Missing Uncle Ted
I’ve been nostalgic for the great political patron saint of Alaska — Ted Stevens. Lord, how I miss that Incredible Hulk tie and his fearlessness. Oh, it’s not like I’ve forgotten the arguments he and I got into. But we didn’t question each other’s love of country or state.
With Russia making bold motions toward the United States this week — planes buzzing our destroyer in the Black Sea, a spy ship patrolling within 30 miles of the coast of Connecticut — and the installation of illegal missiles around their country, I feel nervous. I haven’t dug a bunker yet, like half my neighbors in the 1980s did, but I think Alaskans feel a special edginess that people in Nebraska may not experience. When Russia or North Korea starts posturing, we know Fairbanks is 4,115 miles from Moscow — and 4,160 miles from Washington, D.C., and Pyongyang is a mere 3,705.
In 1984, I was in high school when five fishermen were captured by the Soviet Union. The nation took notice and The New York Times wrote: “The seamen are Tabb Thoms, the captain, 25 years old; Tate Thoms, 18, engineer; Mark Halpin, 20, first mate; Charles Burrall, 29, cook, and Tony Miller, deckhand. All are from Homer, Alaska.” They had “wandered” into Russian waters and Ted Stevens jumped on the horn to Russia. “In a telephone conversation with Senator Ted Stevens, Republican of Alaska, Tabb Thoms said the Russians repeatedly put pressure on the Americans to sign statements that they entered Soviet water intentionally.”
Oh, for those days when we knew who our enemies were and knew who would defend us. I’m missing Sen. Stevens because our delegation is utterly silent with regards to our proximity to Russia — and Russia’s current influence in Washington, D.C. I’m old enough to remember when a president getting “special treatment” from an intern required hearings and a special prosecutor. Three of Trump’s comrades have resigned or were fired over their Russian contacts. All this smoke is about to meet the fire.
I know you want to know what our representatives are doing on our behalf, since they seem to think coddling Vlad Putin is no biggy. It’s pretty amazing, really.
Don Young is really excited that he’s been able to introduce legislation, apparently on behalf of people with some deep-seated insecurity, that will make sure shooting bear cubs from a helicopter and gassing wolf pups in their dens can happen on federal wildlife refuges in Alaska.
Isn’t it great! If you have to use gassing or an aircraft to “hunt,” you probably need an escort service to “date.”
Young has been too busy to get the updated memo that “Obama’s war on coal” didn’t exist — it was cheap natural gas readily on the market that lost coal jobs. I know. Math is hard. Congress also got rid of the Stream Buffer Rule — so polluting our salmon streams is easier than it’s been in years. I guess it all makes sense that Young announced his new Cannabis Caucus. If you’re a stoner who can’t hunt and prefers coal to salmon, Don’s your guy.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski always delivers just enough to not be quite enough. She and Dan Sullivan both put up Facebook tributes to Elizabeth Peratrovich, “a crucial leader in the fight for equal rights for Alaska Natives at a time when they experienced harsh discrimination.” Well, thank God there’s no discrimination now! Fixed!
Oh, and they both voted for the top attorney in the land — Jeff Sessions — who was deemed too racist to be a judge in the ’80s. Nothing says you’re committed to fighting racial bias like putting a racist in charge.
Sullivan’s take was cute: “I look forward to working with him in reestablishing constitutional principles that have deteriorated under the former Administration.” I’m just going to leave that right there and go practice my cyrillic letters.
About the withdrawal for consideration for secretary of labor, Murkowski wrote: “This has been a difficult process for Mr. Puzder and his family. I respect his decision to withdraw.” Poor Mr. Puzder. I’m sure it wasn’t as difficult as it is to live on the wages he pays his employees, but poor thing. I guess he’ll have more time to review commercials of women dripping hamburger sauce on their breasts — you know, to run on television to promote his food. … Thoughts and prayers. Hope he’s OK.
Lisa warned us about the dangers of traveling through erupting volcanos. It must be scary — like having Russian planes buzz your aircraft carrier, or Russian spy ships 30 miles off our coast, or hacking our elections, or, well, you get it. Volcanoes are scary! I can see one from my porch!
Both our senators voted for Scott Pruitt to run the EPA. Scott Pruitt is a climate change denier, something most of us in this state have first-hand experience with. Murkowski noted she’s a senator “for a state hard-hit by EPA regulations.” We’re also a state that was hit hard by an oil spill and we don’t want the Pebble mine. Pruitt has been ordered by a judge to release the emails between himself and industry, but our senators decided they didn’t need to see those before voting and knowing if he was in collusion or not.
Also, they’ve all decided the measures to make it more difficult for people with mental illness to buy guns were too steep, so those are gone. Brilliant — vote to get rid of mental health care under the ACA and make it easy for the mentally ill to get guns. What could possibly go wrong?
As frustrated as I get with our representation in Washington, D.C., on domestic policy, I should never have to question their intent or loyalty to our nation’s safety with regards to Russia — but this week I am forced to. Their continued silence is consent.