Archive for September, 2010
Boy – couldn’t have better weather for a fly-fishing competition and evening fundraiser, could you?
Missoula’s very hard-working homeless shelter, The Poverello’s Center will be hosting its 5th annual Double Haul Fly Fishing Fundraiser Saturday, with Kettlehouse Brewing providing adult beverages and Two Sisters of Montana helping out with the food.
Who’s doing the stand-up? Of course, Mayor John Engen…
There’s also Bob Wire – who not only does some mean stand-up, he is multi-talented with both voice and gee-tar.
So don’t miss it people. Even if you don’t do the fly-fishing part, the evening fundraiser starts at 5 p.m. downtown in the Governor’s Ballroom of the Florence Building.
P.S. – Hey Kettlehouse! Fix that webpage!
With such a wide swath of Americans serving in the military, it shouldn’t be surprising our armed forces are comprised of cultural extremes, like killers and poets, serving side by side in extreme chaos and extreme boredom.
The killer aspect of American soldiering has recently sprung up in a creepy kill squad involving at least a dozen soldiers, and led by a sergeant who is suspected of participating in similar activities in Iraq. These soldiers even collected trinkets from their kills, like fingers and bones.
But I wonder if it’s fair to hold these soldiers accountable for their sadistic behavior when the larger war effort regularly blows up women and children along with the militants and terrorists. After all, indiscriminate killing of innocents is indiscriminate killing of innocents (right?).
To contrast that disturbing extreme here’s Brian Turner—an infantry team leader for a year in Iraq with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team—who tries to translate his experience of war into poems. They are not easy poems to read.
16 Iraqi Policemen
The explosion left a hole in the roadbed
large enough to fit a mid-sized car.
It shattered concrete, twisted metal,
busted storefront windows in sheets
and lifted a BMW chassis up onto a rooftop.
The shocking blood of the men
forms an obscene art: a moustache, alone
on a sidewalk, a blistered hand’s gold ring
still shining, while a medic, Doc Lopez,
pauses to catch his breath, to blow it out
hard, so he might cup the left side of a girl’s face
in one hand, gently, before bandaging
the half gone missing.
Allah must wander in the crowd
as I do, dazed by the pure concussion
of the blast, among sirens, voices
of the injured, the boots of running soldiers,
not knowing whom to touch first,
for the dead policemen cannot be found,
here a moment before, then vanished.
While this kill squad is probably an aberration, people need to realize there is an entirely new broken generation of American soldiers ravaged by a decade of (by now obviously unjust) wars, coming home then back then home then back and some of them are time bombs waiting to go off.
Because the true cost of war is incalculable.
the slime devils who are paid to spew lies about payday lending have finally arrived to convince us that citizen’s initiative I-164 to cap the rate on payday lending is unfair to the people who pay them for their lies. let’s give them all a rousing montana welcome.
these asshat social spin doctors for hire sitting in their air-conditioned high rise offices next door to las vegas casino operatives, have descended from their desert gremlin perches to tell us how to vote in montana.
huh uh, paydevils. this here’s montana. we don’t cotton to outsiders tellin’ us what to do. so take your little talking point sheets and roll them up real tight and sit on them and twirl. we in montana intend to abolish bad behavior in lending institutions who target our working poor. we intend to enact this measure with an interest rate cap of 36% that honest working folks can afford to pay back.
next will be the cornball commercials on tv telling us how we are depriving our citizens of the opportunity to stick their heads into the payday noose with each twisting victim paying interest rates of 300% to 650% !
these mercenaries are desperately trying to keep us from voting on citizens initiative I-164 this coming nov 2 because all the polls are showing that montanans favor capping the interest rate for these loans to 36% by huge margins ( in some polls 85% to 15% ) we should not tolerate out of state interests trying to hi-jack montana’s right to vote on this issue. stay tuned on more news of the outcome of this trial in the next few days.
get ready montana for the biggest shovel full of manure you have ever seen. and if you would like some help sorting out the steaming hell manure served up by the slime devils from the truth, these guys can help.
for up to date info follow them on twitter too!
This AP story today about an upcoming Rolling Stone interview with President Barack Obama has left me with lots of questions, and a substantial need to dedicate time to introspection.
On President Obama’s end, he’s mad as hell about perceived apathy on the left. He is tired of progressives being down about what he sees as success––the left being comprised of glass-half-empty types.
“People need to shake off this lethargy. People need to buck up,” Obama told Rolling Stone in an interview to be published Friday. The president told Democrats that making change happen is hard and “if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren’t serious in the first place.”
In President Obama’s view, the more time we spend complaining about what we see as his failures (ones he does not see), the more time we’re not watching Republicans.
But we are watching, and it’s scary as hell when we see people clapping for Christine O’Donnell and Sarah Palin. The Right is gaining power and enthusiasm and will probably take out a good deal of Democrats in the upcoming elections. It’s defeating, and scary, but it’s reality.
So yeah, we are mad because we all worked hard, gave money, and voted in 2008 to change America for the better. And to see that these people are gaining power instead of being left in the dust of their flat Earth ways, it’s desheartening.
However, do not doubt how serious we are about changing America.
We are serious when we say we want equal rights for our gay friends and family members.
We are serious when we say we want an end to perpetual war.
We are serious when we say we want affordable healthcare for all.
We are serious when we say we want change.
It’s been two years, and these wants are not yet met. Our hopes are as of yet unfulfilled.
