Call to action from the EFF:

US Congressional Representatives Ron Wyden and Darrell Issa insist that the American people have a right to know what the US is seeking in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) with respect to
intellectual property rights (IPR).
They have co-authored a letter to Ron Kirk [PDF], the head of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) that is leading the US delegation in the TPP
negotiations, asking him to reveal what the USTR is seeking in the intellectual property chapter.

Specifically, they call attention to its provisions that will impact digital freedoms:

Disciplines related to IPR could impact how people gain access to the Internet and could constrain what people may say online or how they can collaborate and share content. It is imperative that the IPR
chapter of the proposed TPP agreement not inappropriately constrain online activity. Poorly-constructed IPR disciplines that erode Internet freedom could impede innovation, economic growth, and speech.

Given the Internet’s increasing role in facilitating American exports of digital goods and services, it is crucial that they do not tip the balance in IP enforcement in a way that will only further restrict
Internet freedoms and users’ digital rights. The letter concludes with their request that the USTR convey to the American people whether other obligations they are pursuing in the agreement will promote an
open and free Internet.

EFF welcomes this Congressional effort in fighting for a democratic and transparent process. The terms of international free trade agreements do not just impact the way in which businesses engage in
international commerce; these agreements actually shape many domestic policies. As EFF has reported in the past (check out our infographic), the TPP is a secretive, multi-national trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive IP laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on IPR enforcement. TPP is a terrible model for trade agreement for the 21st century, and its main problems are two-fold:

(1) IP chapter: Leaked draft texts of the agreement show that the IP chapter would have extensive negative ramifications for users’ freedom of speech, right to privacy and due process, Internet liability, and hinder peoples’ abilities to innovate.

(2) Lack of transparency: The entire process has shut out multi-stakeholder participation and is shrouded in secrecy, which has raised concerns on its constitutionality.

Help us call on all Congress members to step-up and join this letter [PDF] to fight back against these backroom dealings to regulate the Internet!


Day 3. I came close to cracking late yesterday afternoon, but managed to restrain myself. Boy, the craving is really strong! Fortunately, it was almost dinnertime and that scratched the itch.

Why Bill Clinton’s speeches succeed

James Fallows:

Because he treats listeners as if they are smart.

That is the significance of “They want us to think” and “The strongest argument is” and “The arithmetic says one of three things must happen” and even “Now listen to me here, this is important.” He is showing that he understands the many layers of logic and evidence and positioning and emotion that go into political discussion — and, more important, he takes for granted that listeners can too.

The main other place you hear discussion based on the same assumption that people of any background, education level, or funny-sounding accent can understand sophisticated back-and-forth of argument and counter-claim is sports-talk radio. (“I understand the concern about Strasburg’s arm. But … “) You hear insults and disagreements and put-downs on sports-talk discussions. You rarely hear the kind of deliberate condescension, the unconcealable effort as if talking to slow learners, of many political “authorities” addressing the unwashed.


A new book:

Lying is, almost by definition, a refusal to cooperate with others. It condenses a lack of trust and trustworthiness into a single act. It is both a failure of understanding and an unwillingness to be understood. To lie is to recoil from relationship.

By lying, we deny others a view of the world as it is. Our dishonesty not only influences the choices they make, it often determines the choices they can make — and in ways we cannot always predict. Every lie is a direct assault upon the autonomy of those we lie to.

Trusting the voters

You know, I think this David Dayen post on the Clinton speech explains for me why I have such an instinctive mistrust of Barack Obama. He doesn’t really try to explain his policies to the voters, he simply tries to manipulate them. (Remember the public option pledge?) The man has spent his first term trying to cut back-door deals on Social Security and Medicare. My feeling is, if he thinks he had a really good reason to do so, he should discuss it out in the open:

Bill Clinton is one of the few politicians that bothers to try and tell the public what is happening in their lives and how that connects to what happens in Washington. It’s shaded to his advantage, like approximately every politician ever. And I don’t agree with all of it – he tried to peddle some structural unemployment stuff that economists agree on all sides pretty much agree with.

But this is a deficit in our politics. The public has a very low political literacy, and one of the reasons for that, despite a dysfunctional media, is that politicians don’t bother to take the time to explain the consequences of their policies. This leaves them reaching for their own trusted sources, and open to the worst kinds of distortions. Clinton, in his down-home kind of way, tried to reel back those distortions. He fact-checked the Republicans on welfare. He fact-checked them on Medicare – and in so doing, downplayed a bit the potential effects of cutting provider payments on access to hospitals and doctors, but SO WHAT? I’m tired of this belief that we cannot cut pay for vastly overpaid health care providers. Anyway, the providers voluntarily agreed to the cuts, because they knew they’d get more customers in the bargain. And Medicare Advantage lost some of its subsidies and now has more subscribers at a lower cost. Clinton got into that.

Go read the rest.

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