Archive for June, 2012
Because comments can get buried, and in full fairness to Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg, I want to make sure readers see Van Valkenburg’s response to my most recent post on the Department of Justice (DOJ) civil rights investigation of the University of Montana/City of Missoula Police and the Missoula County Attorney’s office.
Van Valkenburg had attempted to comment yesterday evening, but wordpress wasn’t cooperative. I thank him for taking the time to recreate the lost response…along with sending all of his correspondence with the DOJ civil rights division.
Here are the letters, in chronological order:
The first letter from the DOJ to the Missoula County Board of County Commissioners (undated, but referred to as May 1, 2012)
The third letter is Van Valkenburg’s first written response to the DOJ request for information. Dated May 14, 2012.
This forth letter, from the DOJ to Van Valkenburg, is dated May 23, 2012. It responds to Van Valkenburg’s May 14th letter, but erroneously refers to it as the May 4, 2012 letter – that information from Van Valkenburg.
The fifth letter, dated May 25, 2012 is Van Valkenburg’s second response to the DOJ. Van Valkenburg challenges some of the DOJ’s basis’ for the investigation, including their search for information related to the county attorney’s office role as law enforcement officer.
On May 29, 2012, the DOJ reiterates its request for documents in this letter. It includes an attachment listing what they are requesting, and notifies Van Valkenburg that the DOJ will be in Missoula near the first of July to discuss the investigation.
This June 6, 2012 letter from the DOJ is in specific response to Van Valkenburg’s May 25th letter. The DOJ answers Van Valkenburg’s two challenges to their authority over the county prosecutor’s office, and states that they “will not repeat the position that we have articulated in prior correspondence and believe that it adequately advises you of the basis of our jurisdiction.”
In his third letter, dated June 25, 2012, Van Valkenburg responds, informing the DOJ once again that he is still unconvinced of their authority, but note that he and his office “will continue gathering the information you have asked for in previous letters in the event you change course and either provide me with sufficient legal authority for an investigation or you accept my offer to work together cooperatively in the absence of any threats of litigation, we will not be providing such information at this time to you, Ms. Mondino or anyone else in your office.”
Oh – let me say right off I know that some people are going to find this controversial. What I will say is that an informed citizen reads news from multiple sources and parses that information for the real truth and bigger picture.
I also know I can always use pointers on my research and (what little an anonymous blogger can do) investigation skills. I think it’s great that this Montana Watchdog and the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity sponsored event is open to everyone.
Both orgs there are right-leaning (I don’t think either would deny that) – but in the end, regardless of where we bloggers are coming from, basics are basics.
And you know? Back in the old days, we all used to talk to each other..left and right. With that all said, I thank Phil Drake of Montana Watchdog for sending over the invite for everyone:
HELENA – The Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, along with Montana Watchdog, invites all bloggers and the general public to a “citizen watchdog” event July 14 that focuses on online news and open government.
The Franklin Center will provide a full day of in-depth training to equip bloggers and citizens with the tools and skills to become a more effective activist and citizen watchdog. Participants will learn how to use investigative reporting skills, how to impact the state and local government budgeting process, and how to advance your message through social media.
The nonpartisan event is an opportunity for discussion and mingling among bloggers and citizens from throughout the state.
There will be an opportunity to ask questions.
Lunch is included in the $10 registration fee. Seating is limited and advance registration is required.
The event runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Red Lion Colonial Hotel, 2301 Colonial Drive in Helena.
To register, go to: http://citizenwatchdoghelena.eventbrite.com/
If you have questions, contact Watchdog editor Phil Drake at firstname.lastname@example.org or (406) 442-4561.
Well, the cat’s out of the bag. By a 5-4 vote the SCOTUS largely upheld Obamacare, including the mandate to purchase private insurance.
Consider this an open thread to post your thoughts on both the bill, the case, and the odd political meaning behind Chief Justice Roberts’ being the swing vote. There are stories all over the web as everybody is casting this story in some way to support their take on health care and politics.
What do I have to say? Well, it’s no secret I’ve hated the individual mandate to purchase private insurance. In fact, I’ve equated it with just another step in the fascistization of America. You can read what I had to say about Obamacare almost 3 years ago, pointing to the IRS tax as being its saving grace, as Chief Justice Roberts just ruled. But my opinion is not the important one today, and I have accepted that there is some good in the bill. Inevitably, though, I come back to hating to have to swallow Baucus’ bitter pill in order to get the meager reforms that currently enjoy popularity.
While I’ve been committed to single payer from the get-go, there are still some avenues in Obamacare that offer some interesting alternative approaches to health care insurance, particularly the cooperative model, which is being aggressively pursued in Montana.
NBC KECI news reported last night that Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg is refusing to cooperate with the Department of Justice investigation into the handling of rape and sexual assaults by the University of Montana, the city police and the Missoula County Attorney’s office.
You’ll remember that Mr. Van Valkenburg was “deeply disturbed” over the investigation when the DOJ came knocking back in May.
Some of you might be familiar with Sheriff Arpaio and his latest civil rights violation? The arrest of a 6-year old which also violated a Presidential executive order?
Most Montanan’s probably don’t realize the connection that both Fred Valkenburg and Joe Arpaio have..and if history is any indicator, Mr. Van Valkenburg might want to reconsider his relection bid for Missoula County Attorney in 2014.
First off, remember Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice? Not only is he heading up the civil rights investigation into the University of Montana/Missoula rape and sexual assaults – announced May 1st – he’s the same guy who’s been investigating Sheriff Joe Arpaio since 2008 for civil rights violations. That’s back when George Bush Jr. was president.
Small world, huh?
In that investigation, Perez has recently filed suit against Arpaio’s department for a “pattern of unlawful discrimination” by law enforcement officials.
Leading up to that – keeping in mind the DOJ has been down in Maricopa County since 2008 – Perez has dealt with a very uncooperative Sheriff Joe Arpaio, having to sue the guy into cooperation. The New York Times reported “Obama administration officials called the suit the first time in 30 years that the federal government had to sue to compel a law enforcement agency to cooperate with an investigation concerning Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
Looks like Fred Van Valkenburg is gearing up for the same sort of lawsuit – and one has to wonder just how much his bloviating reticence is costing the taxpayers. Not only that, what does he have to hide?
