Commentary

The evil vote

satan

Alaska’s next governor?/Wikimedia Commons

Alaska voters appear headed to the polls today to make a choice between Satan and The Devil as their next governor.

Or so one might fairly conclude after driving around the state listening to political advertisements on the radio leading into this election.

The negatives thrown at Democratic candidate Mark Begich, the state’s former U.S. Senator, and Republican Mike Dunleavy, a former state legislator, have only two things in common.

No matter which of the two men is elected, it appears he is going to take away your Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) and turn the criminals loose on the streets.

Oh yeah, and if it’s Dunleavy, he also has a secret plan to give the Port of Anchorage to his rich, evil, Outside-businessman brother who is preparing to jack shipping rates sky-high to make a lot of money off struggling Alaskans.

Yes, it could happen. So could an invasion by aliens from space.

What the hell is going on in this country?

We can’t really blame the candidates personally for all of this negativity. Most of the ads aren’t sponsored by them, but by their supporters.

But then again, we can blame the candidates for this. They certainly haven’t been rushing to denounce the worst of the mudslinging.

“Going negative,” as it is said, has become an ugly trend in American politics, along with candidates accusing each other of going negative while they run feel-good ads about themselves.

Surely most Alaskans have by now seen the one wherein Begich talks about the never-solved disappearance of his father, Rep. Nick Begich, and Rep. Hale Boggs, D-La., on a 1972 flight from Anchorage to Juneau. The ad is moving and heart-felt.

To lose your father when you are a teenager is a difficult experience. To lose your father never knowing what happened to him is sure to stay with you forever. If you have a heart, it’s impossible to watch that ad and not feel for Mark even today.

But an ad focused on a 46 year old airplane crash has nothing more to do with what kind of governor Mark Begich would make today than those ads featuring Dunleavy’s Alaska Native children in hopes of attracting the votes of Alaska Natives.

Two peas

And the truth of the matter is that Dunleavy and Begich, at least from their political histories, are far more alike than different. Begich is a liberal Democrat who opposes gun control, which is something liberal Ds don’t do.

Dunleavy is a conservative Republican who supports taking money away from businesses (or least some businesses) and spreading it among the “people,” a view he shares with most other Alaska Republicans going back to iconic Gov. Jay Hammond, who if he were still alive would likely be getting beat about the head for being a RINO (Republican in Name Only).

Both Dunleavy and Begich are political pragmatists. Begich edges toward unions; Dunleavy edges away from them. Dunleavy is a little right of Begich or Begich is a little left of Dunleavy, however, you want to view it.

Both are slightly left of the center of the American mainstream, living as they do in a socialist state.

Yes, Alaskans can talk all they want about how the Permanent Fund Dividend isn’t taking money from the oil companies to hand to Alaskans, because it’s taking interest from earnings of the Permanent Fund to hand to Alaskans.

But the reality is that the Permanent Fund was started with money taken from the oil companies, and that behavior pretty well fits the definition of socialism – an economic and social system characterized by social – ie. public – ownership.

Alaska’s state founders decided oil found on state lands in Alaskans would be owned by all Alaskans, not just by the people who discovered it. It was a radical departure from the General Mining Act of 1872, which defined American capitalism:

You find it; you stake it; you invest the sweat and cash to prove there are minerals there; and the land and the gold becomes yours.

Up until 1920, that law applied to oil and gas, too. But Congress amended the original mining act in the name of the national interest after fears arose that oil lands were being claimed so rapidly there might not be enough oil left for the U.S. Navy.

Alaska, of course, went beyond the growing interest in public ownership of resources – a socialist idea that traces back to President Theodore Roosevelt – in coming up with a scheme to share the wealth generated by those resources or at least some of those resources.

Most have forgotten that Roosevelt spawned the Progressive Party, which was not quite the same as today’s progressives, whatever they might be.

“Then he declared in his ‘Confession of Faith’ at the Progressive Party convention, ‘We stand at Armageddon and we battle for the Lord,’ ” writes Sidney Milkis, a professor of politics at the University of Virginia.

“The religious language was no accident, as Roosevelt was drawing support and inspiration from the Social Gospel Movement, whose members saw the Progressive Party as a political expression of their commitment to promoting Christian social action on Earth. It was, if you will, a religious Left that was very important at the beginning of the 20th century.”

Imagine that, a religious element on the Left.

Left, right, wherever

Now the country has a Fascist element on the Left and a white supremacist element on the Right, which the respective Democrat and Republican parties tolerate and sometimes even appear to court.

A smiling Barack Obama once met with a beaming Louis Farrakhan, the Jew-hating leader of the Nation of Islam. Obama later denounced some of Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic rantings. But Obama never denounced Farrakhan himself and even suggested Farrakhan might have been honored by a Chicago magazine for “his efforts to rehabilitate ex-offenders.” 

Trump took a similar approach to white supremacists, although he later went farther to say “racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

Still, there are those in this country who remain unsure of his denouncements, and Trump might well be happy about that. The political thinking in America 2018 would appear to be that you don’t want to offend voters by condemning them as deplorable even if they are deplorable.

Farrakhan was in Iran this week chanting “death to America” and “death to Israel,” according to Iranian TV, which led New York Post columnist Karol Marcowisz to observe that “a conservative marching alongside white nationalist Richard Spencer, because they both happen to agree on, say, economic issues, would rightly be pilloried. This should be no different.”

