Saturday, December 26, 2009

Saturday Alaska Progressive Blog Roundup - Part II - Ten Lessons I May Have Learned in 2009

I. In Alaska, 2008 saw the indictment (and erroneous conviction) of Sen. Ted Stevens, the election of Sen. Mark Begich to replace him, the nomination of then-Gov. Sarah Palin to the VP slot on a doomed GOP ticket and a huge influx of money into the State of Alaska coffers, which Palin then squandered in a giveaway designed to boost her popularity at a key moment.

2009 saw Palin's total eclipse as governor, as she lost her grip on her job, a widening crisis over dwindling subsistence resources and jobs in the Bush, disorientation in much of the state's traditional media, especially the print dailies, and much lowered state revenues that have yet to make their full mark.

I'll be writing more about 2009 in Alaska this coming week.

Over the 11-month period between August 29th 2008 and July 23rd 2009, the Alaska progressive blogging community earned its chops. We were very fledgeling at the beginning of that time, very proud and pumped at its end. We actually helped bring national attention to several important issues regarding Alaska. Hopefully, the information we shared on this state's problems will help lead to some solutions, and soon.

In a sense, we were able to take advantage of the national spotlight thrust upon Alaska by Palin's own position in the limelight. From the beginning, some of us realized that the combination of getting the truth out about Palin and defending Alaska's and Alaskans' uniqueness might be tricky:

Reporters from around the country are interviewing Rick Steiner, the UAA professor whose battle against the Palin administration last year over state correspondence on the status of Polar bears, the Anchorage Daily News consigned to the Alaska Ear column. A reporter is flying here from the UK to - among other things - interview John Stein, the Wasilla Mayor who built the city government structure Palin got credit for. A blogger named Jane Hamsher is getting into more details about Palin's past vindictiveness than our local reporters have yet scratched since the Monegan fiasco began. Sam Stein, a Huffington Post columnist, was able to determine from a few hours of basic research, that the McCain team had not investigated Palin's Wasilla administration's history in the Frontiersman. I was thinking of checking on that Tuesday, but Stein had it figured out by Friday!

I could go on and on with examples like this. The important point on the above instances is that these reporters and writers are doing a good job, by and large. I've had to answer many questions about Alaska and Palin based on misunderstanding, ignorance or prejudice toward the governor or the state, but the best of these people try to get it, and want to understand us.

Alaska progressive bloggers, especially in dealing with comments to our national-level essays, or in observing the media and blogs throw out one inaccuracy after another about our state, and about Sarah Palin or the Palin family, have to stand up against false information and false impressions.

By and large, most progressive Alaskan bloggers have fulfilled these responsibilities. Three have been credited for that nationally. Shannyn Moore won the prestigious (among serious progressives) 2009 Steve Gilliard Award, for her work, in a contest with very serious national competition. AK Muckraker won the 2009 Cook Inletkeeper Alaska Muckraker of the Year Award for her efforts on Palin's record on the environment, and on other environmental issues. Progressive Alaska won a 2008 New Scientist Award for citizen activism, and Eric Boehlert honored me by featuring me as the central character in the first part of Chapter 13 of his book on the 2008 presidential election, Bloggers on the Bus.

My only big fuckup over those 11 months was by too quickly reading through one of scores of emails I got on the morning of July 3rd 2009, believing from my scan that Palin might actually be under indictment by the Feds. I printed it as presumed fact in an update to a post at a national blog. Shannyn took a lot of heat for my mistake.

I've made a lot of smaller screwups, but I try to learn from each one.

Some of us were naive enough - I'm a chief fool in this - to think that Palin would go away after the abdication. She hasn't. At least, not yet.

II. There's a lot more going on in Alaska than the baffling continuity of interest in Sarah Palin. This is Progressive Alaska's 2001st post. Almost 400 have been about Sarah Palin. There are 350 to the Saradise Lost set. Good grief!

But that leaves about 1,600 posts here that weren't about the Crazy Woman. What have I learned, trying to come up with all this material? Here are ten lessons learned in diminishing importance:

Lesson One: The planet's climate crisis is far worse than most people realize. The information is out there. It sometimes gets the credence it deserves, but the combination of all our ongoing activities that sustain us keep us from being able to deal with it rationally. If we don't change that soon, human civilization as we know it is doomed.

Lesson Two: Huge international corporations have a death grip on our political and economic structures that are the main feature in the lack of awareness about not only climate change ramifications, but many other important issues. That death grip not only hurts us, it will soon make the ways those corporations sustain themselves unsustainable.

Lesson Three: The majority of people who show up to vote regularly really believe they are voting not only in their own interest but in yours too, just not as much as theirs. But the people who control our national politics, the GOP and ConservaDems don't want to encourage more people to vote. They actually want less people to vote, so that they can keep a better handle on how it comes off for their paymasters.

