Archive for December, 2010
I’m obsessed with rabbits. from the book I read as a kid, Watership Down, to my favorite movie, Donnie Darko, rabbits have become a powerful symbol for me. Signifying what? From just the two examples I mentioned, a warning the world as we know it is about to end.
Wallace Stevens wrote a poem about a rabbit, and it’s amazing. Here it is: Continue Reading »
as usual, i am curious about something….
take a look at these two links and tell me if we have our priorities right here?
1. this outfit as described in today’s missoulian and all over our television news lately has needed much help this winter and the entire sorry episode has been getting a lot of media play lately – not to mention full use of our fairgrounds as provided by mr earle.
“When we heard about this we basically put our arms out and told them we would do everything we can to help,” Earle said.
now, just like everyone else, i saw the footage of the burros with misshapen hooves and animals who have been neglected for far too long and of course, nobody wants to see an animal starve to death and i know that the mission of the people involved was good-hearted and all but, for god sakes -give me someone who can provide proper logistics and sustainable plans over a bunch of dreamers and feel gooders who collect discarded animals from all over the united states, and then fail to care properly for them when times get rough and then, at the worst possible time of year, drop them in our laps in the middle of a dead cold winter…..
2. shelters for the homeless are seeing unprecedented numbers of people living on the streets and not enough beds to provide shelter from below zero wind chills which are on the way as i type this. media wise, the coverage of the local homeless plight has been miniscule by comparison to the plight of the failure of this animal sanctuary.
someone needs to figure out what is important here. it is certainly unfortunate that over a thousand animals were in dire straits but we really need to regain some good old-fashioned common sense and realize that homeless americans need our attention during this cold snap in the middle of our protracted recession…..
i certainly don’t ever remember missoula county offering to provide shelter from the cold at the fairgrounds for the homeless even temporarily when the poverello is crammed to undignified and unsafe conditions. do you?
All of these stories were available last night on the front webpage of Montana newspapers across the state…
In Billings, this gem of a guy was allegedly 3 times the legal limit when he nearly hit a police car. He had 5 minors, four under age 9, in the car.
Missoula, not to be outdone, has its own worse cretin – 33-year old Lolo resident Wayne Dale Munnell rolled his vehicle near the Buckhouse bridge on 93 south. He had 3 minors in his car, and a 24 year old who’s arm was nearly severed. Munnell, like the gem above, did not have the passengers in proper restraints or seat belts. His blood alcohol was measured at .149, but not before he snatched the syringe during the blood draw and threatened a state trooper. And a nurse. There’s more violent behavior – go read it.
That guy had a medical marijuana card. And there was “an odor of burnt marijuana on his clothing.”
Just an observation on what I know in life: It’s the drunks that cause the problems. Stoners? Pretty harmless.
Helena, of course, has its own special kind – Adam Wilson threatened to kill two women and a 16-year old, holding them hostage. There was a police chase, yadda yadda yadda. Oh – and a driving under the influence charge.
Frankly, when I think about it…drunks can be a pain in the ass. Mean too.
No flash on this story – just your regular ordinary Montanan with a 5th DUI. Nothing to see there, right?
Still more….over in Great Falls, we have a 29-year old male who drove the alleys hitting damaging over 100 garbage cans, along with fences and other myriad personal property.
So before I close this out, I’m heading over to check the Bozeman Chronicle and the Montana Standard…..
….looks like they escaped the banality that is Montana and its alcohol.
I think many of us saw the Missoulian’s story on the 23rd of December. For those of you that missed the story (I suspect that was the intent of announcing two days before Christmas) here it is. Park Water Co., which owns Mountain Water Co. (Missoula’s water utility), is to be sold to the Carlyle Group. Yes, that Carlyle Group, the second largest private equity fund in the world which manges around $90 billion in assets, and possibly soon your local water company.
Park Water Co., is a small family run business based in California that manages two other private water utilities similar in size to Missoula with a lot of management (more on that in a later post). We do not really have a sense of what the deal is worth, but I would guess that Carlyle is assuming all of Park’s liabilities and probably paying $75-100 million (the fund typically does not touch anything less than $100 million).
