Archive for May, 2011


The blowback from Senator Jon Tester’s Wolf Rider has begun in earnest. Three environmental groups filed lawsuit in federal district court today challenging the constitutionality of his wolf rider.

Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater, and WildEarth Guardians charge in their complaint that the delisting rider violates the U.S. Constitution, as it specifically repeals a judicial decision. While Congress has the right to make and amend laws, the wolf delisting rider (Section 1713 of the budget law, HR 1473, PL 112-10) does not amend the Endangered Species Act. Rather, it orders the reinstatement of the 2009 wolf delisting rule.

“The rider goes against a bedrock principle of our democracy: checks and balances between branches of government,” stated Nicole Rosmarino of WildEarth Guardians. “Legislators can’t pick off specific court decisions they don’t like. That’s not fair for the wolf, and it’s certainly not good for our democracy.”

This debate over the wolf rider is no longer about the issue of wolf reintroduction or science or politics. It is about the role of the three branches of the federal government–checks and balances–and the right of the public to participate in that process, no matter how out of the mainstream those actions may be portrayed in an attempt to intimidate dissenters.

Jon Tester’s wolf rider was merely an attempt by him and his most ardent and vocal supporters to repress dissent among those who would use the processes guaranteed to them by the Constitution and codified in important federal legislation like NEPA and the Endangered Species Act to act on behalf of their constituencies, the mission of the nonprofits they work for, and the principles they advance.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber in an April 18, 2011 letter to President Obama weighed in on the issue:

“I write to express serious concern over the inclusion of policy language unrelated to the budget. Specifically, using policy “riders” within the budget to de-list gray wolves in the Northern Rockies region from the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA)… sets a highly undesirable precedent for making decisions on important social and natural resource issues that deserve open and informed debate.

A six-month budget resolution negotiated through backroom discussions is clearly the wrong vehicle to make permanent changes to significant public policy. For nearly 40 years, the Endangered Species Act has assured decisions about our nation’s natural heritage are driven by science, fish and wildlife professionals, and public input. Removing protection for an endangered species by congressional mandate, much less through a budget bill, stands in unprecedented contrast to this history. This action erodes the integrity of the ESA, excludes important public involvement, and usurps the agency structure, established based on a balancing of executive and legislative branch power, that exists to undertake important decisions affecting America’s wildlife.”

Of course, Senator Tester developed his political chops in the Montana State Legislature, a hotbed of extra-constitutional legislating (which has been abundantly documented here at 4&20). One would have hoped that the futility of unconstitutional legislating would have been left behind in Montana when the Senator went to Washington, but that doesn’t appear to have been the case.

This issue will continue to be attacked by those who merely see this as a battle over wolf numbers, or when/how they were delisted (legally or not). But Senator Tester’s having elevated this to a constitutional battle raises the issue to one of majority tyranny: the repression of dissent, as expressed in the right of a vocal and active minority who are willing to challenge the status quo and the forces that maintain them. Those who have been fighting for the wolf have been doing so in a time-honored fashion, and doing it the old fashioned way: through legal public process, which to the chagrin of the majority, includes the judiciary.

Senator Tester’s action to legislate a judicial decision raises a far greater question than one of how to properly delist a species from the Endangered Species Act. And that question is: how far is Congress and mainstream America willing to go to repress the democratic bedrock upon which citizens are allowed to redress their grievances?

“We’re back in court for two reasons,” concluded Mike Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. “First and foremost, it’s to continue to protect wolves from indiscriminate slaughter. Second, someone has to stand up when the basic tenets of our government are under attack by unscrupulous politicians.”

Let the armchair lawyering begin…

Update: As Matthew Koehler noted in the comments, The Center for Biological Diversity filed suit in federal court today, also:

Today’s lawsuit is based on Article III of the U.S. Constitution, which establishes the principle of “separation of powers.” This principle dictates that the judicial power of the United States lies in the federal courts and not in Congress. In this case, Congress violated the principle by inserting itself into an ongoing legal case brought by conservation groups over the fate of wolves in the northern Rockies.

by jhwygirl

Montana Republicans snuck a 2.75% tax on 23,000 small businesses’ worker’s comp premiums in the waning days of the session – which Governor Schweitzer has vetoed – and they’re whining about him breaking the budget deal?

