I attended a holiday party today and heard Washington State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles expound on her intention to introduce new legislation concerning broadband deployment in Washington.  Kohl-Welles’ bill comes from Progressive States Network.  Progressive States Network is financed in part by the Communications Workers of America (CWA),  and telecom companies. The two are linked: CWA has historically worked to maintain the monopoly status of the telecom oligarchs, and most recently has operated fake grassroots front groups and sock puppet think tanks to help sink genuine progressive legislation that would bring competition to the telecom sector.  Although Kohl-Welles attributes her legislation to PSN, her bills do not reflect the values and policies described in the PSN platform.  

Kohl-Welles is heavily supported by the telecoms, notably Comcast, Verizon and Qwest, the three companies operating in Washington State.  In the last session of the state legislature, Kohl-Welles introduced and passed a telecom-drafted bill that rendered data collected regarding broadband deployment and penetration out-of-bounds to the public.  Asked about the bill, Kohl-Welles says that no legislation can be passed without the support of the telecom companies, so there is no point in even trying. See the link above for Art Brodsky’s play-by-play account of the same tactics when used in Maryland.

Kohl-Welles is a fan of the widely discredited Connect Kentucky and Connected Nation programs, crediting them with increasing broadband by 40%!  At the National Media Reform Conference in June 208, she made a fool of herself describing the miracles attributable to Connected Nation and its progeny.  Unfortunately for her, in the audience was Art Brodsky of Public Knowledge, one of the most important critics of Connected Nation (but not the only one.)  Brodsky outed Kohl-Welles, but she continues to peddle telecom propanganda, in return for their lucrative junkets around the US.  If you Google ‘Connected Nation’ you will find an entire genre of literature outing this group and their clever tactics.  

The Reconstruction government has announced plans to introduce federal legislation that would require truthful, accurate broadband statistical data. Expect to hear Kohl-Welles and others complain about the need for a state level opt-out, so that Connected Nation, CWA, and the telecom oligarchs don’t lose the battles they have already won.

The fine people at Juicy Planet asked me for a recommendation. Which of the three presidential candidates has the best policy positions and experience for activists concerned about the future of the Internet, technology policy, and America’s poor quality broadband deployment. I would add to these issues our policies concerning intellectual property, civil rights and free speech in cyberspace, and bridging the digital divide.

Two of my friends I look to for advice and inspiration have posted their choices to thier blogs. Larry Lessig has come out strongly for Barack Obama. Lessig is one of my intellectual inspirations for his attempts to translate very complicated legal and technical issues into language for the lay public in his several books. Even better, most of Lessig’s book are available for free for your enjoyment under the Creative Commons license. I won’t repeat Larry’s endorsement here, but you can read it for your here.

Kevin Werbach is another acquaintance I hold in high regard. Kevin also came out strongly for Obama in his blog, here. I don’t always agree with Werbach, but mostly I do. Kevin, a former FCC staffer, consistently issues some of the best articles on the subject. I think that Kevin spent too many years in DC, and he occasionally puts too much faith in the ‘free market’ to solve problems that are really going to need direct regulation. Kevin got back on my good list when he recently my prescription that net neutrality will require direct regulation of interconnection.

But the campaign isn’t just among Democrats. So who would be the best candidate in the general election in November? By way of reverse endorsement, the lobbyists for the telecom and cable oligarchs recently conducted a conference to consider their future under a new president. Looking at all three candidates, the bad boys decided that Hillary Clinton would be their choice to keep things shitty and continue funneling taxpayer and consumer dollars to their managers. Clinton beats McCain, at least if you are a monopoly industrialist!

The Clinton administration was a disaster for American technology development, Internet infrastructure, intellectual property policy, and positioning the country for the 21st Century. Clinton idiots like Ira Magiziner and Reed Hundt had no idea what they ere doing, and in typical Clinton fashion, were too arrogant to listen to anyone who does. The damage they did wasn’t always apparent until after they left office. But if Hillary is promising us more of Bill, we don’t need it and I can’t take anymore.

In my opinion, Obama has the most detailed and rational technology policy portfolio. That’s important to me; it says he understands that this is an important campaign issue. Even if other issues are front burner during the primaries, technology policy and the future of the Internet will be, in my opinion, an important issue in the general election. This election is likely to be the most in my generation. If we get it wrong, the fuure of the US and my future is wrecked. If we get it right, and that means Obama, we have a chance, just a chance, of a future with some opportunity, economic justice, happiness, and comfort.