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.

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, August 30, 2007


Today is our 54th wedding anniversary. I guess Marlene figures she couldn’t get anything on a trade in – she’ll just keep me, and replace parts as necessary (such as my total hip replacement 13 days ago).

We were married when I was 20 and she 19, about two months after I graduated Air Force Aviation Cadet flying school. We’ve had a fantastic time together, and count our Blessings. We’re going out for a nice celebratory dinner tonight.

The photo shows Marlene and me after a dance at the Hollywood Palladium on Sunset Boulevard - I think the Freddy Martin Band was playing that night.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Alaska Regional Hospital: BEEN THERE. Total hip replacement: DONE THAT. Would I get the other hip replaced if need be? YUP!

During my preparation for surgery, my anesthetist surgeon told me he wanted to locate my backbone before injecting me. I explained that I do in fact have a backbone, as do most other legislators – though it sometimes appears that some legislators do not.

The photo taken shows me with my registered nurse (and daughter) Mary Lynn on August 17th, after being prepped for hip replacement, just before being wheeled into the operating room at Alaska Regional Hospital. She was only in my operating room before the spinal block, then went on with her duties in an adjacent operating room.

Obviously things turned out well - since I'm breathing, have a pulse, at home, and writing this Blog. I arrived home yesterday, Tuesday afternoon the 22nd. My pain (what the hospital calls “discomfort”) seems to be 98% surgical wound and only 2% joint. Whatever, pain isn’t more than it was before the operation. I called my legislative office staff every day since the day of the operation - including the day of the operation. They can’t escape me.

Memorable moments at the hospital: My question: May I have another pill for nausea now? Their answer: Are you nauseous? // On using crutches: Do you understand what I said? My answer: Yes. Their question: Are you sure? My answer: “Yes.” Their instruction: “Repeat back what I said.” Someone needs to tell certain caregivers there’s no statistical relationship between a hip and an IQ, and that most of us comprehend the English language without having to be spoken to in s l o w motion. Then there’s the usual hospital room stuff: Every time I wanted to take a nap, they wanted to give me an injection.

My surgery benefited from being performed by orthopedist Dr. Tim Kavanuagh, along with other outstanding physicians, nurses, and staff. Overall, my care was both excellent and compassionate. I wasn’t all that cantankerous at the hospital (but Marlene says that doesn’t include when I’m at home)!

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Approximately 240,000 total hip replacements are performed in the United States each year. Tomorrow, August 17th, you can add the name Bob Lynn to the list. The surgery will be performed by orthopedist Dr. Tim Kavanaugh at Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage. I think he’s worked on half our legislators, both past and present.

Everyone tells me hip replacement is nowadays just a routine “procedure.” Obviously, however, the procedure is more routine for doctors than for patients. To me, having a hangnail removed isn't routine.

I’m thinking the word “procedure” means something like a surgical operation. Euphemisms make me nervous. The hospital instruction papers tell me I may have some “discomfort” immediately after the operation. I betcha what is discomfort for them is “ouch” to me. It’s like when I was in Vietnam controlling B52 bombing strikes. Dropping bombs wasn’t bombing, it was an merely an “event.” Bombers weren’t B52s, they were “priority traffic.” And the beat goes on.
I think filling out all the paperwork (much of it seems to be “CYA” – and no, I won’t define "CYA") may be the most painful part of the operation. I didn’t have one of the papers needed today when I went to the Pre-Admitting Section at the hospital. The clerk informed me that “It’s not usual for someone not to have that form.” To which I replied, “Well, it’s not usual for me to have a hip replacement.” Hopefully if the clerk is a voter, she doesn’t live in my district.

I just looked a little better at the diagram I posted on this Blog. Yikes!! Even so, I’m very much looking forward to getting around a little better than before. I have places to go and things to do. Next blog, I’ll tell you how it went. I’m hoping I’ll be saying “Hip, Hip, Hooray!!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Today, along with other members and staff of the Joint Armed Services Committee, I toured the Missile Defense Complex at Ft. Greely, near Delta Junction, Alaska. We flew up to the missile site in an Alaska National Guard C130 from Kulis Guard Base in Anchorage. I have been a legislative member of the Joint Armed Services Committee since 2002.

