Archive for November, 2011


by lizard

This is serious. I’m afraid if exposed to dangerous propaganda, like Dr. Seuss’s Anti-Business-Commie-Tree-Hugger character, the Lorax, our children could be turned into little eco-terrorists.

(I hope Bob Duringer is aware of this threat, and acts accordingly).

Exhibit A is a 6 minute clip in which Severn Cullis-Suzuki, at the age of 12, addresses the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The clip is called “The Girl Who Silenced the World for 6 Minutes”. I watched it for the first time today. If this doesn’t get you, then you’re hopeless.

Rolling Stone put out this pieces by Jeff Goodell in September. Here’s how it opens:

When Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination for president in 2008, he declared that future generations would remember it as “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal. More than three years later, the oceans are still rising and our planet has done more howling – in the form of extreme weather – than healing. In fact, the current political climate is actually headed in the wrong direction: The most heated talk in Washington right now is not about reducing carbon pollution or expanding renewable energy, but whether to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency.

Yeah, and here in Missoula, the heated talk is how people with concerns about UM’s proposed biomass boiler affecting air quality in this inversion-prone valley are low-level eco-terrorists.

It would appear that in the face of substantive opposition, both the Obama administration and the UM administration decided to take the same coward’s path of stalling with more studies to minimize the threat to an aquifer and our local air quality.

As a 12 year old in 1992, Severn cut through all the bullshit and publicly indicted the adult world for, essentially, criminal malfeasance.

19 years later, the resonance of her speech has only intensified.


Don’t shoot the messenger, but this can’t end well for democrats:

The presages a nasty negative campaign from Obama as a last ditch effort to be the lesser of two evils. Which of course will depress turnout. And all those coattails in 2008? Gone.

Obviously, “Cut the Crap” style boosterism and attacks designed to shame wavering democrats (and whoever else party insiders deem worthy of guilting) back into the fold–and demonizing critics into outcast and scapegoat territory–isn’t working. Or so the polls seem to show that despite dems “best” efforts in the blogosphere and elsewhere the economic reality of our country is taking the presidency under. The drop in support among democrats is particularly telling.

Dems ready for 4 more years… of republican rule? Or are they ready to get a backbone and get to work on things like this? Political salvation lies only in constructing the 4th separation of powers. Of course, the man at the top would have to renounce his unholy corporate alliance to Wall Street, and start doing the people’s work. “Poll after poll has shown that Americans oppose Citizens United by about 4 to 1” (as Missoula’s referendum on Corporate Personhood victory recently showed).

What’s it going to be Mr. President? Abdicate to the republican wing of the corporate party? Or align yourself with the people?

by jhwygirl

A friend of mine told me it was unfair to say “conservatives” when talking about the…well…conservative side. “No one’s in control anymore,” she said. “They’re not ‘the GOP’, they’re not ‘the Tea Party’ and they’re not ‘conservatives’, she said – “I don’t know what they are.”

Realizing I’m not an expert on the GOP, I’m still quite a bit peeved at the hypocrisy of the GOP or whomever, exhibited in Sen. Kyl’s appearances on the Sunday talkies saying that the payroll tax cut (to the middle class) would not be extended, wherein the Bush tax cuts to the top 1 or 2% would remain because they were the job creators and we shouldn’t be increasing their taxes”. If you have the patience, I recommend watching the video, especially where Wallace cuts in there (as if he wants to muddy up Kyl’s comments, but then realizes how crystal clear Kyl was, as in no-turning-back crystal clear) with “If I may, Senator Kyl, just to cut this short, are you saying no deal on extending payroll tax cuts?”

Kyl was proud to say he was all for increasing taxes on the middle class, while the honorable Sen. Dick Durbin patiently explained the impact of a tax increase on the middle class would have on the economy.

On another show Norquist – to whom all Republicans kow, even though Chris Wallace tried to dispel that on his show – went on saying that the payroll tax cut was meant to be temporary, and he spent a bit of time emphasizing how those were only supposed to be temporary.

Obviously, to Norquist, those Bush tax cuts are engraved in marble on the White House and the halls of Congress.

How, exactly are those Bush tax cuts to the top 1 or 2% creating jobs? Where are those jobs? Or are those top 1 or 2% just making money on money and not creating any jobs at all?

Seriously – where all those jobs those Bush tax cuts for the top 1 or 2% are supposedly creating?

There are how many millions of people in the middle class? As opposed to the number of people in that 1 or 2%. Isn’t it simple numbers here? If you’re running a business, do you raise the cost of your product by 10% or do you lay off 90% of your workforce?

Ford raised it’s prices…didn’t take a bailout..and look where it is now.

How Kyl or Norquist can sit there and parrot off “no tax increases” while allowing the payroll taxes to expire (which could be paid for if they really wanted to) – and pretend that increasing taxes on the middle class won’t have a deafening affect on the economy is pure malfeasance.

These guys couldn’t run a coffee shop.

I can agree with a little bit here of what Kyl feigns as his concern: The payroll tax cut is borrowed against social security. I’m still surprised by the many that don’t realize that.

Keeping the tax cuts to the middle class can be paid for, though…

Not to mention the Republican’s loved this payroll tax holiday…until now the’re being asked to pay for it.

How odd we only have to pay for the middle class payroll tax holiday, but for some reason the Bush tax cuts to the top 1 or 2% don’t have to be paid for. I just don’t get the Republican logic (or lack thereof), try as I may. It’s their false reality of the ‘job creators’ that screws them all up, if you ask me. Facts clearly don’t get in their way, I suppose.

It seems to me that the politicos- regardless of where their loyalty label lies – need to use some basic math that they should have learned in high school and figure that the middle class isn’t hoarding their money – they’re spending it creating jobs. They need to look at the numbers of the 1 or 2% affected by the loss of a Bush-era tax break and the 98 or 99% that would lose an extra few grand a year.

Simple numbers.

It’s pretty plain and simple. Bush’s secret is out – his bail out of Wall Street took trillions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money and not only ‘saved’ Wall Street, it made those fat cats over $13 billion bucks in profit. I won’t begrudge anyone their profit – but that profit was made in a system that rewarded their bad behavior with our – my – tax dollars.

