Obama endorses net neutrality
November 10, 2014 6:50 AM   Subscribe

Obama just came out endorsing net neutrality, and going even further, saying the FCC should reclassify the Internet as a utility. Here's the full plan.
posted by Joakim Ziegler (164 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
 
Let's hope this means he's now going to govern like a President with nothing left to lose.
posted by kewb at 6:52 AM on November 10, 2014 [131 favorites]


Let's note the crucial line: "The FCC is an independent agency, and ultimately this decision is theirs alone". The American President is limited in many ways.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:54 AM on November 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


Considering Obama's lukewarm track record of keeping his own administration in line, I'd guess that this only moderately improves the chances that the FCC will rule for net neutrality.
posted by chimaera at 6:55 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'd like to build a new america on the ashes of regional monopolies and private health insurers, but failing that at least let us highlight which bought and paid for Senators come out against this.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:57 AM on November 10, 2014 [39 favorites]


Thank you, Mr. President!
posted by valkane at 6:59 AM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Let's hope this means he's now going to govern like a President with nothing left to lose.

Well, he doesn't have anything left to lose. He's spent six years trying to avoid getting involved in issues as much as possible because his presence turns any issue into a tribal war, and that'll happen with net neutrality now. He's most likely doing this because he figures a tribal war on this issue just makes the GOP look worse in 2016.
posted by mightygodking at 7:00 AM on November 10, 2014 [30 favorites]


Obama also said he'd stand with public sector workers if their collective bargaining rights were threatened, reassured us that the NSA has never abused its legal authority, and said that his administration would never negotiate trade partnerships that undermine US sovereignty.

The man is a master of telling his centrist liberal base what they want to hear, and then doing the bidding of the elites.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:02 AM on November 10, 2014 [80 favorites]


I love this. I love that he's actually going as far as wanting it to be declared a utility, because I think that's ultimately a better way to actually improve Americans' access to internet. Although net neutrality is an important issue, it's influenced by a lack of incentives for companies to actually improve internet infrastructure.
posted by Eyeveex at 7:04 AM on November 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


I like this new president that basically knows he's got to fight tooth and nail to protect his legacy. Basically he needs to operate like he doesn't care that Republicans have the majority and just pile on all sorts of progressive and populist ideas. The 2016 candidates can pick and choose what resonates for them.
posted by vuron at 7:05 AM on November 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Going to be an interesting two years - Obama needs to neither mollify the conservatives in his own party nor play a balancing act between political donors. There's going to be some payback and pay-forward, and maybe, perhaps, some sound policy-making.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:06 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Hey, 'merica!! I'm still here! Hey it's me, waving over here! It's Mr. President, remember me?? Hey! I'm talking to you!!"

Oh well.
posted by ReeMonster at 7:09 AM on November 10, 2014


The FCC is an independent agency, and ultimately this decision is theirs alone

Yeah, Medium is cool and all, but I'd rather see his thoughts titled "Executive Order 13673".

Not to be a downer, but is there any mechanism by which the FCC commissioners are incentivized to listen to a lame duck POTUS and risk their high-salary future lobbying gigs?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:09 AM on November 10, 2014 [24 favorites]


Nice. Obviously the FCC can undercut this but glad to hear him come out and say this so explicitly.
posted by octothorpe at 7:11 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


While I'm not keen on having the internet regulated by an agency that only recently came to the conclusion that not every exclamation of "Fuck!" or "Shit!" is a proclamation by the speaker on his/her immediate intent to copulate or defecate, respectively, I'm even less keen on having my use regulated by Comcast because they decided to burn the candle from both ends.
posted by dances with hamsters at 7:11 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Note, Obama hand picked the current FCC chair who is a former industry lobbyist and extremely opposed to net neutrality and would likely rather chew broken glass than make the net a utility.

So I'm not really all that hopeful that Obama means a word of what he just said.

OTOH, he just realized that his next two years in office will consist of little more than using a cartoon sized rubber stamp that says "VETO" on the daily votes to repeal the ACA so maybe he's through fucking around?
posted by sotonohito at 7:13 AM on November 10, 2014 [48 favorites]


Just words.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:16 AM on November 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


First - yay, net neutrality. Yay, internet as public utility. The war may never be won, but it should never be lost.

As for administration timidity, this was one of the strongest on-going themes from the West Wing. Perhaps this is on Obama's playlist now... #fondliberalfantasies
posted by Devonian at 7:17 AM on November 10, 2014


Meanwhile, Tom Wheeler, the former cable lobbyist, refuses to hold open hearings. Ask yourself whose interests are being heard, and whose are being smoothed over with public platitudes.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:21 AM on November 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


but failing that at least let us highlight which bought and paid for Senators come out against this

With tar and feathers? A public pillory? I am so there if that is the case.
posted by CosmicRayCharles at 7:22 AM on November 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


FCC chair who is a former industry lobbyist

I'm still taking bets on what job he gets when he's the former FCC chair. I'm betting CEO of Verizon, or little short of something like that. I assume that's the plan, anyway, and it's depending on him putting up a good fight on their behalf and presumably on winning it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:28 AM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Boy wouldn't it be great if all those politicians who run on anti-corruption and insider politics would do something about the revolving door?
posted by symbioid at 7:29 AM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Doesn't go far enough. He is asking the FCC to declare it a utility so that they can impose regulations, but not pricing. In many places there is a de-facto monopoly on broadband, and the FCC needs to assure that there is fair pricing across the board.
posted by Gungho at 7:32 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


For a President who just came out in favor of Net Neutrality, the bile and cynicism in this thread is repulsive. Way to go mid-term elections, progressives! I blame the American voters if NN fails.
posted by stbalbach at 7:33 AM on November 10, 2014 [25 favorites]


Love that he's pushing for it. However, wasn't he the guy who appointed the current head of the FCC (whose resume is less-than-friendly to Net Neutrality)?

Basically he needs to operate like he doesn't care that Republicans have the majority and just pile on all sorts of progressive and populist ideas.

In other words, act like how the Republicans do when they don't have a mandate.
posted by MrGuilt at 7:35 AM on November 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


For a President who just came out in favor of Net Neutrality, the bile and cynicism in this thread is repulsive. Way to go mid-term elections, progressives! I blame the American voters if NN fails.

I must have missed two years somehow - was this year's election the Presidential election?
posted by winna at 7:37 AM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


For a President who just came out in favor of Net Neutrality, the bile and cynicism in this thread is repulsive. Way to go mid-term elections, progressives!

At some point, actions speak louder than words and that point was a long time ago. Obama's words have lagged his actions for years on every issue important to progressives, and "coming out in favor" in a nonbinding speech has very little sway when his actual action was to appoint Tom Wheeler.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:40 AM on November 10, 2014 [50 favorites]


Agree this is toothless, but is this suggestion of classifying the internet as a utility unprecedented for him, just in terms of publicly speaking out for a somewhat radical policy shift?
posted by latkes at 7:40 AM on November 10, 2014


For a President who just came out in favor of Net Neutrality, the bile and cynicism in this thread is repulsive.

Repulsive or realistic? YMMV.
posted by blucevalo at 7:41 AM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Maybe its just that politicians can afford to hold absolutist extreme positions (ie populist) when they know they can't win. When you lose, blame your opposition. When you're on top, equivocate.
posted by Ansible at 7:42 AM on November 10, 2014


Meanwhile, Tom Wheeler, the former cable lobbyist, refuses to hold open hearings.

Well, isn't this just the perfect opportunity to e-mail him at tom.wheeler@fcc.gov and cc his fellow commissioners, mignon.clyburn@fcc.gov, mike.o'rielly@fcc.gov, ajit.pai@fcc.gov, and jessica.rosenworcel@fcc.gov.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:44 AM on November 10, 2014 [30 favorites]


I will be outrageously happy in the event that this actually means something.

Also, since I still haven't said it even though I think about it all the time, President Obama looked fly as hell in that tan suit he wore back in August.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 7:45 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


mignon.clyburn@fcc.gov

How is this a real person and not a sheriff from a DTV Smoky and the Bandit spinoff.
posted by selfnoise at 7:46 AM on November 10, 2014 [14 favorites]


symbioid: Boy wouldn't it be great if all those politicians who run on anti-corruption and insider politics would do something about the revolving door?

The biggest thing would to be to provide a pay and benefits package that can compete with the private sector, or even bolder, provide better pay and benefits.

