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Cash greases the wheels on the hill

Washington, D.C. was alive yesterday with the squeak of lobbyist cash lubricating Congress to thrust a controversial new law on the American public.  The new bill is on the surface similar to big media's Orwellian SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) (H.R. 3261).  But while a merry brand of citizen activism struck down SOPA and its Senate equivalent -- the "PROTECT IP Act" (PIPA) (S.968) -- in the eleventh hour, this time around there were no massive protests to derail the bill.

I. Cash Pushes CISPA Through

The last time around sponsors like Viacom, Inc. (VIA), Time Warner, Inc. (TWX), and Sony Corp.'s (TYO:6758) movie and music subsidiaries paid a whopping $86M USD (source: Maplight) to active Senators alone over the last six-year cycle, only to see their carefully laid plans dashed when the PROTECT IP Act.

With the defeat of PIPA, big media moved on, partnering with internet service providers to police file sharers via "six strikes" systems.  

But a new coalition of special interests, which include America's two largest cellular service providers AT&T, Inc. (T) and Verizon Wireless -- jointly owned by Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc. (LON:VOD) -- as well as two of the nation's largest software firms Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Intel Corp. (INTC), came together to create a similar data grab bill (Microsoft has since renounced its support).  Security firms like Symantec Corp. (SYMC) also backed the bill.

That bill -- the "Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act" (CISPA) (H.R. 3523) -- passed the house by a healthy 288-to-127 margin.
CISPA passage
CISPA passed by a healthy margin (Yeas are dark). [Image Source: GovTrack]

Pushing the bill through was $84M USD in funding from special interest backers (source: Maplight).  With the average cost of a House seat running at a cool $1.44M USD in 2010 (source: OpenSecrets), that represents nearly 13 percent of the total cost of election for the 435 members of Congress.

Bribe under table
CISPA was backed by nearly as much lobbyist cash as SOPA. [Image Source: i-Sight]
 
Perhaps that’s why 92 members of the Democratic minority joined with 196 members of the Republican majority in passing the measure, despite opposition from President Obama (D).

II. Supporters Defend "Voluntary" Warrantless Sharing

The bill in essence will create an open door that allows corporations to voluntarily share citizens’ records with the government without the government issuing warrants.  Some companies find that appealing for a variety of reasons.  First, some may be hoping to snag lucrative contracts to handle that data.  Second, some may view it as protection against large-scale threats like Chinese hackers.  Third, some feel that its language protects them from financial fallout of citizen lawsuits.  

Corporate backers also appreciate that the government isn't trying to force them to share information on threats -- that was a major bone of contention about SOPA.

Sponsor Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) has long said the purpose of CISPA is to protect vital parts of America's connected infrastructure -- like utilities or cellular systems -- from attack from China, Iran, and other hostile foreign internet powers.
In a document "CISPA: Myth v. Fact" [PDF], Rep. Rogers and the bill's other backers defend it, pointing out that the bill limits when the government can collect data -- namely, in response to "cybersecurity threats", to assist in the investigation of violent crimes, or to counter child exploitation.

Rep. Rogers may have a bit of vested interest -- his wife Kristi Clemens Rogers is CEO of Aegis LLC a "security" defense contractor company, who could score lucrative contracts to provide cybersecurity "solutions" to the government under CISPA.  Her company already has a $10B USD contract with the U.S. Department of State.

III. Innocent Bystanders Could be Exposed

To be fair, he's right.  Versus SOPA, the language regarding privacy is seemingly much stronger and the scope of warrantless information passing is seemingly much narrower.  But some argue that even cracking open the door of warrantless surveillance may lead to problems.

That's the position of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).  The ACLU writes:

[CISPA] would threaten Americans' privacy while immunizing companies from any liability should that cyberinformation-sharing cause harm.

One scenario that the bill could lead to trouble is if a public/shared connection or an infected citizen computer is used in an attack.  Under such circumstances, innocent bystanders could have their email or browsing history seized despite not personally committing the crime under investigation.

Search on Google
If a shared connection at a coffee shop is used in an attack, your records could be seized.
[Image Source: Google Images/Unknown]

On Monday Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) slammed the bill, reiterating previous criticism.  In a post he says CISPA represents "the new SOPA", "the latest assault on internet freedom", an "alarming form of corporatism," and a "Big Brother writ large."  

Ron Paul
Rep. Ron Paul blasted CISPA on Monday.  [Image Source: AP]

Rep. Paul did manage to amend the bill to protect firearms and library records from warrantless surveillance.  Rep. Paul abstained from the final vote on the bill, which saw only one of his suggested three amendments made.

