January 23, 2010

Obama hypocrisy alert on campaign finance

Let's see, the presidential candidate who opted out of public financing, and speaking of finances, took in more money from Big Finance/Wall Street than did John McCain, now has the gall to protest, bleat and whine about the Supreme Court's Citizens' United decision?

Of course, Obama's populism looks like it has lasted less than a week, anyway.

Basically, it's arguable that Obama can be charged with the sin of of arrogance for either believing activist progressive voters have forgotten about his deal with the devil Goldman Sachs 18 months ago, or else for believing that such voters feel they're "stuck" with him.

Well, we're NOT!

Vote Green, if nothing else!

Old media + big banks = stupidity squared

Looks like old Dean-o Singleton won't have much ownership anymore in Media News, though Bank of America is going to still let him run the company. (Thereby showing that the stupidity of big banks and that of big Old Media folks is probably about equal in the past five years.)

From the AP:

AP Business Writer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Another newspaper publisher desperate to dump debt has filed for bankruptcy protection in hopes of recovering from an advertising meltdown that has obliterated much of the print media’s revenue.

Friday’s late filing by Affiliated Media Inc., the holding company of MediaNews Group, had been expected. The owner of 54 U.S. daily newspapers said Jan. 15 that it would seek to reorganize its finances in bankruptcy court.

MediaNews, based in Denver, says its newspapers, which include The Denver Post and the San Jose Mercury News, and 8,700 employees won’t be affected during the bankruptcy proceedings. The company also owns four radio stations in Texas and a television station in Alaska.

Privately held Affiliated Media worked with its major lenders and shareholders during the past year to hammer out a plan aimed at shortening the company’s stay in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware. Affiliated hopes to emerge from bankruptcy protection within two months.

The plan calls for Affiliated’s debt to fall to $179 million from $930 million, according documents filed late Friday and early Saturday.

In exchange for this $751 million concession, a group of lenders led by Bank of America will become the company’s majority owners with 89 percent of the common stock, according to a disclosure statement filed Saturday. The remaining 11 percent goes to MediaNews’ management team, which is led by William Dean Singleton, who is also chairman of The Associated Press. The MediaNews executives will receive warrants that eventually could boost their combined stakes to 20 percent.

Heading into the bankruptcy filing, Singleton held a roughly 30 percent stake in Affiliated.

Richard Scudder, who co-founded MediaNews with Singleton in 1985, will relinquish his interests in the company to the lenders. Another major newspaper publisher, Hearst Corp., also will surrender a 30 percent stake it acquired in Affiliated’s newspapers outside the San Francisco Bay area as part of a complex $317 million deal in 2006.

Singleton will continue to run MediaNews, signaling the lenders remain confident in him despite the company’s recent struggles.

The decision probably stems from Singleton’s reputation as a hard-nosed businessman who has never shied away from cutting costs, said Alan Mutter, a former newspaper editor who blogs on the media business.

"Who do we know who can go in and run the hell out of a newspaper and make a buck?" he said. "The only answer is William Dean Singleton."

MediaNews spokesman Seth Faison declined to comment late Friday.

"By aggressively facing the challenges of the newspaper business, we will continue to deliver high-quality journalism and will prepare our newspapers for a promising future," Singleton said in a statement Friday.

Affiliated’s annual revenue has fallen by $270 million, or 20 percent, during the past two fiscal years, according to court documents.

To cushion the financial blow, Singleton has reduced Affiliated’s expenses by $385 million, or 31 percent, since the end of 2006, according to court documents.

Affiliated still lost $582 million as revenue fell 10 percent to $1.06 billion in its last fiscal year ending June 30, the documents show. That came on top of a $406 million loss in the previous fiscal year. The losses stemmed from accounting charges taken to reflect the crumbling value of its newspapers.

Despite Affiliated’s troubles, Singleton says all but one of the company’s newspapers are profitable. He hasn’t identified which one is losing money.

But Singleton couldn’t figure out a way to cope with all the debt that MediaNews took on to expand into new markets. Like other publishers, Singleton borrowed heavily before the Internet and recent recession began to devour the newspaper’s main source of income — advertising.

Affiliated is bracing for more tight times ahead. In a disclosure statement, the company discusses possible savings from farming out some production, newsroom and administrative jobs and imposing permanent wage cuts at some newspapers beginning this year.

The reorganization plan calls for Singleton to receive a $634,000 salary and an annual bonus of up to $500,000 as Affiliated’s chief executive. He will also continue to be paid $360,000 annually under a separate agreement with The Denver Post Corp., according to court documents.

Top 10 crazy Pat Robertson moments

Pass on this link!

January 22, 2010

Citizens United and climate change

If Congressional Democrats don't realize how much toughter the SCOTUS decision made it to pass health care in the future, unless they have political cojones, what about climate change? Don't you think eXXXonMobil is just waiting to restart its deniers' campaign, with more money than ever allowed before being directed straight to campaign ads?

Scott Brown, the GOP and the Dow's drop

Thought for the day: If the Dow is down 550 points in the last three days, isn't this all the fault of Scott Brown's election in Massachusetts? Why aren't Dems pushing this point?

