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GOOD MORNING, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017…Our subscriber list is 8,345 today…Forward this to friends and colleagues…The Alaska conservative movement grows with shares!…New Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel has named Matt Pinnell to oversee her transition team…Super Bowl 51 is just ahead with the New England Patriots vs. the Atlanta Falcons in Houston, Texas on Feb. 5…
Visit www.mustreadalaska.com, where we are a pussy hat-free zone…National stuff at the top of this week’s newsletter…Skip down if you are in serious eye-roll mode about the day of national hand wringing or are curious about the gasline hearing today…But first…
DAY FOUR OF TRUMP: The earth still spins on its axis. Liberal/progressives/neo-feminists/alt-lefts concocted their own weather system of fear and, having created a monster, are cowering from the Cat 5 storm of their imagination.
Rather than bash away at the precious snowflakes (and the temptation is rich), this is a teaching moment. Let there be light:
Lesson 1: Fear your government. One should always have a healthy suspicion of one’s government. Our Founding Fathers wanted us to be ready to revolt against those who rule us, should they get out of hand. Our Constitution and the Amendments protect us from both the government and mob rule.
Lesson 2: Elections matter, as President Obama was known to say. Eight years of Barack Obama subjugating our economy to ever-greater government control and the resulting, predictable slow growth, meant the rebellion was inevitable.
Lesson 3: Acceptance of each other’s values goes both ways.
OOPS, PARK SERVICE, YOUR BIAS IS SHOWING: The National Park Service tweeted an unflattering comparison of the 2009 and 2017 inauguration crowds, and also tweet-whined about the White House deleting website pages devoted to gay rights and climate wrongs.
The Trump Administration told the Department of Interior to stand down its Twitter account. The Park Service took a 24-hour time-out. Twitter liberals lost their minds.
The Park Service does not give crowd estimates after a controversy over the Million Man March in 1995.
But stay with us…
YES, THE CROWD DID APPEAR SMALLER: There, we said it. But why? Did more show up for Obama’s inaugural in 2009? Yes. It was deeply historic, as he was the first non-anglo president in our nation’s history. That, plus his decisive swamping of McCain/Palin:
Barack Obama: 365 electoral votes, 69,456,897 popular vote
John McCain: 173 electoral votes, 59,934,814 popular vote
Barack Obama: 332 electoral votes, 65,915,795 popular vote
Mitt Romney: 206 electoral votes, 60,933,504 popular vote
Donald J. Trump: 306 electoral votes, 62,979,636 popular vote
Hillary Clinton: 232 electoral votes, 65,844,610 popular vote
Washington, D.C. is pure Obama Country: Government workers, nonprofit headquarters, and a whole lot of public employee unions.
This is how DC voted in 2016:
DC showed up for the “hope and change” larger government Obama promised them during the campaign when he declared: “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”
By 2013, the crowd for Obama’s second swearing-in was smaller than his first. It was no longer a novelty.
Trump scares the DC establishment. He represents people outside the Beltway, many of whom could not afford to travel for an inauguration. Trump represents a change from the status quo that the bureaucracy thrives on. Naturally, bureaucrats and functionaries did not show up to support him.
Instead, Trump voters were a rebellion against overreaching government. We loop back to the Park Service: To weigh in with an uninformed comparison of crowds between 2009 and 2017, while chuckling into their drab olive sleeves, is political.. But we accept their apology:
DEMO-CAT WOMEN MARCH: 56 percent of Alaskan voters picked Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.
But there are some profoundly angry women out there and they gathered Saturday to express their outrage at the rest of us, as seen on this sign from Sen. Berta Gardner’s Facebook page. Sen. Gardner attended the Juneau rally. It was definitely political:
HELLO KITTY? Like DC, Juneau is a government town. The per capital income is $63,000 — 112 percent of the state average. Most workers only log 37.5 hours per week of work. Juneau women earn 15 percent more than women nationally. Unemployment is the lowest in the state. Life is good in Juneau.
WHICH SHALL WE EMULATE?