IV. Obama Threatens to Veto Bill

The bill now goes on to the Senate.

President Obama (D) has for a second time threatened to veto [PDF] the bill, should it pass the Senate.  On the surface the stand is somewhat puzzling -- the President supported a similar Senate bill (S.2105 [PDF]).  The President has even pushed through measures similar to the bill's language with executive orders.

President Obama
President Obama has threatened to veto the bill. [Image Source: AFP/Getty Images]

One bone of contention appears to be "data cleansing" -- removing information irrelevant to an investigation before passing it to the government.  Writes his office:

…the bill does not require private entities to take reasonable steps to remove irrelevant personal information when sending cybersecurity data to the government or other private sector entities. Citizens have a right to know that corporations will be held accountable…for failing to safeguard personal information adequately.

Furthermore, CISPA allows information on internal (domestic) threats to be passed to military and intelligence organizations primarily tasked with the defense of the U.S. against foreign threats, including the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).  President Obama preferred the information to solely be controlled by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a domestic security agency.

His office complains:

The Administration supports the longstanding tradition to treat the Internet and cyberspace as civilian spheres…[and] newly authorized information sharing for cybersecurity purposes from the private sector to the government should enter the government through a civilian agency.

Of course the President's DoD appointees recently declared that internet attacks from foreign powers could be construed as an act of war, so this statement is somewhat inconsistent.

Nonetheless, under the threat of veto don't expect the Democratic-controlled Senate to be too eager to quickly take up the issue.  That means that for now only similar executive orders from President Obama will be in place.

Source: House of Representatives



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Natural persons
By WinstonSmith on 4/19/2013 10:43:02 AM , Rating: 5
"Lobbying is defended as 'a way to allow large groups of people to voice their opinion to Congress, as to how they'd like their politicians to vote.'"

With the fallacy being that a corporation is a person. This needs to be fixed with a simple Amendment that compensates for what should have been explicitly stated in the Constitution before: "all references to people, persons, individuals... in this document refer to natural persons ." Corporations are artificial persons.




RE: Natural persons
By ebakke on 4/19/13, Rating: 0
RE: Natural persons
By drlumen on 4/19/2013 12:06:38 PM , Rating: 5
The lobbyists do not represent all the people that work for that corporation. I'm sure there are people that are supposedly represented by this lobby that do no agree with the bill. Look at the massive outpouring of people against SOPA. Technically, I'm sure some of those were under the lobbyists umbrella.

So, in essence, you have a very small group of people that pay the lobbyist and give conditional contributions to the politicians thereby swaying the laws for everyone.

Lobbying and campaign contributions should be outlawed.


RE: Natural persons
By ebakke on 4/19/13, Rating: -1
RE: Natural persons
By drlumen on 4/19/2013 4:20:20 PM , Rating: 2
The owners are a small group of people. Even with public corporations the masses of shareholders are not polled on their viewpoint. The board of directors (BOD), at most, is responsible for hiring lobbyists. For example, a lobbying group representing RIAA, the most would be the BOD for 8(?) companies. So you have ~80 people paying for policy that affect millions of people. How is that fair?

I agree that this law is stupid but given your statement, who would be responsible for determining which laws are stupid? Do you not think that a lobbying group could throw a few millions at the same politicians to get a bill deemed not stupid? So, in this instance, your argument makes no sense.

As to making contributions and lobbying illegal, if there were enough regulations and investigations into the candidates finances then graft could not move more to the shadows - as if it were not already...


RE: Natural persons
By ebakke on 4/20/2013 1:49:56 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Even with public corporations the masses of shareholders are not polled on their viewpoint.
Of course they aren't. Corporations aren't run by majority vote. That'd be amazingly inefficient. The shareholders choose a group of people to run the company on their behalf. And if you don't like where things are going, you vote for something different or you sell your stake.

