Archive for May, 2010

by problembear

i know i haven’t posted in awhile and i have tried to stay away but Mt initiative I-164 is just too important to ignore. if we are to get this citizen’s referendum up for a vote this november we have until June 18 to do it.

if you are reading this and if you or someone you know has been hurt by payday lenders please leave a comment here and tell us your story. i have been fired up about this ever since finding out what a crooked title loan place did to my daughter’s credit many years ago. up until then, i never imagined that a state licensed business could be allowed to treat people as they do in this shady predatory lending industry. i thought only the mafia acted this way in dark alleys. but, in less than ten years these places have sprouted like toxic weeds accross Montana. in fact, since 2001, predatory lenders have multiplied so much that they actually outnumber starbucks in this country.

Montana state law currently allows payday lenders to charge 650% interest per year and auto title loan businesses are allowed to charge 300% interest per year. these interest rates are unconscionable to any thinking fair-minded citizen which is why Montana’s citizens are stepping  up in the next three weeks to gather signatures so that we can get this referendum on the ballot this November and protect our most vulnerable working families from this greedy destructive bloodbath. many states such as oregon and ohio have already enacted citizen sponsored legislation which protects their working poor from these loan sharks. we must do the same. if you wish to help please contact Erin at Montana Women Vote and gather some signatures so that we can at least regulate this industry to a reasonable interest rate of 36% per year.

Montana Women Vote has a lot of good information about these predators and they are a lot smarter than me. please consider helping them to gather signatures for this important petition initiative and contact Erin. if you cannot gather signatures please seek us out and sign your name to the petition along with the growing thousands of montanans who want our state to treat our working poor with more fairness.

and thanks for having the patience to listen to a bear of very little brain once again.

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by Pete Talbot

The federal deadline for the final campaign finance reports before the primary election was yesterday and there are some interesting numbers.

In the congressional contest, the far right and the far, far right did pretty well.

Of course, Republican incumbent Dennis Rehberg has an obscene amount of net receipts: $913,941.

Next up on the Republican side is Mark French at $58,068. That’s a nice chunk of change for a guy who makes Mussolini look progressive.

The moderate in this race, A.J. Otjen, raised $23,013.

On the Democratic side, Dennis McDonald has the highest net receipts but Tyler Gernant isn’t too far behind: McDonald, $167,716; Gernant, $124,565.

Sam Rankin of Billings made a showing at $8639.

Unfortunately, Melinda Gopher didn’t report, so she either didn’t raise the $5000 needed to require a report or she just didn’t report. Neither of these is a good sign for her campaign.

This is too bad. For a while there I was leaning toward Gopher but unfortunately a candidate needs more than passion and a progressive platform to take out the likes of Denny Rehberg.

Sam Rankin seems like a decent guy but like Gopher, his campaign lacks the organization it will take to give Rehberg a run.

Gernant seems to be gaining momentum while McDonald looks to be treading water. Add to that McDonald’s nebulous stand on coal development … well, unless something new breaks, I guess I’m leaning Gernant.

by jhwygirl

Found this New York Times article interesting for a few things it mentions.

The China government – who usually suppresses these worker-centric protests – is letting this one roll. Why? Because “without higher incomes, hundreds of millions of Chinese will be unable to play their part in the domestic consumer spending boom on which this nation hopes to base its next round of economic growth.”

Hmph.

What does that mean – if you haven’t figured it out already? If this sort of Chinese government blessed activity continues, the cost of just about everything Americans buy will increase rapidly. Made in China could take on a whole new meaning.

I’ve got nothing against workers, anywhere, wanting fair wages – let me make that clear. As the story states, these people in Honda’s China facility make $150 a month, and are seeking an increase to $270. That’s slave labor, even if the cost of living is lower. But that kind of thing isn’t flying anymore there, as all-things-American (like cell phones and cars) make their way into the lives of the Chinese (even if it is currently only those of privilege and class).

China is going to bury us not with bombs but by choking us off economically. Decades ago American corporations started closing up shop in favor of Chinese cheap labor and lack of environmental standards to manufacture its goods (like steel and machinery)…and now that they’ve successfully grabbed up the bulk of our manufacturing (and left us the Burger Kings and McDonald jobs), they’re prepared to now go in for the real attack.

Interesting, no? As Missoula tries to address the Exxon/Imperial Oil transport modules built in N. Korea that will merely travel through the state, it only gives us more food for thought.

Instead of Governor Schweitzer advocating for flag-waving jobs for Montanans, maybe he should be advocating for these things to come in by rail, in smaller pieces, to the old Stimson mill site (where the rail yard runs right through it), so that Montanan’s can at least piece the stuff together and send it on its merry way up (I-90 and on to Canada).

I mean, if it’s really about “..jobs, jobs, jobs”….then Governor Schweitzer should step up and get us those jobs, jobs, jobs.

by jhwygirl

Montana Conservation Voters recently sent out an email that all but reverses their previous (disappointing) stance of not endorsing in Montana’s hotly contested Democratic and Republican primary races for the U.S. House of Representation.

MCV’s email highlights Tyler Gernant’s strong stance on helping bring Montana new jobs through support of sustainable clean energy. The emailing also highlights Dennis McDonald’s flip-flopping ways on coal. Theresa Keaveny, Executive Director writes:

Hello, MCV members inquiring about the U.S. House primary,

Some of you have asked about Montana Conservation Voters’ endorsement in the U.S. House of Representative’s primary election. MCV did not endorse in this race, as we are focusing resources in state legislative primaries. We have included information on the Congressional race on the MCV web site at http://www.mtvoters.org including the press release and video by Tyler Gernant about Dennis McDonald’s comments on energy development and the Otter Creek coal tracts, and Dennis McDonald’s statement. Both are found below. I am sending this to you and posting on the web site as voters make up their minds who to support in the June 8th primary. As candidates make further information available, it will be posted on the web site.