In the interview Obama says that change is hard, and I cannot agree more. Change is difficult, and hard, and we’re not a society that likes to wait. Of course some are mad, and anger breeds apathy. But those apathetic people don’t need to be admonished publicly for their malaise, they need to be brought back into the fold with actions and not just promises. It would be nice to see President Obama come clean and say that things aren’t moving as steadily as they should with Democratic control, or condemn regressives within the Democratic establishment who are just as damaging as Republicans.
We cannot live on insistence of success, we need to feel the results by seeing our friends married, our families back from war, our sick well, and our world a better place.
I believe I was right to vote for Barack Obama, and maybe this is his attempt at recreating Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” speech (but in a more successful way).
The thing to remember is: I am not your enemy, Mr. President. CarFreeStpdty is not your enemy (seriously… so don’t clandestinely assassinate him). The Left got you into office because we saw you as our chance. Those “HOPE” stickers weren’t passed out with apathy, but with honest hope and desire for change. And we saw it embodied within you.
Don’t blame us for being upset that you’re not holding up your end of the bargain.
… you have to result to finding news from an Australian news site, the World Socialist Web Site, and a Rusian news station – see, Obama can’t be a socialist because the real socialists still left in this world hate him just about as much as they hated G.W.
CIA director Leon Panetta filed a legal brief to stop a lawsuit filed by the ACLU against the federal government challenging its acquired taste for assassinating its own citizens. The administration doesn’t want the lawsuit to go through because… well… it would be embarrassing, potentially damaging leading into the elections, and challenge the extra-legal authorities of the Imperialist Presidency. Already the State Department is attempting to invoke “States Secrets” as a defense against the lawsuit. Arguing that the judicial branch has no authority here and that the Administration can act as judge, jury, and executioner… and assertion perhaps more egregious than almost anything Obama’s predecessor pulled off. Amy Goodman featured the story as the top headline on Monday’s show here.
The story first developed when details became available that an American citizen, Anwar Al-Awlaki, wound up on a CIA hit list for materially supporting terrorism. This got a little play in the MM and a small snippet here by Duganz, but basically it was quickly forgotten by most Americans because we all assume he’s guilty. I mean just look at him, those beady little eyes, his un-American clothing, and a name slow-talking Midwesterners can’t wrap their tongues around. I’m not defending any of his actions, because well, he’s a bearded douche. Just do a Google video search for more videos like this where he openly calls on American Muslims to participate in Jihad against their own country. While his words hold a great deal of inconvinient and sad truth, an examination of his motives would be for another post.
No, the real story is this seemingly final stride we are taking as a nation into the abyss of police statedom, an abyss nations do not come back from. No matter how big of a douche this man is he is still an American citizen, born in America and so entitled to all the rights that any other Amiercan citizen is afforded. And even if his actions and words constitute treason, which they probably do, treasonous people still get trials. But now we have the development that the administration is actively engaging in “targeted killings,” of US citizens overseas, a policy that Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, openly admitted all the way back in February.
“…he was speaking publicly about the issue to reassure Americans that intelligence agencies and the Department of Defense “follow a set of defined policy and legal procedures that are very carefully observed” in the use of lethal force against U.S. citizens.”
“We don’t target people for free speech.”
I feel reassured… don’t you? It’s good to know they have a process for this type of thing, so that some bearded hipster doesn’t get mistaken for an anti-American Muslim cleric.
G.W., with the collusion of Democrats, already effectively killed habeas corpus with the PATRIOT Act way back in 2001 so we’ve had a full nine years to get accustomed to our rights getting violated on a regular basis. Now they have a process so that they don’t kill the wrong American talking about the evils of American policies. At least Bush had the decency to try and give the American people a credible cover-up scandal when his administration violated the Constitution and international law. Now instead of Bush hiding his hubris behind a half-cocked smirk we have the Obama administration upfront stating that they just took a steamer on the Constitution and wiped with the Declaration of Independence. I guess that is Change We Can Believe In©, instead of an administration that spits in our coffee and then mixes it in before being served we now have one that spits directly in our face as we try to order.
Former Reagan Administration Official, Paul Craig Roberts says it better than I can…
Yes, the U.S. government has murdered its citizens, but Dennis Blair’s “defined policy” is a bold new development. The government, of course, denies that it intended to kill the Branch Davidians, Randy Weaver’s wife and child, or the Black Panthers. The government says that Waco was a terrible tragedy, an unintended result brought on by the Branch Davidians themselves. The government says that Ruby Ridge was Randy Weaver’s fault for not appearing in court on a day that had been miscommunicated to him. The Black Panthers, the government says, were dangerous criminals who insisted on a shoot-out.
And again here on Russia Today. Oh how far our press has sunk that a former Reaganite has to go on a Russian news program to openly talk about the injustices our government commits, not to mention that the irony is thick enough to choke on.
Add on top of this last weeks FBI raid against anti-war protesters with “terror links” and other preemptive raids on activists and all hope seems to just drain out of me. Back in the good old days Democrats would at a minimum feign disgust and outrage at situations like this, at least until our short American attention spans turned our heads in a different direction. So lets all just go back to bashing the Tea Party and fighting over where specific houses of worship can be built and pretend like this is still America.
Education is everywhere right now. The mainstream media (providing a slew of cheap publicity for David Guggenheim’s new documentary Waiting For Superman) has brought to the forefront the “crisis” in education like it’s something new. Well, it’s not, but for us Americans with crippled attention spans, it’s the flavor of the moment, so yum yum.
A friend of mine recently turned me on to a book first published in 1969: Teaching As A Subversive Activity, co-written by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner. The authors use innovators like Marshal McLuhan (the medium is the message) to launch their critique on conventional teaching methods, and it’s still relevant, probably more so now than it was then because of the degraded state of our education system.
