Archive for October, 2010

by problembear

for most of us there is no need to go into long explanations about why we need to vote for capping the interest rate for payday lenders. it is kind of a natural gut reaction for most people to hate sharks. but if you feel that it’s ok to charge 300 to 650% interest to dangle easy money in front of  folks who can barely scrape by and then trap them in a cycle of debt that reaps huge profits for predominately out of state loan sharks then by all means support the payday lenders.

payday lenders have reached out to touch family members and friends of most of us here in montana. we know from experience that these loans rarely help anyone in chronic poverty and they are even more destructive for people struggling to survive a recession.  in many cases payday lenders make a desperate situation for our most vulnerable low wage workers much more difficult.

only three more days to git ‘er done montana. let’s stop rewarding bad behavior and make these slimy merchants work within a reasonable regulated market place. please vote yes on I-164 and cap the payday lending rate to 36%

montana is just too good to allow this feeding frenzy on our poor anymore.

by problembear

just in time for halloween!

this is an easy post to make. i raised some hackles of fellow progressive friendlies in my last post about the elections by supporting MT I-105 but the grey falling off flesh and stinking corrupt and gruesomely decayed nature of the  zombies in charge of the Montana  republican party has this independent voting all democrat this ticket from dog catcher to congress. seems there is not much choice, especially after the party officials recently hired Jake Eaton (political trick and vote tampering specialist who was run out of montana two years ago), to be treasurer of the Republican legislative campaign committee.

also, by standing by and allowing the politics of negativism, obstructionism and downright pure unadulterated and uneducated ignorance of certain tea party activists, including their most racist and homophobic leaders, the republican party has tacitly and very clearly told me that they are ok with it.

i am, like most montanans, completely disgusted by all politicians and most government anymore. in fact, since bush left office my distrust of both parties has grown beyond mere skepticism and taken me to the realization that if this nation is ever going to find its true bearings again we need a third party – a people’s party, to represent the will of the people against the democrats and the republicans who only seem interested in representing big banks, big military business, health insurance companies, payday lenders, and any other trade group offshore or not who is willing to bribe them to vote for their industry.

until a viable third party is formed however,  my ticket will be straight democrat all the way, and i urge everyone who believes in fair elections, equality and taking care of our most vulnerable citizens, from social security to children living in poverty, do the same.

By Duganz

With that wholesome, folksy nature, the Coal Cowboy – our state’s fearless appearance maker, the man who shakes a thousand hands, introduces himself as “Brian,” and gets rootin’ tootin’ mad at the legislature – is gearing up to help kill a man.

Following the failure of his most recent appeal, all that stands between Canadian citizen Ronald Smith and a long walk to Montana’s least homely doublewide, is Governor Brian. And, Brian is okay with that needle being put in Smith’s arm, and Smith being the fourth man executed in Montana since the state started executions again in 1995.

He’s already allowed the death penalty to happen once since taking office.

Smith, the only Canadian on Death Row in America (yeah, even including Texas), has a hearing November 3rd at Powell County Courthouse where he will learn when the State of Montana plans to kill him unless Brian decides not to. The Cowboy describes his feelings like this:

“You’re not talking to a governor who is jubilant about these things. It feels like you’re carrying more than the weight of an Angus bull on your shoulders.”

“Anybody who says they are absolutely sure about the death penalty is either in denial themselves or has not been paying attention. I’m not absolutely sure about the death penalty. There are very few people on the planet that have had that kind of experience. For almost everybody else it is a philosophical test because they’ll never actually be in a position where they’re involved in any way.”

“[Referring to the state-sanctioned killing of David Dawson in 2006] There were several calls to make sure the lines were open and then one last call at 11:56 (p.m.) to say everything is prepared at this end. The capital’s a very dark place at midnight. There’s nobody else there. I’m there by myself. It’s very quiet and the length of time from midnight until the phone rings again — while it will only be somewhere around four minutes — it could just as well be an eternity when they call to say it is done.”

Because, let’s be honest (and avoid cattle references when we’re talking about DEATH for crissakes), the Death Penalty is difficult for Brian because he is quite literally sitting by while others kill someone.  I’m not saying that every person on death row is innocent (Smith sure isn’t), but allow me to postulate a scenario:

You’re walking over the Orange Street Bridge, and you see one man stomping another man’s head into the ground. You know nothing of this victim — never met him, never knew him until this moment — and you’re the only one who can stop this.
You’d do so immediately, right?
Now, let’s say a person — an angel or something — whispers in your ear, “He murdered two people.” Would you instead sit there and do nothing? Would you praise the stomper as a Man of Justice, and feel good inside?

In my experience, no one can answer “yes” to that. But that’s exactly what the death penalty is: it’s a person killing another; it’s the state taking a person who is in no way a direct threat to the welfare of the people, strapping said person onto a table, placing an IV, and letting a three dose blend of poisons end the life of another human being. It may not be a street stomping, but sanitizing killing doesn’t make it less brutal, or wrong.

To rationalize, we say we kill them, because killing is wrong… unless its by order of the state. We do not charge ourselves; we go on living. We tell ourselves that the Death Penalty is something necessary; that without it we will have to pay soooooooo much money for criminals to eat and get dentures, and that these people don’t deserve that. I myself have met plenty of liberals who say things like, “I don’t think we should arrest drug dealers, but I can understand executing murderers.” (They, like their Republican counterparts, are always so keen to change the word “kill” to “execute” to make it seem much more sanitary.)

