First let’s understand the damage the minimum wage brings about: it creates unemployment, makes goods and services more expensive, potentially drives otherwise employable people to illegal activities, shifts demand to off-the books hires and thus illegal immigration, among other things. And all this socio-economic destruction especially affects the people it purports to help: the poor.
No. This has been empirically proven false in a multitude of studies. If this were true, states with higher minimum wages would have higher unemployment — and this categorically untrue.
If the minimum wage was good, why isn’t it higher? That is the argument for minimum wage, isn’t it? That without a government set wage, corporations would pay us in steel dimes and peanuts, so to speak? So if a minimum wage is good for society, and raising the minimum wage is always better, why not set the minimum wage at $20 an hour? How about $100/hr? Or $1,000/hr? Who wouldn’t want a job at $1,000 an hour?
Yes, there is a continuum and a trail off of decreasing returns. But no person that toils for a living should be paid less than a living wage. To do as such is indeed a mark of bondage or slavery.
The problem with that is that very few people would be hirable at that rate. It’s not difficult to see that the higher the minimum wage, the higher the unemployment. Conversely, the lower the minimum wage, the lower the unemployment.
A classic case of zero sum thinking. What happens when workers are paid a decent wage is that they, in turn, spend those dollars and goods and services. Dispensed coin which fuels revenue and profits of other human entities conducting business transactions. Which, in turn, feeds more and more. Win win win. It’s the velocity of money. And the nation’s history is replete with such empirical evidence, most evident the New Deal reforms which transformed the “middle class” into an ubiquitous state, a perch hitherto never existing on such a scale.
So, minimum wage creates this domino effect of negative unintended consequences, which makes the argument against minimum wage very clear.
Sorry, but the fulfilling of labor will always chase the lowest common denominator. Without restrictions, regulations, humane labor law, etc.… employers will always “race to the bottom”. And there truly is no bottom, as humankind will suffer being treated like animals just to squabble over a few crumbs tossed their way. It’s why immigration law exists, unions battled to win humane treatment of labor, professional guilds are chartered — to ensure suitable compensation that an unfettered labor exchange would never fetch.
In sum: unemployment would be tiny; overall wealth and productivity would be high; crime, illegal immigration, and prices would remain low.
No, and it’s a ridiculous assertion — one that is gobsmacked by economic civilization across the historical breadth and depth of civilization. Without freedom from want, there can be no other freedom(s). Furthermore, I challenge such libertarian lunacy to demonstrate for me even one small pocket of economic history where such a libertarian reverie was ever more than a deluded materialistic fantasy novelist. Or other than states transformed into “rule of the jungle” states like Somalia.
Religious leaders, in churches, synagogues and mosques, at best voice pious and empty platitudes about justice or carry out nominal acts of charity aimed at those bearing the weight of resistance in the streets.
If Hedges wants to criticize those who aren’t doing the work they should be doing, fine. But he need not disparage those who have given their careers, their freedom, and their lives for a passionate belief in justice.
Not that Chris Hedges needs the likes of me leaping to his defense, but if you read the cited article, much of the focus is on the efforts of a retired Episcopal Bishop. And his broadside is directed at “nearly all” as the original quote clipped off this sentence:
Packard’s moral and intellectual courage stands in stark contrast with the timidity of nearly all clergy and congregants in all of our major religious institutions.
And from my reading of Hedges, he is well aware of the courageous feats of Romero, Martin Luther King, and other religious leaders that have given their careers, lives and freedom for justice. But I think it is correct to cast most of the “American church leaders” in the light Hedges has cast. The churches that Martin Luther King and your former pastor led are not representative of the typical 21st century church leader — those churches are emptying and dying, whereas the megachurch model and its moralistic therapeutic deism has gripped most American Christians.
I’m not sure about others, but I use Tumblr as my blogging platform for a variety of reasons. I chose — and stick with — Tumblr because it’s easy to use, because I can use it quickly from anywhere on any device, and because I have built relationships with other bloggers here. The dozen Tumblr users with whom I regularly interact are careful, thoughtful readers and writers. But they don’t get nearly the attention they should, from the wide world outside Tumblr, because of this weird perception of Tumblr as nothing but a silly internet toy. Tumblr blogs can be blogs in the same way that Wordpress or Blogger blogs can be blogs. But if people presume that Tumblr equates with memes and nothing else, then a lot of interesting blogs will get ignored by readers who would probably find them very engaging. And Cillizza’s post perpetuates precisely this idea about Tumblr … but he even goes so far as to ignore blogs that were specifically recommended to him.
Having said all of that, if The Fix wants to focus on the memes, that’s fine. Cillizza just shouldn’t ask about “the best political blogs on Tumblr” if he already knows wants to feature pictures with comedic captions.
That Cillizza list is an awful joke, and a poorly titled list. It’s another thinly veiled stab of casting a label that ALL Tumblr blogs fit into the author’s preconceived negative meme typology.
And I know that I’ve neglected hundreds (if not thousands) of other quality Tumblr offerings, just not on the tip of my pen at this post juncture. :(
As an addendum note here, I attempted to leave a comment (and share the aforementioned list) on the Washington Post article, but was rebuffed as it required a Washington Post account, to which I did submit an account registration form, but as of yet, have not received a confirmation email. And in web time, with so many spots to visit, I quickly forget about these dangling comment affairs.
Producer Alex Blumberg tells the story of Jeff Smith, a former Missouri State Senator who spent last year in federal prison. The story of how Jeff ended up there includes large sins, but begins with a relatively small one. In other words, it’s the story of a venial sin turning into a mortal one.
Since today is Star Wars Day and everyone I know is having a fantastic time writing, “May the 4th be with you” on Facebook and Twitter, I thought I’d ask a question that’s been troubling me for weeks now:
When are we going to deal with the troubling fact that Luke Skywalker is one of the most successful and best respected mass killers in history?
Not only does Skywalker kill tens of thousands — in hand-to-hand combat and by blowing up two iterations of the Death Star — but he’s celebrated as a galatic hero for doing it (to say nothing of that fact that Earth-bound movie-goers consistently name him as an exemplar of heroism decade after decade).
I understand that the Empire is an unquestionable evil and that bringing an end to Palpatine’s reign of totalitarian terror is laudable, but the body count that Skywalker racks up along the way surely must give us pause.
When that Death Star explodes and thousands of lives are lost, and then the very next scene shows Skywalker and his friends cheering and laughing, isn’t our moral compass taken for an uncomfortable spin? How can we explain these celebrations to our children?
The belief that violence “saves” is so successful because it doesn’t seem to be mythic in the least. Violence simply appears to be the nature of things. It’s what works. It seems inevitable, the last and, often, the first resort in conflicts. If a god is what you turn to when all else fails, violence certainly functions as a god. What people overlook, then, is the religious character of violence. It demands from its devotees an absolute obedience- unto-death.
This Myth of Redemptive Violence is the real myth of the modern world. It, and not Judaism or Christianity or Islam, is the dominant religion in our society today.…
“Julia” is a fictional character created by Barack Obama’s campaign to advertise the litany of government benefits they promise if you just vote for him. This is the exploitation of naive people’s self interest at their finest.
I find this line of attack perplexing. Of course I’m going to vote for the guy who I think will do the best job creating the country I want to live in. Why else would you vote for anybody? Because you’re an edgy rebel and want to vote for the suckier candidate? I think the government should provide certain services. I like sidewalks. I like clean water. I like health codes. I like a functioning court system. I’m happy that somebody is inspecting elevators. And fire departments are brilliant.
“But it’s not free!” HuskerRed might reply. Of course it isn’t free. I pay for it. I’m happy to pay for it. If I need to pay more for the things we need as a society, I’m happy for that.
If you want things that you haven’t earned given to you, vote for Barack Obama. Never mind centuries of a community ethic of hard work and self-reliance. It’s someone else’s money, and you want it now!
I don’t want your money. But a properly functioning society provides some public servants—and we all need to chip in, as appropriate, to pay for them. One of our other great community ethics is that we actually believe in community ethics. We believe that maybe if we get together to do something important, we can accomplish awesome things. We believe that when you’ve done well, you can help the guy behind you. Or at least help up the person you knocked over on the path to success. Everybody contributes. That feels a lot more reasonable than the alternative.
“I have a disproportionate share of the wealth and I want to cut of life-saving services to other people so I can have an even more disproportionate share of the wealth.” I don’t have a lot of patience for that sort of selfish entitlement.
…the other side is lodged in the clutches of anti-intellectualism, anti-science, anti-smartypants; basically, in the grip of insanity.
Once, in a younger, more idealistic modal, I voted for third parties. Until research and study exposed how foolish that act was in a rigid bicameral structure — voting for third party simply rewards one of the two “main” parties, and it’s almost always the one ideologically distant from the one you’re casting a vote for.
So, I am relegated to choosing between the ‘D’ and ‘R’ brands. One wants to return (or, as the contemporary conservative bunch, maintain the status quo of the political institutions established in the past 80 years) to the 20th century; the other wishes to regress back to the 19th century Gilded Age robber baron political philosophies. And for added effect, toss in religious fundamentalism and xenophobia to its mix.
Both. Let’s let a real executive give it a whirl. We might actually have some collaborative leadership for the first time in decades.
By putting the poster boy for the 1%, an individual emblematic of the ditch derailing the Republicans and their banker buddies rigged up? By putting a guy into the nation’s executive suite who is surrounding himself with the same advisors and staffers that also aided and consulted the previous president, who arguably may be one the worst presidents to ever serve (who also touted his “business” acumen)?
Do we want to relive that period of massive job losses (occurring under GWB watch, and after a few months into Obama’s term, abated, and reversed course)? Granted, rate of job recovery is not ideal, but at least it’s not nosediving like it was 2008-2009.
Let’s take a look at stock market performance under Bush, and then, now under Obama.
Today, American conservatism has degenerated into an intellectually and morally bankrupt ideology. It offers nothing more than bumper-sticker slogans that pander to the prejudices and ignorance of the lowest common denominator in order to enrich and empower an oligarchic elite. Angry, cruel and sneering, it is exemplified by the carnival barkers on talk radio and Fox News. High in volume, but devoid of substance, it has no long-term future because it lacks credible solutions to the range of very real problems American society is facing.
Indeed, what passes for “conservatism” today is actually nothing of the sort. Modern American conservatism has forgotten its rich legacy and betrayed its best traditions. It has become infected with a virulent strain of extreme libertarianism heavily influenced by the thinking of Ayn Rand.”
Luckily we Conservatives don’t conform to this guy’s interpretation. And so many of us don’t watch the talking heads on any channel. Mostly we read and think for ourselves and have studied history and political science and know what a failed mess collectivist visions and models are. It’s really not that complicated. But you can find sloganeering on both sides. And ignorance. No doubt about that. We’re going to win this one.
Some quick-hit notes, fired off, here, in response to this vapid retort:
You might not “conform” to this “interpretation”. But all the social science indicators reveal a strong anti-intellectual, anti-science, delusional authoritarian bent in the bases staunchest supporters. And simple electoral map breakdown reveals how “severely” the Republican party has become a rural/southern regional party, defined more by what they are against, than what they are in favor of.
Some of you do indeed “read and think for ourselves” as you state, but most are in lock-step with the influential thought leaders like Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly, Fox News (with its Chinese/Saudi foreign billionaire ownership), Glenn Beck, etc.… It’s amazing how “on message” they are — the ludicrous fear mongering (like, for example, the recent hubbub over Obama campaign’s “Forward”). Just watch The Daily Show or The Colbert Report, where this repeated drumming of the same verbal mantra is captured brilliantly.
Committing an egregious error in adopting a binary switch for economic models; a grievous flub that fails to correctly identify the true villains of economic advancement over 6,000 years of human history — oligarchs, plutocrats and aristocracy. Failing to observe the nation’s very own economic history and noting the collective efforts that catapulted the United States into economic giant-hood. Public education, electricity, the interstate highway system, the transistor, the modem, the internet, just about every modern medical miracle you take for granted, etc.… are just a few elements procured by such public investment.
As far as “ignorance” on “both sides”; true, it exists. But ask yourself, why only 5% of scientists are Republican now (and less than 10% define themselves as conservative). This is a relatively recent phenomenon; in past generations that mark was near equally split between the parties and political philosophies. Is it because the Republicans have defined themselves as anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-women, anti-science (with most in the party in disbelief over evolution, climate change science, or just about any other science that conflicts with dogma)?
Tinkering with themes — it might not look like much at this present juncture, but under the seams, bits of CSS are being deconstructed.
AZspot is getting all the post attention these days, but I yearn to rekindle a longer form, essay length (or short paragraph bursts) blogging space. Contemplated creating a new online space and/or identity but figured I would at least attempt to revive this place, or at the very minimum, finish a Tumblr custom theme refresh effort, as this theme is as nearly as old as Tumblr itself.
