Monday, October 5, 2009


Stanford Closes Publishing Course, and Studies Possible Successor

The venerable Stanford Publishing Course for Professionals, serving book publishing and magazine professionals since 1978, has closed, a victim of both the economy and larger transitions in the program's core fields. Longtime director Holly Brady is leaving Stanford--saying she "expects to continue the conversation from another vantage point here in Silicon Valley"--and her staff has been dismissed. This move comes amidst broad cost-cutting at Stanford University, with the school recently disclosing a 27 percent drop in their endowment capital over the last fiscal year, with investment losses of approximately $3.5 billion. They reportedly cut over 400 positions earlier in the year and intend to layoff another 60 employees soon.
University Librarian Michael Keller, who oversees the SPPC along with Stanford University Press and many other resources, says that the publishing program "is believed not to be capable of self-sustaining status." Keller writes: "It is deeply troubling to all of us who have been involved in the SPPC over the years, but the recession is affecting the publishing industries and higher education, as it has all other sectors of the global economy. The other factors are, of course, the fundamental changes wrought by the digital information revolution and its many aspects, the changes in reading habits and expectations of consumers of professionally written, edited, and published information, and the perturbations in the advertising arenas, also brought by the World Wide Web." Paid course attendance reportedly declined significantly last year on both the book and magazine sides. Brady echoes that "the problem that got us here is, of course, the digital transformation of the business which has caused so many layoffs in the publishing industry, coupled with the recession. When a company has laid off dozens of people and is struggling to survive itself, it's hard to send staffers to Stanford," regardless of the potential benefits.

Spurred by longtime SPPC faculty including Martin Levin, Dorothy Kalins and Paul Saffo, Keller has appointed managing director of Stanford University Press Geoffrey Burn as surveyor to study "whether another program with a revised pattern of revenue and a different programmatic governance structure might yield an SPPC that is self-sustaining." Other SPPC academic directors have joined in the efforts to enlist industry support to continue and reinvigorate the program and its reach.Keller, Burn and Levin will meet with course alumni at the Frankfurt Book Fair and are consulting with others in the book publishing community with interest and ideas for a revamped program. Burns's assessment and recommendations are due in January and Keller says he has reserved facilities for next summer "on the chance that the SPPC will be revitalized,...but there is no guarantee that the revitalization will occur."

The above appeared in Publishers Lunch Deluxe on September 30, 2009

Learn all about SPPC…

Make 2010 possible by letting me hear from you… email me at See you in Palo Alto in July 2010.

You can read all about the SPPC course and see photos of the students and faculty in action in the booklet below. To flip through the booklet click the right arrow, and to increase the size of each page click the Toggle Full Screen button in the top right corner of the Scribd viewer. If you wish to download and print a copy for yourself click this download link.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Notable 2009 Estate and Income Tax Changes

Our guest blogger is Bob Giordanella whose is one of the tax experts at Cowan, Liebowitz and Latman. One of the high spots of our annual seminar is Bob's survey of what is new in Taxes and Estates. I am delighted that Bob is allowing me to present his overview to you. If you wish to know more about Bob, you can visit his profile at

The start of a new year typically brings a reinvigorated sense of purpose, a list of quickly forgotten resolutions and, inevitably, tax law changes. The following are a few important estate and income tax changes of note (and, with a new Administration in Washington, more is expected to come).


Effective January 1, 2009, the federal applicable exemption amount (commonly referred to as the unified credit amount) increased from $2 million to $3.5 million. The unified credit amount is the amount that you can pass to your heirs free of federal estate and gift tax. With proper planning (requiring a will or trust and properly divided assets), a married couple can pass up to $7 million to their heirs free of federal estate tax. Depending on your state of residence, however, state estate taxes may still be owed. This exemption amount is currently in effect for 2009 only. If you were to die in 2010, your estate would not be subject to any federal estate tax, regardless of size, while if you were to die after December 31, 2010, your estate would be subject to federal estate tax if it exceeds the 2002 exemption amount of $1 million, and the maximum tax rate reverts back to 55% (from the current rate of 45%). It is widely expected that Congress will act this year to retain the current exemption levels for future years.


