Monday, October 26, 2009

Latest Data – Newspapers Still Dying; But the Chicago Sun-Times Has New Owners Who Bet They Have a Miracle Cure

Editor & Publisher reports (link) that over the past six months, of the 22 largest circulation newspapers for which there is data, all but one lost circulation; only the Wall Street Journal increased sales. In fact, percent declines for 15 of the 21 were in double digits. The Associated Press reports (link) that “average daily circulation at 379 U.S. newspapers plunged 10.6 percent in the recent April-September period from the same six-month stretch last year.

The internet has dealt the newspaper business a serious blow, but not just because the news and information is free and always available. It’s also because the internet houses all sorts of information from all sorts of political views, allowing readers to bypass the heavy, typically liberal biases of publishers. Moreover, faced with shrinking sales, many papers seem to have dumbed down the content, apparently trying to make inroads with what I have previously described as the demographic that doesn’t read much. That can’t be a smart strategy.

If “newspapers” are to survive, they need to see themselves as being in the news and information business, need to be able to charge customers for their content whether on paper or on the internet, and need to maximize the potential customer base by delivering news and information that’s balanced and fair -- a tall order for what seems like most newspaper publishers who apparently would rather die with a biased product than succeed without one.

Megan McArdle writes (link) at the Atlantic:
I think we're witnessing the end of the newspaper business, full stop, not the end of the newspaper business as we know it. The economics just aren't there. At some point, industries enter a death spiral: too few consumers raises their average costs, meaning they eventually have to pass price increases onto their customers. That drives more customers away. Rinse and repeat . . .
Meanwhile, a Chicago investor group has put up about $26 million to now own (link) what’s left of the Chicago Sun-Times, which in recent years has not only been dumbed down like so many other papers but has been driven hard to the left, leaving even middle of the road liberalism in the rear view mirror. The last bunch had a business plan whose key point was to alienate 50% of its potential readership base -- the only thing at which it succeeded. Do the new owners have some secret sauce or just hubris? We’ll find out soon.

Some Previous Related Posts:

Sinking Liberal Newspapers Throw Readers Overboard, & the Chicago Sun-Times as a Case in Point

Chicago Newspapers Fight for Air – Struggle for Control at the Sun-Times, and the Tribune Dumbs Down

Ray of Hope at the Chicago Sun-Times Newspaper

John M Greco

Monday, October 19, 2009

Obama, Losing Arguments on the Merits, Attacks Fox News

The Obama administration’s attack on Fox News, the only one of the many TV news organizations not slavishly smitten with Barack Obama, continues. Headline from a post (link) yesterday at the mildly liberal The Hill: “White House officials on Fox News: 'It's not a news organization.'” The other day White House Communications Director said Fox News was the communications arm of the Republican Party.

John Hinderaker at Powerline writes (link):

One might wonder why the Obama administration is so outraged that a single network fails to toe its line. The administration acts as though it deserves a monopoly on the news. Isn't that unreasonable? Maybe, except the fact is that the Democrats do need a monopoly. Their problem is that controlling almost all news outlets isn't quite enough, because without a complete monopoly, inconvenient news still gets out--ACORN, Van Jones, Anita Dunn, and so on. If it weren't for Fox, criticism of the Democrats wouldn't be illegal, it would just be nonexistent. Or invisible, anyway. Hence the administration's frustration.
Jay Nordlinger at National Review Online writes (link):
The White House war on Fox News is quite interesting. My impression is that the Obama people are very, very unused to criticism or “pushback” — especially from the media. They are used to support…. So Fox looks very exotic and alien to them…. Obama-supporting networks are normal and legitimate; the one non-Obama-supporting one is weird, freakish — probably un-American.
John Podhoretz once remarked that all conservatives are bilingual: We speak both conservative and liberal. Liberals are monolingual, because they can afford to be. To the Obama crowd, Fox News is a foreign tongue. When conservatives hear liberal bias, they say, “Yeah, so? The sun rises in the east.” When liberals hear conservative bias, or even a point or bit of news uncongenial to liberals, they’re apt to say, “Eek, a mouse!”

Peter Wehner writes (link) what many no doubt have begun thinking -- this is all "vaguely Nixonian."

Rather than debate the merits with opponents, Obama and his team seek to vilify opponents – a sure sign they continue to lose policy arguments and continue to slip in popular opinion polls. This behavior is unseemly and beneath the dignity of the office of the presidency. It bodes ill for Obama, his presidency, and the body politic.

