Archive for April, 2012

by lizard

Osama Bin Laden’s active status: still dead. The popular consensus seems to be that’s a good thing.

Politically, it’s gold. Mitt’s woe of unfairness is a hard sell. I’d say that dog won’t hunt, but if I say that it sounds stupid.

Here’s something else that seems to be a good thing: war by drone strike, according to a vast-majority of Americans—83%—polled by ABC News/Washington Post:

As the 2012 election approaches, there’s one area where President Barack Obama can feel confident he has broad voter support – his military policies and use of drones against terror suspects, according to a new poll.

The vast majority of Americans — 83 percent— say they approve of Obama’s use of unmanned drones against terrorist suspects, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Wednesday. And two-thirds of those polled say they also support using drones specifically against American citizens in other countries who may be terrorists.

Below the fold is Jeremy Scahill giving a little talk at the conclusion of the recent drone summit, mostly about drones and killing and stuff, and how, no, it’s not a good thing. Not in the least fucking bit.

Please watch it. It’s really fucked up what we are allowing to be done in our name.

And when it comes home, there will be those who say we deserve it.

Honestly, if new tactics like signature drone strikes become the norm, then maybe we do deserve it.

Because we’re not doing enough to stop it. Continue Reading »

by lizard

One of the books I purchased while on vacation is an anthology of poems chosen and introduced by Robert Bly, titled News of the Universe: Poems of Twofold Consciousness (Sierra Club Books, 1980).

I’m going to include Bly’s introduction to this anthology as the focus for this week’s poetry series, because it gets at the potential of poetry to redefine the role our species plays on this planet, nudging us toward a position that acknowledges and respects interdependency and interconnectedness instead of seeing “man” as standing apart from the natural order of the world due to “his” ability to use the evolved reasoning capabilities of the human mind—what Bly calls the “Old Position” which amounts to, in its simplest terms, a blinding form of arrogance.

After Bly’s introduction, I’m including two poems. One is from a collection of selected poems from Robert Bly (my edition printed by HarperPerennial in 1986), and the title of the poem is HATRED OF MEN WITH BLACK HAIR. The second poem is by Wendell Berry, from the fourth section of Bly’s anthology, and the poem is titled THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS. Enjoy. Continue Reading »

by lizard

Energy independence. Doesn’t that sound nice? If only we, as a country, would build more pipelines, and frak at will, and mountaintop remove…yes, only then will we, the Proud Patriots of the United States, move closer to that pie in the sky of independence from those unsavory Muslim tyrants in the Middle East.

The big problem with that idea is the role multinationals play in extracting and profiting from energy resources. These complex vampire squids jamming and sucking earth’s vitals are not Proud Patriots. They are complex legal entities built to vacuum wealth from what we all, to some extent, require to survive: energy.

To actually make the value of natural resources work for a broader percentage of the population from which the earthjuice is being slurped, there is this funny notion of Nationalization. Britain, for example, nationalized its coal industry with the formation of the National Coal Board in 1946.

Iran tried to nationalize its oil industry, but the waning British Empire and the New Kids On The Block…

…enjoying the spoils of post WWII victory, decided to use covert means to undermine that effort (thanks Kermit Roosevelt).

More recently, like just a few weeks ago, Argentina shocked the global energy markets by seizing YPF:

Argentina’s seizure of YPF SA threatens to take the country further away from its goal of energy self-sufficiency as investors weigh the increased risk of expropriation in South America’s second-biggest economy.

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner named Planning Minister Julio De Vido to head the oil company with immediate effect and is sending a bill to Congress to take a 51 percent stake after oil imports doubled. Argentina, which wants to produce enough crude to match consumption, risks becoming “unviable” as a country because of the surge in imports, Fernandez said yesterday.

The seizure of the stake from Madrid-based Repsol YPF SA comes after more than two months of government pressure on YPF because of slumping production. The country could double output within a decade after the discovery of shale oil fields in the south that will cost $25 billion a year to develop and which will require YPF to find partners to help share costs.

I’m not going to pretend to really understand the shady alchemy behind the snake-oil salesmanship of the energy markets, but my layman’s prediction is Argentina will be severely punished by “investors” for this brazen move.

That said, I’m in no way advocating for nationalizing American energy companies, but that’s mostly because I think the firewall between private interest and public benefit has become so porous, it allows all kinds of insidious transfers to occur, like subsidies and loopholes, so what’s the point?

In theory I dream of all profit from extraction going directly into public managed research and infrastructure investment. Moving away from a car-based transportation system is critical, so plugging profit directly into alternative transportation projects would seem, at least to me, to make lots of sense.

But there are pitfalls and snake-oil salesmanship on the alternative energy side as well, angling behind the now-meaningless label GREEN for some kind of government handout. But that’s at the national level.

At the local level, I wrote awhile back about the Green Blocks program, and how it’s small steps like these that can build real momentum by breaking down the immensity of our energy crisis into tangible action.

Because it is immense—this growing global need of us humans for the energy to pretty up the night with lights and gadgetry—and it makes fixing the dangerous testing of planetary limits of production seem overwhelming.

On a final and somewhat positive note, the looming nuclear disaster NOT being discussed in any significant way received a recent boost by Oregon senator Ron Wyden, who recently visited Japan, and is now trying to sound the alarm for a global response to a potential global catastrophe:

The senator is not typically alarmist. But his field notes, followed by letters to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Energy Secretary Steven Chu, signal alarm. They paint a picture of extreme nuclear vulnerability, especially in Reactor No. 4, inactive at the time of the quake and tsunami but wrecked by explosion. The reactor now warehouses Fukushima’s hottest inventory of radioactive fuel rods in a seismically jittery part of the world.

Wyden completed his tour by asking Japan, with written urgings for help from Clinton and Chu, to sharply speed up a cleanup expected to take 10 more years. His fear is that another big seismic event will trigger another disaster before the cleanup is completed — exposing Oregon and the West Coast to potentially lethal risk.

I added the bold because 10 years means we are in serious trouble. I’m not even linking to some of the more explicit analysis of what could happen if the pools of spent fuel in Reactor No. 4 go, because honestly, it’s too depressing.

Senator Wyden should be commended for showing some rare political courage for bringing attention to the conspicuous lack thereof regarding the threat potential of Japan’s ongoing nuclear disaster.

O well, a bit of heedless carpe diem, then.

Like I’m going to bike to a party now, feeling good about myself while I peddle in the April night air.

Then, at some point at this social gathering, I will check my iPhone, channeling the asshole of consumption gleefully participating in the collective rape.

David Crisp is Back

by jhwygirl

Somehow I missed his reemergence last month.

The Billings Blog is well worthy reading.

Don’t miss it.

by jhwygirl

I’ll be heading off to Helena tomorrow morning to a Unite Women Rally being held at the State Capitol, starting at 11 a.m.

Franke Wilmer, U.S. House of Representative Democratic primary candidate, is one of many speakers (and she’s said that she’s scheduled to speak at noon, so it looks like Wilmer is opening the event.)

Also speaking is Dave Strohmaier and Kim Gillan (both also Democratic primary candidates for U.S. House), state attorney general candidate Pam Bucy and – a local favorite from here in Missoula, Beth Hubble, professor of women’s studies at the University of Montana.

