Monday, February 28, 2011

Remorseful Cheeseheads

It turns out that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is less popular than when he was elected just this past November - in fact, he'd be defeated today:
...if voters in the state could do it over today they'd support defeated Democratic nominee Tom Barrett over Scott Walker by a a 52-45 margin.
We try to warn voters about these crony capitalist Republicans, but sometimes Voldamort has to rise again before enough people take the threat seriously. Per the Center for American Progress:
The chart below compares the 10 safety-net programs slated for deep cuts with the cost of the tax breaks that should also be considered for reduction or elimination to bring the budget into balance. The column on the left is a list of safety-net programs that have already been targets of the House leadership’s budget ax. The column on the right is the cost to specified tax breaks:

Now get ready for the loss of another three-quarter of a million jobs...thanks to the GOP House of Representatives, from Talking Points Memo:

According to Moody's chief economist Mark Zandi -- who the Washington Post reports "has advised both political parties" -- Republican plans to slash government spending will impact the GDP in such a way that would eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs this year and the next.

From the report:

The House Republicans' proposal would reduce 2011 real GDP growth by 0.5% and 2012 growth by 0.2 percentage points This would mean some 400,000 fewer jobs created by the end of 2011 and 700,000 fewer jobs by the end of 2012.

Republicans were nonplussed by the findings.

Of course they were. They don't care, as long as that Koch Family cash keeps rolling in.

BTW, Americans support the right of public unions to collective bargaining by almost 2:1.

And Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) blocks journalists from following his tweets. Not quite at the level of a Middle East dictator blocking the Internet, just somewhere on the spectrum.

Who can't handle the truth?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hoo-ray for Ho-ho-hollywood

After having lived through Apocalypse Now losing to Kramer vs. Kramer and Raging Bull losing to Ordinary People so many years ago, I find it hard to get worked up over Oscar grievances. It's more a pleasant surprise when a movie like No Country for Old Men or The Hurt Locker or even The Departed win, although I'd say Unforgiven is more of a Best Picture-perfect choice than any of the others. While I expected the very solid The King's Speech to win the big prize, it was a little disconsoling to have the repeatedly brilliant David Fincher lose to first-timer Tom Hooper. Like Scorsese to Redford or Scorsese to Costner, but I've heard that older Academy members found The Social Network confusing and had one gush to me about The King's Speech, so there's the answer for anyone who felt aesthetically gypped on that score.

Those older Academy members were home watching with friends, not in the room, so you could tell that the air went out of the Kodak Theater when Fincher lost. Nothing against Hooper, who did a fine job and made a success out of unlikely material, but it was reassuring vs. hip, and hip lost. I have yet to view The Social Network a second time, enjoyed it plenty the first, just wondering if it is as deep as all that, but then again, what was? Maybe Winter's Bone? (Now that would have been an admirable upset.)

The best time I had at the movies last year, engaging for my mind and emotions, was Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop. I have yet to see Inside Job but hear it is the real deal, great stuff, loved the mention in the winner's speech about how not a single financial exec has gone to jail, so bravo. If only Banksy had been one of the ten Best Picture nominees. Alas.

As for the telecast, lackluster is the most I can summon. The hosts were non-entities, much better in their movies. The lack of any historical movie montage seems to have drained the evening of substance. The use of the final speech from The King's Speech under the Best Pic nominee montage seems like a calculated insult of all the others, a way to bolster the stature of the all-but-crowned winner in advance. Kirk Douglas was the ghost of celebrity future, god love him, Billy Crystal showed how it's supposed to be done and Bob Hope (in clips the Academy has run waaaay too many times) seemed like yet another way to show-up the current hosts, as if the producers had challenged each other to come up with better more far-reaching disses.

With so many of the winners having given speeches on other awards shows leading up to Oscar night, this round was anticlimactic. Christian Bale in particular was much more interesting at the Golden Globes. So I give Natalie Portman credit for (to my mind) the best speech of the night. It wasn't a rehash of her earlier speeches, it seemed completely sincere, she thanked back the first director to have hired her (Luc Besson) and gave proper tribute to her Black Swan director, Darren Aronofsky. Best presenters were Robert Downey Jr. with a surprisingly fun Jude Law.