NASTY ENOUGH? The most dangerous place to be in DC on Saturday was between a Hollywood actress and a microphone. To see Madonna channel her nasty woman, click here. Ashley Judd here. The sad fact is that many participants were vulgar and apparently unaware that they are part of the reason Donald Trump was elected.
WEIRD LITTLE FACT EXPLAINING TRUMP WIN: The Left has a short memory. They forget both H.R. Clinton and D.J. Trump were the most unlikable candidates in memory. A lot of voters didn’t like either of them when they went to the poll. And yet people voted. Read this fascinating breakdown offered by exit polling experts that explains how people decided.
TRUMP, EVERLASTINGLY UNDERESTIMATED: Our essay reflecting on Friday’s inauguration has gone viral on Facebook. If you missed it, read it here.
GOT ENERGY? Oil, gas, and coal policy is up on deck. President Trump may sign as many as 200 executive orders on Monday, after the ones he signed relating to risky mortgages and Obamacare over the weekend.
He is expected to roll out his America First Energy Plan. This may mean dismantling Obama’s Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule. In the waning days of the Obama Administration, Obama locked up extensive areas of Alaska and other Western states. Read more.
Read the leaked memo from the transition team that in December detailed all the energy plans Trump may be signing.
CHANGE AHEAD FOR ALASKA MEDICAID EXPANSION: Kellyanne Conway, senior adviser to President Trump, told NBC News’s Sunday Today that the Affordable Care Act will be replaced and in the process Medicaid will become a block grant program, meaning the federal government will give money to the states to implement Medicaid as appropriate.
“You really cut out the fraud, waste and abuse, and you get the help directly to them,” she said.
Medicaid is now funded by the federal government and states. Its open-spigot funding model means it currently pays for all health costs to which its beneficiaries are entitled. Alaska has one of the most generous Medicaid packages in the country.
A block grant program would change that, but block grants have their own worries.
More likely is a rollback. This is something that Gov. Bill Walker didn’t see coming when he expanded Medicaid in Alaska, which now looks set to be a massive budget buster. Check back with Must Read Alaska’s blog for more this week. We’ll tackle it.
LIMITING OBAMACARE’S UNDUE BURDEN: Trump’s first executive order.
OUR SHAPE-SHIFTING GOV: 2015 and 2017 side-by-side, Governor Bill Walker, squiring President Obama around, and on the right, attending the Inauguration of President Donald Trump.
I DON’T THINK ‘HIRING FREEZE’ MEANS WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS: The governor keeps hiring, and he’s building a re-election campaign team on the public dime. And during a time of fiscal crisis. His PR team now says it’s not really a freeze, but a restriction. But that’s not what they said a year ago:
SENATE MAJORITY DOES A POLL. TAKE IT HERE: Word is they will close down the polling tonight, so waste no time in telling our senators what you think is important.
GOVERNOR STRUGGLES FOR A MESSAGE: The State of the State Address is described by one wag as a Saturday Night Live skit of a second-rate governor bumbling his way through a paint-by-number speech. Walker didn’t speak to legislators, but neither did he go around them and talk to their constituents. Our summary was more charitable.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE: This just kills us. Democratic Reps. Andy Josephson and Geran Tarr are the co chairs of House Natural Resources. They have started having hearings on various things, such as Mental Health Land Trust issues and the Governor’s LNG project.
What might we expect? They told the Alaska Center, formerly known as the Alaska Center for the Environment, last month:
Josephson-Tarr plan revealed their plans on Dec. 13, when they and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, were the special guests of the 20th Conservation Summit of the Alaska Center (for the Environment).
We took notes during the Facebook video as Josephson and Tarr spoke.
Here are our notes on what Josephson, Tarr and Mallott told the Alaska environmentalists:
Rep. Andy Josephson:
- Speaking directly to Alaska Center for the Environment: “Use my office and Rep. Tarr’s office as a virtual satellite office.”
- The federal government has been our ally.
- Carbon tax a good idea.
