Archive for September, 2009

by JC

Now just where is that Republican health care plan that Cantor and Boehner promised the country months ago?

Last night, in a controversial speech on the House floor, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) announced that the Republican alternative health care proposals would force sick Americans to “die quickly”:

It’s my duty and pride tonight to be able to announce exactly what the Republicans plan to do for health care in America… It’s a very simple plan. Here it is. The Republican health care plan for America: “don’t get sick.” If you have insurance don’t get sick, if you don’t have insurance, don’t get sick; if you’re sick, don’t get sick. Just don’t get sick. … If you do get sick America, the Republican health care plan is this: “die quickly.”

Anybody want to defend republican support for the status quo here?

And for those that think republicans have a plan for health care reform, why didn’t they git ‘er done during their time in control of Congress and the Bush White House?

And all of you with out-dated conservative ideas and/or tea bagger noise with no political base to work from, you’re just pissin’ in the wind here.

by Pete Talbot

I certainly hope so. I’ve been able to catch most of the documentary on our country’s national parks, produced by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan, and airing on Montana PBS stations. It’s an extraordinary series.

The show’s subtitle is “America’s Best Idea.” Well, it certainly is one of them. And our national park system is unique to America.

The historical battle to authorize pristine areas “for all people” and to preserve and maintain them for future generations is fascinating. It was often a few dedicated, passionate (and sometimes very wealthy) individuals who convinced congress to establish these national parks, one at a time. The obstacles were many and the arguments against forming these national treasures sound very familiar to the debate surrounding the protection of what’s left of our wild and scenic landscapes today.

Fortunately, the national park advocates of generations ago prevailed. Can you imagine this country without Grand Canyon National Park or Yosemite, Yellowstone or Glacier?

Around the same time the show premiered, Sen. Tester was in Bozeman explaining his Montana wilderness proposal. There seems to be some discontent on all sides of the issue. It’s the usual players: wilderness advocates v. the extractive industries, motorized vehicle riders v. hikers v. mountain bikers v. horseback riders …

Most everyone applauds the Senator for his effort, though, and appreciates his balanced approach (although they wish it was balanced more in their direction).

The final draft is yet to hit the Senate so here’s a plea from a constituent. Jon, as you are weighing the options, please come down on the side of wilderness. If the PBS documentary taught me anything, it’s that they’re not making too much of it anymore and future generations will thank you.

by jhwygirl

We have a fancy-schmancy statistics page that tells us (it isn’t too scientific or anything) who is reading what, where they’re linking in here from, and what they are searching on search engines to get to 4&20’s stuff.

I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or anything, but “satan” has been running pretty high on the list lately, as has “John Hendrickson”.

I am not joking.

So in an effort to save what may be some newer locals (hopefully they are registered voters in Ward 2), I thought I’d recap some of the best of Councilperson John Hendrickson over the last couple years:

Missoula Councilman Hendrickson Doesn’t Just Quash Public Comment, He Ignores It

Another City Council Resolution

More Back-Peddling on Roundabouts from Ballas, Hendrickson, Nicholson, Wilkins and Haines

Council Antics Buried in the Financial Folly of this Past Monday

Great Minds Think Alike

John Hendrickson’s Budget Cuts or the Other Names to Remember

The Lunacy that is John Hendrickson (Live Blogging) That one was a good one, if I don’t say so myself

Hendrickson Hates Seniors

The Not So Anonymous Zoning Petition and the Yellow-Bellied Rants of John Hendrickson

Live Blogging City Council Zoning Rewrite

What Murky Mess the City Council Curmudgeons Have Weaved for Themselves

Do These People Not Resemble Brown Shirts?

and finally?

The Tomfoolery, Shenanigans of Councilpersons John Hendrickson, Renee Mitchell, Lyn Hellegaard and Ward 3 Candidate John Quandt

Anyways…just trying to make it easier on the voters, don’tcha know….

by jhwygirl

Longer-term readers of this 4&20 might remember my skepticism of the now (seemingly…I do believe in zombies) defunct Performing Arts Center fiasco of 2 years ago.

I mean – if King George can keep resurfacing his damned golf course-killing condo plan every couple years – call me a skeptic – it isn’t far fetched to think that that darned PAC won’t resurface….but I digress.

Last night, the Missoula Events Center (MEC) steering committee unveiled its plans for an events center for Missoula. With proper pomp-and-procedure, a carefully orchestrated event designed to make the mere commoners believe that electeds were all in support (since they were all ushered to the front rows for not only the best seats, but to make them all visible to everyone there), delivered to Missoulians the important information that:

(One) We don’t have a non-university related events center when compared with a randomly picked sampling of other university towns (the horrors!)
(Two) That cities that “compete with Missoula for economic development” (Texas?) have centers and Missoula doesn’t (crisis!)
(Three) Only 6 facilities exist in Missoula that have over 10,000 square feet of space! (Red Flag Warning!) Those include the Missoula Children’s Theater (at 17,748 square feet – and boy, that thing hardly has an open night to host all those conventions and events lining up to come here!), the UM Center (at 21,205 square feet) and, yep, the Adam’s Center, at 31,700 square feet.
(Four) A new facility would have the advantage of – well – being new.

Apparently I’m not part of the crowd of people that travel to places just to see their new events center. Who knew it was such a cool thing to do?

After the presentation (done by Hunden Strategic Partners, out of Chicago and Indiana) went through the ‘what Missoula has and why we need it’ portion, it went on to compare what regional competitors have (Spokane, Billings, Bozeman, Belgrade, Butte, Great Falls) have.

