Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, August 13, 2021

Is the ouster of Joe Lieberman just a spasm of voter disgust over incumbent smugness and the Iraq War? Or is it the start of a broader repudiation of centrist politics in the Democratic Party?

The strategies being employed by liberal activists today echo the long-ago rejuvenation of conservativism in the GOP.

More tellingly, the campaign offers an intriguing twist in the history of insurgency that has shaped the identities of both parties over the last several decades. Some commentators have portrayed the bloggers who led the charge against Senator Lieberman as the ideological descendants of the left-wing Democrats who nearly brought the party to its knees in the 1960’s and 70’s. But in strategic terms they resemble more closely the “movement conservatives” who transformed the Republican Party from 1955 to 1980, when it rose to dominate American politics.

Like the current Democratic insurgency, the conservative movement was driven by activists who combined journalism with partisanship. Just as today’s insurgents often post their analyses and self-described “rants” on Web sites like Daily Kos, so the conservative rebels of an earlier day poured forth their opinions in the National Review, the biweekly magazine founded in 1955 by the 29-year-old William F. Buckley Jr.

So today’s fringe blogs are going to evolve into tomorrow’s cognoscenti journals? Better back up those archives now.

Assuming there’s a concerted effort here to apply the Buckley-Goldwater-Reagan purification campaign to the other end of the American political spectrum… It’s a fascinating display of pragmatic political maneuvering.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 08/13/2006 11:45:03 PM
Category: History, Political
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What’s catchier: “Trimalchio in West Egg” or “The Great Gatsby”?

Well, duh.

The title can be the trickiest trick to turn; ask any news headline writer. Plenty of near-misses graced last century’s great works:

The arts and the media are filled with works conceived with different names. Margaret Mitchell thought about calling her novel of the Old South “Tote the Weary Load,” “Not in Our Stars” or “Bugles Sang True” before settling on “Gone With the Wind.” The editor Jann Wenner originally wanted to call Rolling Stone The Electric Newspaper. The creators of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” seriously considered “Owl Stretching Time,” “The Toad Elevating Moment” and “Bunn, Wackett, Buzzard, Stubble and Boot” for their brainchild…

[Film producer David] Brown believes that the entertainment industry is currently in a naming slump. “Movie titles baffle me now because they’re watered down,” he said. “A title must be different and even crazy. You can’t mistake ‘Spamalot’ for anything else, even if you don’t know what it means. But ‘Bewitched’? Forget about it.”

That second part unsettles me, because it sounds like a pre-endorsement for the coming horror that is Snakes on a Plane. Despite my prediction that it’s already spent its hipness cache via Web saturation, I have a sinking feeling that it’ll do just well enough in its first week that it will indeed spawn a slew of brain-dead movie titles. Which, as a media junkie, I’ll have to endure.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 08/13/2006 08:51:41 PM
Category: Creative, Movies, Publishing, TV
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We all know why the price of oil is going up: Scarcity, rising global demand, political shakiness in the Middle East, and hurricane riskiness in the Gulf of Mexico.

Right? Wrong, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Company analyst Ben P. Dell. His controversial assessment holds that institutional investment (particularly pension funds) in the commodities sector has caused a run on the market, leading to an artificial price-rising bubble.

Although dismissed by many as too simplistic for such a complex global resource, some agree with Dell’s theory, even providing a price breakdown:

On the other hand, [William H.] Brown of WHB Energy Research supports Mr. Dell’s view of current price levels. He has studied the historical correlation of oil prices with inventory levels and, at current levels, oil should sell for just $27 a barrel, he said. The impact of passive, long-term investors “is in my view $33 a barrel,” he said, with other factors, like flagging production in the North Sea and in Nigeria accounting for much of the rest of the gap. Still, he says he does not expect prices to tumble unless there was “a major slowdown or even reversal of demand growth.”

With the price of a barrel of crude currently hovering around 75 bucks, that means the money markets account for nearly half this supposedly inflated price. Quite a pill to swallow.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 08/13/2006 08:21:35 PM
Category: Business
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I guess the upper-crust eyeballs that glide through the pages of Yard & Garden and Robb Report don’t mean much to the M&A crowd. Three recent market auctions for niche magazine publishers have faltered after being low-balled, leading to speculation that the industry’s assets are colder than cold in digital age.

These auctions appear to be a case of sellers’ expectations rising beyond the reach of buyers.

“There was an obvious disconnect between expected valuations and expected multiples by the sellers — fueled by their investment bankers — and where the market is today for these assets,” said Thomas Kemp, a managing director of media-focused private equity fund Veronis Suhler Stevenson…

Bankers and potential buyers say magazine companies are attractive, but only at the right price.

“The belief that you can sell anything for 12 times (cash flow) is misguided,” said a media industry investment banker, who requested anonymity. “The moral of the story here is: Don’t run an auction unless you’re willing to accept a price that could be lower than you hoped.”

Far from measuring the pulse of the magazine/publishing sector, these tepid toe-dips seem to be a case of overreach. CurtCo and the other publishers in this case aren’t traditional publishing houses; they were set up specifically to carve out luxury niche brands, and anticipated a cash-out time. They simply picked the wrong time, and tried to squeeze more dollars out of their deals than anyone on the market would spend.

Furthermore, these weren’t publishers going into business — they were businesspeople going into publishing. That’s a key distinction. Despite being in the publishing sector, they considered their companies to be something apart from traditional media companies. Thus the inflated asking prices.

By contrast, the recent buy-in of Forbes by the Bono-fronted Elevation Partners group represents a more sober dealmaking approach in the magazine sector. Aside from the greater brand strength in Forbes — and that magazine’s need for a financial infusion — it demonstrated the best way to extract value from the publishing business.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 08/13/2006 08:04:29 PM
Category: Business, Publishing
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cold war
Thanks to the impasse between Russia and the IIHF over agreement on an NHL player-transfer agreement, projected superstar forward and Pittsburgh Penguins first-rounder Evgeni Malkin is apparently taking the undercover route to play hockey in North America this season.

“The players, coaching staff are very upset because for four days Malkin was training with the team and suddenly he is gone without saying a word to anyone,” club head Gennady Velichkin told Reuters on Sunday.

Malkin, who was drafted second overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2004, was with the team in Finland for training camp when he disappeared with his belongings and passport on Saturday.

This is hauntingly reminiscent of the Cold War SOP of smuggling Soviet draft picks from behind the Iron Curtain. Is this how it’s going to be — effectively forcing young Russian players to “defect” in order to join their National Hockey League clubs?

Next thing you know, even the most highly-touted talents in Russia will be passed over until the later rounds of the Entry Draft, simply because the chances of getting them to North America will be so iffy. That was the case in the ’80s, when the likes of Slava Fetisov and Alexander Mogliny weren’t picked until the late, despite their high ratings. Another Cold War, indeed.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 08/13/2006 03:35:11 PM
Category: Hockey, Political Theory
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