Stay tuned to this Tumblr channel for future developments.
Herein lies my chronicle of Big Tent Christianity 2011, a conference about “convergence of new and old ways of being and becoming the Church”, that I attended last week (Thursday and Friday).
BTX brings people together from across the country to proclaim what unites us as followers of Jesus in this modern world. More than a dozen leading Christian voices will break through boundaries to share new and innovative forms of ministry and renewal. You will be inspired by their visions of how we can speak even more powerfully in and to the world of the 21st century.
The published words here at this online ranch splatter all over the political map, though predominately sway to left of center, but theologically speaking, however, I am much more in the conservative camp. Not a fire and brimstone inerrantist fundamentalist by any stretch, but I do believe in the sacredness of the bible text. And not that it’s a collection of misty fairy tales, but a central theological motif based on the Kingdom of God. Just trying to establish my bias and perspective heading in.
So for two days, I was treated to bunch of “leading Christian voices” speaking on “big tent Christianity”; here goes my roundup of all the chatter and prattle.
Who was on stage
Tripp Fuller — Did not put together that Tripp is the proprietor of Homebrewed Christianity podcast where I have listened to some fantastic interviews with various theologians. Tripp served up some of the musical interludes too.
Carol Howard Merritt — Gave an impassioned talk on Healing the Wounds of Religion. In particular, some touching words on women wounded, who often blame themselves for the harm dealt by others, particularly “the church”.
Rachel Held Evans — Wanted to tell Rachel in person how much I enjoyed reading Evolving in Monkey Town but every time I attempted to approach, she was speaking to somebody else.
Gary Kinnaman — The “token” evangelical conservative on the panel, also conducted a breakout session on immigration that was rather interesting: Gary has taken this issue up, compiled evidence, and even visited lawmakers in support of immigration reform. His presentation, however, seemed more suited for folks at my church, and not this crowd, who are not the flock of the conservative pastor who frequently tune into right wing talk radio. I felt bad for Gary, that the audience is unaware of the shit storm Gary entered as I imagine that a good number of his former flock pan him as a turncoat. He also had one of the best lines of the conference: "you know you arrived when people ask you to sign your son’s book"
Eliacin Rosario-Cruz — Eliacin served as cochair with Gary Kinnaman in the immigration breakout session.
Derek Webb — Prior to conference, I was not acquainted with the music of Derek Webb. Wow, what an incredibly gifted musician. /em heading off to iTunes to hear more :)
Brian McLaren — Have read a number of Mr. Brian McLaren’s books, including his latest, A New Kind of Christianity. They’re all OK, I don’t see what the all fuss is about, from either detractors or adherents. Here, his talk seemed to be flat. It could just be me, though, I confess.
Marcus Borg — Found it be rather curious that a conference would bill itself as “big tent” and then feature a keynote speaker that would completely dis the foundational tract all a bible believing Christian holds dear — that Jesus resurrection, along with a whole bunch of other stuff in the Gospel, is just a fable. The audience cheered his pronouncements of panentheism and belittling of Christians who see things differently. As I’ve read a few of Borg’s books, I know where he is coming from, but this evening sounded more like “how stupid them that believe this are” rather than “big tent” unity and professions of Christian love. Just saying.
Mark Scandrette — Mark shared the Jesus Dojo with the crowd. Full of energy and passion, Mark’s zeal for speaking on practicing the way of Jesus seemed to be unbound by the constraints of time. While the conference featured a lot of intellectual theorizing, Mark struck me as an elder Shane Claiborne, doing the Gospel, instead of merely talking about it.
Nadia Bolz-Weber — Hot damn, a tattooed, cussing, traditional liturgy embracing evangelical Lutheran pastor that tells it just like it is. She is real, no hesitation in sharing her own foibles and I enjoyed listening to her speak on both her life journey and praxis at the church she has built and grown. Even if she professed dislike for conservative evangelical folk like me. ;)
Shane Hipps — Been a big fan of Shane, dating back to when he served as a Mennonite pastor of a church just down the road from me. Ever since reading Flickering Pixels, he was entered into my iTunes podcast subscriptions, and when he matriculated to Mars Hill, I did not have to add another feed, as Rob Bell was already in there. After some back and forth dialogue in a breakout session on Technology and Soul, he called me a technophile (in contrast to someone he termed a technophobe, sitting behind me). It did strike that what Rob and Shane are doing at Mars Hill is much more in tune with “Big Tent Christianity” than most of what I observed at this conference.
Richard Rohr — The Naked Now has been on my Amazon wish list for some time now, based on recommendations read elsewhere. His talk was intriguing, and I felt shorted as Rohr just seemed to be getting in the groove of sharing his numinous take on spirituality before he was interrupted for panel crosstalk. Nabbed a copy of The Naked Now over the weekend, started devouring and thus far, am totally enraptured.
A great bit of discussion about prayer but almost zero practice. That is in vivid contrast to other church conferences I have attended where prayer and ministry are integral part of the proceedings.
A continual refrain that mainline ministers and pastors constantly confess that they cannot be honest and truthful with their congregations. At least until the point they terminate their service. I did not understand this assertion and I queried folks sitting next to me but did not receive a satisfactory answer. Is this “fear” due to the authority hierarchy in the mainline or was it fear of alienating the flock?
Lots of grumpy old farts devoid of any joy. Say what can be said about the dogmatic and intransigent nature of some conservative Christians, but on the whole, they seem to retain a sense of humor.
A great deal of intellectualization about the Gospel and the Kingdom, but outside of a few voices, little in the way of doing the stuff. Or sharing putting the Gospel into action.
With exception of a few stray voices, on stage and in the audience, a dearth of conservative evangelicals. I realize that those in the extreme fundamentalist vein or hardcore reformed crowd chafe at the notion of breaking bread with emergent (whatever that word means now) and progressive heretics, but conservative Christians are far from uniform in composition and I definitely envision many in a “center set” working together on the things we Christians can agree about. Maybe it’s a foolhardy conviction, this “big tent” conception, that the founders are targeting a more “bounded set” than I envisaged.
What I learned
Mainline churches are still aging and dying.
Progressive Christians appear to be upfront about their political leanings. In conservative evangelical churches, politics rarely takes center stage, but there were numerous references to political doings here. And not just in a global “empire” sense, but specific politicians and policy planks.
That both mainliner liberal and fundamentalist Baptist alike loathe the megachurch. Or, as it was referred to, by some, as “movie theater” churches.
Though I feel at times that I do not fit in well with the church I belong to (A Vineyard church), the churches represented at this conference I would even be far more unsuited for. Except for the new monastics, for which put me in awe and beset with inadequacy over my own path as a follower of Jesus way.
I am completely supportive of the “big tent Christianity” idea. It saddens me that Christians exert so much energy quibbling with each other over doctrine and theological constructs. Defining themselves by what they are against instead of what they are for. Even worse, Christians seeking redress in secular courts to “win” their way over other Christians (i.e, marriage equality), despite biblical instruction against taking intra-Christian squabbles into the public court. When there is so much that most all Christians are down with — living out the Gospel, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, attending to the imprisoned, cultivating rich soil, advancing the Kingdom, bringing hope, bearing love, etc.…
While I expressed some dismay over the “big tent” incompleteness, I still applaud the endeavor and hope that successive events deliver more. More voices. More light. More transformation.
For the 2010 edition, I was able to take in Saturday sessions only as family contingencies precluded any Sunday participation. Sadly, attendance, hoopla, and excitement waned, it seems, from previous year’s enactments — even the existence of cancelation rumblings on the eve of the event.
I had the misfortune of being scheduled for the last talk before lunch. It’s an “unconference” so people shuffling in and out of sessions is to be expected, but it sure seemed like after half way thru, many matriculated out. Whether it was due to my style, the presentaion content, the flickering WiFi availability (doing live demonstrations is usually a dicey proposition with conference WiFi setups) or the lure of hunger pains, I am uncertain. But those who stuck around for the duration and those who popped in part way thru appeared to be entertained and informed with my Tumblr hands-on show-and-tell shtick. We went through the drill of creating a new Tumblr blog and I exhibited various Tumblr features and goodies. Fielding queries along the way.
Since PodCampAZ unconferences (this was my 3rd) seem to be so WordPress-centric, I was eager to share the possibilities and potential Tumblr, especially for those who never have explored Tumblr or just had given it a one-time cursory glance and moved on. Hopefully, some folk received a flavorful taste of Tumblr and impelled them to take a greater crunch.
Tumblr features that were a big hit with the audience were (a) ease of custom domain setup (someone wished to explore this in greater detail, but at the time, internet access was flaky, and time remaining was short) (b) multiple blog capability and (c) queue power and versatility.
Here are some of the questions submitted by my audience:
Q: Is it possible to have multiple blogs for a given account?
A: Yes. And I then proceeded to demonstrate live, on the big screen this capability.
Q: Via the dashboard, can I auto-email my post(s) to a list of followers|subscribers?
A: No, Tumblr social networking is centered in likes, replies and reblogs. Or funneling out to Facebook or Twitter. The gentleman asking this avowed familiarity with Posterous so I queried him if Posterous possessed this feature. He replied that it did but it was not always reliable (much like the Tumblr queue, I reckon :))
Q: Is it easy to create custom themes for Tumblr sites?
A: Very much so, if you know CSS. In fact, it’s one of the big ticket checklist items I wished to stress — in comparison to the abomination of WordPress intermingling of programming code with presentation markup, Tumblr themes are simple, sleek and blessed with a straightforward template tag setup.
Q: Is Tumblr good with search engine optimization (SEO)?
A: Eh, I’m not a SEO marketing dude and honestly (and here my teeth clamped into my tongue slightly), to me, a lot of that SEO stuff is a lot of hooey. But Tumblr spits out well formed markup, auto generates clean RSS post feeds and appears to my unrefined SEO eye to index well in the Google.
Q: Can I create a regular old-fashioned website with Tumblr like can be done with WordPress?
Q: Are there any content restrictions with Tumblr or what sort of content is prohibited?
A: The only verboten content I could conjure was spam and spam marketing but I was uncertain of my answer. I am aware that plenty of NSFW (which triggered a crack from the crowd about NSFWP — “Not Safe for WordPress”) stuff can creep into my dashboard.
Q: How stable is the Tumblr platform, long term?
A: Tumblr is a Top 50 site now. Don’t know exactly how many Tumblr sites there are today (there were 750 existing when I began the Tumblr trek back in 2007), but I’m guessing that it’s a heck of a lot more than when I started and still growing. With that many users, there’s enough money to keep it afloat for a while at least. In internet years. If worried, back your content up locally and/or in the cloud.
Q: Is it possible or how easy is it to create Tumblr plugins?
In the United States, a different set of factors is driving the trend. With unemployment high and long-term interest rates near record lows, inflation under control, and Democrats poised to suffer losses in the midterm elections, further stimulus would seem to be a no-brainer. But the same internal debate that roiled the Clinton White House in 1993—when advisers Robert Rubin and Robert Reich tangled over the relative merits of deficit and reduction and stimulus—is being replayed today. In 1993 the Rubinites won the day, arguing that Democrats needed to demonstrate a commitment to deficit reduction to avoid being tarred as tax-and-spenders. Seventeen years later, the Obama administration has made a different calculation: Higher short-term deficits are a greater political risk than slower growth and higher unemployment. But the debate fails to recognize the anti-stimulus provided by states and cities, which are prohibited from running deficits. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calculated that 33 states made tax changes in 2008 or ‘09 that would increase annual revenues by $31.7 billion. Meanwhile, state and local governments slashed 22,000 jobs in May. “The actions that states are taking because of the recession and their balanced-budget requirements are slowing the economy,” said Nicholas Johnson, director of the state fiscal project at CBPP.
It’s difficult to contract your way to growth. The world’s large economies need to run higher deficits in the short term to promote growth and close the gaps later. St. Augustine famously pleaded: “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.” Policymakers might stop looking to Milton Friedman and John Maynard Keynes and rethink Augustine. Give us austerity and deficit reduction—but not yet.
This misses the fundamentals completely. Debt is a claim on future resource consumption. No one is claiming that austerity will immediately foment economic growth - rather, starvation and catastrophe, felt most harshly amongst the lower classes. This is why labor organizations and other working-class interests oppose austerity worldwide.
That said, the working-class interests should have had that in mind when the first-world built up generational deficits instead of funding entitlements, wars, and pork. Demanding entitlements without demanding taxes to pay for them firmly places the recipients of those entitlements in the economic crosshairs. No pro-austerity economist is saying that austerity is some wonderful pro-growth future; rather, austerity is a necessary pain undertaken by my unlucky generation to clean up the myriad disasters left to us by those who simply voted themselves the treasury.
