FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
It’s been a Wednesday without Wikipedia and other major websites. As they go dark to protest two anti-piracy bills in Congress, critics say these bills amount to censorship of the Internet.
While Google hasn't shut down, a black rectangle covers its famous logo urging people to "Tell Congress: Please don't censor the web!"
The web-wide protest is in response to the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, in the U.S. House and the Protect IP Act, or PIPA, now pending before the full Senate.
The battle lines are drawn with Hollywood and major media companies, including CNN's parent company, Time Warner, on one side and Silicon Valley on the other.
If the bill passes, copyright holders could seek a court order to force search engines such as Google to remove links to sites that are offering illegal movies, TV shows, songs, etc. The main targets are foreign websites.
But Internet companies worry they could be punished for users' actions. Google says YouTube would have to go dark immediately if the bill passes, saying "it couldn't function."
On the other side, supporters say that online piracy leads to job losses in the U.S. since content creators lose income. They dismiss accusations of censorship, saying that the bills are meant to fix a broken system that doesn't prevent piracy.
Supporters say this bill won't hurt the average Internet user.
Many in the tech world agree that piracy is a real problem, but they worry about the implications of this legislation, fearing that it's a foot in the door that could lead to further government controls.
Meanwhile the bills that were once expected to sail through Congress have hit rough waters. One Senate aide tells CNN that because of the growing protests, the bill might not even make it to a vote.
Here’s my question to you: Should the U.S. government censor the internet?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
The super committee is a disgrace, and there should be a price to pay for their negligence. Their failure will cost all of us. The national debt continues to spiral out of control, and they did nothing. They knew the consequences of their actions and still chose to do nothing.
They were charged with agreeing on $1.2 trillion in cuts to the national debt over 10 years. Congress borrowed $1.3 trillion just this year alone. It wasn't too much to ask.
Actions are supposed to have consequences. Most of the time they do, unless you're a member of the federal government.
The super committee is just the latest group of politicians to lie to us about reducing government spending. The Simpson-Bowles commission put forth a program for cutting the debt. It was ignored. Likewise the Gang of Six.
Even before the super committee failed, one poll showed Congress' approval rating at an all-time low of 9%. It was the first time Congress scored in the single digits in this poll since the question was first asked in the 1970s.
This same survey shows Americans have less trust than ever in government to do the right thing. And with good reason.
The members of the super committee didn't even have the guts to face the public and tell us they failed. They handed reporters a piece of paper announcing their failure and then disappeared into the woodwork like so many cockroaches.
But the real crime in all this is that most of these 12 people on the committee will probably be re-elected the next time they run for office. And that's something of which we should all be ashamed.
If you or I failed so miserably at our jobs, we would be out on the street. And that's exactly where these folks belong along with the rest of their colleagues who make up our broken government.
Here’s my question to you: Do members of the super committee deserve to be re-elected?
Politicians never learn. They think if they deny something or change the subject when asked about it, that's the end of it. It will just go away.
Well, guess what? It never does. And watching them squirm as that truth dawns on them is priceless.
The latest example: New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, whose Twitter account sent out a lewd picture of a man in his underwear.
This episode was quickly dubbed "Weinergate."
You can't make this stuff up.
The Congressman, Weiner, is insisting his Twitter account was hacked and someone else sent the photo. That's the same excuse former Congressman Christopher Lee, the Republican from New York, tried in February when he was caught sending a suggestive picture of himself to a woman he was hoping to meet on Craig's List. He resigned.
Weinergate would have disappeared if the congressman had answered the question, "Did you send that photograph or not?" Instead Weiner called a CNN producer a "jackass" and carried on like some spoiled 9-year-old. It wasn't the CNN producer who came across as the jackass.
Dodging questions and denying allegations is nothing new. President Bill Clinton said "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." Wrong answer. President Richard Nixon said, "I am not a crook." He was.
And look at the mess John Edwards is in... Facing a possible long prison stretch over allegations he stole campaign funds to support his mistress.
The list of these egotistical so-called public servants is much longer than we have time for here.
Here’s my question to you: Why do politicians think denying an allegation or changing the subject means it will go away?