Public sector provides stability, which is worth something, but generally not enough to keep anyone except those who are idealists, tied to a location due to family reasons, and/or content just doing their jobs. I say this as a public sector employee who has been told by supervisors "we hope you stick around for a few years, because we realize we can't pay the private side can, and you're getting great experience here."
posted by filthy light thief at 7:47 AM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Too many cooks, selnoise.
Too many cooks.
posted by symbioid at 7:48 AM on November 10, 2014


I never like to underestimate the potential of "just words."

I've no illusions about the behind the scenes machinations, and I'm quite cynical about the eventual policy decisions. But. Net Neutrality and wider telecom reform is wildly popular, despite the torrent of propaganda put out by the industry. Any public expressions in favor of reform from the President or other government leaders, even if their actions contradict their sentiments, can help amplify & encourage the voice & vote of the people to exert further pressure on policymakers to bring their actions closer to their words.

Being disgusted with disgust only adds to the feedback loop of apathy such as we saw in the turnout in the midterms. Those aiming at progressive, pragmatic reform work with what's available and positively & understandingly acknowledge the disappointed criticism of idealists while never losing sight of the ideals that impel us all.
posted by audi alteram partem at 7:48 AM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


For a President who just came out in favor of Net Neutrality, the bile and cynicism in this thread is repulsive. Way to go mid-term elections, progressives! I blame the American voters if NN fails.

Glad you're happy. Really glad you're happy.
posted by Trochanter at 7:52 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I blame the American voters if NN fails.

I can't tell if this arch sarcasm or if you actually don't understand voting
posted by Greg Nog at 7:56 AM on November 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


For a President who just came out in favor of Net Neutrality, the bile and cynicism in this thread is repulsive.

He supported net neutrality in 2007 when it would get him donations.

He then walked back his promise before being elected president.

Please share with me the reason that I'm the cynical one and Obama isn't.
posted by Radiophonic Oddity at 7:57 AM on November 10, 2014 [19 favorites]


I'm sure this will be the start of a golden age, where Guantanamo will be closed, troops will be recalled from oversees, constitutional violations will be punished, veterans and citizens will receive improved Healthcare, the power of the President will be rolled back, and the American government will stop spying on its own citizens.

A golden age!
posted by blue_beetle at 8:00 AM on November 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


he's got to fight tooth and nail to protect his legacy

I know I'm like the biggest Obama-basher ever, but arguments about "legacy" seem to be the last refuge of those that hope that Obama will suddenly and belatedly govern as a trailblazing progressive, in spite of his previous record to the contrary.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 8:02 AM on November 10, 2014


I blame the American voters if NN fails.

I blame the guy who hired a corrupt corporate stooge to run a major regulatory agency.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:02 AM on November 10, 2014 [26 favorites]


FCC should reclassify the Internet as a utility

He doesn't ever use this word in the published statement, so I'm not clear on why this is being repeated all over the news. There are major differences between what he's proposing and the way utilities are managed, so it's not like the choice of this term is a natural interpretation either.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:04 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has already tweeted out, "'Net Neutrality' is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government."

I try to be nice to those on the other side of the aisle, but when I read this I thought, "You dumb motherfucker. I hope you get hit by a car on the way to Congress." I mean, come on. No matter how conservative you might be socially, why would anyone vote for someone like that?
posted by freecellwizard at 8:06 AM on November 10, 2014 [30 favorites]


This morning: Net Neutrality Advocates Blockade FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s Georgetown Home

“The FCC received a record number of comments, with more than 3.7 million responding to the rulemaking proceeding on the future of the Internet; 99% of those comments favored net neutrality and reclassification. How dare Chairman Wheeler ignore the overwhelming majority of the people in favor of corporations like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T. Tom Wheeler is playing with fire. We will be escalating our protests if he continues down the path of ignoring the people. If Wheeler is unable to fulfill President Obama’s promise to protect net neutrality, then he should resign or be removed from office.”
posted by mediareport at 8:08 AM on November 10, 2014 [13 favorites]


why would anyone vote for someone like that?

Tubes
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 8:09 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh, and there's a vigil tonight in Tom Wheeler's driveway:

Popular Resistance is urging people to join them at a Vigil to Save the Internet tonight, November 10th, at Tom Wheeler’s Georgetown home.
posted by mediareport at 8:09 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Okay, watched the video as well. He never compares it to a utility there either. I'm starting to wonder if the "wants it regulated like a utility" line I'm seeing on news sites is a deliberate negative media conglomerate spin. What he's proposing is still far more hands-off than the way public utilities are regulated and nowhere near what's done with the airwaves.

Honestly, I think the counter-narrative plan to say "gummint regulation! Bad for you and for jobs and anticompetitive! Do you want the government telling you where you can go on the internets?" is already absorbing this thing.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:11 AM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Note, Obama hand picked the current FCC chair who is a former industry lobbyist and extremely opposed to net neutrality and would likely rather chew broken glass than make the net a utility.

"Hand-picked" is a bit misleading. Republican senators would have filibustered anyone supporting this policy.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:13 AM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


think of "fastlane" as platinum level health insurance and "slowlane" as medicaid which only works at the local health clinic, now how would Obama champion of the ACA devise policy to regulate the supply of "broadband" in the same way as "healthcare"?

1) mandate: everyone must have a contract with a broadband supplier.
2) "Gold" "Silver" and "Bronze" levels of broadband regulated by federal government based on individual cost
3) individual subsidies to purchase mandated broadband based on income
4) cut federal subsidies for telecommunications
5) media campaign to brand 2) as net neutrality.

sounds like a solution right?
posted by ennui.bz at 8:17 AM on November 10, 2014




Yeah, good for President Obama. I'll believe it when the FCC actually steps up, classifies ISPs as utilities, and regulates them accordingly. I think monkeys are more likely to fly out of my ass first.
posted by starbreaker at 8:23 AM on November 10, 2014


For a President who just came out in favor of Net Neutrality, the bile and cynicism in this thread is repulsive.

Well, I find the mindless cheerleading repulsive, so I guess we're even. Also, I did vote, so you can say whatever you like about cynicism and apathy, but they do not necessarily go hand in hand.

Public sector provides stability, which is worth something, but generally not enough to keep anyone except those who are idealists, tied to a location due to family reasons, and/or content just doing their jobs. I say this as a public sector employee who has been told by supervisors "we hope you stick around for a few years, because we realize we can't pay the private side can, and you're getting great experience here."

Butbutbut goldbricking government gravy train! My Facebook feed says so!
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:23 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


One person -- one person who represents the one branch of government not completely bought and paid for, one person who probably has a marginally human heart still beating inside him (and I say this because he started out working class, seems to be smart, and came at his career with the motivation to serve his country -- now that he's played The Game for two and a half decades, who knows how far from us commoners he's moved?). Anyway, one person who might not be totally corrupt, is all that stands in the way of overt corporate oligarchy.

Right now, while he's still there, when he says shit like this, regardless of whether he actually believes it, the most effective thing that could happen is for millions of people to rally around him. At least that way Ted Cruz has to look at the faces of those of us he is about to totally fuck over. When Obama's gone, my fear is that the only left is massive civil disobedience, or, more likely, silent acceptance.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:23 AM on November 10, 2014 [19 favorites]


I find the attacks on Obama in this thread fairly baffling. Assume he's a corporate stooge who's just providing lip service to cover up his real anti-net neutrality agenda. What do net neutrality supporters have to gain from pointing that out? Nobody's asking you to vote for him - in fact, nobody will ever ask you to vote for him again.

Fact is, the President of the United States just came out publicly in favor of net neutrality and it's causing a pretty decent press hit. If you're in favor of net neutrality, maybe looking for ways to build on that little bit of momentum would be a more productive use of your day than venting your spleen at the guy who is nominally on your side on this one issue.
posted by burden at 8:27 AM on November 10, 2014 [36 favorites]


the most effective thing that could happen is for millions of people to rally around him

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results"
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 8:27 AM on November 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Expressing disagreement or even disappointment with policy or policymaker isn't necessarily venting spleen.

Expressing anger at allies seems to me to interfere more with our political goals more than those allies expressing frustration or anger at elected officials & monied interests. We should be angry together at the common injustice, not angry at each other in ways that depress voter turnout.
posted by audi alteram partem at 8:33 AM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results"

Insanity is a legal construct that is unrelated to repeating actions. Of mental illnesses (often conflated with insanity), the ones that involve repeating the same action over and over don't involve expecting different results.

