Archive for April, 2011
by Pete Talbot
(Jhwygirl beat me to the draw, as usual, but here’s my perspective on some of her Various & Sundry observations, plus some other stuff. Also, I changed my original Denny Rehberg headline (a strike through wouldn’t cut it) because it lacked class. And while I have no respect for the man, I still have some for the office.)
I had forgotten that Rep. Denny Rehberg was going to be the speaker at Missoula’s City Club luncheon on Thursday. I didn’t miss much, though, according to the Missoulian. The same old: lower taxes, cut programs, reduce regulation. Then there was this gem:
He also claimed that family planning services were losing billions of dollars by duplication between Medicaid and Title X services.
Missoula Planned Parenthood volunteer coordinator Tannis Hargrove, who asked about the family planning spending, disputed Rehberg’s duplication claim. She said Title X services were not available to Montanans eligible for Medicaid, and that Medicaid eligibility was too strict to allow that kind of double-dipping.
Rehberg also said it was the fault of the federal government that the housing market collapsed, leading to the Great Recession. It had nothing to do with the credit default swaps of JPMorgan, Lehman Brothers, AIG, Goldman-Sachs, etc. Thank God those markets aren’t better regulated.
And you can blame those pesky regulations for your $4-a-gallon gas. That’s what’s keeping the petroleum industry from modernizing its gasoline infrastructure, which is keeping consumer gas prices high, says Denny. I guess it’s hard to invest in new infrastructure when your first quarter profits are only $10.7 billion.
Rob Trump, Donald Natelson?
I like things easy and Rob Natelson makes finding a topic to post so easy. This time, he’s picking up where The Donald left off. Couched in some historical nonsense about the English monarchy, Rob’s worried that a U.S. President could hand our country over to some foreign power. I’m pretty sure he’s targeting Obama and the President’s penchant for all things Kenyan. I’m surprised he didn’t raise this issue about Reagan’s Mexican proclivities. He should also be worried about Gov. Schwarzenegger selling California to Austria. There are just too many examples to cite. Be afraid, be very afraid.
“Extremely far-right extremists”
That’s a quote from former Sanders County Republican Chairman Mike Hashisaki. But it looks like it’s the extremists who are running things now that state party chairman Will Deschamps says the new Sanders County Republican Central Committee will be certified at the Montana GOP convention in June. How far to the right is the new committee? Well, Denny Rehberg is a socialist. According to the Missoulian:
The convention then chose Katy French of Paradise chairwoman. Her husband Mark, who unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg for the Republican nomination to Congress in 2010 – charging that Rehberg had backed “irresponsible, unconstitutional and socialist issues” – was elected state committeeman.
It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times.
I guess the 62nd Montana Legislature could have been worse, but not much. One of the major disappointments for me — the failure to pass a bonding bill that would have paid for a new UM College of Technology building, among other buildings around the state. It would have pumped $29 million into the Missoula economy, and would be an investment in Montana’s future by educating and training Montanans. There was plenty of other bad stuff, too, some of it yet to reach the governor’s desk. The Associated Press has a round-up.
Please consider this an open thread.
I went to City Club Missoula’s luncheon on Wednesday to hear Representative Denny Rehberg whine about how he “hates cutting services on the backs of the poor” but that “now is not the time to raise taxes on oil and coal because they keep the lights on.”
I kinda need to blog about that – but do go read John S. Adams at MTLowdown. He has some video, too.
Supermontanareporter John S. Adams, in fact, hit the Washington Post with that post and video.
On that note – Representative Denny Rehberg blamed the bank collapse (and the fact that his high-end Billings subdivision ranch isn’t selling many lots these days) on the government. He must have missed this, ProPublica: The Magnetar Trade: How One Hedge Fund Helped Keep the Bubble Going.
Am I worried about Senator Jon Tester after Wednesday’s lunch? Absolutely not. Rehberg can’t answer a question and he rambles on in a circle while rarely getting to a point. Which is probably intentional, but it is in sharp contrast to our Carhartt-wearing short-on-fingers organic farming Senator.
Hell – I look forward to a whole bunch of debates. I recall a circuit of them in 2006. They were fun.
The Editor of the Button Valley Bugle says their good-bye to the 62nd Legislature with a piece titled “Good Riddance”.
Have to kind agree – cutting very-much needed services but offering a $2.8 million tax break to one coal mine is pretty sick for priorities.
For an opposing view, here’s the Montana Family Foundation with their opinion on the 62nd Legislature. My favorite quote? “Sorry! Republican’s had big majorities and the votes to do what they wanted. It’s a harsh reality.” Boy. They really hate Planned Parenthood and Governor Schweitzer.
That guy would be about as fun as a cowpie in the middle of a livingroom.
Pogie is winding down on the legislature with a sine die edition of tweets.
My last (for now) on the session? James Conner of Flathead Memo? I’m waiting on you.
On to just a couple more bits…
The hell you say! The City of Whitefish recently banned strip malls and large-box retail on a stretch of highway 93. Crazy conservatives! Killing jobs!
One of my newest favorite blogs? Hamm On Wry. Make sure to put that on your reading list.
What say you?
Hot off the press from Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman and The Coalition to Save Workers. For your weekend rabble-rousing pleasure, we bring you a video from Revolution Messaging: “Union Town.”
@Kpaxnews just tweeted this…Gov. Schweitzer saying he’ll let the medical marijuana bill become law without his signature. Hear what he says next at 530 on KPAX
in an obvious move which is designed to get the GOP in trouble for the 2012 election cycle, brian has decided to allow SB 423 to become law without his signature.
brian knows that this contraption put together with paper mache and elmers glue won’t hold up to constitutional scrutiny in court so he is simply allowing this bad bill to go forward and let the chips fall where they may…. mostly on the shoulders of the grand old party who created it. smart move.
anyone want to guess how much this will help the democratic party in 2012 with younger voters? like i have said many times on this blog- time is on the side of the progressives. the old bastards who controlled the legislature decided to go against the will of the voters and shirked their duty to tweak the law so that is was workable. they have instead decided to make a political statement with this awful bill which will make it much more difficult for those who need medical marijuana to get the help they need. people who worked in this industry and people who depended on them to get their medication will be angry. and the legislators who voted for this bill will have to pay the price when it is time to face their constituents.
