The two blasts (initial reports of two additional unexploded bombs appear to be inaccurate) in Boston today is something most of us are just starting to process. I debated about whether or not to even write this right now. I follow Richard Hugo House on twitter (a poetry thing) and I really appreciated this tweet:
We apologize for the pre-scheduled posts that went out earlier- we’re going silent now. Our hearts and hopes are with those in Boston today.
It’s almost too depressing to watch all the standard reactions in the noise, present post no exception. OccupyDenver tweets about dead Iraqis in a similar blast, the New York Post misinforms about some Saudi National, there’s some awful Newtown angle with family members running, and of course conspiratorial associations spread like wild fire, for example drawing attention to this April 12th story (Bloomberg Businessweek) about Obama’s “determination” to see through the construction of a 3.9 billion dollar headquarters for Homeland Security…at Elizabeth Hospital:
President Barack Obama is trying to solve big problems in his proposed 2014 budget. His efforts to curtail entitlement spending have gotten most of the headlines. But he also seems determined to complete the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s new headquarters, the largest federal construction project since the Pentagon rose in the 1940s. The cost: $3.9 billion.
The project would unite at a single location nearly all DHS’s 22 divisions devoted to thwarting terrorists and safeguarding the populace from natural and manmade disasters. The site is the campus of St. Elizabeth Hospital, a former federal asylum that was once the home of poet Ezra Pound and John Hinckley, Ronald Reagan’s would-be assassin. There would be 4.5 million square feet of workspace in the new facility and ample employee parking.
I know. Ezra Pound was in a federal asylum?
Patriot’s Day Bombing, is that the name we’re going with internet? There’s always a bit of confusion at first, and names are important, right? Suddenly this descended from the cloud upon which Nate Silver sits:
What matters: 1) who did it; 2) how they did it; 3) why they did it. What doesn’t matter: what we call it.
In more words than a tweet can convey, I found this interesting:
In his speech following today’s explosions at the Boston Marathon, President Obama noted that today is Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts. “It’s a day that celebrates the free and fiercely independent spirit that this great American city of Boston has reflected from the earliest days of our nation,” the president said during a briefing where he made it clear that we don’t yet know who was behind today’s attack. But Obama wasn’t the first to mention the holiday in the wake of the attack—speculation had already started swirling on Twitter about the possible significance of the Massachusetts Monday holiday on which the marathon is held every year.
With that in mind, a quick primer on Patriot’s Day: It commemorates the opening battles of the American Revolutionary War, the battles of Lexington and Concord, both held on April 19, 1775. The holiday has become best known for the marathon and is in fact also referred to as “Marathon Monday.” (Patriot’s Day, we should note, should not be confused with Patriot Day, established on September 11 to mark the World Trade Center attacks.)
So why were people so quick to speculate about the holiday’s possible significance? Undoubtedly because they were inspired by the fact that this week does contain a number of unhappy anniversaries: the Oklahoma City Bombing (April 19, 1995), the Waco assault (April 19, 1993), the Columbine School Shooting (April 20, 1999), and the Virginia Tech massacre (April 16, 2007), for starters. Two of those tragedies—the Virginia Tech massacre and the Waco assault—were on Monday, the Patriot’s Day of those years.
Reading that reminded me of this: an attempt at expressing how I personally relate to the month of April, and why I think, generally, fucked up things happen around this time of year.
Maybe more noise, maybe not.
I hope not.
For the pro-life conservatives who consider the fight against abortion as being the number one concern, it’s all about saving the lives of the unborn (we will get to what happens to the lives of kids when they’re born into poverty in a bit). And for the right-wing meme-machine, abortion is a convenient social issue guaranteed to rile up the base.
Abortion also exposes the inherent contradictions for the broader conservative movement when it comes to their ideological obsession over the claimed need to shrink government. This is what drives me crazy. Conservatives say they want smaller government and less regulations, but they also want government regulating what happens in the wombs of women and the bedroom of gay Americans.
The issue of abortion is creeping into our media fray thanks to the current case being prosecuted against Kermit Gosnell—a case the right-wing meme-machine is generating a frenzy over. Part of the argument being made is lax oversight allowed this doctor to do horrific things in an incredibly unsanitary environment. But the main point for conservatives is this case is not being covered by the liberally-biased mainstream media because liberals enjoy killing unborn children so much, they don’t want any bad publicity to negatively impact on the ability of women to abort their unwanted pregnancies.
From the link (Mother Jones):
Obviously, conservatives believe the media is ignoring this story because it’s about abortion, and the lefties who run our media empires hate stories that put abortion in a bad light. Alternatively, it could be because it’s a Philadelphia story, and the national media doesn’t usually give a lot of time to local cases like this. Frankly, I don’t know—though I’ll note that even the conservative media didn’t give it a huge amount of coverage until fairly recently, when Gosnell’s trial started.
But if the motivations of the mainstream press are hazy, the motivations of the conservative press are crystal clear: they want this case to get a lot of attention because it highlights a rogue abortion doctor. That’s it. They wouldn’t give it the time of day if it were merely a story of regulatory failure that caused the deaths of a few poor people in, say, a rogue inner city dentist’s office.
Which is fine. If it were a rogue banker, I’d want to highlight it too. But that wouldn’t mean the rest of the media would somehow be implicated in a conspiracy if they didn’t follow my lead.
Our mainstream corporate media is selective about what issues get covered, and how they get covered. To understand the bias of corporate media, Project Censored closely tracks the stories corporate media buries:
The Project Censored team researched the board members of 10 major media organizations from newspaper to television to radio. Of these ten organizations, we found there are 118 people who sit on 288 different American and international corporate boards proving a close on-going interlock between big media and corporate America. We found media directors who also were former Senators or Representatives in the House such as Sam Nunn (Disney) and William Cohen (Viacom). Board members served at the FCC such as William Kennard (New York Times) and Dennis FitzSimmons (Tribune Company) showing revolving door relationships with big media and U.S. government officials.
These ten big media organizations are the main source of news for most Americans. Their corporate ties require us to continually scrutinize the quality of their news for bias. Disney owns ABC so we wonder how the board of Disney reacts to negative news about their board of directors friends such as Halliburton or Boeing. We see board members with connections to Ford, Kraft, and Kimberly-Clark who employ tens of thousands of Americans. Is it possible that the U.S. workforce receives only the corporate news private companies want them to hear? Do we collectively realize that working people in the U.S. have longer hours, lower pay and fewer benefits than their foreign counterparts? If these companies control the media, they control the dissemination of news turning the First Amendment on its head by protecting corporate interests over people.
So conservatives have a point that media bias exists, and is somehow tied up in the omission of this story in the 24/7 news cycle. The nature of the media bias, however, is tilted toward the interests of the almighty corporate bottom-line, and the plight of those in poverty is not a high priority, even if it’s something this grisly, and thus a good candidate for media sensationalization.
It would also help, in light of the corporate media consolidation that has happened in the past two decades, if people understood that the terms “liberal” and “conservative” are simply commodified products sold to news-consumers. Once you figure that out, you can then move beyond the labels to a better understanding of the corporate incentives behind reinforcing the polarization of our political landscape.
All that said, there is still great content generated by our media that can lead humans to be more aware of the problems our society faces and form solutions to address them.
Now, let’s talk about what happens when kids are born into poverty. I’m going to purposefully avoid talking about the ideological war being waged against the poor, because I recently focused on that angle in this post.
Instead, I would like to highlight this great article by Tina Rosenberg titled The Power of Talking to Your Baby:
By the time a poor child is 1 year old, she has most likely already fallen behind middle-class children in her ability to talk, understand and learn. The gap between poor children and wealthier ones widens each year, and by high school it has become a chasm. American attempts to close this gap in schools have largely failed, and a consensus is starting to build that these attempts must start long before school — before preschool, perhaps even before birth.
There is no consensus, however, about what form these attempts should take, because there is no consensus about the problem itself. What is it about poverty that limits a child’s ability to learn? Researchers have answered the question in different ways: Is it exposure to lead? Character issues like a lack of self-control or failure to think of future consequences? The effects of high levels of stress hormones? The lack of a culture of reading?
Another idea, however, is creeping into the policy debate: that the key to early learning is talking — specifically, a child’s exposure to language spoken by parents and caretakers from birth to age 3, the more the better. It turns out, evidence is showing, that the much-ridiculed stream of parent-to-child baby talk — Feel Teddy’s nose! It’s so soft! Cars make noise — look, there’s a yellow one! Baby feels hungry? Now Mommy is opening the refrigerator! — is very, very important. (So put those smartphones away!)
The idea has been successfully put into practice a few times on a small scale, but it is about to get its first large-scale test, in Providence, R.I., which last month won the $5 million grand prize in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge, beating 300 other cities for best new idea. In Providence, only one in three children enter school ready for kindergarten reading. The city already has a network of successful programs in which nurses, mentors, therapists and social workers regularly visit pregnant women, new parents and children in their homes, providing medical attention and advice, therapy, counseling and other services. Now Providence will train these home visitors to add a new service: creating family conversation.
The Providence Talks program will be based on research by Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley at the University of Kansas, who in 1995 published a book, “Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children.” (see here for a summary.) Hart and Risley were studying how parents of different socioeconomic backgrounds talked to their babies. Every month, the researchers visited the 42 families in the study and recorded an hour of parent-child interaction. They were looking for things like how much parents praised their children, what they talked about, whether the conversational tone was positive or negative. Then they waited till the children were 9, and examined how they were doing in school. In the meantime, they transcribed and analyzed every word on the tapes — a process that took six years. “It wasn’t until we’d collected our data that we realized that the important variable was how much talking the parents were doing,” Risley told an interviewer later.
All parents gave their children directives like “Put away your toy!” or “Don’t eat that!” But interaction was more likely to stop there for parents on welfare, while as a family’s income and educational levels rose, those interactions were more likely to be just the beginning.
The disparity was staggering. Children whose families were on welfare heard about 600 words per hour. Working-class children heard 1,200 words per hour, and children from professional families heard 2,100 words. By age 3, a poor child would have heard 30 million fewer words in his home environment than a child from a professional family. And the disparity mattered: the greater the number of words children heard from their parents or caregivers before they were 3, the higher their IQ and the better they did in school. TV talk not only didn’t help, it was detrimental.
