Tuesday, September 16, 2008

John McCain’s ‘Al Gore Moment’?

We all know how fervidly the republicans screamed in 1999 when Al Gore said (read: implied) he invented the internet (McCain himself made fun of Al Gore back then).… well, Sen. McCain’s done it this time, implying that he invented WiFi, the Cell Phone, and the Blackberry.

No lie.

Yesterday McCain told scienceblogs.com; “Under my guiding hand, Congress developed a wireless spectrum policy that spurred the rapid rise of mobile phones and Wi-Fi technology that enables Americans to surf the web while sitting at a coffee shop, airport lounge, or public park.”

Uh-huh…

Consider these examples of McCain’s ‘guiding hand’ from Daily Kos’ Devilstower, the emphasis’ are my own;

With the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Senate passed the first major revision to telecommunications law in 62 years which provided the foundation for much of the cell phone and Internet regulation over the next decade. The bill passed 81-18 and was signed into law by President Clinton. McCain voted against the act.

In 2002, McCain authored the "Consumer Broadband Deregulation Act of 2002" which eliminated the requirement of the 1996 law that telecommunication companies provide access to competitors. It didn't pass.

In 2003, the Internet Tax Freedom Act was passed, putting in place a moratorium on taxes for activities on the Internet. The bill had 11 cosponsors – McCain wasn't one of them. He did vote for the bill, but since it passed 97-3, that's definitely "guiding" with a small 'g.' Granted, this wasn't directly a bill about wireless, but since McCain doesn't seem to have authored any law on wireless technology, I'm having to search for connections.

Of pending legislation, McCain is not a sponsor of the "Connect the Nation Act" – though Senator Obama is. McCain is not a sponsor of Senator Rockefeller's call for a universal next generation broadband by 2015 – though Senator Obama is. And of course, McCain isn't a sponsor of the "Internet Freedom Act" that would ensure net neutrality – though Senator Obama is. That last is no surprise. McCain has repeatedly opposed net neutrality, saying that companies have a right to restrict speed or even limit access to sites "when you control the pipe you should be able to get profit from your investment."

So, McCain's "guiding hand" seems to consist of opposing the legislation that laid the groundwork for the communications we have today, and authoring failed legislation designed to benefit big carriers. Of course, we should probably be glad that John McCain really didn't invent the cell phone or WiFi, otherwise we'd all be getting our wireless services from one monolithic company free to restrict our access to only the pages that pay for the privilege. And we'd all be using "Jitterbugs."

So his ‘guiding hand’ consisted of being one of 97 total votes for the Internet Tax Freedom Act that put a moratorium on taxes for activities on the Internet.

While we try and wrap our minds around how that constitutes helping to create WiFi, consider this from McCain’s top economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin. While holding his Blackberry up in the air, Holtz-Eakin said; “He did this. […] Telecommunications of the United States is a premier innovation in the past 15 years, comes right through the Commerce committee so you’re looking at the miracle John McCain helped create and that’s what he did.”

Wow! A United States Senator is responsible for helping to create a product born in Canada… created in Canada... and founded using Canadian technology… now that’s talent and we should ALL be grateful to Sen. McCain for not only lending his ‘guiding hand’ in helping to create WiFi, the Blackberry and cell phones… lest we all be using cell phones the size of a small dog.

It’s so hard to express sarcasm in the written form.

Former FCC chairman Reed Hundt sees McCain’s contribution to society differently, telling ThinkProgress; “John McCain is so out of touch with America his economics adviser says he deserves credit for creating the Canadian company that invented the Blackberry. Message to Republicans: it’s American entrepreneurship our President is supposed to encourage.”

So… McCain doesn’t know how to use technology…admittedly doesn’t like technology… has to have his wife use technology for him… but he’s now taking credit for a bit of technology that changed our lives forever.

Interesting isn’t it that when Gore said that about the internet, the traditional media went agog and crucified him mercilessly…

I’ll be waiting for that to happen to McCain.

1 comment:

California Handcart said...

Gore was referenced more than once on public media and did not choose to deny the credit. He rode it for where it was a benefit to him. He deserves some grief for his hesitance to DENY the claim, which he has not done. And where is he now? And what does he have to offer Apple?

McCain is no less culpable. Yet his maverick attitude gives him loose license to claim many bills he was active in opposing or supporting. He has many years to do that.

Now Obama, his vast experience ... in what? Yet he is sooo knowledgeable on camera.