There’s more – check the flier I link to above.

And for a sample of what attendees might hear tomorrow, here’s Franke Wilmer’s latest YouTube release:

AND here’s some carpooling information for Missoula & Bozeman:
Missoula folks: Meeting for carpools at the Park N’ Ride lot just up from Eastgate Albertsons at 8:45 on Saturday morning

Bozeman Folks: Meeting for carpools at KMart Parking lot near Famous Dave’s BBQ at 8:45 on Saturday morning.

by jhwygirl

Boy – what to say about this lte in the Montana Kaimin from Ms. Clarissa Holmes, a freshman at University of Montana.

She steps in there to defend the Griz players – but it isn’t her specific defense of the football team that bothers me – it’s where she places the blame. Please….read it for yourself:

Three: Are we really to blame the Griz football players? I’m going to come out and say that the football players aren’t the main problem of this and we all know it. It’s the ladies. You know the ones I’m talking about; the ones at the parties who are drinking everything they’re handed and wearing far-too-short skirts. I’m not saying they’re the ones getting raped, or that the girls who experienced sexual assault fit this stereotype, but what these girls are doing is just opening the way for these guys to assault them. Whatever happened to some of the first rules we learned as children? Not getting in cars with strangers, not taking candy (ahem, alcohol) from strangers. These rules are common sense and the fact that the women of this school are breaking them is purely unsafe and naïve.

By going to parties, drinking all they can, and acting like they want some, these girls are practically serving the cake to these guys. Girls really need to learn to draw the line on what’s an appropriate image at parties. Also, they need to stand up for themselves. Who cares if he’s popular? Who cares if he’s a senior or a football player? If he’s doing something you don’t like, do what my mom taught me and kick him in the balls. That’s what they’re for.

So….boy…I’m sitting here shaking my head wondering how we – America – got to a point where a young woman – a freshman in college – believes that women are to blame for being sexually assaulted.

Then put that in the context of a university that has been (supposedly) working to address the problem? What, exactly, are they doing? And maybe they should consider doing something else?

But let this letter also serve as a bit of a notice to our high schools here in Montana – Ms. Holmes is a freshman. She didn’t get to blaming, essentially, her female peers by accident. In fact, her letter makes me realize something that I hadn’t thought about – that the University of Montana didn’t get to where it’s gotten in terms of this rape scandal by itself. They had help getting there along the way, and it started somewhere down the line.

Work to do? You betcha.

by lizard

Dave Budge, at Electric City Weblog, has a post anyone engaging in political discourse would benefit from reading and considering, titled: Overcoming Bias, Increasing Understanding.

I don’t have much time to write about this now, because I’m 30 minutes from boarding a flight with the family, but check it out.

I know, personally, I definitely succumb to confirmation bias, and probably don’t challenge my own assumptions enough. Not doing so means I could remain stagnant and rigid in my beliefs and opinions, which is something I don’t want to do.

Also, I can be kind of a dick sometimes, which never leads to a better understanding of some of the very complex problems we face as a state, nation, and ultimately a species sharing a finite amount of planetary resources.

So thank you, Dave, for the post and kind words about 4&20. This cranky leftist borderline extremist appreciates the good advice.

Now I must steel myself for traveling. I can’t wait to get back to Montana.

by jhwygirl

I’ve seen way more than just 40 coal trains heading west on the Burlington Northern to Seattle where the toxic mercury and arsenic laden coal will be exported to China…and that number is sure to increase with the impending approval of the Youngs Creek railroad which will move a significant amount of Wyoming’s more higher quality coal through Montana on it’s way to China.

Missoulians are concerned about this carcinogenic coal moving through their backyards. In March the Yellowstone Valley Citizens Council gathered over 100 people along with economists, government officials and railroad representative for a two-day conference which discussed the impacts of this coal traffic…while Yellowstone County Commissioners refused to discuss the impacts.

Tomorrow, the Northern Plains Resource Council will host a public meeting and panel to discuss the impacts of the increased coal train traffic traveling through Bozeman. At 7 p.m., in Bozeman’s gorgeous and recently remodeled Public Library’s large conference room, four Montana residents and energy experts will gather and offer their insight into the issue:
– Beth Kaeding, Northern Plains Resource Council: overview of the situation.
– Clint McRae, landowner near Colstrip: impacts to the land and agriculture.
– Dr. Richard Damon, retired physician: health issues and concerns.
– John Vincent, Public Service Commissioner: alternative energy options and solutions.

China has notoriously dangerous and dirty mines. Just as exploitation of workers here in the U.S. in the late 1800’s resulted in unionization and regulation of the industry, Chinese workers are demanding higher pay and greater regulation. Instead, what is China doing? Seeking their coal here, at a time that the market for coal has declined in the United States. U.S. coal companies are planning to export more coal to lucrative Asian markets from the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming. The most direct route is by rail to the West Coast. Across Montana.

From Beth Kaeding: “With up to 40 additional coal trains, full and empty, passing through Bozeman each day, it’s time for the community to come together to discuss what this will mean to our lives. There will be increased traffic congestion and noise as well as public safety and public health concerns that we need to understand.”

The Northern Plains Resource Council is a fine grassroots group that is comprised of ranchers and resource managers working to effectively balance economic resource development and the Montana natural resources that are the world’s treasures.

When I ask “What is Montana without i’s water?” I know that NPRC is working to ensure that none of us ever have to contemplate a Montana whose rivers aren’t something our children couldn’t enjoy.

by lizard

Whenever I travel, I make a point of finding and visiting bookstores. For the last week I’ve been in Kansas City, visiting the in-laws and a few close friends. During this “vacation” I’ve managed to squeeze in some quality book time, which has resulted in the purchasing of nearly 20 poetry-related books (thanks to a used book store, the damage to my bank account is not as severe as the number indicates).

With such a major influx of titles, selecting a poem for this week’s poetry series has been rather difficult. I initially wanted to feature a poem by Michael Robbins, from his collection Alien Vs. Predator. It’s the first book of poetry that I read completely, front to back, in quite awhile. His gratuitous use of pop-culture references is, some critics may argue, too limiting, relegating the potential impact of his poems to those “in the know”, but I loved it, and for poetry nerds, I highly suggest checking him out.

From my poetic expenditure, I now own “new” books from Robert Creeley, Adrienne Rich, Sharon Olds, and Diane Wakowski, not to mention a few books from poets who, I imagine, no one has ever heard of, like James Kavanaugh and Lenore Kandel.

The poem I finally decided to select for this week’s poetry series is from an anthology of poems, titled Junkyard Ghost Revival.

The first time I read this poem, written by Sonya Renee Taylor, it gave me chills. It’s an imagined response, of sorts, from Laci Peterson, brutally murdered by her husband, Scott Peterson, who now rots on death row, where he belongs.

Considering all the (mostly useless) bloggy chatter about sexual assaults against women, it’s a timely piece that deserves some attention. Continue Reading »

by lizard

Congratulations, America. Thanks to a bipartisan effort, Mexicans have finally gotten the message: GO HOME!

The net flow of Mexicans into the US has dwindled to a trickle and may now be in reverse, giving the lie to right-wing warnings of an “invasion” of illegal immigrants and bringing to an end four decades of inward migration.

