Archive for July, 2010

by JC

Problembear’s post the other day about letting the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire has sparked a lively debate between Big Swede and Mr. Benson, and pb and I. The governing philosophy on their side it seems, is this notion that the more money the rich have, the more jobs they will create. Here’s Big Swede:

“Will raising taxes on the wealthy increase jobs?”

This is nothing more than regurgitated reaganism and its trickle-down, supply-side economic theory. BS and Mr. Benson seem to be wishing for a return to the days of a “shining city upon a hill.”

I see this as nothing more than wishing for a new era of neo-fuedalism where the success of the country is dependent upon the most wealthy individuals. And because we are dependent upon them, we must give them whatever they ask for, because the consequences of not doing so are dire: Who will create the jobs? Who will buy the luxury items that drive economic growth and technological advance…

The inequity in wealth between the rich and the poor has returned to early Depression-era levels. Congress is awash in crony capitalism, and the Obama administration is mired in corporatism. Corporations have been given first amendment rights by the Supreme Court. Wall Street dictates financial policy. The health insurance industry controls access to, and provision of health care. Energy companies must never be held accountable for fear we’ll have another return to a Carter-era energy shortage.

And we’re being asked by conservatives to preserve the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, because, well, because who else is going to create jobs?

This is nothing more than sheer economic blackmail. It is more than looking back for guidance from Reagan, it is looking to the dark ages and a return to the comfort of the lord in his castle on the hill, surrounded by his serfs who will do his bidding in return for a small scrap of land to sleep on, and enough of a share in the crops in order to not starve.

This drive to let the rich and powerful run free among us, dictating policy and our economic future paints an ugly picture of the state of our union. For when the wind blows foul from the past, it is time for those who value true freedom and independence to declare that enough is enough.

This debate is not about taxes, as the tea baggers would have us believe. But they are just tools of the rich and powerful used to create a smokescreen behind which the lords can solidify their grip on our nation.

As Gharrett Johnson wrote in “Slouching Towards Neofeudalism”:

“Neofeudalism isn’t just about the powerful taking over everything. It’s about conditioning the poor to accept their designated role in society, even fighting to defend the ability of the wealthy to exploit them. It requires working people to do things that are against their own interests, and nowhere is this more true than in our current economic system.”

This is about the future of our country, and what it will become. This isn’t about politics. It transcends the two party system. It is about whether or not the masses are willing to become subservient to money and power. It is class warfare.

by problembear

the wealthy shouldn’t just be taxed more. we should demand our money back.

warren buffet agrees the demise of the bush tax cuts will be a good thing for america.

for those of us who make less than $200,000.00 per year, there is little to worry about according to this wall street journal article.

excerpt from WSJ article above: “Raising taxes on the middle class seems unlikely in the near future. President Obama says he wants to renew the tax cuts for all those making less than $200,000 to $250,000 a year. Republicans, and some Democrats, want to renew them across the board.”

this issue promises to be a real showdown this fall when congress returns from summer recess.

by problembear

i thought i had met the vilest form of evil in payday lenders until i heard about these grave robbers who boldly pick the gold fillings out of the teeth of our fallen soldier’s greiving families.

when the hell are the people of this once-proud and decent country going to start demanding some integrity from greedy renegade corporations.

and this is completely inexcusable and dishonorable treatment of our fallen.

decency demands that the effin’ perpetrators of both of these crimes is held accountable.

one grieving mother of a fallen soldier says:

“I’m shocked,” says Lohman, breaking into tears as she learns how the Alliance Account works. “It’s a betrayal. It saddens me as an American that a company would stoop so low as to make a profit on the death of a soldier. Is there anything lower than that?”


John Callahan

by problembear

like Gahan Wilson and Gary Larson, John Callahan was a cartoonist of the dark side of life. he depicted what people think but never utter in polite society. i like that in any artist. so long John. it’s been good to know you.

many people, when confronted with John’s dark humor for the first time were offended, until they met him in person. John did not shy away from anything. John’s courage and bold independence as he cruised the streets of Portland are legendary.

by problembear

from this website:

On July 26th through July 28th Summit, the Statewide Independent Living Council, and Montana’s Centers for20th Anniversary ADA 2010 - Americans with Disabilities ActIndependent Living will be holding the 2010 Statewide Independent Living Symposium and Youth Symposium at the Hilton Garden Inn in Missoula.

In commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, there will also be two celebrations where we will reflect on where we’ve been, celebrate how far we’ve come, and reaffirm our commitment to move forward in our work towards ensuring that all Americans, including people with disabilities, have full access to their rights of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” through full participation and equal opportunities in all areas of life.