Taxing small business? Shame on you MT GOP!

The theater never ends, even if the doors close.

by jhwygirl

Always smart to sell at the bottom of the market.

Here’s a link to a nice website with a nifty interactive map.

Hell – there’s 3 properties in my neighborhood. Quite a few down Sula…Kalispell and Libby…and Helena too. Not only that – West Yellowstone and Livingston/Gardiner appear to have some stuff on the market too.

My guess is that we’ll all be hearing about the Civilian Property Realignment Act real soon.

by jhwygirl

HB198 was transmitted to Governor Schweitzer last Friday, April 29th.

In his hands sits a bill that he knows is bad.

Schweitzer is, in fact, quite the hypocrite when it comes to this eminent domain bill. He lobbied heavily for this bill, from the opening of the session when he called this eminent domain bill one of the the legislature’s “most important acts” in his State of the State address back in January:

Third and this might be your most important task and if you get it right it will create thousands of jobs in Montana, if you get it wrong or you don’t finish it there will be pink slips that go to workers across Montana.

I guess Governor Schweitzer thinks if he keeps telling the press that the eminent domain bill is bad and crappy and the legislature needs to fix it, that the property owners in Northwest Energy and Tonebridge’s sights and the large number of people in opposition to this bill will feel better about the bill if (when?) he signs it or let’s it lapse into law.

In reality, what’s likely going to happen when Tonbridge go to court to force a takings on a private property owner, more property owners around the state are going to realize exactly and precisely the affects of HB198. Someone will be to blame. Since the bill had opposition and supporters on both sides of the aisle, it’s pretty easy to see where the finger-pointing is going to go.

And since he will represent to many “The Democrats,” it’s going to be “The Democrats” that are going to get targeted as anti-private property rights for…well – forever. Kinda like everyone blames Racicot and the Republicans with selling off Montana Power.

It’s a legacy that Democrats who voted on the wrong side of this bill may want to consider.

Who got played?

There was a straightforward way to do this if that is truly what they wanted to do – but the legislature and the Governor back-doored this bill in the Major Facilities Siting Act, which is amended every darn session it seems to get around any number of regulations.

So Montana becomes a colony for Canada when we hand over eminent domain power to Tonbridge, a Canadian company. And don’t forget China, either, as Otter Creek will also bring with it a railroad to transport the stuff for Wyoming and for China.

Which is another thing Governor said wouldn’t happen in his 2011 State of the State:

We will develop Montana’s energy on Montana’s terms, not as a colony for our energy hungry country.

What I want to know is while Governor Schweitzer is very vocal (lately) about how crappy this bill is…and while he lobbied very heavily for this bill – having his staff on the floor for both debates….why didn’t he speak up sooner?

Why didn’t he propose a bill?

He could have offered testimony during committee. His office did it for other bills.

This eminent domain bill HB198 will have the impact that the sale of Montana Power had on this state.

Veto it, good Governor.

by problembear

let’s hope this creates lots of new decent paying jobs. as long as the loggers stay out of our roadless areas, use sensitive best practice harvesting in riparian zones, and use good sense in minimizing soil erosion and stream sedimentation,  i don’t have a problem with creating energy with mountain pine beetle killed timber.

looks like brian is putting the pieces together for senator jon tester’s forest jobs bill which has been in limbo for quite awhile. as long as jon gets rid of the hard release language for roadless areas and ditches the idea of mandated harvest, the forest jobs act could be workable here. and if this new plant comes on line soon, we might as well start calling brian congressman schweitzer and jon tester will easily win reelection to the senate.

by lizard

It’s only Tuesday, not even 48 hours after the breaking news of Osama’s death, and there is so much crap swirling around it’s dizzying.

