Archive for December, 2011

by lizard

Reviewing what happened this past year is for historians like Newt Gingrich. Because there is absolutely nothing we can learn from history, let’s not waste any of our precious time thinking about stuff that’s already happened. Instead, I would like to offer some predictions for the new year. If you’re feeling prophetic, please offer your own predictions in the comments.


Results from UM’s investigation into alleged sexual assaults will be released, determining no charges should be filed due to lack of evidence. In related news, no one from the athletics program or the administration will lose their jobs.


The Carlyle Group, having recently closed their deal to purchase Park Water Company with the blessing of the PSC, will eagerly start investing millions into updating the leaky infrastructure, creating more efficiency in the system, thus lowering rates for customers. In related news, Brad will say something mean to Travis, and Travis will say something mean back, and they will both still be making like 90,000 dollars to act like children.


Super Tuesday will be super predictable, and Mitt Romney will win the nomination. Republicans will do everything they can to NOT talk about their candidate, while perpetuating the hilarious fiction that Obama is a socialist uber-liberal waging class warfare against unfairly targeted hedge fund managers and health care executives. In related news, our imperialist president will be on the precipice of war with Iran, and gas will be $5 bucks a gallon at the pump.


A mentally ill person will attack a police officer, possibly killing him, and it will happen at an occupy encampment. Obama will declare martial law, placing all occupy protestors into FEMA interment camps. Glenn Beck says I told you so in a drunken clip he uploads himself on Youtube.


Biden says something that makes Israel’s right-wing extremists upset, and they force Obama to dump him for Joe Lieberman. The trial of Julian Assange begins in the states. Bradley Manning continues to be indefinitely detained. Anyone supporting Anonymous will be declared enemies of the state.


Sean Penn interrupts a U2 concert to save the children of Haiti, and punches Bono in the face. In related news, Haiti continues to languish in abject poverty while disaster capitalists build exclusive resorts and start work tapping that sweet crude.


A vast, complex marijuana grow operation in the wilderness near Montana’s border with Canada will be discovered and busted, providing a good opportunity to militarize national parks with homeland security and drone surveillance. In related news, Lake County law enforcement will still be good ‘ol boys.


Being one of three states with a budget surplus comes in handy when a fire season that makes 2000 look like a campfire rages across the west.


David Burgert, Montana’s recent contribution to America’s Most Wanted, is tracked down and taken out by federal authorities in Idaho. Montana Republicans continue to downplay how deep this vein of right-wing extremism runs in their ranks.


Turkey backs Iran and China while Russia throws in with Europe as India hits Pakistan. Elections in the US are suspended. Cuba provides a staging ground for first strikes against Venezuela. In obviously unrelated news, Ron Paul quietly dies of a heart attack.


As global events appear to be spiraling out of control, aliens make brazen contact, offering humanity a chance to redefine their relationship with the natural world with an inexhaustible form of clean energy. When the details of this plan are leaked, including an alien ban on terrestrial television, America is the only country to deny the deal, causing the aliens to isolate America with an impenetrable force field. Outside the force field humanity experiences a degree of peace previously unknown in its entire history of existence. Inside the force field, a real-life version of Mad Max Thunderdome ensues.

By Lesley Lotto

It doesn’t get any weirder than this does it?  The party of Ronald Reagan cannot make up its mind who to take to the election next year.  Another month, another front-runner.  Shall the candidate be a strong woman ala Michele Bachman or Sarah Palin, one of two Mormon men (only one of which is even remotely qualified), a bumbling, stumbling seemingly perpetually drunk cowboy Governor from Texas (been there, done that), a philanderer (been there squared) business mogul, a former Governor who’s even less exciting to watch than paint drying, a man with a last name you probably don’t want to Google, a Constitutionalist Congressman, an orange man with something resembling hair on his head, but alas not distracting enough to take away from his immeasurable arrogance or the former Speaker of the House whose own party chewed him up and spit him out back in the day.

From what I remember near the start of this whole charade…err New Year, it was Michele Bachman, the hot Congresswoman from Minnesota who was the front runner to face off with President Obama for the election in 2012.  Heck we’ve been talking about the 2012 election since January of 2008 when crazed racists came out of the wood work screaming “socialist”, claiming to be the so-called “Tea Party” of today and saying our President was going to take their hard-earned money like Robin Hood but not leave them with their weapons, for shame! Bachman was the Tea Party’s answer, her less government no more taxes message really seemed to resonate with that crowd.  They even gave her the soap box to respond to the President’s first joint address to Congress.  But it was super awkward, to say the least.  Apparently no one had clued her in that she should look into the camera, so she stared off into space leaving the Partiers holding their Tea with their jaws on the floor and no way to pick them back up.  Her campaign became sort of the what “made up story” will silly Michele say today as her husband spends their money buying her stylish pant suits and eye lash extensions.

Remember Tim Pawlenty?  Me either.

I didn’t even know much about Rick Santorum who also announced early on to crowds of people yawning.  So I Googled him, yeah I knew he was in the U.S. Senate, but what did he do or stand for I wondered and what made Rick think he was qualified? Wow, what Google comes up with should be censored and now I’ve lost interest…

Sarah Palin had been asked a gazillion times if she’d run after she shot on to the public stage the last go round, but she was hanging on to the bitter end, squeezing out every last dollar from the poor mid-westerners who pinned her up on the wall and gladly taking their last dollar that could have paid for the final mortgage payment before their unemployment ran out before she bailed.  Did anyone actually think she was in this for anything other than the cabbage? She did however meet with The Donald and his hair (does that thing have a leash?).

Trump said he was toying with the idea of running for President too because Obama was allowing China to have all of the power and we couldn’t have that. Heck his pinky alone has more talent in it than anyone else running on the Republican side and he saw no reason to allow any other buffoon stay on the trail and take the spotlight away from his comb over.  He was so up in arms about the economic meltdown that he cursed like a sailor at a ladies group who begged him to run and appeared breathlessly with his fur Stole, I mean handsomely coiffed hair, on cable show after cable show until the finale of “The Apprentice” aired which was when he bailed like Palin.

But then wait, there’s Chris Christie, that enigmatic Governor from New Jersey who’s slashing and cutting while shoe-horning himself into a government helicopter to catch his son’s school athletics.  He said over and over he wasn’t running for office, even asking “what do I have to do to get people to believe me, commit suicide?”. Uhm, wow dude.  There are no words.

Then it was Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas riding in on his white horse to the rescue.  Only the horse wasn’t really white, it was more like ash-gray with sickly spots all over it.  The guy sounds like he’s on any number of pills mixed with booze and always has these wacky looks on his face as he forgets key departments of government he wants to do away with, because heck, government’s too big and we should secede or somethin’.  It’s a miracle he’s still in this thing.

Does anyone remember Herman Cain?  He was the Godfather’s Pizza guy with a perpetual hard-on campaigning endlessly even though any number of women might have come out of the woodwork saying they’d been either harassed or in some sort of sordid affair with him.  He finally put his “campaign” (read: lengthy book tour, way to meet chicks) “on suspension” which was basically a huge relief to the racists, liberals and righty’s and anyone else he deemed was out to get him.  (I personally prayed he’d stay the front runner because nothing would have been more exciting to watch with my air-popped non-GMO Organic Popcorn than Cain trying to debate President Obama on Foreign Policy issues.)