But the question is always as simple as this: How is Smith hurting you? He’s been in jail since 1983 for, as he’s admitted and been convicted of, killing two men because he “wanted to know what it felt like to kill somebody.” It’s a chilling, and brutally honest statement that gives us a view into the psyche of a murderer––a murderer who has been successfully locked away in jail for nearly 30 years. And during that time he’s not done a damn thing to you.

Regardless, we – all of us who pay taxes in the great state of Montana – are going to kill him, because killing is wrong (unless it’s done by the state).

On a previous blog I ran I wrote about why the death penalty is a waste of money, time, and ultimately shows a lack of civility amongst the bloodthirsty rabble supporting it. Here are the main points:

  1. It’s expensive (though for Montana that’s hard to prove since the government has never bothered pricing it).
  2. It doesn’t deter criminals, or thoughts of crime (Ex. People still follow Jesus despite that whole crucifixion incident).
  3. The practice eventually bites back when we realize we’ve killed an innocent person.
  4. It’s based on Nazi science.

I know that Ronald Smith is not an innocent man (far from it), but most of those points are still relevant. And more than that: He’s the only Canadian on death row. And no democracy has ever before executed a Canadian.

Yet on Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010, the state of Montana will make a final move to kill Ronald Smith, continuing the antiquated morality of the Old Testament: an eye for an eye. They will start a clock that will tick down every minute of every day getting ever closer to that moment – 11:56 p.m. – when Governor Brian Schweitzer will give the okay to allow a killing. And four minutes later Montana will be the first democratic government to ever kill a Canadian via the death penalty.

Unless the Governor is convinced to not do it. Unless we all stand up for something very simple: the belief that killing is wrong. That’s it. It’s that simple. We need to ask Brian Schweitzer to not use our money to kill a man, to not sully our image as a state and country with a needless death. I’m not asking for him to be released, I’m just asking that we not perpetuate ancient, stupid ideas.

Do the right thing Governor. If it helps you make up your mind, I’m sure you’ll even be asked to be on national TV again.


You can also help by contributing to the Montana Abolition Coalition.

by jhwygirl

That’s because the state’s low income health insurance plan for children through the age of 19 covers prenatal care, delivery and postnatal care for teen moms.

The cost? $720,000.

Yesterday, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the State of Montana for its selective policies regarding denial of birth control, saying it is a violation of privacy and equal protection rights in the state constitution

What is their policy?

Montana Public Radio reported that teens insured through CHIP, part of Healthy Montana Kids, cannot obtain birth control if it’s being used only to prevent pregnancy, though they can get birth control to treat acne or heavy menstrual cycles.

Now, that makes sense.

And how did this happen? State Senator Keith Bales (a Republican) struck a deal in the last days of the session which removed funding for CHIP recipient’s birth control – but only when it’s used as birth control.

This really is the kind of stuff that is at stake here at the state level. Ya’all might not care to much for the national stuff, but I certainly hope everyone is paying attention to the state level. Make sure everyone you know is voting – shoot an email around, pick up the phone.

Get ‘er done, people It’s THIS important.

by jhwygirl

…but are they all from the GOP?

I wrote a post the other day about HD63 GOP challenger Tom Burnett making robo calls in the Bozeman area. Thing is, not only are the calls automated and recorded, they’re recorded by Tom Burnett.

Pogo Possum had a comment in that post that suggested Bryce Bennett, Democratic candidate for HD92 was putting out robo calls – but when it gets down to it, he puts out that they weren’t actually recorded. Someone called him – probably read from a script – and that isn’t illegal. You can call from a fascimile machine – you just have to be a real person on the line.

I know Bryce, and I know he wasn’t doing robo calls. He has plenty of volunteers making calls, but they are all real people who are talking on the phone…and that is not a robo call, per state law.

Yesterday I came across a tweet from Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller a “re tweet” from Missoulian Reporter Keila Szpaller of something from Matt Hagengruber, a Billings Gazette city reporter that said this:

Got a Kendall Van Dyk robocall at my work #. Not a good idea to notify reporters that you’re breaking state campaign laws.

I got to thinking – and wanted to tweet/ask Ms. Szpaller, but didn’t – is her work number a Billings phone number? Because why would Kendall Van Dyke’s campaign – which is a senate seat for Billings – be calling a Missoula phone number? Automated at that?

That just plain doesn’t pass the smell test….

Ed note: see comment below from Keila – I overlooked the “re tweet” status of it. I have not heard any of the same speculating out of Billings, although I wonder if Hagengruber’s call sounded like what I describe…or if he got a number

Interrupting this post….

I’ll be – just got a call from the same number Pogo refers to in his comment on the Burnett robo-call post…406-258-0500. I said hello and it took a good 10 seconds for a person to talk back, saying hello and identifying herself as a person with the Willis Curdy for HD100 campaign. She launched into her speech – and she read from a script in spurts with a thick accent. I stopped her and said that I was confused – “who are you?” I asked. She stopped and identified herself as “Sarah” and I asked her again who she was with – she said slowly – again, as if reading from a script – “I’m with the Willis Curdy for House District 100 campaign.”

