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AT&T Responds To DoJ Lawsuit

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the but-we-can-leverage-our-synergies,-honest dept.

AT&T 140

An anonymous reader writes "Last week the Department of Justice filed an antitrust complaint to stop the merger between AT&T and T-Mobile USA. Now, AT&T has responded, arguing that the merger would benefit consumers by increasing competition and freeing up spectrum. 'That means increased output, higher quality service, fewer dropped calls,and lower prices to consumers than without the merger,' they say. Meanwhile, House Republicans have sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Attorney General Eric Holder asking for an explanation of 'what went into the decision to challenge the merger and whether the agencies considered the impact on jobs and economic growth.' A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 21."

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Text of AT&T response (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357548)

Where's the love, DoJ? Remember back when we were tight, when we were illegally spying on all those Americans? Those were good days, baby. We didn't need no warrants or paperwork back then, did we? Why you got to be like this now? Can't we just keep everything hush-hush, like we used to? Come on, you know you want to say yes--just like we said yes when you wanted to install all that spy gear on our trunk lines. You liked daddy's trunk, didn't you girl?

Show some love for AT&T, baby. Don't let it end this way. Let us tap that ass again, like we tapped everyone's phone for you. Let's get away from these courtrooms and just switch places, girl, with *you* bending over and *us* doing the tapping this time. Don't be a hater, DoJ. Let daddy take you all the way *up there*--above the law, just one more time.

Re:Text of AT&T response (2)

RKBA (622932) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357910)

Were illegally spying on all those Americans??? Surprise, they still do, except now it's legal!

Re:Text of AT&T response (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358020)

Were illegally spying on all those Americans??? Surprise, they still do, except now it's legal!

So essentially, the GP is correct I guess. They were illegally spying on all those Americans

Re:Text of AT&T response (1)

Inner_Child (946194) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358136)

Were illegally spying on all those Americans??? Surprise, they still do, except now it's legal!

Yes, were illegally spying. Sure, they're still doing it, but if it's no longer illegal, the past tense is accurate since now it's not illegal.

Re:Text of AT&T response (1)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358582)

I thought they erased that recording. Have you been tapping someone's phone?

Re:Text of AT&T response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37358796)

You seem to have the roles reversed in this relationship.

AT&T seems evil (3, Insightful)

Ken Broadfoot (3675) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357592)

I use AT&T... but the fact they have an exclusive with Apple, and they want T-Mobile.... doesn't remind ANYONE here of another company we tend to love to hate?
Speak about the "freedom" of the free market all you want, but I for one, applaud the governments actions here... Fsck AT&T...

Re:AT&T seems evil (4, Insightful)

guspasho (941623) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357682)

Competition > free markets

Free markets are far from perfect; monopolies are only the most obvious flaw. Additionally, it's arguable whether a market dominated by a private monopoly is actually free. Free from governmental force, sure, but that isn't the only kind of freedom that is implied by the term free market.

Re:AT&T seems evil (0)

swalve (1980968) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358188)

I believe the definition of a free market is simply one where there are no artificial barriers to entry, for sellers or buyers. A market can be completely free and still have a monopoly seller, as long as nobody is stopping anyone from trying to get in the game.

The attempted blocking of this sale by the government is actually anti-competitive. They are telling AT&T it better not try to get very much bigger, or else. In other words, quit trying to gain so much market share. Quit competing.

If AT&T is actually engaging in any monopolistic or anti-competitive behavior, punish them for that. But don't pre-punish them for something they might do because they have been successful competitors and have some cash to make an investment.

Re:AT&T seems evil (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358310)

No, it may be anti free-market, but it is neither anti-competitive nor anti healthy market.

Most informative response on this thread (1)

scottbomb (1290580) | more than 3 years ago | (#37359888)

And yet, the score is only 1.

I ran out of mod points yesterday. Consider this a +1.

re: monopolies (1)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 3 years ago | (#37359768)

Ummm.... I think it's still worth considering that we wouldn't usually be in the position of having to wrestle with a company achieving this monopoly status if govt. didn't originally CAUSE the problem with their manipulation and regulation of the marketplace. AT&T started out WAY ahead of everyone else in the telecom game because they were granted legal monopoly status for many decades. In a truly free marketplace, I'm not convinced monopolies really happen very often. They're more of a rare anomaly than anything else. Typically, it takes the force of govt. mandates/legislation to guarantee a business is insulated from potential competitors.

It seems to me the problem we've seen in recent years is that Federal govt. isn't really *capable* of breaking up a monopoly in an effective and lasting manner, once they've created it and let it go for a length of time. By the nature of a regulated monopoly, it has MANY close ties to people in governmental positions of power, coupled with enormous wealth that's usually spread out in various places. If there ever comes a day when we collectively decide it's time to end the monopolies for public utility companies, for example? Can you really imagine the power or gas companies just "going away quietly"?

One of the only monopolies I can think of that didn't start out with government protection/sanction would be Microsoft ... yet even there, that's very debatable. IBM essentially held the same status in the computer world before they came along and toppled them. Today, IBM is still a profitable player, but they have to compete on pretty much the same set of rules all the other big technology players play by. And without govt. intervention, Microsoft is doing a great job of imploding from within, as of late. (How's that popularity of those Windows Mobile phones going?)

Re:AT&T seems evil (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 3 years ago | (#37359924)

Competition > free markets

While I completely agree with the sentiment of your post, I am afraid I must point out that you are accepting a flawed definition. In fact, competition is a required element of free markets.

it's arguable whether a market dominated by a private monopoly is actually free. Free from governmental force, sure, but that isn't the only kind of freedom that is implied by the term free market.

Lack of monopoly bias is, itself, part of the only kind of freedom implied by the term free market. The "free" in free market means that value is allowed to flow without hindrance or bias by non-market forces. Whether it is the government biasing the market, or a monopoly, union, criminal organization, social stigma, or any other extra-market force is irrelevant. Biased markets are not free markets.

The term for a market which holds as its highest objective that the government not influence trade is "laissez-faire." Don't let the economic anarchists dilute the term "free market." Like "Free Software" is to information science, the term "free market" is far too important in seeking economic prosperity to allow it to be twisted by those who place their right to engage in biased transactions above the maximization of GDP.

Moreover, most people who claim to endorse laissez-faire are inconsistent. Most who claim to support laissez-faire support the Federal Reserve, copyright, patent, and trademark -- all of which are forms of government interference in trade.

Re:AT&T seems evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37357706)

I use AT&T... but the fact they have an exclusive with Apple

You do know that Verizon's had the iPhone for months now, right?

Re:AT&T seems evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37357752)

Honestly, I'm pretty sure these are among the companies we love to hate already.

Re:AT&T seems evil (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358058)

I use AT&T... but the fact they have an exclusive with Apple,.

So my factory unlocked iPhone purchased directly from Apple shouldn't work on T-Mobile as it does currently?

Re:AT&T seems evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37358676)

I use AT&T... but the fact they have an exclusive with Apple..

So, my Verizon iPhone is really AT&T?

Re:AT&T seems evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37358926)

I use AT&T... but the fact they have an exclusive with Apple

What exclusive with Apple, have you walked into a Verizon store lately?

Nonsense (5, Interesting)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357602)

How does buying up another telco player encourage competition?

Re:Nonsense (5, Funny)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357644)

I think part of what they were saying is that they are so incompetent that they have to purchase a whole other company so they quit dropping calls.

The competition they are talking about encouraging is their own ability to compete, not the market itself.

They have their heads so far up their asses that they can't see anything else.

Re:Nonsense (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358040)

They have their heads so far up their asses that they can't see anything at all.

