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Donald Trump May Try To Stifle Freedom of Expression but His FCC Head Ajit Pai Will Defend a "Free and Open Internet"

Pai favors free speech but not treating the Internet as a public utlity. That's exactly right.

WikimediaWikimediaAjit Pai, Donald Trump's pick to head the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is a critic of the Net Neutrality rules the agency passed two years ago. As an FCC commissioner, Pai voted against the agency's 2015 open internet order, whose defenders said was necessary "to protect free expression and innovation on the Internet and promote investment in the nation's broadband networks." After losing court battles to regulate the Internet directly, then-FCC head Tom Wheeler said the agency had the right to regulate the Internet under Title II rules originally designed to control telecommunications utilities. That the FCC could point to essentially no cases of providers throttling competitors' data or blocking particular websites didn't matter much. As long as the possibility existed, say Net Neutrality supporters, the FCC must be empowered to regulate data on the Internet.

Does this mean that, as a Buzzfeed article fret, "The Fate of Net Neutrality Is Still Up in the Air in the Trump-Era FCC"? If you're concerned about the FCC regulating the Internet using decades-old Title II rules, yes, absolutely. If you're worried about whether or the Internet will be a place of unparalleled free expression and constant innovation, absolutely not. As Pai says, "I favor a free and open internet and I oppose Title II." That's not a contradiction at all.

It's upbeat phrasing aside, Net Neutrality has never been about increasing freedom of expression online. It actually represents an attempt by the government to regulate various aspects of the online world in the name of saving us from a phantom menace of cable monsters and ISPs who are supposedly blocking or throttling traffic from unwanted competitors. I have no love for cable companies, cell phone providers, or anyone else who gives me access to the 'net. I also know that products and services continue to get better, faster, and ultimately, cheaper.

Here's how Clemson University economist Tom Hazlett defined Net Neutrality from a libertarian perspective:

Hazlett, author of The Fallacy of Net Neutrality, argued that net neutrality is best defined as "a set of rules…regulating the business model of your local ISP." Thinking about it that way clarifies what's really going on.

By seeking to ban differential pricing and services among different ISPs, net neutrality backers are trying to maintain the status quo that's worked for them so well (many of the strongest proponents for net neutrality represent bandwidth-hogging companies and services such as Netflix, YouTube, and Skype that ISPs would likely hit up for extra fees).

Of course Netflix, say, doesn't want to have to pay Comcast or Verizon or whomever for special treatment. But if Netflix is increasing demand for bandwidth and it wants to ensure that its users' experience is fast, reliable, and glitch-free, why shouldn't an ISP tap them for extra money to build more capacity or help in managing it? (As a matter of fact, Comcast and Netflix have already done exactly this via an arrangement known as "peering," that elides most strict concerns about net neutrality.)

As Hazlett argues, "The [FCC] argues that [net neutrality] rules are necessary, as the Internet was designed to bar 'gatekeepers.' The view is faulty, both in it engineering claims and its economic conclusions. Networks routinely manage traffic and often bundle content with data transport precisely because such coordination produces superior service. When 'walled gardens' emerge, including AOL in 1995, Japan's DoCoMo iMode in 1999, or Apple's iPhone in 2007, they often disrupt old business models, thrilling consumers, providing golden opportunities for application developers, advancing Internet growth. In some cases these gardens have dropped their walls; others remain vibrant."

Hazlett's insight has proven prescient. Net Neutrality supporters spend a good chunk of their time attacking customer-friendly programs such as T-Mobile's Binge On, which allows users to stream unlimited amounts of data from certain providers, as dread threats to freedom. To confuse such offerings with censorship is idiotic, especially as other providers such as Sprint are moving toward flat rates for unlimited data packages.

More to the point, Pai told Reason in 2015 that Net Neutrality is "a solution that won't work to a problem that doesn't exist":

reason: So you're simply saying the Internet is not broken.

Pai: I don't think it is. I think by and large, people are able to access the lawful content of their choice. While competition isn't where we want it to be—we can always have more choices, better speeds, lower prices, etc.—nonetheless, if you look at the metrics compared to, say, Europe, which has a utility-style regulatory approach, I think we're going pretty well.

reason: The FCC recently redefined broadband, but using standards from the last roundup of where we were in terms of the number and variety of Internet connections. One of the things that people say is, "Well, we need to regulate the Internet because local ISPs like Time Warner or Comcast have an effective local monopoly on service." Is that accurate, and would that be enough of a reason to say, "Hey, we gotta do something"?

