AK House Displays Its Churchy Side With Xenophobic Resolution

Am I the only person to have trouble with this? The Alaska House today passed a resolution with the short title “Protection of Christian Syrians.”  Anchorage’s Andy Josephson voiced a little caution about the measure, saying it reminded him of where America’s mind was in 2003. However, he voted for it.

HJR 32 brings up a list of evil things that the Syrian regime has done to its Christian citizens – the massacre of Christians in Jihad attacks, burning Christian churches, kidnapping Orthodox Bishops and a Nun.  Agreed, that those were horrible things for a government to have done to its people. But if you look beyond what you see in conservative U.S. publications and churches you will also see a government that uses interfaith chemical weapons against people regardless of their beliefs.  It destroys huge parts of very large cities where there were lots of Korans and mosques.  Syria has a secular, conservative government fighting to hold on to its political and economic power.  It is not trying to spread religion. Only American conservatives see it as a religious government.

We who sometimes watch American politics also see this subject could become a possible rock the Republicans would throw at Democrats in this fall’s elections.  It would unabashedly be shouted as “Obama didn’t intervene.”

I hope the House soon becomes embarrassed by its willing extension of loopy thinking.  There’s no excuse for it.

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Democrats Might Want to Think It Over

Alaska House Democrats today told reporters that they will not support HB 384 that would increase the state’s minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $8.75 and then to $9.75 per hour in 2016. It would then remove the subject from legislative action with an annual recalculation of the numbers based on the cost of living.

If you think you’ve heard of that before, you have. It’s the same as a citizen’s initiative set to appear on this year’s ballots. It will likely win by a really large majority.

The House Republicans decided they needed to pass their own bill to take the question off the ballot. Especially since so many non-GOP people like it. Getting it off the ballot will remove the incentive for a lot of voters to go to the polls in August – leaving at home also their non-GOP votes on other issues and candidates. Based on legislative action, it will then allow the legislature to re-open the subject during next year’s session. If it’s on the ballot it must remain untouched for two years.

R’s are biting the bullet here for what they see as a payoff later.

Democrats think it’s better to have the question on the ballot, and they aren’t behind the GOP plan. If the legislation has any value, they’re right; but how can they vote – or act – against it? I doubt if any of those precious few politicians would get re-elected after being associated with this headline: “Democrats Turn Down Income Hike For the Working Poor.” It’s regrettable D’s,   but that’s what’s on the way. If you have to write a press release to explain your goofy vote, you better have the bumper stickers already printed. The R’s have done that by getting behind it.

It’s far better to support the bill you hate so that you can claim credit for passing it, save the cost of an advertising campaign and do away with the outside risk of  its losing at the polls.

The Senate R’s didn’t sound too excited about considering the question, so there’s a chance it won’t pass.

But that headline will remain.

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Real Education Reform Begins Here

I think some of us have read enough about Alaska’s flimsy education reform jabber going on at the Capitol. There’s not much hope for serious improvement for a system that sees student loans as a profit center instead of a tool to improve lives and society.

Maybe it’s time to look for a new trick. Maybe it’s time to ask why the legislature and the governor can’t make a serious commitment to something fresh.  They could start with this:

The Students Go To College For Free.

This Al Jazeera TV (not available on cable in Alaska) report shows economic, personal, life-changing benefits for the people and the community. It’s not a partisan or religious thing.  It’s working in Michigan.  Other places are trying to put it together.

The Kalamazoo Promise is about making society a lot better. And no one has ever shown me anything wrong with that.

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One Way Around Stupid Laws

The Legislature is getting down to the important bills now. For instance, the House Judiciary Committee listened to talk about Fairbanks-R Tammie Wilson’s bill (HB315) that says they have to let you on a jury even if you believe in “Jury Nullification” – a philosophy that … well, it’s complicated.  Here’s a good explanation.

The News-Miner covered the committee hearing where the Department of Law seemed pretty put-out that people were talking about this subject — here’s Matt Buxton’s report.

Pro and Con:
The Value of this is that there is a good chance that one juror can make a difference. If I’m on the jury for your murder case when you claim Stand Your Ground protection, you might want to start making some long-term arrangements for someone to feed the dog. You might relax, though, if my jury ever gets to consider whether you are guilty of being a federal agent enforcing federal firearms laws.

The Negative, of course, is the risk that Tammie Wilson will be on the jury that tries me. I don’t want to think about that, though.

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Well. That was a nice year

I’ve been away a little bit longer than I expected when I wrote the last piece here on AKJ3. It just felt so good not giving a damn about what the jesters were up to in the world of state politics. I have found I can keep up by reading Twitter and the occasional news story just fine, thank you. But a couple of things really do insist that I check on them a little closer from time to time.

Don’t expect much – I still have trouble breathing inside the Capitol. Don’t expect new stuff very often – I’m telling you I am retired. Do expect more questions and observations than breaking facts about stuff that’s already well-covered by the best journalists in Alaska.

Also,  I am getting interested in Juneau’s city-borough government.  There might be some things about those guys, too.

No promises this time.

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Catch Your Breath

Don’t be fooled by the quiet at the capitol this week.  The Show will be back next week.  This is the time for the people responsible for the future of Alaska to go to Washington D-C to enjoy the comforts of a good meal and good wine paid for by someone else – either You or the lobbyists who attend the Energy Conference.  In the past, a few have been invited to the White House, but I think they only got Pepsi and cheese crackers there.

Think of it as a gift to us,  the people responsible for their winning the free trip.  They promise to leave us alone for at least three days.  Before they close down,  it looks like a couple of days that might sometime be remembered as “before the flood.”

Here’s a schedule for the entire week.  You only need to focus on just a couple of days. Continue reading

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About That PFD Bill

I turned down the Permanent Fund Dividend for about six years after arriving here … a youthful bow to journalistic ethics.  The governor and legislature started talking about citizens’ contributions to dwindling revenue, though,  and I realized that my noble stand against the taint of the PFD would never protect me from having to pay income taxes.  I decided to take the money. Continue reading

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