Wednesday, August 31, 2011

DOJ Sues To Block AT&T/T-Mobile Merger

To be honest I am completely shocked by this considering all the pro-merger hype and the rubber stamp big business seems to be wielding these days, but the Department of Justice announced this morning that they would be suing to block the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile.
Right now, four nationwide providers account for more than 90 percent of the mobile wireless connections in America, and preserving competition among them is crucial. For instance, AT&T and T-Mobile currently compete head-to-head in 97 of the nation’s largest 100 cellular marketing areas. They also compete nationwide to attract business and government customers. Were the merger to proceed, there would only be three providers with 90 percent of the market, and competition among the remaining competitors on all dimensions—including price, quality, and innovation—would be diminished.

As can be seen in the Department’s complaint, AT&T felt competitive pressure from T-Mobile. One example cites an AT&T employee observing that “[T-Mobile] was first to have HSPA+ devices in their portfolio…we added them in reaction to potential loss of speed claims.”

So as you can see, a merged AT&T and T-Mobile would combine two of the four largest competitors in the marketplace, and would eliminate T-Mobile, an aggressive competitor, from the market.
As one would imagine given the seeming certainty that this was going to fly through the approval process, AT&T is livid.
We are surprised and disappointed by today’s action, particularly since we have met repeatedly with the Department of Justice and there was no indication from the DOJ that this action was being contemplated.

We plan to ask for an expedited hearing so the enormous benefits of this merger can be fully reviewed. The DOJ has the burden of proving alleged anti-competitive affects and we intend to vigorously contest this matter in court.

At the end of the day, we believe facts will guide any final decision... We remain confident that this merger is in the best interest of consumers and our country, and the facts will prevail in court.
Now barring a reversal by the DOJ, not only will Ma Bell not be allowed to swallow up a competitor, they will be on the hook to T-Mobile for $3 billion and all kinds of 3G roaming rights and US mobile customers will not lose one of a dwindling number of choices for cell service. So at least for now it seems that big business lost and customers won.

Can the Obama is anti-business meme be too far behind?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Disaster Aid The Next Political Hostage?

If comments from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor are to be believed, the Tea Bag wing of the Grand Old Party might be looking to tie any disaster aid requested in the wake of this week's earthquake and hurricane on the East Coast to spending cuts before getting House approval.
Cantor raised some eyebrows on Wednesday when, in the aftermath of the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that rattled the East Coast and originated in his district, he said Congress will help those hurt by the earthquake but will require finding offsets for any federal aid.

"When there's a disaster there's an appropriate federal role and we will find the monies," Cantor said during a news conference in Mineral, Va. "But we've had discussions about these things before and those monies will be offset with appropriate savings or cost-cutting elsewhere in order to meet the priority of the federal government's role in a situation like this."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pandering To The Tea Party Not Such A Good Idea Anymore

Some recent polling seems to show that the Tea Party has lost some of the luster it had during the last election cycle.
Polls show that disapproval of the Tea Party is climbing. In April 2010, a New York Times/CBS News survey found that 18 percent of Americans had an unfavorable opinion of it, 21 percent had a favorable opinion and 46 percent had not heard enough. Now, 14 months later, Tea Party supporters have slipped to 20 percent, while their opponents have more than doubled, to 40 percent.
Those numbers aren't pretty but if you really want to put their growing unpopularity into perspective, Tea Partiers (and by extension the Religious Right) are even less popular than us lowly Atheists!
Of course, politicians of all stripes are not faring well among the public these days. But in data we have recently collected, the Tea Party ranks lower than any of the 23 other groups we asked about — lower than both Republicans and Democrats. It is even less popular than much maligned groups like “atheists” and “Muslims.” Interestingly, one group that approaches it in unpopularity is the Christian Right.
I guess people have finally gotten tired of be called every word in the dictionary ending in "ist" every time they don't agree with the tea bagger's warped ideology.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Under President Bachmann Gas Will Be Under $2 A Gallon

Michele Bachmann promises that she has a plan that would somehow cut gas prices in half to under $2 a gallon gas if she becomes President. All we have to do is open up our domestic drilling and somehow make oil shale production profitable at $50 a barrel.