Pai: I certainly think there are a lot of markets where consumers want and could use more competition. That's why since I've become the commissioner, I've focused on getting rid of some of the regulatory underbrush that stands in the way of some upstart competitors providing that alternative—streamlining local permit rules, getting more wireless infrastructure out there to give a mobile alternative, making sure we have enough spectrum in the commercial marketplace—but these kind of Title II common carrier regulations ironically will be completely counterproductive. It's going to sweep a lot of these smaller providers away who simply don't have the ability to comply with all these regulations, and moreover it's going to deter investment in broadband networks, so ironically enough, this hypothetical problem that people worry about is going to become worse because of the lack of competition.

reason: But you're also saying it doesn't exist. So do most people in America have a choice in broadband carriers, and do they have more choice than they did five years ago, and is there reason to believe they'll have more choice in another five years?

Pai: I think there are hiccups any given consumer might experience in any given market. Nonetheless, if you look on the aggregate, Americans are much better off than they were five years ago, ten years ago. Speeds are increasing; the amount of choice is increasing. Something like 76 percent of Americans have access to three or more facilities-based providers. Over 80 percent of Americans have access to 25 mbps speeds. In terms of the mobile part of equation, there's no question that America has made tremendous strides. Eighty-six percent of Americans have access to 4G LTE. We have 50 percent of the world's LTE subscribers and only 4 percent of the population.

Pai's selection as FCC chair is interesting for any number of reasons. First and foremost, it means that a person who is both dedicated to a truly free, open, and competitive Internet and who understands markets will be running the FCC for a change. Second, it means the Internet is likely to remain a fortress of freedom during a Trump administration that may well attempt to beat down the press both from the bully pulpit and in courts. Recall that during the election season, Trump vowed to "open up" the country's libel laws to make it easier to sue publications such as The New York Times. He also called out by name Amazon's Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post (Bezos is also a supporter of Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this website). That Bezos is reportedly working against Trump's executive order on immigration and refugees only makes it more likely that the president might actually try to muzzle the press. In December 2015, both Trump and Hillary Clinton in a 24-hour period argued in similar language that parts of the Internet should be shuttered to make it more difficult for jihadists to recruit:

"We're losing a lot of people because of the internet," Trump said. "We have to see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what's happening. We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing that internet up in some ways. Somebody will say, 'Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech.' These are foolish people."

In less than two weeks, Trump has shown a willingness to follow through on what he promised on the campaign trail. So he may well try to screw down freedom of the press, and of expression.

That's disturbing in the extreme and it needs to be beaten back. The good news? Trump's pick for the FCC is certainly the type of person who will refuse to play along with the president. If he stays true to his word, Ajit Pai will protect the Internet from censorship—by refusing to treat it as a public utility the government has a right to control.

Related: "3 Charts That Show the FCC Is Full of Malarkey on Net Neutrality and Title II".

Here's Reason TV's interview with Pai. Transcript here.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • The Fusionist||

    Why can't the headline just say

    "Trump's FCC Head Ajit Pai Will Defend a 'Free and Open Internet'"

    And save the TDS about Trumpian censorship for the body of the post?

  • Brochettaward||

    And save the TDS about Trumpian censorship for the body of the post?

    Or...maybe I'm being crazy here...but what if there was an article that DIDN'T include ANY TDS disclaimers AT ALL? Do you think that's a bridge too far?

  • The Fusionist||

    Look, I'm just proposing a realistic compromise, while your just talking crazy talk.

  • Drake||

    Reason neutrality is a solution that won't work to a problem that doesn't exist!

  • DarrenM||

    So, the problem has to be created first.

  • AlmightyJB||

    They should just put it in a page header

  • Chip Chipperson||

    It's especially puzzling since literally nothing Trump has done thus far -- or has proposed to do -- has even hinted at a desire to limit free expression.

    "We know Trump has nominated an excellent SCOTUS pick, is working to undo a lot of the damage Obama did, is appointing an open-internet advocate to FCC, has spoken about people's right to protest even when they disagree with him, and hasn't called in the military to quell the massive demonstrations against him -- BUT HE MAY TRY TO STIFLE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION"

  • Crusty Juggler - #2||

    He did it just so you would finally complain about Reason's coverage of an issue.

  • The Fusionist||

    This must be that "sarcasm" thing which you earthlings are always talking about.

  • Trigger Hippie||

    Yo, Eddie. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on the link I sent you last night. Glad you found it interesting.

  • The Fusionist||

    Thank *you*!

  • Crunchy Dolphin||

    They know you wouldn't have read the article unless it contained something about Trump.

  • ThomasD||

    Nick Gillespie may wish to fornicate with hamsters, but his article headlines offer no confirmation to date.

  • Hugh Akston||

    The good news? Trump's pick for the FCC is certainly the type of person who will refuse to play along with the president.

    That's worked out well for the people who have tried it so far.

  • Homple||

    TRUMPS TAKIN AR INTERTOOBS AWAY!

  • MarkLastname||

    Now that you mention it, every YouTube video I've watched since the inauguration has has a full minute long unskippable ad for Trump steaks before it.