So all in all it was a bummer Oscars. No great Best Song or even mediocre but by an electrifying star. No great long-time cult heroes winning big for the first time. Another post-cinema Oscars, with the main redeeming quality being the ten Best Picture nominee number, now in its second year, which at least lent legitimacy to pix like 127 Hours, The Kids Are Alright, Winter's Bone and even Inception which, since Christopher Nolan was stiffed out of a Best Director nomination, evidently might have been left off a five-title limited list.

Other than that, the fizz had drained out of the champagne long before the foregone conclusion was announced.

On to 2012.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Bailout Worked

GM posts its first profit since 2004, rewards workers with some smart profit sharing:
General Motors, which nearly collapsed from the weight of its debts two years ago before reorganizing in a government-sponsored bankruptcy, said Thursday that it earned $4.7 billion in 2010, the most in more than a decade.

It was the first profitable year since 2004 for G.M., which became publicly traded in November, ending a streak of losses totaling about $90 billion.

In addition, G.M. said 45,000 union workers would receive profit-sharing checks averaging $4,300, the most in the company’s history.

Hopefully they are running their business smarter all the way up and down the line.

Oh, and thank you, President Obama.

Nixon Wannabe

Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) is like Richard Nixon without the professionalism. He was prank called on Wednesday by someone claiming to be a Koch brother and stayed on the line revealing his planned deceptions and general toadying up to oil wealth for twenty minutes.

Twenty minutes. Think about that. Twenty minutes without the prank caller from The Beast making him suspicious, even when he said:
Koch: We’ll back you any way we can. What we were thinking about the crowd was, uh, was planting some troublemakers.

Walker: You know, well, the only problem with that —because we thought about that. The problem—the, my only gut reaction to that is right now the lawmakers I’ve talked to have just completely had it with them, the public is not really fond of this…[explains that planting troublemakers may not work.] My only fear would be if there’s a ruckus caused is that maybe the governor has to settle to solve all these problems…[something about '60s liberals.]…Let ‘em protest all they want…Sooner or later the media stops finding it interesting.

That means that this is the way the Koch brothers talk to the politicians they've purchased and furnished with ideological claptrap designed to take America back -- to the Robber Baron Era. It's exactly as bad as the worst you think. Because if they're considering planting agitators, you know that they've done it before.

Liar Walker's denial is hilarious: "I take phone calls all the time." What the hell does that even mean? I take phone calls from my corporate overlords all the time?

I'm just wondering which Koch brother has made his feelings known to toady Walker about this boneheaded screw up.

Like mobsters, they may have to stop talking on the phone. Do something with burners and codes, a la The Wire. After all, is this prosecutable, arguably taking an implied bribe:
Murphy: [Laughs] Well, I tell you what, Scott: Once you crush these bastards I’ll fly you out to Cali (California) and really show you a good time.

Walker: All right, that would be outstanding. Thanks for all the support in helping us move the cause forward, and we appreciate it, and we’re doing it the just and right thing for the right reasons and it’s all about getting our freedoms back.

He's revealed his strategy for all to see. He didn't campaign on ending collective bargaining, he's deliberately taking eyes off the banks that got the states into debt, and if his governorship doesn't crumble to the point of legislative failure (i.e. pressure on Republican legislators who don't want to be recalled or voted out next time) it will be a huge victory for him, the GOP crony con (including their conning of their easiest dupes, the tea partiers) and the Koch brothers.

It's rfall at Daily Kos who provides the most apt analysis of the call, and the most chilling:

What I haven't heard a lot about it the one thing which leapt out at me when listening to the tape after my years in corporate life.

Walker sounds exactly like someone who is in a one-on-one meeting with his boss.

He provides status on what he's doing and plans to do.

He provides rationalizations for his actions which he thinks his boss might not like.

He makes promises as to what he plans to do, things the boss wants done.

He expresses false bravado, trying to be a "good enforcer" to his boss.

In summary, he sounds like he's not talking to a Wisconsin citizen, or even a campaign contributor, but someone to whom he's clearly beholden for his job.

As I've heard it said about success in the corporate world: It's all about the reporting. Well, in some ways it's now like a bestselling political thriller.

