Archive for the ‘Berkowitz’ Category
Sometimes WC thinks it would be more productive to simply burn his campaign contributions on the street corner as to try and support winning candidates. There might be more heat and light that way. But this year’s results, at least in Alaska, aren’t all bad.
Bob Miller beat Mike Kelly. The last of the Kelly family is finally out of the Alaska Legislature. That’s a modest improvement. Kawasaki, Guttenberg and Thomas all kept their seats. That’s good news. The cowardly and despicable attacks on Justice Dana Fabe were unsuccessful. Judge Postma was voted out, a small triumph for Alaska’s judicial review system. That’s all encouraging. Both bond issues passed, which means a few more jobs and a long-stalled boost for the University of Alaska.
And the Quitter’s track record is mixed, at best; she certainly failed to sell her doubtful goods to Alaska voters.
After those bits of positive news, it’s not so hot. Parnell stays on. Ethan Berkowitz’s record in statewide elections remains perfect: zero for something like, what, five tries, now? The effort to expand the Legislature to give Bush Alaska more of a voice was trounced, mostly by urban voters.
And, of course, the best candidate for U.S. Senate was defeated. Which brings WC to a few words to Lisa Murkowski. First, and most importantly, if the count has the usual error rate for write-in candidates, you have a paper-thin margin over Joe Miller. If Joe Miller wins, WC proposes to hold you personally responsible for inflicting six years of Joe Miller on the people of Alaska and the nation.
It’s also clear to WC that you attracted fear votes by your write-in campaign, pulling voters away from McAdams and to yourself. Your campaign was unscrupulous and unfair; among many other false claims, you said Scott McAdams’ resume was “too thin” for the U.S. Senate. Lisa, his resume was far superior to yours prior to your father anointing you eight years ago. And in your zeal to get grudging approval from the national Republican leadership, you have sold out most of your values and most of what WC cares about. If Joe Miller had been a credible candidate, you’d be looking for honest work now, because your resume doesn’t withstand scrutiny, either.
At the national level, WC fears for his country. A combination of continued tax cuts and symbolic programs cuts is only going to aggravate the recession and hurt those who need help the most. It’s not going to help the economy at all. The unrelenting concentration of wealth and privilege will continue, at the expense of any real democracy. The middle class will continue to struggle and shrink, but, like those trained chickens WC has mentioned before, will applaud the plutocrats who are killing them.
The late Mayor Richard J. Daley, head of Chicago’s first political machine, used to announce after every Machine-dominated Cook County election, “Duh pipple has spoke.” And then would return to business as usual. The poor, self-deluded Teabaggers have been induced to vote against their own interests. And think they have won. That might be the most depressing part of the whole picture.
As WC has posted earlier, he supports Ethan Berkowitz for Governor. WC is not a huge fan of Berkowitz; he sometimes panders to the voters and some of his ideas are frankly weird. But if you can’t strongly support any of the candidates, then your only choice as a voter is to choose the lesser of two evils.
Sean Parnell in the APRN debates Friday night, when asked if the Earth is closer to 6,000 or 6 billion years old, dodged the question, saying, “Only God knows how old the Earth is.” Now WC thinks the Creationists are folks who ignore 99% of the evidence to cling to a badly translated book, written by men who thought the Sun circled the Earth. But at least Creationists have the courage of their convictions. Parnell lacks the courage to cling to Creationism and lacks the honesty to call Creationism hooey. In an effort to avoid offending the religious right, he has devolved into a spineless jellyfish.
Sean Parnell insists AGIA (the grandly named, Alaska Gasline Inducement Act) has worked. But he won’t release the proof. He insists it must be kept confidential until after the election. Heh. It would have been easy to write the “Open Season” rules to make disclosure much earlier. Occam’s Razor requires the simpler answer: AGIA is busted, but the voters won’t find out until after November 2. Parnell may be sitting on a busted flush, and dare not fold.
Sean Parnell sent WC an unsolicited email. In it, he referred to “Obama’s team in Alaska – Oberkowitz and Obenson.” Please, we’re all out of kindergarten now. Silly name-calling is a waste of my time and a politician’s energy.
Sean Parnell has filed two lawsuits in an effort to stop enforcement of the Endangered Species Act, a lawsuit to stop implementation of health care reform, and yet another lawsuit to lift the moratorium on off-shore drilling for oil and gas. Now WC thinks lawsuits and paying money to lawyers is great. Especially the paying part. But Parnell’s lawsuits don’t solve the problems. The Beluga whales have gone missing. Global warming is devastating Alaska’s polar bear populations. There is a very real crisis in health care. Filing lawsuits isn’t going to solve any of those problems.