Unfortunately it pays to be suspicious of those often unreliable initial reports. The nature of the 24 hour news cycle and the competition between networks to take any tidbit of info and run with it means our MSM is prone to misinformation.

What I find troubling about the misinformation coming from government sources is intent is basically impossible to discern. Us lowly citizens aren’t privy to the provenance of those first reports that Osama was armed and a woman was used as a human shield. But the impact of those initial reports, while we are experiencing a sort of collective shock, can set the emotional tone for how we experience such major news events. And I’m afraid the fact those reports weren’t true matters less and less these days.

Osama bin Laden wasn’t armed when U.S. forces hunted him down and killed him, the chief White House spokesman said Tuesday.

That was but one of several details that press secretary Jay Carney corrected in the public account of Monday’s breathtaking raid on a compound in Pakistan where the long-sought leader of the terrorist group al-Qaida was hiding.

The fact that the facts are still “evolving”, and that the body was so quickly dumped in the sea, ensures the conspiratorial speculation will run rampant. But as some fragile-minded people begin their smearing of anyone who dares to be skeptical about what went down, and why, it should be noted that entertaining the idea that Osama had been dead for awhile isn’t moon-landing fringe. Here is some report from Fox news the day after Christmas, 2001:

Bin Laden, according to the source, was suffering from a serious lung complication and succumbed to the disease in mid-December, in the vicinity of the Tora Bora mountains. The source claimed that bin Laden was laid to rest honorably in his last abode and his grave was made as per his Wahabi belief.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter (and fact should be considered a dirty word). Osama has been declared dead, which means he can move from being a handy symbol justifying two unnecessary occupations, to a symbolic martyr, ensuring his al-qaeda franchises will provide further justification for perpetual war.

But let’s end this, another post about Osama Bin Laden, on a positive note: I’m hopeful the idea of killing this man, and the purported unified jubilation we should all be feeling, will finally collapse the shoddy edifice of the insane War on Terror. Like three buildings collapsing from the impact and resulting fire of two commercial airliners. Facts.


This come from an AP story featured in the Missoulian today:

The revelation that intelligence gleaned from the CIA’s so-called black sites helped kill bin Laden was seen as vindication for many intelligence officials who have been repeatedly investigated and criticized for their involvement in a program that involved the harshest interrogation methods in U.S. history.

“We got beat up for it, but those efforts led to this great day,” said Marty Martin, a retired CIA officer who for years led the hunt for bin Laden.

Get the full article here:

So fuck it… Let’s shred the constitution as long as it makes us feel safe and gives us petrol prices below $4 per gallon.

And if these black sites and torture are so successful, why didn’t we capture Osama and send him somewhere to be interigated?


It would seem that we in America are once again experiencing a kumbaya moment in which we all hug, hold hands, and say things like “America, Fuck Yeah!” and chant “USA, USA.” All because of the killing of one man. But in watching the news reports of celebrations taking place outside of the White House and where the twin towers used to grace the skyline of NYC, I couldn’t help but see parallels between how some Americans reacted and how some Muslims reacted after 9/11.

When we were surprised by this:

Some in the Muslim world reacted like this:

In many respects we couldn’t understand why there would be anybody in the world that would be happy with an attack on America. We collectively scratched our heads seeking answers to why people hated us. And because we have no understanding of history, of cause and effect, we smugly came to the conclusion that it was because they hate our freedom, or that Islam was simply a naturally violent and barbaric religion.

Yet when we final got revenge with this:

Some in America reacted like this:

Now, I’m not saying that the attacks that occurred on September 11th and the killing of Osama Bin Laden are equivalent acts of violence. The people in the Twin Towers were innocent, Osama had crimes to pay for. The deaths of 3,000 unsuspecting people on that morning can not be rationalized, while Osama had to have known what fate held in store for him, he knew he was a hunted man. Otherwise, he would not have been hiding out in a high security compound. Osama Bin Laden deserved to be punished for his actions, to be brought to justice for the atrocities he set in motion.

