Archive for February, 2013

Sad Milk Mustache :{(


by lizard

In a post last week I cited this ThinkProgress piece about 5 ways the sequester could make you sick—a quick list of things that are already bad, but will likely get worse with sequester cuts, like the FDA:

1. More Americans could be put at risk for foodborne illnesses. The number of Americans who get sick or die after consuming contaminated food has increased 44 percent over the last two years. The FDA is currently stretched too thin after rounds of budget cuts to food safety programs, and the sequester will only worsen the situation even more. Cuts to the FDA would lead to 2,100 fewer food inspections across the country, putting more Americans at risk for contracting foodborne illnesses — which already cost the United States about $152 million each year to treat.

And while it might be interesting to speculate why the holy markets did not freak out today after yawning up to the final hours of this manufactured deadline, that’s not what I was asked to write about tonight.

I don’t write too often about the food industry, save a flippant tweet now and then about how I think Monsanto = pure evil. But tonight, at the request of my wife, I’d like to support my wife’s opinion that it would be utterly fucking stupid to allow aspartame to be added to milk, sans label:

Aspartame in milk without extra labeling became a possibility as of last week when the FDA acknowledged a petition from the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation(NMPF), which was filed in 2009.

The Huffington Post reports that the petition asks permission by dairy lobbyists to include artificial sweeteners in milk, along with other dairy products, without requiring a prominent label.

The petition immediately garnered criticism from those who oppose aspartame and other artificial sweeteners. The ingredient has been blamed for causing cancer. It was also the subject of a recent study that claims the ingredient causes changes in a person’s brain chemistry, making them crave high-calorie foods.

With a quick browsing of the mighty internet, I learned of an e-mail scare regarding Aspartame that some consider the stuff of urban myth.

I also learned this super-sweet/no-calorie substance the milk industry wants to sneak into our milk supply is linked to stuff like this:

From the early ‘80’s, consumer complaints began pouring into the FDA related to aspartame use. Among the symptoms reported are the following:

headaches
nausea
vertigo
hearing loss
tinnitus
insomnia
numbness and tingling of extremities
blurred vision
blindness
eye problems
memory loss
slurred speech
mild to suicidal depression
personality changes
violent episodes
mood changes
anxiety attacks
hyperactivity
heart arrhythmia
edema or swelling
gastrointestinal disorders
seizures
skin lesions
muscle cramps
joint pains
fatigue
PMS
menstrual irregularities
chest pain
increased appetite

In addition to the above symptoms, aspartame use can mimic a number of autoimmune diseases. Betty Martini, founder of Mission Possible, an organization dedicated to spread information about problems with aspartame, found that methanol toxicity causes metabolic acidosis and mimics multiple sclerosis (MS). She lists the following symptoms as “aspartame disease”: fibromyalgia, spasms, shooting pains, joint pains, depression, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, blurred vision, and memory loss. In addition to MS, aspartame may also either mimic or trigger the following illnesses:

fibromyalgia
chronic fatigue syndrome
Epstein-Barr
post-polio syndrome
lyme disease
epilepsy
hypothyroidism
ADD
Meuniere disease
Alzheimer disease

Fortunately, most of these symptoms are reversible, and disappear once aspartame is discontinued.

So maybe it’s time to put down the Diet Coke, because it’s probably killing you.

by lizard

Opposing the burden of paying taxes is an American tradition, going back to the origins of our independence. From the national conversation about the economy to the state’s legislative wrangling, questions of who pays and how much have become central in the debates over how to move our economy forward.

Montana state Republicans have two bills about taxes moving through the bowels of Helena:

One is House Bill 230 by Rep. Scott Reichner, R-Bigfork, which would cut the statewide school equalization property tax levy to 19.6 mills from the current 40 mills. It would cut property taxes for individuals and businesses by $50 million a year.

The other is HB472 by Rep. Jerry Bennett, R-Libby, for the Montana Chamber of Commerce to exempt the first $250,000 of business equipment from property taxes. Because it’s an exemption, businesses with more than $250,000 worth of equipment would be able to deduct the first $250,000 from the total value of their equipment.

As a state, we are able to talk about cutting taxes because we are one of only three states in the entire country with a budget surplus. And instead of long-term planning in uncertain times, both Republicans and Democrats are advocating for short-sighted measures.

Steve Bullock and MT Democrats are pushing for a $400 dollar rebate to property owners. Back in December, Bullock had this to say:

“We have a balanced budget and lower unemployment than many other states, and we turn around permits in many areas faster than our neighbors,” Bullock said.

He suggested that Montanans ought to be wary of making major changes threatening Montana’s fiscal stability.

“So let’s be a little bit skeptical, and let’s proceed cautiously when we hear of those that want to use that surplus and that sound fiscal management as the excuse to dismantle what I think is a pretty darn good system that exists in Montana,” Bullock said.

When Montana has more revenue than it needs, Bullock suggested finding ways to return it to Montanans.

He touted his plan to give one-time $400 property tax rebates to Montana residents living in their own homes. The program, which mirrors the one passed in 2007 at Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s urging, would cost $100 million.

Of course Democrats are going to be super eager to get this done, and of course Republicans are going to try and keep it from happening. Politics is all about the next election cycle, and giving property owners a $100 million dollar payoff for electing Democrats will be a great talking point for the next round of elections.

But in these uncertain times, is it smart policy?

A few days ago, a report on the cost of fighting fires looked at the potential of that cost doubling as houses continue to get built in the wild land/urban interface.

That is just one example. We also have a federal government in total disarray, putting any federal dollars we rely on at the state level in question.

I’m probably in the extreme minority when I say I don’t want a $100 million dollar payoff. I know it’s probably unrealistic to ask our state representatives to think and plan for the uncertain economic realities we will continue to face as a state, but that is exactly what I think they should be doing.

But that’s not what the conversation is about. If last night’s tweets from state rep. Bryce Bennett is any indication, the debate is about Democrats wanting to put $400 dollars in your pocket, while Republicans want to give you just $44 bucks.

Change.No, Pat Williams

by lizard

There is a bit of MT Democrat wagon-circling going on right now that initially had me puzzled. Why was there suddenly a change.org petition popping up on my twitter feed to confirm Pat Williams as a Regent?

