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The New Networking

"Network Neutrality" vs. "Internet Neutrality": A Special Exchange. Also: Toomey or not Toomey? The National Council of Churchless. Inversion aversion. Do fence them out. Plus much more.

5.23.06

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PARTISAN NEUTRALITY
Re: The Washington Prowler's "See No Evil" in Monday's Senate Wash posting:

Why do you place "Internet Neutrality" in quotes? Perhaps because you don't have a clue what it means?

Network neutrality (the more accurate term) is about ensuring that a small group of companies (SBC/AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, etc.) aren't allowed to control how the typical user uses the Internet connection for which he has already paid. The purpose of the supporters of network neutrality is to enshrine in law the de facto status quo of users (whether Microsoft or a single household) paying for their own connection to the Internet without SBC/AT&T, Verizon, or their local cable company forcing popular sites to pay them what amounts to protection money to ensure that connections which have already been paid for work properly. If I launch a new web service and pay for my own connection to the Internet, why should AT&T be allowed to bill me because their own paying customers choose to go to my site? This is what AT&T has made clear it wants to start doing and hence the push for network neutrality laws. Given the rumblings of major executives at SBC/AT&T and other ISPs it seems clear that these companies will soon use their position as ISPs to prevent competition from the likes of Skype by purposely degrading the performance of their service -- many think they are already doing this clandestinely. If network neutrality doesn't become law it will become much more expensive to provide popular services on the Internet once the ISPs get their dream of a tiered (i.e. controlled by them) Internet. The result will be that only very well financed ventures with high profit margins will have any hope of succeeding. When this happens say goodbye to the kind of innovation we've come to expect on the Internet.

It is beyond me how you can make a link between Islamofascists, Chinese repression, and network neutrality. This is absurd as arguing that everyone who opposes gun control is a white supremacist because white supremacists also oppose gun control. I despise Yahoo, Google, etc.'s collaboration with the Chinese government in the name of "obeying local laws" as much as the next guy, but this has absolutely nothing to do with network neutrality. Perhaps you should wonder why so many groups from across the political spectrum are lining up behind network neutrality (see www.savetheinternet.com). Specifically, in addition to understanding the best interests of their constituents, the Christian Coalition almost certainly also fears receiving a bill from AT&T to ensure that AT&T customers can continue to access the Christian Coalition's very popular website.

Even small-government conservatives like myself understand that all free markets require a degree of government protection to remain free. The problem is to minimize such protections and make them as simple and unbiased as possible. The principle of network neutrality is a perfect example of such a protection that government has an obligation to enshrine in law as soon as possible. Once network neutrality is lost and a tiered Internet is reality it will be impossible to turn back the clock.
-- Thomas Phelan
Hightstown, New Jersey

The Washington Prowler replies:
Mr. Phelan appears to be falling for some of the story lines that the behemoths like Google (larger market capitalization than AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable combined) and Microsoft (destroyer of Netscape and tens of other smaller companies) have put out. It's akin to the Democrats' scare tactics about Social Security.

No one is talking about blocking any sites, let alone sites like the Christian Coalition. Perhaps Mr. Phelan should be paying more attention to the kind of blocking that Google is doing to conservatives. Such actions are not included in the "Net Neutrality" legislation in the Senate, and it's not clear that it would be enforceable under Rep. Ed "Moshpit" Markey's amendment in the House.

The reason we put "Net Neutrality" in quotes is that it's a solution in search of a problem that does not now exist. There was one example of a service provider blocking Vonage down in North Carolina last year. That problem was resolved by the Federal Communications Commission. So right now, we have legislators trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist with ambiguous policies that won't solve the problem they think they want to solve. Confusing? You bet.

Consumers do pay for Internet access today. They have many choices to choose from. They can use dialup, pay a bit more for DSL (most services are now under $20 a month) or sign up with higher speed cable modem or fiber networks that move upwards of 10 megabits per second (Verizon has a service available in some parts of the country that moves at speeds in excess of 25 megabits). Consumers pay for that access, and pay for the speeds they use.