True motives and relationships have been revealed.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Koch Head

Freshman Republican Gov. Scott Walker of the great state of Wisconsin is one of the guys (per Forbes) fueled by the Koch Brothers, doing their bidding in his now seemingly rash attempt to steal the rights of public unions to collectively bargain under the guise of reducing the deficit, in a Shock Doctrine of his own making:

People are starting to think Walker is an asshole, and he's just upping the ante with "dire" layoff threats. Sieg heil. But other GOP Governors are already distancing themselves from trying to eliminate the worker's universal right to collective bargaining. With US union membership down to maybe 11% of the national workforce. And there's definitely shock resistance engaged and in motion.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, Rahm had a most excellent night.

Libya Next

Gaddafi who is think used to be spelled Qaddafi is possibly trying to run to Venezuela, a rumor he refuted tonight in Tripoli with an umbrella:

Why should he be worried?
He's shooting directly into peaceful protests and losing his own government out from under him:

"What we are witnessing today is unimaginable. Warplanes and helicopters are indiscriminately bombing one area after another. There are many, many dead," Adel Mohamed Saleh said in a live broadcast on al Jazeera television. "Anyone who moves, even if they are in their car, they will hit you."


A group of army officers issued a statement urging fellow soldiers to "join the people" and help remove Gaddafi.

The justice minister resigned in protest at the "excessive use of violence" against protesters and diplomats at Libya's mission to the United Nations called on the Libyan army to help overthrow "the tyrant Muammar Gaddafi."


Two Libyan fighter jets landed in Malta, their pilots defecting after they said they had been ordered to bomb protesters, Maltese government officials said.


The demonstrations spread to Tripoli, on the Mediterranean Sea, after several cities in the east, including Benghazi, appeared to fall to the opposition, according to residents.

Human Rights Watch said at least 233 people had been killed in five days of violence, but opposition groups put the figure much higher.


A coalition of Libyan Muslim leaders told all Muslims it was their duty to rebel against the Libyan leadership because of its "bloody crimes against humanity."

The building where the General People's Congress, or parliament, meets in Tripoli was on fire on Monday, as was a police station in an eastern suburb, witnesses said.

Even the Libyan ambassador to the U.N. has pledged allegiance to the people, not the dictator and his family. Per Juan Cole, the cost is high:

I am watching Aljazeera Arabic, which is calling people in Tripoli on the telephone and asking them what is going on in the capital. The replies are poignant in their raw emotion, bordering on hysteria. The residents are alleging that the Qaddafi regime has scrambled fighter jets to strafe civilian crowds, has deployed heavy artillery against them, and has occupied the streets with armored vehicles and strategically-placed snipers. One man is shouting that “the gates of Hell have opened” in the capital and that “this is Halabja!” (where Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein ordered helicopter gunships to hit a Kurdish city with sarin gas, killing 5000 in 1988).

This is what pisses me off about Americans who don't bother to exercise their right to vote.

Sharpen those meathooks.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Technology of the Year

Per the NY Times, the sea change in personal computing is here:

The new tablets are also expected to give the iPad, which has had the market largely to itself, a run for its money. R.I.M., which makes BlackBerry phones, and H.P. have long relationships with corporate technology buyers. For its part, Apple is hoping to stay ahead of competitors with a new version of the iPad, which may be unveiled as soon as next month.

The company, which sold nearly 15 million iPads in the nine months after the release of the device, won’t say how many were bought by businesses. But during a conference call with investors and analysts in January, the company said more than 80 percent of Fortune 100 companies were using or testing the iPad, an increase from 65 percent three months earlier. Among those companies, said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s chief financial officer, are JPMorgan Chase, Sears Holdings and DuPont.

This trend came from the consumer side, in what I believe is a pure product of the effacement between work and home today. We need a device we can carry around to read all of our emails, not just the business and not just the home messages.

To a large extent the iPad’s entry into the business world was paved by the iPhone. When Apple first released the iPhone, it lacked capabilities to link up securely with corporate e-mail systems. But as executives tried the device, they often preferred it to their BlackBerrys and other smartphones, and soon began demanding support for them.

Apple gradually added capabilities, and the iPhone became standard issue in scores of large businesses.

Companies that waited two or three years to support the iPhone began adopting the iPad just weeks after its release.

So before long we'll all own a tablet and a lot of us will give up PCs. Per these ads, which were on the page with the NY Times article, there's a bunch of sub-$200 Android tablets by early makers that have GPS and cameras in them already. Whether they move the media as sweetly as the iOS, we'll see if they become an acceptable alternative. iTunes integration?

