Archive for March, 2011

scum sucking eels

by problembear

after sturgeon fishing on the columbia one day below bonneville dam, everyone was too tired from staying awake all weekend to properly clean out my brother’s live well in his sled before parking it behind the welding shop and forgetting about it during the hottest part of summer.

about six weeks later,  it was time to get ready to do some salmon fishing. while jim backed up the ford to the trailer hitch i noticed a smell and lifted up the live well hatch and found the eels we had used for bait about forty days ago.

that smell was preferable to the one emanating from this scum sucker.

by jhwygirl

Pete did the first post on tomorrow’s No Fooling With Our Future rally in Helena at the state capital.

Here’s the information release, which contains bus information for around the state:

JOIN US FOR THE NO FOOLING WITH OUR FUTURE RALLY!

The legislature has cut funding to vital state services including education, health and human services, and public safety.
THESE CUTS WILL MEAN LOST JOBS, AND THE MOST VULNERABLE MONTANANS WILL SUFFER
We must demand legislators
REVERSE THE CUTS!

What: NO FOOLING WITH OUR FUTURE RALLY!

When: FRIDAY APRIL 1, 2011, NOON (12 p.m)

Where: CAPITOL STEPS – HELENA MONTANA

Who: union members, community leaders, neighbors, teachers, firefighters, faith leaders, nurses, snowplow drivers, health workers, business owners, conservationists, women, professors, childcare providers, cowboys, veterans – EVERYONE WILL BE THERE TO FIGHT TO PROTECT VITAL STATE SERVICES!

TRANSPORTATION AVAILABLE FROM AROUND THE STATE

No Fooling with Our Future Rally
Friday, April 1st

Rally Day Schedule— No Fooling with our Future!
10 MEA-MFT office open- North side of the Capitol
11 Sign making and sign in on Capitol lawn, businesses provide coffee & rolls
11 Rally speakers meeting
11:10 Rally music starts
12:15 Rally speakers start
1-1:30 Rally goers circle the capitol carrying signs, chanting, led by drummers
2 Buses from out of town depart from Capitol area- East side of the Capitol

Music schedule
11:10 Music
11:40 Amanda & Kevin Curtis
11:50 Bob Brock
12:00 Drumming circle (from Helena Indian Alliance) Jeremy Red Eagle
12:10 Larry & Marco drum to announce start of speakers
Speakers
12:15 Speakers start

Rally adjourns by 1:45 pm. Folks will load back on the bus with a sack lunch provided by 2 pm.

Bus schedule and departure times
All buses will be leaving Helena at 2pm to return. Sack lunches will be provided on the bus upon departure- Courtesy of Organized Labor.

Billings
Leaving from the Home Depot Parking lot at 7:30 am
Bozeman
Leaving from the Target Parking Lot at 9:30 am
Butte
Leaving for the Butte Plaza Mall parking lot at 10:00 am
Great Falls
Leaving from the Labor Temple on 11th Ave at 10:00 am
Havre
Leaving at 8:00 am form the Old Gary & Leo’s IGA Parking Lot on First Street
Kalispell
Leaving at 7:30 am from the Rosaeur’s Parking lot –will pick up overflow crowd in Missoula.
Missoula
Leaving from the Target Parking Lot at 9:00 am and the overflow list from the Park and Ride at Eastgate 9:15 am

Please RSVP for a bus seat now–call Molly at 406-529-8497 or sign-up on online here: http://www.mea-mft.org.

by lizard

The will of the voter? So 7 years ago, they say, as SB423 sputters tonight, leaving repeal the only actionable option left.

So after NO action in 2005, 2007, and 2009, the fear-mongering reactionaries in Helena are going to try to kill the will of the voters, spit in the faces of patients who benefit from medicinal pot, destroy jobs and taxable revenue, and simultaneously make legal drug dealers (pharmaceutical companies) and black market dealers very happy.

After wading through the raging commentary around this issue, I think I’ve been able to identify the major mistake some proponents of medicinal marijuana made to cause this fear-based backlash: they assumed voter support and the election of Obama signaled a “green” light to establish an industry that would grow and flourish as easily as the plants this industry cultivates.

So they made BIG mistakes, like–gasp!–advertising in newspapers and on billboards. And they had the audacity to create actual storefronts, some with windows. Even worse, they made profit. It’s all very disturbing behavior. I mean, how dare these businesses act like businesses.

I mentioned illegal drug dealers being happy with the prospect of repeal, and maybe some of you scratched your heads. Well, as an active consumer of black market marijuana, I can tell you prices have come down because medicinal supply combined with a shift in demand from illegal users to legal cardholders dropped the price of an eighth of an ounce $5-$10. Forcing everyone back to the black market will probably see that trend dissolve.

It’s my humble opinion that bad PR generated by a few bad apples in the MM community has resulted in sensationalist-to-survive newspapers like the Missoulian jumping on the anti-medicinal marijuana bandwagon. In that vein, Jason Christ has been a disaster for the budding MM industry, and a godsend to the Missoulian. It’s like every time this train-wreck screws up, a Devlin grabs her pitchfork.