The network operators have stated clearly that they will not charge consumers extra fees for access to what most people consider the "Internet" -- that space where Google resides and all of the inter-connected websites and networks that form the "Internet" reside.

But the networks have said they would like to be able to offer new services and products to consumers over their broadband networks, which are to some degree separate from the "Internet." In the case of AT&T, Verizon, Bell South and Qwest, they have all announced plans to offer TV services to compete against cable. AT&T and Verizon are developing online game sites. These services are not part of the "Internet," but rather their own networks. The companies provide customers with a level of performance and security that the "Internet" simply can't provide. This is important for things like streaming video and the music downloads.

The question that Congress is now considering in the "Net Neutrality" debate is this: If AT&T built a network and invested billions of dollars to do it, should it be allowed to compete against the likes of Google and Microsoft and eBay? On some levels, this is almost a property rights issue. The telecoms and cable companies have built these superfast roadways for people to get to the Internet. They have invested upwards of $50 billion (perhaps more) to do so. They think that besides Internet access, they should be able to offer other stuff on their networks -- which just happen to also provide access to the Internet.

True "Internet Neutrality" doesn't and can't exist. For example: on eBay, say Mr. Phelan wants to sell his 20-year collection of American Spectator magazines. He can pay a small fee to eBay to post his item. Or, to gain an advantage over other sellers of magazine memorabilia, he can pay a fee of more than $30 to be given priority and placement above other sellers.

Is that fair? Is that "neutral"? Of course it isn't. But that is the way eBay makes its money and its return on investment on a pretty good service that millions of people like. What's wrong with that? Nothing.

Mr. Phelan is right about one thing. Proponents of "Net Neutrality" do want to lock in the status quo. The problem is the status quo -- at least when it comes to the Internet and broadband service -- is slow and unreliable and can't handle all of the multimedia applications that are driving broadband deployment nowadays. If Mr. Phelan likes 1.5 megabit broadband, then he's more than welcome to pay for that service. But a lot of us would prefer the superfast speeds that are being deployed.

TOOMEY OR NOT TOOMEY?
Re: David Holman's Toomey Defeats Specter:

I read a lot of the pre-election coverage of the Pennsylvania elections, especially in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (staunchly conservative and even sometimes libertarian) and occasionally the Pittsburgh Putz-Gazette (self-ordained as "One of America's Great Newspapers," and predictably, socialist in tenor). In contrast to the ravings of Chris Lilik (Chairman of the Young Conservatives of Pennsylvania), I can't recall a single mention of Pat Toomey having had a significant impact on the election.

Could I have been so careless a reader?

I may be wrong, and I'm no professional political analyst, but it seems to me that, if the central part of the state is anything like the southwest (from which regions emanated all or most of the damage to incumbents), the results of the election were driven by relentless pressure from the likes of the Trib. I doubt that a day has gone by since the July "pay-jacking" that they haven't made an issue of it. That's quite a streak, especially in Allegheny County, where machine Democratic politics have reigned for generations, with only a relatively recent hiccup or two.

The Trib has been a great friend of Mr. Toomey, but have they highlighted his role in the recent election? I missed it, if so. Certainly, Mr. Toomey had no effect in sending packing Democrat Ken Ruffing here in the 38th Legislative District at the hands of PA Clean Sweep's candidate Bill Kortz (Pennsylvania has a closed primary).

As an aside, to quote the deposed Mr. Jubilirer as a "commentator" rather than a principal is weak. Of course he wants to blame national issues for his debacle! He enumerated "the war and gas prices to immigration," among the "everything" responsible for his demise. A more objective commentator might have noted such specific examples of "everything" as the spectacularly bloated size of our legislature and their major league pay and perks (think Yankees or Red Sox); legislative and executive connivance with the state Supreme Court; the flagrant flouting of the state Constitution in the dead of night without debate, and the sheer magnitude of the rape, with raises from 16% to 54% for our illuminati. A more cynical objective commentator might have mentioned his arrogance and haste to be pals with Democratic godfather and governor "Fast Eddie" Rendell at taxpayer expense.