Yes, certainly, debt represents “a claim on future resource consumption”. But adhering to such a policy advocacy is a blatant demonstration of zero-sum thinking — a misguided notion that present day costs are absolutely equivalent to future date costs. All of our nation’s (speaking of the U.S.) great economic expansions were fueled by massive outlays (and decried in similar fashion) of “stimulus”. Years hence, those obligations will be pennies pitted against dollars (or greater).
The historical record is rather clear on the matter and completely debunks the orthodoxies of dumbstruck neoliberal economists.
…We have, time and again, decided to pour debt into aggregate demand instead of fundamental economic systems like education or infrastructure. I don’t understand why the blame for this process is being laid upon a nebulous “corporate America.” Moreover, I don’t understand how your protectionist theories and vague New Deal fetishization produce a workable 2010 policy in a world where America will have to compete on cost to “home-spin” goods.
Protectionist theories? New Deal fetishization? Phew!
Regarding “protectionist theories”, let it be noted that in those periods where U.S. policy was higher tariffs, that was also the nation’s golden age of greatest economic advancement. And also, in stark contrast to IMF interests and lords of neoliberal orthodoxies (which are part and parcel of the economic fail of the past 30 years of neoliberal economic policy), the model embraced by Japan, Korea and China. To nourish and protect essential native industry until they are giant enough to commandeer in the global pool.
Without the cost impact of free trade, what do you think the lifestyle of those tied to the balls/chains would be?
I’ll also point out that Southeast Asians - for some reason depicted with racist imagery here - are slaves of their own nations. China, for example, purchases debt using tax revenue. Its currency policy robs the savings accounts of its workers of purchasing power in order to promote exports. Our debt policy engages similar forces to encourage expenditures and debt, facilitating imports. I’ll point out that central banks play the primary role in these processes, not corporations.
With respect to wages and rights, US workers and workers abroad are experiencing an equalization of their standards of living. US workers have much further to fall, and will fall. I will enjoy the growing frustration of the labor movement in this area, as the continually poor quality of thought demonstrated by labor organizations is terribly amusing - eventually they’ll figure out that violent nationalism is the best route to their goals and we’ll remember why the developed world represses the proletariat. Developed economies - “corporate America” is simply a dog-whistle for morons - are merely dry-humping the corpse of Earth, drained of its resources, and the suffering the world’s people is merely a poorly-understood consequence.
A great lot of assumptions are inherent in your response text.
If we’re examining the architecture of a system that generates riches and wealth, no doubt, it is structured to reap loot.
Problem is, throughout most of history, those proceeds flowed only to a narrow band at the peak of an economic pyramid of people. In Europe, the development of social democratic programs lifted economic fortunes for most. In America, the advent of FDR New Deal programs, along with the rise of organized labor (as too, in Europe) distributed an elevated standard of living to most of the populace too.
And the odd thing is, that period of history was also western civilization’s most fruitful and productive time. Where social mobility and probability of advancement in life earnings and status was greatest, according to those that brandish statistics on the matter.
Are you really suggesting that in an earlier era, when finished goods were predominately homespun, and a typical high school dropout could nab a job and support a stay-at-home mom and family, and lesser aggregate productivity output, that American workers were even in deeper need of “equalization of standard of living”? How can such a thing be postured if one objectively examines the historical record?
Though, sadly, in recent years, productivity keeps increasing in significant strides, yet that accrual is not seeping over to the working masses. Some economists point out that this is the true cause of the recent economic downturn, along with the all the financial gimmicks and redeployment of valuable human resources that would better serve progress in other fields of art and science.
A local conservative Christian radio talk show features a segment every week that’s titled “What would you say?”. In it, he cues an audio clip of a notable “liberal” speaking something buffoonish. Thereafter, he solicits audience phone calls to provide the best response. The winner is then awarded a prize pack of goodies.
In the most recent instance, Sarah Silverman’s comments on marriage were featured. Afterwards, the host tore into her reasoning, but attacking her arguments by the morality standards of her own worldview. He definitely scored some points, at least from a bystander viewpoint based on an objective logician frame of reference.
Immediately after he shares his take, a caller phones in and challenges the host on his reasoning in the matter. The caller declares his background and training in apologetics and then proceeds to instruct the host on how his rationale is all in vain. That he’s speaking past the audience that is desperate need of hearing the message — that no amount of awe stunning logic is going to sway those seeped in the way of the world and contemporary culture. All that can be done, is just to share the gospel, and continue on in the quest of Christianization.
But from my vantage point, both host and caller are terribly ill-founded. Yes, both are correct within the narrow realm of their thinking — undoubtedly, I found myself nodding in agreement to both sentiments — one, that people with divergent worldviews require conveyance in their own lingo and metaphors and two, it’s utterly impossible (excluding the rare gifted individual that can persuade any human to bend to his will) to conduce another to a like-minded assessment on the basis of pure reason alone.
However, tragically as brothers in Christ, both miss the larger, more consequential frame. Love. Acts of sacrificial love. Kind behavior not rooted in reciprocity. Good deeds, done with no expectant return, showered onto fellow beings. Heart piercing exploits that defy and transcend any barriers of worldly sense.
Some will say that such behavioral stratagems are complete folly, a fool’s errand. But it’s truly the only force powerful enough to puncture evil, hate, injustice, darkness, etc.…. Just look at the model Jesus displayed — “love your enemies, bless them that curse you”. Throughout history, a few radical individuals strived to walk that path. Gandhi. Martin Luther King. Mother Teresa. They touched and inspired so many, and brought light into darkness, via such conduct. The story of the growth of early Christianity offers a vivid exemplification — people of the way giving, sharing, loving fellow brothers and sisters, without any expectation of return favor. It literally is the embodiment of Jesus pronouncement of the mustard seed as a model for the kingdom of God.
Like the Church, the Monarchy, and the Communist Party in other times and places, the corporation is today’s dominant institution.
Some thoughts and a comprehensive roundup of recent posts on the ramifications of the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling.
Corporations is People
Corporations were given the rights, of immortal persons. But then special kinds of persons. Persons who had no moral conscience.
Corporations are artificial entities, but wield more living power than real life being. While it’s possible for one to go bankrupt, a financially healthy corporation exists in perpetuity. It might be levied fines, its officers prosecuted for legal malfeasance, or the target of lawsuits (though one political party has a contract target of eliminating such acts) but it can’t be prosecuted for murder and executed. Oddly ironic, given the United States creation history — considering its rebellion against an alliance of monarchy and state sanctioned multinational chartered corporations (i.e., East India Company). In fact, until the late 19th century, corporate charters were revoked if they compromised the public good. And prior to the Civil War, the state imposed limits on profits, ownership and charters were only granted for finite durations.
A corporation is an amoral, man created construct that exists for the sole purpose of self profit. By law, the corporation’s only consideration is its bottom line, and any action taken by a corporate officer in the interest of altruistic goodwill without regard to self-aggrandizement is verboten. Which means the public interest, environmental externalities (i.e., pollution) is forsaken unless it falls under the framework of corporate self-preservation. The excellent documentary film The Corporation puts “The Corporation” on the couch and concludes, per its casting as a “person”, it fits the clinical definition of a psychopath.
I sympathize with the first amendment absolutists like Glenn Greenwald that believe results are immaterial to the principle of free speech codified in the Bill of Rights. It’s about the only line of reasoning in support of the SCOTUS ruling I can grok. Other charges claimed that a SCOTUS ruling in the opposite manner would have meant such media (like the Hillary attack movie in the Citizens United case) could be banned from all sorts of other publishing venues. Here I insert the ubiquitous IANAL disclaimer, but I don’t believe that’s a valid counterpoint — radio and television bands, since inception, have been placed with constraints that they must serve the public interest. The reasoning being that the airwaves belong to the public, and there’s a limited, finite cap on channels in those broadcast spectrums. Yes, the advent and proliferation of cable and satellite programming deliver hundreds of new channels, but for practical purposes, it’s still a limited platform. Totally unlike print and web publishing outlets, where said media creation is available to all.
Now in the Age of the Internet, as old worlds collide with new paradigms, one might push back that the line between traditional publisher and new media upstart grows fuzzier, and a clear demarcation may be impossible to make in a few years (or even now). And that’s a valid point. I’m really interested in the variety of takes from legal trained minds on this matter — I could be completely mistaken in my assessment.
A different wrinkle is the claim that the ruling matters not as politicians and legislatures are already bought and sold. The lobbyist to congress critter ratio is now approximately 1000 to 1 (or greater), and that was a trend long in effect before the conservative SCOTUS justices made their ruling in this case. Some figure that the ruling is just an official consummation of an existing practice. Or even if the dissenters had their way, all would be for naught, as money would just flow like water around the restrictions and meander into election campaigns via a different, but sanctioned route.
In one of the cited articles below (a piece by Juan Cole), the author argues that the SCOTUS decision pales in comparison to a potential abolition of Net Neutrality. But that’s a naive assertion, given that bundles of corporate loot can be funneled into stealthy internet campaigns. It’s already happening — the web is awash in astroturf schemes to influence political thought or just macro pasting a presence across popular web locales. Actually, it’s nothing new, as this instructed “cut and paste” “letter to the editor” machination is no one-off phenomenon. Only a fool would deny that Wikipedia, newspaper forums, popular blogger comments, etc.… are infected with such agitprop.
The conservative brain trust was quick to rush to the defense of SCOTUS justice Alito who defied President Obama’s remarks on the ruling, repeating that it was just poppycock about foreign interests exercising control on U.S. policy. But Alito and loyalists are both rooted in ignorance — just examine the composition of “American” multinational corporate executive leadership and significant shareholders — there is a large degree of foreign influence.
It is a strange moment in jurisprudence. On the one hand, corporations frequently restrict the expressions of employees or others within their purview: what they may wear, what their T-shirts may say, what political messages they may post on the walls of their cubicles. On the other, the inanimate entity of the corporation itself will now enjoy a range of First Amendment benefits not limited by principles of debate or substance, and it will be constrained only by the size of its treasury in deploying whatever technological bullhorn has the greatest chance of drowning out everyone else.
With the Citizens United ruling, the court revealed the depth of its contempt for judicial restraint, original intent, and deference to the legislature. The ruling is nothing short of a coup, a fundamental change in the structure of the America polity. It will work not only to the defeat of democracy, but to the destruction of what’s left of the small businessman. From this day forward, no one will hold office who does not have the approval of the corporations, no small business will exist save by their sufferance.
Through Domestic-Controlled Corporations, Congress Needs to Act Quickly to Close the Loophole Thus, a corporation organized in Germany, or with its headquarters in China, remains subject to a ban on spending in U.S. elections. But there are domestic corporations - those organized under state law in the United States - which are and can be controlled by foreign interests. Those kinds of corporations - domestic corporations owned by or controlled by foreign governments, foreign corporations or foreign individuals - are not in any way prevented by section 441e from spending corporate treasury funds to influence U.S. elections. Prior to the Citizens United decision, these corporations were prevented from spending their funds on expenditures to influence federal campaigns by the general prohibition on corporate campaign spending. But now that that prohibition has been struck down, these foreign-controlled domestic companies are free to spend their treasury funds directly to influence U.S. elections.
The Supreme Court recently ruled 5-4 that corporations can spend unlimited amounts to support or oppose candidates. Corporations! Since there are no restrictions on the citizenship of the owners of corporations foreign companies and governments now have a direct way to manipulate our laws and regulations. Outside interests have been influencing American opinion for decades, but have not before this been able to directly support or oppose candidates. The Washington Times, Fox News, and other corporations with significant foreign ownership already work full-time to turn American public opinion against our own government. “Free trade” advocacy groups with funding from outside our borders work to get us to open our markets to imports that close our factories, outsource our jobs, lower our standard of living and drive us into ever-increasing debt. We have seen this with “grassroots” lobbying on important issues like climate change, trying to make people think that the science is a “hoax”: see Grassroots’ Opposition to Clean Energy Reform Bankrolled by Foreign Oil, Petro-Governments. But this new ability to directly support or oppose candidates offers a vastly more effective and immediate way for America’s competitors to achieve their goals. What will they go after first? Of course a top goal of our competitors is to take down our manufacturing capacity — the foundation of a country’s economic power.
The Supreme Court has just anointed the market’s civic legitimacy by removing all limits on private corporate money spent on public elections. The aim of the First Amendment was to secure equality via multivocality. The Court’s decision does precisely the opposite, privileging the powerful and skewing free expression. This decision is not however an aberration but a perfect expression of the people’s current conviction that unleashing private money is itself a public good — which is why Justice Alito was shaking his head in disbelief when the President criticized the decision in front of Congress. They may rag at banks, but the reality is that most Americans today fear their own public institutions far more than they fear private corporations deploying bottomless treasuries in the name of special interests, something Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell captured in his response to Obama when he said we have to “restore the proper, limited role of government at every level.” The conventional wisdom calls the rage of the American public against the Republican Party last year and the Democrats in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts this year “populism,” and pundits are asking today whether the President is trying to restore his own “populist” credentials. But when a democratic people rages against its chosen representatives and runs political campaigns against itself, when politicians who spend years in D.C. and define what “Washington” is then vilify it at every turn, it suggests not populism but democratic self-betrayal. It’s not just that government serves us and protects us: it is us; which makes the antagonism to government a kind of civic self-loathing. When we vote against incumbents , we are really voting against ourselves incarnated as politicians, against what we did as citizens last time around.