Will Republicans acknowledge that—with the help of the Obama administration—aggressive deportations, border patrol impunity, and a shitty economy have helped reverse the MEXICAN INVASION we’ve been told to fear? Yeah, right. From the link:

President Barack Obama says he backs immigration reform, announcing last month an initiative to ease deportation policies, but he has sent home over 1 million illegal immigrants in 2-1/2 years — on pace to deport more in one term than George W. Bush did in two.

The Obama administration had deported about 1.06 million as of September 12, against 1.57 million in Bush’s two full presidential terms.

This seeming contradiction between rhetoric and reality is a key element of debate over U.S. immigration policy, and stakes are high for 2012’s presidential election as Obama faces criticism from both conservatives and liberals.

Neither side of the political spectrum seems very good at acknowledging reality these days, so don’t hold your breath. Instead, both Democrats and Republicans point to just the rhetoric while ignoring the reality of what the Obama administration policies actually do, on the ground.

For a glimpse of reality, here’s Democracy Now covering the violent beating death of Anastasio Hernández Rojas, a father of five who doesn’t get to be a father anymore, because he’s dead.

So Obama says he supports immigration reform? Bullshit. Obama supports getting himself reelected. That means he will say things to get elected, while doing the opposite to ensure Republicans can’t point to actual actions being taken to make that rhetoric resemble reality.

Of course, even if he was being earnest with *wanting* to reform immigration policies, it’s doubtful he could get enough of his own team to go along with it. Remember, our own senator, Jon Tester, helped kill the very modest reform known as the Dream Act. And what was Jon’s rationale for his vote? Here is what Jon said in an e-mail:

Illegal immigration is a critical problem facing our country, but amnesty is not the solution. I do not support legislation that provides a path to citizenship for anyone in this country illegally.

Like I said, reality doesn’t matter to politicians; reelection, though, does.

Will Jon Tester amend his position in light of this new data showing the “critical problem facing our country” is no longer critical? It’s an election year, so I doubt it. If the topic comes up, maintaining the bullshit rationale that the Dream Act represented some kind of “amnesty” will still be the smart thing to do, since Montanans probably still mostly fear and despise the idea of Mexicans flooding across the borders to steal their jobs and sell their middle-school kids weed, because that’s what Fox News and the GOP say.

Meanwhile, Obama will outpace Bush kicking people out of the country, families will continue being ripped apart, and politicians like Jon Tester will continue ignoring reality in order to win elections.

America, you should be so proud.

by lizard

For those who want to see the rape-tolerant culture at the University of Montana addressed in a meaningful way that will lessen the risk of loved ones being sexually assaulted, former UM professor Rob Natelson claims to have the solution

The first problem identified by the professor is the admittance of those who aren’t “college material”. The unsubstantiated correlation being made here by the former professor seems to be that admission standards are partly responsible for sexual assaults:

As a former long-time University of Montana employee, I’m not surprised somehow by the sexual assault problems on campus. When you admit (for athletic, political, and financial purposes) a lot of students who really are not college material and concentrate them together, you invite problems. The most common result, of course, is that most UM undergrads never graduate, thereby wasting their own time and cash, and the taxpayers’ money. But the same admissions policies are, at least in part, responsible for even nastier results.

Does the professor offer anything to back up this correlation between aptitude for higher learning and the potential for rape? No, he doesn’t. Instead he just marches on to the next idiotic solution: guns.

Here is Rob’s numbered suggestions to solve the problem the University of Montana has had with sexual assault:

(1) Do what the Colorado legislature has done and allow anyone with a concealed carry permit to possess and carry guns on campus.

(2) Also allow students and faculty who have successfully completed a university-sponsored firearms safety course to possess and carry guns on campus.

(3) Hire Gary Marbut of the Montana Shooting Sports Association to organize the training, with special emphasis on his Handguns for Women course. Encourage as many female students, staff, and faculty as possible to take the course so they qualify to carry on campus. Give female students PE credit for the course if you have to.

(4) Watch the creeps shake in fear when they even THINK about assaulting a woman who might be packing a weapon and knows how to use it.

I have a hard time believing someone who is suppose to be intelligent enough to teach at the college level actually thinks carrying concealed weapons would be an effective means of addressing the rape-tolerant culture that currently exists at UM.

According to the National Institute of Justice, 85-90% of sexual assaults reported by college women are perpetrated by someone they know. How is a gun suppose to stop these assaults?

Another factor often involved in sexual assaults on campus is alcohol. Again, for someone who is significantly impaired from alcohol, what good is a gun going to do to stop a sexual assault?

In my not-so-humble opinion, Rob Natelson is being an opportunistic asshole with his idiotic post advocating for carrying concealed weapons on campus. This is not some partisan opportunity for a think-tank hack to shill for the gun lobby. This is a much larger problem that won’t be solved by simply arming women with handguns.

By the way, Rob, why a “handguns for women course”? Do women really need some specialized course to learn how to operate a handgun just because they’re women?

by lizard

Traveling with kids can be stressful, especially in this day and age. But I learned some important things on my trip back to the midwest to visit family and friends that I would like to share.

1. Window shades CANNOT be closed during take-off and landing. I asked the stewardass why, and she said “in case of emergency” like that’s all she had to say to justify this new, idiotic rule. So when my 3 year old son asked me why he couldn’t put the shade down to shield his eyes from the blazing sun, I told him sometimes there were stupid rules that adults made up for no good reason, and we just had to deal with it.

2. Kids under the age of 12 do not need to take off their shoes in the security line, and if you’re 3 year old is acting slightly terrified at all the stern looking people keeping us safe from the terrorists, then you ARE allowed to walk through the metal detector holding him. I hope the terrorists don’t exploit this weakspot in the TSA.

3. There is simply no escaping the stupid ideology of crusading Christians, because when you least expect it, you may find yourself involved in a political conversation with Laurie Roth, one of the candidates seeking the nomination for the Constitution Party’s loony bid for the presidency.

Unfortunately I’m being completely serious. While trying to quell multiple tantrums, I had Laurie Roth—self-described “Annie Oakley of the airwaves”—trying to engage both myself and the pregnant women sitting in the window seat in political conversations. It wasn’t until the end of the flight that she clued me in to her destination (Nashville) and her reason for traveling (to become the Constitution Party’s nominee for president).

Want to know more about Laurie? Here is some info from her bio:

Laurie is happily married and currently resides in Washington State where she spends her free time walking her two dogs and feeding deer, raccoons, birds, flying squirrels, and anything or anyone else who might show up at her door. She really is incorrigible!

Laurie Roth has a Ph.D. in counseling and a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. If she can’t reason with you, you had better duck before the roundhouse kick sends you flying! She is the proverbial “pastor’s daughter” when it comes to her sense of adventure and her independent thinking. However, underneath her sharp wit, loony antics, and twisted views, you will find a woman with an uncommon gentle nature, a daily walk with God, and a unique talent for finding success against all odds.

One of the words that pops into my head when I think about crusading Christians is contradiction. You know, like claiming to have a “gentle nature” right after threatening to violently dispense with people who can’t be reasoned with.

A quick perusal of her website revealed more contradictions, as delightfully exemplified by the title of this post: There IS no freedom for America without faith in God. Like my 3 year old says, wowsers! Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Because my idea of democracy is a system where the unwashed masses actually have a voice.

