Democrats In Bed With AT&T

A couple of weeks ago I came across what amounted to a propaganda piece in the Pierre Capitol Journal regarding the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger. Reading the article I had the feeling that it came directly from AT&T’s marketing department and pretty much said so here.

Well it appears that local rags aren’t the only ones in Ma Bell’s pocket as 66 of 72 Democrats that co-signed a letter sent to the the FCC and the US Justice Department praising the deal that would cut the number of national carriers down to 3 received almost $500k in contributions last year from what would become largest cell phone carrier in the US if the deal does go through.

The list of 72 and their take:

G. K. Butterfield $10,500
Gene Green $10,000
Peter Welch $6,500
Joe Baca $10,250
John Barrow $10,000
Dan Boren $10,000
Robert Brady $9,000
Ben Chandler $7,000
Silvestre Reyes $8,500
William Lacy Clay, Jr. $10,500
Al Green $10,000
Alcee Hastings $10,000
Nick J. Rahall $10,000
James P. Moran $2,500
Gregory W. Meeks $9,500
Albio Sires $9,000
Tim Holden $8,000
Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. $11,250
Ed Pastor $10,000
Mike Ross $10,250
Rubén Hinojosa $7,500
Henry Cuellar $10,000
Joseph Crowley $10,000
Eddie Bernice Johnson $9,000
Luis Gutierrez $5,500
Adam Schiff $5,500
Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. $3,350
Adam Smith $4,500
Corrine Brown $6,000
Chaka Fattah $8,000
Henry C. Johnson, Jr. $2,000
Michael Michaud $8,500
Loretta Sanchez $11,000
Donna M. Christensen $7,500
Ted Deutch $6,000
Jim Costa $10,500
Betty McCollum $1,000
Ed Perlmutter $5,500
Brad Miller $2,000
Yvette Clarke $7,000
Grace Napolitano $4,000
Steve Cohen $5,000
Ron Kind $7,000
Betty Sutton $4,000
Heath Shuler $10,000
David Scott $11,500
Jared Polis NA
Cedric Richmond NA
Shelley Berkley $7,000
Frederica Wilson NA
Tim Bishop $10,500
Marcia Fudge $9,000
Rosa DeLauro $2,000
Karen Bass NA
Christopher S. Murphy $6,800
Frank Pallone $7,500
Laura Richardson $8,000
Dennis Cardoza $10,000
David Cicilline NA
Raúl Grijalva $2,000
Danny K. Davis $6,000
Brad Sherman $5,500
Ben Ray Luján $5,000
Dutch Ruppersberger $7,500
Terri Sewell NA
John B. Larson $5,500
Charles A. Gonzalez $10,500
James R. Langevin $8,000
Collin C. Peterson $4,500
Jerry McNerney $12,750
Joe Courtney $4,250
Gerald Connolly $9,500

Evidently the Republican’s aren’t the only ones in big business’s pocket…

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Walmart Slammed By Mexican Court

Now to be fair, I am far from knowledgeable on the working conditions in Mexico. I do know that they must be bad enough to cause 1000’s of Mexicans to cross our borders yearly in search of a better life.

So knowing that, how bad must Walmart be in Mexico if their Supreme Court is criticizing their labor practices? I’ll give you a hint, an 1890’s dictator and store only salary vouchers are mentioned.

I wonder if they tell their employees how to vote down there as well?

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JA To Promote Proper Business Practices

I saw this on KELO’s newscast and can’t find it online but found it interesting just the same.

A recent survey by Junior Achievement found that many young students thought that cheating in business to get ahead is ok. As a result JA decided to started a new program to try and change that perception among our future business leaders.

Of course a program of the magnitude that JA wanted wouldn’t be cheap so who do you think  jumped in to help out? I would bet that you wouldn’t have guessed it was that bastion of fair play in business, Wal-Mart, whom made a nice donation to Junior Achievement for this program.

So now we have company that strong-arms their suppliers, tells their employees how to vote, and forces their competition out of business with brute force pricing tactics wanting to help instill fair business ideals into our young business people? Maybe they want them working for their competition so they will have a whole new generation to take advantage of…

You just can’t make this stuff up.

UPDATE 8:30pm: The story is now up on KELO.

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McGovern Gets Thrown Under The Bus

For Throwing Unions Under The Bus.

Former Senator and Presidential candidate from South Dakota George McGovern penned what some would consider a less than union friendly op-ed for the Murdoch Street Journal that has the pro-union Democrats seeing Wal-mart blue.