Most of all, I'm struck by the sea change in media collecting -- it doesn't make sense any more. Why own DVDs of all your favorite movies when you can steam them on Netflix for a negligible monthly fee (especially compared to cable or satellite). And the tablet is simply the created media consumption tool ever invented. It's all right there on a single convenient plastic slab.

Long live the new flesh.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wisconsin on the Nile

So Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) opened the door by comparing the current state of unrest in Wisconsin with the revolution in Egypt. Maybe some staffer handed him this hi-larious talking point, but doesn't he realize that the Governor of Wisocnsin, Scott Walker, is a Republican like him? Doesn't he realize this makes his own party the bad guys?

Former Wisconsin Rep. David Obey, a Democrat, picked up on Ryan's ill-thought out meme:
"All I know is that last week, when people were asking where Mubarak was -- whether he had gone to Sharm el-Sheikh or Paris -- I was saying he was ensconced in the governor's mansion in Madison," Obey said in a telephone interview with TPM.

"I think what Gov. Walker is trying to do amounts to political thuggery," Obey continued. "It is one thing to say that these are tough times -- everybody's got to cut back and public employees are going to have to take cuts like the rest of us ... but he's using it as an excuse to gut the ability of workers to organize and bargain collectively. In my view that's outrageous -- and what is especially outrageous is his demand that the legislature pass this in a week's time."

In fact, there would be not shortfall in that state's budget had not the new Republican Governor created it -- by the very economic policies he put into place during his first days in office:

One Wisconsin Now, the progressive watchdog group that has provided the closest monitoring of Walker’s budgetary gamesmanship, explains:

“Since his inauguration in early January, Walker has approved $140 million in new special-interest spending that includes:

“• $25 million for an economic development fund for job creation that still has $73 million due to a lack of job creation. Walker is creating a $25 million hole which will not create or retain jobs.

“• $48 million for private health savings accounts, which primarily benefit the wealthy. A study from the federal Governmental Accountability Office showed the average adjusted gross income of HSA participants was $139,000 and nearly half of HSA participants reported withdrawing nothing from their HSA, evidence that it is serving as a tax shelter for wealthy participants.

“• $67 million for a tax shift plan, so ill-conceived that at best the benefit provided to ‘job creators’ would be less than a dollar a day per new job, and may be as little as 30 cents a day.”

State Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, sums up this scheming accurately when he says: “In one fell swoop, Gov. Walker is trying to institute a sweeping radical and dangerous notion that will return Wisconsin to the days when land barons and railroad tycoons controlled the political elites in Madison.”

And now to complete his plan, Gov. Walker wants to balance it on the back of state workers -- that means, yes, teachers and everybody whom citizens depend on for basic services and to handle certain problems except police and firefighters -- while decimating their right to collective bargaining.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Civil Unrest

Spreading across the Middle East:
The protests convulsed half a dozen countries across the Middle East on Wednesday, with tens of thousands of people turning out in Bahrain to challenge the monarchy, a sixth day of running street battles in Yemen, continued strikes over long-suppressed grievances in Egypt and a demonstrator’s funeral in Iran turning into a brief tug of war between the government and its opponents.

Even in heavily policed Libya, pockets of dissent emerged in the main square of Benghazi, with people calling for an end to the 41-year rule of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. Iraq, accustomed to sectarian conflict, got a dose of something new: a fiery protest in the eastern city of Kut over unemployment, sporadic electricity and government corruption. And the protesters in Bahrain were confronted Thursday morning by riot police officers who rushed into the main square in Manama firing tear gas and concussion grenades. Wisconsin?

Behind closed doors, Scott Walker, the Republican who has been governor for about six weeks, calmly described his intent to forge ahead with the plans that had set off the uprising: He wants to require public workers to pay more for their health insurance and pensions, effectively cutting the take-home pay of many by around 7 percent.

He also wants to weaken most public-sector unions by sharply curtailing their collective bargaining rights, limiting talks to the subject of basic wages.


Here, in a state with a long history of powerful unions, Mr. Walker’s plan was upending life in the capital city.

Madison schools were closed on Wednesday after many employees called in sick to help lobby. Thousands of teachers, state workers and students filled a square around the Capitol, chanting “kill the bill” and waving signs (some likening Mr. Walker to a dictator and demanding his recall).

