The latest Republican atrocity against us ordinary American citizens is a bill that would undo the Obama Administration's FCC privacy regulations that have not yet gone into effect.  The bill passed the House by a vote of 215 to 205 with 15 Republicans voting with 190 Democrats to unsuccessfully kill the bill.  The Trump White House, allegedly on the side of Rust Belters and We The People, supports the bill.   Now I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that AT&T, Verizon, Google, Comcast and all the other internet service providers already have pretty much unfettered control over not only our online privacy but over virtually every other aspect of the internet age as we interface with the world on our computers. 

I don’t know about you, but I am so done with unwanted, un-controllable, un-asked-for online advertisements when I’m doing research on the latest “Breaking News Headlines” from CNN or Media Matters or Byzantium.  It used to be, and not so long ago, that after my Amazon purchase of a baby toy for my grandson or a backyard composting system, I would see ads for the same or similar items on the right hand margin of whatever page I was on.  But no more.  Now I get ads that I cannot stop from playing while I’m attempting to listen to the latest offering from Adele or Marvin Gaye and must wade through 30 second of unstoppable commercials while researching the roots of the Christian community in Kerala, India.  

I’m neither naïve nor stupid so, yes, I get it.  We have what is basically free access to the internet (although I do pay Comcast for this privilege) and, therefore, the Unfettered Free Market Capitalist nation that we live in demands that I have no control over advertisements or personal information while I am online.  The Obama Administration attempted to change this in what was a fairly innocuous and practical attempt to put some boundaries over how and what our internet service providers could do with our personal info.  As you may recall, it was a BIG DEAL when the FCC held hearings about limiting the reach of AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Google by limiting what they could do with our personal info that we’ve all agreed to by signing up for their services in a 40 page, 6 point text that we never read and simply clicked “I Agree.”  As I recall, the FCC e-mails were on the order of 80 to 1 in favor of this Obama initiative but in the end, we the people simply don't matter.  At least to Republicans.  

There is no mystery over why it is that Republicans – and some Democrats - would want to overturn Obama’s restrictions.  Democrats and Republicans alike received over $8 million from the four major telecom companies and their trade group in the 2014 election alone. For some context, the top five pharmaceutical groups spent only half as much in the same cycle.

It's no big surprise that corporations throw their monetary weight around. But it is especially worrying when the FCC is already cozy with the very industry it's supposed to regulate. Who, in turn, is supposed to make sure the FCC does its job? Why, that's your elected officials of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet and the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology—almost all of whom have received campaign funds from cable giants.

Here’s a graphic showing the money Senators received from our telecommunications companies:

Here’s the same data for the House of Representatives:

Do you have any questions about why it is that Congress has proposed eliminating the Obama Administration’s restrictions on what our internet service providers can do with our personal information?  No, of course not.  This is simply the way that it is in 2017.

The very same “THEME” is rife in our politics, the “THEME” being how much money big business contributes to the re-electing of both House and Senate members.  This is the situation that we are stuck with.  And nothing will change until we the people change it.  It won’t be easy.  But it can be done.  Back in the day, let’s say during the Nixon and Clinton Administrations, there were proposals for publicly funded election campaigns. I know this sounds a bit crazy.  Why would we citizens of the United States pay for the election of our representatives in Congress?  It strikes one as absurd.  But here’s the deal: Unless we excise lobbyist funding of our political campaigns, the reversal of the Obama Administration’s ban on using our personal online information to do with as AT&T, Amazon and Google please, we are never going to get out from under the shroud of big business control of our lives.  It’s really this simple.  I don’t know what the solution is, but a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizen’s United would be a good start. 

But we need to go much further.  As for me, I think that the banning of contributions from these lobbyists would also go a long way towards removing the stranglehold over foolish and harmful legislation that Congress – in the thrall of big money - considers and passes.  It’s a bi-partisan issue but one has to consider how Republicans and Democrats respond to lobby pressures.  Both are complicit but both are not equally complicit.  Take the recent Trump/Ryan replacement for Obamacare that would have excised some 20 million Americans from our health insurance rolls.  Or the Trump/Ryan budget proposals which would cut one-third of the EPA’s funding.  From the time of Ronald Reagan, Republicans have consistently championed tax cuts for the rich, slashing funds for the elderly, the disabled, and the poor, and kowtowed to Big Business, and pursued policies that have rendered working and middle class Americans “has beens” in the American scheme of things.  They do an admirable job of propaganda dissemination – much more effectively than do Democrats – to the detriment of the country as a whole.  Their abject devotion to making sure that the already wealthy reap more benefits at the expense of America’s working and middle classes is nothing less than a repudiation of what it means to be an American.

Democrats are not blameless in this race to the bottom of Free Market ideology but Republicans – viz the Trump/Ryan ACA replacement proposal or the vitiation of the Obama privacy rules viz the internet, are very much the front runners in the destruction of American society and the enthronement of the American oligarchy as the sole arbitrators of American politics and American social structure.  This is what Republicans have striven for since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and they have succeeded beyond all expectations with the certification of Donald Trump as President.  For the life of me, I cannot understand how it is that Americans still have faith in the Republican vision of America which is essentially the rule of Big Business over all of us and over every aspect of our lives.    

The Trump Administration is not a "populist" outpouring of Rust Belt angst but simply a full frontal attack on every single liberal and progressive initiative that we've so fought for over the past three decades.  Don't be fooled.  It's really nothing more nor nothing less than the undoing of the progress we've made.  

This, folks, is what we are facing as we move into the final weeks of the Trump 100 day report card.


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