Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Last Call

Score one for Netflix...albeit an expensive one.
At a cost of nearly one billion dollars, Netflix on Tuesday said it would add films from Paramount Pictures, Lions Gate and MGM to its online subscription service.

It was a coup — albeit a costly one — for Netflix, which knows its needs to lock up the digital rights to films as customers stop receiving DVDs by mail and start receiving streams via the Internet. The deal will commence Sept. 1.

Ted Sarandos, the chief content officer for Netflix, said he is essentially taking the “huge pile of money” that Netflix pays in postage for DVDs by mail — about $600 million this year — “and starting to pay it to the studios and networks.”

Wall Street analysts estimated that Netflix would pay about $900 million over the course of five years to Epix, a fledgling competitor to HBO that holds the rights to the film output of Paramount, Lions Gate and MGM. Those payments are expected to help the money-losing Epix break even in the next fiscal year.

The Epix deal will add new releases like “Iron Man” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” to Netflix’s catalog, greatly enhancing the “Watch Instantly” streaming service that the company markets to subscribers as part of an $8.99 package that also includes DVD deliveries. It was the second film deal for Netflix this summer, coming a month after a pact with Relativity Media, the firm run by Ryan Kavanaugh.
Smart move I think on both sides.  The more movies Netflix can stream, the more they become the 900 pound gorilla as the DVD/Blu-ray market gives way to the internet streaming on-demand field.

We'll see how this works out.   Still, billion with a B is real money, even these days.  Was the cost worth it?

McNugget McRage

When you want some McNuggets in the morning man, you want some effing McNuggets.  You know, because they were out of McMeth.  Jesus.

(h/t Oliver Willis)

Government Cheese

The House passed the Senate's $26 billion package in aid to states to save some 300,000 local government jobs (for now) in today's special session, and Digby argues that the Republicans who voted against it just made a huge mistake.
I'm telling you, this is where the vulnerable underbelly of their "just say no" campaign. They are voting against nice, white, suburban middle class Americans this time (along with nice brown and black suburban middle class Americans) with this crusade. And going after teachers, cops and firefighters is a very, very dangerous thing to do. And as I wrote before, the Democrats should throw it right in their face.
The problem is two-fold:  First, the right has programmed the country to despise teachers, cops, firefighters, librarians, civil servants and other local government employees.  Teachers are especially hated, with their "elitist" knowledge, their "liberal secular crusade" against Christianity, their "corrupt unions" and their "unfair tenure and pay".  In the last ten years, the right has made teacher nearly a dirty as word as politician.  It may not have worked in California, but nationally teachers are hated and despised by the right and there are thousands of home schooled kids out there where parents have put their money where their hate is.

Look at how the right is gleefully trying to savage the teacher who dared stand up to Sarah Palin, for instance.   Teachers aren't "nice, white, suburban middle class Americans" in 2010.  They're all "evil God-hating liberals."

Second is there are more than a few Democrats who agree with the wingers on the Right, and so the Dems won't stand up for government employees anymore.

No, the wingers know exactly what they are doing with their anti-government nihilism, and it's going to continue to work right up until everything falls apart.

I don't see the Dems taking this opportunity, and they will burn for it.

Hedwig And The Angry Moose Lady

Somebody dared to confront Sarah Palin while she was in Homer, Alaska filming her reality show ("I'm Sarah Palin And You Must Worship Me") and the Winger Defense Militia immediately flew to her defense to try to do everything they can to destroy the life of the person who dared to speak truth to moose.

The problem is, they failed epically.
You know what this means, don’t you? Time for a full-on countertop inspection of this woman who dared to confront the Wasilla wingnut- they’ve decided she was no teacher and is instead a singer in a drag band:
UPDATE II: So far no confirmation of Gustafson’s claim to be a school teacher. However she is President, Board of Directors, Kachemak Bay. Family Planning Clinic (KBFPC) in Homer, AK. Figures. ... UPDATE II: According to the Alaska Teacher Certification website there is a Kathleen Gustafson registered, but unknown if this is her. UPDATE III: It’s not unless she lives in Juno… UPDATE VI: According to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District website there is no Kathleen Gustafson registered as a teacher in the district which includes Homer. UPDATE VII: Actually there is. A Kathleen Gustafson does appear on this PDF from the district. According to the document she’s not a teacher but a “Theater Tech” at Homer High School. I wonder how the school district would feel about her misstating or more appropriately impersonating a teacher. UPDATE VII: ... a “Theater Tech” can very well be a teacher …
Except, as it turns out, she is a teacher- she teaches theater. As for the drag band stuff? The picture of her proving she is a singer in a drag band is actually her in a production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
Shirley Sherrod, Van Jones, now Kathleen Gustafson.  Anyone who dares to question the right is systematically assaulted in the press.  They wreck lives, people come back to refute but the damage is done.  hopefully Gustafson can get on with her life and keep her job.