quote:
So you have ~80 people paying for policy that affect millions of people. How is that fair?
What? It's not the Board's money. It's the shareholder's money. And I assure you there are more than 80 people who own the companies that make up the RIAA. But even if it were 1, so what? If one guy had 80 kajillion dollars and could pay for the campaigns of every official, I contend that's fine so long as you and I know that we're voting for One Guy's proxy and not an independent thinker.
quote:
I agree that this law is stupid but given your statement, who would be responsible for determining which laws are stupid? Do you not think that a lobbying group could throw a few millions at the same politicians to get a bill deemed not stupid?
My argument is that we need a small, limited federal government that follows the enumerated powers listed in the Constitution. Said differently: "the general welfare clause doesn't mean the feds get to do whatever they want". If Congress can't pass laws that violate this contraint (and if they do, they're struck down by the Supreme Court) then lobbying ceases to be useful for anyone. Why would I spend $1M trying to get Sen Fartsalot elected if all that'll get me is a chance to tell him to ratify/nullify a treaty once a generation? I wouldn't.
quote:
As to making contributions and lobbying illegal, if there were enough regulations and investigations into the candidates finances then graft could not move more to the shadows - as if it were not already...
See, you don't even believe that yourself. We already have rules and they're already skirted. As long as the enormous carrot is left dangling, someone will be willing to pay enormous sums of money to eat it. And even more to keep it kept quiet.


RE: Natural persons
By maugrimtr on 4/22/2013 8:56:49 AM , Rating: 1
It would be easier and fairer (and therefore will never happen) to target the cash. Limit all campaign contribution from individuals to a maximum of say $5000 per person per candidate. The corporations, since they are legally people apparently, must obey the same "potentially affordable" limit as every other US citizen.

Any group of citizens can now outspend a corporation without requiring significant organization or even overwhelming numbers.

This will NEVER happen. Politicians would have far less campaign funds. D.O.A.


RE: Natural persons
By ebakke on 4/22/2013 11:16:14 AM , Rating: 3
It'll never happen, eh? Odd... since it's pretty damn close to that right now: http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/contriblimits.s...

And then after that: we should also limit individuals to 5000 words spoken or written, in favor or in opposition, to a candidate in any given election. And you may only attend 5 rallies in an election cycle. And you are only allowed to consume 5 gallons of gas, per person, per election to get to the polling place. EQUALITY!!


RE: Natural persons
By kyuuketsuki on 4/19/2013 4:32:26 PM , Rating: 5
So... you want Congress, the branch of the government responsible for making laws, to be unable to make laws? What?

The only possible methods of keeping Congress from making "stupid" laws are already in effect: first, the voting process whereby elected representatives decide which laws should effected and which shouldn't. Second, the Constitution stipulates the rights people have which legislation is not supposed to encroach upon. Obviously, Congress can ignore the Constitution, but then Supreme Court is supposed to invalidate such laws. Third, the head of the executive branch (the President) can veto bills. This is the whole checks and balances thing. Did you sleep through your elementary school government classes?

What other mechanism can there be to decide which laws are "stupid" and automatically get tossed? Elect a supreme chancellor who has absolute authority to make and strike out laws? What is your idea? I'm honestly curious.

Corporations should not be treated as people, and neither corporations nor private citizens should not be able to use financial incetives to influence law-making. It's such a blatant form of corruption and so obviously contradicts the notion of a government *for the people* that it boggles my mind that people can defend it with a straight face.


RE: Natural persons
By kyuuketsuki on 4/19/2013 4:35:15 PM , Rating: 2
D'oh... that was supposed to be, "[...] and neither corporations nor private citizens should be able to[...]".


RE: Natural persons
By ebakke on 4/20/2013 1:34:15 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
So... you want Congress, the branch of the government responsible for making laws, to be unable to make laws?
Now, I didn't say that, did I? I didn't say Congress should be unable to make laws. I said the government shouldn't have the power to make stupid laws like this. Admittedly, I wasn't clear in my implication that I was referring to the federal government. And sure, I didn't go into detail about what I meant by "stupid". I've made this argument about 239431245.91 times on these pages, and I didn't have time to rehash it when I posted.

In short, your civic lesson's spot on...(well, minus the condescension) except no one cares that the size, scope, reach, influence, cost, etc of the federal government only grows. Sure, Congress shouldn't create laws for issues outside of the enumerated powers, but they do. And sure, the presidents should veto those laws, but they don't. And sure, the Supreme Court should invalidate them, but it doesn't. So the ultimate check lies within us, the people. But we (on the whole) don't care.

