17 June 2013
17 June 2013
In those heady blogger days of the last decade when there were so many good blogs in Cleveland that we couldn’t read them all, the central question was always: can we make money at this? I don’t know that any of us ever did, but we had a model to follow: Cleveland’s proto-blogger Roldo Bartimole and his weekly Point Of View.
We had an opportunity to commit real journalism and, for the most part, fell short.
Journalist blogger Glenn Greenwald wrote earlier this month about the importance of reader-supported journalism. He said:
As governments and private financial power centers become larger, more secretive, and less accountable, one of the few remaining mechanisms for checking, investigating and undermining them – adversarial journalism – has continued to weaken. Many of these large struggling media outlets don’t actually do worthwhile adversarial journalism and aren’t interested in doing it, but some of them do. For an entity as vast as the US government and the oligarchical factions that control it – with their potent propaganda platforms and limitless financial power – only robust, healthy and well-funded journalism can provide meaningful opposition.
For several years, I’ve been absolutely convinced that there is one uniquely potent solution to all of this: reader-supported journalism. That model produces numerous significant benefits. To begin with, it liberates good journalists from the constraints imposed by exclusive reliance on corporate advertisers and media corporations. It enables journalism that is truly in the public interest – and that actually engages, informs, and inspires its readers – to be primarily accountable to those readers.
That last bit — to be primarily accountable to those readers — is the critical point. We pay attention to the people who write us checks. That’s true when you work nine-to-five or collect an annual salary. When speaking about my fiction, I’ve long held that I’m much more interested in the opinions of anyone willing to pay for my writing than I am in those anxious to offer their critique.
Greenwald, at the end of his piece, does make the pitch and ask for the sale, and I’m OK with that.
There was a time when I subscribed to several dozen magazines and newspapers, but I tapered off to zero in the ’90s because of time constraints. Since then I have sporadically subscribed to Mother Jones and the Sunday New York Times, but I’ve never paid for a blog (although I did once toss a few ducats into the tip jar of Blogger Interrupted).
What do you pay for? What do you think you should pay for? Is independent journalism at all important to you?
16 June 2013
16 June 2013
You have to wonder whether our politicians look ahead or think at all.
Or whether it’s just too convenient to keep their heads in the sand and not worry about what they’re doing.
I’m talking about Cuyahoga County’s new form of government.
It doesn’t seem a bit of an improvement on the old. And I found the old rather damaging to its constituents.
First it was the decision to use $350 million for downtown development. For a hotel of 600 or more rooms. Built with County money. The County will own it. A preposterous idea in every respect. But one apparently that County Executive Ed FitzGerald believes, I have to assume, will make him a hero enough for people to spring him Continue Reading »
16 June 2013
15 June 2013
How can anyone think that it’s remotely healthy in a democracy to have the NSA building a massive spying apparatus about which even members of Congress, including Senators on the Homeland Security Committee, are totally ignorant and find “astounding” when they learn of them? How can anyone claim with a straight face that there is robust oversight when even members of the Senate Intelligence Committee are so constrained in their ability to act that they are reduced to issuing vague, impotent warnings to the public about what they call radical “secret law” enabling domestic spying that would “stun” Americans to learn about it, but are barred to disclose what it is they’re so alarmed by? Put another way, how can anyone contest the value and justifiability of the stories that we were able to publish as a result of Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing: stories that informed the American public – including even the US Congress – about these incredibly consequential programs? What kind of person would think that it would be preferable to remain in the dark – totally ignorant – about them?
Screw Glenn Beck, watch for the further revelations of real news coming from a not-in-the-United-States newspaper this coming week.
15 June 2013
14 June 2013
I have a bright and inquisitive student who has asked me on a number of occasions why “Americans aren’t rioting in the streets?” to protest of the outrageous behavior of those who control our nation. My answer in the past has been that as infuriating as the power abuses are, they have not yet reached the point of people starving in the streets that typically have led to revolutions in history.
Robert Reich argues this morning that while we are not yet to the point where the One Percent advocates that we eat cake, their callousness and disregard for basic human rights and values may be approaching the point where we throw the bums out in a less than violent manner is approaching.
It is rare in these harshly partisan times for the political left and right to agree on much of anything. But the reason, I think, both are worried about the encroachments of the NSA on the privacy and civil liberties of Americans, as well as the depredations of “too big to fail or jail” Wall Street banks on our economy, is fundamentally the same: It is this toxic combination of inordinate power and lack of accountability that renders both of them dangerous, threatening our basic values and institutions.
That neither Republicans nor Democrats have done much of anything to effectively rein in these two centers of unaccountable power suggests that, if there is ever to be a viable third party in America, it will may borne of the ill-fated consequences.
