Monday, June 29, 2009

Alaska State Rep. Jay Ramras Stages Full-Scale Chimpout On The Eddie Burke Show, Accuses Conservatives4Palin Of "Anti-Semitism"

Alaska State Rep. Jay Ramras (R-Fairbanks) of House District 10 was a bit put out over some allegations posted about him on the Conservatives4Palin website. The gist of the matter is that Rep. Ramras was buying stock in BP around the same time that votes related to the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) were coming up, and C4P decided to question his timing. So he was ready to defend his honor when on June 29th, 2009, he called in to the Eddie Burke show, which airs on KBYR Monday thru Friday from 2-5 P.M. (unfortunately completely overlapping the Dan Fagan program on KFQD).

Except he went far beyond merely "defending his honor". When C4P's R.A. Mansour stated her case, Ramras indulged in a full-scale chimpout, denouncing C4P as "creepy, sleazy, shadowy, mysteriously-funded, and a nutcase group". Ramras also repeatedly emphasized the fact that C4P originates out of state, although I've never heard Ramras denounce the out-of-state people who flood the Anchorage Daily News boards with their Palin-bashing slander. Ramras even referred to Burke as a "pimp for Palin" (if I was Todd Palin, I'd be making sure that Ramras got some dental work after that crack). Here's a YouTube video of the broadcast. Note that the full segment is over 18 minutes; at the end of the first 10 minutes, the video flips itself over to the remaining 8+ minutes:

About 3:50 or so after the video flips over into the remaining 8+ minutes is when Rep. Ramras accuses C4P of anti-Semitism. He was upset over some remark C4P made about "bagels", claiming that their use of the term "bagel" is an anti-Semitic slur. Although Ramras in Jewish, this is the first time I've known him to play the "anti-Semitic" card. Unlike much of the lower 48, where Jewish supremacism is a problem and where Jews who are losing arguments will frequently play the "anti-Semitic" card to detract from the issues at hand, this has not been a problem up here. Our Jewish lawmakers have generally been Americans first, Alaskans second, and Jews third. It is disappointing that Jay Ramras chose to drop into the gutter.

The bagel reference is C4P's motto "Buy your own damn bagels!", which dates back to an Associated Press article from January 30, 2009, in which another Jewish Alaskan lawmaker, Rep. David Guttenberg (D-Fairbanks) lamented, "There were days when she walked around the building with (her daughter) Piper handing out bagels. I think those days are gone," he added with a touch of wistfulness. So the phrase "Buy your own damn bagels!" has become their shorthand for "Man up! Grow up! Stop whining..."

Update: This story has now been picked up by KTUU Channel 2. Since the story broke, Rep. Ramras has bought $5,000 of TransCanada stock to stifle any further accusations of conflict of interest in regards to AGIA. Governor Palin also states that she has no connection with Conservatives4Palin, and that she neither endorses it nor opposes it.

Ramras' prior opposition to AGIA was principled. Too much was bet on TransCanada, which owned none of the leases and would have to go through the Big Three producers to get the gas. Furthermore, TransCanada may have been undercapitalized from the start. But AGIA was recently rescued from life support when Exxon decided to become TransCanada's partner, providing the missing capitalization and the supply source necessary for AGIA to become reality.

Apparently this is not the first time Ramras has let his mouth overload his ass; AsTheFireweedTurns documents another controversy regarding Ramras back in May. On the other hand, it doesn't appear that Ramras is necessarily a Palinphobe; he took criticism from a lesbian blogger for supporting the nomination of Wayne Anthony Ross as Attorney General (Ramras ultimately voted for his confirmation).

The problem is that when you wear the title "Representative" or "Senator" or "Governor" in front of your name, your words take on a different character. Even if you're not officially "on the clock", you're never really off the clock as long as you hold office. Ramras' chimpout could easily exacerbate negative biases and stereotypes about Alaska. I wouldn't urge people to boycott his Pike's Waterfront Lodge in Fairbanks, which has a good reputation. But I would urge Ramras to show some class and apologize to C4P for his intemperate behavior.

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