Video: Honoring the U.S. Armed Forces
On Memorial Day, CFIF salutes all the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces for their bravery, honor and service to our country.
On Memorial Day, CFIF salutes all the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces for their bravery, honor and service to our country.
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.
Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.
View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.
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.
The Court does not have the power to disbar the counsel in this case, but it does have the power to revoke the pro hac vice status of out-of-state lawyers who act unethically in court.”
During my years of legal practice, if I received anything close to that official rebuke from a federal judge, the only question in my mind would’ve been whether to bother stopping by the managing partner’s office to receive a formal termination notice before packing up my belongings.
But that’s exactly the rebuke that federal Judge Andrew Hanen just issued against Barack Obama’s Department of Justice. The occasion for this extraordinary and frightening order was the Administration’s bald misconduct in litigating the immigration executive order case now before the U.S. Supreme Court:
The United States Department of Justice (”DOJ” or “Justice Department”) has now admitted making statements that clearly did not match the facts. It has admitted that the lawyers who made these statements had knowledge of the truth when they made these misstatements…
To say that the government acted contrary to its multiple assurances to this Court is, at best, an understatement. The Government knowingly acted contrary to its representations to this Court on over 100,000 occasions. This Court finds that the misrepresentations detailed above: (1) were false; (2) were made in bad faith; and (3) misled both the Court and the Plaintiff States. The misconduct in this case was intentional, serious and material. In fact, it is hard to imagine a more serious, more calculated plan of unethical conduct. There were over 100,000 instances of conduct contrary to counsel’s representations; such a sizable omission cannot be classified as immaterial.”
Lest anyone attempt to dismiss this outrage as limited to a few attorneys, Judge Hanen’s order extended to the DOJ itself:
[W]hatever it is that the Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility has been doing, it has not been effective. The Office of Professional Responsibility purports to have as its mission, according to the Department of Justice’s website, the duty to ensure that Department of Justice attorneys ‘perform their duties in accordance with the high professional standards expected of the Nation’s principal law enforcement agency.’”
Among other remedies, Judge Hanen ruled that any DOJ lawyer based in Washington, D.C. who “appears or seeks to appear” in any state or federal court among those 26 states involved in the immigration case attend remedial ethics courses. Additionally, current Attorney General Loretta Lynch was specifically ordered to come up with a program to prevent future misconduct of this sort.
Anyone still curious regarding the origins of the political and social turmoil this nation is suffering after two terms under Obama, look no further. When a president and his administration cannot even be trusted to tell the truth in pleadings and statements to a federal court, we approach a disintegration of the rule of law. The potential repercussions, both near-term and long-term, are terrifying to contemplate.
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 – Justin Johnson, Senior Policy Analyst for Defense Budgeting Policy at The Heritage Foundation: Military Readiness;
4:15 CDT/5:15 pm EDT – Trey Kovacs: Policy Analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute: Obama’s New Overtime Rule;
4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT – Ari Cohn, Legal and Advocacy Officer at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education: Free Speech on College Campuses;
5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT – Tzvi Kahn, Senior Policy Analyst at the Foreign Policy Initiative: Iran, Syria, and the Egyptian Air Crash;
5:15 CDT/6:15 pm EDT – Ike Brannon, Visiting Fellow at the Cato Institute and Former Treasury Department Official: Biggest Flaws in the Latest Version of Puerto Rico Debt Legislation; and
5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT – Sally Pipes, President, CEO and Thomas W. Smith Fellow in Health Care Policy at the Pacific Research Institute: Medicare — The Times They are a Changing.
Listen live on the Internet here. Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330.
We are fortunate to live in what many have called the “Golden Age of Television,” a time when an explosion of creativity and innovation have collided to create more audience choice than ever before.
In light of that, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) recent decision to “Unlock the Box” with their “AllVid” proposal seems especially puzzling. Upon further reflection and considering the bigger picture, however, the misguided AllVid proposal regarding technology that is already antiquated and will soon be entirely irrelevant is merely the most recent in a string of illogical and counterproductive proposals from the current FCC.
From the so called AllVid proposal to the FCC’s Privacy proposal, it is evident that we live not only in the “Golden Age of Television,” but also in the “Age of Asymmetrical Regulation.” Current regulations impose one set of rules upon incumbents in the telecommunications industry and another set of rules entirely for so-called “edge” providers like Google. In fact, regulation under this FCC seems to deliberately create a crony capitalist environment where incumbents can’t compete and the edge providers alone can thrive.
