Paul Krugman at The New York Times ponders the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger in Barons of Broadband. Blowing out the merger's candles would be a good way to celebrate the Clayton Antitrust Act's 100th birthday this year:
So let me ask two questions about the proposed deal. First, why would we even think about letting it go through? Second, when and why did we stop worrying about monopoly power?Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic writes with righteous ferocity—On the Killing of Jordan Davis by Michael Dunn:
On the first question, broadband Internet and cable TV are already highly concentrated industries, with a handful of corporations accounting for most of the customers. Once upon a time antitrust authorities, looking at this situation, would probably have been trying to cut Comcast down to size. Letting it expand would have been unthinkable.
Comcast’s chief executive says not to worry: “It will not reduce competition in any relevant market because our companies do not overlap or compete with each other. In fact, we do not operate in any of the same ZIP codes.” This is, however, transparently disingenuous.
I wish I had something more to say about the fact that Michael Dunn was not convicted for killing a black boy. Except I said it after George Zimmerman was not convicted of killing a black boy. Except the parents of black boys already know this. Except the parents of black boys have long said this, and they have been answered with mockery.E.J. Dionne Jr. at The Washington Post shows that even stopped clocks like Ron Unz can get it right by default, as he does by saying that Raising the minimum wage is the right idea for the right:
Jordan Davis had a mother and a father. It did not save him. Trayvon Martin had a mother and a father. They could not save him. My son has a father and mother. We cannot protect him from our country, which is our aegis and our assailant. We cannot protect our children because racism in America is not merely a belief system but a heritage, and the inability of black parents to protect their children is an ancient tradition. [...]
Spare us the invocations of "black-on-black crime." I will not respect the lie. I would rather be thought insane. The most mendacious phrase in the American language is "black-on-black crime," which is uttered as though the same hands that drew red lines around the ghettoes of Chicago are not the same hands that drew red lines around the life of Jordan Davis, as though black people authored North Lawndale and policy does not exist. That which mandates the murder of our Hadiya Pendletons necessarily mandates the murder of Jordan Davis. I will not respect any difference. I will not respect the lie. I would rather be thought crazy.
The only mystery is why so few conservative politicians see the issue this way. Rank-and-file conservatives know better. A December Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 53 percent of self-described conservatives supported a minimum wage increase. [...]You can read excerpts from more pundits below the fold
One conservative, at least, is speaking for this majority. Ron Unz, a Silicon Valley millionaire and one-time Republican candidate for governor of California, is championing an initiative to raise his state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour. His reasons are thoroughly in keeping with his ideology.
Unz has argued that a minimum wage hike “would function as a massive stimulus package.” He told ABC News that if the national minimum were increased to $12, “probably between $150 billion and $175 billion a year would go into the pockets of the lower-wage families that spend every dollar they earn. It would cause a tremendous boost in economic demand.”
Ana Marie Cox at The Guardian argues that The best way to stop 'the war on women' is to embrace it:
Yes, there are conservatives who seem to have voluntarily enlisted: Akin, Taranto, Rush Limbaugh. And those “men’s rights” “activists” (where to stop with the scare quotes!), about whom less is said, the better.Stefano Hatfield at The Independent says Helen Mirren is right: When did TV violence against women become so acceptably ubiquitous?
Those men are lost to our side no matter what; they will be beating drums and fashioning spears in their mental wilderness no matter which peace agreement the rest of us reach.
I want to talk to (or at least about) the men who hear “war on women” and, appropriately, think of the women they love: mothers, wives, sisters daughters, colleagues, friends. They scan their feelings and come up with compassion and respect, a sample of one that allows them to reject the premise of a more general conservative attack on women’s rights. For them, the slogan becomes just another liberal subterfuge, distracting from the “real” crises: I’m a conservative, I admire and trust my wife and daughters, therefore Benghazi.
I don’t think there’s any amount of data that can dissuade those who reject “the war on women” based on their positive personal relationships with women. It is actually a scientific fact that scientific facts carry little weight against life experience.
So we have to confront the semi-conscientious objectors to of the war on women. We have to ask them to expand their personal experience. We have to make further personal experience available to them. We have to ask them to think not about their own feelings about the women they already know, but to look more closely at the lives of the women all around them. What are the struggles of the woman who teaches your kids, who does your accounting, who makes your espresso, who delivers your mail, who rings up your groceries?
She took the words right out of my mouth. For years, I have been boring on at my diminishing circle of friends that British television, for all its qualities, has a real problem: an over-reliance on violence against women. Now, Dame Helen Mirren has spoke publically about it too, I don’t feel quite so alone.Ruth Conniff at The Progressive discusses one guy who is Fighting the Corporate Takeover of America's Media:
I’m not, of course. Last autumn, the best-selling British crime writer Ann Cleeves (Vera Stanhope, Shetland) hit out against the violence against women in Scandi-noir thrillers, a point picked up on by one of our leading playwrights David Hare only last week, when he described TV’s rising female body count as “ridiculous”.
