Archive for June, 2010

by jhwygirl

I am beyond disgusted with this kind of stuff. If I’ve never written to the fact that the Constitution is the ultimate law of the land, I’ve written nothing.

Today I find that the MT GOP, at its most recent convention, re-affirmed its 2008 platform calling for making homosexual acts criminal.

And lest you think I’m making this up – mainly because the page link I provided has been removed today by the MT GOP – here is a cached version, courtesy of the google.

Now – these Einsteins of the MT GOP apparently have no respect for the Montana Constitution, nor the United State’s Constitution. See, both the Montana Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States of America have struck down “anti-sodomy” laws.

The Montana Supreme Court did so in Gryczan v. State, 942 P.2d 112 (1997). Not only that, Gryczan and the right of privacy it has conferred has been reaffirmed over and over again by both the Montana courts and other state and federal courts repeatedly since its rendering.

The United States Supreme Court struck down anti-sodomy laws in Lawrence et. al. V. Texas (02-102) 539 U.S. 558 (2003), finding a constitutional protection to sexuality. Only Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

In other words – it’s no government’s business what anyone does in their bedroom.

Where does it stop, MT GOP? What is it you want? Are there not enough problems out there facing Montanan’s? Have you no respect for the ultimate law of our land? Of our nation?

By Goddess, something is really failing us here, Montana – I am gosh darn sick and tired of politicians on both sides of the aisle proposing voting for passing and signing bills into law that violate the constitution (be it the Montana Constitution or the Constitution of the United States).

It’s beyond disrespectful that politicians think they can push the boundaries of these precious documents as if saying to The People “Go ahead and sue me – you can’t afford the fight.”

It’s pretty friggin’ simple – policies must obey rules; rules must obey laws; laws must obey the Constitution. It’s not a “sometimes” thing. It’s not something that should only followed when it’s convenient or when the “other party” is in charge

It’s all the time.

by problembear

in a bold move designed to make political hay out of the recession republican senators rejected the jobless aid bill tonight.

by rekindling the bush-crash and destroying the economy further, republicans are hoping that they can foment more malaise and suffering in order to cement their chances of overtaking democrats in the fall.


if this works, soon it will be happy days for the GOP! but more suffering for people who are trying their best to look for work.

because if they do manage to scam voters into believing that they are only concerned about the deficit we can expect to see more Hoover stimulus like this….. and if the republicans are really successful- a real live depression!

by Pete Talbot

We’ll deal with pot first, which is being assaulted by Republicans and the media. 2008 Republican gubernatorial candidate Roy Brown had this to say about current Montana medical marijuana laws:

“… and when their peers in junior high have (medical marijuana) cards, it just sends the absolutely wrong message.”

Show me one junior high kid who has an authentic medical marijuana card, Roy. But fear speaks louder than facts at the Republican convention in Billings, and Brown wants Montana voters to repeal the law that they passed by 60% in 2004. The final language adopted in the platform came from Victor Republican Jim Shockley, which urged that the law be repealed or amended.

At least Gov. Schweitzer, the guy who beat Brown for governor, did a little research before opening his mouth. While touring a marijuana caregiver’s facility in Missoula, he said that although the law needed some revision, he didn’t like the idea of taking the herb away from those in need.

Our hometown daily, however, feels differently. Sunday’s rabid Missoulian editorial took a page right out of the Republican play book of fear with peripheral horror stories and this rejoinder:

Until the state can straighten out the rampant problems with the Medical Marijuana Act, Missoula should order existing dispensaries to cease doing business and impose an immediate moratorium on new shops.

I can agree that the law needs some tweaking and a moratorium on new shops could be in order, but existing dispensaries should cease doing business? Missoulian editorials of late rarely take this strong a stand — not on the economy or health care or war or climate change — just on pot.

On to wolves.

Photo: Kurt Wilson/Missoulian

Wolves aren’t endangered, kids in camo and their folks told District Judge Don Molloy. Elk and other ungulates are the ones in danger from wolves, said the sign carriers in front of the Missoula Federal Courthouse.

At issue is the re-listing of wolves as an endangered species, being heard in Federal District Court.

A host of other factors like loss of access, private hunts and game farms are affecting hunters. Include climate change and habitat loss and other threats besides wolves, and the reduction in wildlife numbers becomes a more complicated debate.