Banks have NOT been made too big to fail, unfortunately, and where banks used to make money on good investments, these guys nowadays are making money on keeping my money and charging me for accessing my money. They aren’t making money by investing in America and creating jobs here in America – they’re making money by investing in countries like China who think nothing of starving their critics and their citizens who dare to speak in support of basic human rights.

America was a better place when we built our own things which established a baseline for decency the world around. A weak middle class is a weak American.

Simple numbers people…simple numbers.

by Pete Talbot

I know, I know, there are a few minor primary and general elections on tap for 2012.

Still, the other day Sen. Max Baucus’ name came up in conversation.  A couple of the folks present were shocked to hear he might re-up in 2014.

Since I received a fundraising letter from him a few weeks ago and then an invitation to his 70th birthday party just a couple of days ago (with a campaign remittance envelope attached) I guess he’s a-runnin’.

He could be just amassing funds to distribute to various Democratic campaigns across Montana and the nation but hey, I’d just as soon donate directly to those campaigns as have Max decide who should get my money.

Here are some recent Montana posts on Baucus — one favorable and one not so favorable.

I’m thinking that Max is about as vulnerable as he’s been in what will be close to 40 years in Congress. What think you, oh gentle reader?



Kill This Bill!

by lizard

As pundits and news consumers digest the bipartisan failure of the Super Committee, a terrible piece of legislation called the National Defense Authorization Act—produced through a bipartisan effort of the Senate Armed Services Committee—will get a vote tomorrow.

The Senate Armed Services Committee, led by Senators Carl Levin (D-Michigan) and John McCain (R-Arizona), approved the bill despite its provisions for military detention of any suspect (even those apprehended within the United States) accused (not proven) of involvement in any terror-related offense. Presumably, military detention would include those accused of offenses as innocuous as “lying to a federal agent,” unrelated to actual terrorism yet classified as terror-related.

The White House and Democrat leadership apparently oppose this legislation. Did anyone bother telling Carl Levin?

Hopefully this bill will be killed tomorrow, but it makes one wonder why a Democrat like Levin would work to produce such a legislative monstrosity. Does Reid have any control? Is the White House powerless? Or is this how “bipartisanship” works these days on Capitol Hill?

We live in a nation where, apparently, we enjoy no electoral alternative to human rights abuses. Will the real Americans please stand up?

Even worse than the betrayal of Democrats, however, is the betrayal of Congress–by itself. Our Founders dedicated the Constitution’s first Article to Congress, to reflect its primacy after our revolution against a unilateral monarchy. The central theme of the Constitution is its system of checks & balances to limit executive power and prevent tyranny.

But rather than resist executive power, today’s congressional leaders actively expand it. Over the past decade, Congress has granted presidents from both political parties every power they have sought: the power to eavesdrop en masse on every American household without individualized suspicion, the power to ignore the Nuremberg principle and torture with impunity, the power to initiate unilateral war, and more.

Levin-McCain is substantively, procedurally, and structurally even worse: It actively outflanks the executive, granting powers that neither the White House nor the Pentagon want, and have even pledged to resist. Madison and Jefferson would each roll in their graves at Congress betrayal of their legacy.

Gee, I feel so much safer. Thanks jackasses.

Blog Nods

by lizard

Americans continue to be poorly served by corporate media when it comes to covering what’s happening around the world. It takes a significant amount of active engagement to seek out and read alternative interpretations of current events. Unfortunately too many people either don’t care, or don’t have the time or resources to put forth the effort to get informed.

The best blogging is an often thankless investment of time, processing material, assembling quotes, linking sources, and providing commentary. One of the best blogs I have encountered in my relatively short time of active online engagement is Moon of Alabama, hosted by a sharp German blogger, “b”.

b has been directly instrumental in countering the hyped claims of the recent IAEA report regarding Iran’s bogus nuclear weapons program with a look at Iran’s nanotechnology sector. Gareth Porter even cited b’s blog here:

Iran has an aggressive program to develop its nanotechnology sector, and it includes as one major focus nanodiamonds, as blogger Moon of Alabama has pointed out. That blog was the first source to call attention to Danilenko’s nanodiamond background.

In another post, b takes a critical look at how western media is largely failing to provide an accurate context in its reporting of Egyptians back in Tahrir square, getting killed. He also points the finger at the Obama administration, providing, as evidence, a line from this Times piece, which he aptly dissects in his post.

[T]he Obama administration considered [the military] a partner that it hoped would help secure American interests.

Breaking the spell Obama still holds on too many entrenched thinkers with metaphorical skin in the game takes work, and one of the best antidotes is the daily lineup at Counterpunch, where, for example, one can inform themselves about the Obama administration’s disgusting display of bald-faced bullshit regarding its embrace of a Honduran regime that forced itself into power (with US blessings), and has since been the alleged perpetrators of 59 political killings just this year.

And this paragraph cites Wikileaks and The Nation reporting on how the coup opened the door for an increase in drug trafficking US officials were aware of as far back as 2004:

Recent U.S. diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks show that U.S. officials have been aware since 2004 that Facussé has also been trafficking large quantities of cocaine. Dana Frank, a professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz who is an expert on Honduras,summed it up for The Nation last month: “U.S. ‘drug war’ funds and training, in other words, are being used to support a known drug trafficker’s war against campesinos.”

It’s difficult for me to reconcile how US foreign policy can support an illegitimate narco-state puppet regime like the one in Honduras, while all I have to do is look to our local rag to see how domestic drug policy featureshow the feds continue to roll after their boss issued duplicitous rhetoric about respecting state law and those operating within those laws.

To grapple with what’s going on takes work. To provide a good local example, I’m not sure, without posts like this one from Pogie, if I would even know about Neil Livingstone, not to mention how bizarre and inexplicably unreported his bid for Governor has been. Spats aside, I certainly appreciate the information.

To round out this meandering post, I’m going to try and articulate something about the Occupy movement that’s been recently bouncing around my head.

Along with the change of weather, I think there may be some grains of truth behind the media depictions of changing dynamics at encampments around the country, and it might be worth considering acknowledging and embracing why that’s happening.

The spaces opened up through the seeds of a protest movement have been joined by all sorts of previously displaced people with few-to-no-other options. Before #OWS, these kinds of make shift encampments were known as tent cities, and they too were shuffled out of sight, albeit with less media coverage and general concern.