So I told her I was still confused because I didn’t live where I could vote for Curdy (which is unfortunate, really – I hope he wins) – and she then went back to her script and said “well I’m sorry and thank you very much for your time,” and then “good night.”

The person on the other line was clearly uncomfortable reading and had to take time to speak the stuff she was reading.

406-258-0500? That’s the same number that was allegedly calling for Bryce Bennett. And truth be told, that 258-0500 number has been calling me for some time. I just don’t like actual live calls much, so I haven’t picked up.

But when it did call me the first time – on the evening of the 21st – I reverse-looked up the number and it came up as an inactive number….and when it dialed me again and I didn’t pick up I called 411 on my Alltel phone and they, too, told me that they had it as an inactive number.

Well – clearly it isn’t inactive.

So after I got off the phone with “Sarah” at 258-0500 I called someone closely associated with the Curdy campaign to ask them about the call I had just gotten.

There is no Sarah working or volunteering for the Curdy campaign, as she had clearly stated twice for whom she was calling.

Curdy isn’t even making calls. He’s knocking doors and has been doing so for months.

Matt is conjecturing that there’s dirty tricks afoot. I say conjecture no more…clearly this is a sloppily organized mud job.

Laws are being broke here – we have one phone number making robo-calls for Tom Burnett 319-294-7021…and we have another one that is making false calls for campaigns they are not associated with.

Today, both the Bennett campaign and the Curdy campaign issued statements regarding these calls. They are below the fold. Continue Reading »

by Pete Talbot

Commercial irony

Challenger Dennis McDonald’s latest TV commercial has drawn the ire of Congressman Denny Rehberg. Jhwygirl has a post up on it. Rehberg’s outrage is hypocritical. He and the Republican party having been running negative hit ads for ages.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, though. I hate this kind of campaigning. Rehberg has been worthless as a congressman and that should be enough to get him booted from office. Unfortunately, it’s the personal, not the policy stuff, that commercials focus on these days. I guess that’s what plays best in our ADHD society. It’s a shame.

TV station ownership tends to be conservative but it looks like the stations will continue running the spots despite Rehberg’s lawyers’ threats. There’s money to be made.

A pitiful TV spot

Speaking of spots, this is one of the worst TV commercials I have ever seen. Put the politics behind you for a second, if you can, and just look at the spot aesthetically.

Poor Jan Rehberg. She could be a nice woman, for all I know, but she should kick the ass of whomever conned her into doing this spot for Nels Swandal. Who let those robots on the set?

Bad script, bad delivery, bad composition, bad lighting, bad everything.

This is also supposed to be a nonpartisan position but I guess we know where Nels stands on the issues. We’re looking at Tea Parties during recess.

In this race for Montana Supreme Court Justice, and I hate to judge a candidate by their TV (no pun intended) but Nels’ commercial is painful to watch. Even though I’m voting for Beth Baker — Swandal’s opponent — I’d give her a hard time, too, if she’d produced such a low-rent spot.

A little humor

Let’s end this post with some levity. I used to be pathologically obsessed with yard signs but when you think about it, it is a funny way to advance a candidate. Anyway, here’s the Onion‘s take on it:

Yard Sign With Candidate’s Name On It Electrifies Congressional Race

October 25, 2010 | ISSUE 46•43

The sign, above, which pundits say may have fundamentally altered the American political landscape.

by jhwygirl

Suing the City of Billings and its fire department isn’t enough, Dennis Rehberg’s gotta set to serving papers on his opponent for Montana’s lone congressional seat – Dennis McDonald.

First – You have to see the ad:

You know, I really have no problem with this ad – Rehberg did do “all of the above” – that and more.

Rehberg may not like that there is an ad that says these things, but truly, who’s fault is that? He’s the one who made an embarrassment out of himself and Montana when he was in Kazakhstan. That’s well-documented in a variety of news sources.

The ad doesn’t mention a 2008 expense account claim – which he later amended – that billed his campaign for a couch that he slept on in the basement of a Washington DC bar……

Keep that in mind when you think of the claim that he sleeps on a couch in his office in DC – all of the above of which are also well-documented.

Is his office the bar? Or is it the other way around?

Then there’s that pesky boat incident. His friend Greg Barkus has managed to keep the trial off until after election day. Convenient for Rehberg to not have to testify during a campaign.

McDonald’s ad, apparently, is a distraction from the campaign for Mr. Rehberg. Considering that it really isn’t untrue, Rehberg mighta been better to let the ad play itself out for whatever McDonald spent on it….but Rehberg and his darn staff of fools went out and are now trying to lawyer themselves out of a public embarrassment.

Making it, not-so-ironically, a public embarrassment.

By Duganz

Rather than gab about consequential things (taxes), or ongoing gripes (the Russell Street Bridge) I thought I’d promote some scary flicks to watch this weekend. If you’re not into scary movies, may I suggest just turning on FoxNews and watching them continue their debate about NPR firing Juan Williams? It’s not exactly scary in and of itself, but once you think “This is what political talk has come to,” you’ll feel a chill up your spine.

