Wednesday, December 28, 2011


As a former player in the MSM arena, I continue to be flabbergasted by the propensity of today’s strapped publishers to waste vast quantities of ink, airtime and man-hours shooting at paper tigers when such resources could, Lord knows, be put to far more productive use.

Case in point: The New Yorker’s Katie-bar-the-door takedown of Newt Gingrich in the lead column of its most recent issue. It’s as though a recklessly extravagant one-percenter had so much ready cash burning a hole in his pocket, he had to exhaust it all in one fell swoop or burst.

You’d think that an editor as savvy as Hendrik Hertzberg, or an avatar as seasoned to the fickleness of shifting political winds as Eustace Tilley, would recognize that Gingrich has about as much chance of being elected president as Kim Kardashian has of scoring the Pope to officiate at her next wedding.

Neither is it likely that anyone who reads The New Yorker would ever vote for, or needs to be convinced not to vote for Mrs. Gingrich’s precocious boy, a contender as much a victim of his own hubris as of Mitt’s Super-PAC.

So, why the overkill? It’s almost as though they know the guy is about to go into eclipse, and they want to fire off all the juicy negatives they’ve been saving up before they become worthless currency in the ongoing press wars.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

SOPA Opera

What with the 3-ring circus surrounding the GOP presidential-nomination sweepstakes dominating the news media this past week, there was comparatively little ink or airtime left to deal with SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, a colorful tag for the long-simmering clash of media giants for hegemony over what you and I may be permitted to watch, upload, download, copy, reference, forward, like, send, or steal, from the internet.  

Politico has a good score-sheet article as to who the players – and what the issues – are, but it boils down to the usual suspects: the networks, the MPAA, BMI, Sony, etc., vs. Google, ebay, Yahoo, Facebook, et al, over gatekeeping; in this case the right to close down “rogue” sites for real or alleged copyright violation.
The stakes are huge, as indicated by the millions in lobbying money that the contenders’ lobbyists are lavishing on Congress.

Of course, as we all know from recent history, today’s rogue site is tomorrow’s ISP and next week’s IPO, and once we start closing down the rogues (another colorful tag), is it just a matter of time and whim before they come for the rest of us? There’s already plenty of copyright-protection law on the books and further restrictions in the free flow of information are not what I believe the Constitution had in mind when, in Art. I, Sec. 8, it promised protection from exploitation to “Authors and inventors.”

Hence, this corner opts for the opponents of the bill as being the white (if not totally unsullied) hats in this particular shootout and takes the position that in this case, freedom to publish trumps the right to censor.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

And You Thought You’d Heard it All

Boehner calls on Obama to help Congress avoid automatic cuts
By Russell Berman

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday called on President Obama to intercede in the growing push to change the automatic spending cuts to military and domestic programs triggered by the congressional supercommittee’s failure to strike a deficit reduction deal.

The $1.2 trillion in across-the-board cuts will take effect in 2013, and Republican leaders, along with some Democrats, have said they want to change them to protect the military. Obama has threatened to veto any effort to undo the trigger, known as sequestration, although the White House is still pushing for a broad deficit pact.

“I really believe that the president of the United States has a responsibility here as well,” Boehner told reporters. “He’s the commander in chief, he knows what those cuts will mean to the military and so I frankly believe the Congress still must work with the president to find a solution to our long-term debt.”

                                        The Hill, 12/1/11

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Wherein Boehner brings a whole new meaning to the term “ironic” (to say nothing of elevating “cynical” and “chutzpah” to new heights of ignominy).