Bernie Sanders’ Gives 21st-Century Westminster Foreign Policy Speech

On Thursday, September 21st, Senator Bernie Sanders gave the 58th John Findley Green lecture from Westminster College, Fulton MO. As a series of speeches designed to “promote understanding of economic and social problems,” according to the Churchill museum, Sanders ambitiously undertook an evaluation of post-war American foreign policy in the hopes of laying out a strategy for 21st century challenges while speaking to a sell-out crowd.

When contrasting the Iraq War with the Iran Nuclear Deal, Sanders argued that the former was an example of a “blunder,” while the latter was an example of “leadership.” When discussing the 1950’s overthrow of popularly-elected Iranian leader Mohammed Mossadegh, he not only accurately connected the Shah’s re-installation to the eventual success of Ayatollah Khomeini’s rise to power in the 1979 revolution, but poignantly asked the question, “What would Iran look like today?” He ably connected America’s now-constant blustery threats to use military force with a matching perception of American weakness in a veiled shot at a certain President.

Some might consider such a dissection to be boiler-plate, or of the, “Duh, we already knew this” prerogative. Truth be told, other than its unusual-for-2017 depth and historical accuracy, it was a rather subdued speech for the Democratic Socialist. What set this speech apart was how it was accessible to a national audience. For starters, it was announced, promoted and eventually aired via Youtube by Westminster College, itself. Additionally, key segments of it were live-tweeted by Bernie Sanders’ official Twitter account using the hashtag “#BernieFP” (No, Sanders himself didn’t tweet these snippets). This strategy was savvy to the modern political condition and its reliance on social media for success, and was especially effective as Sanders’ peacenik language drew a strong confluence with the trending “#PeaceDay” digital depiction of the UN-Recognized International Day of Peace.

For an example, this combination enabled casual Twitter users who might be off for Rosh Hashanah (L’Shana Tovah!) and have an interested friend to notice the event was happening via social media, say, “Hey, that sounds kind of interesting,” then subsequently click over to the Youtube stream. By populating Twitter’s search engine with a specific hashtag, even those who were at work or otherwise unable to tune in might still see one or more quotes from the speech, creating instant soundbytes for water-cooler conversation.

If, as September 20th’s episode of South Park subversively suggested, social media and Twitter are key elements of today’s political battleground, Bernie Sanders demonstrated a maestro’s grasp of how to bend them to his perrogative. Furthermore, if social media is a tool for the youth, this analysis goes a step towards explaining the justification behind more than one Washington Post article on how Sanders won the Youth vote in the Democratic primary, which itself is greener (pun accidential, but covenient) than the Republican one. Sanders’ social media presence may not have propelled him to victory in 2016, but he has kept it alive and well following the election and has contributed to his maintainence of a lead as the most popular politician in America. This is simply one example of the how behind this success, and should he be so inclined it will help ensure his weight remains impressive within the Democratic party for some time to come – his push for Single Payer healthcare included.

Byline: Jesse Pohlman is a writer and educator from Long Island, New York. When he’s not analyzing politics, he’s teaching America’s youth to analyze history and literature – that, or writing science-fiction stories!

Editorial Note:  “Better late than never.”

Bernie Sanders Speaks at Westminster – Courtesy of Advocacy Activism

Jesse Pohlman at “Decisions 2016,” Adelphi University, 10/6/2016

Hey folks,

This is just a little bit late in going up – You know, a few weeks? But I realized I should be using this site more, and I should make sure this is posted here as well. Anyhow, this is me talking to an awesome crowd at the Adelphi University event entitled “Decisions 2016: Why your vote matters in all races.” It’s a wee bit long, about twenty minutes, but it’s well worth it.

The event was sponsored by the Adelphi History Department, specifically Dr. Cristina Zaccarini; she’s the awesome lady who introduced me. Also appearing at Decisions 2016: Marcus Henriques, Anthony Miller, and Jamie Diamond.

A Tepid Endorsement of Hillary Clinton

Hello, everyone.

This election cycle has pushed all Progessives to and beyond our breaking points. It’s time to take a look past the grand spectacle of the presidential election and focus instead on what we can do to further improve our already ‘great’ nation, and – whether we like it or not, no matter how much I might have wanted to see it be Bernie Sanders – the only way that will happen is with Hillary Clinton as our next President. To that end, I encourage reading to support her candidacy on November 8th; I realize that is a huge thing to ask, given her questionable track record, so I will try to address some of the most prominent questions to the best of my abilities. I know I won’t convince everyone – and I know some people might call me a sell-out, or worse – but I hope you’ll take a second to consider it. I might not have a laser-like precision, but no decision this grave is carried out without some generalization in mind. The goal is to avoid oversimplification and to prove a case for her earning your vote.

What exactly has Clinton done to earn our vote?

I’ll start off by discussing her time as a lawyer for the Children’s Defense Fund. A favorite story of mine is when she went under-cover to fight against segregation. She would ask people, sometimes point-blank, ‘do you let Black people in?’ Of course, the law of the land said segregation was illegal but that didn’t mean that certain ‘unspoken rules’ weren’t enforced. It certainly doesn’t mean that people wouldn’t look, deliberately, for non-integrated communities. And guess what? Clinton fought this tooth-and-nail.

Another example of her doing good in the world comes with the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a sort of victory-out-of-defeat when her attempt to expand health-care in general failed. That’s right! Before it was “Obamacare” it was “Hillarycare.” Of course, Obamacare also was Romneycare and even HeritageFoundationCare, but I digress from the main point – Clinton actively fought to create a program which provides healthcare to millions of children who otherwise would get sick, perhaps die, and go un-cared for.

In the third Presidential debate, she spoke highly of the oft-controversial Clinton Foundation. Her donors are certainly unsavory and there’s the risk of that unfairly influencing anyone, but she also argued for the good it’s done across the globe. This honestly isn’t my area of expertise, so I’ll cite Charity Navigator’s rating, which is four stars out of four.

As you’ll see below, I have some questions about her and there are others competing for your vote – all of whom are far better qualified than Donald Trump, by the by – but I think my main reason for this endorsement comes from Paul Ryan’s nervous lips. When he says, paraphrased, that if Clinton wins and wins big we’ll get Bernie Sanders in charge of the Senate budget department I start salivating. You see, that’s the real ticket to change – should the Democrats manage to flip the Senate (a likely possibility) and/or (a less likely one) the House of Representatives, we’ll get both a Progressive caucus which can hold Clinton accountable to campaign promises such as her efforts on Climate Change (which she unilaterally raised in at least the second and third debates), overturning Citizens United, and more. It’s those promises we should vote for, hoping that in that vote that we get a Congress which will actually do its damned job, and that is the embodiment of the Political Revolution that Bernie Sanders leads. He still leads it! And I will follow it, even if that means voting for Hillary Clinton.

