I was really done with this song. I liked it in it’s time, but I was sick to death of hearing it and I would have really not minded if I had never heard it again. But then Howie Klein had to go and put together this YouTube clip and make it new again.
In August of 2006 I told my Andrea Bocelli/Sarah Brightman story but when I went back to check it out today, I see that their label disabled the clip. In honor of the announcements of the 27 or 28 House members– and a handful of senators– who have decided it’s time to say goodbye… here’s a version I just put together for tonight. And after I put the clip together, right-wing extremist Ron Lewis (R-KY) cut and ran.
Now speaking of saying goodbye, we lost John Edwards as a candidate yesterday. Although not unexpected this was very disappointing to me. He was my candidate, and I was wholeheartedly behind him. I think that he just couldn’t buck the corporatist media. They ate him alive from day one. Now I have to decide how to vote here in the New York primary next week.
I have to say that I have been very impressed with Barack Obama in the past few weeks. I thought he gave a good speech after Iowa, and his speech in South Carolina was nothing short of inspirational. The Kennedy endorsements, and particularly Edward Kennedy’s endorsement speech also moved me deeply, but I still hold reservations about Obama which I can’t put my finger on. There is something cult-like about his campaign, and his supporters often seem over-zealous.
I was even beginning to come to terms with Hillary Clinton in recent weeks, but “Hillary” has become “The Clintons” and that does not sit very well with me. I liked Bill Clinton when he was president, but I have since come to understand how he was just another link in the chain that has resulted in almost 30 years of conservative, supply-side economic policies; policies which have wreaked havoc on the American Middle Class.
I am leaning towards Obama at this point, but I may still pull the lever for Edwards. I may not know for sure until I’m inside the voting booth (yes, we still vote on machines with levers and curtains here). The imortant thing to keep in mind now, is that any of the Democratic candidates, Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Dodd, Biden, Kucinich, and Richardson, would have my vote in a General Election against any of the Republicans. We now face a choice of Clinton or Obama. Frankly, at this point, in spite of any reservations I may have about either of them, I’d be happy to support either one against another Republican president.
I find this very encouraging:
(The following was just sent to the membership from WGAw president, Patric Verrone and WGAe president, Michael Winship.)
To Our Fellow Members,
We have responded favorably to the invitation from the AMPTP to enter into informal talks that will help establish a reasonable basis for returning to negotiations. During this period, we have agreed to a complete news blackout. We are grateful for this opportunity to engage in meaningful discussion with industry leaders that we hope will lead to a contract. We ask that all members exercise restraint in their public statements during this critical period.
In order to make absolutely clear our commitment to bringing a speedy conclusion to negotiations, we have decided to withdraw our proposals on reality and animation. Our organizing efforts to achieve Guild representation in these genres for writers will continue. You will hear more about this in the next two weeks.
On another issue, the Writers Guild, West Board of Directors has voted not to picket the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Members of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) face many of the same issues concerning compensation in new media that we do. In the interest of advancing our goal of achieving a fair contract, the WGAW Board felt that this gesture should be made on behalf our brothers and sisters in AFM and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).
Patric M. Verrone
United Hollywood is the best resource that I’ve found out there for news and informed comment about what is happening with the WGA strike. I’m going to shut up about it for a while, at least until something comes out of these “informal talks”.
Meanwhile, enjoy the smokin’ hot video.
Viva La Huelga!
Complete list of winners of the 65th annual Golden Globes announced Sunday at a news conference held by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in Beverly Hills, Calif.:
This is one of the photographs that randomly appears on my Mac from time to time and many people have commented on it when it shows up as my desktop background. I don’t know if I would go so far as to say that it’s “the most compelling photograph [I've] ever seen”, but it is a pretty amazing shot.
And now we know the story behind it.
