I got a reply from Representative Brad Ashford

Recently, I poked all the state representatives and senators about upcoming Net Neutrality legistlation that the telecoms have snuck into next year’s, must pass, funding bill.  And Ashford send me a response.  I know, it’s a form letter, but the return address seemed legit.  He may never actually read my thoughts on his response, but that doesn’t mean you lovely people can’t!  Here’s his response:

Dear Seth,

Thank you for contacting my office regarding net neutrality. I appreciate your interest in issues affecting our country and state.

The internet was built to be an equal distribution system. Net neutrality is an effort to solidify the internet as a neutral vehicle for data transfer, as in sending and receiving emails, streaming video, conducting commerce, etc. Concerns have been raised about network providers placing restrictions or discriminatory practices on their networks for different content.

I support an open internet, and oppose blocking, throttling, or the creation of “fast lanes.” We need to foster an open and transparent broadband infrastructure for all Nebraskans, which can grow our economy, and enhance our lives. However, we must be careful not to burden businesses with excessive regulation as this may stunt their vital investment in telecommunication infrastructure.

Again, thank you for sharing your concerns with me. As always, I am open to learning more from you and I appreciate you taking the time to express your views. You may find more useful resources for keeping up with my work by visiting my website https://ashford.house.gov/. I am honored to represent you in Congress.

Sincerely,

Brad Ashford
Member of Congress

And here is what I have to say in response to the honorable Representative:

Representative Ashford,

The telecom industry seems to be remarkably unconcerned with “investing in telecommunication infrastructure” so I don’t really see how regulating them so they are less able to take advantage of their near monopoly will do any harm.  Where I live, right in the middle of downtown Omaha, I have exactly one choice if I want high speed internet, advertised to me with the term “up to 100mbps” and I am luck most days to receive 20 mbps.  In fact, I don’t think I have, even once in two years as their customer seen 100mbps, even when I was paying for 150.  That’s it. I choose Cox, or I don’t get high speed internet.

Combine that with Time Warner and Comcast bringing lawsuits against cities that wish to build their own fiber network that provide reliable gigabit speeds for the same price I’m paying for 20 mbps because its “anti-competitive” and I have remarkably little concern for how these multi-billion dollar industries are burdened by regulation.  I’m a web developer, so my livelihood is closely related to the well being of the internet.  Not only do I develop web sites for the University of Nebraska, but I also am trying to get a web page of my own off the ground.  Seeing the telecom industry actively avoiding investing in infrastructure, and then attempting to keep others from doing so all while saying they should be protected from regulation so they can invest in infrastructure is infuriating.

We know the amount of money that the telecoms spend in Washington every year, and we see bills like this one keep coming up, with protections and considerations for the telecoms, but not for anyone else.  It may not be you, Representative, but its the system and I’m tired of it.  The massive profits of corporations like Time Warner and Comcast do not need your protection, we your constituents do.  We don’t need to avoid regulating the telecoms, we need to place incentives to drive competition.  I need two more (minimum) options to get high-speed internet where I live.  That, and only that, will encourage Cox, Time Warner and the other service providers to bring new technology like fiber to Nebraska at an affordable price…or at least get them to stop lying to me about the service they provide for the ridiculous price they charge me for it.  Don’t keep the telecoms in mind when you’re voting, keep me in mind, because you’re representing me, not the telecoms.

-Seth Swanson

Like I said…he’ll probably never read a word of it.  But just maybe he will, and maybe … Nah.  It’ll be ignored because, really, do I have millions of dollars and thus any influence at all?  Nope.  Oh well, on with the day.

Fight for the net. Here we go again.

I’ve read over and over that it’s a bad idea for an author, especially a beginner to get political.  But damnit, I’m not going to be able to keep things to myself and I need a longer format space to vent about all the shit that’s going on in washingtop.  Full warning, this post is going to get a little sweary, so if “Adult” language bothers you, perhaps skip this particular blog entry.  

