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Net Neutrality – Woot! (not)

Some contend that many if not most of those opposed to Net Neutrality are only opposed to it because the Obama Administration is so clearly for it.

That’s a fair contention. Certainly Obama raises so much ire in the minds of many, that no matter what he does, it would be hard to get a rational evaluation.  Note: Even irrational evaluations sometimes arrive at the correct conclusion.

But let’s try and be rational.

Can we agree that the administration has been exerting considerable political pressure on the FCC to get this through? To me that much, at least is obvious. The Obama Administration has pushed very hard for Net Neutrality (and now has gotten what it asked for). This is a fact, and we have to start somewhere.

Now, I am going to try very hard not to make the argument that says, my pet is a duck, my duck quacks, therefore all pets quack. But at the same time, sometimes a duck is a duck.

I will make an argument that character and past behavior is a reasonable component of judging motives. It’s not unreasonable to be concerned if a child molester moves next door to a family with small children.

Putting aside my intense bias and skepticism of this administration and my only slightly less paranoia about government’s propensity to overstep, mismanage and ruin (I worked for the government for ten years). Let’s try and look at the arguments for net neutrality and those against.

As near as I can tell, Net Neutrality is being billed as a check against big corporations and providers throttling some data, or perhaps even blocking it, in favor of financial gains obtained by ensuring fast access to others or their own services to the detriment of competitors – e.g. Netflix video streaming, etc.

It seems fair to acknowledge that abuses have occurred.

The government is ostensibly only seeking to provide an open Internet and protecting customers from monopolies doing direct or indirect harm, limiting choices, and stifling innovation. There are probably even reasonable people within the ranks of the FCC who want just that.

But, it’s also reasonable to say that there are political operatives making some of these decisions. The FCC commission is a 5 member panel composed of 3 Democrats and 2 Republicans. By law only three members can be in the same political party. They serve 5 year terms and, consequently, President Obama nominated all of them. The dissent amongst the members, and op ed pieces from the members themselves is evidence that this is really a political issue.

Now let’s ask a question. Is it possible the this administration might have ulterior motives and that this argument, however seemingly logical and reasonable, is just spin? Is it possible that this is not the end game here? No one denies that big monopolies are prone to abusing their advantages, but what if this is all just a convenient “crisis” that should not be let go to waste?

One way to evaluate that is to see if this sort of thing has been done before. Does anyone remember, “If you like your coverage, you can keep your coverage?” How about the hysteria raised to ban so called “assault rifles” in spite of the fact that they are almost never ever used in the commission of crimes. Just as no one wants to see people hurt, who would oppose preventing abuses from monopolies?

I contend that there is good reason to suspect that the motivation behind the push for “Net Neutrality” has little if, anything to do with its stated goals.

I believe this is a political power struggle about another issue entirely, and that is the control of information and spin.

Ever since Reagan did away with “The Fairness Doctrine” in 1987 which contributed to the explosion of talk radio – specifically conservative talk radio – the Left lost their near monopoly on “the narrative.” The Internet exacerbated this with the explosion of blogs – remember how Dan Rather’s concocted papers were exposed as frauds through bloggers employing experts to prove that they were fabricated with Microsoft Word – although the papers supposedly predated the software?

Since then there have been numerous attempts to re-implement the Fairness Doctrine under various guises. Net Neutrality is only the latest vehicle.

Frank Miniter makes this very point in this Forbes article.

As liberal dominance of the media has waned under the shadow of FOX News, conservative talk radio and websites such as the Drudge Report, some in the Democratic Party have been looking for creative ways to maintain, or regain, the “mainstream media’s” liberal clout. Net neutrality is one way to attain their goal of dominating the media.

There are indications that this is not paranoid delusion of Miniter or others in the tin-foil hat crowd. In October of 2014,

Democratic FEC Vice Chair Ann M. Ravel announced plans to begin the process to win regulations on Internet-based campaigns and videos, currently free from most of the FEC’s rules. “A reexamination of the commission’s approach to the internet and other emerging technologies is long over due,” she said.

Ravel’s statement suggests that she would regulate right-leaning groups like America Rising that posts anti-Democrat YouTube videos on its website.

FEC Chairman Lee E. Goodman, a Republican, said if regulation extends that far, then anybody who writes a political blog, runs a politically active news site or even chat room could be regulated. He added that funny internet campaigns like “Obama Girl,” and “Jib Jab” would also face regulations.

Washington Examiner

Another indicator of something being rotten in Denmark is the lack of public scrutiny. In a statement remarkably similar to “You have to sign the bill to know what’s in it.” The White House claimed even today, that they don’t know what’s in it.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the White House’s policy experts haven’t had the chance to fully analyze the FCC’s action, and stressed that the commission was mostly independent from the administration.

Interesting choice of words, “mostly independent.”

If the White House doesn’t know what’s in the new regulation, they are in good company, apparently no one else does either.

Opponents sought to delay the vote until, citing a lack of transparency. On Monday, Pai and O’Rielly issued a joint statement criticizing Wheeler’s refusal to reveal the entire 332-page plan and called for “the FCC leadership … to allow the American people a reasonable period of not less than 30 days to carefully study it” before the vote. The chairman made public only a summary before the vote.

O’Rielly reiterated his concern that Obama had inserted himself into the process. “I am just sick about what Chairman Wheeler was forced to go through during this process,” O’Rielly said in a statement. “It was disgraceful to have the Administration overtake the Commission’s rule-making process and dictate an outcome for pure political purposes.”

USA Today 2/26/2015

Finally, one has to ask of the players involved, specifically the Obama Administration, are they known to overstep their authority by executive fiat?

That one should be obvious.


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