Deconconstructing Ann Brown’s Screed: Illogic and Bloody Shirts

WC was, for a couple of years, a lawyer in the same office with Ann Brown. WC knows she is capable of clear, logical reasoning. WC knows she can muster evidence in support of her arguments. But, apparently, she has abandoned those skills in her role as spokesperson for the Alaska Republican Party. Or she signed off on an opinion piece written for her without reading it first.

Because her recent Alaska Dispatch News attack piece on Mayor Mark Begich is, at best, a D- effort.

It seems Anchorage Mayor and former U.S. Senator Mark Begich had the temerity to criticize the Alaska Congressional delegation for waffling on who they support for U.S. President. Ms. Brown wrote:

In a most evasive way, he managed to write more than 1,000 words in his column falsely accusing the delegation of lack of decisiveness, while not once saying whom he is supporting.[^1]

But WC read Ms. Brown’s article very carefully, and can’t find any place where she states which presidential candidate will get her vote. You can certainly make an inference, but then Ms. Brown draws an inference from Mayor Begich’s article.1 But that’s really the least of WC’s criticisms of Ms. Brown’s screed. Let’s look at a few points Ms. Brown asserts.

First: Hillary Clinton said she will permanently lock up the Arctic against oil and gas development — something that is vital for Alaska’s future.

This is a pretty serious distortion of what candidate Clinton said. Check the linked article. Secretary Clinton opposes offshore drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic. Secretary Clinton points to the Shell Oil debacle to argue that we don’t have the resources and technology to bring it off safely. She also argues that the reality of climate change means we need to take fewer risks to get oil, not more. As for offshore drilling being “vital to Alaska’s future,” WC has to point out that, despite bilions of dollars of effort, neither Shell nor anyone else has found any oil or gas in commercial quantities. So this claim fails the red-face test: it’s a bad citation, misrepresenting what Secretary Clinton said. And it assumes facts not in evidence: the importance of offshore oil to Alaska. Score: F.

Second: She said she will make oil production on lands even more difficult.

Once again, a serious distortion of what Secretary Clinton said. Follow the link. What Secretary Clinton actually said is that she would not phase out leasing federal lands for oil exploration until there were alternative energy sources in place. She was open to increasing taxes and royalties on oil, gas and coal developed from federal lands to fund shifts away from fossil fuels and to cope with the effects of climate change.  Since climate change is an existential threat to humankind, it’s hard to argue that we need to be careful how much we enable our own self-destruction. If Ms. Brown is implying she agrees with The Donald that anthropogenic climate change is a Chinese con, then she has checked her credibility at Trump Tower. Otherwise, Score: D.

Third: She wants to kill fracking, which has been part of Alaska’s energy industry and will be important to our future, particularly as the independent companies make smaller pools of oil commercially viable.

Not even close. Follow the link. What Secretary Clinton said, in a debate with Senator Bernie Sanders, was:

Clinton said she wouldn’t support fracking in states or local communities that don’t want it, if it causes pollution, or if the chemicals used aren’t disclosed. “By the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place,” Clinton said.

Secretary Clinton doesn’t want to “kill” fracking, but she does want local control and full disclosure of what the drilling companies are injecting in to the ground. By the way, in Alaska, so far as has been disclosed, fracking is  tiny part of total production. The big fields on the North Slope have had their production extended by re-injection of gas and water, not fracking. Score: F.

Fourth: She has declared war on the coal industry and said she wants to put “coal miners out of work.” Presumably, that also includes the hundreds of Alaskans in the Interior who are employed in the coal industry. Further, if she has her way with coal, it would be the last dagger in the heart of the Alaska Railroad.

Yes, Secretary Clinton said “we have to move away from coal.” She also said she wants to help the folks who will have their lives disrupted as a result. It’s kind of like the tobacco industry, isn’t it? We discovered, over the objections and obstacles of the tobacco industry, that its product was dangerous, deadly and harmful. The evidence that coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel, wreaking havoc on the environment, is incontrovertible. Like the tobacco industry in the south, the move away from coal will be painful and disruptive. But it has to be done. Secretary Clinton, in the video clip Ms. Brown linked to, is very careful to say we have to help those who are displaced. Score: D.

Fifth: Alaska has been more negatively impacted by Obamacare than any other state in the country.  Recall that Begich voted to pass Obamacare and Clinton has promised to expand it.

One of two Bloody Shirt arguments.[^3] You can’t go wrong with Republicans castigating the Affordable Care Act. However, the facts are that Governor Parnell and the Republican-controlled Alaska Legislature did everything in their power – indeed, exceeded their powers – to cripple implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Alaska. They refused to establish an Alaska Health Care Exchange, leaving us with the default federal exchange. They failed to extend medicaid to the working poor. They failed to amend Alaska’s byzantine health insurance statutes to encourage more entrants into the Alaska market. Now, after those best efforts, they complain that the Affordable Care Act doesn’t work?

Even so, the claim that “Alaska has been more negatively impacted by Obamacare than any other state” turns out to be the opinion of Senator Dan Sullivan (R. Koch Brothers), a dude Ms. Brown attempting to defend. Oops. Grade: F.

Finally, Clinton intends to whittle away further at our Second Amendment rights.

Obviously, another Bloody Shirt argument. And total mischaracterization of what Secretary Clinton actually said:

Parents, teachers and schools should have the right to keep guns out of classrooms, just like Donald Trump does at many of his hotels by the way.

So, yeah, Secretary Clinton opposes allowing folks to pack heat in the public schools. Some of us, including WC and Secretary Clinton, regard the NRA and its firearm-worshipping membership as the problem, not the solution. The evidence is overwhelmingly on our side. Alaska’s homicide rate rivals third world countries. WC respectfully suggests that Ms. Brown, a mother herself, needs to get out and spend more time with the mothers of Alaska’s firearm victims. Grade: Incomplete.

Mayor Begich’s point was that Senators Murkowski and Sullivan and Representative Young were refusing to tell their constituents whether or not they support The Donald for President. Instead of addressing the merits of Mayor Begich’s argument, she attacked Mayor Begich, a classic ad hominem fallacy. So that’s another fail.

Secretary Clinton has been pilloried and defamed; her views and opinions distorted almost beyond recognition by the right-wing. In truth, she is a mainstream Democrat, not a radical, with more experience in government than any President since George H.W. Bush. Her opponent has the same aptitude for the presidency that a fish has for a bicycle. It’s not a matter of picking the “lesser of two evils.” It never has been. It’s a matter of choosing between okay and absolutely wrong. WC thinks Mayor Begich was right to point that out. WC regrets Ms. Brown can’t seem to see the difference.[^4]

  1. WC will spare his readers the necessity of drawing an inference: WC will be voting for Hillary Clinton. Because the alternative, in the words of Senator Lindsay Graham, is unthinkable.