Also, while reading please pay attention to the “Scare Meter,” which rates a film’s scare factor based on Sarah Palins (One Sarah-Scary; Five Sarahs-Scarier than a night alone with the Pope). You’ll thank me later. Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

I know I’ve come across his name recently and I know he’s been back in the state for some time now – but when I read this comment from Left in the West’s Matt Singer, I got pretty pissed.

In a just world, election fraud of the sort perpetrated by Eaton wouldn’t result in termination. It would result in prison time.

This, by the way, is why I didn’t vote for Fred Van Valkenburg for prosecutor (without an alternate option, I left the race blank). When he decides to do his job, he’ll get my vote again.

Amen to that…

The Indy’s Alex Sakariassen got on the story first thing today…but I like Jay’s biased assessment just fine.

See – Jake Eaton committed fraud 2 years ago. Damned near exactly two years ago, actually. He fraudulently signed off on a document, swearing by affidavit that I had changed my address when I hadn’t. He had no information to support that, either.

I’m but one – but one should be enough to go looking at the rest of the 6,000 or so voter challenges he swore out by affidavit to counties around the state.

My opinion about this has not changed. Jake Eaton committed fraud. He disrupted an election. He cost taxpayers around the state quite a bit of money.

Far as I know, there’s no statute of limitations. Frankly, it should be an insult for any election officer in this state – and for any county attorney of any county that got these fraudulent voter challenges – to know that Jake Eaton is not only back in this state, but reinstated firmly with a working on Montana GOP election activity.

by jhwygirl

problembear got to Sunday’s Missoulian editorial endorsing I-164, the citizen’s initiative working at reigning in the payday loan lending industry.

Thought I’d mention that yesterday we had the Billings Gazette with a guest opinion from Linda Reed, president and CEO of the Montana Community Foundation and Uriah King, vice president of state policy for the Center for Responsible Lending, which explains how payday loans prey upon Montana families. Their informative piece lays out some specific statistics for Montana:

In fact, taking out a payday loan and walking away completely paid off after two weeks is an experience that occurs only 2 percent of the time. The remaining 98 percent of loans go to borrowers who don’t have enough money to pay back a loan in full and pay other bills coming due during their pay period, so they are forced to repeatedly float the same $300 over and over. In total, over half of all payday loans go to Montana borrowers taking 13 or more a year — that’s more than one a month! It’s virtually never just a two-week loan.

Legalized loan sharks. Nothing more.

Leave this one to the legislators? Forget about that – reform has been attempted for at least the last 3 sessions, to no avail. Somewhat shamefully, it’s the job of the citizens to protect themselves here.


While all eyes are focused on the upcoming elections and the big picture about the makeup of the next Congress, many people have been watching the undercurrents, reading the tea leaves for indications about the makeup of the 2012 republican primaries. While the common wisdom has Sarah Palin underperforming in a wide open republican primary, not everybody thinks the same. The CW goes like this, as Moorcat succinctly put it last week:

Palin stands zero chance to be the next president. In every poll run on a possible matchup for the 2012 election, Palin has been (at best) third behind Romney and Huckabee.

But in an article yesterday by John Heilemann in the NY Magazine, “2012: How Sarah Barracuda Becomes President,” he lays out the scenario:

1) The t-party pushes Sarah through to the republican nomination;
2) Obama’s popularity wanes even more amidst republican intransigence aimed to get Sarah Palin elected;
3) Michael Bloomberg enters the race as an independent, intent to assure that grownups (pragmatic centrists) persevere

Then all that needs to happen is the following (the first 2 scenarios being an Obama reelection or a Bloomberg upset):

But there is a third scenario, one that involves a more granular kind of analysis-cum-speculation. By the accounts of strategists in both parties, Bloomberg—especially with the help of his billions—would stand a reasonable chance of carrying New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, and California. Combine that with a strong-enough showing in a few other places in the industrial Northeast to deny Obama those states, and with Palin holding the fire-engine-red states of the South, and the president might find himself short of the 270 electoral votes necessary to win.

Assuming you still remember the basics from American Government 101, you know what would happen next: The election would be thrown to the House of Representatives—which, after November 2, is likely to be controlled by the Republicans. The result: Hello, President Palin!

Now, if you happen to be a Democrat, your first instinct might be to dismiss all of this as a dystopian anti-fantasy, or the kind of spook story told around a campfire, scary but ultimately harmless because it’s make-believe, or maybe the ravings of a madman. (I wouldn’t argue with that last one.) Certainly, it qualifies as far-fetched.

But, then, everything about Palin’s story is far-fetched: McCain’s selection of her as his running mate, her ascension after abruptly quitting the highest post she’d ever held, her status as one of the front-runners for her party’s presidential nomination. But here she is, a phenomenon nearly—nearly—unprecedented in modern politics, a figure so electrifying to the most hopped-up segment of her party that at times she seems unstoppable.

“She’s a supernova,” says McKinnon. “The only parallel is Barack Obama. And look what happened to him.”

Talk amongst yourselves as you watch the returns next week. Things will start moving much faster and with more clarity.

Me? I’m thinking of putting up a big fence around my farm, maybe dig in a bunker or two, and start stockpiling some 2nd amendment remedies.

by jhwygirl

This post has been corrected.

