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July 22nd, 2016 at 1:07 pm
Taylor Swift: Intellectual Property and Anti-Counterfeiting Champion
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

We take no position in the ongoing Taylor Swift versus Kanye West divide.  But as perhaps surprisingly featured in a Wall Street Journal opinion this week, we do applaud her strong stance in defense of intellectual property (IP) and against the scourge of counterfeiting:

Pop star Taylor Swift has been feuding in recent days with rapper Kanye West and his wife, Kim Kardashian.  The details of the drama are lurid and complicated, but young aficionados of Snapchat and Instagram have been following it all intently.  If only the same were true for other Taylor Swift feuds that have received less attention.  Namely, those the 26-year-old songstress has fought in defense of a principle often scorned by fellow celebrities and the social-media generation generally:  the value of intellectual property.

In battles against tech titans, Chinese e-commerce swindlers and others, Ms. Swift has repeatedly insisted on being paid for her music and brand – and in the process has taught some valuable lessons in basic economics.  This may be the ‘information wants to be free’ era, when online content is glibly swiped by millions who would never dream of shoplifting, but Ms. Swift has a deep appreciation for the profit motive and the fruits it bestows on society.”

As we’ve often noted, it’s no coincidence that the United States has become the most artistically innovative and influential nation in human history while maintaining the world’s strongest IP protections.  Rather, it’s a direct causal relationship, as Ms. Swift recognizes:

Ms. Swift explained why she fights.  ’Music is art, and art is important and rare.  Important, rare things are valuable.  Valuable things should be paid for.’  She added, ‘My hope for the future, not just in the music industry, but in every girl I meet, is that they all realize their worth and ask for it.’”

Whatever one thinks of Ms. Swift as a musician or pop culture icon, her high-profile leadership in defending IP is to be celebrated.

July 18th, 2016 at 12:11 pm
Intellectual Property Protection Means Greater Biomedical Innovation
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Reasonable people understand that nations more protective of property rights and the rule of law enjoy higher levels of innovation and prosperity.  The fields of pharmaceutical advancement and biomedical innovation more specifically are no exception.

In a cogent new piece, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director of Intellectual Property Policy Patrick Kilbride demonstrates how strong intellectual property (IP) protections fuel biomedical innovation that benefits the world:

[E]conomies with the strongest IP protections are 60 percent more likely to provide environments conducive to biotech innovation.  And economies with specific protections for the life sciences field see an average of 13 times more biomedical investment than those lacking IP protections…  [A]s intellectual property systems have strengthened over time, public and private investment in health care has increased, as well as individual earnings to support heath costs.”  (emphasis in original)

Why does that matter?  Because international and even domestic forces seek to  undermine IP protections, threatening the goose that continues to lay golden eggs:

We live in a world where concerted efforts are being made daily to erode intellectual property rights, based on the false premise that IP somehow threatens access to medical care.  While the facts simply don’t support this theory, it hasn’t stopped activists around the world from spreading misinformation and chipping away at the very IP protections that produced life-saving medicines in the first place.  Just a few short years ago, India stripped a leukemia drug of its patent, claiming that it inhibited access by its citizens.  The result?  Due to government interference, fewer Indian citizens had affordable access to this medication than before the patent was annulled.  In Canada, an overzealous judiciary revoked 25 previously granted pharmaceutical patents and sparked a case involving NAFTA protections that could do lasting harm to future investments in life-saving medicines.  And Colombia’s prime minister of health has repaid medical researchers scrambling to find a cure for the Zika epidemic by pursuing an arbitrary and dangerous attack on others in the industry, effectively stripping a pharmaceutical company of its patent for another drug.  It is also against this backdrop that the United Nations Secretary General has pressed for establishment of a High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines (HLP) to quickly produce a report, based on the same false premise:  that ‘failure to reduce the costs of patented medicines is resulting in millions of people being denied access to lifesaving treatments.’”

As Abraham Lincoln observed, “The patent system added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius.”  It’s incumbent upon us to safeguard IP protections that continue to fire the genius of medical innovation.  Too many lives are at stake across the world to allow the grim alternative.

