Morning Reads for Wednesday, January 18th

January 18, 2012 6:12 am

by Jason · 14 comments

As you know, many influential websites are protesting two pieces of legislation, Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), currently in Congress. While its supporters say that legislation is needed to safeguard intellectual property rights and protect jobs, these bills would fundamentally change the Internet by censoring websites that purportedly enable copyright infringement or piracy. Such extreme action would not only come with obvious constitutional issues, but also discourage innovation in an increasingly important area of our economy.

If you haven’t already, please contact the members of Georgia’s congressional delegation today — specifically Rep. John Barrow and Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, who are supporting these bills in their respective chambers — and encourage them to vote against censorship of the Internet.

Here in Georgia…
– Gov. Nathan Deal, who defended his budget proposal in hearings yesterday, has launched a blog to track his agenda in the legislature.
– A Fulton County judge had ordered the City of Atlanta to turnover more documents relating to concession bids at Hartsfield.
– The Georgia chapter of Americans for Prosperity has laid out its legislative agenda for 2012.
– Tea party groups in Georgia are pushing for repeal of the law enabling the TSPLOST referendum.
– Hall County Commissioner Ashley Bell raised $40,000 in the last half of 2011, with nearly all of it coming from outside the county.
– The Savannah Morning News says it’s time reform Georgia’s asset forfeiture laws.
– Foreclosures in Georgia were down nearly 16% in 2011.
– While Republicans in the legislature are pushing constitutional carry, some Georgia Democrats want to require gun training via HB 735 for new concealed carry permits.

National stories of interest…
– Sarah Palin says she’d vote for Newt Gingrich.
– Thanks to tough economic times, Americans have raided their personal savings.
– Barack Obama’s new OMB worked at Bain Capital.
– The Heritage Foundation has released the 2012 Index of Economic Freedom, which shows the United States falling yet again.
– Roll Call has a look at retiring members of Congress.
– Heh. Here is Monday’s GOP debate in hand gestures.
– Rick Moranis (yes, that Rick Moranis) offers us a lesson in economics.

A few that I like…
– It looks like the iPad 3 is set for a March release.
– The Atlanta Falcons have hired a new defensive coordinator. They also picked up a new offensive coordinator a few days ago.
– Burger King is going to give home delivery a try.
– Need to get on Wikipedia today? Here’s how to get around their blackout.

ted in bed January 18, 2012 at 6:56 am

HB679 isn’t Constitutional Carry by any stretch of the definition. A better description is Pretend Unlicensed Carry because its not true Constitutional Carry and doesn’t totally eliminate the need for a License in Georgia. Its a political fundraising tool by Rep. Spencer.

If he was really serious about making a big change in Georgia’s gun laws, he would have submitted a bill to lower the Licensing age to 18.

benevolus January 18, 2012 at 7:15 am

There might be some useful data in that Heritage Foundation report, but here is how useless the overall ranking is: China, India, and France have higher growth rates than the US. So “economic freedom” doesn’t actually translate to economic strength.

http://www.tradingeconomics.com/gdp-growth-rates-list-by-country?c=major

DTK January 18, 2012 at 9:46 am

If I made $20k last year but make $40k this year, my income “growth rate” is astronomical compared to the guy whose income goes from $100k to $110k. But if I had a choice I’d rather be the latter guy not the former. You do see this, right?

benevolus January 18, 2012 at 11:16 am

OK, so what do you think the proper measure of a healthy economy is?
Heritage Foundation seems to think it is “Economic Freedom”. I think it is quality of life.

ted in bed January 18, 2012 at 7:26 am

As for HB735, I’d love to see how the Dems and anti-Liberty Republicans would justify the need for training with facts, not emotions. Georgians have been carrying guns for self-defense since the state has been founded. Some of the most cited pro-carry case law in the US is from Georgia from the early 1800’s. Has the lack of training meant that Georgian’s are more unsafe than a state like UT that requires training? (hint – its not by any measure)

The intent to add training to Georgia’s gun laws is clearly meant to stop the poor and minorities from getting licenses and make those licenses worth less. Training takes time and money, both of which poor people and many minorities don’t have have an excess of. Adding training in any form to our gun laws will mean our licenses won’t be valid in other states since we’ll lose reciprocity, which means licencees would need to get a non-resident license (more money)

Both bills are Fundraisers for their core constituencies and are un-serious. To people knowledgeable about Georgia’s guns laws, both are poorly written and thought out. Basically, dumb!

Rambler1414 January 18, 2012 at 7:40 am

has the Tea Party come up with a solution to Metro Atlanta’s traffic problems?

Or are they okay with living with status quo for the next 20 years? (Get used to competing with Alabama instead of Charlotte/Florida)

Engineer January 18, 2012 at 9:54 am

I agree with you Rambler, but not just on Metro Atlanta (They need to look at the transportation woes throughout the state), how about they come up with alternate solutions for this rather than blindly saying they are against it.

Honestly, I’ve had it with this supposed Tea Party. Back when it was a largely libertarian leaning group that was mostly concerned with fiscal issues with, I actually supported them and even went to a few events, but now it is little more than a shell of itself. Unfortunately, this is but more proof that the GA Tea Party are against individual freedoms. Wanting to take away somebody’s right to vote of all things. Who knows, the people might vote against T-SPLOST, but it seems the GA Tea Party would rather not risk it. Perhaps the motto of the GA Tea Party should be, democracy is a only good thing when it works in your favor.

saltycracker January 18, 2012 at 8:09 am

Foreclosures are down as the banks are not taking action. An interesting stat might be the banks non-performing assets.
Article sez:

Foreclosures were in full delay mode in 2011, resulting in a dramatic drop in foreclosure activity,” Moore said in a statement.

