Archive for April, 2008

by Jamee Greer

Candidate forum features Attorney General & Office of Public Instruction, talent show

MISSOULA – Following the success of last year’s City Council Candidates Gone Wild, which drew over 150 Missoulians together to hear candidate’s stances on everything from inclusionary zoning to urban fowl, Forward Montana presents the final installments of our primary season candidate forums.

Attorney General and State Superintendent of Public Instruction (OPI) battle it out on Thursday, May 1st at the Elk’s Lodge. The event will feature local theatre crew, Improvista! — and will be emceed by Missoula weatherman, Mark Heyka. The red carpet party, featuring KBGA’s DJ Mermaid, starts at 6:00. Biga Pizza will be on site!

Candidates start getting wild at 7:00.

Candidates Gone Wild, The Finale feat. candidates for Attorney General,
State Superintendent of Schools
Thursday, May 1st | Red Carpet at 6, wild candidates at 7
The Elk’s Lodge | Donations accepted

by Jamee Greer

Members of Students for Economic and Social Justice who participated in last Wednesday’s sit-in are being suspended, although it sounds like for varying lengths of time.

At this point, the longest suspension has been five days.

Meetings between the students who were charged with disorderly conduct and the UM Administration will continue through the week.

For background on what these students are working towards, visit http://www.studentsagainstsweatshops.org/, or see previous posts and a recent article in the Missoulian.

by jhwygirl

A little over a week ago I wrote about the NY Times story which exposed the who’s-up-whose-ass relationship between the Bush Administration and the media’s so-called military analysts – those retired generals that you see on every major news station telling us that the surge is working, that the troops have enough armor, that we are winning the war in Iraq.

In other words, one more shame on the Bush Administration.

At least I didn’t see the honorable General Wesley Clark on that list. At least some of the retired military still look out for the men that they previously commanded.

And boy, you should have heard the reaction from the two Army veterans of the Iraq war when I forwarded that story to them.

On Thursday, Representative Ike Skeleton (D-MO), chair of the House Armed Services Committee, had a whole hell of a lot to say about the article.

Why is it that only Democrats have come out on record as being appalled of the behavior of not only the Pentagon but the retired generals also? Not one of Montana’s conservative bloggers have expressed outrage over this either. When you think of how many Montanans are in the reserves, and serving in Iraq, or have served in Iraq, don’t you think that maybe even one of them would express some disappointment? Aren’t these guys supposed to support the troops? How is remaining silent about retired generals who were more concerned about their consulting fees than the troops they served with supporting the troops?

Principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense Robert Hastings halted the feeding of information to those military analysts after seeing the NY Times article, saying that he is concerned about allegations that the Defense Department’s relationship with the retired military analysts was improper.

Stars and Stripes has the story.

by Jamee Greer

Last weekend, several members of the student group Students for Economic and Social Justice received letters from University officials that they may be suspended for staging a sit-in in President George Dennison’s office on Wednesday, April 16th.

The group has been working with UM Administration for the last two years to make sure all GrizGear sold in the UM Bookstore is made with sweat-free labor. Both sides have had setbacks and breakthroughs, and have been at a stalemate since last Spring. In May, the Administration agreed to support the first of SESJ’s demands — alignment with the Worker Rights Consortium.

According to a press release from the group:

Several members of the group have pleaded guilty with the court. The remaining members have a May 6th deadline to enter a plea in front of Judge Louden. The University is stepping above these charges, however, in threatening to suspend the students. Initially the students received letters threatening disciplinary probation, but secondary letters followed informing students that recent evidence has elevated their possible punishment to year-long suspension.

On Tuesday, April 29, each of the students will meet with Dean Couture individually to discuss their academic punishment. One of the eight students is set to graduate in two weeks, while the others face one or more years at UM. Suspension would force some to transfer schools in order to stay on track earning their degrees.

One member of the group was recently awarded with the Outstanding Student of the Year scholarship by the University, covering an entire semester’s worth of tuition — and was awarded for a variety of reasons — including an extraordinarily high GPA, extracirricular involvements and leadership within the community.

I’m not sure the exact process of suspension at UM, but with just a week left of class, there might be the possibility that suspended students will have to repeat the semester — if their finals and end of semester projects can’t be turned in.

Ironic that a student honored by the U with a full-paid scholarship for academic and community leadership would be punished for using those skills to get more students involved.

by Pete Talbot

I enjoy the occasional beer or glass of wine. Therefore, my garbage or garage is full of bottles, plus a few pickle and mayonnaise jars.

What to do with all this glass? I wrote about the glass dilemma before and commended Bozeman for recycling the stuff. Some comments to that post had the audacity to challenge my statement about Bozeman’s recycling. So I did a little research and, lo and behold, those comments were essentially correct. Bozeman does collect and crush its glass, but then it just mixes it with dirt and uses it for cover — mostly at its landfill — which isn’t recycling at its best.

My source for the glass situation in Bozeman was Steve Johnson, supervisor of solid waste management for that city. Steve has 30 years experience in the solid waste biz, starting in Vermont, then Texas and now Montana.

He said that recycling glass in Montana was a “labor of love” and an “exercise of the heart.”

It would take a quarter-of-a-million dollars to get the commercial-grade crusher, loader and storage to have a marketable glass recycling operation.

Then there’s getting the glass to the right market. The closest place that will turn crushed glass back into bottles is Coors in Colorado. It costs $25 a ton just to ship it there and that’s after the cost of crushing. This doesn’t make economic sense. Coors can get sand down there in Colorado for a lot cheaper.

