Clinton’s Broadband Proposals Losing Support

    January 11, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

Those (derogatorily or not) considered on the left side of the political spectrum seem to be turning on Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, especially in regard to her plan for expanding broadband access.

I say that with a general awareness that there is more variety in "liberal" thought than presented by Camille Paglia (whose scalding editorial on Clinton is a must-read, whether her viewpoints are legitimate or not, just for historical perspective) and The Huffington Post. So forgive me if I generalize too much. I’m going on what information comes to my attention.

Disclaimer: I’ve become more liberal over the years, especially in recent years as I observe (and feel) the way conservatives have been bending us over. In general, though, at least in theory, I’m a libertarian unless provoked otherwise.

You expect it, and offer some deference where appropriate, when leftist writers go after Republicans, but it’s likely to cause a double-take when they go after Hillary, the elitist-ordained queen of all things Left, Hip, and Progressive. Part of that is handed down from her husband, no doubt, but at least she would represent – again, in theory – the flipside of the establishment.

And just being a woman means that she sort of does. And unless you’re stubborn as a stripped screw-head, you’d be willing to accept she couldn’t do worse than W. Just being likeable would help her case all the more – like Barack is likeable.

Oh, and don’t forget less on the Paulist side of spreading the Gospel: I have become all things to all people so that I might save them [from the Republicans]. Paul didn’t have the benefit of mass media to push his faith nor the bane of it to compare what he might have said in one place or the other.

But enough about that and back to Hillary and Barack, where they stand on broadband, and how Net Neutrality supporters are throwing their support to the silver-tongued Illinoisan.

Matt Stoller, a blogger whose posts you might see on The Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and (all, to say the least of some of them, on the left side of the broadband regulation debate), recently highlighted Clinton’s Connect America Plan.

Stoller concludes that Clinton’s proposal for broadband expansion "may allow the destruction of the Internet."

That may be kind of hard to do – you know, destroy it – but Stoller’s ratcheted-up rhetoric does bring to light how Clinton and other Congressional Democrats plan to model their broadband expansion policies on Connect Kentucky, which isn’t as gumdrops-and-butterflies as it’s made out to be.

Stoller directs us to a lengthy Art Brodsky expose about Kentucky’s heralded (nay, KoolAid-fueled) broadband expansion. Brodsky does the homework much of the press in Kentucky either didn’t bother to pursue, didn’t understand enough to investigate, or didn’t believe the general public would understand.

Thanks to a political climate set up by the infamous "love gov" Paul Patton (a cousin of mine, but don’t tell anybody) and his corporate lackey successor Ernie Fletcher, BellSouth, now AT&T, was able to run that show, and profit from it while access in the state got only marginally better, and in many cases caused Kentucky to fall further behind – much like the US has done compared to other nations when under the direction of the profit-loving telecoms.

It was relatively easy to take over the rural areas: access was lacking already. Already decent in the more-populated areas, city-folk didn’t notice what was happening "out in the county," as we might say.

For example, I work in Lexington, but live in a town (if you can call it that) that up until 20 years ago or so people were still dialing only four digits for local calls. Let’s just say it’s south and east, the general direction of the proposed improvements.

BellSouth busted Southeast Telephone’s block, the only real phone competitor, leaving the choice of broadband in my area between BellSouth and TimeWarner, which everybody in the neighborhood (okay, town) says just doesn’t keep up either. BellSouth is definitely the best available, but there’s not much available.

But at least we have broadband, which is more than can be said for other places, despite reports that 97 percent of Kentucky is wired up. Other, less self-interested measurers (i.e., numbers not produced by BellSouth-run Connect Kentucky insiders) have broadband penetration at under 33 percent, and say Kentucky ranks in the upper 40s out of 50 states in other key indicators, in some instances lower than when the project began.

The same AT&T/BellSouth flunkies in charge of Fletcher’s Kentucky Connect are headed upstairs to run a similar program for the whole country, and Clinton is a big champion of that, perhaps just because it sounds good and is saleable to a greater number of people than will actually put it under scrutiny.

And remember, Kentucky has a tradition of being exactly where mainstream America is in terms of social consciousness and values; take a look at how many years in a row the state’s electors have voted for the eventual winner of the Presidential election. We’re better than fortune tellers in that respect.

This is one reason more liberal technologically savvy pundits are throwing their support behind Obama, instead, as – at least, like everything else he says, as demonstrated by his pretty words – his agenda for Internet growth is more inline with consumer needs and protections, even if it’s less politically attractive in some respects, what with a real understanding for how it works and a lack of appropriate buzzwords to sell to the masses.