What I'm saying is if we go back to the original intent -- A very limited government that leaves us alone -- then lobbying isn't a problem. And as long as you give a group of people enormous amounts of power, someone will try to use it to their advantage. No amount of banning will change that.
quote:
[...] and neither corporations nor private citizens should not be able to use financial incetives to influence law-making. It's such a blatant form of corruption and so obviously contradicts the notion of a government *for the people* that it boggles my mind that people can defend it with a straight face.
So I shouldn't be able to spend money buying flyers and mailing them to my neighbors, asking them to vote for Billy Bob. Or spending money on gas/food to drive throughout my town and knock on doors, asking my neighbors to call Billy Bob and ask him to vote against SOPA? What about simply using a phone I paid for to call Billy Bob's office directly and tell him I'm concerned about the mating habits of snails in my district? The problem with "you can't lobby!" and "no private campaign contributions!" is that after about 4 seconds, you get actually have to figure out how to implement it. And I've yet to see a solution that either a) isn't a total cluster-$*!# of cherry-picked situations where X person can do something, but Y group can't, or b) doesn't trample on the rights of individuals to share their beliefs (even if doing so costs money).


RE: Natural persons
By Reclaimer77 on 4/21/2013 8:36:41 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
So... you want Congress, the branch of the government responsible for making laws, to be unable to make laws? What?


Are you an idiot?

He's fine with Congress making laws. So am I. The problem is, for a long time now, Congress has elevated their power far beyond their Constitutional mandates. Most all laws Congress pass are, quite literally, Unconstitutional.

quote:
The only possible methods of keeping Congress from making "stupid" laws are already in effect:


Ouch! Sorry, reading that made me fall out of my chair.

quote:
Second, the Constitution stipulates the rights people have which legislation is not supposed to encroach upon.


But they DO anyway, on a daily basis.

quote:
Corporations should not be treated as people


And they're not. Corporate Personhood is very narrow in it's legal description. It's also been upheld in every court for over 100 years.

It's basically a necessary evil to get around certain issues that arose if Corporations were not entitled to some of the same rights as others.

Also we're granted the right of free assembly and association under the First Amendment. Like it or not, a Corporation is a voluntary grouping of peoples who have chosen to enter into association willingly. Under the Constitution which you claim to know of so well, this group must be granted the same basic freedom's as you or I.

THIS is why the Citizens United decision went the way it did. It's clearly written in the First Amendment that Congress "shall not" infringe on political speech. Not just speech from you or I, but ALL forms of it. Including that of corporations, which are nothing if not the willful association of peoples.

quote:
It's such a blatant form of corruption and so obviously contradicts the notion of a government *for the people* that it boggles my mind that people can defend it with a straight face.


I'm not defending anything, I'm just explaining that you're flat out wrong. And quite melodramatic too.


RE: Natural persons
By Mint on 4/20/2013 11:33:01 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Of course they don't. They represent the owners.
If the owners want to make a contribution to a political cause, they should take it out of their own salaries. If they need a bigger salary to do this, then they should give themselves a raise and see if the shareholders are happy about that.


RE: Natural persons
By ebakke on 4/21/2013 2:24:07 AM , Rating: 2
Your comment doesn't make any sense. Owners are shareholders. Shareholders are owners. Employees might be shareholders/owners, but they certainly aren't required to be. I own partial stakes in many companies, but I'm not employees of any of them and as such I can't give myself a raise.


RE: Natural persons
By Mint on 4/24/2013 7:55:48 AM , Rating: 2
I admit I wasn't clear, but I was talking specifically about the owners who are in control of distributing company income. They aren't necessarily majority shareholders, which is why I made the comment. If they always were, you could argue that my point is just an accounting annoyance (profits -> personal income -> lobbying, instead of skipping the middle step), which is why I mentioned it.

But the point is that lobbying should be done by the owners/shareholders themselves if they have interest in any particular cause. No need for it to be done by companies that represent owners.


RE: Natural persons
By Reclaimer77 on 4/20/13, Rating: 0
RE: Natural persons
By ebakke on 4/21/2013 2:25:35 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
You're a fool if you believe that would ever change anything, though.
^-- That.


RE: Natural persons
By Shadowself on 4/19/2013 2:56:45 PM , Rating: 2
Not practiced at the "C" level position level much?

Corporations are absolutely treated similarly to human persons in most legal situations. A corporation (and that includes entities such as LLCs, and such) is treated as an entity in and of itself, independent of the officers and directors. Just check out the laws of Delaware for the clearest example of this (most other states are similar, but the differences between the corporation and the persons running it are not quite as clear elsewhere as they are in Delaware).


RE: Natural persons
By MadMan007 on 4/19/2013 10:12:52 PM , Rating: 2
He knows about corporate personhood but doesn't agree with it at first, then tries to justify it anyway because Soylent Corporations - they're made of people.

Corporate personhood is stupid.


RE: Natural persons
By tfk11 on 4/20/2013 2:29:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
But it's owned by and run by people. And those people have every right to voice their opinions just as much as you or I do.