Newt Gingrich looked like he was out months ago.  His campaign imploded at the same time it was revealed he had spent a little too much on his 3rd wife, Calista at Tiffanys and on vacations (lord knows you gotta keep a woman who looks like she’s perpetually scared somewhat smiling or all hell could break loose).  With all due respect to the Newster, he was booted out of one of the most powerful positions in the world by his own peeps!  The press keeps saying he’s the front runner and that he’s surging, but all I can think about is his goofy arrogance.  He proclaimed weeks ago that indeed he would be the nominee, but the people in Iowa, the state where the first primary is happening, haven’t allowed his surge.  He’s 4th in the Iowa polls as I write this.

Poor Mitt Romney, always the bridesmaid, never the bride.  He’s been campaigning since before it was cool.  He’s been out on the trail trying to win a seat, any seat, FOR YEARS. And since he has an ung-dly amount of money and can flip flop from one topic to the next without skipping a beat, you’d think he’d be the perfect candidate, but wait now there just a minute.  Shhh… he’s a Mormon.  We can’t have any of that.  I mean, first it’s a black socialist President, then a Fundamentalist in Magic Underwear?  No way! Way. Jon Huntsman is also a Mormon and the only one, sadly, of the entire lot that even knows what the heck he’s talking about.  But his previous alliance to Obama as the Ambassador to China is bad, really bad. Plus he believes in that Climate Change thingy.  He must not be wearing his magic underwear, because he usually gets a roll of the eye and 7th place.

And then there’s the poorest of them all, Ron Paul, another perennial POTUS candidate.  People really do seem to love Paul and his less government, fire everyone and make me King message.  He’s on top or maybe 2nd in Iowa depending on which poll you read.  I can’t figure out if I like or hate Dr. Paul. Plus there’s those “Newsletters”. Some of his platform makes perfect sense to me, while other parts don’t make any sense to me and that’s the rub right there.  The Republican candidates, much like their party can’t seem to make up their minds what they’re for.  It’s important for less government, but we want to tell women how to live and what they can do with their bodies, Paul, the former OB-GYN helped more than 4,000 babies come into the world.  If he fails to win the nod from his party, and since he’s said he’s not running again for Congress, he may have to spend his golden years on a throne back in Texas overseeing his own personal palace.  All hail the King or something.

by lizard

As a genre, Spoken Word is poetry performed. Line breaks and clever enjambments need not apply.

Spoken Word is the free-flowing vibe of poetry slams. And it’s the guts of Rap and Hip-Hop. Like any genre, it has its contrivances and caricatures. Like suburban white kids lovin’ themselves some rap music. My only defense is I at least had/have good taste. Below the fold, some spoken word measured by beats. Enjoy. Continue Reading »

Ron Paul

by lizard

The crazy is possible, and the scramble is on. Ron Paul’s inevitable penetration into America’s political consciousness is frightening both sides of the aisle.

The Ron Paul brand is a weird assemblage, attracting seemingly disparate bits of our societal frustration. anti-war refugees and those criminalized by the drug war like some of what they hear. Anti-government libertarians and critics of America’s death-pact with Israel like some of what they hear. And, some would argue, corporations, racists, and anti-semites like some of what they hear as well.

Dave Lindorff, one of my favorite regulars at Counterpunch, has a piece up today, titled Why the Establishment is Terrified of Ron Paul.

It’s worth reading the whole piece, because Lindorff tries to put Paul in the best context possible, but for the purpose of this post’s focus, here’s the conclusion:

Libertarianism is at its core an ugly anti-social philosophy of selfishness carried to the extreme. It is the antithesis of all that has been good in human social evolution — the creation of philosophies of caring and of societies in which suffering and want are addressed and, where possible, ameliorated.

Interestingly though, Paul is not being pilloried by his establishment critics in the GOP or the Democratic Party, or in the media, for his Libertarian economic theories or even his far-out property-rights theories. These are, after all, also quietly shared by most people in both of the major parties, and of course are wildly popular among the ranks of the corporate elite, who know they can always get all the favors they want or need from politicians by buying them, and who are happy to spout the gospel of Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman when it comes to government regulation of their businesses or taxation of their personal hoards. Unfettered capitalism is also an article of faith in the corporate media.

That said, sometimes it all comes down to a couple of big issues, and in the unlikely chance that the election next November were to end up being the choice between Barack Obama and Ron Paul (and assuming no emergence of a viable Third Party progressive candidate like Rocky Anderson and hisJustice Party), while I might have a hard time pulling the lever for Paul unless he can really make it clear he has no truck with White Supremecists and their ilk, it would be easier than pulling a lever for Obama.

Why? Because with President Obama we would get more war, increased military spending, and at the rate he’s been going stripping away our Constitutional rights, there wouldn’t be any of those after another four years. We would also be electing someone who we now know lies through his teeth, who takes money from some of the biggest corporate thieves in human history, and who has appointed some of those very criminals to most or all of the key economic policy positions in his administration.

With Ron Paul as president, at least we’d be done with all the wars, the people of the rest of the world would be finally free of US military interference, including attacks by US drones. The long-suffering Constitution and its Bill of Rights would mean something again. We might even get a Supreme Court justice or two who actually believed that Congress should declare any future wars before we could fight them, and that citizens who were arrested had an absolute right to a speedy trial by a jury of peers. And we’d be electing someone who appears, especially for a politician, to be that rare thing: an honest man who says what he means and means what he says — and who doesn’t seem to be owned by the banksters.

We’d have a hell of a fight on our hands in a Ron Paul presidency, defending Social Security and Medicare, promoting economic equality, fighting climate change and pollution, defending abortion rights and maybe fighting a resurgence of Jim Crow in some parts of the country, but at least we wouldn’t have to worry about being spied upon, beaten and arrested and then perhaps shipped off to Guantanamo for doing it.

Ron Paul is now a phenomenon that has to be dealt with by both sides. The GOP is trying to keep the wheels from coming off in Iowa, and the DNC is wondering how substantial the threat to segments of their disillusioned base may be.


Update #2 (this is an update from the original Kos post linked to below):
This is from a statement from Stewart Rhodes of Oathkeepers regarding Republican Denny Rehberg as a target of recall, who also voted for NDAA.

Here in Montana, while we will go after all three violators of the Bill of Rights, I will place special emphasis and “focus of effort” on Denny Rehberg, since he is so fond of wrapping himself in the flag and claiming to be defending the Constitution while his votes do the exact opposite. In that sense, Rehberg is much like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, two Republicans who, right along with Carl Levin and Joseph Lieberman, are leading a sustained and relentless assault on our Bill of Rights.

Do people really believe it is appropriate for our Senators (or Rep) in Montana to cast votes that take away constitutional rights?

Well, many in Montana and across the country don’t believe so. Jonathan Turley, at the TurleyBlog — the foremost legal blog commenting on civil rights in the country — makes a fine example of what many Montanans are doing in response to Max and Jon’s (and should be doing to Denny, too) ill-advised votes for indefinite detention of american citizens:

…Now Montana citizens have decided to try another approach given the non-responsive attitude of our leaders — they are moving to remove their two Senators from office over their votes in favor of indefinite detention powers.

