Category: politics

A Thanks to Senator Collins for Her Net Neutrality Vote

The Senate voted to restore Net Neutrality yesterday, a great step that might have far reaching effects (assuming the House actually got with the program and did the same thing, which I doubt.) But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a short personal experience I had that touched on this. When we were in DC last week, meeting with our Senators and Representatives, one of the points we were emphasizing was the importance of broadband and an open internet. It’s a point we touched on last year as well, for all the good it did. (At least, that’s how I felt at the time.)

Our delegation raised the issue with Senator Collins again, and she immediately spoke of her desire that an open internet return, talking about how important it was to the future of Maine. She spoke of how her first real job was in a library, and how she worked in a public library all the time while she was going through grade school through high school.

I was glad to hear of her support, but I knew as well how often politics ends up steamrolling any personal feelings people might have when it comes time to vote. Things are quite clannish these days, so I wouldn’t have been surprised if she had gone along with the rest of her party on the net neutrality vote. I’ve respected her willingness to depart from party lines on issues that have been important to her.

So I was very pleased to hear she had done so again for the net neutrality vote. Politicians get a reputation for saying one thing to constituents and then going off and voting another way, and I wanted to note that this time that wasn’t the case. She was true to her word and her stated convictions. Her aides remembered what we’d brought up during our visit as well, and they made sure to send along the following statement she’d made:

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins issued this statement following her vote today in favor of restoring the FCC’s net neutrality rules, which passed the Senate by a vote of 52-47.

“I have long supported common-sense regulations to prohibit Internet providers from prioritizing certain content over other.  I also support regulations to clarify that Internet providers must not manage their systems in an anti-competitive way.  Restoring the FCC’s net neutrality rules will ensure that the Internet will remain open and continue to be a powerful and transformative platform of innovation and economic opportunity. 

“Net neutrality could also make it easier for broadband providers to expand service in higher-cost areas, such as rural Maine, by reestablishing FCC’s oversight over interconnection points that allow rural carriers to connect with the rest of the Internet.  Without this protection, rural carriers’ ability to deploy broadband in underserved areas will be hindered, undermining efforts to bring adequate broadband to all Americans. In December, I joined my colleague, Senator Angus King, in sending a letter urging the FCC not to set aside its net neutrality rules without addressing the legitimate concerns of rural providers and the tools needed to support continued buildout of rural broadband.

“We must also do more to protect consumer privacy on the Internet. Facebook’s role in allowing Cambridge Analytica to access its user data illustrates the need to strengthen consumer protections.

“Congress should not use net neutrality to pick winners and losers among these competitors, but must instead adopt bipartisan legislative reforms to the 1934 regulations that put consumers first.

“A careful, deliberative process involving experts and the public is warranted to ensure that consumers have strong protections that guarantee consumer choice, free markets, and continued growth along with meaningful consumer privacy and data security protections.  With a bipartisan commitment, I believe Congress can enact legislation to achieve these goals.”

Thank you for your vote, Senator Collins. It is noted and very much appreciated.

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A Report on National Library Legislative Day

I’m sitting at the airport waiting for my now delayed plane to arrive (of course), so why not take a bit of time to tell you lovely people how things went yesterday. As a refresher, I’ve been in DC to meet with Maine’s Senators and Representatives in hopes of getting them to support libraries as strongly as possible. It’s part of the American Library Association’s National Library Legislative Day.

Really, they have it down to an art form. We had a big conference on Monday to go over the main talking points they wanted everyone to push when they met their representatives. Last year it was a laundry list of about 8 or 9 points. This year, they had boiled it down to just three: Reauthorize the Institute of Museum and Library Services, support an open internet with greater reach of broadband, and come out and visit a library the next time they’re back home.

These visits usually only last about fifteen minutes, and some of that is eaten up with introductions, etc, so it was great to be able to keep things focused. Last year, I’d left feeling like we’d had a fine set of meetings, but not necessarily that we’d accomplished anything groundbreaking. This year, it felt different. We met in person with Senators King and Collins and Representatives Poliquin and Pingree. All of them were attentive and eager to support libraries. True, it’s an election year, so the cynic in me says they’d all be more likely to be receptive no matter what, but it didn’t feel like that.

