Archive for February, 2012

by jhwygirl

University of Montana President Engstrom attended a forum this afternoon on the recent assaults at the university and continued to defend his actions, stating that the university “did everything right.”

You can read a re-hashing (along with links) of his malfeasance here.

This guy has had a couple of nights to sleep on it, and yet he’s still out there defending his actions, which led to the assailant’s escape back to his home country.

Unreal. Has he talked to the victim’s parents? What do they have to say about Engstrom’s self-perceived success?

Extremely annoying to me is that he’s continuing to whine about the media – like he did on Friday – regarding their 7-day lag time to notify the students of the assault. And to be clear here, there are many legitimate criticisms regarding whether they went far enough notifying students.

In tonight’s Montana Kaimin article, Engstrom more specifically defends this position by stating that the first assault wasn’t reported as a sexual assault (though the victim has stated to the paper that “the man grabbed her and forced her to kiss him after she was made to drink something which made her sick and caused her to have trouble moving.”) That he didn’t find out about the second assault until the 17th – that one being reported as rape.

Now, let’s state a few seemingly obvious things:
Assault is assault. Apparently Engstrom didn’t find anything too distressing about a woman reporting that someone held her against her will and poured alcohol down her throat, after which she threw up.

Second: Rohypnol anyone? Does that first “assault” not reek of rohypnol? Please.

Third: UMontana had the assailants name from date of the incident, albeit about 12 hours later, on February 10th. They had the assailants name.

Forth: Again, assault is assault. This is where, I think, Engstrom is trying to split hairs, justifying his 7-day delay in doing anything at all (except facilitate the rapist’s escape.) It doesn’t fly for me…

Which is where I come back to the headline: Engstrom? If the “media” has it wrong – if the Missoulian has it wrong, if the Kaimin has it wrong – call for a retraction. Because your lame excuses aren’t working.

Not only that – he’s gotten caught in his web of lies with his timeline during today’s press conference, someone having pointed out to him that President’s day was on the 20th, not the 13th (which is part of his excuse – that 3-day weekend – to the delay in getting news out of the assaults.)

His reply? That he’s going to have to “reexamine the timeline.”

Boy – you’d think he’d of had his story straight by now.

Wednesday brings another press conference, this one jointly held, at Missoula City Hall, with President Engstrom, ASUM President Gursky and Missoula Mayor John Engen. It begins at 11 a.m. Wednesday at City Hall and will speak to issues regarding campus and city responsibilities in sexual assault cases.


Since all Muslims are potential threats to America, the NYPD has been doing their patriotic duty to find out where these people eat their strange food, and have been closely monitoring the terrorist breeding grounds known as “mosques,” where these people bow to Mecca like 14 times a day.

Interestingly, some of the money to fund this unconventional use of the NYPD came from High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area funds. I know what you’re thinking: Obama is helping police spy on his own people! Crazy, right?

While I’m very glad the NYPD is doing this (and kicking Jersey in the shins just for fun), I think the FBI has been doing a fantastic job busting the terrorist plots they help concoct.

Keep it up, boys. And as you trap those non-threatening lone wolves, and up here in Montana, we’ll keep doing our darnedest to kill some real wolves, even if we gotta put a bounty on their predatory asses.

What was I saying? The thought of dead wolves just got me really excited. Oh yeah, terrorists.

The real threat of course is the big nesting ground known as Iran. As Obama invites the destruction of America with his weakness (the Bin Laden hit was just a PR stunt), Israel is gonna do what it has to do. They can’t wait around for Obama to give another speech, and I’m sure he’ll be doing his craven best before AIPAC on March 4th.

Nope, speeches won’t do it. It looks like the real warrior nation, Israel, a country that always fights honorably, must once again wage war to protect what God has promised them (unlike Obama, God keeps His promises), and they have finally told Obama—and I’m paraphrasing here—“WE AIN’T GONNA TELL YOU SHIT BEFORE WE START BLOWIN’ MECCA STRAIGHT TO HELL“.

Then, when gas gets BIG TIME expensive, Obama will lose the election, and Rick Santorum will reclaim America.

by lizard

I didn’t get to writing this weekend’s poetry series in time, so here’s me catching up. I should also note that, because of a change in my work schedule, this weekly series will more than likely be posting Sunday(ish).

Last Thursday I attended a reading/fundraiser for UM’s literary journal, Cutbank. If I had known about this event earlier, I would have certainly done my part to promote it.

The evening featured Lois Welch reading a piece about her husband, James Welch, and how he went from creative writing student taking classes from poet Richard Hugo, to being featured on the cover of the New York Times book review, and Michael Earl Craig, who read poems from his book Thin Kimono, a weird chapbook, and some brand new poems. It was a great evening.

One of the special treats the audience of the fundraiser got to see (at the Tophat) was a sneak preview of a trailer to Winter in the Blood, a novel by James Welch getting the big screen treatment (and shot mostly on the Hi-Line).

Anyway, Michael Earl Craig is ridiculous in a way the defies explanation. Here is a short poem from his collection, Yes, Master (Fence Books, 2006). Enjoy! Continue Reading »

by lizard

Imagine over 2,000 people gathered in a sports stadium to watch some economists give a few lectures. That is what economist Michael Hudson recently experienced in Rimini, Italy, where he was invited, along with several of his colleagues from the University of Missouri in Kansas City, to discuss Modern Monetary Theory.

From the first link:

The basic thrust of our argument is that just as commercial banks create credit electronically on their computer keyboards (creating a bank account credit for borrowers in exchange for their signing an IOU at interest), governments can create money. There is no need to borrow from banks, as computer keyboards provide nearly free credit creation to finance spending.

The difference, of course, is that governments spend money (at least in principle) to promote long-term growth and employment, to invest in public infrastructure, research and development, provide health care and other basic economic functions. Banks have a more short-term time frame. They lend credit against collateral in place. Some 80% of bank loans are mortgages against real estate. Other loans are made to finance leveraged buyouts and corporate takeovers. But most new fixed capital investment by corporations is financed out of retained earnings.

Unfortunately, the flow of earnings is now being diverted increasingly to the financial sector – not only to pay interest and penalties to banks, but for stock buybacks intended to support stock prices and hence the value of stock options that managers of today’s financialized companies give themselves. As for the stock market – which textbook diagrams still depict as raising money for new capital investment – it has been turned into a vehicle to buy out companies on credit (e.g., with high interest junk bonds) and replace equity with debt. Inasmuch as interest payments are tax-deductible, as if they were a necessary cost of doing business, corporate income-tax payments are lowered. And what the tax collector relinquishes is available to be paid out to the bankers and bondholders who get rich by loading the economy down with debt.

Welcome to the post-industrial economy, financialized style. Industrial capitalism has passed into a series of stages of finance capitalism, from the Bubble Economy to the Negative Equity stage, foreclosure time, debt deflation, austerity – and what looks like debt peonage in Europe, above all for the PIIGS: Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain.

The impressive turnout to hear Professor Hudson and the other economists indicates an increasing desperation among Europeans to seek out alternatives to the neoliberal austerity measures that are being put forward as the ONLY solution to the economic crisis Europe is facing. Greece is the starkest example of how forced austerity is aimed to protect the financial sector, and is not intended to be a solution for the people, people who are being told they must suffer even more austerity for a global financial crisis they had no active role in perpetrating.