Why wouldn’t an attorney cooperate with the deputy of the highest law officer in the United States?
Is this how a county attorney should behave? Why should I, for example, cooperate with Fred Van Valkenburg if he came knocking? Is this really the example of a county attorney that we want here in Missoula? In Montana?
And again – Where in the world is Montana’s Attorney General Steve Bullock on this DOJ civil rights investigation? Doesn’t Montana have civil rights laws?
I’ve also always been told that a county attorney is also a deputy of the state’s attorney general. If that is the case, what does Bullock have to say about Van Valkenburg’s lack of cooperation?
And consider that last April Fred Van Valkenburg welcomed the feds into town as they came in a attacked the state’s medical marijuana laws.
Add him to that hypocrite tag, I guess.
Per the KECI report (make sure to watch, as Fred is in fine form whining about how he’s not going to be bullied) reporter Will Wadley waves around letters from both Van Valkenburg and the Department of Justice. Kind of a shame that he doesn’t link them on line. It’s not like they were one liners – he shows multiple pages with lots of little words and legal arguments. Would be nice if KECI would share that with the general public. I kind of think Fred’s letter would be quite interesting. Let’s see the guy’s defense.
Hell – Maybe Fred should put his response to the DOJ up on his website. Inquiring taxpayers want to know!
Still, Wadley breaks a good story – and I’m glad to have seen it. Frankly, I hope the national media picks up on it, too.
For Missoulians? This is your tax dollars at work. It’s also your vote at work, since Van Valkenburg is an elected official, accountable to the voters.
We’re in for a long haul folks – I’ve had numerous conversations and most people seem to be operating on an assumption that we’re going to seem some resolution to this investigation sometime in the near future – the end of summer…soon. If history is any lesson here, Perez is going to be coming to Missoula for many many visits…and with Van Valkenburg pulling an Arpaio on the whole DOJ investigation, the DOJ is going to be at it for years.
Missoulian reporter Jenna Cederberg has her report on Van Valkenburg’s refusal to cooperate with the DOJ. Her story includes links to the letters between Van Valkenburg and the DOJ.
The Missoulian confirmed what I heard yesterday—that a young man, Nicholas Rivera, was hit and killed by a train over the weekend during the Love Your Mother Earth festival.
I’ve also heard unconfirmed reports of police seeking a man who was rumored to have drugged and sexually assaulted several minors during the weekend-long music festival.
This annual event celebrated its 6th year, and if it wants to make it to year 7, the organizers have their work cut out for them, because from the accounts I’ve been hearing, this year it was a drugged-out disaster.
I went to my shelves this week with no idea what to pick, and pulled at random. After a few false starts, I grabbed a copy of Patricia Goedicke’s The Tongues We Speak (Milkweed Editions, 1989).
I love Patricia’s work, and constantly kick myself that I never took a class when I had the chance.
Patricia passed in 2006. The Washington Post’s obit is worth reading. I didn’t realize, for example, that Patricia
“…studied under W.H. Auden and Robert Frost, won a Rockefeller Foundation residency at the Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio, Italy, a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship and the William Carlos Williams prize for poetry from New Letters magazine.”
Here’s the poem that jumped out at me. Enjoy! Continue Reading »
Jim Brown, a Dillon attorney, chief legal council for the Montana Republican Party and executive board member, and legal representative for American Tradition Partnership is pretty proud of his defeat of Montana’s 100 year old ban on corporate funding of elections here in Montana – here he is boasting on Bozeman’s once-and-future state representative JP Pomnichowski’s facebook page:
Brown’s a hypocrite. Just like a lot of stuff we saw from the big government GOP this last session in the Montana state capitol, Brown is proud of his role undermining Montana’s constitution, yet back in May he whined about a commissioner of political practices ruling which allows parties to spend an unlimited amount of cash on staff and other similar services towards a candidates campaign.
Sounds to me like Brown takes all this election law stuff as some sort of game to be won (or lost), regardless of the consequences. Bad for him to lose at the commission of political practices when it involves unlimited money, but somehow great for everyone when it involves the U.S. Supreme Court allowing unlimited corporate money.
It’s good to see how clearly the Montana Republic Party positioned itself with regards to undermining Montana’s constitutional ban on corporate funding of elections. It’s chief legal counsel representing the party which sued the state on election law?
Republicans around these parts want to preach and lecture and champion the constitution, yet they’ve no respect for Montana’s. History means nothing, and our forefathers tonight are spinning in their graves.
While the Copper King zombies start plotting their return to state and national politics.
Government is FUBAR, people. FUBAR.
The Montana GOP? Disgraceful.
by Pete Talbot
Voting the same way they did on Citizens United (5-4), U.S. Supreme Court Justices overturned Montana’s century-old ban on corporate contributions to campaigns.
So, corporations are still people and money still equals free speech: the more money you have the more free speech you get.
The Copper Kings were the reason Montanans voted to ban corporate political spending in 1912. Since my writing skills aren’t quite up to Mark Twain’s, here’s a quote of his from the Washington Post article:
… Twain wrote of one such mining giant in 1907, Sen. William Clark, “He is said to have bought legislatures and judges as other men buy food and raiment. By his example he has so excused and so sweetened corruption that in Montana it no longer has an offensive smell.”
This ruling is depressing but not surprising. I could go on-and-on but since it’s Monday and I have a lot on my plate, consider this an open thread.
US foreign policy probably won’t have much influence on the elections in November, unless something “dramatic” happens. If one only watched mainstream news, you might get the sense that America’s two ground wars are winding down, and are seamlessly being replaced with a style of warfare that leaves fewer footprints–special ops, drone strikes and cyber attacks. While that may be generally accurate, US foreign policy is as pernicious as ever.
Regarding the latter method mentioned, cyber attacks, America is already at war with Iran (NYT):
From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyberweapons, according to participants in the program.
Mr. Obama decided to accelerate the attacks — begun in the Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games — even after an element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it around the world on the Internet. Computer security experts who began studying the worm, which had been developed by the United States and Israel, gave it a name: Stuxnet.
Oops, they did it again, those coy American warmongers.