Update: I had a bit of a scary moment yesterday while practicing crosswind landings. I was flying a Piper Arrow and had just broken ground on my takeoff roll when a large flock of crows, and when I say large I mean like a hundred of them, decided to all take flight at once from the end of the runway. My airplane cleared the top of the flock by about fifty feet, but I definitely had an “Oh %$*@!, this could be bad.” moment there.
by Stephen Fleischman
No, this is not about the Equal Rights Amendment and its failure because of rescission by some states. It’s about the coming recession and how to ward off a potential economic collapse before the crash. Most economists agree we’re heading into one.
“Firms will go to great lengths to hide or delay reporting losses,” Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics told The New York Times (1/13/08), “What we know now therefore might only be the tip of the iceberg.” We’d better know the whole truth now and start doing something about it.
Let’s start off by rescinding the Bush tax cuts, end the wasteful war in Iraq and soak the rich. Pour the money gained into massive public works, repairing the nation’s neglected infrastructure and rebuild cities blown apart by natural disasters such as Katrina. That will create more jobs than the “trickle down” system, highly touted by corporate interests that want tax cuts for themselves and their enterprises.
Another positive step would be National Health Insurance via single payer, the payer being the government; a system successfully used by industrialized nations in Europe and around the world. It would save billions in private health insurer profits and overlapping administrative costs. Opponents call it “socialized medicine”. So be it. Health care, like education, should be a right and not a privilege.
The tactics of the opposition is to demonize government. They harangue the public about the evils of “big government” as though it were some kind of bogeyman. What’s wrong with government? It’s the instrument of “We, the People…”. The only thing we have to be careful about is electing politicians that will serve our interests.
The rich would like a nice, small government that would cut entitlements for the people and allow them the giant tax cuts that they have been taking. As for military spending, the sky’s the limit.
The oligarchy—that interlocking and overlapping group of corporate executives, their foundations, their think-tanks, and their political organizations and parties—runs this country. They have their hangers-on in academia and the mainstream media; otherwise known as the running dogs of capitalism.
Through their corporate eyes, the oligarchy sees the handwriting on the wall it is up against. When the economy sours and times get tough, people look around and see what’s happened to them while they weren’t paying attention. Resistance begins to build. It’s happened many times before. It will happen again.
This time, the situation is quite different. The labor movement has been expunged. With new technology and new weapons of governance, the oligarchy has been flexing its muscles. It has learned how to induce fear in the populace, perhaps from a well-trained practitioner.
“The best political weapon is the weapon of terror. Cruelty commands respect. Men may hate us. But, we don’t ask for their love; only for their fear,” said Heinrich Himmler, chief of the SS in Nazi Germany.
At the risk of drawing parallels, is that where Bush got the idea for his “war on terror”? The 911 “events” happened right on time. Americans are fearful of more terrorist attacks.
That gives the Bush Administration its raison d’être. First you look for foreign terrorists—then you look for them at home. You prepare the ground with a Patriot Act and then surveillance without a court order. Get rid of Habeas Corpus in the meantime; and maybe prepare some local Guantanamos for American residents.
Are we going to allow fascism to creep into this country on little cats’ feet? Americans are too smart for that. Corporate greed will crash the economy. You can count on that. And when it does, you will see change. Docility out. Militancy in.
Change. It seems to have become the buzz word in the presidential campaign. All the Democrats are talking about it, even some Republicans. What kind of change are they talking about? That’s the chippie.
Right now, some of the Democratic candidates are talking about ending the war in Iraq, but each has a different time-table for doing it. Some talk about health care plans but none mention that dreaded term, “single payer”. And there’s a good reason why—campaign contributions from the health insurance industry. Some talk about tax cuts; oh yes, for the middle class.
So who do you vote for? It’s like playing Russian roulette. You mark your ballot and you take your chances. It’s that “lesser of two evils” choice again. You can’t get away from it. Let Mike Bloomberg run as a one-man third party. At least it will give you a choice. Some choice!
“Eternal vigilance is the price of Liberty”. No, it wasn’t Thomas Jefferson who said that, though often attributed to him. It was Wendell Phillips, a Boston lawyer, abolitionist and advocate for Native Americans, in a speech before the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in 1852.
