Archive for July, 2011

by problembear

our one chance to actually make great strides in health care reform in this country when obama came into office was squandered when it was handed over to the insurance weasels who wrote the bill that passed.

and tonight obama caved on everything the tea party demanded regarding raising the debt ceiling. it isn’t a done deal yet though. maybe there is still time to put in a rider that we are all to mow the rich people’s lawns twice a week along with losing portions of our SS, medicare, medicaid etc so the wealthy can keep their tax breaks.

of course the white house is desperately spinning this as an end run strategy to allow the tax cuts for the wealthy to expire in 2012. yeah. i will believe that when it happens.

if emoprog is the opposite of alldeadinsideprog, then count me in.

Sanders/Kucinich in 2012  it is time the people of this country were represented.

by jhwygirl

The Sunlight Foundation, always an excellent source for information much like the Pew Research Center, has an ongoing collaborative effort out there to monitor and document political campaign ads for the purposes of understanding how money moves in elections.

I’ve added the Sunlight Campaign Ad Monitor over there on the left under “Citizen’s Info”. Given the barrage of ads we have coming at us from all sorts of special organizations, ya’all might consider putting this link as a favorite on your browser.

In fact, if you don’t have a DVR, it would also be useful to keep a notebook handy to denote quick information on campaign ads (thinks like the time, channel and who paid for it).


A favorite theory of mine about the fall of the Roman Empire states that centrifugal force (outward) eventually became too much for the centripetal forces (inward) to counteract in the whirling machine that was Roman society.  The costs of holding the Empire together became too much for the benefits of Empire to overcome and slowly portions of the Empire were abandoned, forgotten, or fell away from a lack of resources or will to keep hold of certain possessions.

I bring this up because I wonder… I wonder how far along America is down this road once trodden by Rome.

For almost a thousand years, Rome was the shinning city atop seven hills in whose direction her neighbors cast their glare with envy. Rome – at the founding of the Republic – was a revolutionary idea, an idea that  Romans delivered to the world at the tip of the sword, the base of a road, through amazing organizational skills, and a promise.  The promise that no matter how low a station a person might occupy on their birth to this world the rewards of Roman citizenship could be within one’s grasp.  Citizenship was a symbol,  not even a Roman freedman bowed to a foreign king.  A foreign king might have immense power, but was not the equal of even the lowest Roman.

The idea of Rome, more so than her machinery, was the true glue to which divergent cultures, when coming into contact with Rome, could not escape its inward pull.  The benefits from such technological innovations as voting, legal representation,  logistics, and roads helped a great deal.  But still, the idea that with every conquest, ever glory, every extension of Roman roads another mile from the heart of Empire would result in the improvement of the human condition was the true essence of Rome’s might. For centuries these forces helped the Romans to build perhaps the greatest empire in our short-lived history.

However, centrifugal forces eventually ate into the benefits that Rome could provide, and once the cost/benefit swung away from favoring Rome, her hegemonic status wavered and slowly fell.  Pressure from maintaining a standing army responsible for 1,930,511 sq mi, limits of state bureaucracy, the end of conquest as economic policy, public works that were not maintained and allowed to fall into disrepair, and many other factors put pressure on the state’s ability to maintain a machinery of such immense scope.  The greatest centrifugal force was perhaps the eventual establishment of the principate, an institution by its very definition originally put in place as a stop-gap measure against forces pulling the Empire apart.

Circumstances arose within the last century of the Republic that threatened to tear Roman power and society apart.  The accumulation of so much power  and wealth in the hands of so few had led to a wild escalation in a fanciful game known as politics.  To control Rome was to control the world and bestowed upon the ruling faction the ability to completely wipe out one’s political opponents.  Of course this happened multiple times and it was only through the principate that a cap on deadly political ambitions could be placed.  The principate worked as directed for some time, but eventually became the object of concerted and prolonged power-struggles.  Resources were pulled from investing in Rome’s future and protecting her holdings to fighting civil wars for control of the state machinery.

To bring this back to more modern times, we, like Rome, have found ourselves with an accidental Empire, and we, like Rome, find ourselves with an increasingly hectic political theater more interested in fighting over power than with investing in the future of our country.  And as Congress and the Senate become ever more dysfunctional we are blessed with an increasingly insular Presidency in the process of gathering an ever greater amount of power within its institutional walls.  And our greatest strength, that American sheen that draws people around the world to American ideals is starting to tarnish.

Maybe the stench of decay is especially pungent at the moment and the cliff on which we look over a precipitously steep drop to the jagged rocks below, but whatever the situation, it sure feels as if the Chevy V-8 is only clunking along on 2 cylinders.

No Good Guys Here

by lizard

(Getty Images)

We will never know what would have happened in Libya had NATO not intervened. Those who think the intervention was justified will state a slaughter was stopped from happening, while some of those obnoxious skeptics may still be wondering who these rebels are, and if handing them the keys to Tripoli will mean better things for Libyans.

