Blogs by Rep Bob Lynn
Blog site of Representative Bob Lynn, Alaska House of Representatives,District 31 Anchorage, Alaska. Blogs consist of public comments during legislative sessions, speeches, political commentary, as well as personal observations, and some journal type entries. Comments are invited.
- Name: Blogs by Rep Bob Lynn
- Location: Anchorage, Alaska, United States
Member of the Alaska State House of Represeentatives since 2003. US Air Force, Retired; military bandsman; F94C interceptor pilot; Vietnam service as radar controller (Monkey Mountain), radar site commander(Pleiku); Government Contract Management; Public school Teacher, Retired. Married 55 years to Marlene Wagner Lynn, 6 children, 20 grandchildren, 1 great-grandchild. Member St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton Church. Former Tucson Arizona policeman, Ambulance Driver and Mortician's Assistant, Realtor (currently on referral status).
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
THE DEBATE CONTINUES
My interest in politics grew over the years. I attended my first political rally during a weekend leave in 1952, when I was a nineteen year old Aviation Cadet on a weekend leave. I wanted to see General Eisenhauer in person, so I attended a Eisenhauer for President Rally at St. Louis’ Kiel Auditorium. The political extravaganza astounded me. Wow! Politics is “fun.” But it was the 1960 presidential campaign of John Kennedy that engendered my first real interest in politics – an interest I couldn’t indulge personally until after military retirement. I had a chance to see Kennedy at a parade in Long Beach, California but, to my lasting regret, didn't go. I do, however, remember that Kennedy’s campaign kept my eyes glued to our old black and white television. In those days I had no real understanding of liberal versus conservative political ideology, but I did recognize political charisma when I saw it – and Kennedy had charisma in spades.
On November 22nd, 1963 I was a Captain in the Air Force living in a rented home in San Bernardino, California. The television was on, and I was getting dressed for duty at the Los Angeles Air Defense Sector at Norton Air force Base. That’s when I heard the first announcement of Kennedy being shot in Dallas. Soon after, venerable TV newsman Walter Cronkite broke into tears, when he announced Kennedy’s death. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and seeing on the television. I felt like crying myself. Grief is contagious. Moments later, the telephone rang and I was called to duty early because, not surprisingly, we were ordered into an increased military alert. No one knew what was happening. Was Kennedy’s assassination a single event, or part of a larger situation? We're still pondering that question.
Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for Kennedy’s murder. Uncertainty escalated even more, after strip joint owner Jack Ruby assassinated Lee Harvey Oswald. And that uncertainty continues until this day. In 1971, I had an opportunity to visit Dallas, Texas and the site of Kennedy’s assassination at Dealey Plaza. I drove over to the Plaza, looked up to the 6th floor of the School Depository Building, and walked over to the infamous “grassy knoll” nearby. It seemed eerie. I find it very difficult to believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, despite the conclusion of the Warren Report (if you think I'm a “conspiracy theorist,” so be it).
I am (or at least was) an excellent rifle shot. I was on my high school ROTC Rifle Team, and later a member of a rifle team in Montana, with an NRA rating of Expert, and had almost achieved a Master rating – as well as having Expert Air Force military rifle and pistol ratings. I can tell you that it’s difficult- if not impossible - to fire “3” shots accurately downward within 5 to 7 seconds, with a bolt action high power rifle, at a moving target, from a kneeling position, from a six story building, with the recoil - and working the bolt action - that would have jerked a cheap rifle scope (or any other scope) off the target between the shots.
Consider this: according to sources, Oswald scored barely two points above the minimum for sharpshooter on one occasion, and only one point above the minimum requirement for marksman on another. Anyone with target shooting experience will tell you that’s not very good. There’s also huge psychological factors involved. No matter someone's rifle expertise, anyone attempting to assassinate a president would have to be extremely stressed – far more stressed than the stress of shooting at a deer, or even at a paper target during a rifle match.