Montana is one of nine states with recall laws. The other states are Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Eighteen states have recall laws, but most do not apply to federal officers.

Montana Code 2-16-603, on the grounds of physical or mental lack of fitness, incompetence, violation of oath of office, official misconduct, or conviction of certain felony offenses. [sic]

Presumably, they are arguing that voting for an unconstitutional measure that allows for indefinite detention of citizens constitutes both a violation of the oath of office and incompetence. Usually official misconduct does not include policy differences, though voting for potentially authoritarian powers would not be viewed as good conduct in a free nation.

The move by the Montana votes shows something that I found in doing speeches around the country: there is no difference in red and blue states in citizens (1) fed up with our current two-party monopoly and dysfunctional politics and (2) opposed to the loss of civil liberties in this country.

It seems that occasional 4&20 commenter William Crane and others are behind this effort:

Montana law requires grounds for recall to be stated which show conformity to the allowed grounds for recall. The draft language of the Montana petitions, “reason for recall” reads:

“The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees all U.S citizens:
“a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed…”

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 (NDAA 2011) permanently abolishes the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial, “for the duration of hostilities” in the War on Terror, which was defined by President George W. Bush as “task which does not end” to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001.

Those who voted Aye on December 15th, 2011, Bill of Rights Day, for NDAA 2011 have attempted to grant powers which cannot be granted, which violate both the spirit and the letter of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

The Montana Recall Act stipulates that officials including US senators can only be recalled for physical or mental lack of fitness, incompetence, violation of the oath of office, official misconduct, or conviction of a felony offense. We the undersigned call for a recall election to be held for Senator Max S. Baucus [and Senator Jonathan Tester] and charge that he has violated his oath of office, to protect and defend the United States Constitution.”

…Montana would be the first recall drive to be launched as a result of the vote for the NDAA military detentions provisions.

Ah, it’s a fine day when the “principled left” believes that a dialog about the electeds stripping Constitutional rights from citizens needs to take center stage! As to Turley’s point above about the “two-party monopoly”, Denny should be taking his licks for his vote, also.

Update with thought exercise: What will the election for Senator look like if both candidates have active petition recalls against them? And what might happen if the petitions actually lead to a vote before the general election next year? And who might the fill in candidates be if both recalls succeeded? Who might replace Max?

Men And Their Holy Mountains

by lizard

While sitting in post-feast stupor on the couch, I caught most of the 60 minutes piece about incredibly devout, orthodox, byzantine-time-telling bearded Christians who inhabit Mount Athos and pray every minute of their lives to get closer to God.

It wasn’t until near the end of the piece that women’s presence (or lack-there-of) on this holy mountain was discussed.

The church’s relics are brought out everyday and pilgrims ask for the blessings of the saints. The most sacred relic on the entire peninsula is in this case fabric said to be part of a garment worn by the Virgin Mary.

The irony is – that while the mother of God is revered here – no other woman is permitted to even set foot on Mount Athos; it’s been like that for a thousand years.

The reason for the ban, according to Orthodox doctrine, is that Christ gave the peninsula to his mother and all other women are excluded so as to fully honor the Virgin Mary. It’s also said that in the days before the ban, when women did come here, the monks became distracted and couldn’t devote themselves entirely to prayer. They say it became a lot easier after the last lady left.

Simon: Keeping women out, certainly wasn’t much of a problem three– four hundred years ago. Do you feel that’s becoming problematic today?

Father Arsenios: I don’t believe so because the monastery itself and all the land around it is our property. And, if we don’t want women coming onto our property we have every right to do that.

Mount Athos may be the last all-male bastion in the world. And Father Arsenios says it has to stay that way.

Father Arsenios: Here we’re concerned solely with purity and our elevation to eternity. If women are permitted, they would bring their families and children. This place would become a tourist’s attraction and no longer a place of silence.

The guy makes a point. Women and kids are noisy. For example, my wife tonight got frustrated at how much time my ass spent depressing the couch cushions, and let me know it. This of course once the kids have been put to bed after being non-stop perpetual noise machines their every waking moment. Damn noise.

Forget she has a valid point and rarely ever gets the plush indulgences of gratuitous couch-sitting. If silence is an ingredient for getting closer to God, then banning women is understandable, right guys?

It’s of course all bullshit. Obviously “distracting” the men from their prayers is a nice way of saying carnal thoughts are harder (pun intended) to dismiss when in physical proximity to women (assuming the men are heterosexual, which probably isn’t always the case).

This ancient strain of Christian devotion on Mount Athos is like a time-capsule peek into the patriarchal structure of strict orthodoxy. It’s something I’ve found distasteful the more I learned about the ancient Christian/Judaic roots of the watered down version I received as a Presbyterian growing up.

That same 60 minutes also featured a “rare look” into the Vatican Library. What I found interesting was how they noted the strangeness of “love” letters from Henry VIII to that wife of his he later had beheaded.

You might find, as curator Adalbert Roth showed us, drawings of a German jousting tournament in 1481.

Or an old cookbook, telling us that Roman foodies in the fourth century dined on chicken, veal, seafood, pancakes in milk and whipped pear cake.

Janz: How to hack away at your enemy’s wall…

Or from an 11th century treatise on the art of war: a Byzantine soldier brandishing a flame-thrower, something the Greeks invented 1,500 years earlier.

Or Henry VIII’s love letters to Anne Boleyn.

Collins: The letters are certainly among the most bizarre and unusual that you’d expect to find in the pope’s archives.

There are 17 of them. Handwritten by the king of England to the woman he would make the second of his six wives, and later have beheaded.

Adalbert Roth: There’s the little heart…”

Henry signs his name with a heart, like a smitten schoolboy. He tells of his “fervents of love”, his great loneliness without her. “Wishing myself,” he says, “in my sweetheart’s arms, whose pretty dukkys i trust shortly to kiss.” Dukkys being a term in Henry’s day for well, use your imagination.

Isn’t that fantastic?

Today is the day Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. While old men with long beards pray all day on their little mountain, I remember the two times I felt the closest to divinity; my wife giving birth to our two kids.

by lizard

Geoffrey G. O’Brien’s new collection of verse, Metropole, features an old, grainy picture of Bohemian Grove. The picture was taken by photographer James D. Phelan in 1924, before the now infamous summer boys club in Northern California transformed into a target of conspiratorial speculation.

Intrigued, I purchased the book, and before digging in, did a bit of surfing for some context. I found a review by the Los Angeles Review of Books; the review done by Ed Skoogs, and an interview done by Adam Fitzgerald. Here is a snippet of the Q and A regarding Bohemian Grove:

FITZGERALD: Tell me about “Bohemian Grove”: what it is, and what it means to the architecture of the book.

O’BRIEN: The Bohemian Grove is an encampment set among redwoods in Northern California where male politicos and captains of industry go for two weeks every summer to relieve some of the tension accumulated while despoiling the world the other 50 weeks of the year. The Grove’s motto is “Weaving spiders come not here” and its members kick off the two weeks with a “Cremation of Care” ceremony under the 40 foot concrete owl pictured on my book’s cover and then proceed to get drunk and put on plays that often require cross-dressing. So it’s a sealed, ritualistic space cleaned of the complexity (cares and the “weaving” of schemes) of the rest of the world: multiple genders, races, class stratification, regional conflict should “come not here.” In other words, it’s a kind of political pastoral, a simple green world, a private California, in which song and pageant can take place — a pastoral with an electrified fence and a guarded perimeter.