The national debate seems to be leaning toward allowing free marketeers to push their privatized charter school scheme because there is no national priority to fund schools like we fund the war machine. But nowhere in the debate do we address the fundamental methods of teaching, which must adapt to 21st century tech-brats, and nowhere in the debate do we even consider why our public education system has been eroded and ignored, because that might entail pondering subversive thoughts about who our stupidity and ignorance ultimately serves.
In examining the structure of a conventional classroom setting, the authors state:
“…what students mostly do in class is guess what the teacher wants then to say. Constantly, they must try to supply “The Right Answer.” It does not seem to matter if the subject is English or history or science; mostly, students do the same thing. And since it is indisputably (if not publicly) recognized that the ostensible “content” of such courses is rarely remembered beyond the last quiz, it is safe to say that just about the only learning that occurs in the classrooms is that which is communicated by the structure of the classroom itself. What are these messages? Here are a few among many, none of which you will ever find officially listed among the aims of teachers:
Passive acceptance is a more desirable response to ideas than active criticism.
Recall is the highest form of intellectual achievement, and the collection of unrelated “facts” is the goal of education.
The voice of authority is to be trusted and valued more than independent judgement.
There is always a single, unambiguous Right Answer to a question.”
That was written 40 years ago. I graduated high school in 1997. And I’m not inclined to say there’s been much progress in how we educate our kids.
Part of the problem we face now is “education” hasn’t kept pace with the megaphone of consumer culture, and the result is this country produces more passive consumers than critical thinkers.
Again, someone is benefiting from the way this system is set up.
So, yes, our education system is in crisis, but that’s old news. The real tragedy is that innovation has been lurking in the shadows for decades, waiting for a conducive environment in which to flourish.
We are still waiting.
Kill a person and you’ll go to jail for life. Kill an entire town and, well, it’s a different story. Today is the anniversary of just such a crime.
Thirty years ago oil conglomerate Atlantic Richfield Company drove a knife into the side of Anaconda, Montana–my hometown. I wasn’t alive to see the looks on people’s faces that day, but the look has never fully left. Twelve-hundred people lost their jobs, and the town lost a lifeline.
That’s not something that goes away, maybe ever.
In my mind Anaconda hearkens back to a different America, one that fueled an industrial boom and a daunting suburban sprawl––company people in a company town. You see it everywhere: Flint, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and New Jersey. The cookie-cutter homes lining the cookie-cutter streets, now slowly decaying as those better days recede further into the past. These were places where guys who couldn’t turn out court briefs, but could turn a wrenches, were welcome; a place where collars were bluer than any nearby water. Conjure to mind your favorite Norman Rockwell… that was Anaconda. It is a perfect representation of the 1950s Pop Culture zeitgeist.
After the Washoe Smelter closed there came a mass exodus of desperate people who took to the road looking for a future in a crumbling American economy (sound familiar?), and a changing world they were no longer meant for. Conjure if you will another stark American image: The Grapes of Wrath.
Those who stayed behind gobbled up what jobs they could to keep themselves going, holding out hope for more jobs that never have returned in quite the fashion everyone was hoping for.
Deer Lodge County lost 66 percent of it’s tax base in 1980, and recovery has been long and hard, and not entire. I remember when my Dad, who until recently worked as a CNA at Montana State Hospital, got a pay raise in 1994 and announced that he was finally making what he did when he worked on the Smelter in 1978. That’s a tough show to watch, and a tough reality to grow up in.
If prosperity was trickling down during the 80s and 90s, Anaconda was nowhere near the faucet. Makes one wonder what Reagan was thinking when he proclaimed it Morning in America back in 1984. Maybe it was morning somewhere – like on Michael Eisner’s yacht – but in Anaconda, Montana it was night, and a cloudy one at that.
Our always helpful federal government has taken a huge jump into the book burning business.
In an effort to help sales of Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer’s new memoir Operation Dark Heart, and give a decent one-two to the First Amendment, the feds bought 9,500 copies of the first run of the book. That leaves 500 copies available. The government sites security concerns, and so the book now includes these riveting lines in new printings:
“Here I was in Afghanistan (redaction) My job: to run the Defense Intelligence Agency’s operations out of (redaction) the hub for U.S. operations in country.”
Nice to know we’re so free. I mean, the government burns books, but not every copy. Freedom marches on!
Hopefully in the future Uncle Sam will only burn literary disasters that deserve it.
heading into election season and things will most likely ramp up here so i thought i would offer this blog post i found when i logged in at wordpress this morning. not sure how i feel about it other than it provides some good thinking to think about.
like most people, i like lively discussion that doesn’t bog down in personal attacks. comments that add something to the discussion rather than derailing it into side personal agendas are preferable. i don’t like to be put in the position of deciding who gets to say what and when, but without some control things can easily get out of hand. anyway, read this post and see what everyone thinks. maybe we could develop some guidelines so commenters as well as editors here have some way to guide us in keeping this site useful and relevant.
this is an excerpt but be sure and read the entire thing…..
“In regards to tone/style, those that are excessively negative tend to provide a basis on which to delete in a principled way. Examples of negative tone/style include being needlessly hateful, needlessly condescending, or needlessly hostile. As others have noted, being negative (or, to be more technical, an ass) out of proportion to the provocation seem to provide grounds for considering deletion.
Not surprisingly, drawing a line that will allow consistent deletion can be a challenge. Despite this challenge, a consistent principle seems to be rather desirable. After all, as in law and ethics, the rules should be consistent and non-arbitrary. That way people know, in advance, what sort of behavior is acceptable and what is not. From a practical standpoint, this also helps avoid conflict over such matters and this is generally a good thing for a blog. After all, the idea of having a blog is to attract readers and active participants rather than drive them away.