I was particularly impressed with the depth of knowledge Senator Collins had for funding libraries, and how well versed Senator King was with the issues around broadband. Everyone we met with was respectful and gushing about how much they loved libraries, and they all said they’d support our requests.

Representative Poliquin took us over to the House, where we got to go inside and watch the floor debate. (Side note: they did a vote by voice while we were there. It was just like the voice vote for the school budget, right down to each side yelling as loudly as possible to make themselves sound more numerous than the opposition. I found that amusing.)

In any case, it was a good trip. I really do feel like we accomplished something, and I’m very pleased I had the chance to come down. At times it’s too easy to assume laws are passed by people who don’t care and just listen to the loudest lobbyists. This year, meeting with everyone in person, I didn’t feel like that. It felt like they all cared about the issues and wanted to know as much as possible about them. That was encouraging.

We had a great delegation of people down with us from Maine (five in all), and I had a very good time. A special shout out goes to our State Librarian, Jamie Ritter, who coordinated the whole show and did a fantastic job guiding each conversation. I was very impressed with his poise and tact, regardless of whom we were meeting with. A huge chunk of the reason for our success is due to his efforts.

Thanks for reading!

Legislating It Up

I’m back down in DC for the next few days, attending National Library Legislative Day once again. If you forgot from last time, that means I’m down with a contingent from Maine, learning about the issues the American Library Association wants to push on with Congress. That’s on today’s slate: the learning. Tomorrow, I’ll be meeting with Senators King and Collins and Representative Pingree (no word on whether Poliquin is making time for us yet) to do the actual pushing.

On the one hand, it sounds far more Important than it feels like in real life, speaking from some experience now. We’ll sit down with their aides mostly, going over our talking points. And we’ll meet with the Congresspeople themselves for ten minutes or so, most likely. On the other hand, this is how things get done. You meet with people and say what’s important to you, and you remind them that there are a lot of other people who think the same way you do.

It’s pretty cool to see it all play out. To see all those librarians from across the country (each state sends its own delegates) gather together one day to get On Message, and then to see them all scurrying around Capitol Hill the next, spreading that message far and wide. It’s a well oiled machine, and all I have to really do is step in and not screw things up.

So anyway, if I’m less present on social media or whatever until Wednesday, now you know why. Thanks for reading!

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

When the Team Becomes More Important than the Player

I’ve been generally disgusted with politics lately. So many people involved in getting so little of real worth accomplished. It’s depressing, and that’s before you trot out Trump and take a long look at just what he’s doing to this country. (Case in point: we’re now focused on bolstering our nuclear defenses, and Congress is examining just what sort of nuclear powers the President should have. This is 2017, by the way. The Cold War has been over for coming up on thirty years. And yet suddenly we’re worrying about this, and I think you can plop pretty much all the blame right at Trump’s bloated feet.*)

But one of the things that has disappointed me the most has been the trend of people more and more focusing on what “team” each politician plays for, and less and less on the character and quality of the actual players/politicians themselves. In the presidential election, many seemed to vote simply because of what the party each candidate belonged to stood for, holding their nose or overlooking anything that candidate might have done or said personally. And I certainly believe Trump and Clinton can have this accusation lobbed at them.

This has become much clearer now with this Roy Moore nastiness. For those of you not following along, Roy Moore is a Republican candidate for Senator in Alabama. The Washington Post published an article detailing an investigation they ran, encompassing thirty interviews with people who knew Moore and connected him with sexually assaulting girls as young as 14 back in the late 1970s, when Moore was in his young 30s. Other women have since come forward, confirming the allegations.

I get that it’s basically a he said/she said situation at the moment. (Though I’ll note that when you have multiple people willing to make the same allegations, that actually turns into a he said/THEY said, and that’s quite a different equation in my book.) Is it possible Moore is innocent and wrongly accused? Sure it is. And some people are taking that line, saying he should step down from the race “if the allegations are true.”

The thing that baffles me—that has my jaw on the floor—is how some others are actually defending his actions, even if those actions are true.

“Take Mary and Joseph. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus,” Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler told theWashington Examiner. “There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.”

