Archive for September, 2011

by lizard

Another terrorist has been taken out, and our president can now boldly state that such antiquated notions as due process for American citizens no longer apply.

I’m wondering if this ability to flout a core principal of our judicial process is something only presidents can make use of.

Otherwise, someone should tell the protestors that the economic terrorists on Wall Street can now be executed at will, simply because they are terrorists.

Oh well, time to start another day, citizens. And if you hear a slight droning sound overhead, don’t worry. You are not terrorists, and therefore have nothing to worry about…right?

by problembear

i’ve been saying this for quite awhile. it looks like brian schweitzer has finally figured it out…….. if montana provided businesses with an alternative to private health insurers,  our small and large businesses tired of being gouged by parasites could free up much needed capital to provide workers with plenty of new jobs.

of course, it is all just discussion at this point. but it is a discussion long overdue and very welcome news to all of us who are tired of paying blood-sucking private insurers who keep jacking up their rates while providing fewer and fewer benefits.

it is just refreshing to finally hear from a montana politician who is not in the pocket of big pharma and the health insurance conglomerates in this country……


In an La Times op-ed, “Obama: A disaster for civil liberties” civil libertarian and constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley laid bare President Obama’s record.

In the post-Bush era, many dem and civil libertarian hopes have been dashed thinking that Obama would usher in a change to the draconian policies that have been implemented or escalated under the guise of a “war on terror.” In many ways, Turley’s piece has given the phrase “the terrorists have won” another layer of legitimacy.

Here is an excerpt. Go read the full article, it’s well worth it. And then get to work fighting for civil liberties and civil rights.

…Civil libertarians have long had a dysfunctional relationship with the Democratic Party, which treats them as a captive voting bloc with nowhere else to turn in elections. Not even this history, however, prepared civil libertarians for Obama. After the George W. Bush years, they were ready to fight to regain ground lost after Sept. 11. Historically, this country has tended to correct periods of heightened police powers with a pendulum swing back toward greater individual rights. Many were questioning the extreme measures taken by the Bush administration, especially after the disclosure of abuses and illegalities. Candidate Obama capitalized on this swing and portrayed himself as the champion of civil liberties.

However, President Obama not only retained the controversial Bush policies, he expanded on them. The earliest, and most startling, move came quickly. Soon after his election, various military and political figures reported that Obama reportedly promised Bush officials in private that no one would be investigated or prosecuted for torture. In his first year, Obama made good on that promise, announcing that no CIA employee would be prosecuted for torture. Later, his administration refused to prosecute any of the Bush officials responsible for ordering or justifying the program and embraced the “just following orders” defense for other officials, the very defense rejected by the United States at the Nuremberg trials after World War II.

Obama failed to close Guantanamo Bay as promised. He continued warrantless surveillance and military tribunals that denied defendants basic rights. He asserted the right to kill U.S. citizens he views as terrorists. His administration has fought to block dozens of public-interest lawsuits challenging privacy violations and presidential abuses.

But perhaps the biggest blow to civil liberties is what he has done to the movement itself. It has quieted to a whisper, muted by the power of Obama’s personality and his symbolic importance as the first black president as well as the liberal who replaced Bush… [read whole article].

by Pete Talbot

So utility companies can claim eminent domain over private property but citizens (i.e.: our local government) can’t claim eminent domain over utilities.

I’m talking about our water.  The stuff we drink, cook with, bath in and use to water our gardens.

This is a screwy deal.  Missoula’s privately-owned Mountain Water Company can sell our resource — the aquifer that sits beneath us and the streams that flow from our mountains — to a multi-billion dollar private equity firm.

Meanwhile, our vaunted state legislature passes a bill that allows utility companies to exert eminent domain on private property owners so these corporations can build pipe and power lines anywhere they please.

Our legislature didn’t see fit to grant these same powers to citizens so they could control their own resource destiny.

I know it’s more complicated than that.  A city can invoke eminent domain but it costs many thousands of dollars, takes years and the outcome is uncertain.  From the Missoulian:

It took the town of Felton, Calif., population 6,000, five years to gain public ownership of its water. Felton’s water had always been privately owned, bouncing from company to company. The final straw came when owner American Water requested a huge rate increase.

So the City, with assistance from the Clark Fork Coalition, has entered into negotiations to have the right of first refusal if and when the Carlyle Group sells.  I call this a fallback position.  I applaud the coalition’s and the city’s efforts, but it seems so after-the-fact because the sale to the city hinges on the “if and when,” and, of course, what sort of mark up Carlyle will want in the sale.  Carlyle isn’t known for its philanthropy.

Now the Montana Public Service Commission has a role in all this but it’s not clear how many legal teeth the PSC has for mitigating the sale — what sort of caveats in can impose — or could it, indeed, stop the sale (which is doubtful).

The Missoulian is doing a good job giving us background and following the story.  Start here and also take a look at the related stories.  I’m waiting for that hard-hitting editorial demanding public ownership of our water, though.

