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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Joe Miller Fails to file Senate Disclosure, Hides from reporters.

Joe Miller has so far failed to file the necessary Senate Disclosure forms for his investments, personal holdings and potential conflict on interests. These reports are due once a candidate receives more than $5000 in campaign contributions, in this case they were due in April. Both of the other contenders for the Alaska senate seat, Lisa Murkowski and Scott McAdams have filed their appropriate claims. These forms serve to allow the public a glimpse of the candidates investments and personal wealth so that potential conflicts of interest can be identified. The forms are vague to protect at least some privacy, but list such items as college funds, properties, income source, stock holdings, and other investments.

Joe Miller's campaign manager chalks this up to a simple 'oversight' and claims the forms will be filed shortly. Still one is left wondering how such an important part of the process can be ignored. There is a fine of $200 for being one month late on the filing and Miller requested no extension. The fine for not filing at all is $50,000. To me this seems like odd behavior for a man that refused to pay the full price for his hunting and fishing license, and instead choose to apply for a low-income license. (See previous blog post)

So what does he have to hide? It would be fairly simple to compile the necessary information to file the form. Government forms might be confusing but they are seldom impossible. I'm sure someone in the Republican party knows how to fill this form out. Lisa sure does. From a man who seems to have taken advantage of just about every government program he has been eligible for, maybe he's afraid of what people will think if he has more farm subsidies or something.

Regardless of what he is hiding Miller is completely unwilling to talk with reporters, even to the point of misleading and lying. While attending a Republican fund raiser in Washington D.C. Miller left through the back door and was presumably picked up in the alley way. When a reporter asked the driver of a black pickup if he was there for Miller the driver answered 'no', although this was the same black pickup that had pulled up front of the fund raiser and told police they were there to pickup Miller. The a man later came out form the fund raiser and told the pickup to go around to the alleyway.

Why can't we actually have honest politicians, who are upfront, and straight forward? Why does it always have to be pulling teeth? Its not like people aren't going to find out eventually, hiding it just makes the problems bigger. This is often a lesson most people are taught at a young age. That coming forward is better than hiding the truth and being exposed later. Perhaps this is a lesson Mr. Miller never learned. You can't avoid the media, you shouldn't avoid the media. Despite all the accusations that the media is pushing a leftist agenda, the only thing worse than relying on only the media from our information would be only relying on Joe Miller's Campaign.

Am I being to judgmental of Mr. Miller? Unfair? I don't think so. I would hope that most voters would approach his avoidance of the media and failure to file simple (yet important) forms to be suspicious at least.

Feel free to comment with your thoughts. You can read a complete story here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why putting off the tough votes until after november was a mistake....

Because it makes it look like your going to piss your supporters off. There is really no other way to put it. You want to wait until your either voted out of office so you know it won't affect the outcome or you want to wait until you win (re)election so you have years to go before they can vote you out of office.

If politicians were half as concerned with the fate and direction of our country as they were about their own careers we would be running a multi-trillion dollar surplus with 3% unemployment. Instead we have a bunch of wimps who can't pass legislation because they know it will be unpopular because it screws over Americans.

Why is it so hard for some people to do the right thing? Is it not enough that after one term in the senate you get retirement and health care? That you have to work against the American people while you are there. Are these people just evil? ignorant? some fantastic combination of the two? Since you don't want to do the votes now I'm just going to assuming your plan is to screw us over.

Should Alaskans Recall Senator Mark Begich? and why they won't.

This is an interesting question for Alaska. Senator Mark Begich has been found by a municipal investigation to be in the wrong for his hand it the city of Anchorage's budget shortfall. But the only ones who seem to care are conservatives and tea parties. In fact there is little if any media coverage of the recall campaign, it isn't the talk of the town and for the most part few if anyone seems concerned.

With 4 more years left in his term there is ample time to recall him and field a new senator, but is there the political will? Based on the investigation a re-election campaign will be particularly difficult for Senator Begich but not impossible. I doubt he will even have anyone from his own party challenge him. Perhaps if Lisa Murkowski fails at her write-in campaign we will see her again in 2014.

