Archive for January, 2011
Well, here in a few short weeks the first of three final planned Space Shuttle missions will take place. This, admittedly, has little to do with Montana, but it is very much a part of all of us. After all, for 34 years the Shuttles have been bringing satellites into space, and pulling off what I think is one of the most incredible things man has done.
A while ago I was talking to a younger kid about the Shuttle. I said that it was really cool. He said, “Why? It’s just a plane in space.” And me, I was like, IT’S A PLANE IN SPACE! Don’t you see?! That’s so incredible!!!!!He was not moved by my insistence of how amazing the Shuttle is–he’ll probably be an elected official someday since he can’t see why in the debate about space flight versus killing brown people, space flight should win.
Just think of how special the Space Shuttle is, just for a moment. It is the only vehicle ever created that can travel to space and back, and then back again to space. It is a vehicle that flies around the world faster than anything you’ve ever seen, or been inside of. It stays up THERE. (Look up…. do you see how far that is? No. You don’t. It’s THAT far.) It has delivered many of the things that give us technologies that even 20 years ago were unheard of (Like your GPS? Thanks Shuttle). And, yes, people have died in tragedies, but what we’ve gained is an inspiring symbol, a man-built vehicle that reaches where we cannot, that travels into the black of the vast unknown of our upper atmosphere (which is actually well known, but I’m trying to be poetic).
Without the Space Shuttle we wouldn’t have had the Hubble, which means we wouldn’t have seen this with such clarity (not until years later at least:
I can’t imagine something more incredible. That’s another galaxy. Those are stars and worlds and… wow. There are other worlds beyond us that may have life. We may not be the only life in the vast expanse of space. Those images were brought to us because the good folks of NASA were able to think of, and build, things that 100 years ago would have scared civilization to death.
But that may just be the little boy in me, the one who remembers watching Star Trek: The Next Generation with my Dad; the one who still remembers word-for-word those famous first lines, Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages… I would sit and watch this oddly cheesy, but wonderful show, and think, Someday. Someday they’ll let us up there and we’ll see more of what is beyond us.
Just knowing that in a few short months we’ll be grounding our Shuttle fleet breaks my heart. We’ve got billions to spend on supporting tyrants, killing people, and paying the salaries of 535 Senators and Representatives who represent us (House: $174,00-$223,500; Senate: $174,000-$193,400… average American salary: $26,036, but that’s a different post). We have money to burn when it comes to bailing out ShittyBank.
But when it comes to building something true, and wondrous… Well, our government has to tighten up those purse strings and talk about the deficit (makes us Proles feel like they care about our needs). So, they ground the Space Shuttle. They leave us here on the surface, our necks craned, our chance to be up there taken away, and probably never coming back.
And again, I know people die. But, well, it’s worth it. For this:
Anyway, I thought it appropriate to mention the Shuttle as Discovery makes its way to the launchpad for its final flight.
By now it has become painfully obvious that the American media doesn’t have a clue how to cover what is unfolding in Egypt and the rest of the middle east. Even watching Rachel Maddow’s extensive coverage last night didn’t get into the depth of the issue.
So I poked around and found Al Jazeera’s english live feed. If anybody cares to learn something about this issue, just turn on the feed and watch for a while. It’s illuminating.
I couldn’t find a way to embed the feed, so you’ll have to go to this page:
Update: Great read over at HuffPost by Ryan Grim about how Al Jazeera is blacked out by most corporate content providers in the U.S.:
Canadian television viewers looking for the most thorough and in-depth coverage of the uprising in Egypt have the option of tuning into Al Jazeera English, whose on-the-ground coverage of the turmoil is unmatched by any other outlet. American viewers, meanwhile, have little choice but to wait until one of the U.S. cable-company-approved networks broadcasts footage from AJE, which the company makes publicly available. What they can’t do is watch the network directly.
Other than in a handful of pockets across the U.S. – including Ohio, Vermont and Washington, D.C. – cable carriers do not give viewers the choice of watching Al Jazeera. That corporate censorship comes as American diplomats harshly criticize the Egyptian government for blocking Internet communication inside the country and as Egypt attempts to block Al Jazeera from broadcasting.