Who is Park Water Co. and why do they own our water utility? According to Mountain Water Co.’s website, they purchased the wells, pipes and other infrastructure in 1979 from the Montana Power Co. Which had purchased them from the Missoula Light & Water Company in 1930.
Now, I do not have a problem with private companies owning utilities, or doing any number of things that the public sector has traditionally done (except maybe defense contracting). But I have to ask the question, what value did Mountain Water Co. bring, and what value will the Carlyle Group bring to Missoula? This question, which will be examined in detail by the MT PSC over the coming months as it decides whether to approve the sale, is in my opinion fairly easy to answer (put your guesses in the comments). This also means that the deal is not done, and that we have a say and possibly other options as to whose hands our water utility ends up in.
Here are some observations to consider:
- The Mountain Water Co. charges Missoulians some of the highest rates in Montana. Average rates in Missoula (before the latest rate increase) were $416 annually, compared to $396 for Billings and $301 for Great Falls.
- Missoula is the only municipality that does not own their water company in Montana. Citizens from Absarokee to Virgina City some how manage to get by without the global expertise of private equity.
- Mountain Water Co’s pipes leak really bad. Recent estimates (p.3) show that 40% of the water Mountain Water Co. puts into their pipes leaks out, which as one public service commissioner put it is “unprecedented”.
- Mountain Water Company is currently requesting a $1.8 million annual rate increase, $600,000 more than the Montana Consumer Council thinks they need to cover normal cost increases over the last two years, from their 2008 rate increase.
Over the coming months I will try to do my part to keep you informed about about the progress of the deal, financial details on the Carlyle Group, and how to get involved. I look forward to your input and observations.
i will let sherry devlin tell it better than i could.
the s.o. and i will sorely miss him!
here is the U of M school of journalism’s writeup as well… http://www.jour.umt.edu/node/383
i will say however that playing bob in scrabble was a hopeless quest to all but the extremely gifted…..
we have a long way to go before we get out of this depression we are in. montana has taken a licking this year. the closing of smurfit stone and it’s loss of hundreds of well paid jobs was especially hurtful. macy’s building is still empty. notices of more furniture store closings in the news today. but, perhaps if certain politicians and boosters out there can be believed there are some signs of hope on the horizon.
i am thankful that tester’s logging bill died a sudden death in congress. little good was coming from that bill regarding protection of wild lands and much harm was possible toward management of public lands with the inclusion of it’s heinous logging mandates.
republicans won their legislature back but they will need to get past schweitzer to get much done. hopefully, this will ensure that not much gets done. same holds true for congress. not getting much done usually is better for most of us.
take health care reform for instance. a lot got done because democrats were in the majority but it was written by health insurance lobbyists so expect that in the long run what got done won’t be good at all for most of us.
we were able to at least pass a citizens initiative that drove the payday loan slime devils away from montana’s borders. that was true democracy. the people spoke and the powers that be had to listen….. a rare occurence these days.
mostly they don’t listen to us anymore.
I started off writing about poetry here at 4&20 with a post that asked the question “Can poetry matter?” but the source material I used for that post sprouted from internal gripes within the American poetry world.
Here’s a better question: Why doesn’t poetry matter?
I believe rhythm and rhyme are foundational components in how we clever mammals communicate with each other. Kids already know this to be true, no need for explanation. But as we grow up and become these strange creatures known as “adults” many of us lose touch with the powerful pulse of language.
But poetry is there, throughout the recorded drama of human existence, echoing across the centuries.
This particular post came about because of another contentious exchange in the comment thread battleground. Immediately after that exchange, which included discussion about the continued stain on American jurisprudence known as GITMO, I pulled a collection of poems from Guantanamo, edited by Marc Falkoff, from my shelf. This very short poem is from a now released prisoner, Siddiq Turkestani. This is from the intro to his poem:
Siddiq Turkestani is a thirty-three-year-old ethnic Uighur raised in Saudi Arabia. In 1997, while traveling in Afghanistan, he was abducted by members of Al Qaeda and tortured until he “confessed” to plotting to kill Osama bin Laden. He was imprisoned by the Taliban at Kandahar until 2001, when U.S. intelligence personnel visited the jail. He told them his story and was promised a quick release. Instead, he was eventually sent to Guantanamo and held for four years on accusations that included being associated with the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The military determined that he was not an enemy combatant in January 2005 and he was released from Guantanamo nearly six months later.
