For anyone who doesn't remember, the first post consisted of this brief introduction...
Friday, February 24, 2006
Welcome to West Michigan Politicsposted by Pol Watcher @ 2/24/2006 10:14:00 AMThe site will be your source for coverage of the West Michigan political scene (as well well as state and national politics especially when it affects our area). We hope to bring you the news that the mainstream media won't dare to cover. I will rely on you, the reader, to help by supplying me with leads and background info that will help to uncover the stories that will shape our area and our state for years to come. Stay tuned...
For those who've wondered why I started this site, I figure an anniversary present to the readers of this site would be an explanation of why I'm doing this.
I found blogs, from the best my memory can construct, in the days and weeks after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. I had become increasingly disturbed by the nature of media coverage in the wake of the tragedy as news sources became propaganda outlets for an administration more and more obviously using the horrific event to achieve unrelated parts of their political agenda especially as the smoke cleared and the NeoCon plans for an invasion of Iraq were becoming clearer. More likely, they'd been propaganda outlets all along but I was no longer immune to the fact that one of the world's largest defense contractors owned a major TV network and that war not only boosted their bottom line by demanding more weapons but it also was a ratings bonanza as Americans sat down to watch the newest Hollywood blockbuster meets reality show meets country music anthem. Yes, you could watch bombs kill foreigners while listening to Toby Keith and feeling like a red-blooded real American patriot.
At first I wasn't really seeking out blogs, at the time I doubt I had even really heard the term or even if I had most likely I still assumed them to be the bored ramblings of college students who thought all their friends and family would like to know what they ate for breakfast that day. I found that blogs were more openly questioning of the dubious claims that we all now realize weren't true. Anyone who cared to look could have found numerous instances of scholars and experts openly debating and discussing the lack of evidence or the cooking of intelligence to make the case for war, but you wouldn't find it in the mainstream, corporately-owned and advertising revenue-driven media.
As the country descended into war fever, not bothering to stop and ask if it was necessary or just, I went to blogs more and more for solace. During the dark days of Mission Accomplished and Last Throes, I found myself spending more and more time on-line. And while I saw many people attempting to start their own political blogs, I found most of them to be nothing more than people pointing to the blogs they read with little more to offer. The "link blogging" came to look like a snake eating its own tail or a circle jerk more than an effort to educate or make a difference. At this time I really didn't consider blogging myself since I knew I couldn't do it better than the top tier bloggers such as the front pagers at The Daily Kos.
Finally the storm clouds starting to part and hope appeared on the horizon. As the failing effort in Iraq and the White House's lies became clearer to the public in the form of flag-draped coffins and sinking poll numbers I was finally able to do something besides despair. It was obvious the political winds were shifting and I wished to be a part of helping to end this dark period in American history. But what difference could ONE person make when the media had ignored the millions who spoke out and marched against a war they knew was bullshit? I certainly couldn't cover national politics better than the people I was reading and besides, how would I be heard amongst the hundreds, if not thousands, of other blogs talking about important national issues?
Meanwhile, closer to home Barry County had been suffering through an extended period of incompetence and even dangerously close to criminal leadership in the county government. A lifelong resident of Barry County and graduate of Hastings High School, I began to feel a desire to help fix what seemed so obviously wrong at the local level. Finally, I decided that the stories I was hearing in coffee shops and in private conversations weren't seeing the light of day or heard by anyone outside a tight knit circle of insiders. Despite the fact that I think the Hastings Banner turned a corner and finally began hammering what was wrong at the county board with their decision to begin running editorials which often called local leaders on the carpet, I still felt like it wouldn't touch some stories that deserved to be aired. County board elections were coming and State Representative Gary Newell's open seat was going to be hotly contested as well as contests for Senator and Governor.
I finally made up my mind that if no one else would get the truth out, that I had to do it. I'd waited for someone else who might do it better but time was running out. Like many a politician, I drafted myself. Despite not having the least bit of knowledge of HTML or web design I decided to start my own blog which would be based on trying to make a difference where I felt I could actually do it- at the local level. I knew enough people who knew what was going on behind the scenes that would help to make up for my deficiencies and inexperience in local politics. The funny thing is that despite the fact I probably seem to think I have all the answers, creating this blog has been on the best learning experiences in my life.
Before I end this little look back and self-congratulatory pat on my own back, I have one more thing to say: Start you own blog! You see that little button in the top right corner? It's that easy. Hit the button and go. Blogger is about as dummy proof as you can get (I'm sure some think I'm proof of that). The hardest part is keeping at it.
Oh, and one more thing. I'd like to thank the thousands of people who've visited this sight. And I'd especially like to thank the dedicated core of readers who come here even more than I do and whose comments help make this a more well-rounded and well-informed place of public discourse, a virtual town hall. I hope you'll all stick around for at least another year...