MPAA president threatening Congress

25 01 2012

Do you suppose it’s bad form to publicly try to blackmail members of Congress on national TV?  The president of the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) — himself a former U.S. senator — did so this week.  He’s upset that SOPA and PIPA were rejected after the public backlash.  Here’s the story:

In an interview last week, MPAA President Chris Dodd, a former U.S. senator, threatened to cut off campaign donations to members of Congress who vote against legislation the MPAA supports.

After Congress shelved two controversial Web-censorship bills, Dodd told Fox News: “Those who count on quote ‘Hollywood’ for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake. Don’t ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake.”

Free Press Action Fund President and CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement:

“The MPAA is so brazen in its efforts to buy legislation with campaign cash that its leader, himself a former senator, sees nothing wrong with threatening legislators on national TV. We think it’s time that Congress showed that its votes are no longer for sale. The first thing Congress must do is give back the MPAA’s tainted campaign cash or give it to charity. Congress must make it clear to the world that it won’t be bullied into supporting censorship.

Being a former senator, Dodd should know about attempts of bribery and corruption.  Ideally there would be a huge public outcry over his statements, because isn’t it obvious he’s trying to buy votes?

A quick word on SOPA and PIPA, in case you haven’t followed them closely.  They were proposed legislation to stop online piracy, which sounds like a good thing.  We do need to cut back piracy.  Everyone is against piracy, against for the criminals who are stealing software, music, and movies.  But the proposed laws went way too far, making almost any service provider on the Internet liable to be prosecuted if someone puts anything illegal on their website.  The problem with that (besides the bankrupting litigation) is that all these sites would have to moderate every single thing posted on their site.  Imagine someone having to watch every single YouTube video before it could be listed, then checking if it could be copyrighted by someone else… it would be near-impossible.  Maybe someday software will be sophisticated enough to do that, but that’s many years away.


Didn’t Congress announce budget cuts this year?

21 07 2011

Remember when the government recently announced $38 billion in budget cuts?  Sounds great, right?  Even though that’s only a small percentage of the overall budget, at least it’s something!  (I wasn’t sure if Congress knew how to reduce spending.)  Well, the Congressional Budget Office has analyzed the fiscal 2011 spending deal that Congress is voting on, and concluded that the spending cuts are just $352 million (with an “m”).  That’s less than .01% of what they had claimed to be cutting.

I know, there’s different ways to look at it.  Supposedly they are cutting some of what they wanted to spend.  But comparing the 2011 budget to the 2010 budget revealed only $352 million cut.  So I guess they were saying they’re saving billions by not spending more…

I wrote the above a few weeks ago but never published it, for whatever reasons.  But now it’s even more relevant, with the debt ceiling crisis.  I’m sure the situation is very complicated in a number of ways, but here’s how I see it.  Congress has to budget all their spending for the upcoming year, right?  I think it’s a legal requirement that they have to do that.  Now they supposedly don’t have the funding to pay Social Security and Medicare if they don’t raise the debt ceiling.  But these are expenses that are known ahead of time.  The exact amount may vary from month to month, but they shouldn’t be surprised at these bills due next month.  So why don’t they have the money to pay for it?  Have they already spent the money on something else?  And what happened to the budget cuts they were bragging about a few weeks ago?

Nancy Pelosi is against deficit spending

19 11 2010

These days, almost every official statement made by a member of Congress is recorded on video, so it should be easy to prove when someone lied.  I just came across this news article about Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s inaugural address as speaker of the House in 2007, and I had forgotten she said this:

“After years of historic deficits, this 110th Congress will commit itself to a higher standard: Pay as you go, no new deficit spending.  Our new America will provide unlimited opportunity for future generations, not burden them with mountains of debt.”

There’s a video clip of that statement at that link, and it’s quite ironic how she pointed emphatically on each word of “No… new… deficit… spending!”   She put a lot of emphasis on that and got a positive reaction from the audience.  But after a few years, we see how serious she was about that.   Since that day, the national debt has increased by $5 trillion.  So not only did she not keep her word — she went in the total opposite direction with record deficit spending.  Shouldn’t she have to answer for that?

I’m sure she would like to pass the blame around, but the U.S. Constitution states that the federal government cannot spend any money that has not been approved by congressional appropriations, which originate in the House.  So she was involved when all that money was spent.

I realize Nancy Pelosi isn’t the only incompetent politician and it’s certainly not all her fault — blame lies on both sides (though some people make it worse than others).   We need to hold our elected officials accountable, by calling them, and most importantly, with our vote.  If they don’t do what they’re supposed to do, we should vote them out in the next election.   We saw some of that this year (2010), but some people still got re-elected who haven’t been responsible.  If they realize their job is at stake, they’ll listen to the people more.   But even if they still ignore us, we can elect someone who listens to their constituents.

Obama’s enemy, plus reckless spending

4 11 2010

President Obama recently told Latinos that they need to vote, to punish their enemies and reward their friends, to get things accomplished in Congress.  It seems fairly obvious he is talking about Republicans and Democrats.  Is that kind of language really necessary?  It sure isn’t helping things.  Wasn’t he supposed to bring unity and stop the bipartisanship?  That kind of talk is polarizing.  Instead of “change” it sure sounds like politics as usual (or worse than usual for the President to be saying that).