The result of the Al Jazeera English blackout in the United States has been a surge in traffic to the media outlet’s website, where footage can be seen streaming live. The last 24 hours have seen a two-and-a-half thousand percent increase in web traffic, Tony Burman, head of North American strategies for Al Jazeera English, told HuffPost. Sixty percent of that traffic, he said, has come from the United States.
[HuffPo UPdate: Dish Network and DirecTV are temporarily allowing subscribers to access Al Jazeera. It can be found on channel 9410 on Dish Network and 375 on DirecTV.]
A billion and a half dollars a year. That is how much cash our government feeds the Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt. Why? Because he’s provided, as Hilary Clinton recently stated, a “stable” government. What does that mean? It means he keeps the domestic rabble pacified while taking our money and fucking over Palestinians. All of that is now in the past tense. Continue Reading »
Look what stunk up my Inbox this morning. I don’t think this needs any further prologue…
The State of the Union called for more government:
While some politicians want to talk about where they were sitting at President Obama’s second State of the Union Address on Tuesday, Montanans care more about how they will vote in the next two years. Americans face many challenges – from high unemployment to the increasing cost of health care and a gallon of gas. In the State of the Union, President Obama made his case for more government solutions. But we’ve already been down that road. It’s a dead end.
Solutions will come from the American people:
There’s a better way forward. Instead of making government bigger, we can unleash the ingenuity of the American people by reducing the size of government, reining in reckless spending and empowering individuals with choices and opportunities. We have more government than we could handle in the last two years, and all it gave us was a bigger debt and fewer jobs. It’s time for government to get out of the way of recovery.
The State of the Union
The average price of a gallon of gas is more than $3. Do you:
– Agree with the President that we should raise taxes on the domestic production of oil?
– Agree with Congressman Rehberg that we should keep all our energy options on the table?
– Other/Not sure
The federal deficit exceeded $1.4 trillion in 2010, adding to a record debt. In the last two years, government spending has exploded. Do you:
– Agree with the President that simply freezing existing levels of overspending will solve the problem?
– Agree with Congressman Rehberg that in order to balance the budget we need to actually reduce spending?
– Other/Not sure
Obamacare is poised to irreversibly change the American health care system to be more like the socialized systems of Canada and Europe. Do you:
– Agree with the President that Washington politicians know better than the American people and that Obamacare is the best way forward?
– Agree with Congressman Rehberg that the Obamacare blueprint should be abandoned in favor of true reform that reduces costs while increasing quality and access?
– Other/Not sure
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(jhwygirl – I’m moving this post back on top as the issue is extremely important to City of Missoula residents. We b’birders went on a roll last night and today it seems, and I don’t want this one to pass by without proper viewing)
There are not a lot of details yet, other than that Mountain/Park Water has finally ponied up and decided, reluctantly, to ask the Montana Public Service Commission to let them sell themselves to the Carlyle Group.
The material was filed at the end of day on Monday, and at close of business today (Tuesday) the PSC had yet to have an electronic version posted.
Once a copy is made available, I will try to get the full details up as soon as possible. What i do know, is that Mountain Water has asked for an expedited hearing, and for the PSC to issue a ruling that they do not have jurisdiction (leave it up to CA, to protect Montanans).
you just can’t ever trust a weasel. or the politicians who work for them. and it looks like MT’s state legislature, just like our congress, is useless when it comes to helping us out of this mess.
that is why we need to start talking now about starting a citizens initiative in this state to create a decent non profit alternative to private health insurance in montana by 2012. i don’t care if we start a whole new pool or just add to the state of montana’s government provided health insurance. all i do know is montana’s workers, small businesses and self employed families cannot afford to wait any longer for decent, reliable health insurance for our small businesses, employees, farmers, ranchers, self-employed workers, sole proprietors, and our families.
the baucus bill written by his friends in the private health insurance industry didn’t fix this. it only made it worse. now, at least until the supreme court declares it unconstitutional, we will be mandated to buy from a poorly regulated and shoddy overcomplicated system which gives private health companies carte blanche to do whatever they want and charge as much as they can get away with.
i am damned tired of it and it is time to rear up on each of our hind legs and let the politicians know that we will enact this ourselves if they don’t have the guts to create a better publicly financed option which is reliable, affordable and reasonable.
i am too damn angry about this to wait for some watered down insurance exchange in fact……come to think of it. i want a simpler alternative…
i am getting tired of dealing with the byzantine shell games played by health insurance weasels in this country. who has time to read all the different contracts written by lawyers to screw us? if our leaders are too chicken then maybe it is time the people took matters into our own hands with a citizens initiative campaign in 2012 to create an alternative of our own.