I hate "FTFY" but did you mean to say "Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results never works" or something like that?
posted by Jpfed at 8:39 AM on November 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


burden, he may be apparently aligned with my interests in this case, at this moment, but I don't think we should blindly have a love fest without seeing his historical rhetoric and actions. He didn't just come out in favor of net neutrality.
posted by Radiophonic Oddity at 8:42 AM on November 10, 2014


I think it's totally understandable to attack someone nominally "on your side" when they sell you out or do something you think is bad. But what's the point of attacking someone when they're at least nominally doing something good? I get that Obama has been a disappointment (or worse) to many people, but I don't understand why someone who supports net neutrality would use this news as an excuse to bring up a bunch of old grievances, about, say, surveillance, collective bargaining, and trade deals.

If we're talking about behaviors that depress voter turnout, I think we should think about how constant attacks on one's own "side's" elected officials, even when they're ostensibly doing something good, might affect a citizen's perception of the usefulness of voting.
posted by burden at 8:43 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I read the statement, it does nothing to address the lack of competition in the last mile. If you are stuck with Comcast now, nothing here changes that. If unanesthetized dental surgery is preferable to trying to get anything done through calling Comcast support, nothing here changes that. If you're tired of paying more per unit bandwidth than most of the rest of the developed world, nothing here will help you.
posted by indubitable at 8:43 AM on November 10, 2014


For heaven's sake. When the president says "I think this thing should be done, but I can't actually force anyone to do it", it is completely normal and reasonable to wonder if it will actually be done, and completely normal and reasonable to look at what he's done previously with the power he did have.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:43 AM on November 10, 2014 [12 favorites]


Jpfed, it's a purported Einstein quote
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 8:47 AM on November 10, 2014


audi alteram partem: I never like to underestimate the potential of "just words."

Words are wind, if not followed by actions.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:48 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sure, if what you're trying to do is evaluate the Obama legacy, then absolutely you should look at the nomination of Tom Wheeler as more important than the statement today. And of course you should consider carefully all of the other issues on which you believe his presidency has been terribly disappointing.

But if what you're trying to do is push net neutrality, then maybe it makes sense to spend today calling your member of Congress instead.
posted by burden at 8:49 AM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Who, me? My congressman is Earl Blumenauer, and my senators are Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden. They don't need me tying up their phone lines telling them to do something they're fighting tooth and nail for already. Hell, when you type Ron Wyden into Google, "Ron Wyden net neutrality" is the third autosuggest.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:57 AM on November 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think we should think about how constant attacks on one's own "side's" elected officials, even when they're ostensibly doing something good, might affect a citizen's perception of the usefulness of voting.

The problem is when Democrats mistakenly see "constant attacks" in what are actually nuanced if passionate criticisms that understand progress takes time, that offer praise along with critique, and continue to articulate ideals. And when Democrats then attack a straw-argument, accusing progressives of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good and of demanding ideological purity.

Words are wind, if not followed by actions.

Yes. Words can help influence actions. The words of others, even words not really meant or backed by actions, can be repeated and revised by others to inspire actions to achieve goals the original speaker never intended to come to fruition.

This is the history of incremental, progressive reform inspired by radical voices in the United States. Inch by inch, the elite will make some off-hand verbal concession which is picked up and amplified by the people and turned into reform.

Media consolidation and regulatory capture make our civic discourse a much less hospitable place to this reform process than it was in the days of women's suffrage or civil rights, which is why I think it all the more important to grab every possible resource that can contribute to reform, even if it's the almost entirely ceremonial words of a president.
posted by audi alteram partem at 9:03 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


maybe looking for ways to build on that little bit of momentum would be a more productive use of your day than venting your spleen at the guy who is nominally on your side on this one issue.

I don't know if he's reading this thread, but if so: Obama, I would like to publicly apologize for hurting your feelings. I know you're doing your best. I believe in you. Going forward, I promise to be nicer to you in threads on metafilter.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:05 AM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


He did not call for the internet to be a public utility. That's not what Title II does.

Title II gives the FCC the ability to regulate internet ACCESS providers -- e.g. Comcast and AT&T -- as common carriers like the phone company.

Comcast, Verizon, AT&T are not the internet, their pipes are a small but important part of it.

Saying that the FCC is trying to regulate the internet as a public utility plays into the hands of Big Cable. Please don't do it and please someone fix the FPP.
posted by arnoldsnarb at 9:07 AM on November 10, 2014 [13 favorites]


Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has already tweeted out, "'Net Neutrality' is Obamacare for the Internet

The GOP believes the reason they were given control of congress was Obamacare, and they will link *everything* to it.

This is, of course, because they were right. People who hated Obamacare voted. People who supported the ACA did not.
posted by eriko at 9:07 AM on November 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


Part of the reason, one suspects, for the piss-poor Democratic turnout this year is that we got all excited about what Obama said and voted for him, and then to a huge extent watched him not even try to walk the talk.

Arguably saying "talk's cheap, we've been here before, let's see you actually do something about it" is a constructive act.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:08 AM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results"

Apart from when he was first trying to get elected, when do you remember millions rallying around his proposals ever? Even during the now gutted ACA debates, all the most visible public presence came from the gun toting opposition during the townhall debates. He did not get especially robust public support even when he proposed things most informed people thought were decent. Up against the military complex and big business, you need nothing short of a widespread solidarity movement to accomplish anything enduring.

I support the president in this. The internet absolutely should be reclassified and regulated as a utility. All the rest is just cointerproductive political noise when what's on the table should be the point.

And I can't believe how little it seems to be sinking in to some people what a terrible betrayal of the American people the SC's partisan ruling on ACA has been. Our most vulnerable people's financial security was just deliberately thrown into chaos in service to election politics. Real American people could go broke and die thanks to what the GOP and its toadies on the court just did, and we're still talking personalities and not issues. It's a sociopolitical form of madness.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:09 AM on November 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has already tweeted out, "'Net Neutrality' is Obamacare for the Internet

But it happens to be true. It's amazing how many people on the internet are all for the government regulating the price of bandwidth, but if the government regulated the price of housing or healthcare... why that's socialism.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:13 AM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh, and there's a vigil tonight in Tom Wheeler's driveway

We need fewer candles, and more torches and pitchforks. "Give us what we want, or we'll sing for a bit and then go quietly away in the morning" isn't likely to get anywhere.
posted by tyllwin at 9:15 AM on November 10, 2014


For a President who just came out in favor of Net Neutrality, the bile and cynicism in this thread is repulsive. Way to go mid-term elections, progressives! I blame the American voters if NN fails.For

Ah, hippy punching season on Metafilter. It never gets old. One of the most persuasive reasons to vote Democratic is to avoid having to hear it in every even vaguely political thread for months on end.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:22 AM on November 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Okay, I'm calling bullshit on that. If it's wrong to make threats to Anita Sarkeesian in her home, it's wrong to make those threats on Tom Wheeler.

Tonight, on False Equivalence Theater . . .
posted by The Bellman at 9:22 AM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


When the president says "I think this thing should be done, but I can't actually force anyone to do it", it is completely normal and reasonable to wonder if it will actually be done, and completely normal and reasonable to look at what he's done previously with the power he did have.

except as has already been pointed out ... since the most recent elections, Obama really is now a guy with nothing to lose should he choose to speak (and act?) his mind. And yeah, he may not have as much power as we wish he did, but his voice still accounts for a helluva lot more than most by various levels of magnitude, if for no other reason than whenever he does open his mouth, he gets our attention. Read up a bit on on communication theory and you'll see this counts for a lot in terms of influence.

Jean Chretien comes to mind, Canada's Prime Minister twelve years ago when America was flexing its big dumb muscles for WAR against Iraq. Canada was under major pressure to join the so-called Coalition Of The Willing. I have a couple of friends who happened to meet one of his backroom guys a few years back. He told them that as far as he and all the other backroom boys were concerned, it was a done deal. Canada had to go to war because Chretien was bound by both precedent and, bluntly, his own personal commitments. That if he didn't go, he and his government would be finished, lame ducks all the way.

