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Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

1521   Martin Luther is excommunicated from the catholic cult.  
1777   General George Washington defeats the British led by British General Lord Charles Cornwallis, at Princeton, New Jersey.
1861   Delaware rejects a proposal that it join the South in seceding from the Union.
1903   The Bulgarian government renounces the Treaty of Commerce tying it to the Austro-Hungarian empire.  
1910   The Social Democratic Congress in Germany demands universal suffrage.  
1912   Plans are announced for a new $150,000 Brooklyn stadium for the Trolley Dodgers baseball team.  
1916   Three armored Japanese cruisers are ordered to guard the Suez Canal.  
1920   The last of the U.S. troops depart France.  
1921   Italy halts the issuing of passports to those emigrating to the United States.  
1924   King Tutankhamen's sarcophagus is uncovered near Luxor, Egypt.
1930   The second conference on Germany's war reparations begins at the Hague, in the Netherlands.
1931   Hundreds of farmers storm a small town in depression-plagued Arkansas demanding food.  
1933   The Japanese take Shuangyashan, China, killing 500 Chinese.
1946   President Harry S. Truman calls on Americans to spur Congress to act on the on-going labor crisis.  
1958   The British create the West Indies Federation with Lord Hailes as governor general.  
1959   Alaska is admitted into the Union as the 49th and largest state.  
1959   Fidel Castro takes command of the Cuban army.  
1961   The United States breaks diplomatic relations with Cuba.  
1966   Cambodia warns the United Nations of retaliation unless the United States and South Vietnam end intrusions.
1977   Apple Computers incorporates.  
1978   North Vietnamese troops reportedly occupy 400 square miles in Cambodia. North Vietnamese Army (NVA) troops were using Laos and Cambodia as staging areas for attacks against allied forces.  
1985   President Ronald Reagan condemns a rash of arson attacks on abortion clinics.  
1990   Manuel Noriega, former leader of Panama, surrenders to US forces.  
1993   The shrub's daddy and Boris Yeltsin sign the second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).  
1994   More than 7 million people receive South African citizenship that had previously been denied under Apartheid policies.
1996   The first mobile flip phone, the Motorola StarTAC, goes on sale.
1999   Mars Polar Lander launched.  
2000   The last original weekday Peanuts comic strip is published after a 50-year run, following the death of the strip's creator, Charles Schultz.

2015 is Year of the Sunflower

Celebrate the Year of the Sunflower with beautiful images and fun facts about the yellow beauties.

5 Ways To Annoy repugicans: Fact-Checking ronny raygun

by Samuel Warde
Ronny Raygun is considered by the neo-wingnut lunatic fringe (teabaggers) as their champion. But as history shows, this supposed hero would never have made it in today’s repugican cabal.
It’s about time they quit rewriting history in an effort to cling to that false premise – and move into the light of reality.
We have broken down Raygun’s historic record into five areas that are in direct conflict with current wingnut dogma, providing 5 ways to annoy repugicans.
1. Gun Control
“I do not believe in taking away the right of the citizen for sporting, for hunting and so forth, or for home defense. But I do believe that an AK-47, a machine gun, is not a sporting weapon or needed for defense of a home.”
~Ronny Raygun, at his birthday celebration in 1989.
As governor of California, Ronny Raygun signed the Mulford Act, which prohibited the carrying of firearms on your person, in your vehicle, and in any public place or on the street, and he also signed off on a 15-day waiting period for firearm purchases. “There’s no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons,” Raygun said at the time, according to Salon.com.
In 1986 as president, he signed into law the Firearm Owners Protection Act, which “banned ownership of any fully automatic rifles that were not already registered on the day the law was signed.”
After leaving the presidency, he supported the passage of the Brady bill that established by federal law a nationwide, uniform standard of a 7-day waiting period for the purchase of handguns to enable background checks on prospective buyers.
In 1991 Raygun wrote an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times stating his support for the Brady Bill and noted that if the Brady Bill had been in effect earlier, he never would have been shot. He also urged the shrub's daddy to drop his opposition to the bill and lobbied other members of Congress to support the bill.
In 1994 Raygun wrote to Congress urging them to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of military-style assault weapons.
2. Taxes
Raygun passed massive tax cuts his first year in office, but then reversed many of them when he signed into law the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA). Former Raygun advisor Bruce Bartlett wrote in 2003 that “according to a recent Treasury Department study, TEFRA alone raised taxes by almost 1 percent of the gross domestic product, making it the largest peacetime tax increase in American history.” [1]
And we cannot forget that when he was governor of California, Raygun signed into law the largest tax increase in the history of any state up until that point in an effort to balance the budget. Once, Raygun raised taxes seven out of eight of his years in office — including four times in just two years for a total of 12 times. And one cannot forget that all but two of the budgets he submitted to Congress proposed more spending than Congress sent back to him to sign. Moreover, Raygun also backed a $3.3 billion gasoline tax and he bailed out the Social Security program to the tune of $165 billion.
Additionally, Raygun and Barack Obama agree, nearly word-for-word, on taxing the rich and closing tax loopholes.
Raygun made the remarks below in a June 6, 1985 speech at Atlanta’s Northside High School, while campaigning for a broad tax-reform proposal that ended up passing in 1986.
“We’re going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that have allowed some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share. In theory, some of those loopholes were understandable, but in practice they sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying ten percent of his salary, and that’s crazy. […] Do you think the millionaire ought to pay more in taxes than the bus driver, or less?”
A few weeks later, in Chicago Heights, Illinois, Raygun expounded on his belief that tax reform was needed because it was wrong to let millionaires and corporations pay taxes at lower rates than working people. He also tells a story about a letter from a business executive that may sound familiar:
“The result is that workers sometimes find themselves paying higher taxes than the giant corporations they work for, and hardworking families have to struggle under a growing tax burden while the special interests get a free ride. Now, we’re not against big corporations—they provide many of the jobs, goods, and services that keep America strong. It’s the system that’s unfair, and that’s what we’re going to change.
3. Deficit Spending / Debt Ceiling
What about the debt ceiling? Raygun’s viewpoints there were crystal clear. In a November 1983 letter to then-Senate Majority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. (r-Tenn.), Raygun warned that without a higher debt ceiling, the country could be forced to default for the first time in its history.  Raygun wrote:
“This country now possesses the strongest credit in the world. The full consequences of a default – or even the serious prospect of default – by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate. Denigration of the full faith and credit of the United States would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and the value of the dollar in exchange markets. The Nation can ill afford to allow such a result. The risks, the costs, the disruptions, and the incalculable damage lead me to but one conclusion: the Senate must pass this legislation before the Congress adjourns.”
Raygun discussed the severe necessity of the United States meeting its obligations in regards to dealing with the national debt ceiling in a radio address on September 26, 1987, noting in part:
“Unfortunately, Congress consistently brings the government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility. This brinkmanship threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veterans benefits. Interest rates would skyrocket, instability would occur in financial markets, and the federal deficit would soar. The United States has a special responsibility to itself and the world to meet its obligations. It means we have a well-earned reputation for reliability and credibility — two things that set us apart from much of the world.”
Raygun biographer Lou Cannon was asked by Politifact about Raygun’s comments on raising the debt ceiling and avoiding default. He responded that presidents have traditionally supported raising the debt ceiling, regardless of party affiliation. He also noted that Raygun had a strong sense that the nation’s creditworthiness was important stating:
“On matters like extending the full faith and credit of the government, on paying its bills, Raygun was a real wingnut, in the old sense. Most of the true wingnuts in those days wouldn’t have considered defaulting on their debts.”
Raygun ended up raising the debt ceiling 18 times during his junta.
4. Terrorism
Raygun appeased terrorists during his junta, ignoring their atrocities and spending taxpayer dollars to train, arm, equip, fund and overall coddle islamist mujahedin fighters in Afghanistan for his proxy war with the Soviets. He is also in large part directly responsible for making a terrorist kingpin out of Osama Bin Laden.
There is also the sticky case of Iran-Contra Affair. The Majority Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran-Contra Affair, released on November 18, 1987, like the Tower Commission, criticized Raygun for his blunders and his lack of oversight:
“The President himself told the public that the U.S. Government had no connection to the Hasenfus airplane. He told the public that early reports of arms sales for hostages had ‘no foundation.’ He told the public that the United States had not traded arms for hostages. He told the public that the United States had not condoned the arms sales by Israel to Iran, when in fact he had approved them and signed a Finding, later destroyed by Poindexter, recording his approval. All of these statements by the President were wrong.
5. Immigration / Amnesty
“I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and who have lived here even though sometime back they may have entered illegally.”
Who can forget that Raygun granted amnesty to aliens as president, giving citizenship to over three million illegals living in the USA with the stroke of a pen, a position antithetical to current repugican cabal ideology.
As NPR reported earlier this month, back in 1986,
“Ronny Raygun signed a sweeping immigration reform bill into law. It was sold as a crackdown: There would be tighter security at the Mexican border, and employers would face strict penalties for hiring undocumented workers. But the bill also made any immigrant who’d entered the country before 1982 eligible for amnesty — a word not usually associated with the father of modern wingnuttery.