Well, in case you were wondering why McGovern decided to go off the deep end on the employee Free Choice Act, it turns out he’s already been swimming in it for some time.

It’s safe to say George McGovern is a patsy for anti-union lobbyist Rick Berman, the leader of a $30 million front group interfering in key Senate and House races this cycle.

McGovern sits on the board of FirstJobs, another pro-business Berman front group, alongside the likes of Bush Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens, the editorial page director of the Washington Times, and the head of Sam’s Club.

He is from the somewhat union unfriendly South Dakota so what do you expect?

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Walmart Is Scared Of The Democrats

Walmart is worried. They are so worried that the Democrats are going to win power in November that they are mobilizing their local management teams to work towards defeating as many Democrats as possible. To hopefully accomplish this, they are holding mandatory meetings with employee’s that are designed to inform them “wink wink” of the supposed dangers of having Democrats in power.

Why are they going to the trouble of telling their employees how to vote you ask?

Because if Democrats win, they might pass legislation making it easier to unionize which would in turn force the world’s largest and notoriously anti-labor retailer to actually pay their employees a living wage, including, heaven forbid, health benefits.

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16 Months Later

Free Terrestrial Radio – A free service that allows you to listen to music, sports, and talk shows with the help of an electronic device that tunes in to a band of frequencies that correspond to different choices. Signal source emanates from local sources and is broadcast over the air using public airwaves.

Portable Music Device – An electronic device that allows someone to add their choice of songs, videos, and movies for portable use either in the house, in the car, or wherever else the user wishes to listen.

Satellite Radio – A pay service that allows you to listen to music, sports, and talk shows with
the help of an electronic device that tunes in to a band of frequencies
that correspond to different choices. Signal source emanates from a east coast location and is broadcast to subscribers nationwide via a satellite in geosynchronous orbit.

Call me cynical but the 3 above choices as well as others not mentioned sound like competition for my entertainment options. But for the past 16 months various lobbying groups, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in particular, and government agencies that the groups lobby have tried to tell us that the merging of the only 2 companies operating satellite radio business would result in an illegal monopoly.

While monopolies are often not illegal unless they meet certain conditions (just ask the cable TV and telephone industries up until recently), I have a hard time seeing the case that the merging of XM and Sirius would in fact constitute one. And finally earlier this year the Justice Department agreed when they approved without conditions the legality of the merger by concluding that there were enough other choices available to dispel the monopoly contention.

So why did it take 16 months for us to get the the final 3-2 vote by the FCC on Friday that approved the merger? CNBC’s Jim Kramer gives us his insight taken from an interview earlier this year:

this merger has had more oversight than the Iraq war, that the members of Congress are in the hip pockets of terrestrial radio, that the DOJ has rubber stamped merger after merger, and that the fact that this merger has taken so long is a travesty and an injustice.

And there is the rub, what part did the NAB and the rest of the free radio broadcasting industry play in delaying and almost defeating this proposed merger through their lobbying efforts?

Well besides having members in Congress, whom happen to be receiving thousands of in contributions from the NAB, speak out against the merger, they delayed the process at every turn with petitions and requests that led directly to one of the longer merger negotiations in US history. Seems like a lot of effort to me from a group that contends that it isn’t a competitor with satellite radio doesn’t it? Add to all that the conditions that other lobbying groups requested in order for them to support the merger and you see a pattern forming.

The NAB and the free radio industry, not having any serious competition for most of their history, finally had competition (despite their monopoly contentions) and they called out their big guns to oppose it. Both XM and Sirius have been bleeding money for most of their history and without this merger, one if not both of these companies might have failed. The NAB knew this and if they couldn’t block the merger, they hoped that by delaying the merger, one if not both companies would have failed.

That didn’t happen and now, despite the best efforts from the NAB and democrats from the FCC including South Dakota’s Jonathan Adelstein, the merger is going through. So what does that mean?

For most of the 18 million or so subscribers, not much will change at least initially, and even with the combining of the 2 companies financial stability is still a ways away if it ever happens but soon there will be some welcome changes. Some of those include the best music programming from both services, both MLB and NFL games, Opie and Anthony, Howard Stern and ala-carte pricing options.

They say good things come to those who wait but hopefully we haven’t been forced to wait too long by shady dealings from lobbying groups whose only concern is preserving their bottom lines at our expense.

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Does This Mean They Won't Lose Your Luggage Anymore?