Whether the election was a rebuke to Senator "Scottish Law" [Specter] or not, what's the difference other than to provide a logical link to mention Mr. Toomey? He defeated Mr. Toomey in the primary two years ago with the hearty support of Senator Santorum and one G.W. Bush, and is again safely ensconced as the Republicrat from Pennsylvania to wreak yet more havoc upon conservative initiatives. I strongly doubt that the senior Senator from Pennsylvania gives a tinker's damn about the election fiasco, other than some concern about the November fate of his Philadelphia compadre, "Fast Eddie," for another term as governor...

Don't get me wrong. I was a Pat Toomey fan in the last election, and may be again. I'm suspicious of the whole "Club for Growth" thing, though, and note that his endorsements were issued only as an individual rather than as its president. To his credit, he deflected accolades for his role in the upheaval last Tuesday. I see him in a tough role, getting powerful in Washington while struggling to maintain his appeal to Pennsylvania's precious few conservatives.

To put a point on it, I don't think the election results reflect on more than state politics. If they did, Senator Santorum would be in the catbird seat, and he isn't. Mr. Toomey would like to be sent to Washington in 2010. Mr. Holman has written a nice piece in furtherance of that end, but, from here inside the storm, it rings as bandwagon jumping after hiding out in the tall grass during the fight.

Let us see how prominent may be Mr. Toomey and the Club for Growth between now and November. There remains a huge battle to be fought, with gains for conservative principles available on both sides of the aisle. I shall be watching closely, now that the issue has been raised. I may even subscribe to the Putz-Gazette daily, but I can't promise that I'll be able to bear reading it that much.

Maybe someone with Lexis/Nexis access will prove me wrong about Mr. Toomey's perceived low profile in the primary election battles. I'm willing to be shown the error of my perceptions and conclusions. It's been ten months since the pay-jacking and I haven't kept notes. All I can swear to is the steady drumbeat from theTrib, and a perception that it has empowered those fed up with Harrisburg as usual and lit a fire under us.
-- Mark Fallert
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

David Holman replies:
Mr. Fallert is correct -- "commentator" was the wrong word choice.

My article was not meant to be an exhaustive or scientific study about the causes of last Tuesday's election results or Pat Toomey's role in them. I noted the pay raise in this article, and have written about it previously. What role did Toomey play in these results? I can safely write that it was substantial, and behind the scenes in such a way that a Lexis/Nexis search will not reveal. Was he decisive? Probably not. But the point is that the issues of the Toomey-Specter race are still alive and well, and maybe even breaking Toomey's way. They both endorsed candidates. Specter's candidates lost; most of Toomey's won. All in all, though, I would say that the Trib's pay raise anger "perception" held pretty true last week, which Mr. Fallert's fifth paragraph seems to confirm.

NO BIG DA VINCI
Re: Mark Tooley's Code Turkey:

Congratulations to Mark. The plentiful quotes give the piece a feeling of solidity. The criticism is restrained, to let the quote speak for themselves.

Does it matter to the NCC that that movie undermines the divinity of Jesus, but also any monotheistic religion? Without those two pillars, what moral authority does the NCC claim?
-- M. Novak

Some years ago in a marvelously funny book by Kurt Vonnegut called Cat's Cradle, a recurring image in the text was of someone forming the string device known as a cat's cradle. After displaying the thing, the words "No damn cat, no damn cradle" were usually said. I could not help but think of this book when I read about the NCC in Mr. Tooley's piece. The connection is obvious. The NCC: No ---- Christianity, No ---- Jesus. Hey, NCC, it is FICTION, and FICTION is MADE UP! I read this book years ago before the hoopla began, and recognized it for what it is -- a moderately engaging story with fantastical overtones, decently written, but nothing for which to awaken memories of real novelists, Faulkner, O'Hara, Hemingway, etc. It is a preposterous story strung together with rumor, innuendo, traditional tales, and supposition.