To understand, you have to know what the streets are saying (MT_Cowgirl*link no longer works, see my comment below):

Word on the street is that legislators who would rather sweep the Missoula rape scandal under the rug are working behind the scenes in the Montana Legislature to block the confirmation of a member of the Board of Regents who has been outspoken about the need for change.

Former Democratic Congressman Pat Williams, a long-time champion of women’s rights in Montana, has been an outspoken advocate for addressing the way women are treated.

That apparently upsets the good o’ boys network.

Hmmm, it wasn’t that long ago I recall reading, in the New York Times, about the concern Pat Williams had with how the football team was being negatively impacted by the behavior of “knuckleheads”, a term former 4&20 contributor Pat Duganz tore apart in this post.

Here is the offending quote:

“I’m very sorrowful one of the premier universities in the Rockies has been scandalized by a few knuckleheaded students,” said Pat Williams, a former United States congressman and a member of Montana’s Board of Regents. “The football team has been terribly hurt by this.”

For those who would like to forgive this quote as a media misstep, I’d suggest also considering the outburst “This thuggery has got to stop”!!!.

As I was re-reading Duganz’s post, this comment from Virgil Kane caught my eye:

The Board of Regents, who are making up cute names for two year schools, the equivalent of classifying belly bottom lint, have assigned another clubhouse member, Missoula Good Ole Boy And Regent/Commissioner Clayton Christian to “get more involved”. He has been involved, right up to his eyeballs, for years with Foley, and Dennison, and Engstrom. And that sweet deal where he moved from unpaid Regent to highly paid Commissioner, without a search, that should give all a warm feeling of confidence about his ethical compass. Any FOIA request should include the new, well-compensated Commissioner in their search. An independent Commissioner without conflicts would have been all over this months ago.

It’s a real feather in the cap of 4&20, and a sign of their independence, that they’re commenting about this at all. This scandal reaches into the inner circle of the old line Democrats’ clubhouse. We on the outside can only wonder how many it encompasses.

There’s also this anonymous comment:

The idea promoted here, that Pat Williams doesn’t understand the seriousness of rape, is absurd. This post is exactly the type of thing which, by association, discredits all progressives. Duganz, why don’t you find something else to focus on? There happen to be very real issues that should arouse anger and action among reasonable folk. For example, conservative are actively, and quite literally, taking steps to nullify existing rights for women. Let’s address those real issues; not this imagined nonsense. This post is a disgrace and a hindrance to all progressive blogs.

My personal opinion is old people in good positions to retire comfortably, should. Make room for other talented people. Which brings up the question, are there other talented people?

by lizard

Michael Estok, a canadian writer, succumbed to AIDS in 1989. The last year of his life is captured in a collection of poems titled A Plague Year Journal (Pulp Press Book Publishes, 1989).

In selecting the poem for this week, the looming consequences of the idiotic sequestration deadline was front and center in my thinking. This ThinkProgress piece describes 5 ways The Sequester Could Make You Sick. Here’s number 5:

5. Fewer Americans will get screened and treated for HIV. According to the Department for Health and Human Services, the sequestration cuts will have a serious impact on federal official’s ability to continue combating the nation’s HIV/AIDS epidemic. Since an estimated 20 percent of HIV-positive Americans still don’t know they have the virus, the CDC warns that testing needs to be a top priority — but the cuts to the CDC’s programs would result in about 424,000 fewer HIV tests conducted by state agencies. And an estimated 7,400 fewer patients would have access to their HIV medications through the AIDS Drug Assistance Program.

Fatigue with the crippling dysfunction of Congress is palpable. If either party thinks they have the leverage in this latest manufactured crisis, they are dead wrong. For those who still have the stomach to watch the pathetic posturing of our political class, keeping oneself from being overwhelmed by despair is a daily challenge.

Supporting a scorched earth policy for the entirety of Washington DC seems, at times, not just desirable, but necessary.

This week’s poem is appropriately titled “tired”. Continue Reading »

by lizard

Glenn Greenwald has provided some scathing criticism of MSNBC’s Foxesque fealty to the Obama administration. He covered the canning of Cenk Uygur (replaced by Al Sharpton in July of 2011), issued this somewhat tempered comparison of MSNBC to Fox News last August, and just yesterday reported how MSNBC boldly moved to plug its one remaining hole.

Despite all that, a few glimmers remain, and tonight’s Maddow opener examining the sustained chaos in the Republican party is worth watching (no link yet).

Part of what makes it a great piece is the guest the show was able to attract—the chief strategist of the Santorum campaign. This is pure conjecture, but I’m going to speculate the reason this guest felt comfortable going on the Maddow show is because they work hard to create what I’m going to call AN ADULT SPACE, a space where actual discussion happens (as opposed to the loud grunting and snorting Rush popularized to the detriment of western civilization).

What’s happening nationally is the Tea Party’s sustained insurgency is being directed at the wizard himself, Karl Rove, which is hilarious. Apparently not everyone is thrilled about Rove building a corporate cash cannon to destroy primary embarrassments before they happen.

What’s happening in Montana is the Tea Party’s out-of-control extremism continues getting us national headlines, like the embarrassingly difficult legislative task of decriminalizing men and women having sex with each other.

Another example is this screen-shot and nicely blogged post by montanafesto, which then got picked up here by Daily Kos.

Thanks to the good work of montanafesto, I’m now very excited to follow Jennifer Olsen @oilpatchkid on twitter, because in this crazy world, it’s nice to know there are things I can still depend on, like the reckless use of social media by MT’s strain of Tea Party.

Today, for example, James Knox @jknox65 (former anti-cannabis crusader sucking on a fat cigar called hypocrisy) tweeted this:

Alex Newman will be on the show tonight speaking the truth about Agenda 21 belladangelo.com

Though I asked James about the truth, I have yet to receive a response. Shucks.

Jennifer Olsen’s casual niggerizing of the president has received no pushback that I am aware of from Yellowstone County Republicans. That says a lot.

And poor Karl Rove, trying desperately to build cash barricades against the tide of the surge he helped create?

Great entertainment, if you want to ignore what Democrats are up to.

I did tonight, and it was fantastic.

Global Bubble, Global Bang

by lizard

The political pundits are busy raccoons playing with the latest shiny object. The latest shiny object is the sequestration deadline, set to go bang March 1st.

My advice: don’t be stupid and waste your time watching the busy raccoons playing with the latest shiny object.