So what does Michael Hudson think should happen?

So what then is the key? It is to have a central bank that does what central banks were founded to do: monetize government budget deficits so as to spend money into the economy, in a way best intended to promote economic growth and full employment.

This was the MMT message that the five of us were invited to explain to the audience in Rimini. Some attendees came up and explained that they had come all the way from Spain, others from France and cities across Italy. And although we did many press, radio and TV interviews, we were told that the major media were directed to ignore us as not politically correct.

Such is the censorial spirit of neoliberal monetary austerity. Its motto is TINA: There Is No Alternative, and it wants to keep matters this way. As long as it can suppress discussion of how many better alternatives there are, the hope is that the public will remain acquiescent as their living standards shrink and wealth is sucked up to the top of the economic pyramid to the 1%.

But there won’t be any substantial political will to do anything that doesn’t prioritize the global financial elite over the masses, because, for them, business is doing just fine. With the DOW hitting the magical 13,000 mark for the first time since 2008, and corporate profits strong, why do anything differently?

To counter the comfort those at the top of the pyramid seem to be feeling, there’s a piece in Mother Jones, by Mac McClelland, that is a MUST read, titled I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave. It’s a dismal first-hand account of the awful working conditions in the bowels of a rapidly expanding warehouse industry that major online retailers like Amazon exploit for massive profit. Part of how this is being accomplished is through third party logistic companies, called 3PLs for short. Here is snip from the article:

The computers screening us for suitability to pack boxes or paste labels belong to a temporary-staffing agency. The stuff we order from big online retailers lives in large warehouses, owned and operated either by the retailers themselves or by third-party logistics contractors, a.k.a. 3PLs. These companies often fulfill orders for more than one retailer out of a single warehouse. America’s largest 3PL, Exel, has 86 million square feet of warehouse in North America; it’s a subsidiary of Deutsche Post DHL, which is cute because Deutsche Post is the German post office, which was privatized in the 1990s and bought DHL in 2002, becoming one of the world’s biggest corporate employers. The $31 billion “value-added warehousing and distribution” sector of 3PLs is just a fraction of what large 3PLs’ parent companies pull in. UPS’s logistics division, for example, pulls in more than a half a billion, but it feeds billions of dollars of business to UPS Inc.

The gains made by organized labor during the last century are increasingly eroding during this economic crisis, and the result is wealth being vacuumed up at an alarming rate.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

But this is the way it’s going to be, here and abroad, until something happens to reverse it. I don’t know what set of circumstances need to happen to make those at the top realize their own personal well-being will be compromised if a more equitable distribution of resources isn’t achieved, but I doubt it will be non-violent.

People who are working right now probably feel pretty lucky just to have a job, despite low wages and exploitive working conditions, and if they get too uppity and complain, it’s very easy to remind them how many people are waiting behind them, eager to be exploited by a 3PL that offers no benefits or job security whatsoever. In our hollowed out domestic economy, these massive warehouses are sometimes the only game in town for townships struggling to survive in America’s post-manufacturing landscape.

For those of you who shop online, I would urge you to read the whole article. It’s important to understand that companies like Amazon have built their lucrative business model on the exploitive business practices (and plausible deniability) of 3PLs.

And for anyone living in this world, it is going to be very important to understand that the continued imposition of neoliberal fiscal policies is absolutely not sustainable, and will ultimately lead to more global strife, wars, and dislocation as people shift from the idea of earning a living, to simply surviving.

by jhwygirl

…because covering the tracks of rapists and enabling those that do the same isn’t something you “get a pass” on.

…because who investigates the investigators when they allow criminals to go free? And publicly defends their actions?

The ongoing, uninvestigated, unprosecuted assaults – including sexual assault and rape – at the University of Montana are enraging. First let’s review some of the recent facts:

1. The University of Montana Public Safety Office was made aware of a Feb. 10th assault on Feb. 10th. (read Montana Kaimen, Feb. 24) It appears that Public Safety was given the assailant’s name.

2. On the Tuesday 14th, UM’s Dean of Students Charles Couture called the victim, and set up a meeting for that Friday, Feb. 17. (No immediacy there, huh?)

3. Sometime after the 14th, the victim becomes aware of another similar assault, contacts that student (Student One).

4. Both students go to the Feb. 17th meeting with Couture – both students meeting each other at the meeting. It is clear that Couture was aware of the identify of the assailant and that he was here under a visa.

5. At 4:51 p.m., Friday Feb. 17th an email is sent to UMontana students warning of the two assaults: “It can be assumed that conditions continue to exist that may pose a threat to members and guests of the community.” (It can be assumed? Really? THEY HAD THE NAME OF THE ASSAILANT!)

6. At 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21, the Missoulian prints this story with the headline “Man suspected of sexually assaulting UM students known, but police not pursuing.” Missoula City Police could not, at this time, do anything as they did not yet have a complaint filed with them.

6. Sometime that same day, both women went to the Missoula City Police Department. Each spoke and gave a statement to a different detective and both picked the assailant’s picture out of a lineup.

7. Missoula City Police begin an investigation the next day, the women having contacted the police late on Tuesday.

8. That article hints at what, apparently, is justice for rape under the Student Code of Conduct: “Dean of Students Charles Couture also is investigating the reports. UM student code of conduct guidelines allow the university to expel students found to have committed the most egregious violations, such as sexual assault.” “Allows” being the key word.

9. Missoula finds out on Friday that the Saudi assailant has left the country.

Wow. Under a microscope for how they address sexual assault and this is what they do? There’s more….

President Engstrom held a Friday afternoon press conference (apparently even Foley won’t touch this one, which is too bad – he has plenty of experience in these types of issues) defending his interference with the Missoula City Police investigation. From the Missoulian:

The campus is safer because of the man’s departure, Engstrom said at a news conference that he called to clarify the sequence of events involved in the incidents. He called the university’s actions “timely” and “appropriate.” Any impression “that we sat around for a week before we did anything” is untrue, he said.

“We can let people know we have dealt with these (alleged assaults) and that particular perpetrator is gone,” Engstrom said.

KPAX has this video of Engstrom’s press conference, where Engstrom (doesn’t) explain why they didn’t report the first assault (Student Two) and that they didn’t find out about the second assault until Friday the 17th., and since they didn’t know there were two until Friday, no one should be complaining.

What else do we find out in the Missoulian article? That the assailant had been contacted repeatedly by UM Dean of Students Charles Couture before fleeing the country.

The University had the name of the assailant. They knew he was a Saudi national and that he had a visa. From the get-go. They informed the guy – who conveniently had an attorney present – that he was being accused of sexual assault.

I’d really love to know when they met with the solidly-identified assailant/rapist. Because if they did it after Tuesday when both of those victims had gone to the police, then the University interfered with a felony investigation, and they should be prosecuted accordingly.

That Student Code of Conduct is pretty convenient for rapists and other persons prone to violent crimes – the University will give you a head’s up and not notify authorities when you are a foreigner so that you can escape with no accountability for your crimes.

I feel for the victims. I can’t fathom how they feel.

City of Missoula? Don’t you feel safe?

Parents, grandparents? How you feeling about your female family members attending the University of Montana?

