Friday, December 21, 2007

Cluster Huck: An Identity of Relation Quiz

"George H.W. Bush is to George W. Bush as Mike Huckabee is to __________?"

A: David Huckabee

Time's Up for NeoCons

The Scene:
* The office of Richard Stengel, Time Magazine's Managing Editor

Our Characters:
* Richard Stengel
* William Kristol
* Charles Krauthammer

Quiet on the set... ACTION!
Stengel: Bill. Charles. What do you think of your gigs here? Do you see yourselves continuing to write for Time next year?

Kristol: Sure.

Krauthammer: Definitely.

Stengel: Well, I'll be damned -- you guys are wrong about everything!
Aaaaand... SCENE!

Cut and print it. And don't worry -- we'll insert Saddam's WMDs and Iraq blossoming with Jeffersonian Democracy
during post-production.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Don't Let the Door Hit Ya Where the Dog Shouldda Bit Ya.

This holiday season, the Tribune Tower's cleaning crew will be working overtime to scrub the stench of failure from the executive offices.

From Trib Inc's LA Times:
Tribune Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Dennis J. FitzSimons is expected to announce his resignation as early as today, a person close to the company said Tuesday. The resignation would be the first departure of a top Tribune executive as the company prepares to go private under the leadership of Chicago businessman Sam Zell.

FitzSimons, 57, a 25-year veteran of Tribune, is in line to walk away with as much as $40 million, depending on the date on which he chooses to depart, according to corporate disclosure statements. ***

FitzSimons' potential payout could include severance of $10.7 million, stock options and restricted stock worth $6.9 million and a $4-million "gross-up," an additional payment designed to cover his taxes on the rest of the package. FitzSimons also owned 498,202 shares as of March 31, according to company documents. Those are worth $16.9 million at the price of $34 a share under the Zell buyout.
Just imagine how enormous FitzSimons payout would have been if he had had any success in the newspaper business.
FitzSimons' tenure as head of Tribune has been a troubled one. After joining the company in 1982 as sales director of WGN-TV in Chicago, he rose through the ranks of Tribune's television operations. He became CEO in 2003, three years after Tribune's acquisition of Times Mirror Co., the owner of The Times, and was named chairman in 2004. ***

FitzSimons had been instituting expense reductions across the company. But those actions created turmoil, especially at the newspapers. At The Times, two publishers and two editors resigned, the latter in opposition to staff and budget cuts ordered from Chicago headquarters. Similar turnover occurred at other newspapers in the chain.
Forty Million Dollars... Whew... That's a lot of scratch.

I'm fairly certain that I have the business acumen necessary to reduce a nationwide major media company to a mere "profit opportunity" for Sam Zell.

And I could have done it in half the time and for a mere $20 million bucks.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Waste Papers

From your Chicago Sun-Times:
The parent company of the Sun-Times Media Group plans to cut operating costs next year by $50 million -- or about 11 percent of total expenses -- in part through an unspecified number of layoffs.

Chief Executive Cyrus Freidheim Jr. said in an e-mail to employees Friday: "The company's financial results for the first nine months of this year have been well below plan and unprofitable."
Michael Miner, of the recently eviscerated Chicago Reader, says "about 40 jobs will be lost, a quarter of the editorial staff. And that's from a paper that had no fat to begin with."

Fortunately, the friendly folks at your Chicago Tribune is doing its part to make a gutted Sun-Times look like a value:
Starting Monday, Dec. 31, the newsstand price of the Chicago Tribune for the Monday through Saturday Chicagoland editions will increase from 50 cents to 75 cents. *** Home delivery subscription rates will rise slightly in 2008
In 2008, when Chicagoans hand to their news peddler a buck, they will face a choice: a) two copies of the cadaverous Sun-Times, b) 25 cents and a Trib, or c) a New York Times.

Good luck Sam Zell!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Global Warming, Pascal's Gambit and the Senior Senator from Arizona

Sen. John McCain:
Suppose that climate change is not real and all we do is adopt green technologies which our economy and technology is perfectly capable of, then all we've done is given our kids a cleaner world.