Capital reporter Mike Dennison is up with a story tonight on the Missoulian State Bureau’s request for a list of all legislators who have signed up for medical benefits – you know, those benefits paid for by state government?
For three weeks now he’s been waiting for a reply from Senate leadership (GOP) and Dennison is reporting that ” the Legislature has denied a request from the Missoulian State Bureau for the names, citing advice from its chief attorney that privacy rights overrule the public’s right to know the names of lawmakers signing up for the benefits.”
Them’s pretty strong words.
He goes on to write: “Jessica Sena, spokeswoman for Senate Republicans, said leadership had considered releasing the information, in response to the Missoulian State Bureau request, but that legal staff had advised that the disclosure would violate federal rules on privacy of medical information.”
I’m guessing that the legal staff he refers to there is not party-associated Republican legal staff.
And interwove in all there is a bill proposed by Sens. Anders Blewett of Great Falls and Kendall Van Dyk of Billings that would disclose which legislators who have signed up for medical benefits from the state.
128 of 150 legislators are signed up for medical benefits. 40 of which are using them to supplement their own benefits.
I’m far more interested in a legal opinion that is claiming some sort of medical confidentiality over the release of state expenditures? Where does the line stop there towards the right of the citizens to know?
Republicans in Helena want fuller micro-accounting transparency on the budget, yet they don’t want the citizens to know what they’re paying for?
No one’s asking for doctor bills or dental xrays.
Boy. Now, if I were Democratic leadership, I’d be releasing a list tomorrow morning of all the Democratic representatives that are taking health benefits. I’d include a huge thank you to the citizens of the state.
And in the meantime, maybe a citizen should appeal on the Attorney General on the whether there is some sort of privacy right involved here. While attorneys for all other agencies (and even county attorneys) work for the AG, the legislative side is an independent branch of government.
I’d sure like to know what Bullock has to say.
It was very encouraging to read the passionate responses here, rushing to defend our dear Denny Rehberg and his of-course-not-hypocritical use of employer provided health care.
but I’m not sure if those defenders are capable of extending their cheerleading to other public workers, who are in the crosshairs (too early?) of the right’s incessant echo chamber.
here’s something from FDL
Public workers have become the new demons ruining America, with their greedy pay and pension benefits. As this video from Brave New Films makes clear, that notion is just a load of crap. Pension benefits are not all that generous for the vast majority of workers; the average benefit for the workers in Prichard, Alabama (who were eventually cut off) was pretty much the size of Social Security, around $1,000 a month. They signed a contract to receive those benefits, a contract singed by both sides, but contracts only matter when they have to do with AIG credit default swaps
so what say you, Denny defenders, can you do it?
Thought I’d put up an open comment thread. Full text of speech below the fold.
Continue Reading »
by Pete Talbot
I was chatting with a friend who’d just returned from Helena. On behalf of Planned Parenthood, she’d gone up there to meet with Missoula’s legislative delegation. It’s a constant battle at the Montana Legislature — allowing Montanans access to sex education and health care and birth control, and maintaining a woman’s right to choose.
All our area legislators were happy to meet with her. All but one: Champ Edmunds, Republican from House District 100. He just flat out refused to meet with her and her contingent of Planned Parenthood board members, progressive clergy and concerned citizens.
When I mentioned this to another area legislator, she was aghast. You may not agree with all of your constituents, she said, but you still meet with them. You listen to them and then say something pithy like, “Thank you for coming and I appreciate your efforts but we’ll have to agree to disagree.”
But not Champ. He won’t even meet with the folks from his home town. Apparently, they finally cornered him in the hallway. Here’s a synopsis from my friend:
He did hear us out in the end, but he didn’t give us much time. His statements can be summarized as follows: he’ll support anything that is pre-conception (education and birth control), but once a woman is pregnant, she just has to tough it out for nine months and give the kid up for adoption. I would be surprised, however, if he does actually support any of the bills that provide support/access/money to women/teens for education and birth control.