Effective January 1, 2009, the annual gift tax exclusion increased from $12,000 to $13,000 per donee. The annual gift tax exclusion is the amount you can give each year to another person without impacting your lifetime gift tax exclusion. There is no limit on the number of persons who can receive a gift equal to the annual exclusion. Married couples can give $26,000 to a single donee, and the money can come from one spouse’s assets. However, the couple must file gift tax returns to reflect their election to “split” the gift between them. There has been no change in the lifetime gift tax exclusion of $1 million. The lifetime gift tax exclusion, which is the portion of the unified credit amount that can be given during your lifetime, applies to gifts that are in excess of the annual gift tax exclusion amount. For example, if you were to give $100,000 to another person, both your lifetime gift tax exclusion and your unified credit amount are reduced by $87,000.


As a general rule, individuals age 70 ½ and older are required to withdraw a certain percentage of their IRA or retirement accounts (the “RMD”) every year. The current economic downturn has caused dramatic diminution in value in retirement plan assets. As a result, in late 2008, Congress passed a law which eliminated for 2009 only, the requirement to withdraw the RMD. If you have already withdrawn your RMD for 2009, all is not lost. There is still the opportunity to rollover the RMD withdrawal into an IRA account, but it must be done within 60 days of the distribution date and the entire RMD must be rolled over.


On January 27, 2009, Governor Patterson signed into law a number of changes to the statutory power of attorney form. Originally, the law was to become effective on March 1, 2009, however, the effective date was changed to September 1, 2009 to provide practitioners time to digest the changes.

The most significant change is the creation of the “Statutory Major Gifts Rider,” which is a separately executed and witnessed document giving an agent the power to make major gifts and transfers. The new law further provides that an attorney-in-fact has the authority to access records relating to the provision of health care and to make decisions relating to payment of health care services. The formalities of executing the document have also changed. The attorney in fact must now sign the power of attorney for it to become effective. The new law does not invalidate powers of attorney properly executed prior to September 1, 2009, however, it does present an opportune time for you to review your current power of attorney, as well as your other personal documents, such as your health care proxy, to confirm that these documents reflect your current wishes.


While we always recommend that you periodically review and revise estate documents to reflect changes in circumstances that may have occurred after the documents were executed, it is especially critical given these uncertain times that you revisit your estate plan now. Many wills contain credit shelter provisions which leave a sum equal to the exemption amount in trust for a spouse or children, with the expectation that sufficient assets would remain to pass directly to the surviving spouse. Given the increase in the exemption amount and the current economic downturn, such an expectation may not be fulfilled, leaving far less for a spouse than initially anticipated. In addition, the increase of the applicable exemption amount may also impact your state estate tax liability.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mergers and Acquisitions: Who Buys What and What Do They Pay?

Robert HalperThis is a guest appearance on the Blog by Bob Halper who summarizes his outstanding presentation at the 2009 Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman Publishing Seminar.

Cowan Liebowitz & Latman has been one of the leading advisors to book publishers since the early 1980’s in addition to CLL’s traditional commercial and intellectual property practice.

The Firm, and especially Martin Levin and I, are actively involved in advising publishing and information services clients in a wide range of merger and acquisition transactions, in areas such as school and library publishing, science and professional publishing, trade books, juvenile books, data base businesses, newsletters, establishment of venture capital funds and many other areas of publishing, including electronic publishing. We have successfully completed more than 105 transactions over the last twenty years ranging in value from under $5 million to over $75 million. We have been able to even the playing field for small to mid-size publishers who might otherwise be overmatched when dealing with the resources of larger media companies.

We have worked in this area because I have had extensive experience handling complex commercial transactions in the publishing field, among others. Martin has an in-depth working knowledge of the publishing business, having been a successful operating executive in major publishing conglomerates for 37 years prior to becoming an attorney working on publishing mergers and acquisitions.

This special competence provides our clients with advice on how to establish or increase values, and provides the buyer or seller with entree to the decision makers in publishing and information businesses domestically and abroad. We are also able to add value to publishing transactions by bringing into play specialized tax knowledge to maximize the final benefits of a transaction, and the expertise of our Intellectual Property group, which can give advice on rights that are an essential part of a publishing transaction.

The following is a short summary to help you think about how the values and prices are established.