July 15th, 2016 at 11:28 am
Fact of the Day: By 76% to 19%, Police Chiefs Say Armed Citizens Help Reduce Violence
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In this week’s Liberty Update, we note the high degree of confidence and respect that Americans hold toward the nation’s police officers.  That respect is returned by the nation’s police chiefs, according to a new survey.  By a 76% to 19% supermajority, surveyed chiefs say that “qualified, law-abiding armed citizens can help law enforcement reduce violent activity.”  Similarly, by an 88% to 9% margin they agree that any vetted citizen should be able to buy firearms for self-defense or sport, and an 86% to 11% majority supports nationwide recognition of state-issued conceal weapon permits.

July 11th, 2016 at 1:14 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Lineup
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CDT to 6:00 p.m. CDT (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Common Sense.”  Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 CDT/5:00 pm EDT:  Phil Kerpen, President of American Commitment – Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Evan Moore, Senior Policy Analyst at The Foreign Policy Initiative – Russia and NATO Post Summit;

4:45 CDT/5:45 pm EDT:  Karlyn Bowman, Senior Fellow and Research Coordinator at the American Enterprise Institute – Vice Presidential Chatter;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  Brad Smith: Chairman and Founder of The Center for Competitive Politics – First Amendment, Political Speech Rights and Disclosure Laws; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Quin Hillyer, Contributing Editor of National Review Magazine, Senior Editor for The American Spectator Magazine, and Political Commentator – Presidential Candidates and Conventions.

Listen live on the Internet here.   Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330

July 8th, 2016 at 2:50 pm
Gallup: Clear Majority of Americans Oppose Using Race in Admission Decisions
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

On the heels of last week’s indefensible Supreme Court ruling upholding racial discrimination in university admissions (with Justice Kennedy bizarrely reversing his recent position on the other side of the question), there’s good news to report.  In a new Gallup poll, a surprising and overwhelming 70% to 26% majority of Americans believe that applicants should be admitted solely on merit.  Notably, that majority opposed consideration of race “even when it is explained that this could help increase diversity,” as Gallup emphasized:

Overwhelming Majority Opposes Racial Consideration

Overwhelming Majority Opposes Racial Consideration

Although this lopsided disapproval won’t reverse last week’s Supreme Court error, it does suggest that a broad and rare consensus exists to systematically dismantle such discriminatory practices across federal, state and local levels.

July 6th, 2016 at 6:33 pm
Image of the Day: While Other Countries Reduce Corporate Tax Rates, U.S. Maintains Developed World’s Highest
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

A rare bipartisan consensus agrees that the U.S. corporate tax rate, which remains the developed world’s highest, is in desperate need of reduction and simplification.  Today brings an illustration of the problem, courtesy of the Tax Foundation:

Corporate Tax Rates

Corporate Tax Rates

July 1st, 2016 at 12:56 pm
Perhaps the Funniest Post-Brexit Tantrum Yet, Courtesy of The New York Times
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

So this apparently passes as intelligent commentary among The New York Times set and tantrum-throwing “Remain” pajama boy voters in Britain.

Namely, a perpetual adolescent who acknowledges:

Since my late teens, every effort I have ever exerted has been with the intention of escaping Alresford.  And yet, I am an early-career academic and so I am forced to move back, every summer, to live with my parents because I cannot afford to pay rent elsewhere after my temporary teaching contract ends.”

Nevertheless, he openly fantasizes about its utter obliteration and return to a state of nature, lamenting the area’s “Brexit” vote to declare independence from the European Union:

Sometimes, in the summer, I walk up the hill and I look out over it, the housing development on one side and the Georgian town center at the bottom of the other, and I have this fantasy image of how it once was, before Alresford was founded in the Middle Ages, when all of this was untouched:  just the wild, untamed nature that it keeps wanting to turn itself back into.  And sometimes, I think:  I wish that would happen.  Because all that humans have ever done here is ruin things.  Alresford is my personal hell.”

The poor soul.

Conspicuously, however, he doesn’t volunteer himself to stand first in line in his little return-to-nature scrubbing of humanity from the land.

‘Twas ever thus with leftists, of course.  Always let someone else endure the consequences of their dystopian visions.