Gov. Schweitzer compared the proposed system banning profits to communism.
“There is a guy who thought of that system first, his name was Karl Marx,” said Schweitzer. “That’s not what most of us think is the American way, that is, capitalism.”
bad news for an estimated 2500 jobs in a fledgling legitimate industry which provided badly needed paychecks for montanans ………..good news for the illegal dealers though. mo money….mo money…. mo money.
How dare you, monstrous storm system spawning over a hundred tornadoes killing hundreds of people, try to usurp the coverage of the happy time fairy tale event happening tomorrow. Luckily the cable news front holds strong, spewing the fawning regurgitations of Charles and Diana as an endless stream of royal inanities pour from the telly.
Started to write this post, but it appears there is a motion to reconsider on the House floor and now they’ve gone to recess.
Time will tell whether they (and the citizens of Montana) got played…but it more than a few of them are wanting to correct the current deplorable situation.
Well, looks like many in the House, but not enough, tried to correct their vote. A 62 to 34 majority voted to reconsider HB198, the ugly eminent domain bill that we’ve written about here a number of times (hit the search for HB198 or “eminent”).
So we’re back to a bill that is going to be transmitted to the Governor who said he wanted a sunset clause.
A sunset clause on a bill that Governor Brian Schweitzer said he knows is bad. A bill that hands the takings of private property into the control of very profit-driven private businesses that have no obligation to public gain.
I’d call the situation bizarre if it didn’t involve private property owned by citizens of this great State of Montana. And for that reason, it’s tragic. People will look back on this law – if it does become law – as a turning point for this state much like the deregulation of Montana Power.
Governor Schweitzer has two options, really: Veto or approve. With no chance of an amendatory veto, any failure on his part to take one of those two formal actions – and let’s be clear here: Not signing it and allowing it to lapse into law is equal to approving it – is weak. Especially after the fiasco he created out of the 2007 legislative bill he allowed to lapse.
I picked up an anthology a few weeks ago from Shakespeare & Co. titled Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century. So far I’ve been really impressed with the featured writers, like my new fav Josh Bell. I just read the following poem, and had to share it. Read his sorta queer love poem to God below the fold. Continue Reading »
The Federal government has this funny little financial power called “rescission” in which it can take back money from the states that has been previously obligated for programs but has yet to be spent. Streetsblog has a great post that covers many of the nuances of this practice.
The FY2011 budget deal that Democrats and Republican finally agreed to recently requires states to send back to Washington $2.5 billion in unspent transportation funds. Who decides what programs to target for rescissions? Your state DOT.
Montana’s share of this $2.5 billion being sucked back into the black hole that is the Federal budget totals $26 million. To put that is perspective:
- about the equivalent 10 years of Federal dollars that goes to Missoula
- 26 years of Federal funding received by Missoula’s transit service, Mountain Line
- Not even enough to cover the cost of Russell street reconstruction
Where the cuts will be coming from has yet to be determined, but its pretty likely that Missoula will feel the sting.
This could be just the beginning of the states being starved of Federal funding for transportation. It seems that the Federal government shot its load of transportation funding when it passed the stimulus. Our own Senator Max Baucus stated that, “we don’t have a lot of money here,” and is thus proposing a transportation bill that would span only 2 years rather than the normal six. Really great idea Max… we can debate this all over again but this time lets make the debate timed perfectly to coincide with the next election.
Finding new revenue at the Federal level just ain’t going to happen… because… you know… our taxes are so fucking high already. A lack of courage in raising new revenue at the Federal level is one of the reasons that some states are starting to look into raising their own fuel taxes.
Connecticut recently raised the state’s fuel tax to help meet their unfunded need to maintain existing roadways. Montana is in a similar situation if the current crop of Republicants deeply cut transportation funding as our state would be faced with losing billions of dollars resulting in a lot of projects never happening. Hell Missoula County already has a backlog of transportation projects that can’t be completed because of a lack of money, this alone would add hundreds of millions of dollars in projects that it wouldn’t be able to get to. This would mean ever deteriorating roads, more congestion, and a hit to our economic vitality.
Isn’t it great that besides the Tea People giving the states more supposed freedom they are also burdening the states with a financial obligation the states can’t even hope to come close to meeting?
by Pete Talbot
At first glance, maybe this was something I should have attended. The Helena Independent Record headline read: Insight offered to bloggers. Gosh, I thought, I wonder why I didn’t hear about this earlier.
Then some of the names in the story caught my eye: Aaron Flint of the Flint Report, Carl Graham of the Montana Policy Institute, Montana Watchdog, the Franklin Center — all pretty much mouthpieces for right wing and Libertarian causes.
Flint, for example, has a radio show on the Northern Ag Network, a conservative station out of Billings. He has the Flint Report website, too, that carries headlines like: Tester Profits Off Credit Card Companies and Bullock Gets Testy Over Otter Creek.
The Montana Policy Institute out of Bozeman is a Libertarian think tank that refuses to reveal it’s funding sources. Perhaps you’ve seen MPI President Carl Graham’s guest columns in your local paper on the wonders of a free market economy. MPI just finished hosting a “Health Care Freedom Panel” with keynote speaker and MPI Senior Fellow Rob Natelson.
There’s Montana Watchdog, another website, that is sponsored by the Montana Policy Institute and presents itself as a news organization with Front Page links to, well, Natelson’s “Health Care Freedom Panel.”
The Franklin Center, based in North Dakota and Virginia (now there’s a strange pairing) bills itself as an organization dedicated to investigative reporting. The group’s founder and president, Jason Stverak, is the former executive director of the North Dakota Republican Party.
Here’s a line from the end of the IR story:
Also among them was Big Sky Tea Party Association board member Roger Nummerdor, who thinks it might be time to start doing some blogging.
This all happened last Saturday at the Red Lion Colonial Inn in Helena.
And these guys are joined at the hip. I don’t begrudge some dudes holding a workshop, spreading the righteous word, maybe having a few beers, chewing the fat. It’s just that they’re so sneaky about it. You seldom see them flaunting their right-wing credentials.
Heck, they even fooled the IR reporter, who didn’t mention a thing in her story about these guys’ background. I’m hoping she was fooled, anyway, because if she knew and didn’t mention it, that’s piss-poor reporting.