What? No mention of the Lewis & Clark County’s new, 36,000 square foot exhibit/convention/car show/concert hall. Didn’t work that into your analysis because – maybe? – it was new and the one’s that they picked elsewhere were built at the average date of 1976?

I mean – how’d they miss that?

All those comparisons and nothing telling us how many events per year? Capacity ratio? They gave us the hotel occupancy rates throughout the year, but didn’t think to tell us how jam-packed and overbooked all those comparables are in the region?

I also love how the throw the Bozeman Brickhouse in – considering that they started off with the horror that Missoula doesn’t have a non-university related events center. But yeah – that Brickhouse is pretty and would make someone wanting one of these things jealous. It’s Bozeman after all! Gotta keep up with the Jones’!

They also use the Belgrade Special Events Center – built by the school district to host regional sports events.

Why no comparison, then, with the Osprey Stadium (or whatever it’s called these days?) Cause you know that’s packed with outdoor concerts and stuff….and you know that is how that was sold to Missoulians nearly 8 years ago, right?. Call the Mayor and ask to see the agreement. We were blessed with a facility that was going to be for baseball and at least 2 outdoor events each year for the first 10 years…and then it gets turned over to the city.

So they build the presentation into a crescendo of “Everyone has one – and you, Missoula, are behind. Nerd.” level and then drop the bomb of their analysis (which included lots and lots of fine pictures of Brennan’s Wave and views of the Higgin’s Avenue Bridge and Caras Park and the Boone and Crockett and the U…and downtown, of course – but where do they believe this convention center should go? Out by Reserve Street and the Airport.

It scored 92 points, don’tcha know?

Economic Development my ass. It’s an economic UNdevelopment plan to kill downtown is what it is.

What? 17 acres of parking? 5 acres for the building? Easy access to what? Those hotels and motels that all end with the letter “N”? Meh.

The funniest absurdity of the night? Here it is: The steering committee comes to unveil its project. It’s the first time most are hearing of it, yet alone being able to see this pseudo early feasibility analysis of why we must have one…and after pulling all the ‘important’ people up front together for everyone to see, and they’re done with their presentation, they ask if everyone’s on board for the next step (which is putting them under contract for the full feasibility study – that probably-close-to-if-not-6-digit-contract) while everyone is still absorbing who? what? where? when? how much? Obligatory applause ends the presentation and little time is left for anyone that was even able to think of anything to ask.

You mean there was a quiz, sir?

So maybe I AM right. Maybe the PAC isn’t dead, and the MEC is just the zombie reincarnation of it. Because – you know – the Board of County Commissioners are on board with this. Of course, the numero uno location is close, if not within, their overwrought-with-bidders county economic development park.

Who wants to start the office poll on how many millions they’ll be asking to have put on the ballot to get this thing off the ground?

What comes around goes around. And around. And around. Kinda like the water draining out of the bathtub.

Thanks a bunch, Max

by Pete Talbot

I’ll keep this short and let the others who are better versed in health care reform than I to weigh in — both here and at other sites.

Sen. Baucus voted against a public option plan, similar to Medicare, that was proposed by Sen. Jay Rockefeller.

Baucus said he voted against it because he’s looking for a plan that would get all 60 Democratic votes in the Senate.

I know Max is savvy enough to count votes.  So, which Democrats are against the public option?  Please, tell us Max.  That way we can work our asses of to keep them from getting re-elected — just as I’ve committed myself to searching for a candidate to run against you in the 2014 primary election.

by Pete Talbot

In my constant quest to recycle the occasional wine and beer bottle. or mayonnaise and pickle jar that ends up in my trash, I discovered glass recycling bins in Drummond, of all places.

The bins are at the Drummond dump on the east side of town. If you’re coming from Missoula, take the first and only exit off I-90 (headed east), go through the urban core, and you’ll find the dump about a half mile up the road after going under I-90.

You don’t have to sort the glass by color but they ask that it be clean so maybe give those jars and bottles a quick rinse before putting them in your bin at home.

I don’t have much detail here. Is this some sort of grant? Why Drummond and not Missoula? Who’s responsible for the bins? I saw some Allied Waste dumpsters around but since AW doesn’t recycle glass anywhere else in Montana, that I know of, what’s the deal? Inquiring minds want to know.

Since the glass isn’t sorted by color, I assume it goes into a crusher somewhere to be turned into aggregate or sand. This isn’t the best practice for recycling glass — turning the old glass into new glass, or reusing the bottles and jars would be better — but this is an improvement over sending the stuff to the landfill. Plus, it should reduce the need to dig more holes in the ground to produce sand and gravel.

(Remember those attempts at passing a bottle bill in Montana that were thwarted by the beverage industry?)

At this point, I wouldn’t worry about overflowing the small town’s bins. The three locals I asked directions from in order to find the glass recycling “center” in the metropolis of Drummond didn’t even know the town was recycling glass.

“You might try the dump,” one old-timer said.

Making a special trip to Drummond just to recycle your glass probably won’t reduce your carbon footprint. But if you’re heading east for pleasure or business, load up some glass and check out the Drummond dump.

(UPDATE: For those who don’t make it to the comment section, word has it that there are glass recycling bins in P-burg, Butte and Dillon. Time for Missoula to get on the ball.)

by jhwygirl

Tuesday night is an opportunity to meet Ward 2 candidate Roy Houseman, Jr. – if you haven’t already.

I can say enough about how much I really like this guy. He’s wise beyond his late-20something years, is union representative for Smurfit-Stone, married and owner of his first home with his lovely wife Andrea.

We’ve mentioned him ’round these parts at least 4 times, including this piece and another one which linked to The Independent’s profile of Roy Houseman, done by Skylar Browning back in January.