John M Greco

Friday, October 16, 2009

Obama Tries Cash To Dupe Seniors on Obamacare

Facing poor support among seniors for his version of health care reform, President Obama now tries to lure them into complacency with a special one-time payoff. The Wall Street Journal reports (link):

President Obama announced that he wants to send every American senior a $250 check…. Supposedly these "economic recovery payments" are justified because seniors won't get an inflation-adjusted increase in Social Security benefits this year. This zero cost-of-living, or COLA, increase has many seniors alarmed, and AARP and other lobbies have been fanning their anxiety.
Mr. Obama's $250 check would be the equivalent of another 2% increase, and he is proposing no compensating spending cuts to pay for it. This means the checks will come out of general revenues, which means that they won't be financed based on the traditional calculations of what seniors pay into the system over their working lives.

This $250 gambit also underscores the dishonesty behind the budget math propping up ObamaCare. Democrats are claiming that half of the new entitlement's outlays will be "paid for" with Medicare cuts in future years. But if Democrats can't tolerate a zero COLA for one year in Social Security, how in the world are they going to bless $500 billion in cuts to doctors, hospitals and other Medicare reimbursements?
The real calculation here is political …. Every poll shows that seniors are among the most opposed to ObamaCare—by more than a 10-point margin in a late-September Gallup survey. Democrats are panicked that the zero COLA will feed senior opposition to health care and stop their attempt to ram it into law in the next few weeks. Mr. Obama's $250 checks are essentially bribes, a sort of political anesthesia intended to hush up seniors until the legislation is on the books.
Let’s see – the most recent Democrat version of health care reform just voted out of committee is the Senate Finance Baucus “bill", that I have written about here and here, which seeks to pay for its massive new spending primarily through over $400 billion in cuts to Medicare plus taxes and fees that will be passed along to health care consumers. And even worse, this Democrat plan seeks to turn each Medicare patient’s physician into his or her personal death panel (link) via a powerful incentive to doctors to reduce medical spending on seniors. Seniors are rightly very, very worried.

So Obama thinks he can distract them with a one-time payment of $250 per person.

Larry Kudlow said on his CNBC show today that “This is a naked attempt to buy senior citizen support for this outrageous health care plan, [in which] Medicare is getting slashed.”

Obama, with his support steadily eroding, is looking increasingly desperate.

John M Greco

Murderous Mao Tse-Tung is a Hero to Obama Spokeswoman

Every thinking person, whether he or she will admit it out loud, knows Obama is quite to the left in his true political beliefs, beyond ultra-liberal even, if one judges him by his past actions, associations, and words, and not by his enticingly soothing centrist demeanor that he adopted, right out of the “Rules for Radicals” playbook, some years ago to fool the foolable in his run for the presidency.

Now there is yet one more person from Obama's circle whose “moderate” mask has been pierced – his Communication Director Anita Dunn. Writes (link) Hans von Spakovsky at National Review Online:
Glenn Beck showed an absolutely damning video of Anita Dunn on his show yesterday. As everyone knows, she is the White House communications director who has declared war on Fox News. The video shows Dunn giving a speech in which she highlights the two most important political philosophers shaping her outlook on politics: Mao Zedong and Mother Teresa. The first “political philosopher” Dunn is praising was a tyrannical dictator who imprisoned, tortured, and killed millions of his own people. In fact, it is estimated that the Chinese Communists — led, inspired, and controlled by Mao — have killed 65 million Chinese citizens since 1949 through the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and the Gulag system of slave-labor prisons (the “Laogai” system) that Mao implemented.
The liberal press has always relatively ignored the murderous reigns of Mao Tse-Tung (or Mao "Zedong") and Joseph Stalin, the two greatest mass murders of the 20th century and probably the two greatest of all time, preferring to focus on Adolf Hitler because he is commonly though inaccurately believed to be a man of the political “right.” Readers of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism know, if they didn’t know it already, that Hitler and his Nazi party were socialists based on nationalism, as distinct from the Soviets in Russia whose socialism was an international movement based on class. When Nazi Germany attacked Communist Russia and then declared war on the United States, leftists portrayed Hitler’s Nazism as a movement of the right rather than of the left. In reality, the fight between communism and nazism and other strains of fascism were intramural fights among different stripes of socialist totalitarian movements. But with Hitler’s Nazism as the bogeyman, American leftists are free to voice their admiration for communists.