To be honest I think the scuffle between Joe Miller and Lisa Murkowski has done more to dismiss efforts to recall Senator Begich than anything else could have. 95% of the people interested in recalling him are now tied up trying to defeat Lisa to pay him any attention. I've met Senator Begich several time and have always thought he was a nice person, and I must be like many Alaskans in that I don't feel the need to hasten his departure from the U.S. Senate. However, when 2014 rolls around, I probably won't be voting for him, maybe he won't even run.

But why won't Alaskans recall him? Why be content to let him finish his term? It seems to me a well publicized recall campaign would do great harm to the democrats in the upcoming election, so why not?

Well to be honest the report is not very damning. It cites "Administration failed to practice prudent fiscal management". Of course it also faults the Anchorage Assembly for the same thing. Basically Senator Begich failed to notify the assembly of the shortfall but also the assembly failed to ask for it. You can read the full report here, Begich's spokesperson blamed the economy in 2008 for the lack of fiscal transparency. "But the findings in the audit report need to be evaluated in context. The events and decisions analyzed occurred during the most extreme economic conditions since the Great Depression. Those conditions at the end of 2008 created challenges for governments and businesses in Alaska and across the country that were unparalleled. They were certainly unprecedented in the history of the Municipality of Anchorage." You can read about that story here.

Aside from their being enough blame to go around the single website I could find trying the champion the recall "" seems to have very little activity and more concerned with selling buttons that pushing any real recall effort (sorry guys), but with roughly one post a week and some of them not even about the recall effort its obvious this is not their top priority. Additionally I'm sure their lack of site support stems from the requirement to 'sign-up' and provide an e-mail address before you can view anything but the landing page.

If the die-hards aren't motivated how can you expect anyone else to be?

What wrong with the Federal Government and how to fix it.....

What if a politician were to shrink government and cut spending? How could they run again after that? Who would elect someone who's platform was I cut jobs and didn't spend more of your money than I had to. We as Americans had developed a mentality that the government is there to provide programs and spend money. Now we are seeing the fruits of that labor. Even the great Ronald Regan didn't shrink the deficit. While true he increased defense spending and defeated communism he still did at a deficit.

I would love to see the IRS eliminated and a flat tax or national sales tax in its place. How many jobs would that eliminate? Most people at the IRS, private accountants, tax lawyers, clerks, tax website, quick books, quicken, turbo tax, most of these professions and companies would be diminished if not completely eliminated. Which brings me to why this and things like it won't happen. There is not enough will in Washington or in the American Public to sacrifice in the short term for gain in the long term. Our habit of deficit spending proves it.

America didn't have the patience to wait and save for something when they could just borrow to get it, and get that, and that over there, and this too. There was no fiscal responsibility because much like communism the only way to defeat the other party was to outspend them on platforms you believe America supported. For the Democrats it was social spending and for the GOP is was defense spending. The facts are we spend to much on both, but cutting social spending makes me a monster and cutting defense spending makes me a socialist (or Nazi, although technically a Nazism is a far right ideology, so all you folks that call liberals Nazis are incorrect, communists maybe but not Nazis.)

We need to go back to the days when senators were elected by the state legislatures and could be immediately recalled if their behavior was deemed unacceptable. Just imagine how many senators would have been yanked back before health care was passed? A majority of Americans opposed it and yet it still passed? What a slap in the face. The ability to revoke their office if enough people in a state wanted it would be a great incentive for senators to better represent their constituents.

This is one time where I can agree with the Tea Party, the states need to play a more active role, the federal government has become the dominant force and this was not the way it was supposed to be.

Can Lisa Murkowski Win a Write-In?

As we edge ever so closer to the November elections many Alaskan conservatives are being faced with a tough question. If they are or were supporters of Lisa Murkowski before the primary and still believe she can do a better job than Joe Miller. Do they vote for her as a write-in and risk splitting the republican vote and giving the win to the Democratic challenger Scott McAdams, or do they toe the party line and vote for Miller because being far right is better than being far left?

