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The white-Left Part 1: The two meanings of white

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Beck's Rally: Onward Christian Soldiers

To hear Glenn Beck tell it, America is on a mission from the Christian God. He should know because not only does he talk to God, they have conversations. God even sent him $600,000 [miraculously appeared after pray] to help with the rally expenses. Now God wants you to do your part!

According to Beck, the country was founded by Pilgrims that were motivated by a love of liberty and a search for religious freedom. They didn't really want to come here but God made them do it. No other motivation for the founding of the new world could be considered. The search for gold, the desire for other people's lands, a suitable place to employ slave labor, etc., played no role in his historical narrative. George Washington wanted no more than to be a simple farmer [who owned slaves, I would add.] before he was called by Christ to led the army and then the country. So often during this three hour Glenn Beck fundraiser, he reminded me of Father Merrin in the Exorcist: "The power of Christ compels you, The power of Christ compels you." We simply have no choice in these matters. It is our duty to God. In this modern day version of Manifest Destiny, America is not just entitled to rule the world, it is compelled by Christ to do so. It is the 'white man's burden' for the post racial era.

And just as the profit motive had nothing to do with the founding of the United States, so it has nothing to do with our wars. All have been fought for altruistic motives and on the side of the angels. The millions that have died at the hands of American arms in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, El Salvador, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere play no role in this narrative. Other than as the objects of our gifts of Freedom and Democracy... no that's not quite right ... shall we say our conveyance of the Almighty's universal gifts of Freedom & Democracy, they don't exist. The Tea Party was at the Reflecting Pool to honor the warrior not fret over his victim

Sarah Palin, "the proud mother of a combat vet" led off by telling us that the "warrior's stories are America's story." "Just a mom" Sarah Palin had the honor of introducing three heroes from America's Wars. As she introduced them, each of these heroes was brought out on stage amidst much applause and flag waving. The first was from Iraq. She told a story about how once his squad didn't kill a group of civilians but should have.

The second was the heroic story of a U.S. Marine in Falluja and how he won the Bronze Star. She neglected to tell us that today doctors in the new American hospital in Falluja, we bombed the old one out of existence, are advising the women of Falluja to just stop having babies because the birth defect rate is off the charts. Anyone familiar with the true history of the [Battle|Liberation|Slaughter] of Falluja, including the liberal use of depleted uranium and white phosphorous on civilians, might assume that that is where America's honor got so lost that it now needs restoring. Just in case you were thinking that, Palin is here to tell you that for these soldiers "Honor was never lost."

These are victims of American Willie Petebut they are not from Vietnamthey are from Falluja, Iraq 2005

The third story was about a Marine pilot shot down while on "a routine mission over Hanoi", a city that saw thousands upon thousands of civilian deaths rained down from American Aircraft. He was captured and became a prisoner along with John McCain at that "living hell" known as the Hanoi Hilton. Palin tells us how he described the torture he endured for five and a half years. "There was nothing to do, nothing to read, nothing to write. You had to just sit there in absolute boredom, loneliness, frustration and fear." As Marlon Brando said at the end of Apocalypse Now, "The Horror, the Horror."

from Vietnam: American HolocaustIf you are looking for racism at the Restoring Honor rally, you need look no further than here. It is the way they can bring the world such destruction while seeing themselves as all goodness and light. It is the way the can brand the others as evil while seeing themselves as doing God's work. It is the way they stripe away the humanity of their victims and count their lives in the balance as not even worth an 'honorable' mention.

Anyone familiar with America's wars, wars that since WW2 have almost exclusively been against people of color in poor countries,
knows that they have not been pretty or kind to the children. A special operations warrior is that special breed of soldier who can justify slitting a child's throat in the name of operational security. That is the brutal truth of the matter. I wrote a dairy here at the beginning of the year about the special forces execution of eight schoolchildren between the ages of 12 and 14 in Afghanistan. Some see those killers as terrorists but at the rally the Beck and Palin crowd portray them Rambo style as America's own true superheroes, fighting for truth, justice and the American Way. The sullied truth is they are the U.S. government's ultimate goon squad, hired assassins and mass murderers. They are the people the President sends in secretly when he knows he doesn't have any legal justification for his rampage.

Obstinately, the reason for this rally was to raise money for the Special Operations Warriors Fund. They provide money and tuition for families of special operations soldiers killed or wounded on missions. The founder and president of SOWF is James Carney. He was the SO agent who buried the advanced landing lights in the Iranian desert for Carter's disastrous 1980 special forces hostage rescue mission. Other notables on the board of SOWF include Erik Prince of the firm formerly known as Blackwater. Apparently Glenn Beck's deal with SOWF provides that they don't see penny one until all the expenses of the rally are paid. I would think that they could hope for a little more charity from a guy that earned $18 million last year but instead they had to settle for having faith that contributions would be greater than expenses. One wonders just what those expenses might be and whether they might involve a moose for sister Sarah. But enough about them.

The fund raising was nonstop. One of the early ones was that new trick of texting ten dollars. When Glenn Beck made his dramatic appeal saying "These men and women have died in our name, let's take care of their children, let's do it right now." he could have been channeling Saddam Hussein appealing for contributions to the families of suicide bombers.

Sarah Palin was followed by Negiel Bigpond, a Native American "covenant warrior of God" who counseled us to "never look back at the past" and told us we had to become "a covenant of warriors in Christ." He introduced the Black minister C.L. Jackson, who told us of all his personal accomplishments because "God would not let me stop." You can't fight God's destiny. Perhaps sensing that the crowd didn't want to hear from him, he said "Just let me say this, and then I'll be out of your hair." He then told his story, ending with the plead "even a dog is deserving of crumbs."

There was also Deb Argel-Bastian, a military mom who described how her son decided in the 3rd grade that honor meant never breaking a promise, and then in the 5th grade made a promise he would be the best special forces soldier ever. He died young in a foreign land but he kept the promise of a ten year old and kept his honor.

And so it went with speaker after speaker praising Beck, lauding billionaires, promoting this as a Christian nation, as a Warrior nation whose unwilling destiny it was to rule the world, with much fanfare and flag waving and an announcer's voice that sounded like it was from The Running Man. As Glenn Beck himself summed it up in the end, "a global storm is coming and we have to guide the world to safety."

Glenn Beck scheduled his rally to happen on the 47th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I have a Dream" speech, and at the same place, the Washington Mall. It is often forgotten that that famous civil rights march on Washington on August 28, 1963 was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. And while the Tea Party crowd at the Glenn Beck affair might not have much truck with the civil right aspect of the thing, in this economy, you'd think they would be all in with the demand for jobs, which makes it all the more strange that the demand for jobs was never mentioned.

In fact, one of the defining characteristics of this rally was that no demands and no concerns that could possibly make a real difference in the lives of the people there, the demand for jobs, housing, health care or an end to foreign wars for power and profit, would be addressed at all. There were allusions to defending marriage for procreation and protecting our children, even in the womb, but nothing was said about the most vital concerns of the people.

The attempt to co-op Dr. King's legacy was obvious. There was much talk about MLK and even a presentation from a niece of Dr. King, and speaking politically, a very distance niece at that. But what kind of Dr. King did they praise? It was Dr. King, the empty icon. Dr. King devoid of any political content. Dr. King completely whitened, completely blanked by them. When I think of Dr. King, I think first of his leadership of the struggle of Black people for civil rights. To see things that way, you must first acknowledge racial oppression. Instead we are given a man that hoped "God's love will transcend skin color and economic status." Dr. King is also widely regarded for the non-violent methods he advocated in the struggle. These people are here to celebrate warriors. Non-violence didn't get mentioned. Finally, I most honor Dr. King for the giant leap he made near the end of his life by adding our perchance for imperialist wars to his list of causes. Believe me, the Dr. King that called his country the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, was nowhere to be found. MLK Jr., now gutted of any content was hoisted on their petards as another empty icon on the road to world domination. His niece spoke of "soldiers, like Uncle Martin, [that] gave their lives for the freedom of others." It's just what Americans do. We honor God so that He will honor us!

One question that was never clearly addressed at the Restoring Honor rally was just what honor they think was lost and how it had been lost. This was a very slick event mediawise. The Tea Party was told to leave the signs at home, and likewise a lot was understood but unspoken. Great pains were taken to show they weren't racists, in fact there may have been more people of color on the stage than in the crowd. No that's not fair. I couldn't see everyone in the crowd. Still there are these indications that one of their underlying points of unity is opposition to President Obama and all bullcrap aside, they oppose Obama because he is Black. Maybe the Take America Back 2010 t-shirts give a clue. Was America lost as well as her honor when Obama was elected President?

