New Year's Resolutions - this time I REALLY mean it!

Welcome to my last blog posting of 2008.

As the lights go down on this unbelievable year, it's time to pause and consider what happened and chart a course for next year - personally, professionally and for our planet

Okay so what happened?
The inevitable economic meltdown occurred. Who is to blame? Let me list them in self-righteous order:
1.The greedy financiers who gave us money so we could buy things we didn't need. What were they thinking?
2. The shameless politicians who refused to regulate those greedy financiers and restrict our freedom to hurt ourselves. Where was political courage when we most needed it?
3. Those neighbors who bought all those fancy things that we just had to have- you know, to keep up. Why are neighbors so mean?
4. The celebrity-obsessed culture of ours that bombarded us with that Britney-Paris-Amy junk that didn't give us enough time to learn what was really going on around us. It's shameful. Who do they think they are betting that we wouldn't use our brains?
5. The weight that I didn't lose. [Oh yeah...about that 35 pound Resolution from last year....this time I really mean it!] It must be those terrible people who put calorie-laden food near me and didn't force me to exercise more.

So what can we do to turn this around?
1. Stop wasting our time surfing the channels on television and the junk sites on the internet. That would free up about two hours a day right there. Write a book. Or a movie. Or a play. Or a short story. Put our talents to use. You only go through this world once. [My apologies to the Reincarnationists in my subscriber list.]
2. Do something good or kind for someone every day without them knowing about it.
3. Educate ourselves - about the economy, the arts, history, language. The world is a beautiful place but it requires education to really appreciate its fullest beauty.
4. Stop negative thinking. Too many people talk themselves out of accomplishments before they even start. Give yourself a positive mantra every day. Visualize what it is you want to accomplish. Set out a plan. And do it.
5. Get organized. We all waste the equivalent of a 40 hour work-week annually just trying to find files, looking for stuff - and going crazy in the process. If you can, bring in an organizer to help you or spend an hour a day getting organized - in your personal, family, professional, hobby, and every aspect of your life. I admit I'm not there yet. But I'm starting.
6. Tell the key people in our lives that we love them. Often. You'll never regret it and they will always remember it.
7. Have dinner with our families at least three times a week. Those are the times you get to share, learn about each other, and build a family ritual that is enduring for generations.
8. As you do all those, don't forget to have fun. Life is way too short. Even in tough times, you can still give some focus to what interests you, excites you, makes you laugh, gives you joy.

So those are my thoughts on the year that's passed and the year that awaits us.

Caroline Kennedy and the New York Times

Now let's turn to the now famous New York Times Interview with Senate wannabe Caroline Kennedy. I have two words for Ms. Kennedy...'media training'!!! If she was trained then more is required obviously. She would be the hands-down winner of the 'you know' awards for sure (140 times in the interview). It was cringe-worthy in Sarah Palin terms, as you will see:


However, the following sequence almost redeemed her entire interview:
[conducted by Nicholas Confessore and David M. Halbfinger - NC and DH]

"NC: Was he [your husband] the first person you told — do you know if you uttered the words, ‘I think I’m gonna go for this?’ Or, something like it?

CK: Well, I don’t know if I utter those kinds of words, but yes. You know, it was a mutual decision.

NC: Could you, for the sake of storytelling, could you tell us a little bit about that moment, like, where you were, what you said to him about your decision, how that played out?

CK: Have you guys ever thought about writing for, like, a woman’s magazine or something? (Laughter)

DH: What do you have against women’s magazines?

CK: Nothing at all, but I thought you were the crack political team here. As I said, it was kind of over a period of time, you know, obviously we talked about politics, we talked about what’s going on, we’ve been watching the team that the president-elect is putting together — Hillary Clinton is going to be a spectacular part of that team, you know, then there was a vacancy here, you know, just like everybody else, you know: who’s going to fill it, isn’t that interesting, there’s a lot of great candidates, you know, obviously I have become much more politically involved than I have in the past, so you know, I figure, why not try, I really think I have something to offer.

NC: But there was no one moment you can draw on —

CK: I know I wish there was, I’ll think about it.

NC: If there isn’t, that’s what it was, that’s fine too. We’re not the crack political team, we’re always looking for good anecdotes and good stories."

So there you have it: "good anecdotes and good stories". Her crack about women's magazines will be a problem for her, but there is a grain of truth to it. When New York Times reporters start to ask Oprah-like questions, it's hard not to laugh at the crack. All the news that's fit to print' indeed!

I can already hear the cast of 'Saturday Night Live' getting ready to pounce! Hang in there Caroline - it's only the New York Times. The real challenge will be surviving Tina Fey!

Until Next Year....be safe and try to find some joy in this crazy world.

P.S. watch for our new website http://www.mcloughlinmedia.com which will be up and running early in the New Year. At which time I will move this blog onto the site. All of our old www.ceo.tv web and email contacts will be directed over there during the initial transition phase. It's time for 'change you can believe in'!! [Although I think that slogan has already been taken....]