June 28th, 2016 at 12:51 pm
Fact of the Day: Mass Shootings More Common in Europe Than the U.S.
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

The lazy assumption that America suffers a uniquely high mass shooting rate is the foundation upon which 2nd Amendment restrictionists must rely.

After all, if allegedly more “enlightened” nations like France or Norway that effectively prohibit so-called “assault weapons” (a meaningless slur, but that’s another subject entirely) suffer a mass shooting rate as high or higher than the U.S., then their rationale for restricting law-abiding citizens’ right to keep and bear arms collapses.

Unfortunately for them, as illustrated by crimeresearch.org, that’s precisely what the real-world facts show.  France, Norway  and other European nations actually suffer higher mass shooting rates than the U.S.  In fact, out of 18 European and North American nations measured, the U.S. mass shooting rate is all the way down at number 12:

Comparing Mass Shooting Rates

Comparing Mass Shooting Rates

It’s another inconvenient truth for those who wish to pointlessly restrict the self-defense rights of law-abiding Americans.

June 27th, 2016 at 3:39 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Lineup
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CDT to 6:00 p.m. CDT (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.”  Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 CDT/5:00 pm EDT:  Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President for Legal and Public Affairs – Net Neutrality, the Second Amendment and other Current Issues;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Daniel Kochis, Research Fellow in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom – Brexit Vote, Now What?;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  Diego Echeverri, U.S. Army Veteran and Florida State Director for Concerned Veterans of America – “Caring for Our Heroes in the 21st Century Act”; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Andrew Och, Award Winning Television, Multi-Media Producer and Author – “Unusual For Their Time: On the Road with America’s First Ladies”.

Listen live on the Internet here.   Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330

June 24th, 2016 at 1:51 pm
Brexit Highlights the Enduring Value of Federalism
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Regardless of other economic, political and social implications of Britain’s vote yesterday to depart the European Union, it highlights a value at the core of America’s governmental system:  federalism.

On this side of the Atlantic, decades of almost uninterrupted centralization of authority at the national level has necessarily come at the expense of more localized decisionmaking.  Our own unfortunate experience has been an increasingly homogenized, sterilized, conformist, bureaucratic, technocratic, remote, suffocating, uniform, top-down, one-size-fits-all leviathan.  Ironically, those on the political left who so often pretend to value “diversity” defend that erosion of federalism most enthusiastically.  They expose themselves as intolerant of true diversity, freedom and independence of people who don’t see the world as they do.

Despite forecasts of economic doom from “Remain” advocates, a surprising majority of British voters felt the same sense of suffocation and loss of sovereignty and voted “Leave.”  That sentiment isn’t limited to Britain, as fellow European populations in places like France and the Netherlands express the same dissatisfaction:

The popularity of the European Union is plummeting across some major European countries, according to new data published by Pew Research Centre.  The US-based, independent organisation found that the mound of people who feel enthusiastic about the 28-nation bloc is rapidly declining across 7 of the 10 polled nations.  In France, only 38% of people have a favourable view of the EU, according to Pew.  In 2004, this number was 69%.  The same trend was picking up in Spain, Italy, and Germany too.”

It remains to be seen whether and to what extent similar sentiment affects the U.S. elections this November.  But regardless, it’s encouraging to see that the concepts that led our Founding Fathers to create a system of federalism here in the U.S. survives in our parent nation of Britain.

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June 21st, 2016 at 12:20 pm
Global Misery Index: Socialist Venezuela Occupies High End, Free-Market Singapore Occupies Low End
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

How do socialism and free markets compare in the real world?

In our recent Liberty Update piece entitled “Socialist Paradises?  More Scandinavians Migrate to America than Vice-Versa” we show how Scandinavian countries aren’t the socialist paradises that Bernie Sanders fans seem to think.  This week brings just the latest illustration that free economies work, while socialist economies fail.

