Pondering the Pundits

“Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

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Zephyr Teachout: Google is coming after critics in academia and journalism. It’s time to stop them.

About 10 years ago, Tim Wu, the Columbia Law professor who coined the term network neutrality, made this prescient comment: “To love Google, you have to be a little bit of a monarchist, you have to have faith in the way people traditionally felt about the king.”

Wu was right. And now, Google has established a pattern of lobbying and threatening to acquire power. It has reached a dangerous point common to many monarchs: The moment where it no longer wants to allow dissent.

This summer, a small team of well-respected researchers and journalists, the Open Markets team at the New America think tank (where I have been a fellow since 2014), dared to speak up about Google, in the mildest way. When the European Union fined Google for preferring its own subsidiary companies to its rival companies in search results, it was natural that Open Markets, a group dedicated to studying and exposing distortions in markets, including monopoly power, would comment. The researchers put out a 150-word statement praising the E.U.’s actions. They wrote, “By requiring that Google give equal treatment to rival services instead of privileging its own, [the E.U.] is protecting the free flow of information and commerce upon which all democracies depend.” They called upon the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice and state attorneys general to apply the traditional American monopoly law, which would require separate ownership of products and services and the networks that sell products and services.

Trevor Timm: We’ve got less than 24 hours left to protect net neutrality

Giant corporations shouldn’t dictate how we use the internet. Most people agree with that principle, and that’s why the Federal Communications Commission passed the incredibly popular net neutrality rules in 2015. The Trump administration’s political appointees are attempting to roll these protections back. You’ve got less than 24 hours left to make your voice heard.

Net neutrality is the general principle that all content and information on the internet should be treated equally by internet service providers (ISPs) such as Comcast or Verizon. Once you pay for access to the internet, ISPs should not be able to block or throttle traffic to particular websites, or allow for “paid prioritization” that speeds up websites at the expense of others.

For example, Comcast – which is owned by NBCUniversal – shouldn’t be able to decide one day to slow down your connection to Netflix to benefit a competing streaming service like Hulu.

Dean Baker: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: A Government Agency for Promoting Growth

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was set up in the wake of the financial crisis to prevent against the sorts of abuses we witnessed from the mortgage industry during the housing bubble years. The idea was that consumers should not have to worry about buying financial products that jeopardize their financial security, as turned out to be the case with many of the mortgages sold during the bubble years. The CFPB would limit the types of products that could be sold and the ways in which they could be marketed to protect consumers.

This was generally seen as an effort to ensure fairness. Most people are not very educated about financial matters. That is not an indictment of their intelligence; it’s just recognition of the fact that they have jobs and lives. Those who don’t work in finance or a related industry have little reason to become an expert on the industry’s products.

E. J. Dionne Jr.: A hurricane of conservative hypocrisy

One of the barriers to sensible politics is the opportunism that so often infects our debates about what government is there for, where we want it to be energetic and how we can keep it from violating the basic rights of citizens.

The muddled nature of our discussions of these matters has been brought home by two unfortunate events: the mass suffering unleashed by Hurricane Harvey and President Trump’s pardon of former sheriff Joe Arpaio.

In the case of the vicious storm, we are reminded that some politicians think government is great when it helps their own constituents and wasteful if it helps anyone else.

Francine Prose: The sad truth about Teleprompter Trump

If they weren’t working for Donald Trump, one might almost feel sorry for his speechwriters. How they must labor over those mellifluous phrases urging tolerance and love – only to see their hard work undone the minute the boss gets his hands on an electronic device.

But the ones who deserve our sympathy are the American people, and the people of the world, who know that this president is mouthing pieties that he privately mocks, who know they are being lied to, and who can’t seem to make the pretense, the meanness and the hypocrisy stop. [..]

We feel reasonably certain that the adults who convince a child to apologize for his reckless or damaging behavior will try to dissuade that child from doing further harm. But we have yet to identify the responsible adult who will gently and legally take the baseball bat, or the brick – or the nuclear option – away from the dangerous child in the White House.