Ward 2 is a funky ward – encompassing the Northside, the Westside, Grant Creek, and north of Wyoming Street and generally east of Reserve. It’s a tough ward – I mean – imagine door-knocking Grant Creek..but Roy’s been at it. So much so that I hear that his wife is calling herself an campaign widow.

Houseman is a great progressive candidate, focused on moving Missoula forward on the important issues of affordable housing, reasonable and bigger picture transportation solutions and managing Missoula’s growth with a vision towards the long-term,

Have I said how much I just absolutely adore Roy Houseman? ‘Cause I do…

Regardless of which ward you live in here in the City proper – you will be fortunate to have Roy Houseman sitting in Ward 2’s council seat..which leads me to the following:

Cynthia Wolken and LaNette Diaz are hosting a “Meet Roy Houseman” event. It’s at 1316B Cooper St (which is Ms. Wolken’s house), 6:30 to 9. This is, of course, a fundraiser – so any spare bucks you have would be a big help…but of course, offering up your time for calls or literature drops and door knocking would also be greatly appreciated.

For some additional information about Roy Houseman, check out his website

VOTE ROY HOUSEMAN FOR WARD 2

by jhwygirl

That’s from television host Jay Leno.

When mainstream network television is saying that in prime time…well, I’d have to say that those teabagger and anti-health reformers got problems.

That’s all.

by Pete Talbot

As much as U.S. Rep. Rehberg and state Sen. Greg Barkus wish they could take back the night of August 27, it ain’t going away.

Lee Newspaper’s Jennifer McKee has a pretty decent analysis of the politics of late surrounding the boat wreck. I have a few comments on her story, of course:

First, McKee states that, ” … Rehberg is heading into a good time to run for re-election as a Republican in Montana and he’s got a lot of money.” I agree with “a lot of money” but why is this a good time to run for re-election as a Republican in Montana? Denny’s the only Republican in the state to hold any sort of high office, which doesn’t trend well. He’s really nothing more than an obstructionist when it comes to health care reform, our economic crisis, climate change … well. the list goes on-and-on. I truly believe that Denny is as vulnerable as he’s ever been. Just look at these polling numbers from August of this year.

The there’s Montana Cowgirl’s withering critique of Rehberg over at Left in the West. She lauds Democratic challenger Dennis McDonald’s charges that Rehberg used “bad judgment” for taking staffers on a boat ride, after drinking, with Barkus at the wheel.

Here’s the story on McDonald’s written attack on Rehberg. I’m not sure how savvy this is and kind of prefer McDonald’s primary opponent, Tyler Gernant’s, take on the accident (which was to bring up health care reform, noting that Rehberg has great, taxpayer-subsidized health insurance whereas, if it were you or me, we’d probably be paying off the medical bills for the rest of our lives). I prefer those who take the high road when it comes personal politics but that isn’t what’s taught in Campaign 101 and I suppose McDonald wants to strike while the iron is hot.

Speaking of Campaign 101, and back to Ms. McKee’s analysis, there are some quotes from political science professor at Eastern Montana College’s (yeah, yeah, I know it’s MSU-Billings now, whatever) Craig Wilson:

“I was a bit surprised by the timing of it,” Wilson said of McDonald’s attack. “It seemed a bit early.”

So when should McDonald attack, if he’s going to at all? A year after the fact? When everyone has forgotten about the incident? I don’t know why Montana journalists always go to Wilson for comments. The guy bugs me (more on Wilson here and here).

Then McKee quotes Will Deschamps, Montana Republican Party Chairman, who castigates McDonald for attacking Rehberg’s “bad judgment.” Deschamps compares Rehberg’s judgement call to McDonald’s support for a health care public option. Huh?

Finally, McKee quotes former Montana Republican Party Executive Director Jake Eaton. Remember Jake? He was behind the voter suppression campaign last fall, and this past summer he’s helping the teabaggers. What a source!

Anyway, it looks like boat driver Barkus’ political career is over. It’s still a question as to how much Rehberg will be hurt by the incident. I sincerely hope that Denny doesn’t lose the race because of this particular case of bad judgment. Unless one is being a total hypocrite, I prefer seeing personal issues kept out of the political debate. Rather, Rehberg should lose because of his lack of judgment on so many legislative matters, and his inability to advance any meaningful legislation in his five terms as our representative in congress.

Looney tUNes

by JC

Thought for day: aren’t the leaders of the Republican Party just as looney as the leaders of Libya, Iran and Venezuela?

looney-tunes

by JC

scofflaws
I’ve known that it would eventually come to this. Us single payer advocates liked the simplicity of the system: auto enrollment for all citizens. You get sick, or have an accident and need health care, you just go to the doctor or ER and get it. If you hadn’t signed up for the plan yet, that was no problem. You could do it at the point of health care delivery.

Now that single payer is no longer on the table, universal health care (or 94% universal in the Baucus plan) can only be achieved through coercion. Buy insurance–either private or through some nebulous, and yet to be contrived public option or coop–or pay a fine. Penalty. Whatever.

So we have been asked to accept the regressive notion of mandates, necessary to maintain the status quo of corporatism in private health care insurance monopolies, in order to (almost, kinda, sorta) achieve the progressive goal of universal health care.

This is where the libertarian streak in many of us progressives really starts to jump out, and to join forces with conservatives to question just what in the hell are democrats turning into?

You see, I’m against a mandate that is enforced through the IRS. Always have been–since I first read about it last year in Baucus’ white paper–and always will be. And I don’t like the government mechanism to assist those who can’t afford a private or public plan relying on the use of tax credits. There are far better ways of doing it.