Read the whole article.
By the time teachers begin their role in the education of American children, the playing field is already incredibly skewed through no fault of the children impacted by poverty, which of course makes the conservative poor-bashing of poor children even more despicable.
So what can we start doing about it?
Understanding the problem is the beginning, and though I’m clearly biased when it comes to the subject of poetry, I think everyone should read this Harper’s piece by Tony Hoagland, titled Twenty Little Poems That Could Save America:
What went wrong? Somehow, we blew it. We never quite got poetry inside the American school system, and thus, never quite inside the culture. Many brave people have tried, tried for decades, are surely still trying. The most recent watermark of their success was the introduction of Robert Frost and Carl Sandburg and some e.e. cummings, of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and “In a Station of the Metro” — this last poem ponderously explained, but at least clean and classical, as quick as an inoculation. It isn’t really fair to blame contemporary indifference to poetry on “Emperor of Ice-Cream.” Nor is it fair to blame Wallace Stevens himself, who also left us, after all, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” a poem that will continue to electrify and intrigue far more curious young minds than are anesthetized by a bad day of pedagogy on the Ice Cream Poem. Let us blame instead the stuffed shirts who took an hour to explain that poem in their classrooms, who chose it because it would need an explainer; pretentious ponderous ponderosas of professional professors will always be drawn to poems that require a priest.
I don’t know if poetry can save America, but I know for a fact poetry saves lives.
In this week’s LWPS I mentioned how the Book of Frank by CAConrad wasn’t for everyone, then linked to an interview for anyone who wanted to explore why.
In that interview, CAConrad is painfully honest about the childhood experiences those poems come from. The book opens with a quote from CAConrad’s grandmother— “well of course they are staring, we’re very interesting—and the interviewer asks about that and about how the audience reacts during readings. This is what CAConrad has to say:
CA: The audience has to take it. If they’re there, they have to take it, or leave. People have walked out on me reading these and other poems more than a few times. I don’t care. Poetry will not apologize.
TD: “well of course they are staring, we’re very interesting” summarizes much of the book as the reader experiences reality with Frank. Did you have that statement from your grandmother in mind when you were compiling the poems?
CA: Oh, well that’s something she said to me when I was young. I was a young boy visiting my mother’s mother in Iowa. I wasn’t born there, I was born in Kansas, then mostly raised in rural Pennsylvania. Anyway, my mother had a reputation because she was a thief, an alcoholic, always in trouble, and kind of known as the town whore. So as a young boy I was in the little grocery store with my grandmother back in that town where my mother grew up. I can still see this. The look of CONTEMPT on the faces of these old women looking at me, whispering, shaking their heads while looking at me, you know, the kind of body language that turns your stomach no matter how old you are. I told my grandmother that they were staring at us. Then she said that sentence to me. It cheered me right away, I can’t say why. But it’s something that’s come in handy in my life. But your question was more about how it fits the book. It felt right. Particularly because of the trauma the poems came out of, well, it was my little way of making myself feel good at the start of the book. That’s why I put it there. What readers think it was put there for, or how it fits for readers is just fine with me.
I was absolutely delighted to have received a very positive response from the poet himself after tweeting the link to that post. I think CAConrad is an amazing poet (you can buy his books here) who shows those who care to look how language has the power to process trauma.
And because there is a war being waged against the poor, we will need to utilize whatever tools are available.
To end this rather lengthy post, I offer a little clip from a movie I absolutely adore. Enjoy!
CAConrad’s the Book of Frank (Wave Books, 2009) is not recommended reading for everyone. If you want to know a bit about it, you can read this interview: poetry will not apologize.
For this week’s poetry installment, I have chosen a selection from the Book of Frank, and to compliment that poem, a message to the watchers their presence known.
Don’t worry about what that might mean. Enjoy! Continue Reading »
In my more paranoid moments, I wonder how much of what we see and know is being engineered by people with too much power and influence.
As Occupy Wall Street was emerging in the fall of 2011, the accusations from the right (and a-political, all-in conspiracists) was that Soros money was behind it. This Reuters piece debunking that claim still carries a seed of doubt, because a guy with billions of dollars will have it going lots of different places:
Soros spokesman Michael Vachon said that Soros has not “funded the protests directly or indirectly.” He added: “Assertions to the contrary are an attempt by those who oppose the protesters to cast doubt on the authenticity of the movement.”
Soros has donated at least $3.5 million to an organization called the Tides Center in recent years, earmarking the funds for specific purposes. Tides has given grants to Adbusters, an anti-capitalist group in Canada whose inventive marketing campaign sparked the first demonstrations last month.
While I still support the idea of directly challenging Wall Street’s role in the extreme wealth disparity that’s exploded over the last decades, and while I still greatly admire the people who faced down the (nationally coordinated) police state response, there are reasons to be skeptical, like this rather disorienting headline:
WASHINGTON — Members of the Syrian opposition movement have hired a top Occupy Wall Street activist as their U.S. lobbyist, according to registration forms filed with the U.S. Senate on Monday. Carne Ross is best known as one of the driving forces behind the Occupy Wall Street Working Group on Alternative Banking, a coalition that created a model for nonprofit banking.
According to the lobbying forms, Ross’s advisory firm, Independent Diplomat, Inc., will “meet with key officials and desk officers in the State Department and other U.S. agencies to gather their views [on the Syrian civil war] … and advise the Syrian Coalition how best to tailor their own approach to the U.S. Government.”
Um, well, shit.
Have fun, Mr. Activist, figuring out how to destroy Syria as al-Nusra just announced they’re officially going steady with Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
While Mr. Activist lands a nice gig with the government that’s run by the banks, two articles recently boggled my mind, because they deal with money in the trillions.
I linked to this article by Dave Lindorff in the comments of a post about poverty, because the cruelty of the cuts rippling out right now shouldn’t even be happening if not for this obscene greed:
I mean it. Stop talking about cutting school budgets, Social Security benefits, Medicare, Veteran’s pensions. Stop cutting subsidies to transit systems, to foreign aid. Stop cutting unemployment benefits. Stop it all.
There can not be any justification for budget cutting while wealthy criminals, corrupt politicians and business executives are hiding what reportedly totals between $29 trillion and $32 trillion in offshore tax havens.
A massive data dump by the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), working in conjunction with dozens of news organizations around the globe, has exposed the secret files of over 120,000 dummy offshore companies that have been used for years to hide the wealth — much of it ill-gotten, all of it tax-dodged — of the world’s rich and mega-rich.
But it’s not those tax-dodging depositors at risk. The second article from Ellen Brown describes a sleight of hand that really started with the repeal of Glass-Steagall and now lives on in Cyprus and the language of Dodd-Frank, potentially exposing US depositors to a 230 trillion derivative black hole:
Shock waves went around the world when the IMF, the EU, and the ECB not only approved but mandated the confiscation of depositor funds to “bail in” two bankrupt banks in Cyprus. A “bail in” is a quantum leap beyond a “bail out.” When governments are no longer willing to use taxpayer money to bail out banks that have gambled away their capital, the banks are now being instructed to “recapitalize” themselves by confiscating the funds of their creditors, turning debt into equity, or stock; and the “creditors” include the depositors who put their money in the bank thinking it was a secure place to store their savings.
The Cyprus bail-in was not a one-off emergency measure but was consistent with similar policies already in the works for the US, UK, EU, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, as detailed in my earlier articles here and here. “Too big to fail” now trumps all. Rather than banks being put into bankruptcy to salvage the deposits of their customers, the customers will now be put into bankruptcy to save the banks.
Why Derivatives Threaten Your Bank Account
The big risk behind all this is the massive $230 trillion derivatives boondoggle managed by US banks. Derivatives are sold as a kind of insurance for managing profits and risk; but as Satyajit Das points out in Extreme Money, they actually increase risk to the system as a whole.
In the US after the Glass-Steagall Act was implemented in 1933, a bank could not gamble with depositor funds for its own account; but in 1999, that barrier was removed. Recent congressional investigations have revealed that in the biggest derivative banks, JPMorgan and Bank of America, massive commingling has occurred between their depository arms and their unregulated and highly vulnerable derivatives arms. Under both the Dodd Frank Act and the 2005 Bankruptcy Act, derivative claims have super-priority over all other claims, secured and unsecured, insured and uninsured. In a major derivatives fiasco, derivative claimants could well grab all the collateral, leaving other claimants, public and private, holding the bag.
The article gets a bit chunky, but it’s worth slogging through.
To wrap up this post, if you were like me and heard about this thing called bitcoin, but didn’t feel like taking the time figure out what the hell the people making snarky tweets were referring to, this Mother Jones piece attempts to explain it.
I still don’t know. About any of it really.
Maybe a song would be nice. This one just popped up on shuffle as I was writing this post, and thinking about their two Missoula performances makes me smile.
by Pete Talbot
I’m convinced that the only reason I haven’t been appointed to a cabinet post is my wife’s unseemly past.
Take the case of Tracy Stone-Manning. She’s been nominated by Gov. Bullock to head Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality. Her husband, Dick Manning, wrote a book nearly a decade ago that apparently criticized certain modern agricultural practices.
Forget her qualifications for the job, her husband wrote something that offended some legislators (although I doubt they actually read the book).
I love this new litmus test being a part of the Bullock administration: let’s hold folks accountable for their spouses’ actions. Debbie Barrett (R-Dillon) certainly thinks it’s a good idea.
Maybe the husband/wife has a little problem with booze or pills: boot the nominee. Or maybe said spouse opened their kisser at the wrong time or penned a nasty letter to the editor. That’s certainly grounds for not getting appointed. I think we should do background checks on the spouses of everyone who holds public office.
For a Republican Senator, a resume isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Again, take Pat Williams’ nomination to the board of regents as a case in point. No, it’s all political now. Or in some cases, the politics of a spouse.
It can’t get much more petty than that.
(By the way, my wife has a pretty impeccable background. I, on the other hand … )
Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn has helped the gun control side of the gun debate by saying this in a video released this week:
America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?
Closing loopholes and strengthening background checks makes sense, and in some form will probably get passed. An incredible amount of political pressure has kept lawmakers focused on this issue, especially from victims who have lost loved ones from atrocities like Newtown.