I, too, would be surprised if Champ supported any kind of legislation allowing birth control, reproductive education or health care. It’s not his style. I’ll say it again: Champ is a chump.
by Pete Talbot
Bob Brown is a moderate Republican. He ran against Gov. Brian Schweitzer in 2004 but on the heels of Gov. Judy Martz’ abysmal Republican administration, he lost. Before that he served as Montana Secretary of State, and in the state legislature for close to 26 years.
He has a reasoned guest column in the Missoulian. He says that Montana legislators shouldn’t be packing heat in the state Capitol and that 30-round clips should be illegal. This from a card-carrying member of the NRA, a hunter and the owner of a boatload of guns.
His arguments against pistol packing legislators and 30-round clips make sense. But making sense isn’t the strong suit of Republican legislators this session. Republicans said that jobs and the economy were the #1 priority in 2011, but instead they’re more interested in making county sheriffs the last word in law enforcement (SB 114), repealing Montana’s renewable energy standards (HB 244), halting a patient’s right to die with dignity (SB 116), increasing the burden — reducing the size — of the Montana Supreme Court (HB 245), stemming our overwhelming illegal immigration problem (HB 178), calling on the US to withdraw from the UN (SJ 2), prohibiting public employees from serving in the legislature (HB 145) … well, it’s a long list of pedantic bills.
It’s a damn shame that the state’s Republican Party has thrown the likes of Bob Brown under the bus.
As the Montana legislator considers multiple bills concerning Montana’s most notorious cultural trait I’m sure that a lot of people around Montana are happy that this state might be getting a little more serious about DUIs. Most of the proposed bills simply concern minor tweaks to existing DUI laws, such as HB 12 and 146 which both increase penalties for DUIs, or HB 40 which would make immediate search warrants available for the purpose of breath or blood-testing of DUI suspects. Certainly the most controversial and heavy handed proposal is HB 106 which sets up a 24/7 sobriety program for all persons convicted of a second DUI requiring that a person have a sobriety test twice daily. Apparently this approach has worked well in South Dakota. Finding a mechanism that stops people from multiple drunk driving offences is an important step, and who knows… maybe HB 106 is it.
I’m still a bit disappointed that there is not a proposal for permanently suspending someone’s drivers license. Having a suspended license doesn’t necessarily stop a person from driving, but the threat of a lifelong suspension would seem to me to provide a psychological barrier that not a lot of people would want to cross.
There is no arguing the fact that drunk driving is dangerous and costs our society immensely in terms of human suffering, healthcare costs, and insurance premiums. When you consider that 93 people were killed last year because of drunk drivers on Montana’s roadways – almost 2/week – there is not a week that goes by without news of a prominent DUI incident.
Here in Missoula, it just so happens that a large chunk of data was recently compiled spanning the last decade and concerning traffic accidents thanks to the Montana Department of Transportation. During the course of the last decade a total of 26,487 traffic accidents occurred involving 50,726 vehicles while including 1,412 injuries and 177 fatalities. A total of 537, or 2.03% of all accidents, involved at least one drunk driver resulting in 327 injuries and 10 fatalities. So to review, thats 2% of all traffic accidents making up 23% of all injuries and 5.7% of all fatalities.
Taking these numbers and figuring a rate of injuries and fatalities per 1,000 accidents produces a substantial difference when comparing traffic accidents with those involving alcohol. The chance that an accident results in a fatality is three times higher when alcohol is involved, and injuries are well over 30 times as likely to occur when alcohol is involved
Will any of the proposed pieces of legislation actually make a dent in any of these numbers? I guess some of these bills will just have to be passed to find out.
Good god folks. I didn’t actually think this was going to happen, but it is. I can’t believe that. I mean, one night I went out for a drink with some coworkers, came home, tweeted an idea, and… Anyway, MissoulaMoth is finally here.
So… what now? Nerves. A sack of them. If you’re getting up on that stage I want you to know that as nervous as you are, I’m as nervous for you. I’m going to be like your Dad when you were doing something at school. I’ll be sitting there hoping for the best, and wanting the best for you, with my stomach in knots just waiting for your eventual success. It’ll be very familial, but in a good way that doesn’t end in disappointment at a PizzaHut.
