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First POST: Hoodwinking

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, March 18 2015


  • Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) writes in Politico that we shouldn't allow government to "crash" the Internet party. It's worth reading his op-ed if you want the full gist of the current disinformation campaign against net neutrality. Rubio claims the FCC is going to "play favorites" with Internet service providers, which is like saying SEC plays favorites with stock brokers by requiring them to play by the same rules. He also claims the Internet "is a place…[not] unlike a city or town"--which it is not, it is a set of protocols. And finally, he argues that "it belongs in the hands of our people," which is a welcome sentiment that completely elides the fact that most of it runs thru pipes owned by avaricious monopolists.

  • Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker, the Governor of Wisconsin, has hired veteran GOP strategist (and PDM friend) Liz Mair to lead his online communications team, Chris Moody reports for CNN. Mair had previously worked with Walker during the recall fight of 2012.

  • A bipartisan group called Change the Rule is asking the Commission on Presidential Debates to open a new pathway for an independent or third-party presidential slate to be included, Politico's Daniel Lippman reports. The current arbitrary standard set by the unofficial commission, which has been historically run by allies of the two major parties (and which the League of Women Voters withdrew from in 1988, calling it "a fraud" and a "hoodwinking" of the American people) is 15 percent in national polls.

  • In its letter to the commission, Change the Rule is suggesting that a slate that has qualified on enough state ballots to win 270 electoral votes be considered, based on how many petition signatures it has collected. Change the Rule's members lean distinctively to the moderate center-right, with many supposedly apolitical figures from the so-called "Defense Industrial Base." Among the 50 signers: former independent presidential candidate John Anderson, former Democratic presidential candidate Bruce Babbitt, Admiral Dennis Blair, General Michael Hayden, former Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, former Senator Bob Kerrey, Senator Angus King (I-ME), former Senator Joe Lieberman, and former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd-Whitman. It's fascinating how many of these people are worried, as their letter notes, that "Sixty-two percent of Americans do not think the federal government has the consent of the governed, and 86% feel the political system is broken and does not serve the interests of
    the American people."

  • Wanna get in on those White House pool reports? Gawker's Adam Pash has built a tool that is automatically publishing them to Public Pool and you can follow this Twitter account for updates when new reports go up. In them you can get all the juicy details of such things as yesterday's White House St. Patrick's Day festivities.

  • On the 30th anniversary of Richard Stallman's GNU Manifesto, calling for the development of free software, The New Yorker's Maria Bustillos takes a close look at the impact of his ideas.

  • The sentencing of a Tunisian blogger to six months in jail for criticizing military officials has free speech proponents there worried that the one country whose "Arab spring" seems to have led to a more open society appears to be moving backwards, reports Evelyn Crunden for

  • CORRECTED LINKS from yesterday's First POST: Trolling the political press, Vox founder Ezra Klein writes that Al Gore should run for President in 2016. And, in Fast Company, Max Chafkin explains how Y Combinator decided to give a shot to the radical democracy activists Pia Mancini and Santiago Siri of Argentina and their DemocracyOS deliberation platform.