If the government’s reason for silencing corporations is that they don’t like what corporations would say — if it thinks, for example, that it would be too Republican, or too pro-business — then that’s got to be a terrible reason for the regulation, and we all ought to support a decision that strikes a law so inspired. That, however, is not the only, or the best, justification behind the regulations at issue in Citizens United. Those rules not about suppressing a point of view. They’re about avoiding a kind of dependency that undermines trust in our government. The concentrated, and tacitly, coordinated efforts by large and powerful economic entities — made large and powerful in part because of the gift of immunity given by the state — could certainly help lead many to believe “money is buying results” in Congress. Avoiding that belief — just like avoiding the belief that money bought results on the Supreme Court — has got to be an important and valid interest of the state.
What’s most disturbing here is the increasing trend of right-wing Justices inserting themselves ever more aggressively into overtly political disputes in a way that seriously undermines their claims of apolitical objectivity. Antonin Scalia goes hunting with Dick Cheney, dubiously refuses to recuse himself from a lawsuit challenging the legality of Cheney’s actions, and then rules in Cheney’s favor. Scalia has an increasing tendency to make highly politicized comments about purely political conflicts, most recently defending torture in an interview with 60 Minutes. As part of Clarence Thomas’ promotional efforts to sell his book, he spent substantial time building his conservative icon status with the furthest right-wing media elements — even parading himself around on Rush Limbaugh’s radio program — and turned himself into the food fight of the week between Democrats and Republicans.
We need to trust our democracy. We need to believe that its representatives are guided if not by truth, then at least by what their constituents want. Our Framers gave us a Republic in which the government was to be “dependent,” as the Federalist Papers put it, “upon the People.” They were obsessed with assuring that the government be independent of anything else. But the vast majority of Americans do not believe that their government is “dependent upon the People.” The vast majority believes the government is dependent upon money. Most believe “money buys results in Congress.” Most therefore doubt the integrity of this the most important democratic institution established by our Framers. This is a corruption — a corruption of the very institution of our democracy. And this corruption makes it harder for both Reagan Republicans and Progressive Democrats to achieve the substantive ends that each seeks. For 20 out of the last 29 years, we’ve had conservative Republican Presidents. But Reagan Republicans have yet to see the size of government shrink, or the tax code simplified — because Congress has no interest in smaller government or simpler taxes, since both would make it harder to raise campaign funds. Likewise, despite the election of Barack Obama with a super-majority Democratic Congress, Progressive Democrats have watched with disgust as every substantive reform of this administration has been stymied by special interests expert in preserving the status quo.
…we’ve had some terrible Supreme Court interventions against political democracy: Shaw v. Reno, striking down majority African American and Hispanic congressional districts; Bush v. Gore, intervening to stop the counting of ballots in Florida. But I would have to say that all of them pale compared to what we just saw yesterday, where the Supreme Court has overturned decades of Supreme Court precedent to declare that private, for-profit corporations have First Amendment rights of political expression, meaning that they can spend up to the heavens in order to have their way in politics. And this will open floodgates of millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions of dollars in federal, state and local elections, as Halliburton and Enron and Blackwater and Bank of America and Goldman Sachs can take money directly out of corporate treasuries and put them into our politics. And I looked at just one corporation, Exxon Mobil, which is the biggest corporation in America. In 2008, they posted profits of $85 billion. And so, if they decided to spend, say, a modest ten percent of their profits in one year, $8.5 billion, that would be three times more than the Obama campaign, the McCain campaign and every candidate for House and Senate in the country spent in 2008. That’s one corporation. So think about the Fortune 500. They’re threatening a fundamental change in the character of American political democracy.
The main theoretical flaw in Kennedy’s opinion is different, however. The opinion announces and perpetuates a shallow, simplistic understanding of the First Amendment, one that actually undermines one of the most basic purposes of free speech, which is to protect democracy. The nerve of his argument—that corporations must be treated like real people under the First Amendment—is in my view preposterous. Corporations are legal fictions. They have no opinions of their own to contribute and no rights to participate with equal voice or vote in politics.
The flaw is obvious. That the ACLU and Exxon are legally labeled the same thing is not an immutable and natural feature of the legal system. It’s a choice, and like all choices, one that could be changed. “Corporation” is not some inherent label that has been handed down with the Commandments, and figuring out a way to separate those groups created specifically to put forward a political agenda and those pushing a political agenda to serve their larger money-earning purpose should be the goal, rather than simply handing General Electric the (financial) keys to the electoral process.
What happens when the state and the most powerful corporate interests forgo any illusion? I think we’re about to find out. The truth is that there is no necessary narrative outcome. People may get depressed, shrug in apathy, or start a revolution. One thing I will predict with confidence is that the shamelessness will endure. It is our response that is in question.
Last week’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission confirms that shamelessness is on the march. The decision was a shameless unleashing of further shamelessness: by a majority of five to four, the justices ruled that there can be no limits on the amount of money that corporations spend trying to influence the outcomes of local and national elections. The majority reached this decision by finding that corporate money is somehow a form of speech protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. I note for the record that no other country in the world treats it as such.
The Court was wrong in perpetuating the lie that corporations are individuals for the simple reason that corporations are incapable of feeling shame. There is an automaticness to what modern corporations do. If competitors are engaging in high-risk, (temporarily) high-reward activities, then they must do the same in order to remain competitive. That is the inexorable logic of capitalism, especially as practiced by corporations whose directors are unaccountable to the shareholder-owners.
Defenders of this vast expansion of corporate influence piously claim it’s about “free speech.” But since when is a corporation, a creation of laws passed by governments, entitled to the same rights as an individual citizen? This ruling will give large business entities far more power than any individual, unless you happen to be Michael Bloomberg or Bill Gates. The only proper response to this distortion of our political system by ideologically driven justices is a popular revolt. It would be a revolt of a sort deeply rooted in the American political tradition. The most vibrant reform alliances in our history have involved coalitions between populists (who stand up for the interests and values of average citizens) and progressives (who fight against corruption in government and for institutional changes to improve the workings of our democracy). It’s time for a new populist-progressive alliance.
Corporations have 35,000 lobbyists in Washington and thousands more in state capitals that dole out corporate money to shape and write legislation. They use their political action committees to solicit employees and shareholders for donations to fund pliable candidates. The financial sector, for example, spent more than $5 billion on political campaigns, influence peddling and lobbying during the past decade, which resulted in sweeping deregulation, the gouging of consumers, our global financial meltdown and the subsequent looting of the U.S. Treasury. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America spent $26 million last year and drug companies such as Pfizer, Amgen and Eli Lilly kicked in tens of millions more to buy off the two parties. These corporations have made sure our so-called health reform bill will force us to buy their predatory and defective products. The oil and gas industry, the coal industry, defense contractors and telecommunications companies have thwarted the drive for sustainable energy and orchestrated the steady erosion of civil liberties. Politicians do corporate bidding and stage hollow acts of political theater to keep the fiction of the democratic state alive. There is no national institution left that can accurately be described as democratic. Citizens, rather than participate in power, are allowed to have virtual opinions to preordained questions, a kind of participatory fascism as meaningless as voting on “American Idol.” Mass emotions are directed toward the raging culture wars. This allows us to take emotional stands on issues that are inconsequential to the power elite.
The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission greatly strengthens the authoritarian domination of the people’s speech, reversing the intent of the Framer’s free speech principle. By freeing unaccountable, global corporations to use their nearly unlimited resources to dominate the political sphere, the authoritarian Court has sacrificed free speech on the altar of greed. They would have us believe that it is the powerful and nearly irresistible voices of the rulers that need liberating.
Moloch is unchained.
In the Hebrew Bible, it is the idolatrous Solomon who builds an altar for the sacrifice of children to Moloch, “the abomination of the sons of Ammon” (1 Kings 11.7). In early 21st Century America, it is the five be-robed authoritarians, led by a dull, uncharismatic elitist with the unpoetic name of John Roberts.
The Iliad is a tragic and bloody tale of the failures of kings and elite warriors. The Old Testament is a colorful compendium of woeful human leadership. Buddha found enlightenment only after forsaking his royal family. Jesus’ radical parables pull the spiritual rug from under the powerful. The lone and rugged western hero of the American imagination loathes power.
The democratic revolutions of the 17th-20th centuries represented the political rise of the tale-tellers. Democracy was designed, in principle, to give the people a voice so that the tragedies of kings could be avoided, that Absalom might live, that there would be no Pilate in need of handwash.
But the American political elites flourish behind the walls of Jericho. We expect too much if we think any of them will, without a popular uprising on par with the abolitionists and civil rights movement, participate in the revolutionary music making that might bring down the walls. The Supreme Court’s ruling undermines both government and the competitive marketplace (by allowing corporations to buy government-enforced market dominance rather than compete for it). But they will not see that. They will see only the possibility of more wealth and power.
All this adds up to yet another example, as if one were needed, that conservative complaints about “judicial activism” are usually nothing more than a code for “judicial outcomes conservatives don’t like.” Citizens United strikes down a major federal statute by taking the extreme step of explicitly overturning the Court’s own precedents, while dismissing a century’s worth of congressional attempts to stop special interests from buying legislation. The argument that the relevant legal materials required the Court to take such a step is flatly incredible. In short, the decision is as pure an example of judicial activism as one could hope to find.
There is a push now for a constitutional amendment, which I would not favor. It may be time for a paradigm change in how we think about this problem. We have a political failure in our system that is sucking the life out of the Republic. The monopoly of the two parties on power produces endless loops of corruption and conflict. The problem in my view is structural not financial. We need to break the domination of incumbents and the two parties. This can be done with fundamental changes in our primary system, eliminating the electoral college, creating new opportunities for third parties, and other reforms.
No constitutional right is an absolute, and it’s one thing to defend a principle; it’s another to go rigidly fundamentalist about it. So again, no value, no matter how sacred, is absolute, and when it comes to “liberty” rights, they have to be held in a kind of tension with “equality” rights. It’s one thing to say that we’re all free to say our piece; it’s another to say that people with enormous resources should be allowed to buy a monster megaphone to say theirs, just because they have the money to do it. It basically reinforces the idea that some people are more free than others, and that should never be true in the political sphere, where, I would argue, equality should be the dominant principle. (Liberty, the way I think about it, is the dominant principle in the cultural sphere, not the political or economic spheres, but that’s another argument for another day.) If money equals speech, the power of the rich to buy a greater amount of speech creates a fundamental inequality problem, and it diminishes the free speech of citizens with modest means. There’s an injury there that ordinary citizens should be able to seek a remedy for, but after today’s ruling it would seem impossible to do so.
But those who argue that (1) corporations have no First Amendment rights and/or (2) restrictions on money cannot violate the free speech clause should stop pretending that the 4 dissenting Justices agreed with you. They didn’t. None of the 9 Justices made those arguments. To the contrary, the entire dissent — while arguing that corporations have fewer First Amendment protections than individuals — is grounded in the premise that corporations do have First Amendment free speech rights and that restrictions on the expenditure of money do burden those rights, but those free speech rights can be restricted when there’s a “compelling state interest.” In this case, the dissenters argued, such restrictions are justified by the “compelling state interest” the Government has in preventing the corrupting influence of corporate money. That’s why the extent of one’s belief in the First Amendment is outcome-determinative here. Those who want to restrict free speech always argue that there’s a compelling reason to do so (“we must ban the Communist Party because they pose a danger to the country”; “we must ban hate speech because it sparks violence and causes a climate of intimidation”; “we must ban radical Muslim websites because they provoke Terrorism”). One can have reasonable debates over the “compelling interest” question as a constitutional matter — and, as I said yesterday, I’m deeply ambivalent about the Citizens United case because that’s a hard question and I do think corporate influence is one of the greatest threats we face — but, ultimately, it’s because I don’t believe that restrictions on political speech and opinions (as opposed to other kinds of statements) can ever be justified that I agree with the majority’s ruling.