  • Citizen X||

    Really? All i get are the ones where the Blue Angels fly overhead while Trump pays some chick to pee on the Koran.

  • Swiss Servator||

    Um....got lynx?

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Damn! That sounds HOT!

  • Lee Genes||

    Net neutrality, the really stupid idea that just won't go away.

  • AlexInCT||

    It's a pretty name for only progressive approved propaganda allowed

  • KDN||

    The dumbest ideas never do.

  • SomeGuy||

    how is net neutrality bad? It is a critical rule to allow internet traffic to not be throttled or play favorites with.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    This is what happens when immigrants take over the Federal Government!

  • Crusty Juggler - #2||

    He claims to have been born in Buffalo (which, in my opinion, is worse than being born in some Muslimy place), but I would like see his birth certificate, just to make sure.

  • SugarFree||

    Was he by nature born or from his mother's womb untimely ripp'd?

  • The Fusionist||

    Lay on, Ajit
    And damn'd be he who first says, "stop, I quit"

  • ||

    At first I thought someone in the Trump administration with the name Ajit Pai was obviously just a token ethnic minority.

    Upon reflection I realized he may be gay.

  • MarkLastname||

    But why should I play the Indian fool and fall on mine own gupti?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    A guy named Ajit born in Buffalo? Proof we're losing our country.

  • Crusty Juggler - #2||

    A pertinent excerpt from Al Franken's open letter to Pai:

    As Chairman, you have an obligation to protect Americans' access to diverse information sources and to ensure that the internet remains a tool for American innovation, economic growth, and public discourse. I have no doubt that you recognize the significance of your new role, but your stated opposition to strong net neutrality rules raises serious concerns about your commitment to honoring the First Amendment.

    smdh.

  • Citizen X||

    That retarded fella sure told him!

  • Brochettaward||

    That is one of the dumbest things I've read this week. I could go back through Shikha's archives and that's still be way the fuck up there.

  • kbolino||

    Look, you can't know that the government is leaving the Internet alone if the government doesn't control the Internet. That's just science, right there.

  • juris imprudent||

    Schrodinger's CAT-5.

  • lafe.long||

    very well done.

  • Swiss Servator||

    *opera applause*

  • ||

    Me not paying for your internet =/= 1st amendment violations.

  • See Double You||

    I just want to know why anyone would listen to Al Franken, even if he is a senator.

  • kbolino||

    Look, if a man whose election was determined by a vanload full of ballots doesn't have moral authority, then who does?

  • TheZenomeProject||

    An even larger question would be this: if Minnesotans really listened to what Al was actually selling for six years, how in the world did they choose to re-elect him?

  • Cynical Asshole||

    My theory is that the cold damages their brains.

  • kbolino||

    If Franken is like every other politician, being a mental deficient has no downsides. His goal is to funnel money into his state. If he accomplished that end, it matters not how much of an idiot he is.

  • Zeb||

    A lot of people seem to disagree, but I think he had his moments as a comedian.

  • ||

    I agree. I thought a lot of his bits were funny.

    Unfortunately his political turn isn't a bit, and isn't funny at all. So sad.

  • ||

    Because he learned the trick of talking verrrrry slowwwwly in a deep and grave voice while peering over his glasses. It makes him sound smart and serious, until you actually parse the words. Then you remember he's an actor.

  • TheZenomeProject||

    An actor with the right (Harvard) degree, but an actor nonetheless.

  • GILMORE™||

    your stated opposition to strong net neutrality rules raises serious concerns about your commitment to honoring the First Amendment.

    "unless you give the government the power to intervene in these media-markets, you're against the first amendment"

    / sounds legit

  • Cynical Asshole||

    This is the most proper response to anything that dipshit has to say.

  • bacon-magic||

    I like your response, Cynical Asshole. (I was going to just call you by Cynical, but couldn't resist the urge to call someone an asshole)

  • Swiss Servator||

    Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: What's your excuse?
    Private Cowboy: Sir, excuse for what, sir?
    Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: I'm asking the fucking questions here, private! Do you understand?
    Private Cowboy: Sir, yes, sir.
    Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Well, thank you very much! Can I be in charge for a while?
    Private Cowboy: Sir, yes, sir.
    Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Are you shook up? Are you nervous?
    Private Cowboy: Sir, I am, sir.
    Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Do I make you nervous?
    Private Cowboy: Sir?
    Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: "Sir" what? Were you about to call me an asshole?

  • ||

    He sent an open letter because he knew if he put his name on an envelope it would go straight in the shitcan without being opened. I know if I saw 'Stewart Smiley' on an envelope that is what would happen.

  • ant1sthenes||

    So, how does Al feel about Facebook's war on FAKE NEWZ anyway?

  • Lee Genes||

    but your stated opposition to strong net neutrality rules raises serious concerns about your commitment to honoring the First Amendment

    Al must be a constitutional scholar like Barack.