Make no mistake about it, according to our own government’s definition, cyber attacks are acts of war (the guardian; May 31st, 2011):
The US government is rewriting its military rule book to make cyber-attacks a possible act of war, giving commanders the option of launching retaliatory military strikes against hackers backed by hostile foreign powers.
The Pentagon has concluded that the laws of armed conflict can be widened to embrace cyberwarfare in order to allow the US to respond with the use of force against aggressive assaults on its computer and IT infrastructure.
The move, to be unveiled in a US department of defence strategy document next month, is a significant step towards the militarisation of cyberspace, with huge implications for international law.
Bah! Technicalities! Certainly not something for the bewildered American electorate to worry about as Summer heats up.
Take for example if/when people hear about the coup in Paraguay that’s been happening since Friday, what will they think? Just another leftist who had it coming? Because that’s what “Washington” thinks.
from the link:
A coup d’etat is taking place right now, Friday afternoon, in Paraguay.
That is how it has been described by a number of neighboring governments. And the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) is treating it as such, taking it very seriously. All 12 foreign ministers (including those of Brazil and Argentina, who are deeply concerned) flew to Asunción Thursday night to meet with the government, as well as the opposition in Paraguay’s Congress.
The Congress of Paraguay is trying to oust the president, Fernando Lugo, by means of an impeachment proceeding for which he was given less than 24 hours to prepare and only two hours to present a defense. It appears that a decision to convict him has already been written, and will be presented Friday evening (at 20.30 GMT). It would be impossible to call this due process under any circumstances, but it is also a clear violation of Article 17 of Paraguay’s constitution, which provides for the right to an adequate defense.
Hmmm, troubling if you’re pro-democracy, which thankfully the Obama administration is not, because when it comes to the despised left getting traction in Latin America, Obama has proven himself a willing slave to the imperial mindset.
more context from the guardian piece:
Lugo’s election was one of many across South America – Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay, Peru, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador – in which left governments were elected over the past 14 years, changing the political geography of the hemisphere. With that, came increasing political unity on regional issues – especially in confronting the United States, which had previously prevented left governments from coming to power or governing.
So, it is not surprising to see the immediate and urgent response by South American countries to this coup attempt, which they see as a threat to their democracies. UNASUR Secretary General Ali Rodriguez insisted Lugo must be given “due process” and the right to defend himself. President Rafael Correa of Ecuador said that UNASUR could refuse to recognize the next government – in accordance with a democracy clause in UNASUR’s charter.
Correa was also one of the staunchest opponents of the coup three years ago in Honduras, which ousted democratic left President Mel Zelaya. Honduras continues to suffer from extreme violence, including the murder of journalists and political opponents, under the regime that was established under the coup.
Zelaya’s ouster was a turning point for relations between the US and Latin America, as governments including Brazil and Argentina, which had previously hoped that President Obama would depart from the policies of his predecessor were rudely disappointed. The Obama administration made conflicting statements about the Honduras coup, and then – in opposition to the rest of the hemisphere – did everything it could to make sure that the coup succeeded. This included blocking, within the OAS, efforts by South American nations to restore democracy in Honduras. At the latest Summit of the Americas, Obama – in contrast to the summit of early 2009 – was as isolated as his predecessor George W Bush had been.
The Obama administration has responded to the current crisis in Paraguay with a statement in support of due process. Perhaps, they have learned something from Honduras and will not actively oppose efforts by South America to support democracy this time. And certainly, South America will not allow Washington to hijack any mediation process, if there is one – as Hillary Clinton did with the OAS in Honduras. But Washington may still play its traditional role by assuring the opposition that the new government will have support, including financial and military, from Washington. We will watch what happens.
Yeah, that, or Jersey Shore. It’s a tough call.
I’m more sophisticated than that.
I watch Mad Men.
No, it stands for Additional Dwelling Unit, and while that may not sound like something controversial, it most certainly is—just ask your city council representative.
The bigger question ADU’s bring up is how to grow in a valley with finite space to develop: sprawl, or density. To think about this, I’d like to offer a little example of infill development that doesn’t seem very well thought out.
This example includes pictures, so if this issue interests you, please click for more. Continue Reading »
Because there’s no need for that to occur, thanks to the Missoulian.
I am, admittedly, a little late with this.
Get your GO here.
After cold and rain dousing us right up to the solstice, the real heat of the season has finally set in.
Today was a beautiful day in Missoula!
I biked my youngest downtown this evening for Out to Dinner at Caras Park. It was glorious.
A quick stop for cash became an opportunity for me to thank the Wells Fargo workers for diverting foot traffic from the broken ATM machine to the drive thru windows. They were busting ass to get the job done at the end of the day, unlike those at the top of the corporate scheme they slog away in service to.
I biked by a large Steve Daines sign, touting his ridiculous slogan:
MORE JOBS, LESS GOVERNMENT
Less government means less jobs. More jobs is obviously the private sector—will it make up the difference? Less government jobs means less consumer demand, which discourages hiring.
Seriously, will the private sector make up the difference? Why should they?
Whatever, the sun shined brilliantly today. Summer is here. It’s time to swim in the Blackfoot.
And it’s time for music, preferably live and outside, but for the purpose of this post, please enjoy a great song from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes’ new album, Here:
Wish I would have come across this sooner, and raised some hell. Following up on a link provided by feralcatoffreedom in a comment yesterday, I discovered the controversy surrounding Montana Attorney General (and Dem gubernatorial candidate) Steve Bullock was not doing all he could to secure victory in his defense of Montana’s near century-old Montana Corrupt Practices Act against corporate campaign
In the wake of the infamous Citizen’s United ruling, American Trade Partnerships (founded by former MT republican congressman Ron Marlenee) sued the State of Montana to vacate the state’s Supreme Court ruling upholding the Corrupt Practices Act. They lost that suit in a 5-2 decision. ATP then asked the Supreme Court of the US to overturn the Montana Supreme Court ruling.
Steve Bullock, as Montana Attorney General, has been the lead attorney defending Montana’s Corrupt Practices Act against ATP and Citizen’s United. That case currently is being considered by the SCOTUS, but it seems that Bullock’s refusal to use a particularly important defense — 11th Amendment sovereign state immunity — does not square with his proclamations to be doing all he can to defend Montana in this most critical of lawsuits that could open the way for states to protect themselves from the onslaught of corporate political money.
