A promise made to be broken: Congress' latest plan for Net neutrality

Part-time thespian, full-time legislator Sen. Patrick Leahy petitions Comcast to respect Net neutrality. That'll teach 'em!

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Good news: We no longer need to worry; the neutrality of the Internet is safe, now and forever. Politicians finally listened to me and are taking serious, meaningful steps to fight the digital robber barons who threaten to devour our cyber freedom quicker than Eric Schmidt can down a plate of barbequed puppies.

The shining knight to whom I refer is Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). This brave soul recently sent an open and strongly worded letter to Comcast asking the company to swear and cross its little black heart that it won’t implement a fast-lane Internet policy for additional revenue, like Verizon … or AT&T … or any of its other competitors.

This’ll definitely work. If there's one group of people who truly understands personal honor and keeping their promises, it’s politicians. Leahy is exactly the kind of keen, technically astute mind we need spearheading the crusade for a nonpartisan InterWeb. He’s not only a great politico who looks like a deathbed version of Steve Ballmer -- he’s also qualified in many other ways.

For example, he acted in not one, but two "Batman" movies and one "Batman" TV series. That’s solid -- we know no one is a stronger proponent of keeping billion-dollar corporations in line than Bruce Wayne. Leahy also made another movie called "My Wife is a Vampire," which, judging by his complexion, is an autobiographical documentary.

Comcast says it’s carefully “reviewing” Leahy’s letter. If I were Brian Roberts, I’d review it, too, while sitting on the proverbial throne and preparing for the inevitable flush.

Petitions and pinky swears

Do you really believe that Comcast would remotely consider a proposal that essentially asks it to pinky swear not to bathe in a giant Jacuzzi of money even if its competitors get away with the same strategy? You must also take at face value the NSA's claim that it recently cleared certain Samsung mobile devices as “safe” for use by government employees. If I’m a government employee who wants to keep my data protected, I’m now using anything but Samsung. Likewise, if I’m a Comcast Internet customer, I’m putting aside extra money today to pay the unavoidable price hike in my streaming content subscriptions tomorrow.

Supposedly, this matter is borne out of Leahy’s “grave concerns” regarding Comcast’s proposed $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable; the diabolical combination could give Comcast a near-monopoly on Internet and TV (and, by extension, content) in certain regions of the country. But instead of going to the trouble of passing tangible legislation that blocks such unholy unions now and in the future, Leahy figures he’ll streamline the process by making them promise. “Remember now, boys – crossed fingers don’t count!” Gavel bang. “Time for lunch!” End scene.

Smoke and mirrors

How about actual work, Pat? I know Comcast has been throwing buckets of bullion into any campaign coffers it finds open. Perhaps Leahy’s isn't one of them, but even if he didn’t get any contributions from Satan’s Internet provider -- in fact, especially if he didn’t get any contributions from them -- this is a lame and lazy ploy to get his name in the papers a few weeks before election time without doing or committing to any substantive action.

Leahy gets to say he took concrete action, even if it required only 45 minutes of creative dictation from his bathtub. Comcast will either ignore it for the pointless sham it is or send a reply that sounds positive but technically makes no promises.

Either way, Leahy can act like the heroic digital David he wants to be, and when Goliath Comcast inevitably gorges itself on this new cash feast made possible by the narrowest of loopholes, he can say, “Those lying bastards! Well, I tried.” Then he can go back to cruising for wealthy anonymous donors on Pennsylvania Ave in the Batmobile Chris Nolan sold him to cover his dog fighting debts.

It’s not only a sad example of the lack of effort our officials are willing to put into pretty much anything that doesn’t involve overseas junkets and naive interns -- it’s also an infuriating indication of how dumb and gullible they think we are. But breathe easy, folks. I’m going to snarf my afternoon scotch now, then write a letter to Senator Leahy and tell the wrinkled bugger never to do anything like this again. That’ll work.

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