Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Michael Moore Solution

Moore’s latest comment on the auto industry bailout is well worth reading, which you can do if you click here.

You’ll see that Moore is pretty skeptical about the auto industry and also scathing about the treatment Congress handed out to the leadership of that industry at the hearings.

“Two weeks ago, the CEOs of the Big 3 were tarred and feathered before a Congressional committee who sneered at them in a way far different than when the heads of the financial industry showed up two months earlier. At that time, the politicians tripped over each other in their swoon for Wall Street and its Ponzi schemers who had concocted Byzantine ways to bet other people's money on unregulated credit default swaps, known in the common vernacular as unicorns and fairies."

What particularly caught my attention was one of his suggested solutions to the crisis.

"You could buy ALL the common shares of stock in General Motors for less than $3 billion. Why should we give GM $18 billion or $25 billion or anything? Take the money and buy the company! (You're going to demand collateral anyway if you give them the "loan," and because we know they will default on that loan, you're going to own the company in the end as it is. So why wait? Just buy them out now." 

Of course this is not a complete solution, since buying only the extant stock leaves the companies, particularly GM, on the brink of financial collapse.  Ownership of voting stock, rather than simply Warrants, gives you greater corporate control through seats on the board of directors. Yes, the tax payers still have to invest billions in GM, but they are investing in a company they own. If the nation's wisdom comes to be that the company should go public then the shares can be sold.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Black Friday Experiment

Here's the story- it's really very intuitive. If you've been using Dos/Win 3.1/and assorted other Windows iterations it will be no problem at all.
Well, maybe, but I've been using Bill Gates products since 1985.

I promise, I really do, that I will learn to use a mouse pad. In the meantime it's me for the mouse.

I have had the same Fujitsu Laptop for almost seven years. Bits and pieces have stopped working or required amateur tinkering in the sub basements of the operating system.

So yesterday I went Mac. I have managed to get on line and set up my mail (finally.) I'll publish this and then try to turn this devil off. (Just kidding) I'm as happy as a clam in the mud.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Socialism? Yes, Please!

One of the fear memes of the recent Republican campaign was the terrifying aspect of the Socialist bogeyman, lurking like some anarchist bomb thrower ready to blow us all into the gray monotony of a classless society.

I have always suspected that the people who appeal to the “threat of Socialism” are using the word ‘socialism’ the way we sometimes use the word ‘Nazi’—as an indicator of our own state of extreme, frenzied, and emotional disapproval. I don’t think that used in this context the word has any objective denotation at all; it’s just a big “boo word.” It’s like calling someone a S—t Head.

These folks wouldn’t recognize a socialist if one bit ‘em on the ass.

“Some socialists advocate complete nationalization of the means of production, distribution, and exchange; while others advocate state control of capital within the framework of a market economy. Social democrats propose selective nationalization of key national industries in mixed economies combined with tax-funded welfare programs.”

The first sort of socialism, the complete nationalization of production, distribution, and exchange was the path that failed in the Soviet Union, but the socialism of the modern Social Democratic movements has, on balance, been successful.

It’s been successful here in the United States, the two most prominent examples of which are Social Security and Medicare. In addition there is the complex network of social safety net programs, two examples of which are unemployment insurance and legislation governing worker health and safety.

It is not Socialism we have to fear, but the kind of Capitalism that is the mirror image of Soviet socialism-- the unregulated robber baronage that has got us into out present economic difficulties.

More to come.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Don't Go, Governor!

I urge everyone to contact Governor Napolitano, asking her to continue to serve the people of Arizona as Governor. Given the state of Arizona's legislature and the specter of a Republican governor we clearly need her here. (Incidentally,this will be an excellent platform from which to launch a 2010 US Senate campaign, should she wish to run.)

The full mailing address is:
The Honorable Janet Napolitano
Governor of Arizona
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, Arizona 85007

Telephone (602) 542-4331
Toll Free 1-(800) 253-0883
Fax (602) 542-1381
On her website ( there is a form for e-mailing her.

Suggestion: it is hard to avoid noticing paper correspondence, which spills out of fax machines in abundance. If possible I suggest you fax the governor.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Submissive Democrats give Lieberman a Pass

Oops, that should have been "Senate Democrats."

Just when I was about to re-register as a Democrat the Senate Democrats wuss out on Lieberman. Guess I’ll remain a progressive Independent.

Let’s see. The Democrats control the House, the Presidency, and with or without old Mr. Sanctimony have a majority in the Senate. Lieberman ran as an Independent after he was rejected by the Democrats of his state and then campaigned with the Republicans.

Let him caucus with the Republicans and good riddance.

Two short quotations from today’s Salon are spot on:

Nov. 19, 2008 | WASHINGTON -- If you ever happen to find yourself accused of serious wrongdoing -- publicly betraying your friends and colleagues, say, or maybe something like a federal felony conviction -- forget about a jury of your peers. What you're really looking for is a jury composed entirely of members of the United States Senate.

Both of Tuesday's big winners would seem to be ideal candidates for some kind of harsh punishment: Lieberman, for not just endorsing John McCain but putting down Barack Obama as just "a talker" and other deprecating remarks, and campaigning for the reelection of Senate Republicans. And Stevens, for hiding a quarter million bucks in "gifts" from businessmen.

Friday, November 14, 2008

After Word


I guess that’s a real word. I imagine it shares roots with the French word, “prolificeur:” One who writes much and writes frequently. There is, I believe, a German expression, “prolificheit,” used to characterize frequent publication.

I gather that one of my favorite prolificheitmeisters, x4mr over at Sustainability, has been taken to task for not writing as much, or as frequently, as his devoted readers could wish.

His defense of publishing episodes (following Gauss) that are “few but ripe” is well taken; as is his reminder that most of us in the blogosphere are amateurs---folks who do this for the love of it. For a variety of reasons we have volunteered for the duty, which has to be squeezed into days filled with the ordinary demands of are our rich, full, lives.

I hope Matt will continue his detailed and thoughtful writing. But once a week is plenty.

Having Nothing to Say

Or, rather, having nothing to say that isn’t already being said, it has seemed to me that a decent respect for the patience of my readers required a measured and respectful silence.

I confess to a writer’s pride. I fancy myself a master of a style once described as “elegant Victorian snottiness,” but when everyone is writing that the emperor is jay-bird naked what more is there to be said?