So what happens next? And what will Brian do if repeal awaits his ink? Is he willing to add more pain to the state’s fiscal woes, more pain to patients who need their medicine, and give a big gift to Big Pharma and black market dope dealers?

by jhwygirl

That headline is not true – Republicans, of course, rejected a Democrat amendment that would have struck “gold” from Rep. Bob Wagner’s gold standard bill, HB513, and replaced it with a “Coal Standard”.

Hell, even I can laugh about that – and think of how much I rage against Otter Creek.

Great Falls Tribune Supermontanareporter John S. Adams has the story – and video – at his blog, The Lowdown. You really must read it.

I admit I didn’t take the time to get through the whole thing last night – but it is really worth the time to read it all and watch that video.

Hollywood should be paying attention at this point. Frankly, maybe some reality tv producer can come in to Helena and if enough legislators sign on, maybe Montana could afford those fresh local farm veggies for the school kids.

by jhwygirl

Funny. New story up late last night on the free-gun-with-Dish Satellite guy who franchises a Radio Shack down in Hamilton Montana.

Seems he didn’t work things out with Radio Shack or Dish Network – neither sound too happy.

But free-gun-with-Dish Satellite guy is pushing on, saying he isn’t going to stop. He changed his Radio Shack sign, but he’s now added the name of the website he created to explain the offer: getagun dot net.

Not only that – he said that he was planning on using DirectTV satellite as the next offer, while a company spokesperson has said ‘No thanks.’

Even more? Free-gun-with-Dish Satellite guy is planning on lowering the qualifications for the free firearm.

What to say…what to say?

I’d really really love to hear why Radio Shack and Dish Network and DirectTV are wrong to tell him he has to stop. Any conservatives want to justify that one?

by jhwygirl

I got nothing, really, against guns. I don’t want to take anyone’s gun away and I believe people have a right to own guns.

What I also think is that we have a bunch of gun-worshiping advocate freaks in this state that push dangerous legislation. I think if you want to open carry in your walk around the neighborhood (or the Capitol, for that matter) you are a little bat-crap crazy.

Unless, perhaps, you live up Nine Mile, or Red Lodge or Sula. Not carrying a gun under certain conditions might be just plain stupid.

That being said, I’m going out on a limb here and saying that I bet this guy is one of those gun-worshiping advocates.

You know – the Radio Shack Dish Network satellite guy down in Hamilton giving a free gun away with any dish?

So that story hit the paper on Friday…this morning, I see it on CNN. Not only that Mr. Radio Shack is saying the name “Dish Network” on CNN.

Nice

Then, later in the day I read true-blue Irishman Peter McCay on twitter that his sister called him from the land of Eire asking if “the offer was good in Libya.”

Later, got a link for Belfast Telegraph

Sweet, huh?

Later in the day, Whitney Bermes, local government reporter for the Ravalli Republic (and first reporter on the free-gun-with-satellite-dish story) was back interviewing Mr. Radio Shack again, and guess what? The BBC called.

And, just to complete my twitter-as-news research, I put “Montana gun” in the twitter search and came up with so many tweets with so many news stories from around the world, I could only wonder how long the guy is going to continue giving out gun certificates.

There’s a wealth of comments in there with “only in Montana” and “redneck” and references to incest and marrying cousins and stuff. Do make sure to take a read.

by Pete Talbot

Montana’s governor isn’t Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker.  And there aren’t quite the same union-busting laws being advanced by either the executive or legislative branch here in Montana.  But there’s potential for a Wisconsin-like rally on Friday, April Fool’s Day, in Helena.

This is very apropos, considering the many foolish bills, radical cuts and a special session offered up by the Republican majority during this legislature.

The rally is scheduled from noon to 1 p.m. at the Capitol.  Here’s some background from the Havre Daily News.

One of the organizers of the event, Molly Moody, said the rally represents union members, community leaders, neighbors, teachers, firefighters, nurses, snowplow drivers, health workers, business owners, conservationists, cowboys, police officers …

No one is sure what the turnout will be yet.  Buses are being chartered in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Havre, Great Falls, Kalispell and Missoula, so I’m betting it’s larger the March 3 Tea Party rally. I know I’m going.

Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Because we elect people like Rep. Alan Hale, of Basin Montana. Legislators that have no problem standing up for the right to drink and drive.

If case you missed the action on the floor of the Montana House today, here’s a cut of Rep. Hale championing drinking and driving as “a way of life that has been in Montana for years and years,” and that all the laws aimed at cracking down on DUI’s are destroying small business.

There is so much wrong with that statement – can’t call it logic – that I honestly don’t know where to begin.

Certainly Hale was squalling his war cry for more than just himself? A majority of voters in Basin and Boulder and House District 77 support this point of view?

Or was Rep. Alan Hale purely serving his own economic interests?

Supermontanareporter John S. Adams, at his blog The Lowdown points out that Hale owns a bar.

It’s not hard to put together…especially when bill passed the volatile GOP-controlled House 88-12.

So Hale put out the last hail that only his ale-loving mind could put out: It’s anti-business!

He probably could have gotten a few more votes if he had said that he had personally talked to several tavern and bar and restaurant owners and all of them had personally told them that they were going to have to close up shop.