- Promises climate change hearings.
- “Eco-tourism” will be important.
- “I get emotional about this.”
- We’re looking at slow growth for Alaska.
- Hopes to stay in contact with Alaska Center for the Environment.
- He and Tarr attended the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators in Chicago in August.
Rep. Geran Tarr:
- “We don’t want a state where everyone get pushed to urban centers.”
- “Focus on fishing and tourism.” (It seemed to escape Tarr that both are seasonal industries, mainly low income.)
Lt. Gov. Mallott:
- We are in a “transitional economy.” (In other words, away from oil — the industry that has paid for our state government for 40 years and given us the lowest tax burden in the nation. Mallott wants to “transition” away from that.)
- Focus on emissions and carbon markets.
The Alaska Center for the Environment has pulled the video down, or we’d refer you to it to see for yourself.
We’re stunned at the generosity of these lawmakers, offering environmentalists from the Alaska Center for the Environment the use of official state offices to be used as satellite offices.
SENATE RESOURCES COMMITTEE: The Must-Tune-In hearing is Monday’s Senate Resources Committee update on Gov. Walker’s LNG project, at 3:30 pm in Room 205 of the Capitol. The House Resources Committee will have the same presentation earlier in the day.
Of interest will be who on the Governor’s team is trotted in front of the committee, since he has had 100 percent turnover on his gasline team. Keith Meyer, president of the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation who has had a rocky start with the Legislature, will not be there because he is in Japan at his new Tokyo office. Two vice presidents will do the update today.
As for DNR, gone are experts Commissioner Mark Myers and then Marty Rutherford, defenders of the constitutional obligation to market gas molecules. DNR will be phoning it in for this hearing, but who pulls the short straw of answering lawmakers’ questions remains to be seen.
We’re reminded of two years ago and that blistering six-hour hearing that the joint committees had in the Mat-Su. People still refer that as the moment when the governor lost credibility on his gasline plans.
Our testimony wasn’t invited, but we offer it nonetheless: The Governor’s Alaska Gasline Project is not commercially viable. There is a glut of gas out there. What hope it had left — to keep the A-list team of producers on board — was snuffed out by the Governor’s erratic conduct on the project. This is why the smart money ran for the exits.
The only possible way to make the numbers work now is for it to be state property, run it like a utility, and for the state to get some kind of tax relief from the federal government. This is where the governor is in his thinking, and it’s a long shot. One hurdle: The concept he now has and that AGDC is working on is not the gasline for which the Legislature appropriated funds. This is a new project with new players (i.e., no players) and new market realities. There may need to be some new enabling legislation.
The gasline cannot be built without a healthy oil industry in Alaska. Producers in Alaska lost money last year and this year they simply hope to break even. They can’t keep losing money in Alaska. Their balance sheet is essential to Alaska’s economic health.
NUANCED CHANGE IN GASLINE: A shift in messaging coming from the Governor and AGDC might be too subtle to notice, but we sense Gov. Walker has backed away from saying that the state leading the project is the same as building it or operating it. Both the governor and AGDC’s Keith Meyer are being a lot more careful how they phrase it these days.
We’ll be writing about it at Must Read Alaska today. Check the blog.
GOVERNOR CLOSES FISH TRADE OFFICE IN TOKYO; OPENS GAS OFFICE: He sure did keep it under wraps. No word as to what Walker will be doing about that long-promised Houston office. No word as to why AGDC is involved in the marketing of gas, when that is statutorily bound to the Department of Natural Resources.
PFD RESTORATION HEARING: The Senate State Affairs Committee meets Tuesday to hear Sen. Mike Dunleavy’s bill that would that would restore the half of the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend that Gov. Bill Walker vetoed last year. They’re lining up public testimony for Saturday.
‘KUMBAYA CAUCUS’ HOLES UP AT SEALASKA: Some sort of all-day caucus meeting on Saturday for the Alaska House Democratic Majority went down at Sealaska’s building, which our sources tell us was to try to mend a fractured caucus. “Open and transparent?” Where is the media now? You can watch the House Democratic Majority press conference every Tuesday at 9 am on Gavel Alaska. Maybe a member of the press will ask them.
