Monday, March 16, 2009

Will The Rocky Rise Again?

Staffers from the now defunct Rocky Mountain News have found supporters to launch an Internet-based news source, to be called INDenverTimes. They are attempting to sell subscriptions for $4.99/month, and if successful in reaching their target subscriber base, they plan to launch the site in May.

In some ways, this seems like a good idea. The availability of Internet delivered news has helped lead to the demise of many newspapers. Others, such as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, are going to an Internet-only publication model.

Still, there are problems with this idea. How will this attempt to resurrect the Rocky compete with free news available from a variety of sites? Also part of the appeal of the RMN was its tabloid format. It was handy to read on a plane, a light rail train, or anywhere space is limited. There is also some appeal to a physical stack of newsprint, where one can do the crossword puzzles with a pencil, and yes, even read the paper in the bathroom.

Perhaps the new site will become available for the Amazon Kindle or the Apple iPhone. This would help with the portability factor, although it will not replace the impulse buy at a newspaper box or newsstand. Maybe the different economics of a virtual publication will allow this to work with smaller subscriber & advertiser bases than that needed to support a daily print publication.

I wish these fine journalists well in their endeavor to see a new continuation of the 150-year-old Rocky Mountain News rise from the ashes of its predecessor, but I remain skeptical about its chances of success. Still, maybe they should have named the endeavor The Rocky Mountain Phoenix.

Hard to Believe This Man was Vice President

Former U.S. Vice President, Dick Cheney, has built a reputation among his detractors as being somewhat akin to the evil emperor in the Star Wars movies. The more we learn about his views on liberty and the Constitution that he swore to uphold, the more the image fits.

Recently, we have learned the contents of memos from Justice Department attorneys that the former Vice President has a very strange understanding of the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. In fact, Cheney's views are one of an autocratic dictator, rather than someone who is entrusted by the people to protect our liberty. As bad as George W. Bush was as President, I suppose we can be thankful that Cheney himself was not our President during the last eight years. His inluence as VP was bad enough.

According to an analysis by CNN commentator Paul Begala, the memos reveal a Dick Cheney who supported the following positions:
  • First Amendment rights to free speech and a free press are secondary to waging war.
  • The Fourth Amendment right to not be the subject to unreasonable searches and seizures is nonexistent.
  • The federal government can send the military to your home, without a warrant.
  • The federal government has the right to arrest an American citizen on American soil, and hold him or her without charges.
  • The federal government can eavesdrop on your telephone conversations without obtaining a court order.
  • The Geneva Conventions can be ignored by the United States.
So, in other words, the government...our government...can claim dictatorial powers at any time, the Constitution be damned.

Begala goes on to point out that in an interview with CNN's John King, Cheney is concerned about the current economic problems (which he helped to create) being used to justify an expansion of government powers. What kind of government expansion worries a man who believes the Bill of Rights is so much toilet paper to wipe his twisted behind with? Well, it turns out that the man who believes in torture, warrantless wiretaps, illegal search and seizure, and holding Americans without charges; is very concerned that the government may be used to provide better healthcare plans and education for its citizens. He is concerned that the federal power may be used to give companies incentives to wean America off of foreign sourcs of energy. Yes, our former Veep thinks it is fine to use the government as an instrument of oppression, but not as a channel to improve the lives of Americans.

Folks, in my opinion, Cheney doesn't deserve a lifetime pension at our expense; rather he should be tried, and if found guilty, imprisoned for life as a traitor to the nation and the Constitution he took an oath to defend from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. With such views of federal power, we are very lucky that the evil that was the last administration did not suspend elections to keep itself in power. Oppression such as advocated by Cheney is what this nation of free men and women have fought against, many making the ultimate sacrifice. We may never know how close we came to a totalitarian regime. If my exercising my First Amendment right to freedom of speech here offends Mr. Cheney, that's just tough!