Friday, April 22, 2005

Knee-jerking jerks

Today's Seattle Times carried an article in the business section about a proposed buyout of bankrupt Adelphia Communications, in which Adelphia's 5.3 million customers would be divided between Comcast and Time Warner, currently the nation's two largest companies. What caught my eye was this paragraph near the end of the piece:

Several public-interest groups said Tuesday that they'd oppose the deal because it furthers what they consider to be anti-competitive media consolidation.

Adelphia is BANKRUPT: its assets need to be sold to the highest bidder or bidders. Consolidation is going to occur, since Adelphia is going to go away. As to competition, for the most part, competition in the cable industry is nonexistent due to geographical monopolies granted by local governments. Does it really matter to the general public which corporation provides service to an area? Note that the pressure groups are not arguing on grounds of substandard service (something which I can relate, considering last week's woes with Comcast. They are arguing the tired "media concentration" meme without stopping to consider that it doesn't matter one whit in this case. Mindless opposition to anything relating to corporations is sadly typical of self-identified "public-interest groups", who invariably believe that the profit motive causes corporations to screw over their customers.

I'd like to see these groups push to deregulate the industry further, eliminating the government created geographic monopolies that shield the corporations they distrust from competition. It's not likely to happen, however, because the same mindset that opposes corporate profits also loves the nanny state and its byzantine bureaucratic rules. Opposing deregulation actually harms the consumers these groups are claiming to champion.

posted at 09:21 PM | permalink | Comments (1)

Oh, yeah, like the Mrs Grace L. Ferguson Storm Door and Cable TV Company is going to be able to make a bid for the remains of Adelphia.

And what's the practical difference even if they could? It's still the same bunch of channels.

posted by CGHill on April 23, 2005 07:40 AM

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Pulling a Sullivan

..."Sullivan", of course, being Andrew Sullivan, who did a full 180° spin (I was going to say pirouette, but that would be a little too much) on Bush when Bush announced his support for the detestable Family Marriage Amendment. Suddenly, Bush could do no right, and Sullivan had to, um, adjust a few of his positions to fit his new worldview. Sullivan's site started looking more like a slightly more coherent Eschaton (without comments).

This month's contestant is John Cole. For him, the trigger was the Terri Schiavo case. Cole has always been willing to criticize the GOP's excesses (he has had a post category entitled "Republican Stupidity" for quite some time), but his sudden hatred of Republicans has endeared him to a whole new set of commenters from Daily Kos, who rejoice in what they consider to be a "Rational Right-winger". Since April 1st, Balloon Juice has been wall-to-wall Republican bashing; in just the last week he has trained his sights on Delay, Frist, Sensenbrenner, Lugar, religious conservatives in general, Sean Hannity, and bloggers Hugh Hewitt, John Hinderaker, Bryan Preston and Misha. The only non-Republican bashing posts were a snipe at Robin Givhan and a post about GM's woes.

John has not really changed any of his views, other than allowing his religious apathy to veer towards antipathy, and (in his most recent post) a desire to have the government dictate to business what they are required to stock (pharmacies and "Morning After" Pills). He certainly has altered the tenor and focus of his posts, however, to reflect his new focus. I hope he snaps out of his funk, because I tend to agree with much of what he says, just not his tenor or his emphasis. He's even taken pains to bash Republicans over the Schiavo memo, while totally ignoring Howard Dean's identical politicization of the issue.

(As an odd aside, I moved Balloon Juice into my "All the Time" blogs when I dropped Andrew Sullivan out of that position. Is there a curse on my blogroll?)

posted at 08:32 PM | permalink | Comments (9)

I don't hate Republicans- I am one. I hate some of the excesses that have been exposed in the past few months.

And I don't hate religious people. I hate people who use their religious beliefs as a weapon, and I hate the way the GOP is cynically using people of faith as a weapon.