Not that any in the Tea Party oppose him because he is Black. It's not that! We're post-racial. It's all those other things. President Obama spoke to that himself this weekend when Brian Williams asked him what he could do about the poll that showed a fifth of the people falsely think he's a Muslim. He said he couldn't spend all his time with his birth certificate plastered on his forehead. He was saying that the real problem was not his religion or his place of birth, it was something else.

It took me a while to understand the Tea Party's passion for the birther thing. I mean it is so ridiculous, and so completely disproved and yet they still cling to it. There are so many other grounds on which to say someone is not fit to be president, but those won't do for the birthers. They need a reason to say that Obama can't be president by birth, and they can't say what they really feel, maybe even subconsciously, which is that he can't be president because he was born Black, so they cling to this absurd metaphor that he can't be president because he wasn't born here.

And while they fiddle, the Empire burns..

C-SPAN Video Link

Monday, August 30, 2010

EFF on the Google\Verizon Net Neutrality Proposal

Efforts to protect net neutrality that involve government regulation have always faced one fundamental obstacle: the substantial danger that the regulators will cause more harm than good for the Internet. The worst case scenario would be that, in allowing the FCC to regulate the Internet, we open the door for big business, Hollywood and the indecency police to exert even more influence on the Net than they do now.

Begins A Review of Verizon and Google's Net Neutrality Proposal published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation on August 10, 2010.

This Legislative analysis was written by Cindy Cohn. In 1995 Cindy Cohn led in EFF's second big case Bernstein v. United States. This was the case that eventually established the law that software source code was speech protected by the First Amendment. This international organization, first formed in 1990 in part with money from Mitch Kapor and Steve Wozniak, has been at this sort of thing for a long time, so what they have to say is worth a listen.

The paper continues:

On Monday, Google and Verizon proposed a new legislative framework for net neutrality. Reaction to the proposal has been swift and, for the most part, highly critical. While we agree with many aspects of that criticism, we are interested in the framework's attempt to grapple with the Trojan Horse problem. The proposed solution: a narrow grant of power to the FCC to enforce neutrality within carefully specified parameters. While this solution is not without its own substantial dangers, we think it deserves to be considered further if Congress decides to legislate.

Unfortunately, the same document that proposed this intriguing idea also included some really terrible ideas. It carves out exemptions from neutrality requirements for so-called "unlawful" content, for wireless services, and for very vaguely-defined "additional online services." The definition of "reasonable network management" is also problematically vague. As many, many, many have already pointed out, these exemptions threaten to completely undermine the stated goal of neutrality.
You should follow the link above and read the entire article as I can not include it here. It is well worth the read.

In yesterday's blog I made a joke out of Free Press lobbyist Ben Scott's comment to Tom Powers of the NTIA:
I’ve been in the Net Neutrality sausage making business for some years now, and I’m hopeful that I can be useful to you.
Now I would like the reader to take another look at that statement in light of EFF concerns that net neutrality might be used to as a Trojan horse for measures that would actually suppress freedom on the Internet.

Of course Ben Scott was referring to that old adage that there were two things that you didn't want to see made, laws and sausages. And we all know why, because you will find that the have put in a lot of 'ingredients' that you won't like. Now at base, net neutrality is a very simple concept. I have given a one sentence definition many times already. Why should it be so complicated? Why does Ben Scott think of himself as a "Net Neutrality sausage maker" and what sort of "Trojan horse meat" does Free Press want to help put into the Net Neutrality Sausage they are cooking up for all of us?

UPDATE: Ben Scott has since moved on. He was still with Free Press at the time he made the comment above. In the revolving door that is Washington, DC., he left Free Press May 27th, for a job at the State Dept. I guess if the U.S. is attempting to take over the Internet, his sausage making skills are most needed over there.

UPDATE: New statement from Google. Richard Whitt, Google's Washington, D.C., telecom and media counsel, wrote on the company's public policy blog:
"Google has been the leading corporate voice on the issue of network neutrality over the past five years, No other company is working as tirelessly for an open Internet. But groups pushing for formal net neutrality rules have made little progress for several years now.

At this time there are no enforceable protections -- at the Federal Communications Commission or anywhere else -- against even the worst forms of carrier discrimination against Internet traffic, with that in mind, we decided to partner with a major broadband provider on the best policy solution we could devise together. We're not saying this solution is perfect, but we believe that a proposal that locks in key enforceable protections for consumers is preferable to no protection at all."

Now let's all jump down their throat. They're dirty capitalist pigs!

Where Al Franken is Wrong on Network Neutrality

I loved Al Franken as a comedian and I love him as a politician but in his speech before the Netroots convention he showed that he really didn't understand network neutrality. While he is right to fear the big carriers may play favorites, his example was a poor one. He said:
If we don't protect net neutrality now...how long do you think it will take before the Fox News website loads five times faster than Daily Kos.

He is right that net neutrality is the first amendment rights issue of our time. He is right to say free speech is threatened by monopoly corporations and not just the government. This is why we must be very careful about how we define net neutrality and exactly what we give the federal government the right to control on the Internet.

But his example of a net neutrality violation is a bad one. If Fox News wants to invest very heavily in bandwidth, or more hopefully, a lot of people just stop going to their site, Fox News can already load five times as fast as Daily Kos, and that is no violation of net neutrality. My LinuxBeach.net is off a shared T-1 and the only reason it doesn't load a hundred times slower than the Daily Kos is because there are rarely 50 people on it at a time. I may be a communist but even I don't advocate unlimited bandwidth for one low price or even for free. I think more like the Vietnamese, market economy with a socialist orientation.

We have got to get this right. I still haven't heard a substantial critique of my definition of network neutrality which is that data packets of the same type are not discriminated against because of source or destination address. NOBODY IS DOING THIS NOW! So all we really need is enough law that it will be formally illegal and people can sue if someone tries to do it.

We don't need a big new Washington crafted Trojan horse meat promoted by a liberal left that has been panicked by a well heeled fear mongering campaign and voted on by well meaning people like Al Franken, who don't understand what's in it. And it would he the height of stupidity to attempt to force the Internet into a regulatory framework crafted in 1934! We have a lot on our plate and we have plenty of time to figure this one out. The Google Verizon PROPOSAL is not the attack on net neutrality it was cracked up to be. At a minimum the present uproar will cause any company who was thinking about overturning net neutrality to think again so I think there is plenty of time to craft proper, minimal, legislation.

Also it should be considered that the U.S. left's current solution to the very real future threat to network neutrality, giving all power to the FCC, will not go over well in the rest of the world where we must be building allies in the fight for freedom on the world wide web.

Here is a recap of my other DKos diaries on this subject:
EFF on the Google\Verizon Net Neutrality Proposal
Google-Verizon: What is the Free Press Agenda?
End of the Internet As We Know It!
Free Press would make this Illegal!
Google Verizon Announce Terms of Deal

Court rules -> Google Must Be Evil & Maximize Profits

VENICE BEACH-In response a shareholder suit claiming that Google management was failing to maximize profits by such policies as making Android open source and supporting some form of net neutrality, in a widely anticipated decision, the court is expected to rule that Google's "Don't Be Evil" policy is contrary to best corporate practices and must be abandoned. The court is expected to cite the famous 1919 Dodge Bros. vs Ford case, in which the courts ruled that Ford could not pay more to his workers and charge less for his cars if it wasn't making the Dodge brothers richer faster...

Now that I have got your attention with an alarmist headline, much like the NYT did on 8/4 with "Google and Verizon Near Deal on Web Pay Tiers" [There is no 'deal' and no 'web pay tiers.'], please allow me to give you a little more background on this subject.

Vint Cref on Net Neutrality

Vinton Cerf is generally regarded as the father of the Internet. This is what he said about Network Neutrality in April 2005.

The occasion was David Isenberg's Freedom To Connect (F2C) Conference in Washington, DC and he was the keynote speaker. At the time he was speaking for Google as VP and Chief Internet Evangelist:

Allowing broadband carriers to control what people see and do on-line would fundamentally undermine the principles that have made the Internet such a success. For the foreseeable future, most Americans will face little choice among broadband carriers. Enshrining a rule that permits carriers to discriminate in favor of certain kinds or sources of services would place those carriers in control of on-line activity. Allowing broadband carriers to reserve huge amounts of bandwidth for their own services will not give consumers the broadband Internet our country and economy need. Promoting an open and accessible Internet is critical for consumers.

Google believes that consumers should be able to use the Internet connections that they pay for in the way that they want. This principle—that users pick winners and losers in the Internet marketplace, not carriers—is an architectural and policy choice critical to innovation on-line. Google itself is a product of the Internet. We care passionately about the future of the Net, not just for ourselves, but because of all the other potential Googles out there. Indeed, we are not alone. Our concerns are shared by Internet companies, small businesses, end users and consumer groups across the country. The vibrant ecosystem of innovation that lies at the heart of the Internet creates wealth and opportunity for millions of Americans. That ecosystem—based upon a neutral open network—should be nourished and promoted.
If you still think that Al Gore is the "father of the Internet", then I would ask you to do a Bing search on that phrase and see what you come up with. Normally I would suggest you do a Google search but in this case some might question the results.

