September 9th, 2008

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What's "Post Partisan" and What's "Vigorous Debate"

There is a long list of words we use when I want to make something you do bad and what I do good. In my profession, anything involving "partisan debate" is bad but "rigorous debate" is good.

So this morning I went to this panel on a "post-partisan debate" on broadband policy. Being my usual contrary self, I took the position that the notion that this is "partisan" or "rancorous" is a crock. We have a very strong debate around ideology. Should the government play a role in broadband deployment and development? Yes? No? To what extent and on which issues? As it happens, because of where the political spectrum falls out, you will find more Ds on the "government has a role" and more Rs on the "government should stay out of it," but you will find lots of Clintonite Ds extolling competition over regulation and lots of Huckabee Rs saying that the free market is not some sacred end-all and be-all of public policy.

I also push back on "rancorous." We have a lot of people willing to regurgitate bullet points and call the other side names. Get over it. Grown ups understand that there will always be some folks screaming Google Shill or Telco Shill at opposing points of view. And that sometimes they will be right about who is saying what and why. Big deal.

As an example of how a vigorous process advances the debate, I point to the Comcast/BitTorrent Order. Love or hate the merits of the decision, the six month discussion highlighted the issues with concrete examples and generated some rough points of agreement in that (a) even carriers and the Commissioners voting against the Order agreed that broadband providers should make their terms of service -- especially any limits -- clear and that consumers should get what they pay for based on the ToS; (b) most parties are comfortable with at least some role for the FCC in this, albeit what that role should be and when the FCC should act is still very much debated; and (c) once the court case is over, we will have settled what the current law says about FCC authority.

I'm hopeful that the ITIF folks will post the video online. I thought it was a pretty good discussion.
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Apparently, It Will Be a Very Busy Ellul Zman

So prosecutors working their way up the chain are now starting to file criminal charges against the Agriprocessor upper management.
http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080909/NEWS/80909015/0/NEWS09

This has prompted the OU to finally seriously consider withdrawing its authorization.
http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/breaking/110297.html

I would note that right before the High Holidays is an excellent time for this to occur. Perhaps it will encourage folks to reflect on what is or is not "their problem." But I doubt it.