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U.S. Senator Wyden Raises Constitutional Questions About ACTA

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the there-would-be-these-rules dept.

Censorship 239

bs0d3 writes "In a written letter which can be found here, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden questions President Obama's authority to sign ACTA without Congressional approval. 'It may be possible for the U.S. to implement ACTA or any other trade agreement, once validly entered, without legislation if the agreement requires no change in U.S. law,' Wyden writes. 'But regardless of whether the agreement requires changes in U.S. law ... the executive branch lacks constitutional authority to enter a binding international agreement covering issues delegated by the Constitution to Congress' authority, absent congressional approval.'"

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239 comments

ya (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37703088)

first

Re:ya (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37703222)

Sorry, you lack the constitutional authority to post first on issues delegated by the Constitution to Congress' authority, absent congressional approval.

I actually agree with the Democrat here (4, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703116)

Trade agreements are a form of treaty, and treaties have to be voted on by the Senate. The Constitution does this for a good reason, preventing the President from unilaterally committing the United States to international agreements. Wyden is right on this. And ACTA is clearly a trade agreement. Send this to the Senate first for a vote.

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (1)

MichaelKristopeit349 (1968132) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703252)

or you could get around this the same way as the "wars", and call it an "international understanding" and let the congressional peons try to stop you.

congress doesn't care about that poing because they are ignorant hypocrites.

international law is an illusion. there is only the exploited and the exploiters.

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (4, Interesting)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703272)

So do I. I'm a crazed far-right Republican, but Wyden is a remarkably sensible Democrat, and the type that can get people to cross party lines to vote for him.

He knows what he's talking about when it comes to technology, and is usually on the correct side on issues such as copyright, privacy, security, etc.

His views on economics are painfully wrong, though.

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37703474)

You're right, trickle-down economics totally works. Just look at all of the evidence no one is citing.

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (3, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703558)

Cue Von Mises/CATO reference in 3,2,1...

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (1)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703768)

What can I say, we breed good Senators in Oregon. We had the very cross-party-lines Republicans in Hatfield and Packwood, now we have the cross-party-lines Democrat in Wyden. (Smith crossed lines occasionally, but also voted against Oregon's voter-mandated interests at times - Merkley hasn't been in long enough for me to figure him out yet.)

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (0)

LVSlushdat (854194) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704046)

I too am a "crazed far-right" Conservative, and a Republican up till about half way thru BushJr's second term. I become ill with what he was doing to this country. I didn't realize then how much WORSE it could get, but now I see clearly with Mr Obama. Bush simply tore up the Constitution, but Obama has turned it into toilet paper, passed it out to his cronies, and all are wiping their asses on it. Back to topic: Even people who are primarily known for their evil often have done good things for the countries they otherwise subjugated. A good example: Adolph Hitler, obviously our poster child for evil, he also orchestrated the building of the autobahn road network in Germany prior to WW2. Similarly, there are some democrats who have not availed themselves of Mr Obama's new toilet paper, and actually seem to still "get" the Constitution. This Senator appears to be one of those rare individuals.. Those who are wondering if I am equating Democrat Senators or Mr Obama with Adoph Hitler.. Keep wondering.. I'm not gonna get "HankWilliamsJr-ed" .....

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (1)

gerddie (173963) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704476)

Even people who are primarily known for their evil often have done good things for the countries they otherwise subjugated. A good example: Adolph Hitler, obviously our poster child for evil, he also orchestrated the building of the autobahn road network in Germany prior to WW2.

Actually, no, Hitler orchestrated nothing, he just happened to come into power around the time the autobahn road network was actually build:

Construction of the Cologne-Bonn autobahn begins in October [1929] - using mostly human labor and very few machines in an effort to create jobs in a period of high unemployment. [...] This first German autobahn segment will be completed in 1932, a year before Hitler comes to power. [emphasis mine]

and

Hitler inaugurates "his" autobahn network with the so-called "first cut of the spade" (erster Spatenstich) near Frankfurt on 23 September [1933]. This would have been impossible without the earlier work of HaFraBa and Stufa in the 1920s.

reference [about.com]

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703312)

Didn't Clinton sign the Kyoto thing, but the Senate never passed it? (Please excuse my memory) At this point, I really have no clue what is law anymore since all 3 branches change it on a whim anymore.