Unfortunately for the Rebels, there have been a few credibility issues they have had to deal with since the bombs started dropping:

The International Criminal Court (ICC) decided to issue arrest warrants for Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi, his son Seif al-Islam, and Abdullah Sanussi, the country’s intelligence chief, on Monday. The three men are wanted on charges of crimes against humanity for their roles in attacks on civilians – including peaceful demonstrators – in Tripoli, Benghazi, Misrata, and other Libyan towns.

While Western governments and the international media have seized the ICC indictment as a much-needed show of moral support for NATO’s controversial / fledgling military campaign, two of the world’s leading human rights organization – Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch – have just announced that their independent, on-the-ground investigations found no credible evidence for the claim that Col. Qaddafi’s forces have used mass rape as a weapon of war. The NGO investigation did reveal that the rebels in Benghazi have repeatedly and knowingly made false claims or manufactured evidence – essentially to bolster their PR case against Col. Qaddafi.

false claims are not even the worst of it. There have been claims that Gaddafi loyalists have been lynched and beheaded, and Cynthia McKinney has sounded an alarm about Mistrata being “cleansed” by rebels of Black Libyans.

Then Gen. Abdul Fattah Younis turns up dead, killed by the side he defected to.

Alexander Cockburn has this to say:

It is surely one of the great strategic screw-ups in the history of war and intelligence analysis. In March, after the second UN Security Council resolution used by NATO to launch its bombing campaign, the predictions were that Tripoli and thus Ghadafi would fall within two or three weeks. Right and left alike, though not yrs truly, said it was a sure thing.

Yet, here the Guide still is, addressing rallies in Tripoli surrounded by a sixth of Libya’s entire population, while in the other end of the country, it seems that one faction in Benghazi, that of Mustapha Abdul Jalil, head of the rebel Transitional National Council, has just murdered Abdel Fatah Younis, commander of the Libyan rebel forces. There are various accounts, none of them attaching the slightest credence to Jalil’s faltering initial suggestions that it was Ghadafi’s guys who did it. One has Younis being taken prisoner on grounds of opening secret negotiations with Tripoli (very conceivably true), then taken to the desert and shot, along with his bodyguard of two colonels; another that he was tortured to death in Benghazi. Either way this renders moot Sen. John McCain’s letter last week to Jalil warning that credible accounts of serious human violations by the rebels were undercutting whatever support the NATO onslaught retained in Congress.

We are beginning to see some very graphic accounts and videos of the actual conduct of the rebels in torturing and executing prisoners and suspected Ghadafi loyalists in Benghazi, not to mention compulsory reimposition of the burka for women and kindred evidence of rabid fundamentalism among NATO’s clients.

Isn’t making life better for women one of the perks of “liberating” these heathen nations with our humanitarian airstrikes?

America’s foreign policy is stupid, dangerous, deceitful, and self-serving. If only it was about saving civilians. But as this non-war war drags on, it’s getting more and more difficult for the Obama administration to maintain their cover story.

by lizard

I was tinkering around with a poem a few days ago, changing line breaks and trimming off some unnecessary words. I was doing this on the computer, and when I was done, hit save. Instantly all evidence of my revision disappeared.

As a writer, I’m interested in the process of writing, the craft. I’ve been lucky to have had great workshop experiences at UM (thank you Joanna Klink!) and facilitated a few myself (outside the University), and based on feedback from those critical environments, have almost always revised and produced a better poem. Some of that revision is caught on rough drafts, but most of it gets discarded or recycled.

If I was a poet skilled enough for scholars to spend lengthy dissertations analyzing, not having early copies of poems occludes the process by which I make decisions about how a poem is formed upon the page. Personally, I’ve learned a lot about poetry as craft by comparing the finished product of some well known poems with their earlier incarnations (Ezra Pound’s fingerprints on Eliot’s The Wasteland, for example).

And that got me thinking about what else may be getting lost as our modes of communication continues evolving.

This week’s LWPS looks at letters, truly a diminished form of communication in the age of smart phones and instantaneous global communication. Letters are the more refined comment threads of the previous centuries, yet even then, as evident by the 3rd letter I selected, there are similarities between the correspondences of the past and the atomized fragments of communication from the tortured present. Enjoy. Continue Reading »

feel safe now?

by problembear

this article ran accross my twitter timeline a little while ago and i am curious.

excerpt from above article:

“The Air Force, in response to a report published by Truthout earlier this week, has pulled a Christian-themed training session that used a quote from an ex-Nazi SS officer and numerous passages from the New and Old Testament to teach missile officers about the morals and ethics of launching nuclear weapons.”

how’s that make you feel?

