Various & Sundry for the Weekend

by jhwygirl

Well…came across a National Journal article that links to a Great Falls Tribune – John S. Adams news article on Sen. Baucus’ annual Big Sky retreat for health care sector lobbyists.

That’s no joke, people – Montana’s senior Senator actually hosts an annual fling-ding in Big Sky specifically for lobbyists from the health care sector. Pretty unreal.

Nice to see, though, national media taking notice of Montana’s fine journalists.

Bozeman Chronicle had an article recently on the big Hebgan Lake earthquake of 1959. All that geology stuff fascinates me and I’ve read a good bit on that event, but I don’t ever recall hearing that a kid survived the boulder-smashed-a-tent story. The 50-year anniversary is coming up: August 17th.

In last V&S I mentioned ex-health insurance executive Wendell Potter – well, this week the UK’s Guardian did an interview with him. Fascinating view of our fabulously wonderful American real world health care system.

Bozeman’s spending $10,000 to hire a Missoula investigator to look into the who what why when of the City’s requirement that job applicants had to provide their facebook/social networking site passwords…and email and banking information, too, apparently. That really is an incredible situation. How could someone even dream that up, yet alone implement it?

So I guess it’s all good – The Lawsuiters hire a Bozeman attorney and the City of Bozeman hires a Missoula investigator.

Serendipity.

I want to remind everyone that August 10th is the deadline for submitting public comment to FWP about their plans to electrify numerous state park campgrounds. Comments should be directed to Lee Bastian by phone to 406-542-5517 or emailed to lbastian@mt.gov. Today’s the first of the month – get it done and tell a friend.

Oh – how about this one: NY’s Attorney General is looking into 9 banks that needed and took the most bailout money, and still handed out minimum $1,000,000 bonuses to 5 THOUSAND employees. When you read how much these guys lost to earn that kind of bonus, it makes you kind of sick.

Reform anyone? Pretty Please??

OK. One more.

Ward 1 Councilman Dave Strohmaier has invited everyone to the Greenough bridge restoration fundraiser. It’s today, from 3 – 5 p.m. at the picnic shelter.

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  1. I screwed up the time. It’s from 3-5 p.m. at the Greenough Park Picnic shelter.

  2. goofhoulihan

    ” The Lawsuiters hire a Bozeman attorney and the City of Bozeman hires a Missoula investigator.”

    Self inflicted wounds are the worst!

    “How could someone even dream that up, yet alone implement it?

    The cops are still defending it.

  3. JAYoung

    How about this for a Saturday afternoon news dump:
    http://alaskareport.com/news39/x71283_divorce_palins.htm

  4. problembear

    sure hope it’s true- i hear from my alaska friends that the palin’s dumpster leftovers are to die over……

  5. JAYoung

    Come to think of it, I’ve never seen a certified copy of her marriage certificate.
    Maybe they’ve been living in sin all these years.

  6. Lizard

    No Bailout Can Stop The Sinking

    snip:

    The cost to the working and middle class is becoming unsustainable. The Fed reported that households lost $5.1-trillion, or 9 per cent, of their wealth in the last three months of 2008, the most ever in a single quarter in the 57-year history of record-keeping by the central bank. For the full year, household wealth dropped $11.1-trillion, or about 18 per cent.

    These figures did not record the decline of investments in the stock market, which has probably erased trillions more in the country’s collective net worth.

    The bullet to our head, inevitable if we do not radically alter course, will be sudden. We have been borrowing at the rate of more than $2-billion a day over the last 10 years, and at some point it has to stop. The moment China, the oil-rich states, and other international investors stop buying U.S. Treasury Bonds, the dollar will become junk.

    Inflation will rocket upward. We will become Weimar Germany. A furious and sustained backlash by a betrayed and angry populace, one unprepared intellectually and psychologically for collapse, will sweep aside the Democrats and most of the Republicans.

    A cabal of proto-fascist misfits, from Christian demagogues to simpletons like Sarah Palin to loudmouth talk-show hosts, whom we naïvely dismiss as buffoons, will find a following with promises of revenge and moral renewal. The elites, the ones with their Harvard Business School degrees and expensive vocabularies, will retreat into their sheltered enclaves of privilege and comfort. We will be left bereft, abandoned outside the gates, and at the mercy of the security state.

    • Lizard

      too depressing? Naomi Klein offers a slightly less depressing analysis.