(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)
In the abstract, it's a noble calling: Support oppressed people's yearning to breath free. Over the years, the United States has made a general practice of coming down on the side of people who are fighting for their freedom. But now that there are a dozen uprisings in the Middle East, it's probably worth taking a closer look to see if it's really that good of an idea.
Syria, for example, has been the scene of unrest since mid-March. The Washington Post reports that the U.S. State Department has secretly financed several Syrian political opposition groups since 2005. The Post reporting was based on diplomatic cables the folks at Wiki-leaks got a hold of. The State Department refused comment on the authenticity of the cables, but a deputy assistant secretary of state said the State Department does not endorse political parties or movements. Baloney.
If you provide aid - military, financial, humanitarian - you do.
In Libya, nobody knows who we are supporting but by participating in NATO-led air strikes, we're supporting someone. And as tensions continue to rise in Yemen, Bahrain, Iran, and elsewhere, we may want to exercise caution about who we are getting into bed with...
Oh, and the other part is we don't have any money. We really don't have any money. And for people in this country who have been unemployed for years, can't find a job and are faced with the thought of their unemployment benefits running out, telling them we're giving cash to a shadowy poorly organized dysfunctional group of malcontents in some faraway middle eastern country ain't going to go down so well.
Here’s my question to you: Should the U.S. be funding rebel groups in the Middle East?
With the midterm elections only months away, Americans are fed up with both major political parties.
A new Gallup Poll shows near record-low favorable ratings for both Democrats and Republicans. The GOP has a measly 36 percent favorable rating - that's only five points above their all-time low in 1998 when the Republican-led Congress voted to impeach President Clinton.
The Democrats aren't much better. Their favorable rating is only 43 percent - just a couple points higher than their record low, which came during the recent health care debate.
Gallup says that low ratings don't usually occur for both parties simultaneously. Typically when one is down, the other is up. But this just goes to show you how disgusted Americans are with politicians of all stripes these days.
Meanwhile in a piece called "Stories that Could Rock the Summer," Politico looks at some of the issues that could shake up the elections in the next couple of months.
At the top of the list, no surprise: The Gulf oil spill - which could continue into August.
Then there's hurricane season - which is expected to be "very aggressive" and could once again put the focus on the government's preparedness, or lack thereof, for a natural disaster. Plus, don't forget all those other oil wells in the Gulf where the hurricanes blow.
There's also the possibility of a summertime terrorist attack which could certainly affect the midterms... and of course there's the economy. History suggests if unemployment is in double digits, that's bad news for the party in power. Right now we're hovering just below 10 percent. And we'll get a big jobs report on Friday.
Here’s my question to you: What stories will shape the debate going into the fall's midterm elections?
A wise person once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Well, by that definition, the American people are insane - because we re-elect the same people over and over again and expect that this time it will be different. They will do right by us.
Here's yet another sign of what low regard we hold Congress in:
A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll shows that just about half of those surveyed say that most Republicans and most Democrats in Congress are unethical.
The poll also shows only one-third of Americans approve of how the congressional leaders have handled their jobs.
Another poll by CBS news shows even worse results for party leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Only 11 percent have a favorable view of Pelosi; and eight percent for Reid. And both these polls were taken before the health care vote.
All this seems to suggest that maybe this will be the year to vote incumbents out of office. Even though history strongly suggests otherwise.
Another survey we recently told you about in the Cafferty File asked: If there were a single line on the ballot that would let you vote out every single member of Congress - including your own representative - would you do it? Half of the people surveyed say "yes."
But we never do. Insanity.
Here’s my question to you: Why do Americans keep voting the same politicians into office if we disapprove of the job they're doing?
It's not just the record snowstorm that's slowing Washington down - it seems nearly impossible for our lawmakers to get anything done in our nation's capital.
Some hoped that by putting Democrats in charge of both houses of Congress and the White House - they might actually get some of the people's business accomplished.
Not so fast. For example - no one can agree on a jobs bill... with some saying Republicans don't want to sign on to any bill that's being pushed by Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Meanwhile more than a year after taxpayers bailed out Wall Street - there's still nothing in the way of real financial reform and the bankers are back to making record bonuses. And what about progress on any of the other president's top priorities? health care? education? energy?
