Opening up cell phones to robocalls? Just one "benefit" of the Right's relentless crusade to make America the Land of Morons
"I completely understand the concerns that people have expressed about the bill and the good thing about our system is that there is always opportunity for improvement. In fact, because this debate has begun, discussions are now taking place on the best way to strengthen the rules to address consumer privacy expectations with their mobile phones. . . ."
-- from a statement by Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY), the
only Dem co-sponsor of a bill to legalize cell-phone robocalls
only Dem co-sponsor of a bill to legalize cell-phone robocalls
What else do we learn in this "extremely defensive statement" (as Daily Kos's Chris Bowers describes it, in a mailing we'll come back to) from Congressman Towns, the only Democratic co-sponsor of a bill that would deep-six the 20-year-old ban on robocalls to cell phones? Well, we learn that, as the congressman says he learned from the recent hearings, "this 20-year old law prevents consumers from getting useful information about their accounts using technology that did not exist when the law was originally passed," and also apparently somehow prevents FedEx and UPS from "using modern technology to deliver your holiday gifts on time." (I think these are two separate things. The congressman is pretty vague about them.) And, oh yes, this nasty old law "limits notifications about threats such as fraud alerts, data breaches, and product recalls."
Ah, so that's why those patriotic and public-spirited business interests are pushing so hard to disappear the law that bans sending recorded-message calls to cell phones without the user's prior approval of such messaging. It's so we can get our holiday gifts on time, and learn about data breaches and product recalls!
WELCOME TO THE AMERICA OF THE KOCH BROS.
AND THE OTHER MEGACORPORATE ELITES
The other day, while discussing the Right's methodical cultivation of a "bedimmed and whipped-up base" that in the new presidential campaign cycle "will only accept a cynically flagrant liar or a clueless cluck," I suggested that "we might want to ponder who thought this would be a shrewd strategy and why" and added that "I have my own thoughts." I didn't mean to be oblique or suggest some deep, dark mystery. I just didn't feel like getting into it then.
But all I had in mind was stuff like this "Send in the robocallers" initiative. Here's what Chris Bowers has to say in an e-mailing that most DWT readers probably got:
Republicans are pushing new legislation that would end the 20-year ban on telemarketers calling cell phones. This would be an extremely annoying invasion of privacy. It would also be another congressional giveaway to big corporations, since robocalls from telemarketers would count against your monthly minutes.
We have to stop this. Join with CREDO Action and Daily Kos to tell Congress not to allow telemarketers to call your cell phone.
The public outcry against this bill is already making a difference. The lone Democratic co-sponsor, Representative Ed Towns of New York, released an extremely defensive statement after constituents gave him an earful about the bill at a recent town hall.
If no Democrats support this bill, then it will be defeated. The surest path to making that happen is for people to keep giving Congress an earful. Please sign the petition telling Congress not to allow telemarketers to call your cell phone.
Campaign Director, Daily Kos
OH NO, CELL-PHONE USERS CAN'T GET THEIR HOLIDAY GIFTS!
HERE'S ED TOWNS'S "EXTREMELY DEFENSIVE STATEMENT"
Yeah, I thought you'd enjoy this, 'cause it's pretty darned entertaining. I know some of you were probably thinking the only imaginable reason why Congressman Towns has signed onto this right-wing thug initiative is that he's on the take or something. No, not at all!
It is undeniable that the telecommunications landscape has changed dramatically in the last twenty years. A large percentage of households have eliminated their landlines and many people rely almost exclusively on cell phones as their only means of contact. The rules and laws governing how businesses and consumers interact have not kept up with these developments. To put it in context, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act was passed some two years before the first text messaging was ever sent.
We on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce have been engaging in debates about privacy and the responsible use of technology for as long as I can remember. When Congressman Terry approached me to ask if I would join him in opening up this discussion on whether the TCPA needs to be updated to take into account new consumer attitudes and their need for timely information about their accounts, I thought this was as an appropriate time as ever.
