Saturday, March 01, 2014

Smarts and Humor Versus Dumb Power

[Warning:  It's early Saturday morning, so I'm not quite as even-handed here as I normally attempt to be.]

Sometimes there's a letter to the editor that perfectly captures what's going on.  I admit I wasn't there and didn't see the exchange.  But Rep. Stoltz is the same guy who held up funding for school lunches because, well, it's hard to know why.

I really don't have a clue about what makes Rep. Stoltz do what he does.  I have to be careful not to generalize.  I did watch him once at a Legislative Council meeting (see item 12) take up ten minutes to say, basically, I know nothing about Facebook and I'm opposed to letting legislative computers access it.  Ten minutes to talk against something he said he knew nothing about!

My guess is that he likes being someone important.  Likes seeing his name in the paper.  Likes being able to wield power over others.

I can't remember the last time I posted a letter to the editor, but here's one that deserves to be read widely:
Lisa Demer provided excellent coverage of Tuesday’s House Finance Committee hearing on SB 49, a bill to limit state funded abortions. However, Demer omitted the final remarks made by Rep. Bill Stoltze when he flogged Rep. Les Gara one last time for the manner in which Gara framed his questions. Co-chair Stoltze suggested Gara watch the game show “Jeopardy” for guidance in forming questions.
How would that sound? Gara: “For a hundred points, Commissioner Streur, can you tell me (through our game show host, Stoltze) how many times the state of Alaska intends to run afoul of the Alaska courts in attempts to limit abortion? For 200 additional points, what will the litigation cost the state?”
Stoltze marginalized the female representatives of his own party when they asked thoughtful questions. Perhaps he should take his own advice. “For 300 points, Commissioner Streur, can you tell me how many times Rep. Holmes has to ask the same question (about the need to redefine medical necessity) before you answer her?”
Let’s put the buzzer away and have a conversation.
— Vicki Turner Malone

Thanks Vicki.  And Rep. Stolze, I'd love to sit down with you one day and have you explain to me your idea of the role of government in modern society and how you further that notion.  

I can't help wondering whether Stoltze really reflects the thinking of people in Chugiak or are they mostly just unaware of what he says and does and they're turned off of politics altogether?  BTW, he now has a Facebook page.

His website lists his record of service. 

Bill Stoltze

  • Lifelong Alaskan
  • Co-Chair, Finance Committee: 2008 – present
  • Vice-Chair, Finance Committee: 2005 – 2008
  • Member, Finance Committee: 2003 – present
  • Member, Legislative Council Joint Committee: 2005 – present
  • Vice-President, Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks, Baseball Boosters
  • Board Member, Special Olympics
  • Charter Member, Chugiak Lions Club
  • Life Member, Chugiak Senior Center, Inc.
Notice, it's just a list of positions.  There's nothing about what he actually accomplished in any of those positions.  Service implies you make the world a better place by doing what you do.  I'd like Stoltze to convince me that it's true in his case.  What little I've actually seen or heard about suggests otherwise. 


  1. Hat's off and truly well spoken, Steve.

    I like the tone of the 'early morning' posting.

    More of the same, if you will.

    1. Thanks Joe Blow, but I hope you'll have to wait a while. I even thought about taking it down or at least toning it down. But I've been busy all day. I'd like to believe that I should be able to meet with anyone I write about and have a reasonable conversation, and this sort of post lowers the odds it could happen. I should have said the same thing without the tone. There's a human being underneath whatever facade a person wears and I think you need to be respectful if you ever want to make real contact with that human.

    2. Believing reasonable conversation might still be possible among or between those who continually evince no concept of reason or rationality might be considered harboring too high of an expectation or belief. Even so, what is faith without it being questioned?

      The genes necessary to enable the likes of Stolze to maintain a state of mind such as he does should have been erased by evolution millions of years ago. No amount of tone will ever alter that reality.

      Tolerance, in too many instances, only ends up enabling those who would do wrong by others. There is behavior that can't be justified, behavior that cannot ever be lent any respect, not even a little bit.

      Drawing a clear line can be exactly what's called for.

  2. Steve, you should stop trying to be kind to people with closed minds, which Stolze has had for years. He was a closed minded legislative aide for Randy Phillips for years before he was elected, and he has never demonstrated any kind of intelligence or thoughtfulness in the several decades that I have observed him.

    Some people are not worth the effort. He's one of them.

  3. Harpboy, there are former skinheads who now teach tolerance. We should not give up on anyone. And we should always leave open the possibility that there is something we don't understand in the situation. After all, we're asking others to listen to us, we need to also listen to them. OK, I realize that there are people who take advantage of cooperators and I understand the 'tit for tat' strategy. But I don't see that I gain more by name-calling than I do by simply outlining the facts as I see them. In fact I think the I lose by name calling. Explain the advantage to me.

  4. Steve, thanks for your defence. No, you're not strange nor wrong to believe that discourse begins with mindfulness. It's hard work, though, and I have witnessed the gentle (and may I say, at times frustrating) ways you teach through your analyses here.

    While people are worth the effort; their ideas are sometimes more so. You remind us of this, even with people or ideas we comfortably think can be dismissed.

  5. Another quick thought. I'm reading Aristotle's Rhetoric (my first time) and I found his rendering of rhetoric and dialetic fresh and applicable. It would seem we've lost our appreciation of this distinction in much of what is accepted as argument today.

  6. "dialectic", he notes hours later, with a small pause of embarrassment...

  7. Sounds like someone is offering a guest post on recovering lost knowledge.


Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.