In the latest annual Index of Economic Freedom, Singapore ranks second-freest in the world, slightly below Hong Kong and ahead of New Zealand, Switzerland and then Australia.   Coming in nearly last at 176 of the 178 nations measured was socialist Venezuela.  And the real-world result?  A new Bloomberg piece notes that Singapore now enjoys the lowest (i.e., best) spot on the worldwide misery index.  Meanwhile, socialist paradise Venezuela holds the top (i.e., worst) spot:

Singapore has dropped below Thailand on the so-called Misery Index for the first time since December 2014, meaning the city-state has the lowest combination of consumer-price inflation and unemployment in the world.  Singapore’s most-recent CPI rate was negative 0.5 percent and its official jobless rate was 1.9 percent, ranking it 1.4 percent on the misery scale, compared with 1.5 percent in Thailand and 2.9 percent in Japan, based on the latest-available official figures.  Venezuela ranks as most miserable among more than 70 countries on which Bloomberg compiles data, as the South American country battles triple-digit inflation.”

As they would say in Latin, res ipsa loquitur – “the fact speaks for itself.”

June 20th, 2016 at 11:22 am
We Should Also Make the Affirmative Case for 2nd Amendment Rights
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In our latest Liberty Update piece “Inconvenient Truths Undermine Gun-Controllers’ Myths,” we systematically dismantle the untruths offered by 2nd Amendment rights opponents, including their exaggerated claims regarding U.S. murder and mass shooting rates.

In addition to rightfully exposing the misconceptions and outright lies perpetuated by those seeking to deprive law-abiding Americans of their rights, however, it helps to highlight the affirmative benefits of Second Amendment rights, i.e., the value of what we’re protecting.

In that regard, National Review’s David French offers a brilliant piece entitled “Dear Anti-Gun Liberals, Don’t Tell Me Which Gun I ‘Need’ for Self-Defense.” French first explains why a law-abiding American would prefer something like an AR-15 for self-defense:

Any person who breaks into my house or who threatens my family on my property will very soon find themselves staring at the business end of an AR-15…  It’s light, maneuverable, accurate, and highly reliable.  While self-defense experts can and do disagree on the optimal weapon for home defense, large numbers choose AR-style rifles for exactly the reasons I do.  It provides more firepower – with greater accuracy – than the alternatives.

But now I’m told – largely by people who don’t know the first thing about firearms – that no American ‘needs’ an AR-style rifle.  But when your life is on the line, what do you want?  More accuracy or less?  More firepower or less?  More recoil or less?  More reliability or less?  It’s always interesting to take a relatively inexperienced shooter to a range, let them shoot a handgun (where bullets generally scatter all over the target), and then hand them an AR.  Even rookies will shoot far more accurately with far less recoil.  It’s just easier to use.”

Importantly, French then contrasts why an AR-style rifle is not an optimal weapon of choice for a burglar or violent criminal:

But not – in general – for criminals.  For the average criminal, concealment is the key.  So they use handguns.  Moreover, the average criminal isn’t spending $1,000 (or sometimes more) on their weapon.  Rarely (very rarely), extraordinary criminals will use AR-type rifles, but most mass shootings are committed with handguns.”

“Which weapon do I ‘need’ for self-defense?,” French asks in conclusion.  ”Why don’t you let me make that choice.”

As we concluded in our Liberty Update piece, anyone seeking to restrict others’ Constitutional rights bears the burden of proof to justify their desire.  In this debate, as illustrated by French, they don’t come anywhere close to satisfying that burden.

June 14th, 2016 at 6:13 pm
Divided Court Allows FCC to Use Law Intended to Reduce Internet Regulation to Increase Internet Regulation
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Like most Americans, you probably had no idea that the Internet was somehow broken and in need of an Obama Administration “fix” via a Depression-era federal statute enacted for copper wire telephone technology.

And with good reason.  For two decades, America’s tech and Internet sectors have remained among the depressingly few areas of our economy that continued to flourish amid an era characterized by stagnating growth, employment and incomes.

Throughout the Obama tenure, however, his Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has attempted over and over to upend the “light touch” regulatory approach of both Democratic (Clinton) and Republican (Bush) administrations that allowed the Internet to flourish as it has.  Today, unfortunately, a sharply divided D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals finally affirmed the FCC’s most recent attempt to impose so-called “Net Neutrality” regulations that essentially equate to ObamaCare for the Internet.

