Trayvon Martin could have been . . . the demise of Stand Your Ground laws

At the White House Press Conference, President Barack Obama stunned the assembled press corps with his extended remarks about the Trayvon Martin case.

President Obama said that “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.” LINK:

But, the President did more than talk about race relations and the need for more sensitivity by state and local officials to racial issues. He also took aim at the cultural impact of Stand Your Ground laws which authorize the use of deadly force instead of retreating in the face of a perceived threat. He suggested that the laws should be changed.

How can the President do that at the federal level?


Adopt policies through the Department of Homeland Security which come as close as legally possible to mandate a change in such laws by states and local jurisdictions as a condition for receiving the billions in DHS funding granted each year.

With the recent departure of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, President Obama may have the opportunity to influence those policy changes. That would be through the appointment of New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly as the new DHS Secretary.

No doubt, Kelly’s appointment would be controversial because of the controversy about racial profiling by the NYPD. LINK:

However, if Kelly is willing to buy into a policy strategy that would lead to the elimination or diminution of Stand Your Ground laws, he is probably one of the leading lawmen in the nation who could get the bi-partisan support need in the U. S. Senate to get confirmed.

AT&T/T-MOBILE: should the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses be more visible, and support the merger?

Issue: Could the AT&T/T-Mobile merger actually help minorities?

Lead: One online journal made that argument in September (quote):

Some of the more prevalent arguments against the merger are that it would significantly reduce competition, increase unemployment, raise consumer costs and harm low-income families and minorities the most. However, these arguments are largely unsubstantiated.

Many amateur economists insist the merger would lead to unfair domination of the market. But in its competition report earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission noted that 89.6 percent of Americans have five or more wireless competitors to choose from in their area. The merger is unlikely to diminish competition.

Some argue the merger would significantly reduce competition to two major carriers, resulting in higher consumer costs. Further, they contend higher costs would disproportionately affect Latinos and other minorities. But, once again, the market shows a different picture — one of robust competition.

Source: Justin Velez-Hagan,  “AT&T/T-Mobile Merger will Help Latinos and Economy — If Courts Allow,” at POLITIC365.COM

Further: Should not the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses be on board with the merger?

Also: Are minority leaders MIA on this? What’s wrong-nothing to shout about?

Maxine Waters, have not heard from you on this!

Al Sharpton, have not heard from you on this!

Congressional Black Caucus, have not heard from you on this!

Congressional Hispanic Caucus, have not heard from you on this!

Tavis Smiley, have not heard from you on this!

Cornell West, have not heard from you on this!

NAACP, have not heard from you on this!

Talk up and be counted!

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REGULATION: AT&T withdraws FCC approval application for $39 billion T-Mobile merger deal; regulatory impact; political implications



Our Lead today comes from a Blog. And, we’re commenting on the regulatory front.

AT&T has withdrawn its application to merge with T-Mobile. That’s big news in the regulatory world. But, it also may have political implications for the Administration of President Barack Obama.

Blog Quote

Following the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to send the $39-billion proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile USA to an administrative hearing on Tuesday, AT&T has withdrawn its official application to combine its spectrum with T-Mobile’s.

Source: Stacey Higginbotham, “AT&T backs off the T-Mobile fight,” GIGAOM.COM

Financial Consequences

Higginbotham notes further in her post: “[t]he company also said that it will take a $4-billion charge against earnings should the deal fall through.”

The deal could be dead. As noted by Seth Weintraub (quote):

But, AT&T has taken a $4B pre-tax charge in recognition that the deal isn’t likely to be going through and they are likely going to have to pay T-Mobile for the effort as part of the original merger agreement.  That means the deal is pretty much over, at least in the eyes of AT&T’s own accountants.

Source:  Seth Weintraub, “AT&T-T-Mobile Merger looks to be over, companies pursuing a tactical workout,” 9TO5MAC.COM

Justice Department Suit Continues

The U. S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust suit to block the merger.

As Higginbotham has written further in her post (quote):

AT&T still plans to fight the antitrust case that the Department of Justice has filed and has not said it plans to walk away from its deal just yet, but it clearly has realized that the forces arrayed against this combination will be hard to quell. As I noted on Tuesday, unless AT&T or T-Mobile pull the plug between now and then, the next big date should be the Department of Justice lawsuit hearing in February.

Regulatory Impact

The administrative phase of this matter before the FCC has concluded. It could be reopened later.

The immediate beneficiary of the withdrawal of the merger approval application apparently is Verizon. Kevin Fitchard argues (quote):

Of all the possible outcomes in the AT&T-Mo fallout, the FCC approving the merger with a laundry list of new regulations would have been the worst-case scenario for Verizon. It appears to have dodged a bullet.

The FCC could have required AT&T to divest spectrum and networks in numerous markets; FCC staffers had competitive concerns in 99 of the top 100 markets. It could have imposed deadlines for deployments and stricter requirements on the population and geographic areas those networks covered. It might even have dictated commercial terms on how it used that spectrum, spelling out the terms of data roaming agreements and maybe even imposing restrictions on what AT&T could charge for data service. All of these would have been anathema to Verizon.

Why? Because whatever restrictions and stipulations AT&T is forced to abide by if this merger goes through would return to haunt Verizon down the road. Verizon may be sitting pretty on a big fat LTE network today, but it readily admits it must go back to the market for more spectrum at some point.

Source:  Kevin Fitchard, “Why Verizon needs AT&T-Mo to just disappear,” GIGAOM.COM

Possible Political Implications

MJB’s take is that continuance of the Justice Department’s antitrust suit could have some political implications for the Obama Administration.

If AT&T prevails in the litigation, or if the suit is settled, AT&T can reboot the process and file another merger approval application with the FCC. A settlement of the suit probably would require the approval of Eric Holder, the Attorney General, who is one of the top Obama Administration cabinet officials and political appointees who is close to the President.

It can be expected that the handling of the litigation, particularly if the Justice Department loses, or the resolution of the case by a settlement, will make Holder a political target for criticism by the GOP and close scrutiny by Congressional committees in the GOP controlled House of Representatives.

That would not be good news for the President in an election year.


On the Sidebar, under MJB News VIDEOS, we have uploaded a C-SPAN VIDEO from The Communicators segment, hosted by Peter Slen, on 09-18-2011, in which a panel discussed the implications of the AT&T/Mo merger.

The VIDEO is on C-SPAN’s YouTube Channel, and is described as follows (quote);

On The Communicators, Vonya McCann, senior vice president for government affairs at Sprint Nextel, and Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America, discuss the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile. The guests will discuss the merger’s impact on the wireless industry, on jobs in the U.S. and on prices consumers pay for wireless service