Barry's annual achievement awards

Welcome back to my tiny slice of the blogosphere!
If you aren't too crazed already by the pre-Christmas partying, shopping, shoveling or last-minute work overload, I want to pre-empt awards season with my own awards representing the good, the bad and the ugly of what occurred this year in the media and in the world of politics and business.

Drum Roll Please......

The Johnson & Murphy "I looked into his eyes and could see his sole" award goes to Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi. I thought the endless replaying of the video and the television newscasts tended to treat it as a harmless prank. More than a touch unprofessional in my view. By the way, the journalist was able to fire off two shoes in 2.5 seconds, before a fellow journalist (?!) [not the Secret Service] hauled him down! Wait for the "second shoe" theory to take hold in the blogosphere.

And the Rod Blagojevich Chutzpah Award Goes to...
Bernard Madoff who mastered the Ponzi scheme to rip-off a who's who of sophisticated investors and savvy people including Stephen Spielberg. The real disgrace is that the SEC were notified specifically of what he was doing, but failed to move in on this fiasco in time to protect investors.

The Sarah Palin "I can see Russia from my backyard" award goes to....
Sarah Palin who followed her disastrous Charlie Gibson interview by giving equal time to ....Katie Couric! This would fall into the official definition of insanity which is a "persistent belief that doing the same thing in the same way will lead to a different result."

The "is it just me or did I miss the point of that?" award goes to...Stephane Dion, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe who conducted an elaborate signing ceremony on Parliament Hill to commemorate a TWO PARTY coalition [then spent the next week loudly proclaiming that it was NOT a THREE PARTY coalition - that Duceppe guy and his Bloc Quebecois party weren't really part of it]. That old communications rule that 'visuals cancel out content' could not have been better illustrated. 018639.bin

The "what can I say he's still a KGB thug" award is permanently given to Vladimir Putin. You have no equal sir!

The Marie Antoinette "let them eat cake" award goes to AIG executives who partied on the taxpayers' dime days after their bail-out....the Big Three CEOs who flew to Washington on their private jets with their hands out...brings to mind the old Russian proverb...'the difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.'

"The fundamentals of the economy are sound" award
goes to John McCain who forgot the golden rule of politics - when the public is worried, you gotta be worried too.

So, it's been quite a year - exciting politically, disturbing economically and sickening internationally. However, hope is in the air. People are inherently optimistic and they want to see politicians work together in a serious way to tackle the serious problems that we all face.
It appears that President-elect Obama gets that. He is reaching across the aisles, and seems determined to truly make a difference. Hopefully, he can rein in people's expectations and govern as well as he campaigned.

I will be going to the Inauguration as it is a truly historic occasion and I'm truly looking forward to it.

See you next year! Merry Christmas, Happy Channukah, Joyeux Noel, Felice Navidad and....Happy New Year!!!!

All the best


That Was the Week That Was

Welcome back everyone!

I titled my last blog posting based on a great British series ('A Very British Coup'), so while I'm still in that mood, I am calling this one after another of my favorite Brit series, 'That Was the Week That Was'. In fact, in my childhood, I loved that series (hosted by David Frost, but more on him later) so much that when my writing partner, Ken Shaw, and I pitched our first television series, 'Sshhh it's the News', which ultimately ran on Global TV for 78 episodes in 1974-76, we based it on "TW3". The British version - had only run for two seasons to huge audiences, but was shut down before the 1964 election by the government of Alec Douglas-Hume - who was getting fed up with being skewered so mercilessly. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0131188/

The Canadian Crisis Cools Down...for Now

After coming within a whisker of taking control of the government through a coalition with the NDP and guaranteed by the Bloc Quebecois, the Liberals couldn't move fast enough to show their leader the respect they thought he deserved. He was out the door and replaced by Michael Ignatieff faster than Gov. Rod Blagojevich could auction off an Illinois Senate seat. [By the way, his indictment for that haircut alone was long overdue!]

Gov. Blagojevich and his unindicted hair

That whole Canadian episode seems to put paid to the notion that in politics 'winning is everything' (which I don't subscribe to). When they think you have a chance of assuming power, they swear their undying loyalty. When it's clear you failed, you are history! I actually felt sorry for Mr. Dion. He was a decent man who clearly wasn't able to navigate the political waters and after capsizing the Liberal ship in the election was miraculously thrown a lifeline. I mean you can't blame him for trying!

Sssshhh....the Coalition goes over a cliff but do his ex-partners realize it?

Watching Michael Ignatieff's first news conference after the caucus selected him Leader, I couldn't help but feel that the Coalition is dead in everything but name only. You read it here first. Michael Ignatieff will NEVER AGREE to have the NDP in his Cabinet. He already indicated that if the government falls after its January 27th budget he will go to the Governor General and simply ask for the opportunity to seek the confidence of the House. Period. However, I believe that he will find a way to criticize the budget but allow it to pass. He's no fool. He needs a minimum of 18 months to rebuild the Party coffers, re-build the shattered Liberal brand, and create a bridge to the Canadian voters.

