Tag Archives: politics

How green is the astroturf over there?

A recent article in Fierce Telecom titled "Special access, end of PSTN no secret to wireline marketplace" , written by Bruce Mehlman was a response to an article written by Bruce Kushnick, who is no friend of the incumbent telephone companies, for sure.

But who is Bruce Mehlman and the organization he co-founded, the "Internet Innovation Alliance"? Good question.

The tone of the article would imply that they're an advocacy group for broadband by any means necessary – they want speed and don't care under what terms and conditions it's available, as long as it's "cheap".  Seems fair and innocent enough, from the "cheap, fast, good, pick two" – they chose cheap and fast. I disagree with this strategy, but more power to them.

But wait – what they're advocating is exactly what AT&T is trying to carry out with SB636 in Michigan. I can't help but think that's a bit odd, so I dig a bit to see what the story is with this "Internet Innovation Alliance" that I've never heard of before. What I found was interesting.

With some digging, I found their list of members.

I'll reproduce it here:


1 Economy Incorported Donor Supported by AT&T and Verizon
American Council of the Blind Donor AT&T and Verizon are major sponsors of their event.
The American Conservative Union Ideological Not specifically related to AT&T. Generally supports elimination of government regulations.
Applied Optoelectronics Supplier Supplier for AT&T and Verizon's FTTP products
Alcatel-Lucent Supplier/Common Origins One of AT&T's largest suppliers. Lucent was a spinoff of Bell Labs, which was at one time AT&T.
Americans for Tax Reform Ideological Not specifically related to AT&T. Generally supports elimination of government regulations.
AT&T Self The phone company. The people the organization speaks highly of in the op-ed.
B-Tech Supplier AT&T Supplier – AT&T's logo is right on their front page.
Berry Test Sets Supplier AT&T Supplier – Ironically provides premier test equipment for that "obsolete network" that they're trying to get rid of. Their techs carry this tool a lot.
Communications Technology Solutions / CBM of America Supplier AT&T Vendor
Ciena Supplier AT&T Vendor
Condux Supplier AT&T Vendor
CompTIA Indeterminate Not specifically related to AT&T, but AT&T is a large sponsor of theirs.
Connected Nation  AT&T related AstroTurf group Astroturf group heavily funded by AT&T. Even performs research for AT&T.
Corning Supplier Major AT&T Supplier of Fiber Optic Cable
United States Cattleman's Association Indeterminate, likely donor The site doesn't mention sponsors at all, but the cattlemen's association goes out of its way to file FCC comments all the time in support of various AT&T initiatives.
FiberControl Indeterminate Probably an AT&T supplier. Very niche equipment supplier.
GoFoton Supplier CTO worked at AT&T for 30 years, likely an AT&T supplier as well.
National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry Indeterminate, likely donor Outspoken advocate of AT&T's policies. Major donors not mentioned on their homepage.
American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance Indeterminate, likely a front group AHGA and AHF Privacy Policy- AHGA and AHF will not disclose any information whatsoever about their members,
customers, or supporters to any other parties under any circumstances. – Advocate of AT&T policies in the past.
Hispanic Telecommunications and Technology Partnership Indeterminate, likely a front group Promotes many AT&T initiatives, ties to the NTCA and USTA. All positions seem to be related to AT&T initiatives.
Hispanic Leadership Fund Indeterminate, likely ideological Unknown, no public webpage, no known policy statements.
Independent Technologies Inc Supplier Supplier, ironically, of equipment for AT&T's "Obsolete" POTS/TDM network.
Independent Women's Forum Donor/Ideological AT&T is a donor to the IWF.  Generally supports elimination of government regulations.
Japanese American Citizens League Donor "Website made possible by the generous sponsorship of AT&T" (search in page for that string)
LCLAA Trade Union Trade Union group (Trade unions that deal with AT&T tend to support AT&T policy in exchange for promises to include their laborers in new initiatives)
AT&T is part of their "Corporate Alliance"
Intertribal Agriculture Council  Likely Donor Recently, the Intertribal Agricultural Council has been involved in many non-agricultural things, such as the AT&T and T-Mobile merger, and the Sirius XM merger. Why? Who knows.
MetroTel Corp  Supplier AT&T Supplier
Minerva Networks Potential Supplier Minerva sells IPTV middleware that controls IPTV set top boxes. AT&T uses Microsoft MediaRoom, but given that Microsoft has no interest in continuing that line, I suspect AT&T is working with Minerva at this point to replace MediaRoom.
National Assocation for Female Executives  Likely Donor Both NAFE and AT&T pat each other on the back a lot.
National Association of Neighborhoods  Likely Donor NAH has spoken heavily in favor of previous AT&T initiatives.
National Coalition on Black Civic Participation AT&T and CWA staff on board of directors
National Health IT Collaborative for the underserved Likely Donor They do not appear to have made any public statements in favor of AT&T initiatives, and appear to be otherwise legitimate.
National Black Chamber of Commerce Donor The AT&T Foundation has donated thousands to this group, if not more.
National Puerto Rico Coalition Donor AT&T is a primary sponsor.
National Spinal Cord Injury Association Likely Donor They do not appear to have made any public statements in favor of AT&T initiatives, and appear to be otherwise legitimate.
OASIS Institute Donor AT&T donated half a million dollars to this group.
National Utility Contractors Association Supplier Consortium of AT&T suppliers
Prysmian Cables and System Supplier Manufacturer of fiber optic cable
Small Business Entrepreneurship Council Ideological Possibly supported by AT&T, definitely ideologically opposed to government regulation.
Suimitomo Lightwave Supplier Fiber optic manufacturer
Sheyenne Dakota, Inc Likely Supplier They manufacturer wiring harnesses.
SeniorNet Donor AT&T and Verizon are sponsors.
SNC Manufacturing Supplier AT&T supplier of high voltage isolation equipment
Suttle Supplier Supplier of various telecommunications cabling and connectors. (Many punchdown blocks are made by Suttle)
Telesync Supplier Ironically, most of their products are for those old, evil POTS services they're trying to get rid of.
TechAmerica Consortium AT&T is a member
USIIA Consortium AT&T is involved with this group. Verizon has an employee on the board of directors. They have a history of speaking in favor of all AT&T initiatives, all the way back to the bell south merger.
Women Impacting Public Policy AT&T employees part of advisory board / Ideological Corporate Advisory Board has AT&T (and Comcast, who does not oppose these laws) members. Several.  Generally supports elimination of government regulations.
Asian Women in Business  Donor AT&T heavily sponsored this group