A. safe

B. a little creeped out

C. holy crap!

if you chose C you would be right.

imagine if some newly recruited christian identity movement dude who thinks christian fanaticism is swell like this guy were at the controls of the world’s most powerful weapon 200 feet deep beneath the wheatfields of montana late at night…….

now you can be scared. wth is with our air force training program?

by problembear

i have a deep affinity for the bonner area. it is the place i first lived when i moved to missoula. i lived there when champion was running 4 shifts. then they sold it to stimson. stimson closed it for good several years ago and laid off the last few dozen workers last year.  the millsite sits there empty and forlorn. over 1200 good paying jobs have been lost since 1985. i feel for that area. tough people. good people who deserve better. and the place sits empty long after the governor came and shook some developers hand who made big promises. remember? dick king said there were big plans to revive jobs in the area. so far nothing. and for the longest time nobody has heard anything from the developer about it. and when things get quiet i figure that isn’t a good sign.

in 2008 a developer by the name of scott cooney came along and promised big things for the poor people of Bonner. yesterday’s article in the Missoula Independent seems to put an end to those promises for now. and there seems to be a bit of skulduggery afoot….. here is an excerpt but you should read the entire article……..

On the heels of that bankruptcy filing, a trustee representing Blackfoot Land and Water creditors filed a lawsuit last month alleging Cooney mismanaged company funds, including tenant deposits, for his own personal gain. “Sometime during the years 2008 and 2010, Cooney began to use Blackfoot’s account as his personal account,” the suit states. “The amount withdrawn from Blackfoot’s accounts for Mr. Cooney’s personal use and/or that of his other business entities was a minimum of $560,898.51 and possibly substantially more than that.”

j-girl did an excellent story on this back in 2008.

“Recession” Economy lost $400 billion more than first thought in 2007-2009


Here’s the takeaway, it’s quiet simple: Revised figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis were released today, showing that the amount of economic contraction (recession) as reflected by a lowering Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was far greater than had been known at the time and during the last three years’ efforts to ameliorate the “Great Recession”.

Recession is basically measured by an economy’s contraction in GDP over a period of quarters. The BEA revisions released today reflected that GDP contraction from 4th quarter 2007 to 2nd quarter 2009 (right after Obama took office) was a cumulative (negative) 5.1%, not 4.1%. In other words the economy lost about $400 billion more in GDP than was previously realized.

To put that in perspective, the “stimulus” only included about $350 billion in direct spending (the rest was tax breaks and aid to local and state governments).

So there you have it: the stimulus spending was less than the margin of error (as shown by its revisions) of BEA. How could the stimulus have worked? It was far inadequate to meet the task of taking up the slack in the $14 trillion/year economy, which was its “purpose”.

Here’s a graph of the revised GDP figures on which I’ve overlaid the 3 year average loss in productivity, and revised cumulative recession figures.

BEA excerpts after the jump.
Continue Reading »

Why Can’t We All…


…just admit we’re assholes and move on?

Let me start if off… I, CFS, am an insensitive asshole. I’m not apologizing for being an asshole, just admitting it. The wild west of blogging is great because it allows you to be an asshole if you want. I get out all my asshole tendencies here rather than in my day-to-day interactions, and it feels good.

It’s easy to get caught up in calling other people assholes in the blogosphere, in fact it seems to be something that most of us are very good at. When ego is the main thing on display we degrade the debate to a point of childish tit-for-tat. So do we want to continue to try and cannibalize each other’s blogs debating who “represents” true democratic principles? People will figure that part out on their own.

A Fantasy, starring JC the strawman; Rob, whom rusts in place; a hallucinating jwygirl; and Mark the cowardly lion

So… let us skip arm-in-arm towards an Emerald City of hope, promise, and full employment delivered by a magical wizard… forever leaving the land of the small minded behind and banishing the Tea Party to a puddle of slime whose best feature is a prominent wort.

As someone once said…

“there needs to be an after the fight digital drink together.”

Happy Friday… Enjoy a drink and relax.

by jhwygirl

Republicans got no one running the show up there and Democrats are just sitting around waiting for anyone to take the lead. Harry? Put what you got onto the Senate floor. Lead the debate. Lead a debate. Debate. Something. Anything.

At least make us think you all are actually earning that free pizza dinner it appears Boehner & crew enjoyed tonight on the taxpayer dime.

One of the things I’m wondering about is this: Didn’t Republcans, Rep. Denny Rehberg and the rest of the burgeoning pre-2010 tea party complain about voting on bills without 72-hours posting? Didn’t Rehberg refuse to vote on some sort of money/finance/budget bill because it was ‘4 inches thick and who can read this thing overnight?’??

I don’t know what the last Boehner bill scored, yet alone the content of it. Frankly – I don’t know what is in the Reid bill either.

Rehberg’s word isn’t worth crap and too bad Congress doesn’t have a public noticing requirement.

by jhwygirl

First a brief recap: Boehner submitted a budget proposal after he walked away – very publicly – Monday night after President Obama’s speech. His said his bill would save $1.2 trillion, but yesterday, CBO came back with it scored as saving only about $850 billion. So Boehner – who had scheduled the thing for a floor vote Wednesday night – had to pull it due to the disappointing results.

