Archive for April 5th, 2010

Help Me Understand

by jhwygirl

How does allowing discrimination against a particular group of individuals help their freedom? How does it impinge yours?

What kind of religion actually promotes hate? Isn’t God and religion about love? How does a government and its citizens standing up against discrimination discriminate upon someone’s religion?:

One more – What I want to know is how does taking away someone’s freedom take away this person’s civil rights? Exactly what civil rights will this person lose by seeing that another gains theirs? Because I didn’t realize that we had a civil right to discriminate….although as I understand it, that question has indeed been asked by a councilperson who opposes the ordinance.

No, councilperson, you do not have a right to discriminate against another person…..

I ask these questions open and honestly. Maybe an opponent that holds some of these beliefs might take the time, in writing where then can fully articulate their point, answer those questions?

It seems that there is a whole lot of focus in these pictures on freedom, and I do honestly find that perplexing. How does someone else living freely hurt your freedom? Any clarity that an opponent can offer would be much appreciated.

by jhwygirl

Was just doing some checking on where finance reform is, given that it was just about 2 weeks ago when the Senate Finance committee voted to move the thing forward. Come to find that Senate Agriculture has been tasked with hammering out something on derivatives, given it reached a bit of an impasse in Senate Banking & Finance.

What’s Agriculture have to do with finance reform? Derivatives. Futures. Agriculture has a long history of dealing with these things – I’ve said before around here that if we can darn well regulate pork futures, we can darn well regulate banking – so it does make sense

As a very brief history on (let’s say) pork futures, the U.S. started regulated these commodities (their future market) back after the Great Depression. Lawmakers realized that food was a basic necessary element of our nation – our security – and it was determined that stability was needed in the food sector to keep America safe. Stable. Economically viable.

Makes sense, right?

Who’s in Senate Agriculture? It’s Chaired by Sen. Blanche Lincoln, with Sen. Saxby Chambliss as Ranking Member.

I’ll let ya’all deduct your own meaning from that.

Who else is in Senate Agriculture? Why our very own Senator Max Baucus.

And..just a guess here, but it looks like the derivative issue might just settle into the Subcommittee on Production, Income Protection and Price Support. Who’s on that? Senator Max Baucus.

Do NOT delay contacting Sen. Baucus immediately to tell him that you support finance reform. Let him know that effective regulation of derivatives is key to real finance reform.

This stuff just moved over to Senate Ag on Friday. It doesn’t appear that the website has anything up yet for information on its assigned task.

Sen. Jon Tester has stood very strong, up front, in the Senate Banking & Finance, even going on the attack against lobbyist that are trying to kill reform.

Let Baucus know you expect the same.

by jhwygirl

Tyler Gernant, Democratic candidate for Montana’s lone congressional seat, will be attending two candidate forums this week in Ravalli County. Both events are sponsored by the Bitterroot Valley Chamber of Commerce and will include questions from a media guest panel.

Tomorrow’s forum is at the Hamilton Middle School, 209 S. Fifth St., from 7 to 9 p.m.

Thursday’s is at the Stevensville High School, at 300 Park St. and it starts at 7 p.m. also.

I’m a Gernant supporter. Common sense is something that appeals to me, and Gernant has that.

Gernant is a fourth-generation Montanan, Tyler’s family has called Montana home for nearly a century. After graduating from law school at the University of Montana, Tyler entered the private practice of law representing small businesses and working on low-income housing tax credit projects. Tyler co-founded the Rural Advocacy League and the Missoula Greenhorns, a networking group for young professionals.

I’m not aware which other candidates will be attending. The Bitterroot Valley CoC doesn’t have any additional info.

by Pete Talbot

No breaking news here. This is a short story about Missoula in the ’90s and an alternative party. It was called the New Party and I was a member.

Lately, there has been a lot of venting, some with good reason, over Democratic disappointments: from Obama to Baucus to Tester to Schweitzer. This talk inevitably leads to a call for a third party.

Here’s a very personal third party experience:

After watching a majority of Democrats on city council vote against sustainable land-use planning, affordable housing, a city-wide living wage and numerous other progressive measures, I heard about a third party being formed. I had attended a Missoula County Democratic Central Committee meeting; made up of mostly good old boys and girls whose main concern was where to hold the party’s summer picnic. Then I went to a New Party meeting. Energetic folks from all walks of life were talking strategy: how to recruit and win campaigns, what good policy was and how to achieve it, how to do outreach to the disenfranchised, and much more. I was hooked.

It worked well, for awhile. Missoula’s New Party had four-of-twelve seats on council. With sympathetic votes from two-or-three other councilors, and even the mayor, progressive legislation was enacted.

New Party Icon

A Fair Economy.
A Real Democracy.
A New Party.

We had, at the least, a half-a-dozen year run. Missoula was the better for it.

There were other New Party chapters in places like the Twin Cities and Madison, Wis.; Little Rock, Maryland, Chicago and New York.

I went to a few workshops and conventions. I bunked with Hispanic and African-American activists. I heard from some of the best of the left, folks from outside Montana’s typical political circles. I even met Barrack Obama at a Chicago meeting when he was running for the Illinois Legislature (he was endorsed by the New Party).

And what struck me was how connected we were, all hoping for the same things — things that the Democratic Party had promised: decent health care and a good education; peace; gender, social and economic equality for all. It was transforming.

New Party principles were basically stripped down Democratic principles.

The demise of the New Party started with a Supreme Court decision against fusion voting, in a 6-3 ruling that said folks couldn’t vote on more than one party line.

(Fusion voting wasn’t an easy sell — more complicated to explain than our ingrained two-party system — but it’s actually pretty straightforward. The State of New York does it successfully. Here’s how it would work.)

The SCOTUS decision and some other factors killed the New Party in Missoula. There were a couple of hard-fought contests that the NP lost by small margins, which took some wind out of our sails. And, of course, leadership in the two major parties vilified the New Party, occasionally joining ranks to defeat a New Party candidate. NP membership started drifting away toward other, more specific causes, such as smart growth, gay rights, economic justice, and labor and environmental issues.

I turned my attention to the Democratic Party in hopes of building coalitions and advancing progressive policy. At the time, the state Democratic Party was on the ropes: a Republican governor, and Republican majorities in both chambers. We fared a bit better on the congressional landscape with Pat Williams and Max Baucus, but they had their foils in Ron Marlenee, Rick Hill, Conrad Burns and Denny Rehberg.

Party conventions were sparsely attended. (I was actually elected to the state’s executive board because I was the only person running for the western district seat.) But Democrats made a comeback, picking up seats in both the state house and senate, some statewide offices and finally governor and our other U.S. Senate seat. Nothing like winning to help build the party. So now there’s a machine, and probably not a lot of room for questioning and dissension in the ranks, or for perceived interlopers such as myself.

After reading this account, one might think I have a great fondness for third parties. I do. But I’m not willing to give up on the Democrats, yet.

Montana’s perennial candidate Bob Kelleher (D,R,G) wanted a parliamentary system of government — with its multiple parties and coalition building inherent in that system. Perhaps not a bad idea. But since that isn’t likely to happen in my lifetime, I’ll keep working, and pushing reform when necessary, for the party that best represents the people.

Corporate domination of politics has to be reigned in. We need strong campaign finance reform and lobbyists need to be subservient to legislators, not vice-versa.

Then, maybe, citizens will have renewed faith in and accountability from their elected officials.

The populist movement of the late 1800s came about because the difference in the two major parties at that time was minuscule. Let’s hope that message hasn’t been lost on Democratic Party leadership. As should be obvious, the electorate really wants the change that was promised in 2008. Please, pay attention.

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