There, fixed it for ya. Ah, yes, and it smells like hell in there !

Re:Nonsense (2)

Forthan Red (820542) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358398)

After explaining how this increased competition, AT&T went on to explain that up is down, white is black, and "The Last Airbender" was an excellent film.

Re:Nonsense (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358884)

They're basically saying "if our customers have to wait 2-hours for customer service, T-mobil's customers should too!".

I wish ATT didn't exist. *MOST* people I know who have any interaction with them HATE them and have been screwed over by them -- and they gladly provide that IT WAS THEIR ONLY CHOICE when they did business with them.

I wish ATT would stop being such trash. And I can't believed people would put up with such horrid service just to use an iPhone.

Re:Nonsense (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37357650)

How does it increase jobs? How does it increase economic growth? Here is a hint: all those cost reduction and merger synergies? They don't come from employing more people.

Re:Nonsense (1)

ATMAvatar (648864) | more than 3 years ago | (#37359086)

Don't you know? AT&T will end up with more employees than it had. The fact that the net number of employed US citizens at the end of the merger will be negative is just a mundane detail that should be omitted.

Re:Nonsense (1)

philpalm (952191) | more than 3 years ago | (#37359778)

It increases the lobbyists' economic growth to influence the Congressmen. Also the AT&T branches that compete with T-Mobile will experience economic growth too....

Re:Nonsense (1)

Bill Dimm (463823) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357834)

How does buying up another telco player encourage competition?

They'll have more customers and more infrastructure, so they'll be able to compete better. Isn't it obvious?

It reminds me of the time my brokerage sent me a letter saying it was adjusting its margin rates (the interest you pay them when you borrow money to buy securities) to be "more competitive." As the customer, I thought more competitive would be good for me. Then I looked at the rates and found that the rates were higher for all brackets except one, which was unchanged. Apparently, "more competitive" meant that they wanted their profitability to be more impressive compared to other brokers'.

Re:Nonsense (3, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358214)

You appear to be looking for logic and reason in a corporate press statement. That's a bit like seeking health advice in a morgue.

Re:Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37359024)

Health advice in a morgue is easy. Look at the causes of death, and DON'T DO THOSE THINGS.

Re:Nonsense (1)

lexman098 (1983842) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358426)

It doesn't. It does, however, serve as a pretty good reminder that when someone seems to be spewing a string of talking points, they're probably full of shit.

T-Mobile is dying, like it or not (1)

unassimilatible (225662) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358716)

AT&T buys TM, gobbles up their bandwidth, and competes better with Verizon, while offering customers like me more bars, instead of having to use Skype to call on my phone via wifi - in my own bedroom.

Should we just wait for T-Mobile to die, then have some bankruptcy auction for the bandwidth? How is that more efficient for markets than just doing it now? Creative destruction, my friend.

Re:T-Mobile is dying, like it or not (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358774)

Not really, going from 4 to 3 carriers isn't going to do anything positive for competition. Doesn't matter how you look at it, there's no competition with 4 carriers and going to 3 carriers doesn't strike me as a way of increasing competition.

My guess is that if T-Mobile really does go under that they'll end up being bought out by somebody like Century Link that doesn't have an arm in the market. Or that it would be broken up into smaller regional carriers.

Where I live, we have 4 choices and a small number of other ones that are owned or controlled by the 4 major carriers. For me this would mean ultimately going back to Sprint because they're the best other than T-mobile in this area.

Re:T-Mobile is dying, like it or not (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358940)

Better yet:

ATT is split into 3 companies (or more). Each is forced to compete with each other.

Wireless carriers across the board end up needing to cooperate (share bandwidth) to please national plan customers, fostering price competition between companies, and yet increased coverage for all customers.

Since there will be several competitors, prices will be more aligned with customer desires instead of the 'limited choice' gouging that we experience now with the Oligopoly.

Even now, the smallest competitor, Sprint, offers the most/best services for your dollar. 5 smartphones get all you can eat data/calling/messaging/4g, for 230 dollars on my family plan. And roaming is free (which means I'm on your verizon network anyway).

I can't believe you're trying to defend this atrocious expression of anti-trust and consumer fuxxover.

Re:Nonsense (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358844)

How does buying up another telco player encourage competition?

It doesn't. And I find it ironic that REPUBLICANS (those who tout 'competition') are questioning why the buying of competitors should be challenged.

Vote like a retard; vote Republican. They will lie lie lie and screw you all day, don't people see that? I realize both parties are pro-corporate, but you've gotta be blind or ignorant not to see how ridiculous it is to vote GOP/TeaParty(fake)/Republitard/Conservative nowadays unless you make $1M+/year. And even then its greed you'd be voting for.

Re:Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37359228)

Or grow jobs? Or the economy?

I see nothing wrong with the DoJ's lawsuit (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357606)

All the cell providers are notorious for ripping people off. Its about time the DoJ did something within their power.

Forget Verizon Math (2)

macromorgan (2020426) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357610)

We always laugh at Verizon for how they erroneously calculated billing, what about AT&T's fuzzy math? 4 competitors - 1 competitor > 3 competitors? tens of thousands of jobs lost due to merger "cost reductions" a few thousand call center jobs? Really? It boggles the mind how stupid they think we all are.

Re:Forget Verizon Math (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358064)

But OTOH, we all know it'll work in the end. So why bother?

Re:Forget Verizon Math (1)

PingKin (2457988) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358164)

Seriously?! Then your mind must also be boggled at the number of Republicans holding public office.

Re:Forget Verizon Math (1)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358350)

They don't think they know how stupid we are; they know it. They know this will all blow over and they'll be allowed to merge.

I am hoping from the bottom of my heart that this merger doesn't happen, but at least if it does I'll have a way to back out of my contract with T-Mobile. I will not be an AT&T customer. Never again.

Re:Forget Verizon Math (2)

Wiener (36657) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358754)

They don't think they know how stupid we are; they know it. They know this will all blow over and they'll be allowed to merge.

I am hoping from the bottom of my heart that this merger doesn't happen, but at least if it does I'll have a way to back out of my contract with T-Mobile. I will not be an AT&T customer. Never again.

That's not it, at all. They know that even if the the merger is blocked, T-Mobile is screwed. It's unverified by T-Mobile but customers appear to be leaving in droves, customer service is starting to suffer since the reps know they won't have a job in a year, and network improvements will stagnate leaving them so far behind the competition they'll look like Danica Patrick in a Sprint Cup race! Back to being serious, this will be just like what happened to Sun after the Oracle buyout was stretched out into eternity. The only difference is that T-Mobile was viable before buyout talk started and Sun was a zombie.

No matter what happens, buyout blocked or not, AT&T has one less competitor. No matter what happens, we (and especially T-Mobile employees) lose.

Impact on jobs? (5, Interesting)

SeNtM (965176) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357624)

Why do republicans always side with large corporations? The impact the merger will have on jobs is that they will be reduced as AT&T consolidates redundant positions.

Re:Impact on jobs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37357688)

Why do republicans always side with large corporations?

Don't you know that a good Patriot always puts the Corporation above everything else? Why do you hate freedom, capitalism and the Ay-murican Way?

Re:Impact on jobs? (3, Insightful)

SeNtM (965176) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357806)

Oops, I forgot... The total of all US citizens is only worth three-fifths that of one Fortune-500 corporation.

Re:Impact on jobs? (3)

dunng808 (448849) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357928)

I see this as a challenge to the Obama administration rather than siding with anyone. We have all seen how Republicans have a knee-jerk negative response to anything Obama does.

