Archive for November 28th, 2006


Montana Democratic legislators pick their leaders, too: in the senate it’s Helena’s Mike Cooney as President and Missoula’s Carol Williams as majority leader; in the House it’s Great Falls’ John Parker as leader and Butte’s Art Noonan as majority leader.

Jeff Mangan weighs in on Sales’ selection to a leadership role: first, he thinks it might have been too soon to make a decision; next, he like me, thinks Sales’ selection will actually benefit the Democratic party.

The PSC5 race is going to undergo a recount. Ken Toole needs help in overseeing the count. Follow the link to Matt’s site for more details on how you can help.

The Helena IR likes the Good Guv’s proposal to buy new park land for fishing.

Congressional Quarterly has a nice synopsis of the key 2006 Senate results, including Tester’s Montana pickup.

Jon Tester is hiring!

The Montana Chamber of Commerce surveyed its members and discovered that a majority supported at least one form of sales tax! Of course, the question implied that a sales tax would ease income or property taxes.

New West reports on the Montana and Wyoming legislative activity surrounding an expected population boom around upcoming coal projects.

Sun Valley councilman Nils Ribi participates in a discussion about Idaho’s regulatory takings initiative, Propisition 2.

The sign of the Apocalypse? Not only is Montana Jones a girl, she’s from Canada!

Wulfgar! encounters his buck, but misses. A good hunting yarn.

Barney Frank corrects Chris Wallace’s line of questioning: “…you have an odd view of balance.” I’m glad to see Democrats challenge the media’s cliché left bashing.

At a banquet honoring those that stood up for First Amendment rights, Newt Gingrich says a “different set of rules” may be needed to combat terror. Classy and dangerous.

A direct link between mental illness and supporting President Bush is found.

The Boston Globe features a scathing look at our power-hungry and secretive Vice President.

But I guess the VP isn’t powerful enough to ignore a summons from a Saudi crown prince: he had to go and do some ‘splainin’ about Iraq.

Meanwhile Cheney – and Halliburton – is being investigated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

That could be why CQ’s Craig Crawford thinks Cheney will resign. If so, there goes Bush’s impeachment insurance.

Tom Tancredo: Miami is a third-world country.

The Pensito Review has collected some of the posts of Iraqi bloggers to give you an idea of what it’s like in Baghdad right now.

BoingBoing has a link to videos of some incredibly inappropriate behavior by US soldiers towards Iraqis. So much for hearts and minds.

Joshua Micah Marshall can’t even muster outrage over Limbaugh’s most recent idiotic tirade: “It’s like talking to a five-year-old with behavior problems.”

Jon Stewart mocks the battle of terminology surrounding Iraq.

Meanwhile, NATO is running short of the troops needed to battle the Taliban.

A woman hangs a peace wreath on her house and endures the wrath of her neighbors. Um…very Christmasy. Especially the accusation that the wreath is the symbol of Satan. (Here’s a follow-up from the Denver Post on the support the peace-monger is getting nationwide.)

by Jay Stevens 

The notorious Mark T pointed this out on the new Montana Netroots blog, but Republican state senator Dan McGee (Laurel) is planning on introducing new legislation that would force a public official to stand for reelection after switching political parties.

Mark thinks this has to do with Sam Kitzenberg’s switch to the Democratic party. So do I.

I’d add that it’s another example of the Montana Republicans’ inability to intellectually or strategically deal with the changing political landscape in the state.

This legislation is a bad idea. First, it’s confrontational, childish, and bitter. (Which, I admit, may be the new strategy of the Montana GOP.) Maybe it’s just me, but I think making politics more negative, divisive, and partisan after an election in which voters expressed violent disdain for negativity and divisive partisanship is self-defeating to say the least.

Would the bill also affect those legislators who caucus with another party? Like the Constitution Party’s Rick Jore who’s planning on voting with the GOP in the 2007 session? If not, the bill would seem hypocritical. After all, Jore’s constituents voted for him in large part because he isn’t a Republican. How would do they like it he’s become a CINO (pronounced chee-no; “Constitutionalist in name only”)?

