Archive for June, 2011

by jhwygirl

Dear Montana Legislators that voted for SB423:

You should be utterly embarassed by the court’s assessment of your ability to grasp the very documents you were sworn to uphold when you swore your oath of office. I’m talking about the U.S. Constitution and the Montana Constitution.

Frankly – this bodes quite well for progressive tree-hugging dirty hippies like me, given my own assessment of many of the bills that were passed.

…but I digress…..

District Judge James P. Reynolds hit ya’all on a whole list of things. I’ll just name a few:

1.) First Amendment, U.S. Constutition (right to free speech)

2.) Article II, section 7, Montana Constitution (right to free speech)

3.) Fourth Amendment, U.S. Constitution (the right to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure)

4.) Article II, section 11, Montana Constitution (“the people shall be…secure from unreasonable searches and seizures)

5.) Article II, section 3, Montana Constitution (“the opportunity to pursue employment…is itself a fundamental right”)

6.) Article II, section 10, Montana Constitution (right to personal privacy)

Boy – that’s quite a laundry list of constitutional rights violated by a majority of both the Senate and the House

What you’ll hear from them – or some of them – will be that “we had to do something!” and “if I didn’t do that, they’d of repealed it!”

Hmph. It was one thing to participate in the shit scramble party to write something up – it was an entirely different thing to vote for it.

Shame on you all. Each and every one of you.

Voters will hopefully remember this, as those lists of legislators that vote for this bill that many many people had said was unconstitutional and violated basic rights didn’t have any concern for rights. All they were thinking of was political expediency and gain.

If they’ll violate these rights – and really, do we really have to school a Republican-controlled legislature on the basic rights of a person’s ability to make a living? To speak and advertise? To be protected from unreasonable search and seizure?

Obviously we do. I say we school them out of office.

(Thank you to the Missoulian for reporting the story and posting the judge’s injuction.)

by problembear

thanks judge. 

that third branch of government finally brings some sense into the moronic marijuana wars in this state by smacking down several key provisions of the poorly written law passed by idiots in our last legislature. judge reynolds recognizes the reality of providing for those patients suffering from the effects of chemotherapy etc. who need help with this drug. he has sense enough to know that an 82 year old bedridden grandma isn’t going to start growing her own pot or ask her relatives to do it for her for free.

he also has sense enough to know that denying the ability to charge for serving patients and advertise violates the constitution of this nation and this state.

meanwhile, the feds continue their assault on providers. 

By Duganz

If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and read Matt Taibbi’s new piece on Michele Bachmann. What it outlines is the divide of our times, a divide that runs directly into one of the great Three Things We Must Never Discuss. For those of you who don’t know what those are, they are: 1. Religion, 2. Politics, and 3. Who has the better dog. With America today only Religion matters. Our politicians are required in some de facto way to be religious, to swear a belief in the god of Abraham–the one great god of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Bachmann’s god-cock is bigger than most god-cocks. She, if you’re not in the know, has god’s voice in her head. Or, as I say it, is demented and in desperate need of medication. And that’s because… big breath… there is absolutely no proof that anyone at any time ever has heard the voice of god. None. Nada. No proof. There is, more than likely, no being or force in the world that is like the bi-polar being most of us are raised to believe in. Just isn’t. The belief is faith, and faith alone. (And as any sports fan will tell you: faith means jack.)

But anyway, I’m off point.

What matters is that you understand that whether you believe, or are like me and have no faith in god, that Michele Bachmann thinks she is under the direction of god. She, in her mind, is not making choices for America. God is. God is speaking through her. She sees herself as a prophet (for profit), and that’s dangerous. Really, really dangerous.

by jhwygirl

Seems everyone is getting on the bandwagon of revenue increases these days – you’ll recall the Senate recently voted to kill ethanol subsidies (we’ll see where the tough-talking House goes with that one…), then GOP leaders in the Senate started talking publicly of revenue increases.

Is that pure BS talk? Certainly some say so (as has been exhaustively argued on these pages)…but there are observers suggesting that Grover Norquist and his “no revenue increase” mantra may be becoming insignificant.

Absent of Republicans, in general, looking at more revenue increasing proposals, we have President Narayana Kocherlakota of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis – at a weekend bankers conference held here in Montana – calling on Congress to reduce the amount of mortgage interest and debt payments that households and corporations can deduct to trim incentives for leverage.

Now – is that something I can go along with? Capping the mortgage interest deduction? Debt interest? Obama’s been calling for it since he got elected. A bi-partisan White House deficit-reduction commission picked these two things out as something that should be considered.

Anyway – those are my thoughts. Do we have a perfect storm brewing? Are old-school Republicans calling out the Tea Party? If Republicans (the Tea Party, more aptly) continue to ignore any-and-all revenue increasing ideas, they’re going to find themselves on the wrong end of the voting poll. That’s just plain numbers, folks. If all they have left is to attack Social Security and Medicare, then they aren’t honestly looking at the situation.