Democrats hate primaries. Ask a democrat active in the party who they support and the more active they are the more likely they are to waffle and squirm their way out of saying who they’re going to vote for. Openly endorse one and really watch the daggers fly – something I experienced from 50 iterations of the two bovine bloggers who together call themselves the Montana bovine something-or-other blog when I endorsed a candidate during the 2010 congressional primary.

It’s a funny thing I’ve observed over the years – the pre-selection of candidates by the elite few. Here at the local level, most city council candidates have been pre-selected for a number of years. I wonder how many of the unwashed masses – the commoners – realize that? Hell, this last go around, at least one sitting councilperson actively recruited a candidate to run against a sitting (same progressive camp) councilperson even before said councilperson had decided whether they would run again!

So we’re not talking about the party recruitment of candidates for a seat that looks like it won’t have someone from the Democratic party running – there may be an incumbent, or there may be candidates lined up for running……….the truth is the elites of the state Montana Democratic Party (or, locally, the select few of the Missoula County Democrats) have pre-selected who they want to run.

From the pre-selection process, regardless of whether there’s a primary, the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) messaging goes out regarding who’s “going to win” or “who’s the best candidate.” Plan to disrupt that serendipity and you better have a flak jacket.

What it comes down to is that if anyone thinks you can run for office in this state and have an even playing field in terms of treatment from the Montana Democratic Party, they are – sorry to be blunt here – delusional. Or naive. Or ignorant. Or all of the above.

For example – I wonder how many people are aware that the Montana Democratic Party changed its rules in 2009 to allow it to endorse a “proven incumbent” by a 2/3 vote of the executive board. That’s a 2/3 vote of a bunch of people that would include – get this – the “proven incumbent.” Rule X of the Pre-primary policy is where you can find this.

This was done with purpose and intent to protect one particular candidate from having to face one particular rumored challenger sometime in the future. With everyone happy and still giddy from their 2006 victories.

Party of inclusion? Party of “the people”? Sure doesn’t seem like they trust the citizens of the state pulling a Democratic ballot in the primary to make that decision.

They have elections in China, too. You get one candidate to choose from. We decry that…but really, if you consider yourself a Democrat, how is the party elites of the Montana Democrats choosing the Democrat for the ticket (whether by that formal 2/3 or the informal overt and covert bullying that goes on pre-primary) much different?

What, precisely, is the purpose of a primary? Isn’t it so the public that cares picks a candidate for the party to get behind?

Yesterday, Montana Democratic Party’s executive director Ted Dick sent out a nice email to all its subscribers, under the Montana Democratic Party’s letterhead, endorsing Attorney General Steve Bullock for Governor.

Friend —

It’s hard to believe, but Steve Bullock is already under attack from right-wing organizations, who are running TV ads against him as we speak.

Powerful special interests are putting Steve in their crosshairs because they know he’s standing up to unlimited corporate money in politics.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen dishonest attacks like these on the air, and it won’t be the last. That’s because Steve won’t give up the fight against Citizens United — the law that lets big corporations spend as much as they want to buy elections.

In Montana, we have a different tradition — for 100 years we’ve made sure Montana’s elections are fair and transparent, because we’ve put responsible standards in place.

While some want Montana to go back to a time when the ‘Copper Kings’ bought the politcians they wanted, Steve Bullock is fighting for a fairer vision for Montana.

That’s why we’re standing with Steve.


It was followed, on the bottom as all political media is tagged, with a “Paid for by the Montana Democratic Party” message.

Now – let’s dissect this just a little to say that the “attack from right-wing organizations” is directed at Bullock not because as AG he filed suit against Citizens United, but because he’s a candidate. A candidate for Governor. And they are running ads against him because they prefer that someone like Rick Hill or Neil Livingstone win that gubernatorial office.

While it doesn’t mention Bullock’s run for governor, it also doesn’t mention that he is “standing up to unlimited corporate money in politics” because he is the state’s attorney general, either. (That court case having yet to be rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court, though they have put an injunction on any enforcement of prohibitions to corporate money here in Montana.)

The Montana Democrats are unequivocally “standing with Steve.”

Could Bullock, as a currently elected state official, request television or air time or newspaper print to discuss the impacts of Citizen’s United? Now that he has filed, it is most likely that if he did so any of his opponents would probably be entitled to equal time. He couldn’t do a PSA about it without facing an ethics charge from our oh-so-effecitive Office of Political Practices, that’s for sure.

And, as a reminder, Steve Bullock does have two opponents in the Democratic primary. Heather Margolis and Steve Nelsen of Helena are still in the race.

And – as another reminder – a 2/3 vote of the executive board is necessary for the Montana Democrats to endorse a “proven incumbent” – Bullock is not an incumbent for the office of Governor and a 2/3 vote has not occurred.

Does this matter? In my opinion, if there are going to be rules they really should be followed. And enforced. Or don’t have the rules at all.

And geez – really – shouldn’t that apply to all sorts of rules and laws? Not just those of the Montana Democrats?

Look – Bullock is a nice enough guy, I suppose. I have some issues with him over his vote against Otter Creek (I may, eventually, explain that) – but to have the party endorsing a candidate that is currently being primaried is wrong. When he doesn’t even meet the criteria of being able to be endorsed is another.

Not only that, it just feeds into the rumble from the right that Margolis and Nelsen where somehow “fake” candidates who ran for office to ensure Bullock had access to more money because he is able to accept contributions in both the primary and the general.

If the Democrats are going to have rules, they should damned well follow them.

Otherwise, where does it stop? Or where does it begin?

War On Mom

by lizard

I was up with Chris this morning, and it was delightful to see him nail Mitt Romney. This sanctimonious flip-flopping prick (who I still may vote for) has suddenly realized raising kids is work.

As Chris pointed out this morning, just four months ago, that scheming chameleon of a candidate was singing a different tune:

Back then, in the distant past of last January, Mitt was celebrating how the nanny state he lead compelled women to leave their young children to get their government assistance. You know, for dignity.

But now that his nanny supported wife gets to benefit from the tone-deaf “unforced error” of Hilary Rosen, Mitt is all about acknowledging that stay-at-home moms staying home constitutes “work”.

Instead of dwelling on this political flavor of the week spectacle, I’d like to take a step back and look at the larger consequences of what happens when newborns don’t get what they need in the first years of life outside the womb.

The work of Dr. Gabor Maté, specifically the work he’s done with addiction, which informed the book In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts, puts forth the not-very-surprising assertion that addiction has neurological roots that reach back to early childhood development.

Before we get to an excerpt from the introduction of Dr. Maté’s book, I would like to dwell for a few more moments on this mutation from A WAR ON WOMEN to A WAR ON MOMMY, via Romney.

There are possibly some class dynamics wrapped up in Mitt’s latest flip, so maybe it should be stated that having money does not automatically make you a good Mom, and not having money automatically make you a bad Mom—the kind of Mom who may need to pee in a cup if she wants state assistance.

