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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Buying your vote through lies, half truths and propaganda...

Traditional candidate based advertising, with full disclosure of donors and regulations to make it clear that the ad comes from and is approved by the candidate and their organizations, may be going the way of the dinosaur.

They may become unimportant or even priced out of the market by highly financed, secretive and yet "socially friendly" sounding special interests groups, immune (thanks to the Supreme Court) from any campaign financing or message reforms passed over the past 110 years.

Attacks on incumbents, Republicans in the primary and Democrats in the general, are not being financed by "the people" or "grass roots America" but by political interests groups, increasingly using shadow organizations with well meaning sounding names, set up exclusively to attack the Obama Administration and influence people into thinking that they are the voice of the "people".

Meanwhile ads for Democratic, and even Republican incumbents, tend to be financed by the campaigns and by legitimate Political Action PACS (such as unions, community groups and so on). These groups, unlike their counterparts, must disclose donations and sources. 

This puts Republicans, Tea Party and special interests at a strong advantage this election year but not in the way that most people think. They money is not primarily form the political party or any open honest movement or group.

The material below is from NPR's Morning Edition.

Most of the ads are negative, sponsored by ambiguously named organizations like "Americans for Job Security" (with their benign sounding but strongly anti-worker and American Jobs stand at a web site titled and "The Commission on Hope Growth and Opportunity."  [While the funds are used entirely for the defeat of Democratic candidates and incumbents, the mission sounds very "safe" "welfare" and states that the group, spending millions on ads is not a political committee.}

Who are those groups?

They are Americans for Job Security and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Both are 501(c)s, organized under the tax code as nonprofits.  Both must not pursue politics as their primary function? Both should not take money from foreign nationals for to promote foreign issues, by Federal law. Yet there is no donor disclosure required, not do they disclose the information in the one place where they are asked to disclose, the broadcast licence political advertising forms. Both spend nearily $100,000 per market in the US per week, millions in key states like Nevada
The law says they can't engage in politics as their primary purpose. It also says they can accept unlimited donations and don't have to report their donors. Couple that with the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, and you have a wide-open path for corporate money to flow into partisan politics.
That's what makes these ads different from those by party committees: Candidates and party committees have legal limits on the size of donations they can take from each donor, and they have to report the names and numbers of the donors and how much they gave. It gives context to the ad.

There's almost no context with the noncandidate, nonparty, supposedly nonpolitical groups. But they do have to disclose something — not to voters, but to the TV stations. And whatever they disclose to the TV stations, the stations must disclose to the public. It's the only way to track down how many ads these groups are running and just how much they are spending..

There are also many disclosure forms (see examples in box at NRP web Site) that give less than full disclosure; parts of the form are blank, and that's not atypical.

The group is required to fill in the name of the candidate that the ad is talking about, but it left the field blank. The ads it runs specifically mention the Democratic incumbents being attacked. The group is also supposed to declare whether the ad is talking about a national issue, and if it is, which candidates it names. Americans for Job Security left it blank.
Although the groups are filing their paperwork with stations, they are not taking it seriously. Some answer a few questions; most leave the important lines blank. It's an indication that TV stations can't act as a watchdog of these groups.
For most of these groups, there's almost nothing required in terms of donor disclosure. They can keep their funding sources comfortably hidden. But they are spending amounts of money that were unimaginable just a few years ago.
One group can easily spend $100,000 or more at one [small to medium market] station in a few weeks. Multiply that by four or five local stations in each area, and five or six groups spending at that level, and the amount of money flowing from secret sources to fund attack ads across the nation is easily in the hundreds of millions of dollars. [Look at Nevada, California and New York alone, where heated races have totaled close to or over 100 million in total expenditures by both sides].
The ads ...attacked candidates of both parties, but the ones attacking Republicans were all from Democratic candidates or party committees, groups that have to disclose their donors. Not one ad from the supposedly nonpolitical groups [with no disclosure requirements] attacked a Republican. All of those ads are aimed at Democrats.
This year, in the wake of Citizens United and other court decisions, corporations and rich donors can give as much cash as they like to these groups. But it's unclear who the groups are.
The series is on all week on National Public Radio news, with morning and afternoon separate stories and installments. The local Las Vegas NPR affiliate is KNPR 88-9 FM.

Thomas Friedman and 'How America Fell Behind'; why we refuse to acknowledge that our system is broken and must be fixed.

That Used To Be Us
How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back
Hardcover, 380 pages | purchase

Our system is broken, at doing what we invented, excelled at and lead the world at.
We posture for election, to collect the big money needed to run for office, rather than actually do the jobs we are charged with when we vote, work for a campaign or hold and office.
We point the finger at others rather than take actions needed to correct what needs to be corrected and do what needs to be done for change.
We think, live, vote and act as if it we were still in the 1970's.