Thought a little JibJab humor might cheer everybody up. Well, everybody but all those who’s dreams rested on DREAM.
by Pete Talbot
Nothing like a trip to the Magic City of Billings to put things in perspective: where an in-law tells me about his buddy who’s making $2000 a week welding on a pipeline in the Williston Basin, where I meet a man who runs a big (I mean really big) shovel at Colstrip, where my sister-in-law’s new boyfriend is working maintenance at the Stillwater palladium mine south of Columbus. All these guys are bucking the recession.
They don’t give a sh*t about DADT or DREAM. “It’s the economy, stupid.” (A quote attributed to James Carville during Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign.) Which is why, even though at some point in their lives, the workers mentioned above belonged to a union, they voted Republican in the 2010 midterm election.
Shortsighted? Without a doubt. These guys aren’t millionaires and the Republican Party doesn’t represent them. But they think it does.
So, when my progressive cohorts rail against Sen. Jon Tester on the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, and DREAM, I have to do a little reality check. You see, I agree wholeheartedly with the progressives but after living in Montana for 45 years, I like to think I have some insight into the Montanan mind set. And Billings is about as Montanan as you can get.
At this point, these Billings workers aren’t going to vote for someone to the left of Jon Tester. Hell, Tester barely won his seat in 2006 against a corrupt incumbent who had insulted women, firefighters and most minorities. And you’d have been hard pressed to find a better candidate to go up against Republican Conrad Burns than that big Montana dry-land farmer with a flattop and missing fingers.
It isn’t about the lesser of two evils. It’s about pure evil versus a mainstream Democrat; like Denny Rehberg v. Jon Tester in the 2012 U.S. Senate election or any Democrat against Rick Hill/Cory Stapleton/Ken Miller for Montana Governor.
It isn’t easy for me to write this post. Having been called a Socialist, a Communist and a red scurvy dog, I figure I’ve earned my progressive credentials. But sometimes one has to step back and look at the world, the country and Montana the way it is.
I’m not going to quit pushing my elected Democratic officials to be as progressive as they can be. And I’ll continue to critique their bad votes as I’ve done in the past; particularly Sen. Max Baucus but also Sen. Tester and Gov. Schweitzer. And to quote Jim Hightower, “I’ll keep agitatin’.”
Last night on Twitter I asked if anyone would want to recreate The Moth here in Missoula. I figured I’d get two or three replies, mostly just people asking what I was talking about. But actually the response has been overwhelmingly good.
So far City Council badass Stacey Rye has signed on, as have local reporters Beth Saboe (KPAX), Keila Szpaller (Missoulian). I’m betting those three ladies have some great stories (hopefully not all concerning Dick Haines). And plenty of other people have said they’d love to come and at least watch the show, so that’s good news.
For those of you who don’t know what The Moth is, it’s a NewYork venue where people get up and tell stories to a live audience. Sounds easy, right? It should be.
Anyway, we’re trying to get a venue and a PA for the whole deal, but here’s what you need to know to take part:
- Think of a story (any story) you could tell to a group of people in 10 minutes
- The story can’t be something you’ve workshopped, or read elsewhere; we’re looking for raw story
- Write it out if you must, or make notes–whatever it takes for you to be able to tell it
- Poems work… Kind of… You can read a poem, but only if you’re doing so as part of the story
- Email me at MissoulaMoth@gmail.com
This whole deal is still in its infancy, but it could become a really great thing if enough people take part–so get on it Missoula!
As the president scores some lame duck points, our state republicans are positioned to translate the national GOP corporate hype machine into actual legislative goals. Inevitably it will boil down to slashing taxes, which means killing state revenue, which means pushing local municipalities to make painful cuts in local programs.
