An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Posts tagged ‘John Aronno’

Anchorage election fraud goes unchallenged, and democracy dies a little more

It’s no mystery to the people who know me that I don’t think that voting means much.  It’s ironic that when I saw in an article tonight my friend Heather’s husband, John Aronno make the point that George Carlin made a career (which I don’t truly believe, but it was a part of his beliefs) out of saying that voting doesn’t matter.  Carlin was right when he said about our politicians –

They come from American families in American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities.  And they’re elected by American citizens.  This is the best we can do, folks!  This is what we have to offer.  It’s what our system produces.  Garbage in, garbage out.

I love that Carlin was such a sharp mind.  Even up to his dying days, he was one of the most intelligent people who has graced the stage in about 50 years.  Now, unlike Carlin, I gripe and complain about the things that American politicians do, but that’s just because it is my schtick.  However, I also vote, but not because I believe in it.

Not for two seconds do I believe that it does any good.  I just do it to say that I did, and to hope that maybe, just maybe, this time, it won’t lead to some ignorant, overpaid and underworked pseudo-celebrity jackass running my country and leading it into ruin.  That maybe the guy or gal that I vote for won’t be one of the corrupt aristocracy that runs this country.

But like John, I do think that on the municipal level, I can make a difference, and I do take some comfort in that.  In this last election, however, I lost that belief.  I lost it because I saw open and blatant subversion of democracy.  This wasn’t a partially flawed election.  This was an outright fraud.  The illegitimacy of this election is obvious to anybody here in Anchorage paying even a modicum of attention.

He wrote in a post about a young woman who made an impassioned statement at the assembly meeting.  I won’t put it up here, because I didn’t hear it, and I don’t want to feel that I took away from this, because I have a feeling that if I had been there, I would have been beyond angry.  Rage would have coursed through me as I could listen to Honeman continue to defend this, to defend the people who are allowing this.

This woman says that voting is your voice, and while I want to agree, I don’t.  The reason that I don’t agree is that I don’t share most people’s belief in the general goodness of humanity.  I have absolutely no faith in the human race.  None whatsoever.  I believe that people are dumb, stupid, dangerous animals that are our own worst enemy.  BUt I’m not advocating for that belief.  As a friend of mine has pointed out, it is fairly toxic to the mind, and I admit, I’m not a happy person.  That is who I have chosen to be.  Wading in to the river of crap that runs this country, trying to sort it all out.

But you know what I think is that Catch-22 of this whole debacle here in Anchorage, and with John’s post?  People want to believe that their vote matters, that they are making a difference, and this is good.  But I think the reason that so many people have just given up is that they are not given a reason to care.  Now, with this local election, we are seeing that even that can be rigged, can be fraudulent, can be invalid.  And when the government officials who we are saying need to hold this whole mess accountable do nothing, can you honestly blame them?

Peace out,

Lefty

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UAA College Democrats, a parting of the ways

I am a member of the UAA College Democrats.  It was something that, I will admit, I first got into because I was just trying to escape.  And now, as I look at where things are heading, where it looks to end, I am feeling a stab of deep pity, not just for myself, but for those involved, and I don’t hold it against our leader.  I hold it against our school.  And now, a parting of the ways is happening.

The University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) is a commuter’s school, for the most part.  The bulk of students are in Nursing.  It is the largest field that employs here in Alaska.  Part of me thinks that maybe I should have gotten into that.  It is a career path that can be pretty lucrative, but it involved a metric ton of work.  Well, any career field does that.  In any case, this is the school that I attend.  It is a school where kids come and kids go.

There has never been a unifying force that is behind it.  There has never been an effort to get all the students to come together and be something more than just those who come and go.  The college is continually trying to have events that get students interested.  I figure that only a precious few even draw a decently sized crowd.  It has always been that way.

