Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday Mashup Part Two (4/28/10)

(Part One is over here.)

  • Well, all I can say in response to this story is that Dennis Miller, John Ratzenberger (Cliff from “Cheers,” proving that, in his case, art imitated life...both characters are obnoxious) and that airhead Victoria Jackson will no doubt help to fundraise against Al Franken’s opponent in 2014.

  • Also, while journeying to the wingnut universe of J.D. Mullane’s blog (talk about "Swampland,") I came across this from a life form named Andrew Klavan, a screenwriter and novelist who tells us that “Hollywood conservatives have to “meet in secret” and “talk in whispers.”

    Yeah, well…I seem to recall Klavan saying the exact same thing two years ago here, in a column similarly filled with straw-men arguments and baseless generalities.

    Oh, and did you know that Klavan once compared Dubya to Batman here? Holy non-existent WMD! Another problem for me with that argument is that the Caped Crusader took it upon himself to rectify the problems of Gotham City, whereas Dubya took it upon himself to pass the buck to anyone in sight which would thus provide him deniability.

    Also, Klavan helped to spread the “death panel” lie about health care reform (here...I'll admit that he had a lot of company).

    And in Klavan’s 2008 Washington Post column, he encourages conservatives to use art to “take the culture back,” which to me would necessitate supporting the arts. I would find that argument to be a lot more credible if it weren’t for the fact that conservatives are always trying to cut arts funding, as noted here.

    Because, as Miles Mogulescu of The Huffington Post tells us here…

    When people attend a performance or go to a museum, they often spend additional money on restaurants, nearby shopping or parking. Artists are often the pioneers of urban revitalization. First artists move into lofts in a rundown neighborhood. Then cafes and galleries start to open. Soon middle class professionals are flocking to the area, first as consumers and then to rent and buy real estate, generating tax revenue which supports city and state governments and helps pay for things like schools and police.

    The New Deal provides ample precedent for using the arts as economic stimulus, as well as inspiration providing hope to struggling Americans. The Works Progress Administration, known as the WPA, was at the heart of The New Deal, providing jobs to millions of Americans. One of the WPA's most influential components was Federal Project Number One, which employed thousands of Artists through its Federal Theater Project, Federal Art Project, the Federal Music Project, and the Federal Writers Project.
    And Klavan is worried that conservatives are “whispering”? Hell, with everyone Twittering, Facebooking and IM-ing like crazy, it’s a wonder anyone is talking at all!

  • Also, in the vein of media criticism, George Packer tells us the following about Number 44 here…

    “They seem to want to close the book on the highly secretive years of the Bush administration. However, in their relationship with the press, I think they’re doing what they think succeeded in helping Obama get elected,” said the New Yorker’s George Packer.

    “I don’t think they need to be nice to reporters, but the White House seems to imagine that releasing information is like a tap that can be turned on and off at their whim,” Packer said.
    I hate to break the news to Packer, but releasing information IS “a tap that can be turned on and off at their whim,” and that’s true of every presidential administration.

    In response, Brendan Nyhan tells us the following (here)…

    … There's no reason to think that speeches conveying a clearer worldview would have a significant effect on Obama's standing. (Per Matthew Dickinson, see also the New York Times profile of David Axelrod for additional pining for a better meta-narrative.)

    An even more insipid analysis comes from Time's Mark Halperin, who blames "much of the political predicament in which the present decider finds himself today" on Obama's lack of a chief economic spokesperson, lack of sufficient political and policy integration, failure to distance himself from Congressional Democrats, and failure to delegate to his cabinet on domestic policy. Really? Obama's "political predicament" would be different if he turned loose Ray LaHood? (See Jonathan Bernstein for more on Halperin; I refuse to dignify the piece with a longer response.)

    In short, this entire genre of political coverage is useless. If/when the economy picks up, Obama's speeches will start "connecting" and everyone will marvel at how effective the White House political team has become.
    And in that event, Packer can return to another one of his pet topics: why, as nearly as he could see, there was no liberal opposition to the Iraq war (here, proving for all time that Packer really doesn’t know a hell of a lot about lefty blogs).

  • Finally, this tells us that ownership of the Philadelphia Daily News and the Inquirer has transferred from Philadelphia Newspapers, L.L.C. run by Brian Tierney (A Bruce Toll Production) to…

    The senior lenders - which include Angelo, Gordon Co. and Credit Suisse – (who) expect to close by late June…there will be $10 million of liquidity to operate the business, said Lawrence G. McMichael, the lead attorney for Philadelphia Newspapers.

    McMichael said that the new owners would have to get a loan to continue operating the business.

    Robert J. Hall, an adviser to the creditors' committee who served as publisher of The Inquirer and Daily News for 13 years until he retired in 2003, said he will be chief operating officer under the new ownership.

    He said that the company would hire a new chief executive officer and publisher, and that the new owners had someone in mind.

    Hall said the Daily News, which two weeks ago won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting, would remain in operation. "The Daily News is a very important part of this organization," he said.

    But Hall noted that there would have to be concessions made on the part of the publishing company's unions.
    I am definitely not someone familiar with the legal comings and goings of media companies, but something about this tells me that it’s another step in the long, almost interminable process of dissolving this organization into smaller concerns that can be digested by other outlets.

    And I would love to be wrong. Because, despite my constant griping about the ever-more-rightward tilt of the editorial direction particularly of the Inquirer, I realize the caliber of expertise possessed by the individuals who work diligently to bring the news to us each day from that portion of the universe (and I’m sorry I didn’t mention the Daily News’s Pulitzer when it was awarded, but I couldn’t find a way to work it into a post until now). And it truly would be a blow to the city to lose either one or perhaps both of its daily print media “voices” (kind of wished they'd listened to me here, but oh well...).

    In his way, I honestly believe Brian Tierney cares about both papers, though his missteps have been thoroughly chronicled by yours truly and many others. And I have to admit that he’s been a more visible advocate for them than I ever would have imagined, given his past history of media antagonism.

    I stopped paying for the Inquirer a long time ago, and I refuse to do so because they continue to give column space to Kevin Ferris, John Yoo and Rick Santorum (another Tierney “master stroke,” particularly in the case of Yoo; I know he inherited Ferris, but I don’t remember whether Santorum came after the change in ownership or not). However, that doesn’t mean that the work of the rest of the paper (and the Daily News, of course) isn’t important and worthwhile. And I know I’ve lost out, but we have no problem with our decision to switch to the New York Times instead.

    But I definitely hope both papers survive, and I wish them well, even if the odds are most certainly against them.
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