All evidence that cutting taxes has the worst stimulative effect will fall on deaf ears. It has been disastrous nationally, so of course it needs to implemented locally.
Our continued economic malaise will be touted as the reason to put more money in the pockets of Montanans, but what never gets properly articulated is how we have gotten to this national nadir.
Allow Pam Martens at Counterpunch to illuminate a mind-numbing number that ALL of us should try to wrap our heads around:
On December 1, the Fed was forced to release details of 21,000 funding transactions it made during the financial crisis, naming names and dollar amounts. Disclosure was due to a provision sparked by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The voluminous data dump from the notoriously secret Fed shows just how deeply the Federal Reserve stepped into the shoes of Wall Street and, as the crisis grew and the normal channels of lending froze, the Fed effectively replaced Wall Street and money centers banks in terms of financing.
The Fed has thus far reported, without even disclosing specifics of its lending from its discount window, which it continues to draw a dark curtain around, that it supplied, in total, more than $9 trillion to Wall Street firms, commercial banks, foreign banks, corporations and some highly questionable off balance sheet entities. (Much smaller amounts were outstanding at any one time.)
A careful review of these data makes it highly likely the GAO will be releasing some startling findings come next July 2011. That’s when the American people will have a much clearer picture of how the Federal Reserve shoveled taxpayer money to Wall Street by the trillions. As a result of Senator Sanders’ legislative efforts, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is to complete an audit by next summer of the Fed’s lending programs during the financial crisis.
Our state republicans need to be very clear about how their proposed policies will help Montanans. Will cutting business taxes really translate into new jobs? What kind of industries do we want to support in this state? Is bending over and taking it with big rigs for a few flag waving jobs really worth turning our back on being good stewards of our scenic roadways? Is hurrying through reactive legislation to hobble or kill medical marijuana a good idea? How do we keep Montanans from losing their homes in the great real estate crisis that, according to some experts, is far from being over?
I sincerely hope our state legislators can focus on creating constructive legislative goals to help the majority of Montanans that are hurting right now because, well, that’s their job.
Travis over at Electric City Weblog wrote up a nice piece on the recent court case surrounding the MATL transmission line, the law, and his musings on the issue. Recommended.
I’ve slept on this two nights, and I’ve failed to find a moral or a logical reason for Tester’s vote, other than pandering for votes.
I guess I’m one of those idealistic ones who expects the people I vote for to do the right thing. Even when it’s tough.
A number of progressives here in Montana have written about Jon’s vote – Pogie at Intelligent Discontent, Matt at Left in the West, Wulfgar! and Jamee Greer at Left in the West too….and Shahid Haque-Hausrath, a Helena-based attorney and human rights activist.
I see Tester’s vote as unreasonable. It was a step towards reform. We’ve been told to accept steps on health care. We’ve been told to accept steps on financial reform. Compromise.
I thought this was compromise. A baby step towards reasonably and morally solving one little slice of the immigration issue.
Beyond that, I’m pretty much in line with the laments of Pogie and the disappointment of Jamee Greer. We all were working very hard in 2006 for Tester.
DREAM would have made citizens out of people brought here as minors. Children that did not have a choice and children that did not knowingly come here breaking the law.
DREAM made citizens of these people who came here as children providing they had clean records and a good grade average and hadn’t broken the law.
DREAM had nothing to do with so-called ‘anchor babies’ because – like it or not – those ‘anchor babies’ are legal citizens of the United States of America.
Now, if you want to call that amnesty – and I point to the fact that these are kids we’re talking about who had no choice – call it that. But it sure seemed fair to me.
I mean, what – punish the child for the ills of the parent? Really?
Sen. Tester issued a statement at 5 p.m. Friday, the eve before Saturday’s vote, saying he couldn’t vote for amnesty.
So the other reason I see his vote as utterly without logic is this: If Senator Tester’s position is “no amnesty” how, pray tell, do we meet his position? What is the end-game to that position? Deportation of all undocumented immigrants? How are we going to do that? More importantly, how are we going to fund it?