But isn’t she crooked, among any other weaknesses?

Surely, Clinton doesn’t come off as the most empathetic politician. Her connection to big money is a huge reason why I supported Bernie Sanders, and why in 2008 I supported – wait for it – Bill Richardson. However, just as when I supported her in 2008’s primary defeat, I can look past some of her least glorious moments in order to critique her overall body of work, and that is why this is a tepid – lukewarm, dispassionate, un-thrilled – endorsement. The third Presidential debate was what hit it home for me; for the first time in a long time I heard the Hillary Clinton of 2008 poking through the haze of this insane election.

My biggest concern isn’t that she’s going to sell the proverbial farm for a dollar (although something-something-Russia-Uranium was worrysome, it’s also been called inaccurate), it’s that she’s not genuinely progressive and won’t offer real advancement to the nation. This is the underlying “Which Hillary?” controversy that I believe stems from the Democratic party (Oh, we’ll get to them) as a whole accepting big money into its bed. She’s also a foreign conflict hawk, and her argument in favor of creating a No-Fly-Zone in Syria is well intentioned but flat-out dangerous if she can’t convince the Russians to go along with it. Then there’s her e-mail scandal which does not appear to have concealed anything terribly nor was it deemed worthy of actual charges – and, no, Benghazi wasn’t her fault, go back and try researching it at least from when Congressional Republicans denied funding for security enhancements to the tune of about $330,000,000.

When I look back at Clinton’s actual body of work, however, again I find myself sighing in resignaton and mumbling, “Well, with a Progressive Congress there’s a shot, here.” It’s the only shot we have, even in a 2016 landscape that maximized the chances of a third party forming a coherent, composed challenge.

But Gary Johnson is free from all of those negatives! Why not support him?

The 2016 election is very different than 2012. In 2012, President Obama was not only faced with a reasonably confident shot at re-election, but he was actually running against a rather sane Republican opponent. If Mitt Romney had acceded to the Presidency, the nation would have still kept ticking. Furthermore, in 2012 there were two very clear objectives for the Libertarian party: Number one, to reach 5% of the national poll and receive ‘major party status’ with respect to general election funding; number two, to create a lasting Libertarian infrastructure which could propel the 2016 Libertarian candidate (Johnson/Weld/Weed) to a legitimate challenge.

Again, in 2016 the political landscape couldn’t be any more in favor of a third-party vote. Think back to right after the Primaries, when #NeverTrump and #NeverHillary were at their peaks. Especially for Republicans who noticed early on that Trump was a madman, Gary Johnson seemed like a natural choice. It seemed, at least to me, like he stood a serious shot of earning endorsements from folks like the aforementioned Mitt Romney. Surely if any year was a year for the Republican party to fracture, it was this one!

And, yet, that didn’t happen. Worse, Johnson’s primary news coverage came as the result of “Aleppo Moments” (Which any Human being has, but not with regularity on national TV), and while some people considered this a possible strategy to boost his name recognition, I feel like it was a sign that Johnson’s candidacy had simply fallen apart.

Don’t get me wrong, I strongly urge all Conservatives to vote for him! As awkward as he’s handled specific policy topics, his overarching grasp of why Syria is a massive problem we should be avoiding is sound. So he forgot the second-largest city’s name! The truth is, at least Johnson is idealistically consistent if completely opposed to what Bernie Sanders believes in, and that matters. And if he gets to that 5% mark? Good! The 2016 Republican Party deserves to wander in the political wilderness for a while.

But what about Jill Stein, the only other Progressive in this race?

I like Jill Stein. I’ve contributed to the Green Party, too! I gave her a serious and long look. I certainly expect many people to vote for her out of disgust for the (again, we’ll get to them) Democratic party as well as distrust of Clinton. As long as people are voting their conscience, I can’t argue with that!

However, once more, Stein’s ultimate test during this campaign actually stems back to her 2012 run, and that test was simple: Building a party infrastructure that would propel her, in the course of four years, to a reasonable chance of victory in the Presidential election, to say nothing of state-and-local Green candidates. Stein did not accomplish this task. She has consistently polled at around two percent, maybe hitting as high as four percent. She simply cannot and will not win this election.

Does that mean you shouldn’t vote for her? Well, I’m suggesting you vote for Clinton so I’m clearly biased, but as much as John Oliver has gotten flak for questioning her plan to cancel out student debt, the truth of the mechanics of quantitative easing is simple: The President can’t just print more money to end problems. Quantitative easing could definitely be part of the solution, but since the U.S. government controls most of the student loans (Federal Stanford being the #1) anyway, why wouldn’t Stein just press Congress to sign off on debt reduction directly? Why devalue our currency? In fact, why is the Green Party so interested in student loans when I’ve always understood them to be an environment-first party?

Why didn’t she focus on the Green New Deal? Because I think the political calculation was that college students propelled Bernie, so college students could propel Jill. I’m sorry, but that’s not what I (as someone who has struggled but paid off some but not all of my debts) wanted to hear. Paying off college is nice, but that jobs package? Getting energy independent?

Last, but not least, I have to mention the Green Party’s overall approach to newcomers – and that is to say, when I attempted to get to know the rank-and-file, I found a lot of venom. I found a lot of people who regard the slightest deviation from the agreed-upon norm were downright brutal. I am sure they will not take this endorsement happily, but I hope they’ll understand that we can disagree on who the best candidate for President is and still work together on the issues that really matter. Believe it or not, I would love to see Jill Stein play some kind of role in Clinton’s administration – and, from the bottom of my heart, I really think that if Bernie had taken up Stein’s offer to lead the Green party he would have won the 2016 Presidency as a Third Party.

But that’s not the reality we live in.

As to Donald Trump…

I have perhaps one bias in my life, instilled by my grandparents, both my grandfathers who fought in World War Two and my grandmothers who were at home for it: Fascism is an obvious face of tyranny, and I must oppose tyranny at all costs.

Donald Trump, frankly, is an incompetent neo-nazi wearing the thinnest possible veil over his swastika-laden heart, and a vote for him is in my eyes equivalent to a vote for Hitler.

