Archive for July 8th, 2013

by lizard

When your choice is between bad and worse, it’s logical to choose the least bad thing. For example, if you transport oil and other fuel by train, this can happen:

Early Saturday morning a train carrying crude oil that was supposed to be stopped for the night rolled downhill toward the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec — less than 10 miles from the U.S. border near Eustis, Maine. It then derailed and caused several powerful explosions and set fires that were still burning on Sunday.

The explosions destroyed the town’s center and killed at least one person, though police are having a difficult time reconciling missing persons reports and expect the death toll to increase. Lac-Megantic’s town center has bars and restaurants that become popular in the summertime, but these places of nighttime revelry turned into disaster zones as explosions caused intense heat, flames, and large plumes of black smoke. The town’s fire chief described the scene as a war zone.

Honestly though, words fail at the scope of this blaze:

Contrast that image with the oil gushing down suburban Mayflower, Arkansas:

I’m sure that contrast isn’t being missed by TransCanada, and its political champions here in Montana, like Jon Tester, Max Baucus and Brian Schweitzer.

Montana politics is another arena where bad and worse gets dressed up and flung around like monkey poo against plexi-glass.

To keep with the poo analogy, imagine the poo is dark money. The worse peddlers of dark money were investigated by Frontline, focusing on American Tradition Partnership. If you haven’t seen it, please do.

For the merely bad (at this point) we have the Council for a Sustainable America, connected to the assumed senatorial candidate and former Montana Guv’ner, Brian Schweitzer. I’d suggest reading John Adams’ whole piece, but here’s an excerpt:

On Monday, FOX Business News reported that Schweitzer, a potential 2014 Democratic front-runner for Montana’s open U.S. Senate seat, in 2009 formed a 527 political action committee that later gave more than $300,000 to a Washington, D.C.-based political nonprofit.

FOX’s David Asman alleged the Helena and Washington-based nonprofit groups appeared to have been formed for the sole purpose of doing political work for Schweitzer, a violation of IRS rules.

Asman connected the Helena-based PAC Council for Sustainable America to Schweitzer because on the group’s 2010 990 report to the IRS it listed the same Helena post office box address as Schweitzer’s 2008 gubernatorial campaign.

The merely bad continues with this story when you consider the role Dave Gallik played. Again from Adams’ piece:

Former Rep. Dave Gallik, D-Helena, the man Schweitzer appointed in 2011 as Commissioner of Political Practices, was treasurer of the Helena-based group until it dissolved in 2010. Gallik’s signature appeared on the group’s 2010 990 form in August 2011, but Hall said the group had not been active for more than a year at that point and the 990 filing was a required formality.

I find Dave Gallik’s involvement in this brewing scandal intriguing because, back in January of 2012, a “big brouhaha” went down at the Office of Political Practices, overseen by Mr. Gallik. That link is to a Cowgirl post, so take that into consideration:

A big brouhaha erupted this weekend at the Office of Political Practices.

On Sunday, John Adams of the Great Falls Tribune broke the story that four workers at that office, permanent state employees, went to Adams and told him that Gallik was committing ethical violations because he was mixing his public duties with with his private law job.

According to the Adams story and subsequent reports, the four women, pictured below, alleged that Gallik sent e-mails on the state system in which he conducted his private legal business affairs, which is not permitted. The four clerical employees also alleged that Gallik had not properly filled out his time sheet, and was crediting himself for more hours than he had actually worked. Gallik did send emails to his law office, the Tribune article revealed, and he admitted to having filled out his time sheet improperly but said it was done under a misunderstanding of the rules of state compensation. He said he subsequently corrected the error after receiving guidance from these women and from the governor’s chief advisor.

There was a definite buzz going around the web after this story appeared. Some said it was Gallik’s folly to try to juggle these two careers. Some bloggers sensed a fishy smell surrounding the entire situation. Highly discussed on several blogs were various suggested motives of the employees to have gone through Gallik’s office and take photos of the content of his desk as they did.

Also a big topic of discussion was the photo of the four women, glaring out at readers in a marinade of rage, with a dash satisfaction, several of their faces exhibiting a barely detectable yet unmistakable smirk. Predictably, some sexist comments made their way around the blogs. Here we stick to business and facts.

Sure, business and facts.

Politics is a dirty game, which is why the majority of us non-insiders get rather disgusted by the lips and assholes that are a part of the sausage making process.

But that’s the system we have.

It might not, at first, seem applicable, but it might be useful to consider the concept of harm reduction:

Harm reduction can be described as a strategy directed toward individuals or groups that aims to reduce the harms associated with certain behaviours. When applied to substance abuse, harm reduction accepts that a continuing level of drug use (both licit and illicit) in society is inevitable and defines objectives as reducing adverse consequences. It emphasizes the measurement of health, social and economic outcomes, as opposed to the measurement of drug consumption.

Our political system is addicted to money, and our species is addicted to oil. Because abstinence is unrealistic, the question becomes how can we reduce the harm of these addictions?

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