Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010.

Senate Clearance Sale

Obama Administration

So the Senate passed START and a watered-down 9/11 first responders bill. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has been signed into law, and a lot of other stuff got done at the last minute. One might ask why the Senate didn’t hustle and get this stuff done sooner. Ezra has a theory:

DADT repeal passed because Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Scott Brown voted with the Democrats. The tax deal went through because a host of Republicans voted with the Democrats. Same for START, the food-safety bill and the DoD authorization. If the bill helping 9/11 responders get medical benefits passes, that too will be because of Republican support.

The question is why the Republicans didn’t just drag their feet and let things expire and then come back to everything in 2011, when they’ll have more allies in the Senate and control of the House? …

… The answer, I think, is that there are plenty of Senate Republicans who aren’t too comfortable with the class of conservatives who got elected in 2010.

I think some Republicans were shamed into supporting the 9/11 responders bill, although the one passed likely will prove to be inadequate. The objection I have is that, as I understand it, the program runs for only five years. The collapse of the World Trade Center towers released thousands of tons of toxic substances into the air, and the diseases these substances can cause are not going to disappear in five years. Some of them, especially the cancers, develop very slowly; symptoms may not show up for another ten or twenty years, or even longer. But at least the responders who are sick now will get some support.

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The Internet Is a Marxist Conspiracy

Obama Administration

Yesterday the FCC decided on some “net neutrality” regulations that had some in the the leftie blogosphere sputtering about an “Obama sellout.” Now the Right is weighing in, and they don’t like the new regs, either.

John Fund:

The Federal Communications Commission’s new “net neutrality” rules, passed on a partisan 3-2 vote yesterday, represent a huge win for a slick lobbying campaign run by liberal activist groups and foundations. The losers are likely to be consumers who will see innovation and investment chilled by regulations that treat the Internet like a public utility.

Fund goes on to explain that the whole “net neutrality” issue is a scam thought up by some socialist-Marxist academics and fringe organizations like the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Free Press has been funded by a network of liberal foundations that helped the lobby invent the purported problem that net neutrality is supposed to solve. They then fashioned a political strategy similar to the one employed by activists behind the political speech restrictions of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform bill. The methods of that earlier campaign were discussed in 2004 by Sean Treglia, a former program officer for the Pew Charitable Trusts, during a talk at the University of Southern California. Far from being the efforts of genuine grass-roots activists, Mr. Treglia noted, the campaign-finance reform lobby was controlled and funded by foundations like Pew.

I don’t know that anyone claimed “net neutrality” is a “grassroots” issue, since the people who understand and care about net neutrality are those of us who live online most of the time. And unlike the Right, lefties don’t use astroturf organization to conjure a facade of populism in front of issues that are really being pushed by the elite.

But, basically, Fund’s argument is that anything thought up by liberals must be part of a totalitarian plot. Seriously.

As I’ve looked at some comments today, it strikes me that some people view the Internet primarily as a tool for free speech, and others view it primarily as a tool for commerce, and these two groups are way not in alignment. But the Right today is reacting with a viciousness that suggests someone very high on the food chain with very deep pockets is really, really angry, and the tools have been ordered to fight the regs tooth and nail.

So, dutifully, Little Lulu has declared that Net Neutrality is “Obamacare for the Web” and declares that “Internet access is not a civil right.” Pretty rich, coming from someone whose career is largely based on her Web activities.

Nate Anderson has a good background article on why everyone hates the new net regulations. The main players are FCC chairman Julius Genachowski and one of the Republican commissioners, Meredith Baker.

To Baker, charging companies like Netflix for better access to ISP customers is unabashedly pro-consumer, since it might (insert a gentle cough of skepticism here) lower consumer broadband prices. As for network management, it’s an “engineering marvel.” Baker’s statement made clear—repeatedly—that she was bewildered by any view of ISPs as huge companies that might misuse their power and control, and she rejects any attempt to limit their “innovation.”

Genachowski apparently started from a more pro-neutrality position, but then attempted a “pro-investment” compromise that preserved part of the “net netrality” platform. But people aren’t in much of a mood to compromise these days, are they?

Anyway, Republicans vow to drag the regulations into court to have them overturned, so the fight is far from over.

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