I say that because I get the feeling some of the early organizers may be struggling with how to keep momentum moving forward while simultaneously in the midst of supporting physical spaces where the needs are considerable as winter rolls in, and every misdeed a headline the media will smear the whole movement with.

In conclusion, there are no guarantees when it comes to our atmosphere.

by lizard

I find Black Friday to be a cultural embarrassment. Partly that comes from my midwest suburban emersion in American consumerism. When compact discs became the dominant medium for owning and experiencing music, Best Buy became like a holy temple I visited every Tuesday to ritually comb through the new releases for the next thing in music. In middle school I was a mall rat, and in high school I got my first job at 15, so usually always had a little disposable income to burn. I really liked to buy things, and still do, habitually combing through the virtual pages of Abebooks for books of poetry to acquire.

That said, seeing news reports of a woman using pepper spray in the Black Friday crush of snatch&buy free-for-alls both confounds me and makes me cringe, because I know I’m not immune to what I see as a sickness that permeates our cultural landscapes.

It’s no wonder some people seek personal cures to this cultural malady. Ironically, that desire has created an entire industry of self-help-New-Age-guruism that peddles cures for the sickness. Recently, one of those gurus, James Arthur Ray, got sentenced with some actual prison time for negligent homicide, the result of a monetized sweat lodge ritual turned lethal oven for three customers.

Here’s what Ivan Lewis of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation had to say:

“He desecrated our ceremony, he abused it,” Lewis said Wednesday. “He used it in any way that he could just to get his money. He was told before not to do that, and he’s paying for it now.”

Below the fold, I’ve selected a very appropriate poem from Wendy Rose’s book, Bone Dance, that grapples with this commodification that translates cultural phenomena, or in the case of the poem, human remains, into monetary value. Continue Reading »

Happy Thanksgiving!

by lizard I’m a lucky guy. I’ve been with my beautiful wife for 13 years, we have two healthy, adorable boys, and I have a great job doing good work in a town I’ve had the pleasure of living in for 11 years. Have a safe, happy Thanksgiving everyone!

by jhwygirl

Franke Wilmer has served a respectable 3 terms in the Montana House, surviving 3 sessions up there in Helena. She’s well-qualified to serve as Montana’s next U.S. Representative, her resume including a wide spectrum of employ including waitress, public school teacher, MSU professor and author. Wilmer’s work has spanned a spectrum that is rare for a congressional candidate, with work that has included field research in Yugoslavia during the Bosnian war…work so respected that she has been invited to lecture internally on the topics of war, peace and human rights.

Would I trust her with my tax dollar? You bet. Franke Wilmer worked her way through undergraduate and graduate school – and obtained scholarships to help obtain her doctorate in Government & Politics in 1990. So does she know the value of a dollar? I’m betting she knows the value of a nickle and dime.

All that being said, I wondered what she had to say about yesterday’s failure of the super committee. I was never very hopeful about what they would (or wouldn’t) do – but as someone actually applying for a job in congress, I had to wonder what Wilmer – an experienced legislator – had to think about the super committee and the task they had before them.

Ms. Wilmer generously took time out of her 16 hour days to reply:

“It seems like any news you get of Washington these days is either disappointing or crazy. Making pizza a vegetable was crazy, and the Super Committee failing to come to an agreement is disappointing. I think Congress may be the only place in America where you can ask 12 people to take 2 months to come up with a solution to an important problem and end up with nothing. It is unbelievable that 12 people couldn’t find $1.2 trillion in wasteful spending. Ending the Bush tax cuts just to the top 1% would be a good place to start. Or ending the tax breaks to corporations that export our jobs overseas. Don’t forget how much we are spending on wars ($1.2 trillion so far).

Then one of the richest members of Congress, Denny Rehberg, comes out with his “viable” option. In his mind there are really only two options — either cut Social Security, Medicare, and Veterans Benefits or defund programs set up to help people cover outrageous health care costs. In his mind cutting the wasteful spending to defense contractors (the Commission on Wartime Contracting reported to Congress that $60 billion alone has been lost to waste and fraud in war spending) or cutting subsidies to the oil and gas companies would be insane. Insisting on cuts to Social Security is the wrong place for Republicans to draw a line in the sand. Senior citizens didn’t cause this recession. Congressman Rehberg ironically decided people can live without health care and presented his “viable” plan.

There was a time in this country where our elected leaders governed using common sense. There was a time where the issues facing this country were more important than the next election. I am running for Congress to help restore some of those principles in Washington.”

I couldn’t agree more. How many politicans – especially those running for office – are willing to unequivocally call for ending the Bush tax cuts for the top 1%? Or cutting tax breaks to corporations that export our jobs overseas.

I also appreciate a candidate like Wilmer who is willing to step up for Veterans and call hypocrisy on our current U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg who is willing to cut Social Security and allow the Pentagon to continue its wasteful (and immoral) spending on defense contractors. Montana’s median income is in the bottom 25% in ranking – and only one state has higher per capita military service than Montana. Protecting Veterans and Social Security should be a priority for the people we Montanan’s elect to congress.

It’s good to know that it’s a priority for Franke Wilmer.


It was just a matter of time until the USFWS’s rush for delistings caught up with them. In an Opinion released today, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and overturned the April 2007 delisting of grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Area. There is much to said about this case, and its announced decision today, but I’ll let the Opinion speak for itself:

the [US Fish & Wildlife] Service cannot take a full-speed ahead, damn-the-torpedoes approach to delisting…

The Service’s delisting decision, the subject of this appeal, raises a host of scientific, political, and philosophical questions regarding the complex relationship between grizzlies and people in the Yellowstone region. We emphasize at the outset that those are not the questions that we grapple with here. We, as judges, do not purport to resolve scientific uncertainties or ascertain policy preferences. We address only those issues we are expressly called upon to decide pertaining to the legality of the Service’s delisting decision: first, whether the Service rationally supported its conclusion that a projected decline in whitebark pine, a key food source for the bears, does not threaten the Yellowstone grizzly population; and second, whether the Service rationally supported its conclusion that adequate regulatory mechanisms are in place to maintain a recovered Yellowstone grizzly population without the ESA’s staunch protections.