Dems, for their part, had submitted a plan that they said would save “almost $3 trillion.” CBO scored it and – just like the Republican plan – it came back shy of its touted amount: only $2.2 trillion.

For all the tough-talking Boehner and Cantor and Paul have done on the budget, and for the dismissive review they’ve given of anything coming from the other side of the aisle, I’da thought those Einstein’s would have been a little closer. I mean – they didn’t even hit the the $1 trillion point.

Beyond that, Boehner’s bill relied largely on caps on discretionary spending and the interests savings that would have resulted. Boehner tells the nation Monday night that he’ll save the budget crisis – that government is too big – and by Wednesday he’s handed over some sophmoric bill that doesn’t (a) meet the numbers he put out and (b) – more importantly so given all his caucus’ tough talk – doesn’t do any shrinking of government. Doesn’t offer any real reform. Liar. Hypocrite.

But getting back to the topic at hand…

The GOP had a little coaching session last night due to the disappointing review the CBO gave to Boehner’s budget bill. The highlight of the session was a clip from the movie The Town when one thug (played by Ben Affleck) says to another “we’re gonna hurt some people,” and then they proceed to bludgeon two men and then shoot one. In hockey masks.

This link will take you to the full clip – it can not be embedded.

After viewing the clip, Florida Republican and outspoken freshman Rep. Allen West, R-Fla. stood up and said, “I’m ready to drive the car,” surprising even many Republicans.

Ben Affleck was asked what he though – here it is, directly from Huffington Post:

(I)n a statement his spokesperson provided to The Huffington Post, he suggested that Republicans use a different one of his movies next time they need to whip votes.

“I don’t know if this is a compliment or the ultimate repudiation,” said the actor, who is currently in Turkey directing and starring in “Argo,” an adaptation of the Tehran hostage crisis. “But if they’re going to be watching movies, I think “The Company Men” is more appropriate.”

That latter Affleck flick focuses on the plight of middle age men who have been laid off during the recession. (One of them, depressed about being unemployed, later kills himself.)

I wrote yesterday about corporate America thumbing their nose at us unwashed masses?

Last night, the GOP did the exact same thing. Then they beat the crap out of us with baseball bats.

And cheered.


Many people, myself included, believe that the current turn of democratic party ideals to one of austerity in the face of crippling unemployment and vastly widening wealth inequity represents a capitulation to right-wing hysteria over the deficit.

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi puts the cap on most dem’s credibility in Congress by appeasing the clarion calls for austerity:

“It is clear we must enter an era of austerity; to reduce the deficit through shared sacrifice.

The arguments against austerity in the time of crippling high unemployment are legion. But our Congress continues to fall victim to hostage negotiations over the kidnapping of the economy by right-wing ideologues. And Congress is willing to submerge the country in an economic ideology that has no basics in reality–that is that our country suffers from a crisis in confidence due to the level of its debt, instead of focusing on the real crux of our economic crisis, which is lack of consumer demand and it’s companion raging high unemployment levels.

But it isn’t my intent here to derail my post with “peripheral” economic arguments. It is to raise the question: is President Obama ready to man up to the right and invoke the 14th Amendment clause intended to prevent the country from defaulting on its debt? Or is it game over? And if it is game over, what are lefties going to do in a political era that has left them no mainstream representation?
Continue Reading »

by jhwygil

Call it crisis profiteering, call it disaster capitalism – but airlines companies are doing what private corporations do: They maximize profits.

I’ve long made the argument many times in many scenarios that raising taxes or fees does not mean that those costs will be passed on to consumers.

I’ve said that in regards to housing costs, especially. Propose to raise building fees and every realtor and contractor in the city is down in city hall saying that if fees are increase, affordable housing will be no more. Propose to adopt the International Building Code in the legislature and there’s a whole bucket-load of legislators willing to decry the move as something that will make housing unaffordable.

I don’t know that I’ve ever heard any elected official dispute this unfounded complaint. They’ll regurgitate that just like cattle and their cud – some reiterating the claim, others accepting it while lamenting that it (the raise in fees, the new regulation) has to be done.

Say it often enough, and it’s true. Right?

Well, here’s an example of the the basic fact of capitalism: The cost of the product is what the market will bear.

Witness this past week – the GOP-controlled U.S. House of Representatives has refused to extend operating authority for the FAA. What that means is that 4,000 FAA employees have been furloughed without pay. Traffic controllers are, of course, still on the job.

For now. And just to point out the politics of this situation – is there any doubt that we will have an FAA? Air traffic controllers?

In addition to those 4,000 FAA employees that have been laid off, more than 90,000 airport construction and expansion projects have been shut-down. These are projects in process. These aren’t federal jobs, per se – but they are 90,000 construction jobs that then impact the construction supply industry and then the local grocery store and the gas stations and the mall*marts and on and on.