As aptly summarized by Senior Circuit Judge Williams’s dissent, today’s decision allows FCC “use of an Act intended to ‘reduce regulation’ to instead increase regulation.”

Judge Williams cogently captured not only the legal illogic of the majority’s holding, but its real-world unintended consequences as well:

“The ultimate irony of the Commission’s unreasoned patchwork is that, refusing to inquire into competitive conditions, it shuns broadband service onto the legal track suited to natural monopolies.  Because that track provides  little economic space for new firms seeking market entry or relatively small firms seeking expansion through innovations in business models or in technology, the Commission’s decision has a decent chance of bringing about the conditions under which some (but by no means all) of its actions could be grounded – the prevalence of incurable monopoly.”

Fortunately, this doesn’t end the question.  The ruling will likely be appealed, and the FCC’s mismanagement can be corrected via Congressional action or new FCC leadership in a future presidential administration.

But beyond the specific issue in question, today’s unfortunate ruling illustrates again the importance of judicial branch appointments and composition as we approach the election of a president who will make those appointments.

use of an Act intended to “reduce regulation” to
instead increase regulation
June 13th, 2016 at 2:58 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Lineup
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CDT to 6:00 p.m. CDT (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.”  Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 CDT/5:00 pm EDT:  Anthony Hennen, Staff Writer at Red Alert Politics – Millennials in America;

4:15 CDT/5:15 pm EDT:  James Capretta, Visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute – America’s Entitlement Programs;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Peter Roff, Contributing Editor with US News & World Report – Congress’ Proposed Bailout of Puerto Rico;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  Bob Dorigo Jones, Senior Fellow at Center for America – 2016 Wacky Warning Labels Contest; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Peter Brooks, Senior Fellow for National Security Affairs at The Heritage Foundation – Lone Wolf Terrorism and the Nightclub Shoot in Orlando.

Listen live on the Internet here.   Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330.

June 9th, 2016 at 9:13 am
Puerto Rico Bailout Bill Allows “Gifts, Bequests, or Devises of Services or Property” to Control Board Members
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

As reported by Bloomberg yesterday, the PROMESA bailout bill for Puerto Rico includes a provision that would allow members of the control board to “accept, use, and dispose of gifts, bequests, or devises of services or property, both real and personal” for the purpose of “aiding or facilitating” the board’s work.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the House Natural Resources Committee claimed that such language is “fairly commonplace in ensuring statutory objectives are met in circumstances where non-federal sources of funding will be necessary.” Accordingly, the rationalization for the provision in this case is that the board will be able to “fulfill its purpose” in the event that Puerto Rico’s government can’t (or rather chooses not to) provide “sufficient funding” for it.

Will the Puerto Rican government actually fund the control board knowing its existence is widely opposed by the Puerto Rican people?  And, of course, there’s the little matter of Puerto Rico allegedly being “out of money,” as their governor has so stridently claimed for months. According to the CBO, the board will cost $370 million over its lifetime.  So it appears that these gifts will come in handy.

So who will be in the giving spirit?

The provision is crafted in such a way that any stakeholder looking to buy influence on the board will be able to do so.  Perhaps labor unions (SEIU, in particular), which already have generously given their time and resources to help Puerto Rico’s government produce a report claiming that billions of dollars of its debt is invalid, will take center stage in the gift-giving war, hoping to ensure that the Commonwealth’s underfunded public pension system is provided preference over bondholders.  Or what about certain hedge funds looking to convince the board that their claims should be prioritized over the claims of other bondholders, including those afforded first priority in Puerto Rico’s Constitution?

Indeed, rather than actually weighing Puerto Rico’s competing claims, and clarifying where they stand in the context of Puerto Rico’s Constitution, some in Congress have decided to invite a contest between who can out-bribe the others.  When people say that Washington is broken, revelations like this help explain why.

June 8th, 2016 at 12:13 pm
Dangerous Idea: Senator Proposes Extension of U.S. Reliance on Russian Rockets
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

As we at CFIF have recently detailed, the U.S. simply must end military and space program purchases of Russian rocket engines.