As to the first issue, we affirm the district court’s ruling that the Service failed to articulate a rational connection between the data in the record and its determination that whitebark pine declines were not a threat to the Yellowstone grizzly, given the lack of data indicating grizzly population stability in the face of such declines, and the substantial data indicating a direct correlation between whitebark pine seed availability and grizzly survival and reproduction. As to the second issue, we reverse the district court and hold that the Service’s determination regarding the adequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms was reasonable.”

by jhwygirl

This is political news that somehow has gone by the byways despite what I assume is a press release to the customarily bevvy of media types – I not, understandably, being amongst that customary bevvy of media types.

In other words, I read it on Dave Strohmaier’s Stohmaier for Congress website.

Here’s the endorsement, in Sen. Melcher’s own words:

“I know Montana. I know and hold dear to our values that make us a great people. I also know what it takes to stand up in Washington and fight for Montana’s citizens, families, communities, and values. Dave Strohmaier will put Montana first. Dave will not bend to the powerful special interests in Washington. Working people have a friend in Dave and he’s what Montana’s working people need in Washington. Dave’s experience as a city councilman and a firefighter don’t just connect him with working Montanans; Dave is a hardworking Montanan. Dave has a beautiful family and he’s instilling a love for the land and the importance of community and family in them as we do in Montana. Dave is the public servant we need in the United States Congress.”

“I am thrilled to have Senator Melcher’s support and look forward to his guidance throughout the campaign,” Strohmaier said. “Having the endorsement of a true Montana statesman like Senator Melcher affirms the core values of my campaign–values that I’ll fight for in Washington, D.C., like stewardship, looking out for the needs of future generation, and recognizing that we are one Montana, whether east or west urban or rural.”

Melcher was pretty well-loved around these parts as I hear it, having served in the U.S. Senate for two terms, succeeding the also-beloved Sen. Mike Mansfield. A formal endorsement from the former senator is quite the score, though I know I’ve seen Melcher’s name associated with Mr. Strohmaier’s campaign since his earlier announcement.

by jhwygirl

It’s a pretty hefty charge to make, but as Missoula County resident, #OccupyMissoula participant and attorney Taryn Hart points out, it’s unsafe for not only the occupiers, but for the intoxicated people Missoula City Police are allegedly dropping off at the occupation, located on the Missoula County Courthouse lawn.

A tactic, she explains at her blog Plutocracy Files, used by police against Occupy movements across the nation.

Occupy Missoula is an alcohol and drug-free encampment. The agreed to this on day #1. To hear that city police are delivering intoxicated and belligerent people off at the encampment is troubling.

This is something that should be troubling to the community, too. These types of actions can leave the City exposed to any number of lawsuits should something occur which results in injury or death.

Hear it in Ms. Hart’s words:

I had heard from several of the 24/7 occupiers at Occupy Missoula that the police have dropped off drunken, belligerent people at the occupation. I happened to be there when just that happened. A woman who was extremely drunk and was belligerent was dropped off by Officer Kasey Williams of the Missoula Police Department, Badge #348. She headed directly into the occupation and was belligerent and threatening. This very small occupation was forced to handle this on their own (which, by the way, they did very well).

As soon as I left I called Sgt. Jerry Odlin to speak to him about it. I informed him of the situation and informed him that the occupation has rules prohibiting intoxication. He denied that anything had been done to create disruption at the Occupy Missoula occupation.

These are serious claims to make. Taryn Hart has put herself out there in her own words with specific allegations to this incident. She is calling on not only the community but the media to contact both the Missoulian and Missoula Mayor Engen to let them know that this type of behavior is unacceptable and dangerous and needs to stop.

I’m also going to add this – I caught KECI NBC Montana’s report on Occupy Missoula either Wednesday or Thursday evening, with Steve Fetveit speaking of “feces in the bushes,” while Heidi Meili countered – with a distressed look on her face and concern in her voice – about the “health risks” exposed to the community.

Now – I don’t get downtown every day, and I don’t know if anyone’s ever noticed but we’ve got homeless people here in Missoula. In fact, there are homeless people everywhere across the nation. There has been – again, in fact – homeless people around on this earth since the beginning of time. Some of them have mental issues, and others have no other choice – it’s a mix of humanity, much as it is for those who sleep in beds under roofed structures.

Homeless people – and this is a factual reality – don’t have easy access to bathrooms. I am not saying that what occurs because of this reality is acceptable by any means, but I am saying this is a factor that, it appears, many people have chosen to push out of their mind as they turn their sight (and voice) to the plight of homeless people.

Having been to the Missoula County courthouse a few times, I can tell you that there was feces – and lots of other stuff – hanging out there in the bushes for a long long time. This spring – or was it last fall? – they were doing some renovations down there. Couldn’t enter in through the front door. Well, I had walked up to that front door not paying attention as I sipped my soy chai latte, no foam, from Broadway Bagels…which left me having to tramp to the west side door out by the parking lot on the side of the building.

I got to walk by all those bushes and squeeze through the line of them over there bordering the parking lot. It looked like people were living in there. There was clothing and bundles and garbage. All kinds of crap – and I do mean, literally, crap. I remember noting at the time how odd it was that the County Courthouse, such a visible public place, could house such an amount of humanity and its garbage behind the bushes and no one seemed to notice.

Maybe Steve Fetveit should do the gentlemanly thing and accompany Heidi Meili in her perfectly coiffed hair and 3 1/2″ heels down to the Missoula County Courthouse – in broad daylight so as to ensure their safety – and ask a few people down there how many bags of garbage and crap they carted out of the grounds of the courthouse in the first few days of #occupyMissoula?

Maybe Steve Febveit Heidi Meili should then take a short walk up to the Poverello Center during the lunch hour to see the unwashed homeless as they gather for one of the three warm meals a day they may be lucky to get – along with a chance to perhaps wash up and go to the restroom. Ask ’em where they go to the bathroom during the night.

The news may shock those news reporters.

There are insufficient services here for the homeless. Homelessness is a fact of humanity. Grow up and deal with it. Occupy Missoula is and has been since the first day. Hell – I stood on the courthouse lawn the first day and a homeless lady came up and, asking me if I was in charge, continued to berate me for not having anything more to eat than salad.

