Federal Trade Commission
In the aftermath of the FTC's settlement with Google yesterday, too many reporters fell for the line that Google used some fancy combination of executive charm and lobbying prowess to beat the federal government at its own game. You'd easily believe, from reading what has become the conventional wisdom, that Google managed to avoid any sanctions by meeting with John Kerry or paying off think tanks.
On February 17, three members of Congress sent a concerned letter to Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. They were spurred by a report in The Wall Street Journal detailing how Google had deceptively tracked users of Apple’s Safari web browser “without their consent or knowledge”—and in violation of a Safari setting designed to protect against such tracking.
Eight years ago, officials at Orlando International Airport first began testing the millimeter-wave body scanners that are currently at the center of a national uproar. The designers of the scanners at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory offered U.S. officials a choice: naked machines or blob machines? The same researchers had developed both technologies, and both were equally effective at identifying contraband.
Louis D. Brandeis: A Life By Melvin I. Urofsky (Pantheon, 955 pp., $40) I. In 1916, Herbert Croly, the founder and editor of The New Republic, wrote to Willard Straight, the owner of the magazine, about the Supreme Court nomination of Louis Brandeis. Croly enclosed a draft editorial called “The Motive of Class Consciousness,” and also a chart prepared by a lawyer in Brandeis’s office showing the overlapping financial interests, social and business connections, and directorships of fifty-two prominent Bostonians who had signed a petition opposing Brandeis’s nomination.
Daniel Gross has a good column in Slate about how Wall Street always claims regulation will ruin it, and it always wrong: My general rule of thumb is that we should generally ignore what Wall Street has to say about financial regulation. Investment banks lack the common sense to know what's good for them. The financial sector opposed all the regulations that were good for it in the 1930s—i.e. the advent of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the creation of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
In the Financial Times today, S. Ward Casscells, a former Assistant Secretary of Defense in George W. Bush’s sterling administration, and pollster John Zogby have an op-ed calling for Congress to start over and draft a bipartisan health care bill. “It is possible a Republican leader could yet emerge and resolve the healthcare impasse,” they intone. And oh yes, it is possible, too, that aliens could land is Oshkosh and take over city hall. But let that silliness pass. I am more concerned about the continuing B.S.
Companies have been making misleading claims about the eco-friendliness of their products for almost as long as people have cared about the environment. Back in 2007, the marketing firm TerraChoice went into an unnamed big-box retailer and evaluated the green-advertising claims of more than 1,000 products. Only one actually lived up to its promises.
The pharmaceutical industry is now threatening to jettison the reform bill if Democrats decide to roll back the legislation's 12-year exclusivity period for biologic drugs, as Obama is pushing for in the final negotiations. The Wall Street Journal quotes a letter that PhRMA president Billy Tauzin sent out to the trade groups members: “Mr. Waxman is pushing hard, with the support of the President, to drop our 12-year FOB period down,” wrote Tauzin, referring to Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.