Re:Impact on jobs? (3, Insightful)

bmxeroh (1694004) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358014)

This. I find myself to be a conservative moderate most days, with a few exceptions on some major issues. But the elected repubs are pissing me off. It is almost always about being completely polar opposite to anything Obama says or does now, that absolutely nothing gets done. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of Obama, and the next time there is a republican pres. I will be bitching about the dems for the same reasons, but this is entirely why nothing gets done in the U.S. We spend more time pissing in each others cheerios than actually trying to come up with something useful. I mean for fucks sake, I get tax raises are unpopular, but there is no reason the tax code should benefit the well off and corps as much as it does. I don't get it, I honestly think that you may gain some popular vote by taking a slightly harder stance here, being as the bulk of the people won't fall into the wealthy category. Ugh, sorry for the ridiculous political rant.

Re:Impact on jobs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37358098)

In bad taste, but posting anonymously as a modder. I wish I could give you more points, this was the most insightful thing I've read on /. in a long time.

Re:Impact on jobs? (1)

turkeyfeathers (843622) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358528)

...but there is no reason the tax code should benefit the well off and corps as much as it does.

Of course there is a reason... they paid for it. Instead of griping about how unfair the system is, why not buy yourself a tax concession? It's surprisingly inexpensive. For $20,000 (less than the average American spends on Starbucks coffee in their lifetime) you can get your Congressman to earmark something for you in the next omnibus bill.

Re:Impact on jobs? (1)

bmxeroh (1694004) | more than 3 years ago | (#37359546)

Well, there's that. I guess I meant legitimate reason, rather than simply bought and paid for. But you bring up two great points, first and foremost, everything is for sale in politics, and secondly that the legislation that is put up for vote is insane. Between all of the random earmarks and riders that have nothing to do with the rest of the bill, and the fact that the congressfolks rely on their aides to read this crap for them. Maybe we can all think of enough similarities that a few of us can chip in and buy one loophole that covers us all. You know, like if you're a person who makes less than 100K/year, who drives a domestic car, and has a registered account at slashdot, and posts semi off-topic comments about requirements to fit into a newly bought and paid for tax loophole while having full-time employment at the same time, your total tax liability is capped at 5%....

Re:Impact on jobs? (0)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357698)

Oh, well let's keep inefficiency around because it makes people feel better. We should legislate it as a requirement.

Re:Impact on jobs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37358146)

** because it provides jobs in an economy which, your favourite screaming rich white man will remind you, amurraka is lacking. If you want nothing more than efficiency, you want fascism. An economy that works through competition is necessarily inefficient.

Re:Impact on jobs? (3, Informative)

guspasho (941623) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357718)

Why do republicans always side with large corporations?


Re:Impact on jobs? (5, Informative)

msoftsucks (604691) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358182)

That's because the Repubs have been paid off by the big boys. They no longer represent you or me, they really represent corporate interests which have been bought out by all of that lobbyist money. They even managed to modify lobbying and financing laws to allow international companies to buy them off. To see how bad "your" representative has been bought off go here []

Re:Impact on jobs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37358902)

They never represented you or me, they just wanted us to think so.

Re:Impact on jobs? (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 3 years ago | (#37359678)

And I suppose Obama's "look forward not backward" -- Hey AT&T, here's a nice bit of immunity for past illegal deeds -- that doesn't"represent corporate interests?

To think that Democrats haven't been bought off TOO, is to be naive. Essentially, all that is left is a bunch of corrupt corporate toadies. We'd all be better off if there was a severe earthquake right under DC, one good enough to open a crack, swallowing it whole, turning the whole fetid cesspool and every political occupant into magma.

Re:Impact on jobs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37359760)

The supreme irony is that large corporations usually favor Democrats, because they tend to support regulations that are irritating to large mega-corporations, but deathblows to small competitors who don't have the internal bureaucracy in place to deal with the regulatory burden.

I wouldn't write off the DOJ yet. Remember, back in the 70s and 80s, if you had to somehow get a mixed crowd of Republicans, Democrats, and everyone from the Rainbow Coalition to the KKK to join hands and rally behind a cause, all you had to do was remind everyone how badly they all hated AT&T.

Re:Impact on jobs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37358378)

Seriously, you could ask the same thing of democrats.

Nobody cares about what they were voted in for, except some of the "teabaggers" as you would probably call them. As much as you hate them, many are trying to skip the status quo and do what they were elected for.

Re:Impact on jobs? (2)

SeNtM (965176) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358706)

I am equally annoyed with democrats. Now-a-days I criticize both parties, its just in this instance the republican reasoning gave me a wtf moment. The political system in this country is corrupt and irrevocably broken. The same corporations and special interest groups hedge their bets by funding both parties. This ensures that regardless of the outcome they still end up dictating policy.

By-and-large I am a little left of the fence, but only because corporate pandering is so obvious on the right. Large corporations outsource jobs, they don't create them. Some seventy plus percent of jobs in this country are created by small business. I own a small business and can tell you the reason I am not hiring has nothing to do with my tax rate.

Just five percent of the people in the US control seventy-five percent of the money in this country and most have tax breaks that have them paying little more in taxes than their middle-class counterpart. If they paid around 10-15% (excluding that FICA bitch) like the rest of us...our governments financial problems would be solved...

Just to put it into scope, the US GDP is $14,000,000,000,000. The top 5% (about 1-1.5million people, not including corporations which are people as defined by the 14th Amendment) control $10,500,000,000,000. Fifteen percent of that is $1,575,000,000,000. Which happens to be the deficit to date for this year. Amazing...If the corporations and fat-cats at the top would play fair, we would actually be succeeding as a country.

Re:Impact on jobs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37359438)

Hey dickheads. Instead of crying, send the email. I encourage you to send a letter instead. Here's the text I used to get theri attention.

As a life long republican and capitalist, I'm concerned by your apparent support of AT&T in their attempt to destroy competition. If the cell phone market were a free market, this merger would be a non-issue. However, spectrum licensing means that cell phones will never exist in the free market and AT&T's behaviour has been consistently abusive to your constituents. They have created a market built around vendor lock-in, abusive contracts, and and other anti-freedom behvior. Supporting the AT&T merger is an attack on capitalism and freedom.

WHY (1)

Shorty1911 (878896) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357632)

Last time I checked the cable companies are more anti trust than cell this venture between At&T and T-mobile.

Re:WHY (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357694)

That is no excuse to allow even less competition.

All it means is that the DOJ should also be looking at the competition between cable providers.

Two wrongs do not make a right.

Re:WHY (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357826)

What competition?

They're granted monopolies by the municipalities.

Re:WHY (5, Informative)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358112)

This! One thousand and two times this!

No cable provider has a monopoly... across the US. But none has competition in its area. They're essentially mini-monopolies. Why do you think internet access sucks that much in the US? There is virtually no competition.

When I lived there (2000-2004) I lived through 4 different places. In the SF bay area. I had to change providers everytime, and everytime I had no choice.

In France, I can choose btw at least 8 providers in urban areas. Result? Free calls (>200 countries), free TV (100 channels), Unlimited internet (and trust me, it's uncapped and unthrottled) 20MB/2MB for 30€/month.

Re:WHY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37358562)

May I ask, why you chose 1002?

Re:WHY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37359212)

Actually, there ARE areas in which customers have a choice of two cable companies. We did, in the Edgewater neighborhood in Chicago, when I lived there back about 10 years ago, and from what I understand that's still the case. In addition to the "original franchise" cable company, a competitor called RCN has been providing service to this area (apparently at a profit, since they are still in business there) for quite some time.


Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37357634)

Scumbags !! And I mean that in a nice way !! Go back to India or wherever you are from now !!