NOWHERE-MAN, MAYOR BERKOWITZ: There were deaths in Anchorage parks last year, and Mayor Ethan Berkowitz was a no-show. For weeks on end, he had nothing to say and when he did, the community was having none of it.
There was a truly crazy man who got his gun back from the Anchorage Police Chief, and flew to Fort Lauderdale and killed several people. Mayor Ethan Berkowitz was a no-show — he had nothing to say. No words of condolence or prayers for the families of victims shot by an Anchorage resident who got his gun returned to him even though he had admitted to hearing voices that told him to hurt people.
There were wicked cold temperatures across the municipality and now frozen corpses are showing up, victims of hypothermia. The mayor is still a no-show: No warnings, no opening of warming shelters, or advising how to be sure you don’t die of carbon monoxide. Mayor Berkowitz just has nothing to say about any of this.
The last time the mayor said anything was in an op-ed right after the November General Election, where he all but declared Anchorage a sanctuary city. It was a thinly veiled rebuke to Donald Trump’s resounding victory in Alaska. It was no surprise then, when Mara, Berkowitz’s wife, was the keynote speaker at the Anchorage women’s march on Saturday.
ALERT: ONE WEEK LEFT TO SAVE ANCHORAGE SPENDING CAP: For the Anchorage spending cap, supporters have only until the end of January to collect signatures to get the matter on the April municipal ballot.
Sign a petition at one of these places: 907 Surplus on Boniface, Mike’s Quality Meats and Boondock Sporting Goods in Eagle River, and Gunrunners in midtown.
The petition puts the question onto the ballot to keep the liberal-dominant municipal assembly from blowing through the current spending cap.
BE A FOUNDING SUPPORTER OF MUST READ ALASKA.
It’s a secure site and a worthy cause: A conservative voice for Alaska.
REAL ALASKANS: Kuskokwim 300 is not for sissies. This weekend’s race was -40 with a windchill of -50. Not only are the mushers hearty people, but the spectators are, too. For the third year in a row, Pete Kaiser won the grueling race.
SITKA LOSES COAST GUARD CUTTER: The Coast Guard Cutter Maple heads south for a new home port in North Carolina after a stop for maintenance this spring, and Sitka will be without a large Coast Guard vessel for much of the year.
The Maple is designed to maintain buoys. The new vessel assigned to Sitka will come from Hawaii and is the same class of vessel, but is not going to arrive until 2018. It puts Alaskans at risk because the ships are also used for search and rescue.
PEOPLE: Happy birthday Charlie Huggins, sharing the same birthday with his daughter Hallie. Happy birthday Lesil McGuire. Someone having a birthday? Send a note, and we’ll note it here.
We heard through the grapevine that the new chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Ronna Romney McDaniel, is the power walking partner of Kristie Babcock, who is married to the Alaska Republican Party Chairman, Tuckerman Babcock. The two hit it off on a power walk while at the RNC meeting in DC. Several candidates were reported as likely to seek the position, including McDaniel. On December 14, 2016, McDaniel was chosen by President Trump as his recommendation to replace Reince Priebus. She was officially elected as RNC chairwoman on January 19.
Congrats to Ketchikan Borough Manager Ruben Duran, who replaces former borough manager Dan Bockhorst, who retired at the end of December after nine years on the job. Duran served as city attorney of Desert Hot Springs, so going to the rain forest will be an adjustment.
In Wrangell, Borough Manager Jeff Jabusch announced his retirement in September and the hiring committee is down to two.
Alaska campaign manager Harmony Rowe will be heading to Houston for Super Bowl 51. Are you going? Send us a note and we’ll stay in touch.