Ultimately, I think the free speech rights burdened by campaign finance laws are often significantly under-stated. I understand and sympathize with the argument that corporations are creatures of the state and should not enjoy the same rights as individuals. And one can’t help but note the vile irony that Muslim “War on Terror” detainees have been essentially declared by some courts not to be “persons” under the Constitution, whereas corporations are. But the speech restrictions struck down by Citizens United do not only apply to Exxon and Halliburton; they also apply to non-profit advocacy corporations, such as, say, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, as well as labor unions, which are genuinely burdened in their ability to express their views by these laws. I tend to take a more absolutist view of the First Amendment than many people, but laws which prohibit organized groups of people — which is what corporations are — from expressing political views goes right to the heart of free speech guarantees no matter how the First Amendment is understood. Does anyone doubt that the facts that gave rise to this case — namely, the government’s banning the release of a critical film about Hillary Clinton by Citizens United — is exactly what the First Amendment was designed to avoid? And does anyone doubt that the First Amendment bars the government from restricting the speech of organizations composed of like-minded citizens who band together in corporate form to work for a particular cause?
Luckily for corporations, the activist justices appointed by an earlier version of our corporatist government (the Bush 2 regime) have decided to reverse this process. Instead of acting as as stopgap to preserve constitutional rights, they are serving as a new legislative branch – rewriting the law by declaring it unconstitutional. It is a violation of corporations’ civil liberties to limit their influence over the political process. Even though they are artificial entities, with greater access to capital, infinite longevity, and no interest in or connection to humanity, we now guarantee them the right of free speech. Of course, the right of free speech was created in order for human beings to have the ability to talk back to the corporation – the British East India Trading Company – that was running the colonies before the Revolutionary War. And it was upheld a century later so that laborers could organize unions or speak out against industrial abuses without fear of getting killed. (Even though most unions, perhaps predictably, ended up becoming as abstracted as the corporations they were created to counteract.) Freedom of speech was intended a way for human beings to guarantee their ability speak out against largely systemic and structural repression. Now, that structural repression itself has that same guarantee.
…a much greater danger to the republic than the anointing of corporations as persons with the right to flood our airwaves with propaganda is any attack on Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality is the principle that my blog is inexpensive to publish and to access, so that I and my readers have the same advantages in this regard as a corporation would. If the Right Wing ever manages to scale the internet and make me pay $70,000 a year to put up this blog and have it easily available to my readers, it will kill it and would signal a return to push media like the networks. And a push-media world where corporations own the Web and can push at us what they please, including their weird ideas about political reality, really would be Orwellian and dangerous.
With a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century. Disingenuously waving the flag of the First Amendment, the court’s conservative majority has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding.… …This issue should never have been before the court. The justices overreached and seized on a case involving a narrower, technical question involving the broadcast of a movie that attacked Hillary Rodham Clinton during the 2008 campaign. The court elevated that case to a forum for striking down the entire ban on corporate spending and then rushed the process of hearing the case at breakneck speed. It gave lawyers a month to prepare briefs on an issue of enormous complexity, and it scheduled arguments during its vacation. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., no doubt aware of how sharply these actions clash with his confirmation-time vow to be judicially modest and simply “call balls and strikes,” wrote a separate opinion trying to excuse the shameless judicial overreaching. The majority is deeply wrong on the law. Most wrongheaded of all is its insistence that corporations are just like people and entitled to the same First Amendment rights. It is an odd claim since companies are creations of the state that exist to make money. They are given special privileges, including different tax rates, to do just that. It was a fundamental misreading of the Constitution to say that these artificial legal constructs have the same right to spend money on politics as ordinary Americans have to speak out in support of a candidate. The majority also makes the nonsensical claim that, unlike campaign contributions, which are still prohibited, independent expenditures by corporations “do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” If Wall Street bankers told members of Congress that they would spend millions of dollars to defeat anyone who opposed their bailout, and then did so, it would certainly look corrupt.
Corporations can’t have it both ways - insisting upon the political and civil rights guaranteed human rights under the Constitution, while at the same time refusing to live within the constraints of human life in terms of longevity, size, accountability and support of the communities which grant them their existence.
Conservative Supreme Court justices believe in following precedent and narrowly interpreting the Constitution, except when they don’t. Today’s decision on corporate campaign spending is such an example and it will have far-reaching consequences. The five-justice majority set aside a century of precedents and conveyed essentially full First Amendment speech rights on corporations in ruling that campaign finance limits are unconstitutional. It could unleash up to $1 trillion in corporate money for attack ads in the next election cycle. It also is the culmination of a century of creeping personhood conveyed on corporate entities, beginning with a case involving the Southern Pacific railroad.
This ruling is of the same judical activism ilk that produced Bush v. Gore, not to mention the ensuing eight years of a disastrous Bush/Cheney presidency from which the nation has yet to recover.… …This decision is long, at 183 pages. It includes a powerful dissent by the four centrist justices (there are no liberals on this Court). And the ruling is chocked full of nuanced information that spells out what Congress can and cannot do to reform our dysfunctional and money-hungry election system. This is not a ruling that lends itself to instant analysis.… …Aside from the fact the majority ruling reeks of conservative politics, what I find most striking about conservative judicial activism typified by this ruling is the fact the justices involved are totally out of touch with reality. None of the men involved in this historic decision have been elected to anything, ever. They have no idea how difficult it is for elected officials to deal in the contemporary money-flooded milieu of Washington. The work experience of those who have further opened the floodgates for money in politics all have worked only in the executive branch, high-priced law firms, or the chambers of the lower federal appellate courts. Not since Justice Hugo Black, a former U.S. Senator, retired in 1971 has the Court had a member of Congress on its bench, someone who can explain the real world to the other justices. These conservative justices live in a bubble, and they have little true understanding of what they have done, other than, of course, to know that they have taken care of conservatives, the so-called Citizens United, who filed this lawsuit. (Yes, David N. Bossie, the president of Citizens United, is the same fellow who worked overtime to impeach President Bill Clinton.)
Progressives may have thought the victory of Scott Brown in Massachusetts earlier this week was bad news, but today’s Supreme Court 5-4 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC may ultimately prove far more devastating.
That is because today, the Court’s conservative majority re-wrote the Constitution to give corporations—never mentioned in the Constitution—the same right to influence the electoral process as ‘We the People.’ As theNYT’s Adam Liptak explains, “Sweeping aside a century-old understanding and overruling two important precedents, a bitterly divided Supreme Court … ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.” The justices did what many progressives feared for months they would do: hold that long-standing restrictions on corporate campaign spending violate the First Amendment.
The Court’s ruling could transform our electoral politics. During 2008 alone, Exxon Mobil Corporation generated profits of $45 billion. With a diversion of even two percent of those profits to the political process, this one company could have outspent both presidential candidates and fundamentally changed the dynamic of the 2008 election.
Once again, the judicial right shows itself to be unrepentant activists, contemptuous of both precedent and the actions of our elected representatives. Anyway, the first thought that leapt to my mind was this quote from the 18th-Century British Jurist, Lord Chancellor Thurlow, who asked “[d]id you ever expect a corporation to have a conscience, when it has no soul to be damned and no body to be kicked.” Well, according to the Supreme Court, a corporation may have neither soul nor body, but evidently possesses a mouth that cannot be shut. This strikes me as a decision that is monumental in its implications and staggering in terms of its fundamental badness.
In a ruling that has overwhelming implications for how elections are funded, the Supreme Court has struck down a key campaign-finance restriction that prevents corporations and unions from pouring money into political ads. In a 5-4 ruling, in the Citizens United v. FEC case, the door is now wide open for unrestricted amounts of corporate money to flow into American politics. The Republican-appointed right-wing five members of the court explicitly said that corporations are “persons” under the law, and thus entitled to Constitutional rights just like the Founders fought and died to give to you and me. The four dissenters pointed out that corporations will now own politicians, will dominate our politics, and that democracy itself is now at risk. Bennito Mussolini invented a new form of government where corporations ran the government – he called it “fascism.” Welcome to Mussolini’s America.
Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission shreds the fabric of our already weakened democracy by allowing corporations to more completely dominate our corrupted electoral process. It is outrageous that corporations already attempt to influence or bribe our political candidates through their political action committees (PACs), which solicit employees and shareholders for donations. With this decision, corporations can now also draw on their corporate treasuries and pour vast amounts of corporate money, through independent expenditures, into the electoral swamp already flooded with corporate campaign PAC contribution dollars. This corporatist, anti-voter decision is so extreme that it should galvanize a grassroots effort to enact a Constitutional Amendment to once and for all end corporate personhood and curtail the corrosive impact of big money on politics. It is indeed time for a Constitutional amendment to prevent corporate campaign contributions from commercializing our elections and drowning out the civic and political voices and values of citizens and voters. It is way overdue to overthrow “King Corporation” and restore the sovereignty of “We the People”!
Today’s decision is backwards in many senses. It elevates the majority’s agenda over the litigants’ submissions, facial attacks over as-applied claims, broad constitutional theories over narrow statutory grounds, individual dissenting opinions over precedential holdings, assertion over tradition, absolutism over empiricism, rhetoric over reality.
But today’s Supreme Court ruling, declaring corporate cash is protected free speech, opens up the floodgates of corporate influence. And as horrifying as that prospect is, it does create new political possibilities.
Disgust with corporate influence is raging. The appearance of Wall Street influence in the Obama administration contributed to an unthinkable result in the Massachusetts senate race. And the White House dealings with the insurance and drug lobbies during the health care debate have been pilloried on the left and the right.
Now the conservative Supreme Court showed its hand, and shredded our campaign finance laws, leaving our democracy even more vulnerable to special interests.
What better time to raise the stakes.
Put a constitutional amendment on the floor of the House and Senate creating a public campaign finance system banning all private money.
Dare conservatives to side with more corporate influence in our campaigns and our policymaking.
In fact, the Supreme Court had to rule in favor of Citizens United, and what is remarkable is not that it did, but that four Justices dissented. Remember, the government’s position in the case was that under the Constitution, it had the power to ban the distribution of books through Kindle; to prohibit political movies from being distributed by video on demand technology; to prevent Simon & Schuster from publishing, or Barnes & Noble from selling, a 500-page book with even one sentence of candidate advocacy; or to prevent a union from hiring a writer to author a book about the benefits to working Americans of the Obama agenda. For all the outrage about this opinion, I have yet to hear anybody seriously defend that result. The fact that not one of the dissenters could find a middle ground on which to concur in the judgment suggests that the majority was correct – this case was all or nothing. Far from being activist, the majority reached the only logical conclusion. The dissenters were the activists here, prepared to enforce an interpretation of the First Amendment wholly foreign to most Americans.
Yes, BHO did inherit some huge problems (most of which he made worse). The economic recession had causes from both the recent as well as distant past. President Bush spent way too much money (not nearly as much as Obama is on track to spend)…
…what hurt the economy more were the Clinton-era liberal programs forcing mortgage lenders to lend to many thousands of seriously under-qualified folks, which led to the housing bubble growing and popping.
The one we need to go back to is President Reagan. Let’s cut spending*, cut taxes, protect human life from conception to natural death, and project American strength around the world. At least Bush did three out of the four. Right now we’re doing none of them.
As the post author notes in his footnotes, Reagan did not cut spending, despite wanting to. But that’s a major distortion of the record — many years, Reagan implored Congress for a bigger budget, not smaller.
On taxes, it is a popular misconception that Reagan lowered taxes. Yes, federal income taxes were lowered. But the tax burden for the average worker actually increased, as FICA (social security) taxes were raised significantly, and in four separate instances, in the years after the initial tax cuts, tax increases were imposed. Also, state taxes increased, as federal dollars going to state coffers diminished in the 1980s.
That leads us to the other vote of the day. The senate voted on so-called “pay-as-you-go” budget rules that require that tax cuts or spending increases be matched by spending cuts or tax increases. In other words, Congress has to pay for what it enacts. It was these rules, which prevailed during the ‘90’s, that were largely responsible for the record budget surpluses inherited by President Bush. And it was Bush and a Republican Congress allowing those rules to lapse in 2002 that cleared the way for the record budget deficits that followed. The measure passed the Senate today 60-40, on a straight party line vote. Again, not a single Republican voted for this fiscal discipline. Not one. Not Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins or Mr. Fiscal Responsibility, Judd Gregg or “Maverick” John McCain.
You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.
A simply baffling, incredulous charge, considering that as far as I know, the Arizona Republic has NEVER endorsed a Democrat for president. I can’t confirm every single election, but I did look up their endorsements for every election dating back to 1980 — and in each instance, the paper previously known as the Arizona Republican endorsed the Republican presidential candidate. In recent years, since the 2000 sale to the anti-union Gannett operation (also the publisher of USA Today), they have endorsed some local Democratic candidates (like Janet Napolitano and Harry Mitchell) but continue to support Senator Kyl and Senator McCain. Prior to 2000, the paper was owned by the arch-conservativePulliam (progeny including former vice-president Dan Quayle) family:
Yet another powerful force behind conservatism’s rise was Eugene C. Pulliam, publisher of the Arizona Republic and the Phoenix Gazette. Pulliam was a publisher in the tradition of front-page editorials, including a remarkable one in the mid-1960s discussing how bureaucracy was destroying representative government. He was hated and feared, but unquestionably influential. Again, however, he was deeply loyal to Arizona and Phoenix, supportive of civic projects, the CAP and every federal dollar that flowed into the state. In his prime, he was not frozen in time or resistent to facts. (When I was a columnist at the Republic after it had been bought by Gannett, old-timers would sometimes ask me, “What would old man Pulliam make of you?” My reply: “He’d be egging me on.” They didn’t disagree.)
