Monthly Archives: April 2014

How Politics Makes Us Stupid

I once used a quote from Thomas Jefferson as the inspiration for a website I once put together. “Whenever people are well-informed they can be trusted with their own government.”

During a long career in journalism, I saw my job as one of education – not uncovering a major or minor scandal or quoting those who are more loud than they are intelligent. I never was breathless.  I always said I could live comfortably among people who made informed decisions, even though we disagree.

When I finally retired a few years ago, I knew my purpose was fading. I was confused, though. I noticed that facts do not change votes. This week I read the best explanation yet of what has happened.

Here it is. 

Now I understand that public life will not change.  I still haven’t figured out what to do, but at least I am no longer burdened with Hope.


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AK House Displays Its Churchy Side With Xenophobic Resolution

Am I the only person to have trouble with this? The Alaska House today passed a resolution with the short title “Protection of Christian Syrians.”  Anchorage’s Andy Josephson voiced a little caution about the measure, saying it reminded him of where America’s mind was in 2003. However, he voted for it.

HJR 32 brings up a list of evil things that the Syrian regime has done to its Christian citizens – the massacre of Christians in Jihad attacks, burning Christian churches, kidnapping Orthodox Bishops and a Nun.  Agreed, that those were horrible things for a government to have done to its people. But if you look beyond what you see in conservative U.S. publications and churches you will also see a government that uses interfaith chemical weapons against people regardless of their beliefs.  It destroys huge parts of very large cities where there were lots of Korans and mosques.  Syria has a secular, conservative government fighting to hold on to its political and economic power.  It is not trying to spread religion. Only American conservatives see it as a religious government.

We who sometimes watch American politics also see this subject could become a possible rock the Republicans would throw at Democrats in this fall’s elections.  It would unabashedly be shouted as “Obama didn’t intervene.”

I hope the House soon becomes embarrassed by its willing extension of loopy thinking.  There’s no excuse for it.




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Democrats Might Want to Think It Over

Alaska House Democrats today told reporters that they will not support HB 384 that would increase the state’s minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $8.75 and then to $9.75 per hour in 2016. It would then remove the subject from legislative action with an annual recalculation of the numbers based on the cost of living.

If you think you’ve heard of that before, you have. It’s the same as a citizen’s initiative set to appear on this year’s ballots. It will likely win by a really large majority.

The House Republicans decided they needed to pass their own bill to take the question off the ballot. Especially since so many non-GOP people like it. Getting it off the ballot will remove the incentive for a lot of voters to go to the polls in August – leaving at home also their non-GOP votes on other issues and candidates. Based on legislative action, it will then allow the legislature to re-open the subject during next year’s session. If it’s on the ballot it must remain untouched for two years.

R’s are biting the bullet here for what they see as a payoff later.

Democrats think it’s better to have the question on the ballot, and they aren’t behind the GOP plan. If the legislation has any value, they’re right; but how can they vote – or act – against it? I doubt if any of those precious few politicians would get re-elected after being associated with this headline: “Democrats Turn Down Income Hike For the Working Poor.” It’s regrettable D’s,   but that’s what’s on the way. If you have to write a press release to explain your goofy vote, you better have the bumper stickers already printed. The R’s have done that by getting behind it.

It’s far better to support the bill you hate so that you can claim credit for passing it, save the cost of an advertising campaign and do away with the outside risk of  its losing at the polls.

The Senate R’s didn’t sound too excited about considering the question, so there’s a chance it won’t pass.

But that headline will remain.




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