An Act of Terrorism in the Flathead is a political gift for Montana Democrats because it dramatically highlights the threat women face from right-wing extremists. The timing could not have been more perfect.
This weekend, Montana Democrats drank and dropped cash at the Mansfield/Metcalf dinner. The keynote speaker was Cecile Richards, the head of Planned Parenthood. Here is some of what she had to say:
“My message is really how important the elections are going to be in November particularly for women, and how important women voters will be,” Richards told reporters before the dinner.
“Two years ago, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund was really involved in helping re-elect Sen. Jon Tester,” she said. “We know how important he has been to women’s health, what a great leader he’s been in the U.S. Senate. We need some other folks, some other help, and so we’re really excited to be here to talk about women’s health and women’s issues and the role that they’re going to play in this election.“
And what does Richards think of Walsh so far?
“It’s been wonderful to see Sen. Walsh already in action in Washington, D.C.,” she said. “He’s a great, great senator for the state of Montana, and we’ll work very hard to try to re-elect him in November.“
She said Planned Parenthood Action Fund worked hard for Tester and left no doubt that it would for Walsh too.
“What we found (in 2012) is that women were very receptive to hearing from Planned Parenthood as a health-care provider,” she said. “At election time, they trust us to tell them who’s on their side.“
Transforming trust into political currency is always a tricky thing, requiring selective concern and strategic omission.
Last June, a Montana Public Radio piece described why Women and families need comprehensive immigration reform. The organization Montana Women Vote stated what is happening to families across the nation, and it’s heartbreaking:
Between July 2010 and September 2012, over 105,000 parents of children who were US citizens, were deported, with almost 100,000 more excluded or left voluntarily. Parents of kids who are citizens, who have no option but to uproot their children from their community and leave the only life their kids have ever known. In fact, the long-term emotional and psychological effects of this kind of turmoil on children is being studied to understand some of the consequences of our current immigration policies.
And if the entire family in not uprooted, many families with mixed immigration status find that one parent may be deported with the other parent staying in their community, trying to raise their kids. In 2008, there were 4 million kids living in mixed status homes. Our immigration system essentially creates single parent households despite two parents wanting desperately to stay together, work hard, and build a stronger future for their kids.
John Walsh needs to describe his position on immigration reform. We already know what Jon Tester thinks, considering he was 1 of 5 senators who voted to kill the Dream Act 4 years ago (Max Baucus also crossed party lines to kill this meager legislative improvement to a broken system destroying families). For a scathing refutation, Helena immigration attorney Shahid Haque-Hausrath unloaded on Tester’s position in this 4&20 guest post.
Last night certainly wasn’t the venue for talking about tough issues, as MT Cowgirl points out:
Tonight’s guest speaker is Cecile Richards, who is the head of Planned Parenthood of America. This is a good choice as it shows the that Democrats are becoming more comfortable in recognizing how important their stance on medical privacy really is. And her appearance could not be more timely, coming on the heels of a horrible incident of vandalism of an abortion clinic in Montana.
Others on the list include John Walsh, our new senator, as well as Governor Steve Bullock, Senator Jon Tester, and Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen, Superintendent Denise Juneau and Secretary of State Linda McCulloch. And don’t forget the popular Ed Smith, the clerk of the Supreme Court, as well as state House and Senate Leaders Jon Sesso and Chuck Hunter. Bring your money but don’t drink too much, especially if you are giving a speech. Hopefully, we can at least be assured there will be no poetry.
Yes, hopefully no drunken poetry. Delivering stale political rhetoric and taking money is the point of dinners like this.
And remember, money = political viability.
The political season is shifting with the approach of spring, from Twitter spats to candidates like Walsh actually having to run a campaign now, especially considering Bohlinger gave a head-fake and decided to stay in the race. More from Cowgirl:
The Bohlinger deal is interesting since he had given indications, around the time Walsh was appointed Senator, that he would bow out. But now he’s in it for certain. The 77-year-old Republican turned Democrat is a former Lt. Governor, former clothing merchant from Billings and former Marine boxer, and is well known among voters and has a freewheeling style and says what’s on his mind, contrasting to the more measured Walsh. Bohlinger has not raised much money and Walsh has raised a good clip (half a million or more), but that stuff matters only when the money is spent. We shall see how and when (or if) the Walsh campaign chooses to spend some of its war chest in the primary against Bohlinger. Bohlinger, meanwhile, is trying to fashion himself as a progressive, outsider alternative to Walsh. He says Walsh was anointed by Harry Reid and others in Washington.
Oh boy, here we go.
Ronald Reagan planted a bomb and it’s still blowing up hospitals. That bomb’s name is EMTALA:
The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) is an act of the United States Congress, passed in 1986 as part of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). It requires hospitals to provide emergency health care treatment to anyone needing it regardless of citizenship, legal status, or ability to pay. There are no reimbursement provisions. Participating hospitals may not transfer or discharge patients needing emergency treatment except with the informed consent or stabilization of the patient or when their condition requires transfer to a hospital better equipped to administer the treatment.
The recent closure of another Georgia hospital has combined modern day Republican cruelty of denying Federal medicaid dollars with a Reagan-era BIG GOVERNMENT mandate to just say yes to the uninsured.
The policy is one thing, the reality in the ER is something else.
Here in Missoula, I don’t think it’s a secret St. Pat’s ER is the triage center for the chronically homeless, especially during the winter. The combination of EMTALA and medicaid no-thankya from foot-shooting ideologues in Montana’s legislature will continue negatively impacting one of Missoula’s largest employers.
I have seen and participated in the burnout of useless triage. I have seen how difficult it can be to convince an ER doctor that the chronic drunk he’s seen a hundred times really might do it this time. Of course taking the drunk’s threat of self-harm seriously means waiting the time it takes to sober him/her up so that a mental health professional can properly assess risk. Today I learned if your BAC is around .3 that means about 8 hours in an ER bed.
Forget the whole bleeding-heart liberal appeal to improving services. Broken systems are incredibly expensive. It would be fiscally conservative to find a cheaper fix to what we’re doing now, right?
Propaganda is a word that, when used, seems to taint the user. Same thing with psyop. Luckily I ain’t afraid of the taint (ok, that sounds horrible).
A great example of propaganda happened last month when it was reported that a 4-year old was found ALONE in a Syrian desert. Well, that was proven to be simply untrue. The pictures at the second link says it all.
Conspiracy theory is obviously another term that taints, which is why it’s so useful when bugged conversations get leaked regarding speculation that snipers in Ukraine were from the opposition and killed people on both sides of the conflict. The title of this Guardian piece is Ukraine crisis: bugged call reveals conspiracy theory about Kiev snipers:
A leaked phone call between the EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet has revealed that the two discussed a conspiracy theory that blamed the killing of civilian protesters in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, on the opposition rather than the ousted government.
The Estonian foreign ministry confirmed the leaked conversation was accurate. It said: “Foreign minister Paet was giving an overview of what he had heard in Kiev and expressed concern over the situation on the ground. We reject the claim that Paet was giving an assessment of the opposition’s involvement in the violence.” Ashton’s office said it did not comment on leaks.
During the conversation, Paet quoted a woman named Olga – who the Russian media identified her as Olga Bogomolets, a doctor – blaming snipers from the opposition shooting the protesters.
“What was quite disturbing, this same Olga told that, well, all the evidence shows that people who were killed by snipers from both sides, among policemen and people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides,” Paet said.
“So she also showed me some photos, she said that as medical doctor, she can say it is the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, that they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened.”
“So there is a stronger and stronger understanding that behind snipers it was not Yanukovych, it was somebody from the new coalition,” Paet says.
Oh, those crazy conspiracy theorists!
Now, for an example of a psyop, I offer this piece from 2012 describing The Secret History of Pussy Riot. It’s an interesting take that leads me to wonder about the authenticity of the infamous Cossack whipping incident jumped on by western media to highlight Russian brutality during the Sochi Olympics.
There is a line in the movie The Usual Suspects where Kevin Spacey’s character says “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.“
I think the greatest trick the US ever pulled was convincing Americans it doesn’t use propaganda on its own citizens.