Andy McCarthy, also at NRO, writes (link):
While Dunn's unabashed affection for the most execrable mass-murderer in history is shocking, the Maoists in Obama's attic are not a new story — just a story obstinately ignored by the mainstream media. Before the election, I wrote a column ("Another Communist in Obama's Orb") about Obama pal Mike Klonsky….

Roger Kimball, at his blog at Pajamas Media, writes (link) in a post entitled “A Maoist in the White House:”

Jeremiah Wright. William Ayers. Van Jones. Where does the rogues’ gallery of Barack Obama’s radical friends end? These people are not liberals. They are not “progressives.” They are radicals who hate America and in many cases have advocated or even perpetrated violence in an effort to destroy it.
Thanks to Glenn Beck, the American public has now been introduced to yet another radical member of Obama’s inner circle: Anita Dunn, Interim White House Communications Director, former top advisor to Obama’s political campaign, and wife of Obama’s personal lawyer, Robert Bauer.

In a speech before high school students last June, Dunn spoke passionately about her two favorite political philosophers, “the two people I turn to most” for answers to important questions like “how to do things that have never been done before.” Who are these paragons? One was Mother Teresa. Dunn didn’t have much to say about her. Most of her enthusiasm was lavished upon her other favorite fount of political wisdom: Mao Tse-Tung.

Mao Tse-Tung. That would be the deviant monster who, quite apart from his disgusting personal life, engineered the mass murder of anywhere from 50 to over 100 million people. Estimates vary so widely because murder on that wholesale scale is difficult to tabulate, especially in a country as backwards as China was under Mao’s long reign. But there is little doubt that Mao has the grisly distinction of being the greatest mass murderer in history.

Yet this is the man that one of Obama’s closest advisors commends to an audience with warmth and enthusiasm…..

Anita Dunn is not just an Obama hanger-on. She is part of his inner circle, one of his top aides …. What does it mean that someone in that position proffers one of the greatest monsters the world has ever seen for emulation? ….

In the 1960s and 1970s, many American universities, along with some other Western redoubts of privilege and irresponsibility, harbored a few deluded characters who declared themselves Maoists and were fond of toting around his pathetic compendium of absurdity, “The Little Red Book.” These creatures were the sorriest detritus of our own cultural revolution. Some destroyed themselves. Others grew up, in whole or part, and were absorbed by a rich and forgiving society into the tissues of American life. Only now is it clear that some of the most radical and benighted have subsisted long enough in the outer corridors of power to find themselves suddenly translated into its inner sanctum, the White House and other top agencies of the United States government. It is an eventuality that would be risible were it not repulsive and, indeed, frightening.

So, we have a self-professed admirer of Mao Tse-Tung in a top job at the White House. Where does it end? Where?

John M Greco

Monday, October 12, 2009

More Lie to the Lie that is the Baucus Senate Democrat Health Care Plan

The Baucus/Senate Finance Democrat "Health Reform" plan apparently will be voted on this week in committee. In addition to this proposal's harmful nature and deceitful portrayal that I reviewed in my last post (link below), on today's Fox Special Report news show Dr Charles Krauthammer stressed, uncontroverted, that the Baucus plan's benefits do not begin for another three years, but that the revenues, from new taxes (explicit and de facto) and Medicare spending cuts, are counted from year one, meaning that the Congressional Budget Office's financial evaluation ("scoring") that concluded that the plan is "budget neutral" for the next ten years is based on 10 years of revenue but only 7 years of expenditures. The Senate Dems undoubtedly revised their 10 year "plan" to include 10 years of revenue but only 7 years of benefits knowing that the CBO must by the rules "score" plans exactly as they are written, regardless of their sensibility or the likelihood that their assumptions will ever come to pass. Krauthammer stressed that on a year-by-year basis this plan "runs a deficit." As I wrote earlier, this Baucus plan is "a mistake inside a sham surrounded by a lie." This additional information just adds more lie to the lie.