Another point that Johnson brings up is supply. If the money is spent for the high-end crusher and peripherals, and there’s an economically feasible market for the stuff, will there be enough glass in Montana to supply the crusher’s needs? Keep in mind that we’re a state with fewer than one million people spread out over 147,046 square miles.

There is a crusher in Montana run by Headwaters Cooperative Recycling. It’s located in Helena but travels around the state and grinds up glass at a few different locations. It was just in Missoula for Earth Day festivities. Unfortunately, by the time I got down to Caras Park with my load of glass, the Headwaters folks already had more glass than they could deal with and I was sent home with my Datsun still full of bottles and jars.

I’m also told that the Headwaters crusher turns out a pretty course variety of aggregate, good for landscaping and some specialized concrete products, but not much else. (My calls to Headwaters for details went unanswered. Maybe those folks can respond in the comments section if I’m missing something here.)

So, at this point in Montana, it’s kind of a depressing scenario for glass recycling. There just isn’t the political will or economic stimulus to get the job done.

Maybe someday there will be an enterprise in this state that will turn our old glass into new bottles and jars. At least, maybe, it will be feasible to turn old glass into industrial-grade sand for concrete. Or maybe we’ll eventually pass a bottle bill, so it makes it economically rewarding to return those bottles. (Montana has attempted two bottle bill initiatives that would require a deposit on all bottles. Both went down to defeat after massive anti-bottle bill advertising campaigns launched by the beverage industry.)

Until there’s a better system for dealing with our glass, I guess I’ll be buying cans and refilling growlers. It’ll be tough drinking wine out of a box, though.

by jhwygirl

NewWest recently published a piece, Understanding the Basics of Water Law in Montana, which reminded me of a few thoughts I had been mulling on that topic (for some time), and how it relates to sprawl and unregulated growth and development in Montana.

Also helping it along was a friend who contacted me a few weeks ago, asking me to look at the “adjacent property owner” notice he received from a local planning department – a notice of a proposed 45-lot subdivision. The notice brought to light 3 troubling issues – all of which several agencies all pointed to the other for blame – that subjugated his private property rights to that of the neighboring developer.

Today I mull the exemption under the Administrative Rules of Montana (ARM) for wells pumping no more than 35 gallons per minute (gpm), and how they impinge upon senior water rights holders and possibly even violate the Montana Environmental Protection Act.

Couple that with a few weeks back when I saw Tim Davis, Executive Director of the Montana Smart Growth Coalition speak. The 35 gpm well exemption was, he said, one of the bigger contributors to sprawl. To paraphrase Mr. Davis: “Developers do what they do because that is what our state and local laws tell them to do,” he said, addressing two main issues he saw as needing to be addressed the the state legislature (the other being septic tank mixing zones).

Now, Tim is an obviously smart guy. He had the room mesmerized, as if capturing everyone with an “ah-ha” moment. Many of us complain about sprawl, but the easy blame is upon the developer and the property owner that subdivides, anywhere and everywhere. But what drives that? Easy and cheap subdivision – no need for public or private community water systems and sewer. A lack of zoning doesn’t help the matter, and the 35 gpm well exemption makes it real easy. Create some lots, meet some basic conditions – more often than not in unzoned areas of the state – build some roads and file a plat. Wa-la. Instant sprawl.

As the NewWest article points out, water rights are property rights that can be leased or sold. State law guarantees water rights based on seniority of filing. Yet Montana has several closed basins – the Teton River basin, the Upper Clark Fork River basin, the Jefferson River basin, the Upper Missouri River basin and a temporary subbasin closure of the Bitterroot River subbasin. Basins were closed because the state has realized that there were significantly more water legitimate water rights claims (ajudicated and unadjudicated) than there was water available.

Let this be said clearly – there are more water rights granted than there is water available.

Now, let’s think about that for a moment: What is Montana without its rivers? Without water for its streams and wildlife? Sections of the Bitterroot often run dry – and I’ve heard many an irrigator, when asked about how much water they have a right to, explain that “we’ve got to have water to move our water,” – so is there any guarantee to the citizens of the state that there will be enough water for recreating? For our fisheries and wildlife? (Recreation, BTW, is the largest growing industry in the west.)

I suggest that they only action being taken to protect fisheries is being done by volunteers – water rights holders that voluntarily restrict water use in an attempt to maintain water in streams. The Blackfoot Challenge’s Drought & Water Conservation Committee and The Big Hole Watershed Committee are two such examples.

Even those actions are a struggle. Last summer, the remaining 4% population of the arctic grayling dwindled under record low flows of the Big Hole, and FWP struggled with users who assert their rights to water under Montana Code, for beneficial use, along with their senior rights. A fine article in NewWest, last year, details that struggle.

I contacted FWP last year upon hearing of the impending death of North America’s arctic grayling and asked the biologist “who is ensuring that people aren’t using water they shouldn’t?,” and was told that it was all voluntary. That there isn’t anyone verifying whether water rights holders are taking more water than they have claim.

Ahh, self-regulation – cheap and easy. The unfunded mandate.

Is it any wonder that senior water rights holders might have some bad feelings over being asked to voluntarily restrict water usage – usage that they rely on to make a living and to ensure that their cattle and livestock survives – when subdivisions fed by exempt 35 gpm wells crop up faster than knapweed in some areas?

Don’t fool yourself, either, to think that there is no interconnectivity of surface water and ground water. While the state had fought to keep the two from being viewed as inter-related, the Montana Supreme Court has said differently. Witness the Montana Supreme Court’s decision in the Smith River case. Still, though, the exempt 35 gpm wells continue.