Somehow I doubt it.  She told Sarah Palin off, so she will be destroyed.  It's how the wingers work.

More Primary Impetus

Primaries today in Colorado, Connecticut, Minnesota, and a runoff in Georgia to boot.
For starters, there is the senate primary race in Colorado, with incumbent Senator Michael Bennet looking to beat the challenger Andrew Romanoff on the Democratic side and the Tea Party favorite Ken Buck taking on the candidate backed by the Republican establishment, Jane Norton.

In Connecticut, Linda McMahon, the former pro-wrestling executive, faces off in the Republican Senate primary against Peter Schiff and Rob Simmons. Mr. Simmons is the former congressman who had put his campaign into hibernation only to revive it in the last few weeks. (The Democratic and G.O.P. nominations for governor are also up for grabs, with Ned Lamont, the Democrat who ran for Senate four years ago, among those on the ballot.)

Down in Georgia, the Republican runoff for governor features a former secretary of state, Karen Handel, and a former congressman, Nathan Deal. On Monday, Sarah Palin was in the Atlanta area to campaign for Ms. Handel, who captured the most votes in last month’s primary. Mr. Deal, meanwhile, has the support of Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee.

Minnesota has both Republican and Democratic gubernatorial primaries as well. 
A lot of these are going to be close, close races too.  Keep an eye on who wins here, the establishment folks or the outsiders.  Georgia is doubly important:  Sarah Palin's endorsements have recently been the kiss of death and Newt carries a hell of a big stick in Georgia politics still.  I think Nathan Deal will win.

King Of Wishful Thinking

From Waffles in the comments (yes, even Waffles can contribute at times, people)  this story about Dr. Martin Luther King's niece Alveda and her horrendous stance on gay marriage is something I indeed missed and it needs to be taken apart.

Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King Jr. and a conservative activist, spoke at a sparsely attended National Organization for Marriage rally in Atlanta, Ga. this weekend about the scourge of gay marriage.
"It is statistically proven that the strongest institution that guarantees procreation and continuity of the generations is marriage between one man and one woman," King said.
"I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to be extinct, and none of us wants to be. So we don't want genocide," she said. "We don't want to destroy the sacred institution of marriage."
She went on: "Marriage between one man and one woman remains the guard against human extinction." 
Hey, I don't have any children.  Does that mean I'm contributing to human extinction as well?   Doesn't this mean you should be going after single people (who make up a much large percentage of the population than gay people do)?

I'm really not sure what to say about it.  Homosexuality is still a massive taboo in minority cultures, especially African-American and Latino communities in the south.  It absolutely floors me that there are people who have fought racism all their lives and speak of equality and justice for all Americans, and then turn out to be some of the most bigoted people on Earth when it comes to gays and lesbians.

Floors me.  There's no excuse for this.  Dr. King would be appalled.

Take This Dry Erase Board And Emergency Chute And Shove It

If you're going to quit your job, then baby, quit your job.
On Monday, on the tarmac at Kennedy International Airport, a JetBlue attendant named Steven Slater decided he had had enough, the authorities said.

After a dispute with a passenger who stood to fetch luggage too soon on a full flight just in from Pittsburgh, Mr. Slater, 38 and a career flight attendant, got on the public-address intercom and let loose a string of invective.

Then, the authorities said, he pulled the lever that activates the emergency-evacuation chute and slid down, making a dramatic exit not only from the plane but, one imagines, also from his airline career.

On his way out the door, he paused to grab a beer from the beverage cart. Then he ran to the employee parking lot and drove off, the authorities said. 
Curse customers, deploy chute, grab beer.

Also acceptable:  quitting in slideshow format.
We received the following photos last night from a person who works with this girl. Her name is Jenny (not confirmed) - we're working our contact for Jenny's last name. Yesterday morning, Jenny quit her job with a (flash)bang by emailing these photos to the entire office, about 20 employees we're told. Awesome doesn't begin to describe this office heroine. Check back as we will be updating if we get more details.
Jenny then proceeds to quit her job as a personal assistant and rats out her boss's internet habits:

Classic. Both of them.

