Sunday, January 22, 2012

Colbert Fails -- Or Does He?

It turns out that Stephen Colbert, who was not on the South Carolina Republican Primary ballot, was able to get more votes, in the guise of Herman Cain, than either Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann.  Politico reports this as a failure, but aren't we really missing the big picture here?

I believe this was one of the more brilliant pieces of performance art I have ever seen.  Colbert and Stewart are in it to show just how big money, as in Citizens' United, can throw a race.  Maybe they didn't actually throw this one, but one percent of the vote for someone who is no longer running (Cain) and who is not on the ballot and insists that he is merely exploring the possibility of running for the "United States of South Carolina" (Colbert) indicates that some of us are paying attention.

Sad about those who can't see the point, like those students mentioned in the Politico piece who thought that it was just a gag.  Not just a gag.  And the superpac money is still flowing.

Silly?  Yes.  But also an important protest of the less-than-supreme court's pro-corporate ruling.  So let's get with the spirit of this protest.  If we can move the numbers, we can get those who think they are now controlling the country's elections quaking in their designer shoes.

And Stephen Colbert, in his typical silly and touching (and talented) way, sends his love to South Carolina:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Uniting Against Citizens United

Our own Stephen Colbert can't get his name on the Republican primary ballot in South Carolina.  So he is urging all voters in South Carolina (of any or no party), to vote on Saturday for Herman Cain, who is on the ballot, but who is no longer running.

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By this act, we are voting to turn the Supremes' Citizen United ruling on its head.

Which is right where Colbert's former superpac, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, now controlled by Jon Stewart, wants it.

In this bizarre legislative and judiciary climate, it may be that voting for Herman Cain on Saturday is the most important act of protest in our arsenal.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

DeMint Does Daily

You have to see Jon Stewart interview our own Jim DeMint on The Daily Show.  I was so excited at the thought that Jon Stewart was going to make DeMint eat every one of his convoluted thoughts.

Things started well.  DeMint showed up in his rumpled, too-large, Sunday go-to-meeting suit, and I noted that he was the one with the blue tie, Stewart with the red.  Also, Mr. Stewart's chair appeared to be slightly highly than Senator DeMint, so that he appeared to tower over him physically as well as intellectually.

But the part that aired on television was a disappointment.  To see the real interview you need to get past part 1, where Stewart is being attentive and way too agreeable.  I actually worried that Stewart had met his match in DeMint, that even this brilliant interviewer couldn't figure out how to cut through the nonsense.

But parts 2 and 3, on the internets, is where Stewart gets his stride.   By the time he has confronted the senator with DeMint's enflamed rhetoric, the accusations that anyone who is liberal does not love his country, or is not patriotic, and before he gets to the damage being done by the right's unwillingness to compromise, he actually has DeMint stammering.  It is a beautiful thing to see.

Even better though, is that Stewart restates for us what it is that makes America great.  He channels Elizabeth Warren when he says " one makes it here by themselves".  Because we are all in this together, and when the powerful corporations are not held in check with regulation, and are not made to contribute an adequate amount of their profits to allow the rest of the country to grow, we all fail.  Eventually.

On the other hand, looking again at the video, Jim ends the interview as smug as ever, and I don't believe he ever had an idea that he had been bested.  It will surely take more than reason to bring down.

But I'm glad Jon Stewart was able to shine a little light on the idiocy that is Jim DeMint

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dumbing Down the Library

The government is embarrassed of itself; we're ashamed that we exist, and so we have become beggars.  Libraries have been doing it for years.  The right wing in this country has found an easy target, politicians have grabbed the pitchforks and led the charge.  And government services, and especially libraries, are cowering in the corner saying, "Please don't hurt me."

Look at what libraries have done to prove that they really aren't going to be trouble.  Cut hours, cut staff, cut materials.

There are other neat things library directors are doing to make libraries more palatable to those who control the purse strings.

Computers.  Not only do we have public computers, and free wi-fi, but it's now okay for people to bring their coffee and soda to the library, because we don't want Starbucks taking business away from us.  And bring your cell phone, and don't be shy -- talk as loud as you like, because we don't want you to stay out of the library because you feel inhibited by its rules.

And because we need more space for computers, and for the  bistro-like atmosphere we are trying to develop, and of course to save money, we will cut our book budget.  No, no not the bestsellers, we'll still get plenty of those, hundreds of copies so you don't have to wait for them.  But those books not too many of you read, that literature type fiction and those non-fiction books.

And because we don't want you to think we are old fashioned, we are going to spend more on e-books and downloadable audiobooks, but not too much, because, of course, we don't want you to think we are wasting money.  So we won't get those esoteric kinds of books that most of you don't read.

And if we haven't yet convinced you that we are the library of the future, the library that all you taxpayers will want to fund, we are going to carry DVD's -- lots and lots of DVD's.

Our director boasted that our circulation statistics have gone up some ridiculous number, like 45%, since changes he put in place in September.  Well, I'll tell you, in September, we went from limiting DVD checkouts from five to unlimited.  So ask the librarian about the increased checkouts.

When people check out 10, 15, or more DVD's and are back before the week is up, when a parent stocks up on DVD's to keep the kids quiet in the car, we have to ask ourselves -- we really have to ask ourselves, is this what we want our libraries to become?

Count libraries in in the race to the bottom.