‎"The moment you can visualize being free from the things that hold you back, you have indeed begun to set yourself free."---Unknown

Nevada’s boom and bust economy

From left -- Michael Landon as Little Joe, Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright and Dan Blocker as Hoss in the television series, "Bonanza." 1959-1973. Nevadans have been risk-takers, and sometimes losers, since the days of the Comstock Lode.

From Marketplace from American Public Media (click here). 

The north end of the Las Vegas Strip is full of unfinished projects that came to a halt during the housing bust and recession. The $4 billion Echelon Place was among them.
Las Vegas entrepreneur Andrew Donner is betting on a revival of the city's sketchy downtown. His company is bought the old city hall and is leasing it to Zappos.
A homeless man crosses Las Vegas Boulevard. The city's seen good times and bad times and is still struggling to recover from the recession.
Alex Epstein is executive manager of the 70-year-old El Cortez hotel and casino in Las Vegas. She and her family are investing in the downtown revitalization.

Kai Ryssdal: What I'm about to say probably isn't gonna go over too well inside the Washington beltway -- or, for that matter, in Florida today. But this year's presidential election isn't actually about the polls and the pundits and the horse race, and the who said what at which debate. It's about what matters most to you. How you're living, what your prospects are. What's happening in the real economy. So that'll be the crux of our election overage this year. We're gonna start by taking you to two states where the real economies are quite different -- differences that point out how big the challenge of getting the whole country healthy really is. We've picked Nebraska and Nevada. Nebraska because -- as you'll hear in a bit -- the recession passed almost unnoticed. And Nevada because dating back to the silver mines of the 1800s, it's no stranger to the cycle of booms and -- most recently -- busts.

Marketplace's Sarah Gardner starts us off in Las Vegas.

"Bonanza" TV clip: Hey Roy! Mr. Cartwright. Mr. Cartwright! Doggone it, you won’t have to worry about them critters of yours no more. The Thunderhead hit it big!
"Bonanza," now that was television. Ben Cartwright and his three rugged sons running the Ponderosa ranch, just a horse ride away from the rich Nevada silver mines, like the Thunderhead. Fictional Ben didn’t always trust the local mining barons. But in real life, those guys founded Nevada. Guys who gambled big on finding a bonanza of silver or gold.
Historian Bill Rowley says those men left a legacy of risk-taking here. It sounds bold and sexy, but it comes from desperation.
Bill Rowley: Because if you have a basically resourceless state, and you’re desperate, you’re going to probably take more risks than you would otherwise do.
Mix in a feisty libertarian streak and you’ve got a state full of people who like to gamble, and not just at the blackjack tables.
Las Vegas entrepreneur Andrew Donner is betting on a revival of the city’s old and, forgive me, sketchy downtown.
Andrew Donner: I’m really bullish on downtown.
Donner’s company just bought the old City Hall building here for $18 million. He’s going to rent the space to Zappos, the online shoe outfit. The idea? Get a hip company to move in -- and bam!
Donner: I really do believe that it’s almost impossible to move thousands of people downtown of the creative class and not have other things happen.
Nevada encourages this kind of chance-taking. No corporate income tax, no personal income tax. It’s easy to get politicians and other powerbrokers on the phone. Nevada business consultant Jeremy Aguero.
Jeremy Aguero: There’s also a regulatory environment that essentially allows a business owner the freedom to be a business owner with minimal interference from government.
Nevadans throw the word freedom around a lot, especially in Vegas where they happily sell the idea of "adult freedom" to tourists. And whether freedom leads you to lose a couple thousand bucks at the casino or buy a big house you really can’t afford, it’s all sort of tolerated. Some here even call it an addiction to risk.
Historian Michael Green.
Michael Green: You are taking the risk that you are going to find the gold. You are taking the risk that you are going to roll seven. And this reflects the economy today and what has gone right and now terribly wrong. The people who rolled the bones, so to speak, on a housing boom -- and it went bust.
That bust has left Nevada with the highest jobless and foreclosure rates in the country. And even though the tourists are back, they’re spending less. People got too greedy, folks here will tell you. They took on too much risk. But knowing how much is too much isn’t always clear, says entrepreneur Andrew Donner. Donner’s invested in casinos over the years, but doesn’t gamble. He saves that for business.
Donner: Well, you know casinos, you somewhat know the odds, and I think there’s something beautiful about being somewhat ignorant of your odds out in the business marketplace. You keep working and hopefully you win more than you lose.
In Las Vegas, Nevada, I’m Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.
"Bonanza" TV clip: Thunderhead’s up $80 a share! Yeah! Hey, $80 a share, pop! $80 a share. Now I’ve got some money of my own. Pa, I think he might be right.