  • Sour Kraut||

    Trump has clearly lost the vital center: Coeliacs against Trump have mobilized!

  • SugarFree||

    Well, that's shitty.

  • Citizen X||

    Whoa. What's going on with the girl to the right of the sign-holder? Does... does gluten intolerance cause your head to melt?

  • SugarFree||

    My right or your right?

  • Rich||

    "When I get mellow, I ripen and rot."

  • MarkLastname||

    That has to be a mannequin.

  • Brochettaward||

    I need someone to enact some labor for me and explain what the hell a Coeliac is.

  • SugarFree||

    Someone with Celiac disease. An autoimmune response to gluten and wheat (among other things.)

  • SugarFree||

    It's the very real disease so many gluten-free people pretend to have.

  • Crusty Juggler - #2||

    It was just underreported! Here, have a gluten-free cookie.

  • Zeb||

    Needs more gluten.

  • SugarFree||

    It such a weird age we live in that people pretend to have diseases.

  • Lee Genes||

    It makes you special. SPECIAL.

    *continues browsing 6th edition of Textbook of Physical Diagnosis*

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yeah, my wife says half the homeschool kids we associate with seem to have some BS problem. A couple have real issues, but most have things that aroma therapy will clear right up.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Having a disease makes you feel special, and everyone wants to feel special. Plus, if your pretend disease is a mental health disease, it gives you an automatic excuse for being a useless piece of shit.

  • Crusty Juggler - #2||

    Having a "gluten intolerance" is also a good excuse for why you are heavy, or lazy, etc. But, to echo SugarFree - it is real, and the people who have it have serious issues they have to deal with.

  • SugarFree||

    Making fun of someone talking about cutting out gluten and claiming it as a miracle cure is what got me banned from Boing Boing oh so long ago.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I want superhealth. I want to note that, no, not a thing is wrong with me. WTF is wrong with modern man?

  • Zeb||

    Having a disease makes you feel special,

    It usually just makes me feel like shit. I must be doing it wrong.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's best have a disease that you don't really have.

  • Swiss Servator||

    Narrator: I'll tell you: we'll split up the week, okay? You take lymphoma, and tuberculosis...
    Marla Singer: You take tuberculosis. My smoking doesn't go over at all.
    Narrator: Okay, good, fine. Testicular cancer should be no contest, I think.
    Marla Singer: Well, technically, I have more of a right to be there than you. You still have your balls.
    Narrator: You're kidding.
    Marla Singer: I don't know... am I?
    Narrator: No, no! What do you want?
    Marla Singer: I'll take the parasites.
    Narrator: You can't have both the parasites, but while you take the blood parasites...
    Marla Singer: I want brain parasites.
    Narrator: I'll take the blood parasites. But I'm gonna take the organic brain dementia, okay?
    Marla Singer: I want that.
    Narrator: You can't have the whole brain, that's...
    Marla Singer: So far you have four, I only have two!
    Narrator: Okay. Take both the parasites. They're yours. Now we both have three...
    Marla Singer: So, we each have three... that's six. What about the seventh day? I want ascending bowel cancer.
    Narrator: [Narrating] The girl had done her homework.
    Narrator: No. No, I WANT bowel cancer.
    [the clerk gives them both a weird look]
    Marla Singer: That's your favorite too? Tried to slip it by me, eh?

  • Rich||

    I knew a guy who suffered with it for years before getting a proper diagnosis.

    What's your take on fibromyalgia?

  • SugarFree||

    I'm not saying Celiac's doesn't exist. I know a couple of people with it. But there is a lot of people who want to avoid gluten (for whatever reason) who claim to have it who don't based on what they eat.

    My friend's wife has Celiac's and Type I diabetes. Poor thing is basically down to meat and certain vegetables.

  • SugarFree||

    As for fibromyalgia, I'm not sure. Eating out and cooking for people quite often has brought me into contact with the gluten hypochondriacs more than the fibro gals.

  • Rich||

    Thanks, SF!

  • MarkLastname||

    Epidemiological studies have found that most people who claim to be gluten intolerant aren't acting ally gluten intolerant. The same is sort of true for milk: the biggest Reason most people develop digestion issues with milk is because they refuse to drink milk for long periods of time because they erroneously think they're allergic to it.

  • Crusty Juggler - #2||

    The same is sort of true for milk: the biggest Reason most people develop digestion issues with milk is because they refuse to drink milk for long periods of time because they erroneously think they're allergic to it.

    This is probably true for me, but if I drink milk it makes my stomach revolt, so I claim intolerance.

  • AlexInCT||

    Small cox?

  • Rhywun||

    They seem to be using a non-American spelling. Foreign sad!

  • Crusty Juggler - #2||

    A crepuscular Gaelic.

  • GILMORE™||

    that sounds like a savory pastry

  • bacon-magic||

    Buadh no bas.