As is being tracked by many courts and 11th amendment advocates, it is a mystery why Bullock has refused to invoke the state’s 11th Amendment sovereign immunity against being sued by a corporation or individual in federal court. This case could easily be won by Montana asserting its Constitutional rights. Many folks are raising this issue at the last minute, as the SCOTUS will decide soon, if not already, how it will proceed with this case.
“According to a report published on Saturday by Russell Mokhiber in the well-established Washington, D.C. newsletter, Corporate Crime Reporter, Attorney General Bullock’s office told a lawyer who filed an amicus ”friend-of-the-court” brief in support of Montana that the attorney general is refusing to assert Montana’s 11th Amendment constitutional sovereign immunity from suit because it is feared that the immunity argument could actually win the case.”
So Bullock is being accused of pulling back because he doesn’t actually want to win the case. Incredible. And this is the man who wants to be the next Governor of Montana? If the Montana Supreme Court case is overturned by the SCOTUS, based on an ineffective — and possibly sabotaged — defense, it will go poorly for the dems and their candidate.
This case is the only current hope that any effective defense against Citizen’s United can be raised by the states until the Constitution can be amended to reverse it. Why the hell isn’t the dem gubernatorial candidate doing all he can to win it? Guess he took the 5th, says his PR flaks:
“We have filed our brief. We don’t intend to make any commentary until after the Supreme Court decides how it will proceed.”
Un-frickin’ unbelievable. Especially if the SCOTUS decides to do a summary reversal, meaning they undo the Montana Court’s decision, and refuse to hear the case. By then it is too late to raise the 11th Amendment jurisdictional issue. And Montana’s Corrupt Practices Act fades into history.
One would think that publisher of the Indy might have gotten a clue to not be so condescending to George Ochenski, or to its (declining) readership. In a Publisher’s Note the Indy released last week, they couldn’t help but take one more punch at both.
“Last week, our preparations led to the end of our long, productive relationship with political columnist George Ochenski. George was a favorite of disaffected Montanans because he derided all those in power with equal contempt.”
Well, some of those people who read Ochenski may have been disaffected. But a lot of people read him for his insight into the intersection of politics and policy. Not all of the people — by a long shot — who read him are disaffected. And to intimate it to be so is an attempt to marginalize Ochenski and his readership, and the widely-acknowledged importance (from all political spectrums) of his voice to the debate.
I actually believe that Ochenski’s move to the Missoulian in the long run will be a good thing as his writings will get greater distribution to a far wider audience that needs to hear what he has to say, and I daresay that most of conservative and independent Montanans are anything but disaffected.
And to pan Ochenski’s writings as derisive and contemptuous is such a laughable generalization, that again, the Indy seems to be doing nothing more than sugar-coating their decision to rid themselves of what they seem to view as nothing more than a gadfly.
And to top it all off, the whole kerfuffle has boiled over to Counterpunch in the article “the Decline of Independent Weeklies” (an excerpt out of Corporate Crime Reporter) that lizard so helpfully pointed out yesterday.
“Alternative weekly newspapers used to be crusading vehicles against corporate power and crime. The remaining ones now have morphed into consumer guides for the young corporate class answering such pressing questions as – Who Has the Best Strawberry Daiquiri in Town? How did this happen? Well, let’s take a case in point – the Missoula Independent.”
Yes, the Indy is slowly being reduced to nothing more than “consumer guides for the young corporate class.” And that was born out oh, so well by the absence of two “Up Front” columns, with two full pages of ads in their places.
Much more in the Counterpunch excerpt from the CCR’s interview with Ochenski. And the print version has much more, or so the article says. If anyone has access to the print version, please let us in on any other tidbits that may be revealed.
Note: sorry about the scattered updates of this post. I accidentally hit “post” instead of save draft, and all my edits were live… oops.
This post was updated.
Tonight I sit with two very different pieces of writing, both which leave me with a “did they really say that” feeling. For now, I think, we’ll go with Ms. Pabst’s blog.
In her personal blog on an undated post, Kirsten H. Pabst, of Pabst Law Office takes on the Missoulian with a post titled Why Reporters Should be Elected Officials.
No link, sorry. Ms. Pabst has now removed the post.
Do make sure to hit that link, because I strongly suspect that it will soon disappear.
Really? Let’s absorb that concept a moment: Reporters should be elected officials.
The logic behind her reasoning is that reporters “are apparently accountable to no one.”
Elected officials are the ones who should bring us news because they are “elected, represent the populous and operate within a time-honored system of checks and balances.”
She cites the example of an elected mayor – that “when enough of us disagree with his job performance, we elect another one. If he violates the law, there are legal avenues available to hold him accountable.”
Apparently a mayor – because he is elected – is better to report the news because (a) we can get rid of him if we don’t like him and (b) – right in her own words – “there are legal avenues available to hold him accountable.”
I had no idea journalism operated in its a vacuum where the law does not apply to it. According to Ms. Pabst, journalism lacks “checks and balances.”
Yep. Tell that to Rupert Murdock.
All of this is based on what she calls the “Missoulian’s campaign to make the people of Missoula believe we are in the midst of a sexual crisis to frighten people into buying papers.”
The great “Let’s Make Missoula Look Like Shit” conspiracy that all newspapers do, and is is oh-so-good for the guys in the advertising department.
According to Ms. Pabst – and you know, I do want to hope that she is right because we’d all be better off –
Without getting into inappropriate detail, I assure you that the foundation for the string of ‘sexual scandal’ articles is not based in fact. The unfortunate reality is that the officials in charge of setting the record straight have their hands tied by the Montana Confidential Criminal Justice Information Act. When the police and prosecutors decline to file charges against a suspect, all of the facts—especially the identities of the parties—are legally sealed. The reason for this rule is obvious: when there is not enough evidence to file charges against someone, the accused person remains legally innocent and they should not be subjected to public humiliation unless there is proof of wrongdoing.
Well – it’s hard to argue with that, certainly – but does it not have the faint sound of that darned “student code of conduct” that President Royce Engstrom hides the university’s felons behind?
