Letters to the Editor

Readers write: Letters to the editor, March 26, 2017

Arts critical to complete
existence, says Churchill

One would have to be living in a cave (the kind lacking prehistoric cave paintings) to be unaware of the tremendous aesthetic and economic benefits of the arts to human existence throughout history. While the celebrated WWII Churchill quote about the arts being "what we are fighting for" has been refuted, an unchallenged 1938 quote — "The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them" — leaves no doubt how the man, whose bust famously sits in the Oval Office, felt.

Now Trump wants to end federal support of the arts in favor of his higher priorities, including border walls, tax breaks for the wealthy and protection for his gilded castles. Hopefully, there are a few Republicans in Congress who will fight for the arts, recognizing them as not just an "expendable extra" to be cut first during times of budget tightening, but a critical part of our education and enrichment that develops the expressive and social right hemisphere of our brains to temper the logical and pragmatic left sides with sensitivity and emotion. Apparently Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski may be one of those rare individuals, judging from her recent award for supporting the arts in Alaska, and her acceptance speech in which she pledged to fight for continued federal funding of the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. Go Lisa, and talk it up in the Senate!

— William Larned

Time to get our money in order

The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.

— Vlastic Marek

Intensive management control not appropriate on refuge lands

The Senate vote this week using the Congressional Review Act to undo the Fish and Wildlife rule (which prevented intensive management predator control on refuge land) puts a long standing problem back in Alaska's lap. The intensive management program run by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game aims to artificially reduce wolf and bear populations, with a goal of boosting ungulate numbers for human consumption. But while hunting has always been a legal and valuable endeavor on Alaska's national wildlife refuges, intensive management predator control, and other types of extreme methods and means, are not appropriate on our refuge lands.

National wildlife refuges, both in Alaska and across the nation, have a mission to conserve wildlife and ecosystems in their natural biological diversity. This mission goes above and beyond managing wildlife merely as a game farm. Wolves and bears are apex predators that are important in maintaining ecosystem integrity. These subtleties of science and land management were lost on this Congress, which used a blunt instrument on a nuanced topic. The Congressional Review Act also prevents the "same or substantially similar" rule from being written again in the future. Now that we have lost the federal oversight on this particular problem, it falls to Alaska to step up to the plate and fix it.

Fish and Game, along with Gov. Walker, has signaled an ongoing unwillingness to cease using intensive management on refuge lands. The Alaska Legislature should therefore hold a fact-finding hearing on this matter, to bring to light the efficacy and cost of Alaska's intensive management program. It's time for Alaska to better understand whether this program achieves its stated goals; how much the program costs versus how much benefit it achieves; and whether this method belongs in the parks and refuges that attract tourists and their dollars to Alaska, many of whom come specifically to see biologically diverse ecosystems with healthy populations of wolves, bears and other wildlife.

— Susan Culliney, policy director,
Audubon Alaska

Slow down and do it right

Why is there such a rush to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act? The Republicans did nothing for years except criticize the previous administration for pushing through the ACA before anyone even knew what it said. So now they want to do the same thing? I know the repeal was one of Donald Trump's principal campaign promises (one that was not enthusiastically embraced by everyone) but whatever is going to be done doesn't have to be done overnight. Why not just slow down and do it right?

— Connie Nuss

Men should share maternity costs

An older man doesn't have to pay a premium for maternity yet the plan will pay for Viagra so he can impregnate a woman. All men, unless they get fixed, should share the cost.

— Charles Owen

Grateful for thoughtful analysis

Thanks to Robin Brena for explaining how we are getting ripped off by Big Oil; if only more legislators engaged in such thoughtful analysis. But, that will not happen until we have more capable legislators, uncompromised by self-interest.
Changes are needed to reduce the corrosive influence of money on our politics. Full-time legislators, precluded from other employment, would be a start. We need legislators who do more than their employer's bidding. A reasonable salary would attract more qualified people and discourage abuse of legislative perks. Term limits would diminish the need to raise money and would reduce the power of incumbency. Limits should apply to legislative aides.

It should be illegal for a legislator to become a lobbyist for five years. Too many former legislators have used their legislative service as a launching pad to become rich and powerful. If we cannot move the capitol to a more populated place, we should require lobbyists to wear spin-and-glo-colored clothing while hallway cameras monitor how they direct traffic.

I am grateful for folks who weigh in with well-considered analysis of what is in our collective best interest. I look forward to when that becomes the criteria for legislative

— Larry Cohn

Sullivan spreads myths
about Planned Parenthood

Sen. Dan Sullivan continues to perpetuate myths about Planned Parenthood and federal funding for health care in contacts with constituents. The 40-year-old Hyde Amendment prohibits any federal funding to be used for abortions, yet he claims in a recent letter that he "believes" that it does.

He further claims that federally qualified health centers could absorb Planned Parenthood's patients and be a safety net for those losing coverage under this and other resources at jeopardy under the GOP's health care plans.

These are two often-repeated myths that are unsupported by truth. The CEO of the largest community health center in Alaska recently stated that they simply do not have the capacity to take on the services and patients should such defunding occur. She further went on to state that such cuts would leave many low income Alaskans at risk of losing access to health care altogether.

Attempts to demonize Planned Parenthood in order to pander to anti-choice ideologies does nothing but hurt low-income men and women throughout the country. Now is the time for Sullivan to follow the lead of Sen. Lisa Murkowski in supporting Planned Parenthood, protect Medicare and Medicaid in Alaska and improve our health care system, not to recklessly dismantle existing health care providers.

