Earlier last week, President Obama publicly threw his support behind Net Neutrality, which immediately launched conservative wingnuts into apoplectic tantrums. The tea party's Ted Cruz (R-TX) turned up his inner hysterical, screaming toddler to 11, leaving no doubt as to the depth of his ignorance and his ability to hold the general public and his base in utter contempt.
To be clear, Net Neutrality was one of the basic concepts of the Internet when it was invented -- so that anyone could access information from a free and open world wide web equally. The point was always to keep the Internet a level playing field for everyone.
In a nutshell, Net Neutrality is the idea that Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data that travels over their networks equally. The other possible scenario being that ISPs would be allowed to slow down, or "throttle," data transfer from certain sites at their discretion. You can read more about it here and here.
Obama's proposed approach is to treat the Internet as you would a utility and to treat companies like AT&T and Comcast the same as your local power company, essentially preventing broadband providers from blocking or slowing down access to websites that don't pay extra.
"These rules mean everything for preserving the Internet's openness," Obama said. "Companies who connect you to the world have special obligations not to exploit the monopoly they enjoy over access in and out of your home or business."
Cruz immediately took to Facebook and Twitter calling Net Neutrality "Obamacare for the Internet." Which makes perfect sense if he were to see Net Neutrality as a way to cut the costs of the Internet and allow many people who have not been able to get online for a long time to finally have affordable access. For Cruz, however, who has received tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from major telecoms, it's just his little way of saying that he's against Net Neutrality -- because anything with "Obama" in the name sucks.
It's worth mentioning that Cruz made the idiotic comparison before the latest Gallup poll was released showing that 68 percent of people with coverage through Obamacare rate their coverage as "good," "very good," or "excellent," and 70 percent saying they could afford the care they need.
Shortly after Cruz's tantrum, the Internet erupted with cartoons, videos, and comments. After all, the Internet is full of creative people who have unfettered access to the Internet right now.
The same day that Cruz tweeted his ignorant comment, "The Oatmeal" put up this cartoon, titled "Dear Senator Ted Cruz, This Morning You Tweeted the Following," to help explain things. As the cartoon illustrates, "[Net Neutrality] prevents telecom companies such as Time Warner, Comcast, or COX from discriminating against various types of web traffic when it fits their business needs."
The Washington Post published an op-ed purportedly written by Cruz, in which he compares the idea of Net Neutrality to Communist China and oppressive regimes such as Iran and Russia. He's often gone so far as to compare Obama to an oppressive dictator and this insufferable article is no exception:
The likes of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Chinese President Xi Jinping should not dictate what can be read, written, distributed, bought and sold on the Internet. Countries that do not give their own people the right to speak freely deserve no say in what Americans can say and do on the Internet.
Cruz takes full advantage of a public he sees as manipulative and ignorant, writing that Net Neutrality is a threat to our freedom, capitalism, and our way of life.
Al Franken (D-MN) responded to Cruz's op-ed in the Washington Post during an interview with Candy Crowely on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, saying that Cruz doesn't understand what Net Neutrality is.
When [Cruz] says this is the Obamacare, Obamacare was a government program that fixed something, that changed things. This is about reclassifying something so it stays the same. This would keep things exactly the same that they've been.
Cruz didn't waste any time doubling down on misinformation, misquotes, and double talk. He released a video of himself giving a presentation on the topic and seized on the sentence in which Franken said, "...it stays the same."
"We want a whole lot more of this," Cruz says, holding up an iPhone. "And a whole lot less of this," he adds, pointing to a rotary phone, that, according to him, symbolizes an industry "frozen in place" by regulation.
As Ryan Grim of HuffPost points out:
Cruz's argument, though, relies on a different reading of what "the same" means. Franken is arguing that the Internet will be just as open to innovation as it always has been, since net neutrality has always been in effect and will remain in effect. Indeed, it would be hard to make the case that the Internet's current regulatory structure has made innovation impossible. Cruz instead is re-appropriating the phrase to imply that the Internet as a whole will never be able to change from the way it is now.