But you don’t usually see this crowd at wilderness hearings, environmental rallies or public access meetings. No, it’s the federal government these folks are mad at, as usual. They’re the Tea Party of the hunting crowd.

by problembear


it’s not official yet, but it looks like your days of preying on the working poor of montana with 650% interest rates are numbered….

it looks like it will be on the ballot this november. if the history of payday lenders facing ballot measures in the other 17 states that have capped payday lending rates is any guide, the vote should be very much in favor of the people of montana who want a fair treatment of montana’s working poor.

by problembear


i went to my first real live wilderness hearing in 1973. it was a hearing to decide the fate of the oregon dunes natural area near florence oregon. Jim Monteith, andy kerr, tim lillebo marcy willow and i traveled from eugene to grants pass oregon. when we arrived i realized that there were about 100 wilderness supporters present to face down an entire room full of real live gun packing dune buggy enthusiasts, four wheelers and mostly just plain angry local folks and timber beasts who were against anything that their friends and employers were.

This was just one of many hearings that senator mark hatfield and his staff were holding in several communities around oregon to get a sense of how the citizens of oregon viewed the proposal to protect this area from further erosion by four wheelers and dune buggies. geologists testified that the dunes would only last another 50 years at the rate that gas guzzling machines were knocking them down. we testified about the value of the wild plants and the unique environment of course, which only resulted in cat calls and boos from the locals. they testified the usual things about the proposed wilderness area impinging on their right as free born americans to go wherever the hell they wanted to in their sand rails and their massively jacked up to ten feet high cab 4×4 machines. it also didn’t help much that the town’s mascot was the caveman…..

in the middle of the hearing a very magical thing happened which turned the war-like atmosphere of the packed auditorium on its ear…..

a very prim, white haired, tiny, older woman who amazingly wore the proverbial red tennis shoes approached the lectern. she cleared her throat, adjusted her very thick glasses to face the senator and began….

“i am from medford oregon and one of my favorite recreations is to hike in and view the warblers of the oregon coast many of which are found in diversity and abundance among the oregon dunes national park. they congregate around the fresh water springs and sparse vegetation which exists like little oases to satisfy their very tiny needs. from bristle cone pines to the rhododendron these little birds find sustenance in the tiniest and most rare of environments which machines are threatening to destroy within my nieces and nephews lifetimes. i have no children of my own. i am all alone now except for my birds.

i have never owned an RV or a camper. i used to camp out on the dunes when i was younger in tents. i am older now but i still get out and hike wherever i can…..

(at this point this tiny older woman turned around to face the thousand or so four wheelers who were laughing at her)

……we don’t need to spend a lot of money to enjoy the wild places that are left. it is possible to enjoy life without using expensive machines……

(then she turned her steely blue eyes behind those owl lenses around to face senator hatfield and the members of the committee and staff as she finished with this haymaker….

………senator, i have lived my entire life on a librarian’s salary, (she banged her tiny fist on the lectern) and i have lived a damned good life.”

senator hatfield and all the participants in that room sat chastised and dumb-founded by this tiny brave woman’s short speech. in fact, it was the only time in senator hatfield’s career that he was ever lectured to. in front of the tv cameras and facing a hostile crowd, this unknown woman held us all in the palm of her hand with her humble words of support and remonstrance at the wasteful way most all of us live our lives. her speech was an indictment of the vacuousness of modern life and at the same time it was a ringing endorsement of the necessity to protect every single piece of what is still wild in order not so much to recreate but to survive.

i spent from 1973 to 1984 helping to protect oregon’s wild lands and probably traded away a promising career as a well paid petroleum or mineral geologist to do it. i watched fellow students i knew become successful, but never happier than i was. in fact, most of them were jealous of my life, although i always lived hand to mouth to support my passion to protect wild land.

this is why i am so hard on many of the new well-paid professional wilderness advocates who are trading away so much of the future of montana’s wild lands in exchange for a handful of silver (600,000 acres) out of 3.3 million.

i am beholden to no one. i have a very modest life with the one i love which we both enjoy immensely. and i have never compromised on wilderness one inch in my entire life and i don’t intend to start now. when i remember that lady who has most certainly passed from this earth many decades ago, i am renewed by her truth about simplicity as the only path to happiness. i am reminded of her also when i see those who have accumulated much wealth but who will never see the value of wilderness and i realize just how lucky i am.

when the political puppets of power reach out to seek compromise from those who occupy the position and the important task of defending wild land, i suppose it is tempting to serve them. but i will never know how that feels, thanks to that lady. i only know one thing i have learned in 37 years of fighting for wilderness. compromise never saved one acre of wild land. but courage and sacrifice has.

bob dylan said it best when he said….you gotta serve somebody.

when it comes to protecting wilderness you must make a choice between the tempting political tap on the shoulder which allows entry to the chuck-e-cheese like romp room in washington dc which rewards those who collaborate VS the earth.

i have lived my entire life on a blue collar bear’s salary and i too, have lived a damned good life. just like that long gone poor librarian, i choose the earth.

oh- and by the way, that area was saved. and mark hatfield is on record as saying it was that old lady’s lecture to him and all of us that pushed it over the top.

by Pete Talbot

(When interviewed in the Missoulian years ago, 4&20 founder Jay Stevens said that to be a successful blogger, one should blog daily. Well, we’ve certainly missed that deadline. Time for this slacker to take up the slack. I have no idea where jhwygirl or JC are, which should reinforce, gentle reader, the autonomy of 4&20’s writers.