Political campaign robo-calls are illegal in Montana, per Montana Code Annotated 45-8-216. Maybe someone needs to tell Tom Burnett, Republican candidate for Bozeman House District 63…..or the marketing firm making the calls, Marketplace One, with a phone number of 319-294-7021.

That would be CHICAGO IOWA, folks.

Yep – Burnett’s even got himself an out-of-state marketing firm.

Chicago sure is making a lot of money off of Montana elections, isn’t it? (I’d strike this, but it’s still true. Guess I could add IOWA too, now.)

What makes this even most indefensible is that the robo-call sounds to have been recorded by Tom Burnett himself. He talks about “recent attacks from my opponents [plural] against my ‘record’.”

Record? Burnett has never held public office.

I haven’t much patience for breaking the law – especially from people seeking lawmaker status. Beyond that, breaking campaign law is pretty despicably low – what can Pomnichowski do? File a complaint? Political Practices has a backlog as it is. It’s two weeks before the election.

Burnett can’t even run a fair and legal campaign.

Tom Burnett can’t follow state law as a candidate – let’s hope Montanans don’t get stuck with him a legislator.

JP Pomnichowski is the incumbent for this seat, and Burnett’s opponent. I have a link to her campaign over there on the right. JP is a fine legislator, who has been endorsed by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. In fact, I’ve done quite a number of posts that have mentioned Pomnichowski. Check it out.

by jhwygirl

A worthy project – I’m just gonna reprint the press release:

Montana Innocence Project is dedicated to exonerating the innocent, preventing wrongful convictions, and educating the next generation of attorneys and journalists.

The Montana Innocence Project will host a free open house from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 28, at the University of Montana’s School of Law. Idaho Innocence Project director and Boise State University biological sciences professor Greg Hampikian will speak about the importance of forensic DNA, and students working with the project will share highlights from cases they are investigating this term. RSVPs are requested as refreshments will be provided: (406) 243-6698 or

Third-year law student Beth Chambers has worked or volunteered with the project since summer 2009.

“I’m grateful that this opportunity exists because I’m gaining the skills I’ll need to work as an attorney for an innocence project when I graduate,” said Chambers. “It’s an incredible feeling to know that you are some potentially innocent prisoner’s last and best hope.”

Montana Innocence Project is unique in offering an interdisciplinary Innocence Clinic for journalism and law students through its affiliation with the University of Montana.

“Students gain real-world experiences by investigating and preparing to litigate actual innocence cases, and they are a huge help to us because of our small staff,” said associate director Caitlin Copple, the project’s sole full-time staff member.

Founded in 2008, Montana was one of the last in the U.S. without an innocence project. Nationally, 259 people have been exonerated with DNA evidence, including three in Montana. Montana Innocence Project has reviewed more than 250 cases and currently has about 15 under in-depth review with the goal of filing a petition for post-conviction relief sometime this year.

Learn more at or call (406) 243-6698.

by jhywgirl

I’m voting no on CI-105, the constitutional initiative to amend the state’s guiding document to prohibit a real estate transfer tax.

Montana is one of 13 states that don’t tax the sale of property. Get that? We DON’T tax the sale of property. I don’t think that we need to amend our constitution to prohibit something that doesn’t exist.

All that aside – Why is the National Association of Realtors, out of Chicago, spending nearly $2 million to PASS CI-105?

problembear has weighed in, as has Moorecat and Jay at Left in the West

When I first heard of Constitutional Initiative 105, I immediately thought of it as some California-type proposition that has ham-stringed that state government into paralysis and perpetual session.

Now to find out that out of state money is funding this behemoth? Pushes me even further away from the thing.

The ever-analytical James Conner, of Flathead Memo, sums it up with a fabulous economy of words in a comment at Left in the West:

This absolutely unnecessary and dangerous constitutional amendment is an excellent example of how a society begins to deprive itself of tools that might someday be necessary for governing effectively. For that reason alone, voters should reject it.

It’s also bad policy. A transfer tax can be limited to large transactions. That would raise a lot of money, yet protect small land owners.

As is usual in this kind of situation, the proponents are reactionaries and libertarians, many wealthy, who never met a tax they liked or thought was necessary…unless, of course, that tax was paid by someone else.

If this measure wins, and it probably will, others will be emboldened to add more anti-tax amendments in the coming years. We could well end up as hard to govern as California.

You can damned well bet that I’ll be checking the “Against” box on CI-105 on election day.

Conner is right, and he speaks to the hamstringing of government that I speak of above. 2nd home ownership in this state by out-of-state owners has placed tremendous pressures on property values in this state. A tax – if ever instituted – could be limited to any number of categories merely by specified criteria.

Besides that, there’d have to be one big mighty shift in this state politically to ever institute something like that.

NO THANKS Missoulian

by lizard

When I read the comment suggesting “parasites” (homeless transients) should be “put into a mass grave” on a comment thread about the Poverello Center, I wondered what kind of comment would NOT be allowed. It appears tonight I have my answer.

In today’s edition of the Missoulian, there is an article about a huge VA grant the Poverello was recently awarded. The grant would provide over half a MILLION dollars toward the construction of a new facility, and 350,000 dollars EVERY subsequent year for operation costs.