I hope the people of Boulder and Basin and the rest of House District 77 that elected this neanderthal remember Rep. Hale’s priorities come 2012: Business and profit over lives and safety of both the general public and the drunk driver.

Don’t miss Pogie on Rep. Hale’s pro-DUI speech, either.

Honestly? I’m kind of embarrassed for all of my Republican friends. When they do talk about what is happening up there, they’re embarrassed.

I’d say that Rep. Hale isn’t helping things in that department.

On that note – has Rep. Knox yet remembered whether he’s ever sold marijuana before? You’d really think he’d want to clear that up.

~~~
I also want to say “HA” to all of you who criticized me for saying that drinking and Montana is a way of life here and that the culture has to change. If I recall I was accused of overstating the issue.

Think of the comfort level Hale had today (misguided as it were) as he stood there on the floor championing drinking and driving. Mind boggling.

Or not.

by jhwygirl

CBS news 60 Minutes still does some really good investigative pieces – still knocking on doors, getting shut out and yelled at and all that good stuff.

This week, Leslie Stahl had the tough work of heading to Zug Switzerland, a town about half the size of Missoula. Zug is a rising corporate tax haven, with I-forget-how-many U.S. corporations headquartered there despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of their employees are in the United States, as is their CEO’s and chairpersons and board members

If you have the time, take the 13 minutes or so to watch this segment. It’s worth it, especially if you need to get some blood moving.

A shorter piece has economist Martin Sullivan explaining how U.S. corporations are shifting their profits overseas. Sullivan knows tax policy, having worked in the the Treasury and on the staff of the Joint Finance Committee. He is also an advocate for a airer, simpler, and more economically efficient tax system.

Because, you see, it is all about profit and the stockholders. Patriotism, duty and pride in country have nothing to do with what a corporation’s function or goal would be.

And don’t get me started on moral obligation.

Maybe the stockholders should provide the infrastructure and military power to these corporations here in the good old secure and militarily stable U.S of A. – you know, the one’s benefiting from these corporations.

Me? I’m tired of my tax dollars subsidizing the wallets of a select few and their stockholders.

by jhwygirl

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-Va.) delivered the GOP’s weekly address on Saturday, delving in to what he believes is the constitutional issue of health care reform. The Hill has the story, and the video.

I do believe that in almost all situations we all have something common….and McDonnell’s position is certainly one I agree with:

Regardless of party, we should all agree that the sooner we know if the law is constitutional, the better for the American people.

In fact, I really wish the Montana legislature took a look at this when they were proposing bills. It’d be really nice if any bill had some sort of constitutional review (for both the U.S. and the Montana constitutions) before any hearing in committee.

Sometimes there will be a comment – if there is a fiscal note produced – regarding legal issues. But not everything gets a fiscal note – and hell, even a lot of bills related to taxation don’t seem to get fiscal notes. I know I’ve heard hearings on tax related bills where there hasn’t been a fiscal note published. How in the hell is the public supposed to comment on bills when even a rudimentary analysis isn’t completed by the non-partisan legislative staff?

That way we’d have some reasonable assumptions about lawsuits that the state would have to defend in the future? I mean – that costs taxpayer dollars too.

Ahh, I’ve digressed…

Anyways…if I could propose a bill, it’d be that one – require any bill to have a informational review for constitutionality prior to committee hearing. That informational review should be required to be published….and not stuck in some “junk folder” in some back file.

by jhwygirl

25 American mayors around the U.S. signed a letter off to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlining their concerns over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport Canadian Tar Sands oil.

I’m pretty sure our council has a resolution out regarding the transport of the big rigs for the nasty dirty Tar Sands…and I’m pretty sure it does, in part, refer to the overall impacts of the extraction. Seems Missoula should be continuing to represent its opinion in these matters.

In other news, the state department recently announced that it would be doing a supplemental EIS on the pipeline.

Let’s hope Missoula provides official public input.

One fact they’ll have to look at?

The firms involved have asked the U.S. State Department to approve this project, even as they’ve told Canadian government officials how the pipeline can be used to add at least $4 billion to the U.S. fuel bill.

U.S. farmers, who spent $12.4 billion on fuel in 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, could see expenses rise to $15 billion or higher in 2012 or 2013 if the pipeline goes through.

At least $500 million of the added expense would come from the Canadian market manipulation.”>

Let’s hope our Senator Jon Tester is looking out for Montana’s agricultural community on this one – and saying “NO” to this pipeline.

Criminal

by lizard

I have been a recreational user of marijuana for about 16 years, and I’m 32, so that means half my life (thankfully I am still capable of doing rudimentary math). And from what I’ve read, it’s people like me who are to blame for this state’s out-of-control MM industry.