Bullshit. (4, Insightful)

Xacid (560407) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357636)

How in the hell does acquiring a company like this result in MORE competition?

And lower rates? Just like us Cingular customers got? Yeah, right.

How can they even make such claims - that's damned near perjury.

Re:Bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37357732)

You do know that Cingular bought ATT not the other way around, then proceeded to change their name to ATT because Cingular had a reputation for hands down the worst customer relations of any company in existence. Changed the name but kept the old customer relations.

See the name change fooled you.

Re:Bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37358152)

Fooled him into thinking service that stayed the same got worse? That's horrible marketing. Also, whatever name you call Ma Bell and the companies it was temporarily split into, giving consumers even fewer options screws them more.

Re:Bullshit. (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#37359000)

its funny when I had cingular it would work fucking anywhere? 45 miles out past electricity in flavor country? 4 bars! changed to ATT zero bars in at my work in the middle of the city waiting on a new tower they scheduled for 2009 ... still waiting ...

its funny if I really really want to check for text messages I rubber band it to a broom handle and wave it around in the air, this nets me 1 or 2 bars long enough to get an SMS. Needless to say we switched and while Verizon is not perfect in coverage and ass pounding hard on prices, I dont have to rubber band a fucking phone and wave it around like the flag brigade at a high school football games to get a SMS

Re:Bullshit. (2)

firewrought (36952) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358080)

How in the hell does acquiring a company like this result in MORE competition?

Why it's obvious... they are increasing the number of competitors from 4 to 3!

Re:Bullshit. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37358172)

I Agree, but the more glaring item for me is the question from republicans about "Did the decision to oppose the merger consider the impact on jobs or economic growth???". this is comical to say the least, as ALL mergers result in job loss and what I would call REAL economic contraction. The ONLY point of a merger like this is to create a company with the combined market share of the original companies, but with a smaller overhead through the elimination of duplicate administrative overhead. The ONLY people that benefit are stockholders! Consumers see NO real measuable impact one way or the other (this coming from a user of former compaq products pre and post Hp merger) and there has never been a merger that added jobs.

Re:Bullshit. (1)

Esion Modnar (632431) | more than 3 years ago | (#37359026)

Justice Dept ought to just look at AT&T, say, "We split you up before, we can do it again if you like, hmmm? So siddown and STFU!"

Re:Bullshit. (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 3 years ago | (#37359702)

AT&T says: Now that we have immunity for the all illegal stuff we did for you back when, we might be inclined to tattle.

Re:Bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37359466)

It's just a mantra that when repeated enough times it becomes reality. That's the doctrine of marketing.

Re:Bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37359536)

not to mention t-mobile is like sprint... very limited coverage areas with their own towers. the rest of their nation wide coverage uses other gsm providers (including att) just like sprints nation wide coverage uses other smaller cdma tower operators and Verizons towers as well.

Re:Bullshit. (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 3 years ago | (#37359730)

The only way they can guarantee this is by making clear contracts. If you want to take over T-Mobile, for the next 10 year you are to license the spectrum freed to anyone newcomer that is not a spinoff or daughter of AT&T for free. Maximum prices should be established and follow the cost of wholesale bandwidth for the next 50 years. Also, no phones on the GSM network should be locked to the carrier unless more than 3 nationwide GSM carriers exist. Non-negotiable, non-refundable.

Salesman's pitch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37357716)

This couldn't sound more like a sales pitch if you wanted it to be. It's the *exact opposite* of what it would be but that doesn't keep them from stating it. Liars by any definition.

What? (0)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357736)

Lessee... fewer competitors increases competition. Wait, I'm sure I got that wrong. Fewer ComPETitors increases COMPETition. Fewer... increases... Competitors... competition... competitors... Sorry I just can't make that work.

Re:What? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357816)

For sufficiently small values of "increase". I love how they name all the competition like MetroPCS are serious competition to them. As far as I know this merger would have made AT&T the only provider of GSM in the US. All the competitors they named operate CDMA networks.

Re:What? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357856)

Agreed, and having AT&T the only GSM carrier is a frightening prospect.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37357858)

Technically AT&T would only have a 100% monopoly on nation wide GSM. There are some local GSM providers scattered about the country, serving limited areas, which would still exist.

Republican Response (1)

MimeticLie (1866406) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357744)

Wait, are the Republicans really suggesting that a merger would create jobs? Do they understand how acquisitions work?

Re:Republican Response (1)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357788)

Senate Republicans are pro-corporate world. They only look out for each-other's interests and the interests of those companies that will give them large campaign contributions.

Everyone is tossing the "job creation" thing about because they know the masses are concerned about jobs. They don't actually care about the jobs.

Re:Republican Response (2)

enigmatichmachine (214829) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357980)

it would increase jobs, republican jobs. they'll lay off the redundant "little people" and hire more executives to manage the larger company.

Re:Republican Response (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358010)

Yes they do. They side with mega-corporations and the mega rich, and they acquire wealth.

Check out this op-ed by a former GOP (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37358678)

Saturday 3 September 2011
by: Mike Lofgren, Truthout | News Analysis

(Photo: Carolyn Tiry / Flickr)

Barbara Stanwyck: "We're both rotten!"

Fred MacMurray: "Yeah - only you're a little more rotten." -"Double Indemnity" (1944)

Those lines of dialogue from a classic film noir sum up the state of the two political parties in contemporary America. Both parties are rotten - how could they not be, given the complete infestation of the political system by corporate money on a scale that now requires a presidential candidate to raise upwards of a billion dollars to be competitive in the general election? Both parties are captives to corporate loot. The main reason the Democrats' health care bill will be a budget buster once it fully phases in is the Democrats' rank capitulation to corporate interests - no single-payer system, in order to mollify the insurers; and no negotiation of drug prices, a craven surrender to Big Pharma.

But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP.

To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachman (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.

It was this cast of characters and the pernicious ideas they represent that impelled me to end a nearly 30-year career as a professional staff member on Capitol Hill. A couple of months ago, I retired; but I could see as early as last November that the Republican Party would use the debt limit vote, an otherwise routine legislative procedure that has been used 87 times since the end of World War II, in order to concoct an entirely artificial fiscal crisis. Then, they would use that fiscal crisis to get what they wanted, by literally holding the US and global economies as hostages.

The debt ceiling extension is not the only example of this sort of political terrorism. Republicans were willing to lay off 4,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees, 70,000 private construction workers and let FAA safety inspectors work without pay, in fact, forcing them to pay for their own work-related travel - how prudent is that? - in order to strong arm some union-busting provisions into the FAA reauthorization.

Everyone knows that in a hostage situation, the reckless and amoral actor has the negotiating upper hand over the cautious and responsible actor because the latter is actually concerned about the life of the hostage, while the former does not care. This fact, which ought to be obvious, has nevertheless caused confusion among the professional pundit class, which is mostly still stuck in the Bob Dole era in terms of its orientation. For instance, Ezra Klein wrote of his puzzlement over the fact that while House Republicans essentially won the debt ceiling fight, enough of them were sufficiently dissatisfied that they might still scuttle the deal. Of course they might - the attitude of many freshman Republicans to national default was "bring it on!"

It should have been evident to clear-eyed observers that the Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe. This trend has several implications, none of them pleasant.

In his "Manual of Parliamentary Practice," Thomas Jefferson wrote that it is less important that every rule and custom of a legislature be absolutely justifiable in a theoretical sense, than that they should be generally acknowledged and honored by all parties. These include unwritten rules, customs and courtesies that lubricate the legislative machinery and keep governance a relatively civilized procedure. The US Senate has more complex procedural rules than any other legislative body in the world; many of these rules are contradictory, and on any given day, the Senate parliamentarian may issue a ruling that contradicts earlier rulings on analogous cases.

