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First up, net neutrality. Chloe Albanesius at PCMag runs through the background and the controversy:
OK, so what's the problem? The first report about the FCC rules came from the Wall Street Journal, which said that "broadband providers [could] charge companies a premium for access to their fastest lanes." And that is basically the complete antithesis of what net neutrality stands for.

How does the FCC explain that one? Again, nothing is set in stone, but from what the agency is saying, companies are free to enter into certain arrangements, but they shouldn't press their luck because if the FCC deems it to be "commercially unreasonable," it can step in and make them stop it.

Chris Morran at The Consumerist:
It’s true that the proposal does introduce transparency to the process and it does prohibit the outright blocking of content, but it’s the “no unreasonable discrimination” part that Wheeler is hoping to slip past the public.
He is trying to convince consumers of this illusory notion that ISPs will continue innovating and improving delivery speeds for everybody, but that there will be rare circumstances in which a content provider will pay for extra-special treatment.
But what incentive would ISPs have to make quality connections available to market-wide when there is money to be made in holding end-users as hostages to demand higher fees?
And from our very own Joan McCarter, in case you missed it:
The big, rich companies can pay for high bandwidth, small companies like Daily Kos can't. We'll be left in the slow lane. The rules will say that ISP won't be allowed to deliberately slow down traffic from specific sites, but that's the only thing that would be left of the Net neutrality that has allowed the Internet to change the world.

Giving ISPs the power to demand pay-for-priority schemes would be disastrous for startups, nonprofits and small companies, not to mention everyday Internet users.

Make sure to sign the petition to save net neutrality, and then head on below the fold for more.

The New York Times:

Dividing traffic on the Internet into fast and slow lanes is exactly what the Federal Communications Commission would do with its proposed regulations, unveiled this week. And no amount of reassurances about keeping competition alive will change that fact.
Tim Wu at The New Yorker wades through the spin:
If reports in the Wall Street Journal are correct, Obama’s chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Thomas Wheeler, has proposed a new rule that is an explicit and blatant violation of [Obama's net neutrality campaign] promise. In fact, it permits and encourages exactly what Obama warned against: broadband carriers acting as gatekeepers and charging Web sites a payola payment to reach customers through a “fast lane.”

Late last night Wheeler released a statement accusing the Wall Street Journal of being “flat-out wrong.” Yet the Washington Post has confirmed, based on inside sources, that the new rule gives broadband providers “the ability to enter into individual negotiations with content providers … in a commercially reasonable matter.” That’s telecom-speak for payola payments, and a clear violation of Obama’s promise.

Kevin Roose at New York Magazine gives an overview of the reaction from the tech sphere, and makes this final point:
a rule finally and officially declaring the end of net neutrality would mean that techies have been right in their paranoia all along. Unless they're prepared to change their minds, or unless early reports are sorely mistaken, the FCC should gird themselves for a backlash like none other they've seen before.
Turning now to welfare farmer and lawbreaker Cliven Owen, Jonathan Capehart gives his take on Owen's latest controversial comments:
What’s as sad as it is outrageous is that Bundy is not alone in harboring the belief that subjugation of plantation life was so much better for African Americans than the hard-scrabble life of freedom many lead today. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Arkansas state Rep. Jon Hubbard (R) and others come to mind.

As Nagourney reported, this flurry of offensiveness had Republican elected officials who had praised Bundy running for cover. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who had called Bundy’s supporters “patriots,” at least had the guts to say through his spokesperson that he “completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy’s appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way.” If more Republicans would move as quickly to stomp the racism in their midst, their party and our nation might start to get past this foolishness.

Jimmy Williams at US News:
He believes in using us in the press as his bully pulpit and we let him. Bundy believes in a land mass of 50 states, not one nation of 50 states. He’s a secessionist. He’s not a patriot as some have called him. George Washington was a patriot – who, not for nothing, used force to put down citizens who refused to pay the federal excise tax in the Whiskey Rebellion. Abraham Lincoln was a patriot, who by the way implemented the federal income tax. I’d love to hear Bundy’s wise opinion on Lincoln. No doubt he’ll tell us if we let him. No doubt we’ll give him that microphone. We should.

I guess the question we must ask is, does Cliven Bundy represent a thin and narrow sliver of American society or is he something bigger? With freedom fighters and birthers and tea partiers and their ilk rallying behind him and his right to steal from the American taxpayer, I’m convinced this man is no sliver of hate. Clearly, the freedom fighters hate what America has become and they’re convinced President Obama is leading us all down the path to Hell. Their new spokesman? Cliven Bundy. [...]

I don’t know Mr. Bundy but I knew his type when I was a kid. There’s not much difference between my father and Bundy. That makes me sad. I always held my father on a pedestal even with his grotesque flaws. When I hear the Cliven Bundys of the world spew out their filth, their racism, I’m reminded of my ignorant childhood, of my grandmother’s and daddy’s view of the world and I’m horrified.

David Firestone at The New York Times warns against slavery nostalgia:
Northerners may be a little shocked that anyone could feel a bit nostalgic for slavery, in the manner of the government-hating Nevada rancher, Cliven Bundy. But in the South, such sentiments are hardly unheard of, even if they are usually muttered in private over a few bourbons rather than spoken at a news conference.
Jay Bookman at The Atlanta Journal Constitution:
The issue, in my mind, is that Williamson, Hannity and others have taken advantage of a man of limited intellect, experience and sophistication to serve their own political agendas. Even while acknowledging that Bundy has no legal case, they've pumped him up into their champion, egging him on to engage in armed battle with the federal government, all so that they can enjoy the exhilaration of cordite and bloodshed second hand. It's porno for "patriots," and it's deeply troubling and irresponsible. [...]

Not every idiot who yells "freedom" and "down with tyranny" deserves your support. Unless you're looking for cheap, vicarious thrills, the cause should matter. This isn't John Brown fighting slavery. Patrick Henry didn't yell "Give me free grazing rights or give me death" at his fellow delegates at the Virginia Convention. And if you are so starved for examples of government repression that you have to rally behind an idiot whose great, principled cause is free cattle fodder, then maybe, just maybe, government repression isn't the huge, massive problem that you like to pretend it is.

I don't plan to write on this topic again, although if the standoff comes to a violent outcome I'll have no choice. But frankly, it angers me: If Bundy, his sons or his misguided followers become so besotted with their image as martyrs that they go down in a blaze of gunfire, and if they take down a few public servants along the way, Hannity, Fox News, Williamson and others will have a lot more to answer for than groundless charges of racism.


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