An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Archive for April, 2011

America’s Tea Problem

America has this problem.  It is plagued by this problem in every way.  Whenever the intelligent try and alleviate this problem, it seems to bounce back.  The problem is a curse upon a country that is desperately trying to overcome the racist elements that are still very powerful in this country.  Granted, they are not nearly as bad as it used to be.  The KKK is not as powerful a presence in this country the way that they used to be, which is a wonderful thing.  You don’t see them walking down the streets of Washington DC in their robes, talking their talk, which won’t be repeated here because some of us consider ourselves decent human beings who don’t want to revisit a history that is bigoted, heartless, and worth nothing to society.  What is America’s problem?  America’s problem is the Tea Party.

It is kind of inspiring how the Tea Party is finally starting to head into the night.  Granted, we now have quite a few Tea Party Republicans (such an oxy-moron, given what people say that the Tea Party is supposed to represent) in government these days.  You’ve got people like Mitt Romney, Rand and Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and the list does go on.  But you don’t see much of their massive protests these days.  Their protests are absolutely legendary in the world of bigoted politics.

Does anybody remember the signs that these people used to have at their completely not-racist rallies that they had?  The stupidity and ignorance of what was happening was almost inspiring to those of us who have the ability to think in large amounts.  They were openly comparing the democratically elected president of this country to being equal with Hitler.  That’s right, people in this country were saying that the President of the United States who was democratically elected is equal to a genocidal maniac who wanted to ethically and ideologically purify the world.  The absolutely offensive nature of that comparison should terrify and sadden people, but it didn’t. 

But then, after the big charge that they had going died down, the Tea Party decided to go after the people who called them racists.  One must give credit that the Tea Party didn’t start out as the racist mongers that they are today.  There were some actual intellectuals with this group back when it first started.  However, this is not the way that it is today.  Today, the Tea Party has become nothing more than a group of middle-class, almost exclusively white people.  These white people claim to be mad about the economy, taxes, a whole bunch of things, but the truth is that the only thing that they are really mad at is the fact that the black man is in office. 

One contention that the big-time Tea Party members make is that they are in support of the ideals set up by the Founding Fathers of this country.  That concept is so stupid that it hurts.  If the Founding Fathers were around today they would have undoubtably hated the Tea Party’s guts.  For one thing, they want to believe that the Founding Fathers were against socialism, which is an outright lie.  They were all in favor of it, because you know what socialism was?  It wasn’t the government having all the power.  That is a lie that the people are told.  Socialism is, by definition, public ownership.  The people own, the people control.  Socialism is giving the people of a country the control over the main areas of production.  It is not taking from people, it is giving to people.  But that isn’t something that the corporate machine of this country, like the Koch brothers, want you to know. 

The fact is that the Tea Party is not a machine that is acting in the people’s interest.  They are an arm of the corporate machine.  They have always advocated and will always advocate for the corporate interests, and in the interest of capitalism, which has been proven to be against the common good.  If only the Tea Party was a machine of dissent.  What’s ironic is that while they believe themselves to be dissenting against the system, if you go against them, and call them out, they will go after you with absolute fury. 

There was a video that was made by a YouTuber named Grady Warren.  In it, Warren talks about how the Tea Party is not racist.  It was the absolutely worst demonstration of something that more and more people are coming to realize is true- that either these people are so completely blind to their own bigotry that they simply don’t see it, or that they are so egotistical and proud of their own bigotry that they revel in it.  This is not a good thing.  This is actually a very terrible thing.  Either of those problems comes with a massively long list of things that need to be done to get these people to understand how bigoted they actually are.

And what’s more, the American public has to suffer the worst of it- the legislation that they want to put through.  The recent campaign against reproductive rights for women was a Tea Party and hardcore right manifestation.  Christine O’Donnell ran on her wish to take away a woman’s right to choose.  Sharron Angle did too.  Granted, their campaigns lost, but it is the idea of the thing that matters.  And it has paved the way for all sorts of hardcore right legislation that could have, and in some places, has come to pass.  There was a House Bill in South Dakota that could have made it perfectly legel to kill an abortion doctor.  You could up and kill them, in the street, and you would face no legal action.  That isn’t happening in this country!  And people who think that that kind of behavior is acceptable should be shunned and mocked by society.  But, thanks to the miracle of the hopelssly biased network FOX News, they are accepted.

Society cannot suffer the kind of bigotry that we face.  There are things happening that demand that humanity come together.  America needs to solve its tea problem.  Either that, or find a place to send them where they can live in their little utopia, up until the point where they realize that the world that they want is a place where nobody would want to live.

