Archive for October 24th, 2006

Maybe you saw it, maybe you didn’t, but Monica Lindeen and Representative Denny Rehberg assessed the situation in Iraq. When I saw these articles, I got pretty excited; after all, last time Rehberg left his views on Iraq, it was pretty durn bloggable.

I wasn’t disappointed this time, either.

Once again, our Representative urges us to “stay the course”:

Accomplishing this mission can, at times, be a frustratingly slow process, especially when our young men and women are in harm’s way. But our troops understand that the importance of this mission is worth traveling the difficult path to success. Our men and women in uniform are working side by side with the Iraqi security forces to bring stability to the country. Slowly but surely, the Iraqi army and police forces are taking the lead in providing security.

And just think, earlier in this piece, Rehberg claims to take pride in staying up on the issues! Considering that recent efforts to secure Baghdad have failed and even Bush is comparing Iraq to Vietnam, Rehberg’s position seems to be dangerously out of touch.

It gets better, of course. Take his attempt to make parallels between Iraq and WWII:

We must not allow the culture of criticism and pessimism to distract us from the main focus in Iraq. Iraq continues to be a central front in the war on terror. In World War II, our country lost a generation of Americans because our leadership saw a threat and did not react quickly enough. How much shorter could the war have been, how many fewer lives would have been lost, if America had acted swiftly against the looming threats posed by Japan, Germany and Italy? Unfortunately, Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor forced us to act. Today, we are in a similar situation in the war on terror. For far too long, we ignored the growing threat presented by terrorism. Sept. 11, 2001, forced us to rethink this threat. To ensure that we do not lose another generation of brave, young Americans, we must continue to fight terror wherever it resides and provide our soldiers the resources they need to carry out the tremendous job of keeping America safe.

I agree we didn’t take terrorism seriously enough before 9/11, but I’d also argue we’re not taking it seriously in 2006, either. I mean, why waste all this time in Iraq? Why craft heinous legislation intended to steal our civil rights first, “anti-terror” tactics that have no discernable effect in catching terrorists? “Staying the course” is the worst sort of time wasting: it means more unnecessary American and Iraqi deaths while ensuring the conditions in Iraq deteriorate.

But the biggest load of cr*p is this continuing effort to make the current war on terror the equal of WWII. If so, where’s our enemy state? If so, where’s the conventional army to fight? If so, why did we do the pre-emptive strike? Seriously, there’s no parallel to be made. In 1936, you had one of the most powerful states in the world with millions posed to expand its power. In 2001, you had a few thousand Islamic radicals scattered around the world. On September 12, these few thousands were extremely vulnerable with governments across the globe willing to give the United States a hand in destroying al Qaeda and other terrorist networks.

Most egregious is Rehberg’s claims he’s interested in the condition of the average soldier:

I am 100 percent committed to ensuring that our troops have the best equipment and resources they need to get the job done and return home safely.


We cannot forget that our obligation to our troops doesn’t end when they get back home.

Unfortunately for Rehberg, his voting record is available to the public.

Monica, on the other hand, cites the facts:

Over 2,700 American heroes have lost their lives – 70-plus in just the past two weeks. Twenty thousand have been wounded, and half of those injuries are critical. Over 600,000 Iraqi citizens have died. Sixteen U.S. intelligence agencies report that the war in Iraq has fueled terrorism and increased sectarian violence. Two billion dollars a week and almost half a trillion taxpayer dollars have been spent.Six out of 10 Iraqis say they approve of attacks on U.S. troops. Four of five say the U.S. military presence in Iraq provokes more violence than it prevents. An overwhelming majority, 70 percent, wants the Iraqi government to ask U.S. troops to leave within a year, and two-thirds favor an immediate withdrawal.

Boom! What more do you need to know?

The bottom line is that the current policy isn’t working. Rehberg has done nothing to speak up against President Bush and his policies. Nothing.

If the mission ever had a chance to be successful, the administration needed to use skillful diplomacy, needed to understand Iraq and its culture, and needed to rebuild a functional Iraqi society from within on Iraqi terms, and absoutely, positively needed to keep big US corporations out of the rebuilding process.

Guess what. The administration fouled up every diplomatic and political component of the war, and Montana Representative Denny Rehberg was there rubber-stamping Bush’s failed policy.

