Saturday, December 31, 2011

Some Thoughts on 2011

I.  This year ending today has been an important one for me.

•  In terms of my art, I've completed three fairly substantial new works:  Aleutian Sketches for Brass and Piano; The Wild Coast, for Orchestra; and Five Alaska Trees, for a capella Chorus.  I produced and directed a well-played concert for the Anchorage Civic Orchestra, devoted to popular Russian works from the 19th and 20th century.

•  In terms of work, this past year, particularly during the fall term at the University of Alaska Anchorage, was intensely busy, very difficult, yet enormously rewarding regarding how I was able to educate young people.

•  In terms of our outdoor life, summer and winter:
We traveled Outside three times:  for our dear friend James Acord's memorial service, for my mom's 93rd birthday, and to visit family over the holidays.

Judy and I went halibut fishing together for the first time in over 25 years.

Our gardens were incredibly productive, even spectacular in some ways.
•  In terms of blogging, this has been a mixed year:

I wrote a large number of diaries for Firedoglake, and hosted four book salons there:
Jerusalem, Jerusalem: How the Ancient City Ignited Our Modern World, with author James Carroll, On April 17th

The Lies of Sarah Palin: The Untold Story Behind Her Relentless Quest for Power, with author Geoffrey Dunn, on May 7th

A New Voice for Israel: Fighting for the Survival of the Jewish Nation, with author Jeremy Ben-Ami, on July 31st

The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, with author Joe McGinniss, on September 25th
At Progressive Alaska, it has been a strange year:
My increasing disenchantment with Democratic Party politicians, beginning at the top, has led to a lot of strange - sometimes hateful - comments and e-mails. 

My willingness to convey or write about the messages of Andree McLeod and Geoffrey Dunn on aspects of how people deal with Sarah Palin debris has not made me any friends, perhaps a new enemy or two.  
So be it.

The truth is far more important than indulging in the fantasies of people who are more involved in spreading gossip, creating  a new Troopergate coverup, or reminding me of people I once knew who became Moonies, or followed Jim Jones to Guyana.

Progressive Alaska led the way in Alaska reporting on:
Aspects of the hounding of Federal scientists by the Obama administration

Aspects of the Fukushima radiation

On Carl Gatto's strange HB 88 (his anti-Sharia Law legislation)

The Norway shootings, which are almost directly linked to some of Carl Gatto's out-of-state supporters' backers

The rapidly escalating turn to the crazy religious right of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel, their relationship to crazy fundamentalist American Christianists, and the growing worldwide movement to acknowledge and grant Palestinians their rights

The Obama administration and the Keystone XL Pipeline
PA also covered - along with other Alaska blogs, most notably, The Mudflats, Southcentral Alaska coal issues.

In my view, PA failed to adequately cover:
Fisheries issues, particularly those having to do with the overwhelming political power of the trawlers

Mat-Su Valley political events, issues and candidates

The erosion of education funding

Miscellaneous environmental issues
There is only so much time.....

II.  Thoughts on some of the most important issues of 2011:

1.  The end of the Iraq Wars:  For the United States, these began when we encouraged Saddam Hussein to go to war with the Iranians in the 1980s.  Our direct involvement began after we encouraged Saddam to settle his disputes with Kuwait as Iraq saw fit.  From that time in July 1990 until this last month, we waged war against a country we should have stayed out of.  We bear the primary responsibility for the destruction of much of its civilian infrastructure, the eradication of its Christian community, an inflamed Sunni-Shia relationship, and the virtual end of what had been the most highly educated female population in the Mideast outside of Israel, from meaningful careers in most circumstances.

2.  The Arab Spring Revolts:  Iraq eventually would have had its own Arab Spring, had we not gone in there and established our own, new authoritarian regime.  Obama propped up Egypt's Mubarak way too long, then tried to substitute the butcher Omar Suleiman in his place.  We're shipping railroad cars full of tear gas, rubber bullets and real bullets to the Egyptian military as I write.  Combined with our irrational support of Israel's increasingly racist regime and throttling of any Palestinian initiative, no matter how rational, any emerging democracies in the Middle East have little reason to trust our wisdom, let alone our actual policies.

3.  The Tucson and Norway shootings:  Both shooters were unstable men, acting out rage based upon fantasies they fed themselves, or were shoved into their unbalanced minds from external sources that breed hatred.  Gabriel Giffords' remarkable courage through recovery here is matched in my mind by the equally remarkable sanity Norwegians have shown toward dealing with terror in their own midst.