  • ||

    90+ percent of coeliacs are people who gain special attention and power over others by pretending to have an intolerance for gluten. It causes moral superiority and sneering. The remaining percentage of them are poor souls with a very serious medical condition, intolerance for gluten, that is very nasty and potentially fatal.

  • MarkLastname||

    Yeah basically it's a mild form of Munchausen's disease for most people.

    The ones who really have it must be pissed at all the ones faking it.

  • thrakkorzog||

    Yeah, the people I know with actual gluten allergies hate all the fakers. They want to eat all the cookies, and are pissed that everybody is trying to get some unearned sympathy by riding on their coattails. On the upside, they do appreciate that there are a lot more gluten free options out there.

  • Rhywun||

    But happy that food producers are tripping over themselves to please the Munchausen's crowd.

  • ||

    I know someone who really has it.

    He constantly makes fun of the claimers based on their diets.

    It's a trendy condition that social signals much like being allergic to cigarette smoke has become in the last decade or so.

    Back when Hollywood stars smoked even on film and it was cool you could clearly smell smoke on many people but no one objected and no one was allergic.

  • Crusty Juggler - #2||

    Would would wouldn't (eat some white bread, or some rice or something, hun) would.

  • R C Dean||

    Recall that during the election season, Trump vowed to "open up" the country's libel laws to make it easier to sue publications such as The New York Times.

    Indeed, by getting rid of an extraordinarily high legal burden imposed by the courts on "public figures" and allowing everyone who thinks they have been defamed to be treated the same by the courts. Not a trivial proposal, but also not one that is facially ridiculous or even an infringement on the 1A.

    He also called out by name Amazon's Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post (Bezos is also a supporter of Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this website). That Bezos is reportedly working against Trump's executive order on immigration and refugees only makes it more likely that the president might actually try to muzzle the press.

    Wow, that's quite a slide. From "proposed changing an evidentiary standard in defamation" to speculation that he is going to "muzzle the press."

    And I have no idea what Trump's word salad on talking to Bill Gates about the internet was supposed to mean.

  • Homple||

    I am beginning to think that libertarians, as rational as they are and with their emotions under control, might allow a hyperbolic phrase to escape their lips or keyboards now and then.

  • Rich||

    Cosh darn it!

  • Raston Bot||

    wrt Gates

    there he goes again. asking "experts" for counsel.

  • Swiss Servator||

    And thou, Queen Anna, whom four realms obey,
    Dost sometime counsel take and sometimes tea" (tay)

  • Cynical Asshole||

    I have no idea what Trump's word salad on talking to Bill Gates about the internet was supposed to mean.

    I think it means "I hear this Bill Gates fella is really really smart so I'm going to throw some money at him and he;ll figure something out. He's really smart!" It's pretty much just a standard appeal to expert/ authority but delivered in the usual Trumpian rambling/ word salad rhetorical style.

  • John||

    The truth about Trump's attack on NYT v. Sullivan has been explained dozens of times on this forum. The staff has been called out on it continually. Yet, they persist in making the same stupid claim over and over again.

    NYT v. Sullivan is not a particularly complex case to read. And it is available online. You would think someone at reason would bother to read it out of curiosity if nothing else.

  • ||

    Why would you think that?

    He is handing them one holy grail after another and all they can do is spit and curse him. Revealed preferences, John. Revealed preferences.

  • esteve7||

    Progs friends already freaking out that Trump will take away net neutrality.

    The look on their face when I ask "yeah what's the problem"?

  • Zeb||

    Well, it sounds like a good thing. So it must be a good thing. Who cares what the policy actually does if it sounds like something we should want?

  • juris imprudent||

    Considering the prog focus on good intentions (and damn the results) - you really need to try to make them work backwards from a plausible result.

  • Tyler.C||

    Yeah I had this conversation with my co-worker as well. My other Co worker is a PhD economist and pretty much sided with me.

  • american socialist||

    Do you ever ask them if they know what it is?

  • esteve7||

    we need government to protect us against the evil corporations who want to do bad things. And the government is good, and I hate Comcast.

    I'm not really kidding, their understanding is that deep

  • american socialist||

    For as reality based and nuanced and critical thinkers they claim to be....their arguments are often shallow and more emotional. They come off as if they are parrots

  • ThomasD||

    They don't even hate Comcast. What they hate is that Comcast charges them money, and high speed internet service as a public good hasn't quite caught on.

    It's greed. Plain simple greed.

  • colorblindkid||

    I know I'm guilty of complaining sometimes, too, but high-speed internet, undeniably a luxury, being expensive is the ultimate first world problem, and nothing the government needs to get involved in.

  • Crusty Juggler - #2||

    OT: I had the Spicer press conference on at the gym, and I noticed that the vast majority of the reporters are chubby, bearded, white men.

    Not that I have anything against that type, of course...