One has to wonder why a the former (Ms. Pabst left her position with the county just this past March) chief deputy county attorney for Missoula County’s criminal division is able to call out the Missoulian for reporting….facts….while ignoring University of Montana Royce Engstrom publicly admitting that a rapist escaped…or that he has removed (8) students from campus after his own independent investigation revealed enough evidence to merit expulsion.
Aren’t there laws about hiding felons? Criminals? What the hell is obstruction of justice?
And just where are those 8 expelled students living now? On Garfield Street? River Road? Hellgate Meadows?
Every defendant is entitled competent representation, that I don’t deny. But as Don Pogreba of Intelligent Discontent points out below in the comments, Ms.Pabst has an inherent conflict which isn’t apparent in her private manifesto on journalism: Ms. Pabst – while still the county’s chief deputy attorney for the criminal division – testified on behalf of a student accused of sexual assault during a university hearing.
I read this kind of elitist “our mayor is better qualified to report the news” stuff I just shake my head. Here is someone who had operated in the realm of enforcing laws openly lamenting the facts – not disputing them – while ignoring those that obstruct justice.
When you couple that with the author being a lawyer who also seems to think that journalism operates in a vacuum outside the rule of law, I’ma gonna say it’s hard to take serious at all.
After mentioning the connection between William Butler Yeats and the infamous Aleister Crowley, I decided to take a little trip down the virtual rabbit hole for this week’s poetry series.
The Golden Dawn is the mystic order both men were members of. Yeats went on to become a cornerstone of Modern English poetry. Crowley, on the other hand, if he’s known at all, is often seen as some practitioner of satanism.
Beyond the misinformation usually associated with Aleister Crowley lies a fascinating figure. For example, it might come as a surprise to learn that Crowley was a notable mountain climber:
The first serious attempt to climb K2 was undertaken in 1902 by Oscar Eckenstein and Aleister Crowley, via the Northeast Ridge. In the early 1900s, modern transportation did not exist: It took “fourteen days just to reach the foot of the mountain”. After five serious and costly attempts, the team reached 6,525 metres (21,407 ft) — although considering the difficulty of the challenge, and the lack of modern climbing equipment or weatherproof fabrics, Crowley’s statement that “neither man nor beast was injured” highlights the pioneering spirit and bravery of the attempt. The failures were also attributed to sickness (Crowley was suffering the residual effects of malaria)…
In a Telegraph piece written a few years ago, Jake Arnott puts it like this:
Aleister Crowley is the archetypal villain in 20th-century fiction. Larger than life, he personified the extreme fears and disturbing desires of a new age. Poet, chess master, mountaineer, sexual adventurer, cult leader, spy, magician: all these achievements have faded. What remains is an unforgettable creature of the imagination. The “Great Beast 666”, as he was known, was never that bad, but he possessed a seductive horror that enchanted many of the most important writers of his generation. His own literary ambitions were never realised; his legacy is as a character, or rather a series of them.
WB Yeats first met him in 1899 as a fellow initiate in the Order of the Golden Dawn, a fashionable mystical society. The young Beast became indignant when the older poet appeared to snub him. “What hurt him was the knowledge of his own incomparable inferiority,” Crowley was later to comment. When a bitter schism divided the Golden Dawn, they found themselves on opposite sides, issuing curses, magical spells and even threats of violence.
Nevertheless, they shared an artistic temperament. Both sought to infuse modern verse with an occult sensibility and had apocalyptic visions for the coming century. And, though clearly the better poet, Yeats remained intimidated by the Beast’s demonic prowess. “The Second Coming” (1920) has a depiction of the Antichrist with the unmistakable silhouette of his old adversary: “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last.”
Yeats’ The Second Coming is a powerful poem, absorbing and projecting the horrors of 20th century violence propelled to apocalyptic scale.
And Crowley? He chose instead to embody corporal excess in a manner the sensibilities of his time found abhorrent, though he would have been right at home as the sixties ramped up, as Jimmy Page lead Led Zeppelin down the dark path and the Beatles popped Crowley into their Sgt. Pepper’s pantheon.
(oh, and would you believe there’s a not totally implausible chance Aleister Crowley was the father of the Bush matriarch, Barbara (Pierce) Bush?)
I’m about 200% certain that Rehberg’s calendar is going to open up, but for now, he’s claiming scheduling conflict. I tend to think that if your campaign commits you, you’re obligated to attend.
For now, though, Sunday’s senatorial debate, sponsored by the Montana Broadcasters Association will go on without Rehberg in attendance . He apparently has something more important to do.
Like this, perhaps?
The original story I caught Friday has been updated some – but the basic story reads that the Montana Broadcasting Association confirmed the date and time with his campaign seven months ago.
And then again in February, March and May.
Rehberg’s camp isn’t using the word “liar” for Greg MacDonald, President of the Montana Broadcasters Association – but they are saying this:
“The claims being made by Greg MacDonald, the President of the Montana Broadcasters Association, are completely false. And despite repeated requests, MacDonald has refused to provide any evidence of his claims because it simply does not exist.”
Note that article says that he “will not be able to attend.” Today’s story has him claiming that he “was never formally invited.”
My question – does a radio broadcast of this debate bother Rep. Rehberg? You’d think he’d be all over an opportunity to reach out to voters – live – across the entire state.
I say fine – who wants to hear him anyways. Let Senator Tester and Libertarian Dan Cox talk issues.
I believe it’ll be all that more interesting with only two candidates involved.
And finally? In the end, where does this settle out? Rehberg being unable to hire competent staff? Rehberg being unable to prioritize a few debates into his schedule? I mean – seriously – a week and a half out from a Sunday morning debate during one of the nation’s most hotly contested senate races and Rehberg can’t adjust his schedule for a debate?
What else is a subdivision rancher running for office doing on a Sunday morning 150 days before election? Heading up to the lake for a weekend boat ride?
by Pete Talbot
The tackiest thing I ever saw at a Montana Democratic Party Convention, and I’ve been to a bunch of them, was a little dog that had Judy Martz written on a tag hanging from its collar. It was sitting in a woman’s lap. This was from Gov. Martz’ famous line, “I’ll be a lapdog for industry.”
Classy? Probably not. Amusing? Yeah, somewhat.