[UPDATE] Make that ONE of them.  Seems the folks behind posting Jenny's tale here got the better of us with nice little hoax.
But over at All Things D, writer Peter Kafka grew suspicious. He noticed that TheChive was owned by the same two men who promoted a prior website, Derober, by fabricating a story about Donald Trump leaving a $10,000 restaurant tip, thus tricking the Post and Fox News. The site owners, John and Leo Resig, launched their 2007 Trump story on the strength of a falsified receipt; now they seem to be promoting TheChive's post with a fake resignation.

Because when Kafka called up Leo Resig and asked if the "Jenny" story is real, Resig wouldn't answer, saying:
"This one is to be determined. People are kind of making up their own stories."
We go on this vein for a bit. Since Leo won't tell me the story is real, and the Trump story definitely wasn't, I'll assume that this one is make-believe, too. "If you want to assume that, you can. We have a track record."
Well played, Resig brothers.  Well played indeed.

(h/t Meiris in the comments:  a solid newsie in her own right.)

Former Sen. Ted Stevens In Plane Crash

Reuters has the report:
The head of plane manufacturer EADS North American unit, Sean O'Keefe, and former Republican Senator Ted Stevens were aboard a plane that crashed in Alaska, and it was not immediately known if they survived, a congressional source said on Tuesday.

O'Keefe is the former head of NASA.

Half of those aboard the plane were killed in the crash and a doctor is apparently on the scene, though rescuers are having trouble reaching the site because of bad weather, the source said, declining to be further identified. 
Stevens, 86, was on a fishing trip in Alaska with former members of his staff and their family, the congressional source said, adding that the plane either crashed by a lake or into the water. Stevens' wife, Catherine, was not on the plane.
More as it develops. 

[UPDATE]   A family spokesman is confirming that Stevens was killed in the plane crash.

A Useful Warning

Digby reminds us that dismissing the Republican call to abandon the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment is exactly how they plan to get it changed in the long-term.
As Allison Kilkenny points out here, this is mostly a move to appease the base and to move the goalposts on immigration to give the Democrats room to find "common ground" on conservative terms, hence her title "let's just agree that Mexicans shouldn't be publicly executed." It's how they roll. But after listening to Istook, I was carried back to a time when I was younger and I used to hear conservative kooks out there parsing the Second Amendment to create an inalienable right to bear arms out of an archaic phrase obviously intended to make it possible to muster a militia. We know where that went. Istook's argument didn't seem to be ridiculous on its face and once people hear it enough times many of them will see it as good old common sense.

It's never a good idea to underestimate people's willingness to deprive others of things they take for granted themselves. I think this is dangerous for both the reasons Kilkenny stated and on the merits of the amendment itself. If they can't pass it now, I could easily see this becoming a long term cause that could find its way through the now thoroughly conservative federal legal system over the next couple of decades.
Just like abortion, gay marriage, and all the other "we need a Constitutional amendment to prevent X" issues, they eventually get traction and conservatives find a way to push limiting the action they don't like.

That's the long-term difference between liberals and conservatives.  Liberals look towards equality and expanding rights for all people, conservatives have the long-term goal of limiting rights to only people they approve of.  When times are tough, the conservative message looks better and better to the American who is increasingly losing their own future.

In the end, we have tremendous trouble overcoming our own self-preservation instincts.  Liberalism is risky by default and definition it deals with loftier concepts.  But the economy is magnifying the necessities; it's hard to deal with the forest when the tree you're living is is burning down, and why Obama and the Dems feel a increasing need to do nothing to help, I couldn't tell you.

Other than American politicians are always more conservative than they look.

A Real (Fire)Bag Job

Oh good, White House spokseman Robert Gibbs has taken some pot shots at the firebaggers.  This is going to turn out well, I can feel it.
During an interview with The Hill in his West Wing office, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs blasted liberal naysayers, whom he said would never regard anything the president did as good enough.

“I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested,” Gibbs said. “I mean, it’s crazy.”

The press secretary dismissed the “professional left” in terms very similar to those used by their opponents on the ideological right, saying, “They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.”

Of those who complain that Obama caved to centrists on issues such as healthcare reform, Gibbs said: “They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.”