“The day that the president became president gasoline was $1.79 a gallon. Look at what it is today,” she said at an event in Greenville, S.C.. “Under President Bachmann, you will see gasoline come down below $2 a gallon again. That will happen.”
Who knew it would be so easy to tame the speculation and world oil markets?


Monday, August 15, 2011

Bachmann: Even Hypothetical Cuts Are Fake

During the Iowa GOP debate the other night the candidates were asked a hypothetical question on whether they would accept a debt reduction bill if it was setup so that it included a 10 to 1 cut to tax increase ratio. Everyone on the stage being the good tea bagging suckups that they are, raised their hands to say that they wouldn't

Yesterday during an interview with Fox's Chris Wallace, Michele Bachmann was asked to explain why she wouldn't agree to such a debit deal that would in theory be a big win for the GOP:
WALLACE: Let's go back to that moment in the debate, though, when you -- and I've got to say, all the other candidates on that stage said that you would walk away from a debt deal, here it is right here, $10 in real spending cuts, to $1 in revenue increases. 10-1. Even Reagan's top economic adviser, Marty Feldstein, said that is too hard-line, that that would be walking away from a huge conservative victory.

BACHMANN: Well, I think probably Reagan would be the best example, because Reagan was going to get $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases. It ended up being $3 in tax increases for every $1 in spending cuts. That's the way it works in D.C. The deal sounds so rosy in the very beginning, and usually the cuts are illusory, they are off into future years. And of course one Congress can't bind the next Congress, and a Congress lasts for two years. So we can't bind what future Congresses can do. We can beat our chests and be really proud and say, oh, we're going to cut trillions of dollars, but we can't guarantee what future Congresses will do. That's why no one would take that deal on the Fox stage of the debate, because we all know that they're fake cuts, essentially. They sound good. They're soundbites, but they are not real.
Yep, that's right, Bachmann said she wouldn't vote for a hypothetical debt deal that might take a few dollars from the rich in the form of higher taxes because the cuts would be fake, you know the hypothetical cuts that weren't even specified!

The Koch brothers have her trained well don't they?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ok Iowa, Very Funny. So Who Really Won?

Michele Bachmann (R-Mars) won Iowa's straw poll yesterday which if anything shows that Iwegians have a sense of humor (please Iowa tell me you were joking) and satirist Andy Borowitz reacts.
Calling the results of today’s Iowa straw poll “alarming,” Standard and Poor’s took the unprecedented action of downgrading Iowa’s IQ.

While the effects of such an extraordinary measure are hard to predict, experts say the IQ downgrade could result in Iowans having difficulty completing sentences or operating a television remote.

“This downgrade would be very upsetting to Republicans in Iowa,” said an S & P spokesman. “Fortunately, there’s no way they’ll understand it.”
And in other Iowa straw poll related news, some other Minnesotan called it quits after Iowans wondered who this guy was on their straw poll ballot.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

San Francisco's Transit Authority Goes The Way Of Egypt To Quell Protest

One of the ways governments in the Middle East have used to try to break up the protests has been put to use right here in the US. When San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) heard rumors that people were planning to protest a BART officer's shooting of a local resident last month, they put into place several tactics including contacting cell phone providers having them shut down the towers serving 4 BART stations for 3 hours.

The protests never materialized calling into question whether they ever were going to happen in the first place but the approach used by BART and the fact that other governments including England are now looking into employing similar procedures has some wondering about the government infringing on the rights of its citizens.
BART has been the target of outrage since it successfully jammed cell signals at its stations. Hackers have already broadcasted their ire, with a digital flyer entitled “muBARTek,” a reference to the former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s own efforts to jam cell service in his country during mounting protests.