The law granted amnesty to nearly 3 million illegal immigrants, yet was largely considered unsuccessful because the strict sanctions on employers were stripped out of the bill for passage.”
In his farewell address as pretender, Raygun envisioned America as a city on a hill: “And if there had to be city walls,” he said. “The walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.” Strong words from the idol of those who now want to build even taller, electrified walls.
“If you look at my father and you just knew him as governor — raised taxes, signed an abortion bill, no-fault divorce, and a few other things — today, the argument against him would come from the right, not from the left.”
~ Michael Raygun, speaking to Faux News, September 27, 2011
Dana Milbank writes of the teabaggers and Raygun for the Washington Post on July 19, 2011:
Nobody knows what Raygun, who died in 2004, would make of the current fight over the debt limit. But 100 years after Raygun’s birth, it’s clear that the teabagger repugicans have little regard for the policies of the pretender they claim to venerate.

The teabagger repugicans call a vote to raise the debt ceiling a threat to their very existence; Raygun presided over 18 increases in the debt ceiling during his junta.

The teabagger repugicans say they would sooner default on the national debt than raise taxes; Raygun agreed to raise taxes 11 times.
Writing for Washington Monthly the next day, Steve Brenen summarized the teabaggers’s relationship with Raygun. He writes that the teabagger agenda
[W]ould have made Raygun’s entire agenda impossible, including the military buildup that wingnuts credit with winning the Cold War.
I continue to find this fascinating because of the striking disconnect between repugicans’ principles and their understanding of history. On the one hand, repugicans have a religious-like reverence for “Ronaldus Magnus”; on the other, they have no use for his approach to governance.
It’s comparable to evangelical christians holding out jesus as their model for salvation and perfection, only to ignore fesus’ commitment to protecting the poor and less fortunate.
Benen goes on to note that “it’s time the mainstream starts to realize that this is no longer the cabal of Raygun.”
The evidence has become overwhelming. Two weeks ago, a House repugican went so far as to dismiss Raygun as a “moderate, former liberal” who “would never be elected today.” Mike Huckabee said two months ago, “Ronny Raygun would have a very difficult, if not impossible, time being nominated in this atmosphere of the repugican cabal.” Lindsey Graham (r-S.C.) had a nearly identical take last year, arguing Raygun “would have a hard time getting elected as a repugican today.”

I agree, but shouldn’t that tell the political world something about the radicalism of today’s repugican cabal? What should repugicans take away from the fact that, by 2011 standards, their cabal would dismiss their demigod as a tax-raising, amnesty-loving, pro-bailout, cut-and-run, big-government Democrat?

There's a Big Anniversary This January That the christian wingnuts Don't Want You to Know About