That said, Dr. Maté: Continue Reading »

by lizard

Seemingly out of no where, CNN dropped an obscenity twofer that has sparked some interesting discussion about the notorious racial epithet commonly referred to as the “N-word”. Here’s the offending clip:

Two prominent media figures—Whoopi Goldberg and Don Lemon—have advocated for a complete utterance of the derogatory word, when appropriate:

Lemon said, “I hate saying ‘the n-word.’ I think it takes the value out of what that word really means. Especially when we’re reporting it. And I don’t care what color the reporter is. I think someone should say, that person called someone ‘nigger,’ instead of saying ‘the n-word,’ because I think it sanitizes it.” Lemon added that he hates the use of the word in music and when it’s used for misogynistic purposes. “What I’m saying is in the reporting of a story, you should say the word,” he said.

Goldberg echoed Lemon’s sentiments on Tuesday’s “View.” Goldberg said that using the term “n-word” makes the word sound “cute.” Goldberg also said that she feels very strongly about the word. “Do not eliminate it,” she said. “It’s part of our history.” Co-host Barbara Walters, who has clashed with her “View” colleagues over the word in the past, agreed with Goldberg’s response. “If I were quoting somebody else, and it’s intrinsic to what the person was saying, then you have to be able to say it,” Walters said. “That’s what reporters are supposed to do,” Goldberg said.

Does the abbreviated version really “sanitize” the word? I don’t know. The whole topic of use is a minefield.

But there it is, brazenly in the title of this post, and after just a few more words, I’m going to use that abhorrent word in a poem, along with other offensive words.

Full disclosure: I’ve been sitting on this poem for a few weeks now, and though I’ve vetted it with a few trusted confidants, who liked it (but told me not to post it), I feel compelled to ignore their good advice, and post it anyway.

I’m sorry ahead of time if this offends anyone, because that is not my intention. That said… Continue Reading »

Renting Home

by lizard

A monthly forum called City Club Missoula featured city councilman Jason Wiener and County Commissioner Jean Curtiss talking about the 10 year plan to end homelessness this past Monday. From what I gathered watching Jason and Jean speak, part of this process entails honestly assessing the gaps and barriers that exist in how Missoula approaches homelessness in our community. To watch a recording of City Club, MCAT will replay it on April 15th.

I was thinking about City Club when I started browsing the insert in this week’s Independent, quaintly called Homesteader. The articles are billed as “Expert Essays” sponsored by the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM).

One of the essays looks at the “daunting” decision to become a landlord, offering 10 tips for successfully renting your home property. The first tip reads:

Prospective tenants have many options to choose from in today’s market; Make sure your home is the one they want. Repair any holes or scuffs on walls, repair all appliances and update if necessary. Check plumbing fixtures for leaks. Maintain your furnace and air conditioner, and double check that everything is working properly. Have your carpets professionally cleaned.

The reason I want to highlight this tip is because I’m skeptical how many options people who are looking to rent actually have in today’s market. It turns out, all I had to do was flip a few more pages, to the next “Expert Essay,” which lays out 28 things every tenant needs to know, because this is how the article describes Missoula’s rental market:

The Missoula rental market can be competitive. Half the local population—or some 30,000 people—rent their home, with 10,000 of those being students attending the University of Montana. On average, Missoula has a rental vacancy rate between 3 and 5 percent; the national average is 10 percent. In such a limited market, it’s important for renters to understand their rights, their responsibilities and what it takes to enter into a positive lease agreement.

Low vacancy rates create a rental environment that benefits landlords—especially the slum kind. That’s why it’s important to know your rights as a renter, because when supply is tight, landlords have more power to abuse. Doesn’t that kind of undermine the earlier claim that “tenants have many options to choose from in today’s market?”

A tight rental market is also going to make it tough to address the barriers people face securing housing—like application fees, security deposits, and paying first and last months rent. For those scraping by on a fixed income, $25 bucks just to process an application can be cost-prohibitive to finding a place to live.

There are lots of things a 10 year plan to end homeless can do, and it’s encouraging to see momentum start to build behind some great ideas. One of the biggest challenges, though, is going to be addressing the tight rental market in Missoula, and how that affects the dynamic between renter and landlord.


Just a quickie here today to tie together Jhwygirl’s recent uncovering of another of Missoula’s nanny state laws and the shrinking 4th Amendment with Lizard’s ongoing analysis of foreign policy American Imperialism and the democratic party, and Political Nihilism.

For those who pay attention to such things, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 last week to cement in place some foreign policy tactics in a withering of 4th Amendment protections. David Bromwich does an excellent job connecting the dots between democrats’ lilly-livered approach to both reigning in American Hegemony, and  protecting civil liberties in his recent article “Strip Search Nation (Including The Authoritarian Catechism):”

What might easily not be known about this case [Florence v. County of Burlington]… is that the Obama administration sided with the authoritarians on the court in supporting the right of prison officials to command a strip search. A Justice Department lawyer, Nicole A. Saharsky, offered these words to clarify the view shared by President Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder: “When you have a rule that treats everyone the same, you don’t have folks that are singled out. You don’t have any security gaps.” The Obama case for abrogation of the fourth amendment in prison thus turns on a lofty non-discriminatory aim: the safety and democracy of prisons. A level playing field of humiliation.

But is it true to say that no “folks” are “singled out” by such a procedure? Albert Florence [whom had been arrested for not paying a fine, which in fact he had already paid] is a black man. In 2009, blacks made up 13.6 percent of the U.S. population, but they were 39.4 percent of the prison population. So let us say it straight. The Obama-Holder view favors the universal application of the strip-search to a situation where some folks, after all, have been singled out as an observable pattern of the usual practice of the system.

Well, of course we all want to say this could never happen to any of us, but here is what the Obama Administration just acquiesced to for treatment of any of us being brought into custody for any reason–yes even a cell phone texting, non-fine paying warrant, in Missoula:

Petitioner [Florence] claims that he also had to open his mouth, lift his tongue, hold out his arms, turn around, and lift his genitals. At the second jail, petitioner, like other arriving detainees, had to remove his clothing while an officer looked for body markings, wounds, and contraband; had an officer look at his ears, nose, mouth, hair, scalp, fingers, hands, armpits, and other body openings; had a mandatory shower; and had his clothes examined. Petitioner claims that he was also required to lift his genitals, turn around, and cough while squatting.”

So think about that next time you get all cocky about thumbing your nose at Missoula’s nanny laws.

But to link this move with our country’s foreign policy escapades, Bromwich offers the following:

“Foreign policy has come home in the form of pepper spray, Tasers, and strip searches. But there is a practice closer to the Florence case. A mass experiment in the reduction of political self-respect occurs and is reinforced every day, in every airport in the country, in the body scans and pat-downs performed by the TSA. Some of the latter work is necessary, of course, while a strip search of a man with a parking ticket is not necessary. Still, the common experience and the exceptional one are clearly related. The government wore people down and achieved acceptance of the first practice, and that prepared the way for official endorsement of the second. Once again, a political and moral aberration has been redescribed and turned into an approved policy…

Justice Breyer wrote in his dissent: “such a search of an individual arrested for a minor offense that does not involve drugs or violence — say a traffic offense, a regulatory offense, an essentially civil matter, or any other such misdemeanor — is an ‘unreasonable search’ forbidden by the Fourth Amendment, unless prison authorities have reasonable suspicion to believe that the individual possesses drugs or other contraband.” You do not have to be an elaborately educated or refined reader of the Constitution to judge that such indeed is the meaning of the fourth amendment.

