"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."


Glenn Reynolds:

Barack Obama:
"Impossible to transcend."

Albert A. Gore, Jr.:
"An incontinent brute."

Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
"God damn the Gentleman Farmer."

Friends of GF's Sons:
"Is that really your dad?"

Kickball Girl:
"Keeping 'em alive until 7:45."

Hired Hand:
"I think . . . we forgot the pheasant."

I'm an
Alcoholic Yeti
in the
TTLB Ecosystem

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The New Nobility

In the mid-1960s eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes decamped from his Los Angeles haunts and took up residence on the top floor of the Desert Inn hotel in Las Vegas.  A few weeks later the mob-connected manager of the hotel, Moe Dalitz, insisted that Hughes move out.  Hughes bought the hotel.  In the days before streaming video, cable television or even the VCR, it irritated Hughes that the local television station, KLAS, channel 8, not only didn't broadcast the kind of movies he liked, but was off the air at night, when Howard was often up and about.  So he bought the television station, kept it on-air all night long, and dictated what movies it would broadcast.  The bizarre story that he dictated the repeated broadcast of his favorite movie, Ice Station Zebra, is true.

Of course that sort of behavior is self-indulgent and narcissistic to the point of diagnosable insanity.  But, at the end of the day, it was Howard's hotel and Howard's money and Howard's television station, so he could do with them pretty much as he pleased.

These days, when a billion dollars isn't what it used to be, it's better to have power than money.  Power is inflation-proof.  If money is necessary, well, then, there's lots of other people's money lying around for power to command.

Bernie Sanders is a United States Senator from the State of Vermont.  Vermont, as you may know, only became a state because New Hampshire and New York couldn't work out their border dispute, but decided that the whole thing wasn't worth fighting over.  The original 13 united States had been colonies, with governments and suchlike trappings.  Vermont, in contrast, was a make-believe state, founded on the twin principles of expediency and disinterest.

And so in the Great Council of Nobles that is the United States Senate, Bernie may not be Barbara, Grand Duchess of California, or Harry, Margrave of Nevada, but he's certainly on a par with, say, a Baronet of Pomerania and Livonia.  And it seems that Baronet Bernie doesn't like what might be broadcast on his favorite station.  Unlike the eccentric Howard Hughes, Bernie doesn't want Ice Station Zebra available whenever he wants it, and, also unlike Howard, Bernie doesn't propose to use his own money:
"If there is a silver lining in the action of MSNBC against Keith Olbermann, it is that people will now pay more attention to the political role of corporate media in America.  While commentators on Fox and right-wing radio have the backing of Rupert Murdoch, a major Republican contributor, and other conservative corporations, progressives understand that their position is extremely vulnerable.  Keith Olbermann was suspended by General Electric’s MSNBC for a bogus reason.  What will prevent the same thing from happening to Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz and other progressives?

“General Electric, NBC’s parent, is one of the largest corporations in the world with an anti-labor history of outsourcing jobs and with financial links to military and nuclear power industries. Surely we understand that GE is not going to provide the same backing for MSNBC commentators that Rupert Murdoch provides for his mouthpieces at Fox News.

“What has not gotten a lot of attention in the midst of this controversy is that GE’s NBC Universal, one of the largest media conglomerates in the country, is in the process of merging with Comcast, the largest cable television provider in America. The new head of that company would be Stephen B. Burke, Comcast’s chief operating officer and a “Bush Ranger” who raised at least $200,000 for the 2004 reelection campaign of President George W. Bush.

“As Vermont’s senator, I intend to do all that I can do to stop this merger.  There already is far too much media concentration in this country. We need more diversity. We need more local ownership. We need more viewpoints.  We do not need another media giant run by a Republican supporter of George W. Bush.  That is the lesson we should learn from the Keith Olbermann suspension.”
So welcome to 21st Century America, fellow commoners, and don't forget to tug that forelock if you encounter Lord Bernie, Viscount of Vermont and Margrave of Montpelier.

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