The email contains more – and I’ve linked it up on my google docs account.

~~~~~
A while back, Gernant did a Clean Energy and Jobs tour of the state, and stopped in at Thirteen Mile Lamb and Wool Company in Belgrade, where he spoke with Dave Tyler. Dave ranches a beautiful spread where he organically raises sheep and cattle on land that chemical fertilizers and herbicides. His ranch is also certified “predator friendly,” as Thirteen Mile Lamb and Wool uses natural less invasive methods of control:

Our principal protection against native predators are our guard dogs and llamas and our own vigilance; because we have chosen not to use lethal control methods against coyotes, bears, wolves, mountain lions, our ranch is certified as “predator friendly”. It is a choice which, like many of our land management decisions, acknowledges risk in the interest of learning how to coexist with native species while caring for the land.

Watch Dave talk about his ranch and its sustainable solar water heaters that he uses for their wool production. As Dave explains, Tyler Gernant is the type of candidate we need in both Washington:

Thirteen Mile offers some great products. The hats are just some of the lovely items they create, sustainable, here in Montana.

by jhwygirl

Via The Clark Fork Chronicle, news comes to us that the Mineral County Sheriff’s race is heating up with one of the candidates – Ernie Ornelas – saying that he would not enforce federal laws. He cites the United Nations Small Arms Treaty as one he has problems with:

“The U.N. can pass the small arms treaty, but they cannot usurp our constitutional rights,” he said. “There are those in the federal government who believe they should. We have Supreme Court justices citing other countries’ rulings and U.N. rulings in their Supreme Court decisions, and that’s not constitutional.”

One he likes is House Bill 246, passed by the 2009 Montana Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Brian Schweitzer. I mentioned this bill last session here, calling it “another one of those crazy unconstitutional ones”:

“Those are the types of things I’m talking about when states are trying to assert their rights,” he said. “Not just Second Amendment rights, but anything. Our states and states across the U.S. are starting to exert their Tenth Amendment rights.”

The Tenth Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The problem is that the federal government has been expanding its purview and assuming powers over matters that should have been reserved to the States and the people. “I am going to stand up for our state,” he said. “As a sheriff of a Montana county–a political subdivision of the state–to the extent that the federal government is trying to usurp the authority of the states, I’m standing up for what our state believes in.”

Lovely.

Mike Johnson, who is also vying for the seat, shot back today with an op-ed in The Clark Fork Chronicle, saying that a sheriff who picks and chooses which laws to enforce is violating the very checks and balances that form the basis of our government:

A Constitutional Sheriff? As a candidate and a resident in this county, what does that mean to all of us living here? If Mr. Ornelas objects to a law, does that mean he’s not going to enforce it? Does he even have the authority or the ethical right to pick and choose, for everyone, what laws he will or will not enforce?

The questions continue. If Mr. Ornelas is elected, how will the actions and decisions of a “Constitutional Sheriff” affect the working relationships we now have with federal organizations we rely on? I’m talking about agencies like the Department of Justice and the U.S. Marshals Service who are in charge of sending us federal inmates. I’m talking about federal grants and Forest Service contracts that put money into the budget.

Right now we have working relationships with HIDTA and ICE. HIDTA is the drug task force with whom Mineral County has worked for years. ICE is Immigration and Customs who have invited the Sheriff’s department to participate in drug interdictions on the interstate and pay for it. How will a “Constitutional Sheriff” affect these relationships?

On one hand Mr. Ornelas states that Mineral County has limited resources. On the other hand, if he realizes it or not, he is proposing to isolate Mineral County from federal agencies who provide us with resource assistance.

Johnson is right – and points to some of the very basic federal funding sources that Mineral County relies on heavily. PILT and SRS funding payments, for example, (I’ve written about those here and here) supplement schools and Mineral County’s general budget. National Security grants help to upgrade 911 systems…and as Johnson points out, HIDTA and ICE have provided assistance to the department for years with both training and enforcement assistance.

All this for a rural county that is comprised of 1,223-square-miles, much of it forested area connected by dirt roads. 6 deputies (and the sheriff) cover this entire area.

This upcoming election in Mineral County also brings with it a 3-year temporary 25-mill levy for public safety. That might seem harsh – but consider that in order to make up the $200,000 that the levy would raise, the department would have to cut 2 deputies and one dispatcher.

Ornelas’s solution? To “avoid vicarious liability”, he would sue the county.

Yeah – that’s conservative talk. Shun federal money and sue your own employers. What will that cost?

Mineral County residents would do well to send Ornelas packing and pick the 18-year Mineral County Sheriff’s department veteran and Montana native Mike Johnson who understands the issues…and plainly has some common sense.

by jhwygirl

Gernant’s been at testing the waters and campaigning now for more than a year, and as we near the less-than-two-weeks before the primary election (Tuesday, June 8th!), it’s television ads that make-up some of the last efforts to reach voters that a candidate may not have reached over the last 10 months.

For many voters, it’s the only information they’ll gather on the candidate…so while it takes more than a television ad (things like blood, sweat and, sadly, money), this kind of visibility is important.

He’s got two playing around the state. This one’s my favorite, probably because he’s confronting one of the more empty but oft repeated criticisms of his candidacy. Pretty bold, if you ask me.

Gernant has 16 videos uploaded on YouTube. You should check them out.

So while I’m at it, I am going to go ahead and call on supporters to send some $ to the campaign to help keep these things on air and rolling around the state. “There’s no other way to say it,” I’ve told supporters that I’ve called, “running a campaign takes money.”

You can donate to Gernant here.

by jhwygirl

I’m not saying anything more than go read it at Pogie’s.

by jhwygirl

Yellowstone Kelly has a post up at Left in the West, aptly titled Ambition is a dream with a V8 engine, which reports on Secretary of State Linda McCulloch’s travelling the state with Governor Brian Schweitzer and her own entourage comprised of her top 3 staffers (and yes…who is in charge when she’s out helping the Governor with his daily schedule?)

The whisper YK puts out there is that she may be considering a gubernatorial run in 2012, when The Brian’s term (finally) expires.  This is something I’ve been saying for months now, but sadly, only in private emails and conversations.  It’s been clear in her interactions with the Governor during the Land Board hearings – and with Brian looked at her almost downright adoringly as she made the motion to approve Otter Creek and the motion to add the bonus bid (which wasn’t one, in the end.)

McCulloch offered an afterthought to the final approval of the $86 million bid on Otter Creek, throwing the responsibility of seeing that its millions are spent on schools to the citizens of the state and called on everyone to ‘hold their elected officials responsible’ in making sure the money was spent on schools.

Not only did that contradict the constitutional blackout she had when she added the bonus bid, assuring the public ‘that the bonus bid will go directly to the schools’ as an over-and-above amount from what the legislature appropriated….it flew in the face of who she is.

She’s an elected official. Was it even two days after the approval of that lease before her paramour Schweitzer was out letting the world know he saved the state’s budget with the Otter Creek millions?

Where was she then?

Where was McCulloch when megalomaniac Schweitzer was out politically blackmailing county and city local governments, requesting a pledge to coal in order to secure release of legislatively appropriated stimulus money?

She won’t be getting my vote again. Evah. Same for Auditor Monica Lindeen.

YK mentions that Attorney General Steve Bulloch is another one rumored to be seeking the Governorship. I’ve got one eye on Bulloch, and so far he’s done a pretty righteous job…extraordinarily so as the Attorney General.

But it’s one eye only – my other eye is still on the lookout, given that Bulloch’s vote against Otter Creek was driven solely by his responsibility to the trust – and not his constitutional obligations to ensure a clean and healthful environment for Montanans.

Time will tell. Who knows – maybe someone I’m a big fan of might decide to take the leap. I can only hope.

By CFS

“We are the army out to free men!” – Sheriff Richard Mack

I just want to get back to building an army and preparing for a revolution.” – Schaeffer Cox

“While the State exists there can be no freedom; when there is freedom there will be no State. – Vladimir Lenin

That last quote by Lenin could have easily come from the mouth of your average American Libertarian.

This last weekend saw Ravalli County political group Celebrating Conservatism host the first ever Liberty Convention held at the Adams Center on The University of Montana campus.  While the Adams Center might have seemed a little hollow with so few people in attendance, that fact didn’t  seem to bother the convention organizers.  “This,” said Mona Docteur, the driving force behind much of Celebrating Conservatism’s activities, “was mainly a chance to network with like minded individuals.”  But while the numbers might have been small, the philosophical foundation from which the Liberty movement is building upon is not; it is bold, steeped Western anti-government sentiment and rugged individualism, and wants to radically change the relationship between the individual and the state.

The fact that Conservatism is in the name of the group is an insult to true Conservatives.  Conservatism as a political and social philosophy is one that respects traditional institutions that work to uphold the functioning of a society and rejects radical change.  Many of the people brought into speak at the Liberty Convention made a point to specifically call for a radical break from current political institutions and radically reshape American society.  On the surface of things, Celebrating Conservatism and many similar small groups around Montana and the West are pushing for many policies that many would associate with conservatism… gun rights,  states sovereignty, small government, and individual freedom.

Peel back the public veneer and what this movement wants is much more radical; a libertarian utopia devoid of any from of central government “tyranny,” and ultimate freedom for the individual.  When speaking about the “proper” role of government Gary Marbut – local Missoula gun rights advocate and author of the Firearms Freedom Act – questioned whether building highways was a legitimate use of government authority.  If a so called  “conservative” is questioning the building of roads you can imagine his opinion on the BLM, Forest Service, Social Security, DUI laws, etc.  To them, individuals should operate as they see fit without any regulation upon behavior… except for vigilante justice dispensed by local citizen militias and an armed populace.  I guess a clean gun is supposed to make for good neighbors.

Many of the speakers at the convention expressly stated such beliefs based not only upon political philosophy but also scripture.  2008 Constitution Party Presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin – whom spoke Friday night – in a May 19th 2010 article available on his website predicts the breakup of the United States and applauds the prospect of states succeeding from the union (in the same article he also claims that bringing women into the military is a globalist plot to make our military less efficient and weaken our national security to the point that wee can’t operate without UN support).

Red Beckman – perpetual tax protester and long time militia movement supporter – shared this same view that the tyrannical Federal Government will be brought down because we as a nation have forsaken God and that, just as the USSR was brought down by God, the Federal Government will disappear as part of God’s will.  He also stated that illegal immigration was God’s curse on this nation for the Roe v. Wade decision.  They don’t just see the fall of the American Empire… they actively want to push it over the edge.

This group sees themselves as being oppressed by a tyrannical and unjust government that time and again ignores the constitution and has usurped individual freedom.  How they propose to reshape the political landscape is truly nothing short of a revolution.  Red Beckman implored the audience to follow the example of Romanian soldiers whom in 1989 turned on and killed the dictator.

The one feature of language used throughout the convention that surprised me was the constant allusions to and mentioning of “building an army.”  Speakers referred to the audience as “foot soldiers” and Mona Docteur asked them to, “stand on the front lines.”  As much as they disparaged against socialism, communism, and specifically the Bolshevik Revolutionaries it seems that they share much in common with the Bolsheviks in their formative year.  The pattern of history the Liberty Movement sees themselves part of is awkwardly similar to how Marx and Lenin foretold the fall of the oppressive Tsarist regime.

Just as the Bolsheviks saw themselves as the awakened and enlightened vanguard that would lead Russia to a proletariat democratic utopia; the Liberty Movement’s professional revolutionaries  on display this last weekend talked of “leading the charge,” and “bringing enlightenment to the rest of America,” from this small base of people that can, “see the truth,” of how oppressive and tyrannical the government is.  Speaker Schaeffer Cox – Fairbanks, AK militia organizer – talked of, “being right on the edge of having to bloody our swords… revolutions are not instituted, they are provoked, and they are provoked by government.”  Sounds oddly like “a revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation,” declared by Vladimir Lenin.

The normal person involved in these meetings and the movement are just that… normal people that are simply fed-up with the current political atmosphere and I’m sure they wouldn’t consider themselves revolutionary.  A lot of the allusions to revolution might be hyperbole… but it seems to me that these luminaries, the professional revolutionaries of the Liberty Movement, believe what they are saying.  They are in no why cynical and actually quite optimistic in their assessment of what they can and will accomplish and are attempting to build a larger coalition across the West.

Groups like these feed off of troubling and uncertain times and today is full a many challenges and uncertainties about the future.  Just as in the 1930s this country, saw a large uptick in communist and fascist party membership people today are looking for a fresh political movement that will provide a clear way forward and a promising future to those that currently see only despair.  While this movement is small today no group that openly talks of revolution should be ignored.  Rather they should be studied to understand the mechanisms by which they operate and grow so that their very legitimate concerns may be addressed within society at large.

Vladimir Lenin established his first revolutionary group in 1895, it wasn’t until 1917 that the revolution came to fruition… jolted violently to life by the collapse of the Russian economy after WWI.  The Liberty Movement is predicting such a collapse… hoping for such a collapse… and biding their time until such a collapse happens.

by jhwygirl

May 25, 1961:

I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshalled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to insure their fulfillment.

Recognizing the head start obtained by the Soviets with their large rocket engines, which gives them many months of leadtime, and recognizing the likelihood that they will exploit this lead for some time to come in still more impressive successes, we nevertheless are required to make new efforts on our own. For while we cannot guarantee that we shall one day be first, we can guarantee that any failure to make this effort will make us last. We take an additional risk by making it in full view of the world, but as shown by the feat of astronaut Shepard, this very risk enhances our stature when we are successful. But this is not merely a race. Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others. We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.

I therefore ask the Congress, above and beyond the increases I have earlier requested for space activities, to provide the funds which are needed to meet the following national goals:
First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose additional funds for other engine development and for unmanned explorations–explorations which are particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon–if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.

JFK gave this speech (above is only a minuscule portion) to a joint Congress in what could effectively be described as his State of the Union assessment, having sized up American from inside the pearly white walls of the White House for four months. The Cold War was in its full glory; the economy, while strong, was showing sign of weakening; and social unrest driven by the civil rights movement was driving to its apex.

Kennedy felt that America’s security was threatened by the Russian space program – Sputnik, first, and then their success in launching a man into space. Kennedy decided that putting all of the United State’s resources behind beating the Russians in their space race, by landing a man on the moon – a tremendous challenge, considering how far behind we were – was best for the nation. The proposal was thought by many to be sheer lunacy.

Just 16 months later, on September 12, 1962, Kennedy gave a second speech on the race to the moon at Rice University, defending both the dedication of government resources and the enormous expense.:

And finally, the space effort itself, while still in its infancy, has already created a great number of new companies, and tens of thousands of new jobs. Space and related industries are generating new demands in investment and skilled personnel, and this city and this State, and this region, will share greatly in this growth. What was once the furthest outpost on the old frontier of the West will be the furthest outpost on the new frontier of science and space. Houston, your City of Houston, with its Manned Spacecraft Center, will become the heart of a large scientific and engineering community. During the next 5 years the National Aeronautics and Space Administration expects to double the number of scientists and engineers in this area, to increase its outlays for salaries and expenses to $60 million a year; to invest some $200 million in plant and laboratory facilities; and to direct or contract for new space efforts over $1 billion from this Center in this City.

To be sure, all this costs us all a good deal of money. This year’s space budget is three times what it was in January 1961, and it is greater than the space budget of the previous eight years combined. That budget now stands at $5,400 million a year–a staggering sum, though somewhat less than we pay for cigarettes and cigars every year. Space expenditures will soon rise some more, from 40 cents per person per week to more than 50 cents a week for every man, woman and child in the United Stated, for we have given this program a high national priority–even though I realize that this is in some measure an act of faith and vision, for we do not now know what benefits await us. But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun–almost as hot as it is here today–and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out–then we must be bold.