Does Occupy Missoula have a homeless problem? You bet ya. Its the same homeless problems that Missoula has had since this earth produced man on earth.

Appalled by feces as the Courthouse people? It didn’t magically show up with Occupy Missoula.

by jhwygirl

There’s been some pretty shocking video out of University of California-Davis over the last several days. 99% of the reaction has been that people were horrified and disgusted by the police actions.

For myself, I must be numb. The blatent disregard the UCDavis cops had for the students they are paid to protect – protect – has been played out all over the country in cities across America. Police beating with billy clubs and people beating them with fists and body slams? Police pepper spraying – pepper spraying randomly and with malice? Police firing guns with rubber pellets and tear gas and other various projectiles? It’s been played out in NYC, in Portland, in Phoenix, in Denver…Pittsburgh…LA..Oakland. Everywhere.

All of this directed at masses of peaceful protesters. People angry at the banking system and corporatization of America. An America that is making money on money – and leaving real America- the 99% – out floating in its wake.

And let’s make not mistake – peaceful protestors shouting angrily about their protest issues does not necessitate a need for mob control. We are not seeing mass vandalism, people. We are seeing mass protest and over reaction by police which incites mobs and results – sometimes and not all the time and you all know this to be true – some actual property destruction.

On Friday, UCDavis chancellor ordered the #occupy occupation tents removed. Cops come in with full riot gear, and..well…started beating on not only students, but also a poet laureate and Wordsworth scholar, along with their colleagues who had gone down to bear witness to the alleged violence of the students. Here is the first video that I saw of Friday’s removal:

It’s bizarre. It’s troubling – and again, remember my numbness to these scenes of violence. I see this stuff day in day out on twitter – regular network news doesn’t even have time in their 20-second sound bite rule to cover this stuff, yet alone fit it into their corporate-biased agenda. But did you watch to the end? At 8 minutes long, I wonder how many of you bailed about half-way through?

Sometime late Saturday someone posted the video below which shows the same situation from another angle, with a longer lead in – and it cuts out the events that occurred late in the video I posted above:

It was this second video that sickened even the numb jhwygirl. The vitrol the one lead officer directed at peaceful students – children for crying out loud! – is stomach-turning. I feel the pain of the woman you can hear in the background screaming (and later crying) “you are supposed to protect them!” as the cops, with determination and deliberation, pepper spray those kids at close range while they sit peacefully on the sidewalk of their campus.

Goddess, what has this nation come to?

My numbness though requires me to try and find something good – a sanity mechanism I’m learning ;) – and it is the end of that first video (and less so the second) which shows the police’s full retreat.

Those police stood there in full riot gear facing down peaceful protesting students sitting on a sidewalk. Hundreds stood there in witness – all of which included cameras and cell phones and video cameras. It wasn’t just students standing there – it was news media and university personnel. Yet those cops stood there as a handful pointed guns (likely loaded with pepper spray balls or rubber bullets) at eye and head level. Those cops stood there in bullet proof vests and masks and watched as a colleague stood like some sort of cattle master over those peaceful students and shook up that pepper spray – and at one point double-fisted himself with the stuff, having grabbed a fellow cops can – and marched up and down in attempts to intimidate peaceful students sitting on a sidewalk with that pepper spray.

For what? Control of the sidewalk?

And yet even after he emptied a can of pepper spray on those kids and only one or two ran after the pain was inflicted, those cops were safe. The only rush was to the safety of those students – and yet those cops who are sworn to protect left those students in bodily harm (pepper spray is NOT harmless folks…it can blind, and in this case it did cause bleeding) and beat back the people who attempted to protect and assist.

What is moving about those two videos is the safety of those disgusting officers who violated multiple laws and policies by doing what they did…

What is moving is the safety they had as they retreated from their failed attempt to clear a sidewalk. A friggin’ sidewalk.

What is moving is the obvious fear that the same officer who inflicted the pepper spray exhibited as he retreated – and his companion officers who continued to point those rifles at the heads of those peaceful protestors and their accompanying witnesses.

Did they cry when they shut the door of their office or their car after they completed their retreat? Do they look at this video and realize the complete shame of what they did? Do the ones that stood guard realize the sin of their complicity?

I have some understanding of mob mentality, I’d like to think – so I wonder what those cops thought after they exhaled that evening. After they saw themselves on film.

Finally – last night UC Davis’ Chancellor Katehi took a late night walk to her car. The campus is now filled with protesters. And Chancellor Katehi – who had said on Saturday that the police use of pepper spray was justified because her and the staff at the university felt threatened – walked in silence and shame to her car.

I bet she was shaking once her and her companion drove away. And I bet she cried too.

by jhwygirl

As always, please consider this an open thread.

2nd Grade Bike Rack consistently puts out quality reading – most recently a piece that talks about the lack of transparency with U.N. carbon credits and the corruption which has ensued.

Equality is an important issue. I won’t be silent anymore. The time has come, and we all must speak out. James Conner, the excellent editor of the Flathead Memo has an astute watching eye which caught news that the Montana ACLU had filed its appeal of a Montana District Court decision dismissing the same-sex domestic partnership case, Donaldson and Guggenheim v. State of Montana, to the Montana Supreme Court.

Which – on that note – a number of organizations met in Helena this past week to discuss the campaign for the next equality ordinance in Montana. I have’t seen any emails (but then again, I’m not living in Helena) but I hope maybe someone can get me some or put me on some email update list – in the meantime, hopefully Ryan Morton (who I happen to know did attend) might stop by and give us a report on the happenings.

Good Luck to Helena on that. 100% support.

Intelligent Discontent’s Don Pogreba points out Rep. Denny Rehberg’s backpedaling for the week – this time dropping his lawsuit against the Billings Fire Department for having ‘allowed’ his sagebrush-and-coulee filled undeveloped yet-to-be-approved subdivision which he had hoped would be a golf course burn.

The winds were something like 40 mph. that red flag afternoon.

Rehberg had tried to settle, if I recall correctly, about 2 months ago – which the Billings Fire Department correctly rejected.

And guess what? Rehberg did even more backpedaling this week on his original plan to hand over a 100 mile wide swatch of Montana’s borders into the jurisdiction of U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Sports groups have been hitting him hard on that:

Sen. Tester and Rep. Rehberg have traded barbs over Rehberg’s ridiculous bill…and even the conservatives are slamming it.

