Holiday Party: Ogling the Oligarchs

Eyeballing the FCC boss gives one observer a look at the new owners of the Internet

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They were aiming for the door of the Janus conference room, but didn't have a chance of getting there before Genachowski and the carriers slammed the door. They kept expecting people to move out of the way when it was obviously the polite thing to do, and getting skunked by East Coasters who don't like to be told what's right or moved out of a comfortable place just because it was the right thing to do.

Without ever meaning to, the crowd kept the tech dudes back.

On the other flank a hippie horde was charging, climbing over anyone in the way, righteously haranguing anyone who slowed them down and only stopping to stall off the munchies by eating the tiny snack plates of anyone they overran who had not polished off their bit of buffet.

Open-source, privacy protecting, tech-savvy anarchists. Even if they caught the fat-cat train, they didn't have a chance.

Good reasons are never enough of a defense against good money.

There was only one thing between Genachowski and what was obviously to be an ultraprivate conference with his very special friends from the carriers and telecom industries: civilians.

Accidentally standing in front of the conference room toward which Genachowski was plowing was a middle-aged couple wearing visitor badges and dress clothes that made them look like the kind who could afford to drive a Saab or Volvo, but not one built this decade but wouldn't consider driving anything flashier.

If they were Republicans they'd drive an SUV; if they were Democrats they'd drive a Prius. I couldn't tell from the way they dressed; it was too cold for Birkenstocks and too the dress code was too casual for a Brooks Brothers suit.

They could have been anyone, and probably were.

"Mr. Chairman," the woman of the couple said as the fat-cat power train bore down on them. "Do you have a second? I wanted to put in a word about the net neutrality ruling?"

"Sorry," Genachowski let his right arm hang, but raised one hand to expose the palm, fending off the couple without actually making the rejection obvious to anyone else. "I'm afraid I'm late for a.."

"Just a word, Mr. Chairman," the guy of the couple said. "It just seems this plan leaves out consumers that... "

"Thanks for looking out for the constituency," Genachowski said, blowing past them without an giving either an opportunity to shake hands. "We're here to protect ordinary Americans."

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