Compared to the bullet-laden outhouse referred to as the Obama Presidential Library that is gracing the Montana Republican Party Convention here in Missoula, the little lapdog gag seems pretty innocent.
Also included in the outhouse were a fake Obama birth certificate stamped “Bullshit” and “For a Good Time call 800-Michelle (crossed out), Hillary (crossed out) and Pelosi (circled in red.)”
Even party chairman Will Deschamps said, “Some of that stuff is not real good taste” — although he went on to say, “It’s not something I’m going to agonize over” and dismissed it as “a sideshow.” Who are these people?
Is the general public even paying attention? It keeps clamoring for bipartisanship in our elected officials. How do you compromise with people like that? I sure hope the voters remember this crap when they go to the polls in November.
UPDATES: John Adams at The Lowdown, has more detail, and photos, of the scene outside the GOP convention.
Adams also reports that Montana Republicans removed the “homosexuality is a crime” plank from their platform although their support for “traditional marriage” remains in the language. This is still a smart move if the party wants to attract younger voters into the fold. Kudos for bucking the far right on this controversial, for the GOP anyway, plank.
When I hear the term sustainable development, I don’t think of a nefarious secret agenda seeking to enact global control over the world’s population.
But last January, thanks to the very vocal opposition of a few concerned citizens to Missoula’s membership to the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, we humble citizens of Missoula can’t say we weren’t warned.
For a bit more context to this nefarious plot, check out The Green Agenda:
Agenda 21 was the main outcome of the United Nation’s Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Agenda 21 outlines, in detail, the UN’s vision for a centrally managed global society. This contract binds governments around the world to the United Nation’s plan for controlling the way we live, eat, learn, move and communicate – all under the noble banner of saving the earth. If fully implemented, Agenda 21 would have the government involved in every aspect of life of every human on earth.
The person most associated with the development of Agenda 21 is former under secretary general of the UN, Maurice Strong.
According to wikipedia, Strong “had his start as an entrepreneur in the Alberta oil patch and was president of Power Corporation of Canada until 1966.”
Sure, it may seem ridiculous to think an oilman would be a primary force behind a “sustainable development” conspiracy to destroy national sovereignty and enslave Americans, but it might be wise to refrain from knee-jerk dismissal and/or ridicule.
Why? Because fringe conspiracies aren’t as fringe as they use to be, as evidenced by Montana’s 2011 legislative session, where this bill urging the US to pull out of the UN actually took up taxpayer-funded time being formulated and introduced for—ahem—serious consideration (to be fair, there is nothing in that bill mentioning Agenda 21).
The influence of corporate funding for environmental groups is a serious problem, and part of that problem is how it fuels paranoid speculation from both ends of the political spectrum.
Here is another “article” I found, titled The Nature Conspiracy in Southeast Colorado, by Deanna Spingola. Here’s a snip:
Today, the Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA), created by the Rockefeller Family Fund in 1985, represents 225 foundations and is an affinity group of the Council on Foundations.  It is described by the American Land Rights Association (ALRA) as “a cartel of eco-money” that “lavishes millions on eco-agitators.” This “cartel,” through its “hundreds of millions” controls the environmental activist movement to carry out Agenda 21. Money is also appropriated through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to government schools to create an “environmentally literate public” to produce “a public that accepts the Green Gospel uncritically.” 
These conservation efforts appear noble! To conceal their agenda and gain public approval, corporations sedate the tax-poor public through influential tax-exempt foundations which finance non-profit groups that purportedly promote peace, health and conservation. Some people can see through the conservation charade. On October 13, 2006, Kimmi Lewis, Secretary of the Colorado Independent Cattle Grower’s Association pointed out that the Army and TNC are partners in this land and water seizure. A first step in this partnership is the establishment of buffer zones.
What started me digging around last night on this topic was a tweet from Roseanne Barr, who—if you didn’t know—announced her candidacy for the Green Party nomination for President last February.
Here’s an excerpt from the LA Times article:
In a campaign-announcement speech delivered in May 2010, Barr put out a more detailed three-step platform (read the speech here): First, make war illegal and legalize hemp (marijuana too). Second, change the demographics of government to include more women. Third, outlaw — how do we say this politely? — outlaw bull. Yes, that’s it. Outlaw bull.
“After the passage of this one law,” she said in the speech, “the Patriarchy will inevitably begin to crumble, as will the concept of War itself, which is largely a large load of,” well, bull.
Following Roseanne on twitter makes it hard to take her seriously. She’s a fan of conpiratianment charlatan, Alex Jones, who I really can’t stand, so I’ve been a bit weary of her judgement when it comes to understanding the issues she advocates for.
In the tweet I mentioned, Roseanne uses the hashtag #agenda21. The problem is that a well-meaning celebrity can take issues and amplify their prominence, and unfortunately Roseanne Barr is using her celebrity to spread the tangled propaganda lurking behind Agenda 21.
Like I said, I think dismissing those who believe in global conspiracies is a mistake. Conspiracy pimps like Glenn Beck and celebrities like Roseanne Barr have plenty of followers who take them seriously.
We can’t underestimate the depths of paranoia that are taking hold of our society.
When it comes to tangible Missoula publications, there are certainly more options than just the Indy(notreally) and the Missoulian.
I’d like to thank mamalode for a much appreciated laugh out loud moment (yeah, I spelled it out), which is very appropriate, considering the theme is humor.
The following exchange(s) comes courtesy Andrea Vallee and her daughter, Genevieve. Enjoy! Continue Reading »
I’m done trying to convince the Indy to take a high road. Hell, at this point, even a rocky muddy road would be something. On the other hand, lots of us need closure. So I’m closing it.
Here is the goodbye George column that the Indy should have written.
Dear Readers –
By now many of you have noticed – given the number of phone calls and emails that we’ve received – that 12 year award-winning political opinion columnist George Ochenski is no longer gracing the pages of the Missoula Independent. Montanans have benefited from reading his words on our pages for more than a decade – and from what we can discern, he’s gained a few fans along the way. We’ve heard that George has moved on – grabbing a weekly gig with the Missoulian. We truly wish him well.
Sometimes in life you find yourself wishing for a do-over. Especially in hindsight. This situation is certainly one that finds us in that position, if only to have handled George’s departure in a different way. Alas, there are no do-overs here. But there is moving forward.
