Q: Hitler – Ripe for comedy or still taboo?
A: What is the answer? Is there one? You tell me.
An article on Huffington Post writes that House Republicans just voted down the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2010. Almost everything you need to know about the bill is in the title. The major “problem” Republicans had with the bill (even those who initially supported it) is that it uses taxpayer money for abortion. Yep, once again a largely male congress is trying to legislate against a women’s uterus. The disappointing thing? (Other then the bills defeat?) Desmond Tutu and Mary Robinson (the former president of Ireland) both wrote Op-Ed columns supporting America’s finally speaking out against such marriages. Wow. Once again I am OH SO PROUD to be an American.
The internet is a beautiful and deadly place. It lets one share their ideas, discuss them, have them applauded, shut down or ignored. We can address global problems while simultaneously creating new ones. It is the home of knights and trolls, thinkers and speakers, the oppressed and the oppressors. The ultimate beauty of the internet is that, unlike the outside world, the oppressors are in the minority. If I’m being bullied on one site, I can always move to another. It is quiet the opposite here in the world of countries, republics, empires and nation-states where my movement is strictly controlled by my nationality and presentable papers. It’s enough to make one feel like an AKC half-breed whose documents have been barely authenticated. I speak of this as a born-and-bred American citizen not even as a jaded and green-card carrying immigrant whose place remains untenable until the final swearing in and oath taking.
“I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands…
The United States was founded as a republic and we continue to call ourselves one. That means that we, as it’s citizens, retain control over our government. We apply the Mandate of Heaven, so to speak. That Mandate, which is expressed clearly and succinctly in our own Declaration of Independence, goes that (1) we have “unalienable” rights that we (2) secure by forming governments. These “governments are instituted among Men” and derive “their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed…” The governed includes myself. In my opinion, it includes anyone who calls the United States of America home; legalized or not.
This lengthy introduction brings me to the case of recent internet (and print) cause célèbre Julian Assange. Assange is a former internet hacker who is also the founder of WikiLeaks, a website which collects and releases government documents on the web. As of this writing, almost 500K pages on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been released onto the internet.
Such an idea, leaking classified documents to the world, was not possible to this extent 10 years ago. Maybe even fewer years ago then that. Now, such information dumps are instantaneous. Anyone with access to the internet can read about the documents or download them and read them for themselves. The internet is simply incredible in that it allows an individual unprecedented access to the world, to others and to ones own government.
What this has to do with the American Republic is simple: a Republic wouldn’t be afraid of transparency. A Republic would be proud of what it had accomplished and would spread that information with the world. Even if they aren’t proud of some actions there is still such a thing as responsibility and owning up to ones faults. It’s called being an adult.* You’d think a government run by supposedly mature adults would be aware of such a thing. If they aren’t, what are they doing there?
In conclusion, the ultimate idea of transparency within a Republic is best expressed in a quote by the playwright George Bernard Shaw: “If you have skeletons in the closet……you may as well make them dance.”
*Of course, it goes without saying, everyone has some secrets that they’d rather not share. I know I do. That doesn’t mean people shouldn’t know them, even if I don’t want them to. It should also be said, however, that we all make mistakes. It is simply a fact of life and cannot be changed.
I’m gonna try and make this short and sweet, but no promises.
Joe Miller is pissing me off. Not just me, but the Alaska Republican Party as well. To save my Facebook friends’ news feeds from my periodic bitching I shall do the aforementioned bitching entirely in one place using the article linked above.
The Associated Press last week called the race for Murkowski, who had a 10,328-vote lead over Miller. Her total includes 8,159 ballots contested by Miller observers. Excluding those, she had a 2,169-vote lead.
State law stipulates that write-in ballots must have the provided oval filled in and the candidate’s last name or name written as it appears on their declaration of candidacy.
“Defendants nevertheless have decided to ignore the statute and create ‘exceptions’ to count ballots that do not satisfy these clear requirements,” the 21-page lawsuit filed in Fairbanks states. “By so doing the defendants have violated the mandatory legislative requirements and fundamentally altered the election.”
No, the defendants haven’t altered the election. Even if the Division of Elections stripped Murkowski of those 8K contested ballots she’d still will. The election would not have been fundamentally altered as she would win anyway. Remember those 2K votes?
The state, however, cites case law in counting Murkowski ballots containing misspellings or those phonetic to her name. Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell, who oversees elections, defends the procedure and says the state doesn’t want to disenfranchise any voters.
