Jim and Greg are pleasantly surprised to see bipartisan Senate criticism aimed at Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg over the Southwest Airlines meltdown over the holidays and the recent FAA computer problem that briefly grounded all flight in the U.S. They also cringe as a second local Republican official in New Jersey is murdered within a week. Whether politically motivated or not, the lack of interest from mainstream media outlets speaks volumes. Finally, Jim highlights his excellent reporting on numerous Chinese spy balloons over the U.S. and our allies in recent years. He also explains why the balloon going over Alaska should have raised many red flags – just as many as the balloon going over the continental U.S.
Join Jim and Greg as they serve up three bad but very important martinis. First, they sigh as the Biden administration gives in to yet another Iranian demand in order to reach a new nuclear deal. They also wince as Democrats win the lone congressional seat in Alaska and blast the state’s ranked choice voting system that allowed a candidate who finished fourth in the actual vote with just 10 percent of the vote to win the election. And they raise alarms in response to California urging people not to charge their electric vehicles just days after announcing plans to ban gas-powered vehicles while residents in Colorado were forbidden from lowering the temperature in their own homes due to an “energy emergency.”
Join Jim and Greg as they welcome the news that after big fundraising numbers and weeks of intense campaigning, that Beto O’Rourke is still well behind Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and hasn’t improved his numbers at all. They also cringe as the National Republican Senatorial Committee shifts resources around to help candidates who have underperformed in their own fundraising. And as Alaska voters head to the polls they give thumbs down to the state’s system of advancing four candidates to the general election and using ranked choice to determine a winner.
While virtually all of the political oxygen is being consumed by the impeachment hearings in Washington, Democrats are looking to remove another Republican executive as well.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy won the Alaska governor’s race in 2018, promising to restore fiscal order in the state. Upon entering office in December of last year, he immediately began cutting spending. The cuts included reductions to the University of Alaska system and Medicaid payments among many other areas. By the end of February, a recall effort was already underway.
“We put in some pretty stiff reductions. And, really, there were reductions across the board and they hit a lot of programs.
“They hit programs that touched upon debt reimbursement for municipalities, university, and hit some of our vulnerable populations – homelessness and some of our seniors,” said Dunleavy.
But he says aggressive action had to be taken. Without it, Alaska would be in difficult financial straits.
“We would have gone through our savings this year. We’d have no savings left and we’d be staring at some pretty stiff, draconian taxes,” said Dunleavy.
Recall supporters gathered more than 49,000 signatures but state officials rejected the premise for it. That ruling is now being challenged in court.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Gov. Dunleavy’s reaction to the recall and his analysis of why cutting spending draws such fierce opposition in both parties – whether in Alaska or in Washington.
On Friday, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck near Anchorage, Alaska, buckling roads and causing considerable damage to homes and businesses, but thus far there are no reports of deaths or serious injuries.
Alaska is the most seismically active U.S. state, according to U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist John Bellini. He says 4.0 magnitude earthquakes are a daily occurrence in the state and 5.0 magnitude quakes happen roughly once a week. But events this powerful near a population center are far less common.
The earthquake’s epicenter was just 8.5 miles from downtown Anchorage. As of 5 p.m. ET Friday, the USGS had noted 50 aftershocks of magnitude 2.5 or greater. The most intense aftershock registered at 5.7.
Listen to the full podcast as Bellini goes into much more detail about this earthquake, earthquakes in Alaska and around the Pacific’s “ring of fire,” and what important lessons can be learned from the data gathered from Friday.
An ambitious new program known as Healing the Wounds is underway to build up and mentor the children of fallen military service members and law enforcement officers, combining the Alaskan wilderness with career and leadership training to last a lifetime, according to its founder.
The year-long program will be geared towards children aged 12-17.
Healing the Wounds President Jeffrey Epstein spent years leading wilderness experiences for families and groups in Alaska and strongly believes the changes he saw in those clients could also do a world of good for young people trying to chart a path forward following the loss of a parent in service to the nation or their community.
“I’d like to roll this out for the children of out nation’s fallen heroes – and that includes both law enforcement and the military – and provide them with the same opportunities, but actually help mentor them with unprecedented opportunities to blossom and lead productive lives,” said Epstein.
“We really want to have an impact. We want to help create the next generation of responsible young adults,” he added. However, he notes that the program will require the total focus of the young people. As a result, they will have no access to cell phones or other gadgets while in Alaska. Communications back home will be for emergencies only.
Epstein says in a world flooded with negativity, he wants Healing the Wounds to focus young people on noble pursuits.
“It’s a solutions-based initiative. We created the organization to focus on what’s possible at a time when so much of society is laser-focused on what’s wrong. We want to build character, self-confidence, and leadership skills,” said Epstein.
And what does that look like?
“This is a 12-month program. We’re going to continue to mentor them through webinars and tutorials and regional gatherings but also we’re going to expose them to a dozen or so potential career paths, and we’re going to support them with a call-in center year-round as well,” said Epstein.
“One of the things we’re looking at doing is setting some type of program where we can send them out into different industries, not just the exposure up front but the internships as they work through the years that they’re affiliated with us so we can help them prepare, plan and gain experience in those different potential career paths,” said Epstein.
Epstein already has one critical supporter of Healing the Wounds – the U.S. Army.
“I was interviewed early on by a news organization and it caught their eye. They said, ‘You know what? We’re so enthusiastic about what you’re trying to do here. Just let us know when you’re funded and when you’re ready to go. We have thousands of teenagers that would be in a position to take advantage of this,'” said Epstein.
Other prominent military figures are also on board, including retired U.S. Air Force Lt. General Thomas McInerney and retired U.S. Army Lt. General William “Jerry” Boykin. Other recent additions to the advisory board include Gold Star mother Karen Vaughn, retired U.S. Army Green Beret Captain Mykel Hawke, and Taya Kyle, widow of Chris Kyle.