Political Irony

The neo-con Republicans wanted to shrink government until it could be dragged into the bathroom and drowned in the tub. Americans so despised the Bush regime that they shrank the Republican Party instead. We have dragged it into the bathroom, now let’s fill the tub.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Tucson Precinct 56

Katherine and I got up at five this morning and hustled off to our Orange Grove School polling place. Arrived at 5:30 to find that we were not the first in line. There were two ahead of us.

When the polls opened there were 56 people in line. When we finished voting there was an even longer line than when we went in. Poll workers seemed to know their stuff although they were a tad slow.

Met District 26 legislative candidate Don Jorgensen out at the 75 foot limit- palm carding.

NY Times reports first election victory for Obama. He carries Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, 15 to 6.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Sarah's Mind

While waiting for news of fresh financial disasters I thought Data Porters might get a chuckle out of this. It was sent to me in an e-mail.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Live Blogging: Retirement's Collapse

I had intended to live blog about today's market. In the end I couldn't do it, hypnotized by the stock ticker. So I settle here for the close, as the Dow tumbles down more than 500 points. That's a 5.11% decline in value for the Dow Industrials. Things are worse for the S+P 500 and the Nasdaq, where losses are 5.74% and 5.80% respectively.

A friend of mine commented the other day that when everyone is panicking it might just be rational to panic too. The downturn is being fueled by the anxiety of retirees who are quite rationally judging that they may not have the time to hold fast.

Traditional wisdom is always that the investor should stay invested, waiting for the turnaround. Many elderly retirees probably hear time's winged chariot hurrying too near for such dallying. They're outa here! . (Interesting Reuters story about that: click)

On a personal note, echoed by other members of our local Geezeropolis, we have postponed projects and purchases we had planned before our retirement nest egg had dropped 30% in value. This behavior is another way in which local merchants and tradesmen are going to pay the price for the economic policies of the Republicans.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Now the Bailout Fun Begins

There's a wonderful line in one of the Nancy Drew mysteries. A group of her girlfriends are hanging out, waiting for Nancy, when she shows up in her convertible. One of them shouts, "Hurrah, girls, now the fun begins! Here comes Nancy Drew!"

A spooky echo of that line has been running through my head: "Hurrah girls (and boys) now the fun begins! Here comes Henry Paulson!"

I have to say this whole financial disaster appeals mightily to my deep-seated capacity for schadenfreude. This is very even-handed of me since it looks like I'm going to have to bend over, along with all of you, and firmly grasp my financial ankles.

The disaster is far from over, and here's why. The foxes got in the hen house, but now it seems that the only creatures that can administer the bailout are the foxes themselves.

The companies, like Legg-Mason, who have the manpower and the expertise to supervise the bailout are really located on both sides of this deal. On the one hand they have an interest in arranging the sale of worthless mortgage securities for the highest possible price; on the other hand it is to our best interest to pay as little as possible. Which interest is going to be most compelling? You betcha!

A Light-Hearted Romp in Tucson

I went to Arizona Theater Company's "Enchanted April" last night. It was a light-hearted romp by New York actors set in examples of simply terrific stagecraft.

ATC audiences adore great sets. They prefer light-hearted romps. They enjoyed the show. Well, why not? It was Georges Feydeau produced by David Belasco.

It makes some of us yearn for the days of ATC's predecessor.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Social Security and The Bailout

I hope the current Wall Street flap has put paid to the financial weasels' suggestion that we privatize Social Security. Aw, they so wanted to be of help managing our retirements. For a fee, of course.

Sure, it's a good idea to save regularly for emergencies and retirement.

But if you've been too busy living from paycheck to paycheck to build up a private retirement stash you’ll be glad for your socialized retirement plan and your socialized medical program.

In your "golden years" Social Security and Medicare are your only safety net.

Monday, September 29, 2008

House Rejects Bailout

What we're seeing is the capitalist system slowly devolving as a result of its internal contradictions. It begins to seem that a debt-based capitalism, one that only survives by borrowing money, is like the one-industry town where everyone lives by doing the other guy's laundry.

Doesn't it seem that if there is something wrong with our debt-ridden financial system it is simply a mistake to prop it up by more borrowing from ourselves and foreign governments? We are becoming our own loan sharks. What happens when we can no longer pay ourselves the vig? I suppose we break our own kneecaps.

Let's postpone the "bailout" for ninety days. There's plenty of money in the system. The problem is that the financial industry is sitting on it hoping that the government will print more so it doesn’t have to risk its own.

NY Times Story

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tucson Notes

Looking Back

Happy Birthday to Me!

I understand it's a matter of profound indifference to most of you who stumble on The Data Port in Lefty Blogs, but I’m 79 years old today. There is no particular virtue in being old; no wisdom bestowed by age that recommends what is written here. Still, the memory of those years does much to inform what I believe and write about. Getting clear about all that is what these occasional Looking Back pieces will be about as I sweep into my Eightieth year.

I have lived, in accord with an old Chinese curse, in interesting times. I actually remember events that many (or perhaps most?) of the inhabitants of this small slice of the blogosphere know only as 'history.'

My life is bracketed by two great financial collapses: the stock market crash of 1929, and our current financial system disaster. I was only a month old on Black Monday, October 28. The next day, Black Tuesday, a record 16.4 million shares were traded and at one point the ticker tape fell two and a half hours behind. While I was asleep in my crib the Great Depression had begun.

I had meant to comment about the information meeting on possible annexation by Tucson of a parcel of land north of River Road. Other stuff came up. I think the city officials knew that dog wasn’t going to hunt, but they had to respond to a request made by a resident in the area.

Foothills people fear over-building, which they believe city zoning will make inevitable. Ironically, as soon as the CC&Rs on granddad's three and a half acres expire the folks up here tend to break the property into smaller parcels and build houses.

Downtown Saturday Night

I went. I’ll probably go again. It seemed thin.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

While Tucson Watched the Debate

I went to the Rogue Theatre's wonderful production of Luigi Pirandello's "Six Characters in Search of an Author."

Six Characters is a play that most actors have heard of and some Lit Majors have actually read, but no one has had an opportunity either to act in or to see performed. It is precisely the sort of play that the Rogue Theatre has made one of their priorities to present.

Six Characters is a thinker's play, the sort of theatre that invites a post performance bottle of wine (or in my case two martinis) and a long discussion with friends about (among other things) the nature of theatrical reality.