The point is that Google has been fighting for net neutrality and Internet freedom for a long time, and they have been doing so with some very creditable partners. Most of that history is unknown to people here but they do know that Google has grown into a huge corporation, so when they hear that Google has sold out net neutrality to Verizon for the money, they don't even wait to read the actual proposal. They don't even wait till it is released. By the Friday before it was released, Daily Kos, Democracy Now and Huffington Post had thrown Google under the bus quicker than the White house did Shirley Sherrod. Okay, maybe not that quick, but you get my point.

And why? Because they are in such a rush to put the FCC in control of the Internet? Since the FCC has done such a bang up job of stopping the NSA from reading our email and otherwise violating our freedoms on the Internet, I'm sure there will be no problem.

The Internet is international, it should be run by international bodies under international law, as it is now. The only thing our FCC and our Congress should be doing is making sure our country's Internet companies do not violate well established Internet practices, and we should demand that every country do the same and there will be the freedom of the Internet. There is no need for an FCC takeover.

....more history...

The MoveOn.org/FreePress.net petition is not the first time Google has been told "Don't Be Evil" and it must be admitted that by adopting that as a corporate slogan, they invite having it thrown back in their face. I want to recommend to the reader this article from Linux Journal of Oct 2009 Don't Be Evil Means Don't Be Evil! which recounts the story of how July a year ago Google was caught holding out on some Android developers, failing to practice what could be called 'developer neutrality', how those developers organized, petitioned "Don't be Evil" and even created a independent project to compete with Android. And how Google responded. The article ends by warning Google:
If you're going to claim a commitment to openness, try to learn how it works, and think a little before sending a street gang to beat down people who, if anything, are a bit too enthusiastic about being open.

Above all, get a clue. That's not how this team plays.
While many articles in Linux Journal are rather technical, this one is not, and I think the reader will find it an interesting story about how things work in the open source community.

Here is a recap of my other DKos diaries on this subject:
EFF on the Google\Verizon Net Neutrality Proposal
Google-Verizon: What is the Free Press Agenda?
End of the Internet As We Know It!
Free Press would make this Illegal!
Google Verizon Announce Terms of Deal

and on another subject...
Little Rock High integration protest

Keith Olbermann's Deception

Keith Olbermann wants to convince us that we need to put the Internet under the control of the FCC. He knows that the Tea Party is a popular target for the left so on Friday's Countdown, Keith Olbermann used a discussion of Tea Party opposition to the FCC takeover of the Internet to equate opposition to FCC control of the Internet with opposition to network neutrality.

Keith Olbermann knows that many people on the left will be for Net Neutrality just because they believe the Tea Party is against it, so he tells us at the beginning of the show
"Guess who‘s against net neutrality? The Tea Party, naturally."
Then before a commercial break he tells us again:
If you didn‘t have net neutrality, you might have to pay extra to see mindless anti-mosque protests on the Internet. So naturally the Tea Party would defend net neutrality to the death, right. Nuh-uh. Turns out they‘re in the pocket of the corporations too.

When he finally does get to the segment, he tells us a third time that the Tea Party is opposed to net neutrality:
Net neutrality is so vital to a free and open Internet, it is, in practical applications, so popular to anyone who uses the Internet, that it would be hard to see why it would be opposed by anyone other than corporations or their minions. But in our third story, it‘s happened. Corporate minions, Tea Party, reservation for 35.
Most of this segment is spent in a discussion with Amanda Terkel of ThinkProgress.com about just how stupid the Tea Party is to oppose net neutrality. And his proof that the Tea Party is opposed to net neutrality:
A coalition that includes 35 Tea Party groups writing a letter to the FCC. Quoting, “we the undersigned, representing millions of American citizens, write in strong opposition to the Federal Communications Commission‘s effort to regulate the Internet.”

Might as well pause right there, because if ever there were an instance in which so-called government regulation maximized access to information, net neutrality is it.
Yes let's pause right there, because I want to point out to you that Keith Olbermann has just equated "opposition to the Federal Communications Commission‘s effort to regulate the Internet" with opposition to net neutrality. That one sentence he quoted from the letter can't be his whole basis, thrice repeated, for his claim that the Tea Party is against net neutrality can it? That would be a real leap in logic wouldn't it?

So let's look at this Tea Party letter in a little more detail. Keith Olbermann has already given you the substance of the first and most important sentence, they are expressing strong opposition to FCC efforts to regulate the Internet. They specifically mention net neutrality only twice, so let's look at those references:
Earlier this year, a U.S. Court of Appeals found that the Commission was attempting to “shatter” the bounds of its legal authority by trying to enact Net Neutrality regulations without Congressional authority. We view this renewed effort by the FCC to reclassify the Internet under Title II as even more unfounded and onerous.
In the first sentence, I see a fair statement of what happened. In the second sentence I see strong opposition to the FCC reclassifying the Internet under Title II. How is that opposition to net neutrality unless you equate support for net neutrality with support for the regulation of the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934? 1934!. The other place where they mention net neutrality is when they say:
The Internet has never been a regulated utility and we urge you to keep it that way by rejecting so-called “Net Neutrality” regulations on the Internet and the proposed Title II reclassification.
Now here I think it is fair to say that they are equating 'so-called "Net Neutrality" regulations with FCC Title II reclassification and opposing both, but in my experience, when one uses the adjective 'so-called' and puts the thing in quotes, what one is really saying is that the thing is not real, that you think it is a fraud.

Some may opportunistically draw the conclusion from this letter that the Tea Party is opposed to real net neutrality but I think that is wrong. I think a fair reading of the letter is that they are opposed to an FCC takeover of the Internet and they think Net Neutrality is a bogus excuse for it.

MSNBC wants you laughing and joking about the Tea Party being stupid again, while they sow more confusion about the topic at hand. Terkel floats the notion that net neutrality will mean unlimited bandwidth for little or nothing:
Without net neutrality, what can happen is that a Tea Party—a small Tea Party group in some state in the country will decide to start a website, but it may be slower because they don‘t have the money to pay the Internet Service Providers to make their site go faster. So you won‘t be able to go to their site as quickly, and you‘ll probably get frustrated and won‘t go. And you will go to one of the large corporations that are able to pay to make their site go quicker.
{{We have net neutrality NOW! You get the bandwidth you pay for NOW! Get the Net! }}

Countdown would have me believe that if we get their Net Neutrality my own little VietnamAmericanHolocaust.com will run as fast as the Fox News website. Not so.

Keith Olbermann goes further than saying the Tea Party is opposed to new FCC Net Neutrality regulations. He accuses them of wanting "to eliminate net neutrality" and the lesson he wants us to take way from his show is that we need the government to step in:
TERKEL: But, honestly, government has always had to step in to protect Americans‘ rights.
You notice how no one selling this Net Neutrality Sausage talks about net privacy and how the government is going to protect us in that area. DHS is forcing ISPs to put in extra hard drives so the government can copy everything but we won't talk about that now.
TERKEL: I think this is very clear-cut that we need the government to step in and make sure that these corporations who want to line their pockets can‘t just step in and mess with what the Internet has been like for Americans so far.

End of Segment.

Keith Olbermann is tripping over himself so badly trying to convince us that we need an FCC takeover of the Internet to save Net Neutrality that he starts doing what he had so often teased George Bush for doing. He starts talking about the Internets! At the beginning of the segment Keith Olbermann recalls:
Net neutrality has become a major issue, you will recall, because Google and Verizon have proposed a framework whereby the FCC would not regulate the wireless Internet, which would allow big companies like Google and Verizon to play favorites as to who and what gets the fastest, easiest pipeline.
So now, according to Keith, we have two Internets, a wired Internet and a wireless Internet!
But the FCC could, under at least one reading of its authority, ensure that net neutrality extends to the wireless Internet, as well as to the wired Internet.
And what reading of FCC authority is that Keith? Might it be one that also gives the FCC the authority to regulated anything it damn well pleases on the Internet? I mean, they already let the NSA read our email.

Then there was that gratuitous comment that Marx was a lousy thinker. That was about as accurate as anything else in this segment but it did show that even Keith Olbermann has his points of agreement with the Tea Party. Or since that comment seemed to come out of nowhere, maybe it was an unconscious clue as which side he was on in this debate.

But back to this tale of two Internets. Why has Keith Olbermann stooped to a Bush level understanding of the technology? Keith Olbermann and others have created this fiction of the "wireless Internet" because they want to belittle the significant of the Google/Verizon proposal.