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703382)

Kyoto never became a ratified treaty in the US. Ie, as far as US is concerned, we are not a party to the treaty.

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37703498)

No he didn't. Clinton never signed it because the Senate voted against it 95 - 0. At the very end of his term he did sign an executive order reaffirming America's adherence of Kyoto, but he didn't actually sign the treaty. At that point in time not a one of the 167 signatories of Kyoto had actually ratified it.

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (1)

Politburo (640618) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704162)

Clinton signed the agreement on November 12, 1998. However he never submitted it to the Senate for ratification, because of the 95-0 vote (which was technically a non-binding vote).

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (2)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703362)

You assume the Senate is functioning...

But what about cases where it is not, like now?

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703456)

It seems to be functioning quite well right now.

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (5, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703566)

You assume the Senate is functioning...

But what about cases where it is not, like now?

The Senate is functioning as it was designed to, as a break on both the House and the Presidency. The Senate was never supposed to be a rubber-stamp, for either the President or the House.

  The whole point of a Senate is to have a group of men to take a deep look at what the House (which was always supposed to be the popular voice of the people) passes in the heat of the moment, and it was designed to prevent the President from becoming a Caesar. This is why treaties have to be voted on by the Senate, and why the President's appointments to his cabinet and to SCOTUS have to be reviewed, scrutinized, and voted on by the Senate. This is also why Senators were not popularly elected when the Constitution was written, but appointed by state legislators. The whole idea of the founders was to put a second party into the Congress that was indirectly responsible to the people (via their elected state houses), but not popularly elected, and thus less subject to the passions of the moment. I used to support popular election of Senators, but the older I've gotten, the more I think the founders had it right in the first place, and that the 17th Amendment was a mistake.

Also, if you want things to pass easier in the Senate... the way they do in the House, with a simple majority vote, well, the way is clear here. Just demand that the Senate drop their unique rules requiring 60 votes. That rule is not in the Constitution, but an internal Senate rule (which the Constitution permits).

Just be careful before you demand this. Because if the Senate goes to simple-majority vote, so can future Senates... ones where the other party is the majority.

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (4, Insightful)

eepok (545733) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703834)

I believe the person to whom you reply would contest that your interpretation of the goings-on in Congress is naive. While everyone would agree with the principal as you state:

"The whole point of a Senate is to have a group of men to take a deep look at what the House (which was always supposed to be the popular voice of the people) passes in the heat of the moment," ... few people believe that's what actually happening. We have seen *many* acts and bills passed in the heat of the moment and it's hard to argue that our Senators are as much philosophers as they are self- and party-interested tacticians.

People don't complain about the difficulty of things passing in any house of Congress nearly as much as they do the severe biases that allows some things to pass and others not.

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704274)

During the election bias of that sort seemed to be a selling point.

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (4, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704238)

The whole idea of the founders was to put a second party into the Congress that was indirectly responsible to the people (via their elected state houses), but not popularly elected, and thus less subject to the passions of the moment.

The reason they weren't elected, and why there are two for every state, is that they were intended to be the body that looked out for the interests of the country as a whole and not the specific interests of the state they came from or the voters therein. Ratification of treaties falls squarely under that baliwick, since treaties tend to have an impact on the entire country and not just one or two states. Ditto federal appointments.

The 17th amendment was a big mistake, because now all we have are people looking out for their own skins and getting re-elected instead of looking out for the US. This has turned the Senate into nothing more than a posh version of the House.

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (0)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704356)

Because senators never did that before the 17th amendment right? Oh wait... Seriously are you two that ignorant of history that you don't know the huge amount of corruption that was present in the appointment proceeds of senators before the amendment?

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (2)

Trailer Trash (60756) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704486)

To further your point, the original purpose of the Senate was that they represented the interests of the states, not directly the people. And the states desperately need representation, as we can see now with a federal government that puts onerous regulations on them with no recourse and no direct representation. Note that when I say "states" I really mean the states, not the people living there (who are indirectly the states).

