Archive for the ‘Common Sense’ Category

by jhwygirl

The City of Missoula’s attempts to criminalize homelessness has reached a ridiculous crescendo. Downtown is a mess and don’t you know, it’s all the homeless’ fault. Not the drunks – served at downtown bars – who smash up downtown businesses. Not the drunks assaulting innocent pedestrians on their way home from the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival – nope..it’s those darn homeless.

Of latest debate is the ability of people to – yeah, get this – sit downtown. Because, you know, no one should be coming to Missoula Montana and have the audacity to sit. In downtown! Of all places!

Dan Cederberg, a member of Mayor Engen’s downtown advisory committee, is quoted in this Missoulian article covering today’s committee meetings as saying that ‘the council has heard plenty of testimony that many people who sit downtown also end up harassing and intimidating people, so the act is a “gateway” to poor behavior. He said the result is a public safety issue the city must address.’

Sitting is a “gateway” to poor behavior?

Liberals and Progressives? Please phone home because your city is lost.

I’ll tell you what is “gateway” behavior to a poor downtown lacking growth: Public officials and downtown businesses and commerce organizations standing by (because, you know, sitting is bad) with nary a whisper while one of the largest and most historic pieces of commerce real estate not only in Missoula but in western Montana is eyed as a viable site for the county public library.

Let that sink in: the county friggin’ library. A non-tax paying entity taking up one of the largest contiguous parcels of downtown Missoula. A block and a half off of riverfront, and on the main bridged street through downtown?

And before the Friends of the Library come out and whine about me hating all books, I’ll pray that ya’all believe me when I say I’m a big fan of libraries and book reading. Frankly, more people should do it. Newspapers too. Everyone should read and do it often. As often as possible.

And I’m even OK if you sit while doing it!

Yeah – downtown Missoula is turning into a tax-free haven – let’s not forget the University either.

Please grow the hell up and quit blaming everyone but yourselves people.

by jhwygirl

Lizard has had two posts now calling out local democrats – Thanks for Nothing, Democrats and Rape Culture, Missoula Democrats, and Criminalizing Poverty – on their lack of acting with principles most often associated with the Democratic Party.

Lizard points out in his first post that the overwhelmingly progressive city council (yeah, they run as nonpartisans but we all know they’re democrats) are working to criminalize homelessness. He points out that the Board of County Commissioners (all democrats) is suing the feds, saying they’ve no jurisdiction over our county attorney, the illustrious Fred Van Valkenburg, and then Liz points out that oVan Valkenburg – a democrat, himself – chose to not only ignore a county initiative that decriminalized marijuana, but that he actually notched up prosecutions of possession!

A comment from former Poverello Director and State Representative Ellie Hill (HD94 – Missoula) takes us to Lizard’s second post where he takes on former Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir’s recent editorial in support of Van Valkenburg and Missoula County’s lawsuit against the feds. Now, admittedly Muir’s politics are unknown since he wasn’t an elected official – but he is standing not only in support of the very Tea Partyesque lawsuit, he’s also referring to the USDOJ as “ultra-liberal.” Liz then continues on to call out Ms. Hill’s apparent change in positions on her advocacy for the homeless, citing quotes by Hill in Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller’s blog, Missoula Red Tape.

For good measure, Lizard closes out his post with reference to former US Representative Pat Williams’ ‘knucklehead” comment about rapists at the University of Montana, finely documented by the truly lustrous architect of words, Patrick Duganz.

Yes, it’s hard to find what many might refer to as “true progressives” or “good democrats” here in Missoula these days. Wagons are circled, that’s for sure. That “speak no ill” rule certainly applies in state democrat politics.

A few days ago a friend pointed out to me that Ravalli County – a conservative Tea Party bastion – sure knows how to address incompetence, even when it involves what is an elected office. That person was right. With unproven allegations of malfeasance, Ravalli Board of County Commissioners had County Treasurer Valerie Stamey escorted from the building by the county sheriff. They then hired an outside audit firm, brought in a interim treasurer and also a retired judge to independently oversee the investigation. Stamey remains on paid leave as the investigation continues.

Compare that to Missoula County Board of County Commissioners. With serious allegations made by the USDOJ who have quite clearly said that County Attorney Van Valkenburg has “put women’s safety at risk,” Van Valkenenburg apparently still has access to his office! There are not only allegations of violations of state and federal law, there is significant documentation by the USDOJ that civil rights were violated – that’s the kind of stuff that exposes the county to millions of dollars in lawsuits.

Instead, the county steams forward not by addressing the allegations, but on the hope of a now disgraced county attorney who thinks that the feds don’t have jurisdiction over civil rights violations.

This situation is no longer about who has jurisdiction over who – it’s over who violated civil rights and who is going to continue to maintain the status quo.

With documented allegations of civil rights violations and the failure of the Board of County Commissioners to act, it’s not going to be just Fred Van Valkenburg and Missoula County’s name on the lawsuits that have an easy in to being filed. His enablers will also be on the hook, should they fail to act.

And – dare I suggest – that may include the State of Montana, since there are documented allegations of state law in that 20 page document also. I’ve only heard crickets out of Helena, so far.

Missoula was worried about the cost of implementing the USDOJ’s recommendations? They might start to think about those civil rights lawsuits. That stuff can be real real expensive.

Look – Van Valkenburg poked at the dragon. The dragon bit back in a big way. In doing so, the dragon shined a big light on civil rights violations. If anyone things things are going to get easier, they’re dreaming.

Not only that – Van Valkenburg can’t defend himself or the county from these allegations. Consider that. Van Valkenburg had to hire outside council to sue the feds…he and the county sure can’t defend themselves against the civil rights violations that are now on their way down the pike.

by jhwygirl

I am still stuck at page 17 of the damning USDOJ report serving as all but an indictment of Fred Van Valkenburg, pretty much because I can’t see fit to stomach more shirking of duties and violations of basic civil rights by Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg’s criminal department. More than a few things have stuck with me. I’ve also had some time to read the comments at the Missoulian, too, and feel like firing off on two items this rain-soaked evening.

First off, it appears from the comments to the Missoulian article there is still a large contingent of people out there that seem to hold on to Van Valkenburg’s dream that the USDOJ does not hold authority over his office. Many of these people don’t even address the veracity of the USDOJ report – confirming that rape nation and rape apologists and rape culture thrive here in Missoula.

Scary disgusting stuff, really.

Less disturbing in the comments – but still troubling – is the apparent lack of reading comprehension skills among this group of people. It’s not like they had to read to page 12 or anything. The USDOJ summarily dismisses Van Valkenburg’s whining about the USDOJ’s lack of authority over his office quite thoroughly beginning right there on page one. In the end, the mere fact that Van Valkenburg’s office has taken federal monies suffices here – which I might add illustrates yet another legal inadequacy of Fred Van Valkenburg: contractual law.

Oh, I may as well throw in one more legal inadequacy here – the ability to select competent counsel, since he’s dropped $50K into outside counsel to fight the feds on this point.

I look forward to the Federal District Court’s summary judgement here on this point. A summary judgement is, shall we say, a pretty embarrassing way to lose a case?

