aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, April 20, 2007
XM & Sirus: a merger that fosters competition
I hadn’t thought it through, but James Surowiecki has convinced me:
The National Association of Broadcasters, which represents commercial radio stations, has lobbied hard against the deal, arguing that XM and Sirius compete only with each other. But the very fact that broadcasters are fighting the merger demonstrates that they view Sirius and XM as a threat. Similarly, for fifteen years AM/FM stations have done everything they could to cripple satellite radio, lobbying the F.C.C. to stop its roll-out in the nineteen-nineties and persistently trying to limit the types of programming XM and Sirius can carry. Just last month, a bill was introduced in Congress-for the third time in as many years-that would bar satellite stations from providing local traffic and weather.
Broadcasters understand that a merger between Sirius and XM would help extend satellite radio’s reach, making it a more formidable competitor. Many consumers have hesitated to subscribe to satellite because they didn’t know which company would survive. And desirable content is split between the companies: if you want major-league baseball and Bob Edwards, you need XM, but if you want N.F.L. games and Howard Stern, you need Sirius. Allowing Sirius and XM to merge would eliminate this problem in one stroke. And that would significantly increase the competitive pressure on traditional radio stations, perhaps forcing them to abandon their cookie-cutter model. Paradoxically, by reducing choice you could stimulate more diversity. Sometimes, it seems, you can have fewer competitors but more competition.
Judges battle over lesbian adoption, child suffers for it
I would have posted about this story last week, but I misread details. Elizabeth Hadaway, the lesbian guardian of a now 7 year old girl, tried to adopt her in rural Wilkinson Country, GA. The judge denied the adoption citing the lesbian relationship.
Hadaway left her partner of seven years to move to Macon and file for custody again. There it was granted, but the Wilkinson judge refuses to recognize the new order. The child remains in foster care, the “worst possible scenario” for her according to court documents.
Sunstein on Ginsburg on abortion
In the long run, the most important part of the Supreme Court’s ruling on “partial-birth” abortions may not be Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s opinion for the majority. It might well be Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent, which attempts, for the first time in the court’s history, to justify the right to abortion squarely in terms of women’s equality rather than privacy. [...]
In 1985, Justice Ginsburg, then a federal appeals court judge, argued in the North Carolina Law Review that the Supreme Court might have done better to emphasize “a woman’s autonomous charge of her full life’s course.” Citing a series of decisions on sex equality, she contended that Roe vs. Wade was “weakened Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ by the opinion’s concentration on a medically approved autonomy idea, to the exclusion of a constitutionally based sex-equality perspective.” That perspective received sporadic attention in judicial opinions, but the attention was not sustained, and the privacy rationale has continued to dominate constitutional law.
In this week’s case, Ginsburg, now the only woman on the court, attempted to reconceive the foundations of the abortion right, basing it on principles of equality. Borrowing directly from her 1985 argument, she said that legal challenges to restrictions on abortion procedures “do not seek to vindicate some generalized notion of privacy; rather, they center on a woman’s autonomy to determine her life’s course, and thus to enjoy equal citizenship stature.”
For Ginsburg, this alternative understanding of the right to choose has concrete implications. It means that any restrictions on the abortion right must, at a minimum, protect a woman’s health. It also means that no such restriction can be justified on the paternalistic ground that women might turn out to regret their choices or are too fragile to receive all relevant information about medical possibilities. In her view, such paternalistic arguments run afoul of the guarantee of sex equality because they reflect “ancient notions about women’s place in the family and under the Constitution - ideas that have long since been discredited.” [...]
Justice Ginsburg has now sketched an improved understanding of the foundations of the right to choose - and it is important to remember that today’s dissenting opinion often becomes tomorrow’s majority. The equality argument has the firm support of four members of the court (Justice Ginsburg and Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter and Stephen G. Breyer). It will be interesting to see if, in the fullness of time, Justice Ginsburg’s view attracts a decisive fifth.
I’m convinced it will. And sooner than we might think.
Tom Price’s petty shenanigans
You’ll recall that Republican Rep. Tom Price of Roswell, GA threw a hissy fit on the House floor last month when Mississippi Democrat Gene Taylor questioned his decency for offering an amendment to the Gulf Coast Hurricane Housing Recovery Act of 2007 that would have created a substantial hardship for Katrina victims in southern Mississippi.
Price’s amendment failed and in the video of that exchange you’ll see that Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) successfully undid much of the retaliatory action Price aimed at Taylor.
In the WaPo today we learn that Price - once “a mannered backbencher” but now “a Republican guerrilla warrior, a near-constant presence on the House floor, gumming up the works with parliamentary objections, verbal volleys and partisan maneuvering” - apparently got back at Frank:
On March 23, as the House was preparing to close down for the weekend, Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) went to the floor to ask for consent to correct a clerical error in a House bill. Republican and Democratic staff had already signed off on it, but under congressional rules, such changes need unanimous consent, something routinely granted. Price objected.
“It is an innocent question. And the clerical error was?” Price demanded.
“I don’t know what the clerical error is. I wasn’t particularly concerned. We thought it was routine,” an exasperated Frank said on the floor.
“Would the gentleman be willing to withdraw the unanimous consent request?” Price persisted.
Whatever the error was in the bill, it went uncorrected.