Part of this discussion has included the need to increase access to mental health services. Here in Montana, that would mean passing medicaid expansion, something most state Republicans are still against:
In a dramatic turn of events Tuesday, a coalition of Senate Democrats and five Republicans resurrected and then narrowly endorsed a bill to expand Medicaid in Montana — but GOP senators supporting the move said they’re not for expansion.
Instead, they said they’re looking for a “Montana-made solution” to extend more affordable health coverage to the poor. The Medicaid expansion bill needs to stay alive as a possible vehicle for that solution, they said.
That legislative action—where 5 rational Republicans acted honorably to keep the chance to help 70,000 Montanans get access to health care alive—happened April 2nd, before all the drama last Friday.
That drama has been resolved, though in a manner that is understandably upsetting state Democrats:
Senate leaders said Wednesday that they reached a deal aimed at ending the acrimony stemming from the Republican majority’s decision to vote on bills despite Democrats’ attempts to halt the proceedings.
The two sides have been stewing since last Friday when the fight over parliamentary maneuvering stalled the Legislature for hours.
The standoff started with a missing senator that Democrats intended to use to invoke a rare move demanding every member is present before voting. The move could have killed GOP priority bills facing a procedural deadline. It culminated in a rowdy Senate floor session where Senate President Jeff Essmann ignored Democrats as they shouted and pounded on desks in an attempt to be recognized.
Afterward, Republicans alleged Democrats orchestrated the senator’s absence. Democrats complained the Republicans broke the rules by ignoring their motion and going on with the session.
Essmann said he has agreed to drop subpoenas investigating whether Democrats broke decorum rules. He and Senate Minority Leader Jon Sesso met for two hours a day earlier to sort out differences.
Democrats agreed to work the Republicans on legislation to overhaul the political practices office.
That measure, Senate Bill 387 from Sen. Debby Barrett, establishes a commission over the office and attempts to modify the way the commissioner is selected and improve the way campaign finance and other complaints are selected.
Essmann read a letter to the full Senate, which was also signed by Sesso, that focused on the actions of the Democrats.
“The minority acknowledges its role in the disruption of the decorum of the Senate … and I have been assured by Sen. Sesso that this will not happen again.”
Both sides agreed to drop the practice of pounding on desks to gain recognition and to limit disruptions.
The letter does not address grievances from Democrats that Essmann violated rules and the Montana Constitution, an allegation that argues the disputed GOP bills were illegally passed. Democrats have threatened the matter could end up in courts.
Jeff Essman is a despicable little weasel, that may be true, and this resolution is incredibly one-sided, also true, but like I’ve said, challenging Essman’s bullying disregard of rules in court probably won’t play well with average Montanans, especially when there is lots of work that still needs to get done.
Access to health care includes mental health services. Montana desperately needs to find a way to expand that access, and state legislators can provide that expansion for 70,000 people in this state. Hell, even Rick Scott finally saw the light and came out in support of medicaid expansion for Floridians.
We desperately need medicaid expansion to happen in Montana, so get to work in Helena, folks, because Montanans are depending on you to put aside the partisan drama in order to do what’s right for our state.
I believe rational conservatives exist. I believe, beyond labels, there are lots of good people out there who want to be helpful instead of hurtful.
Despite the truly sad display of fear behind the attempt of MT legislators to continue criminalizing consensual sex between two people with the same nether parts, younger conservatives who live in this new century are increasingly not going with it.
Here are a few tweets from Missoula councilman Adam Hertz:
It’s an absolute embarrassment to the State of MT that 38 members in the House would send someone to prison for being gay. #MTLeg #MTPol
So 36 members of the House, not 38. Two reps apparently read the Constutition between 1st & 2nd reading. Good for you two! #MTLeg #MTPol
Thousands of young, prospective Republicans will instead grow up to be Democrats thanks to 36 of you who voted no on SB 107. #MTLeg #MTPol
I commend Adam Hertz for speaking so frankly about the warped, unconstitutional reasoning behind keeping the criminalization of gay sex on the books. That last tweet is absolutely correct. Attracting young people into the party is made much more difficult with such cruel stances being taken by ignorant people.
I think it’s important to find and support rational conservatives. The conservative blogger that inspired this post may be one behind all the liberal/communist fear-mongering, but I remain skeptical, because of posts like this.
Evidence of participating in the echo chamber of right wing paranoia, this conservative blogger adds his voice to the noise being generated over a promotional spot for MSNBC featuring Melissa Harris-Perry. Because Communism. This is the offending language Harris-Perry used to expose her nefarious communist agenda:
“We have never invested in public education as much as we should have, because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children. Your kid is yours, and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of “These are our children”; so part of it is that we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it’s everybody’s responsibility and not just the household’s, then we start making better investments,” (Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC promotional video).
This ridiculous “controversy” that Rush Limbaugh is feeding with stupid allusions to communist genocide is the sad glue of fear being used to keep the broken GOP from further splintering.
I wonder if the right-wing noise makers would call Family Promise a communist endeavor. I mean, just look at this group’s mission: Building communities, strengthening lives. More specifically:
Our mission is to help homeless and low-income families achieve sustainable independence.
Here in Missoula, there are not a lot of resources for homeless families. Family Promise takes a collective approach to serving a huge need that our community is not adequately addressing. Does that make them communists?
While I believe rational conservatives exist, the loudest conservatives are often the most irrational. I wonder how many of those conservatives frothing at the mouth over the communism on display in Harris-Perry’s words simultaneously believe they have the right to impose their anti-abortion beliefs on others.
If we are to abandon the collective notion of kids, then we should abolish child abuse laws and disband child protective services state to state. Right?
Melissa Harris-Perry responded to the absurd controversy in a blog post. Here is part of it:
I believe wholeheartedly, and without apology, that we have a collective responsibility to the children of our communities even if we did not conceive and bear them. Of course, parents can and should raise their children with their own values. But they should be able to do so in a community that provides safe places to play, quality food to eat, terrific schools to attend, and economic opportunities to support them. No individual household can do that alone. We have to build that world together.
So those of you who were alarmed by the ad can relax. I have no designs on taking your children. Please keep your kids! But I understand the fear.
We do live in a nation where slaveholders took the infants from the arms of my foremothers and sold them for their own profit. We do live in a nation where the government snatched American Indian children from their families and “re-educated” them by forbidding them to speak their language and practice their traditions.
But that is not what I was talking about, and you know it.
I venture to say that anyone and everyone should know full well that my message in that ad was a call to see ourselves as connected to a larger whole. I don’t want your kids, but I want them to live in safe neighborhoods. I want them to learn in enriching and dynamic classrooms. I want them to be healthy and well and free from fear. I want them to grow up to agree or disagree with me or with you and to have all the freedom and tools they need to express what they believe.
And no hateful thing that you say to me or about me will ever change that I want those things for your children.
We have a situation in this country where 1 out of 4 children live in poverty. For the richest nation in the world, that is an absolutely shameful statistic.
Conservatives don’t want to talk about our collective responsibility to children. These irrational conservatives would rather talk about “personal responsibility” while cutting school lunch programs and head start programs and cutting government assistance if kids then get bad grades in school. That is insane.
I know there are rational conservatives out there and I wish they would be more vocal, because most of what we hear from the right is totally bonkers.
by Pete Talbot
There are lots of ways to interpret the news and write the story.
One version would say the Democrats “took a big gamble” when they tried to block a pair of bills.
Another might read:
Old, straight, paranoid white guys try to cling to power by suppressing the vote.
Guess which way Lee Newspapers’ Mike Dennison took?
Now I have a lot of respect for Dennison. He’s covered the Capitol and other statewide issues quite well for many years. He’d probably get into trouble with corporate (and Lord knows there aren’t a lot of jobs in journalism out there these days) if he wrote the lede that needs writing.
Because let’s face it, the Republicans in the Montana Legislature are, for the most part, a bunch of scared, intransigent, backward-thinking white guys (and a few women) who see the way the rest of the country is trending. And it’s not in their direction.
The Montana GOP could try to moderate its policy, be more inclusive and play the long game. Or it could attempt to keep young people, immigrants and the disenfranchised from voting.
It’s doing the latter.
So while I appreciate the mainstream media’s legislative coverage, I’ll look to the blogs for the ledes that cut to the chase.
After the Missoulian editorial board came out strongly for the Keystone pipeline, ExxonMobil experienced a little problem in Mayflower, Arkansas. This Alternet piece highlights the 14 things you need to know about why this pipeline spill is so horrifying. This first paragraph sets the tone:
Within a week of the ExxonMobil tar sands oil pipeline burst in Mayflower, Arkansas, ExxonMobil was in charge of the clean-up, the U.S. government had established a no-fly zone over the area, some 40 residents were starting their second week of evacuation, ExxonMobil was threatening to arrest reporters trying to cover the spill, and several homeowners had filed a class action lawsuit seeking damages from the world’s second-most-profitable corporation, which had helped keep the pipeline secret from terrorists.
Then in Houston, Texas, this happened:
While clean up continues on the Exxon oil spill in Arkansas, another oil pipeline burst was detected over the weekend – this time in Houston, Texas.
The Shell Oil owned pipeline burst was detected Friday by the US National Response Center and has dumped an estimated 30,000 gallons of oil into a waterway connected to the Gulf of Mexico (as if it needed any more oil dumped into it!).
If that’s too depressing, the Missoulian may be able to cheer you up with the brighter side of global climate change:
Climate change warnings tend to focus on the losers, but western Montana would come up a winery winner, according to a new scientific analysis of temperature trends.
“Winter temperatures have been a limit to vineyard growth in our state,” said Gary Tabor, director of the Center for Large Landscape Conservation in Bozeman and one of the co-authors of “Climate Change, Wine and Conservation” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “So as we see our temperatures not being as Montanan as before, we’re seeing the impact of climate change in how people look at agriculture. Folks in Oregon and Washington are looking at our vineyards here to expand production.”
Well, that’s it. If climate change means better conditions for vineyard expansion in Montana, let’s build that damn pipeline right now, ’cause my Bota Box is almost empty.
Maybe at this point I should remind folks oil companies don’t give a fuck about anything if it means making more money. That link is to a must read investigative look by Greg Palast at how BP’s Deepwater disaster may have been averted:
Three years ago this month, on the 20th of April, 2010, the BP Deepwater Horizondrilling rig blew itself to kingdom come.
