Archive for August, 2011

by jhwygirl

Every year, the Montana Pride Network puts on a gathering somewhere in Montana to celebrate diversity and equality. This year’s celebration was held in Bozeman, which rolled out a gracious welcome to all who attended this state-level event held June 17th, 18th and 19th.

In the video below you’ll see starting around the 30 second mark our own fabulous b’birder (albeit infrequent, but we don’t hold it against him because he is doing really fabulous work with the Montana Human Rights Network) Jamee Greer. You’ll also see another person whom I respect, Bozeman Mayor Jeff Krauss, speaking on the important of equality. Most politicians here in Montana wouldn’t speaking so publicly on this issue – Krauss proposed Bozeman’s equality ordinance at the first public meeting after he took office.

“You Are Loved” is the title:

You Are Loved from Wet Paint Studios on Vimeo.

The video was done by Wet Paint Studios. It is a film partnership started by Vanessa Naive and Jeff Dougherty, and this is their first video documentary. You can also hit that link and go to their facebook…but I’m all yucky on facebook, so I’m not linking it here.

:)

I look forward to the day that equality for all is just the way it is. That we don’t even have to talk about equality or gay marriage as if gay marriage is different from marriage. I long for a day when government stays out of churches and churches stay out of government. How can one human being deny another human being his human right to express love?

The time is coming. Equality is coming. Let’s bring it here faster by speaking openly in support of equality, whether you are straight, gay, lesbian or queer. We are all brothers and sisters. It’s time to speak for each other.

By JC

Ok, if you pay attention to politics at all, you know that: 1) anything Obama supports publicly will be met with a big “NO” from the right; 2) the economy is in the tank, and there is no meaningful job growth happening; and 3) next week the President is giving another speech on jobs. And there’s a web full of speculation and commentary about it (276,000 search returns for “obama jobs speech” as of this writing!).

So let the armchair politickin’ begin. Consider this an open thread. Here are the rules:

  • What should Obama say?
  • What do you think he will say?
  • What do you see as politicly viable jobs proposals?
  • Do presidential speeches have any value, and if so, what ?
  • Place no blame and no personal attacks. It gets this debate nowhere.

If this feels like a PoliSci 101 first day of class essay/debate exercise, it sort of is — it is very similar to one I heard of this week, as college opened. Have fun!

What Would MLK Say?

by lizard

Martin Luther King was connecting some important dots before he was assassinated. In his speech about Vietnam, A Time To Break Silence, he expanded the sphere of oppression, putting the war in the context of US Imperialism.

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of U.S. military “advisors” in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

*

Barack Obama is in the impossible position of being America’s first black president. Political correctness and the more nuanced, covert forms of racism make any conversation about this nearly impossible to have.

Regardless, I’m going to trudge along by picking up something I dropped in a thread at Intelligent Discontent, in a post about governor hopeful Neil Livingstone “coddling” Gadaffi (as an aside, the attention Pogie has brought to Livingstone’s presence in Montana politics has been much appreciated by this reptile).

Because I often come off as an impractical isolationist, Pogie asserted his position in this comment, then repeated a question I had failed to answer (read the whole the thread, it’s a lively discussion):

I do think the United States has a moral obligation to help prevent mass killings. I think we did the right thing to intervene in Bosnia and the wrong thing to ignore Rwanda and Darfur. Since you didn’t answer my question, is it fair to assume that your position is we should not ever intervene? Did we do the right thing in Bosnia? In Darfur?

my response, though phrased a bit tastelessly, went like this:

Don, “doing the right thing” is just the PR spin for public consumption. if there’s no strategic importance, then this country will be much less likely to commit our national resources to intervention.

intervention in the Balkans resulted in camp Bondsteel. Darfur? meh, just Africans killing Africans.

there’s obviously more to it than just that. this is interesting:

The link I then provided is something I ran across while trying to figure out how to respond, which asks the question Intervention in Libya, why not Darfur?. Here is the part that jumped out at me:

Hamilton says Libya underscores for her how the battle to protect civilians takes place in the realm of global geo-politics. In this case it was the Arab League’s request to the UN Security Council to enforce a no fly zone and protect civilians that made the difference.

“Without that then you would have had China in particular doing what it did in Darfur–and which is its typical position–which is to threaten to veto anything that looks interventionist,” said Hamilton.

“But with the Arab League specifically requesting to the UN Security Council that they do this, I think that led to China agreeing to abstain and let such a strong civilian protection resolution go through.”

The Arab League was willing to forsake Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in a way it was never ready to forsake Sudanese President Omar al Bashir. Michael Knights of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy says a key motivating factor in the Libya intervention was the widespread desire to see Gaddafi fall.

“The Arab League generally has no love for Gadhafi,” said Knights. “Many of the key players have a strong desire to see Gadhafi fall because of prior disagreements and bitter conflicts that they’ve had with him. Likewise the West has long-lasting grudges against Gadhafi whether they be the U.S., the British, the French.”

With that in mind, this post at Lenin’s Tomb looks at the potential for racially-charged attacks that may be happening in Tripoli as the “rebels” fill the power vacuum:

It’s also true that while the basis for this revolt was and is the manifest injustices and oppressive cruelties of the Qadhafi regime, racism has haunted the revolt from the start, with the early hysterical rumours about “African mercenaries” (hint: Libyans are Africans – they meant black people). Now this racism has fused with the revolution in the most dangerous, ominous way.

Yes, Qadhafi uses mercenaries to kill his opponents – it’s not unknown for him to do this. He may be using some of his networks built up over years of intervention in sub-saharan Africa. But it just so happens that racism operates on real antagonisms. For example, I don’t know or think it inherently important how many of these are black (‘African’), and how many are brown (‘Libyan’, or ‘Arab’), and how many are white (Russian and Ukrainian, one reads) – it only becomes important when you apply a racist ideological frame to the subject. And that frame, having corroborated the harrassment and beating of African and immigrant workers by some rebel forces, and threatening serious “mob violence” against said workers, is now justifying purges against black and immigrant workers, when the revolution had the capacity to end that oppression.

