Remember When Net Neutrality Wasn’t About Regulating the Internet? Seems the President Didn’t Get That Memo.

Free Press finally comes clean, hailing the following statement in support of Net Neutrality and regulating the Internet from President Barack Obama:

The one good piece of news coming out of this [Net Neutrality] court opinion was that the court did confirm that the FCC can regulate this space. They have authority,” Obama said. (Emphasis added)

Remember when Free Press and their confiscation-loving friends (including now FCC official, Gigi Sohn) assured us that Net Neutrality wasn’t about regulating the Internet; that it was us, free market-loving individuals, who were somehow mistaken about Uncle Sam’s clearly benevolent intentions to “protect” the Internet?

Well, if you don’t remember, here’re some choice quotes from an old piece I wrote a couple years back to remind you:

  • [Then] Public Knowledge’s Gigi Sohn: “The commission is in no way regulating the Internet. It was merely attempting to return to a modest level of traditional authority needed to safeguard the rights of Internet users. “
  • Free Press’ Derek Turner: “…Contrary to what AT&T says, the FCC is not proposing to regulate the Internet and in fact has specifically disavowed the possibility…”
  • [Then] Representative Ed Markey: “Net neutrality is not about government regulation of the Internet. It’s about fair rules of the road for the companies that now control access.”
  • [Then] Public Knowledge’s Art Brodsky: “…The most fundamental misunderstanding, of course, is that the FCC wants to take over the Internet. It doesn’t. The talking point, while appropriately inflammatory for the target audience, is simply wrong. There is no ‘takeover’ of the Internet. A ‘takeover’ raises the spectre of government control of content, directing which companies, sites and services can operate and which can’t. Nothing like that is even remotely happening, and it is irresponsible to suggest that it is. It’s just the opposite…”
  • Free Press’ Tim Karr: …[Speaker of the House John Boehner] knows full well that real Net Neutrality has nothing to do with a government takeover of the Internet. He’s playing dog-whistle politics and stoking irrational fears of government repression…

They might all intone:  “Who ya’ gonna’ believe?  Me, or your lyin’ eyes?”

Umm, the eyes have it.

Media Freedom

Made to Order: Canada’s highest civilian honour overseen by a left-wing club

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Late on Friday afternoon, Conrad Black was kicked out of the Order of Canada.

Since its inception, 6,259 people have been given the Order of Canada. But only six have ever been stripped of it, including Black. Why?

The reason given is that Black was convicted in the U.S. of fraud, though he denies his guilt to this day.

But is being convicted of a crime reason enough to strip a man of his title and demand the return of his medal?

The Order of Canada has had other criminals amongst its ranks. This was a political decision.

Black’s conservative politics simply don’t fit in with the left-wing club that makes the Order of Canada decisions.

The Order of Canada was given to Henry Morgentaler, a criminal who served time in jail after a conviction upheld by the Supreme Court itself. So a criminal record can’t be the thing.

The late David Ahenakew, former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, was stripped of his Order of Canada too, after he was charged with a crime. But Ahenakew’s conviction was overturned, and he was acquitted in a second trial too.

So we know that a crime isn’t enough to keep you out of the Order of Canada. And we know being acquitted of a crime isn’t enough to keep you in.

The rule is simple: It’s whatever the committee says it is.

Who do you think hands out Canada’s highest civilian honour? Is it chosen by a panel of experts, like the Nobel Prize for Chemistry is?

Or is it voted on by Parliament?

No. It’s chosen by an intensely political committee in secret meetings closed to the public. Some of the people on the committee are chosen automatically because of their political position – like the deputy minister of Canadian Heritage.

But five people on the committee are chosen by the rest of the committee. As in, it’s a closed system.

You can’t join the committee unless someone already on the committee invites you. The prime minister himself can’t even appoint someone.

All Order of Canada members are listed on the governor general’s website. There are 3,243 who are still alive. Browsing the list is an eye-opener.