If they aren’t honestly looking at the situation, they’re saboteurs.

by lizard

When greed is the number one driving force, everything else takes a back seat, including, it would appear, preparing for cataclysmic disasters like floods and tsunamis when you’re running a nuclear power plant. Here’s Joseph Giambrone from an article put up at Counterpunch today.

When I wrote last week about the Nebraska reactor surrounded by floodwaters I, like most, still considered it a highly remote possibility of cataclysm.

Upon further investigation, it seems much more likely now. The New York Times has exposed some major criminal negligence and game playing with the safety of the nation by the plant’s operator. Peter Behr’s June 24th report examines what we’ve been told vs. what’s there on the ground at Fort Calhoun’s nuclear power station. This is truly frightening with water levels approaching the 1007 ft. above sea level mark.

The article goes on, closely examining language used in news reports, then interpreting the possible meaning. The article is worth reading, and incredibly disturbing, like this part:

The NRC gave the operator OPPD a wristslap last October 6 to try and force some improvements of “substatntal importance” to the facility. The OPPD predictably stalled and tried to fight spending any money on improvements up through this year.

The plot thickened back in the 1990s, where a series of floods threatened the area. The Army Corps of Engineers warned the plant operator to increase its defenses by at least 3 feet, back in 2003. The plant however did not “properly act” on the “deficiencies.” No surprises there.

When a senior nuclear investigator for NRC was asked how these situations can go on so long with no meaningful action taken to protect the public from disaster, Gerond George answered, “We only sample certain parts of their design basis…” This admission reveals gaping holes at the NRC.

No surprise indeed, but still totally fucking crazy. This, folks, is the consequence of a long, concerted attack on the government’s role in regulating an industry that has the collective real world potential of destroying virtually all life on earth. And with the planet experiencing increasingly volatile weather from the changing climate, we continue to entrust our safety to law makers and regulators who are absolutely incapable of doing their jobs.

Obama did a fantastic job of minimizing the negative impact on BP and gulf drilling after the gusher in the gulf. Now, with a nuclear disaster still unfolding in Japan, and two possible situations in Nebraska (the other facility, the Cooper Nuclear Station, is STILL operating) I wonder how he’ll tap dance for the Nuclear industry.

Don’t worry, though. Just listen to this douche quoted in the NYT:

Though the plants have declared “unusual events,” the lowest level in the emergency taxonomy used by federal nuclear regulators, both were designed to withstand this level of flooding, and neither is viewed as being at risk for a disaster, said a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“We think they’ve taken all the necessary precautions and made the appropriate arrangements to deal with the flooding conditions,” said the spokesman, Victor Dricks.

After reading that, I did some quick price checking for geiger counters, and it looks like they run anywhere from a couple hundred bucks, to over a thousand. Maybe it’s time to cash in my growler savings account full of quarters.

By CFS

We all know that corn ethanol takes away resources from growing food, but by how much might astonish you.  According to author Alexis Madrigal in his book Powering the Dream, USDA statistics from 2010 show that fully 1/3 of the United States corn harvest went into our collective gas tanks.

That 1/3 of US corn production is akin to a subsidy for the wealthy.  You see, the more wealth and income a person has the more cars a person owns and consequently the more miles a person tends to drive (who wants to be on a bus with a bunch of stinky people), consuming proportionally more gas.  Conversely, the higher up the income scale one climbs the less a person spends on food as a proportion of their income.  The exact opposite is true of the lower-income scales, whome spend a much larger proportion of income simply feeding themselves and their families while spending less on transportation.  So, corn ethanol subsidies are essentially robbing from the poor and giving to the rich, a kind of reverse Robin Hood.

Bringing it down to the scale of Missoula, would you rather help out the people that live on the South Hills in Mansion Heights, or the people that live in doublewides in East Missoula?

Just how much is 1/3?  The US corn harvest in 2010 was 13.1 billion bushels.  Yes that is 13.1 with a B! A record-setting year in terms of acreage under production and yield even in the face of record grain prices.

So, fully 4.3 billion bushels of corn was converted into ethanol.  Those 4.3 billion bushels yielded 12.1 billion gallons of ethanol (based on my calculations from the ratio I derived thanks to this link) out of a total US supply of 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol which gives us 10% of the total gasoline supply.

That’s a lot of numbers… but bear with me.

So, to fill just 10% of our voracious appetite for fuel (18 million barrels of oil/day) uses roughly 26.4 million acres of American (Fuck Yeah!) farmland.  So while the addition of corn ethanol to our fuel supply hasn’t put much of a dent into American gas prices or our consumption of foreign oil, you can see in the chart below just how much biofuels have effected the price of corn.  The steep increase in price coincides nicely with the increase in total corn used for ethanol seen in the chart here (scroll down toward the bottom).