So the Arab League was willing to green light NATO’s “humanitarian” regime change because of old beef, and now sub-Saharan immigrants are facing the possibility of being targeted because of their race by rebel forces. Should any of this bother our first black president? And what would Martin Luther King think of this latest evolution in US imperialism?

Here’s Conn Hallinan echoing the trajectory my thoughts have taken regarding Libya and recent US foreign policy:

Massacres are bad things, but the U.S. has never demonstrated a concern for them unless its interests were at stake. It made up the “massacre” of Kosovo Albanians in order to launch the Yugoslav War, and ended up acquiring one of the largest U.S. bases in the world, Camp Bond Steel. It has resolutely ignored the massacre of Palestinians and Shiites in Bahrain because it is not in Washington’s interests to concern itself with those things. Israel is an ally, and Bahrain hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet. Cole accepts the fact that Qaddafi would have “massacred” his people, but his evidence for that is thin, and he chooses to completely ignore the deaths and casualties resulting from the NATO bombing.

The U.S. is interested in a “lawful world order.” That would certainly come as a surprise to the Palestinians, the Shiites in the Gulf, and peasants in Colombia who suffer the deprivations of death squads aided by the U.S. (see the Washington Post story of 8/20/11) etc. The U.S, supports international law when it is in its interests to do so, undermines it when it is not, and ignores it when it is inconvenient. I wish Cole were correct but he is not. The record speaks for itself.

Okay, spot on for the NATO alliance, which is exactly the problem. Africa has increasingly become a chess piece in a global competition for resources and cheap labor. It is no accident that the U.S. recently formed an African Command (Africom)—the Libyan War was the organization’s coming out party—and is training troops in countries that border the Sahara. It is already intervening in Somalia, and a recent story in the New York Times about an “al-Qaeda threat” in Northern Nigeria should send a collective chill down all our spines. NATO has already “war gamed” the possibility of intervention in the Gulf of Guinea to insure oil supplies in the advent of “civil disturbances” that might affect the flow of energy resources.

NATO represents western economic and political interests, which rarely coincide with the interests of either the alliance’s own people, or those of the countries it occupies. The Libyan intervention sets a very dangerous precedent for the entire continent, which is why the African Union opposed it. Who will be next?

Barack Obama has used his placement as president to further the goal of US Imperialism, even if that means using NATO to embolden a rebel contingent that possesses within its complex (and loose) associations the potential for racially-targeted violence.

If he was alive today, what would King say to this president? Would he pity him his impossible job? Would he congratulate him for doing his best? Would he council him and speak of forgiveness and say it’s never too late to change course?

or would he say STOP GIVING COVER TO THE IMPERIALISTS AND VULGAR CAPITALISTS WHO ENRICH THEMSELVES THROUGH IGNORANCE, HATE, FEAR, AND GREED…

*

P.S. For party loyalists who wish to resurrect hope for 2012, playing the race card is not a good idea.

by problembear

i would like to know what in the hell is up with the US postal service lately? at least here in missoula. a very important piece of correspondence was mailed to my address last week on wednesday from seattle.

now usually, in the past (maybe even the dim past- since i have rarely corresponded using US mail for the past 5 years) first class letters mailed from seattle used to arrive at my house either the next day or one day later.

an equally important letter from the same party took 5 days to reach me back in march. and again it took 4 days to reach me this past july. i am not too worried that the piece is lost since 4-5 days seems normal and monday it will most likely arrive. but still…… if ever a service has convinced me to never use them again for important mail it is the USPS.

the poor mail snail delivers our mail and stuffs it with junk mail virtually every evening. all my other important stuff is handled online- bills, payments, etc. so i usually don’t care when he arrives. but i have noticed that he arrives randomly now from noon to eight thirty (that is in the pm!!!!!)

judging from this one bear’s experience with this agency i believe the wheels are definitely coming off of the USPS.  am i wrong? is this just an odd anomaly concerning our route or are others experiencing late night deliveries too?

am i crazy or is the USPS just falling apart?

 

 

by problembear

 

“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. ”  — Martin Luther King Jr.

48 years ago today……

http://www.mlkmemorial.org/

(excerpt)

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”2

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

                Free at last! Free at last!

                Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!3

by jhwygirl

I know I have at least a few readers from the Bozeman area, and since hunting season is coming up I’m hoping that this may be an opportunity to clear out that freezer to help out a well-deserving entity that could use that game meat.

From today’s Missoulian comes a call for game meat by the Montana Raptor Conservation Center located in Bozeman Montana.

No burger jerky or carcasses. There’s a full description of what they can use on their website.

Raptors are magnificent birds. I’ve had the pleasure of close contact, with a rehab specialist, of both golden and bald eagles. I’ve also held orphaned black bear cubs. All have been events I will never forget. Look an eagle in the eye? Have them look at you? It’s moves your soul.

Please help if you can. If you are in the Bozeman area, give your hunting buddies a call too, to see if they need to clear out that freezer. The Montana Raptor Conservation Center phone number is (406) 585-1211. You can also email them by clicking that link.

by lizard

(posted a day early because tomorrow I’m heading up to Glacier)

Leonard Shlain’s The Alphabet Versus The Goddess is one of the most intriguing books I’ve ever read. His premise feels right. Below the fold you will find a long but worthwhile synopsis by the author.

But before we get to that, I’d like to prime the synopsis with another great poem by Sharon Olds. This one comes from her first book, Satan Says, published in 1981. The poem is perfect for this post, and I would suggest rereading it after finishing Shlain’s bold assertion.