John Walsh must have learned from Jon Tester that it’s much more politically advantageous to do things like kill the dreams of immigrant children than risk losing a few ignorant voters they probably weren’t going to get anyway. That’s how I read the disappointing actions John Walsh took when he joined 6 of his fellow Democrats in killing the nomination of Debo P. Adegbile to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. From the link:
Seven Democrats joined with Republicans in blocking a final vote on the nomination, the largest number of Democrats to vote against an Obama nominee, according to Senate aides. Adegbile’s ties to the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, an internationally known prisoner convicted of the 1981 murder of Officer Daniel Faulkner, had become the focus of a conservative crusade that boiled over in recent weeks.
A senior aide to one of the senators who voted against the nominee said several senators’ offices were “very angry” at the White House for moving ahead with the nomination even though it could leave Democrats who are facing tough reelection races vulnerable to attack ads.
“It’s a vote you didn’t have to take. It’s a 30-second ad that writes itself,” said the aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak frankly.
On Monday, Missoula’s City Council took a hard vote that I’m sure no one was looking forward to taking. Several people on council described the difficulty they had making their decision, including Adam Hertz. The vote on whether or not to include “sitting” in the updated ordinances was very close. If Hertz had voted for the amendment to include sitting, it would have been tied 6-6, and the mayor would have voted yea. But he didn’t, and an almost guaranteed lawsuit the city would fight and probably loose was (hopefully) avoided.
This whole ordinance fiasco led me to a realization that I was wrong 3 years ago when I criticized the Indy’s endorsement of Adam Hertz in this post. Here is the part from the Indy piece I quoted (October, 2011):
The way we’re reading the wind, the conservative bloc should expect to lose two seats. Meanwhile, a Copple victory would give progressives unprecedented control of city government. For some, that’s an exciting prospect. But perhaps they should be concerned. The last time the left had the Missoula Council locked down, back in the mid-’90s under the banner of the New Party, they handled it so badly that within a few short years the group’s label had become political poison and it disbanded.
The ordinance issue was handled very badly, and if it wasn’t for the vote of a young conservative, it would have been even worse. Hopefully Missoula doesn’t still get sued because the city is already singing the union scape-goating blues.
Going back to John Walsh, his campaign is hoping you don’t pay too much attention to his cowardly political pandering by quickly reloading the 24 hour news cycle with this: Senator Walsh introduced Bill to restrict NSA and FBI snooping:
Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont., introduced his first bill Thursday, to restrict the ability of federal security agencies to secretly collect phone records and other personal data on U.S. citizens.
Walsh’s bill, titled the Civil Liberties Defense Act, also would require the National Security Agency to purge records of already collected data that don’t comply with standards established by the act.
“As I’ve been traveling around the state … this is an issue that I’m hearing about from Montanans, about the government trampling on our civil liberties,” he said in an interview. “I said that when I came here, I wanted to identify problems, find a fix for the problem and solve that problem.”
John Walsh want see problem. Then John Walsh want find fix for problem. Then John Walsh solve problem.
Go get ‘em Tiger!
If John Walsh is concerned about civil liberties, all he has to do is look at Missoula, where sitting on a public sidewalk downtown nearly became a criminal act.
I read something earlier today (h/t @Schwad4HD14 ) that I’m having a hard time believing, because it’s just too perfect to be true. It’s a story about what happens when an ordinance intended for “those” people is equally enforced:
FORT WALTON BEACH —A local family says their afternoon at a local park was ruined after a homeless person complained to police that they were lying down.
Under the city code, visitors to parks cannot “sleep or protractedly lounge” on seats, benches or other areas.
Michelle McCormick said she and her husband were at Fort Walton Landing Saturday with two young children. She said her husband was wrestling with them when a police officer approached.
“She walked up to us and said, ‘Sir, I’m going to have to tell you to get up. There’s an ordinance against lying down in the park,’ ” McCormick said.
“My husband was just incredulous.”
Police Sgt. Bill Royal said the officer was responding to a complaint from a park visitor.
“We received a phone call, and it was a homeless person,” he said. “He was complaining about individuals lying on blankets near the gazebo.”
The call log indicates the officer made the family aware of the city ordinance that prohibits lying down in the park.
McCormick said the officer was “pleasant enough” but firm about what the ordinance allows.
“My husband sat up and by this time, he was fuming and we packed up to go,” she said. “… (The day) was so spoiled at that point, we didn’t want to stay.”
Police officials said the ordinance is intended to keep people from sleeping in the park and interfering with the use of local parks.
“There’s a safety factor,” Royal said. “You may trip someone.”
City Manager Michael Beedie said he wasn’t sure when the ordinance was enacted but that it was designed to keep vagrants and others from sleeping in the park.
Capt. Tom Matz said the police department cannot discriminate against vagrants and must treat all park visitors equally.
McCormick said the city should not use the ordinance to keep parents from relaxing with their children in a park on a sunny day.
“It’s taking a really big brush to a small problem,” she said. “It’s like they didn’t think about the ramifications.”
A cautionary tale, indeed.
In a 7-5 vote, Caitlin Copple’s effort to reinsert the downtown ban on gateway conduct commonly referred to as “sitting” failed:
On Monday night, the Missoula City Council adopted updates to its public peace, morals and welfare regulations. While they prohibit sitting within 10 feet of a business entrance downtown, a bid by Councilwoman Caitlin Copple to ban sitting anywhere on downtown sidewalks from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. was rejected. In a 7-5 vote, councilors Copple, Jon Wilkins, Mike O’Herron, Annelise Hedahl and Ed Childers supported the amendment.
Businesses got nearly everything they wanted out of these ordinances. Lying/Sleeping is still prohibited downtown between 6am-11pm, the distance a person can sit from an entryway increased from 6 feet to 10 feet, and the trifecta of sitting/sleeping/lying on footbridges passed.
Of course getting nearly everything they asked for still doesn’t seem to be enough for downtown businesses, as evidenced by today’s article Downtown businesses worry new laws won’t deter customer harassment.
In that article, Brent Campbell laments about a lack of retail investment in what I consider a case of full-blown Bozeman envy:
But the challenge to protect downtown commerce remains, as does the desire to grow retail in the city center, said Campbell, with the Downtown Association. In his capacity as president of WGM Group, Campbell often travels to Bozeman. He said its downtown has a busy hardware store and strong grocery store on its main drag, along with other local franchises, yet Missoula has “significantly” more employees downtown.
“We have a bigger market. We have a bigger population. Why aren’t those things being invested in in our downtown retail?” Campbell said. “We have lots of investment in nightlife and in banking and law firms. But why aren’t people investing in retail?”
Bozeman and Helena both have Macy’s department stores, and Macy’s closed in downtown Missoula. The Missoula Mercantile at Higgins Avenue and Front Street has been vacant since 2010.
“The rumor is that Macy’s is going to reopen on Reserve Street. So what does it take for us to be able to attract meaningful retail in our downtown?” He said the question is important, and the Mayor’s Downtown Advisory Commission has been working on the matter for a year.
“I think the downtown business community has spoken about what the issue is, and I’m not sure City Council is listening,” Campbell said.
Moving forward, the Missoula Downtown Association will focus on a two-step solution, he said: First, a drop-in center for people who are inebriated, and second, wet housing.
“We want to continue to improve the situation in downtown Missoula,” Campbell said.
It’s good that the MDA wants to move forward, considering they used veiled threats of “compassion fatigue” regarding supporting the 10 year plan to end homelessness. Of course, we heard over and over again that this was about behavior and not homelessness, a claim somewhat undermined by the two-step solution now being mentioned.
In lamenting about the lack of retail downtown to balance the bankers, lawyers and “nightlife” that primarily fuels the economic activity, Campbell answered his own question: Reserve Street. Big box retail offers lower prices and they don’t rip you off with faulty parking meters.
I would say lower prices is the main incentive that draws shoppers to Reserve Street, because Missoula doesn’t have a lot of good paying jobs putting discretionary money into the pockets of Missoulians. Add to that factors like St. Pats, Missoula’s second largest employer, shedding jobs because of the economic climate exacerbated by our state legislature denying medicaid expansion, and you can begin to see there are other reasons impacting businesses downtown.