Soon thereafter, a message came in to our office’s chief of investigations, Ms Badpenny, from a person I dare not name, who was floating somewhere in the Caspian Sea along the coast of Baku, Central Asia.
The source was in mortal fear he’d be identified – and with good reason. Once we agreed on a safe method of communication, he revealed this: 17 months before BP’sDeepwaterHorizonblew out and exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, another BP rig suffered an identical blow-out in the Caspian Sea.
Crucially, both the Gulf and Caspian Sea blow-outs had the same identical cause: the failure of the cement “plug”.
To prevent blow-outs, drilled wells must be capped with cement. BP insisted on lacing its cement with nitrogen gas – the same stuff used in laughing gas – because it speeds up drying.
Time is money, and mixing some nitrogen gas into the cement saves a lot of money.
However, because BP’s penny-pinching method is so damn dangerous, they are nearly alone in using it in deep, high-pressure offshore wells.
The reason: nitrogen gas can create gaps in the cement, allow methane gas to go up the borehole, fill the drilling platform with explosive gas – and boom, you’re dead.
So, when its Caspian Sea rig blew out in 2008, rather than change its ways, BP simply covered it up.
I don’t know if the lure of vineyards is enough for me to start gleefully supporting the Keystone pipeline, sorry Sherry. Especially after what this Montana farmer has to say:
Last year proved too dry. The year before — too wet. For Wade Sikorski of Fallon County, Mont., the years in which the weather is just right to grow food on his ranch seem to be increasingly few and far between.
“We go from one extreme to another,” said Sikorski. “With either extreme, I can’t produce anything.”
Sikorski sees climate change as a culprit, and the Keystone XL pipeline — which is slated to run within a couple miles of his ranch — as likely to make matters worse.
“There are a lot of safety issues with the pipeline itself. It could rupture and leak as it crosses farms and ranches,” he said. “But my main issue is climate change.”
I should note Sikorski is in the extreme minority in his community with his opposition to the pipeline. Jobs are jobs, even if temporary, and most folks want to cash-out whatever pocket change the oil cartels are willing to shake out.
If there is a vineyard boom, and the Montana Taverns Association is unable to keep the wine-tasting rooms from spreading, I hope the vineyard entrepreneurs pick clever names for their wine.
I doubt Climate Change Merlot will be one of them.
Though state Republicans are trying to out-do punching poor people (figuratively or course) with incredibly cruel legislation like this, I still kinda wish Mitt Romney won the election.
Before addressing the cognitive dissonance of that sentence, this is what Missouri Republicans want to do to poor kids:
Cookson is sponsoring House Bill 1040. It is short and self-explanatory: “School age children of welfare recipients must attend public school, unless physically disabled, at least ninety percent of the time in order to receive benefits.”
In other words, the responsibility for the family’s financial well-being would depend on a child’s school attendance. That’s a lot of responsibility to place on a first-grader with tonsillitis, or a middle-schooler with mononucleosis, or a high school kid with clinical depression.
While Republicans are openly attacking the poor in Missouri and Tennessee, Democrats take a different approach. They seem to prefer taking the poor gently by the hand and saying these cuts are for your own good.
I know DECISION 2012 is over, but if we could go back to that delightful time period before the presidential election, when Republicans were trying to get away with blatantly lying about Obama gutting the work requirements for welfare, I’d like to briefly explore why Democrats had very legitimate reasons to be upset.
The problem is those reasons have to be artfully articulated, and that’s because Democrats must be very careful how they talk about their support for neoliberal poor-bashing; it’s a much more delicate form of attack to employ.
At the DNC convention, for example, Bill Clinton couldn’t help including a bit of self-promotion in his speech when defending the deceitful attacks against Obama. And with the millions of people Clinton’s welfare reform shed, he had every reason to be indignant over the false depiction by Republicans.
Luckily the Democrat base exhibits a general inability to recognized policy failures by celebrities like Bill Clinton, though The Nation will still dutifully point out why Clinton’s welfare reform has been a failure.
I doubt Bill Clinton’s big donors would see welfare reform as a failure, though. And because Bill Clinton got his telecommunication act passed, allowing corporate media to further consolidate their market share of messaging, the poor have had even less visibility as the economic disparity continues to widen.
While Bill Clinton continues to cash in on his corporate servitude, former aides of Max Baucus are doing the same, according to this NYT article:
Restaurant chains like McDonald’s want to keep their lucrative tax credit for hiring veterans. Altria, the tobacco giant, wants to cut the corporate tax rate. And Sapphire Energy, a small alternative energy company, is determined to protect a tax incentive it believes could turn algae into a popular motor fuel.
To make their case as Congress prepares to debate a rewrite of the nation’s tax code, this diverse set of businesses has at least one strategy in common: they have retained firms that employ lobbyists who are former aides to Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which will have a crucial role in shaping any legislation.
No other lawmaker on Capitol Hill has such a sizable constellation of former aides working as tax lobbyists, representing blue-chip clients that include telecommunications businesses, oil companies, retailers and financial firms, according to an analysis by LegiStorm, an online database that tracks Congressional staff members and lobbying. At least 28 aides who have worked for Mr. Baucus, Democrat of Montana, since he became the committee chairman in 2001 have lobbied on tax issues during the Obama administration — more than any other current member of Congress, according to the analysis of lobbying filings performed for The New York Times.
While corporations purchase access to a political system absolutely corrupted by money, a bank in Georgia—SunTrust Bank—literally put edible food in dumpsters to keep it from going to poor Georgians who helped the storeowner clear his store after eviction. Here’s the local report:
Tuesday afternoon, hundreds of people were waiting outside of Laney Supermarket… all hoping to stuff garbage bags with free food. The merchandise was piled up outside of the building after the store owner was evicted early Tuesday morning. But before anyone could grab anything, the Sheriff showed up.
“The normal process is once law enforcement leaves, it becomes public property. But again, with 400 people out with items such as these. These were brand new items from the store. We saw that the potential for a riot was extremely high,” says Sheriff Richard Roundtree.
Zenard Pryor, a frequent shopper there, says that before deputies got there, he was helping the store owner remove items from the building.
“So he said, man you know, I’m fixing to get rid of all of this stuff, man, as long as you work, I ain’t got not money to pay you all and stuff, as long as you work, you can get anything that you see that you want. That’s what he said. So me and the dudes, we all get together and started working, cleaning up the building and stuff. We didn’t know that the Police were going to come in, and Roundtree are going to come in here and say throw everything in the trash. That’s wrong, man,” says Pryor.
Many of the people become angry when they realized the food being loaded up in dump trunks would be taken to a landfill.
“You could have took the food to the church, you could have took the food to the food bank, you could have took the food anywhere. You all just throwing the food away cause we hungry, we ain’t got nothing,” says Onlooker Cisro Wallace.
I hope churches are ready for the onslaught of need that is going to increasingly come knocking.
So, coming back to the first sentence of this post, in the midst of such cruel behavior by Republicans and bankers, why would I wish Mitt won the White House?
Because with Obama and Democrats like Max Baucus, the corporate consensus has its best shot at inflicting maximum pain on the tens of millions of people who desperately need what meager government assistance has been preserved from decades of attack.
Closer to home, I really hope the gamble of Montana Democrats last Friday hasn’t destroyed the slim chance of medicaid expansion happening for our state, because if it doesn’t happen, I think they will have to share some of the blame, or at least that is how Republicans will be able to spin it.
While same-day voter registration is critically important for a healthy democracy, and the top-two primary bill might cut into MT Dems libertarian ace-in-the-hole for big ticket races like Tester’s, I’m not sure watching how this plays out in court is going to benefit anyone from either party.
There is, despite the political polarization, a willingness to work for the broader betterment of Montanans. I was happy to see Adam Hertz, a Missoula councilperson, express his support for medicaid expansion on twitter, even though the context of the tweet contained criticism for how Democrats responded to Essman’s now infamous refusal to recognize the minority:
I’m 1 of the GOP who supports Medicaid exp but when I support something I use words & logic instead of tantrums #MTLeg
Montana Democrats pulled out all the stops to keep Republicans from eroding the electoral process in this state, even if doing so means blowing the chance to insure 70,000 people and adding 12,000 new jobs, and they are doing this while Obama leads Democrats into the economic doldrums of austerity with preemptive offerings of chained CPI and other spoils for the unaccountable ruling class.
Other legislative priorities that desperately need addressing include the “dismal” state of Montana’s public defender’s office. Failure to do so will almost guarantee lawsuits.
Same day voting matters as long as there are willing participants who want to engage in our political system. The way things are going, getting people to the voting booths will be an increasingly difficult sell.
Especially if you’re busy chasing dump trucks with perishable food items all the way to the landfill.
This week’s poem comes from Stephen Dunn, a poet I’ve featured before. I picked up his book of poems titled Landscape at the End of the Century (W. W. Norton, 1991) today at the Book Exchange. The book’s new home is behind glass doors in one of two new towering shelves I bought at Ikea while on vacation.
Ah, but vacation is over, and the poem is a sort of creepy thought profile of a sociopath. Enjoy!
WHAT THEY WANTED
They wanted me to tell the truth,
so I said I’d lived among them
for years, a spy,
but all that I wanted was love.
They said they couldn’t love a spy.
Couldn’t I tell them other truths?
I said I was emotionally bankrupt,
would turn any of them in for a kiss.
I told them how a kiss feels
when it’s especially undeserved;
I thought they’d understand.
They wanted me to say I was sorry,
so I told them I was sorry.
They didn’t like it that I laughed.
They asked what I’d seen them do,
and what I do with what I know.
I told them: find out who you are
before you die.
Tell us, they insisted, what you saw.
I saw the hawk kill a smaller bird.
I said life is one long leave-taking.
They wanted me to speak
like a journalist. I’ll try, I said
I told them I could depict the end
of the world, and my hand wouldn’t tremble.
I said nothing’s serious except destruction.
They wanted to help me then.
They wanted me to share with them,
that was the word they used, share.
I said it’s bad taste
to want to agree with many people.
I told them I’ve tried to give
as often as I’ve betrayed.
They wanted to know my superiors,
to whom did I report?
I told them I accounted to no one,
that each of us is his own punishment.
If I love you, one of them cried out,
what would you give up?
There were others before you,
I wanted to say, and you’d be the one
before someone else. Everything, I said.