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (2, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704558)

The whole point of a Senate is to have a group of men to take a deep look at what the House (which was always supposed to be the popular voice of the people) passes in the heat of the moment, and it was designed to prevent the President from becoming a Caesar.

Well, no. The point of Congress and the judiciary is to keep the President from becoming a Caesar. The point of the Senate was to give property a voice in Congress to go with the voice of the people over in the House. About a hundred years ago, we got wise to that and changed Senate appointment to a democratic vote of the people, so now it's just a harder way to get into Congress and attracts those who have enough political clout they could wipe their nose on a House seat. They tend to be the more experienced types, and, some time in the past, more deliberate. So it got that reputation as a body.

Now, however, owing to the resurgence of pettiness as the primary means of political discourse, it's indistinguishable from the House except in the cost incurred in stealing the votes necessary to enter it.

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37704016)

No, he assumes that the Senate has authority over international treaties. Whether or not it's working does not affect the rights and requirements of the governmental bodies.

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37703448)

Which one? Obama or the Senator?

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37703504)

What part of "Wyden is right on this" made that confusing for you?

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703774)

Obama seems to be a Democrat in Name Only these days anyway; he's always just caving in and doing whatever the Republicans want, and calling it "compromise". There's little difference between Obama and Bush in fact, and in some ways Obama has been a lot worse than Bush ever was.

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (4, Insightful)

AmElder (1385909) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703548)

I disagree, ACTA is not, at heart, a trade agreement at all. It's a law enforcement treaty focusing on intellectual property. It aims to harmonise the enforcement measure with regard to intellectual property across the signatories. There's evidence for this in every portion of ACTA, but you just have to look at the headings for the two substantive chapters:

  • Chapter II: Legal Framework for Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights
  • Chapter III: Enforcement Practices

This doesn't diminish your point or Senator Wyden's. To quote an excellent article [american.edu] by Sean Flynn, ACTA would affect:

"evidentiary standards required for property seizures and criminal prosecution. It would affect state common law, where many trade secret obligations reside. And primarily it would affect the evolution of federal law, including the large federal statutory enactments on patents, copyrights and trademarks."

The president doesn't have any enumerated (or un-enumerated) powers that cover this territory, indeed, the power to regulate intellectual property, I understand, is an enumerated power of congress (Article I, sec 8 of the constitution). Therefore the agreement should be submitted to congress by the president and more specifically by the USTR under his authority.

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703638)

So, you're arguing that the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (aka ACTA) isn't a trade agreement?

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (1)

Bucky24 (1943328) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703850)

Going off of the title alone does not make it a trade agreement (I haven't actually read it myself, just saying). For example, take a look at the "Patriot Act". The title often does not describe accurately what is in the bill/act itself.

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (2)

AmElder (1385909) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703860)

Exactly, thank you for putting it so succinctly. ACTA was badly named. It is not what it pretends to be. This seems to be a common understanding among people who've studied the treaty. Another good article [american.edu] in the American University Washington College of Law series, this one written by Margot E. Kaminski, say that:

"ACTA is primarily a copyright treaty, masquerading as a treaty that addresses dangerous medicines and defective imports."

The reasons that software professionals and free/open-stuff advocates have opposed the treaty has nothing to do with trade law, and everything to do with the criminal penalties for IP violations and the changing relationship between ISPs and their customer.

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (1)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703882)

So, you're arguing that the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (aka ACTA) isn't a trade agreement?

That does pretty clearly seem to be saying that. Are you having trouble believing that the label attached to something might not accurately reflect its substance or were you making a different point?

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704092)

That's only a working title...

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704416)

And you believe the "People's Republic of China" is a real republic? I'm not saying you are wrong in this case but just because a title says something doesn't make it true.