About the author

Sarah Gardner is a reporter on the Marketplace sustainability desk covering sustainability news spots and features.

From Marketplace from American Public Media (click here).  

Talking Twin Babies - PART 2 - OFFICIAL VIDEO

Faster Red Box at Higher Prices. Murdock taps Education Leader. Seacrest helps Clear Channel become Multi-Media Empire. Shake Up at X-Factor.Product Placement on Spanish Language Television.

RedboxFamilyFrom the LA Times Company Town Blog. Click here for the latest industry news.
28 Day mandtoary Delay in DVD release ends. Warner Bros.' deal with Redbox has expired with the two companies still at odds over how long consumers should wait to rent DVDs for $1.20 a night.

As a result, kiosk rental company Redbox will have to buy Warner DVDs from retailers like Wal-Mart at a higher price but will no longer make customers wait 28 days after discs go on sale to rent them, as it did under a previous agreement with the studio.

The two sides were clashing earlier this month when Warner Bros. announced it would sell its DVDs and Blu-ray discs only to rental companies that agreed to wait until 56 days after they go on sale. Warner executives believe that the delay encourages consumers to buy DVDs and Blu-rays or rent movies via video-on-demand, both of which are more profitable transactions for the studio at a time when home entertainment revenue has been shrinking for years.

Two years ago, after a similar dispute, Redbox agreed to the 28-day delay in order to buy movies directly from Warner Bros. at a discount. But Redbox has concluded that 56 days is too long to make its consumers -- who often look for new releases in the red kiosks -- wait.

In a statement, Redbox senior vice president of marketing Gary Cohen said the company "will work to provide Warner Bros.' movies through alternate means." That will most likely mean buying the discs in bulk from retailers or other distributors who charge more than the studio when it sells directly.
A Warner Bros. spokesman fired back in a statement: "The consumer is best served by a windowing and pricing structure that ensures a healthy film business continuing to deliver quality movies. We hope to continue discussions with Redbox and reach a mutually agreed upon solution to this situation, but we fully intend to do what is best for our business, our consumers and the industry as a whole."
A person close to the matter but not authorized to speak publicly said the companies had continued talks in hopes of reaching a compromise throughout January. But the two sides could not find common ground and consequently don't currently plan on having more discussions.

Among other major retailers, Netflix agreed to abide by the 56-day delay, but Blockbuster has not, meaning it too will have to buy Warner discs from other sources.

Redbox currently has direct deals with all other Hollywood studios, but its agreement with Universal Pictures expires in April. Universal currently imposes a 28-day delay, and it's not yet known whether it will, like Warner, try to extend it longer.

The first Warner Bros. release that Redbox will have to acquire through "alternate means" is "A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas," which comes out on DVD on Feb. 7.

Separately, Redbox announced Tuesday that it extended a deal to feature its kiosks at 3,700 Wal-Mart stores through January 2015.

From Schools to Media Mogul Empire. The director of communications for the New York City Department of Education has been tapped by News Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch as the media mogul's chief of staff.

Natalie Ravitz will join News Corp. in about two weeks and report directly to Murdoch. Ravitz has close ties to Joel Klein, the former chief of education for New York City who joined News Corp. in 2010 as executive vice president and is a member of Murdoch's Office of the Chairman.

In an internal email to his staff, Murdoch said, Ravitz would help him "prioritize my commitments to align with key News Corp. initiatives."

The announcement comes just one day after News Corp. announced that Teri Everett, the head of corporate communications for News Corp., was resigning.

Everett's role is being filled by Julie Henderson, who had overseen West Coast communications for the media giant and is close to News Corp. president and chief operating officer Chase Carey. While Carey is based in New York, Henderson will split her time between Los Angeles and New York.

The appointment of Ravitz to a key post in Murdoch's inner circle shows the growing clout that Klein carries inside the corridors of the media company. Although Klein was hired to oversee News Corp.'s efforts to enter the education business, Murdoch has come to rely on his counsel on other matters, including the phone hacking scandal at News Corp.'s British newspaper division.

Before running the New York City public school system, Klein served as antitrust chief at the Justice Department and was previously chief executive of Bertelsmann Inc. Last year, Lon Jacobs, News Corp.'s longtime general counsel, left after bumping up against Klein. Earlier this month, News Corp. named Gerson Zweifach, a partner at the white-shoe law firm of Williams & Connolly, its new top lawyer.

Clear Channel gains Reality Show Mogul Ryan Seacrest. Ryan Seacrest and his radio show partner Clear Channel Communications are taking their relationship to the next level.

