Tuesday, January 01, 2019



The Left screeched doom over losing "net neutrality" -- but, like all their alarms, nothing happened when Trump ended it

by Jeff Jacoby

HERE'S A PIECE of news you may have missed: The internet is getting faster. The technology news website Recode reported this month that "US internet speeds rose nearly 40 percent this year," with broadband download velocity now averaging as much as 159 megabits per second in some cities. The United States currently ranks seventh worldwide in broadband internet speed. That's up from 12th a year ago.

Perhaps this strikes you as something less than a stop-the-presses revelation. The internet, after all, has been expanding and accelerating for the past 25 years. Why should 2018 have been any different?

Yet last year, when the Federal Communications Commission moved to repeal the Obama administration's "Net Neutrality" rule, much of the liberal establishment went berserk. Many in the media were sure the change would mean the "end of the internet as we know it." A lavish online campaign backed by dozens of organizations issued a "Red Alert," warning that if the FCC under Chairman Ajit Pai overturned the Obama regulations, it would "give the big cable companies control over what we see and do online" and "allow widespread throttling, blocking, censorship, and extra fees." A New York Times business journalist bewailed the coming demise of the internet — undoing net neutrality, he wrote, "would be the final pillow in its face." Other tech analysts were even more caustic. Nilay Patel, the editor of The Verge, proclaimed that with net neutrality gone, the internet was doomed. ("Doomed" wasn't the word he used.)

In the abstract, this was a legitimate topic for debate. "Net neutrality" is jargon for a policy under which internet service providers (ISPs) such as Comcast and Verizon are required to treat all data equally, making no distinction among online websites or the features they offer. Advocates warned that if net neutrality weren't mandated by the government, internet carriers would move data more slowly, exempting websites and apps only if they paid for preferential "fast lane" service. Or they would shift to a tiered subscription model, in which consumers seeking access to bandwidth gluttons like Netflix and YouTube would be charged more than consumers interested only in web browsing and email.

That argument was plausible in theory, but belied by history. Though the internet has existed since the early 1990s, it wasn't until 2015 that the FCC imposed its net-neutrality regulations. Did it do so because the big ISPs were throttling internet traffic? Hardly. In the more than two decades during which the internet functioned without net-neutrality regulations, there was scant evidence that rapacious corporations were strangling web traffic. On the contrary: As the FCC's own published data confirmed, between 2011 and 2015, internet speeds had been steadily rising.

In reality, the net neutrality rule was part of an even broader assertion of power by the Obama administration. By designating broadband providers as the legal equivalent of telephone companies — telecommunications common carriers — the FCC claimed sweeping authority to regulate them under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

That gave the agency a say in nearly every step taken by the broadband firms. "The FCC was empowered to decide if a network provider's products were good for consumers, and innovative new services were suddenly viewed with suspicion," explained Boston Globe technology reporter Hiawatha Bray. "For instance, the agency went after cellular companies for daring to offer free video and music streaming services. . . . Armed with Title II, [the FCC] could turn the Internet into something like the old Bell system telephone monopoly, famed for its near-total lack of technical innovation."

For supporting a rollback of the Obama-era "net neutrality" regulations, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was subjected to contemptible abuse. Pai was showered with racist insults and death threats, forcing him to cancel major public appearances.

So when the Trump administration last December voted to undo the net-neutrality rule, it was simply restoring the status quo ante. It was also acknowledging that the decision to arm an agency with significant new authority belongs to Congress, not to the agency's own bureaucrats.

That was a move with which reasonable people could disagree. But the reaction from countless critics was anything but reasonable.

NARAL howled that repealing net neutrality posed a "direct threat to reproductive freedom." GLAAD slammed it as "an attack on the LGBTQ community." The Root denounced it as an attempt to "silence black voices." Others decried the FCC vote as an assault that would "hurt rural America," "hurt students," "hurt religion," and "hurt the poor most of all."

Such wailing and teeth-gnashing paled next to the venom heaped on Ajit Pai. The FCC chairman was subjected to truly contemptible abuse. The FCC was showered with racist insults (Pai is Indian-American) and death threats — some of them serious enough to compel Pai to cancel major public appearances. Signs posted near his home invoked his young children by name, and charged that their "Dad murdered democracy in cold blood."

And now, a year later, it is clear that the fanaticism and fury of the net-neutrality campaign was not just unhinged, it was dead wrong. The web is as accessible as ever. Democracy has not been murdered. Broadband moves faster and faster. As with most predictions of gloom and doom, the digital alarmists should have been ignored. Twelve months after the net neutrality rule was spiked, the internet is doing just fine.

SOURCE 

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Withdrawing from Syria Implements the Trump Doctrine

That’s what it takes to actually win

“We need to be more unpredictable to adversaries," President Trump had declared.

In the spring of the year, he pounded Syria with air strikes after chemical weapons were used, obliterating Obama’s red line disgrace, and restoring American deterrence and credibility.