Sitting here in the parking lot of Pierre Regional Airport catching up on the news and came across an article on how the major airlines are beginning to start charging passengers for even their first checked bag. While I was aware of this policy, talking to some of my TSA contacts brought up some interesting side effects that travelers might not have been aware of.
If you thought getting through checkpoints was bad before, imagine what it will be like when more and more passengers try stuffing everything into their carry-on’s to save the $15 or more that they would have to pay to check a bag.
The liquids policy will seem tame…

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Take That!

A corporation tries to do something good for schools and all they get for their troubles is grief.

Subway wants your kids to write a story that could get their school $5000 worth of athletic equipment. All they need to do is go here, choose a sandwich, and get creative. Sounds like a pretty cool contest, except that is, when the wingnut nation strikes.

You see, considering the purpose of the contest is to win athletic equipment for the winners school, Subway decided that home schooled kids couldn’t enter. Kind of hard to donate equipment to a non-existent school (yes, I know there are donation option for home schoolers). Anyway, like I said the wingnut nation has latched on to this and now Subway is being bombarded with calls for boycotts as well as becoming the target of all sorts of unflattering comments.

Maybe Ms. Malkin could join with local our home school proponent Sibby to help lead a revolt against Citibank next. As those of us in South Dakota are aware, they are providing a boatload of cash to help provide laptops to our high schools kids, and if I am not mistaken, home schooled students need not apply.

UPDATE: It seems that Dunkin Donuts has attracted the ire of the Malkin led wingnut BS machine as well.

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Are We Headed Towards A Recession?

Cory over at the Madville Times is asking just that question based on the myriad of conflicting reports coming at us from all angles regarding our economy. It all came to a head when the jobs report came out and showed a hefty loss of over 17,000 jobs in January which was the first decline in 52 months. But what got Cory and others going was that even with the downturn in jobs, the unemployment rate actually went down from 5-4.9% during the same period.

So now we have reports that show we shed jobs but fewer people are out of work? That contradiction has some saying (including Cory’s favorite Harvard math guy) that based on the unemployment rate we actually only have a small chance of sliding into a recession.

The 4-week moving average of initial UI claims was reported yesterday at 325,750, which is 17,000 lower than 4 weeks ago and essentially unchanged from the October average. Alone, trends in UI claims suggest a 4 percent recession probability. The unemployment rate is 0.1 points lower than December, but 0.1 higher than three months ago, suggesting an 8 percent recession probability. Combined, this yields an overall recession probability of 6 percent

What isn’t mentioned in all the talk over the drop in unemployment is why? If you read the WSJ article and other sources you will find out that while we did lose 17,000 jobs overall, most coming in manufacturing and construction, other sectors like retail and service actually saw large increases in jobs. Further skewing the unemployment numbers, apparently a large amount of chronically unemployed folks just stopped looking so were not included.

Call me stupid, you wouldn’t be alone, but how is a huge downturn in good paying manufacturing and construction jobs that is offset by a similar increase in low paying service and retail jobs a good thing? Sounds like a recipe for a recession to me considering the decline in spendable income that comes along with the change in employment.

Now mind you that recipe doesn’t apply in South Dakota where we think paying our teachers like a high school kid working at McDonalds is a good thing and where the Governor heralds a minuscule unemployment rate that is highly dependent on those McDonalds jobs, but in the real world the numbers tell me we should be worried.

I’m with Cory, some math guy touting only a slim 6% chance of a recession only tells me that there should probably be more mathematicians out of work and no $1000 dollar check from Uncle Sam will change that or the obvious slowdown we are seeing in the economy. Call it whatever you like, a recession, a slowdown, or even just a blip on the radar, those living through it don’t care what it’s called.

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Exxon Heading To Poor House

Yesterday Shell set a record for the highest profits ($27.6 Billion), and remember I said profits not revenue, ever recorded by a company in the UK. Low and behold, Exxon Mobile released their 4th quarter earnings this morning and unfortunately for Exxon, they were less than half of Shell but a record just the same.

CNBC – Exxon Mobil said Friday record oil prices boosted its fourth-quarter earnings to $11.66 billion, the highest ever operating profit by a U.S. company.

Shares of the world’s largest non-government-controlled oil company rose 1.7 percent in before-the-bell trading as the results beat Wall Street forecasts.

Net income rose nearly 14 percent from the year-earlier of $10.25 billion.

Two national profit records in two days. The supply vs demand way of pricing oil in the commodity market seems to be more geared towards increasing the supply of profits going to the oil companies than maintaining the reasonably priced supply of gas going to the pumps. At least one industry is weathering the recession…

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