My car is also owned and run by people, me and my mechanic. By your logic my car has the right to voice any opinions that it may have just as much as anyone else.

In my cars opinion you have an excellent point but those of us who are capable of independently forming an opinion think your wrong.


RE: Natural persons
By ebakke on 4/21/2013 2:37:49 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
By your logic my car has the right to voice any opinions that it may have just as much as anyone else.
My logic says nothing of the sort.

You own your car. It isn't run by your mechanic. It's run by physics, and you operate it from time to time. You have the right to voice your opinions on any issues that relate to your car. If your state is trying to pass a mandatory seat belt law, you have the right to argue for/against it. If your state is trying to pass a mandatory emission inspection law, you have the right to argue for/against it. So does everyone else in that state. And to be clear, by "argue" I absolutely mean both activities that are free (calling your reps, talking to your friends/family) and those that aren't (donating money to an advocacy group of your choosing, mailing fliers to your neighborhood, etc).

It makes no sense whatsoever to say you can't advocate for your beliefs because you happen to own a car. Or that you, your wife, your kid, and your brother can't advocate for your beliefs because you all collectively own a car.

(To be fair, this example is a bit contrived... but then again, it was your example, not mine. Cars aren't artificial legal constructs; they're physical goods.)


RE: Natural persons
By phxfreddy on 4/21/2013 2:50:25 PM , Rating: 1
If you truly believe a corporation is not a person ......then be consistent and insist they not be taxed.

Only a person should be taxed via income. If a corporation is taxed then the shareholders get less because of double taxation.


RE: Natural persons
By JPForums on 4/22/2013 9:57:45 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If a corporation is taxed then the shareholders get less because of double taxation.
Is there supposed to be a point in there somewhere. Putting aside whether I agree or disagree with concept or level of taxation on corporations or a corporation's definition of existence, the issue you raise doesn't really stand out. Most of the American populace is hit with an abundance of taxes: Income, property, sales, etc. In addition to their income taxes, property owners have to pay property taxes while those that don't own property don't. If I understand your statement, this is effectively the same situation you argue against with the idea of shareholders being taxed again. One could make the argument that ownership of a corporations is ownership of property and therefore such a corporate tax would be logical extension of property taxes. Of course, then they'd have to justify the concept and level of taxation on said property. In any case, the situation you describe is not unprecedented.


Another example...
By Motoman on 4/19/2013 10:15:55 AM , Rating: 5
...of why lobbying should be illegal.

There is never any justification for allowing any kind of surveillance without a warrant. Nope. GTFO.

I would certainly hope Obama would veto this if it got to his desk. Whether or not he was in favor of SOPA/PIPA the first time.




RE: Another example...
By marvdmartian on 4/19/2013 10:27:51 AM , Rating: 3
Lobbying is defended as "a way to allow large groups of people to voice their opinion to Congress, as to how they'd like their politicians to vote".

Gee, and that's what I thought ELECTIONS were for!!


RE: Another example...
By BRB29 on 4/19/2013 10:40:50 AM , Rating: 2
elections are for voting for officials. Lobbying is for influencing how the elected officials vote.


RE: Another example...
By StevoLincolnite on 4/19/2013 10:31:15 AM , Rating: 5
Can we have Ron Paul? They guy has a few strange ideas, but at-least he stands up for the peoples rights and uses common sense, surprised he isn't in power.


RE: Another example...
By corduroygt on 4/19/2013 10:41:25 AM , Rating: 2
He's still probably reeling from the plunge in gold prices lol


RE: Another example...
By Runiteshark on 4/19/2013 12:07:26 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Another example...
By TSS on 4/19/2013 7:50:17 PM , Rating: 2
Contrary to what hollywood would like to have you belive, Crime pays. And it pays alot more then justice, too.

That's why he isn't and will never be in power.


RE: Another example...
By AntiM on 4/19/13, Rating: 0
RE: Another example...
By BRB29 on 4/19/2013 11:15:48 AM , Rating: 2
lol paranoid much?


RE: Another example...
By xti on 4/19/2013 11:37:39 AM , Rating: 2
MY PRECIOUS!


RE: Another example...
By ppardee on 4/19/13, Rating: 0
RE: Another example...
By ebakke on 4/19/2013 11:05:00 AM , Rating: 3
Lobbying isn't the problem. That lobbying can even get you bills like this, is the problem.

Restrict the power of the government, and lobbying goes away on its own.


