September 10, 2014 archive

Spinning Wheels of Death

Today is Internet Slowdown Day, a day of protest and action seeking to preserve “Net Neutrality”- the concept that no content is privileged in it’s delivery to your computer by censorship or commerce.  Our old friend d-day explains.

“Cable companies could make this page so slow, it will still be loading”

David Dayen, Salon

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 07:43 AM EST

(T)he spinning wheel is meant to dramatize what would happen if Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler, a former cable industry lobbyist, succeeds in creating an Internet “fast lane.” Under a proposal put out by the FCC in April, companies could pay Comcast or AT&T or Verizon to speed their preferred content to consumers more quickly. This paid prioritization would create a permanent digital divide, reducing competition and innovation on the Internet and discriminating between content for the first time.

Wheeler argued that the FCC would not allow telecoms to “divide haves and have-nots,” saying that under his strategy, the agency would police any abuse of the fast lane on a case-by-case basis. More important, the proposed rules offer a choice, between the Wheeler proposal and a plan that would reclassify broadband Internet as a common carrier service, like phone lines, giving the FCC stronger authority to ensure that no company could discriminate against any kind of content. “We look at reclassification as the only path forward for real net neutrality protections,” said Tim Karr, senior strategy director at Free Press, one of the organizations putting together the Internet Slowdown. “The issue is about our rights to control our Internet experience.”

The FCC’s public comment period for its new Internet rules closes Sept. 15. So during the Internet Slowdown – where the spinning wheel icon will be accompanied by text like “Cable companies could make this page so slow, it will still be loading” – users will be encouraged to sign a letter to the FCC backing reclassification and opposing Internet fast lanes, through an action website called Battle for the Net. The letter will also forward to congressional representatives and the White House. In addition, if users leave their contact information and ZIP code, they will receive a phone call connecting them to the office of their member of Congress, so they can register their personal support for net neutrality.

Even though 4 million people have already delivered comments to the FCC – “it’s the largest response on any rule making in their history,” Karr told Salon – with near-unanimous support for reclassification, the groups organizing the Internet Slowdown feel the issue could still benefit from increased public awareness. The participation of so many websites and advocacy groups ensures that tens of millions of people will see the message today that Internet content should remain free of discrimination. And it’s likely to be just the beginning. “This is an escalation, but it leaves room for further escalation,” said David Segal of Demand Progress, another organizer of the Slowdown.

For someone like me who worked his way into journalism from a personal blog, there would be no way to do what I do without the protections of an open Internet. In a country increasingly dependent on Internet use, people intuitively understand that controlling their daily Web experience will lead to disastrous outcomes. The forces fighting for the Internet are using old-fashioned methods – calls and letters, protests and mass collective action – to protect the most modern technological achievement. Do we still have a society where organizing against concentrated power matters? We’re about to find out.

Because of technical limitations (basically my own hazy understanding of the actual mechanics of our sites and the disastrous results of my last tinkering) we will not be displaying the official logo, but I don’t want you to get the impression that this is a cause that TMC and I and our sites, The Stars Hollow Gazette and DocuDharma do not fully support.

Please contact the FCC today and let them know in language that is polite but capable of no other interpretation or misunderstanding that you are against the Wheeler ‘Fast Lane’ proposal and in favor of regulating broadband Internet as a ‘Common Carrier’.

The Primaries Aftermath

The primaries are over and the campaigning for November will now commence. There were no real surprises last night except perhaps for nine term Democratic Representative John Tierney who lost to political newcomer Seth Moulton in the state’s 6th Congressional District.

Tierney is the fourth House incumbent and first Democrat to lose a primary this year.

He joins Republican Reps. Kerry Bentivolio of Michican, Eric Cantor of Virginia, the former majority leader, and Ralph Hall of Texas on the House casualty list.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and his running mate for lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, won but not as big as the Cuomo camp would have liked

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) won his primary and will very likely go on to win re-election as governor, but it was an ugly victory. With 98.3 percent of precincts reporting Cuomo took 62.1 percent of the primary vote compared to 34.2 percent for his main opponent Zephyr Teachout, who ran to his left. That may seem like a decent margin but it is actually a very weak performance by historical standards for an incumbent governor.

In Rhode Island, the voters chose a woman and an Asian man to run for the governorship, the time in RI history that there isn’t a white male running.

Democrats chose General Treasurer Gina Raimondo over Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and former Obama administration official Clay Pell. On the Republican side, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung beat businessman Ken Block.

If elected, Raimondo would be the Ocean State’s first woman governor, while Fung would be its first Asian-American governor.

The Democratic race was especially contentious, as Raimondo was sometimes characterized as too sympathetic to Wall Street, due in part to a controversial pension reform plan she helped usher through the state legislature.

Fung, for his part, has had to explain his involvement in a car crash 25 years ago, when he was 18, that resulted in a man’s death. All charges against Fung, who claims he lost consciousness while driving, were eventually dropped.

In New Hampshire, former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown secured his spot on the ballot to challenge Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Incumbent Governor Maggie Hassan easily won her primary and will vie to keep her seat out of the hands of Republican businessman Walt Havenstein.

Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakely will face the Republican Charlies Baker in his second try to become governor. He lost to current Gov. Deval Patrick in 2010

The best summation of last night’s results come from Charlie Pierce who wants to talk about the Democrats we don’t like and why:

In Rhode Island, the Democratic nominee for governor is Gina Raimondo, and the national press loves her already because, as state treasurer, she knuckled the public employee unions, and there’s nothing the national press loves more than Democratic politicians who give their most faithful constituents a damn good public rogering.