For more information about these exciting events, including information about participating, please visit the 2010 Statewide Independent Living Symposium page, or, if you are interested in becoming a sponsor or setting up a vendor booth, please visit our sponsorship/vendor information page.


Continuing on with our annual discussion about the conflict downtown–spurred on by City Councilor Bob Jaffe’s remarks on his listserve– between shoppers, tourists, visitors and businesses vs. the homeless, transient, “serial inebriates” and the mentally ill, today’s Missoulian digs a little deeper into the details (thanks liz for your attention to this issue, and pointing out the article!):

“When Michael Van Riper was ordered to spend three nights behind bars after screaming obscenities and threatening the owner of Worden’s Market, Tim France figured he’d get a couple days of relief from the persistent menace outside his shop.

“He’s very loud, thoroughly obnoxious and obscene beyond what’s tolerable – and what’s legal, for that matter,” France said.

But hours after Municipal Judge Marie Andersen heard Van Riper plead guilty and sentenced him, the Detention Center cut him loose. The reasons aren’t clear, and the incident has the judge wondering how often the jail ships out inmates of its own accord.

“I am not aware of any legal authority by which the jail may unilaterally release Defendants prior to the completion of a valid sentence,” wrote Andersen in an e-mail about the incident.”

So it seems that Sheriff McMeekin has taken to interpreting Judges’ detention orders according to his own criteria, which seems a little… arbitrary:

“Missoula County Sheriff Mike McMeekin said the department doesn’t keep statistics on the times and reasons it chooses to let people out before they have served their sentences. The reasons vary, but McMeekin said detention officers can, in some cases, override a sentence without consulting the judge.”

While I’m all about protecting the civil rights of individuals who choose to inhabit or visit downtown Missoula, I also understand the need to have a system of accountability that works as intended for those who break laws, of which the justice system plays a major role. Sheriff McMeekin’s taking on the role of Judge just isn’t going to cut it here.

So it’s obvious that the county jail isn’t doing, and doesn’t have the resources to deal with, Missoula’s problems with the disenfranchised. They don’t want to hold people whose medical expenses they may incur. They don’t want a repeat of the Heather Wasson story, where if she had been diverted to a medical facility for treatment, she wouldn’t have died in lockup.

Missoula needs to sit down and figure out a new way to deal with the problem before it: increasing numbers of homeless, transient and mentally ill people in the face of diminishing resources available to care for and treat their needs. Last year’s panhandling ordinance working group had these words about their work:

“The working group aims to protect and improve quality of life in downtown Missoula for all people who use the area, including business owners, people who live and work downtown, shoppers and patrons of professional offices, and people who are without means and depend on social services,” said city communications director Ginny Merriam.”

Judging by the story in today’s Missoula, those efforts have failed miserably, and they need to get back to the drawing board–maybe with a different mission in mind.

In the words of Municipal Judge Marie Andersen: “we need to find a different solution.”

Get to work, Missoula.

by problembear

but elouise has not given up on passage yet. details here…

by problembear

most montanans do not care what goes on in their neighbors bedrooms, but a tiny minorityof conservative religious zealots and busy bodies have held up this right far too long for a minority that deserves equal protection under the laws of our state. enough with the stupidity!  it is time we turn our backs on the dark ages and join modern society in granting everyone equal rights regardless of race, gender, and sexual orientation.

jay covers this well in his post at left in the west….


Seems that Missoula Councilor Bob Jaffe let loose his true feelings in a post to his listserve yesterday. I guess it’s time for our annual bash the homeless prattle from town hall, now that Missoula is at it’s seasonal height for transient migration, coupled with a burgeoning local homeless population including far too many Missoula families.

So I thought I’d poke my nose in Jaffe’s business and bring to light what he really thinks about Missoula’s less fortunate. Here’s the relevant part of his post for your reading [dis]pleasure. Feel free to leave your comments about homelessness in Missoula, and the way our public servants think and talk about it:

“Next we had a presentation in Public Safety regarding our new full time downtown officer. Her name is Nicole Pifari and she has decided to leave the police force to go to law school. The plan is that she will continue to work for the force during the summers while she is in school. She has been at it for about six weeks now and the response from downtown business owners and patrons has been extremely positive. Assigning an officer to this beat full time creates continuity. She sees the same folks over and over and gets to know what’s going on.