Why? Because the latest manufactured deadline in a ridiculous sequence of manufactured deadlines is just a bit of pizazz to distract us from the massive financial clusterfuck of deceit that continues to be perpetrated on people across the globe.

So ignore even the president, who said stupid shit like this during the fiscal cliff edition of our national charade:

President Barack Obama used an appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press Sunday to predict an “adverse reaction in the markets” and put the blame on Republicans should last-minute efforts to avoid the Jan. 1 “fiscal cliff” fail.

It’s stupid because the markets are fucked, which makes fiscal cliffs and sequestration deadlines nothing more than the decorative bowing of violins.

Signs Of The Times (Zerohedge):

The financial world, at the moment, is a scary place. The signs of this are all about us and yet the consensus view is to worry about nothing. This has been caused by one singular action which is the orchestrated input of cash into the financial system by every major central bank on Earth. Money will go somewhere as it is created and so it has which is exactly why the markets are at or close to all-time highs while economic conditions have crumbled precipitously. It is not this market or that market which is in a bubble but all of them and it is systemic by its very creation.

There is also an ancillary cause of much of this which is the constant use of lies and made-up numbers to cover up and denigrate the truth. This happens to some extent in the United States but is rampant and prevalent in Europe and also a daily occurrence in Asia. The Europeans do not count liabilities as part of the balance sheets for either the sovereigns or their banks but, as I have pointed out so many times before, the not counting of them does not erase their actuality or their consequences. Liabilities are not counted, debt to GDP ratios for the sovereigns which are based upon the fictitious numbers are then not accurate, economic assumptions become a fairy tale and it all plays along for a time until, and the “until” always arrives, that the liabilities must be paid and accounted for because the money is just not there. It has been four years, four years of paper creation, four years of larger and larger lies, four years of fantasy balance sheets and today I call the ball; it is all about to end.

End of the world? No, an end to the charade, which is much bigger than just America’s ailing financial health.

The books are cooked, and the markets are being determined by greedy psychopaths. The US presidency—an office that brazenly declares its ability to act as judge, jury, and executioner when it comes to alleged terrorists—is nothing more than a car salesman when it comes to the global economy.

Fasten your seat-belts, citizens. We are in for a very bumpy ride.

by lizard

In both his inauguration speech and state of the union speech, President Obama talked about addressing climate change. He prodded Congress to find a “bipartisan, market-based solution” and indicated quite clearly that if Congress is not capable of doing it, then he would take executive action. What kind of action? This Politico piece highlights the hint dropped by Obama:

Obama said in his State of the Union address that he is prepared to take action if Congress doesn’t act, but he didn’t detail what that action might look like. He hinted during the chat Thursday that it could resemble what his administration did to require higher fuel efficiency standards in automobiles.

“The same steps that we took with respect to energy efficiency on cars, we can take on buildings, we can take on appliances, we can make sure that new power plants that are being built are more efficient than the old ones, and we can continue to put research and our support behind clean energy that is going to continue to help us transition away from dirtier fuels,” he said.

The recent flashpoint for climate change has been the opposition to the Keystone pipeline. The high profile arrests that happened last Wednesday included Montana writer Rick Bass.

Montana writer Rick Bass was in distinguished company Wednesday when he was arrested in front of the White House along with nearly 50 high-profile activists who demonstrated in opposition to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Civil rights leaders and environmental activists like Robert F. Kennedy Jr., actress Daryl Hannah, writer Bill McKibben, social activist Julian Bond, former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass, and Sierra Club executive director Mike Brune were among the notable leaders who attended the peaceful demonstration. All were arrested for their display of civil disobedience.

After his arrest, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. had this to say:

ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.: I think President Obama is going to kill the pipeline.

INTERVIEWER: Why do you say that?

ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.: Because I think it’s the right thing to do, and I think he knows that. And I think he—you know, I think he has a strong moral core, and I think John Kerry does, too. And I think, ultimately, he would not do something that is—that is this catastrophic and irresponsible and reckless.

Obama’s appointment for Secretary of State, John Kerry, said recently a decision on the Keystone pipeline will be coming in the “near term”.

Pressure for action is building. Even the Government Accountability Office recently included climate change in its annual update of its High Risk Series report. That should inspire Congress to act, right?

As celebrities and professional climate activists generate headlines and momentum to kill the Keystone pipeline deal to transport tar sand gunk across America, there are those who remain critical of the allegedly corporate co-opted approach to climate change activism. One of those critics, Michael Donnelly, recently wrote an article titled Tweeting as the World Burns. This is how Donnelly concludes his article:

Before the astroturf Climate Movement was paid to never mention Consumption and to always tout fantasy energy solutions as the answer – said wind, solar, etc. fantasy energy being a tax swindle bubble that benefits the very corporations that fund this distraction, Bill McKibben wrote a great piece on Consumption. We’ve wasted crucial decades by not addressing and finding solutions to the real underlying cause – Consumption and Population. You have to go back to February 1985 to find a full month that was not warmer than the long-time norm. These corporate-sponsored diversions have cost us precious time; of which we have little.

I’ll predict right now that Obama will end up approving the pipeline with a slightly different “more ecologically-sensitive” route. It will be coupled with a Carbon Tax which will dedicate a large amount of the income to the “renewable” swindle. This package will be called a “major victory” by Big Green Central and the foundations’ billion dollar Climate Campaign. (Canada will succeed in getting any tax at the Tar Sands source tossed as an unfair restraint of trade – thank you neolib Free Trade agreements.)

A fellow activist notes, “That we’ve wasted time even talking about the pipeline is EXACTLY what the corporate masters who bought the environmental movement had hoped for. The pipeline has zero to do with what happens next, and they know it. They have to just wonder at the stupidity of so-called environmentalists — dumber than they even thought.”

Too harsh? Time will tell. And with patterns of warming happening faster than many scientists first predicted, we have less time than previously anticipated.

by lizard

From the article The Execution of Christopher Dorner:

State of the Union: Flammable

This is a day of a million possible metaphors, but central among these should be the image of the burning house. In an effort to distinguish what he called the “house negro” from the “field negro,” Malcolm X had once observed that the two responded differently when the master’s house caught fire: “But that field negro, remember, they were in the majority, and they hated their master. When the house caught on fire, he didn’t try to put it out, that field negro prayed for a wind.” While the metaphor may seem a strange one, given the fiery death of a man some have compared to a runaway slave. But as many Americans choose to gaze, mesmerized, at the glowing embers of the Dorner saga rather than watching the State of the Union, it’s worth wondering: whose house is really on fire? And who is praying for wind?