Now, to be clear, I don't think that taking a single dollar of AT&T's money taints you. But when you're part of a public policy group that is unrelated to your mission (What does this have to do with Indian agriculture, or cattlemen?), and you take money from AT&T, your opinion may be not as independent as you make it sound.

The thing with nonprofits is, they don't have an inherent means of self support. They rely on donors. If you get a big donor that seems awesome at first, it opens a lot of doors for you. When they ask for your support, and it doesn't seem completely unreasonable (just sign your name to this, it's going to pass anyway and we could really use your help, as we've helped you in the past) – few organizations can afford to say no, especially if it doesn't harm their constituency directly or go against their stated goals. It puts them in the unenviable position of either giving a large donor a hand over something inconsequential to their members/beneficiaries/whatever, or taking an unnecessary stand to say "This is tangential to our mission" and risk a pay cut.

"Socialized Medicine" – Better red than dead.

So I watched Sicko (I don't usually acquire movies without paying for them but I plan on getting it on DVD. It comes out the day I close on my house so there's absolutely NO WAY I will end up seeing it in theaters because I'll be busy moving and my money will be focused elsewhere too)

It just sorta angered me. It's stunning that all these other nations are doing better than us in universal health care. It's infuriating. I've heard plenty of right wing nonsense where they talk about how bad they have it in other countries. Well, guess what, in other countries if you *need* private doctors, you can pay for them. If you can't pay, or don't mind getting the same treatment as everyone else, go to the normal doctors. Anything is better than this shithole where becky gets diagnosed with diabetes shortly after she gets on my insurance, and now they're starting to try to catch her in a preexisting condition clause. And where we get all sorts of bills from all sorts of companies, and I never know what I'm supposed to pay, and by when. Half of it shows up as "past due" the minute I get it, because the procedure was 2 months ago and insurance just paid out, etc. It's all bullshit and what we have isn't working.

And so of course, after watching that, I ended up going to the hospital for some long overdue x-rays on my foot. It's not broken, just sprained. I may have to see a podiatrist. But it's not broken. Yay! I'm sure I'm gonna get a $500 bill because an ER doctors assistant told me to take over the counter painkillers and rest my feet as much as I can, and if it doesn't go away, see another doctor. Fucking broken.

Also, for those who haven't seen it (NSFW, if your work is cranky about videos depicting drug use and guitar playing involving puppets) Kermit does a cover of "hurt".

We close on the house June 29 in the morning.

Myths, Lies and Straight Talk
A List of 10 Media-Fed Myths


Dec. 30, 2005 — Can going out in the cold give you a cold? Are we losing our national forests? Can money buy happiness? You may be among the many who would answer yes to these questions. You'd be wrong. There are a lot of popularly held beliefs out there that simply aren't true. Yet the media tend to report on many of them as though they were hard facts.


Awesome story. I can't remember where I got the link.

ATLANTA (AP) The Federal Trade Commission fines ChoicePoint Inc. $10 million related
to a major data breach at the company's massive database of consumer information.

WASHINGTON (AP) President Bush has defended his program of warrantless surveillance,
saying "there's no doubt in my mind it is legal."

FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) President Bush visits National Security Agency and makes new
defense of administration's warrantless wiretap program.