RE: Another example...
By Uncle on 4/19/2013 1:47:07 PM , Rating: 3
As far as I know the Constitution and Bill of Rights was suppose to take care of that. Now America has a problem with the Justices of the Supreme Court pandering for retirement funds. What I fail to understand is, most people hear, read, and see the corruption on a daily basis, and it just continues, day after day. From Government to Wall street,to the State level. No one seems to be able to come up with a solution, other then to say "Well what can I do about it." Its like people have given up and decided that all their going to do is steal as much as they can get, while they have the chance.


RE: Another example...
By JPForums on 4/22/2013 10:41:23 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
No one seems to be able to come up with a solution, other then to say "Well what can I do about it."
It's not a full solution, but I'll throw in a couple of ideas that would help:

Limit the amount of time politicians can spend in federal office and completely remove any follow on benefits. If politicians have to live under the rules they create without exemptions (like the general populace), then they will be less likely to pass laws that obviously screw their constituents. It would not get rid of laws that they legitimately believe to be for the best, but they aren't going to pass a law that will obviously end up screwing themselves when they get out of office.

Make the majority of the public aware, in real time , of the full details of the proceedings and debates happening in the legislature and laws like this won't get passed before the general public even realizes it is in debate. The populace needs time to respond before such legislation is passed. Politicians will also be far less obvious about screwing the populace if they know their constituents are watching their every move.

America is a republic. That means the politicians are workers hired to represent the interests of the populace (boss) who do the hiring (electing). You'd never imagine a corporation anywhere in the world where a boss wasn't able to evaluate the employees work whenever he sees fit (particularly when the employee is suspected of failing his assigned duties). However, the lack of easy general access to a real-time or at least up to date record of the actions of the U.S. government has effectively removed the ability of the American populace to monitor or influence their "employee's" actions until the damage has been done.


RE: Another example...
By Uncle on 4/23/2013 12:10:51 AM , Rating: 2
Good examples. I still ask the question how do Americans get their elected officials to respond to your idea when it has to come up for a vote. If the majority of the elected vote against your change, no changes will happen. Any ideas?


RE: Another example...
By Reclaimer77 on 4/20/2013 7:54:17 PM , Rating: 2
Well lobbying of course is a big problem.

My problem with the knee-jerk "ban lobbying" crowd is that they apparently haven't thought it through. Because if you did so a few things would happen:

1) Since these people essentially operate above the law on a daily basis already, who's exactly going to enforce this new ban on lobbying and how?

2) Actual legitimate uses of lobbying for generally good causes would also be made illegal.

You absolutely nailed the real issue, and I've harped on it every time lobbying comes up. The real problem is the scale of the Federal Government and Congressional power is entirely out of whack. As more and more power is taken from the States and consolidated at the Federal level, you've dramatically increased the scale of lobbying.

More simply put, what at one point in the past would have taken the consent of 50 separate State legislatures or Governors, making new legislation more difficult, now only takes the consent of a single (or handful) Congressman that can be bought off or otherwise convinced to draft a bill.


RE: Another example...
By EricMartello on 4/20/2013 2:49:14 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
...of why lobbying should be illegal.

I agree that it should be illegal, but for that to happen the structure of our government would need to be changed on a fundamental level - namely, limiting the duration of terms ANY elected official can hold and also limiting consecutive terms.

quote:
There is never any justification for allowing any kind of surveillance without a warrant. Nope. GTFO.


That's just a byproduct of a big, bloated government...and with a bit of irony (although no surprise) the majority of the republicans voted for this. This highlights the aforementioned issue.


By tayb on 4/19/2013 11:14:09 AM , Rating: 2
Look at the amount of red. It's appalling. At least my representative in Congress (a Republican) voted the way he should have, NO. It is so pathetic to hear people talk about the rights of citizens and the rights of states and then go vote for this.

The U.S. political system is beyond repair.




By xti on 4/19/2013 11:39:01 AM , Rating: 1
according to the image, it only looks like republicans are beyond repair.


By KCjoker on 4/19/2013 5:58:53 PM , Rating: 3
LOL, you think Dems won't be influenced by money as well in the Senate or Obama?


By Noonecares on 4/20/2013 12:39:18 AM , Rating: 3
What is the difference between a Dem and a Rep? It looks like a smart move. Choose a side. Light or the Darkness. Real point being is that we don't have any more individual politicians. Have to be part of the herd to be heard?


By D_a_n on 4/22/2013 12:32:01 AM , Rating: 2
"What is the difference between a Dem and a Rep?"

Not much.