Who is praying for wind?

I certainly wasn’t when I spent my white, suburban, 14-year-old discretionary money on Ice T’s album Body Count, featuring Tipper Gore’s seal of disapproval, the enticing Parental Advisory sticker.

Strange to remember how the same Ice T that plays a cop on tv once got hysterical notoriety for a song called Cop Killer.

I think the LAPD was the subject of that particular tune, featured below:

The updated version of Ice T’s outdated angst comes from Oscar Jackson Jr., better known as the rapper Paris.

Here is a bit of the song’s verse:

To protect and to serve is a myth to us
They protect they shit and serve sticks to us
Fuck a waterhose nigga, those days is thru
All a pig’s gotta do nowadays is shoot

For the full effect, here’s Paris full throttle:

Getting back to the state’s most recent lynching, this from the article first cited in this post:

As Obama was taking to the lectern, police agencies were insisting that they had not set the fire that killed Christopher Dorner, and the compliant media were parroting this clearly implausible message. As members of Congress stood and sat on cue to rapturously applaud the Commander-in-Chief, more than 14,000 people have liked just one of the Facebook pages in support of Dorner, some because they know what racist policing is like, some because ours is a time of resisting injustice by any means, and some simply for the joy of backing an outlaw to the grisly end.

From my perpetual work in progress, these lines may stick:

when the burners came by remote control he
must have realized it was time to eat a bullet

don’t be coy, dear badges of San Bernardino
the scanner chatter that day was clear:

Burn that fucking house down! one deputy said
Fucking burn this motherfucker! said another

I don’t know how the lie that incineration wasn’t the plan from the start can stand. It was. It’s obvious. And to avoid further Facebook likes, the San Bernardino authorities should just be up front like president Obama, and argue that imminent threat demanded execution, because that would be so much easier.

by jhwygirl

SB196 was heard on second reading today on the floor of the senate, having passed state senate judiciary on a 9-3 vote.

In a nutshell, the bill prohibits the use of drones by the government unless a warrant is issued or some other judicial process takes place. It also prohibits the use of information illegally obtained through the use of drones.

The bill, proposed by Glendive’s Sen. Matthew Rosendale, a Republican, received bipartisan support, passing second reading 29-19.

All of Missoula’s senators supported the bill – – except for Sue Malek – See her NO vote?

Who knew the Rattlesnake, East Missoula, Bonner and Clinton people were fine with warrantless government drones?

Crazy, huh?

by jhwygirl

A little over two weeks ago, Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller brought us the story that the city of Missoula has wrongfully arrested and even jailed people on illegal warrants issued over the past 10 years.

That’s a pretty big deal – and you have to assume she didn’t get much love from anyone in the city for looking into to wrongful arrests. The issue stems in a large part from illegal warrants.

There’s also been the mistaken identity thing – and this past weekend, the Missoulian detailed just that in the arrest of a man 30 years older than the man they should have been arresting.

Which says something about the arresting officers, does it not? I mean – imagine trying to tell them they’ve got the wrong person and they’re not even looking over their paperwork? Good lord!

I know a lot of people don’t give a crap about stuff like this. I’ve been told – when discussing the death penalty and the possibility of killing an innocent person – that “well, they were doing something wrong if they were arrested,” as if the people that get wrongfully arrested somehow had it coming to them. Even if they aren’t guilty of the crime for which the state is putting them to death.

I was very disturbed by Keila’s story. I witnessed a situation just as she writes of last year….and while I considered then and even try now to write something about it, I know it is not in anyone’s best interests that I do it here. Which I why I have much respect for Ms. Spzaller for having written that article. She didn’t make any friends and I highly doubt anyone was overly helpful as she dug for information.

So for me there were layers of disturbing to that story. Aside from the somewhat personal connection to the topic, as a citizen of Missoula it’s pretty disturbing to know that civil rights violations are going on with people being jailed unlawfully. Understanding the lack of places to turn to for assistance makes it even worse. Small towns tend to protect themselves.

What I also found disturbing was the attitudes expressed by city officials concerning such illegal arrest warrants. Spzaller starts off her story with this statement:

City officials say the incidents are rare and that Municipal Court has revised its procedures so it no longer issues bad warrants. The matter is a concern, said Judge Kathleen Jenks, but she knows of only a couple of people wrongfully detained on the invalid warrants.

“Really, there aren’t that many people getting picked up on old, illegal warrants,” Jenks said.

I don’t know who the city officials are that she refers to, but “rare” incidents of illegal arrest are – I’m sorry – a pretty big friggin’ deal.

Now, it’s clear from the article that new Judge Jenks has taken steps to try and keep these illegal arrests from continuing, but to acknowledge “only a couple of people” have been illegally arrested and to be quoted saying that “there aren’t that many people” being arrested on illegal warrants seems a bit flippant to me.

Szpaller speaks with deputy city attorney Carrie Garber:

In the worst-case scenario, a person is arrested on the weekend and remains in custody for two days because they can’t bail out, Garber said. The illegal warrants affect the people who are least able to pay a $50 or $200 bond; many people may not even know their arrest was improper, she said.

Garber said the practice took place for years, and she would not be surprised to find that “hundreds” of people went to jail because of it. When Judge Marie Andersen worked in the court, she started the practice of reviewing files before signing warrants, Garber said.

Garber said she tried unsuccessfully to encourage Louden to change the procedure, and she’s pleased Judge Jenks has done so.

In a worst-case scenario??? The practice took place for years?? She would not be surprised to find hundreds went to jail on illegal arrest warrants?? Louden didn’t give a shit??

Gerber’s boss, apparently, wasn’t giving a crap.

One quote that has really stuck in my craw since reading it back on January 27th, and it was one that came from long time city attorney Jim Nugent:

He isn’t aware of any recent arrests, and no one has sued the city over the matter, Nugent said. People may seek legal recourse if they believe their rights have been violated, but they must show they’ve been harmed, he said.

“They’d have to show damages,” Nugent said. “I don’t think a lot of money would be at issue because what’s their damages?”

“Because what’s their damages?”??? That quote there hearkens back to the conversation I relay above on the death penalty. These illegal arrests don’t mean much because..at some point the person had done something wrong so it doesn’t matter?