~~~~~
Here we sit with nearly two years past the time I posted the above outtakes from President John F. Kennedy’s seemingly impossible policy goal and pledge U.S. commitment (and money) to pushing the U.S. ahead in the space race.

I posted this, originally, in the context of the “Drill baby, drill!” mantra emanating from the John McCain crowd…and sadly, little has changed despite the oil volcano spreading its toxic waste in the Gulf – and likely soon to start wrapping up the east coast.

Who’s running the show? BP.

The Mineral’s Management Service (a division of the Department of the Interior) has approved 27 drilling projects since the blowout of the BP Deep Horizon well over 33 days ago – 26 of the categorically excluded from environmental review just like the BP Deep Horizon well was. Note, too, that the release I link to is more than 2 weeks old. How many more have been approved in that time.

Bob Herbert, writing for the New York Times, had an excellent op-ed last Friday talking about the stranglehold corporations have on the U.S. It’s a sad sorry accurate assessment of not only the Gulf tragedy, but of America’s tragedy. Is this the greatness we aspire to?

Louisianan’s still have yet to turn their ire to BP – it is the Obama Administration to blame when you listen to all that the fishing industry and Governor Jindal and never-known-to-vote-anti-oil Senator Mary Landrieu have to say.

But you know what they say about pointing fingers. Point one and you got three pointing back at ya’.

That’s not to say that Obama is blameless. These wells were permitted and they’ve been essentially unregulated and without review not just recently, but for decades. It’s not like we didn’t know the Minerals Management Service was corrupt – that was known a year and a half ago, but where were you then, Senator Mary Landrieu?