Instead of just reporting this news, the article swerves toward rehashing downtown businesses alleged problem with transients, interviewing Worden’s Tim France (I wonder if Wordens selects who it sells its selection of cheap malt liquor beverages to, so as to not be contributing to the negative drunken behavior of Missoula’s street drunk population).

Once again the Missoulian’s coverage of the Poverello Center conflates the transients who aggravate downtown with the rest of the people the Poverello Center serves. Thanks Gwen!

Then, in the ensuing comment thread, a funny thing happened. An editorial note by Sherry Devlin appeared in response to a commenter by the moniker “what would jesus do.” The problem is the original comment didn’t appear, just the name, then Sherry’s response. Apparently, based on Sherry’s response, the comment called into question the way the story was reported, speculating that there was an attempt to foment controversy. Then, about ten minutes later, Sherry’s editorial note disappeared (I unfortunately didn’t copy the comment before it was taken out of the thread).

So it would appear that comments calling for murdering homeless transients and putting them in a mass grave is just fine for the Missoulian, but if you start questioning how the story is being reported, well, that’s just not acceptable to the editorial staff.

Ms. Devlin: if you have any scrap of integrity you will restore the original comment and your response to the comment thread, accompanied by an apology for your cowardly censorship.

And if you don’t it will appear you would rather stoke controversy to sell papers and drive traffic to the Missoulian’s website instead of acting responsibly as is the expectation of your profession.

Don’t worry, I’m not holding my breath.

by problembear

thanks to the missoulian editorial board for recognizing the importance of capping the interest rate on payday lenders and for supporting citizen’s ballot  initiative 164 in the upcoming Nov 2 election.

it is so well written that i want to provide some excerpts….

“While Montana law does prohibit borrowers from taking out more than one loan at a time, borrowers often “flip” or “churn” their loans by taking one out right after another to keep caught up with their repayments. In fact, according to Montana Women Vote, the average borrower in the U.S. will “flip” their loans eight times in a year and pay a total of $800 for a $300 loan. These borrowers essentially remain perpetually in debt to payday lenders. According to the Center for Responsible Lending, a full 76 percent of the total annual volume of payday loans in this country is comprised of churned loans.”

and this….

” The Montana Division of Banking and Financial Institutions reports that last year, payday lenders issued nearly 150,000 loans and raked in $7.5 million in interest and fees from fewer than 35,000 borrowers. That’s an average of four loans per borrower.”

payday lenders prey on the most vulnerable of our working poor by keeping them in debt with onerous interest rates that should shame anyone with a conscience. thanks missoulian, for recognizing this and urging our support of CI -164.


by jhwygirl

Where’s the money? That seems to be the question – and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has gone through great pains to defend itself against accusations that the U.S. Chamber is spending a documented well-over $20,000,000 a weeks almost exclusively attacking Democratic candidates across the U.S.

Attacks funded with foreign money.

It goes to reason that if the U.S. Chamber of Commerce isn’t spending the money it raises from foreign donors to fund attack ads, then it must be using revenue its raised from U.S. members of the Chamber of Commerce.

The U.S. Chamber needs that foreign money, I’m sure, for all those paid lobbyists that they have up in Washington DC.

So I’m wondering where our local Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce stands on their membership fees and donations being used to fund multi-million dollar attack ads to defeat Democratic candidates. Do they even know what their membership fees are being spent on.

The local CoC’s motto: “The mission of the Missoula Chamber is to provide community leadership and business advocacy while sustaining economic vitality.”

Maybe they’re OK with jobs being outsourced…because, you know, that working out well for local businesses, isn’t it. Smurfit-Stone, Stimson. Here’s a promotional video for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

Does anyone know?

Act locally, think locally.

by lizard

Well, foreclosures will be picking up again. Is anyone surprised? But don’t worry, BoA checked out their records, and everything is legit, so they’ll be booting 100,000 households to the streets. Hopefully none of these newly homeless folks will come to Missoula, where some in our community would prefer exterminating them like rodents and putting them in mass graves.

Dave Lindorff at Counterpunch gives me a little hope that maybe some baby boomers will be pissed off enough to start acting like frenchmen, or greeks.

Two issues are rushing to the fore that could have most Americans grabbing pitchforks, guns, shovels, bats, mop handles, and whatever else they have handy that could be useful in the streets.

The first is Social Security, and the angry mob is going to be the Baby Boom Generation whose members, myself included, have paid 13-15 percent of income into the Trust Fund now for over 40 years, expecting that at 66, we could retire and collect our pensions. Now the greedheads on Wall Street and their toadies in Washington are trying to say that we shouldn’t be able to count on that money. They want to make us wait until we’re 68, 69 or 70, and they don’t want to give us cost-of-living adjustments. They say that the money’s going to run out before we die (unless we oblige them and starve), even though the reason for that is that they’ve been stealing all that money and giving us Treasury Bills in return, which they now plan on refusing to honor, saying it would mean raising taxes on our kids. (Actually those T-Bills could be retired by taxing the rich, and leaving our kids alone.)

Anyhow, when we hit 66, let me tell you: if our money isn’t there, or if we get to 76 and they try to take it away (and right now I’m supposed to be able to count on collecting $22,000 a year when I retire), we’ll be ready to take out Washington and Wall Stree. And we could do it, too. Some in my generation, remember, spent a few years in Vietnam, and they got the skills. Me, I’d be willing to take lessons.