And, for WC, Parnell is tainted by his association with his former boss.
Berkowitz has pandered and his idea for citizen ownership of an Alaska natural gas line has some problems. But at least they are ideas. Parnell doesn’t have many ideas; he has lawsuits and excuses. And the business about Creationism reveals far more about Parnell’s approach to tough issues than Parnell likely intended.
Which makes Berkowitz the lesser of the two evils.
WC reader Paul reminded WC that some folks are already doing early voting. WC isn’t that good at planning. But perhaps it is time for WC’s voting guide to go up.
WC approaches this blog post with some trepidation. For many years, WC would carefully cut out the newspaper ad from the Interior Taxpayers Association. WC would take it with him to the voting booth. And then he would carefully vote exactly the opposite of the way ITA directed. WC recognizes there’s a real risk that this post will serve the same function for some of his readers. But that’s the chance you take.
|U.S. Senate||Scott McAdams. As he says, “Vote your values, not your fears.” We are all worried that the Teabagger’s Toy will win. It’s a fear. Don’t give in. McAdams is sensible, intelligent, informed, experienced and electable.|
|U.S. House||Harry Crawford. Anybody but the Don.|
|State Governor||Ethan Berkowitz. He has his problems, and WC has been critical of him from time to time. But he’s still far superior to the quasi-incumbent.|
|Senate District D||Joe Thomas. Joe has done a decent job in his first term. He’s probably the only high school classmate of WC’s that WC can recommend be in the State Senate.|
|Senate District E||No recommendation.|
|House District 6||Woodie Salmon. Woodie has his problems, but overall is a decent guy doing a decent job.|
|House District 7||Bob Miller. WC has known Mike Kelly for 40 years. He’s better than his brother, and a charming man, but his positions on every substantive issue are simply wrong.|
|House District 8||David Guttenberg. He beat Joe Miller. Enough said.|
|House District 9||Scott Kawasaki. Intelligent, Unbelievably hard-working. Completely honest. Listens to constituents.|
|House District 10||Steve Thompson. Yeah, he’s a Republican but he was a pretty good city mayor and is a moderate.|
|House District 11||Bert Cotttle. WC doesn’t know a thing about Mr. Cottle, but he isn’t Tammie Wilson. Wilson’s view of property rights is utterly selfish, the quintessential horrible neighbor. WC hopes she chokes on the fine particulates she helped put in Borough air.|
|Bonding Proposition A||Yes. $600 million in Veteran’s AHFC bonds. New housing, new construction, new jobs.|
|Bonding Proposition B||Yes. A smorgasbord of projects, with something for each region. In Interior Alaska, it’s a new life sciences building at the University. New construction, new jobs and an expanded campus.|
|Ballot Measure No. 1||Yes. Eight new seats in the Legislature will make it a litttle harder for the Republican majority to gerrymander districts.|
|Supreme Court – Justice Fabe||Yes. Vote to retain Justice Dana Fabe. She’s an outstanding jurist. Ignore the character assassination and last minute attacks.|
|Court of Appeals – Judge Mannheimer||Yes. Vote to retain David Mannheimer. A good judge at a thankless task.|
|Superior Court Judges||Yes. As to all 4th Judicial District Superior Court Judges. We’ve had better, and a few of them are annoyingly slow at getting decisions out. But they are all honest and competent, and should be retained.
It’s a qualified Yes as to Third Judicial District Superior Court Judges. In particular, Judge Kari Kristiansen gives WC some real concern. But she was recommended for retention by the Alaska Judicial Council. Perhaps she has matured into the position.
|District Court Judges||No, as to District Court Judge Richard Postma. He is one of the very few judges since statehood who has been the subject of both Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct complaints and Alaska Judicial Council Do Not Retain recommendations.
Yes, as to allother District Court Judges.
Alaska voters outside of Interior Alaska will note that their candidates aren’t addressed. Sorry. WC has strong opinions, but won’t impose them outside of his neighborhood. Judges are another matter; WC and his colleagues appear in front of them all.
Ultimately, vote your conscience, not Wickersham’s. But vote.
The opinions in this post are solely those of WC. This post has not been approved by any candidate. No expenses were incurred in creating this post. No electrons were harmed in creating this post.
Ethan Berkowitz’s campaign platform includes his “own a piece of the pipe” plan. If elected, Berkowitz would press for the Alaska Legislature to create a corporation – it’s exact role regarding the gas line isn’t well defined – in which Alaskans could buy stock using their Alaska Permanent Fund Dividends. There are even fancy stock certificates already printed, available for download.