*

THE LANGUAGE OF THE BRAG

I have wanted excellence in the knife-throw,
I have wanted to use my exceptionally strong and accurate arms
and my straight posture and quick electric muscles
to achieve something at the center of a crowd,
the blade piercing the bark deep,
the haft slowly and heavily vibrating like the cock.

I have wanted some epic use for my excellent body,
some heroism, some American achievement
beyond the ordinary for my extraordinary self,
magnetic and tensile, I have stood by the sandlot
and watched the boys play.

I have wanted courage, I have thought about fire
and the crossing of waterfalls, I have dragged around

my belly big with cowardice and safety,
my stool black with iron pills,
my huge breasts oozing mucus,
my legs swelling, my hands swelling,
my face swelling and darkening, my hair
falling out, my inner sex
stabbed again and again with terrible pain like a knife.
I have lain down.

I have lain down and sweated and shaken
and passed blood and feces and water and
slowly alone in the center of a circle I have
passed the new person out
and they have lifted the new person free of the act
and wiped the new person free of that
language of blood like praise all over the body.

I have done what you wanted to do, Walt Whitman,
Allen Ginsberg, I have done this thing,
I and the other women this exceptional
act with the exceptional heroic body,
this giving birth, this glistening verb,
and I am putting my proud American boast
right here with the others.

—Sharon Olds

Shlain has this to say
: Continue Reading »

Ineffective Messaging

by jhwygirl

JC had a post a while back“You Can’t Have Compromise Without Intransigence”; A Shout-Out to the Left – which is one of my more favorite b’bird posts of late due to the subject of messaging.

My writing focus varies over time just as much as, probably, my writing signature. It’s just the way it goes…. parallels life when I think about it.

Along with all that writing comes some analysis of others and their messaging, whether it is the written or the spoken form. Sunday mornings are for news shows. It’s a race to the bottom often, depending on the weekly tragedy or crime or attack or stock market crash or sex scandal. With that comes lots of messaging.

I’m not talking the content of that messaging – not the obvious point they’re trying to get across. I’m talking the method by which they are attempting to get their message across. Is there an overall consistency? A focus? A goal? What is what they are saying doing for me? What impression am I left with overall?

David Axelrod was on CNN’s State of the Union with a one-on-one interview. Sometimes you get the talking heads, sometimes you get a round table…but this was one-on-one, and the topic was Obama’s jobs plan. You know – the one he has, but he’s not going to tell us any more until sometime in September.

Wouldn’t want to be trying to fight for attention with congress…who…is… Wait. Congress isn’t in session?

Anyways – the question is posed:

Well, and — but one could — a cynic might also suggest, and let me suggest it here, that you are all are putting things out there that you know, particularly the House Republicans will not go for so that you can then have that to run on.

So you know, there’s politics kind of at both ends of this spectrum, is there not?

I sat up….”aww..come on Axelrod – don’t blow it,” I thought.

Know that the odds most Sunday mornings, unless the @RaginCarville or @DWStweets are on the odds are 50/50.

Candy, I think what you will find when the president unveils the entire program is that there is nothing in there that reasonable people shouldn’t be able to agree on. And if we make the House Republicans, and particularly that Tea Party faction, if we make them the standard, we’re in deep trouble. This is the group that almost brought us to the brink of default.

And one of the problems that I have right now is too few Republicans are willing to stand up and say to that group back off, let’s do what is good for the country, let’s not be so partisan, so ideology that we can’t come together and solve our problems.

Steeeerike!

Once again I get the overall message from the chief talking head of the Democrats that crazy people, because they talk loudly, are what we’re concerned with. Not jobs.

Me? What would I have said? Something like this: “Look. President Obama is going to do what is best for America. And what is best for America is jobs. We need Americans working and we need them working now. And we’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure that each and every American that wants a job has a job. A good paying jobs. We’re going to look at policies that attract American jobs right here. We’re going to stop rewarding those that take American jobs overseas. That’s what we’re going to do.”

They never like anything too specific on Sunday morning, pre-brunch….otherwise….

~~
I get campaign emails. If you’re reading this blog, you probably get ’em too. One particular candidate sends me requests fairly regularly. Twice a week, I’d say, on average. Never once – never once – has this candidate or his campaign or his supporters asked me to donate because of something he has done. Every request is paired with the “My opponent is evil” message. “If you don’t vote for me xyz will happen.”

Terrorizing me to donate…and to vote, I suppose.

One message is getting out there loud and clear. Why? Because it is being validated continually by the opposite side. Daily. Hell – on Sunday? Axelrod was on at least two shows as I recall and was asked essentially that same question both times. Which is probably why his reply stuck with me.

In some ways I think it’d be different if Democrats weren’t – message wise – sitting in the audience waiting to see what they need to reply to. Me? I want to know what they are going to do for me.

That message isn’t getting out there. Some apologist can come in here and beat me the head with what he’s done – but what’s done is done. What is this candidate going to do? Will he vote to increase government revenues by cutting tax breaks for bit oil and gas and coal? Hell if I know. I’ve tried to pin him down on student loans and the reply letter will make your head spin.

Instead, what I know from the Democrats messaging is that I need to fear the Tea Party. The truth is, I don’t need the Democrats to tell me that Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry and Sarah Palin and Denny Rehberg are dangerous. I’da figured that out on my own.

Pretty sure about that.

But hey – if we’re going to allow them to drive our agenda, we may as well fully embrace that idea instead of playing this wimpy game of pretending to be in charge while failing to push forth any semblence of leadership I can trust.


by lizard

With Gadaffi in hiding, or on the run, and his compound thoroughly looted of its gold-plated AK-47’s, the administration can breathe a short sigh of relief. Those nags on the left and right won’t have this hostility-free, not-really-a-war war to harp on anymore, right?

