The Anchorage Daily News story is here: http://www.adn.com/front/story/630232.html
Alaska is a huge land mass with a small and very scattered population. Only its vast natural resource wealth and a strong central government allows it to function as a singular social and political entity. The discovery of oil in Cook Inlet, and the revenue from that oil, made Statehood possible. Prior to that, the Territory, though producing wealth for many in the mining, timber, fishing, and fur industries could not have been self-suffient. Prudoe Bay took the State from self-sufficient to fairly well off.
The bargain at Statehood was since the natural resource wealth would be owned and controlled by the central government it would have to be distributed equally to the disparate regions of the State. The primary engines of that distribution were the central government itself and the Capital, Juneau, the University system based in Fairbanks, and the Alaska Railroad and the highway system centered on Anchorage. Originally, Alaska’s Senators represented regions, so that would have assured that the more far-flung areas of the State could share equitably in the State’s resources. The Voting Rights Act ended that, and rural Alaska has had the hind teat ever since.
Back in the ’70s when the State was full of transients either working on the Pipeline or looking for a job on the Pipeline, “the People” voted to move the Capital from Juneau to a spot in the road in the middle of nowhere called Willow. It is no coincidence that Sarah Palin has a daughter named Willow. Since then, the People have repeatedly refused to actually spend any money to move the Capital and have rejected the notion of moving it whenever that notion is associated with any actual costs. That isn’t good enough for Sarah Palin and her Wasilla redneck friends. And I use that term deliberately. As the New Yorker said of Anchorage in the Pipeline days; the people who built Wasilla, Alaska should never be allowed to build anything ever again. Once upon at time, the center of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough was the nice old town of Palmer, Alaska. Palmer looked more like an actual American town than most any other place in Alaska. The Mat Valley was the center of what passed for agriculture in Alaska and was even a part of a New Deal experiment to locate a bunch of displaced mid-western farmers on homesteads. Never produced a real agricultural industry, 12, 000 heating degree days interferes with agriculture, but it did make a nice town with some nice old families. When the State built a road directly from Anchorage to Fairbanks, the Parks Highway, in the ’70s, Wasilla occurred. Actually Wasilla was a whistle stop on the Alaska Railroad, but the Parks Highway brought it to its strip mall and urban sprawl glory. Wasilla is why we have zoning laws. The Mat Valley has long been known for its marajuana. Matanuska Valley marajuana is second only to some of the Hawaii hybrids for its THC concentration and desirability. In recent times, the Mat Valley has also become the Meth Capital of Alaska. And the news today is all full of Levi’s Mom and her little hillbilly heroin problem. The land was cheap, squatting on lots of it was free, and all sorts of people came to live in the woods out there. You could grow some dope, cook some meth, sign up for Alaska’s lucrative welfare, and maybe even do a little cash work from time to time and have a pretty good and totally irresponsible and unproductive life. Welcome to Wasilla. Willow, Alaska is at the northern edge of the Matanuska Valley. There still isn’t much of anything there, but the hope of a big boom in building a new capital city there burns bright in the hearts of the residents of Wasilla, Palmer, and Anchorage. Well actualy, Anchorage is being disingenuous; it actually wants all of State government for itself, but since it knows that the rest of the State hates Anchorage, it goes along with the Willow fiction.
Sarah Palin really doesn’t like Southeast Alaska generally and Juneau specifically. She’s hardly been here except when the Legislature was in session and the Governor’s House, it’s not a mansion here, has stood empty. It was easy for her to say she fired the chef, nobody ever eats there. It was easy for her to say she cut the budget, almost all the cuts were in Southeast where nobody much likes her anyway.
It was damned hard for me during the US General Election. I actually thought she was a pretty good move for McCain. If you’ll search the archives, you’ll find a post I did back when everyone was speculating that his nominee would be Pawlenty in which I said something along the lines of, “if he’s going to nominate a nobody, he might as well nominate a nobody from nowhere; at least she’s a woman.” That said, I know how she came to power here. I know exactly what really happened in her “outing” of the State Party Chair, and it, By God, ain’t what she says happened. I’m not calling her a liar; a liar knows the truth and says something else. I don’t doubt that Gov. Palin’s statements reflect her understanding of the circumstances. My point is that she didn’t understand the circumstances, something that happens a lot with her.
Sarah Palin got lucky, something that happens a lot to pretty women. When she did in Randy Ruedrich, she became every Democrat and the Anchorage Daily News’ favorite Republican. When Frank Murkowski committed hari kari by appointing Lisa and buying that damned jet, the Ds and the ADN made her the annointee because they thought it would be easy for someone with Tony Knowles’ resume to beat her. Well, the people of Alaska remember the stasis of the Knowles terms and they’re susceptible to a promise of “hope and change” too. Here it was “openess and transparency” but the idea is the same. So, Sarah Palin got to be a Governor and a desperate John McCain picked her for his VP. It’s a Helluva lot better to be lucky than good.
She might be the hope of the GOP. Hell, she might actually become President; she won’t be the first [email protected]#t artist to make it to the top. There’s a bunch of Sarah worshippers on this board. I can only say, take a good look and watch your back.