Category Archives: Blogging Community

More than 8 years of blogging and my environmentalist roots

When I first started blogging, technically when I first started it was an email list that became an email newsletter, then a blog, I started because of two specific actions that were occurring in tes country, the widespread rollback of environmental protections, and the unilateral decisions being made in Washington by one party and one president whose first term would be up in about a year.

George W. Bush was president, he had just started what seemed like an unwise second war in the oil rich Middle East, environmental actions removing restrictions were regularly happening with the sign of his pen, and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Area Refuge (ANWAR) was continually popping up in emails from conservation groups.

So much of what we were doing seemed to be revolving around energy, oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.  The price of gas was approaching $2 a gallon, and instead of doing what previous generations did by investing in Universities and solving problems, many in the country seemed content to delay the problem for further generations by drilling now and using up the dwindling resources rather than daring to consider how to fix the problem.

Never mind that just two decades earlier foreign countries in the Middle East exercised the leverage they had on our economy by restricting oil sales.  An OPEC decision could literally thrust us into the beginning of a deep depression immediately.  Yet we continued to ignore and delay logical changes in how we live, and float in the breeze of an unstable Middle East that doesn’t really seem to like us very much.

I was frustrated and began blogging (or newslettering) about how important it was to replace Bush with Howard Dean, Wes Clark, John Edwards, John Kerry or whoever.  I was literally an ABB person – Anybody But Bush. And as we approached the 2004 election, blogging became mainstream and a logical place to write.  Sites popped up that made it easy to blog.  I used one site for about a 2 years, I don’t remember what it was, maybe Homestead, then Blogger for many years before the current incarnation in WordPress.  And what happened over those years is that I increasingly ignored the environmentalist base and core of what is important to me, my three boys and any grandchildren I might eventually have, in favor of partisan political blogging activism.

Today I am entrenched in partisan activity — in my blog, volunteering for the DFL, and in the candidates I support.  And where has that gotten me?

A friend from church recently said about the current state of politics:

“No respect, no creativity, nothing constructive, nothing positive. I just struggle to engage in a process that has become so divisive and so destructive.”

I used to think that that was exactly why we should be involved, to change that.  Now I am beginning to think that it won’t change and I have better things to do with my time.  I know one blogger who has already done that.

Anyway, I found some of those old blogs and thought maybe I need to return to my roots.  After all, I have been an environmentalist since I was a little kid.  When I was in elementary school, I was very interested in saving whales.  I think I was in 5th grade when a librarian at Fulton Elementary in Minneapolis, who knew of my interest in whales, gave me a pamphlet that had a picture of a cute baby harp seal on the front of it.  When I opened it up, it was graphic pictures of seal hunters with clubs, bloody baby seals, and pools of blood on the rocks.

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Rightwingers please stop saying “it’s debatable” if it isn’t

I made a comment on a rightwing blog this week, but I was annoyed by a response I received.  My last post was about that blog post.  In essence, the rightwing blogger called on moderate Democrats to join the Republican’s plan to reduce services that hurt those least likely to afford it like the elderly, people with disabilities and workers who have lost their jobs, rather than tax the 40,000 Minnesotans who make over $300,000 an extra 2% on the income over $300,000.  (By the way, if somebody makes $500,000, they would pay about an extra $4,000.)  My response was that the “moderates” were in the common-sense, moderate position of supporting Governor Dayton because he is 100% right, and a majority of Minnesotans think he is right too.

I made that comment on the original rightwing blog, and received the following response:

markmwhite says:
June 27, 2011 at 2:51 pm
whether the majority is standing with Dayton is debatable. the folly of continuing to grow government at unsustainable levels is not. good luck to Steve and the rest of the looters. let the class war continue

I tend to comment on a lot of right wing blogs, and I’ve learned (and this is nothing new or shocking to politically active bloggers) that rightwing comments tend to be either vague or insulting without proof.  (Example: Michelle Bachman.)  It is not always the case, I know several conservatives/ Republicans/ Libertarians who are very thoughtful, have strongly held beliefs, and make a lot of sense, I just don’t often agree with them because I have my own strongly held beliefs.  But what bugs me are the vague defenses to my comments.