In response to the allegations that BART is infringing on first amendment rights to free speech, the transit service said, "BART accommodates expressive activities that are constitutionally protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Liberty of Speech Clause of the California Constitution (expressive activity), and has made available certain areas of its property for expressive activity...."
So what do you think, did BART go to far? Does the government have the right to purposefully control access to technology to stop peaceful protests?

And maybe more importantly, what is happening to folks in the Bay Area if they can't organize and carry out a decent protest without having cell phone coverage? I seem to remember that Northern Californian's used to be quite good at that whole protest thing long before anyone had ever heard of a cell phone.

Fischer: God Only Allows A Woman To Be President As A Last Resort

The American Family Association's Bryan Fischer, buddy of newly announced GOP Presidential candidate Rick Perry and co-sponsor of his hate filled "Response" prayer-athon, has definite ideas on what place women should have in our culture and it doesn't include the White House. Unless there are no men available to do the job that is...
If you look at the Scriptures, I believe it's clear that God has designed men to exercise authority in the home, in the church, in society, and in government. So let me repeat that - that is my personal take on what the Scriptures indicate about the way God has designed man and woman to work: God has designed men to exercise leadership and authority and headship in the home, in the church, in society, and in government.

Now then the question becomes what if God can't find any men with the spine and with the testicular fortitude to provide the kind of leadership? Well, what he'll do is He'll send a woman to do a man's job.
Rick Perry must be so proud.

Keeping Up Appearances

Apparently Michele Bachmann was more concerned with keeping up appearances than she was in boning up on the issues for the latest Iowa GOP debate.
In a Twitter post that evening, Jennifer Jacobs, a Des Moines Register reporter, wrote, “Bachmann left the stage at every commercial break, even during the last one, when the Fox crew corralled her and asked her to stay,” and someone with knowledge of what happened confirmed that account. They said that Mrs. Bachmann insisted on leaving in order to touch up her makeup, even after Fox employees warned her that leaving during such short breaks was risky.
At least she looked good while falsely telling us that raising the debt ceiling gave Barack Obama a blank check to add more debt.
Michele Bachmann repeated a false claim that raising the debt ceiling
is giving Obama a $2.4 trillion "blank check." She also adds another
misleading statement that the debt-ceiling agreement — known as the
Budget Control Act of 2011 — will result in only "$21 billion in
illusory cuts."
Bachmann, Aug. 11: It was very important that we not raise the debt ceiling, because — consider what happened. The Congress gave Barack Obama a blank check for $2.4 trillion. What did the American people get in return? $21 billion in illusory cuts.

As we have written before, a "blank check" means unlimited spending. But the administration is limited under the agreement to new borrowing of between $2.1 trillion and $2.4 trillion, depending on future congressional actions, as the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office explained in an Aug. 1 analysis of the deal. Also, the administration cannot spend money without congressional authorization. The borrowed money will go to pay obligations Congress has already approved or will approve.

As for the "$21 billion in illusory cuts," Bachmann is referring to the estimated impact on the federal deficit in the first year. The CBO estimates that the debt-ceiling agreement would reduce the federal deficit by $2.1 trillion over 10 years, including $756 billion over that time by capping discretionary spending.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fox Shuts Down Comments On Hip Hop BBQ Post But Leaves Headline That Incited Them

It seems Fox Nation's post on Barack Obama's 50th birthday party titled "Obama's Hip-Hop BBQ Didn't Create Jobs" spurred so many racist and defamatory responses that they had to shut down the comments on the article completely.
On Friday, Fox News' Fox Nation website was forced to shut down comments on a post that referred to President Obama's 50th birthday party as a "Hip-Hop BBQ," after receiving many submissions that were racist. "We found many of the comments to be offensive and inappropriate and they have been removed," Bill Shine, the executive vice president of Fox News programming, told The Cutline on Friday.
As noted, Fox was forced to shut down the comments on this post but yet apparently still doesn't have any problem with the headline that initiated the comments as it remains. Of course this just further highlights the outright hatred demonstrated by many at Fox and from those that drink the Fox Kool Aid and is just the latest in a continuing pattern of hatred by Fox and many of their followers.