While it is goal of every representative to achieve the highest possible value for the sale of a business this is especially true in the sale by an independent publisher, who is usually making a once-in-a-lifetime sale of his or her largest single asset. While our current experience in representing clients at the London Book Fair in April 2009 indicated that major buyers are receptive, it is clear that prices will be lower than in previous years. Value will be determined by these factors:

Quality of the Publishing Program.
  • Cash Flow
  • Operating Profit
  • Earnings Before Interest Taxes and Depreciation
  • Revenue
  • Growth Prospects
It is also true that the selling price will vary by the segment of publishing.
  • Segment of the Market
  • Trade
  • Science, Technology and Medical
  • School Library and Academic
The following chart will demonstrate based upon experience how a price can be estimated:

Valuation Examples

TradeAcademic, School & LibraryScience & Professional
Revenue$20 mil$20 mil$20 mil
Operating Profit
as a: % of Revenue
7% - 12%15% - 20%15% - 25%
$ Amount (millions)$1.4 - $2.4$3.0 - $4.0$3.0 - $5.0
Value as a multiple of Revenue:
Multiple1x1.5x- 2.5x2.0x – 3.0x
Value (millions)$20$30 - $50$40 - $60

Thus a trade publisher meeting the quality requirements with an operating profit consistent with the ranges as shown will probably be offered in the range of one times the revenue of his company as a purchase price and following this same process an Academic, School or Library publisher will be offered from 1.5 times to 2.5 times revenue depending upon the quality standard, and finally a Science & Professional Publisher may expect offers in the 2 to 3 times the revenue.

Our experience in working with publishers, even those who are brilliant, has shown us that it takes some additional personal explanation to make sense of how the system works—and this is why we offer to those who are considering a sale, a meeting with us or a phone conversation with me at 212-790-9260 with your questions, free and without obligation.

If you would like to see some of the transactions in which we have been involved, go to our web site, and click on “lawyers” for Martin Levin or me.

In any event, send me your name at and I will put you on the list for the 2010 Seminar when for the 21st time we will once again be talking about who bought whom and what they paid.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Where's the Friction?

We have been asked for a copy of Peter Jovanovich's speech at our Seminar. Since this was impromptu the best (and this is very good) is Gayle Feldman's article that appeared in The Bookseller in the UK. We are reprinting and we thank Gayle Feldman and the Bookseller for their permission.

U.S. Publishing: Where's the Friction?

Former Pearson Education head Peter Jovanovich urges publishers to find where readers and authors cannot connect: the market in the gap. Gayle Feldman explains...

"During a recession, we often misdiagnose our disease," was one of the blunt home-truths Peter Jovanovich, a former chief executive of Pearson Education, imparted to a high-powered invited publishing audience at the annual conclave sponsered by intellectual property laywers Cowan, Liebowitz and Latman in New York.

The talk, on crisis management in publishing, given the crises Jovanovich himself managed at three major houses, and the fact that, since health problems forced his retirement in 2005, he is that rare specimen: somebody with profound inside knowledge who can speak objectively, with no corporate strings attached.

Jovanovich grew up in the business while his legendary father William built Harcourt Brace into HBJ. He remembered how his father "was always on the lookout for a downturn," recalling "the weekend meetings in the summer when men in suits would come to talk about cutting expenses, laying off people, and hunkering down for a tough time."

Jovanovich is also the rare publishing son who went on to earn his own colors as an executive. He ran HBJ after his father and the company were weakened by the battle to ard off Robert Maxwell: then he ran McGraw-Hill's educational and professional group; and finally he created Pearson Education as we know it, acquiring the businesses of S&S and merging them into Addison Wesley Longman.

He recalled sitting down with three schools publishers in March last year, sensing that "the business was going south. I said that they had four months to figure out how many people to let go. 'Get ready to do it in the summer, before the national sales meetings.' I told them. I guessed that there would be a three-year recession at least. Two of the publishers looked at me as if I were mad."

"Six months later, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill and Pearson all did layoffs, but it was in the fall, not the summer." Jovanovich drove home the point that "this publishing recession began a year ago, and all publishing recessions go faster, deeper, and longer than you think." So the first lesson is, "don't lie to yourself. It may be worse than you think."

The second lesson is to be "Anglo-Saxon" rather than "Latinate". In other words, "find the author, make the book and sell it," while eschewing such cash devouring "Latinate activities" as strategic research and new business development.

"Do what you have to do to keep the best editors, sales people, designers," Jovanovich urged. His father used to say, "90% of publishing is the decision which book to publish".