Perhaps, to a hard core conservative, even the term “Republican” may denote left-leaning.
Well, it’s 2010 already and so I failed at a 2009 self-pledge to log a review of each book read. But I did at least log the titles, and so now, at the end of year, I give to you a way too long of a list to peruse.
Obviously, with this lengthy of a list, it would be a rather large book itself to evaluate each title in proper detail. So, a short blurb or summary must suffice. A few books I have already reviewed in a previous separate posting. Some others I just leak a choice quote from the author. Or link to a review on another fine internet site.
Coders at Work by Peter Seibel (5) — read this in one setting, fabulous interviews with some gifted programmers, Q&A on platforms, tools, development philosophy, etc.… …granted, may be of limited interest to developer types…
The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image by Leonard Shlain (5) — unable to this book justice in just a short blurb… …literacy/written culture == male, dominator societies vs. oral/image culture == feminine, humanity… …history is a story of right brained religious figures eclipsed by left brained literalists… …fascinating, but of course, entirely speculative… …and extremely relevant as our culture now sways back to oral culture (with the advent of photography, video, interactive web…)
The Divine Commodity: Discovering a Faith Beyond Consumer Christianity by Skye Jethani (5) — In less than a century, Christians have gone from opposing over-consumption at Christmas to demanding it be done in Christ’s name alone. The explanation may be in the numbers. Two thirds of the U.S. economy is based on consumer spending, and 50-75 percent of most retailers’ annual profits are generated during December. This makes the weeks before Christmas the high holy days of consumerism. If Christians engaged in the Advent season as they did in generations past, by modeling moderation and self-denial or by ignoring the holiday altogether, it would likely destroy the economy. To ensure economic survival, consumers are stirred into a buying frenzy every winter with the goal of making this year’s shopping season more prosperous than the last. Santa Claus has been the mascot of this manipulation since the early twentieth century, but if more Christians have their way the season of shopping will someday be inaugurated by the appearance of Jesus Christ at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism by Eric Burns (5) — what a treat! just about every chapter is a fascinating look at a story in the development of journalism in America, dating back to the first colonists… …from the early time when publishers made their own paper with linen rags and had to brew their own ink… …where “news” meant stuff that happened 6 months ago… …and if you thought today’s journalists are a biased, scurrilous bunch, they have nothing on the revolutionary era newspapers, that all functioned as party propaganda organs… …much like Fox News Channel today, all the publishers were beholden to a party (or prominent pol) and the idea of a neutral POV/non-biased objective mode of journalism was completely unheard of… … whigs v. tories, republicans v. federalists, etc.…
The Sacredness of Questioning Everything by David Dark (5) — Feeling offended is a reassuring sensation. It’s easier than asking ourselves if the redeeming love of God is evident in the way we communicate with people. It’s easier than considering our relationships with the huddled masses throughout the world who find themselves on the wrong end of our economic policies and other forms of warfare. Perhaps our cutthroat ways bear some relationship to our confused notions of God. Maybe we think God, as an intergalactic economist, is a survival-of-the-fittest type. … We might even think that being offended and angry and on the defensive is to be more firmly aligned with the Almighty.
Empire of Illusion by Chris Hedges (5) — you may have noticed that this web space here is chock-full of quotes from Chris Hedges, who accurately and eloquently captures the depravity in our current culture…
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Tim Keller (5) — more commonly known as “The Prodigal Son” parable in the Bible, but Keller wonderfully details how it’s remarkably a “Prodigal God”, with Jesus crosshairs pointed at the holier-than-thou elder brother…
A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World by Gregory Clark (5) — the “Wealth of Nations” for our time… …dry, with chart and table stat overload, but Clark sketches economic history and an assertion that the arc of technology for the entire human history sans the last 200 years was flat and Malthusian… …and ponders why forces unleashed in the Industrial Revolution shattered Malthus…
How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now by James Kugel (5) — mis-titled… …first, not really “how to read the bible” but more an examination of the Hebrew Bible (“old testament” for Christians) and the contrast between ancient interpreters and modern biblical scholarship — which rifts against fundamentalist (and many conservative evangelicals I think too) literalism… …each chapter, biblical hero, major prophet, “minor” prophet, etc.… reviewed along with what current scholarship on what is prevailing consensus (or debate) that often rankles not just the ancient interpretations, but religious devotees today… …the author, a former religion professor at Harvard, is a self proclaimed devout Jew and the material, which is blended together incredibly — juxtaposing the clash of scholarship against traditional biblical memes — written at a scholarly level but brilliantly accessibly comprehensible to all… also interspersed with non-canonical texts like rabbaic? commentaries, book of Jubilees, writings of Philo, etc.… along with biblical passages… some takeways: (a)…etiological viewpoint that ancient interpreters embraced which post-reformed theologians discount… (b) …archaeology finds that in some cases confirm biblical record but in others, cast doubt… (c) …gilgamesh epic correlations with noah’s ark… …isaiah v. deutero-isaiah, bible scholar reflections on david, E. v. P. v. D. v. J. (authors)… …monolatry v. monotheism… …greek translation v. hebrew…
Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans From the Civil War to World War II by Douglas Blackmon (5) — Or the futility of war — Lincoln + the Civil War are revered, but things really didn’t change much for black Americans. It was just the Age of Neoslavery, where peonage was in effect, where a black man (or child) could be sent away to involuntary servitude in brutal conditions for simply talking in the presence of a white woman or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A lucrative trade developed with prominent families, local & state law enforcement and major corporations profiting immensely from a captive labor force, terrorized into obedience. This continued all the way until WWII.
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud (5) — incredible… …anybody who works (or desires to) as a “designer” should absolutely read this… …gives a lexicon for words + pictures…
Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin (5) — another worthy take by Godin on business and marketing in the 21st century…
Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free by Charles Pierce (5) — another book read in a single sitting… …many LOL moments, but chuckles interspersed with grave lamentations over contemporary American culture…
Four Ways to Forgiveness (F) by Ursula K. Le Guin (5) — can’t believe I just discovered this wonderful science fiction author…
Flickering PIxels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith by Shane Hipps (5) — Shane Hipps channels marshall mcluhan and examines the intersection of technology and faith… …a nugget that I come away with is that the computer age is really just brought about a more vivid, deeper manifestation of image/moving picture culture that is replacing the written culture that’s been in effect since Gutenburg, universal literacy and ensuing enlightenment ushered in the written culture…
The Well-Grounded Rubyist by David Black (4.5) — most books on computer language instruction are poor-mediocre, but this one an amazing deconstruction, of value to programmers at all points in the arc of expertise…
The Myth of a Christian Religion: Losing Your Religion for the Beauty of a Revolution by Greg Boyd (4.5) — not as stellar as Boyd’s earlier The Myth of a Christian Nation, with some of the same themes repeated… …but still worthwhile…
Elsewhere U.S.A.: How We Got from the Company Man, Family Dinners, and the Affluent Society to the Home Office, Blackberry Moms and Eco by Dalton Conley
The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty by Peter Singer (4.5) — How to Save a Life
The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen (4.5) — to read Henri Nouwen is to pierce the heart with love…
The Forever War by Dexter Filkins (4.5) — somebody criticized this as just re-dump of newspaper dispatches, but I was riveted in reading through, as I don’t religiously read newspapers anymore and a good chunk of the “news” reporting here was fresh to me…
The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University by Kevin Roose (4.5) — liberal college student transfers to Falwell University (Liberty) and chronicles his adventures in fundie-land.… …Roose makes a lot of friends and discovers he has more in common with fundie-folk than anticipated…
Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take it Back by Douglas Rushkoff (4.5) —
Seeds of Hope by Robert Durback (4.5) — actually Durback is the editor of a collection of wonderful essays by Henri Nouwen
Doing Healing: How to Minister God’s Kingdom in the Power of the Spirit by Alexander Venter (4.5) — using this book as a church group study, remarkable gestation of healing and spirit, and tie-in to kingdom theology…
What the Bible Really Teaches: About Crucifixion, Resurrection, Salvation, the Second Coming, and Eternal Life by Keith Ward (4.5) — the author, a self proclaimed born again Christian, takes aim at fundamentalist/evangelical orthodoxies on biblical interpretation of Christian concepts of salvation, second coming, morality edicts, and inerrancy… …have read several times now, and it joggles my mind, still…
Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell (4.5) — What are we really buying when we insist on getting stuff as cheaply as possible? Shell’s answer: a low-quality food supply, a ruined economy, a polluted environment, low wages, a shoddy educational system, deserted town centers, ballooning personal debt, and the loss of craftsmanship.
jQuery Cookbook (4) — another computer language book that rose above the typical poor-mediocre standard for the genre…
From Eternity to Here: Rediscovering the Ageless Purpose of God by Frank Viola (4) — Viola emits awe-inspiring metaphors for the story of Christ
No Country for Old Men (F) by Cormac McCarthy (4) — even better than the award winning move, even if the movie followed the book plot…
The Road (F) by Cormac McCarthy (4) — gripping, have not seen the movie yet
The Age of Faith: A History of Medieval Civilization—Christian, Islamic and Judaic—From Constantine to Dante A.D. 325-1300 by Will Durant (4) — philosopher/historian Durant spent his entire life on multi-volume treatise on civilization… …each book is double brick wide, and while Durant espouses an eloquent style, can be overbearing… …have embarked upon a quest to read them all, about two-thirds of the way through…
The Prophet’s Way: A Guide to Living in the Now by Thom Hartmann (4) — Thom and his life walk with his mentor, Gottfried Muller…
Building a Bridge to the 18th Century: How the Past Can Improve our Future by Neil Postman (4) — one of the last works by media theorist and cultural critic Neil Postman… …cogent and prescient…
In the Jaws of the Dragon: America’s Fate in the Coming Era of Chinese Hegemony by Eamonn Fingleton (4) — What if the Japanese never really did “surrender” to us, inasmuch as we think they “adopted” our culture and values after World War II, but instead have been playing us for suckers, angry about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ever since? What if they’re collaborating with the Chinese in creating an Asian sphere of influence – decidedly un-democratic – to rule the world over the next century? What if the Chinese have perfected a neo-Confucian system (with surprising resemblance to Machiavelli’s “The Prince”) that melds an oppressive and fascistic state with laissez faire capitalism, creating greater strength for both than has ever been seen before on Earth? And they are using this to both co-op and change our values, to take over our corporate and economic system, and to ultimately gain control of our political system? What if they were already well over halfway to that goal?
Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click? by Susan Weinschenk (4) — interesting, but not really much about “web design” per se…
Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of Our Daily Choices by Julie Clawson (4) — would have liked more details on the gory, unjust nature of economics that remains out of sight for most Americans. Even discussing with fellow churchgoers sympathetic to argument, they are puzzled over this “alleged” existence (other than sensationalist sex trafficking that seems to have permeated the mainstream news-vine) and really want to hear real stories of exploitation to prove it’s not just liberal fear mongering.… …one criticism — Clawson seems to spend a lot of words massaging the reader, almost in apologetic “not to offend anyone” tone. …better to just lay it out, tell the truth, illustrate with real stories and let the reader make of it what they will.
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller (4) — The ambitions we have will become the stories we live. If you want to know what a person’s story is about, just ask them what they want. If we don’t want anything, we are living boring stories, and if we want a Roomba vacuum cleaner, we are living stupid stories. If it won’t work in a story, it won’t work in life.
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer (4) — Krakauer is an amazing writer, in every book I’ve read of his, able to weave actors and particulars of a narrative into the historical and present-day global state and stream in which conducted… …and this story of fundamentalist Mormonism gone tragically amok is no exception.
Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God by Henry Blackaby (4) — Baptists instruction on how to get in touch with the Holy Spirit…
Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What it’s Becoming, and Why It Matters by Scott Rosenberg (4) — What? The story of the blog in a hardcover book? Why yes, and it’s a comprehensive look at the history of blogging and Rosenberg gives short shrift to little on the topic…
Teaching of the Twelve: The Power and Relevance of the Ancient Didache by Tony Jones (4) — the Didache, an early Christian document dating to before the Gospels, was a short guide to Christian life… …Tony Jones republishes and adds commentary along with a look at a U.S. house church that’s living it out…
Abusing Scripture: The Consequences of Misreading the Bible by Manfred Brauch (4) — see Jesus Creed review
Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and Coming Dark Age by Maggie Jackson (4) — began reading with the ominous overtone of another cliche screed proclaiming the perils of our digital age… …but it turned out to a be a worthy work, asking good questions and putting together a top-notch study…
Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne (4) — good, but would have been better without the subtle and not so subtle anti-Christian preachiness…
The Book of Inkscape by Dmitry Kirsanov (4) — more like, the missing manual for Inkscape, a free/open source vector drawing program that runs on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux
The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century by George Friedman (4) — All societies are being torn between traditionalists and those who are attempting to redefine the family, women, and sexuality. This conflict is going to intensify in the twenty-first century, but the traditionalists are fighting a defensive and ultimately losing battle. The reason is that over the past hundred years the very fabric of human life — and particularly the life of women — has been transformed, and with it the structure of the family. What has already happened in Europe, the United States, and Japan is spreading to the rest of the world. These issues will rip many societies apart, but in the end, the transformation of the family can’t be stopped.
Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang (4) — shatters the orthodoxies of neoclassical Friedman-esque economics, and lucidly demonstrates the folly of so called “free trade” policy…
The Fourth Turning by William Strauss (4) — on my writing agenda to log a lengthy piece on this book written back in the 1990s… …basically, a treatise on generational theory, how approximately every 20 years, a new “constellation” of generations results in stage of civilization… …from Awakening (1964-1984) to Unraveling (1985-2001) to Crisis (1929-1945, 2001-2020?) to High (1945-1964, ?)… …the entire cycle is repeated every 80 years or so… …the generations themselves are classified as Prophet (baby boomers), Nomad (i.e., lost generation, generation X), Hero (i.e., greatest/G.I. generation, millenials) or Artist (silent generation, generation Z)… …authors Strauss and Howe remarkably prescient in predicting the crisis and trauma in new century, and actually accurately sketched out a 9/11 scenario years before 2001…
Using Google App Engine by Charles Severance (4) — an beginner’s introduction to web applications, Python language and the Google App Engine
Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism by Sheldon Wolin (3.5) — a rant on corporatism and democracy…
Heaven is Real: Lessons on Earthly Joy — What Happened After 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper (3.5) — Man in terrible automobile accident is pronounced dead, but comes back to life and shares his story and premature heavenly encounter…
Ruby Best Practices by Gregory Brown (3.5) — should have been titled More Tales of Opinionated Ruby Software Development… …some good morsels, but not sure it fits a “best practices” constitution…
A Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster (3.5) — not much pragmatism, more like ponderation on games…
Heroes of History: A Brief History of Civilization From Ancient Times to the Dawn of the Modern Age by Will Durant (3.5) — a one, slim book summation of Durant’s epic multi-volume series on world civilization…
A Short HIstory of the United States by Robert Remini (3.5) — squeezed into just under 400 pages. OK.
Designing Web Interfaces: Principles and Patterns for Rich Interactions by Bill Scott (3.5) — in color!
Programming Ruby 1.9: The Pragmatic Programmers’ Guide by Dave Thomas (3.5) — the canonical Ruby language guide and reference, updated for a new version
jQuery UI 1.7: The User Interface Library for jQuery by Dan Wellman (3.5) — decent, but these types of works are dated and irrelevant within a year of publishing…
Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson (3.5) — Free is missing the free. Moreover, while there is an audio version available for free on iTunes, the ebook was only free for a short duration. Anderson belittles his own argument…
Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur by Pamela Slim (3.5) — Valley native Pamela Slim with a self starter entrepreneurial guide… …decent, but it is an offering competing with a crowded space.
Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter by Thomas Cahill (3.5) — All societies have a dream and a nightmare. And our nightmare has been, I think, our racism. We practically committed genocide on the people who were here, the Native Americans. We enslaved another race of people, the Africans. And then we dropped the atom bomb on Asians. We would have never dropped that bomb in Europe in my view. And I think that’s what proves the racism of it. That’s the nightmare of America. The dream is just the opposite. The dream is that there is no country on earth that has tried to actually embrace all the people that we have tried to embrace. All you have to do is walk through New York City to see that — or any of our cities and not a few of our countrysides at this point.
ActionScript 3.0 for Adobe Flash CS4 Professional Classroom in a Book (3.5) — not bad for a training manual
Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design by Jenifer Tidwell (3) — OK
The Reason for God by Tim Keller (3) — while I relished the other Keller books I read this year, this one was flat…
Everything Bad is Good for You by Steven Johnson (3) — pop contrarian fare, arguments against traditionalist moralizing over the ills of technology… …credible, but really just a decent essay padded with filler to make a book…
Threshold: The Crisis of Western Culture by Thom Hartmann (3) — disappointing, as much as I wanted to embrace, as much of Hartmann’s political outlook is similar to mine…
Bailout Nation: How Greed and Easy Money Corrupted Wall Street and Shook the World Economy by Barry Ritholtz (3) — it can be really hard to convert a blog to a book… …sometimes it works, sometimes it don’t…
A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story by Diana Butler Bass (3) — patterned after Howard Zinn’s epic work, had high hopes for this, but it was missing good chunks of the people’s history and the author seemed to engage in excessive dumbing down…
Ten Stupid Things that Keep Churches From Growing: How Leaders Can Overcome Costly Mistakes by Geoff Surratt (3) — bleh…
Version Control with Git: Powerful Tools and Techniques for Collaborative Software Development by Jon Loeliger (3) — maybe it’s just an issue with me and version control software, but the book was befuddling…
Promised Land: Thirteen Books that Changed America by Jay Parini — what a wonderful premise for a book, however the execution was a bit flawed… …Parini tried to classify and categorize each of the selected books in similar means, and I don’t think that was very effective… …but it did propel me to think more on the matter…
Rich Like Them: My Door-to-Door Search for the Secrets of Wealth in America’s Richest Neighborhoods by Ryan D’Agostino (2.5) — author goes door to door in rich neighborhoods, asking rich people how they got rich… …just like the title says…
No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process by Colin Beavan (2.5) — it was very difficult to get past the annoying tone of the author…
What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis (2.5) — meh…
Inventing American History by William Hogeland (2.5) — more like three essays (one on Alexander Hamilton, one on Pete Seeger and one on the U.S. Constitution Center) on how Americans genuflect history to the point of distortion…
It’s Not What You Think: What Americans Really Want and Why You Need to Know by Frank Luntz (2.5) — puzzling, that Luntz, a gifted rhetorician, meanders aimlessly about in this one…
The Evolution of God by Robert Wright (2.5) — much ballyhooed, but I found Wright’s treatment of the subject matter to be rather shallow…
Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World by Don Tapscott (2.5) — an important and relevant topic, but the Tapscott egregiously juxtaposes personal anecdotes with hard statistical data…
Beautiful Architecture: Leading Thinkers Reveal the HIdden Beauty in Software Design (2.5) — disappointing…
Not Keeping Up With Our Parents: The Decline of the Professional Middle Class by Nan Mooney (2.5) — a college degree used to be a ticket for financial success… …not anymore…
Finding Organic Church: A Comprehensive Guide to Starting and Sustaining Authentic Christian Communities by Frank Viola (2) — a tiresome screed on “house church”… …loved some of Viola’s other books, but the practice of jamming parenthesized bible pointers to the extent they crowd out the text, the repetitiveness of points made, etc.… grew too exhausting for me in this one…
Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything by Daniel Goleman (2) — it’s hard to take works like these seriously, when so many people’s basic needs for food and shelter go unmet…
The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics and the Modern West by Mark Lilla (2) — it was a struggle to get through this, did not arrive at the same takeaway here…
Send: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better by David Shipley (2) — don’t understand why something like this is made into a book…
Located right down the street from my home address is a fabulous coffee shop. There you may enjoy an excellent espresso. Or even, on some mornings, partake in tasty composition from an omelette/waffle bar. Or maybe a Mexican coke (with real sugar!) or a cold frothy alcoholic beverage.
A few months back a Next Coffee barista provided me with a rewards card, a mini-card keyring attachment so I could accrue points in their loyalty program for all the dollars plunked down on refreshing beverages. Soon after, I even blew a big chunk on breakfasts and drinks for an entire family gathering there at the local coffee shop, kicking off my reward point store with a big initial boost.
Some purchases later (or maybe a month or so), after ringing up a sale, a barista informs me that I need to “register” my card online. But she couldn’t tell me what the web address was, though I figured it wouldn’t be a herculean task to discover it.
OK, finding the web site was as simple as entering “next coffee” into my browser search bar. But the exercise of attempting to “register” was unsuccessful and greeted in turn with…
Broken registration link / server error page presented
Indeterminate browser hanging
In a subsequent try on a different day, finally landed on a “profile” form — filled it out, but received no confirmation after submitting
Attempted these steps in other browsers, and the same result was delivered
Perceived the issue to be related to work, but was met with same outcome at home
Twittered about my Next Coffee rewards card online registration failure and a nameless @nextcoffee “representative” responded, offering to personally assist next time I came into the shop — to which I replied, that’s great, but asked who shall I ask for at the counter and will I know who is this mysterious, faceless helper?
Finally, one night at home, several weeks later, trying one final time to register, it appeared to work — and for the next few visits, the Next Coffee barista accepting my order did not need to instruct me to register my rewards card after swiping it in their POS machine.
Until about a month ago, when after a card swipe, was informed that I needed to register my card online. Aargh!
Upon last visit, again, the same message was delivered and the barista alerted me that I was not accruing any points for the purchases.
That brings us to today. Where I once again embark upon a quest to register my Next Coffee rewards card. As it’s still secured on my key ring and I’ve become cognizant that I’m avoiding the coffee shop on my street as subconsciously, I flee from the potential hassle of another incessant “you need to register your rewards card online” dialog episode. But, I settle on giving another go before I rip this card off my key ring, and while not overtly launching into boycott mode, would be generally disinclined from future Next Coffee Co. visits.
In my preferred browser, Google Chromium, the Activate your Next Coffee Co. Rewards Card link ends up with a one line page reading “This frame is blocked because it contains some insecure content.”. Loading the page in Safari gives me a better clue.
I go ahead and opt to engage in the risky business of connecting to a site with an invalid certificate. Well, maybe not that dangerous, as I’m not about to key in a credit card number.
Instead I am prompted to enter my rewards card number, a tiny 14 digit (at least to my fortysomething eyes) number located on the back of the card. And I am required to enter this number twice. #epicfail again.
A crude profile form is then displayed. I fill it out and press submit.
Not sure what this summary is reflecting, but I fairly certain it does mean there’s a whole lot of coffee purchases I made that are not reflected in this report.
Next Coffee Co. has a snazzy Web 2.0+, professional looking, polished web presence. And active on all the social networking locales du jour (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, etc.…). But the loyalty program online setup is worse than even any of the 1990s Perl CGI style web “applications” I ever encountered.
The supermarket “loyalty” cards do not require me to enter and re-enter a 14 digit number to “register” my card. Nor does Costco or any other retailer I’ve purchased from. Except maybe the Glendale Library, but that is to establish a gateway to procure resources from another providing party (i.e., O’Reilly Safari Bookshelves or Arizona Republic archives).
Invalid certificate? That screams “amateur hour”. Might be OK for hobbyists and tinkerers, but not credible commercial entities.
/sigh, this might be the most inanely trivial piece I’ve ever posted…
It took a few weeks to ship and arrived last Friday.
So I thought I’d chronicle my experience with the new machine thus far, as well as some tidbits on transferring my applications and data from my old MacBook Pro.
First, the 27 inch 2560x1440 resolution monitor is absolutely gorgeous. Upon initial gaze, it appeared too enormous, but I quickly got accustomed and now delight in its glow. Though, pure white backgrounds are a bit blinding. And I had to bump up the font size in some applications.
As large as the screen is, the keyboard that ships with the machine is netbook sized, a sawed-in-half version of the thin touchpad I was expecting. Been giving it a whirl, though I’m fumbling about with it. Unlike the MacBook Pro keyboard, my fingers never seem to be anchored properly. Plus, needing to tap the fn key for paging functions is a major annoyance. One finger please! Though if I can get the touch typist positioning squared away, typing on it will be a charm. And wireless is nice.
Perhaps my perspective on the tiny keyboard is warped as my existing desktop keyboard is an old school heavy duty Mac keyboard that I purchased from a clearance bin back in 2003 when I became a Mac switcher. I love that keyboard and the tension free behavior of the keys (unlike cheap Windows machines, where you have to press a little harder) that harkens me back to those fabulous old IBM keyboards. Big fat esc and control keys (and a control key on both sides of the keyboard) along with a number pad (that does get used).
The space savings not so great an incentive as in my home office as I have a pullout keyboard drawer with ample room for a full sized keyboard and mouse.
