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A Most Useful Emergency
The Internet is About to get Nationalized
On Wednesday, November 15, the US government will vote whether to give the White House full control of the internet. Think “Twitter Files,” only worse, and with no need to hide and do it in the shadows. It’s Monday morning and you’re back at work. Please do what you actually want to do — procrastinate a bit. Read this short post from my friend Dan (who agreed to write this for my Substack, knowing much more about these things than I do) and then contact your senators and representatives at the provided links. Do it now, today. This is an emergency, people. —Holly
War drums are beating.
War is coming.
Whether the United States publicly puts boots-on-the-ground in Ukraine or Russia or Gaza or Israel doesn’t diminish the opportunity that the chaos in Ukraine and Israel offers to the political class.
In every single war in US history from the War of 1812 to the War on Terror, the “emergency” that the war presents has served as an excuse for the removal of civil liberties, the tightening of government control, and especially the expansion of executive power—and some these, in each case, have always survived the emergency.
Some of us still remember a different kind of air-travel world than those of you under 35. In that world, families could greet returning parents at the gate, or accompany them out onto the tarmac to wish them goodbye. To go through airport security you didn’t need to subject yourself to nude photos, have your genitals and other erogenous zones groped by moles...umm...enthusiastic public servants, or watch the same thing happening to children and the elderly. Instead, you only had to walk through a metal detector and subject your luggage to an x-ray. You could even take drinks into the gate area, so you didn’t have to pay the extortionate vendor prices if you came prepared.
Even in this strange world, which to us today looks like a libertarian heaven, the security measures were invasive and ineffective enough that Americans such as George Carlin saw fit to point out, at length, how useless and intrusive it was.
Airport security is a kind of message-violence: the powers-that-be are reminding you that they can fuck with you whenever they want; that you are not safe from them and never will be. The new security measures instituted in 2002 wouldn’t have prevented the attacks of September 11, 2001. We know this partly because TSA internal audits repeatedly revealed the uselessness of the agency up until the mid 2010s, and because there have been a dozen-or-so publicized attacks since the new security measures all came down (each one resulting in its own ridiculous new rule).
Never Waste a Good Emergency
On September 11, 2001 men with boxcutters hijacked four airliners and, in three cases, flew them into buildings. They were able to do this because that same government that fondles and strip-searches your four-year-old at the security station had trained everyone (airline crews and passengers alike) not to resist hijackers, and then had quietly stopped sending armed Air Marshals onto flights in sufficient numbers.
Now we have a couple new and exciting wars, so we, of course, have new and exciting power grabs. This time, you see, the Internet is the problem. It lets people who aren’t the US Government spread propaganda and misinformation, and it lets citizens question the official narrative with force and efficacy. It lets people make a living while opposing the government (either from that, or otherwise), and by God, they’re not going to take it anymore. The FCC Chariman has sounded the alarm:
The White House (through the administrative apparatus) wants complete, unaccountable control of the Internet. Full text in PDF form here.
If you can think of any President in your lifetime whom you would not want to entrust with dictatorial powers over anything that crosses the internet wires (entertainment, political commentary, art, financial transactions, software updates for your refrigerator and phone, mapping software for your car, etc.), you must comment AND contact your Senators and Representative soon, because, if this passes, it will allow this President and all future Presidents to obtain exactly that power.
Why should you call your legislators when this is an administrative vote? Because they have behind-the-scenes power to apply pressure, and because, in extremis, these are the people who can claw back that power. The sooner it’s on their radar, the better.
You can contact your Senator here and your Representative here. I strongly suggest a phone call if you can possibly do it, as they tend to weigh those much more heavily. Email is second best. Make sure you include your address so they know you are a legitimate constituent and not part of a bot or other campaign.
The vote is on November 15, 2023. That’s Wednesday. Today is Monday.
Public comment has worked to stop regulations in recent years. I hope to hell it works now. The FCC’s guide to registering your objections here.
Ongoing coverage of this matter is available at the Washington Examiner, here.
J. Daniel Sawyer is a prolific writer, producer, and podcaster with over fifty published works including science fiction and fantasy novels, mysteries (as J.D. Sawyer), and several educational and how-to books (as Dan Sawyer). He currently hosts The Every Day Novelist podcast, blogs on geopolitics and history at Unfolding the World, and maintains his own sordid corner of the internet at Literary Abominations. His most recent publication, The Secrets of the Heinlein Juvenile, explores the history of Young Adult fiction and its relationship to the mythic traditions of the West. You can find his entire catalog here, and all his podcasts here.
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