But suppose they're wrong and climate change is real and we've done nothing? What kind of a planet are we going to pass on to the next generation of Americans?
Reminds me of a time, oh so long ago, when I used to respect Sen. McCain.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

John Conroy on Chicago's Torture Payout

The Chicago Reader's ace investigative journalist, John Conroy talked to Democracy Now! about the unexpected delay on the City of Chicago’s $20,000,000 payout to four former death row prisoners tortured into confessions by Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and more than twenty officers who worked with him.
And the [delay], I don’t think, is terribly significant in the grand scheme of things. This case has been -- these cases were filed in 2003. And I don’t think that a month or two in the grand scheme of things is going to matter a great deal.

However, one complicating factor is that one of the former prisoners, who is now back in prison, Aaron Patterson, had signed a loan agreement based on—there are companies out there who make loans to people, highly speculative loans, high-risk loans, you might say, at verified interest rates, and Patterson took out one of these loans early on. I don’t recall the exact figure, but it might have been $50,000, and it’s now way up in the hundreds of thousands, perhaps nearing a million or more. So the longer there is a delay in settling Patterson, the higher the price tag could go. So that is one thing adding pressure on the Patterson people to settle and on the city to wrap it up.

I think it’s another month, and it will be wrapped up. The things that are blocking it right now weren’t that significant.
Conroy was also asked about his post-Reader plans:
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, John, you’ve been laid off?

JOHN CONROY: I was laid off last week. Four writers from the Reader were given the boot. We don’t fit into the future plans of the company which purchased the Chicago Reader last summer. The company is based in Florida.

AMY GOODMAN: What will you do now?

JOHN CONROY: I’m not sure.

Where Would Huckabee Get a Nutty Idea Like That?

Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee:
"Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the Devil are brothers?"
Jess L. Christensen, Institute of Religion director at Utah State University, Logan, Utah:
On first hearing, the doctrine that Lucifer and our Lord, Jesus Christ, are brothers may seem surprising to some -- especially to those unacquainted with latter-day revelations. But both the scriptures and the prophets affirm that Jesus Christ and Lucifer are indeed offspring of our Heavenly Father and, therefore, spirit brothers. Jesus Christ was with the Father from the beginning. Lucifer, too, was an angel “who was in authority in the presence of God,” a “son of the morning.” (See Isa. 14:12; D&C 76:25–27.) Both Jesus and Lucifer were strong leaders with great knowledge and influence. But as the Firstborn of the Father, Jesus was Lucifer’s older brother. (See Col. 1:15; D&C 93:21.)
Ensign, Jun 1986, 24–27

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I Don't Remember Learnin' Any of THAT in Sunday School

I can't imagine why Fundamentalist Christians would have a problem with Mitt Romney's Mormon "Christianity"...

Can you?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

At the Whitehouse, It Isn't Cream that Rises to the Top

Miss Teen South Carolina:
Asked why a fifth of Americans could not locate the United States on a world map, she stammered out an answer that made Paula Abdul’s worst “American Idol” moment seem like a model of cogency.

Her answer, in its entirety, was: “I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uhmmm, some people out there in our nation don't have maps and uh, I believe that our, I, education like such as, uh, South Africa, and uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uhhh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, should help South Africa, it should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future, for us.”
The White House Press Secretary:
Appearing on National Public Radio's light-hearted quiz show "Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me," which aired over the weekend, Perino got into the spirit of things and told a story about herself that she had previously shared only in private: During a White House briefing, a reporter referred to the Cuban Missile Crisis -- and she didn't know what it was.

"I was panicked a bit because I really don't know about . . . the Cuban Missile Crisis," said Perino, who at 35 was born about a decade after the 1962 U.S.-Soviet nuclear showdown. "It had to do with Cuba and missiles, I'm pretty sure."

So she consulted her best source. "I came home and I asked my husband," she recalled. "I said, 'Wasn't that like the Bay of Pigs thing?' And he said, 'Oh, Dana.' "
One is a dumb blond girl... the other is Miss Teen South Carolina.

The Cream Rises to the Top

When the cool kids ask, "Hey, man have you heard of the super-groovy comic that was named Time magazine's top graphic novel for 2007?" you can confidently reply, "Dude, I've been diggin' on them for years and years thanks to a certain deeply-disturbed pseudonymous blogger."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"Temporary" as in "Temporary Military Bases in Iraq"

From Romenesko:
Back in July, Doug Ray told his Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Ill.) staff that salaries would be reduced 5%, but that "we expect the 5% to be reinstated early next year." He now says the pay cut is permanent.