Peace out,

Eli

Why People Don’t Vote

There is an unfortunate trend in this country.  It is a trend that most people are not happy about in the slightest, and wish that it would go away.  It is easy to observe this trend with people because if you ask most people about it, it is easy to understand why they feel that way.  The trend is that people are sick of politics because of how unpleasant it is.  It used to be, back in the 90’s, that the real issues of importance in this country to the liberal community, like legalizing pot, gay marriage, gun rights, etc. were able to be talked about.  But that isn’t the case anymore.  Nowadays, the case is that the liberal community is so busy trying to keep the insanity of the conservatives in this country from being made into law that they are unable to even talk about the issues that matter. 

My friend, John Aronno, said it best, “the reason voting doesn’t work is because nobody does it.”  He is absolutely right.  The last municipal elections here in Anchorage had a 21% voter turnout.  That is just plain pathetic.  The average number of voters who turn out for municipal elections is roughly 20%.  Those numbers are just plain sad.  And what’s more, these elections matter.  The rather bigoted politicians in this city, like mayor Dan Sullivan, are kept in check by the Anchorage Assembly.  Of course, they still weren’t able to stop Sullivan from vetoing Ordinance 64 without a second though.  But at least they have the power to keep the man’s tendency to legislate taste in check.  After the elections this year, we are lucky that, while the number of progressive candidates is not as high as it was, and should be, there is still enough swing to stop the bulk of Sullivan’s ideas.

And he needs to be kept in check.  Thanks to the budget problems here in Anchorage, and Sullivan’s absolute committment to not raising taxes, we now have good detectives out on the street checking parking meters.  The crime rates in Anchorage reflect this.  In fact, aside from reassigning good cops, they are also cutting jobs in the police department.  It is not a fun topic to talk about.

The reason that people don’t vote is simple- there is no simple reason that people don’t vote.  Some don’t vote because they believe that politics is nothing more than two parties who are not for them.  And so, rather than trying to change the party system, they ignore it and hope that it will get better.  Some would call that protesting the system.  The intelligent call that being a coward and not wanting to face the truth.  Another reason is because they are sick of hearing all the constant bickering of politcal figures in this country.

Take a look on any major news network, it is easy to see why people believe this way.  It is on CSPAN all the time, and CNN, Fox, and MSNBC like to show it every day.  Every once and a while, the BBC, PBS, or any of the other not so corporate news networks get on the bandwagon (though not nearly as often).  We hear politicians in both houses of Congress yelling and bickering.  Each is calling the other a “traitor,” or “unAmerican.”  They scream till they are blue in the face, and in the end, who wins?  Not the American people, that’s for sure.

Another reason that is also very likely is the fact that people are ignored.  People have been screaming for years to end the wars that we have going on in the Middle East.  Rather than listen to the people, as they are supposed to do, they decide to start another war overseas with Libya (don’t say that it isn’t a war.  Military action is military action, and an act of war is an act of war).  People are now demanding to know why the politicians want to get rid of Medicare and turn it into a voucher system.  Are they going to listen then?  The people say to tax the rich, and of course, what do they do?  They stick the current economic burden on the poor.  It is all so pathetic that it hurts.  And people are starting to tune out.

A young man here at the college remarked that he would rather see an informed 21% of peope voting, rather than an ignorant 90%.  If only that was the case.  But that isn’t the case.  The case is that people are being manipulated and lied to, and the ignorant are the ones who are always in the majority of voting.  This is because the conservative elements of this country have a gift at being able to get their base out to vote.  It is something that the liberal community really could use a couple lessons on doing.  The liberal base is more or less uncaring about what happens. 

One could argue that the reason that most people don’t vote is a more or less good one- because overall, things in this country are pretty good.  And they would be right.  Things in this nation are pretty good.  But the fact is that we are at the crossroads of destiny when it comes to our nation’s political future.  Deny it all you like, but the fact is that this nation is facing the future, and if the government doesn’t listen to what economists, and the intellectual crowds are saying, that we cannot sustain our current economy, and it needs to be overhauled, then we may not be looking at such a pleasant future.  Sure, things are pretty good for the most part, but people need to realize that there is more at stake than that.

This nation is standing at the crossroads of destiny, and we are going to have to make a choice.  The sad fact is that while Obama may be a total failure for the liberal community, there are no other options on the table that look any better.  Would you rather see Donald Trump leading this nation?  It makes one quiver just to think about it.  So, it is time to get moving, or to pack up and go home, liberals.  Think about it.