Lower and middle income people with any sort of tax offset will never get the tax credits needed to buy the insurance–unless mandaters come up with a mechanism to bypass offsets, which I’ve never heard of the IRS doing. And I have yet to see a mechanism by which Baucus’ plan will guarantee credits to those with offsets.

Of course, there are those that will say that people with IRS offsets aren’t worthy enough to qualify for subsidies to help pay for insurance. A new “Uniquely American™” tale of two cities.

Basically, I’m against the IRS getting involved in health care in any fashion. Just doesn’t make sense, even when mandaters propose “exceptions.” See, there are going to be at least 6% uninsured in the faux nuevo universal care system that is being proposed and marked up as we read.

Are all 6% going to be given exemptions? Will the rest who are mandated, but unexempted be subject to fines? What will happen to non filers? Homeless and/or mentally ill? Round ’em up and ship them off to scofflaw and debtor jail-camps? Tattoo a “Need Not Apply” disclaimer on the arms of those living under bridges, or who have defaulted on student loans, have unpaid back taxes, or missed child support payments?

Dude, better get straight with the IRS quick, or they’ll have another way to strong-arm you into compliance.

In some ways I read into Baucus’ proposal a carrot-and-stick approach to bolstering IRS and tax law compliance. Health care being the carrot, and penalty, fine and jail being the stick. All hail the mighty IRS health care compliance cops. Let’s build an even more unjust system of haves and have nots. Piss off the IRS in any way, and you’ll just have to suffer the consequences of unaffordable, unsubsidized health insurance. Take that! Off with you!

In an exchange on George Stephanopolous’ “This Week” between Senator Chuck Grassley, Baucus, and Joint Committee on Taxation chief of staff, Thomas Barthold, we discover that the penalty for not submitting to mandation is in effect a penalty excise tax, enforceable under current IRS tax laws.

Grassley: It gets back to something that President Obama was speaking about on the Sunday talk shows, trying to say that it’s not true that the penalty for not getting insurance is a tax, referring to the individual mandate.

The mark before us makes it pretty clear that the penalty is a tax, it looks like the tax is now up to about $2,000 dollars a year, so Mr. Barthold, isn’t the penalty here an excise tax and won’t it affect people making under $250,000 dollars a year?

Barthold: Senator Grassley, the penalty proposed in the Chairman’s mark, is as you observed, it’s structured as a penalty excise tax, we have other penalty excise taxes in the internal revenue code…

We have not done a combined distribution analyses across income to specifically answer your question but to the extent that yes we think that some people would be subject to the penalty excise tax when everything shakes out we would expect that some would have incomes less than $200,000 dollars.

Baucus: Let me just say on that point, that’s an interesting question. This is really a penalty that’s being collected by the Internal Revenue Service…

And of course, if you flout those laws and don’t–or can’t–pay the penalty, you are subject to an up to $25,000 dollar fine, and 1 year in prison. To further illuminate this problem, Senator Ensign specifically asked Barthold about the penalty for not having insurance, the potential fine for not paying it, and ultimately jail time:

Under questioning from Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), Barthold said the IRS would “take you to court and undertake normal collection proceedings.”

And to underscore his point, Barthold provided Ensign with a hand written note to that effect, that I posted above.

On the bright side, I hear that you get free health care while in prison.

On the down side, it is so odd that I find myself siding with Senator’s Grassley and Ensign on this matter. How democrats ever wound up accepting such a regressive compromise as Baucus’ IRS mandated non-universal health care system, when one with auto enrollment made so much more sense is beyond me. Well, beyond me until I read Baucus’ campaign finance reports, that is.

I hope that some fine progressives in the House find a way to do away with the regressive nature of this system, and work to fix it. Otherwise, the feds are going to have to figure out a way to pay for and provide lots of free health care via the government run federal penitentiary system–a true single payer system, if ever there was one. And I guess you get a hot meal and place to sleep with that, too.

What is Going On in America?

by jhwygirl

Associated Press is reporting the discovery of a hanged census worker in Kentucky.

Bill Sparkman, 51, was found with the word “fed” written across his chest. Suicide seems unlikely, as Sparkman had beaten non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He was a substitute teacher, an Eagle Scout who had moved to Kentucky to be a local director for the Boy Scouts of America. He did census work part-time to supplement his income.

What is on the minds of many is whether this murder is the materialization of rising anti-government sentiment, championed by the likes of Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin and Bill O’Reilly. Tea-baggers.

His body was found September 12th – the day of the tea-bagger’s march on Washington.

Ugh.

Committing a crime against a person because the are a federal worker or while they are doing their job is a federal offense. Let’s hope that the FBI is able to find the perpetrator (or perpetrators) and determine whether this is what it looks like.

Flame away – I’m beyond disgust anymore, and no – I won’t shield my thoughts or beliefs on this rising anti-government racist tide of garbage (unlike President Obama).

by Pete Talbot

Zoning Rewrite

University-area homeowner Ian Lange had an erroneous op-ed in Sunday’s Missoulian. Fortunately, Ward 3’s Bob Jaffe debunks Lange’s misinformation, point-by-point.

The short version is that Lange thinks Missoula’s zoning rewrite will stifle economic growth by turning established neighborhoods into ghettos (by allowing more density). Lange suggests that ADUs — little apartments in backyards or over garages — will chase businesses away. He believes that more density in the urban core is a bad thing, and favors suburban sprawl and long commutes.

IMHO the zoning rewrite doesn’t go far enough in allowing infill in Missoula, but the majority on city council felt it had to compromise with the noisy zoning naysayers, and lawsuit-happy minority on council. Still, Lange and his cadre continue to spread half-truths and fear.