"We had hoped for a different outcome, but we believe this is the most prudent course of action. ...This was a difficult decision, but one that hopefully will eliminate the need for another round of layoffs and other significant cost cutting."
So don't forget to tip your paperboy.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Activists Assemble!

"What is an activist?"

Recently, there has been some talk in the left-hand corner of the DuPage blogosphere about who is an "activist" and what makes an "activist." Words and linguistic precision are hobby-horses of mine, so I thought I'd take a shot at what it means to be an activist.

So who are the Democratic activists in DuPage County?

The expansive definition of
activist could be defined thusly: "I'm an activist, you're an activist, we're all activists." Under this theory of activism, voting is the baseline. Anyone who does something more than voting -- letters to the editor, donating to a campaign, even mere blogging about progressive politics -- qualifies as an activist. This broad theory of "activist" offends no one, lets us all pat ourselves on the back and makes everybody feel like a Democratic hero.

And to a degree, of course, it is true -- bloggers and other progressive typists are, by definition, a kind of "activist".

But, in much the same way, Ant-Man is, by definition, a kind of "superhero."

Yes, friends, Ant-Man is a superhero.

Ant-Man has both a secret identity and the requisite fancy costume. Ant-Man has special powers; he can shrink down to insect size and has complete mastery of ants! And Ant-Man was even a founding member of the Avengers.

But while Ant-Man is definitely "a superhero," he is certainly not the most powerful, most inspiring or most effective of superheroes.

(To say that Ant-Man is to
the Avengers as Aquaman is to the Superfriends would require ignoring the fact that Aquaman was the monarch of the sub-sea nation of Atlantis. Now regardless of one's view of regency, King of Atlantis is a position of significance!)

Surely, nobody ever called the Avengers mansion in hopes that Ant-Man would answer the phone...
Hello, Avengers mansion?

Oh, thank God. The Masters of Evil are rampaging through the city and the Skrulls and Kree are threatening to invade Earth! Can you help us, Mister...

Mister Ant-Man? I'm talking to Ant-Man? Uh...

Oh, I know, I know, you're the fellow who can control ants... Umm... Is Iron-Man there?

Yes, yes, you can also shrink down in size... yes, I'm sure that would be very handy if I had locked my keys in my car, but the Earth is currently threatened by two alien armadas, so can I please talk to Thor?

Thor's not there, huh? How about Captain America?

No Captain America either? Hmm... How about the Vision or the Scarlett Witch?

No? Uh, Mr. Ant-Man, do you happen to know the phone number for the Fantastic Four?
Face facts true believer, although Ant-Man is definitely a "superhero," not all "superheroes" are created equally. Similarly, not all "activists" are the same.

When the Earth faces four-color doom, mankind turns to true superheroes like Thor, Iron-Man or Captain America. In the same way, when the Democratic party is in its hour of need, its hope lies with not just any "activists", its hope lies with Grassroots Activists.

And while DuPage County has been blessed more Democratic "activists" of late, the fine folks with Turn DuPage Blue have distinguished themselves as not just any kind of activists, they are Grassroots Activists.

They don't just understand the importance of grassroots progressive campaigning; they brought Camp Paul Wellstone's grassroots campaign training to DuPage County.

They didn't just see that DuPage desperately needed more Democratic precinct committeemen; they beat the bushes to identify Democrats who would step up and fill those slots.

They not only understand the importance of boots on the ground,
they have been the boots on the ground for Democratic candidates in DuPage County. Including the most successful Democratic campaign in DuPage County's recent history.

I grant that the grassroots activists in Turn DuPage Blue may not be ready to join Thor and Iron-Man battling
the time-traveling menace of Kang the Conqueror; but through their ambition and accomplishments in the interests of electing Democrats in DuPage County, these grassroots activists have proven that, at the very least, they aspire to true heroism.

And of course, like the Avengers, Turn DuPage Blue has Vision.


National Novel Writing Month is completed. SCAM hint: War and Peace times Ulysses plus a Wise Cracking Robot equals Best-Selling Literature! (And an almost certain Pulitzer nomination)

Regular blogging resumes immediately.


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