The Watering Hole, Monday, March 2, 2015: How The Right Gets Net Neutrality Wrong

This past Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to change the way the nation’s internet service providers are regulated. After their proposed regulation, Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet, is published on the federal register in a few weeks, it will take effect sixty days later. This has some prominent right wing luminaries upset, even though it’s apparent they have absolutely no understanding of what net neutrality is. All it means is that all internet content must be treated equally by the internet service providers (ISPs). Comcast can’t slow down your Netflix streaming video just because they would prefer you use their subsidiary company’s product, Hulu. The ISPs aren’t happy, but you should be overjoyed. Don’t listen to these people.

People like Pat Robertson. Like many Conservatives, Robertson calls the new FCC regulations a “takeover” of the internet, and he adds that this is all part of a socialist agenda to take control of everything. As with most things Pat Robertson says, nothing could be further from the truth. The government is not taking over the internet which it created (and which Al Gore helped bring into the civilian world.) The government is simply making sure no private corporation can take over the internet and deprive you of content that might come from a competitor, or charge you extra to get higher speed internet for some content, and slower speeds for content like the blog you’re reading right now.

Robertson says the government wants to regulate the internet using a law written in 1934. That is false. They are using a law written in 1996 which updated the law written in 1934. He’s also wrong about the PP/ACA being a takeover of the healthcare industry. Conservatives frequently mischaracterize things in order to scare you into thinking something is happening which isn’t. And the goal of the fear mongering is the fear itself. People who are afraid often make bad decisions, and one of those bad decisions is voting for Conservatives.

Don’t listen to people like Rush Limbaugh, either. Limbaugh also thinks the government is trying to take over the internet it once created, but for a completely different reason. He thinks the government wants to ban bullets. I know it just flows so logically. You see, Rush is afraid of ISIS, and he’s afraid because they’re recruiting from all over the United States and Rush says “the government must have control of the Internet if we are to be safe.” (Projection.) Rush thinks the government is going to resort to extraordinary measures to fight ISIS, and that will include the banning of bullets. Except the government is not trying to ban bullets, they are trying to regulate armor-piercing bullets. And they won’t ban the ones that are “primarily” used for sporting purposes, so if a bunch of sovereign citizens decide today is the day the government is coming for their guns, they’ll still be able to shoot them with armor-piercing bullets.

And don’t listen to people like Ted Cruz, either. (It could result in brain damage. For you, not Ted. He’s already gone.) Somehow, Ted has it in his tiny little mind that regulating the internet will deprive you of your freedom.

“We do that fundamentally by standing with the people and not with Washington.”

For all their talk about Freedom, Conservatives still do not understand the concept that our federal government IS “We the People.” Then again, they never liked that from the beginning. It was Conservatives, those heavy on the “States’ Rights” idea (even though the Articles of Confederation proved the concept unworkable), who objected to the first three words of the Constitution. They felt it should have read “We the States.” And they haven’t given up that fight since.

“Washington wants Obamacare. The people want liberty.”

Here, and in the subsequent sentences, Cruz is using the term “The people” to refer only to Conservative Americans, and “Washington” to refer to everyone else. Conservatives do not view non-Conservatives as being “true Americans.” In fact, they see us as the Enemy, much as they did in 1776 when Liberals decided they wanted to explore the freedom of not being British citizens. Conservatives wrongly believe the individual mandate is both unprecedented and unconstitutional. (This despite the fact that President John Adams wrote a law requiring all mariners to buy health insurance, and despite the fact that SCOTUS ruled the law constitutional.) They don’t like it precisely because it does bring us incrementally closer to having Single Payer which, in their minds, equates to a total loss of freedom for everyone. Completely untrue, of course. It would only deny corporations the right to cheat you out of your life savings. But since corporations are not really poeple, that shouldn’t matter.

“Washington wants amnesty. The people want rule of law.”

This is a reference to the president’s immigration policy, announced in the wake of House Republicans refusing to do anything (like pass the bill the Senate did.) It’s not an amnesty program, like the one announced under President Reagan, no matter how many times they say it is. And even if it was, it wouldn’t be unconstitutional because the president has the constitutional authority to grant amnesty. And it’s not illegal, which they’ll learn when the SCOTUS upholds it. They just hate seeing anyone get help from the government. They don’t believe government exists to serve the people of which it’s comprised.