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704174)

You do not actually disagree with the original poster. You just take a slightly more direct route to the same conclusion. The OP said: ACTA is a trade agreement. Trade agreements are nothing more than a form of treaty. Treaties must be voted on by the Senate. You said: ACTA is not a trade agreement, it is a treaty. Treaties must be voted on by Congress.
I agree with you both. ACTA is not binding on the U.S.until such a time as 2/3s of the Senate vote to ratify it. While Obama can sign it and act on it as law, insofar as anything in it fully falls under the powers of the Presidency, his doing so would not be binding on Congress, or even future Presidents unless it is ratified by the Senate.
Unfortunately for Obama, very little ACTA falls under the authority of the President. Almost all of the provisions of ACTA apply to areas where Congress is explicitly given authority. Of course, that has not stopped Obama before. He recently declared that he was going to give states waivers to the No Child Left Behind Act if they met certain conditions. The problem being that there is no provision in the No Child Left Behind Act for waivers on any basis (and there are no subsequent laws passed by Congress creating such waivers either).

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (0)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704580)

Here's the thing:
If this treaty changes US Law it cannot be enforced, because it is not ratified. Which means it does not matter.

If it doesn't change US Law the problem is not the treaty, the problem is existing US Law.

I suspect what's going on is that US Law is vague, and subject to interpretation. The treaty is probably more vague, but the window of actions permitted by both ACTA and current US Law is probably a lot smaller then the window of actions allowed under current law. Which means Obama's picked an interpretation o US Law that Sean Flynn doesn't like. But "President says he's gonna do legal things Ron Wyden dislikes," makes a much shittier headline then "President to Enforce Unratified Treaty," even tho the former is perfectly true and the latter is by definition false.

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703960)

It's too bad that his objection seems to be over the procedure and not the content (can't read the letter, seems to be slashdotted). Too much to hope for that the senate would be anything other than a rubber stamp on the copyright cartel's legislation. I'm guessing that the senate is mad they don't actually get credit and the associated campaign contributions that signing off on it would get them.

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (1)

AmElder (1385909) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704072)

Presumably he wouldn't bring up the procedural objection if he didn't care about the content. A vote in two chambers of congress would give opponents of the treaty (or agreement or whatever you want to call it) at least two more opportunities to oppose it in public. Congress is more responsive to public mood than the executive branch. I think it was an ambassador who signed the treaty in Japan over last weekend. That's an event that much harder to make a stink about than a vote in the legislature.

Re:I actually agree with the Democrat here (1)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704398)

I'm not sure you're understanding the process here.

The President unilaterally commits us to agreements all the time. That's his job. What he doesn't do is implement those agreements. Thus we signed Kyoto, but we did not ratify it, so it's not the official law of the land.

In this case he's arguing that ACTA doesn't actually change US Law, so there's no need for Congressional approval. In other words he's saying he's already implemented the agreement because the US's current laws require him to do everything he'd have to do to comply with ACTA anyway. For example if you started selling fake iMacs you'd get your ass sued. Do you think the court's gonna say "We must dismiss the lawsuit, because while it is clearly valid, the Obama administration agreed to stop counterfeiting in a treaty that has not been ratified by the Senate, therefore selling fake iMacs is entirely legal until the Executive and Legislative branches resolve the situation."

In other words you shouldn't worry that Obama's not gonna put the treaty to the US Senate. You should worry that, as a US Citizen, you are already bound to do whatever it says by laws already on the books. Like the DMCA.

Since when... (0, Troll)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703128)

has "The One" cared about his constitutionally mandated authority limits? The man violates the Constitution so often he makes GWB look like a rank amateur.

Expect him to tell Congress to take a flying leap, sign the evil thing, and then go back to playing golf with Soros et-al. It's not like Congress will do anything. Even if the Republicans try to impeach him, the Dems running the senate will stop it cold. Nobody else has the authority or will to stop him. So we will be stuck with this monstrosity (like all the others foisted upon us by him) until we can voted him and his buddies out and replace them with people who actually respect the Constitution.

Re:Since when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37703158)

Oh please. Like any other President would do things differently.

Not that signing a treaty means anything. It's a matter of ratification, though the Senator is right that complying with anything that doesn't require a change in the law is acceptable.

