Poor Stagemanager

You know it's a sad day in Puppetland when John Hood has nothing better to do than whine about the mean old News and Observer and the bullies at BlueNC. But whining he is, and it's one of the funniest things I've read in a long, long time.

Let's take it apart.

RALEIGH – I’d like to be able to claim credit for a colossal, unprecedented feat of public-relations hocus pocus. That would be quite a rush. Unfortunately, the facts would not bear out such a claim.

Not that facts are an impediment to some. Which brings me to Jim Protzman and his allegation that the Raleigh News & Observer has become a mouthpiece for conservatism in general and the John Locke Foundation in particular. Protzman, a former member of the Chapel Hill Town Council and strategic director for the Raleigh public-relations firm CapStrat, is the main founder of a blog site, BlueNC, for progressive Democrats. While the site itself is worth an occasional glance, for those wanting a sense of what some North Carolina Democratic activists are thinking about and working on, Protzman’s contributions (under the nom de plume “Anglico”) border on self-parody.

The fact is, John Hood can claim credit for colossal, unprecedented feats of public relations hocus-pocus every day. Ted Vaden properly labels his self-described "leading think tank" as nothing more than an "opinion manufacturer" - and truer words were never written. With their minds already made up about everything from taxes to charter schools to economic incentives, the Pope Puppets generate hocus-pocus like nobody's business, spoon-feeding it to reporters who suck it down like it actually means something. No peer review, no scientific nothing, just right wing opinions wrapped in right wing facts designed to destroy government and the common good.

And speaking of facts, Mr. Hood should have checked with me before writing that I am the "main founder of BlueNC." I am not the main founder, I am a guy that Lance asked to help with writing at a website he was starting. I'll give Hood credit though, he got my day job title right. He's awfully fond of talking about the work I do when I'm not blogging, but why? I'm guessing he's jealous because he's never had a real job.

It gets even better:

His rules of composition aren’t hard to fathom. Just describe everything as a conspiracy, hatched by Karl Rove and Dick Cheney or, in North Carolina, JLF board member Art Pope.
Oh, and pepper up all these pathetic excuses for argument with profanity. Lots of profanity. That makes flimsy allegations valid. Plus, insult people’s appearance, intelligence, religious faith, and family members (living and dead). That demonstrates one’s virility.

What a dumbass. If John Hood knew one thing about me, he would know I don't give a shit about virility. But I must say, that's pretty damn rich coming from a guy who refers to his kids as The Little General and The Little Conquerer.

I especially like the reference to Pope as a JLF board member. According to his own testimony in the Morgan petition to the State Board of Elections, Art Pope is actively and intimately involved in JLF, and why wouldn't he be. He's spending a fortune to reshape North Carolina politics, and JLF is the tip of the poison spear. Art Pope isn't just a JLF board member, he IS JLF.

But I digress. Let's move on to the heart of the matter:

With regard to Protzman’s claim of a pro-JLF bias at the N&O, however, a response is necessary – not simply because it has been propagated among a few progressive activists, or because it has any chance of meeting the giggle test, but because N&O public editor Ted Vaden chose to highlight the allegation in his Sunday column. I understood why Vaden made the decision – after all, the professional judgment and fairness of the newspaper were being challenged. The resulting column did slap down Protzman’s initial comparison, which wasn’t hard as it was patently absurd (he had compared the number of citations of JLF, a multi-million-dollar operation employing 28 full-time-equivalent position, to the citations of NC Policy Watch, until recently a one-man operation headed by my friend and colleague, Chris Fitzsimon).

There you have it. JLF is a "multi-millin-dollar operation employing 28 full-time equivalent position[sic]." How dare anyone actually compare that grand Puppetshow to the work of lowly NC Policy Watch?

You see, in the world John Hood lives in, money trumps everything. He gets to influence the news because he's the Stagemangaer at a big, bad "multi-million-dollar operation." Who cares if it happens to be filled with ideologues who never met a fact they couldn't twist. John's just like his boss, Art Pope. These guys want to be able to buy and sell news just like they want to buy and sell elections . . . just like Dick Cheney buys and sells barrels of oil. To my knowledge.

