Archive for November, 2010

A loss to the ‘sphere

by Pete Talbot

While trying to write a post on the Montana initiative contests, I surfed some of the other blogs for insight. Jay Stevens over at Left in The West is always my first go to guy. So it was disheartening to see that he is retiring from LiTW.

Jay’s writing was well-reasoned and researched. His posts were based on fact, not rumor or innuendo. Also, Jay wasn’t above self-reflection or re-thinking a stand on the issues. And his links were some of the best in the biz.

He’s a Democrat, to be sure, but he isn’t a party hack. He’s criticized just about every elected Democratic figure when they deserved it.

It’s usually the other way around. The old dude mentors the young dude. This was not the case here. Young Jay offered me a slot at 4&20. He proffered encouragement but also a free rein. Then there was the technical advise, which was sorely needed.

He left 4&20 in the capable hands of jhwygirl and the site continues to perform. His work over at LiTW is the standard by which other progressive Montana blogs are measured.

This post reads like an obit, which it is not. Here’s to Jay’s sabbatical. I’m sure we’ll see his writing some other time in some other place. Til then, thanks buddy.

(Update: it appears Matt Singer is leaving LiTW, too. Seven years isn’t a long time in the realm of most things but it’s an eternity in the world of the blogosphere. If the word “institution” can apply to blogs, then LiTW comes closest to fitting the definition. Founding father Singer set the tone for political blogs in this state and his voice will be missed. There is now a void where political junkies, elected officials and just regular folks who like to stay informed can go for news and commentary. Best of luck, Matt, on your future endeavors.)

(Final update: when the MSM reports on the blogs, well, that’s news in itself. Here’s Chelsi Moy’s take on the shuttering of LiTW.)

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by Pete Talbot

I was hoping the pundits and polls were wrong, but they weren’t. What is even more depressing is that Montana followed the national trend of moving to the right. In some cases, moving to the far right.

Let’s start with the PSC races. The Republicans now have a majority on the commission that regulates most of the utilities in our state. Expect looser reins on industry, fewer renewables, a greater emphasis on coal and a short-sighted energy policy. Consumer protection will take a hit, too.

Two veterans, Democratic PSC incumbent Ken Toole and former Democratic State Senator Don Ryan, lost their bids to Republican newcomers Bill Gallagher and Travis Kavulla, respectively. Toole ran a strong campaign — raised money, bought media, worked the district — but it wasn’t enough to overcome the “radical” tag that Gallagher hung on him. And you can also thank Flathead County voters for helping to take Toole down. May their utility rates increase tenfold.

In the other PSC race, let’s face it, Kavulla campaigned harder and raised more money than Ryan in what is basically a Hi-Line district. Even Great falls went for Kavulla.

Democrats lost big in the Montana legislature. Keep on eye on Billings’ Senate District 25, though, where Democrat Kendall Van Dyk is trailing Republican Roy Brown by one vote. Update from Billings Girl: “Last night when the votes were counted. Van Dyk was leading Brown by one vote, not trailing. And after some provisionals were added he is now up by 16. He has stayed ahead the entire time.” Kudos to Kendall.

My math may be a little off but I have the Montana House at 69 68 Republicans to 31 32 Democrats and the senate at 28 Republicans to 21 22 Democrats (the 50th seat to be decided by the Van Dyk/Brown race).

There were a few bright spots but more disappointments. On the upside, in my house district (92), Democrat Bryce Bennett won a close race against Republican Don Harbaugh, 2201-2072.

Two big letdowns. Democrat Willis Curdy losing House District 100 to Republican Champ Edmunds, 1858-1606. Curdy had a great profile and worked his ass off. I don’t know if we’ll ever pick up that seat, which is too bad, because otherwise Missoula County would be an all Democratic delegation.

It was also sad to see Bozeman’s JP Pomnichowski (D) lose to Tom Burnett (R) in HD 63 by 2682-2618.

Glad to see Beth Baker win the Montana Supreme Court race against Nels Swandal.

Finally, after all the “kick out the incumbent bums” election rhetoric, one of the biggest bums had an easy win: Denny Rehberg (around 60% of the vote) against Dennis McDonald (about 34% of the vote). Libertarian Mike Fellows got about 6%.

My take on the elections is that voters are frustrated by the party in power for not fixing things and that trickled down to the Montana races. But what a mess the Democrats were handed, and the voters must be smoking a lot of medical marijuana because their short term memory is shot.

It could also be a disgust with party politics in general as witnessed by the election of an Independent as sheriff (Carl Ibsen) here in Democratic Missoula County. It should also be noted that McDonald even lost Missoula County. It was only by 198 votes out of 34,892 but WTF?

I’ll try to get a post up later on the Montana ballot initiatives (I went 50-50 on those).

But I won’t even get into the national stuff, and I have no further pithy analysis or keen insights into this mid-term disaster, but here are some links to a few Montana folks who do:

http://leftinthewest.com/diary/4450/it-still-hurts-in-the-morning

https://4and20blackbirds.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/how-did-it-all-go-so-wrong/

http://www.newwest.net/topic/article/gop_scores_big_in_west/C37/L37/


thanks montana

 



by problembear

for doing the right thing and passing the measure to cap the interest rate at 36% and giving the boot to payday lending and vehicle title loan sharks.