And therefore, since the college itself has no unifying efforts, or large group who is working to be a part of what goes on there, clubs are also criminally small.  Now that I think about it, UAA represents America at large, in a way.  It is a place where people are only concerned about their own interests.  They get involved only if it affects them.  If they are going to have to lose some of their time to it, they will fight what is happening.  People don’t really care about what happens.  Unless of course, it affects their wallets.  Touch the kids’ money, and they will get right to getting involved.  There really is a lot of poetic irony in the fact that UAA does seem to represent how most of this country is.  People come and go, not caring about the major issues, not caring about the major problems, not caring at all.

And this leads us back to the UAA College Democrats.  The leader, Heather Aronno, is stepping back.  I don’t shame her that.  One of the things that I live by is “do what you feel,” which is really the shorter version of “do what you feel is right for you.”  She has a career path in mind where some level of objectivity will be required.  Granted, I don’t believe in true objectivity, but that isn’t the issue here.  She has to do what is right by her, and at the same time, I, and apparently somebody at KRUA, could see the writing on the wall.  The UAA College Dems are coming to an end.

When one looks at American politics, it isn’t surprising.  People don’t want to get involved in all of that anyway.  And given how people at UAA don’t give a crap about what is going on, or the people who are doing things, then it really makes a lot of sense.  This group was held together by Heather and John Aronno.  A lot of burden to be placed on two people, and now, it is just destined to come apart.  I hope I am wrong, but really, those two were the only ones who were making a significant effort.  I tried to be more involved, but I did really a lot of jack in the grand scheme of the club.  Those two balanced the whole damn thing on their backs.

And now, Heather is making a move to further her own future, which is a good thing to do.  And as she steps back, hoping that another will step forward, I think her and I both know that such is not to be.  Nobody will want to have that on their shoulders.  Nobody will want to work that hard.  It’s sad, horribly sad, but true.

So I raise my can of Vanilla Coke to you, UAA College Dems.  We have reached a parting of the ways.  May you rest in peace.  It was an effort by two good people to make something worthwhile to get people involved here on campus, and then to have that translate out to something more.  But it will perish because of a lack of those who want to get involved.  Perhaps someday, somebody will want to step forward and bring it back.  I hope so.

Au revoir, UAA Dems.  We hardly had time to get to know one-another, but like most things in life, it was a good run, and when one is trying to make a difference in this world, or just trying to do something productive, that is about all that you can hope for.

Peace out,

Eli

Partisanship has Always Been Around

So, I got the most recent edition of the paper when I returned to UAA to resign my contract for the next year.  Annoying, but whatever.  I got to read an article written by a very articulate and very passionate writer at The Northern Light named Brett Frazer.  He wrote a very good article, but I will admit that I do disagee with parts of what he says.

His article talks about partisanship in this country, and how it is a very big problem that people are not devoting enough time to thinking about and not realizing what a dangerous issue it actually is.  I don’t disagree with his conclusion, just some main points.  And since I’m always looking for a new concept for my professional blog, I thought I would address that.  Here is giving a shout out to Brett Frazer, for giving me today’s blog idea.

In any case, partisan warfare has always been around, in my opinion.  The only real difference between then and now is that back in the day, they didn’t have the platform that we have in this country today.  A YouTuber by the name of Pat Condell made an assertion that the “9/11 Mosque” (the worst moniker that I have heard in a long time) divided America like nothing ever has.  But he missed it too.

The fact is that partisan battles have been going on in this country since we have had a country.  We call it partisanship, but truly it’s just different ways of thinking.  Even back when America had only one partly, the liberal and conservative way of thinking often clashed.  They clash because it is in their nature.

Frazer quoted Jon Stewart in his article, and rightly so, but there is another quote by Stewart that I think works much better to describe the modern atmosphere of politics in this country.

The embarassment is that I’m given credibility in this world because of the disappointment the public has in what the news media does.”

Stewart argued on Chris Wallace’s show on Fox Sunday that the “liberal media” that Fox so unabashedly attacks is not some huge liberal counterweight to their massively overwhelming conservative and Republican bias.  They are more sensationalistic and somewhat lazy.  He also pointed out when Wallace said that Fox viewers are happy to be getting “the other side of the story” that studies consistently show that Fox viewers are consistently misinformed.