Which brings me to our Board of Regents, which oversees the state university system, and its newly-hired Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian. Christian told the Missoulian that he is pleased with President Engstrom’s handling of this most recent situation:

“I’ve been extremely pleased with how President Engstrom and his staff are handling the situation and I’m confident they’re doing a good job managing these things.”

The paid chief administrator, Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian says this on Friday? Knowing all of this?

Commissioner Clayton, btw, is owner of Stewart Title Company here in Missoula.

We are talking RAPE here Montana. RAPE. Daughters, sisters… If that makes you uncomfortable, I strongly suggest you get over it. People do not get a pass on rape. Rapists don’t get a pass on committing it, and the University of Montana shouldn’t get a pass when they protect the criminals who commit RAPE.

If you are a student at the University of Montana, it is clear you can not call or contact the University Public Safety (or the Dean or the President or a Vice President) if you are a victim. It is also clear that if you witness a crime, you can not call or contact the University Public Safety (or the Dean or the President or a Vice President) either.

9-1-1 calls also get routed to the Public Safety.

Call 523-6300. Program that number into your phone. If you witness anything, if you are the victim of anything, contact the City of Missoula Police. Any delay only ensures that President Engstrom and his crew will send the criminals on their merry way.

by jhwygirl

I thought I had calmed down enough this morning to write about President Engstrom and the University of Montana’s utter malfeasance over the most recent assault and rape incidents, but I had to go read the paper this morning.

So until I can gather those thoughts cohesively, I do want to take the time to offer a public Thank You to the Missoulian’s crime and courts reporter Gwen Florio. An accompanying Thank You goes out to the editorial team that stood by Florio’s reporting, making what was probably a pretty hard decision to go forth and publish the first story that exposed the massive failure of the University of Montana in its treatment of rape and sexual assault.

Florio and the Missoulian took quite a bit of criticism from loyal Griz fans and University alumni when that first story went out – and some of it occurred here, also, in the comments on this blog’s pages.

Florio and her editors did this community, the students of the University and the taxpayers of Montana a huge service if you ask me, and I hope that Gwen and the Missoulian receive their due professional recognition for taking a story that many would have walked away from due to any number of perceived issues and putting it front page.

Especially when it involved so many sacred cows (like Griz football and the University of Montana – Missoula’s during-football-season $4 million-a-weekend cash cow.

Her excellent reporting continues, and I really hope that this story reaches the national attention it deserves. At this point now, it’s clear the University of Montana is protecting itself and itself only. There is no concern there for the victims of assault. None.

Engstrom’s acts are criminal – let’s be clear, his hands are all over this recent malfeasance which occurred while the University of Montana was under a microscope with regards to how it handles sexual assault. His hastily called late Friday afternoon press conference was only done to defend his and the University’s actions, with him explaining how he’d solved the issue (because the criminal has left the campus and the state.)


In addition to seeking extradition of the Saudi student who was identified by two victims as committing at least two assaults, including one criminal (and probably two acts of kidnapping or whatever it is called when you take someone and force alcohol and possibly drugs on them for the purposes of controlling and assaulting them,) Engstrom should be canned for facilitating this students escape back to his home country.

Gwen Florio and the news editors at the Missoulian? This reader and Montana taxpayer thanks you.

Who Can Can Engstrom?

by lizard

A PR shit-storm will now descend on UM President Royce Engstrom. I’m sure some are already thinking Wow, this asshole was just making demands that the Forrester’s ball change OR ELSE, and now it looks like he tipped off an alleged rapist so the kid could flee the country.

Read the whole article. It’s dumbfounding. Obviously pay raises for top positions, like president of a University, doesn’t guarantee a quality product.

Engstrom should go. Would that be the Board of Regents job?

What’s going to make this shit-storm particularly brutal for those involved is the fact I’m sure they had no other choice. The punk-ass who allegedly committed two sexual assaults is even more untouchable than a football player; he’s a Saudi Arabian probably already soaking in the sun.

Which makes us, the Missoula community, safer, says Engstrom:

The campus is safer because of the man’s departure, Engstrom said at a news conference that he called to clarify the sequence of events involved in the incidents. He called the university’s actions “timely” and “appropriate.” Any impression “that we sat around for a week before we did anything” is untrue, he said.

Engstrom’s right, of course. They weren’t just sitting around. No, Gwen’s article makes it kind of sound like there was some aiding and abetting going on, but I ain’t a law guy, so what the hell do I know?

I know I was at a house party once, in the South Hills, and at this party I met a few Saudi exchange students. I got into an argument with one of ’em on the back deck, a real arrogant prick. I found myself in the somewhat unique position of defending America, because this Saudi’s sense of entitlement to brazenly sample the freedoms he then turned around and arrogantly sneered at demanded a response, so I asked him if he would be able to blow coke (they were) and drunkenly grope American chicks (they did) back in his lovely country, or if Daddy just sent him to the states to get it out of his system before he got his cloaked servant. It came close to blows.

That was four, maybe five years ago. And now that UM’s rape-tolerant culture is exploding into the headlines—AGAIN—ugly little secrets are surfacing, like an administration exposed as being MORE considerate and responsive to an alleged rapist from (ahem) Saudi Arabia than they were to the two possibly victimized women. I hope everyone responsible for reporting these alleged crimes enjoyed that LOOOONNNGG weekend. Can’t get around to reporting possible sexual assaults until the following business week, right?


by Pete Talbot

Can sustainability reduce crime?

The Bakken oil boom is drawing some less-than-desirable elements to Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota.  Of course, crime in boom towns is nothing new: think Henry Plummer, the vigilantes and Alder Gulch.

And apparently we haven’t evolved much from gold camps of the 1800s — environmentally or culturally.  One can still see the mountains of tailings from the dredges that plied Alder Creek over a hundred years ago.  Or visit the Virginia City Museum where Clubfoot George’s clubfoot, looking a bit like a standing rib roast, is on display (apparently he was dug up after being hanged by the vigilantes and his foot was removed for posterity).

And what have we learned, environmentally, since those days? Witness the Berkeley Pit, Colstrip, ASARCO, Basin, the Barker-Hughesville mining district … (and who really knows what all those chemicals pumped deep into the ground in the name of fracking will do to the water tables in the Bakken Play).

But it’s the cultural degradation that’s in the news these days: crime, infrastructure issues, housing shortages, Walmart parking lots filled to capacity with RVs, overcrowded schools and man camps.  And, according to Dennis Portra, the mayor of the metropolis of Bainville, Mont., on the North Dakota border, “Korean prostitutes parking their RV in Bainville for a summer.”

Now I’m pretty sure there’s no way you can sustainably drill for oil or gas but there has to be a more sensible approach.  A permit system that slows development comes to mind, more regulation of where, when and how.  A greater pay-to-play system so that the impacts on schools and neighborhoods and highways and, well, everything is at least somewhat mitigated.  Make sure that there is land, sacred land, that just isn’t touched.  And slow the development way down so that locals get first crack at the jobs to reduce the influx of alleged murderers like these two or this guy.

I realize that we aren’t going to go cold turkey on our oil addiction but really, this cyclical boom and bust is absurd.  How’s this helping to stabilize oil prices or getting us to look at alternatives to an ever dwindling supply of oil? What’s the Williston Basin going to look like when the boom plays out in 20 years?  This is one bad economic model.