I own an Argentine 7.65 caliber Argentine Mauser rifle (similar in power to the .308 Winchester), which is very similar to the Italian 6.5 Mannlicher-Carcano identified as Oswald’s rifle. The difference between my Argentine Mauser and the Italian Carcano rifle is only a few thousandths of an inch for the muzzle and bullet. I have repeatedly attempted to dry fire my Argentine Mauser rifle three times within the 5 to 7 seconds allotted to Oswald’s time to shoot three times. Even without aiming, or recoil, or attempting to make a difficult shot downward at a moving target, I can hardly do it. And I don’t think Oswald could do it either.
Oswald may well have shot at President Kennedy – whether he hit or missed. But I do not think Oswald acted alone. We’re still debating the assassination of Abraham Lincoln after 141 years. We’re likely to debate John F. Kennedy’s assassination even longer.
Monday, November 20, 2006
ALASKA LEGISLATURE DEFIES COURT - CONGRATULATIONS TO US!
Today, Monday, November 20th, the State Senate passed the two House bills. Congratulations, as well as “praise, joy, and thanks” (translated, that means “halleluiah”)!
Both the House and Senate voted mainly on political party lines - the Republicans voting "yes," and the Democrats voting "No" (Democrat President Harry Truman must be turning over in his grave).
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
GETTING FROM "HERE" TO "THERE"
It’s stuff like this that makes one wonder why the legislature meets off-the-road-system in Juneau. Consider the fact that fifty-five legislators out of sixty must travel through Anchorage to get to Juneau. Also, consider the fact that the airport weather in Anchorage only rarely causes flight delays - in contrast to Juneau, where weather too poor to land is commonplace.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
“SAME-SEX” BENEFITS AND MARRIAGE: WHO WILL STAND UP TO THE COURT?
The only appropriate and legal marriage is between one man and one woman. A mere “sex partnership” – whoever it is between, isn’t a legal marriage and therefore doesn’t form the proper basis for benefits to one or more of the partners. The fact that such partners are not permitted by law to marry is irrelevant. If someone cannot get legally married, for whatever reason, they should not be treated by the law as if they are married. That’s common sense – which, unfortunately, is not too common.
Furthermore, how do we determine who a “partner” is anyway? Would/could state health benefit household “partners” include same-sex siblings, a same-sex parent or child, or same-sex roommates not involved in a sexual relationship?
It is said that Alaska already faces a substantial unfunded retirement and health care benefits liability for its employees. Adding who-knows-how-many sex partners to the state benefit rolls (and they could even come in from Outside to “partner” up for benefits) would add huge costs to our retirement and health care costs.
But much more importantly in the total scheme of things, marriage is special. It’s been special since time immemorial. Marriages (both civil and religious), and resultant nuclear families, have been the cornerstone of civilization. It’s difficult to comprehend questions of same-sex benefits to same-sex “partners” from the government are worthy of debate between reasonable people, let alone court rulings that denigrate legitimate marriage, or the need for legislation to prohibit the absurd. If this court ruling is allowed to stand, the next step down the slippery-slope will be court mandated same-sex state “benefit” being mandated for private businesses.
The Legislative, the Judiciary, and the Executive are co-equal branches of our constitutional government and one cannot dictate to the other – it’s termed "separation of powers." The court has created a constitutional crisis by legislating benefits, making appropriations, and mandating regulations in the process. The constitutional crisis has been precipitated by the court, not by the legislature, not by the governor and his administration. If our Legislature doesn’t stand up to the Court, (and for the legitimate partnership of marriage) who will?
Saturday, November 11, 2006
I'm a Vietnam military veteran, and damn proud of it! Today I was one of the guests at the American Veterans’ Day and the Canada’s Remembrance Day celebration at the Alaska National Guard Armory on Ft. Richardson at the 11th hour of the 11th day, of the 11th month. It was also a “welcome home” for soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 297th Infantry, who came home last night from Iraq (They were met at the airport by Governor-Elect Sarah Palin). There are about 70,000 veterans and 26,000 in the reserves, National Guard, active duty or Canadian forces in Alaska.
When the Air Force Band of the Pacific played a medley of service songs, each veteran in the audience of that service in the stood up. It was my turn to stand tall when the band played the Air Force Song “Off we go into the wild blue yonder.” An excellent Keynote Address was delivered by Major General Craig Campbell.