The Missile Complex is operated by our own Alaska National Guard, and forms a successful and critical part of America’s defense. Basically, several launch missiles are in underground silos. At the end of each missile is a maneuverable “bullet” that separates from the launch vehicle, and guided into a collision with an incoming enemy missile. There are no explosives involved. Basically, we hit a “bullet” with a “bullet” and defeat the enemy attack. Impressive indeed.

Currently more than 20 nations have ballistic missile capability. The future’s unpredictable, but common sense tells us we can expect technical and political surprises from adversaries. North Korea, China, and Iran all have increasing missile capabilities, and some are known to proliferate their capabilities to other potential adversaries. There were practice missile launches from North Korea in 2006, plus a nuclear test. As stated in yesterday’s Blog, we live in a very dangerous world.

The mission of the Missile Defense Agency, which operates the missile complex at Ft. Greely, is to maintain and sustain an initial capability to defend the United States against attacks from missile capable nations such as North Korea and China. Missile defense has three segments: the initial or boost segment, Midcourse Segment, Terminal Segment. The Missile Defense Complex at Ft. Greely is responsible for intercepting enemy missiles during the midcourse segment. The prime contractor for the Missile Defense Complex, launch missiles, and intercept technology is The Boeing Company.

In 1967 and 1968, during my Air Force military career, I was one of seven Air Force officers selected to participate in the Air University “Education with Industry” program, conducted at The Boeing Company in Seattle. The year long program was considered by the military to be similar to a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. As part of the program, I worked alongside Boeing people on projects including the Supersonic Transport, 747 and 737 airliners, AWACS programming, air launch cruise missiles, and the Minuteman ICBM. It was interesting to come full circle in Alaska with Boeing missile technology 39 years later.

We can be proud of the job our Alaska National Guard is doing at Ft. Greely. I support their work, and their missile defense mission.

The top photo shows members and staff of our Joint Armed Forces Committee, and the "bullet" kill vehicle that's launched into space from a missile silo.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Tomorrow I visit the Missile Defense Complex at Ft. Greely, Alaska. My forthcoming visit to this successful facility brought to mind an Alaska clergyman who (in a 2001 newspaper opinion piece) opposed basing a missile defense system in Alaska. I thought his basis for opposing missile defense naïve, illogical, and dangerous (there’s more, but I shan’t go there). The following was my editorial response in the same newspaper - everything’s the same, except for the purpose of this Blog, I changed his real name to “Clergyman” as he’s still ministering in Alaska (It was difficult to be polite, but I think I succeeded):

“I must respectfully disagree with (Clergyman’s) denouncement of a missile defense shield for America. The gravity of the question, and the good (Clergyman’s) conclusions, deserve a counter point of view. Even though I have spent many years in the USAF Aerospace Defense Command, I stake no claim of being an expert on missile technology and national defense. Nonetheless, I probably have no less expertise on these subjects than (the Clergyman).

The (Clergyman) claims, “It is doubtful it [the missile shield] would work . . .” If his doubt is based on past missile technology problems, is that a rationale to quit the research? If so, should past difficulties motivate us to quit research on defense against AIDS? I hope not. History teaches it’s a mistake to be “doubtful” something will never work. Little in the world of technology is forever unfixable. Today’s challenges can be tomorrow’s achievements. If a missile shield doesn’t work perfectly today, then fix it. Unbelievable it seems now, some naysayers actually thought it “doubtful” the Wright Brother’s flying contraption at Kitty Hawk “would work.” There is no doubt, however, the missile shield won’t work, unless it’s built. Even the illustrious liberal icon Senator Joe Leiberman tells us, “The question from the American point of view is not whether we will have a National Missile Defense, but rather when and how."