The Missoula Independent values both our staff and our readers immensely – and we recognize it is those relationships which we need to mend. Our choice to not address this situation reflects on the impressions our readers have on the very thing thing the Indy does – writing a weekly independent newspaper. It takes a village to do a lot of things, and the Independent is no different – from our sales and advertising staff, to our copy staff, editorial staff, contributors, and writers – all are integral to the very proud and award-winning work that our readers have come to enjoy over the last 21 years.
Ultimately things most often work out for the better. We certainly hope that is true for both George and us. And while we can’t change the past what we can say, moving forward, is that the Missoula Independent will continue striving to bring Missoula and Montanans and its readers elsewhere writing that is important and truthful and relevant.
President Matt Gibson
Editor Robert Meyerowitz
Like I said – the column that never was.
Peace out, Indy.
You may think I’ve smoked too much Alaskan Thunderfuck when I say the President’s multi-state assault on Cannabis/Medicinal Marijuana could cost him big time in November.
The President Jim Messina has to make a decision about how to approach this topic as election season heats up.
Should he advice the President to A) just ignore it like he did back in January of this year, when Obama snubbed retired deputy chief of police, Stephen Downing, during a social media event on YouTube.
Or should he B) do some late-summer, targeted campaigning in states like Colorado, where NOT talking about it could actually hurt him (HuffPost):
…with Obama facing a stiff challenge from Republican Mitt Romney in the Nov. 6 election, it’s ironic that his chances of winning the key state of Colorado could hinge on marijuana legalization, supported by a growing number of Americans.
At issue is whether Obama will get a boost from young voters expected to be among the most enthusiastic backers of a Colorado ballot initiative that would legalize possession of up to an ounce of pot for recreational use – and give the state the most liberal marijuana law in the nation.
The initiative is a reflection of Colorado’s unique blend of laid-back liberalism and anti-regulation conservatism that helped make the state the birthplace of the Libertarian Party.
It’s a state where people of different political stripes see marijuana laws as an example of government needlessly sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong.
It’s also a proving ground for advocates who see legalization as a way to ease crowding in prisons, generate much-needed tax revenues, create jobs and weaken Mexican cartels that thrive on Americans’ appetite for illegal drugs.
In a tweet I was sort of dared to write a post about Gary Johnson. Well, this isn’t it, but Gary Johnson does need to be mentioned here, especially now that The Atlantic has declared Gary Johnson’s opposition to the drug war suddenly means the end of Marijuana as a fringe issue.
If Obama doesn’t address the perception of continuing the betrayal of his word to honor those who comply with state law, Gary Johnson could scoop up the disaffected, especially young people who could easily lean libertarian. Obama could get Perot’d.
Douglas Haddow, at The Guardian, lists the political support that may provide Obama the cover he needs to, at the very least, make some nice sounding rhetorical overtures to the people he’s so massively disappointed (whether they believe him is a different issue):
A string of events over the last seven weeks suggests the onset of a trend in which high-profile American political actors, including sitting officials, have begun to come out of the drug-war closet to publicly voice support for policy reform.
On 17 May Brooklyn supreme court justice Gustin Reichbach took to the New York Times to make the case for medical marijuana, citing his own illegal use to cope with chemotherapy and arguing that marijuana legalisation “is not a law and order issue; it is a medical and a human rights issue”.
On 30 May, in a congressional primary in El Paso, Texas, eight-term incumbent and hardline drug warrior Silvestre Reyes went head to head with first-time challenger Beto O’Rourke, former city councillor and a critic of the drug war who favours legalising marijuana. O’Rourke won handily.
In New York, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed to decriminalise marijuana possession (25g or less,) citing how current laws disproportionately affect black and Hispanic youth. The Republican Bloomberg immediately voiced support for the motion.
So just get him four more years, people. This time he’ll work on that kind of stuff. Please don’t look back, where the quickly receding memory of his actual policies flicker and fade…
Former Indy – now Missoulian – political columnist George Ochenski was guest today on Aaron Flint’s Voices of America statewide talk show this morning. Work unfortunately got in the way for life for me, but Northern Broadcasting does podcast Flint’s show. It’s in two segments, here and here.
That shift to the Missoulian took all of 5 days.
Flint gets to the Ochenski’s sudden and still unaddressed departure from the Indy immediately, and George tells it from his own words. It’s quite clear that editorial interference in Ochenski’s political writings were the heart of the matter. Flint asks “What really happened with the Missoula Independent?” George Ochenski responds:
“From my perspective, what happened is they hired a new editor that came in from out of state and literally started wading in on my columns. Restricting what I could write about – I couldn’t write about national or international issues anymore – just about Montana politics……
“He started cranking down on the scope of my writing, and then he started doing some, what I thought, were some really irresponsible edits. Changing my words. Putting titles on columns that I would never have put on there.”
Ochenski then cites a change in the title of a column from “Collaborators collision to “Hang the Collaborators,” explaining that he’d never advocate violence against those with whom he disagrees and another where a medical marijuana column Damned if you do had “Med pot court case could sway election” attached as a a subtitle. Ochencski explained that using the term “pot” for medical marijuana belittled the necessity of its use for those that need it.
Once that was out, Flint had a great long conversation with Ochenski, talking about the conservative reaction to Ochenski’s departure, his adventures up in the capitol, his non partisan (but liberal leaning) approach to political commentary – and even…well….testicles. So go listen to it.
A big thanks to Aaron Flint for bringing us a good interview. Hopefully he has Ochenski on again.
STOP THE PRESSES! There’s been a coup in Zoo-Town!
Time to squeeze another opinion writer in on the Missoulian’s Editorial Page. The Lowdown’s superreporter John Adams has the, uh, lowdown:
Loyal readers of longtime Missoula Independent opinion columnist George Ochenski won’t have to wait much longer to find out.
It didn’t take long for the Indy’s chief rival in Missoula, Lee Newspaper’s Missoulian, to offer Ochenski a weekly space on their opinion pages.
According to an email I just received from Ochenski, Missoulian editor Sherry Devlin has offered to print his column each Monday. At about 750 words, Ochenski’s new space will be slightly smaller than the 1,000 words he regularly submitted to the Indy. But as Mark Twain was keenly aware when he said “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead,” longer does not necessarily mean better.”
