Trump and the Throwback Presidency

Atlanta   Donald Trump’s term is now officially and forever the Throwback Presidency. Not because we can throw him back, but because he is proving that his views on race and ethnicity are more common to those of Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, and pre-Civil War presidents and most of our founding fathers who chartered the country.

Taking the long view, as I’m sure many pundits will, we can conclude from our history that the country has survived racist, chauvinist, and jingoist presidents, so we will surely survive Donald Trump’s time in the White House as well. The caveat there being that he doesn’t stumble-bum the country into nuclear war, which is still on the list of things to worry about for most of us.

And, we undoubtedly will survive the huge shame and disgrace of watching him lower the reputation and standing of the United States both here and abroad. There are countries where we will have lost whatever was the last smidgen of our moral authority, since our President unabashedly slurs their nations and their people. The White House at this point doesn’t even bother to apologize to the world and its people, when the President disparages whole countries. After Trump attacked African countries among others during debates on immigration, as being “shithole” countries, his spokesperson rather than apologizing or at least having the courtesy to lie for the president and claim he was misquoted, seemed to defend his racism by saying essentially that he was always for “America first.” What the heck does that mean? Is he saying that being for America first, which, frankly, all presidents are, you are therefore, by definition, a racist and a drum beater for some kind of white-ethnic purity? Wow!

The irony is that I won’t even being able to quote’s Trump’s words directly when I record these notes for radio play because what the President of the United States says in the White House the Federal Communications Commission will not allow to be broadcast over the radio! Most of us will only know of this outrage by reading the newspapers, because broadcasters of all stripes have had to tiptoe around his exact language. Just outrageous!

Having a throwback president who claims he is putting America first, simply means for the coming three years and for many years to follow, as the country tries to repair the damage that Trump is doing to our world standing and national reputation, all of us, both to our own neighbors and as we travel, will have apologize for Trump and the shame he is brought to all of us, and reminisce when the United States at least tried to show leadership in moving the world and all of its people forward, rather than taking us and everyone else back to the caves. We can work out this problem among ourselves, because thanks to President Trump, he is isolating us almost completely into little more than an island landmass between two oceans.

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FCC Fork Tongues on Net Neutrality

Little Rock   It wasn’t so long ago that we don’t remember, but in a fierce fight that logged more citizen comments that ever before recorded on a Federal Communications Commission matter, the FCC essentially declared the internet equivalent to a public utility assuring net neutrality, meaning that all providers have equal access to users. Everyone from consumers and citizens to Silicon Valley were happy to have won this one. The telecommunications monopolies sued and are still in court, but in a disappointment to them and the politicians they fund with their huge contributions, they have most recently lost their efforts to overturn the Obama FCC order, and are appealing to the Supreme Court.

In the wave of the Trump Administration rollbacks of Obama era regulations and initiatives, the new FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, has immediately sought to unravel the internet’s classification as a utility, assure net neutrality, and pretty much have the FCC play any role in regulating any of this. Chairman Pai is a slick one. He claims he is totally committed to what he calls an “open” internet. He swears he is a big “streamer” himself and that he’s a bannerman for “Game of Thrones” as a binge watcher.

Listening to an interview with him on the radio was a very scary thing, because not only is he a fast and smooth talker, but he’s duplicitous and evasive on the issues. He had two key talking points in trying to muddy the waters.

First, he harps on the fact that the regulation defining public utilities goes back to 1934 and President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He made that points several times in different ways in order to try and embed the notion that this is antiquated and out of date and the internet is modern, so how could one possibly be adequate for the other. He slightly slips up by mentioning that the 1934 regulations were dealing with monopolistic tendencies of AT&T, forgetting for a minute that it might be worth still looking at what’s up with AT&T and its buddies now, since it’s a longway from small potatoes.

Secondly, he tried a curve ball, trying to argue that he was trying to take the FCC back to what he called the Clinton era regulatory philosophy which prevailed from what he claimed was 1990 to 2015, meaning until the Obama FCC majority put the internet under protective custody, so to speak. No question, President Clinton was a deregulator supreme, but what Pai was trying to plant here in unsuspecting minds was the idea that he is mainstream and that Obama and his FCC majority were outliers.

The game was up when the interviewer pressed him for how he thought under his proposal that telecoms speeding up their own content and slowing up their competitors would be handled. This was a forked-tongue masterpiece. He answered quickly saying that if they did that and it hurt consumers then the Federal Trade Commission could investigate and so could the Justice Department, along with state agencies around the country. Huh? Yes, he was careful to push any and all responsibility for telecom miscreants to everyone and anyone other than the FCC. Under his watch, they are clearly planning to wash their hands of any supervision or regulation. Essentially, he was saying, hey, if you have a problem, catch them if you can, and good luck with that.

In these days this passive, reactive approach to anything involving the internet and consumers just doesn’t work, and he knows it though he doesn’t want to upset his patrons and paymaster. Case in point, we have Uber creating software in order to deliberately trick states and cities where it was committed to avoiding and breaking regulations barring or limiting its participation. Another case in point, we also have is the huge scandal where Volkswagen created software to trick regulators on how many miles per gallon its diesel engines were getting.

The internet and software both giveth and taketh away. It’s not easy finding the tricksters, because this is wildly sophisticated lawbreaking. The FCC wants to go back to 1934 and snooze their way through the Trump-era, but citizens and consumers depend on the internet, and the FCC needs to do their jobs of protecting us and it, and not just spin their way around their duty.

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