Related Post:
The Revised Senate/Baucus Health Care So-called “Bill” – A Mistake Inside a Sham Surrounded By a Lie

John M Greco

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Revised Senate/Baucus Health Care So-called “Bill” – A Mistake Inside a Sham Surrounded By a Lie

Sorting through the Democrat smoke about the latest developments regarding the Senate Finance version of health care reform – also known as the “Baucus bill”:

1. There is no “bill” – there is no legislative language that has been reduced to paper that can be read to begin to understand the details of what the Democrats are proposing to do (link);

2. The Democrats are working with a “plain-English” conceptual “framework” of what the bill intends to say; in other words, all of the very important details and the specific wording that can mean the difference between lightning and a lightning bug do not exist to be read and thought about (link);

3. Furthermore, most Democrats have no intention of ever putting any legislative language on the internet for citizens to read and think about, and a proposal to do just that has been defeated in the Senate Finance committee by the majority Democrats (link); Why? -- because Democrats think citizens as well as themselves will just be “confused” by the actual legislative language (link), but the real reason is to hide the objectionable nature of many of the provisions, such as the hidden financial pressure on physicians to withhold care for Medicare patients, called by some “death panels by proxy” (link) or by me each patient’s "personal death panel” (link);

4. Nevertheless, the Senate Democrats asked the Congressional Budget Office to evaluate the costs of (i.e., “score”) the “plain-English conceptual framework” of the bill; this it just did (link), with a result less unfavorable to the Democrat proponents than before, so that now the Democrats are claiming victory (the “bill” won’t add to the deficit) and are pretending that the CBO “scored” an actual proposed piece of legislation rather than the plain-English conceptual framework;

5. This Senate Finance “conceptual framework” essentially calls for a new entitlement that the CBO says will cost about $829 billion over 10 years and actually save $81 billion (link). Yes, spend $829 billion to save $81 billion. Who could possibly believe this nonsense? Sentient beings know this "bill" would wind up costing much, much more, as programs like these always have.

6. And where will the $829 billion come from (link) so that this new program will be “budget neutral” so as not to add to the federal deficit? Well, from new taxes, which of course will not be called new taxes, and from deep cuts to Medicare (over $400 billion) that the Democrats know will never in actual fact happen. No one, no one, honestly can actually believe that Democrats will be cutting over $400 billion from Medicare. Apart from the merits or demerits of the actual content, anyone who believes this latest proposal will not add to the deficit in a big way is either a fool or a liar (as President Obama would say, I'm just "speaking truth to power" against "those would would bear false witness").

7. To those that disagree with the content of this “conceptual framework”, and who bemoan the secret, very non-transparent way the Democrats are trying to push it through, and who decry the dishonest way the cost and method of payment are being pitched, this whole sordid episode in Congressional history is a mistake inside a sham surrounded by a lie.

John M Greco

Friday, October 2, 2009

Writer Jan Morris is 83 Years Old Today, Author of the Masterpiece Pax Britannica Trilogy

Jan Morris, the remarkably talented and prolific writer of history and travel narratives, is 83 years old today. She is the writer I enjoy reading the most -- her powers of observation, analysis, and description are unparalleled. I have very much enjoyed her historical travelogues such as Hong Kong, The World of Venice, The Venetian Empire, and Trieste; but her masterpiece, though, and a true one it is, is her trilogy on the history, ethos, and meaning of the British Empire, the Pax Britannica trilogy: Heaven’s Command: An Imperial Progress (1973); Pax Britannica: The Climax of Empire (1968); and Farewell the Trumpets: An Imperial Retreat (1978).

In Pax Britannica, writing as James Morris at the time, hers is history written as it should be, through the sensitive eye of a travel writer with the wordcraft of a poet, often through excerpts of apposite lines of poetry or etchings from gravestones in forgotten far-away cemeteries; sensual and rhythmic, her narrative evokes the sounds and smells of empire about you as you drift through the pages: "In one of the lonely cemeteries in which, buried where they died, the Anzacs lay lost among the Gallipoli ravines, the parents of one young soldier wrote their own epitaph to their son, killed so far away, so bravely we need not doubt, in so obscure a purpose: 'God Took Our Norman, It Was His Will, Forget Him, No, We Never Will' ... for all too often the sacrifices of the Great War, as its contemporaries called it, were given to a cause that was already receding into history, like those discredited grey battleships, their smoke-pall filling the sky, hull-down on the Aegean horizon."

