Nota Bene #123: Behold the Chickenosaurus

“There ought to be limits to freedom.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #119: Think! It Ain't Illegal Yet

“My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #118: VOTE!

“I am not fit for this office and should never have been here.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #107: Zzzzzzzzzzzzz

“I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #103: Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse

“To take people from the music world and give them the same kind of credibility that you give me, Morgan Freeman, Laurence Fishburne, Forest Whitaker—that’s like an aberration. I know there’s some young actor sitting in New York or L.A. who’s spent half of his life learning how to act and sacrificing to learn his craft but isn’t going to get his opportunity because of some ‘actor’ who’s been created.” Who said it? Continue reading

Corporation files to run for Congress: important marketing strategy questions remain unanswered

The Supreme Court has decreed that corporations are persons and money is speech, so it was only a matter of time before a company decided to exercise its Constitutional right to run for Congress.

Following the recent Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission to allow unlimited corporate funding of federal campaigns, Murray Hill Inc. today announced it is filing to run for U.S. Congress. “Until now,” Murray Hill Inc. said in a statement, “corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence-peddling to achieve their goals in Washington. But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves.” Murray Hill Inc. is believed to be the first “corporate person” to exercise its constitutional right to run for office. Continue reading

Democracy & Elitism 2: performance elitism vs privilege elitism, and why the difference matters

Democracy+ElitismPart two in a series.

“Elite” hasn’t always been an epithet. In fact, if we consider what the dictionary has to say about it, it still signifies something potentially worthy. Potentially. For instance:

e·lit·ism or é·lit·ism (-ltzm, -l-) n.
1. The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.le

That definition, while technically accurate enough, could use a bit of untangling, because it embodies the very nature of our problem with elitism in America. In popular use, the term “elite” and its derivatives has been twisted into a pure, distilled lackwit essence of “liberal” – another once-proud word that fell victim to our moneyed false consciousness machine. Continue reading

Democracy & Elitism: an introduction to the American false consciousness

Democracy+ElitismPart one in a series.

Is there a more radioactive word in American politics today than elitist?

Admit it – you saw the word and had an instinctive negative reaction, didn’t you? If not, then count yourself among the rarest minority in our culture, the fraction of a percent that has not yet had its consciousness colonized by the “evil elitist” meme. If not, you’re one of a handful of people not yet victimized by a cynical public relations frame that poses perhaps the greatest danger to the health of our republic in American history.

Pretty dire language there, huh? Perhaps we’ve ventured a little too deeply into the land of hyperbole? It might seem so at a glance, but in truth the success of any society is largely a function of the things it believes and how those beliefs shape its actions and policies. Continue reading

Nota Bene #92: Echoblowcation

A few things for you NB readers: Continue reading

Nota Bene #91: No Joke

Well I figured I’d give you all a break Continue reading

I man-love me some Obama

by John Harvin

Or I did. Now I am not so sure.

I voted for Obama, defended him from the snarks of my Hillary-supporting friends, and maxed out my contribution. In Indianapolis, I walked down dim halls that smelled of vomit and urine begging sick old people to vote.

But his acceptance of the Nobel Prize has turned me off worse than a garlic-breath kiss.  I don’t care that he doesn’t deserve it. He didn’t “deserve” to be President either. (Who does?) I mind that he’s letting himself be used to bad purpose. As Meatloaf sang, “I will do anything for love, but I won’t do that.” Continue reading

Nota Bene #89: Horrors

With apologies to Edgar Allan Poe…

Once upon a midnight dreary, as you quaffed drinks brown and beery,
Came a tapping amid the gloom, upon the closed door of your room.
You spied with thin eyes the tenebrous hall, wond’ring who had the unmitigated gall
To interrupt your sacred rite of getting hammered throughout the night.
But naught was there—just drafty air, which brought a chill to what flesh was bare,
And as it seemed you’d be bothered nevermore, up flew a raven from the shadowy floor.
It flapped about madly, you fell back in alarm—”Woe is me!” cried ye, as it perched on your arm.
Stricken by fear, your soul rendered weak, you rued the dark tidings soon to shriek from that beak.
But the bird of ill omen
Continue reading

Nota Bene #88: Pigeon Power

♫♪ If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed Continue reading

America and its presidents: what the fuck is wrong with you people?

