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?

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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.”

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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.

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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?

(via)

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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