Blog moderators will vary in what is considered tolerable in regards to tone/style. Those that prefer a rougher approach will tolerate more negative tones and styles. Those who wish to have a nicer environment or prefer a blog that seems more professional in character will no doubt tolerate less.”
and before anyone else chimes in with accusations. i am well aware of my own short-comings regarding proper etiquette. i could use a frying pan alongside the head once in awhile myself, but i do use one rule which had helped this sinful bear in the past….. when i am posting a response to a comment or making a post if the word YOU is used in any sentence, take a minute and pause before posting it and make sure it is necessary to make my point. when i take the time to do this, i have found that it never is.
Stolen right from this comment:
35% of Rs put up with the other 15% because 15% of Ds are so radical that the 35% of Rs simply can’t accept the communism and authoritarian control of their lives that D’s 15% espouses.
And 35% of Ds put up with the other 15% because they can’t stand the Ayatollah like establishment of fundamental religion and invasion of individual rights that the 15% of Rs espouse.
And all 70% is completely fed up and weary of the other 30%, so much so that they don’t pay much attention except during the general election. Which leaves the primaries firmly in control of each party’s 15%.
Our next poet, Diane DiPrima, was born in Brooklyn in 1934. According to this brief bio, her maternal Grandfather, Domenico Mallozzi, was an anarchist and associate of Emma Goldman. As a poet, Diane ran with the Beats for a while, then started a short-lived Master-in-Poetics program with Robert Duncan at a school in San Francisco.
I ran across Diane’s collection, entitled Revolutionary Letters, at a temporary used book store, which amounted to the personal collection of a poet/linguist who taught at UM, Dennis Holt, selling what books he could before leaving town. For those who don’t remember the infamous Dennis Holt, here’s a little snippet from his wikipage:
As an educator, Holt has taught language-related courses at a number of institutions of higher learning in the U.S., including Southern Connecticut State University, Roger Williams University, Central Connecticut State University, Southeastern Massachusetts University (now the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth), Quinnipiac University, and the University of Montana. At the last of these he was suspended and ultimately fired for having spoken out against the Iraq War and President George W. Bush during a linguistics-class on March 21, 2003.
Not to get too off-track, but from what I have heard about that day in Dennis Holt’s class, it wasn’t his speaking out that was the problem; it was the drunken bender he had been on and the fact he ripped off his shirt, screamed a bit against the war, then speculated on why the CIA hadn’t taken him out yet.
Looking back, there is no better person to have obtained a copy of DiPrima’s book of poems from. First published in 1971 by City Lights Books, it’s a must have for any poetic leftist. Here’s an example:
Look to the cities, see how “urban renewal”
tears out the slums from the heart of town
forces expendable poor to the edges, to some
remote and indefensible piece of ground:
Hunters Point, Lower East Side, Columbia Point
Out of sight, out of mind, & when bread riots come
(conjured by cutting welfare, raising prices)
the man wont hesitate to raze those ghettos
& few will see, & fewer will object.
But reading through these letters one is confronted with what we now might term the cliché of the times. Another letter:
REVOLUTIONARY LETTER #36
who is the we, who is
the they in this thing, did
we or they kill the indians, not me
my people brought here, cheap labor to exploit
a continent for them, did we
or they exploit it? do you
admit complicity, say ‘we
have to get out of Vietnam, we really should
stop poisoning the water, etc.’ look closer, look again
secede, declare your independence, don’t accept
a share of the guilt they want to lay on us
MAN IS INNOCENT & BEAUTIFUL & born
to perfect bliss they envy, heavy deeds
make heavy hearts and to them
life is suffering. stand clear.
this may be an example of the craft of poetry losing to the political activism of the poet. as a record of the times, though, this collection of poems is a compelling window into the nexus of poetry and politics that existed 40 years ago. and again, sadly, many of the poems still bear an uncomfortable resonance with today.
Listening to NPR’s Morning Edition – like I do on a routine basis while at work – has become just one more element in the background of white noise that fills my average day. But yesterday morning someone’s comments caught my attention in an unusual way. One quote stuck in my mind… playing itself over and over again. It wasn’t the shear stupidity of the statement.. but the brazen belief that we – Americans – operate on such a different plane of moral existence than all the rest of mankind. America = pure moral good… the rest of the earth = a world constantly on the search for a way to circumvent the rules of a civilized existence. We of course never cheat, never lie, never try to game the system while our foreign adversaries never do anything but exhibit such behavior. They – whoever we decide to define as that foreign element – that we are currently battling with never play by the rules. Of course the rules are those that we impose, err… unanimously decide upon.
The story Morning Edition featured detailed the tricky legality of Cyber Warfare… as if any warfare can be contained by the niceties of some wishful legal framework.
The quote, in reference to the emerging legal rules of cyber warfare was as follows:
“It is a near certainty that the United States will scrupulously obey whatever is written down, and it is almost as certain that no one else will,” says Stewart Baker, a former NSA general counsel and an assistant secretary of homeland security under President George W. Bush.
Because… you know… we would never violate the Geneva Convention
– or at least try to slyly circumnavigate it – we would never try to enact policies that violate our own Constitution, or basic rights as citizens, we would never put personal gain above moral righteousness and the public good, etc, etc, etc, etc. Because… well… we’re Americans dammit, and no matter how many time we fuck up we are still morally unimpeachable as a nation. So… cyber warfare… we are obviously the only ones that will stay within the bounds of the law on that one…
This past Saturday, The Indy’s award-winning supermontanacolumnist George Ochenski gave the keynote speech at the Flathead Democrat’s Annual Harvest Dinner. Never one to hold back on the truth, the big GO delivered a barn-burner, closing to a standing ovation and inspiring all who attended.
