Tag Archives: Net Neutrality

Bad News Rundown

23 Jun

Monday was a steady stream of bad news for smart people.  I ended the day wondering what the hell happened, let’s review.

1.) General Stanley McChrystal, Commander of all US and NATO Forces in Afghanistan, essentially told the President, Congress and the American People to eat a big bag of shit.  McChrystal was a Cheney man, a noted overseer of torture and general Special Ops badass who was put in charge to kick ass and center the troops around a mission of “winning” in Afghanistan and doing it in a hurry.  He has been political trouble for Obama from jump street, but Obama has stood by him and now that we’re at a critical juncture in the counter-insurgency, McChrystal decided to essentially motherfuck everyone in the chain of command.  The Republicans will trip all over themselves to set the discussion agenda tomorrow and turn this into a test of Obama’s failed leadership or other such meme.  Good times.  Also, anyone curious as to why this General (who is evidently widely known for this sort of behavior) received a pass on it from the Defense Department beat reporters?  It took a freelancer to get the story, primarily because he wasn’t worried about losing his “sources”.   Sad state of journalism in this country…

2.) The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, reduced the First Amendment rights of American Citizens.  This was the first SCOTUS test of free speech against new national security standards (Patriot Act, etc.)

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld a federal law that makes it a crime to provide “material support” to foreign terrorist organizations, even if the help takes the form of training for peacefully resolving conflicts.

The case arose after an American human rights group, the Humanitarian Law Project, challenged the law prohibiting “material support” to terror groups, which was defined in the 2001 Patriot Act to include “expert advice or assistance.” The law project wanted to provide advice to two terrorist groups on how to peacefully resolve their disputes and work with the United Nations. The two groups — the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party — have violent histories and their presence on the State Department’s official list of terrorist groups is not in dispute.

But though the law project was actually trying to reduce the violence of the two groups, the court’s opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. on behalf of five other justices, said that did not matter and ruled the project’s efforts illegal. Even peaceful assistance to a terror group can further terrorism, the chief justice wrote, in part by lending them legitimacy and allowing them to pretend to be negotiating while plotting violence.

In a powerful dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer, also speaking for Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, swept away those arguments. If providing legitimacy to a terror group was really a crime, he wrote, then it should also be a crime to independently legitimize a terror group through speech, which it is not. Never before, he said, had the court criminalized a form of speech on these kinds of grounds, noting with particular derision the notion that peaceful assistance buys negotiating time for an opponent to achieve bad ends.

3.) A federal judge overturned President Obama’s six month moratorium on deep water oil drilling.

The judge in New Orleans who struck down the moratorium earlier in the day complained there wasn’t enough justification for it.

I guess the oil needs to be lapping at the courthouse door for him to see the “evidence”.  Of course, the judge does have significant investments in deepwater drilling companies, although I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

4.) Our “financial reform bill” that will supposedly “place tough regulations” (hack,cough) on Wall Street companies is being weakened yet again by Republicans and investment bank friendly Democrats in conference committee.

Levin and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), are the principal authors of legislation to strictly limit banks’ and other financial firms’ ability to make speculative trades with their profits. The idea originated with former Fed chair and Obama economic adviser Paul Volcker, who strongly backs the Levin-Merkley proposal. But they’re fighting Wall Street and an array of Democrats negotiating the final bill, who want to include a loophole that would allow banks to invest a potentially significant share of their capital in high-risk hedge funds. Levin and others are pushing back, but their time is limited: the conference committee will discuss the Volcker rule and the banks’ new favorite loophole tomorrow.

5.) Why do you think BP caved so easily on the idea of putting together a $20BN escrow fund to compensate the victims of their oil disaster?  I think the answer is in the last two paragraphs of this story in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.

6.) This is what a failed democracy looks like.

The Wall Street Journal just reported that the Federal Communications Commission is holding “closed-door meetings” with industry to broker a deal on Net Neutrality — the rule that lets users determine their own Internet experience.

The meetings include a small group of industry lobbyists representing the likes of AT&T, Verizon, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, and Google. They reportedly met for two-and-a-half hours on Monday morning and will convene another meeting today. The goal according to insiders is to “reach consensus” on rules of the road for the Internet.

This is what a failed democracy looks like: After years of avid public support for Net Neutrality – involving millions of people from across the political spectrum – the federal regulator quietly huddles with industry lobbyists to eliminate basic protections and serve Wall Street’s bottom line.

We need open debate and transparent policymaking, unfortunately, we live in a corporatist state dominated by lobbyist influence.  We get the results out of the system that we plan for.

To end on a positive note, Carl Sagan always makes me feel better.  The Pale Blue Dot…

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