Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Quick Hits - January 18, 2012 - UPDATED

Today, dozens of web sites are 'going dark' to protest two major efforts in Congress, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), that seek to place severe restrictions on ISP's and content providers in an attempt to stop ISP's and websites outside the United States from illegally providing copyrighted materials.

Intellectual property is fundamentally no different than physical property.  Both forms of property have rights that need to be protected.  Copyright also requires protection - for a period of time - but as Lawhawk states very well in his blog, A Blog For All...
Copyright doesn't mean gaining profits in perpetuity. The public benefits from having works of art revert to the public domain after time. Having works revert to the public domain forces creators to, well, create new products. After all, Disney got to profit from public domain use of various fairy tales, and so too can other entities as the Disney copyrights expire.
Defining a set time for copyright protections is a legitimate level of protection. So in the main point, Congress is asking the right questions about the importance to protect intellectual property rights and copyrights during a reasonable timeframe of protection from unauthorized use or exploitation - aka piracy. The problem is, SOPA and PIPA are the wrong answers to the right question. They will not work and swing the pendulum far to far to the other side from where it is today where piracy is a real problem.

Congress needs to go back to the drawing board and work to ensure that their solutions to the problem are not worse than the problem.

Italian rescue divers have once again suspended their searches for the 28 passengers and crew still missing in the sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise liner as the ship has shifted once again in heavy seas.  11 are confirmed dead.  Time is working against these missing souls - and more information is coming out on the reprehensible actions of the ship's captain (who tripped and fell into a lifeboat? - WTF!) and incompetence of the ship's crew to effectively manage an evacuation of the vessel.  One can only be thankful that this happened less than 300 meters from shore.  Were this a major emergency well out to sea, the death toll would be far greater.

In the Euro zone, the number of crisis continue to increase, as does the irresponsible rhetoric.  The latest EU confrontation is with the nation of Hungary....
The European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, on Tuesday sent three “Letters of Formal Notice” to Hungary, thereby launching “infringement proceedings” against three laws that took effect on January 1 allegedly violating EU treaties. The three laws allegedly reduce the independence of Hungary’s central bank, discriminate against judges, and violate requirements to protect citizens’ personal information online. EU President José Manuel Barroso said: “Hungary, like all Member States, is obliged by the EU Treaties to guarantee the independence of its National Central Bank and its Data Protection Authority and the non discrimination of its judges. The Commission is determined to take any legal steps necessary to ensure that the compatibility with European Union legislation is maintained.”
Until this is resolved, the EU is also refusing to take any actions to address Hungary's fiscal challenges. 

The downgrade of Portugal's national credit-rating to 'junk' status now moves the country into default territory.  While reports are that a tentative agreement has been reached between Greece and private investors on some of the outstanding Greek debt where the investors would be paid 32 cents on the Euro for that debt, Greece remains unable to fund the nearly 15 billion Euro debt payment due on March 20.

A German Euro deputy flatly says that the downgrades assigned across the EuroZone on Friday the 13th are part of an American 'War against the Euro'.  Clueless rhetoric aside - none of this is addressing the fundamental problems that created the crisis or tries to solve these problems.  Rhetorical misdirection is all part and parcel of trying to kick the can down the road while denying that the reason everything is broken is because of a flawed ideological architecture and approach.

A British High Court judge has ruled that Occupy London demonstrators must leave the encampment they've had for the last 3 months outside St. Paul's Cathedral.  British authorities sought a court order to force the eviction of the Occupy pinheads prior to a policy action to remove them from the plaza.  Occupy London is now asking for permission to appeal the ruling and requesting that the City stays any enforcement of the eviction order for one week.  Occupy also is said to be taking stock of it's members as to how they will respond to any effort to enforce the eviction order - will they use violence?

Yesterday was supposed to be the 'Day of Action' called 'Occupy Congress' where at least 10,000 Occupy protesters were expected in Washington DC to protest the actions of Congress.  The effort termed out to be a complete 'fizzle' as only a few hundred demonstrators appeared to protest Congress.  What didn't fizzle was the lack of peaceful intent - as someone in this group caused a major security alert and lockdown at the White House when they tossed a smoke bomb onto the White House grounds.  Revolution...

Wisconsin Union and Democratic Party operatives turned in recall petitions with what they claim are more than 1 million signatures to force a recall election for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and several other leading Republicans over their efforts and support for enacting legislation to limit the power and influence of public sector unions in Wisconsin.

If a recall election is scheduled, one of the decision points beyond partisanship will be the fact that many cities, towns, and school districts that were formerly in fiscal crisis are now looking at surpluses or balanced budgets because of the reforms enacted by Governor Walker.

In the first Rasmussen national poll for the GOP Presidential Primary candidates since Monday's GOP South Carolina Primary debate, Newt Gingrich has received a major bounce.  Mitt Romney gained one point to 30% while Gingrich closed to trailing by just 3 points at 27%.  Rick Santorum has faded to 3rd place with 15%, and Ron Paul is polling at 13%.  Rick Perry is in last place with only 4% support.