Alberta has 4 million citizens. So you’d expect that

371 award recipients would be Albertans. But the snob committee has awarded Alberta barely half that over the years, just 218. Saskatchewan is short-changed too, almost as badly. So is B.C. Of course they are. Because this is an Ottawa insiders club.

Just for fun, search Fort McMurray – a booming city of 105,000 at the centre of the oilsands boom.

According to the United Way, it is the most generous city in Canada, just the kind of people the Order of Canada says it’s about. Not one name. Red Deer has 152,000 people. Two names.

If this were random, there’d be 24 recipients in these two cities. But to the Ottawa snobs, they’re just NOKD, “not our kind, dear.”

Oh, but Fort McMurray isn’t completely ignored.

Neil Young, the anti-oilsands campaigner who has lived in California for 40 years, received an award.

And last summer, Jodi White, the chairman of the Canadian branch of the Tides Foundation – the San Francisco-based lobby group pouring millions of dollars in to attack the oilsands – received one too.

Of course they did.

This column was written for Sun News February 3 2014.

Ezra Levant

Liberal senators may be kicked out, but they’re not staying out

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Why didn’t the 32 senators kicked out of the Liberal Party caucus by Justin Trudeau stay kicked out?
Why didn’t they embrace their newfound independence – to be free from party discipline? What politician-for-life wouldn’t prefer to have no boss, to be free to say whatever they want, do whatever they want, go wherever they want?

Why did the Liberal senators immediately reconstitute themselves as the “Senate Liberals,” and even re-elect the same Senate whip?

As with most questions about the Liberal Party, the answer lies in following the money.

See, there are some independent parliamentarians. Like Elizabeth May, the sole Green Party MP. She has a salary and an MP’s office budget. But unlike official parties in Parliament, she doesn’t get extra money for communications staff, research staff and extra pay for extra titles, like for being a party leader.

Those cash perks are only for official parties. So the 32 Liberal senators had a choice: Embrace their independence or embrace taxpayers’ money. Needless to say, they made their decision in a matter of minutes.

That was the very first thing the Senate Liberals did. But they did more, too. The very next morning at 9 a.m., a special committee of Senate insiders met. It’s called the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration. It’s the group of senators -both Tories and Liberals – who handle all of the Senate’s financial matters. They’re the ones who hand out those extra budgets. They’re also the ones who approve the travel and housing expenses that have been in the news so much lately.

So what was their meeting about, less than 24 hours after Trudeau relieved them of their caucus duties?

They no longer had to attend Trudeau’s weekly caucus meetings, usually in Ottawa but often held around the country. They were no longer on Trudeau’s policy team, needing to hire researchers for that.

They were no longer Trudeau’s political point-men for different provinces, with the concomitant travel and staff. (With his senators gone, Trudeau’s Liberal caucus now has a grand total of four MPs covering the 10 million souls in B.C., Alberta. Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the three northern territories.) So, what did the Liberals ask for at this special Senate committee meeting at 9 a.m.?

They asked for more money, of course.

And they got it. Because the senators on the committee just voted to give it to them – over the objection of four Conservatives.

Here’s what Sen. Liberal Joan Fraser said, before voting for more cash: “It has already, less than 24 hours later, become very apparent… that our workload, that our requirements will not diminish. They will increase.”

Huh? They were just released from weekly meetings and any party policy development. The Senate itself sits for just 70 days a year. But they need more money?

Fraser, with most of the rest of them, voted to give a ,700 raise to her Liberal friend, Sen. Jim Munson, for his budget as party whip.

“I would suggest that, in fact, we should get more money than is proposed here, but I shall not make that argument, chair. I will, however, point out that in the real world, we’re going to need every resource that we can possibly have to do our job as senators,” Fraser said.

It’s so easy to vote yourself more of taxpayer money, isn’t it?

Fraser scratched Munson’s back as Senate Liberal whip. And now she wanted her back scratched, too, as deputy leader of the Senate Liberals: “The whips deserve every penny they get. My budget as deputy leader of the opposition is only ,500. That might go on the agenda for future considerations.”