“Bohemian Grove” is a poem about the dangers and absurdities of conceiving of art as happening elsewhere or of capturing the world via a falsifying simplicity. It moves around in time in the 20th century, the syntax with which one decade is treated melting into the syntax of another (“in leaves, in the 70s I sang a song of we / became ourselves again as women, specifically”) to show this protected space’s blithe passage through history — they just keep staging plays year after year while Rome continues to burn. Putting an image of that ridiculous, sinister owl on the book’s cover was a way of admitting my poems happen in the same world as the rituals of the Bohemian Grove, albeit with an entirely different concept of the function of artifice: to incur responsibility rather than relieve it. Like Oppen, my faith in song is limited but my desire to sing isn’t, so my solution is to try to sing the false pastorals of the actual world rather than flee to them.

O’Brien’s solution “to sing the false pastorals of the actual world” is, I would argue, an important acknowledgment of a cultural environment of falsehoods we are so immersed in we fail to see. We are all participants in a sort of ridiculous pageantry, whether we’re captains of industry playing around in the woods of Northern California, or families exchanging gifts to celebrate the alleged birth of the son (sun) of God.

There is so much cultural detritus heaped upon the core elements of our mortal lives, that using the old pastoral escape routes seems more a stubborn refusal to acknowledge how deeply affected we are by the permeation of that detritus than a celebration of the natural wildness that sustains the human spirit.

Maybe through confronting these false pastorals, artists and poets can help us understand the disconnect that drives us to search for that indescribable something we feel like we’ve lost.

I don’t know how successful O’Brien’s particular poem about Bohemian Grove actually is, but below the fold you can read it and decide for yourself. Continue Reading »

by lizard

In an earlier post that touched on Missoula’s variation of OWS, I mentioned poop and wiping one’s ass.

Well, it appears the poop war between Missoula County commissioners and the occupiers is escalating, with the recent removal of a portable shitter from the courthouse lawn.

Pulling back their shitty olive branch is not all the commissioners are up to. From what I’ve inferred from the article, it would appear there is not yet sufficient grounds for eviction.

“As a result of Occupy Missoula’s unwillingness to help Missoula County solve the problems their camp presents, we are developing a policy that will prohibit camping on county property,” county commissioners Jean Curtiss, Bill Carey and Michele Landquist said in a statement more strongly worded than previous ones.

Such a policy will require a public process.

What we are seeing with our local microcosm of OWS is not merely concern with poop in the bushes. That faux issue is just a stand in for the real issue, which I submit is a general intolerance of the chronically homeless, more commonly referred to as transients by the illustrious Missoulian.

Here’s the problem: Missoula’s occupation has opened up a space where lowly transients might seep in to ratty tents to sleep.

Here’s the solution: from what I’ve heard, “abandoned tents” are already being taken down. Maybe the message is dirty occupiers shouldn’t mix with ice sculpture enthusiasts for First Night. I dunno.

Our other paper, Missoula’s dear Independent, this week has as its feature story an undercover account of being homeless on the streets of Missoula. Jayme Feary does, IMO, a fine job attempting to understand, as an outsider to street culture, what it feels like to live on the margins of acceptable society. To be invisible. It’s worth reading.

With that piece in mind, I can see how the physical occupying presence of maybe a half dozen campers on the courthouse lawn may seem like a meager, vulnerable representation of the broader movement, but it would be a mistake to underestimate the resonance of pointing out how thoroughly the majority are getting snowed by the tippy-top benefactors of this economic squeeze.

Along those lines, I was recently having a not-very-productive argument with Wulfy that somehow became about OWS, which I think may be worth reposting here (sans the nasty stuff):

So, simple factual question: what has the Occupy movement accomplished?

Here’s what I’ve seen, Liz. I’ve seen Occupy Denver burn down a city park. I’ve seen Occupy Missoula deny alcohol on a sight where one in their encampment got an 11 year old so drunk he had to be hospitalized. I’ve seen good people get pepper sprayed and yet not one College President or Mayor (or actually any cop) has even payed the price for the action. So please, instruct me what Occupy has accomplished.

And here’s my response:

first, the shift in messaging. as Obama was letting the GOP define deficit reduction as the most pressing economic concern, OWS forced the issue of income disparity/inequality into the national spotlight. that is not insignificant.

second, the police state. as members of the Obama administration lecture other countries about democracy and human rights, OWS is reminding us exactly what the 1% think about the right to assemble. OWS showed us how Bloomberg’s army, paid in part by JP Morgan and company, eagerly used violence to attack peaceful protestors. and across the country, coordinated raids by militarized police units have shown us, again and again, what our plutocracy is willing to do in order to suppress dissent.

third, direct action. OWS shut down west coast ports. again, not insignificant. there are teeth to this movement, and that has forced attempts to co-opt the momentum, like the president of the SEIU getting arrested to build her street cred, then endorsing Obama to position their org for crumbs from the self-destructive effects of neoliberalism.

and finally, if you listen to Obama’s Kansas speech, even our sellout prez is trying to reignite the illusion of his populism by adopting the rhetoric of the 99%.

thankfully, unlike the tea party, OWS is not interested in validating our hopelessly corrupt two party political system. you can try and claim this movement isn’t “political” because they aren’t endorsing candidates, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been significant political ramifications already from this 3 month insurrection against the US plutocracy.


Before getting to the poem part of this poem series, I’d like to give a nod to Sherri Downing, coordinator of the Montana Council on Homelessness. Helping to tell the stories of those who die on the too often unacknowledged margins of our society is a worthy cause. Toward that end, here is a poem I wrote a few months ago. About Joe. Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Make no mistake, Rep. Denny Rehberg will be voting yes as soon as Boehner rounds up his caucus and get’s ’em all back to Washington. He is not going to risk letting a tax cut issue reside with Jon Tester.

Who did, incidentally, have no problem voting for it.

On Tuesday Rehberg, of course, stood strong on his vote to say no to a middle-class payroll tax cut with multiple party-line votes that were taken in the House to try and approve the budget deal that came down from the Senate.

What Rehberg’s upcoming yes vote will mean is that he takes marching orders and plays political football with tax cuts that mean a whole hell of a lot to his constituents here in Montana, whose median income sits in the bottom 20%. It shows he can’t think for himself. It shows that he listens to someone else to tell him how to vote.

Rehberg is willing to play politics with middle-class tax cuts to gain favor with some unknown minority of people.

I’m not happy with this budget deal for a variety of reasons – most egregious is the insertion of the Keystone XL pipeline language, whichoil-and-coal loving Rehberg inserted. Yet both Jon Tester and Max Baucus supported the language when there was discussion on whether the Senate would keep it. So “meh” for me.

And if Rehberg votes no? Well, there’ll be a whole lot to say about that.

Quite a pickle Boehner went and let that Tea Party caucus get himself into, huh? Too funny. What did that last? 36 hours? 48?

by jhwygirl

These are some serious issues that deserve some serious attention, folks. There’e no reason to dismiss this stuff as crazy blog stuff, as this and the story below are merely op eds that ask questions of stories written in the Missoulian.