Endorsements

These endorsements have been out for awhile but I thought I’d recap. First, Montana Conservation Voters have endorsed the following candidates for Missoula City Council:

Mayor – John Engen

Ward 1 -Dave Strohmaeir

Ward 2 – Roy Houseman

Ward 3 – Bob Jaffe

Ward 5 – Mike O’Herron

Ward 6 – Marilyn Marler

The Missoula County Democrats also endorsed. Same as the list above, with two exceptions: the Dems didn’t endorse the mayor, which I’m assuming was just an oversight, but they did endorse Ward 4’s Jon Wilkins. The Wilkins’ endorsement surprised me because as often as not, he votes with the conservatives on council. I guess they figured that because he’s running unopposed, they might as well — no reason to go out of their way to piss him off. On the other hand, the mayor is running unopposed, too, so why not endorse him? Hmmm.


by Pete Talbot

I was relieved when I heard that Dustin Frost had come out of his coma. Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ll know that Dustin was the most seriously injured in a boating accident earlier this month. Also injured in the crash were Rep. Denny Rehberg, another of Rehberg’s staff (besides Dustin), the boat’s driver (State Senator Greg Barkus) and Barkus’ wife.

Recovery from a head injury can be a long and arduous process. How does a family cover the costs? This, from the Montana Kaimin story:

… the creation of “Team Ginger” attire to raise money for the “Family and Friends of Dustin Frost Fund,” which will assist with medical expenses …

I’m not sure what the “Team Ginger” alludes to. Maybe someone can explain this in the comments. The “Team Ginger” refers to Dustin’s red hair. Apparently its usage comes from South Park television episodes. A “Team Ginger” logo is on merchandise available to the public at this website.

Here’s the irony — at least for me. Rehberg is fighting any meaningful health care reform tooth-and-nail. He likes things the way they are. And this status quo? It means you have to sell t-shirts, baseball caps and other paraphernalia to pay your medical bills.

Now I’m sure Rehberg’s most excellent, taxpayer-subsidized health care will cover the majority of the costs related to his injury. Regular folks, however, face financial ruin when suffering a serious injury or other health problems. Or I guess they can sell t-shirts to help make ends meet.

by jhwygirl

Lotsa links, and looks to be what appears a comprehensive summary of the current amendments.

This article, from the Washington Post, is quite lengthy, but it does a great job of trying to quantify the actual costs of health care – the costs that seem to be lost on many. It uses the Kaiser Foundation’s 2009 Employer Benefits Survey as its basis. Most people recognize the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation as a well-respected, non-partisan source for health insurance and health industry analysis.

The Kaiser Health News is a daily must-read for me, and I’ve had a link up over there under “Citizen’s Info” for quite some time.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has proposed a five-member Health Care Services Commission and an Office of the Forum for Quality and Effectiveness in Health Care (how’s that for panels, folks?), which would be appointed by the President and approved by the Senate.

What do you think is meant to happen when those panels and commissions come to the conclusion that certain things aren’t covered, or aren’t reimbursed enough?

Coburn’s proposal mirrors what happened in the House for HB3200 – Republicans offered up amendments at the speed of sound that added cost and expanded both coverage and oversight.

That’s what people call “making sausage.” Now the key is to keep track of what’s going in – and as one person I know recently noted – keep the pig’s ears and other undesirable parts (he used other words) out.

Of course – he was saying that they already went in to the Baucus bill and it’s hard to get ’em out….

by jhwygirl

Montana Kaimin goes big on exposing the sheer disregard Griz coach Bobby Hauck has for the reputation of the University of Montana and the safety of the residents of Missoula, exposing more violence, internal investigations and more of Hauck’s “no comment” policy. This includes covering up a tape recorder, refusing to answer questions, threatening to boycott the newspaper and bullying reporters out of the room.

This isn’t new, and the Kaimin listed the last two years of known criminal activity by the Griz players.

God knows what we don’t hear about or what else Coach Hauck (and King George Dennison) is shoving under the carpet.

Bloods and Crips? WTF?!

And why are these guys still on the team, yet alone still hitting the field?

Shouldn’t expulsion from the team and the university be automatic? Maybe some cooperation and coordination with City of Missoula police?

Seriously? Is this what King George and UM alumni want? Football over academics? Who in the hell is running things over there? What, exactly, are their priorities?

Hauck is a DISGRACE. A DISGRACE. Dennison is just as bad (if not worse) for continuing to allow this to occur.

Winning should not take precedence over the safety of this community and the safety of UM students. Nor should it take precedence over the national image of the University of Montana.

Go Kaimin. Excellent gutsy reporting. Not that I feel safer, but this citizen of Missoula thanks you.

by jhwygirl

S.A.F.E. (Supporters of Abuse Free Environments), of Hamilton, recently scored a $483,148 grant provide safe, affordable transitional housing to domestic violence survivors and assist survivors with developing a plan to achieve self-sufficiency.

The money will be used to help provide housing for 6-24 months to families, along with follow-up care and support.

S.A.F.E. is the only agency in Ravalli County that provides this sort of support, and this grant will provide sorely needed safe housing, along with ensuring that it’s 24-hour support of domestic violence not only continues, but is able to meet the needs of the community. Previous budget cuts have made it a difficult road for this important organization.

A 2008 article from the Ravalli Republic details some of the extent of domestic violence in Ravalli County.

Congratulations. Not only will those funds go towards breaking the cycle of violence, they’ll help enable women, children and families towards productive lives – along with providing a nice economic boost to an ailing construction and development industry in the region.

by JC

A new study published online yesterday by the American Journal of Public Health brings to the fore the stark reality of undertaking underwriting in America. Modern insurance corporation underwriting has become the de novo death panel of the 21st century.