By JC

We might as well have an open thread up about the election. So instead of talking about the particulars of each race and ballot issue, I think it might be instructive for folks to get into the grist of the issue:

How did Democrats, after two solid elections that took control of Congress, and a landslide victory for the presidency two years ago, manage to lose control of the message and the agenda, and gave it all back to the republicans and the t-party?

The search for a pariah could begin with Max Baucus. In a post at Slate, and making the rounds in the Montana blogosphere (LitW and MtCowgirl already are on this one) the finger pointing has begun:

Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan. Unless you’re talking about the 2010 elections, in which case the list of scapegoats for likely Democratic losses is long and growing…

Max Baucus. Health care might not have happened without Sen. Max Baucus of Montana. Then again, it might have happened a lot faster. Over the course of four months in 2009, Baucus made one compromise after another—scrapping the public option, killing the employer mandate—in order to attract Republican votes that never materialized. That gave Republicans time to demagogue the bill and ate up valuable time on the congressional calendar—time that could have been used to pass legislation like immigration reform or an energy bill (which, of course, would probably have hurt Democrats, too).”

Had Baucus not gone on his fools errand looking for 10-20 republicans to sign on to his health insurance bill, and instead worked for a public option and not alienated the progressive base by such acts as having activists and leaders arrested in chambers, maybe the base would have stayed energized and worked harder to turn out the coalition of voters that swept Max and Obama into office.

Jes’ sayin’…

That August recess last year really kicked the air out of the progressive base with the t-party having time to get organized and begin to demagogue Baucus’ bill, and from there everything else the dems tried to do. Of course, that little antic with Robert Gibbs ostracizing the “professional left” didn’t help much either. Of course, I advocated kicking the republicans while they were done, so as to solidify the dems around the progressive wing of the party, but no…

Thoughts? Have at it!

Dia De Los Muertos Indeed

by lizard

It’s been an ugly two years, the culmination being today’s midterm elections. And soon we will know how ugly the next two years will be.

Personally, I have absolutely no hope people will become better informed, more civil human beings after today, and while there is plenty of blame to go around for why we are in this situation, I think there is a very good reason the main target of Jon Stewart’s RALLY TO RESTORE SANITY was the mainstream media, and that reason is their blatant complicity in polarizing us by using misinformation, suppression, and plain deceit to exploit our fear and feed our hate, effectively keeping us at each other’s throats while the corporate agenda moves seamlessly forward.

Locally I need look no further than our local rag, the Missoulian, and the recent behavior of editors like Sherry Devlin. Since yours truly brought a bit of noise to the wretched sewer that is the Missoulian’s comment thread section, the folks making the decisions over there decided to bury the offenses and resulting criticism of their coverage.

As the controversy was happening, I had comments censored, then critical comments posted, only to be later taken back down. A response by Devlin to someone who’s comment wasn’t available was posted, then taken down. Then the two stories the Missoulian had featured that day on their “hot topic” bar at the top of the page were dropped, and subsequently the previous story about the Poverello Center looking for overflow space at the fairgrounds was dropped from the “most commented” section. To find the story now, you have to make a specific search.

Luckily that story no longer includes the comment from H. Hood about transient “parasites” and the need to put them in “mass graves.”

The Missoulian has so successfully solidified the connection between dirty, scary transients destroying downtown businesses with the existence of the Poverello Center, that anything positive the Pov does (which is plenty, though you’d never know it) will be tainted by the repeated negative association with unsightly panhandling street drunks.

The failures of our community, our city, our state, and our country in dealing with complex, emotionally-charged issues like poverty, addiction, mental health, incarceration, war, and all the other things that fuel chronic homelessness are made worse by cowards like Sherry Devlin. When the criticism turned from hating on transients to criticizing the Missoulian’s coverage, she appears to have decided to suppress the criticism, and bury the evidence, instead of taking this opportunity to stand against hate, and look critically at how their paper’s voice has negatively influenced the conversation.

Sherry Devlin’s cowardice is indicative of the crisis of credibility facing main stream news outlets these days. Newspapers are increasingly seen as mere tools serving the interests of business, and as money consolidates into fewer and fewer hands, fewer people are interested (or capable) of monetarily supporting these tools of wealth.

I certainly won’t be parting with any more quarters to support the Missoulian. That is one small way I can register my disgust with their behavior. And it may be one of the only ways, since when I try to login now to make comments about anything, a window pops up saying “unknown error.”

Oh well, life goes on. And at the Day of the Dead festivities tonight, I will be thinking about the death of civility, the death of an independent media capable of informing citizens, and ultimately the death of our Democracy as the corporate grip tightens its noose around our necks.

Election Coverage

by jhwygirl

The University of Montana journalism school has been covering election politics statewide this year.

MontanaVotes2010 has been added over there on the left – but be sure to head over there for election day coverage and live reports on results.

They’re even on Twitter.

They’ve been reporting since mid-October – from legislative races in Bozeman to initiatives to tea party activities. It’s a pretty cool mix of radio reports and print stories. Do head on over.




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