When you enter the Zuzi Theatre a group of local actors are lounging on stage waiting for their director to arrive and begin the rehearsal. Soon a family of mysterious Characters arrive and ask the actors to tell their story.

You’ll soon realize that Six Characters is more than a 'think' piece; you’ll be riveted by the dreadful things that are going to be revealed about these characters.

The show is crisply paced (not always the case with Rogue productions) thanks to the marvelous direction of David Morden and a fresh translation/adaptation by U of A professor Patrick Baliani. I was specially tickled by sly insider references to past Rogue shows, a gentle dig at ATC’s hiring practices, and a couple of references to traditional Rogue rehearsal practices that only a former Rogue performer (as I am) would catch.

Finally, let us praise whatever gods or benefactors are responsible for the new seats in the Zuzi Theatre.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Republican Bailout Plan

Shrink the economy until it's small enough to drown in the bathtub.

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime

Here's a great quote from a Huffington Post story on the bailout debacle.

"Bush is no diplomat," said a Democratic staffer, "but he's Cardinal freaking Richelieu compared to McCain. McCain couldn't negotiate an agreement on dinner among a family of four without making a big drama with himself at the heroic center of it. And then they'd all just leave to make themselves a sandwich."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tucson Downtown Saturday Night

These Downtown Saturday night events used to be a regular feature of Tucson nightlife. I'm not sure why they were discontinued. Maybe they were too threatening to the suits; all those freaks, ya know.

This see
ms like a tailor-made opportunity for some spontaneous street theater protesting whatever you have to protest. I'll be there; maybe with a sign. With or without signs this is a good chance to mix with your neighbors.

Here’s t
he announcement from the Downtown Tucson Organization.

Saturday, September 27
6:00pm. FREE

Join us Downtown for an evening of free arts and entertainment. Take a stroll down Congress Street and experience live music, DJs, street performers, vendors, multi-media visuals, gallery openings and more. It’s all happening Downtown, Saturday Night, September 27.

Flam Chen

Fire and stilts spectacular!
Don't miss Flam Chen’s Downtown Saturday Night special performance of "Critical Stilts" at 9:30pm.

Live Music

Downtown Saturday Night live music at various locations along Congress Street:

6:00-7:00pm - Tender Strings
6.30-7.30pm - Low Ones
7:00-8:00pm - Carlos Solorzano
7:00-9:00pm - Stefen George
7.30-9.30pm - Beatnik Dream Vacation
8:00-9:00pm - Leila Lopez
9:00-10:00pm - Cassette Culture

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hey, Congress-- Stay on the Job!

It looks like Congress is going to be panicked and rushed to action on the bailout. There seems to be an indecent desire to adjourn on Friday so it can get back on the campaign trail.

Frankly, my dears, some of us won't give a damn about your re-election if you screw this up.

There is an interesting short comment to today's NY Times column by David Brooks:

"After being told we were doomed unless we handed over absolute authority to the President to wage war on Iraq, now we are told we are doomed unless we hand over unprecedented power to the Treasury Secretary. Don't be fooled again.

I have another term for the merger of government and corporations - it was done once before when people were told to ignore checks and balances and just to trust their leader, and it was called National Socialism."

— Scottsdale Jack, Scottsdale, AZ

Scottsdale Jack nails it!

Post Script: Write your Representative. I did.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pssst...Hey, Buddy,You Wanna Buy some Derivatives?

Our masters in Congress are running around in ever tightening circles, bewildered by the disaster brought on by a Republican philosophy of non-regulation on the one hand, and Democratic inaction on the other.

Well, never you mind. After 48 hours of the deepest thought Washington’s financial wizards have done an end run around Congress and come up with a plan to solve the last financial crisis…a version of the Resolution Trust Corporation.

Hang on to your hats, gang, this ain’t your father’s RTC. Back in the day the RTC simply took over the properties of the failed Savings and Loan banks. That stuff had real value… land and buildings. This time around the suggestion is that we save Wall Street by actually buying all the phony paper it holds. (Bargain price half a trillion rapidly depreciating dollars.)

Two problems: No one knows exactly what that paper is worth, and there seems to be no notion of what to do with it once we own it.

Maybe we could use it to paper the National Outhouse.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wall Street Cooks the Books

Where were the “quants” when we needed them? The “quants” were the quantitative analysts: economists and computer techies, whose job it was to warn a banking firm's traders of risk. They were there, but they were systematically undermined by bankers with deals too rich to ignore.

In an article on the technology pages of the New York Times for September 18th Saul Hansell writes:

They (the “quants”) were developing systems that would comb through all the firm’s positions, analyze everything that might go wrong and estimate how much it might lose.

As a mater of fact the computer models did a pretty good job of alerting financial institutions to risk. The bankers were now in a tough position.

Top bankers couldn’t simply ignore the computer models, because after the last round of big financial losses, regulators now require them to monitor their risk positions. Indeed, if the firm’s models say a firm’s risk has increased, the firm must either reduce its bets or set aside more capital as a cushion in case things go wrong.

According to Gregg Bermann, co-head of Risk Metrics, a risk management software company quoted in the NY Times article:

There was a willful designing of the systems to measure risks in a certain way that would not necessarily pick up all the risks. They wanted to keep their capital base as stable as possible so that the limits they imposed on their trading desks would be stable.

As Hansell says,

Lying to your risk-management computer is like lying to your Doctor. You just aren’t going to get the help you really need.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Well, not a glass steagall, more like a paper steagall. As a matter of fact no steagall at all. Oh-my-God! I just love it. I wish I were sorry to be thinking, “I told you so,” but I can’t help myself.

In case you don’t know about Glass Steagall let me remind you:

The Glass-Steagall Act is the Depression-era law that separated commercial and investment banking. It was functionally repealed in 1998, when Travelers (the parent company of Salomon Smith Barney) acquired Citicorp. And it was officially repealed in 1999. But recent events on Wall Street-the failure or sale of three of the five largest independent investment banks-have effectively turned back the clock to the 1920s, when investment banks and commercial banks cohabited under the same corporate umbrella.
--Daniel Gross, Newsweek

“Trust us,” said the members of he financial ruling class, “we’re too smart to get into trouble, too responsible to need regulation.” Yeah, sure. As always in a class war it’s the little guys who get screwed.