They don’t mean anything because these people that we’re arresting illegally don’t have the means to come back and sue us and even if they did, they don’t make a lot of money so whatever damages they incur would be minor?

They don’t mean anything because no one is going to believe them?

If you haven’t read Keila’s article, please do. It’s a worthy read.

Good newspaper writing, at it’s best – serving the public’s best interests, even when it isn’t easy.

by lizard

When Obama hit the predictable line last night about the state of our union being stronger, the clapping was anemic, as if to emphasize that strength is not something many associate with the state of our country right now.

While the president unrolled his political platitudes to the worthless group of politicians that populate Capitol Hill, the alleged homicidal rampage of ex-LAPD officer, Christopher Dorner, was coming to an end in a cabin in Big Bear Lake, California.

There’s a good article up at Jacobin this morning that’s worth reading, and it ends with this:

The police will celebrate, the chorus will quiet, the lives of his victims mourned. It is unlikely that the fire that burned away Dorner will burn away any illusion: this is unfortunate, and disturbing. His allegations will be dismissed as the rantings of a lunatic, things will return to normal. Until the fire, next time.

And there will be a next time, because the problems Dorner described are not just the rantings of a lunatic.

As I was watching MSNBC coverage of Dorner’s last stand, Chris Matthews casually dismissed Dorner’s claim of continued institutional racism with the LAPD, saying (and I’m paraphrasing here) that those problems were decades ago. Matthews also indicated that no one has supported Dorner’s claims.

Not surprisingly, Chris Matthews is simply wrong.

Just ask Wayne K. Guillary, an active LAPD Sgt. who tried to reach out to Dorner. Guillary had this to say:

… There’s still much work to be done … Some may say that nothing has changed with the leadership in the LAPD. … Trust me I have been in the fight with the organization regarding social and racial injustice within the LAPD. Currently, I am the only out spoken African American within the organization that possesses the moral courage to confront and ask questions unflinchingly about race, racism and discrimination in the LAPD. Yet still, I have paid a humiliating price inside the LAPD for preserving and believing in the importance of “I have a Dream.”

Or you could ask Joe Jones, a former LAPD officer who also confirmed that his personal experiences were similar to the ones Dorner described.

“The 1st thing I would say to [Dorner] is, I feel your pains!,” Joe Jones wrote in his manifesto, circulated Tuesday by hacker group Anonymous and posted to Jones’ Facebook. “But you are going about this the wrong way. To take innocent lives could never be the answer to anything. I say this as a Man who experienced the same pain, betrayal, anger, suffering, litigation and agony that you did in many ways.”

It takes incredible courage for these two men to come forward. I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say they are putting their lives at risk doing so.

Will Guillary and Jones and their experiences be dismissed? Probably. But we do so at our collective peril.

by lizard

I didn’t watch the State of the Union, so I’m not sure what kind of crap was unloaded from the president’s mouth tonight, but I’m sure it was nice-sounding crap.

Instead, I went with my kids to a bookstore. And at that bookstore, I found a book of poems by Mark Levine titled Debt (Quill, 1993).

And in that book of poems, I found this one, titled ABSTRACT POEM. Enjoy! Continue Reading »

by lizard

I was disappointed to discover this morning Electric City Weblog will be turning the lights out. Though I haven’t been blogging or even regularly reading blogs for as long as many of those in the MT blogosphere, ECW became one of the blogs I checked daily these last few years.

Now that I know what goes in to contributing to a blog’s presence, and keeping that presence updated and interesting, I appreciate even more when that work produces useful information, even if I don’t agree.

So thank you gentlemen for your time, energy, and perspectives. The MT blogosphere won’t be as interesting without you.

*UPDATE: the links below no longer take you to the posts. ECW is now closed.

Lights Out
—Gregg Smith

A Farewell To Arms
—Dave Budge

In Montana You Can Make a Difference
—Rob Natelson

Last Resort?

by lizard

On February 18th, 2010, Joe Stack purposely crashed his small Piper Dakota plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas, killing himself and IRS manager, Vernon Hunter.

To accompany this act of violence, Joe posted a six page suicide note, which you can read in full here.

Here is a portion of the note, with my emphasis added:

I know I’m hardly the first one to decide I have had all I can stand. It has always been a myth that people have stopped dying for their freedom in this country, and it isn’t limited to the blacks, and poor immigrants. I know there have been countless before me and there are sure to be as many after. But I also know that by not adding my body to the count, I insure nothing will change. I choose to not keep looking over my shoulder at “big brother” while he strips my carcass, I choose not to ignore what is going on all around me, I choose not to pretend that business as usual won’t continue; I have just had enough.

I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less. I would only hope that by striking a nerve that stimulates the inevitable double standard, knee-jerk government reaction that results in more stupid draconian restrictions people wake up and begin to see the pompous political thugs and their mindless minions for what they are. Sadly, though I spent my entire life trying to believe it wasn’t so, but violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer. The cruel joke is that the really big chunks of shit at the top have known this all along and have been laughing, at and using this awareness against, fools like me all along.

Joe Stack’s reason for resorting to violence centers on the use of violence by those at the top of pyramid-shaped power structure. By not acknowledging this reality earlier in his life, Joe must feel he put himself at a disadvantage.

I wrote about the importance of non-violence in the context of the OWS protests, but more broadly, I have never seen violence against other people as being an acceptable response to state violence. Violence destroys, simple as that, and if we want to build an alternative to late-stage crony/disaster capitalism, I think we must be incredibly careful about how we consider the role of violence when we express our rage at the systemic injustices that accompany our failing institutions.

The reason I bring up Joe Stack is because we are witnessing a similar situation with ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, and the war he has declared on his former employers, the Los Angeles Police Department.

His reasoning, addressed to America, has the subject title Last Resort. I’m including the entire letter because I think it should be read in full. The media will excerpt the parts to emphasize the mental instability of this former officer, and while that is probably part of what’s going on, Dorner should also be seen as a product of an institution—the LAPD—that has a long history of inflicting systemic violence on the communities they are policing.

Showing restraint (the kind I commended the Missoula PD for) is not something the LAPD are known for. In the manhunt for Christopher Dorner, the LAPD have already recklessly opened fire in two separate incidents of mistaken identity.

For more context, this piece titled American Blowback is worth reading.

