On November 21st FCC Chairman Ajit Pai sent shock waves throughout the internet when he released this Statement announcing an end to President Obama’s misguided and disastrous Net Neutrality.  Here are the opening paragraphs from that statement.

For almost twenty years, the Internet thrived under the light-touch regulatory approach established by President Clinton and a Republican Congress. This bipartisan framework led the private sector to invest $1.5 trillion building communications networks throughout the United States. And it gave us an Internet economy that became the envy of the world.

But in 2015, the prior FCC bowed to pressure from President Obama. On a party-line vote, it imposed heavy-handed, utility-style regulations upon the Internet. That decision was a mistake.  It’s depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks and deterred innovation.

When I read the statement I was quite elated.  I knew all of my liberal friends on Facebook would not share my joy, they would be angry and they would express their anger in the form of memes which bore little resemblance to reality.  My response was to leave them alone and to share articles setting the record straight about Net Neutrality, which was President Obama’s attempt to make the internet into a socialist utopia.

From the beginning Net Neutrality was misguided because it was based on a lie.  In a speech, which was quoted in this Breitbart Article, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai described this lie when he said:

Number one there was no problem to solve; the internet wasn’t broken in 2015. In that situation, it doesn’t seem me that preemptive market-wide regulation is necessary. Number two, even if there was a problem, this wasn’t the right solution to adopt. These Title II regulations were inspired during the Great Depression to regulate Ma Bell which was a telephone monopoly. And the broadband market we have is very different from the telephone market of 1934. So, it seems to me that if you have 4,462 internet service providers and if a few of them are behaving in a way that is anticompetitive or otherwise bad for consumer welfare then you take targeted action to deal with that. You don’t declare the entire market anticompetitive and treat everyone as if they are a monopolist.

There was no evidence of widespread price gouging, censorship by ISPs, or other harmful practices prior to the enacting of Net Neutrality.  Regulating the internet as a utility was the most overbearing form of regulating the Obama administration could implement.  Why did the Obama administration take over the internet through executive fiat? This American Thinker Article sheds light on the primary motivation:

President Obama feared the free flow of information as a threat to his power grabs and attempt to fundamentally transform the United States. Just as cable news eliminated the old guard network’s role as gatekeepers of what we saw and heard, the Internet freed information consumers to seek the truth and speak their minds in an unfettered environment.

Under net neutrality, the FCC took for itself the power to regulate how Internet providers manage their networks and how they serve their customers. The FCC would decide how and what information could flow through the Internet, all in the name of providing access to the alleged victims of corporate greed.

Net Neutrality was all about social justice not eliminating harmful practices.   According to this Investor Business Daily editorial, Obama’s FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski stated purpose for Net Neutrality was:

Genachowski insists net neutrality is designed only to prevent communication giants such as Comcast and Verizon from blocking some websites while favoring others, particularly their own, with higher speeds and better quality. The poor and minorities are shoved aside in the name of profit….

…In the name of providing access to the alleged downtrodden victims of corporate greed, the FCC proposes to take unto itself the power to regulate how Internet providers manage their networks, how they serve their customers. The FCC would decide how and what information could flow through the Internet.

According to the same article, Obama’s FCC Diversity Czar Mark Lloyd wrote:

Net Neutrality Is A Civil Rights Issue.  Unfortunately, the powerful cable and telecom industry doesn’t value the Internet for its public interest benefits.  Instead, these companies too often believe that to safeguard their profits, they must control what content you see and how you get it

The free market, which is the most mighty economic engine yet devised, built the internet.   What fuel does the free market run on?  Profits are the fuel.  It was the quest for higher profits that created the most revolutionary communication medium that ever existed.  Competition was what regulated the internet.  Government regulation only hinders and destroys.  The free exchange of money for goods and services is the most color blind form of social interaction that ever existed.

Net Neutrality has had very negative effects on the internet.   Free State Foundation President Randolph May describes these negative effects in this Breitbart article

The FCC’s current regulations, put in place at President Obama’s direction in 2015, constitute a misguided act of regulatory aggression leveled at the dynamic broadband Internet marketplace. It is none too soon to repeal them. Already, there is persuasive evidence that applying a public utility regulatory regime to Internet service providers has slowed investment in new facilities. As demand for Internet services continues to grow exponentially, the nation can ill-afford to risk deterring investment in new high-speed networks.