  • bacon-magic||

    So, would? *thankful that I just shaved my beard

  • Brochettaward||

    I've always pictured you as being completely hairless, sans very thick eyebrows.

  • SugarFree||

    I always got the vision of a freshly raped clown.

  • Crusty Juggler - #2||

    Bald head and chewbacca-like body.

  • Zeb||

    So... Zippy the Pinhead?

  • Citizen X||

    So the White House press room is basically Hit'n'Run? That's... not terrible surprising.

  • Crusty Juggler - #2||

    Yes, that is what I was going for. But, you know, I was covering from an intense gym workout* so I was not on my game. Thanks for stepping up.

    *Ladies, Jesse...

  • Cynical Asshole||

    If it's true that you have a Chewbacca-like body, then you must have reeked of wet dog hair and flop sweat.

  • Crusty Juggler - #2||

    I trim it down, yo! But, yes to the flop-sweat.* And, not to brag, but a young lady who kind of looks like a troll and misses huge spots while shaving her armpits smiled at me again, so I'm doing something right.

    *Wink.

  • Citizen X||

    Nice! So you think she's game for two minutes of mildly distasteful grunting?

  • Crusty Juggler - #2||

    I hope her expectations aren't that high.

  • R C Dean||

    Two minutes?!

    Well, look who has a pocketful of Viagra over here.

  • See Double You||

    But it is terrible.

  • ||

    Do not use "Spicer" and "gym" in the same sentence or the cops will beat the crap out of you.

  • Swiss Servator||

    *stands and begins prolonged ovation*

  • See Double You||

  • SugarFree||

    So you want more Trump articles?

  • Rich||

    No. More Senate Democrats articles, though.

  • R C Dean||

    "Today, in pointless political posturing by the powerless minority, we have Chuck Schumer bursting into tears over a policy that he actually voted for several years ago!"

    "In our compare and contrast segment, let's watch the parties switch sides on whether the filibuster is absolutely essential and ordained by God, or is a meaningless relic of the distant past!"

    Like that?

  • Pro Libertate||

    The comeuppance sure is comeupping.

  • Rich||

    Yes! Please keep stuff like that coming!

  • TheZenomeProject||

    Here's a good one of Cali progs eating one of their own. I would say that boycotting Feinstein is one of the very few things that I agree with the progressives, but I'm terrified to know which moonbat are they looking to for her future successor.

  • Rich||

    Protesters reportedly chanted "Hey hey, ho ho, Jeff Sessions—just say no!"

    Oh, those zany San Franciscans!

  • KDN||

    The creative class is overwhelmingly Democrat. I wish they'd extend some of their energy into protest sloganeering. They've been using that same blasted chant since my mother was in diapers.

  • Rich||

    "Hey hey, no no, Jeff Sessions—he just a ho!"

  • TheZenomeProject||

    The question that I've always had about the artistic class is if they're Democrat by choice or by social force. It's probably a bit of both, honestly, but I'm not sure about the ratio.

  • ||

    The part of their brain responsible for imagination and creativity is highly developed...at the expense of the rational part of their brain.

    That isnt a snark.

  • R C Dean||

    Artists are in the feelz business. No wonder they are progs.

  • ||

    In my family it is 1005% social force.

    My wife teaches and performs ballet. She does some other related things as well.

    She has come a long way since we;ve been married 6 years and is in truth apolitical but suffers from proggie immersion syndrome.

  • ||

    She does pack heat though so she understands the basics.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    I'm terrified to know which moonbat are they looking to for her future successor.

    Senator Sean Penn. Enjoy the nightmares.

  • TheZenomeProject||

    A true Chavista to fully peel off the mask? I want to see!

  • See Double You||

    Hey, I don't whine about the number of Trump articles.

  • SugarFree||

    Just being a dick, man.

  • See Double You||

    Carry on; that's what H&R is all about!

  • AlmightyJB||

    All boycott. All the time.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The Senate Finance Committee's rules state that at least one Democrat must be present in order for the panel to take a vote on nominees. That means Democrats can continue to refuse to show up to future committee votes, making it impossible for the panel to consider a nominee.

    The pay is the same either way.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Um, who run Bartertown?

  • SugarFree||

    Aw, man. Chuck Schumer with a cackling Pelosi riding on his back.

  • Rich||

    cackling Pelosi

    Nice band na....Wait. Too close to Waltzing Matilda.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That would be true, but for one thing: Max came to town.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "Well, ain't they a pair, Raggedy Nan?"

  • SugarFree||

    "Break a deal, get a chemical peel."

  • Auric Demonocles||

    I can't wait for all the calls about "obstructionists" which will surely be coming any second...

  • Pro Libertate||

    They sure have a lot of credibility, don't they?

  • DOOMco||

    *checks facebook*
    Oof, fresh out.