In this case, it is “whether the majority is standing with Dayton is debatable.”  How is it debatable?  That phrase “it’s debatable” is very common.  Here are three polls from three different politically leaning organizations that say it isn’t debatable:

Startribune Minnesota Poll May 2011:
Solve budget…
Primarily with service reductions 27%
Tax increases and service reductions 63%
Don’t know/refused 10%

Public Policy Polling (Raleigh, NC) June 2011
Would you support a tax increase on the wealthiest 2% of Minnesotans to help balance the state budget, or do you think the budget should be balanced through cuts only?
Would support a tax increase on the wealthiest 2% of Minnesotans 63%
Budget should be balanced through cuts only 32%
Not sure 4%

KSTP Survey USA Poll May 2011
Minnesota has a five billion dollar budget deficit. Should Minnesota
Raise Taxes on Wealthy 31%
Raise Taxes on All 4%
Cut Spending 36%
Both 27%
Not Sure 2%
(That is 62% that would support Dayton’s proposal for the math challenged)

Those are three polls that all say about two-thirds of Minnesotans support Governor Dayton and the DFL position.  What is debatable?

Oh, and by the way, I’m no looter, but I think I am fine if a class war begins.  At the rate we are becoming more and more lopsided economically, something needs to change or a class war is inevitable.  If you need proof, look at our nation’s and the world’s history.  It is repeating itself, it happened a century ago, and a century before that, and as we often do, we have forgotten (or are too stupid to rationalize) the hard lessons we learned.

Partisan Political Attacks Create Angst and Apathy (in me)

I’ve noticed myself ignoring my unread item notices on Google Reader regularly recently.  I follow 14 blogs, most of them overtly political, the rest of them vaguely political, and all of them local.  Not only am I ignoring the unread notices on a regular basis, when I do decide to clean it up, I hardly read them, I just clear the unread notice.

I’m not sure if it is the current political subject matter that bores me, or if my recent political run has just jaded my outlook.  I do feel a little depressed based on the news.  Right now, you have the Chamber of Commerce in alliance with The Republican Party together attacking workers in what I see as a divide and conquer manner.  There is no chance that the assault on unions here in MN or WI is budget related or freedom related.  It is purely and simply politically motivated. 

The goal in the Republican ideology is to prevent unions from influencing elections.  But instead of passing laws to stop the influx of money influence in elections that might come from Unions, which by the way was dwarfed by the Chamber of Commerce, Republicans have decided to destroy unions with phony “right to work” laws designed specifically to bankrupt unions and constant blame for everything from lazy workers to them being “cause” or at least scapegoat for budget deficits.  But labor is not the issue, and it will not solve budget problems.  These “solutions” simply weaken workers and thus, to the delight of the Republican Party, it will eventually weaken a strong funding mechanism for progressive politics.

Side Note: Notice I said “progressive” and not Democratic politics.  Despite the demonization of the word progressive by Republicans, maybe I should say by Glenn Beck, the word progressive in politics is simply a word that labels a group that supports an agenda of political action to fix the problems plaguing our country.  Republicans were called progressives at one time, Teddy Roosevelt, Albert Cumming, Robert La Follette, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and his dissenting partner Justice Louis Brandeis, even Abe Lincoln was a progressive in action, if not by label.  But Democrats started out-progressing Republicans under Woodrow Wilson and later under Franklin Roosevelt.  As political parties are want-to-do, the Republicans couldn’t just agree, they had to counter and become more conservative.  If nothing else, grasp at straws to destroy.  Unions will support whoever supports workers, today and for three-quarters of a century is has been the Democrats who have been progressive on labor issues.

The problem is that we could solve everything without destroying the rights of workers and save a ton of money in society by passing election laws that limit election spending and create publicly financed elections.  How many millions of dollars could be saved and invested in a businesses and workers if as a state we weren’t spending many millions of dollars on lobbying and commercials to influence politics.

