A weblog on Alaska politics, and other musings, ramblings, and vagaries.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The Moral Bankruptcy of Sean Parnell

I was, of course, glad when Princess Dumas of the Northwoods (short version) abdicated in favor of Commander Zero, both because it was good to see her gone and because I liked Parnell.  I thought him a decent sort who might make a reasonable governor. 

I have never been more wrong.  General political disagreements aside, Parnell's career as Governor has been an unparalleled portrait in political cowardice.  His abject fear of the Tea Party and religious right has driven him to adopt policies that cross the line from simple wrongheadedness to a moral bankruptcy that is entirely unforgivable.

I'm not talking here about about oil taxes - I'm no great fan of Princess Dumas' tax policy, nor do I like the misleading politics that Hollis & Co. are playing on this issue.  I didn't think Commander Zero's ideas were all that hot, but there's a lot of room for reasonable disagreement.

This is most centrally about two things: education funding and Medicare expansion.  On education funding, there's been a mulit-year strategy through which he is shafting kids out of their chance at a decent education to kowtow to the religious right, who want public money to fund their Christian madrassas.  Worse still, on Medicaid expansion, though, Parnell's transparent political cowardice and the price he is making other pay for it are simply astounding.  Just to appeal to Tea Party idiots who don't like Mitt Romney's universal health insurance plan cuz the Kenyan Usurper got his cooties on it, he is literally willing to turn down buckets of free money and, much worse, literally condemn people to death.  It is both mind boggling in its stupidity and "almost awesome in its evilness."

As Mom used to say, it makes me so mad I could spit ...

Monday, March 31, 2014

VOTE FOR (YOUR NAME HERE)!!

I am certainly not known to have my finger on the pulse of the Republican Electorate, and thus Alaska election predictions are well out of my wheelhouse.  Nor do I have any great estimation of the intelligence of that sector of the populace (koffkoff Joe Miller koff). That said, I will indeed be at least slightly surprised if they go in for the bland and uninspiring corporate phoniness projected by the (other) Dan Sullivan for Senate! campaign.

Case in point, Cap'n Dan's recent "editorial" on healthcare policy.  This is a document not so much written as excreted.  There is absolutely nothing demonstrating any level of thoughtfulness, vision, or leadership, nor is there anything that speaks to any particularized Alaskan concerns regarding this important topic.  Instead, it's just a grab-bag of generic Republican talking points that any right wing press flack might have tossed up in any one of two dozen Senate races.

Now, I obviously have many substantive disagreements with the R's on the issue of Obamacare, and there is certainly room for good faith disagreements (not that we've ever had such a discussion).  My own issue with Cap'n Dan, though, is that, although he is supposed to be the Thinking Man's Republican, he has fully immersed himself in both the bat$h!t crazy BS that has taken over that side of the aisle ("Socialism!! Benghazi!!") and the bad faith obstructionism that defines their zero sum politics.  Personally I have great regard for Dan, but as a Senator he would be nothing but another ambitious, unprincipled schmuck fully willing to heave to and help the R leadership push us all over the cliff to meet their short-term goals.  His "editorial" is fully consistent with that.  There is not a single idea or proposal regarding the real issue of access to health care - he's just trying to con the suckers into another "tremendous bleating of 'Four legs good, two legs bad!'"  There's really no difference between Cap'n Dan and Tea Party Joe.

But that's me.  What I wonder is whether the suckers will really buy into Cap'n Dan's schtick.  Again, this "editorial" really could have been crapped out by any press flack in any House or Senate race anywhere in the US.  Are Dan's flyby's in AK really going to do the trick in convincing the True Believers that he's one of them?  Do they really not care who is running against Begich?  Maybe so ...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dios Me Guia!

Let us all remember that God is Love. Unless you're a little girl who doesn't want to get all tarted up for the Little Miss Sunshine Pageant, that is - then God hates you and wants you to feel ostracized and worthless.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Derp Van Dyke

Being a resident of a deeply red state, I've become more and more used to uninformed opinion.  My favorite style (in the "screechiest nails on the blackboard" sense) is the Palinesque Lecture, in which an underpowered Conservative Intellect condescendingly explains to all those Liberal Smartyboots out there that his/her through-the-looking-glass understanding of things is obviously correct, and they're all just Big Dummies.  Classics include "Of Course Concealed Carry Laws Make Us All Safer, Because An Armed Society Is A Polite Society" and "Of Course If You Allow Poor Kids To Eat Lunch They'll Develop Weak Moral Character."  Forget every reputable analysis that's ever been done - we have Truthiness on our side, and this meme got a big hand at CPAC!