And also coincides nicely with the increase in the commodity price of beef.  Beef, it’s where most of the corn goes.

Obviously, the increase in price isn’t all due to increases in the amount of corn ethanol produced, but the pattern fits nicely together.  The real point of all these numbers I’ve thrown in front of you is to show the sheer scale of the impact that ethanol has on the food market (quite a lot) and the extent of the impact on the fuels market (almost non-existent).

In the end ethanol subsidies are part of the larger package of policies in this country that give breaks to those with an excessively disproportionate share of this country’s wealth.  These subsidies might not be that large in the scheme of things relating to our total budget deficit, but they are symptomatic of our larger cultural tendency to reward the rich and punish the poor.

by jhwygirl

Mainstream media will be all a-buzz with deficit/raising the debt ceiling talks this week, so don’t expect too much coverage on two bills that are of major interest to progressives (like me).

On Tuesday, Ms. Kris Carpenter, Founder/CEO, Sanctuary Spa and Salon in Billings will testify before the Senate Committee on Finance on “Complexity and the Tax Gap: Making Tax Compliance Easier and Collecting What’s Due“.

Hearings to look at the tax gap and tax complexity? Who doesn’t have something to say these days about that?

Interested citizens or groups have two weeks from the close of the hearing to submit comment.

Don’t forget – our very own Sen. Max Baucus is chair of the Senate Committee on Finance.

Also on Tuesday is a hearing before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary for The DREAM Act.

Yep. The Dream Act isn’t dead – and Sen. Durbin, it looks, is going to make sure of that.

I poked around that website and couldn’t find information on how to submit comment. If anyone else figures that out, please post that info in comments.

By CFS

Twitter and Facebook are increasingly becoming a part of people’s daily life and when it comes to politics, social media is an indispensable tool for organization, spreading information, and connecting people of like-minded attitudes.  But few politicians are actually making good use of these new tools.  Rather sadly, many politicians are using the tools to their own detriment or are simply using them to insulate and shut out criticism.

 

Here in Montana, politicians are beginning their primary pushes which means the long process of building a support network and raising funds, and in today’s age that means using twitter and Facebook to directly connect with as many people across the state as possible.  But so far this cycle our would-be political representatives seem a bit clueless.

Here are my suggestions of how our crop of Montana politicians can use social media effectively:

  1. Engage, engage, engage.  If you are using Twitter as a repository of press release like boring links, don’t even bother… I’m looking your way @DennyRehberg.  Twitter is a continuous conversation, be part of it, open your ears, and actually have a back and forth.
  2. Get rid of the staff.  I know social media can be a time-suck, but it is disingenuous to represent yourself on twitter and have a staff be the one tweeting.  If its overwhelming, have two accounts, one for the campaign run by a staffer, and a personal account that is solely yours.
  3. Don’t mass follow people… it just looks desperate and is akin to what sleazy internet marketers do.  That means you Franke Wilmer, who followed me the other day.  The first politician to seek me out for a follow.  Your followers, whether on Twitter or Facebook should come organically and not be sought after.  If you are a good candidate people will naturally gravitate to you.
  4. Make it personal, but not too personal.  Followers should feel as though they have an in on who you are and what your campaign is about that they can’t get via the television news, blogs, or newspapers.
  5. Google search for James Knox (R) Billings.  Look at his use of social media, then proceed to do the exact opposite.  Threats, crazy assertions, and lying in the social media sphere only get you ridicule and draw people’s attention who then quickly tear your arguments apart and make you look like the fool you are.
  6. Have a filter.  Before you hit that send button, think for a second whether you really want to put what you just typed out their.  As a politician you should realize that many of your followers are probably reporters, bloggers, and political insiders that will make as much noise and trouble for you given any opportunity.
  7. Be creative and witty.  Social media is geared to short bits of information, and to get attention you need to put out creative and authentic updates, being boring will kill you.
  8. Finally, study what people have done right.  For Montana, that means taking a look at how state legislators Ellie Hill, Bryce Bennett, and Mike Miller have used social media, especially during the hectic legislative session.  They were the best source on how things were shaping up at the capital and even during the busiest of times, kept their followers in the loop on legislative developments.  For my money, they are the best examples of politicians using Twitter effectively.

Other than that, good luck to all our candidates, except for Denny Rehberg, may Tester bitch slap you with his two-fingered hand.

For those of you interested in getting more information on our crop of Montana candidates take a look at the list I have compiled below.