One bright note: It may cost us 85 billion, but at least we have a socialized insurance company to show for it. That’s a good first step.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Twilight of the American Empire

If anything can be said to characterize this period in the history of the American Empire it is the faint sweet smell of decay, the aroma of something barely nosed out behind the curtains of our public and private lives. It is the way an Empire in decline begins to smell.

As a people we have become spiritually feverish and anxious, only dimly aware (if at all) that we are sick yet, somehow, responding to that half-sensed odor by questing after distraction and emotional excitation. Thus we hide ourselves from the truth.

Americans have never been a particularly introspective people; our thought has always been directed outward, toward the world. We have been engineers, pragmatists. At least by the myths we employ to understand ourselves and others it is the French to whom we attribute the inward turning of thought: Think Descartes.

When I look about today I can’t help but think of Rome: Bread…circuses… and Caesar’s royal circlet sold to the highest bidder; political destinies sold to the corn merchants.

Some weeks a go a friend looked up from his coffee and after a pause in our conversation said, “There is no honor any more.” Then just a few nights ago someone turned to me and asked, “Don’t we care about facts anymore?”

If there is a public life without honor anything is thinkable; and in a public life in which facts are less important than emotions and attitudes, the thinkable becomes attainable.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Rodeo Clown

Progressive Blogospherians would be well served to remember the true function of Sarah Palin in this campaign. Only in part is she the Republicans’ attack dog…a pit bull in petticoats. Her major function is to be the Republicans’ Rodeo Clown. While we are busy chasing the clown we miss the opportunity to put a horn in our true enemies

Palin is not an important issue. She is what she is…so move on. (Correct her lies when and where necessary, but without mentioning her, her religious beliefs, or her mothering skills.) Neo-Conservative Republicanism is the issue and the continuing threat.

Warning: Mixed metaphor ahead!

The Progressive Blogosphere reminds me of a nest of scorpions surrounded by a ring of burning straw. They thrash around stinging themselves in a frustrated fury, but they are not attacking a real enemy and they are not breaking out.

We lefty bloggers have a tendency to preach to ourselves when we should be out in the streets. Or, if revolutionary action is not your cup of tea, at least have a coffee for some of your friends and neighbors and remind them of the ways in which neo-conservative Republicanism has been a catastrophe for America.

You’d be surprised how many of your neighbors do not realize the true dimensions of our nation’s disaster.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Precinct 56 Report

I got up early this morning to celebrate Primary Election Day by actually going to the polls. I have no sympathy with voting by mail. I believe in the secret ballot but I also believe that the act of voting should be public.

I like to walk up to my polling place, say hello to my fellow citizens, and “witness” my belief in the system by actually being there. Voting by mail is too much like renewing a magazine subscription by mail---it trivializes the act of voting; no one knows if you actually care.

I walked into the Orange Grove School gymnasium shortly after 7 o’clock.It was empty. Oh, there were voting booths and tables with bright eyed election workers—there just weren’t any voters. Everyone was being very careful slowly to dot every
‘i’ and cross every ‘t.’ This was a good dry run for November. It was probably needed.

I voted. I was the third person today.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tucson Foothills Annexation

The folks in the Catalina Foothills just love living in Tucson…so long as they aren’t actually part of Tucson; never understood it, myself.

I’ve lived in the Foothills for thirty-five years and I think it would be nifty to be able to elect representatives to the Tucson City Council. I’d like to be able to have a vote in water issues, too. I’m okay with city police and fire protection; and the city’s solid waste fee is cheaper than what I pay for garbage collection.

There must be peristaltic waves of “annexation” anxiety sweeping through the lower reaches of the Foothills. I spotted these signs along River Road. What’s up?

Here’s the City’s annexation site: click
The sponsor of one of the signs is at:

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Palin's Wikipedia Entry Gets Overhaul

Oh, what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive!

The Palin candidacy is going to be an innocent source of merriment and mirth. Let me offer for your consideration the tale of the miraculously revising Palin biography. Did they think no one would catch this? NPR did!

All Things Considered, August 29, 2008 · If you happened to check Sarah Palin's Wikipedia entry Thursday, you might have had a good tip about today's (Friday’s) announcement. Someone — and apparently it was just one person — felt like the existing biography wasn't appropriate for a vice-presidential candidate.”

Arizona Legislative District 26

There are plenty of registered Independents who are really closet Democrats. I’m one of them, although as a very public old lefty I haven’t seen my closet for some time.

Some of us dropped Democratic registration because we were annoyed with what we perceived as the spineless behavior of the current crop of Democratic Congressmen and Congresswomen; others left because they just wanted to get the full burden of every party’s mailings and robocalls; some like the opportunity to dip into a Republican primary and take a shot at warping the outcome.

If any Data Port reader is a District 26 registered Independent, or if you know one, let me suggest you or they vote (ugh) Republican in this primary.

Let’s help Democrat Cheryl Cage in her run for the state senate by giving her the weaker of two possible Republican opponents, Pete Hershberger and Al Melvin. Let’s help bump Pete and elect Captain Al.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Hershberger is moderate and has been good on a variety of social issues. But if he is elected his very first vote will be to hand leadership of the Senate over to the Republicans.

Cheryl will attract moderate Republicans who will prefer her to the very conservative Al Melvin; and Hershberger Democrats, who might otherwise split their vote, will be solidly pro Cage.

Cage campaign video here.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Return To The Fray

Two-and-a-half months out of the blogosphere! Well, almost. I did dip in just enough to note that Matt Foraker had played gadfly effectively and goaded the sluggish AzStarbeast into paying attention to cloth rooting about in the public trough. Good work, Matt!

I paid very little attention to anything political and spent a lot of time on the road. It was motorcycle heaven. How heavenly it was will be made clear in a few days over at the other blog: Data Port Two.

Here’s a picture of the divine one loading the hack after a glamorous night in Page, Arizona.
Of possible political interest is a comment about ethanol. I keep very careful gas mileage records on my bikes. I have found that the addition of ethanol to gasoline reduces gas mileage by a bit over 5%.

I was amused by a sticker on a BP gas pump that proudly announced that BP fuel was “enhanced” with ethanol. It was like going into a fish market and seeing a label proudly announcing that the salmon was enhanced with mercury.