Airing: Thursday April 28th, 7pm on Montana PBS
Our byline here at 4&20 references “politics and culture” and perhaps nowhere else is the clash between politics and culture better illuminated than in documentary.
High Plains Films, in its own words “dedicates itself to exploring issues about the relationship between nature and society.” With almost 30 films under its belt, and 35 national awards to its credit, High Plains Films newest feature–nearly 10 years in the making from inception to final cut–will air Thursday April 28th on Montana PBS at 7pm. The 78 minute documentary will be shown in its entirety.
High Plains Films is located in Missoula, Montana and has been producing documentaries for almost 20 years. You can learn all about them by visiting their recently redeveloped website, which is chock-full of video trailers, clips, deleted and extra scenes, interviews and accompanying information about their 30 films. Much of the footage shown is in spectacular HD! Spend some time wading through the material and exploring their window on the world, and you’ll see a whole ‘nother exposition of many, many issues.
There are several short documentaries shown in their entirety in addition to some sample scenes from works-in-progress like Two Rivers, a film about the confluence of the Blackfoot and Clark Fork Rivers, and the impact decades of mining and a dam had on its ecology and nearby residents.
There is an illuminating and articulate 20+ minute interview with Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer about the bison/brucellosis issue, as well as a tribute piece to Buffalo Field Campaign activist Brian “Frog” Gharst, and an amazing short clip showing a golden eagle harrassing a deer. Facing the Storm also includes original stop-motion animations from Missoula’s Andy Smetanka, and an original score from Ivan Rosenberg.
The new HPF site was designed by UM School of Media Arts professor Greg Twigg and constructed by a local developer. The HPF website also offers free music downloads from film scores and other original material from Ned Mudd, Aaron Parrett and Ivan Rosenberg. There is a stock-footage library being constructed where High Plains FIlms can showcase much of its thousands of hours of footage.
Check out the documentary this thursday, and spend some time exploring their new site when you have some free time!
Earlier this month, Governor Schweitzer held a VETO branding party on the back lawn of the Capitol and with a bevvy of cameras and reporters even Justin Beiber might be jealous of, announced the following before putting the hot iron to 7 bills in front of a roaring crowd:
“These bills are either frivolous, unconstitutional or in direct contradiction to the expressed will of the people of Montana.”
Great Falls Tribune state reporter John S. Adams had the story and the video at his blog, The Lowdown.
I was comforted that day I heard Governor Schweitzer say those words…because, if you’ve been around long enough, you know I’ve not been happy in the past with some of the bills he’s signed into law in previous sessions. I won’t rehash the ugly, but hell – he’s been unhappy with bills he’s signed into law.
All of that being said, I’ve watch medical marijuana become an abused I-don’t-know-what issue up there in Helena since day one…and now SB423 has been banged around to what is going to be another “we can’t have any amendments even if they’re good because we have to get this done and there isn’t time” bill tomorrow on the floors of both the House and the Senate.
Gotta go read the thing. Page 45 begins the actual text of the law that was submitted with the initiative. Page 30 is the summary along with the proponent and opponent argument.
First of all, I read that law there and it’s pretty thorough. So it seems to me that there was a failure in enforcement and rule writing. Not only that – there were problems professed with this since it was approved and yet the legislature session after session (3 of ’em before this one) refused to address them.
So now the sick are going to get punished for the follies of those who were allowed to run unregulated. Keep that in mind as I say that there were plenty and ARE PLENTY of providers out there that keep accounting records far beyond anything required under state law to demonstrate that they are in compliance with what laws and regs that are out there.
SB423 requires two doctor recommendations. I don’t know that it is the state’s business to tell someone how many doctors they should go to. If someone is sick (cancer?) do they really need to spend money to see two doctors to get OK’d for using marijuana? Really?
How’s that for cutting back on medical costs? Cancer isn’t costly enough? Dying isn’t costly enough?
Whoever thought this was a good idea? You disgust me with your personal agendas.
I pray you never get sick or know someone suffering of cancer. Or leukemia. Or the ravages of chemical weapons.
Another component of SB423 “reform” is some sever limitation on providers and a “non-profit” requirement. Well…that is in direct conflict with Section 3.4 which specifically allow for the caregiver to be permitted “reasonable compensation.”
Let’s take this whole compensation versus non-profit versus limited caregivers/patients versus cost thing up again – now we’re saying you have to see multiple doctors because being sick isn’t enough….and once you get your card, you can only have a relative or someone who is only providing to you and one other person provide you your medicine and that person providing it to you has to do it at no profit.
So the sick patient is going to loose out of economy-of-scale and quality-of-medicine (and now the state is going to have small little grow operations all over the place) because the state didn’t want to do the job of writing decent rules and regulations to accompany the laws so that police and judges actually had something to work with?
The nanny state 2011’s 62nd Legislature could’t write up a law requiring all medical marijuana businesses to be 1000 feet from a school?
Have you ever listed to a tv commercial for a prescription drug? Seen a magazine ad? They’re at least 2 pages, if not 3 anymore with warnings: May cause liver damage. Contact your doctor if you experience this or that or this or that…20 pills a day isn’t enough under cancer treatment, you have to stomach down morphine too. Always goes well with breakfast.
I hope some of the experts on this issue jump in here. I by no means have torn apart SB423 to fully understand it.
Tomorrow, as I mentioned above, both the House and the Senate hear SB423 in second reading. Let your legislators know what should be done to this bill – amendments that can be offered so that Schweitzer hears what complies with “…the expressed will of the people of Montana.”. Both the House and the Senate have great advocates for this issue.
Those advocating this repeal should look inwardly at their own complicity into the matter – ignoring this issue for the last 3 legislative sessions? – and act accordingly.
While we’re at it, perhaps someone might remind the House that all the testimony in opposition was not exactly what it seemed.
Rep. James Knox, one of repeal’s biggest advocates, still hasn’t told Montana whether he sold his brother marijuana, nor has he explained his double-standard of advocating for repeal profiting from the burgeoning industry he was helping to advertise.
In the current edition of the Missoula Independent the local paper takes aim at Missoula City Councilman Dave Strohmaier over his Social Host Ordinance and many of the policy positions he has taken in his six years in office. Three times in the article – once in the headline, once in a quote, and once in the second to last paragraph – the Indy emasculates and attempts to make Dave appear effete through his desire to clean up after an infantilized Missoula populace. In my opinion, the use of such language turns a pretty solid article into a hack job.