And think about it – Exactly what kind of government does it require to round up all these illegal people? Are you going to go door to door? Am I going to have to carry citizenship papers with me at all times?
I mean, really? What is the end-game of a “no amnesty” position?
Tester’s vote is extremely disheartening for me…especially from what I read outside of the Montana blogosphere – “burn in hell”? “bigot”? Those words cross lines that shouldn’t be crossed.
As for my part, I’ve taken a number of criticisms just for posting kos’ response to Tester’s vote (a post, btw, which mentioned Baucus). As I started out above – I’ve slept on this two nights trying to see a reasonable side to this vote and I’ve yet to find it.
Do I make Jon an adversary by being so upset about this vote? I would certainly hope not – and I would hope he thought the same when he cast his NO vote knowing I and a whole bunch of others here in Montana and elsewhere would think it was a shitty thing to do.
If anything, the cynic is me says that there’s a part of him that’s giving me a tip o’ the hat for giving him some street cred with the voting xenophobes of Montana. I mean – consider the value kos got him over at Electric City Weblog.
As I have been following the emerging tabloid-like coverage of the now infamous Jason Christ, it occurred to me that pot-crusaders and panhandlers have something in common: the dogged attention of the Missoulian.
for example, read the first chunk of reportage by the Missoulian’s Gwen Florio in the latest installment of the Christ saga (italics mine):
Jason Christ, perhaps Montana’s best-known medical marijuana proponent, faces an accusation of felony intimidation in connection with an alleged bomb threat at the Verizon store on South Reserve Street in August.
hmmm, perhaps this bowl-roasting psycho (my opinion) is “Montana’s best-known medical marijuana proponent” because the Missoulian is all revved up about reporting on him. because he’s controversial. because that sells papers.
obviously y’all know where I’m going here, because I’ve said things like this.
the influence of local media sources like the Missoulian, though in decline, are still powerful actors in how certain hot-topic subjects get framed.
take, for instance, the headline of this recent article:
Kalispell woman sentenced for covering up death of medical marijuana patient
the victim referred here as the “medical marijuana patient” is 49 year-old Wesley Collins. read this article for more context.
my questions is this: why does the fact some medicinal marijuana was “shared” by the victim and the assailants, and the theft of some plants (in addition to other things stolen, like cough syrup with codeine) warrant the murder victim be reduced in the headline to a “medical marijuana patient” instead of WESLEY COLLINS?
this topic–critically examining how certain topics are reported–is touchy, because I know people working for the Missoulian and connected to both the issues cited in the title of this post.
but i also think that these days, with some corporate media enterprises struggling for survival (thus willing to fan any controversy that may translate to sales) it is absolutely necessary to remain skeptical about how certain issues are handled, from headlines to comment threads.
Montana Senator Jon Tester voted against the DREAM act today. Kos is pissed
So am I.
(Looks like Baucus voted NO too.)
I have been grossly derelict in my assumed duty to bring poetry to these virtual pages, so I’m making up for it by bringing a double-dose for the weekend.
First up is Donald Justice, a pretty well known poet in the poetry world:
Landscape with Little Figures
There once were some pines, a canal, a piece of sky.
The pines are the houses now of the very poor,
Huddled together, in a blue, ragged wind.
Children go whistling their dogs, down by the mud flats,
Once the canal. There’s a red ball lost in the weeds.
It’s winter, it’s after supper, it’s goodbye.
O goodbye to the houses, the children, the little red ball,
And the pieces of sky that will go on now falling for days.
I will update this post later tonight with Patrick Todd’s poem. until then, here’s a teaser: it’s title is Poverello…
According to the back of Patrick Todd’s book, The Iron Walrus (written in 1979), Todd received his MFA from the University of Montana, and served as poet-in-residence for the state for 3 years. At the time of print, Todd also worked as the director of the Poverello Center. Here is the same titled poem: Continue Reading »
Great Falls Tribune reported yesterday on a ruling by District Judge Laurie McKinnon which found that private corporations do not have the power of eminent domain.