He also said, “The hand entrusted with power becomes … the necessary enemy of the people. Only by continual oversight can the democrat in office be prevented from hardening into a despot: only by unintermitted Agitation can a people be kept sufficiently awake to principle not to let liberty be smothered in material prosperity.”
Trex wins with this gem.
Let’s have another look at that K-Lo quote, though.
Well, I think it certainly looked like he was running for veep until tonight. Wasn’t too absurd a conclusion for folks who wanted to like him but were watching the campaign to draw.
What does that even mean? Draw what? Their conclusions? Their pistols? Lucky the Turtle?
What is it with Kathryn Jean Lopez’s writing, anyway? Why does it instantly make me feel like my mind has been plunged into a vat of particularly stupid worms? She’s not so much a writer as a serial killer of ideas. I’ve never seen a sentence too simple for that woman to damage. The words really just sort of lurch across the page as if the effort of making it from that first capital letter all the way to the period is just too much for her.
There was this clunker regarding Time’s pick for Man of the Year:
If I were the editor of Time magazine, instead of Vladimir Putin, I’d have three men on the famous year-ending issue.
Um…she’s Vladimir Putin? Vladimir Putin is the editor of Time? Is this even in English?
Robert J. Elisberg has a funny little FAQ up at HuffPo which is definitely worth a read. Here are a couple of highlights:
I hear that the WGA negotiating strategy is all wrong. Isn’t it?
And you would do it differently how?
Well, er, I hear the WGA should bring in new negotiators who could make a deal. Shouldn’t they?
If you brought in the Secretary General of the United Nations, even he couldn’t make a deal right now, because the AMPTP corporations have walked away from the table. It’s a well-accepted fact that it’s almost impossible to make a deal with someone who isn’t there. The only known case where this has occurred was a tribe in Kenya that communicates by telepathy. However, it completely misunderstood the other side, and got screwed royally, many times over. In the end, the AMPTP corporations using their CIA contacts came in, bought the village and threw the residents out.
I hear that the studios and networks say they don’t make any money from the Internet. Why should they pay writers for it?
Studios and networks also say they don’t make any money from TV and movies. According to studios and networks, they all went bankrupt 24 years ago and have been completely out of business since 1987. CBS today makes athletic shoes. Paramount runs a chain of muffler shops. Neither, they say, make a profit. By the way, if you had wandered through the recent Consumer Electronics Show, you would have understood how massive a galvanizing profit these companies (and countless other companies) make from the Internet – right now. It’s dizzying. Moreover, if you really want to scare AMPTP companies, say this to them: “I hear you make even more money from “metadata” than almost anything.” They’ll quickly turn and run. Simply, metadata is the data embedded in New Media. Companies make huge money selling their metadata. (The amount is technically known as “oodles.” ) Let’s put it this way – how do you think Google became a multi-billion dollar company with a product line they give away for free. Selling metadata. When figuring profit from New Media and the Internet, it counts. No profit from the Internet. Ha, good one.
Why do writers deserve residuals? Didn’t former MCA head Lew Wasserman once say he wished he got a dollar every time he flushed his toilet?
If Lew Wasserman could have gotten 10 million people to watch him flush his toilet, he would have deserved that dollar. You misunderstand what residuals are. Residuals are not a bonus. Residuals are delayed compensation for promised income. Here’s what that means – a script has a high value, but companies cannot pay that amount up front, it’s too expensive. So, they reach a contractual agreement with writers: we’ll pay you much less than your script is worth so that we can make the show, and then if it’s successful and gets shown again and we make additional money, you’ll get a small percentage of that, to make up for what you didn’t get paid at the beginning. And both sides agree to that. Contractually. People grasp that novelists get paid each time a book they created is sold, that playwrights get paid each time the drama they created is performed, that recording artists get paid each time the CD they created is sold – it’s the same for TV and film writers.
