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A Gamechanger and a False Alarm

by Paul Rapp on July 23, 2014 · 0 comments

Net Neutrality update: Well, the FCC received well over a million comments on its “Notice of Rulemaking” to consider ways to destroy the Internet. Last week so many comments were coming in that the FCC’s servers crashed, twice, forcing the FCC to push the comment deadline out a few more days. I suspect the vast majority of comments demanded that the FCC create strict and real Net Neutrality rules, not the half-ass pretend neutrality that FCC Chairman Wheeler has floated as a possible outcome. I’m sure there were plenty of Astroturf form letters written and financed by the segment of the corporate Internet world that wants a better Internet for them, and a crap Internet for us. And Techdirt reports that some guy filed a dishwasher user manual as his comments. I wanna party with that guy.

Anyway, now there’s a period where folks can file comments on comments that have already been filed. This lasts until September 15, so get busy. After that, the FCC could: issue a new rule, decline to issue a new rule, hold hearings to discuss new rules, or, believe it or not, ask more questions for the public to comment on. Yes, this could go on forever.

Moving on. One totally geeked-out article caught my eye last week. As you may have heard, there are rumors that AT&T is in talks to acquire Direct TV, the satellite-television giant. Now, history teaches us that mega-mergers like this are almost never in the public interest—the stockholders and transactional lawyers get richer, then lots of people lose their jobs (in corporate-speak this is called things like “increased synergies and efficiencies”) and then prices go up and service quality tanks.

But this article, buried in a high-tech news feed, suggests that there may be reasons to want this merger to happen. To really want this merger to happen. The tech part of this is way over my head, but it goes something like this: AT&T has a wireless broadband technology that it hasn’t been able to use here because it hasn’t had the right wireless bandwidth or a delivery system to make it feasible. This technology delivers super-fast wireless broadband by the truckload, and it can’t be metered, and even if it could be, it’s so fast and plentiful it wouldn’t make sense to meter it. According to the article, AT&T has recently acquired the right part of the bandwidth spectrum for this service, and Direct TV’s infrastructure, with a little tweaking, could deliver it. I hate the term “game-changer,” but it sure seems apt here. Stay tuned.

In my last article I was bitching about the horrible misreporting of the Washington Redskins trademark debacle. Well, here we go again. Yesterday almost every news outlet screamed things like “Judges Deal Death Blow to Obamacare” and “Court Guts Obamacare.” This did not happen. What happened was that a panel of the D.C. Circuit Court, a federal appeals court, ruled 2 to 1 that the Obamacare legislation did not provide for subsidized health care in states that declined to set up their own health exchanges (36 states, all with Republican governors, shamefully refused to lift a finger to help their citizens get affordable health care). It was, by any measure, an insane ruling, supported by two Bush appointees, who, like some of their brethren on the Supreme Court, are agenda-driven toads hell-bent on destroying the New Deal and establishing a corporate-controlled fascist state. Koch-churian judges.

Significantly, a few hours after the D.C. Circuit made its ruling, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals made the opposite ruling on the exact same issue. So what does it mean? Immediately, it means nothing. The D.C. Circuit’s ruling will not go into effect until the appeals process plays out. So does this mean it’s headed for the Supreme Court, where insane rulings like this have become the order of the day?

No, it doesn’t. The government can (and will) ask for the D.C. Circuit to reconsider this decision en banc, meaning instead of a three-judge panel, all of the active D.C. Circuit judges will decide the matter. There are 11 active judges. One was appointed by Bush I, three were appointed by Bush II, three were appointed by Bill Clinton, and four were appointed by Obama. I hate the term “do the math,” but it sure seems apt here.

And if the en banc panel rules like we know it will, there won’t be a split among the circuit courts and the Supreme Court won’t likely pick it up. It’ll be over, and Obamacare will be fine. This isn’t rocket science. You’ve been subjected to shoddy sensationalist journalism at the highest level of what passes for journalism these days.

Paul Rapp is a local IP attorney who invites you all to the 37th annual Monterey Fire Company Steak Roast in Monterey, Mass., this Saturday from 5 to 7. Really tasty swordfish will also be available for you pantywaist communists.

 

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