Saturday, October 03, 2015

Things Presidential Candidates And Their Handlers Say

An opinion piece in the LA Times pointed out that some US presidential candidates are beginning to explicitly express their previously euphamized prejudices.  After quoting Ben Carson's 'a Muslim shouldn't be president' remark,  Michael Finnegan gets a bizarre response from his campaign manager:
"Carson campaign manager Barry Bennett said the comments were justified because Islam calls for killing gay people (Muslim clerics say that’s untrue), and that’s incompatible with the Constitution (the Constitution says “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States”)."[emphasis added.]
It's not totally clear whether Bennett says that's incompatible or the author.  Presumably it's the author.  But in any case, is he really saying Carson's against an Islamic president because he's concerned about gay people?  Really?

I've looked for Carson previous support of gay anything, but I can't seem to find it.  Is that really the reason thinks a Muslim can't be president? 

From what I can tell online, after Carson said that prison made people gay,  he then apologized and said being gay was not a choice.  For most people going to prison isn't exactly a choice either. 

But if someone links pedophilia and bestiality with being gay, is there any doubt about what his views on gays?
"CARSON: Well, my thoughts are that marriage is between a man and a woman. It's a well-established, fundamental pillar of society and no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality. It doesn't matter what they are. They don't get to change the definition. So he, it's not something that is against gays, it's against anybody who wants to come along and change the fundamental definitions of pillars of society. It has significant ramifications."

There's a problem in a diverse nation like the United States when people don't get to talk about a wide range of topics with family and friends who disagree with them.  If you only talk about these things with people who agree with you, you're in for a big surprise when you get outside your circle, which presidential candidates eventually have to do.

I was trying to find something about how the brain keeps most people from saying offensive things.  I don't seem to be using the right search words, but I did find this article in Psychology Today that touches on that idea.  It's from someone with an identified mental health issue, but it seems to apply to many politicians.
"At the age of 62, I know that my social and emotional regulation skills are still sometimes lacking. I have a self-righteous streak and think that people need to hear what I have to say. I sometimes feel justified in saying things because I believe them to be true, even if my comments may not be appropriate at the time. My ex-father-in-law used to say to me "Michael you are such a smart and talented guy in many ways, why can't you control your mouth?" I had no answer to this question and felt I had two choices: be an idiot and speak my mind, or shut up. I still occasionally vacillate between the two options and have mixed results."

Friday, October 02, 2015

Homeless Follow Up - It Looked Like A Raid

 I mentioned the homeless lined street in Venice last night near Gjusta's.  Today after running various errands, I did a loop to the beach on the way home and passed the street where all the homeless were.  And it looked like a raid.

In Anchorage, the police go through homeless camps along the bike trails and clear everything out.

And here were Hazmat and garbage trucks and people high-pressure- hosing down the sidewalk.

Didn't look good.

But along Rose Avenue all the belongings were piled up on the sidewalk there.  It went way on down the block.

So I pulled over between two parked cars and asked someone what was happening.

They're cleaning the street.  They do it every Friday.

Sometimes things aren't what they seem to be. 

[Feedburner problem, going to repost this to see if it gets through.  Sorry for those who've already seen this.]

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Gjusta A Nice Dinner With Friends