ALSO part of the FAA shut-down is their inability to collect the taxes that are placed on train and plane tickets.

So what did the airline industry do? They raised their ticket prices equal to the taxes on the tickets.

Capitalism is a lovely thing, isn’t it? The market supported that price for a ticket – it had no connection to actual cost of the product. Eliminate a tax and the price stayed the same. In fact, I bet each CEO called each other up and they all agreed it made sense.

And taxes are pretty significant on a plane ticket. An average of $61 per.

Somewhere the RICO Act weeps.

This poor website’s story was relevant for about 2 seconds.

MOST corporations operating in the U.S. pay no taxes.

The U.S. bailed out banks that not only made record profits – they paid little to no taxes. Take Bank of America, for example – BOA received a $1.9 billion refund.

So here we are in a budget debacle. The GOP and Rep. John Ineffective Boehner refuse to eliminate corporate tax breaks while their lobbyists lobby on their corporate employer’s behalf to ensure that is exactly what occurs – and corporations fly in the face of the whole so-called deficit disaster up there in Washington and raise the price of the airline tickets equal to the taxes that would have been collected.

It’s a “screw” to America, people. Hear them laughing?

Let’s not forget that the GOP is never without it’s ideology: Know why the House GOP is holding up extending FAA operational authority – something that has been done 20 times since 2007? Republicans want to toll back a new union elections rule that was adopted by the National Mediation Board last year.

Ideology first. Talking points second. Policy non-existent. Thank you Tea Party, I expect nothing less.

things fall apart…

by problembear

The Second Coming

TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

-William Butler Yeats



by lizard

Terrorists are not suppose to look like Norwegian Ken dolls with bright blond hair and cold blue eyes. Maybe that’s why corporate news coverage has been so minimal. If this terrorist looked more like a dark bearded, dark skinned Muslim, I guarantee we would be treated to hourly updates by CNN, MSNBC, and FOX.

As news of this tragic attack emerged on Friday, speculation immediately centered on Islamic terrorists. Oops.

Even our president took the opportunity to exploit this terrorist attack to pimp the Great War On Terror that he renamed but continues to prosecute vigorously.

Within hours of Norway’s deadly bomb and gun attacks claiming at least 91 victims it has become clear that the horror was perpetrated by a Norwegian loner with rightwing Christian fundamentalist affiliations.

Yet President Barack Obama reacted immediately to the news of the atrocity to insinuate an Islamic connection and to justify America’s war on terror.

Obama spoke on Friday while hosting New Zealand Prime Minister John Key in the White House.

The US President said of the attacks: “It’s a reminder that the entire international community has a stake in preventing this kind of terror from occurring, and that we have to work co-operatively together both on intelligence and in terms of prevention of these kinds of horrible attacks.”

Prime Minister Key added: “If it is an act of global terrorism I think it shows that no country, large or small, is immune from that risk, and that is why New Zealand plays its part in Afghanistan as we try and join others like the United States in making the world a safer place,” he said.

Now that the narrative has changed because of inconvenient facts, our corporate media is barely talking about the attack. Who cares if almost 100 people have been slaughtered by a right wing Christian pro-Israel extremist who hates Muslims. Because it’s not a Muslim terrorist, this evolving story does not apparently warrant interrupting the weekend fluff peddled by our corporate news networks.

For a more in depth look, I recommend checking out one of my favorite blogs, Moon of Alabama. And here is another interesting link to electric intifada.

“So we’ve shown ourselves willing to do the tough stuff on an issue that Republicans ran on.”


With those words, Barack Obama set the tone (or set his feet in stone) for his news conference on July 22nd, 2011, after Speaker of the House John Boehner (again) walked out on negotiations to resolve (er, make the “sell” on) the nation’s impending debt ceiling “nuclear option.”

Doing the right’s dirty work for them: President Obama offered to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security by 650 billion dollars so that we can “have a conversation” about how to invest in and “win the future.”

“We then offered an additional $650 billion in cuts to entitlement programs — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security.”
–Barack Obama at news presser July 22nd, 2011

Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic put the cuts this way:

“And it was a deal that, like Obama’s previous offers, was strikingly tilted towards Republican priorities. Among the provisions to which Obama had said yes, according to a senior administration official, were the following:

Medicare: Raising the eligibility age, imposing higher premiums for upper income beneficiaries, changing the cost-sharing structure, and shifting Medigap insurance in ways that would likely reduce first-dollar coverage. This was to generate about $250 billion in ten-year savings. This was virtually identical to what Boehner offered.

Medicaid: Significant reductions in the federal contribution along with changes in taxes on providers, resulting in lower spending that would likely curb eligibility or benefits. This was to yield about $110 billion in savings. Boehner had sought more: About $140 billion. But that’s the kind of gap ongoing negotiation could close.