Cap and trade – even in this current media environment – is all but dead. Newsweek is calling financial reform Bonfire of the Loopholes. And – if that is all not enough – health industry lobbyists are swarming Washington to help shape the rules that will come to define what was the reform approved this past winter.

Ahhh….fascism is alive and well, and innovation and good old can-do American attitude? I guess it died with the 60’s.

America? Can we stand up for ourselves? Can we stop selling our soul for a few bucks? Can we look forward more than 10 minutes into the future? Can we quit sucking the teat of oil and the corporations that will screw us every chance we get?

by jhwygirl

Apparently, Dennis McDonald and Melinda Gopher didn’t bother with replying to Don Pogreba, author of Intelligent Discontent. Sam Rankin at least called Don and told him he wouldn’t be “speaking until after the primary.”

And kudos to Pogie for sending out a questionnaire. It’s a lot of work (I’ve done it in the past) to come up with thoughtful questions that aren’t cliche, and that add insight into current issues and the candidate.

Gernant gets a kudos too – reaching out to blogs is certainly one of the many ways a candidate can effectively reach core political types that are often worth a number of votes – because readers of Montana blogs clearly love politics, and they do discuss the stuff with their friends and family.

Anyways – gotta head on over to Don’s place to read ’em – and of course, I think it’s well worth your time, as I believe Tyler Gernant is the best candidate on the Democratic primary ticket.

by jhwygirl

MDOT refused to extend the 30-day public comment deadline on the environmental assessment written by Exxon/Imperial Oil for transport of its oversized Korean-built Canadian tar sands equipment, despite a wealth of public comment requesting just that – some of which came directly from the City of Missoula City Council. And despite the fact that the state’s email system shut down from the overload of public comment being submitted.

Lovely.

I pondered in this post who was pulling the strings on this project, considering that MDT Director Jim Lynch testified last July before the legislature that (a) this project should undergo an Environmental Impact Statement scrutiny and (b) that this proposal was essentially a permanent high-and-wide corridor proposal.

Not only that – but the Exxon/Imperial Oil written environmental assessment said it would be a permanent corridor within its EA. It’s also fair to note that this EA was signed by MDT’s very own Dwayne Kailey.

Didn’t take much to figure out who was pulling the strings – Governor Brian Schweitzer, who said it was about ..jobs, jobs, jobs.” Maybe he doesn’t understand the funky math that got Exxon/Imperial Oil to that $68 million figure? Because I heard the president of Imperial Oil explain here in Missoula that they came to that number “through a complex economic calculation,” that “takes into account that dollars will be spent repeatedly throughout the community.”

Sounds like trickle down economic theory to me – and we all know how that works, don’t we? Kinda funny how we’ll sell ourselves for flag-waving jobs and no one will stand up (save for a bunch of citizens and a Canadian parliament member) for having these things brought here in pieces and contract assembled somewhere here in North America.

Yep – Montanan’s should aspire to waving the flags to clear the traffic for these Korean-built things to head on through the state.

I ruminated during the Otter Creek fiasco on how Montana could aspire to be like that teeming economic power state of coal-rich West Virginia. Now maybe what we’re hoping to be is the new inland version of Louisiana.

Maybe he doesn’t care. The Good Gov sure loves his fossil fuels, that’s for sure. So much so that he’s willing to repeat the same tired old misinformed fact over and over – that the proposal is “temporary.”

He did it in this Missoulian article weeks ago, and he did it again, recently, in supermontanareporter John S. Adams’ that was published this past Friday in the Great Falls Tribune.

Adams did a great in-depth look at the Exxon/Imperial Oil proposal to transport these oversized loads which includes a repeat (by both MDOT – who I noted signed the industry-written EA – and Schweitzer) that this is only a temporary proposal. He also gets to Imperial Oil spokesman Pius Rolheiser, who also repeats the lie that his very own consultants acknowledged in the environmental document they submitted.

I guess, like Bush or Cheney, if you repeat it enough, someone’ll start believing it as truth.

Different communities have different perspectives – and Adams talks to Teton County Commissioner Dellwo and Manager of the Port of Lewiston Idaho David Doeringsfeld, who is looking for between $1.8 to $2.8 million in upgrades to double the capacity to his ports.

Yeah – it’s about money, but who’s gonna benefit the most? Exxon/Imperial Oil with its one-time influx of flag-waving and turnout-building money? Lewistown with its trucking/motel industry and the multi-million dollar upgrades that will generate long-term jobs and expansion? Or Montana with it being on the receiving end of the one-time influx of Exxon/Imperial Oil money and a few motel rooms rented out along the way? Calculated by a “complex economic calculation”?

Who else has gotten into it, too? Ochenski asked, weeks ago, how long it would be before the Gulf disaster would be repeated in Montana – and truthout pressed forward this past Saturday with a lengthy article titled Trucking Toward Climate Change.

Nick Stocks, co-founder of the group Northern Rockies Rising Tide is interviewed for the article, as is Brett Haverstick with the group Friends of the Clearwater and Missoula County Commissioner Jean Curtiss.

by jhwygirl

It’s not just a cultural Montana thing – and I do believe the general attitude towards drinking here in Montana is something that can be ascribed to a culture attitude here in the state – it’s a systemic failure.

How is it even possible that someone could be arrested for DUI twice in the space of 5 hours?

This wasn’t the first time that this has happened, I have no doubt. I believe this is the result of more than an individual’s choice – it is laws that allow this to happen and a society that produces individuals that don’t see anything wrong with getting behind the wheel after drinking yet alone those that don’t see anything wrong with getting behind the wheel in the hours after being released from jail on a DUI charge.

Consider contacting your legislator and asking them what they think should be done about drinking and driving in this state. Consider emailing your legislative candidates and asking them what they think should be done about drinking and driving in this state. This has got to stop.

In the meantime, know that the legislature is taking comments on proposed DUI bills for the next legislative session. Inform yourself, and participate in the process.

By JC

It seems that Montana’s junior Senator and Banking Committee member, Jon Tester, has been resorting to some two-stepping to add to his double-speak with his newest routine with Wall Street Lobbyists. Despite Jon’s contentions that he is doing what is best for his Montana constituents, it seems that a series of votes on the Financial Regulation package that just cleared the Senate speak volumes about his true intentions: preserving Wall Street campaign contributions.

Over at Left in the West, an OpEd written by “The Office of Sen. Jon Tester,” and published by the Huffington Post, seems to be designed to head off criticism of the Senator’s latest votes:

“The U.S. Senate made history on May 20. We passed a powerful bill that finally holds Wall Street accountable. It finally cleans up the schemes and abuses that nearly brought our entire economy to its knees.

Most importantly, the Wall Street reform bill once and for all ends taxpayer-funded bailouts of Wall Street banks and investment firms. It finally gets rid of the notion that one private company can somehow be ‘too big to fail.'”

Well, aside from the fact that our economy is still on its knees, having neatly “assumed the position” in many instances (Goldman and BP, I’m looking at you), once again our faux populist Senator would have us believe he’s doing the people’s business. As I wrote in my article a few weeks ago about Tester’s vote against the Brown-Kaufman amendment, which would have capped the size of big banks, relative to GDP, it seems that Jon’s actions spoke much louder than his words:

“The Brown-Kaufman amendment was the one strong point of regulation that would cut to the heart of why Wall Street has become immune to the will of the people. Crony capitalism, and corrupt corporatism are the guiding forces in Washington D.C. these days. It is no longer the will of the people–or the best intentions of once-innocent politicians–that governs our nation. It is corporate money and the influence it buys direct from Wall Street that has taken a stranglehold on our political and economic system.”