If you're not going to support the best people, you'll lose them, "and not have that talent to create great new products". Publishers make the mistake of freezing everything across the board at their peril.

The third lesson was to pay attention to cash flow - "operating cash flow is what counts. Let's imagine that Borders went under tomorrow and that you have to run your business without Borders' cash flow. I think thats the reality."

Also remember that a recession "can mask corporate disease".

The fundamental question publishers must ask themselves, according to Jovanovich is, "Are you needed?". "In college publishing, absolutely (publishers are needed), even in an electronic world. The only risk is greed. Greedy publishers will train their customers to steal from them because of price". he said.

"On the other hand, look at parts of trade publishing and ask, 'Are you needed'. If there are only two customers, Amazon and Barnes & Noble, how big a sales force do you need? And if there is an explosion of self-publishing, a lot of the trade is not needed."

"The larger publishers are at greater risk," Jovanovich warned. "The smaller and medium sized companies know how to gravitate to where they are needed. The big trade publisher has become a kind of factor, in the garment business sense of the word. John Grisham can't wait for his money from Borders so the publisher gives it to him."

How, then, should we look at the future? Jovanovich advised asking a corrolary question: "Where's the friction? Where is it that the reader and the author can't connect because things in the middle need to be done?"

The electronic age has "destroyed" the encyclopedia and monograph businesses, having made them "frictionless", he said.

The best publishers, Jovanovich predicted, "will gravitate to areas of friction... Look at the consequences of the search engines and move to the areas that require capital investment that means you're needed."

He concluded: "The future is friction."

Friday, March 27, 2009

All I Know About Management I Learned From My Dog

For the last many months I have been writing this book and it will finally come to be a reality. It is a short book ---about 100 plus pages. I was fortunate enough to discover Tiffany Schwarz, a brilliant young photographer. The book will contain about 20 great pictures of Angel in full color. I am in the process now of working on the final editing, design, and creating a working dummy before production.

If you would like to see it, call Pinky my legal assistant at 212-790-9200 X560 and she will send it you. In any event, read the following introduction and let me have your comments.


Enter “Angel”

After 68 years of a special marriage, my wife Marcia died. I was grieving and I sought help. As weeks of counseling turned into months, my sage and sympathetic therapist, said, “You will feel better if you get a dog.” And week after week, he would walk me to the door of his office, and as I left I heard, “You will feel better if you get a dog.” I thought to myself disdainfully, “I had a dog, in fact I had several dogs”. Finally one sunny Sunday, Paula, my friend and I found a photograph in the local newspaper announcing the “Pet of the Week”. Since I was getting a failing grade in grief management, I thought, “Let’s give this dog thing a shot.”

Little did I expect when I was walking down a path of barking dogs crying for attention at the Briarcliff SPCA and rescuing “Angel”, an 11 year old female Golden Retriever mix with Chow, that I had not only found a companion in my 89th year, but even more important, I now know, I had found my management guru.

Angel is a full sized dog with the typical light and dark brown coloring weighing when I adopted her about 50 pounds. Now because of her full participation in my life, including her regular appearance at the dinner table she is a hefty 71 pounds. As you will see from her photograph she is quite a looker, and her wisdom shows.

In the year that we have been together, Angel has taught me a great deal. Without the benefit of language (which I now realize is less important than I thought it was), I had to understand what Angel’s needs were, and she had to understand mine. I learned there were rules to achieve a harmonious and mutually meaning full relationship between Angel and me.

As I learned about the rules and commands that made us achieve our common objectives, it appeared to parallel my more than half a century as a follower and leader in management. This relationship called for me to establish a compatible leadership style, gain her respect and trust, communicate clearly and consistently, make decisions in an informed manner, and display human values while respecting her animal values.

This seemed to be an epiphany. And I decided to test this bit of wisdom in light of my own business and personal experience and to share this.

I realize that asking you to believe that a dog could enable me to synthesize a career will take a leap of faith. If you are a dog lover, I know I have your attention and I established my credibility many sentences ago. For others, non-dog owners, I beg your patience. Even if you do not give Angel full credit, I think you will find my revelatory moments interesting and helpful in sharpening your management skills. And in the end you might even adopt a dog.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Thank you for clicking on.

The main purpose of the blog is to open a channel of information. I will be posting articles written about publishing, the law, and from time to time some stuff that is hopefully funny, just relieve the tension.

