Thursday, July 29, 2010

If we wanted more Cheney, we would have voted for more Cheney

From the Washington Post:

White House proposal would ease FBI access to records of Internet activity

"...The administration wants to add just four words -- "electronic communication transactional records" -- to a list of items that the law says the FBI may demand without a judge's approval. Government lawyers say this category of information includes the addresses to which an Internet user sends e-mail; the times and dates e-mail was sent and received; and possibly a user's browser history. It does not include, the lawyers hasten to point out, the "content" of e-mail or other Internet communication...To critics, the move is another example of an administration retreating from campaign pledges to enhance civil liberties in relation to national security. The proposal is "incredibly bold, given the amount of electronic data the government is already getting," said Michelle Richardson, American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel. "

As Kevin Drum said in Mother Jones, "...You know, if I'd wanted Dick Cheney as president I would have just voted for him...."

With a tip of the hat to Patrick O'Grady, who posted the picture above earlier today.

When will we stop getting fooled again?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Film credits: Economic gain or corporate welfare?

Today's Monitor has a glowing story about the film industry bringing money into Bombtown and frankly, it made a good case for us locals seeing some ca-ching land in our cash registers. But what is the balance sheet in the give and take between film industry money spent here vs. tax credits given away to the film industry? I Googled to find out, and found this:

from The New Mexico Independent:
"...Citing a 2008 study of New Mexico’s film industry subsidies, Los Angeles Times business columnist Michael Hiltzik Friday questioned California’s own $100 million-a-year tax credits for Hollywood film productions, calling them “corporate welfare.” The study showed that New Mexico saw only 14 cents in returns for every dollar it spent on film production tax credits...A competing report commissioned by the NM film industry in January 2009 by the New Mexico Film Office found a much more positive economic impact than the report cited by Hiltzik. Conducted by Ernst & Young, the study concluded that the program had earned $0.94 in additional tax revenue for each $1.00 paid out in incentives based on the 2007 value of present and future year tax receipts and the 2007 value of state film production tax credits..."

But with each state competing to provide more lavish tax breaks to the film industry than the next, one has to ask if this is a race to the taxation bottom. Neale Peirce says this in Citiwire: "...The raw bottom line is this: Subsidy-induced film activity may have glitz and surface appeal. But nationally, it’s a washout — film production lured from one place to another is classic “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” At the end of the day the country’s no less prosperous. The net economic impact is simply to enrich the filmmakers at the expense of state taxpayers. Even a Cecil B. DeMille would blush."

Or, I would add, the country's no more prosperous, and the state that "wins" is getting the least return for its efforts. Like most free lunches, this one is probably too good to be true. If New Mexico is such a great place to film, we shouldn't have to give away the store.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Daniel Schorr, 1916-2010

As reported in today's New York Times. Click on the picture from the Times for the link to the story..

As my wife said today, we will miss that voice of reason in a sea of insanity and madness.

I first paid attention to Mr. Schorr during the Nixon Administration where he covered that tumultuous and dangerous time in our history. Mr. Schorr gave one of the annual lectures at the Univ. of Rochester and left us in awe. He was a giant among men and among journalists.

Dan was a protege of Edward R. Murrow. I guess it is therefore appropriate to say "Daniel, good night and good luck". I am sure where Dan is going, he will not need the luck. Shalom, Daniel.

Great set of pics of Dan Schorr's life here on the NPR site.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tuli Kupferberg, Poet and Singer, Dies at 86

From the NY Times Art Blog: "Tuli Kupferberg, the poet, singer and professional bohemian who went from being a noted Beat to becoming, in his words, “the world’s oldest rock star” when he helped found the Fugs, the bawdy and politically pugnacious folk-rock group, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 86 and had been a longtime resident of Greenwich Village...."

Not all their stuff was as political as Kill for Peace. For example.