Thursday Reads: Net Neutrality, Sandy Hook Anniversary, and Trump’s Megalomania

MA Sen. Ed Markey speaks at net neutrality rally outside FCC headquarters this morning.

Good Morning!!

Today the FCC will vote to kill net neutrality rules. That should set off a number of lawsuits and protests. The Commission meeting is happening right now.

NBC News: Net neutrality: FCC to vote on rules that will shape future of the internet.

Your future internet experience now rests in the hands of the Federal Communications Commission, which is expected to vote on Thursday to end rules requiring internet service providers to treat all traffic as equal.

The five members are expected to vote 3-2 along party lines to scrap Obama-era net neutrality rules, returning to a “light touch”approach and ending what Chairman Ajit Pai has called the federal government’s “micromanaging” of the internet.

“Prior to 2015, before these regulations were imposed, we had a free and open internet,” Pai told NBC News. “That is the future as well under a light touch, market-based approach. Consumers benefit, entrepreneurs benefit. Everybody in the internet economy is better off with a market based approach.”

The end of net neutrality rules will mark a huge victory for the big internet service providers. Depending on how they decide to act, the vote could have massive implications for the way you use the internet.

Gizmodo: Ajit Pai Thinks You’re Stupid Enough to Buy This Crap [Update: One of the 7 Things Is Dancing With a Pizzagater]

On Thursday, the Republican-dominated Federal Communications Commission and its chairman, Verizon BFF Ajit Pai, will hold a vote on whether to repeal Barack Obama-era net neutrality rules. If passed, the FCC would allow ISPs to begin setting up a tiered internet designed to suck as much money from customers’ pockets as possible while screwing with their ability to access competitors’ content, or really anything that might suck up amounts of bandwidth inconvenient for their profit margins.

The plan is immensely unpopular, even with Republicans. This type of situation would typically call for a charm offensive, though Pai has apparently decided to resort to his time-honored tactic of being incredibly condescending instead. In a video with the conservative site Daily Caller’s Benny Johnson—the dude who got fired from BuzzFeed for plagiarizing Yahoo Answers—Pai urged the country to understand that even if he succeeds in his plan to let ISPs strangle the rest of the internet to death, they’ll let us continue to take selfies and other stupid bullshit.

Gif source: Daily Caller

“There’s been quite a bit of conversation about my plan to restore Internet freedom,” Pai says in the cringe-inducing clip. “Here are just a few of the things you will still be able to do on the Internet after these Obama-era regulations are repealed.”

Pai then pantomimed things users will supposedly still be able to do, like being able to “gram your food,” “post photos of cute animals, like puppies,” “shop for all your Christmas presents online,” “binge watch your favorite shows,” and “stay part of your favorite fan community.”

“You can still drive memes right into the ground,” Pai added before breaking into a literal Harlem Shake segment. Astute viewers may remember that this was an intolerable meme from all the way back in 2013 which has not grown any less intolerable in the intervening four years.

Please click on the link to read the rest and watch the clips.

The LA Times editorializes: The FCC sacrifices the free and open Internet on the altar of deregulation.

In defending his proposed rollback of federal net neutrality rules, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has repeatedly said that he’s merely trying to return to the “light touch” regulation that helped make the internet what it is today.

That’s transparently false, and Pai knows it. The deregulation of AT&T, Comcast and other broadband providers that Pai and the commission’s other Republican appointees are expected to approve Thursday is a dramatic abdication of authority that could usher in an ugly new era for individuals and companies that offer content and services online, and for the people who rely on them.

It’s hard to know at this point how altered the internet will be after the dominant local providers of high-speed internet access services are freed to meddle with the traffic on their networks. But merely giving them that freedom could discourage innovation and investment online by creating potential new obstacles to start-ups and others that would compete with deep-pocketed sites and services….