I’m still waiting for some folks to get back to me, but so far I’ve got at least 15 commitments. Good god. That’s (and I’m estimating here) 140 minutes of stories. That’s a ton of talk; a metric ton of speechifying for those of you from the other nations of the world. It’s gearing up to be an epic event as far as local story telling is concerned. And fun, it sounds like a great time. I’m reading over little blurbs that folks have sent me and it sounds like a great night to take your mind off work and responsibility, with laughs and, I’m assuming, some moments truly full of heart and reality.
We’ve got stories from a slew of local reporters about everything from the real side of foreign correspondence, to the day Bozeman exploded. Some locals are gearing up to tell stories of lost virginity (A tale described as, “[F]airly family-friendly and … mostly pathetic”), an eye witness account of the 2004 tsunami, a tragic tale of one grandma’s epic fail with a telephone, and even someone’s adventure in hitchhiking to Florida. Other folks, the bravest of the brave, don’t even know what they’re going to say, they’re just going to riff it right then and there in front of a crowd.
What does all of this cost you the would-be attendee? Nothing. There’s no door price at all. You can just come in and watch, and have a good ol’ time. But you should buy stuff from TheBadlander, the fine folks who were willing to house this experiment, and give me carte blanche to sink or swim in full view of the public. They’re not charging you to come in so take that savings, and put it to the bar (even if you’re just buying a glass of Coke or Pepsi).
I don’t know what else to say. I’m nervous, and excited, and I can’t wait to see everyone. We’re going to have a blast.
And if you’re interested and haven’t contacted me, please step forward and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s still time.
is that a powerful whiff of phony coming off of MT rep denny rehberg lately?
the blatant in your face hypocrisy of denny rehberg helping himself to government provided health insurance while opposing the choice of government provided health insurance for the rest of us is just too pungent an odor to ignore.
c’mon denny ferrkrissakes at least try to make it look like you care what the voters think of you……
last year you sued billings fire fighters for putting out a fire on your inherited suburban ranch…..
this year you are a hypocrite because you signed up to use govt provided health care and claim to be against govt provided health.
denny- if you are serious about being against govt provided health care then quit taking your govt provided health care. or you are a hypocrite.
right wing legislators lapping up government provided health insurance while going out of your way to deny the same choice for the rest of us doesn’t improve the smell coming out of helena either.
Before I take another foray into the fringe (or as Pogo un-originally stated, down “the rabbit hole”) I should explain what the term blowback is suppose to mean:
BLOWBACK is the espionage term for the violent, unintended consequences of a covert operation that are suffered by the civil population of the aggressor government. To the civilians suffering it, the blowback typically manifests itself as “random” acts of political violence without a discernible, direct cause; because the public—in whose name the intelligence agency acted—are ignorant of the effected secret attacks that provoked revenge (counter-attack) against them.
No one would ever seriously claim our government doesn’t keeps secrets from us, would they? And by now, post-Wikileaks, it should be glaringly obivious just how much information is deemed necessary to keep from public scrutiny, and because WL has become such a high-profile sensation, the leaks that prove we are systematically being lied to are starting to soak in to popular culture. It’s an undeniable reality.
That said, it’s still difficult for many good citizens to scratch any deeper than acknowledging government deception is endemic. It’s easier to scoff, even when evidence is produced, that very bad people inside our government are up to no good and allowed to operate with impunity. It’s easier to conflate any inquiry into the deeper workings of our governments power-structure with aliens and black helicopters. It’s easier, but dangerously naïve to ignore the proven capabilities of America’s state-sanctioned depravity, and the consequences it presents for us regular plebes hoping Democracy is not as dead as it appears to be.
Okay, enough prefacing. The blowback this post is about has a name, and it’s Ted Kaszynski. Continue Reading »
Hydraulic fracturing gas extraction?
While I’ve written a little (and what the hell do I know other than what I read) about it – but one excellent Montana blog research is The Editor at to get some background on why you should be concerned about fracking here in Montana (and beyond, actually).
Because the what is Montana without its water?
Two Montana grassroots environmental groups watching over the debate in Helena over energy development’s continual encroachment on environmental rules designed to protect our land and water are the Northern Plains Resource Council and the Montana Environmental Information Center. Both of those links will take you directly to their information papers on fracking.