I would expect such language from a right-wing rag but from an independent newspaper based out of Missoula? There is a long history of Liberalism’s opponents painting liberals as soft, elitists, and effeminate. I don’t understand why the Indy is playing into such lazy stereotypes other than to set the tone of how the paper will handle Strohmaier in any eventual run for Montana’s open Congressional House seat.
The Tea People now holding sway in Helena proposed plenty of legislation to clean up after messy voters including:
- Multiple attempts to “Purge the Scourge” of Medical Marijuana and correct the choice Montana voters made in 2004
- Numerous attempts to baby-sit women’s uteri
- An attempt to tell counties that they know what is best
- Wanting to play marriage counselor via HB 438
But in conducting a search of the Indy’s news stories I never once came across language labeling Tea Party policies or politicians as people espousing a nanny-state.
I can understand why the Social Host Ordinance is the definition of government overreach to some people; the sanctity of one’s home and personal privacy are issues that people care deeply about and the image of Dave poking his fedora clad head into your house to check IDs probably isn’t a pleasant one. But at the same time, bar tenders are held responsible for serving minors alcohol… maybe people throwing house parties should be held responsible as well.
The last 500 typewriters ever manufactured are going up for sale by the last manufacturer of typewriters “at discounted prices.”
I hope desktop printing calculators aren’t next because I hate spreadsheets.
Jim Harrison looks like he’s been carved from granite weathered by some serious storms. I was finally prodded into buying his most recent publication, In Search Of Small Gods after watching an episode of No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain (here’s a bit of the chat between Tony and Jim)
And here’s a double shot (first and last poem) from that book. Not a bad way to start this last week of April, right?. Enjoy. (note, the formatting of both poems has been slightly altered to fit the virtual page)
I believe in steep drop-offs, the thunderstorm across
the lake in 1949, cold winds, empty swimming pools,
the overgrown path to the creek, raw garlic,
used tires, taverns saloons, bars, gallons of red wine,
abandoned farmhouses, stunted lilac groves,
gravel roads that end, brush piles, thickets, girls
who haven’t quite gone totally wild, river eddies,
leaky wooden boats, the smell of used engine oil,
turbulent rivers, lakes without cottages in the woods,
the primrose growing out of a cow skull, the thousands
of birds I’ve talked to all of my life, the dogs
that talked back, the Chihuahuan ravens that follow
me on long walks. The rattler escaping the cold hose,
the fluttering unknown gods that I nearly see
from the left corner of my blind eye, struggling
to stay alive in a world that grinds them underfoot.
Maybe the problem is that I got involved with the wrong
crowd of gods when I was seven. At first they weren’t
harmful and only showed themselves as fish, birds, especially
herons and loons, turtles, a bobcat and a small bear, but not
deer and rabbits who only offered themselves as food.
And maybe I spent too much time inside the water of lakes
and rivers. Underwater seemed like the safest church I could
go to. And sleeping outside that young might have seeped
too much dark into my brain and bones. It was not for me
to ever recover. The other day I found a quarter in
the driveway I lost at the Mecosta County Fair in 1947 and
missed out on five rides including the Ferris Wheel and the
Tilt-A-Whirl. I sat in anger for hours in the bull barn
mourning my lost quarter on which the entire tragic history
of earth is written. I looked up into the holes of the bulls’
massive noses and at the brass rings puncturing their noses
which allowed them to be led. It would have been an easier
life if I had allowed a ring in my nose, but so many years
later I still find the spore of the gods here and there but never
in the vicinity of quarters.
In all this ongoing back and forth between the liberal/progressive/Democrat blogs of Montana (the Great Flame War of 2011) one point that is yet to be made is the differing approach that the two parties seem to deal with internal dissent. One party gives the impression of eagerly embracing the mutiny… while the other is trying to quickly stomp out the fire before it can spread.
What started as a grassroots movement from outside the ramparts of a party historically known for it’s discipline in pulling it’s member into line on issues; the Tea People’s anger, enthusiasm, and naivety was quickly capitalized upon by the Republican establishment and old guard power base. Organizations that, at first ad-hoc groups meeting at coffee shops bitching about how the Republicans had betrayed their ideals, were quickly provided with organizational support, funds, and training from long-time Republican political operatives. Nation-wide organizations were built by the likes of Dick Army and elected Republicans such as Michele Bachmann embraced the mass of angry white people produced by a steady diet of Fox News.
Now that the Tea People are well ensconced in the warm and loving embrace of the GOP guess what happens whenever the Tea People get all uppity? Thats right… Boehner quickly folds and make overtures to please his new far right base.
Contrast this with the current approach that the mainline Democrats seem to want to take when dealing the more progressive/liberal/whatever side of the party…
This attitude comes straight from the top as Obama and his press secretary have said more than once that they are tired of the criticism coming from the left. Other Democrats have used this type of language, calling liberals “extremists.”
The same attitude has been on display recently on various Montana progressive blogs. Pogie actually did a great job of getting to the issue and fostering a discussion around the role of dissension within a political party in shaping policy and strategy. Others however have been eager to follow the STFU guidelines. From LITW:
Here’s the dealio. Democrats still have value. I like Jon Tester, even more for taking action on wolf control dictated by the judiciary. Don’t like that? Tough shit. Leave. I like Barrack Obama. I think he called out the Republicans and has played them very well. Don’t like that? Tough shit. Leave. Seriously. You don’t like Democrats? Leave, assholes.
The problem with the STFU/your-either-with-us-or-against-us type attitude is that people really do leave. People will choose to vote for third party candidate like Nader when they get frustrated enough which then gives us 8 years of THE ADVENTURES OF BUSHIT AND TURD BLOSSOM .
If a party doesn’t listen to internal dissent and respond to the criticism by addressing people’s grievances then people leave. The Republicants were electorally successful in the last cycle specifically because they embraced the crazy hidden within themselves and physically manifested as the Tea People.
Do we really want to put this at the entrance to the Democratic party?
Open Letter to Governor Schweitzer regarding SB423,
Medical Marijuana Policy Courtesy of a Keystone Cop Process
A guest post by Kate Cholewa of www.cannabisandculture.com
Dear Governor Schweitzer,
I know you have many issues on your plate and a record number of idiotic bills coming to your desk. I hope you have a moment to consider the process by which the legislature came to develop SB423. The process was like watching the Keystone Cops making law. The result, the conference committee report on SB423, is a thinly veiled repeal of the medical cannabis law in Montana.