The words are great and they deserve to be remembered. Here is what the fourth amendment says:

~The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.~

How steep is the descent from these words to the new rule by which a majority of the Supreme Court, with a president and an attorney general at their side, have now elected to challenge the constitutional presumption against arbitrary searches and seizures? We will know for sure when we see the next in the series of anti-Constitutional experiments begun by Bush and Cheney and continued by Barack Obama.”

I’ll leave you all with this wonderful little ditty Bromwich included (after the jump), to remind you of your place in the democrat version of the New World Order: Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

For you non-Rapture types, Montana Women Vote is co-sponsoring a Congressional Candidate Forum in Missoula tomorrow night, April 12th. (And while I am loath to utilize facebook, MWV do update their page a lot – so here’s that link.)

Head on down to the University Center Theater, 6 p.m. I’m told Pat Williams (Montana’s former U.S. Representative) and Jen Gursky (President of ASUM) will be moderating.

Here’s a piece from Olivia Riutta:

Montana has just one Congressional seat in the US House of Representatives and you have to opportunity to hear directly from candidates where they stand on issues that affect Montana women and families. From education to reproductive health care to funding for programs and services that help Montana women and families, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to meet the candidates before the June 6th primary election. There will also be time at the end when we will take questions from the audience.

Republicans, it looks like, are once again passing up a non-partisan candidate forum. Is that 5 now? Or 6? Convenient for them, I guess, though I see their party spokespeople online lobbing attacks at the candidates. All this while 3 Republicans and one Libertarian get to hide from the main stream public unbiased forums which seek to get at issue positions.

Why, exactly, are they avoiding public non-partisan debates?

Montana Women Vote will also be at the event registering voters. It’s fine organization doing excellent work in the community educating people on meaningful participation in the democratic process through education and other information-based strategies. I have always been impressed by their presentations.

If you have questions, contact Montana Women Vote at 543-3550 x213

by lizard

When Pogie and I had our recent little spat, he was able to leave on a positive note, saying:

Best of luck to you guys over here. I think I’m going to take my leave for awhile and focus on what matters to me. No doubt you’ll do the same at your place.

I think Pogie is sincere and earnest in writing about what matters to him. Obviously that includes helping get Democrats elected. When I think about some of the legislation that could have passed the last session here in Montana, and the real-life damage it would have done if federal funds had somehow been given back in the name of anti-deficit, ideological purity, it’s hard to argue against supporting Montana Democrats.

For me, one of the topics I keep returning to (with my limited time and knowledge) is foreign policy issues.

Unfortunately my default setting is skepticism when it comes to official lines of reasoning justifying US military involvement around the world, and recently that has put me at odds with other well-meaning people who read and see awful things and want to support ways of stopping it.

Of the more than 200 posts I’ve written in the last year and a half, a few of them examined the counter narrative to the allegedly altruistic aims of using the UN security council to establish a no-fly zone in order to save civilians in Libya.

The fallout from how the US and company exploited the UN resolution to impose regime change in Libya is now being experienced by Syrians, who are suffering under what certainly appears to be a brutal crackdown. But the opposition is by no means innocent, and comprised of a mosaic of actors not fully understood by the west and apartheid Israel, who are yearning for bigger fish to fry.

And by frying fish I mean starting an all out apocalyptic conflagration in the Middle East.

b, the sole blogger @Moon of Alabama, has a new post up speculating on whether or not Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has lost his marbles by floating the idea of invoking NATO’s article 5 over a recent cross-border skirmish:

In a statement that may be interpreted as the harshest response yet to the escalating 13-month-old Syrian crisis, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the first time on Wednesday raised the possibility of calling on the NATO military alliance to protect Turkey’s border against incursions by Syrian forces.

Speaking to reporters travelling with him during his official visit to China, Erdoğan said Turkey may consider invoking NATO’s fifth article to protect Turkish national security in the face of increasing tension along the Syrian border. His comments came after four Syrians who fled to Turkey from the violence in Syria were killed by Syrian forces targeting refugees on the Turkish side of the border on Monday.

What does article 5 say you ask? Good Question. It says:

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

There is a counter narrative to this recent development, and one person I regularly follow, Pepe Escobar offers a different depiction of refugees fleeing being targeted by Syrian forces. Instead, there is evidence that Syrian forces came under fire by the Free Syrian Army, who may be getting some level of cover from Turkey.

I think this matters because the consequence of an all out regional war breaking out would be cataclysmic. So yeah, I’m going to keep writing about it, even if including the role Democrats play in the war consensus makes some feel uncomfortable.

by jhwygirl

Tucked in last week’s story on councilman and Democratic congressional candidate Dave Strohmaier and his fellow councilman Jon Wilkins bringing back the cell phone ordinance for more discussion “based on successful work in other communities,” was a little sentence or two that made me wonder just how aggressive city cops were willing to go to enforce Missoula’s texting-while-driving law

You know – the story where Jon Wilkins was quoted as saying “I think the cellphone usage is out of control in Missoula,” and that it was “just going to get worse”?

Tucked in that story were these two paragraphs, with my emphasis added:

There have been a significant number of changes around the country and the state of Montana since Missoula has undertaken to pass our no-texting-while-driving ordinance,” said Muir, who noted that April happens to be National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

It’s hard to tell if someone is texting or dialing, and police have issued just 12 citations since the law took effect, Muir said. A motorcycle cop wrote half of those because from his vantage point on the bike, it was easier to look down at a driver and see that the motorist was, in fact, texting.

Goddess bless Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller, btw. She gets those details – and most of the time probably wonders why no one ever notices.

Of 12 citations written, one cop has written half of those citations because from his vantage point it was easier to look down on the driver and see that the motorist was texting?

Really? Is he doing this while riding his bike? Or while he is stopped at a light or sign next to or behind the driver?

I don’t want to sound theatrical or unreasonable, but what ever happened to reasonable cause? The right to…awww, let’s just go right to the U.S. Constitution, Fourth Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I recognize that police have a dangerous job. I consider myself pretty well-informed of the risks they take every day when the put on that uniform and go to work. But that being said, I can’t not for the life of me imagine how one cop has managed to rack up 50% of the tickets for texting-while-driving on reasonable cause suspicions that led to him looking into the laps of drivers.

It also makes me wonder what other tickets he’s given out and under what circumstances.

Wilkins thinks cell phone use is “out of control”? I’m thinking we’ve got the cops using that cell phone ordinance for more that what it was intended.

And one cop who might be a little “out of control.”

4th Amendment be damned, Missoula! We might have someone texting-while-driving! Even while stopped at a light!


With those words, Franklin Delano Roosevelt invoked his Economic Bill of Rights during his State of the Union speech on January 11th, 1944:

“It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.”

Americans cherish their creed of: “With Liberty and Justice for All” contained within the pledge of allegiance, but that is just one pillar of a society built on true democratic and egalitarian principles. Roosevelt was alluding to his economic bill of rights as being a second bill of rights in this country, needed to advance us to a moral and just society.

But this discussion would not be complete without reference to the French notion of “Liberté, égalité, fraternité.” Liberty, equality and brotherhood (or sisterhood). The original pledge of allegiance was written with the words “equality and fraternity” in mind, but those words were rejected due to perceived opposition to the notions in the late 19th century.

