Washington Prowler

Obama Bytes

The administration makes its move against Internet freedom. Plus: Hillary's Albany shuttle.

By 9.21.09

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SO LONG, FREEDOM
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski will announce today his intent to put in place rules that would allow the federal government to regulate the Internet. In a coordinated move to highlight the decision, and to take credit with the left-wing supporters of the policy, known as "net neutrality," FCC sources say, President Obama will make remarks after Genachowski's remarks, endorsing the FCC chairman's decision.

"We couldn't give them a Guantanamo shut down, or ending the Patriot Act, so this is the immediate payoff to MoveOn and Free Press and the those guys who worked so hard for us during the campaign," says a White House source. "Getting 'net neutrality' codified and under out control was at the top of their list of things for us to do."

Genachowski will outline the rules for net regulation at a speech at the Brookings Institution this morning. Not only will he announce that the federal government will regulate how citizens' online activity is managed by Internet service providers like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, he will also announce that for the first time the federal government will actively monitor how citizens' wireless Internet access is managed.

"For them to say that this isn't government regulation, that this is just about fairness and giving everyone the same thing, is just not true," says a Republican Energy and Commerce staffer, who has been working on the issue of "net neutrality" for several years. "Someone has to be monitoring all those networks, all that activity to make sure the networks remain 'neutral.' Who is that going to be? Free Press? George Soros?"

In fact, a representative of the left-wing organization known as Free Press will be present at the Genachowski speech. Free Press, which continues to stand by former White House Obama adviser Van Jones, who served its board, shares its roots with the MoveOn organization, and has received funds from George Soros and funds from senior Google executives, actually wrote large portions of the Markey-Eshoo net neutrality bill, which was introduced in Congress just before the summer recess in August. "Free Press got caught red-handed, when they put the bill up on their website and time stamp on the copy indicated they'd received it long before most people knew the bill was being introduced," says the House committee source.

While left-wing advocates claim that "net neutrality" is nothing more than a policy that ensures that broadband network operators can't take advantage of the networks they operate by offering different services to their customers, like a special movie streaming service or a unique online video chat service, without providing the same deals to every other video streaming company or online chat company.

"It's a difficult concept for regular folks to get because it's a technical issue that sounds harmless," says a Federal Communications Commissions staffer. "'Neutrality' sounds like something harmless, but what people need to understand is that if they are afraid of what would happen to their health care if Obamacare was passed, they should be downright horrified about what would happen to their Internet if Obama's 'net neutrality' were passed. It will create traffic jams online, make it harder for folks to watch streaming videos without delays and glitches, and spam and online threats will be more common."

White House sources say imposing the Internet regulations has been in the works for months, and a coordinated effort with Democrats on Capitol Hill and with the outside groups they have been holding discussions with, such as Free Press, MoveOn, scholars at the Center for American Progress, and corporate friends, such as Google.

"We let Markey introduce his Internet bill first, in part, because it was just so extreme that it made what Julius is proposing seem downright reasonable," says a White House legislative aide. "But in the end, either approach gets us to where our friends wanted us to be, but we get to do it without a public or ugly fight. The hope is that the federal regulatory process isn't going to engender the same kind of emotion that, say, a tax or health care debate might."

ALBANY OR BUST
Some Democrats in New York and Washington are wondering, now that the Obama Administration has gone public with its desire for New York Gov. David Paterson not to seek a full term, whether Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is really the candidate Obama wants. This, even though polls show that while prospective Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani would trounce Paterson statewide, they have him losing in a much closer race against Cuomo.

Meanwhile, these Democrats are also wondering if this distancing from Paterson creates an opening sufficient enough for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to walk away from Foggy Bottom to make a run at a position that would set her up for future national campaigns.

Clinton had not closed down either her Senate or Presidential campaign funds, and, according to sources, has kept upwards of eight full-time staffers on board, a high number of employees to continue Federal Election Commission filings for the 2008 primary cycle.

Clinton advisers have also made clear her unhappiness in her State role, where it appears she has been locked out of major international negotiations, and instead been made nothing more than a global ambassador without portfolio.

Some polling companies, such as Rasmussen, continue to poll Clinton's national appeal, and those numbers have risen over the past six months.

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