Thanks to problembear for stepping back in and providing a few posts.

Here are some underdeveloped thoughts bouncing around my brain. Consider this an open thread.)

Is downtown dying?

Missoulian reporter Betsy Cohen paints a rather rosy picture of Downtown Missoula. Despite the loss of downtown’s last drug store (A&C), Pipestone Mountaineering, Moose Creek Mercantile, et al. — and, of course, Macy’s — downtown retailers are saying everything is OK. What are they going to say, “Hey, we’re dying here.”?

I don’t have the solution. I know we welcomed every big box store, chain store and franchise imaginable out on Reserve Street. Built them big, new roads and everything.

I also know the economy isn’t helping but I’ve watched downtown survive (barely) Missoula’s economic ebb and flow through a few of these cycles.

One thought: Macy’s should give its old Missoula building to the city. It’s not like the company put a lot of money into it. Folks in the know say Macy’s sank a bunch of bucks into various suburban malls around the country but sort of ignored its downtown stores (example: the dozen pre-World War II swamp coolers on the roof of our Macy’s, meant to cool the place).

Over the last century, Missoulians have paid their dues and supported the businesses in that building. C’mon, Macy’s, you owe us. Sound like socialism? I suppose. But really, I’m all in favor of entrepreneurship and making a profit and all that, but the (Missoula Mercantile, Bon Marche) Macy’s building is more than brick and mortar, it’s the heart of downtown. We deserve it.

(I also believe that Smurfit-Stone should give the Missoula Community its mill in Frenchtown but that’s the subject of another post.)

Of oil spills and tar sands

The BP oil spill is world-wide news and an environmental disaster. Closer to home, massive rigs will be rolling through some of the most primitive and beautiful country in the nation, headed to the tar sands fields in Canada. Then there are the even bigger drums, departing Lewiston, Idaho, in the next few weeks for the ConocoPhillips refinery in Billings. Is there an end, in the near future, to these affronts to Mother Nature? No. All are inexorably connected to our addiction to oil. We are as responsible for these assaults on our environment as are ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and BP.

What to do? David Sirota has a few tips for decreasing demand – nothing earth shattering but every little bit helps.

Then there’s this suggestion: a higher fuel tax. Now what sort of tree-hugging Commie would suggest this? None other than Car and Driver columnist Aaron Robinson. Car and Driver is a car enthusiast’s magazine dedicated to, for the most part, high performance vehicles (I’m a closet motorhead and have fantasies of 12-cylinder Ferraris, Jaguars and Aston-Martins). A higher gas tax, according to Robinson, would lead to better designed, more efficient vehicles; a reduced demand for petroleum and a corresponding cleaner environment; and more money in this country’s coffers.

Some (Democratic) humor

Let’s end this on a humorous note, courtesy of my cousin, Laura Mae:

“Working people frequently ask retired people what they do to make their days interesting. Well, for example, the other day my wife and I went into town and went into a shop. We were only in there for about 5 minutes. When we came out, there was a cop writing out a parking ticket. We went up to him and said, “Come on man, how about giving a senior citizen a break?”

He ignored us and continued writing the ticket. I called him a Nazi turd. He glared at me and started writing another ticket for having worn tires. So my wife called him a shit-head. He finished the second ticket and put it on the windshield with the first. Then he started writing a third ticket. This went on for about 20 minutes. The more we abused him, the more tickets he wrote. Personally, we didn’t care. We came into town by bus and saw the car had a Sarah Palin bumper sticker. We try to have a little fun each day now that we’re retired. It’s important at our age.”

by problembear

i was asked by john adams of the Great Falls Tribune (who has done tremendous work on this issue by the way) to remove the photo of jon tester earlier today and i have complied….

in it’s place please enjoy…..jon tester on his first day in the senate learning political chicanery at the feet of a master….