Of course it’s not just British television.
Former FCC commissioner Michael Copps, the only FCC commissioner to vote against Comcast's merger with NBC/Universal in 2011, says of the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merge] "This proposed deal runs roughshod over competition and consumer choice and is an affront to the public interest." [...]William Greider at The Nation explains Why the Federal Reserve Needs an Overhaul:
Copps is a hero to people who care about media and the public interest.
When he left the FCC last year after more than a decade, instead of cashing in on his many corporate contacts, Copps went to work with Common Cause and Free Press to fight for a more democratic media. [...]
"We need to look at alternatives," Copps says, including public broadcasting, nonprofit media, low-power radio, community media, in addition to stopping corporate consolidation.
"It's not the laws of nature or the hand of God that created our media system," Copps says. "It was public policy."
The remnant Populists still in Congress in 1913 were not fooled by the talk of political neutrality. Representative Robert Henry of Texas described the new central bank as “wholly in the interest of the creditor classes, the banking fraternity, and the commercial world without proper provision for the debtor classes and those who toil, produce and sustain the country.”Robert Reich at his personal blog laments America’s “We” Problem:
A hundred years later, the country seems to have circled back to the very same arguments. We are confronted again by the financial destructiveness the Fed was supposed to eliminate. Despite some worthy reforms that centralized power in Washington, bankers still run wild on occasion, ignoring restraints and spreading misery in their wake. The Fed still rushes to their rescue with lots of money—public money. And people at large still pay a terrible price for official indulgence of this very privileged sector.
So this is my brief for fundamental reform: dismantle the peculiar arrangement and democratize it. The Federal Reserve has always been a glaring contradiction of democratic values. After a century of experience, we should be able to conclude from events that the system simply doesn’t work. Or rather, it does very well for bankers, but not for ordinary citizens. The economy does require a governing authority—Fed advocates are right about that—but it suffers from the Fed’s incestuous relationship with Wall Street bankers. My solution: throw open the doors, let the people into the conversation and the decision-making. The untutored ranks of citizens are as fallible as any economist, but they often know things about economic reality well before the experts.
America has a serious “We” problem—as in “Why should we pay for them?” [...]The Editorial Board of the Los Angeles Times says First, the U.S. killed Anwar Awlaki. Now another citizen may be targeted. What about due process?:
The pronouns “we” and “they” are the most important of all political words. They demarcate who’s within the sphere of mutual responsibility, and who’s not. Someone within that sphere who’s needy is one of “us”—an extension of our family, friends, community, tribe – and deserving of help. But needy people outside that sphere are “them,” presumed undeserving unless proved otherwise.
The central political question faced by any nation or group is where the borders of this sphere of mutual responsibility are drawn.
Why in recent years have so many middle-class and wealthy Americans pulled the borders in closer?
The middle-class and wealthy citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, for example, are trying to secede from the school district they now share with poorer residents of town, and set up their own district funded by property taxes from their higher-valued homes.
Similar efforts are underway in Memphis, Atlanta, and Dallas. Over the past two years, two wealthy suburbs of Birmingham, Alabama, have left the countywide school system in order to set up their own.
If the United States is again to deliberately take the life of one of its citizens without due process of law, leaders from the president on down must, at the very least, offer specific and credible proof that such action was absolutely necessary to prevent imminent attacks on Americans and that capturing the suspected terrorist was impossible.The Editorial Board of the Miami Herald agrees with Attorney General Eric Holder that the nation should Restore voting rights to ex-felons:
Satisfactory substantiation was never provided for the assassination of Awlaki, a propagandist for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula who, according to the U.S. government, had assumed an operational role. Nor was the public fully informed about how President Obama and his advisors decided that Awlaki's name belonged on a kill list.
Mr. Holder has no power to change the states’ policies, but he was right in calling attention to the issue. According to him, an estimated 5.8 million American felons — 2.2 million of them African American—are disenfranchised by states denying them voting rights. Like other criminal-justice issues Mr. Holder has tackled lately, there is a racial component here. More black Americans are incarcerated than any other group and generally receive tougher sentences for drug-related crimes. [...]
Restoring felons’ voting rights is not an easy sell in many states. Studies have found that felons are more likely to vote for Democrats than for Republicans, so lifting the voting bans and limits in states is a partisan issue that likely won't change soon in GOP-led states like Florida. Interestingly, a 2002 study by the University of Minnesota and Northwestern University concluded that the 2000 presidential election would “almost certainly” have come out differently had more felons in the country been allowed to vote.