Well, after Tester’s latest attempt at foofaraw with his OpEd, I decided to take a look at what else is going on in the Senator’s world. It seems that he not only voted against Brown-Kaufman, he voted against Sen. Durbin’s bank card transaction fee amendment, which would have capped the fees we pay when we use our debit cards at the checkout counter. Those fees amount to a $19.71 billion dollar industry, with 80% being paid back to the issuing banks as profit. So your bank is profiting on you to the tune of 1.63% on each transaction. Which is more than your bank paid you for interest for a whole year of holding onto your money.

I guess Jon is OK with this. A little extra goodness for Wall Street to pay its lobbyists… so they can hold parties for, and give contributions to, senators who vote with them. Nothing like preserving almost $16 billion in profits for the big banks, after the regs were excluded from all the small community banks that Tester seemed to be protecting.

Senator Durbin designed this amendment to help small businesses and consumers–businesses because they lose 1.63% on each transaction they process with debit cards, and consumers, because those costs are taken directly out of their bank account and given to banks as a profit:

By early in the week Mr. Durbin’s staff was confident that a majority of senators would support the measure, particularly after he made changes to limit the impact on small banks, a powerful constituency that many senators are loath to cross.

The largest change limits the new price controls to cards issued only by the very largest banks, those with at least $10 billion in assets. As a result, the pricing controls will affect only about 65 percent of debit card transactions, staff members said.”

So Durbin tweaked the bill to attract senators who were worried by its impact on small banks, like Senator Tester claimed in a press release explaining why he voted against the Durbin amendment:

“My vote against this amendment was a vote to preserve the critical role community banks have in strengthening America’s small businesses and rural communities.

My vote against this amendment was a vote for Montana consumers, families, small businesses, farmers and ranchers and all who depend on their community banks. I stand with folks on Main Street as we reform Wall Street.”

I guess this is pretty much the definition of double-speak.

Now let’s get on with the two-step. It seems that on March 16th, our good Senator, who campaigned as a man of ethics and transparency, was the recipient of a “Pre-St. Patrick’s Day Reception” put on by a host of lobbyists–including bankers and Wall Street insiders. Now that couldn’t have had anything to do with any of his votes and attempts to sidestep any backlash from them, would it?

As the NY Times put it:

“And this was not an easy vote. Lobbyists for the wounded but formidable banking industry made clear to some senators that this decision would affect future campaign donations, according to people who participated in those conversations.”

Well, let’s just see who some of those lobbyists were that put on the party for Jon. According to the Sunlight Foundation:

“the fundraisers ranged from a “pre-St.Patrick’s Day” reception for Banking Committee member Jon Tester, D-Mont., on March 16 that asked for $100 to $1,000 in contributions, to a breakfast for Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, of the Agriculture Committee on March 10 that asked for contributions ranging from $500 to $2,000…

Tester’s fundraiser was hosted by 28 people, at least two of whom have disclosed lobbying on financial reform this year: Mitchell Feuer who represents Goldman Sachs, the Citigroup Management Corporation, Barclays PLC, Genworth Financial, Visa U.S.A., the Appraisal Institute, FX Alliance LLC, the Farm Credit Council and the LCH.Clearnet Group, and Thompson Reuters; and Shannon Finley who represents the Edison Electric Institute, Rent A Center and the Home Depot…

In addition to raising money for the beneficiaries, the lobbyists hosting the events also had a chance for face time with other influential lawmakers.”

Face time. Yeah… Just whose face was where??? And as I wrote over at LitW yesterday:

“Worse, he’s turned into a poser

At least that’s what this sort of PR over FinReg shows me. He thinks his constituents are too stupid to understand finance and its regulation, and he can speak out both sides of his mouth. All the while pocketing Wall Street lobbyist money.

So now that he’s bought and paid for by Wall Street lobbyists, they held a big “Pre-St. Patrick’s Day” party for him in his honor a while back. Look over the names of the lobbyists who put it on, and you’ll get the message. Here’s a sample:

Mitchell Feuer of the Rich Feuer Group. Mitchell lists Goldman Sachs and Citigroup among his Wall street clientele.

Niles Godes: lobbyist for Sallie Mae

Shannon Finley: Lobbyist fot The Americans Bankers Association

And there’s more. But I’m headed to the (real) “Farmer’s” market. A dirt farmer no longer, that Tester fella. He’s got real dirt on his hands now with his new circle of partying friends.

Sad. So sad. Another one bites the dust. No wonder he didn’t vote for Brown-Kaufman. Doing damage control for his new Wall Street buddies.

Signed, sealed, and delivered. ‘Two-step’ Tester.
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testerparty

By CFS

The above video was shot during Saturday’s Liberty Convention 2010 brought to you by Celebrating Conservatism and shows the crowd taking the Oath Keepers oath.

By CFS

I counted 52 participants at the Liberty rally kicking off the Liberty Convention 2010 event this weekend.  I’m sorry to say that it was much less eventful than I thought it would be and the enthusiasm level of the people in the demonstration was poorly lacking in energy. No crazy signs appeared… the best signs were at the beginning of the first video and the one I tried to capture in the second short video. I think the Tea Party movement in general is starting to learn that the crazy signs were hurting the movement and a concerted effort is being made to keep that kind of thing out of the public eye.

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Consider this an open thread on the Liberty Convention, the Ravalli County group Celebrating Conservatism, and the Tea Party movement

By CFS

Today sees the start of the Liberty Convention 2010 being held at the University of Montana and organized by Mona Doctour of Celebrating Conservatism.  It kicks off today with a rally down at Caras Park and parade to the university and runs for two days.

They are walking into the lions den of Montana Liberalism and want to make a big show and statement by holding their convention here in Missoula.  In an interview with Mona Doctour of Celebrating Conservatism available here, Mona wants conservatives from around the state to bring their big trucks and tractors to make a big show during their parade through Missoula.  Holding the convention in Missoula is, in my opinion, as much about symbolism as it is about finding a venue of the appropriate size.

If you don’t already know what some of the views espoused by some of the people speaking and organizing this event are, I’ll just run through a list very quickly and save the in depth analysis for another post.

  • Main stream Republicans aren’t conservative enough
  • Want to break down the line between religion and politics
  • Support deregulation of firearm laws and advocate for 2nd Amendment Rights and Open Carry Laws.
  • Oppose any form of central political authority such as the federal government and United Nations
  • Espouse return to citizen controlled Common Law System and are pushing petitions to establish Citizen Grand Juries to allow citizens to convene grand juries at the county level.
  • Oppose land use planning, building codes, and any other law/regulation that is a “taking” of private property

The event should be pretty interesting and I’ll be covering it all weekend with live updates, tweets, and video (i hope).

by jhwygirl

Here you go, smokey – here’s some of that irony I was talking about.

Remember just a few months ago when the Good Gov was blocking payments to Sen. Greg Barkus’ friends – $600,000 in state money to clean up environmental contamination on a site that Swank bought at a discounted price knowing it had to clean it up?

The Good Gov was rounding up all kinds of cash, slashing money for remodeling of the state hospital, asking for money-saving ideas from citizens, and cutting funding for lots of obscure boards. Populists loved it….even when he took the school trust money $86 million from the Otter Creek coal leases and added it to the general budget to shore up slipping revenues.

Last month, Schweitzer approved a freeze on provider-rate increases as part of a $40 million cut in state spending. This cut will cost $2 million to Montana nursing homes, which care for about 3,000 people funded by Medicaid. That’s 60 percent of their patients.

These cuts can’t occur without rule changes – and public comment is due May 28th. A hearing was held Wednesday – this link takes you to the public notice from the Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS).

Rose Hughes, executive director of the Montana Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes, said Montana pays an average of $161 a day for nursing home patients covered by Medicaid, while the average cost for all patients is $179 a day.

Hughes argued Wednesday it’s not necessary to cancel the scheduled 2 percent increase in Medicaid rates, because the state’s budget picture has improved since earlier this year and Congress may approve additional Medicaid funding for all states.

She also said that as much as $1.6 million in state Medicaid nursing-home funds remain unspent, because of fewer “patient days” than expected this year.