What I can't figure out is: Why are so many people so up in arms about it? It is a 100-average bowler, a .225-hitting outfielder, a 40-percent foul shooter. I suppose if we don't have greatness to celebrate, we have to celebrate its absence. Madonna, take heed.
-- Joseph Baum
Garrettsville, Ohio

As usual, when something such as The Da Vinci Code is released in any media, those who desire to tear down Christianity and the divinity of Christ Jesus swarm.

Thing is, as is being shown with this latest brouhaha, more counter-dialogue is fostered about what Christianity really is, who and what Jesus is and was and His message to the world.

And just as the princes of the world thought they were rid of Jesus when they crucified Him, so Christ's detractors and deconstructors today will think they've scored one more point against Him and Christianity -- and returned both to a grave that cannot, will not hold them.

But these detractors/deconstructors could not be further from the truth. Once again, the Christ is the topic of conversation. And His real church -- regardless of size, location or by what name its Christians are called -- only grows stronger.

BTW: "The typical American Protestant"? Most likely a non-denominational man or woman. And, respectfully, not in those mega-churches of which you speak but in small hundreds-sized assemblies all across our country.

BTW2: Evangelicals? Please, please, please find some other non-pejorative way to describe those Christians that hold different theological and/or doctrinal views than those affiliated with the National Council of Churches, for example. Jesus called all real Christians to evangelize.
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

NO SEXUAL MORALITY
Re: Yale Kramer's letter ("Is Original Sin Sexual?") in Reader Mail's Paradise Lust, the "Forbidden Fruit" letters in Reader Mail's Bush Out-Foxed and Yale Kramer's Paradise Regained:

So suddenly Yale Kramer is an expert on the Bible!

Leaving aside his misspelling of "bare for bear" when referring to the birth of Cain he should have checked with real Biblical authorities before making pronouncements on a "Tree of (sexual) Knowledge." You know, like the experts from the people who brought you the Bible. They've got thousands of years of up close and personal information derived from it.

Jewish tradition has it that after the creation of Man, Adam, originally created as a hermaphrodite, went around naming the animals. He also saw all the animals having sex with their own kind so he tried to join in. But his fit was wrong (sorry, Brokeback Mountain sheepherders) so he implored God to give him a partner and was divided into Man and Woman. That is why we still refer to husbands and wives as our "other halves."

So much for the sexual part. Sex was innocent, pure and natural in the Garden of Eden. Man was debased with the eating of the forbidden fruit. Sex and its connotations have been debased since that time. Sexual morality has been an attempt by Man to spiritually elevate sex from its baseness. Unsuccessfully.

Yale is barking up the wrong tree!
-- Wolf Terner
Fair Lawn, New Jersey

ALL TOO REAL
Re: Hal G.P. Colebatch's The British Inversion:

During the mid to late 19th and early 20th centuries English society was the blueprint for many satirical or draconian novels about the demise of humanity. By whatever mechanism humanity falls, some form of totalitarian government takes over as a result. This usually follows a period of protracted anarchy and breakdown of social norms. A 100 to 150 years ago this was simply a work of fiction; today it simply forms the forward in a novel taken from current events.

I don't know if England is the forerunner for the demise of Western society but it seems to be right up there with France in "surrendering" every traditional value system that has made Western society the jewel of what most Free people look to as an example of what can be accomplished without the more usual bloodshed so common in the third world. I'm sure the English people pride themselves on being "civilized" or "refined" but other words come to mind when I see the bulk of a society tolerating such absurdities as are becoming more common with its political correctness run amok. I'm not sure which is worse, a society that will not defend itself, both figuratively and literally or the common criminals that run England today? Taken together, this can not be a sign of good things to come.