So what does Rehberg do? The editor at The Button Valley Bugle sums up the bit of old Sheriff Arpaio crowd-loving styled backpeddling: Rehberg’s proposed a “sheriff’s amendment” to his bill.

Tea Party all the way.

Which, speaking of, we haven’t seen or heard much from them lately, have we?

Who is Traviss Kavulla? He’s that elusive creature we call a politician who does his job – in this case, a Public Service Commission commissioner (chair, actually). As a PSC commissioner, it’s really his and his fellow commissioners job to oversee utilities here in Montana and make sure that consumers are protected from any number of poor or greedy decisions these corporations may make that could have adverse affects on not only consumers but the Montana economy. His latest delve into some uncharted but needed territory? Seeking to intervene in the Southern Montana Electric bankruptcy.

Kavulla, incidentally, is not only the youngest member of the commission – he’s a Republican. He is supported on this intent to intervene into the proceedings by Democratic commissioners Gail Gutsche and John Vincent – who had both supported Kavulla as chair.

And Kavulla is right – that bankruptcy will not only affect SME, it’ll affect all the other utility companies that have dealings with them and their money-sucking doomed coal-fired plants that (luckily) failed in Great Falls.

Labels don’t always work. Don’t rely on them.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend. Stay warm out there Griz and Cat fans!

by lizard

Cedilla: n (Linguistics / Phonetics & Phonology) a character ( ¸ ) placed underneath a c before a, o, or u, esp in French, Portuguese, or Catalan, denoting that it is to be pronounced (s), not (k). The same character is used in the scripts of other languages, as in Turkish under s.


It is my distinct pleasure to announce the upcoming release of a literary journal guest-edited by local poet Mark Gibbons, titled Ç/V. a Montana trip.

I got in touch with Mark earlier this week via e-mail, and asked him a few questions. Below the fold are two of his answers, along with a sneak peek from two poets, Ed Lahey and Scott Preston, who no longer draw their share of breath from our common air… Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

The artist who did the original Hope poster for Obama – LA artist Shepard Fairey – has just designed his second #occupywallstreet poster.

Quite the message.

Law Enforcement

by lizard

If you don’t pay your rent, or your mortgage, you get evicted.

And if you break a law, or violate an ordinance, like illegal camping, there are consequences, like your few remaining material possessions getting seized by parks and rec and thrown away.

Unfortunately, selective enforcement of laws and ordinances exposes how one’s socio-economic status determines who must pay the piper, and who gets to call the tune.

If you are a chronic drunk drinking vodka on the courthouse lawn, you will receive lots of citations for having “open containers”. But if you are an upstanding citizen with money to burn walking down Higgins during First Friday with a plastic cup of crappy Merlot in your hand, you have nothing to worry about.

That’s just the way it is. The more money you have, the less the law can touch you. Can’t pay rent? Then no roof overhead. Crash the global economy? Unlimited injections of zero-interest smack to keep your parasitic junkie ass alive.

by jhwygirl

Not sure how this is flying under the radar – and maybe there’s a reason, huh? – but Missoula Redevelopment Authority (MRA) has apparently set its sights on the Hotel Fox LLC for redevelopment of the old Fox Theater site.

Back in the spring, MRA put out the call for proposals on the site, proposals being due June 30. Only two applications were considered to be complete, and the favorite which immediately surfaced to the top was the 200 – 250 room hotel with conference center proposal from Hotel Fox LLC.

Hotel Fox LLC is partnered with the Farren Group, a housing developer that’s done projects here in Missoula, Lambros Realty, and the high-end The Lodge at Whitefish Lake LLC.

Dieter Huckestein, former VP and President of the Hilton Hotels..and former president and chief executive officer of Yellowstone Club World, the world’s premier private club, appears to be financially interested in the project. Which certainly gives this proposal credibility (unlike that ridiculous Bitterroot Resort proposal from a few years back.)

Let’s hope the City or MRA doesn’t get a wild hair in their head that starts telling them they need to give the land away. I’m too lazy to go digging for the 2006 or 2007 appraisal that was done down there for that property. MRA did two appraisals as I recall, one was an appraisal for each of the two lots and the other an appraisal for the two lots valued as being sold together. Maybe some astute reader remembers those figures?

I say that knowing that “developers” are involved and this community has placed a certain priority on development of that Fox Theater site. Given the economy, we’ll certainly hear excuses for why they “developers” should get the site and a sale price of $1 because “that’s the only way these projects get done,” and the ‘just think of the economic benefit’ cry.

Didn’t we hear that with the Osprey Stadium deal?

Here in Montana, we can certainly call hog-wash on that sort of argument, it seems to me: The City of Bozeman is getting ready to entertain offers on the sale of its downtown parking garage, valued at $1.5M, for a high-end downtown hotel.

Here in Missoula, extracting that economic and community benefit of any large scale or high profile project has always been a pretty nebulous thing if you ask me. I still ponder whether the Osprey Stadium, with it’s hefty public money influx, has given back that which went into it….and while a lot of people might groan on that, there’s a whole hell of a lot more imo that are with the cynics like me on that project.

And Safeway? Missoula got a great looking grocery story, I think (?) …but wasn’t something supposed to happen with the old Safeway site too? Wasn’t that a part of the discussion? And now it sits?

Who do we trust to extract a real economic and community benefit?

For a few months here in Missoula a group of labor, community, transportation and environmental activists – and concerned citizens – have begun a discussion on how to bring good jobs to Missoula. Jobs that are both clean and living-wage. The proposal for development on the MRA-owned Fox Theater site looks to be an opportunity for these groups to actually coalesce around forming what many communities have been doing for the last decade: a Community Benefits Coalition (CBC).

I’ve done a bit of background reading on this concept, and the cynic in me loves it – what a Community Benefits Coalition does is it forms a contractually binding agreement between the developer and the CBC that ensures completion of a project that meets the definition of what the community defines as a benefit.

Again – given the track record of the city on these deals…..

Here in Missoula, some of those groups discussing a CBC for this project are the Missoula Area Central Labor Council (AFL-CIO), UNITE HERE! Local 427, the Western Montana Building Trades and Labor Council, The Clark Fork Coalition and the local Sierra Club chapter. These orgs are meeting with other orgs this week in an effort to build the broadest coalition of partners.

