Sunday, March 29, 2009

Reflecting on Alaska State Representative Mike Doogan and Related Things

It was never my intent to become a blogger.

I was perfectly content to read the blogs of others, be they from Alaska, or anywhere. Merely offering what I'd hoped were insightful comments, and perhaps trying, in my own way, to inject a bit of my odd brand of humor into the mix was plenty for me.

I figured the last thing the world needs is another blogger.

But a few days ago, thanks to Alaska State Representative Mike Doogan (State House District 25), I became inspired.

Though not one of Mr. Doogan's constituents, I'm an Alaskan. Since the actions he takes as a State Legislator affect me too, I believe I have a right to comment on those actions.

I also believe I have the right to remain anonymous if I so choose.

A few days ago, because he was the subject of her blog, Rep. Doogan took it upon himself to "out" the identity of an internationally known Alaskan blogger, the Alaska Muckraker, who publishes at Mudflats. The Muckraker became known during the last Presidential Campaign, offering insight and information about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Senator McCain's chosen VP running mate. Mudflats now has literally thousands of readers, and the Muckraker is a regular contributor to what is undoubtedly America's best-known blog site, The Huffington Post.

The Muckraker's sin against Mr. Doogan?

Publishing actual, verbatim copies of "official" emails Doogan sent to persons who happened to disagree with him! His responses to those people was arrogant, snarky, condescending, and for lack of any better adjective coming to mind, downright rude. I guess he thought no one else besides the intended recipient would ever see them.

Mike, if you didn't want those emails finding their way onto the internet, and into the hands of a blog-reading constituency, you should have never sent them. Being a trifle more polite might have served you well.

The reasons for AK Muckraker's desire to remain anonymous are her own. I need not elaborate further on what has already been so eloquently explained in the above link.

If you, gentle reader, have any superficial knowledge about Mr. Doogan's history, his actions might come as a bit of a surprise to you. After all, Mike spent many years as a journalist and columnist, working for the Anchorage Daily News, right? Don't journalists usually try to protect anonymous sources?

Well, apparently, in his time there (although he makes damned sure to credit himself with a piece of the Pulitzer that the ADN won in 1989), one must assume that Mike never actually did any real investigative journalism. If he had, he'd realize that (as any person practicing that profession knows) sometimes, just sometimes, for their own protection, sources need to remain anonymous.

Many journalists have proudly served jail time for refusing to reveal sources... a fact apparently lost on "hey everybody, look at me - I'm a journalist" Doogan.

Mike really isn't a journalist in the conventional sense of the word. No, Mike is famous (a term used loosely) for attempting to make like Dave Barry, writing a sometimes humorous, sometimes op/ed piece for the ADN. To his credit, his column was topical, and often very funny.

But if you actually know Mike Doogan, even superficially (especially since he got elected), this comes as little surprise at all.

Mike Doogan is his own biggest fan. To offer any criticism of him, even in a constructive way, is to invite his petulant wrath.

Never burdened with a small ego, the fact that he managed to get elected twice has apparently puffed him up to the point that it is obvious, to him anyway, that he is Far Smarter and Much More Clever Than You. If you don't believe that, just ask him. I am quite positive he'll inform you of his belief in no uncertain terms (pointing to his MFA degree and his several published detective novels as proof of his intellectual superiority).

As justification for revealing the heretofore unknown identity of AK Muckraker, Doogan espouses his ardent belief that (to paraphrase the ADN's Alaskan Ear columnist Sheila Toomey) "if you're going to mouth off publicly in an effort to influence the politics of thousands of people, you need to let people know who you are -- identity being an element in evaluating the worth of opinion."

That's all fine and good, Mr. Doogan. You're entitled to your belief.

I'm just happy that you weren't around when 16-year old Benjamin Franklin "blogged" under the name of "Silence Dogood." You would have made damned sure the boy never was around to help bring about the United States of America, instead relegating him to a colonial British prison for daring to anonymously mock numerous aspects of life in colonial America.

I'm extremely happy that you weren't around when Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison penned the Federalist Papers using the "blog" name Publius. The U.S. Constitution (which incidentally protects Muckraker's right to privacy) might have never been ratified, and our fledgling republic turned into a shambles. But hey - you'd have protected the American people from an anonymous "effort to influence the politics of thousands of people." I'm sure you'd have taken great pride in that accomplishment.

So you don't like it when anonymous persons say "bad things" (like maybe... the truth?) about politicians, Mike? Heck, let's go one step further. Let's junk all those "whistleblower" laws. If someone doesn't want to bear the consequences of blowing the whistle on political corruption or crime, they should just shut the hell up, right?

Oh - I know! Let's also get rid of that pesky Federal Witness Protection program while we're at it! If a witness doesn't have the cojones to testify against people like John Gotti - being fitted with "concrete shoes" or the taking"a dirt nap" in a New Jersey landfill be damned - then they can just screw off. Gotti and people like him should be allowed to walk.

Frankly, Mr. Doogan, I believe you've stepped in it this time.

You got elected, and reelected, simply because you are a Democrat (and I say that tongue-in cheek), running in what is a solidly Democratic House District. You aren't a champion of the Alaskan people. You aren't even a champion of your constituents. You're a champion of little other than your own ego.

Here's hoping that a reasonable alternative opposes you in the primary election in 2010.
I can't vote for them, but I will certainly send them some money so that you can concentrate full-time on that budding novelist career. The people of House District 25 will be better served, and my State will be better served.

In fact, you yourself may be better served, since you have neither the personality nor the temperament to serve as a State Representative.