Friday, November 18, 2011

Protect IP act is no protection

If the Protect IP Act becomes law, it will empower the Attorney General of the United States to blacklist websites without court review. This is like the chief of police of a local community deciding that a group of protesters should not be allowed to assemble in a local park because the local gas station asked the chief.

Many countries around the world allow their citizens to steal copyrighted material and sell it for a profit. China is the biggest abuser. Big corporations through their associations like the United States Chamber of Commerce, the Motion Picture Association of America, the American Federation of Musicians and others have petitioned congress for stricter laws preventing piracy. The act that is working it was through congress is called the Protect IP Act.

One of the provisions of the act would allow the United States Attorney General to blacklist sites that are suspected of piracy. With the big names mentioned above behind the law, the pressure on the Attorney General to block sites would be tremendous. But, he could do it without any judicial review. It would be his or her digression to block a site.

There is the possibility that sites could be blocked that may have an issue with one of the big corporations. Instead of spending their billions challenging the site in court, they could just pick up the phone and ask the Attorney General to take action. There is also a chance that sites could be blocked that are not politically aligned with the administration at the time. With no judicial review, the citizens of the community would have no way of making an informed judgment about the case.

This is clearly a freedom of speech issue.  If the site is on the wrong side of the law, then a simple court review would illustrate it.  Our judicial system is a way of checking the power of the congress and the president. This is a bad law for our community. The prevision about block sites should have judicial review.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Supreme Court Justices should keep an open mind

I guess it gets down to just not caring about appearances.  Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court justices, dined with some very powerful people just the other night.  That, in itself is not worth a blog post. It just happens that these people will be the lead lawyers in the challenge to the Affordable Health Care Act before the Supreme Court in March.  That matters.

Judges at all levels should at the very least look like they have not formed an opinion before a case is argued in their court. Judges at the federal level are nominated by the President and approved by the Senate to keep them out of politics and party positions. If they did belong to a party, it might affect their judgment on cases that come before their court. When nominated, the prospective judge comes before the Senate Judiciary committee to seek approval. At that hearing, it is expected to hear them say that they can’t comment on issues that might come before the court. That might indicate that they are not approaching each case with an open mind. There are many other situations that they should avoid that might prejudice their opinion about issues.

So why is it okay for Scalia and Thomas to have dinner with the lead challengers to the Affordable Health Care Act? This wasn’t just a dinner with some friends. It was a banquet for the Federalist Society. It is an organization that advocates for conservative ideas in government. The dinner was sponsor by two law firms, Bancroft PLLC and Jones Day. Both will be representing conservative interests in their challenge before the Supreme Court. Scalia and Thomas are the featured quests.

Scalia and Thomas have long histories of supporting conservative ideas. This is, of course, their right as citizens of the United States. But, when they are the featured quests at a dinner that wants to get rid of the Affordable Health Care Act, it is no longer just a personal opinion. It is an appearance of already forming an opinion.

This is not in the best interest of our community.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Keep an age limit on hunters in Michigan

Car sales in Michigan and across the country are down. I have a great way to pick up the sales. Let’s remove the age requirement for a driver’s license. That way, even 9 year olds like the one that drove her drunken father around about a month ago will need a car.

Think about it, there must be at least a couple hundred thousand kids between the ages of two and 15 years of age just in Michigan alone. All of them will need a car. Most will get used cars because they will be cheaper. That means the used car market will dry up and make new cars more appealing. Within just a year or two, the auto factories will be booming again.

Problem solved.

What about drivers training and the additional risk on the roads? Oh, but we will sell more cars so it doesn’t matter. Besides, will let parents decide if their child is capable of making good decisions and are able to see over the steering wheel. All parents are good parents. They won’t let their child drive if they are not able to – would they.

Well, if you think this is a good idea, then you will like the idea of handing a 9 year old a high powered rifle and send them out in the woods to hunt deer. The Department of Natural Resources of the state of Michigan has removed any age limit to hunting deer in Michigan starting next year. The reason they did this? The number of hunters is down. So, if they increased the pool of those that are able to hunt – but not necessarily capable of hunting safely – there will be more hunters.

What is even more interesting is that the hunter safety course that is required by the state for new hunters is waived for two years, as a test drive the department says to see if the young hunters will like hunting. That would be like giving license to drive to kids that are as young as 9 for two years to see if they like driving before taking a driver’s education course.

Our drive for money and gun freedoms is over the edge. We are losing sight of the reason there are communities, to build a safe and secure environment for all of us to live. By giving guns to younger and younger children, we are not becoming more secure.

This is a bad idea for Michigan.