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Lamar Smith trying to quietly revive SOPA (boingboing.net)
222 points by MRonney on July 10, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 47 comments



Pedantic --

This link to boingboing is a re-post of techdirt [1] who did the research after reading it on politico [2]

[1] http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120709/12574819634/lamar-...

[2] http://www.politico.com/morningtech/0712/morningtech506.html



I read this bill earlier today, and it most certainly is NOT an attempt to "revive SOPA." Both BoingBoing and TechDirt sensationalize what this is.

Rep. Smith's new bill is basically an agency shuffle of the already-established IP attache program, which is currently under the US Patent and Trademark office. Smith's bill would move this office to the Department of Commerce, and turn it into a full agency. That likely means beefing up efforts to expand the promotion of US IP laws around the world. But it is not even close to establishing DNS blocking, or any of the other truly problematic parts of SOPA.


This was my prediction [1] back around the time that SOPA died. Not that it isn't obvious or anything.

All the pieces of SOPA/PIPA/whatever will turn up somewhere. They know they can't cram the whole thing through at once, so it's fairly likely that the bits will just turn up in other bills -- I can see last-minute amendments to big spending bills as a great way to get this stuff pushed through before there can be much outcry. Once they're passed, they'll be really hard to undo.

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3884959


It's almost impossible to undo them later, because people care a lot less for some reason, after it's already passed, and because even the new politicians that replaced the old ones won't bother to look into it.

Basically, we already have a "SOPA" that was passed in 2008. It's called the Pro-IP ACT, and they use it to take down hundreds of .com, .org or .net sites. SOPA was just the foreign version of Pro-IP Act, meaning it targeted foreign domains as well.

Still, you don't see many people talking about the Pro IP Act. Heck, we can't even undo the Patriot Act, and that one has been a lot more controversial, let alone "Internet bills" like these that don't interest that many people outside outside the online tech communities.


The Patriot Act didn't need to get 'undone.' It came with a time limit, and Congress has been basically hitting the snooze button every time it comes up for renewal.


I wish we could vote this guy out of office. Unfortunately, with his big money backers, I doubt he'll be leaving anytime soon.


Perhaps after this, his corporate backers will realize that the Internet is scrutinizing his actions too much for him to ram through their unpleasant legislation, and will find a new hero.

Okay so it's not the justice you get in a Hollywood movie, I admit. Thus I think the solution to both problems is to stop watching Hollywood movies. ^_^;;


It might be kind of interesting to form an internet hit squad. Identify politicians we want voted out of office, and analyze their constituency and potential people to replace them, and then descend upon their district en masse to convince the voters to back someone else.

I don't know if it's feasible, but I think it would be interesting to at least see what it would take.


Sheriff Mack was "the Internet's" candidate of choice to run against Smith. Unfortunately he lost the primary, with Smith winning nearly 80% of the vote.

It really bothered me to the primary results so skewed in Smith's favor. Most of the people who pulled the trigger for him probably either never heard of SOPA, or if they had, didn't know he was the bill's sponsor. (Not that his malfeasance is limited to SOPA, of course.)


I saw this in a discussion yesterday: his district is heavily gerrymandered http://lamarsmith.house.gov/District/InteractiveMap.htm and he's been in office for 25 years, winning by a large margin every time.

I'm not sure what even a fully-engaged angry internet mob could do about that.


Form a crowdfunded corporation and direct mail every household in his district to annoyance until his district removes him.


Hmm. A daily direct-mail, direct-phone, etc campaign that appears to come from him (paid for by The Committee to Teach about Lamar Smith), until people can't stand the thought of his name anymore. It doesn't have to be a hate-campaign. Make it reasonable, just non-stop.

I wonder if that could work or if it would backfire.


To me, this means that "the Internet" has no idea who the voters who voted for Smith are, and why my idea was specifically focused on finding out.


It's called a lobby. There are all kinds of them out there to study: NRA, pro/anti abortion, doctors, lawyers, unions, and so on and so forth.


Actually, what I meant was that people would actually talk to the voters themselves. That's not lobbying; that's campaigning.


Lobbying groups do that too: the US is a democracy, so influencing voters directly is a useful approach at times.


I would donate money to the "anti-Lamar-Smith" fund. Perhaps we could fund a couple billboards in his area.

Would be very nice as a way to send a clear message to other politicians stupid enough to pull these stunts.


> I would donate money to the "anti-Lamar-Smith" fund. Perhaps we could fund a couple billboards in his area.

This happened.

"Reddit's" Political Action Committee, "Test Pac", was raising funds to put billboards all over his district[1]. I'm not sure if that was aimed more at the primary, which Smith won, or at the general election. I think it's the latter.

Breadpig also raised funds for a billboard around the time of the primary[2], and I believe there actually was a billboard up in the district as a result of this. It may still be up.