I was moved by the Invocation delivered by Alaska Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club’s Chaplain Bob Lupo, and asked him for a copy of it. Following are some excerpts of his remarks,
“There are some who are opposed to war. I don’t doubt they are good people, albeit somewhat naïve. No sane person encourages war – but some things like tyranny, threats to national security, and the protection of freedom are proper exceptions to justify it. I am reminded of a short poem, pertinent for anti-war pacifists to ponder: ‘. . . those who cry appease, appease – are hanged by those they tried to please’ We pray that ignorance will be rectified by reality, and we pray for peace . . . We pray for the safety of our military, especially those in harm’s way. God, keep them in the palm of your hand and lead them safely home!”
Friday, November 10, 2006
I won election as Chair of the House State Affairs Committee. I have served as a member of this committee during the preceding four years. State Affairs is an important standing committee, and many substantive bills are assigned to it. I also obtained membership on the Judiciary Committee, as well as the International Trade, Economic Development, and Tourism Committee.
Committees are where the “heavy lifting” on legislation occurs i.e. the hard work. Testimony is received from bill sponsors, the administration, and the public. After that, a bill is either held in the committee, or is passed out of committee with individual “Do Pass,” “Do Not Pass,” “No Recommendation,” or “Amend” votes.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
SOME GOOD PEOPLE WON. SOME GOOD PEOPLE LOST.
On Election Night 2006 I was at Election Central from 8PM until midnight at the Egan Center in Anchorage to view Alaska election results. Some good people won. Some good people lost. Politics is a high stakes affair, not just for the candidates, but also for the state and nation.
Hopefully, there will be a more positive relationship between the administration and legislature. People need to trust their elected leaders – and that’s even more important than the gas pipeline.
Our governor-elect is Sarah Palin, and it’s hardly a secret that I’m pleased. The Republican majority in the House has been reduced to 24 to 16, and in the State Senate reduced to 11 to 9. The House organizational meeting is Friday the 10th, where the Speaker of the House and other leadership will be chosen by secret ballot, in addition to committee chairs. The telephone lines between legislators are truly a-buzzing.
I’m very concerned about the power shift in Washington DC, and how that may affect national security. I feel less safe today than I did yesterday.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
POLITICAL “BEAUTY PAGEANT”
It’s a nice event. The choir is fantastic. Pastor Prevo may not know it, but in political “shop talk” we call it the “candidate beauty pageant.” Well, we know who won this year’s pageant, and it certainly wasn’t me.
THE BURNING QUESTION IS, “SO WHAT?”
Like everyone else, opinion page editors and the newspaper editorial board have political opinions. Good. We all should. But here’s a headline of my own: newspaper editorials and endorsements are not – repeat not – Holy Writ. Your own personal choices on whom to vote for are no less valid than the newspaper's.
It's dangerous to disagree with folks having access to unlimited ink, but the media’s political opinions likely have scant more creditability than asking the opinion of next person walking down the street – and maybe less. So go vote Tuesday. Make up your own mind. You’re just as smart as they are.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
THREE DAYS TILL ELECTION
This 2006 election is critically important. There’s a hotly contest for governor, as well as several very competitive legislative races, that could change the future of Alaska for years to come. For one thing, the new governor and new legislative will be very important to putting together an appropriate gas pipeline. That’s obvious. But more important, I think, are issues of basic character and morality and work ethic. Where do the candidates stand on core moral values? Is there any evidence of political backbone? When push comes to shove, that’s what’s important. Get the values right, and good things usually follow.
I fear too many folks vote for the candidate who had the last political card in the mailbox, or for the name on the last sign they saw on the way to their polling place. Maybe worse, vote for somebody merely because some newspaper with an agenda endorsed them. Even so, our system of government and our elective process is the best in the world.
Alaska is a marvelous place. It’s very easy for folks up here to meet or talk on the phone to almost everybody running for election to anything. Alaska is the world's largest small town. I go to all kinds of political campaign events. Too often I see the same few people. Good for them. God Bless ‘em. But where are all the others?
