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Michael Carey

House Speaker Mike Chenault and Judiciary Chairman Jay Ramras have introduced a capital punishment bill. The bill was heard three times before Ramras' committee. I attended the first two hearings and saw part of the third on "Gavel to Gavel."

Speaker Chenault was straightforward enough in explaining why he wants his bill: Punish the worst offenders and guarantee they never kill again. But the first hearing was amateurish because the committee -- and more specifically the chairman -- was so badly prepared to grapple with the big questions...

Michael Carey

The photograph on the right was taken in Fairbanks April 12, 1905. I am sure: The photographer noted the date in the canvas Kodak album in which he kept the negative.

The note also said "Kane cabin. Kane, Shiksa, Hanna, EL." Shiksa, for those unfamiliar with Yiddish slang, is a non-Jewish woman.

The four women probably were prostitutes. Fourth Avenue was home to "the line," the red-light district where prostitutes lived and conducted business.

The photographer repeatedly photographed prostitutes, barmen, and others involved in Fairbanks sporting life in 1905-1906. His album contains numerous photographs of night people.

The photographs have frustrated me for years. I keep asking them a question they refuse to answer: Who was the photographer?...

Michael Carey

It was late in the afternoon when I walked into the Morgan Library and Museum in midtown Manhattan. I wouldn't have time for the exhibits at the palace financier J.P. Morgan built on Madison Avenue, but at least, I could get a brochure, find out when the doors opened the following morning, check the admission fee.

A staffer at the information desk answered my questions cheerfully, then she asked: "You're not from around here, are you?"

No, I replied.

"Where are you from?"

"Anchorage, Alaska."

The middle-aged woman's face immediately turned scarlet and she screamed "SARAH PALIN --AAAAAHHHHH!"...

Michael Carey

Ed Dankworth, who died Dec. 6 at 80, made news in Alaska for half a century as a police officer, legislator, lobbyist and entrepreneur. In every incarnation, he rose to heights he wouldn't have imagined when he was just a Texas boy who dreamt of starring in cowboy movies: commander of the Alaska State Toopers, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, the state's most influential lobbyist, businessman successful in Alaska tourism.

Ed was a polarizing figure, especially in the Legislature and as a lobbyist. He was the brains of Senate Finance early in the '80s and later in the decade was a lobbyist for Veco's Bill Allen, who is now awaiting sentencing for corrupting lawmakers...

Michael Carey

"What is it with you people up there?" a former professor of mine called to ask.

She was disgusted by the corruption trials, the jailed legislators, the crooked business leaders, Gov. Sarah Palin's ignorance of public affairs -- but above all, the possibility Alaskans would re-elect Sen. Ted Stevens.

"I mean," she said dismissively "he has been convicted of seven felonies."

Apparently my retired professor is unaware Ted Stevens insists he's innocent, and after his trial he became the Senate lexicographer, redefining the common meaning not only of "convicted" but "friend," "own," "loan" and "gift."

Stevens contends he was naive, too trusting of a buddy, Veco's Bill Allen, who proved a crook...

Michael Carey

Don Young's political career continues. The 35-year veteran of the House of Representatives appeared headed for certain defeat, but it's now clear Democrat Ethan Berkowitz will not catch him.

Don has been part of Alaska public life for so long many Alaskans have forgotten -- or never knew -- the path he followed to Congress. Here's the story...

Michael Carey

I think this is Don Young's last campaign. And I think it's time for me to confess that, after 35 years as our congressman, his rough charm is finally beginning to work on me. I like being around Don Young these days.

My old Fairbanks friend Paul Blackwell would be ashamed of me. Paul, a diehard Democrat, made getting rid of Congressman Don Young his top priority. I watched him tell pollsters exactly that. A Texan from the Lubbock area, Paul had "Remember the Alamo" tattooed on his left arm. I thought "Forget Don Young" should go on his right...

Michael Carey

Alaskans are celebrating the 50th anniversary of statehood. How strange the moment in which we honor our founders and reflect on the past half-century.

Sen. Ted Stevens is on trial in Washington, D.C.; Don Young, our lone Congressman, is under federal investigation; state legislators and local businessmen have been indicted for political corruption, several have pled guilty, others have been convicted by juries; Gov. Sarah Palin is the Republican candidate for vice president; and every Alaskan is receiving a $3,269 check from the state just for being an Alaskan.

"We're In," the huge headline with which the Anchorage Times announced the arrival of statehood in the summer of '58, now means we're indicted, we're in jail, we're in the limelight or we're in the money...

Michael Carey

Sarah Palin may be making new friends as she campaigns the nation, but at home, she's making new enemies. She better get elected vice president. If she returns to Alaska as governor, the reception will be frosty -- and not because winter has arrived.

In the last month, Palin has become something inconceivable during her first two years as the state's chief executive: A polarizing figure rapidly emptying the storehouse of good will she accumulated...

Michael Carey

Throughout her political career, Sarah Palin has benefited from establishing and exploiting contrasts. The contrast between Palin the women-of-integrity and dishonest Republican bosses. The contrast between the fresh new Palin and old clumsy incumbent governor, Frank Murkowski. The contrast between women-of-the-people Palin and screw-the-people oil companies. Even the contrast between young, vital Sarah Palin and aging, stiff John McCain - which perversely enough has helped McCain in the polls.

Now the contrast is between Sarah Palin as she really is - the Mat-Su Valley woman with limited exposure to the world despite less than two years as governor - and the Palin look-alike mouthing McCain phrases, slogans and assertions...

Michael Carey