The only thing that can keep the Senate functioning is collegiality and good faith. During periods of political consensus, for instance, the World War II and early post-war eras, the Senate was a "high functioning" institution: filibusters were rare and the body was legislatively productive. Now, one can no more picture the current Senate producing the original Medicare Act than the old Supreme Soviet having legislated the Bill of Rights.

Far from being a rarity, virtually every bill, every nominee for Senate confirmation and every routine procedural motion is now subject to a Republican filibuster. Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that Washington is gridlocked: legislating has now become war minus the shooting, something one could have observed 80 years ago in the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. As Hannah Arendt observed, a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself.

John P. Judis sums up the modern GOP this way:

        "Over the last four decades, the Republican Party has transformed from a loyal opposition into an insurrectionary party that flouts the law when it is in the majority and threatens disorder when it is the minority. It is the party of Watergate and Iran-Contra, but also of the government shutdown in 1995 and the impeachment trial of 1999. If there is an earlier American precedent for today's Republican Party, it is the antebellum Southern Democrats of John Calhoun who threatened to nullify, or disregard, federal legislation they objected to and who later led the fight to secede from the union over slavery."

A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.

A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters' confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that "they are all crooks," and that "government is no good," further leading them to think, "a plague on both your houses" and "the parties are like two kids in a school yard." This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s - a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn ("Government is the problem," declared Ronald Reagan in 1980).

The media are also complicit in this phenomenon. Ever since the bifurcation of electronic media into a more or less respectable "hard news" segment and a rabidly ideological talk radio and cable TV political propaganda arm, the "respectable" media have been terrified of any criticism for perceived bias. Hence, they hew to the practice of false evenhandedness. Paul Krugman has skewered this tactic as being the "centrist cop-out." "I joked long ago," he says, "that if one party declared that the earth was flat, the headlines would read 'Views Differ on Shape of Planet.'"

Inside-the-Beltway wise guy Chris Cillizza merely proves Krugman right in his Washington Post analysis of "winners and losers" in the debt ceiling impasse. He wrote that the institution of Congress was a big loser in the fracas, which is, of course, correct, but then he opined: "Lawmakers - bless their hearts - seem entirely unaware of just how bad they looked during this fight and will almost certainly spend the next few weeks (or months) congratulating themselves on their tremendous magnanimity." Note how the pundit's ironic deprecation falls like the rain on the just and unjust alike, on those who precipitated the needless crisis and those who despaired of it. He seems oblivious that one side - or a sizable faction of one side - has deliberately attempted to damage the reputation of Congress to achieve its political objectives.

This constant drizzle of "there the two parties go again!" stories out of the news bureaus, combined with the hazy confusion of low-information voters, means that the long-term Republican strategy of undermining confidence in our democratic institutions has reaped electoral dividends. The United States has nearly the lowest voter participation among Western democracies; this, again, is a consequence of the decline of trust in government institutions - if government is a racket and both parties are the same, why vote? And if the uninvolved middle declines to vote, it increases the electoral clout of a minority that is constantly being whipped into a lather by three hours daily of Rush Limbaugh or Fox News. There were only 44 million Republican voters in the 2010 mid-term elections, but they effectively canceled the political results of the election of President Obama by 69 million voters.

This tactic of inducing public distrust of government is not only cynical, it is schizophrenic. For people who profess to revere the Constitution, it is strange that they so caustically denigrate the very federal government that is the material expression of the principles embodied in that document. This is not to say that there is not some theoretical limit to the size or intrusiveness of government; I would be the first to say there are such limits, both fiscal and Constitutional. But most Republican officeholders seem strangely uninterested in the effective repeal of Fourth Amendment protections by the Patriot Act, the weakening of habeas corpus and self-incrimination protections in the public hysteria following 9/11 or the unpalatable fact that the United States has the largest incarcerated population of any country on earth. If anything, they would probably opt for more incarcerated persons, as imprisonment is a profit center for the prison privatization industry, which is itself a growth center for political contributions to these same politicians.[1] Instead, they prefer to rail against those government programs that actually help people. And when a program is too popular to attack directly, like Medicare or Social Security, they prefer to undermine it by feigning an agonized concern about the deficit. That concern, as we shall see, is largely fictitious.

Undermining Americans' belief in their own institutions of self-government remains a prime GOP electoral strategy. But if this technique falls short of producing Karl Rove's dream of 30 years of unchallengeable one-party rule (as all such techniques always fall short of achieving the angry and embittered true believer's New Jerusalem), there are other even less savory techniques upon which to fall back. Ever since Republicans captured the majority in a number of state legislatures last November, they have systematically attempted to make it more difficult to vote: by onerous voter ID requirements (in Wisconsin, Republicans have legislated photo IDs while simultaneously shutting Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices in Democratic constituencies while at the same time lengthening the hours of operation of DMV offices in GOP constituencies); by narrowing registration periods; and by residency requirements that may disenfranchise university students.

This legislative assault is moving in a diametrically opposed direction to 200 years of American history, when the arrow of progress pointed toward more political participation by more citizens. Republicans are among the most shrill in self-righteously lecturing other countries about the wonders of democracy; exporting democracy (albeit at the barrel of a gun) to the Middle East was a signature policy of the Bush administration. But domestically, they don't want those people voting.

You can probably guess who those people are. Above all, anyone not likely to vote Republican. As Sarah Palin would imply, the people who are not Real Americans. Racial minorities. Immigrants. Muslims. Gays. Intellectuals. Basically, anyone who doesn't look, think, or talk like the GOP base. This must account, at least to some degree, for their extraordinarily vitriolic hatred of President Obama. I have joked in the past that the main administration policy that Republicans object to is Obama's policy of being black.[2] Among the GOP base, there is constant harping about somebody else, some "other," who is deliberately, assiduously and with malice aforethought subverting the Good, the True and the Beautiful: Subversives. Commies. Socialists. Ragheads. Secular humanists. Blacks. Fags. Feminazis. The list may change with the political needs of the moment, but they always seem to need a scapegoat to hate and fear.

It is not clear to me how many GOP officeholders believe this reactionary and paranoid claptrap. I would bet that most do not. But they cynically feed the worst instincts of their fearful and angry low-information political base with a nod and a wink. During the disgraceful circus of the "birther" issue, Republican politicians subtly stoked the fires of paranoia by being suggestively equivocal - "I take the president at his word" - while never unambiguously slapping down the myth. John Huntsman was the first major GOP figure forthrightly to refute the birther calumny - albeit after release of the birth certificate.

I do not mean to place too much emphasis on racial animus in the GOP. While it surely exists, it is also a fact that Republicans think that no Democratic president could conceivably be legitimate. Republicans also regarded Bill Clinton as somehow, in some manner, twice fraudulently elected (well do I remember the elaborate conspiracy theories that Republicans traded among themselves). Had it been Hillary Clinton, rather than Barack Obama, who had been elected in 2008, I am certain we would now be hearing, in lieu of the birther myths, conspiracy theories about Vince Foster's alleged murder.

The reader may think that I am attributing Svengali-like powers to GOP operatives able to manipulate a zombie base to do their bidding. It is more complicated than that. Historical circumstances produced the raw material: the deindustrialization and financialization of America since about 1970 has spawned an increasingly downscale white middle class - without job security (or even without jobs), with pensions and health benefits evaporating and with their principal asset deflating in the collapse of the housing bubble. Their fears are not imaginary; their standard of living is shrinking.