It’s no secret that I absolutely worship George Ochenski. He says he isn’t a political strategist, and he says he isn’t a political leader, but there isn’t a doubt in my mind that the Democrats would be a in a better place – the Montana Democrats would be in a better place – if he were.
Ochenski is an inspiration to me and many others. I say that without a doubt as to the truth of that statement.
I also doubt he’d been able to finish this speech if I were there – I’da been standing on my chair, fist raised, shouting as loud as I could “Hell yeah!” before he’da been half-way through. Jess Grennan knows what I’m talking about.
Want to know what it means to be a Democrat? Wonder, these days, what it should mean? His entire words are a must-read. I’m tempted to print out a few copies and send ’em to Washington. And Helena.
Before I do my Rod Sterling imitation and welcome you to the Twilight Zone that is modern-day politics, I’d like to personally thank those folks who made it possible for me to be here tonight. First and foremost, the Flathead Democratic Women and the Flathead Democratic Party for their kind invitation to speak. I’d also like to thank Margie Gignac for all her work and extend special appreciation to JoLynne and Jerry Yenne for kindly allowing my wife and I to use their great cabin where we enjoyed a very peaceful evening last night.
But the sand is running through the hourglass, so let’s jump right into the Twilight Zone and try to make some sense of the strange and swirling maelstrom into which American politics have descended.
First, I’d like to talk about “Why the Right is Wrong”…the easy part of this speech.
As we all know, having lived through eight nightmare years of the George W. Bush and Dick Cheney cabal, the Republicans have nothing, I repeat, nothing to offer us in the way of a vision for a better future.
You all remember, as do I, the phony campaign promises by Republicans to “restore dignity” to Washington following the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency. Their first move, aided and abetted by Montana’s own Governor Marc Racicot, was to “restore dignity” by stealing the election through voter intimidation, hanging chads and a conservative Supreme Court that decided it was more important to “move on” than accurately tally the votes of the people. And so we wound up with George Bush in the White House.
Perhaps, were it not for the September 11 attacks, Mr. Bush would have been the incompetent one-term president so many predicted. But that was not to be. Instead, a shocked, paranoid and complicit Congress – both Democrats and Republicans – cranked the wheel hard to the right through a series of events from which we have not recovered to this day – and may never fully recover.
Instead of dignity, we got deception. Instead of transparency, we got obfuscation, secrecy and denial of access to formerly public information. Instead of the Republicans’ much-vaunted “fiscal conservatism,” we tipped off the edge of wildly out-of-control spending, launching two wars and vastly increasing the military and intelligence agency budgets while domestic needs took a back seat and civil liberties, freedom and privacy were sacrificed to the umbrella excuse of “national security.”
In a throwback to the Age of Imperialism, Bush launched two wars, neither of which was justifiable and both of which, sadly, are still ongoing.
The invasion of Afghanistan was cloaked in the “mission” to kill or capture Osama bin Laden. But Afghanistan, with its towering Hindu Kush Mountains, is a wild country that has never been successfully occupied by any foreign force. The bones of the British Empire still molder in the Khyber Pass more than a century after their failed attempts at domination. Likewise, the rusted remains of Soviet tanks and helicopter gunships still litter the countryside decades later, an all-too-grim reminder that modern superpowers have no more chance of success there than the horse-borne armies of the past.
And now, of course, American blood mixes with the dust of centuries on Afghanistan’s forbidding landscapes while Osama bin Laden, wherever he may be, laughs at America’s folly in thinking we, unlike all others, can somehow subdue Afghanistan’s wild tribes. He laughs, too, as our Treasury is sucked dry by the effort, a grim parallel to the fiscal crisis widely blamed for the collapse and subsequent fracturing of the Soviet Union that, in fact, is having the same effect on our nation.
Shortly after the invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq fell into the Bush-Cheney crosshairs, despite the fact that Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11. What it did and does have to do with is oil. The world of oil is the world of Dick Cheney, and as we heard time and again, “Iraq is floating on a sea of oil.”
So it was that Bush, Cheney and their military-industrial complex advisors and a complicit Congress launched another war at a cost vastly exceeding what it would have taken to simply buy the oil if we wanted it so badly.
But of course that doesn’t take into account the other costs. The dead men and women of our Armed Services, the fractured families, those who returned home broken or beset with the demons of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the uncounted casualties inflicted upon the people of Iraq. We still have 50,000 troops in Iraq today, suffering and dying while the debt burden for future generations continues to rocket skyward as the true price of this calamitous war becomes ever more clear.
Perhaps even worse than these unimaginable military and financial disasters is the policy and social detritus left in the wake of the failed Republicans. Warrantless search and seizure, extraordinary renditions, (more commonly called international kidnapping and torture), and a nation at war with itself.
Long after Bush’s infamous “you’re either with us or against us” rhetoric has faded, the reality of what that did to our country lives on. We are no longer a country united in our goals and holding high the torch of Liberty, but one in which, neighbor turns suspiciously against neighbor, where distortion and outright lies replace truth and open debate, and where our own government spies on us, puts us on “do not fly” lists without our knowledge, and even marks American citizens for assassination without the benefit of a trial or the opportunity to present defense…thus crumbling even the most basic foundation of our judicial system that, as a people, we are all “innocent till proven guilty.”
And this is where the Tea Party comes into the picture. Continue Reading »
by Pete Talbot
“We support the clear will of the people of Montana expressed by legislation to keep homosexual acts illegal,” reads a plank in the state’s GOP platform.