The presentation was from Assistant Chief Brady and BID director Rod Austin. I wanted to hear what Officer Pifari had to say so I asked her up to come up and answer some questions. She had a few comments that I thought were important. She clarified that the work was primarily about dealing with the homeless population. She was clear that her job is not about solving homelessness or vagrancy. It is about keeping it out of downtown. She lets the folks know they need to find a more socially acceptable place to throw up and piss themselves. She knows that Missoula is a very friendly and empathetic place. Her job is to make it a little less friendly and comfortable for the least among us.

I had the impression she was fully aware of the unfortunate and tragic nature of this assignment. We have a very friendly and accepting community and a population of destitute people who survive by manipulating and taking advantage of this kindness. There is a critical mass or threshold that gets crossed and then the community starts to feel victimized. Our response is to dial down the love these folks feel when they come to Missoula. This is Nicole’s job.

On the up side, she provides the rest of us with a sense of security, safety and order. In general, the odds that a shopper will suffer any actual harm from a homeless person is incredibly small. But the perception of danger is real. An officer in uniform creates a perception of safety. Folks love it. Her presence is a huge benefit to the health and future of our downtown. I got the feeling that she had the perfect disposition to serve the community in this role. Hopefully the plans to retain her during the summers will pan out.

Jon Wilkins also pointed out that we can’t just arrest these folks because our judge just lets them go free. He wants to see them go to jail and be given an orange jump suit and be put to work picking up trash along the highway. I’m actually intrigued by the idea of instituting a chain gang in Missoula. Nothing wrong with a little community service and clearly these folks aren’t concerned with being humiliated in public. We would need to find a big tobacco chewing officer with a shotgun to oversee the crew to get the full effect. I think the word would get out pretty quick that maybe Missoula isn’t the best place to be sprawled out on the sidewalk. There is a major issue with funding and liability. One of the reasons we don’t put transients in jail is they have all sorts of medical problems that become our responsibility once they are incarcerated. I can’t imagine what would happen if we actually made them perform physical labor. If we could come up with a funding mechanism I would be curious if we could try this. I’m wondering if anyone north of Texas has attempted it and whether folks would be horrified or happy the trash was being picked up.”

P.S., hat tip to Duganz and lizard for bringing this topic up today on another blog post

by problembear

this graph came with david sirota’s post today. make of it what you will.

by problembear

i have been thinking lately that voting for republicans or democrats is simply not enough to save this country anymore. we need to get back to the basics again. corporate money and lobbies dominate our elected representatives so much these days that electing one over the other doesn’t make much difference. once they take office, they ignore us and pander to the wealthy elite, the special interests and the corporate lobbyists who provide them with the money to keep winning future campaigns. there are not enough real statesmen and women in congress anymore to make even a dent in the juggernaut of corporate takeover of this country’s politics.

but we do have a weapon to defeat the corporate lobbies in the state of montana and at least save this state from the quicksand of pay-to-play crony capitalistic politics which has consumed washington dc.

i think if we pass enough good citizens initiatives in montana we could solve many of our own problems without even darkening the doorway of corrupt politicians or their bribing special interests and corporate lobbyists.

they don’t want anything to do with the people who work for a living anyway. what do we have to offer them besides our one stinking vote on one day every 2 or 4 or 6 years. the rest of the year, they ignore us anyway. so let’s get creative shall we?

how about some citizen initiative brainstorming? i will start if off with a few of my favorite pet projects and leave it to the commenters to add some of your own.

  • a montana citizens initiative to provide a public health option for everyone regardless of income. the base to fund it would be a 2% state tax on income. affordable co-pays would be based on a sliding scale also according to income.
  • corporate subsidies of any kind would be illegal in the state of montana.

i am not a lawyer and it is a long way off to 2012 so i fully expect to hear all the reasons these citizens initiatives would not work by commenters. bring it on.  i don’t care who you vote for president or congress or senate. i don’t care what party you are from. i am willing to listen and learn.

by problembear

montana’s secretary of state linda mcculloch has just sent out an announcement that I-164,  the citizens initiative to cap the rate of payday lenders has achieved enough signatures to be on the ballot this november.

now the real work begins

by problembear

i come into contact with lots of people of all political persuasions- some are independent like me, some republicans, some democrats…..

they all ask the same question when it is time to vote- invariably for either a democrat or a republican…

what’s the difference?

it seems like all politicians are beholden to those who support their campaigns and to those who donate to their political re-election war chests. it is confusing to most people and it makes them angry to be taken for granted by either party. so who is listening to the needs of the people who elect them?