Trump has repeatedly called for (and appears to have received!) not only foreign espionage against his political opponents, not just the incarceration of anyone who opposes him and their lawyers, but has subtextually suggested someone shoot Hillary Clinton. His supporters listen. Not since the Civil War have we faced a situation where someone threatens not to recognize the fundamental legitimacy of the election. No, we aren’t talking about the right to a legal challenge such as Bush V Gore in Florida (at least part of which was mandated by Florida law); we’re talking about refusing to acknowledge any election result other than his own victory. He literally parrots Benito Mussolini.

Perhaps he is part of the reason Clinton’s flaws are so minimal. Jill Stein argues that a vote for the lesser of two evils is still evil, and she isn’t wrong; however, I do not see Clinton and Trump as equivalent, let alone seeing Clinton as somehow worse than Trump. Trump is subverting this nation’s good people and intentions in an almost unprecedented manner by appealing to racism, sexism, and many other lesser bigotries I can’t even begin to count.

Simply put: If you believe in the democratic process and the American Constitution, you can’t walk through the maze and vote for Trump without throwing both of those values aside.

But doesn’t this reward the Democrats for screwing Sanders over?

Yes.

I hate that fact almost as much as I hate the fact that over one hundred thousand of my fellow New Yorkers were stripped of their right to vote in the primaries. It’s clear that the Democratic party had its thumbs on the scale (and, really, I’m not surprised), and it’s clear that Sanders probably would have come within a hair’s breadth of winning the nomination had it not been for this bias. On the other hand, Sanders campaign aides have said that the campaign lacked, among other things, a lot of the data optimization that the Obama campaign used in 2008. It was always going to be an uphill battle considering Clinton’s popularity with minority voters, and the Democratic party’s bias towards its long-time member just didn’t help.

Was Bernie screwed? At least halfway! But here’s the beautiful thing about this election: In four more years we get to try again if we don’t like what we see. On January 20th, 2017, we get to start holding Clinton accountable as President. Even today, we get to push Obama to do things like recall his nomination of the moderate Merrick Garland and nominate a Supreme Court Justice that more befits the Progressives who will rescue his party from an orange totalitarian lunatic. We get to make sure Clinton and her allies know exactly who put her over the top in this election, and that they know who will determine whether or not they retain power in the 2018 House and Senate elections; in the various governorships and state-and-local races; in the 2020 Presidential cycle that will come affixed with a chance to un-gerrymander the actual election rigging that has taken place in states like Florida.

So, no; I am not thrilled to offer this endorsement, nor am I a particularly potent person to be giving it. I offer it regardless, hoping you will consider it when you cast your ballot on November 8th.

Speaking at Decisions 2016 (Adelphi University, October 6th, 7-9PM!)

Hello, friends!

Time a pretty big, if brief announcement! I’m speaking at my alma mater, Adelphi University, at an event sponsored by the History Club called “Decisions 2016: Why your vote matters in all races!” We’re going to be joined by Jamie Diamond, an old friend of mine and a major factor in the Bernie for Buffalo movement (Now called the Liberty Union Progressives) this Presidential cycle. She’ll be sharing some of her experiences, while I’ll be talking about some of the highlights of my time writing The Weekly Freeporter, my old Hyper-Local journalism blog, and how that relates to what we’ve seen this year.

It’s going to be at Blodgett Hall in room 201, Thursday October 6th in good ‘ol 2016, from 7-9PM. It’s sponsored by the Adelphi History Club with critical assistance from Dr. Cristina Zaccarini, as well as the Poli-Sci and Criminal Justice departments. It’ll be a really impressive event, made even better if it’s standing room only so bring the crowd!

My thoughts on the film “Clinton Cash.”

My immediate gut-reaction opinion on “Clinton Cash w/a few quick fact checks, perhaps with some consideration as I write.


The film as a whole speaks to a perceived pattern of ethics that has been significantly reinforced within the last 24 hours. The appointment of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as an “Honorary” anything for her political movement, merely hours after she was evicted from the DNC for illicitly steering Clinton the nomination, is perhaps the most prescient example I can think of. It no longer feels like wild-eyed conspiracy-porn to suggest, “Well, DWS was put their after she helped Clinton in 2008 specifically to make sure she won the nomination in 2016, then got a parachute out of there into Clinton’s camp, directly.”
 
That lens, my friends, can transform happy coincidence into deliberate-appearing allegiances. That sustained suggestibility is what the film relies on to convey its message. Does it do so effectively? Extraordinarily so. There is very little question in my mind whether or not anything illegal happened – of course it didn’t, the reigns of legality were firmly in the hands of the ones trusted to reign illegality in! If I were a juror I would honestly be unaware as to where to even begin to untangle this mess. Odds are, the cries of “Lock Her Up!” from the RNC will go unanswered for some time as investigators consider the arguments against the Clinton Foundation and how best to approach them.
 
However…Recent behavior displays a drastic continuation of the dubious policies of the Clinton Foundation, especially with regard to those considered “The Clinton Orbit” by this film.
 
The movie was most definitely biased against Clinton from the get-go, however it is biased not on the facts of its case, but largely in its (oftentimes violent) imagery and use of shorter, easier-to-substantiate claims. Sometimes context is difficult to find or follow, and at least once I found myself saying, “Well, you haven’t quite proven these two were even in the this particular place at the same time; few clearly-in-context photos lending me to find few perfect agreements on the ground-floor facts.”  So, it was flimsy at times, and relied significantly on the vulnerabilities of the ones it criticized to create suspicion as to whether or not their particular claim is true.  It feels strangely deliberate, though; like being fed just a taste of chocolate ice cream on any given day of this global-warming decimated summer (Seriously, it’s fucking hot out!) and being instead handed one of those tiny, marsh-mallow foam ice cream snacks.  (You know the ones I’m talking about!)


Since Clinton Cash tries to establish a tit-for-tat pattern of donations to the Foundation in exchange for State Department approvals and arrangements, allow me to say that according to the evidence it presents:  It makes a fair-nearing-good, but far from unbreakable case that Bill Clinton collected speech money “just as a side job” in exchange for preferential treatment by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  The only way to prove such a thing might be an audio recording of a conversation or a copy of a physical or electronic document.  Yes, conspiracy theorists, we’ve gotten so deep as to come back around to the E-Mail scandal again, but let’s not get carried away here.  Just because you can’t find something doesn’t mean it ever existed in the first place, and we must presume people are innocent until found guilty, even if we have suspicions.  Unless there is further documentation, I – in my officially-not-a-lawyer opinion – suggest that this is not a prosecutor offense and not a violation of any laws I’m familiar with, in spite of its grossly unethical appearance and operation.  That does not mean that a daring prosecutor might not put this up for an FBI investigation, much as the E-mail scandal was.  It is conceivable that the FBI may investigate and possibly be convinced to indict one or both of them, if they feel particularly prompted.


