Tales of the Sausage Factory

It's time for the NOFA Awards!

No, not the actual giving out of money, silly. My snarky commentary on yesterday’s unveiling of Broadband.gov.

I’ll preface by saying I absolutely still love and respect the folks I know on the inside who struggled with this stuff for months. I know how hard it is to actually implement this stuff, especially with this kind of ridiculous schedule and no one appreciating what it takes to coordinate among this many agencies and how utterly devestated the federal workforce was following 8 years of the Bushies refusing to invest in information technology, outsourcing everything to contractor cronies, and elevating political loyalty over actual talent.

Nor do I have much patience with those who are all “they sold us out blah blah blah . . .” Engineers don’t whine about how unfair it is that trees bloom in the spring and screw up line of sight with their leaves. You deal with it. Same in politics. You want good policy? Then you roll up your sleeves and get ready to fight for it rather than whining like little babies about how Obama the Deliverer failed to smite our enemies for us or persuade incumbents to put the public interest over their corporate interests and magically made all the problems of getting human beings to cooperate with each other go away. Because unless you’re willing to make some actual phone calls to members of Congress like Dittoheads do when Rush gives them the word, then I don’t want to hear it.

And the fact that there are some real issues does not negate all the good this NOFA will do. Anyone who claims that getting a less than perfect result means we pissed this away and it’s just as bad as Bush and blah blah does not know what they are talking about. I’d rather have this than more hymn singing from the worshipers of the gods of the marketplace. The fact that this turns out to be incremental rather transformative, a stepping stone rather than the whole edifice, doesn’t make it crap.

And finally, I promise to do real deep policy analysis soon.

But my selfish indulgence in unfair snarkiness below . . . .

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Posted in Tales of the Sausage Factory, The Stimulus Package (ARRA) | 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)

Econoklastic

The Best Senator Money Can Buy

The mainstream media is finally picking up on the real story behind Senator Jay Rockefeller’s (D-WV) push for immunity for the big telecom companies for cooperating with the Bush administration in illegally surveilling the communications of U.S. citizens: the huge spike in telco contributions to Rockefeller in 2007, particularly from AT&T and Verizon executives. According to today’s Washington Post, AT&T and Verizon have given $47,350 in 2007, up from $5,000 in 2006 and $7,000 in 2005.

AT&T attributes the increase to Rockefeller being a senior Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee up for reelection in 2008. However, the contributions from all other major telecoms companies belie this excuse: $4,000 in 2005, $4,900 in 2006, and $5,250 in 2007. The rest of the telecoms industry raised their contributions to Rockefeller by 7.14% in 2007; AT&T and Verizon increased their contributions by 847%.

I’d say the difference has more to do with Rockefeller chairing the Senate Intelligence Committee and shepherding legislation which would free AT&T and Verizon from roughly 40 pending lawsuits which charge the telcos with violating the privacy rights of U.S. citizens by cooperating with the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance programme.

The story of the AT&T and Verizon contributions was broken by Ryan Singel on Wired’s Threat Level blog.

This is one more example of why progressives need to treat the Democratic Congress with the same skeptical eye that they did the Republicans. Rockefeller has sold out to the telcos and progressives should respond by refusing to support his reelection. It’s better to see real enemies in office than false friends who can be bought to betray you; it would be even better to see real progressives in primary challenges to Democrats who are bought by corporate interests.

Posted in Econoklastic, General | Also tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

700 MHz Auction Update — FCC Republicans Interested In Public Interest Proposals While Senate Democrats Take a Pass.

Welcome once again to the topsy-turvy land of spectrum politics. Although Republican FCC Chair Kevin Martin shattered expectations by seeking comment on the Public Interest Spectrum Coalition (PISC) proposals for the 700 MHz auction, the Senate Democrats have decided to avoid having anyone from the public interest discuss the auction at next Thursday’s (June 14) hearing. In other words, despite my hope to the contrary, the Democratic Senate Commerce Committee is still playing spectrum politics under the old rules (treating this as an industry food fight and a chance to raise revenue), rather than using this as a chance to promote a robust public debate on how to ensure that wireless auctions promote competition and serve the public interest.

As a result, when the Senate Commerce Committee gathers to ask how the 700 MHz wireless auction can introduce new competitors for broadband and facilitate the open networks critical for civic engagement and innovation, they will hear from Mr. Dick Lynch of Verizon Wireless, Mr. Michael Small of Centennial Communications Corporation, and Dr. Amol R. Sarva of the Wireless Founders Coalition For Innovation. While Verizon has supported anonymous bidding, and the Wireless Founders Coalition supports open access, that hardly takes the place of having actual public interest representatives up there to press for real spectrum reform regardless of the impact on business models or bottom lines. As I say all too often (everyone repeat together) citizen movements must be citizen driven, and that includes giving us folks pushing the public interest an opportunity to speak rather than relegating us to the side-lines because corporate interests overlap with ours.

More below . . . .

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Posted in Spectrum, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Help Stop The Merger Madness

My friends at Free Press have set up this page to file comments opposing the AT&T/BellSouth Merger and the Comcast/Time Warner/Adelphia deal.

I won’t go over old ground again in detail here. You can read why I think the FCC should stop Comcast and Time Warner from dividing up the bankrupt Adelphia cable, the disappointing go ahead from the Federal Trade Commission, and my growing hope that the FCC will impose strong conditions or kill the deal. With a deadline for the companies to walk away from the deal fast approaching, you can help push the FCC to do the right thing.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

A Big Win in TX, But It's Just Round One

SaveMuniWireles.org, a group opposed to the anti-muni bill in TX, reports that the anti-muni provisions of the legislature’s gift package to SBC (the local baby Bell) has been stripped. But hang on to your seats folks, because it goes to the floor next week and SBC is fighting hard.

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Posted in General, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)
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