We Need a Paint Job.
I enjoy painting. Really. Maybe it’s because my grandfather was a painter and I really liked him, but for whatever reason I don’t mind being on a ladder with a brush for hours at a time. Oh, did you think I meant painting bowls of fruit? No. I like painting houses.
But the best part is when you’re done. You stand back and see the transformation to a new look that was long overdue. From the first drop of color on the wall to the trim caulking. There’s a start and an end.
Painting is satisfying. (I realize some people have gotten divorced over paint jobs gone sideways and not everyone feels the same, but it’s my column.)
When I started a radio show more than eight years ago, there was an opening line that introduced me every day. “Painting a red state blue, one stroke at a time…”
This week I found myself listening to the news on the radio and hanging off a ladder with brush in my hand, which made me a captive audience. “Are you kidding me?!” I kept saying to no one.
Listening to the nonsense spawned by our elected nutjobs and trying to figure out what the ham and cheese they could possibly be thinking finally drove me to crank up the new Springsteen album.
The news was ruining my “Wow! This room looks fantastic! I barely recognize it!” Maybe you recognize this feeling: Just turn off the news and try to focus on changing and improving what’s right in front of you.
(Maybe you also have wondered what kind of freak they keep in a basement naming paint colors. The “Celery Bisque” really ought to be called “Chicken Poop Green.”)
OK, so if I’m wanting to dial out of the insanity — given that I live and breathe politics — I understand why people with much more interesting hobbies and busy lives tune out.
What got me to this point? Remember last year when I was writing week after week about the doom and gloom that would come to our state if SB21 — the governor’s oil tax giveaway — passed? Oh, sweet Pete, did I not stack my soapboxes up for that one. The math?! The math! I didn’t think it would work. There I was painting away, AND I WANTED TO BE WRONG. I did. Because if I were right, Alaska was sure to suffer for it.
But the governor got his way. He promised a million barrels of new production and the Legislature fell in line. They gobbled up the governor’s fantasy like hungry chickens in a yard full of corn.
The latest estimates of new oil production aren’t even close to a million. To be precise, they are 28.6 percent of a million by 2024. (I know that sounds like a long time away, but it’s only 10 years. And in the meantime, we’ll give the producers billions.)
Then my head exploded over an amendment vote. The Special Committee on Military and Veterans’ Affairs was considering relieving temporary military spouses (not temporary spouses, but temporary to Alaska) of the duty to get a state driver’s license. When Rep. Max Gruenberg sought to include same-sex military couples in the exemption, Reps. Gabrielle LeDoux, Shelley Hughes and Pete Higgins decided they couldn’t support the gay troops.
Really? Here’s a news flash: Being gay doesn’t make someone bulletproof while he’s fighting overseas for the freedom of Alaska lawmakers to institutionalize his second-class citizenship. (Even if it’s over something as petty as a trip to the DMV.)
But, to be fair, I’m sure it isn’t just the gay soldiers and airmen they don’t support. I expect they’re also wondering: How can we disrespect the Muslim, atheist and immigrant servicemen and women? Perhaps I’m naive to think “supporting the troops” means a lot more than sticking a Chinese-made magnet on your tailgate.
Oh, and if I get one more email from ayatollah Jim Minnery of the Alaska Family Council begging for money so he can continue the fight against women’s right to control their bodies, I may lose it.
Really, buddy? If you don’t like abortion, take Step One: Get the vasectomy. Step Two: Teach men and boys where babies come from and how to get a grip on their hormones. Step Three: Make sure contraception is available to everyone who might slip up and have sex.
And finally, Mullah Minnery, the day you start fighting for nutrition programs, child support and health care for children and pregnant women is the day you can call yourself “pro-life.” Until then you’re just Alaska’s leading advocate of forced birth by poor women.
Alaska is a big place. It’s in need of a very big paint job. Big enough to get us back to some semblance of sanity. Yes, I realize paying attention to politics and politicians is not quite as much fun as watching paint dry, but as the late Pete Seeger said, “Participation — that’s what’s gonna save the human race.”
This article is cross-posted at The Anchorage Daily News.