Alaska

The Child Marriage Update (New York Edition)

Mao (left), and Suou react to July (not pictured) in Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, episode 9, 'They Met One Day Unexpectedly ...'.

This is a real lede from Associated Press:

The New York Legislature has overturned a state law that allows 14-year-olds to legally wed.

The headline kind of makes the point: “New York child marriage ban heads to Cuomo’s desk”. The rarity of such progress is a reasonable point for reflection; to the one, there is not much left on this particular count, while, to the other, there are still Alaska and North Carolina to account for. Governor Cuomo is expected to sign the bill into law as soon as reasonably possible.

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Associated Press. “New York child marriage ban heads to Cuomo’s desk”. 8 June 2017.

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Surprisingly Unsurprising

Protesters on the Willamette River in Portland, Ore., waited as a Royal Dutch Shell icebreaker prepared to leave for Alaska in July. (Photo: Don Ryan/Associated Press)

You know, after all that―

Royal Dutch Shell said Monday that it would stop exploration off the coast of Alaska “for the foreseeable future.”

(Reed)

―something goes here about poetic perfection, or, if one is so inclined, how this latest news sounds pretty much just about right. Nor are those conditions mutually exclusive.

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Image note: Protesters on the Willamette River in Portland, Ore., waited as a Royal Dutch Shell icebreaker prepared to leave for Alaska in July. (Photo: Don Ryan/Associated Press)

Reed, Stanley. “Shell Abandons Disappointing Offshore Alaskan Well”. The New York Times. 28 September 2015.

Oklahoma Governance

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R), in May 2015. (image: KFOR)

There are days, you know, when it is really easy to pick on an idea. Take Oklahoma for instance. Last week we learned about the strangeness of Oklahoma virtue, and then a spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin (R) found himself blaming Texas for protests in Durant and Oklahoma City demonstrating support for the Confederacy as President Obama arrived.

Talk about a trifecta; this also happened:

Gov. Mary Fallin (R) and the GOP-led legislature announced they’re prepared to ignore the state Supreme Court, at least for now, while they consider new solutions.​

The Republican governor talked to reporters, saying roughly what you’d expect her to say: she’s “disappointed” with the court’s decision; she thinks they made the wrong call; etc. But as KFOR, the NBC affiliate in Oklahoma City, reported, Fallin added one related thought that wasn’t expected at all:​

Gov. Fallin said she believes the final decision on the monument’s fate should rest with the people.​

“You know, there are three branches of our government. You have the Supreme Court, the legislative branch and the people, the people and their ability to vote. So I’m hoping that we can address this issue in the legislative session and let the people of Oklahoma decide,” she said.​

The KFOR report added, “Despite what the governor said, the three branches of government include the legislative, executive and judicial branches” ....​

.... We can certainly hope that Fallin, a former multi-term member of Congress, knows what the three branches of government are. Indeed, in Oklahoma, she’s the head of one of them – the one she left out this week.​

(Benen)

This is actually one of the big differences. Look, Democrats might well be just as middling, mincing, and incompetent as they seem, but, to the one, to the one, it’s nothing comparable to this, and, to the other, ritual equivocation would only obscure important considerations.

(more…)

The Future, Revealed?

Jobs, jobs, jobs ... j'abortion!

We might for a moment pause to recall 2010. Republicans achieved a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, but the real story was in the state houses, where the GOP made astounding gains by hammering away at the economic instability their Congressional partners worked so hard to create.

And then they tacked away from jobs. As Rachel Maddow memorably put it, “Jobs, jobs jobs … j’abortion”. State-level Republicans passed record numbers of anti-abortion bills, knowing that most of them were unconstitutional. And it is certainly an old conservative scheme, to tilt windmills, lose, and then bawl that the sky is falling because the Constitution is Sauron and Democrats and liberals the armies of Mordor.

With many predicting a Republican blowout in the 2014 midterms, some are looking ahead to figure out just what that will means in terms of policy and governance. And some of those are Republicans.

Yet there is a week left; perhaps this isn’t the best time to be telegraphing the Hell they intend to call down upon the Earth.

Or, as Lauren French and Anna Palmer of Politico explain:

Conservatives in Congress are drawing up their wish list for a Republican Senate, including “pure” bills, like a full repeal of Obamacare, border security and approval of the Keystone XL pipeline — unlikely to win over many Democrats and sure to torment GOP leaders looking to prove they can govern.

Interviews with more than a dozen conservative lawmakers and senior aides found a consensus among the right wing of the Republican Party: If Republicans take the Senate, they want to push an agenda they believe was hamstrung by the Democratic-controlled chamber, even if their bills end up getting vetoed by President Barack Obama.