I think TV and movies stink, so I’m glad writers are on strike. Why should I care?
You shouldn’t. Read a book. Read a newspaper. Play some hoops. Keep in mind, if you don’t like what a network is showing, it was a studio executive who decided what should be put on – and then, without any creative experience, sent notes to the writers telling them how to change it. For those of you who actually watch TV and movies, and have obviously found things you like – isn’t it nice that there are writers who are able to overcome the hurdles and turn out such enjoyable, involving, funny, dramatic stories? But ultimately…y’know, you have your own lives to lead. Care about whatever you want that’s important to you. That’s America. This happens to be important to writers. And to actors. And whoever works in Hollywood, which is perhaps America’s biggest, most influential export to the world, America’s public face to every corner of the globe. It’s your choice if you want to support America, the land of the free, the home of the brave, from sea to shining sea.
The writers need to stay strong and committed. If they do they will win. They also need to know that we who are not on strike, but who are or may be affected by it, are behind them. They are fighting for our future.
United Hollywood has published an absolute must-read for anyone interested in the writers strike, or anyone who has been affected by it. I don’t normally like to do this, but I am quoting it in it’s entirety here because it is so spot on and makes the best case that I have heard yet for a strong stand by the WGA against the AMPTP:
This piece is by WGA strike captain Alfredo Barrios, a former corporate attorney turned writer. It offers insight into what the AMPTP methods and rationale for undermining the writers’ resolve. Thanks to Ashley Gable for submitting this to us. -JA
We’re two months into the strike, and I’ve noticed a certain confusion and fear emanating from certain quarters about how things have been “handled” by our “leadership.” Some ask: are we being too militant with our demands and “rhetoric” and all this picketing and chanting? Isn’t that what’s keeping the studios from “coming back to the table?” Shouldn’t we be nicer guys and gals? If we were, surely they’d come back, right? I mean, we have to show we’re “reasonable.”
From other quarters, people pose the question: why are the studios acting so insanely? Our demands are reasonable. Don’t they understand that they have a lot to lose? Surely, it’s the hardliners who are holding things up, right?
Regardless of what camp you fall in, everyone is grasping for an explanation of why the studios are acting the way they are. That’s because with the exception of a few carefully prepared press releases, a trade ad or two, and some supposed “leaked” stories, we haven’t heard directly from any of the CEOs about the strike. We’ve only heard from Nick Counter – their point man. Their lawyer.
I’m here to tell you, as a former litigator who spent several years at one of the biggest corporate law firms in the world, that we’re all in engaged in a huge lawyering game, and things are proceeding accordingly. For the record, I have never met Nick Counter, but I spent all of my years as a lawyer working for guys like him, in service of the types of conglomerates he now represents, against people like us.
So I’ll briefly spell out the rules of the game and my view of what it will take to win the strike – and by win, I mean accelerating toward a resolution with the studios on terms that are favorable to us.
First, understand the relationship between Nick Counter and the studios. It’s essentially a lawyer-client relationship. The AMPTP is run by lawyers like Nick Counter and Carol Lombardini. Think of it as an in-house law firm. Their goal is to “negotiate” deals with unions on behalf of their clients – the studios.
As lawyers, Counter and Lombardi have to justify their paycheck. What does that mean? They have to add value. They’ve promised to deliver a more favorable labor deal than the studios would get without them. Otherwise, there would be no point in hiring them (or more aptly, keeping them around). So our loss is their gain. And the bigger our loss, the bigger their gain.
Now here’s the thing to remember, fairness and reasonableness have NOTHING TO DO with their approach. No corporate lawyer I’ve ever known has ever met with a client and promised to get them the most “fair and equitable deal” possible. That’s not their goal. Instead, they promise to save them a lot of money – remember, added value. If the studios were genuinely interested in reaching a fair and equitable deal, the CEOs and their CFOs would talk directly to our negotiating committee and financial people, and a deal could be reached today – by the way, this is what we’re driving towards. We will know we will have won when the CEOs and their CFOs talk to us directly – more on this later. Back to Counter…
So, what exactly have Counter and Lombardi promised their clients – the studio heads? Two things: a specific outcome by a certain point in time and peace of mind.