But what the two events share is their symbolism. The attacks on 9/11 weren’t so much aimed at the people in those buildings as they were the symbols of American strength, both financial and martial. Osama struck at the heart of our empire, attempting to unveil the corruption and moral degradation that lies at the core of our world spanning reach. Our strike this weekend, cutting off the head of Al Qaeda, was just as symbolic. We proved that no matter how long we have to wait or how far we have to go, America will hunt down every last terrorist and we will show no mercy. There will be no day in court for the likes of Osama Bin Laden. Others like him will be put down like the dogs that they are.

News that we got Osama was an emotional release… an end to a chapter in our current American story. But for all the celebrating there needs to be a more focused and inward reflection of what this event really means for our current situation. And my guess would be that beyond the symbolism, beyond the feel good moment, little will change. Our quest for hegemony will continue unabated and the world’s reaction to such a geopolitical reality will continue.

I’ll leave you with this somber reflection…

what i hate…..


Besides the start of Bike Walk Bus Week – with community wide incentives and events for those that choose to move around by any mode other than by car – here in Missoula, there are a few other updates that might be of interest to you, the good readers of 4&20.

Update 1:

As indicated by the graphic above, Missoula’s Transportation Planning office is hosting an Open House for citizens to learn about and comment on the 2011 Active Transportation Plan (MATP). The open house will be held on Wednesday, May 4th from 5-7pm in the Missoula Public Library’s large meeting room in the lower floor.

The 2011 Active Transportation Plan takes a comprehensive look at Missoula’s active transportation system: sidewalks, bike lanes, trails, what works, what doesn’t, what needs to be improved and what can help make Missoula an even more livable community. Over the course of a year the plan has been developed with the help of substantial community input and is currently being reviewed by the Planning Board for approval.

Update 2:

Volunteers needed! As part of the MATP planning process a continuing set of bike and pedestrian counts will occur twice each year. The counts are conducted with the help of volunteers… that means you. On Tuesday, May 10th from 4-6pm and again on Saturday, May 14th from 11:30am – 2:30pm counts will be conducted throughout Missoula. The data will be used as a performance measure to analyze how bike/ped improvements affect things like overall safety and the number of people using active transportation as well as identifying where future improvements should potentially be located.

If you would like to volunteer, please contact Mirtha Becerra with the Transportation Planning office @ or 406-258-4989.


Chris Hedges weighed in today with some sobering commentary about bin Laden’s death:

“We responded exactly as these terrorist organizations wanted us to respond. They wanted us to speak the language of violence. What were the explosions that hit the World Trade Center, huge explosions and death above a city skyline? It was straight out of Hollywood. When Robert McNamara in 1965 began the massive bombing campaign of North Vietnam, he did it because he said he wanted to “send a message” to the North Vietnamese—a message that left hundreds of thousands of civilians dead.

These groups learned to speak the language we taught them. And our response was to speak in kind. The language of violence, the language of occupation—the occupation of the Middle East, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—has been the best recruiting tool al-Qaida has been handed. If it is correct that Osama bin Laden is dead, then it will spiral upwards with acts of suicidal vengeance. And I expect most probably on American soil. The tragedy of the Middle East is one where we proved incapable of communicating in any other language than the brute and brutal force of empire.

And empire finally, as Thucydides understood, is a disease. As Thucydides wrote, the tyranny that the Athenian empire imposed on others it finally imposed on itself. The disease of empire, according to Thucydides, would finally kill Athenian democracy. And the disease of empire, the disease of nationalism … these of course are mirrored in the anarchic violence of these groups, but one that locks us in a kind of frightening death spiral. So while I certainly fear al-Qaida, I know it’s intentions. I know how it works. I spent months of my life reconstructing every step Mohamed Atta took. While I don’t in any way minimize their danger, I despair. I despair that we as a country, as Nietzsche understood, have become a monster that we are attempting to fight.”