Their vision could create problems for congressional leaders who want to show they aren’t just the party of “hell no.” And while conservatives say they agree with that goal, their early priorities will test how well John Boehner and Mitch McConnell can keep the party united.

Two points: Swing voters can’t say they weren’t warned. And conservative voters complaining about gridlock should admit that’s what they’re after.

(more…)

America’s Rape State

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R)

A note at the outset: This is Alaska, after all. Not that such a point should provide any comfort. Rather, quite the opposite. Still, though, as appalling as the situation might be, it’s just another day on the Last Frontier.

The Alaska National Guard is facing down some grave allegations: A recruiter trying to give alcohol to high school girls, botched responses to sexual assault complaints, embezzlement, a former porn company owner keeping his job despite military investigators finding that he failed to respond to sexual assault, and whistleblowers terrified to speak out.

The alleged misconduct, detailed in an assessment by the National Guard Bureau’s Office of Complex Investigations and in investigations by local news outlets, is threatening the re-election bid of incumbent Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R). The governor, who is commander in chief of the Guard, fired three top officials from the military unit this week. His office has said that he took action each time he was made aware of misconduct, and that he was ultimately misled by his top general.

But Parnell’s critics—including whistleblowers and victims—claim that his office failed to do enough to respond to allegations of abuse over several years. Local news outlets are now suing the governor’s office to get access to internal emails that may show how much Parnell knew about the allegations, and what he did in response.

(Liebelson)

A question for Governor Parnell:

While it is easy enough to imagine that the brass might wish to downplay the number of sex crimes in the Alaska National Guard, what is your threshold insofar as we might understand the minimum number of sexual assaults before you find the behavior problematic?

What’s the number, Governor? Five? Ten? Is it greater than one?

And what are the criteria? Is groping “no problem”, while coerced oral sex is only “kinda problematic”? How about forced vaginal intercourse? Is that not so bad, from a gubernatorial point of view, as forced anal sex? At what point, Governor Parnell, do you decide this is actually a problem you need to do something about?

No, really.

The Last Frontier is also America’s Rape State.

And no, Governor, you should not be proud of your contribution to that title.

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Liebelson, Dana. “Alaska National Guard Sex Abuse Scandal Threatens GOP Governor’s Re-election”. The Huffington Post. 22 October 2014.

An Example of Alaskan Virtue

In the early nineties, a disgruntled group of anti-abortion activists in Oregon decided to shift gears, and the Oregon Citizens’ Alliance rose to influence trying to compel the state to exclude homosexuals from societal participation; the ballot measure was so broadly worded that a “gay panic defense” would succeed in any question of murdering a homosexual or suspected homosexual, because prosecutors would be forbidden from not condemning homosexuality as “abnormal, perverse, and wrong”. While some of us frequently joke that marriage equality owes much to such merry bands of stooges insofar as they moved the question of gay rights to the fore as no gay rights activist possibly could, it was a grave time that even saw homophobes resort to terrorism.

Rep. Don Young (R-AK)Well, we didn’t call it terrorism back then, did we? It was just firebombing faggots, a method viewed at the time as questionable for its potential to create sympathy toward homosexuals.

Which is telling. But the aspect we might consider today is a persistent one: Why is the idea of consent as relates to sexual intercourse so irrelevant to the conservative political outlook?

I’m sorry, is that a harsh question?

Deal with it. We’ve been hearing this sort of talk for decades.

The latest manifestation comes from Rep. Don Young (R-AK):

At a Wasilla High School assembly Tuesday morning, U.S. Rep. Don Young didn’t temper his notoriously abrasive personality for his young audience.

Numerous witnesses say Young, 81, acted in a disrespectful and sometimes offensive manner to some students, used profanity and started talking about bull sex when confronted with a question about same-sex marriage.

(Hollander)

Then again, this is Don Young. The octagenarian congressman has a penchant for bigoted gaffes.

Which, in turn, says something about the virtues and values along the Last Frontier.

But here is the functional problem: This is part of a long-running rhetorical bit whereby social conservatives aim for comedic style points. The problem here is that in winning the debate on style points, conservatives are (A) dehumanizing their opponents, and (B) erasing sexual consent.

(more…)

Alaska, Losing

Detail of the Seal of the State of Alaska

Perhaps the biggest mystery of the recent judicial avalanche in favor of marriage equality is the absence of Article IV in what are clearly Article IV cases. Consider Hamby v. Parnell, a case striking Alaska’s marriage ban.