Senate:

John Tester (D): Campaign site, @jontester, Facebook
Denny Rehberg (R): Campaign site@Rehberg2012, Facebook

Congress:

Franke Wilmer (D): Campaign site@Franke4Congress, Facebook

Dave Strohmaier (D): Campaign site@DaveForMontana, Facebook

Steve Daines (R): Campaign site@DainesforHouse, Facebook

Kim Gillan (D): Campaign site

Governor:

Rick Hill (R): Campaign site@RickHill2012, Facebook

Ken Miller (R): Campaign site, Facebook

James O’Hara (R): Campaign site, Facebook

By JC

He of the recently brain-swollen, having returned from their pilgrimages to NN11, pulled out of a thread here to regroup his attack on all things 4&20. Yes, the hall monitor of LitW has resumed his attacks on the writers here in full force, this time taking on jhwygirl and lizard directly, and the rest of us by inference:

I submit that when liberal and/or progressive blogs join that media narrative of how the Democrats should be able to *do* something about the Republicant intransigence, they reinforce the voter idea that ‘might makes right’. It’s a twist such that Republicants, instead of looking like the saboteurs of the American dream that they are, end up looking like the strong leaders, and Democrats are again punished for not joining in the right-wing pogrom against the common folk. 4 & 20 is certainly not the only website to join in that insane chorus. But insane it is. jhwygirl’s post and many comments to it paint the same picture.

Having once again been thrust into another of Rob Kailey’s megalomaniacal “You’re either with us or your against us” Bushian rants, I feel compelled to answer the question “Do you understand what you’re doing?” in his most recent “Who’s Side are you On? [The Triumphant Return of Thought Cop III]” diary at Chicken Little is no Pillager:

Who the f*ck cares if you think we don’t understand the world the way you do?!!!

Carry on…

By Duganz

So, I spent three weeks on the Big Island recently (ain’t rich; family live there so it was just a matter of tickets), and while living in paradise I learned these things about my likes and dislikes. I think it says a lot about me:

  1. Don’t like the reggae
  2. Love parasailing
  3. Love snorkeling
  4. Love lunchtime margaritas
  5. Really don’t like the reggae
  6. Seriously, what’s with all the reggae?
  7. Goddamn people, it’s just a guitar in open-G with a lot of upstrokes…
  8. Sea turtles are amazingly cool
  9. Mauna Kea, the highest point in Hawaii, is breathtaking at sunset
Anyway, it’s hard to do Hawaiian activities in Montana (I guess you can listen to shitty reggae music anywhere but why would you want to?) so I’ve come up with three cool things to do with the part of your summer not spent in Hawaii. Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Please consider this an open thread.

A new study shows that the death penalty costs $300 million per person.

The main drug used in lethal injection is no longer in production in the U.S. That means that no state can obtain the drug legally. (with a hat tip to Steve Dogiakos)

If you haven’t read this piece, you should. From Time Magazine’s political blog Swampland, it’s an indepth look at Montana’s Tea Party. The piece is recent – June 17th.

So yeah…more national attention on Montana.

Has anyone read Sarah Palin’s InBox yet?

Public Policy Polling has all kinds of polling out on Montana 2012 races. With both a Senate and a Governor’s seat open, there’s lots of national interest.

Must read from The Nation on reimaging our economic future. There’s lot’s to it – a series of articles – but well worthy of bookmarking.

Pogie reports on this weekend’s gathering of the John Birch Society with featured guest Derek Skees. It’s a must read. And do remember – that’s straight-up serious stuff he’s talking about.

Button Valley recently threw down on the economic realities of Arch Coal, one of Montana’s newest raider of taxpayer-owned natural resources. Poor Arch Coal. Thank Goddess the Montana taxpayers were able to subsidize their bid for the state’s schoolchildren’s coal. Corporate coal welfare – what would the industry do without it.

Which reminds me – Steve Bullock for Attorney General. Only.

by lizard

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.
—Edward Abbey

Labels kinda suck. I mean, what the hell is a nature poem anyway? To say the poems I’ve selected for this week’s LWPS are nature poems really limits the potential of the poems themselves, and that’s not something I want to do.

The natural world is the unpredictable, inescapable, all-encompassing planetary environment that we as human beings separate and define in order to create the illusion of control where there is none.

That control of nature is ultimately impossible won’t stop the exploitation we all participate in from continuing. With Earth First! looking to conclude their Round River Rendezvous in the Lolo National Forest, I figured a few poems touching on our human relationship to the earth would be nice. Enjoy. Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

…because it will happen.

by jhwygirl

Seems the Billings School District 2 Superintendent Keith Beeman has figured out a way.

The Billings Gazette reports Beeman sent an email to trustees on June 18 requesting one-on-one meetings to present information “we are not ready to share with the public.”

One-on-one meetings.

It’s almost like something out of News of the Weird.

by jhwygirl

‘Cause I’d find that real funny. Especially given that they titled the thing “An Act Establishing the Montana Marijuana Act” when it established nothing and instead destroyed the 2004 citizen’s initiative that brought medical marijuana to Montana.

