A Happy New Year From The Kosher Contingent In The Sausage Factory

Tonight, the Jewish month of Tishrei will begin. Tishrei ushers in a season of numerous Jewish holidays, starting with the ones everybody has heard of (Rosh Hashannah) and concluding with the ones people are convinced we are making up to get out of work (Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah). Unless you live in Israel, or it comes out as one of those years when the holidays overlap with the weekends, it tends to make for a very, very compressed month on the secular side. As a result, I expect to post a heck of a lot less than usual this month.

I just want to wish regular readers a happy New Year and trust that those of other religious faiths will forgive the hubris of those Jewish people — including me — who believe that (a) God is judging the entire world (including you guys) this Tuesday and Wed.; and, (b) the entire world hinges on our showing up in Synagogue on time to put in a good word for everyone.

And, btw, a happy Eid ul-Fitr to those celebrating that this new moon as well.

Stay tuned . . . .

Waxman Gets It Right On USF Reform –Use Subsidies To Open Networks.

Although it doesn’t have a chance of passing this Congress, particularly with the utter gridlock over the bail out, but I gotta give a shout out to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) for his targeted approach to solving the roaming problem in wireless. The proposed bill, H.R. 7000, says that any wireless provider that takes Universal Service Fund (USF) money needs to provide roaming to all other carriers “at just and reasonable rates, consistent with Sections 201 and 202” of the Communications Act. It does not require tariffing or rate regulation. It refers disputes over whether the terms are reasonable or the technology technologically compatible to the FCC, to handle under its well developed wireline procedures.

An entity can opt out of the program at any time by saying it no longer wants high-cost USF subsidy. But if you take government money, you need to provide roaming at just and reasonable rates.

And here is the kicker that makes it effective. The obligation to provide roaming applies to the entity accepting the USF, and any affiliates. In other words, if you have a rural subsidiary of one of the major carriers, then that carrier has to enter roaming agreements for its entire network. So if AT&T or Verizon are getting subsidies for “rural affiliate co.,” taking the money would require them to do roaming agreements on reasonable rates throughout their systems nationally. Don’t like it? Either stop taking public money or sell the rural carrier off to someone else who will do reasonable roaming.

I expect critics to say that this will mean wireless rural carriers will go under and the only thing to do is give wireless carriers money with no strings attached. I am dubious myself. Yes, the larger carriers may value their control over roaming to divest rural carriers. But there are plenty of mid-size carriers or small carriers willing to absorb these companies in exchange for federal subsidies who won’t mind making roaming agreements. Nor am I so convinced that the major carriers will actually decide they’d rather forgo the considerable subsidies they get now simply to preserve their control over roaming. Besides, if excluding parties from commercially reasonable roaming agreements is such an important element of the business model of major carriers, we have a bigger problem that needs to be more broadly addressed.

For too long, we’ve succumbed to the twin arguments that we must subsidize business to get policy goals, but we cannot actually demand anything in return because that would scare away the shy little beasties we are trying to coax, cajole and outright bribe into good behavior. I think it’s time to test that theory a bit. Although I’m doubtful the Waxman bill goes anywhere in the current Congress, I can hope that when Congress reconvenes in 2009 it will be reintroduced and given serious consideration.

Or instead, perhaps carriers will see the writing on the wall and try to solve this problem at the FCC before Congress reconvenes. Either way, its a good bill that nudges us closer to a more pro-competitive roaming policy.

Stay tuned . . . .

Run the banks?

On some other blogs I read (obsessively, lately), I’m starting to see people calling for a run on the banks. Go down and take out $700.00. Or or $70. Or $7,000. Whatever you can afford. That’s what they’re saying, not me. The idea is that even though nobody in the country likes this bailout, congress is going to vote for it. Since they won’t listen to our calls, faxes and letters, send a message that they cannot ignore.

Frankly, it doesn’t sound like a bad idea to me. Sure, it’s like burning down your own house to make a point, but it’s better than just being robbed at gunpoint with no protest at all.

No Deal, Charles

I agree that we are on the precipice of a disaster. I would like us to act to prevent it. I do not insist on assigning blame or even being fair in how we act, as there will be time for that later. The only thing that is required of how we act is that it solves the problem.