But that’s only part of it.

The other is the housing fiasco, and that’s an even bigger cause for rebellion.

See, that was our other bastion for retirement. All these years, Americans have been fed this comforting myth that our homes are our castles, and that the best investment we could make in life was to invest in the “American Dream” of home ownership. Then Wall Street, having already stripped the industrial base down to the concrete pads, looked around and saw this huge pile of real estate ripe for the taking. They couldn’t just steal our property outright, though. After all, we all had these deeds on file with the local county Deeds Office.

But we all had mortgages. And they figured out a way to steal these. They created derivatives, called Mortgage Backed Securities. They took our mortgages and they chopped them up into little pieces, which they then bundled into tranches and started trading like bonds. These tranches were designed to have varying risk levels, which they accomplished by putting “good” mortgages–those that were expected to be repaid regularly–with “bad” mortgages–those likely to default. But since it’s really a guess whether any particular mortgage, good or bad, is going to default, they didn’t really put individual mortgages into individual tranches. They put them all into an electronic data base called MERS, for Mortgage Electronic Registration (sic) System, and then shifted them, or pieces of them, around as needed when they wanted to create a good tranche or a bad tranche or a mediocre tranche.

This is where our national, bipartisan rage should be focused because these are the issues that will decide how impoverished the general population will become during the next ten years.

by Pete Talbot

This is just FYI but I’m curious to see other bloggers’ opinions on this story from the Montana Associated Press.

Montana Cowgirl is receiving some attention on a post written about the Van Dyk/Brown Montana Senate race taking place in Billings. Ms. Cowgirl is taking heat from the right and the left for portraying Roy Brown in less than flattering light. The comments after her post are a good read and should elicit some introspection.

Reminds me of the Sen. Baucus TV spot showing Max’s opponent back in 2002, Mike Taylor in disco regalia, rubbing a man’s head.

Also, questions about using state computers and a possible cozy link to elected officials, is in the mix.

Your thoughts gentle reader?

by lizard

I just got done with a free energy audit on our home courtesy Missoula’s Green Blocks Program. Go check out the website for more information.

From what I’ve gathered, this is a pilot program that began in 2008, with the hope more municipalities in the state will be able to participate as results of the benefits of this program percolate among our elected officials and funding continues to exist to keep the project moving forward.

The audit took about two hours and was contracted out to a company called Kema by NorthWestern Energy. I don’t know much about the company, but the guys who work for them out of Helena were incredibly nice and informative. They checked out everything, even vacuuming off a filter on our refrigerator (something i was slightly embarrassed to learn would help with efficiency if kept clean).

At the end of the audit I listened to the breakdown. After the air-test to see how “leaky” our house was, the crawl space around our stone foundation was identified as the biggest potential loss of heat in the winter. Ultimately I decided to sign off on a work order to have our stone foundation insulated and sealed for virtually no cost. The rough estimate of getting this work done without this program was conservatively put at over 1,000 dollars, including materials and labor. The cost we will incur will most likely be under 100 dollars for some additional materials not covered by the program.

Now for the political spin.

At the initial orientation I attended at the fairgrounds about a month ago, the various speakers from all the partnering interests were tasked with “selling” us this project. Why? Because for some folks out there, projects like this, and other smart-grid ideas being floated around, reek of nanny state intrusion.

I gave these guys access to my home and my records on how much energy I use, let them snoop around for two hours, and at the end of this process they suggested what I could do differently.

Luckily I am a happy, willing participant of this program because I believe in responsible use of energy. My wife is even more conscious of our energy use, and before the baby came, hovered the thermostat in the low 60’s. So getting a subsidized chance to make energy-efficient improvements, for us, is a no brainer.

But there is always the other side who sees any attempt to educate consumers on energy use and/or implementing methods to moderate usage as an affront to their blessed freedom to use however much energy they want to use if they have the financial means to do so. This is the I’ll use mine and fuck the rest of you mentality prevalent in this country, which is why, with around 4% of the world’s population, we use roughly 25% of the world’s resources.

While I concede there are certain extremes of smart grid technology that have the potential to get creepy, the reality that our energy and water are not inexhaustible resources make programs like Green Blocs very necessary.

So kudos to the city of Missoula and NorthWestern Energy for teaming up on this project. In such a polarized political season, it feels great to be able to point out something positive happening in our community.

by lizard

The title of this post was taken from a comment found at the Missoulian’s website. Who do you think this anonymous asshole is referring to? bank execs who gobble up our tax dollars? private mercenaries who kill with impunity? Health insurers who profit by denying coverage?

Nope, the parasites this commenter thinks should be put into a mass grave is homeless transients.

According to the article, the Poverello Center is looking for overflow space to house the people who won’t be able to stay at the Pov this winter because of firecode limitations.

For some people in this community, it doesn’t matter who these people are. Their stories don’t matter, and their lives don’t matter.

I have something to say to those people: homelessness is here, and it’s not going to go away. In fact, it’s going to get worse.

Why is it going to get worse? Because the wars aren’t going to stop, and the jobs lost overseas aren’t coming back, and state social services will continue to lose funding, and peddling liquor will always be profitable because there will always be a demand to escape to the bottom of a bottle.