Many in our country pride our selves in having a Constitutional republic with an embedded Bill of Rights, something that English society does not have. I challenge anyone to demonstrate the practical differences between English law and ours at this point? There isn't one of the original ten amendments actually enforced to even the spirit of the law let alone the letter of the law as understood when they were inserted into our Constitution. Words on a piece of paper are mightier than the sword only when backed up by 10,000 swords at the ready it seems. England has no such tradition and all the "words" that have been put to paper over the last thousand years are relics in museums today. Unbounded democracy is what you have in England, "tyranny of the majority" as Madison called democracies. Words from the past mean nothing, only power matters today.

If we are to not follow England's demise, words had better mean the same thing from one day to the next, one decade to the next, one century to the next. If we continue to pay lip service to the enumerated rights, they will carry the same weight here as they do in England. No one can predict how far English society will fall or if it can dig itself out of the current mess it has created. One thing is certain, it can get a lot worse and the fictional novels of the past might start to look more like prophecy than satirical commentary of their times.

If the Framers of our republican form of government, be they the Federalists or Anti-Federalists view point, had been confronted by the absurdities you see in England today, the would be enforcers of said absurdity would have been buried at sunset with a copy of the Bill of Rights nailed to their coffins. It might not have ended there but a clear statement would have been made by those to whom self sacrifice and hardship was no stranger. The Framers fought a long drawn out civil war to be free of this type of tyranny. There are far worse things in life than being slighted by someone calling you a "dyke." People don't generally take up arms in mass over name calling. They do when arrogant and elitist power brokers start wielding power simply because they can. The bulk of the American people had better open their eyes to what is happening in the European theater. There are a lot of similar moves going on here that will not be well received by people whose traditions are still held near and dear to them. The battles can be fought in the public arena where people don't die as a result of being called a bad name or they can be fought on the traditional battlefields where name-calling is best of outcomes. Even sheep are prone to stampede over a few wolves from time to time....
-- Thom Bateman
Newport News, Virginia

America has its own "inversion." Try importing an automobile which does not happen to meet the pollution and/or safety standards of the year it was built. It has been said that it is easier to smuggle drugs into the United States than a 30 year old BMW... and the penalties are far less. Then again, maybe the EPA should run the counter-narcotics program.
-- Name Withheld

OURSELVES TO BLAME
Re: unsigned letter (under "Mexican Fencing") in Reader Mail's Paradise Lust:

Certainly "unsigned" has a real "sense o' Yuma," having lived there for 27 years, but one wonders how much action he and other residents who have seen their city deteriorating over the past twenty years have taken. Poor "unsigned," for reasons known best to him, declines to identify himself. It must be painful to have such a strongly held view and be unwilling to claim it as your own.

How did the citizens of Yuma allow their city to be "taken over?" How long did it take? Or was it always predominantly Mexican and they never noticed until now? Good old, reliable American Apathy has played a role in this mess. Only now that it has become a hot button issue is everyone acutely aware of a situation that has been with us for years. But just try to organize a march of average Americans in the numbers you saw May 1. You will be embarrassed by the turnout.

And they are smuggling criminals and drugs into our country! As though we didn't already have enough home grown criminals. We have thousands (millions?) of illegal alien criminals in our jails. Why can't they be delivered to Presidente Vicente Fox's doorstep? When I lived in Oceanside, Calif., the warning to Marines was don't ever get yourself in trouble in Tijuana -- you'll wind up in a hell-hole of a jail and never see the light of day again. Are hell-holes not good enough for the illegal criminals (that's a good one - illegal criminal!) we warehouse?

Isn't it purely amazing that drugs are being brought into this country when the drug smugglers have no assurance they can ever find a buyer? When you read about a cocaine drug bust and the $$ value is quoted, it is stunning to think that, had it not been confiscated there would be a ready market right here in the U.S. for all that dope. Is it possible that some of our problems are not with illegal criminal activity, but with our very own born-in-the-USA citizens?