Why does a rump party of 32 Liberal senators, rejected by Justin Trudeau, need a Senate leader, a Senate whip, a Senate chair and a senate deputy leader? And why do they need raises – after their duties have been greatly reduced?

Because, if there was ever any doubt, the most dangerous place in the world is between a Liberal and a pile of taxpayer money.

This column was written for Sun News February 2 2014.

Ezra Levant

Timor-Leste’s Max Stahl – documenting the audiovisual and development ‘war’

Filmmaker and digital historian Max Stahl with an image from his 1991 Santa Cruz
massacre footage in Timor-Leste. Photo: David Robie

By David Robie

A YEAR after Indonesian troops killed more than 270 peaceful demonstrators at the cemetery of Santa Cruz in the Timor-Leste capital of Dili in 1991, news footage secretly shot by a cameraman surfaced in a powerful new film.

The Yorkshire
Café Pacific – David Robie | Media freedom and transparency

Nuclear Savage filmmaker accuses media of cover-up of impact of US nuclear weapons testing on Pacific people

“The bomb will not start a chain reaction in the water, converting it all to gas and letting all the ships on all the oceans drop down to the bottom. It will not blow out the bottom of the sea and let all the water run down the hole. It will not destroy gravity. I am not an atomic playboy.”

– Vice Admiral William P. Blandy, Bikini bomb test commander, 25 July 1946 

WHEN the military
Café Pacific – David Robie | Media freedom and transparency

Video: Randy May and Scott Cleland Urge FCC to Avoid Common Carriage for ISPs

With a federal court ruling two weeks ago that the guts of the FCC’s Net Neutrality rule – its so-called anti-blocking and anti-discrimination provisions – were unlawful, numerous “public interest” groups have been screaming of late for the Commission to reclassify ISPs as common carriers.  The video below – featuring Free State Foundation’s Randolph May, and NetCompetition’s Scott Cleland – urges otherwise, believing the Commission should use its authority in a more constructive, pro-consumer manner than can be achieved through common carrier / Title II regulation.

Net Neutrality Ruling Must Not Result in Common Carriage for ISPs from Mike Wendy on Vimeo.

Part 1 – Randy May (only)

Part 2 – Scott Cleland (only)

Media Freedom

Ontario senior fined for shoveling snow wrong

An Orillia, Ontario, senior on a fixed-income got fined over 0 for improper snow removal.

This report aired on The Source January 30 2013.

Ezra Levant

Slate: The Simpsons Knows How to Hit Google Glass Where It Hurts

Slate considers a recent episode of “The Simpsons” TV show and its satire of Google Glass and the questions it raises concerning privacy: On this past Sunday’s episode of The Simpsons, “Specs and the City,” Mr. Burns gives every employee of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant a pair of “Oogle Goggles.” It seems like an unusually [...]
Privacy Lives

Tom Toles’ Confused Net Neutrality Ruling Cartoon

NetNeut Cartoon

I guess this cartoon by the Washington Post’s Tom Toles relates to last week’s Net Neutrality court ruling.  But, when you look at it, what does it mean?  The Court (working with “Big Telecom”?) is somehow portrayed as a Bridgegate conspirator?

Really?

I wrote the following letter to the editor (which was not published) explaining my take on this confused political cartoon.

Washington Post LTE, January 20, 2014:  Tom Toles’ recent cartoon (from January 19, 2014) seems to imply that a recent federal court ruling outlawing the FCC’s Net Neutrality rule is somehow analogous to Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal.

The analogy is inapt.

First of all, the Court isn’t a state’s chief executive seeking re-election.

Second, if Toles’ aim was to cast “Big Telecom” as the ruling’s main beneficiary, he failed miserably because it looks like both the bridge traffic (with “Big Telecom” trucks on it) and the onramp (with “everybody else” on it) are at a clogged standstill.  Not much benefit for any party there.

Finally, Toles left out the FCC.  Though the ruling throws out core aspects of the Commission’s Net Neutrality rule, it legitimizes the agency’s “regulatory-light” powers many thought did not exist.  Additionally, it invites the agency to more properly redefine broadband so that it may someday fully regulate it like a turn-of-the-century phone service.