AND – to provide industry-sourced information on fracking (and even a little bit of background noise on the GOP’s cry about how there’s no drilling in this state), check out a major Montana oil & gas lessee holder in the Bakken Reserve: Northern Oil & Gas, Inc. This is their great video explaining the process.
And after watching that, I didn’t feel that it was any safer.
Northern Oil & Gas holds a pretty large number of leases in the Bakken – both here and North Dakota. Why would a company hold a whole bunch of leases and not drill them? Because there’s only so many drills to go around and only so many skilled laborers to go around. Not only that – but housing too. It’s a well-known fact that they can’t even hire people because there is no where for them to live. Companies hold leases because the price of oil is controlled on a larger scale and profit is always important so putting more oil out on the market only hurts profits. Because they have to work out agreements and permits with all sorts of governmental and private entities
So the rumbling that there isn’t any drilling going on in Montana and somehow it’s the fault of the Montana Enviromental Policy Act is a bunch of malarky from corporate welfare lapdogs and the companies that donate to them.
I see I’ve digressed. Blame it on the flu.
Inform yourself on fracking – check out “Gasland” which will be shown in Bozeman Tuesday, January 25th at the Emerson Theater at 6:30 p.m. The cost is $5, and it is sponsored by Northern Plains Resource Council.
Its been official knowledge for some time that Michelle Obama hates America, but now she is taking matters into her own hands and is singlehandedly killing Americans… pedestrians that is.
The big news today flying around cantservative “news” sites and blogs is that Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign – a campaign aimed at fighting childhood obesity through encouraging healthier eating habits and a more active lifestyle – has been linked to an uptick in pedestrian deaths in the first half of 2010. How has this not been called by its proper name yet… an act of terrorism?
The original story appeared in the Washington Examiner this morning in their local section and comes from a recently published report by the Governors Highway Safety Association on PRELIMINARY safety statistics for 2010. The GHSA representative originally quoted in the Examiner story linking the uptick with Let’s Move has already denied saying any such thing.
The fact that this is getting so much traction is mostly because of the absurdity of the claim and the fact that it makes for a great rabble-rousing headline. This doesn’t bother me so much as the fact that a “respected” media outlet doesn’t know how to handle statistics and accurately represent them to the public. As someone who spends most of his workday compiling large amounts of information into databases for the purpose of statistical analysis and mapping the idiocy of the statistical reporting boggled my mind.
The Examiner’s first offence is that data covering six months does not constitute a trend. Four years of data, yes… two years of data, maybe… six months, absolutely not. Additionally, this is a preliminary report which means the numbers are likely to change and they don’t even have a margin of error published yet.
Their second offence was cherry-picking the statistics they reported. The story only talks about the increases in pedestrian deaths and misses a lot of the other information the GHSA report published. Yes deaths were up significantly in the DC area, but on a national level the increase was only seven fatalities, or .4%, a statistically insignificant number when dealing with close to 2000 total fatalities in that six month period. They also failed to mention that 28 states saw pedestrian fatalities decrease while only 18 states saw an increase.
Thirdly, the reporter at the examiner apparently can’t read either, given the fact that the GHSA report’s first sentence states, “The number of pedestrian traffic fatalities in the United States for the first six months of 2010 were essentially unchanged.”
And finally, they missed a bigger story embedded in the report. Just four states make up 41% of all pedestrian deaths – California, Florida, New York, and Texas. Those four states also happen to be the four states with the highest vehicle miles traveled per year, a total coincidence I’m sure.
These are the kinds of quality stories that are produced when the media, politicians, and the public play at gotcha journalism. The Examiner doesn’t care that there is not one bit of useful information in the story, or that there are three or four pieces of misleading information, the only thing they obviously care about is driving traffic to their site and stealing five seconds from our precious attention starved web surfing brains.
Now… back to something useful found on the internet… slip nips over at Huffington Post.
By Jamee Greer
Montana’s future is at risk – TAKE ACTION!
It has only taken three weeks for legislators to make over 200 harmful cuts to our schools, higher education, drug courts, foster care, and prescription drug assistance for seniors – to services that make our communities healthier and safer. Montana’s future depends on maintaining all of these vital services.
These cuts were unnecessary – Montana has enough revenue to fund the programs and services our families, neighbors and communities need the most. Our legislators can afford to invest in the future, keep people working, and protect our neighbors.