Nursing-home administrators said they’re already operating on a very thin margin and that freezing Medicaid rates can’t help but affect care for all elderly residents.

“It’s going to result in diminished quality of care,” said Jackie Meyers, director of nursing at Laurel Health and Rehabilitation Center. “It will result in increased unemployment. … Nursing home care is a necessity. It’s not a luxury.”

DPHHS is facing serious cuts – and we’ve not even gotten into the 2011 legislative session where the legislature is going to have to make deeper cuts to make up for the last-minute budget deal in the ’09 session in which permanent cuts were made that were shored up with stimulus cash. If it was one agency where this shouldn’t have been done, it was DPHHS.

Check out the DPHHS public notice page – there are cuts proposed to Medicaid inpatient and outpatient hospital services, cuts proposed to Medicaid reimbursement for hearing aid services, outpatient drugs, and eyeglasses, early and periodic screening, diagnostic and treatment services.

Cuts to home and community-based services for adults with severe disabling mental illness. Cuts to psychiatric residential treatment facility services.

The list goes on.

Many of these things are part of that “an ounce of prevention goes a long way” type of things? Early screening? Psychiatric treatment? Long-term effects will be felt in communities throughout the state.

I’m glad our Governor is watching out for our budget and working hard to keep us flush….but is he consistent? I have trouble seeing it. And as a Democrat, you’d think he’d find other things to save cash – like, perhaps, the Department of Livestock and its hazing of Yellowstone bison? Especially when you consider that our own State Veterinarian has verified that every known transmission of brucellosis to livestock has been the result of interaction with elk, and not bison.

How much does that hazing cost?

But cutting DPHHS services for Medicaid patients? Yeah – irony abounds. This is one where I find that both irony and inconsistency.

by jhwygirl

Flathead Beacon reports:

Well well well – fresh on the heels of Tuesday’s anti-incumbent fueled primary elections elsewhere in the U.S., Flathead County Republic Chair Ava Walters gave Mark French an endorsement that would of had 10-year congressional alumni Representative Dennis Rehberg bragging:

“I find Denny Rehberg makes a great politician and certainly knows his way around Washington DC. After all, he has been there for 10 years. Denny Rehberg has served Montana fairly well, but I think it is time for a change. Since we have a great candidate in Mark French, I am supporting him as a private citizen and encourage all of you to join me in your support of Mark as well.”

Instead, it’s Mark French that’s bragging.

Who else has endorsed French? Brent Matson, Chairman of the Lake County Republican Party….and militia hero, former Sheriff Richard Mack.

I see French signs – more than I’ve seen Rehberg signs. I see ’em in Missoula County, in Ravalli County, in Mineral County…in Powell, Lewis & Clark, Deer Lodge.

Rehberg’s never seemed to do much campaigning. I think it’s his modus operandi to do as least as possible when it comes to campaigning, lest risk having to become engaged. It’s much like, frankly, his work in congress for the last 10 years.