And a hearing on the issue that had started at 10 a.m. Tuesday ran through the night and into Wednesday afternoon, as protesters with sleeping bags camped out near the Capitol’s rotunda and bleary-eyed lawmakers gulped coffee from paper cups.

Protesters shared stories of their families’ deep history in unions, people struggling to pay their mortgages, workers considering moving away, switching careers, retiring.

Kim Hoffman, a middle school music teacher, said she and her husband, also a teacher, would lose $1,200 a month under the plan — too deep a cut to manage.

“I love teaching, but I’d have to start looking for another job, period,” she said.

While union leaders here set up makeshift offices in the Capitol, distributing fliers and planning vigils and “teach-outs,” national officials from more than a dozen unions pledged millions of dollars, as well as phone banks and volunteers, to block such efforts in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

We'll see how the new crop of GOP leaders at the state level fare with their plans, who amongst them and their legislators blink...and at the ballot box in 2012, when there will be a Dem at the top of the ticket who gets a higher percentage of party voters showing up than without him in 2010.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Who wants to go to the Playboy Mansion and get sick? With all the airbrushing that goes on in the magazine, one wouldn't even expect at STD, yet suddenly:
The LA Times reports on a possible cause of the mysterious outbreak at the Playboy mansion:
The possible outbreak of legionellosis, or Pontiac fever, affected people connected with the DOMAINfest Global Conference, "with symptoms mostly consisting of fever, chills, general discomfort (malaise) and some cough," according to a statement by the county Department of Public Health.
Well, there is this old guy who walks around in his bathrobe all day living there. I'm expecting less excitement about a dip in the legendary grotto from here on out.

And how about a computer beating out the best ever human competition on Jeopardy? Isn't that a "who cares?" moment?

Even when he bungled Final Jeopardy, Watson (with his 10 offstage racks of computer servers) remained poised.

The answer: "Its largest airport is named for a World War II hero; its second largest, for a World War II battle."

Both Jennings and Rutter knew the right response was Chicago.

Watson guessed doubtfully, "What is Toronto?????" It didn't matter. He had shrewdly wagered only $947.

The trio will return on Wednesday, when their second game is aired. The overall winner will collect $1 million.

Where will "Watson" spend all that dough? PC Connection?

And then there's those wackadoodle buzzkillers who sprung up after the last Presidential Election. You know, the one where we elected a half-black guy. The Birthers.

Only it appears that Birthers now comprise more than half of the Republican party:

According to the poll, 51 percent of those likely to vote in a GOP primary in the next election cycle adhere to the conspiracy theory suggesting the president was born outside the United States and therefore is ineligible to serve.

Twenty-eight percent of respondents say they have no doubt that Obama is a citizen of the U.S., while 21 percent remain unsure, the survey shows.

With the birth certificate already in public record, there's just the growth of the Big Lie that, to any rational person, would disqualify Birther believers from having the judgment required to vote responsibly. On the other hand you have the GOP honchos like House Speaker John Boehner, who refuses to gainsay Birtherism:
House Speaker John Boehner became embroiled in the "birther" controversy on Sunday, saying on NBC's "Meet the Press" that, while he believes President Obama is a citizen, it's not his job to correct those who claim otherwise.
Wow. Leadership.

Maybe the Speaker needs to relax a little, take a trip to the Playboy Mansion.

Monday, February 14, 2011


I've been reading Keith Richards' endlessly entertaining, opinionated and well-remembered autobiography, where we learn that he actually wrote those songs with Mick Jagger filled in with genius lyrics written usually in under an hour, plus some songs like "Brown Sugar" that were almost all Mick.

If the book isn't enough to make you want the Stones to record and tour again, then how about Jagger's show-stopping performance, to my eyes and ears easily the best and least reliant on technical effects, at last night's Grammy Awards show:

He turns the prestigious overblown event into a classic rhythm & blues revival, all in the name of the last Solomon Burke. Per Richard's book, it was the African-American musicians and communities that welcomed the Stones when they first toured in the early-to-mid-1960's sharing their homes -- and daughters -- and warmth, while so many whites called them "girls" for their then outre long hair. So Mick is clearly repaying a debt, both of musical inspiration and hospitality, and to see him striding, hopping across the narrow wings of the stage is to see a miracle in action.

Make up, Keith and Mick, and come back Rolling Stones!