As America’s military leaders confirm, Russia remains perhaps our foremost global threat, and continuing to subsidize its defense industry with U.S. taxpayer dollars only undermines global security by rewarding its aggressive behavior.  Additionally, rogue nations like Iran remain prime beneficiaries of Russian rocketry and its ongoing technological advances, and continuing support for Russian rocketry comes at the expense of our own domestic rocket industry.

With those concerns in mind, and following Russian aggression against Ukraine, Congress rightly imposed a phaseout of future U.S. purchase of Russian rocket engines in two consecutive National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAAs).  Unfortunately, some in Congress seek to reverse that phaseout and hope to to spend $540 million or more on at least 18 new Russian RD-180 engines.

And now, Senator Bill Nelson (D – Florida) has introduced an amendment to extend U.S. reliance upon Russian rocketry to 2023.

Although CFIF has had its well-known disagreements with Senator John McCain (R – Arizona) over the years, he is the last person whose devotion to national security or fiscal responsibility can be questioned.  And on this issue, Sen. McCain remains unequivocal:

Today, we have two space launch providers – ULA and SpaceX – that, no matter what happens with the Russian RD-180, will be able to provide fully redundant capabilities with ULS’s Delta IV and SpaceX’s Falcon 9, and eventually, the Falcon heavy space launch vehicles.  There will be no credibility gap.  The Atlas V is not going anywhere anytime soon.”

And in response to Sen. Nelson’s proposed amendment, Sen. McCain was equally cogent:

This amendment, which is the largest subsidy of the Russian military industrial base proposed since the invasion of Ukraine, is the worst proposal yet from ULA and its Congressional allies.  In an apparent effort to further dependence on Russia for access to space, this amendment exceeds the Administration’s request for 18 Russian rocket engines and provides taxpayer subsidy for the purchase of an unlimited number of Russian engines.”

We cannot afford to neglect our own thriving space industry to the benefit of Russia, particularly on the backs of U.S.  taxpayers.  Senator Nelson’s misguided proposed amendment exceeds any request from the U.S. Department of Defense, and would only extend reliance upon Russia’s RD-180 well into the 2020s (if not longer).   CFIF therefore urges Senators to oppose any reversal of the current phaseout of U.S. future purchase of Russian rocket engines in the NDAA, including Sen. Nelson’s amendment.

June 3rd, 2016 at 9:48 am
Survey: Americans Still Support Police
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In this week’s Liberty Update commentary “Don’t Go Wobbly on Criminal Justice,” we sound the alarm on rising violent crime in America’s largest cities while too many across the political spectrum nevertheless seek to relax our criminal laws and reverse the measures that so drastically reduced crime rates in the U.S. over the past 20 years.

On that subject, Rasmussen Reports offers some encouraging news.  In one survey, a majority of respondents favor “Blue Lives Matter” state laws that would classify assaults on police, firefighters or other emergency responders as “hate crimes.”  In another, a 58% to 27% majority believes that a “war on police” exists in America today.

Those results suggest that American voters have a good handle on present criminal justice realities.  Here’s hoping that they maintain it in the face of politically fashionable attempts by media and political figures to resurrect soft-on-crime policies that created an awful state of affairs from the 1960s to the 1990s.

May 31st, 2016 at 1:04 pm
Net “Neutrality”: Google Says Nondiscrimination for Me, But Not for Thee
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Surprise, surprise.  So Google, perhaps the leading proponent of so-called “Net Neutrality,” predictably doesn’t consider itself constrained by the same rules of nondiscrimination from which it seeks to benefit via government intervention:

Progressives have long argued that the federal government must protect the Internet from discrimination by treating service providers like Comcast as public utilities.  Now we learn that the Net doesn’t have to be neutral, as long as Google is the company targeting legal businesses that are politically unpopular.  Google recently announced in a blog post that the search engine would no longer run advertisements for payday loans with high interest rates and a 60-day repayment period.  ’Ads for financial services are a particular area of vigilance given how core they are to people’s livelihood and well being,’ the company wrote.”