(Clergyman) tells us the proposed missile shield would be “no defense against other forms of attack, such as biological and/or chemical terrorism.” Not so true. The (the Clergyman) apparently doesn’t realize that ballistic missiles can carry chemical and biological weapons as well as explosives. But whatever, if a police department would help shield us from intruders, but would offer no defense against cancer, should we then not have a police department? If a nation can’t defend against everything, is it reasonable to defend against nothing?

(Clergyman) tells us our missile defense “would require the US to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty.” What treaty? President Nixon and Soviet leader Brezhnev signed the ABM Treaty, and both are dead. The nation with whom the treaty was made - the Soviet Union - no longer exists. Ergo, there is no treaty from which to withdraw. Even if magical politics could somehow reincarnate the Pollyanna ABM treaty, the agreement make even less sense in today’s reality. Moreover, the treaty gave governments the authority to cancel the treaty with six months' notice. If politics require the pretense of a current treaty, then America should give cancellation notice today. Why? To a large measure, the world is nowadays a more dangerous place than during the Cold War. Threats proliferate from rogue nations with intercontinental missiles like China and North Korea. I submit it’s immoral to leave American people defenseless from ICBMs fired at American cities, when we have the potential to shield ourselves from attack. America shouldn’t have to grovel for permission from allies, foes, or even the wishful thinking, to defend our own nation (and, by extension, our allies). International diplomacy may be desirable, but diplomatic servility is inappropriate. It’s not reasonable to ask permission for self-defense.

The (Clergyman) tells us China has “expressed opposition” to a US missile defense system. “Hello,” China has missiles targeted at the United States, including Alaska! Why is it surprising our most likely enemies protest the loudest? China threatened that, if we came to the defense of Taiwan, it might mean the nuclear annihilation of Los Angeles. Adversaries like China and North Korea make such threats because we have failed to deploy any kind of missile defense. This failure is due partly to well-meaning individuals who convince wishful-thinking people to oppose reasonable defensive measures.

The (Clergyman) believes the estimated 120 billion cost of building a missile defense shield “would be better spent stabilizing developing nations and eliminating that which leads people to violence . . .” Can anyone seriously believe 120 billion dollars - or 120 centillion dollars for that matter - would eliminate evil from the world? Can we bribe folks like Saddam Hussein into becoming pacifists? Surely not. An American republic which protects its own existence is, in itself, a stabilizing influence for nations both developed and developing. Granted, funds for appropriate social programs are essential, but that doesn’t negate the need for national defense. How many munificent social programs and how much foreign aid to worthy nations can America fund, if missiles destroy us?

I agree with (Clergyman) - (Many in the clergy) have consistently maintained that military spending should be “defensive.” But how, pray tell, is a shield against incoming missiles not defensive? Is it an offensive act - or just plain common sense and good national stewardship - for the US to design and deploy a national “Missile-Proof Vest,” between now and the time when all God’s children become peaceful Christians?”

Interestingly, this editorial "war of words" took place in August 2001 - shortly before the attack on 9/11. Terrorists are still lurking among us, and foreign missiles are still aimed at us. The world is a very dangerous place.

Monday, August 13, 2007


King George III was an arrogant politician. His Royal Highness resided far away, and American colonists were not part of his establishment. Long-serving George III was, in modern terms, “out of touch.”

George III figured colonists couldn’t survive without his protection and largesse. No need, thought he, to pay attention to constituent complaints or colonial media (such as it was). He could conduct – or appear to conduct - any outrage without consequence. No need, thought he, to heed investigators. When the colonists got too unruly, George III dispached arrogant generals to maintain his establishment and control insurrection. Lesser functionaries at the colonial level acted in the same arrogant manner.

British regulars thought they could capture Patriots Sam Adams and John Hancock at Lexington or Concord. Arrogant leaders considered the disparate Minutemen to be ignorant clodhoppers, certainly no match for the well trained (and well financed) regular establishment. History records that British General Gage was ordered to challenge in any way he deemed appropriate "this rude rabble without plan, without concert, and without conduct . . . unprepared to encounter with a regular force." Above all else, Gage was to strike hard with a crushing blow. But arrogance lost, like it usually does - 273 total casualties for the British and 95 for the American rebels at Lexington and Concord.