For a pure "wtf?!?!" factor, however, it will be hard to beat the stupefying natterings of local Wealthy White Stay At Home Mom With Too Much Time On Her Hands Joanne Pantages.  "Of course," Ms. Pantages explains to all those silly liberals out there, "we should be able to direct public money to religious schools.  After all, as taught on the Dick Van Dyke Show so long ago, just moving the money to a different account doesn't change who the money belongs to, and when was the last time you saw anyone named "Public" spend any money? There is no such person! So, it's still my money, and I can spend it where I want, and I want to have kids learn Creation Science and to get a new scarf at Nordstroms."

I am first appalled at the ADN for allowing this even on the editorial page.  Apparently even the most basic understanding of civics is no longer required, and people can take signficant space on the editorial page to spew out obviously arrant BS. 

As for Ms. Pantages, she really needs to stop writing - please, just stop.  Either she is honestly expressing her understanding, which is really just sad, or she is just trying to market this bill with ... well, with obviously arrant BS.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Crows


The crows, they understand something

It’s 15 degrees, ice is clogging the Inlet,

and the wind is howling in from the North,

flowing around the buildings downtown

like it’s got somewhere to be

And there are the crows

one to my right doing loops and somersaults

a piece of bread in his claws

one to my left playing “touch the treetop”

holding steady over a branch that could never hold his weight

taps it with his foot and then does a barrel roll

to get away from his buddy

Buddy’s swooping in at high speed

The low winter sun catches him and he glows

Golden black

He catches the branch in his mouth

and swings free to the other side

Monday, December 09, 2013

I am a deeply cynical creature, and one thing that leads me to espouse in politics is the concept of "reversion to the partisan mean."  That is to say, the guys out there talking about putting aside partisanship and making grand "reach-across-the-aisle" gestures really mean "you all should come over to my side" and will, in due course, return to the fold.  See Rubio, Marco - Immigration; Romney, Mitt - Health Insurance Reform; etc.  That being said, I was pleasantly impressed by this op ed by perennial (per-quadrennial?) gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker.  Could this be a sighting of the rare Principled Independent?  Probably not - TANSA, as my calculus teacher used to say (math guy for "there ain't no such animal") - but I'm keeping an open mind.

... and let's face it, just about anything would be better than the sadly cynical and frankly dimwitted "leadership" offered by Commander Zero.  Again, deeply cynical though I am, Zero's morally, ethically, and intellectually bankrupt decision to burnish his "nobody hates that commie black feller what stole the White House more than me" credentials by literally condemning poor people to death was frankly shocking.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Malthusians, Luddites & Marxists, oh my!

Mother Jones blogger Kevin Drum gets into a snit with modern Aasimovians over one of the nerdiest arguments ever: will smart robots lead us all to a paradise of plenty, or to a hellhole of poverty and misery?  The trouble with these discussions is that it is hard for many to get past the nerdy veneer (yeah, it does kind of smell like one of those "Superman vs. Batman" discussions the stoner comic book kids used to have). 

But you should get past it if you can, because it leads to some fantastically interesting and meaningful stuff.  The great thing about older science fiction (Aasimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, etc.) is that it used science and technology as a platform for discussion of meaningful questions about human nature and society.  This genre was premised on the recognition that the human condition is eternal, and that scientific and technological advancement are simply a new vehicle for the age-old questions of how we deal with the corrupting influence of power and greed.

Of late, however, in our present age of digital triumphalism, technologists seem to believe that they have created something entirely new that should not be bound by old-thought conventions.  [Antitrust law? Pah! Those silly old rules don't apply to us!]  To my mind, this is a dangerous way of thinking.  In terms of intellectual and moral capacity, we have not changed significantly in the last 50,000 years (I often remember my Earth Sciences teacher doing a lesson on the nature of geologic time, driving home the point that modern humans are really pretty new and that 50,000 years is not a long period of time.  He showed a slide of some cavemen dressed in furs and said, "any one of these guys could have gone to Dartmouth."  True dat.)

The point is only this: scientific and technological advancements necessarily increase the value of capital and decrease the value of labor.  As such, they always raise the possibility of increased economic oppression of the working classes.  The question is whether we have developed social mechanisms that allow us to adjust to the new economic conditions. 

I believe Drum is right to raise the question, and Beeson is wrong to dismiss the problem.  True enough: society adjusted to the techonological displacements of the industrial revolution and we created a prosperity more broadly shared than human society had ever known.  It took decades of terrible violence and social upheaval for this to happen, however, and it was no sure thing.  What will happen now?