John Hood wraps up his screed with this:

To develop a rigorous comparison of how the N&O covers a range of public-policy institutions, you would have to delve more deeply into qualitative assessments. (As I recall it, I learned the fundamentals of media content analysis in a J-school class taught by the brilliant Dr. Jane Brown, who happens to be Protzman’s wife. Ironies abound.)

Though I'm sure Jane would appreciate the compliment, and she is indeed brilliant, I'm having a hard time understanding why Hood feels compelled to include anything whatsover about my wife in his Monday morning rant. Enough said.

What to make of all this?

It's hard to say. My best guess is that the Puppetmaster is pissed because the wheels are starting to fall off his "multi-million-dollar operation." If I were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars every month and my Stagemanager didn't have anything better to do than pick fights with a bunch of profane bloggers, I'd be pissed too.


Johnny! I told you to drink that Prune Juice!

Welcome A, you have reached the big time. John Hood can no longer pretend to have any shred of independence, he is but one more cog in the workings of the Imperial Republic machine of hate-spewing and immorality.* Observer of a prune deprive want to be individual in image building

Congrats A, You have smoke out the neo-con water boy devil himself. It appears that the boys down at party HQ's are feeling the heat big time from the blogging world. I do wish John would take some kind of gut pill to give him relief with that prune face expression he touts on TV.

Ah yes! Nothing like personal attacks from the neo-con anti-conspriacy religious republican phony libertarian right.

Personal Attacks.

Personal attacks are the Republican MO. But, you can't blame John Hood for this attack, for actually writing it yes, but not for the idea. Let's face it, the right-wing hate-spewers couldn't come up with an original idea if it dropped on their head under an apple tree. If the history of America was dependent on the Imperial Republic, we would still be driving in horse & buggies and eating unsliced bread. This message went out last week from the Republican leadership.

Republicans are planning to spend the vast majority of their sizable financial war chest over the final 60 days of the campaign attacking Democratic House and Senate candidates over personal issues and local controversies, GOP officials said.

The National Republican Congressional Committee...dispatched a half-dozen operatives to comb through tax, court and other records looking for damaging information on Democratic candidates.

This kind of order obviously passed from Karl Rove to the RNC, to the Wednesday group, to Art Pope, to his minion John Hood. Welcome A, you have reached the big time. John Hood can no longer pretend to have any shred of independence, he is but one more cog in the workings of the Imperial Republic machine of hate-spewing and immorality.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Living example

Here's an example of how JLF pimps the party line on Living Wage even in the face of evidence to the contrary (from Family Dollar, a competitor of Art Pope's Variety Stores).

Roy Cordato, vice president of research for the John Locke Foundation, a conservative Raleigh-based think tank, said living-wage laws are destructive to the work force.

"If you're talking about $16 an hour, that would be unbelievable," Cordato said. "It would price people out of the market. They'll simply be told you can't be hired - and a zero wage is not a living wage."

But some companies say they thrive when lower-paid workers earn more.

Family Dollar, a Matthews-based discount retailer, supports increases in the minimum wage because it boosts the amount of disposable income its customers have to spend, spokeswoman Kiley Rawlins said.

Rawlins said that in states that recently increased their minimum wage - Vermont, New York, Florida and New Jersey - the company saw some of its best sales figures in years. Although Family Dollar had to pay its own workers more, the net result was still positive, she said. North Carolina recently passed a $1 minimum wage increase to $6.15 that goes into effect in January.

"It does speak to the fact that a minimum-wage increase does benefit the lower income sector, and that's who we serve," she said. "Over the last two years we've seen price increases for basic necessities like gasoline, and yet these folks haven't seen much of a core living increase."


Cordato said efforts to increase the minimum wage or establish a living wage are misguided.

Job loss is the WMD of Economic Theory

Here is a taste from this much longer argument on increasing the minimum wage.