Fortunately, there’s still time to tell the legislature to restore funding for important programs and services.
Join us for the Rally to Protect Montana’s Future and make sure our leaders make balanced decisions to protect our essential programs and services.
Where: Montana State Capitol (map)
When: Friday, January 28th
11:30 – SIGN MAKING PARTY at the DPHHS Auditorium
12:00– RALLY on the Capitol Lawn
PLEASE BRING A GLASS JAR WITH A LID FILLED WITH A LITTLE CHANGE IF YOU CAN. LET’S MAKE SOME NOISE!
The Montana PSC is making available salary information today for the parent company of Mountain Water, Park Water Company. I received an advance copy from PSC staff (Copy now available here). The raw numbers are staggering for any business, but when put in the perspective of the risk-neutral business of pumping water, can only be interpreted as pure corporate greed.
Keep in mind that all information relates only to Park Water, and not the folks actually keeping the system running in Missoula or any payroll expenses of Mountain Water Co.
Here are the highlights:
In 2009, the Park Water President received $741,589 in salary (they added a back-up president in 2010, just in case…). Only $287,346 was assigned to direct recovery to customers, 1/3 of which was paid for by Missoulians.
The company needed 6 Vice Presidents to manage three water utilities, each receiving more than $180,000 in salary.
Total payroll expenses that were charged to ratepayers in 2009 were $4,908,315, for 37 employees in California
Missoulians picked up the tab for $1,521,578 of 2009 salary expense.
The salary compensation does not include other benefits (health care, retirement, stock, paid holidays, lunches…)
The corporate secretary’s salary was only $20,213.
Will things be any different under Carlye? I have to think that a paying a senior Vice President only $265,000 would be inappropriately low for the second largest private equity firm in the world. Expect these salaries to go up…
and while our somewhat reading challenged and temporarily stunned gop led legislature tries to bone up on the law upon discovering to their amazement that montana has a constitution…. (bet the bars in helena start really ringing up big bar tabs when they discover that the tea party can’t do everything it wants after all)
it seems that missoula has some bad news…. first- it seems that the infestation is now upon us. (everyone start itching on cue now) use the link below to find places to avoid if anyone still sleeps in motels or hotels anymore. (the s.o. and i always use our lance camper- in fact, i have heard that rv sales are booming with the fear of these critters starting to take hold in the usa…
http://bedbugregistry.com/ rumor has it that several places in our town have them. can’t name them merely on rumor though. sorry.
the size of the potholes exposed in missoula streets after the last melt is quite impressive, even to this bear. i drive BIG TRUCKS and even those wheels aren’t reaching the bottom of some of them. (anyone check to see if limestone caverns exist beneath missoula? because i swear i saw a le petite outre truck completely disappear on 5th street
and last but not least we have someone who really really believes in display advertising claiming the end days are near…..
by Pete Talbot
There’s a reason why we have two sets of laws for criminal activity: one for adults and one for kids. As I understand it, adults have a better understanding of right and wrong, and need to be held accountable for their actions. Kids, on the other hand, don’t have quite as developed a sense of the consequences of their actions.
That’s why we don’t straddle kids with the same sentences that are handed down to adults. It’s why, if a kid keeps his or her nose clean after committing a crime in their youth, we tend to expunge their records. That way, maybe the kid can grow up to have a productive life without the stigma of a criminal record.
Rep. Janna Taylor (R-Dayton) wants 16-and 17-year-olds convicted of vehicular homicide while under the influence to do hard time — say, 30 years in the state pen.
Granted, Montana has a serious DUI problem. The legislature has a number of bills in the hopper that will address this issue but this particular bill is as bad as it is ineffective:
“It is very questionable whether laws like these would have a deterrent effect,” said Niki Zupanic of the ACLU of Montana. “We are now piling on more and more crimes and pushing more and more juveniles into an adult corrections system.”
Just another example of compassionate conservatism: instead of educating our kids to the dangers of driving impaired, wait until they’ve killed somebody, send them to Deer Lodge and then throw away the key.
My aunt died yesterday after more than three decades of various illness. She was 64.