Friends suggested we go to dinner at Gjusta's.   When they described its location, I realized I'd read about it and even biked by it once on my way back from the beach to my mom's.  The LA Magazine article had said:
Located just around the corner from the Google's Venice headquarters, the view of Gjusta from the street is rather unremarkable, a white-washed warehouse with a set of accordion-style windows along its front. Step inside, however, and you'll find yourself in a massive kitchen space, illuminated by large skylights that wash the room in sunlight. - See more at:
Located just around the corner from the Google's Venice headquarters, the view of Gjusta from the street is rather unremarkable, a white-washed warehouse with a set of accordion-style windows along its front. Step inside, however, and you'll find yourself in a massive kitchen space, illuminated by large skylights that wash the room in sunlight. - See more at:
"Located just around the corner from the Google's Venice headquarters, the view of Gjusta from the street is rather unremarkable, a white-washed warehouse with a set of accordion-style windows along its front. Step inside, however, and you'll find yourself in a massive kitchen space, illuminated by large skylights that wash the room in sunlight."
Located just around the corner from the Google's Venice headquarters, the view of Gjusta from the street is rather unremarkable, a white-washed warehouse with a set of accordion-style windows along its front. Step inside, however, and you'll find yourself in a massive kitchen space, illuminated by large skylights that wash the room in sunlight. - See more at:
Located just around the corner from the Google's Venice headquarters, the view of Gjusta from the street is rather unremarkable, a white-washed warehouse with a set of accordion-style windows along its front. Step inside, however, and you'll find yourself in a massive kitchen space, illuminated by large skylights that wash the room in sunlight. - See more at:
No, I hadn't saved it.  I just looked and found it again.  That piece was October 30, 2014 and it said the visited it on its second day open, so it's just under a year old.  But my image was that this was where well paid Google employees went for breakfast and lunch.  Translation:  Probably very expensive.  (In the end the bill was less than $20 each and we were all full.)

I remember the article had said there's no sign telling you it's there and so at the time I took down the address to find it.

Well, see that little white paper tacked onto the door?  It's as close to a sign as there is:

My first thought when we stepped inside was 'rustic.'  There's a huge counter with food from desserts to pastramis and lox to exotic salads and pizza.  And there's bread.

On the left is, obviously, pizza on the bottom.  On top nearest is a salad made of what they called sunchokes, but I know as Jerusalem artichokes.
We had some and it was very good.  There was also a potato and beet salad.

We were determined to go to the beach today after I went through my mom's mail.  I got through as much as I could stand - I'd like a law passed banning robot phone answering - and reluctantly drove.  I'd rather go by bike, but it was going to be dark on the way home and I'm still timid about street riding at night, especially with J.

So we got a couple of hours in at the beach.   I got to do a little body surfing, though the surf was small and choppy and came at different angles.  But even so the water felt wonderful. It's definitely warmer than it was when I was growing up here.  Once I dive under an incoming wave, I lose 50 years with the rush of the water all around me.  It's fabulous.  And when you catch a wave it's heaven.  If I had to pick a way to die, it would be in the surf.  I still remember body surfing on Bali in 1968 during a Peace Corps school break.  The surf was perfect and when we were resting on shore, my friend said he'd been worried about sharks.  My reaction was, that the surf was so good, it would have been a perfect way to go.  Then a coconut fell between us and I thought being killed by a coconut was not the perfect way.  Anyhoo, I thank my parents for moving to California when they did and ending up near the beach as a kid.

We ordered our food at the counter and got some table space in the back outdoor patio.  It was a perfect place to be with good friends and sit and talk. 

This is a peculiar and changing neighborhood.  The street that runs into restaurant has homeless tents and belongings along the sidewalk on both sides.  Remember, this is a block a way from the Google Venice headquarters.  There's also a huge Gold's Gym across the street.

I don't normally take pictures of homeless without permission and I don't like to ask so I rarely have pictures, but you can't identify this guy trying to sleep across the street from Gjusta's.

I did google after we got home to get a little more background and found that Bon Apetit magazine listed Gjusta, just this August, as number two in its list of America's Best New Restaurants.

In an odd twist I also learned that we ate at their sister restaurant nearby at a friend's suggestion last July. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Anchorage Flirts With Snow

Tuesday was a bit hectic as I tried to finish My Name Is Red before my book club meeting (didn't make it), deal with insurance companies, and pack and clean the house for the house sitter before I trip south.

It rained most of the day and in the afternoon the rain alternated with snow flakes, but not enough to stick.  But our book club meeting was on the Hillside about 1000 feet above sea level.  And there, by the time I left (early to finish packing at get to the airport), there was snow sticking.

Back closer to sea level at the airport, the spotlight outside just after security highlighted the falling flakes.  I used a neon filter in Photoshop for this one.

We left late due to computer problems at the Anchorage Airport, which included reading each boarding pass to someone over the phone.  In Seattle?  She was too busy to ask.

But once again I was pleased with how Alaska Airlines has mastered the logistics problem of getting people's luggage into the terminal quickly.  And I wonder why other airlines can't match them.  Here's the carousel 15 minutes after the door opened on the plane.  The luggage is there, but not many of the passengers had made it yet.    Maybe because it was it was 6:30 am.  But it happens on almost all the flights we've been on and we've been on a lot lately.

