Archive for January 4th, 2007


Jon Tester’s a Senator. Matt Singer writes a letter asking Jon not to betray the roots of his campaign. Hear, hear. I didn’t bust my hump to put another corporate shill into office.

Mike Dennison profiles newly elected Public Service Commission member, Ken Toole.

When Western sprawl meets wildfires, it ain’t pretty. Personally I don’t think it’s the feds’ responsibility. If you live in wildfire country during a spike in global temperatures, expect fires.

Look at that: mining usually does have an effect on groundwater! What a surprise!

PBS Now is running a show on Friday about Idaho’s White Clouds Wilderness debate.

Neiwert’s fifth chapter in his series on eliminationism in America is up…

George Will, wrong on blogs, wrong on the minimum wage.

The WSJ confirms Will’s idiocy on the minimum wage

Kevin Drum notices that Republicans are now coming out in favor of universal health care.

Oh, and at least one Canadian thinks US health care would have killed him.

Congratulations to Nancy Pelosi for becoming our nation’s first woman Speaker of the House. Now the media needs to catch up.

Not only is the Democratic agenda the right thing to do, it’s extremely popular.

One the popular issues is stem cell research – which Senator Brownback plans on filibustering. Go for it, Senator.

Meanwhile, right-wing nutjobs crank up the rhetoric – and call for assassination of Democrats!

George Bush says he can and will open and read your mail whenever he wants, warrants be d*mned.

Digby notes that the US government’s intent to “incapacitate” Jose Padilla by destroying his mind resembles a similar program in the Soviet system.

The “surge” all about politics. How many US deaths are worth a five-point bump in the polls for Bush?

Good news for humanity: military contractors in Iraq now fall under the military justice system.

The Progressive Truth got its hand on W’s original submission to the WSJ’s op-ed page…

A computer-imaging company claims that MLB’s baseballs were “juiced” in 1998 when the homerun record fell to McGuire.

by Jay Stevens 

What is it with amoral positions taken by our newspapers’ editorial boards? There were plenty in the lead up to the election, when some state pundits urged us to vote for Burns because of the pork – never mind good ol’ Connie’s ethical lapses or support of Bush administration immoral policies.

Here we are again: this time the Missoulian is complaining about Congress’ plan to give the District of Columbia Congressional representation:

Montana and its 944,632 residents have a single seat in the House. Montana is the most-populous congressional district in the country. If Washington, D.C., gets its congressman, the district and Montana each would have 1/437th say in the House. In other words, the votes of 600,000 Washingtonians would count the same as those of 944,632 Montanans. Pardon our parochialism, but we think that’s a lousy idea.

Not only that, but Missoulian editors call Montana the “least-represented state in the Union.”

First, these “leading lights” of our local media would prefer we deny more than a half-million of any representation so that our sole Representative will be one of 435 members instead of one of 437 members, a difference of 0.0011 percent of the House membership. That’s hardly a great injustice suffered by Montanans, it it?

Second, Montana is hardly the “least-represented state” in Congress. Remember, we also get our full compliment of Senators, too. With two Senators and a lowly Representative, each Congressional legislator represents 314,877 Montanans. Compare that to California – which has 36,457,549 residents, 53 Representatives, and 2 Senators – which has about 662,864 residents for each of its Congressional representatives, more than twice Montana’s proportion. I could do a whole list, ranking each state according to its representation, but you get the idea. Montana is actually grossly over-represented in Washington DC.

Perhaps the Missoulian should reconsider outsourcing its editorials to outer Kazakhstan.

by Jay Stevens 

I don’t understand copyright law. Someone help me. How in the world can some jerk copyright the term, “Last Best Place”? Does this mean Mike’s going to get a cease-and-desist order?

That’s right an out-of-state businessman – David Lipson – “has all but won exclusive rights to ‘The Last Best Place.’”

He’s going to use the term to market products:

The trademarks can be applied to more than 100 products and services, including lingerie, baseball caps, shower curtains, blankets and real estate, restaurant and retail store services.