Speaking of employers, check out this list of Missoula’s top employers from 2009:
1. University of Montana, 3,651
2. St. Patrick Hospital, 1,600
3. Missoula County Public Schools, 1,424
4. Community Medical Center, 1,200
5. DirecTV Customer Service, 1,000
6. U.S. Forest Service, 800
7. Missoula County, 775
8. Wal-Mart, 524
9. City of Missoula, 514
10. Smurfit-Stone Container Corp., 432
11. Montana Rail Link, 254
12. Western Montana Clinic, 252
Going down the list, the University of Montana has shrinking enrollment and budget problems, our two hospitals are dropping jobs left and right, the US Forest Service recently moved out of downtown, our schools have to make sure they can keep raising the pay of their administrators, Walmart pays its employees shit by subsidizing their bottom-line with federal programs, like food stamps, and Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. is gone.
So when Campbell says he wants to “continue to improve the situation in downtown Missoula” I would suggest maybe thinking beyond the boundaries of the BID.
A few days ago Pete Talbot wrote about the front page Sunday Missoulian article examining the perception that Missoula needs to reinvent its economic identity. Pete mostly goes after the Montana Policy Institute for being a right-wing think tank, which I agree is troubling. He concludes his post with this:
Most folks aren’t getting rich in Missoula, but we’ve been buffered from the radical boom-and-bust cycle better than many Montana cities precisely because of our diverse economy. Please keep that in mind and build on it (also, support for a big hike in the minimum wage would be in everyone’s best interest, something you can be sure the Montana Policy Institute is against).
So let’s not pander to the institute’s short-sighted, free-market, non-sustainable model. We have more going for us than that, and the Missoulian, for credibility, shouldn’t be quoting the Montana Policy Institute anymore.
Pete’s right, most folks aren’t getting rich in Missoula. They get rich elsewhere, then move here because the glossy magazines make it look like a high-cultured utopian college town.
Missoula’s past decade of gentrified growth is not a trend intended to help the working class or poor. It’s a type of development intended to upgrade and exclude—great for real estate agents and developers; not so great for someone working at Walmart (or a barista working at Liquid Planet, for that matter).
While many in Missoula may bristle at a comparison to San Francisco, a recent article about how San Francisco is losing its soul to tech-fueled gentrification is a great read. Here is how the piece opens:
Poet and painter Lawrence Ferlinghetti came to San Francisco in 1951 because he heard it was a great place to be a bohemian. He settled in the Italian working-class neighbourhood of North Beach with its cheap rents and European ambience. And before long he put the city on the world’s counter-cultural map by publishing the work of Beat poets such as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. But despite his status as world and local literary legend, the 94-year-old co-owner of the renowned City Lights bookshop and publishing house doesn’t feel so at home in the City by the Bay anymore.
He complains of a “soulless group of people”, a “new breed” of men and women too busy with iPhones to “be here” in the moment, and shiny new Mercedes-Benzs on his street. The major art galley in central San Francisco that has shown Ferlinghetti’s work for two decades is closing because it can’t afford the new rent. It, along with several other galleries, will make way for a cloud computing startup called MuleSoft said to have offered to triple the rent. “It is totally shocking to see Silicon Valley take over the city,” says Ferlinghetti, who still rents in North Beach. “San Francisco is radically changing and we don’t know where it is going to end up.”
If gentrification produced equal benefit across the socio-economic spectrum, then I doubt there would be as much tension. But it doesn’t produce equal benefits. That is something for Missoulians to think about as we continue to struggle under the economic consequences of bailing out Wall Street and letting Main Street stagnate and decline.
Imagine my surprise (not) when a friend brought to my attention the above public Facebook post from Intelligent Discontent’s Polish Wolf after our dustup in the comments of Lizard’s post “Cold War Proxy Conflicts Worsening”. I blurred out his name and photo so as to maintain his anonymity.
First off, let’s dispense with the easy stuff. I’m not sure if PW is referring to my being a ‘faux “anti-imperialist”‘ or a ‘faux… liberal’ (he might want to get some tutoring from his high school english teacher buddy on how to construct sentences clearly). Most assuredly I am an anti-imperialist. And I have never claimed, and do not claim, to be a liberal. God forbid I be lumped in with the milk toast politicians that pass as liberal democrats these days.
Maybe he’s insinuating there is no such thing as a liberal that is “anti-imperialist.” I don’t believe that all liberals have descended into neoliberalism, so I’d have to disagree with him on that point, that one could not be both a liberal and an anti-imperialist.
But I need to clarify a few things for those who would pass off a cursory look at the recent history of Ukrainian elections or economics for any indication of whether or not the CIA is involved in fomenting the instability that resulted in a coup, or if this coup is justified. There is much in-depth coverage outside of the mainstream press (and mouthpieces for neocon and neoliberal foreign policy stances).
Much more after the jump… with a “straight face.” Continue Reading »
by Pete Talbot
Some of our city’s development leaders are troubled by a lack of a Missoula “economic identity,” according to a story on the Front Page of Sunday’s Missoulian.
This concern is driven, in part, by a report from the Montana Policy Institute ranking Missoula near the bottom of Montana cities for “business friendliness.”
Of course, the Montana Policy Institute won’t be happy with Missoula until the Clark Fork is running thick with pollutants, we have 1960’s tipi-burner air quality and corporate taxes are back to zero, or less.
The Montana Policy Institute is a far-right “think tank” out of Bozeman funded by, well, no one knows who funds it since its donors are kept secret.
I’m not all that sure that the institute is still in existence. It’s mostly-blank page on the Internet says, “this website is not updated frequently.” So, if you want more information, forget about it. There is this on the site: the Montana Policy Institute’s noble goal of “free-market think(ing), dedicated solely to providing policy solutions that promote the liberty, prosperity, and quality of life for all Montanans.” In other words, roll back regulations and taxes.
I applaud Missoula’s economic developers for building partnerships: start ups and entrepreneurs joining with technology resources and government assistance, and linking up with our excellent university and city schools.
We have our economic fits-and-starts here, and it we’d all be happier if our kids could find gainful employment and stay in town. Let’s work on that but not in the way promoted by the Montana Policy Institute.
Most folks aren’t getting rich in Missoula, but we’ve been buffered from the radical boom-and-bust cycle better than many Montana cities precisely because of our diverse economy. Please keep that in mind and build on it (also, support for a big hike in the minimum wage would be in everyone’s best interest, something you can be sure the Montana Policy Institute is against).
So let’s not pander to the institute’s short-sighted, free-market, non-sustainable model. We have more going for us than that, and the Missoulian, for credibility, shouldn’t be quoting the Montana Policy Institute anymore.
I’ve had several people direct my attention to Ed Kemmick’s new project, Last Best News, and I can see why. His peek into the racist mind of Max Lenington is incredibly well-written. Kemmick also bid his farewell to Montana’s senatorial pork hustler in a piece titled Max Baucus: A long career, a long goodbye. In that article Kemmick describes Baucus as the insider’s insider:
It’s no crime to lack spark, but in Baucus’ case the absence of connection was directly related to how much more comfortable he seemed in Washington than he did when he came back to Montana. He was the professional insider, the quiet political functionary who knows all the right people and trims his sails to catch every passing breeze.
Without Max in that position of influence, Ochenski makes note in his weekly column what that probably means for the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act. I’d read the whole piece, but for a quick summary, here is Ochenski’s conclusion:
The harsh reality is that the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act will likely fall victim to the political sleight-of-hand that brought Walsh to the Senate as Baucus’ replacement. Baucus proclaimed the bill to be “one of his top priorities as he finishes out his final term” and that he was “more determined than ever to bring the Heritage Act to the finish line.”
But the truth is that Baucus is gone and with him, all the power, persuasion and vote-trading that traditionally brings bills to “the finish line.” Instead, we get yet another example of our severely dysfunctional political system.