And I haven't changed any of my beliefs. I am just furious about the intervention in the Schiavo case, I think Tom Delay is an ethical cretin, I think Sensenbrenner's desire to criminalize 'obscenity' are absurd, as is his desire to create hideous new mandatory minimums in a war on drugs we are already losing is equally odious, and I think that allowing people who are already government licensed pharmacists in a heavily regulated industry to deny people medicine perscribed lawfully by their doctor is absurd.

That makes me hysterical??

posted by John Cole on April 19, 2005 09:10 PM

ANd this is not merely an issue of what they want to stock- I am not dictating that. They refuse to even pass on pharmaceutical referrals to other pharmacists.

If this were an over the counter drug, or say, condoms, I would have no problem if they refuse to sell them. But this is a heavy regulated drug.

posted by John Cole on April 19, 2005 09:14 PM

John, the Illinois state senator/pharmacist that was in that NYT interview clearly states that his pharmacy DOES NOT STOCK the morning-after pill, but Blagojevich's order will require him to dispense it. Now, I may misunderstand the whole thing, but that sounds to me like a requirement that Watson's Pharmacy will have to stock that medicine, in order to fill any prescriptions that need to be filled.

The law already requires pharmacies to refer customers to other pharmacies if they are unable to fill the prescription. I would fully support throwing in jail any pharmacist who failed to comply with the law. As to the "morally opposed" employees, I believe my comment (over at your blog) made it clear that I share your views; it's when discussing the views of the owners where our positions differ.

As to your beliefs, I stated you really hadn't changed them much (unlike Sullivan), but can you deny that your coverage of the two parties has been just a tad different over the past three weeks or so?

Again, I agree with your postition on the whole Schiavo case (as I noted in this post), but I don't see it as some definitive turning point. The busybody social conservatives (as opposed to the social conservatives who don't try to make everyone conform to their view of morality) are not acting any differently than they normally do; this time the GOP caved in to them, and they got one of their few successes at the federal level. Despite the rhetoric from the left, the religious right is not thrilled by the Bush administration's record on their pet issues.

posted by timekeeper on April 19, 2005 09:36 PM

And I don't hate religious people. I hate people who use their religious beliefs as a weapon

And everyone who stands up for their beliefs is using them as a "weapon," right? We all see what "weapons" we choose to see, I guess.

That makes me hysterical??

No, John, that wouldn't make you hysterical, IF that's all that was going on at your blog.

What make you hysterical is that a) it's what virtually every one of your posts is about since the Schiavo case, b) you attempt to stretch every remark from GOPpers who opposed Michael Schiavo like fresh mozzerella in an attempt to sound like the Next Crusade is gearing up, and c) you are flip-flopping like John Kerry on the Parallel Bars from one minute to the next on core issues like government intervention in people's lives, all so you can bash people of faith from both sides.

Look, I was always ambivalent about the Schiavo case, and the pharmacy case is only slightly more interesting to me, and there are certainly some horns to rattle on the GOP side about legitimate issues, but what I care about enough to write this is that what is usually the first blog on my morning list has been reduced to a painful display of bad logic and ad hoc philosophy, all because you want to pretend that religious people are out to "get" you and America.

Would that "too much religion" was the worst problem we faced...

posted by mac Buckets on April 19, 2005 09:40 PM

Blagovich's bill does not require people to stock certain medicines in their pharmacy. They require already in stock drugs to be dispensed, free of moral chicanery:

Others want to require pharmacies to fill any legal prescription for birth control, much like Governor Blagojevich's emergency rule in Illinois, which requires pharmacies that stock the morning-after pill to dispense it without delay.

I am not flip-flopping on issues- I am not requiring people what to stock in their damned pharmacies, but when they refuse to dispense what they have, refuse to refer a prescription that they do not want to fill, or in some of the extreme cases that have been mentioned, take the prescription, refuse to fill it, and then refuse to give bakc the prescription, I have an issue.

That they are doing it because of religious beliefs has nothing to do with it other than this is but a recent trend of moral 'activism' from theocratic front groups trying to stir shit up. I don;t care if a little puppet in their top drawer told them not to dispense the drugs- they are licensed pharmacists, required to dispense heavily regulated drugs that can not be obtained elsewhere but through pharmacies.