While we champion open spaces and agricultural uses, think about that as you drive down the road and see the thousands of 1-acre and 5-acre lots dotting the hillside, surrounding those agricultural lands. Think about that as, this summer, you dip your ankles in the waters of the Clark’s Fork or the Bitterroot and the water is piss warm. Think about how many exempt 35 gpm wells are pumping water out of the ground, depleting both surface and ground water at the expense of our state’s wildlife and fisheries and agricultural uses.

In 2007, House Bill No. 304 was passed, authorizing an interim study of water related issues, including exempt 35 gpm wells. The Water Policy Committee now hard at work. This is a list of the committee members. Also gathering comments is jkolman@mt.gov.

Kevin Furey, representative for Missoula’s HD-91, sponsored HB 304. While the committee members are overwhelmingly eastern staters, this whole issue of water rights is something that effects all of us, statewide.

Water rights might seem more of a hugely agricultural issue – but I hope you all realize how the 35 gpm well exemption plays upon each of our lives. How it contributes to sprawl and impinges on senior water rights holders. How it impinges upon our right to a clean and healthful environment, and how, with closed basins which acknowledge the fact that water has already been over-allocated, the largest single economic growth that this state has – the recreational economy – suffers. All of this is driven by the 1,000’s of exempt 35 gpm wells drilled each year.

One of the most powerful anti-sprawl things you could do is to contact Joe Kolman and the members of the Water Policy Committee (along with your state representatives and Rep. Kevin Furey – contact information can be found via Project Vote Smart) and let them know how you feel about protection of senior water rights. Along the way you could be protecting both the fisheries and the largest single economic growth industry in the state, along with your rights to a clean and healthful environment.

by Rebecca Schmitz

Sure, you could say Lee Newspapers’ article this morning about the four Democratic candidates for state school superintendent was journalism lite, but as the editor’s note mentioned, there’s more to come. Thank goodness. I came away from Charles S. Johnson’s piece with a lot of questions, chiefly because all the candidates–Representative Holly Raser, Senator Sam Kitzenberg, Claudette Morton and Denise Juneau–are all incredibly qualified individuals. Any one of them would be an asset to the Office of Public Instruction. So, I’m hoping our readers can help.

Because I don’t have children, I don’t pay enough attention to local and state education issues like a responsible taxpayer should. Honestly, the only experience I’ve had–don’t laugh–with the minutiae of school administration was during my final year attending Juan Crespi Middle School in El Sobrante, California, (“Home of the Conquistadors”. Representar!) when my mother was president of the PTA. Then I got to hear about the issues every night for nearly ten months.

This ignorance is why I’m asking you guys for some insight. (You don’t have to have a child currently enrolled in one of Montana’s schools, but if it helps answer my questions, great.) If you’ve already decided to vote for one of these four fabulous candidates, which one and why?

by jhwygirl

King George says:“What we learned from the 1960s is we learned every action has to have a consequence. If it doesn’t, it had no moral value, either.”

Your actions are despicable. That is how you guide the youths under your charge? That is the example you set for civil discourse?

So, King George – which action has a higher moral value? Yours or theirs?

Time to step off of that throne and see what those that you seem to think so lowly of believe in and why – before you so callously pass judgment on actions without considering the reasoning behind them.

Lincoln School Soiree

by Jason Wiener

The people who have been working for months to convert the historic Lincoln School into a community center need your help — finishing off bottles of wine, cases of beer and platters of hors d’oeuvre.

From 7 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, April 26, The Loft at 119 W. Main St. in Missoula, (Jay’s Upscale to some of you) hosts a Soiree and Silent Auction to benefit the Lincoln School Cultural Center, what the place will be called once it is restored and reopened for the benefit of all Missoulians.

Tickets are $25, available at Worden’s, Rockin Rudy’s or at the door, and the price of admission includes two free drinks (Kettlehouse beer and Ten Spoon wine) as well as tasty vittles courtesy of Red Bird Restaurant.

Visit savelincolnschool.org for more information about the effort.

Brain Farts

by jhwygirl

Scientists believe they have the answer to brain farts.

Yeah, yeah – go ahead…

by jhwygirl

This is a good Friday-afternoon-at-the-office project.

The Missoula Water Quality District, MT DEQ and others are sponsoring a free electronics recycling Saturday at the Missoula Fairgrounds, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

A lot of that e-waste is pretty toxic – and this is a great opportunity to keep it out of landfills.

First 5 items are free, additional items are $1. All cell phones, rechargeable batteries and computer peripherals are free. If you have 10 items or more, call 800-433-8773 to register.

For additional information, contact Sandra Boggs at MT DEQ, 406-841-5217.

by Rebecca Schmitz

Yesterday the Board of Pharmacy ruled the Legislature should decide whether or not Montana’s pharmacists will follow a single ethical and professional standard.

The Montana Board of Pharmacy took no action Wednesday after hearing comment on the issue of pharmacists who refuse to dispense contraceptives because of religious beliefs. Board member Mark Meredith of Helena added that a decision on whether new regulations are necessary should come from state lawmakers, not the six-member pharmacy board. “I think we should wait and see what happens in the Legislature,” he said.

I agree; I said as much last December. Although I do find the attitude of the Board odd. Its executive director, Ron Klein, in a story aired on MTPR’s Montana Morning News (and unfortunately not available online) said pharmacies should be allowed to operate like any other retail business, a view reflected in his comments after John Lane’s hearing last month. This argument is disingenuous. If a pharmacy was just like any other store, then there wouldn’t be the need for a Board of Pharmacy–or Ron Klein. Obviously, the very presence of both indicates the state has a strong interest in regulating this profession, an interest it doesn’t take in other retail businesses. After all, there isn’t a Montana Board of Underpants, a Montana Board of Camping Gear, or a Montana Board of Stylish Yet Comfortable Shoes.