I hope to hear from you. Post your comments , questions and suggestions.

Since both Bob Halper and I attend most of the major shows and would like to meet you if you attend, we will post this information. We are always available at the shows to assist you if needed.

You will find links to other blogs and web pages. For the present you will find a link to the Cowan Liebowitz & Latman web page, and to the Stanford Professional Publishing Course.

Additional links will be added.

The New Recession Play Book

Having grown up during the Depression and having survived the named and unnamed recessions from 1950 (when I first became involved in publishing) to the present, I take what is currently happening to the economy very seriously. To refresh my memory, I read back issues of PW and other media and found that the recession “Playbook” in publishing in 2008 is just about what it was in previous downturns. Here is the drill:

*Reduce payrolls. In recent weeks, Pearson, McGraw Hill, and others have announced staff reductions

*Cut the number of new titles being published. Not a bad idea, since in 2007 we published over 280,000 new titles, and it is estimated that there were 100,000 self-published books released into the market this year

*Maintain retail prices or reduce them where possible in order to make them more attractive to the reader

*Reduce advertising and promotion expenses since there are fewer books being published

*Concentrate on and promote back lists

This playbook is sound, and it will work to some extent. But what is missing is a program that takes advantage of the opportunities that are available in a recession. There are, in fact, some measures that can be done best when the publisher, bookseller and printer are all hurting. These are inevitably issues that are too hot to handle during the good times, but now suddenly become doable. For example:

Returns: The difference between profit and loss for the author, publisher and bookseller is often the outrageous level of returns. While varying by product line, these can range from 25% to 60%. It is estimated that in order to achieve the $15 billion in net trade sales in 2007, there were in excess of $5 billion in returns. The author sees his royalty statement diminished by returns; the publisher sends millions of books to be pulped; and the bookseller incurs the labor and rental space to stock and then take books off the floor, then packing and shipping them to the publisher. All players are punished -- even the consumer who pays a higher retail price because of the inefficiencies in the system. During my tenure as Chairman of New American Library in the 1970s we instituted a “Bonus For Efficiency” program that enabled a retailer to achieve a higher discount if he kept his returns down. After a very painful beginning, the sturdy warriors of NAL persisted and consequently enjoyed years of increased profitability. The program was eventually dropped because not one other publisher in the industry followed suit. The recession provides the publishers and booksellers a unique opportunity to come together for their mutual interest.

*Production scheduling; The back list is the most important asset in the publishing business. Most publishers count on these sales for 50% to 60% of their revenue and a considerable portion of their profit. Printers are now suffering because of the decrease in new title production. The publishers can help their printers by placing orders for the back list on an annual or semi-annual basis, allowing the supplier to print at his option so that he can keep his plant operating at a more economic level. In exchange, the printer is able to bill on the normal delivery date and could possibly share some of the savings with the publisher.

*Technology: The delivery of information has been changing, and it will continue to change. This recession will end, and the publisher should be ready to participate in the new markets. It is prudent to use this period to be ready for the post-recession market by taking advantage of the current “down-time” to develop and implement new technologies.

Are these all the ways to take advantage of a recession? Not really. There are, no doubt, scores of other ways to take advantage of the current business climate. Publishers, printers, booksellers, librarians and just everyday folks in the business are very bright. Put to the test, they can create an entire new Playbook that will put all of us in the publishing industry on the offensive side of the line and get us through the hard times.

Publishing '09 "The Recession"

If you are dumb like me, you will need to know that the full screen button for the presentation is on the top right.

0001 MPL Publishing 2009 CLLScribe

Martin P. Levin




Not so quick! But given a determined effort it is likely that all the players will someday find that the possibility of adding a significant part of $8 billion to their revenue and profit may be enough to get the process started. It is likely that the old playbook for surviving in difficult times by staff and expense reduction will not work in today’s economic climate (see my article of December 4, 2008 ”The New Recession Playbook“).

Some veterans of the industry trace the introduction of the “sale or return” policy to the Depression instituted as a means to encourage booksellers to buy new titles. In 1950 when I first entered publishing, most trade publishers allowed “exchanges” for books that were “damaged in transit.“ The effect on the industry was minimal. The toxic return policy as it now exists is best described by the colorful publisher Alfred Knopf head of his eponymous company as a “gone today and here tomorrow” program. The percentage of returns to sales determines the profitability of both the publisher and bookseller.