Re:Since when... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703280)

In other words, if he signs but it doesn't get ratified, nothing really changes because currently the treaty is fulfilled anyway, and a later change is not blocked by the contract because it was not ratified. On the other hand, if this contract gets ratified, then later the law cannot be changed any more, except by changing the treaty (which is much harder, because everyone who signed and ratified it has to agree).

Given that this is ACTA, which scenario would you prefer?

Re:Since when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37703614)

I prefer the one that realizes that any unilateral action for matters that affects other nations (and of course the multinational corporations) is hardly going to be without the potential for consequences, so...that doesn't matter either.

What, you think that the US or anybody else could do something and they'd just sit quietly and take it, regardless of how it impacted their bottom line?

So...your scenario doesn't matter, the same thing is going to happen either way.

Re:Since when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37703172)

Don't worry, when it is challenged on Constitutional grounds, the US Supreme Court (assuming they take it up) will invalidate it.

We all know which way the Court has sided recently.

Re:Since when... (0)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703250)

We all know which way the Court has sided recently.

Yes, on the proper side of the issue.

Re:Since when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37703174)

You mean there are politicians that respect the Constitution? If you find one let me know, I thought they went extinct years ago.

Re:Since when... (0)

logjon (1411219) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703836)

Al Franken, Ron Wyden, shit I ran out.

Re:Since when... (-1, Offtopic)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703316)

I love how my perfectly on-topic and utterly correct post get's modded down to 0-Troll in 5 minutes.

Remember kids: -1 Troll does NOT mean "I disagree with you."

Re:Since when... (0)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703468)

But it apparently can mean "I haven't bothered to read the post."

I have a recent post that's been swinging wildly between Troll and Informative based on whether people have read the actual text vs. just the title.

Re:Since when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37704038)

Perfectly on-topic? Sure, your rampant anti-President Obama agenda that you masked in a purported criticism was fail and balanced, just like Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.

You can believe your words are the truth, and you're being unfairly oppressed by the vast Left-Wing conspiracy, but maybe, just maybe, it's something to do with your own biases being obvious to everybody but yourself.

Re:Since when... (4, Interesting)

scot4875 (542869) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704250)

Sorry, but anyone referring to Obama as the "Messiah" or the "One" or the "Chosen" or whatever deserves to be modded to oblivion because it's flamebait. Essentially you're insulting both Obama *and* insinuating that his supporters are fanatical, irrational worshippers, without having the balls to come out and say it. It's a nice little straw man for you to attack without putting any effort or thought into it.

I'll admit that I didn't even read the rest of your OP, because I figured it would be more of the same.

--Jeremy

Re:Since when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37704312)

Beat me to it. I was going to reply in much the same way. I read that first line and skipped the rest of his post.

Re:Since when... (1, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703336)

I don't think Obama has reached GWB's level yet unless you include allowing everything GWB did to persist.

To be clear, I do blame Obama for not undoing GWB/Cheney's dirty work. He pretty much promised he would do that. He hasn't and it seems he will not. But to be as bold as GWB in doing so? I am not so sure Obama even approaches that level of gall.

It will be a very long time before we see another black president. It didn't help anything and let's be frank about this -- he was elected BECAUSE he is black... and yeah because he speaks well. (He's a damned good speaker, let's not forget that... when I hear him speak, I want to listen.)

The public in general, learned some important things because of Microsoft. We learned that "the latest whatever" isn't always the best way to go. People stopped upgrading with the newer versions of Windows and Office. They didn't like them. The people have been adjusting to the fact that the same is true of presidents and other things as well. (And economic times are definitely showing us what we "need" versus what we "want" isn't it?)

I am hopeful that people are actually mindful of what they want out of government and do not stop at simply voting someone into office. The occupy movement is evidence that people are waking up to the fact that they have to be heard by government and that they must STAND UP and SPEAK to be heard. (Complaining with your neighbor on the other side of your cubicle isn't going to cut it.)