Some people have stayed in their houses after foreclosures because lenders have been so swamped and haven’t taken action, he added. “It’s just a great big mess out there.”

Folks are getting pretty good at gaming the system from jobs off the radar to receiving government largess.

Maybe govt could do better getting out of the way rather than “investing” and “owning” use regulation to open competition and keep others off each other.

I Miss the 90s January 18, 2012 at 9:10 am

Well, since Jason really just wants to pick on John Barrow, please do not forget to contact your Congressperson regardless of their party affiliation. The rest of GA’s delegation is sitting on the fence with SOPA, but there are reasonable proxies that one may use to guess how other members will vote:

-Tom Price has received $197,081 from pro-SOPA groups and only about $20k from anti-SOPA groups.
-Phil Gingrey has received over $200k from pro-SOPA groups and less than $4k from anti-SOPA groups.
-Jack Kingston has received $110k from pro-SOPA groups and about $10k from anti-SOPA groups.
-Paul Broun has received $159k from pro-SOPA groups and less than $1k from anti-SOPA groups.
-Rob Woodall has received only about $60k from pro-SOPA groups and just under $2k from anti-SOPA groups.
-Tom Graves has received $128,625 from pro-SOPA groups and$14k from anti-SOPA groups.
-Lynn Westmoreland has received about $70k from pro-SOPA groups and $3500 from anti-SOPA groups.

I will add that every member of the GA delegation has received more PAC money from pro-SOPA groups than from ant-SOPA groups. This is not an entirely reliable proxy as the high-tech industry has yet to really get involved in professional politicking.

I bring the dollar amounts up for one reason, your vote is worth infinitesimally less than those contributions and none of you are wealthy enough unseat any of these congressmen.

On a side note, this is an opportunity for some ideologically disparate groups to come together to work for a common cause. Too often we get caught up with our emotions regarding sensitive issues. The Tea Parties incorrectly label the Occupy movement as communist and marxist (it is more social capitalist than anything else) and the Occupy movement often incorrectly labels the Tea Party as a bunch of Nazi racists (it is more nationalist than national socialist and most Tea Partiers are not overtly racist…but many are symbolically racist). I can see enough of the Tea Party being opposed to SOPA and PIPA to effectively team up with the Occupy movement (which is entirely against SOPA and PIPA).

So…what next? Should the grassroots groups come together for the sake of truly democratic action or do we sit by the wayside, blogging, and allow the monied interests to once again show that what was a democratic republic has transformed into an aristocratic republic?

Jason January 18, 2012 at 11:49 am

Rep. Barrow gets called out by virtue of the fact that he is a co-sponsor of SOPA. No one else from Georgia is and we don’t really know where they stand, which is why I told readers to call their representative to ask that they oppose.

dsean January 18, 2012 at 9:52 am

As for wikipedia, if you run the noscript extension in FireFox, you won’t get blacked out if you block the wikimedia.org script.

Engineer January 18, 2012 at 9:55 am

Or for those too lazy for that, you can just use the mobile version.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/

Charlie January 18, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Westmoreland on SOPA and PIPA:

SOPA and PIPA: The Unintended Consequences
By Rep. Lynn Westmoreland

Washington, Jan 18 –

Today, you will see an interruption of service on many websites around the internet, including Wikipedia, and other forms of protest against two pieces of legislation currently before Congress, H.R. 3261 the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and S. 968 the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property (PROTECT IP Act or PIPA). SOPA is currently under consideration by the House Judiciary Committee and PIPA is currently scheduled for a vote on the Senate floor January 24, 2012, although there have been calls by many senators to postpone that vote.

While there is some difference between the two bills, in essence they are both aimed at combating online piracy committed by foreign websites. Currently, the United States has the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act to enforce copyright rules against U.S. companies, but is more limited in going after foreign companies. According to some estimates, online piracy can cost the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and can result in job loss. Because the United States’ economic strength is dependent on its citizen’s ability to create, innovate, and become entrepreneurs in various industries, these issues are of vital concern to me.

However, these two bills would give the U.S. Attorney General unprecedented authority to seek out court orders against foreign internet sites that have been accused of copyright infringement. This includes websites that host user-submitted content, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. These, and any other websites that allow comments, would now be responsible for screening any and all user activity for potential infringement. According to Google’s public policy director Bob Boorstin, “YouTube would just go dark immediately. It couldn’t function.” (Google is the parent company of YouTube),

In addition to the costs of content screening, online search engines will be forced to remove the accused website from displayed search results, online advertising companies will be forced to break contracts with accused hosts, and online payment processors will be forbidden from engaging in any further transactions with the accused host. This is all carried out without any of the due process offered in present copyright infringement cases.

It is important to make sure we are protecting consumers from fraudulent or counterfeited goods, but there is a fine line we must walk between offering protection and creating such stringent regulations that we end up hampering innovation and creativity. Unfortunately, I think both of these bills are too broadly written without regard for the unintended consequences and therefore cross that line.

Charlie January 18, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Broun on SOPA:

(Washington, D.C.) Congressman Paul Broun, M.D. (GA-10) today released the following statement in opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA):

“The uncertainty created by the flaws in SOPA will hurt innovation and kill jobs at a time when we strongly need new, creative startups,” said Broun. “As proposed, SOPA has the potential to cause security threats and the bill is too vague to effectively combat piracy. “I will continue to work to find ways that protect both intellectual and physical property rights, but not at the price of free speech and one of our greatest sources of growth and innovation: free internet.”

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