Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturday Alaska Progressive Blog Roundup - September 12, 2009 - Watching Blogging Communities Evolve

Blogging, in general, is a wide-open field. Political blogging per se, began around 2001.

I had already been commenting at moderated newsgroups on the usenet, since 1984. I began commenting at political blogs, or emailing blog creators in 2003. By the time political blogging began in Alaska, around 2004, with Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis, the original KUDO radio blog, and others, the global political blog world included about twice as many of those critters as there are people in Alaska. By 2007, technorati was tracking over 112 million blogs worldwide. There may now be almost 160 million blogs - one for every man, woman and child in the USA around the early 1950s.

Alaska's progressive blogging community grew rapidly between 2005 - the time of rising despair over the gubernatorial policies of Frank Murkowski - and August 29th, 2008, the day then-Gov. Sarah Palin was announced as Sen. John McCain's running mate. I joined fairly recently, in September, 2007, to cover the trial of long-time aquaintance, adversary and friend, State Rep. Vic Kohring.

From August 29th 2008, through the end of the McCain-Palin campaign, not only did the traffic at Alaska's progressive blogs grow explosively, an entirely new genre developed: blogs devoted to various aspects of Palin's political and administrative shortcomings, to speculation about aspects of her personal life, or to the ramifications of how Palin combined her personal life & beliefs with politics, mostly through her Dominionist religious beliefs and actions.

Between when Palin's national aspirations began, and her resignation as Alaska Governor, all the Alaska progressive blogs were united in our universal disregard for her qualifications for higher office. Although some of us - including Progressive Alaska - had been fairly charitable toward Gov. Palin before the McCain campaign, her marked personality and policy changes during and after the 2008 national election ended that goodwill.

Since the resignation, our unity has been far less obvious. Premiere anti-Palin blogger, Andrew Halcro, who never claimed to be progressive, has once again stopped blogging, this time to run against Rep. Don Young in the 2010 GOP AK-AL primary.

Some of the Alaska progressive bloggers still write about the ex-governor. A lot. Progressive Alaska doesn't. This column contains far more references to Palin than any other written here since July. When I announced the end of the Saradise Lost series, several blogspot "followers" immediately cancelled. The traffic here has since settled down to about half of what it was at the time of Palin's resignation.

The progressive Alaskan bloggers who were so united on Palin's formidable shortcomings during the battles against her job conduct do have a lot in common, though. We've always been committed to a range of issues upon which we generally agree:

1) Alaska politics is encumbered with a tradition of corruption that needs to be confronted.

2) Civil rights issues, from Alaska Native rights to LBGTQ rights need our voices, to be fully covered.

3) Transparency in local, state and Federal government practices needs major improvement and constant, sometimes strident coverage and direct action.

4) Environmental and resource use/development challenges need our voices. We advocate sustainability far more clearly than do most traditional outlets in Alaska.

5) Support for legislators, candidates and platforms that seem to advance the above points.

6) Rural issues and their importance are too often subordinated to urban demands of major media outlets, and we - the growing community of Alaska progressive bloggers - support the development and coordination of rural voices who are independent of the dominant "voice" paradigms in the bush.

That fifth element above will be difficult for Alaska's progressive bloggers to unite around over the course of the coming legislative session and 2010 political campaigns. As one example, all four of the Democratic Party gubernatorial candidates will advance each of the first four points to one degree or another, yet some of us already are supporting one or another of them.

As another example, the upcoming legislative session already has pre-filed bills (Bob Lynn's, for instance) that seek to extend the power of our executive branch in dealing with ethical challenges.
Progressive Alaska believes our Democratic Party legislators need to be far more assertive in promoting legislation that, instead, attenuates the growing secrecy powers of all branches, especially the executive.

The battle between development and environmental forces has long split Democratic Party activists in Alaska from their colleagues on the left from the Green Party of Alaska, for instance. That split has far been less pronounced in our evolving blogging community.

The next stage in our evolution as a positive tool for change in Alaska will probably center around the upcoming legislative session, though. That session, the battle for sustainable policies regarding the resources needed by our rural, largely Alaska Native communities, and continuing urban battles over civil rights issues such as LBGT equality, will be the ground upon which we may or may not prove ourselves to be the worthy successors of our rapidly declining traditional Alaska media.


Anonymous said...

The president announced that women's health care, in the reforms he envisions, will be guided by religious dictates. Not one influential voice raised. Earlier this year, when a signature would have stopped the injustice of losses under DADT, Obama chose rhetoric over action - and followed that by protecting DOMA.

There is an early constitutional amendment that protects contracts across state lines. But the legal signature on a marriage contract is federally negated if the signators are the same gender. Obama, in a grand statement, promised that "at the end of the day" the GLBT community would be pleased with him. It remains night.