Not only have private equity funds controlled by Clear Channel's majority owners, Thomas H. Lee Partners (THL) and Bain Capital, have committed up to $300 million to acquire and develop propeties with Ryan Seacrest Media, the producer and television and radio personality's holding company, but Clear Channel is also taking a minority stake in Seacrest's production company.

“We aim to build Ryan Seacrest Media into a leading multimedia company with diversified assets and interests,” Seacrest said in a statement. Already the host of a radio show that airs on Clear Channel stations, Seacrest also hosts Fox's "American Idol and has a growing television production company whose credits include E!'s "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and ABC's "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.”

For Clear Channel, the investment in Ryan Seacrest Productions allows the radio giant, which wants to expand further into entertainment, to stay in business with the ubiquitous Seacrest even if the radio show eventually goes away. Seacrest has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Matt Lauer when the latter's contract is up on NBC's "Today" show. Such a gig would likely mean Seacrest either moving his radio show to afternoons or scrapping it.

“Ryan is an unmatched creative talent with success across more media platforms and involvement with a greater variety of programming and venues than anyone else in the industry,” said Bob Pittman, chief executive of Clear Channel.

Seacrest has also recently partnered with entrepreneur Mark Cuban and entertainment giant AEG on a new cable channel called AXS that will debut this year and focus primarily on covering the entertainment and music industries.
The X Factor is shaking things up
Photo: Pre-shakeup cast of "The X Factor." Credit: Nino Munoz / Fox  

Don't let the door hit you on the way out. Simon Cowell and the other producers of Fox's musical competition show "The X Factor" did some housecleaning Monday night. Officially gone from the show, which finished its first season without the spectacular ratings the network and Cowell expected, are host Steve Jones and judge Nicole Scherzinger. Unofficially gone is Paula Abdul, who of course worked with Cowell on the massive Fox hit "American Idol." Fox confirmed the exits of Jones and Scherzinger, but as of late Monday night not Abdul. The dirt from from Deadline Hollywood, which looks to have been first to say Abdul was toast along with Jones and Scherzinger. Additional coverage from the Hollywood Reporter.

The Daily Dose: Over the weekend, Sony Pictures unveiled plans to show fans advance footage from this summer's "The Amazing Spider-Man" in a very 21st century way, my colleague Ben Fritz informs us. Rather than "announcing" the screenings, which will take place in 13 cities worldwide on Feb. 6, the studio did their version of the Bat Signal and projected Spider-Man images in public locations, along with the address of a website where fans could order tickets (which sold out rapidly, natch). And for those wondering how Sony will differentiate July's reboot from the original "Spider-Man" movie just 10 years ago, the URL of the website selling the tickets shows that the studio is confronting that question head-on:

Oscar stunt. Jack Gill has pulled off a lot of big stunts in his career, but the biggest still eludes him. The veteran stuntman is trying to persuade the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to create an Oscar for the folks behind the big stunts in movies. "It's ridiculous that we're not honored," Gill, told the Los Angeles Times. "These films can't get made without stunt coordinators."

Do they get their own trailers too? Spanish-language network Univision is taking product placement to a new level in its new telenovela "El Talisman." Not only are Chevrolet products seen throughout the show, one even has a name, and another has its own website. More on how Chevy is driving "El Talisman" from Variety.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Patrick Goldstein on whether pro athletes are surpassing Hollywood stars in the eyes of the public. Concert promoters are optimistic about 2012.

-- Joe Flint and others

Follow me on Twitter. It makes me smile.
Photo: Pre-shakeup cast of "The X Factor." Credit: Nino Munoz / Fox

The end of privacy?

Free yourself

Whether you "are a PC" or a Mac geek, makes no difference. The slogan from Apple Computer should apply no matter what. Dare to think different, to disagree, to listen, to change, to grow, to experiment and create. Communication is organic and a key part of the process of feeing yourself by "thinking differently."


(students note that references in this posting are APA, which is the required reference source citation for the course sections I teach).

The Millennial Generation is the largest generation in history, with Baby Boomers leaving us as they age, and Millennials growing up into a significant political, economic and eventual power brokering generation. They may represent to their children the same obsticles that their parent sand grandparents represented to them, holding jobs and influencing power in ways that limit the voice of the next two generations that follow

Millennial students are now dominating college, universities, entry level jobs and much of the marketing target for the still youth centered media. They voted less in the 2010 election than 2008, are less likely to broadcast their politics and ideas (except on Facebook) and in many ways represent the largest shift in demographic make-up and power since the Eisenhower years gave birth to the Baby Boom.

To view the report and support material from other sources, plus a full reference list, click here.

Banner for this post is from PEW Trust...
Information form the PEW Research Center, click here.
Graphic below source, click here.