Health Care Reform:

the people want affordable health care with choices. democrats gave them more of the same old thing only worse- under a weak reform written by health insurers, the health insurers are raising rates and decreasing our choices.  republicans would have trusted the health insurers to do everything right with no regulation. so what’s the difference?

we still end up with health insurance premiums spiralling out of control and we still have health insurers between us and our doctors.

so, to the american people gathered around their dining room table trying to balance a budget for the month both parties get an F-


bush presided over this country when the economy crashed, so it has to be his fault for driving us into the ditch but obama and a democrat majority congress seem to have kept most of the rich people and their banks solvent but very little help is trickling down to help beleaguered workers and their families.  both parties get a D-


bush started a needless war in iraq and a senseless one in afghanistan. democrats told us that if we elected them, we would bring our troops home and stop hemorrhaging money in two countries that don’t seem to want anything to do with democracy or us. republicans get an F- for involving us in the first place. democrats get an F- for failing to make good on a promise to get us out of there.


the stimulus plan was too small to get the job done. republicans who seem bent on keeping our country in a depression so they can unseat obama in 2012 have been intransigent when it comes to spending enough to get unemployment down. democrats have been less than brave in their opposition to this intransigence because they fear the far right’s increasingly effective propoganda about the deficit. while feigning a sincere desire to stop deficit spending (something they failed to do under 8 years of bush) it is apparent that republicans are cynically turning up the volume in order to stop progress in creating jobs, to further their political agenda. democrats get an F- for looking like cowards. republicans get an F- for callously manipulating the suffering of workers in order to regain power.

so what is the difference for me? i see in the far right a dangerous fascist malevolence which threatens the very freedoms that we espouse as a people. i see a greedy mean-spiritedness that appalls me. i see hatred and racism. i see a conservative movement that wants to set women’s rights back a hundred years. i see  conservatives defending torture. i see the far right telling us that payday lenders are mere businesses instead of loan sharks. i see conservatives saying that people who cannot afford decent health care should die because they did not plan ahead. i see mean-spirited wing nuts saying that people who are unemployed like it.

that is why i continue to fight the good fight. many republicans as well as democrats are as appalled as i am by the far right. it is a hateful movement which has no business in the halls of a decent government. i intend to keep them out by whatever means i can muster. as disappointed as i am by the democratic failures, i do not see a similar evil smell emanating from the far left. rather, i see a lot of insider wonks and policy makers insulated from the real needs of people acting arrogantly and fearfully in timidly facing the far right.

i hope to provide an occasional alka seltzer here for those of you who, like me, are bored to death and getting sour stomachs watching democrats cave every time a right winger barks. it is time to demand some spine from our elected representatives and our candidates. it is time to stand up to the right wing intimidation with courageous stands rather than mealy-mouthed policy drivel.

we want our leaders to show us the difference.

by problembear

this is recommended reading for anyone tired of the audacity of rep. rehberg’s lawsuit against the city of Billings, MT. his own home town….ferkrisakes!

below is an excerpt of the above linked article:

“The fire report states that the fire rekindled after a lightning strike, but Rehberg’s lawsuit alleges that firefighters abandoned the fire on July 3, allowing it to restart on July 4. While avoiding specifics because of the pending lawsuit, Fire Chief Paul Dextras said his department sticks to its priorities in each fire it fights and did so in the Rehberg fire, too. “The priority that we have is protecting life. Protecting property is second, protecting open space is third,” Dextras said recently. “That’s where most of the resources were allocated when fighting that fire. Crews did an outstanding job of being prepared if the fire were to go into the developed area.” Cliff Edwards, the attorney representing the Rehbergs, said the Rehbergs have the facts on their side, even if city officials choose to fight things out in the media. “I’m tired of this being played out in the newspaper. We filed a suit because they forced us to file a suit,” Edwards said. “We’re paying for this fire chief and city administrator to make all of these outrageous statements. It ain’t gonna be tried in the newspaper. They’re going to face under-oath depositions. We have the facts behind us. “They trash their own firefighters and they lose millions of dollars. They trash their own police officers and they lose millions of dollars. We’re going to prove our case; that’s our obligation. I’m tired of this fire chief and this city administrator going to the press and spewing their stuff. Just take a look at their history with litigation in the past few years.”

i am sure that rehberg’s lawyer is tired of this being reported in the press. he would prefer that it be carried out behind closed doors. just one thing denny should keep in mind though while he is twisting slowly in the wind over a barbecue of his own making….

it was your decision to sue your own hometown. so deal with it.

by problembear

many are troubled by the slow progress of change. many listen to the yammering of the few and lose heart…..

the future is progressive by definition. take heart and do not become disconsolate over transitory and minor setbacks.

this too shall pass.

we are water. they are stone.

have a good weekend, montana.

by Pete Talbot

I wish this organization all the luck. It’s going to need it.