In the meantime, be thankful that air isn’t for sale.  If so, the Carlyle Group would be buying it up and under current statutes, there’d be little we could do about it.

It’s enough to make a mellow guy like me into a radical.

by jhwygirl

When I think of the amount of time this man and his ugliness were given in committee at the State Capitol in Helena this past session – the treatment he got as an expert on every matter he testified on – I shake my head at the majority of House members who deferred to this man in committee and in public.

Reverend Himes has a long history written here on these pages, all of it most assuredly documenting the ugliness he spreads. He is a hater. A bigot in the lowest of senses.

The video below gives you a taste of his full-on bigotry on near daily exhibit this past session. Missoula Representative Ellie Hill questions him on his testimony, and Himes proudly quotes Leviticus in advocating for the death of gays:

Now we come to find out that not only is he that, he’s a common criminal who supports he’s hate-spreading gospel by ripping of members of his church. Caught this story on the the-best-at-local-coverage KPAX News tonight. Then I headed on down to the Ravalli Republic which had this piece along with information on who issued the arrest warrants – Montana’s Office of the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance.

From the sounds of it, Reverend Himes may be on the run. At least that’ll save the Montana GOP from all that uncomfortable silence the next time he walks into the room.

When the history is finally written, though, it’s likely all of this tumult – beginning with the Arab Spring – will be remembered as the opening salvo in a wave of negotiations over the dissolution of the American Empire. — Dave Graeber in The Guardian


One has to look overseas to get some perspective on the movement that is growing in Liberty Plaza just a few blocks away from Wall Street and the World Trade Center. Mainstream American media has turned a jaundiced eye away from the true happenings in NY City. Instead, we will get a few sound bites and scenes of arrests, as the media always looks to the confrontation, instead of the substance of any protest movements on the left. Some of the media will attack them for who they are, posing them as juveniles in nothing more than an extension of their culture wars.

#OccupyWallSt and its rapidly expanding national movement Occupy Together, with occupations in over 52 locations across the country, are truly an organic grassroots organization. They are not faux grassroots pretenders like the Koch brothers’ funded rebranding of the activist right wing GOP and conservative movement as tea partiers. There is little doubt remaining that the tea party only serves as cover for corporatist America and a distraction for the media, so they can ignore the real revolution that is growing in America.

The UK’s Guardian News and Al Jazeera have done vastly better jobs covering the emerging movement as it grows from the ideas of a few organizations like Adbusters, Anonymous and the U.S. Day of Rage.

The following quote from an article in The Guardian clearly examines the birth of the #OccupyWallSt movement as a generational movement built out of other similar movements of the last 40 years. So we undoubtedly will get a bunch of pejorative statements about how they protesters are all young, or unemployed, or college kids, or lgbt, or dress funny, or homeless… And that is exactly why they are protesting. Because our society no longer takes their concerns or needs seriously

Why are people occupying Wall Street? …

There are obvious reasons. We are watching the beginnings of the defiant self-assertion of a new generation of Americans, a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future, but still saddled with enormous and unforgivable debt. Most, I found, were of working-class or otherwise modest backgrounds, kids who did exactly what they were told they should: studied, got into college, and are now not just being punished for it, but humiliated – faced with a life of being treated as deadbeats, moral reprobates.

This movement springs directly out of the anti-globalisation, global justice, and anti-transnational/WTO corporate rallies and protests of the last few decades. Take a look at the protests and accompanying police brutality, and it all begins to look familiar.

The response from the police, and lack of interest from mainstream corporate media and the corporations they are protecting will only serve to amplify the call out to people to join this movement.

When the history is finally written, though, it’s likely all of this tumult – beginning with the Arab Spring – will be remembered as the opening salvo in a wave of negotiations over the dissolution of the American Empire. Thirty years of relentless prioritising of propaganda over substance, and snuffing out anything that might look like a political basis for opposition, might make the prospects for the young protesters look bleak; and it’s clear that the rich are determined to seize as large a share of the spoils as remain, tossing a whole generation of young people to the wolves in order to do so. But history is not on their side.

We might do well to consider the collapse of the European colonial empires. It certainly did not lead to the rich successfully grabbing all the cookies, but to the creation of the modern welfare state. We don’t know precisely what will come out of this round. But if the occupiers finally manage to break the 30-year stranglehold that has been placed on the human imagination, as in those first weeks after September 2008, everything will once again be on the table – and the occupiers of Wall Street and other cities around the US will have done us the greatest favour anyone possibly can.

Is there any question as to why a whole generation is coalescing together to rise up against an establishment that seeks to disempower and repress them? “Grown-ups” will dismiss all of this as idealist leftist propaganda and poo-poo it, and attempt to ridicule and cast it aside. Remember the “don’t trust anyone over 30” mantra of the 60’s protest movement? Payback is a mo-fo. But this movement will not wither in the night, nor will hundreds or thousands of arrests deter it. The only thing that will assuage this movement will be when their voices are heard, and America changes.

Yes, Wall Street is our street. And that point will be hammered home until its ivory tower denizens and police protecters are brought back down to earth.