How is this possible? It’s a term in common usage! It’s not even his!

That’s right, it was Bill Kittredge who coined the term. If anybody deserves rights to the phrase, it’s the Montana author, not some hot-shot Las Vegas businessman.

Please explain.

Update: Brad Tyer came by and did some ‘splainin’ on the issue (see comments):

Trademark, if I understand correctly, covers commercial use for specified purposes. If Lipson gets a trademark for use of the phrase Last Best Place in his marketing of Montana-themed sheet sets, for example, all that means is that Lipson can prevent other businesses from commercial use of the phrase in the selling of sheet-sets….

…to take another local example that’s has absolutely nobody up in arms, “Big Sky” is also a common-usage phrase that nobody “owns,” and while I don’t know this for a fact, I’d bet good money that Big Sky Brewing has trademarked “Big Sky” for commercial use in the selling of beer. That doesn’t mean no one else can speak the phrase without paying royalties and it doen’t mean you can’t name your blog “Big Sky Dems,” or whatever. It just means Big Sky Brewing can protect itself from some other brewer who wants to start selling beer under the name “Big Sky.”…

Also, Tyer points out that the phrase also didn’t originate with Kittredge:

[From the Missoulian:] “The one literary claim prior to Kittredge’s is that of Whitefish author and wildlife biologist Douglas Chadwick, who used the phrase to describe the Bob Marshall Wilderness in a 1983 book on mountain goats called “A Beast the Color of Winter.”

The quote, from page 186, appeared in a section arguing against plans to open the Bob Marshall to oil and gas exploration. It reads: “I managed to envision industrializing the Bob. But I couldn’t accept it. Not here. Not in the last, best place.

Librarians at the Montana State Library had no references to the “Last Best Place” that predated Chadwick’s 1983 book.”

After getting my explanation, I think I share Steve T’s sentiments about the issue:

I always hate it when people shoot down my knee-jerk reactions. I’m going to find another reason to get angry about this, just you wait.

by Jay Stevens 

Jennifer McKee has an amusing piece in today’s paper about the spirit of bipartisanship in the Montana legislature:

The first recorded vote of the 2007 Montana Legislature in the closely divided House of Representatives on Wednesday fell along party lines.

The 51-49 vote came just minutes after House Minority Leader John Parker, D-Great Falls, gave a gentlemanly speech on the spirit of cooperation.

Cooperation was in slim supply moments later when Democrats tried to change the makeup of the House committees that take first crack at all legislation.

All 50 Republicans and Constitution Party Rep. Rick Jore of Ronan, a former Republican, voted to reject the Democrats’ initiative.

Hilarious. As shown throughout the last six years of federal-level Republican rule, any GOP request for “co-operation” means “do as we say.” Yesterday, Montana Republicans operated under the old playbook.

But I also expect Senate Democrats to give House Republicans a difficult time, too. While everyone trumps up “bipartisanship,” it’s obvious that this legislature in reality is going to be rancorous. What else would you expect when the Republican House Speaker – Sideshow Scott Sales – declares “war” on state Democrats?

Compare Republican legislative promises – war, obstructionism, opposition to the Governor at every chance – to the Democrats’ agenda:

In the Democrat-controlled Senate on Wednesday, Majority Leader Carol Williams, D-Missoula, the first woman to hold that post in the Montana Legislature, outlined what she sees as core issues to address this session.

Those include investing in a “world-class education system,” extending health care coverage to children and others without it, improving relations with tribal governments and protecting Montanans’ access to “rivers, streams, hunting grounds and fishing holes,” she said.

I can’t wait for Sideshow Scott and his dog & pony show to obstruct health care for children, or protection of open spaces, or improving education. At least rhetorically, as a blogger. As a father, homeowner, and taxpayer…well…I’ll probably be p*ssed.

Yup, it will be fun in 2007 – for bloggers!

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