Mencken, American stupidity, SCOTUS and Wall Street

Well, H.L. Mencken's famous mot juste comes to mind again, courtesy of the Gallup Poll. In light of the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, 57 percent of Americans think campaign money is free speech — but a majority want it regulated more.

Old man Bush backs Kay over Perry!

Ahh, the Texas GOP. Gotta love it.

George H.W. Bush, and Barbara, are officially backing Kay Bailey Hutchison for governor over Rick Perry. Kay has lined up other "names" with Texas connection, like Cheney and Jim Baker, but this is the biggest.

Will it be enough? Only if her ads get better than her lame-o ones on the TTC and she picks up the pace.

If Obama means it on bank reform, it's great

It's about time that President Obama listened more to Paul Volcker and less to Larry Summers and Tim Geithner, especially if it produces concrete results, at least from an administration point of view. (Congressional action, of course, is the sine qua non.)

And, if it took Scott Brown's election in Massachusetts to be the final push, then that's the silver lining of that cloud.

That said, while details of Obama's proposed bank regulation plan sound great, including attracting the initial interest of John McCain across the aisle, let's see how hard he fights for all of this.

January 21, 2010

Dems should have listened to a conserv on healthcare

Turns out Jim Pinkerton had better messaging ideas than either Obama or Congressional Democrats ever devised.

With Brown win, GOP gets cocky-stupid

Latest GOP stupidity - cutting Congresscritters' pay every year the govt runs a deficit. Fine - Dems, if they had cojones, would trump them by calling for this to be retroactive to the Bush years. (And the previous Bush, and Reagan, years.)

Sorry, no link yet; I heard it on Faux News.

Health care now a LOT harder to pass

Why? The Supreme Court decision, in Citizens United, allowing basically unfettered corporate contributions to political advertising.

If Congressional Democrats think they've been politically attacked in the past by folks like Big Pharma, they ain't seen nothing.

This is the latest in the incredibly bad fallout from corporations being found to be "persons" before the law.

The Washington Post has a good roundup of reactions.

The delusional Barney Frank

Does he really think Olympia Snowe will support a health care bill? Even Harry Reid has written her off.

Then, per Salon, he doesn't want to pass the Senate bill straight up, and try to get more later via reconciliation is that the public will think that's "tricky".

Barney, what we have here is a failure to communicate — a failure to communicate Senate GOP obstructionism. And, there's the rub.

Of course, Frank, especially on financial issues, isn't so liberal as he would like to appear to be, and hasn't been for more than a decade, when he tried to both have his cake and eat it on gutting Glass-Steagall via Gramm-Leach-Bliley.

Talking Points Memo says Frank has now softened his stance, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Obama - taking stock after one year

Let's go to Salon and watch The One pretty much get a spanking.

In line with my thought, all the way around. Let's give him a "gentleman's C," shall we?

Gene Lyons kindly says many liberals made Obama a blank slate. (Not me! That's why I didn't vote for him.)

Michael Lind notes, simply, that to understand Obama's first year, you have to be shown the money — the Wall Street money Obama got in 2008.

Michaelangelo Signorile bluntly notes that Obama has blown it with gays. Couldn't agree more, and expected that, based on his and Biden's statements on the campaign trail. (Most liberals, again, especially with Obama as a minority, saw him as a hopeful blank slate on this issue.)

Don't hold your breath over DADT ending before Obama's (first?) term does.

Former Planned Parenthood head Gloria Feldt is perhaps blunter yet, citing the baseline issue as Obama's failure to lead. Agreed and agreed.

Reading between his lines, Simon Rosenberg tells Obama to be more of a neoliberal. (Geez, and who said the New Democrat Network is "progressive"?)

January 20, 2010

Obama OK with health care reform 'lite"

Or, so it would seem in excerpts from an ABC interview.

Tiger is Mississippi Burning

A cellphone photo appears to confirm he is at a sexual addiction clinic in Hattiesburg, Miss.

Assessing blame in Massachusetts

Here’s some nice round numbers:

1. Barack Obama, 35 percent — For letting Max Baucus, Harry Reid, Joe Lieberman, et al, hijack health care in the Senate. For letting some of the same characters plus a drive for bipartisanship undercut the size of his economic stimulus bill and keep him from proposing a second one. He ranks as more blameworthy, because he was in the Senate for four years and knew better. (If he didn’t, he’s an even worse president than even I think.) Hearing GOP talking heads today, it’s clearer than ever that Obama should have been prepared to go confrontational earlier, and to explain their moves better. For a president who is supposedly so “articulate,” he hasn’t been at many key times.

2. Senate Democrats, 30 percent — From letting Lieberman in caucus, when on a number of issues, he’s been skittish, to not trying to reform filibuster rules at the start of session in 2009 as part of setting Senate rules of procedure, to dallying too long on health care and more, there’s plenty of blame here.

3. Martha Coakley, 25 percent. This is just a guesstimate, and could be on the low side, but I don’t want to let Obama or Senate Democrats off the hook so easily. That said, a mix of apparently lazy, lackadaisical, and clueless attitudes was inexcusable.