Despite the fact that contemporary economic research casts a long shadow of doubt on the contention that moderate minimum wage increases cause job losses, opponents still lead with this argument. This so-called “disemployment” argument is particularly difficult to maintain given two relatively recent developments in the history of minimum wages. First, the quality of empirical minimum wage research rose steeply over the last decade, due largely to economists’ ability to conduct pseudo-experiments3. Such experiments, rare in empirical economics, typically utilize the fact that numerous states (12 as of today) have raised their minimum wage above that of the federal level. This variation between states gives researchers a chance to isolate the impact of the wage change and test its impact on employment and other relevant outcomes. As stressed in the Card and Krueger book cited above, these studies reveal employment elasticities that hover about zero, i.e., they solidly reject the conventional hypothesis that any increase in the minimum wage leads to job losses among affected workers.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.


The most powerful word that Democrats could add to their vocabulary. When standing in a debate, the Democrat calls for a living wage, the Republican says it will cost low-income people their jobs, the Democrat looks at him, shakes his head and says...

"You're a liar. There has been study after study showing that a rise in the minimum wage doesn't slow the economy or hurt small businesses. You're either completely incompetent in this field, or you're a liar, there are no other choices."

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.


I would also like those same democrats and the media in particular to make the right-wingers back up their statements with evidence.

Like the quote from whatshisname above about the $16 an hour worker. It would have been really cool if that conversation had actually gone like this,

Cordato: "If you're talking about $16 an hour, that would be unbelievable," Cordato said. "It would price people out of the market. They'll simply be told you can't be hired - and a zero wage is not a living wage."

Reporter: "Uh huh. Well first of all, no one is talking about raising the minimum wage to $16 an hour. Second of all, do you have any evidence to back up your argument that wage increases lead to unemployment?"

Cordato: "Sure! It's basic economic theory."

Reporter: "Um. Yeah, that's great but do you actually have any evidence? Can you point to any peer reviewed studies to back up your conjecture? Because otherwise we're not going to print anything you say."

Cordato: "Um, welll [stammers some more and looks around nervously]. Hey look OVER THERE A BEAR!" [Jumps out of office window and runs away]

This almost sounds real.....

except the reporter part....they don't ask questions like that and when Helen Thomas dies there won't be anyone else left who knows how.

Click on the hat to see all Citizen Journalist files

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Yeah, but

Mr. Cordato, basic economic theory is just a theory and should be viewed as such.

Besides, the proof is in the pudding. Robert has brought his pudding ... in the form of facts and figures from real life, not theory. Where is the neo-Con-men's pudding?

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

John Locke Foundation

You may be able to give more substance to "the wheels are beginning to fall off."

The John Locke foundation boasts online ( http://www.johnlocke.org/about/media_and_public_relations.html ) of 400,000 unique visitors a year and 150,000 page views a month for its four, separate Web sites taken as a group.

For an established entity -- one which relentlessly promotes itself via broadcast and print media has labored mightly to bring up a network of (nonperforming) blogs -- those are lackluster numbers.

Small, nonprofit publications with a fraction of the resources do better.

Of course the John Locke Foundation prefers to compare the performance of governmental and nonprofit entities to that of for-profit entitities.

Very well.

Let's go there.

Time's Office Pirates, with 11.5 million page views in August, was shut down because it was not economically viable.

Don't we get over 1000 visitors per day?

Is that page visits, UIs, or just plain users?

100,000 page views for four online entities, including the CJ headliner is awful.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Great analysis gwfrink3

BlueNC gets around 1000 unique visitors each day. Yesterday, for example, we had 1217, with more than 3000 page loads.

According to alexa.com, the BlueNC global ranking hovers around 830,000.

JLF is around 1,200,000.

Carolina Journal is around 1,100,000.

(Lower number = higher ranking)

They've had free rein to pollute NC politics for more than a decade. We've been working to clean up their messes for less than a year.

The Puppetmaster spends several hundred thousand dollars a month to build his empire. We spend nothing but time.

The tide is turning.

I can't resist.

"I think -- tide turning -- see, as I remember -- I was raised in the desert, but tides kind of -- it's easy to see a tide turn -- did I say those words?" --George W. Bush, asked if the tide was turning in Iraq, Washington, D.C., June 14, 2006

The New Deal, Progressive Tide...

The Imperial Republic Tide...

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.