And really, what would be the point of repeating the same criticism? Regime change was accomplished through the easily predictable mission creep of NATO (ab)using a UN resolution. Big deal. This casual (civil) war, launched (unleashed) during March Madness, has finally reached its late-summer crescendo. Any nag who wants to crap on positive headlines for Libya (and a boost for Obama’s reelection prospects) should quit acting like a teabagger doing the dirty work of the GOP (woof, grrr).

Obama should enjoy his Mission Accomplished moment, because who knows what will be happening in Libya a year from now.

Richard Haas, head of the US Council on Foreign Relations, had this to say in the British Financial Times (content only available to registered users):

International assistance, probably including an international force, is likely to be needed for some time to help restore and maintain order. The size and composition of the force will depend on what is requested and welcomed by the Libyan National Transitional Council and what is required by the situation on the ground.

President Barack Obama may need to reconsider his assertion that there would not be any American boots on the ground; leadership is hard to assert without a presence.

Why stop the mission creep at regime change? Libya needs stability to produce its sweet crude, and if ground troops are required to impose stability, so be it.

This story is getting boring. It’s just the same old imperial bullshit dressed up in slightly different packaging, repeated over and over and over again.

By JC

Tea Party takes it as a sign from god to cut spending!

Nevermind. (But read the comments–they’re hilarious!)

The Free Republic claims that Obama said the earthquake happened somewhere along “Bush’s Fault”.

 
“This is a question of whether American democracy itself can beat back a corporate takeover”
— Rep. Ellie Hill, D-Missoula

By JC

I’ll let the voices of a few of Missoula’s leaders in support of amending the U.S. Constitution to restrict corporate “personhood” tell the story (from behind the paywall at a local chapter of a national corporate newspaper chain):

University of Montana professor Vicki Watson thanked the council for bringing the referendum forward and said she wanted the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an official message it erred. She said extending civil rights to corporations “makes a mockery of our sacred human rights.”

“Corporations do not bleed or feel pain. They can’t die in an unsafe workplace,” Watson said.

Rep. Ellie Hill, D-Missoula, said she pitched a similar piece of legislation in Helena, and she heard support from Democrats and Republicans all across the state. Hill noted Montana history is laced with stories of big money, such as the Copper Kings, buying influence.

“This is a question of whether American democracy itself can beat back a corporate takeover,” Hill said.

Mary Stranahan… said putting power back into the hands of the people is a huge matter. She encouraged people to seek more information about the national movement from The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, www.celdf.org.

“I think this is one of the most important issues we as a country face in trying to preserve what democracy we have,” Stranahan said.

And to those of you who complained in the comments of my last post on this issue, that the City Council should attend to more important matters, you got your wish: they also approved spending $188,829 on a machine to fill pot holes.

I’m just back from several days of vacation on a (mostly) deserted lake somewhere in NW Montana (and aching legs to prove it), and I’ll have much more to say about this issue in the future. One point I’d like to focus on is the stance that Missoula’s other newspaper publisher (and I presume many other newspapers) has taken in opposition to the movement to amend the U.S. Constitution to reserve 1st Amendment rights to the flesh and blooded. That somehow that would affect the 1st Amendment’s bedrock protection of freedom of the press.

I think that debate is a very worthy one to have. What is at stake is not just the fallout from Citizen’s United, but future fallout from a concerted effort by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his activist wife Virginia to reconstruct the Constitution to adhere to an originalist’s (and Tea Party) view that is more in concert with the will of the “Founders.”

by problembear

had a talk with a friend of mine who is very non political friday afternoon. the topic came up that the country seems to be paralyzed politically. this friend who runs his own business and tends to mind his own business said something very profound:

“if everybody just took care of what they do best instead of worrying about  what others are doing, we could get through this.”

he is right.  the dems worry about the GOP and the GOP worries about what the dems are doing. the result is a stand-off. each has check-mated the other. now nothing is getting done. we need to get back to each of us doing the best job we can at what we do and quit worrying about what everyone else is doing.

but of course, this is exactly what major international corporations do. those who succeed concentrate on doing what they do better than anyone else in their market. that is why they succeed. and they are cashing in. they don’t care what this country does. it doesn’t effect their bottom line one little bit. if the country went bankrupt tomorrow, the big corporations would just hitch up their wagon to a 747 and do business elsewhere. in fact, most of them already have.

it isn’t in their mission statements or in their business plans to create jobs for americans.

an excerpt from above: “multinationals cut 2.9 million jobs in the United States and added 2.4 million overseas between 2000 and 2009.”

a corporation is a heartless set of numbers which thinks in percentages. everybody who invests in a successful corporation gets a piece of the pie. that is the purpose of a corporation. it doesn’t fight for its country. it has no country. just like a bunch of hogs around a trough, the corporations are too busy shoving each other out of the way to worry about what countries do.

there is only one conclusion to this action created by a corrupt supreme court. and that conclusion must be rebellion.  any government which countenances allowing corporate money to dominate our politics in order to enjoy the comforts of corporate rule has countenanced taxation without representation for the majority of the citizens of this nation………

the real tea party hasn’t even gotten started yet.

by lizard

This week I’m glad to see end for various reasons included the birthday of the notorious Charles Bukowski (August 16th), so naturally I figured if nothing else came up, a celebration of this grit-driven poet would be fun to put together. I could start by describing my introduction to the dirty old man during my first summer in Missoula—the summer that saw a downtown riot, blazing wild fires, and clusters of Rainbow kids left over from their Montana gathering. I partied with these random dudes at their Northside pad, and after the joint made its rounds, one of ’em snatched up a book and started a boisterous performance. I was floored.