How much time would be saved in our legislature if legislators could just go ahead and vote with their conscience instead of based on their reelection campaign funding or based on the support they pledged to get an endorsement?  And how much better would our state be if legislators were beholden to all of their constituents instead of only their financial supporters?  How many more people would feel good about voting if they felt they had a voice instead of the feeling that the biggest spenders have control?

Maybe that sounds a bit jaded, but I am tired of what’s happening now and I’m tired of the snarky remarks and blame being tossed around, when the system is what is flawed.  I was recently the subject of a “comment lecture” on Facebook blaming Democrats for something Republicans were equally responsible for, if not more responsible for.  The partisan rancor is absurd, and at a point that drives the average person away from the political process, creating even more extreme ideas and extremist control in each party.  I specifically got involved in the DFL Party because of that.  And despite my growing angst about the rhetoric, I keep moving deeper in to the process.

I started this rant by mentioning blogs.  I did have a point.  The blog post I enjoyed reading the most recently had nothing to do with politics.  It was called Insecure About Money by Joey White at the blog Wide White.  It isn’t some major piece of great writing, but it is a subject I completely identify with.  I think that is what so many bloggers are missing right now, personal identification.  Popular blogs are filled with crazy and shrill remarks to draw readers.  A blog shouldn’t be a popularity contest or a ego builder, it should be honest opinions.  I don’t write about a DFL political agenda, although sometimes I think I should.  I write about what interests me and what are truly my opinions.

Joey and I have differing views on a lot of political issues, probably most issues, but he and I are very similar when it comes to partisan politics.  Using a quote Joey made on a blog post of mine he said “I realize partisan politics is really the only option in America, I just hate it.”  That’s why even despite our differences, I like his blog, he is honest and I respect him for his honest conviction and opinions.  I’m not sure I always get that from the extremists on either side.

I know what my right-wing attackers are thinking.  On my blog I attack Tim Pawlenty and John Kline regularly, as well as “Republicans!” in general.  But that is because I see so much hypocritical Republican Party politics in them.  Party agenda first, constituents second.  I respect Republicans who have honest beliefs that jive with the party.  I don’t have a problem with the conservative agenda if that is what you believe in, that doesn’t mean I have to like it or agree with it, but I believe you have a right to work toward and think that way, just like I have the right and deserve the respect for my beliefs.  It is that partisan rhetoric and attack that needs to stop.  We need to be honest and respectful, and we need to stop thinking one side is always right and one side is always wrong.  There is a middle ground and there can be compromise.  There are adequate solutions that will make the state, nation and world a better place, that do not rely on one single political outcome.

I got to interview former congressman, Minneapolis mayor and state legislator Don Fraser for a project I am going to work on, and the thing I really liked was his discussion on political parties in the state.  He said state legislators were not aligned with parties until recently.  Just like city council races, all races were nonpartisan elections.  He felt that was a good thing because there were bills that two people would be on complete opposite sides of an issue, and in debate on the next bill be strong allies.  That can’t happen now.  Partisan politics prevents it.  Look at the override 6 here in Minnesota, Blanche Lincoln, Joe Lieberman, Richard Lugar, Orin Hatch and the term RINO in general.

I think I’ve rambled long enough here, and I fear my blog is reaching the end of its usefulness.  I find myself becoming more cynical about politics and more cynical about the extremist actions of many politicians today, especially those aligned with the Chamber of Commerce.  I find it harder to pay attention, and am less willing to, even when it is a person I support.  I strongly believe in the ideals of inclusiveness, equality and justice, and the DFL fits with where I am right now, I’m just not sure this is the best avenue for my work, the problem is based on my short time experience with the State DFL Central Committee, I’m not sure the DFL is either.  I guess local is the way to go.

That may be my longest post ever, and if you got this far, I think I am sorry…

Colleen Morse and the Three DFL Candidates For Governor

On Monday, June 28th, just two weeks ago, blogger Colleen Morse at http://aprilknight.blogspot.com/ posted on the three DFL candidates for governor.  Yesterday afternoon, she passed away. 

Just two months ago, Colleen was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a tumor in the brain.  On May 15th, she wrote “I have a feeling that I don’t have long to live.”  But it was a shock to get the news, and to realize her July 2nd post was her last entry.