This will be a tough call for many Alaskans. For the most part the reason Senator Murkowski was targeted by the tea parties for replacement was the same qualities that made her appeal to many Alaskans. She was and is not a far right conservative, at least not as far right as Joe Miller. So while some feel that she isn't conservative enough, most Alaskans appreciated having a more center right representative. Although many far right voters will fault Senator Murkowski for working with the democrats and voting on some controversial issues, she was at least willing to work towards a compromise, and at the same time not remain content with just obstructing.

Its hard to back a party who sits and pouts like a child when they don't get their way, who spends so much time and energy demonizing the other side that it makes it political suicide to agree with them on anything, even if that agreement would be on an issue that both sides should support. I think we know I'm talking about the GOP.

While I won't be able to support a democrat in this election its very difficult to support the GOP when they offer almost nothing as far as real solutions. Sure the soundbites and battle cries sound nice. Shrink government! Cut Spending! The GOP is just as guilty as the democrats when it comes to our debt and bloated federal government. Even voting for a tea party candidate at least in this race seems a little pointless. Joe Miller is NOT a tea party champion, he may be running under their banner and with their support but when he last ran for office in 2004 he ran as a republican, and there is more in his past to damage his tea party credentials than it seems there is to support it.

The Joe Miller Saga in Alaska is very similar to whats going on in Delaware with Christine O'Donnel. She has ran before and was not particularly far right, but now that she has tea party support it looks like she might win. This election might actually go down as a huge bust, where unqualified and potentially unstable candidates were elected for no better reason than their ability to mold themselves into the proper platform.

Educated? Never owned a business? government employee? sounds like a list of reasons the for conservatives not to vote for someone. Yet this is some of Joe Miller's background. Personally I'm worried by a group who thinks a lack of experience in politics makes someone more qualified to hold political office. The problem is not that we elected the wrong people in most cases. Its that we didn't hold them accountable and uphold our values as Alaskans and Americans. It wasn't until President Obama was elected that we really saw an outcry for smaller government and cutting spending, yet the excess of the last 2 years has been a hallmark of the federal government for more than the last half century.

I think Lisa Murkowski can win and despite all my misgivings about her I do believe she has represented Alaska faithfully during her time in office. Pursing, what under the circumstances was what she thought Alaskans wanted. We need a change of thinking, senators and congress are not there in Washington to conduct the business of the federal government. They are there to reign in the executive branch and make sure that the states are allowed to thrive. Not receive handouts or bail outs, if the people in a state want welfare, or health care, or something along those lines. Then those states should vote on it, have it, and pay for it. I think if re-elected Lisa will represent to new mood of Alaskans and recognize what necessary to fix the federal government.

The Importance of Voting

Voting is an important if not almost sacred part of being an American, and yet so many of us choose not to vote. Every election cycle my mind is astounded by the turn out numbers, 40%....? 30%....? Less.....?!?! and this is the combined voter turn out for both parties. No wonder so many Americans are upset with the politicians in Washington and elsewhere they were elected by at best 1/4 of the voting population.

As the Republican Senate primary and the previous senate election of 2006 prove, races, especially in Alaska can be decided by a relatively small amount of votes, with the margins between winner and loser being very tight. Every vote counts and its always comical to me when I discuss politics with someone and while they complain about this or that you ask...."Well did you vote?" and the answer is "No." Your vote is your best opportunity to effect the direction of your state and country, aside from protesting in the streets (or writing a political blog :P) both of which are significantly more time consuming than 10 minutes in a booth every few years.

Personally I don't see how we can't have 80% or 90% voter turnout. I understand that sometimes things happen and maybe you didn't get to the polls....this time, but that you will be more than sure next time to do so. That's fine, but I've met people in their 30s and older that have NEVER voted in their life. For the most part neither of their parents voted either. Which is probably where they got the idea it wasn't important or necessary in the first place.