Montanans Against Gun Violence is going public. Here’s an excerpt from guest columns that are appearing in newspapers around the state:

Annually some 30,000 Americans die from all forms of gun violence—from homicides, suicides, or accidental deaths. In Montana, domestic violence, alcohol-related violence, suicides, and accidental deaths–especially of minors, lead the list of causes.

Respected Missoula progressive Robert McKelvey heads this group, but this is not radical gun control he’s advocating. Using the recent SCOTUS Second Amendment decisions as a springboard, the column quotes (surprise) Justice Scalia:

“the right to keep and bear arms is not ‘a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever and for whatsoever purpose’.”

Scalia then proceeded to list a wide range of local or state gun-ownership and gun-carry regulatory measures that remain lawful and appropriate.

Gun rights are the most controversial issue in Montana, to my way of thinking. And considering that Montana’s three members of Congress are leading the charge to expand access to guns and ammo — particularly our two senators, although our congressman is no piker — this is an extremely tough row to hoe.

Let’s face it, Gary (Bazookas for Babies) Marbut and his Montana Shooting Sports Association is one of the more successful lobbyists at our state legislature. Legislators roll over like trained poodles when Gary introduces a bill.

Then take a look at the comments when the Missoulian ran the column, with one-out-of-twenty in support of McKelvey’s organization. This from Missoula, although it also includes comments from the Bitterroot, Sanders County and other outlying areas. Enough said.

We’ll see if Montanans Against Gun Violence gets any traction in this state. It’s up against a rabid constituency. Again, good luck.

by jhwygirl


by jhwygirl

Immigration is all the rage on morning talk shows, which I didn’t miss (thankfully) this week because the marathoners (God Bless ’em) have been running on by since somewhere around 6:45 this morning.

Aside from what I think is completely misdirected energy by anyone wanting every illegal immigrant rounded up and deported…I’m wonder why these so-called reformers (rounding up and deporting everyone isn’t reform) are making this Obama’s issue – and why Obama is kowtowing to it.

Maybe we should have gotten better health care reform. Maybe we should be getting better finance reform.

Just off the top of my head, you know?

I hit this a little in this weekend’s open thread, and I think that the Take Our Jobs campaign from the UFW is ingenious.

How many real jobs are immigrants taking from Americans? Jobs that Americans want? Jobs that Americans can actually do? I mean – how much do you want to pay for a head of lettuce? $5? $7? How would that work for everyone?

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away the federal government swooped into a little tourist town that garners an estimated 75,000 people a day stopping on by – sleeping, eating, drinking and doing the general thing that tourists do when they are on vacation. And the federal government rounded up all the undocumented workers (the dishwashers, the prep cooks, the housekeepers, the sanitation personnel). They separated families, leaving children without parents – in some cases, both – in other cases a father or a mother.

In this galaxy there were plenty of jobs to go around – and the while the undocumented workers were happy to be doing the general grunt work cleaning up of these 75,000 tourists each day (along with the 6,000 or so residents who were well paid for the better jobs such as line cooks, clerks, maintenance and general administration for the USFS, and the state and local government jobs), this round up by the federal government put the economy is a real lurch.

It left hotel owners with no one to clean rooms – see, the owners and the Americans had the cushy jobs of supervising these undocumented workers. It left the restaurateurs with no one to wash the dishes or mop up the restaurant.

What happen to the tourists? Their $175-a-night rooms weren’t ready even at 8:00 at night. It took hours during peak dining times to get food because pots and pans and plates and silverware weren’t getting cleaned fast enough. Owners and their legal employees had to work all through the night to get half-assed work done.

What else did they do? What else could they do – they put out a call for other galaxy residents to take on second and third jobs. They had to get through tourist season, after all. It’s when their money is made.

What did this American do? I helped. At a cost, of course – I mean, who in the hell wants to work two jobs when my first job was paying me plenty and I lived in such a galaxy that was attractive enough for 75,000 tourists a day to stop by? I wanted to enjoy that too – but I was sympathetic to the pains of my fellow galaxy residents….and I did what other Americans were doing. I gave up some of my precious time off in this attractive oasis and went to work. For a price.

