Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Media's Change of Guard

I thoroughly enjoy the political e-mail conversations/debates I have with three good friends of mine growing up. Two I would consider very liberal, the other pretty conservative (of the Heritage Foundation ilk). After a conversation on whether or not O'Reilly and Hannity have any intelligence I decided to retort with a longer response on the future state of the media. The piece is unedited and very raw, yet I thought I would share it here as it may be of interest to some.


Looking at the current media environment I think partisan media will only grow. If you look at communications and media historically partisan and opinionated news sources dominated. The period between WWII and the 2000 elections, where the ethics and standards of journalism was held in the upmost esteem, was a historically anomaly. This period was possible due to the incredible profit margins the networks, print and radio outlets had as the cost of distributing information went radically down due to new technologies (broadcast and print ad revenue with a growing affluent readership).

The profit margins are gone. Technology has grown so rapidly it has enabled an entire new medium of communication that is free to deliver -- the internet. Not only is it free it is incredibly fast. Why would I pay and wait for information when I can get it free and quicker online?

Daily newspapers are simply fucked. They will never make up the ad revenue online. The transaction cost for people to search for favorite sources of information online is very minimal. People will naturally look for information that conforms to their world view as it provides greater satisfaction. For evidence not only have the daily circulation numbers crashed, the New York Times corporate debt is now rated as junk and the Christian Science Monitor dropped its daily print edition and became a weekly. If a non-profit can't make it times are really bad.

With those will go the high standards for journalism, unfortunately. Newspapers especially will be in a desperate search to preserve market share, if they survive at all. Rebranding oneself as a paper that "thinks like I do" may be their only salvation outside of some of the elite papers (WSJ, Financial Times, New York Times).

Welcome to the new era of tabloid, partisan journalism. Our only salvation is more sites like TPM and similar right-wing sites find a new audience that is willing to pay for investigative journalism.


The better question here is what does this mean for democracy? As communities grow more uniform (Santa Barbara elite liberals, suburban Orange County conservative), is the nature of bipartisanship essentially doomed? Don't blame the politicians -- blame the voting public!

My biggest concern here is that people stop thinking analytically on how to best solve problems and resort to familiar political rhetoric to feel they belong to something. A spirit of bipartisanship leads to better solutions as people are forced to negotiate out of their often narrow political convictions.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Bloomberg 2012

I think there is a real possibility Mike Bloomberg will be our first Jewish POTUS in 2013. Although this sounds rather absurd at first hear me out:

1. We are on the brink of a severe recession. Opinions range from the extremely pessimistic Nouriel Roubini, who recently stated “we are literally one step away from collapse of entire financial system and even the corporate system," to Warren Buffett, who told Charley Rose this week "in my adult lifetime I don't think I've ever seen people as fearful, economically, as they are now... The economy is going to be getting worse for a while." Even Goldman Sachs came out with a report this week stating the recession will be "significantly deeper" than expected and the unemployment rate will rise to 8 percent by the end of the year (the current rate is 6.1 percent). Scary, scary stuff.

2. President Obama -- yes he is going to win -- will be facing a horrible political situation. The promised government programs he is campaigning on right now are not going to happen. We will not have the money. How much more can we borrow from foreign creditors -- especially if the current bailout does not work? Obama will probably move forward reregulating the economy, which will hinder our countries ability to grow out of the impending recession.

3. Voters in 2012 will truly be looking for change. I believe voters will blame the GOPpers for getting us into the impending severe recession and will be impatient with Obama as his public policies fail to turn around the economy. Voters will be looking for systematic change -- not just a change in parties. By self-financing his campaign as an indepedent Bloomberg will be able to brand himself as a economic expert not beholden to corporations or unions.

The base of the Democratic Party will end up taking the party and Obama too far left in the next four years, creating a nice sweet spot for Bloomberg to run as a true centrist. The American public, as much as many progressives don't want to admit this, will not vote for a FDR big government liberal -- even in the case of a severe recession. Of course voters will tilt leftward when voting for the POTUS in such a scenario. However, the American public has changed significantly since 1932. Not only is stock ownership more widespread, we have the example of the Soviet Union to demonstrate that government does a horrible job of trying to "manage" the economy.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Biden/Palin IV

Overall: Considering how low expectations were of Palin she did alright. Biden completely won the debate on policy and knowledge, yet Palin may come out ahead because she didn't completely embarrass herself -- she didn't leave the podium crying that the "elite media" was out to get her.