Google has good reasons for wanting matters settled around net neutrality and good reason for wanting to limit the FCC's power in that regard. Last September, AT&T protested to the FCC that Google was violating net neutrality. Google had released a software package, Google Voice, that AT&T feared was cutting into it's revenues. Because Google Voice couldn't connect to all the rural numbers the telecom are required to contact, AT&T asked the FCC to declare Google a common carrier and find them in violation of network neutrality. Net Neutrality, loosely defined, can be very useful to the corporations. This is the way at least one telecom wants to use FCC control of the Internet. It is also another reason why Google partnered with Verizon and not AT&T.

Before Google and Verizon came out with their proposal for legislation on net neutrality, Monday a week ago, the sky was falling. The NYT warned that the 'deal' for 'tiered web pricing' could "overthrow" net neutrality. After it came out and we saw that there was no deal, only a proposal, the pro-FCC forces had to belittle it. One narrative went like this:

"Okay, it's not bad on net neutrality for the traditional 'wired' Internet, but it doesn't impose net neutrality on wireless connections, and the wireless Internet is the future." They don't want to acknowledge the reality that wired verses wireless is only an issue of the 'last mile' connection to the user's device so the Google Verizon proposal on net neutrality on landlines, limited though it may be, protects data for most of it's journey even to wireless devices. Rather than acknowledge that, they have created this tale of two Internets! Thoughout this whole debate, there has been a skillful substitution of the end users perception of the technology for the reality of the technology to win points with the public.

In almost every area, the Tea Party's views do not need to be distorted to be dis-proven and ridiculed. Who does it serve to misrepresent their views on net neutrality? It drives wedges between people when there are enough already, and it gives the Tea Party something they can point to and say that the left lies and distorts. The anti-government impulses of the Tea Party have led them to oppose what they see as an attempt to panic the nation into putting the World Wide Web under the control of the FCC in the name of protecting net neutrality. That is not the same as opposing net neutrality. I can quote one Tea Party website approvingly. On May 1st they wrote:
The organization Free Press has placed a haunting clock on their blog claiming that for the past 23 or so days the Internet has been left unregulated Oh, the humanity! The problem is the clock is off by a little over 25 years. That’s when the first dot-com address was purchased and the Internet began its basically unregulated tenure. And I think it’s fair to say the Web has done quite well for itself since that time.

Free Press is referring to the day this month that a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled the Federal Communication Commission has absolutely no authority under current law to regulate the Internet with seemingly benign “Net Neutrality” rules. But since this was the first time the FCC tried to lay down its heavy regulatory hand, it’s not like the Commission had any authority to do it before the court ruling. There is no change of precedent here. For the past 23 days, the law of the land is as it’s been for the past 25 years.

Nevertheless, Neutrality proponents continue to paint this as a sudden crisis.

I liked Keith Olbermann's stand on every other question addressed in Friday's Countdown, and I especially liked his Special Comment yesterday about the so-called Gnd Zero mosque, which is why I felt it was important to write this critique. In the past several weeks. there has been a concerted media campaign to panic people into supporting very broad powers for the FCC on the Internet in the name of protecting something we already have, network neutrality.

Keith Olbermann called the Tea Party people who wrote the letter 'corporate minions.' Since we know who's 'corporate minion' he is, perhaps he would be so kind as to assure us that there is no relationship between his support for the FCC position on regulating the Internet, and GE's hope for quick FCC approval of the proposed NBC-Comcast merger.

I don't trust the FCC or think the U.S. government should be more involved in running the Internet than they are now. Yes, each national government should be making sure that neither they nor the companies over which they have jurisdiction, break any well established Internet practices, like network neutrality, but that is all.

Here is a recap of my other DKos diaries on this subject:
Court rules -> Google Must Be Evil & Maximize Profits
EFF on the Google\Verizon Net Neutrality Proposal
Google-Verizon: What is the Free Press Agenda?
End of the Internet As We Know It!
Free Press would make this Illegal!
Google Verizon Announce Terms of Deal

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Free Press: Country Codes for the Internet?

Once upon a time VeriSign, Inc. (NASDAQ: VRSN), an American company that is responsible for a lot of Internet infrastructure, including two of the thirteen root nameservers, got the idea that it could make a little extra money if it used its position to tilt the table in its favor a little. Unilaterally, without any public discussion and without winning consensus in any of the Internet regulatory bodies, it started the VeriSign Site Finder system which redirected all not-found .net and .com domain name searches to a VeriSign page. In otherwords, if you misspelled a domain name and tried to go to let's say, DailyCos.com, instead of the HTTP 404 "page not found" error message mandated by IANA and W3C protocols, you would be taken to a VeriSign advertisement. They were trying to make unfair use of their position as a steward of Internet resources to monetize our spelling errors!

Immediately, strong protests came from the Internet Engineering Task Force [IETF] and other technical bodies, and this caused VeriSign to somewhat modify their Site Finder system, but they didn't quit it until the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers [ICANN] threated to revoke it's contract to administer the root name servers. This is typical of how transgressions are dealt with by the international community that has made the Internet what it is today. This seemingly seamless interconnection of networks that allows you to send a video from Houston to Hanoi didn't just happen. Rules are made and rules are enforced.

IETF is a very large international body composed largely of techies and organizations, including corporations, heavily involved in Internet technology. Anyone can join. It does a lot of the standard setting and and regulation setting on technical matters like net neutrality. IANA is a service coordinated with IETF, they maintain the Internet Protocol Registries. Net neutrality as we know it today is enshrined and protected by those protocols. ICANN is the non-profit that administers the names and numbers for the Internet. For the Internet to work, there can only be one DailyKos.com, one Google.com, one LinuxBeach.net. These are domain names. .com, .net and .org are what are called Top Level Domains [TLDs]. There used to be only one place to get a .com or .net domain name in the U.S. and that company was bought by VeriSign. Now there are many registries, but ICANN manages the whole structure, and domain names are assigned on a first come, first serve basis, without fear or favor. I even got YouFuckedWithTheWrongNigger.com but I don't like my chances of keeping it once the FCC decency police are put in charge.

Any country's courts may award you the rights to a domain name, but they can't enforce it. If you think you have the right, because of copyright or trademark or whatever, to a domain name that is registered to someone else, and you want an enforceable judgment, then you are going to have to follow ICANN's uniform dispute resolution policy. As it stands now, no government in the world can enforce a domain name decision because they don't run the domain name system that translates domain names like the DailyKos.com into IP addresses, and any attempt by a national government to seize control of the domain root server system would end the Internet as we know it.

There are no country codes on the Internet. There are no long distance fees. There are no borders except where national governments try to impose their will. For the past 25 years the Internet has been regulated by a group in international non-government organizations. I have already mentioned ICANN and IETF, now I would also like to add to the list the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C] "an international community that develops standards to ensure the long-term growth of the Web," InterNIC oversees the domain name registration system. The Internet Society is the home of groups responsible for Internet infrastructure standards and provides leadership in chartering the future of the Internet. The Internet Architecture Board is responsible for oversight and some Internet standards.There is also People for Internet Responsibility [PFIR] a group concerned about many present and future aspects of the Internet, including regulation. So don't you dare claim, as many associated with the DailyKos, Huntington Post, and Democracy Now have, that the Internet is unregulated.

The Internet has been regulated, and network neutrality and Internet freedom in general has been effectively defended by these international non-government bodies that have been creating the future of the Internet and IMHO, a great model of international cooperation and administration. But there is a lot of concern about what is seen as U.S. and western domination of the world wide Internet. For example, only now are Internet standards being put into place that allow 'foreign' alphabets to be used in domain names and in part because an .xxx TLD that was approved by ICANN five years ago still hasn't been implemented, there is talk in Internet circles of rebuilding the domain name system independent of U.S. political influence

Now comes a move by the U.S. to take control of the Internet by having the U.S. FCC reclassify the Internet and put it under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934! This move is being widely supported in the U.S. by many who are clueless about the inter-workings of the Internet, in the name of defending Net Neutrality.

Free Press is an FCC lobbying organization that is one of the main forces behind the "Google is Evil" campaign and a major proponent of protecting Net Neutrality by giving more power to the FCC. Up until now they have ignored the international Internet regulatory bodies named above. They have pretended that they don't exist and since nobody else was speaking of them, that has worked well for them.

Yesterday, finally, they broached the subject of how they view the relationship between the powers they would like to see the FCC have and these international bodies. They complain that the Google Verizon proposal
would even go so far as to bar the Federal Communications Commission from having any authority to make and enforce Net Neutrality rules, instead requiring it to defer to a third-party industry group.