OUTRAGE OF THE WEEK: The media has finally found its next Trump target in Kellyanne Conway, the first female campaign manager to get a candidate to the presidency, who did so by outsmarting the Democrats and focusing on electoral wins. Talk about sexism — the liberals have it down pat: Live from New York, Saturday Night Live portrayed her as obsessed and media-vain. They never would have gone after a male campaign manager this way. They should have stuck to making fun of her on her “alternative facts” defense. Instead they went the sexist route.
CALENDAR – CHECK THE BLOG FOR UPDATES.
SAVE THE DATES:
Americans For Prosperity Alaska pours another round of its popular Pints and Policy series, this time featuring Jared Walczak of The Tax Foundation, and Jeremy Price of AFP Alaska:
FEB. 7, Cannery Lodge in Kenai
FEB. 8, 49th State Brewing in Anchorage
FEB. 9, The Annex in Palmer
FEB. 10, Westmark in Fairbanks
FEB. 18: Anchorage Republican Women’s Lincoln Day Dinner, Bridge Seafood Restaurant & Catering, 221 W. Ship Creek Ave, Anchorage. The speaker is conservative comedian Eric Golub, part of a tiny subspecies of comics who makes jokes at the expense of Democrats.
FEB. 17: Mat-Su Republican Women’s Lincoln Day Dinner.
FEB. 24-25: Juneau – Alaska Republicans’ State Central Committee quarterly meeting. Get your constituent fare nailed down now.
FEB. 25: Hunting Expo and Sportsman’s Banquet, Dena’ina Center. Tickets: http://www.aksafariclub.org/2013-banquet
FEB. 24, CAPITAL CITY REPUBLICANS LINCOLN DAY DINNER
A Wretched and Precarious Situation: In Search of the Last Arctic Frontier, by David Welky
Now that the inauguration is behind us, we need a break from politics.
David Welky, author and history professor, gives us that break. Here we have true grit, tragedy, and treachery rolled into Must Read Alaska Editor Suzanne Downing’s favorite genre: True adventure.
In Greenland’s Thule region, Commander Robert Peary’s party set up a base camp in the 1890s to launch a series of expeditions that would continue for several years, and culminate with the 1909 trek to the North Pole.
But in 1906, after failing to reach the North Pole, Peary was standing on a hill named Cape Colgate in northwest Greenland’s Ellesmere Island. Through his scope, he spotted a mountain range shimmering in the distance across the Arctic waters, that he dubbed “Crocker Land.” Crocker was the name of a banker in San Francisco who was one of his financial backers.
Except maybe there was no Crocker Land. This may have been a mirage, an optical illusion, or may have been an attempt to secure further support from Crocker for Peary’s 1909 expedition. Unfortunately for Peary, the San Francisco Earthquake struck and Crocker diverted all of his cash to rebuild the city. (To this day there is a Crocker neighborhood in San Francisco).
But never mind all that. Years later, Frederick Cook explored the region and returned to civilization with this message: Crocker Land was a myth. Two of Peary’s associates wanted to restore Peary’s reputation, so brought together a gaggle of adventurers to prove Cook wrong. They set out to find Crocker Land and hoped for some fame and fortune in the process. Even Theodore Roosevelt endorsed their expedition.
But the exploration of the mythical land quickly devolved into a nightmare. The ship, under the command of a drunk captain, hit the rocks. Bone-chilling hurricane blizzards whipped through, dwindling food supplies haunted the band of adventurers and mishaps, fights, and murder ensued. But the adventurers fought through the hardship and pressed on. Their return home was also protracted and unlikely, but they did make it home, although it took some of them years to get rescued.
“Making magnificent use of documents and recreating the years-long Arctic sojourn with the drama and immediacy of a tension-filled adventure novel, [Welky] conjures a romantic quest emblematic of the rugged manliness of the time…vastly entertaining,” says Kirkus Review. We ditto that.
More Welky writings can be found in The Thousand-Year Flood: The Ohio-Mississippi Disaster of 1937, The Moguls and the Dictators: Hollywood and the Coming of World War II. He teaches history at the University of Central Arkansas.
“I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth.”
– Steve McQueen