(update: approximately 15 minutes after posting this, suddenly both links now work at the left in the west link provided below)

waddayaknow. somebody is listening over there after all.

now first, i want to tell everyone that i volunteered to help jon tester win his senate seat in 2006. i supported him and i believed him when he said he would make government open to the public and more transparent. i voted for him and by less than the margin of victory of the A section of Grizzly Stadium he defeated conrad burns. i expected him to be open and honest as he said he would.

check out this post put out by jon tester’s staff today in touting their new improved open policy by providing (sic) a link to the latest version of his version of a draft of the forest bill now being written in committee.

note that this post (which has two links that do not work did not work until after this post was read by someone who was embarrassed) goes nowhere. pathetic and sad.

i was anxious to read tester’s new version tonight but i guess i will have to wait for some enterprising reporter to fight through the gauze and the opaque lens of tester’s new open transparency to find out just how he intends to answer a very skeptical senate committee that is looking askance at tester’s unprecedented insistence on mandated logging of 100,000 acres  of timberland during a time when there appears to be little or no market for any of this force-logged lumber…..

if mandated logging during a recession is not enough to trigger a WTF logic alarm then consider this: this bill was originally envisioned by conrad burns as a collaboration between environmentalists and the logging industry in 2002. it is simply recycled.

this secretively written, poorly handled bill filled with stumbling language has been met with nothing but derision by wilderness supporters accross the nation and the majority of the senate committee working on it. you don’t have to take my word for it though….

nobody pays me the big bucks but at least i can get my links to work.

just like the links that tester’s staff provided, this bill deserves to go nowhere.

for those who are as curious about this as i am here is a working link to the newest version of the working draft ……

i like this idea

by problembear

now lets get er done….

for those of you who could use a good laugh try this….

by the way- i am still as angry as mr black is about our stupid health care bill in this country. i don’t know about the rest of you, but my health insurance costs more and still won’t pay the bills. what a racket. collect bushels of money from people to insure our health and then deny the claims. thanks mr baucus for protecting the health insurance companies for us.

by Pete Talbot

The numbers were already in when I arrived, late, at the Union Club. It doesn’t take long to tally votes in a primary.

Tyler Gernant was there and had mixed emotions about the outcome. He did much better than he could have hoped for when he first launched his campaign, but it wasn’t enough. The Democrat’s standard bearer, Dennis McDonald, had a 14 point lead. Gernant, with 15,724 votes, received 24% and McDonald, with 24,134 votes, had 38%.

It wasn’t a shock but I predicted closer numbers in the Gernant/McDonald contest.

Melinda Gopher with 13,287 and 21% came in a close third (which surprised both me and Gernant since she didn’t have a strong field operation). She did well with tribal voters and I’m guessing women, too. She definitely pulled some votes from Gernant.

As did Sam Rankin, who also raised very little money and didn’t really have an organization, but pulled an amazing 16% (10,233).

I and other Missoula area bloggers have been accused of being “Missoulacentric.” After all, Missoula is the center of the universe. But being here in the Garden City, one’s point of view can become a bit jaded. Tyler seemed to be doing so well in Missoula and he did capture 1143 more votes than McDonald in Missoula County. So, obviously, McDonald worked hard in other Montana counties. This shatters one of my long held opinions that if you can win Missoula County in the Democratic primary, you win the state.

I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of Gernant, though.

Another race I thought would be closer was Teresa Henry’s loss to Tom Facey by 26 points. Tom’s door-to-door work is unparalleled, they say, and as a Missoula area teacher for decades, he has good name recognition. Still, Ms. Henry has a fine track record in Helena and has served more recently than Facey. I thought this race would go down to the wire but Facey ended up with nearly 63% (1190) to Henry’s 37% (708).

Ellie Hill’s victory received a rousing round of shouts and applause at the Club when her numbers were announced. She beat Lou Ann Crowley by almost 100 votes (Hill, 712 or 53% to Crowley’s 618 or 46%). Ellie ran a textbook campaign — fundraising, the doors, targeted mailing, GOTV — she did everything it takes to win and she pulled it off. I thought this race would be closer, too, but some of the yard signs of the many I saw for Crowley were in Republican yards and those folks probably voted in the Republican primary.

And on the Republican side, congressionally, voters went big for the right (incumbent Denny Rehberg got 86,271 or nearly 75% of the vote), followed by the far, far right (Mark French, 21,989 or almost 20%). Not a lot of moderate votes cast (A.J. Otjen, 6668 or close to 6%).

Some other noteworthy observations: Republican voters went to the polls at twice the number of Democrats — 129,165 to 62,811. This does not bode well for the fall general election, especially in the congressional contest. The Democrats have their work cut out for them.

And the petition gatherers for CI-102, the “amoebas are human beings” constitutional initiative, showed real class. They paraded around outside Lowell Elementary School with posters of dead fetuses.

by jhwygirl

I love it.

by jhwygirl

A little over a week ago I wrote about the Mineral County Sheriff’s race which was turning strange – in my opinion – with a candidate promising to sue the county in which he was seeking a job. He also promised not to enforce federal laws.

