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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Obama, Vampires, UNLV cuts and Why News One really failed

"What this country needs is not a new congress but a new electorate" -Daniels Schorr. A journalist for over sixty years, Schorr has considerable history in making this observation. It is the voters who elected the existing congress, who rewarded rule changes allowing for 40 senators to hold government hostage or special interests additions unrelated to the intended bill to be added like barnacles that attach themselves to boats. It is the public that chooses to be unimformed and vote on slogans, unsubstantiated slogans or rumours or by how a candidate looks or how nice his family is packaged like campaign literature. What are your thoughts?

Sen. Evan Bayh says he intends to keep fighting for the American people, but in a capacity where he can get things done. The Indiana Democrat shocked his colleagues Monday when he announced that he won't seek re-election, blaming gridlock in the Senate. NPR asked the senator if he was considering a run for president, and about a bill he is co-sponsoring targeted at ending the political log jam he feels that both the right and the left have brought upon out country. NPRs Daniels Schorr says 'since Sen. Evan Bayh's unexpected announcement that he will not run for a third term, the chorus of anti-politician anger on the call-in shows has become mingled with a chorus of dismay. It has become commonplace to blame politicians as a class and to suggest that what is needed is a new Congress, but it may be that what is really needed is a new electorate"

"Obama visit comes at a cost" reads the full banner lead headline of this morning's Las Vegas Review Journal, softened in the on-line version. The question I have is would the headline be the same (substitute name) if the president was a Republican? Did they ever imply Bush cost Nevada money? The story itself is pretty straight forward, about how air tour operators are grounded for security reasons, and that represents lost revenue for them, their employees and by extension the state. he storu did not mention the amount the Democratic Party is paying for the visit, or the citizen and therfore government obligation after the Kennedy assassination and more recently 9-11 top protect the president. Again, the editors write the headlines, and the editors answer more directly to the publisher and advertisers than the reporters who report the news and write the columns. Do you simply scan headlines or do you read full stories? How informed can head lines or short versions on the internet make you? Do you question views or statements you agree with? Is the thing most repeated the truth because you hear it so often? Do you vote?

Education is going to be cut. Funds will be down by thirty three cents on the dollar, despite growth in student demand. UNLV is now funded at a quarter on every dollar, or 24% less than it was in 2007. With expected minimum budget cuts under Governor Gibbons plan funding will be down more than a third from just two years ago, tutition will go up, programs cut and the school will grow considerably smaller, according to its president, as reported in this morning's Review Journal.

Is education a right? Is it a privilege? Is it a commodity? Is it something that only those who can afford it are entitled to? Are you consumer buying only what you want or think you need or should the educational system question your view and challenge you?

Is 24 hour local news dead? There are very successful 24 hour cable news channels in cities much smaller than Las Vegas, yet we were unable to sustain Cable One, the local 24 hour news station. There are cities much smaller with profitable 24 hour radio news stations that actually do news and not just talk 24/7. Yet in Las Vegas all three alleged news-radio stations are automated, have talk or feature programing and very little local news or reporting.

Can the cell phone, Internet model pay for a 24 hour news delivery system, trained staff and original reporting? So far, on a local basis in cities coast to coast, the answer has been no. 24 hour coverage with new technology has been a needed promotional product for existing news organizations.

The Review journal ran a story "One Down: Examining the loss of Las Vegas One and 24 hour news in Vegas" . It is an interesting read, but it is also an example of how reporters imported from out of town lack the depth to understand the town and what really went down. The station was launched on Channel One on cable, which was automatically pre-set as the default station as you turned on your cable modem or TV. It's success was set dependent on that. COX did not own the cable system. the Greenspun family (Las Vegas Sun) did. COX did not really support the concept or costs when they purchased the cable system, but were contractually obligated up to recent years to do so. Once the obligation ended, so did financing. Funny how the RJ reporter did not know or report these facts.

The reasons in the article are all valid, as this has not been a city where people rooted and thought of themselves as locals. The interests of most "newcomers" has always been where they are from or where they identified with more than the city the happen to live in. From badges to management styles, the casino industry only supports this lack of local identity. Without local identity it is hard for any media, particuraly a cable based 24 hour news service, to survive. People do not care.

Vampires of the Recession. Why are vampires popular again? Why were they popular during past times of financial or political fear? What do they tell us about ourselves?
We have touched on politicians and other "vampires." NPR looks at the rise and fall of vampires and the cultural factors behind them. Is it might makes right? Generational conflicts? Survival? . It has to do with who we are and our cultural moments. Remember that vampires came from a time when science and fiction were colliding. Later a major war and the plague of the flue gave birth to a fear of the dark and others. Immigration led to a fear of foreigners, as personified in Bella Lagosi and other movie "vampires". Communism and a fear of another war gave rise to the vampire trend of the 1950's and early 60's. The spread of Aids and fear of Russia may have fed the vampire craze of the 1980's.  
Kimberly Pauley, the author of "It sucks to be me", a book series for teenagers, equates today to the fear of the Great Depression, with loss of the prosperity we took for granted, and the reality of mortality and the limitations of being human. Are modern vampires about sex or power? Is it a battle between morality and immorality, satin and god, fighting the base interests inside of us, being different or simply enjoyable meanless fiction? What do you think?