Equally troubling is the abnormally notoriously close relationship between Google and the White House, a partnership that was extensively detailed in a recent piece in The Intercept. Not only did Google’s top lobbyist visit the White House 128 times, but during the company’s annual State of the Union YouTube interviews with the President, Google is reported to have planted questions on policy issues important to Google on at least 3 occasions. That conspicuous degree of access and flagrant favoritism suggests that it has contributed to the severely asymmetrical regulation that we continue to witness from this FCC.
Again and again we have seen examples of this type of successful rent-seeking behavior from Google, and their ilk, and the remedy is clear: the FCC must stop its transparent favoritism and heavy-handed regulation of the telecommunication incumbents. Instead, it should focus on maintaining a level playing field. Regulating based on crony capitalist bias and personal friendship is not only wildly inappropriate, but also a recipe for interventionist disaster. Continuing to disproportionately impose destructive regulations on the telecommunications for the benefit of other favored sectors not only violates the rights of disfavored enterprises, it ultimately serves to stifle competition and innovation for years to come in same the way that all government interventions into the free market tend to do.
In the Mario Lopez interview immediately below and a recent Liberty Update piece noting a welcome federal court victory, CFIF continues to emphasize and oppose ongoing official governmental efforts to intimidate and silence conservative donors:
[P]ublic officials and vindictive private citizens persist in demanding access to membership records and donor lists of conservative and libertarian organizations whose missions they deem unacceptable. Anyone requiring confirmation need only look to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) harassment of pro-Israel and conservative nonprofit groups, or California citizens driven from their jobs simply for advocating a position on marriage that even a majority of state voters at the ballot box.
A recent federal court ruling in California vindicates donor privacy and the logic underlying [the Supreme Court ruling in] NAACP v. Alabama.”
On the same note, it’s worth highlighting Congressional legislation led primarily by Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam (R – Illinois) targeting Internal Revenue Service (IRS) abuses that deserves our support. Specifically, the House of Representatives recently passed a set of reforms to stop IRS abuses, improve protections for everyday American taxpayers and finally hold IRS officials accountable for official misconduct. Here’s what the package of reforms would accomplish:
It’s a good sign that IRS abuses and other governmental efforts at the federal, state and local levels targeting Americans – especially conservative and libertarian Americans – who simply wish to exercise their First Amendment rights have been exposed.
But that’s not enough. We can’t let the opportunity to actually change the atmosphere in which these abuses occurred, and prevent similar abuses going forward. Americans of every political persuasion should therefore contact their elected representatives and the White House to demand their support for these common-sense reforms.
In an interview with CFIF, Mario Lopez, President of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, discusses the concerted, cross-country campaign to force private organizations to hand over to the government their donor lists, a recent federal court ruling in California that vindicates donor privacy and the allegations of suppressed conservative speech by Facebook.
Listen to the interview here.
On behalf of the 60 organizations listed below and the millions of Americans represented, we urge you to take action on the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for Ozone and to reform the rulemaking process for ozone and other pollutants regulated under NAAQS. Without changes to the ozone regulation and reform of the rulemaking process, economic activity could be brought to a standstill in many areas across the country.
So there are these folks in Wisconsin who run a version of “Politifact,” complete with a “Truthometer.” Problem is, theirs needs to be recalibrated.
They subjected one of CFIF’s ads to their Truthometer. They decided we told a half-truth in calling the bailout for Puerto Rico a bailout, because no taxpayer funds would be used, which we never said, even though some of their “experts” experted that the negative effects on individual bondholders would, in fact, be pretty much what we said. Go figure.
If they had started by fact-checking themselves, they’d have been on more credible footing, since they identify CFIF several times as a “Super PAC” and once as a “political action committee.” CFIF is not now, nor has it ever been a Super PAC, ditto political action committee. The Truthometer’s worst designation – “Pants on Fire” – is too silly for grown-ups to use, so we’ll give them a big fat zero for that one.