CEOs hate uncertainty. They run their businesses based on long-range plans that are based on long-range assumptions. So as a lawyer, you do your very best to put their mind at ease when faced with an inherently unstable situation – be it a lawsuit, a takeover deal, or a strike. You say to them, “You don’t have to worry about a thing. We have this under control.” Then you spell out what you believe (more often hope) is the most likely outcome. “We feel confident that we can
…get this suit dismissed at the pre-trial stage.”
“… get this deal closed by Christmas.”
“…resolve this strike by_______ on ________ terms.”
The CEOs nod their heads happily, confident that their well-heeled, well-paid lawyers are looking out for their interests, and then go about their business.
So what is that timeframe and what are the terms? My guess is that Counter and Lombardi promised to hold the line on DVDs (still a significant source of revenue for the studios at $15.7 billion in U.S. sales last year) and to rollback residuals and the attendant pension and health contributions that flow from them. By now, we all know that no payments on new media equals a rollback in residuals. And given pattern bargaining, getting rid of our residuals means getting rid of residuals and attendant P and H contributions industry wide. A huge cost savings. Fairness and equity have nothing to do with it. Remember, added value.
By when? My guess is just short of killing pilot season. Writing off the rest of this season may have been worth the gains that Counter promised. We’re talking about rolling back residuals and P and H contributions not only in this year, but also well into the future.
So why not write off pilot season also? Remember, CEOs hate uncertainty. They can quantify the losses from writing off this season. But they can’t do that with a write-off of the entire upcoming pilot season. Too many variables. How will reality do? How will their advertisers react? How much audience will they lose permanently? On top of that, they forego a huge revenue injection from the upfronts – over $18 billion was reportedly taken in by the TV industry as a whole in 2007 (nearly double the box office take on movies for all of last year). And they face a second labor strike in June – SAG. Shareholders are only so patient… or forgiving. And remember, they like certainty, too. That’s why they’ve already been taking their money elsewhere – shares of media companies have been falling at a greater rate than the market at large (check out TheStreet.com’s December 20, 2007 article, “Strike May Rewrite Stocks’ Script”).
Going back to CEO peace of mind. This comes in a couple of forms. First, lawyers tell their clients that they won’t have to get their hands dirty. Lawyers will be the bad cops on their behalf. They’ll serve as a shield for their clients. Lawyers always want their clients to feel comfortable – that’s part of what’s promised. “Go about your life. Don’t worry about a thing.” Second, it comes in the form of laying out how things will play out. “You can expect that the plaintiffs will engage in several months of discovery…” “…the company you’re hoping to acquire will seek a white knight,” “…the strike will lose steam and the writers will fragment.” All things that have a very good chance of happening. And when they do, the lawyer looks like a genius, and his client thinks, “Man, I’m in really good hands. I have nothing to worry about.” It’s about managing expectations.
THE LAWYER’S STRATEGY
Lawyers try to do three things to their adversaries: (1) get them to doubt the validity of their position; (2) undervalue whatever cards they’re holding (in other words, underestimate whatever leverage they have); and (3) kill their resolve.
How does a lawyer get an adversary to doubt his position? Well, in litigation, it comes by spinning the facts. In transactional deals, by spinning the financial numbers. And in a strike situation, by spinning both. One common technique is making a nonsensical argument so many times that it begins to take on the air of a legitimate one and eventually some people (judges, jury, the public in general and sometimes even your adversaries) begin to accept it as truth. Lawyers are masters of this. Think of these doozies: “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit,” “Smoking doesn’t cause cancer,” and my personal favorite, “We don’t have a business plan for or any real revenue from the Internet.” Or how about that $130 million offer that the studios supposedly made us several weeks back? The one that didn’t actually add up. Facts and numbers are spun every day in the courtroom, in the negotiating room and in the press by lawyers.
