URLs du Jour — 2014-07-29

Various things of recent interest:

  • Is there anything more shallow than an Establishment Republican's devotion to the free market? Case in point is a recent column by New Hampshire's ex-Senator Judd Gregg in The Hill in defense of the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. His lead argument is a pathetic strawman: the "populist right" (in which he apparently lumps people like me) dislikes institutions like the Ex-Im because of our "suspicious nature". We are "conspiratorially-minded", and see such institutions as "conspiratorial" because (among other things) "they are identified with Harvard and other elite eastern institutions."

    We're just a bunch of paranoid loonies, basically. Thanks a lot, Judd.

  • If you read Judd's column and still think he makes a valid argument, might I suggest reading a rebuttal by Veronique de Rugy? She gives Judd credit for honestly recognizing the Ex-Im Bank's essential cronyism. But Judd excuses that by claiming the Bank is (arguably) profitable. Vero rebuts:

    Alas, Gregg thinks that Ex-Im cronyism is okay because it “returns a few billion dollars a year to U.S. taxpayers.” Hm . . . so the unfair treatment of some companies for the benefit of others, along with the market distortions the Bank creates, is just peachy as long as Uncle Sam gets richer on paper? And it’s only Ex-Im advocates like the Chamber of Commerce that claim Ex-Im really is a boon to taxpayers — the Congressional Budget Office projects the bank will yield billions in costs over the next decade.

  • Alas, New Hampshire's sole semi-sane member of Congress, Senator Kelly Ayotte, has gone over to the establishment side on this issue, putting herself in the corporate sack with not only Judd, but also Jeanne Shaheen, Carol Shea-Porter, and Ann Kuster.

    In (probably) a futile gesture, I've written to Senator Ayotte to ask her to reconsider that.

  • It's not just your Federal-level politicos in bed with corporate behemoths. As this Wired article points out, your local officials are pretty OK with restricting broadband competition in your community, as long as they get their kickbacks and other goodies. Good advice:

    Politically, open access won’t really happen until local governments realize they’ve been thinking too small and too short-term; they’ve become used to thinking of rights-of-way and franchising concessions as revenue streams. But they’re missing the bigger opportunity: promoting broadband as a basic ingredient of economic growth — and growing their tax base.

  • This made me curious about how good old Rollinsford, NH, home to Pun Salad, was viewing its relationship with Comcast, its designated provider. So I found this recent set of recommendations by a local committee. Sample goal:

    Renegotiate the current franchise agreement with Comcast with terms that provide the town with additional advantages, e.g., the delivery of business class internet service to all town buildings.

    I.e. Comcast will pass the charges to its local customers and funnel a part of that cash over to City Hall for high-tech government goodies. Sigh. No sign of thinking outside the box there.

  • By the way, you may have heard that Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett are making a movie about "Rathergate". They are playing (respectively) Dan Rather and Mary Mapes. And the movie is said to be based on Mapes' self-serving reality-challenged memoir of the scandal. (Which most agree was cooked up as a dirty trick to defeat George W. Bush in the 2004 election.)

    If your jaw hasn't hit the floor yet—or even if it has—you might want to check out Megan McArdle's long post on why that's a very bad idea.

    It would be a pity if Hollywood made the same blind mistakes that destroyed several distinguished careers in New York. I know that the film production company for this project is called Mythology Entertainment. That said, the journalists who deserve to have their stories told are the ones who dug into the provenance of these memos and exposed them for what they actually were. If you are going to make a movie, it should honor their fine work, not the errors that made it necessary.

    Maybe there will be a subplot showing Alger Hiss typing the Rathergate memos on his Woodstock typewriter/word processor.

  • You can follow up Megan's masterful take on Rathergate with her hubby's (Peter Suderman) equally masterful analysis of why the D.C. Circuit court ruling in Halbig v. Burwell was correct and deserves to stand. Long but worthwhile, and the conclusion:
    The administration's defenders argue that the law is difficult to interpret, the statutory language is ambiguous, and the legal particulars are difficult to understand. None of this is true.

    The clearest and most obvious interpretation, and the one that best fits the history, evidence, and context, is that the language of the law means what it unambiguously says, that the legislative incentive for states to comply works broadly like many legislative incentives that preceded it, and that even if members of Congress who didn't read the bill did not understand every detail of the legislatory [sic] they voted for, the wonks who helped draft and conceptualize the law did and said so—and have since reversed themselves because their initial understanding is no longer convenient.

    McArdle and Suderman: that's one impressive family.

Last Modified 2014-08-05 4:10 PM EDT