Personally, I hope RU-486 is made over the counter. It isn't an abortion, it doesn't have dangerous effects, and it will prevent more abortions and tedious debates about 'values.'

It doesn't bother me that people say 'so help me God' when sworn into office. It doesn't bother me that there are numerous religious holidays, such as Good Friday- I celebrate Easter and Christmas myself. It doesn't bother me that God is on our money, in our law, in our Declaration of INdependence, and on the ceiling of the Supreme Court. It doesn't bother me if we were to have a moment of silence in school that people could use for prayer. I think Barry Lynn and his ACLU folks tearing down nativity scenes and trying to erase every aspect of God from public life are nuts. Hell- I don't even really care if people want an ugly two ton stone with the ten Commandments engraved in it in their court house. There is some good advice in those Comandments, you know.

I don't have a problem with religion. I have a problem of people who want to dictate what is on television and cable because of their religion. I have trouble who want there to be more blue laws because they don't like sales of certain products on holy days. I have a problem with people running around claiming that because elected officials have a difference of opinion on judicial nominees, it means that people of faith are being 'oppressed.' I have a problem with people who claim that their religious beliefs require them to view and treat homosexuals like second class citizens. I have a problem with people deciding that their concept of life dictates that they should use the weight of the government to intervene in people's end-of-life decisions. And I have a problem with people denying legally prescribed medicine to people because it gives them the vapors.

The problem isn't religion. It is people using religion as a weapon, and that is what many in the GOP leadership are doing- using relgious beliefs as a source of political power and cynical divisiveness.

posted by John Cole on April 19, 2005 10:31 PM

And, horror of horrors, religious bigot that I am, I STILL support Bush's faith-based initiatives.

posted by John Cole on April 19, 2005 10:33 PM

It boggles my mind how easily people can ignore history. Religion has been shown time and time and time again to be easily used to stir up violence, wars, etc. You conservative apoligists have no idea that you're playing with fire. You really think that the Republican Party majorly pandering to its extremist religious base is no big deal? Just politics as usual I guess.

Re this: "the religious right is not thrilled by the Bush administration's record on their pet issues"

Yes, and they never will be. The nutjobs John is speaking about are not run of the mill religious folk. They are a minority, but a very loud, angry and active one, and one that has shown it can control a major party in the face of universally unpopular sentiment. They are radicals who want a theocracy or a war to get them there.

They didn't get their way just this one time. They have forced Bush into renominating judges who were already turned away by a perfectly legal process. They have multiple Congressman giving muted threats to our judiciary in our nation's capital. They convinced (hopefully coerced) our top Senator to say that political disagreements over judges are an "attack on people of faith". They want to completely change the rules of government not because there are activist judges, but because the judges aren't activist enough subscribing to their very narrow worldview.

No, sorry. This isn't politics as usual. And it is a tad scary.

posted by ketel on April 20, 2005 12:49 AM

RU-486 is not the morning after pill. No one reasonable has supported giving RU-486 over the counter.

The morning after pill (Plan B) was approved by the FDA for OTC use, but that approvial was withdrawn when the White House objected to lessining those restrictions on pharmacies. Somehow, there was no right-wing libertarian outcry over that statist intervention into the free-market rights of pharmacists. I wonder why.

posted by FC on April 20, 2005 05:00 AM

Nice site, and sadly, an accurate assessment of John Cole's recent crack-up.

But it has had what may the ameliorativ effect of drawing to Balloon Juice readers that have similarly deep misunderstandings of our society and the governmental processes, such as evidenced by a comment above earlier this day.


posted by Rick on April 20, 2005 09:46 AM

Work that headline

James J. Na at Guns and Butter Blog catches a whopper of a misleading headline in the Times of India, in reference to one of the front-runners to be the next pope (who has been selected but not revealed as I type this). One has to read the entire article to understand the truth of the situation, which is nowhere near as diabolic as suggested by the headline.