 And Alaska Airlines gives out $25 vouchers for future flights for people whose baggage isn't there in 20 minutes from getting into the terminal.

We walked the mile from the bus stop to my mom's house (it will always be 'my mom's house' I think) then I got on the bike before it got too warm and rode out to the beach.  I felt like a puppy who'd been locked up inside all day.  It felt great.

I looked at this Quixote sign and wondered why it seemed familiar.  Then I remembered I'd just read an LA Times article online the other day about the CEO.

"Mikel Elliott is co-founder and chief executive of Quixote Studios, the entertainment industry's premier studio and equipment rental company, presiding over a fleet of Hollywood's most elegant talent trailers and motor homes as well as more than 1 million square feet of movie, TV and music soundstages, production offices and parking lots."
 This was in the parking lot just north of the Santa Monica pier.

In another Santa Monica parking lot there were cops on motorcycles driving through an orange cone obstacle course.  It looked like they were training - going through narrow curves.

There was a group waiting their turn.

Been cleaning out the room where my mom had her computer - hoping, but not really expecting, to find the keys to the safe deposit box. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

It's Confusing But It's Not That Hard

It seems churlish to leave comments about grammar on someone's blog.  I know how easy it is to write 'their" instead of 'there'   or even 'won' instead of 'one.'  It's not that I don't (do not) know, but my fingers hear what they want and I have to track down their mischief.  And spell check doesn't (does not) help.  So I'm doing it here. 

It would be nice if there was a homonym checker.  Every time you wrote a word with a common homonym - say, 'red' and 'read' - it would mark the term and give you options with definitions and even an example sentence.

But my focus today is on IT'S and ITS.   The blog post I read had the word spelled consistently incorrectly, so it wasn't (was not) simply a typo.

Ways to remember:

1.   The apostrophe (') takes the place of a missing letter.  OK, the first exception is when it's signifying a possessive, which happens here, BUT  in  IT'S it does signify a missing letter.

IT'S  =  IT IS   The missing letter is the I in I
(or IT HAS in which case the ' has to replace two letters)

2.  The three singular pronouns - he, she, and it -  when possessive, all end in S WITHOUT an apostrophe:


There are further complications, but you know you wouldn't write hi's, so you also shouldn't write it's for the possessive its. 

EXAMPLES:    The dog put the bone in its doghouse.

                           It's (It has) been chilly lately.  

If you think you've got it, here's (here is) a self correcting test of it's and its.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Keeping My Head Low

Like these two swans at Potter Marsh yesterday, I'm keeping my head low, getting ready to head south.  With a long to do list here, don't have time to blog on things important (it takes too long).  Yesterday, I escaped to Potter Marsh to sit and read My Name Is Red for my book club that meets tomorrow night.  REALLY good book and I'm sure I'll do some posts on it later, but now I just have to finish it and other loose ends before we go back to take another stab at cleaning out my mom's house and then getting some grandpa time in Seattle on the way home.

All this post death stuff has been affecting my stress level.  I'd decided to check on my blood pressure again and my home monitor was giving high readings.  Went to the doctor today and was reassured on two levels:  1.  my home monitor gave higher readings than their office monitor  and 2.  blood pressure levels for over 65 tend to be higher.  (Looking this up just now - something I was hoping to avoid in this post) showed less about the target blood pressure range and more about lack of good data and a range of opinions from the doctors.  I'm just not going to worry.  They said I was healthy otherwise.  But not so healthy that I got away without a flu shot and a pneumonia shot. 

So yesterday I sat in the car at a Potter Marsh pullout, watched swans and read my book as the wind now and then buffeted the van.   The swans were clearly loading up for their flight south - with their head below water much more than not.

And I walked the empty boardwalk.