C’mon, guys. If you must make alcohol out of corn, make bourbon and don’t pour it in your gas tank.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Remembering My Father

The old man had been an actor all his life and that was a rare thing. What was rare was that he'd never done anything else. He’d never sold shoes, never waited tables while he was “at liberty,” never driven a cab.

Unlike some of his pals he hadn't hung around New York waiting for a big part; never waited to be 'discovered' by some critic or producer who would pick him out of the crowd as Broadway’s newest star. He simply went wherever the work was.

As a young man he was told it wasn't clever career management to leave the center of the theatrical world and go careening around the sticks with some wandering repertory company. Why not pick up some cash waiting tables and bet on the big break?

He'd think about that for a moment and say, “Given the chance I'd rather just go acting.” And that’s what he did, moving across the country to wherever there was work for a journeyman performer with a decent wardrobe and the knack for learning his part quickly.

When acting jobs weren't available he’d direct. He’d go wherever there was a little theatre, community group, or church pageant that needed to be put in order. He taught acting at a museum theatre school, and acted in radio soap operas. But whatever he did he was always a creature of the theatre, a man for whom the practice of his craft was more important than the conditions under which he practiced it, or the fame of the place he did his work.

He lived in a Volkswagen van in the parking lot of a Texas theatre one boiling hot summer because he wanted, he needed, to “go acting.”

As the years rolled by and the casting calls became less frequent he had pretty much decided that he was no longer “at liberty” but simply retired. And that was why, the Christmas season of his seventy-second year, he took a job as a department store Santa Claus. It was another chance to go acting.

He was glad of the work but now the old actor had a problem. He’d been doing a favor for a lady friend and the new job would mean he’d have to stop doing that favor.

The lady had a son, a rising star in the banking business. A nice enough ‘kid,’ as the old actor always called him, but as articulate as a barrel of hair when facing any group greater than one. The actor had volunteered to be the kid’s speech coach and over the weeks a polite distance between the two grew into the closeness of mutual affection.

The young man was sad to think the actor’s new job would interrupt their sessions together, but he was happy for the old man. The job was a nice Christmas present.

“So what’s the part, Coach?”

“It’s a character part. I’m going to do Santa Claus at Bulloch’s department store.”

The kid was well and truly knocked down by this. He was embarrassed for the old actor; at his taking what seemed like a humiliating end-of-the-road job.

“How can you do that?” he asked. “You’ve spent your entire life as an actor, you’ve never driven a cab or waited on tables, or sold socks ...and now you’re going to play Santa in a department store?”

“Ah, kid, it’s a pretty good job. Costume and makeup are provided and I get a private green room. Think of that! Besides, there are no lines to learn, I’m only on for about a half-hour at a time and I get one free meal a day in the employee cafeteria. Best of all, I’m making better than Equity minimum.”

“Well, I think it’s humiliating,” said the kid, who didn’t realize until that moment how much he loved the old man.

“It’s humiliating to think that someone like you who’s worked in the theatre with some of our finest actors has to play a department store Santa. Good Lord! Imagine stuffing a pillow in your costume, wearing those awful fake patent leather boots, the phony beard and ...and...that ridiculous red suit! How can you do that?”

The old actor thought about this for a while, just a little hurt that the kid was raining on his parade.

“You know, I want to give you a little advice. There’s a lesson to be learned here that’ll do you more good in the long run than anything I can teach you about speaking in some bank board room. It’s advice about life, and it’s just as good for bankers as it is for actors. It's all about what you call that ridiculous red suit."

The old actor leaned into the young man until they were practically nose to nose and in a sotto voce growl said…

“Listen, kid, if you want to play Santa Claus, you gotta wear the red suit.”
My father died two years after the Santa Claus gig, his last chance to go acting. The young man is the vice president of a southern California bank.

Originally published in The desert Leaf

Monday, June 09, 2008

Formula One!

It was a little little bit of Sunday heaven yesterday watching Formula One racing.
If you're unfamiliar with F1, take a look at the official web site.

The greatest cars and drivers in open wheel racing compete in Formula One, an 18-contest season on road courses. I watch Indy Car of course, mainly following Danica Patrick and Tony Kanaan, but oval course racing seems to lack the challenge and excitement of the road c
ourses and the IRL broadcasts are overloaded with commercials.

NASCAR? I've never been able to get on with it.....Round and round and round and snore.

Yesterday Polish driver Robert Kubica driving a BMW-Sauber car won the Canadian Grand Prix. BMW cars are now first and second as BMW-Sauber closes in on the Constructor’s Trophy just 3 points behind Ferrari.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Sweet Deal for US Sugar

I guess the Mott family really needs the money.

CLEWISTON, Fla. — Thousands of workers at U.S. Sugar thought they were getting a good deal when the company shelved their pension plan and gave them stock for their retirement instead. They had a heady sense of controlling their own destiny as they became the company’s biggest shareholders, Vic McCorvey, a former farm manager there, said.

Now that many U.S. Sugar workers are reaching retirement age, though, the company has been cashing them out of the retirement plan at a much lower price than they could have received. Unknown to them, an outside investor was offering to buy the company — and their shares — for far more. Longtime employees say they have lost out on tens of thousands of dollars each and millions of dollars as a group, while insiders of the company came out ahead.

Corporations loved these plans (ESOPs- Employee Stock Ownership plans) if for no other reason than that they allowed them an alternative to defined benefit plans. There were corporate tax breaks as well and owners could sell their otherwise illiquid stock to the plans. US Sugar took its stock off the public market when the ESOP was created in 1983.

Nearly 95 percent of the country’s 10,000 ESOPs (Employee Stock Ownership Plans) are now at privately held companies, like U.S. Sugar. Because their shares are not publicly traded, there is no market price. So workers cash out shares without knowing what the price would be on an open market.

You can read the whole story by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

American Fascism and The Corporate State

While you’re waiting patiently for the official announcement that our Primary ordeal is over, let me suggest some reading: “America’s Democratic Collapse,” by Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Chris Hedges.

Here are some excerpts:

We have watched over the past few decades the rise of a powerful web of interlocking corporate entities, a network of arrangements within subsectors, industries, or other partial jurisdictions to diminish and often abolish outside control and oversight. These corporations have neutralized national, state and judicial authority. They dominate, for example, a bloated and wasteful defense industry, which has become sacrosanct and beyond the reach of politicians, most of whom are left defending military projects in their districts, no matter how redundant, because they provide jobs. This has permitted a military-industrial complex, which contributes lavishly to political campaigns, to spread across the country with virtual impunity.