Like Chris Christie, the politically constituted FCC won’t stay away from this sweet doughnut.  It will wield its new powers.  And, even if it never reclassifies broadband, it will use this as a perennial threat to regulate.

Instead of growth, gridlock will result, which – whether the author intended it or not – the picture clearly evokes.

Media Freedom

Does Neil Young practice what he preaches?

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Neil Young loves Canada’s Indians. After all, he wears a fringed leather jacket and just finished a concert tour telling Canadians to “Honour the Treaties,” even though he couldn’t point out how we’re not.

But at least he’s got that leather jacket. Has since the ’60s. He explained it in one rock biography:

There I was making 120 bucks a week at the Whisky as a musician. . I’ve always liked fringe jackets. I went out and bought one right away with some pants and a turtleneck shirt. Oh yeah, I thought I was heavy. I wore them on some TV shows and whenever we worked. Then I went to this place on Santa Monica Boulevard near La Cienega. I saw this great Comanche war shirt, the best jacket I’ve ever seen. I had two more made. The group was Western, the name Buffalo Springfield came off a tractor, so it all fit. I was the Indian. That’s when it was cool to be an Indian.

So he was in California playacting to be an Indian. To make some cash.

His Indian-sounding band name was just the brand of a tractor, like John Deere.

Soon Young was appearing on stage with giant wooden Indians as theatrical props. Not totem poles – no real Aboriginal artifacts. A white caricature of Indians.

That wooden Indian thing became an obsession for him. In 1982, Young released a psychedelic movie called Human Highway . It was awful and it bombed in theatres. Young played an amateur musician, who had wooden Indians as back-up singers.

And then, in the movie, the wooden Indian singers were torched. That’s weird. But what’s even weirder is that Young actually did that in real life too. From another rock biography:

“.the cast and crew communed with the local Indian tribe. We lived right with the Indians,” said bus driver Paul Williamson. “This guy Carpio, it was my job to take him home. We were f—d up, partyin’ for days . . . . Neil said, ‘Take the Indian home.’ I get in the middle of this reservation. I was like ‘F–, when are the arrows comin’?”

Things grew extra tense one day when Young decided to film an obtuse scene that involved the burning of. a few of Young’s wooden Indians. It was a bizarre event. “Neil burnt his Indians.” said Hopper. “Everyone danced around the fire.” .the actual Indians were completely nonplussed. “It was ‘These f–in’ white people are really nuts.’”

Sure, his backing band Crazy Horse is named for the famed Indian war leader and some songs he’s written are sensitive to Native Americans. But some are just weird. In the song “Pocahontas,” he writes:

“I wish I was a trapper/I would give thousand pelts/To sleep with Pocahontas/And find out how she felt.”

Sorry, Neil. She was an Indian princess, not a prostitute. Or his song, “Last Trip to Tulsa”:

“Well I woke up in the morning/With an arrow through my nose/There was an Indian in the corner/Tryin’ on my clothes.”

It’s unclear if that’s an Indian woman he slept with, or an Indian man stealing from him. But as he said, Indians are cool, so does it really matter?

Did Young actually ever get to know a real Indian? Here’s what Young told a reporter about a sex romp:

“I don’t think I got laid for f—in’ years after I got into rock and roll. I think I was in Fort William when I got laid. Me and a nice little Indian and a deejay. The first time was not really that great. at least I didn’t get any diseases. So it was good.”

No name. Just that she was a good little Indian, who didn’t infect him. With Neil Young, it’s always about Neil Young. And maybe the odd deejay in on the action too.

Neil Young doesn’t hate Indians. But he doesn’t respect them. He’ll dress up in Indian drag, burn wooden Indians and sleep with Indian girls.

His anti-oilsands tour was called Honour the Treaties. Sounds like he ought to start honouring Indians a bit more too.

This column was written for Sun News January 26 2014.

Ezra Levant