But if they aren’t breaking the law, we all know this is being released today in exchange for generating some further havoc you will no doubt see at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, starting tomorrow.  My opinion on this is simple:  Democratic Delegates – bound, un-bound, and Super – must absolutely not squander this opportunity to change course.  I have already made my position on how they should vote clear over at DailyKos.com, essentially making a plea for them to nominate Bernie Sanders, instead.  I am aware of how unlikely this is to happen, but please take Hillary Clinton’s words seriously when she tweeted, “Vote your conscience.”


If you believe even one of these tales to be plausibly true, you need to reconsider whether or not nominating Clinton president would be a reasonable thing to do.  Clinton herself told you that you should vote your conscience.  You may be overwhelmed with ‘regulations’ and people from all sides giving you advice, and I am aware that I am one of them, citing evidence from in large part another of them to convince you to change your mind or, at least, to resist the vote you may be forced to cast that you might already have regrets over.


Do the right thing and, even if it’s for the first time, vote your conscience tomorrow.  If you think Bernie would have been great but he didn’t get the votes…The people elected you to represent them at this meeting, so represent them the best way you can.  The facts-on-the-ground have changed drastically since the DNC Leaks (compliments of Wikileaks) and the Clinton Cash release.  If your state voted early, many of the people you represent might also have changed their mind on this subject, and would rather see him take the charge.


My warmest regards,
–Jesse Pohlman

Today’s conspiracy theory – Larry David and Hillary’s Assault on Donald Trump!

So, uh…Bear with me, here, because this is a bit nuts, but it’s worth considering.

This website (www.DeportRacism2016.com) was promoting this ridiculous idea of paying any random person $5,000 to interrupt Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live. Seems like a dumb stunt that can get you in some moderate amount of trouble with SNL Security and trespassing laws, right? Really dumb, but the kind of dumb that enough people heard it that it must have gotten to SNL itself, yeah? ‘Cuz Larry David interrupted him to claim the $5,000!  But who came up with this silly scheme?

I saw, earlier, that the owner of DeportRacism2016 is a gentleman named Luke Montgomery, owner of another group called BillForFirstLady. This is, essentially, a conspiracy theory in and of itself – Montgomery raises funds to promote Hillary and other liberal causes; and, now, he’s attempted to spend some cash to attack Donald Trump during a comedy show on national TV. Weird as hell theory, right? This guy is essentially funding his own pro-Hillary moves through T-Shirt and other merchandise sales!  Boy, it’s a good thing SNL covers the internet, caught the covert campaign, and countered succinctly by deploying David.

Yet, it serves as just one sub-conspiracy of a much larger article I came across on Reddit.com earlier (since deleted from /r/technology), an article published on Medium.com by a one-day old Anonymous account, and including alleged screenshots of some FEC filings establishing other connections I don’t have the technical knowledge of PACs/SuperPACs/FEC filings to confirm.  I’m not kidding – it’s a one-day-old account on a website I don’t usually hear of any spectacular campaign-finance chicanery undergoing exposure on, let alone, you know, anything else?  That’s pretty spur-of-the-moment, and we read it as a joke.  The best understanding I can gather of the grand scheme looks (and sounds) like this:

Hillary attacks The Donald wearing a Bernie Sanders Mask.

Mr.   Montgomery allegedly placed a placard of text on DeportRacism2016 that suggests Bernie Sanders’ campaign, or at least allies, were supporting it.  Whether this was simply an advertisement space that got locked up by Bernie’s side, or whether it – as the Anonymous accuser alleges – is a site stealthily owned by Luke Montgomery himself, this sounds absolutely bizarre.  Bernie is direct, while an advertisement network might plausibly decide to spend his ad buys there, the idea of him funding this back-handed attack is ludicrous.  Sanders has had no trouble directly attacking Trump before.  Why this elaborate scheme, right?

Well, guess what?  I just checked the FEC filing for Feel The Bern.  Its treasurer is a fellow named Luke Montgomery, a fellow who happens to live in the same Ohio zip code as the Luke Montgomery who owns DeportRacism2016.  Now my ears are pricked.  That a huge, huge Hillary supporter would suddenly be backing Bernie Sanders is interesting, but not impossible – frustration with politics-as-usual is a Bernie Sanders symptom!  It’s bad enough that this guy owns so many various political groups that he embodies the dark-money hydra his newly claimed leader rejects, he is so zealous to fight Trump’s racism while Sanders on the side that he forgets that he’s this amalgamation of political fundraising machines to attack Donald Trump in the name of justice?

Bernie is openly against all types of this bullshit, avoids such direct personal call-outs to save attention for larger issues, and when he attacks he does so directly.  It sounds highly unlikely that Luke Montgomery is Bernie Sanders’ henchman, but that’s vaguely what he’s portraying himself as when he’s talking through the lens of Feel The Bern.  In fact, this set of screen-grabs contains a lot of other strange information, but if you find that top-right picture on www.deportracism2016.com, it does indeed link you to feelthebern.org.  Okay, now you have proof Montgomery is bashing trump while promoting Bernie.

Why?

So next up comes the big step down the rabbit hole:  If it’s not Bernie’s doing, is it just this guy in Bernie’s camp looking to benefit from this deed?  Does he somehow think he’ll make Bernie look good in this exchange?  And what, again, does Larry David have to do with this?  The Medium article that started all this, that at first seemed so hard to believe yet is so far proving to make some credible links between Montgomery’s various shell-groups, is far worse than simply hypocritical.  As with all things Bernie opposes, it’s also bought-and-paid for by the people giving it campaign donations.

It gets worse, and my night of sarcastically looking at a conspiracy theory to pick apart in order to promote a book partially about a global conspiracy is now over, isn’t it?

So, Mr.  Montgomery was campaigning quite hard to get Hillary to run in 2016, putting together (if not releasing) some interesting ads asking people to sign a petition that Hillary would get!  Does it sounds like he really made a huge turn to the left all of a sudden?

There are accusations of e-mail sharing between his various website, a bit of a no-no.  If I’m signed up to FeelTheBern I don’t want e-mails from Deport Racism!  Not unless I deliberately sign up there, too!  But that’s petty poop.