Instead of reading about dysfunction, I offer an alternative read. Jeffrey St. Clair has a great article celebrating his friend and activist, Mike Garrity. St. Clair opens around a campfire in Western Montana:
Five years ago, I was sitting at a campfire in the foothills of the Bridger Mountains of western Montana, with a few close friends, sipping whiskey while watching a dazzling sunset dissolve behind the ragged peak of Haystack Mountain on the distant horizon. It was my 50th birthday and there was no better place to mourn the passing of the years.
Most of us circled around that crackling fire of lodgepole pine were grizzled veterans of environmental battles and we looked the part. The decades had taken their toll: Bad backs, hip replacements, busted ankles, arthritic wrists, failing eyeballs. One of us stood out, though. He was lean, sinewy and sported the implacable, no bullshit gaze of an auditor at the IRS. His name was Mike Garrity and he was by far the most dangerous figure on the mountain that night, except, perhaps, for the young grizzly that had been sighted rummaging through a berry patch just up the slope earlier in the week.
The article describes how Garrity’s Alliance for the Wild Rockies has been so effective, and it’s not just lawsuits. Some of the collaborations Garrity cobbled together show how good he is at building relationships, even among groups that aren’t natural allies to environmental issues. Here are some examples:
Garrity has a unique gift for getting unlikely folks to take couragous stances in the defense of the environment. For example, in 1996, Garrity helped convince the Southern Utah Loggers Association to sign onto a letter to the Chief of the Forest Service calling for the protection of all roadless lands from logging. Their logic was two-fold: first, they had a legitimate concern about protecting the environment; second, they argued that timber sales in roadless areas were most likely to be bought and logged by large out-of-state corporations.
Garrity pulled a similar coup in the Northern Rockies when he almost single-handedly convinced the Teamsters and Operating Engineers Unions of eastern Washington, to back a plan drafted by the Alliance that called for reintroducing grizzly bears to Central Idaho and western Montana, as well as protecting all roadless lands and ripping out more than 3,500 of existing logging roads that pose a threat to fish and bears.
In a realm that too often lacks encouraging news, Mike Garrity’s activism is a breath of fresh air. Go get ‘em, Mike!
“You don’t just, in the 21st century, behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped-up pretext.”
– U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaking on CBS program Face the Nation.
Open thread for the goings on in Ukraine. Anyone curious enough?
I’m not going to say who this poet is, yet. I’ll get into that below the fold.
My Heart Is A Wiffle Ball/Freedom Pole
I reared digital moonlight
You read its clock, scrawled neon
across that black
Kismetly … ubiquitously crest fallen
Thrown down to strafe your foothills…
I’ll suck the bones pretty.
Your nature perforated the abrasive
Spray painted everything known to man,
Stream rushed through and all out into
Whilst the crackling stare down sun snuck
Through our windows boarded up
He hit your flint face and it sparked.
And I bellowed and you parked
We reached Marfa.
One honest day up on this freedom pole
Devils not done digging
He’s speaking in tongues all along the
And this pining erosion is getting dust in
And I’m drunk on your morsels
And so I look down the line
Your every twitch hand drum salute
Continue Reading »
by Pete Talbot
I’m not sure why folks band together in moments of crisis, an example being the response of everyone: neighbors, strangers, passers-by; coming together to search for avalanche victims in the lower Rattlesnake.
These same folks might call the cops on you if you’re playing your music too loud or parked in the wrong spot, but during times of crisis …
To a lesser extent, watching folks pitch in to dig out stuck cars, and the sidewalks and driveways of elderly friends and neighbors, well, it gives this old cynic a warm feeling (despite the -20 windchill).
It’s one of those times when right-wing tea baggers, left-wing pinkos, rednecks and hippies come together for the common good.
So I won’t evoke class warfare during this blizzard, lizard. I’ll just say that this weekend Montanans, particularly Missoulians, have made me proud.
Damn you, Twitter. After my white-knuckled escape in a rented Pathfinder from the blizzard besieging Missoula, my weekend getaway has been temporarily thwarted by self-sabotage: I brought my phone. And computer.
Hearing news from my wife about the “urban avalanche” that destroyed a home and buried three people, one of them a child, sent me to Twitter. It was miraculous that all three were pulled from the snowy debris alive.
Of course, I stayed on Twitter, then turned on my computer.
While my friend (who somehow had no problem flying into Missoula this morning) is happily snoring away in our hotel room, I’m currently perched on a bar stool in the swanky lounge (we’re splurging). The place is lively. I overhear a regular customer ask the bartender why it’s so busy tonight. The bartender said a big group from the east coast is in town. “We’re ready for them,” the bartender says. It’s a very large group, but only one tab.
It’s the perfect setting to read Ismael Hossein-Zadeh’s piece on How International Financial Elites Change Governments to Implement Austerity—or, to put it in simpler terms—Global War on the 99%. I strongly suggest reading the whole piece, but for now I’ll excerpt this:
The powerful plutocratic establishment in the core capitalist countries does not seem to feel comfortable to dismantle New Deal economics, Social Democratic reforms and welfare state programs in these countries while people in smaller, less-developed countries such as (al-Gaddafi’s) Libya, Venezuela or Cuba enjoy strong, state-sponsored social safety net programs. Plutocracy’s intolerance of “regimented” economies stems from a fear that strong state-sponsored economic safely net programs elsewhere may serve as “bad” models that could be demanded by citizens in the core capitalist countries.
In a moment of honesty, former U.S. President Harry Truman is reported as having expressed (in 1947) the unstated mission of the United States to globalize its economic system in the following words: “The whole world should adopt the American system. The American system can survive in America only if it becomes a world system”
The article puts in stark terms how this global class war is being waged.
We’ve had some comment-thread discussion on Ukraine, and I’ve written about my weariness of Greenwald’s professional partnership with Billionaire Pierre Omidyar. These two seemingly unrelated topics have been provocatively linked by Mark Ames in a piece examining donations from Omidyar that funded revolutionary groups in Ukraine:
When the revolution came to Ukraine, neo-fascists played a front-center role in overthrowing the country’s president. But the real political power rests with Ukraine’s pro-western neoliberals. Political figures like Oleh Rybachuk, long a favorite of the State Department, DC neocons, EU, and NATO—and the right-hand man to Orange Revolution leader Viktor Yushchenko.
Last December, the Financial Times wrote that Rybachuk’s “New Citizen” NGO campaign “played a big role in getting the protest up and running.”
New Citizen, along with the rest of Rybachuk’s interlocking network of western-backed NGOs and campaigns— “Center UA” (also spelled “Centre UA”), “Chesno,” and “Stop Censorship” to name a few — grew their power by targeting pro-Yanukovych politicians with a well-coordinated anti-corruption campaign that built its strength in Ukraine’s regions, before massing in Kiev last autumn.
The efforts of the NGOs were so successful that the Ukraine government was accused of employing dirty tricks to shut them down. In early February, the groups were the subject of a massive money laundering investigation by the economics division of Ukraine’s Interior Ministry in what many denounced as a politically motivated move.
Fortunately the groups had the strength – which is to say, money – to survive those attacks and continue pushing for regime change in Ukraine. The source of that money?
According to the Kyiv Post, Pierrie Omidyar’s Omidyar Network (part of the Omidyar Group which owns First Look Media and the Intercept) provided 36% of “Center UA”’s $500,000 budget in 2012— nearly $200,000. USAID provided 54% of “Center UA”’s budget for 2012. Other funders included the US government-backed National Endowment for Democracy.
Add to that George Soros gushing about how to Sustain the Ukranian Breakthrough:
Following a crescendo of terrifying violence, the Ukrainian uprising has had a surprisingly positive outcome. Contrary to all rational expectations, a group of citizens armed with not much more than sticks and shields made of cardboard boxes and metal garbage-can lids overwhelmed a police force firing live ammunition. There were many casualties, but the citizens prevailed. This was one of those historic moments that leave a lasting imprint on a society’s collective memory.
How could such a thing happen? Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics offers a fitting metaphor. According to Heisenberg, subatomic phenomena can manifest themselves as particles or waves; similarly, human beings may alternate between behaving as individual particles or as components of a larger wave. In other words, the unpredictability of historical events like those in Ukraine has to do with an element of uncertainty in human identity.