What was I worth, with the owners in such a lurch? In the hotels I was worth $60 an hour. Cash, because they didn’t have the time to document my work. In many ways it was worth it to just walk in the door whenever I wanted (if I wanted) and work for however long I wanted and have them gratefully pay me that kind of money. Three hours and I had $180 in my pocket but I couldn’t head to the Cowboy Bar to spend it because they didn’t have enough staff and service sucked?

Moral: Profit went down for those owners. Americans don’t work cheap. Tourists will only pay so much for a hotel room, and they’ll only pay so much for a meal. When service sucks, tourists tip less. Waiters, waitresses and everyone who shared in these tips made less, but had to work more. Americans don’t like to work back-breaking jobs and they don’t like to work a second or a third like a lot of those undocumented immigrants were more than happy to do. If they do do those back-breaking kind of jobs, they want a lot of money.

The Obama Administration is now having the Immigration and Customs Service “sweep” companies that hire undocumented workers and having them all fired. They aren’t being deported, and this has the so-called reformers mad.

George Bush Jr. could have done this. He didn’t. He also could have done this and deported them. He didn’t.

Yet Obama is evil because he’s not doing anything about illegal immigration.

Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer is lying – yep, I’m using the L word – and the WaPo’s is justifiably calling her out on it. Crime is down in Arizona, and there are more border guards then ever before.

When people talk about “wedge issues” this is one if I ever saw one. Sen. Tester periodically puts out a whine for more border guards to protect our northern border – much of which is just vast waterless grass and badland coulee rutted landscape – just to keep himself on the Montana conservative credibility range.

So now Obama isn’t doing anything. Or enough. With the whole budget deficit and everyone so concerned with the mounting deficit, now the “reformers’ want to whine about not busing all these illegal immigrants across the border?

Undocumented workers aren’t taking our jobs. They are, though, costing Americans a lot of money – in increased border patrols, forensic accounting of farms to find ’em, and soon – if these “reformers” don’t shut up – buses back to Mexico or Canada or wherever they came from.

Oh – and $7 lettuce.

by jhwygirl

Yeah, yeah – some of this stuff was just too good to pass up, and not enough to blog about….and yes – Please consider this an open thread.

Dave Crisp unearthed over 52,000 ancient Roman coins, worth an estimated $1 million.

Famously dead Door’s singer Jim Morrison is haunting a bathroom in Santa Monica, located in a Mexican restaurant that used to the the band’s studio. “You feel it here almost every day, throughout the entire place, but especially near this spot,” says the manager – the “spot” being a unisex bathroom.

DEQ puts out a great monthly newsletter. It might even be twice a month – but it’s always filled with great information. There are regular webinars that could be of interest to any number of small or large businesses or even state/county or city administrations. In the latest issue is some interesting news on chicken feed and arsenic – and another link to a story pondering whether the U.S. meat market will be controlled by just 3 companies. You can subscribe to the newsletters by hitting that link.

Another one of interest in that newsletter that shouldn’t be missed by those advocating for crackdown on illegal immigration is Take Our Jobs. The United Farm Workers have formed the website looking for legal Americans who want to take jobs away from illegal immigrants. They’ll even help with training.

A recent Harper’s Index (which they don’t appear to put online) put the cost of rounding up, processing and sending all illegal immigrants home at an estimated $72,000,000,000,000,000,000.

Yeah, I double checked those zeros

A couple of things that I think history will look back on and see as the harbingers of the downfall of world civilization?

The first shopping mall

Feel free to add to that list.

The Congressional Budget Office has recently costed the cap-and-trade climate bill. It has Lieberman smiling, which is usually a scary thing for someone like me. The numbers were pleasantly surprising. I will say that America needs to not let this opportunity for new industry pass. Shipping solar panels here from China, and wind turbines from Holland should be an affront to American ingenuity. We can’t be a nation of Burger King and Walmart jobs.

Just one more, in closing. It’s just a pic:


In case you missed the short story over at the Indy, OPG staff and city attorney Jim Nugent have established a new zoning policy that restricts the establishment of medical marijuana businesses within a 1000 ft buffer of any schools. As stated in the article, the move is based on Montana State law 45-9-109. That statute makes the distribution of dangerous drugs within 1000 ft of a school a felony offense. The above map is the restricted areas around Missoula schools – I must say I find this map fairly amusing since OPG staff didn’t even feel the need to add a legend or explanation of the data being mapped, they felt it was sufficient to just place a giant marijuana leaf on the map and call it good.

