Sunday, January 30, 2011

Newspaper Still Relevant - Sunday Tidbits from ADN on Young, Palin, etc.

Rep. Don Young

 The ADN coverage of Don Young over the years has highlighted pictures of his hunting trophies - as they did again today - and his malopropisms.

I think lots of readers, particularly those on the left - myself included - underestimated him based on these stereotypes.  His skills were less tangible and harder to document.  But someone doesn't get reelected over and over again if he doesn't have something working right. OK, living in Republican state didn't hurt, but there was more to it.  I 'got it' in the 2008 election when I attended a debate between Harvard grad Ethan Berkowitz and Don Young.  Young creamed him.  This was not the Young I'd conjured up based on reading about him in the newspapers.

Today's story by Erika Bolstad is the most subtle and balanced one I can remember reading.  It's worth a look.  This isn't an endorsement of Young, but we need to know as much about politicians as possible to understand them as complete people, not two-dimensional cutouts.  The Abramoff connections and the Florida highway are still questions that the Justice Department's handling doesn't resolve in my mind.  Here are some highlights:

Knife, but no computer
The 77-year-old congressman who brags of never using a computer but always carrying a knife?
Here, editing the online version to get rid of the misplaced question-mark would have been ok, but it's online as well as in print. 

His wife convinced him to run for reelection before she died.
In August 2009, Young lost his wife of 46 years, Lu, his constant companion. If she hadn't persuaded him to file for re-election before her death, he might not have run last fall, Young said in an interview recently.
He was asked if he'd learned who his friends were during the investigation hard times.  He chose to focus on those who weren't his friends.
"Let's put it this way. I learned who was not my friend," he said. "It's like a movie star who has three flops in a row. Nobody goes to their movies, nobody knows who they are anymore."
"I'm very happy with those that did stay with me," he added. "Those that didn't? You recognize that. And just have a little short pile in the back of your head and just remember that."
"I don't need a lot of friends," he added. "I never have." 
And while Young may be different, he's solid and not ideological.
"Despite the gruff exterior and the un-Washington ways, sometimes his intuitions and insights into things are extraordinary," said Kish, who acknowledges he's also "nearly come to blows arguing" with Young.
"But it's born out of respect," he said. "Washington is full of that crap, and Don's different. It's a different cut of cloth. He continues to have that bright-faced optimism."
Young is skilled at building coalitions other Republicans won't touch, Ferguson said, including with organized labor. And he knows how to trade.
"There's something about Don Young that enables him to make friends on both sides of the aisle, to further his chairman in sort of a sly way and be such a cooperative sort of fellow that they work close," Ferguson said. "He's like a trapper. Trappers learn how to trade. You've got a certain number of pelts, they've got what you want, you've got to put a value on it, then you've got to strike a trade. He's always been like that."
Then, Young launches into a story about the work he did with former Rep. Gerry Studds, D-Mass., to pass the landmark fisheries bill known as the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The 1976 bill created 200-mile exclusive economic zones off the country's coast and led to Alaska's multi-billion dollar fishing industry
Young said he has always worked well with Democrats. He points out that some of his signature achievements -- including the Alaska pipeline -- happened while Democrats controlled the House.
Those House members closest to him include former Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., the chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, who lost re-election last fall after 36 years. Loner or not, Young takes "a very personal approach," Oberstar said.
We're Paying For Young's Life Saving Health Care
if I hadn't had the job, I would have been dead in a heartbeat," he said. "Now I've got more to focus on, so it keeps me going, and I thank her for that."
Trudeau Skewers Palin with Her Own Words
And while I feel there are enough people writing about Palin that I don't have to do that, now and then I feel compelled.  Last time I couldn't resist pointing out while she and her supporters claimed Rep. 's shooter was totally responsible and none of the blame could be traced back to her actions and words, that she had said Ansange was a terrorist who had 'blood on his hands' for publishing government documents.  In his Doonesbury today, Garry Trudeau takes a quote from Palin's book and skewers her with it. (I checked - various people covered this quote when the book came out in November.  While it's not new, it probably has more relevance after Bristol's stint on DWTS.)  Here are a couple of panels.

Double click to enlarge if you can't read it or go to link and see whole strip

Can a woman in custody consent to sex with the officer?
There's more of interest.  Julia O'Malley's piece on how former Anchorage police officer Anthony Rollins' attorney, Susan Carney, is using outdated stereotypes to make the jury think that his rape victims (while in custody) all consented.  She concludes with:
He knew he didn't need to use violence. He had an invisible weapon. It was in his position as a police officer. It was in his uniform, a symbol of trust. His word was more powerful than hers. He could take her to jail if he wanted to. He weighed almost twice as much as she did, and he was twice her age. She was shocked, emotional and scared. She was still in handcuffs. He had a gun on his hip.
Maybe she didn't exactly say no. But that doesn't mean she said anything close to yes.


I'll end with this bizarre disclaimer from a syndicated gossip piece on Charlie Sheen (the online version is a little different from the print version - one of the dangers of online news:  it can change over time, whereas hardcopy can't be doctored after the fact.)
The person familiar with the call, who was not authorized to publicly discuss details, spoke Friday on condition of anonymity.
Talking about qualifying your facts . . . This was a story about Charlie Sheen going back into rehab.  Did this source get paid or did the leaker violate Sheen's privacy and organizational procedures voluntarily?  Look, it's reasonable for organizations to have some rules and structure for releases of information to the public.  If the information were not released through regular channels (if that is required) in a timely way and there were some critical issue interest that's a different story.  There's a difference between someone blowing the whistle because the organization is hiding damaging information the public really should know and handing tips to gossip columnists.

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