Save for his engagement, for the last 10 years, in earmarks and deficit spending. Rehberg’s been great at that.

~~~~~~
Is Dennis Rehberg vulnerable? A Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll done last August shows Rehberg’s numbers aren’t that great – and that was before anti-incumbent Tuesday.

46 favorable, 45 unfavorable with a +/- of 4%. Yikes.

By CFS

Missoula is a fine city… a city I’m proud to call home because of its culture, people, neighborhoods, beer, scenery, architecture, etc.  I am one of those many thousands of people that are not “native” but were attracted here over the last three decades because of how great the Missoula lifestyle is and after nearly a decade of living here I feel like this is my hometown.  And so I hope you can understand my frustration when Missoula is derided as the basket case of Montana.

The argument heard over and over again from various people goes something like this; “Bottom line, the problem is Missoula is run and heavily populated by Liberals*,” originally from the evil, socialist, and morally corrupt state of California. Those damn hippies hate anyone who dares to try and start a business and, “are vocally anti corporate*”.  All these transplants are ruining Missoula for the Missoula natives; outsiders add to congestion, low wages, a bad job market, unaffordable housing, and worse government.  If only local government would get out of my bathroom, stop preventing me from getting from point A to B with all this traffic calming bullshit, and stop telling me how I can advertise my business Missoula would be a great place and Smurfit-Stone never would have pulled out.

I’ll attempt to address and dissect these complaints in an ongoing series about Missoula and will argue that Missoula’s liberal culture is perhaps its greatest asset and that many of Missoula’s weaknesses are in fact geographical in nature rather than political or cultural.

Lets start with the claim that liberalism is destroying Missoula economically.  Its perfectly true that Missoula is a transformed town from the mill-town it once was 30 or 40 years ago, but what western town or city hasn’t seen radical shifts in their economies?  Resource extraction, manufacturing, and the associated supporting infrastructure and jobs have seen major declines since the late seventies all across the country.  This isn’t because of liberals but because of capitalism… markets have been opened up and such industries are now mainly based in low wage countries in Asia.

So all you haters don’t blame liberals… blame other nations full of people working harder at lower wage rates… if only they would unionize we might get our jobs back.  The conservative blame game pointed at Missoula’s liberals comes out of frustration with change and an unknown future.  They see change all around them from the subdivision swallowing up farm fields and the mill jobs disappearing to the bike lanes going in all over town and they don’t understand where all this change has come from or where it will lead… so they lash out at the closest thing, local liberals.

Despite Missoula’s transformation and loss of old economy employment the town hasn’t been hit terribly hard economically through most of the last 40 years… in fact Missoula has experienced a higher rate of job growth than conservative leaning and business friendly Billings.  According to The Bureau of Business and Economic Research’s Montana Regional Economic Analysis Project Missoula experienced job growth of 216% from 1969-2008 while Billings job growth was 168% and Montana and National growth was a slower rate of 118% and 99% respectfully.  Average employment growth in Missoula beat Billings every decade since the seventies and thats with Billing’s boom in the oil and natural gas service industry.  Even in the current economic climate Missoula’s job losses have been less than those experienced in the early 80s, about 2.5% compared with about 9%.  Income growth has also outpaced Billings, with Missoula experiencing total personal income increase over the same time period by 318% as compared to Billings (273%), Montana (204%), and the Nation (228%) as a whole.  Not bad Missoula!

It is exactly because of Missoula’s more liberal and open culture combined with its recreational opportunities and lifestyle that has attracted such growth and not tax rebates and large corporations.  Economists Thomas Power and Richard Barret make a great case for the “New West” economy in their book Post-Cowboy Economies.   Their argument is that faltering industrial economies have opened up the west for new economic opportunities based not on resource extraction but on environmental quality, in-migration, recreation/tourism, and knowledge based services (finance, engineering, medical services, etc).  The old western economy and the new western economy were both mutually exclusive, unable to exist simultaneously within the same geographic space.  This new economy is bringing along more prosperity, wider ranging economic development, and booming growth as evidenced by the fact that the Mountain West was the fastest growing region in the 90s and aughts.

This “New West” economy has produced huge gains for Missoula.  Between 2001-2007 Missoula County saw net employment growth of 10,632, or 15%, with growth being the greatest in the professional and technical services (27%), healthcare (13%), arts/entertainment/recreation (44%), education (38%), real estate (70%), administration (41%), and finance (10%).  During that same time Missoula County’s poulation increased from 97,400 to 107,552, or 10.4%.

So yes… Missoula has experienced an amazing amount of change in the last several decades fueled mostly by in-migration and shifting employment and industrial sector growth.  Its utter poppycock that Missoula has a lousy economy even given the current situation.  Missoula has been a leader in many fields and has developed first class educational and healthcare services for our region that not only attract people to Missoula but also act as the area’s largest employers.

The recent closing of the last remaining mills in the area and the loss of Macy’s might play heavily within the communal psychology of Missoula but are largely beyond the control of locals.  While the loss of over 400 Stone Container jobs is a big loss and affects many families its a sign of strength and diversity that such a loss makes such a small dent in total employment.  Such local events are part of the process of resetting the economic playing field to allow capital to be freed from unprofitable economic pursuits.  New opportunities that are net yet in sight will come to occupy these vacant spaces.  We aren’t experiencing anything different from anywhere else in the country and are in far better shape than similar communities in the Detroit area or Phoenix suburbs.

So all you haters… get over the hate and embrace the closest liberal you can find and lets work together to bring Missoula into the future as a strong regional leader… otherwise suck on Missoula’s barm.

*Quotes from various local online comment sections

by jhwygirl

Indulge me.

My musical awakening (I won’t fully admit the years here) was filled with an varied spectrum of music, including Neil Young, The Byrds, The Who, AC/DC and Black Sabbath. I think that it was superb guitar that drove my fandom – and living in a big city, I saw literally hundreds of concerts….and that doesn’t even begin to count my later years of 60+ Grateful Dead shows.

LOVE old Black Sabbath. Boy, did this stuff piss off my mom. Hearing it takes me back XX years.

One of the world’s original premier heavy metal vocalists passed away today, at 67, from stomach cancer. Rest in Peace, Ronnie James Dio. You left an impression that will not be forgotten.

by jhwygirl

The Missoulian article got nary a comment, but the lively Billings Gazette (this is a shorter article) garnered a few.

The Great Falls Tribune still has the meatiest piece up, and since it will be lost to its archives, has been pasted up here, in the interest of public information.

Virtually all of that Nature Conservancy Legacy Project land is located here in Missoula – funny that Gouras would go to a Cascade County Commissioner to get comments on the tax implications.

“We haven’t made any inquiries about it, but we were not expecting a portion of that money,” Briggs said. “I am surprised about the proposal, however. I assumed the money would go to the state general fund to keep the balance up going into the next Legislature.

I still find it offensive (and ignorant) that politicals in this state don’t understand that these trust land monies are supposed to go to schools. Is there no one that will speak up for this affront? Because of all the extra influx this year – the Otter Creek money, and now the PPL money – the schools in this state should be expecting some shored up budgets with this extra cash…but instead it’s being redirected into the general fund (and apparently to buy Plum Creek land).

Funny math, I guess.

Demanding hydro-power oaths, I guess, isn’t as sexy.

Gouras had a good eye, though – it’s not exactly clear from the Land Board’s agenda what it is they’re planning to do. This link will take you to the current agenda.

MT FWP is also planning on purchasing – if it hasn’t already – 34,000 acres of Nature Conservancy/Plum Creek land in Fish Creek, located in Mineral County.

I don’t know about y’all, but I’m seeing plenty of irony here.

Discuss.

by jhwygirl

That’s what many said to the State Land Board (and to 3 of its 5 members, Governor Schweitzer, Secretary of State Linda McDulloch and Auditor Monica Lindeen) before then went ahead anyway and approved the Otter Creek coal leases.

Not before – let’s not forget – a poorly orchestrated show between Governor Schweitzer and Linda McCulloch, who first added a bonus bid of 15 cents/ton. Four of ’em played along in that one (with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau casting the lone dissenting vote), but in the end, even Attorney General Steve Bullock changed his mind, seeing through the corporate welfare that was, eventually, approved – a 40% drop in price (and let’s not feign that this was in any way a “bid” given that only one entity could competitively bid on it, given the land-locked nature of the state lands involved and the fact that the bidder is the one that land-locks the land) along with a $57 million instant subsidy of the coal corporate giants.

Can’t forget, either, that a railroad that will also need to be condemned through Montana’s eminent domain laws – that’s condemnation of private land in the interest of a private corporate entity, folks – a railroad that will save that private corporate entity well in the range of $100 million a year in hauling costs from Wyoming’s extensive coal fields down south.

Don’t try and tell me that coal isn’t subsidized – a industry as old as the world is still gaining both federal and state subsidy to operate. Ridiculous.

Oh, yeah – there was more. The votes were disappointing (Schweitzer, McCulloch and Monica I-campaigned-on-a-biodiesel-bus Lindeen). Even Button Valley was getting an overload of it, as was I, as Governor Brian Schweitizer headed out around the state pushing on communities to sign a oath to coal in order to get their legislatively appropriated stimulus money.

An illegal transgression that was largely overlooked – as was the stashing of that Otter Creek bid money in this year’s general budget instead of going to schools as it is legally obligated to do (along with that whole the-legislature-is-the-only-lawful-appropriator-of-money thing). It’s something that is coming home to roost, those illegal transgressions, and quickly becoming a private joke amongst many of us who railed against both of these things when they were occurring.

But we’ll leave that for another post, and the real journalists who are already asking the questions. Enable once, shame on you..enable twice, shame again…but sure as hell don’t get indignant about it the third time around…

Enter now Northern Plains Resource Council, the Wildlife Federation, Montana Environmental Information Center and the Sierra Club, who collectively filed two lawsuits this week challenging the Otter Creek coal lease approval.

NPRC and WF said that the state land board failed to adequately analyze the environmental effects of the project. MEIC and SC challenged on the basis of the economic and global warming effects of the project.

There are a myriad of problems with Otter Creek. I’m mystified as to the embracing – in a state that seems to champion individual property rights – of a project that will railroad over the private property rights of individuals (pun intended).

I’m also mystified that a state – in a time of general budget distress not only internally, but nationwide – would dish out such corporate welfare to the detriment of our very own children’s education funding.

What’s the real shame is that Montana’s citizens – and its very worthy non-profits – have to sue to get the state to meet its constitutional obligations outlined in what is known in our state constitution as the Montana Environmental Policy Act.

This can not and should not be taken lightly. I don’t care how many laws that the legislature passes or tries to pass attacking it. This is a constitutional guarantee. Guarantee. And this word can not be overemphasized enough. This isn’t some old state constitution. It is a modern document, with words that were carefully chosen, discussed and debated in modern many-remember-them times. Guarantee was not a word chosen or placed lightly, and it leaves little room for discussion.

It is the law of the land. Our state agencies, our land board and our Governor all have the obligation to make sure that guarantee is met each and every day. Shame on them for having to be sued to comply with constitutional obligations.

By JC

Wild & Beautiful

It’s been a while since I’ve put up a new piece of Blackbirdabilia, but I came across a nice ditty from Silly Wizard tonight as I was perusing the more obscure corners of my iTunes library. I ran across this great tune, as I was listening to some songs I had learned years ago. This version is sung from the man’s perspective. There also is a females’ version that is quite lovely.

I bring you “If I was a Blackbird” from the album Wild & Beautiful. Enjoy!:

I am a young sailor, my story is sad
For once I was carefree and a bold sailor lad
I courted a lassie by night and by day
But now she has left me and gone far away

Chorus:
Oh if I was a blackbird, could whistle and sing
I’d follow the vessel my true love sails in
And in the top rigging I would there build my nest
And I’d flutter my wings o’er her lily-white breast

Or if I was a scholar and could handle a pen
One secret love letter to my true love I’d send
And I’d tell of my sorrow, my grief and my pain
Since she’s gone and left me in yon flowery glen

I sailed o’er the ocean, my fortune to seek
Though I missed her caress and her kiss on my cheek
I returned and I told her my love was still warm
But she turned away lightly and great was her scorn

I offered to take her to Donnybrook Fair
And to buy her fine ribbons to tie up her hair
I offered to marry and to stay by her side
But she said in the morning she sailed with the tide

My parents they chide me, and will not agree
Saying that me and my false love married should never be
Ah but let them deprive me, or let them do what they will
While there’s breath in my body, she’s the one that I love still

 
“Rehberg has shown to be diligent at one thing–avoiding accountability. “
–Melinda Gopher, candidate for the Democratic House nomination

By JC

Well, it was just a matter of time until Melinda Gopher unleashed part of her strategy to unseat incumbent Denny Rehberg for Montana’s lone House seat: attack Rehberg’s vulnerability created by his drinking and poor decision-making abilities during last year’s near fatal boat crash:

“Montanans want answers. Since August 27th, there has been a veil of secrecy around Rep. Rehberg regarding the boat crash in which all occupants of the boat were injured, one very seriously. Were it not for rescuers delivering life-saving aid; Dustin Frost, a then-Rehberg staffer–would be dead…

I challenge all of my Democratic opponents to state their position on this; they want to seek offices requiring judgment and leadership–their opinons must be known because Montanans have a right to know where they stand on this issue.”

Invoking a House ethics investigation would be a great way to drag Denny out of the shadows over his abuse of power that night on Flathead Lake. I’m not going to get into the details of the accident and aftermath, it’s been chronicled to a great degree here at 4&20, and elsewhere outside of the mainstream media.

What I will say is that I admire a political candidate who is willing to speak truth to power, and raise the issues that neither any of the other candidates or the media is willing to tackle: Rehberg’s fitness to hold public office. Here’s the meat of her argument:

“Rehberg has shown to be diligent at one thing–avoiding accountability. It is time to call him on this. I am asking for four things:

1. State Democratic party leaders call for his resignation from office and an ethics investigation into Rehberg’s role in this criminal matter.
2. Join my demand that Rep. Rehberg give full disclosure of the night surrounding the incident; including his time spent those very sequestered two hours at the Kalispell hospital.
3. It took two full hours to obtain BAC samples from all involved, given the seriousness of the accident. What sort of atmosphere was created in the hospital, was there an attempt to conceal, destroy, or tamper with evidence–or otherwise mislead authorities? Unidentified sources claim the hospital went out of its way, far beyond normal procedure–to lock down the facility. There was a great deal of secrecy the night the crash victims were brought in–this is unusual given these are public servants. It would be prudent to review the entire manner the hospital handled this event.
4. Because of the nature of Rep. Rehberg and Sen. Barkus’s public offices; it is crucial the U.S. House look into the misleading public statements made by Rehberg. His statements had the effect of misleading an official investigation where multiple crimes were committed, people’s lives were greatly imperiled, and state laws were broken. This rises to the level of the need for an ethics investigation.

As a candidate for this office, I want Montanans to have the benefit of full and complete information of the night of the incident–to make their choices on June 8, and in the general election. We are not running a government of secrecy–it is our right to know. With the latest delay to postpone the trial until after the general election; not only Rehberg but Republicans are attempting to circumvent the fallout that full public disclosure will bring to Montana voters. To continue a pattern of secrecy and denial suggests there is something to hide.”

I like what I hear coming out of the Gopher campaign: a well written and cogent attack on Rehberg, and an understanding of the big issues before us today. If you haven’t yet, hop on over to her new campaign website. It is very appealing, full of lots of information, and regularly updated! I like her approach, taking on Rehberg and the issues at a time when other candidates are trying to build name recognition or define their campaigns before the Rehberg attack machine does it for them.

I’d love to see a contest between Rehberg and Gopher. Denny has two basic approaches to that matchup: ignore her, or attack her. He isn’t capable of running a campaign on the issues. He is a long term incumbent running during an election when incumbency is a huge detriment. And what is he going to do? Attack a native american woman with a wonderful biography, and a history of working hard for the people? Go negative on a person who the average Montanan can see has risen up out of abject poverty to succeed and take on a silver-spoon politician in an era of ideological purity in the teabagger-dominated republican party?

If I were Gopher, I’d say bring on the attack machine, and we’ll turn it right around on Rehberg, and let the people see him for who he truly is: a drunken rich-boy bully. And if Rehberg chooses to ignore her, that would be a big mistake when the public mood is 2 to 1 against incumbents this year.

We need a candidate who is willing to run hard against an ethically challenged, incompetent, and do-nothing incumbent. The more I see what Gopher is doing, the more that I see she is that candidate.

by jhwygirl

Montana Conservation Voters came out a while back with some of its endorsements in contested races.

Pete has reported on this in the past…so I hope I’m not stepping on any toes…

MCV had some trouble, it seems with many of the races – a failure to endorse in the congressional race is truly a disappointment for me, considering the clear differences in issues such as coal and renewable resources and green energy/jobs. Tyler Gernant clearly leads with those issues when compared with Dennis McDonald.

Wherein I see I’ve digressed…

Two local races facing Democratic primaries are HD94 and HD92 – and Montana Conservation Voters have made clear endorsements in those races – endorsing Bryce Bennett in HD92 and endorsing Ellie Hill for HD94.

Both are fine candidates and very hardworking progressives for both Missoula and the state of Montana. Their work alone should earn them your vote and the right to represent Missoula residents in Helena…but these two have been knockin’ doors (Ellie up there on Hillview? Good Lord the woman has tenacity!) and making calls, in between their regular 9 to 9 jobs that serve this community.

Clearly, they are excellent choices. Missoula is fortunate with such a wealth in quality for these two house candidates.