I’d been a faithful reader of her blog for months when I met her at the CD2 DFL convention.  I was helping with registration.  She wanted a visitor pass, but when she said her name, I thought she deserved a media pass.  We struck up a long conversation on the importance of blogging and social media.  Then, just two weeks later my wife and I met her in a Duluth skyway.  We talked for a while then went our separate ways for the evening.  As we sat down for dinner, I told my wife I wished we had invited her with us to dinner.  But the next morning, I got to spend about an hour with her as we waited at the DFL State Convention for things to start.  It was one of the highlights of my convention weekend.

I wish I could have known Colleen longer, and continued to see her at political events.  As many of you know, she spent a lot of time working to get Mark Dayton elected.  But all the time she supported Mark Dayton, she still supported the other great candidates with positive words and energy.  That example of friendliness and helpfulness, regardless of the side is an example she set of how to maintain a strong DFL core.  It is something as a blogging community we need to concentrate on.  Blogger Holly Cairns has been stressing that fact since I first got to know her. 

Blogging can be used for serious and organized promotion, and Colleen did that, although to her it was just a fun thing for her to do.  Below is her last real blog post.  Colleen will not only be missed by her family and close friends, but will be greatly missed by the entire progressive blogging community and the political campaigns she came in contact with.

Thank you Colleen.

THREE DFL CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR
June 28, 2010, 7:02 AM

All DFLers will have to decide very soon who they are going to vote for to be our next governor. How will each Primary voter decide? Here are the usual ways, not in any particular order.

1.  Issues
2.  Name recognition
3.  Endorsed candidate
4.  Voter contact on the campaign trail
5.  Videos and websites
6.  Personal charisma (which includes how much the voter “loves” the candidate; you hear a lot of that on Facebook and on the campaign trail
7.  Past success in political experience
8.  Whether the voter even wants to vote in the Primary, or whether the voter is too fed up with politics to do so. What the percentage is of voters who actually show up at the Primary makes a big difference in who gets elected.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher – Kelliher obviously knows all the issues inside and out. She has no problems whatsoever there. She is gaining some name recognition but doesn’t have nearly as much as Dayton. Will her DFL cohorts and supporters donate enough money for her to win this campaign? If so, they’d better get hopping.

I’ll just meander down the list for each candidate. This is better than trying to walk slowly down the hallway while holding on to the wall.

Kelliher is obviously the endorsed candidate, which does give her an edge. Will it be enough? Keep tuned…

Kelliher’s voter contact on the campaign trail does not seem to be as good as Dayton’s. Dayton is all over the place. Not only that, but everyone already knows who he is.

Videos are excellent from the Dayton Campaign…websites not so good at all.

Personal charisma is something you never heard many people talk about with regard to Mark Dayton. He’s doing something right now, though, because everywhere I go I hear people (mostly women) say “I love him!” While Kelliher’s momentum is growing, she just doesn’t have that personal charisma that people look for. Like R. T. Rybak has, for example.

Past success in political experience was exceptionally good with Margaret Anderson Kelliher. She knows an incredible amount about Minnesota politics. As far as knowledge and experience, she can definitely get the job done.

It sure seems that there are a lot of people who are disillusioned with the world of politics. The best thing to do is to get out there and get your people to vote!

Matt Entenza – Matt is very good on clean, green energy. He has some great ideas in that area. He’s also excellent on GLBT and equality issues. He’s good on creating new jobs.

As far as name recognition, I don’t see Matt as having much of that. It just isn’t there. Oh, I’m sure it is in many circles, but a lot of people still don’t know who Matt Entenza is. I don’t know how he’s going to change that.

As we all know, Matt is not the endorsed candidate. That distinction belongs to Margaret Anderson Kelliher.

I’m pretty sure that Entenza has a lot of voter contact on the campaign trail. But where are his particular campaign trails? I don’t hear much about him at all from my non-political circle of acquaintances (yes, folks, I do have a lot of friends who are not political!) When I ask if they were going to vote for him, they didn’t even know who he was.

Matt Entenza probably has the best collection of campaign videos. I would rate his website as the best of all three of the candidates.