But the day before the strikes happened, he had tweeted, “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!”

Now, in the last wintry days of the year, he suddenly announced a pullout of American troops from Syria. But the move only took those by surprise who hadn’t been paying attention all along.

When our first major airstrikes began, Trump had warned, “America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria… under no circumstances.”

Politicians usually say things like that. But Trump remains unpredictable by actually saying what he means in a business where everyone assumes that you mean the opposite of what you say.

“I would not go into Syria, but if I did it would be by surprise and not blurted all over the media like fools,” Trump had tweeted five years ago.

Trump’s actions in Syria encompass his preference for flexibility, quick strikes or withdrawals with no long term commitment. And that’s exactly what frustrates a national security establishment whose watershed moment was still the post-war reconstruction of Germany and Japan. They foolishly misread Trump by confusing commitment with consistency, and unpredictability with inconsistency,

Our foreign policy, crafted by unimaginative diplomats, who despite their pretentions have nothing in common with the flashing wit of a Talleyrand or the cunning calculation of a Metternich, is based on creating trust by being utterly predictable. They’ve succeeded brilliantly at being utterly predictable. And they’ve failed at using this predictability as leverage to build a trustworthy international order.

Trump has brilliantly wielded his unpredictability to make America into a mobile piece on the world chessboard. America has the ability to rapidly deploy troops around the world and pull them out. But we were too bogged down in a swamp of our own ideological abstractions to make use of our capabilities.

Establishment thinking deploys American troops in the 21st century like British soldiers in the 19th. The deployments never end. Instead we set up little colonies of contractors, mercenaries, reporters, aid workers, and try to bring civilization to the savages at the cost of endless blood and treasure.

These outposts of a phantom imperial order of the new age of humanity become besieged fortresses, islands in a sea of savagery which we are obligated to defend, and they attract our enemies who immediately begin funneling money and weapons, turning the guerrillas we were fighting into an even bigger threat. These humanitarian empires end up being neither imperial nor humanitarian.

Trump understands that there’s no point in maintaining a doomed foreign colony of tens of thousands in Afghanistan, or setting one up in Syria. These colonies give meaning and purpose to their populations, experts, analysts, journalists, aid workers, who shape our foreign policy, but they don’t help America.

The Trump Doctrine rejects these nation building colonies. It wields American power as part of an enduring strategy to build up American power by establishing deterrence, strength and flexibility. Its emphasis is on inflicting rapid blows and moving on, of turning our problems into other people’s problems, and of extracting economic victories from the chaos of foreign policy strife.

It throws out the idea that America must maintain an international order at its own expense, without anyone else being willing to do their fair share or do anything meaningful to serve our own interests.

None of this is a surprise.

Trump has been very consistent in conveying this same message throughout the campaign. But a blinkered establishment refused to take him at his word and is now shocked that he really means it.

When he bombed Syria, they assumed that he had come around to their way of thinking. Instead Trump was implementing his way of thinking, punishing Assad, sending a message to Russia, and moving on.

Even Secretary of Defense Mattis had originally called the strikes on Syria, a “one-time shot.”

Trump had rejected nation building during the campaign and after taking office.  Just last December, he had introduced his national security strategy by warning that, “Our leaders engaged in nation-building abroad, while they failed to build up and replenish our nation at home.  They undercut and shortchanged our men and women in uniform with inadequate resources, unstable funding, and unclear missions.  They failed to insist that our often very wealthy allies pay their fair share for defense, putting a massive and unfair burden on the U.S. taxpayer and our great U.S. military.”

He had also noted that, “In Afghanistan, our troops are no longer undermined by artificial timelines, and we no longer tell our enemies of our plans.”

Last summer, Trump’s speech on Afghanistan had described a shift away from nation-building and the ridiculous timelines for withdrawal that had defined previous administrations. We would, Trump said, “shift from a time-based approach to one of condition". Instead of inflexible commitments, we would maintain flexible options, and respond to the situation, rather than following a fixed plan.

That’s what he’s doing.

We’re "not nation-building again,” he had declared. “We are killing terrorists.”

During the campaign, Trump had complained, “We’re nation-building, trying to tell people who have dictators or worse for centuries how to run their own countries.” He had made it clear that he might occasionally support short term interventions to solve “a problem going on in the world and you can solve the problem”, but not futile efforts to transform failed states into democracies.

Trump’s strategy has remained consistent. The only real question was not “if”, but “when”.

The establishment’s confusion is understandable. When George W. Bush ran for office, he fiercely condemned the nation-building exercises of the Clinton administration in Haiti and Somalia.

“I don’t think our troops ought to be used for what’s called nation-building,” Bush had declared.