This is hardly the first time that someone has appeared offering Alaskans a chance to invest in infrastructure. WC takes you back to Valdez in 1907 (this summary is from the Valdez Museum’s website):
There was much talk and speculation about construction of a railway line from Valdez into the interior and even some preliminary track laid; however no line ever reached any further than the Keystone Canyon. Two rival companies, in particular, were the cause for considerable upheaval in Valdez. The Alaska Syndicate was initially interested in using Valdez as the terminus for its line from the Kennicott Mine. The Alaska Syndicate was choosing among Valdez, Cordova and Katalla for a terminus for their railway from the Kennicott Mine. When it appeared that Valdez would not be selected, H.D. Reynolds appeared on the scene touting his plan for the Alaska Home Railroad. He convinced the people of Valdez that “his railroad was their railroad.” Many Valdezans invested their entire savings or businesses into supporting his project. Reynolds bought up much of the town; he soon owned a newspaper, hotel, bank and even some of the streets. In 1907, a shoot-out erupted over the right-of-way through Keystone Canyon between the two rival railroad companies. The Alaska Home Railroad project fell apart and the Alaska Syndicate chose Cordova as the terminus for its Copper River and Northwestern Railway. Reynolds left town in a hurry, owing a great deal of money, and was last seen in an insane asylum. Valdezans were left with no railroad, 500 unemployed workers, and little money.
You can still see the half-built tunnel in Keystone Canyon as you drive along the Richardson Highway. Rex Beach wrote the pot-boiler novel The Iron Trail (available for free on Guttenberg) based upon a loosely fictionalized history of these events. That half-built tunnel should be an object lesson to Alaskans. Not every promotional scheme will work, not every idea is a good idea and not every promotor is to be entrusted with your money.
If WC were to try and promote a plan for ownership of a chunk of the gas line, WC would have to register the deal and a develop a prospectus, a kind of detailed disclosure of the risks, benefits and chances associated with the plan. It’s a serious amount of work. The idea is to give the potential investor enough information to intelligently evaluate whether or not to buy in. It’s a felony, punishable by 5 years in the slammer and serious fines, to offer an unregistered security or tout the “investment opportunity” without an approved prospectus. Candidate Berkowitz is a lawyer, of course, so he knows all this stuff.
And maybe this securities law stuff doesn’t apply to campaign promises, which, after all, never seem to happen. Particularly in the case of Alaska governors, Alaskans simply don’t take them seriously. And WC may still end up voting for Ethan Berkowitz, because all of Governor Parnell’s problems are still there.
But you have to think about the Alaska Home Railroad and that half-completed tunnel in Keystone Canyon, too.
WC got an email from the Ethan Berkowitz for Governor Campaign yesterday. Understand, WC has supported Berkowitz, even to the point of campaign contributions. The email proudly announced “Ethan’s Royalty Plan.” It might as well have announced Ethan’s Pandering Plan. The following quotes are lifted directly from that email.
1. With Ethan’s plan, the royalties go to Alaskans. With Sean Parnell’s ACES tax, the money goes to the government. Ethan thinks Alaskans surviving these hard economic times need the money more than our government, which is already running billions of dollars in surpluses. The Royalty system ensures that the Legislature doesn’t run off and spend your children’s college fund on pet projects. ACES gives YOUR money to the Legislature. Ethan’s Royalty plan sends YOUR money to YOU.
Berkowitz has a degree in government and economics from Harvard. Presumably, he understands multipliers and the importance of government-funded infrastructure to long-term economic health. WC regards the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend program – not the Permanent Fund but the citizen dividends – as the late Jay Hammond‘s biggest mistake. It demolished the connection between citizens and the services citizens receive from government. Alaskans are conditioned, by decades of permanent fund dividends, to expect something for nothing. Government services and government checks.
It would be called Socialism is any other political environment. But Alaskans, of course, are conservative, capitalist and big fans of Adam Smith. And resolve the contradiction between reality and belief by denial. “It’s not Socialism because it’s me receiving the money.” Sorry. It’s still Socialism. And hypocrisy.
Putting more money in the permanent fund pot feeds the lie. That can’t be good.
2. With Ethan’s Royalty plan, the government works harder and, as a result, your PFD gets bigger. With Parnell’s ACES system, the government doesn’t try and you just get by. Ethan knows YOU are working hard for your paycheck, and he thinks it’s time the government did too. Sean Parnell telling you “it’s too hard to negotiate field by field” is just another way of saying “I don’t want to try, so let’s keep the mediocre system we have”. Ethan thinks that is insulting. Under the Royalty system, sure, the government, including Ethan, works harder, but it’s you who takes home the bigger check year after year!