Now, here’s the thing to remember. It’s the lawyer who does the spinning. No CEO wants to do it. Why? Because so many of them want to be known as “straight shooters” – i.e., guys who don’t lie. Plus, they like to be liked. And going out and spinning facts and numbers… well, that’s like acting like a lawyer. Like Nick Counter. That’s why they hired him to do it. They want to be comfortable. Notably, neither Counter nor any of the CEOs has actually done any real press interviews to defend their position. Not hard to see why: it’s utter nonsense. So they spin in press releases or “leaked” stories that are regurgitated by mouthpiece trade papers and other seemingly “unbiased” but wholly bought off parties.
And how does a corporate lawyer gets an adversary to lose confidence in whatever leverage he has? One way is to engage in positional bargaining. That means anchoring your negotiating position to an extreme and unprincipled number over such a long period of time that your adversary starts to doubt the cards he’s holding and eventually moves off of his number and gets closer to yours. That’s what the AMPTP has been attempting to do with its new media proposals – or actually, lack of proposals. They’ve anchored to basically zero payments for new media in the face of our fairly principled new media proposals. They’re hoping that doubt will creep into our psyche – “Wow, man, those companies are really holding to that number, maybe our bargaining position isn’t as strong as a I thought. Maybe we should take whatever the DGA gets.” And so on…
Once you start down that path, you’re losing your resolve. The corporate lawyer knows you’ll start to rationalize why you should take a really bad deal. And you start to buy into the arguments he’s making – “That lawyer of yours isn’t doing you any favors.” “I hate to tell you this, but you’re wasting a lot of time and energy with this case. It’s a loser.” “As a guy who knows, you should take what we’re offering you because it’s not going to get better.” Sound familiar? It’s the sort of stuff being put out by the AMPTP’s PR guru, Chris Lehane, who, by the way, is also a lawyer – and a classmate of mine from law school. Small world, huh? Couple this psychological warfare with the increasing expense of fighting… and people will crack.
Posture and overwhelm with superior power – or the semblance of power. That’s Corporate Lawyering 101.
So… how do we win?
In my experience, the guys that win against corporate lawyers and their clients – and believe me, I’ve seen it happen – are the guys that (a) never lose sight of their cards – in other words, aren’t fooled into believing that they’re holding garbage, and (b) play lots of offense.
I’ll begin with playing offense. That means taking the fight to the other guy’s client – the decision makers – the CEOs. Remember, THEY LIKE TO BE COMFORTABLE. That’s what their lawyer promised them they would be. So how do you take the fight to them? Well, in litigation, you bring them into the game by making them the target of discovery – you depose them, go through their papers, ask them all sorts of question. You take them out of their comfort zone. You make them the focal point of the case… they’re the bad guy. In transactional matters, say a takeover attempt where you represent the buyer, you go after the “entrenched management” that wants to deprive the shareholders of the real value of their holdings… they’re the bad guy. In a strike, you hold the CEOs accountable. Why? Because they are ultimately the bad guys… the buck stops with them, and they need to be reminded of that always. Counter is just their hired gun.
And by taking the fight to them. I mean, maintaining picket lines at the studios at peak levels, relentlessly picketing locations, continuing to put out creative videos that entertain and inform people about the strike, denying waivers to award shows and picketing those shows, seeking alternative ways to put out creative work on the Internet for pay, etc.
Playing this kind of offense serves a couple of purposes. First, when a CEO drives through the studio gates, or hears about how a location shoot was impacted by picketing (like for example, when an actor leaves the set or a day has been added to the schedule), or sees how his untenable bargaining positions are being ripped apart on websites, or is told about how his award show is falling apart, or reads how Google is about to form a competing entertainment powerhouse, it all collectively begins to call into question the promise that Counter made – i.e., that we would crumble. It’s a daily reminder that we are not losing our resolve. It makes him worry. His expectations aren’t being met. Things are uncertain again. And it begins to chip away at Counter’s credibility as the guy who could resolve the strike with minimal inconvenience to the studio CEOs.