— Paige R. Hodson

Kids, safety depend on your vote

Many of us are tired of politics and government — I get it. But if you care about our kids' schools, want our roads to be plowed properly, or are concerned about our police department, you need to pay attention to our municipality, where those issues take place. Read the League of Women Voters ballot review you received in the mail, or find it online at

I am pleased to see so many quality candidates running in the Anchorage municipal election. We have great candidates for Assembly, including Suzanne LaFrance, Felix Rivera and Gretchen Wehmhoff. And Andy Holleman is perfect for the Anchorage School Board. See more on the candidates' websites or social media pages, and go to bat for the ones you support.

Our kids, our safety, depend on us. Take a few minutes to get involved. And, most importantly, vote early or on April 4!

— Cheryl Lovegreen

Rep. Young, vote no on AHCA

I am a family physician working at the Providence Family Medicine Clinic in Anchorage and as such, I am very invested in the health and well-being of my patients — your constituents.

I am gravely concerned by the possibility that you will vote to pass the American Health Care Act which is simply more of a tax cut than a health bill. The bill does nothing to address the aspects of our health care system that need the most revision — our lack of emphasis and access to basic primary care and our costly obsession with downstream specialty interventions. Not only does it not address what is most important, it also presents the threat of actual harm by revoking the Medicaid expansion, capping Medicaid funding, and by removing funding for addiction and mental health services. All of these threatened services, as you seem to have recognized, are extremely vital to Alaskans.

Our state would be far worse off under the AHCA than it is currently under the ACA with all of its faults. I think you and other members of the House can do better, and I am asking you to vote no on the AHCA as it stands now. No one will fault you for taking the time to come up with a better plan. One that actually fulfills the promises that have been made to the American people — or better yet, reaches beyond those promises to lay down a platform to create a monumental shift in our nation's health care toward a single-payer system.

Your time and your consideration are appreciated. I look forward to congratulating you on your choice to stand up for Alaskans who, like all other Americans, deserve far better than the AHCA.

— Devery Mitchell, MD

Trouble with modern liberals

Here's the simple and basic explanation of the modern liberal, and why they are wrong not just on some issues, but on most issues. They frequently side with the lesser over the better, the wrong over the right, the evil over the good. Their worldview is that there is no right or wrong, but that everything is relative. What is truth? It's only an opinion. Many liberals seem to live by an ideology that consists of three pillars: Be yourself, do what feels good and hold yourself in higher esteem than others.

They seem to be enemies with those who believe in God and the Bible. The Bible is full of God's opinions — and says wisdom comes from a reverence for God, that there is a right or wrong, better or worse, good or bad way to live. If we choose God's way, we will be successful in all things. The Ten Commandments, if followed, lead to a better life and peaceful societies on earth.

I remember getting knowledge in schools, U.S. Air Force classes, friends in the workplace — but I got wisdom from my parents; my father was a minister. Actually that wisdom came from the Bible. Examples: Don't have sex outside of marriage. That's worked out great, for my wife and I just had our 60th anniversary. Be thrifty and save money. My last car payment was in 1959. I never paid interest on a credit card. I don't use tobacco, drink alcohol or use drugs. We have kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, and none of them have ever used them. I've been blessed with great health, and I still play racquetball.

While many modern liberals seem to believe all points of view are equally valid, they have no tolerance for the point of view that disagrees with theirs, being quick to call those who disagree either bigots or phobic. They've had great success in winning converts to the liberal doctrine in our public schools and universities. You may have noticed that in many of our universities dissenting views are not tolerated. Rather than debate, they prefer to call you stupid, bigoted, evil, phobic or greedy, and not hear you at all.

In my experience, most modern liberals work in the rhetoric industries: academe, journalism, entertainment, or in the fields of psychology, politics, community organizing, rights activism and social work. Fewer seem to be in the business of building, making or repairing things.

Signed by a Christian and working man.

— Ray Maines

Constitution explicitly designed
to frustrate presidents

Contemplating the Eisenhower presidency, Harry Truman predicted, "He'll sit here, and he'll say, 'Do this! Do that!' And nothing will happen. Poor Ike — it won't be a bit like the Army. He'll find it very frustrating."

Truman was wrong, of course. Not surprisingly for a man who had dealt with such strong-willed people as Patton, Montgomery, Churchill and de Gaulle, Eisenhower proved remarkably adept at dealing with the frustrations of the American presidency. By some accounts, Ike handled those frustrations even better than Truman.

One president who is not handling them at all well is Donald Trump. When the press says unwelcome things about him, he bellows and thrashes about like a wounded bull. And like a wounded bull, all his bellowing and thrashing only weaken him. Likewise his knickers-in-a-twist caterwauling when the federal courts block his orders. One can only wonder how he will respond when, as seems certain, he is thwarted by Congress.

What Trump seems unable to grasp is that the U.S. Constitution was explicitly and intentionally designed to frustrate presidents. The structural dysfunction of American government was guaranteed by Founding Fathers who were deeply suspicious of any authority that might be too efficient and too powerful. When the cogs in the wheels of American government lock in an unwelcome impasse, presidents may pound their desks in frustration. But they are living out the intentions of the men who designed our federal government.

Successful presidents have recognized the constitutionally imposed limitations on their authority. They may have grumbled about a "do nothing Congress" (Truman) or tried to pack the Supreme Court (Roosevelt). But by and large they have accepted and made the best of the limitations and frustrations of their job. Any president not willing to do likewise should recognize that he is unsuited for the presidency and submit his resignation.

— Dale Gerboth

The views expressed here are the writers' own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a letter under 200 words for consideration, email letters@alaskadispatch.com, or click here to submit via any web browser. Submitting a letter to the editor constitutes granting permission for it to be edited for clarity, accuracy and brevity. Send longer works of opinion to commentary@alaskadispatch.com.