Let’s begin with a brief Q&A with America.

Q: Let’s say you’re sick with a potentially deadly disease. Who do you want for a doctor?
A: The smartest, most experienced and highly qualified expert in the field.

Q: You’re looking to invest your life savings. Who do you trust to handle your money?
A: The brightest, most agile financial mind I can find.

Q: You’ve been selected to participate in a “private citizens in space” program. Who do you want in charge of building the rocket? Continue reading

CNN's Iran timeline omits US-backed '53 coup

by Brad Jacobson

It might be more difficult for Republicans to bash President Obama for being “timid” in his comments about the Iranian government’s violence against protesters if the U.S. media didn’t consistently censor US-Iranian history.

Take CNN’s recent Iran timeline, titled “A brief look at Iran’s history.”

According to the timeline, which begins in 1979, Iran has “been at odds with the West and some of its neighbors” since the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. It refers to the Shah as having been “pro-Western.” Yet in the mother of all omissions, CNN leaves out how the US government was directly involved in bringing the Shah to power in a 1953 coup that toppled the democratically elected Iranian government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. Continue reading

Republicans are "rebranding": round up the usual suspects

You have to love the headline: GOP set to launch rebranding effort

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Coming soon to a battleground state near you: a new effort to revive the image of the Republican Party and to counter President Obama’s characterization of Republicans as “the party of ‘no.'”

CNN has learned that the new initiative, called the National Council for a New America, will be announced Thursday.

It will involve an outreach by an interesting mix of GOP officials, ranging from 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain to Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and the younger brother of the man many Republicans blame for the party’s battered brand: former President George W. Bush. Continue reading

New data: under Bush, income for 400 richest Americans doubled

I know a man, a man of a conservative bent, who gets downright irate anytime you use some variation or another of “tax cuts for the rich” in conversation. He can’t be taking it personally, I don’t suppose, since he isn’t rich and, as far as I can tell, he has no prospects for getting that way unless he happens to trip over a winning PowerBall ticket. So I guess you’d say he’s like Joe the Plumber and many millions more Americans who have very little, but want to make damned sure that they look after the interests of those who have everything.

People like this man are the reason I always giggle when I encounter political and economic theories that hinge on things like “rationality” and “informed self-interest.” Continue reading

TunesDay: The RNC mixtape

by Seth Michalak

1988 is the first year I can recall being cognizant of national conventions. In the intervening 20 years, never have I seen a convention that has been as much of a three-ring circus as what has already gone on this week at the Republican National Convention in Minnesota. With delays because of the hurricane that didn’t amount to much and the Palin circus, I’m still waiting to hear anything of substance come from the X-Cel Center stage.

Since we might be waiting awhile for something substantive to happen, I thought it might be fun to create a playlist of songs that represent the key players at this week’s RNC. So, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, this Democrat is happy to present the Official 2008 RNC Mixtape: Continue reading

Pop quiz: Did you know that you may lose your television service in less than ten months?

static-tv.jpg By Martin Bosworth

Is the answer to the above question “No?”

Well, that’s part of the problem–millions of Americans are in the same boat, and they are equally unaware of the situation

The basic gist is this: On February 17, 2009, “over-the-air” (OTA) broadcast television stations that use analog signals (which you pick up through the familiar “rabbit-ear” antennae) are switching to digital signals, which means that unless you have a strong enough antenna set and a special set-top converter box, your television will not be able to pick up the new signals. The government’s official DTV site gives a concise description of the whole event.

Continue reading

Paulson's rescue plan: Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic

titanic1.jpg
By Martin Bosworth

I was deeply amused to read the breathless news coverage of Hammerin’ Hank Paulson’s “ambitious” and “sweeping” plans to restructure the federal financial regulatory structure. It says something about how far the goalposts of this country’s discourse have been moved towards rampant, unchecked, unbridled “law of the jungle” financial pillaging that modest reforms like these are considered a major move.

If these pathetic hot-flashing stenographers that call themselves “reporters” would actually take a closer look at the plan itself–hell, even just the fact sheet–they would see that not only is Paulson’s reform agenda miniscule at best, but that it’s a shell game, a distraction designed to accomplish the long-held mantra of the Bush administration–centralizing federal power and weakening consumer protections at the state level. Continue reading