The second thing I want to take on this evening is what the title suggests – Van Valkenburg’s office’s role in the USDOJ’s investigation and subsequent settlement with the City of Missoula Police. Here, again, the USDOJ lays out repeated situations where the police investigated and documented only to have their work fall into the black cave that we now know is Van Valkenburg’s County Attorney’s Office.

City police apparently got so frustrated with their work going no where, that they created a summary sheet with a spot for the county attorney’s office to provide feedback. Frequently, these weren’t even returned – and when they were, they usually contained only two words: “insufficient evidence.”

That occurred, btw, on a case where the rapist confessed.

Missoula Police are well-trained. Many would say, too much so. This aspect does, though, bode well – or should – for victims of violent crime. Missoulians certainly are getting their tax dollar’s worth in this aspect. But if Van Valkenburg’s tutelage is failing victims of sexual assault, it’s surely failing us in prosecution of other victims of violent crimes as well.

Van Valkenburg has made much of his complaint that the feds want him to have his own staff investigator. Here, too, the USDOJ makes hay of Van Valkenburg’s claims, pointing out that his office fails to coordinate with the police. While they also fail to coordinate with the police, his office also fails to tell the police where further evidence might be obtained to make a case more easily prosecuted. They’re not telling him to hire his own investigator – they’re telling him he should work together with his law enforcement colleagues.

Which is kinda what the police were looking for when they created a summary sheet and a blank section looking for feedback.

City of Missoula Police referred 85 cases to to the county attorney’s office for prosecution between 2008 and 2012. Charges were only filed on 14. Now, think about that: In an unknown number of reported sexual assaults, the well-trained Missoula Police investigated and came to the conclusion that they had sufficient evidence to file charges on 85 cases, yet the county attorney’s office eliminated 83% of them, without even any feedback to police in 29 of those..

Would that shatter any police officer’s work ethic if 83% of your efforts on just sexual assault crimes were shot down by the county attorney’s office?

From page 9:

In addition, Missoula County Attorney’s Office’s approach to sexual violence in Missoula has had significant, detrimental impacts on the law enforcement community’s overall response to sexual assault. The work of Missoula Police detectives is compromised by the fact that, even if the expend the resources to conduct a comprehensive investigation, the County Attorney’s Office often will not even charge the case. One woman reported that the Missoula Police detective in her case informed her that because “no one had a limb cut off and there was no video of the incident,” prosecutors “wouldn’t see this [the rape} as anything more than a girl getting drunk at a party.” whether or not the detective’s characterization was correct, the County Attorney’s actions over time left this detective – and many others like him – with the understanding that non-stranger sexual assault of women, and especially drug-facilitated sexual assault, mut involve physical force or overwhelming and irrefutable evidence to be considered a crime worthy of prosecution.

Mother Jones reporter and Montana native Dana Liebelson quotes a statement emailed to her by Van Valkenburg: “I think that everything the DOJ is saying about our office is false. These people are as unethical as any I have ever seen. They obviously have a political agenda they want to push and the truth does not matter to them.”

Really Fred? you want to go down whining like an 8 year old? Everyone’s picking on you?

If we’re to believe Van Valkenburg, confessed rapists lie, rape victims lie, and yes, even the Missoula Police lie.

I’m not buying it, and I’m not sorry that I don’t. And neither should you.

by jhwygirl

It’s a pretty hefty charge to make, but as Missoula County resident, #OccupyMissoula participant and attorney Taryn Hart points out, it’s unsafe for not only the occupiers, but for the intoxicated people Missoula City Police are allegedly dropping off at the occupation, located on the Missoula County Courthouse lawn.

A tactic, she explains at her blog Plutocracy Files, used by police against Occupy movements across the nation.

Occupy Missoula is an alcohol and drug-free encampment. The agreed to this on day #1. To hear that city police are delivering intoxicated and belligerent people off at the encampment is troubling.

This is something that should be troubling to the community, too. These types of actions can leave the City exposed to any number of lawsuits should something occur which results in injury or death.

Hear it in Ms. Hart’s words:

I had heard from several of the 24/7 occupiers at Occupy Missoula that the police have dropped off drunken, belligerent people at the occupation. I happened to be there when just that happened. A woman who was extremely drunk and was belligerent was dropped off by Officer Kasey Williams of the Missoula Police Department, Badge #348. She headed directly into the occupation and was belligerent and threatening. This very small occupation was forced to handle this on their own (which, by the way, they did very well).

As soon as I left I called Sgt. Jerry Odlin to speak to him about it. I informed him of the situation and informed him that the occupation has rules prohibiting intoxication. He denied that anything had been done to create disruption at the Occupy Missoula occupation.