So I guess it’s up to us–the voters–to make sure pharmacists dispense all legal prescriptions. We need to elect people to the Legislature who will make sure these professionals respect the decisions made by Montana women and their doctors. Missoulians are lucky. We’ve got a solid delegation of local legislators, with one notable exception. As Bill Vaughn pointed out on Dark Acres, HD 100 Representative Bill Nooney, who’s up for re-election, has an “A+” rating (let’s hope he got a gold star or a scratch ‘n’ sniff sticker) from the less-than-transparent Montana Family Action of Laurel, home of Senator Dan “All Flawed” McGee and Representative Krayton “Blood Sport” Kerns. Bill’s 100% means he can’t be counted on to introduce the bill creating the law the Board of Pharmacy needs, but I’m sure some of these fine folks can help us.

by jhwygirl

See it for yourself. Notice the title.

VA email – February 13, 2008

Senator Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) office said statistics provided earlier this year by the VA showed that 790 veterans under VA care attempted suicide in 2007.

790? Talk about fuzzy math.

790 does not equal 12,000. Unless your a tool of the Bush Administration.

That’s nearly 33 attempted suicides by military veterans per day.

Sen. Harkin, Sen. Patty Murray (D- WA) and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) introduced legislation Tuesday calling on the VA to track how many veterans commit suicide each year. Currently, VA facilities record the number of suicides and attempted suicides in VA facilities – but do not record how many veterans overall take their own lives.

On Monday, a class action suit brought by veterans groups opened in San Francisco charging a “systemwide breakdown,” citing long delays in receiving disability benefits and flaws in the way discharged soldiers at risk for suicide had been treated.

Kerri J. Childress, a department spokeswoman, said Monday that there were an average of 18 suicides a day among America’s 25 million veterans and that more than a fifth were committed by men and women being treated by Veterans Affairs.

Fuzzy math continues.

So if it’s not mistreatment of living veterans, and it’s not disrespect after they’ve given their lives in service – it’s lies about the reality this illegal war is bring to our sons and daughters, our families – our nation.

Mayor of Mahem, commenting on a previous post, Americans Don’t Know How Many U.S. Soldiers Have Been Killed in Iraq, explained to us the reality he already knows:

…I have a family member that has returned from Iraq in apparent good health, only to find out later that they will never be the same. This is especially disturbing to the son of a Vietnam conflict veteran who has watched a father fight that war over and over again for the last 40 years. The cost to our country for this war will be paid for the next fifty years. Not by those who who gave all, their sacrifice and that of their families is immeasurable. The long term cost of caring for physically injured and mentally effected US servicemen will be a heavy load for US families to carry. Say a prayer tonight for the 19 year old North Dakota farm boy walking through an alley in Bagdad or the twenty six year old sergeant and father of two from Los Angeles on duty in Fallujah.

There is a fire burning in the middle east and the fuel for that fire is our children.

I cry for my nation. I cry for its soldiers.

God Bless.

by Jay Stevens

I just saw this report in the Montana Kaimin, where three U of MT College Republicans are challenging Democratically-held House seats in Missoula.

Yeah, good luck with that.

Now, first of all, I’m thrilled that young people are this engaged with the political process that they want to join in the fray. But it’s pretty clear that Scott Martin – of the College Democrats – was spot-on when he said the three are cannon fodder for the state party. Republicans have no chance of winning the seats – HDs 92, 93, and 99.

Missoula County GOP chair, Will Deschamps, admitted that his candidates would “start with a serious handicap”:

He didn’t blame anybody for this except his own party.“I think a lot of it has to do with that we haven’t worked hard enough,” he said.

Yes, Will, it is the fault of your party, but not because you haven’t “worked hard enough.” It’s because your party’s stance on issue and its record in government is abysmal. Right now I wouldn’t trust a Republican elected official to water my houseplants.

Lest you think this is a just a DFH talking, Republicans are disliked even in Mississippi, where Democrat Travis Childers upset Republican Greg Davis in the first round of a special election, despite Childers’ weird Rehberg ‘stache. Oh, MS01 went 62-37 for Bush in ’04.

So you really think these candidates need to “work hard” to win Missoula legislative seats in a year where GOP and GOP presidential approval ratings are in the toilet? During a presidential election year?

by Pete Talbot

Erik Iverson, Rep. Denny Rehberg’s hatchet man and chairman of Montana’s Republican Party, has a guest column in today’s Missoulian.

In Montana, there probably isn’t a more divisive subject than guns and Iverson uses this wedge issue to attack Barack Obama.

” … Obama has shown that if elected president he will try to take away many of the freedoms we hold dear … ,” Iverson writes.

That’s rather a sweeping statement. So is the line that Obama will ” … arm the criminals and prevent law-abiding citizens from defending themselves.”

Looks like Iverson is taking a page out of the Karl Rove play book on smear tactics.

Obama has already stated that he’s a defender of the Second Amendment. And even if he has some concerns about concealed weapons, he’s not going to start chipping away at gun rights when he gets in office. He has a few other issues on his plate, thanks to the current administration: things like Iraq and Afghanistan, health care, and a recession.

I’ve haven’t seen any platform coming out of Obama’s campaign that would suggest an anti-gun stance. And also keep in mind that there are a few checks and balances in place. We have a Supreme Court that just ruled against the Washington, D.C., gun ban. There’s also a Congress that is loathe to advance any gun control legislation (the Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2007, which would re-up the expired 1994 assault weapon ban, is still languishing in Congress).