And this is all before Republicans got to celebrating the swearing in of Mass. Sen. Scott Brown, or "Mr. 41" - who will give the GOP enough votes to hold a filibuster.
It's no surprise a new Gallup poll shows Congress at its lowest approval ratings in more than a year. Only 18 percent of Americans approve of the way Congress is handling its job. That's down 6 points in just a month. 78 percent disapprove.
Gallup suggests that this is mostly due to a sharp drop in support among Democrats... down 15 points since last month. Democrats' approval of Congress, which jumped up once Pres. Obama took office, is now at its lowest level since then. Republican and Independent approval of Congress has already been below 20 percent for months.
Here’s my question to you: Is an 18 percent approval rating for Congress too high?
Turns out some lawmakers are all about fiscal restraint - as long as the cuts don't affect their constituents. Not in my backyard, right?
Politico reports about fiscal hawks who are now balking at Pres. Obama's proposed budget cuts. For example:
And on it goes... Missouri's senators - one Democrat and one Republican - are against the president's plans to cut out spending on the C-17 aircraft... the manufacturing represents lots of jobs in St. Louis. And coal-state lawmakers are unhappy with the president's call to eliminate tax breaks for that industry
With midterm elections sneaking up around the corner - once again, politics will trump all. To hell with the nation's skyrocketing deficits. These lawmakers talk a good game about cutting spending, but at the end of the day, that's all it is: Talk.
Here’s my question to you: How can the U.S. reduce deficits when most lawmakers won’t support budget cuts in their own backyards?
The Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (PHOTO CREDIT: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
The Democrats may be in for some trouble come next year's midterm elections.
A new Gallup poll shows 46 percent of registered voters say they would vote for the Democrat in their congressional district if the election were held today; but 44 percent say they'd support the Republican - a virtual tie.
The Democrats held a much larger lead over Republicans for most of 2006 through 2008.
What's interesting here is that the stronger showing by the Republicans comes from the support of independents - who now favor Republicans over Democrats by 45 to 36 percent. In July, it was even.
Another potential sign of trouble for Democrats is Congress' job approval rating - now a dismal 21 percent. Democrats are in charge in both houses.
Historically in midterm elections - the party that holds the White House loses seats in Congress. The average loss is 16 House seats, but some election experts think the Democrats could lose a lot more in 2010.
One analyst says the Democrats have 25 to 30 seats that are "truly vulnerable," plus another 40 where there's a chance of a "competitive race." He says Republicans only have 10 to 15 vulnerable seats.
Even though President Obama's approval ratings have moved back up a little... and Democrats are hoping for results on health care and the economy, those independents - along with seniors - are moving toward the Republican column. And seniors are the group more likely to turn out and vote in midterm elections.
Here’s my question to you: How bad will the 2010 midterm elections be for the Democrats?
Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy should step down because he can no longer do the job he was elected to do. Jeff Jacoby, in a column in the Boston Globe, points out this is through no fault of his own. The 77-year-old Kennedy is battling brain cancer.
The details on his condition have been quiet, but he was too sick to attend the funeral of his sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a couple of weeks ago.
Last week, Kennedy sent a letter requesting a change in Massachusetts law that would allow the Democratic Governor to name a successor to fill a senator's uncompleted term. This would lock in two Democratic votes from that state in the Senate should Kennedy be unable to vote himself.
The current state law calls for a special election to fill a vacated seat until the term is up but that could leave the seat unfilled for five months that would likely fall during a crucial vote on health care reform, which has been Kennedy's cause.
In the letter, Senator Kennedy said he wants his state leaders to change the law and permit a temporary appointment in the interest of the citizens of the state. Nice try, Senator.
In 2004, the law calling for a vacancy to be filled by someone appointed by the Governor was changed at the urging of Kennedy and others. At the time there was a Republican Governor and Democratic Senator John Kerry was running for President. The move was aimed at preventing a Republican Governor from appointing a Republican Senator to fill Kerry's seat if he had won.
Now the tables have turned and Kennedy wants the law changed back. Obviously the senator is not too sick to play some very raw politics.
Here’s my question to you: Is it time for Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy to resign?
Jack Cafferty sounds off hourly on the Situation Room on the stories crossing his radar. Now, you can check in with Jack online to see what he's thinking and weigh in with your own comments online and on TV.
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