Friday, February 22, 2019

Alaska Politics From Afar

We'll be back in Anchorage in about a week.  Meanwhile gramping duties divert my blogging concentration.  I've been the healthiest adult for the last few days - my coughs much better, but others have it now.  So yesterday I dropped nieta at a program at the Kidimu and picked her up two hours later.  (No school this week.)  Later we went shopping for dinner with a stop at the library to drop off a book and get another.  Walking home with two bags of groceries - it was ok, but I should have thought about weight a bit more when I was shopping.  Then back to the library for READ to a dog a little later after preparing the veggie chili.  Today a friend comes over and we'll walk down to the Historical Museum after lunch here.  It's all good, but there is soooo much happening in Alaska, so let me try to at least mention some things.  I will say that I'm pleased with the much increased coverage of Juneau by the ADN and by AKLedger and Dermot Cole since I tried to blog the legislature in 2010.  

It was clear to me back in 2013 that Dunleavy was a danger to Alaska.  I watched in Anchorage as he chaired the special session of the Senate committee that was charged with moving the legislation (Erin's Law) out of committee to allow the full Senate to vote on it.  The bill was to require age appropriate lessons in schools on child molestation and teach kids how to report it.  Dunleavy took the clean, three page bill that had passed overwhelmingly in the House and added six pages that gutted much of the original bill and added a bunch of stuff on parental rights.  Parental Rights, I found out at the time, is code for things like home-school, anti-public school, and giving fathers more power in custody issues.  In the Erin's Law case it would mean giving abusive parents more control to keep their kids from finding out how to report sexual abuse.

So, it was clear that Dunleavy was working from some weird ideological place that allowed him to ignore the damage he was doing to kids in Alaska.

And that's my best guess about what's happening now.  After Dan Sullivan's family in Ohio bought him the Alaska US Senate seat over Mark Begich, Dunleavy's brother, also Outside, figured he could buy the Alaska Governorship the same way.  And he did.  And Mark Begich - the Alaskan born and raised Democrat - was the victim once again.  Along with his brother's money (and who else's we don't know) comes a crazy anti-government, libertarian opportunity to experiment by cutting money from Alaska education and everything else.

It's like, hey, if you guys help me get my brother get elected, you can then show the world how your ideas of cutting government will work.  But we already know this failed spectacularly in Kansas and Wisconsin and Michigan among other places.

And unlike those places, the Republicans in the Senate aren't as ideologically crazy as the ones in the other states.  Well, a few are.  And somehow - I still haven't figured it out - the Democrats have managed to get themselves into a bi-partisan majority in the State House.  So Dunleavy won't have it as easy getting his budget through in Alaska as the others did in their states.

But, if someone breaks into your house and lets the water overflow in the tubs and toilets, turns off the heat in the winter, and randomly destroys things, it's going to cost a lot to get it back into livable shape.

So I'm looking forward to being back in Alaska so I can get a better sense of how much damage we're going to incur from this ideologically-crazed governor and his (I need a gender neutral word for 'henchmen')

I'm also thinking about how democracy can survive if a majority of voters can be swayed by lies and nonsense, and another significant chunk thinks their participation is pointless.  We may not get our ideal candidate, but Trump and Dunleavy should have taught enough people that less than ideal is way better than horrible.  

That's the key question for me - how do we help citizens care enough to figure out what candidates will really do before they vote for them.  And to help other citizens to overcome their belief that their vote doesn't matter because all candidates are bad.

But the kinds of propaganda that the Nazis used to gain power has been perfected by Republican marketing geniuses with no morality.  We have Fox News as the most recognized example, and Putin's been using those techniques to wreak havoc in the US 2016 election, in Brexit, in the French election, in Ukraine, and in Italy.  He's showing the way to kill democracy is to kill truth.

Alaskans, let's not let our state Senate prop up Dunleavy the way the US Senate has been propping up Trump.  (And there are good signs they aren't.)  This guy has to go.  As fast as possible.

I realize this might sound like a rant to some, but I'm pretty sure my take here is accurate.  And I have two six year olds coming over for lunch in 30 minutes.  But I also wanted to mention the election board in North Carolina that invalidated a US House election because of a consultant who committed election fraud (note:  NOT voter fraud) by manipulating mail in ballots.   I'd note we had this same thing happen on what we believe to be a much smaller scale when Rep. LeDoux hired a California election consultant to get her Hmong constituents to vote.
"A subsequent count of absentee ballots gave LeDoux a 117-vote win. But state elections officials also said they found evidence of voter fraud among the absentee ballots, and they sent their findings to prosecutors for review.
Elections officials said they received absentee applications in the names of seven dead people. Those ballots were not mailed out, but officials also identified 26 suspicious ballots that were returned.
All 26 of those votes went to LeDoux."
That consultant died and it appears that ended deeper investigation into the issue.  But let's be vigilant.   Republican election fraud, voter suppression, and gerrymandering are  much bigger threats than Republican imagined voter fraud.

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