Newt Gingrich is asking that Rick Santorum and Rick Perry drop out of the Primary Race so that conservatives can unite behind his candidacy and oppose the 'moderate' Mitt Romney - saying a vote for Santorum and Perry is a vote for Romney.

Gingrich is getting a big bounce from his debate performance, but he still has the fundamental challenges that still need to be vetted on a larger scale by the Republican Party primary voters - as does Romney and Santorum.  Just as he became arrogant and cocky becoming the frontrunner a couple of weeks prior to the Iowa caucuses, is Gingrich returning to 'form' now?  He's now saying that he's the only one who can beat President Obama - even though there are no polls of this match-up that support this claim.  Is the best message from Newt outside the debate going to be 'Elect me because the guy I can't beat can't beat Obama?'

Is this the new pattern for Gingrich - a surge in the polls immediately after a debate followed by a drop in the polls as his message outside of the debates turn off the electorate?

Much is being made of Gingrich's standing ovation and smack-down of race card playing Fox News moderator Juan Williams at Monday's debate.  However, another meme is also taking hold - and being fiercely attacked by the Obama Administration- the claim that Obama is the 'Food Stamp President'.  As Powerline notes - facts are inconvenient things...demonstrating how those collecting food stamps have exploded under President Obama...

President Obama's and his Administration's callous and reprehensible use of the race card is not only making race a major issue for this election, but has significantly damaged race relations in the United States - reversing nearly 50 years of progress.
This is going to be an ugly campaign. The Obama team will revert to race unceasingly, in cry-wolf fashion, and thus cheapen the currency with every charge. In turn, the more we will hear allegations of “racism,” the less people will pay attention to them. And so all the more frequently will such discounted slurs have to be repeated — sort of like pushing about wheelbarrows of Depression-era inflated German marks to purchase ever fewer commodities.

There will be many legacies of Barack Obama. Racial divisiveness is proving the most disturbing.
The President's Job Council has endorsed and recommended a wide range of economic pro-growth proposals that include building the Keystone XL pipeline (which the President is said to be rejecting today) and expanding oil drilling and natural gas production inside the United States.  Ironically, these are steps that the GOP majority in the House of Representatives have already taken to address, passing a number of bills promoting these these pro-growth and pro-jobs initiatives. What's not being said, often enough, is that these efforts are being ignored by the Harry Reid Senate - which has these bills sitting unaddressed and unscheduled for any review.

This will be an interesting election issue for the President.  Does he follow the recommendations of his Jobs Council and repudiate his policies, agenda, and progressive base or does he stay focused on his past policies, his anti-business agenda, and embrace his hard left progressive base risking the fallout of continued poor job and economic results?

UPDATE - With the President, via his State Department, announcing that the Keystone XL pipeline will not be built (but he will allow a new application with a new route that will have to undergo a new round of environmental reviews), the above question has been answered.  He will put his personal politics / appeasing his progressive base and the shared anti-business anti-American agenda ahead of what's best for the United States.  Does it really matter if the reasons why the President does things like this are based on incompetence or hatred? 

I suspect [Edited with Update] It is painfully clear that the President will continue to treble down on his anti-business agenda and follow the demands of his hard left progressive base.  That is who he is at core.  He's going to bet that his base will turn out at or above 2008 levels, that the media will continue to carry his water, and that the middle American will not be motivated sufficiently to overcome his base, see the hypocrisy of the left, or act against his policies to destroy America in order to 'save' it.

Speaking of hypocrisy and a very ugly campaign season, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is already telegraphing the main approach the progressives have for 2012 given their fear that 2010 was not an outlier election...
If Reid is serious about working with Republicans and getting some constructive things done for America, the place to start is the federal budget. But nobody should hold their breath waiting for the Senate Majority Leader to think about anything but partisan politics this year. National Journal reports that Reid told a meeting of his Democratic colleagues earlier this week that "the party is positioned to dictate a congressional agenda designed to get most of its congressional members -- and President Obama -- re-elected. Working with the White House, Senate Democrats are plotting a 2012 floor agenda driven by Obama's re-election campaign and the fight for control of Congress. The year will see an intensified version of the course Democrats pursued this fall through votes on the president's jobs bill." In other words, while blasting Republican "obstructionism," Reid is plotting systematic obstructionism throughout the coming months. This is spelled h-y-p-o-c-r-i-s-y.

Which party puts party politics in front of the best interests of the American people?

Remember, with the Democrat Progressives - they do what they accuse their opposition of's how the justify their own failures.

On This Day in History

1778 - British explorer Captain James Cook discovers Hawaii

1803 - President Thomas Jefferson requests funding from Congress to finance the Lewis and Clark expedition

1912 - British explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott arrives at the South Pole only to find that Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian explorer, beat him to that prize by over a month.  Scott and his party perish on their trip back to their base after running into brutal weather and running out of provisions just 11 miles short of a supply cache.

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