It's virtually impossible to have a conversation about the Internet, broadband speeds, and Net Neutrality without eventually having the topic of porn come up. The folks at Funny or Die published a new PSA on the topic, in which porn stars explain the idea: "It's like a giant sex party where anyone gets to have sex with anyone they want. Without Net Neutrality that party is only for rich people."
Admittedly, the concept may be easier to grasp for some people when three naked women explain it. Particularly when you consider how streaming porn might be affected if Internet service providers are allowed to throttle traffic. As one of the women puts it, "Nobody ever said, slower, slower."
It's not a bad place to start considering that conservative states are where more people are likely to search for porn, according to recent data released by the Organization for Economic Co‑operation and Development. Using the conservatives' apparent favorite internet-dependent hobby to illustrate the effects of limiting the Internet might not be a bad strategy.
There's also something in the video about rich guys watching weird clown porn.
Speaking of rich white guys and clowns, the crazy didn't stop with Cruz. Freedom Works, funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, put out a video "explaining" Net Neutrality that is a masterpiece of finally crafted BS.
In the video, the woman, who judging from her voice either has the flu or is what the Koch brothers think a nerd is supposed to sound like, tells viewers:
"By dictating that all these sites be treated the same, Net Neutrality makes small companies that don't take up much bandwidth at all pay more so that big companies can pay less. That's not the kind of equality the Internet needs."
And you thought the Koch brothers' creepy Uncle Sam gynecologist was weird?
Alex Jones, the ranting, purple-faced conspiracy loon from "InfoWars" and "Right Wing Watch," backed Cruz up, warning listeners that by allowing consumers to access any website or service online without additional charges was tantamount to some type of totalitarian regime. "This is just a high-tech version of what the Soviets and the Nazis and the Chinese communists and Fidel Castro and every other nutball did," he said.
Jones generally spends his days stoking the paranoia and fear of his audience about anything from FEMA camps to Nazi takeovers, so this was a walk in the park for him. Take a couple of minutes out of your day and watch the video. It's a short walk down Lunatic Lane and worth the trip to see Jones get within two right turns of a stroke.
The most unlikely yet refreshing attacks on Cruz came from his own base. While the left likes to entertain the idea that conservatives are half-witted, gun-toting rubes, many of the "fans" on Cruz"s Facebook page didn't fit the caricature of bleating sheep wearing tricorn hats. Here are just a few samples:
Ed P: As a Republican who works in the tech industry I can say that this statement shows you either have no idea what you are talking about or you are bought and paid for by the American Cable monopoly. This is amazingly an stupid statement and is disheartening.
Keith F: Ted, I am as conservative as they come.... I want government out of just about everything... and I hate to say it, really hate to say it, but Obama is right on this one. I do not want my access and internet speed controlled by my ISP. It will be. The internet has been an open forum with little to no restrictions, that will change and not for the better. Bottom line, do not go against freedom of the net just because Obama is for it. Even an old blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.
Adam H: Go find whatever rock you crawled out from under Ted and stay under it! Proud republican here, but not so proud to be blind like the good senator. Look how "great" our free market Internet is!!! I pay $100 a month for 15mbs / 100gb p/m capped Internet. Yep, those "free" markets really make it better lmao
David V: Texas employer here... This is really the wrong issue for you. Drop this quickly and move on to something else before it's too late. You're starting to look like a Tea Party whacko growling for his corporate masters. Move on before you embarrass the Republicans out of the next presidency. Net neutrality is about ensuring a free market. America loves a free market. But hey, be against free markets and America. It's cool. I'm sure no one will think of you when their Netflix slows down who wouldn't have before.
Sam A: Senator Cruz, you are wrong on this one. As a conservative voter and IT professional, I can assure you that Net Neutrality is a GOOD THING. Internet providers (who are also content owners) can't be trusted (as has already been proven) to allow consumers equal access to content from their competitors. This is why the government needs to ensure Net Neutrality as it protects the consumer from the bias of their Internet provider. This is especially true since we don't have real competition in this space.
How about that? Republicans showing signs of protecting the consumer and themselves from greedy corporations. Unlike the "good senator" from Texas who receives payment for protecting corporate interests, these are actual Republicans living out here amongst the rest of us -- paying their bills, feeding their families, and working for a living.
Maybe there is hope, after all.
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