Tales of the Sausage Factory

CISPA Passes House, But I See Reasons For Optimism — Lessons From 2006 And How to COPE With A House Defeat.

In the face of a remarkably successful public outcry, the House Republican leadership moved up the vote on the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) by a full day and amended it to make it even more awful. While obviously not a good thing, I see a lot of positive signs for the future fight.

Why? Because CISPA backers faced serious signs of opposition — enough so that they moved up the vote to avoid further R defections. By the end of yesterday, the number of Rs committed to opposition had grown from 2 (Barton and Paul) to 28. That sounds small, but the trend was rapidly accelerating in the wake of the Tea Party uprising on this. Meanwhile, the White House veto threat combined with the civil liberties outcry from the left help shore up Democratic resistance. While it did not prove sufficient to prevail in this round, it will prove extremely important as we roll on to the Senate.

In many ways, the situation here reminds me of when Congress considered the Communications Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2006 (COPE). Among other things, COPE would have prohibited the FCC from adopting significant Net Neutrality rules (which everyone at the time actually assumed the FCC had the authority to do, so opponents wanted legislation to limit that authority). Almost exactly six years ago, we suffered a similar defeat in the House. Then, as now, I saw good reasons for optimism that we will ultimately prevail. In fact, our situation then was much weaker than the situation now.

I explore some of the reasons to believe that we can continue to ramp up the fight against CISPA in the Senate and ultimately prevent passage of either CISPA or its equally- nasty-but-for-different-reasons Senate version, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012. (While I appreciate the White House veto threat, I prefer not to rely on it.). But before I dig into any detail, let me repeat what I said 6 years ago when COPE passed out of Committee despite the effort of grassroots activists on the left and right to stop it:

There’s a lesson here . . . . YOU CAN’T OUTSOURCE CITIZENSHIP. You can’t let “the tech companies” or even “the consumer advocates” or anyone speak for you. Citizenship carries responsibilities that go beyond the ritual of voting every two years. But when citizens wake up and speak up, and speak to each other, they find — to their surprise — they are strong. They find they have power. And they find that being a citizen may take hard work, but it is so, so, SO much better and more satisfying than being a couch potato. As the great Jewish sage Hillel said: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, who am I? If not me then who? If not now, when?”

More on the current situation below . . . .

Read More »

Posted in Censorship Public and Private, How Democracy Works, Or Doesn't, Life In The Sausage Factory, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged | 3 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

The Markey-Pickering “Net Neutrality” Bill: Grinding Out One More First Down In The Internet Freedom Bowl.

God knows I love Ed Markey as one of the true defenders of us average folks. Time and again, he has proven himself that rare combination of smarts and political savvy to remain an effective champion against media consolidation and telco and cable interests even when he was minority member. Which is why it always pays to pay attention when he acts.

Markey’s latest bill, The Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008, H.R. 5353 (co-sponsored by retiring Republican “Chip” Pickering (R-MS)), would seem at first glance pretty weak gruel compared to his previous bill in 2006. So what lies behind this apparent retreat from an outright ban on ISPs discriminating to Congressional findings, a mandate for some FCC hearings, and a report? After all, with Markey chair of the Subcommittee, shouldn’t he be pushing something more aggressive? I mean, the Dems control both houses of Congress now, right?

The answer lies in the pragmatics of Washington and the recognition that — unlike in the movies — major battles aren’t won overnight. As I have said before, this is a long, messy fight in which both sides invest a heck of a lot of time and energy in positioning themselves and grinding out short yardage plays to advance the ball. Seen in that context, the Markey Bill is a very effective tool for both keeping the debate alive and advancing the ball another ten yards toward the goal post.

Analysis below . . .

Read More »

Posted in Series of Tubes, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , | 2 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Snowe & Dorgan ReIntroduce Net Neutrality Bill — and A Chance for Some Presidential Politics

Senator Snowe (R-ME) and Senator Dorgan (D-ND) have introduced the Internet Freedom Preservation Act. Interestingly, although neither is on the relevant Committee, both Barak Obama and Hilary Clinton are co-sponsors. While not exactly pandering (both co-sponsored the Snowe-Dorgan network neutrality bill last year when it was a lot riskier to do so), does anyone doubt that their decision to come out strongly in favor of NN this early was influenced by the popularity of this issue with the netroots?