Re:Since when... (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703602)

he was elected BECAUSE he is black

This is one of my big disappointments with him. I was hoping we'd reach such a landmark with a strong, effective president. Instead, well, look at what we got, the weak community-organizer-in-chief. Looking back, if only Ryan's private divorce matters hadn't been aired, allowing Obama to run effectively unopposed for the Senate, Herman Cain could have been the first.

Same with a female president. I would love to have one, but I hope it's not Hillary, or Bachmann or Palin for that matter. I don't see any others on the horizon either.

Re:Since when... (0)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703706)

It will be a very long time before we see another black president.

The Ku Klux Klan actually supported Obama because they thought he'd mess things up so badly no one would want a black in the White House for the next 50 years. You can read anything you want into that.

Re:Since when... (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703846)

Sure you're not confusing that story with this?

http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/kkk.asp [snopes.com]

Re:Since when... (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704484)

Nope.

Re:Since when... (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703712)

To be clear, I do blame Obama for not undoing GWB/Cheney's dirty work. He pretty much promised he would do that.

Really? I remember him promising to focus more on Afghanistan, and close Guantanamo. He did one, and was out manouvered by republicans on the other. These are the only Bush era items I remember him promising to undo, and neither of them affect our essential rights.

I also remember him supporting the "Patriot" act, and supporting warrantless wiretapping, well before the election. It's always been clear to anyone who paid attention that he was just like Bush.

Re:Since when... (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704460)

You will see Cain in 2012.

Don't send it to Congress. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37703210)

Those morons can't agree on what color the sky is, let alone whether to approve a treaty. They'll all be gone after their next election anyway. Just get it done, Mr. President.

The Constitution? (4, Insightful)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703226)

The Constitution? Pfft.

We've moved past that a long time ago.

Asset forfeiture, warrantless search and seizure, restrictions on the freedom of the press on the internet...

Re:The Constitution? (2)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703344)

Indeed. I documented our lack of what were formerly our rights six years ago. [kuro5hin.org]

Re:The Constitution? (1)

Kid Zero (4866) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703950)

Now I remember why I quit going there years ago. Thanks for the reminder!

Re:The Constitution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37704116)

you quit because you were stupid?

Re:The Constitution? (1)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703952)

Interesting link. Here's one of my favorite lines:

The courts have held that you have no freedom of speech when writing in a computer language.

Re:The Constitution? (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703416)

I'm surprised you didn't add killing [wikipedia.org] and torturing [wikipedia.org] (under the rules put forward by the UN Human Rights Council and Amnesty International) citizens without charges.

But hey, at least nobody's tried to quarter troops in my home yet.

Re:The Constitution? (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703436)

Even in UN sanctioned wars?

What conundrum of a world do you live in?

Re:The Constitution? (1)

codeAlDente (1643257) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704042)

Ah yes, quartering of troops - the one complaint about King George in the Declaration of Independence for which American's have no analogous complaints today.

Re:The Constitution? (1)

elbonia (2452474) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704228)

Amnesty International is a private non-government organization. The UN Human Rights Council is an advisory council and does not have the authority to pass international law, also the United States is not a member of UNHRC.

Re:The Constitution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37704494)

yeah the last time someone tried to do that was what like 1979?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engblom_v._Carey

Re:The Constitution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37703424)

And to think Obama was a constitutional scholar back when he was in law school.

Re:The Constitution? (1)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703678)

are you sure? they haven't released his school transcripts

His were the quickest classes in history (0)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703694)

Simply torch a copy of the Constitution in front of the class and say "Do whatever the hell you want. Class dismissed."

OTOH, I'm not sure he actually ever taught a class. He was given a position there to write his book, then to give him credibility while he furthered his political career. Sweet deal, money for nothing, if you have the connections to get it.

Re:His were the quickest classes in history (1)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704022)

Are you really saying that the black son of a single white mother breezed through law school with his numerous Harvard connections? Really?

This isn't about his law school (2, Informative)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704210)

It's about the cushy position given to him for 12 years at University of Chicago Law School as a lecturer for constitutional law. His colleagues at the school didn't find him to be particularly engaged, as he had other priorities at the time, namely his political career.