By MZperX on 4/19/2013 12:04:59 PM , Rating: 5
And the Republicans are surprised that they are losing ground... I am a Constitutionalist, fiscally conservative, socially moderate voter. The Republicans talk all day about small government, founding principles, and the Constitution and then they sell out at the first opportunity. They are against big government except when they are for it and vote for more surveillance and control over our lives. Worthless bunch on both sides. It is truly a crazy world when I find myself agreeing with Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi (in this case anyway).

If they continue their corrupt, politics-as-usual ways, the Republican party will become completely irrelevant. With weak candidates and no discernable principles, it is a ship adrift without a sail or rudder.

Let's see just a few of the supposedly principled Tea Party conservatives (all YES votes):
Michael Burgess, Paul Ryan, Mo Brooks, Robert Aderholt, Bill Cassidy, Steve King, Lamar Smith, and so on...

With "friends" like this who needs enemies? Oh, and Mike Rogers is the epitome of the textbook slimy politician that makes used car salesmen look like saints by comparison. I voted against him and his wife every chance I got. His wife ran for a judge position with literally zero legal or judicial experience. They are that deluded. Anyway, bottom line is these two political parties are slowly but surely destroying our nation. The only thing they seem to agree on is screwing the American people every chance they get.


By D_a_n on 4/22/2013 12:38:07 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
No matter who US politicians claim to be, all of them exhibit two powerful but conflicting tendencies: to bureaucratize and to privatize.

The bureaucratizers among them wants to grow public bureaucracies, creating political machines and systems of patronage, and providing ample scope for pork barrel politics. The privatizers among them want to dismantle public institutions and privatize everything under the sun in order to shrink the public realm and to enhance the concentration of private wealth.

These two imperatives are at odds, not for any ideological reason, but simply because there is an inevitable tug of war between them: big public bureaucracies expand the public realm, but privatizing the public realm shrinks it.

All American politicians find it in their interest to both expand government and to privatize its functions.

When the US economy is growing nicely, the two factions find that their wishes are granted, and they go merrily along enlarging federal and local bureaucracies while assisting in the concentration of wealth, making everyone they care about happy—everyone except the population, which is being steadily driven into bankruptcy and destitution, but that's just a problem of perception, easily remedied by an army of political consultants come election time.

This public-private feeding frenzy is called “bipartisanship.” When the economy isn't growing, the two factions are forced to square off against each other in what amounts to a zero-sum game. This is called “gridlock.”


— Dmitri Orlov

and

quote:
Who they are going to vote for doesn't matter: without exception they are going to vote for an American politician: a lawyer or a businessman, someone belongs to one of a few available political categories, all of them misnomers designed to confuse the public.

There are those who call themselves conservatives, and who are in fact not conservatives at all but free market liberals.

There are those who call themselves libertarians, but who either are not libertarians at all, or have somehow forgotten their anarchist-socialist roots, and who are in fact also free market liberals.

Then there are the “liberals,” who are also free market liberals but aspire to being nice, whereas the rest of the free market liberals are nasty.

But nobody here wants to be called a “liberal,” because in this topsy-turvy political universe it has become little more than a term of abuse.

It takes a long time to explain this nonsense to visitors from abroad, and when you round out the explanation by saying that these distinctions don't actually matter—because no matter what these politicians call themselves they are all state-capitalists who have been exhibiting quite a few fascist tendencies of late—they feel that you have wasted their time.


Title's Wrong
By ebakke on 4/19/2013 1:04:51 PM , Rating: 4
Jason, Congress didn't pass CISPA. The House of Representatives did. The Senate hasn't voted on it, yet your title implies it's gone through both bodies.




RE: Title's Wrong
By ebakke on 4/19/2013 1:07:40 PM , Rating: 2
Also, typo here:
quote:
President Obama (D) has for a second time threatened to veto [PDF] the bill, should it pass the House.

Should be "should it pass the Senate".


RE: Title's Wrong
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 4/19/2013 2:44:08 PM , Rating: 2
Both fixed, thanks


Ron Paul?
By PontiusP on 4/19/2013 2:39:18 PM , Rating: 2
How could Ron Paul have offered amendments on a bill if he is no longer a member of the house?

http://www.house.gov/representatives/#name_p

He has since retired.




RE: Ron Paul?
By FITCamaro on 4/19/2013 4:39:31 PM , Rating: 2
He was also a Senator. Not a Representative.


RE: Ron Paul?
By PontiusP on 4/19/2013 4:58:14 PM , Rating: 2
Nay.

Ron Paul was a house member, and is now retired. He was never a member of the senate.