So, most Montanans think that two consenting adults of the same gender should go to jail if they want to have sex. Interesting.
“I think your average Montanan would say the environmentalists have gone too far in stopping growth and stifling the economy,” says Bill Gallagher, Republican PSC candidate in District 5.
It’s environmentalists, not Wall Street and the resulting financial meltdown, that have stopped growth and crippled the economy — at least according to your “average Montanan.” Again, interesting.
This begs the question, what is an average Montanan? The Montana Republican Party, with some exceptions, thinks we’re homophobic anti-environmentalists.
It’s not easy or wise to pigeonhole people, especially Montanans. Examples I know of: a gay football coach, a Prius-driving logger, a lesbian wrangler. The Montanans I’ve met, for the most part, are a tolerant lot. They also have great respect for the outdoors. And this isn’t just in leftyville Missoula. With in-laws in Babb and Billings, and gigs in towns from Eureka to Broadus, Wolf Point to Sula, I’m constantly surprised by the depth and understanding of your “average Montanan.”
Sure, one will run into the occasional Neanderthal, but Montana doesn’t have a corner on that market.
(A quick aside. I wish I could vote in this PSC race but the Bill Gallagher/Ken Toole contest isn’t in my district. Ken Toole is a consumer advocate and industry watchdog. Gallagher is a shill for the utilities. And if Toole loses and the Republican wins in Montana’s northern District 1 [Don Ryan-D and Travis Kavulla-R] then Brad Molner would become chairman of Montana’s PSC. Scary stuff.)
I obviously disagree with the Montana Republican Party that Montanans are an intolerant lot and are opposed to environmental safeguards. Au contraire.
Some folks get stirred up by the far-right rhetoric — much of it coming from out of state: images of drag queens marching arm-in-arm up to the altar of the local Pentecostal Church, or claims of an end to all logging, mining, grazing, hunting and fishing if an environmentalist is elected. This ain’t going to happen.
And I have faith that “average Montanans” will look beyond the fear-based messages put out by the likes of Gallagher and the state Republican Party.
This is just a quick follow-up to last week’s post about the City of Bozeman’s resolution in support of Montana’s same sex couples and their lawsuit against the State of Montana for its Defense of Marriage Act.
With Montana in the national news spotlight for the Montana GOP’s platform criminalizing homosexuality, this resolution highlights some of the things I touched on in that previous post – namely that to have the State of Montana defend an unconstitutional law (unconstitutional by both Montana Constitutional and U.S. Constitutional standards) is sheer lunacy.
I’ve preached many a time on the pyramid of laws that we have – the Constitution is the ultimate law of the land, and all others must comply. Shame on any legislator (or administration or attorney general) that does anything less than defend against those guiding principles.
Bozeman’s resolution is unique in that it is the first resolution directed towards state government telling them to put an end to segregating and treating same sex couples differently under government sanctioned institutions like marriage.
Montana has far more important things to address in court than to try and rehash an issue that has been resolved in our highest courts already. Not only has Montana’s Supreme Court resolved the issue, the U.S. courts have utilized Montana’s Supreme Court decision as precedent in many federal cases confirming the right to privacy.
Conservatives everywhere should be in support. Nothing speaks more loudly against the principles of small government and intrusion than a law that defines marriage.
Please take time to read the Bozeman Chronicle’s article on last Monday’s resolution proposed by Mayor Jeff Krauss.
Bozeman Mayor Jeff Krauss wants his city to set an example for other cities across Montana by being the first to pass a resolution supporting the seven same-sex couples suing the state for the same rights as married couples.
“These couples are really walking out on a limb to put their faces forward, to put their stories forward, and I think they deserve the support,” Krauss told the Chronicle.
Jeff Krauss, btw, identifies as a Republican. The Mayor’s office and City Commission posts are non-partisan.
Montana’s GOP might be nuts, with “over two-thirds” of its membership voting in support of criminalizing homosexuality – but not all of Montana’s GOP agree. We that support equality should keep this in mind, and not create an environment where the GOP members that want to come out in support of equality – that want to speak out and tell their party that they are wrong – have exactly that environment which allows them to speak in support of small government and against its intrusion into private lives.
Montanans for equality should constructively embrace the national attention being thrust upon us now and leverage it to allow the state’s GOP members that do support equality to do so without fear of repercussion. That one-third out there need the breathing room to take care of the business at hand.
Via Helena’s CBS KXLH reporter Marnee Banks’ twitter feed, comes the sobering reminder that Montana National Guard Troops will be deploying Monday morning for (first) a six-week stop for training in Mississippi and then to their purposed assign in support of the Overseas Contingency Operation.
This is their second deploy, having already supported Operation Iraqi Freedom for 12 months in 2004-2005.
Montana’s soldiers leave from 5 major departure sites in the state – here are the times and locations:
Helena: Army Aviation Support Facility 2:40 pm
Great Falls: Great Falls International Airport 5:35 am
Belgrade: Gallatin Field Airport 6:00 am
Billings: Billings International Airport 3:40 pm
Missoula: Missoula International Airport 6:35 am
Today my thoughts are with them and their loved ones – their wives and husbands and children and fathers and mothers. Each of them take every drop of good will and wishes that I have in me.
It remains to be seen how effective Elizabeth Warren’s appointment to organize a Consumer Finance Protection Agency will be, but for someone like me, who is suspicious of the machinations of DC, it seems safe to speculate that the scope and timing of her appointment is mostly political, with little in the form of actual substance.
After all, this appointment isn’t permanent, and Warren will be reporting to that sniveling weasel, Geithner, so how much power she will actually have is open for debate.