~~~~~~~~~~~
Mail-in ballots are in the mail, if not delivered today. Be sure to vote early. Save county Elections Administration Vicki Zeier and the rest of the staff that last minute rush.

In the upcoming day’s I’ll be offering a few more endorsements. Of course, I’ve clearly said Tyler Gernant is the best choice for Democrats if they want to take out Dennis Rehberg in the congressional race….but we’ve got a couple other races that I plan to opine on in the near future.

by jhwygirl

No one is responsible for anything any more.

That’s from guest host on tonight’s Rachael Maddow Show Chris Hayes, Washington editor for The Nation. He listed off all kinds of ‘passing the buck’ blame games, from 9/11 (Bush passing the blame onto everyone but his own administration) to Katrina (Mayor Nagin blaming everyone but himself for any role in the disaster that unfolded) to the latest, the oil volcano spurting in the Gulf of Mexico – a deep-water well that was categorically excluded from the National Environmental Protection Act by the Mineral Management Bureau of the Department of the Interior.

Today BP, Halliburton and Transocean all were called on the floor of the Senate to answer questions as to who’s to fault for the disaster.

BP (who holds the categorically excluded oil lease) blamed Transocean, the owner of the rig that exploded….Transocean blamed Halliburton for a “failed cement” job, and Halliburton blamed BP, since they own the lease.

Three monkeys, all pointing at each other – and isn’t that just the way?

It’s getting old. This scene has played out in politics for far too long. Frankly, I’m a little sick and tired of government calling whomever up to the floor of congress – and I don’t care if it’s the head of FEMA, the head of the FBI, or bank or oil executives – to ask hard questions and then none of it goes anywhere.

Congress should be looking at themselves. Seriously. They’re as much to blame, frankly, as the BP/Halliburton/Transocean monkeys that were up there in D.C. today.

It’s not as if these events result in a review of government regulations as they exist….what continues is self-enforcement and self-policing of industries as important to the core of our economy as banking – and no solutions proposed with actual follow-through legislation to the problem as they laid it bare in front of America via C-Span and MSNBC.

Just one more bit of rant, if ya’all will indulge me – When WHEN are we going to rid ourselves of Halliburton?! How many gosh darn times do they have to be called up to the Senate before someone figures out a way to dissolve this piece of crap corporation that has ripped off Americans; disregarded our soldier’s safety so much so that sons and daughters have come home from Iraq and Afghanistan in body bags due to their negligence; the raping of civilians in foreign countries under the protection of government contracts; and now the latest environmental disaster laying out before us in the Gulf.

Was anyone surprised when they heard Halliburton was involved in this latest disaster? I know I wasn’t.

What is they say? Those that can’t learn from their history are doomed to repeat it?




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