Newsletter outtakes: Bathrooms, bombs, budget blues


From today’s Must Read Alaska Monday morning newsletter. Sign up at the right and get the full edition every Monday.


GOOD MORNING ALASKA … Last week was a train wreck for health care in Alaska, and a sad week for Alaska conservatives who feel abandoned by their senior senator … A fresh slate awaits us for August … Must Read Alaska is taking a one-week August (working) recess … Special thanks to the financial supporters of this newsletter and the news web site …But first …


AUGUST RECESS: The U.S. House ended its work Friday and won’t reconvene until Sept. 5. The Senate, however, has a last day of Aug. 11. When Congress returns, it will have just 12 days to raise the debt ceiling or the government will not be able to borrow more money to pay its bills. Bills like Obamacare insurance company bailouts and massive Medicaid expansions.

TRUMP’S PLAY: President Trump could amp up his efforts to reform health care by cutting off taxpayer subsidies for Congress’ health insurance. That’s right — Congress put itself under the “small business” category to get subsidies from Obamacare. How did that happen?

WITHHOLDING INFORMATION: Gov. Bill Walker’s administration has not yet released what the cost of health insurance will be for 2018 for those forced into the Obamacare market. Premera has slipped the magic number to the State, but Health and Social Services Commissioner Valerie Davidson is keeping it under wraps. It’s now August; consumers need to budget for next year’s enrollment, which starts in just three months.

WHO’S IN BIGGER TROUBLE – TRUMP OR MURKOWSKI? Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski doesn’t have to run for office for five more years, whereas President Donald Trump has to run in three years. He has to survive politically for that long, which seems a long shot, since draining the swamp is always hazardous to one’s political health.

PEGGY NOONAN CALLS TRUMP A WHINER: Conservative columnist Peggy Noonan said President Trump’s biggest flaw undermining his own power is that he lacks traditionally masculine characteristics: Strength, self-control, coolness, toughness, and determination. Instead, “…he’s whiny, weepy and self-pitying,” she wrote Thursday night in the Wall Street Journal. “He throws himself, sobbing, on the body politic. He’s a drama queen.” She has a point.

MATT DRUDGE PULLS NO PUNCHES: Drudge pulled this old campaign ad out of the dustbin and reminded us all of what McCain once stood for:

MEDIA LYNCH-MOB MENTALITY: After leaving his job as White House Chief of Staff last week, Priebus told Sean Hannity that the national press is flat-out “dishonest.” 

CAPITAL BUDGET: Gov. Bill Walker and House Democrats pulled the plug on the Juneau Access project, which was shovel ready and would have provided hundreds of jobs for a dozen years. Instead, the compromise capital budget sends the money to “study” a road in the Arctic.

The study provides a few government and contract jobs and guarantees years of litigation, whereas the Juneau Access project had jumped through all the hoops. Once again, Gov. Bill Walker talks about liking to build things, but when push comes to shove, he can’t get the bulldozer.

“Alaskans can rest assured that construction and maintenance projects can continue, and jobs will be provided for them, their friends, and neighbors,” the governor said. Who writes this stuff?

Construction unions were despondent. They gathered at the Capitol to try to persuade the governor to head the right direction on the road to Juneau. One union representative was seen leaving the Capitol building on Thursday, shaking her head and saying, “This is a sad day for Alaska.”

WALKER SAYS HE’S RUNNING: Bill Walker told Becky Bohrer of the Associated Press that he’s sure he’ll run for governor again, but first he needs to get some taxes in place. For some reason, AP still calls him a Republican-turned-Independent, even though there is no such designation as Independent and even though he aligned with the Democrats to get himself elected, and they dropped their own candidate to support him. He has governed well left of center, but the media still likes to call him a Republican.

KAWASAKI FILES FOR SENATE: As expected, Rep. Scott Kawasaki has filed a challenge to Sen. Pete Kelly for his Fairbanks seat. This either ends very well because Kawasaki will be out of the House, or would end badly if the Senate’s conservative majority lost one of its most careful and knowledgeable warriors.

BLOCK THIS: Rep. Les Gara is famous in political circles for how he blocks people on his official Twitter account just because he doesn’t like them and doesn’t agree with their politics. He shares that habit with President Donald Trump, another notorious blocker.

Last week, a federal court ruled against a local politician for doing exactly what Gara does. The judge says the First Amendment prohibits officeholders with official social media accounts from blocking other users from accessing their sites because of their views.

We’ll be waiting for journalists and gadflies everywhere to file a similar lawsuit against Gara to force him to stop abridging citizens’ rights.

BATHROOMS AND BALLOTS: The Anchorage Municipal ballot in April will ask voters if they support gender-specific bathrooms or if anything goes in restrooms, public and private, in the city. In spite of intolerant actions of the Americans for Civil Liberties, which tried to stop petitioners from gathering signatures, the people will have their say.

Mayor Ethan Berkowitz immediately issued a statement: “I oppose this now certified initiative petition. It is divisive and distracting at a time when we should be united and focused on the issues that impact Anchorage every day — making sure we have good jobs and a growing economy, that our neighborhoods are safe, and we continue to reduce the number of individuals experiencing homelessness in our community.”

MAYOR ETHAN THEN SEZ: At the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation meeting last week, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz said, “Anchorage is an island of stabiity in a sea of chaos and tumult.” Was he referring to the leadership of Gov. Bill Walker or simply trying to downplay the crime wave and homelessness that has swept over the city during his own reign?

MISSILES AND MOOSE: Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz is famous for saying he’s more concerned about bear and moose than bombs and missiles. But the citizens of Ibaraki Prefecture in Japan are taking North Korea’s missile tests seriously. They took part in an evacuation drill Saturday. As a siren sounded, residents were ordered to evacuate to a school gymnasium.

This weekend, Pyongyang launched a second ballistic missile that landed in Japanese waters about 88 miles from Hokkaido. The US flew two supersonic B-1B bombers over the Korean peninsula on Sunday in a saber-rattling maneuver.

Also on Sunday, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency shot down a medium-range test missile from Kodiak. The medium range missiles are different from the long-range missiles being tested by the North Koreans. The latest U.S. test of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system was planned well before North Korea’s latest missile launch, but it comes at a time of rising tension since Pyongyang launched its test of an ICBM on July 4.

According to Japan Times, fisherman working off the coast of of Hokkaido were angry and fearful.

“We can’t lower our guard as we don’t know when they will launch,” an 83-year-old sea urchin fisherman Takashi Tobuyama told Japan Times. “But we can’t keep looking up while we are fishing.”

Japan has several U.S. military bases, which would be a staging point from which U.S. troops and materiel would flow through in the event of any conflict on the Korean Peninsula. The U.S. also has major military installations in South Korea.


In Sitka on Friday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, there for a tour of Mt. Edgcumbe Hospital. Lisa received a lot of love in Sitka for her support of Obamacare. In Haines, Gov. Bill and Donna Walker and family, and Lt. Gov. Byron and Toni Mallott walked in the parade and attended the Southeast Alaska State Fair, because it’s campaign season. The Walkers took the M/V Fairweather.

Spotted in Ketchikan, Klawock, Craig, and Metlakatla over the weekend, Sen. Dan Sullivan.


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  1. Thanks for all your hard work and reporting Suzanne! Enjoy your break. Hopefully a special session to institute a broad-based tax won’t be called while you are taking some time off. 🙂

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