What Does the Shift Toward Online Video Streaming Mean for Regulatory Policy?

Live Streaming

A flurry of announcements that HBOCBS, and Lionsgate and Tribeca Enterprises will stream video content online has prompted plenty of speculation about its potential success or impending failure. Some claim it proves that all consumers want to purchase video programming on an ‘à la carte’ basis. Others claim that HBO’s online service is “doomed before it even starts.”

I’m inclined to side with Representative Bobby Rush, who is optimistic that the trend will positively impact the video marketplace while remaining mindful that it’s too soon to predict the ultimate fate of à la carte video streaming.

Obama’s Internet power grab is all about cronyism

Obama's Net Neutrality

The Internet is pretty awesome. Thirty years ago, the idea that a decentralized network of millions of users and dozens of service providers could actually work in a functional way would seem crazy. Yet, the World Wide Web has triumphed as ultimate proof that markets work with minimal government regulation. From the work of millions of self-interested actors has emerged an awning electronic dimension where people can interact, learn, play, shop, and watch, at a minimal cost.

Apparently, not for the federal government. On Monday, President Barack Obama urged the Federal Communications Commission to saddle Internet service providers (ISPs) with many of the same burdensome regulations that telephone companies have to comply with. Why would the president seek to regulate a network that seems to be working efficiently without the government? The answer, unsurprisingly, is cronyism.

For years, Internet giants like Facebook, Google, and Netflix have been pushing for network neutrality to avoid paying for the traffic their users hog from ISPs. As it currently stands, Netflix and YouTube account for half of all peak-hour download traffic in the United States, often leading to slow buffering speeds during prime hours. As a result, some ISPs have sought to provide better service to their customers by suggesting that the Netflix and YouTubes of the world pay slightly more for their users to stream videos faster — a pretty clear-cut win for customers if ever there was one.

Why the new Republican Congress has a mandate — in one chart

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On January 23, 2009, in a meeting with Congressional leaders about his stimulus proposal, newly-inaugurated President Obama responded to Republican critiques of his plan with, “I won.” In another meeting on February 25, 2010, this time about the soon-to-be-passed healthcare law, Obama responded to a question from John McCain about kickbacks in the bill with, “The election’s over.” And in a November 5, 2014 press conference after the recent midterm elections, President Obama still maintained the same stubborn arrogance about his political position by arguing that the 2/3 of the country who didn’t vote still support him. The facts, however, paint an entirely different picture.

On Election Day 2014 as each state’s results rolled in, and more Senate seats and even deep blue state governorships fell to the GOP, it was clear a wave election was taking place. Usually when a wave happens, the new majority party has mandate to pursue their policy. The Republican Revolution of 1994 caused President Clinton to retreat and compromise with the new majority on many planks of their Contract with America.

Our Veterans… and Those Who Would Forget Them

Veterans Day

The concept of American exceptionalism is one of those ideas that tends to be debated down ideological lines. Do we offer a better version of life here in this country, where we place a premium on things like freedom, the sanctity of human rights, and the messy beauty of diversity of thought and the power of unrestricted speech? Or is it all just some ego trip dreamed up by warmongers who want to leave a small legacy when they die? If one tends toward the former, which is to say they believe the United States offers something that has no precedent in human history, then chances are that person values the men and women who defend that unique system. However, if one tends toward the latter, they may find themselves agreeing with a recent Salon piece, presented in all its cynical glory by Legal Insurrection yesterday:

Most Americans appreciate the sacrifice these people make when they volunteer to join the military, putting their lives on the line to defend our freedoms.

The far left folks at Salon are not most people.

They have a slightly (ahem) different interpretation of that sacrifice and that’s why they published this piece by David Masciotra:

“You don’t protect my freedom: Our childish insistence on calling soldiers heroes deadens real democracy

Communists close borders while the free world lets the walls fall

25thanniversary

This is a photo of the 300,000 people who gathered yesterday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The freedom to travel is an inherent right that libertarians and conservatives sometimes take for granted. Perhaps this is a result of the U.S. government conditioning us to view travel as a privilege, because without a license from the Department of Motor Vehicles we cannot legally drive on public roads, and without being cleared for air travel by the Transportation Security Agency, we can’t fly.

The right to travel freely does not stop at state borders and it should not stop at international borders. And yet many of us support immigration reform in the form of stricter border control. After all, we can’t have open borders with a welfare state, and an increase in the number of needy people would increase the size of the already-bloated welfare state, including entitlements like Social Security which began running a deficit in 2010 which will quadruple in the next 20 years.

The size of the welfare state is a huge problem. Since the Congress seems incapable of cutting welfare spending, many people focus on changing the number of people receiving benefits. The most palatable policy changes that can temporarily address the number of people receiving Social Security checks is increasing the retirement age and making Social Security means-tested.

Rat head in the Coke bottle: Getting Republicans out of the tax-raising business

Grover Norquist

Americans for Tax Reform’s President, Grover Norquist, tells it like this:

The Republican Party is a brand. Like Coca-Cola. Consumers know what Coke tastes like. It tastes the same from every bottle and out of every soda fountain. There’s no guessing what Coke tastes like from one drink to the next.