I am proud of the Montana Democrats who stood loudly and proudly for their Montana Constitutional right to represent us – the people – on the floor of the Senate.
From Supermontanareporter John S. Adams:
Mike Dennison has and excellent step-by-step breakdown of what happened.
Montana GOP can claim Sen. Shannon Augare’s move a crap thing to do all they want, but at least he didn’t violate the Montana Constitution. There are rules to follow – and when the presiding member of a body fails to recognize the minority leader, then we’re talking about some serious concerns for free speech.
Plainly: Senate President Jeff Essman impeded the right of representation for those that elected the minority.
Theatrics? Short of breaking into fist fights, what were Dems to do when their right to speak on the floor of the Senate was ignored?
I thank Montana’s Senate Democrats for not taking this violation of democracy sitting down. And I also thank those in the galley who stood in support, even after Essman attempted to clear the galley of witnesses to the constitutional violations committed under both his leadership and his guidance.
Legislative Day 70 House Judiciary, chaired by Krazy Krayton Kerns, saw the tabling on a party line 12 to 8 vote of SB107 which would have removed from state law an unconstitutional and archaic law which criminalizes gay in Montana.
In the past, we’ve piled on the Montana GOP for its continued stance on criminalizing gay (read here and here for just two examples.
June of last year saw some changes – I thought – in the Montana GOP when they dropped the criminalization of gays from their platform.
But here we are back full circle – Groundhog Day for Gays, legislative day 2,593. Rolling out the Montana Taliban, religious deviants, bible distortionists and ignorants who confuse pedophilia with two grown adults acting as adults and twist the bible into a hate-filled text of paranoia.
Within minutes of tabling SB107 calls went out for blasting this bill onto the floor. This will be a one-shot deal. Some brave and articulate House representative will make a motion on the floor to bring the bill out of committee and on to second reading. The call will be for a full floor debate – the second reading. If a majority vote for that, then it would immediately go to second reading (and a third if passed without amendments, and then to the Governor for signature.)
Please contact your House legislators and tell them to blast and support SB107. I don’t think Republican legislators should be immune from calls, either. The front desk at the legislature can be reached at 406-444-4800.
I wonder: Will even ONE single Republic legislator in the House stand up for the Montana GOP platform? There are 61 of them there on the floor. Will all of them remain silent? And allow Krayton Kerns and his 11 other Republicans in the House Judiciary to once again label Montana Republicans as ignorant backwards xenophobes?
If no one on the GOP side takes a stand on this issue at this critical moment, Montana will know that the selection of that committee was made precisely to kill bills just like this.
I also hope when this is blasted, someone asks Rep. Krayton Kerns – on the floor – to explain the constitutional basis for his no vote in committee on SB107. I’d really love to hear him explain to Montana the constitutionality of criminalizing humanity.
This week I’ve been on vacation in Seattle, and while we’ve been spending our tourist dollars in Washington, the picture I took of an advertisement shows how Montana state money is being spent to lure tourist dollars in the opposite direction. The slogan, if you’re having a hard time reading it, is Step Out of Bounds.
Before Seattle, we stopped in Spokane to stay with my Grandmother. Two of my Aunts came to dinner, and after the polite small talk we got into work stories. My first Aunt sarcastically exclaimed how excited she was to get an extra month off this summer, unpaid of course. She is witnessing pre-school program cuts first hand, and it’s brutal. My second Aunt is a nurse treating inmates.
It was good catching up with family, despite how somber our conversations were.
I’ve done a decent job staying away from news feeds, mostly due to the round-the-clock surveillance required to keep two small kids from leaping off piers and hanging off hotel balconies.
One story that caught my attention was the legislation creeping through Tennessee’s state bowels to make state assistance for family’s contingent on school achievement.
I think Laura Beck at Jezebel strikes the right tone.
First, here’s what it does:
According to KnoxNews, Tennessee legislators are attempting to pass legislation to cut the welfare benefits of parents with children who don’t meet attendance and performance requirements. The bill, SB 132, is sponsored by Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, and Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, and has passed committees in both the House and Senate, and now heads to another House committee, and to the Senate floor for vote.
The state Department of Human Services originally opposed the bill, but then worked with Campfield and Knox to add exceptions for kids with disabilities (both physical and learning) or if parents take school-approved steps to attempt to improve the child’s progress.
And here is Beck’s reaction:
Just… wow. The levels of fucked on this bill are multiple; It’s almost impossible to think of something worse than this dystopian nightmare. It’s actively making it more difficult for poor families to survive — and it’s a double whammy for the children. For kids who are already struggling in school, they’re now threatened with affecting their family’s ability to survive.
You have an undiagnosed learning disability and you failed the tests? No dinner for you! You miss school because you have no way of getting there? Good job, selfish, now nobody in your family gets to eat. You didn’t get your homework done because you’re so fucking hungry and that’s all you can think about? CRY ME A RIVER.
And, of course, this only targets already financially struggling families. If you’re rich and your kid is doing shitty in school — who cares? You’re rich!
What people in this situation need are more resources, not less. What we should be doing is flooding these areas with assistance programs and funding, but instead, we’re threatening to take it away. The amount of money families on Welfare receive is barely enough for survival — and often, not even that — and to put the pressure on a CHILD to ensure what little they’re given is not reduced? It’s unconscionable.
Fuck this heartbreaking, stupid, regressive, piece of shit bill, and fuck every single member of the Tennessee legislature who votes for it. They should be the ones who have their salaries docked for even considering this insane nonsense.
It is insane. And as I traipse like a good tourist through the aquarium and the science center, which the kids absolutely loved, I can’t help thinking about all those kids who aren’t getting the same chances my kids are getting.
The long term cost of us failing children is huge. And austerity blowback is as predictable as it is sad.
April is a month for poetry. This coming Monday is April 1st. Last April I compiled a long list of links to all the poetry posts I had written up to that point. That number was 65. In the year since that compilation, I’ve add 44 more links.
Before that long list of links, a poem about March, because the cruelest month is still a few more days away. This poem is from Jim Harrison’s most recent collection, Songs of Unreason (Copper Canyon Press, 2011). Enjoy!
MARCH IN PATAGONIA, AZ
Some days in March are dark
and some altogether too glittery
and loud with birds. There is recent news
of ancient cosmic events that have lost
significance. I recognize the current
moon from Granada several years
ago, a big Spanish moon though here
it hangs over Mexico, shining on blood
and the music wandering lost in the air.
At the ranch starving cattle
bawl loudly in the drought.
For 109 poetry links, click here–> Continue Reading »
The Editorial Board of the Missoulian—Publisher Jim McGowan, Editor Sherry Devlin, and Opinion Editor Tyler Christensen—want Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
Though I have little doubt Obama’s state department will eventually do just that, it’s worth examining why our local editorial board decided to shill away their paper’s editorial voice supporting this disastrous project:
Eventually, President Barack Obama is going to have to make some sort of decision about the Keystone XL pipeline project. So far he’s managed to put off signing the presidential permit needed to move the project forward – and it looks like he has a little more time still.
But within the next couple of months, the U.S. State Department will complete its review of the environmental impact statement, and all signs point to an official recommendation to approve the pipeline. Obama should be ready to add his support for this important addition to the nation’s energy infrastructure.
First, I may need some help understanding something. How can a pipeline built by a foreign corporation for the ultimate goal of enriching its shareholders be construed as adding to America’s national energy infrastructure? Am I missing something?
Selling this mess to Americans hinges on carefully managing the cost/benefit perceptions of a public mostly removed from the negative impacts of building and maintaining an oil pipeline.
Before the obvious cheerleading about jobs, Baucus and “widespread” support is highlighted. Then, as weakly as possible, the “vocal opposition” is described:
Last Friday, the U.S. Senate made its position clear with a 62-37 vote in favor of the project. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., co-authored the nonbinding budget amendment in an attempt to send a strong message about the proposed pipeline’s significance. The Senate vote reflects widespread support for the project, including in Montana, notwithstanding a good deal of vocal opposition from opponents, including in Montana.
Some famous names have joined the movement to convince Obama to reject the permit application. Many environmentalists are concerned about potential oil spills. Some of them argue that the pipeline would result in increased greenhouse gas emissions. And, of course, in his recent State of the Union address, Obama all but ordered Congress to slow climate change by addressing greenhouse gas emissions.
After this meager effort, it becomes clear the writers of this editorial had to preserve their strength in order to heave out the following bit of salesmanship:
However, it’s a good bet that the majority of Montanans are in favor of the project. Certainly Montana’s entire congressional delegation is on board. They understand that the pipeline project will create thousands of new, good-paying jobs and prefer that the U.S. get its oil from its close neighbor and ally, Canada. They note that TransCanada has agreed to a strict set of conditions designed to avoid any environmental damage. Besides, the State Department has concluded that the project carries no significant risk of environmental harm – or of an increased rate of greenhouse gas emissions, given that development of Canada’s tar sands is expected to happen with or without the new pipeline.
The thousands of good paying new jobs, one of the biggest hyped benefits, are almost all temporary. A report in 2010 estimated that number was around 118,000 jobs. That number has since been cut in half, and the number of permanent jobs? According to a state department report: 35.
The State Department has just this week released a report which actually estimates a far lower number of jobs will be created by the Keystone XL pipeline. The one to two year construction phase of the pipeline will likely only create around 42,100 jobs, and this number would fall to just 35 permanent jobs in order to perform maintenance and inspections along the entire length.
A possible cost of a pipeline is the cost to humans, the environment, and the taxpayer pocketbook if a spill happens. Thank goodness there are “strict conditions” that TransCanada has agreed to. And the state department says “no significant risk of environmental harm”.
That certainly wasn’t what the Governor of Nebraska was saying back in August of 2011.
And then there’s that whole getting our oil fix from a friend instead of a foe. I have a different understanding of who friends and foes are, and for now I’ll just leave it at that, because there’s more editorial to consume.
But if it is approved, the Keystone XL pipeline extension would carry up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the Port of Morgan on the Montana-Canadian border, through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska to connect to an existing pipeline in Steel City, Neb., and eventually reach the Gulf Coast. This portion of the pipeline would cover nearly 900 miles and cost more than $3 billion.
