Snark: to annoy or irritate

"Snark" has been in English language dictionaries since at least 1906, and Lewis Carroll used the word to describe a mythological animal in his poem, The Hunting of the Snark (1874). Most recently, the word has come to characterize snappish, sarcastic, or mean-spirited comments or actions directed at those who annoy or irritate us.

At first, this blog was just going be a place to gripe, but because it's more satisfying to take action than it is to merely complain, now most of the posts/reposts suggest ways to get involved in solving problems.


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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

AT&T's Man in the White House


Clicking here will add your name to this petition, which says:

AT&T's $39 billion dollar proposal to take over T-Mobile is bad news for consumers, and a perfect example of what our anti-trust laws are supposed to prevent.

But if President Obama's chief of staff Bill Daley has anything to do with it, you can bet AT&T will emerge the winner and cell phone users will lose big time.
When President Obama appointed Daley as his chief of staff, the Associated Press described the position as "one of the most important and influential jobs in American government as an adviser and gatekeeper to Obama."1
So it's alarming that Daley, who has been called "AT&T's man in the White House," might be allowed to use that influence in favor of his former employer.2
It's the largest proposed merger in years — and the biggest potential anti-trust case of the Obama administration. Make no mistake. AT&T taking over T-Mobile would be a disaster for all mobile phone users — not just T-Mobile customers. It would lead to higher prices and stifle choice and innovation in the marketplace.
But AT&T couldn't be better positioned for success. In addition to being the top corporate contributor to Congress, the company boasts an intimate and longstanding relationship with Bill Daley.
Daley is a former of president of SBC, the company that bought AT&T and took over its name. The trade publication Telephony wrote when Daley was hired that SBC had "lousy relationships with many state regulators and little Democratic support in Congress" and that Daley was "expected to solve both problems."3 Or as a reporter who covered the industry said at the time, he was hired to "grease the skids with regulators and politicians."4 This is hardly what you'd want on the resume of a government official who will weigh in on the deal.
If that's not enough, Daley is known as a "dear friend" of current AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson who served with him as COO at SBC during Daley's tenure as president.5 And finally, Daley was also previously a top executive at JP Morgan, the bailed out bank that is lending AT&T the $20 billion it needs to complete the merger.6
In fact, owing to his history with JP Morgan, Daley was asked to recuse himself from the selection process for the new head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He has already said he will refrain from working on that issue7 and he should do the same here.
Whom the president supports — consumers or AT&T — will make or break this deal which must first be reviewed by Obama's Department of Justice and then approved by his FCC. And as Obama's chief of staff, Daley can wield extraordinary influence in both processes.
AT&T, which bitterly opposed net neutrality8 and succeeded in convincing the FCC to refrain from banning discrimination on the wireless web, would have even more control over the wireless Internet should the merger go through. The company has a long history of blocking competing services — like Skype, Google Voice and Slingbox. And has in the past simply crippled mobile phones that can do more than what the company wants to allow its customers to do on the wireless Web.9
President Obama has a history of caving to the major telecom companies — supporting retroactive immunity for telecom companies who illegally spied on Americans, invoking state secrets to defend telecom companies against law suits on illegal practices, and failing to support strong net neutrality regulations at the FCC. It's up to us to raise our voices and stop the administration from rubberstamping this terrible deal.
We will fight this at the Department of Justice and at the FCC. But first we need to ensure that we are not defeated by "AT&T's man in the White House" before we have even begun to fight.
Thank you for working for a better world.
Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action
(2) AT&T's Man in the White House, Huffington Post, January 8, 2011

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