Again, I in no way condone the lethal actions of Christopher Dorner. But I also don’t think simply dismissing him as crazy is all that productive either.

When you read his “manifesto” one thing that becomes clear is, the very concept of counterinsurgency is being knowledgeably expressed, and it’s absolutely chilling. Here is just one example:

Do you know why we are unsuccessful in asymmetrical and guerrilla warfare in CENTCOM theatre of operations? I’ll tell you. It’s not the inefficiency of our combatant commanders, planning, readiness or training of troops. Much like the Vietnam war, ACM, AAF, foreign fighters, Jihadist, and JAM have nothing to lose. They embrace death as it is a way of life. I simply don’t fear it. I am the walking exigent circumstance you created.

To read Dorner’s full address to America, continue reading. Continue Reading »

By JC

Oh my, what has Pat Williams gone and done now… besides upsetting the Montana Board of Regents with another gaffe?

“The university has recruited thugs for its football team, and this thuggery has got to stop.”

Well, I guess after the football player thugs all get thrown in jail, the city might be a better place, though I doubt all the thuggery will stop. Still seems to be a lot of institutionalized beatings, and looking the other way going on.

by lizard

Obama is in flagrant violation of the constitution, and articles of impeachment need to be filed by some brave congressional person immediately.

If articles of impeachment can be brought for committing perjury about receiving presidential fellatio, then surely the constitutional crisis on display this week, with story after story breaking about drones and targeted assassinations, should necessitate some kind of action by Congress.

Compare this (from second link):

On September 9, Independent Counsel Starr submitted a detailed report to the Congress in which he contended that there was “substantial and credible information that President William Jefferson Clinton committed acts that may constitute grounds for an impeachment” by lying under oath in the Jones litigation and obstructing justice by urging Ms. Lewinsky “… to file an affidavit that the President knew would be false”.

to this (first link):

The disclosure, by NBC, of a so-called “white paper” by the White House offering the legal justification for the executing of American citizens solely on the authority of the executive branch and the president exposes a White House so blatantly in violation of the Constitution that it simply demands such a hearing.

As Juan Cole explains clearly in an essay in Informed Comment, there are five ways that the white paper authorizing executive execution of Americans violates the Constitution. These, he explains, are:

1. There has to be an actual crime for there to be a punishment, and this paper authorizes execution without any crime.

2. If, as the letter suggests, the president’s authority to order executions without trial derives from the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by the Congress, that would constitute a so-called bill of attainder, which he explains is a declaration that a certain person or class of people (i.e. terrorists in this case) are prima facie guilty of a crime. But as he notes, the Constitution specifically outlaws bills of attainder, saying in Article 1, Section 9, “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law will be passed…”

3. The letter violates the separation of powers, according the president the powers of executive, legislature and judiciary.

4. The letter violates the Sixth Amendment in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, which guarantees everyone the right to a “speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.” Needless to say, an execution ordered by the president skips all of this.

Reliance on the AUMF for presidential executions such as that of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son means that President Obama, like President Bush before him, is claiming that the whole world (including the US) is a battlefield, and that he therefore has the absolute authority as Commander in Chief, to kill anyone , anywhere in the world, that he deems to be an enemy or a threat. But such a concept is a complete violation of international law and sovereignty as defined by the UN Charter, a solemn treaty to which the US is a signatory, making it a fundamental part of US law.

Too bad no one in Congress wants this fight.

Both Republicans and Democrats are probably more comfortable letting gun control simmer. For the right, the constitutional crisis appears contained to the perceived erosion of the 2nd amendment, fueling fear that the foundation for public disarmament is being established.

For what constitutes as the left in this country, it’s much easier to ridicule gun-worshipers than hold the president they elected accountable to his constitutional oath.

It’s been an intense week for Obama’s illegal, immoral, counterproductive killing of “militants” absolutely anywhere this lawless administration claims to find them.

First, Michael Isikoff drops his memo bomb on the Maddow show (cool kids call them white papers).

Then we get a suspiciously delayed reveal by the Washington Post about a secret drone base in Saudi Arabia, a story they sat on for quite some time.

You know, like the NYT dragging out Bush’s warrantless wiretapping after his reelection. We wouldn’t want our media to let these awkward stories loose before the presidential office they grovel for is secured, now would we?

Of course, the way this insider tells it, it was high level Bush administration officials doing the groveling. Let’s take a quick side-trip down memory lane for a little reminder on how worthless our media have become. Continue reading for that, and much more. Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

It’s so bassackwards that I just have to ask: How could cops and fire personnel that live outside of the community be a good thing? And OK thing?

I ask that in the context of the what seems to be the current pressing issue for the City of Missoula right now. And while I say that a little snarky, I actually do think it important that city employees live in the city. Especially department heads and…dare I say it…police and fire.

The Missoulian’s Keila Szpaller went to work immediately after Wednesday’s committee meeting, it seems, as this morning’s paper brought us the news that the majority of the city’s top cops live outside of the city.

Below I’m going to print Bob Jaffe’s listserv committee report, a sort of informal – but still public – discussion on city issues.

I’ll also point out that while Jaffe retells City of Missoula Police Chief Muir comments in committee on Wednesday by saying “Police chief Muir spoke against the proposal telling us he moved to the county for the higher quality of life and likely would not have taken the job as police chief if this rule were in place,” he takes no effort to dispel Muir’s contention.

Jaffe continues, seemingly acknowledging the superior quality of life in the county – which is a little peculiar coming from a city councilor, no? I mean, is it not an odd public introspection of his and his fellow councilor’s work? Bob’s been on council for more than 6 years now, I’m pretty sure.

Anyways……Jaffe’s full report below the fold, to make sure you have the full context. Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Sen. Debby Barrett’s bill to repeal last session’s eminent domain debacle had it’s hearing in Senate Energy and Telecommunications yesterday. A roomful of people, with overflow out into the hall, testified overwhelmingly in support of SB180

Northwestern Energy’s attorney Mr. Fitzpatrick spent a significant amount of time – after great theatrical preparation for his opposition testimony – continuing to blur the lines between merchant lines and distribution lines.

Distribution lines being lines which actually serve public uses here in Montana. Public uses that are regulated by the PSC. Public uses that have an elected official answering for the public uses that have, at times, been reason for an eminent domain taking of private property.