Anyway… for your reading pleasure here is Mntana Code Annotated;

(1) A person commits the offense of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs on or near school property if the person violates 45-9-101 in, on, or within 1,000 feet of the real property comprising a public or private elementary or secondary school.
(2) Except as provided in 46-18-222, a person convicted of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs on or near school property:
(a) shall be imprisoned in the state prison for a term of not less than 3 years or more than life; and
(b) may be fined an amount of not more than $50,000.
(3) It is not a defense to prosecution under subsection (1) that the person did not know the distance involved.
(4) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution for a violation of this section that:
(a) the prohibited conduct took place entirely within a private residence; and
(b) no person 17 years of age or younger was present in the private residence at any time during the commission of the offense.

I understand the need to refine and better regulate an industry that has become ever more chaotic since it’s rapid growth started only a few years ago. But to me the application of a criminal statute to regulate zoning of a legal business is not the right measure to be taken, nor is it anywhere near a permanent fix to what many people see as an increasingly important problem that needs to be tackled. I wonder if such thinking would apply to the establishment of a pharmacy within 1000 ft of a school since a pharmacy distributes equally “dangerous” drugs if not used in a responsible manner?

The manner in which Missoula is beginning to regulate our burgeoning new industry is also of concern. While many other cities and counties are openly discussing what should be done about the medical marijuana business in their own communities within city council chambers and in local news paper op-ed sections there has been little open discussion in a public setting in Missoula. (please correct me if anyone knows if this has come up in any committee meetings). Maybe it’s just not a big deal here in Missoula that needs urgent action. We are after all fairly used to the marijuana business here – legal or otherwise – unlike more conservative Montana towns that see the marijuana as an unacceptable public nuisance even for legitimate medical purposes.

by jhwygirl

Via The Clark Fork Chronicle comes news that Montana’s lone congressional representative Dennis Rehberg is in Montana holding seven listening sessions around the state.

His last stop is Missoula – tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the Continuing Education Center over at the University of Montana.

With so much going, I’m sure Montanans have a lot on their minds that Rehberg needs to listen too.

Me? He’s all over the deficit, but I’m wondering where he’s been for the last 10 years? Sleeping on a couch?

What about the state GOP’s platform which seems to have a problem with both the U.S. Constitution and the Montana Constitution? That sounds pretty unpatriotic to me…

Has he changed his position on tort reform? I’m thinking he might have….but maybe someone should ask.

How about some real regulation of the oil industry? Does he support some changes there? How’s about making them responsible for the clean-up and the jobs lost?

Just a few of the things off the top of my head.

So beat the heat – head on over to the U. (plenty of parking AND there’s a convenient bus stop less than 100 feet from the front door) and let Rehberg know what is on your mind.

by jhwygirl

On behalf of all b’birders, I want to thank everyone that took the time to vote 4&20 blackbirds Best Local Blog in the Missoula Independent’s 16th annual Best of Missoula.

Left in the West got the silver, with NewWest bringing in the bronze. That’s some pretty impressive company.

Speaking for me, at least, I have to give a HUGE thanks to both Matt Singer and Jay Stevens. Without them laying the tracks, I don’t know that I’d be blogging. It was Matt who gave me my first ‘kick in the ass’, and without Jay’s continual prodding (and inviting me into his living room), I might of just taken up crocheting instead.

So blame it on them.

As for Pete, problembear, JC and carfreestupidity – all more than deserve the kudos in their own right that The Indy and its readers put out there today.

ALSO RECOGNIZED in The Best of Missoula 2010 issue – and I adore admire and love on each one of these awesome wonderful selfless super-smart people equally are Missoula’s Best Activists Ellie Hill, Jamee Greer and Matt Singer.

IMNSHO, they are the Best Activists In Montana. Just sayin’.

I won’t ruin the rest of it for everyone who hasn’t read it yet – but one more thank you has to go out to the Best Nonprofit Organizations. All of ’em – and problembear put together a wonderful list of those here in Montana and MissoulaThe Poverello Center, the Missoula Food Bank, the Clark Fork Coalition and Animeals were all recognized for their tireless work for Missoula. All deserve that thank you and the recognition.

fanning the flames

by problembear

one billings gazette commenter chimes in with this: “….This leaves an incredibly bitter taste in my mouth that will stick with me through the next election.”


uh oh, it looks like this denny rehberg smolder might just be a full blown 4 alarm fire by this november from the tone of these comments….