So yes, this week’s LWPS will include a Bukowski poem or two, but a recent back and forth got me thinking about something else. I found myself in the peculiar position of defending my appreciation for the imaginative writing of fantasy author George R.R. Martin, who has come under some criticism for the serial adaptation of his book series, A Song of Ice and Fire.

The criticism leveled against Martin claims his material is misogynistic…so when I held him up as an example of imagination, the implication leveled against me is that my imagination is tainted by that alleged misogyny.

In a recent Google-driven question/answer session, Martin had this to say:

Martin, asked about whether he has any insight into women in power — since he writes so many of them — ends up talking about the demands of power in general.

“I don’t know if I have any particular views about women in positions of power, though I do think it’s more difficult for women, particularly in a Medieval setting,” he says. “They have the additional problem that they’re a woman and people don’t want them in a position of power in an essentially patriarchal society.”

But what seems to be closer to his heart, is the notion that anyone who must wield power will face enormous challenges.

You have to “show that this stuff is hard,” he says. “An awful lot of fantasy, and even some great fantasy, falls into the mistake of assuming that a good man will be a good king, that all that is necessary is to be a decent human being and when you’re king everything will go swimmingly.”

Even Tolkien, who he respects greatly (“All modern fantasy flows from Tolkien, he says), has this problem.

“Aragorn is king now and the land will propser and the crops will be good and justice for all and the enemies will all be defeated,” he says of the ending of The Return of the King. “You never get into the nitty gritty of Aragorn ruling and what is his tax policy and what are his views on crop rotation — these are the hard parts of ruling, be it the middle ages or now.”

Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Americans for Prosperity got some national attention on their “Drill Baby Drill” tour, but not exactly the kind that they probably wanted.

MSNBC has Billings NBC station KULR’s reportwith video – of Koch Industries-funded “Running on Empty” tour as it made its stop in Billings Montana championing maintaining tax subsidies and eliminating regulatory controls on big oil.

In watching the video what I wonder is how friggin’ selfish do you have to be to be protesting the price of a gallon of gasoline when the very places you are talking your tours to have homeless families and bankrupt food banks?

How ridiculous that that spectacle of a tour look in an economy like this? Really? The price of gasoline?

They found out. 50 supporters of big oil were overtaken by “hundreds” of anti-Koch Industries/Americans for Prosperity “Running on Empty” protesters.

I’m sure they think that’s unfair. No one stopped them from meeting, just as no one stopped those protesters. Simple numbers….but we all know how poorly the Tea Party is with numbers, don’t we?

American’s for Prosperity “Running on Empty” stops here in Missoula tomorrow – noon – at Bonner Park. Hopefully you are aware that Alice and her friend the Mad Hatter will be there – along with a band of friends. I hear it will be quite the show.

UPDATE: Apparently they got even less of a welcome in Helena today.

Honestly, I won’t be surprised if they just drive on by. Scott Sales and his buddies paid for by Koch Industries don’t have the guts to stand in here in Missoula after the welcome they received east of the divide.

Hilarious.

 
“Corporations are not human beings and do not have the same rights as human beings”
— Cynthia Wolken, Missoula City Councilwoman

By JC

Hot on the heals of the “Running on Empty” corporate push to consolidate power in the states, Missoula’s newest Councilwoman, Cynthia Wolken, has introduced a Resolution in Missoula City Council to have the City join with communities across the land calling for a Constitutional Amendment opposing corporate personhood.

Wolken’s Resolution was heard and approved in the Council of the Whole yesterday, and moves to the full City Council at its regular meeting next Monday night. Wolken was quoted behind a paywall in the local affiliate of a corporate newspaper chain as saying:

“I heard an overwhelming sense of despair about government,” Wolken said Wednesday. People don’t believe their voices are heard, especially at the state and federal levels, she said. And they believe campaign dollars are distorting democracy…

“A lot of people feel what they say doesn’t matter because somebody with more money will come along and drown out their voices,” she said at a Committee of the Whole meeting.

She is asking the Missoula City Council to place on the 2011 ballot a referendum to push the Montana Legislature and the U.S. Congress to amend the Constitution and declare “corporations are not human beings and do not have the same rights as human beings.

“The city of Missoula, unfortunately, can’t fix this problem, but we can give our constituents a voice at the local level to say how they feel about it,” Wolken said.

Wolken’s Resolution represents Missoula’s local entry into a larger national movement focalized by groups like Move to Amend that are pushing for a Constitutional Amendment:

On January 21, 2010, with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to buy elections and run our government. Human beings are people; corporations are legal fictions.

We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to:

* Firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.

* Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our vote and participation count.

* Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate “preemption” actions by global, national, and state governments.

The Supreme Court is misguided in principle, and wrong on the law. In a democracy, the people rule. We Move to Amend.

Move to Amend is chock full of resources intended to help local activists organize and fight in your community and state against corporate personhood. Check it out and get organized and fight the behemoth!

And right on Cynthia! It’s great to see the new Councilwoman in my old ward take up the good fight and carry on the torch! Get your rearends down to City Council Monday night and show your support for Cynthia in her quest to lead Missoula into the national fight against corporate personhood and domination in American politics.

And don’t forget to listen to the great editorial on Montana Public Radio last year by Brian Muldoon describing Citizen’s United and the history of corporate “personhood.”

Text of Resolution after the jump:
Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Does the oil industry know how much she wants to cut their record-making profits? $2 gasoline? How does she plan on doing this? Bowing publicly with press in tow to kiss the feet of every oil sheik in the Middle East? Praying to God? Or did he already tell her he’d give her $2 gasoline if she got elected?

Ignorance is dangerous. Willful ignorance is treasonous when you consider this person wants to be president.