2011’s eminent domain bill handed handed the power of eminent domain to private corporations for the purposes of economic development. That, my friends, is the equivalent of the famously decried Kelo v. City of New London, which held that a private property could be condemned by developers in the name of economic gain and tax revenue.

Below the fold is Sen. Debby Barrett’s proponent statement and Missoula Sen. David Wanzenried’s comments submitted to the public record for SB180.

Before I do that, though, I’m going to provide the email addresses of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee and ask you all to write these guys and tell them that keeping eminent domain power in the hands of private corporations in the name of jobs or economic gain or the guise of some sort of public beneficial review during the Large Facilities Siting Act review is wrong. Tell them eminent domain is a necessary component of government, but that the power belongs with the government and not in the hands of a private corporation. Here are the emails:
ronarthun@gmail.com, robyn@robyndriscoll.com, jessmann@mt.gov, vjack@centurytel.net, jergeson4senator@yahoo.com, ljones@mtbus.net,kaufmann@mt.net, cliff@larsenusa.com, Jason@priest2010.com, ajolson@midrivers.com, tropila@mt.net, cvvincent@hotmail.com,ewalker@edwalker2010.com

Barrett and Wanz’s testimony below…. Continue Reading »

Obushma

by lizard

I don’t blame Brandon Bryant for carrying out orders. As a civilian who hasn’t directly experienced the conflict between unaccountable leadership and a binding oath to the constitution, I can’t imagine what existing in that kind of murky environment does to the psyche.

Brandon Bryant’s job was operating drones, something Obama is now getting “serious” heat for officially sanctioning with—gasp—A MEMO!!!.

Apparently, because it’s impossible to deny the frankenstein unitary executive created by Obushma, there can finally be a bit of pressure-valving from the duplicitous Democrat stronghold. From MSNBC, it seems there’s a shocking realization going on that their commander-in-chief resolved his predecessor’s problem with torture by just deciding to kill them instead, citizenship be damned!

Of course not everyone at MSNBC is feigning shock for the cameras for a few news cycles. In fact, Touré, co-host of MSNBC’s The Cycle, has been popping off some Foxilicious bullshit via twitter:

He’s the Commander in Chief. RT @kirstenpowers10: You are fine w the White House deciding who is guilty and who should die?

There is no contradiction in opposing the drone killings of innocent civilians and supporting the drone killings of Al Qaeda leaders.

Obama as Commander in Chief is tasked with leading our war against Al Qaeda. He can & should kill AQ leaders whenever possible.

No. RT @mchastain81: Dear @Toure. A US citizen is allowed due process no matter what they have done, even an AQ leader.

Amazing. Also, disgusting.

I’d like to gracefully pivot from the drone memos to the 2nd amendment standoff emerging between sheriffs and the feds. Our very own Sally Mauk did a phenomenal interview with Lake County’s Sheriff Doyle on MPR (listen here).

Here’s the setup for the interview:

Five Montana sheriffs so far have publicly stated they will not enforce new executive orders or laws that seek to confiscate or control guns. The sheriffs from Sanders, Ravalli, Powell, Wibaux and Mussellshell counties believe such laws are a violation of the Second Amendment. Lake County Sheriff Jay Doyle has also sent out a press release saying law-abiding citizens have the right to own firearms, whether it be “one or one hundred.” He also vows to stop any federal effort to take guns away.

All of this is in reaction to proposed new legislation to once again ban so-called assault weapons, and tighten federal gun control laws. In tonight’s interview, Sheriff Doyle of Lake County talks with Montana Public Radio News Director Sally Mauk about his concerns, first outlined in his recent press release.

I share the sentiment, from the dejected left, that our constitutional crisis is the president’s justification for executing US citizens without due process based on “imminent threat” legal speak.

And, as I understand it, the constitutional crisis most consuming the right is the right to bear arms guaranteed by the 2nd amendment.

Between those two positions, I think we can find lots of common ground if we try.

by lizard

This may sound strange coming from a critic of the national police-state creep, but I’d like to say thank you to the Missoula Police Department, and I hope officers are getting the support they need to deal with the stress that they must be experiencing with all hell seemingly breaking loose lately.

It has been less than a month since an officer was run over during an attempted arrest for a probation violation. The incident put the officer in the hospital in serious condition.

Then, in just the past 48 hours, officers responded to an alleged sexual assault, where the suspect brandished a gun and the cops DIDN’T shoot him, which is a degree of restraint I’m afraid not every officer in the same situation would have exercised.

In a separate incident early this morning, three teenagers burglarized two houses and stole two cars, leading police on an 8 minute chase from Blue Mountain to Reserve Street (I waited for this story to pop up after j-girl tweeted about it this morning). Apparently a spike-strip had to be used, and a county patrol car was damaged, but no reported injuries. Still, a pretty intense situation.

While national trends militarizing and integrating local police departments with the feds is of great concern (and measures to limit domestic drone use is great news), our particular police department has some great people doing a very difficult job, like Detective Baker, who was recently commended in an op-ed from a survivor of rape, who the editors at the Missoulian allowed to remain anonymous.

So, for what it’s worth, this anonymous blogger appreciates having good people doing difficult work.

The Politics Of Beer

by lizard

Beer politics in Montana is fascinating for a number of reasons. One recent example of beer politics is republican Jeff Welborn’s (R-Dillon) failed attempt to move forward his anti-business regulation bill:

Draught Works Brewery owners Paul Marshall and Jeff Grant were busy reorganizing their brewing tanks last week to make room for newer, bigger tanks that will be delivered soon.

The new tanks will allow Draught Works, which opened in 2011, to eventually double its capacity, said co-owner Paul Marshall.

The young brewery is thriving in its home on Toole Avenue. But the growth planning at Draught Works continued with Marshall and Grant keeping a weary eye on what’s happening at the 2013 Montana legislative session.

Particularly of interest was a Montana Tavern Association-endorsed bill draft requested by Rep. Jeff Welborn, R-Dillon, which proposed limiting beer sold on premises of small breweries to 10 percent of annual production. The other 90 percent would have to be sold through distributors.

Draught Works sells 100 percent of its beer in its taproom.

“It would kill us,” Marshall said of the “90/10” idea.

The bill has been dropped, but it’s a frightening prospect for Marshall, who noted that the complicated set of state laws under which microbreweries currently operate will heavily dictate how his business moves forward.