An important turning point in the separation of cult and state happened in January, 1786.
In the heat of our political moment, we sometimes don’t see how our future connects deeply to our past. But the christian wingnuts do — and they do not like what they see.
The christian wingnuts hve made religious freedom the ideological phalanx of their current campaigns in the culture wars. Religious freedom is now invoked as a way of seeking to derail access to reproductive health services as well as equality for LGBTQ people, most prominently regarding marriage equality.
But history provides little comfort for the theocratic visions of the christian winguts. And that is where our story begins.
For all of the shouting about religious liberty — from the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case, to the passage of the anti-gay Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Mississippi, and more — there is barely any mention, let alone any observance, of the official national Religious Freedom Day, enacted by Congress in 1992 and recognized every January 16 by an annual presidential proclamation.
The day commemorates the enactment of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786.
Why is this seemingly obscure piece of Revolutionary-era legislation so vital? And why don’t the christian wingnuts want you to know anything about it?
The bill, authored by Thomas Jefferson and later pushed through the state legislature by then member of the House of Delegates, James Madison, is regarded as the root of how the framers of the Constitution approached matters of religion and government, and it was as revolutionary as the era in which it was written.
It not only disestablished the anglican cult as the official state cult, but it provided that no one can be compelled to attend any religious institution or to underwrite it with taxes; that individuals are free to believe as they will and that this “shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”
As a practical matter, this meant that what we believe or don’t believe is not the concern of government and that we are all equal as citizens.
Following the dramatic passage of the Statute in 1786, Madison traveled to Philadelphia, where he served as a principal author of the Constitution in 1787. As a Member of Congress in 1789 he was also a principal author of the First Amendment, which passed in 1791.
Jefferson was well aware that many did not like the Statute, just as they did not like the Constitution and the First Amendment, both of which sought to expand the rights of citizens and deflect claims of cults seeking special consideration.
So before his death, Jefferson sought to get the last word on what it meant. The Statute, he wrote, contained “within the mantle of its protection, the jew and the gentile, the christian and mohametan, the hindoo and infidel of every denomination.”
That is a powerful and clear statement. Jefferson, almost 200 years ago, refuted the contemporary claims of christian wingnut leaders, many of whom not only insist that America was founded as a christian nation, but that the framers really meant their particular interpretation of christianity. (And they are sometimes encouraged by a surprisingly wide array of pundits.)
Jefferson further explained that the legislature had specifically rejected proposed language that would have described “jesus christ” as “the holy author of our religion.” This was rejected, he reported, “by the great majority.”
No wonder the christian wingnuts do not want us to remember the original Statute for Religious Freedom — it doesn’t fit their narrative of history! Nor does it justify their vision of the struggles of the political present, or the shining theocratic future they envision.
Religious Freedom Day is nothing but bad news for the likes ofrReligio-wingnut leaders like Tony Perkins, who argue that christians who favor marriage equality are not really christians. They can believe that if they want, but it can make no difference in the eyes of the law. That is probably why on Religious Freedom Day 2014, Perkins made no mention of what Religious Freedom Day is really about — instead using the occasion to denounce president Obama’s approach to religious liberty abroad.
This barely commemorated day provides an opportunity for LGBTQ people, and progressives generally, to reclaim a philosophical, legal and constitutional legacy that the christian wingnuts are busy trying to redefine for their own purposes.
Alright. So the christian wingnuts really do not want us to know about this day, but if we do, they certainly don't want us thinking about this stuff -- and so the standard fare of faux outrage about president Obama and various conspiracies against faith in general and wingnut christianity in general is likely to dominate our foreseeable future.
But it doesn't have to be this way. And the christian wingnutst probably knows it.
When I say that the christian wingnuts do not want “us” to think about it, I mean everyone who is not a christian wingnut and their allies, and especially not LGBTQ people and the otherwise “insufficiently christian.”  I think that is why the christian wingnuts are mostly so eerily quiet about it, even though religious freedom is so 'central' to their political program.
But what if we did?
What if we seized this day to think dynamically about the religious freedoms we take for granted at our peril; freedom that is in danger of being redefined beyond recognition.  What if we decided to seize this day to consider our best values as a nation and advance the cause of equal rights for all?
If we did, we might begin by recalling the extraordinary challenge faced by the framers of the Constitution when they gathered in Philadelphia. They met to create one nation out of 13 fractious colonies still finding their way after a successful revolt against the British Empire; and contending with a number of powerful and well-established state cults and a growing and religiously diverse population.
Their answer?   Religious equality.  And it is rooted in Jefferson’s bill. Let's remind ourselves about the origins of the bill.
Jefferson wrote the first draft in 1777 — just after having authored the Declaration of Independence in 1776.  And it was James Madison who finally got the legislation passed through the Virginia legislature in 1786, just months before he traveled to Philadelphia to be a principal author of the Constitution.  The Virginia Statute states that no one can be compelled to attend or support any religious institution, or otherwise be restrained in their beliefs, and that this “shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities . . .”
The Constitution, framed according to “The Virginia Plan,” drafted primarily by Madison, contains no mention of dog or christianity.  In fact, the final text’s only mention of religion is in the proscription of “religious tests for public office,” found in Article 6.
In other words — Jefferson’s words — one’s religious identity, or lack thereof, has no bearing on one’s “civil capacities.”
If we thought about the meaning of Religious Freedom Day, we might start thinking about things like that — and not capitulate to the christian wingnuts' effort to redefine religious freedom to include a license for business and institutional leaders (both government and civil) to impose their religious beliefs on employees and the public.
If we thought about things like that, then we might consider them in light of a host of initiatives in recent years, often advanced under the banner of religious freedom, but which, in fact, restrict the religious freedom of others.
We might consider, for example, the recent federal court decision in the case of General Synod of the United cult of christ v. Cooper, which found that North Carolina’s ban on clergy performing marriage ceremonies without first obtaining a civil marriage license, was unconstitutional.
Since state law declared that same-sex couples could not get marriage licenses, this subjected clergy in the United cult of Christ, the Alliance of baptists, and the Central coven of American rabbis, among others, to potential prosecution for performing a religious ceremony.
As religious equality advances, so does equal rights for all. So you can see why the christian wingnuts might not want people—people like us—thinking like Jefferson. And that is why we must.
Religious Freedom Day was the brainchild of some of the town fathers and mothers of Richmond, Virginia, who have since created a museum dedicated to education about the Virginia Statute (PDF).
But we need more than a museum to breathe more life and liberty into the living Constitution.  Not much goes on around the country on Religious Freedom Day, January 16th.
There is no time like the present to seize this day.

