Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Second Week - Wednesday Morning - Prelude

Philip Munger: Closing arguments today. I heard each side wants about four hours, which is hard to believe. But it looks to me that the prosecution has presented the information they needed to show to prove their case. Barely. But they need to avoid the clutter that diluted this simple matter in their presentation of the prosecution's case last week.

The defense needs to get lucky. Vic Kohring's Russian good luck folk charm and John Henry Browne's elegant but forceful presentation of Kohring as victim might have already lost their novelty and luster.

Last week I mentioned the feelings some of us seemed to share after watching the video of Kohring asking Bill Allen for money, and of Kohring accepting some of it from Bill Allen and Rick Smith. I felt, as I said at the time, that:

There was an enormous gulf in the way he verbalized - so cleanly, so utterly non-profane - and the sleaziness of what he was actually, and to observers, obviously doing. I think that bothered me even more than the contrasts between his faux guile and Allen's overly done earthiness.

But Anchorage Daily News columnist, and longtime observer of the Alaskan soul, Michael Carey, has distilled his feelings about that incident, and the overall sleazily slick feeling of Kohring's modus operendi quintissentially in his recent ADN column, which I'll quote here in entirety:

The FBI audio and video surveillance tapes of Vic Kohring may prove he is a criminal. Or maybe not. Let the jury decide.

The Vic Kohring on tape with Veco executives Bill Allen and Rick Smith is incapable of adult conversation. He is a supplicant. Asking for money. Or a truck. Or a job for his nephew. Or, for God's sake, a hamburger. And always -- always -- for approval and sympathy.

Sometimes his search for approval is accompanied by bragging about his conservative pro-business beliefs. Sometimes his search for sympathy is accompanied by complaints about his health.

But in every conversation, Vic is a cloying mixture of neediness and manipulation. Vic's enemies -- and some friends -- have portrayed him as an air-headed innocent. He's not. He is blatantly calculating, if primitive, in attempting to satisfy his needs.

On the telephone or in the infamous Baranof Suite 604, Vic follows a careful script that's an elevated form of panhandling. He starts with breezy ingratiating chatter, usually punctuated by recitations of how hard he is working, makes a few comments about the political scenes, and then reaches the nut of the call: Give me something.

If Vic Kohring could sing, his signature song would be The Temptations' "Ain't Too Proud to Beg."

When Vic asks for help, for example the "loan" to pay off his credit card bill, he's also reciprocal. Hey fellas, anything I can do for you? I'll be your lobbyist. I'll influence other legislators. What do you need? For Vic Kohring, politeness is a form of currency. He seems to believe that by saying "thank you" he has traded equally.

If Allen and Smith weren't trained psychologists, they were smart enough to understand Vic's haplessness and dependency. Hence Allen's belief Vic will "kiss our ass."

How could a man like Vic Kohring rise so far in politics?

Well, give him credit: He campaigned relentlessly and repeatedly told his constituents what they wanted to hear about less government and lower taxes. Things like, in a Daily News interview, "The welfare situation is an area that's gotten way out of control. Too many freebies are taking away incentive, personal satisfaction and control of one's destiny."

And he certainly was polite.

He also was lucky. Vic always was in the majority while in the House of Representatives. If he had been in the minority, he would have remained a zealous conservative back-bencher of no consequence. As a long-serving member of the Republican majority, he could demand positions of influence.

And did.

His Republican colleagues made him chairman of the House Oil and Gas Committee. Then wouldn't send him the Petroleum Production Tax bill because they feared he would kill it.

Speaker John Harris and his colleagues should be ashamed of themselves. Vic Kohring shouldn't have been trusted to run anything, let alone the Oil and Gas Committee. I wouldn't trust him to pick up the ice cream for a church social. To buy it, he would have to bum money from a lobbyist.

As a legislator, Vic displayed minimal brain power and an unwillingness to learn. He mastered a few conservative slogans before he entered the Legislature and that was the extent of his knowledge. He was prepared to give the oil companies hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks because he self-righteously and piously believed oil industry good, government bad.

I have watched the Alaska Legislature for 40 years. Vic Kohring is the only lawmaker I have ever seen who learned nothing during his years of service. He was the same person the day he departed as the day he entered.

You might look at the FBI tapes of Vic Kohring in action and decide Vic doesn't belong in jail. But I don't think anybody, including Vic's lawyer John Henry Browne, could look at those tapes and conclude Vic Kohring ever belonged in the Alaska Legislature.

1 comment:

Dave said...

Phil Munger, who quotes Carey in his online writings here, like Dan Fagan, who quoted him on the air, is without philosophical independence and is easily seduced by the World view of Vic's main destroyer, a sick, evil man who continues to savage Kohring because at some level he knows he is responsible for this horror.

Further spreading the character assassination of an admitted public liar Michael Carey -- a man who has been having his way with Alaska for too many years -- is a public health menace. Anyone could be savaged and picked apart in this manner, especially, promiscuous midgets like Munger and Fagan, who writhe with pleasure in Carey's bed of lies as if they are recently deflowered mistresses in his philosophical harem.

Munger, bearing Carey's philosophical message into the World, no longer needs a maternity dress.