“Washington wants power over the internet. The people want freedom online.”

Conservatives have a hard time believing that anyone in government would want to do something that protects people from unscrupulous corporations. That’s because they believe the purpose of government is to protect unscrupulous corporations from the people. They want ISPs to be able to set up a multi-tier system of various speed options. They want it to be possible for ISPs to block content that competes with their own. The only possible way one could interpret net neutrality as taking away your freedoms is if you think corporations are people with the same rights as people. But to believe that, you would have to believe that corporations should have the right to terminate the existence of a subsidiary corporation still in the process of being created without government interference. IOW, to have an abortion.

This our daily open thread. Thanks to Obama’s FCC, you’ll still have access to this blog at the same speed as the big name corporations get. Use it wisely, and talk about anything you want.

Watering Hole: Monday, December 31, 2012 – Hillary Clinton Hospitalized Sunday with Blood Clot

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Many news organizations, including Reuters, have reported that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been admitted to a hospital following the discovery of a small blood clot stemming from the concussion she suffered earlier this month.

Many in the right wing media have been trying to say, sometimes in a roundabout way and sometimes directly, that she was faking her concussion to get out of testifying about what happened in the Sept 11 attack on the Benghazi Consulate. Of course, there is no basis whatsoever for these accusations, but when did the truth ever stop the right wing from saying anything? Fox News hasn’t been shy about questioning the veracity of Secretary Clinton’s claims or the seriousness of her injury. While she was following doctor’s orders and getting bed rest (a smart thing to do after a concussion, especially when you were sick when you got it), some Fox News people have wondered aloud (and on camera) why she still couldn’t testify as scheduled on Benghazi. (I’m no doctor, but I’m guessing the brain damage prevalent at Fox News was not the result of concussions, but simply a prerequisite for being hired to work there as an on-air “talent.”)

Bill O’Reilly dismissively said, “If She Was In The NFL I Wouldn’t Let Her Play, But I Think She Can Make A Phone Call.” And former unconfirmed G. W. Bush UN Ambassador John “I Am The Walrus Mustache” Bolton even pushed a story about how diplomats lie to get out of meetings they don’t wish to attend.

Fox News contributor John Bolton told host Greta van Susteren that when foreign service officers “don’t want to go to a meeting or conference or event,” they have “a diplomatic illness. And this is a diplomatic illness to beat the band.”

And Fox’s Laura Ingraham mocked Sec. Clinton’s condition saying, “We Are Now Calling This The Immaculate Concussion.” It’s actually pretty ignorant of them to say, “No one knows where she is.” Of course people knew – she was at home, as previously reported, where her doctor’s told her to stay. O’Reilly even said where she was later in the segment.

It’s time for Fox News to start apologizing for accusing the Secretary of State of faking her concussion so she wouldn’t have to testify regarding the Benghazi attack. And they’re not the only ones. Soon-to-be former Congressman Allen West said that she was trying to get out of testifying with a bout of the “Benghazi Flu.” To her credit, Fox’s Greta van Susteren has pushed back on these accusations saying, “I don’t agree with any of my (Fox News) colleagues or anyone else who is a tad bit sarcastic on our air about Secretary Clinton’s health.”

Given his well-documented obsession with Hillary Clinton, we can only imagine what Rush Limbaugh has said on the subject. We have to because none of us here can stomach listening to that blowhard.

Surely their apologies are imminent. Yeah, just as surely as I’ll be sworn in next month to replace Secretary Clinton.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Hillary’s concussion, Rush’s obsessions, O’Reilly’s brain damage, or any other topic you wish. And from all of us at The Zoo, please enjoy your New Year’s Eve celebrations safely and responsibly.

Thursday, March 29th, 2012: The Republican War on Women: Part 2

The following, my second column on the Republican War on Women (see Part 1 here), was published in the Pawling Press on March 16th. Although a bit outdated, it is a reminder that this is still an ongoing assault.