An interim committee met over the summer and came up with a bipartisan bill, HB 68, which created a licensing structure for medical cannabis businesses. Rep. Sands chaired this committee and spearheaded the bill. A big part of the discussion from Sands, the interim committee, and at the time, law enforcement, was the need for storefronts so that this system would be out in the open – zoned, yes – but not operating under the radar. So the far-sighted business people did what far-sighted business people do, they opened storefronts, if they didn’t have them already, and positioned themselves for compliance.
Sen. Lewis also forwarded a regulatory bill, SB154. The provisions in it stacked the deck, favoring some in the medical cannabis workforce over others. The overall model didn’t drive quality. But that’s not what did it in. The bill included a 10% tax on growers, some of which was slated to be used to fund senior services. But the tax wasn’t going to fly with Lewis’ fellow Republicans. The bill was D.O.A. At the hearing, Sen. Lewis presented a substitute bill, which has come to be known as the Grey Bill. It was a clunky piece of work though it better represented what kinds of regulations were needed than did SB154. To a lesser degree than SB 154, it also played favorites with the work force. Some provisions were silly. But it really doesn’t matter. Sen. Lewis wasn’t really behind it. He tossed it on the table and turned and walked away just to vote for repeal later. But this isn’t really surprising. This sort of thing is Lewis’ M.O.
(More after the break)
I’m not going to break the big news–we’re going to leave that up to Pete whenever he shows back up, but 4&20 has many reasons to celebrate, and I hear there may be a flock gathering somewhere’s about town tonight. And I don’t want to mix that up with the other reason I have to write this. So I’m going meta here.
What I want to point out, in response to a comment I took down yesterday for violating a rule I imposed on one particular abusive troll, are a few stats about this site. Here’s a clip from the comment I took down:
“…this circle jerk is getting more pathetic by the second. If any of you would actually get beyond the boundaries here, or quit whining about your own sweet sadness, you’d see that this website is losing readership far faster than some others you brave liberals might pretend are being dominated by your little … members…
For the last week, I’ve gotten more emails telling me that this website is the suck than I have that tell me how much of an asshole I am… You are welcome to disbelieve me.”
I left out all of the insults and BS that led to my pulling the comment. But the gist being that because some of us write outside the mainstream, and have the temerity to criticize the center, that we are negatively affecting this site’s readership is just wrong.
And that sort of commentary coming from someone whom used to be more widely respected in the Montana blogosphere attacking our credibility and readership needs to be answered. And because it was I, mostly, who have inspired this angst in our critic from the center, I don’t want to leave it up to jhwygirl or Pete to defend the site from my opening my mouth (or typing stream-of-thought, which is what I do).
I’m a big boy. I can take my lumps and punch back. And I hear it when some people say I have been less than sociable in my discussions–I know when to say mea culpa and not be so blunt in the future.
Anyways, the facts:
The last quarter, Q1 2011 saw a rise in page views of 12% over Q1 2010, and 36% over Q4 2010!
And lest we think quarterly results may not be the best marker, a look at this April’s numbers show us on track to have a 27,000 page view month. To put that in perspective, we have only had 2 27,000 page view months in the last 2 years.
So clearly our writing is not negatively affecting our viewership. Not that that doesn’t keep some from trying to intimidate writers here into keeping silent, and running them off of other blogs. This attempt to stifle dissent and over-the-top bullying and abusive approach to trying to control the blogs, in the words of some is “troubling.” But it has gotten me to thinking of the role of the dissident and the critic–criticizing the mainstream from the fringes– in today’s society, on which I may have more to write in the future.
And the last accusation from the comment I took down:
“you’re going to be attracting the conflict trolls”
You mean people like you, Rob?
Anyways, I just wanted to point out some wonderful site news, of which more will be said soon, and to say this on the glorious Earth Day:
If you haven’t yet, take time this weekend to download and read through “Three Cups of Deceit” by Jon Krakauer. It’s free, well written, and will leave a terrible taste in your mouth.
If you have been living under a rock this last week let me summarize the week’s biggest scandal: Greg Mortenson, Bozeman resident, best selling author, and head of the Central Asia Institute, is a big fat liar covered in liar sauce.
Krakauer details each of the lies Mortenson told in his book “Three Cups of Tea,” which include: falsifying why he built a school in Korphe, Pakistan, misappropriating funds from the non-profit CAI (to the tune of over $7million), lying about a kidnapping, and not building schools he’s claimed to have built! There’s more, but I want to encourage you to read the small, free book rather than just watch the 60 Minutes episode that rehashes (poorly) Krakauer’s work.
People have been coming to Mortenson’s defense all week, with his biggest defense coming from Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times. Kristof has written about Mortenson before, and admits in his column that he’s a big fan, and tries to downplay Mortenson, in effect, stealing money from a non-profit.
I don’t know what to make of these accusations. Part of me wishes that all this journalistic energy had been directed instead to ferret out abuses by politicians who allocate government resources to campaign donors rather than to the neediest among us, but that’s not a real answer. The critics have raised serious questions that deserve better answers: we need to hold school-builders accountable as well as fat cats.
Kristof drops that nugget, along with others, to mount his defense of Mortenson based on this: sure he may have lied, but he did do good–the idea being that his works outweigh his sins. As Kristof says, “…even if all the allegations turn out to be true, Greg has still built more schools and transformed more children’s lives than you or I ever will.”
Fine. But that doesn’t excuse Greg Mortenson lying, and deceiving good people giving up their money to make the world a better place. Mortenson’s work, and his lies, are separate issues. Yes, he’s done good, but he’s also a lying shit. Those two facts can exist simultaneously. Education for Afghan girls: Good. Misusing charitable funds for personal gain: fucking evil.
Also, this is not only about good deeds vs lies. It comes down to the fact that Mortenson has been accused (and I think the evidence adds up) of misusing donated money for personal gain. As Krakauer points out in his book, Mortenson uses CAI funds to travel to speaking engagements where he recounts the lies in his books. Upon giving his talk he is reimbursed by the event promoters. But, Mortenson does not then reimburse CAI. (FYI, flying out of Bozeman, Montana costs a fair penny.)
