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Fri, 121012
Filed under: Politics,Wisdom — Rick @ 040706UTC

The one thing you don’t address….

…the one you know better than to pursue — the one that must be avoided at all costs — the one that must not even be mentioned in a debate with Joe Biden is a tragic car accident. The attempt to elicit sympathy for Romney by anecdotal proxy is a poor enough of a play. The decision to do so via an anecdote about a tragic car accident in a debate with Joe Biden means you’re either a sociopath or possessed of an idiocy of immeasurable power.

Wed, 120822
Just Like Soccer
Filed under: Media,Politics,Soccer (sic),Wisdom,Writin' — Rick @ 050407UTC

Are you British? Do you think multidozenmillion-pound salaries have debased the Beautiful Game?

Are you American? Do you think multidozenmillion-dollar anonymous contributions have debased the Greatest Democracy?

Stephen Marche can explain the two great tastes that go great together!

(This post is primarily about hackery, and in case the soccer connection isn’t clear, the $50-75k that Ferguson appears to receive for each speech is about what Clint Dempsey has earned for each game he’s played for Fulham.)

Sun, 120603
The Myth of “Liberal Hollywood Elites”
Filed under: Media,Politics,Technology -v- Culture — Rick @ 022442UTC

Yes, they tend to support Democratic candidates, and the movies and shows they produce make conservatives feel like losers. But when it comes to business, Hollywood’s the opposite of liberal. And that’s true whether you define “liberal” in classical terms (supportive of free markets) or contemporary ones (progressive).

Alleged liberal and “Hollywood super-agent” Ari Emanuel recently made that crystal clear: Nothing should be allowed to alter Hollywood’s current business model — neither consumer preferences nor technological innovations. He wants a Hollywood-Silicon Valley cartel to make sure of it. Failing that, he wants the state to use its coercive power.

There’s nothing “free” about a market that’s limited to using paradigms that are at least 30 years old (and at most a century old). And there’s nothing progressive about a business model that preserves corporate power, puts independent voices at a disadvantage, and extracts rents from consumers in order to subsidize the lifestyle that Ari Emanuel prefers.

Kudos to my friend Josh Topolsky for confronting Emanuel on this and hitting the nail on the head.

Fri, 111021
Lisa Simeone’s Firing
Filed under: Media,Politics — Rick @ 015515UTC

My fellow public broadcaster Lisa Simeone will no longer host the public radio documentary show Soundprint because she was a leader of and spokesperson for the Occupy DC movement. The AP is reporting that she was fired; Soundprint itself implies that the decision was mutual (check the link above).

On one hand, I can see why. Listeners, readers, and viewers are right to question the word of journalists with ties to organizations and movements with clear agendas. In the case of Soundprint, Lisa’s role as host could have resulted in listeners calling into question the veracity and verisimilitude of the work of a lot of talented reporters who produce work for the show.

On the other, I can see why some public radio listeners might see this as unfair. Juan Williams, after all, was both an NPR staffer and a Fox commentator for years before he was fired. And he wasn’t the only one.

During this pledge period, I urge everyone NOT to take this out on their local member stations by withholding pledges. Your local public radio station didn’t make this decision. Your pledge dollars support essential local programming and a lot of great national reporting; Soundprint gets only a tiny portion of that — if the show’s even carried in your market.

If you feel strongly that this is wrong, and if Soundprint is carried on your local station, I suggest that you call in and make a pledge of $1. Tell the person on the other end of the line — or say in the comment box at the online pledge page — that you’ll give more once public radio as a whole gets its house in order. Which is to say once Mara Liasson no longer contributes to Fox, and once Cokie Roberts is more clearly treated as a commentator and not an éminence grise on NPR’s air, at the very least.

Tue, 110920
Good ideas, bad ideas
Filed under: Politics,Technology -v- Culture — Rick @ 010911UTC

This is a good idea. But then I see that, “The TAP website is facilitated by Microsoft,” and I think … Astroturf!

Thu, 100617
The World What?
Filed under: Media,Politics,Wisdom — Rick @ 194709UTC

My latest World Cup-themed podcast for PBS’s Need to Know is now available. Includes gratuitous clips of right-wing nutjobs bloviating about a sport they hate.

Sat, 090725
Filed under: Media,Politics — Rick @ 064956UTC

I know I’m supposed to be blogging the Potter films — and I will — but –

When you try to craft a story — an analysis — and this is what you get in response (see comments), it’s just sad.

Thu, 090305
For f**k’$ sake….
Filed under: Media,Politics,Wisdom — Rick @ 055721UTC

Does anyone really care about the threat of communism anymore?

Haven’t we moved on to another mortal foe?

Sat, 090221
Filed under: Media,Politics,Wisdom — Rick @ 072555UTC

Is Roy Edroso incisive, or what?

Fri, 090123
Transit in the Stimulus Bill
Filed under: Politics,Wisdom — Rick @ 165436UTC

Transit funding has taken a big hit in the House version of the stimulus bill, and yesterday some bloggers were speculating that it was because House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar (D-MN) had rolled over and allowed the money to go to tax cuts instead. But the situation may not be as bad as it looks – yet.

Passenger rail funding went from $5 billion to $1 billion. Road-building and repair look set to receive $30 billion to transit’s $10 billion. And most worrying to transit advocates, a $2 billion subsidy to transit operating expenses (i.e. not capital construction, acquisition, or maintenance) has been completely eliminated. Those advocates say that’s a low blow, because transit agencies are staggering under the burdens of increased ridership (most passenger-trips cost more than they bring in at the fare box, which means each additional rider can actually increase an agency’s deficit). They warn that without the subsidy, transit agencies will have to cut service, lay off employees, or increase fares.

But those same transit advocates are optimistic that political wrangling in the House could restore a sizable chunk of the money that transit lost.

Here’s what happened, according to Blueprint America’s sources: Oberstar went into the negotiation process with high hopes for transit funding. But he met resistance from two places: First, Lawrence Summers, chair of President Obama’s National Economic Council, has been insisting that stimulus money go to “shovel-ready” projects. In the case of passenger rail money, the $1 billion that remains is apparently for Amtrak projects that are ready to go, while the remainder was slated for projects in their very early stages of development, like California’s high-speed rail line from the Bay Area to Los Angeles.

Second, the House leadership reportedly pressured Oberstar into taking the cuts in stride. Our sources say Oberstar bowed to the pressure because he’ll need the leadership’s support to move two big bills later this year – the transportation reauthorization and an increase in the Federal gasoline tax. Given both sources of resistance, Oberstar sat back while Rep. David Obey (D-WI), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, gutted transit provisions in the bill.

Even if the bill passes as-is, transit advocates say there might be a silver lining for struggling transit agencies: A majority of the appropriation for roads can actually be reassigned to transit at a state’s discretion. That said, one source tells us that not many state Departments of Transportation are “quite that enlightened”.

More importantly, though, it’s not looking as though the bill will pass as-is. There are indications that the Senate isn’t happy with the cuts to transit and that the whole stimulus package could grow.

Finally, there could be a floor fight over the transit appropriation – especially the operating subsidy for transit agencies. There’s a rumor that Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) might take the matter to the floor. Sources tell us that depends on a few things: the political lay of the land in the House (and Senate); whether or not the American Public Transportation Association is willing to go to the mat to win back the subsidy; and whether or not transit agencies can add to the coalition – for example, by enlisting the support of the Congressional black and urban caucuses.

One bit of good news in the bill as it stands: Advocates for pedestrians and cyclists are apparently overjoyed with the appropriations for their projects, which are apparently the largest ever.

[Cross-posted at Blueprint America.]

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