So why would Iverson hint that Obama wants to take away your guns? Because it’s a hot-button issue, like gay marriage or flag burning, that’s meant to distract voters from the lousy record that Republicans (i.e. Rehberg) have on the pressing issues of the day.

And why would getting rid of Rehberg help stem this flow of political sleaze? Because as Rehberg’s Chief of Staff, Iverson’s paycheck comes from Rehberg’s office (well, actually, the taxpayers).

Dump Denny and you shut down Iverson and his brand of gutter sniping, at least for awhile.

Mission accomplished.

by Pete Talbot

It takes a professional writer with some personal experience with Bill Nooney to really do justice to the representative from H.D. 100.

Bill Vaughn over at Dark Acres gives an excellent synopsis of Nooney’s infamous first term in the Montana House of Representatives.

My only complaint with the piece is this line: “Although I haven’t been in a voting booth in years, I’m going to enjoy casting a ballot again,” Vaughn writes. Sometimes it takes a horrendously bad candidate to get someone active in politics but still, shame on you Mr. Vaughn.

(Incidentally, on June 3, there will be a Democratic primary in House District 100 between Gary G. Brown and E. Willis Curdy. I couldn’t find a website for either candidate but 4&20 will keep you posted.)

by Pete Talbot

Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul has a seductive message: get the U.S. out of Iraq, get the government out of personal lives, and put the country on a sound financial footing.

The words “liberty” and “freedom” are often invoked in his stump speech. Paul, also referred to as the “Doctor” or “Dr. Paul,” praises the free market, wants waaay less government, insists on self reliance and supports a strict immigration policy. (A sign in the crowd read, “Our Ailing Nation Needs a Doctor.”)

He spoke to about 1000 people at the University Center Ballroom on Monday night. It was a mix of shaggy college-age kids, some young movers-and-shakers in suits, a few home-schoolers, a smattering of cowboy hats and blue-collar Montanans, and some seniors. Compared to the Obama and Clinton events, there weren’t as many little kids or women. The level of enthusiasm, however, was just about as high as Obama and comparable to Clinton.

He plays the part of the rebel. He says he’s “the biggest thorn in the establishment’s side” and he wants people to “stand up and resist!”

Paul promotes a tasty recipe for his supporters: blending the most appealing talking points from progressives, libertarians and constitutionalists. Voila, you have something that almost everyone can like.

Being the progressive that I am, there were a number of things said that I had to agree with.

To probably the biggest applause of the evening: “End this war!” — it’s hard not to agree with that.

“How you spread democracy is by setting an example” and, hinting at the current administration, “we should teach a few people in this country about democracy.”

He’s anti-Patriot Act. He opposes FISA and warrantless searches. He’s against torture: “We’re known around the world as torturers.”

Our current economic policy “destroys the middle class and sends money to the Wall Street rich.”

This is all good stuff. Scratch the surface, though, and you see some problems.

For example, instead of “wasting our money overseas” rebuilding war-torn countries (like Iraq), we should be “taking care of the bridges in our country.” It’s a popular message but he goes on to say we need to “get rid of income tax” — a line that brought big cheers. But, how are you going to pay for bridges without taxes?

We “shouldn’t be the policeman of the world” (to more cheers) but he wants us out of the United Nations (even more cheers). So, I guess nobody is going to keep on eye on the world — genocide in Rwanda and Darfur, peace negotiations in the Middle East … Tibet, Haiti, Pakistan — hey, you’re all on your own.

According to Dr. Paul, our government says “we’re not smart enough to know what to put in our own bodies” and he wants to scrap laws that deal with marijuana, food labeling, even raw milk. Our bodies are ours to do with as we please — except for a woman’s right to choose. “I’m pro-life,” he says.

Another thing that troubled me was what he didn’t say — no mention of the environment or global warming or energy issues. I guess the free market will take care of those things, because it has addressed those issues so well to date. (Sarcasm mine.)

“Restore liberty to America” was his closing line. Nothing wrong with that. But again, it sounds like the politics of fear being ramped up even more: fear your government and its institutions, and trust only in yourself, your family and (maybe) your neighbors.

I still prefer the politics of hope.

(I attended Paul’s speech with Jay Stevens, 4&20’s founding father. He currently does most of his writing over at Left in the West. Although we had many similar observations, he came away with a bit different, and less cynical, conclusion. But then he’s young. Read it here.)

by jhwygirl

An extremely worthy cause, which has been brought to my attention by (ah-hem) Dave Budge. Which goes to show that I do agree with conservatives on some things. Welcome Home Montana is the second of such public agreements.

Budge has been involved in helping organize a group of local businesses with the goal of providing an extended support system for military service personnel, active and veterans.

Absolutely a worthy endeavor, Welcome Home Montana is ready and willing to include other local businesses that wish to throw their hats into the effort.

The official grand opening, so to speak, is a community picnic, Sunday, June 15th, at Caras Park, 12 – 6 p.m. 6 hours of live music and a chance to meet and thank the men and women that have served with honor. There will be a raffle and prizes – so if you’ve got something to kick in, get to that website and make a contact.

As Budge notes, it’d be helpful if the rest of the MTBlogosphere would give this site some linkage. The name doesn’t suggest Missoula only – and I guess a short email to them would clarify that.

by Pete Talbot

Today, I’m optimistic about our Earth. There was a large crowd at the Earth Day festivities in Missoula on Sunday, despite the Arctic-like weather. There was music and info tables and hemp products and hybrid cars and local food sources and green building materials … and little kids and college-age kids mingling with the older types, such as myself.