While tea baggers spent the month of August crying about how health care reform was going to pull the plug on grandma, and Sarah Palin breathed life into lies about government death panels, almost 4,000 Americans died prematurely because of lack of health care stemming from no health insurance. I have before, and will continue to lay the blame at the feet of those who fight against true health care reform.

It is unforgivable that this nation continues to struggle to provide the basic human necessity of health care to its citizens. While insurance reforms may, if successful, lead to a lowering of this number, that will be cold comfort to the hundreds of thousands of families that will have had to bury their loved ones before their time.

According to HarvardScience:

The study, conducted at Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance, found that uninsured, working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher risk of death than their privately insured counterparts, up from a 25 percent excess death rate found in 1993.

“The uninsured have a higher risk of death when compared to the privately insured, even after taking into account socioeconomics, health behaviors, and baseline health,” said lead author Andrew Wilper, M.D., who currently teaches at the University of Washington School of Medicine. “We doctors have many new ways to prevent deaths from hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease — but only if patients can get into our offices and afford their medications.”

The study, which analyzed data from national surveys carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), assessed death rates after taking into account education, income, and many other factors, including smoking, drinking, and obesity. It estimated that lack of health insurance causes 44,789 excess deaths annually…

Deaths associated with lack of health insurance now exceed those caused by many common killers such as kidney disease. An increase in the number of uninsured and an eroding medical safety net for the disadvantaged likely explain the substantial increase in the number of deaths, as the uninsured are more likely to go without needed care. Another factor contributing to the widening gap in the risk of death between those who have insurance and those who do not is the improved quality of care for those who can get it.

“Historically, every other developed nation has achieved universal health care through some form of nonprofit national health insurance. Our failure to do so means that all Americans pay higher health care costs, and 45,000 pay with their lives.” — Steffie Woolhandler, study co-author, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and a primary care physician at Cambridge Health Alliance

by Pete Talbot

Well, she’s at it again — my lamebrain (distant) relative who sends obnoxious, right-wing emails to my poor wife. This was last week’s. Here’s today’s (I apologize for some of the small fonts. This email arrived in a strange format — at least one that I wasn’t able to manipulate. The line above the stamp reads, USPS New 42-Stamp!!! Celebrates Muslim holiday.):

Fw_ NEW STAMP 1

Fw_ NEW STAMP

The final line in the email says, They (MUSLIMS) don’t even believe in Christ, & they’re getting their own Christmas stamp! BUT, don’t dare to dream of posting the ten commandments on federal property! This is truly UNBELIEVABLE !!!

Unbelievable is an understatement. This email comes from a self-proclaimed Christian, too. Guess she missed those teachings of Jesus’ — you know: tolerance, understanding, loving one’s fellow man.

Of course the greatest travesty here is lumping all Muslims into radical extremists and terrorists. This comes from small minds. I was fortunate, back in my film making days, to have traveled to many different countries — some of them Muslim. I met many exceptional people in these Muslim nations who treated me as if I were family (and were way more tolerant than this so-called Christian relative).

The Christian religion doesn’t exactly have an unblemished record. Think the Inquisition, the Crusades, burning “witches” at the stake, and the slaughter of so many “heathens” throughout history.

I’m also pretty sure that President Obama hasn’t “directed the United States Post Office to REMEMBER and HONOR the EID MUSLIM holiday season with a new commemorative 42-cent First Class Holiday Postage Stamp …” although it wouldn’t be that big a deal if he had. I believe he has a few more pressing things on his plate.

I like to think this stuff comes from the lunatic fringe but it’s still scary. I’ll keep posting these emails to offer some insight into the mind of a paranoid, right-wingnut.

Perhaps someday this relative will find a link to these posts of mine and she’ll disown me. I can live with that.

[UPDATE: Here is some background information on the stamp from an older press release from the USPS.  According to the release the stamp in question would be in, at least, its third re-issue (the first being on Sept. 1, 2001, during the George W. Bush administration).  Hat tip to Craig Moore.]

by JC

bride of baucus

It was only a matter of time till Baucus heeded the deadlines that President Obama and Majority Leader Harry Reed set out, and dumped his bill into the Finance Committee. In an 18 page press release (didn’t anybody ever teach these guys PR 101), Max outlined the framework of his bill. You also can read the Chairman’s Mark, if you are so inclined to sift through the 223 page Mark.

I’ve often said that Max Baucus positions himself in the middle of a legislative battle in such a way that he gauges the success of his compromising by the degree to which he offends the most people on both sides of his position. To that end, I’d say that Max must be celebrating a huge victory tonight, as it seems that he has not been able to garner any positive political support from either democrats or republicans.

But I think that a good place to begin the debate over Baucus’ efforts comes from HCAN, Health Care for America Now!, a “a national grassroots campaign of more than 1,000 organizations in 46 states representing 30 million people dedicated to winning quality, affordable health care.”

What did HCAN! have to say about Baucus’ bill today?

“The Baucus bill is a gift to the insurance industry that fails to meet the most basic promise of health care reform: a guarantee that Americans will have good health care that they can afford. The Baucus bill would give a government-subsidized monopoly to the private insurance industry to sell their most profitable plans – high-deductible insurance – without having to face competition from a public health insurer.

Under the Baucus bill, employers would have no responsibility to help pay for their workers’ coverage and would be given incentives to have workers pay more for barebones insurance. Americans who don’t get health benefits through work would still not be able to get good, affordable coverage.