What do the Democrats offer these people? Essentially nothing. Democratic Leadership Council-style "centrist" Democrats were among the biggest promoters of disastrous trade deals in the 1990s that outsourced jobs abroad: NAFTA, World Trade Organization, permanent most-favored-nation status for China. At the same time, the identity politics/lifestyle wing of the Democratic Party was seen as a too illegal immigrant-friendly by downscaled and outsourced whites.[3]

While Democrats temporized, or even dismissed the fears of the white working class as racist or nativist, Republicans went to work. To be sure, the business wing of the Republican Party consists of the most energetic outsourcers, wage cutters and hirers of sub-minimum wage immigrant labor to be found anywhere on the globe. But the faux-populist wing of the party, knowing the mental compartmentalization that occurs in most low-information voters, played on the fears of that same white working class to focus their anger on scapegoats that do no damage to corporations' bottom lines: instead of raising the minimum wage, let's build a wall on the Southern border (then hire a defense contractor to incompetently manage it). Instead of predatory bankers, it's evil Muslims. Or evil gays. Or evil abortionists.

How do they manage to do this? Because Democrats ceded the field. Above all, they do not understand language. Their initiatives are posed in impenetrable policy-speak: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The what? - can anyone even remember it? No wonder the pejorative "Obamacare" won out. Contrast that with the Republicans' Patriot Act. You're a patriot, aren't you? Does anyone at the GED level have a clue what a Stimulus Bill is supposed to be? Why didn't the White House call it the Jobs Bill and keep pounding on that theme?

You know that Social Security and Medicare are in jeopardy when even Democrats refer to them as entitlements. "Entitlement" has a negative sound in colloquial English: somebody who is "entitled" selfishly claims something he doesn't really deserve. Why not call them "earned benefits," which is what they are because we all contribute payroll taxes to fund them? That would never occur to the Democrats. Republicans don't make that mistake; they are relentlessly on message: it is never the "estate tax," it is the "death tax." Heaven forbid that the Walton family should give up one penny of its $86-billion fortune. All of that lucre is necessary to ensure that unions be kept out of Wal-Mart, that women employees not be promoted and that politicians be kept on a short leash.

It was not always thus. It would have been hard to find an uneducated farmer during the depression of the 1890s who did not have a very accurate idea about exactly which economic interests were shafting him. An unemployed worker in a breadline in 1932 would have felt little gratitude to the Rockefellers or the Mellons. But that is not the case in the present economic crisis. After a riot of unbridled greed such as the world has not seen since the conquistadors' looting expeditions and after an unprecedented broad and rapid transfer of wealth upward by Wall Street and its corporate satellites, where is the popular anger directed, at least as depicted in the media? At "Washington spending" - which has increased primarily to provide unemployment compensation, food stamps and Medicaid to those economically damaged by the previous decade's corporate saturnalia. Or the popular rage is harmlessly diverted against pseudo-issues: death panels, birtherism, gay marriage, abortion, and so on, none of which stands to dent the corporate bottom line in the slightest.

Thus far, I have concentrated on Republican tactics, rather than Republican beliefs, but the tactics themselves are important indicators of an absolutist, authoritarian mindset that is increasingly hostile to the democratic values of reason, compromise and conciliation. Rather, this mindset seeks polarizing division (Karl Rove has been very explicit that this is his principal campaign strategy), conflict and the crushing of opposition.

As for what they really believe, the Republican Party of 2011 believes in three principal tenets I have laid out below. The rest of their platform one may safely dismiss as window dressing:

1. The GOP cares solely and exclusively about its rich contributors. The party has built a whole catechism on the protection and further enrichment of America's plutocracy. Their caterwauling about deficit and debt is so much eyewash to con the public. Whatever else President Obama has accomplished (and many of his purported accomplishments are highly suspect), his $4-trillion deficit reduction package did perform the useful service of smoking out Republican hypocrisy. The GOP refused, because it could not abide so much as a one-tenth of one percent increase on the tax rates of the Walton family or the Koch brothers, much less a repeal of the carried interest rule that permits billionaire hedge fund managers to pay income tax at a lower effective rate than cops or nurses. Republicans finally settled on a deal that had far less deficit reduction - and even less spending reduction! - than Obama's offer, because of their iron resolution to protect at all costs our society's overclass.

Republicans have attempted to camouflage their amorous solicitude for billionaires with a fog of misleading rhetoric. John Boehner is fond of saying, "we won't raise anyone's taxes," as if the take-home pay of an Olive Garden waitress were inextricably bound up with whether Warren Buffett pays his capital gains as ordinary income or at a lower rate. Another chestnut is that millionaires and billionaires are "job creators." US corporations have just had their most profitable quarters in history; Apple, for one, is sitting on $76 billion in cash, more than the GDP of most countries. So, where are the jobs?

Another smokescreen is the "small business" meme, since standing up for Mom's and Pop's corner store is politically more attractive than to be seen shilling for a megacorporation. Raising taxes on the wealthy will kill small business' ability to hire; that is the GOP dirge every time Bernie Sanders or some Democrat offers an amendment to increase taxes on incomes above $1 million. But the number of small businesses that have a net annual income over a million dollars is de minimis, if not by definition impossible (as they would no longer be small businesses). And as data from the Center for Economic and Policy Research have shown, small businesses account for only 7.2 percent of total US employment, a significantly smaller share of total employment than in most Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

Likewise, Republicans have assiduously spread the myth that Americans are conspicuously overtaxed. But compared to other OECD countries, the effective rates of US taxation are among the lowest. In particular, they point to the top corporate income rate of 35 percent as being confiscatory Bolshevism. But again, the effective rate is much lower. Did GE pay 35 percent on 2010 profits of $14 billion? No, it paid zero.

When pressed, Republicans make up misleading statistics to "prove" that the America's fiscal burden is being borne by the rich and the rest of us are just freeloaders who don't appreciate that fact. "Half of Americans don't pay taxes" is a perennial meme. But what they leave out is that that statement refers to federal income taxes. There are millions of people who don't pay income taxes, but do contribute payroll taxes - among the most regressive forms of taxation. But according to GOP fiscal theology, payroll taxes don't count. Somehow, they have convinced themselves that since payroll taxes go into trust funds, they're not real taxes. Likewise, state and local sales taxes apparently don't count, although their effect on a poor person buying necessities like foodstuffs is far more regressive than on a millionaire.

All of these half truths and outright lies have seeped into popular culture via the corporate-owned business press. Just listen to CNBC for a few hours and you will hear most of them in one form or another. More important politically, Republicans' myths about taxation have been internalized by millions of economically downscale "values voters," who may have been attracted to the GOP for other reasons (which I will explain later), but who now accept this misinformation as dogma.

And when misinformation isn't enough to sustain popular support for the GOP's agenda, concealment is needed. One fairly innocuous provision in the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill requires public companies to make a more transparent disclosure of CEO compensation, including bonuses. Note that it would not limit the compensation, only require full disclosure. Republicans are hell-bent on repealing this provision. Of course; it would not serve Wall Street interests if the public took an unhealthy interest in the disparity of their own incomes as against that of a bank CEO. As Spencer Bachus, the Republican chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, says, "In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks."

2. They worship at the altar of Mars. While the me-too Democrats have set a horrible example of keeping up with the Joneses with respect to waging wars, they can never match GOP stalwarts such as John McCain or Lindsey Graham in their sheer, libidinous enthusiasm for invading other countries. McCain wanted to mix it up with Russia - a nuclear-armed state - during the latter's conflict with Georgia in 2008 (remember? - "we are all Georgians now," a slogan that did not, fortunately, catch on), while Graham has been persistently agitating for attacks on Iran and intervention in Syria. And these are not fringe elements of the party; they are the leading "defense experts," who always get tapped for the Sunday talk shows. About a month before Republicans began holding a gun to the head of the credit markets to get trillions of dollars of cuts, these same Republicans passed a defense appropriations bill that increased spending by $17 billion over the prior year's defense appropriation. To borrow Chris Hedges' formulation, war is the force that gives meaning to their lives.