I want to thank Free Press for this clear presentation of the issue. Finally we get to the nob of the matter. We are all for for Internet freedom and equality. The question is how is it to be enforced? Who should exercise power over the Internet?

IMHO the only power the FCC, or any national government, should have with regards to the Internet is to see that none of the entities under its control violate the Internet standards and policies established by the responsible international third party industry groups that are going this today and have done so far in the life of the Internet. This is also pretty much the position taken in the Google Verizon proposal:

The FCC would enforce the consumer protection and nondiscrimination requirements through case-by-case adjudication, but would have no rule making authority with respect to those provisions. Parties would be encouraged to use non-governmental dispute resolution processes established by independent, widely-recognized Internet community governance initiatives, and the FCC would be directed to give appropriate deference to decisions or advisory opinions of such groups.

Free Press opposes this. Free Press clearly wants to give the FCC powers that are independent of and that supersede the existing Internet regulatory bodies. What Free Press is lobbying for here is nothing less that a U.S. takeover of the World Wide Web, but that's not what will happen. If the U.S. isn't going to 'defer to a third-party industry group', then why should any other country? They can all attempt to enforce their view of net neutrality and Internet policy. The Free Press policy will lead to the Balkanization of the Internet and that truly will be the end of the Internet as we know it.

Here is a recap of my other DKos dairies on this subject:
The Mountain comes to Mohammad
Keith Olbermann's Deception
Court rules -> Google Must Be Evil & Maximize Profits
EFF on the Google\Verizon Net Neutrality Proposal
Google-Verizon: What is the Free Press Agenda?
End of the Internet As We Know It!
Free Press would make this Illegal!
Google Verizon Announce Terms of Deal

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Mountain comes to Mohammad

There was this series of events that happened in Open Source community history that I have always personally given the title "The Mountain comes to Mohammad." The time was around 1999-2000, I don't know. It is late and I will do this from memory and without my usual links to sources. Google wasn't more than a year or two old then. It was still a Linux specific search engine in those days. Now I understand it is powered by something like a million Linux servers. Anyway, it was at a time went Linux was just starting to break out into the larger computing world and that meant dealing with corporations. Linux and Suits was the term we used. Intel was one of the first ones to come courting. Intel's problem was that it's hardware was advancing but the product of it's main software partner, Microsoft, wasn't. Intel was starting to build 64-bit CPU's but Microsoft was still struggling to build a 64-bit OS that worked. And over here was 64 bit Linux, already humming along on the DEC Alpha. So Intel came around with free developer systems and money, maybe for the first time, a lot of serious money for the Linux community. And as you can imagine, there were a lot of debates in the Linux community.

Some wanted to have nothing to do with the corporations. Some wanted to keep Linux pure. Some wanted to keep Linux a small user held OS. Some thought we were creating the best software in the world, free software, and demanded, in the words of Linus Torvalds "Total world domination." I was in that camp.

Anyway there came a time when the I2C commission or panel or whatever was forming up to determine the next new industry standard high speed interfaces for computers. Intel wanted Linux to have a seat at the table. All the usual players had a seat at the table: Intel, Microsoft, IBM, Apple, AMD, Compaq, HP, etc. Problem was that this commission was to operate in the usual proprietary way: NDA's, closed meetings etc., and the Open Source community don't play that. At first there was a stand-off, and a lot of discussion, what should we do? In the end the Linux community held firm to our principles and the commission changed how it operated. Intel, IBM, Microsoft, all of them. The Mountain had come to Mohammad.

We don't normally think of giant computer corporations like Intel, IBM, HP and Dell as being among the oppressed, but in their relationship to Microsoft, they were. For example there was the time that Dell started timidly selling Linux laptops and Microsoft made them stop. So as Linux started to reveal itself as a viable alternative to Microsoft, they were all on board in a hurry. They sold hardware so free software that works was the cat's meow. Getting in tune with the open source way of doing things took some struggle.

There have been a lot of such struggles and changes in the now almost 20 year journey of Linux. The name itself came about because Linus Torvalds, a Finnish grad student had developed the seeds of a kernel to work with the free GNU software that Richard M. Stallman and others, mainly around MIT, had developed. He posted the source code on the Internet for comment. He asked a friend to post it on his ftp server in a folder named FreeX, his friend didn't like that name and changed it to Linux. Anyway Linux was off and running. The year was 1991.

Open Source was a term created by Eric Raymond. That was in the heady period after he had written the free software manifesto The Cathedral and the Bazaar and some Microsoft engineer had leaked the Halloween Documents [ I'll try to come back and add links later]. The Linux community had pretty much adopted the Gandi quote:
First they ignore you,
then they ridicule you,
then they fight you,
then you win.

Linux Hardware Solutions even put it on a popular T-shirt. The Halloween Documents formally marked the transition to the "Then they fight you" phase.

The idea was that the term we had used up until then "free software" was beyond the understanding business. Some of us wanted to grow free software beyond its cult following and present a direct challenge to Microsoft for world domination and that meant dealing with business. Open Source was conceived of as a business friendly way to refer to free software. Free as in beer, and Free as in speech, as we are fond of saying.

There were a lot of debates and struggles in that period, in fighting and back biting. As one who had come out of the political left, I couldn't help but notice the similarities. Linux Expo 1998. Google made it's debut to the Linux community. At the time it was still a couple of guys in a dorm room with some Linux computers. The big news was that Red Hat Software had just released the first multi-language Linux distribution and the mystery eighth language turned out to be 'Redneck.' Those good old boys from North Carolina knew how to make a joke.

The biggest ethical and technical problem Linux faced in those days was how to deal with all these computer hardware companies and their closed source drivers. The biggest barrier to growth Linux faced was that it was very limited in the hardware it supported. While Linux developers became very good at figuring out how things worked and writing open source drivers for them, that took time and reverse engineering didn't alway produce the best results. As Linux grew in importance, more and more of the hardware companies were willing to make software available to use their stuff with Linux. Problem was, they often weren't willing to give up their secrets. They weren't willing to write open source drivers for their products.

The debate raged in the free software community. Were we willing to compromise with these hardware vendors? Could we find away that they could keep their secrets and still work with Linux? In the end it was decided that we could allow some proprietary code to work with Linux, to 'taint' the the kernel, as it is referred to technically, so that we could play with Nvidia, ATI, Logictech and all the rest.

I am giving you this little slice of history in the hopes that it will help you see the Google Verizon deal from my perspective, Most people see two large companies getting together to screw the rest of us. With my knowledge of open source history, I see Google doing what we have always done, joining with a willing partner from corporate America and making a compromise that moved the ball a little further in our direction. I haven't aways agreed with the compromise but that doesn't make it evil.

I think Google operated in good faith in securing Verizon's support for net neutrality. I think some very sophisticated people have used Google's political and PR naivety to make it seem otherwise. They knew that in the current, and justified, anti-corporate atmosphere, that it would be readily believed if they announced that Google and Verizon were up to no good. Well, we know that Verizon is up to no good. After that the DailyKos, Huffington Post, Democracy Now and Countdown were off and running. That was before the duet even issued a press release. By then it really didn't matter what the proposal was. Nobody was listening.

The end result is that the one corporate player that has fought for network neutrality consistently and for a long time, has been neutralized.


Here is a recap of my other DKos dairies on this subject:
Keith Olbermann's Deception
Court rules -> Google Must Be Evil & Maximize Profits
EFF on the Google\Verizon Net Neutrality Proposal
Google-Verizon: What is the Free Press Agenda?
End of the Internet As We Know It!
Free Press would make this Illegal!
Google Verizon Announce Terms of Deal

Friday, August 13, 2010

Google-Verizon: What is the Free Press Agenda?

Today Free Press has organized a demonstration in front of Google's headquarters. As American bombs kill in Afghanistan, Arizona prepares for mass imprisonment, and banks are turning thousands out of their homes. Free Press is organizing a mass movement to demand that Google "Don't Be Evil!"

The hallmark of the Free Press push for network neutrality has been their opposition to industry players conducting secret meetings with the FCC.

This comment by Josh Silver is typical:
“Despite public outrage and repeated promises of transparency, the FCC continues to meet behind closed doors with the largest companies to negotiate a secret deal."

Now it comes out that Free Press has had it's own private meetings with the FCC, and while the Free Press meetings have been no more secret than those of the other industry players that they critique, everybody has to report lobbying activity, they have also been very quiet about their private meetings with the FCC

In yesterday's diary and elsewhere I have definitively critiqued their flawed understanding of net neutrality. I also pointed out that the thrust of their campaign has been to put the FCC in charge of the Internet, which so far has been run by a group of international NGOs. Now I want to shine a little light on the lobbying organization itself because I really have to wonder what its agenda is.

