January 15, 2011
And Now for Something Completely Different...By Jim Yardley
When one views the actions of FCC Chair Julius Genachowski and the FCC's Chief Diversity Officer (or would that be internet czar?), Mark Lloyd, one might think that the FCC is following a movie script from the 1930s, or perhaps the works of John Cleese and his delightfully unhinged associates.
Only in the madcap comedies of either the Marx Brothers or the lads from the Monty Python troupe could it be conceivable that two appointed officials of the United States government claim, with straight faces, that they are acting to protect openness and transparency while the results of their actions will eliminate, or at the very least have a chilling effect on, free speech as we have known it for over two hundred years.
There is no doubt that George Orwell is looking down on us, pumping his fist in the air, and shouting, "I warned you! I warned you! See? I was right!"
And while the plans of Chairman Genachowski and Mr. Lloyd are not transparent no matter how much the word is stretched, Mr. Lloyd's admiration for Hugo Chávez's attitude toward freedom of speech and communication is well-documented. And ominous.
To be fair to both Genachowski and Lloyd, they are not currently discussing methods to completely shut down websites that are critical of the government. A large number of sites originate offshore, and it might impact foreign relations were we to pull the plug on the Times of London, for instance.
It is much easier to deny Americans access to such sites without straining our already fragile relationships with our NATO allies, Canada, or Australia.
Genachowski and Lloyd must have seen the movie Zorro, The Gay Blade, where Lauren Hutton demands to speak in the village square to give an impassioned speech about freedom. The alcalde (played by the fine actor, Ron Leibman) considers her assertion that she has a right to speak and announces to the assembled villagers that "[y]es, the woman has a right to speak! But none of you are allowed to listen!"
It appears that Genachowski and Lloyd have never read the Constitution, which in plain English explains that lawmaking is reserved to the Legislative Branch, not the Executive. So their attempt to draft a set of regulations for the internet is in clear conflict with the doctrine of separation of powers.
And since a D.C. Circuit Court made clear in April of this year that the FCC cannot legally regulate the internet without a majority of both houses of Congress authorizing it, any attempt to do so should result in a colorful lecture from the bench and a summons to show cause as to why they should not be held in contempt.
But no one should think that these Pythonesque pronouncements end with the shenanigans of the FCC.
Look, if you will, at the Department of Homeland Security. We cannot, or will not, secure our border, yet Janet Napolitano has just returned from a visit to Afghanistan, where she advised Afghanis on how they should do it. DHS refuses to profile, claiming that such "discrimination" might be offensive to certain minorities, while ignoring the fact that being effectively molested in a "pat-down" appears to offend just about everyone, including the minorities DHS wishes to placate.
Look at the reaction of the media talking heads to the tragedy in Arizona this past weekend. After cautioning their listeners and readers against jumping to conclusions regarding the actions of Major Hasan in the killing of thirteen soldiers at Fort Hood, apparently the media found itself fresh out of restraint and blamed Sarah Palin, the Tea Parties, or anyone who has been critical of Michelle's wide belts for being the cause of the shooter's deranged behavior.
We can hear Nancy Pelosi telling anyone who will listen that fiscal responsibility in government is her "mantra."
We have a Department of Energy, with a mandate to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, that does everything in its power to reduce the amount of domestic energy production.
We have a Department of Education that does nothing to improve the education of America's children but moves heaven and earth to protect teacher's unions.
The mayor of the largest city in the country, who is unable to clear the streets of snow or garbage, hints that he thinks he's qualified for the presidency.
We have a Congress and an EPA who frequently use "protecting children" as their excuse for burdensome regulation yet are cheerfully willing to force homeowners with children to switch from incandescent to fluorescent light bulbs, a change that will introduce potentially lethal levels of toxic mercury into America's homes.
The list goes on and on and on...without apparent end.
Then we hear from Harry Reid, speaking with the utmost sincerity about his certainty that the Tea Parties will simply fade away as the economy picks up. One can only assume that Senator Reid is simply parroting a talking point dreamed up by the White House, or he is utterly clueless about the motives of a movement supported by 40% or more of the American electorate. This is a movement, it should be noted, that nearly cost Reid his job.
Yes, these things all certainly do appear to be scenes from a Marx Brothers film, or episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus. That being said, one must ask, "Why is no one laughing?"