All that seems to be missing from Fox's logo are men in hoods wearing white sheets and a burning cross.

Stewart: They're Really Only Entitlements When They're Something Other People Want

Jon Stewart uses Fox News' Megan Kelly's rant about the criticism she received from conservative radio host Mike Gallagher about her maternity leave to point out the hypocrisy of the anti-entitlement crowd.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Those Damn Entitlement Programs

To be considered for the GOP nomination these days you have to preach about the evils of just about any entitlement program. It certainly wouldn't pay to have any socialist tendencies with the tea party's calling the shots in the GOP now would it?

So I guess it isn't going to be all wine and roses for 2 of the tea party favorite sons/daughters as it is being reported that Minnesota crazy woman, and entitlement hater, Michele Bachmann has been at the front of the line when stimulus dollars were being handed out not to mention the government aid she and her husband have received over the years for their business interests.
A Freedom of Information Act request filed by The Huffington Post with three separate federal agencies reveals that on at least 16 separate occasions, Bachmann petitioned the federal government for direct financial help or aid. A large chunk of those requests were for funds set aside through President Obama's stimulus program, which Bachmann once labeled "fantasy economics." Bachmann made two more of those requests to the Environmental Protection Agency, an institution that she has suggested she would eliminate if she were in the White House.

Taken as a whole, the letters underscore what Bachmann's critics describe as a glaring distance between her campaign oratory and her actual conduct as a lawmaker. Combined with previous revelations that Bachmann personally relied on a federally subsidized home loan while her husband's business benefited from Medicaid payments, it appears that one of the Tea Party's most cherished members has demonstrated that the government does, in fact, play a constructive role -- at least in her life and district.
And then there is Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Fresh off his "Response" rally with some of his most hate filled fundamentalist friends we are learning that he apparently suffers from a slightly milder case of the same affliction that South Dakota's own Kristi Noem suffers subsidies.
Falling into line with the Tea Party rhetoric against “out-of-control” government spending, Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) is now supporting a move away from direct subsidies to the agriculture industry in favor of an incentives-driven model. But Perry himself has benefited from over $80,000 in farm subsidies over the years and publicly declared his support for farm subsidies when running for Texas Agriculture Commissioner in 1990.
Obviously coming from my political persuasion, benefiting from government programs like both Bachmann and Perry have is nothing to be ashamed of. Doing so and then preaching on how evil they are, on the other hand, certainly is.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

McConnell Admits Holding Debt Ceiling Negotiations Hostage

Not that we already didn't know this but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell goes on record and admits that the GOP held the debt ceiling negotiations hostage in order to get their agenda shoved down our throats and doesn't rule out doing it again.

But at the Capitol, behind the four doors and the three receptionists and the police guard, McConnell said he could imagine doing this again.

“I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting,” he said. “Most of us didn’t think that. What we did learn is this — it’s a hostage that’s worth ransoming. And it focuses the Congress on something that must be done.”

[Washington Post]

The "Response" Wasn't The Only Gathering In Town

Texas Governor Rick Perry's so called apolitical get together of some of his most hateful religious extremist friends wasn't the only gathering in Houston last Saturday. In fact an estimated 3 times as many people attended another gathering on Saturday and it didn't even rate a mention in any mainstream media newscasts.

The other event, Houston's first ever citywide back to school event was setup to provide much needed school supplies, uniforms, haircut vouchers, immunizations, and fresh produce to the city's ever growing poor population. Unfortunately the pre-event estimates of 25,000 needy children ended up being closer to 100,000 causing event organizers to close the doors 2 hours early and turning away 10's of thousands of kids.

Not surprisingly, the "Response" attendees apparently made no mention of those who had gathered only a few blocks down the road.

Monday, August 8, 2011

E-Trade's Next Commercial

Pretty fitting considering what has been going on with the economy lately.

