Steve Haycox

There were commemorations in Washington, D.C., last month of one of the finer moments in American history: the response to the Saturday Night Massacre. What was commemorated was the courage to take a stand on principle by major figures in the Justice Department.

During Senate hearings in 1973 investigating the break-in of Democratic Party offices in the Watergate office complex in D.C., a White House aide revealed that President Nixon had a comprehensive taping system in his office. An issue in the investigation was whether Nixon had personal knowledge of the break-in, and any attempt to cover up White House involvement. When Nixon's attorney general, Richard Kleindienst, resigned under a cloud in the summer of 1973, Nixon appointed Elliot Richardson...

Steve Haycox

The shutdown of the federal government brought about because a Republican rump of the U.S. House refused to vote for an appropriations bill to fund government operations, and capitulated only when a default on government debt loomed, has led many to despair of the honorability of our elected officials. For an organized party in a legislature to allow its internal warfare to get into the public arena so vividly is anathema to the party leadership. In this instance, it led to House Speaker John Boehner being labeled by some as the weakest speaker in memory...

Steve Haycox

The shutdown of the federal government this week presents an opportunity for attention to Alaska's historic dependence on the feds. There are two articles of faith in Alaska's popular culture that contradict that dependence, of course. The first is that the people who built Alaska did so on their own, not only without help but in spite of misunderstanding and obstruction by the federal government. The second, corollary to the first, is that Alaskans would have built a better, freer society if the federal government had simply left Alaska alone, left it to the good people who had the courage, adventuresome spirit and risk-taking capacity to migrate here. Neither of these popular propositions is true; neither is consistent with Alaska's real history...

Steve Haycox

There will be a fierce campaign waged over the next 11 months over the ballot initiative to undo the Legislature's rollback of ACES, the Palin-era revision of Alaska's oil tax structure. Oil industry apologists and the Parnell administration will argue that people who signed the initiative petitions and those who support ACES (Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share of oil profitability) are naïve, and fail to understand that with production from current fields on the North Slope declining precipitously, Alaska must do all it can to provide tax incentives for new, perhaps even continued production....

Steve Haycox

This past Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of President John Kennedy's speech in Berlin dramatically declaring U.S. support for the people of West Berlin and West Germany, 22 months after the communist government in East Berlin constructed the Berlin Wall to keep East Berliners and East Germans from migrating to the West. This is the speech in which Kennedy spoke the memorable phrase, "Ich bin ein Berliner," meaning, I count myself as one with the people of Berlin, figuratively a Berliner. The phrase was meant to convey America's support for West Berlin in the face of increasing pressure on the isolated city by the Soviet Russian government and its client state, East Germany...

Steve Haycox

Scattered across the American West are tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of mining claims on federal and state lands. They come in a variety of categories: unpatented, patented, active, abandoned, fraudulent. They all are authorized by the Hardrock Mining Law of 1872 and its various permutations down through the years...

Steve Haycox

An audience of local union members in Anchorage a few days ago was urged to remember the 1886 Haymarket riot in Chicago. It was the origin of the annual May Day celebration of working men and women across the globe.

Many Americans who came of age in the Cold War years associate May Day with the Soviet Union and long parades of missile launchers, tanks and other armament, all bristling with menace. But May Day did not come into existence to celebrate the solidarity of socialism; rather, it was to celebrate the solidarity of laborers. The cause was something now considered harmless and prosaic: the eight-hour workday...

Steve Haycox

Monday is Seward's Day, commemorating the signing of the proposed Alaska purchase treaty by American Secretary of State William Seward and Russian diplomatic minister Edouard de Stoeckl. Coinciding as it does this year with Easter, the commemoration likely will get lost in public consciousness, despite David Strathairn's effective portrayal of Seward in the blockbuster film "Lincoln." That's unfortunate. Seward is not significant just for Alaska; he was one of the most important political figures in 19th century America...

Steve Haycox

The attempt of Mayor Dan Sullivan and Assembly Chair Ernie Hall to weaken and, we can assume, eventually break the public sector unions serving Anchorage citizens is tragic but wholly predictable in a city that consistently votes a conservative majority to its governing council. The assault on public sector unions in Michigan and Wisconsin has emboldened state and municipal governments across the land to appeal to voters by reducing budgets on the backs of unionized workers. Given who governs the city at the moment, union-bashing should be no surprise; it's popular, and certain to garner votes in the upcoming municipal election and later in races for governor and U.S. Senate...

Steve Haycox

Today, Feb. 22, is George Washington's birthday. As important as his leadership of continental troops in the Revolutionary War and service as our first president was Washington's example of integrity. Rather than capitalize on his war victory, the commander in chief of the army stepped down at the end of the war and went back to his farm. King George III, when he heard of it, said it made Washington the greatest man in history. Then, after two terms as president, he stepped down again when he could easily have been made president for life. If a democratic republic were to succeed, he believed, its rulers would have to follow the rules, an example for Alaska today...

Steve Haycox

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