4. Massachusetts voters and the state Democratic party get the last 10 percent.

Kids online 8 hrs a day?

Well, I don't know if this study counted use of the Net, cell phones, etc., during school time, but adults -- at home, Net time at work for personal Web use, etc., are surely online just as much if you're my age or younger. So, this isn't quite such a shock, is it?

Stockman says tax the banks

Yes, that's David Stockman, the hard-core conservative and Reagan's first OMB director, saying exactly that. He says the Fed is largely to blame for this need:
The baleful reality is that the big banks, the freakish offspring of the Fed’s easy money, are dangerous institutions, deeply embedded in a bull market culture of entitlement and greed.

But, he also notes the Fed isn't likely to change, so this is the best answer.

Obama and no change

Steve Clemons, a sober political analyst and no hard-core progressive, is the latest to weigh in on Obama's failure to deliver on a promised agenda so far.

Unfair, perhaps, but Clemons notes that Obama in ome ways bears the hard bigotry of high expectations, or high needs, at least:
Barack Obama can’t be measured by the same stick as most American presidents. He must be better and do more.

And, in many ways, has failed to deliver:
Obama has failed to realize that the kind of “change” he promised during his campaign is actually the kind of change the nation needs. During the global financial crisis, he elected to ally himself with the architects of the previous financial order -- Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers and their followers. And these neoliberal practitioners delivered a financial recovery course that helped Wall Street and yet again sacrificed the interests of the American middle class, just as they did in the past.

Time to step up to the plate. The end game on health care, and the State of the Union address, will be key touchstones.

January 19, 2010

Massachusetts post-mortem in haiku

A clueless Coakley;
A non-outre Obama;
Sure Senate defeat.

Sure health care defeat?
With sellouts and idiocy,
We can only hope.

Boot Lieberman out
Of your caucus, Democrats,
Neuter the Blue Dogs.

Pass new health care,
Reconciliation's route
Trumps filibusters.

Pass real health care,
Without Big Pharm bribery
Or watering down.

Pass a jobs bill.
Reconciliation's route
Trumps filibusters.

Tax Wall Street harder
Than Obama's weak tea.
Add regulation.

And now you know why
I saw through him in '08
And had no surprise.

In 2-0-1-2?
I will vote Green again.
As I did before.

Let me tell you why.
A Barack won't change his spots.
Once he has shown them.

Obama has Perry's education knickers in a knot

Texas Gov. Rick Perry doesn't like President Barack Obama's idea of letting local school districts compete directly for federal education dollars.

More here on Obama's expansion of his Race to the Top program.

Torture and murder at Gitmo

Let's not pretend we're not doing it, because we are. Period. End of story. (Except for Obama's broken promise to close the place.)

Andrew Sullivan hits the highlights of Horton's story. Glenn Greenwald gives it some context, including how widespread this was. (And maybe still is? Bagram, anybody?)

Beyond Harry Reid - colorism and race

Shankar Vedantam has a great column in the NY Times today, touching on lightening creams, their popularity with U.S. Hispanics and natives of India and much more. Although Harry Reid's use of "Negro" may have been quaint, his observations were true.

Meanwhile, blacks and Hispanics in general still wait for jobs help.

January 18, 2010

Big Mac McGwire blows it with hometown media

Hey, Mac, were you — or even worse, your reported "handler," the unlamented Ari Fleischer — really dumb enough you thought you could totally control a presser with St. Louis sports media?

Message for Obama from MLK

While today's U.S. Army may be more racially balanced than it was in Vietnam, it's still largely an army of the poorer, those with less opportunities. And we still export war, and we still sell as many weapons as the rest of the world combined.

The Internet, politics and idealism

Ross Douthat has a great column on this issue. He notes that while progressives are steamed at Obama, including feeling that Organizing for America was a sham, that idealist conservatives, vis-a-vis the GOP, have even more idealism to get punctured.

But, the Religious Rightists have been facing this for decades, ever since Uncle Ronnie was a no-show on the culture wars, and they kept coming back for more.

That said, he's right on broader issues of the Internet and utopianism, I think. He's worth a read.

New indy media fail again

While not every independent media editorial content outlet may be owned by someone with the agenda of a Pete Peterson, nonetheless, the Brave New World of print/text/words media still has plenty of issues. If only more Jay Rosens, Clay Shirkys and Bora Zivkovics would take note.

Wall Street looks at legal challenge to bank tax

The possible claim? It would be unconstitutional because it's industry-specific. BS. This is not at one business, unlike the bill of attainder against Acorn. We had a windfall profits tax on oil for decades, for example.

E.J. Dionne - how Obama could really imitate Reagan

President Barack Obama needs to develop a narrative about what's wrong with conservatism the same way Ronnie did with liberalism, he says.

January 17, 2010

Comenting has been restored

I had forgotten that Haloscan had gone ot pay-only at the first of the year, until my sister asked me why people couldn't comment on my blog. Well, I've disabled Haloscan (I may, later, decide to pay for it after all) and Blogger comments are enabled.