Ifill did an awful job moderating the debate. She asked horrible follow up questions. It seemed like she was scared of coming across as out to get Palin than she clammed up for 90 minutes.

Observations 70-120 minutes:
- Biden killed the question on how he would be different than an Obama adminstration. Great job.
- "Team of mavericks." 'God' help us all if Palin becomes POTUS.
- Palin completely bullshitted her way through education. She said absolutely nothing of substance.
- I'm glad to see Biden took on McCain's maverick status head on with 7 minutes left. This was the most important moment of the debate IMHO.

Biden/Palin III

Foreign Policy Bottom line: Biden, by essentially debating with McCain and not Palin, just destroyed the Alaskan governor in the foreign policy part of the debate. In fact, Palin looks ridiculous when talking about foreign policy. It is simply incredible just how unbelievably unprepared she is to be the VP. Unreal...

Observations (Foreign Policy)

- Biden did a great job communicating the Dem ticket's Iraq policy. Dude is en fuego 47 minutes in.
- She is obsessed with talking about Israel. Governor, you realize there is more to U.S. foreign policy than Israel? Right....?
- 20 minutes in and Palin finally gets a hit. Calling Biden out for voting for the war prior to being against it. "America craves straight talk."

Policy (Foreign Policy)
- Palin has no policy thoughts here beyond talking points (which I doubt she really understands). Thus I have little say here.
- Biden is spot on the Ahmadinejad does not control Iran -- the mullahs do. In fact,
Ahmadinejad is not even in the top 15 most powerful political figures in the country.
- Wow, that is incredible. Three weeks of funding Iraq is equal to 7 years in Afghanistan. That is incredible. The most suscinct point I have ever heard how the current POTUS completely took his eye off the ball.

Biden/Palin II

Thoughts 15 minutes through 45 minutes (Domestic Issues)
- Great job by Palin to call out Biden's stupid comment that the rich paying higher taxes is "patriotic."
- Palin must be either on speed or chugged a gallon of coffee before the debate. Not only is she speaking super fast, every time they show her legs she can't stop moving.
- "Ultimate bridge to nowhere." This line had more potential yet Biden should have slowed down his tempo before unleashing the comment.
- Biden is coming across as a 19th century populist. Granted, I've never been a fan of his big-government beliefs. However, playing this role allows Obama to seem more centrist and safe to the white U.S. electorate.
- 24 minutes in. Palin addresses her own limitations head on by saying "I've only been at this five weeks and haven't promised anything..." Effective response.
- Check out CNN vs. PBS on HD. Palin and Biden look much better on PBS. Both have a darker tone on PBS, real bizarre. Besides, CNN has too much crap going on on the screen in HD.
- Palin is settling down 30 minutes in. She looks real confident and secure talking about an issue (one of the only issues) she knows about... drill baby drill?
- However, she clearly knows little about climate change. I think this is Biden's best moment in the debate so far. Dude has a mastery of this issue and has a great response to Palin.
- Interesting Palin brought in a comment where Biden mentioned rape. That's a bit aggressive.

- Biden on taxes... "it's fairness." No Joe, a taxation system should not be about "fairness." It should be about collecting revenues as effeciently as possible with as little damage to the economy as possible.
- Palin seems to believe that man's activities is not the primary driver behind climate change. Seriously Governor? She is incredibly weak on this issue. Just wow.
- "Clean green natural gas." Really Governor? Nice eyebrow raise. Althought it is better than coal, it is hardly clean nor green.

Biden v. Palin I

Bottom line: Palin is effective so far connecting as "somebody like me" -- which is really underrated in all communication plans.

- I still don't believe Gwen Ifill didn't disclose to the McCain campaign that she was writing a book that included Obama in the title that was to be released on inauguration day next year. Full disclosure? Ifill clearly believes this applies to the people she covers.

Thoughts through 15 minutes
- Palin looks great in black.
- What's up with Biden's eyes? It looks like the make-up job stopped short of his lower eye lid. Bizarre
- Palin looks more confident than I thought she would 8 minutes in. Nice wink after responding to Biden's call out of McCain's comments that the economy remained strong.
- She is speaking way, way too damn fast. Still is still a little -- no very -- nervous.

- Does anybody really care what Biden is saying? Everybody is far more interested to see if Palin implodes.