Posted by touchstone

Kos reads the profile of Jon Tester in The Weekly Standard, and is taken aback by its objectivity. He highlights some of the better passages, including one on the emerging Western Democrat, and found even the coverage of the Daily Kos’ involvement in the race to be thoughtful.

The post is definitely worth a read, especially after the ominous undertones in the recent Senate polls, which show Burns sneaking back into this thing. Kos, as usual, remains determined and upbeat. Take what he says about Montana’s local blogs:

The big omission in this piece is the work done by the Montana bloggers, which drove just about every bit of my coverage on this race. All successful Netroots efforts — be they Montana, Connecticut, Virginia, or anywhere else start at home, with activists on the ground. This site was the megaphone, amplifying the real work being done in Big Sky Country.

It’s nice to feel that all this blogging has an effect, but it’s also good to remind ourselves that it’s you, the reader, who applies our messages of urgency and activism into actuality through donation, volunteering, even water-cooler talk at work about the merits of Tester. That’s what it will take to win this thing, and I think we can if we continue to translate hope into action.

And what’s nicer to know is that insider pundits still see positive signs in the recent polls. Congressional Quarterly, for example, upgraded the Senate race from “No Clear Favorite” to “Leans Democratic,” a shift whose lateness reflects the periodical’s conservative approach to forecasting, and whose timeliness should give everybody renewed hope.

Remember, these last weeks are when undecideds and the politically disinterested will be making their decision. Let’s be there with our message when they do.

We can win this thing. We will win this thing.

–Posted by touchstone


Grist reports on what climate scientists have learned from Western wildfires: warmer temperatures mean earlier snowmelt, which provides a “’tipping point’ for wildfire activity.”

Kevin Drum weighs in on the regulatory-takings initiatives across the country (akin to Montana’s CI 154): “A simple anti-Kelo initiative might have had a chance of passing. But trying to prevent the government from ever enacting legislation that might have an economic effect on property owners? Not so much.”

The Montana Senate race tightens. Time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

The WSJ geniuses note that Tester and Burns are fighting for the political center.

The Christian Science Monitor on the Senate race: “A Yen for Change?” Standard fare.

Meanwhile, Paul West of The Baltimore Sun claims that the Abramoff scandal does matter in the Montana Senate race.

Scott has the latest attack flyer on Tester: it’s groovy, dude!

Speaking of groovy, Barak Obama will stump for Tester tomorrow.

Dep’t of irony: Wyoming Republican threatens to slap a disabled Libertarian for questioning her ethics. Rankin urges Cubin to resign.

The Washington Post covers the Idaho 1st District race.

And today Kossak mcjoan is liveblogging with Larry Grant.

German ex-chancellor Schroeder was unnerved by Bush’s constant references to God in their talks: “’Anyone who tries to legitimize political decisions that way (in dialogue with God) simply cannot allow these decisions to be changed through criticism or an exchange of ideas. Because if you do, you then breach the mission from God,’ Schroeder wrote.”

Who’s creating propaganda for the terrorists? CNN or the RNC? You decide!

Olbermann on the GOP’s penchant for using fear as a campaign tool.

Is that why the Bush administration was rooting for a successful nuclear test by North Korea?

Dep’t of sc*mbags: Rush Limbaugh accuses Michael J. Fox of faking his condition for a commercial touting stem cell research and Missouri Democratic Senate candidate Clair McHaskill. Jonathan Cohn actually fact checks and confirms that Limbaugh is full of sh*t. Had enough?

The GOP is using race and sex to attack African-American Democratic Senate candidate Harold Ford. Had enough?

Digby has a round-up of 2006 GOP tactics that says it all.

Steve Benen succinctly explains why the “booming economy” isn’t affecting the outlook of Americans: “Wages are awful, bankruptcies are up, debt is skyrocketing, Americans are working more for less, employment insecurity is everywhere, health care costs are hard to keep up with, and unions and bargaining power are in decline.”

Enron executive Jeffrey K. Skilling is sentenced to 24 years in prison! Too harsh? Not on your life…

The GAO opines that abstinence-only education should include accurate information about the effectiveness of condoms. To date, these conservative religious groups tell high school kids that condoms aren’t effective against STDs. Had enough?

Conservatives attack Clint Eastwood for “Flags of Our Fathers.”

Latinos abandon the GOP in droves because of paleo-conservative rhetoric. Oops.

Sour grapes from a New York paper? Or is Kenny Rogers doctoring the ball?

Who knew Paris could be so traumatic?