Lesson Four: After the huge corporations, fundamentalist religions, be they Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Communist, Buddhist or whatever, are the greatest danger to us all. I group them all together, because none of them believe in the goodness of the advancement of science, literacy, shared wealth and - perhaps most importantly - the status of women in society. All the above religions have many good beliefs and doctrines, but fundamentalists, by only looking backward for examples, doom us as surely as Lot's wife doomed herself.

Lesson Five: Our two-party system may be at the breaking point. This may be a good thing. Those of us who so hoped that President Obama might be a genuine reformer are perplexed. So far, almost 80% of the Federal funds actually spent on new programs administered by his administration have gone to entities that have been basic to the problems we are now enduring, with little long-range thinking going into how to get beyond the "too big to fail" death spiral that keeps rewarding those too big. New strange alliances will surely happen in 2010.

Lesson Six: Bloggers and blogging will continue to grow in influence worldwide, unless the corporatists find a way to shut us down. I've been communicating on-line since 1984. Over those 25 years, I've watched this set of tools grow in importance. Even though the corporatists, fundamentalists and just-plain-fucking-idiots know how to use these tools too, the tool itself lends itself to progressives better than to most other interest groups.

Lesson Seven: Alaskan bloggers need to fight to get more communication tools and organizational structures that enable plain people and communities, without controlling them, out to the Bush. Ethan Berkowitz and several others are fighting to expand access by the most isolated communities here to broadband communication and to the hardware needed to accomplish that. Sadly, it is probably easier to bring high-speed internet to many villages than to get them good water quality. This is a complex set of problems, but our role in helping break on through the other side might help bring understanding to rural problems and reduce the outright and institutionial racism against Alaska Natives that endures so fully here.

Lesson Eight: Our Alaska progressive blogging community needs to get serious on several levels if we're going to push beyond our fleeting fame from helping let the world know just how ridiculous Sarah Palin actually is. I mean, let's get honest - that was easy from day one.

We might take Steve Aufrecht's cue and form an association. We might go in some other direction. But we need to find not just magnifying glasses, but multipliers for the best we can do.

Lesson Nine: Progressive Alaska, as I originally envisioned it, has failed. My fault. I have a fairly large-sized ego. But I have a lot to add to the discussion, so the blog has worked, just differently from the community-based vision I had hoped for, but wasn't set up personality-wise to create.

Lesson Ten: The two years I've taken off from seriously writing music may have been worth it. Not just for what little I've been able to add to the political discussions here and nationwide, but for what I may have been able to bring back to my music, now that I'm seriously composing again for the first time since 2007. More on that soon.

image - Phil Munger and Talis Colberg at the 2009 Colony Days Parade

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Phil-Your honesty, integrity, and passionate approach to communicating the problems we face as Alaskans and more importantly humans is a gift. I appreciate the broad range of your insight and expression. Thank you for taking the time to do what you do on this blog and I hope your community based vision for this forum comes into greater fruition.

Anonymous said...

Phil, you're so right about religion. I feel sure I speak for most PA readers when I say how disgusted I am at the sheer racism and islamophobia on display against that poor Nigerian man attacked on Northwest 253. Instead of helping a muslim man who had the misfortune to have his trousers catch fire, the bigoted passengers and crew on the flight actually attacked him. This is the result of the right-wing hysteria whipped up against muslims by Bush & co. I guess now the Glenn Becks and Limbaughs of this world will call this accident "terrorism" and all the right-wing hate blogs will spew out their usual islamophobic alarms. When will we learn we have nothing to fear from islam ? Perhaps we can all take time to remember those many families through-out the USA who have lost friends and family to Christian and Zionist terrorism.

Anonymous said...

Phil, thank you for a wonderful recap.

The comment above mine though, is unfortunate. Part of the deal I guess.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness we no longer have the kind of president that would go to the gym or play golf minutes after the attempted terrorist murder of 300 passengers on an American plane. Oh, wait .....

Bill of Wasilla said...

I'm glad to read that you are seriously composing again. My ears wait to hear!

Ah - the search to balance out one's opposing goals - I know it well.

Anonymous said...

Lesson One: " If we don't change that soon, human civilization as we know it is doomed."

Strange, you seem to hate a lot of humanity.... business people, conservatives, the religious, whites, women who don't agree with you.....so why wouldn't you want this civilization to end ?

Lesson Two: "Huge international corporations have a death grip on our political and economic structures ".....

Yeah, of course, but the Big Government you yearn for has given us communism, fascism, wars, famine,genocide. Your 9th grade level of political thinking is naive to say the least.


Lesson Three: " But the people who control our national politics, the GOP and ConservaDems don't want to encourage more people to vote."