Officially, Earth Day is Tuesday, April 22, but we’re celebrating it all week long here in the Garden City. Bike, Walk, Bus Week segues nicely into the mix with free bus rides April 19 – 26.

Sunday’s event started off awkwardly for me. I’d spent most of the day sorting and cleaning glass that had accumulated in my garage over the past few months. When I got to Caras Park, they were done crushing all the glass they needed and weren’t accepting any more.

But I took that as a good sign. There’s obviously a big demand for glass recycling in the Missoula area. I guess I’ll just drop my glass off in Bozeman the next time I’m passing through.

(Bozeman recycles glass. Fewer things irk me more than Bozeman getting a leg up on Missoula on the environmental front. C’mon Missoula, get with it!)

So, kudos to Missoula Urban Demonstration Project (MUD) for hosting Sunday’s event, the Clark Fork Coalition for putting on the river clean-up party on Saturday and all the other organizations doing their bit this week. Let’s try to practice Earth Day everyday.

(Here’s a link to a thoughtful New York Times piece asking the question, “Why Bother?” and talking about the individual things we can do, like gardening. Tip o’ the hat, again, to Juniper.)

by jhwygirl

A Pew Institute survey, results released March 12th, shows that American’s awareness in the number of American military casualties in Iraq is slipping.

The number of American military deaths, as of Sunday evening, is 4039. The total number of coalition deaths is 4348.

The number of American military deaths on August 7th, 8 1/2 months ago, was 3684.

How can we be so far removed from the reality of the war in Iraq that we are unaware – to the tune of only 28% being able to cite “4000” – of the number of American sons and daughters that have been killed in a war built on lies?

Could it be that the media coverage of the war is dropping? That biased media coverage?

Well, maybe so. That same survey tells us that press attention to the war has dropped to an all-time low of just 3% in February. The overall coverage, from January 1st through March 20th, is 4%.

Coinciding with the drop in war coverage is an increase in the number of Americans who think that military progress is being made in Iraq.

What does this mean?

It means McCain is walking on a free pass with the media’s lack of focus on the war. It means that journalists get away with asking questions about Drudge Report allegations and flag pins. It means that the beverage of choice (Crown Royal or green tea anyone?) is more important than the national debt.

The national debt? Nearing $6,000,000,000,000.

How about some war costs?
The cost of the Iraq war? Nearing $515,000,000,000.
The daily cost of the Iraq war? $314,400,000.
The cost of the Iraq war, per household? $4,681.

The cost to the entire state of Montana? $790,000,000.

Meanwhile, in other news, McCain has vowed a war on wasteful spending.

Given the evidence of the media’s output on that topic, and McCain’s expert grasp on economic issues, one has to wonder if he even knows what in the hell he’s actually talking about.

(Hat tip to hummingbirdminds.)

by jhwygirl

Wulfgar!, under his Deeply Stupid category, takes local attorney and candidate for HD 96 Steve Eschenbacher to task for his poor attorney-speak (“absolutely positively probably”) and other conspiracy theories.

Eshenbacher is the blogger behind Rabid Insanity, something he has not hidden.

Makes me wonder what Eschenbacher thinks of my post below, on our mainstream media’s military analysts.

Oops. Wait. I already know. Can’t question a retired officer and military analyst– that would be unpatriotic.

Must…Drink…Kool-Aid…Make…Mine…Red…Please…

Eishenbacher is running against Teresa Henry, incumbent for HD 96. There will not be a primary for HD 96.

by jhwygirl

A New York Times article released yesterday but dated today – much of which was the result of having to sue the Defense Department to gain access to 8,000 pages of email messages, transcripts and records – goes into gory, disgusting detail of the relationship between the Pentagon, the Bush Administration and most (yep, most) military analysts on mainstream media outlets like Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, and NBC.

Some of these analysts were on the mission to Cuba on June 24, 2005 — the first of six such Guantánamo trips — which was designed to mobilize analysts against the growing perception of Guantánamo as an international symbol of inhumane treatment. On the flight to Cuba, for much of the day at Guantánamo and on the flight home that night, Pentagon officials briefed the 10 or so analysts on their key messages — how much had been spent improving the facility, the abuse endured by guards, the extensive rights afforded detainees.The results came quickly. The analysts went on TV and radio, decrying Amnesty International, criticizing calls to close the facility and asserting that all detainees were treated humanely.

“The impressions that you’re getting from the media and from the various pronouncements being made by people who have not been here in my opinion are totally false,” Donald W. Shepperd, a retired Air Force general, reported live on CNN by phone from Guantánamo that same afternoon.

The next morning, Montgomery Meigs, a retired Army general and NBC analyst, appeared on “Today.” “There’s been over $100 million of new construction,” he reported. “The place is very professionally run.”

Within days, transcripts of the analysts’ appearances were circulated to senior White House and Pentagon officials, cited as evidence of progress in the battle for hearts and minds at home.

Are you kidding me?!

Assistant secretary of defense for public affairs Torie Clark, a former public relations executive, cooked up the plan. Before 9/11, she had begun to build a system within the Pentagon to recruit key movers and shakers that could be counted on to generate support for Secretary of State Don Rumsfield’s priorities. She found them in military analysts who she saw as not only getting more airtime than network reporters, but were also viewed by the public as independent of the media – which we all know can be biased, right?

What the public got, instead, was a neoconservative brain trust which spoonfed Pentagon and Bush administration talking points to the public while raking in increasingly larger salaries from military contractors that supplemented their retirement incomes.