Maybe the best story ever about diapers that doesn’t involve feces.

Montana’s 1972 constitution is just packed full of interesting provisions–the right to a clean and healthful environment, the right to privacy, or, my favorite, the right to know (“No person shall be deprived of the right to examine documents or to observe the deliberations of all public bodies or agencies of state government and its subdivisions.”).

One unique provision of the constitution allows a city or county to elect, at ten year intervals, a commission to study the form and powers of the government. Sort of like a minature constutuional convention on the local scale, shorn of the powdered wigs and knickers.

In Missoula, both the city and the county elected to have one of these local government study commissions (LGSC) back in 2003. In 2004, the voters picked seven candidates each from two lists of names that I’ll admit to not recognizing a single one of by way of a disclaimer for some of their behavior. And by late 2004, the LGSCs were off on their mission of hearing why people elected to study government and what they want to change. The results are a list of measures on the ballot for next Tuesday.

I followed the LGSCs closer than most people since I’m interested in structural change to political systems and how it can be accomplished. I was just tickled to think I could see it happen in my hometown. Over the next week, I aim to introduce the measures on the ballot along with whatever background info I can give from my observation of the process. As you’ll see, I have strong opinions on some of them and still haven’t made my mind up on others. So maybe some of the locals will have a piece to say.

Oh, and while I’m speaking about bringing up some local Missoula issues, tonight’s the beginning of the West Broadway Charrette process; that’s going to build some kind of consensus about that wide strip of asphalt cleaving one side of downtown Missoula from another. On Thursday, the city takes a look at Russell and Third streets, a topic dear to the blog host (and near to his home). These meetings won’t be your last chance to have a say on what these roads look like but there’s nothing like getting in on the ground floor to make public policy a real romp.

To people embroiled in debate over the great political questions of our day–inequality, civil liberties, perverts in Congress–what shape a road takes might seem like a pretty piddling matter. Well, it’s not. And there are two reasons you should care.

The first is what one of my teachers (Ever notice how students might get a degree but somehow teachers always stay teachers?) calls the Churchill principle: “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.” The design of a road matters concretely to the quality of life of people as they live it everyday. Build a road designed for big rigs and high volumes and that’s what you’ll get–along with bare sidewalks, occassionally pancaked pedestrians and demand for more big roads. Build a road that’s good for cars and for everything else that could use it and you’ll wind up with not just a better driving experience but also a place that invites people into it. That’s good for commerce. More important, it’s good for community.

People who see each other on sidewalks and bikes interact with one another differently than people sealed inside cars. Building roads that encourage people to leave their cars allows people to see one another as fellow travellers and not just boxy metal impediments to commuting quicker. Believe me, it changes people’s attitudes. I can tell a few stories on that score.

But I promised two reasons you should care about the meeting and I want to get back to it. So, number two, you can make a difference just by showing up. Seriously, there will be maybe one hundred people tops at the meeting tonight and, likely, even fewer on Thursday. So already, you’re one percent of the vote. Not that there will be any voting but there will be plenty of chance to be heard. And that’s hardly like bumping up against billion-dollar corporations and national party machines to have a say.

So, take a moment, my politically-immersed companions, and let the windmills alone for a minute. Your city is making policy.

–Posted by readbetween

I’ve tricked, er, recruited a good friend to blog here at 4&20 blackbirds. He’s real stubborn, loaded with original ideas, and comes with a genius streak.

Read Between will fill a huge gap in this blog and start writing mainly about issues here in Missoula. There’s a lot of important legislation coming up on the November ballot, issues of open space and changing government. And of course there are always controversies raging around development.

I’m thrilled to have him blogging here: hopefully he’ll add to the content and environment of the site.

So, welcome, Mr. Read Between!

The Big Sky Democrats are hosting a fundraiser today in Missoula at the Iron Horse Pub. Matt’s going. I’ll be there, too. Any why not? Good booze, food, company, and a chance to hobnob with our next Senator.

Where: Iron Horse Pub, 501 Lounge, 501 N. Higgins, Missoula.

When: Tuesday, October 24, 5 – 7 pm.

Suggested donation: $25.

Check out the Big Sky Dem link for more information.

I’d figure I’d blog a little about the event. So if you have any questions for the good farmer, post ‘em in the comments, and I’ll pass ‘em on to Jon.

This is your big chance to meet Tester and a couple of Montana’s finest political instigators! Come on down and rub elbows with us!

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