Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Back in Alaska

We got back home early yesterday morning. Just in time for a gloriously sunny, breezy day. Just in time to find a lot of chores to be done, too: thinning and pruning Basil plants, fertilizing the vegetable garden with kelp fertilizer, mowing lawns, vacuuming up dog hair from the living room carpet, and brushing Strider the dog for over a half hour. He had been very glad to see us until the brush came out.

I've got to get ready to start teaching summer school, and get a better handle on how I'm going to approach writing music for UAA's upcoming production of Shakespeare's As You Like It. And get back to helping with Diane Benson's campaign. And there are always fishing trips and hiking trips to contemplate.

One thing that cropped up very often in discussions with friends and relatives outside can be distilled into one question:

Why is it that nobody can get elected to an office in Alaska higher than dogcatcher unless the candidate endorses oil development in ANWR?

I consider it a fair question, but I find it difficult to answer. My usual short answer is that oil industry jobs are the major economic force in Alaska, and that any candidate opposed to development of ANWR will be lambasted by any opponent as being opposed to the economic development of the state. To explain the background on this often requires a long explanation of the Alaska economy that bores people beyond their threshold of attention. Outsiders seem to want simple answers to complex questions about Alaska.

And Alaskans want simple answers to complex questions too. As an example, I've been going through Sean Cockerham's five interviews with the candidates running for the AK-AL U.S. House seat currently held by Rep. Don Young. From what I can tell, he was fair to all five. The questions don't go very deep, and Cockerham has a tendency to solicit comments toward other candidates in a way that steers dialogue away from a deeper probing of issues by the respondents. That's not any more Cockerham's fault than it is that of the individuals responding to his questions. I'll be getting back to this subject later.

But the biggest disappointment in the series of interviews wasn't the reporter or the five candidates. It was the bulk of the comments that accompanied each interview. Alaska is, indeed, a low-information voter state.

images from our gardens


Anonymous said...

Phillip: During your re-engagement, please see:

Enjoy. Welcome home.

Tea N. Crumpet said...

Phil, do you ever teach at Mat-Su College? I'd like to just go listen to you talk! Your presentation of ideas is always refreshing!

Anonymous said...

If you have clout with anyone polling for Obama or Dems, please ask them to consider--

These telephone polls go to supervoters. Last night's was from someone back east somewhere. (couldn't pronounce local candidate names)

1) Diane Benson is also running.

2) in "race" ID questions (their demographics question), don't forget there are native peoples.

3) push-polls are incredibly stupid questions. The first half of the questions were mostly ok (except they forgot Diane) but the second part were "McCain did this and Obama will do that" sort of thing. Obama is a lot smarter than that and doesn't need that kind of crass "support"