People’s identity is made up of individual elements and elements of larger units to which they belong, and peoples’ impact on reality depends on which elements dominate their behavior. When civilians launched a suicidal attack on an armed force in Kyiv on February 20, their sense of representing “the nation” far outweighed their concern with their individual mortality. The result was to swing a deeply divided society from the verge of civil war to an unprecedented sense of unity.
Whether that unity endures will depend on how Europe responds.
This is simply how the global elite roll, and this is how they will continue to roll until some counter force stops them.
Is the normalizing of the surveillance state complimented by First Look Media?
It used to be anyone who thought “they” can watch you through webcams were considered unhinged. Well…
Britain’s surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the US National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, secret documents reveal.
GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not.
In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery – including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications – from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally.
Glenn Greenwald also has a very important article (drip) at The//Intercept about How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations. I haven’t really dug in yet, but just from skimming the documents the depth of strategic deception appears astonishing.
While I appreciate the information, I remain suspicious of the source and the ultimate intention of these disclosures because it smacks of boiling frogs.
Not a popular position, I know, but watching the lackluster reaction I can’t help but wonder.
The debate surrounding sitting on the sidewalk in the Central Business District of Downtown Missoula hit a new low when Dan Cederberg described this problematic sitting as “gateway conduct” at yesterday’s Public Safety and Health committee meeting. A gateway to what? The aggressive solicitation that would STILL BE PROHIBITED if the amendments removing non-verbal solicitation and benign acts, like sitting, pass?
The attempt to keep Missoula from being sued by the ACLU will be taken up by City Council next Monday, March 3rd. I hope Caitlin Copple can make it this time, since she wasn’t at the committee meeting yesterday.
Emily Bentley was in attendance, and had this to say:
There is one main issue at hand. Should sitting on a public sidewalk be banned in all of the Central Business District or should it only be banned 10ft from the entrance to a business? The latter prevailed…for today. There were only 6 people in the committee meeting – myself, Jason, Jordan, Bryan, Jon, and Annelise. Caitlin was absent and many of the other Council members who have voiced support for the CBD ban in previous meetings are not on this committee. This issue will receive extensive debate and may be over turned on Monday evening. I do not support the full ban on sitting in the CBD. Although I agree there is an issue of public safety, I feel strongly that there is benign behavior that will also be made illegal. My toddler had a tantrum downtown last week. He sat down. I don’t want that to be illegal. I also sat down to breast feed him last summer. I don’t want that to be illegal either. I think the benign behavior is overlooked and people take notice of the disruptive behavior, giving the perception that there is only bad behavior. The 10ft ban on sitting is consistent with the 10ft ban on solicitation, which makes it easier for police to enforce. According to the BID, 10ft from businesses takes up about 1/3 of the CBD. The ACLU has grudgingly acknowledged that it is not de facto ban the way that the originally proposed 20ft was.
Emily’s toddler is not the only person throwing tantrums downtown (Missoulian):
“This process kind of feels like a shell game at times, as we’ve been at this for three years,” said Brent Campbell, president of the Missoula Downtown Association. “I’m not sure this is really the best way to create good statutes.”
A few years ago, the council adopted ordinances aimed at establishing some order downtown, but the city center remains messy, albeit popular. Workers still clean up human feces from shop fronts, and pedestrians run the gantlet of beggars asking or accosting them for money on the sidewalks.
What is the best way to create good statutes? How about some data? Brent Campbell is mistaken, it’s actually been 5 years since the original ordinances against aggressive solicitation and pedestrian interference were passed. So in that time, how many citations have been issued? And has the rate of citations increased over the years?
I suspect there may be a reason that kind of information isn’t a part of the conversation.
Bentley also introduced an amendment reintroducing footbridges into the ordinance language:
I made the motion to add the footbridges back into the ordinance. In my opinion when this was removed as part of the Mayors compromise, we threw the baby out with the bath water. The footbridges are the biggest problem in Missoula. There are significant concerns as people have been raped and murdered on them in recent years.
I don’t disagree, especially the footbridge over the tracks from downtown to the Northside. One way to address that is find a more appropriate spot for the Union Gospel Mission.
Speaking of relocation, I hope the MDA can try to remember there are good things happening for their downtown. By the end of the year, the Poverello Center will be moving to their new location on West Broadway, and the Salvation Army just announced their plans to relocate. I found this quote especially relevant:
The Salvation Army is the most recent of several social service providers to announce plans to move out of the downtown area, and Hamilton said it makes sense to relocate as the city tightens laws against panhandling and loitering.
Next I suggest transforming the Ox into a yogo studio and the Howard’s slummy apartments into condos. To protect all these great improvements our city leaders can create some sort of perimeter around downtown. The BID (business improvement district) can then hire more ambassadors to ensure only commerce-minded citizens enter the downtown core.
If only other Montana communities showed their compassion by not letting people sit on sidewalks, maybe that woman who died of exposure in Hamilton would still be alive. And that guy found dead of exposure in Butte.
Unfortunately it doesn’t look like the vote next Monday is going to go the way downtown businesses hope. There may be other options, though. This article may be 5 years old, but I think it still represents outside-the-box thinking that may be of interest to downtown businesses:
As 15-year-old Eddie Holder sprinted from his apartment for school one recent morning, he held his hand to one ear to block out a shrill, piercing noise.
The sound was coming from a wall-mounted box, but not everyone can hear it. The device, called the Mosquito, is audible only to teens and young adults and was installed outside the building to drive away loiterers.
If that doesn’t work, I have other ideas to help save downtown, like remote control sandwich board signs equipped with a cattle-prod-type device that would administer a non-lethal shock to non-commerce minded individuals misusing our public sidewalks.
You’re welcome, downtown businesses.
The City of Missoula’s attempts to criminalize homelessness has reached a ridiculous crescendo. Downtown is a mess and don’t you know, it’s all the homeless’ fault. Not the drunks – served at downtown bars – who smash up downtown businesses. Not the drunks assaulting innocent pedestrians on their way home from the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival – nope..it’s those darn homeless.
Of latest debate is the ability of people to – yeah, get this – sit downtown. Because, you know, no one should be coming to Missoula Montana and have the audacity to sit. In downtown! Of all places!
Dan Cederberg, a member of Mayor Engen’s downtown advisory committee, is quoted in this Missoulian article covering today’s committee meetings as saying that ‘the council has heard plenty of testimony that many people who sit downtown also end up harassing and intimidating people, so the act is a “gateway” to poor behavior. He said the result is a public safety issue the city must address.’
Sitting is a “gateway” to poor behavior?
Liberals and Progressives? Please phone home because your city is lost.
I’ll tell you what is “gateway” behavior to a poor downtown lacking growth: Public officials and downtown businesses and commerce organizations standing by (because, you know, sitting is bad) with nary a whisper while one of the largest and most historic pieces of commerce real estate not only in Missoula but in western Montana is eyed as a viable site for the county public library.
Let that sink in: the county friggin’ library. A non-tax paying entity taking up one of the largest contiguous parcels of downtown Missoula. A block and a half off of riverfront, and on the main bridged street through downtown?
And before the Friends of the Library come out and whine about me hating all books, I’ll pray that ya’all believe me when I say I’m a big fan of libraries and book reading. Frankly, more people should do it. Newspapers too. Everyone should read and do it often. As often as possible.
And I’m even OK if you sit while doing it!
Yeah – downtown Missoula is turning into a tax-free haven – let’s not forget the University either.
Please grow the hell up and quit blaming everyone but yourselves people.
by Pete Talbot
[What's an emptive? Lizard says he's posted a preemptive strike (below this post) to a piece I've been working on. Well, here's my postemptive. I'm finishing something I've started; not my strong suit. Damn you, lizard.]
No one really needs me to defend this site. The contributors do a fine job of responding to comments and criticism, and they even show a little introspection from time-to-time.