Neocons such as retired Army general Paul E. Vallely, a Fox News military analyst from 2001 to 2007. Vallely had specialized in psychological warfare and co-authored a paper in 1980 that blamed American’s loss in Vietnam on American news organizations failure to defend the nations from “enemy propaganda” during the war – a belief shared by many on Bush’s national security team.

Then there were defense profiteers such as retired Army general James Marks, a military analyst for CNN from 2004 to 2007, who worked as a senior executive for McNeil Technologies which pursued both military and intelligence contracts. Marks was also national security adviser for former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

There was also retired Army colonel John C. Garret, a military analyst for Fox News TV and radio & a lobbyist at Patton Boggs, which assists firms wishing to win Pentagon contracts. Or retired Air Force general Joseph W. Ralston, CBS military analyst and vice-chair of the Cohen Group, a consulting firm headed up by former defense secretary William Cohen, which represents agencies and firms wishing for entry into the aerospace and defense market.

The Times admits to having had at least nine of the Pentagon’s recruited minions writing op-ed articles for them.

Vallely is apparently having some crisis of conscience. In an interview with the Times, commenting on a September 2003 tour of Iraq with fellow military analysts, Vallely expresses remorse: “I saw immediately in 2003 that things were going south.”

Vallely had told Alan Colmes of Fox News, upon his return from that very same propaganda-filled tour, “You can’t believe the progress”

Fox news military analyst and retired Army lieutenant colonel Timur J. Eads had a crisis-of-conscience too – he told the times that he, too, had at times held his tongue on television for fear that “some four-star would call up and say, ‘Kill that contract.’ Eads believe Pentagon officials misled the analysts aboutthe progress of Iraq’s security forces. “I know a snow job when I see one,” he said.

Eads never mentioned that on Fox News.

You don’t say!

The Times story goes on to shine the light, in full disgusting brightness, on the self-serving criminal arrogance of the Bush Administration and Don Rumsfield and the Pentagon. In April 2006 the Bush Administration faced what is now known as the General’s Revolt – open criticism by Rumsfields’ former generals that his wartime performance was crap. His resignation was being called for and his days were beginning their downward spiral.

The day after that NY Times article, the Pentagon helped Fox analysts General McInerney and General Vallely write an opinion article for The Wall Street Journal defending Rumsfield. News of that meeting leaked, and was printed on the front page of the Times. By Tuesday, the Pentagon was in full defense mode, and had a larger group of analysts in its offices willing to propogate the spin necessary to help defend Rumsfield from his own Iraqi war generals:

“I’m an old intel guy,” said one analyst. (The transcript omits speakers’ names.) “And I can sum all of this up, unfortunately, with one word. That is Psyops. Now most people may hear that and they think, ‘Oh my God, they’re trying to brainwash.’ ”

“What are you, some kind of a nut?” Mr. Rumsfeld cut in, drawing laughter. “You don’t believe in the Constitution?”

There was little discussion about the actual criticism pouring forth from Mr. Rumsfeld’s former generals. Analysts argued that opposition to the war was rooted in perceptions fed by the news media, not reality. The administration’s overall war strategy, they counseled, was “brilliant” and “very successful.”

“Frankly,” one participant said, “from a military point of view, the penalty, 2,400 brave Americans whom we lost, 3,000 in an hour and 15 minutes, is relative.”

An analyst said at another point: “This is a wider war. And whether we have democracy in Iraq or not, it doesn’t mean a tinker’s damn if we end up with the result we want, which is a regime over there that’s not a threat to us.”

“Yeah,” Mr. Rumsfeld said, taking notes.

But winning or not, they bluntly warned, the administration was in grave political danger so long as most Americans viewed Iraq as a lost cause. “America hates a loser,” one analyst said.

Much of the session was devoted to ways that Mr. Rumsfeld could reverse the “political tide.” One analyst urged Mr. Rumsfeld to “just crush these people,” and assured him that “most of the gentlemen at the table” would enthusiastically support him if he did.

“You are the leader,” the analyst told Mr. Rumsfeld. “You are our guy.”

At another point, an analyst made a suggestion: “In one of your speeches you ought to say, ‘Everybody stop for a minute and imagine an Iraq ruled by Zarqawi.’ And then you just go down the list and say, ‘All right, we’ve got oil, money, sovereignty, access to the geographic center of gravity of the Middle East, blah, blah, blah.’ If you can just paint a mental picture for Joe America to say, ‘Oh my God, I can’t imagine a world like that.’ ”

Even as they assured Mr. Rumsfeld that they stood ready to help in this public relations offensive, the analysts sought guidance on what they should cite as the next “milestone” that would, as one analyst put it, “keep the American people focused on the idea that we’re moving forward to a positive end.” They placed particular emphasis on the growing confrontation with Iran.

“When you said ‘long war,’ you changed the psyche of the American people to expect this to be a generational event,” an analyst said. “And again, I’m not trying to tell you how to do your job…”

“Get in line,” Mr. Rumsfeld interjected.

The meeting ended and Mr. Rumsfeld, appearing pleased and relaxed, took the entire group into a small study and showed off treasured keepsakes from his life, several analysts recalled.

Read it if you dare. I’ll just leave you with the image above: Rumsfield, appearing pleased and relaxed, showing off his little trinkets.

by jhwygirl

Seems the Good Governor Brian found time to file both his state and federal returns while running the state, running a re-election campaign and meeting with two presidential candidates.

All Roy Brown did was file his extensions.

Doesn’t sound very “get ‘er done” to me.

by jhwygirl

Gov. Brian Schweitzer has promised there will be no statewide increase in property taxes as a result of the reappraisal. The details of that plan have not been released.