YouTube pulled the video over copyright concerns from e-Trade

(h/t Digby)

S&P Agency Chief Has Literary Degree And No Economics Background

I am not really sure what to make of this but I do find it interesting that the chief of sovereign ratings at Standard and Poor's, John Chambers, has a masters in English Literature but never studied economics.
Mr Chambers, the chairman of S&P’s sovereign ratings committee, has come under scrutiny himself since the downgrade.

Political observers have noted that he never studied economics and that he majored in literature and philosophy and has a master's in English literature.
I would assume that he has an office full of economic egg heads working under him but in the wake of the reported 2 trillion dollar mistake in the S&P's calculations it does make one stop and think doesn't it?

But then again many in Congress don't have economic backgrounds either and they set our fiscal policy...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Who Are The Terrorists Again?


Planned Parenthood of North Texas said someone threw an ignited container of diesel fuel that smashed the outer glass of the front door and started a small fire around the door and on the sidewalk. The container was not thrown inside the clinic which is located in a small strip mall shopping center.

And for the record they don't perform abortions, only women's health and reproductive services.

Judson Phillips:Liberalism Has Killed a Billion People

Head tea bagger from the Tea Party Nation, Judson Philips, was in Wisconsin yesterday trying to save the political butt's of 6 Wisconsin legislators who are facing recall this week over their union busting legislation. During his speech Philips had his propaganda message in top form when his told those gathered at the event in Milwaukee that "Liberalism Has Killed a Billion People"
I will tell you ladies and gentlemen, I detest and despise everything the left stands for. How anybody can endorse and embrace an ideology that has killed a billion people in the last century is beyond me.
Wow, who would have known us Liberals were so evil? You'd think we led the Crusades or something.

S&P Decision Maker Explains Why He Lowered US Credit Rating

John Chambers of Standard & Poor's discusses why the decision was made to lower US credit rating.

I especially think this statement by Chambers when asked what was behind his decision is quite telling:
Well, I think there were two reasons. The first reason is the one that you have outlined, being our view of the political settings in the United States have been altered. We have taken them down a notch, the rating down a notch. The political brinkmanship we saw over raising the debt ceiling was something that was really beyond our expectations, the U.S. government getting to the last day before they had cash management problems.
And to further pound this point home Anderson Cooper asked him again:
COOPER: So it’s interesting. You’re saying without a doubt, the recent debate, the recent roadblocks in Congress, the tenor, the timing, the tone of the debate had a major impact on this.

With Chambers' comments in mind I just have one question. Who was it that installed the roadblocks and set set the tenor and tone of the debates again?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Boehner: I Got 98% Of What I Wanted

While Standard & Poor's was contemplating and eventually lowering the US credit rating for the first time in history because of our politician's failures to properly address the situation, Republican House leader John Boehner was telling us that he got 98% of what he wanted from the debt ceiling bill that eventually led to the credit downgrade.
When you look at this final agreement that we came to with the white House, I got 98 percent of what I wanted. I'm pretty happy.
Once again from the S&P:
The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy.
So Mr Speaker was the downgrade part of the 2% you didn't get or the 98% you did especially in light of Senator Mitch McConnell's well publicized comments on how the GOP's single most important mission was to ensure Barack Obama was a one term president?

Friday, August 5, 2011

S&P Downgrades US Credit Rating

Reuters is reporting that Standard & Poor's is downgrading the credit rating for the US from AAA to AA+ with the agency also saying that it might not be done and could lower it once again in the next 12 to 18 months.
The United States lost its top-notch AAA credit rating from Standard & Poor's on Friday, in a dramatic reversal of fortune for the world's largest economy.

S&P cut the long-term U.S. credit rating by one notch to AA-plus on concerns about growing budget deficits.
ABC News is also reporting that major reasons for the downgrade include Congress's holding the debt ceiling negotiations hostage for political gain as well as the GOP's refusal to accept any tax increases that could be used to help offset the mounting debt.
Official reasons given, one official says, will be the political confusion surrounding the process of raising the debt ceiling, and lack of confidence that the political system will be able to agree to more deficit reduction. A source says Republicans saying that they refuse to accept any tax increases as part of a larger deal will be part of the reason cited.
Next time you see your adjustable rate mortgage or credit card interest rate jump due to the higher cost of borrowing make sure you thank your local tea party member.