In 2014 America Abandoned Its Constitution And Devolved Into a Fascist Theocracy

The repugicans in state after state spent the past year hastily passing legislation abolishing other Americans' 14th Amendment rights…
It is usual at the end of another calendar year to look hopefully at the New Year, but at this point, and judging by the events of 2014, there is very little to look forward to in America in 2015. In fact, it is getting extremely difficult to look ahead at the new year with anything other than dread and despair as America devolves into a theocratic, racist, and fascist police state that the government cannot, and apparently will not, even attempt to stop. It is not that 2014 was devoid of good news; quite the contrary.  But no amount of jobs, Wall Street profits, economic growth, or falling gas prices can counterbalance the distress repugicans, racists, and religious Supreme Court justices have wrought on this sad nation with no end, or hope, in sight.
First, it is noteworthy that the only good developments of 2014 were at the hands of President Obama and his executive actions; particularly acting on the existential issue of “global” climate change and his landmark agreement with China. The President’s action on immigration enforcement was long overdue, but in his defense he did wait patiently for House repugicans to adopt, or at least consider, the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill to no avail. What his action did was reveal why 2015, like the past six years, will be depressing for Americans who will watch a repugican-controlled Congress waste taxpayer time and money in a crusade to undo a valid executive order the repugican cabal has deemed unconstitutional; despite the wingnut Roberts Court already ruled the President was well within his constitutional authority like every repugican pretender since Dwight D. Eisenhower. But that is the price Americans have to pay for living in a nation with a cabal so steeped in racial animus for a  Black President that they have deemed his entire Presidency is unconstitutional.
Maybe more than anything, seeing the U.S. Constitution treated like an afterthought, if not a worthless comic book, by wingnuts, evangelicals, law enforcement, repugicans, and the Supreme Court is all the proof a reasonable human being needs to realize America is doomed. The repugicans claim anything President Obama does in unconstitutional at the same time they attempted to pass legislation authorizing approval to build a foreign corporation’s tar sand pipeline across America. That decision is the exclusive right of the Executive Department and yet, one of the first actions a repugican Congress will undertake to repay their Koch debt will be patently unconstitutional and no-one will dare utter a complaint any more than they will over the repugican drive to enforce Vatican rules banning all forms of birth control with personhood legislation; more on that in another article.
The repugicans in state after state were hastily passing legislation abolishing other Americans’ 14th Amendment rights due to their adherence to bastardized American christianity and empowerment by the vatican contingent on the Supreme Court. History will show that it was in 2014 that 5 wingnut catholics on the Highest Court in the land deconstructed the religious clauses in the 1st Amendment to the Constitution to expedite evangelical christians and the United States coven of catholic bishops’ ascendance to wield ironclad authority over the religious freedom of the rest of the population. Through it all, not one politician had the courage or conviction to inform the American people that every dirty attempt to deny women the right to make their own health choices, or gays to marry the person they love, was founded in an archaic religious text because they were, and still are, terrified of committing the mortal sin of speaking out against or opposing theocracy. Speaking of mortal sins, the past six months have revealed that there is no greater sin than speaking out against out-of-control and murderous law enforcement officials doing their due diligence to eviscerate the Constitutional protections afforded all Americans.
If racist police officers were not gunning down unarmed African Americans with impunity  ending their Constitutional right to life with approval of the judicial system, they were threatening Americans opposed to fascist police tactics complete with battlefield gear. Instead of supporting and defending the U.S. Constitution, they took great pleasure in denying Americans their First Amendment rights of free speech and free assembly. All, by the way, with approval and support of repugicans and wingnuts as blatantly racist as the police abusing African Americans whether civilians or fellow police officers.  Law enforcement was also complicit in aiding and abetting, through direct support, a seditious  white man and his well-armed Oath Keeper, Constitutional Sheriffs and Police Officers Association (CSPOA) militia intent on initiating a second revolution; with impunity and ardent support of wingnut media and repugicans with no more regard for the Constitution as they do African Americans, poor people, elderly Americans, Veterans, or children.
America may have been an exceptional nation at one time, but the country began its downward spiral thirty years ago when repugicans and wingnuts decided, and convinced many Americans, their mortal enemy was the federal government; a federal government created by the U.S. Constitution. Now, that very Constitution has all but been rendered null-and-void either by government fear of opposing sedition, or an all-powerful evangelical movement with avid support of the wingnut catholics on the Supreme Court.
Throughout history, other peoples have sat idly by and watched their freedoms eroded, and finally abolished, by fascist religious, corporate, and military-style enforcers, and America is rapidly heading in the same direction with the same results. One would like to say this country is at a crossroads, or nearing a tipping point, of which there is no return, but according to what this nation has suffered throughout 2014 at the hands of fascist police, armed militias, evangelical fanatics, and a theocratic Supreme Court, the scales are tipped. America is on the same course as 1930s Nazi Germany and the Koch brothers are more than happy to fund this country into oblivion. If 2014 is any indication, 2015 is not going to be a Happy New Year.

The repugican cabal and the continued rise of the “American Taliban

by Allen Clifton
In the past I’ve written a couple of articles professing my belief that the repugican cabal, especially the teabagger aspects of it, have become a domestic terrorist group. On the recently ended HBO show The Newsroom, character Will McAvoy (played by Jeff Daniels) referred to them as the “American Taliban,” and I think that’s a perfect way to describe this ever-growing group of wingnut radicals. Just think about this for a moment. These are people (and there are millions of them) who honestly believe that we are allowed to own guns largely for the purpose of one day violently overthrowing our government. I’ve never quite understood how these wingnuts can call themselves “patriots” by hating over half the American population (liberals, minorities, homosexuals and followers of any other religion other than christianity), loathing the very government our Constitution created and often talking about the possible need to rise up in an armed rebellion to violently overthrow elected officials. 
And it’s not as if this is some “sudden movement.” Most of these “strongly repugican gun-loving states” are the very same ones that nearly tore this country in half during the Civil War fighting for their right to own other human beings as property. So let’s not act as if this anti-government rhetoric is simply rooted in their dislike for “liberal ideologies and big government.” Winguts have hated and opposed our government for generations.
But even when you just look at the last 6 years, the repugican cabal has done just about everything it possibly could since President Obama moved into the White House to stall any and all possible economic progress. Whether it was trying to hold our debt ceiling hostage, blocking several jobs bills and even shutting down our government, repugicans have done just about everything within their power to obstruct our economy hoping that it would pay off for them politically. Which it did, in some ways.
And now that they’re about to have even more power, I can damn sure promise you that they’re going to spend the next two years doing whatever they can to hold back our economy. Sure, they’ll use a lot of talking points while spewing the word “jobs” and other right-wing propaganda to hide this fact, but the last thing they’ll want to do over these next two years is help our economy continue to grow.
Why would they? If our economy continues to grow, that would almost all but doom their chances in 2016. Their only real hope to get a repugican in the White House two years from now is to try to slow down (or outright crash) our economy, hoping that people will blame it on President Obama – and in turn his party – and that they’ll get a huge advantage heading into our next presidential election.
The last things repugicans want to see these next two years is for our unemployment rate to drop near or below 5 percent and see another 4-5 million jobs created.
And if you doubt me, just look at what they’ve done with the Affordable Care Act. Instead of working with the president to make the law better, to help millions of Americans gain access to health care, they’ve done just about everything they possibly can to sabotage the law at every turn. Then they have the gall to stand there and point to the “failures of Obamacare” when most of the issues we’ve had with the law are due in large part to the compromises we had to make with repugicans when the law was being written, and the shenanigans many state governments have been playing to try to obstruct the law at the local level.
It’s like I’ve said before, repugicans want a massive collapse of this country. They want our government to be so inefficient, so corrupt and so disliked that Americans do “rise up” in some sort of rebellion so that they can try to remake this nation in the image that they want – which is essentially a christian theocracy full of gun nuts.
The question I always like to ask wingnuts is, why would repugicans actively try to help make our government more efficient and trustworthy when a large premise of their entire political platform is based upon how inefficient and corrupt our government is?
The nonsense wingnuts actually believe is absolutely absurd.
The repugican cabal is a blood-thirsty terrorist group that wants to kill Americans and they are. I do honestly believe that they are a group of individuals who are actively rooting for the failure of the United States. Because that’s the only way they can get what they want, which is a complete teardown of this country so that they can try to turn it into the christian theocracy that they’ve always wanted.
Unfortunately for them, the Constitution as it stands now prevents them from doing that. And sadly for all of us, they just can’t seem to come to grips with that fact.