The obvious problem there is that broadband providers could pick winners and losers online and stay out of trouble for it simply by disclosing that they are, in fact, prioritizing traffic for any online site or service that can afford the fee. No deception and no unfairness, but no neutrality, either. There’s also a realistic fear that broadband providers would favor their own sites and services because some are doing it already — for example, AT&T effectively exempts video streams from its DirecTV subsidiary from its wireless data caps.

Read the rest at the LA Times.

Today is also the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre.

David Frum at The Atlantic on Oct. 3, 2017: Mass Shootings Don’t Lead to Inaction—They Lead to Loosening Gun Restrictions.

“After Newtown, nothing changed, so don’t expect anything to change after Las Vegas.”

How often have you heard that said? Yet it’s not true. The five years since a gunman killed 26 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, have seen one of the most intense bursts of gun legislation in U.S. history—almost all of it intended to ensure that more guns can be carried into more places.

In the aftermath of the Newtown massacre, gun-rights activists assertively carried openly displayed weapons into more and more places. Many national chain stores banned weapons, but at least one—Starbucks—did not. In August 2013, gun-rights activists declared a “Starbucks Appreciation Day.” They made a special point that day of carrying weapons in Starbucks outlets nationwide, including the Starbucks in Newtown itself. (The store closed for the day to avert the demonstration.)

Since Newtown, more than two dozen states have expanded the right to carry into previously unknown places: bars, churches, schools, college campuses, and so on. The most ambitious of these laws was adopted in Georgia in April 2014. Among other provisions, it allowed guns to be carried into airports right up to the federal TSA checkpoint.

Read more at the link.

The Washington Post has an important investigative article today on the consequences of Trump’s refusal to acknowledge that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and continues to interfere in our politics: Doubting the intelligence, Trump pursues Putin and leaves a Russian threat unchecked.

In the final days before Donald Trump was sworn in as president, members of his inner circle pleaded with him to acknowledge publicly what U.S. intelligence agencies had already concluded — that Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was real.

Holding impromptu interventions in Trump’s 26th-floor corner office at Trump Tower, advisers — including Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and designated chief of staff, Reince Priebus — prodded the president-elect to accept the findings that the nation’s spy chiefs had personally presented to him on Jan. 6.

They sought to convince Trump that he could affirm the validity of the intelligence without diminishing his electoral win, according to three officials involved in the sessions. More important, they said that doing so was the only way to put the matter behind him politically and free him to pursue his goal of closer ties with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin.

“This was part of the normalization process,” one participant said. “There was a big effort to get him to be a standard president.”

It didn’t work. To this day, Trump stubbornly refuses to accept reality.

The result is without obvious parallel in U.S. history, a situation in which the personal insecurities of the president — and his refusal to accept what even many in his administration regard as objective reality — have impaired the government’s response to a national security threat. The repercussions radiate across the government.

Rather than search for ways to deter Kremlin attacks or safeguard U.S. elections, Trump has waged his own campaign to discredit the case that Russia poses any threat and he has resisted or attempted to roll back efforts to hold Moscow to account….

U.S. officials said that a stream of intelligence from sources inside the Russian government indicates that Putin and his lieutenants regard the 2016 “active measures” campaign — as the Russians describe such covert propaganda operations — as a resounding, if incomplete, success….

…overall, U.S. officials said, the Kremlin believes it got a staggering return on an operation that by some estimates cost less than $500,000 to execute and was organized around two main objectives — destabilizing U.S. democracy and preventing Hillary Clinton, who is despised by Putin, from reaching the White House.

This is horrifying:

U.S. officials declined to discuss whether the stream of recent intelligence on Russia has been shared with Trump. Current and former officials said that his daily intelligence update — known as the president’s daily brief, or PDB — is often structured to avoid upsetting him.

Russia-related intelligence that might draw Trump’s ire is in some cases included only in the written assessment and not raised orally, said a former senior intelligence official familiar with the matter. In other cases, Trump’s main briefer — a veteran CIA analyst — adjusts the order of his presentation and text, aiming to soften the impact.

“If you talk about Russia, meddling, interference — that takes the PDB off the rails,” said a second former senior U.S. intelligence official.

