Fox News is promoting another legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act that originated in a right-wing think-tank and was hyped by conservative blogs. The State of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit based on a problematic theory that alleges tax credits within federally-run health insurance marketplaces called "exchanges" are unauthorized, which was developed by Michael Cannon, Director of Health Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, and National Review Online contributing editor and Case Western Reserve University School of Law professor Jonathan H. Adler. But Fox News has not only failed to report the extensive debunking of this tax credit theory, it has also mischaracterized this challenge to tax credits offered in exchanges as a "serious" constitutional one, although the new constitutional arguments are even more far-fetched than the original statutory claims.
Conservative media have claimed that the Obama administration is waging a "war" on "cheap," "clean" coal that will cause blackouts and massive layoffs. In fact, the Obama administration has simply implemented long overdue and legally required clean air regulations to protect public health without hurting electric reliability or employment, and much of the transition away from coal is due to the rise of cheaper, cleaner natural gas.
Following relentless attacks on the solar industry in the wake of Solyndra's bankruptcy, wind power has become the latest target of the right-wing campaign against renewable energy. But contrary to the myths propagated by the conservative media, wind power is safe, increasingly affordable, and has the potential to significantly reduce pollution and U.S. reliance on fossil fuels.
Several media outlets have distorted comments by an EPA official, falsely suggesting that he said "oil companies should be crucified." In fact, the official was using an analogy, which he has since apologized for, to describe a common approach to regulatory enforcement: making examples out of those who break the law.
From the April 13 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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The Beastie Boys may have finished what the FCC started. One Beastie Boy, anyway. And Phil Kerpen of Americans For Prosperity is not happy about it.
First, the backstory. On February 10, the Securities and Exchange Commission informed AT&T that they would not be allowed to block shareholders from voting on a proposal requesting that the telecom giant commit to operating its wireless data network in accordance with net neutrality principles. That proposal was put forth by an asset management firm representing Michael Diamond, a.k.a. Mike D of the Beastie Boys, and other AT&T investors.
The SEC's ruling was significant because the net neutrality order passed by the FCC in December 2010 contained a huge carve-out for wireless broadband. Wireless providers were exempted from the "unreasonable discrimination" rule which prevents fixed broadband providers from discriminating against or favoring certain forms of content based on political or financial considerations. The FCC argued they needed to "better understand how the mobile broadband market is developing before determining whether adjustments to this framework are necessary."
In the past the SEC has allowed wireless carriers to block shareholder votes on net neutrality, agreeing with the companies that it was a matter of "day-to-day" business and thus outside shareholder oversight. In the February 10 letter, the SEC argued that net neutrality had become AT&T's "most significant public policy issue," owing to the many legislative and regulatory battles it has sparked over the past year, and is thus "appropriate for shareholder consideration."
Phil Kerpen, vice president of Americans For Prosperity, doesn't care for the Federal Communications Commission's Open Internet Rule. In his new book, Democracy Denied, Kerpen devotes an entire chapter to denouncing the passage of the rule last December, which he called "the darkest day in 372 years" (betraying a propensity for histrionics and a shaky grasp of lunar science). He calls it a "regulatory coup d'etat" and a "sweeping new government regulatory power that would prohibit Internet service providers (ISPs) from innovating in their own networks." Again and again, Kerpen writes that the FCC is now "regulating the Internet."
But all the ire Kerpen deploys is aimed squarely against a phantom, a crushing and onerous regulatory structure that does not exist. For all the words spent attacking what (he says) the Open Internet Rule will do, he never describes what the rule actually does -- not a single word from the rule is quoted, not a single news report describing the intent of the rule is referenced.
The reality of the FCC's action does not comport with the years-long campaign of high-pitched invective telecom shills like Kerpen and AFP have waged against the push for open internet policies. Thus, we get an elaborate shadowboxing routine.
The standard refrain from the anti-internet freedom lobby has, for some time now, been that the FCC's new open internet rules represent a "takeover" or "regulation of the internet." It's an argument that didn't have a lot of factual juice to begin with, and now that the FCC's rules are actually on the books, it comes off as pretty foolish.
But Americans For Prosperity vice president Phil Kerpen is sticking with it, and glamming it up with some amusing histrionics. This morning The Examiner published an excerpt of Kerpen's grandiloquently subtitled book: Democracy Denied: How Obama Is Ignoring You and Bypassing Congress to Radically Transform America -- and How to Stop Him. The battle for the internet, it seems, has transcended the stratosphere:
On Dec. 21, 2010, President Obama's Federal Communications Commission fittingly chose the darkest day in 372 years to impose potentially devastating regulations on the previously free-market Internet.
Early that morning, for the first time since 1638, the moon was eclipsed, blocking out the sun on the day of the winter solstice, already the darkest day of the year.
And just as the moon was eclipsed that day, Congress, the American people, and our constitutional system of government will be eclipsed if the FCC's regulatory coup d'etat -- orchestrated by the White House -- is allowed to stand.
Before we even get to internet policy, I have to point out that Kerpen doesn't quite understand the moon (a common affliction on the right). A lunar eclipse -- like the one that happened last December -- occurs when the Earth blocks the sun's rays from reaching the moon. What Kerpen describes is a solar eclipse, in which the moon blocks out the sun and prevents its rays from reaching the Earth.
Kerpen's poor description of lunar science is eclipsed (sorry) by his willful distortion of the new FCC rules:
On a party-line vote, three Democrats at the FCC decided to substitute their own judgment for the legitimate democratic process.
Those three FCC commissioners ordered that the Internet be regulated in the name of network neutrality, despite the fact that regulations had almost no support in Congress.
Untrue. The new rules apply only to internet service providers, and prevent them from regulating internet users' access to lawful online content. Nothing in the rules gives the FCC authority to "regulate" the content internet users can access.
Even still, Kerpen argues the American people are on his side:
The public overwhelmingly opposed regulation. A Rasmussen poll conducted at the time of the order found that only 21 percent of Americans supported Internet regulation, with 54 percent opposed. The poll also found that 56 percent of Americans thought the FCC would use its newly created powers to pursue a political agenda.
How did we get to the point where the FCC would ignore all of that and regulate the Internet? It took a remarkable political effort from the far Left, and a breakdown in our constitutional system that allowed regulators to bypass Congress. That breakdown must be corrected.
Here is the Rasmussen poll in question, which, given that it enthusiastically adopts the false right-wing framing of internet "regulation," falls more into the category of push-polling. A sample question: "What is the best way to protect those who use the Internet -- more government regulation or more free market competition?" That's both a false choice and a misrepresentation of the open internet rules.
Hysterically bad moon science aside, Kerpen's piece is just a retread of the same stale argument the opponents of internet freedom have been flogging for years. The message discipline is impressive, and likely appreciated in the corporate offices of telecom providers who are eager to promulgate that very same talking point. Verizon this week sued the FCC over the new rules, saying the agency asserted "broad authority to impose potentially sweeping and unneeded regulations on broadband networks and services and on the Internet itself."
KERPEN RESPONDS UPDATE:
Phil Kerpen responds via Twitter:
An excellent riposte to something I didn't write. No response thus far to the real point -- that he lies about the FCC's open internet rules.
Many media conservatives have recently embraced and promoted the accusation, almost in unison, that President Obama has "lied" or broken promises. In many cases, these accusations are based on distortions of comments he has made or misrepresentations of campaign pledges.