I completely understand the concerns that people have expressed about the bill and the good thing about our system is that there is always opportunity for improvement. In fact, because this debate has begun, discussions are now taking place on the best way to strengthen the rules to address consumer privacy expectations with their mobile phones. I fully support these efforts and will fight to see that included in any final product. The intent of the bill is to maintain bans on telemarketing and to retain the popular “Do-Not-Call” regulations. I am pleased that we had a hearing to get all the input we can from the stakeholders in this debate. During the hearing, I thought it was especially interesting to hear how this 20-year old law prevents consumers from getting useful information about their accounts using technology that did not exist when the law was originally passed. Do we really want to stop FedEx or UPS using modern technology to deliver your holiday gifts on time? Of course not, but that is what we heard at the hearing is one consequence of this 20-year old law. Other consequences we heard were about how the law limits notifications about threats such as fraud alerts, data breaches, and product recalls.
Now I and my colleagues on the committee can work to come to agreement on the best way to allow consumers to control how they receive these informational communications and to decide the best way to regulate, prevent, and punish any abuse. We will continue to gather input from constituents and groups interested in striking the right balance. I believe we can find that balance and I am glad our Committee is engaging in this debate.
Ha-ha-ha, Congressman! Oh wait, you're serious? Oops, sorry!
THE POINT IS THAT UNDER COVER OF YELLING
AND WAILING ABOUT IDEOLOGICAL IMBECILITIES . . .
. . . the economic elites are slipping and slamming through the remainder of their wish list, including stuff they thought was beyond their wildest imaginings. In fact, we've already reached the point where the only limitations on the elites' lust for power and money are the limitations on their own imaginings.
The insatiable predators of the Corporate Right can continue and accelerate their rampaging drive of the last several decades to remake the culture of the country to their liking, which is to say to remove as much as possible of the network of limitations on their behavior, painstakingly put in place to provide us with some protection against the insatiable greed of which humans are capable, and thereby not just sanction but make to appear "normal" and even "beneficial" their encroachments across the board of American life.
It's ironic -- or maybe not ironic, but just what the campaign called for -- that the Right has mobilized around a delusional last stand to protect its "freedoms," when what it's been bred to do is abandon the meaningful freedoms to elites who stand to clean up on them. Welcome to the Koch Bros.' and Gov. Scott Walker's (and all those other fire-breathing far-right-wing governors') America.
Hey, aren't you going to answer your cell phone? Could be important product-recall information. Luckily, you can listen to the message at your convenience. The important thing is, you're paying for the call regardless!
THE CAMPAIGN TO PUT US ALL AT THE MERCY
OF THE CORPORATE ELITES HAS COUNTLESS TENTACLES
And they're in place nationwide at all levels of government. See, for example, Howie's 2pm PT post (see below) on the Republican smear campaign trained on Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren and the coincidentally successful GOP filibuster that nullified the Senate's 53-45 vote to confirm Richard Cordray to head the Warren-conceived Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Sure, as Howie noted, the anti-Warren smears aren't just monumentally dishonest, they're imbecilic on their face, but haven't Karl Rove and his kind (and of course their Big Money bankrollers) gone to untold trouble and expense to create a playing field of imbeciles? And sure, the Republican opposition to the Cordray nomination is all lies, but if that's what it takes to enable them to step up the pressure to strip away consumer protection, well, what's a few hundred, or a few thousand, more lies to people who have already solemnly sworn never to speak the truth in public, so help them God?
By the way, I might note that of the two "old friends," Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Jeff Merkley, Howie called on in his post as standing up to the marauding elites, one isn't going to be on the premises come the 113th Congress.
UPDATE: Looking For A Villain? Try Fred Upton (R-MI)
Upton is the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and he's the power behind HR 3035, the Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011. Upton has opposed every consumer protection bill that has come along and the collection agencies and other disreputable characters behind this one know Upton is their man. The corporations Upton is working with the push this bill forward include American Bankers Association, ACA International, Air Transport Association, Consumer Bankers Association, Coalition of Higher Education Assistance Organizations, Edison Electric Institute, Education Finance Council, Financial Services Roundtable, Housing Policy Council, Mortgage Bankers Association, National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), National Council of Higher Education Loan Program, Student Loan Servicing Alliance, Student Loan Servicing Alliance Private Loan Committee, The Clearing House, and, of course, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In case you are interested in sending Upton a message you don't approve of this law, you can contribute to the progressive Democrat running against him in his Michigan district, John Waltz. And you can do that right here on the main Blue America page. Waltz vehemently opposes this invasion of privacy.