These are serious claims to make. Taryn Hart has put herself out there in her own words with specific allegations to this incident. She is calling on not only the community but the media to contact both the Missoulian and Missoula Mayor Engen to let them know that this type of behavior is unacceptable and dangerous and needs to stop.

~~~~
I’m also going to add this – I caught KECI NBC Montana’s report on Occupy Missoula either Wednesday or Thursday evening, with Steve Fetveit speaking of “feces in the bushes,” while Heidi Meili countered – with a distressed look on her face and concern in her voice – about the “health risks” exposed to the community.

Now – I don’t get downtown every day, and I don’t know if anyone’s ever noticed but we’ve got homeless people here in Missoula. In fact, there are homeless people everywhere across the nation. There has been – again, in fact – homeless people around on this earth since the beginning of time. Some of them have mental issues, and others have no other choice – it’s a mix of humanity, much as it is for those who sleep in beds under roofed structures.

Homeless people – and this is a factual reality – don’t have easy access to bathrooms. I am not saying that what occurs because of this reality is acceptable by any means, but I am saying this is a factor that, it appears, many people have chosen to push out of their mind as they turn their sight (and voice) to the plight of homeless people.

Having been to the Missoula County courthouse a few times, I can tell you that there was feces – and lots of other stuff – hanging out there in the bushes for a long long time. This spring – or was it last fall? – they were doing some renovations down there. Couldn’t enter in through the front door. Well, I had walked up to that front door not paying attention as I sipped my soy chai latte, no foam, from Broadway Bagels…which left me having to tramp to the west side door out by the parking lot on the side of the building.

I got to walk by all those bushes and squeeze through the line of them over there bordering the parking lot. It looked like people were living in there. There was clothing and bundles and garbage. All kinds of crap – and I do mean, literally, crap. I remember noting at the time how odd it was that the County Courthouse, such a visible public place, could house such an amount of humanity and its garbage behind the bushes and no one seemed to notice.

Maybe Steve Fetveit should do the gentlemanly thing and accompany Heidi Meili in her perfectly coiffed hair and 3 1/2″ heels down to the Missoula County Courthouse – in broad daylight so as to ensure their safety – and ask a few people down there how many bags of garbage and crap they carted out of the grounds of the courthouse in the first few days of #occupyMissoula?

Maybe Steve Febveit Heidi Meili should then take a short walk up to the Poverello Center during the lunch hour to see the unwashed homeless as they gather for one of the three warm meals a day they may be lucky to get – along with a chance to perhaps wash up and go to the restroom. Ask ’em where they go to the bathroom during the night.

The news may shock those news reporters.

There are insufficient services here for the homeless. Homelessness is a fact of humanity. Grow up and deal with it. Occupy Missoula is and has been since the first day. Hell – I stood on the courthouse lawn the first day and a homeless lady came up and, asking me if I was in charge, continued to berate me for not having anything more to eat than salad.

Does Occupy Missoula have a homeless problem? You bet ya. Its the same homeless problems that Missoula has had since this earth produced man on earth.

Appalled by feces as the Courthouse people? It didn’t magically show up with Occupy Missoula.

by jhwygirl

Every year, the Montana Pride Network puts on a gathering somewhere in Montana to celebrate diversity and equality. This year’s celebration was held in Bozeman, which rolled out a gracious welcome to all who attended this state-level event held June 17th, 18th and 19th.

In the video below you’ll see starting around the 30 second mark our own fabulous b’birder (albeit infrequent, but we don’t hold it against him because he is doing really fabulous work with the Montana Human Rights Network) Jamee Greer. You’ll also see another person whom I respect, Bozeman Mayor Jeff Krauss, speaking on the important of equality. Most politicians here in Montana wouldn’t speaking so publicly on this issue – Krauss proposed Bozeman’s equality ordinance at the first public meeting after he took office.

“You Are Loved” is the title:

You Are Loved from Wet Paint Studios on Vimeo.

The video was done by Wet Paint Studios. It is a film partnership started by Vanessa Naive and Jeff Dougherty, and this is their first video documentary. You can also hit that link and go to their facebook…but I’m all yucky on facebook, so I’m not linking it here.

:)

I look forward to the day that equality for all is just the way it is. That we don’t even have to talk about equality or gay marriage as if gay marriage is different from marriage. I long for a day when government stays out of churches and churches stay out of government. How can one human being deny another human being his human right to express love?

The time is coming. Equality is coming. Let’s bring it here faster by speaking openly in support of equality, whether you are straight, gay, lesbian or queer. We are all brothers and sisters. It’s time to speak for each other.

By CFS

In the debate over finding a new home for Missoula’s Poverello Center, much of the community’s attention has been captured by concerns of simply moving the homeless “problem” into a different area of town and how any spill-over may affect people’s children and home value rather than how a new and modern facility can improve the quality of life for not only homeless people and families but for the community as a whole.

The NIMBYs have taken over the asylum and seem reluctant to give back the keys.  Many people who comment on this topic think that the best solution would be to simply move the Pov to the edge of town, preferably adjacent to the interstate, to allow the homeless to keep moving on once they have visited the Pov and to more the “problem” outside of downtown away from view and out of people’s minds.

Dallas has found a different solution – one that involves providing a new standard of best-practices – by providing  services that aim to get people off the streets and back into housing and steady employment. The Bridge Homeless Assistance Center, operated by a local Dallas non-profit, has received international recognition for its innovative approach to packaging transitional services together in a single facility.  The Bridge is located on the edge of downtown Dallas where it easily accessible to not only the homeless, but well situated to create lasting community partnerships that can have a profound affect on the success of transitional services.  Successful enough that in a three-year period The Bridge has transitioned 982 people in permanent housing and placed 1,588 into jobs.

Also since the opening of The Bridge in 2008, “chronic homeless has been reduced by 57%… the local crime rate has reduced by more than 20%,” while  The Bridge has  saved the City of Dallas $3 million dollars in emergency services costs.  That, to me, seem like a well placed investment of community resources.  Missoula isn’t Dallas when it comes to the amount of resources we have to spend, but one of the strengths of our community is that we like to punch above our weight class.

As long as the conversation is focused simply on the future location of the Pov we aren’t getting to the heart of what this debate should be about… what is best for Missoula and what will bring the most benefits to our community.  The Dallas model looks to be a better option than trying to hide the problem away in some undesirable corner of Missoula.

By CFS

We all know that corn ethanol takes away resources from growing food, but by how much might astonish you.  According to author Alexis Madrigal in his book Powering the Dream, USDA statistics from 2010 show that fully 1/3 of the United States corn harvest went into our collective gas tanks.

That 1/3 of US corn production is akin to a subsidy for the wealthy.  You see, the more wealth and income a person has the more cars a person owns and consequently the more miles a person tends to drive (who wants to be on a bus with a bunch of stinky people), consuming proportionally more gas.  Conversely, the higher up the income scale one climbs the less a person spends on food as a proportion of their income.  The exact opposite is true of the lower-income scales, whome spend a much larger proportion of income simply feeding themselves and their families while spending less on transportation.  So, corn ethanol subsidies are essentially robbing from the poor and giving to the rich, a kind of reverse Robin Hood.

Bringing it down to the scale of Missoula, would you rather help out the people that live on the South Hills in Mansion Heights, or the people that live in doublewides in East Missoula?

Just how much is 1/3?  The US corn harvest in 2010 was 13.1 billion bushels.  Yes that is 13.1 with a B! A record-setting year in terms of acreage under production and yield even in the face of record grain prices.

So, fully 4.3 billion bushels of corn was converted into ethanol.  Those 4.3 billion bushels yielded 12.1 billion gallons of ethanol (based on my calculations from the ratio I derived thanks to this link) out of a total US supply of 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol which gives us 10% of the total gasoline supply.