The complaint maintained that write-in candidates like Murkowski have a substantial advantage because of the state’s practice of hand-reviewing write-in ballots to determine voter intent. Ballots for other candidates went through automatic machines.
The Alaska Republican Party has urged Miller to concede.
I’m not a fan of pilfering information from other people’s blogs or websites, but this is good. Good enough that I think it should be shared.
This is a quote from the Nov. 2010 editorial by Jim Nelson, editor of GQ:
What I want to know from Tea Partiers RE their hot simmering rage is, Where was it before? When it was called for—when your country needed it. Why weren’t you fired up and out in the streets in your colonial britches when President Bush drunk-drove the country into the hell of the Iraq war, which not only put our troops in harm’s way but has cost us—and here’s where I thought you might relate—possibly $900 billion (!) of your tax money? (More if you count the cost of caring for our soldiers, and please do.) Tea Partiers! Compatriots! We could have used your rage, your rabid hatred of taxation, and your Magic Markers in that fight. But you were nowhere to be found, because your anger had not yet been funded by corporate interests.
I was invited to join a group called the UAF Campus Democrats. As a liberal individual I heartily accepted. I was excited. For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while now, you know with what frequency I engaged this blog into the political fray. I wanted more. I wanted to do more. I wanted to both comment on politics and help influence them.
Except that I have a problem. Not with the clubs members, the club, or it’s principles. The problem is me.
As a journalist I feel being affiliated with any political organization is seen as a bias. As a matter of fact, I am an Undeclared voter. Just like 37 percent of all Alaskans.
And let me tell you something. It sucks. As one of my oldest friends used to say: “this sucks large unpleasant things.” Attempting to maintain objectivity is exhausting and impossible. I have my own opinions…I have my own bias. The real challenge is being aware of them and acknowledging them. However, acknowledging them and limiting them is not the same as indulging them. As a news writer there has to be some ethical line that cannot be crossed. This is that line. Stepping over it may only be seen as a breach of ethics to myself, but I am my toughest critic and I expect perfection.
So, to my friends in the club-that-I-cannot-participate-in-due-to-that-pesky-thing-called-“ethics”: I apologize. I wanted to join you so much that I almost compromised my ethics to accompany you. Take that as a compliment. My philosophical inclinations support you but my sense of journalistic neutrality stops me dead in my tracks. Go on with out me and know that I’m rooting you on from the sidelines.
“So, what SHOULD we be doing now?”
Midterm Election season is over and gone are the campaign ads and annoying robocalls, at least for now. What this election really meant and how it will shape the nation remains to be seen and there is plenty of speculation and attempts at precognition out there amongst the professional pundits, so I will spare you my analysis. The real question that comes to my mind in the wake of this topsy-turvy anything goes election cycle is “So, what SHOULD we be doing now?”
For many people, the answer is simple. They will slip back into the shadows, content that they have won the day for/against such and such ideology. Others are already looking to the next election, trying to figure out what went wrong and what was done right, and what moves are needed for the future. And yet others will continue to sit out of the whole process, convinced that neither party represents their interests. In my time of working behind the scenes in party politics, this is the most frustrating mindset to encounter. There’s no denying that both parties have their flaws, but in my experience the greatest flaw of the party system is one that is so easily fixed. It’s called “participation”. You see, any organization, be it political party, local church, Boy Scout troop, or book club, is only as good as the people who participate in it.
So if you want to make an impact on Alaskan or American politics, get involved! It’s a great way to be informed about what’s going on, who the candidates and elected officials are and what they really stand for, and to ensure that the two party system works effectively. If you are a student at UA-Fairbanks, there are groups for both college Republicans and Democrats, as well as regional party affiliates to the state party organizations. I won’t lie, it’s not always easy or rewarding, but in my opinion it beats sitting on the sidelines. To quote Theodore Roosevelt, “It is not the critic who counts… The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings…” So I encourage young people to take up the fight, be the change you want to see in the world, and contribute to the political discussion in the state, because it’s your future too.
Disclosure: James Shewmake is the Vice President of the Alaska Young Democrats and student leader of the UAF Campus Democrats club. He has been active in party politics since 2002.
It seems as if the tide has turned against the Democratic Party and it’s agenda. However, the semi-watershed moment of this past Nov. 2nd should be painted not as a rout, but as a tactical withdrawal. Democrats need to use this opportunity to show that they are the underdogs. That they are the rebels.
They need to show that a wild, uncontrolled and powerful fringe movement has undermined not what Americans want but what they need.
This requires three things:
What do you say, my fellow affiliated and/or unaffiliated friends?