One of America's leading authorities on technology and telecom policy, Motley is a writer, television and radio commentator, political and policy strategist, lecturer, debater, activist, and policy advisor to The Heartland Institute.
Latest posts by Seton Motley (see all)
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Back before Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga, there was a British band that did pretty well – Pink Floyd. Aside from gigantic albums The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, they released in 1987 A Momentary Lapse of Reason. (“A Momentary Lapse of Reason” is also a current Hong Kong television show – although to be honest I didn’t know this until I Bing searched the Floyd album.)
It was of this phrase – “a momentary lapse of reason” – of which I thought on Thursday when the Barack Obama Administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) delayed its latest in a long line of power grab “votes.”
This delay was a momentary grasp of reason. An inordinately rare moment of clarity from a government that most of the time obfuscates and distorts Reality – rather than acknowledging and adhering to it. Far too often, government – and this administration especially – acts ridiculously unreasoned and unreasonable.
Even these FCC “votes” are a farce – all part of a scam to make FCC power grabs look like some sort of democratic process. They are anything but.
The FCC is not an elected body – like, say, Congress. Congress passes laws with at least the appearance of the imprimatur of the will of We the People – because we elected these people to pass our laws.
The FCC is made up of five unelected voting Commissioners (one of whom also serves as Chairman). Three are from the President’s Party – the remaining two from the opposition Party. They are selected – not elected. This President chose these Democrats – the Senate Minority Leadership the Republicans.
There is then a nigh-always-perfunctory Senate confirmation vote. Which anymore is as distantly close as We the People get to having any sort of say in what the FCC does.
Because the FCC is supposed to operate within the confines of the laws passed by our Congress. But as is the case with nigh every Executive Branch agency – that is more and more becoming less and less of even an afterthought.
The FCC grabs whatever it wants – and then lawyers up (paid for with our money) to defend its grabs in court (paid for with our money). The put-upon, increasingly diminishing private sector tries with less and less success to fend off the relentlessly-power-grabbing, exceedingly unlawful Leviathan.
This FCC is way more power-grabby and partisan than any previous Commission. There have been with this current Commission multiple times more 3-2 “votes” – than the past five Commissions combined. Fundamental transformation, indeed.
All of which makes Thursday’s delayed “vote” all the more remarkable.
“Members of the Federal Communications Commission could not agree on a set-top box proposal that requires cable operators to provide their shows and movies on alternative devices rather than just on a cable box.”
Does the FCC have even a tangential tether to Congressional permission to do this? Of course not. The proposed grab is so terrible for the private sector, its legality so dubious, FCC Democrat Chairman Tom Wheeler couldn’t even get his two Democrat Commissioners to agree. Well, one of them. God bless Jessica Rosenworcel – and her momentary grasp of reason:
“Jessica Rosenworcel…expressed concern over potential copyright violations faced by television programmers. She said at a congressional hearing this month that the plan would make the F.C.C. too meddlesome in program licenses and that the agency might not have the legal authority to act as a watchdog over those agreements. It was a rare disagreement among the Democratic majority.”
Are we out of the woods on this? Of course not. This is still the Obama Administration, after all.
“Ms. Rosenworcel, in a joint statement with the two other Democrats on the five-member commission, said on Thursday morning that she supported the goal of the proposal….”
But for now, a momentary grasp of reason. That grants a targeted stay to a private sector under omni-directional government assault.
We’ll take them when we can get them.
[Originally Published at Red State]