What’s not open for debate is the fact Obama would like to get reelected in 2012. To do that he will need money to run a national campaign (and remember the price tag is half a billion dollars). Wall Street bestowed their financial blessing on Obama in 2008, greatly favoring him over McCain, and I imagine Obama would like to preserve that revenue stream by remaining loyal to those constituents.
That is why I think this move is window dressing. I hope I’m wrong.
I’ve been getting reacquainted with the poets in my extensive poetry collection looking for the second candidate of this series, and by extensive I mean browsing roughly 350 books, give or take a few. That number includes biographies of poets, over two dozen anthologies, poetry journals, essay collections, and a few rare first editions. Obviously I’m invested in the relevance of poetry, which is why I will be highlighting some poets not too many people have ever heard of, like our next poet: Joe Bolton.
First, I’ve got to credit my friend, Dennis Arlo Voorhees, for turning me on to this phenomenal young poet. Joe Bolton was born in Kentucky in 1961, and followed the MFA/teaching track, publishing two short books of poetry. After turning in his master thesis (which later became the posthumously published book The Last Nostalgia), Joe Bolton committed suicide. It was March, 1990. Joe was 28 years old.
I chose the following poem because it’s seasonally appropriate, and also because it shows how contemporary Continue Reading »
Could it be that the Taiwanese understand the Tea Party better than the rest of us?
Not being able to understand the commentary makes it just that much more perfect…
Ok, this is too good to pass up. You can’t make this s*#$ up. The wacky gets whackier. The crazies get louder. Then the mainstream starts buying into the legitimacy of these loony candidates. What gives?
Seems that the conservative movement, republicans and tea partiers are all aflutter this week about the ascension of one of their own to the ranks of nominee for major political office. As in the U.S. Senate.
Yes, the Tea Party sponsored candidate nominated by republicans in Delaware is a witch. As in she admitted to Bill Maher on Politiclly Incorrect:
“I dabbled into witchcraft… I never joined a coven, but I did, I did. I hung around people who were doing these things. I’m not making this stuff up. I know what they told me they do. One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar and I didn’t know it. I mean, there was a little blood there and stuff like that.
“We went to a movie and then had a little midnight picnic on a satanic altar.”
So for your viewing pleasure, and discussion this weekend, I bring you Christine O’Donnell’s admission to being a witch:
In related news, Christine O’Donnell canceled all of her scheduled appearances on major media this weekend–including her Sarah Palin suggested megaphone moment on Fox News.
The GOP is Dead! Long live the GOP
This post could really use a picture of Seattle-based Molly Norris. I just didn’t think it ethical to post one because she is now in hiding on the advice of the FBI due to threats by stupid, misguided fools who want to kill her.
They want her dead for a joke she made at the expense of the Prophet Muhammad––also not pictured… for, um, obvious reasons.
I will however post a picture of this guy: His name is Anwar al-Awlaki, and he’s a Yemeni-American cleric who is alleged to have inspired the Fort Hood shooting, among other attacks. He’s also the one who put Norris on a “hit list.”
He’s a bastard-coated bastard with bastard filling.
Back in April Norris drew a cartoon lampooning the fact that certain (not all; let’s not generalize) Muslims become so angry at depictions of the prophet Muhammad, which Islam kind-of-but-not-really forbids. This was at the time when Comedy Central was punking out because South Park was making jokes about Muhammad depictions. So Norris drew a cartoon declaring May 20th “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.”
WARNING!!!!!! Clicking “Continue Reading” will lead you to the dreaded cartoon.
This is the first in what will be a series of looks at American poets, past and present, who I think answer the question posed in the title of my last post.
Robinson Jeffers is an American poet who found critical acclaim in the 20’s and 30’s with long narrative poems that touched on controversial topics, like murder, incest, and parricide. But it was his vociferous opposition to America entering World War II that caused “gate keeper” critics like Kenneth Roxroth to turn on him. Thus banished, and voice lost to the fervor of nationalism, his prominence in the poetry world quickly dissipated.
For me, discovering poets like Robinson Jeffers is deeply reassuring. It allows me to connect my own resistance back through the decades to artists who refused to abandon their internal compasses for external gratification.
Continue Reading »
I grew up in Anaconda, Montana, which has seemingly been in a recession since, oh say, 1982. I was also pretty damn poor as a kid–we didn’t eat at Grandma’s just because she cooked, but because we didn’t have food that day. Mom went to school, Dad worked his ass off for us.
But, man, things never seemed this bad:
The number of people in poverty increased by nearly 4 [million] – to 43.6 [million] – between 2008 and 2009, officials said.
The [U.S. Census Bureau] defines poverty as any family of four living on less than $21,954 a year.
Meanwhile, new figures showed home foreclosures in August hit the highest level since the mortgage crisis began.Banks repossessed 95,364 properties in August, up 3% from July and an increase of 25% from August 2009, said RealtyTrac, a company which charts the national picture.
The official US poverty rate in 2009 rose to 14.3% from 13.2% in 2008. In 2009, 43.6 million Americans lived in poverty, up from 39.8 million the year before, the third consecutive increase, the bureau said.
What the hell was the point of the bailout again? To keep he banks afloat? Anyone want to bet that nobody from Citibank has been added to the poverty pit?
But that’s not all!
There are also 4.4 million more people without health insurance, and as p-bear already pointed out that number probably won’t be going up quickly, ya know, cause the reform bill doesn’t even really come into effect until 2014 (and it’s hard to buy insurance when you’re broke). I wonder how many more will lose insurance by then.
If we’re lucky, maybe we can have a society like the one in Metropolis.
