Archive for July 5th, 2006


Newshog has a post up concerning the administration’s dictatorial ambitions. It’s a question that I think about often, even when I go see a d*mn summer action flick. I will say that the single issue that has driven me from “normal life” into blogging and politics has been the Bush administration’s repeated attacks on our civil liberties.

I’m not saying Bush has dictatorial ambition. He could simply be misguided, or ignorant of American law. He could have good intentions and poor execution. But if Bush does not have dictatorial ambitions, his clumsy and arrogant extension of power has opened the door for folks who do. There’s no quibbling with that, even if you harbor the fantasy that there’s an actual legal basis for some of his moves.

(Ultimately I’m with Tester who says of the Patriot Act that it “punishes” honest American citizens first and foremost.)

Anyhoo, here’s the quote I wanted to highlight from that Newshound post:

No people ever recognise their dictator in advance. He never stands for election on the platform of dictatorship. He always represents himself as the instrument of Incorporated National Will….When our dictator turns up, you can depend on it that he will be one of the boys, and he will stand for everything traditionally American. And nobody will ever say “Heil” to him, nor will they call him “Fuhrer” or “Duce”. But they will greet him with one great big universal, democratic, sheeplike bleat of “Okay, Chief!”

Journalist Dorothy Thompson said – wrote? – that in 1935. And she should know, having been expelled from Nazi Germany in 1934. (That’s right, the lederhosen were the German equivalent of the cowboy hat.)

My point is directed at conservative supporters of Bush: it’s the guy you like you should worry about. It’s harder to distrust them.

Sirota has an excellent post up about Klein’s Time column celebrating the populist movement behind Jon Tester. In it, he dredges up some past columns by Klein disparaging populism. That’s right…he was against populism before he was for it.

Some of the juicier quotes:

“Populism has been a very negative force in this country’s history, throughout much of the populist era. Often it turns to a kind of nativist turning-in, away from the world.”


“Populism is one of the more romantic and less admirable American political traditions. It purports to represent the interests of the little guy ‘the people,’ not the powerful, to use the Shrum-Gore bumper sticker ‘but more often than not it has manifested itself as a witlessly reactionary bundle of prejudices: nativist, protectionist, isolationist, and paranoid.’

Great stuff, really. Sirota thinks that Klein is jumping on Tester’s bandwagon to get out ahead of the newly emergent political curve, so he can appear to be “introducing” Schweitzer and Tester to the world.

I tend to think that Klein romanticizes the “little” guy, the ordinary stiff from dryland America, and that previous populist movements were suburban-driven hate-fests. (See the recent anti-immigration movement.) A Montana populist embodying the highest qualities of the Republic – hard-working farmer joe with missing fingers, an affinity for the First Amendment, and a fightin’ spirit – seems to fit Klein’s ideological ideals.

Whatever. If the old saw, “even pad press is good press,” is true, then it must follow that good press is d*mn good.

In any case, I’ll take solace in Klein’s admiration next time I catch myself drinking a latte with a French avant-garde novel in my hand: instead of rushing out with a shotgun to shoot some critturs, I’ll just remember Klein’s column and know I’m a salt-of-the-earth God-fearin’ Montany boy and continue on Frenchifyin’ myself.

Jumbo fire update

The fire on Mount Jumbo is girdling the mountain, headed east with a stiff wind coming out of Hellgate canyon. My building llies on the other side of the Interstate from where the fire licks the grass on the slope above; there’s a small crowd outside gawking at the fire, and the helicopter and planes dropping water and retardant. There’s also a string of firefighters on the hill trailing the fire, apparently extinguishing the smoldering wake.

I got some pics with my camera phone. They’re pretty low quality, you can’t even make out the firefighters in them. But they should give you an idea of how close the fire is and how far it’s spreading.

This is a pic of the fire on the slope.

Here’s one of a plane dropping retardant on the fire.

Yes, those cars are in the building’s parking lot.


While Burns may have backpedaled on the Rocky Mountain Front because of election-day pressure, Rehberg shows us he’s still in thrall to corporate interests.

