First of all, the leaks don’t change realities on the ground as much as they reveal the direness of the situation in the Middle East. In spite of the Obama administration’s disinclination to use military force against Iran, the geopolitical realities of the region have not changed much since the Bush years. This is still a region on the verge of a major war, and neither the new sanctions on Iran or the Obama administration’s limited engagement has changed this reality.
As he prepares to take on the role of House Speaker, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) has pledged to bring a new era of bipartisanship to Congress. "I think the best leaders are very good listeners," said Boehner in October. "Because if you are not listening, you cannot lead."
That’s the surprising argument being made against bipartisan legislation to address the huge and growing problem of online piracy. U.S. law enforcement officials have strong tools to shut down websites based in this country that deceive consumers into purchasing illegal movies, music, television shows, books, video games, and computer programs.
They’re called rogue sites, and they exist for one purpose only: to make a profit using the Internet to distribute the stolen, illegally copied and counterfeited goods and ideas of others. The economic impact of these activities—millions of lost jobs and dollars—is profound. That’s why dozens of labor organizations, businesses and trade groups have come together to support legislation that will provide the Justice Department with new enforcement tools to combat this growing menace to the American economy.
Few things are more frustrating to a former Congressman than to see a law he sponsored twisted in a way that undermines its intended purposes. Unfortunately, this is precisely what has happened during the last few years with the 1992 Cable Act, and in particular, with the provisions I sponsored dealing with “retransmission consent.” These provisions require a cable operator or other video provider to obtain a broadcast station’s permission to retransmit the broadcast signal to subscribers (unless the broadcaster elects a different option called “must carry”). Our goal was to ensure that the public would retain access to local broadcast programming as cable television gained in power and influence. But today, more than ever, broadcasters are using these provisions to claim that the Act gives them license to pull their signals from video providers and their subscribers unless these providers agree to pay rapidly rising fees. In essence, broadcasters are exploiting a law designed to prevent consumers from experiencing service disruptions to justify blackouts. This just happened in the New York and Philadelphia area, where Fox blacked out its network stations to three million households during the baseball playoffs and World Series.
In an opinion I wrote on behalf of Broadband for America, I pointed out that “as a legal matter the language of the statutes enacted by Congress, the unbroken line of previous FCC decisions and the reasoning of the Supreme Court’s Brand X decision” make reclassification “unlikely to survive judicial scrutiny.”
At times, the political battle over net neutrality regulation recalls the tragic mythological tale of Sisyphus, who could never quite push that rock all the way to the top of the hill. When Congress shut down for re-election campaigning earlier this month rather than consider a neutrality compromise from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), it appeared at first blush that a resolution had again slipped away. But a closer look suggests the key players are edging toward an agreement that would preserve an open Internet for consumers while also enabling continuing business investment that would expand Internet capabilities and create jobs to help the economy.