Her narrative has all the stories, the wars (some obscure, like the British invasion of Tibet), the adventures, and of course all the characters (Curzon, once Viceroy of India, "died in 1925 after a career full of irony and vicissitude."). And humour abounds, subtle and dry: she writes of the last of the Moghul monarchs, who “believed himself to possess magic powers; for instance, he thought, wrongly as it proved, that in time of necessity he could turn himself into a house-fly.” Remarking on the work of Christian missionaries: “Not that such catechism training was always successful. The Hau Hau cult of New Zealand, though partially biblical in its beliefs, included among its rituals the sacrifice of Anglican clergymen.” Or: “Though mostly deserted [now], Mbau [in Fiji] is still a peculiar place to visit.... approaching it from the mainland by boat, the silence broken only by the swish of the paddles, the squawks of recondite water-fowl, and perhaps the chop of an axe from the hidden recesses of the island, is an experience partly Venetian but mostly Stygian.”

One's understanding of the world today is immeasurably nourished by her telling of the Imperial story. And as for the British themselves, she writes: "if Britain [is] to be prosperous and influential in the future it must be as an island Power off the coast of Europe. Now as always, it had not been the British Empire that the world really respected. It had not even been, as a matter of fact, Great Britain. It had been England, the heart of it all, England of Shakespeare and the Common Law, England of the poets and the liberators, Churchill's England of the white cliffs and the Cockney courage."

From her introduction to Pax Britannica: “I have fondly imagined my book orchestrated by the young Elgar, and illustrated by Frith; its pages are perfumed for me with saddle-oil, joss-stick and railway steam; I hope my readers will feel, as they close its pages, that they have spent a few hours looking through a big sash window at a scene of immense variety and some splendour, across whose landscapes there swarms a remarkable people at the height of its vigour, in an outburst of creativity, pride, greed and command that has affected all our lives ever since.”

She writes in the Prologue to Heaven’s Command: “I am, though, chiefly attracted to the aesthetic of empire: its feel, its look, its human passions, the metaphysics of its power, the sense of it, the intuition – its ships too, and its horsemen, and the dust of its high veld, and its distant trains streaming across the Punjab plain: and paramount for me in this jumble of suggestions is a sense of alter ego – as though the British had another people inside themselves, very different from the people that Dickens or Cobden portrayed, who yearned to break out of their sad or prosaic realities, and live brilliant lives in Xanadu…. I resolved to write a big, ornate, frank but affectionate work about Victoria’s empire, start to finish: an imperial trilogy, a pointillist portrait less of an age than of a conviction, in whose colours I would try to illustrate not only the extraordinary energies of the imperial generations, but also, suggested here and there in the shade or brush-stroke, some retrospective emotions of my own.”

Jan Morris, with a sensitive melancholy perhaps from her Welsh heritage, is a wonderful writer leading a remarkable life, and what treasures she has crafted.

Richard Balsamo

Related Post:  Writer Jan Morris Turns 85

Chicago’s Bid to Host Olympics Eliminated in First Round Vote; Obama & Chicago Democrats Look Like Pikers

Obama, Daley, and their gang of Chicago pols and celebrities could not win a vote that wasn’t pre-arranged through back-room deals and strong arm tactics. In the Olympics vote in Denmark, the Democrats of Chicago weren’t up against honest but milquetoast local Republicans, they were up against accomplished wheelers and dealers from all over the globe and came up looking like pikers.

Of course, had Acorn been there to stuff the ballot box on the front end with fraudulent votes and had the Chicago Democrats been able to run the selective, rigged vote count of which some Democrats are so fond (see Florida, 2000; Minnesota, 2008 [link]), the outcome surely would have been different.

UPDATE: Rich Lowry at National Review Online's The Corner Blog posts a comment from a reader: "Top Ten Reasons Chicago Didn't Get the Olympics" (link). I especially like these:
10. Dead people can't vote at IOC meetings
7. The impediment is Israel still building settlements.
4. This isn't about the number of Olympics "lost", it's about the number of Olympics "saved" or "created".
3. Clearly not enough wise Latina judges on the committee
1. It's George Bush's fault.
Then also at The Corner Mark Steyn posts this (link):
Re that Number One on your Top Ten list, here's how the Olympians see it: "I'm still in a state of shock. I can't believe we couldn't get past the first round. I still thought the (Chicago) bid overall was the best," said three-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Ambrose "Rowdy" Gaines. "Maybe there is some hangover from politics, from the last eight years," Gaines said.

As the saying goes, you can't make this stuff up.

John M Greco