The corporate state, begun under Ronald Reagan and pushed forward by every president since, has destroyed the public and private institutions that protected workers and safeguarded citizens. Only 7.8 percent of workers in the private sector are unionized. This is about the same percentage as in the early 1900s. There are 50 million Americans in real poverty and tens of millions of Americans in a category called "near poverty." Our health care system is broken. Eighteen thousand people die in this country, according to the Institute of Medicine, every year because they can't afford health care. That is six times the number of people who died in the 9/11 attacks, and these unnecessary deaths continue year after year. But we do not hear these stories of pain and dislocation. We are diverted by bread and circus. News reports do little more than report on trivia and celebrity gossip. The FCC, in an example of how far our standards have fallen, defines shows like Fox's celebrity gossip program "TMZ" and the Christian Broadcast Network's "700 Club" as "bona fide newscasts." The economist Charlotte Twight calls this vast corporate system of spectacle and democratic collapse "participatory fascism."

How did we get here? How did this happen? In a word, deregulation -- the systematic dismantling of the managed capitalism that was the hallmark of the American democratic state. Our political decline came about because of deregulation, the repeal of antitrust laws, and the radical transformation from a manufacturing economy to a capital economy.

End excerpts

We are the victims of a slow motion coup d’etat.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Top Down, Bottom Up

I’m fairly sure that when primary postmortems are held that simple phrase, “Top Down, Bottom Up,” will summarize the difference between the Clinton and Obama campaigns. There is considerable anecdotal evidence that, here in Arizona at least, the Clinton campaign passed over some canny local pols, preferring out-of-state organizers.

Whether that was true and whether, or to what degree, that was the case at the national level will have to wait for scholarly analysis.

Another expression, “That was then, this is now,” pretty neatly summarizes another mistake by Clinton campaign strategists: The nature of political action and political organizing has really changed since 1993. It’s not perfectly clear to me that the campaign understood the power of Web 2.0, and the nature of bottom up campaigning that makes possible.

The Obama campaign clearly did---not too amazing in a campaign run by and for a seasoned community organizer.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

What Makes Clinton Run

There are two fairly obvious emotional engines driving Senator Clinton’s continued scramble for her party’s nomination: She desperately wants the job and she fervently believes that Senator Obama can’t beat McCain.

Only a political naïf would fault her for wanting the job and devoting herself passionately to its pursuit. If you don’t believe you deserve to be President, if that desire isn’t the hot center of your emotional life then you probably shouldn’t run. Passionate ambition is the sine qua non of a political life.

The Clinton problem, however, (and the reason so many people dislike her without being able to quite say why) is that her ambition is so painfully obvious. We much prefer our candidates to appear at least a little reluctant to shoulder the awful burdens of public service---but willing to do it, of course, out of devotion to the public welfare and as the result of a great spontaneous groundswell. Oh, Yeah.

On the question of Obama’s ability to beat McCain I can only comment that he was able enough to beat one of the cleverest political families of recent times. In my judgment he will be more than able to handle McCain.

Did the Clintons misjudge how good a politician Obama is? You bet. Far from being some sort of misty-eyed novice dreaming an impossible dream he was (and is) a political street fighter and community organizer trained up by some of the wiliest attack dogs in Chicago Democratic politics.

It makes those of us who learned our politics in the Chicago wards of the Daley organization smile .

For a revealing backgrounder on Obama click here.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Vote Yellow Dog

Be a Yellow Dog Democrat!

A Yellow Dog Democrat is someone who would vote for anyone, even a yellow dog, if he she or it were running on the Democratic ticket. A Yellow Dog Democrat will even vote for a Blue Dog, or Hillary, or Obama. Follow the Yellow Dog!

The Data Port is back.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

How Tucson Drives

Badly. Badly, that is, for a town whose drivers are beginning to whine about the high cost of gasoline. Well, I’m sorry---okay, not very--- but didn’t you see it coming before you bought your wheels? Never had an inkling? Oh.

We’re all stuck with the choices we made until we can trade down or get our Albatross Eight paid for; but that doesn’t mean we are helpless.

I regularly ride the Ina Road, Skyline Drive, Sunrise dog-leg. When the light I’m at turns green I shift up through the gears as soon as my engine speed allows. I do not jack-rabbit off the starting line. Invariably the car behind me snaps to my left, barrels past and pulls in front of me so that he can be the first guy at the next red light. He’s there waiting for me when I arrive.

Driving this way I can actually increase my gas mileage by almost three miles per gallon.

For the record my two personal vehicles are a 1990 BMW K75 with sidecar (my pickup truck) and a BMW F650 CS single cylinder solo bike. Riding as I have described I get 40 MPG from the hack and nearly 60 MPG from the solo.

I can’t believe the laws of physics are such that what works for me won’t for work you, whatever you drive.

Tucson’s Rio Nada

The best job of local journalism is not being done by any of the local journals; it’s being done by blogger Matt Foraker over at Sustainability, Equity, Development.

The latest installment (Tuesday, May 6) of his devastating analysis of the Rio Nuevo disaster can be read here.

I particularly relish this paragraph:

I've never met Greg or Hecker, but the cloth alarm is screaming. I have met Snell. I speak with confidence that if you asked these three to team up and bake a pizza, they'd drop fifty grand on an oven study, twelve grand to fly to Greece and watch them, $40 grand to consultants to study 1) dough, 2) sauce, 3) ingredients, 4) cheese, 5) baking temps, 6) pizza size, and 7) crust thickness policies. After extensive meetings and interviews, Snell would drop 75 grand for glossy pamphlets no one will read because everyone's already left for Pizza Hut, where it takes 20 minutes and costs about twelve bucks.

Love it!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Another Note From The Sidelines

There’s a story in today’s Huffington Post that I find particularly depressing.
Here is the lede:

"In a blink of an eye, the media has jumped ship from the Obama campaign and become a crucial Clinton ally, pressing just the message -- that Obama is a likely loser in the general election -- that Hillary and her allies have been promoting for the past six weeks."

Does this mean that in order to win the Democratic Party must become the party of the Reagan Democrats and people in whose hearts the N word still governs their political choices? I have always hoped that the Democratic Party would turn out to be tougher and more aggressive than this capitulation would suggest.