According to the the FCC's vistors log, Free Press staffers had at least 29 separate meetings with the FCC in 2009 and according to ex parte filings, Free Press people have had at least 6 private meetings with the FCC in 2010, including a meeting on January 22, 2010 between Free Press rep Ben Scott and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and four of the Chairman's advisors.

That's pretty high level contact for a protest group, not the usual situation. It would be really nice to know what went on at that meeting. One would think that such a high level meeting would make a big splash on their website. But I couldn't find a thing. Since Free Press has been so vocal in demanding transparency in the dealing of others with the FCC, it is a real shame that we have to find out the meeting even took place from the right wing Daily Caller.

Free Press is a lobbying group. They have at least one registered lobbyist with the FCC and some people think they should have more and have accused them of violating the Lobbying Disclosure Act. The above meeting took place just 3 days after Free Press received a $250,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The Free Press does say that they are not like the others. Chris Riley made this clear yesterday, after the story about Free Press lobbying broke, saying it was:
the difference between lobbyists whose job is to advance the parochial commercial goals of a business, and those few advocates employed by nonprofit organizations who try to do their best to put the public’s interest first.

I'm sure that's true, and if we knew about the meeting and if Free Press had told us what went on at the meeting, there would be no doubt.

Not all the meeting have been in FCC offices. In December 2009 Free Press rep Ben Scott planned a meeting with Tom Powers of the National Telecommunications & Information Administration [NTIA] at a Starbucks.

Requesting the meeting in an email on December 10, 2009, Ben Scott wrote:

“I wanted to reconnect sometime soon. I hear you’re cooking up the next course in the Net Neutrality debate, and I wanted to offer my culinary advice. I’ve been in the Net Neutrality sausage making business for some years now, and I’m hopeful that I can be useful to you. I had a good meeting with Danny Weitzner a week or two ago – but I wanted to talk about the politics with you. Your intervention will carry enormous weight.”

So since the beginning of this year Free Press has gotten some fat newspaper foundation money, had a series of, shall we say "undisclosed" meetings with the FCC, and now they have come out with a full court media campaign targeting the one industry player that has a long history of fighting for net neutrality, Google.

If I were a conspiracy theorist I might call that an embarrassing chain of events, but I'm sure there is nothing to that, so I suggest you all run down to the Free Press Google protest in Mountain View. There's still time, it doesn't start till noon. Free Press is making sausage and they need some filler.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

End of the Internet As We Know It!

This fear mongering was initiated by an August 4th article in the prestigious New York Times with the title Google and Verizon Near Deal on Web Pay Tiers that began:
WASHINGTON — Google and Verizon, two leading players in Internet service and content, are nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege.
Such an agreement could overthrow a once-sacred tenet of Internet policy known as net neutrality,
We now know that this story was very miss-leading. First off, there is no 'deal' only a joint legislative proposal to give the FCC the authority to enforce network neutrality in the traditional, i.e. wireline, Internet. This is an authority it doesn't now have. No 'deal' and no tiers on the pillow. Hardly the 'overthrow' the NYT promised in the Wednesday edition.

But hey, it's the NYT so it must be true. On Friday Amy Goodman's Democracy Now reported "The internet and telecom giants Verizon and Google have reportedly reached an agreement to impose a tiered system for accessing the internet." Then they went on to discuss the deal that "many fear could spell the end of the internet as we know it." Josh Silver of Free Press was the expert on the show and based on the NYT report he declared "The era of Google doing no evil just ended." He also looks to the FCC to exercise a dictatorship, saying "Chairman Genachowski—he has the votes—to simply move what’s called a reclassification of agency authority, and he could reestablish his authority" and "solve this problem."

Craig Aaron of Free Press, writing in the Huffington Post, called it the "pact to end the Internet as we know it" He too looks to the FCC for salvation saying "We need the FCC" and ending his piece, like Joan McCarter, by pleading for the FCC, telling his readers "If you haven't yet told the FCC why we need Net Neutrality, please do it now."

I thought we had net neutrality. Is it gone already? That fast, huh?

Tuesday Keith Olbermann also spoke of "the Google-Verizon deal with the devil" He then went on to falsely imply that they were trying to take away FCC rules that already existed! "What Google and Verizon agreed to was this: that FCC rules ensuring equal access to the Internet should still apply to wired devices like a computer on your desk, but those rules should not apply to wireless devices, such as mobile phones or smart phones or iPads." His guest from CNET comforts us "The government writes laws.  The FCC passes regulations."

This call for the FCC to take over has reverberated throughout the non-technical left recently.

Well the world wide Internet has developed quite nicely under the regime of the companies and organizations that have managed it thus far, thank you. And I must also tell you that many who have championed Internet freedom and net neutrality long before it became fashionable at the Daily Kos or Huffington Post, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation [EFF], think that the FCC call to enforce net neutrality is a Trojan horse for a lot of regulation the Internet doesn't need. Back in October it asked Is Net Neutrality a FCC Trojan Horse? In that commentary they warned that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's rule making on network neutrality "is built on a shoddy and dangerous foundation – the idea that the FCC has unlimited authority to regulate the Internet." EFF has been the home of the fight for civil liberties on the Internet for more than 20 years. I have a sticker from them on my front door. It says "Come Back With A Warrant."

The Internet is more than a way to blog here or watch silly YouTube videos. It is a social organization that is unique in human history. I remember being in a room some years ago with less than a thousand people and a speaker told them that if they walked off the job, the Internet would grind to a halt in a few weeks. I looked around the room and realized it was true. The event was a USENIX SysAdm meeting and the people there were some of the most important system administrators on the Internet. USENIX is a Unix and Internet users group that formed in 1979 and since has played a vital role in organizing and regulating the Internet.

Other bodies that play important roles in making the Internet work and so far have done a very good job of keeping it free and innovative include the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C] "an international community that develops standards to ensure the long-term growth of the Web,"  The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers [ICANN] is a technical coordination body for the Internet. InterNIC oversees the domain name registration system. The Internet Society is the home of groups responsible for Internet infrastructure standards and provides leadership in chartering the future of the Internet. The Internet Architecture Board is responsible for oversight and some Internet standards. The Internet Engineering Task Force [IETF] is a large international community of network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers concerned with the evolution of the Internet architecture and the smooth operation of the Internet. It is open to anyone who wants to join. There is also People for Internet Responsibility [PFIR] a group concerned about many present and future aspects of the Internet, including regulation.

While not comprehensive, this is a pretty good list of the organizations that have brought you the Internet as it exists today. Net neutrality is the standard and the Internet has been relatively free by the design of these people. They are not government agencies and they are all international bodies. The Internet is an international social and technical structure, it's knows no national borders except where governments try to interfere, and appropriately, it has been run by international bodies. That's why governments like China that try to have it their way find they have a hard row to hoe. These people don't play that.

Now comes the national chauvinistic American left demanding that the FCC take over.

And the names of these organizations, that have taken the Internet from 15 nodes in 1971 to were it is today? They have played almost no role in our recent discussions on net neutrality, because the knowledge of the Internet among most of the people doing the talking is very shallow.

In that regards I must again toil to clean out the mess in the stables left by some of this recent commentary. This is stuff I have said elsewhere, but it bears repeating.

First. What is Network Neutrality? Network Neutrality means that data, of the same type, is treated the same irregardless of source or destination

There has been a bit of confusion around this with some people mistakely promoting the idea that it means different types of data must be treated the same and that dog just doesn't hunt.

The NYT propagated this idea in the article I've already cited when it spoke of the "Internet policy known as net neutrality, in which no form of content is favored over another." Josh Silver carried on the same way on Amy's show warning "losing net neutrality then allows these companies to prioritize some traffic—video, say—and de-prioritize others." and so did Craig Aaron in the Huffington Post saying "Real Net Neutrality means that Internet service providers can't discriminate between different kinds of online content and applications."

What they are suggesting as net neutrality really would end the Internet as we know it because if realtime packets for realtime services like video and voice can no longer be given priority over email and web packets, some services we now take for granted aren't going to work anymore.

Consider this description for a new DLink router for the home sold on Amazon:

Typical Internet applications such as e-mail and chat require minimal bandwidth. But other applications such as Voice over IP (VoIP) and video streaming/conferencing require much higher bandwidth as they are real-time sensitive. The DI-102 Broadband Internet/VoIP Accelerator uses an intelligent engine to detect and prioritize bandwidth-sensitive packets so that they can be sent over the Internet as soon as the request is made. This results in faster processing of real-time based packets, less latency, and a better user experience. For instance, there are two computers on your network and both are online - one is using an e-mail program and the other is making a VoIP call.