Perhaps it is the lack of an Article IV claim, as opposed to Judge Heyburn’s decision in Kentucky that intentionally bypassed the Full Faith and Credit Clause of Article IV. Still, though, Judge Timothy M. Burgess, appointed to the District of Alaska by President George W. Bush, finds his way through to strike the ban according to Due Process and Equal Protection under Amendment XIV. Still, though, in a case in which four couples are demanding their marriages from other states be recognized in Alaska, it would seem Full Faith and Credit should be a glaring issue.

To take an example, my father has been married twice, once each to different women. In his first marriage, the couple lived in three different states and a foreign country over the years. They never had to remarry in any of those jurisdictions; the Washington state marriage was sufficient, an act and record of one state recognized in another. In his second marriage, the couple has lived in two states and spent an extended period in Mexico. They did not have to remarry in any other jurisdiction; their Oregon marriage sufficed for other states and, indeed, other countries. This, ultimately, is what is at stake. Perhaps Article IV won’t come into it until a state refuses another state’s marital record in order to force the couple to repeat the ceremony and pay out for licensing in the new state.

The bottom line, however, is that another state’s marriage ban has collapsed under constitutional weight. This much, at least, is hardly mysterious.

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Burgess, Timothy S. “Order”. Hamby v. Parnell. United States District Court for the District of Alaska. 12 October 2014.

Follow-up … Clean-up … Something-up

The Rachel Maddow Show, 6 October 2014

Rachel Maddow’s nearly giddy segment on msnbc last night noted that when the full effect of yesterday’s Supreme Court rejection of appeals against marriage equality reaches the states, the roster will equal thirty states. And she looked forward to decisions expected from the Sixth and Ninth.

Today, the hammer dropped in the Ninth; Dale Carpenter quips:

I haven’t read the Ninth Circuit opinion yet. I have to teach now, so it would be nice if the courts would stop issuing gay-marriage decisions for an hour or so.

The estimable Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog explains what happened in the Ninth:

The Ninth Circuit’s ruling was made up of three parts.

First, all three judges on the panel joined in an opinion by Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt finding that the Idaho and Nevada bans violate the constitutional guarantee of same-sex couples to be treated the same legally as opposite-sex couples. Second, Judge Reinhardt issued a separate opinion, for himself only, saying he would also strike down those bans under the Constitution’s Due Process Clause, arguing that the right to marry is a fundamental guarantee and that gays and lesbians have a right to share in that right. Third, Circuit Judge Marsha S. Berzon, in a separate opinion only for herself, said she would have also struck down the bans on the premise that they discriminate on the basis of gender.

The third member, Circuit Judge Ronald M. Gould, joined only the main opinion on the equal protection principle.

This ruling was perhaps the least surprising among four federal courts of appeals decisions striking down state prohibitions on same-sex couples marrying, and already-married couples gaining official state recognition of those unions, performed elsewhere.

(more…)

Another Quote: Cold Soul Edition (Rape Frontier Mix)

Detail of the Seal of the State of Alaska

“In its short history as a state, Alaska has earned an unnerving epithet: It is the rape capital of the U.S.”

Sara Bernard

Really, I … I … I just can’t do this one, today. I’m sorry.

In its short history as a state, Alaska has earned an unnerving epithet: It is the rape capital of the U.S. At nearly 80 rapes per 100,000, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, Alaska’s rape rate is almost three times the national average; for child sexual assault, it’s nearly six times. And, according to the 2010 Alaska Victimization Survey, the most comprehensive data to date, 59 percent of Alaskan women have been victims of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, or both.

But those numbers, say researchers, just skim the surface. Since sex crimes are generally underreported, and may be particularly underreported in Alaska for cultural reasons. “Those numbers are conservative,” says Ann Rausch, a program coordinator at Alaska’s Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. “They’re still staggering.”

The causes of the violence are complex and entrenched. Government officials, law enforcement personnel, and victim advocates note the state’s surfeit of risk factors, from an abundance of male-dominated industries, like oil drilling and the military, to the state’s vast geography, with many communities that have no roads and little law enforcement. “There are so many factors that tip the scale for Alaska,” says Linda Chamberlain, executive director of the Alaska Family Violence Prevention Project. Not the least among them: the lack strong law enforcement presence, or support services of any kind, in remote towns like Tanana. “It’s easier for perpetrators to isolate their victims and not get caught. And for people not to get help.”

(Bernard)

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Bernard, Sara. “Rape Culture in the Alaskan Wilderness”. The Atlantic. 11 September 2014.