This link contains an alleged letter from the FEC to Mr.  Montgomery informing him that he had of failed to file some receipts and other disbursements in August of 2015.  Still kind of petty poop, although this again embodies everything we should hate about the American political system.  Typically, I’d assume this ends in a fine and a, “don’t do this shit again” warning.

Except our original Anonymous accuser gets pretty specific.

Is Clinton Smearing Sanders?

Is Hillary Funding Smear Attacks?

This file from the FEC alleges that Hillary for America (Hillary’s PAC, also known as www.hillaryclinton.com) paid Correct The Record (correctrecord.org) a princely sum of over $200,000 for “research.”  Research?  Well, if Correct the Record is, as their “About” page says, a rapid-response team for attacks on Hillary, 200G’s sounds like a reasonable-ish amount.  Our Anonymous conspiracy-unveiled disagrees, saying at most there should be $90,000 for 3 months of work, but maybe the team at Correct The Record was huge.  Assuming this document is legitimate, it means CTR made some bank on some big project.  That’s all.  It’s shady that one PAC is paying another for “research,” but what can ya do, right?

The Anonymous accuser makes even further strange allegations, that Luke Montgomery works with or even owns Correct The Record.  But I am not alone in failing to find actual evidence of this claim.  The best guess one can get is that the Feel The Bern website and Correct The Record are both very similar in design.   But that’s hardly an excuse!  In fact, it’s deliberately exposing oneself to the danger of being caught out running two competing sites!

Ah.  It seems like this is, for now at least, our trail grown cold.  Perhaps I’ll go back to promoting my novel, after all, but let’s break down what we’ve got so far!

Breakdown

Luke Montgomery is like Montgomery Burns.  He’s got his hands in a lot of pots and some of them are very strange.  We’ve got Donald Trump getting “heckled” by Larry David to keep him from being heckled for real, but…

…Wait.  Larry David?  Heckling Donald Trump?  At the behest of Luke Montgomery, the Hillary Clinton fanboy who owns a Bernie Sanders site?!  Isn’t Larry David looking kind of familiar in those shots from the other night?  Yes!  He’s the guy who played Bernie Sanders in SNL’s mockery of the Democratic debate!

Holy cow!  SNL is in on the conspiracy!  Get your tinfoil and run for the hills!  Only you can decide if there is more to this than meets the eye, or if this is just a few steps on the other side of the crazy train’s tracks!

When not over-analyzing conspiracy theories with only shreds of evidence, Jesse Pohlman enjoys writing sci-fi novels.  Check out The Physics Incarnate Series on Amazon’s Kindle or on Facebook today for more intricate conspiracies that control our world!

Attacking Automated Job Application System Annoyances

Dear reader,

Today, I applied for a job.  Or, rather, I have been applying for many, since I wrote this on my old Ramble About Writing blog back in 2012.  We’ve all been there, and many of us are pretty familiar with the process.  First, we re-vamp the resume…

Wanna hire me?  I take consulting/promotional work!

Then we write up a cover-letter that tries to make us seem skilled without sounding self-centered.  Then we just hit ctrl+p, grab an envelope and a stamp, and…

No, wait, that’s not how most companies handle resumes anymore.  And why should they?  There are trees to protect!  And not to mention that there are, like, tons of people applying for each job.  Let’s start by looking at the education field:  I’ve competed against 800 people for a single, one-year-long job as a teacher.  Assuming one can even keep one’s resume down to one page (is that one too many ones?), that’s two sheets for each person.  Forget a “stack” of resumes, we’re talking about an entire crate, easy.  So, naturally, my area devised an automated resume-handling system called “On-Line Application System,” or OLAS.  If you think this article is going to complain about OLAS, you’re wrong.

The essence of an application system.

OLAS is actually a pretty well set up service, and corporations like Best Buy, Petco, and even the infamous McDonalds sport similar systems.  I’m familiar with one of the three I’ve just mentioned, as well as plenty of others representing smaller and more specialized entities like McKinsey and Thomson-Reuters, but they all have some key things in mind….

– They allow applicants to create individual log-in names.
– Under their log-in name, an applicant can upload, store, and edit their resumes.  Cover letters are standard fare.
– Search functions allow a job browser to look in their area for jobs they are qualified for.  With new jobs being added all the time, employment seekers can check in every month or so to see if something has opened up!  Eventually, that 97 year old janitor has to retire, right?
– Once an appropriate job posting is found, all the user has to do is check a box and hit “apply!”  Any necessary questions can be asked of the applicant at that time, and the resume/cover letter are automatically attached.  Confirmation is sent directly to the applicant’s e-mail address, so you know it wasn’t “lost in the mail,” and any future correspondence is handled privately.

For obvious reasons, this is a tremendous advantage to the job-seeker.  I can’t tell you how many publication packets, job applications, and other documents I’ve sent to an employer, only to have no idea whether it all made it to it’s destination, or if they ended up taking a vacation in Aruba, instead.  Having knowledge that your application was received is relieving.  That doesn’t mean it’ll be seen, and it doesn’t give you a clue of how many people are applying for the same position, but at least you know it’s there.  The point isn’t to make your odds better, it’s to make your life – and the employer’s life – a little easier.

With all of these advantages, and with all of the features that a relatively old model like OLAS has built into it, how can an application system be built wrong?  And, perhaps more importantly, what does it mean to the applicant?

 

How to mess up simple things.

Let’s start with resume storage.  OLAS is going to serve as my “go to” example of a well-designed service.  On OLAS, you’ve got a resume and a profile all your own.  It’s practically part of the signing up process, and all you need to do to update your resume is to upload a new .doc (or other acceptable format) document.  From there, any job you select and hit the “apply” button to?  Your resume is instantly sent.  This is pretty self-explanatory.  Yet today, as I was trying to upload my resume, the system I was working with worked on the premise of making you create a profile without an attached resume.  Each job you apply for? You upload your resume again and again.

Okay, so that’s annoying, but what about cover letters themselves?  Well, with the business I applied to work at today, cover letters had to be attached to the same document you were attaching your resume to.  This means that you need to create a unique file just for that job.  If six positions exist, each one just a bit different than the other, you need to make six files.  Is it any different than the old days?  Maybe not, but it’s frustrating.  It’s easy to forget to include your resume, or to send the wrong file.  OLAS, on the other hand, allows you to attach “Job-specific cover letters,” as well as a “generic” model.  You can do this independently of uploading your resume.