Oh dear, paranoia runs deep. This quote sounds like the kind of thing a High School leftist would say. In the real world the Left (via ACORN)try to game the system to give the dead votes and allow illegal immigrants access to the ballot.

Lesson Four: "After the huge corporations, fundamentalist religions, be they Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Communist, Buddhist or whatever, are the greatest danger to us all. I group them all together,"

You group them all together because your multi-cultural mindset and weak-kneed moral equivalence will not let you condemn the one religion that truly treats women as second class citizens. Rather than face that uncomfortable truth, you lump everything together. Pure cowardice and an insult to all those Christian societies where women have made their greatest advances.

Lesson Five: " Those of us who so hoped that President Obama might be a genuine reformer are perplexed."

Only those downing progressive Kool Aid are perplexed by Obama. Those of us not wearing blinkers could see that this egotistical careerist was only in politics to advance himself. Perhaps if the Left had a real God to believe in they wouldn't swoon over hack politicians.

Lesson Six: "Bloggers and blogging will continue to grow in influence worldwide, unless the corporatists find a way to shut us down.... Even though the corporatists, fundamentalists and just-plain-fucking-idiots know how to use these tools too"..

Strangely enough, across most of the globe, the main threat to bloggers comes from Government...like the Iranians Mr. Obama is so fond of...but once again your knee-jerk leftist worldview doesn't allow you to see reality. As for your elitist whine that people you despise get to use the internet too..well, that's the breaks. Luckily, you and other "progressives" don't get to chose who can use the tools. And guess what, the Tea Party activists have caught up with the Marxists when it comes to using the net..the Left no longer controls the media.

Lesson Seven: "Alaskan bloggers need to fight to get more communication tools and organizational structures that enable plain people and communities, without controlling them, out to the Bush."

"Progressives" and "without controlling" is kind of an oxymoron. You people live to tell others what to think, to say, to vote, to consume.

Lesson Eight: " I mean, let's get honest - that was easy from day one."

And yet you keep bellyaching about her so it obviously wasn't that easy. And despite your best "efforts" and that of Obama's lapdogs in the MSM, her popularity continues to grow.

Lesson Nine: "Progressive Alaska, as I originally envisioned it, has failed."

As has the whole Leftist agenda for America . 2009 will be seen as the high water mark for statist leftism.

Lesson Ten: "The two years I've taken off from seriously writing music may have been worth it."

One would seriously hope so.Happy New Year.

Anonymous said...

Iranian protesters are dying in the street and the Boy Wonder plays golf...

AKPetMom said...

My sincerest hope is that science will finally trump god and prove that, as many of us already know, our existence is based on principles of physics and chemistry, mixed in with lengths of time that the human mind cannot comprehend.

Only then will all of humanity be playing on the same level field and perhaps be able to find a common ground based upon our temporal physical impermanence.

Until then, we can all argue about our positions and beliefs: left/right, blue/red, god/buddha/jesus and all of the other manmade divisions that prevent us from enjoying the happy accident of our being the only known sentient beings in our "known" universe.

AKPetMom said...

And Phil, I did want to say that I enjoyed the fact that you admitted to having a "large-sized ego", because that is important in the sense that you are self aware, but that ego also propels you to take time with your blog and make certain that you are not posting nonsense and assists you in seeing this crazy world for what it is and not simply regurgitating talking points from other sources. Your large sized ego keeps you grounded intellectually.

You are gifted in that you have ego but also possess and explore the creative part of your being that assists you in your musical ventures and your appreciation of other's talents.

Never apologize for who you are because you are a rare bird not only here in Alaska, but as a human being in general.

Anonymous said...

"not simply regurgitating talking points from other sources."

You're joking, right ??

alaskapi said...

Phil-
Always enjoy PA, even when I don't agree with you...
And these 10 lessons... what do you mean you MAY-have learned?
And some of these Anonys of a type be damned- I appreciate your adherence to the code of adding new information as it becomes available/apparent instead of hanging onto a stance when the ground has shifted...
Big ego or no, that alone takes courage .

Anonymous said...

You've got a great blog and have performed an extremely valuable service to Alaska and the nation as a whole. You should be proud of the work you've accomplished! Many thanks!

Anonymous said...

"Big ego or no, that alone takes courage ."

Yeah, real courage...akin to pulling a child from a burning building or tackling a bank robber. My five year old kid must have "real courage" too ...he's constantly changing his mind about stuff...a real little hero. Good to see the Left setting the bar so low for "courage".

clark said...

i'm not so sure i would even be inclined to tackle a bank robber, these days. maybe if i ever get my 401k money back...

Polarbear said...

In my view, no serious political or economic conversation in Alaska can be held without your participation. Thank you for your hard work and courage. Best wishes for your music and the peace it brings.

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