Later, General Sir William Howe was too arrogant to follow up his Pyrrhic victory at Bunker Hill. He failed to advance immediately on the American camp at Cambridge, which would surely have fallen - and would have ended the Revolutionary War at its inception. George Washington secured his ultimate victory because, time and time again, British arrogance failed to recognize reality, failed to take prudent action, and thereby lost the war.

My recent legislative business in historical Boston brought forth the foregoing historical musing: History has broad application; political arrogance eventually loses. Just food for thought.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I like Boston, Massachusetts - the site of the National Conference of State Legislators I attended last week. It’s impossible to walk anywhere in Boston without crossing the historic paths of America’s great events and great people, plus the regular folks who helped in the battles for freedom but whose names never made the history books - but who were great nonetheless.

The Battle of Bunker Hill (which actually occurred at Breed’s Hill - adjacent to Bunker Hill), the Boston Tea Party, and nearby Lexington and Concord where Minutemen first defeated the British regulars. The great Patriots John and Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere, John Prescott, Dr. Warren, William Dawes, James Otis, Robert Paine, and Crispus Attucks the patriot Negro who died at the Boston Massacre walked the streets of this historic city. Boston is also the birthplace of Benjamin Franklin, and the place where abolitionist Frederick Douglass started awakening the American conscience to the evils of slavery, and where William Lloyd Garrison gave his first antislavery speech in 1829 (the year my great-great grandfather Jeremiah French Lynn was born). And the USS Constitution called “Old Ironsides” rides proudly at anchor as across the Charles River; it’s the oldest American warship still in commissioned service. If it were possible, every American school kid should visit Boston.

The photo at the left is Paul Revere's home. The photo at the right is the superstructure of Old Ironsides.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Our nation has over 7600 state legislators, state representatives and state senators, throughout the United States and its territories. Some two thousand or more (I’m "guesstimating") descended upon Boston, Massachusetts, for the 2007 National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL). I was one of them, along with a bipartisan attendance of several other Alaska representatives and senators.

We learned from top notch speakers at the general sessions. I was enthralled by the presentation of America’s most celebrated historian, David G. McCullough, author of 1776, John Adams, and Truman (I’ve read all three books). He talked about the extraordinary men who founded the United States and set it on course to greatness. McCullough is a two time winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Wow! If ever you want to take a course in history, take it from this guy.

I was also impressed by the panel that gave insight into what makes for a great president of the United States. It was presented by David Gergan and Andrew Card, and moderated by Mara Liasson, political correspondent for National Public Radio. David Gergan was an advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton - and is currently with Harvard University School of Government. Andrew (“Andy”) Card was recently the Chief of Staff for President George W. Bush.

After the general sessions, there were breakaway workshops on a large variety of subjects. Workshops I attended included “Legislative Services to Citizens,” presided by the Chief of Staff for the Kentucky House Majority Caucus, and “New Ways to Communicate with Constituents,” presided by the head of the California Center for Digital Government.

Considering the current tribulations in Alaska politics, I made it a special point to attend the workshop on “The Anatomy of Ethics Reform” presided by Professor Paula Franzese of the Seaton Hall School of Law, New Jersey, and sponsored by the Center of Ethics in Government. Panelists were our own Rep. John Coghill of North Pole, Alaska; Rep. Joe Hackney, Kentucky; Rep. Dennis Richardson, Washington.

Rep. Coghill made us proud and scored many points for our state, when he described how Alaska worked through our ethics legislation and amendments to bring them together successfully with the passage of HB109. This workshop on ethics was one of the most heavily attended workshops of the conference, with attendees from legislatures across the nation. It’s obvious Alaska isn’t a “Lone Ranger” when it comes to ethics problems.
My photos show David McCullough (top right); the Gergan, Card, Liasson Panel (left); Andrew Card and me (left); and Alaska Rep. John Coghill (bottom right).

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