But then he got sucked into the seductive idea that the best way to end Islamic terrorism would be to change the political conditions of the Muslim world. In the Bush era, nation-building was used to introduce democracy into anti-American Muslim dictatorships. In the Obama era, the democracy push was perverted into a means of overthrowing allied Muslim dictators and replacing them with Muslim Brotherhood regimes. And yet many establishment Republicans continued to support this policy.

Syria began as an extension of the Arab Spring. Most of the Senate Republicans who want us to stay there are the same people who voted for a pro-Iran resolution opposing the Saudi campaign in Yemen. They’re not pushing us to remain in Syria to stop Iran. And they couldn’t care less about the Kurds. They want Syria to be a repeat of Libya with American military force being used for Muslim Brotherhood nation-building. And that is not in our national interests and it’s not what Trump or Americans want.

Trump’s main critics on Syria continue lying to us and lying to themselves that Syria will turn into a free democratic and secular country. But Trump isn’t interested in living in their fantasy world.

The Trump Doctrine has clearly and consistently rejected nation-building and extended interventions. Trump has said that America is not the world’s policeman. And, unlike most politicians, he’s meant it.

But Trump also isn’t afraid to be unpredictable.

He can go back into Syria, just as he left Syria. That’s the whole point. Instead of turning American soldiers into permanent targets, protecting a population of contractors, aid workers and reporters, with young boys from Tennessee and North Dakota getting their legs blown off so that the New York Times can get a Pulitzer Prize photo and a charity org can get more donors, he’s using our military power as a foil instead of a broadsword, landing a series of quick blows and then, unexpectedly, moving on.

That’s radically different from the military strategy that has bogged us down for a century. It’s smart and brilliant in exactly the way that the foreign establishment thinks that it is, but actually isn’t.

The establishment assails Trump as “inconsistent”. It values consistency above all else because it has no strategies, only ideological commitments to abstract ideas that don’t survive places like Afghanistan.

The abstract ideas on which our nation-building is based are not strategies. They’re values. And too many administrations, Democrat and Republican, have built wishful thinking strategies around values. Ideas and values are expressions of belief. Strategies are flexible plans based on real opportunities.

The Trump Doctrine is consistent in the abstract. It’s flexible in its implementation. That’s what it takes to actually win against terrorists, guerrillas and cunning enemies that seize opportunities instead of upholding ideas. And the establishment’s failure to understand that is why we’ve spent decades losing.

SOURCE 

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Cowardly Deputy to blame for Parkland deaths

He should be dismissed and prosecuted for failing to do the job he was employed to do

The South Florida Sun Sentinel released a minute-by-minute rundown of the Parkland, Florida, shooting in “Unprepared and Overwhelmed.” The Sentinel acknowledged many teachers and police officers were “heroic,” but Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO) were hesitant and disorganized as a whole.

The shooting left 17 people dead.

“A gunman with an AR-15 fired the bullets, but a series of blunder, bad policies, sketchy training and poor leadership helped him succeed,” the Sentinel wrote.

There were three separate instances of school monitors failing to lock down the school and call for a Code Red, an indicator for people to hide in classrooms. A watchman spotted suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz on campus at 2:19 p.m., but no one called a Code Red until 2:24 p.m.

School monitor and baseball coach Andrew Medina — who was unarmed — first saw Cruz walk through the gates. Medina had previously referred to Cruz as “Crazy Boy” and even speculated he would someday shoot up the school, the Sentinel reported.

David Taylor was another school monitor who followed Cruz on the first floor before turning around at 2:21 p.m. Taylor told investigators he wanted to confront Cruz on the second floor of the building, but he hid in a janitor’s closet when the first shots were fired, according to the Sentinel.

There is also no record that monitor Aaron Feis called a Code Red, despite a ninth grader warning him about a person with a gun.

“You’d better get out of here,” Cruz allegedly told the freshman passing by. “Things are gonna start getting messy.”

The fire alarm added to the confusion, causing uninformed teachers and students to leave their classrooms unaware of the active shooter. Additionally, bathroom doors required a key to unlock — reportedly to prevent students from vaping in them — and one of the teachers accidentally locked his classroom door behind him.

The district also failed to follow through on classrooms having “hard corners,” or places to be out of sight, after security experts advised teachers to do so. Only two teachers in the building designated hard corners in their classrooms.

Deputy Scot Peterson, the school’s resource officer, was the only armed person on campus before reinforcements arrived. He failed to confront the shooter, according to the report. Peterson ordered the school to go on lockdown at 2:25 p.m., but did not order deputies to head toward the building. He also remained in a sheltered location for 48 minutes.

“Basically, what we’re trained to do is just get right to the threat as quick as possible and take out the threat because every time you hear a shot go off it could potentially be a kid getting killed or anybody getting killed for that matter,” neighboring Coral Springs Officer Raymond Kerner said, the Sentinel reported.

SOURCE 

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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1 comment:

David Drake said...

My "first read" of 2019, while I'm still in 2018. :)
Happy New Year to you and yours.