But he is right, none of the 24-hour news networks are innocent in it all.  Personally, I get my straight news from PBS and BBC.  But I like the political commentary of Rachell Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, and Keith Olbermann.  I don’t like Ed Schultz all that much.  His mannerisms are way too much like a liberal Rush Limbaugh.

However, partisanship in this country is definitely not a new thing.  Back in the days before the Civil War the partisan lines were pretty clear.  Frazer quotes George W. Bush from 1992 for bringing about the huge partisan movement in this country on the premise of a kind of holy war.  While he did start something pretty major, the fact is that part of what we are seeing today is brilliant political manuevering by the conservative elements in this country.

My good friend, John Aronno, had a thought about modern politics.  It used to be in the 90’s that the Democrats and liberal and progressive elements of this country could talk about the real issues, like legalizing pot, gay marriage, getting rid of DADT (we finally got to that, but there was a gap), all sorts of things, and it was accepted.  There was real debate.  However, the modern political landscape has been for at least the last nine or ten years that the conservatives go further and further to the right and get increasingly more crazy with their ideas, keeping the liberal and progressive and even the moderate elements from not even bringing anything to the debate table.  They are kept too busy trying to stop the insanity that they can’t do anything for the issues that actually matter.

I don’t think some of what has happened with modern politics is all partisanship in the way Frazer does.  I think that partisanship has evolved into a game of chess.  I am absolutely with Frazer when I say that it shouldn’t be a chess board with pieces on one side and the other, but the fact is that this is what it has become.

But more than that, the entire system is crooked, from top to bottom.  One of the key things that Obama said during the campaign was how the problems that sunk our economy couldn’t be fixed by keeping things the same.  And now he has two of the guys who got us into this mess in the first place as his chief economic advisors.  Economic Reform was a joke.  Elizabeth Warren was put (sort of) in charge of yet another toothless government agency.

The partisanship in this country is a problem, but it is a problem that has always been around, and will continue to be around.  The biggest problem, in my opinion, is that the entire system is built around this government really working for the lobby groups, and the American people not choosing to stand up and get involved because they are so apathetic because of seeing how unpleasant modern politics is.

Another good quote from John –

The reason voting doesn’t work is because nobody does it.”

Peace out,

Eli

Netroots Bloggers Asking Good Question: Where is the Obama We Elected?

So, my friend, and husband of the leader of the UAA College Democrats, John Aronno, went down to Netroots, which has been in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  For those of you who don’t know, the annual Netroots gathering is a big shindig of left-leaning political activists and bloggers.  If only I had the money, I would go down.  Oh well, c’est la vie.  In any case, John got to go and be a part of one of the most impressive events for left-wing politics.  This year has some pretty amazing speakers.  Sen. Al Franken is probably the really big one, and by far one of the best.  But today there was an discussion with one of the President’s closest aid’s, Dan Pfeiffer.  This was a pretty impressive dialogue, if you have the chance to see it.  There was an interesting hit made by one of Obama’s biggest left-leaning critics, a blogger named Kaili Joy Gray.

We’re all Democrats, and we all understand the importance of making sure Democrats are in power, but they might not turn out in the same way the did in 2008.  You know, some people are saying, ‘I’ll show up on election day, but I’m not gonna knock on doors, I’m not gonna make phone calls, I’m not gonna donate money.  So, do you need us?

When Pfeiffer replied, “absolutely,” she asked an even better question –

What are you going to do for us?

So far, Obama’s track record has, sucked.  That is the general consensus among the hardcore liberal community, or at least, most of it.  He has accomplished some things, but the bulk of his campaign promises were either hopelessly watered-down, or he didn’t deliver at all.  Gitmo is still open.  Instead of getting us out of two wars, we are now involved in three more.  Healthcare Reform was a joke.  Economic Reform was also a joke.  So when the liberal community asks, “where is President Obama?” that is a pretty fair question.