Let’s move on to the actual job search interface.  What I was working with today might as well have never heard of Google.  It instantly spit out 190+ jobs, with no easily-found way to narrow the search down.  When you’re looking to work at a specific location, it’s pretty ludicrous to have to flip through ten-job-per-page listings which aren’t even in alphabetical order.  OLAS?  It organizes by region, and once you select the region you need it goes to alphabetical order.  Simple, if not perfect.

Now for something that’s a personal pet peeve of any interface design, be it job applications, shopping, or whatever.  Even when you narrow your listing down to the eight jobs you might be interested in, you’re only getting the name of the job title, right?  So you want to investigate each one individually, just like you were reading each article in a newspaper.  The standard way to do this is to right-click on the link to the full description, then select “Open in new tab.”  Ordinarily, this works just fine, and you get a brand new browser tab with a full description of the job you’re planning to apply to.  With the system I worked on today?  It just opened a blank, broken tab.  So the only way to view the job is to effectively close your search out.

That’s annoying, but here’s where it gets downright frustrating.  Here’s where any reasonably intelligent person will get irked that “they” can’t get it “right.”  Let’s say, as happened to me, that you look at the first job and it’s not what you were expecting.  Maybe you clicked it by accident, and you really wanted to check out the second one in the list.  Naturally, the site has a “Back” button that takes you back to your search, right?  I mean, that’s just basic, right?  But, no, it completely re-sets your search.

So to review:  Somehow, more than ten years into the twenty-first century, these folks have made signing up to the system unnecessarily difficult; they’ve made searching for a job a frustrating exercise in repeatedly re-executing searches; and they’ve even managed to make the actual process of applying complicated.  All of this after it’s been well proven that you can design a system to handle each of these things with one or two button clicks.  And they aren’t alone.

 

If you aren’t hiring, don’t solicit.  If you are, do it right.

Now, I’m an honest guy.  In a way, I’m just complaining about simple little nuisances.  Life is about getting through these simple little nuisances.  Certainly a job is about getting through the rough patches in order to enjoy the good ones!  And when you’re only looking to apply to one or two jobs, these kind of nuisances really don’t seem like a big deal.

But here’s why it’s just not right.  Let’s use our imagination.

You’re a job applicant.  You’re looking for a new career, and you’re serious.  So you are searching high and low, applying wherever you can.  You’ve spent a couple hours fixing things up on your resume and practicing your cover letter writing.  Now it’s time for you to search.  It takes you ten minutes to find a suitable job.  You need another ten minutes to initiate the process of applying.  That’s twenty minutes.  You attempt to return to the previous search, but it’s cancelled out; you need another ten minutes to find another job to apply to.  Then, because of poor design, you need to repeat the laundry list of application requirements; another ten minutes.

Instead of applying to two jobs in twenty minutes, your pace is now cut to one in twenty; or, two in forty.  Now you want to apply to a third.  Let’s assume you’re better prepared to face the technical nightmare, so you cut the application and search processes in half.  You’ve now taken fifty minutes to apply to three jobs.  To apply to a fourth requires another ten – that’s 4 jobs in one hour.  That’s a lot of time, time you could be spending on your family or a hobby or on taking care of chores.

“So what?  Deal with it!” is the usual response.  “Everyone else has to put up with it, too, so just do it” is the other one.  Here’s why that’s a bad mindset, both from the applicant’s perspective, as well as the businesses’.

As the applicant, you’re sitting here dealing with this annoying process that’s soaking up your time, right?  Well, you could easily just go…Apply to a different business!  Yes!  After all, if your initial impression of your potential employer is that they are so inept they can’t even design a system that’s convenient (or pay someone else to do it), how are you going to take them seriously as a place to build a career?  Time Magazine addresses these kinds of issues in an article about “top employees,” and is it any wonder that one of the reasons a super-star might not be happy with their employer is “under-utilization?”  Or that another one is “condoning mediocrity?”  If you’re a business looking to hire skilled workers, shouldn’t your application system demonstrate some skill?


The business of business is good business.

Let’s get back to the business’ perspective.  You want the best candidates, right?  So you want to make it as convenient and painless as possible for applicants to apply, just like you’d make shopping at your store as simple as you can to make your clients happy!  Yes, you might get eight hundred applications, and you might even get eight hundred well qualified candidates, but isn’t that better than getting zero?  Oh, and here’s another thing; chances are that if your application system scares off an applicant, they’re still looking for a job in the field that you do business in, right?  What happens when your competition starts getting the best recruits?

Imagine if Amazon made it tough to hire visionary designers, and they chose to work at Barnes and Noble instead.  I know, crazy, right?  I mean, given how the website Deadline reports B&N’s fiscal results, clearly it’s already lost that war, yeah?  But only because Amazon had those designers in the first place.  That edge is not guaranteed.  If Amazon treated its employees like crap, and – as a company reputed to be tech-savvy – made it’s employment system look like it was slapped together by a drunk ape, chances are it would stop getting good recruits.

Instead, they’d start getting good competition.  And not in the “friendly chess game” kind of competition.

Thoughts on the Ongoing Israeli Military Action

Since its very inception, Israel has been up against attackers from all directions.  In more recent memory, it has had to fend off missile attacks from the terrorist group Hamas, a group which controls the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian territory in the south-west of the country.  I’m all for Israel defending itself; my question has always been, “how?” I absolutely believe Israel shouldn’t have to live with lunatics lobbing rockets into their cities, but the devil is in the details.  Just what is Israel supposed to do?  Ideally, it should be seeking a lasting peace with its Palestinian neighbors, but let’s examine the tactics it has employed, instead:

The current Israeli administration has hardly taken its peace talks with its Palestinian counterparts seriously.  Their Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has all but overtly refused to endorse a two-state solution to this ongoing conflict.  Israel has gone so far as to tap U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s phone, a reprehensible act (that we do to other leaders) and a clear show of bad faith.  The Gaza Blockade, designed to choke Hamas, hasn’t helped; just like our embargo against Cuba doesn’t actually hurt the Castros, it has starved and strangled civilians for years. Israel settlers have continued to invade occupied Palestinian territory. Multiple invasions of Gaza have led only to massive civilian deaths; in many cases, they were easily avoidable. Is it any wonder Hamas still has power there? Maybe it’s because the local population only sees Israel as the people starving them, as the people blowing up shelters it claims are safe, and the people refusing to negotiate in good faith!

