Tales of the Sausage Factory

Sixth Circuit Upholds FCC on LFA Limits: A Bad Decision and A Sad Day for Localism, With Possible Silver Lining for Ancillary Authority and Leased Access.

The Sixth Circuit has denied the Petitions for Review filed by local franchise authorities (LFAs) and PEG programmers challenging the FCC’s December 2006 Order limiting the ability of LFA’s to negotiate with telco video overbuilders. (You can read a copy of the decision here.)

I am rather disappointed with the decision, as readers might imagine. Not only do I think limiting the authority of LFA’s to protect their residents is a phenomenally bad idea, I think the court takes a very expansive view of FCC authority over LFAs given the legislative history and the statute in question.

On the other hand, the decision potentially provides a substantial boost both the FCC’s ancillary authority and to its leased access reform order, currently pending before the Sixth Circuit. While I find this rather cold and uncertain comfort at the moment, it’s the best I can do in the face of what has become an utter rout for LFAs and PEG programmers. God willing, a future FCC will conduct the inquiry into strengthening PEG programming Commissioners Adelstein and Copps have repeatedly urged.

Some further analysis of the decision and what it might mean below…

Read More »

Posted in Cable, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

The UK Broadband Infrastructure And the Debate We Should Be Having.

This article from the London Times is useful both for its substance and for what it says about the sorry state of the debate in the U.S. While the U.K. has much higher available penetration and speed than the U.S., it is considered rather pokey and slow for Europe. As the article observes, the problem is that private companies don’t want to invest in upgrades of infrastructure.

More below . . .

Read More »

Posted in Series of Tubes, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , | 4 Comments (Comments closed)

Econoklastic

Why Obama is Wrong Even When He's Right

It’s amusing to see Hilary Clinton and John McCain blasting Barack Obama for his remarks explaining why despair and bitterness over the way economic elites have marginalised them economically and politically have motivated large portions of the working class to vote for politicians and issues which are utterly contrary to their economic self-interest: “It’s not surprising that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment.”

It’s less amusing to see Obama backtracking now with his claim that “I didn’t say it as well as I should have.”

While Obama got it wrong on free trade — Chicago School free trade fanaticism has been a potent weapon for extracting surplus value from working people internationally by breaking unions and depressing wages, and people are justifiably angered about it — he got it right about the basis on which large elements of the American working class embrace right-wing causes and politicians who serve the interests of the economic elite rather than working people. There are two fundamental explanatory principles here.

First, as an insightful nineteenth-century political economist put it, religion is the opiate of the masses. There is a direct correlation internationally and in the U.S. between the degree of economic pain which globalisation and other forms of primitive accumulation against labour have imposed and the rise in the prevalence of fundamentalist religiosity since the late 1970s. The rise of the Religious Right and their issues in American politics, and their attraction to elements of the working class, are directly tied to this. When it looks like nothing can be done because the system is owned lock, stock, and barrel by an economic elite who profit from gutting your union, shipping your job to a Chinese slave-labour factory, plundering your pension fund, and dropping your health care, people get religion. And right-wing politicians play on this to keep working people from effectively opposing the underlying economic causes by focusing on gay marriage, abortion, and other social issues. It’s called creating false consciousness.

Second, it is a well-known phenomenon that in the absence of a class-conscious, well-organised, effective democratic left the exacerbation of economic oppression will produce support for the Right among working people. It happened in Weimar Germany when German social democracy dithered while working-class voters divided themselves between the Nazis and the KPD. It’s not surprising that the Bush administration’s penchant for corporatist-fascist ideology and the nativist Right’s racialist agenda have confused working people into supporting positions which help the economic elite keep power. We haven’t had a serious democratic left in this country since the Great Depression (some people might argue that we’ve never had a serious democratic left in the way European countries have).

I see nothing in Obama’s original remarks — the reference to ”anti-trade sentiment” aside — which isn’t entirely defensible.

In fact, it would have been refreshing as hell to have heard Obama respond to Clinton that eight years of her and her husband selling out the Democratic Party working-class base, trying to abolish the New Deal, blocking a single-payer national health care system on behalf of their buddies in the insurance industry, and triangulating on making the Gingrich agenda on everything but abortion the DLC agenda, while stuffing corporate cash into their pockets as fast as they could raise it (confirmed by their joint tax returns since leaving office), have led a lot of working people to despair about politics and embrace right-wing social and religious issues.

But that isn’t going to happen, largely because the principal difference between Obama and Clinton is that he hasn’t been around long enough to get his snout into the corporate trough as deeply as the Clintons, but he has hopes with his millionaire fundraisers. So he backtracks.

Posted in Econoklastic, General | Also tagged , , | 4 Comments (Comments closed)

Econoklastic

The Pity Is That It's True

Commenting on a piece by The Financial Times columnist Clive Crook on Barak Obama’s likely economy policies if elected, The Economist manages to interject a point desperately depressing, but spot on: “His voting record suggests that, if elected, Mr Obama would be the most economically left-wing American president since … well, it’s hard to say. Richard Nixon?”

The Economist has had Nixon in their sights ever since he briefly introduced wage and price controls in August 1971, violating a core tenet of Chicago School orthodoxy, but on reflection they have a point. Nixon was the last president who was willing to seriously entertain the use of government to fundamentally regulate the economy not solely at the behest of Wall Street and corporate interests. The Friedmanite orthodoxy which was religiously embraced by so many around Reagan and which has subsequently stripped government of the will to regulate the unchecked greed machine of the market was viewed as a sectarian movement, very nearly a cult, by Nixon and his principal economic advisors.

But it says a great deal about how much the progressive movement in the Democratic Party has surrendered that the principal organ of neoliberalism, The Economist, finds that the worst thing it can say about Barak Obama is that he might pursue Nixonian economic policies. Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society are beyond the realm of possibility, much less Roosevelt and the policies which underlay the New Deal. And they are almost certainly right. Obama is as much a captive of the corporate-worshipping wing of the Democratic Party as Billary (the principal reason that Hillary Clinton won’t release her joint income tax returns is that they would reveal that husband Bill has been openly a wholly-owned subsidiary of major U.S. and foreign corporate interests since leaving the White House, just as he was more clandestinely since his first days in Arkansas politics).

With Edwards and Kucinch out of the race there’s very little to enthuse me about a contest between a product of the Daley machine in Chicago and the Democratic Leadership Council’s anointed one. I suspect strongly that Obama will be just another case of “run to the left, govern to the right.” I only wish The Who’s lyrics were right: We won’t get fooled again. But I wouldn’t make book on it.

Posted in Econoklastic, General | Also tagged , , , | 3 Comments (Comments closed)
  • Connect With Us

    Follow Wetmachine on Twitter!

Username
Password

If you do not have an account: Register