Medical marijuana advocates have sued the state, challenging the new law as unconstitutional and without merit to state’s legitimate interests. The judge has said that he is having a problem with several provisions in the bill, and has suggested that may grant the full injunction rather than pick and strike problematic aspects.

This is just emblematic of the ineptitude that results when ideology takes over common sense and the real purpose of legislating, which is service to the public good.

We here at 4&20 have written about SB423 and medical marijuana (just use that nifty search there on the right), but Montanafesto really has taken the lead in the Montana blogosphere regarding medical marijuana – you can certainly read our in-the-moment calls on the lunacy as it happened, but I digress….

If our Attorney General and Governor were to have some service to the public in mind – keeping in mind that the public, in this case, includes people who are dying and could benefit immensely from medical marijuana – perhaps they would start directing the Department of Public Health and Human Services to get to work drafting some rules and policies for the law that was in place prior to this legislative masturbation ideological boondoggle.

Our legislature had THREE chances at writing laws to reign in what they really hated, which was the commercialization and industrialization of medical marijuana and its associated dispensaries. They ignored the pleadings of law enforcement and city and county governments, all the while the state government having the ability to introduce rules and policies directed at implement the intent of the original law.

Now’s the time to get at it. Medical marijuana advocates should be advocating for it, just like vote-seekers like Bullock and Bozeman’s Larry Jent.

I will not let this opportunity pass without mentioning that all this lawsuit stuff over an unconstitutional law is costing the taxpayers dearly – and if, indeed, this law is struck down as unconstitutional, the taxpayers will indeed pick up a huge tab in legal bills for the medical marijuana advocates.

And if this medical marijuana bill is having this kind of difficulty you can bet your next paycheck that there are a bevvy of other bills out there that became law that will meet the same future.

It’s starting look like the only jobs created out of the 2011 legislative session were those for attorneys, court reporters and paralegals.

(Addendum: Here’s an example of the repeal talk we’ve gotten from Attorney General Steve Bullock:

(Regarding the judge potentially incinerating the entirety of the 2011 legislature’s medical marijuana repeal law): If that occurs, “the commercial marijuana industry and all the problems associated with it would continue to exist in this state,” according to the legal document from Attorney General Steve Bullock, chief of consumer protection Jim Molloy and Assistant Attorneys General Mark Mattioli and Stuart Segrest.

This is simply not true. With all the supplier-end problems – capitalism gone wild, if you will – that have occurred in the last 3 years, no state agency (or even the Attorney General’s office) has stepped forward to write administrative rules to address the issue in a manner consistent and within the parameters of the original citizen’s initiative.

Repeal of this last legislative session’s bill leaves us with the citizen’s initiative law. There’s still plenty of ways to address the problems that have surfaced in recent years – none of which were the cause of cancer patients, and all of which were the result of the supply end of the situation.

Montana’s government failed its citizens. Time to fix that and do the right thing Steve Bullock.

by problembear

might as well put it to good use shining it on some cockroaches……

this republican moron out of nowhere wants to represent montana in congress

do i sound irritated about ignorant prejudice rearing its ugly head in montana?

how about this teaparty moron obsessing about killing homosexuals?

the whole state should make sure we stay mad about that kind of violence prone individual still being supported by members of the republican party in this state.

the mayor of kalispell seems to be going out of her way to send out the welcome wagon for attracting past kkk leaders, white separatists, and the posse comitatus ferrkrissakes. 

by lizard

I got a bit of help with a foul mood I’ve been nursing this week from Adrienne Rich, a phenomenal poet. This shot comes from a poetic series called USONIAN JOURNALS 2000, published in her 2004 collection The School Among The Ruins:

Early summer lunch with friends, talk rises: poetry, urban design and planning, film. Strands of interest and affection binding us differently around the table. If an uneasy political theme rears up—the meaning of a show of lynching photographs in New York, after Mapplethorpe’s photos, of sociopathic evil inside the California prison industry—talk fades. Not a pause but: a suppression. No one is monitoring this conversation but us. We know the air is bad in here, maybe want not to push that knowledge, ask what is to be done? How to breathe? What will suffice? Draft new structures or simply be aware? If art is our only resistance, what does that make us? If we’re collaborators, what’s our offering to corruption—an aesthetic, anaesthetic, dye of silence, withdrawal, intellectual disgust?

War forever. No recourse.

what is to be done?

—Adrienne Rich

by problembear

this really grinds my gears ….. i realize these idiots have the right to assemble. i realize these asswipes have the right to free speech. i realize that they have the right to live here…….

but i also realize that i have similar rights that enable me to do as much as i can to make them feel less comfortable here.

Billings did it decades ago. let’s get busy doing this statewide……….

not in our state.

i think wulfgar has an interesting take on this too

from jhwygirl – I’ve talked in the past about a “value-added” economy, meaning one where raw materials are added to in value. This is where jobs and revenue are created. It would be my preference that we focus our economic growth policies (regulatory and tax) on the “value-added” side and not the extraction of raw resources side. That is because the “value-added” is far more economically advantageous than the mere exportation of raw resources.