But before the program can begin though, Epstein says significant fundraising is needed.
“We’re ready to go. We’re just trying to raise funding and also build membership. We’re trying to develop a national team of people that will come aboard as members. They can be as active as they want to be. They’ll have the potential to advance any ideas they have,” said Epstein, who sets a goal of 90 percent of all donations going directly to Healing the Wounds programs.
And how will Epstein and his colleagues gauge the success of the program in years to come?
“I think the easiest way to measure results is how happy and productive they turn out in the long run,” said Epstein.
More information can be found at healingthewounds.org.
Sen. John McCain is getting most of the blame from the right and praise from the left for his vote to scuttle Senate legislation to repeal parts of Obamacare, but another GOP member is coming under fire for reneging on her vow to repeal the law and offering a weak explanation for her reversal.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, campaigned twice on ditching Obamacare and even voted for the straight repeal in 2015, when the bill was vetoed by President Obama.
This year, Murkowski opposed the motion to proceed on the health care debate and then consistently rejected a wide variety of GOP amendments, including the “skinny repeal,” which McCain famously opposed. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, was the other no vote. Of the three, only Collins opposed the 2015 repeal as well.
After seven years of railing against Obamacare, why did Murkowski end up as a deciding vote to save it?
“Number one, she’s a big government leftist. Anything that grows government, grows federal control, she’s for,” said Joe Miller, who ran against Murkowski in 2010 and 2016.
In 2010, Miller defeated Murkowski in the Republican primary, only to see Murkowski launch and narrowly win a write-in campaign in the general election. In 2016, Miller was a late addition to the Libertarian ticket and came in second to Murkowski by a wider margin, while still outpacing the Democrat in the race and a well-funded independent candidate.
Murkowski’s approach to the recent Obamacare repeal votes is especially galling to Miller, given the prominence of the issue in their 2010 campaign.
“Most Alaskans that have political contact remember what she did in 2010. She actually called me out and said I was a liar about her position on Obamacare because we had a YouTube clip of her waffling statements on Obamacare. We said, ‘Look this gal isn’t really for full repeal,'” said Miller.
“So she doubled down and said, ‘Yes, I am for full repeal.’ Of course, what did she do when push came to shove? She actually voted not to repeal even on the skinny act,” added Miller.
Murkowski voted for repeal less than two years ago, so has something changed or was that earlier vote purely political?
“When the vote actually counts, you know how she’s going to vote. She knew at that point, of course, that Obama was going to veto it. So there was no cost to what we would call her principles – those of expanding government. That was entirely a consequence, in our assessment, of knowing where the outcome of that vote was going,” said Miller.
Murkowski added more confusion to her shifting position on Obamacare by refusing to explain why she did it. After the early morning vote, Murkowski dodged efforts by The Daily Caller to get some answers.
“I am really very tired, and so you’re asking for a very thoughtful response. I actually appreciate your question, but rather than respond to each and every individual request from all of these cameras around me, I’m going to take a pass,” said Murkowski.
After laughing heartily at Murkowski’s comments, Miller said he was not surprised.
“That is so typical Lisa Murkowski. That’s what she does. I mean what do you you do when you’re confronted with a lie?. You evade. You don’t answer the question, and that’s what she’s done there,” said Miller.
“She knows who she is. She’s not motivated by any principle of good government. She motivated by principles that at least constitutional conservatives and libertarian-oriented people are against,” said Miller.
Miller believes the vast majority of right-leaning voters in Alaska want a full repeal of Obamacare and he suspects they won’t forget what Murkowski did.
“I think it’s woken up a segment of Alaska. Hopefully, they’ll remember it in five years but we’ll wait and see,” said Miller.
“If this continues to incur cost to the average American as it already has in increased health care costs, increased premiums, and loss of benefits, then of course the memory is still going to be there,” said Miller.
But while Miller is perfectly happy to point out his frustrations with Murkowski, he says the problem is bigger than one senator or even the three GOP members who killed health care reform for the short term.
“I think it’s wrong to just focus entirely on Murkowski, although that’s kind of my area of expertise since I ran against her. It’s really the system of government in D.C.” said Miller.
Miller minces no words when it comes to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, whom he blames in part for the results in 2010 and for the failure of the Senate to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or ACA.
“I saw what he did to me in 2010. Mitch McConnell is the reason that the United States has Lisa Murkowski. He and his colleagues stirred up [the write-in campaign] with Lisa Murkowski to defeat us,” said Miller.
“I think Mitch McConnell likes the ACA. I think it’s all a scam when he says he is against it. If you think he didn’t count the votes before that vote, then you really don’t know Mitch McConnell,” said Miller.
“This is an ingrained problem with people out there that call themselves conservative Republicans, or Republicans, and they have absolutely no principles that are connected with the party platform, and they’re scamming the voters,” said Miller.
Miller says a successful repeal of Obamacare would put the GOP in dominant political position. Instead, he says the party is in huge trouble.
“The Republican Party needs to get it’s head screwed on straight. Leadership is where it starts. Right now there is none. I think if we had done the right thing on ACA, there’s a real chance that it could have grown in the future. I don’t see that now,” said Miller.
In addition to the changes Miller wants to see at the national level, he is also intent on ripping control of the Alaska GOP from big government Republicans like Murkowski.
“I think she can be defeated. It’s going to take a real grassroots effort in Alaska to clean up a lot of stuff in this state. The establishment has controlled the state for a number of decades. Every once in a while we’ll see a brief glimpse of sunshine. We has Gov. (Sarah) Palin for a couple of years. But for the most part, that’s not happened. It’s time for a change and maybe this is what’s going to do it,” said Miller.