Also in today’s paper was this story of a guy who was out driving so under the influence on Mullen Road that he forced a car and a school bus onto the shoulder of the road.

Thing is, the subsequent arrest for this alleged activity was his fifth.

Now, in wacky Montana (for any of you who might be reading from outside our regressive state) DUI offenders get three “passes” from mandatory jail time. It’s not until the 4th where mandatory sentencing occurs.

I’m sure it’s probably no more than 90 days…

In this case, Gordon James Shaffer – a registered violent offender – was free to drive a school bus off the road because somewhere along the line after he allegedly hit-and-run under the influence and six other offenses, his charges were eventually dropped because paperwork was not filed in time.

In this case, that appears to have been in the county attorney’s office? The same office who told the judge on the last charges that Shaffer is “somebody who’s going to kill somebody if he’s not stopped.”

Nice to know someone is concerned.

That attorney’s office has long been overworked and overburdened. In this case, that lack of adequate staffing has nearly resulted in disaster.

They’re pleading out cases to avoid trial – and they’re losing paperwork such that menaces to society are being released into the public.

To force school buses to drive off the road.

Hey – again…If I had kids….

by jhwygirl

What exactly goes on in this town regarding rape? The University of Montana investigating crimes on its own campus with its own attorney/investigator? And not involving police? Are Universities their own political subdivision?

A woman goes to the police to inquire about rape and assault charges and they don’t immediately find her an advocate? A friggin’ possible rape victim who might be in shock goes to the police station to ask about assault and they don’t immediately try and seek medical attention for her?!

What goes on? Is anyone else even concerned? Bueller? Bueller?

Today we get a story of another rape victim who reported an assault and the police never filed charges. KECI reported tonight, with someone from Missoula PD saying that they didn’t pursue charges after speaking with 5 football players and their story didn’t corroborate that of the victims.

You don’t say?

If I were a parent of a young lady that resided here in the City of Missoula, I’d be mightily concerned. Picture a 22 year old woman concerned enough to head off to the police station to ask about assault or rape or any sort of crime. That said 22 year old woman has to talk first with someone who wants to know what she wants – and she could be standing out in the hallway at the front desk. With people standing in line. Then if she gets her guts up enough to get in the door she has to discuss assault – sexual or otherwise – with a stranger who doesn’t even seem to have the common sense to bring in a counselor or some sort of advocate. It’s a situation that I find very uncomfortable to think about.

Are female crime victims dismissed? Or ignored? I’ve heard a number of disturbing stories over the last 6 months or so – two being two separate trials related to domestic violence, unrelated, two juries, and two people, one one each jury – and disturbingly, both cases detailed a litany of lost paperwork and unfiled warrants – and even recorded police conversations where the police advised someone who had an order of protection against him that he could go over to his ex girlfriends if it was for the purpose of obtaining his property. Which, of course, resulted in the assault that put the victim in the hospital – and in that court for trial.

I’ll close (for now) with just one more observation – one more name that is all over this like flies on shit is Vice President Jim Foley. When it comes to thuggery, the taxpayers of Montana are sure getting their money’s worth. His salary has got to be in the 6-digit range.

Just what I want my tax dollars funding.

Hey Hey, Ho Ho – Jim Foley Has Got to Go!

Good Americans

by lizard

I read an article by Sam Smith at Counterpunch today, titled America’s Silent Collapse, that’s really worth reading. Something that really jumped out, though, was a statement made by a German university professor to journalist Milton Mayer about what it was like to live through Germany’s dark transformation during the 1930’s:

To live in the process is absolutely not to notice it — please try to believe me — unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted.’. . .

Believe me this is true. Each act, each occasion is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow.. . .

Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven’t done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we did nothing). You remember those early meetings of your department in the university when, if one had stood, others would have stood, perhaps, but no one stood. A small matter, a matter of hiring this man or that, and you hired this one rather than that. You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair.

I’m afraid there will be no single rousing shock to jolt us good Americans from our stupor. But we are certainly taking impressive strides these days with legislation like NDAA and SOPA slowly moving toward becoming our new reality.

Other little examples of the noose tightening will come and go. David Seaman speculated a few days ago that his twitter account was taken down because he was tweeting too much about topics like #NDAA and #OWS. But who cares if some dude has his little tweets impeded?

Despite all the hiccups and stumbles that necessarily accompany any emerging popular movement, OWS continues to evolve and elude co-optation. Targeting Obama’s campaign office in Iowa is a smart move, IMHO, because it shifts a sliver of attention away from the crazy train running the GOP off the tracks to our sitting president who is doing his share to shred the constitution he was hired by the American people to uphold.

Going back to the Smith article, the conclusion echoes a sentiment I’ve tried articulating before; I like the way Smith says it though, so here it is:

Basically, our country is now divided between those who still believe in democracy and those who believe only in a culture of impunity to those with power and devoid of honor. With stunningly few exceptions, the latter includes not only Republican and Democratic politicians but our business leaders, media figures and a surprising number of academics. One need only to compare the role of today’s intellectuals with those of the 1960s to see how far our purported best and brightest have also fallen.

To do something about this, we do not have to forego our concerns for economic, ecological, and social issues, but we must understand and act on the fact that the biggest division in our country today is between those who still believe in democracy, decency and liberty and those who consider America just one big hedge fund that no one can, or cares to, regulate..

It might help, for example, if Greens and Libertarians came up with a joint plan to confront this crisis. Or if Bernie Sanders and Ron Paul jointly formed a movement to give it life. Or if the Occupiers and the Tea Party took a tip from their members in Memphis and Richmond and, despite all their other profound disagreements, worked together on the simply recovery of a constitutional society. As Tea Party member and Marine Corporal Stephen Mark Allen, put it, “Nothing would terrify the establishment more than a united Occupy Tea Party movement.

by jhwygirl

Oh don’t you know Pete’s correct – I’m going there. This is just one of probably several things I’ll have to say on the recent rape allegations against 3 Griz football players.

What a great headline to wake up to Missoula!

And don’t you know reporter Gwen Florio and the Missoulian were immediately attacked for writing such a story on a day the Griz were to play division championship football down in Sam Houston? Bad enough to criticize the Griz – we’ve done that here to some pretty thick skulls – but to do it on game day? During the championship run?

Montana sacrilege!! How dare they!!!

University Vice President Jim Foley is, of course, out front on this – and conveniently unavailable for interview and he’s with the team in Sam Houston. Foley, in short, is the biggest thug of all with regards to the Griz. He’s been there to defend each and every allegation over I don’t know how many years…and like he’s at work now making sure the University is fully CYA.

The Missoulian reports that the university has hired a private investigator – retired state Supreme Court Justice Diane Barz. Sounds all up-and-up?

I don’t know about that – from Silverstar, who left a comment on December 16, 2011, 3:46 am:

It seems unusual to me that the University of Montana hired an attorney to do an “outside investigation.” Montana’s statute regarding licensing of private investigators contains an exception to allow attorneys to conduct investigations “while performing duties as an attorney at law” just as it has exceptions for debt collectors to conduct investigations related to their duties and insurance adjusters to conduct investigations related to their duties.