Sunday, February 13, 2011


I'm not sure how long this will be up, but NPR is streaming the new P.J. Harvey album, Let England Shake, for free here and it sounds to me like her most accessible since 2000's prophetic Stories From the City Stories From the Sea.

That album seemed to predict 9/11, and it was absolutely amazing to see her in concert three weeks after that horrific event and hear her sing things like:
Threw my bad fortune
Off the top of
A tall building
But I'd rather have done it with you
Can you hear them?
The helicopters?
I'm in New York
No need for words now
We sit in silence
You look me
In the eye directly
You met me
I think it's Wednesday
The evening
The mess we're in and
The city sun sets over me
I'm watching from the wall
As in the streets we fight
This world all gone to war
All I need is you tonight
On a rooftop in Brooklyn
One in the morning
Watching the lights flash
In Manhattan
Beyond all reason
Beyond all my hopes
The call of duty
Another war zone
(Makes me moan)

Kamikaze - you can't touch me, kamikaze

Another great one from PJ to start the new decade?

Will England...shake?

Thursday, February 10, 2011


It's not politically correct, but half the time I read or say Hosni Mubarak's first name I go Great White North and think of "Hosed!" like I'm on SCTV. But the Eqyptian people truly got hosed today by their incalcitrant dictator. He could have given it up, the regime could have given him up, but he dug in, whether with their ascent or because his $70B family holdings makes him @ #15 worldwide.

The crowd is pissed and the world is with them. Who will really want to kill a ton of protesters defending this 84 year-old rich man who's had more than his allotted time? He's older than his main enemy, the Internet. And almost all of the Egyptian people.

Some analysis by Anthony Bubalo:

There are three explanations for this characteristic, but still remarkable, display of stubbornness, and in fact elements of all three combined may explain what is occurring:

  1. The President and those in the regime still loyal to him, including Vice-President Suleiman, are truly deluded. It is amazing to think that this group really might believe that the President's 'concessions' would get people off the streets. But, given how the regime has repeatedly misread the protests to date, this is a plausible explanation.

  2. The regime is preparing for something really ugly. There have been increasing reports that the army (not just the police or state security) has been brutalizing protesters, which is undermining the popular image of the military as neutral. Much depends now on the interpretation of the military high command's move hours before Mubarak's speech. It issued a very ambiguous statement titled 'Communique number one' which referred to its decision to 'remain in continuous session to consider what procedures and measures that may be taken to protect the nation, and the achievements and aspirations of the great people of Egypt.' This was initially read as something akin to the military taking over, but it could also be interpreted as preparation for a more repressive move.

  3. There is a serious rift within the regime. The expectations that Mubarak was going to resign were in part fueled by members of the regime, including the head of the ruling party, Hussam Badrawi. It may even be that the original interpretation of 'Communique number one' was correct and the military was genuinely expecting Mubarak to stand down. This would mean a very serious breech has now opened, not just between the military and Mubarak but also between the military (specifically the Defence Minister, Field Marshall Tantawi) and Vice-President Suleiman. My gut tells me that this is what is happening, but it is very hard to be sure. The key signal will be how the military reacts now: 'Communique number two' should be very interesting.
Here's the response in Tahrir Square:

Here's the people:

The corrupt past vs. the promise of the future. If it were a democracy, he's have been long gone.

Monday, February 07, 2011

K to C

Hot on the heels of yesterday's new media/new media merger comes today's: Keith Olbermann is reported by The NY Times as headed to Current TV. That's a move from establishment cable media to new media grassroots, continuing the narrative one day later.
Current TV is a public affairs channel which was co-founded by Vice President Al Gore. If Olbermann goes there, he would be landing at a much smaller channel than his former home, MSNBC. (The Times notes that Current is only available in 60 million homes, whereas MSNBC is available in 85 million homes.) He would also not be able to start for some months; the deal he made with MSNBC upon his departure stipulated that he not appear on television for at least half a year. But the move would allow Olbermann to potentially bring a whole new audience to Current.

It's a social media world. The new broadcast channels are Facebook and tablet apps. The gates of international broadcast have been blown open, there's a huge populist train riding through -- and picking up both speed and passengers, and both AOL and Olbermann have jumped on aboard.

Hello, 2011.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

New Meets Newer

This ought to create shockwaves:
The Huffington Post, which began in 2005 with a meager $1 million investment and has grown into one of the most heavily visited news Web sites in the country, is being acquired by AOL in a deal that creates an unlikely pairing of two online media giants.