How did America get so ignorant? We’re talking of the rise of the likes of Michelle Bauchmann and Rick Perry and Sarah Palin as leaders. Sarah could’t stick with a job, Rick had a C+ average at Texas A&M, and here’s Bachmann, a congressional represenatative and tax attorney promising $2 gasoline.

by jhwygirl

Well, since yesterday’s post on Koch Industries-funded Americans for Prosperity’s “Running on Empty” Tour coming to Missoula without a location, they’ve since announced they’ll be at Bonner Park.

I’m sure we can thank AFP’s Montana state director Scott Sales for finally getting that critical piece of information up for this very popular Tea Party event.

I don’t know what, precisely, the Missoula Area Central Labor Council, the Montana Organizing Project and others are planning, but I got an email yesterday saying they were “sponsoring a strongly humorous response to this tour that is “Running on Empty.” We will present an updated version of Lewis Carroll’s classic “Mad Tea Party” from Alice in Wonderland. And we will have other humorous activities. Please come ready to laugh AFP out of town!”

Hmmmmmmm….

So Friday folks, while Koch & Co. are serving up their Tea Party with the sole purpose of eliminating and and all impediments to domestic oil – while keeping those tax subsidies intact for Exxon and BP and…well… Koch Industries, there will be a group of Missoulians serving up their own Tea Party.

Don’t miss the show at Bonner Park – Friday, noon.

Let’s give American’s for Prosperity a better welcome than what they got when they kicked off their tour in Jacksonville. Seems like could use some company. Show ’em some Montana hospitality!

And don’t forget to wear your Mad Hat.

By JC

In a dark opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal, Senators Max Baucus, Patty Murray and John Kerry invoked the specter of a failing America in their opening salvo as the next chapter of right wing hostage taking shapes up:

“…No one has ever gone into a debate pledging that China and India should own this economic century because we can’t make our democracy work here at home.”

But here we are with exactly that scenario. America is in decline as the international economic juggernaut after having ruled most of the last century. Yet there are three emerging economies–China, India and Brazil–that are ascendant, and together will outcompete America for strategic resources like oil, minerals and intellectual competence.

Yet three democrat senators invoke rhetoric intended to harken back to the good ole Clinton days that “allow us to continue shining bright in the world.” This is all so eerily similar to Baucus’ irrelevant call for bipartisanship in the health care fights two years ago, where he irrationally thought he could get 80 votes for his health care plan. Today’s political landscape is even more polarized, yet Max and his two dem cohorts think that they will succeed this time around? It’s delusional thinking.

Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Koch Industries-funded Americans For Prosperity’s Running on Empty Tour is coming to town, and they’re clearly afraid of Missoula.

They’re so afraid of the liberals here in this little ol’ university town of Missoula Montana that they’ve removed Karl Tyler Chevrolet from its event’s calendar for the tour, replacing it with “TBD”.

Missoula is the only stop in Montana with a location yet to be determined.

The Running on Empty Tour stops here Friday at noon.

Supermontanareporter John S. Adams had a piece in Sunday’s Great Falls Tribune that provides some background on Americans For Prosperity and the main thrust of its Running on Empty Tour:

Kyla Wiens, an energy advocate for the Montana Environmental Information Center, said the driving force behind AFP is one of the nation’s wealthiest energy companies working to preserve its profits.

AFP was founded in 2004 by billionaire Charles Koch, of Koch Industries. Forbes magazine listed Koch Industries No. 2 on its list of America’s largest companies in 2009 with revenues toping $100 billion. The company made its fortune in diversified companies involved in oil refining, minerals, commodities trading, and others.

According to the New York Times, AFP’s budget surged from $7 million in 2007 to $40 million in 2010, an election year.

Wiens says AFP’s claim — that “illegal” offshore drilling moratoriums, the canceling of oil and gas leases on public lands and the Endangered Species Act are driving up gas prices — is false.

“They are just wrong and they are lying intentionally,” Wiens says. “This is just false rhetoric from the Koch brothers’ group that is funded by industry and is working to protect big oil’s profits.”

For the local connection, it’s good to find out that Scott Sales (a long-time favorite ’round these parts) is president of the Montana chapter of Americans For Prosperity Foundation. That shouldn’t be much of a surprise – Scott Sales has long been a corporate apologist who defended tax cheats while a state legislator.

What’s really surprising is that Scott Sales is apparently one of the last people on earth who will still champion the free market.

Yep – that’s right. Supermontanareporter John. S. Adams grabs a quote from Scott Sales championing the free market for the oil industry:

Sales says the free market, not government regulation, will bring energy prices down.

“That’s the beauty of the free market. If there’s a lot of something, it means you’re going to have fewer dollars chasing more product. Conversely, if you have supply restrictions, you have more dollars chasing fewer commodities,” Sales says.

Hilarious. Free market is impeded by regulation. Not subsidy.