And now they’re sinking test wells further west: Choteau, Lewistown, on the lands of the Blackfeet Nation:

“This entire region of the Rockies holds untapped potential that can contribute much needed supplies to help meet U.S. demand,” says Marathon spokesman Paul Weeditz.  The Rockies, apparently, were put here for oil, gas and mineral extraction to meet our never-ending needs.

We really need to get a handle on this, for the sake of a sustainable energy future, for our environment and for our way of life.  It could even put a dent in our homicide rate.

by jhwygirl

Since seeing this article in the Missoulian I’ve been a little perplexed.

President Engstrom is threatening – quite clearly now – to put an end to some annual forester’s ball that’s been around since I-don’t-know-how-long because it (apparently) gets too rowdy.

Drunken students. The shock.

The thing is so rowdy that I’ve never even known when the darn thing’s been held – and apparently the annual soiree just occurred a few weeks ago.

But answer me this: The Griz games are one big drunken booze carnival before hand, only recently cut back to 5 hours of tailgating on campus property, right? I mean, we’re not talking clandestine alcoholic beverages sipped out of paper cups – we’re talking barrels of beer and all that you’d expect of Montana and football and a bunch of crazed Montana football fans from across the state.

But Engstrom’s got his britches in a skritches over a few dozens forestry students having an annual party to raise some money for scholarships?

When we’ve got university sanctioned public drinking on public property?

Football OK, forestry scholarship fundraising once a year, bad?

Yeah – UM has priorities.


by jhwygirl

I’m more disgusted than shocked – it’s no surprise, really, that a court that would side with the sale of our elections to the highest willing buyer determined yesterday that our public waterways can be owned by private corporations, without even payment to use the land.

I won’t pretend to have studiously read the court’s opinon, issued yesterday. I have read through it quickly though, and prior I had read both PPL and the state’s briefs, along with many of the other documents.

My favorite read of the PPL v Montana case was one that I think anyone would enjoy, regardless of their opinion on the case or the court’s recent ruling. Historian Stephanie Ambrose-Tubbs’ amicus brief submitted in support of the state’s position is rich with descriptive language that brings to life the color and visual of early Montana – from Lewis & Clark’s first travels on the Missouri to the steamboat travel days, outfitting and present day fishing and floating.

My favorite television reporter Marnee Banks (Helena’s CBS news) did this reporting on the hearing just before the case was heard by SCOTUS in December.

In the end, the court did not agree with the state that a the PPL dam – one in particular which sits on a series of waterfalls on the Missouri River up near Great Falls (there are other PPL dams involved also) – was on a navigable river.

Montana’s claim to rivers goes back to the law of the Magna Carta – under the principle that the waterways are a primary source of commerce, so important to the state that it is within their interest to control. Here in Montana, rivers have been used to move logs. Here in Missoula people might be interested to know that Ninemile Creek, Lolo Creek and the Rattlesnake were all used to “float” logs. That’s in addition to what most would expect – the Clark’s Fork, the Blackfoot and the Clearwater.

“Lolo?” I said when I was first told that by an old logger smokejumper in problembear’s favorite bar over there in Bonner. Apparently the old guys would cut those logs and stack them through the winter in low lands that would then be flooded by damming the creek to then “float” them down to the mills. Today you can still see the old logs sprouting up like mushrooms on the Blackfoot, now that the dam is gone at Milltown.

Some old old maps of Missoula show a log mill a the bottom of the Rattlesnake, near its confluence with the Clark’s Fork.

In some drainages, you can still see the remains of the log structures used to hold the slats that dammed the creeks.

The courts, though, apparently didn’t find logging a compelling enough of a commerce interest for the state to protect.

Meh. Whatever. Sometime soon when the set the date, I’m heading to DC to occupy the steps of SCOTUS. They still haven’t denied the request to hear American Tradition Partnership v Montana, which challenges Montana’s ban on corporate money in elections – and two court justices are hinting that they want to hear the case – so when they do, I plan to be in DC to at least be there for what I’m sure will be well-directed chaos.

What does SCOTUS’ recent ruling mean for our waterways? Apparently if you can’t float a boat, it’s up for sale to the highest bidder.

That, my friends, is sad – no matter how you slice it.

by lizard

It should be noted that the big banks have gotten away with systemic fraud.

9 million homes have been lost to foreclosure since 2007, and there will be another 9 million before we’re done. Homeowners have lost $8 trillion in home equity (in the last 4 years) and 11 million people are currently underwater on their mortgages. All of this is unprecedented. All of this is the result of fraud.

Ok, now back to snarky commentary about the GOP (scary) clown show.

by lizard

When it comes to state politics in Montana, I’m probably the least informed contributor at 4&20. Twelve years living in this weird bubble called Missoula, with only three years actually paying attention to local politics, doesn’t gain me much unique insight.

BUT, as an outsider, without any investment of time or money in any active campaigns, I can speak as a somewhat average consumer of our state democracy, examining a bit more objectively the packages being sold.

Like Pam Bucy. Apparently the bow on her gift-wrapping is her status as Helena Insider. I infer this from the duplicitous Cowgirl(s) site (no link, you know where to find “her”) and the flak-contagion Pogie received for this post at Intelligent Discontent.

Based on that, and reading that Pam’s been keen on killing Medicinal Marijuana, my vote is more than likely going for Jesse Laslovich.

Denny’s seat I’m having a little more trouble with. Dave Strohmaier’s “social host ordinance” was a waste of time, IMO, and it doesn’t seem like he’s got wider traction outside the bubble, so I’m leaning toward Franke Wilmer, but with reservations.

Franke is touted as informed when it comes to foreign policy. Part of her pedigree in the bio on her website regarding her scholarly work reads:

Franke Wilmer came to Bozeman in 1991 to accept a position on the faculty of Montana State University. Her research has focused on war, ethnic conflict, and indigenous peoples’ self determination. Franke has written three books, numerous articles and been an invited guest lecturer in the US and abroad. She conducted field research in former Yugoslavia during the war and over five years following the Dayton Peace Accords.

After reading the bio, I found the ISSUES button and read the two paragraphs dedicated to foreign policy:

In an age where terrorist attacks pose the greatest threat to national security, the most effective tools are intelligence with a global reach and well-trained and well-equipped U.S. military Special Forces, not 80,000 troops on the ground in two countries. The greatest threat we face today comes from unconventional enemies that will not be defeated by conventional military tactics.

I have visited more than 50 countries to do research or as an invited speaker and am a professor of international relations. I have spent significant time in an active war zone. I know the great personal costs of war to civilians and military personnel. When we are asked to send our young men and women as well as our tax dollars overseas for a military intervention, we need someone in Congress who will ask the right questions and show restraint in supporting those requests.

I think there’s some decent messaging here, but the lead in framing of Wilmer’s stance features the kind of red meat I reflexively gag on. Getting beyond the arguable claim that terrorist attacks pose the GREATEST threat to national security, the following endorsement of the still-evolving Obama doctrine ( light footprint NATO-style regime change and JSOC assassinations) is going to make it difficult for Franke Wilmer to be the kind of congressperson she claims to want to be, someone who will ask the right questions.

One of many “right questions” to be asking: how’s Libya doing? Not so good.

“While the Canadian government celebrated Gadhafi’s overthrow, the countries in the region were feeling the effects.