His son, Rand Paul, is currently a senator from Kentucky.


RE: Ron Paul?
By FITCamaro on 4/20/2013 1:34:43 PM , Rating: 2
Not sure why exactly I thought in my head that he was...


This reminds me
By Shadowself on 4/19/2013 3:10:29 PM , Rating: 3
Well over a couple decades ago I was going to do a new startup in a certain state. It was going to bring a couple thousand jobs to the state. It was an overall, stereotypical "win-win" for the corporation, the state, and the local governments.

However, we needed some laws modified in order to move forward. Nothing significant. So we contacted the state legislature's majority leader in the state senate and arranged for lunch to talk it over -- privately, before we floated it to the legislature at large.

His response after we talked through all the pros and cons? (I'm paraphrasing here as it was more than 20 years ago.) "If I push this forward for you, what are you going to do for me?" Seriously. Not, "What are you going to do for my constituents." Not, "What benefit is this to the state?" But, "What are you going to do for me ?"

I had never before, or since, been hit with such a blatant, demand.

We went elsewhere.

I've never been one to allow myself (or any of my associates) to be pressured to do improper side deals like that. Sure, I've allowed myself and associates to be forced to build a park or other public service in order to get what we wanted, but I'll never be one to enrich an individual government representative. Some would say that what I've given into is no different from gifting to the representative himself or herself as the park or whatever got him/her many bonus points with his/her constituents and probably went a long way to getting re-elected. But I have to draw the line somewhere.




RE: This reminds me
By FITCamaro on 4/19/2013 4:42:15 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately crony capitalism isn't constrained to either party or any particular state. South Carolina is called one of the most conservative states. I can assure you the legislature here is not. And the good ole boy system is alive and well.


Lincoln
By hiscross on 4/19/2013 10:25:54 AM , Rating: 3
He used lobbyist to get votes to end slavery in America.




Write and call your senators
By FITCamaro on 4/19/2013 4:37:52 PM , Rating: 2
Not just whine online.




By mikeyD95125 on 4/19/2013 6:19:51 PM , Rating: 2
Neither Zoe Lofgren and Mike Honda from San Jose, Jackie Spier from SF, or Anna Eshoo in San Mateo county voted for this crap. All these tech giants in the districts they represent and none of them voted for it.

On the other hand its terribly disappointing to see the vast majority of Republicans in the House for this. All those Republicans are like college students. They have all these idealist views of how the world should operate and when it is time to get the work done they fold. Utterly lame.

Hey Reclaimer, next time you talk about all the virtues of what the government's role is, the evils of progressivism, and who I should vote for as if Mitt Romney wouldn't pass this bill in a heartbeat. ^^THIS^^




Not sure I get this.
By random2 on 4/20/2013 12:53:28 AM , Rating: 2
"to active Senators alone over the last six-year cycle, only to see their carefully laid plans dashed when the PROTECT IP Act."

Why does this read funny to me?




Time to move to foreign sites
By faust67 on 4/21/2013 9:44:56 AM , Rating: 2
There is a big opportunity for foreign mail/social media websites to take market share from big US players. The idea that US government could snoop on my Yahoo email accounts (I have no Facebook/Twitter accounts) makes me want to switch to a foreign email service (and there a lot of them out there). I think a lot of people outside the Us will think the same thing. 99.9% of people have nothing to hide, but the point is not there: I don't think anyone would like to see a government official come to his/her house and say "let me read your mail, search your closets, check your expenses and bank account, listen to your phone calls, etc. Yet, some people are OK with this behavior when it is about electronic communications without any kind of justification. This is will not be the death of big US Internet corporations, but probably a big blow to confidence in their impartiality both in the US and probably even more abroad (well, at least until other governments try to vote similar laws, which many are already trying to do)




!!
By ZoeAnderson24 on 4/22/2013 2:56:11 PM , Rating: 2
If you think Ronald`s story is surprising..., a month back my cousins best friend basically recieved a check for $8905 working a 40 hours month at home and they're friend's mother-in-law`s neighbour has been doing this for 7-months and made over $8905 in there spare time on there labtop. follow the instructions from this web-site. All29.comCHECK IT OUT




By ImmortalSamurai on 4/23/2013 10:55:19 AM , Rating: 2
WHY DOES DA CORRUPT POLITICIANS HAND, GOTTA BE BLACK!

I SEE HOW IT IS DAILYTECH....




This is what happens
By saganhill on 4/26/2013 8:06:08 AM , Rating: 2
This is what happens when technical illiterate make policy.




“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith














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