I’m on vacation in Puerto Rico for the next five days and probably won’t be posting much due to a lack of good internet connection and a desire to, you know, be on vacation. Regularly scheduled program should resume by next Wednesday…

Mark Begich for US Senate

I’m happy to announce that I’ve joined Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich’s campaign to represent Alaska in the United States Senate. I’ll be working as the campaign’s Online Communications Director and I look forward to continuing to bring Democratic politics to Americans in exciting and dynamic ways over the internet. This also means that, for now, I will be shuttering Hold Fast.

I think the Alaska Senate race is going to be one of the most hard-fought opportunities for Democratic gains in America this cycle. Ted Stevens has represented Alaska in the Senate for forty years. He’s not so much a Senator in Alaska, as a symbol. And symbols are hard to beat. But I’m up for the challenge and I know Mark Begich is ready to lead.

It’s time for Alaska to retire Ted Stevens. From his unquestioning support of the Republican party line on endless war in Iraq, to his repeated votes for retroactive immunity for the big telecom companies, to his vociferous — if ill informed — opposition to net neutrality, to the ever-growing clouds of corruption that surround him, it’s clear to me that Alaska can do better than Ted Stevens.

I first spoke to Mark Begich last month. I’d been in talks with his campaign about coming on board and while I had heard good things about him, I wanted to get a better sense of what sort of person he was and what sort of candidate he will be. Ideally I would have had the meeting in person in Anchorage, but for time considerations, that just didn’t make sense. On Mark’s suggestion we instead had a Skype video conference call that lasted 40 minutes.

Beyond learning that Mark was very tech-savvy, I found him to be an interesting, smart person who was ready to take his career of public service for Alaska to another level. What stood out was that Mark is a dynamic politician with a good sense for solving problems. He impressed me with his experience building a successful health care system for Anchorage’s municipal employees in the face of massive rising private costs. Begich’s ideas for using a full slate of non-renewable and renewable energy sources prevalent in Alaska, combined with strong conservation efforts, to build an Alaskan energy policy that would make America more secure strike me as the sort of solution that could both win in Washington and free us from our dependence on foreign oil.

But most of all, when I asked him about what he thought of retroactive immunity and the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping Begich was able to show his appreciation for the US Constitution. Citing his civil libertarian tendencies, Mark made clear that he opposed retroactive immunity and he would stand up for the Constitution as a US Senator. I don’t know yet whether or not civil liberties will be a part of the discussion in Alaska this year, but I do know that Mark Begich will be another vote for the rule of law come January 2009. That’s an issue of immeasurable importance to me and I was glad to hear Mark is where we need more Senate Democrats to be.

There will be much more to come, but for now, please visit (the new version of which goes live later today), join the campaign’s email list, and stay tuned for updates from Alaska on the Begich blog.

Just A Thought

Between my vacation and the few days I’ve been back, I’ve pretty much focused my energies on writing about what is happening in Tibet. While I was away I was able to avoid probably 95% of the Clinton vs. Obama daily pie fights, which was refreshing beyond words. It’s harder for me to avoid them now, but I’m doing what I can.

Moreover, the presidential campaign and the daily pie fights continue to suck up a massive amount of oxygen in the news, beltway blogs, and, to a slightly lesser extent, the progressive blogosphere. With both the House and Senate on recess, there just isn’t that much that I’m feeling a hankering to write about right now, other than Tibet and a few passing things.

If this isn’t what you usually get from me, dear reader, I apologize and assure you I will be back on my moral high ground regarding civil liberties and FISA just as soon as the Senate reconvenes.

A Word to My Pro-China Commenters

In the last three weeks I’ve been getting volumes of comments from Chinese citizens, China supporters, and Chinese expats regarding Tibet. I have not approved any of them. You’re not seeing these comments on my site because I frankly don’t care to provide a forum for anti-Tibetan, historical revisionism on behalf of a country that has oppressed Tibetans for over 50 years and is responsible for the death of at least 1.2 million Tibetans in that time. This is my website. It, like China, is not a free country. But unlike China it is not a country – it’s just a blog run by me, a guy with things to write about the world around him. As such, I have no obligation to give people who not only disagree with me, but support policies of violence in response to calls for freedom and who cheer on the cultural genocide of Tibet.

That’s not to say that I don’t use this blog as a forum for discussion with people who don’t agree with me. I’ve had many Republican commenters who I argue with on FISA, Iraq, the rule of law, and torture policy (to name a few topics). But those are discussions that take place amongst people who, under the law, are equals. We may disagree, but neither side faces systemic efforts by the powers that be to literally destroy either of us for making our arguments. This is not the case when it comes to Tibet and China. In fact, the opposite is true.

Chinese government sympathizers have all the power in the dynamic. They have the guns, the troops, the money, and a terrifying willingness to use all of these things to control, subjugate, and marginalize Tibetans. Through population transfer, Han Chinese settlers now outnumber Tibetans in their own land. Through the addition of arbitrary lines on maps, China has fractured Tibet into so many pieces that it has changed what the world casually considers to be Tibet. In such a situation, I feel no need to give the oppressors space to continue their oppression in the marketplace of ideas online.

I choose not to give them one more platform, however small, to extend their hegemony and their efforts to silence Tibetans and their supporters. If any of my pro-China commenters have a problem with this, I have a suggestion for you. Rather than trolling my comments sections and making me delete dozens of your comments, go start your own blog and run it however you please.