Lame-duck Congresses refer to those sessions that follow a November election through the winter holidays. Some number of Congress people have just lost their seats, but the newly elected replacements do not get to move in until they are sworn in in January. Thus the ‘duck’ is too ‘lame’ to fly, though it is alive and could continue to do whatever ducks do. In the case of Congress, the group in the minority (especially if it is going to be the majority in January) tends to want to stall any activities its members are unhappy with. The majority, on the other hand (especially if they are about to become the minority) try to cram through as many things as they might get away with. Even when the roles are reversed, somebody gripes that the lame-duck session should not tackle serious concerns until the newly elected representatives are situated – newly elected because they represent the will of the people. Unless you are a Republican or you do not see the irony of the slogan “Ignorance is Strength.”
This year’s lame-duck Congress, one that holds Democratic majorities in both houses until the newbies show up in January, has been surprisingly productive, according to Chris Good of TheAtlantic.com – and despite the general gnashing of teeth in the media. You might not agree with passage, or blockage, up-and-down the list, but the list does belie the notion that a lame-duck representative should lie low, run out the clock, and enjoy a three-week Christmas holiday while the rest of us work in the hopes we can keep our health insurance.
One thing not on that is, though, is the discussion of Net Neutrality – the notion that content on internet and wireless networks should travel from the producers equally to all on those networks. Media corporations mostly want to create a multi-tiered network in which content producers can pay more to have their content shoved to the fast lane, while less powerful producers get downgraded to the slow lanes.
The FCC is holding its final hearings on the issue Monday and today, and ‘SaveTheInternet.com‘ is live. Timothy Carr of FreePress (who established SaveTheInternet.com about this issue) is not optimistic:
According to all reports, the rule, which will be voted on during tomorrow’s FCC meeting, falls drastically short of earlier pledges by President Obama and the FCC Chairman to protect the free and open Internet.
The rule is so riddled with loopholes that it’s become clear that this FCC chairman crafted it with the sole purpose of winning the endorsement of AT&T and cable lobbyists, and not defending the interests of the tens of millions of Internet users.
Though not finalized (as of posting), Congressman Franken’s efforts to keep neutrality – “The First-Amendment Issue Of Our Time” – seem to be slipping, though the vague blog-poll at The Washington Post shows overwhelming support to keep the net neutral.
But really. Why should‘s voice be heard? ComCast hired over 100 ex-government employees to lobby for their merger with NBC to ensure control over content production and distribution (What ‘conservatives’ might call an oligarchic market if they still studied economics). ComCast also ‘donated’ to 385 Congresspeople – three-fourths of the Legislative Branch of the Federal Government. How much did you give to each Congressperson? How many people did you hire to make your case? Oh, yea. You’re just a citizen.
As for Lame Ducks rising up to fly far, few can beat the 1998 Congress, who pressed ahead to impeach President Bill Clinton on 11 December. Five weeks earlier, the Republicans had lost many seats in both houses, though they would retain slim majorities come next January – but not enough to ensure motion on impeachment.