Trashing libraries just a bit more

Critic Boyd Tonkin had a piece in last week’s Independent recounting the sad fate of his local library, Friern Barnet Library, in the hands of the enlightened council of the London Borough of Barnet. In this case, a group of volunteers have invaded this local library, which was, along with a number of others, slated to be closed. The volunteers have taken on the role of squatters, and are keeping the library running. The Council is currently trying to decide whether to have them evicted–since it’s a public building, that can’t just happen, so the Council is trying to decide what to do next. In this case, the Council is dominated by Conservatives, so it’s easy to see this as a part of a pattern of Conservative budget cuts. That, however, would be misleading—everyone’s doing it. Continue reading

Update on Curt Schilling, America's new welfare queen

Bummer. 38 Studios has laid off all its employees.

Let’s get caught up. And bear with me – this section required some revision on my part.

  • If you recall, the troubled video game company recently missed a payment to the state of Rhode Island, which had engineered a massive GOVERNMENT HANDOUT LOAN DEAL to lure them from Massachusetts.
  • Bad news: employees now out of work. Good news: employees weren’t getting paid anyway because ownership had chosen not to pay them missed payroll. Continue reading

Meet America's newest conservative welfare queen

Guess who needs a gummit bailout? Hint: he once said this:

“There can be no question our country is in the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes. I also think there can be no question that it falls on us, the individuals, to find a way out of our own personal crisis.”

Give up? It’s this guy. Continue reading

When followers lead, the leaders will follow: Obama supports gay marriage

Here’s what I wrote last night:

On the other side of the fence, those of us who genuinely care about freedom and fairness are more outraged than ever. Outrage is motivating, and by the way, polls show that at least half of Americans support equality for LGBT citizens. It’s about six months until Election Day – how much mobilizing do you think we’re capable of?

Obama may or may not want the issue to go away, but from where I sit the religious right has today handed him a very large stick. Here’s hoping he has the courage and insight to use it on them. And let’s make sure that we, the people, make him embrace this, the most crucial civil rights issue of our generation.

Today, as if on cue, the president stepped up to the plate, big stick in hand. Continue reading

S&R and the marketplace of ideas: yes, Dorothy, sometimes people disagree…in public, even!

Earlier this morning Chris offered up a post entitled “Why are environmentalists missing a mild-weather opportunity?” It raises a pragmatic point about how the climate “debate” plays out in the public sphere and is well worth a read. Go ahead – I’ll wait.

Predictably – and by “predictably,” I mean that last night I e-mailed our climate guru, Brian Angliss, and said “when Chris’s post lands, here’s what’s going to happen,” and it has played out as though I had scripted it; the denialists have jumped on the post in an attempt to cast Chris and the rest of the S&R staff as “hypocrites.” One prominent anti-science type wants you to believe that the message is “we know weather isn’t climate, but let’s lie to people anyway!”

Like I say, as predicted.

The truth is that Chris’s post is part of a larger context. Continue reading

Let the left wing pandering begin

By Robert Becker

Scene: Large Washington hotel room full of Democratic staffers.
Speaker: Savvy PR operative, speaking bluntly.
Message: People vote their prejudices, so public relations rule.

It’s remarkable how many of us harbor the myth that election engage core issues, policies, or programs – once call “content.” Dream on. Style wins elections, though curiously only one half of our political establishment honors this proposition. Simple question: why does Democratic publicity stink, outflanked, outpandered and outwitted by crude, Karl Rove-style schoolyard bullying? Name one snappy zinger from this White House that neutralized fake barrages from Birthers, racists, government-hating know-nothings spewing out “death panels,” or smears against a “food stamp president” with a “phony theology.” Continue reading

Nota Bene #124: I'm a Doctor, Not an Engineer

“I don’t believe in this fairy tale of staying together for ever. Ten years with somebody is enough.” Who said it? Continue reading

The trouble with Occupy

The Occupy movement seems as if it has the potential to do great things. While it professes no leadership, it has galvanized the left—and a growing part of the middle, possibly—in ways that no other issue has over the past decade—since the invasion of Iraq, actually. And galvanize it has—it’s a worldwide phenomenon now, here in London at St Paul’s Cathedral, and elsewhere. It has provided a focus for the anger—outright rage, in many cases—at the lack of accountability of the financial and political elite for the crisis of a couple of years ago, and the state of the economy now, at a time when it is god-awful difficult for many families in America and many other industrial economies to make ends meet, or just to stay in place. People are going backwards, and they know it. One can only admire the determination and focus of the people involved. One can only feel outrage at the indifference, so far, their protest has engendered in the corporate media and the policy elites. The tragedy in Oakland is symptomatic of a deep sickness in American culture, one that the financial and political elite seem perfectly comfortable perpetuating at the expense of both people and planet.