But I found this in my inbox a few days ago from someone I respect. For my own reasons, I’ll keep it anonymous but here’s the gist:
I hope you’re following what is going on at 4 and 20 these days.
It seems that there isn’t a Democrat they “like” anymore. Literally, not one.
I’ve been a lurking b’birder from the beginning but I think I finally may let it go.
I mean they’re even going after Pat Williams. I think we’ve got Senator Essman and the Montana Republican party doing enough of that, don’t we?
He/she has a point. This site has made many twists and turns over the years. It started Democratically-centric, particularly in Jon Tester’s successful bid to unseat Sen. Conrad Burns in 2006. 4&20 has had many contributors since then from all stripes left of center, but it belongs to no one. The opinions are those of the writers and I appreciate them all. There are sites that espouse party line — left, right and center — and I’m grateful for those, too.
Now, the 4&20 reins are in lizard’s hands. It’s great to see jhwy.girl in the mix again and a post now-and-then from JC. But this not the site to visit if you’re looking for party talking points. After our founding father, Jay Stevens, I’m the closest to a Democratic apologist and I seldom post anymore.
I enjoy the unbridled ideology this site brings to the ‘sphere. I can’t always embrace it because of life’s realities. Example: I’m against coal trains, tar sands, the rape of the Bakken and the Keystone XL Pipeline. If this was my platform for an upcoming bid for statewide office, how would I fare? Piss poor, and having just returned from the Magic City, Montana’s largest berg, where I did some unscientific polling, I say this with conviction.
So, I’ll continue to straddle that line between idealism and pragmatism while absorbing the musings from the blogs, and hoping we lean to the left as far as feasible in this great state of ours.
I’m going to preempt a post Pete Talbot is writing defending 4&20 Blackbirds (it’s been in draft form for 2 days and I couldn’t help taking a peek).
I guess Pete received an email from someone he respects, someone who wants to make sure Pete is following what has been happening at 4&20 lately. And what’s that you ask? Criticizing Democrats.
My criticism is neither new, nor original. After all, the sell out of the Democratic party has been going on for two decades now. For those who don’t wear party lenses, it’s not that difficult to discern.
I think the last 8 years have been particularly hard on Democrats, especially the progressive wing. Bush’s reign was abysmal. That’s why there was so much hope the electoral victory in 2006—returning Democrats to power in Congress for the first time in 12 years—would translate into policy push-backs on immense blunders, like the disastrous Iraq and Afghanistan Wars (because terrorism).
Here’s how an anti-war.com piece interpreted the anti-war polling leading up to the 2006 elections:
The November election is shaping up as a national referendum on the war in Iraq – and the GOP, AKA the War Party, is in deep trouble.
A recent CNN poll asked voters to rank the importance of the war issue: 48 percent said it is “extremely important,” while 38 percent averred it’s “very important.” The same poll shows overwhelming opposition to the war (62 percent, and climbing), and – the shocker – 56 percent believe the war was a mistake, while a mere 40 percent disagree – with the latter figure the lowest on record. The bad news for Republicans: when it comes to Iraq, voters would rather have Democrats in charge (51 percent). After all, a Republican administration, aided and abetted by a rubber-stamp GOP-controlled Congress, lied to them: according to a Newsweek poll, a whopping 58 percent say Bush and his team “purposely misled the public about evidence that Iraq had banned weapons in order to build support for war.”
In 2006 I was 27 years old, still idealistic and politically gullible. I can look back now and say the lack of action from the 2006 elections was the seed of my disillusionment with the only viable political alternative to Republicans. It was only a matter of time before I began putting together the implications of the Clinton years and the global reach of neoliberalism.
But it’s not the criticism of an abstract political philosophy that inspires the vice chair of the Missoula County Democrats Executive Board to slyly subtweet her displeasure at my recent criticism with these two tweets:
Only in some hallucinatory parallel universe would the local democrats be responsible for Van Valkenburg’s negligence and mess.
Oh, a new day and a new article about Fred digging a new hole.
I’m not interested in picking personal fights. I sometimes need to remind myself there are mostly good people trying to do good things within a broken system. And, I should add, there is a lot of shared frustration that gets channeled at different targets, sometimes unfairly.
That said, I don’t think it’s unfair to call out examples of Democrats deviating from the principles they are suppose to stand for.
The cover piece for Harper’s March issue is titled “Nothing Left: The Long, Slow Surrender of American Liberals“. Here is how Ellen Rosenbush introduces the issue:
How will future generations view the presidency of Barack Obama? In this issue of Harper’s Magazine, we present our latest commentary on the president and his legacy with a cover story by University of Pennsylvania political science professor Adolph Reed Jr. His essay is a compelling assessment of the failure of the American left. He begins with the left’s abandonment of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal principles and achievements, and goes on to criticize both Bill Clinton and Obama for having moved toward the center. Yet Reed’s harshest salvos are directed at the left itself, which he views as effectively dead: it stands for nothing, and is now defined only by its not being the right.
To watch a Bill Moyers interview with Reed, click here.
C’mon, American liberals, don’t give up like Alec Baldwin. It’s not all hopeless. I saw random strangers helping each other in the mess of snow, all day. They were getting things done, practical things, working together for the common good.
It’s still possible.
Someone needs to take the figurative shovel away from Fred Van Valkenburg, because he clearly doesn’t have the good sense to stop digging the hole he’s in.
On Sunday, some new wrinkles appeared in Missoula County’s scandal-ridden county attorney’s office, sparking anger from apparently uninformed county commissioners:
At midweek, the county commissioners turned to Montana Attorney General Tim Fox for his take on the Justice Department report, which cited specific cases where victims said their allegations had been ignored or discounted by prosecutors. What they learned surprised them.
While he was still attorney general, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock struck an agreement with the DOJ in June of 2012 – at the outset of the DOJ’s investigation into Missoula’s and the University of Montana’s handling of sexual assault allegations.
The pact called on the DOJ to turn over to the state attorney general – whose office oversees all county prosecutors – any new allegations of sexual assaults or new information about previously reported sexual assault allegations.
Fox, as the current attorney general, sent a letter to the DOJ on Thursday requesting that information, citing the DOJ’s allegations that new evidence had been uncovered and that past cases had been mishandled or inappropriately dismissed.
The 2012 agreement wasn’t made known to county commissioners until last week, a fact that has Landquist livid. She had voted with fellow commissioners Curtiss and Bill Carey to approve a $50,000 appropriation from the county’s general fund for Van Valkenburg to challenge the DOJ’s investigative jurisdiction in U.S. District Court.
If Van Valkenburg knew about this agreement, then he had a responsibility to inform the commissioners before they gave him a $50,000 dollar check to start his legal war against the DoJ. Of course Steve Bullock, who made the agreement back in 2012 when he was the Attorney General, could have also reached out to Missoula County Commissioners, but I guess that’s asking too much of a Governor busy grooming his choice for the US Senate.
Now that Van Valkenburg has been emboldened by the commissioners, it appears there is no target too petty for Fred to take on.
After this online letter to the editor was published a few days ago, written by some obnoxious Californian, Van Valkenburg apparently began an angry email correspondence with the guy while still on “vacation”. That story is hitting the Missoulian today:
A California lawyer is crying foul after Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg sent him “vitriolic” emails in response to an online letter on Missoulian.com – attacks he said could have a “chilling effect” on First Amendment rights if leveled at other critics.
Jim Ghidella, a San Francisco-based attorney and Missoula enthusiast, wrote a letter published on Missoulian.com that was critical of Van Valkenburg’s decision to use $50,000 of public funds to sue the U.S. Department of Justice.
Ghidella received the first email, then responded, citing the “vitriolic tone” of Fred’s initial email. Here is how Freddy responded:
“You regret the vitriolic tone of my email?” Van Valkenburg wrote. “You ought to be regretting the arrogance you showed by claiming to know something about our suit against the DOJ which you obviously don’t know.”
“I don’t think you know what the word regret means,” Van Valkenburg added.
That sounds like a threat to me. And with this latest embarrassment, the hole just gets deeper and deeper. Van Valkenburg needs to be stopped from creating any more wreckage in the wake of his incompetence. That vacation he’s on should be extended indefinitely.