TransCanada first forwarded the pipeline proposal in 2008; received Canadian approval just two years later. The U.S. portion of the project, meanwhile, is still under debate. Montana and South Dakota have both granted their approval; Nebraska recently signed on as well after TransCanada agreed to route the pipeline around environmentally sensitive areas.
On March 1, the State Department released its supplemental EIS. It is now conducting the 45-day public comment portion of this laborious and time-consuming process. Once this chapter of the Keystone XL pipeline saga has ended, Obama should finally close the book on it. He should go ahead and sign the permit.
Remember folks, TransCanada is going to sell this shit anyway to someone, so Obama should just get it over with. And honestly, he really needs to stop stringing along the hopeless hopefuls hoping Obama won’t do what us cynics now expect him to do, like protect Monsanto.
I guess this is just the fucked up world we live in, a world where a shilling editorial board pimps itself for oil while asshole MT Republicans kill 12,000 jobs and destroy the opportunity to insure 70,000 uninsured Montanans.
Thank the almighty lord I’m getting the hell out of town next week. I need a little vacation.
Major rumbling began maybe 2 weeks ago – a bill designed to kill Montana craft breweries as we know it. Lizard, though, I should point out, gave us the foreboding preview back in February with his The Politics of Beer post. HB616 has been put forth by Great Falls Rep. Roger Hagan at the request of the Montana Tavern Association.
The fiscal note has a pretty plain language summary of the bill. It does significantly change the licensing fee for breweries and it changes production limits such that virtually all current “small breweries” would then be reclassified with higher licensing costs, jumping from $200 to $100,000.
The hearing was held today in House Business & Labor. The room was packed, with proponents of the bill largely being bar and tavern owners. One proponent of this bill stood out – Big Sky Brewing located right here in Missoula.
Outcry began immediately – as is the way things go on twitter – and a petition was started calling for a boycott of Big Sky Brewing.
It’s a huge shame that Big Sky Brewing is siding with the loathsome Montana Tavern Association. Instead of positioning themselves to enhance and promote craft brewing here in Montana, they’re only concern is their own competition.
Beer is one industry where it is possible to grow, purchase and produce the finished product, maximizing economic output here in Montana – and creating a string of Montana jobs. The economic benefit of 100% value-added production is significant and something the Montana legislature should be encouraging.
This legislature can’t see fit to suspend the gas and oil tax holiday for the oil and gas corporations, yet they’ll hit up small craft brewers – some that are actually the conduits of economic development for small towns all over the state – for $100,000 licensing fees.
Ridiculous. Next time they talk about how unfriendly Montana is to business, they better look in the mirror at this one. A purely Montana industry and they’re doing the best they can to impede its growth.
Awful, terrible, constant death happens because of guns. Suicide death, murder death, accident death.
And for every action, like the North Hollywood Shootout of 1997, there is an equal and opposite reaction, like militarizing the police to keep pace with the streets.
In the 16 years since the North Hollywood shootout, a lot of bad things with guns have happened. The last one, the most incomprehensible one, is not producing the legislative action gun control advocates were hoping for.
While support for universal background checks polls close to 90%, states like Louisiana want to make it easier for felons to get guns:
A New Orleans judge ruled last Thursday that a law forbidding felons from owning firearms infringes their rights to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the state’s newly amended constitution.
Although Louisiana already had extremely permissive gun laws (and the second highest gun-murder rate in the country), last November voters overwhelmingly passed an initiative backed by the National Rifle Association that made gun ownership a fundamental right with the same levels of protection as the freedoms of religion and speech.
The amendment requires judges to review gun-control legislation using “strict scrutiny,” the most stringent standard of judicial review. In his decision, Judge Darryl Derbigny wrote that statute RS 14:95.1, which bars firearm ownership for people convicted of violent crimes, such as murder, assault, rape and battery, and certain misdemeanors, is “unconstitutional in its entirety.”
While that doesn’t seem like very sensible legislation (especially after the murder of Tom Clements in Colorado) reactionary legislation like this keeps moving forward. Why?
I recently read an interesting Mother Jones interview with Dan Baum, a self-described “weirdo” liberal who loves guns. This question and subsequent answer is worth thinking about:
MJ: The NRA and the gun lobby are opposed to almost all proposals regulating firearms. Do most average law-abiding gun owners share this hard-line mentality?
DB: I personally have met very few gun owners who oppose background checks. But very few of them, even the ones that don’t want an AR-15 with a 30-round magazine, believe that limiting the amount of rounds in a magazine is going to contribute materially to public safety. What worries them is being told you are not to be trusted with these things, and that is really offensive because gun owners derive a tremendous amount of pride from being able to live alongside very dangerous things, use them effectively, and not hurt anyone. When a politician or a pundit who obviously has very little experience or no experience with guns, like Charles Schumer or Dianne Feinstein, says to your ordinary gun owner, “You cant be trusted with more than 10-round magazine,” it really strikes the wrong chord. The bulge of the gun guys demographic is middle-aged, rural white men with some college, and that is a demographic that has been losing ground economically and culturally for the past 30 years. So along comes the NRA with an analysis: You want know why you’re so pissed off? Because the liberals want to take away your guns.
Universal background checks seems like a common sense, middle ground compromise, something heavily backed by the polling. Why not at least support that?
Besides, biometric palm scanners are not that far off, technologically speaking.
Something to look forward to?
American foreign policy continues to include the use of terrorism as a tactic to achieve its objectives on the global stage.
The dirty wars fought in latin America during the 70′s and 80′s—wars that put presidents in jail for their role—are being currently tried in a court in Argentina:
A Buenos Aires courthouse heard charges against 25 defendants accused of human rights abuses during the operation, which saw brutal dictatorships in the Southern Cone collude to kill an estimated 80,000 people in the 1970s and 1980s.
Among them were Jorge Videla, 87, and Reynaldo Bignone, 85, former de facto presidents during Argentina’s 1976-1983 military rule.
They are already serving life sentences for their role in the regime’s Dirty War against subversion.
America’s role in these wars is no secret. Operation Condor, for example, provided latin American death squads with weapons and US training, which they then used to terrorize civilian populations in order to suppress leftist movements from spreading.
American leaders who perpetuated these campaigns of terror were never held accountable, so instead of facing prison sentences for the evil utilized during this time period, the use of terrorism has become an established method of counter-insurgency.
Thanks in large part to Bradley Manning and wikileaks, the Guardian has exposed how one man—James Steele—was allowed to take his experiences in latin America to Iraq, where he trained Shia militias and helped them establish torture centers to fight the Sunni insurgency:
The Pentagon sent a US veteran of the “dirty wars” in Central America to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from insurgents. These units conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation and accelerated the country’s descent into full-scale civil war.
Colonel James Steele was a 58-year-old retired special forces veteran when he was nominated by Donald Rumsfeld to help organise the paramilitaries in an attempt to quell a Sunni insurgency, an investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic shows.
After the Pentagon lifted a ban on Shia militias joining the security forces, the special police commando (SPC) membership was increasingly drawn from violent Shia groups such as the Badr brigades.
A second special adviser, retired Colonel James H Coffman, worked alongside Steele in detention centres that were set up with millions of dollars of US funding.
Coffman reported directly to General David Petraeus, sent to Iraq in June 2004 to organise and train the new Iraqi security forces. Steele, who was in Iraq from 2003 to 2005, and returned to the country in 2006, reported directly to Rumsfeld.
The allegations, made by US and Iraqi witnesses in the Guardian/BBC documentary, implicate US advisers for the first time in the human rights abuses committed by the commandos. It is also the first time that Petraeus – who last November was forced to resign as director of the CIA after a sex scandal – has been linked through an adviser to this abuse.
There is an hour long video that goes into much greater detail, and it’s something everyone should take the time to watch.
Failure to understand how America has used terrorism in the past ensures it will continue to happen. And it does continue to happen.
In Syria, instead of empowering the Assad regime to kill its own people, American policy has been investing in the insurgency. It doesn’t seem to matter that the Syrian insurgency includes foreign jihadists who have no qualms about killing civilians in suicide bomb attacks. To get rid of Assad, the ends justify the means, and the means is supporting insurgent terrorism to destabilize the state.
One of the big challenges for the US has been establishing credible opposition leaders, but it appears they now have their man—Ghassan Hitto:
Ghassan Hitto, who was has been elected by Syria’s National Coalition to serve as the first prime minister of the country’s opposition, is a business executive who has lived in the US for decades.
Hitto’s election took place on March 18 in Turkey, which has been instrumental in backing Syria’s armed opposition.
Until last year, Hitto was a senior IT executive at a technology communications firm in Texas, with a role in local civic life, but largely focused on his job of more than a decade.
He has worked for high-tech and telecommunications companies for 25 years, 16 of which he spent in executive management roles.
But in November he abruptly quit his job “to join the ranks of the Syrian revolution”.
Not surprisingly, Hitto’s “election” has not unified the disparate factions of the Syrian opposition:
A dozen members of the Syrian opposition have frozen their membership of the rebel council that earlier this week picked Ghassan Hitto, a Syrian-born naturalized American, as an interim prime minister for rebel-held territory in the country.
The walkout underscores the monumental task facing the 50-year-old former IT executive in trying to unite the fractious rebels who for two years have battled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a civil war that has become more desperate and brutal with each passing day.
As the war in Syria rages on, the red line Obama established may have been crossed:
With the United Nations preparing to investigate claims of a chemical weapons attack in northern Syria this week, the question of whether chemical weapons were used overshadows the lingering nuance of who may have used them.
It’s not a small distinction. President Barack Obama has long said that Syrian government deployment of its substantial stores of chemical agents, including the nerve gases Sarin and VX, would cross a “red line,” and possibly lead to military measures. The administration has also warned that failing to secure the chemicals, and letting them fall into the hands of rebels or other non-state fighters in the two-year civil war, may also prompt an American response.
It doesn’t appear to matter which side may have used chemical agents; either way, the US can now claim the need to secure the chemical weapons.
To make America’s exporting of terrorism palatable to Americans, imposing regime change on Syria, like Libya, is framed as a humanitarian intervention. Anyone who believes that is being suckered by western propaganda.
America’s foreign policy is never about protecting civilians. It’s about power projection and resource competition. And when it comes to achieving its objectives, the ends always justify the means.