The bill currently before Congress, H.R. 4900 or PROMESA, would bail out Puerto Rico. It would do so by empowering a financial oversight board to force “Super Chapter 9 bankruptcy” restructuring of Puerto Rico’s debt, which means that Puerto Rico could renege on paying its creditors all it owes them, even though a great deal of that debt is protected and prioritized by Puerto Rico’s constitution, which is how the bonds were sold as being really, really safe.
Since a large portion of that debt is held by individuals, they involuntarily will be paying for Puerto Rico’s bailout. Thus, what we actually said: “Retirement accounts crushed. A bailout on the backs of savers and seniors.” Or, as the so-called fact-checkers in Wisconsin put it: “And Duffy’s bill, experts tell us, almost certainly would mean lower returns for perhaps hundreds of thousands of Americans who invested in what long had been regarded as safe Puerto Rican bonds.”
Ultimately, our “sin” is adjudged as taking “things out of context.” Precisely how do we take “things out of context” when we specify the exact context we use?
After attacking CFIF, they attempt to defend the restructuring by writing: “With an Oversight Board managing a debt restructuring, savers likely will get a lower return than they expected. But without such a board, creditors would be fighting in court and the returns for individuals (sic) investors would likely be lower still.”
In actuality, creditors are already fighting in court, and given that one class of Puerto Rican bonds was issued under the “full faith and credit” of Puerto Rico’s constitution, the law is on their side. One reason for the urgency of restructuring (and along with the bill forcing a retroactive moratorium on litigation) is the fear that courts will indeed rule for the creditors.
One final note: The Wisconsin piece accuses CFIF of throwing around the word “bailout.” Here’s a term we will throw around: journalistically challenged. Fact check that.
Thomas Humber is founder of CFIF, and has been a recovering journalist for forty years.
Don’t give up on American culture and run off to some deserted island or desolate wilderness hut just yet. There’s still some good news to report.
According to a new Gallup survey, free enterprise, small businesses and capitalism remain far more popular among Americans than socialism or the federal government. Despite the media kid-gloves treatment of admitted socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, only 35% of respondents say they maintain a positive view of socialism. That is actually down from 2010 and 2012, when 36% and 39% reported positive feelings. As for the federal government, which too many candidates from all parties continue to offer as some sort of elixir for what ails us, only 44% report positive feelings. That is also down from 2010 and 2012, when 46% and 51% held it in high esteem.
So congratulations, Obama. Not exactly the transformative presidency in the mold of Ronald Reagan to which you aspired.
Meanwhile, 85% of Americans report positive feelings toward free enterprise, 60% hold capitalism favorably despite constant sloganeering from the political left and an astonishing 96% hold small business in high esteem.
Now it’s just a matter of all of us doing a better job of putting those ideals into practice.
In this week’s Liberty Update, we highlight the falsity of the persistent claim that Barack Obama somehow prevented a great depression:
[T]he federal government’s own economic data shows that Obama actually inherited an emerging recovery. The American economy was already rebounding before he even officially became president. What he has done is impose policies that have resulted in the slowest decade of economic growth in recorded U.S. history.”
Yesterday’s official report on first-quarter 2016 economic performance provided same-day confirmation. More specifically, the U.S. Commerce Department announced that gross domestic product (GDP), the basic metric by which the economy is measured and by which recessions and recoveries are defined, grew at a disturbing 0.5%. Not only is that number alarmingly low, it amounts to the worst mark in two years. Echoing our own commentary, The Wall Street Journal emphasizes how this places Obama’s legacy in perspective:
The reality is that the first quarter is further evidence of what has been the weakest economic expansion in the postwar era. The 0.5% growth is subject to revision but it follows 1.4% in the fourth quarter. Growth over the last six months has averaged about 1%, and under 2% over the last 12 months… The American economy hasn’t grown by more than 3% since 2005 (3.3%), the longest such stretch of malaise that we can find in the Bureau of Economic Analysis tables going back to 1930. Even the Great Depression saw a snapback to rapid growth from 1934-1936.”
The explanation for that is simple. Obama has pursued the most hyper-regulatory, big-government, wasteful-spending economic policy in U.S. history. That’s illustrated among other things by his horrific deficit record, which saw four consecutive deficits in excess of $1 trillion dollars, and more accumulated debt than all previous presidents combined. Until America has a president and Congress that pursue the proven supply-side policies that result in economic prosperity (see, e.g., Ronald Reagan), this will likely remain the new normal.