      This is the most comforting and dangerous lie that there is: the lie that perpetual, unending growth is possible on our finite planet. And we have to remember that this message was incredibly popular in those first two weeks, before Lehman collapsed. Despite Bush’s record, Palin and McCain were pulling ahead. And if it weren’t for the financial crisis, and for the fact that Obama started connecting with working class voters by putting deregulation and trickle-down economics on trial, they might have actually won.
      The President tells us he wants to look forward, not backwards. But in order to confront the lie of perpetual growth and limitless abundance that is at the centre of both the ecological and financial crises, we have to look backwards. And we have to look way backwards, not just to the past eight years of Bush and Cheney, but to the very founding of this country, to the whole idea of the settler state.
      Modern capitalism was born with the so-called discovery of the Americas. It was the pillage of the incredible natural resources of the Americas that generated the excess capital that made the Industrial Revolution possible. Early explorers spoke of this land as a New Jerusalem, a land of such bottomless abundance, there for the taking, so vast that the pillage would never have to end. This mythology is in our biblical stories-of floods and fresh starts, of raptures and rescues-and it is at the centre of the American Dream of constant reinvention. What this myth tells us is that we don’t have to live with our pasts, with the consequences of our actions. We can always escape, start over.
      These stories were always dangerous, of course, to the people who were already living on the “discovered” lands, to the people who worked them through forced labour. But now the planet itself is telling us that we cannot afford these stories of endless new beginnings anymore. That is why it is so significant that at the very moment when some kind of human survival instinct kicked in, and we seemed finally to be coming to grips with the Earth’s natural limits, along came Palin, the new and shiny incarnation of the colonial frontierswoman, saying: Come on up to Alaska. There is always more. Don’t think, just take.
      This is not about Sarah Palin. It’s about the meaning of that myth of constant “discovery,” and what it tells us about the economic system that they’re spending trillions of dollars to save. What it tells us is that capitalism, left to its own devices, will push us past the point from which the climate can recover. And capitalism will avoid a serious accounting-whether of its financial debts or its ecological debts-at all costs. Because there’s always more. A new quick fix. A new frontier.

      • pj

        Good stuff there Lizard. I hope we can grasp that while we may still have the chance.

        • goofhoulihan

          Yep, the first thing to do is realize that the Federal Government can’t spend more than it takes it. When Clinton was president we still talked about balanced budgets. Bush blew that away, and now it’s not even a guilty thought in the back of anyone’s mind.

          We need to live within our means. Being sustainable requires it. Otherwise we are headed over that cliff.

          • Anon

            “When Clinton was president we still talked about balanced budgets.”

            And that’s all that was done – talk. The national debt has increased every year since 1958 according to the US Treasury.
            http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt.htm
            Click on the date range you want to see.

            I do agree we need to live within our means. The problem there is that the people are too used to sucking the government teat and are incapable of taking care of themselves. Since the department of HEW was created in the early 1950’s, Society has evolved into something that is not sustainable over the long term.

            Unfortunately, no one seems to have the strength to do what is required to reverse the course and get back on track. We are accelerating towards the cliff at full throttle and have passed the point of no return. It is now just a matter of time.

          • JC

            Spoken like a true republican. Balanced budgets are only worth trumpeting about when the democrats are in control.

            But when republican reign, balanced budgets are “not even a guilty thought in the back of anyone’s mind.” That’s because republican goals really are all about transferring capital from the public sector to the private.

            I believe that the whole Bush & Co operation was just an attempt to break the bank so that there wasn’t any money left for the democrats to do anything new with. The bank bailout was a very timely gift from Bush to the banks, as he headed out the door.

            The crime is that he managed to get the dem congress to go along with it, because they couldn’t look like they were doing nothing in the middle of an election.

        • Lizard

          thanks pj.

          if people in this country can’t address the warped concept of american exceptionalism; if they can’t understand the ultimately self-destructive ambition of “full spectrum dominance” then we will continue toward a degree of collapse that will hurt a lot of people, here and abroad.

          but the fallout from unsustainable growth and our arrogant national hubris won’t be felt by everyone. those who can afford to will buy security from private security forces, like Xe (formerly blackwater) and will live in increasingly isolated, barricaded communities. we are not heading for a total collapse. like klein said, crony capitalism is already rebounding for some well-connctd bankers, and if we allow them, the same scams will be resuscitated.

          if we can’t find a way to move beyond the right/left dynamic they’re using to keep us divided, then our future is a new feudalism.

          • pj

            The way I look at all of this isn’t from a left/right have/havenot economic point of view. If we continue to overpopulate our range and continue to expect and demand unlimited growth, and if we continue to treat our planet as a warehouse of resources and a dumping ground for the resultant waste, we humans, as well as numerous other species will sooner or later find ourselves truly and utterly and horribly homeless in the most profound sense of the word. We’ll have no earth to sustain us. No amount of money in the bank will ever buy that back, and no technology will ever be capable of rebuilding it.

          • JC

            Don’t forget Simon Johnson’s admonition about crony capitalism. That you can only break it by withholding any form of government aid for private corporations until the corporations (in this case the banks) fundamentally change how they operate–both through changes in regulation, and corporate leadership.

            So as long as we still have a notion that some entity is “too big to fail,” we’ll still have crony capitalism. Regulation and anti-trust laws need to be invoked so that we no longer have a country at risk if any one player, or a group of players were to implode.

            And of course, we’ve yet to see any moves like that. The notion of American exceptionalism still is holding out that somehow we’re different than any other 3rd world emerging economy. Except that crony capitalism knows no borders.




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