Feel free to post your favorite article or resource about #OccupyWallSt. We’ll keep posts like this going for the duration of the occupation, so that we can keep abreast of what is going on.

by lizard

If I only derived what I know about current events from CNN, I would probably have no idea a sustained occupation of Wall Street has been ongoing for the better part of a week, with the predictable police state response peaceful protests expect these days.

JC makes a good point in the comments of his post. the comment was in response to some links I provided about Twitter and Yahoo trying to suppress #occupywallstreet related information/momentum (along with a jab at Hillary Clinton, the most popular politician). JC:

If this protest was being held by the t-party, the media would be all over it like flies on sh*t.

The power of the media to amplify (and in Fox’s case with the Tea Party, actually help create) current events is a much easier phenomenon to track than the more insidious power of the media to ignore, or omit. But as the American spectacle gets more and more absurd, the fight to give voice and attention to critical perspectives shunned by corporate media is needed now more than ever.

An area where many fear to tread is America’s “special” relationship with Israel. For good reason. The crosshairs of AIPAC are (just?) politically lethal.

Still, Obama’s speech before the UN was, well, read it yourself. I still haven’t read it in full (my first attempt left me feeling sorta ill) but in skimming it little nuggets of bullshit like this popped out at me:

So this has been a remarkable year. The Qaddafi regime is over. Gbagbo, Ben Ali, Mubarak are no longer in power. Osama bin Laden is gone, and the idea that change could only come through violence has been buried with him. Something is happening in our world. The way things have been is not the way that they will be. The humiliating grip of corruption and tyranny is being pried open. Dictators are on notice. Technology is putting power into the hands of the people. The youth are delivering a powerful rebuke to dictatorship, and rejecting the lie that some races, some peoples, some religions, some ethnicities do not desire democracy. The promise written down on paper — “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” — is closer at hand.

Fuck the hollow rhetoric.

When it comes to Israel, its behavior as a state is increasingly brutal and paranoid, fascist and racist, and this president, despite the crazies on the right bleating otherwise, has been very subservient to the almighty security of Israel, a security Israel slaughters to achieve, like in Operation Cast Lead, killing right up to Obama’s Inauguration day.

And remember, Israel doesn’t just defy any gesture to peace, it brazenly thumbs its nose. Like timing the rebuilding of controversial settlements to coincide with Biden’s visit.

Like turning down the shockingly generous concessions Abbas was willing to make as leaked by the Palestine Papers.

Like killing peace activists in a gutless assault on international waters, including an American citizen, Furkan Dogan, then lying about it.

With all that, Obama still musters a bit of oratory to cover Israel’s ass on the UN stage, backed by the threat of veto. Too bad what he argues against regarding Palestine was just dandy when it came to Kosovo:

In his September 21 speech to the United Nations, President Obama announced that he would veto U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state, because its independence was not a result of a negotiated settlement with Israel. He said that “peace depends upon compromise among people who must live together long after our…votes have been tallied….That’s the lesson of Sudan, where a negotiated settlement led to an independent state. And that is and will be the path to a Palestinian state — negotiations between the parties.”

But President Obama neglected to mention a recent prominent example of unilateral independence, the State of Kosovo, which was recognized by the United States three years ago–even though its statehood did not come about through a negotiated settlement with Serbia. If an independent state of Palestine should only be recognized with Israel’s approval, then why did the U.S. recognize the independence of Kosovo in 2008, over the objections of Serbia? Why recognize Kosovo but not Palestine?

blah blah blah. Sounds like stuff not many people care to know about. As long as puppet prez keeps gesturing as requested by the uncomfortably inserted fingers of Israel, who are we to criticize?

And we shouldn’t just endlessly criticize. Time for that is coming to an end. The peaceful occupation of space, the Tahrir square bug threatening an Arab spring/summer/fall/winter/spring, is not isolated to just the Middle East. It’s spreading. Has been, and will continue to.

Even in Israel.

These peaceful occupations (one of many tools) won’t be lasting, and they don’t need to be. The idea of Temporary Autonomous Zones, as articulated by (iffy) anarchist author Hakim Bey, describes what some temporary occupations of space may look like. This from wikipedia:

The book describes the socio-political tactic of creating temporary spaces that elude formal structures of control. The essay uses various examples from history and philosophy, all of which suggest that the best way to create a non-hierarchical system of social relationships is to concentrate on the present and on releasing one’s own mind from the controlling mechanisms that have been imposed on it.

In the formation of a TAZ, Bey argues, information becomes a key tool that sneaks into the cracks of formal procedures. A new territory of the moment is created that is on the boundary line of established regions. Any attempt at permanence that goes beyond the moment deteriorates to a structured system that inevitably stifles individual creativity. It is this chance at creativity that is real empowerment.

There is a lot not being said right now, not being shown, not known.

But for those of you more actively trying to figure out what the hell is going on, if there are obvious attempts to suppress or ignore something as it’s happening, that usually means it’s really important.


We got a winner! Yep, another west Texan wannabe steps up to the podium to mangle the anglish linguage.