Hanging out in the van with the book and the swans and a little walk on the boardwalk as it started to rain was what I needed.  Got well into this incredible tale that takes place in late 16th Century Istanbul and is loosely based on real a real workshop of court miniaturists.  Lots to think about that's relevant to the theme of this blog - how do you know what you know - as they examine the difference between reality and how that reality is represented on the page, and as they tread a fine line between honoring Allah with their work and slipping into creating forbidden idols.  And there's a murder to be solved and a love story as well.  And the author Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel Prize for Literature. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Suppose . . .

that you were riding your bike enjoying the weather and saw a young man laying down his bike at the entrance to the tunnel ahead of you.  Suppose he pulled a can a spray paint out of his back pack just as you rode up.  Suppose he looked at you at that moment.

What would you do?  What would you say?

Would you treat this like seeing some rarely seen critter and stop and watch?

Would you not even notice and zip on by?

Would you pull out your cell phone and call 911?

Such were my thoughts as I went through a tunnel and noticed all the graffiti that normally I didn't see because coming from the light into the dark with sunglasses on makes it hard to see.

I'm partial to graffiti, though I can see multiple sides to the issue. 

Movies like" Exit Through The Gift Shop" give one the sense of why people tag walls. 

And of course Banksy takes graffiti up to the top ranks of political art.  His work is artistically first rate, his content is trenchant, and the placement of his work meaningful.  This Anchorage tunnel graffiti is, well, not great art.

If this were showing up on your house or your fence, you'd be unhappy.  At least this is on public walls and in a tunnel where only people going through the tunnel see it.  And if you're speeding by on a bike on a sunny day, the sudden change in light would make it likely your pupils wouldn't adjust in time to even see it.

What is the lure for these budding artists?  The term 'tags' suggests the messages dogs leave on fire hydrants and trees.  How many REFs are scattered around Anchorage?

I did get to talk to several graffiti artists - and these guys had serious artistic skill - at the library's innovation lab graffiti exhibit.  Here you can see  their work and pictures of the artists MENO, ewok, Bisco, and Will.

Some property owners have come to appreciate graffiti and given permission for artists to paint on their walls - as in this example of a Banksy in LA which the gas station owner took with him after he sold the gas station.    But that post also highlights a very young man who was killed by police for painting walls.

This one shows a bit more promise.  There isn't a lot of time to get your work up, unless you come late at night.

So, supposing you came across the creator of one of these Zero Percent for the Arts additions to public works with spray can in hand?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Obsession Records - Lake Otis and Tudor

Verna at Obsession Records
[Note:  my previous post ""Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation's Largest Abortion Provider"  never connected with feedburner, but you might want to check it out. ]

I had some errands yesterday and took the long way back along the Campbell Creek trail to Lake Otis and passed the mall at the corner.  I'd heard that the Russian grocery there had real rye bread, so I cruised the parking lot.

I found Obsession Records - a place I'd heard about, but had never been open when I looked.  Now it was open (it's open 5-8pm for now while the people there work elsewhere during the day.)  I poked my head in and looked around.

 I like the idea that the turntable is back.  There's a different sound quality - not necessarily better - to the records.

Part of what's called the jazz section.  Artists are arranged in alphabetical order by first name.  I found Nancy Wilson under N.   Records seemed to range between $10 and $24 per album. 

Click to read better

As an old fogie I'm not too current on new stuff and was only fuzzily aware that new music is being released on vinyl, but here's a list of coming attractions.

Here it is from the outside.  It's the mall with Golden Donuts at the corner.  This unit is way in the back.

And when I got home I got out an old Kingston Trio album. "They're rioting in Africa" seemed very contemporary.   From Oldy Lyrics

"They're rioting in Africa. They're starving in Spain. There's hurricanes in Florida and Texas needs rain.
The whole world is festering with unhappy souls. The French hate the Germans. The Germans hate the Poles.
Italians hate Yugoslavs. South Africans hate the Dutch and I don't like anybody very much!
But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud for man's been endowed with a mushroom shaped cloud.
And we know for certain that some lovely day someone will set the spark off and we will all be blown away.
They're rioting in Africa. There's strife in Iran. What nature doesn't do to us will be done by our fellow man."

Oh, and it turns out the Russian grocery is gone.  The sign's still up, but but the shop was bare rooms.  So when I got home I finished the bread I've been working on for days.  But that's another post. 

"Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation's Largest Abortion Provider"

In case you think that conservative House Republicans have any shred of objectivity left, here's the title of the Judiciary Committee's investigation of Planned Parenthood:
 "Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation's Largest Abortion Provider"

Note:  This post evolved over time and wanders wider than I expected, but it's all related.
I found this when I was looking to see what the investigation actually found.  It seems this isn't an investigation.  It's more like a Congressional lynching.

What can I say?  This appears to be part of an orchestrated plan to surreptitiously get into the Planned Parenthood offices and make video tapes that could then be edited into a shocking 'exposé' which could then be used to stir up so called 'pro-life' folks and be used at hearings like this.  I'd blogged a little about this recently already.

Though I imagine for true believers who never ask questions about things that support the predisposed beliefs, they are so outraged that they think this should be given as much publicity as possible to end federal funding of Planned Parenthood once and for all.

Defunding Planned Parenthood was also part of the revisions that Sen. Dunleavy tried to slip into his revised Erin's Law during the special legislative session this summer.  It  specifically prohibited school districts from contracting with PP (it didn't label them by name, but it was for 'abortion providers') and even from contracting with any organization that contracted with abortion providers.   It got cut out, but you can see this is a strategy the Republicans must be trying out all over.

Back to the US House Judiciary Committee.  There was one witness who defended Planned Parenthood -Ms. Priscilla Smith, Director and Senior Fellow, Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice, Information Society Project, Yale Law School.  You might want to read her testimony

The other witnesses included:

And two women who say they are survivors of botched abortions.  [Normally I would give them the benefit of the doubt, but since much of their testimony is either misleading or flat out false, I can't be sure they are who they say they are.]

You can read their testimony at the links as well.   But let me show you why I'm skeptical.  Here's a bit from Jessen's testimonry:
"Planned Parenthood receives $500 million dollars of taxpayer money a year, to primarily destroy and dismember babies. Do not tell me these are not children. A heartbeat proves that. So does 4-d ultrasound. So do I, and so does the fact that they are selling human organs for profit."
And here's from an aggressive interview on Here and Now with Dawn Laguens, executive vice president and chief experience officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
executive vice president and chief experience officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund - See more at:
executive vice president and chief experience officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund - See more at:
executive vice president and chief experience officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund - See more at:
executive vice president and chief experience officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund - See more at:
The $500 million being raised here is money that goes directly to pay for preventive health care services that women choose to receive from Planned Parenthood, so those are reimbursements like any health care provider would get, or any hospital would get, for receiving a Pap test, a breast exam, STD testing and treatment, birth control – not for abortion services, because that is prohibited by law in this country.”
Did you catch that?    There's no appropriation to give Planned Parenthood $500 million.  It's a reimbursement for health services (not including abortions), just like the reimbursements that every health provider gets.  The fact that they get so much is a testament, I would think, to how many people (men as well as women) seek their help.   You can listen to the whole Here and Now interview:

Ms. Jessen also seemed particularly riled up about a quote from Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood.  Or maybe she thought it would rile up the committee members.  Her testimony says,
"Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, said the following: 'The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”
–Margaret Sanger, “Woman and the New Race'”
I found that pretty provocative myself, so I looked up the book. has it available free in a bunch of different formats.

First, this was published in1920.  Eugenics Archive gives us the context of the American culture when Sanger wrote this:
Eugenic ideology was deeply embedded in American popular culture during the 1920s and 1930s. For example, on Saturday night, high school students might go to the cinema to see "The Black Stork" – a film that supported eugenic sterilization. In church on Sunday, they might listen to a sermon selected for an award by the American Eugenics Society – learning that human improvement required marriages of society's "best" with the "best."
Second, the quote is taken out of the context.  Sanger wrote that a very high percentage of children died within the first five years of life at that time.  She talks about the environment of crowded homes and large families of the poor.  How there was no privacy inside and out on the streets was full of dangers too.  She also discusses how large families make life hard for the women in more comfortable households. Her language varies from dry and academic in some sections to a bit melodramatic in others.  I've highlighted the original quote from Jessen's testimony: 
"The direct relationship between the size of the wage-earner's family and the death of children less than one year old has been revealed by a number of studies of the infant death rate. One of the clearest of these was that made by Arthur Geissler among miners and cited by Dr. Alfred Ploetz before the First International Eugenic Congress. [Footnote: Problems in Eugenics, London , 1913.] Taking 26,000 births from unselected marriages, and omitting families having one and two children, Geissler got this result:
Deaths During First Year.