Of course, I didn’t lure you all in here for just some trite history lessons. Lizard introduced us to the notion of political nihilism yesterday, which offers a nice segue into some material I’ve been thinking of writing about. And after last week’s springtime meetup between Liz, Pete and I on the deck of the Old Post (thanks Pogo!), their words of encouragement to me to do some writing was taken to heart.

Being a bit of a political nihilist myself, I mentioned that I would have a hard time offering paeans to the democratic party and most of its candidates, including President Obama, and to the theology on the political necessity of the lesser of two evils. What has interested me most about fringe traditional politics this year is the emergence of a new candidate for the Green Party, and no, it’s not Ralph Nader (whom I have voted for in the past).

Jill Stein, this year’s Green Party front runner, has invoked FDR’s Second Bill of Rights, and is sidling up to the French notion (and aborted Pledge of Allegiance credo) of Liberté, égalité, fraternité in her campaign. I thought it might be refreshing to traditional democrats to see some ideas that might inspire a current generation of democrats to embrace.

Of course, even a platform arising out of traditional democrat and american themes now seems too radical for a mainstream democratic party that has drifted aimlessly to the right, attacking any and all efforts to drag it back to its roots. For starters, I’d like to offer up a few tidbits of Stein and the Green New Deal speech she gave for the “People’s State of the Union” earlier this year, that would work to stem the rush to a fascistic dictatorship in this country.

A four part program:

  • “First, we will guarantee the economic rights of all Americans, beginning with the right to a job at a living wage for every American willing and able to work.
  • Second, we will transition to a sustainable, green economy for the 21st century, by adopting green technologies and sustainable production.
  • Third, we will reboot and reprogram the financial sector so that it serves everyday people and our communities, and not the other way around.
  • Fourth, we will protect these gains by expanding and strengthening our democracy so that our government and our economy finally serve We the People.”

The Economic Bill of Rights:

The Green New Deal begins with an Economic Bill of Rights that recognizes our rights to an economy that serves people. This means that everyone willing and able to work has the right to a job at a living wage. All of us have the right to quality education, health care, utilities, and housing. Each of us has the right to unionize, to fair taxation, and to fair trade.”

And this is just the start of a truly progressive plank by which democrats should seek to judge their candidates if they truly believe that the democratic party is of any use to mainstream politics. But it is still only the foundation for a  second of the full tier of rights and moral obligations of civilized nations.

I’ll be back for more in the future. And of course I, and others who support third party alternatives to mainstream political shlock, will most likely take a lot of heat for offering up what will be characterized as political nihilism. And you know what? I’m ok with that.

And if you want to watch a true progressive politician talk about the Green Party vision for this country, the video of Jill Stein’s speech is right after the jump.
Continue Reading »

Political Nihilism

by lizard

The Obama administration has me contemplating political nihilism.

According to one definition of nihilism, that means I’m wondering if conditions in the social organization are so bad as to make destruction desirable for its own sake independent of any constructive program or possibility.

Supreme Court appointments. That’s one reason, I’ve been told, that reelecting president Obama is important.

But a recent SCOTUS ruling in favor of strip searching anyone arrested for anything, even minor offenses, and without just cause, was SUPPORTED by the administration, so based on that I’d say it’s doubtful any appointments from Obama 2.0 will inch the rightward drift back to the left.

It should also be pointed out that this ruling will send a clear message to the nastier elements of the police state that activists already getting their asses kicked can be subjected to borderline sexual assault for illegal camping, or whatever bullshit infraction “law enforcement” will invoke to jail those who dare address, with direct action, the obscene inequity late stage crony capitalism is producing.

Another staple of Democrat justification for keeping their team in power is the supposed commitment to the role of government in providing regulatory oversight to ensure standards are enforced for public safety. It’s the other side, they say, who want to gut regulations.

Ralph Nader says otherwise.

I know I know, Ralph fucking Nader, slayer of Al Gore and perpetual curmudgeon hoisted up by Dem loyalists as the ultimate cautionary tale of straying from the pack.

But is he wrong?

When I think about not getting regulation right, and by right I mean CORRECT, I think nuclear energy.

And then I think about Japan.

And because that’s kind of terrifying to think too much about, I try to distract myself, like watching Mad Men for example.

And then I see commercials like this, during the break, and just shake my head.

O yes, Don Draper would be proud.

Personally, I’ve pulled almost all my investment in our political system out, and placed it elsewhere. But that’s my choice, and I don’t want that choice to infringe on those who still invest their time and energy to the political process, no matter how heated our disagreements may get.

Jon Tester may lose, the senate may fall, and it’s within the realm of possibility that Mitt Romney, the worst candidate ever, could unseat president Obama.

If all that happens, the worst that will happen is the drift will pick up speed. At the rate we’re already going, with all of us complicit in ways we probably don’t want to change, it’s probably already too late to turn back.

Do what you can from where you stand. There is no promise of tomorrow.

by lizard

April is National Poetry Month, and I’ve been writing a weekly poetry series here at 4&20 for well over a year, so below the fold I have included a cumulative list of all my poetry posts, going back (in descending order) to my first post in September of 2010.

Before all that, my book scavenging has turned up another little gem. I found Journey To Bocay (Laughing Dog Press) by Serena Cosgrove, at Bird’s Nest Books. It’s a collection of poems derived from the author’s two years (1986-1988) volunteering for Witness for Peace, in Nicaragua. Here are two selections:

17 November 1987

I lie listening.
The Kininuwas River flows by the house.
Dogs, goats, ducks, and chickens sleep
below my hammock.
The putt-putt of a small plane engine
rouses Antonio.
“Contra plane
dropping off supplies.”


5 January 1988

I’m tired
tired of the war
tired of tension
tired of expecting attack night after night
tired of the continual fear of losing friends.
I shake myself.
Wake up Serena!
This is the goal of U.S. policy.


more poetry, click here: Continue Reading »

by lizard

Terrorists are bad.

I mean like really, really bad.

They blow up buildings and airplanes and hate our way of life. To keep us safe from them, entire nations have been invaded and occupied; brutalized and subjugated.

If we are to believe our own leaders and institutions, like the president, state department, and congress, the material support of terrorism is a lethal transgression—national sovereignty of our allies and constitutionally guaranteed rights of American citizens to due process be damned!

Ok, so let’s water-board Howard Dean and put Rudy Guliani in a stress position for 24 hours straight because of their paid-for advocacy of the state-department designated terrorist group, MEK.

It gets worse.

Seymour Hersh has a piece up at the New Yorker linking JSOC training sessions in Nevada of MEK members to involvement in dead Iranian scientists:

Five Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated since 2007. M.E.K. spokesmen have denied any involvement in the killings, but early last month NBC News quoted two senior Obama Administration officials as confirming that the attacks were carried out by M.E.K. units that were financed and trained by Mossad, the Israeli secret service. NBC further quoted the Administration officials as denying any American involvement in the M.E.K. activities.

So how many people involved with this terrorist organization need to be arrested to make us safe?

Tom Ridge, Homeland Security advisor Frances Fragos Townsend, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, UN ambassador John Bolton; as well as former Republican Mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani; former Democratic governors Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Howard Dean of Vermont; ex-FBI Director Louis Freeh; and retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Hugh Shelton.