Scott Sales, still the idiot we always knew he was.

~~~~~~~
I’m hearing rumours of a counter-protests for Koch & Co. when they hit Missoula.

I guess that’s if they hit Missoula, given that Americans For Prosperity and Scott Sales seem pretty scared to even let Missoula and Montana know where it is they’re going to be stopping.

And you know what, if I had to guess, maybe they’ll be stopping to refuel here at a Holiday Station. Why? Because Holiday Station gets its fuel from the Canadian Tar Sands, and it’s refined in Canada by Flint Hill Resources.

Who owns Flint Hill Resources?

Flint Hill Resources is wholly owned by Koch Industries.

When I get info on the Missoula welcoming party for Koch/Americans For Prosperity/Scott Sales Tour, I’ll let ya’all know.

(a hat tip to @KirsteninMT for the Holiday Station info – big THANKS to her for that!)

by jhwygirl

we can all come together for good causes. In this case, while I’m none-too-happy with the Osprey/City of Missoula/stadium boondoggle, it’s a no-brainer to help out Missoula resident and conserva-blogger Dave Budge when he asked if I could give a fundraiser for the Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre a plug.

This Saturday’s Osprey game has a block of seats reserved for RMBT patrons and benefactors, all for the regular $10/ticket price. Half of that ticket prices goes directly to RMBT…and you get some dance thrown in pre-game and for the 7th inning stretch.

I have to say, the image of ballet on a baseball field is pretty cool.

Here’s a link to buy the tickets online – Osprey Online Group Portal…or you can call the RMBT (2704 Brooks, Missoula (406) 549-5155) directly to get the tickets, which avoids the service charge on using the online portal.

Dave does, of course, explain this a little better. Plus there’s a picture of his daughter in her tutu and ballet slippers – something from the proud father who’s never understandably so let an opportunity slip to brag on his beautiful daughter.

By JC

“A New Foundation”
er, “Winning the Future”
er, “Put Country Before Party”
er…

I don’t know about you guys, but I see some problems in the Prez’s messaging:

President Obama told a crowd at a battery plant in Holland, Michigan, this afternoon that Republicans must “find a way to put country ahead of party…”

Underlining the takeaway of Obama’s speech today, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer tweeted: “Key element from today’s remarks — Put Country before Party.

Obama’s new slogan, “Put Country before Party,” is awfully close to Sen. John McCain’s, R-Ari., failed 2008 presidential slogan “Country First.”

After telling Congress to “Put Country before Party” Obama is scheduled to fly to New York City where he will raise money for the Democratic Party at the Ritz Carlton.”

Go get ’em tiger! What can be more ‘merican than raising campaign funds at the Ritz? Right after you admonished republicans to be patriots and adopted their sloganeering tactics for your own. Is that what you mean by “putting country before party”?. Wow!

Continue Reading »

Beatnik 2.0

by lizard

I was a sophomore in high school when I read The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac. Ken Kesey followed, then Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Throw in a little Fear and Loathing, and I felt like I established a nice little literary platform to launch myself from.

The Beats and their hippie progeny cast a long, long shadow over the budding aspirations of this wannabe writer. And they provided the template for rebelling against the norms of my suburban upbringing, which I did in the same cliche ways many young people do; booze, weed, and psychedelics.

At some point I realized I was just recycling the previous generation’s experiences, and as the Clinton years turned to the Bush years, I began to understand how effectively diffused the counter-culture’s impact had become. Baby Boomers were running the country now, and they weren’t doing a very good job of it.

But that’s just the above-ground cultural detritus. Underground veins of poetry still transmit the lifeblood of experience through language, across time.

Tuning in to that undercurrent means finding a space outside of hourly work weeks and yearly election cycles demanding our short-sighted attention. It means expanding thought to include the transmittable elasticity of time that no sentence or song has yet to completely trap. Continue Reading »

by lizard

Who remembers how post-9/11 Clear Channel decided lots of songs shouldn’t be played, including John Lennon’s Imagine?

that’s a sort of crappy lead in to this week’s LWPS theme, imagination.

*

Fools have big wombs. For the rest?—here is penny-royal if one knows to use it. But time is only another liar, so go along the wall a little further: if blackberries prove bitter there’ll be mushrooms, fairy-ring mushrooms, in the grass, sweetest of all fungi.

*

That’s how Kora in Hell starts out, a strange group of poems by William Carlos Williams. I was flipping through his collection tonight and found a few other selections that somehow seemed appropriate, but I can’t put my finger on why… Continue Reading »

Imagining Unknown Unknowns

by lizard

I was reminded recently that I’m a conspiracy theorist, and then I read a post by Pogie about the unhinged right or, more specifically, a site called PolyMontana that uses an article from a site called “Global Research” to spin an insinuation that (Pogie’s words): “the Obama Administration murdered the Special Forces members recently killed in Afghanistan.”

I’m not going to defend the PolyMontana nonsense Pogie brings attention to, but I will defend the site Global Research as an intriguing accumulation of marginalized anti-globalization thought that skirts the fringe and sometimes gets used to justify crazy insinuations, like the right wing interpretation Pogie highlights (here is the article in question).

Switching gears, I’ve wanted to put something up about London burning. I sat back and watched an exchange between problembear and turner turn a bit snippy over the racial spark that ignited the sustained street rage, and have followed other lines of thought, some fringe, some satirical, and some clearly reductive attempts to encapsulate the unrest into tidy little airtight narratives for popular consumption.

Ali Abunimah (@avinunu) from electronic intifada put out a whole series of tweets that look at London’s social unrest through the “colonial” lens applied to mideast uprisings. Apparently Ali caught some flak for these tweets, but I think they’re brilliant. Read them all, and more, below the fold. Continue Reading »

By CFS

After attending the public meeting last night focusing on the future of Missoula’s Poverello Center I came away very impressed with the format of the meeting and the positive feeling that most people came away with.  The amount of information provided to attendees that had previously not entered into the debate was substantial.  Especially interesting was the limitation placed on the pov in choosing a new site due to local zoning codes, basically most of the possibilities are within the downtown core or along commercial corridors such as Broadway, Higgins, Russell, etc.  For more information on the process, stay tuned to the City’s neighborhoods website for updates including a map of possible sites from last night’s meeting and details on future public meetings and chances for public comment.

Of course this morning I read the Missoulian article on the event and that positive feeling went away when the first quote they chose to run came from a person in opposition throwing out inaccurate  facts about the pov.

