Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 13, 2010

COMPETES ACT SCUTTLED BY PORN PROVISION.... Just another day on Capitol Hill, where mature lawmakers, given enormous responsibilities, shape federal policy for 310 million people.

House Democrats had to scrap their only substantive bill of the week Thursday after Republicans won a procedural vote that substantively altered the legislation with an anti-porn clause.

Democrats had labeled their COMPETES Act -- a bill to increase investments in science, research and training programs -- as their latest jobs bill. It was the only non-suspension bill Democrats brought up all week.

But the Republican motion to recommit the bill -- a parliamentary tactic that gives the minority one final chance to amend legislation -- contained language prohibiting federal funds from going "to salaries to those officially disciplined for violations regarding the viewing, downloading, or exchanging of pornography, including child pornography, on a federal computer or while performing official government duties."

Fearing campaign attack ads, 121 Dems voted for the Republican motion, fearing they might be labeled pro-porn. Democratic leaders ultimately pulled their bill from consideration and vowed to tried again next week.

"It's absurd," Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) said. "It's specious, and it's disgusting. And those are the nicest things I can say about it."

I often wonder what Congress would be like if Republicans were serious about lawmaking and public policy. Maybe someday we'll find out, but I don't imagine that day will come soon.

Steve Benen 4:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (16)

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Well, we know what it would be like if they were trying to pass legialation rather than block legislation -- it would be like Arizona on a national scale, with a touch of Oklahoma and perhaps a soupcon of Florida.

Posted by: Steve M. on May 13, 2010 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Vote down the amendment and proceed. Show some guts. If the voters are stupid enough to fall for attack ads, and they are, then why bother to try to serve them? Do you what think is right and then let them vote in their own ruin.

Posted by: JMG on May 13, 2010 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

I often wonder what Congress would be like if Republicans were serious about lawmaking and public policy. Maybe someday we'll find out, but I don't imagine that day will come soon.

Steve, you'll have to look to the past to see anything like that. The modern Republican Party is dedicated to the complete subjugation of the lower classes to the corporations. Since they can't possibly run on the truth, they have discovered the art of the substanceless campaign.

They will continue to perfect it with the aid of the ever-more-concentrated corporate media.

Posted by: Gummo on May 13, 2010 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

I wondered why the bill simply couldn't be passed with the porn amendment, so I clicked through to the link. The amendment did more than prohibit paying suspended people with federal funds:

The GOP motion also stopped all funding authorizations in two years as opposed to the five years contained in the original bill, abolished each new program established through the legislation, and froze all existing programs at their current funding levels until the federal budget is balanced.

Posted by: Old School on May 13, 2010 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

"It's absurd," Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) said. "It's specious, and it's disgusting. And those are the nicest things I can say about it."

Hmmm. Is he talking about Congress or the tactic that scuttled the bill? It applies either way.

Posted by: electrolite on May 13, 2010 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Or the gummint could just buy blocking software.

If I ::ahem:: accidentally click on a forbidden site (which for some strange reason includes The Onion...) I get a big honkin' nasty popup that blocks me.

My company, which employs roughly 30,000 people, can do it. I bet the gummint can, too, if they really try.

Posted by: efgoldman on May 13, 2010 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the clarification, Old School. Now the story makes more sense. It's not just a prurient amendment, it's a poison pill, dressed up in moralist's clothing. I wish Steve had gone into more detail on this one.

Posted by: Kevin Ray on May 13, 2010 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Agreed, thanks, Old School, for clicking the link so we wouldn't have to.

They turned the jobs bill into little more than a continuation of existing programs. This is VERY good strategy by the GOP. New jobs are precisely what they do NOT want right now with unemployment already threatening to sink.

The Dems should push that theme hard. GOP as job killers. Politics before paychecks. They HATE a good economy if it doesn't help THEM.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on May 13, 2010 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

Where this ultimately ends up, is a convoluted watered down window dresser, and the Reputhugs will still use some other glaring sensationalist over simplification pulled from teabagger's meme to trounce the opponent come fall. Oh...and they will also point out the vacuous legislation the Dems put out that the majority of Repugs will not have touched. Grayson needs to mentor his colleagues on how to handle these jack-offs: Write effective no frills legislation, shove it down their god-damn throats and get a nasty campaign manager if you need one come fall. Until the Dems figure out there is not going to be any legitimate compromise with these idiots, they will remain stuck in this spiral down pattern.

Posted by: H.Finn on May 13, 2010 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Speaker: Then it is unanimous, we are going to approve the bill to evacuate the town of Springfield in the great state of --
Congressman: Wait a minute, I want to tack on a rider to that bill: $30 million of taxpayer money to support the perverted arts.
Speaker: All in favor of the amended Springfield
slash-pervert bill?
[everyone boos]
Speaker: Bill defeated. [bangs gavel]
Kent Brockman: I've said it before and I'll say it again: democracy simply doesn't work.

--Bart's Comet

Posted by: Grumpy on May 13, 2010 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

Efgoldman: most government computers, in my experience, do have blocking software. A major reason for the rapid growth of facebook a few years back in DC is that the many agencies blocked myspace.the problem with depending on blocking software is that it is notoriously uneven, and blocks absurd things and often misses the good stuff. Do you just block all video, save that from preapproved sites? Porn has a way of getting through.

Posted by: Northzax on May 13, 2010 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

@ Northzax

Well I'm certainly not a software guru, and I don't even play an IT specialist on TV, but I think my company (a big, but honest, financial services giant) wrote its own blocking software.

It prevents access to:
- all email clients except our own internal Outlook (altho it allows email to and from everyone and everywhere).
- also has a pretty aggressive, but not overwhelming, email spam filter, which allows user settings.
- all social networking sites. every one.
- and certain sites, most of which you'd expect to be blocked. Anything vaguely adult. And The Onion, which I can't figure.

The primary bias of the system is not inappropriate content (altho it does that) but rather to completely shut out malware. There is some history in the company of some people being too dumb or too unsophisticated to know not to open strange emails or attachments. Also the company is (properly) paranoid about hacking customer and other confidential data.

Posted by: efgoldman on May 13, 2010 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

"if Republicans were serious about lawmaking and public policy"

I think they've made it very clear that they're quite serious about lawmaking and public policy: they think democratic processes are the worst way to go about doing it, and they're trying to sabotage it to put it back into the hands of a hereditary aristocracy.

It's really not any more complicated than that.

Posted by: s9 on May 13, 2010 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

I sure hope the Democrats are taking notes for the next time they are in the minority.

Posted by: bucky on May 13, 2010 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

"I often wonder what Congress would be like if Republicans were serious about lawmaking"

Same goes for the dems who just retreated while pissing themselves in abject terror of voting against this oh so cunning ploy. "Oh lord, think of the campaign commercials!"

For fuck's sake grow up and govern or go the fuck back home. Shitheads.

Posted by: Tlaloc on May 14, 2010 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

We had a pretty good handle on most users, and then an IT guy got caught with extra hard drives on his power desktop unit, to hold all the porn. Then he was selling it on DVDs to his cronies. !! s all True!

Some of the porn was pretty young looking girls, so we called the city police, who brought the macine back a month or two later, we don't have time to mess with this, they said.

AT least he lost his job over it. He was a total do-less luser otherwise.

So I'm not that opposed to porn restrictions, but the rest of the story is that they attached a lot of typical hateful Repug stuff to the amendment, as well as the anti-porn stuff, so even if passed it wouldn't do what was needed. They wanted to make it so they could claim the Democratic party is in favor of porn!


Posted by: SSmitty on May 14, 2010 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK
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