You’d think freedom-loving pro-property right’s Montanans would be out banging pots and clanging lids but instead? Thud.
You’d think the Chamber of Commerce and every other Ayn Rand freak would be out decrying the ruling, but instead? Crickets.
The Montana-Alberta Tie Line – this thing is probably in its 6th year of running at high gear – was told that they didn’t have the right to condemn Shirley Salois’ property:
In July, a Montana subsidiary of Tonbridge Power Inc. of Toronto filed a complaint to condemn their land in Glacier County District Court after Salois argued the proposed route should be adjusted across his property farther from tepee rings and a wetland.
Lund argued Tonbridge could not exercise the right of eminent domain because it is not an agent of the state that has been given express legislative authority to acquire private property.
So this is a pretty big deal. What’s Tonbridge to do? Do they appeal? Do they open the book for a state-wide ruling that’ll become precedent for every other jurisdiction in the state? Or do they move these lines?
This ruling can have major impact Northwestern Energy’s Mountain State Intertie (MSTI) too. A 500kv line being built across Montana and Idaho in an effort to move electricity to California and Colorado, it has run into plenty of trouble. Proponents tout that it is for wind energy, but the reality is that virtually all of it is to move coal-produced electricity. There has been considerable public outcry against this project too – with Jefferson County officials going so far as suing DEQ, successfully, to halt the process.
MSTI will be – or perhaps they won’t be – relying on condemnation powers to construct this line. So ouch on those plans.
Who else? Well, that Otter Creek coal was relying on a railroad through, in part, some candy-heir ranch owner’s land out east. You can bet they were going to try and pull our Montana’s eminent domain laws there too.
A while back I called the PSC – I think I might have mentioned this in some comments at Left in the West – to ask some questions about both of these lines. Mainly, what I wanted to understand was why could they condemn private property when the lines weren’t for public use – they weren’t regulated by the PSC, and they weren’t available to any public project that might want to access it.
In other words – not only were they going to condemn property, they were causing an increase cost for infrastructure for power because of the monopoly-like nature of their use. Brad Molner explained to me that the lines weren’t common carriers and they fell under some federal interstate clause that didn’t allow them to be regulated by the PSC. I lamented to him the inability of the state to regulate them because of our lack of infrastructure which was inhibiting wind energy development.
It’s an interesting mix of situations here – does Tonbridge appeal? Can they apply for common-carrier status? Does this become some sort of federal-state showdown? Might this be a turning point for energy development in Montana?
I’ll be watching this case closely, as I’ve often pondered how Montana’s eminent domain laws can be used by private entities when – despite they provide services to anyone who purchases them – are private for-profit not government entities. Remember the outcry about the Kelo v. City of New London Supreme Court ruling?
I mean – look at the list of things that private entities could – and have – condemn private property for – it’s crazy, really, and all listed under Public Uses enumerated.
Parking lots….urban renewal projects…roads..for the benefit of..the inhabitants of a county, city or town…
Interesting stuff, no?
It’ll be interesting to see how the new legislature being sworn in January 3rd is going to want to – perhaps – fix what I’m sure a whole bunch of them are going to try and twist as some egregious miscarriage of justice to the public good.
Associated Press reported early this afternoon that Senator Jon Tester’s logging bill that’s been sitting in committee for what seems to be most of the year now has been placed into the $1.3 trillion omnibus budget spending bill.
The current version of the bill, which has substantially changed according to Great Falls Tribune supermontanareporter John S. Adams, has never had a public hearing.
Adams does some extensive in-depth analysis of the bill along with providing correspondence he’s had with Sen. Tester’s office.
While there has been a number of criticisms of the legislation, one issue coming from both sides is the lack of transparency – so to have the bill lopped into the big old nasty budget bill is all the more afront to that aspect.
Matthew Koehler has covered the multiple natural resource issues that have been raised by critics.
Here we have a #1.4 trillion budget bill that is being altered in the Senate in order to go back the House for what will probably be even more compromise – and all the while 10% of Americans that are unemployed wonder about their pithy unemployment benefits. We’ve got tax cuts for the top less-than 2% in there, adding more to the deficit than the double return back in economic activity that unemployment benefits brings.