And this one:

Joel Pollak, an editor-at-large at Breitbart, criticized the Post’s report in an interview on MSNBC, saying “the 16-year-old and the 18-year-old have no business in that story” because Alabama’s age of consent is 16. “As far as we know, there’s only one relationship that’s been alleged that is problematic,” Pollak said of the encounter with 14-year-old Corfman.

You have politicians and talk show hosts and public figures defending the man’s actions, even if they are true. And the reason many of them give for it? It’s important Moore gets elected to that Senate seat, because otherwise the Republicans have an even more tenuous hold on the Senate. Better to put a child molester into power than to risk the Republican agenda. Let that sink in for a moment. These aren’t people who are defending his character or saying he’d never do such a thing. They’re saying even if he did it, it doesn’t matter as much as politics.

I don’t know why it should surprise me. People voted for Trump to keep the Democrats out of the Presidency, and Trump was on the record saying and doing awful things. It wasn’t he said/she said. It was just “he said.” And you had him on tape actually saying it.

This is not right, plain and simple. And anyone who wants to show up and start accusing Democrats of terrible behavior in order to excuse Republicans for terrible behavior is equally at fault. I literally do not care what party a child molester belongs to. I’m sure there are terrible Democrats out there. But this isn’t football. Two penalties, one against each team, do not offset each other. Play does not continue as normal. I would much prefer an inherently good person be in office, even if I disagree with that person’s politics, than an evil person who might happen to vote the way I’d prefer from time to time. I don’t think that statement should be groundbreaking, but sometimes it feels to me that it’s heading in that direction.

The best way to make it stop (that I can see) is to break up the parties, which might (in turn) break up the talk radio and biased news reporting. When it becomes less of us vs. them, perhaps Americans can start actually caring that good people represent them once more.

Or maybe I’m just dreaming.

Disclaimer: I do not actually know if Trump has bloated feet or not. Perhaps they’re very dainty. Tiny, even. I have no real desire to find out.

But How Can People Still Support Trump?

From my point of view and much of the sentiment I’ve seen expressed among many friends online, the Trump presidency so far has been nothing but a big hot mess. He’s appointed terribly inept people to his cabinet. People who are the antithesis of what that role is supposed to do. He’s had numerous scandals. He’s got these ties to Russia which are only snowballing in potential impact. The list goes on and on.

It’s so bad that the big takeaway from his speech to Congress was that he didn’t royally screw it up. He read the teleprompter and didn’t start ranting about random things. He hasn’t Tweeted anything wildly alarming in the last 24 hours!

It would seem like if any other president in the past were doing even a quarter of the things Trump has done in 40 days in office, they would have just thrown in the towel and quit.

The question I’ve heard a number of people bring up is simple: how in the world can people still like him? Sure, he’s got a disapproval rating around 55%. But how is it that 45% of people still think he’s swell?

In my opinion, the answer is pretty straightforward. I’m going to assume most people asking this were Obama supporters, so I’ll address them directly. Think for a moment about all the negative things that were said about Obama over the years. Think of the allegations, from Benghazi to trampling on the Constitution to bowing to other heads of state. Think about what a big deal Fox News made about all those things.

Now think about what sort of an impact those things made on you. Were you upset about them at all? Or did you just shake your head and dismiss them as overblown accusations that didn’t really amount to much? Were they just the right wing media doing their thing, playing to their base?

I’m imagining that for many of you, you didn’t think twice about them. But realize that for a good portion of the country, those things were a big deal. A very big deal. And for years, that group of people was told by the group that’s currently upset that the fears they had were unfounded. That they were making too big of a deal about it.

So is it any wonder that now the situations are reversed, that it’s playing out in a similar fashion?

Trump supporters call the stories that deride or criticize him “fake news.” And while the term might be loaded, how is it any different from how liberals treated Fox News during Obama? If a story came out on Fox News, it was dismissed as being “on Fox News.” Same process at work. Just a different f-word.

This post isn’t about whether the stories about Obama or Trump ever had any merit. It’s seeking to explain how a group of people can look at what one side views as overwhelming evidence that the President is corrupt or inept, and then ignore it. Both sides have accused the other of doing it now. My hope is that at some point, this partisan politics completely breaks down as citizens stop choosing Red or Blue and start pushing for sanity.

Too bad that hasn’t happened yet . . .

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