Except he knew something they all didn't. He'd already decided to retire. And thus he had nothing to lose but blood on his hands and sleepless nights. So he said NO. Canada stayed out of Iraq. And it was all ultimately down to one man.
posted by philip-random at 9:25 AM on November 10, 2014


Thank you, Mr. President!
posted by cjorgensen at 9:37 AM on November 10, 2014


[Deleted some comments. The "torches and pitchforks" image is sufficiently embedded in the language to not count as a threat of violence, and I trust y'all will not go further down that rhetorical route. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 9:44 AM on November 10, 2014


I'm sure this will be the start of a golden age, where Guantanamo will be closed

Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh. It was Congress that wouldn't allow Guantanamo to close. Literally the first or second thing Obama put his signature to after being sworn in back in 2009 was an executive order to close Guantanamo. As in, he'd been Presidenting for actual minutes when he ordered it. And Congress blocked it.

As for this... okay, maybe he can't issue an order to make net neutrality a Thing. But he's unequivocally stated that he supports it, which gives ammunition for everyone else who supports it! And indicating that he will do what he can! This is Obama doing what little he can to actually make a change. There's no way that anyone supporting NN would have passed the Republican obstruction-wall; a small part of me has a dream of Obama looking at Wheeler in the Oval Office, steepling his fingers, and saying "Quid pro quo, Clarice."

Okay, so that's probably unrealistic. But the fact remains: he has come out on record as supporting something that is supported by, at a wild guess, every single person in this thread. How about not shooting the messenger and instead adding your voice to the chorus? FCC isn't executive branch; he cannot issue an order to make this change. All he can do is talk. You can protest, can organize, can contact your members of Congress, and you can do all this with the President of the motherfucking United States of America saying "Yep, you're right."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:45 AM on November 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Apart from when he was first trying to get elected, when do you remember millions rallying around his proposals ever?

And why does that first event not count? Remember this?

I can't help but notice the irony of this argument. On the one hand, we're told by Democrats and crypto-Democrats that rallying around the president is the most important thing ever, especially at election time. On the other hand, the instances in which that happens -- and, of course, the promised policies are not carried out -- are waved away with a No True Scotsman.

He had support, and he bumbled it. And that's on the generous assumption that he ever intended to do anything on net neutrality to begin with. As others have pointed out, his actions (FCC head appointment, for instance) don't really support that thesis.

Hypothetically, there could be many good arguments for electing Democrats, but the performance of Democrats once they ascend to office is not one of them.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 9:45 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I find the attacks on Obama in this thread fairly baffling.

I don't. If you assume the goal of those mefites has less to do with actually working toward a better world, and more with wanting to reinforce the "Everything is going to shit" narrative, then it makes sense that mefites would complain about anything Obama would do.

.
posted by happyroach at 9:46 AM on November 10, 2014 [12 favorites]


And why does that first event not count? Remember this?

You could swap out any President in that image and it would be the same. Presidential winners tend to have a lot of support.

And that's on the generous assumption that he ever intended to do anything on net neutrality to begin with. As others have pointed out, his actions (FCC head appointment, for instance) don't really support that thesis.

Do you really think anyone supporting NN would have passed through a Republican filibuster? Honestly?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:48 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


The question now is: now that he's on our side, how can we use Obama's particular strengths and aptitudes to further the cause of Net Neutrality? It's not as easy a question as it sounds; drone strikes take a lot of planning.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:49 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't. If you assume the goal of those mefites has less to do with actually working toward a better world, and more with wanting to reinforce the "Everything is going to shit" narrative, then it makes sense that mefites would complain about anything Obama would do.


LOL I can't even.
posted by stagewhisper at 9:51 AM on November 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


FCC has been floating a series of trial balloons for a few months now about what the new regulations will be. It's been fascinating to watch. A news article will get written "FCC considering a half-measure towards net neutrality", then it shows up all over the Internet and lots of angry nerds shake their fists. But FCC doesn't care what the citizenry thinks, these trial balloons are entirely about testing the waters of the big companies who will end up giving lucrative jobs to the FCC employees when they leave.

I'm not sure what purpose the Obama statement serves in this process. Maybe it's trying to give FCC cover for doing at least a little communications regulation.

Related: America’s Intentional Broadband Duopoly, a story of how in 2001 Michael Powell, the Bush FCC Chairman, created the current market without meaningful broadband competition. It explains why US Internet is so slow and expensive.
posted by Nelson at 9:52 AM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also, it's worth considering this:

True Net Neutrality is a thing that seems, let's be charitable, unlikely to happen. It's arguable that Obama is staking out a position at the extreme end of the Overton window and trying to drag the discussion in that direction.

As for using his skills, DirtyOldTown, take his rhetoric and use it.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:56 AM on November 10, 2014


If you assume the goal of those mefites has less to do with actually working toward a better world, and more with wanting to reinforce the "Everything is going to shit" narrative, then it makes sense that mefites would complain about anything Obama would do.

Huh. That's funny. I'm willing to bet a six pack that the group of people who've actually (or effectively) given up on the Democratic party have a higher percentage of activists working on community projects than the group that's still laboring under the delusion that the Democratic Party would fix things if only the GOP would let them.
posted by mondo dentro at 9:58 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Guess that means Obama's out of that cushy lobbyist job with Comcast when he leaves office.

Remember, man, you're supposed to give 'em the Peter Finch speech only after you get the job!
posted by a lungful of dragon at 9:58 AM on November 10, 2014


Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh

So, fffm, Obama will break the law to release Guantanamo prisoners when it is politically convenient for him. Why can't he do that for all of the prisoners there, effectively closing the prison?

"But Scary Republicans!" is not a convincing answer.

Do you really think anyone supporting NN would have passed through a Republican filibuster? Honestly?

No, I don't. But Republicans also didn't make him appoint the FCC chairman.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 10:01 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Not interested in arguing about or parsing Obama's state of mind, but what does it even mean when Ted Cruz at al. say stuff like this?

"Net Neutrality" is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government. — Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) November 10, 2014

What does that mean?

Cruz's communications director Amanda Carpenter followed suit with alarmist tweets about net neutrality:

Net neutrality puts gov't in charge of determining pricing, terms of service, and what products can be delivered. Sound like Obamacare much? — Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) November 10, 2014

Just wait. Pretty soon, Obama will tell you "If you like your Internet, you can keep it." #DontNeutertheNet — Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) November 10, 2014


(And those are just damned lies.)

So now net neutrality is going to ... neuter the net? What if that's exactly what I want, a dumb pipe that doesn't try to play favorites and fuck me over?
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:05 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


So, fffm, Obama will break the law to release Guantanamo prisoners when it is politically convenient for him. Why can't he do that for all of the prisoners there, effectively closing the prison?

Because that would be stupid? He never suggested setting everyone free, he wanted to bring them under civilian legal jurisdiction, not military.

But Republicans also didn't make him appoint the FCC chairman

He should have done what, instead? Better to have someone who owes you something than not.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:08 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


At least there's the magic of #DefinitionsByTedCruz.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:09 AM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Is there any chance of discussing the actual issue here instead of having yet another "DEMOCRATS: GOOD OR BAD???" thread?

Here, I'll start:

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has already tweeted out, "'Net Neutrality' is Obamacare for the Internet
But it happens to be true.


Not really, though. It would be a huge step up from what the president actually said! If you carry the ACA analogy through, you would get marketplaces of standardized internet plans from competing providers. And federal subsidies (paid to the consumer, even!) to get lower income people on broadband. I may have issues with how the ACA wound up vs more progressive policies like single payer, but this would be huge for telecom.
posted by indubitable at 10:11 AM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


I totally respect anyone who has decided that the best way to create meaningful change is to work on community projects rather than on national-level politics. Given the dysfunction of our federal system, I think there's a lot to recommend that approach.

But, you know, there's nothing about working on local projects that requires you to talk down the efforts of people who are trying to have a positive impact at the national level as well. By all means, when the people working at the national level do something that threatens or hurts you or your projects or your people, kick back as hard as you can, even if the national-level activists are officially or supposedly "on your side."

But when there's an indication that something good could might be done at the national level, why should a local activist spend time to badmouth it or the people behind it? Even if you don't have hope that anything will come of it, why not wish the people pushing for positive change good luck, and then tend to your own projects?
posted by burden at 10:11 AM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Just looking at the actual issue on the table for a minute, is there anyone here who doesn't think it would be in everyone's best interest to support this particular proposal, anyone who doesn't think the utility reclassification is worth supporting regardless of all the unrelated issues this thread is fixated on? Because if not, how does this news not create a new opportunity for people generally to visibly support something we all think is a good idea? Forget the specific people involved for a minute. Why shouldn't we support this specific policy proposal other than out of spite?
posted by saulgoodman at 10:23 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Jpfed, it's a purported Einstein quote

If even Einstein could spout aphorisms that perpetuate ignorance about mental illness, that's more reason to correct them, not less. That "definition of insanity" cliché is bad and needs to be retired.
posted by straight at 10:24 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


He never suggested setting everyone free, he wanted to bring them under civilian legal jurisdiction, not military.