BE SURE AND CLICK THE LINK TO THE ABOVE ARTICLE AND READ THE COMMENTS. denny is getting blackened cajun style by billings readers!

i especially liked this one….(Flare-ups happen and can happen several days after fires are thought to be fully contained. I find this lawsuit offensive as a wildland fire fighter b/c there was no loss of dwelling and no one was hurt. so some little out-structure was burned, that happens. In all honesty, residents are responsible for taking precautions that prevent the threat of a wildland fire destroying their property, such as clearing away fuels w/in a hundred yards in all direction from ones house. like I said, I’m upset there’s a suit at all b/c there was no real damage done. Trees and sage can be replanted; burned ground is actually quite fertile for a while.”)

and this comment from the above linked article is pregnant with meaning….

(The nice thing about voting for representatives is the two year term.)

more comments too delicious to pass up….

How does a city go about “un-annexing” a parcel? Unannex Rehberg Ranch and let the homeowners sue Denny until he figures out how to PAY for fire protection. It is interesting that Cliff Edwards is representing Rehberg…keep that in mind the next time Edwards Jet Center wants a special favor from the city.

more excerpts from article in above link

At least one council member jumped into the fray as well.

“Sounds to me like another lawyer looking for a payday,” Councilman Rich McFadden e-mailed other council members on Saturday. “Maybe we need a rule to require Rehberg Ranch LLC to keep the brush cut down.”

and according to this city official….

“I think that the Fire Department did a good job of defending the property,” said Billings City Administrator Tina Volek.

thanks to this blog for the link. (dave doesn’t sound too pleased either….)

by Jay Stevens

Congratulations to the gang here at the b’birds for winning the Missoula Independent‘s readers’ award for best blog of Missoula:

Rabble, rabble, rabble. Missoulians tend to be about the most issue-minded people in Montana, and 4&20 blackbirds serves as the favorite online meeting place to rake environmental injustice, political skullduggery or whatever else is happening over the liberal coals. Various different contributors-including the anonymous “jhwygirl,” “JC” and “problembear,” as well as Pete Talbot-help churn through a myriad of issues each day. The addition this year of local blogger “Carfreestupidity,” who specializes in alternative transportation and urban design, brought yet another take to the site. The best part of 4&20 may be that a post from one of these writers only serves as a starting point for a spirited discussion in the comments section.

Write on!

If any of you posters are down by Caras Park tonight, I believe the Indy has drink tickets for you…

by problembear

@DennyRehberg likes to tell us that denny rehberg is just one of the little people, but with 11 million dollars, denny is quite wealthy compared to his fellow 435 members. he is 27th in Roll Call’s list of 50 of the richest members of congress.

his latest decision to sue the volunteer fire fighters and the city of billings fire department for not saving his tumble weed strewn subdivision in 2008 from a wild fire scorching seems like complete insanity, stupidity and a lot of hypocrisy considering that denny has for many years pushed for tort reform- legislation which would make it much harder for the rest of us little people to seek redress in the court.

denny rehberg’s willingness to take away citizen’s right to sue wealthy  corporations apparently does not mean he is not above doing the same to cash-strapped city budgets in order to benefit his own corporation.

this local billings lady sure seems worked up about the insanity of this latest gargantuan bonehead move by denny.

denny has made the national news too!

by Pete Talbot

In his Fourth of July newsletter salutation, Congressman Denny Rehberg warns us that:

“ … teaching American History and the Constitution has taken a back seat to a politically correct alternative history curriculum.”

Seems to me that American History curriculum is actually headed in the other direction. Texas for example, has rewritten its curriculum. From the New York Times:

… the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.

Texas textbooks will also challenge evolution and minimize the role of important Latino figures in Texas and American history.

So I’m not sure what Denny’s issue is unless it’s his usual goal of stirring up his base with misinformation and fear.

Then he poses one of his lame quizzes that, of course, will lead to nothing except to agitate his supporters even more.

Matt over at LiTW nailed it on Rehberg’s recent quiz on Health care.

Someday Denny will present us with the important issues of the day and suggest some solutions to the real problems that face Montanans. Yeah, right.

(Update: Looks like Pogie over at Intelligent Discontent saw the same newsletter. Here’s his take on it.)

photo courtesy missoula aging services website

by problembear

those of us who are lucky enough to work shoulder to shoulder with volunteers, get to see the real spirit of america in action every day. this is a big thanks to all the organizations and individuals which make it happen every day here in missoula:

thank you to every one for making the promise of america real to those who walk the talk of what it means to be a real american. you don’t need a pistol strapped to your belt to prove anything when you hold out your hand to those in need.

contact these folks if you would like to share in the glow that comes with serving the true spirit of america:

….these are but a small taste of what is locally available here in missoula to donate your time in volunteering to the spirit of america. please leave more links in your comments if you would like to add to this list. and thank you. – pb

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