This kind of talk is dangerous. Frankly, it’s a little crazy.

Mineral County is facing a financial crisis (as are many government entities here and around the U.S.) – and along with the sheriff’s race, the primary election also includes a 3-year temporary 25-mill levy to ensure adequate staffing for the sheriff’s department. One candidate is against the levy, yet – of course – this teabagger state’s right fiscal conservative Constitutionalist would sue the county (with what $, I don’t know) in order to get the staffing that the county sheriff’s department so desperately needs.

Mineral County, though is facing a larger crisis of ideology. They’ve been through this before, and John Q. Murray reminds Mineral County residents – and the rest of us – with an interview with outgoing Sheriff Hopwood of the dangers Constitutionalists like Rand Paul and (while he doesn’t mention him by name), primary sheriff’s candidate Ernie Ornelas.

And he’s right – they’re not crazy – they’re dangerous.

If anyone has been up Fish Creek recently, they know that there is one of these lunatic Constitutionalists established up there, staking claim to parts of the Lolo National Forest. These people are scary, make no mistake.

Murray gives readers a history lesson in not only Mineral County’s not-too-terribly-recent past, but the Civil War and the dangers of these political ideologues that wage a verbal and ideological war against the U.S. Constitution. The take that foundation of our very government and twist its words to try and deflate its importance in an attempt to make not only states (but in this case) local sheriff’s supreme.

And while it may sound like crazy talk, and something that should be ignored, the reality is that turning the other way is more dangerous as this talk fertilizes the community as a haven for others to plant themselves.

Right here in Mineral County, Sheriff Hugh Hopwood has encountered self-professed “Constitutionalists” and “free white males” who claim they are not subject to taxes and motor vehicle laws. Elsewhere they have filed bogus tax liens against elected officials, convened their own grand juries, and issued bogus warrants to arrest judges and sheriffs.

“We worked very hard, for years, starting under Sheriff O’Brien, to get the White Supremacists and the Constitutionalists under check. We were the laughingstock of the nation when the Church of the Creator held their meetings here, and when the Church of the True Israel held their meeting up Highway 135,” Sheriff Hopwood said. “I’m worried that Mineral County will be seen as a place favorable to those extreme points of view. Once you open that door, then it is hard as hell to get it closed again.”

The danger isn’t from the people currently in Mineral County. They know their local and state candidates and their characters. The danger is from people outside who will interpret these statements as establishing a safe haven for racism and anti-government agitation. A very real danger is that they will misconstrue these remarks as suggesting a nice big welcome mat for white supremacists.

Mineral County needs the door not only shut tight, but locked, deadbolted, barred, and wired with live current to keep out the white supremacists and their twisted brand of evil.

Murray, former sheriff O’Brien, current Sheriff Hugh Hopwood and sheriff’s candidate Mike Johnson (who has directly challenged the notion of a Constitutionalist sheriff who won’t enforce federal laws) are bravely doing the job of true patriots – standing up to hate and dangerous ideology much like those that spoke out against the South as the dangerously brought this country to civil war.

I laud these guys for doing this – and I hope that the residents of Mineral County understand the dangers they face and turn out in droves to shut Ornela down.

Further confirming that Ornelas is dangerous is the fact that he was endorsed by the one-man show, Missoula’s Gary Marbut/Montana Shooting Sport’s Association. Please note in this video that he calls himself president of the MSSA, and refers to it as political action group and touts the number of laws he has pushed through the Montana legislature.

Marbut has failed to register as a lobbyist for his work in Helena – where, during legislative sessions, he lives Monday-Friday. He’s also known for his intimidation tactics to those who won’t vote for his gun bills (and was pretty darn successful at it last session). Rep. Margie Campbell stood up and pleaded with the even split house and urged her fellow Democrats to not cave to the intimidation tactics of the gun lobby. Unfortunately, they did not listen to this wise woman (who is not anti-gun), and passed several horrible gun bills including HB228 and HB246.

Both were signed into law by Governor Brian Schweitzer.

by jhwygirl

This post was updated.

Democratic congressional primary candidate Tyler Gernant has gained even more momentum in the last few days with news from both ABCMontana and the Flathead Beacon that the race is too close to call.

That in the context of taking on Dennis McDonald who was, much earlier this year, the presumed winner.

Gernant has worked hard – honestly, I am in awe of his steadfast work ethic and commitment to his campaign. The guy DOES NOT rest. Will he work for me in congress? Will he work for Montanans? You betcha!