STRASBOURG, France (AP) Swiss senator investigating alleged CIA secret prisons in
Europe says evidence points to a system of outsourcing of torture.

Good thing we're the shining beacon of privacy, individual freedom, and civil liberties here in the US, right?

Do you know what your sin is, Doctor? It's pride.

Gonzales said that Congress was aware of the program's scope and that it had been approved "under the authorization to use military force" against terrorism.

His remarks echoed the comments of President Bush, who said Monday that he had briefed key members of Congress on the program.
— http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/01/24/nsa.strategy/index.html

Key members of parliament have personally observed this subject. I was told that
the Alliance's support for the project was unanimous.
— http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/s/serenity-script-transcript-joss-whedon.html

Dick Cheney on Iraq, 1991

Blatantly plagarized from j03

Friend of mine brought this up on his journal… I hadn't seen it before.

Dick Cheney knows this, and has known it since 1991, when he said, and I quote: "I think that the proposition of going to Baghdad is also fallacious. I think if we were going to remove Saddam Hussein we would have had to go all the way to Baghdad, we would have to commit a lot of force because I do not believe he would wait in the Presidential Palace for us to arrive. I think we'd have had to hunt him down. And once we'd done that and we'd gotten rid of Saddam Hussein and his government, then we'd have had to put another government in its place.

"What kind of government? Should it be a Sunni government or Shi'i government or a Kurdish government or Ba'athist regime? Or maybe we want to bring in some of the Islamic fundamentalists? How long would we have had to stay in Baghdad to keep that government in place? What would happen to the government once U.S. forces withdrew? How many casualties should the United States accept in that effort to try to create clarity and stability in a situation that is inherently unstable?

"I think it is vitally important for a President to know when to use military force. I think it is also very important for him to know when not to commit U.S. military force. And it's my view that the President got it right both times, that it would have been a mistake for us to get bogged down in the quagmire inside Iraq."

Dick Cheney's own words.

the source:

From today's installment of "No TLA Left Behind"

The only remaining obstacle in putting the torture ban into law is the White House. The Vice President has already threatened an administration veto on the torture ban unless the CIA receives an exemption. This is unacceptable. We need to act now and show the White House that torture is not an American value and should never be the policy of the United States.

Message-Id: <LYRIS-33556665-88386-2005.11.16-18.08.13–paul#timmins.net@lists.democracyforamerica.com>
Democracy for America email, no linkable website for content

VICE PRESIDENT Cheney is aggressively pursuing an initiative that may be unprecedented for an elected official of the executive branch: He is proposing that Congress legally authorize human rights abuses by Americans. "Cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment of prisoners is banned by an international treaty negotiated by the Reagan administration and ratified by the United States. The State Department annually issues a report criticizing other governments for violating it. Now Mr. Cheney is asking Congress to approve legal language that would allow the CIA to commit such abuses against foreign prisoners it is holding abroad. In other words, this vice president has become an open advocate of torture.


WASHINGTON – Vice President
Dick Cheney made an unusual personal appeal to Republican senators this week to allow
CIA exemptions to a proposed ban on the torture of terror suspects in U.S. custody, according to participants in a closed-door session.


Now, I've been told that it doesn't matter if we make it illegal here, the CIA will do whatever it wants anyway. Apparently, it matters a lot to Dick Cheney. If so, it means that it must have some actual level of pull. I don't even begin to pretend it will stop torture entirely, but when you turn on the lights, the roaches scatter. Some of them find hiding places, but you can kill a few of them, and it calls attention to the roach problem, rather than letting it take over and multiply and pretend it doesn't exist.

I'll leave you with a quote from a person I'm beginning to respect more and more with each coming day.

I want to emphasize to some of my friends who say that we should do anything that is necessary to extract intelligence, No. 1, torture doesn't work; No. 2, if extraneous or extraordinary actions have to be taken–and there may be cases, and we will get into this in the next amendment, where someone has information that it is believed poses an immediate threat to the United States–then I would suppose that it would be entirely appropriate, under law, that the President of the United States could make that judgment and take whatever actions are necessary. In the meantime, the Army Field Manual authorizes interrogation techniques that are proven effective in extracting lifesaving information from the most hardened prisoners. It also recognizes that torture and cruel treatment are ineffective methods because they induce prisoners to say what their interrogators want to hear, even if it is not true.

It is consistent with our laws and, most importantly, our values. Our values are different from those of our enemies. When colleagues or others may come on this floor and say: Well, they do it, others do it, al-Qaida does it, other nations in the world do it, what differentiates us, the United States of America, from other countries is the fact that we do not. We do not abuse human rights. We do not do it. I would argue the pictures, terrible pictures from Abu Ghraib, harmed us–not only in the Arab world, which is an area of great concern but it also harmed us dramatically amongst friendly nations, the Europeans, many of our allies.

-Sen. McCain, July 25, 2005