The “elephant in the room” is a very large creature - and attention must be paid. Jeffrey Trachtenberg described the reality in his June 2005 article in the Wall Street Journal. The scene he describes is still happening as he reported it and will continue into 2009 unless the publishers and booksellers get together on a solution. While Trachtenberg describes the Time Warner Book Group (now Hachette) it is typical of all major publishers. This is what he reported:
There are two Time Warner Book Group warehouses on the outskirts of Indianapolis. Although separated by only an eighth of a mile, between them stretches a gulf of disappointment.
One building, dubbed the "happy warehouse" by one publishing executive, is filled with about 60 million hardcover books and paperbacks waiting to be distributed to stores across the U.S. The other is the "sad" warehouse. Piled high are some of the 20 million books returned every year by retailers. Many will be resold at cut-rate prices. Two million to four million will have their spines sliced off before being piled into a recycling machine the size of a Dumpster, chewed up and spat out as bales of paper.
Returns are the dark side of the book world, marking not only failed expectations, but the crippling inefficiencies of an antiquated business. It's a problem that's only getting worse.

Given this nightmare scenario from the publisher vantage point, one would believe that it must be the booksellers who are standing in the way of solving this problem. Not so. Mr. Trachtenberg interviewed the CEO of the largest books store chain and this is what he reported:
Steve Riggio wants Barnes & Noble to start marking down books and selling them on the spot. Customers would relish the bargains, publishers would generate more sales and costs would be cut. He says eliminating returns would "revolutionize the book business and revitalize the book business."
But Mr. Riggio says he can't implement the change by himself, since it's ultimately a decision for publishers. "We'd like to see this practice discontinued," he says. "Any rational business person looking at this practice would think the industry has gone mad."
To bring this story up to date, Bob Miller formerly the CEO at Hyperion and now at Harper Collins announced that in addition to a profit sharing arrangement with authors he proposed a “no return” policy. Sadly, Miller had to retreat from this position in order to launch his first list.

However, in the UK, Penguin an industry leader has now focused attention on developing a new return program for their extraordinary best selling backlist: This is as reported in Publishers Lunch:
Peter Field, Penguin’s Managing Director has said “We intend to speak to everybody we need to about this; it's an important conversation to have. We believe backlist should be firm sale but are attempting to identify a common purpose. I believe there will be different ways to tackle the problem, depending on different customers and regions, rather than a one-size-fits-all policy. We will talk about risk and reward and get the balance right. A common purpose can be found and, if we all manage our logistics better, we will all benefit and retailers will save money on returns."
Is there a hope that the recession will bring some movement to a rational solution of a virus that has infected the book publishing industry for over half a century? If not now, when?

There is a strong economic benefit.

There is new technology that has never existed before so that printing and buying decisions can be rationalized.

Nielsen now tracks the sales of every book and makes the data generally available on sales and returns. These data is available to every publisher, bookseller, and distributor to gauge how much a publisher prints.

Print on Demand technology is now available so publishers can fill in with POD printings where they have underestimated demand.

We are now in an era in which the nation’s attention is focused on environmental issues. No one has yet measured the loss incurred when hundreds of millions of returned books are stripped and fed into dumpsters.

What is missing? Leadership!

The industry voice, PW, reports the facts but fails to crusade. The publishers association with access to the most Washington, D.C. savvy Executive Director, Pat Schroeder holds back fearing an anti trust issue will arise, without seeking advice from the Justice Department. (To be fair, in other instances the publishers have joined together to defeat the illegal copying and recently Google, who sought to abuse “fair use”.) Why not see what help can be obtained from a new Justice Department?

Or a few brave Publishers who are willing, one on one, to work out individual return programs with major chains and independents. Given that about 50% (or more) of most publisher’s sales come from the back list, a new returns program can focus, as a start, on the backlist. And then go on from there.

This recession is a blessing. The financial and insurance industry has been bailed out by the government with multi billion dollar loans. The big 3 auto makers are likely to get more billions. And right behind them, will be millions of home owners. It would not be unseemly for publishers and booksellers to take advantage of what we hope to be a once in a lifetime opportunity for publishers and booksellers to be party to their own
“ bailout “ by working with each other to solve the returns problem.