The moment FCC Chairman Ajit Pai released his statement a wave of outrage swept over individuals from the political left.   Julian Sanchez of the Cato Institute described the outrage in this Fox News Article

There’s plenty of scaremongering around steps broadband providers could take in the absence of neutrality regulation — blocking off certain sites, or charging extra fees to access certain services — but not a ton of reason to think they would do these things, which would antagonize customers, be technically tricky to enforce against sophisticated users, and invite the re-imposition of regulations.

Major Internet Service providers do make convenient villains in all of this Net Neutrality debate because they are not popular with their customers.   A great many believe their ISPs provide lousy customer service and many feel they are overcharged for the service they receive.  Why are ISPs able to get away with these unpopular practices?  Government regulations at the federal, state, and local levels effectively grant these companies monopolies on the local level.   This article from Wired documents how these monopolies are granted and how they limit competition.  Repealing Net Neutrality is just the first step to truly freeing the internet.  Regulations at all levels must be repealed.

The most expensive turkey I ever got was free.

It was a cold and bleak night in early December. Dinner hadn’t gone so well – my wife was worried over how we would handle Christmas, and I had no answers for her. My newspaper had gone on strike in September, and there was no end in sight. Happy holidays? Humbug!

While Shirley was still working as a schoolteacher, our financial situation was grim, especially since we had just bought a house the previous summer.

As I watched the evening news and Shirley was doing the dishes, a knock came at the door. I was surprised – we rarely had unannounced visitors at night – so I was wary when I got up to answer it. My surprise grew even greater when I saw the fire chief of the city I covered as a reporter standing on the porch.

“The guys were getting the list together for our Christmas turkey giveaway, and your name came up,” the chief said. “We figured things might be tight for you because you’ve been on strike so long.”

I was almost speechless as he handed me a 12-pound frozen turkey, but I finally stammered out my thanks. I called in Shirley from the kitchen, and she managed to express our gratitude more eloquently.

The fire chief probably forgot about his visit to my home long ago, but I never did. It changed my life.

Ever since, I give special attention to people in need when the holidays roll around.

For the first few years after the strike, I couldn’t do much more than throw pocket change into a Salvation Army kettle. Our finances remained precarious, particularly because Shirley was laid off within a month after I found a new job.

But I was able to step up my game even after the kids arrived as I moved up to a well-paying position at a daily paper. I diversified my giving, too, adding a range of local charities to my list of beneficiaries. I found out the more I gave, the better I felt.

Unlike some of my friends, I try to keep my donations a secret. I give to receive an inner reward, not to demonstrate my generosity to the public. In fact, the only reason I’m writing this post is because it won’t appear under my real name.

My giving won’t set any records – I admire (and am a bit envious of) the good souls who anonymously drop gold coins in Salvation Army kettles – but I hope my contributions lift the spirits of at least a few people in despair and possibly inspire them to be more generous when they see better days.

By my count, that free turkey from the firefighters has cost me more than $3,000 to date. And I’m not done paying for it yet.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I loved Fausta’s view from her front porch Saturday; it looks sunny and warm and is exactly why I love living in the South.

This morning I was sitting in my swing under the magnolia tree, sipping my coffee, reading Southern Living magazine and watching the yellow hackberry leaves flutter to the ground like feathers.  It really never gets very cold here in Louisiana.  My husband grew up in Iowa and he swears that the reason he has trouble getting into the Christmas spirit is because it never gets cold here and there is no snow.

We sort of skipped Christmas last year; it had been a rough and expensive year and neither Steve nor I felt much like celebrating Christmas last year.  I’m known in my family for my ceiling-scraping traditional Christmas trees that are, of course, always real and feature our heirloom ornaments and real tinsel applied one single strand at a time.  It’s a herculean feat of decoration each year and I’ve always enjoyed it, but last year I just couldn’t muster the spirit.

I went to WalMart and I bought a fake, pre-lit tree and I bought blue and silver plastic ornaments.

You can not imagine the final damper this put on our Christmas holiday.

My grown son was horrified.  My friends were aghast.  Nobody could quite believe it.

