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"Muggers crying foul "on the AT&T-Bell South Merger

Like a mugger who cries foul when his victim manages to wriggle free from their well-planned ambush and pummeling, net neutrality proponents are now crying foul that Chairman Martin is excercising his legal authority to engage Commissioner McDowell to vote to break the 2-2 impasse and vote on either approving or disapproving the AT&T-Bell South merger. 

Can you believe the unmitigated gall of net neutrality proponents playing the "victim" when they were really the mugger here? I guess we should not be surprised then when these same folks impugn the integrity and ethics of public servants who have assiduously followed the legal, procedural, and political processes. Any fair-minded person should be disturbed at the "ends justify the means" tactics of many net neutrality proponents in this proceeding. Â Ã‚ 

Let's review the facts.

  • The DOJ and 19 states have already approved this merger.
  • There was no significant opposition in this Congress by either party to approving this merger.
  • The incoming leaders of the new Democratic-controlled Congress do not oppose this merger. (Ask them.) Â Ã‚ 
  • The FCC Chairman circulated a draft order several weeks in advance of the FCC 180 day unofficial deadline to deal with merger approvals.
  • The Chairman has scheduled and postponed a public vote on this merger three times, October 12th, October 13th, and November 3rd in deference to dissenting commissioners who requested more time to consider the transaction.
  • The companies have volutarily agreed to an un-precedented number of conditions that address many of the public interest concerns of merger opponents. (Conditions by the way that the DOJ believed were unnecessary.) 
  • The FCC General Counsel has the legal authority to make a determination that it is in the public interest to have a recused party be un-recused to vote in order to break a deadlock and deliver a definitive yes or no decision to a proposed transaction.
  • There is ample legal precedent that Federal law trumps State law so there is not a legal or ethical problem for Commissioner McDowell to follow Federal advice on Federal law to rule on a Federal matter.  
  • The dissenting commissioners can reach a deal before Commissioner McDowell may choose to vote.
  • Commissioner McDowell has the freedom to abstain, vote to approve or vote to disapprove.  Â Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ 

Any fair-minded person, who believes in the rule of law, respects following longstanding bipartisan processes, values political consultation, and expects parties to resolve their differences in a civil fashion, should be offended by those who resort to personnally attacking the integrity and ethics of those who are just doing what they were appointed and confirmed by the Senate to do: make the tough decisions after following the law and process.  

What is really going on here is that net neutrality proponents and other comercial interests are engaged in a good old-fashioned mugging. This isn't about the "public interest," this is about wanting something that the other has and being willing to do whatever it takes to try and take it from them.

  • Like bandits, they see a tactical advantage of isolating one company from the rest of the industry and then ambushing them in the most vulnerable part of their tortuous journey, where the bandits have the most unfair advantage to extort concessions and the companies have the least maneuvering room to resist them.

Everyone should watch to ensure that this merger follows the law, procedure and political comity. If it does, as it certainly has to this point, let the process work to provide a definitive yes or no answer in a reasonable time frame.