Since ATR’s inception in 1985 at the behest of Ronald Reagan, it’s been trying to brand the Republican Party as the party of lower taxes — the party opposed to tax increases. That attempt has been largely successful.

ATR’s “Taxpayer Protection” pledge puts candidates and elected officials on record opposing tax increases. And it holds them accountable when they stray.

So, when a Republican attempts to raise taxes, that damages the brand. It’s like a rat head in a Coke bottle. Someone drinking a Coke wouldn’t discover a rat head in the bottle and say to themselves, “Hmmm, perhaps I’ll finish this bottle later.” No. They would seriously consider whether or not they would drink another Coke ever again. They might tweet about it, show their friends, and discourage others from drinking Coke. That’s a branding problem.

Let’s consider a few surprising gubernatorial pick-ups from last Tuesday and see what those Republicans did that helped them cross the finish line.

In Illinois, Maryland, and Massachusetts, the Republican candidates for governor largely ran against their opponents’ records on taxes.

Successful Republican challenger Bruce Rauner in Illinois outlined his tax plan online:

The Quinn-Madigan 67% income tax hike.

Midterm bloodbath reveals cracks in Democrats’ racial, gender divisions

Senate Democratic Leadership

The midterm elections were an epic butt-kicking for Democrats in more ways than one. Not only was it the second disastrous midterm election in a row for Democrats, it also revealed some serious cracks in the party’s carefully crafted electoral model whereby Democrats divide voters along racial, gender, and socio-economic lines, and then cobble together a majority by stoking grievances against those not in the protected classes.

First, let’s analyze of just how disastrous this election was for Democrats. On election day, Republicans needed a net gain of six seats to take control of the upper chamber, and by midnight Republicans had picked up seven seats, lost none, and are poised to pick up two more seats after the final vote counts in Alaska (where the Republican challenger is up 49%-45% on Democrat incumbent Mark Begich), and a run-off in Louisiana, giving them a net gain of nine seats in this election cycle. And they almost lost a seat in Virginia that no one even had on the radar.

In the U.S. House, Republicans started the day with a 233-199 majority, and by the time the polls closed on November 4, Republicans had swelled their majority to 243 seats (won 15 seats, lost 3), with the chance of that total being 249 seats once a half dozen close races report their final tallies. This represents the largest Republican majority as of now since the administration of Harry Truman, and if the other seats break their way, it will be the largest majority since the administration of Woodrow Wilson.

Prepare for the Paradigm Shift

Paradigm Shift

There are two ways to solve any problem. The first could be characterized as “pre-rational.” People using this method seek to solve a problem by asking “What has worked in the past?” This method is empirical, intuitive, and inductive. It is an approach that leverages the mistakes of others, and the wisdom implicit in our customs and tradition.

As a rule, primitive people solved problems using this method. They did what worked, and didn’t ask WHY it worked. A few examples will illustrate:

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signs on to Rand Paul 2016

Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled his support for Rand Paul’s potential 2016 presidential campaign in a wide-ranging interview with the Lexington Herald-Reader after Tuesday night’s Republican sweep of key Senate races and McConnell’s own stunning defeat of his Democratic challenger.

From the interview:

McConnell also is intrigued by Paul’s plans for 2016, when Kentucky’s junior senator faces re-election to his Senate seat while potentially running for president.

It’s a safe bet that Paul won’t be the only member of McConnell’s GOP caucus who considers trying for a move to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Does that require a tricky balance?

“(It’s) not tricky at all,” McConnell said. “Obviously, I’m a big supporter of Rand Paul. We’ve developed a very tight relationship, and I’m for him.”

For president?

“Whatever he decides to do,” McConnell said. “I don’t think he’s made a final decision on that. But he’ll be able to count on me.”

Paul endorsed McConnell in early 2013, months before McConnell’s tea party-backed primary challenger — Matt Bevin — materialized. McConnell trounced Bevin in the May primary.by an almost 2-to-1 margin.

Optimism and Gridlock in the Senate: YOU SHALL NOT PASS

Shall Not Pass

A criticism of conservatives in the last several election cycles — this past Tuesday being a momentous exception — is that they weren’t interested enough in watching the movements and emerging talking points of the “other side.” They were beaten time and again because they were constantly reacting and playing defense, instead of observing their opponent’s gameplan and coming up with some anticipatory plays of their own.

Tuesday may represent a shift in that attitude. However, there’s only so much time to relax before figuring out where the Progressives want to go next. And they’re already revealing it. Gridlock, people. And it’ll be the Republicans fault. I saw it on Twitter yesterday, from a Progressive who has an uncanny ability to distill the marching orders and throw them out there first: to paraphrase, he said the more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s on the Republicans to govern now and he expects more gridlock.

You got that? Republicans will be governing and so the gridlock will be theirs.

Noah Rothman at Hotair has an excellent piece deconstructing — and offering some advice about — this not-exactly-new Democrat meme, which Jonathan Chait, as is his way, has introduced to the cresftfallen kids who are wondering just what the hell happened Tuesday:

This is a truly impressive bit of spiral thinking. During the previous two years, gridlock was bad. For the next two years, it’s bad that the GOP still wants to create gridlock to avoid taking responsibility for governing, but we need to let them continue gridlock to avoid having people get excited about them. Oh… and we just need to wait for Hillary.

 


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