Now as much as it pains me this is one thing we can't blame on politicians, they try very hard to 'get the vote out' especially if those people are going to vote for them. No, unfortunately it is the non-voting public who is at fault. Which happens to be a majority of Americans. So you could actually say America is at fault.

Now, this isn't the fault of the school system or some other institution. The schools do more than their fair share in encouraging the youth to take their civic duty seriously. I think really responsibility rests with the parents. In so many instances our behaviors and responsibilities are shaped by our parents. While I failed to find a related statistic (I love those), it seems that the common thread is parents who vote have children who vote, and even more so parents who take their kids with them when they vote, those children are even MORE likely to be voters themselves when the grow up.

When you fail to vote, your basically giving up your best chance to engage the political process. I bet there are a ton of Lisa Murkowski supporters out there that wish they had found the time.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Joe Miller's Low Income Hunting License, Legal but also unethical

Well now that people are actually looking at Joe Miller it seems a day can't go by that some new clue to his total lack of moral compass doesn't pop up.

The case in point today is that Mr. Miller filed for a 'low-income hunting license' in 1995. Now in Alaska at the time in order to meet the requirements for a low-income license one had to either be on welfare or have an annual family income of less than $8200. According to a report by the Anchorage Daily News, Miller did make less than that during the prescribed time period. Although he also managed to buy a $88,000 home (now worth over $400,000) he did this by selling some farm property in Kansas (the same property he received government subsides for) and working as a store clerk for part of the year. The remainder of the year he was going to law school at Yale.

This was all for 1994, the hunting license was for 1995. When he actually applied and received the hunting license which was distributed in July, he had graduated from Yale and obtained employment as assistant borough attorney for Fairbanks, Alaska. This job had an estimate salary of $70,000 a year. His wife received her low-income license about a month later.

So while no law may have been violated it certainly seems that the spirit of the low income license was violated. This is the kind of behavior that I would not expect from a constitutional conservative. To me it appears more opportunistic than anything else and represents exactly the type of actions that this man is supposed to be against! Primarily the existence of and taking advantage of government programs designed to help the poor. This is one step away from accepting unemployment from the government, something he has said is unconstitutional. All this to save $290? Really? you couldn't have just paid it? The rest of us do....what makes it different for you? Had this not come to light I'm sure if asked Mr. Miller would have spoken out about the unfairness of such a program that provides a low cost license to the poor while saddling the 'wealthy' (+$8200 isn't very wealthy) with the costs.

Another example of do as I say, not as I do. At least we are getting a better look at Candidate Miller's character before the election. I'm sure facts like this and his farm subsides will make the choices this November much more clear cut.

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GMO Atlantic Salmon, One Alaskan's View

So one of the big topics this week is the GMO Atlantic Salmon or 'Frankenfish' as it has started to be called. For those of you who haven't heard this fish has been 'genetically modified' by Aqua Bounty Farms Inc. (feel free to follow the link and tell them what you think :P )to grow twice as fast as natural Atlantic Salmon. They claim that the fish is perfectly safe and this claim is currently under investigation by the FDA but to be honest looks like its heading for approval.

So what does this mean for Alaska?

As most Alaskans will tell you the commercial fishing industry is a major source of income for many Alaskan families. For other Alaskans it is a source of food and yet others still a great sport. I prefer fishing for silvers myself, although not as large as the kings I enjoy being able to fish for more than 1 a day (the current limit on kings).

Regardless, how is this new fish going to affect Alaskans? Well simple economics say the price of Alaskan salmon will go down. However, I am not so sure. The current law DISALLOWS (so you can't do it) a product from claiming that it is 100% natural non-GMO. If this were to be changed and Alaskan Salmon (and others) could be marketed as 100% non-GMO I think it would actually improve the product and give us a new market that never existed before. Even if the GMO 'Frankenfish' is perfectly safe there will still be a large number of people who will never trust it and never want anything to do with it.

I'm not saying there will be no impact on our commercial fishing but this should make the conservationists happy as it will bring demand down (slightly). Of course this price drop is only assuming that Aqua Bounty doesn't price their fish accordingly. There is still going to be a cost associated with developing this product and of course with growing and marketing it.