Current goals are for a package of proposals which include a card-check neutrality agreement (which says the employer will be neutral in any union organizing campaign and will accept union representation should a majority of the employees decide to unionize), a project labor agreement (which ensures quality wages, benefits and working conditions for labor on the construction project) and a document which ensures meaningful input into the design, transportation, parking and public spaces that will be affected by the project.

Pretty soon here Hotel Fox LLC is going to want – is going to need – a more firm assurance from MRA and the City of Missoula that the old riverfront theater site will more assuredly be theirs should their project be truly economically viable. Most certainly that economic viability part will come from a marketing study, the cost being somewhere in the $25,000 range.

Hotel Fox and Dieter Huckestein have already told MRA that if they are to put out that $25,000, they need to have exclusive development rights.

Now – it sure seems to me that these guys are asking a whole hell of a lot from the City of Missoula for a $25,000 marketing study. If they want the right to a non-competitive exclusive development right, let’s hope there’s a real community benefit.

In other words, I’d love for someone to be smart about this, and my money is on a CBC.

I’m hopeful that we get a Community Benefits Coalition together here in this project…because I know that developers love to prey on communities in these scared economic times…and Missoula needs to tread carefully on any deal surrounding the Fox Theater site.

The community benefit must be clear, and must be real. It must include good jobs from design to construction to operation.

A Community Benefits Coalition is a more surer way to get there.

Some information:
The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis paper on Community Benefits Agreements
A handbook on Community Benefits Agreements from The Partnership for Working Families
Good Jobs First, a non-partisan accountability organization for corporations that seek local community subsidies
A Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy paper titled Community Benefits Agreements: Can Private Contracts Replace Public Responsibility?
September 30, 2011 minutes of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency

by Pete Talbot

I shrugged it off the first few times I heard it or saw it in print, “government picking winners and losers.”

Now it’s everywhere: Republican debates, news stories, op-ed columns and even comments here at 4&20.

It’s directed at Democrats, for the most part, from President Obama (health care, Solyndra) to Missoula’s City Council (Play Ball Missoula).

The irony is that all parties, in all areas of government, from city councils to state legislatures to Congress and the President, have picked winners and losers.

They’ve subsidized railroads and airlines, oil and coal, highways and electrical distribution systems, NASA, mining and agriculture, baseball, basketball and football teams … it’s a long list.

Winners and losers are chosen by the powers that be all the time. There are no-bid defense department contracts for Halliburton, Raytheon and Blackwater. There are tax code revisions that pick winners and losers. There are decisions on food stamps, Social Security and Medicaid that have winners and losers.

It’s a cool sounding mantra, this “government picking winners and losers,” no doubt generated at some Karl Rove or libertarian think tank using focus groups and polling, and distributed to key leaders in right-wing politics, whence it trickles down.

There are no doubt abuses in this system. But the idea that every aspect of American life should be subject to the invisible hand of the free market is unrealistic and anachronistic. And the Republican cry of “crony capitalism” is about as hypocritical as it gets. The art of crony capitalism has been a mainstay of the Republican Party.

It’s dishonest to call all government spending “socialist” and lay the blame at the feet of Democrats. Picking winners and losers has been going on since the founding fathers and is as American as apple pie.

It just depends on who’s doing the giving and getting the rewards that gets the teeth gnashing and pundits whining.

by lizard

By next Wednesday we should know who will be Missoula’s ward 2 representative on City Council. Adam Hertz holds a slim three vote edge over Pam Walzer. And tonight I just realized two of those pro-Hertz votes came from my parents.

We were dining out with the family when my Dad broke this little bombshell. I sat there and literally kicked myself for not realizing what ward they were in. When my little outburst subsided, I asked my Dad how he came to make his decision, and his answer seemed to reinforce something the Indy observed when describing Pam’s “flagging enthusiasm”.

For a little context, my parents have only lived in Missoula for a little under 3 years, and because my Dad is more politically involved than my Mom, it’s usually his decision that determines who they both vote for. That said, my Dad is no ideologue, and recently I’ve witnessed surprising diatribes against the GOP I never expected to see, considering his voting record. So obviously I was very curious about how he came to darken the box for Hertz.

It came down to effort, both physical and online. Adam knocked on my parents door, and didn’t push too hard when my Dad name-dropped a recent councilman who is a friend of mine, and proud member of the opposing political team. Pam did not knock.

After the door-knock encounter, my Dad went online and compared websites, where Adam apparently came off as smart and engaged, while Pam came off as, well, not even trying. His decision, he told me, was more a product of being totally unimpressed with Pam’s online presence than it was being totally excited to put a young, fiscal conservative in the hot seat of our progressive-dominant city council.

In the Etc. section of the Indy this week (a section that creates a sometimes obnoxious space for editorial snarkiness) the increasing importance of using web-presence for 21st century political campaigns via social media was highlighted. My Dad’s anecdotal evidence seems to back that up. Too bad the only fragment of commentary taken from the post I put up calling attention to the alleged concern we Missoulians should have regarding a progressive super-majority was a colorful description of Hertz from a former employee of the non-profit Hertz has made public (and ignorant) issue with.

Anyway, whoever wins, best of luck. And if it’s you, Adam, welcome to the minefield of Missoula politics.

by lizard

Jeff Tweedy is a talented song writer, but when I thumbed through a collection of his poems, titled Adult Head, I found his assuming the role of poet to be a bit presumptuous.

I found an interesting article talking about this phenomenon, titled When Bad Poetry Happens to Good Rockers. Here is a snip from the article:

In the writing of a great lyric the intrusion of Mind is to be avoided: States of possession recommend themselves. Kurt Cobain wrote great lyrics because he was out on his feet, on the nod, mumbling and screaming in his sleep; Johnny Rotten because he was fizzing with blind, rodent-like fury; Lennon and McCartney because they liked to compose with the TV and radio on, mail being delivered, phones ringing, and all sorts of people dropping by — a continuum of distraction they called The Random. Oasis, for the purpose of writing great rock lyrics, pretended they were stupid.