By Duganz

Two videos, two nights, two reasons that Obama had the best weekend ever.

Saturday, he grabs laughs and makes one hell of a reference to The Lion King.

Sunday, well, he cemented his reelection, and made Donald Trump shit himself.

I made some baked potato soup… so, ya know, I did that.

Okay, I’m not exciting. But at least I’m not a Republican tonight. How’s it feel guys?

by lizard

Once again, we are being told, the world has changed. The ultimate frenemy of America, Osama Bin Laden, is being declared dead, and maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll get some pics of his corpse. Really exciting stuff here in America. Fuck yeah.

Consider this an open thread for the deluge we’re about to get from the MSM.

O, and Happy May Day everyone!

Update 1

I’m watching Brian Williams. Did Andrea Mitchell just say ‘conspiracy theory’? Pundits waiting for a presidential address tend to burn rubber. There is weird footage of terrorist looking people with blurred-out faces below a still shot of the white house. Images of 9-11, of course. Cut to Chuck Todd.

(on a side note, some of those alleged “heroes” known as 9-11 first responders must be cleared as non-terrorists before receiving there benefits. Fuck yeah).

Update 2

Brian is telling me we’re minutes away. Still that two frame white house above, injured Americans from 9-11 below. now a shot of Osama.

now Brian says the 2 minute alert warning was false. fill the time.

Brian is saying they’re being “waved off” that it could have been a drone strike that killed him. What?!

Update 3

How close were they in Tora Borra now the question. Richard Engel talks a bit. Cut to shot of the East Room. Brian Williams seems to be really trying hard to “sell” the importance of this event, talking about how people now are telling each other this is happening.

the president speaks.

Update 4

this is a political tsunami. reports now special ops shot him in the head, body secured. mentioning Pakistan tensions. no shit.

now cut to the front gates of the White House, crowds gathering. really, crowds?

what is JSOC?

we’re going to hear a lot about JSOC in the coming days
–Richard Engel

now bi-frame shot has gathering crowds above, rotating pics of Osama below.

Update 5

Tom Brokaw–
this is opening the possibilities of a “New World”

Update 6

now full live shot of ecstatic crowds. what are they waiting for? are they happy because OBL was the entire justification for our presence in Afghanistan, and now that he’s dead everyone comes home? is that why they’re cheering?

Update 7

Andy Card said something. It was like this: blah blah blah. Brian Williams is my shepherd through this momentous event. the gathering, he says, is spontaneous. sporting events have been interrupted with the news. that means it’s everywhere…

Update 8

last update, one final plea for social media input by Brian Williams. chatter-chatter bounces round the networks. i hear the word “spontaneous” again. invocation of Twin Towers.

tomorrow will begin a long week for skeptics. the burden of proof, well…

R.I.P. Ed Lahey

by lizard

According to comments from the previous thread, Ed Lahey, Montana’s de facto poet laureate, died on April 27th. I had recently heard from an old professor that Ed was living in a nursing home in Missoula, and not doing so well. WIth the life he lived, I can only wonder at the tenacity it took him to get to his 75th year.

And so it’s with this sad news that I went to the shelf and took down Ed’s book of poems, looking for a poem to mark the passing of this true Montana original.



The Company pulled out
to write The Hill operation off
as a tax loss,
and city fathers spoke
of sentimental history
instead of evil.

Local artists were commissioned
to portray Western Scenes
on the east wall
of the Miner’s Bank,
calculated to convey
the hard rock glories of yesterday.

It was thought by some
avaricious history
might keep us together,
like the memory
of a succulent supper,
until the town’s buildings began
to burn, one by one,
like candles on a cake.

Stores and shops shut their doors,
houses were deserted
leaving curtainless windows
to stare at tourists
who strolled the streets
like actors on
a vacant movie set.