This last point is important. Why? Because the way you win is by taking the lawyer out of the equation. Deny him the promise that he made to his client – i.e., that he would add value by battering all of us down. Once the CEOs begin to believe that we’ll stick to our guns until we get a fair and equitable deal, that’s when we’ve won. That’s when the CEOs and their CFOs will step in and begin to deal directly with us. Why not Counter? Because his job wasn’t to deal with real and fair numbers; it was to screw us. Once he fails at that, it’s time for others to step in. Trust me, it happens.
But it requires believing in the cards you’re holding – your leverage – and sticking it out. The bigger the show of resolve, the faster the CEOs will dispatch Counter. As profit losses mount and their share prices take bigger hits, the studios will realize that holding out for Counter’s promise looks increasingly like a fool’s game.
But the CEOs will only step in if they believe a fair a reasonable deal can be reached. That’s why it’s important to always maintain principled bargaining proposals on the table – as I believe we have throughout. Unlike Counter, I don’t believe we’re engaging in the positional bargaining. Having said that, I think we made one very serious mistake in continuing to keep our DVD proposals off the table. Bad faith bargaining – like the type that Counter has engaged throughout – can never be rewarded, and I have heard no compelling reason to keep our DVD proposals off the table. As I mentioned above, DVD sales in the U.S. alone were nearly a $16 billion revenue stream for the studios in 2007. I understand that DVD sales are declining, but they still dwarf revenue from the Internet – which is forecasted to total $4 billion over the next 3 years. And that’s the length of our contract: 3 years. So we gave up a piece of that greater pie for what? Nothing. Some might say: but it was either a DVD bump or a new media deal. Really? Says who? We have principled arguments to get an increased share of DVDs and a fair slice of new media – and, I believe, the leverage to get both.
As the upcoming DGA talks proceed, I predict that Counter will try to ram a really bad deal down the director’s throats. And he may succeed, given the makeup of that union’s membership and their historic appeasement of studios during labor talks. I suspect that whatever deal is reached will be slightly better than what was offered us (it certainly couldn’t be worse) and will be wielded like a stick to beat us into taking it as well. The DGA leadership will certainly have every incentive to spin it as a huge win for them and the industry. How could they not? It costs the studios nothing to take this approach. If we don’t take the same deal, they’re back to dealing with us, and the DGA is the only loser.
As for acting like “nicer” and “more accommodating” guys and gals… Well, let me just say that in all of my years as a corporate lawyer, “nice” and “accommodating” adversaries who never stuck to their guns and didn’t bring the fight to us never got better deals. They only get worse ones. So don’t buy into the our-leadership’s-too-militant line of argument. They’re not. They’re being appropriately tough. Trust me, you wouldn’t want it any other way. Now it’s up to the rest of us to hang tough with them.
I’ve said before that this strike is going to last awhile. The congloms will try to do whatever it takes to divide the writers and set them against each other. These people do not know the meaning of the word “fair”. They base every decision they make on how it will affect their bottom line. As corporate CEOs and CFOs they are required by law to make their decisions based on maximizing profit. The Golden Globes have been cancelled, and if a deal isn’t made soon the Oscars may suffer the same fate. I can’t see them letting that happen. As soon as it is no longer profitable for them to let the strike continue they will come back to the table and make a deal.
The WGA needs to hang together and show the CEOs that they will stay out as long as it takes.
By Stephen Fleischman
Brother, can you spare a dime?
The illegitimate Bush Administration (product of a stolen election in the year 2000) has instituted a series of failed policies, foreign and domestic, since it took power.
As a result, the nation, today, is failing. We are heading into an economic no-man’s-land on the home front and into a perilous situation in the world, the chaos spreading out from the disaster our military has created in Iraq.