Then there are the rock poets: the conscious ones, addressing themselves to the ages. They do not regard their work as disposable. Lou Reed, who studied poetry under Delmore Schwartz at Syracuse, published his selected lyrics in 1991 under the deeply pretentious title “Between Thought And Expression.” Patti Smith published a huge book called “Complete: Lyrics, Notes and Reflections” (1999). Now Jeff Tweedy, leader of the band Wilco, has become the latest rock notable to — in the words of Dickens’s Silas Wegg — drop into poetry.

A much less well known rocker, David Berman of the Silver Jews, made a much more significant poetic contribution IMHO with his book Actual Air. Here is a good review, which opens with this:

Few lyricists’ songwords could stand up to the blank scrutiny of ink-on-page, printed in the cold light of black-and-white far away from the safety of sentimental chord-changes and musical meter. David Berman’s could.

That lead-in gives a good explanation of why so many song lyrics can’t stand alone as poems. Below the fold is a poem from Berman’s Actual Air, and a bonus tune from his band The Silver Jews. Enjoy. Continue Reading »

By Pete Talbot

Topsy-turvey city council election. Disappointed by the Ward 2 Walzer/Hertz results but I’ll wait for the recount.

More on the council races later. Right now, I’m celebrating the landslide referendum outcome. Seventy-five freakin’ percent! Reminds me why I live here.

An American Insurgency?

by lizard

Most readers of this blog probably remember how frustrated some of us were in January of this year when Jon Tester labeled those on the left who disagreed with his Forest Jobs and Recreation Act as extremists. Here is the exact wording he used in the Missoulian article:

“The work doesn’t get done on the far left and it doesn’t get done on the far right,” Tester said during a meeting with the Missoulian editorial board on Monday. “It gets done in the middle. If you look at the folks opposing this bill, they’re the extremes. Quite frankly, extremists are extremists and I don’t really care. If they’re willing to become less ideologues and more realists, then come on board.”

It was pointed out at the time that using the term “extremists” was not just counterproductive rhetoric from our junior senator, but dangerous as well, considering what our nation does to radicalized islamic extremists in our ever-expanding WAR AGAINST TERROR.

Today I ran across a really disturbing article from Mother Jones, titled Next Frontier in Natural Gas Wars: Psy Ops. According to the article, at a recent conference, industry insiders discussed how best to deal with local opposition to fracking. Check out these two chilling statements featured in the MJ article:

Here’s the direct quote from Range Resources communications director Matt Pitzarella, from a from session titled “Designing a Media Relations Strategy To Overcome Concerns Surrounding Hydraulic Fracturing”:

“We have several former psy ops folks that work for us at Range because they’re very comfortable in dealing with localized issues and local governments,” Pitzarella said. “Really all they do is spend most of their time helping folks develop local ordinances and things like that. But very much having that understanding of psy ops in the Army and in the Middle East has applied very helpfully here for us in Pennsylvania.”

And here’s Matt Carmichael, the manager of external affairs for Anadarko Petroleum:

“Download the U.S. Army-slash-Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual, because we are dealing with an insurgency,” Carmichael said. “There’s a lot of good lessons in there and coming from a military background, I found the insight in that extremely remarkable.”

There it is, clear as day. American citizens who oppose their drinking water getting so polluted that their tap water becomes flammable are being casually labeled as insurgents who warrant a militarized counterinsurgency strategy to be deployed against them.

What’s next? Predator drone strikes in Pennsylvania? Ten years ago that would have sounded ridiculous. Now, it seems almost inevitable.

by lizard

I had no idea how much I didn’t know about the relationship between Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath until tonight. I had been somewhat familiar with Plath’s poetry and her tragic suicide on February 11, 1963, from being assigned The Bell Jar in high school (Plath’s only novel published in the UK one month before her suicide), but I had no idea her husband was a notable poet as well, and that he became a vilified figure after his wife’s death.

In trying to piece this post together, I ran across this article from Slate, first published in March of 1998. Here’s the introduction:

In 1963, the 30-year-old poet Sylvia Plath killed herself, placing her head on a folded cloth inside an oven and turning on the gas. Posthumously, Plath became a feminist icon. A slew of memoirs and biographies argued that the arrogance of her macho husband Ted Hughes, Britain’s current poet laureate, precipitated her suicide. For 35 years, Hughes maintained a calculated silence about Plath’s death. Last month, he finally published his side of their story in Birthday Letters–an autobiographical collection of 88 poems, written over 25 years. Hughes’ friends predicted the book would exculpate him and silence his critics. But the debate remains as shrill as ever. What is the case against Hughes? How have Hughes’ opponents and proponents exploited Birthday Letters?

I haven’t read Birthday Letters, but I have read the last collection of poems Sylvia Plath wrote before killing herself, Ariel, and it’s only because I pulled that book off the shelf tonight that I ended up writing this post. Here is a poem with serious teeth: Continue Reading »


After more than a year of protests, general strikes, and clashes with authority, the Greek people have been given a chance to decide their own destiny and it looks very likely that voters will reject the debt deal put forward by the EU.  Financial markets reacted very negatively to the news, it would seem that markets aren’t very confident that Greek voters have international banks’ best interests in heart.

Ordinary people given the chance to decide the future of their own democratic country seems almost like a novelty.  I wonder what would have happened had Americans been given the chance to vote on TARP?  We might not have seen the rise of the Tea Party and OWS had it not been the shoveling of trillions of dollars tax payer money down the black hole of Wall Street’s quarterly reports.

Of course, Europe’s and America’s power brokers are just a little displeased, as the Greek PM, George Papandreou, is threatened by the fall of his government for his decision to put this issue in front of voters and will face angry EU leaders who will push for implementation of the plan even in the face of the Greek vote.  I guess he’ll learn his lesson that governing is for technocrats, not people… silly socialist.

The financial deal would force Greece to accept large cuts in public spending and is projected to increase already high unemployment rate partially caused by austerity measures adopted in 2010 in return for another bailout package.  But, as we’ve seen with Wall Street bailouts, such measures aren’t meant to help Greece, but to insure the profits of the bond holders, and of course, the only answer to debt is more debt.  Sound logic if you ask me.  The Naked Capitalist blog has a good post on the success of another country that rejected a financial bailout, even in the face of rising social spending.

I’m personally very interested in how a democratic vote will end up effecting this year’s Christmas bonuses at financial firms.

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