As the debate in Montana rages about the medicinal application of cannabis, it seems criminals like me are always drug through the mud by culture warriors who hate pot and all the cultural baggage it carries. They warn us the whole “medicinal” scheme is really just a smoke-screen for all us nefarious imbibers of the weed, so while there may be a few medically legitimate beneficiaries of this wonder plant, people like me make repeal a necessity.

I should acknowledge that speaking this frankly and publicly about my experience with an illegal substance is probably not a good idea, but I decided to write this post because there is a huge often unspeakable world of marijuana use in our current societal set-up that doesn’t get expressed precisely because of the continued war on a plant and those who use it. We are, after all, criminals.

But when the hype around the devil weed dissipates, what I see are the vast majority of people I know who have smoked pot at some point in their life no longer partaking with any regularity, for a variety of reasons. Maybe they don’t like the paranoia that too often accompanies being stoned, rendering them useless at social gatherings. Or maybe they have jobs where usage is a dangerous liability. For whatever reason, most of the people I know who once dabbled with pot, no longer do. And I suspect other folks might say the same about their circle of friends.

Inevitably the culture warriors who are the most rabidly opposed to any erosion of our federal status-quo marijuana prohibition shriek and gnash their teeth about the dangerous sway this evil substance has over the youth. And that’s a hard position to argue against, so that’s not what I’m going to try to do.

What I would like to do is put marijuana use into the broader context of the wide array of both legal and illegal substances available to tweens and young adults, making their substance use a much broader conversation that should include other dangerous things, like alcohol, pills, and texting.

But doesn’t that conversation distract from what we, the supposed adults, are trying to reconcile right now with medicinal marijuana reform?

The main reason the nullifiers are so adamant about repeal is because they know the message of state-sanctioned medicinal use of marijuana will further undermine what wicked forces like Hollywood have already undermined with movies like Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle.

Maybe some part of them knows prohibition is a joke, yet the thought that any legitimate profit is made from the actual sale of actual marijuana drives them crazy.

But at the end of the day I would have to say this is a cultural/generational war, and the collateral damage are the people who really do, for medical reasons, need access.

Meanwhile, I’m still a criminal for feeding cash to the tendrils of a black market that will exist no matter what the culture warriors decree in Helena.

by Pete Talbot

General Electric makes a $5.1 billion profit in the U.S. and pays nothing in taxes.  It actually gets a $3.2 billion tax credit.

Is this the Republican tax policy?

Man, things are definitely askew.  Not enough money for education, the poor, kids and seniors.  Gosh, I wonder why.

Here’s the story in the NY Times.


by lizard

I picked up a used copy of Simon Ortiz’s collection of poems, entitled Out There Somewhere last week, and in thumbing through I ran across a poem featuring a familiar landscape and a familiar character who many of you in Missoula will probably recognize.

*

PAST POEMS

Where are the Indians in this crummy town?

My temptation is to go up to the first white man I see
and say, “Where are all the Indians in your crummy town?”

One of the hills overlooking Missoula has a big white M painted on it.
And another hill not far away has a big L.

Once in a poem I wrote there were Indians everywhere.
Maybe I was wrong. Maybe it isn’t true.

In another poem in another crummy town I wrote
“I just want to climb that hill, cross the next river,
go through that clump of trees, and see the earth new again”
or something like that. But a good poem.

Maybe I was wrong.

An older white man at the corner of Higgins & Main mumbles
incoherently and hollers very loudly, “Burn!”

“Burn!” Very loudly. Then more incoherent mumbles.
And then “Burn!” even more loudly, in fact, yelling this time.

When I walk by him close to the curb I see he has a worn Bible
clutched tightly in a skinny hand held at his side.
His other hand waving weakly seems detached somehow.

I find myself trembling with a mix of fear, compassion, love.

Love? And compassion? Yes. And I know I was not wrong.

Looking past a tall bank building I see the hillsides again.
They’re there, painted with the M and the L, theyre there.

A poem I wrote called “Claiming Territory” says it was easy
to cross prairie hills, see all that land, proclaim “This is mine!”
The prairies and rivers did not say anything.
The mountains and hills did not say anything.
Everything was astounded and quieted in dismay.

Earlier that day on my way from the airport to the hotel,
the airport van driver said, “You see new stuff everywhere.
Everywhere you look new construction is going on.”

I wonder about that Wisconsin Horse standing quietly
looking through the chain-link fence watching
and watching America building something else.

That was just a poem I tell myself; it was just a poem.

Later, on my walk back to the hotel in Missoula, I don’t see
the white man with the Bible who was yelling “Burn” loudly
and strangely I miss his stark avenging presence.

“Why?” I ask myself. And answer myself: He’s the man
who would have told me where all the Indians were.

by problembear

the following bill was tabled yesterday. a blast vote was attempted to get it to the floor. it failed 35-58. it was a very modest bill which would have helped our neighbors struggling with the ongoing effects of a very cruel and long recession.

the Montana republican party should hang it’s collective head in shame for this vote.

surely, most montanans would have wanted this legislature to spend this relatively small amount of money to at least make a gesture toward helping those coping with job loss and poverty so that we might at least make sure they and their children not go to bed hungry.