I’m going to try and avoid spoilers, but consider this fair warning that the subject of this post is House of Cards. More specifically this post is about how the precursor White House fairy tale known as The West Wing has been officially devoured and deposited like a tantalizing plate of Freddy’s ribs.
If this has been mentioned I haven’t read it yet, but I’m definitely catching a whiff of the Clintons lurking behind Francis and Claire Underwood, which would be timely. Mother Jones recently reported on the return of those “crazy Clinton conspiracies of the 1990s“:
During the 1992 campaign, some right-wingers whispered that Bill Clinton was a Manchurian candidate who had been brainwashed by the Russians when he was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford and took a student trip to Moscow. Others circulated fliers—this was before the internet hit big—claiming he had fathered the son of an African American prostitute. And there were claims that the Clintons were connected to a major drug-running operation that had been based in Arkansas and tied to a series of murders. Yes, murders. Dozens of murders.
Yes, the Clinton body count is a rabbit hole alright, and the paranoid right is salivating over the inevitable Hillary run for 2016.
In the meantime, we can enjoy a work of fiction that political insiders have described as 99% accurate. The 1% that’s unrealistic? Getting an Education bill passed so quickly. That meme was spread by Kevin Spacey as he made the media rounds promoting the Valentine’s day launch of Season 2:
Spacey spoke of a specific day when he had finished working on some of the episodes for the upcoming season and upon coming home had turned on the news. Watching the news he began to feel that the story-lines House of Cards works up are really not that “crazy.”
He also said that after talking to lots of different people, most said that they feel that “99% of the show is accurate and the one percent that isn’t is that you could never get an education bill passed that fast.”
The insinuation of this comment is that murdering those who get in your way, politically, is less unrealistic than the speed in which the show depicts the passage of a major piece of legislation. Kevin Spacey delivered this comment during nearly every interview I saw him in, because it was good for a few chuckles.
House of Cards does strive to be realistic, which is why pundits like Chris Hayes play themselves. There is also a minor storyline involving a hacker forced to work for the FBI that I found interesting, because the fictional character tries to leverage help for the real-life Barrett Brown. It was a curious reference that will hopefully bring more awareness to Brown’s case.
I think the creators of House of Cards are doing us a favor by trying to more accurately depict the scandalous, conniving world of American politics. And it appears insiders agree: this is how business gets done in DC.
I missed doing a poetry post last week, so this week I’ll offer two performances. The first is Allen Ginsberg reading his Ballad of the Skeletons, accompanied by Philip Glass and Paul McCartney. The second is slam poet Marshall Soulful Jones performing his poem Touchscreen. Enjoy!
The Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe had this to say about Ukraine’s 2010 presidential elections:
The first round of Ukraine’s presidential election was of high quality and showed significant progress over previous elections, meeting most OSCE and Council of Europe commitments, concluded the international election observation mission in a statement published today.
The observers noted that the election demonstrated respect for civil and political rights, and offered voters a genuine choice between candidates representing diverse political views. Candidates were able to campaign freely, and the campaign period was generally calm and orderly.
That means this evidence of US plotting is directed at a democratically elected president.
The situation in Ukraine is evolving quickly. I suggest listening to Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University on Democracy Now. Moon of Alabama also continues to provide some interesting context to what’s going down in this post.
Cold War proxy conflicts in Ukraine and Syria could get way out of control once the Sochi games end. Venezuela is also heating up.
Obama must not like Democracy very much. I hope his support of anti-semetic fascists and jihadists doesn’t give the Tea Party any bright ideas, like it’s ok to violently occupy government buildings and kill police.
After writing about the Train-Hopping Scabs of Capitalism I felt obligated to actually watch what I was being preemptively critical of.
And I’m glad I did.
Daniel Skaggs and his support crew pulled it off with Freeload. No one can accuse this film of romanticizing the modern hobo lifestyle. And I’m left wondering, what didn’t make the cut from 18 months of traveling?
The film was very well received by tonight’s audience. I stuck around for the question and answer, then left.
On my way back to my car I came close enough to getting my ass kicked that I had to call 911 to get the guy to back off. Seriously.
As I passed Red’s bar some guy asked me if I had a lighter. I said nope, in stride. The dude replied “you don’t have to be a fucking dick about it.”
I should have just ignored him, but I didn’t. That said, I don’t think my response of “Um, I’m not being a dick, I just don’t have a lighter” warranted a sudden confrontation. Before I knew it this guy was in my face, doing the alpha chest-bump. He really wanted to take it beyond verbal, but I wasn’t taking the bait, so he pushed me against the brick wall of the Bodega.
At this point two Bodega girls spilled out. Witnesses. I didn’t escalate his push, so he got more verbally aggressive, yelling inches from my face. I kept my composure best I could. Looking around, I became aware of an older woman and another guy who apparently knew this aggressor, but they weren’t intervening fast enough, so I pulled out my phone and dialed 911. In the chaos of dealing with dispatch I gathered the old woman was mom. She shuffled her drunk son into her car. I knelt down and got the license plate number.
They took off, so with the immediate threat gone, it wasn’t worth pursuing further. That didn’t stop the other guy, the brother, from letting me know what a douche I was for calling the cops. He was at least not drunk and somewhat reasonable, but at that point I wasn’t really interested in familial justification for why I had to go into fight/flight mode.
Downtown Missoula, folks. We’ll try to pass laws to fuck with train kids but let nightly drunkenness go on and on and on, whatevs.
There’s a petition out there demanding that Missoula County stop trivializing rape cases. Signatures are up to 6,878 as I type this, and they come from all over the world.
So there’s that. And yea, go ahead and say that 99.99% of these people have no business interjecting into our business. Whatever. But there’s our entry onto the world’s stage people. Keep cheering on Van Valkenburg’s lawsuit. Just keep going.
Secondly, Eric Hines – a University of Montana adjunct professor of political science – has tackled the question of whether the USDOJ has jurisdiction over Fred Van Valkenburg’s office. I recommend everyone read it. It’s titled, interestingly enough: Does the DOJ have the right to investigate the Missoula County Attorney? Yes, or Why Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg is wrong.
Blogs and whether they are dying or not has been a subject touched on here and other virtual spaces as online chatter shifted from blog spaces to Twitter and other platforms.
In the last few weeks I’ve seen content I’ve written popping up in other places, which is mostly a good thing, and I’d say proof that proclamations of death for the blogosphere have been premature.
The post I wrote about accountability for bar owners was excerpted at Daily Kos in a post featuring progressive bloggers in different states writing about local issues. While I’m flattered, I feel compelled to point out that post was one of the few I’ve written about the panhandling ordinances that didn’t include the fact those ordinances were enhanced thanks to progressives like Dave Strohmaier and Caitlin Copple.
The Great Falls Tribune featured an excerpt from the post I wrote about heroin and the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Again, it’s flattering to have content acknowledged by more official sources of media, but I can’t help being a little miffed that an unpaid blogger like myself is producing content that newspapers are using as they shrink newsrooms and squeeze everything they can from their remaining employees. Free content must be nice for the failing business model of newspapers.
Finally, the piece I did riffing off Martin Kidston’s “Missoula Time” article got picked up by Aaron Flint at The Flint Report. The juxtaposition of Kidston’s Missoula Time piece with the closure of a local Missoula restaurant, Food for Thought, reminded me of Dave Budge’s Montana Regulation Project. Oh, and Aaron, if you’re reading this, how dare you refer to 4&20 Blackbirds as liberal ;)
Seeing jhwygirl’s byline again is fantastic, and I hope JC and others continue using this forum to assemble and opine on the various issues that concern and inspire.
Lizard has had two posts now calling out local democrats – Thanks for Nothing, Democrats and Rape Culture, Missoula Democrats, and Criminalizing Poverty – on their lack of acting with principles most often associated with the Democratic Party.