Below is a guest post from Matthew Koehler. I’ve taken some liberty there at the end with Roy Keene’s LTE, wishing not to post the entire piece, and instead providing highlights.

This piece is by forester, logger and private timber broker Roy Keene from Eugene, Oregon. While the article deals mainly with Oregon, it also includes eye-opening figures from the greater Pacific Northwest region about the tremendous amount of uncut public lands timber already sold and under contract in the Pacific Northwest.

Right now in the Pacific Northwest there is enough timber already under contract to logging companies and timber mills from federal and state forest lands to fill nearly 500,000 logging trucks (that’s enough logging trucks lined up end-to-end for nearly 4,200 miles. Imagine log trucks lined up end-to-end from Missoula to New York City and back again!) Yet this 2 billion board feet of public timber remains uncut because of the economy, lack of construction and glut of homes and developments already built, but unoccupied.

Yet, given these facts, some politicians want us to believe the timber industry is “starved for timber” and that we need to mandate more logging of our national forests to create “timber jobs?”

~~~
Roy Keene, a forest consultant and private timber broker in Eugene Oregon writes in a guest viewpoint for The Register-Guard:

Drive the Columbia River from Longview into Portland, and you can see big log ships lined up. At least 500 timber jobs leave the Northwest weekly as boatload after boatload of raw logs are exported to Asian mills.

The Business Insider website reports, “While Canada has drastically raised lumber shipments to China in recent years, the U.S. has instead expanded exportation of logs to Chinese sawmills and plywood manufacturers. With exports up 150 percent,” the Insider says, “the U.S. is now the third largest softwood log supplier to China.”

Updated U.S. Forest Service data show 1,100 million board feet of logs shipped out of the Northwest in 2010, compared to 700 million feet in 2009. This year’s first quarter exports, at 390 million board feet, are double the 191 million shipped in 2010’s first quarter.

Here in Missoula County, “value-adding” to timber is a scarcity with Smurfit and Stimson having closed. Pyramid in Seeley is still steaming forward, having specialized on some sort of wood product. Does make you wonder where all the logs are going that you see on the highways.

Keene continues (keeping in mind he writes from Oregon):

Today’s political ploys to increase logging on public lands are little different than what they’ve always been — well rewarded resource plundering. The reality is that global timber corporations are being allowed to exploit the Northwest like a Third World resource center. To honestly restore our jobs and forests, this inequity needs to be resolved by stopping the largest loss first — the unrestricted export of raw logs.

In 1990, DeFazio implored the first Bush administration to resolve domestic timber shortages by invoking the Export Administration Act. This would have eliminated log exports from all public and private lands. Instead of attempting to increase federal timber harvesting, Oregon’s congressional delegation should ask President Obama to do what Bush wouldn’t — invoke this act. Keep the huge volume of Northwest timber already harvested or sold here at home.

Stop raw log exports, and Oregon’s timber workers can significantly swell their ranks to meet the world’s increasing need for high-quality finished wood products. It’s a win-win for the people and forests of the Northwest!

Can’t argue with that.

by jhwygirl

Congratulations are in order for Starla Gade, newly elected chair of the Missoula County Democrats. I happen to know Starla and she is a wonderful progressive and extremely effective organizer. I expect great things. In fact, I’m sure of them.

This month’s meeting – the Missoula County Democrats Central Committee Meeting – appears to be an example of new and great things. Moved from the normal city hall location, it is being held at the Union Club where they will be joined by members of the Labor Movement who will discuss the challenges facing working America.

The Missoula County Democrats Central Committee Meeting begins at 7 p.m.

Tonight’s meeting coincides with the return of Forward Montana’s Progressive Happy Hour, themed Weed Wacker: The Future of Medical Marijuana in Montana.

Progressive Happy Hour starts at 5 p.m. at The Central Bar & Grill on W. Broadway.

Democrats discussing labor at the Union Club? Sounds like fun times to me.

by jhwygirl

In Washington, at least. And some of the biggest players, too – Sen. Lindsay Graham? Sen. Tom Colburn?

Will we see sacred cows fall? Graham cites ethanol subsidies, and calls for ending “…a bunch of other subsidies that go to a few people” and put(ting) the money “back into the federal treasury” for debt reduction.

Looks like reality is making headway in the Senate, if not pissing off Grover Norquist, who may be seeing the beginning of his own insignificance.

Let’s hope, huh?

The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn is taking notice of the refreshing honesty coming from the GOP, pointing out that Reagan’s Budget Director David Stockman admitted that any austerity measures would most certainly make the jobs situation worse:

(Fareed) Zakaria noted that a policy of austerity, along the lines of what Stockman was recommending, would probably make the jobs situation worse. “Yes,” Stockman responded, “the scenario is pretty grim.” Stockman then went on to predict another decade of double-digit unemployment. “It sounds like very harsh medicine,” he said. “But it happens to be a very harsh reality.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty grim. Republican’s can’t impeded every solution offered – in this particular case, Reich was advocating for a massive infusion of infrastructure spending – and so far all I’ve heard them call for is cutting social security and medicare.

Both of which would cost them dearly, politically.

Well…I see I’ve digressed. I do find it interesting that GOPers like Lindsay Graham and Tom Coburn are talking about raising revenues. If they’re saying that, there’s more where they came from.

by jhwygirl

Thought I’d update a post I did last week, given that the Senate took another vote on ending ethanol subsidies – this one an amendment from California Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

A 73 – 27 bipartisan vote moved forward a repeal of the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit, to be included in the Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2011.

Both Montana Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus voted in support of repeal.