I was going to post up some clips of Perry’s debate debacle this week, but somehow, this gets the point across just fine. No need for facts when fiction is just as good (or better) — or so the right has taught me.

Rick’ll be just as much fun of a candidate as any we’ve had in a while — at least since Sarah Palin. And if, god forbid, he ever becomes president, he’ll definitely stimulate the stand up comedian and impersonator industry in a way that Obama just never could — and Bushies I&II excelled at.



A hot saturday afternoon of playing tunes and guitar, and a slew of photos arriving in my Google+ inbox reminded my of an old John Hartford elegy, “Going to Work in Tall Buildings.” For those who may not remember, John was the accompanist to Glen Campbell in the Goodtime Hour about 40 years ago, during my “formative” days. This is a mild exhibit of Hartford’s subtle subversive nature.

A person (a recently discharged marine) I met a few weeks ago in Missoula as he was hitchhiking across America to the Occupy Wall Street demos, finally arrived and will be feeding some live updates back. His photos as he entered the Wall Street district were foreboding. I hope he sends me more good stuff, so I can give folks a street-level view of the happenings.

These are the the tall buildings where the raveling and unraveling of our financial system’s catastrophes takes place. This is where the people that control the fate of our country’s political and economic future might clash. But just maybe it won’t be those that live and work in tall buildings that get to make the final determinations on our future. Maybe it will be those who take to the streets, and eschew working in tall buildings.

Here’s what Nathan Scheider at Truthout had to say about the fledgling movement yesterday:

A lot of what you’ve probably seen or read about the #occupywallstreet action is wrong, especially if you’re getting it on the Internet. The action started as an idea posted online and word about it then spread and is still spreading, online. But what makes it really matter now is precisely that it is happening offline, in a physical, public space, live and in person. That’s where the occupiers are assembling the rudiments of a movement…

What’s actually underway at Liberty Plaza [at Wall Street] is both simpler and more complicated: music making, sign drawing, talking, organizing, eating, marching, standoffs with police and (not enough) sleeping. It’s a movement in formation…

Ted Actie, who lives in Brooklyn and works for On the Spot, a minority-owned talk-show production company, called on the protesters to speak more directly to the communities around them. “You do so much social networking,” he said, “you forget how to socialize.”

Those barons of finance might do well to come down out of their gilded towers and do some socializing with the rabble down below. Otherwise, they may find that their president–and maybe their next president–can no longer stand between the pitchforks and the doors barring entry to tall buildings.

Lyrics after the jump:
Continue Reading »

by lizard

I found this weekend’s poetry selection browsing one of my favorite virtual locales, wood_s_lot. With almost tireless daily updates, including poetry, visual art, and political links, it’s a very bookmark-worthy site.

I’m putting this up a day early because I’m heading up to Glacier again tomorrow. Though the fall equinox will be officially marked early tomorrow morning, the weather reports make it sound like the lingering days of summer.

So as I soak in one of America’s most stunning national parks, I will try not to think about George Ochenski’s latest gem, which poses this question in the subtitle: Why Not Just Give Homeland Security Everything?

This part is particularly haunting:

“…the legislation gives Homeland Security “immediate access to any public land managed by the Federal Government (including land managed by the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture) for purposes of conducting activities that assist in securing the border (including access to maintain and construct roads, construct a fence, use vehicles to patrol, and set up monitoring equipment).”

How ironic is it that under this draconian piece of legislation that’s supposed to “protect” our lands, the Department of Homeland Security could, without permits, environmental analysis, or anything else, decide to cut a road right through the middle of the Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park? The agency could also put up towers with lights and armed guards, fly and land helicopters or run ATVs in wilderness areas, or even construct a fence if they so chose, with absolutely no recourse for citizens to challenge their own government’s actions, except on constitutional grounds.

You read that right: HR1505 also exempts Homeland Security from any judicial review except for constitutional challenges. It’s likely even that would be exempted, except that it would destroy the checks and balances upon which our government is founded and would itself be constitutionally prohibited.”

H.R.1505 is dangerously draconian legislation cosponsored by Denny Dumbass. I use a stupid made up last name because he’s a stupid, worthless politician so obviously suckling the corporate tit I really can’t fathom why anyone would vote for this drunken Montana do-nothing embarrassment.

That’s my Tester endorsement, by the way.


Nightmare politics, blah. Below the fold, a poem that dreams… Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

James at 2nd Grade Bike Rack has a fine piece up on the ‘Draft’ Long Range Restoration Priorities and Fund Allocation Guidance Plan out of the Montana Department of Justice Natural Resource Damage Program.

It’s a great write up, so I encourage you to go read all about it there – he’s plenty of links. James points out some pretty disheartening issues, if you ask me. When I read the draft final long-range plan, and there’s a list of projects – virtually all of which have been approved, I gotta ask what kind of draft long range whatever can it be when public opinion is being solicited for a long-range plan after-the-fact of allocating just about the whole kit-and-caboodle.

Bipolar America

by lizard

“May God have mercy on your souls.”