Now, Netanyahu is talking about Hamas paying an “intolerable price” for attacking Israel. Cool! How will he make sure Hamas is the one paying it?  Depending on who you ask, the answer might horrify you.  Yochanan Gordon, a writer who had an Op-Ed in the Times of Israel, literally stated:  “If political leaders and military experts determine that the only way to achieve its goal of sustaining quiet is through genocide is it then permissible to achieve those responsible goals?” Once the (if I may be forgiven for violating Godwin’s Law) Nazi-esque propaganda Mr. Gordon published drew the international condemnation it deserved, it was removed from the Times of Israel’s page, and he has since apologized.  Nevertheless, we are still left with the question: What, then, are Netanyahu’s ideas of an ‘intolerable price?’

The Gaza blockade, courtesy of Wikipedia

The Gaza blockade, courtesy of Wikipedia

At least 1,500 Palestinians have died in this current round of fighting, most of whom are civilians.  Gazans are starving, and their only power plant was destroyed (Fortunately, the United States insured it, so we U.S. taxpayers get to pay to rebuild it!).  Will Netanyahu get a safe Israel out of this behavior?  Ask yourself:  Does anyone in their right mind believe that the children who are watching their friends and family suffer and die will grow up without a hatred for Israel buried in their hearts?  Would you so readily forgive a nation if it invaded your city and killed those around you?  Put a third way:  Do you believe those who lost family members and friends in the September 11th attacks would have been happy to live side-by-side with Al Qaeda?

This isn’t a defense of Hamas.  Hamas is an evil organization, and it is sickening that Gazans haven’t already thrown them out of power.  These are the assholes who hide rockets in schools, prompting Israel’s attacks upon them.  That doesn’t make Israel right – it just makes Hamas’ evil instincts clear.  On the other hand, from the average citizen’s perspective, Hamas are the ones who build tunnels to smuggle material goods (as well as guns) into Gaza.  They provide the police.  They can be seen shooting at the Israelis who invade Gaza, and they have Israel playing exactly the game they want them to:  “Come get us if you can find us, and don’t kill too many children on the way there!”  I find it pitiful that Gazans haven’t thrown Hamas out on its ass, yet, but at the same time I can understand their rationale.  Why would you part ways with the only group that seems to maybe have an interest in helping you?

Therein lies the problem.  So long as Israel makes it a habit of invading and destroying huge chunks of the Gaza Strip, so long as it refuses to negotiate a lasting peace with Palestine, and so long as it allows illegal settlement of Palestinian territory, groups like Hamas will appeal to the Palestinians who don’t believe there is any hope of peace.  When a Palestinian parent reads an article like Yochanan Gordon’s, he believes his children’s lives are under an existential threat.  If you recognize that term, it’s because Israel has so often claimed that Hamas, or Iran, or someone is the Existential Threat to them.  And how does Israel respond to these Existential Threats?

Just look at Gaza.  Now you see the shit’s depth.  And, yet, today another UNRWA school in the Gaza Strip was bombed, despite that organization’s boss, Robert Turner, saying that the Israeli Defense Force receives daily updates on what sites are being used as shelters.  3,000 people may have been taking shelter there, some of whom are now dead or wounded.  Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, when asked why Israel is eschewing peace talks on this issue, responded by asking “What’s the point?

The point, ambassador, is that Israel has a right to self-defense.  It does not, however, exclude Palestine from having one.  Unfortunately, Israel’s military invasion of the Gaza Strip has left Hamas looking, to Gazans, like the only people fighting to protect them.  Increasingly, as school after school housing civilians gets bombed by Israel, it stops being about Israel’s right to defend itself – and starts being about the unacceptability of its attacking a civilian population.

I hold my friends to a high standard, and as I’ve always viewed myself to be a friend of Israel, I’ve always believed they can do better.  If they continue to prove to me that they can’t – if they keep killing civilians and refusing to even try to negotiate a truce – then I, one lone voice in the crowd, will stop supporting them.  Fortunately, as The Economist points out, I’m far from alone in this opinion.

Dystopian Review: Persepolis and the Iranian Revolution

Hello, everyone!

I just created another Dystopian Review video to examine Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, a graphic novel and autobiography about her experiences growing up around the Iranian Revolution.  It’s a long video, indeed, but it’s worth the effort as I cover the Iranian Revolution, as well!  If you’re a history, politics, or just-general-information buff, this one’s for you!

If you’d like, you can pop the video out of this tab and scroll down to read the original Dystopian Review article from my days as a writer for Suite101.  Enjoy!

 

Dystopian Review: Persepolis

 

http://barclayagency.com/satrapi.html

In today’s world, we hardly think of revolutions as something happening right next door.  Oh, sure, there’s some third-world country undergoing one some time or another, and there was that big “Arab Spring” we heard about a couple years ago, but it’s not like there’s actively any chance of our country radically changing its political ideology any time soon, right?  Considering I couldn’t possibly know what country you’re reading from, well, there’s a good chance I’m just coming up with a clever opening line!

The reason for this line is Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, a graphic novel which is really more of an autobigraphy.  Written in 2002, and it’s a rather good reason.  Persepolis is a rather unusual bit, as some of the details of Satrapi’s tale are most certainly skewed in order to protect those of her family who still live in the nation now known as Iran.  As Satrapi illustrates, they have already suffered quite enough.

 

The Price of Revolution

As I sit here with my copy of “The Complete Persepolis,” the first thing which greets me is the introduction.  It discusses some ancient history, up to and including how the nation of Iran gained its current name.  It is a story most Americans are likely unfamiliar with, as Satrapi explains:  “This old and great civilization hs been discussed mostly in connection with fundamentalism, fanaticism, and terrorism.”  It’s hard to argue that the political narrative has been to generalize Iran’s goals; here’s just one example of an Israeli minister stating that Iran wants Israel, well, dead.  Considering some of the riddiculous things its leaders have said, this isn’t an entirely unreasonable perspective save for one critically important point:  Iran is not a nation consisting solely of a bunch of priests and a whack-a-mole president, but rather a country made up of millions of people who do not want war.

Satrapi’s story begins with her youth, and in particular her days as a child living under the pre-revolutionary government.  Back then, the Shah ruled over the country; and, as Satrapi’s parents duly elucidate, there is much more to the background of the Iranian revolution than the simple rise of Islamic extremism.  That fanatic viewpoint just happened to be the victor of a much larger cultural struggle which took place, overthrowing the Western-backed Shah.  Did I say Western-backed?  Well, the Shah only came to power after the deposition of Mohammed Mossadeq in 1953; the Iranian Prime Minister who just happened to want to nationalize Iran’s oil resources.  It’s rather well established fact that America and Britain helped to perpetrate this coup, and Satrapi reasonably argues that it was the Shah’s poor, even cruel governance which sparked the revolution in the first place.