Berkowitz has a couple of different ideas mixed up in this paragraph. First, he correctly notes that the real solution to an appropriate oil field taxation system is a case-by-case approach. The oil industry hates that. The industry wants low, predictable taxes. But then he claims that all of the revenue from such an approach would go to the Permanent Fund. If so, exactly what is the motivation of the Alaska state government to maximize oil revenue? A selfless desire to increase the Permanent Fund Dividend? Heh.
Why not put the same effort into the General Fund. Why not address deferred maintenance, or better funding for schools, or funding the expanded health care services that Sean Parnell vetoed? As oil and gas revenues contract, the squeeze is going to hit critical government services hard. How does Berkowitz propose to pay for those critical services if the remaining oil field revenues are going to the Permanent Fund? Because voters have come to expect services without taxes. It’s going to be a crisis. Under Berkowitz’s scheme, the crisis will be unnecessarily magnified.
3. With Ethan’s Royalty system, the Permanent Fund grows and grows. It’s PFD insurance! When the oil is long gone, Ethan’s Royalty system will leave a bigger Permanent Fund for our families and all Alaskans. With ACES, your family will have to scrape by for generations to come. Ethan isn’t going to let that happen. That’s not what leaders do.
Their are a lot of problems with those five sentences. The governor of Alaska must run a state government, not the state Permanent Fund. Making the Permanent Fund bigger at the expense of funding critical government services isn’t good policy or even sensible. The civically dubious goal of bigger Permanent Fund Dividends shouldn’t trump delivery of governmental functions.
And the lines, “your family will have to scrape by for generations to come,” seems to imply Berkowitz’s goal is the make the PFDs so fat that Alaskans don’t have to work at all. Anyone with a calculator can prove that’s not possible, assuming it is even desirable. Apart from attracting to Alaska every deadbeat with air fare.
Now Ethan Berkowitz is a smart guy. He knows and understands everything WC has said in this blog entry. Why is he talking about routing all oil and gas tax revenues to the voters’ PFDs?
It’s political pandering. WC defines pandering as promising something to the voters that is either unobtainable, or saying something that you don’t believe, just to get elected. John McCain and Hillary Clinton’s advocacy of a gas-tax holiday back in 2008 certainly fit the definition. It was a suggestion that had little prospect of becoming law, made no sense either environmentally or economically, but might have won over a few voters. Ethan’s Royalty Plan is 2010′s gas-tax holiday.
WC reminds candidate Berkowitz of the etymology of “pandering.” In Geoffrey Chaucer’s poem Troilus and Criseyde (1370), Pandarus was a debauched letch who furthered illicit love affairs, and his name entered out language as a synonym for pimp.
WC thinks Ethan’s Royalty Plan is pimping for votes. It’s pure pandering. Sad, but true. At least, WC hopes it is pandering. The alternatives are all worse.
Dear President Obama:
I am writing to apologize on behalf of Alaska’s Governor, its senior U.S. Senator and its Congressman. It was inexcusably rude for them not to be present in person for your recent, brief visit to Alaska.
Governor Parnell shows occasional flashes of competence, but mostly follows the example set by his former boss. The Governor plead that he had a previously scheduled speaking engagement. That turned out to be a presentation to the University of Alaska that could have been easily re-scheduled, with no offense taken by the fine folks at the University. Parnell was simply being rude. I’ll ask you to excuse him; he is young, and is still unlearning the bad lessons learned from former Governor Palin.
Senator Murkowski has no such excuse. It was pure politics. She knows that an appearance would be to honor the office, no matter how much she may disagree with you personally. If it has been a Republican president, you can be sure she would have been present. To some extent, this is Senator Murkowski carrying forward lessons learned from her father, who was even worse as a U.S. Senator that he was as a bank president – and he single-handedly killed the bank he ran. She is playing the same partisan games.
Congressman Young – usually referred to as the Congressman for all Alaskans who voted for him – is simply an ass. And an unindicted felon. He is incapable of civilly addressing high school students; you shouldn’t expect him to show even rudimentary civility. This is far from the first and unlikely to be the last time he badly embarrasses Alaskans by his conduct.
Your visit was deeply appreciated by the soldiers at Elmendorf AFB, even those who might not like your policies. They get it. As do most Alaskans. Some of our elected officials don’t. I am embarrassed by their actions, and extend my sincere apologies. Not all Alaskans are so rude and crass.
Thanks for visiting. Come again. Stay longer. And, again, my apologies.
/s/ Wickersham’s Conscience
Update: If Anchorage Daily News reports are correct, Don Young actually gave his invitation to the President’s appearance to Ethan Berkowitz, the guy that ran against him last. If so, I admit to surprise at this modest show of class by a guy who usually lacks the quality.