Troy Anthony Davis is dead. His legal clock finally ran out, and tonight the state of Georgia executed him.

I was going to juxtapose two images to begin this post; one an image from the jubilant celebration of the long awaited implementation of DADT repeal, the other the image of a black man hanging from a tree.

But that would have been a bit over the top. Poor black men who are alleged to have done something horrendous to an upstanding member of the dominant race (in this case a cop), and who lack the resources to mount an adequate legal defense, aren’t strung up to hang from tree branches anymore. No, we Americans allow for much more humane methods of execution to deal with our condemned in the 21st century.

Bipolar disorder is a condition that produces wild mood swings. Anyone who cares about equality and social justice tonight is probably experiencing an emotional plunge from the elation experienced earlier this week as DADT died a well-deserved death, to disgust and despair that a man who maintained his innocence until the end was killed by the state of Georgia.

But it wasn’t a state that carried out the execution tonight, it was people doing their jobs within this corrupt, inequitable, immoral judicial system we have in this country. And our thoughts should be with them as well, because they will live with their participation in this tragedy for the rest of their lives.

And thanks to the signatories of this statement, representatives of the corrections system added their voice to the concern and alarm that Troy Davis’ impending execution caused. Read the statement in full below the fold: Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

A picture is worth only so much. An endorsement from Citzen United’s Political Victory Fund will be worth a whole lot more.

Apparently Denny Rehberg got that endorsement today after a lovely lunch with lots of corporate lobbyists looking on:

That’s David Bossie, president of Citizen’s United, there with Rehberg.

Let it not be said Rehberg doesn’t support unlimited corporate money in politics. Taking an endorsement from the chief money prostitute in politics is about as disgusting as it could get.

Citizen’s United, you may recall, won a landmark decision at the United States Supreme Court about a year and a half ago which concluded corporate political donations could not be limited by the 2002 McCain-Feingold Act.

Public outcry over this decision has been huge. There are calls for a constitutional amendment to limit spending – like here and here. Public polling is overwhelmingly in opposition to the decision.

Another org, People for the American Way are taking on the issue – and former Attorney Generals and other prominent lawyers around the nation submitted this letter to congress prior to hearings held last year to investigate into corporate spending and what the Citizen’s United SCOTUS case would mean.

Hell, even former gubernatorial candidate, Republican Bob Brown has spoken out on the evils of corporate money influence in politics.

Montanans should find Denny’s friendly embrace with Citizen’s United even more offensive. Anyone with rudimentary knowledge of Montana’s history – or anyone that’s seen the classic movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington which based on one of Montana’s own Copper Kings, Sen. William Clark, who bought himself a senate seat that the U.S. Senate refused to seat – should find this utterly offensive.

Citizen’s United is a direct affront to Montana’s own Constitution. In 1912, citizens here in Montana united against the Copper King corruption in Helena and passed several citizen’s initiatives directed at quashing corporate influence in state politics.

It’s a fascinating history. All the makings of a soap opera with corruption and scandal and lots of money all thrown in for extra measure.

More recent history puts Montana and center at this issue – Attorney General Steve Bullock was called on to testify at at those senate hearings I mentioned above. This link will take you to a video of his testimony, while this link will take you to his written statement submitted at that hearing.

Rehberg’s a corporate whore. We can officially and unequivocally add that to his list of endearing qualities. Others of which include Homophobe and Elitist.

Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it – Edmund Burke, 1729-1797

Reagan Proved Deficits Don’t Matter”
VP Dick Cheney to Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill in 2002


Big Ingy, in my previous blog post on the rise of a liberal movement to primary Obama was being coy about the nature of tax increases under Reagan. Actually, coy is a nice word. He was being lazy and didn’t want to pony up any real facts. So being the inquisitive blogger that I am, had to do his homework for him.

Well, now I know why he and every other right winger doesn’t want to talk about the actual Reagan record. Ronnie raised taxes by signing into law $132.7 billion worth of tax increases. During the same period he also cut taxes by signing legislation worth $275.3 billion, for a net decrease of $142.6 billion dollars. But, coupled with his deficit spending, the national debt soared $1.873 trillion during his reign of trickle down economic terror, a tripling of the debt.

The obvious conclusion is that tax cuts don’t prevent deficits (as if we need to be reminded of that after Bush the Second’s raiding of the public coffers for tax breaks for the rich), and grossly inflate the national debt. Trickle down does not work.

Reagan’s Budget Director, David Stockman called trickle down, supply side economics a “trojan horse:”

“Do you realize the greed that came to the forefront?’ Stockman asked with wonder. ‘The hogs were really feeding. The greed level, the level of opportunism, just got out of control.”

Greedy hogs indeed!

Furthermore, unemployment went from 7.6% to 5.5% (with a peak of 9.7% inbetween, higher than anything under Obama) in Reagan’s eight years.

My question to conservatives is this: if you are willing to let a republican president triple the national debt to gain 2.1% points of employment, why not let a democrat do it?

Well, the answer is easy: hypocrisy and politics. Compassionate conservatism is dead.