thanks to some oblivious mean-spirited people who have plenty to eat every day, this meannness won the day for now. let’s all hope someone in helena regains some sense of decency and reinstates this modest bill. otherwise, thanks to these so-called leaders, montana is not a state we can be proud of anymore.

HOUSE BILL NO. 221

INTRODUCED BY DICK BARRETT

A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: “AN ACT APPROPRIATING FUNDS FOR THE EMERGENCY FOOD SYSTEM; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.”

WHEREAS, unemployment and increased housing, fuel, and food costs have made it more difficult for low-income Montanans to feed their families; and

WHEREAS, Montana’s emergency food assistance programs have seen first-hand the effect of these increasing costs, documenting 909,430 total client visits in 2009; and

WHEREAS, the number of client visits includes repeat visits, with an average of 8.3 repeat visits in 2009, representing 109,681 individual Montana households; and

WHEREAS, the number of repeat visits to food banks, soup kitchens, rescue missions, faith-based pantries, and other providers reflects a chronic need in the emergency food system.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:

NEW SECTION.  Section 1.  Appropriation. (1) There is appropriated from the general fund to the department of public health and human services $1 million a year in each year of the biennium beginning July 1, 2011, to obtain and distribute food to Montanans and to strengthen the emergency food system by contracting with emergency food assistance programs that have experience distributing food on a statewide basis. The funds must be used as follows:

(a) $150,000 in each year of the biennium for operational and administrative costs to transport food to Montana communities; and

(b) $850,000 in each year of the biennium to purchase additional food for the emergency food system. Of this amount, $25,000 must be used each year to buy or process Montana food products.

(2) The department may not use the appropriation to cover any of the department’s administrative costs.

NEW SECTION.  Section 2.  Effective date. [This act] is effective July 1, 2011.


By CFS

A friend passed on this juicy rumor today.  Supposedly Mr. Heavy Haul himself, head of the Montana Department of Transportation, will be throwing his hat into the race to replace Schweitzer.

His platform you ask?  Economic development and jobs.  He can claim to have brought $87 million to the state, created jobs, and supported the extractive industry through his approval of the High Wide Load Corridor.  Before the MDT he was worked for Oldcastle Materials, a supplier of road materials. So… Jim knows roads.

While the High Wide Loads would probably play a big part of his campaign, both from prospective supporters and opponents, he also has a record while at MDT for supporting the development of anti-DUI programs and back in 2007 he tentatively given his support to the resumption of Amtrak service in the southern part of the state… but a lot has changed in the political landscape in the intervening 4 years.

by jhwygirl

The theme “Even MORE National Media Attention Courtesy MTGOP” is getting old, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to to anywhere.

If FOXnews is using “Bat-Crap” and “Montana” in the same headline – quoting Democratic Governor Schweitzer, nonetheless – honestly, you really should reconsider things.

Who’s running that ship? Will Deschamps? Yoy.

Not only that – if FOXnews is explaining one of your crazy bills – HB278 – this way, you should maybe go crawling back in the cave you came from:

Schweitzer did not mention Montana House Bill 278, which would authorize creating armed citizen militias able to repel invaders, presumably war-like Canadians.

Rep. Wendy Warburton, I’m sure, is proud.

by Pete Talbot

Special session?

There are rumors in Helena that this session could end early.  It’s all coming down to the budget, now, and since the Republicans aren’t accepting any amendments or, really, compromising on anything, their budget proposal will head straight to the governor. Schweitzer will veto it.  That pretty much guarantees an early out — I’ve heard April 2 instead of the scheduled April 21 end date — and a special session.  Thanks, GOP, for not reaching across the aisle and getting the people’s business done in 90 days … and costing the state more money in a special session.

Champ is still a chump

They don’t mind spending money on a special session but are loathe to spend money on children, Montana college kids, seniors and the poor.  Republican Champ Edmunds (HD-100) has a letter to the editor today that plays fast-and-loose with the facts-and-figures in explaining the Republican budget.

A more accurate description comes from Democrat Carol Williams (SD-46):

“The Governor’s budget is balanced, funds critical services and maintains the second largest savings account in Montana history.  The Republican budget is balanced on the backs of women, children and seniors.  Republicans took an ax to the budget when we have money in the bank,” she said.  “I had hoped that we would be able to say to Montana’s families: we’re going to take care of your children if they get sick, make sure you put food on your table, and keep your homes warm.  But the Republican majority turned a deaf ear to the pleas of Montanans who came before the committee asking for services to be restored.”

Here are some of the facts:

* $206.2 million in cuts to the Montana families, kids, students, and seniors

* $49 million eliminated from Medicaid which would result in 4,084 babies losing coverage.

* $34.9 million cut from SNAP/Food Assistance impacting 53,000 kids, 30,000 seniors, and 42,000 adults who would go without food benefits for two months.

* $35 million rejected in healthcare information technology for 47 critical access hospitals in rural areas across the state.