Ok, so I agree that ideally Guantanamo prisoners would stand trial in a civilian court (where, I would presume, many would be -- or at least should be -- acquitted). However, Republicans are not allowing him to close the base (although Obama's "closing" of the base would merely relocate it). So now the ball is in Obama's court. He has demonstrated that he has the power and the willingness -- under certain conditions -- to free prisoners from Guantanamo, even to the point of breaking the law. These people have been rotting in prison under literally torturous conditions for a decade. By delaying on this issue when he clearly has an alternative, Obama is effectively sentencing these people to life in prison.

Better to have someone who owes you something than not.

This is a bizarre argument for appointing a terrible person to an important policy position. Obama should have done what instead? Appoint someone at the FCC who had the public interest in mind! Any appointee would have "owed" Obama something.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 10:24 AM on November 10, 2014


I see some people can't look past personality politics even for a minute.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:26 AM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


"Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" is also, consequently, the definition of quantum physics.
posted by Zalzidrax at 10:27 AM on November 10, 2014 [20 favorites]


Applying Title II to last-mile consumer broadband is a great way to approach this. This is exactly what Mozilla [disclosure: my employer] proposed to the FCC back in May. As said above, this doesn't turn your ISP into a public utility. It just gives the FCC authority to regulate them as a common carrier, meaning the the ISP can't discriminate based on what content you're receiving or sending.
posted by mbrubeck at 10:32 AM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


This is a bizarre argument for appointing a terrible person to an important policy position. Obama should have done what instead? Appoint someone at the FCC who had the public interest in mind! Any appointee would have "owed" Obama something.

Except you just agreed that someone who supported NN wouldn't have passed a Republican filibuster. So... what should he have done instead? I'm done with the Guantanamo derail.

Forget the specific people involved for a minute. Why shouldn't we support this specific policy proposal other than out of spite?

YES. This thread is like the Platonic ideal of the circular firing squad. Obama said something that everyone here unequivocally supports but it's bad because Reasons. Ugh.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:34 AM on November 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


"Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" is also, consequently, the definition of quantum physics.

Also computer use.

This thread is like the Platonic ideal of the circular firing squad. Obama said something that everyone here unequivocally supports but it's bad because Reasons. Ugh.

Not saying it's bad. Just saying it's probably a lot of hot air with nothing substantial behind it (yeah, yeah, I know, it's my personal responsibility to "build on it," not the huge, established political machine's responsibility to do anything worthwhile).
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:39 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Obama said something that everyone here unequivocally supports but it's bad because Reasons.

I've reviewed the thread. It seems people are criticizing the move as undercut by his previous actions and lacking in any concrete impact, so their lack of support is because they perceive this move as largely useless. So yes, reasons. Pretty persuasive reasons if you agree with their read on the situation.

If the FCC chair is truly anti-NN, then this is definitely all a waste of time, right? Completely unbreakable long known scientific facts about politics compel us to accept that we can't nominate somebody better since the Republicans will not confirm him or her, so why bother with this now?
posted by Drinky Die at 10:40 AM on November 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


So is the argument that this is a diversionary tactic then? How does it hurt the cause everyone agrees is a good one for people to be "diverted" into supporting it? There are still lots of real activists working hard on this issue who would fervently say now is always the time to act on it. Are they wrong?
posted by saulgoodman at 10:49 AM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


If the FCC chair is truly anti-NN, then this is definitely all a waste of time, right?

The other four members of the board are evenly split, with two strongly NN and two strongly laissez-faire. Wheeler actually leans toward the former overall (I know, mirabile dictu) and this seems to be largely due to the optics of it. So this here proclamation may actually help tip him the right way, at least toward a more tolerable compromise than we might otherwise get.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:52 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


burden: I totally respect anyone who has decided that the best way to create meaningful change is to work on community projects rather than on national-level politics. Given the dysfunction of our federal system, I think there's a lot to recommend that approach. But...

Agreed. But that's not what was said, or what I responded to. It always devolves into a pissing match between the lefties who support the Dem establishment vs. the more motley group of lefties who are disgusted with it. Yep. It's pretty boring.

There seems to be little appreciation of how lefty critics and activists--even fringe types--can synergize with the political establishment to actually change the political climate over the long run. Indeed, I'd say that's a fundamental, underlying flaw of the Democratic Party as a whole. It's lost track of its natural ideology (basically, let's face it, class struggle) and sold out to corporate interests. This ideological cognitive dissonance creates a situation where the Dems cannot create politically successful narratives, and without that they can't figure out how to create coherent policy, platforms, and legislation. Obama was a master of narrative during his 2008 campaign, but afterwards... zilch.

So that naturally leaves the Dems as a party with no message: they follow the polls, nibble around the edges, and only "believe" in things that can, say, pass a 60 vote threshold. I said a month or so ago (here, somewhere) that if the Dems ran from the ACA they'd be "slaughtered in retreat". They did, and they were.

At least we can be happy that gay rights do not appear to offend their corporate paymasters, so the Dems are at least able to make progress on that front.

saulgoodman: Just looking at the actual issue on the table for a minute, is there anyone here who doesn't think it would be in everyone's best interest to support this particular proposal, anyone who doesn't think the utility reclassification is worth supporting regardless of all the unrelated issues this thread is fixated on?

I think it's great. It's great now. And, guess what? It was great two years ago. You know, before the GOP controlled both houses. So, yeah, this should be done. One can be happy he said it, and still grumble about it's timing, and skeptical of its sincerity. Are we now so pathetic that we're supposed to have a parade when the establishment throws us some crumbs?!
posted by mondo dentro at 10:53 AM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


It isn't just hippie punching season, Drinky Die, but straw man season as well.

*Nobody* in this thread is arguing against net neutrality. Absolutely nobody.

People are simply expressing their *extreme skepticism* that, given Obama's past actions (or lack thereof), anything good will come of this announcement, which, so far as we know, is not any change in his purported position.

And, speaking for a probably smaller segment that includes myself, we're arguing against the implied political move of "therefore everyone has to rally around the Democrats." Which (see previous paragraph) has not borne fruit as a political strategy, on this and many other issues.

And, now just speaking for myself, the condescension that Democrats and fellow travelers show to anyone that opposes their strategy of continuous mobilization for Democrats really doesn't win them any allies outside of the already convinced. I feel like I need a Democrat apologist Bingo card for these threads.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 10:56 AM on November 10, 2014


So is the argument that this is a diversionary tactic then? How does it hurt the cause everyone agrees is a good one for people to be "diverted" into supporting it? There are still lots of real activists working hard on this issue who would fervently say now is always the time to act on it. Are they wrong?

I personally believe in the power of the Presidency to influence the public and their view of political issues in significant ways, something I have routinely taken flak for here in the past. I believe that this move definitely increases the chances of net neutrality being a thing and people should rally around the President on this issue.

However, some have just spent so many years promoting the idea that everything is hopeless in the face of Republican opposition that I don't blame people for not bothering, just like I don't blame them for not voting in the recent election. People need something to fight for, maybe this can be a start. It would have been nice to get this sort of start before the election was over, but look to the future for now. Hopefully he can stake out some more strong positions going forward, he is going to be in a tough battle with Republicans on literally everything and he can't afford to be doing it without some of the public strongly and vocally on his side.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:56 AM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


For all that he pretended not to, I suspect Wheeler understood John Oliver's "dingo babysitter" joke and he shows every indication of being worried about this atypically broad public awareness of the appearance of regulatory capture. I don't think this is his native position, I think we might actually be doing some good.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:02 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has already tweeted out, "'Net Neutrality' is Obamacare for the Internet

But it happens to be true.


