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