Five ways to know you’re speaking to white supremacists

And other useful tips for Steve Scalise and budding politicians everywhere
by Matt Bai
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) enters a press conference after the weekly House Republican Conference meeting on Capitol in Washington, DC T... There was a simpler time in America, a time when racists wore white hoods and carried torches, when Nazis wore swastikas and a skinhead could shave his scalp without being mistaken for a metrosexual. But those days are long behind us. Now, apparently, white supremacists hold conferences with guest speakers and video hookups to their colleagues overseas, kind of like a Davos for the intellectually vacant. This is tricky terrain for a politician, as Steve Scalise, the third highest-ranking Republican in the House, found out this week. Back in 2002, Scalise apparently spoke to a conference in New Orleans hosted by the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO, for short), which is kind of like a lobby for neo-Nazis and other white extremists.
Scalise said he couldn’t recall the speech and had no idea who these people were. And really, how are you supposed to know these days if you’re talking to the Ku Klux Klan or, say, a “Star Trek” convention with an unusual number of Jean-Luc Picards?
There are no hard and fast rules, of course, but let’s consider a few useful guidelines for knowing when you’ve got a problem, just in case you’re thinking about a career in national politics.
1. The group was founded by David Duke.
To be fair, Duke is a relatively common name in public life, and it’s easy to get confused. You’ve got Patty Duke and Duke Ellington, and of course Michael Dukakis. This being Louisiana, you can’t forget Bo and Luke Duke. Why wouldn’t you show up at a convention if you thought you were getting a ride in that sweet car with Catherine Bach?
But pay careful attention here, because David Duke is actually a pretty notorious character. Starting in 1988, when he first ran for president as a Democrat (alas, only one Duke could emerge victorious), this Duke was for many years the most recognizable, articulate and unapologetic white supremacist in America — a glib and embarrassing reminder of the South’s ignominious past. He even served a term in the legislature. For those of us who came of age in the Reagan era, even if we never stepped foot in Louisiana, David Duke was like some touring museum exhibit, the last of the crusading Klansmen.
So if Duke is putting on your conference, or is speaking at it, or is anywhere in the same ZIP code and hasn’t yet been rearrested, you probably want to exercise caution.
2. Banners that say things like “White Power” hang from the ceiling.
Again, this is confusing. Because you might peer out through the blinding stage lights and think the banner says, you know, “white powder.” And you might think you’re at a drug legalization conference, which is all very mainstream these days, or maybe a ski industry confab. Or you might think “white power” actually refers to a kind of alternative energy, like “clean coal.” Although you can get intro trouble here, too — just look up Solyndra.
Anyway, this is why it helps to read some of the group’s written materials before you block off that date on the calendar. In this case, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, these have included whimsical remembrances of happier days in the 1930s when Germany was dominated by little Aryan kids frolicking through the fields. If that wasn’t in your briefing book, maybe hire some new staff.
3. The name of the group is the European-American Unity and Rights Organization.
This is so nonsensical, really, that I had trouble even typing it without looking it up three times. Actually, Duke originally called the group the National Organization for European-American Rights, or NOFEAR, but then the sportswear company “No Fear” filed a trademark infringement suit against him, and it turned out that Duke had maybe just a little fear, because he quickly changed the name to EURO. Currencies don’t sue.
Now, you know, political groups have all kinds of meaningless names, but they usually sound like “Americans Forward” or “Citizens Together” or “Blabbedy-blah-blah for Rainbows.” If the group you’re talking to sounds like it might have a paramilitary arm, it’s best to ask.
4. The hotel hosting the event is ashamed.
Trust me, I’ve been around, and budget hotels are not easily embarrassed. I once stuck my head into a dingy banquet room in New Hampshire and saw a Rod Stewart impersonator, about 20 years older than the actual Rod Stewart, gyrating his hips to “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” It stayed with me for years. No one even considered apologizing.
But in this case, the Best Western Landmark in Metairie, La., which you can imagine doesn’t do a whole lot of moral policing as a rule, seemed mortified by its role in hosting the 2002 conference. In response to protests before the event that Scalise somehow missed, the hotel said it didn’t share the group’s convictions but would honor its “contractual obligations” anyway.
This came after the Chicago Cubs’ AAA team, the Des Moines Cubs, announced that it would change its travel plans to avoid the hotel because of the white supremacist gathering. I mean, Steve, did you not see the movie “42”? Baseball clubs are not historically known for their extreme sensitivity to racist hotels. So maybe that should have tipped you off.
5. No one actually cares about your tax stand.
Scalise told NOLA.com, which had some excellent coverage this week, that at the time of the EURO conference he had been doing a lot of public speaking about his opposition to a local tax bill and had even talked to the League of Women Voters. You can see the obvious similarities here. The League of Women Voters espouses some deeply controversial ideas too, like suffrage. Also, little-known fact: Its founders originally wanted to call it the National Initiative for Knowledge in Elections, or NIKE. That was a debacle.
Be that as it may, I’m guessing the League of Women Voters’ attendees had some genuine curiosity about the tax debate, as opposed to asking, say, “Would you be in favor of restricting voting rights to only those citizens whose genetic composition could be determined to be no less than 98 percent Caucasian?” Or “Can you comment on the rumor that there are black men serving in Congress and that they use the same water fountains?” Questions like that should raise a red flag.
One last bit of guidance: If you do end up accidentally speaking to a roomful of white supremacists, try to make a note of it somewhere, because eventually someone who doesn’t like you is going to figure it out, and the last thing you want is to be caught unaware and have to say you really have no idea.
If that happens, it’s not just the appearance of indulging pathetic, retro racism you’ll have to worry about, but looking like a fool, too.