That’s a lot of numbers… but bear with me.

So, to fill just 10% of our voracious appetite for fuel (18 million barrels of oil/day) uses roughly 26.4 million acres of American (Fuck Yeah!) farmland.  So while the addition of corn ethanol to our fuel supply hasn’t put much of a dent into American gas prices or our consumption of foreign oil, you can see in the chart below just how much biofuels have effected the price of corn.  The steep increase in price coincides nicely with the increase in total corn used for ethanol seen in the chart here (scroll down toward the bottom).

And also coincides nicely with the increase in the commodity price of beef.  Beef, it’s where most of the corn goes.

Obviously, the increase in price isn’t all due to increases in the amount of corn ethanol produced, but the pattern fits nicely together.  The real point of all these numbers I’ve thrown in front of you is to show the sheer scale of the impact that ethanol has on the food market (quite a lot) and the extent of the impact on the fuels market (almost non-existent).

In the end ethanol subsidies are part of the larger package of policies in this country that give breaks to those with an excessively disproportionate share of this country’s wealth.  These subsidies might not be that large in the scheme of things relating to our total budget deficit, but they are symptomatic of our larger cultural tendency to reward the rich and punish the poor.

by appalachianfreedom

I am listening to my first Lady Gaga album today, a gift from a friend. I decided to Google Ms. Gaga to learn a bit more about her when I stumbled upon an interview in which she admitted to leaving the love of her life for her career and indicated that she may never marry. This really struck me personally, as I pretty much made the same decision in order to continue my education and travel to new places. In the wake of the most recent publicly condemned sexual tryst perpetrated by a male politician (Weiner), I thought I could squeeze in a rant regarding America’s desire to cling to its imagined narrative of the family unit.

Let’s begin with the news from the 2010 census that married households are no longer in the majority. Only 48% of households reporting contained a married couple. By contrast, in 1950 that figure was 78%. Demographics researchers point to many factors influencing this shift including a higher proportion of college educated people, employment instability, and income inequality. On a side note, I wonder how marriage equality for the gay and lesbian community would affect these numbers?

We may not soon know because both the notions of marriage and family are polluted with imagined traditions and mores (like most of America’s narrative). These falsehoods are perpetuated through the Christian-right. A simple week spent reading about the history of marriage in America, however, would clear up any and all questions regarding the “tradition” of marriage. I would suggest Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation by Nancy Cott, the Stanley Woodward professor of history and American studies at Yale. In her book, Cott reveals that attitudes and norms about sexuality in our country were far different than today, and highly variable, especially in the early American west.

Marriage following the American Revolution was a hodgepodge mix of civil “contracts” which established gender roles through a series duties and legal rewards. These contracts were not only between the two consenting parties but also with their respective communities (hence the witness needed to be married, the questioning of the audience as to whether the two should be married, and the church bells that would ring signifying that the community was to enter a contract). These contracts were beneficial to men in that they owned all of their wives current and future earnings. The contracts were beneficial to women because their husbands were obliged to protect and provide for them and their children.

This is not the only perk, as you may be aware, as married men and women enjoy many privileges not afforded to single people. While most of us may be familiar with the tax incentives, a 1996 General Accounting Office report found over a thousand instances where being married granted a benefit, right, or special status. There is a definite economic benefit to being married and that is the true origin of the creation of marriage. During the American Revolution, the Christian monogamists were in the minority globally, which was discovered and well documented during British colonialism. It was fortunate for them at the time that the early American revolutionaries envisioned the union of marriage mirroring the union of the colonies. Marriage was the “sublime and refined… principle of union.” The belief was that society would benefit from monogamy.

The portion of society that benefitted the most was the upper-class. Arranged marriages were ways to unite family business and capital to ensure that they stayed tied to certain bloodlines. Not a surprise, everything that required property or legal rights went to husband. The wife was a feme covert – meaning that she had no legal recourse in contracts, assets, or suits without the consent of her husband. Wives were also not allowed to participate in politics of their own choosing, instead they were confined to their husband’s political affiliation. In a simplification of the institution, husbands owned their wives and all of their assets legally through marriage at this time.

Gender was not the only realm in which marriage was used to discriminate. To perpetuate the white majority ruling class, interracial marriages were not permitted. Not just between white and black, but between white and anything non-white. The list included Asians, Indians, and non-anglo Europeans. To give an idea of how prevalent this marriage discrimination was, some states had laws that prohibited interracial marriage until 1967 (Loving v. Virginia).

My point is that when Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-Minnesota, 6th district) continues to publicly denounce marriage equality for the gay and lesbian community as she did at the Faith and Freedom Conference in D.C. this week, she is not acknowledging the evolution of marriage in America that allowed her to do so. Perhaps marriage was originally intended for “one man and one woman,” but if we are being strictly traditional in marriage, Rep. Bachmann would have to speak her views through her husband, assuming that he shares those same views of course. She seems to be alright with the evolution of marriage that allowed her more equality with her husband, but is against any further evolution in which she has no benefit.

On a personal note, I think that the idea of marriage is rapidly deteriorating in our country. We are so painfully reminded each day that lifelong monogamy might not be ideal for everyone. I propose that instead of seeking equality in marriage for same-sex marriages, let’s instead abolish the economic perks that marriage affords people. I realize that this may be a bit circular, but investigating purchasing my first home recently, I realized that it makes about as much economic sense to have Jim Cramer as your broker as it would to be single and buy a home. As with everything else; it seems that the facts, both historical and statistical, are meaningless to some people. We will never get anywhere until we change the values that people base their decisions upon. Yes, I am talking to you Rep. Bachman. I want you to consider the true historical framework of marriage, not just its distorted religious narrative.

Marriage was used to discriminate against sex, then race, and now sexual preference. I know that all we need is time for a mass paradigm shift to finally be accepting of same-sex relationships, but maybe we can speed to the next evolution of American marriage faster by combining the fight for equality while highlighting the ever-increasing failure it is as an institution. Lets dis-incentivize marriage!

Primary Source:

Cott, N. (2000). Public vows: A history of marriage and the nation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

by Lesley Lotto

Seriously?  I mean someone with your cojones on the House Floor to show your cojones online to unsuspecting Tweeps is SO.VERY.DISAPPOINTING Weiner.

Last week Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York said his Twitter account was hacked after a woman tweeted that the Congressman sent photos of his crotch to her which then went circulating on the Internet.  Weiner said at the time, after pressed repeatedly by journalists (who couldn’t press George W. on the Iraq war, but certainly wanted to know if these were Weiner’s private parts) that the photo may or may not have been him.  He could not say with certitude that it was or was not his Weiner all over Twitter. (And oh, what an unfortunate surname.) He also made some lighthearted jokes about the scandal to reporters trying to brush the whole, now unfortunately named, Weinergate scandal aside.  All the while a woman had been tweeting that Weiner sent her the photo and she was being hounded by the media.  Oh poor you!