The Libyan strongman not only had provided aid for many African nations, but employment for their citizens. His demise set into motion a mass exodus of workers back to their original countries.

That, in turn, created a domino effect as those nations struggled to deal with hundreds of thousands of traumatized and impoverished people, according to a recently released UN report for the Security Council.

Crime and drug and human smuggling have spiked in the region and the return of more than one million people to their homelands has worsened an “already challenging, humanitarian, development and security situation,” the report noted.

But Gadhafi’s overthrow did breathe new life into one organization — al-Qaida.

As Gadhafi’s forces retreated from NATO’s relentless air attacks, theyabandoned bases and ammunition depots holding thousands of weapons, including surface-to-air missiles. In the chaos that engulfed Libya, the sites were quickly pilfered, either by rebels or black marketeers.

African nations were the first to sound the warning. In late March, just weeks into the conflict, Chad’s president, Idriss Deby Itno, told journalists that al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM as it is known, had obtained missiles and small arms from abandoned Libyan stockpiles. “This is very serious,” he said. “AQIM is becoming a genuine army, the best equipped in the region.”

Canada was slow to recognize the problem. In April, Canadian Forces spokesman Brig.-Gen. Richard Blanchette said the military didn’t have any information about missing armaments or missiles.

But a month later, Algerian intelligence also was warning that looted Libyan weapons were in the hands of AQIM.

“The region has turned into a powder keg,” Mohamed Bazoum, Niger’s foreign minister, later would tell delegates to an anti-terrorism conference. “Things have changed and degraded since the Libya crisis and the region is on a war path. With stolen weapons circulating, al-Qaida’s total impact is growing.”

There are serious consequences for how the US&Co bumble-fuck around in the Mid-East and Africa. I hope candidate Franke Wilmer is willing to consider the potential blowback of Obama’s preference to use low-casualty humanitarian/terrorist-killing bombing of a half dozen countries to get at those “unconventional enemies”.

Man Up!

by lizard

Here’s a quick hit for your Sunday enjoyment. The following performance is from Guante, a two-time national poetry slam champ who blasts, in ten responses, the phrase MAN UP! Clicking his name will take you to his site, where you can see more, including a free music sampler.

by jhwygirl

But shhhh…no one’s supposed to know. He has a plan.

Out on the far right of the state (can’t get any further west Senate District 7) Greg Hinkle – a favorite around these parts for years – has decided that he’s not going to run for a second term.

Even though Hinkle won by about 1000 votes over Democrat Paul Clark in 2008 (5555 to 4581), incumbents have an advantage and Hinkle knows that. So no one’s supposed to know that Greg doesn’t plan to file.

Why? The Tea Party (of which Hinkle is part of) has two good reasons for this: One is that Mark French is planning a run for that seat, and Hinkle wants to see him run unopposed.

French, if you recall, made a run for the chair of the Montana GOP last year after losing his congressional run (25K to Denny’s 96K) in the GOP primary in 2010. After that miserable loss, he then a run for the GOP chairmanship in 2011.

He failed there, too, to Missoula’s most refined and civilized Will Deschamps.

The second reason no one’s supposed to know that Hinkle isn’t going to file for SD7? Back in 2010, the Sanders County GOP had a bit of a split in their ranks, things having gone haywire after the Tea Party tried to take over. The details are foggy to me right now (why oh why didn’t I write about it then???) but the county group split, then later regrouped with the Tea Party triumphant.

In between, Judy Stang, a Republican and former county commissioner in Mineral County then began a write-in campaign for SD7, but eventually withdrew due to Montana GOP harassment, throwing her support to Democrat Paul Clark.

Yeah – things got a little crazy. There are still a lot of pissed of Republicans up there, and the incidents of 2010 have yet to dissolve from the memory for many.

Republicans, though – older ones, especially – still abide by that ‘speak no evil’ rule – which is where Hinkle’s incumbency shines. He knows no one is going to challenge him and that means something.

And so will his endorsement.

So when Hinkle doesn’t file, but Mark French does just a few days before the filing deadline, Hinkle is planning on endorsing Mark French.

Delightful plan, huh?

Incidentally – Hinkle made nationwide news last year with his spears-for-hunting bill, which died in standing committee.

It might sound crazy to some – and he tried to legitimize it as taking up a cause of the poor persecuted spear hunters of Montana thing – but it is symbolic of the Tea Party: Wanting to take Montana back to the day of the Cro-magnon man.

Have I dastardly foiled the Hinkle/French/Tea Party plans for Senate District 7? Who knows. But will Republicans and Democrats and Fake Republicans and Fake Democrats be considering a run for that seat now?

If they read this, they just may. Especially the ones that are calling themselves the “real Republicans” after this last eminent domain-enabling, more-government-intrusion legislative session.

by lizard

Like many Americans, I’ve been absolutely disgusted watching how “conservative” opportunism (read: desperation) has revived the culture war to try and drown out the somewhat encouraging economic trend lines and subsequent bump in Obama’s poll numbers.

But, like Wisconsin union bashing, Republicans have once again overreached, figuratively shooting themselves in the foot by apparently forgetting this important little fact: women vote. Political idiocy? to quote the Queen of political opportunism: youbetchya!

This weekend’s poetry series features a poem from Minnie Bruce Pratt. The poem is from a collection of poetry, titled Crimes Against Nature (Firebrand Books, 1990), and was the Lamont Poetry selection for the previous year (Note: the form of the poem is slightly altered from the original). Enjoy! Continue Reading »

by lizard

This post is a tribute to one of my favorite visual artists, Jess. I am drawn especially to his collage art, which you can see examples of here. I recommend looking at his bio—Jess went from working on Plutonium for the Manhattan Project to focusing on art and settling down to live a long, happy life with one of my favorite poets, Robert Duncan.

Click for more images from my collage tribute Continue Reading »

What We Sow, We Harvest

by lizard

The title of the post comes from statements made by Hillary Clinton, referencing the short-sighted foreign policy of the US arming the Mujahideen against Russia in Afghanistan. It’s a refreshingly candid statement.

But that was over two years ago, plenty of time to conveniently forget how an expedient ends-justify-the-means approach to fighting the Evil Empire (Russia) blew back in our collective faces (9/11).

Is it impossible for this country to learn from it’s blunders abroad?

Apparently so. And as proof, check this out: Obama’s administration is trying to achieve the same goal as Al Qaeda. Let me say that again. Obama and the TERRORISTS WHO ATTACKED AMERICA want the same thing: the destruction of the Syrian Regime.

This point became crystal clear when that new head terrorist guy who took the place of America’s frenemy, Bin Laden, recently called for jihad in Syria.

Gee, how awkward. Too bad Obama has already demanded Assad step down, and declared that America marches in lockstep with Israel. So no diplomatic poker playing here. Instead, US foreign policy seeks to again exploit the R2P for another imposed regime change.

Why? Could the answer be as simple and stupidly short-sighted as Iran?

Because if it wasn’t for aligning with Iran, it seems like Bashar al Assad is totally the kind of secular dictator that America, under different circumstances, could tolerate. To prove I’m not totally nuts in making that assertion, I offer this link showing how Vogue magazine once fawned over his wife, Asma al Assad, then later tried to scrub itself clean.

