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.