Congress, that spoiled little brat of a kid, has its hand in the cookie jar, yet again.  After we have repeatedly told them “NO! BAD!  Go sit in the corner and play with your military contractors.”  I am, of course, talking about the internet.    Comcast has its hand so far up Congress’ ass, whenever Ted Cruz speaks, I hear nothing but “Sponsored messages”.  Perhaps someone can refresh my memory… but I seem to recall something in the Constitution about the government being for the people, not for coorporate America.  If that’s right, then why does corporate America get such a big say in Washington?  Oh right, millions and million spent in lobbying and campaign donations.  

And you have to hand it to the internet.  Social media has allowed it to build its own defense mechanisms.  Public backlash against Washington’s hamfisted attempts to give both Internet Service Providers and media providers like the MPAA and RIAA everything they wanted have, thus far, met with failure.  Unfortunately, for me at least, this isn’t proof that our system is working anymore.  Its proof that we don’t live in a democracy (or a republic) but an oligarchy.  He who has the gold, makes the rules.

Proof positive of this is the FCC’s recent ruling on Net Neutrality and supporting strong rules protecting it.  Do NOT listen to conservative ass-clowns like Cruz and Limbaugh on this (or really any other issue regarding technology…or science of any kind).  As much as they blather on about a government run internet, they’re all pretty much parroting what ISP’s want them to say.  Net Neutrality largely happened because of the overwhelming surge of public support that drove it forward.  Net Neutrality IS the will of the public.  The will of the people.  Yet, what is Congress doing right now?  Putting legislation through that will reverse the FCC’s decision.

They’ll spout reasons that sound good like “protecting the internet from harmful government regulation” or “the internet moving at the speed of government” but once again, they’re full of shit, packed tight in there by the grasping paws of their corporate sponsors.  See, Congress didn’t give two shits about Net Neutrality, until it looked like it was really going to happen.  I’m guessing most behind the recent legislation would have responded with some flavor of “Wha?” or the legalese equivalent of it.

So, we had to fight to even get it through.  Tom Wheeler, who, I’ll grant, eventually did the right thing, really had to be forced into it by an overwhelming amount of public pressure.  I may be wrong about him, but I’m highly cynical about government’s relationship with the Internet.   Now, we’re going to have to fight an even harder battle to keep it, since the ISP’s are fighting it both in the courts and in Congress.  Why do you think they’re fighting?  To protect us?  No, because there’s money at stake. 

We had to fight down SOPA, we had to fight down PIPA, we might still be fighting down CISPA, we’re fighting to keep the Net Neutrality victory that we just won, we’re fighting to end government surveilance and protect privacy rights online.  And now its time to fight the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  

The TPP is a piece of closed door legislation, funded by corps that has its roots in SOPA and PIPA but also contains crap from other things we’ve been fighting.  And wouldn’t you know, the government didn’t want anyone to know about it until it was too late.  Thankfully, it leaked, but Congress has it about to try and get it on a fast track before the internet can bring its guns to bear.  

Well, tough luck, fuckers.  Wednesday, the 23 of April we’re voting.  As a form of protest, there will be an internet vote, where websites will enable users to vote on how they think Congress should handle the TPP.  I’ll be putting the banner up on WordKeeperAlpha, and I encourage all my users to reject what Congress is trying to do.  A bunch of mental deficients who can’t tell an <HTML> from a <SCRIPT> var a = “Dumbass”; </SCRIPT> statement shouldn’t be making laws that will effect the internet, not just for America but the entire world.  Their ignorant pandering to corporations, if successful, will make it harder for small businesses who are actually innovating to make it.   Tell those bastards to keep their hand out of the cookie jar.  These are my cookies, and they can’t fucking have them.


An admission: Or why I’m a liberal now

This last election I did something that I’ve never done before in my life. I voted Democrat, pretty much right down the entire ballot. I had several reasons for doing this. First, I have the vain hope that in this classically Republican state, I would be part of a growing trend of people switching sides. I wanted that to be part of a message to Republicans that they needed to change because they were losing people. Second, I honestly feel that Democrat representatives are more in line with my beliefs.

