Teacup Reads: this seems hauntingly familiar edition

Every week, I bring you a few of the most interesting pieces of political writing from around the internet to enjoy over a cup of tea on your Sunday morning. Read on to find out about opportunities to testify in support of public education funding and why Attorney General Jeff Sessions reminds me of hair metal.

Alaska news
This week, Rep. Parish writes about going to bat for education in Alaska, and he alerts us that there may be a need for personal testimony coming up. Here is the Alaska Legislature Public Testimony Opportunity page, organized by bill, time, and date. You might want to bookmark it so you can keep on top of things.

Also, have you seen Rep. Parish’s Facebook page? I always find really good, interesting items in his timeline. Like, for example, this opinion piece from Don Reardon in the Alaska Dispatch News, Alaska should have its own oil company; if nothing else, we’d get a bunch of tax credits:

According to Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, 185,582,715 barrels of oil went down the pipeline in 2015. That’s right. Almost 200 million barrels. Yet our own Department of Revenue forecasts that tax loopholes mean we will receive zero oil production tax revenue from every field that’s gone into production after 2002, and any future ones in the next decade. Zero. But wait, there’s more! Next year we are expecting to pay oil companies $825 million in cash credits and $150 million in non-cash credits. We’re actually borrowing money to pay tax credits, Gov. Bill Walker said recently. [Link removed from original article because it didn’t work, and emphasis mine – Mary]

Sen. Egan is worried about what’s going to happen to education in the budget bill in the Senate.

I keep hearing rumors of a deep cut to K-12 education, but maybe no public testimony on it.  I’ve always supported strong schools and listening to Alaskans.  I’ll keep an eye on the Finance Committee to see what they propose.  I have to say I’m pretty worried.

The Senate is run by a pack of ideologues, folks, and we need to have our Democratic Senators’ backs. If you have people in Republican districts who care about education, this is the time to send up the Bat Signal.

National news
President Trump dropped some bombs in Syria, which may or may not have accomplished anything useful. It also may or may not have been legal. And, it was a change from his long history of saying we should “stay the hell out of Syria.”

Russia is sending ships to be closer to our bomb-delivering ships. North Korea is saying that the Syria strike justifies their possession of nukes, and Pres. Trump ordered U.S. Navy ships to get closer to North Korea (but don’t worry, it’s not affecting his golf). Syrians are still suffering terribly, but as far as I can tell, Pres. Trump is just feeling bad for them rather than doing anything to help them.

Unsure why a civil war in another country became such a big issue – with us, the Russians, and half a dozen or so other actors as major players? Here’s a long-ish read from Vox that explains why we care about who runs Syria: The war in Syria, explained. You’ll want a fresh cup of tea for this one, but it is time well spent.

From the New York Times editorial board, a paragraph to sum things up before I leave the Syria reporting to the reporters:

But the action lacked authorization from Congress and the United Nations Security Council, raising questions about its legality and spotlighting a rich irony. In 2013, Mr. Trump argued that Mr. Obama must get congressional approval before attacking Syria. Congress, with a long history of ducking its war-making responsibility, refused to give it.

In no doubt completely unrelated news, no one seems to be talking about investigating Trump’s Russia ties any more! Well, except Mother Jones:

Conaway, Rooney, and Gowdy have not yet demonstrated they can mount an independent and vigorous investigation on this politically sensitive terrain. Nunes may be gone, but the challenges facing the committee remain.

Now, we have to go to California, where the connection between paying taxes and having nice things seems to have been made. Mother Jones reports on an infrastructure plan: California Just Did What Trump and Congress Won’t.

Yesterday, the California legislature passed the largest gas tax increase in state history in a move projected to raise $52 billion over 10 years to fix the state’s crumbling roads, bridges, and public transit systems. The state already has some of the highest gas taxes in the country. But the falling price of gas, increased fuel efficiency, and the popularity of hybrid and electric vehicles has recently crimped tax revenues, contributing to an estimated $135 billion backlog in road and bridge repairs. The new tax is designed to plug that gap with a 12-cent per gallon increase in the gas tax, as well as new taxes on diesel fuel, a $100 annual fee for electric cars, and higher vehicle registration fees.

On the one hand, ouch: that $52 billion (over 10 years) is going to come from people’s and businesses’ pockets. On the other hand, California has a huge infrastructure system, with many of the same deferred maintenance issues plaguing the rest of the country (except with more earthquakes). If the system goes to heck, people and businesses will all take a hit.

Look for a return to the 80’s from Jeff Sessions.
Image credit: Andwhatsnext at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Attorney General Jeff Sessions liked the 1980’s and the War on Brown People Drugs so much that he’s signalling a return to it! Here’s a quote from one of the guys he’s brought to the Justice Department to make that happen, as quoted in the Portland Press Herald:

“The federal criminal justice system simply is not broken. In fact, it’s working exactly as designed,” Cook said at a criminal justice panel at The Washington Post last year.

So, I guess we can expect more incarceration, more violence, and more civil asset forfeiture. Also, possibly, mullets, mohawks, and a Poison reunion tour.


In honor of our complete humanity, and our interests that extend beyond the political, here are some things outside of politics that caught my attention this week.

an iceberg floating in the ocean

Jos Browning/freeimages.com

When I heard that there were unprecedented numbers of icebergs in North Atlantic shipping lanes, I fell into the internet and came up with this: Listening to Icebergs’ Loud and Mournful Breakup Songs. Given what happens to icecubes in my lemonade, I’m not surprised that bergs “sing”; I love that there are scientists listening to it, though. Regarding the iceberg swarms, here’s a scientific, climate change focused explanation about why this is happening from ClimateCentral.org, and here’s a brief summary from Popular Science.

Medical professionals are just people like everyone else, with their own internal biases that can come out under stress. Here’s a first-person piece by the non-birthing mom in a lesbian couple about a complicated birth and medically challenged baby, and how much more difficult the situation was made by having to assert and justify her presence at every turn.

So, just to end on a happy note, I’m a big fan of Tumblr, and Courtney Yu (AKA Sketch Mocha) is one of my favorite places to spend time out in that part of the internet. She is a young cartoon artist, with a great eye for clothing. Currently, her top item is a picture of a dog meeting the live actor Scooby Doo at Universal Studios.

I hope your week goes startlingly well (and that you don’t wake up with 80s hair!) –
– Mary

Like what you’re reading? Tell me why by leaving a comment below or on the Tongass Democrats’ Facebook page! Don’t like it? Email me directly at admin@tongassdemocrats.com and tell me what’s bugging you.




This entry was posted in AK Leg 2017, AK News, blog, links, Opinion, State budget and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.