During my long-gone undergrad days at UM, the professor who most influenced my development as a poet was Joanna Klink, so I was delighted to read in the paper a few days ago that Joanna won the Letters Award in Literature. Congratulations Joanna!
My advocacy for poetry sometimes puts a target on me. Douglas Ernst, the conservative blogger I linked to in my previous post, took some shots at me recently. Though poetry certainly wasn’t the topic being discussed, it was included in Doug’s personal attacks against me for having the audacity to describe his blogging as partisan.
The post itself was another iteration of the conservative obsession with the debt. Using a tumor metaphor, Doug goes after Dick Durbin and liberals, at one point stating:
Liberals are masters at twisting and contorting language until people throw up their hands in frustration or simply go along with whatever definition they’ve come up with on that day.
Pointing out things like the corrupting influence of Wall Street on both parties is not something Doug likes to acknowledge, so when I bring up stuff like that, comments like this start flying:
I guess we’re all not as smart and wonderful as you. Science, Technology, Politics, Poetry (Where can I buy your award-winning poetry? Or are you another failed, angry and bitter artist?). You can do it all! But the world hasn’t properly rewarded you, I guess. So you go around bashing other people, making condescending comments, and generally just being a c**k.
In a later comment, Doug indicates it’s not poetry he despises, but liberal poetry taught by liberal professors in the dreaded liberal-infested college campus environment. After declaring Rage Against the Machine’s frontman, Zach De La Roca, is not a poet, Doug moves on to a broader attack on liberals and poetry:
There’s plenty to be said for Zack’s sad line breaks, or the cliche crutches that allow him to hobble through it all until the big “Do not be afraid” conclusion, but that’s for another time. Instead, I’d rather focus on the liberal reflex to substitute poetry and song for coherent public policy alternatives to the grievances they’ve worked themselves up into a drum circle over.
Years ago, when I was at USC, the anti-war movement was in full swing. I had college professors give extra credit for anti-war poetry and attendance to Michael Moore movie screenings. Students gathered on campus dressed in black for “die-ins”. (They represented dead civilians, perhaps the human shields that shilled for Saddam…) War was “wrong” under any circumstances. When asked about the culpability of brutal dictators who respond to challenges to their authority by wiping out entire villages—silence. When asked how one practices diplomacy with an adversary who starts the negotiation process with calls for the end of Western Civilization—silence. And yet, it is the conservative college student who is looked at as somehow lacking in the intellectual chops department.
I have news for our liberal friends: Not only do young conservatives have the intellectual goods, but there’s a few of us who can go toe-to-toe with you in the creative realm. Perhaps one day Zack De La Rocha and I will have a poetry smack down here in Washington, DC. Busboys and Poets, De La Roca? I’m game if you are. Mano-e-mano. I’ll even let Alan Colmes be one of the judges.
The liberal/conservative binary is a very narrow lens through which to view poetic expression.
That said, I think there’s an interesting dynamic exposed by this young conservative’s desire to engage culturally with the perceived liberal dominance of the performing arts.
Doug is representative of a generational shift happening among younger conservatives right now, especially conservatives with libertarian leanings. I think that’s been evident with the increasing reluctance of even establishment conservatives to fight the anti-libertarian sex wars against the LGBT community.
But there is also a lingering cultural insecurity it would seem among young conservatives like Doug.
It’s too bad his college experience in a poetry class resulted in so much personal disdain against what amounts to a liberal caricature of “anti-war poetry”.
The most powerful anti-war poetry, IMHO, comes from people who have actually experienced war. This isn’t the cliche, anti-war sentiment being expressed by liberal cartoon characters. It’s poems that come from poet’s like Brian Turner, who write lines like these:
The shocking blood of the men
forms an obscene art: a moustache, alone
on a sidewalk, a blistered hand’s gold ring
still shining, while a medic, Doc Lopez,
pauses to catch his breath, to blow it out
hard, so he might cup the left side of a girl’s face
in one hand, gently, before bandaging
the half gone missing.
(from Here, Bullet; Alice James Books, 2005)
Also, Carolyn Forché, herself a phenomenal poet, edited an anthology titled Against Forgetting: Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness. I think it’s one of the most important collections of poems that exists in the English language. It’s worth checking out.
Anyway, for this week’s poetry post, I would like to reproduce a poem by Douglas Ernst, titled “Model Student”. It can be read in the full context of his blog post by following the “liberal poetry” link. I think it’s a fine poem for being an undergrad poem (most of my stuff from the undergrad days are pretty terrible). Enjoy! Continue Reading »
Was anyone surprised to hear that former Griz football player Trumaine Johnson was arrested on a DUI last night? Probably not. The fact that he’s a NFL cornerback for the St. Louis Rams is whatt made it just a little out of the ordinary.
Only a little.
Reading the Missoulian report, it seems that Trumaine Johnson refused the breathalyzer.
Well now, I thought, “doesn’t he realize we get warrants now in this state when people do that?“
But as I read through the Missoulian’s report, it appears the City of Missoula Police merely cited former Griz player Trumaine Johnson for refusing the breath test, along with another citation for driving without headlights and the DUI charge.
Awww, isn’t that nice?
So Johnson will get off with some minor traffic tickets. No evidence for the DUI will make that a tough conviction.
I’m sure it was jet lag.
He was caught at Front and Owen. Which is St. Patrick’s Hospital property, and about 3 blocks from the Emergency Room entrance where blood tests are, I suspect, pretty easy to obtain.
Not only is Johnson getting special treatment from the City of Missoula PD, it looks like the NFL has already decided his fate – they’re gonna hit him up with a little dent in his beer money.
Real leadership failure all the way around. You wonder why we have situations like we have here and in Steubenville and scores of other communities? It’s a systemic failure.
One of those “it takes a village” moments.
Though supporters outnumbered opponents in the confirmation hearing for Pat Williams yesterday, it was who decided to stand up and oppose Pat that’s raising eyebrows—former Williams staffer and former UM vice president, Jim Foley.
For those who don’t remember things that happened a year ago, BOTH Pat Williams and Jim Foley were trying to downplay the rape scandal as it was developing last year. Jim’s repellant behavior was exposed thanks to a FOIA request, which produced e-mails detailing how Foley wanted to punish the alleged rape victim through the student conduct code:
University of Montana Vice President Jim Foley was so troubled by the student’s decision to talk about the school’s handling of her case that he sought to discipline her under the Student Code of Conduct.
“Is it not a violation of the student code of conduct for the woman to be publicly talking about the process and providing details about the conclusion?” Foley emailed then-Dean of Students Charles Couture in March.
Jim Foley got what he deserved for how he chose to play the PR game; he got fired.
And Pat Williams? Despite playing the same PR game last May with this remark printed in the NYT, Williams evolved his “knucklehead” depiction of UM football players to the now infamous “thug” depiction, which drew the ire of UM football worshipers.
I think it’s important to remember, especially for those supporting Williams for the Board of Regents, how Pat Williams tried to do EXACTLY what the rest of the old boys network was doing; damage control:
“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.”
If those who support Pat Williams want to make his political legacy the justification for his confirmation, what about this statement? What does it say that Pat’s instincts as this scandal was developing was to downplay the incredibly serious allegations by suggesting it was just a “few knuckleheaded students” responsible for scandalizing UM?
It’s too bad some people have such short memories. Montana’s University system needs a fresh perspective, one that prioritizes student safety over protecting athletics.
Is that too much to ask?
I have a hard time taking the Bloomberg soda war seriously, including the shrill shouts of TYRANNY from the conservative blogosphere.
Is the soda ban lubricating a slippery slope toward health-based Nazism? Hardly. It’s just another stupid nanny state swipe at the symptoms of a much deeper sickness.
I’ve been impressed with what can actually grab and sustain people’s attention in this country. The National Defense Authorization Act? Yawn. Limit how much soda I can have per order? TYRANTS!!! Walmart workers trying to unionize? Meh. Replacement Refs blow a call at the end of a football game? FREAK OUT!!!
There is actually an alarming example of tyranny on display, happening right now, but you won’t find it if you’re frothing at the mouth for a BIG GULP.
Today Mike Whitney reported on Rick Snyder’s coronation of Kevyn Orr as Detroit’s new “Emergency Financial Manager”:
Far-right Governor Rick Snyder has ignored Michigan voters and installed Washington DC attorney Kevyn Orr as Detroit’s emergency financial manager (EFM), a position that will give Orr sweeping powers to tear up labor contracts, slash pensions, cut public services, and privatize city-owned assets. From March 28–the date when Public Act 436 kicks in –Orr will make the decisions that would normally be decided by elected officials, primarily the mayor and the city council. In other words, Detroit will become the first city in the US to have its democratically-elected government replaced by a financial dictator.
When I first heard about this legislative madness getting passed in Michigan, I was aghast. How can any politician, from either party, go along with this?
It’s important to understand that a financial crisis, if it’s serious enough, creates fantastic opportunities for power grabs. Just look at how Europe’s sovereign debt crisis created opportunities for technocrats to grab power in Greece and Italy:
It is well established that incumbent parties tend to suffer electorally in tough economic times, and the recent period provides many examples. Elections in the UK, Ireland, Spain and Greece led to governing parties losing, catastrophically in the case of Ireland, merely disastrously in the cases of the UK and Spain. Elsewhere fringe nationalist parties such as True Finns in Finland or the New Flemish Alliance in Belgium made major gains. The only notable exception to this pattern is Germany, where Angela Merkel is the only major European leader to have survived a post-crisis election.
The sovereign debt crisis affecting the Eurozone periphery has taken this logic a stage further: in Greece and Italy, governments have fallen before they have had to face the electorate. The replacement of Papandreou by the unelected former ECB member Papademus followed Papandreou’s public commitment to a national referendum on the EU’s bailout proposal, a project vehemently opposed by the European ‘Troika’ (the EU, IMF, and the European Central Bank). In Italy, Berlusconi’s scandal-tainted reign in power ended as Italian bond yield spreads hit dangerous highs, and EU pressure helped force his resignation and replacement by former European Commissioner Mario Monti.
These episodes may appear to be a political innovation borne out of the need to address an unprecedented financial and economic crisis. This is only true in part. In fact, technocratic, non-partisan rulers fit in perfectly with the way in which European institutions for economic governance have been designed. The Maastricht Treaty laid down rules and created institutions which would remove a good part of the economic policy autonomy that national governments in the EU had previously enjoyed. Policies such as the size of the public deficit and the public debt, formerly the subject of intense political debate between national political parties, were to be subject to strict fiscal rules. Similarly, the creation of an independent European Central Bank with sole control over monetary policy marked the end of decades of political debate over the appropriate balance between price stability and employment.