Additionally there will be almost no market for sport fishing these fish as they will all be farm grown and kept in pins as to insure they never escape into the wild.

Personally I see this as an opportunity for Alaska to promote the Alaskan Salmon as a pure natural alternative. So it won't be used in low end products (which is what I imagine the GMO alternative will be used for), but this has been the domain of red salmon (often considered the least desirable) for decades now.

Please feel free to comment and leave feedback, and better yet feel free to contact the GMO Salmon company at the link above. If you've already followed that link and still feel feisty here is the link to the FDA Contact Site, tell them what you think.

Sarah Palin stalker, was it only a matter of time?

So it appears that Sarah has finally began to reap the benefits of the national spotlight, she now has her very own stalker. While I'm sure this isn't the first one or the last, this is the first one that she's needed a protective order for.

Apparently, Shawn R. Christy an 18 year old from Pennsylvania sent Sarah a receipt for a gun he purchased along with a statement saying “he tried to follow the Bible but had evil and wickedness in him.” In the petition for the protective order it goes on to say that he called Sarah from a 907 area code (which is an Alaska area code for those of you who don't know) number saying that he believed she had to be punished if she wouldn't tell the truth and also claimed to have had an affair with the former governor. Police have spoken with Mr. Christy apparently but I don't think we have heard the last of this nut job. It a shame we can't deport this guy.

While, like many Alaskans, I don't really appreciate what Sarah has done for this us, I am glad that this wacko is at least being watched and wish Sarah and her family the best.

If you'd like to read the whole story you can read about it here.

My View: Joe Miller vs. Lisa Murkowski (What it means for Alaska)

Joe Miller, right-wing nut or Alaska's savior?

As we creep ever closer to the November election. It appears more and more that this will be a 2 horse race. McAdams will get a majority of the liberal vote I'm sure, however, most Alaskans aren't liberals. Most Alaskans are Independents and Republicans. Even with Lisa as a write-in candidate I don't think McAdams has a snowballs chance at a rodeo at winning this seat. In fact I would place money that Lisa will pull it off and make some history in the process.

1) Joe Miller really isn't a political newcomer. He made a run for the Alaska State House in 2004 (lost to a democrat).

2) Despite not being a political newcomer he is inexpeienced politically.

3) He doesn't walk the walk. Despite all his tough talk about being a constituational conservative, he himself has taken advantage of the programs he has called unconstitutional. (Farm subsidies anyone?) At the very least this damages the strength of his conviction and principles.

4) Has never ran a business. This is often the Republican battle-cry as why so many over-educated (is there such a thing?) liberals are not fit to hold public office.

5) He comes off as a bit of a wack job. Now granted, I think most politicians come off as wack jobs, something about talking out both sides of your head does this to you. I've watched and listened to the interviews and while it is very much the 'in' thing to talk about how so many government programs are unconstitutional he has very little to say to back up why. Isn't he supposed to be a lawyer?

Lisa Murkowski on the other hand needs to learn how to run a campagin. In all honesty she deserved to be beat by Joe Miller. She took one look at him and saw no threat whatsoever and so decided to treat him as such. Had she gone out and campagined like her seat depended on it she would have won the primary and had a much easier time of this whole election. Perhaps this was a lesson in respect she needed to learn.

There is no possible way anyone can convince me that Lisa Murkowski didn't have more support than Joe Miller for the primary. Joe Miller just proved far more capable at getting his supporters out to vote for him.

Not to go without airing Lisa's dirty laundry, her write in campagin makes her reek of entitlement, especially after breaking her pre-election promise of listening to 'the will of the people' that she made with Joe. The fact that her voting record put her on the top of most Tea Party hit lists, while she had 1 and 1/2 terms to make herself a champion of smaller government and reigning in spending is also a sad fact. Sadly she was just going with what most of the republican party was doing.

Hopefully this will teach her a lesson as when she retains her seat (as I believe she will), she will go on to represent Alaska as the true conservative senator we demand and deserve.