You can hear it for yourself in a video at this page: Obama — Conservatives are the “enemy”.

There’s another video on that page that shows Obama saying Republicans don’t know how to run the country, that they can come along for the ride but they have to sit in the back seat.  (He was referencing a car in the ditch analogy.)

Obama has had his chance — the Democrats controlled both houses, and they’ve had two years, yet the country doesn’t seem better off.  I know, it takes a while to turn things around, but it seems like reckless spending will make it take longer to turn around…  The bills have to be paid someday, with interest…

While I’m ranting about the national debt, consider it in this perspective: Obama blames Bush for the bad economy.  It’s politics-as-normal to blame the other party for the current problems, and that way you’re saying it’s not your fault for how things are.  There is some truth to that last part — each president does have an impact on the next president’s term, regardless of which political party they’re part of.  Just like Bush’s overspending made it tougher on Obama’s administration, Obama is overspending and making it tougher on the next president.  Actually, this has been going on for 40 years!   According to, Congress has spent more than its income every year since 1969.   (I know, supposedly Bill Clinton balanced the budget some years, but perhaps his budget was more than the income — not a stretch, since Obama’s is, too.)  My point is, every president for 40 years is making it tougher on the next one, and someday, one of them will run out of credit and actually have to spend less than they take in.  (Consider this, too — in 2006, the U.S. government spent $406 billion just on interest for the national debt!  The debt is much higher now, therefore the interest will be higher, too.)   It is irresponsible to keep spending recklessly and letting someone else deal with the problem…

majority of Americans distrust the government

20 04 2010

According to a survey of about 5,000 people, the majority of Americans distrust the government.  That’s not too surprising these days.

Digging deeper into the statistics, 56 percent of Americans are frustrated with the current administration, and 21 percent are angry.  Only 22 percent of Americans say they trust the government most of the time.

This must be part of that right-wing extremist conspiracy theory I’ve heard about, promoted by FOX News and hyped by the supposedly far-right “tea parties”.  Oh, wait, this was published at The Washington Post?  Hmm…

how much the global warming summit cost us

30 01 2010

Remember when several of our Congressmen went to Copenhagen for a climate summit on global warming?  The Congressional expense reports have been filed, so we can now see what it cost the taxpayers.  You should probably be sitting down if you’re prone to get upset at government waste.

At least 106 people went on the trip, including spouses, a doctor, a protocol expert, and a photographer.  For the 21 Congressmen, their food and rooms cost over $2,200 a day — each!  (That’s considerably more than most Americans spend on their monthly mortgage payment!)  That appears to be living it up, especially when our economy is in such bad shape and our Congressmen keep having to increase the national debt!  Some of the Congressmen and their staff admit they never even saw the bills or the expense reports.  That shows how closely they’re watching their spending…

The total bill was over $1.1 million, and that doesn’t include President Obama’s administration officials, which was over 60.

There’s more details at this link: My Congressman Went to Freezing Denmark for a Global Warming Treaty and All I Got Was a $1 Million Bill.

Is American capitalism going away?

27 06 2009

There’s a blog post by a Russian writer that has been getting a lot of attention, and for good reason.  He claims American capitalism is gone and Americans hardly put up a fight.  Obviously it’s not completely gone, but we do appear to be on that path.   I still cling to the hope that the current trend is reversible, and that our country’s leaders will choose to reverse it.

Before I get started on all that, here’s the article:

American Capitalism Gone With a Whimper

By linking to that, I’m not saying I completely agree with everything he said.  There are generalizations which certainly don’t apply to everyone.  And I’m not sure how right he is about all his claims and predictions.  But he does make some good points, and it is something to think about.

I wonder if the members of Congress are fully aware of the direction our country is headed and support that.   There’s no way for us to know, because most of them won’t give a clear answer to a question like that — they talk about doing what is necessary for our country.  But the question is, what do they think is best for our country?  Do they support socialism or Marxism or communism?  I’ve heard that some do.

I also wonder what the American people want.  We are the people who elected most of these officials.  We should be making our voice heard through the voting process and by writing and calling our representatives.  But then I wonder about something said in that article: “Americans know more about their favorite TV dramas than the drama in DC that directly affects their lives.” Is that true?  I sure hope not, but I’m somewhat scared of the answer.  I’m reminded of a quote by Homer Simpson (who of course is a cartoon, yet that show sometimes makes some points through satire): “The reason we have elected officials is so we don’t have to think!”  (By the way, the irony of that last reference is not lost on me.)

The point is, if we don’t like the direction our country is headed, we need to speak up.   Contact your representatives; you may think they won’t listen, but what’s important to them is getting re-elected.  If enough people call them, they’ll listen, because they need your vote.   And we need to study the issues and how the candidates vote, before the next election.  If we vote for someone just because of their party affiliation or just because they talk the smoothest, then we have to share some of the blame for our elected officials and the mess they’re making of our country.