Most of us running for office knock on doors, make phone calls, or even stand by the roadside with a sign inviting folks to stop, get acquainted, and ask questions face-to-face, one-on-one. Almost all of us have our name in the phone book. That means we make a good effort to meet the folks we seek to represent.
Please, between now and the time the polls close Tuesday evening, personally contact the candidates on your ballot. Then vote.
Friday, November 03, 2006
GUANXI, CHUPPIES, AND TRADE
Lt. Governor Loren Leman opened the conference. He was followed by several China experts, including a special presentation by Yongpu Wang, the Commercial and Economic Counselor of the Consulate General for China based in San Francisco. From this diplomat I learned an unexpected thing - the Chinese term for the Korean War” is “War of protection of the Chinese Mainland.” How about that?
Much of the conference centered on information on the business culture of China. We were told there are large differences between the different regions in style, personality, and customs. For example, signing a contract is not the end of negotiation, it’s the beginning, and everything is possible with enough time. Building positive relationships is critical, and is termed “guanxi.” It is said that interpersonal relationships are more important to the Chinese businessperson than products and prices, and that the “loyalty factor” is extremely important. We were also informed that there is too often a dichotomy between guanxi and law.
According to the speaker Dr. Andreas Hoefert, a global economist, “China on an exceptional growth track, "Never in the History of the world has there been such a large economic growth at such a fast rate for such along time.”
I learned a new term, “Chuppies.” These are upwardly mobile Chinese for whom “Buy American” – especially high-quality goods – is a status symbol.
There's both great opportunity and some problems with Chinese – American trade. Expanding two way trade can be beneficial because profitable trading partners are less likely to upset the applecart with war. But a note of caution. Behind emerging capitalism, the bright lights and ultra-modern glitz in big cities like Shanghai, China is still a communist dictatorship that violates human rights daily. Trade is good but prudence reminds us that when we trade with China we are “Dancing with a Schizophrenic Dragon” - please review my September 27, 2005 Blog of the same title, written after my trip to China last year.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
WE’RE SUING THE GOVERNOR
I’m proud to be part of the Legislature's law suit to bar Governor Murkowski from signing the gas pipeline contract he negotiated with three major oil companies, without first getting the Legislature’s approval
Sixty legislators were elected to represent, for better or worse, the people of Alaska. If the governor were to sign his proposed gas pipeline contract, without legislative approval, it would be a spit-in-the-face to the Legislature. And that’s akin to a spit-in –the-face of every man, woman, and child in Alaska – whatever one thinks of the governors proposed contract. Not only that, it would raise constitutional questions of separation of powers between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government.
The governor has been delivering a string of not-very-vague hints that he might very well bypass the elected representatives of the people and, once again, “do his own thing.” Ergo, the court action to prevent Governor Murkowski from committing such an incredible act. Better to institute legal action before the fact than after.
I want an appropriate gas pipeline contract to be signed, and the gas pipeline to be built, as soon as possible. However, there’s a proper way to do it, and we must guard against the improper.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
SANTA EMISSARIES TO EMMONAK
Today was our first 2006 National Guard Operation Santa Claus Mission. We flew in an Alaska Air National Guard C130 troop carrier from Anchorage about 500 miles west to the Yupik Eskimo village of Emmonak, near where the Yukon River flows into the Bering Sea. About 150 families reside in this bush village. The only access is by boat or air. Amazingly, there's snow in my yard in Anchorage, but none in Emmonak - just plenty of mud. There's also a zillion "4 wheelers" that transport folks around the village.
Santa and Mrs. Claus came into the school gym to help us give out gifts of food, candy, books, basketballs (the kids loved the basketballs!), and clothing - while a contingent of the Air Force Band of the Pacific played Christmas music. It was heartwarming to see the teenagers crowding around the military people to get them to autograph the basketballs. It's an honor to participate in Operation Santa Claus. How wonderful that these youth look up the military as heroes – because they are! Senator Kerry could learn a lesson from the kids of Emmonak.