Even Kristof takes a moment from his ham-fisted stroke job of a column to say, “I am deeply troubled that only 41 percent of the money raised in 2009 went to build schools…”
Lying is never good, and using good deeds to justify lies is immoral. I don’t know, nor do I understand, why Greg Mortenson felt he needed to lie to justify his good deeds. I only know that he was wrong to deceive people, and wrong to waste their money on his own frivolity.
Greg Mortenson is not a hero, he’s a lying shit who also did some good. Hopefully a better person will come along to pick up his cause, with honesty.
Ravalli County continues to prove the principle that a lack of choice and competition results in some very bad, and rigged, outcomes. Ravalli County has to be one of the strongest Republican enclaves in Montana. In the past the County has infamously overturned county growth policy and as of the 2010 election, voted out an experienced county Treasurer and elected a Teapublicant candidate that subsequently proved that she had no idea what how to competently perform her job.
Now Ravalli has done it again by appointing Terry Nelson, the Chair of the Ravalli County Republican Committee, as the new director of the planning department… oops… not director, but office manager, see the commissioners changed the job title/description of the office to make Terry Nelson less unqualified. After their first attempt at political cronyism failed because the commissioners (all Republicans) failed to follow state laws on proper public comment procedures. As of this moment there is a FOIA requesting all documents relating to the hiring process sitting in the commissioner’s inbox waiting to be ignored.
The final kicker might be that Nelson owns Applebury Survey out of Victor, and engineering firm that obviously makes money from land development. I guess that means if you want your subdivision approved with no hiccups, one should hire Applebury Survey to conduct the site analysis.
The fight over the budget and debt continues in D.C. and I’m sure that Republicans will be making sacrifices and praying to the patron-saint of B-list Celebrities Turned Politician Ronald “The Gipper” Reagan for strength and guidance. I suggest that we on the left use the memory of Reagan to illustrate just how far right the party of Tea has moved since the golden age of fighting tyranny. Because even Saint Ronnie raised taxes.
Same shit… different day. Just a week after a compromise was reached to forestall shutting down the government the circus clowns are once again piling out of the VW to debate the debt ceiling. And one again nothing will actually change that makes a difference in our country’s fiscal solvency.
Will anything constructive take shape on the revenue side… doubt it. Instead budget cuts will come at the expense of those that don’t have a voice at the table. If you can’t afford a six figure lobbyist you don’t deserve to be at the table. Fuck I’m being pessimistic today.
HB198 was passed on third reading this morning in the Senate. I won’t rehash the ugly mess of this bill that will enable private major facility businesses to take private property for private gain – you can just put HB198 into the search there on the right for that background.
That being said, the bill is heading to the Governor’s desk after a debate yesterday that had proponents of the bill push off amendments they felt were worthy because they had to ‘get this thing done for MATL.’
So we have a bill that’s bad, even by proponent’s standards.
What is probably not so shocking since he’s been demanding this bill, is that Governor Schweitzer is willing to sign off on this bill that he, too, admits does not protect private property rights.
Schweitzer is going to offer an amendatory veto to this bad bill that will have it sunset it in 2013. That means that Montanans will have a bill that has a special retroactive clause to capture up and (hopefully for them) cure MATL’s legal issues and its failure to negotiate in good faith with Montana property owners being signed by the Governor – even though he admits it’s a shitty bill. From the good Gov:
“The Legislature has got to spend the next two years putting together an eminent domain law that makes sense for developers and for landowners of Montana,” Schweitzer said at a Capitol news conference. “This bill is not right; it didn’t address landowner concerns.”
I’m not a landowner, but if I were in the path of anything that has a major facility line or pipeline anywhere near it, I’d be darn pissed off right now.
Voters can not point the blame of this horrible legislation at any one party – both sides of the aisle voted on both sides of the issue, and ardently defended their positions. Being the one signing it into law, though, is a different matter.
Read the Billings Gazette edition of this story and the comments are interesting. Not many in support of the thing, and the only people being blamed are Democrats.
And that will be how it goes. A whole bunch of people that will never check the actual vote on that bill (that saw the likes of Verdell Jackson voting for the thing) will blame it on “Democrats” when in truth there were a whole lot of “Republicans” who voted for it, too.
Even the old timers I know can’t recall a more lunatic legislature. One of the most conservative on that list recently told me that they thought the Governor was right with his budget and they (the legislature) were “a bunch of idiots.”
I was floored.
Anyways….the Republican controlled 62nd Legislature took its unprecedented 2nd break of the session today, coming back on Tuesday.
These breaks aren’t saving any money – in fact, they’re costing the taxpayers and inconveniencing the legislative staff who still have to stick around.
The first break (April 14th) cost the taxpayers somewhere around $60,000. This current break will cost over $75,000.
Republicans are taking the break because they are waiting on the Governor’s veto of HB2, the main budget bill.
There are other components to the budget bill, though – and combined together they represent the “bottom dollar” and Governor Schweitzer is saying it’s impossible to be responsible with the budget without seeing the entire picture.
And I’ve yet to hear from anyone in the MTGOP as to why that doesn’t make sense.
Which, of course, they can’t say because The Governor Needs To See The Whole Budget!
Look – what I wonder is why someone in the media isn’t getting Senate President Jim Peterson or Speaker of the House Mike Milburn on camera and asking them how they expect the Governor to responsibly review a budget when he doesn’t have the entire thing.
This cat-and-mouse game being played up there in Helena is getting frustratingly boorish. By taking these breaks, the Republicans want to be able to pin the costs of the upcoming special session on the Democrats or on Governor Brian Schweitzer when the Democrats and Governor Brian Schweitzer have told them to put the federal funding back in the budget. They’ve tried to adequately fund the schools (and considering the state’s been sued for lack of adequate funding, their concerns are well-placed) and the Republicans have ignored those requests also.
Here’s a hint: The public aint’ buying it.
My view looking in says that people are getting sick of some of the obvious fights Republicans are picking this session – let’s not forget the attacks on gays and local governance – and if they think they are going to hand the Governor an incomplete budget and then expect to be able to blame him when they go into special session they are either up there smoking crack or…..
Or they are home in their districts smoking crack.