TODAY he gained the endorsements of Jay Stevens at Left in the West – who thoroughly articulates his reasons for supporting Gernant and James Conner of Flathead Memo, who also, gives a fine analysis of why he is supporting Gernant along with a nice synopsis of the other candidates.

James Conner is a fine writer who provides (not often enough, IMO) thorough thoughtful nonpartisan commentary when it comes to politics. Moderates and Independents should take note of James’ endorsement.

Matt Singer – one of the finest people I know in progressive politics and someone I admire immensely – has put out a few posts on Tyler (like this one, Rehberg Gets Schooled by Tyler Gernant), and today he takes note of the momentum that Gernant has and says “I’d make a small bet that he pulls off this primary tomorrow evening — a victory that will be newsworthy for his age and the fact that McDonald should have this in a walk.”

Don Pogreba, a 2008 Democratic primary gubernatorial candidate, is calling the race for Gernant, saying “While Dennis McDonald certainly had an advantage in name recognition and connection to the party establishment, Gernant’s had a much more energetic and visible campaign.”

I have to say, all of this brings me great joy. Key factor here now is Getting Out The Vote. Give your friends around the state a call or an email tonight and remind them to vote in this important primary. Make sure your fellow coworkers have gotten their ballots in, or offer to get them to the polls.

Not registered? Head over to the fairgrounds. You can register right there.

by jhwygirl

Even if you like coal and supported development of the Otter Creek tracts, this should cause you pause.

Clean coal is a fallacy. The coal industry spends far more in dividend payments and buying bigger diesel-gobbling machinery than it does in search of technology for clean coal – and when that won’t work, they’ll just continue shipping the stuff off to China.

It’s a multitude of old industries joined together in the common cause of coal..holding on to the market they have for coal and mining machinery, railroad equipment and rail building, large-scale shipping. All subsidized by state and federal tax dollars – yours. Lobbying against clean energy and any policies that might lead us towards weaning our power industry off of coal.

Kinda like drug dealers, you know?

Meanwhile the U.S. lags behind in green industries. The windmill here in Montana? Built in Germany, Denmark, Spain and China. Congress has been, with all intent and purpose, walking away from the one burgeoning industry potential here in the U.S. Even industrialist and oil man T. Boone Pickens knows that wind energy is the future of America.

McDonald gives one statement to Montana Conservation Voters, another to the crowds here in Missoula, and a different one to the voters out east in Billings and Bozeman? What’s a voter to believe? I know I heard him here in Missoula say that ‘until coal can be made clean,’ he didn’t think we should be developing coal.

In a big state with such a small main street, why would any candidate put out a mixed message on such a high-profile issue?


by jhwygirl

Payday loan lenders are fighting back, with television ads throughout the state saying “Don’t sign I-164”.

The ad features one of the two brothers who own several payday loan lending places here and throughout the state – E-Z Money. I’d reckon most people would recognize their smiling faces from their television ads.

I-164 has these guys and their sordid industry running scared. The television commercial I saw propagandized that they only fees they charge are $15 for a two week $100 loan, $25 for a two week $200 loan and $35 for a two week $300 loan.

That’s $390 in interest per year on a $100 loan – if the person who got the loan is able to at least meet the loan fee.

And if it isn’t the initiative that has these guys running scared, it’s a problembear, who is doing battle with one of their paid lobbyists in pb’s most recent post here at 4&20.

problembear has been out gathering signatures for I-164, and he has also been back to his blogging over at Problembear’s Weblog.

Goddess Bless him.

Imagine the dire straits someone would be in to head to a payday loan lender for a $100 loan. A mother or father with a sick child, perhaps? Working minimum wage (not unlikely, given all those high-paying job Missoula has, right?). These people are already down and behind, and that’s how these places get their hooks into desperate people. Making that kind of money, it’s hard to keep yourself up with that kind of paycheck to begin with – you’re already counting pennies just to make rent, keep food on the table and gas in the car to get to work.

The E-Z Money owner and the ad intentionally blurs the line as if payday loan lenders, title loan lenders and retail installment lenders are all one in the same. All are just as evil. Right now, under Montana law, payday lenders may charge up to 650% on a 14-day loan. Title lenders can charge 300% on a 30-day loan. Plus they can take the car when you default for 60 days.

Here’s the language from I-164:

Under Montana law, deferred deposit (payday) lenders may charge fees equaling one-fourth of the loan, which is the same as an annual interest rate of 300 percent for a 31-day loan or 650 percent for a 14-day loan. Title lenders may charge interest equaling one-fourth of the loan, which is the same as an annual interest rate of 300 percent for a 30-day loan. I-164 reduces the interest, fees, and charges that payday, title, and retail installment lenders may charge to an annual interest rate of 36 percent. It prohibits businesses from structuring other transactions to avoid the rate limit.