1st born children 23%
2nd " " 20%
3rd " " 21%
4th " " 23%
]5th " " 26%
6th " " 29%
7th " " 31%
8th " " 33%
9th " " 36%
10th " " 41%
11th " " 51%
12th " " 60%
Thus we see that the second and third children have a very good chance to live through the first year. Children arriving later have less and less chance, until the twelfth has hardly any chance at all to live twelve months. This does not complete the case, however, for those who care to go farther into the subject will find that many of those who live for a year die before they reach the age of five. Many, perhaps, will think it idle to go farther in demonstrating the immorality of large families, but since there is still an abundance of proof at hand, it may be offered for the sake of those who find difficulty in adjusting old-fashioned ideas to the facts. The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it. The same factors which create the terrible infant mortality rate, and which swell the death rate of children between the ages of one and five, operate even more extensively to lower the health rate of the surviving members. Moreover, the overcrowded homes of large families reared in poverty further contribute to this condition. Lack of medical attention is still another factor, so that the child who must struggle for health in competition with other members of a closely packed family has still great difficulties to meet after its poor constitution and malnutrition have been accounted for.
 The book is about birth control and freeing women by giving them so control over their own bodies. 
The basic freedom of the world is woman's freedom. A free race cannot be born of slave mothers. A woman enchained cannot choose but give a measure of that bondage to her sons and daughters. No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.

Wikipedia describes her position on abortion this way:
"She also wanted to prevent unsafe abortions, so-called back-alley abortions,[3] which were common at the time because abortions were usually illegal.[citation needed] She believed that while abortion was sometimes justified it should generally be avoided, and she considered contraception the only practical way to avoid the use of abortions.[4]"

It seems to me that a large number of folks on the far right have worked themselves into a frenzy - with help from Fox News and various figures who have wrapped themselves in religious facades.  They live in a world of us and them.  Facts no longer matter.  People who support abortion rights are linked to Satan. [Note, the link from Militant Church is ambiguous.  It doesn't actually say the rituals described are sanctioned by Planned Parenthood, but it leaves the association very clear for its readers.]

NOTE:  I've been putting notes on this together for several days now and thought it was close to ready when I heard today that Speaker of the House Boehner will resign by the end of October.  While the reasons are still fairly speculative, the constant fighting with what the media call "the conservative wing" of the party (but I'd call the mob wing) plus the Pope's visit are being mentioned by many of the commentators.  Specifically, they say that this likely insures a budget without language that would mean Planned Parenthood could no longer be reimbursed for normal, non-abortion related health services.  In this New York Times article, Representative Charlie Dent, Republican of Pennsylvania, seems to agree with my 'mob wing' characterization, though a bit more politely when he says:
". . .  there had been “a lot of sadness in the room” when Mr. Boehner made his announcement to colleagues, and he blamed the House’s hard-right members, who he said were unwilling to govern. “It’s clear to me that the rejectionist members of our conference clearly had an influence on his decision,” Mr. Dent said. “That’s why I’m not happy about what happened today. We still have important issues to deal with, and this will not be easier for the next guy.”
“The dynamics are this,” he continued. “There are anywhere from two to four dozen members who don’t have an affirmative sense of governance. They can’t get to yes. They just can’t get to yes, and so they undermine the ability of the speaker to lead. And not only do they undermine the ability of the speaker to lead, but they undermine the entire Republican conference and also help to weaken the institution of Congress itself. That’s the reality.
I'd also note that the Senate rejected a budget bill with language to defund Planned Parenthood.  Kudos to Sen. Murkowski for voting against this bill.

But lest people on the left feel a bit smug as they watch Boehner's departure, let's consider our own mob wing who demonize opponents and don't hear their genuine complaints.  College Conservative cites James Madison's concerns about mob rule and says that concern is still relevant today.  But the writer thinks it applies to the Left.