  Analysts were already predicting that if she won in November, Ms. Raimondo could go on to become a national star in the party, showing fellow Democrats that responsible policy is not necessarily bad politics, although organized labor may choose to differ.

Lovely sentence, that. “Responsible policy” set up as the direct opposite of “organized labor.” In praise of a Democratic candidate. And a hint as to who these “analysts” were would be helpful.

Raimondo’s raid on public employee pensions began just about as soon as she was elected state treasurer. And, as Matt Taibbi pointed out in a lengthy Rolling Stone piece, Raimondo was not acting on her own. The “tough choices” she was making, she was making on behalf of people who haven’t made tough choices since they were in diapers. [..]

And then there’s Andrew Cuomo, who is as beholden to the thieves as Raimondo is, but he’s far more of an obvious dick about it. Cuomo won re-nomination last night, albeit not as overwhelmingly as he needed to in order to start booking rooms in Ottumwa for December of 2015. So, as is customary, defeated candidate Zephyr Teachout tried to call Cuomo to congratulate him on his victory.

   Apparently, Cuomo kept up the act straight through primary night. He did not hold a victory party (which would have suggested he participated in a primary), and Teachout was reportedly unable to concede to the governor with a phone call, as he wouldn’t give her his number.

What kind of an arrogant jackeen doesn’t give his opponent his phone number? As far as I know, that’s unprecedented in a major political campaign. But the success of Cuomo and Raimondo, and who their friends are, and who they’re beholden to, makes me exceedingly nervous over what may happen on the Wednesday after election day in November. If the Democrats lose disastrously, losing their Senate majority, a bloodbath in the House, I guarantee you that the conventional wisdom of how the party was “dragged too far left” by that liberal lion, Barack Obama, and how it must purge the remnants of the “Occupy” movement in order to court the votes of “independents” and “centrists,” will spring up all over the elite political media like mushrooms after a hard rain; “Analysts” will tell you that Elizabeth Warren’s time is done, and that Gina Raimondo is the future of the Democratic party. And the rich will get richer, which is how it’s supposed to be.

There aren’t any really good choices for New Yorkers or Rhode Islanders.


TBC: Morning Musing 9.10.14

Going lighter today. I ran across this video of Tim Minchin’s address to the grads of the University of Western Australia in the same ceremony when he received an honorary Doctorate of Letters from the university. It’s good and I really really love Tim.


On This Day In History September 10

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 10 is the 253rd day of the year (254th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 112 days remaining until the end of the year

On this day in 1776, Nathan Hale volunteers to spy behind British lines

On this day in 1776, General George Washington asks for a volunteer for an extremely dangerous mission: to gather intelligence behind enemy lines before the coming Battle of Harlem Heights. Captain Nathan Hale of the 19th Regiment of the Continental Army stepped forward and subsequently become one of the first known American spies of the Revolutionary War.

the Battle of Long Island, which led to British victory and the capture of New York City, via a flanking move from Staten Island across Long Island, Hale volunteered on September 8, 1776, to go behind enemy lines and report on British troop movements. He was ferried across on September 12. It was an act of spying that was immediately punishable by death, and posed a great risk to Hale.

An account of Nathan Hale’s capture was written by Consider Tiffany, a Connecticut shopkeeper and Loyalist, and obtained by the Library of Congress. In Tiffany’s account, Major Robert Rogers of the Queen’s Rangers saw Hale in a tavern and recognized him despite his disguise. After luring Hale into betraying himself by pretending to be a patriot himself, Rogers and his Rangers apprehended Hale near Flushing Bay, in Queens, New York. Another story was that his Loyalist cousin, Samuel Hale, was the one who revealed his true identity.

British General William Howe had established his headquarters in the Beekman House in a rural part of Manhattan, on a rise between 50th and 51st Streets between First and Second Avenues Hale reportedly was questioned by Howe, and physical evidence was found on him. Rogers provided information about the case. According to tradition, Hale spent the night in a greenhouse at the mansion. He requested a Bible; his request was denied. Sometime later, he requested a clergyman. Again, the request was denied.

According to the standards of the time, spies were hanged as illegal combatants. On the morning of September 22, 1776, Hale was marched along Post Road to the Park of Artillery, which was next to a public house called the Dove Tavern (at modern day 66th Street and Third Avenue), and hanged. He was 21 years old. Bill Richmond, a 13-year-old former slave and Loyalist who later became famous as an African American boxer in Europe, was reportedly one of the hangmen, “his responsibility being that of fastening the rope to a strong tree branch and securing the knot and noose.”

By all accounts, Hale comported himself eloquently before the hanging. Over the years, there has been some speculation as to whether he specifically uttered the famous line:

I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.

But may be a revision of:

I am so satisfied with the cause in which I have engaged that my only regret is that I have not more lives than one to offer in its service.

The story of Hale’s famous speech began with John Montresor, a British soldier who witnessed the hanging. Soon after the execution, Montresor spoke with the American officer William Hull about Hale’s death. Later, it was Hull who widely publicized Hale’s use of the phrase. Because Hull was not an eyewitness to Hale’s speech, some historians have questioned the reliability of the account

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