This evil loan industry is putting out the same tired crap that they’ve used at the legislature for at least the last two sessions – “over 600 jobs at risk” and “over 100 businesses affected statewide” – and while that may have worked for the Republican legislators that wouldn’t allow bills even out on to the floor for a vote, it isn’t working for initiative signature gatherers, who I’ve been told (by problembear and others) aren’t have any trouble at all gathering the signatures that they need.

Again – Goddess bless ’em.

The lobbyist firm they’ve created to do battle with I-164 is Coalition for Consumer’s Choice. Here’s their contact information, just in case you want to write:

Coalition for Consumer’s Choice
Bernie Harrington, Treasurer
PO Box 81137
Billings, MT 59108

by jhwygirl

The energy has been high on Tyler Gerant’s congressional democratic primary campaign for weeks now. He’s out raised his other primary contenders – including the former head of the Montana Democratic Party – in the last two FEC filings. His strong position on clean energy and green jobs – along with his consistent position on coal – have garnered the attention of the Montana Conservation Voters.

Gernant speaks to Montanans and the everyday challenges we face. In a strongly increasing corporatized America, Gernant dares to talk about rewarding work, not wealth:

“Somewhere along the line, we forgot the American dream – that anyone who is willing to work hard and play by the rules should have the opportunity to reach the top.”

That can be achieved, Gernant said, through reforming the tax code to “reward work instead of rewarding wealth” and promoting rural energy production like wind and solar power.

In the last few days, two notable letters to the editor have appeared in newspapers around the state. Sheila Mansfield Miller, speaking for her family, tells Montanans that Gernant has many of her “Uncle Mike’s” (the late statesman Senator Mike Mansfield) characteristics, saying that he is “principled, intelligent, and actually listens to others more then he talks.”

Not bad characteristics, huh?

Missoula Mayor John Engen endorsed Gernant on Friday, calling Tyler “an extremely gifted leader.”

I admire his quick wit, his intelligence and his commitment to the people of Montana. His hard work on the campaign trail, which has included multiple stops in communities throughout the state, and his well-thought-out policies on job creation, new energy and deficit reduction make him the stand-out choice in a talented field of candidates.

Montanans need a leader who will listen and represent – someone who will work for policies that lead to high paying sustainable clean energy jobs for Montanans. Gernant knows that Montana is positioned to be a leader in new energy, and he has taken the time to explore the possibilities of combining both new energy with the jobs that can be created here in Montana. Here’s Gernant in Bozeman, where Independent Power Systems employs 40 people working on solar energy panels:

Gernant is the next Representative that not only Democrats need, but that Montanans need. Someone who understands what it’s like to be the underdog – someone who will fight for hard-working Montanans by ensuring that policies regarding energy, jobs and taxes benefit us here at home.

Tyler Gernant will bring in home in November. Help get him there by voting Tyler Gernant this Tuesday.

by jhwygirl

Just try and tell me it doesn’t exist…or that it’s nothing to worry about.

WE have a problem and it’s time WE face up to it. It isn’t a top-down punishment-oriented solution. It’s a bottoms-up education-oriented solution too.

Otherwise, all we’re doing is pushing the costs on the taxpayers in law enforcement and jailing.

Education is far less expensive. Time’s a wastin’, legislators – get after it, OK?

by jhwygirl

Journalist extraordinaire Jodi Rave – who covers Native issues and the issues that affect Native peoples not just here in Montana, but worldwide – announced her new blog Buffalo’s Fire a few weeks back, kicked off for me with a post announcing that one of the most amazing social activists evah, Winona LaDuke, was coming to Montana to speak about environmental justice and to participate in a two-day event that would also bring the Indigo Girls.

The first day of the two-day event is tonight with a buffalo feast that will honor Elouise Cobell for her work towards seeking a settlement in the long and hard fought Cobell v. Salazar lawsuit.

Saturday presents an extraordinary opportunity for Montanans to hear Winona LaDuke moderate a panel that includes an amazing set of speakers Eriel Deranger from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations of Canada, speaking on the impacts of tar sands oil development; Gail Small of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation will talk about her community’s ongoing struggle to stop coal development; Francis Auld, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes cultural preservation officer will address sacred sites; Rich Janssen, acting director of the CSKT Natural Resource Department will address environmental concerns of the Flathead Reservation.

