry. Gene Healy is with Cato, not Reason. The link is from Reason, though, and I get those two confused a lot.  

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Four big lies about the debt ceiling

Posted by Richard on June 7, 2011

Tea Party Patriots, the wonderful umbrella organization of Tea Party groups across the country, is challenging head-on both Republicans and Democrats with regard to the so-called debt ceiling crisis:

At this very moment members of congress are trying to decide what pieces of America's future they will trade away as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling. We've had the chance to talk with many of them. And even most of those who claim to be on the side of fiscal responsibility are giddy with excitement that they can trade their vote on this debt ceiling "crisis" in exchange for a handful of magic beans offered by the liberals.

Our answer is simple.

It is not acceptable to use the future of America as a bargaining chip.
Do not raise the debt ceiling.
PERIOD.

They've identified four big lies that, in countless variations, we're going to be told over and over again in the coming weeks: 

Big Lie 1 "The current financial crisis was inherited."

Bush created all of these problems.  We are trying to solve them but it's much worse than we thought and it will take years for our solutions to have an impact."

Big Lie 2 "There's no way to cut enough spending. So we must raise the debt ceiling."

"There's no way to cut enough spending. So we must raise the debt ceiling. If we don't raise it America will not be able to pay back its creditors and the rest of the world will never trust us with money again. It will be a disaster!!!"

Big Lie 3 "We can haggle for some really great deals now that we have them over a barrel."

Members of the republican "leadership" will tell you this lie.

"Raising the debt ceiling is inevitable; and the democrats want it so badly they're willing to give us some really great deals in order to get it. We can take advantage of it and get some cool stuff in exchange for our votes. It'll be great!"

Big Lie 4 "You just don't understand all of the complicated details. Let us handle it. We're smart."

Their responses to the first three lies are excellent (I haven't see the fourth part yet). 

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 (I'll update with links to 3 and 4 when I have them, but I suspect they'll appear on the home page at some point). And please donate what you can to help them counter these lies. If you care about your future, your children's future, your grandchildren's future — this battle is very, very important.

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Making felons out of bloggers

Posted by Richard on June 3, 2011

Copyright law in this country is already pretty screwed up, and it's obvious that the entertainment industry has Washington wrapped around its little finger. But who would have thought that a bill like S.978 would be given serious consideration?

From time to time, I embed YouTube videos in my posts. As Mike Masnick noted, doing so if this poorly drafted bill passes could get me five years in the slammer:

If you embed a YouTube video that turns out to be infringing, and more than 10 people view it because of your link… you could be facing five years in jail. This is, of course, ridiculous, and suggests (yet again) politicians who are regulating a technology they simply do not understand.

This is so wrong in so many ways. First of all, as Masnick pointed out, the drafters seem to know little or nothing about such things as streaming, linking, and embedding, and they throw in an undefined phrase like "performing by electronic means" without a clue as to what the consequences are.

Secondly, what happened to fair use? When I embed a video on this blog, I don't charge people to watch or listen. How is what I'm doing any different from inviting some people over to my house and playing the same song or video? Or will that soon be a crime, too?

Thirdly, even if this is legitimately a copyright infringement, how in the world does it rise to the level of a felony with punishment comparable to burglary or bank robbery? Why isn't it simply a civil matter?

And furthermore, there's the issue of mens rea. It used to be a well-established (hundreds of years of common law precedent) principle of the law that, to be guilty of a criminal act, you have to have criminal intent. 

The critics of mens rea often pompously declare that "ignorance of the law is no excuse." Nonsense. With laws and regulations with the force of law now running into the millions of pages, how can anyone not be ignorant of the law (or at least a large portion of it)?

The "reasonable person" test should apply. If a video is posted on YouTube and hasn't been taken down at the request of the copyright holder, a reasonable person (like me) can reasonably presume that either it's not subject to copyright or the copyright holder has chosen to allow its dissemination.

S.978 deserves to die an ignominious death. Contact your senators and let them know what you think of this ridiculous bill. 

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