Eagle River false flag, flag of convenience, and RINO

Art Chance
Art Chance



False flag. Flag of convenience. The terms are from an old maritime vocabulary.

In the days of pirates, privateers, letters of marque and reprisal, and commerce raiding, ships often carried a flag, national ensign is the correct term, of a country other than the one they were registered in or their owners resided in.

If the British and Spanish were at war, it was a lot safer to be flying an American or Dutch flag than a British or Spanish flag.

Confederate commerce raiders during the Civil War all but drove the US flag off the seas; US flagged ships either remained in port or flew the flag of some other nation, usually Britain.

Admiral Raphael Semmes, captain of the CSS Alabama and a lawyer as well, and the biggest contributor to driving US flagged commerce off the high seas, would intercept ships that “looked American” but were flying some other flag and at gun point convene an admiralty court to determine the true nationality of the ship.

Even if it was obviously an American built ship, if the master could credibly show that it was really a neutral-owned ship, he shook the master’s hand and sent him on his way; if not, he captured the crew and passengers , claimed the ship as a prize, or burned it, usually the latter.

Flags of convenience long ago were a standard ploy for ships in dangerous places; they just flew the ensign of the nation less likely to cause them trouble as they sailed dangerous waters.

The only real rule was when they entered a port, they were supposed to fly their flag of registration; some did, some didn’t.

In modern times that has morphed into registering a ship in the country that has the easiest regulations and lowest taxes; just look at all the ships registered in Liberia, Panama, or the Bahamas, most of which have never seen those places.


The term RINO has no relationship to ships.  RINO is the term invented by quasi-libertarians and self-styled “true conservatives” to describe Republicans with whom they disagree; Republican In Name Only.

I suppose there are some, but I prefer to describe them as wearing that “R” as a flag of convenience. Since the early 1980s there have only been a handful of districts in Alaska that you could get elected from with a “D” behind your name.

I’ve known and worked with a lot of elected and appointed officials from whom you couldn’t buy an intelligent conversation about policy and who had no real political foundation but  flew that “R” flag because they could get through dangerous political waters flying that flag rather than another.

We can now try to relate this to today’s politics in Alaska. There are some figures in Republican politics whose fidelity to Republican Party principles I would question. The Democrats did us the favor of making some of them an attractive offer to strike their color of convenience and come to their true allegiance. We know who they are.

Then there is the union/Democrat plan to field candidates flying false flags. These are people who are rock-ribbed Democrats, but because of the political composition of the district couldn’t possibly win an election as a Democrat.   There have been several of them, and a couple have been elected. The unions and Democrats have actively recruited them, financed them, and provided them with their organization and muscle – mostly illegally, but nothing is illegal if nobody enforces the law.

At least AFL-CIO’s Vince Beltrami, when he ran for the State Senate, made himself into some sort of Independent, Bill Walker style.  Now they’ve increased the audacity; they’re running union/Democrat made-assets claiming to be “conservative Republicans.”

Kelly Merrick, candidate for House District 14.

In Eagle River we have the wife of union man Joe Merrick, whose entire family income comes from the union, running in the Republican primary claiming to be a “conservative Republican.”

I’m sorry, but you cannot be the wife of a Laborers’ union business manager and be a “conservative Republican.”

[Read: Getting the band back together: Musk Ox Coalition gets labor money]

Trade unionists have hating Republicans in their genes. Two drinks and a few minutes’ conversation with any old union hand about the Taft-Hartley Amendments to the National Labor Relations Act will have tears in the union guy’s eyes and a rant about the evil Republicans – and that grudge goes back to 1948.

Unions, like law firms, will designate some of their staff to be Democrats and some Republicans. You didn’t see it much in the rest of the state, but in Juneau you knew the designated Republicans in a union just as you knew the designated Republicans and Democrats in a law firm.

Kelly Merrick is flying a false flag; she’s no more a “conservative Republican” than I’m a Bernie Sanders-supporting millennial. She is one of Vince Beltrami’s false flag Republicans recruited to run in Republican districts and then caucus with the Democrats.

The people of Eagle River deserve better than this exercise in cynical politics.

Art Chance is a retired Director of Labor Relations for the State of Alaska, formerly of Juneau and now living in Anchorage. He is the author of the book, “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance,” available at Amazon. Chance coined the phrase “hermaphrodite administration” to describe a governor who is simultaneously a Republican and a Democrat. This was a grave insult to hermaphrodites, but he has not apologized.



  1. Well, Art, I understand your perspective. I also don’t know much about Kelly Merrick. But I do know several couples who are married (some more than 2 or 3 decades) and do not share political positions at all. Sad to taint someone with a breath that goes no more than son deep.

    • I knew a lot of the “power couples” in Juneau; they either didn’t get married or didn’t take his name; they did everything they could to hide the fact that they slept in the same bed, at least most nights. Sorry, when you get your money where you get your honey, you’re very cognizant of where you get your money.

  2. “When you get your money where you get your honey, you’re very cognizant of where you get your money”. That is sweet Art! And something I might steal and use someday. Maybe one of the best lines in this election cycle.