4.  Occupy Wall Street:  It will be back in the Spring, more vocal than ever.  Maybe even coherently organized?

It is a young movement, with important issues to address - they are coalescing over the Winter.  Unlike the several Tea Party movements, OWS, by being very appealing to young people, will have a vitality that - if used well - will turn it into one of America's most important civil disobedience chapters.

5.  The Importance of Ron Paul:  So many people are saying or writing "Too bad the important parts of Paul's message [end the imperial wars, cut defense spending, demand accountability from the finance sector of our economy, end the racist war on drugs, etc.] are accompanied with all his unpleasant baggage [dismantle Rowe v. Wade, his alleged homophobia, his racist statements or actions in the past, etc.]."

If other candidates were offering more than bullshit platitudes aimed at primary state voters, the parts of Paul's message that progressives might relate to might not stand out so prominently.  But as he is the only candidate to stand with the majority of Americans who want out of these wars (and no war with Iran), want banksters brought to heel and have come to distrust the effects of the war on drugs,  he may have more of a voice in the 2012 campaign than most yet believe.

in today's mail - Obama begging for money from Judy - and lying about "the deadline"
6.  Where's Obama's support going to come from in 2012?  Not from me, at least not like Judy and I fervently supported him in 2008.  He can go beg for money from Goldman-Sachs, the energy companies, the insurance companies, the health industry and defense contractors.  Oh, wait - he already is.

Give me one good reason to donate to him, rather than to another Democratic Party candidate who needs support, and will seek to change things?
in today's mail - Obama's 'bots lying about his link to Occupy Wall Street.  What crap!

7.  Fukushima radiation:  It is appalling that the meltdown of three nuclear reactors and the effects of their spreading pollution has not garnered more attention than it has.


Aussie Blue Sky said...

How many of the very people who worked - with a light in their eyes and a fire in their bellies - to get Barack Obama elected are the same people he allows to be brutalized in his own streets?

How many of those million people at Grant Park on election night were beaten bloody by order of Rahm Emmanuel?

I'm not one of those who had an agenda in 2008 and I accept the difficulties that result in appalling legislation, but recently there has been a time to show leadership - and Obama did not.

As long as the peoples' blood is allowed to run in the streets courtesy of formal and private militias, I'm giving no money, no shoe leather, and no trust. I did not sign up for a Police State.

Looks like it's just you and me here, Phil. Happy New Year to ya.

Philip Munger said...

Happy New Year, Aussie Blue Sky!

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year Phil and family. Thanks for always sharing some of the "hard truths" with those who take time to read your blog. The moment that anyone becomes complacent in his thinking or begins to "worship" any leader, that is the moment where critical thinking is replaced by religion.

The world is an imperfect place with lots of room for improvement; it will always be such a place, and hopefully as we evolve as humans we will create a better environment that better serves us and our descendants. Right now there are too many of us on this planet and it is only getting more crowded. In the next few hundred years we will have no choice but to change our ways, stop overharvesting fish and other wildlife, stop polluting the environment and stop overpopulation.

I'm sometimes sad that I won't be here to see whether mankind can sustain a way of life that works in harmony with our home planet's ecosystems, or if we mess up so badly that the few of us left are wandering about in a wasteland that cannot support a future for our human species. I often wonder how it will all work out.

The big, longterm picture makes arguments over government and those who run it seem obsolete, but unfortunately we elect these people to guide humankind into a future that is both sustainable and livable. Many are not up to the task. Humans will most likely not have the length of time that the dinosaurs enjoyed as "kings of Earth"; I give humans less than a million years, rather than a few hundred million, to dominate this planet. We've done to much damage in too short a time to remain the dominant species. We will mess up so badly that Earth goes back to the "lesser species" and perhaps one of these will evolve into a kinder, gentler "big brained" species. We have another 5 billion years before the sun begins to overwhelm our region of space; a lot can happen in that time :-)

Take care and keep up the good work!


AKjah said...

Mr Phil All the best wishes for you an Judy in these coming times.
With occupy Alaska growing i find it hard to focus on the national level as there is soooo much going on here. We will though slowly work towards a delegation from AK to the GA in Philadelphia in July.
My hope is the youth of AK take up the mantle of Occupy And occupy everywhere. I cannot fathom fixating on any one or two issues--takem all on. Peace B+K.

Steve said...

Happy New Year Judy and Phil.

I'm guessing the new year deadline was related to the FEC calendar year limits for national party committees, state, district and local party committees, and 'any other political committee." Candidates and candidate committees have per election limits (but each primary and the fed election are separate). While the Obama committee would appear to be a candidate committee, I'm guessing it was set up to qualify as "any other political committee."