We urge Senators on the Finance Committee to replace the Baucus plan with legislation that will do what the Senate HELP Committee and three House committees have done: guarantee that Americans have good health insurance that they can afford with the choice of a strong national public health insurance option.”

So now that Max has failed at appeasing the GOP in an attempt to secure at least one vote (after he had crowed about getting 75-80 senators to sign on to his efforts), it appears that his bill will have to undergo a severe transplant in order to make it out of the Senate Finance Committee, and for the Senate to move forward.

In other news, the stock market took kindly to the Baucus/Wellpoint bill with a 3% surge in health insurer stocks on news of the bill’s release.

insurer profits

Quid pro quo at its worst.

by jhwygirl

Boy…where to go with this story, from Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller.

Ward 2 incumbent and candidate John Hendrickson apparently couldn’t make it to the city council meeting Monday night, but in his absence, he sent a letter, read by Lyn Hellegaard (who has a hard time attending committee meetings).

Quite a complimentary pair, those two.

Councilman John Hendrickson apparently has a problem with the 1st amendment. Free speech and all that. So much so that he had Lyn Hellegaard read a letter from him, to council, berating Ward 3 councilman (and candidate) Bob Jaffe for his lisserv MissoulaGov.

Was it really that important, John, that you had to send a letter? Your issue couldn’t wait until next week? Or next committee meeting? Really – if that’s your sense of urgency, get a blog and I’ll plug each and every post you do. Promise.

Wish you thought that way about affordable housing. Or mental health care. Or homelessness. Or potholes.

Jaffe’s liserve is open to everyone. Anyone can read it, and if you register, you can get the updates mailed directly to you, and you are also able to comment. No secrets.

It’s also done on Jaffe’s own server – or server space he’s paying for. Meaning – not city space/time/money.

Prior to that, the goings-on of committee meetings – most of which are held during the day – were unfamiliar to most, unless you have cable and the time to watch them rebroadcast on MCAT. Way back in my beginning posting days here at 4&20, I’m pretty sure I ranted about how difficult it was for the general public to find out what happened at committee meetings because the minutes didn’t accurately reflect what actually happened.

If you don’t like what Jaffe’s writing? Guess what? DON’T READ IT!

If you don’t like what Jaffe’s writing? Guess what? POST A COMMENT AND LET HIM KNOW!

Paul Sopko, former Planning Board member, does it all the time.

What Hendrickson and Hellegaard don’t like about Jaffe’s blog is that their whole world of uncivilized ill-informed behavior at committee meetings (well, maybe not Hellegaard, since she rarely attends) is exposed for everyone to see.

In Jaffe’s liserv, a reader can begin to understand that inaction is apparently an option with Hendrickson and Hellegaard and Mitchell.

With Jaffe’s liserv, a reader can realize how many gosh-darn times that Hendrickson brings up the Broadway Diet (something he campaigned on 4 years ago, in case anyone is looking to determine how effective he’s been on his own pet issues over these past 4 years).

with Jafee’s liserve, a reader can understand how many times, over and over, Ward 5’s Renee Mitchell will repeat the same questions over and over and over again.

Frankly, it becomes comical due to the sheer magnitude of personal agendas and uninformed repetition of (there’s no other way to say it, folks) lies regarding the zoning rewrite.

John Quandt, candidate for Ward 3, and Bob Jaffe’s opponent, got into the fray by demanding an apology of Jaffe for having made reference on his liserve to Quandt characterizing city employee’s as lazy. Quandt, at the recent Pachyderm candidates forum, made reference to what he termed as ‘city workers leaning on shovels,’ as he made his case for privatization of some city services

Jaffe, for his part, declined to apologize and instead publicly lamented that he wished that the forum had been recorded.

Quandt made his demand for an apology during Monday night’s council meeting. During the meeting. He demanded an apology for something wrote on a liserv operated by Councilperson Bob Jaffe on his own private time.

I mean – if Quandt or Hendrickson or Hellegaard or anyone ANYONE has problem with what is being said on that liserv, either make a comment or create your own liserv or blog and say what it is you need to say. Demand your apologies, call him a liar – whatever.

Blogs, for the most part, are free. WordPress offers them…and so does Blogspot.

In fact, I dare say ’cause I kinda know these things: Any jackass can get one, with minimal effort.