Social Security: Changing the formula for calculating [decrease] cost-of-living increases in order to reduce future payouts. The idea was to close the long-term solvency gap by one-third, although it likely would have taken more than just this one reform to produce enough savings for that.”

Presidential Jujitsu 101: Make republicans offers they can’t refuse, knowing they’ll refuse. Make your supporters think you’ve got your fingers crossed behind your back. Then attempt some damage control by giving the left a lesson in conservative economics:

“…If you’re a progressive you should want to get our fiscal house in order, because once we do, it allows us to then have a serious conversation about the investments that we need to make… It’s a lot easier to do that when we’ve got our fiscal house in order. And that was an argument that I was willing to go out and make to a lot of skeptical Democrats…”
–Barack Obama at news presser July 22nd, 2011

My question to you Mr. President is this: Have you gotten to the point where you are willing to lead (as a traditional liberal democrat) yet?

Or is your idea of “leading” telling the left how to think, and then just offering to “talk” about the future? First let’s get the big cuts to entitlements out of the way, then let’s sit down for some decaf to talk about what to do next.

Why, that kind of attitude will really help you get reelected! Not to mention losing the senate to close campaigns in swing states.

Hooray for the jujitsu that provides the cover for all the Obamabots to project their progressive wish lists into your vacuous pronouncements so they can go on their merry way bashing the “principled left” and emoprogs as the root of all that is wrong in American politics when it all goes awry.

Yeah right, Mr. President. Like the right is going to let that be anything more than just talk, talk, talk, hope, hope, hope, and the only change the middle class, the elderly and the poor will see is the pennies, nickels and dimes (and a bunch of lint) left in their pockets as their sacrifices are shared with the wealthy and corporations via their tax breaks.

Anybody else hoping for someone to come along and primary Barack Obama? Or have presidential 2-party politics and primaries truly become worthless? Are democrats fine with a Reagan Democrat at the helm of their party as we witness the emergence of the 21st century neoliberal version of Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama’s self-avowed hero?

I’ll leave you all with some words from President Obama that he wrote recently in USA Today:

“When the future looked darkest and the way ahead seemed uncertain, President Reagan understood both the hardships we faced and the hopes we held for the future. He understood that it is always “Morning in America.” That was his gift, and we remain forever grateful.”

Yes, Barack Obama channeling “Morning in America.” Doesn’t that make you feel warm and fuzzy right now?
Consider this a nice weekend open thread on the brinksmanship coming out of Washington D.C.

And if you want some light weekend reading, here’s the Time article on Obama’s “Reagan Bromance.”

Barack loves Ronnie

Do I detect a legacy in the offing???

by lizard

I’d like to congratulate Missoula Independent’s Skylar Browning for being included in Ina May Gaskin’s new book, Birth Matters.

So for this weekend’s poetry series, I decided to grab the anthology No More Masks: An Anthology Of Twentieth-Century American Women Poets (edited by Florence Howe) from the shelf, and found these two poems by Denise Levertov. Enjoy! Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Got a press release from Northern Plains Resource Council yesterday announcing Forest Mars, Jr.’s buy-in to the Tongue River railroad, which is needed to transport the dirty filthy coal of Otter Creek from Montana to China.

Later, I went and read my favorite supermontanareporter John S. Adams’ blog MT Lowdown and found a thorough report – with handouts – on the Mars/Warren Buffett/Arch Coal purchase deal on the dirty coal railroad.

Seems Mars – who had been fighting the railroad across his lands in the Tongue River – has purchased 1/3 into the railroad with a deal that would re-route it across Montanans to the east.

Mars had been one of the highest profile landowners fighting the impending eminent domain proceedings to place that railroad.

Of course – and you have to read MT Lowdown – Forrest Mars, Jr. is framing himself the saviour of the Tongue River Valley and he’s notified Northern Plains Resource Council of his decision to cease funding of legal challenges to the railroad.


What I find in life is that karma is hard to avoid. So while Mars thinks he’s bought his freedom from that railroad crossing his ranch, his ranch lies in the path of the connection Wyoming needs to cheaply take their coal to china. And as state Attorney General laid out in his “NAY” vote to Otter Creek, Wyoming is all too eager to move their coal through to Montana to get it on the main BN line on its way to China.

Read Bullock’s words carefully. Understand the poor economic decisions made by leasing Otter Creek at a hugely discounted pro-coal industry price. the corporate welfare give-away that it is. Wyoming producers are not going to let go of $100 million a year in savings by saying bye-bye to a railroad that would save them that much money. Each year.

I’m going to have to start a new category here. Something like “Colonization of Montana”. I just went and looked at some of our previous posts on Otter Creek and eminent domain. Should make anyone sick to their stomach.

I said this back when the Governor signed that eminent domain bill into law back in May – It is the rise of the ghosts of the Copper Kings. It will be a turning point in our history, just as the sale of Montana Power..