Getting back to that lockstep with Israel thing, it makes sense the Obama administration has the same goal as the evil terrorists who attacked us, because Israel is all too eager to work with terrorists as well:

Israel is working with an Iranian terror group to kill Iran’s nuclear scientists, U.S. officials have told NBC News. They say Israel is financing, training, and arming Iranian dissidents known as the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, a group designated as terrorists by the U.S. since the 1970s, when members allegedly killed U.S. service members. They later broke with the Iranian mullahs. Five nuclear scientists have been killed since 2007, often by a motorcycle rider attaching a magnetic bomb to the scientist’s car. U.S. officials say the Obama administration is aware of the assassinations.

Diana Johnstone’s featured piece at Counterpunch is very much worth reading. Here is a snip:

And who are these rebels? We simply do not know. Someone who may know better than we do is Osama bin Laden’s successor as head of al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is seen on a video urging Muslims in Turkey and neighboring Arab states to back the Syrian rebels.

With uncontrolled armed groups fighting for control, the insistent Western demand that “Assad must step down” is not really even a call for “regime change”. It is a call for regime self-destruction.

As in Libya, the country would de facto be turned over to rival armed groups, with those groups that are being armed covertly by NATO via Turkey and Qatar having an advantage in hardware. However, the likely result would be a multi-sided civil war much more horrific than the chaos in Libya, thanks to the country’s multiple religious differences. But for the West, however chaotic, regime self-destruction would have the immediate advantage of depriving Iran of its potential ally on the eve of an Israeli attack. With both Iraq and Syria neutralized by internal religious conflict, the strangulation of Iran would be that much easier – or so the Western strategists obviously assume.

To approximate what’s happening globally: shit’s getting really fucked up, and there’s an inevitability being actively constructed toward war with Iran.


Domestically, the big banks got the handjob of justice with their foreclosure settlement. Good for them. Help piddle down a few billion in principal for a crash that wiped out trillions.

The domestic opposition, OWS, and its subsidiary occupations, are caught in a myriad of difficulties. The big flare up came from Chris Hedges, stirring it up with his piece titledBlack Block: The Cancer in Occupy.

A great response came from this piece, Self-Critical Reflections from the Santa Rita Jail.

Another great response came from this open letter to Chris Hedges.

And then there’s the latest from Hedges, where he says this:

How do we fight back? We do not have the tools or the wealth of the state. We cannot beat it at its own game. We cannot ferret out infiltrators. The legal system is almost always on the state’s side. If we attempt to replicate the elaborate security apparatus of our oppressors, even on a small scale, we will unleash widespread paranoia and fracture the movement. If we retreat into anonymity, hiding behind masks, then we provide an opening for agents provocateurs who deny their identities while disrupting the movement. If we fight pitched battles in the streets we give authorities an excuse to fire their weapons.

All we have, as Vaclav Havel writes, is our own powerlessness. And that powerlessness is our strength. The survival of the movement depends on embracing this powerlessness. It depends on two of our most important assets—utter and complete transparency and a rigid adherence to nonviolence, including respect for private property. This permits us, as Havel puts it in his 1978 essay “The Power of the Powerless,” to live in truth. And by living in truth we expose a corrupt corporate state that perpetrates lies and lives in deceit.

This conversation happening about how to resist is absolutely critical right now, because we’re not Greece. Not yet.

But Greece is the future if the methods of squeeze are adopted. And it’s not austerity hawks circling above us, but vultures.

by lizard

This weekend’s love poem comes from a collection by Sharon Olds, titled The Wellspring (Knopf, 1995).



In the middle of the night, when we get up
after making love, we look at each other in
complete friendship, we know so fully
what the other has been doing. Bound to each other
like mountaineers coming down from a mountain,
bound with the tie of the delivery-room,
we wander down the hall to the bathroom, I can
hardly walk, I wobble through the granular
shadowless air, I know where you are
with my eyes closed, we are bound to each other
with huge invisible threads, our sexes
muted, exhausted, crushed, the whole
body a sex—surely this
is the most blessed time of my life,
our children asleep in their beds, each fate
like a vein of abiding mineral
not discovered yet. I sit
on the toilet in the night, you are somewhere in the room,
I open the window and snow has fallen in a
steep drift, against the pane, I
look up, into it,
a wall of cold crystals, silent
and glistening, I quietly call to you
and you come and hold my hand and I say
I cannot see beyond it. I cannot see beyond it.

—Sharon Olds

by Pete Talbot

Abortion, birth control, women’s health care and religious freedom have all been in the news lately, often in the same story.

As a man, I’m not even sure I get to comment on this but since knotheaded dudes write letters to the editor all the time decrying a woman’s right to choose and a couple of Montana Catholic Bishops, neither whom are women, have made pronouncements, here goes.

Let’s start with Congressman Rehberg’s response to the Obama administration’s rule that birth control should be provided in insurance plans for Catholic schools and hospitals:

“This order is government intrusion into the private lives of Americans under the guise of health care reform and infringes on the religious liberty of women and men of faith in direct opposition to the religious freedom enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution,” says Rehberg.

So, some non-Catholic woman working in St. Patrick Hospital’s cafeteria will not have access to affordable birth control because of some archaic religious belief.  Talk about infringing on the “religious liberty of women” as “enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution,” right Denny?

To the uber-Catholic women who happen to work at St. Pats and are opposed to birth control: just don’t use it (you can always use the rhythm method.  That works, sometimes).

Closer to home, the Ravalli County Commissioners, by a 3-2 vote, are accepting Title X family planning funding.  This would seem like a no-brainer — around $40K for birth control, annual exams, pregnancy and pap tests, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, nutrition education and counseling, on a sliding scale.

But of course these commissioners have issues that deal with a lack of parental notification for minors.  They’re willing to sacrifice low-cost women’s health programs for their narrow ideology.

Granted, I’d want my kids to talk to me about their sexual concerns.  I’d rather they have access to an STD or pregnancy test, birth control, or sexual education and counseling, if they choose not to confide in me .

Again, I’m always amazed by the less-government intrusion crowd dictating their moral imperatives to the rest of us, via government programs.  The overused but accurate “hypocrite” comes to mind.

All this news comes on the heels of the Susan G. Komen controversy.  If you believe that attacks by the right on women’s health care issues aren’t still in play, often under the misnomer of “religious freedom,” you’d be wrong.

by jhwygirl

If you aren’t reading James Conner’s Flathead Memo you are missing a whole lot of balanced political honest-to-goodness reporting and opinion on Montana politics.

James has been knocking it out this week (indications he has acquiesced to a caffeine addiction?), but most notably he’s pointed out – while Denny Rehberg is under reporting lobbyist cash – so is another candidate. A Democrat.

Diane Smith, a Kalispell resident seeking the Democratic nomination for Montana’s lone House of Representative seat – is also, too, under reporting lobbyist cash dollars.

Smith – ironically enough – is using the same tactic (failing to fill in the occupations on donors) – as our current House of Representative Denny Rehberg.

James point out that these things will happen, and social niceties and just plain old logistics often bring about situations where donations come in where that disclosure information isn’t always collected, “… but all campaigns have a legal and moral obligation to exercise due diligence. Cards should be followed by telephone calls.”

Conner, of course, is correct.

It’s excusable to miss one or two or even a few – but the extraordinary number of “information not provided” is not only a legal and moral obligation shirked, it’s laziness and failure to organize.