Which brings me to words that I never believed I’d ever utter about an Apple made mouse — the new Apple Magic Mouse is incredible. Finally, after 25 years of first pioneering and then engaging in just about every foolhardy gimmick imaginable, Apple has delivered a wonderful mouse.
Before I unpacked the machine, several people alerted me that I would not like the mouse and that it again, was a major fail point for Apple. A few days before delivery, I visited an Apple Store (to replace another pair of headphones my cats destroyed) and tinkered a bit with one of the display machines. I noted that to make a truly pleasurable mouse experience, the System Preferences Mouse settings needed some toggling. To enable right clicking and to ensure scroll with momentum is set. Then you can scroll like you do on your iPhone, with a web browser or any other application. Flick up and down for rapid scrolling.
Typically, new machine migration is a painless endeavor, but this time I encountered a few hiccups in getting setup with all my old applications and data on the new machine.
The firewire data transfer took a lot longer compared to previous transfers. It took nearly 2 hours to move 100G from the MacBook Pro to the new iMac. And it didn’t the aid the cause when I first mistakenly plugged the firewire cable into an ethernet port on back of the iMac.
Time Machine could not access the backup USB hard drive that hangs off of the Airport Extreme wireless router. At first, figured this was a complication due to the new machine being a Snow Leopard v. Leopard (had not upgraded to Snow Leopard on the old machine) OS matter, but manually connecting via Finder and adding the authorization to the keychain appeared to have resolved the issue. But before solving, Google searches were popping up weird sorts of solutions, like the act of using a non Time Capsule Time Machine setup was an unofficially supported construction.
X11 applications (i.e., Gimp, Inkscape) no longer worked. Easily fixed by reinstalling “Snow Leopard friendly” versions.
When I clicked on “Print”, I did not give you permission to launch my printer. It’s a forgivable mistake, but when I click on “Print”, I don’t mean “Please help me print this website out”, I mean “Please take me to a version of this article that is on a single page rather than many short pages, and that isn’t covered in ads and widgets.” I know how to print out a goddamn website. If it’s a well-coded website it even has a print stylesheet that does the job of turning off all the annoyances automatically. But I’d really prefer if that stuff were turned off to begin with.
Major annoyance. Tapping Cmd-P is heck of a lot easier than clicking on your “Print” link that I falsely believed would give me the full article minus all the ad and widget garbage.
The saga of Pat Tillman may be familiar to most all — star safety for the Arizona Cardinals forsakes a NFL career measured in millions to walk on to the global war on terror, joining the elite fighting Army Rangers. His younger brother Kevin joined Pat too, in what they believed was their duty as Americans, in the wake of 9/11 attacks on America. In the spring of 2004, Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan by “friendly fire”, but the Army and Bush administration conducted a coverup until grudgingly admitting that he was “probably” killed by friendly fire. But not before using him as a poster boy for the war on terror and compelling his soldier brothers from dissembling and deceiving to keep his family from the truth. All along, Pat’s mom railed at the presiding government for answers. Not certain of the final tally of investigations — I believe there’s been 3 or 4 at least, and the first one where the the possibility of criminal charges were proffered was discarded by higher-ups.
But Krakauer’s chronicle isn’t about the government coverup. Nor is it a trove of conspiracy theories speculating about a fellow soldier fragging or counter-espionage termination. It’s about the confluence of fortuitousness that led Pat Tillman to Arizona State, the NFL, and then to his tragic end in Afghanistan. With weaving of historical background on the conflict in Afghanistan, going back to pre-Osama bin Laden days.
Again, for anyone keeping abreast of this affair, no new ground is traversed. (Though I write with hesitation, as I’m not so sure cable TV news viewers are informed enough. I watch little TV, and the occasions I do, I am shocked at the difference in news coverage online vs. Fox News Channel or CNN). I believe all of the sensationalist details were previously extracted…
…Pat Tillman was an admirer of Noam Chomsky, and arranged via an old study buddy from ASU (Reka Cseresnyes) to arrange a meeting, via Cseresnyes husband was pursuing a graduate degree at MIT.
…Pat Tillman was an atheist and “unequivocally declared that he did not want either a chaplain or a civilian minister to officiate at any memorial services” in case of his death. And explicitly wrote in “I do not want the military to have any direct involvement with my funeral”.
…his last words were reportedly “What are you shooting at?! I’m Pat Tillman! I’m Pat fucking TILLMAN!”
…after his death, his uniform was burned, his notebook he specifically asked not to be discarded, and an ammo can containing his brain.
Some things I learned in reading:
Pat Tillman did some jail time prior to his freshman year at Arizona State. In an violent altercation outside a pizza joint where ran outside to aid his friend who provoked a fight, Pat viciously assaulted one who was fleeing, who had not participated in the melee, and beat him to a pulp, knocking teeth in and striking and kicking so hard to deliver a concussion to the poor lad. A judge lessened the charge to a misdemeanor, which cleared the way for Tillman to come to ASU without fretting over a scholarship retraction for a felony committed. The victim and family were outraged, believing Tillman was granted special treatment due to his athletic standing. Pat served 30 days and had to do 250 hours of community service. According to Krakauer, this was a cornerstone event in Tillman’s development — where he resolved, not all at once, to pursue a purer path.
It appears that fatal firefight was Tillman’s first exposure to live combat.
Not much is mentioned about Pat’s dad in this title.
The Jessica Lynch debacle was also fraught with friendly fire and Army/government coverup and dissembling.
Pat Tillman was an amazing man, one who swung against the tide. Honor. Duty. Courage. Loyalty. An undersized guy that worked like the dickens to attain the pinnacle of professional athleticism. Unlike his ~1500 NFL colleagues, he felt the duty to honor his country by serving and sacrificing, even for a campaign (Iraq) he did not feel was justified. He refused to skip out early from his commitment, after the NFL, Arizona Cardinals and Army agreed to allow him a special exit dispensation. Even before, as a Cardinal, he turned down millions of dollars to jump ship to the St. Louis Rams (er, I almost typed “Cardinals” again ;)) to play for not much above the league minimum. Incredulous, his agent was at Pat for spurning the free agent offer, but Pat was loyal to the Cardinals, citing how they took a flier on him, believed in him and gave him his big shot.
Perhaps I’ve just been exposed to a filtered, rose-covered viewing of Tillman’s life. With his foibles, flaws and transgressions minimized or omitted. Good writers, like Krakauer, excel in narrating as such.
Even accepting that, I’d still state that the world is a lesser place without Pat Tillman. And that it would be a heck of a better world with more Pat Tillmans.
As I’ve been perusing online since the time when the Mosaic browser ruled the web, I continue to be astonished at the recycling of this meme about the tragedy of noble newspaper guardians going extinct at the expense of gluttonous online readers taking for free what print subscribers previously paid fees to receive. Inevitably, the discussion meanders into solution space speculation — typically, after first lambasting newspaper publishing lords for their shortsightedness in adopting an online business mode. From there, subscription pay walls, various micropayment schemes, or clearinghouse outlets like how radio music is licensed to play are proffered forth.
Belied in this assessment however is a false notion that readers were ever (at least in the modern era) the main subsidization of a news organization’s operation. Subscriptions for printed news output delivery were a pittance compared to advertising revenue. But that ad money was tied to mass eyeball share for monolithic news sources. You got world events, local happenings, stock quotes, sports scores, lifestyle features, movie listings, comics, classifieds, horoscopes from that wadded bundle of newsprint left on the doorstep (or plucked from newsstand). Television displayed breaking news video, but if you wanted the deeper story, you read the newspaper or a weekly newsmagazine.
Circa 2009, you get your news from either television or the internet. Or some combination of both. But online, you would point your browser at nfl.com for NFL scores, frequent Google Finance (or Yahoo Finance or whatever your desired flavor) for stock data, tap up movie times on your iPhone NowPlaying app, and shop for a used MacBook Pro on craigslist. Yeah, you might skim local doings posted on your town newspaper’s online presence, but it’s possible you could collect the same sort of information from blogs or twitter friends. Bottom line, your news seeking exercise is blanketed over a dissemination of sources. Meaning that’s a smaller mass of web visitors for the online newspaper site proprietor. Meaning a significantly smaller ad rate with no earthly way to profit from those old school print readers.
With diminished ad fare, readers would have to carry more of the fare in what was already a minority portion. Consequently, to capture web patrons paying for content, subscription rates would have to be set at prohibitive marks. At a level that most readers would be unable or unwilling to pay.
By no means are subscription models an impossible option for all online publishers. Markets exist where there are customers eager to pay premium fees for specialized information. Odds are, however, the price will be considerably greater than the cost of a daily newspaper. And there are some successful models in existence today, churning out profit, and serving their readership, some still funded by advertising, others by a loyal subscriber base.
Though I’m fairly certain that Gore, if queried about his misspoken cite and presented with the prevailing scientific pronouncement, would renounce the erroneous claim. Or at the very minimum, cease from repeating the error in future public speaking events.
We live in a remarkable age. A time when so many are blessed by the aid and comfort of technology, yet so anti-rational in clinging to beliefs that should only be prevalent in pre-enlightenment epochs.
Another PodCampAZ, the “Relevant Media Unconference”, is in the books. The 2009 edition did not seem as lively to me, especially on day 2 when the session load seemed to be rather light. Maybe it’s due to the present economic climate, or perhaps because of a major auto race and Arizona Cardinals game were also scheduled on the same day. Or diminished presence of "webceleb" personalities from last year’s edition.
Still, a great punch of knowlege and I was delighted to be able to attend the two day conference this last weekend (November 14-15, 2009).
In the roundup below, going to just link to twitter accounts — you can navigate to home pages and other voliminous online spheres from that launching point…
Eric Myers (Everything Wordpress) — I entered this session, presented by “wonderkid” high school freshman Eric, after reading the recommendation for existing WordPress users, but bolted out when it began with “how to install WordPress”.
Jeff Moriaty (Improvisational Media) — how the art of improv comedy can help you graft a more effective social media presence.
Paul Valach (Facebook for Adults) — my friend Paul also conducted some WordPress 101 sessions.
Israel Hyman (A Business Model That Has Worked for Me Three Times: How to be a Fulltime Podcaster) — basically the recipe is as follows: scan online/traditional educational offerings for cost in a subject matter you have expertise in, develop quality content, build up an audience of 1000+ subscribers, convert to a premium model, continue trickling a few “free” offerings while incrementally increasing six month subscription fee to your archives, and sit back, profit, and eventually quit your daytime job.
Douglas E. Welch (My Podcasting Workflow: Audio and Video, A Real World Example) — a complete walkthrough of the podcasting process, from recording and editing to hosting.
Dan Feierabend (The Audacity of Podcasting: Using Free Tools to Produce Your Podcast) - using Audacity and other F/OSS tools to podcast.
Brent Spore (The Social Universe) — a spirited discussion that pitted older folks expressing confusion about social media definitions, groups, and jargon v. younger whippersnappers adamant in vociferous proclamations that you should “just do it”, plugin and discover for yourself.
Kevin Kittredge (Podcasting 101: The Technical Side) — content is king, but quality is queen. Hobbyist podcasting on a budget.
Time Barrow (The Online Video Conversation: Yeah, you can use it for that) — fascinating session on the emergence of online video tools like Viddler, Phreadz, Seesmic, TokBox, etc.… as two-way conversation tools, instead of traditional text based dialog. What is easier to compose? A 30 second video or an email?
Evo Terra (5 Reasons Your Podcast Technically Sucks) — Evo is a gifted, knowledgable, opinionated and passionate speaker on podcasting. And he gave a good session on dos and don’ts of how to encode, tag, mix, and name your podcasts.
On all the podcasting talks, a common thread was the use of one piece of free software — The Levelator. While many podcasters use Audacity (as do I) to record and/or edit, others prefer Adobe Audition or the Mac built-in Garage Band. But all strongly instructed the audience to use The Levelator.
Other speakers of interest…
Jay Baer (Instigating a Thriving Blog Community From Scratch)
Yes, I’ve omitted a whole bunch of other conference presenters. To see tidbits on them, go grok PodCampAZ.org. Or follow @podcampaz or #podcampaz for more reports, photos, video, etc.….
Prizes were given away — I so coveted one of the snowball mics, but did score a baseball cap, as well as some GoDaddy giveaways — a beanie cap and car sun shield. Also, don’t know who provided the free cupcakes, but they were delicious.
Already looking forward to PodCampAZ 2010 and would like to be more involved — including an offer to present a session on Tumblr if TPTB are willing.
Blog about politics, computers, technology, radio, Arizona, science, justice, war, world affairs, globalization, economics, sports, history, and whatever else catches the fancy of me or other contributors.
I am Naum, amateur writer and rabble rouser, professional programmer and website developer. I have a bachelors degree in Computer Science, and minor in mathematics, and that renders me totally unqualified to lecture on any subject other than programming computing machines or the wonderous sport of hockey.
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