Remember that Montanans. We appear to have forgotten our history. I assure you, the next few years and court battles will remind us how fateful that misstep was.

playing chicken…..

by problembear

while it is pretty obvious that president obama loves america so much he is willing to grovel for any kind of deal he can get to save this country from the crushing debacle of bankruptcy……….(note to self:  invite the president to my next garage sale-what a pigeon!)…….. , it is equally obvious the teaparty does not love america. but what do you expect from a multinational corporation financed astroturf creation which attracts those who adore the flag of the confederacy.

the question is……… does the republican party really love america enough to man up and help us save her? 

and if this game of chicken between two dysfunctional parties does end in a huge wreck which ruins the full faith and credit of america, i have a sneaking suspicion that historians in the future will mark this as the beginning of the rise of an independent party that recruits the majority of americans who are running out of patience with both parties. enough is enough.

it is time that the politicians in washington quit playing chicken with the american people.

by lizard

You read the title right. This post is sort of a defense of Rupert Murdoch.

How can some cantankerous lefty blogger dream up a way to defend a media mogul who appears to be getting what he deserves, you ask? Good question. Let me see if I can formulate a decent answer.

First it should be noted this phone-hacking scandal is, as of now, primarily a British phenomenon (being watched very closely in Australia), and what is driving this story is the broadening scope of the corruption. Scotland Yard is tarnished, Royals were targeted, and David Cameron has to return “hastily” from an African trade mission to throw down in parliament. How did we let one man and his media empire get this powerful, many Brits are asking themselves.

On this side of the pond, our corporate punditry are absolutely salivating over the prospect that 9-11 victims may have been phone hacked. If the scandal spreads, those jackals will have a juicy carcass to devour. How delicious.

So before the feeding frenzy commences, as it surely will to some degree, I think it’s important to keep two things in mind:

1. The Telecommunications Act of 1996
2. Warrant-less Wiretapping

Rupert Murdoch, like Bernie Madoff, is quickly becoming a sacrificial lamb, and the crony capitalist system ultimately benefits because it turns these men into focal points for the masses to channel their rage at, while the system that nurtures their (not-isolated) abuses of power remains—not just intact—but stronger.

We are being lied to and spied on so routinely it barely registers anymore. Stories like this, meh.

So yeah, I’m sort of defending Rupert Murdoch. People can get a cathartic rush watching him duh and mumble his way through that civil inquisition, but if this opportunity to see the larger picture comes and goes, like it probably will, then we’ve been served another tasty psychological dish by the kleptocrats.

Mea Culpa

by Duganz

I posted a piece on Monday about the Missoula Independent that contained an error which put the piece in question. As such, I removed it. I apologize for the mistake.

by lizard

Rachel Maddow’s piece on the debt ceiling showdown tonight was very interesting, because it again hinted at the last ditch effort of a constitutional end-around theoretically possible for Obama to pull off if the Tea Party persists in holding the house hostage.

If Obama wants some advice from the guy he’s doing a bad job of emulating with his economic team (or who’s left, considering how many already jumped ship), he should just go ahead and do it:

Former President Bill Clinton said Monday he wouldn’t hesitate to raise the debt ceiling without congressional approval–a fraught political course that President Obama has been reluctant to follow as he seeks to broker a deal on spending with Republican leaders.

Clinton told The National Memo he would invoke the constitutional option “without hesitation, and force the courts to stop [him]” if Congress and the White House fail to reach an agreement to raise the debt ceiling by the Aug. 2 deadline when the U.S. Treasury says the government will begin to default on its debts.

Who knows how this whole thing will play out. Maddow mentioned that markets may not wait for the “self-imposed” date of August 2nd to reek havoc.

How ironic would it be if Obama was “forced” to expand the power of his office because of alleged small government extremists who have successfully snatched control from the near-extinct species of sensible Republicans?


If you’ve been paying attention to all the hoopla, you’ve heard by now that the House passed a draconian bill to address the looming crisis over the debt ceiling. I’m not going to go into details. Pogie put up a nice summation of what is going on over at ID, and I’ve got some comments about what’s going on there.

As part of the discussion over there, Steve W. mentions that there will be a protest at Rep. Rehberg’s Missoula office at high noon on this friday in front of Rehberg’s office at 301 E. Broadway.

While showing solidarity against Rehberg’s vote is a good thing, I still feel that everybody left of center should be aware that part of the right wing strategy here is to suck democrats into some kind of vote against Medicare and/or Social Security and Medicaid so as to blunt the effects of them having gone on record as wanting to privatize Medicare with their budget vote in the spring.

Republicans would love nothing better than to be able to turn the tables on dem candidates by showing them to have voted against Medicare, S.S. and/or Medicaid on the debt ceiling vote.

And of course, we have no way of knowing what will be in the final debt ceiling bill, and how our two dem senators will vote. Which is why I’d like to suggest that folks turn out in droves to the protest at Rehberg’s office and carry signs telling Baucus and Tester to keep their hands off of Medicare, S.S. and Medicaid cuts.