I managed to make Chex Mix but there were no fruitcake cookies or fudge, and presents were token, impersonal items.

I just wanted it to be over.  It was too much pressure.

On December 26, I yanked that fake tree down, shoved it into a bag, and stuck it in the garage where it still is.  The tree was pretty enough and if there is a family in need in my area I’ll probably donate it to them.

This year has been a better one and although not without issues, so far they’ve all been things we can handle.  I’m in the Christmas mood this year and have put up my real Fraser fir, complete with lights and tinsel.  There are actually presents under the tree this year – well, not exactly under the tree yet because the new puppy would destroy them, but there are presents.  I made my Mama’s fruitcake cookie recipe, I’ve soaked the little things in Makers Mark, and they are aging nicely.  I made three giant pans of Chex Mix yesterday and I’ve taken full advantage of Cyber Monday.

The point is that sometimes these holidays are hard for people.  Very hard.  The pain we feel at the absence of people who can’t be here is very real.  The celebrations of our childhood are often romantic and lovely and we feel such a pressure to recreate those, but too often that can not be accomplished and we put more stress on ourselves.  I think as I grow older I’m learning to accept a new normal with the holidays, be it Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years, whatever.

Somehow, skipping Christmas last year has helped me this year to see things differently. The holiday came and went last year whether I participated or not.  It wasn’t the end of the world and when it was over I was kind of glad I didn’t have a big mess to clean up and a lot of credit card bills to struggle with.  I was a little envious of all the big happy family gatherings I saw going on around me – we have a very small family and not all of us like each other very much – but it was fine.  I had those I love close to me and it really was just fine.

But this year, I’m ready to get back into the fray.  I want the pretty packages, the smell of the tree, the twinkly lights, and the pleasure of finding just the right gift for someone.

I don’t want to be didactic, but try to be aware of those you know who may be struggling with depression or other issues during the holidays.  For a million reasons there are people that do not feel the Christmas spirit that perhaps you feel.  For many, the pressure to be as happy and perfect as the people in the Christmas commercials is just too much. For a lot of us, the pain of an absent loved one is crippling.

Be kind. Be generous when you can.  Smile at people.  Step back from politics for a while.  Quit worrying about the tax bill.  Who cares what Trump said on Twitter?  Sit on your porch, in your swing, in front of your fireplace, and enjoy the season in your own way.  If that means skipping Christmas or going all out, do whatever you need to do.

But most of all, be nice.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

It was the end of our baseball, but who cares?

Buck O’Neil

…and it looks like at Evergreen College they’re still all for it:

The student newspaper at Evergreen State College has a section in its opinion pages described as “for people of color by people of color.”

“This should be a place where we can be us without it being overshadowed by the dark cloud that is living under white supremacy and having to see things from a white perspective.

Of course I’m being a little hard on Evergreen, all over the liberal collegian world Democrats are discovering the joys of segregation and separate but equal and declaring anyone who doesn’t agree with them beyond contempt.

It reminds me of this description of the Movie Birth of a Nation (1915) by the late Roger Ebert:

Watching them today, we are appalled. But audiences in 1915 were witnessing the invention of intercutting in a chase scene. Nothing like it had ever been seen before: Parallel action building to a suspense climax. Do you think they were thinking about blackface? They were thrilled out of their minds.

Today, what they saw for the first time, we cannot see at all. Griffith assembled and perfected the early discoveries of film language, and his cinematic techniques that have influenced the visual strategies of virtually every film made since; they have become so familiar we are not even aware of them. We, on the other hand, are astonished by racist attitudes that were equally invisible to most white audiences in 1915.

If that movie was made today that scene wouldn’t be there because the modern college SJW’s would have already excoriated the black man interested in a white woman as a traitor to his race.

To the liberal of 1955 or 1963 or even 1915 the idea of separate but equal was an abomination designed to keep American Blacks from fully becoming part of American society, culture and success. To the Democrat party of that time, it was, like slavery before it, a means to maintain power and control. That the Democrat party of 2017 is arguing for the same cultural separation that they were 100 years ago in the heyday of Jim Crow and that many of those Democrats arguing for it are black Democrats who are so excited at the prospect of potential power that they don’t see the blatant racism in their actions is an irony so deep that anyone with the smallest grasp of history can barely wrap one’s head around it.