Montana Codes Annotated 37-60-105 found at
does not suggest that attorneys can hire themselves out as private investigators unrelated to their duties as an attorney any more than debt collectors or insurance adjusters could. If she is representing the university as an attorney how it can be considered an outside investigation?

The reporter quoted Ray Murray as a representative of the Board of Private Security Officers and Investigators but didn’t mention that Murray is very closely connected with the University of Montana serving as vice president and professor of geology at the University of Montana from 1977 to 1996.

What does that mean? MCA 37-60-105 sure does pretty much say that the “investigator” that the University has hired can only act as an investigator if she is acting in her capacity as an attorney. So that means she has to have been hired by the University as an attorney – which means she is obligated to her client and her client only.

Do you see where this might be a pretty serious conflict of interest?

Not only that, but they couldn’t find someone to investigate that had something less than a 20 year association with the University???

Now – we know from past stories that the Griz team is well-represented when it comes to lawyers and things like a well-oiled CYA press machine (in the form of Jim Foley and pals) – what kind of support is the university giving to the two females involved in this issue?

Foley is pushing for a report by the beginning of the year. Nice. Kids are out of session today – the team is on the road, Foley included…holidays in the wings and he wants to know all he needs to know to protect the student’s University’s Griz’s best interests?

I wonder if the young ladies who the University’s so-called investigator will be speaking with will be fully aware of the ethical and legal obligations the University’s investigator has soley to the University of Montana?

Or was the investigator hired by the athletic department? Hell – considering how things go down there I have to wonder if the investigator was hired by some booster organization.

Not only all that – why is UM hiring an investigator? Katherine Redmond, founder of the Colorado-based National Coalition Against Violent Athletes points out: “If they’ve interviewed both sides, they don’t need a private investigator.”

Which is specifically accurate to Montana Code Annotated law.

Failure of this so-called investigator to disclose these entanglements completely to those that she interviews is, let’s just say, ethically challenged.

Given the possible implications of what she may discover when she interviews the victims, any truly impartial and ethical attorney/investigator would ensure that the victim had legal representation present.

Victim’s rights advocates have a right to be upset. This stinks to high heaven.

Florio and the Missoulian were right to cover this story. The University is in cover-up mode, with an ethically-challenged investigation that is been speed tracked over winter break during a championship run while the alleged victims are out of town.

Rape is one of the most under reported crimes – and here we have two females (at least) that quite possibly were drugged and raped…and no one advising them of their legal rights and counselling them with emotional support.

Meanwhile – the Griz fly to Sam Houston, they’ve got their attorneys…and Foley’s made sure they’ve got a private investigator keeping things all neat and tidy.

by Pete Talbot

Woke up this morning, put on my Grizzly hoodie and then opened up the daily fishwrap.

The alleged sexual assault by at least three UM football players is above the fold and the administration is stonewalling.  Roofies, the rape drug, may be involved.  Great.  Kind of takes the wind out of our sails just hours before kickoff of the semifinal FCS playoff game, not to mention the trauma visited on the two alleged women victims.

Here’s the skinny.  The comments after the story give some insight into the community’s reaction, that is until they deteriorate into Monday morning quarterback banter.  I have a feeling that jhwygirl will do a more in-depth piece here at 4&20. She’s been following Grizzly football antics for years.  Sometimes I think she’s a bit too harsh but in this case: go get ’em.

I realize that folks are presumed innocent until proven guilty but this reeks.  If the players who are potentially involved in this assault suit up for the game, and are later charged and convicted, the fallout could be, rightfully, disastrous (as in UM’s administrators and coaches suffering the same consequences as did Penn State’s).  I’ll wait for more facts to come out but if indeed an assault occurred, may those who committed it face the full brunt of the law.

by lizard

So Christopher Hitchens is dead, and the war in Iraq is over. The former said of the latter:

“Will an Iraq war make our Al Qaeda problem worse? Not likely.”

In this specific instance, I think Hitchens is dead wrong. With every duplicitous proclamation from our President’s mouth about this war, America’s credibility worsens, and increases the likelihood of those unfortunate souls on the losing end of these global resource wars to turn to extremism.

For an example of how the President is trying desperately to transform this national disgrace into a rah-rah moment, there’s this little gem from his speech:

Unlike the old empires, we don’t make these sacrifices for territory or for resources. We do it because it’s right.

The Iraq war was wrong. And even if the justification for invading and occupying Iraq wasn’t a nest of lies, it was stupidly prosecuted, rife with malfeasance and corporate grift.

Chris Hitchens is dead, and the war in Iraq is over. Except a writer who is still read is never quite dead, and America’s wars never really end. Below the fold, this weekend’s poem, from Polish poet Tadeusz Różewicz Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

We all know congress is a mess. These guys are beyond any sense when they can’t keep the nation’s flood insurance program running on anything but rims. Congress has surpassed incompetence at this point – it’s malfeasance when you look at the purposeful will with which they make these decisions.

Montanans across the state might want to take note, given that La Nina is supposed to be hanging around here this winter (though little of her presence has been noted recently). If predictions hold true, last year’s flood season may only have been a practice for what we’ll see in 2012.

And if ice jams are an issue for you (Gallatin Gateway? Bitterooters?) you may want to make sure you’ve purchased your flood insurance before the program expires this Friday, for what is at least its 4th time this year. I got dizzy looking back at how that program’s been extended this year:

Back in June, during the deficit debacle, the National Flood Insurance Program expired – expired – June 1st, and wasn’t signed back into law until June 31st – and of course, it was retroactive to June 1st. The program was extended until September 30th.

On September 29th, the program was extended until October 4th.

5 days?!?!

On October 4th, it was extended until November 18th.

And on November 18th, the program was extended until December 16. That’s this Friday.

And get this – last Thursday, December 8th, HR3628 was introduced to extend the program through May 31st.

May 31st. Really?

Now – I didn’t go any further back than that expiration of the program on June 1st, but in 2010, the National Flood Insurance Program lapsed four times and flood coverage could not be purchased or renewed for a total of 53 days.

Wonder what that uncertainty in flood insurance is doing for the housing market?

Proposing an extension of a program that is needed for areas that cover huge populations of Americans – and significant investments in tax base – through May 31st is plain ridiculous.

The GOP wants to toss around the uncertainty of regulation and they guys can’t even propose a decent extension of a program that damn well know isn’t going to go away. Not only that, they propose an extension that sets it to expire just as the flood waters start rolling down the Missouri on its way to the Mississippi as spring starts to thaw out Montana and North and South Dakota.

Frankly, it’s pretty surprising, given that the industry has been asking for a 5-year extension.

Montanans would do well to call Denny Rehberg and tell him that maybe he should get to work and tell his colleagues that the National Flood Insurance Program is a pretty important thing here in Montana, and that proposing an extension that has the thing expiring in May of 2012 is just plain stupid. Time is running out…and this thing has to come out of the House, which is the worst of the mess we’ve got over there in D.C.

Right now Rehberg’s a little too busy proposing a federal land swap for a Jesus statue.

Of course, I’m betting a federal land swap, even if it is only 625 square feet, will keep a whole bunch of bureaucrats employed for at least a few years. Maybe that’s Rehberg’s jobs plan.