Not really, though. It would be a huge step up from what the president actually said! If you carry the ACA analogy through, you would get marketplaces of standardized internet plans from competing providers. And federal subsidies (paid to the consumer, even!) to get lower income people on broadband. I may have issues with how the ACA wound up vs more progressive policies like single payer, but this would be huge for telecom.

first off, the subsidies are paid to "internet" providers not consumers AKA comcast, which is surely hurting for federal dollars.

but the issue is whether the market can effectively regulate the supply of a nominal commodity, in this case, "broadband." the whole issue of "net neutrality" implies that the consumers, in fact, hate the way the market, as it exists, seems to be allocating and determining prices for broadband. if you are an ideologue like Cruz this is unpossible.

what it comes down to is that white middle class dudes are perfectively happy for the government to give them handouts (i.e. net neutrality), just as long as the handout is being able to torrent whatever they want at good rates. so, if the government can give you fast torrents, maybe it could pay your college tuition and even give you health care!
posted by ennui.bz at 11:02 AM on November 10, 2014


Also, bear in mind that all the technology leaders are pushing for NN, including the most valuable company in the world. Wheeler may represent (or to be generous, may have represented) the telecommunications industry but they don't wave the biggest capitalist stick. So what we have here is an attack on two fronts. There's hope for it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:09 AM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


including the most valuable company in the world

(I take it back -- Apple has been curiously quiet about net neutrality. I thought I understood otherwise.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:12 AM on November 10, 2014


first off, the subsidies are paid to "internet" providers not consumers AKA comcast, which is surely hurting for federal dollars.

Right, the subsidies-to-consumers thing was carrying through the ACA analogy.

what it comes down to is that white middle class dudes are perfectively happy for the government to give them handouts (i.e. net neutrality), just as long as the handout is being able to torrent whatever they want at good rates.

Right, that's pretty much what the president's proposal does. Nothing fixing the abysmal customer service or monopoly pricing, but hey, your Netflix idiot box won't slow down.
posted by indubitable at 11:13 AM on November 10, 2014


Given the timing, I can't help but see this as additional evidence for my impression that this has been, on balance, a very weak and cowardly administration, led by a spineless creature whose convictions, if he had any to begin with, seemed to have abandoned him from almost the moment that he took office.

Recall, for example, Obama's Gerald Ford-like refusal to cast sunlight on the excesses of the Bush administration, and his reluctance to even admit to the obvious fact that our military and intelligence services had used torture as a means of interrogation.

Recall Obama's quick retreat from his stated intention to close Guantanamo.

Recall Obama's plainly token "support" for the Public Option.

Recall Obama's much belated "evolution" on Gay Marriage.1

The thing that really showed me the measure of this administration, however, was an objectively smaller disappointment than any of these: their embarrassingly premature excommunication of Shirley Sherrod after Breitbart's hack job. Fear is one of the most effective means of manipulation -- perhaps second in this regard only to love -- and it was clear from their actions that they were above all else deathly afraid.

If Barack Obama believed in fostering net neutrality, and that Internet access should be classified as a utility (as it so plainly is), he should have advanced that doctrine back when it mattered, back when he had skin in the game, back when it might have fostered more than what will likely be an insubstantial, inconsequential debate.
---
  1. In case you'd forgotten, Obama was basically pushed into admitting his support following one of Joe Biden's classic Kinsleyan gaffes.
posted by The Confessor at 11:40 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Recall Obama's quick retreat from his stated intention to close Guantanamo.

You mean the stated intention that was blocked by Congress?

Recall Obama's much belated "evolution" on Gay Marriage.1

I don't think that was a reaction to a gaffe at all. I think they used Biden to float a trial balloon. Reeks of politics, yes, but it was way too pat not to be planned.

Back to this issue: in what way does the President coming out in support of Net Neutrality harm the desire for NN? How does it not help to have him on-side? Would it be better if he had said nothing?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:50 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Or to put it another way, which is more constructive:

1) Writing to your members of Congress, organizing, protesting, spreading awareness

or

2) Engaging in the predictable circular firing squad because Obama said something you agree with and he's not perfect?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:52 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I do both!
posted by Drinky Die at 11:52 AM on November 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


Fear is one of the most effective means of manipulation -- perhaps second in this regard only to love -- and it was clear from their actions that they were above all else deathly afraid.

I am not at all sure that this is just rhetoric. Obama has so often not followed through on stuff he said was important to him, that I could believe somebody did the equivalent of putting a bullet in his mailbox, accompanied by a note of the "Nice family you've got here. Be a shame if anything happened to them" variety. Cheney's I-told-you-so gloating did nothing to weaken the notion.


Anybody know where I can find some tinfoil? All they have in the stores is aluminum.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:07 PM on November 10, 2014


purported Einstein quote

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Variously misattributed to figures also including Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain. The earliest known occurrence, and probable origin, is from a 1981 text from Narcotics Anonymous.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 12:07 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Agreeing with Drinky Die, I don't see why we can't criticize Obama's hesitant posturing on this as well as contact our representatives for positive change. Does doing one really preclude doing the other?
posted by Radiophonic Oddity at 12:12 PM on November 10, 2014


What purpose does the other serve except for empty grousing? He can't be re-elected as President, it's highly unlikely he'll go into other political office, his elected career is over.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:26 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


...Ted Cruz at al. say stuff like this?

"Net Neutrality" is Obamacare for the Internet...

What does that mean?


It means Ted Cruz is an idiot.
posted by Catblack at 12:29 PM on November 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


I guess I should keep my stray thought about whether this is a timely and possibly meatless bone he's throwing to distract our attention from the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks to myself.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:33 PM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]




What purpose does the other serve except for empty grousing? He can't be re-elected as President, it's highly unlikely he'll go into other political office, his elected career is over.

I don't think I'm wearing tin foil when I say that it seems extraordinarily common for the political press to latch on to white-house-fed stories that deflect attention from other stories.
posted by Radiophonic Oddity at 1:08 PM on November 10, 2014


George_Spiggott, sorry for the somewhat redundant thought. Though Valerie Jarrett's profile itself (linked to in my previous comment) may be meant to distract from the TPP talks.
posted by Radiophonic Oddity at 1:17 PM on November 10, 2014


Two informative links from the EFF (I had to slow down a bit to understand them, admittedly):

The White House Gets It Right On Net Neutrality. Will the FCC?

Wisely, [Obama's] statement explicitly notes the need for forbearance. As we have said for months, reclassification must be combined with a commitment to forbear from imposing aspects of Title II that were originally drafted for 20th century telephone services and that don't make sense for the Internet. While forbearance doesn’t set the limits on the regulatory agency in stone, it does require the FCC to make a public commitment that is difficult to reverse.

And a "forbearance" link:

Forbearance: What It Is, Why It’s Essential to Net Neutrality

Forbearance is crucial to net neutrality because it helps to limit FCC regulation. If the FCC reclassifies broadband as a telecommunications service, which it must if it is going to do its part to protect an open and neutral Internet, then many folks fear it will be obligated to impose on the Internet a whole set of rules that were developed for telephone service. That would be a disaster, because most of those rules just don’t make sense when we’re talking about Internet infrastructure. For example, there are rules about obscene phone calls, rate schedules, telephone operator services, carrier reporting requirements, etc., that could lead to a host of new problems if misapplied to our Internet.

Forbearance is how we help ensure the FCC does what is necessary – and no more. It isn’t an iron-clad limit; the FCC must choose to do it, and it can change course if need be. But having made the choice to forbear, the FCC can’t change its mind willy-nilly, or in secret. Instead, it has to invite public comment, and respond to public concerns. If Internet users stay vigilant, forbearance would give us some lasting confidence that the FCC couldn’t use "net neutrality" as an excuse to interfere with free expression and innovation.

posted by mediareport at 1:23 PM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Apart from when he was first trying to get elected, when do you remember millions rallying around his proposals ever?

yea, i was just reading this; key graphs:

The Obama Whisperer: No one has understood Valerie Jarrett's role, until now
The Obama era has been deeply disorienting for the left. Eight years ago, progressives would have delighted at the idea of a president who withdrew from Iraq, remade the rules for Wall Street, slowed the proliferation of greenhouse gases, brought the country within spitting distance of universal health care, and multiplied the rights of gays and lesbians. And yet it’s hard to be a self-respecting progressive these days and not feel a frustration that borders on disillusionment. The victories have been muddled, the errors unforced, the ambitions preemptively scaled back.

How could these two legacies coexist in one presidency? They emanate from the worldview that Jarrett and Obama share—call it “boardroom liberalism.” It’s a worldview that’s steeped in social progressivism, in the values of tolerance and diversity. It takes as a given that government has a role to play in building infrastructure, regulating business, training workers, smoothing out the boom-bust cycles of the economy, providing for the poor and disadvantaged. But it is a view from on high—one that presumes a dominant role for large institutions like corporations and a wisdom on the part of elites. It believes that the world works best when these elites use their power magnanimously, not when they’re forced to share it. The picture of the boardroom liberal is a corporate CEO handing a refrigerator-sized check to the head of a charity at a celebrity golf tournament. All the better if they’re surrounded by minority children and struggling moms.

