by Matt Stoller, Mon Dec 04, 2006 at 10:24:51 AM EST
There are many ways to neuter people-power, and the reactionary corporate barons are trying them all. There's the perpetual and dishonest smear campaign against Pelosi, there's the massive expansion of Democratic lobbying shops underway, and I'm sure there will be an attempted Democratic K-Street project of some sort. But one of the most interesting cries you may start hearing is that of 'state's rights', or rather, the desire for states to handle matters traditionally managed at the Federal level. This is because corporate money goes further in states than it does in a Democratic Congress, so that's where corporate lobbying is moving.
For instance, rather than wanting to face the new Energy and Commerce Committee Chair John Dingell, Verizon and company are trying to push to get state franchising laws in place that do not include net neutrality protections. Last cycle, these companies worried that the process for passing Federal laws was too slow, and now they are trying to block Federal legislation so that they can get what they want at the state level.
Usually these companies try to get a bill passed in a state, and it doesn't protect net neutrality and it allows them to only serve certain communities with cable while bypassing others. This is the case in Michigan, where the telcos are trying to design their futuristic bad-service-for-some/no-service-for-many network. Savetheinternet.com was there to protest, the state Senate looks like it's going to have an important vote tomorrow.
Tuesday, a mix of Michigan consumers and diverse special interest groups held a rally at the state house in Lansing to protest a pending state law, the "Michigan Video Franchising Bill," which would allow phone companies to bypass cities and counties for TV service approval. The state's lower chamber passed the legislation last week, and the State of California passed similar legislation in October.
But opponents, including Google and consumer groups, say the bill will allow telecoms to sidestep consumer protections, cherry-pick which communities get high-speed broadband and video services, and ignore principles of "Net Neutrality" (which require Internet service providers to offer equal access to all Internet sites).
I'm going to have more soon about the immediate counterstrike against the recent populist elections. For now, if you live in Michigan, use this nifty tool to call your state Senator.
And get ready to be really mad at the FCC and Kevin Martin. These are some seriously bad people, and now that we won an election, we have some tools to make them face the music.