Don’t get me wrong here. I don’t have faith that either political party has the interests of the people at heart. Both are completely devoted to serving their own needs before those of the people they claim to represent. Washington is a cesspool of corruption and it extends to both sides.

With that being said, over the last couple of years, the group that has made me scream “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” is hands down the Republicans. Most of that is the Tea Party’s fault as its gotten its claws deeper and deeper into the GOP. Although, in all honesty, I was drinking the Tea (koolaid) only just a few years ago. I’ll admit it. I listened to Glenn Beck. I worried that the end of days was right around the corner, and Obama had sold us out to enter us into a new dark age where all Christians were locked away in concentration camps and liberalism and political correctness destroyed freedom, truth and the American way. I kept it quiet, because my opinions were not shared by my friends.

Then, I stopped listening to AM radio. I started reading. I started listening. In short, I started thinking for my own damn self, instead of taking the word of some radio hosts as the gospel truth. I finally started listening to what the ass-hats on Fox News were saying, and how they were saying it. It didn’t hurt that they also said some terrifyingly stupid things during that time that made me hate them. It also didn’t hurt that during that time, I was exposed to more than a few things in Church that made me question the Conservative mindset.

Please, also keep in mind that when I say I was Conservative, I say that mainly on the basis that I thought smaller government was better, that people needed to take care of themselves, as opposed to getting welfare, and that all our overseas actions were awesome because the troops deserved respect. To further clarify, yes, the troops do deserve respect; the people giving the orders are the ones that I have problems with.

I disliked Obama, when he was first elected, because I thought that his “Hope and Change” would destroy America. Now, I’m just disappointed, because I don’t have any Hope that Change will ever happen in Washington. Despite the entire theme of this post, I don’t like to get political. I disliked it even when I was a dyed in the wool Conservative. People talked about politics, mocked each other over politics, and made assumptions over peoples intelligence over politics that were often unfair. I even do it now, though I think my reasons are a little better.

So, the question is, why? What caused me to switch sides? There’s a lot of reasons, but much of it boils down to what the Republican party has become since the Tea Party came along. Its no secret to those of you who know me, science is kind of a big thing with me. I’ve spent pretty much my entire life either watching, or reading science fiction, learning about science just because its fun, and desperately wanting to go into space myself someday. Or be a cyborg. Or have a robot exo-skeleton. Or all three. I’ll take all three and be a cyborg, Ironman in space please.

When you take that into account, it was probably inevitable that myself and the right-wing would have an eventual falling out. They promised that trickle down economics would solve everything. It didn’t. Science promised me tablet computers. Guess what I’m writing this post on. They told me that global warming isn’t real and isn’t an active threat to the planet. It most certainly is.

*sigh* I’m actually getting tired of writing this… and since I don’t expect many people to read it, especially not this far, I’m just going to say that everything that the right-wing has promised me has failed. We have two dollar a gallon gas right now, and Fox News is trying to convince me that’s a bad thing, because the economy will suffer from billionaires losing money and investing elsewhere. I’m not posting links, I’m not going to really engage in any conversation, this isn’t a call for help. This is me, finally telling whoever cares in “The Establishment” that I’ve changed and I did it long ago.

If police fuck up and shoot a kid, they should be held to the same laws that they try to enforce. If someone has cancer, why in God’s name should they even have to worry if their insurance will cover it? If we are destroying our planet, the only damned planet we have, how is it bad to take better care of it? Creationism is not science. Religion does not belong in government. Government does not belong in religion. Stop saying political correctness, and start realizing that you don’t have to be a dick to people. A better use of money would be feeding people and funding research rather than building weapons and fighting wars.

And most of all… WHY IS TED CRUZ GOING TO BE CHAIRING THE COMMITTEE THAT OVERSEES NASA?! I’m trying to find a better way of saying “That’s like putting a moron in charge of some of the smartest people on Earth,” but it is putting a moron in charge of some of the smartest people on Earth.

So, I’m a liberal. Because in at the end of the day, progressive isn’t a bad word. It means you want progress. There isn’t much about the way things were or are that I want to conserve, so lets shake things up a bit, try something new, grow as a country and as a species.