Right wing websites went ballistic with the info.  Andrew Breitbart, famously known for some alleged creative editing in connection to another major news story, is now even more famous for posting Weiner’s Twitter pix.  Today, he said he was posting a “cache” of photos and communications he was sent that were between Weiner and yet another woman who says she too got pix of Weiner’s problem. I mean, shouldn’t he be off to rehab by now?

Weiner was holding a press conference as I typed this that I could not bear to watch as he gave his account of how he thought he was communicating with followers and friends or people that had become his friends (presumably after seeing his rather large package).  Some of the pictures are of a man in excellent physical condition.  There are others where he’s even proving it’s him by holding a piece of paper that says “me” with an arrow pointing squarely at his face.   There are also photos behind him which leads the viewer to believe he’s at his Congressional office.  Have you nothing better to do with your time sir?  How cruel reality is.

Here’s the rub for me, moments before John Edwards gets arrested for being an absolute shlub, Weiner comes out swinging saying his Twitter account was hacked.  I can’t take two in a week, let alone a day!  But Anthony really, I thought you were smarter than that!  Who hacks a Twitter feed? Sending photos of all things?  There is definitely plenty of spam on Twitter, but reports of widespread hacking?  Oh, I know it was a hacker in China. Or maybe someone bored waiting for Sony to get the Playstation Network back online again.  Really – why hack 140 characters?  Someone in a hurry?  Maybe I’m a Twitter neophyte.  I’ve heard about loads of Facebook hacking to be sure, but while all the Left Wingers were lining up behind Weiner, I had one corner of my mouth pointed upward, DO. NOT. BELIEVE.

Why in the world do I keep holding these characters up to a higher standard than the rest of us?  I mean we all spend our time taking pictures of our bodies and communicating online with strangers while fighting for our country, right?

by jhwygirl

Arizona’s is having a bit of a fire season down there. Not unusual for the state, really – Arizona has forests. It burns. Really, it should be prepared.

The fires they has going there are apparently stretching the resources of the state, having surpassed a cost of $3 million.

$3 million? Montana can spend that on a 4th of July weekend on a bad year.

Governor Jan Brewer said yesterday that “officials have so far spent some $3 million on efforts to put out the blaze and that she would consider asking the state or federal governments for help if the situation gets worse.”

Montana – even with this last tough legislative session – came out with a budget that includes $23 million for fire fighting efforts (with other funding in there for other emergency management items) for the next two years. Page C-10 of HB2.

I couldn’t find anything on the state’s website regarding fire-fighting costs (more my fault, I’m sure….it’s gotta be there somewhere – I searched the legislative audit stuff), but I did find this report from Headwaters Ecology which shows that just the home-related suppression costs on many recent fires (see page 12) surpasses the $3 million mark.

Montana undoubtedly got help from the feds…I do realize that happens on bad years – but it’s something that happens only for the worse fires, and only after Montana has surpassed its resources.

So if Arizona is busted on wildfire fighting as the bill approaches $3 million, I have to wonder if it was even prepared for something they reasonably should have known was going to happen?

Texas has been denied FEMA assistance for its fires this year. It has gotten money, but not the blanket funding they were looking for on costs that were at $54 million and rising.

Cruel, right? Texas is working on passing a budget that slashes $34 million to its own state fire agency. That’s one third of that agency’s budget.

Texas has forest and scrub land. It burns. Year after year. Nothing different there than Montana or Arizona or anywhere in the west.

Difference is, they seem to be expecting the feds – i.e., you and me – to pick up the tab for their disasters…the ones that they can’t seem to prepare for by providing some reasonable and prudent funding.

Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) is, of course, whining.

Perhaps he hasn’t heard GOP darling and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor say that the only funding the U.S. is going to see for disasters like the historic tornadoes we’ve seen will be offset by cuts elsewhere. Cantor was real comfortable as he said that last Sunday to Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation.

Both Texas and Arizona, it seems to me, have given up on preparing themselves for disasters that they really should be prepared for. Can’t just cut these budgets for things that you know are likely to happen and then whine when the feds deny you FEMA assistance.

Where I see Montana taking a hit – and haven’t seen much on actual cost estimates yet – is the flooding out east…and not really just east, as Judith Basin and Lewistown is seeing some crazy stuff too. The kind of flooding we are seeing this year will historically sit in the top 10 list for many areas…and higher for others.

Without a doubt, the historic flooding we’ve seen has exceeded anything we’ve set aside.

By CFS

Since the Republicans showed their true communist colors and adopted the slogan “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” with the passage of SB 423 ridding the fledgling medical marijuana industry of the profit motive patients will inevitably suffer and the black market will invariably fill the void left by the current caregiver system.

I wonder what the Republicans think all these MMJ growers will do once they become outlawed… Sell their equipment on craigslist? More likely, these growers that have sunk thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of dollars into their business will continue to grow for the black market where they can actually make money… Tax free at that. These people are small business entrepreneurs after all, and they just need government to get out of their way.

Anyway, there is a great Slate feature that I suggest anyone interested in this issues should read. The article is written by a woman whose son suffers from a severe form of autism and the only thing that she has found that helps her child is marijuana. There are four parts to the series spanning a two year period of her family’s struggle with the disorder and how, through the use of medical marijuana, they have been able to live a more normal and happy life.

by jhwygirl

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-Va.) delivered the GOP’s weekly address on Saturday, delving in to what he believes is the constitutional issue of health care reform. The Hill has the story, and the video.

I do believe that in almost all situations we all have something common….and McDonnell’s position is certainly one I agree with:

Regardless of party, we should all agree that the sooner we know if the law is constitutional, the better for the American people.

In fact, I really wish the Montana legislature took a look at this when they were proposing bills. It’d be really nice if any bill had some sort of constitutional review (for both the U.S. and the Montana constitutions) before any hearing in committee.

Sometimes there will be a comment – if there is a fiscal note produced – regarding legal issues. But not everything gets a fiscal note – and hell, even a lot of bills related to taxation don’t seem to get fiscal notes. I know I’ve heard hearings on tax related bills where there hasn’t been a fiscal note published. How in the hell is the public supposed to comment on bills when even a rudimentary analysis isn’t completed by the non-partisan legislative staff?

That way we’d have some reasonable assumptions about lawsuits that the state would have to defend in the future? I mean – that costs taxpayer dollars too.

Ahh, I’ve digressed…

Anyways…if I could propose a bill, it’d be that one – require any bill to have a informational review for constitutionality prior to committee hearing. That informational review should be required to be published….and not stuck in some “junk folder” in some back file.

by jhwygirl

The state’s Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked on HB161, the bill proposed by House Speaker Mike Milburn, that would repeal Montana’s Citizen Initiative 148, which passed in 2004

Sen. Milburn is a resident of Cascade, a member of the Grand Old Party and a man working on his 4th term in the House.

We can go on and on about the evils of repealing a citizen’s initiative that passed (I hear) by an pretty significant majority…and we can go on about the evils of the refusal of legislators to actually actively regulate marijuana since it having come into law (that would be 3 sessions, folks)…and we can go on about the hypocrisy of a bunch of so called conservatives creating more nanny state government…AND we can go on about the hypocrisy of a bunch of tea party anti-government types who embrace laws that tell the federal government that they can’t regulate Montana-made firearms yet don’t want to let sick people take proven medicine that has fewer side effects than Tylenol.

I’ll just link you to this article in the New York Times which quotes Bozeman Mayor Jeff Krauss on the job and investment-killing side effects of repealing medical marijuana in Montana:

Bozeman’s mayor, Jeff Krauss, a Republican, said he thought there was an element of economic fairness to be considered in the debate about medical marijuana’s future. “I don’t think anybody passed it thinking we were creating an industry,” he said, referring to the 2004 voter referendum. But like it or not, he said, it has become one, and legal investments in the millions of dollars have been made.

“Somewhere around 25 people have made anywhere from a $60,000 to a $100,000 bet on this industry,” Mr. Krauss said, referring to the local startups and their capital costs.

“Now the Legislature has got us saying, ‘Ha, too bad, you lose,’ ” Mr. Krauss added. “Boy is that a bad message to send when we’re in the doldrums.”

I could of worked “Even MORE National Media Attention for MTGOP” into the title!

HB161 stalled 6-6 in committee. I don’t know if they officially declared it dead, but Senate Judiciary committee chair Terry Murphy immediately named a three-member committee to come up with “a regulatory alternative” to a repeal bill.

That’s a large order on a short notice (how many days left in the session?) but a whole hell of a lot common sense. And frankly, the Senate Judiciary might just be one of the only places where common sense even has a fighting chance.

I always did think the GOP in the Senate were going to try and bring a little bit of common sense back to this session.

Murphy’s hearings have been far less inflammatory than the House Judiciary (chaired by Rep. Ken Peterson, of Billings). Sen. Murphy even got a thank-you from Senate Minority Leader Sen. Carol Williams (Missoula’s Senate Goddess) for his well-run hearing on HB516 just yesterday.

That being said, let’s get to the other part….

What’s with Senator Larry Jent, a Democrat representing Bozeman for quite a number of years – 3 terms in the House and he’s currently working on his 3rd term in the Senate.

Jent was the lone Democrat to vote for repeal of medical marijuana. What to say about that?

By CFS

First they came for the unions,

and I didn’t speak out because I was not a union member.

Then they came for Medicare and Medicaid,

and I didn’t speak out because I was not poor nor elderly.

Then they came for Social Security,

and I didn’t speak out because I was not retired.

Then they came for progressives,

and there was no one left to speak out

by jhwygirl

The Marion School, a grade school up near Kalispell Montana, with a student body of 89 kids no older than, say, 12, has some problems.

And so parents packed some School Board meeting room mad that the principal had taken the doors off the bathroom stalls (apparently both the boys and girls) because of excessive and persistent graffiti…

…and the need, according to Principal Justin Barnes, “…to follow through.”

Now, my purpose isn’t to argue with that logic. I’m certainly no expert on kids, nor an educator. What I ponder is the purpose of punishing the whole group of kids – in a school with 89 kids, all less than 12 years old.

I also wonder what the graffiti said. It appears from the story that the topic didn’t even come up. Clearly, it isn’t purple ponies and rainbow unicorns. Anyone think that isn’t important to this situation?

So we got some teachers that can’t collectively outsmart the kids in a less humiliating fashion….and a group of parents that would prefer to yell at the teachers about privacy issues.

Neither appear to notice that they got a budding group of intimidation artists that have more control over the school than their very own parents and teachers do of them. Nor do these people feel a need to identify these kids and get them the help they need.

Now, those comments might get me some flames…feel free. Despite my anti-social tendencies, I like kids and old people and they seem to like me. I don’t think the parents concerns about privacy are invalid…and I certainly recognize that vandalism is a problem (costly, at minimum.) When I read this story, I immediately felt sorry for those kids – even those budding criminals there – because no one, it appears, was looking at the cause. They were only looking a stopping some vandalism which was inconveniencing them.

Ignoring this stuff and just seeking punishment – especially napalm-style like they did and as young as those kids are – will only create much larger adult-size problems for the rest of society in the future. That I’m pretty sure of.

~~
A hat tip to Andrea Lutz, reporter extraordinaire for Missoula’s KPAX CBS news station.

by jhwygirl

Where to begin?

Most offensive bill today I believe is HB309 which is effectively seeking to enable a situation where the public would be eliminated from public access to most waterways in the state. You know – that public access below the high water mark?

That is precisely what HB309 does.

Update: The Editor over at Button Valley Bugle hit this story – a subject at which BVB excels.

Last session, Sen. Rick Liable from down Ravalli County way did some high-stepping back-tracking when the public found out about his proposal to eliminate public access on the waterways, which essentially tried to undo the Mitchell Slough decision.

The Mitchell Slough is actually the St. Mary’s Fork of the Bitterroot River. Darned that I’m having issues providing you with a link to the original government land survey map from the late 1800’s.

Just because someone got in there with a bulldozer 75 years ago and built a new headgate and dragged 100 feet of new ditch into a braided portion of the Bitterroot does not a ditch make.

And more than a few judges said so..as did a number of hydrologists.

23.30.202(2)c is the offending clause, exempting certain waterways – even those that are natural streams when there is a water diversion headgate on it.

The Mitchell Slough is the object of affection here for sponsor Rep. Jeffrey Welborn out of Dillon Montana – it has been cited as a stream that would be affected.

This bill is downright offensive – and Sen. Kendall Van Dyk pretty pissed. Media has picked up on this story too – I’ve seen it covered by NBC Montana and the superfantastic Marnee Banks of CBS Montana.

I’m gonna give a little ding here to the Billings Gazette for its headline here – the House did NOT pass the bill – it MAY do so with 3rd reading tomorrow.

(Didn’t I complain about that last session? Let me also say, in the Gazette’s defense, it has been done already this session – but this is at least the seconnd time it’s happened.)

SO CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS.

This bill is a great example of the offensive nature that is reeking out of the session this year – this bill had Opponent after Opponent of citizen after citizen saying NO to this bill, yet the committee approved it on a 14-8 vote.

It wasn’t strict party line either – Democrat Frank Smith of Poplar voted Yes to this behemoth while Republican Brian Hoven of Great Falls had the goddess-given sense to vote No.

Take a look at the 55-44 vote and contact those legislators – this site or this site will help.

Focus on those 55 YES votes – those are the people voting against Montana’s interests and sporting and outdoor river heritage.

What is Montana without its streams and waterways.

By CFS

The crazy seems to be piling up at the State House here in Montana.  The most recent example to bubble up in a legislative committee is Rep. Wendy Warburton’s HB 278.  The bill would authorize the organization of local militia “Home Guard” units that would serve as,” a volunteer community service apparatus in Montana to fill the gap between community service organizations, such as a neighborhood watch program and the Montana national guard, and to provide the state and its local communities with the ability to call upon trained and  organized volunteers when necessary resources are otherwise unavailable.”  Is this bill likely to pass, i doubt it… Wendy has a track record of sponsoring bills that go nowhere, but there is the distinct possibility that these are the types of laws that will get passed in 2013 if the wave of Tea Party angst continues to drive the political debate and election wins for ultra-conservatives.

Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

They’re coming – and we’re all dying. You can’t avoid dying. You might want to hold on clinging to life from a drip tube, rotting in your own flesh as cancer rots you inside….but the future is coming and includes you dying. One way or the other.

Eventually folks – and I’m speaking to the faux conservatives up there in Helena that professed that this legislative session would be all about jobs jobs jobs but all they’ve been doing is meddling between me and my doctor’s office and my own private body and concerning themselves with who I marry and what happens in bedrooms across the state between consenting adults – you xenophobes up there will be outnumbered.

Them’s simply the facts.

Frankly, from what I see in testimony up there in Helena, you really are outnumbered. Now, that doesn’t mean the mob of citizens up there testifying is right, but it should be cause for some self-reflection.

Anyone hear what Jenna Bush had to say lately?

This is our future. Zach Wahls is a 19 year old, testifying in front of an Iowa legislative hearing on January 31, 2011:

On the other end of the age spectrum is one of my favorite bloggers, a senior chic who uses the name Helen Pilpot over at Margaret’s and Helen’s (link on right). She’s wise enough and has been around long enough that she really does legitimately get to just spit it out to the Tea Party people of the world: Grow up – Shit Happens.