Peace out,

Eli

The Newspaper’s Job

There was a recent discussion that I had had with a young man here at the college.  Normally, speaking about one’s self in a professional way with a newspaper or media outlet is not generally acceptable, but in this case, there really was no other way to do this.  This young man had the belief that the college newspaper here at UAA was nothing more than junk.  His contention was that it was a joke, not worthy of even the slightest consideration other than the articles that are written by me.  This man didn’t seem to realize what he had said, and how horrible a thing that it is to say until it was said.

There is a contention among the politically motivated in this country on both the left and the right that the media’s job is to do something other than what it is doing.  People seem to believe that the media’s job is to report dark secrets, expose corruption, keep everybody accountable, and never let anything that they care about go unreported.  The media’s job, the new’s job, is not that.  The job of people in the news is to report on things of consequence.  That is really all it is.  It is to report on things that matter in the real world. 

“You know, when was the last time you turned on the news and you saw a story about how there were no massive fires in your town that day?  Or how there weren’t any horrific car accidents, or rapes, or murders, or how- that nobody was killed in Iraq today?  I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume, never really happened,” said Glenn Beck on his syndicated (and ending at the end of the year) talk show on the hopelessly biased network Fox News.  This line of thought was absolutely foolish in every single regard.  And the sad fact is that Fox News has brought up and issue that the aforementioned young man put into perspective- the fact that there is no real respect for the media these days.

It isn’t exactly a mystery that most people believe that the media is biased these day.  Even the great zions of straight reporting, like the BBC, NPR, PBS, etc. are considered biased.  Of course, since they are in favor of an open discussion and exchange of ideas and examining both sides, people generally tend to believe that they have a liberal bias.  Another false assumption in this country is the idea that there is a liberal media in the same way that there is a conservative media.  There isn’t.  But people believe that it is.  People believe that there is a hardcore effort to either sway people one direction or the other.  But that isn’t the case. 

The fact is is that most reporters and most news organizations that aren’t on the major networks (CNN, MSNBC, Fox) are not biased.  In fact, there are codes of ethics that are pretty clear about what a news organization is supposed to be.  Of course, say that to a typical American, and they won’t believe you.  That’s how it goes in this country.  It is people like the student mentioned at the top who are responsible for this belief that there is bias.  People like him are what is wrong with this country.

Left or right, the problem in this country is that everybody is trying to be a pariah for a cause.  And we have networks who cater to this image.  There are certain liberal pundits who are just as bad at tarnishing the image of fair and balanced (the real kind) news.  Every time that Ed Schultz is on television, I have a deep feeling of revulsion go through me when I listen to his clearly biased form of talking about political news. 

But then there are people like Rachel Maddow, who is dedicated to seeking the truth.  She has an obsession with facts that shows in her reporting.  She doesn’t miss details, and doesn’t let the fact that she has a bias influence how she looks into something.  She is one of those reporters that is in line with how Bill Moyer, my favorite journalist, said a reporter should be- having a bias, but is open about it, and still seeks the truth. 

The great reporters throughout history have all had bias.  True objective reporting is a myth.  Personal bias will influence what you do in one form or another if you get into the job of reporting for a news organization.  However, it is when you are able to work with your own bias, and are able to create something of substance, that you are making your job worthwhile.

And that is where it comes back to what was said at the top.  The job of the news isn’t to expose dark secrets, or corruption.  The job of the news is to talk about events.  Things of consequence that happen in our world.  And people who believe that the job of the news is to report on the dark going-ons, and to act as a hammer of justice, don’t realize that there is more to this world than politics.  There are a lot of things that happen, and it is the job of the media to look at all aspects of this world. 

And to this young man- I take great offense to what you said.  The young man mentioned that the only reason that he read the paper The Northern Light is simply because I write for it.  I mean this in the most sincere way when I ask him to stop reading the newspaper if that is all he reads it for.  Those who work for this paper work very hard.  We are all volunteers who are donating our time to this job.  We don’t have the biggest newspaper in the world, and our readership is very small.  However, that is not what matters.  What matters is the fact that we are trying.  We are doing our best.  And when we hear that somebody thinks that our paper is a joke, I honestly don’t want people who think that way to read my articles and to tell me that that is all they think the paper is worth.  I don’t want that kind of burden on my shoulders.

This paper means something to those who write for it.  We work hard.  If people think it is a joke, I would appreciate it if you kept that to yourself.

Peace out,

Eli

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