A cynic might conclude that this militaristic enthusiasm is no more complicated than the fact that Pentagon contractors spread a lot of bribery money around Capitol Hill. That is true, but there is more to it than that. It is not necessarily even the fact that members of Congress feel they are protecting constituents' jobs. The wildly uneven concentration of defense contracts and military bases nationally means that some areas, like Washington, DC, and San Diego, are heavily dependent on Department of Defense (DOD) spending. But there are many more areas of the country whose net balance is negative: the citizenry pays more in taxes to support the Pentagon than it receives back in local contracts.

And the economic justification for Pentagon spending is even more fallacious when one considers that the $700 billion annual DOD budget creates comparatively few jobs. The days of Rosie the Riveter are long gone; most weapons projects now require very little touch labor. Instead, a disproportionate share is siphoned off into high-cost research and development (from which the civilian economy benefits little); exorbitant management expenditures, overhead and out-and-out padding; and, of course, the money that flows back into the coffers of political campaigns. A million dollars appropriated for highway construction would create two to three times as many jobs as a million dollars appropriated for Pentagon weapons procurement, so the jobs argument is ultimately specious.

Take away the cash nexus and there still remains a psychological predisposition toward war and militarism on the part of the GOP. This undoubtedly arises from a neurotic need to demonstrate toughness and dovetails perfectly with the belligerent tough-guy pose one constantly hears on right-wing talk radio. Militarism springs from the same psychological deficit that requires an endless series of enemies, both foreign and domestic.

The results of the last decade of unbridled militarism and the Democrats' cowardly refusal to reverse it[4], have been disastrous both strategically and fiscally. It has made the United States less prosperous, less secure and less free. Unfortunately, the militarism and the promiscuous intervention it gives rise to are only likely to abate when the Treasury is exhausted, just as it happened to the Dutch Republic and the British Empire.

3. Give me that old time religion. Pandering to fundamentalism is a full-time vocation in the GOP. Beginning in the 1970s, religious cranks ceased simply to be a minor public nuisance in this country and grew into the major element of the Republican rank and file. Pat Robertson's strong showing in the 1988 Iowa Caucus signaled the gradual merger of politics and religion in the party. The results are all around us: if the American people poll more like Iranians or Nigerians than Europeans or Canadians on questions of evolution versus creationism, scriptural inerrancy, the existence of angels and demons, and so forth, that result is due to the rise of the religious right, its insertion into the public sphere by the Republican Party and the consequent normalizing of formerly reactionary or quaint beliefs. Also around us is a prevailing anti-intellectualism and hostility to science; it is this group that defines "low-information voter" - or, perhaps, "misinformation voter."

The Constitution to the contrary notwithstanding, there is now a de facto religious test for the presidency: major candidates are encouraged (or coerced) to "share their feelings" about their "faith" in a revelatory speech; or, some televangelist like Rick Warren dragoons the candidates (as he did with Obama and McCain in 2008) to debate the finer points of Christology, with Warren himself, of course, as the arbiter. Politicized religion is also the sheet anchor of the culture wars. But how did the whole toxic stew of GOP beliefs - economic royalism, militarism and culture wars cum fundamentalism - come completely to displace an erstwhile civilized Eisenhower Republicanism?

It is my view that the rise of politicized religious fundamentalism (which is a subset of the decline of rational problem solving in America) may have been the key ingredient of the takeover of the Republican Party. For politicized religion provides a substrate of beliefs that rationalizes - at least in the minds of followers - all three of the GOP's main tenets.

Televangelists have long espoused the health-and-wealth/name-it-and-claim it gospel. If you are wealthy, it is a sign of God's favor. If not, too bad! But don't forget to tithe in any case. This rationale may explain why some economically downscale whites defend the prerogatives of billionaires.

The GOP's fascination with war is also connected with the fundamentalist mindset. The Old Testament abounds in tales of slaughter - God ordering the killing of the Midianite male infants and enslavement of the balance of the population, the divinely-inspired genocide of the Canaanites, the slaying of various miscreants with the jawbone of an ass - and since American religious fundamentalist seem to prefer the Old Testament to the New (particularly that portion of the New Testament known as the Sermon on the Mount), it is but a short step to approving war as a divinely inspired mission. This sort of thinking has led, inexorably, to such phenomena as Jerry Falwell once writing that God is Pro-War.

It is the apocalyptic frame of reference of fundamentalists, their belief in an imminent Armageddon, that psychologically conditions them to steer this country into conflict, not only on foreign fields (some evangelicals thought Saddam was the Antichrist and therefore a suitable target for cruise missiles), but also in the realm of domestic political controversy. It is hardly surprising that the most adamant proponent of the view that there was no debt ceiling problem was Michele Bachmann, the darling of the fundamentalist right. What does it matter, anyway, if the country defaults? - we shall presently abide in the bosom of the Lord.

Some liberal writers have opined that the different socio-economic perspectives separating the "business" wing of the GOP and the religious right make it an unstable coalition that could crack. I am not so sure. There is no fundamental disagreement on which direction the two factions want to take the country, merely how far in that direction they want to take it. The plutocrats would drag us back to the Gilded Age, the theocrats to the Salem witch trials. In any case, those consummate plutocrats, the Koch brothers, are pumping large sums of money into Michele Bachman's presidential campaign, so one ought not make too much of a potential plutocrat-theocrat split.

Thus, the modern GOP; it hardly seems conceivable that a Republican could have written the following:

        "Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid." (That was President Eisenhower, writing to his brother Edgar in 1954.)

It is this broad and ever-widening gulf between the traditional Republicanism of an Eisenhower and the quasi-totalitarian cult of a Michele Bachmann that impelled my departure from Capitol Hill. It is not in my pragmatic nature to make a heroic gesture of self-immolation, or to make lurid revelations of personal martyrdom in the manner of David Brock. And I will leave a more detailed dissection of failed Republican economic policies to my fellow apostate Bruce Bartlett.

I left because I was appalled at the headlong rush of Republicans, like Gadarene swine, to embrace policies that are deeply damaging to this country's future; and contemptuous of the feckless, craven incompetence of Democrats in their half-hearted attempts to stop them. And, in truth, I left as an act of rational self-interest. Having gutted private-sector pensions and health benefits as a result of their embrace of outsourcing, union busting and "shareholder value," the GOP now thinks it is only fair that public-sector workers give up their pensions and benefits, too. Hence the intensification of the GOP's decades-long campaign of scorn against government workers. Under the circumstances, it is simply safer to be a current retiree rather than a prospective one.

If you think Paul Ryan and his Ayn Rand-worshipping colleagues aren't after your Social Security and Medicare, I am here to disabuse you of your naiveté.[5] They will move heaven and earth to force through tax cuts that will so starve the government of revenue that they will be "forced" to make "hard choices" - and that doesn't mean repealing those very same tax cuts, it means cutting the benefits for which you worked.

During the week that this piece was written, the debt ceiling fiasco reached its conclusion. The economy was already weak, but the GOP's disgraceful game of chicken roiled the markets even further. Foreigners could hardly believe it: Americans' own crazy political actions were destabilizing the safe-haven status of the dollar. Accordingly, during that same week, over one trillion dollars worth of assets evaporated on financial markets. Russia and China have stepped up their advocating that the dollar be replaced as the global reserve currency - a move as consequential and disastrous for US interests as any that can be imagined.