I’ve quoted quite a bit, but it’s long piece. Please go read the whole thing at the WaPo.

Finally, a reaction from Greg Sargent: This new report confirms that Trump’s megalomania threatens our democracy.

We already know that President Trump’s narcissism and megalomania threaten our democracy in multiple ways. His intolerance of critical media scrutiny fuels his systematic campaign to delegitimize the free press. His inability to acknowledge that his own conduct led directly to the special counsel’s Russia probe fuels a deep grievance and rage over it, making it more likely that he can be goaded into trying to close the investigation down.

Now a blockbuster new Post report shows how these traits are coming together to expose our democracy to danger on another front. Just before Trump was sworn in as president, the report says, his advisers urged him to publicly acknowledge U.S. intelligence findings that Russia tried to sabotage our democracy. But Trump “became agitated,” the report notes. “He railed that the intelligence couldn’t be trusted and scoffed at the suggestion that his candidacy had been propelled by forces other than his own strategy, message and charisma.” [….]

As I’ve argued, we have done a poor job of accurately capturing the true nature of Trump’s position on Russian interference. It isn’t simply that Trump denies his campaign colluded with that interference. Rather, it’s that this interference never happened at allirrespective of whether any collusion with it took place. (We now know that collusion did happen; at this point the question is how serious the misconduct was.)

Though Trump has at times acknowledged that such sabotage did take place, he has mostly refused to do so. This has long appeared to reflect an inability to view discussion of Russian interference as about anythThing other than himself. To acknowledge Russian meddling can only be an acknowledgement that his victory may have reflected unsavory external factors along with his blinding greatness, and thus may have been in some sense tainted, and since in Trump’s mind that cannot be true, it also cannot be true that Russia meddled at all.

Those are the top stories today, IMHO; but there’s plenty more happening. What stories are you following?

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26 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Net Neutrality, Sandy Hook Anniversary, and Trump’s Megalomania”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  2. bostonboomer says:

    WaPo: Putin blames Trump’s ‘opponents’ for poor U.S.-Russian relations

    MOSCOW — Russian President Vladi­mir Putin on Thursday said that he doubted President Trump would be able to improve relations between their two countries because Trump was being held back by his political opposition.

    Trump undoubtedly has had some successes as president, including a booming U.S. stock market, Putin said. But, he asserted, reports about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election were being invented to create questions about his U.S. counterpart’s legitimacy.

    “There are things that he would want to do but hasn’t been able to so far, like reforming health care or other goals. For instance, he spoke about improving relations with Russia,” Putin said in remarks carried on national television. “It’s clear that, even if he wanted to, he’s not in a condition to do that because of some clear restrictions” created by his opponents.

    • NW Luna says:

      That is gaslighting at its worst. It’s brazen bullshit.

    • quixote says:

      “organized around two main objectives — destabilizing U.S. democracy and preventing Hillary Clinton, who is despised by Putin, from reaching the White House.”

      All true except for one word. Putin doesn’t despise Clinton. If he did, he wouldn’t have cared which pathetic blot occupied the White House.

      The correct phrasing would have been “who is feared by Putin.”

      Understanding that would take getting past sexism, though, so not holding my breath.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Excellent point! I didn’t even think of that. It’s amazing how sexist language can slip by when you’re not paying attention.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    I watched Rod Rosenstein’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, and it was shocking. Benjamin Wittes reacts to the disgraceful performance of GOP reps and Rosenstein’s irresponsible release of private text messages.

    Thoughts on Rod Rosenstein’s Testimony

    • NW Luna says:

      …he once again sent a message to his workforce that he is not the sort of man with whom you want to share your foxhole. The DOJ and FBI workforces will not forget that. Nor should they.

      Not wise to show your staff that you cannot be trusted.

  4. NW Luna says:

    Good post, BB. Wow, we get a day to rejoice in one victory and then back to the onslaught against democracy again.