It makes me sick Nazi-sounding assholes can make such hateful, terrible comments. Thanks Missoulian for providing a forum where such intelligent people can grapple with complicated issues like homelessness.

By Duganz

This is the kind of thing our President should be recording. And, about that… Sorry Mrs. Clinton.

And if that weren’t inspiring enough (again, sorry about 2008, Mrs. Former Senator), the military is accepting gay recruits. Apparently they think U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips had a point with her decision last week ruling against DADT. But, before I get all high-and-mighty, the recruiters are telling newbies that they may end up getting kicked out. Luckily, Judge Phillips isn’t playing nice with Uncle Sam, and has rejected their request for her to rescind her injunction.

All and all, it’s a pretty damn good day. I think I’m going to celebrate with my new favorite non-local brew: Harvest Moon Brewing Company’s Beltian White.

by lizard

Everyone has a birthing story because each and every one of us entered this world at a particular time in a particular location on this earth. My second son was born this morning at 6:34am, at Community hospital. And while Community is a great place to deliver a baby, it’s not the only option for expecting mothers in Missoula.

An integral part of anyone’s birthing story is the method(s) by which a woman is allowed or assisted in her labor. I use those two words–allowed and assisted–deliberately, because it highlights a simmering fissure in two competing philosophies about the birthing process, and that fissure exists right here, in Missoula.

When my wife got pregnant the first time, we did what any 21st century couple does–we googled our options. That’s how we discovered the newly opened Birth Center, located in the newly built Montgomery Building, named after the late Dr. Lynn Montgomery who built and ran the Birth Center.

Dr. Montgomery died shortly after my first son was born, of a heart attack, and the Birth Center in its original incarnation didn’t survive Lynn’s passing. Luckily a certified midwife who worked with Lynn, Jeanne Hebl, is keeping the option open for healthy moms-to-be. And it’s at the new Birth Center, located on 39th street, where my wife attempted a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarian).

For awhile our midwife was persona non grata at Community hospital. check out this October 17th, 2009 Missoulian article (coincidentally the same day a year later my wife went into labor). Jeanne was literally not allowed on Community property, leaving her patients without their birthing advocate at the front door.

Personally, as a consumer of both services, I find this turf war frustrating, because both services, I think, are needed, and can potentially compliment each other. Of course when money is involved, it’s all markets and competition and hardball. Patients of health services never win in this battle. Continue Reading »

by problembear

bon appetit

to cleanse the pallet the chef suggests ……

the billings gazette editorial kinda makes me wonder just how much the white shirts know about how tough it is out there for montana’s working poor. not very much if you read their vapid endorsement of an industry which is bleeding people dry out there. not much at all…….

by problembear


“They’ve abandoned the interests of smaller chambers like mine for their larger corporate members,” Stan Kosciuszko of the Butler County, Pennsylvania, Chamber told Washington Monthly. The Butler County chamber has also severed its formal links with the US Chamber.

“In 2008, a third of [the US Chamber’s] revenues came from just nineteen companies,”Washington Monthly notes.

by problembear

gonna paint a target on my backside for my stances on some of these citizens initiatives from folks in the progressive community but here goes;

CI-105 which would prevent any entity in montana from assessing a transfer tax on property sold in montana. i have the most trouble coming up with a stand on this because i highly distrust those who are pushing for it. i also question how it would stand up to constitutional review by the montana supreme court. but, i am in favor of it simply because with unemployment so high, i don’t think we want to take any more money out of the hands of homeowners who are selling low as it is in this climate.

vote yes on CI-105

CI-161 which would eliminate special hunting license arrangements for outfitters and guides would essentially make it too difficult for these important businesses to attract and hold existing clients by creating a hurdle for prospective hunters to acquire licenses on their own.  guides and outfitters provide much needed commerce to montana. at a time of increasing unemployment in this state it is not wise to shackle an industry which provides jobs for so many montanans and montana businesses used by their clients.

vote no on CI-161.

CI-164 which would cap the interest rate of payday lenders and vehicle title loan businesses at 36%.  no brainer. this criminal activity of charging our working poor and seniors on fixed incomes from 300 to 650% sucks money out of our state and lines the pockets of slime balls like allan jones.

Vote Yes on CI-164

by problembear

commentary by guests  – i want to listen and learn….if you would prefer that your comment be part of this post just email it to me at and i will cut and paste it into the pro and con portions of this post ….

to start this off i have included a link to a poll on whether this tax repeal should be allowed to sunset by congress this year or be re-enacted by varying degrees as described in the wall street journal recently.

this article is a good start to understanding the issue:

  • Pages

  • Recent Comments

    Miles on A New Shelter for Vets or an E…
    success rate for In… on Thirty years ago ARCO killed A…
    Warrior for the Lord on The Dark Side of Colorado
    Linda Kelley-Miller on The Dark Side of Colorado
    Dan on A New Shelter for Vets or an E…
    Former Prosecutor Se… on Former Chief Deputy County Att…
    JediPeaceFrog on Montana AG Tim Fox and US Rep.…
  • Recent Posts

  • Blog Stats

    • 1,693,484 hits
  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 2,734 other subscribers
  • October 2010
    S M T W T F S
  • Categories