Personal charisma is not one of Entenza’s strong points. He’s very soft spoken, which means he’s a nice guy, but not exactly your top charismatic person. Of Minnesoa politicians, that honor would definitely have to go to R. T. Rybak.

Entenza has a lot of political experience. Unfortunately, some of it is considered distasteful by many people. I wish these people would learn the truth of the matter. I stuck up for Matt when someone was saying rotten things about him. The guy called me a liar. Go figure. Some people just don’t want to listen to truth.

Mark Dayton – Mark is very good on almost all the issues. After all, he was a U. S. Senator and had to know a lot about a lot of different things. He’s big on Senior issues, of course. Remember how he took busloads of seniors to Canada so they could get the prescription drugs at lower cost? He’s always been an advocate for seniors. He’s always been a friend of GLBT, as well. He stood up on the Senate floor in favor of the right of two people who love each other to get married, no matter what their gender. Another issue that he is very interested in is education.

Name recognition? Mark Dayton? That’s almost funny. There’s probably only a handful of people in Minnesota who don’t know who Mark Dayton is, and those are no doubt under the age of twelve. They’re just too young to know.

We all know that Mark is not the endorsed candidate. Margaret Anderson Kelliher is. Still, there are plenty of examples over the years where the endorsed candidate did not win.

Mark has been all over Minnesota on the campaign trail. He drove 9,000 miles across Minnesota. He stopped in towns all over and met people in coffee shops and other interesting places. He has successfully reintroduced himself to Minnesotans.

Mark is starting to get some pretty good videos. There’s one called “9,000” miles, which you can find on his website.

Personal charisma is not an area that Mark excels at. He’s an introvert; standing up in front of a lot of people is difficult for him, especially during the question/answer portion of a forum. I give him a lot of credit, though, for doing something that doesn’t come naturally to him. I’ve also noticed that he’s made many, many improvements as a public speaker. I was surprised, proud and happy to see that he made a huge effort to improve in this area.

Obviously Mark Dayton has the most political experience of any of the candidates. He ran three Minnesota State Commissioner offices. He was U. S. Senator. The list goes on.

So now it’s up to you, dear voters. The best thing you can do to ensure we get a DFL governor is to pick a candidate and then campaign for that candidate. You can door knock, do mailings and other clerical work, attend Meet and Greets, have a house party for your candidate, or have a fund raiser for the candidate. There’s a ton of ways to help out. Call your candidate’s office to volunteer. You can also volunteer on their websites. So let’s all rally round one of these three candidates and make sure out next governor is DFL.

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Integrity in a blog

There is this new “conservative” blog called Midwest Spin.  Unlike me, it is somebody who probably knows what they are doing with this whole blog and social media thing.  They started following me on Twitter, so I checked who they were.  At that point they were following 200+ and had 15 followers.  A couple days later they are following 1,156 and had 156 followers.  I guess that is how you drive people to your site, feign interest in them.  I know I am behind the times, but I tend not to follow people unless there is specific information I am waiting or looking for.  Don’t be offended if you follow me and I don’t return the favor. 

Anyway, I visited the Midwest Spin blog to see who it was.  I think they had five posts at the time, they have seven now, all pretty innocuous.   But the thing that bothered me is that it is completely anonymous.   They have already changed the “About Me” page.  Originally the About Me page stated they were a “group of guys” in the Midwest, I believe they used “fly-over country” working to stop the liberal influx on society.  That’s all they said about themselves.

It has changed.  They are not a “group of guys” anymore, but they still don’t identify themselves.  I posted a comment on their introductory post asking them to identify themselves.  They use integrity in their title and common-sense in their introduction, but without accountability, there is no integrity no matter how much common-sense you claim to have.

I noticed that somebody named Minnesota Grizzly Bear commented on their site and my “Fill me with soma” post this morning.  I’m guessing he or she is associated with their blog but that is just speculation.  I’ll be interested to see what happens to them.  I’m not going to spend time trying to find out who they are, but I’ll add them to my reader for a while to see how the blog develops.  I’d tell you to check them out and let me know what you think, but it is pretty dull right now.