UPDATE: Standard and Poor's statement regarding the credit downgrade.
The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy. Despite this year’s wide-ranging debate, in our view, the differences between political parties have proven to be extraordinarily difficult to bridge, and, as we see it, the resulting agreement fell well short of the comprehensive fiscal consolidation program that some proponents had envisaged until quite recently. Republicans and Democrats have only been able to agree to relatively modest savings on discretionary spending while delegating to the Select Committee decisions on more comprehensive measures. It appears that for now, new revenues have dropped down on the menu of policy options. In addition, the plan envisions only minor policy changes on Medicare and little change in other entitlements, the containment of which we and most other independent observers regard as key to long-term fiscal sustainability.

Fox News Not Even Bothering To Hide It Anymore

Fox's headline from story on Obama's 50th birthday party. Comments section from the story is even nicer...

Eating Their Own

District 25 voters should really head over to the Dakota War College to see our (I live in district 25) illustrious homophobic/"I am patriotic and you're not" State Rep Stace Nelson's war of words with some of the more prominent Republican commentator's before the DWC possibly whitewashes it. It is really a sight to behold.

I especially enjoyed Rep Nelson's ripping of career politicians all while announcing he will be seeking another term by spamming the comment section of DWC with his donation page link. Really looking forward to another election where I again do not vote for him only this time let's hope more of our district's voters follow suit.

Climate Science Is BS But End Of Days Prophecies Just Peachy

Again I go to Wingnutdaily to peer into the far rightwing's thinking or lack thereof. This time Joseph Farah's internet rag tells us about a Texas lake that has turned red (like in blood) and following the typical fundamentalist views that WND and their readers subscribe to, it can be nothing other than another sign of the approaching end of days.
"I'm not saying that this Texas lake is these Scriptures in Revelation, but what I am saying is the Bible prophecies are slowly fulfilling themselves in the midst of an end time revelation – that we need to be right, we need to be saved, we need to be born again and ready to meet the coming King," he said.
Of course scientists do have a non-biblical explanation for the death of the lake and it's subsequent change in color, you know like the worst drought in the area's recorded history causing a major fish kill and bacterial/algae growth. But obviously that explanation is not something that their flock could latch on to as they might have to admit that something isn't quite right with our climate and we all know that just won't work.

All is not lost though. In an almost biblical twist of fate, Texas Governor Rick Perry just so happens to be holding his "I'm sucking up to the religious right in preparation for a Presidential run" day of prayer and fasting this weekend so maybe he and his minions could say a little prayer to end the drought. It didn't work back in April but maybe with all the high powered righteous folks he has sponsoring his "apolitical" event the man upstairs might just listen this time around stopping both the end times and the drought.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Happy Birthday President Obama!

Or as Wingnutdaily and Rush Limbaugh would it really? I haven't seen any proof of that yet.

Wealth Disparity

Al Jazeera takes a look at wealth disparity and I doubt we will be seeing any similar reporting from Fox.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fuzzy Math

The GOP claims they are all about cutting spending and creating jobs so isn't it interesting that they decided to leave Washington for a month without passing a funding bill for the Federal Aviation Administration. What you say is so interesting about that?

How does putting up to 74,000 workers on indefinite furlough and costing as much as $1 billion in lost tax revenue sound? How's that for interesting? And what is even more interesting is one of the main reasons the GOP has refused to reach a funding deal (besides the GOP's hatred of unions) revolves around a $200 million FAA program that subsidizes rural airports known as the Essential Air Service which readers here might remember I have touched on in the past.

Now I will not go into whether or not this program should continue as I discussed that in the linked to post above but isn't it funny that Congress's refusal to pass a bill because of its cost is actually costing us many times as much as the program that they are against?

That must be that new math I've heard so much about.