I have the headline ready:


Martin Levin

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Proposition You Cannot Refuse

We, the undersigned officers of the International Mafia, make a proposal to President Barak Hussein Obama.

We regret that some of our members who are now unavailable because of the complications of making contact with them, but when you accept this proposition, which we sincerely recommend you do, we will make all the parties known to you. We wish to advise you that we believe in you, and what you are trying to do. We regret that many members of Congress, who are big mouths and are just out to steal from the common people, are opposing you. We guarantee you that we will enact your entire program in 100 days after you agree to this proposition... In addition since you are so good in speaking, with or without a teleprompter, we offer you the job of Consigliore to represent us not only in the United States of America, that we love, but in the world that infested with a bunch of no good cut throats, except in Italy.

Step 1: Fire the Governors of all 50 more states. Get rid of all the state legislatures. These guys are worse than the guys in Congress.

I have friends of mine who I will put in place. My Dons and their lieutenants a will need a place to stay so the Governor will have to move on quickly and give us some space. Now since this is the first time I am talking about this, we have to work out how work out the money we collect. But this goes for everything we do. You have one son-of-bitch of a deficit. I f anyone of my guys ran up a tab of this size, I would remove him. You know what I mean. So do not worry, we will see that the U.S. Treasury will make that deficit go away—over time, no rush.

Step 2. Fire the Supreme Court.

There is no reason that you need all these guys and that old broad hanging around. In our program which goes back to the days of Julius Caesar we know all about Justice and how to dispense it. In addition, as you will read further we need the buildings.

Step 3. Get rid of the Congress—both of them Take over all the buildings used by the Congress and the Supreme Court and turn them into Gambling Casinos.

Those Congress guys are not doing you any favors. All they think about is pork and they are big eaters. I think you will be getting the drift of my plan. We still keep the White House for your office and your speech writers and keep some rooms for high rollers. It would be nice if you stopped in to talk to the high rollers when you get a minute. I think your wife and the kids would be happier in Chicago and we have guys that can keep an eye on them. We will be in the East Wing making sure every happens the way it should happen. Keep all the museums, art galleries, and other tourist stuff to build traffic, make them all no charge, except for voluntary contributions that we will encourage. We have experts from Vegas who will be available to keep an eye on things so it all on the up and up. You can count on us to keep knocking down the National Debt with a cut of our take.

Step 4. Solve the banking crisis by allowing all banks to sell pot, which we will of course legalize.

You will be for ever trying to get these swindlers who pushed bad paper on dumb rubes to shape up. My guys will protect the good paper and create a “pot fund” that will make bad paper good. With the dough we collect and our skills in persuasion we will have this screw-up in good shape in no time. And, everbody will be mellow. If you think people hate the banks, once we get going they will love them. You won’t be able to keep them away.

Step 5. Solve the automobile crisis by use of our destroy and buy plan.

As far as we see it, nobody but nobody, should be driving a car that is more than five years old. We have a list, and we know who is holding back by not buying a new car. If some citizen is a slacker, we will find him try to reason with him. If he is dumb and difficult, we will wreck his car and sell it for scrap to friend of ours who is the business. If this dumb sucker says he can’t afford it, my guys will lend him the money at our usual rates of interest. We assure you that everybody building cars and selling cars will be back in good health again.

Step 6. Set up as you say “affordable health care for everyone” by putting the hospitals in the business of selling porn for profit.

Porn is one hell of a profitable business. If Mr. and Mrs. America, over 18 years of age, could go to the local hospital and buy or rent porn films, we would would have trillions to help pay for sick people who are dragging down our country . The money will stop flowing like blood right out of our bodies, not a pretty sight. This is a big deal. We can sell, rent, or show—and make big bucks. Maybe some reality shows, too. We have some guys who are in the movie business and they could take a look at some of the nurses nwould be thrilled to sit in and make sure kids pay attention. If get rowdy, we know what to do. Also I think some of our guys and gals might be reformed by contact with these smart people. If the building are falling down, we c an get more guys and gals who are good at using tools to help.

Dear Mr. President:
I hope you get the message. Even if you think I am nuts and want time to think this over, how about sending this letter around to those apes in Congress who are sounding off?


I will send you the names of the guys who signed this direct to your Blackberry. They are all stand up guys.

Copyright: Martin Levin Revised March 7, 2009, Not for reproduction