The EU’s debt crisis has moved to a new level this week with the Cyprus experiment; an attempt to seize depositor money with an alleged one-off “tax”. If anyone is curious why this little Mediterranean Island has suddenly become so important, this Naked Capitalism post is a good place to start.
But for those who aren’t curious, and instead prefer gnashing teeth over soda bans, Bloomberg’s nanny state restriction on soda size is, IMHO, a very convenient distraction.
First they came for our BIG GULPS…
At 10 years since the launch of Operation Iraqi Liberation (to use the original name with the appropriate acronym, OIL) and over 22 years since Operation Desert Storm, there is little evidence that any significant number of people in the United States have a realistic idea of what our government has done to the people of Iraq, or of how these actions compare to other horrors of world history. A majority of Americans believe the war since 2003 has hurt the United States but benefitted Iraq. A plurality of Americans believe, not only that Iraqis should be grateful, but that Iraqis are in fact grateful.
Since 2011 the U.S. has been expanding the CIA’s role in Iraq as radical Syrian rebels threaten the border region, according to Adam Entous, Julian Barnes, and Siobhan Gorman of The Wall Street Journal.
Officals told WSJ that the agency provides support to Iraq’s Counterterrorism Service (CTS) — comprised of SWAT-like units and U.S.-trained Iraqi special forces — which reports directly to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Will we ever get it?
Some people, to feel better about themselves, will make fun of other people. This happens in politics as well. There is no better way to make yourself feel good about being a Democrat, for example, than focusing on how awful Republicans are.
At Intelligent Discontent last week, Don offered a post titled Your Week in Modern American Conservatism where he looks at what happens to the “hive-deluded mind at Fox News” when a progressive pundit—a black woman—makes an appearance to suggest that instead of telling women to arm and protect themselves from rapists, maybe, just maybe we should be telling men NOT TO RAPE. Not surprisingly the woman who dared to state this obvious point—Zerlina Maxwell—is now the target of malicious online attacks.
In the comments, I offered a solution that I thought a Democrat might be open to: kill all evil Republicans with drone strikes. When I asked if modern liberalism supports killing anyone, anywhere, at any time with drones, I got a numbered response from the Polish Wolf. Here is his 3rd and 4th points:
3. If anything, I prefer he do it with drones because at least a drone assassination is very hard to deny, and very hard to pin on ‘rogue elements’. When the president orders a drone strike, he takes personal responsibility for the outcome. That’s a big improvement over more traditional methods.
4. The reason liberals of your variety (I won’t even try to label them, because any label will be objectionable to you or to me) really oppose drones seems pretty simple: they lay bare the farce that is national sovereignty in the modern world. The idea that nations operate only inside their borders except in times of war has been absurd since at least the second world war and has never truly applied outside of Europe. But it is only the supposed violation of sovereignty that makes an American drone strike in Yemen any different than a Yemeni army action in Yemen with the same effect, or that makes providing weapons to a rebel group more frowned upon than providing weapons to a government. Since liberals o your sort cannot manage to come to terms with that, they must oppose the use of drones in warfare.
This issue is only beginning to gather steam. In my twitter feed this morning, I read a Reuters article titled As Drone Monopoly Frays, Obama Seeks Global Rules:
The United States was the first to use unmanned aircraft fitted with missiles to kill militant suspects in the years after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.
But other countries are catching up. China’s interest in unmanned aerial vehicles was displayed in November at an air show . According to state-run newspaper Global Times, China had considered conducting its first drone strike to kill a suspect in the 2011 murder of 13 Chinese sailors, but authorities decided they wanted the man alive so they could put him on trial.
“People say what’s going to happen when the Chinese and the Russians get this technology? The president is well aware of those concerns and wants to set the standard for the international community on these tools,” said Tommy Vietor, until earlier this month a White House spokesman.
Obama wants to set the standard for the international community on these tools? I’m guessing the idea of allowing China and Russia (or Iran) to kill anyone they define as an imminent threat, anywhere in the world at anytime, isn’t very palatable for the Obama administration. But what right does any politician from America have to suggest other countries can’t do exactly what we are doing?
Here’s a crazy fucking idea Mr. President: if you didn’t want other regimes to have the power to kill anyone they feel threatened by anywhere in the world, then you shouldn’t have brazenly expanded that power for yourself.
But Democrats and their online cheerleaders don’t want that conversation, and we won’t have that conversation as long as progressive bloggers like Don Pogreba keep focused on the worst examples of what he tries to broadly paint as “modern conservatism”.
If progressives could avoid the easy bait provided by a fractured, dysfunctional Republican Party, they might see other things more clearly as well, like how modern liberalism, aka neoliberalism, is positioned to attack entitlements, and the only thing in the way is Republican obstructionism.
The issue of chaining the Consumer Price Index (CPI), for example, is being described by Gene Sperling, one of Obama’s chief economic advisers, as Obama’s preference and not just some carrot to entice Republicans.
Will progressives mobilize against policies that will significantly hurt the most vulnerable in this country? If you’re John Stauber, who recently described the progressive movement as a PR front for rich Democrats, the answer is no.
And that’s too bad, because the neoliberal agenda is tantamount to economic warfare, and after years of in-debting and impoverishing the populations of other countries, it’s finally within reach of significantly slashing benefits here at home.
The selection of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope is bringing new scrutiny to the role of the Catholic Church in the dirty war that plagued Argentina and other Latin American countries in the 70′s.
Instead of examining Bergoglio’s role in the torturing and murdering of leftist dissidents and others who opposed the brutal, US-supported dictator, I’d like to take a look at the renegade Jesuit, Daniel Berrigan. For a quick bio, the youtube clip below is a good place to start. Then there’s a poem from Berrigan’s collection of poems titled Time Without Number (The Macmillan Company, 1957), a collection that won the Lamont Poetry Prize in 1957.
This is the body the seasons sold for money—
one by one they guarded and grew his frame:
we were hardly ready for him and he was ready.
This is the one.
These are the nettles sprung from sweating Cain.
Gather them up: they are holier far than flowers:
let us see the brow of the laborer glisten with them.
These are the thorns.
These are the coldiron embers of Lucifer:
these are the arrogant stars pushed out of heaven.
Then give him a handful of stars: heap stars at his feet.
These are the nails.
This is the prime redwood of all the world.
It is tougher and taller than he: it will swing him high:
it will hold him high forever if so we wish.
This is the cross.
I’ve been watching this bill – and goddess knows there are 300 bills far more important than this one – so I admittedly am “pimping the blog” here to rant, as briefly as possible, about SB114.
It ticks me off for the hypocrisy. For making absolutely no sense. For costing the taxpayers. For passing huge costs on to local governments. All this from a so-called conservative.
SB114 is a bill that would have the registration fee paid on a car go with the car when its sold. So if you sell your car and have 8 months left on the plates, that 8 months of registration is going to follow the car. And if you buy a used car that was registered in Montana, then you’d get whatever is left on that vehicle. If anything.
I watched Sen. Taylor in committee and on the floor of the senate on this one – and her logic is that most people in Montana buy used cars and only the people who buy new cars are going to get screwed, but they can afford a new car so that doesn’t matter. How this tea party, ALEC and agricultural subsidy-loving Senator Janna Taylor from up near Flathead thought that giving away the registration money paid by the seller to the buyer of the car (which could be a dealer or a private buyer) made sense is beyond me.
If I paid the registration fee, then why in the world couldn’t Sen. Taylor see fit to see that I get to keep whatever of that which I paid somehow in MY pocket, and not someone else’s?
That’s aside from the extra processing her scheme is going to require given that no matter what, a person has to register the car for title – and normally the plates and title are done at the same time. Now people will still have to do the registration and somehow tie the previous registration to the plates they’re going to use, and still yet after the time they somehow acquire on the used car they bought, they’ll have to come back and get tags – again!
Make your head spin? That’s ultra-conservative thinking for ya!
AND – and you knew there was even crazier crazy wrapped up in conservative Sen. Janna Taylor’s “great bill” – This bill is going to cost the taxpayers – i.e., reduce revenue – by over $11 million over the next four years.
In other words – the fiscal note on this is ugly.
Not only that – see that line there on the fiscal note about the reduction to county revenues? Well, the fiscal note is only analyzing the impact on the state’s general fund – not counties. So Janna’s taking a chunk out of counties. Counties around the state that all are struggling with keeping up with infrastructure repair and maintenance.
Oh – the votes on this are just as ugly, imo – in the senate, this ridiculous costly bill breezed with a final vote of 36 to 9 – meaning that a whole bunch of Democrats voted for this thing too.
Locally, Missoula’s Sen. Cliff Larson was happy to give away $11 million in state revenue over the next 4 years, and god knows what kind of impact to the local county coffers.
Do remember, people, that someone has to somehow pay for that revenue that they’re giving up……
What you have to just LOVE about this is Sen. Janna Taylor’s “rebuttal” of the legislative fiscal division’s fiscal note. It essentially amounts to this:
I disagree with the fiscal note because the note is mathematically correct given the limited information available, but did not consider common sense.
She goes on with specifics – like “The exact number is unavailable, but less than stated.” She also notes that different numbers have been used over the years – and cites this is an example of “the difficulty the Motor Vehicle Division of the Department of Justice and the Governor’s Office of Budget and Planning.”
Don’t get it? Neither do I – and that was verbatim.
Correction: Baucus challenger Rep. Champ Edmunds voted in support of Sen. Janna Taylor’s bill. Missoula’s “other” Republican, David “Doc” Moore voted against. All Missoula Democrats in the House voted No.
Bullock can’t sign this, unless he wants every county commissioner beating down on his door and sending hate mail. How any conservative can so freely spend $11,000,000 over the next 4 years in this environment, screw counties out of who know’s how much revenue – AND then take some of it directly from my pocket is mystifying.
Anyone who voted for this one should be embarrassed.
And seriously – don’t these guys and gals have more important things to take care of than to create a bureaucratic nightmare that’s going to double-hit taxpayers at the state purse AND the county?