Archive for August, 2010

“Crush video” vote in Congress shows silliness runs deep

Back in 1999, as a Member of Congress, I cast one of 42 votes against a proposed federal law that would ban the depiction of animal cruelty.  The bill passed overwhelmingly, and was signed into law by then-President Clinton.  I voted against the measure not because I endorsed or favored the activity proposed to be federally banned — so-called “crush videos” of animals being killed, generally by women’s feet in high heels.  I had never heard that such a disgusting and ridiculous fetish even existed, before the measure was presented to us in the House that year.  I voted against it — as I suspect did all other 41 “nay” votes — because there was simply no need or constitutional basis for a federal law criminalizing such behavior.  Animal cruelty laws in every state already addressed the problem.

This past April, more than a decade after the 1999 law went into effect, the Supreme Court struck it down, as being impermissibly vague and overly broad; and specifically violative of the …

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Internet gambling freedom boosted by House committee vote

In 2006, the then-Republican led Congress passed legislation effectively outlawing Internet gambling; the legislation was signed into law by a Republican president, George W. Bush.  While the “Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006″ has hardly succeeded in stopping people from engaging in Internet wagering (on-line poker, for example, remains a lucrative sport – accounting for more than $6 billion in revenues in the U. S. alone), the law clearly has chilled development of on-line gambling in the U.S. as compared to other countries.  Earlier this year, for example, a British citizen was sentenced to nearly three years in a federal prison after being pressured to plead guilty to federal racketeering charges stemming from his role as CEO of an overseas on-line gambling operation.

However, as pressures mount in the U.S. to takes steps to increase government tax revenues, efforts to repeal or at least loosen parts of the 2006 anti-Internet gambling act, are gaining …

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Second engine for F-35 fighter makes sense

The largest fighter plane contract in U.S. history is set to enter the production phase, with aerospace giant Lockheed-Martin front and center as the prime contractor.  Lockheed plants all over the country, including the massive one in Marietta, Georgia which will assemble the center wing section, are preparing to produce the multi-role tactical fighter.  Yet, even as Lockheed and dozens of other facilities across the country and overseas are gearing up, a major funding battle regarding the engine for the single-engine fighter continues to boil in the halls of Congress.

Production of the F-35 comes as assembly of its bigger brother — the twin-engine, air superiority fighter, the F-22 “Raptor” — nears the end of its truncated, 187-plane production run.  While both aircraft share much in common in terms of their design and stealth capabilities, the differences are significant.

The F-22 was designed in the Cold-War era, when the country’s major adversary was the Soviet Union; and …

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