Amy Goodman, the lead reporter on Democracy Now echoed this sentiment on CNN today.  The big question really is becoming – where does he stand?  During the Bush Tax Cuts episode, when the Democrats wanted to fight it out, Obama turned on his own party.  He turned on the liberal community.  He even blamed us for what was going on, saying that we were holding the American people hostage.  This is not a good reputation that a person in politics in this country needs to have.  He has openly attacked the left base that he has because they don’t open all of their statements with his praises the same way the right does of Bush still.  The sad fact is that Obama has a very bad problem with his pattern of periodically turning his back on his campaign promises and his own base when it serves him.

Of course, those who support him say that these things are going to happen.  Yes, they aren’t happening now, they didn’t happen back then, when Congress was MUCH more in favor of the Democrats and it would have been infinitely easier to do.  Instead, his supporters just keep promising that that greener pasture is just over the hill.  One question that John King asked to an Obama supporter was, does he have a choice about the appointment of Elizabeth Warren.  What was even more interesting was that the guy said yes.  Really?!  Does this guy actually believe that his base is going to just ignore it if he decides to ignore Warren?  That’s crazy.  No, he doesn’t have a choice.  Because Elizabeth Warren is the best thing that the middle class has going for it right now.  If he passes over her, he can kiss 2012 goodbye, or at least a lot of his base.

Another cool point in the discussion with Pfeiffer was if Obama would support same-sex marriage.  Of course, Pfeiffer didn’t want to answer one way or the other.  Kissing butt is a lot easier when everybody likes you.  The President has spoken out against same-sex marriage in the past.  The survey that Gray referred to was actually found out to be a fraud, but she then countered – would he?  Same-sex marriage is becoming a bigger and bigger issue in this country.  The old bigotries are finally starting to let up in a lot of places.  In California, the fight is still going on, and still going strong.  It’s ironic that I agree with a Libertarian, but I do think the government should have no say in who is allowed to marry.  King said that Pfeiffer drew the short straw, but the fact is that Obama could actually come out and say he will support something.  It’s okay.  People in this country are actually pretty understanding, most of the time.

Amy Goodman is one of my favorite reporters.  Democracy Now is one of my favorite news shows.  She went back to the key point –

Well, I think the operative words that Cornell was saying is ‘gonna, he’s gonna do this, we think he’s gonna do this,’ but I mean he’s had a number of years right now, to fulfill his promises.

So often is the contention among Obama supporters that things are going to happen.  This was how he got into office in 2008, and apparently how he is hoping to keep his seat come 2012.  That’s not going to work, President Obama.  Sorry, but the fact is that it is not going to work to tell people who you have rebuffed and openly attacked that you will decide to come around and deliver.  He hasn’t delivered very well before, what will change?  He didn’t deliver back when the Democrats had a super-majority in both the House and Senate.  If he couldn’t deliver back then, what is going to change in 2012?  What if there are more Republicans in the House and Senate?  Say he wins and they have a majority in both houses?  What will he do then?  This question is valid – what happened?  How is history not going to repeat itself?

Can we get an answer, Mr. President?  Probably not.  Whenever somebody asks a politician these questions, they generally just feed the public a bunch of schtick.  I hope John is having fun.  I am actually having fun watching it all play out.

Peace out,

Eli

Eli’s Review: Too Big to Fail

There are certain films that are designed for an express purpose.  They want to convey a certain thought process, feeling, or reaction from the audience.  There are films like the abominations against rational thought, also known as the Twilight series, which were made for the sole purpose of making teen girls are warm for…one of the stalker guys’ forms, it could go either way.  Then there are films like The Social Network, where it wanted you to think about personal betrayal and the journey from being a nobody to having the world.  There are also films like The Sky Crawlers, which shows the rather cold world eternal warfare, and gets you to think about how pointless war is and how it inevitably doesn’t help anybody.

Good films actually require a person to think.  It is never enough, at least for this critic, to simply sit down and just start blankly at a screen and look at the pretty colors.  That was how Avatar got so many people to love it.  A story so cliche that it was beyond parody, and a vaguely racist character paradigm where the white man becomes better and being native than the natives.  But a truly great film is able to rise above that, to challenge a person’s way of thinking, and to even get them to think a little deeper about something that they hadn’t even had the courage to think about before.  It is a rare few films that truly go the distance in that category.

