Tales of the Sausage Factory

“Jesus Was A Community Organizer, Pontious Pilate Was A Governor.”

I wish I could claim credit for what is so far my favorite campaign slogan, but it comes from this Daily Kos post. I’d like to get it on an internet button and have everyone involved in community organization display it.

In the meantime, however, I recommend this excellent piece by Joe Klien on what Barak Obama actually did as a community organizer. Then tell me again how those elitist Democrats can’t possibly understand your pain in the way that the crowd of Republican delegates and lobbyist who think that being a “community organizer” is funny.

Stay tuned . . . .

Posted in "A Republic, if you can keep it", Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , | 4 Comments (Comments closed)

My Thoughts Exactly

John McCain & Vicki Iseman: So FCC policy *is* sexy? Who knew!

Thanks to an innuendo-laden story by the New York Times last Thursday, everybody who follows USian politics at all knows that Vicki Iseman is a quasi-hot telecom/media lobbyist who for a while eight years ago had a pretty close friendship with Senator John McCain, and that he threw some of his political weight around on behalf of some of her clients. (I tried to find a flattering photo of Ms. Iseman to grace this here blog entry, but all I could find were an elongated pic of her in an evening gown, too big for my purposes, and a horribly unflattering portrait from her company’s website. Oh well, by now you’ve either seen those photos or this story likely ain’t for you anyway.)

What few suspect, however, that this whole story was a cleverly planted plot designed to boost the google rank of Wetmachine into the stratosphere!

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My Thoughts Exactly

Jabberwocking the Fundies

Here at Wetmachine we have a tradition of posting what the New Critics called “close readings” of arcane texts. Usually these close readings are done by Harold Feld in Tales of the Sausage Factory or by Greg Rose in Econoklastic, and most often the closely-read documents are obscure legal decrees, rulings, opinions, pronouncements, etc, originating from the Oracle at Federal Communications Commission, or they’re drafts of some lobbyist-written telecommunications bill lurking in the shadows of some state legislature or congressional committee, hoping to become law while nobody’s looking –although occasionally Harold treats us to a scholarly exegesis of a biblical or Talmudic text.

Over at Enter the Jabberwock, my erstwhile OpenLaszlo colleague Josh Crowley has a long-running series of close readings of illustrated tracts by the crackpot so-called “Christian” fundamentalist Jack Chick. Crowley calls these analyses “Chick Dissections”. In them he mercilessly skewers the artwork, logic and theology of individual Chick tracts. He does this in a direct, unironic voice, taking each frame of the comic book under review at face value. In other words, he does not come at them with a knowing, jaded air of sophistication and superiority. He engages them on their own terms.

When I first saw these Chick Dissections I wondered what the point was, since the comics themselves are so ineptly drawn and poorly reasoned that they basically are self-refuting; they are their own parody.

But, you know, Jack Chick is not some lone nut promulgating his paranoid ravings in photocopied pamphlets on a streetcorner to an indifferent audience of dozens. He’s a lone nut promulgating his paranoid ravings to an audience of millions, some of them quite credulous, through his website and publishing empire. The fundamentalist meme, in Christian, Islamic, Hindu, or whatever form, is a present danger to civilization. Therefore Jabberwock/Crowley is right to resist it. The Chick Dissections are not to everybody’s taste, but Jabberwock is providing a valuable service. And he’s often quite funny.

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Posted in Memology, My Thoughts Exactly | Also tagged , , , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

The Joker in the Stevens Deck — Section 1004

In the dead of night, just before the latest draft of the Stevens bill came out, a helpful Telco lobbyist inserted a little provision to stack the deck in the case of judicial review. Section 1004 of the Stevens draft now places exclusive jurisdiction for all decisions by the FCC in the D.C. Circuit. This includes not just network neutrality, but media ownership, CALEA, wireless issues, anything.

Why would anyone do that you ask? Because the D.C. Cir. is, without doubt, the most activist court in the land when it comes to pressing its vision of media and telecom policy. More than any other court, the D.C. Cir. can be credited with destroying hope of telecom competition in the United States by perpetually reversing and remanding the FCC’s efforts at rulemaking and enforcement until the FCC finally gave up and effectively deregulated. The D.C. Cir. is also responsible for vacating (eliminating by judicial fiat) the rule preventing cable companies from owning television stations where they have cable systems, and overturning much of the FCC’s cable and broadcast ownership limits. Finally, through the legal doctrine known as “standing”, the D.C. Crcuit has done its best to make it impossible for regular people to challenge FCC decisions or bring individual cases on antitrust grounds.

As a practical matter, the move privileges large companies that can afford to litigate in DC. If you are a small company somewhere else, upset about how FCC action impacts your life, you must now get a lawyer familiar with DC practice ad Petition for review here. Of course, the best (and most expensive) firms most likely have deals with your larger rivals, precluding them from taking the case.

So no wonder why the telco lobbyists want this provision. But why on Earth would anyone else? However, because it comes in at the end, while most of the action takes place elsewhere, it may slip by.

So certainly go to Save the Internet and follow the directions on how to call the Senate Commerce Committee and tell them you want real network neutrality. But don’t forget to tell them at the top of your lungs STRIP OUT SECTION 1004! DO NOT GIVE THE DC CIRCUIT EXCLUSIVE JURISDICTION OVER FCC RULES. You’ll be glad you did.

Stay tuned . . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Muni Momentum Swings Toward the Telcos, But The Game is Far From Over

After a number of victories, the momentum has recently turned to the Telco side of the muni fight.
On the plus side, we have not yet lost anything definitively. There is still time for citizens in these states to make this an issue. But I’m having the feeling I usually reserve for the Boston Red Sox in August.

Well, let’s see if we can’t make this our 2004 World Series. Anybody in these states interested in trying to fight these bills, let me know and I will try to put you in touch with folks on the ground there.

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

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Tales of the Sausage Factory: The Future of Open Source Politics

I very much liked Micah Sifry’s article in the Nation magazine called The Rise of Open Source Politcs. The article nicely captures the growing frustration of many of us with our clueless elders.

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