The White House, constantly under fire from expected enemies on the right, has been frustrated by nightly attacks on cable news shows catering to the left, where Obama and top lieutenants like Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel have been excoriated for abandoning the public option in healthcare reform; for not moving faster to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay; and for failing, so far, to end the ban on gays serving openly in the military.
And we're going to get a week or two of Angry Jane Hamsher, Indignant Double G, and morose Big Tent Democrat, followed by efforts to smooth things over, followed by the Village going "Well if Obama has lost the liberal left going into this midterm..." and "Democrats are in complete disarray this election cycle..."

All within the news vacuum of the August recess.  Effing perfect.  The Republicans couldn't have planned this any better themselves.  Perfect timing when the story won't be the Dems hopefully passing the jobs bill they have, but how Robert Gibbs hurt Jane Hamsher's feelings.

There are legitimate criticisms of the President, and I've voiced a hell of a lot of them, but all that's now been turned into a parody of the Wingnut right's Obama Derangement Syndrome

I should take the next week off from here, I swear.  The Village was looking for something to pass the time for the next month and now they have it.  Mission Accomplished, The Hill.

House Afire

The House will be back in session today for one day to try to pass the Senate jobs bill...or the skinny, mangled thing known as the "jobs bill" at any rate.

The unusual in-and-out session was called because the Senate waited until last Thursday, after the House had already recessed for its summer break, to pass a $26 billion bill to prevent tens of thousands of teachers and an equal number of other state and local government workers from being laid off before the November election.

With the new school year just weeks away, election season fast approaching and the overall job picture still bleak, Democrats had no choice but to act quickly. Many of those whose jobs are being saved belong to teacher unions or the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, two key components of the Democrats' political base whose get-out-the-vote efforts in November could determine whether they hold or lose control of Congress.

"This legislation is about creating and saving American jobs, and preventing a double-dip recession," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in announcing the special session just hours after the Senate passed the bill that the administration says could save the jobs of nearly 300,000 teachers and other public workers.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., shrugged off suggestions that Democrats were taking a gamble by ordering members back to Washington and diverting colleagues facing tough re-elections from their campaign activities.
"It's not a gamble," he said, but "it would be gambling our children's' education to have them go back to school and find no teacher in the classroom or a larger class size."
Van Hollen is right, the Dems din't have a choice at all on this.  But the piddlingly small bill will only help funding for the rest of this year.  It's 2011 where the real economic damage is going to be.

Democrats spent three months trying to pass a bill that originally was five times larger and could have made a real difference.  Even with this bill that's too small to help, many Blue Dogs are going to try to kill it.  If that happens, I really don't have any hope that the Dems will be able to hold the House.

Say Hi To The Cynical Guy

After 30 years of relentless rah-rah bull market optimism, the folks who have been saying for a while now that the good times were going to end badly -- very badly in our case -- are now garnering respect in economic circles.
“Nothing is ridiculous anymore,” said Philippe Jabre, a hedge fund executive in Geneva. “There is no doubt that these days extremely negative research is being tolerated more.”

Mr. Jabre said that most of the research that came his way had a distinctly negative bias and that finding actionable ideas with a positive spin was becoming far more difficult. “These guys are reinforcing a conviction among many who invest in hedge funds that they should remain scared,” he said.

Mr. Edwards’s newfound popularity reflects the trend. Once frequently shown the door by disbelieving clients, Mr. Edwards recently drew 600 investors to a conference in London.

Similarly, Bob Janjuah, the one strategist in London whose prognostications are seen by some as even more dire than those of Mr. Edwards — “even I get depressed reading his stuff,” Mr. Edwards remarked — said he was courted by half a dozen investment banks this summer before deciding to leave his post at Royal Bank of Scotland to join Nomura. (He starts officially in October.)

“Clients are more receptive to hearing polar ends of an investment view,” said Mr. Janjuah, who expects economic growth for the top developed economies to average little better than 1 percent a year over the next five years.

Further afield, Raoul Pal, a former Goldman Sachs derivatives expert and hedge fund manager, has attracted a growing following with his monthly research note that, most recently, predicted a depression in the United States similar to that of the 1930s and eventual bankruptcy for Britain. 
The big multi-billion dollar hedge funds with the big clout are now interested in the truth, not the hype.  The hype got us bubble after bubble after bubble and nothing good came of it.  These long-term player want to know what's coming 5, 10, 20 years down the road, and the answer is frankly an economic paradigm shift for the US into a permabear mode.

We're going to have a long and ugly trip out of this hole, and it's going to take the better part of this decade or even longer for us to escape.


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