The Truth Hurts

Man, repugicans are STUPID

Professor among 4 fired in UNC academic fraud

by Emery P. Dalesio
North Carolina's flagship public university is trying to fire a senior professor, accepted the resignation of another faculty member and dismissed an academic counselor for athletes for their roles in the fraud scandal that rocked the school, campus officials said Wednesday.
Steps to terminate University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill philosophy professor and former faculty leader Jeanette Boxill started on Oct. 22, the same day that a scathing report into the cheating scandal was released, campus Chancellor Carol Folt said in a statement. Boxill is appealing Folt's decision, information that was released after a lawsuit by The Associated Press and nine other media organizations.
North Carolina's public records law requires state agencies, including public universities, to make employee records available. That includes records regarding their dismissal, suspension, or demotion. UNC-Chapel Hill officials had said the disclosure wasn't required until after an employee has finished appealing the decision, a process that could take years.
The report by former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein found a pattern of fake classes, which allowed 3,100 athletes and other students to earn artificially high grades from 1993 to 2011. While the sham courses were solely in the African studies department, multiple people around campus knew of them or suspected something but said nothing, the report said.
Folt said she was naming Boxill ''in light of the extraordinary circumstances underlying the longstanding and intolerable academic irregularities described in the Wainstein Report, as well as her role as chair of the faculty council during a period of time covered by the report.''
Campus lawyer David Parker also disclosed that Timothy McMillan resigned after 17 years at the school. He was a senior lecturer in the Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies, the renamed department where a retired administrator orchestrated and a retired chairman allowed the pattern of no-show classes and generous grades.
Boxill and McMillan did not return phone messages seeking comment.
Parker also said academic counselor Jaimie Lee was terminated, which was previously reported.
The conduct of six other campus employees is being reviewed for possible disciplinary action, Parker said. Any who are disciplined will be identified, Parker said.
Boxill directed women's basketball players she advised into the fake courses, at least twice sought to influence the grades given to students, and acknowledged sometimes editing student papers, the report said.
McMillan ''effectively knew what was happening (with the fake classes), even if he was careful not to learn all of the details,'' the report said.
Folt said in October that four campus employees were fired and five others disciplined for their roles in an academic fraud scheme. Tom Ross, president of the 16-campus state university system, added that he was taking ''action involving an individual formerly employed on this campus, now employed at another UNC campus.''
Beth Bridger, one of the football counselors named in the report as steering players toward the bogus classes, lost her job at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington the day the report was published.

Why Being A People-Pleaser Is Bad For You (And How to Stop)

by Rachel Grumman 
Why Being A People-Pleaser Is Bad For You (And How to Stop) 
Being concerned about others’ feelings and always being ready to jump in and help are terrific traits in a friend and partner. But when it comes to your health, being a people pleaser can backfire.
“People pleasers value taking care of other people, and that’s a great thing to value,” Sherry Pagoto, a licensed clinical psychologist and associate professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, tells Yahoo Health. “It would be a better world if we all did, but [for people pleasers] it’s to a point where it can be self-destructive.”

In fact, some people are more concerned with other people’s pain than even their own. In a recent study published in the journal Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences, researchers looked at how much money people were willing to sacrifice to reduce the number of painful electric shocks delivered to themselves or an anonymous stranger. The researchers were surprised to find that most people were willing to pay more money to diminish a stranger’s pain than their own discomfort.

People pleasers are also more likely to overindulge, which can add up to unhealthy weight gain. A 2012 Case Western University study found that pleasers tend to cave to social pressure if a friend is having dessert by matching the amount of food the friend eats just so the friend won’t feel uncomfortable. It’s a way that pleasers maintain social harmony, avoid conflict, and gain the acceptance they’re always striving for.

“Often, people pleasers are afraid of confrontation and will just agree and say yes to most anything to avoid an uncomfortable argument or disagreement,” Susan Newman, social psychologist and author of “The Book of NO: 250 Ways to Say It—and Mean It and Stop People-Pleasing Forever,” tells Yahoo Health. But being so focused on taking care of others and feeling guilty or selfish for doing something for yourself, like hitting the gym, means your health and wellness often take a backseat. “It can create incredible anxiety not only because you’re doing too much but also because you’re worried about doing it right and doing it perfectly,” explains Newman. “You’re in a constant state of stress trying to be all things to all or some people. You’ll be tired and your resistance will be lowered, making you more susceptible to colds.”

So how do you know if you’re a tried-and-true people pleaser? Ask yourself these 10 questions:

1. Do you feel guilty or that you’ve let someone down if you were to say no?

2. Are you the go-to person for family and close friends?

3. Do you agree to help others even when you don’t really have the time or resources to do so?

4. Are you often pressed for time or late?

5. Are you afraid of being called selfish?

6. Do you avoid conflict and confrontation?

7. Does your relationship or friendships feel one-sided, that you do most of the work?

8. Do you fear that people will stop liking you or wanting to be your friend if you say no?

9. Do you feel taken advantage of?

10. Do you sometimes feel angry or resentful of the person asking for your help but would never say anything?

If you answered “yes” to several or more of these questions, chances are you’re a classic people pleaser. That means you’ve got some work to do, including learning how to say that dreaded “no” more often so you can prioritize yourself and your health.

How To Stop Being A People Pleaser:

Here’s the good news: You don’t have to stop being a nice person. Instead, here’s how to strike a balance between helping others and finding time to take care of priority No. 1 (that’s you):

  • Before saying yes, ask yourself some questions. When a friend asks for help or a favor, Newman suggests checking in with yourself with these questions: Why am I agreeing to this? What do I have to give up in order to please the person who is asking? Am I going to feel resentful of myself or the other person if I say yes? And lastly, is my relationship with the person who is asking me for help starting to feel unbalanced, rather than give and take?
  • Remind yourself that people won’t fall apart if you say no. “Everybody is used to hearing no,” says Pagoto. “We think we’re going to devastate them with our no and have so much anxiety about a person’s response, but no one is going to be that upset. They may be disappointed, but in an hour they’ll be over it.” Simply turn them down in a nice way, such as, “I’d love to help but I can’t.” “You don’t have to justify it or make a strong case for your no,” adds Pagoto.
  • Practice saying no — and stick with it. “If someone knows you’re a people pleaser, they won’t take your first no,” says Pagoto. “That can be where the negotiation begins. The person can come back with another request, not hearing your no. You may feel the desire to cave. You have to stand by your no.”
  • Be a good role model of self-care. Since people pleasers are motivated by the reward of helping others, think of taking good care of yourself as setting a healthy example for your family. “If you’re crashing every day from exhaustion and are unhappy and stressed out, your kids see that and that’s how they learn,” says Pagoto. “Think about how do you model living a balanced life?”
  • Take care of yourself first — so you can help take care of others. Remind yourself that getting a good night’s sleep and fitting in time to exercise, even if it’s just taking a 20-minute walk, aren’t luxuries, but actually necessities that keep you going. “By taking care of yourself, you’ll be strong, more equipped, and have more energy to care for others,” says Pagoto.