The Big Three Go to Washington (the sequel)
Having shed their private jets and driven to Washington in their own cars, Detroit's big three auto CEOs did a much better job of making their case...but not enough to convince Republican lawmakers that it's a good deal for the taxpayers. As of this writing, even Barack Obama's involvement has come to naught, so, unless there is a last-minute bail-out, a nightmare scenario may indeed unfold with potentially hundreds of thousands of workers thrown out of work. If only the Big Three had been banks or investment firms rolling the dice with depositors' money they would be given all the money they need! To quote Jimmy Carter, "life is unfair".

Frost/Nixon - the Movie

Speaking of David Frost, I'm looking forward to seeing the movie this weekend, as I was blown away by the Broadway stage show. As a sidebar, I remember many years ago working on a variety series that was being directed by Jorn Winther, a Dutch-born director who had just returned from directing the actual Frost-Nixon interviews in San Clemente. Last year, I just happened to be visiting the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda CA and Ron Howard was there directing Frank Langella and Michael Sheen, which I must say was pretty neat.

So I hope to get one more missive out before Christmas but if I miss you, I sincerely hope that you have a peaceful, happy break, because let's face it, we all deserve it, don't we?

Until next time...


A Very Canadian Coup

Welcome back.

Is this a crazy year or what? On the same day that Barack Obama chooses his long-time nemesis, Hillary Clinton as his Secretary-of-State-designate, Canada takes a huge leap into the unknown.


It looks as if the newly-elected Harper Government may come crashing down, following a heavily-criticized economic statement that contained several controversial elements. The most antagonizing to the Opposition was the proposed cut-off of the $1.95 per-vote public subsidy for each party based on the last federal election results. Even though it would have taken more money away from the well-heeled Conservatives, it would have decimated the other parties, who would have to actually raise that money, instead of being bequeathed it by the taxpayer.

The other provocative piece was the proposed banning of public-sector strikes until 2010.That guaranteed NDP outrage. Even though the Finance Minister pulled those components over the weekend, and announced the moving up of the Budget date to January 27th, the blood was already in the water, and now all three Opposition parties [Stephane Dion's Liberals, the NDP's Jack Layton and the Bloc Quebecois' Gilles Duceppe have signed an official deal to form a coalition government].

So what should Stephen Harper do now?

The government's 'proroguing' the House, in an attempt to prevent the vote from taking place until the Budget is tabled, would be their last-gasp effort to stave off defeat. The Opposition Coalition, in their letter that they have already sent to Her Excellency the Governor General, are asking for the right to face the House and seek the 'confidence of the House' for the coalition, if the Government falls on a confidence motion, scheduled for December 8th.

The Governor General is probably flying back as I write this. It will be the challenge of Gov. Michaelle Jean's tenure and she will not want to remain in Europe in the run-up to her decision. There is an even chance that when she returns, she will consult and weigh carefully the advice. Will she agree? My gut tells me that she may well do it. Of course, that, in turn, would be very divisive, re-opening long-dormant debates about how an unelected individual can control the fate of a duly-elected government. Well, she can, and it has only been used once before in the famous King-Byng affair. Google that if you're fascinated.

Which will mean, the most significant political event since Joe Clark's government was defeated nine months after it was elected in 1979, thus allowing the late Pierre Trudeau to emerge from the ashes of defeat. As with Stephane Dion, he had announced his intention to step down too.
[Although I can't imagine Pierre Trudeau agreeing to enter into a coalition with the Separatists.]

The proroguing of the House in order to stave off the inevitable is now the only chance the government has to get its act together, and to rally the public and then present the Budget to the House on January 27th, 2009. That would give Prime Minister Harper and his government time to prepare the ground for an all-out public relations war. If his government is defeated on that vote, then of course the Government would fall. But at least it would be on a tangible document, not just an 'economic update'. That Budget would have to contain the stimulus that Prime Minister Harper and his G20 colleagues promised in Lima, Peru only ten days ago, in which each committed to investing 2% of Gross Domestic Product - which for Canada means $30 billion dollars of stimulus.

The downside of the 'prorogue' maneuver is that it will make the government look weak, having just been elected to lead the country through difficult economic waters.

Ironically, if the Coalition does convince the Governor General to hand them over the keys to the government, there is no way that the Coalition government can bring forward a budget or any serious commitment prior to January 27th, 2009 anyway!

But good policy does not always make good politics and vice versa.

As a sidebar to the sideshow....
I have also long predicted that Green Party Leader Elizabeth May will be appointed to the Senate and then given the post of Environment Minister.

And they say that Canada is boring!! A very Canadian coup indeed.....

Until next time..."Please don't remain remain calm" (thank you Michael Kinsley).
Somehow Canada will muddle through eh?