UPDATE: Cardinal Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict XVI. I imagine the Times editor responsible for the odious headline is disappointed, and the writer is probably not terribly happy either. The headline and the article were both rather slanted against the new pope, and spoke to an agenda that neither is likely to admit pushing.

posted at 09:23 AM | permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 18, 2005

Double Standards? Never!

Let's review now...

When a staffer for a brand-new Republican senator gins up a memo that suggests that the Terri Schiavo case is a winning issue for Republicans, the left explodes in fury, accusing the Republicans of inexcusable politicization of the issue (rightly, IMNSHO).

However, I expect to hear only crickets from the same left-wingers over Howard Dean's politicization of the issue.

"We're going to use Terri Schiavo later on," Dean said of the brain-damaged Floridian who died last month after her feeding tube was removed amid a swarm of political controversy.

Note that Howard Dean is not a flunkie of a freshman senator, he is the national leader of a major political party.

Dean, who has called congressional intervention in the Schiavo case "political grandstanding," singled out House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) for his leading role in the matter.

"This is going to be an issue in 2006, and it's going to be an issue in 2008," Dean told about 200 people at a gay rights group's breakfast in West Hollywood, "because we're going to have an ad with a picture of Tom DeLay saying, 'Do you want this guy to decide whether you die or not? Or is that going to be up to your loved ones?' "

Congressional involvement in the issue is grandstanding, but an ad campaign such as the one Dean outlined is not? Howie, your reality check just bounced; your sanity account is severely overdrawn.

The Republican activists who pushed this case were wrong, but Howard Dean is not only wrong, but idiotic, because he's had time to assess the effect of the memo affair on public opinion, and he still couldn't restrain himself. The Democrats have just ceded any moral high ground they might have had over the Republicans on this issue.

Those who thought that Terry McAuliffe was bad for the Democrats are in for a long couple of years, because with Captain Dean at the helm, the Democratic Party is going to be obsessed with harpooning the white whale, to the exclusion of everything else, like winning back seats in the senate and House of Representatives. Even if they take Delay down, his seat is so solidly Republican that it's unlikely a Dem could win it. Bumping off Delay would actually be a net plus to the Republicans, since it would deprive the Democrats of their favorite whipping boy. Rick Santorum is a lot more charming and sympathetic than Delay; they simply will not be able to get the same mileage with him as they have with Delay.

(Link courtesy of Best of the Web.)

(Edited 8:45 AM/19 April 2005 to clarify.)

posted at 10:40 PM | permalink | Comments (1)

You really can't see the difference here? Please. Actually doing the deed is very very different than speaking about the deed done. One is using a personal tragedy for one's own personal gain. The other is using that crass f#@$ up for one's own personal gain. They are two completely separate things. You just want the whole thing to go away because your guys exposed themselves as the a-holes they are, not that most politicians aren't a-holes, but still.

posted by ketel on April 20, 2005 12:49 PM

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Thing that make me go hmmmph

If you are one of those flaming anuses who must listen to your bass-heavy, Two-Nikes-in-a-Kenmore music at a deafening level, I am sure that there is a special ring in hell reserved for you, wherein you will be forced to listen to Lawrence Welk and the 101 Strings for eternity, at the same mindsplitting volume you inflicted your aural dreck upon the rest of us.

(This screed brought you by the idiot who drove down the street behind my house with his music—and I use the term loosely—blasting loud enough to cause all of the windows in the house to rattle in sync. I think it would have set the burglar alarm off if it had been armed.)

(Edited at 8:45AM/19 April 2005 for clarity.)

posted at 09:04 PM | permalink | Comments (1)

That's the nice thing about leaving the South Bay for La Jolla: I've only heard three loud stereos in three years....and one of them was mine when I was in a frack-them-all-mood-and-blasting-Ozzy....

TK, believe me: I feel your pain.

posted by Mad Mikey on April 18, 2005 04:50 PM

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