Proponents of HB198, the 62nd Legislature’s eminent domain bill, repeatedly admitted during debate on the Senate floor this afternoon (after a successful morning “blast” of the bill to get it to 2nd reading) that this bill was written and moved through the legislature to solve one issue, and one issue only – the Montana-Alberta Tie Line’s failure to negotiate in good faith with property owners along the line.
Not one proponent suggested that the bill was written to protect Montana citizens.
There was discussion about jobs – the 70 or so jobs (as put forth in the information provided by Tonbridge to the U.S. State Department and the State of Montana) as justification for handing over private property takings rights to private entities.
So now “jobs” is a sufficient public interest. Jobs. Economic development – all key words being lobbed around like crack candy on the floor today. Wasn’t that the case in Kelo v. City of New London?
At least one proponent of the bill tried to argue that Kelo wasn’t even related, but clearly he hadn’t read the case.
Amendments were offered and proponents argued that there wasn’t enough time to get ‘er done because they would have to go back to the House and so the bill needed to be passed as it was written.
One Democrat Senator said he knew the bill was bad and while there wasn’t time to fix it, he was going to vote for the bill because he was counting on Governor Schweitzer to fix it with amendatory vetoes.
These are your private property rights we’re talking about here, Montana! Hell be damned with them, I guess!
Debate was long, impassioned and respectful. It was – as gubernatorial candidate Senator Wanzenried pointed out – an excellent and fine example of good honest debate on a bill that had strong supporters from both sides of the aisle debating both sides of the issue.
An interesting example of that was proponent Sen. Wittich (R-Bozeman) who questioned Senate President Jim Peterson (R-Buffalo) for passing out what he identified as a “Fact Sheet” on HB198….a fact sheet that was prepared by a Tonbridge/MATL attorney.
A “fact” Peterson tried to deflect.
A disappointing 28 – 22 vote puts HB198 to third reading tomorrow at 8 a.m.
I hope you have read previous postings here on HB198 – and if not, clicking through the links provided here will get you to most of it. If you’ve done that, you know that this is a dangerous bill – a lazy bill thrown together with little real analysis of the situation and written to resolve a big business issue (that arose out of Canada, in fact) instead of being written to address and protect private property interests.
In Texas they’re strengthening private property rights and here in Montana they’re giving them away to private companies out of Canada.
Of note, Senator Kendall Van Dyk switched his vote – switiching not only his committee vote to table this behemoth, but switching his vote of NO to blasting this thing into second reading.
Some other disappointments (on both sides of the aisle)?
Senator Mary Cafferro, normally someone whose vote I’ve never questioned.
Senator Verdell Jackson? Isn’t he supposed to be conservative?
Tomorrow’s Senate floor session begins at 8 a.m. Take the time tonight to email these Senators….and if you are reading this in the morning, phone lines open up at 7:30..and often they start late because of caucus, so DO give a call at 406-444-4800 and leave a message for up to 5 senators telling them NO WAY on HB198.
This is a press release from the Northern Plains Resource Council and the Northern Plains Pipeline Landowners Group regarding today’s Senate 2nd reading vote on HB198, the 62nd Legislature’s eminent domain bill.
Northern Plains Resource Council, a grassroots conservation and family agriculture group since 1972, strongly condemned actions by the Montana State Senate on Tuesday to pass HB 198, the session’s eminent domain reform bill, on a second reading floor vote. A majority of Democrats joined with Republicans to vote in favor of the bill. The bill had previously been stalled in committee on a 6-6 vote until it was blasted onto the Senate floor this morning on a 26-23 vote.
Northern Plains members, many of whom are landowners facing condemnation themselves, have fought HB 198 for most of the session. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ken Peterson (R-Billings), would clarify a public utility’s right to condemn private land for corporate use. Buried in the bill is a retroactivity clause that will set a dangerous precedent for landowners in Montana. Northern Plains calls this bill what it is – a corporate bailout.
“The members of the Montana Senate who voted in favor of this bill had a chance to stand up for landowners and the interests of rural Montana today; instead, they caved to the bottom line of one corporation, granting them the biggest corporate bailout of the session,” said Darrell Garoutte, Chair of the Northern Plains Pipeline Landowners Group. This group of landowners crossed by the proposed Keystone XL pipeline in eastern Montana has organized to negotiate with TransCanada an equitable contract which protects landowners and public safety.
“This bill is about one corporation, Tonbridge Power Inc., that treated landowners dishonestly, lost in district court, and, rather than going through the appellate court system like any other citizen of this state, came to the legislature with its hands wide open threatening legislators with alarmist claims and rhetoric. It certainly sets a dangerous precedent for landowners moving forward, and folks in rural Montana will remember this vote.”
HB 198 arose out of a district court decision issued in December in Glacier County where Tonbridge Power of Toronto is building the 214-mile Montana Alberta Tie Line. The judge halted construction of the power line, ruling that the project did not meet the public need test and therefore did not have the power of eminent domain. HB 198 effectively reverses the decision and puts the landowners in the project’s path in the crosshairs. Parties in the case filed arguments with the Montana Supreme Court last week, promising that a decision will be reached soon by the state’s highest court.
“We in the agricultural sector take this as a personal affront to our ability to do business in Montana, and the economic hardship of stealing our land. If you take something from me and give it to somebody else, it is stealing. This will put us in a position where we cannot deal fairly with anyone trying to use eminent domain. We are simply asking for respect and fairness. This bill sets a grave precedent for those of us that make a living on the land in this state,” said Garoutte.
“If you want to be a malleable politician, you campaign from the center. But if you want to be a leader, you define the center. You don’t rely on polls to tell you where to go. At best, polls tell you where people are, and it’s pointless to lead people where they already are. The essence of political leadership is focusing the public’s attention on the hard issues that most would rather avoid or dismiss.” — Robert Reich, Reason
With those words firmly planted in mind, I’m going to relate a story of how Jon Tester’s candidacy for the Senate was given a huge boost by a contingent of Montanans throwing their weight behind his candidacy in the 2006 primary against John Morrison and others.
And we start the story with a poll: John Morrison +1%.
That was the number that was staring at Democrats a few weeks before the June 6th, 2006 Democrat primary for Senate in Montana. Coupled with that number were other polls that showed Morrison at a serious disadvantage compared to Jon Tester in a one-to-one matchup against 3-time incumbent Republican Senator Conrad Burns.
