Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Last Call For The Clown Car Contracts

Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina are out.  No surprise there, they finished sixth and seventh, respectively, in New Hampshire last night.

Behind Jeb Bush.

Jeb Bush.

But the smart money still seems to be on Rubio, right Josh Marshall?

In a year when Donald Trump is now the prohibitive favorite to win the Republican nomination, It is likely wise not to rule anything out. But it is also worth noting that in addition to almost certainly ending Marco Rubio's presidential campaign, Chris Christie probably also ended Rubio's political career.


So where next? 
Not the House, not the Senate and clearly not the presidency. He's already been at the pinnacle. It's hard to go back to anything else. The obvious path is to take a few years off and come back to run for Governor as a more seasoned, more mature politician. If that goes well, he's back in business as a national politician, maybe even one better positioned to make a fifty-something run for president. 
But you usually don't get multiple chances at this - especially if you get marked as a loser. The most likely scenario is that Marco Rubio's career in elective politics is over.

What a difference three years makes, huh.

Full-body portrait of Marco Rubio

How's that working out for you, Marco?

The Big Blue Eff You

Facebook founder (and burgeoning philanthropist) Mark Zuckerberg wants to give India free internet., which in a country like India which primarily accesses the internet via mobile phone is a massive deal. However, India's telecom industry just told him to go jump in the Ganges and take his free internet with him and it looks like the country's internet regulatory commission is following suit.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released their long-anticipated ruling on net neutrality in India. The regulators have ruled against differential and discriminatory pricing of mobile data on the basis of content.

This ruling will affect Free Basics — Facebook’s controversial plan to offer free, but limited Internet access — in India. Mark Zuckerberg has been campaigning to bring increased digital connectivity to the developing world. Free Basics, which claims to have 15 million users in more than 35 countries around the globe, is part of Facebook’s quasi-philanthropic efforts. India is the second largest market for Facebook users after the United States and considered vital to its continued growth.

Today’s much-anticipated ruling by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) was not about Free Basics per se. Rather, regulators were reviewing pricing schemes like “zero-rating,” where mobile operators offer access to some websites and services for free, while charging for others. Advocates for digital equality arguethat zero-rating gives an unfair advantage to subsidized content, distorts the market for smaller players, and squashes innovation. Supporters of Free Basics, on the other hand, counter that urban elites who already have Internet access should not deny access to the poor, even if more equitable methods exist.

It seems the last thing India's government wants is Americans coming in and giving people just enough "free" internet to access Facebook all day and have to pay for everything else.

Free Basics was ostensibly targeted at Indians who had never experienced the Internet or could not pay for data plans. However, Facebook recently struggled to provide a reporter with the name of a single Free Basics user in India who had never been online before. Free Basics allows users free access to limited resources including Wikipedia, Bing search, and the weather, as well as a lightweight version of Facebook. Yet normal data charges apply for outside websites, like Google search results, for example. 
Facebook’s promotion of Free Basics has been orchestrated like a political campaign. In December, Zuckerberg published an op-ed in the Times of Indiadefending Free Basics. In it, he repeated Facebook’s claim that half of the people who go online through Free Basics end up paying for access to “the full Internet” within 30 days, but offered no further details about the study. “Who could possibly be against this?” Zuckerberg asked. “Surprisingly, over the last year there’s been a big debate about this in India.” Other countries have prohibited Free Basics. It is not offered in Chile, for example, because the government banned zero-rating in 2014.

If you want to know why I think Zuckerberg and his philanthropy are full of absolutely self-serving crap, this Free Basics scam is exactly why. This is precisely the kind of metered access that net neutraility laws in the US are supposed to prevent, and why Republicans are very eager to shut them down.

Imagine that Facebook gave you "free" mobile internet data -- only for accessing Facebook and search engines -- but the second you clicked on a web site, you had to pay as you go with the kind of data rates that would make AT&T and Verizon actually blush.

Given no net neutrality rules in India until now, that's the game Facebook decided it was going to play. That should be a big alarm bell to everyone about the necessity of net neutrality here in the US and indeed everywhere, but you can guarantee those rules go away the moment we get a GOP president again.

America already has the most expensive internet in the developed world.  The answer is not "free internet" with strings attached,

Smack, Crack, And Black

I cannot agree more with the sentiments of this op-ed piece in the NY Times about how differently America treated the largely black victims of the crack epidemic of the 80's and 90's, and how America's growing heroin epidemic in white, rural America is being treated today.

It is hard to describe the bittersweet sting that many African-Americans feel witnessing this national embrace of addicts. It is heartening to see the eclipse of the generations-long failed war on drugs. But black Americans are also knowingly weary and embittered by the absence of such enlightened thinking when those in our own families were similarly wounded. When the face of addiction had dark skin, this nation’s police did not see sons and daughters, sister and brothers. They saw “brothas,” young thugs to be locked up, rather than “people with a purpose in life.”

To be clear, no one laments the violence that the “crack bomb” set off in inner cities more than African-Americans. But while shootings, beatings and robberies cannot be tolerated anywhere, the heroin epidemic shows that how we respond to the crimes accompanying addiction depends on how much we care about the victims of crime and those in the grip of addiction. White heroin addicts get overdose treatment, rehabilitation and reincorporation, a system that will be there for them again and again and again. Black drug users got jail cells and “Just Say No.”

It would be cruel and perverse to seek equal abandonment of those now struggling with addiction as payback for the failures of the ’80s. Nor do I write in mere hopes of inducing cheap racial guilt. The hope, however vain, is that we learn from our meanest moments. 
Even today, as black communities face pressing problems of addiction and chronic unemployment and the discrimination in hiring that helps to perpetuate it, many are dedicated to ignoring racial prejudice. Faced with searing examples of unconscionable police violence against unarmed black men, of concocted justifications laid bare by video, too many still speak of isolated cases and overblown racial hysteria. With condescending finger-wagging, others recite the deplorable statistics of violence within poor minority neighborhoods as though racist policing were an antidote or excuse. Both responses ignore that each spectacular moment of unjustified police violence represents countless instances of institutionalized racial control across generations. 
No sane community faced with addiction and crime would invite or acquiesce to brutal policing as their fate, and no moral community would impose it as a primary response. We do not have to wait until a problem has a white face to answer with humanity.

A thousand times this.  The 90's got us three strikes laws, warnings about black "super-predators" and mass incarceration because SOMETHING HAD TO BE DONE ABOUT THE BLACKS.

25 years later, it's Indianapolis and Des Moines and Omaha with the heroin epidemic.  And suddenly, America is all about second chances and criminal justice reform.

Funny how that worked out, huh.


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