But for Quandt to insert his campaign onto the floor of city council…well, one can imagine what we’ll get if the guy were to get elected.

~~~~~~~
In other news, in other city council chambers, the City of Bozeman approved urban chickens, with nary an opposing public comment.

by jhwygirl

This one comes via problembear’s goddamnedindependents – who I might add had this news up a full 24 hours or more before the regular media even whispered it.

And whisper it they did – I mean, how many of you have heard this story, even now?

Crystal Lee Sutton, 68 – the woman who inspired the movie Norma Raepassed away September 11th from brain cancer.

Sutton had been diagnosed with meniginoma, which is typically a slow-growing cancer that is coupled with benign tumors. That was not the case, unfortunately, for Sutton, as she was denied possible life-saving treatment for two months.

Sutton had been a union organizer and woman right’s activist in the 70’s, who was harassed and jailed for her humanitarian efforts. Sadly, she ended up also having to fight to expose the abuses of the health insurance industries when she was denied coverage.

“How in the world can it take so long to find out (whether they would cover the medicine or not) when it could be a matter of life or death,” she said. “It is almost like, in a way, committing murder.”

This is no isolated incident – and one might even deduce that the only reason Ms. Sutton got her medication because the AFL-CIO brought attention to her plight.

One of the harder things, I think, that this health insurance reform issue faces is bringing these stories forward. All the crazy racist vile teabaggers make it even worse – it’s hard enough to lay open your vulnerabilities, yet alone to have to face situations like this. Or this.

Norma Rae

Norma Rae fought the good fight. God Rest Her Beautiful Soul.

by jhwygirl

The list gets really long when I think about it.

CNN has some video showing the beach-front Malibu Colony home that a Wells Fargo executive was apparently squatting in once the bank foreclosed on it.

The exec has been fired.

I always say follow-the-money. It’s much more easier said than done, I know – but someone might think about seeing whether there is a degree or few of separation between the exec or Wells Fargo and Bernie Madoff.

I’m just sayin’.

by JC

bush-white

Now that the silly season is over–as August has come to be called in political circles–with Obama giving yet another speech, and the 9/12 tea bagger march on D.C. is over, we can look back and begin to reflect on what is happening in America.

The examples are too numerous too list here today. But everywhere you look, the debate has taken on an underlying tone of racism: is it, or isn’t it? Did he/she, or didn’t he/she? I expect that much of the national attention will be riveted to those who cloak their political activism/racism in patriotism, and those who would point out that their ideology is clouded in xenophobia, paranoia, and racism.

I don’t expect this debate to be well received here or anywhere else. But it is a discussion that needs to happen, if we are to move on and put this ugly period in history behind us.

by JC

ziryab
“Oud Improvisation” by Naseer Shamma, from the album The Fire This Time.
———-

For this weekend’s Blackbirdabilia #5, we are going to journey back, way back to Baghdad, northern Africa and medieval Spain to explore the story of Ziryab, “Blackbird.”

Here is the intro from the story “Flight of the Blackbird” published in Saudi Aramco World. Yes, I am dredging up some culture provided via Saudi Aramco, one of the largest oil companies in the world. So consider this a return on your gas-guzzling commuting investments:

“If you eat asparagus, or if you start your meal with soup and end with dessert, or if you use toothpaste, or if you wear your hair in bangs, you owe a lot to one of the greatest musicians in history.

He was known as Ziryab, a colloquial Arabic term that translates as “blackbird.” He lived in medieval Spain more than a thousand years ago. He was a freed slave who made good, charming the royal court at Córdoba with his songs. He founded a music school whose fame survived more than 500 years after his death. Ibn Hayyan of Córdoba, one of Arab Spain’s greatest historians, says in his monumental Al-Muqtabas (The Citation) that Ziryab knew thousands of songs by heart and revolutionized the design of the musical instrument that became the lute. He spread a new musical style around the Mediterranean, influencing troubadours and minstrels and affecting the course of European music.

He was also his generation’s arbiter of taste and style and manners, and he exerted enormous influence on medieval European society. How people dressed, what and how they ate, how they groomed themselves, what music they enjoyed—all were influenced by Ziryab.

If you’ve never heard of this remarkable artist, it’s not surprising. With the twists and turns of history, his name has dropped from public memory in the western world. But the changes he brought to Europe are very much a part of the reality we know today.”

Life is too short to just sit around and argue politics all the time. So sit back, play the music, read the story of Ziryab, and enjoy. Blackbirdabilia at its best: obscure, yet enlightening!

by jhwygirl

Plenty of choices to fill the day:

The 13th annual Hempfest takes to Caras Park, beginning at noon. There are at least a half-dozen bands, featured speakers, including Montana’s Speaker of the House Bob Bergren, a fashion show and tons of great vendors of all sorts of stuff.

Give Army Reservist First Lieutenant Kevin Furey a big Missoula welcome back from his second tour of Iraq. Kevin is a civil affairs officer…and he also served in our Montana House of Representatives for House District 91 until he was called to his second tour in 2007. The picnic party begins at 4 p.m., and is being hosted by Dayna Swanson at 5920 April Lane. If you have the chance, RSVP to the event. A donation of $20 is suggested.

Later, DO NOT MISS The 4th Annual Double Haul Fly Fishing Competition and Fundraiser which benefits the Poverello Center. By day you can participate in a catch-and-release fly fishing competition on the Clark Fork, the Bitterroot and the Blackfoot…and by night head to the banquet, open bar there too, which begins with a silent auction and open bar at 5 p.m., and then the banquet and awards dinner at 7 p.m. Awards will be given for biggest fish, smallest fish, heaviest net, junior angler and best guide. Best $35 tax-deductible donation you’ll ever make, and you can buy ’em at the door. Banquet is at the Governor’s Ballroom in the Florence Building, and dress is Missoula Saturday casual. Open bar is sponsored by Kettlehouse Brewing and PBR. God bless ’em. If you have questions or want reservations, contact Ellie Hill at 406-218-9608.

Did I mention Bob Wire? And special guest?

Bob Wire. Special Guest. Bob Wire. Special Guest Ooooooooh, don’t ya love secrets???

If you still have energy left after that, on Sunday, make sure to hit the Zootown Arts Community Center 1st-year birthday bash at 235 North 1st Street West. That event begins at 2 p.m. (finishing at 6 p.m.) and costs $5 if you get your ticket at Rockin’ Rudy’s beforehand, or $7 at the door. Either way, that’s a steal. Four bands (Mudslide Charlie’s, Baba Ganoush, Ross Voorhees, and A Memory of Elephants) and Big Sky Brewing. Yum. The event benefits the fabulous do-it-yourself community arts center on the Northside.

And yep – lots of art too.

Hazardous Waste Days

by Ed Childers

It’s time to unload some of the stuff you didn’t know what to do with.
Hazardous Waste Days

The event starts on Friday the 11th, 8:30am-6:00pm.
On Saturday the 12th, 8:30am-4:00pm.

I’m heading out there now.

Remember, the Scott Street Bridge is closed.




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