Much more at The Lowdown, and thanks for unravelling the mystery for us, John!
Another working day for the Missoula Independent came and went, and still silence from the Indy blog.
I find it disheartening that the newspaper which has been the instrument for so many of my favorite feature writers over the years – John S. Adams, Patrick Duganz, Jesse Froehling, Skylar Browning, Jessie McQuillan, and Matthew Frank, just to name a few – is continuing its silence to the departure of longtime and award-winning political columnist George Ochenski.
Especially when it has been reported that Ochenski had been shut down on free press column by editor Robert Meyerowitz.
It’s disheartening because the silencing of a political columnist has ramifications to the impressions readers (translate “market”) have of the product a newspaper puts out. Not only is it not good for the readers, it’s can’t be good for the newsroom. As I stated on Friday: “Failure to address Ochenski’s departure will hang over the Indy. It will cloud their respectability as a “Free Thinking” newspaper – and it unfairly disrespects a departure that would be better left with the Indy taking a high road and giving its deserving loyal readers (and a columnist who helped in a very big way make the Indy what it is today) the truthful explanation and closure all parties deserve.”
I still believe that.
Editor Robert Meyerowitz has the forum – and he’s no stranger to writing, either. You’d think that if he felt a need type off a response to a news report that Ochenski had been censored, he’d feel a need to explain Ochenski’s elimination from the pages of the Indy on the pages of the Indy.
Barring that, the truth behind Ochenski’s departure is going to be told. Multiple news sources have inquired just of me (this little old anonymous blogger) on this matter…and undoubtedly there’s been more.
ON Wednesday, Montanans will get a chance to hear it from George Ochenski himself. GO will be the guest of Northern Broadcasting’s statewide talkshow host Aaron Flint (@aaronflint) on his show Voices of Montana.
Flint’s show is on 9-10 a.m. daily. Here in Missoula it’s on AM 930 KMPT (corrected) (I do sincerely listen to 1290 – check my car radio and I was confusing Aaron’s show with the one on 1290), though it can be heard statewide. Check this map to find your local station. You can also stream it from this link.
AND, for you facebook fans out there, there’s a Where’s Ochenski facebook page. I even broke my own protocol and posted a pic over there. Go check it out. And share that page with your friends.
Environmentalists are easy targets. They conjure quick stereotypes of hippie activists divorced from reality. They also act as self-appointed sirens of crisis, trying to point out how destructive our species’ impact has been on this planet.
Environmentalism itself is a global call to action for humanity to act collectively before it’s too late. Such a brazen declaration will inevitably lead to angry responses, like this fragment from a longer comment @ Intelligent Discontent:
Pseudo intellectuals posing impossible and illogical arguments about “pristine” wilderness disgust me because not one of them recognises the reality we are faced with everyday. They would rather pound their chests and scream at the sky about the “inhumanity” of it all rather than find real life solutions.
The humans who fight to mitigate the negative impact their fellow humans are having on this planet must sometimes feel they are put in the position of defending every misguided step to protect something from destruction.
I poked around a bit in my library for some fodder for this post, and found something from Can Poetry Save the Earth? by John Felstiner (Yale University, 2009):
Yet ecological zeal can backfire. Preserving Yosemite National Park meant first evicting Ahwahnee and Miwok Indians, while Yellowstone got rid of Shoshone and Lakota. Arizona’s Black Mesa Mine, shut down for fouling the air, draining the water table and thereby sacred springs, had also provided jobs for Navajo and Hopi Indians. Cleansing the air may itself hasten global warming because pollution haze absorbs and scatters sunlight. Curtailing ranchers and loggers drives them to sell land to developers. In Canada, the 1980’s campaign against slaughtering seals, beaver, and fox for fur coats and scarves left native trappers strapped for a living. They had to turn their land and themselves over to companies building gas pipelines through a pristine valley, flooding the land for a hydroelectric plant, drilling for oil in teeming offshore waters.
Also, it should be mentioned, the book I’m referencing is constructed of mostly paper.
When you push too hard about the cataclysm of our species’ insatiable consumption of this finite earthly bounty, it’s very easy to point out the inherent hypocrisy of humans who consume criticizing our collective consumption.
It doesn’t make the unsustainable trajectory of our collective behavior any less true, but it does muddy the waters, tarnishing the “hypocrite” messengers of responsible planetary stewardship.
With information at our fingertips—with no excuse NOT to know—I find myself thumbing through my twitter scroll and NOT selecting articles like the Mother Jones piece about the decline of microbes in the Gulf of Mexico, post-BP.
I don’t want to know. I choose to ignore many things (like the World Population Clock). Because I know I’m intimately involved in the destructive processes set in motion a long, long time ago.
The disdain for those righteous tree-huggers offering themselves as convenient scapegoats is sadly predictable, but it doesn’t make what they’re warning about any less dire.
Anyway, this week’s selection is from a cute little publication from New Directions, edited by Jeffrey Yang, titled BIRDS, BEASTS, AND SEAS: Nature Poems from New Directions (New Directions, 2011).
It’s a strange little poem by Lorca, translated by W.S. Merwin. Enjoy! Continue Reading »
It’s quite clear from that interview that even now, Engstrom hasn’t been able to separate the facts from his own defensive and inaccurate version of events. Listen as Mauk corrects Engstrom when he attempts to make it sound like the police were aware of the rape and sexual assault by the Saudi student prior to his university-facilitated escape back to his home country.
I also appreciate how Mauk calls out Engstrom when he touts his successful investigations which resulted in a number of students removed from campus – and into our community.
KECI has been touting an upcoming interview with Engstrom.
Tonight, in perusing KGVO’s website (AM 1290 here in Missoula), I find that Peter Christian’s Talk Back will be hosting University of Montana’s Royce Engstrom on Wednesday Morning.
Talk Back is a short half-hour local talk show, done from 8:30 to 10 a.m. every weekday morning. In reading KGVO’s website, Engstrom was invited to “to answer your questions about the campus and a host of recent University related events.”
Lovely. Do make sure to listen and call in on Wednesday morning, Missoula….and Montana. 406-721-1290. I know I’ll be listening.