Department of Revenue Director Dan Bucks says that “so far the agency has found no evidence prices are dropping on a widespread basis.”

All this sounds like good news for Missoulians, since Missoula has been declared a “distressed community” (thanks JC!) and the rest of the state is weathering the mortgage meltdown fairly well.

by Jay Stevens

Whoa. Look, I know the Big Dipper is the awesome. But this is ridiculous:

When police arrived early Thursday morning, they found shards of glass in the parking lot and scattered throughout the store’s interior. Investigators also found a rock on the floor beside a drop of ice cream, and noticed that the door to the ice cream cooler was wide open….

[Katherine] Moon was crying and upset and told officers she’d been drinking beer and shots of whiskey throughout the night. At some point she developed a craving for ice cream, she told officers, and decided to burglarize the popular sweet shop. Afterward she felt guilty and knew she had made a mistake, records state.

Big Dipper employees did not know what flavor cone Moon allegedly stole.

Just in case you, too, might be tempted to succumb to the wily temptations of Big Dipper’s homemade, multi-flavored, creamy goodness, pint and quart containers of the store’s ice cream are available at local retailers.

by jhwygirl

That might be just a tad bit of an overstatement, but not by much.

The draft Environmental Impact Statement for the long awaited (and still to be longer) proposed improvements for Russell and South 3rd St. West (from Russell to Reserve) is being unveiled at a public meeting Wednesday, April 16th.

The meeting is being held at the Franklin School Gymnasium at 6 p.m. Franklin School is located at S. 10th and Johnson.

The preferred alternative, while it does incorporate roundabouts, is centered around a 4-lane highway on Russell (from the currently non-existent I-90 connection) to S. 3rd.

Does Missoula need a new I-90 exit? Cutting directly through the center of what is primarily residential development?

I like the fact that it is incorporating roundabouts – but really, why, someone please explain, are 4-lanes needed along Russell all the way to 3rd Street? Shouldn’t the roundabouts solve movement issues?

And how big of a bridge do we want or need over the Clark’s Fork? I mean, can you imagine how huge that thing is going to have to be with 4 lanes, a raised median throughout, and bike lanes and pedestrian walkways? Can you spell U-G-L-Y? Jimminy Crickets!

Wouldn’t a roundabout at Russell & Broadway eliminate the need for a 4-lane highway? I’m guessing the 4-lane effort is to address the bottlenecking of traffic at that location. If a roundabout can solve the bottlenecking at 3rd and Russell – which anyone who lives in the neighborhood can attest to the level of traffic that S. 3rd St. W carries – certainly it can address the load at Russell & Broadway.

But maybe the goal is to slow it down there so it doesn’t get out to Mullan and Reserve (via Mullan off of Broadway) any faster? Because we all know what a joy Mullan and Reserve is during rush hour and any time after 10 a.m.

I mean, really – what is the logic? Because I’m missing it with that huge amount of asphalt for half of the project, stopping abruptly at the very busy intersection of 3rd and Russell.

My neighbors and I have mulled this over for a couple of weeks now – and the only conclusion we’ve come to is that engineers love to build things. Big things.

Call me crazy, but I’d like to see a two lane with planted median (irrigated please!). Roundabouts to keep traffic moving. Bike lanes and sidewalks and a nice 20 minute walk from the Good Food Store to the mixed use development of the old Champion site and a lovely walk or bike ride right into the center of downtown Missoula.

by Rebecca Schmitz

Hey, I’m bitter. As if the existence of this manufactured controversy wasn’t enough, now we’ve got local politicians using it to play a little CYA. It’s irritating to be told how to feel about Obama’s comments. It’s even more irritating to watch fellow Democrats take a page out of the Republican play book of division, derision and fear.

[Bill] Kennedy said. “Senator Obama showed a real disconnect with rural Montana. It might work to look down on us from San Francisco, but it won’t sell when he comes back to Montana.”

Who can blame Bill? He was only taking a cue from the ringmaster of this three-ring media circus.

Clinton, at an event before the Alliance for Manufacturing Forum in Pittsburgh, noted that “I am well aware that at a fundraiser in San Francisco, he said some things that many people in Pennsylvania and beyond Pennsylvania have found offensive…”

Excuse me, Hillary? As that SF Gate article correctly noted, San Francisco in politico-speak is usually code for homosexuals and environmentalists and single mothers and peace activists and all the other liberal bogeymen Republicans use to scare up votes. I’m sure John McBush will be using the code come this autumn; I expect this kind of behavior from the GOP. However, I sure as hell don’t expect it from MY candidate. I don’t want a Democrat who plays the divide-and-conquer game just like a Republican. Why on earth would I vote for someone who sounds just like professional gasbag and former Dick Cheney employee Mary Matalin?

What he said accurately reflects the current Democratic Party. It’s more affluent. It’s more liberal. That’s the way it’s moving. He was saying it to San Francisco Democrats, rich San Francisco Democrats…

Mary’s wrong, as usual. Thanks to politicians who encourage fear and hysteria, the party will be moving in another direction, one that attracts people like this guy:

“I’m pro-life, pro-family, pro-seal-the-borders,” King said. “I think we need to stop the pork in Washington; and I stand for family issues like traditional family, not all these kinky things on the outside.”

Scapegoats. Politicians use them to pander to voters. Some politicians use guns and religion. Some, like Ravalli County Republican precinct chairman Bruce King up there, use anyone having better sex. Bill Kennedy and Hillary Clinton? Well, they use their fellow Democrats.




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