fire - dog - lake - labtop

fire – dog – lake – labtop

It was early 2005.  The Iraq War was approaching its worst stage.  I was spending more time on-line, reading the news articles one couldn’t (and still cannot) find in the traditional media.  Political blogs were blossoming up like mushrooms after a warm Autumn rain.

One day, reading an article at Majikthise, one of the few blogs where I would occasionally comment, I followed a link to a blog with a strange name – firedoglake.  The next day, some other blog linked to an article here.  I bookmarked the site and started reading it regularly.

Soon, I decided to comment here.  It was risky, as I didn’t feel very knowledgeable on the issue at hand – can’t remember what it was – but felt I might add a little.  Within a few minutes, my comment was greeted by Jane Hamsher, who welcomed me, Edward Teller.

The blog was new then, and like a lot of lefty or lefty-ish sites then, it was much smaller, a pure labor of love by Hamsher and Christy Hardin Smith.  firedoglake was the first blog outside of Alaska where I began to regularly write comments.  I began to make a fair number of friends here.

As the campaigns in 2006 began to warm up and get going, I was able to introduce Diane Benson, the very progressive Alaska civil rights leader, running against Rep. Don Young, to a wider national audience through comments here, and articles at Down With Tyranny! Feedback on my comments here encouraged me as a writer, and helped me improve the way I organized essays.  Other commenters at “the lake” encouraged me to start my own blog, which I did in the Fall of 2007.

By the summer of 2008, Federal investigations into Alaska political corruption seemed to be homing in more and more on Rep. Young, and on the iconic Alaska U.S. Senator, Ted Stevens.  I suggested to Jane that we hold a poetry contest on Stevens similar to the one we had held on Dick Cheney, after he had shot his best friend in the face.  That had been called Dickfest.  We named the Stevens poetry contest, Tedfest.

After the many entries had been judged, I created a series of tubes with the poems wrapped around the outsides.  I then went to his campaign office in Anchorage to deliver them, and see if I could somehow manage lunch with the senior Senator for the winners.

a series of tubes for Uncle Ted

A series of tubes for Ted Stevens

That day coincided not only with the first anniversary of the FBI raid on Stevens’ Girdwood Alaska home, it also ended up being the day Stevens was arraigned on corruption charges.  When my friend videographer Dennis Zaki and I showed up at Stevens’ campaign HQ, people were understandably in disarray.

Soon afterward, Sarah Palin was chosen as Sen. John McCain’s running mate in the 2008 election.  As I live in Wasilla and had known Palin for almost 20 years, I felt obliged to let as many people as possible know just how unsuitable she was to be one step away from having the launch codes for thousands of thermonuclear devices.

anti Palin women's demonstration, September 2008, Anchorage

anti-Palin women’s demonstration – Anchorage – September 2008 – image by Philip Munger

On the other side of that coin, I knew she would inevitably fail, so I named the series of stories on her at my own blog Saradise Lost.  Some chapters were carried here, at The Seminal, and later, at MyFiredoglake.  The series ended up comprising five books, and hundreds of chapters.

With Obama’s election and the increasing disenchantment by the real left with his policies and actions, firedoglake has been one of the most courageous progressive blogs.  Our consistency has raised the ire of Rahm Emanuel and of one Obama press secretary after another.

On the issues of environmental degradation, fdl‘s contributors are often cited at other progressive sites for their informative articles.  Whether it is the Keystone XL pipeline, the Gulf BP disaster, or the continuing dangers of the Fukushima meltdowns, this community helps keep the public informed when the MSM doesn’t want to touch the subject, or just plain fucking lies to us.

No other multi-issue blog in existence has given the Occupy Wall Street movement and its amazing spinoffs the coverage available here.

On the intermingled issues of Palestinian rights, Israel’s descent into an incipient Ultra-Orthodox apartheid state, Operation Cast Lead and the Gaza flotillas, I’ve watched fdl grow from not wanting these subjects discussed (at one time, commenters would be moderated out for printing “AIPAC” in a comment), to being a very pragmatic, open-minded site, where people come to learn.  I’m fairly knowledgeable about this set of subjects, but sometimes am able to learn even more here, like when I was offered the opportunity to host J Street founder Jeremy Ben Ami here in a Firedoglake Book Salon about his recent book, A New Voice for Israel.

I also love contributing here to Art Saturdays and Food Sundays.

Most of all, I enjoy learning from, laughing with and going to battle alongside so many wonderful friends I’ve made here, in this simply amazing, growing community.

Please join us by  becoming a member of this vibrant family.