Notwithstanding his early career as a community organizer, Obama, like Jarrett, is fundamentally a man of the inside. It’s why he put a former Citigroup executive and Robert Rubin chief of staff named Michael Froman in charge of assembling his economic team in 2008, why he avoided a deep restructuring of Wall Street, why he abruptly junked the public option during the health care debate, why he so ruthlessly pursues leakers and the journalists who cultivate them. It explains why so many of his policy ideas—from jobs for the long-term unemployed to mentoring minority youth—rely on the largesse of corporations.

It’s the boardroom liberal in Obama who gets bent out of shape over criticism from outsiders, despite having once urged progressives to press him the way civil rights activists like A. Philip Randolph pressured Franklin Roosevelt. He is a president profoundly uncomfortable with populist rhetoric. He prefers to negotiate behind closed doors, as he did on the stimulus, health care, and deficit reduction, rather than wage a state-by-state political campaign to force concessions. Except for a handful of moments over the last six years—like when the administration tried to pass a second stimulus bill known as the American Jobs Act—Obama has rarely tried to mobilize public opinion in any sustained fashion. He has been consistently slow and half-hearted about taking unilateral action.
i'd just note that on this issue silicon valley writ large (read netflix) has been against telecomms/cable on net neutrality and obama has been making a number of trips to the bay area (read palo alto) "to negotiate behind closed doors..."
posted by kliuless at 1:23 PM on November 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


sorry for the somewhat redundant thought

Not in the least. What put me in mind of it is that the TPP is of major interest to many of the same people as Net Neutrality: it's on track to have broad and far-reaching effects on common carrier protection to speech (not so much in the US but in countries that have stronger laws), copyright terms and a host of other IP-related matters, none of them positive to the sort of folk who favor Net Neutrality. It's actually kind of perfect.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:25 PM on November 10, 2014


> ...Ted Cruz at al. say stuff like this?
"Net Neutrality" is Obamacare for the Internet...
What does that mean?


Catblack: It means Ted Cruz is an idiot.

Noted without comment:

Texas Senator Ted Cruz may be next-in-line to become chair of the Subcommittee on Science and Space, which oversees agencies like the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:32 PM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Texas Senator Ted Cruz may be next-in-line to become chair of the Subcommittee on Science and Space, which oversees agencies like the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

As someone who is currently on an NSF grant and whose colleagues depend on that funding, I think I speak for most of us when I emit this anguished scream: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
posted by dialetheia at 2:23 PM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]



Doesn't go far enough. He is asking the FCC to declare it a utility so that they can impose regulations, but not pricing. In many places there is a de-facto monopoly on broadband, and the FCC needs to assure that there is fair pricing across the board.


Doesn't go far enough. This needs to become a giant TVA/Interstate Highway-sized public works infrastructure project. Lay fiber to every business, home, shed, and desert toilet shack in America. Let the telcos pitch a fit about it. At this point, I don't even care if it gets hooked up to anything; simply _laying_ it will have an enormous benefit to the economy because jobs and shit, and then we'll have some infrastructure in the ground. Turn it over to the US Postal Service under the guise of "Article I, Section 8, Clause 7" for all I care.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 2:26 PM on November 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


The Obama administration did do a giant infrastructure project for Internet. For example, the California Next-Generation Broadband Infrastructure Project got a whole lot of federal funding and has run a big fat line of fibre in a loop around a populated rural part of central/northern California. Access terms are very favorable to small businesses, too. It's great infrastructure.

Only problem is that you still have to get it the last mile, from the backbone to each house. And the only companies with wires like that already are AT&T and Comcast. Which have zero incentive for expanding service outside their content bundles serving TV and phone alongside Internet. They also have no interest expanding service beyond the most profitable urban clusters, so folks who live a mile out of town are screwed. And forget the people ten miles out of town.
posted by Nelson at 2:42 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]




Net Neutrality and Annals of the New Bipartisan Governing, Cont'd, Charles P. Pierce, Esquire Politics Blog, 10 November 2014
The president put his administration squarely behind net neutrality today. (Where in the name of god was this before a midterm election when, because the kidz stayed home, the average age of the voter was approximately half-past the Hallmark Channel? Yeesh.) It is straight populism, offered in language very simple and very clear.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:59 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


There is no B-3 bomber.
posted by moink at 5:10 PM on November 10, 2014


It's a little baffling, yeah. It's not like coming out and going, "Legalize it!" to try and get the youth vote which might have some backlash from older folks. It's just something that might have gotten a little more youth turnout and left seniors going, "Huh, what?" There's a reason Cruz had to call it Obamacare, it's an issue that is totally otherwise unexplainable to his base.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:12 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


feckless fecal fear mongering wrote: Do you really think anyone supporting NN would have passed through a Republican filibuster? Honestly?

Wait, is this rhetorical question at all apropos? You're suggesting that anti net-neutrality has somehow been a high-stakes litmus-test issue among Republicans for the past 6 years? Sure, some of them are taking the opportunity now to rally against the phrase "net neutrality," but isn't that them just manufacturing a fake wedge issue by misinterpreting what's being discussed?

I feel like maybe it's gotten lost in this thread (and among recently vocal Republicans) that the sort of Net Neutrality that's being argued for is basically enshrining in policy the way things have already been working for decades, apart from recent ISP<>Netflix payment deals. There are other topics that occasionally fall under the "net neutrality" banner, but isn't the issue currently under discussion primarily about making sure ISPs can't discriminate based on the content or source of the data they're transmitting to their customers? You really think that's something the Republicans care about en masse?

Am I wrong about those two things? I'm surprised this part of feckless's claim hasn't seemed to have gotten any pushback in this thread, and I suspect part of it is because we're all shellshocked by the large number of appointments the Republicans were filibustering, and so it feels sort of natural to assume that would be the case here, too. You really think they cared enough about net neutrality to have filibustered, say, a former-executive from a technology company vs. a former cable/communications industry lobbyist? Or that they would have filibustered some garden-variety appointee without prior ties to the industry (as I think most previous chairs have been)?
posted by nobody at 6:23 PM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Another Visit To FCC Chairman Wheeler's House

We ended the day as we began it — in the driveway outside of FCC Chair Tom Wheeler’s house, but this visit was very different.

A lot had happened since our first visit. President Obama spoke out in favor of everything we wanted: reclassification and net neutrality. He recognized the importance of equal access for all and the role of the Internet in encouraging creativity in the economy. After the president spoke out it was like a dam being opened. All sorts of key people, trade associations and corporations came out for reclassification and net neutrality. These new additions to the discussion showed a strong national consensus developing in favor of the proposals the net neutrality community has been urging.

We decided to give Tom Wheeler and his wife a bottle of wine. In it we included the lyrics of the song “Which Side Are You On, Tom?” as well as a note saying “We are looking to support at Internet hero?” signed by the People. Wheeler came home, shook our hands and we had a friendly exchange, then we spoke about the national consensus that was developing and how the rulemaking proceeding had served an excellent role in helping to create that consensus. We also said that the Internet community would support Wheeler if he reclassified and ensured net neutrality; and that we would defend the proposal if it were attacked. We also urged the FCC to make a decision at their next meeting on December 11 and not delay the process. It is time to put into effect the national consensus that has developed and move forward to build a better Internet, with more access in rural and poor communities as well as faster service for all.

posted by mediareport at 8:27 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I tend to look at this like a chess game. As kliuless's comment mentions, Obama is a boardroom insider liberal. He had health care companies help him get the health care act passed. And he put a telecom lobbyist as head of the FCC in return for their support of Democrats.

Except with this election, Democrats no longer have corporate telecom support.

In my opinion, this is Obama striking back. You want to back out of supporting us? Then don't expect us to support you. I'm guessing this kills any chance of a Comcast/Time Warner deal getting through too.

The telecom industry used to be heavily regulated, but now that the wired phone industry is rapidly declining an the Internet is taking its place, the old rules no longer apply and it is fast approaching the time for the FCC to decide how this new industry is regulated. Maybe the telecom industry thought they'd have a better chance with the Republicans, but at the risk of angering the Executive office, which it seems to me is exactly what has happened.
posted by eye of newt at 8:54 PM on November 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


Thank you for an analysis that goes waaaaay beyond "Obama isn't good enough, so he's all bad!", eye of newt.