* $26 million slashed from Healthy Montana Kids that would boot 5,000 children off of health insurance.

* $9.6 million removed from LIEAP that will force 12,000 families to go without heating assistance the next two winters.

* $4.7 million cut from family services eliminating services used by over 27,000 Montana families every year for healthcare, screenings and reproductive care.

* $32 million in cuts to higher education, which will result in a tuition increase of 26% over the next two years.

Williams added that with the $174.2 million in cuts to the Health and Human Services budget, Republicans turned back over $80 million in federal money, which could go to other states.  She also noted that the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana estimates that for every $10 million cut in healthcare, about 144 jobs are lost.  These cuts could result in a loss of over 2,508 healthcare jobs.

The tale of two headlines

I’ve been visiting the Magic City of Billings and reading the Billings Gazette. Here was the Front Page, above the fold, headline on Sunday:

Poll: Tightening up medical marijuana law preferable to repeal

When I checked my hometown paper, the Missoulian, here was its Front Page headline:

Most Favor Repeal

And it had a subhead that read: Lee Newspaper poll shows that 52 percent support dumping law.

Here’s the story, and while the Missoulian headline is technically correct, if you read the entire piece you’ll notice that if not given any other choice, yeah, Montanans would be in favor of a repeal. But, if given the option, 57 percent backed stricter regulations and licensing requirements, while 31 percent wanted to repeal the law and 11 percent favored keeping the current law intact.  So basically, 68 percent don’t favor repeal.

The Gazette got it right.  Missoulian: that’s lazy headline writing.

Molnar screws Missoula

I was pleasantly surprised when two of the three Republicans on the PSC voted to allow the Clark Fork Coalition “intervenor status” in the review of Mountain Water’s sale to the Carlyle Group, a private global investment firm.  Republicans Bill Gallagher and Travis Kavulla joined Democrats Gail Gutsche and John Vincent in the votes.  Volatile Republican Brad Molnar voted against CFC in intervening on behalf of Missoula water drinkers saying, “it’s a purchase issue and they don’t have standing.”  Thanks, four out of five, for voting (initially at least) in Missoula’s interest.  The Garden City needs all the friends it can get while battling this international conglomerate.

Some newspaper kudos

I’m one of the first to throw brickbats at our state’s newspapers. We are, however, extremely fortunate to have veteran Lee Newspaper reporters Mike Dennison and Chuck Johnson covering the state capitol.  An unscientific poll over at LiTW (you’ll have to scroll down a little) has blogs being the first source for information on the Montana Legislature — among bloggers, naturally.  That’s a nice ego stroke but I still continue to turn to seasoned reporters as my first source for news and analysis. Then I go to the blogs.  (I particularly respect anything Dennison writes on health care issues.  His Montana perspective on the effects of the national health care debate has been Pulitzer Prize calibre IMHO.)

John Adams of the Great Falls Tribune has done some outstanding legislative reporting although I don’t follow him as much.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day.  Same with Montana Public Radio.  Thank you, all, and keep up the good work.

by jhwygirl

Otter Creek is never going to get mined. All Arch Coal wants is to be able to run a railroad through it, to get it to the port it owns a third of. to export the stuff to China.

That is, please note, the second port agreement for Arch is less than a month.

If that isn’t colonialism, I don’t know what is.

We’re waving traffic flags for $10/hour for Korean-built drilling equipment for China….and we’re condemning state federal and private property for a railroad to get it there.

Nice.

State Attorney General Steve Bullock talked about the economics of the bonus payment in relation to the amount of money that Arch will save immediately by shipping its coal across Montana with the railroad it’d be building (via eminent domain) in the Tongue River Basin. His staff researched that information pretty thoroughly.

How is that for an example of fine government coal subsidy on the backs of the taxpayers of Montana?

And keep in mind that Montana’s coal isn’t the quality of stuff that Wyoming has. That’s fact.

That $80 million so-called “bonus bid”? Nothing more than shush money to members of both parties for paving the way to a situation that has brought about ridiculous destructive environmental legislation in the name of “jobs”.

What’s even more hilarious is that the feds are complicit in this – the federal Surface Transportation Board has already approved the route and has told Montana (translate, so no one misses it: State’s Rights) Fish Wildlife & Parks to figure things out over the route that crosses a federally-funded sturgeon fishery.

Someone’s getting rich. It won’t be Montanan’s, you can bet on it.

Follow the money.

by jhwygirl

Montana Rep. Kristen Hansen’s pro-discrimination bill, HB516 was pulled from second reading today and referred back to committee with a 44-4 vote on the Senate floor.

Interesting.

by jhwygirl

In a post titled “Profiting from Hypocrisy“, blogger montanafesto exposes the troubled hypocrisy of Rep. James Knox and his pro-repeal medical marijuana stance. First the video:

Read montanafesto’s post. Rep. James Knox offered his services to a medical marijuana business, at a greatly discounted price because his business “was slow.”

There’s more – montanafesto takes Knox on in Facebook…and now, apparently, an email has been removed from the website because Knox was threatening his lawyers.

Neither here nor there, now…the Billings Gazette has picked up the story.

Wonder if Knox has threatened to sue them, too?