Alice Marie was a paraplegic who underwent two separate mastectomies and enough chemotherapy to kill a rhino; a woman who faced more illness than seven average people ever will. And she did it without ever losing her hope, or her faith. She continuously said that God and Jesus loved her, and would tell us that she would get better. As a person with no faith, she was always a confusing source of hope for me. I would sit there and marvel that she wasn’t cursing her god, an activity I partake in despite not believing in her god. Watching her go through so much — she was never well at any point in my life — was always painful, and yet, as much as it hurt, it taught my that a person can tackle anything, if they are strong enough.
And goddamnit was she strong. She defied odds again and again (example: a brain surgery that she was given a two percent chance of surviving). Then week ago she was forced to say that, in fact, she was not going to get better this time. I have never heard a woman more sad to let go of life.
But this isn’t about her. I mean, it is, but I really just want to direct you toward a statewide group that I’ve known about for years because of Alice Marie’s involvement. Essentially, and I am really not giving it its due, the Montana Hope Project is a Make-a-Wish type organization for just the state of Montana. It started in 1984 when a group of Highway Patrol troopers pooled some funds together to help a sick kid, and over the years it has granted more and more wishes for sick kids around our state. A friend of mine from childhood was sent to a Miami Dolphins game, for instance. That made his all too short life all the better.
I know that most of you never met my aunt, and you don’t have to feel sad, or anything really about her dying–she was loved by enough of us in her life. I’d be remise, however, if I didn’t tell you about the Hope Project as it was so close to her heart, and brought her so much joy. And more than that it helps bring some joy to kids who, we can all agree, need a little hope. If you are looking for something to kick a few sheckles to the Hope Project is a good group to choose. See that teddy bear up there? The Hope Project sells those. I own one. They are soft, and friendly and when you hug one you know you’re helping a kid who needs it.
replace the word vietnam with iraq and afhanistan and the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr ring true today. it is truly time to stop the madness.
“…..Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak of the — for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours…..”
“…….It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin…we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered……”
William Stafford was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, in 1914. He spent four years during World War II in a conscientious objector camp. Later he taught at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and was poet laureate of that state for several years. He died in 1993
The poem I’ve selected is one I’ve wanted to post here for awhile, but it seems more timely now than ever. (A quick note on form: I haven’t figured out how to indent lines, so it’s important to note that the single word lines are actually indented about four spaces. If anyone knows how to accomplish this, I would love to know.)
A RITUAL TO READ TO EACH OTHER
If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the
and following the wrong god home we may miss
For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of
storming out to play through the broken dike.
And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.
And so I appeal to a voice, to something
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the
For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to
the signals we give—yes or no, or maybe—
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.
“For it is a strange thing, but apparently true, that those who speak speak rather for the pleasure of speaking against than for the pleasure of speaking with, and the reason for that is perhaps this, that in agreement the voice cannot be raised quite so high as it can in disagreement.” — Samuel Beckett, Watt.
(this quote and pic was provided by Tin House in their tweet today – from the following link) http://www.tinhouse.com/blog/?p=6506/wisdom-coupon-beckett/books/events/general/magazine/workshop
I just wanted to say thank you to all the courteous Missoula drivers out on the road this winter. So often the only time people discuss roads or traffic is to complain about how bad drivers, rude behavior, or idiotic design.
Almost everyday this winter I have been out there cycling in the less than optimal road conditions among motorists that have been nothing but respectful and patient. Even when I’m forced into the middle of a travel lane to avoid chunks of ice that could easily send my flying out of the seat of my two wheeled contraption people have been understanding.
Winter might just be my favorite time to be out on the road cycling; there is nothing quite like the feeling of freshly fallen snow under the tires as the sun just starts to peak it’s morning rays past the top of Mt Sentinel. So again, thank you all for not ruining that sense of wonder with the sound of a blaring car horn.
Looks like it’s official – State Senator Verdell Jackson whipped up a tale to suite his agenda – or, as Pete posed, perhaps Gary Marbut, leader, lobbyist, and one-man-band of the Montana Shooting Sports Association.
For all the criticism all kinds of people on both sides of the aisle took on, most of that was in the heat of the moment. Jackson spun his tale Monday morning, two days after the tragic events of Saturday morning. What’s his excuse?
Capitalizing on a tragedy to further a pro-gun agenda for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Beyond reason, really – remember, Verdell is against having metal detectors in the Capital.
No need to go figure. Just remember that as he and his buddies justify their actions this session.