Throughout the Obama Era, his Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has destructively imposed regulation after regulation upon a tech and telecommunications market that was not broken. Indeed, that sector has thrived like no other in the modern American economy.
An announcement today from Comcast provided just the latest evidence of that thriving market.
Specifically, Executive Vice President of Consumer Services Marcien Jenckes announced an Internet data trial that will introduce a terabyte data plan to its offerings. Beginning June 1, data plans in trial markets will upgrade from 300 gigabytes to one terabyte, regardless of speed.
To place that in perspective, their average customer reportedly uses only 60 gigabytes per month – 940 gigabytes short of a terabyte. A terabyte allows streaming of 700 hours of high-definition video, 12,000 hours of online gaming and 60,000 high-resolution photo downloads in a month. Fewer than 1% of its customers even approach a terabyte in monthly usage, and even they will be free under the new plan to receive unlimited data for merely $50 more per month or individual increments of 50 gigabytes for $10.
In other words, the market is working without FCC “solutions” to non-existent problems. This announcement offers merely the latest proof.
Please join CFIF in celebrating World IP Day!
Over more than two centuries, the U.S. has become the most innovative, prosperous and powerful nation in human history, without even remote competition. What nation in all of recorded history rivals our array of patented advancements, from the light bulb to powered flight to computer technology to lifesaving pharmaceutical and medical advancements? What nation has so dominated the world in terms of copyrighted content, from blockbuster films to popular music to literature to television entertainment? What nation has ever maintained such disproportionately high levels of valuable trademarks recognized instantaneously throughout the world, from soft drink logos to technological products that have revolutionized our lives?
The simple answer is that no society rivals the U.S. in any one of those categories, let alone all of them simultaneously.
And that is the direct result of America’s tradition of strong IP protections, as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s annual International IP Index makes clear. Our Founding Fathers specifically protected IP rights in the text of the Constitution, and the U.S. has consistently led the world in protecting IP rights. The relationship between America’s IP protections and our unrivaled innovation and prosperity therefore isn’t coincidental, it’s causal.
So today let us celebrate IP, which accounts for over 40 million American jobs, rewards innovation, incentivizes inventiveness and helps ensure safe and genuine products for consumers.
During the 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney presciently identified Russia as America’s foremost global threat. Barack Obama and his apologists immediately heaped scorn upon Romney, including Obama’s sophomoric “the 1980s called” remark during one debate.
History, however, has vindicated Romney’s pronouncement.
Reflecting upon events since that date, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James stated in July 2015, “I do consider Russia to be the biggest threat.” And none other than Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford proclaimed that same month, “If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I would have to point to Russia, and if you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming.”
To its credit, Congress acted accordingly. Following Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and its broader pattern of malfeasance across the globe, Congress, as part of two consecutive National Defense Authorization Acts, overwhelmingly supported a gradual phase out of purchases of Russian rocket engines through no sooner than 2020. The law could not have been any more accommodating without allowing indefinite purchases of these engines.
Sadly, today some seek to reverse that prudent Congressional action by sending some $540 million more to the Russian government for at least 18 new Russian RD-180 engines. Despite the law unambiguously allowing engines through at least 2020, they claim that they’re needed until a new domestically-manufactured engine arrives in 2019. Those claims, however, do not accord with reality. Senator John McCain (R – Arizona) summarized that reality cogently:
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 ULA’s Delta IV and SpaceX’s Falcon 9, and eventually, the Falcon Heavy space launch vehicles. There will be no capability gap. The Atlas V is not going anywhere anytime soon.”
He further noted that ending reliance would not result in increased costs to the taxpayer.
In fact, according to [the Department of Defense Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation], the cost of meeting assured access to space requirements without the use of Russian rocket engines could be similar to what we pay today.”
Reversing America’s existing prohibition would merely reward Russian behavior and thereby undermine global and national security. As evidence, consider the words of Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin:
The sale of engines benefits our engine making enterprises, in that they use the money for their own modernization… We need the most modern engines that produce more thrust. In order to design them, we need free money.”
Notably, rogue nations like Iran remain prime beneficiaries of Russian rocket technological advances.
The Obama Administration’s infamous “reset” attempt with Russia several years ago stands among its most costly foreign policy misjudgments. We cannot afford to repeat that mistake by failing to learn from our mistakes and rewarding Russia’s worldwide menace.