[1] http://www.testpacpleaseignore.org/unseatlamar/

[2] https://www.crowdtilt.com/campaigns/dont-mess-with-the-inter...


This already happened and Smith won the primary with an overwhelming majority.


It's been already done by http://www.reddit.com/r/rpac. They still lost. A couple of billboards are not enough to change the minds of the people who have been voting for him term after term. Plus, most probably weren't even aware of what he did/or didn't care.


>They still lost.

FWIW it was only the primary.


His district is comprised of rural areas and wealthier parts of Austin/SA in a republican state, so that seems highly unlikely unless he somehow alienates his base and faces a strong republican challenger.


It's an interesting test. Reddit / "the internet" would have to find a candidate who could win in that district that they could support.

It would involve some serious value judgments and compromises (a liberal dem is not going to get elected there), and my bet would be that they simply are not capable of it in the end.


Please don't make the assumption that just because Texas is Republican state, that other Republican / conservatives are in support of this bill!

I'm a conservative, and there is no way that I want to see this bill or any lesser / related version of this bill be passed EVER.


I'm not making that assumption, but perhaps I am assuming/implying that this issue isn't enough on the radar of most republicans to have much of an impact in a primary race. And as noted by waterlesscloud, a democrat can't win this district.


Instead of encouraging folks write to their congressmen, let's write write to the constituents living in his district (Texas's 21st congressional district). Or better, let's crowd fund a campaign against him there. Congress needs a good example of what happens if the internet gets crossed.

I'm just an idea guy.


   When I first started getting involved with [grass roots 
   politics], I didn't understand the concept of no leaders. 
   I thought I did; but I didn't. And I'd go up to the 
   nearest alpha male or alpha female and say, "Here's what 
   you should do - Why don't you do this - It'd be great if 
   you all did this - And when are you going to do this?" 
   And they'd give you this look, that I never understood, 
   which was kind of ...

   I think, "Weird". And I'd go up to the next alpha, "When 
   are you going to do this - It'd be great if you did this 
   - Why haven't you done this yet - Why don't you do this 
   - It'd be wonderful if you did this?" And again, they'd 
   give me this look, like ...

   And after a year, the penny dropped, and I finally 
   realised what that look meant, because they won't tell 
   you, because that would be hierarchical, right? What this 
   look meant was, "Yes, good Idea, why don't you do it 
   yourself? You print the leaflets, I'll distribute them; 
   you call a meeting, I'll attend; you organise an action, 
   we'll come along".

   And from that moment, I realised that, my whole 
   philosophical outlook changed. And from then on, instead 
   of suggesting things other people could do, I stopped 
   suggesting things all-together, in-case they expected me 
   to do them..." - Robert Newman 
[http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5267640865741878159 and http://www.peakprosperity.com/forum/robert-newmans-history-o...]


I love Robert Newman's History of Oil! It is a brilliant stand-up mockumentary! "An American plan for democracy in the middle east..."


That is a great idea, please join up with others doing the same: http://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/u8qtd/texas_reddit...

They have funded a billboard: http://fightforthefuture.org/billboard and a TV commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhBBZnSpDwY

He still won his primary but you can join to help defeat him in the general election.


I just want to point out that those were done by two different groups - the commercial was from TestPAC, a PAC started and run on Reddit. They also put up a billboard. Fight for the Future is separate. The thread you linked to on reddit was a post by Andy Posterick, Treasure of TestPAC

(Disclaimer: I helped do the TestPAC billboard and commercial as an officer in the PAC)


Unfortunately, this is only a larger symptom of the role money plays in congress. I don't see bills like this stopping any time soon. sigh


The role money plays in congress is only a larger symptom of the overreaching power of the Federal Government, which in turn is a larger symptom of an apathetic, uninformed, and not-too-bright population of voters.


I'll all for punishing politicians that do stupid things. I believe the best punishment is booting them out during their primaries, but let's not split hairs.

And I'm hell on wheels about personal freedoms and liberty. We live in a terrible security state. We need to stand up and take action.

But at times I start feeling like I'm having my chain yanked -- that in my obedience to and love of freedom, other people use my passion as a way to manipulate me. BoingBoing is stepping over the line between simply trying to inform me and actively trying to manipulate me. Perhaps they're doing that for good reasons instead of ratings. I don't mean to smear them in any way. I just think you can tell me Congressman X is working on Bill Y without making it sound like Nazis building death camps in downtown Washington, DC. Sounds like a modern witch hunt. Jiminy Cricket, folks, politicians come up with ideas for bills all of the time. It's a healthy thing to have a Congress with all kinds of diverse personalities and opinions proposing all kinds of things. We don't need to start chasing them down the street with torches and pitchforks.

If he starts getting co-signers? If the bill looks likely to move out of committee? Much different story.