I've personally never decided what Obama really is, but I'm pretty sure he plays a longer, more backhanded game to get what he wants than most liberals realize. And I'm pretty sure he supports many (mainstream) liberal causes - even if he seems to have bought into the military/security theater bullshit narrative.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:00 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think that while framing Net Neutrality issue as one of public utility makes sense for legal and regulatory purposes, it also spurs the knee-jerk anti-government reaction from the right. If you really want to win them over, I think it's better to appeal to their economic sensibilities by framing it on the broader global economic scale.

While other public utilities serve customers with something that is primarily part of the internal domestic infrastructure, the domestic internet is just a branch of the broader global internet/economy. By leaving the state of American Internet up to ISPs and other entities that have no interest or need to compete on a global scale, you're setting yourself up for failure to compete with the speeds and bandwidth prices that other nations can offer. As first world countries increasingly shift to net-based service economies, physical borders become less and less meaningful, and if your country can't offer the same internet infrastructure as others, then people will simply set up shop somewhere else.
posted by p3t3 at 12:52 AM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Note the Republican talking point in eye of newt's link:

Reclassification would heap 80 years of regulatory baggage on broadband providers

This is directly addressed in the EFF's "Forbearance: What It Is, Why It’s Essential to Net Neutrality" link from last July. It was also directly addressed in Obama's statement.
posted by mediareport at 4:31 AM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Fantastic. Now the GOP will rally everything it has to defeat an issue they probably didn't give a crap about a week ago.

Why couldn't he endorse not walking into the ocean?
posted by Legomancer at 6:50 AM on November 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


Let's hope this means he's now going to govern like a President with nothing left to lose.

I generally give this President a lot of credit for what he's been able to accomplish in the face of such coordinated ignorance and obstinacy, but *sigh* I wish our leaders could govern like they have nothing left to lose... before they actually have nothing left to lose.
posted by duffell at 6:54 AM on November 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Every battle is won before it is ever fought - Sun Tzu
posted by any major dude at 9:11 AM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Every battle is won before it is ever fought - Sun Tzu

except for the few that aren't.

Waterloo and Gettysburg are two that immediately come to mind, and my military history is anything but thorough.
posted by philip-random at 9:49 AM on November 11, 2014


The headline the SF Chronicle went with was "Obama pushes Internet equality". I like that phrase, "Internet equality".
posted by Nelson at 12:02 PM on November 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


except for the few that aren't.

Like most of WW I.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:47 PM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


At some point, actions speak louder than words and that point was a long time ago. Obama's words have lagged his actions for years on every issue important to progressives

No, progressives fucked up big time in 2010 mid-terms and just as bad in 2014. Obama is only as strong as his opponents are weak. And progressives, by watching TV on election day instead of voting, ensured his opponents are very strong, it puts Obama in a situation were he can't govern the way he (and you) would prefer. Why did he give the FCC post to a Republican? I don't know but these are political posts. A strong Republican party is not going to let Obama install just anyone in the FCC position. See, in politics, the ways things work is compromise, deals, bargains, etc.. and the stronger your opponent the harder it is to do what you want. Maybe he had to give up the FCC post in exchange for his pick for some other post (health, environment etc). I don't know but I can assure you that if the Dems had all three branches (plus majority in SCOTUS) there would not be an issue with NN at this point but that would have required people to vote 2, 4 and 8 years ago. The votes in 2014 are going to be responsible for the problems 2, 4 and 8 years into the future.
posted by stbalbach at 1:28 PM on November 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


... as it occurs to me that this ...

“Cynicism is no more mature than naïveté. You're no more mature, just more burned.”
― Karl Marlantes, What It is Like to Go to War


... is as relevant here as the Veteran's Day thread.
posted by philip-random at 2:00 PM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]




How Much Money Big Cable Gave the Politicians Who Oversee the Internet
Minutes after President Obama unveiled his plan for net neutrality yesterday, Republicans leaders like Ted Cruz came out swinging. You can chalk up the backlash to more than just partisan spite; Cruz has taken his share of campaign money from telecom giants. And he's far from the exception.

Democrats and Republicans alike received over $8 million from the four major telecom companies and their trade group in the 2014 election alone. For some context, the top five pharmaceutical groups spent only half as much in the same cycle.
...
The Federal Election Commission also tracks the employer of individuals who contribute to campaigns. This might not seem relevant, until you see that from 2013 to 2014 Pryor received $30,750 from employees of Comcast, all of eight of whom are Comcast executives. In total, Comcast has actually spent $70,650 on Pryor, becoming his second biggest contributor. For his part, the senator has never made a strong stance on net neutrality.

If it all seems confusing, yes, that is deliberate. If it all seems like a way to obfuscate exactly how much money is going where, yes, that is deliberate, too.
...
The lone senator on the subcommittee who has not taken money from the telecom industry is Maria Cantwell of Washington. It's probably no coincidence that back in 2011, she introduced a bill to strengthen net neutrality rules.
Everyone on the House subcommittee took money from the telecom industry. Ffffuuuuuu....
posted by filthy light thief at 9:52 PM on November 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


No, progressives fucked up big time in 2010 mid-terms and just as bad in 2014. Obama is only as strong as his opponents are weak. And progressives, by watching TV on election day instead of voting, ensured his opponents are very strong, it puts Obama in a situation were he can't govern the way he (and you) would prefer.

Or they grew discouraged when Obama immediately repudiated campaign promises? That and, you know, voter suppression.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:56 AM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


It seems to me there's a bit of a disconnect here: Going into the election, we could all see overwhelming signs/evidence the Republicans electoral strategy would be to suppress votes and discourage turnout. Most of the non-partisan post-election analysis is concluding that "turnout" was what ultimately decided the election for the Republicans, and yet, for the life of me, I can't see how that result really means anything deeper or more profound than that the Republicans vote suppression efforts worked. In which case, there's no way to read any real meaningful political message out of this other than "suppressing votes helps the Republican party," which has already been conventional wisdom for many years in US politics.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:15 AM on November 12, 2014


California only had a 32% turnout for this election. There was no significant Republican-sponsored voter suppression in California. The low turnout is a combination of apathy along with very little meaningful choice in elections, particularly in our heavily Democrat state. And that's despite California doing its best to keep elections interesting with competing Democrats on the ballot.

The Economist has a good article this week about US voter apathy that gets to some of the reasons why. American democracy: Powering down.
posted by Nelson at 10:39 AM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Than goodness we have FreedomWorks to clear up net neutrality for us.
posted by madamjujujive at 1:56 PM on November 12, 2014


Voter turnout for 2014 was the worse in 72 years. I'm curious by this narrative that this is Obama's fault. A single man who has better approval ratings than many other Presidents in the past 72 years. Most presidents are lame ducks in the 4th quarter. Also the idea that Obama hasn't done anything, is tepid, etc.. doesn't hold up when looking at the list of accomplishments.
posted by stbalbach at 2:12 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Tom Wheeler Still Wants To 'Split The Baby'; Forgetting That The Point Of That Story Was Not To Actually Split The Baby

Tell me again how Obama's statement is going to change Wheeler's mind when it's already made up in favor of his past and future employers.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:42 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Net Neutrality is Just a Symptom. The CEO of the awesome Bay Area ISP sonic.net calls for more broadband competition.
posted by Nelson at 4:51 PM on November 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Musk is going micro-satellite, Zuckerberg is going with solar drones, Page is really fucking into dark fiber and lighter-than-air craft. These guys adore taking on dinosaurs and feeding them their own entrails. Once Cooke announces his own "death from above" internet solution that is the best-of-breed, everyone will standardize on its workalike.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:15 PM on November 13, 2014


Mark Cuban: Net neutrality is "straight out of Ayn Rand"
posted by octothorpe at 7:26 PM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


We can get the GOP on board with this new-fangled "net neutrality" thing by informing their pals in Wall Street that Comcast et al can and will charge $100.00 per kb of packet transfer with high-frequency-trading network packets.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 8:28 PM on November 15, 2014


Or they grew discouraged when Obama immediately repudiated campaign promises?

Not sure which ones you mean but I doubt they were so important to so many people it caused the worst defeat in 72 years. On the "big four" issues Obama has already delivered on his promises and could retire today having done what he set out to do in his 2009 acceptance speech.
posted by stbalbach at 2:30 PM on November 20, 2014


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