  5. Fannie says:

    Net Neutrality has been scrapped. Cable companies have already reduced the competition. I guess we are going to be searching, buying phone, and looking as consumer cellular. It’s been advertised in AARP, and I am going to look into that. I won’t be able to afford the crap they are throwing at us.

  6. NW Luna says:

    So nice for the senator to get hospital treatment for things that the rest of us have to put up with at home.

    John McCain hospitalized for “normal side effects” of cancer treatment, office says

  7. NW Luna says:

    Disturbing thread, and I fear he’s right:

  8. dakinikat says:

    https://thegrio.com/2017/11/25/anita-hill-says-joe-bidens-apology-not-enough/

    theGrio

    PoliticsAnita Hill says Joe Biden’s apology is ‘not enough’

    By

     thegrio

    November 25, 2017

    (Photos by Victorial Will/Invision/AP – Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

        

    Former Vice President Joe Biden may have apologized for how he handled the 1991 Senate testimony against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas but according to Anita Hill it’s “not enough.” She said he failed to “show leadership on this issue on behalf of women’s equality.”

    He said, ‘I am sorry if she felt she didn’t get a fair hearing.’ That’s sort of an ‘I’m sorry if you were offended,’” Hill said in a Washington Post interview that was published on Wednesday. In the interview, she also compared her time in the spotlight to the unfairness that still faces women who face sexual harassment.

    Biden chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing concerning Thomas’ Supreme Court nomination and was asked this month about his criticized handling of Hill’s testimony that she was sexually harassed by Thomas when they were working together.

    Her testimony led to her credibility being attacked and Thomas was confirmed to the court.

    “Let’s get something straight here: I believed Anita Hill. I voted against Clarence Thomas,” Biden said before adding, “I am so sorry that she had to go through what she went through.”

    — Kim Kardashian hires lawyer to help incarcerated Black women — 

    –– ADVERTISEMENT ––

    “The only issue in the Anita Hill case was whether or not there could be information submitted in a record without a name attached to it, anonymously accusing someone of something,” he went on to say, speaking about the criticism over the fact that other women were not allowed to testify against Thomas.

    Hill says that Biden’s apology omits “his role in what happened.”

    “He also doesn’t understand that it wasn’t just that I felt it was not fair,” Hill said. “It was that women were looking to the Senate Judiciary Committee and his leadership to really open the way to have these kinds of hearings. They should have been using best practices to show leadership on this issue on behalf of women’s equality. And they did just the opposite.”

    She said women who report workplace sexual harassment are still forced into “a process where you know they’re not going to be treated fairly.”

    “You cannot just bring people forward into a process where you know they’re not going to be treated fairly. That’s not being heard,” Hill added. “That’s something that we are struggling with right now. Women are coming in to make a complaint, and the process is unfair and employers are saying, ‘Well, we have a process.’ Well, that’s not enough.”

  9. dakinikat says:

    • Delphyne49 says:

      Hahahahahahaha!! That was the first thing I saw this morning and I really did laugh out loud! What a surprise ending! Just loved it!

  10. RonStill4Hills says:

    I will be honest…I try to be as hardcore and uncompromising as I can but…If Warren, Gillibrand or Biden ended up on the ballot against Orange Foolius, I will cave.

    Bernie would have to kiss my a$$, but the others wouldn’t get my money or support, but they would probably get my “nose held” vote.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’m hoping Trump will be gone by then. Of course I’d vote for the Dem, but I doubt if Bernie or Joe could win the primary. They are too old and so is Warren. I’m hoping for Cory Booker, to be honest.

      • Pilgrim says:

        I kinda like Terry McAuliffe

      • RonStill4Hills says:

        I like him too.

        Crossing my fingers that there isn’t any “untoward behavior” out there to come to light.

        Tavis Smiley and Harold Ford probably took me the most by surprise.

        Both claim to be innocent, I hope for the truth.

        But those were two guys that I thought had top-notch character.

        The harassment blood-letting is far form over.

    • NW Luna says:

      Agree. Cory Booker would be fantastic.