  • ThomasD||

    Committee chair has the authority to send the Sergent at Arms out to bring one of them back.

  • Pro Libertate||

    These aren't your goofy TV Nazis.

  • R C Dean||

    The Senate Finance Committee's rules state that at least one Democrat must be present in order for the panel to take a vote on nominees.

    Gee, I wonder if that rule could be changed?

  • one true athena||

    "well we obviously don't need any department the Democrats can't be bothered to discuss. So next up, bill for the elimination of HHS"

  • MarkLastname||

    That'd be just so great. Best . Trolling. Ever.

  • R C Dean||

    Boycotting Treasury?

    "Nobody gets nuttin' until we have a new Treasury Secretary. How are we supposed to cut checks if the guy responsible for cutting checks can't do his job."

    Boycotting HHS?

    "The entire Department is on a leave of absence, charged against their vacation, until the vote is held."

  • Rebel Scum||

    Pai favors free speech but not treating the Internet as a public utility. That's exactly right.

    I have it on good authority that all of Trump's nominations are bigoted, redneck, anti-science, racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, misogynist, sexist fascists.

    (did I miss anything?)

  • Raston Bot||

    self-hating jim crows

  • Pro Libertate||

    This reminds me of the Indian I ran across in a Boone 7/11--with a heavy, Southern drawl.

  • colorblindkid||

    My friends are all absurdly pro-Net Neutrality and are convinced Pai is going to control the internet like China does, completely unaware that net neutrality is the means in which the government would gain more control of the internet.

  • Lee Genes||

    I've tried more than once to explain that the terms of net neutrality require government to be the arbiter of content on the internet and that means the government effectively controls the internet, down to the last packet if it so desires. That once in the door, there's no getting the government out. It always falls on deaf ears and the responses are usually along the lines of "Comcast throttled my 16 terabytes of torrent downloads!"

  • kbolino||

    It always falls on deaf ears and the responses are usually along the lines of "Comcast throttled my 16 terabytes of torrent downloads!"

    Which the government is totally not going to do because reasons. I'm not sure what's worse, that these people think it's their right to get their personal torrent downloads unthrottled at the expense of network operators using network engineering to provide an optimal experience for most customers, or that they are stupid enough to believe the government isn't going to impose more restrictions on them once they get to set network policy. Maybe the dumbest part of all of this is that once net neutrality is imposed, network operators will have even less reason to upgrade their physical infrastructure, which is allegedly what network neutrality is supposed to incentivize.

  • DarrenM||

    Half those downloads were probably pirated.

  • Jerryskids||

    Not to horn in on JATNAS' territory here, but a thought occurred to me this morning and I've been mulling it over. On the TV they're showing these crowds of Trump protestors and that's all they're ever identified as, Trump protestors. Where are these people coming from? More importantly, why isn't the media asking where they're coming from?

    I assumed they were mostly people like college students and union workers and government workers with nothing better to do, with a healthy chunk of paid Soros astroturfers in there - but then it occurred to me, they're professional do-gooders. Like community organizer Barack Obama - what the hell is a community organizer and who signs their paycheck?

  • Jerryskids||

    For a shitload of them, I'll bet you sign their paychecks. Every damn do-gooder group out there ain't doing good for free and they ain't doing good with their own money, there's a whole world of government grant money out there for do-goodery. Why help the poor with your own money when, with a good grant proposal writer (a very lucrative occupation, btw) you can get some of that sweet government money and not only fee help the poor but pay yourself quite well to do it. And with that sweet government money comes some pretty loose strings as to how exactly you spend that "help for the helpless" money - paying for lobbying the government for more money to help the poor can certainly be worked in their somewhere.

    So how many of these "Trump protestors" are drawing a paycheck directly from the government or a government-funded do-gooder group, either directly by being employed by the group or paid $10 an hour to march around with a sign - with the pocket money being provided by the "public outreach" fund of Planned Parenthood or Greenpeace or the local animal welfare group or homeless advocacy group or drug rehab advocacy group or welfare advocacy group or any one of the thousands of "advocacy" groups who mainly advocate the government give them some more money? The same sorts of bullshit "community" groups Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and Barack Obama and every goddamn tree-hugging granola-crunching loud sanctimonious dirty smelly hippie you've ever seen work for?

  • Jerryskids||

    And why the hell ain't the TV man asking that question?

    Because the TV man is in on the scam?

  • lafe.long||

    And why the hell ain't the TV man asking that question?

    Because the TV man is in on the scam?

    You need to contact ProjectVeritas.

  • ||

    Why can't some of the commentariat here get us some grant money for commenting then ?

    Are we not doing the Lords work ?

    If we got paid by the letter Agile Cyborg could clean up some nights.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Every damn do-gooder group out there ain't doing good for free and they ain't doing good with their own money, there's a whole world of government grant money out there for do-goodery.