When data packets from each computer are sent to the Internet at the same time, the DI-102 will automatically classify the VoIP call as more important and send the VoIP packets first, and the e-mail data second. The user on the phone can immediately notice the benefits whereas the user sending e-mails will barely notice a change.
If net neutrality ala Silver and Aaron were to prevail, this type of technology, which is already widely used, would be illegal. They, including the NYT in this case, don't know what they are talking about. Once again, network neutrality means that data, of the same type, is not discriminated against because of its source or destination. All else is confusion.

Then there is the question of wireline versus wireless. The technically clueless have been of one voice in demanding that they be treated as equals. They see Google as turning to the darkside because they have taken the position, as Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that "The issues of wireless versus wireline get very messy...and that's really an FCC issue not a Google issue."

Unlike the bloggers here, Schmidt, Google and anyone else that has to route real Internet traffic has to deal with certain realities, certain laws of physics, if you will, that most people here are oblivious to. In the wireless world bandwidth is both fixed and limited.

As a tech savy poster to Slashdot pointed out in their much more sophisticated discussion:

   The bandwidth available for wireless transmission is determined by the range of frequencies available, divided by the number of users on that band. It's a FIXED amount. The FCC's not going to widen it just because, there are too many considerations for it.

   You can only achieve a given data speed over wifi. We've improved it over time. But there is a physical limit for reliability of the signal, and that's why wireless is a different story. With wired (or land-based into wifi hotspots) you can just lay more lines in parallel, add a separate color laser to your fiber, etc. which makes it feasible to upgrade and widen the bandwidth. When you have an easily maintainable infrastructure, you don't mind letting it be used freely without priority restrictions.

   Now pictures this: if wireless providers went all net neutral as per your calls, then a phone call would have the same priority as an app downloading updates in the background. Do you know you're going to always have good enough reception to guarantee call quality? Or are OS/firmware updates not more important than that stupid youtube of a dog who can't get up?

   The point is that for wireless, there is a need to prioritize bandwidth, and because it's a fixed bandwidth, if you want priority over something else, you can't just claim it like you do on a landline network.
Are you really demanding equality between 911 data and Facebook apps? There are some very good reasons for not including wireless in the first run of network neutrality rules. It's not just about corporate greed.

And finally there is Google. Yes, Google is now a multi-billion dollar corporation. But Google is also a product of this Internet and Open Source community. It started as two guys with some Linux computers in a dorm room and the fantastical dream of making all of humanity's knowledge available to all of humanity. So far they have come damn close. I know some people that work there and they like it. Google hasn't been perfect but they have given a lot back. They made Android open source, they could have owned it. They blew the whistle on DHS demands' for search engine data after AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft had quietly complied. They balk at Chinese censorship as the others went along and while they have been back and forth on their China policy, they have always championed open access and recently stared the Chinese government down.

It is just possible that after the courts ruled that the FCC didn't have the authority to enforce net neutrality, Google thought that they could then best advance the cause by grabbing the telecom named most likely to agree and hammering out some sort of proposal to make net neutrality law. They might do that because it's the right thing to do and it because makes good business sense for them. Anyway, thanks to them, something will now almost certainly be done to secure net neutrality. I don't see that Google has suddenly broken it's pledge to do no evil and I think they have been treated in a very shabby manner by this community.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Will Android make Google Money?

On some of the blogs discussing the Verizon Google deal yesterday. Many commentators said they would now prefer Apple's iPhone over Google's Andriod. What they fail to understand is that while Google developed Andriod, Google doesn't own Android.

Andriod is a mobile phone O/S that is not owned by Google. You don't need Google's permission to use it or have to pay Google for it.

From the Andriod Open Source Project website:
Here you can find the information and source code you need to build an Android-compatible device.

Android is an open-source software stack for mobile devices, and a corresponding open-source project led by Google. We created Android in response to our own experiences launching mobile apps. We wanted to make sure that there was no central point of failure, so that no industry player can restrict or control the innovations of any other. That's why we created Android, and made its source code open.

That means literally that you can download the software and create your own Android based phone and not owe Google a thin dime. It is open source. Same as FireFox, same as Linux or Open Office and the price is the same. And since you have the source code you can modify it, debug it and extend it completely independent of Google.

So how will Google make money off of Android?

This question is being discuss this morning on Slashdot as they ask the question

Does Google have an Android revenue-model?

oxide7 writes "Google's basking on its Android success — 200,000 Android units activated each day, total shipments of Android are surpassing those of iPhone in U.S. and Nielsen reports Androids hold 27 percent of US smartphone market — but is the reported success actually minting money for the company?"

He cites this article in International Business Times Does Google have an Android revenue-model?

Recently Google's CEO Eric Schmidt was questioned about this but as there is no way to measure Android's success, Schmidt merely said, "trust me, we do", bordering on abstraction. When asked if the revenue was enough to support an Android project, Schmidt pointed out Google's ad-revenue model saying "Trust me that revenue is large enough to pay for all of the Android activities and a whole bunch more."

Ever since Google launched Android in 2007, its business model around the open-source OS platform for smartphones has been ambiguous. Though, it is a widely accepted that unlike traditional firms, Google does not build product around a viable business model but instead makes a product and then seeks a revenue-model.

Android provides an open-ecosystem for manufacturers and application developers to build products around the platform. However, with no control over licensing, its lack of an Apple style application store to monitor apps and also with no bargaining capacity with service providers, options for Google to generate revenue from Android are slim.
I'm quite sure also that Google will find away to make money off of Android. They are the preeminent practitioner of the Open Source ethos of getting rich by giving it away, but please understand Google is not your enemy and Android is not iPhone.

In the popular mind Google is in competition with Apple because Apple makes the iPhone and Google makes Android, which is seen as the iPhone's new rival. The iPhone has been everybody's new darling, but please understand what iPhone is. It is owned lock, stock and barrel by Apple. If you want to buy it, you buy it from Apple. If you want to write software for it, you do it on Apple's terms, and for now, if you want to use it, you use it on AT&T.

Android, on the other hand, is a mobile operating system based on the Linux kernel and while Google developed it, Google doesn't own it. Android is Open Source Software, the entire source code [which you will never see for the iPhone] is available under the open source Apache license.

Anybody can make Android phones, any carrier can service them and anybody can write software for them, that is the nature of Open Source. For this reason alone, progressives should favor the Android over the iPhone.
And another thing I'd like to point out. All you iPhone users can thank Google for releasing Android because the competition will bring you cheaper and better service, just as all you Window 7 users can thank the Open Source community and the latest Linux Desktop offerings like Ubuntu Linux 10.04 for forcing Microsoft to wake up and perform, and all you Mac users can thank the Open Source community for building most of the inerts of OS X. Peace out.

Free Press would make this Illegal!

Yesterday I saw this D-Link Router on Amazon.com:

Voip Internet Accelerator Intelligent Packet Priority Engine

for as low as $35.00 and I thought I had better snap one up quick because if Josh Silver and Craig Aaron and others at Free Press get their confused understanding of Net Neutrality written into law, this type of useful Internet device will soon be illegal. This is how Amazon describes what it does:

Typical Internet applications such as e-mail and chat require minimal bandwidth. But other applications such as Voice over IP (VoIP) and video streaming/conferencing require much higher bandwidth as they are real-time sensitive. The DI-102 Broadband Internet/VoIP Accelerator uses an intelligent engine to detect and prioritize bandwidth-sensitive packets so that they can be sent over the Internet as soon as the request is made. This results in faster processing of real-time based packets, less latency, and a better user experience.For instance, there are two computers on your network and both are online - one is using an e-mail program and the other is making a VoIP call.

When data packets from each computer are sent to the Internet at the same time, the DI-102 will automatically classify the VoIP call as more important and send the VoIP packets first, and the e-mail data second. The user on the phone can immediately notice the benefits whereas the user sending e-mails will barely notice a change.
Now I think it is good that this sort of packet prioritizing technology is finally making it all the way down to the home level. Without it at the higher levels, I would not be able to watch Countdown [or any video] on the Internet, and I like watching video and listening to music on the Internet.

But Josh Silver, Craig Aaron and others at Free Press are pushing for a version [or misunderstanding] of Network Neutrality that would make this DLink device illegal on the Internet and for that matter, end Internet service as we now know it.

Josh Silver is the executive director of Free Press and has been a leading critic of Google's stand on Network Neutrality. Friday, on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now he signaled his understanding of net neutrality when he warned "losing net neutrality then allows these companies to prioritize some traffic—video, say—and de-prioritize others." So you see, he would view what this D-Link routers does to be a violation of net neutrality.

Similarly, Craig Aaron, Managing Director, Free Press, wrote in the Huffington Post on Tuesday "Real Net Neutrality means that Internet service providers can't discriminate between different kinds of online content and applications." So obviously this device which discriminates between voice data and email data, for example. is a total violation of Net Neutrality as he understands it.