Still, while this may be the first lesson Persepolis puts forth, it’s far from the last.  It doesn’t even try to argue that the ultimate victors were somehow better than the previous rulers.  Far from it, the very first page of artwork condemns the fanatic viewpoint.  In fact, Marjane even make clear that the views her parents held about social classes and rulership were, themselves, occasionally hypocritical.  What’s more, things always seemed to get worse; the second Shah was worse than the first, and the Islamic government was worse than the Shah!

Ultimately, the story has a happy-ish ending.  Marjane eventually leaves Iran, sent to a foreign school due to her refusal to conform.  She experiences Western culture, freedoms, and weed!  Wait, you thought that’s the ending?  Nonsense!  Eventually, she returns to Iran after some time in the West; the revolution’s passionate fires had died down somewhat, but oppression was still rampant.  She does eventually return to the West again, of her own volition, but she never fully assimilates to the Western style of life, either.

And therein lies the message.

 

Persepolis shines a light into darkness

While Satrapi certainly lived in a rather Dystopian situation, there is one underlying fact which need to be remembered:  The entire world is not so bad.  Persepolis was written to stand in defiance of the generalization of Iran as a nation composed mostly of lunatics.  Yes, there are bad people; yes, there is a police state; yes, good people die for infinitisimal crimes like satire!  But her message is that most Iranians are not in step with this system, at least not completely, and that there is truly more to her homeland than meets the Western eye.

On one hand, it is easy to compare this story to  Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.  Both feature oppressed female protagonists who live in defiance of the regieme controlling them, and both tales include characters sympathetic towards her.  These are not the raging hordes of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.  If one critical difference between the two novels is that between autobiography and fiction, than the second must surely be the devilish details of the message.

Satrapi’s story humanizes an often-dehumanized society, while revealing that it is still incredibly flawed.  It’s a must read for anyone who wants to even begin to understand the insidious nature of religious fundimentalism, while simultaneously demonstrating how – when the time is right, one day – there could indeed be a revolution in the streets of Tehran once more, one that a cruel police state will once more fail to prevent.  Or, perhaps, any city, if needed!  But, until then, Persia’s legacy will live on only as a footnote – forgotten and replaced by a dark conjuration of extremism.

An Open Letter To The FCC: Save Net Neutrality!

You might not be aware of this, but you’re reading this article on the internet.  Okay, you probably knew that; what you didn’t know is that the very nature of the internet is under attack.  The reason you can load my webpage as fast as you can load Amazon or Google is because of a legal and regulatory concept called “Net Neutrality.”  The idea is that the Federal Communications Commission, which governs telecommunications devices such as radio, TV broadcasts, and phone networks, required all internet service providers to treat data flowing through their cables equally, regardless of the source.  Verizon, among other companies (especially Comcast), has led the charge on eliminating this rule; Comcast and Verizon have already used shady pretexts of “peering” to coerce Netflix into paying them what amounts to a tithe so that their data can reach consumers at reasonable speeds.

Now, creative and digital types have talked about this for a while, but the truth is that there’s a lot of abstract terminology and regulation involved.  The media has generally failed to get a hold on it until, well, until now:  John Oliver, host of Last Week Tonight (and one of the best-ever The Daily Show correspondents and substitute-hosts, never forget), did an amazing job describing this issue.  It’s thirteen minutes long, but Oliver is a hilarious gentleman who will make it both educational and fun!  And, no, I’m not lying to trick you into watching.

I did exactly as Mr.  Oliver asked.  Well, first I went to the FCC’s website, got the phone number for their boss, and called them!  Then, I visited the FCC’s commentary system, which by the way is archaic (ancient (really fucking outdated)) and posted a comment.  This could easily qualify as a topic for a Dystopian Review video, which I might give a shot at making.  I dunno.  However, if that doesn’t get done, since my comment is already in the public domain, well,  here it is!  Feel free to basically cut/and/paste it when you comment, though I’d like to be credited if you do so.  Just cuz it’s a just cause!

 

 My Open Letter To The FCC

 

To: Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC; the larger body of FCC employees; the rest of the country and the rest of the world!

I know you’re overwhelmed, so I’ll make this very simple, ladies and gentlemen. I’m a 29 year old writer from Long Island, in New York. I’m an independent author. Most of my sales come from electronic books distributed via Kindle. I am, with some caveats, the definition of a “start-up” enterprise. What I do would not be possible without an open internet; Amazon’s rise would not have been possible without an open internet; our whole modern economy would not be possible without, well, you get the idea – an open internet!

There’s more: The government, which is by/of/for the people, paid for the research that ultimately led to such services as ARPANET. In one ethical viewpoint, the internet is already ours – we paid for it! But, that’s unrealistic, so let’s instead turn to the inscrutable source which is Wikipedia: It claims that in 1993, the internet carried 1% of all telecommunicated information. In 2000, it carried 51%, and by 2007 it carried 97% of all telecommunicated information. Since that wikipedia article cites a study by Martin Hilbert and Priscilla Lopez, “The world’s technological capability to store, communicate, and compute information,” published in Science Magazine in April of 2011, I’d wager it’s a legitimate argument.

Therefore, it’s safe to conclude: At least 90% of all that telecommunications companies do is part of the internet. It follows that, for lack of a better term, the internet is telecommunications. Guess what? That makes administering it your job. Perhaps “Commissioning” is a better word? I’ll leave to the side the numerous studies showing that, under your stewardship, our quality-of-internet has plummeted, and that most of our telecommunications companies have carved out little fiefdoms which clearly violate whatever anti-trust statues are on the books. I’m sure you’ve been linked to enough clips of John Oliver citing them to get the point.

But, here’s mine: We paid for it, we paid for it again when we bought a subscription to our cable company, and we pay you to keep it working in a fair manner. The concepts of “net neutrality” and “open internet” are vague and easy for people, even myself, to not quite “get.” However, since you’re the experts here, you know what your job is: Get it right. That’s all the majority of us ask: Get it right.

Regulate telecommunication companies like you would regulate any other public utility, because I can guarantee you that it is easier to disconnect from your local water utility by setting up rain collection buckets than it is to disconnect from your local internet service provider and get any kind of service. I mean, that’s the whole point of utility regulation, right? People need things like electricity, water, and telephones (which are telecommunication devices, themselves).

Regulate them the right way because it’s the right thing to do.

 

My warmest regards,

–Jesse Pohlman