Here is the offending quote:

Despite the Poverello’s efforts to track sexual offenders, “there are 10 offenders there right now” and 85 more within a five-square-block of Lowell School, said one parent, answering a question that each group answered on sheets later shared with the audience. “And that’s just too many for this neighbor.”

Did the Missoulian bother do any fact checking at all?

A quick search of the Montana Sexual Offender Registry shows that the figure of 85 was close… for the whole zip code of 59802, which includes the pov. Rather there were a total of 81 sexual offenders residing within the 59802 zip code.  There were even more within the 59801 zip code, with a total of 83 and an astonishing 93 within the 59808 zip code.  Does that mean that a sexual predation is positively correlated with income level?

59802… looks to cover about five square blocks

When searching by the address of Lowell School I came up with the grand total of 16 sexual offenders within a very generous five-block radius and a total of 6 that have listed the pov as their residents not the quoted 10.  Is it possible that my numbers are wrong? Yes, as the registry’s disclaimer states, “Users are cautioned that the information provided on this website is information of record that is reported to the unit and may not reflect the most recent residence, status or other information regarding an offender. The unit makes no express or implied guarantee concerning the accuracy of this data,” and that for offenders with more than one address the first address is the one that comes up in searches.  Does that mean the first address an offender may have ever listed upon release?  I’m not sure.  So are my number any more accurate than the person quoted? Maybe not but they certainly are different.

Its also disturbing to see a great many of the registered offenders flagged with this note… Non-Compliant/Address Verification Overdue. It really is in red.

Is it possible that the person quoted simply misspoke? Yes, and my guess is that when they stated the statistics for sexual offenders they also included violent offenders in their numbers.  I don’t mean this post as an attack on the people who are opposed to the poverello center or the person that was quoted in the Missoulian.  My beef is with a newspaper that doesn’t seem interested in doing its job properly.  It took me all of 10 minutes to put the above information together and I’m sure I could have gotten more accurate information if I had contacted local law enforcement… like maybe a local reporter might have done.  You think that a professional that is supposed to be interested in journalistic integrity and providing unbiased fact would have taken the time to conduct the same level of verification if they are going to quote statistics in their story.

By JC

Max Baucus, after  his recently appointed role to the super committee saddled with finding 1.2 to 1.5 trillion dollars in deficit reduction, conducted an interview with the Helena IR (Google cache) editorial board and revealed some thoughts about how he’s likely to proceed:

[Baucus] noted that the Bush tax cuts also are set to expire at the end of 2012, and if Congress wants to prevent that from happening, it would need to reach some sort of bargain – hopefully one that reforms the tax code to make it simpler, better for the economy, and able to generate the revenue needed to put the country’s fiscal house in order.

“Part of the solution here is reforming the tax code,” he said.

So Baucus is willing to “prevent” the Bush/Obama tax cuts from expiring if the tax code is reformed. Ok, so he’s waffling on his talk last year about letting the tax cuts for the rich expire. Well, what do you expect from a gumby? Here’s what Max had to say then about an amendment he was offering to extend middle income tax breaks:

Our amendment says:  Let’s make the middle-class tax cuts permanent.

And our amendment says:  Let’s not allow tax cuts for middle-class Americans to be held hostage to tax cuts for those who make the very most.

Anybody on the left here think that reforming the tax code during another economic hostage “crisis” (like the debt ceiling hike) is a good thing? Yes the tax code needs to be reformed, but it should be done in the light of day in the regular order, and not done behind closed doors by a 12 member “super committee,” a committee that now presents itself as a large target to lobbyists and campaign dollars from the oligarchs.
Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Siding with industry, Montana’s Board of Oil & Gas unanimously approved rules which permit industry to keep secret fluids used in fracking wells.

Montana’s Board of Oil & Gas has regulatory and rule-making oversight. By law, 50% of its 6 members are from the oil & gas industry, two must be property owners “not actively associated with the oil & gas industry” yet one of those property owners must own both surface and mineral ownership (no self-serving interest there). One member must be a lawyer.

MTBOG had a full docket for today and tomorrow, but cleared things up right away regarding the oil & gas industry’s need to disclose the chemicals they are injecting into the ground – into the water tables of surface property owners who own the water rights.

“Keep ’em secret!” said the board.

Final approval for the rules rests with Secretary of State Linda McCulloch.

Here is an industry video on what fracking involves. That’s from Northern Oil & Gas, a major lease holder in the Bakken Reserves here in Montana. I’ve written a little here on fracking, but if you really want to read up on the good the bad and the ugly of fracking, it is necessary to check out The Editor at the Button Valley Bugle or the Northern Plains Resource Council or Montana Environmental Resource Center, both of which have excellent, Montana-specific information on fracking.

We have an industry and self-serving interest stacked board deciding rules on how to regulate itself.

Montana has regressed back to the days of the Copper Kings. That’s not an understatement. Even Wyoming recognized the need to require the industry to disclose its fracking fluids just this past year.
t
Benzene causes cancer. That is a fact. Benzene is widely known to be used in fracking. That is a fact. Benzene has shown up in water wells near fracking wells across the nations. Undoubtedly you have all seen video of the water from faucets and water bottles that catch on fire merely when a flame is put to it. THAT is what fracking is capable of doing. With water.

With water that is actually a property right owned. Yet oil & gas industry can come in to get their minerals and destroy your water.

Destroy.

Water is life.

Really – Water Is Life. Think about water is to eastern Montana. Once there’s benzene in a water table, do you think it can be cleaned out? Do you think it stays where it is?

This kind of stuff defies plan common sense, I don’t care what political party you are.

(Somewhere I hear someone laughing – “Ha! But sense is not common and you know this, you fool!” and I hang my head knowing the truth of that property directed scorn.)

Our government is comprised of fools. Please write Secretary of State Linda McCulloch and tell her to delay approval of these rules until such time that they meet Montana’s constitutional guarantees for the public to open public disclosure. Until such time that the rules make a reasonable attempt to meet constitutional guarantees for Montana citizens to a clean and healthful environment.

The Northern Plains Resource Council’s press release is below the fold. Continue Reading »




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