Marriott plans to block personal wifi hotspots

The hotel chain petitioned the FCC for changes that could let venues shut down personal networks. Microsoft, Google, and the cell industry are opposed.
by Glenn Fleishman
Marriott is fighting for its right to block personal or mobile Wi-Fi hotspots—and claims that it’s for our own good.
The hotel chain and some others have a petition before the FCC to amend or clarify the rules that cover interference for unlicensed spectrum bands. They hope to gain the right to use network-management tools to quash Wi-Fi networks on their premises that they don’t approve of. In its view, this is necessary to ensure customer security and to protect children.
The petition, filed in August and strewn with technical mistakes, has received a number of formally filed comments from large organizations in recent weeks. If Marriott’s petition were to succeed, we’d likely see hotels that charge guests and convention centers that charge exhibitors flipping switches to shut down any Wi-Fi not operated by the venue. The American hotel industry's trade group is a co-filer of the petition, and Hilton submitted a comment in support: this isn't just Marriott talking.
But there are big guns in opposition, including Google, Microsoft, and the cell industry’s trade group, the CTIA. Even Cisco’s “support” of the Marriott petition seeks to minimize the extent to which a rule clarification would affect most users.
Earlier in 2014, the FCC fined Marriott for jamming guests, exhibitors, and others’ Wi-Fi networks at the Gaylord Opryland resort in Nashville. The hotel chain agreed to pay the FCC $600,000 in fines and create a compliance plan, with regularly filed updates, for all its properties.
Anyone can comment on this matter—click Submit a Filing—not only giant companies. Despite the FCC’s bad track record on media consolidation, fighting for strong network neutrality, and other issues, the agency does quite well in preserving consumer rights relative to spectrum use and cellular carriers, even if its actions in favor of consumers take far too long. FCC orders often cite comments by individuals and the quantity of responses—in fact, this whole mess got started because of a single person's complaint.
Unlicensed networks’ massive success
Wi-Fi operates in America in two unlicensed bands: 2.4 gigahertz (GHz) and 5 GHz. (The bands and rules are similar or identical in most of the rest of the world, too.) These unlicensed bands, along with a few others, allow the use of FCC-tested and -approved devices without a license on the part of the person operating the equipment, whether a Bluetooth headset or a Wi-Fi base station.
These Part 15 devices, so-called by the FCC rules under which they operate, have been massively successful in the U.S. and worldwide. Billions of gadgets use 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radios—most of it running one of several generations of Bluetooth or Wi-Fi—dating back to the late 1990s.
But the fundamental rule of unlicensed spectrum is that devices need to expect and accept that interference exists. Radio techniques and network protocols have all been designed to produce as much co-existence as possible to maximize the utility of the spectrum. (Interference is sometimes defined as information that’s beyond the sensitivity of the receiver that’s trying to interpret it.)
Because there are no primary licensed users of these bands, everyone has to play nice, and the FCC enforces those rules fairly well. No one owns the spectrum, and thus everyone has seemingly equal rights to it. This has been upheld in FCC rulings repeatedly over the years. (One exception: amateur radio users and a few other kinds of technology, including TV vans that send video from the field back to a studio, have licensed uses of the band, but they are limited in scope and number.)
Nobody owns unlicensed use of the bands. Nobody can tell you nor can you tell anyone else how to use the bands. Nobody can operate similar equipment that prevents your use of the bands.
So far, so good. Now on to Marriott’s ersatz jamming behavior.
Smacking down alleged rogues
Marriot's earlier customer-jamming scheme wasn’t accomplished through radio interference. Radio jammers, though widely available, are illegal in the U.S. and most countries. Truck drivers use them to suppress GPS reception and avoid being well-tracked by employers. Some venues use them to prevent cellular phone usage. Rather, Marriott used wireless network management software and hardware that can monitor a combination of logical stuff (how a Wi-Fi network is being used to identify problems or bad behavior) and physical stuff (the spectrum in use by what devices and base stations).
This software can mitigate network problems by shutting down bad players. For instance, a government facility, a corporation, or a school might have varied reasons for not wanting anyone on site to operate a separate Wi-Fi network outside the ones directly managed, because it might leak secure information, offer outside access into a protected network, or allow students to see material in contravention of school or government rules.
Such a network could be a Wi-Fi base station plugged into an Ethernet port, a software base station created by a computer connected to the network, or a personal or mobile hotspot connected via a cellular data network. These networks might be created by those who don’t know about or agree with a security policy, or for a malicious purpose, such as creating an “evil twin” or “honeyspot” network that resembles a legitimate network to pull in wireless connections and then sniff and misdirect them to extract data.
Rogue AP detection and mitigation relies on the fact that much of the handshaking between devices in Wi-Fi connections isn’t validated. A network-management system can prevent clients from associating with Wi-Fi networks under its control in a number of ways, but they can also block wireless devices from connecting with other networks that are in range. This typically involves sending deauthentication frames—frames are data packets in the wireless world—that either or both spoof the client or base station. (This is also a way to launch a denial-of-service attack, by a rogue hotspot spewing out such frames against legitimate local usage.)
These defensive systems have been available for at least a decade. They are widely deployed and used for the reasons cited above. And there’s never been a ruling by the FCC nor by federal courts as to whether they operate within the FCC’s rules.
The FCC reserves all rights to the regulation of wireless spectrum to itself. Even licensed owners of spectrum—such as cellular networks—aren’t allowed to employ techniques to jam other users. Rather, they pull in enforcement from the FCC, which tracks down, shuts down, fines, and even proffers criminal charges against violators.
Marriott is asking, therefore, for a unique right: the right to police spectrum privately based on property rights. As Cisco put it in its comment, “Wi-Fi operators may not ‘deputize’ themselves to police the Part 15 radio frequency environment.”
Which parties are at this table, anyway?
This petition represents the collision of multiple, competing interests, some of whom are customers or suppliers to each other.
Marriott and other hospitality and convention businesses want to preserve their ability to have a locked-in audience for which they can set arbitrary rates for Internet access. If these groups didn’t charge exorbitant rates, their arguments about network management would carry more water. As one commenter to the FCC, Glen E. Ashman, noted, “This is simply a ploy to force guests to pay extra for premium service.” (Marriott posted a statement on December 30 stating that its petition is entirely about protecting its conference and meeting spaces. However, the petition doesn't limit discussion in any way to just those areas. The settlement paid to the FCC in October also specifically covers blocking personal use of hotspots by guests.)
Mobile operating system makers and cellular networks have every motivation to let their customers use personal hotspots on phones and tablets, as well as mobile hotspots from NetGear and others, because such accessibility encourages people to buy higher-usage plans or pay overage fees, and emphasizes the utility of the network, especially the new 4G LTE networks which may be far faster than a hotel’s service. The CTIA in its comment wrote, “…all Part 15 devices, including mobile devices that incorporate Part 15 capabilities, have equal rights to use unlicensed spectrum; no single entity may intentionally prevent others from using that spectrum.”