Sitting back in the pack of Democrats running in the primary was Paul Richards, polling at about 2%. While 2% isn’t much, during the general election, almost 200,000 votes were cast Democrat. So around 4,000 people could have been said to support Paul. Not a large number, and not a particularly big political base from which to attempt to influence the statewide race. Or so it seems.
But let’s consider for a moment whom those 4,000 people may have been.
Continue Reading »
There have been two contrasting opinion pieces written in the last week about the “humanitarian intervention” in Libya that everyone should read. The first, penned by the triumvirate of Obama, Sarkozy, and Cameron, was put out on April 14th by the NYT. Its Orwellian title: Libya’s Pathway to Peace.
As far as propaganda goes, it hits all the right notes, like this:
We must never forget the reasons why the international community was obliged to act in the first place. As Libya descended into chaos with Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi attacking his own people, the Arab League called for action. The Libyan opposition called for help. And the people of Libya looked to the world in their hour of need. In an historic resolution, the United Nations Security Council authorized all necessary measures to protect the people of Libya from the attacks upon them. By responding immediately, our countries, together with an international coalition, halted the advance of Qaddafi’s forces and prevented the bloodbath that he had promised to inflict upon the citizens of the besieged city of Benghazi.
Tens of thousands of lives have been protected. But the people of Libya are still suffering terrible horrors at Qaddafi’s hands each and every day. His rockets and shells rained down on defenseless civilians in Ajdabiya. The city of Misurata is enduring a medieval siege, as Qaddafi tries to strangle its population into submission. The evidence of disappearances and abuses grows daily.
Our duty and our mandate under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 is to protect civilians, and we are doing that. It is not to remove Qaddafi by force. But it is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with Qaddafi in power. The International Criminal Court is rightly investigating the crimes committed against civilians and the grievous violations of international law. It is unthinkable that someone who has tried to massacre his own people can play a part in their future government. The brave citizens of those towns that have held out against forces that have been mercilessly targeting them would face a fearful vengeance if the world accepted such an arrangement. It would be an unconscionable betrayal.
I must admit I don’t know how to approach the absolute vacuous moral reasoning of this “protecting civilians” bullshit when so much civilian suffering is deemed passable by omission. Like, oh, you know, the use of white phosphorous against Palestinians during Cast Lead? Meh. But the horrors America stopped with its (expensive) military power, yeah, tens of thousands of people were saved from a door by door slaughter by the monster Gaddafi (who once got screwed, apparently, by Trump).
Were they saved? Impossible to say now that the deed of intervening has been done. But there are doubts.
Obama insisted that prospects were grim without intervention. “If we waited one more day, Benghazi … could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.’’ Thus, the president concluded, “preventing genocide’’ justified US military action.
But intervention did not prevent genocide, because no such bloodbath was in the offing. To the contrary, by emboldening rebellion, US interference has prolonged Libya’s civil war and the resultant suffering of innocents.
The best evidence that Khadafy did not plan genocide in Benghazi is that he did not perpetrate it in the other cities he had recaptured either fully or partially — including Zawiya, Misurata, and Ajdabiya, which together have a population greater than Benghazi.
Regardless, a military intervention that of course is not about regime change, BUT… is now prolonging a military conflict that these armed rebels can’t win by themselves. Part of that is because Kaddafi is not without support. Worse, the rebels refused to even try diplomacy. And the CIA on the ground obviously wear sneakers because Obama said no boots. This german blogger is skeptical, and backs it up (scroll up for the post).
Finally, it might be good to listen to what others say about what this
war humanitarian intervention is suppose to accomplish. Though some may think he’s jumped on the kook train, Paul Craig Roberts continues talking though marginalized from his once lofty positions. This conversation with him is worth reading.
And this is where my taxes are going while both parties fight over which pieces of the safety net to cut away next.
April 18, 2011
Well, another year another dollar, right? Okay, I know. It’s wwwwaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy more than “a dollar.” For many of you it’s the equivalent of a month’s salary (post-tax that is), and for some–GE–it’s nothing. It’s important to note however that GE makes TONS of shitty investments that they can then write off. Couple that with their already ample tax loopholes and you’ve got a big fat nothing from this giant multi-national.
Now that’s what I call freedom!
Speaking of freedom, remember today that your Uncle Sammy supports the troops, and so do you! It’s a de facto support, meaning that if you didn’t support the troops through taxes we’d haul your ass to jail faster than the decent of a crumbling Southwest Airline plane (which your tax dollars subsidize by the way)! And what is that “support” costing you? Well, providing freedom in two non-America nations costs money (we’re starting that third, but, dang it, getting the Republicans to fight a black man’s war is much harder than it was getting Democrats to fund two wars under a neocon).
The breakdown is this: It cost $685,000/per year/per soldier in Iraq, and $1.2million/per year/per soldier in Afghanistan. Now, just so you know, we’re not paying these guys and gals big money. No. The majority of this cost is just fuel costs to bring them there and feed them–it sure ain’t to keep ’em safe! So, we spend tons on the 117,000 troops in Iraq, and tons on the 98,000 in Afghanistan. Yessir.
Ya know, that’s cheating just using that word “tons.” You deserve better from me. (I mean, look at me with that odd beard and top hat combo–I look like an older Slash meets KFC!)
We spend $80,145,000,000 on troops in Iraq, and $117,600,000,000 in Afghanistan. That’s nearly $200billion to keep men and women in countries that the current president was elected saying he’d end! He even got a “peace” medal for it.
Ready to sing some Lee Greenwood? Well, hold on tight kids cause I’ve got a great comparison that will help you sleep after you tuck in the little ones tonight.
It costs on average $11,000 per year to get a kid educated in public schools K-12. That’s a total cost of $143,000! In other words, it costs, on average 88percent less to give a kid a high school diploma than to keep him in Afghanistan for a year. Hell, we could put a kid through four years of public college for only $36,000 more! Note the use of “could,” as in, “We could, but we don’t.” Costs too damn much! And the kids are dumb as shit! Better to send them to other countries so they can get shot for the sake of…um…
Well, anyhow, it’s getting late and I know most of you have waited until the last minute to file your taxes. So quit reading and press send on your eFile report (or, I guess, lick a stamp like a troglodyte or call your accountant to check the balance of your foreign untaxed accounts).
Thank you again for taking part in this great society. America, fuck yeah!
Your Uncle Sam