Jay Meehan: Net neutrality
May 6, 2014
My disappointment level with President Obama is getting pretty close to that I have with the Dodger bullpen.
I did vote for him, or someone who looked like him at least, who, during his initial campaign, spoke to many of the issues that had accumulated in my craw during the previous couple of seasons. His "heater" could usually be counted on to pick up a strikeout or two in crunch time, I was assured, but when he brought out his curveball, not even the tunnel leading back to the clubhouse has proven safe.
The fact that he could spot his fastball but not his sweeping breaking pitch surprised those of us in the bleachers who had noticed, even before they brought him up to the "bigs," that he appeared to be one or two smoothies shy of outweighing his glove. We figure him for a "junk" hurler who’s pitches would top out somewhere in the mid-eighties.
I identified control as the issue and that as long as he could keep from loading the bases with the old revolving door policy whereby corporate executives, after leaving their jobs to become lobbyists, would get appointed to the same regulatory agencies that had been created to keep their greed in check, he might every so often log a "quality" six-inning start.
Not to be, however. He taught us a lesson on his first trip to the mound when he served up four-pitch walks to the same bunch Bush had "overseeing" the financial sector, the same ones who turned a blind eye to the banking shenanigans that brought on a losing streak not seen in the major leagues since late ’20s.
Not to worry, we were told. Victories would come through the same "trickle-down" starting rotation his hometown Cubs had been employing for seeming millennia. As we now know, of course, Corporate America would run away with the pennant, clobbering Democracy once again in the World Series.
So we Obama true believers shouldn’t have been all that shocked, I suppose, when, as his administration evolved, he stocked his Federal Communications Commission pitching staff with a similar bunch of "Bush" leaguers — so much for a level playing field at the old Telecommunications Ballpark.
The President, who "pledged" during both campaigns to uphold the principle of "Net neutrality," the doctrine that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites, appears, now, to be stepping back from the vow he made at Google headquarters in 2007:
"We have to ensure a free and full exchange of information and that starts with an open Internet. I will take a backseat to no one in my commitment to network neutrality, because once providers start to privilege some applications or websites over others, then the smaller voices get squeezed out and we all lose. The Internet is perhaps the most open network in history and we have to keep it that way."
To simplify, we’ll use two Internet content providers as examples: the Verizon website (although it could just as easily be Comcast) and The Park Record website (although it could just as easily be Baseball Weekly).
Under Net neutrality, they would both pay their monthly fees to the broadband network provider and, all else being equal, bits of data from the one would take the same journey as those from the other. Road blocks and/or shortcuts wouldn’t be available to either Verizon or The Park Record to steer the consumer to their content.
Now, here’s the rub! There is no legal reason for these providers to opt for neutrality over profit. Five attempts to pass bills in Congress containing some Net neutrality provisions have failed. Money generated by the giant telecoms not only talks, it screams, and threatens! This might be good for capitalism, but not for democracy.
The FCC meets on May 15. Before then, you can send an email to make your opinion known at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or direct a tweet to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler @TomWheelerFCC. It doesn’t seem like our president will be able to spot his curve or remember his campaign promise anytime soon. It looks like you don’t need much of a spine to pitch in this league.
A once familiar exasperation is setting in. Although I’ve never missed a presidential election since becoming eligible to vote, my disappointment with the electoral process and the two-party system following LBJ’s titanic backslide on Vietnam caused me to not select either a Democrat or Republican until I recently hit the lever twice for Obama.
Once bitten, twice shy! It’s time for a truly progressive candidate on the southpaw side of things that can spot a curveball when the count is full!
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for more than 40 years.