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 #112: GOOOLLLLLLLL

“Freedom of any kind is the worst for creativity.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #106: [no title due to budget cuts]

“Working for a major studio can be like trying to have sex with a porcupine. It’s one prick against thousands.” Who said it? 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

Welcome to Colorado Springs, America's teabagger paradise

Colorado is a beautiful place and it always ranks right at the top of those most desirable places to live rankings (heck, a new poll says the People’s Republic of Boulder is the happiest place in America), but be clear about one thing before you pack up the family to head this way: a consistent voting majority of our citizens are butt-stupid when it comes to taxes. We’re the ones who blazed the trail for the “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” (TABOR) movement, and we’ve been paying a steep price for it ever since. For instance:

  • Under TABOR, Colorado declined from 35th to 49th in the nation in K-12 spending as a percentage of personal income.
  • Colorado’s average per-pupil funding fell by more than $400 relative to the national average. Continue reading

Nota Bene #100: Il Planetario di Figaro

Wow, 100 issues of Nota Bene! Props to Russ for helping me for a while with this nifty little S&R feature. Never mind all that now, let’s get on with this issue. “What splendid buildings our architects would be able to execute if only they could finally be less obedient to gravity!” Who said it? 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 #91: No Joke

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

Newspaper circulation falls again: Expect more cuts

If you were a newspaper subscriber last year, there’s a 10 percent chance you aren’t this year.

That’s because paid circulation of daily newspapers nationally fell more than 10 percent from a year ago. Some papers suffered truly horrendous daily circulation losses: the San Francisco Chronicle (down 25.8 percent), The Boston Globe (down 18.5 percent) and The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger (down 22.2 percent), reports Rick Edmonds on his Poynter Biz Blog. USA Today, hit by a slump in travel, fell nearly 18 percent. The circulation of 400 daily newspapers has fallen to only 30 million readers.

This hemorrhaging of circulation — the worst ever — will have serious consequences. Expect newspaper staffs, already slashed below the minimum necessary to adequately cover their turf, to be cut further. Expect more shallow, one-source stories. Expect more stories laden with anonymous sources because the poorly paid, younger, inexperienced reporters left on staff won’t have the skill to persuade sources to speak on the record. Expect more wire-service content because local stories won’t get done. Expect corporate newspaper management to continue to stall on finding a business model that enhances the public-service mission of journalism. Expect more style than substance.

Just expect less of what good newspapers used to be. Continue reading

Political donations down; special-interest lobbying up: Why's that?

At the moment, it’s a bad time to be a political fundraiser. The deep pockets of corporate and other donors normally counted on to keep the election money machine well-oiled have suddenly gone shallow.

According to Paul Kane and Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post, donations are down — way down. Consider the first two months of 2005, 2007, and 2009: $48.8 million in ’05; $41.6 million in ’07; and a paltry $30.7 million this year. That’s expected, write the Post reporters, in the early months of odd-numbered years after presidential or mid-term contests.

It’s known as “donor fatigue.” It’s particularly bad at the moment because so many candidates dunned so many donors in an election year that saw the presidential election cost more than a billion dollars.
Continue reading

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

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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

No country for the middle class: Scenes from an economic disaster

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By Martin Bosworth

I recently had the pleasure of seeing “No Country For Old Men,” the Oscar-winning adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel of a drug deal gone bad and how one man’s decision to take a case of stolen money leads to a meditation on fate, circumstance, and destiny. Of particular note was Javier Bardem’s portrayal of murderous hitman Anton Chigurh not only as the embodiment of pure evil, but as an avatar of capricious, merciless fate, striking down people left and right, with no regard for their circumstances. Continue reading

John and Elizabeth Edwards agree: Getting us out of Iraq can end the recession

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usBy Martin Bosworth

After the sad event that was John Edwards ending his run for president, I wondered what he would do with himself next. While Clinton and Obama furiously courted him for a blessing, he and his wife, Elizabeth, have largely remained quiet and kept their own counsel. Until now.

Yesterday both John and Elizabeth committed their still-formidable political muscle behind a different campaign–joining the effort to withdraw from Iraq by tying it to our looming recession.

Continue reading

Countrywide CEO foregoes plush payoff package–but don't feel too sorry for him

By Martin Bosworth

Why is this man smiling?

Angelo Mozilo, the well-tanned and always smiling soon-to-be-ex-CEO of failed mortgageangelo_mozilo.jpg lender Countrywide, announced today that he would magnanimously give up his massive severance package for running his company into the ground and being bought out by Bank of America:

“My primary focus today — as it has been for the past 40 years — is to do what is in the best interests of Countrywide’s employees, customers and shareholders,” Mr. Mozilo said. “I believe this decision is the right thing to do as Countrywide works toward the successful completion of the merger with Bank of America”…Mr. Mozilo would be entitled to $36.4 million in cash severance pay and $400,000 per year in consulting fees, as well as private airplane use and other perquisites. These are the amounts and benefits he will be forfeiting. Continue reading

Getting us out of Iraq can get us out of recession

By Martin Bosworth

The American Prospect’s Harold Meyerson has an op-ed in the Washington Post today outlining the nature of the coming recession, and how our economic response is going to have to change if we’re to fix it.

“Wait,” you’re thinking, “is he saying we’re in recession? Surely not! I know it’s a worry, but no one’s actually said it’s official yet.”

Let’s take a look at the facts, then: Continue reading

Fed prepares to “move the goalposts” to delay recession; Greenspan says “Not my fault”

By Martin Bosworth

The phrase “moving the goalposts” has been applied most heavily in public discourse of late to the Bush regime’s “strategery” regarding the Iraq war. Through the “surge” and constant reiteration that things are getting better in Iraq, Bush hopes to delay a full-scale drawdown just long enough for him to leave office, thus saddling his successor (likely a Democrat) with two choices–maintain troop levels in Iraq and be crucified by the anti-war movement, or bring troops home and be accused of “cutting and running” by the conservative base.

This kind of crass political calculus isn’t limited to the Iraq quagmire, though–you can see it in the news today that the Federal Reserve is telegraphing a cut in interest rates at its next meeting: Continue reading

Is the perfect real estate storm about to pop the housing bubble?

I’ve been waiting for the housing crash for awhile. I’m not an expert, but it has seemed to me that we have:

  • a lot of empty existing units;
  • a ridiculous excess of new units being built;
  • absolutely insane financing deals being offered; and
  • accelerating foreclosure numbers.

In other words, a perfect storm is brewing. Continue reading