What would a party that effectively slices out the center look like?
I don’t know.
14 June 2013
14 June 2013
But the key thing here is the, uh . . . well, the consistent leitmotif of all these stories. One after another, it’s the same thing: Insiders rigging benchmark rates, shaving money from basically everyone on earth, systematically and over periods of many years. It’s the ultimate taxation-without-representation story – crazy stuff.
Adam Smith’s invisible hand has become more like that of a three-card Monte player than a benevolent economic god.
When do we chop off the hand and play fair?
12 June 2013
If we had a strategy designed to increase jobs and wages, what would it look like? For starters, it would focus on raising the productivity of all Americans through better education — including early-childhood education and near-free higher education. That would require a revolution in how we finance public education. It’s insane that half of K-12 budgets still come from local property taxes, for example, especially given that we’re segregating geographically by income. And it makes no sense to pay for the higher education of young people from middle and lower-income families through student debt; that’s resulted in a mountain of debt that can’t or won’t be paid off, and it assumes that higher education is a private investment rather than a public good.
What has to happen to revolt us enough to demand such a revolution?
11 June 2013
When I checked the daily poll at my hometown newspaper this morning the question of the day was: Is the NSA phone surveillance whistleblower a hero or villain? I clicked “hero,” thinking I would be a minority of one. I was wrong. (click through to see how wrong yourself.)
In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago. Snowden’s whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back a key part of what has amounted to an “executive coup” against the US constitution.
Since 9/11, there has been, at first secretly but increasingly openly, a revocation of the bill of rights for which this country fought over 200 years ago. In particular, the fourth and fifth amendments of the US constitution, which safeguard citizens from unwarranted intrusion by the government into their private lives, have been virtually suspended.
The government claims it has a court warrant under Fisa – but that unconstitutionally sweeping warrant is from a secret court, shielded from effective oversight, almost totally deferential to executive requests. As Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency analyst, put it: “It is a kangaroo court with a rubber stamp.”
I agree. In the comments section of this morning’s Marietta Times poll, the first comment asked:
Lets say you have a candy job. Its in of all places.. HAWAII! You have a beautiful young girlfriend. You have a really good retirement portfolio. Why would you ever throw all that away, just to become the most hated man in America? I Still cant figure it out.
Perhaps for the very same reason young men and women choose to serve their nation in our military: love of country that surpasses personal comfort and security.
10 June 2013
10 June 2013
9 June 2013
9 June 2013
Perhaps when enough people begin to avoid those internet companies that kowtow to the draconian Bush-Obama privacy regime, free markets will assert themselves, but until then Salon has a few tips.
I’ve been toying with different search engines of late and I glommed onto this bit.
Obviously, Google, Yahoo, and Bing are out of the question for your new Internet lifestyle. There are alternative search engines that might help take you where you want to go. Blekko and DuckDuckGo are good options. For non-American services, you could use Russia’s Yandex, or consult this useful Wikipedia list of options.
Do you care that Big
Brother BOSS* is watching?
*The Bush-Obama Security Scheme
9 June 2013
The Buddha advises us not to try to run away from our own suffering, but to embrace it and look deeply into it. With deep looking, understanding will arise and compassion will be born. Understanding and compassion make happiness possible. p. 29
From Good Citizens: Creating Enlightened Society by Thich Nhat Hanh
Found in my electronic chapbook.
8 June 2013
Yes, chance does favor the connected mind…
8 June 2013
No. Nothing, good or bad, happens in threes. Events have always been and will always be just one damn incident after another.
All the same, however, as I was reading this morning, see below, I came across a third reference to books; this one from Arthur Conan Doyle’s recently discovered and published first novel, The Narrative of John Smith.
On page 20 Doyle, speaking in the voice of the entitled protagonist, writes:
What a wonderful thing a book is, though use has dulled our admiration for it! Here are all these dead men lurking inside my oaken case, ready to come out and talk to me whenever I may desire it. Do I wish philosophy? Here are Aristotle, Plato, Bacon, Kant and Descartes, all ready to confide to one of their very inmost thoughts upon a subject which they have made their own. Am I dreamy and poetical? Out come Heine and Shelley and Goethe and Keats with all their wealth of harmony and imagination. Or am I in need of amusement on the long winter evenings? You have but to light your reading lamp and beckon to any one of the world’s greatest storytellers, and the dead man will come forth and prattle to you by the hour. That reading-lamp is the real Aladdin’s wonder for summoning the genii with. Indeed, the dead are such good company that one is apt to think too little of the living.
Back to reading…