His connections were gained while doing community organizing work in Chicago. I have to admit, he is extremely smooth. He'd do anything, pretend to believe anything, live a complete lie, just to get ahead.

This President... (-1, Flamebait)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703234)

This president has been going around Congress on every other possible issue, so why should you expect him to be doing anything different here? Barrack Obama is a lot like Steve Jobs in that he feels that he knows better what is right for us and what we need than we do ourselves.

Re:This President... (1, Insightful)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703364)

Yeah, except you didn't have to listen to anything Jobs said. Obama says you have to buy insurance, better buy insurance or you get fined. But I do see you underlying point, the difference being between a toddler whining "Give me cookies" and a 6'10" thug with a gun saying "Give me your money."

(oh, can't wait to feel the heat on this one)

Re:This President... (3, Informative)

scot4875 (542869) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704338)

No, it was the Republican minority that somehow maneuvered the health care bill into a situation where the individual mandate was the *only* way to pay for it. I'm not sure how else they expected it to work when they took the single payer option off the table.

I'd claim that it was just an unintended consequence, except I'm pretty sure this was *exactly* what was intended. They get to force the issue, then blame Obama for what they did. Brilliant, really, especially considering how many dupes will happily swallow the lie whole as long as it fits with their "Obama and the Democrats are big spenders!" mantra.

--Jeremy

Re:This President... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37704510)

They get to force the issue, then blame Obama for what they did.

"They" didn't sign the bill into law, though. Obama did. He did precisely what they wanted him to do. He willingly and eagerly participated in their plan. He deserves as much blame as they do.

Re:This President... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37703392)

Barrack Obama is a lot like Steve Jobs in that he feels that he knows better what is right for us and what we need than we do ourselves.

I disagree, since most of us did not graduate from Harvard Law School, we are obviously too stupid to be able to function on our own. All hail King Obama, the Harvard graduate!

The difference of Steve Jobs (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703410)

You don't have to buy his products.

Also, Jobs was actually right at times.

Re:This President... (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703422)

The one thing Congress can still do is starve the Executive of money.

Re:This President... (1)

codeAlDente (1643257) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704080)

At the expense of mutually assured destruction, no doubt. Remember the debt ceiling debate a few months ago? Remember when new debt couldn't be issued to fund spending in excess of tax revenue, so the Treasury Dept. started looting government pension funds? Good times...

Re:This President... (3, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703810)

No, he's not. He's a pawn for his corporatist handlers, just like Bush was.

It's a real issue, because of a DoD privilege (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703350)

First, the link to the letter in the article tries to get you to sign up for some file storage service before reading the document. Here's the original from Sen. Wyden's U.S, Senate site. [senate.gov]

The reason this isn't being submitted to the Senate for ratification as a treaty is because of a conflict between the pharmaceutical industry and the Department of Defense. The pharmaceutical industry insists that national governments not be allowed to override intellectual property laws to make low-cost drugs available to their citizens. That's in ACTA. DoD insists that they be allowed to override intellectual property laws when they want to use a technology without paying for patent rights first.

If ACTA were ratified by the Senate, it would be binding on the U.S. Goverment. This would give patent holders rights against the U.S. Government they dont' have now. DoD doesn't want that.

Re:It's a real issue, because of a DoD privilege (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37703462)

Doesn't change the fact that POTUS doesn't have the right to sign it on his own.

Re:It's a real issue, because of a DoD privilege (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703526)

No, but does mean it's a little more complicated than OBAMA SUX!!!1!

Re:It's a real issue, because of a DoD privilege (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37703552)

That won't stop him from trying. Time to replace him with a president that actually believes in what America stands for.

No sensible president would sign this American Communist Tyranny Act anyways.

Re:It's a real issue, because of a DoD privilege (2)

hierofalcon (1233282) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703644)

Neither majority party will allow a candidate to be nominated who wants this at the Presidential level. Occasionally one slips into Congress - like Ron Paul - but neither his own party nor the Democrats like him much there either.

Re:It's a real issue, because of a DoD privilege (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37703876)

Communist, eh?

Sounds like somebody hasn't learned a new schtick.