And my Senator slips his not-had-a-hearing, yet alone a committee vote bill into the budget mess.
Guess we all know how he’s voting now.
i don’t expect any better from the republicans either. this country is now officially a plutocracy. open rebellion against the entire corrupt system is the only answer left to those of us who lack enough funds to bribe our representatives. working within the system and trying to effect change from within only plays into the hands of the corporations and the wealthy elite who now run our once proud nation. as of this date, my every act, thought and written word will now be in open revolt of the corrupt plutocracy of traitors who have stolen this republic from the people of the united states of america.
Commentary by JC
Baucus’ “Health Care Reform Provision Is Unconstitutional, Federal Judge Rules”
I knew it would eventually come to this. Today’s headlines all over the media and blogosphere blaring out the news that the legal arguments against the mandate are beginning to advance in court. The battle against Obama’s health insurance reform act, and Baucus’ part in it are going to fuel right wing and tea party clamoring for repeal, but for all the wrong reasons.
And of course, we’ll be getting a basket full of the following ostrich mentality:
“Administration officials told reporters last week that a negative ruling would have virtually no impact on the law’s implementation, noting that its two major provisions – the coverage mandate and the creation of new insurance markets – don’t take effect until 2014.”
My goal here isn’t to take the debate about the individual mandate on again, or offer my opinion about its constitutionality under the Commerce Clause. I in no way support, or have supported the mandate. And I am on record in hundreds of comments here and at LitW about my opposition to the mandate.
Instead, I’m going to continue on with the line of reasoning I put forth about why the mandate, as constructed by Baucus and signed into law by Obama, is another step in the wrong direction for progressives and civil libertarians. Given that there now is movement on the mandate’s constitutionality, which most agree will put the provision before the Supreme Court before it ever gets implemented, it is time to start looking for alternatives, as there will be a huge drive to “amend” (read as “repeal” in some form or another) the bill in an increasingly overt conservative environment in Congress and the White House.
Continue Reading »
Pogie is the Master. Read it here.
I’m also flat-out saying this right now – I’ll be using that (R-Marbut) too. Poached.
Of the 100+ comments in the wikileak thread, the commentary I find the most disturbing comes from the perennial defender of American Empire, “The Polish Wolf.” I was so dumbfounded by the lengths to which this person is willing to defend the indefensible, I figured a closer look at (his?) rationalizations was in order. so here we go. Continue Reading »
It seems to me that Montana’s Sen. Jon Tester can show an independent progressive populist position here regarding the tax cut issue and say that he will not vote for anything that includes a $700 billion dollar increase to the deficit on the backs of 98% of Americans.
He should stand on the floor in campaign mode – because this is really we are talking about here. He is going to have to stand up and be the Jon Tester that Montanans elected in 2006 – and look to his Republican colleagues and ask them why they call for compromise yet insist on holding unemployment benefits hostage in order to restore all of the Bush era tax cuts, including those for the richest 2% of this nation?
Why they call for compromise yet hold up middle-class tax cuts for 98% of America while increasing the deficit by $700 trillion to benefit less than 2% of Americans?
All of those in Washington need to look around. America is hurting. We are concerned about the deficit We need prudent choices that keep the economy moving and provide a good return. Ya’all up there in Washington have been acting a little too long like you are the one that matters.
It’s getting old. Believe it.
And if that kind of common sense doesn’t get him, Sen. Tester should take a look at the numbers. Montana ranks something like 45th in median income in the U.S. The poverty rate here in Missoula, at least, is 25%. Nationally, 60% of those polled favored ending the tax cuts for the rich.
If we’re going to add to the deficit – and if Tester wants to be able to talk tough on the deficit in 2012 – now is the time to step up. He needs to cast his own path. Get out that Carhartt jacket, walk down on that floor and speak up for working Montanans that worked to put him there.
The rewards would be thousandfold.
Senator Bruce Tutvedt (of Kalispell) is concerned about what language our driver’s test be administered.