Finally, let me note my sense of abortion.  I believe people on all sides of this debate would like to see as few abortions as possible.  No one thinks an abortion is, in itself, a good thing.    People who are pro-choice support sex education so that girls and women do not get pregnant by mistake.  My sense is that many in the anti-abortion crowd are also strongly moralistic about sex and feel that sex education programs encourage kids to have sex.  Personally, I don't think kids need encouragement - their bodies are wired for sex.  They need to know how to handle those instincts.  I also believe that in this zeal to prevent sex before marriage, this group inadvertently results in many girls and young women becoming pregnant.  The stigma of the pregnancy because of the moralistic approach to sex boosts the number of abortions.  That's pretty simplistic.  I also think that part of the anti-abortion crowd is simply about men wanting to control women, but that's for another post. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

At Least Ten Legislators attend Alaska Fiscal Forum

While some legislators and their staff are getting bad press for spending $400 and more per night in Seattle hotels and $90,000 altogether for the conference, other legislators are getting their education right here in Anchorage.  There's nothing wrong with going to conferences Outside.  That's how you connect with others and learn new ideas.  But it seems there should be a limit on hotel costs that the state pays and there are questions about why so many needed to go.

That said, I want to at least give credit to the legislators who took advantage of the Alaska Common Ground/ISER forum on Alaska's fiscal future last weekend.  I was able to count ten who were there - that's 1/6 of the whole legislature, about 17%.  (I didn't try tracking staff members so I don't know  how many of them were there.

Here are the legislators I saw:

Rep. David Guttenberg (Fairbanks area)
Sen. John Coghill (Fairbanks area)
Sen.  Berta Gardner (Anchorage)
Rep. Shelley Hughes (Palmer)
Rep. Matt Claman (Anchorage)
Rep. Bryce Edgmon (Dillingham)
Rep. Max Gruenberg (Anchorage)
Rep. Andy Josephson (Anchorage)
Rep. Harriet Drummond  (Anchorage)
Rep. Lynn Gattis (Wasilla)

There may have been more.  But those are the ones I was able to identify while I was there.  (If you were there and want to be listed here, just email me.)

[Note:  I saw Matt Claman early, before I thought about taking pictures of the legislators present.  Later, when I looked for him I couldn't find him.  So I used an old photo I had of him and photoshopped it so it didn't look like I was slipping it in as a current picture.  The original one of Berta Gardner was even more out of focus and so I played with it a bit in photoshop too.]

Shelley Hughes started talking about her reaction to what had happened already, so I asked if I could get it on video. 

You can see Sen. Wilkin's handout to get the precise point Rep. Hughes is referring to in the video about how a slight reduction in the Permanent Fund yields the biggest bang for our bucks.  In fact, you can find links to videos and  all the handouts at the Forum here at the Alaska Common Ground website.  [I'd note that link goes to their main page, so it might have other stuff up after a while, but probably you could poke around and find their links to the Forum materials.]

So I just want to thank these legislators for coming to the forum and showing their interest and being where constituents and non-constituents can talk to them easily.  And some came from outside of Anchorage.  And there were five from the Majority caucuses and five from the Minority caucuses.

And here's a picture of Cliff Groh who was a key player making the Forum happen, along with
Gunnar Knapp.

BTW, I'd note that there was another article in the ADN about the legislators' trip to Seattle.   This one features Sen. Lesil McGuire saying she didn't approve the trips her staff members made and put all the blame on the staff.  The staff members are reported as reimbursing the state.  While she may be technically correct, the article does say the staff member had signature authority.  Good bosses don't throw their staff under the bus like that.  She could have just said that there was a misunderstanding and the money had been repaid without  publicly reprimanding her staff.  She even could have taken some of the blame.  Since most people aren't bosses, they'll identify with the staff and think of bosses they've had who have dumped on them.  Either way, readers will wonder what really happened.  If she had taken the high road, she would have at least gotten credit for standing up for her staff.

 Rep. Nancy Dahlstrom, in contrast, took the blame for a letter that most probably was written by her staff member.  I can't be sure what happened, but the link explains why I think the staff member wrote the original letter.  But Dalhstrom, as the boss, accepted responsibility for what her staff did.  Showed some class there.