No one has explained to me how taking the bad loans off the books of banks actually solves the problem. What has been explained to me by the officials and the politicians is that there is far more money at risk than that tied up in these loans. The money has been promised to average Joes, governments, and wild speculators, based on the idea that other average Joes, governments, and wild speculators will pay even more for these incomprehensible instruments in the future. At the original bottom of this pyramid are the at-risk loans. Yes, I agree that there is a crisis of confidence in the market, as the President put it. But I fail to see how now the politicians now suddenly understand these instruments, and that the way to keep them from collapsing is to take the loans off the books of the banks.

Are they saying that they intend for average Joes, governments, and wild speculators to keep shoveling ever-increasing amounts of money into the derivative market based on these loans? Ponzi schemes do collapse when triggered by a failure of confidence, but a child can see that even with no failure of confidence, they can only be sustained as long as there are increasing amounts of investment at the bottom. Eventually, the world runs out of money.

Now is the time to drop a note or leave a message for your representatives and let them know how you feel. Their contact info is online. Don’t forget to tell them that you’re in their district/state.

JAPO (Jewish American Prince/Princesses for Obama) Promises To Get Designer Boots On The Ground For Campaign.

Alright already! So you’re a fellow landsman who is getting all faklempt because your grandparents think that someone named “Barack” is a Moslem even though you keep pointing out to them that Israel had a Prime Minister named Barak and that the name also comes from the story of Deborah in the Book of Judges? And you have some free time over Columbus Day weekend? Mazel tov! Have I got a deal for you . . .

You need to join the Great Schlep. No, I’m not talking about taking the subway from Park Slope to Midtown! The Great Schlep is all about getting all the young Obama peshers to talk the Hilary altercockers by having them visit their grandparents in Florida (and elsewhere! You think you should forget your grandmother in Cleveland just because she didn’t move to Miami with the rest of her Haddasah chapter? Shame on you!) to schmooze about Obama and how for a guy with a goyishe kop, he’s really a mensch who isn’t going to sell out Israel or turn your condo over to the schvartzes for reparations for “stuff I shouldn’t even feel guilty about because we were in a schtetle in Odessa during slavery and believe me it was no picnic and besides your mother did all that marching back in the sixties so why is it my fault I’m asking.”

Will it really work? Nu, could it hurt? So the worst thing is you’ll see your grandparents, who mentioned just last week that you never call or write and why do they have to go to something called “flashr” or “flickr” or something to see your picture when they haven’t seen your face or heard your voice since your cousin Tiffany’s bat mitzvah. It’ll get you to visit Bocca when it isn’t that meshuganah spring break or whatever where you do all that stuff I don’t want to hear about or I would die of shame.

So go already.

Stay tuned . . . .

I support the Bernie Sanders Plan

I’ve been doing a fair amount of handwringing over the meltdown on this-ahere blog lately, but now let me offer something positive. I support, 100 %, the plan put forth by Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont. Sanders is asking for citizen co-signers. I signed, you should too.

As for the crappy plans before Congress now, I hate all of them, including Dodd’s. If they go through, I’m not sure I’ll ever file taxes again. If Bush thinks it’s so all-fired important to make Paulson a monarch, then why has he not gone on television to explain why democracy must end now? It’s all baloney. I’m with Bernie on this one.

Cuddle up baby; cuddle up tight

Over on the Great Orange Satan, sane and smart America-loving people have been providing terrifying and more terrifying and still more terrifying analyses of where we are and how we got here (thanks in no small part to that lying, power-lusting senile tantrum-throwing baby John McCain and the truly monstrous Cheney/Bush junta). It seems to me that the United States of America may be in more danger of falling apart than at any point since 1864. Let me provide a second link to that last-listed item, by Devilstower, with the sublime title Three Times is Enemy Action. Go read it, my friends, and tremble for your country.

Uber neutrino-class wetmechanic Bremser said to me yesterday in private correspondence, (apropos of this poetic flight),

Odd, that’s the second day in a row that Jefferson Airplane was quoted
to me in the context of this meltdown; the first time the lyrics were:

In loyalty to their kind
They cannot tolerate our minds.
In loyalty to our kind
We cannot tolerate their obstruction.

You can imagine how we got around to remembering that lyric.

Today it’s a it’s a song by the Stones that I cannot shake.

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