~~~
Found this spreadsheet which shows that of all U.S. corn production, 28.7% ends up in our gas tanks.

by jhwygirl

Montanan’s – and the world – first found out about Rep. Denny Rehberg’s push for “hard science” about two weeks ago when he pushed for an amendment that would require “hard science” before the FDA could enact regulatory controls.

Rehberg’s amendment passed. Whee for him, right? And screw the health of Americans….Rehberg was finally able to add something to that very slim resume of his.

Not really…..Rehberg – even as chair – couldn’t follow procedure, having attempted to legislation through Appropriations, which is against House rules.

How embarrassing. Let’s point out here that Denny is chair of that committee. Clearly, he isn’t very effective and doesn’t understand some of the basic parameters of his own committee. I’m sure he blames it on his staff.

What exactly is “hard science”? Here’s the definition, right out of Denny’s original amendment:

Sec. 740. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used by the Food and Drug Administration to write, prepare, develop or publish a proposed, interim, or final rule, regulation, or guidance that is intended to restrict the use of a substance or a compound unless the Secretary bases such rule, regulation or guidance on hard science (and not on such factors as cost and consumer behavior), and determines that the weight of toxicological evidence, epidemiological evidence, and risk assessments clearly justifies such action, including a demonstration that a product containing such substance or compound is more harmful to users than a product that does not contain such substance or compound, or in the case of pharmaceuticals, has been demonstrated by scientific study to have none of the purported benefits.

Yep. Humans as lab rats – body counts required.

Honest to Goddess. And don’t you know those tea party people think they are oh so smart by coming up with the term “hard science” for this crap.

What was Rehberg’s original intent of his amendment? To stop the FDA from regulating what many have said for decades is the overuse of antibiotics in livestock – which is resulting in humans increasingly becoming bacteria resistant, resulting in the need for stronger and stronger antibiotics (or death).

Take a look a the FDA’s apparently-not-“hard-science” report.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee last week threatened to take up Denny Rehberg’s “hard science” cause – having ingeniously found a way to get around that can’t-legislate-from-House Appropriations thing.

Trouble for Rehberg and the rest of the tea party patriots down there in the House is that a bipartisan group of Senators have offered up their own bill which would restrict the use of antibiotics in cattle.

So the tea party bats are loose, crapping in the U.S. House now..and we’ve got dueling bills on an issue that has been generally agreed upon accepted science. Until Denny Rehberg came up with his own new concept: “hard science”.

It’s sad, really. In the future, historians will look back upon this early 21st century political scenery and find accounts of elected officials not only ignoring science, but dismantling the very foundations built by America’s greatest legislators and administrations all to appease the corporate interests of the upper 2% of the population.

By CFS

Dave Stromhaier gave made his official announcement that he will be seeking to take Denny’s former Congressional seat yesterday morning at Missoula’s Farmer’s Market.

Dave prepares to take the podium and announce his platform of taking aim at Tea Pary policies

If you feel the need to become more informed about Dave and his campaign platform, go check out his campaign website www.strohmaierforcongress.com, follow him on twitter with @davestrohmaier or @DaveForMontana, or watch the below video of his announcement speech.

by lizard

Love poems. When I hear that term, part of me cringes. Sickeningly sweet sentimental Hallmark verse quickly comes to mind. Bah, say us modern cynics who keep our romanticism safely caged up, stashed away.

But love poetry is doing just fine, because love is a force that will outlive the crude urge to commodify; this cynical age of late stage Capitalism won’t last forever.

So in that spirit, here are four love poems; three I’ve selected from my library, and one @Lgpguin suggested via tweet. Then I’m off to the wedding that inspired this week’s theme. Continue Reading »

By Dave Strohmaier

Posted by CFS

As you may have heard, I’m planning on rolling out my congressional campaign at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 18, down at the Missoula Farmers Market (North Higgins). I value 4&20 as a forum for Montana and national politics, and wanted you to be the first audience where I publically announced my intentions to run for Congress.