    If Trump's first budget proposal to Congress zeroes out all of those grants, it'll go a long way towards offsetting some of his other horseshit.

  • John||

    A lot of it is also funded by the big charitable trusts like the Ford Foundation. The Progs infiltrated the charitable trust industry back in the 60s and 70s and murdered them and turned them into zombie entities that fund Progressive politics.

  • Lee Genes||

    I've heard that before. Is there any history available on that topic?

  • John||

    That is a pretty good guess Jerry. One of the reasons the left is so terrified of any cut in government spending is that their astro turf groups depend upon government funding to operate.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Are you familiar with welfare?

  • Jerryskids||

    Yes, yes I am. Food stamp program run by the Dept. of Agriculture - you might think (if you're very silly) that the Department of Agriculture might have some interest in making the Food Stamp program as small as possible, as cheap as possible, but, no, their incentives are to make the Food Stamp program as damn big as they can. More money, more employees, more inputs to point to as proof of what a great job they're doing. To get as many people signed up for Food Stamps as possible, they give grants to "community outreach" non-profits who are paid to go around and scrounge up as many Food Stamp applicants as they possibly can. And the activists who run those community outreach non-profits pay themselves quite nicely for their work, too. How big a slush fund you think they got for "administrative overhead" that might be used to hire protestors on the grounds that, hey, Trump's probably going to cut welfare spending and the Food Stamp program and so that makes paying protestors a legitimate expense - as if anybody from the Dept. of Agriculture gives a shit what they do with the money or ever bothers checking to see where it's all going.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Don't forget disability fraud.

  • american socialist||

    Brings up a good point. How much grant money is given out by the federal government to political non profits? Does like the Sierra club get some? Anyone know?

  • Jerryskids||

    It's been years since I checked, but there's some non-profit registry encyclopedia (4 volumes, IIRC) that lists every non-profit registered in the US and some basic info on them, including what sort of money they're taking in. I used to thumb through it at the college library, along with the state budget info that nobody but me and about three other people in the whole state ever looked at.

    I can tell you that the crap about the NRA being the largest political lobbying group in the country is nonsense - the AARP and AFSCME and I think the NEA spend far more - but of course their "advocacy" isn't called political lobbying.

  • Lee Genes||

    Man I hate the AARP

  • Rhywun||

    Out of curiosity - why?

  • Lee Genes||

    Hard-left politics

  • ||

    It's basically an insurance remarketer.

    Along with some other products.

    road side assistance etc. etc.

  • Billy Bones||

    I always thought the NEA was the biggest spender, but I can also see that being AARP (don't take my social security away or I'll be eating cat food)

  • Billy Bones||

    This is all fine and well, but what I want to know is when am I going to be "allowed" to play poker on-line?

    And OT: I see my hero (sarc) has screwed over the Raiders and their move to Vegas by withdrawing his financing because he didn't get his way. Fuck Adelson and every one of his crappy casinos.

  • ||

    Why would you want to play online ?

    It has proven to be cheated and I don't know how it can be stopped.

    There are simply too many ways to gain an edge. If you posted this surely you are aware of Russ Hamiltons gig ? He beat them out of millions before he got caught and nothing happened to him. The owners flat fucked the players afterwards and nothing happened to them.

    I started playing online when Party Poker was still beta stage. The first day I could see everyone's hand until the flop.

    One player can put numerous players on the same table or a group can communicate by IM or telephone during hands.

    Watch some of the videos on youtube about the subject.

  • ||

    Also that's just the players cheating.

    I know someone who bought the Online Poker Room in a Box software.

    He says you can dial in anything you want to happen. ( and why not of course)

  • josh||

    it was explained to me that net neutrality merely protects people's ability to have the same information as the 1%.

    apparently, that wasn't possible before the government got involved. you see, education wasn't declining, it's just that we weren't allowed to know any better, and now we're free!

  • Mickey Rat||

    What is dusmsying about net neutrality is that they do not mind if it results in the net being overall slower for everybody, as long as someone does not get faster service than they do.

    It is the tech equivalent of income inequality. It is OK if the pie is smaller and their slice is smsller, as long as someone does not get an "unfairly" large slice.

  • american socialist||

    Isn't net neutrality simply saying others should pay for your pirate bay hub? You know subsidizing the people who hog bandwidth.

  • Bra Ket||

    So an Indian guy in charge of the country's IT? How stereotypical can you get?

  • geriatric1943||

    Who are you and what have you done with reason? Who says that President Trump will stifle Freedom of Expression? You must be projecting again, and it doesn't look good on you.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Donald Trump May Try To Stifle Freedom of Expression

    Reason "may" stop writing clickbait headlines based on ridiculous suppositions.

  • Devastator||

    Nope it's exactly wrong. Certain items as important as health care and the internet do need regulations so that they remain available to all rather than just the 1%.

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