Yes – this all ties in with the Exxon/Imperial Oil/MDOT/Schweitzer plan to transport Korean built oversized loads up along the historic and scenic Lochsa River, down along Lolo Creek, through Missoula and on up adjacent to the historic and scenic Blackfoot River. From there it’ll be over Rodger Pass (yep, they’re doing this in winter, folks), and on up through Great Falls to Canada’s tar sands.

It’s “jobs, jobs, jobs,” as Governor Brian Schweitzer put it – but what it really is is jobs for N. Koreans and Canadians…and one-time only highway flag-waving jobs for Montanans. Yipee!!

I saw Winona LaDuke once. She left me breathless with her impact as a speaker. I was moved for days. Still am when I think about it.

Winona and the panel discussion begins tomorrow at 1:30 in Pablo at Johnny Arlee/Victor Charlo Theatre at the Salish Kootenai College. Click on that link above for more information.

The Kearl Transport Exxon/Imperial Oil modules have many ramifications. Widening of roads for turnouts – roads that are adjacent to important fisheries like the Lochsa, Lolo Creek and the Blackfoot River. Widenings that will increase turbidity discharge into these important waters. Travel of these oversized loads represent jobs lost to Americans and Canadians – and support of N. Korea. North Korea.

Those tar sands? It’s some of the filthiest stuff and the nastiest process on earth. Massive large-scale destruction of boreal forests to scoop up the stuff for processing. It ruins watersheds, and it destroys water tables. The Athabasca Chipewyan native peoples suffer from the air poisoned by its toxins, and die from the rare cancers it has brought to the region.

Then there’s the larger scale impact of the use and reliance on oil.

Here are a couple links to the health issues that processing these tar sands brings:
An Interview with Mike Mercredi, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations
Pollution flows downstream
Why is Cancer Sweeping Tiny Fort Chipewyan?

by jhwygirl

I ruminated in a comment or two around here on how Rehberg really failed to engage in the primary. I had heard nothing of any forums – while I know that county Democratic organizations around the state held forums for their congressional candidates. It’s hard for any candidate that doesn’t really get the opportunity to engage, side-by-side, with their competitors. But hey – that’s Rehberg arrogance. Besides that, I know that Pogo Possum expressed an interest in hearing more from A.J. Otjen….so here you are folks. Information is power.

From A.J. Otjen:

In January, Denny promised me that we would have a Republican Primary Debate. It is now less than a week before the election and his schedule as never let that happen. It is just never in the best interest of the incumbent to debate. I have met him in public and have asked him specific questions and every time he says…”we are not going to debate now”. So when? Tell us why you are now fighting for a balanced budget without getting specific about spending cuts and where to find revenues. Tell us why you have sponsored hundred of bills and sent out thousands of press releases that go absolutely no where. Tell us why you vote against a stimulus package and then beg for the money to fund projects in Montana.

I am on the road doing my last tour of Montana before the election and do meet Mark French in public forums. He does have a following like a preacher has sheep. After one of his tirades, one of his followers even said as I stood up…”good luck following that”. Through out these events, it is always clear that he has no handle on facts. He is all fire. (The conservative conference in Missoula helped him raise money in one day) I call him the dramatic candidate and myself the practical candidate, undaunted by his brimstone. I am undaunted by his misrepresentation of me saying ‘Ms. Otjen who hates the constitution.’ I say, for have to call me Dr. Otjen. Almost every male in my family has been in combat defending the constitution.

I have enjoyed most of all going into the French and Rehberg areas and turning folks around. It works mainly with small groups. When people have time to listen. When people do not get caught up with emotion and loyalties, the facts always win. There is so much hope for where we can go with politics if we treat it like an elephant that we eat one bite at a time. Even the TEA party. If they were truly just about Taxes Enough Already, maybe they would be OK. When we hold them to that….they calm down. I asked them if they were about any thing else…and they refused to say. I confronted them with their misrepresentation of me..and a few have been embarrassed. I confronted the College Republicans with their own embarrassing but humorous recruitment video and called them Fox Mimics who needed different students in their ranks.

But we could have one tremendous bite right now with this election. We could change so much about Montana oplitics with the GOP primary turning out reasonable Republicans going forward to the general. It is states with open primaries like ours that will lead the nation back to having two equal and reasonable parties. Instead we have one in power at a time, which always leads to absolute power corrupting absolutely. Extremists on either side can not keep controlling our agendas. The issues facing us right now will change the way we live just 30 years from now. Knowing that, and seeing how the future could be devastating or fantastic, is why I decided to run.

Trust that whichever Democrat wins will be fine. The real choice is in the GOP primary. Here is the my TV Commercial:

ed. note: I like how she begins that “I’m not running against Denny Rehberg, I’m running for a balanced budget.”

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