It is clear that republicans are using economic terrorism to hold the unemployed as a hostage in order to aggregate political power in the next election, and collect the tithes of their overlords. Conservative economist and neomonetarist Scott Sumner called these sorts of political actions “treason”.

I’ve included Reagan’s tax increases and some other info and citations below the fold.
Continue Reading »


by problembear

rockin’ rudy’s can no longer sell candy!!!!!!!

apparently the missoula city/county health department has declared that you can no longer buy your sweetheart a chocolate truffle because there isn’t a sink eight feet away from the front counter.

with all the real things to worry about regarding health hazards, apparently this department has all the time in the world to bother about this stuff????

makes me wonder what other trivialities they are bothering our poor small businesses about during a protracted recession.  wonder how many jobs this decision is going to cost missoula?


It was just a matter of time until liberals figured out if they didn’t get an opportunity to challenge Obama on the issues of the day, that they might as well hand over the country and the ’12 election to republicans.

Last week every loyal dem’s favorite punching bag, Ralph Nader, teamed up with others to call for 6 primary opponents to challenge President Obama on specific issues:

“Without debates by challengers inside the Democratic Party’s presidential primaries, the liberal/majoritarian agenda will be muted and ignored,” Mr. Nader said in a news release. “The one-man Democratic primaries will be dull, repetitive, and draining of both voter enthusiasm and real bright lines between the two parties that excite voters.”

In search of candidates, Mr. Nader and the others sent out a letter, endorsed by 45 “distinguished leaders,” to elected officials, civic leaders, academics and members of the progressive community who specialize among other things in labor, poverty, military and foreign policy. The list, they said, also includes progressive Democrats who have held national and state office and have fought for progressive reforms…

Mr. Nader and [Cornell] West are joined by Christ Townsend, of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, and Brent Blackwelder, president emeritus of Friends of the Earth.

As the story gained steam, the Washington Post provided some more details:

Nader said Saturday it is “very unlikely” he would challenge Obama, and that he is gauging the interest of former lawmakers and governors, academics, authors and labor leaders.

The group said Saturday it is seeking six “recognizable, articulate” candidates who would not mount serious challenges to Obama, but “rigorously debate his policy stands” on issues related to labor, poverty, foreign policy, civil rights and consumer protections.

The group’s efforts come as Democrats are growing increasingly pessimistic about the country’s direction. Fewer than three-quarters of Democrats approve of Obama’s job performance, and less than a third believe the nation is headed in the right direction, according to the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll

“I just want all these liberal, progressive agendas to be robustly debated. Otherwise, there will be a de facto blackout of their discussion” during next year’s campaign, Nader said.

The push garnered some support in Congress, too, and is sure to spark some hot debate among dems about their future (and probably some glee among conservatives and their t-party cheerleaders):

Some frustrated Democrats in Congress are saying that a primary challenge to President Obama would be a good thing…

Rep. Peter DeFazio said a primary would “push the president and his advisers a bit … to give us back the candidate we had three years ago.”

The Oregon Democrat pointed out that some of his colleagues in the House Democratic Caucus agree with him, but he declined to name names.

“It’s a common refrain, and it’s certainly common in my district among Democrats [because] they want the guy back that they voted for,” DeFazio said.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) told The Hill a challenge “would be healthy for the party.”

Me? What took them so long? Pass the popcorn. Let the debates begin.!

by jhwygirl

This is a repost in its entirety of my original post. Nothing new has changed, and what George said needs to be repeated again. George Ochenski spoke to the Flathead Democrats a year ago today.

This past Saturday, The Indy’s award-winning supermontanacolumnist George Ochenski gave the keynote speech at the Flathead Democrat’s Annual Harvest Dinner. Never one to hold back on the truth, the big GO delivered a barn-burner, closing to a standing ovation and inspiring all who attended.

It’s no secret that I absolutely worship George Ochenski. He says he isn’t a political strategist, and he says he isn’t a political leader, but there isn’t a doubt in my mind that the Democrats would be a in a better place – the Montana Democrats would be in a better place – if he were.

Ochenski is an inspiration to me and many others. I say that without a doubt as to the truth of that statement.

I also doubt he’d been able to finish this speech if I were there – I’da been standing on my chair, fist raised, shouting as loud as I could “Hell yeah!” before he’da been half-way through. Jess Grennan knows what I’m talking about.

Want to know what it means to be a Democrat? Wonder, these days, what it should mean? His entire words are a must-read. I’m tempted to print out a few copies and send ’em to Washington. And Helena.

Below the fold, The Speech: Continue Reading »

Newbie Blogger, One Year Old

by lizard

I didn’t waste any time with my first post here at 4&20 Blackbirds. That was a year ago this month, which is kind of hard to believe. A lot has happened since that post. Continue Reading »


Well, not quite: Tax the rich, cut Medicare and Medicaid…

40 years later, it all still makes sense (at least to this old hippy). Alvin Lee — once known as the world’s fastest guitar player — has always been one of my all-time favorite guitarists!