Starting a war in Iraq, in March of 2003, turned into the most catastrophic foreign policy decision this country has ever made. It was based on the lie that there were weapons of mass destruction in that country that were a threat to us. Four and a half years later, we’re still spending American lives and billions of taxpayer dollars as a result of that lie.
The 911 “events”, George Bush’s “Reichstag Fire”, gave him the foothold to climb aboard the fright engine that propels the “war on terror”. The phrase is a gimmick for maintaining an endless war. The pattern is clear. Scare the devil into people and you’ll get away with murder, mass murder.
And so he has. Two trillion dollars later, our troops in Iraq are running around in circles chasing and killing Iraqi civilian insurgents (freedom fighters?) and our soldiers are being killed for no purpose. The word victory is meaningless. A Bush speechwriter came up with a fetching slogan, “When the Iraqis stand up, we’ll stand down”. Sheer, meaningless nonsense. Bush and the Pentagon neocons have no intention of pulling out of Iraq by anyone’s time-table. Former DOD Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his neocon coterie in the Pentagon made that quite clear by approving the tensile report of the William Kristol-Robert Kagan so-called educational organization, “Project for a New American Century”, a bare-faced exposition of their hegemonic head trip through the Middle East, if not the world.
Supplemental funding bills, voted on by the sheeply Democrats in Congress, provide for the construction of up to 14 permanent US bases in Iraq. The idea is to use these bases to project US power throughout the Middle East and to control sources of oil as far east as the Caspian region.
We’ve seen the result of it thus far; the destruction of Afghanistan and Iraq and the exacerbation of a civil war in Iraq.
Failed Foreign Policy #2: Bush’s unfettered support for the cagey president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, to the tune of ten billion dollars.
Musharraf was supposed to use that money to help fight the “war on terror” — defeat Al Qaeda, eliminate the Taliban and capture Osama bin Laden, who reputedly has been hanging out in the tribal areas on the Afghan border. Musharraf has done none of these things.
A rational policy analyst might figure out that Musharraf has been playing a double game; using the ten billion to entrench himself in power while making token efforts to fight Al Qaeda and chase bin Laden around. Meanwhile, Islamic fundamentalists are gaining strength and are poised to take over the country, including its stockpile of nuclear weapons. With the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, who might have made a difference, the viability of Musharraf is even shakier. Nice going, George W. Bush! What do we do now?
Domestic policies haven’t fared much better. Tax cuts for the rich haven’t helped. The destruction of the labor movement is almost complete. With the off-shoring of manufacturing and the outsourcing of jobs, purchasing power is kicking into the dirt. The rise in the number of billionaires may be what’s dragging the economy around. But without a viable middle class and with a destitute underclass, the economy won’t get very far.
Economists are predicting a recession in the near future, if, in fact, it hasn’t already come through the rabbit hole. This one may have a bottomless pit, and we may be staring deep depression right in the face.
Depression stares right back at you with two faces — hyperinflation and deflation. You don’t know which will be the one that gets you. Hyperinflation is inflation that is out of control (Germany after World War I). Prices increase rapidly as the currency loses its value. Deflation is the opposite — a decrease in the general price level and in the money supply. There’s not much around (US after the Stock Market crash of 1929).
These days we have something new. We have the Euro to fight, the currency of united Europe. With oil now at $100 a barrel, if we have to start paying for it in Euros, we’ll be well on our way to hell in a hand-basket. We have China and Japan bankrolling our debt. If they should call in their paper, we will have arrived in Hades without a paddle.
Has Bush come up with any ameliorating economic policies that might stop the plunge? Not that anyone can see, hear or smell. Within the next year, the lame duck will be quacking off the stage of history, leaving young American soldiers still dying in Iraq.
Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell,
Full of that Yankee Doodly Dum …
Say, don’t you remember, I’m your pal?
Buddy, can you spare a dime?
(Originally posted on Smirking Chimp)