It's starting to feel more like "Lamar Smith is the devil! Let's all attack!" and less like "A bill was introduced that could dramatically change internet freedoms...."

I don't like that. People do things I disagree with all of the time. That does not make them my enemy. We are not all 15-year-olds and having to determine which person is part of the cool group or not. We do not have to make people into our enemies who just have a different opinion than we do, even if that opinion is heinous.

Not only is most of this material lifted, it doesn't cross my personal threshold as being important. Certainly not as important as the cell phone carriers saying they're getting over a million requests from law enforcement for tracking/surveillance data (A follow-up on that story would have been great). There's a great deal of hand-waving and vitriol here and very little reporting or providing unique value. Simply, it's lazy and manipulative.

This is the second time this week a BoingBoing story has hit the front of HN and it's been, well, sub-optimal. Here's hoping their luck changes.

ADD: And, if other commenters here are to believed, the freaking story isn't even accurate. Geesh.


But... this is the standard method of squashing bills. This is politics and the only way to get things done is to have the money or mindless drones parroting your soundbites. Lamar Smith has the money and tech journalists have mindless followers. They have to rally the troops with sensational oversimplifications ("Lamar Smith is the devil! Let's all attack", "SOPA will kill facebook and youtube", "SOPA will kill the internet", "SOPA will save/create US jobs"). This is absolutely how SOPA was defeated last time and seems a decent strategy moving forward. It may not (just) be sensationalism for ratings/ad-clicks sake. It may be the necessary battle-cry at the start of a potentially nasty battle.

I don't want to defend Lamar Smith or BoingBoing. I hate SOPA, sensationalism and politics. But I also get tired of people constantly surprised how ugly and dirty politics is. Some young folks don't know yet but that doesn't make this very noteworthy.


I guess you started feeling manipulated with this line:

>Lamar Smith, the powerful committee chairman and corporatist archvillain who tried to ram through SOPA last year is now bent on reviving his slain monster and unleash it upon the earth.

Keep in mind that Cory is a novelist after all.


I've been reading BoingBoing for years, and i really appreciate the battles Cory Doctorow fights... but I'm not fond of his hyperbolic reporting style, which diminishes his credibility.

I suppose he considers to be preaching to the choir and is trying to whip us up into action.


Your points are valid, but imo Lamar Smith really does represent the worst of our electorate (To Me).

Lamar Smith is the same guy who killed the "Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011", Proposed by Barney Frank and Ron Paul. It would have pushed legislation from the federal to the state level.

He is a staunch anti abortion activist, and has signed multiple bills to make abortion as difficult as possible, if not impossible. Even signing a bill to prevent a mother from taking her unborn over state lines to perform an abortion.

He has been the main driver behind SOPA from the start.

If you ever want to know my political opinion on something, just check Lamar Smiths' position and I'll be on the other end of it ;)


Agreed, but how do we slow the march of this kind of sensationalism and manipulation? Even in highly educated communities such as HN we're still suckers for pitchforks, even though we should know better. It's such an eye for an eye landscape...


As embarrassing as it is to state, I was glancing around my apartment for my pitchfork prior to heading to the comments. As I was clicking through I was thinking...

Who is this Lamar character, and how can we stop him???

=== I don't think there is a way to stop this type of manipulation. It is everywhere now and unless someone figures out a new formula, it is pointless. Trying to read comments other places than HN is a joke, filled with bipartisan opinions stated as facts. It really is tough to read anything now.


Well the real kicker is that this Lamar character is actually an idiot and really does need to be stopped... but its so disappointing that hyperbole has become the only way to get anything done. Makes me feel like I'm in a 3rd grade class president election, with promises of free soda and nap time.


Lamar Smith is pretty horrible on all fronts (and my new congressman thanks to some gerrymandering that looks like it was done on a Spirograph). But SOPA is probably not one of his greatest sins.


My question is why is he working on a bill like this, instead of more productive/good things.


Because he's not going to get re-elected doing those things. Or put another way, politicians who would do more productive things are at such a disadvantage they don't get elected.


China, Russia, India and Canada are going to be thrilled to have more U.S. influence thust upon them, I'm sure. These are all on the U.S. "watchlist" of countries who have Problematic Intellectual Property. [1]

The axis of IP awesome actually. A pity that Australia's not on it.

1. 2011 Special 301 Report. Section II, Country Reports; pp.19-43. URL: http://www.washingtontradereport.com/Special301-2011.pdf


After the rejection of ACTA, SOPA, and the Uber amendment reversal, the internet has done a good job tracking and stoping bad political decisions. I expect politicians will be on a short leash going forward.


It really upsets me that this guy is from Texas, which the media generally makes sure to highlight (fortunately this article does not).

I assure you, he does not represent the majority.




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