I lived in Santa Barbara twenty-five years ago and a resort hotel there was staffed -- in housekeeping, restaurant and gardening -- almost entirely by Mexicans. INS would regularly round them up, shuttle them off in buses and they would be back within a week. And their jobs were waiting for them. When a government agency is hauling in the same people over and over, somebody is not very serious about the job he is doing -- just makin' it around the clock, so to speak. We had a friend employed in management and he said the hotel was never fined. It would be my guess that they still are not.

I read an article last week in the San Francisco Examiner. A study of population figures indicates that California would have zero population growth were it not for the Mexican birth rate. But then it intoned, "But is zero population growth what we want?" Well, why not? It would give us a little breathing room. Of course, the deep thinker who wrote the piece had no answer.

When problems have no solution, they are no longer problems, but rather facts of life. This problem has a solution, but it is one politicians are unwilling to take a stand on. And when they don't, "unsigned" and a lot like him will vote a new bunch into office who will not, either. I'm not saying it doesn't need solving. I just have no faith in our elected officials. Think Hillary Clinton. Think John McCain. How about Bill Richardson? Look at the various governors of border states. None agree on the use of National Guard or much else, when it comes to it. Politics will be the downfall of this country.

But if American (read Caucasian) couples limit their families to two children (or in many cases, none) for reasons of limited income or simply because they don't want a lot of kids underfoot while others have 5, 6 or 7 children -- well, do the math. We are destined to become a minority, by our own life choices. Besides, we couldn't out-breed 'em if we tried! So, we will support someone else's children -- but at least they won't be underfoot.

Do we have any statistics on the number of Americans who take their retirement income and run for the border to live in Mexico in order to avoid U.S. taxes, enjoy a higher standard of living in their retirement years and have a houseful of domestic help, whom they pay virtually nothing compared to U.S. standards? I know a few and I think it is pretty tacky to be paid your retirement in this country and spend it in another, pumping up their economy.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

A FENCE UPGRADE
Re: "Mexican Fencing" letters in Reader Mail's Paradise Lust:

Has anyone noticed that, in the many photographs of the existing Mexican fences, they are all built with the corrugation parallel to the ground? Kind of makes them slippery step-ladders which only requires one to get a handhold at the top to defeat their purpose. Perhaps we should take lessons from the Israelis -- now there is a fence which does something.

Now I see that in the proposed legislation, employers will be exempted from prosecution or punishment if they employ illegal aliens who later gain this farcical non-amnesty.

For me, one thing is for certain. With all the idiotic nonsense going on in Congress, my wife and I will vote for no incumbent -- from dog catcher to president -- nor will we vote for any candidate backed by an incumbent. We have had enough and, while there is little we can do about it, we can protest in our own feeble way. Staying away from the polls is not an option.

George Wallace had it right when, in speaking about political parties, he said: "there ain't a dime's worth of difference between them."

May God bless America and in so doing help us out this vile morass.
-- C.D. Lueders
Melbourne, Florida

ON THE LINE
Re: Ben Stein's Greetings From Rancho Mirage:

I am sure that the number of e-mails that you receive are outrageous in comparison to what shows in my "inbox" but what you wrote has proven that all that we do is not forgotten. I have been in the military for a number of years and still truly believe that we do what we do for the right cause. We fight and die for the people of our nation and will willingly lay our life on the line any giving day so that our people may live and prosper. We are not in it for the money or the fame but more of the satisfaction of knowing that in the end we have made a difference. Time away from our families can be extremely tolling and arduous, taxing, and yet worth repeating. What most people fail to realize is what we put on the line for them... yes, our lives but what's more precious our families, love, trust, quiet time, reading books to our children, sharing in gladness and fears, coaxing those who are worse off than ourselves. We do this so that our children and grandchildren may live in a place that money can not buy. Safe, secure, and unknowingly open to opportunity. A life without the worries that we endure everyday. Threats minimized and capable of spending the time we've lost with them in the same manner in which we wish we could have spent with our own children. But nothing comes without cost, only some of us are willing to pay the price.

Your support to our cause will never go unnoticed.
-- SSG David Chevalier
OIF III
Bronze Star recipient

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