The squeeze on Iran is relentless, and Israel is getting closer and closer to doing something really stupid.

And Germany is playing an ironic role in helping facilitate Israel’s capability to instigate a nuclear holocaust by selling a few more submarines.

Toward that latter point, it appears poetry can still be scandalous, even if it’s not the best verse.

Below the fold is a poem published this week by the German writer, Gunter Grass. There are easy ways to attack this writer, and the poem isn’t the greatest (in terms of craft) but it’s a noteworthy attempt of a writer trying to reconcile a past holocaust that targeted mostly Jews to the facilitation of a possible future holocaust if Germany sells Israel more submarines. Continue Reading »


James Conner over at Flathead Memo has a nice analysis of polling numbers in the Tester/Rehberg race. He also mentions that Tester is leading the money battle:

“…Tester’s trailing in the polls while leading in campaign contributions suggests that something fundamental is amiss with his campaign.”

It just takes a quick trip over to Open Secrets to see who has been funding Jon Tester’s Senate campaign. In the top 20 list of contributors to his campaign, outside of #1 being the LCV, the rest are a motley crew of bankers, PR flaks, lawyers and lobbyists.

Something fundamentally amiss? Look no further than the businesses represented by his individual donors:

1 League of Conservation Voters $61,982
2 Thornton & Naumes $45,600
3 JPMorgan Chase & Co $45,000
4 Visa Inc $33,500
5 First Interstate BancSystem $29,000
6 WPP Group $26,000
7 Pederson Group $24,700
8 Comcast Corp $23,750
9 Wells Fargo $23,500
10 Cauthen, Forbes & Williams $20,800
11 Akin, Gump et al $20,732
12 Kelso & Co $20,000
13 TCF Financial $17,969
14 Patton Boggs LLP $17,500
15 Credit Union National Assn $17,000
16 US Bancorp $16,200
17 AFLAC Inc $16,000
18 Citigroup Inc $15,500
19 Williams Kherkher $15,250
20 Bergman, Draper & Frockt $15,150
31 American Express $12,500
33 Goldman Sachs $12,300
47 Bank of America $10,000

What’s amiss is that Senator Tester has spent his time in D.C. following in Max Baucus’ footsteps learning how to pander to Wall Street and other corporate interests to fluff his campaign coffers.

Of course his poll numbers are lagging. He’s representing the wrong constituency. As a contrast, Denny Rehberg’s top 20 list of contributors doesn’t contain a single Wall Street Bank.

What does candidate Tester expect his poll numbers to reflect, when his primary campaign contributors come from the constituency most detested by democrat and independent voters?

by Pete Talbot

I’m on my quarterly visit to the Magic City, which always gives me pause for reflection.

Consider this a sort of stream of consciousness open thread.

Things are booming, relatively speaking, in Billings.  I tend to stay in the west end of town, with occasional visits to the Heights and Lockwood.  Construction, both commercial and residential, is on the upswing.  Miles-and-miles of ubiquitous six-foot-tall white plastic fence line 32nd Street West, separating the new subdivisions of apartments, condos and single-family homes.

The energy boom at the Bakken Play, and Wyoming coal and methane fields, is helping to fuel the Billings economy.  And when I tell the in-laws that I’m not all that excited about the Keystone XL Pipeline, well, I might as well be telling them I’m here for their guns.

I was told once that Billings got its nickname ‘Magic City’ because of its amazing economic growth from its early days as a little railroad town.  It was also mentioned, although not in the Chamber of Commerce brochures, that Billings has magically hung around through numerous boom-and-bust cycles, like the petroleum bust in the early 1960s.

We’ll see how the current boom treats Billings denizens in the not too distant future.

Since I’m a dead tree edition junkie, I read the Billings Gazette while I’m here.  It’s not that much larger than the Missoulian, which surprises me since Billings is about twice the size of Missoula.  As a matter of fact, the Sunday and Monday Billings papers had as many Missoulian bylines in them as Gazette bylines. Interesting.

A Sunday AP story that caught my eye was this one on Sen. Max Baucus gearing up for a 2014 re-election bid.  Good idea, Max, since you’re going to have a tough time raising any campaign money for this Senate race (snark).

To be honest, Max has done some good stuff lately: his work on the Rocky Mountain Front, his support of women’s health care and reproductive rights, his call for a quicker withdrawal from Afghanistan …

Not sure that cancels out the debacles of the deficit super committee he served on or health care committee he chaired, his earlier support of the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, his sh*t-eating grin as he stood next to George W. Bush during the signing of the tax breaks for millionaires bill …

So it disappointed when I read this line in the story:

“Baucus continues to be the main funder of the state party and its candidates, making a primary challenge nearly impossible for anyone seeking institutional support.”

Way to further democracy, state party and its candidates.

Rumors abound that Gov. Schweitzer is the logical candidate to challenge Baucus, although Schweitzer adamantly denies this.  It’s also common knowledge that Baucus and Schweitzer aren’t the best of buddies.  I’m not sure who I’d support in a Baucus/”Coal Cowboy” primary, though I’m leaning Schweitzer.  I know where Montana Cowgirl stands.  The comments there weren’t particularly kind toward Max, either, but then again, it is a rather Schweitzer-centric site.

Schweitzer is definitely more of a maverick and Montana loves a maverick.  Still, what I’d really like to see is someone who will dramatically shift the paradigm — call for the public financing of elections, reign in lobbyist influence, promote economic and environmental sustainability — someone to really shake things up.

So it’s always good to take the pulse of the Magic City.  As I’ve said for the umpteenth time, as Billings goes, politically, so goes the state of Montana.  Maybe the 2012 elections will give me some indication as to where Billings is headed but I don’t believe it’s ready to embrace any radically shifting paradigms as yet.

by lizard

I’m not sure if I’ve ever stated this explicitly, but I’m extremely Caucasian. I spent my 5th grade year through two years of college in Kansas. For most of that time I lived in Johnson County; Overland Park, to be specific.

It was a very affluent and Caucasian place to be. My family wasn’t at the high high end, but we had all the privileges of being in a “safe” place.

What I mean by “safe” is that, as a young white male teenager, when we fucked up like I did a few times, the chances of getting shot dead by cops was minimal to non-existent.

That’s kinda what I was getting at when I wrote this poem about the killing of Trayvon.

As white suburbanites we didn’t go into the city too much, except for a few raves in the later high school years. Maybe, if we had been in an unguarded moment in the city where the white/black ratio was much different, we might have been burned with gasoline like this kid, in Kansas City, which happened just last month.

That story, by the way, is making the rounds on right-wing blogs as the unfair counterbalance to the liberal media’s obsession with Trayvon’s killing. For those on the left, the Iraqi woman who was killed with the note GO BACK TO YOU’RE OWN COUNTRY, YOU’RE A TERRORIST left beside her corpse, is the counterbalance to the corporate media’s reluctance to amplify the terrorism many Muslims in America now experience, post-9/11.

As a privileged white kid I listened to lots of different music, including rap. When NWA came Straight Outta Compton, I was still in Middle School. Thanks to Tipper Gore’s stupid campaign to keep “bad” music from the clutches of minors by placing parental advisory sticker’s on CD’s, possession of this music became illicit, and therefore very popular.

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