Open thread on Obama’s overture to the right. Lyrics after the jump. Continue Reading »

by lizard

Saying Dan Beachy-Quick is the contemporary poet to watch is like predicting the Super Bowl Champ in September, but after picking up his latest collection, Circle’s Apprentice, I’m convinced Dan has the potential to create a lasting impact in the small world of American poetry.

The world I speak of is the academic world of MFA/adjunct/professorial reign/and mighty tenure, where the game of poetry carries the weight of big words and grand theories behind it. For example, I found this article by B.K. Fischer in the Boston Review that had things like this to say about Beachy-Quick:

Beachy-Quick is adept at the classic Derridean move: identifying the simultaneity of irreconcilable contraries that, upon analysis, depend upon and collapse into one another. His book, a collection of lyrical prose meditations on Melville’s Moby-Dick, resounds with collapsed binaries and aporetic splits, contradictions that reciprocally create themselves, terms that imply and give rise to their opposites: interior/exterior, circumference/center, poison/antidote.

What? You might be saying. I know. Let me try and put it this way:

Dan’s work is sound and wordplay circling above then spiraling in like twin hawks taking a double helix nose dive toward some center they will never quite reach; some elusive prey their talons will just barely miss before… Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Montana’s GOP promised jobs. Been wondering where those jobs are from this past legislative session out of Helena? The constitutionally-mandated Environmental Quality Council (EQC) met today and received its first report on HB533, a bill that was going to increase coal leasing and create jobs.

This pro-coal jobs bill was sponsored by Reps. Tom Berry, Duane Ankney, Sterling Small, Alan Olsen, and Bill McChesney, who is the lone Democrat.

It also requires regular reporting on the jobs created.

How many jobs created by making it easier to get coal leases? Apparently zero, since there weren’t even any new coal leases brought forward since the thing was signed into law on May 6th.

Don’t know how you can get any more factual that that – a legislatively mandated jobs report on a bill that was supposed to create jobs.

Think about this, too: The coal industry was behind this bill pushing and prodding and, as we all know, they probably wrote 90% of the original as submitted if not the entire thing. Would’t you think they’d be hopping all over this bill once it was approved?

Maybe we should be requiring that kind of report for all legislation that proports to create jobs. Then we’d know who’s doing their job and who’s blowing smoke where the sun don’t shine.

“That’s the funny thing about ceasing to compromise in public. It can make it more likely that you actually get a compromise in private.” — Ezra Klein, Washington Post


Wonkblog’s Ezra Klein hit on something today that I have been harping about consistently over the years. And that is how a politician goes about compromising. Or maybe it is better said, how a politician goes about signaling his willingness to compromise, and how that compromise may be structured:

During the debt-ceiling negotiations, the Obama administration offered the Republicans two concessions that Democrats really didn’t like: A cut to Social Security, through a mechanism known as “chained-CPI,” and a lift in Medicare’s eligibility age. The administration was expected to make both concessions part of the debt-reduction package it plans to announce next week. Now, it looks as if neither item will appear in the final plan. And the reason why is best explained by comparing two New York special elections that went very, very differently for the Democrats.

Andy Hammond thought he was being smart by bringing up the Dem’s loss of Rep. Anthony Weiner’s seat in a special election on tuesday. Well, of course, there is an example of republicans similarly losing a seat recently in an upstate NY district that was heavily republican in a special election. Both incumbents were caught in sex scandals. Both were in districts that were heavily weighted in their favor. So why did both incumbent parties lose?
Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Missoula Independent photographer Chad Harder couldn’t have gotten a better shot if he had staged it with a producer, actor and lighting.

If he doesn’t win an award or two for this one, someone’s snoozing in the jury box.

20 years later….

by problembear


by jhwygirl

I’ve found myself wondering this for too long…and in asking around, I’ve yet to understand the answer to my question. So I’m putting it out there with that headline, hoping that perhaps someone can explain to me.

Why isn’t anyone suing to stop the Tea Party? That’s a very basic breakdown of the question, but if the New Party was stopped because it was determined – legally – that it was its own party regardless of how it had operated, apparently coattailing onto the Democrats, why isn’t anyone requiring the same of the Tea Party?

They call themselves a party. They have a Tea Party Debate. They raise their own money, and they have their own infrastructure system in all 50 states. How is that not a completely separate organization?

They campaigned to take out regular GOP candidates the last election.

What is different about the Tea Party?

Practical experience and the cynic is me speculates that it was the Democrats who took out the New Party…and Republicans operate under the Ronald Reagan 11th commandment. Ya’all know how wont they are to publicly criticize their own. Is that it?

Does anyone know?

From my vantage point, I don’t know the advantage to allowing the Tea Party to continue to coattail onto the GOP. Maybe there is an advantage and I’m missing it?

Anyways – been pondering it, been trying to get some answers, and now I’m ‘pimpin’ the blog’.

by lizard

It’s difficult to write a good poem about a historical event. When that historical event represents a paradigm shift in our collective national psyche, the difficulty is tremendous.