Based on the Party’s performance over the past 8 years I’m not going to bet on it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Note From The Sidelines

Well, I’ve just been standing on the corner watching all the blogs go by. It’s been restful to take a break. Besides, my fellow Lefty Bloggers have been doing such an excellent job of keeping us focussed on the disasters and disturbances of the current social and political scene that I've simply had nothing to add.

X4mr has raised some interesting questions about the dark underbelly of Tucson society and you can always count on Tedski’s political memory to put local political events into an historical context.

In addition to standing on the political corner I have spent some time standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona; and making plans for a Spring and Summer of motorcycling.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Misplaced Priorities

Let’s see if I understand this. People are losing their homes and others, having already lost their homes, are living in their cars or pitching their tents in washes. The dollar is cratering, rising food costs are squeezing family budgets, education is seriously under-funded, college graduates can’t get jobs and Arizona struggles with its budget.

In the mean time an assistant basketball coach gets a nice raise to $725,000 and an absentee head coach draws down $737,790. In addition there are performance bonuses he probably won’t get unless the assistant coach performs a miracle; in which case his earnings kick up to over a million bucks.

Decades ago one of our greatest universities, The University of Chicago, gave up on intercollegiate sports. Students still got to play games, most stayed in school for four years, and no one ever got a degree in “Family Studies.”

What a world.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

That 3:00 a.m. Call

This big debate about who will be ready when the 3:00 a.m. call comes is just so much political campaign hooey. No one is effing ready when the phone rings at three in the morning, you’re lucky even to find the damned thing.

Huh? Hoozat? Schnozzz… uhhuh? Terrorists? Wrong number. Zzzzz.

You know who I want to answer that call?--- A light sleeper!

“Too Many Germans, Too Little Text”

That used to be the comment made about any instance of scholarly screed that endlessly over-analyzed too small a body of information or text. You know, that three volume work on the “Epistosomous Fragments”--- a handful of papyrus fragments found in some 4th Century B.C. desert kitchen midden.

I was reminded of that old saying by my early morning reading of a selection of nationally syndicated political wise guys. Pretty much the same things are being said over and over again, particularly about today’s ‘crucial’ primary, but none of it is really new. Shut up, already. Wait for the votes.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Tired of Politics? Then Try These!

Sabrina, my plum, I think you’ll like this first recommendation as much as your old Uncle does. As I’m sure you know, I admire pretty women of all ages but I prefer them nicely dressed, as do the sharp-tongued but hilarious ladies who preside over Go Fug Yourself.

This is fashion commentary of a high order, taking on the dress failings of the Over Aged Destroyers, Starlets, and
Bimboi of the red carpet set."The day Sharon Stone stops thinking she's every man's dominatrix fantasy is the day Courtney Peldon wins a Golden Globe. Look at this woman -- she's a nutjob, and proud of it. Are those her nipples I can see through that shiny armor? Are those hot pants she's wearing under those strips of filmy fabric? "You know what? It doesn't matter. They are what she says they are, because she makes the rules, you weak little maggot, so get down on your knees and beg mommy for a cookie before she rips out a hunk of your hair and spanks you with a slice of Honeybaked Ham."----GFY

God, I wish I’d written that.


If all of that is too, well, much the politically exhausted might want to take a breather with Stuff White People Like; perhaps while seated in a chair designed by a famous architect from the 1930s.

"--- as with all things, white people will do whatever it
takes to secure authenticity including paying thousands of dollars for a small piece of furniture. "If they are able to acquire this prized furniture, they will forever refer to it only by the designers name. “I spend hours in the van der Rohe, just looking through these beautiful books of his work.”

And now, back to politics.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Iraq War? What Iraq War?

In politics what’s not being said is as revealing as what is. Nothing much is being said about getting out of Iraq. McCain loves being there and the surviving Democratic candidates treat the issue of getting out like some sort of disfiguring skin disease…we have to do something about it, but until we figure out what let’s not call attention to it.

If I were a Republican strategist I would be enchanted with all the bad economic news. While people are losing their homes, and their personal economies are cratering they tend not to pay attention to what’s going on overseas; and the Republicans can use hard times as an excuse to cut taxes on the rich.

The enormous cost of the Iraq war is one of the causes of the slow decay of the American economy. An article in the London Times examines just how expensive this war is:

“The Bush Administration was wrong about the benefits of the war and it was wrong about the costs of the war. The president and his advisers expected a quick, inexpensive conflict. Instead, we have a war that is costing more than anyone could have imagined.

“The cost of direct US military operations - not even including long-term costs such as taking care of wounded veterans - already exceeds the cost of the 12-year war in Vietnam and is more than double the cost of the Korean War.”

Read “The Three Trillion Dollar War.”

Monday, February 11, 2008

Super Delegates

It looks increasingly likely that the Super Delegates to the Democratic Convention will decide the Democratic candidate. For discussions and background on this let me refer you to two articles.

The first was by Adam Nagourney and Carl Hulse in Sunday’s New York Times. The second is by Walter Shapiro and appears in today’s Salon. The Shapiro article is bit more detailed in ringing the changes on all the possibilities.

The chance that the Super Delegates, who are the apparatchiks of the party, could give the nomination to someone who had not won a majority of delegates through the primary/caucus system is a real possibility.

This would be a problem for the Democrats. Failure to support the majority candidate would be a public relations nightmare and would certainly drive away the newly energized younger voters. These newly active voters would view it as betrayal by “the old guard,” and as “beltway politics” as usual. Bad news.

On the other hand the institution of Super Delegates was intended to protect the party from being swept away by fashionable enthusiasm and guarantee a voice for sounder political judgment.

Outcome: The party will be damned if it does, and possibly damned if it doesn’t, run counter to primary results.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Stimulate Me, Baby!

If I understand it correctly the Data Port household is going to get a nice twelve hundred-buck check in the mail some time in May. The Congressfolks want us to go out and consume in order to make the economy better.

Frankly, I can’t think of anything more exquisitely ‘Murican than that. First of all the money is borrowed, probably from the Chinese, and added to the national debt. Then we are urged to do what we do so well, spend the borrowed money on stuff that we want right now, rather than save up for it, or pay off some debt.