And yet, and yet…. Continue reading

Nota Bene #122: OWStanding

“When I lie on the beach there naked, which I do sometimes, and I feel the wind coming over me and I see the stars up above and I am looking into this very deep, indescribable night, it is something that escapes my vocabulary to describe. Then I think: ‘God, I have no importance. Whatever I do or don’t do, or what anybody does, is not more important than the grains of sand that I am lying on, or the coconut that I am using for my pillow.'” Who said it? Continue reading

Don't eat the brown acid: trying to make sense of Richard Nixon and the Tea Party

In a recent post, Sammy made the insightful argument that Richard Nixon was our last liberal president. You could make an equally good case that he was also simultaneously our first Tea Party president. That the twisted labyrinthine soul of Dick Nixon was a scale model of the schizophrenic society we have now become.

And the real question is: Did Dick make us what we are today, or was he simply a portent of a future we now live in, or perhaps even worse, was he somehow a political version of the Terminator, a creature sent back into the past to shape that future, now our current world?

I know what you’re thinking. “Brother, don’t eat the brown acid. I repeat, don’t eat the brown acid.” Don’t worry. I am sitting comfortably in room 925 at the Westin in Wheeling, Illinois, straight and sober. The brown acid, what’s left of it, is stashed in the back of the freezer of the editor that let Dick Cheney have the front page of USA Today to flog his sorry book. So hang with me here. 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

Dirty hippies love sports, too

You know how we are. Bunch of shrill liberal crybabies who hate freedom and love terrorists, wish we could destroy all vestiges of American business and give every hard-earned penny that you earn to welfare queens, etc.

All of which is true, especially the parts about how George Soros is secretly paying us all (anybody want to chill on my yacht this weekend?). In fact, George is funding this venture himself in an attempt to further undermine the fabric of American society.

What is less known, though, is that us dirty hippie liberals also love sports. No, seriously. Baseball, football, hoops, soccer, Lithuanian goat rodeo, you name it. Continue reading

Nota Bene #110: WEHT SWK?

“In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity.” Who said it? Continue reading

Shootout at the DC Corral

The independently minded political animal always wrestles with times of transition, and the changeover from the Bush to Obama regimes has been worse than most. During the Dubya years it was easy to identify the enemy and to hate him with a blinding passion. Sweet Jesus, George II and his sidekick, The Dick Cheney, played their roles with less nuance than the bad guy in Rambo 12: Return of Ming the Merciless (directed by Roland Emmerich), making it easy to identify with the loyal opposition just on principle.

But it’s important to remember that the enemy of my enemy isn’t necessarily my friend. They might just be fighting over which one gets to eat my tender bits. Continue reading

Nota Bene #105: The Illustrated Dick

“When all you are becomes defined as the amount of information traceable to you, what are we then? What have we become, in a world where there is no separation, no door, no filter beyond which we can say, ‘No. This is my personal space. Not yours. Here I am alone with my thoughts and free of any outside influence or control. This, you cannot have.’ I don’t know, but I don’t want to find out.” Who said it? Continue reading

"You're screwed": GOP plan for America right on schedule

In Mike’s most recent Nota Bene, he points us to a disturbing, if not altogether surprising little vignette from Capitol Hill.

When House Democrats gathered on Friday for their end-of-the week caucus meeting in the basement of the Capitol, caucus chairman John Larson (D-Conn.) told the group he wanted them to hear first from Rep. Michael Capuano, who’d just returned from a primary campaign for the Senate seat in Massachusetts vacated by the death of Ted Kennedy.

Larson asked Capuano, who finished in second place, to share the wisdom he learned on the campaign trail. Continue reading

Nota Bene #97: toDwI'ma' qoS yItIvqu'!

“To be truly free, and truly to appreciate its freedom, a society must be literate.” Continue reading

Nota Bene #92: Echoblowcation

A few things for you NB readers: Continue reading

Are progressive bloggers prepared to lead?

Several times in recent years I have said that while I’m certainly and unapologetically a progressive, I’m in no way, shape or form the kind of conventional “liberal” that a lot of people think I am. My views on a variety of issues simply don’t map onto our brain-dead, one-dimensional notion of “left” vs. “right,” and even the slightly more nuanced Political Compass fails to explain a lot of how I think. I suppose I’m instinctively a non-partisan oppositional type – that is, no party really reflects what I believe so I tend to stay mad at whoever is in power. As such, I have “caucused with the Democrats” for the past few years, and I trust the reasons are self-evident.

I begin with this because in the last month or two some of my progressive allies have been getting on my nerves. Continue reading

On the waning days of madmen in the media

So some Hollywood insiders are sick of the decidedly liberal MSNBC, according to a report. One “liberal Democrat” actually said at a Beverly Hills luncheon “that she would prefer a lunch date with right-leaning Fox News star Sean Hannity over left-leaning MSNBC star Keith Olbermann.” Egad. I wouldn’t eat lunch with Sean Hannity unless it involved dining on his freshly-excised heart in front of him, though given its smallness I doubt it would make much of a meal.

But this woman’s not alone, apparently. A very liberal friend of mine hates Olbermann too, saying “he’s too brash,” while another colleague has grown tired of the pontificating. I’m seeing the complaints piling up in the lefty blogosphere.

There’s been a backlash against Olby steadily brewing and it’s hard to argue that he hasn’t brought it on himself Continue reading