Running for the U.S. House of Representatives is a decision I did not lightly make. My wife, Gretchen, and I spent a lot of time soul-searching and considering what this would mean for us and our family.  On the one hand, not having much in the way of personal wealth and having two small children gives me every reason in the world to avoid the intensity and time and commitment it takes to run and win a major political race. But, on the other hand, not having much in the way of personal wealth and having two small children gives me every reason in the world to embrace the intensity and time and commitment is takes to run and win a seat in Congress. My decision to run is about working

Montanans, not the wealthy, and it’s about our children and the future.  I feel strongly that we cannot sit idly by allowing another 14 years elapse with the sort of representation we’ve had in Congress. This will be a huge effort, requiring a great deal of assistance—both financial and otherwise—but since when did choosing the easy path in life or avoiding risks become virtues?

It’s also an opportunity to unite Montana in a way that heals common divisions between east/west or urban/rural.  We owe it to future generations — and not just the next generation, but even out seven generations — of Montanans to keep this a great place to live, work, and raise a family, and for me this boils down to being good stewards of all that we’ve inherited and been entrusted with—be it the landscape of this Crown of the Continent, the public trust, our cultural heritage, our freedoms and liberty, or investments that create the context for economic prosperity (like my unflagging efforts to pursue a multi-modal transportation policy for this nation that includes passenger rail—passenger rail for southern Montana).

Whether it’s addressing the very real specter of climate change or the equally real challenge of mounting national debt that threatens to diminish the well-being of future generations, the time to act is now, and the acting must avoid merely enriching a few at the expense of the many.

My academic, professional, and life experience is completely different from other candidates currently  in the race. As a historian, author, former wildland firefighter, lifelong conservationist, two-term city councilman, and father of two elementary school-age children, I want to offer fresh perspectives on the challenges facing us as a state and a nation.

Please join me on this adventure to reclaim Montana’s lone House seat in Congress.  Again, if you’re in Missoula on Saturday, June 18, help kick off my campaign by joining me at 10:00 a.m.

at the Missoula Farmers Market, at the old Northern Pacific train station.

Forward,

Dave

by Lesley Lotto

So he went and did it.  Caved to the pressure of the masses who said, “you must resign” because he let his third leg do the talking.  For shame.

I’ve been privately hoping Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York would stay in office.  It seemed that things quieted down quite a bit when the Weenie, err, Weiner went off to “rehab”.  Then there was the dumbest press conference I’ve seen in years with who else, Gloria Allred, and her latest victim (I mean “client”) accusing some man of some thing.  Ginger Lee, the “featured dancer” read: stripper and former porn star who may or may not have sent naked pictures of herself to Weiner.  She said Weiner should step down because he lied and encouraged her to lie and lying is bad I guess.  And I care what you say, because?

Seriously, WE. DON’T. CARE.

At least I don’t care.  I always thought the Congressman had an itch in his pants, but not the literal kind.  He was going to be the next Mayor of New York City after all.  At least that’s what Janeane Garafalo said on Bill Maher last week.

For those of you under a rock the last month, Congressman Weiner tweets his stuff to the world, unbeknownst to him… allegedly, a simple typo apparently, an @ instead of a d.  Then the women start coming out of the woodwork, literally, saying he did nasty things to them ONLINE.  What was illegal about that?  So he was indiscreet, being a married man and all.  One of his “victims” even saying she had to tell because she feared for her life, she feared for her toddler and, oh yeah, there’s that $10,000 ABC News paid me to share my private Weiner tweets which came in quite handy while living as a single mom and all.  Now that’s what I call a stimulus!

Some of the “risqué” photos that have now circulated online show Weiner holding his thing all proud, showing off his rather impressive 6 pack and most recently, posing in the House Gym holding himself again.  I’m guessing all the Congress members pose with their stuff in the mirror, but I’m thinking Debbie Wasserman-Schultz doesn’t then tweet the pic to unsuspecting young coeds.

To me, the whole thing boils down to a sad, insecure individual who was clearly not getting anywhere near the attention he desired.

Now his wife, who’s “Hillary Clinton’s Shadow” aka Deputy Chief of Staff comes back from Africa.  (She’s also “newly” pregnant by the way).  She reportedly encouraged her hubby of a year to stay in office, not resign.  But of course that was before all the mega powers in Congress told him to split the scene and make it keen. But he was “defiant”!

Man it would have been awesome to be a fly on the wall in Africa when the wife found out and told Hillary.  I’m guessing Hill had some words of encouragement, like tell him to stay in office but make him sleep on the couch.  Word is Weiner even apologized to Bill Clinton.  A good President, by any measure, with a tiny blemish on his record, remember that?  A B.J. in the Oval Office.

What could Weiner have possibly apologized to President Clinton for?  “I disgraced you because I couldn’t get ‘er done”?  One does wonder…




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