There is no longer any legal liability imposesd on our legislators. They can run down women in the street, commit perjury, use public funds on their mistresses, openly solicit bribes, drive drunk, break the rules of their own congressional assembly - and no civil authority will be allowed to intervene. They are untouchable, and now even the appearance of bending to law has been set aside.

In this oligarchy (at least Beck is good for something) you believe that transparency can be achieved, that corruption can be reduced. My congratulations; you have a great deal of faith in human nature. For myself, I believe the personal rewards of institutional misuse of power have been so lavish in this generation that any hope our nation will drag itself back from the brink is a forlorn hope.

I do like your vision far better than my own.

alaskapi said...

just a compliment...
Very good overview of our Alaskan progressive blogging community and issues.
Very good outline of where we have been and what faces us ahead...
Thanks !
Lots of work to do...

Anonymous said...

Perhaps using the phrase "positive tool for change " was an unfortunate one. The idea that this blog or any of the other misogynist rabble that spewed out anti-Palin bile for the last year were in any way, shape or form "progressive" is, of course, a sick joke. The way the Left and their media arm ripped into Palin and her family was probably the least progressive thing in American politics since the 1960s. If the present political discourse is now deemed "uncivil", there can be no doubt where such nastiness was spawned. Watching the bloodthirsty way this site and other "progressives" led the hysterical attempts to destroy Sarah Palin, makes all your fine words about "civil rights" and "safeguarding the environment" just empty platitudes. I would now no more trust your stories on "civil rights" or the environment than I would a Klansman or an Exxon spokesman.

Anonymous said...

To Anon at 10:22
Calm down, Meghan.

Philip Munger said...

anon @ 10:33,


Anonymous said...

"Lots of work to do..."

Yep, all that remains now is to find another conservative woman and her family that you can rip to shreds...then maybe your failing readership figures would stop free-falling.

alaskapi said...

oh anony@10:51...
As I am part of a blog which has specifically NOT dealt with SP ,I find you using MY words foolish.

Borrow from Phil, if you like- he has a good sense of humor and broad shoulders to take the bile you are yarfing up- if you are going to play the twist-the-wordie thing.
There are, and have been, many more issues than whatzername on the horizon for progressive Alaskan bloggers right along...
The falling off of readers scanning for all things SP is NOT a bad thing...
Cleaner horizon for other work...

Anonymous said...

When are you going to write about the corruption with the Personnel Board?

Amy Jones said...

I agree somewhat with this - "The way the Left and their media arm ripped into Palin and her family was probably the least progressive thing in American politics since the 1960s." Though I have no reference to the 1950's and I wouldn't define all those who 'tore' into her as the 'Left and their media arm'. I keep wondering where these great arm of the media is that always favors the Left. The only ones I have seen are the weekly rags out of some of the more liberal cities, hardly major players in the media world and certainly they do not rival the firmly conservative FoxNews, but I digress.

This statement, however ... "If the present political discourse is now deemed "uncivil", there can be no doubt where such nastiness was spawned." I think disregards many other troubling developments in political discourse that have been visible for some time. Swiftboating comes to mind.

I am becoming more and more convinced that the people who rag and rant - no matter what 'side' they are on, are creating a dangerous environment for the rest of us. It was entirely too tempting to slide from policies into personal issues with Sarah Palin and it became a wrestling match with someone who is falling off the cliff. You may still be challenging them all the way down, but in the meantime, being right doesn't save us from the consequences of a bad landing. Meanwhile, the truly important issues and causes that needed support suffer from inadequate analysis and coverage.

And in defense of those who sometimes wrote about her family, please consider - though Palin continuously objected loudly to the media coverage of her husband and children, she continuously dangled them out their as tempting media bait, bait that should have been refused.

Her continual reference to how the Obama girls aren't in the media, and her insistence that the media 'leaves them alone' but picks on her, because they are 'obeying' Obama was one of her most heinous misrepresentations of the truth. During the campaign, Obama specifically called on the media to leave Palin's family alone and was clear that if any of his staff were involved in feeding any of the rumors, they would be fired. Somehow I don't think the media 'obeyed' him on this point.

Polarbear said...

A good list and a great last paragraph. Here is one more item for your consideration. To be Progressive is simply to get things done. We ought to be standing in praise of those who find ways to get things done.

clark said...

strange how conservative critics tend to say that progressive bloggers brought down sarah, while at the same time giving them zero credibility for truthfulness and accuracy.
if you want someone to blame, try charlie gibson and katie couric. the american public quickly figured out palin was a lightweight with no business being in the running for president.
she was her own worst enemy.

Philip Munger said...


and still is.