Don’t expect that to happen. Unless absolutely forced to do so, no politician in America today wants to confront the uglier elements associated with his or her own party out of fear it might cost him, or her, votes. Besides, it’s handy to have the Spencers and Farrakhans around to lob accusations at your opponents – accusations which, true or false, might have some reach outside their blocks of fans.

And winning elections has become largely about tossing enough of the right dirt.

“Across the political spectrum, every election brings the same exhausted complaints: ‘I hate watching TV anymore because of all the negative ads! I just can’t wait for this election to be over!’,” campaign consultant Andrew Ricci wrote for The Hill as the previous election cycle was nearing an end. “Those types of common refrains would suggest that negative ads turn people off and therefore actually carry more risk than upside. 

“That suggestion, though, is wrong; the reason so many candidates turn to negative advertising in this and every election cycle is simple. Negative advertising works….Those of us who make our livelihoods doing this know that it can be the best strategy for getting to the magic number that means victory. And in any campaign, victory is everything.”

Now go vote against the devil of your choosing, but be aware, the one you’re voting for….could it be, Satan?

CORRECTION: An early version of this story flipped Mark Begich’s position on gun control.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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12 replies »

  1. No such thing as the Port of Anchorage. Berkowitz renamed it to “Port of Alaska”. Surprised he hasn’t changed his title to “Mayor of Alaska, Alaska”.

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  2. “Begich is a liberal Democrat who supports gun control, which is something liberal Ds don’t do.”
    Not sure where you are coming from here Craig, but perhaps you meant he does “not” support gun control.

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  3. Jay Hammond was being beaten about the head and shoulders for being a RINO back when he was Governor, and beaten about the head and shoulders by organized labor for being too sympathetic to the Greenies. Hammond’s canonization didn’t happen until long after his governorship.

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    • We must remember here, that Jay Hammond was our first governor to deal with the huge money pouring in from TAPS. Also he had just defeated a fairly popular governor Bill Egan who did spend the first $900 million from oil.
      Hammond did have an interesting take on how the PFDs should be calculated with his idea losing in US Supreme Court after succeeding in Alaska’s Supreme Court. This take of his was that Alaskans would get a PFD share based on their longevity and a young couple (Ron and Penny Zobel) objected-this became quite a legal show.
      Also, Hammond was discouraged by the increased population that would dilute these PFDs and his method of dealing with it was to spend the Oil money on studying anything/everything that came up-thinking was that these studies were done by outside consultants who would leave Alaska as soon as their report was finished. This was no small task, as this Oil money poured in. There was some push-back from those who objected to the loss of the first $900 million that had disappeared into the General Fund (and lost its identity there).
      Those were interesting times and many Republicans then would be considered a Lefty today IMO.

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  4. I am wondering if Alaskans even remember how many hundreds of millions of state dollars have been wasted on failed pipeline dreams of the last 3 administrations?
    What plans do Mark or Mike have to move N.S. gas to market?
    Our neighbors the Russians have two dozen icebreakers to assist in shipping LNG from the Arctic throughout the globe…
    America needs to step up to the plate or will continue to loose it’s slice of the pie to forgein competitors.

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    • The World is awash in LNG at $3/therm; the best estimates I’ve heard for bringing Alaska gas to market are $7-$10/therm. Alaska gas simply isn’t economically viable on the World market. It would take some geopolitical event to make the security of the supply more important than the price to justify Alaska gas. But, that is what brought Alaska oil into production; in the wake of the Arab Oil Embargo and the Soviet threat, the US opted for the security of the supply rather than the price. Then the US, GB, and Norway cooperated to bring the North Slope and the North Sea into production at very high uplift rates so that the OPEC price paradigm could be broken. It succeeded and the World saw twenty years of prosperity driven by low oil prices, though it came at a price to oil producing states such as Alaska.

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      • Art,
        I believe those high prices you list are based on the proposed 800 mile gasline to Valdez.
        If tankers of gas and diesel were able to make it into the N.S. this summer for delivery to port Thompson, then why not conceive of shipping out of a deep water port in the Arctic for future LNG sales?
        I would say the best plan would be to obtain a few over needed ice breaker capable vessels and work to use NWP route to Europe.
        “With about one-third of Europe’s gas coming from Russia and about half of that gas flowing through the Ukraine, these are tense times….
        Most worried are the four EU member states which get literally all of their gas from Russia – but another 12 rely on Russia for more than half their supply.”
        The market currently exists, yet Walker has wasted all our resources in an economically unviable direction (China).
        Not only is Russia currently delivering LNG to China (with help of their large ice breaking fleet) but they are also set to complete a large diameter gas line to China in several years…hence we need a new market for N.S. gas.
        With tensions high in Eastern Europe and most EU gas flowing from Russia through Ukraine, it would be prudent for U.S. and AK leaders to negotiate aggreements with GB and EU allies for future LNG deals.

        https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-27239734

        Liked by 1 person

    • SS – The best, perhaps the only way to profitably move NS gas to market is via GTLs down the existing pipeline, batch shipped with oil (yes, it can be done). You can get into the busines sfor perhaps a fifth the cost of building an entirely new pipeline. Product is synthetic diesel, which if you properly size the molecule (discretely possible with the Fisher – Tropsch process), you also have a liquid that will fill the need of diesel, Jet-A, Avgas, kerosene, JP-8, and even RP-1, all different flavors of the same stuff. Your competition doing so are refineries around the Pacific Rim as is our marketplace. Break even for doing this is in the neighborhood of $40/bbl. Big payoff is that if you get into the GTL business, you end up building the infrastructure to get into the CTL business, for the next century or two, and there is a LOT of coal north of the Brooks Range. Cheers –

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