Tax cuts losing their sex appeal? Apparently voters are more interested in fiscal restraint. Too bad for Burns.

Fourth of July thoughts. Progressives believe “the true genius of America has always been its capacity for self-correction.” John Kerry: “Patriotism also means dissent — when it’s hardest.” (Via Crooks and Liars.)

Right-wing Christians and Stop the ACLU drive a Jewish family out of town because they dared protest a local school board’s aggressive promotion of Christianity. And an Arizona Republican Congressman has revived pro-Nazi Henry Ford’s anti-Semitic “Americanism” as a basis for anti-immigration rhetoric. Those that think anti-Semitism is coming from the left are living in a fantasy world.

Torture maven and executive power supporter, John Yoo, is also living in a fantasy world. Yoo on the recent SCOTUS Hamdan decision: “”What the court is doing is attempting to suppress creative thinking…” Yeah, and stealing someone’s tv is a “creative” way to acquire electronics.

The military to allocate resources to monitor blogs. Why? “Our research goal is to provide the warfighter with a kind of information radar to better understand the information battlespace.” My guess is it’s because of all the naughty things we write about the government.

Bush told Cheney to go after Wilson. Surprise! You still want to hand the power of warrantless wiretapping to this man?

Firedoglake on Lieberman: “Screwing the Party, one Democrat at a time.”

Connecticut bloggers display a float in yesterday’s parade…

Applying game theory to soccer’s penalty kicks.

The other day Ed Kemmick brought up the topic of Billings’ ban on fireworks inside city limits, which he supported, mainly because of his dog’s aversion to loud noise. The post got some heated replies – as expected in Montana whenever someone lauds a law that criminalizes anything involving gunpowder – most notably from blogger Justin.

I don’t mean to pick on Ed so bad, the comments on his post are living proof that he’s not the only freedom hating old busybody in town that’s so fragile as to not be able to tolerate a couple pops and cracks in the name of this once wonderful country we call the United States of America, but come on man, you’re a somewhat respected journalist, you don’t have to stand up and applaud the communist b[*]stards in the name of your friggin dog for Christ’s sake.[snip]

In response to all of these people that I’m sure will fire back at me here and on Ed’s blog with a whole shitload of statistics and horror stories and whatever other reasons they can muster to justify their own positions in direct opposition to freedom whether it involves fireworks or seatbelts or cigarettes or helmets or open containers of alcoholic beverages, I’d like to ask you this.

When was the last time that your, that’s your own, not your cousin in Cincinnati, not somebody that you saw on Oprah, not your cousin’s stepsister’s uncle’s former roommate’s, but your very own house got burned down because of somebody horsing around with fireworks?


If I were to ever see entire blocks of our fair city ablaze on the morning of the 5th of July, perhaps then I would consider this to be a just and forthright law. Until then I’ll consider it nothing but the extremely loud whining of a handful of babies that managed to get their way simply because the city spied a potential source of revenue in the form of fines.

It’s hard to argue with logic like this. The dude has a point.

Except…some kids nearly burned down the Billings Zoo with fireworks, and I woke up this morning to find Missoula’s Mount Jumbo on fire – set by fireworks claim the rumors and buzz circling town – which so far has burned 175 acres and threatened eight “structures”…

To be fair to the accidental arsonists on Jumbo, it is outside of city limits and free from Missoula’s ban on fireworks (which nobody abided by anyway), so it was probably perfectly legal…still with temperatures in the 90s, and some winds blowing down Hellgate, Justin’s apocalyptic fantasy is a possibility, though admittedly a faint one.

I admit I sat out on my porch swing last night, family asleep by their fans upstairs, watching the fireworks all over my neighborhood, thinking, you know, maybe Justin has a point – it’s loud and annoying, but it’s the Fourth and who gives a d*mn? I had a helluva day – a morning swim in the Blackfoot, an afternoon barbecue with the kids entertained by a trampoline and a slip-n-slide – and was feeling pretty good despite the sweltering heat and the dried-out feeling you get after spending the day in the sun.

Then again all it takes is one drunk moron with a bottle rocket to burn down a mountain.

Are fireworks worth a mountain?

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