Some people will save or pay off debt, but I don’t see how that’s going to help the economy, or correct the systemic failures of an under-regulated capitalism. Paul Krugman, in today’s NY Times column, suggests that we would all be better served in the long run if the money were spent on public works projects.

Some of the Data Port’s windfall will be spent on a bottle or two of better quality booze than we usually drink- thus doing our bit for the economy- and the rest will be put in savings for the inevitable rainy day.

Monday, February 04, 2008

A Very Important Person

That's me, apparently. The Governor called me! Janet asked me to vote for Obama. Earlier on I received two calls urging me to vote for Hillary. Thanks for the calls, guys, but I've already voted for John Edwards.

Politics and The Super Bowl

Driving to a Super Bowl party and listening to the hype on the radio. Wow! This was going to be the greatest, most important event in history, greater even than the invention of sliced bread and the square hole in the Chinese nickel; greater than the invention of money.

Just listen to the pre-game and the play-by-play: Breathless excitement. Sports destinies hanging in the balance. Pundits wisely observing that everything hangs on the next play; that it’s time for the team to ‘step up’; That blah blah will surely blah blah, or if not, then blah blah blah.

The really important stuff was going on down on the field, where two teams and their handlers were having a simply splendid nock-about. I loved it. I was a Giants fan in a family of Pats rooters.

Americans love this stuff. I love it. The teams gave us whacking good entertainment. But it is, after all, only a game.

Now, what has all this to do with Politics?

Americans like their political campaigns to be as much like the Super Bowl as possible; as breathless; as minute-by-minute exciting, and as filled with frantic commentary as any half-time show. The media work hard to satisfy us, to turn the campaign into a horse race. Will there be a winner by a nose or by three lengths?

The trouble is that when a horse race is over it’s simply over, done, and finished. Whoever wins the Super Bowl has, well, won. There are no consequences. But when a campaign is over there are profound consequences, the end of a political campaign is just the beginning of something tremendously important.

The effect of treating the campaign like the big game is that the candidates are forced to buy into the approach. Sprinting to the finish line, going for the last minute Hail Mary pass, the debates and discussions between them become, at best, superficial. There is no time for lengthy, reasoned, debates that would unpack the real differences between them, or lay out programs in detail.

Oh, well. Go team, Go!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

After Edwards---Pascal’s Wager

A number of comments on the John Edwards campaign web site urge supporters to go ahead and vote for Edwards on Super Tuesday. The thinking is that it would be useful to send as many Edwards delegates as possible to the Democratic convention. This would be a way to push Obama and Clinton toward a more aggressive policy on behalf of the poor and an acknowledgment that we are in fact a nation divided between rich and poor.

If continuing to vote for Edwards seems too much like throwing your vote away, then I would urge you to vote for, and actively support, Obama.

As a left progressive myself I can’t see Clinton accomplishing any of my own political goals on health care, Iraq, reinstatement of Bush tax cuts or halting the corrosive effect of money on the political process. Nor do I expect Obama to do any better on particular legislative agenda items.

What I do see in Obama and the young men and women who support him is the desire to alter the underlying character of the American political process. Naïve? Madly optimistic? Maybe so, but it might just be that the time for a sea change has come. What else can we believe in?

With Clinton things won’t get better; with Obama things won’t get worse; but there is, at least, the promise of hope.

It’s a Pascal Wager.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

AP and NPR Report Edwards Withdrawing

Apparently the announcement will be made at Noon today in New Orleans. The Associated Press is reporting that Edwards will not announce an endorsement of either of the two leaders for the Democratic nomination.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Old Folks' Candidate

Regular readers of my irregular postings here at The Data Port know that I am a fan of Professor David Kaiser’s blog History Unfolding. Kaiser’s style is un-bloglike in at least one respect since his commentaries are longer than the usual blog entry. Still,they are well worth any reader’s attention.

His most recent post comments on, and analyzes, the South Carolina primary. One paragraph especially caught my eye:

“I have no doubt that Obama would be a far stronger candidate in November than Clinton for two somewhat related reasons. First, as I have already suggested, she would be scandaled half to death by the Republicans. But more importantly, she (like John McCain on the other side) is the old folks' candidate, and the young folks, bless their hearts, will decide the election. They did the same in 1932 and 1936 (in the latter year, fully 90% of the 21-35s may have voted for FDR.)" (Italics mine)

You may read his entire post here.

I have voted, early, for John Edwards

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Good Reading

Here's the NY Times follow-up story to the LA Times firing.

Editor Fires Parting Shot at His Chain
The ousted editor of The Los Angeles Times on Monday argued that cost cuts, a lack of investment and an aversion to serious news is damaging the newspaper industry. (link)

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Local Press- A Death Spiral?

If you don’t read Inside Tucson Business you missed David Hatfield’s January 21st Media column. Hatfield reports that Lee Enterprises, which owns the Arizona Daily Star, is loaded with cash. In 2006 Lee reduced its net debt by $179 million. In 2007 the reduction was $135 million.

Lee has been so successful at milking its cash cows (my words, not Hatfield’s) that it plans to buy back thirty million dollars worth of its own stock.

In the meantime newspapers in Tucson seem to be headed into the death spiral common to papers across the nation. Owners interested only in continually increasing cash flows cut news staff in order to make up for decreasing ad revenue. As news coverage declines so does readership, and as readership declines so does ad revenue. To make up for loss of revenue you cut wherever you can but the easiest cuts are made in the newsroom

A story on NPR this morning reported that yet another LA Times editor has resigned in protest over a four million dollar cut in its newsroom budget just as we are rounding into a peak news year.

Meanwhile, here in the Old Pueblo the Star cut eleven folks from its newsroom and cancelled Ernesto Portillo’s column, reassigning him to general features. (Other money-saving firings in the media world: Jeff Smith from the Citizen and Sal Quijada and Mark Horne from KGUN)

It’s good business to reinvest in your infrastructure. In the newspaper business the most important part of that infrastructure is your news staff. The Star should be hiring, not firing. Lee Enterprises looks able to afford it.

The Data Port doesn’t hasn’t been in the prediction business, but I’m going out on the limb here: Lee will soon sell the Star to Gannett, a move that has been long rumored but is now imminent. When that’s been done it will cancel the joint operating agreement that has kept the Citizen alive and fold the Citizen into the Star.

And then there will be lots of newspaper people looking for PR and advertising jobs.