If Smith can’t run a primary campaign, why would any elector want her in Washington with those kinds of account skills and staff oversight?

(And that’s aside from Smith’s other issues, including the “Is she really a Democrat?” issue.)

by jhwygirl

Just a quick hit on this one: I’m sure everyone’s heard the news earlier this week that President Obama has blessed his very own Super Pac, something he had rejected in the past.

Of course, he’s still cleaner, somehow. This, from Jay Carney, White House spokesperson:

He said Obama still refuses lobbyist and PAC money in his campaign account, “which distinguishes him from any of his potential … general-election opponents.”

Who’s out calming the bankers? Montana’s very own Jim Messina headed to Wall Street on Tuesday to let them know who Obama doesn’t have a problem with:

At the members-only Core Club in Manhattan, Messina provided a campaign briefing last night for some of the president’s top donors, including Ralph Schlosstein, chief executive officer at Evercore Partners Inc., and his wife, Jane Hartley, co-founder of the economic and political advisory firm Observatory Group LLC; Eric Mindich, founder of Eton Park Capital Management LP; and Ron Blaylock, co-founder of GenNx360 Capital Partners…..

In response to a question, Messina told the group of Wall Street donors that the president plans to run against Romney, not the industry that made the former governor of Massachusetts millions, according to one of the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting.

Does this cause me some burn? You betcha. Messina – Obama’s campaign manager – justifies his actions by saying “We can’t allow for two sets of rules in this election whereby the Republican nominee is the beneficiary of unlimited spending and Democrats unilaterally disarm.”

Well..there’s certainly an element of truth to what he says – but it’s also a two-wrongs-make-a-right defense, imo. I don’t know that it makes it OK.

At the very least, it’s a trench on a high hill that has now been ceded by Obama.

by lizard

LAPD deputy chief, Stephen Downing, has a question for president Obama. As a member of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), officer Downing asks the following YouTube question:

Good question. Meanwhile, the war on drugs chugs along.

Like wherever there’s a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area established.

Missoula’s PD participates in this wonderful program, and if you want to fill out some info about drug dealers, go to the city website and fill out a report.

And thanks to a City Council vote tonight, the city’s participation (via a lease) with HIDTA will only get stronger. Kudos to Wiener, Wolken, Taft, and Jaffe for voting NO. Boo on Copple for voting yes. And does anyone know why Hertz abstained?

Ultimately it doesn’t matter. When it comes to the WAR ON DRUGS!!!, the Feds call the tune, and local officials dance accordingly. Sure, it’s nice to know more and more sane members of law enforcement are seeing the absolute failure of this impossible-to-win war, but when it comes to the Feds, sanity does not appear to be contagious.

**UPDATE:  Adam Hertz abstained because of his matrimonial ties to the Lambros empire, and they are the ones facilitating the lease.

by lizard

A resolution to address the violence in Syria has failed, vetoed by Russia and China. My twitter feed is buzzing with outrage. Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton are buzzing with outrage. Russia and China are now complicit in whatever violence follows, they say.

And without any sense of irony, Susan Rice called Russia’s opposition to the resolution a “cheap ruse by those who would rather sell arms to the Syrian regime than stand with the Syrian people.” (ahem, Bahrain?!)

All week, there has been wrangling over the language of the resolution. This is a direct consequence of the US and its western allies exploiting the UN resolution to establish a no-fly zone in Libya for the real motive of imposing regime change. This from the link:

The resolution referred to “targeted measures” – instead of sanctions – if the clampdown in Syria continued.

But Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said that draft was based on “the philosophy of confrontation”.

He said the threat of an ultimatum of sanctions against the Syrian authorities was “unacceptable” and that the approach went “against the principle of a peaceful settlement of a crisis on the basis of a full Syrian national dialogue”.

He repeated Moscow’s concerns that a resolution could lead to a Libyan-style foreign military intervention in Syria and said pressure should also be put on the Syrian opposition movement to refrain from violence and disassociate itself from “extremists”.

But Mr Churkin added that Moscow would like the Syrian regime to be “quicker with implementing the promised changes”.

China’s UN ambassador Li Baodong said that Beijing opposed the idea of “interference in (Syria’s) internal affairs.”

He added that “sanction or threat of sanction does not help resolve the question of Syria” but “may further complicate the situation”.

Do Russia and China give a shit about dead Syrians? Of course not. But neither does the US. This is geopolitics, and the US is getting its my-way-or-the-highway attitude rebuffed because of past deceits.

It’s also incredibly difficult to determine what’s actually happening on the ground in Syria. Initial reports of 200 dead from last night’s attack are already being revised.

And the opposition to the Assad regime is NOT comprised of relatively non-violent civilians occupying some square. It’s an armed insurrection comprised of military defectors, who call themselves the Free Syria Army. This piece looks at how, in recent months, the Free Syria Army have turned to guerilla tactics against the regular army.

After more than ten months of a deadly crackdown on anti-government protests in Syria, members of the Free Syrian Army – out-armed and out-numbered by Syrian military forces – are now engaging in a classic military manoeuvre by drawing their enemy into urban areas they know well. In neighbourhoods where the population is on their side, fighting in the streets works to their advantage, as they can easily hide inside homes.

Yeah, civilians are going to be getting killed in Syria, just like they’re getting killed across the Middle East. Sometimes, when it serves US interests, those deaths get amplified, and sometimes they get conveniently omitted.

10 years ago Syria was declared to be part of the Axis of Evil by the Bush regime. That hasn’t changed.

And here’s something else that hasn’t changed: Geopolitics is a deadly game played by the leaders of Nations, and civilians are just pawns. In death, civilian body counts can be used as leverage to pressure certain outcomes. That’s what I think is happening here with this UN posturing, and that is what I find to be truly disgusting.

by jhwygirl

As always – please consider this an open thread.

Kevin Hamm has a new project: PoliticktickBOOM. It’s a podcast on politics. I’m looking forward to an issued-based audioblogpodcast for here in Montana. Hamm (if his blog stuff is any indicator) will be doing it right.

Crazy amount of money pouring/poured from Jackson Hole Wyoming residents into GOP pacs for Santorum and Huntsman. This story from the Jackson Hole News & Guide also illustrates the absolute stripping of any election funding limits that result from PAC’s. Sickening.

Reminds me that I probably should go poking around looking at where Montana’s money is coming and going….

From two of the best this week, George Ochenski over at the Missoula Independent points out the similarities in Obama’s “Blueprint for an America Built to Last,” to nearly every conservative’s favorite, President Ronald Reagan. That ‘built to last thing’ is described by the White House as “President Obama’s Blueprint to Make The Most of America’s Energy Resources.”

Supermontanareporter John S. Adams, of the Great Falls Tribune, was back from furnication this week with the real scoop on who Governor Schweitzer has in mind for that (what I’m thinking now is a) ridiculous office of the Commissioner of the Office of Political Practices.

First there were 16, then there were 4…And somewhere in between there a secret email about a secret Republican.

I don’t know why this is kicking in here, but did anyone notice the <a href = ""Psycho boyfriend burns lovers car" story? At least that's what the headline should have read. The "Man burns former lover's car" has a bit of a bias, if you asked me. Lover? Really?

Seriously..anyone notice that?