And the cost of that land swap is most certainly publicly funded – he wouldn’t want those Jesus statute advocates to have to pay the cost of administering that land swap, I’m sure.

Let Rehberg know that perhaps he should get to working on keeping the largest economic sector – housing – a little more stable. A lot of JOBS are at stake – something you’d think he’d realize. All of that aside from helping out a whole bunch of Montana taxpayers who rely on the flood insurance program to protect their private property.

Rehberg can be reached toll free at 1-888-232-2626 – or you can click this link and shoot him a quick email.

A quick note here, but it looks like the Republicans in the House have found a way around their own self-imposed earmarks ban. I wish I had the time, but hopefully someone will go poking around those committees that Rehberg is on – Appropriations? – and see if any hypocrisy is going on there. I highly doubt the GOP is only circumventing their own ban on earmarks in Armed Services.

United States Of Hypocrisy

by lizard

There appears to be no bottom to the depths of hypocrisy American officials like Hillary Clinton exemplify when criticizing other nations:

Issuing new warnings to two U.S. partners Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized Russia for a parliamentary election she called rigged and said election gains by Islamist parties must not set back Egypt’s push toward democracy after the fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak this year.

She acknowledged the success of Islamist parties in Egyptian parliamentary voting that the U.S. has praised as fair. But many of the winners are not friendly to the United States or U.S. ally Israel, and some secular political activists in Egypt are worried that their revolution is being hijacked. Islamist parties are among the better-known and better-organized in Egypt, and while they were expected to do well in last week’s first round voting, a hardline bloc scored surprisingly large gains.

Clinton addressed head-on the fear that the hard-liners will crimp human and women’s rights.

“Transitions require fair and inclusive elections, but they also demand the embrace of democratic norms and rules,” she said. “We expect all democratic actors to uphold universal human rights, including women’s rights, to allow free religious practice.”

Man, is this shit getting old. Hillary Clinton needs to STFU and listen to how the domestic crackdown against Occupy encampments makes anything she says to countries like Egypt and Russia about “Democracy” and “Human Rights” worth as much as the toilet paper I wipe my ass with. She could start with what a U.N. envoy recently said:

The United Nations envoy for freedom of expression is drafting an official communication to the U.S. government demanding to know why federal officials are not protecting the rights of Occupy demonstrators whose protests are being disbanded — sometimes violently — by local authorities.

Frank La Rue, who serves as the U.N. “special rapporteur” for the protection of free expression, told HuffPost in an interview that the crackdowns against Occupy protesters appear to be violating their human and constitutional rights.

“I believe in city ordinances and I believe in maintaining urban order,” he said Thursday. “But on the other hand I also believe that the state — in this case the federal state — has an obligation to protect and promote human rights.”

“If I were going to pit a city ordinance against human rights, I would always take human rights,” he continued.

Nah, fuck human rights. They only matter when used as leverage on the geopolitical stage.

Speaking of ass wiping… Continue Reading »

by lizard

Cedilla V’s release is tomorrow, at the Crystal Theatre, at 7pm. The reading is scheduled to start around 8pm, and will tentatively wrap up around 10pm. Of course with around 30 poets reading, who knows when the poetry will end.

In case you missed my earlier post promoting this event, check it out.

This whole project, according to guest editor Mark Gibbons, morphed from a Montana-focused collection, to a tribute of sorts to Butte poet Ed Lahey, who passed away this April. It should be a great night of poetry for all involved.

In that spirit, here’s an appropriate poem from Ed.


It has been cold, and I
have been ill,
forced at the same time
to pull my own tooth.

Of course, I seek
another day.

I had the urge
while out walking
to rescue a torn orange
open to the sun
lying in the snow,

to take it in
wash it in cool water
keep it on a blue saucer.

I know the sad side of the street
to look for the value
the taste of true winter.

—Ed Lahey

Just A Day

by jhwygirl

Four years ago today, Missoula found out that Forrest Clayton Salcido had been stomped to what would be his death on the frozen ground of the south side of the California Street bridge the previous evening, right here in Missoula Montana.

We’ve written about Forrest a number of times over the years. You can read of his story from the posts that link takes you to.

In tribute to Forrest, I am going to post (for a third time, actually) Councilperson Jon Wilkins’ words that offered for Veteran’s Day back in 2008. I transcribed Jon’s words from that taped council meeting. Jon spoke these words from the heart – and not from notes.

Y’all know it’s Veteran’s Day tomorrow. And when I think back over my life and what Veterans mean to me, that generally brings tears to my eyes because I remember friends from the Class of ’68, Great Falls High, that don’t have the opportunity to honor Veteran’s Day today. ‘Cause they didn’t make it back.

A couple weeks ago, I left for lunch, on a Wednesday, and I was going over to City Hall…and I found a man, laying in the gutter…and the ambulance came. His buddies were all sitting on the bench, commenting about him. “He’s a combat Veteran with the Force Division.” Well, I happened to be with the Force Division in Vietnam, in the central highlands. And here this poor man is laying in the gutter.

How are we treating our Veterans? I want you to think about that tomorrow. Even our young ones that are coming home and the problems they’re facing…you know, to be in combat, it’s always with you. Some people can handle it – some people can’t. And there’s no disgrace in not being able to handle it. But our government and our city our state needs to do more to help these people out. And it’s appalling to me that a combat Veteran is laying in the gutter in the City of Missoula and has no home and no place to go…and…it just eats at my soul.

And I know myself I probably don’t do as much as I should but I try to do what can. So tomorrow when Veteran’s Day comes around and you see all the American flags in everybody’s yard, stop and think what it really means. Because we wouldn’t be sitting at this table making the decisions that we do on growth and all the other decisions that we make if it wasn’t for those Veterans during WWI, WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and all the little skirmishes in between.

And you know? Per capita for people that we have in Montana, we have more Veterans than any other state that come out of here than any other state. We are truly a patriotic state. Our people do serve and it’s time that we start paying attention to that.

Thank you.

Forrest Clayton Salcido’s murderers are serving their time, as are the families of all affected in one way or another. It’s a sorry sordid pile that still sits there for many.

Homeless does, of course, go on. There will always be homelessness – in Forrest’s case, it really was a choice he made because of something in him or that happened to him that made his choices that which they were.

Homelessness is hear to stay. A high percentage of homeless are tied to military and their service in war. Makes you wonder the causal circumstance of the homeless in general.

by lizard

If only poor people could afford lobbyists. But lobbyists like Newt Gingrich charge a lot of money for their services.

While the GOP clown show gets devoured by the punditry, angry little malcontents like myself keeps railing against the Republican in the White House, president Barack Obama. I say that because we are so skewed to the right, that “centrists” like Obama are essentially Republicans.

Under the cover of Newt Gingrich tossing out the lazy poor people meme, calling child labor laws stupid and proposing that kids work as janitors at their shitty schools, the Obama administration is FINALLY targeting fraud. At the Pentagon? Hell no! On Wall Street? Fucking hilarious!!

No, Obama would like to make sure struggling Americans aren’t taking advantage of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program currently serving over 40 million people.

To quote Wall Street’s attractive CNN shill Erin Burnett: Seriously?

With more Americans relying on the program, the Obama administration on Tuesday plans to announce new steps to crack down on SNAP fraud amid estimates suggesting as much as $753 million in federal food aid is spent fraudulently each year.