Add to that the fact that this bill could very well come to haunt the Republican party in the future – what if a Democratic legislator wants to switch parties next session? – and this stunt is a very poor tactical maneuver.

The only possible reason I could see for this bill is to discourage more Republicans from jumping ship. Seriously, why else would you write something like this? And based on Sales’ recent bullying comments towards his own party member, Corey Stapleton, over education funding (“Sales dismissed the idea of putting more money in higher education, saying ‘I think Corey and I are going to have to have a conversation’”), that’s probably a genuine concern. How many moderate Republicans are going to chafe at their party’s new obstructionist tactics? Opposition to education funding and a property tax rebate?

While I admit I’m happy to see the Montana GOP self-destruct, it’s going to mean an ugly, ugly session in 2007. I’m not looking forward to that, even if it means that the Republican party is going to alienate the state’s voters and leave itself in the hands of a few bitter partisan extremists.

Update: I just saw this over at Matt’s but McGee has also drafted legislation that would overturn the recently passed ballot initiative increasing the waiting period that legislators must endure before becoming lobbyists.

What can I say? He wants to overturn the will of Montana voters and roll back lobbying reform? The snarks write themselves.

by readbetween

I’m glad you brought up the the SHEC burglary, Jay, because the story has been on my mind. Frankly, when I read about SHEC making up gift baskets for the burglars I didn’t think, well golly, that’s just terrific.

Of course, I appreciate the impulse: do kindness in return for offense and thereby be an example of Christian charity. But showering the miscreants with material goods struck me as facile, resorting for expression of spiritual sentiment to the same materialistic culture that conservative Christianity uses as a rhetorical foil for its portentously rebellious contemporary incarnation. That’s fine–better to do clumsy works with good intentions than indulge self-righteous vengeance.

However, SHEC behaved with considerably less compassion in my experience when I presented them with the opportunity to feel some. In June, in the Missoula Independent, I profiled J.C. Nouveaux, a local woman who makes her living as a prostitute. Lots of people didn’t like it. Among them, first among them, was Pastor Erbele of SHEC, who came by the office as soon as the paper hit the stands.

What followed his visit (which I missed since I was out of the office) was a stream of correspondence from SHEC members that ranged from marmish scolding to dunderheaded entreaties to save the children–many from the children themselves, seemingly introduced to the article by their church. The concerns expressed in the letters were, in my opinion at least, ably parried by the editor in an ensuing editorial.

As for me, well, I wasn’t particularly surprised that the church on the hill and its members took offense. There’s a strong strain of nostalgia for a time that never was that runs through the consciousness of most fundamentalists, whether inclined to Christianity or the Caliphate, and reading about the life of a prostitute in their home town–not even so much what she does as the stories she tells herself to make it okay–well, there’s plenty in there that a worldview based primarily on revelation rather than evidence won’t accommodate.

Of course, I did think it was a little bit incongruous to get so much guff from purported followers of Jesus for supping with a prostitute, seeing as how accepting and understanding others is what made Jesus rebellious. But considering how much rigid sanctimony the moral values crowd conducts itself with these days, I wasn’t surprised to see some local Christians cast themselves in the role of those concerned more about public displays of fealty to moral prescriptions than the emotional postures that properly complement agape.

So now, in light of the burglary and SHEC’s response, I’m left wondering just what the metric is for determining who deserves an ostentatious display of compassion and who gets the shock-and-outrage carpet bombing.

Here’s a theory, anyway. The burglary was an offense against property and something personally felt by churchgoers while the article offended their sensibilities and required some emotional effort to comprehend. Lacking the necessary moral imagination to feel compassion for J.C., the subject of the story, Erbele and his flock reacted with indignation rather than understanding. The context of the burglary was much more familiar, presenting forcefully the binary between prosecution and forgiveness thereby facilitating the choice of an alternative to retribution. That’s my charitable take.

The cynic in me just thinks that in the case of the burglary, SHEC was already in the news and had to decide what to do with the consciousness that their actions would be scrutinized. When it came to summoning some compassion in the privacy of wherever they read about J.C., considering what kind of witness their reactions would bear was, perhaps, less a factor in their actions.

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