Earmarks are painted as evil and somehow special interests immoral. But are they? They fund jobs and projects in the states and districts that receive them. If your district or states does not receive Federal Earmarks, than the money simply goes to another state or district.

Taxpayers for Common Sense released a report this week that shows that Sen. Harry Reid brings home more federal earmark dollars than the rest of the Nevada delegation combined, coming in sixth in the senate in solo earmarks and eighth in joint earmarks. Nevada got more in earmark dollars last year than most other states, coming in 10th in per capita dollars thanks to Reid.

Earmarks are a crucial way Nevada competes with other states for federal dollars for crucial projects such as infrastructure improvements, military construction and flood control projects. Without earmarks, Nevada would receive much less federal funding per capita than other states because state government doesn't fund many programs as robustly as other states do.

So while Sen. Reid brought home more than a quarter billion dollars in funding for important projects and services in the state of Nevada, U.S. Senate candidates Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian have sworn off earmarks, leaving Nevada out in the cold while other states take home much-needed funding.

Abby Road Studios a steal!

"Abby Road Studios" where the Beatles recorded most of their tracks between 1962 and 1969, is up for sale. EMI, which purchased the studio from Apple Records (the Beatles, not to be confused with Apple Computer), is attempting to lower debt burdon from the leveraged buy out of EMI in 2007 by private equity firm Tera Firma in 2007, before the downward spyral of the music industry hit record recession and technology driven levels.

If you have pocket change the asking price is only $47 million.

Variety reports a non-profit is seeking to save the historic studio and take advantage of the move toward analog recording by many recording artists.

How do the Beatles feel? Lord Paul McCartney told the BBC: "I've got so many memories there with the Beatles. It's still a great studio. So it would be lovely for someone to get things together and save it."

Look at the numbers, they speak volumes

Despite the recession, jobs are being created not lost under Obama, with the opposite during the Bush Administration. Funny how so many just believe what they are told and not actual numbers as reflected on the chart above.

Not by this author...but data has been checked and is accurate:

One year in, the evidence is clear – and growing by the day – that the Recovery Act is working to cushion the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression and lay a new foundation for economic growth.
  • According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the Recovery Act is already responsible for as many as 2.4 million jobs through the end of 2009
  • As a result, job losses are a fraction of what they were a year ago, before the Recovery Act began
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:
  • Cut taxes for 95 percent of working families through the Making Work Pay tax credit
  • Cut taxes for small businesses
  • Provided loans to over 42,000 small businesses
  • Funded over 12,500 transportation construction projects nationwide, ranging from highway construction to airport improvement projects
  • Made multi-billion dollar investments in innovation, science and technology that are laying the foundation for our 21st century economy
  • Provided critical relief for state governments facing record budget shortfalls, including help to prevent cuts to Medicaid and creating or saving over 300,000 education jobs
Economists on the left and the right have stated that the Recovery Act has helped avert an even worse economic disaster.


“I realize that for every success story, there are other stories, of men and women who wake up with the anguish of not knowing where their next paycheck will come from; who send out resumes week after week and hear nothing in response. That is why jobs must be our number one focus in 2010.”
          -- President Obama


Now check this one out, thanks to my friend Nancy Giles of CBS and MSNBC New York:

From that report:
Individually, over half of the entire Republican caucus has hailed nearly every aspect of the stimulus as a success — from infrastructure funds, to food programs, to education grants. But politically, admitting its success might harm the GOP’s chances in November. So with Republicans fixated on winning politically, they have focused on deceiving the public by calling the stimulus a failure, while pretending successful programs aren’t stimulus funded.

In December, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the stimulus had successfully created up to 1.6 million jobs, and today, a report shows the Recovery Act will ultimately create 2.5 million jobs. Even the conservative American Enterprise Institute found that the stimulus had boosted the U.S. economy by 4 percent. 

House Republican leaders have fought to maintain partisan unity in their effort to kill the stimulus. And they were largely successful. Every single Republican in the House and every single Republican in the Senate — with the exception of Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), and then-Republican Sen. Arlen Specter — voted against the Recovery Act. By drawing a sharp distinction between Obama and the GOP, Republican leaders gambled on casting the stimulus as a failure in order to win elections in 2010. In a coordinated effort, Republicans have used every opportunity to attack the stimulus for allegedly failing to create “a single job.” A claim that is easily rebuted with facts, neutral and even conservative think tank estimates.