Meanwhile, where the heck did Inouye go? And has anyone talked to the new members yet?

Some reflections on the new bill, and on the new politics network neutrality, below . . . .

Read More »

Posted in General, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Latest on COPE and Latest Video

From what I have heard and seen on the House Whip Schedule, the vote on COPE will likely take place this Friday (6/9). On Wednesday June 7, the House Rules Committee will determine what, if any, amendments members may offer. For example, they may or may not allow Markey to offer his Network Neutrality Act of 2006, or allow Sensenbrenner to offer the version of the Internet Freedom and Non-Discrimination Act that passed the Judiciary Committee as an amendment. After that, the package goes to the floor for debate and a vote.

The smart money expects passage of COPE because the House Republican leadership backs it and enough Dems will defect to provide a comfortable margin. OTOH, public pressure keeps pushing members to change their position to support NN. Not that smart money or conventional wisdom believes in democracy anymore, but I am hopeful we can hand them another surprise.

Meanwhile, Moby has prepared this video that tells you how you can call your representative and tell him or her to support net neutrality.

Remember, don’t make Moby cry! Support Net Neutrality and help spank the telcos!

Stay tuned . . .

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

Tales of the Sausage Factory

This Time, We Spank the Telcos

If anything can warm my sad, cynical heart here in the Sausage Factory, it’s seeing people rise up and reclaiming their power and responsibilities as citizens.
So when I saw the House Judiciary Committee voted 20-13-1 (one voting “present”) to send the the Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act to the floor of the House for a vote, a stunning turn around from last month’s Commerce Committee approval of COPE, I get quite giddy about the prospects for legislation that reflects more than just refereeing industry food fights.

Needless to say, the opponents of network neutrality find themselves stammering in amazement and groping for alternative explanations. Surely it must be a turf fight, or an effort to extort more campaign contributions from telcos and cable cos! Surely it must be Google money financing things! Could Moveon.org really make common cause with the Christian Coalition, the Catholic Church and, well, Common Cause? Could the dry bones of democracy again be given flesh? Could the couch potato masses remember their strength and rise again as citizens reborn? Hallelujah!

Well, maybe not quite so dramaticly Biblical (must be working too much with all those religious groups), and we’re not out of the woods yet by a long-shot. But the last few weeks have definitely thrown up roadblocks in the telco victory march through Congress. My analysis, including a Colbert-esque “Tip of the Hat” to Free Press’ Ben Scott for his amazing Senate Commerce Committe testimony and a “Wag of the Finger” to Libertarian Reporter Declan McCullagh for this rather shameful bit of editorializing in the guise of reporting below.

Read More »

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

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Much Better Senate Draft from Democrats

The Democrats of the Senate Commerce Committee have begun circulating this draft revision of the wretched Communications, Consumer Choice, and Broadband Deployment Act of 2006 (aka “The Stevens Bill). Not only is the Democrat draft a lot shorter (a big plus), it:

(a) Eliminates the really bad munibroadband provision in the Stevens Bill with good language similar to the McCain-Lautenberg Community Broadband Act.

(b) Eliminates the excruciatingly awful net neutrality provision in the Stevens Bill and replaces it with the good language from the Internet Freedom Preservation Act sponsored by Snowe, Dorgan, and Inouye.

Happily, the Democratic Draft also contains the good stuff from the Stevens Bill: opening up the broadcast spectrum ”white spaces” and limiting cable market power over regional sports programming. (Although the Democratic draft is not quite as strong there as in the Stevens bill. Ah well.) Sadly, the Democratic draft also contains a broadcast flag provision.

It’s still a draft, of course. But it shows how the momentum on critical issues continues to shift in the right direction now that the public has started tuning in and speaking up. Last month, the telcos and the cable cos were enjoying a victory march reminiscent of Sherman’s march to the sea. Now, the telco/cable push to get Net Neutrality eliminated by Congress is looking a lot more like Napoleon’s march on, and subsequent retreat from, Moscow.

Stay tuned . . . .

Posted in Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed
  • Connect With Us

    Follow Wetmachine on Twitter!

Username
Password

If you do not have an account: Register