So they got a quarter million dollar grant from the Knight Foundation in January and now they are going after Google big time on Net Neutrality. They got 300 thousand people to tell Google "Don't Be Evil." Good. Fine. I just wish they understood what they were talking about and would stop making such a muddle out of Network Neutrality.

So Once Again: Network Neutrality means that data, of the same type, is treated the same irregardless of source or destination.
Now that I have had a chance to watch Countdown with Keith Olberman, thanks to the priority given to video data packets under the current voluntary regime of net neutrality, I have to amend this diary in an attempt to clean up a little his Augeas' stables on the Google Verizon deal and net neutrality because it is clear he has drunk the Free Press - Huffington Post - Democracy Now Kool Aid.

He begins the segment with the type of disaster reporting headline that is designed to alarm, warning of "an end to the Internet as we know it" saying the "Google Verizon deal to throw out net neutrality for the sake of their profits" and warning "it's worst than we thought."

He then goes on to imply that net neutrality is something that is already written into law and which Google and Verizon propose to take away, "What Google and Verizon agreed too was this, that FCC rules assuring equal access to the Internet should still apply to the wired devices like a computer on your desk but thoses rules should not apply to wireless devices such as mobile phones or smart phones or Ipads."

And just what rules were these, Keith? Because my understanding is that there were no rules, i.e. laws, regarding net neutrality and that in April, before Google started talking to Verizon about this, the courts told the FCC they didn't have the authority to make such rules. In that context, Google went to Verizon and won it's agreement to support a legislative proposal that at least in shires network neutrality for wirelines. And again I have to point out to Obermann and everyone else that only thinks as an end user, that data packets, even when destine for "wireless devices such as mobile phones or smart phones or Ipads", only travel the "last mile" on wireless, so net neutrality on wirelines, even for data destine for those devices, is important.

So Obermann is presenting the Google Verizon deal as suggesting that laws already on the books no longer be applied to wireless when it is a proposal that suggests that net neutrality be made the law of the land with regards to wirelines but leaves aside the question of wireless. Wireless is a much more difficult problem from the technology point of view. This is something that people who are clueless about the technology like to leap over. Google CEO Eric Schmidt was alsolutely right when he said "The issues of wireless versus wireline get very messy...and that's really an FCC issue not a Google issue."

And as a tech savy poster to Slashdot pointed out:

The bandwidth available for wireless transmission is determined by the range of frequencies available, divided by the number of users on that band. It's a FIXED amount. The FCC's not going to widen it just because, there are too many considerations for it.

You can only achieve a given data speed over wifi. We've improved it over time. But there is a physical limit for reliability of the signal, and that's why wireless is a different story. With wired (or land-based into wifi hotspots) you can just lay more lines in parallel, add a separate color laser to your fiber, etc. which makes it feasible to upgrade and widen the bandwidth. When you have an easily maintainable infrastructure, you don't mind letting it be used freely without priority restrictions.

Now pictures this: if wireless providers went all net neutral as per your calls, then a phone call would have the same priority as an app downloading updates in the background. Do you know you're going to always have good enough reception to guarantee call quality? Or are OS/firmware updates not more important than that stupid youtube of a dog who can't get up?

The point is that for wireless, there is a need to prioritize bandwidth, and because it's a fixed bandwidth, if you want priority over something else, you can't just claim it like you do on a landline network.
All these "technical" details are things that Silver, Aaron and Obermann can overlook, but they can't be over looked by the people that make the Internet function everyday. And I really have to wonder what is going on here? Is it just naiveté? Or is it something else? I know that NBC would like to kill net neutrality. I don't know about the money behind Free Press. But I suppose some might find it useful to announce the death of net neutrality now and blame it all on Google.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Google Verizon Announce Terms of Deal

August 9, 2010 10:58 AM PDT
CEOs from Google and Verizon Communications held a press conference Monday announcing a proposal to lawmakers for keeping the Internet open.

The companies suggested a legislative framework for consideration by lawmakers. The major breakthrough in the proposal is an agreement that the nondiscrimination clause that the Federal Communications Commission has proposed as part of its regulatory efforts would be enforceable.

"We agree that, in addition to these existing principles, there should be a new, enforceable prohibition against discriminatory practices," the proposal states. "This means that for the first time, wireline broadband providers would not be able to discriminate against or prioritize lawful Internet content, applications, or services in a way that causes harm to users or competition."

I believe that Google has been following it's do no evil policy all along in this matter. It has long championed net neutrality along with everyone else in the Open Source community and Free Software movements which produced it, long before DailyKos was and most people here ever heard the term.

It has a long history in the fight for a free Internet and has been treated in a very shabby manner by some people in this community who don't know the history and frankly are sometimes very confused by the technology and don't really understand net neutrality.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt understands this. As he said while speaking about the Google Verizon meeting last week:

"People get confused about Net neutrality," Schmidt said. "I want to make sure that everybody understands what we mean about it. What we mean is that if you have one data type, like video, you don't discriminate against one person's video in favor of another. It's OK to discriminate across different types...There is general agreement with Verizon and Google on this issue. The issues of wireless versus wireline get very messy...and that's really an FCC issue not a Google issue."

One of those confused people is the very Josh Silver, the executive director of Free Press, that has been spearheading this critque of Google before the facts. Friday, on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now, Josh Silver said:

So if, let’s say, that your Verizon provider is blocking or slowing down traffic, and you don’t like it, you don’t really have a choice. That’s problem number one. Number two, you know, losing net neutrality then allows these companies to prioritize some traffic—video, say—and de-prioritize others, and then what effectively happens is the internet becomes like cable television, where Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner Cable decide what’s fast, what’s—how much it costs, and who’s slow.

Eric Schmidt is right and Josh Silver shows that he doesn't understand the rights he seeks to defend. I have to support Schmidt and oppose Silver because I like watching Countdown on the Internet, on my own schedule and, for now, without commercials and if real-time data packets aren't given priority over say email packets, you can kiss applications that require data in real time, such as video and interactive games, goodbye.

This question of what 'net neutrality really involves is so important to the discussion that I want to break it down even more for the non-technical by way of analogy, so let's take a ride on Josh Silver's Railroad.

The railroad system is a lot like the Internet and I believe at one time there actually was a problem with the big RR barons making and breaking companies by favoring this ones freight over that ones. Hence the need for Railroad Neutrality. Now normally that would mean that every company's cars are treated the same, not that freight cars and passengers cars are given the same priority. Not So on Josh Silver's Railroad! In Josh Silver's brand of Railroad Neutrality all railroad cars are treated the same. Sometimes the coal cars have to wait days while the passenger cars go, sometimes the passengers have to wait days while the coal cars go and sometimes the milk spoils. Welcome to the Josh Silver Railroad.

As I said in a comment I posted on this question last week:

Google, along with Red Hat, and a few other large Open Source companies [along with Linux and other user groups, Open Source standards organizations and frankly too many community members to list here] have been fighting for open standards and freedom on the Internet, of which net neutrality is but a part, with the big proprietary software companies like Microsoft, hardware companies such as Intel and IBM and the telecoms for well over a decade. This has involved a lot of meetings, discussions, industry standards boards etc. These have all been 'secret' as far as the average Daily Kos reader has knowledge, but the Internet would already be a much more 'private' place without their intervention.

I was there and saw all. I started Linux Users, Los Angeles [LULA] in 1996 and was it's president for 8 years. In the late '90s I put Red Hat Linux on a hard drive and sold it as an easier to install version known as Linux On A Disk. I never paid Red Hat a dime for their software. Not only did Red Hat not sue me, they had no cause under the terms of the GPL, they recommended my product to customers that found their's too difficult to install, and when they went public they gave me a taste - they gave a lot of people in the community a taste [ as did Google, I might add, with their IPO ] in their "friends and family" program. Mandrake Soft, Novell SUSE, Calera and many others all use the Red Hat Package Management System [RPM] without charge. They all work co-operatively to develop their software and they share everything. When you can wrap your mind around this kind of business model you can begin to understand open source and the Google outlook.

Google entered talks with Verizon only after the courts ruled that the FCC could not enforce net neutrality. From TV Broadcast News:
The talks come after the FCC was stymied in its effort to reclassify broadband services as a common carrier, which would have given the commission more leeway in regulating how network operators conduct their business.
Do people here have a problem with Google fighting to establish net neutrality as an industry standard when the FCC is doing nothing?

I first met Google at the Linux Expo held at Duke U. and hosted by Red Hat Software in 1998. At the time Red Hat had 14 people and was looking to hire 20 more and Google was still two guys running a search engine from their dorm room.

From this close observer, I can tell you that the Open Source movement, including Google, has fought long and hard for a place at the table. It would seem that Google is now suspect for even sitting at the table.