The film Too Big to Fail was an absolute masterpiece when it comes to getting the audience to think.  The fact that it is based on a true story make the point that it makes about society and the banking industry, and the politics of economics in this country that much more powerful and almost disturbing in parts.

A little background, this is a brand new film.  It was being shown at a meeting of the UAA College Democrats, of which I am a member.  It was shown at the home of John and Heather Aronno.  Two of the most politically active people that you will ever meet, if anybody in Anchorage has the chance.  Tonight was pretty fun, before and after the film.  But enough of the personal stuff, back to one of the most intriguing films that I have ever seen, and that is saying something.  Truthfully, it is the fact that this is based on a true story that is so powerful and so profoundly disturbing.  Truly, most Americans have no idea how close this country’s economy came to a complete meltdown.

I won’t lie, I am going to be laying out the plot of the film, but honestly, it is the delivery and the portrayal of the people who got this nation so close to disaster and then saved it that gives this film the genuine power that it has.  This film tells the story of the 2008 meltdown.  A rather interesting trick that this film uses is it combines the use of clips from actual news broadcasts with the story being played out.  The clips are used to drive home what part of the film they were talking about.  In a way, it was showing how the events that were unfolding were being shown to the people.  It almost seemed to be a mechanism to show how ignorant people in this country were of what was happening.

And the fact is that we truly were ignorant.  We have no idea how close we came to having our economy collapse.  There was a speech by Paul Giamatti’s character, Ben Bernanke, who was Chairman of the Federal Reserve, which was so powerful.  Pity I have been kind of exhausted all day, because I wish that I could remember it with clarity.  He spoke about how he had spent his entire academic time studying the Great Depression, and the writing was as clear as day to him that the country was in imminent trouble.  It couldn’t have been any better.

The fact is that every single person who was cast in this picture was brillianet.  William Hurt played Henry Paulson, the Secretary of the Treasury.  He was working with all of his might to stave off the potential disaster that was facing the country.  The efforts he was taking, and the level of committment were destroying him, on a physical as well as emotional level.  One can only imagine how stressful such a position would be in.  Plus, there was no clear solution, and everybody had their own agendas that they were playing at, which made his job even harder.  I could go through every role and how they are all perfect, but the fact is that that would take all night.  But there isn’t a single person who is miscast in this film.  It was made for HBO, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is absolutely awe-inspiring.

But the thing that truly sticks with you in this film is the fact that this kind of disaster could happen again.  The housing bubble, the very thing which caused the economic meltdown to happen in the first place (when it burst in late 2007) is back.  While it will take a lot of time to grow, the fact is that it is growing again.  Not only that, but China’s own bubble is on the verge of bursting, and that could spell a lot of trouble for this country, since we live in a global economy.  Plus, we still have the concept of Too Big to Fail in this country, which makes this even worse.  There were a series of textual epilogues that said that 10 banks now possess 77% of this entire country’s wealth.  Too Big to Fail is the understatement of the year.  We absolutely cannot afford to have these places fail on us now.  If that were to happen, I guess Bernanke and I are on the same page.  But, there seems to be no way to stop it now.

This film was powerful, and in a very profound way for me.  The fact is that it is so easy for people to just not pay attention to what is going on.  It is so easy for people to just go with the flow, but we need to pay more attention.  We need to keep tabs on what is going on, or we may start hearing about how things are getting very bad, very quickly.

Until next time, a quote,

“I don’t get it, why are we debating this? If they go down, you all will.”  -Ben Bernanke, Too Big to Fail

Peace out,

Maverick

Depending on the Constitution

There are a lot of issue that nobody really thinks about too heavily anymore that are not talked about in the American zeitgeist.  Or rather, they are talked about, but they are not given the attention that they deserve because people want to make the problem simpler, and what’s more, they want to make the problem go away.  They don’t want to think too heavily about it, because they don’t want to admit that there is a problem.  That part of the issue makes sense to me.  The world is a hopelessly complicated place.  Everybody wants everything to be simpler.  Look at organized religion, and tell me I’m wrong.  But the fact is that things aren’t simple.  Things are actually very complicated, and there is a problem with that.