I hate to even call ’em conservatives – I’d like to think that there really are a few true conservatives or Libertarians up there in Helena – but that group up there is approving and looking at some utterly ridiculous stuff. Today I saw a hearing where law enforcement officers and social service agencies and attorneys got up in opposition to a law that would effectively eliminate the need to obtain a a concealed weapons permit. During the Q&A, wanna know who all the tea partyiers asked for clarification? Gary Marbut. Not legal staff or law enforcement, but radical anti-government activist lobbyist Gary Marbut.

Marbut is so bad that I was told by someone in the NRA that even they don’t really like him.

And Marbut apparently doesn’t work with law enforcement much anymore when it comes to developing better laws and rules – heard that today in testimony, too.

Closing out that testimony was Krayton Kerns – HB271 is his bill – said something to this effect:

We’re not eliminating the concealed weapons permit. People can still go get one if they want – they just won’t have to.

So that is our legislature right now – a group of them are dragging knuckles back to pre-Tombstone days and flying in the face of their tea party pro-sheriff-is-the-ultimate-law-of-the-land mantra they all so seem to love.

In other words – more proof that they don’t make sense. There’s a lack of logic there that just plain is.

by jhwygirl

When Jared Loughner bought his Glock semi-automatic last November, he passed a Federal background check.

There was nothing in federal law – and nothing in Arizona law either – that prevented this man with a known history of serious mental issues from buying that gun. Or the ammo.

That, my friends, is all you need to know about the Federal background checks required to buy a handgun.

by jhwygirl

Montana Senator Jon Tester voted against the DREAM act today. Kos is pissed

So am I.

(Looks like Baucus voted NO too.)

by jhwygirl

Call me crazy, but extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich…the top 2% of income earners in the U.S. while adding an additional $700 billion to the deficit and not extending unemployment benefits is the sheer definition of lack of common sense, no?

Ignorance?

The Bush Tax Cuts didn’t create jobs and added to the deficit, and even the Senators and Representatives that voted for them in the first place knew this, which is why there was a termination on them because of the deficit it was known that they’d create.

The Washington Post has an nifty graphic to show the Obama v. Republican proposal:

Unemployed people – and the national figure is something like 9.6% (Montana’s is 7.3) – spend pretty much everything they get in unemployment, right? 100% of what they spend goes right back into the economy?

The cost of extending unemployment benefits? $65 billion.

The economic impact of that $65 billion? $80 billion.

Compare that figure to the $700 billion cost of extending benefits to singles making more than $250,000 and couples making more than $500,000 and then factor in that Republicans want the unemployment benefits paid for by spending reductions while they have said no quid pro quo deal on tax cuts for the rich.

I come up with “huh?”

Struggle as I may, I can not for the life of me figure out the logic behind a talking head – and there are plenty of ’em with this position – that would stand there and defend the current GOP position on these tax cuts for the rich. How do these people reconcile the unavoidable dichotomy of the situation? I mean – does it really work to avoid reality? In government?

Cause it’s slapping me along with a whole hell of a lot of others of us down here around.

So explain to me – anyone.

Anyone that understands this GOP mindset.

By Duganz

Tuesday October 12, 2010 should have been one of the single greatest days in the history of American Civil Rights: The end of Clinton’s idiotic “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” and the freedom of brave soldiers to be able to serve openly as gay and lesbian.

But, the Democrats are in power, so we get this:

The Pentagon said Wednesday it had not issued written guidance on a judge’s order throwing out the ban, and commanders in the field said they did not know how to proceed on sensitive questions like pursuing existing investigations against gay service members.

You don’t know how to proceed with an order to stop? You stop. You just stop. You stop when ordered to stop. It’s easy. Think, Was I ordered to stop throwing people out of the Armed Forces due to their sexual preference? If the answer is yes you stop throwing people out of the Armed Services due to their sexual preference.

But maybe there’s a reason behind the confusion…

The Justice Department worked into the night Wednesday on its response to the judge’s ruling but gave no indication when there would be an announcement. Its first move may be to seek a stay, or temporary freeze, of the order. If that request is rejected, the department probably would turn to the federal appeals court in California.

Obama’s Justice Department is going to appeal a court case that called a dumb law unconstitutional, because… why? The Obama administration consistently says it is against DADT. Before the Federal Government got around to giving all people rights, the federal courts did. Even the most ignorant of people (I’m looking at you “Creation Scientists”) have heard of Brown v. Board of Education. Brown ended segregation in schools. After that decision in 1954 private groups, civil groups, and the government were able to erode the damages done by moronic Southern Racists.

So why not instead of fighting the courts, embracing that other branch given power under our Republic’s Constitution, and then point at Republicans and say, “Make your move, oh Great Defenders of our Constitution.” The paradox would make Christine O’Donnell’s head explode.

Alas, because of the weak-to-non-existent spine of the Democrats we get this in a statement from anti-DADT group Servicemembers Legal Defense Network:

The law still has a chance of being repealed in the lame duck session of Congress. Service members must proceed safely and should not come out at this time.

Lack of leadership from the Democrats has put fear into the hearts of those fighting for freedom. And, ironically, the reason that Democrats aren’t leading on this issue is fear––fear of not getting re-elected.

But here’s the skinny: there is right, and there is wrong. It is RIGHT to stand up for gay Americans and their rights. It is WRONG to think of one’s own self-interest as far as getting more power. It is WRONG to allow 13,000 servicemembers to be discharged because of your lack of guts. (It is also wrong, just saying, to ignore an order from a judge Mr. President.) Even though most Senate Democrats (Not the ones from Arkansas) voted to repeal DADT, few are talking about it in their re-election campaigns.

So now we’re stuck with a President who despite being against a law, wants to appeal a Federal Court’s decision, and a Congress–House and Senate–that can’t get its act together enough to pass the smallest of Civil Rights legislation.

And again, as I’ve said here before, it is within President Obama’s power to end DADT on his own… Just like the judicial branch has the power to end DADT… and the Legislative has the power to end DADT (but doesn’t cause they are myopic wastebags)…

by jhwygirl

Relatively speaking and not so relatively speaking.

Renewable Energy World released its state rankings of grades given by the solar energy. Where does Montana fall? 39th (or 40th if you count D.C.).

That’s a 2010 ranking by the industry. In calculating that ranking, 50% of Montana’s score (our score being a pithy 17 out of 100) depends upon “incentives”. Our grade in “incentives”? F.

Before ya’all go saying that solar doesn’t work here in Montana, check the maps out here, provided by National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Compare that to the states that top us in rank? Factor in size, too? So Illinois, ranking 8, blows us away. Pennsylvania, ranking 5th? Again – blowing us away.

Here is a burgeoning industry and we’re in a state with enormous solar potential and we have zilcho, comparatively speaking, to virtually all the other states in the union.

Stimson mill sits empty with railroad tracks running through it..they’re recycling silicon in Butte (a major component of photovoltaic cells), and Montana isn’t doing diddly squat to bring those kind of elements together to produce jobs.

But how about those flag-waving jobs to move Korean-built tar sands equipment? Jobs, jobs, jobs!

Moving on to wind…..

Here’s a 2009 ranking for wind energy production, state by state. Montana’s ranking? We do a bit better here (and should) – 18th.

But should we do better? Check the maps. Washington, California, Oregon? Top us on the list, yet our potential outshines them – by far. Colorado, New York, New Mexico….Indiana? Same there.

The Montana legislature squabble over the minutia of this stuff, often blaming it on MEPA and over-regulation. Anyone want to believe that looking at how places like California and New York out-rank us? Because, you know, California and New York are so regulation-free. Others put out there that the lack of powerlines to transmit the stuff doesn’t exist, which really isn’t true. It’s the lack of incentives to bring solar and wind energy here – and remember, that’s the industry talking.

Blaming MEPA is a bunch of crap. Any major transmission line has to go through NEPA, mainly because anything moving across Montana is going to be hitting federal lands…and NEPA is far more onerous.