~~~~~~~
So all this insane personal intrusion schizophrenic state-rights/anti-state rights Montana Republican party-led legislating has me now more than just barely pondering: What is it these guys and gals are doing up there? Rep. Warburton is obsessed with making my vagina a crime scene….Rep. Kristin Hansen wants to treat LGBTQ human beings as something less than such, and now we have Knox falling all over himself to provide discounted services to the medical marijuana community.

What is it they say? People in glass houses should not be throwing rocks?

What else is there to explain this regressive hate-filled legislation? There’s a ton of it out there.

Kuddos to you, montanafesto!

by jhwygirl

Aside from my own personal feelings on texting-while-driving regulations (texting only being pretty much unenforceable) the Montana GOP sent quite a message in the legislature on Friday, such that Senate Minority Leader Carol Williams at the end of the day called it “Black Friday” and “the absolute worst day of the legislative session.”

HB516 moves forward out of Senate Judiciary to a floor vote probably Monday. Amendments were made on Friday that aim it at ordinances only, leaving intact Bozeman’s equality resolution. (Search HB516 here for more background.)

The conservative attack on the budget was in full mode in Senate Finance Friday morning, and among the leaders speaking out against unnecessary cuts and a lack of priorities were the governor’s budget director David Ewer and Health & Human Services Director Anna Whiting-Sorrel. The message was loud and clear from Schweitzer’s office – and even Bloomberg Businessweek picked up the story.

There was more, and to be honest, I am ill-informed on the entirety of it all. As for the topic at hand, though…..

HB241, a bill that would make texting-while-driving illegal, with a $100 fine was postponed indefinitely on the floor of the Senate after passing Senate Judiciary on an 8-4 vote. The bill was proposed by Sen. Christine Kaufmann.

Match that up with the House Judiciary tabling Senator Tom Facey’s bill which would have taken Montana’s laws which make intercourse between two consenting people of the same sex illegal.

SB276 cleared the Republican-controlled Senate with a 49-1 vote.

That law is, btw, unconstitutional under the Montana Constitution….and it is also proudly part of the Montana Republican Party platform.

The Montana GOP is an embarrassment.

I wonder if the House Republicans have the guts to allow it to a floor blast vote.

If they don’t allow a floor blast vote, they’re cowards.


by lizard

So, I guess we’re at war. Again.

Western planes led strikes against Muammar Gaddafi’s military as world leaders ordered the biggest intervention in the Arab world since allied forces invaded Iraq in 2003. The patience of the international community finally ran out as Gaddafi’s troops pounded the rebel stronghold of Benghazi hours after the Libyan dictator had promised a full ceasefire and invited foreign officials into his country to monitor it.

And, once again, I feel compelled to state unequivocally that I believe the President is a duplicitous liar who makes me nauseous every time he opens his paid-for mouth.

This has nothing to do with a national concern for the people of Libya, and everything to do with geopolitical positioning. If Obama gave a shit about the suffering of people (which he most emphatically does not) he wouldn’t turn a blind eye to the INVASION of Bahrain by Saudi Arabia.

Only a few hours after the US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates concluded his unannounced visit to Bahrain to meet the members of the country’s royal family, the military troops of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were dispatched to Manama to help the monarchy in its uncompromising clampdown on the revolutionary protesters who have been on the streets of the capital for weeks, demanding the dissolution of the tyrannical, US-backed government of King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa and the implementation of political, social reforms in the small Persian Gulf nation.

Undeniably, the invasion of Bahrain by the Saudi and Emirati forces, which are by chance two of the closest allies of Washington in the Persian Gulf, couldn’t have happened spontaneously or without the green light of the White House. Interestingly, the members of Arab League, the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council, the United Nations Security Council and the European allies of the United States collectively turned a blind eye to the invasion of Bahrain as a sovereign state and kept a low profile in order to let the agenda proceed as it was planned by the White House: to invade Bahrain, suppress the protesters by resorting to military force, quelling the demonstrations, quieting the political dissidents and returning the country to the flimsy tranquility it had before.

This makes me sick. I need a new word, because hypocrisy just doesn’t cut it, and a string of expletives doesn’t really accomplish anything.

I will say this, though: Mr. President, if you had any shred of dignity you would return that peace prize, because you are a fucking disgrace to the people who actually work for peace every day.

this will not stand….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by problembear

Senator Mansfield                                                                       Congressman Metcalf

 

 

the affront of mean-spirited people pretending to be leaders in montana with their confederate flags, their racist and homophobic hatred and with their religious beliefs which bear absolutely no resemblance to any definition of what it means to actually be a christian (or montanan) are finally going so far that the montana republican party may never recover from the backlash they will suffer in the next coming elections from the vast majority of fair-minded people of montana. the past few days of outrageously execrable behavior in our legislature has embarrassed us all.

real past leaders of montana who espoused principles of tolerance, understanding and kindness toward all, are remembered for the good they accomplished in their life times.

the hypocritical cowards in our legislature who attack women’s rights and the human rights of gays will soon be forgotten when montana’s voters who love personal freedom remove them from office in 2012…….. and those republican lawmakers in helena who stoop to slashing the budgets of agencies that provide relief to our elderly and our children, the hungry, and the most poverty-stricken of our citizens in order to make a political point should really look into making sure the undertaker provides you with flame retardent suits for the afterlife.

i have a suspicion that god is going to allow a special favor for our two past leaders- in response to your making montanans suffer from your mean-spirited politics……. instead of peter…..i  think you’re going to meet  mike and lee at the pearly gates with arms folded…….


by lizard

I am so thankful the Missoulian ensures the threats we face as a community are given the proper context, and is quick to inform us how the great tsunami of societal destruction known as medicinal marijuana has claimed more innocent victims—DeSmet School kids:

An 18-year-old man whose mom is his medical marijuana caregiver is accused of providing the marijuana-laced butter used by a DeSmet school student to make cookies that she gave to her fellow eighth-graders.

Tyler Andre Pyle faces a felony charge of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs – in this case, as an adult selling drugs to a minor.