My friend, and fellow political person, John Aronno, once said that there was a time in this country (the 90’s.  I know, ancient history) when things that actually matter could be talked about in government.  You could talk about gay marriage, gun legislation, legalizing pot.  You could talk about these things.  But John also pointed out how the new strategy of the conservative party (the Republicans) in this country is to bring legislation to the table that is so unbelievably insane that the liberal community is constantly forced to fight back to keep the insane from being turned into law (I’m talking to you, South Dakota, with your proposed legislation to kill abortion providers!).

The reason that I bring this up is because there is an argument that is used in this country that is horribly used.  The fact is that it has been used too often.  The argument is the one that “it’s in the Constitution, therefore, it is absolutely correct.”  A lot of people are not going to like this reporter, but the fact is that this needs to be talked about.  The fact is that the Constitution is not a complete infallible work of genius that isn’t open to interpretation.

Ex-governor Jesse Ventura once said, when he was asked on Joy Behar’s show on CNN, “…the Constitution says they can do it, it ends there!”  This is a huge logical fallacy.  This is a really ugly logical fallacy that people need to start understanding why it is so ugly, instead of just burying their head in the sand and saying “la-la-la, I can’t hear you!  The Constitution is backing me up, so I can’t hear you!”

See the above image, that is the way the people who only want to view the Constitution as never needing to be examined tend to view life.  This issue came up again after the shooting of Gabby Giffords.  She was gunned down by a crazed man who had an extended magazine and not only did he nearly kill the congresswoman, he killed a judge, and a small child.  I love the quote that Lawrence O’Donnell had, “I blame the individual for the first ten bullets.  I blame the law for the next 21.” 

After her shooting, the NRA quickly got up in arms about how there should be not talk of gun legislation in the wake of that event.  There was a lot of chest-thumping and things to be said from people like “the Constitution gives us the right to bear arms!”  There have been a ton of signs about that with the bigoted Tea Party protests.  Joyce Kaufman, said once, “I am convinced that the most important thing the Founding Fathers did to ensure me First Amendment rights was they gave me a Second Amendment.”  The hopeless ignorance in that is overwhelming.  Of course, she subsequently said, “if ballots won’t work, bullets will.”  (what a great way to encourage democracy, talk about killing people)

The Constitution of the United States of America is not a perfect document, ladies and gentlemen.  It is far from a perfect document.  People who want to believe it as infallible are people who are just looking to be used.  Granted, it is an amazing document.  You couldn’t get all the people in our government right now to be able to create a document like it.  But the problem is that it isn’t a perfect document.

Let’s examine the Second Amendment, for a moment.  If I were to interpret the Second Amendment loosely enough, I should be able to own an ICBM on my property, if I can afford it (an ICBM is an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile, for those of you who don’t know).  I have the right to bear arms.  So, I should be able to have that.  And let’s also examine this- do you know what arms was back in the days of the Founding Fathers?  Arms in those days was a musket that had no range, barely any accuracy.  It was a hopelessly cumbersome weapon that anybody could have, but few could make very useful.

The Founding Fathers had no idea what a weapon was.  They had no idea what today’s firearms look like!  They wouldn’t know what to do with a concept of a 30-round magazine!  The fact is that the Constitution suffers from something that many films suffer from- age.

Let’s look at a different law.  It used to be, back when there was still slavery in this country, that a slave counted as 3/5 of a person.  That’s right, black Americans, you used to be regarded as 3/5 of a person, once upon a time.  Can you imagine if somebody tried to propose something like that today?!  There would be all manners of chaos breaking out in the street!  It would be insanity of the worst kind! 

So, when you are defending a position, like building an Islamic community center in New York City near the site of Ground Zero, or when you are going to talk about keeping extended magazines on the shelves and have it be 17 cents to kill a politician in this country, don’t use the Constitution as your own defense of your position.  The fact is that that is ignorance.  It is not having to think too deeply and not having to defend yourself too vigorously, while you pretend to be knowledgable about something.  That kind of thinking is not good, for either the liberals or the conservatives.

Peace out,

Maverick

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