While the legislation has the usual misleading
name and acronym (COPE), and was the subject of a full hearing
of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet
on March 30, 2006, it has yet to be assigned a bill number.
As BC went to print, it is still known as “HR___”.
A House Staffer at another Illinois representative’s office
informs us that since the legislation has not been assigned
a number, it will “inhibit citizens from calling and emailing
their Representatives and expressing opposition to the legislation.”
Rep. Rush is of the opinion that his constituency
doesn’t need a “build-out” provision for Internet usage, but
instead needs lower prices for cable service. He claims the
bill will create national video franchises and spur competition
to cable from telcos and others.
We have heard it all before. In reality, every
industry-backed bill has done the exact opposite, leading
to further consolidation. The lack of a “build-out” provision
in the bill means that ethnic communities and their residents
will wind up with less access to cable and broadband. Currently,
many cities and towns require that most or all neighborhoods
be served by telecom companies. Under Bobby Rush’s bill, this
will no longer be the case.
In effect, the legislation facilitates “redlining”
of cable and Internet services to Black, Latino and poor areas.
Think of it as living in certain neighborhoods where the car
insurance rates will result in residents paying more or less
for insurance premiums based on their addresses. Usually, such
industry “redlining” practices are against the law, however,
under the COPE act such practices would be legal.
Jeanine Kenney, of the Consumers
Union, argued during hearings on the bill that, “the fees
charged to content and service providers will inevitably be
passed onto consumers who have already paid for high-speed (Internet)
access.” Paul Misner of Amazon.com testified
that consumers face “…at best, an oligopoly, and for the vast
majority of Americans, a duopoly of the local phone and cable
companies” which would leave consumers with “fewer services,
higher prices, or both.” All who testified against this bill
emphasized the measure’s use of language such as “network neutrality”
while the bill would actually not offer such neutrality, and
would most likely leave consumers at the mercy of the cable
and Internet providers.
We at CBC Monitor were puzzled as to what would
compel Rep. Rush to even consider supporting such egregious
legislation, let alone be pawned as a Democratic co-sponsor
of this bill. Now we know why.
Rep. Harold Ford never ceases to surprise us,
with his seemingly infinite capacity to betray the interests
of his Black Memphis constituents.
The U. S. Senator-wannabe voted in favor of the
Immigration Bill that criminalizes illegal immigrants without
giving them an opportunity to become legal – the only
member of the CBC to do so. We have already seen how seriously
immigrants are taking this attempt to legalize bigotry and discrimination,
sponsored by the equally odious Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO). Latino
communities nationwide took a page from African-Americans’ own
history book and got in the streets, organizing protests and
urging their Representatives not to support this legislation.
the gentleman from Tennessee agrees with his racist brethren
in the Congress that the immigrants need to be criminalized.
In his arrogance, Ford doesn’t expect to get called on his vote
by his constituents. He doesn’t believe that, if racist elements
are successful in criminalizing 11 million Latino immigrants,
or worse, deport them, the next group on the list may be African-Americans.
It is almost the law of nature: if you succeed in discriminating
against one group of people because of ethnicity, those in charge
of doing the discriminating will not be content to stop at one
ethnic group – all must be eliminated. So why doesn’t Ford
grasp that concept? What does he hope to gain from doing his
act on the Hill in voting for the Immigration bill?
Unfortunately, we know all too well of Harold
Ford’s tendency to vote in an ever-rightward trajectory. He
seems capable of anything, even slinging his own
grandmother under the racial bus by claiming she was a Caucasian
who, we are expected to believe, willingly chose to abandon
white privilege and endure bigotry and Jim Crow segregation
by passing for Negro. Somehow, Ford believes the fantastic fairy
tale will curry favor with White voters throughout Tennessee.
Ford reveals himself as an amoral human being – and among the
most execrable members of the United States House of Representatives.
However, the case of Rep. Bobby Rush, the former
Black Panther and current minister, is more troubling. We at
CBC Monitor are deeply saddened at his alliance with Big Telecom.
It seems the CBC may have lost a progressive, and gained another
(As BC went to print, we learned that two Blacks
on Rep. Rush's committee joined two other Democrats in voting
for the GOP/teleco industry's bill. The CBC members are Edolphus
Towns (NY) and Albert Wynn (MD). The bill now goes to the full
House. - The Editors.)
Leutisha Stills can be reached at [email protected].
The CBC Monitor's website is cbcmonitor.voxunion.com.