“Hell Hath No Fury…”

On February 16th, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), held a hearing regarding the new contraception coverage rule in the Affordable Care Act. Congressman Issa’s stated reason for the hearing was to obtain testimony as to whether the new rule infringed on ‘religious freedom’, and the only witnesses allowed to testify were male religious leaders. Congressman Issa refused to hear the testimony of Ms. Sandra Fluke, a third-year law student at Georgetown University, a Catholic university whose insurance does not cover the birth control pill. Ms. Fluke was prepared to testify, in part, about a schoolmate who needed the pill in order to control an ovarian growth, being afflicted with polycystic ovarian syndrome. The schoolmate’s inability to afford the medication led to the eventual surgical removal of one of her ovaries due to the size of the out-of-control growth.

After she was not allowed to testify at Congressman Issa’s hearing, Ms. Fluke gave her prepared testimony at a Democratic forum (Democrats, being in the minority in the House, are not allowed to hold actual hearings) and subsequently the news media began covering the story.

Enter right-wing radio’s Rush Limbaugh: either unaware of, or deliberately disregarding, the actual testimony of Ms. Fluke, Mr. Limbaugh attacked, calling Ms. Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.” Mr. Limbaugh lied about Ms. Fluke’s testimony, saying that she “went before a Congressional committee and said she’s having so much sex she’s going broke buying contraceptives and wants us to buy them” and “she wants us to pay for her to have sex.” Mr. Limbaugh topped off his disgusting remarks with:

“So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

Despite the outrage that ensued, Mr. Limbaugh continued his barrage against Ms. Fluke for several more days, while Fox News ‘personalities’ defended his stance and joined the sexist attack. Finally, enough of his sponsors having dropped their advertising, Mr. Limbaugh issued a non-apology apology.

This story, in my opinion, is important for two reasons. One reason is that Rush Limbaugh is the de facto ruler of the Republican Party. In 2009, after Mr. Limbaugh’s remarks about ‘wanting Obama to fail’, then-RNC Chairman Michael Steele stated, “Rush is not the head of the Republican Party. He’s an entertainer whose show is incendiary and ugly.” Mr. Limbaugh lambasted Mr. Steele, saying that Steele ought to resign from the RNC Chairmanship. Mr. Steele then issued a statement including “My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh, he is a national conservative leader …There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.” Other Republicans who have had to apologize to Mr. Limbaugh include former S.C. Governor Mark Sanford and Congressman Phil Gingrey of Georgia.

Neither Mitt Romney nor Rick Santorum has condemned Mr. Limbaugh’s sexist and despicable remarks. Mitt Romney (who still receives investment income from Bain Capital, which owns Clear Channel Communications, whose Premiere Radio Networks Inc. hosts Limbaugh’s program) would only say: “I’ll just say this, which is, it’s not the language I would have used,” and I’m not going to weigh in on that particular controversy.” Rick Santorum’s comment about Rush Limbaugh’s remarks was “He’s being absurd, but that’s you know, an entertainer can be absurd.” Could either candidate possibly have been more mealy-mouthed about such horrible slurs?

The second reason why this is important is because of the current Republican attacks on contraception and women’s reproductive rights. Rick Santorum has said more than once that he believes that “contraception is wrong.” Numerous states have either proposed or passed legislation, including “personhood” amendments, severely limiting or denying women’s access to legal abortions or certain types of contraception. In the U.S. Senate, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) proposed an amendment to the Public Health Service Act which would exempt “any individual or entity” from having to “offer, provide, or purchase coverage for a contraceptive or sterilization service, or related education or counseling, to which that individual or entity is opposed on the basis of religious belief.” Senator Rubio’s name has been bandied about as the possible Vice Presidential candidate. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) offered an amendment which went even further, allowing any type of healthcare services to be denied for religious or “conscience” reasons. These amendments, together referred to as the Blunt-Rubio Amendment, were only narrowly defeated.

Protests against these misogynistic right-wing legislative attacks, and outrage over the verbal vitriol from right-winger Rush Limbaugh, have been widespread and increasing. As of this writing, over 140 advertisers have abandoned sponsorship of Rush Limbaugh’s show. Republican popularity among women has been dropping (46%-42% favored a Republican-run Congress last summer, now 51%-36% favor the Democrats.) Although several prominent Republicans (including Senator John McCain of Arizona and Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts) have condemned Mr. Limbaugh’s despicable remarks, the two front-running Republican candidates, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, haven’t displayed the leadership and strength of character to do so. Why not? And what does this say about them?

Part 3, today’s Watering Hole, to follow shortly…