Companies that sell to corporate, government, and academic markets, as well as IT people running systems in those markets, are nervous. There is no current regulatory structure under which they knock rogue APs off networks operated on or near their premises. If the FCC were to issue a response to Marriott’s petition that banned all forms of deauthentication against non-authorized networks, this reduces the effectiveness of these products and opens customers to legal liability as long as the current generation of software is still running. This is why Cisco filed a comment rejecting Marriott’s general position, but supporting the notion of mitigation.
So far, there’s no organization representing consumers, small businesses, trade-show exhibitors, or business travellers that has submitted a comment, though a couple dozen individuals have. The affected parties are these groups. The original complaint against Marriott came from a savvy business traveller who saw what was up. Should Marriott get what it wants, we’d all have to use hotel or convention Wi-Fi; portable hotspots would fail, and our cell phones' Wi-Fi sharing would be disabled, though USB and Bluetooth tethering would continue to work.
There’s also no representation from businesses and people adjacent to hospitality operations. If a hotel is in a city, how can it possibly protect just its own network without disabling all the dozens of networks around it without whitelisting those networks—in effect, requiring neighbors to register with them.
Clear the interference
The petition and a few of the supporting comments out of 42 filed by citizens, groups, and companies, get into the meaning of interference under the FCC’s Section 333, the regulation used by the agency to fine and put in place an order against Marriott. The petition wants the FCC to declare an affirmative right for property owners to be able to suppress Wi-Fi networks on the basis of “security and reliability.”
But the petition misstates many things. It cites on page 10 and 11 and in Appendix A how universities “employ various techniques to ensure network performance,” but then exclusively refers to policies and actions that apply only to the use of Wi-Fi networks operated by the institutions—not other Wi-Fi networks on campus. That was so egregious that Brown University filed a comment explaining that Marriott et al. had gotten it wrong.
On page 12, it makes multiple ridiculous technical boners. It implies that only three nonoverlapping 2.4 GHz channels can be used effectively in the same space by calling them “non-interfering”; this is technically and practically incorrect. It also says that the 5 GHz band has just four non-overlapping channels—but the number is actually eight. The basic channel width for 5 GHz is 20 MHz, of which there are 23 non-overlapping channels available, although many base stations only support eight of those. Between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz there are 11 completely clear channels, and as many as 34 with some provisos. (802.11n and 802.11ac can pair up 20 MHz channels for more throughput, but it's dynamic: it occurs only when there aren't competing uses that it can detect.)
It gets even more tendentious as it goes on, noting in one place that the FCC failure to act could mean, “a hotel could decide to prohibit guests from bringing Part 15 devices on the hotel’s property.” Uh huh. That would mean bag searches to prevent cellular phones, wireless headsets computers, portable game systems, and tablets from being brought into a hotel. Maybe a search every time you re-enter the hotel of every guest and visitor. Or active monitoring and a knock on the door: "Hotel Wi-Fi detective! Open up!" Right.
But beyond the technical errors and absurd scenarios, Marriott’s petition is prima facie incompetent because it is trying to claim rights that nobody possesses, no matter what contortions it puts itself into. “Those who wish exclusive use of spectrum can buy some,” wrote Arnold G. Reinhold in a comment; he received his first amateur radio license in 1957. Reinhold succinct statement is apt: the use of unlicensed bands is predicated on the notion that nobody owns them. Marriott’s assertion of the right to cause “interference” as part of its property rights is found nowhere in FCC rules or court decisions. If you want exclusive rights, then you buy spectrum. Wi-Fi usage isn’t exclusive, and thus you can’t enforce exclusive geographic rights.
Cisco argues for a middle ground that protects its corporate clients on campuses and in buildings, but would not allow Marriott its particular use case:
Unlicensed spectrum generally should be open and available to all who wish to make use of it, but access to unlicensed spectrum resources can and should be balanced against the need to protect networks, data and devices from security threats and potentially other limited network management concerns.
For example, in public places or places where the public is routinely invited, users have every reason to expect that they can make use of personal hot spot technology, unless the user’s device is presenting a security threat of some type to the co-located enterprise or service provider Wi-Fi network.
That balance shifts in enterprise locations, where many entities use their Wi-Fi networks to convey company confidential information, trade secrets, and for the safety and security of the firm and its employees.
That’s pretty language, but these qualifications and the kinds of situations I cited earlier are not defined as carveouts for unlicensed spectrum. But there are no exceptions; Cisco wants the FCC to create them.
Businesses and other venues can have policies for visitors and employees, and escort guests out or fire workers for violating restrictions on setting up Wi-Fi networks. Corporate networks with the capability of detecting and blocking ostensible rogue Wi-Fi networks can also prevent the computers on the network from being able to run software base stations and lock down Ethernet (through several means) to prevent just plugging one in. The tools that mitigate can also physically pinpoint the rogue operation, to allow security or managers to descend upon the location. Students can be suspended or expelled if found out, if there's a policy. All these options already exist.
Cisco and others also want to argue that preventing other networks from operating is not interference, even though the functional outcome is precisely the same. The supporters and opponents in comments fight over whether radio-frequency “interference” can include offensive network management practices which require impersonating another device. The FCC will have to make a determination, and courts beyond that, if parties aren’t satisfied.
What’s all the static
Why make such a fuss about something that appears to be money-grubbing activity (or, charitably, careful management of one revenue stream out of many required for profitability) by hospitality organizations? The least-expensive hotel chains, like Best Western, include Wi-Fi at no cost. The more expensive the hotel, the more likely you have to pay, unless you’re a member of the hotel’s loyalty club or possess its branded credit card—so perhaps this affects only businesses and those well-off enough to stay in such places. And exhibitors who have to pay through the nose typically represent companies, and it’s one of the expenses of participating. And shouldn’t the benefit of security and network management that at least Cisco is fighting for win the day?
Frankly, no. While I sympathize with network managers, this is a simple appropriation of public property, one we see far too often. Unlicensed spectrum is the purest expression of “the commons” that exists in America today. There is quite literally nothing else like it where every participant is forced to participate under the same rules, and, large and small, receive the same benefits.
Even in areas with lots of wireless cows chomping at the digital grass, the rules in place typically preserve the commons or force some kind of accommodation among users. Allowing companies to exercise the FCC's jurisdiction is a taking of public space. (Apple’s “Wi-Fi” network failure during a 2010 demo because of mobile hotspots was because of limitations in the cellular networks, not because of Wi-Fi.)
FCC commenter Eric Pederson wrote, “I live in a high-rise apartment building in New York City. I typically see 20-plus of my neighbors’ SSIDs. Yet somehow my Wi-Fi works just fine.” Wi-Fi is resilient. Marriott and its supporters are not. If sense prevails at the FCC, which the agency appears to have on this subject, hotels are going to need to suck it up, and the rest of us can keep exercising our spectrum rights.