Tag Archives: Progressive Blogging

I had to post something

I’ve written at least once a month since September 2010.  I know I was busy in 2010 with a campaign, but I have no excuse for missing a month now.

I know exactly why I might have missed a month if I hadn’t written this.  I know why nothing is boiling over for me to write about, I’m sick of partisan politics.  I’m not even getting upset at the hypocrites who could always get my goat enough to write one thing.

For example, Pat Garofalo has become more of a swearword than a goofy and arrogant twitter feed to follow and make fun of.  I recently called him a dumbass on Twitter.  If you know me, you know that is about the most vulgar I get.  Instead of laughing at him (not with him) I feel more like Red Foreman on that 70’s Show and would rather kick him in the ass so hard his nose will bleed.

Well this is a post, so I’ve met my once a month post quota.

I’ll be at the DFL Convention this weekend.  I’m sure I’ll get at least one post out of that, so I should be good for a couple months now.

So in the immortal words of Red Foreman: “Good night, sleep tight, and don’t let the bedbugs put their foot in your ass.”

Change? Maybe if there’s an intellectual shift among the overtly selfish. — Hiatus.

It’s funny, I’ve reestablished the number of daily hits I’m getting on this website to a respectable number, and now I’ve decided to take another hiatus from it.  My desire to continue paying attention to politics, which has been dwindling for some time, is now rapidly dwindling.  That might be an oxymoron, but my interest is at possibly an all-time low.  

I’m not geared to being involved in politics.  I’m in a leadership position right now, but I don’t have the ego or the drive that is needed for it.  Plus, I don’t like that I have annoyed people without even knowing how or why I’ve annoyed them.  Was it an email or a comment I made?  No clue.  I actually don’t like that people don’t like me in general.  I try to be very nice, am very open-minded, and even if there is a problem, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt when I meet them.  Why wouldn’t I expect the same?  Of course that doesn’t mean I will just sit back and accept your idea without confrontation if I think a confrontation is required…

Some people would say not being liked by people is all part of the political landscape — and believe me, I have no desire, nor do I attempt to get everybody to like me.  But, when I first started a blog, really it was a website, it was for my own entertainment.  And in many ways, my blog is still for my entertainment.  I don’t follow some agenda based on what I hear from the DFL, or from other progressive bloggers.  I blog about what I want to blog about and what I care about.  It was the same when I started getting active in politics, it was because others weren’t doing what I thought needed to be done and I thought it was kind of fun to do it.  Now, despite the feeling that there may be a little momentum building toward success, or at least improvement here, I don’t really think it is fun anymore.  Politics itself has digressed so rapidly into… well, politics!  I have little desire to contribute to the “politics.”

Of course, “hiatus” might not be the right word, because I doubt I will stop completely.  I will still blowup sometimes.  I am really pissed at the direction this country is heading when it comes to respect for seniors, education of children, care for those that need a little care, freedom to live your own life, and maintaining a healthy and safe community today and for future generations.  Unless a giant intellectual change occurs within an overtly selfish majority of the voting public (**Note: I said voting public because I think a majority of people do care) I don’t see much hope for change.

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.

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…