Either that or you don't know that it's A Corporatist Tyranny Act. And it's more Allied than American, since they're hardly national.

Shit, talk about Sophie's Choice (2)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703806)

Between two really unattractive options, backing DoD or pharmaceuticals, I think we picked the wrong side of that one. Pharmaceutical companies are just about the most corrupt, manipulative organizations around. And I'm not saying that because of some CNN sound bite, I've read some good books by business ethics and public health experts on the topic. This one was not only argumentative but surprisingly scholarly and accessible; great stuff. Profits Before People [amazon.com]

The people in sales and marketing of prescription drugs are seriously the scum of the Earth. They manipulate prices, patents, medical education, public opinion, public policy, and a thousand other things. What makes them especially annoying to me is their constant press statements and ad campaigns about how they're so generous, so sensitive, and how they're practically non-profit in the long run. At least banks and arms dealers occasionally admit it's all about the money.

Re:It's a real issue, because of a DoD privilege (3, Interesting)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703926)

DoD insists that they be allowed to override intellectual property laws when they want to use a technology without paying for patent rights first.

Are you sure? It sounds more like they just want to preserve the Bayh-Dole Act [keionline.org] , meaning if the government helps fund the R&D for a product, they get non-exclusive royalty-free rights to any IP generated from it. I know the DoD has some overreaching powers over IP when it comes to national secrecy or times of war, but I haven't heard of them being able to just use someone's independently-developed patent outright without paying for it (aside from the regular government indemnification from being sued).

Re:It's a real issue, because of a DoD privilege (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37703996)

So a fairly broad International patent treaty being implemented, which in turn stems from a battle about drugs with the Government not wanting pay up on drug patent holders or lose hand against said holders, isn't getting the due Constitutional treatment since it would require them to deal with the actual of patents and the Government paying for use of them.

That's great.... Just great... We are so screwed up as a country!

Why does the USA have to sign? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37703464)

I mean, treaties are for little countries to obey and big countries to ignore. As long as the USA can browbeat every other country into signing ACTA, why do they need to sign it themselves - or were they actually planning to abide by this one?

Ron Wyden Lovenest (2)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703466)

Every time I see Ron Wyden associated with something he's the one asking intelligent questions or proposing reasonable legislation. It's gotten to the point where I have to watch myself to make sure I don't agree with him reflexively.

I'm incredibly impressed with him, and I sure wish *he* would run for president. I'm nauseated at the prospect of choosing between Romney and Obama next year.

Sometimes I even want to do this with pictures of Ron. Secret Love Lair [penny-arcade.com]

Re:Ron Wyden Lovenest (1)

countach74 (2484150) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704202)

Minus the penny arcade bit, I agree entirely. How I wish people in this country would look behind Republican and Democrat. I honestly don't care what party someone is a part of, I care what they stand for and what sort of decisions they're making. We need more like Wyden in office. @Toonol: Not sure why his economics are painfully wrong. I'm not that researched on his economic stance, but from what I can tell it seems like he wants to simply the tax system, remove the big business loopholes, and create incentives for businesses to you know, "do business" in the states. That universally sounds like a good idea to me. Perhaps I've been dooped, though.

Re:Ron Wyden Lovenest (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704458)

If only Wyden didn't completely disregard the Second Amendment. His support of hate crimes legislation (creating "protected classes") and more extensive cell phone wiretapping are also troubling.

But at least more than others he's a good mix rather than a party-line lackey.

Constitution? (1)

englishknnigits (1568303) | more than 2 years ago | (#37703896)

Been a long time since 99% of politicians cared about it, not like they are going to start caring now.

No (D) in the article, must be a conspiracy! (1, Informative)

scot4875 (542869) | more than 2 years ago | (#37704148)

Completely off-topic, but...

Hey, the party affiliation of Wyden isn't mentioned in the article! Where are all of the typical whines about the lib'rul media neglecting to mention that the dude(s) mentioned in the article are (D)s? Oh, is it because he's doing something that's good?

This story is a perfect case to illustrate the confirmation bias of butt-hurt whiners and their persecution complexes.

--Jeremy

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