Archive for December 1st, 2006

by Jay Stevens 

The latest in the recount news is a mixed bag.

First the bad news: the recount of HD 77 actually stretched Republican Scott Mendenhall’s margin to 25 votes over Sheila Hogan. The state house will remain under the control of the GOP.

On the flip side, it looks like Ken Toole’s lead in the PSC5 race will hold up. It’s a big win for Montana; the last time the GOP controlled the public utilities commission we got deregulation and pretty much screwed over.

The dust is settling, and the political landscape for the 2007 legislative session is looking a little clearer. We’ve got a divided legislature, a charismatic Democratic Governor heading towards a re-election campaign, and two Democratic US Senators straddling either side of crucial economic questions that will need to be addressed in federal Congress.

In other words, don’t think the national scrutiny of the state will go away anytime soon. Looks like it’s going to be a noisy couple of years…

by Jay Stevens 

There’s a crucial matter about climate control up before the SCOTUS right now: several states are suing the government to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles. It’s a pretty simple case: the states are arguing that CO2 is a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, and EPA says it can do whatever the hell it wants.

Outlook doesn’t look that good, to be honest. Based on Dahlia Lithwick’s description of the proceeding, the SCOTUS justices seem to be sympathizing with the government’s “toddler” defense:

Now, maybe it’s because I have a toddler at home, but the EPA’s argument, presented by Deputy Solicitor General Gregory Garre, quickly sounds very familiar. 1) I can’t clean it up; 2) Even if I could, I don’t want to clean it up; 3) You can’t make me clean it up; and 4) China is making an even bigger mess. How come China never has to clean it up? When and if all that fails, the EPA, like my son, just puts its hands over its eyes and says there is no mess in the first place.

One of the dangers of the decisions is that, if the SCOTUS rules against the states, it could keep the states themselves from regulating emissions and effectively set back the battle against climate change a dozen years. (Once again big corporations’ profits would trump states’ rights with “conservatives.”)

On the other hand, if the SCOTUS rejects the case, the Democratic-led Congress might actually introduce legislation that allows the government to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions. Which the President probably would veto and make the issue one of the hot topics for 2008.

Still, what’s not to under-emphasize is that, if the SCOTUS does rule against the case, it would do so on the basis that the harmful effect of carbon dioxide on the environment can’t be proved beyond a doubt. Unfortunately the same can be said for most pollutants, as well. That is, if the SCOTUS rules against the regulation of CO2, it might mean the end of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

And you thought Bush’s SCOTUS appointments were about abortion!

Links…

Craig at mtpolitics.net sets up a donation page for the Montana Food Bank Network. Run, don’t walk, over and plunk down a little change for a worthy cause.

Matt mulls Montana’s surplus and the state’s chamber of commerce.

The Billings Gazette urges Baucus to “do the right thing for Montana,” but fails to say what that is, exactly.

Attention, Baucus, Dean Baker knows what needs to be done with Medicare: Medicare must be reformed, allowing it to negotiate drug costs and provide its own drug benefit plan.

Matt Stoller is pessimistic that Max will actually listen to reason.

The gaming compact between the state and the Salish and Kootenai tribes is at an impasse.

Some upstart Montanan writes an in-depth piece on the death of Idaho’s Proposition 2.

Shane mulls Tom Vilsak’s entry into the presidential race, and finds good.

Is Mitt Romney’s bid for president already whacked? The Bay State anti-immigration zealot has hired illegal immigrants to tend his lawn – for over a decade.

The reasons for re-voting in FL-13 mount.

As always, digby nails it over the Webb-Bush kerfluffle: “The Taming of the Upstart.” Attention DC insiders: this is why we sent Democrats to government in 2006!

Joshua Micah Marshall notices that the DC punditry is circling the wagons against those savage upstarts, the American voters and Democratic populists.

The latest candidate for the chair of the House Intel committee – Silvestre Reyes – has his own skeleton in the closet. Whee.

Bush appointee, Joe Ralston, envoy to Turkey, apparently used his office to leverage a deal between the Turkish government and Lockheed Martin.

Sean Hannity joins Dennis Prager in the attack against Muslim Rep-elect Keith Ellison’s intention to swear his oath of office on a Koran. “Where will it end?” asks Hannity, rhetorically. With Fox’ ratings slump, perhaps with you collecting unemployment, Sean.

Jonathan Zasloff: the Republican agenda is to create permanent constitutional crisis.

Kossak georgia10 has an eloquent post on what we’re really fighting for in Iraq: W’s legacy.

So who do you believe when it comes to reports from Iraq? The U.S. military or the Associated Press? According to Neweirt, it’s a no-brainer based on past record.

Mark Moford suspects the Bush administration’s latest abstinence-only sex ed program appears to be a joke: “It is the only way to account for something like, say, the latest twist in the Abstinence Education Program from Bush’s increasingly laughable Department of Health and Human Services, a $50 million slice of embarrassing government detritus that is now actually encouraging all states to tell their single, youngish residents that they should — how to put this so you don’t shoot coffee through your nose? – that everyone should avoid sex entirely, until they turn 30.”

Olbermann slams Gingrich’s desire to curb freedom of speech.

Don’t believe in climate change? World Cup skiers do.

While cars count against only 7 percent of carbon emissions, livestock accounts for 20 percent.

by Jay Stevens 

The election is over, and now the real work begins. Before heading to Washington DC, Jon and Sharla are touring Montana to talk with folks, say thanks, and no doubt hear your concerns.

Follow the link for a complete schedule – this morning he’s in Billings, and this afternoon, he’ll be in Livingston and Bozeman. Tomorrow is Helena; Sunday is Victor, Missoula (details below), and Butte; Wednesday finds Senator-elect Jon Tester in Great Falls.

What: Tester’s Missoula meeting

When: 2:30 p.m.

Where: Florence Building Lobby, 111 N Higgins

I’m heading out of town this weekend with my family – my folks are in for a visit – so I won’t be able to make it. But if you can, you should, and give ‘em a hand and let him know what needs to be done.




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