Like Republicans at the national level, there doesn’t seem to be any principles involved when it comes to servicing special interest groups (in this case, the Montana Tavern Association) other than servicing that special interest group, even if it means crafting legislation that suppresses one form of business—microbreweries—in order to directly benefit their competitors.

I hope Dave Budge at The Montana Regulation Project is taking note of the desire of the MTA to put even more barriers up in order to stop business growth in Montana.

Another example of the hoops needed to expand a microbrewery is developing tonight, in the chambers of Missoula’s City Council, where Tim O’Leary is appealing council for a conditional use permit. The Missoula Independent reported a few weeks ago about what O’Leary has already had to do to even get to this point:

Last week, O’Leary announced via Facebook that Kettlehouse will soon split into three separate companies. Work is already underway to relocate the Myrtle Street brewhouse to an adjacent building, which will become the new headquarters for Kettlehouse Brewing. The newly established Myrtle Street Taphouse LLC—owned by O’Leary’s mother, Helen O’Leary—will take over the existing taproom location and is currently acquiring a beer and wine license to keep the taps flowing. Kettlehouse’s Northside location will be renamed the Northside Brewing Company and operate as-is under sole ownership of O’Leary’s wife, Suzy Rizza.

“The major difference is the brewery will be owned by me and the beer bar will be owned by Mom,” O’Leary wrote Jan. 18. “We don’t expect to change our serving hours or quantities drastically. In fact we may not even serve wine. That is an option that the proposed license allows but does not require. Our goal is to maintain the atmosphere at 602 Myrtle that our longtime customers have come to love.”

And since Myrtle Street Taphouse is a separately owned and operated company, Kettlehouse will be able to produce enough beer to satisfy increasing demand among wholesalers without upsetting local desire for neighborhood taprooms. O’Leary told the Indy last week that numerous other Montana breweries have already applied similar business models to comply with the state’s varied and restrictive microbrew laws.

Though it sounds like Tim’s plan will be granted forward momentum by the council, there will be an additional condition to the conditional use permit for the Kettlehouse: a 10pm curfew.

An amendment from Mike O’Herron, and supported by Caitlin Copple and Jason Wiener, failed tonight, which means the anti-business victory tonight goes to Alex Taft, Ed Childers, and Bob Jaffe, who opposed late hours (a BIG THANKS to @KeilaSzpaller for live tweeting City Council).

What makes this decision appear very selective and very unfair is the proximity of a fabulous dive called Flippers, where you can drink beer and cheap wine (generous pours) until 2am, and gamble till the sun comes up.

Did I mention Flippers is a block from the Kettlehouse?

In all fairness, if I lived in that neighborhood, I probably wouldn’t be really excited about the possibility of having more drunk people around until 2am either. NIMBYism is a powerful force, and often transcends ideology.

That said, I’m glad the Kettlehouse will no longer by constrained by a 10,000 barrel production cap, because the constraint is solely there to insulate the established alcohol cartel from competition.

My Last Super Bowl

by lizard

Imagine sinking your comfortable ass in her plush leather seat, then slowly curling your fingers around her steering wheel. Imagine striding across a high school dance floor, seeking her, then taking possession, her pliant body submitting to your will—if only for a few seconds, and despite the consequence of a black eye for violating another male’s property.

Just a formulaic Super Bowl ad, right? Buy an Audi, Dad, and your son will suddenly buck the social hierarchy that probably bullied you into the redirected mission of getting rich enough to equalize the social imbalance that cock-blocked you back in the day.

The fantasy Audi uses to sell its cars is an extension of the conquest narrative, a very old tale, which goes like this: to the victors go the spoils.

This year, the Baltimore Ravens are the victors, so if anyone on the winning team feels like including some celebratory fucking in their post-game revelry, there is plenty of sex trafficking that goes on during the Super Bowl:

In the past year, authorities in Louisiana have been working to raise awareness about the rampant sex trafficking that has historically accompanied the Super Bowl. While there is a widespread perception that human trafficking is a problem only in foreign countries, data from the U.S. Department of Justice show the average American prostitute begins working between the ages of 12 and 14.

Established in 2006, the Louisiana Human Trafficking Task Force, comprised of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, plus faith-based and nongovernmental organizations, has been meeting regularly to try to increase trafficking arrests and rescue the victims.

As a tourist destination, New Orleans attracts sex workers year-round, said Bryan Cox, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in New Orleans. But many of those young women are not here by choice. So, in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, both outreach and undercover efforts have ramped up.

Underneath the military-worship and the damage-control over concussions, underneath the culturally vapid advertising and the ritual indulgences of eating and drinking too much, what is left of American Football to celebrate?

When half the lights went dark at the start of the 3rd quarter tonight, the ghost of Katrina emerged through snarky tweets mocking how America was getting upset about being denied its gladiator entertainment in the same space where people languished in misery for days after hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.

Thirty minutes later, the violence on the field was able to resume, and the Ravens survived. For those who wanted a close game, you got it.

For me, I’m done watching American football.

A Burning Man For Ants

by lizard

I have never been to Burning Man, but after watching Timelapse-icus Maximus 2012 “A Burning Man for Ants” Tilt-Shift Time-lapse by James Cole, Byron Mason & Jason Phipps I would absolutely love to go.

by lizard

I have been immensely inspired this past week by a poet I just discovered—Brenda Hillman. This is from her short Poetry Foundation bio:

One of contemporary poetry’s most eclectic formalists, Brenda Hillman is known for poems that draw on elements of found texts and document, personal narrative, confession, and literary theory. Hillman told Contemporary Authors: “I am interested in the presence of spirit in matter and in how to have joy in a divided universe—that’s what my poetry is mainly about. My tools are irony, the image, the broken narrative, and an intensely personal voice.”

This week’s poetry post is a treasure trove of material. I start with a section of an interview between Tod Marshall and Brenda Hillman, from a book titled Range of the Possible, which I featured in this post last September. Next is a poem by Brenda Hillman, titled Cheap Gas, from her book, Loose Sugar (Wesleyan University Press, 1997). Then I conclude with a poem I wrote when a line from Leonard Cohen’s song There Is a War compelled me to distill the recent (and excellent) Missoula Independent feature Joystick warfare hell, which tells the story of a terrible memory a drone “pilot” will live with for the rest of his life.

Have a safe weekend! Continue Reading »




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