Moreover, Google’s hypocrisy is compounded by its crony capitalist angle:

Google’s timing is also curious, given that the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is finishing up a rule to wipe out the payday industry by cutting a lender’s ability to collect.  This political assault includes Justice Department investigations into banks that do business with payday lenders, which are also lawful outfits.  You don’t have to be a cynic to wonder if Google isn’t providing some cover for this political campaign:  the Obama Administration has certainly done a lot for Google.  The company’s top lobbyist visited the Obama White House 128 times as of October 2015 – more than counterparts at Comcast, Facebook, Amazon and Verizon combined.”

And then there’s its assault on intellectual property rights angle:

Last month the White House endorsed a Federal Communications Commission proposal that would allow Google to pirate television content, and last year the FCC exempted Google from its net-neutrality regulatory scheme.”

It’s just another illustration of the public policy, crony capitalist monstrosity that Net “Neutrality” is.  Whether by the judicial system or the political system, it must be put to an end.

May 27th, 2016 at 12:52 pm
“Reset” Fail: Russian Approval of U.S. Leadership at Record Low 1%
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In this week’s Liberty Update commentary “Captain America, Barack Obama and Surrender of U.S. Internet Authority” we highlight the Obama Administration’s uninterrupted pattern of foreign policy failure to illustrate one reason its plan to surrender oversight of the open Internet to the “international community” is a toxic idea.

Perhaps nothing better represents Obama’s record of failure better than Russia, where he and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bungled their infamous “Reset” attempt.  For all of its efforts to placate Vladimir Putin to the detriment of U.S. allies like Poland and Ukraine, a new Gallup survey shows that Russians’ approval of U.S. leadership has fallen to a record low of 1%:

Just 1% of Russians approved of U.S. leadership in 2015 – the worst rating in the world last year, and the lowest approval Gallup  has measured for the U.S. in the past decade.  Remarkably, this is even worse than their previous record low 4% approval in 2014.”

It’s as if Obama and Clinton should receive commemorative shirts reading, “I Caved to Russian Dictators and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt.”   Regardless, neither Obama nor Clinton can claim a single substantive foreign policy success during their tenures.  It’s again something to keep in mind as the administration pursues its inexplicable goal of surrendering U.S. Internet oversight before he coasts into retirement and leaves the rest of us to deal with the consequences.

May 25th, 2016 at 12:22 pm
Former Clinton Administration Official Rips FCC’s Set-Top Box Proposal as “Massive New Federal Regulation”
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Alongside nearly every other conservative and libertarian organization of which we’re aware, CFIF opposes a toxic and wholly unnecessary new proposal from the Obama Administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate cable television set-top boxes before the clock runs out on the Obama presidency.

But opposition extends across the political spectrum.  In today’s Wall Street Journal, former Clinton Administration Undersecretary of Commerce Ev Ehrlich excoriates the FCC’s proposed set-top box regulation for what it is — a crony capitalist, purloining, invasive, already-obsolete, anti-competitive, “massive new federal regulation”:

The Federal Communications Commission wants you, the consumer, to allow a new set-top box into your home that rearranges the programs you buy and inserts new advertising while tracking what you watch.  Movie studios, labor unions and civil rights groups all oppose it.  Why?  Because this ‘All-Vid’ proposal isn’t about the box fees the senators-turned-lobbyists decry.  Instead, it’s all about appropriating content.  Google and Amazon want to capture, repackage and profit from TV programming in their own competing services without having to pay for it…

If Google, Amazon or anyone else wants to build a better set-top box, they can do so the way these services have – in a way that respects federal privacy laws and negotiated licensing agreements with program producers.  Or they can actually license the content from creators, the way everybody else does, as opposed to demanding a gift from a captive FCC.”

Mr. Ehrlich gets it exactly right.

As we have stated, there is simply no realm of American life today that manifests badly-needed innovation, consumer choice, quality, affordability and sheer enjoyment than the video entertainment sector.  The variety and excellence of today’s video choices continues to expand at breakneck speed on (literally) a daily basis.  We therefore ask officials at all levels of government, as well as our 250,000 supporters and activists across the country, to oppose what Mr. Ehrlich rightly describes as a looming federal atrocity.