Lizard points out in his first post that the overwhelmingly progressive city council (yeah, they run as nonpartisans but we all know they’re democrats) are working to criminalize homelessness. He points out that the Board of County Commissioners (all democrats) is suing the feds, saying they’ve no jurisdiction over our county attorney, the illustrious Fred Van Valkenburg, and then Liz points out that oVan Valkenburg – a democrat, himself – chose to not only ignore a county initiative that decriminalized marijuana, but that he actually notched up prosecutions of possession!
A comment from former Poverello Director and State Representative Ellie Hill (HD94 – Missoula) takes us to Lizard’s second post where he takes on former Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir’s recent editorial in support of Van Valkenburg and Missoula County’s lawsuit against the feds. Now, admittedly Muir’s politics are unknown since he wasn’t an elected official – but he is standing not only in support of the very Tea Partyesque lawsuit, he’s also referring to the USDOJ as “ultra-liberal.” Liz then continues on to call out Ms. Hill’s apparent change in positions on her advocacy for the homeless, citing quotes by Hill in Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller’s blog, Missoula Red Tape.
For good measure, Lizard closes out his post with reference to former US Representative Pat Williams’ ‘knucklehead” comment about rapists at the University of Montana, finely documented by the truly lustrous architect of words, Patrick Duganz.
Yes, it’s hard to find what many might refer to as “true progressives” or “good democrats” here in Missoula these days. Wagons are circled, that’s for sure. That “speak no ill” rule certainly applies in state democrat politics.
A few days ago a friend pointed out to me that Ravalli County – a conservative Tea Party bastion – sure knows how to address incompetence, even when it involves what is an elected office. That person was right. With unproven allegations of malfeasance, Ravalli Board of County Commissioners had County Treasurer Valerie Stamey escorted from the building by the county sheriff. They then hired an outside audit firm, brought in a interim treasurer and also a retired judge to independently oversee the investigation. Stamey remains on paid leave as the investigation continues.
Compare that to Missoula County Board of County Commissioners. With serious allegations made by the USDOJ who have quite clearly said that County Attorney Van Valkenburg has “put women’s safety at risk,” Van Valkenenburg apparently still has access to his office! There are not only allegations of violations of state and federal law, there is significant documentation by the USDOJ that civil rights were violated – that’s the kind of stuff that exposes the county to millions of dollars in lawsuits.
Instead, the county steams forward not by addressing the allegations, but on the hope of a now disgraced county attorney who thinks that the feds don’t have jurisdiction over civil rights violations.
This situation is no longer about who has jurisdiction over who – it’s over who violated civil rights and who is going to continue to maintain the status quo.
With documented allegations of civil rights violations and the failure of the Board of County Commissioners to act, it’s not going to be just Fred Van Valkenburg and Missoula County’s name on the lawsuits that have an easy in to being filed. His enablers will also be on the hook, should they fail to act.
And – dare I suggest – that may include the State of Montana, since there are documented allegations of state law in that 20 page document also. I’ve only heard crickets out of Helena, so far.
Missoula was worried about the cost of implementing the USDOJ’s recommendations? They might start to think about those civil rights lawsuits. That stuff can be real real expensive.
Look – Van Valkenburg poked at the dragon. The dragon bit back in a big way. In doing so, the dragon shined a big light on civil rights violations. If anyone things things are going to get easier, they’re dreaming.
Not only that – Van Valkenburg can’t defend himself or the county from these allegations. Consider that. Van Valkenburg had to hire outside council to sue the feds…he and the county sure can’t defend themselves against the civil rights violations that are now on their way down the pike.
Mark Muir, former Chief of the Missoula PD, has taken an interesting position regarding the DoJ’s interest in what’s been happening (or not happening) at the Missoula County Attorney’s Office:
With support from the County Commissioners, Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg has courageously chosen a bold and wise strategy in suing the United States Department of Justice for its abuses of power.
The anticipated result is nothing more than forcing them to play by the rules and to abide by the constitutional division of governmental powers. Asking a federal judge to put a stop to the bullying tactics of the U.S. Attorney General, his pitbulls in the Special Litigation Section and even Montana’s United States Attorney is not only the right thing, it is overdue.
Attorney General Eric Holder’s team of ultra-liberal, Washington, D.C., legal staff already won two unfair matches at the expense of Missoula taxpayers; their big government staffing increases gives them the resources to bully nearly any local institution into submission, indifferent to lack of proof.
Ultra-liberal? As opposed to who, Fred Van Valkenburg?
There are clearly some confusing dynamics at play in Missoula right now. I made it pretty clear how frustrated I am with Missoula Democrats in a post that I knew would probably ruffle a few feathers. State Representative Ellie Hill had this to say in the comments:
I fail to see what partisan politics has to do with what is going on in the County Attorney’s Office or in regard to the panhandling ordinances. It seems to me that there are many “Missoula Democrats” working on opposing sides of both issues. The panhandling ordinance didn’t get sent back to committee because Will Deschamps was looking out for equal protection and civil rights.
Rep. Hill has a point—a Democrat-dominated city council vote sent the solicitation ordinances back to committee—but we wouldn’t even be having this conversation if Adam Hertz (a conservative) hadn’t moved to reconsider the amendments to avoid a lawsuit, and Missoula wouldn’t be facing a lawsuit if progressive Caitlin Copple didn’t sponsor these amendments in the first place.
I find it particularly distasteful that Copple used the safety of women to justify criminalizing sitting on sidewalks. When these ordinances were first debated and passed, Ellie Hill was the director of the Poverello Center. This Missoula Red Tape post features Hill’s opinion of the original ordinances:
Pov director Ellie Hill said the nonprofit supports defining inappropriate behaviors and creating consequences for those actions. That’s as long as the rules in the ordinance* apply as equally to the aggressive Girl Scout cookie seller as they do to a belligerent old dude.
But Hill said the Pov isn’t going to get behind the ordinance* that bans sleeping or snoozing on streets and sidewalks. She said one Pov supporter called her and wanted to remind her of the story of the Good Samaritan. That good guy was helping the person on the streets — not slapping him with a misdemeanor as the ordinance proposes.
“To me, that’s the very definition of criminalizing poverty,” Hill said. “It’s wrong. How can you provide criminal consequences for being poor? Or having nowhere else to sit? Or nowhere else to sleep at night?”
I agree. But try telling that to a progressive LGBT advocate who describes a transient chasing a pregnant woman to her car as the reason to ban sitting on sidewalks downtown.
We are not going to make it safer for women in Missoula by targeting homeless people or getting rid of enablers of rape culture like Fred Van Valkenburg. Rape culture is insidious, and non-partisan.
As a reminder of that latter point, I strongly encourage everyone to read 4&20 contributor Patrick Duganz’s take on what Pat Williams said to the New York Times nearly 2 years ago regarding the University of Montana’s part in the rape scandal:
“I’m very sorrowful one of the premier universities in the Rockies has been scandalized by a few knuckleheaded students,” said Pat Williams, a former United States congressman and a member of Montana’s Board of Regents. “The football team has been terribly hurt by this.”
With friends like Fred and Pat, who needs Deschamps?
The Missoula Police Department are investigating a sexual assault on campus. A 19-year old woman has apparently reported a rape, and an 18-year old, known to the woman, is being questioned.
The article is brief, I’m sure because so little is known. That’s not to denigrate the Missoulian, and I’m glad for their reporting, however brief.
What struck me was was last sentence:
Welsh wouldn’t identify whose dorm room it was and said he didn’t know if alcohol played a role in the assault.
I don’t know – it seemed out of place Did public information office offer the statement? Was he asked?
No does mean no.
So was that statement in the context of ‘maybe the guy was drunk, which is why it happened’ as if it were some degree of a mitigating factor? An excuse for why this happened?
Or was it more in the sense of ‘the female might of been drinking,’ so anything she says might not be true?
Perhaps alcohol played a factor because xanax or rohypnol was dropped in the drink?
I don’t know, maybe it’s just me – but if there isn’t much known about the case, maybe alcohol shouldn’t be mentioned until it’s known whether – indeed – alcohol did play a factor. And if it did, it should be mentioned in its full contact.
Because, you know, the mere presence of alcohol isn’t an excuse to rape someone.
And without context, mentioning alcohol perpetuates the myth that it is.