The allegations against Pyle began to unfold on March 8, when DeSmet teacher Robin Ray reported that a student had told her several schoolmates had eaten the marijuana cookies.

The teacher “stated she observed the group of students acting ‘spaced out,’ ” according to an affidavit filed by Deputy Missoula County Attorney Andrew Paul. More cookies were found in a 14-year-old student’s locker; a test of the cookies indicated marijuana, according to the affidavit.

Luckily this felony carries with it a maximum possible sentence of life in prison. To keep our community safe, Tyler should be aggressively prosecuted, and MM should be immediately repealed.

Goodbye New York Times

By Duganz

For those of you who haven’t heard yet, the Old Grey Lady committed suicide this morning following the announcement of the worst idea ever. She was 159 years old.

And while we mourn her passing let us always remember what she stood for:

  • Using Mr. and Mrs. for all names, including the singer Meatloaf, or, in New York Times style: Mr. Loaf
  • The Times New Roman font
  • Hiding info about that whole Holocaust thing
  • A liberal slant that in ski terms would be “double black diamond”
  • The lies of Judith Miller (thanks for the Iraq War you water carrying puppet!)
  • The Pentagon Papers
  • “Fuddy-duddy-ness”

Always a staunch supporter of “old media” — even from a time when lesser papers of record were using those new fangled “photographs” — the New York Times today announced an online plan that will surely be the end of it. The plan is to bilk consumers for a product they can get from other sources for free, like, say, The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Alternet, Rachel Maddow, the Associated Press, the New Yorker, Newsweek, Time, Harper’s, The Economist, The Week, The Atlantic, Sports Illustrated, The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! Sports, Politico, Talking  Points Memo, Twitter, the New York Daily News, the LA Times, Google, and, oddly enough, Fox News Channel (which is always obsessed with the New York Times).

Beginning March 28 you will be allowed to read 20 articles for free. After that you will need to pay a monthly fee for the New York Times. Fees are as follows: $15 for phone (iPhone, Android, Blackberry), $20 for Tablet/PC, or $35 for all devices.

Are they serious? Yeah. They think in the world of the internet they can charge that much and still grab the average consumer.

News flash: They can’t. They’ve lost me, and I am “an average consumer.” I make about half of the median income for a US household. You can’t get more average than that. So believe me when I say that the NYT has priced itself outside of the average consumer’s range. And it’s not that we can’t afford it. We can. But it’s the willingness to pay for a product that is recreate elsewhere for free, often with better prose. Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

The state’s Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked on HB161, the bill proposed by House Speaker Mike Milburn, that would repeal Montana’s Citizen Initiative 148, which passed in 2004

Sen. Milburn is a resident of Cascade, a member of the Grand Old Party and a man working on his 4th term in the House.

We can go on and on about the evils of repealing a citizen’s initiative that passed (I hear) by an pretty significant majority…and we can go on about the evils of the refusal of legislators to actually actively regulate marijuana since it having come into law (that would be 3 sessions, folks)…and we can go on about the hypocrisy of a bunch of so called conservatives creating more nanny state government…AND we can go on about the hypocrisy of a bunch of tea party anti-government types who embrace laws that tell the federal government that they can’t regulate Montana-made firearms yet don’t want to let sick people take proven medicine that has fewer side effects than Tylenol.

I’ll just link you to this article in the New York Times which quotes Bozeman Mayor Jeff Krauss on the job and investment-killing side effects of repealing medical marijuana in Montana:

Bozeman’s mayor, Jeff Krauss, a Republican, said he thought there was an element of economic fairness to be considered in the debate about medical marijuana’s future. “I don’t think anybody passed it thinking we were creating an industry,” he said, referring to the 2004 voter referendum. But like it or not, he said, it has become one, and legal investments in the millions of dollars have been made.

“Somewhere around 25 people have made anywhere from a $60,000 to a $100,000 bet on this industry,” Mr. Krauss said, referring to the local startups and their capital costs.

“Now the Legislature has got us saying, ‘Ha, too bad, you lose,’ ” Mr. Krauss added. “Boy is that a bad message to send when we’re in the doldrums.”

I could of worked “Even MORE National Media Attention for MTGOP” into the title!

HB161 stalled 6-6 in committee. I don’t know if they officially declared it dead, but Senate Judiciary committee chair Terry Murphy immediately named a three-member committee to come up with “a regulatory alternative” to a repeal bill.

That’s a large order on a short notice (how many days left in the session?) but a whole hell of a lot common sense. And frankly, the Senate Judiciary might just be one of the only places where common sense even has a fighting chance.

I always did think the GOP in the Senate were going to try and bring a little bit of common sense back to this session.

Murphy’s hearings have been far less inflammatory than the House Judiciary (chaired by Rep. Ken Peterson, of Billings). Sen. Murphy even got a thank-you from Senate Minority Leader Sen. Carol Williams (Missoula’s Senate Goddess) for his well-run hearing on HB516 just yesterday.

That being said, let’s get to the other part….

What’s with Senator Larry Jent, a Democrat representing Bozeman for quite a number of years – 3 terms in the House and he’s currently working on his 3rd term in the Senate.

Jent was the lone Democrat to vote for repeal of medical marijuana. What to say about that?




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