Thanks to a tweet from @Lgpguin, I read a very interesting article today from Huffington Post, titled The Poetry Of 9/11 And It’s Aftermath. Its author, Philip Metres, opens with his account of slowly realizing “the full extent” of what happened that Tuesday morning ten years ago this Sunday. And, in a sick little twist of fate, the class he had to teach that day, after realizing what had happened, included reading the powerful poem by Carolyn Forche, The Colonel, about her experience in El Salvador, and her encounter with the human embodiment of violence that “governing” in Latin America often entailed, back when the poem was written, in 1978.

With that framing in mind, Metres describes how the responses of grief and anger manifested poetically in the days and weeks after attack, and the pitfalls of such poetry:

The events of 9/11 occasioned a tremendous outpouring of poetry; people in New York taped poems on windows, wheatpasted them on posts, and shared them by hand. In Curtis Fox’s words, “poetry was suddenly everywhere in the city.” Outside the immediate radius of what became known as “ground zero,” aided by email, listserves, websites, and, later, blogs, thousands of people also shared poems they loved, and poems they had written. By February, 2002, over 25,000 poems written in response to 9/11 had been published on alone. Three years later, the number of poems there had more than doubled.

Often invisible in American culture, poetry suddenly became relevant, even-and perhaps dangerously-useful. People turned to poems when other forms failed to give shape to their feelings. Some of these poems, certainly, employed the language of faith, a faith that has often been mobilized as a weapon of grievance. Some were desperately angry, in the way Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)” promises to put a “boot in the ass” of those that “messed” with the U.S. of A. In Cleveland, I recall hearing some rather salty Osama limericks involving his mama.

Of course, poems that take on subjects as public and iconic as the attacks of September 11th risk not only devolving into cliché and hysterical jingoism, but also, even when most well-meaning, perpetuating the violence of terror, and the violence of grievance and revenge, as mass media did by endlessly replaying images of the planes exploding into the World Trade Center towers. Likewise, when we read enough 9/11 poems, we become awash in falling people, planes described as birds, flaming towers of Babel, ash and angels, angels and ash. The mythic nature of this attack, this disaster-echoing everything from the tower of Babel to the fall of Icarus-is undeniable, and the acts of heroism and the brute loss of so many makes it difficult to find adequate words, even for our most accomplished poets

The whole article is a wealth of poetic reactions to 9/11, and worth a full read. At one point, the now infamous poem by Amiri Baraka, Somebody Blew Up America, is mentioned, to which Metres has this to say:

Not all worthwhile 9/11 poetry reflected such ambiguity, though. It would be strange to talk about poetry and 9/11 and not mention Amiri Baraka’s scandal-making and splenetic “Somebody Blew Up America,” published in 2002. At the time, Baraka held the post of New Jersey’s poet laureate, and his poem caused an outcry principally for perpetuating an Internet myth that 4000 Israelis were told to stay home from work at the Twin Towers on September 11, and secondarily for its anti-imperialist rant against the United States and figures of the Bush Administration. His subsequent defense of the poem, an essay called “I Will Not ‘Apologize,’ I Will Not ‘Resign,'” did not do the work any favors; rather than arguing that the poem is the dramatized utterance of a suppressed but necessary point of view – that of the anti-imperialist scourge – Baraka asserts his absolute identification with the poem’s rhetoric.

The poem may be smarter than the poet’s argument on its behalf. Emerging from an event which has ignited as many conspiracy theories as JFK’s assassination, “Somebody Blew Up America” enacts the intoxification of conspiracy-theorizing itself. Conspiracy theory, spastic groping after fact and reason, comes out of the fantasy of absolute governmental power. While the poem’s catalogue of imperial atrocity is mostly documentable (with the glaring exception being Israeli and American administration complicity in the attacks), the desire to place all the blame on a singular “Somebody” dramatizes the weakness of a totalizing critique of empire.

The ending of the poem clinches this reading: “Who and Who and WHO (+) who who/Whoooo and WhoooooOOOOOOooooOooo!” This comic-gothic, loony-bird ending actually suggests the dangers of the slippery thinking of conspiracy theories, even as it revels in it.

A decade having gone by hasn’t tempered the battle for the meaning of 9/11. This uniquely American rorschach test has some seeing the inherent evil of Islam, and some the length to which a secretive cabal will go to enact their PNAC plan of global dominance, with everything else in between, including hologram planes with simultaneously timed explosions.

Fire away in the comment thread if you want about all that. Below the fold I give my take. Continue Reading »


A) Global warming is a hoax;
B) Evolution and creationism are equal theories;
C) The stimulus failed;
D) It’s Obama’s fault;
E) All of the above

Ah yes, another open thread for those who want to explore the finer details of republican inanity as they try to out-crazy each other and win the acclaim of the Gipper’s faithful.

In related news, the Reagan Library will be closed to the public today. Ah, a precursor of things to come…

And finally, wherefore art thou, Sarah Palin? Are you running???

For those who don’t want to watch the debate, here is a short preview (after the jump): Continue Reading »

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