Progressives are taking a huge hit this election year – that much seems clear – and it’s news like this. People see these numbers, and they blame those in power. We can say that President Obama and company inherited the mess all we want, but we must remember that bad numbers caused the Right to lose in 2008. It can happen again.
And who can blame the vox populi? If I was losing my home and my insurance, and I had a family (larger than just me and the Mrs.) I’d be super angry and want something to happen too. And maybe I’d revolt against the people who promised me change, and a future for my kids, and have yet to deliver on that promise (note: it’s easier to sell change than to make it happen).
I’m not trying to be a Negative-Nancy, it’s a cold reality and no amount of sugar can make it go down easy.
Unfortunately, that anger is leading to the steady rise of people like this nutcase:
It’s gonna be a long November.
On Monday at Bozeman’s City Commission meeting, Mayor Jeff Krauss put forth a resolution that formally supports equality rights for same sex couples in the State of Montana.
The resolution calls on the State of Montana and its Attorney General to support equality rights for gay and lesbian couples by supporting the couples which filed suit against the State of Montana back in July of this year for failing to offer legal protects to same sex couples as it does to other families in the state.
Bozeman’s Chronicle doesn’t put every story online – and the budget was certainly a big issue that caught the attention of the press, no doubt…but hopefully they’ll be covering this story soon.
And Bozeman’s City Commission? Good for them for seeking to speak in support of the same-sex couples of their community and the rest of the state.
Missoula City Council? Missoula Board of County Commissioners? Speak up – let Governor Schweitzer and Attorney General Steve Bullock know that they both need to speak up in support of equality rights for gay and lesbian couples in this state.
Bozeman leads on calling on Montana to do the right thing – let’s hope Missoula follows.
Last month Director had told the Legislature’s Revenue and Transportation Interim Committee that their review of Exxon/Imperial Oil’s environmental analysis (yep, the applicant submitted the ea) would be completed by August 15th….while later he backtracked and said that he didn’t expect to have it by the end of August.
Well, here we are, middle-of-September, and the bad news continues to pile on. Forest Supervisors of both the Lolo and the Clearwater National Forests oppose the plans to move the rigs up and over Lolo Pass…and Oregon’s U.S. Representative Pete Fazio is >calling for an investigation into Exxon/Imperial Oil’s plans to ship giant equipment through Idaho and western Montana to an energy project in Canada.
Apparently the Helena National Forest is OK with the plans to move the Korean-built bohemaths up and over Roger’s Pass – yep, no potential there for major disruption…
Not only does the bad news continue to pile on, but Lynch had promised the EA “by early September.”
One does have to ponder the Lolo National Forest Supervisor’s current position – given that they had to rescind their decision to bury powerlines (the request the result of Exxon/Imperial Oil’s transport plans) given that they failed to consult with the tribes – Lolo Pass the site of the ancient native Nez Pierce tribe’s Nimi’ipuu trail.
Wonder because while they are taking comment on the proposal to bury the powerlines through September 24th and the scoping period is exactly (and only) 30 days. Rather odd considering both the controversy surrounding the project and the fact that the scoping is the result of them having overlooked even scoping the thing in the first place, don’t you think?
Let’s note, too, that the scoping notice does not mention the application is the result of Exxon/Imperial Oil’s need to have the lines buried so they can move their oil modules. It does, in fact, state the purpose of the initiation of the request by Missoula Electrical Cooperative is to “improve long-term service to local residences and businesses.”
Still, too, one has to ponder if MEC should really be the applicant? Isn’t Exxon/Imperial Oil paying for this burial? Or is it the customers of MEC? It does lay open the question, doesn’t it? Given that the stated purpose on the scoping notice is to improve long-term service to its customers?
Shame on the Lolo for misrepresenting that line burial project. Check out that map…there’s quite a bit of that line burial that is immediately adjact to Lolo Creek, endangered bull trout habitat.
Are lines being buried on the Clearwater National Forest? What permits are needed from both of these forests? Why doesn’t the fact that these transport plans affect at least 3 National Forests this thing isn’t being analyzed under a full NEPA environmental impact statement?
Why doesn’t the fact that this entire transport plan crosses multiple state jurisdictions and multiple countries warrant a full NEPA EIS by the Feds? Is our security that lax? Is the concern that little?
Hopefully the hypocrisy of the Lolo’s public notice for the burial of these powerlines won’t go un-noticed.
The public and our County Commissioners and City Council should provide comment asking the Lolo National Forest to ensure that it re-notice the application to note the full purpose of the project…and analyze the full effect of the connected actions of this proposal – the effects both here and in Canada on the Athabasca tribal peoples.
the so called health-care bill that max baucus and the insider club obama operatives signed off on has resulted in raising our health insurance rates even more, making it that much harder for businesses, families and individuals to afford health insurance. this man has a great post on it that i wanted to share with you all. mark does some good posts (not too thrilled with his commenting style on other blogs but i find his take on many things very insightful, especially the total fail that resulted in a piss-poor excuse of a health care bill written by a baucus aide who was once a vice-president of of one of the biggest health insurers in america.
i truly believe that if our super-majority congress with a new president had gotten decent health care reform passed in the past year that allowed us to rid this country of these blood-sucking parasites, we would be watching the collapse of the republican party right now instead of seeing the rise of crazy people spewing hatred, selfishness, greed, racism and homophobia.
instead our leaders led by max baucus wimped out, the minority party saw cowardice and sensed weakness and took advantage of it. their victory in handing health care reform over to the health insurers it was supposed to control empowered the tea party and the republican party and they are still gaining from it every day because as americans and their empolyers open their invoices from the health insurers and see big increases they are all asking one thing. what the hell was health insurance reform good for if we can’t afford to buy it.?