  3. And who then do you suppose people of district 14 vote for? Allard who has only lived here for a couple of years and hasn’t even bothered to vote In the past several elections? Who is being puppeteered by Lora Reinbold, who can’t even sponsor a single bill and gets kicked out of the caucus by the Republican Party? Really? This is a ridiculous hit peice on a deeply conservative woman. Kelly Merrick grew up in Alaska, she is firmly pro-life having been adopted, she is family values to the core and she is endorsed by Don Young! Kelly is the kind of a candidate who can actually work well with others to get things done and get Alaska back to work. It is offensive to me as woman, that a MAN would write an article this long assuming that a grown, intelligent, we’ll educated woman in 2018 couldn’t possibly be a republican if her husband worked for the union. Are you serious?! Pull your head out of the 1950’s please sir, you are clearly what’s wrong with this country!

    • You lefties are one trick ponies; so your only play is that I’m a misogynist. Well you’ve still got a couple of stupid lefty buzzwords left. Being on Young’s staff is meaningless; he holds Statewide office and has to get along with Lefties and actual people. So, go die.

      • Wow! I’ve actually been a registered republican for most of my life, thank you very much. I’m very good friends with Amy Demboski, even though we are supporting different republican candidates this go around in the primary. You are aware that a strong conservative woman like Amy, is also married to a high ranking firefighter who is part of a union, right? (oh the scandal!) “go die” really?! You just lost all credibility, with your immature response. Classy! But thanks for the screen shots. I’ll
        Be sharing them. Maybe you’ll be this week’s “loose unit” haha

        • There is one Helluva lot of difference between being a rank and file union member, especially when you have to be one to have your job, and being union paid staff; you literally have to be a “made man” as that term has meaning with other organizations. And I don’t give a good damn what you do.

    • Hi Tiffany. While you defend Kelly to be the opposite of a puppet, be careful with allegation that Mrs. Allard is such from Lora. After all, Jamie Allard doesn’t have 12 PACS donating to her campaign. Jamie is her own person who wants to represent all of Eagle River and greater Alaska, not for the benefit of just little feisty Lora Reinbold, but all Eagle River residents. As to Don Young, his contribution to Alaska has been nothing short of a lifetime of service and as a 30+ year Alaskan myself, I appreciate that. But many of us local voters are looking for people to represent us and our voice and not necessarily leaning on the word of lifelong politicians. As you said, we can make our assessments and believe me, the people of Eagle River will be turning out for Jamie at the booth. As will the military- assuming they are not on active duty with other pressing American issues protecting our freedoms and liberties- like the Allard family did for nearly 30 years. Understandable they couldn’t always make voting a priority. They were defending America.

  4. Boy Mr. Chance, you really missed the mark on this one. It’s very obvious that you have never met Kelly Merrick, and it is a shame that you would write something like this without having done so. I was raised in Eagle River, am a lifelong Republican, and proudly support Kelly. For anyone that doubts whether or not she is a conservative republican, ask our lone Congressman Don Young, who has personally endorsed Kelly in this primary. I trust him to endorse strong republicans to send down to Juneau and represent our community. I will take his opinion over yours Mr. Chance.

    • Rep. Young, like the rest of the Alaska federal delegation for many, many years, has always had a fairly cozy relationship with at least the Building Trades and Marine unions. The pure public employee unions are a bit of a different matter, but they’ll endorse a Republican for cynical reasons if they don’t think they can beat him/her.

      She was his employee; you wouldn’t be surprised at such an endorsement. I know good Republicans who vouch for her. OK, so maybe she won’t go Musk Ox, or some other coalition with the unions/Democrats, though I’ll have to see it to believe it. What is she going to do if we have a Walker or Begich win and they negotiate a sweetheart deal with Laborers’ Local 71, representing the Labor, Trades, and Crafts employees of the State, and that has happened with Democrat governors in the past? Merrick’s husband by virtue of his office is on the Alaska District Council of Laborers, technically the governing body of all three Laborer’s locals in the State and about 2500 of the people whose dues support his union’s organization are covered by that contract. She’s going to have to push the red or green button on a report of monetary and if she votes “no” that directly effects members of her husband’s union. Let’s say, that the unions here do as they are doing in other states, and they’re one trick ponies, so they will, and start negotiating into their contracts or attempting to put in statute impediments to a State employee’s right to not be a member of the union or pay dues and fees as set out in the Janus decision. Assuming she actually does caucus with the Republicans and they have a majority, how will she vote on legislation to prevent union interference in the employees’ exercise of their rights, since that exercise will cost her husband’s union real money, and at some time that will cost her real money?

      And, frankly, I’m pretty confident that I know one Helluva lot more about State politics than you, Ms. Merrick, or Don Young; I wouldn’t argue much with Don on the yays and nays in a federal question, but he wouldn’t argue much with me on a State question, and we’ve had some pretty good discussions over the years.

  5. I find this whole discussion tedious. Are we only allowed to be married to people with whom agree on all subjects with? If that was the case then there would be a lot of marriage counselors out of business and a whole lot lower divorce rate. I find in my own life that healthy marital debate makes both people better. If you have sat down with her personally and verified all your facts/opinions then please say that, if this is just an opinion based off who she is married to then it seems to be more of the political rehetoric that honestly makes my stomach turn and me think less of those who write it. In full disclosure I know her quite well and I, unlike you, know the strength of her character and the depth of her convictions. It’s really a loss for you that you can’t claim the same privilege. And to be honest I could care less who someone is married to or how they fund their campaign, I care far more about their integrity and their ability to work with others to fix this states financial mess.

  6. I don’t know either candidate and was wondering who I should vote for. Now I do and it won’t be the one flying the flag of convenience. As usual, great article.

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