Wives who hated “hell holes”
grew morbid without a monthly check,
seldom combed their hair
or smiled men male, and left
neglected children to lurk about
black-iron gallows frames,
smoking cigarettes.

Miners who did not wander off
to Idaho, nursing hopes of silver,
drank too much, grew mean in bars,
muttering to one another
of explosive rounds that would go
with a sexual shudder,
leaving bornite like broken dreams
on the floors of flooded stopes.

A critic wrote that I was
“Just a small town Marxist…”
“Sure,” I said, “but quite friendly,
merely curious about The Company,
and what happened to the Indians
in Chile,
after the C.I.A. murdered Allende.”

by lizard

In the world most of us inhabit, rarely does one go from shaking hands with a person to actively advocating for their extrajudicial murder on television. In DC, however, that is exactly what John McCain did after returning from Libya with fellow snakes Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman.

The clip above just doesn’t do the hypocrisy of this bullshit humanitarian war against Libya justice, especially after reports that NATO strikes have produced some familial casualties.

An apparent attempt to kill Colonel Muammar Gaddafi failed late last night when the Libyan leader escaped unharmed from a reported direct hit by a Nato air strike on his youngest son’s house. However, his son Saif and three of his grandchildren were killed, according to a government spokesman.

Sadly, the head of the snake has not yet been decapitated, like America’s Frenemy Saddam. But I’m sure McCain won’t lose any sleep knowing a few of the snake’s alleged progeny have been dispatched from this world.

The real snakes, though, are slithering around our capitol, discussing the real reasons for this little intervention, like countering China’s expanding interest in African energy, disrupting the “virus” (according to McCain) known more generally as the Arab Spring, and maybe, just maybe, a multi-billion dollar money grab.

The objective of the war against Libya is not just its oil reserves (now estimated at 60 billion barrels), which are the greatest in Africa and whose extraction costs are among the lowest in the world, nor the natural gas reserves of which are estimated at about 1,500 billion cubic meters. In the crosshairs of “willing” of the operation “Unified Protector” there are sovereign wealth funds, capital that the Libyan state has invested abroad.

The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) manages sovereign wealth funds estimated at about $70 billion U.S., rising to more than $150 billion if you include foreign investments of the Central Bank and other bodies. But it might be more. Even if they are lower than those of Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, Libyan sovereign wealth funds have been characterized by their rapid growth. When LIA was established in 2006, it had $40 billion at its disposal. In just five years, LIA has invested over one hundred companies in North Africa, Asia, Europe, the U.S. and South America: holding, banking, real estate, industries, oil companies and others.

In Italy, the main Libyan investments are those in UniCredit Bank (of which LIA and the Libyan Central Bank hold 7.5 percent), Finmeccanica (2 percent) and ENI (1 percent), these and other investments (including 7.5 percent of the Juventus Football Club) have a significance not as much economically (they amount to some $5.4 billion) as politically.

Libya, after Washington removed it from the blacklist of “rogue states,” has sought to carve out a space at the international level focusing on “diplomacy of sovereign wealth funds.” Once the U.S. and the EU lifted the embargo in 2004 and the big oil companies returned to the country, Tripoli was able to maintain a trade surplus of about $30 billion per year which was used largely to make foreign investments. The management of sovereign funds has however created a new mechanism of power and corruption in the hands of ministers and senior officials, which probably in part escaped the control of the Gadhafi himself: This is confirmed by the fact that, in 2009, he proposed that the 30 billion in oil revenues go “directly to the Libyan people.” This aggravated the fractures within the Libyan government.

In the long run, it doesn’t pay to be a Frenemy of America, especially if you’re not a part of the nuke club. You never know when some western funded/hyped/co-opted opposition groups may start trouble, hopefully inciting stupid police state repression tactics that result in good images of unrest. Then the corporate media can trumpet the propaganda and help launch another hegemonic assault packaged for public consumption as saving civilians. I mean, the good civilians, not grandchildren snakes slithering around Papa snake. Their deaths don’t matter.

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