For those who want a bit more meta on the debt ceiling story from the left, George Ochenski has a great article “Dear Democrats” over at the Missoula Indy. And he puts my sentiments very clearly:

“When I hear Obama say Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are all part of what might have to be chopped in his secret deal-making with Republican leaders, deep resentment wells up in me. And I am not alone.

…there are a handful of Democrats, including former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who say they will never renege on Social Security. But it’s a very tough thing for Democrats who want to keep faith with the party’s working-class base when their President is so obviously willing to give in to outrageous Republican demands…

So here’s the simple message to Democrats: We are watching and we are fed up with you selling us out. Your choice at this juncture is equally simple: Listen up—or lose.”

I’ve appended a version of the email alert that went out in Missoula today about the rally after the jump.
Continue Reading »

by lizard

(original art by Michael McCurdy)

Of the dozen books I brought home from my trip to Kansas City, the one I’ve been picking up the most is Edward Abbey’s Earth Apples (edited by David Petersen). The reason, of course, is because the continuing noise/flash-point of the little EF protest (rife with littering, strong fragrance, and banjo playing) is apparently a difficult topic to put down. Continue Reading »

the dark side

by problembear

i remember watching in disbelieving horror as ronald reagan- a right wing reactionary governor and two bit has been actor from california was sworn in as our 40th president in 1981.

but given the perspective of the entropy of this nation today, he towers above the tea party lemmings on the right side of the aisle in congress today. 

turns out the gipper or my favorite- bonzo’s buddy had to raise the debt limit of this country 17 times. ronny was no genius but even he had the mental wattage to figure out that you don’t sell your country’s survival down the drain for party politics.

of course he opened the door to the west wing and invited the parasitic corporate military industrial complex in for cigars which has led to this today. nice goin’ ronny boy. now the country is ruled by multinational gangster corporations who could care less about the survival of the USA. but that is a story that is unfolding into a dark place today.   the dark side of politics is now clear:

keep hitting your head ron. we all feel the same. the worm you invited into the oval office is now devouring its host.

the inspiration for this post came from the twitterfeed of this fine person from north carolina. i suggest you follow him if you agree. this freak show being put on by the tea party clowns has gone on long enough. this bear is about fed up with the GOP selling this country out with lies and political sabatoge. they are either with us or against the USA. train is leaving and time is running out (and so is the patience of regular americans.)


Woof, Woof, Woofnothin’ but trash and you know… I might like ’em more after my lobotomy.”

With apologies to Weird Al.

Update: Seems I forgot a few lines:

“…Judge Wopner, oh my
You gotta be Rainman to like this guy
Thirtysomething is alright
If you like hearing yuppies whining all night…”

by jhwygirl

Mike O’Herron, candidate for Ward 5’s city council seat is holding a meet & greet this Wednesday. This is an excellent opportunity to meet a candidate who is an independent, committed to bringing balanced leadership and representation to Ward 5.

I really like Mike. Off the top of my head, O’Herron was the original Chicago Hot Dog stand micro-business owner that any downtown dweller is well-familiar. He and his wife have put together a scholarship program themselves. At the city council forum last week – and darn if I don’t have my notes here – he spoke of recently acting as an ambassador, of sorts, escorting two potential business investors around the area in an effort to do his part to bring better jobs to Missoula.

I do believe one of the two have committed to bringing their business here. It’s one of the things I intend to pick his brain about on Wednesday.

If you read the most recent Missoulian article that mentioned Mike, you’ll know he’s committed to creating an environment here in Missoula for good-paying jobs. When you listen to him speak, he talks about finding out what kind of future Missoulians want – and from there, he wants to help make that happen.

I really like Mike’s commitment to public involvement. I also appreciate his commitment to policy, not politics. Mike O’Herron wants solutions. He feels Ward 5 has been essentially unrepresented due to the lack of leadership of its current representation. Mike wants to bring a real voice and true representation back to Ward 5 constituents.

Here’s the info on Mike O’Herron’s meet and greet:

The Mike O’Herron for City Council Campaign invites you to our Campaign Kickoff Event

What: Meet & Greet with Mike O’Herron, Candidate for City Council
Where: Linda Vista Golf Course Clubhouse
When: Wednesday July 20
Time: 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

Contributions welcome, but come no matter what!

Reasons to attend:
· It’s an excellent networking opportunity – Meet Mayor John Engen!
· There will be refreshing cold drinks and plenty of hors d’oeuvres
· It’s an easy event to attend — Can pop in for a few minutes or stay longer
· I need your support to help me win this election!

5:30 on a Wednesday with refreshing cold drinks at Linda Vista? Seriously people – take the time to go meet Mike O’Herron and find out what real leadership would mean for Ward 5.

We’ve written a number of times about Mike – as has Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller, at her blog Missoula Red Tape.

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