If Republicans have perfected a new form of politics that is successful electorally at the same time that it unleashes major policy disasters, it means twilight both for the democratic process and America's status as the world's leading power.


[1] I am not exaggerating for effect. A law passed in 2010 by the Arizona legislature mandating arrest and incarceration of suspected illegal aliens was actually drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative business front group that drafts "model" legislation on behalf of its corporate sponsors. The draft legislation in question was written for the private prison lobby, which sensed a growth opportunity in imprisoning more people.

[2] I am not a supporter of Obama and object to a number of his foreign and domestic policies. But when he took office amid the greatest financial collapse in 80 years, I wanted him to succeed, so that the country I served did not fail. But already in 2009, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, declared that his greatest legislative priority was - jobs for Americans? Rescuing the financial system? Solving the housing collapse? - no, none of those things. His top priority was to ensure that Obama should be a one-term president. Evidently Senator McConnell hates Obama more than he loves his country. Note that the mainstream media have lately been hailing McConnell as "the adult in the room," presumably because he is less visibly unstable than the Tea Party freshmen

[3] This is not a venue for immigrant bashing. It remains a fact that outsourcing jobs overseas, while insourcing sub-minimum wage immigrant labor, will exert downward pressure on US wages. The consequence will be popular anger, and failure to address that anger will result in a downward wage spiral and a breech of the social compact, not to mention a rise in nativism and other reactionary impulses. It does no good to claim that these economic consequences are an inevitable result of globalization; Germany has somehow managed to maintain a high-wage economy and a vigorous industrial base.

[4] The cowardice is not merely political. During the past ten years, I have observed that Democrats are actually growing afraid of Republicans. In a quirky and flawed, but insightful, little book, "Democracy and Populism: Fear and Hatred," John Lukacs concludes that the left fears, the right hates.

[5] The GOP cult of Ayn Rand is both revealing and mystifying. On the one hand, Rand's tough guy, every-man-for-himself posturing is a natural fit because it puts a philosophical gloss on the latent sociopathy so prevalent among the hard right. On the other, Rand exclaimed at every opportunity that she was a militant atheist who felt nothing but contempt for Christianity. Apparently, the ignorance of most fundamentalist "values voters" means that GOP candidates who enthuse over Rand at the same time they thump their Bibles never have to explain this stark contradiction. And I imagine a Democratic officeholder would have a harder time explaining why he named his offspring "Marx" than a GOP incumbent would in rationalizing naming his kid "Rand."
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Mike Lofgren

Mike Lofgren retired on June 17 after 28 years as a Congressional staffer. He served 16 years as a professional staff member on the Republican side of both the House and Senate Budget Committees.

Can I be the first to call bullsh*t (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37357780)

Since when does less choice mean lower prices and better selection
Just saying is all!

Nope sorry. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37358054)

You cannot be first.

Do you really think us that stupid? (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357870)

Wireless competition is fierce: prices have declined steadily, output is expanding, technological innovation is occurring at an extraordinary pace, and new providers with innovative business models have successfully entered and expanded.

What the kind of upside down, crazy world do they live in? Whose cellular bill has ever declined but by act of the customer switching to a more restrictive plane. What businesses have "successfully" entered and expanded in the market? I keep seeing fewer and fewer choices. We're now down to Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T and they're trying to take T-Mobile off the list. When Verizon gobbles up Sprint and AT&T am I to believe that's competitive and a benefit to consumers also?

Jobs? (2)

kelarius (947816) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357882)

House Republicans have sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Attorney General Eric Holder asking for an explanation of 'what went into the decision to challenge the merger and whether the agencies considered the impact on jobs and economic growth.

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't it AT&T's MO to merge then pretty much nuke the other company and fold it into their own? Wouldn't this eliminate tens of thousands of jobs?

Re:Jobs? (2)

Montezumaa (1674080) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358746)

You are correct on the jobs portion, but you forgot another reduction: Coverage. When Cingular purchased AT&T Mobility, Cingular cut off a lot of the towers/antennas that AT&T Mobility was operating. Only when Cingular has no other choice did it actually keep a "blue tower" or old AT&T Mobility tower operating. So, the idea that coverage will improve is horseshit. The current plan is the same as the old Cingular plan was.

AT&T might, might improve its coverage, to some degree, with the planned purchase of T-Mobile(I say purchase and not merger, as that is what this is). Regardless, the coverage will still suffer and current AT&T customers will still have the same, shitty UMTS/HSDPA coverage has it has had for years now. Many AT&T customers will be missing "3G" coverage, and will probably miss out on "4G" coverage, too.

We will never see any of this change, as long as AT&T stays in business. For some reason, AT&T has not learned from Verizon's success, as far as rolling out technology upgrades in such an expansive way, in such a short amount of time(well, relatively so). I mean, hell, Verizon has LTE coverage less then 30 miles from my home, and it is getting closer everyday. AT&T has yet to roll out UMTS/HSDPA anywhere near my home, and my girlfriend tells me that she doubts we will ever see it(as I have stated before, many times, she works in a network position with AT&T).

Nothing in the link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37357892)

Did anyone notice that in the link about House Republicans response there is nothing mentioned about Republicans?

Re:Nothing in the link (1)

spitzak (4019) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358044)

It appears the links are swapped. The first link [] has this text in it:

Separately on Friday, three Republican legislators asked the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission to furnish more information about their criteria for evaluating the T-Mobile deal.

The three legislators — Representatives Fred Upton of Michigan, Greg Walden of Oregon and Joe Barton of Texas — said that they were concerned about the impact that rejecting the deal would have on job creation in the country. All three are tied to the House Energy and Commerce committee, with Mr. Upton serving as chairman.

“It is clear that this is a complex transaction and it is important that government officials reserve judgment until all of the facts have come to light,” they wrote in a letter to the Justice Department and the F.C.C.

and my boot! (1)

nilbog (732352) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358042)

If the merger goes through and AT&T lowers their prices as a result, I will eat my hat.

Re:and my boot! (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358220)

I am pretty sure the prices will go down, for a very short while after the merger. It makes AT&T look good. Once the merger has been forgotten (read the very quarter), the price will be raised heavily.

Be ready to eat your hat, sir!

And we spent how much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37358386)

Busting up the old MaBell a few decades ago?

Just so we can do it again in another decade when theres nobody but at&t?

Fuck you AT&T. (1)

mrquagmire (2326560) | more than 3 years ago | (#37359292)

I am currently a T-mobile customer and have been happy with them for over 5 years. They have a great selection of plans and phones, good customer service, and their add-ons aren't ridiculously priced. If this merger somehow goes through, I guarantee I will switch to a different carrier on the day it's announced. Again, Fuck You.

Re:Fuck you AT&T. (1)

blargster (239820) | more than 3 years ago | (#37359750)

T-Mobile is hardly the victim here, nor AT&T the aggressor, it is T-Mobile's parent company that wants to get rid of them. Since AT&T is the most logical buyer, how can you blame them?

Go Team DoJ, Butt Fuck At&t (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37359756)

Here's what At&t realy has in their hooch pipe: , "arguing that the merger would denegreat consumers by decreasing competition and locking up spectrum. 'That means decreased output, lower quality service, more dropped calls,and higher prices to consumers than without the merger,'"

The higher prices is key.

Nuke At&t, kill the Board and X-Os and snipe the happless employees as they flee the burning "Wolfs Lair", i.e. Wolfsschanze.

Go Team DoJ! Go Go Go. Kill'm All.


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