Last month, President Obama admonished Republicans for going to “ribbon cuttings for the same projects that you voted against.” It’s true: Last year, Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) appeared at a ribbon cutting event for GetAbout Columbia’s MKT Plaza, a pedestrian walking and recreation area funded by the stimulus.

Do you just take it or do you complain?

"They f--k you at the drive through"
-Lethal Weapon 2

You get home or to work, open you fast food bag and find you are short a burger, a taco, a burritto, beef or two pieces of chicken. McDonalds is the worst, in my experience, but other chains are not without their sins. What do you do?  Do you drive all the way back and complain, while your food gets cold? How much money do you spend over the course of your life that goes right to the profits of corporations because they do not train their employees properly or the employees do not care? What does this say about or overall society? And can you continue, in this recession, to take it without saying "I'm mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore!" (Network).

Kathryn Grayson

MGM Star leaves us at 88

Best known for MGM Movie Musicals, including "Kiss Me, Kate", singer and movie star Kathryn Grayson of the 1940s and 1950s has passed away at her home in Los Angeles in her sleep. 

Reuters, National Public Radio, the Associated Press, Kansas City Star and Los Angeles Times report that one of the first lady's of film muscials has passed away...Kathryn Grayson.

Born in North Carolina on February 9, 1922, Grayson was raised in Missouri in a family that loved music. She began singing when she was 8 years old, training to be a soprano in the opera. But as a 15-year-old, the diminutive brunette signed a contract with MGM after studio executives heard her sing. NPR reported that in her later years she returned to singing and performing Opera.

Sherman said Louis B. Mayer, the legendary studio boss at MGM, once told Grayson that if she went into the opera no one would know her, but if she stayed with movies, she would never be forgotten. "That certainly was true," Sherman said.

Grayson's first film role was in 1941's "Andy Hardy's Private Secretary" and other movies included "It Happened in Brooklyn" (1947) again opposite Sinatra, and "That Midnight Kiss" (1949) with Mario Lanza. She costarred with Howard Keel in "Showboat" and wowed Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly in "Anchors Away."

When the musical era began to fade in Hollywood, Grayson switched from films to stage and resumed her opera singing, where her career thrived.

She sang in Carnegie Hall and in 1962, replaced Julie Andrews in the Broadway version of "Camelot." Grayson toured with the stage show, breaking box office records and winning strong reviews for well over a year.

Grayson was married and divorced twice, the first time to actor John Shelton and second to actor/singer Johnnie Johnston, with whom she had a daughter.

Grayson is survived by her daughter, two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Will this recession ever end?

How will the Great Recession of 2009-2010 change America? The current issue of "the Atlantic" has the cover story titled "Recession's Long Shadow: how a new jobless era will ransform America" by Don Peck. This recession is unlike any since the Great Depression, in that it will have long term impacts on our attitudes, hopes and aspirations. It may also lead to 1960's type inner city and racial unrest, a perminant poor and lower class, a greater divide between the wealthy and those who see themselves as the middle class, the loss of a real middle class, sustaining relatively high rates of unemployment and a country willing to settle for second best, from their own possessions to our position in the world. Read the story and share your thoughts? Is is accurate? Can you add to the points it makes? Do you disagree? If so, on what and why?

Reid announced help for endangered homeowners

Job creation must be our top priority in Nevada. However, we can't expect to turn our economy around without addressing Nevada's foreclosure crisis.

And it is a crisis.

Right now, thousands of Nevada families are in danger of losing their homes, struggling desperately to keep their heads above water, and calling out for help. I want all Nevada homeowners to know, I hear those calls -- and I've been working with President Obama to tackle this crisis head on.

I am thrilled to announce that Nevada will be one of only five states to participate in a new foreclosure rescue program. This much needed relief will bring $100 million dollars into Nevada to help struggling homeowners rework their mortgages and stay in their homes.

This funding will be put right to work. It could provide "bridge loans" to help unemployed homeowners pay the mortgage until they land a job. Or even incentivize lenders to rewrite upside-down mortgages -- when a homeowner owes more than the home is worth.

What's certain is that this initiative is exactly what Nevada needs to provide assistance for thousands of families who desperately are in need of a break as they struggle to keep a roof over their heads. So, I hope you will join me in thanking President Obama for working with me on this crucial issue, and for coming to Henderson to talk with Nevadans today.

Over the past year the Recovery Act brought our economy back from the edge of a cliff, but there is still much work to be done. You can follow updates about my efforts to create jobs and get Nevada's economy moving on my website, on Twitter, and on Facebook. I hope you'll connect with us online today, because this campaign isn't about me, and it isn't about President Obama -- it's about you.

We still have a long way to go to create many more jobs and turn our economy around, but this important step will protect thousands of Nevada families from being forced from their homes -- and that's definitely good news in tough times.


Harry Reid