USDA plans to introduce what officials described as “severe penalties” for the illegal “trafficking” of SNAP benefits by retailers and beneficiaries. The officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly on the issue in advance of this afternoon’s formal announcement, did not detail the severity of the penalties.

Yes, seriously.

Now back to your regularly scheduled GOP/Trump reality television programming.

by jhwygirl

A little over two weeks ago we wrote about developments at the old Fox Theater site, including the developer’s request to get the city-owned riverfront property – valued at nearly $3 million I believe – for nothing and a grassroots citizen’s group comprised of labor, transportation and natural resource advocates who were seeking a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) from the developer in order to (a) ensure a true community benefit to the project given that it was city-owned land and (b) garner public support for their proposal.

There were some good reads at that last post on CBA’s, including this one from the Federal Reserve and this one from Cornell University.

Since then, this project is looking more like a potential boondoggle (read: O-s-p-r-e-y–S-t-a-d-i-u-m) given that the developers are asking for a right of first refusal agreement on the parcel in exchange for the $40,000 market study they’d need to do.

A right of first refusal for land they’ve already said they need to get for nothing in order to be viable?

The Farren Group & its investors propose a $37.6 million hotel and conference center and now they want to do a market study? And they want an exclusive agreement in exchange for a $40,000 market study that is 1/10th of 1% of the cost of the project they proposed?

In the real world, they’d be paying the owner of the property for such an exclusive deal. A private property owner would laugh at such a proposal.

And according to the Missoulian, last week’s report out of city council’s Administration & Finance committee indicates that council is prepared to hand that over to them, despite the well-attended appearance of the Community Benefits Coalition at the committee meeting, and the unwillingness of the developer to even discuss such an agreement.

If they’re doing a market study, shouldn’t it include all possible knowns and variables? Wouldn’t construction labor be a significant component?

In the previous post, there were three parts to the CBA agreement. So far, Pat Corrick of the Farren Group has been provided the card-check neutrality agreement and the project labor agreement. Given the speed at which this project has moved forward in the last two weeks (why the rush?), the final portion related to design issues such as pathways and parking has yet to be finalized.

Corrick’s response to the requests by the CBC to discuss the proposals? He told the CBC that he ‘wasn’t interested in negotiating on this right now,’ and that he might be ‘when the market study is done.’

Councilperson Bob Jaffe mentioned the CBC on his listserv after Wednesday’s A&F committee meeting:

The CBC folks really wanted us to withhold the exclusivity agreement until they were able to negotiate with the developers but we weren’t really interested in that. I’m hoping we can come up with something by Monday that gives them some kind of seat at the table during the negotiation period. The development group is asking for a lot of public money in this project so I think it is reasonable for them to make some concessions for our community value and concerns. Based on their presentation I’m pretty sure we are all sharing a mostly common vision for this project. I’m pretty optimistic they can all work together to come up with something we are all happy with.

Might be nice if they gave the CBC more than a few days before Monday’s meeting to try and work things out. What’s the rush…or why the rush? Shouldn’t the public fully vet this project? Especially given the recent events surrounding the Osprey stadium site?

What is the “common vision” for this project? Did that all come out in this one public committee meeting and two news articles over the last 2 1/2 weeks?

Missoula economist and all-too-infrequent-4&20 contributor Ross Keogh offers on interesting concession that I’d think should be wholeheartedly considered – with some vetting with the council, the community and the CBC: The leasing of the site to the developer. That would garner quite a monetary incentive to the developer with the reduction in property tax rate which would have the development only taxed on improvements and not the publicly-owned land.

How can Missoula even see a community benefit to this project and why are we considering granting these guys a right of first refusal agreement when they refuse to even discuss the project with the members of the community and the CBC? What exactly are the “obvious benefits” to which city council refers?

Let’s take some time to define those and see that the community is on the same page.

Bozeman has a developer begging on them to sell them a $2.3 million property downtown that would require them to tear down a garage before they build their exclusive hotel…and Missoula’s racing to give away a rivefront parcel already scraped and ready to develop just a few short months after having bought back its own property on the opposite side of the riverbank.

All without even a guarantee of living wage paying jobs.

Conservatives and liberals alike should look very carefully at any development wishing free things – including this exclusive agreemen – when the only thing they’ve dangled out there is a market study that is a drivel of the price of the hotel they’ve somehow convince MRA they are capable of building.

by lizard

As the EU totters on the precipice, and Germany gets smacked into submission, I would like to make some poetry-for-purchase suggestions because, you know, tis the season, and to keep this economic system from collapsing, we must all do our part. Here is mine.

Oh, and if you plan on buying online, I recommend Abe Books. Unlike local poet Chris Dombrowski, I have made no effort to seek an endorsement from Abe Books, but we all have a price, and mine just might be a few Jack Spicer first editions. Did I mention Abe Books is a great tool for finding rare books? (psst, Abe, call me later, okay?).

Poetry anthologies make great gifts, because there are so many of them out there tailored to different theme and interests, you can find that perfect collection for that perfect someone. Below the fold are a few of my recommendations. Happy F*$#ing Holidays!!! Continue Reading »

by lizard

Kids are resources to be mined for their role in directing capital, and tweens are an especially lucrative demographic to target. My kids are much younger than that, but my oldest (3 yrs) is already iPhone savvy (I’ve seen him use his finger on the computer screen like it should respond to his touch). Though weary of the cultural deluge my kids will be inundated with, realistically what kind of barriers can I build to keep them from swimming into the deep end?

That’s a sort of terrible way to lead in to this week’s LWPS, but it comes from ruminating over parts of the conversation from my previous post about The Lorax, low-level eco-terrorists (who won) and the girl who silenced the world (for 6 minutes).

Specifically from that conversation, I’ve been thinking about the question I asked Dave in the comment thread, and his answer, which seems worth repeating here:

Liz: at what point does a young person become a thinking, responsible and contributing member of society?

Dave: When I hear something that has actual insight. Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

This is rich: GMAC mortgage lending exited the mortgage market in Massachusetts today.

GMAC did this is in reaction to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley filing suit against 5 banks in the state for “deceptive and unlawful conduct” in foreclosures.

This is the first significant lawsuit to come about for the banks’ robo-signing of foreclosure documents. Currently New York and the federal government are investigating Bank of America for its foreclosures on active duty military.

Foreclosing on soldiers homes while they’re overseas.

The stories go on. They’ve foreclosed on homes that they couldn’t produce the finance paperwork.

Yet we taxpayers have bailed these crooks out and the federal treasury is lending them cash at .25%.

So when a political entity like the State of Massachusetts decides to enforce the law and sue them for their unlawful practices, GMAC just shuts down shop.

Intentionally inflicting economic pain on Massachusetts.

Banking reform did nothing to reign in our banking system. They’re still “too big to fail”. Bank bailouts were not eliminated.

Banks have been making money on money – a shell game economists have been warning against for darn near a decade.

Used to be they made their money on well thought out investments such as real estate and business. Now they make their money by charging what used to be back alley loan shark rates (double-digit credit card rates). They charge ATM and debit card fees to their depositor while doubling up on those charges by strapping businesses with fees to accept these cards.

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