Montana’s beloved Rep. Denny Rehberg was out with a gaff this week – but what do you expect from a mulit-millionaire subdivision farmer? Don Pogreba over at Intelligent Discontent kicks up that story which has a lot of people talking.

Speaking of….James Conner, of the Flathead Memo scores a “10” with his piece this week on Whitefish’s Big Mountain’s Jesus. Perfect weave of words on the absurdity of truth. Don’t miss it.

Jack over at The Western Word gave his take on the political scene here in Montana this week. (Hint? “Money Money Money”)

And that’s about all I got…Happy weekend everyone!

by lizard

I’m going to feature poems this month about the mess of human relationships. I hesitate to use the term “love poems” because love may not always be present, even if the word “love” is used, especially with this weekend’s selection.

The poem below the fold comes from Judy Blunt, creative writing director at that tree hugger school here in Missoula. I may consider the administrative leadership at UM to be a bunch of tone-deaf idiots prioritizing the promotion of burning bio-mass over investigating alleged rapes, but I do respect the creative writing program that continues to draw very talented professors and adjuncts.

Judy Blunt’s star really shot up after her collection of personal essays, Breaking Clean, was published by Knopf in 2002. But though Judy is now more well known for her non-fiction, she proves to be a versatile writer very capable of writing great poems.

The poem I’ve selected comes from a book titled Not Quite Stone, released two decades ago, in 1992, when Judy won the Merriam-Frontier Award. As a dogged hunter of poetry books, I was lucky to stumble across this signed copy (1 of 400 published).

It’s a poem that, two decades later, is still terribly applicable. Read it and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

By now most of you have heard of the Susan G. Kolman for the Cure Foundation hullaboo over them having pulled funding from Planned Parenthood for mammogram funding. Because Planned Parenthood is under investigation by Congress.

Because, you know, women’s health is an issue for a bunch of old white men in DC to decide.

Statistically, most of you that read this blog are men. I don’t know if the severity of this is something that you all understand. Planned Parenthood has been under attack for decades now because a very very tiny portion of the many services it provides to women includes abortion. The House has voted to eliminate it’s funding at least twice last year with all the budget battles.

This attack on Planned Parenthood represents an attack on women’s health issues and free choice.

The bulk of what Planned Parenthood does is regular old women’s doctor stuff – and we’ve got lots of parts that need regular maintenance and inspection. That preventative health care is provided to women of all incomes, and in areas where access to healthcare is limited. While they provide birth control pills, they also provide obstetric care.

I was outraged when I heard this late Tuesday – that’s because Twitter is light years ahead of everything, including print media. I was more outraged to find the GOP agenda directly imprinted on the more by Susan G. Kolman.

Meg Lanker, of Cognitive Dissonance was on this story like the winds that batter I-80 outside of Laramie, Wyoming from where she writes. You must follow her on twitter. Immediately she pointed out that Susan G. Kolman’s new VP of Public Policy, Karen Handel, vowed to defund Planned Parenthood when she ran for governor of Georgia. Ms. Lanker also provides Ms. Handel’s mailing and email address – just in case you wanted your thank you note from Planned Parenthood sent her way.

Shannyn Moore, another favorite blogger of mine going back to the 2008 election (she provides investigative political reporting and commentary from The Mudflats), tweeted this very early (Montana time) Wednesday morning:

@shannynmoore Shannyn Moore
Planned Parenthood found my lump on a Tuesday and I was in surgery on Friday. I was 33. #ThanksPP #SuckItKomen

From there, 1000’s of women spoke up for what Planned Parenthood has done for them. I didn’t read of one abortion. We’re talking life-saving breast and cervical cancer screenings and treatments. Lives saved.

Susan G. continues to defend its stance – even now. A nonpolitical decision, they say – and their funding of breast cancer will continue as their mission. Women will just have to go about differently. Maybe they’ll weather this storm, but I think it’s more likely they end up battered and significantly downsized with support after this. People are already pulling funding, burning ribbons and pulling from races.

Their pink-shirted races being their most visible message. So while conservative money may pour into Susan G. as a result of this choice, throwing a partisan blanket on what was a cause that brought women together of all folds has now been forever changed.

We’ve reached a point in this nation where national organizations can be taken over by GOP ideologies. Susan G. Kolman no longer represents elimination of cancer, it represents the conservative ideology of making a woman’s vagina a crime scene, subject to the scrutiny of elected officials.

Susan G. should be losing their tax-free status (though I won’t be holding my breath). What congress has to do with breast cancer and Susan G. Kolman for the Cure’s choice in funding, I don’t know – but that connection alone should be clear enough a political connection that their mission is muddled.

by Pete Talbot

Eating crow

First, an apology to our readers for a factual error.  We wrote that GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Miller was going to announce Billie Orr, from Bozeman, as his running mate.  It turns out that the PSC’s Bill Gallagher got the nod.

We got the Orr info from a reliable source.  The tip was originally emailed to jhwygirl but it bounced back because of an old address. It was then forwarded to me.  I passed it back to j-gal because: 1) I’m super busy right now and 2) I’m not really that interested in who the far right is recruiting for lieutenant governor.  But I figured the tip was worth a mention.

Now in real journalism, at least one more source should have confirmed this, and calls to both Miller and Orr would be made, to confirm or deny.  But hey, this isn’t the New York Times.  It isn’t even the Missoulian.  It’s a blog.  The contributors here all have real lives and do this in their spare time, with no remuneration.

But apologies are still due to jhwygirl for me passing the buck to her, to Pogie for giving him an erroneous tip, and to our readers.

Some interesting asides, though.  One is that I learned a little something about Ms. Orr — an education activist and tea party member.  Now that’s an oxymoron.  Also, the Miller campaign is doing some strange things — campaign insiders are either being very clever or haven’t a clue as to what’s going on.  I suspect the latter.  Finally, the PSC’s Gallagher is a right-wing ideologue who poorly represents Montana on the commission.  We can only hope he resigns to spend more time on the governor’s race but fat chance of that.  The PSC paycheck is just too good.

UM makeover

So the University of Montana is giving $160,000 to a Pittsburgh consulting firm to “rebrand” the school’s image.

From the Missoulian story:

“Tree-hugger school.”

That’s what a Missoula gas station attendant called the University of Montana when a Mind Over Media team member casually asked whether he knew anything about the university.

The university is redoing its image based on what a gas station attendant says.  It should be ashamed of its nationally recognized environmental studies program, its touring Montana Repertory Theatre, its creative writing program, its journalism, pharmacy, law, education, forestry and music schools …

Yo.  It’s a liberal arts college.  If someone wants to learn about mining, they go to Butte’s School of Mines (now known as Montana Tech).  Engineering or agriculture?  Go to MSU (also known as Moo U, but I don’t see them “rebranding”).  Another excerpt:

UM is still defined in some ways by the political rhetoric expressed in the 1960s. That, in addition to its liberal arts curriculum, has earned UM names over the years such as “The People’s Republic” and the “Dancing Academy.” It shows how slowly perceptions change, said Chris Comer, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“Your campaign is going to have to be awesome,” he said.

Again, the university should shy away from its artistic, political and environmental activism.  That sure would be “awesome.”

Here’s a PR suggestion: take that $160K and put it toward faculty and staff raises, or a break on tuition, and be proud of what you are, UM.  I am.  That’s what I call “branding.”

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