The two companies completed the sale Sunday evening and announced the deal just after midnight on Monday. AOL will pay $315 million, $300 million of it in cash and the rest in stock. It will be the company’s largest acquisition since it was separated from Time Warner in 2009.

The deal will allow AOL to greatly expand its news gathering and original content creation, areas that its chief executive, Tim Armstrong, views as vital to reversing a decade-long decline.

I recently saw founder Arianna Huffington speak at a thinkLA breakfast event and she was brilliant. Happy to see this come along, although just hoping there's no diminishment in the quality of HuffPo coverage or POV. Per Arianna:

By combining HuffPost with AOL's network of sites, thriving video initiative, local focus, and international reach, we know we'll be creating a company that can have an enormous impact, reaching a global audience on every imaginable platform.

Remember my New Year's resolution? It's coming true - and it's only the beginning of February. Let's go down the checklist: Local? AOL's covers 800 towns across America, providing an incredible infrastructure for citizen journalism in time for the 2012 election, and a focus on community and local solutions that have been an integral part of HuffPost's DNA. Check.

Original video? AOL's just finished building a pair of state-of-the-art video studios in New York and LA, and video views on AOL have gone up 400 percent over the last year. Check. More sections? AutoBlog, Music, AOL Latino, Black Voices, etc, etc, etc. fill gaps in HuffPost's coverage. Add all that to what HuffPost is doing with social, community, mobile, as well as our commitment to innovative original reporting and beyond-left-and-right commentary, and the blending will have a multiplier effect. Or, as Tim and I have been saying over the last couple of weeks: 1 + 1 = 11.

Far from changing our editorial approach, our culture, or our mission, this moment will be for HuffPost like stepping off a fast-moving train and onto a supersonic jet. We're still traveling toward the same destination, with the same people at the wheel, and with the same goals, but we're now going to get there much, much faster.

New newer media. And now procreate.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Courage in Cairo

It's bad over there. Here's photos from The NY Times and this piece from Nicholas Kristof:

I was on Tahrir Square, watching armed young men pour in to scream in support of President Hosni Mubarak and to battle the pro-democracy protesters. Everybody, me included, tried to give them a wide berth, and the bodies of the injured being carried away added to the tension. Then along came two middle-age sisters, Amal and Minna, walking toward the square to join the pro-democracy movement. They had their heads covered in the conservative Muslim style, and they looked timid and frail as thugs surrounded them, jostled them, shouted at them.

Yet side by side with the ugliest of humanity, you find the best. The two sisters stood their ground. They explained calmly to the mob why they favored democratic reform and listened patiently to the screams of the pro-Mubarak mob. When the women refused to be cowed, the men lost interest and began to move on — and the two women continued to walk to the center of Tahrir Square.

I approached the women and told them I was awed by their courage. I jotted down their names and asked why they had risked the mob’s wrath to come to Tahrir Square. “We need democracy in Egypt,” Amal told me, looking quite composed. “We just want what you have.”

And which we take for granted all too often.

Glad to hear Obama's on the case for getting Mubarak out, but he's not leaving quickly and there are other dark forces as work as well.

Like journalists being rounded up and sudden darkness in Tahrir Square.

Prepare the Meathook

Egyptian"President" Hosni Mubarak reveals his true colors:
Automatic weapons fire pounded the anti-government protest camp in Cairo's Tahrir Square before dawn on Thursday in a dramatic escalation of what appeared to be a well-orchestrated series of assaults on the demonstrators. At least three protesters were killed by gunfire, according to one of the activists.

The crowds seeking an end to Mubarak's nearly three decades in power were still reeling from attacks hours earlier in which Mubarak supporters charged into the square on horses and camels, lashing people with whips, while others rained firebombs and rocks from rooftops.

Word is the Egyptian government opened prisons, released criminals, and the business supporters of the regime paid thugs to be Mubarak "supporters" and attack the peaceful protesters viciously. Classic fascism: license your thug class.

This put Mubarak squarely in the category of dictator who slaughters his own people and deserves the justice eventually dealt Romania's Ceausescu, Iraq's Hussein and Italy's Mussolini.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011



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Thanks to Tucson, everyone now knows she's on the grift. Aside from her hardcore marks, her rubs, but anyone with half a brain is keeping their money away from her.