~~~~~
This is where tax incentives should come in. I’m tired of hearing the GOP leaders talk about and advocate for blanket cuts in business taxes. We have business here. They pay taxes. They employ people. Do you honestly think the mere act of cutting their taxes is going to create jobs? The reality is that we’ve cut all sorts of business taxes and we’ve not seen any appreciable growth in the number of people employed by these businesses. We’ve seen new businesses..but not growth in existing business (which is the state purpose of the tax cuts, right?) If you are going to propose blanket business tax breaks, provide Montanans with some data showing how many jobs will be created by these existing businesses for whom you are cutting taxes.

That way we can confirm that you are wrong. Or correct.

Do you dare?

Every blanket break in taxes for existing businesses falls to someone else to pay – meaning….private property owners.

I’m not alone in thinking that…we just need good people to speak up. Everyone knows – thoughtful conservatives and liberals alike – that blanket tax breaks for existing businesses aren’t going to create enough new jobs (if any) to make up for the loss in tax revenue. Calling for tax cuts might get you elected..but if you defunct the government in doing so, you aren’t doing your job.

Montana needs targeted tax breaks for high paying industries that guarantee jobs and investment here in Montana. Guarantee jobs? Guaranteed tax incentives. Invest in Montana – help them with some incentives to get here. Tier these incentives based on the number of jobs and the taxable payroll. This isn’t rocket science – an increase in taxable payroll means more people paying taxes and supporting more businesses here in Montana.

We’re hounding down 2010..and the 2011 legislative season looms. There’s 28 days until election. Let’s hear some real tax policy talk from candidates on both sides of the aisle. Let’s talk substance, not talking points.

Specifics.

I don’t want to hear “cut taxes” and “cut business taxes” from GOP talking heads like Mat Stevenson and Champ Edmunds like I did the other night at the Target Range Homeowners Association meeting. Frankly, I ended up feeling kind of sorry for the poor fellas, and there’s really no other way to say it. While I sat and listened to the candidates from several legislative seats speak, both of these guys had it pretty tough from the crowd of mostly seniors in the audience when they started with their GOP talking points call to “cut taxes” and railing against “big government.”

So much so that when asked to be specific about what they would cut..they couldn’t answer. When begged to suggest anything that they would cut…they said they couldn’t answer until they “looked at what was proposed.”

When even that tactic of avoidance didn’t work as it was pointed out to them that they seemed ill-informed to be running for an office when they hadn’t even looked at the current year’s budget, Stevenson insisted that we (as in Republicans) would “find stuff to cut.” This angered an older fellow in the crowd who quickly took to giving him the hook (yep – it was as painful as it sounds), saying “You don’t know what you’re talking about!”

Here’s an idea: Targeted tax cuts tied to job creation. Tax cuts that don’t shoulder more upon property owners. Tax cuts that create new high paying jobs that increase tax overall tax revenue.

As Martha would say: That’s a good thing.

by jhwygirl

This is just a quick follow-up to last week’s post about the City of Bozeman’s resolution in support of Montana’s same sex couples and their lawsuit against the State of Montana for its Defense of Marriage Act.

With Montana in the national news spotlight for the Montana GOP’s platform criminalizing homosexuality, this resolution highlights some of the things I touched on in that previous post – namely that to have the State of Montana defend an unconstitutional law (unconstitutional by both Montana Constitutional and U.S. Constitutional standards) is sheer lunacy.

I’ve preached many a time on the pyramid of laws that we have – the Constitution is the ultimate law of the land, and all others must comply. Shame on any legislator (or administration or attorney general) that does anything less than defend against those guiding principles.

Bozeman’s resolution is unique in that it is the first resolution directed towards state government telling them to put an end to segregating and treating same sex couples differently under government sanctioned institutions like marriage.

Montana has far more important things to address in court than to try and rehash an issue that has been resolved in our highest courts already. Not only has Montana’s Supreme Court resolved the issue, the U.S. courts have utilized Montana’s Supreme Court decision as precedent in many federal cases confirming the right to privacy.

Conservatives everywhere should be in support. Nothing speaks more loudly against the principles of small government and intrusion than a law that defines marriage.

Please take time to read the Bozeman Chronicle’s article on last Monday’s resolution proposed by Mayor Jeff Krauss.

Bozeman Mayor Jeff Krauss wants his city to set an example for other cities across Montana by being the first to pass a resolution supporting the seven same-sex couples suing the state for the same rights as married couples.

“These couples are really walking out on a limb to put their faces forward, to put their stories forward, and I think they deserve the support,” Krauss told the Chronicle.

Jeff Krauss, btw, identifies as a Republican. The Mayor’s office and City Commission posts are non-partisan.

Montana’s GOP might be nuts, with “over two-thirds” of its membership voting in support of criminalizing homosexuality – but not all of Montana’s GOP agree. We that support equality should keep this in mind, and not create an environment where the GOP members that want to come out in support of equality – that want to speak out and tell their party that they are wrong – have exactly that environment which allows them to speak in support of small government and against its intrusion into private lives.

Montanans for equality should constructively embrace the national attention being thrust upon us now and leverage it to allow the state’s GOP members that do support equality to do so without fear of repercussion. That one-third out there need the breathing room to take care of the business at hand.

By Duganz

This post could really use a picture of Seattle-based Molly Norris. I just didn’t think it ethical to post one because she is now in hiding on the advice of the FBI due to threats by stupid, misguided fools who want to kill her.

They want her dead for a joke she made at the expense of the Prophet Muhammad––also not pictured… for, um, obvious reasons.

I will however post a picture of this guy: His name is Anwar al-Awlaki, and he’s a Yemeni-American cleric who is alleged to have inspired the Fort Hood shooting, among other attacks. He’s also the one who put Norris on a “hit list.”

He’s a bastard-coated bastard with bastard filling.

Back in April Norris drew a cartoon lampooning the fact that certain (not all; let’s not generalize) Muslims become so angry at depictions of the prophet Muhammad, which Islam kind-of-but-not-really forbids. This was at the time when Comedy Central was punking out because South Park was making jokes about Muhammad depictions. So Norris drew a cartoon declaring May 20th “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.”

WARNING!!!!!! Clicking “Continue Reading” will lead you to the dreaded cartoon.

Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

On Monday at Bozeman’s City Commission meeting, Mayor Jeff Krauss put forth a resolution that formally supports equality rights for same sex couples in the State of Montana.

The resolution calls on the State of Montana and its Attorney General to support equality rights for gay and lesbian couples by supporting the couples which filed suit against the State of Montana back in July of this year for failing to offer legal protects to same sex couples as it does to other families in the state.

Bozeman’s Chronicle doesn’t put every story online – and the budget was certainly a big issue that caught the attention of the press, no doubt…but hopefully they’ll be covering this story soon.

And Bozeman’s City Commission? Good for them for seeking to speak in support of the same-sex couples of their community and the rest of the state.

Missoula City Council? Missoula Board of County Commissioners? Speak up – let Governor Schweitzer and Attorney General Steve Bullock know that they both need to speak up in support of equality rights for gay and lesbian couples in this state.

Bozeman leads on calling on Montana to do the right thing – let’s hope Missoula follows.

by jhwygirl

For those of you who might of missed it, CBS News’ Face the Nation has posted the video of Bob Schieffer’s interview with Bozeman native Greg Mortenson.

Don’t miss it. There’s lots to learn there.

Nicholas Kristof, one of NYTimes best, had a column recently where he lamented the war as it juxtaposed upon the wisdom of Mortenson’s best-selling book, Three Cups of Tea. It’s a must-read.

One thing that’s been stuck in my head from watching Mortenson’s interview this past Sunday?

The U.S. spends $1 million per soldier, per day, for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan

Imagine if we’da built schools over these last nearly 10 years? Imagine if we’d bring 246 our soldiers home today and build a higher education system for all of Afghanistan?




  • Pages

  • Recent Comments

    Miles on A New Shelter for Vets or an E…
    success rate for In… on Thirty years ago ARCO killed A…
    Warrior for the Lord on The Dark Side of Colorado
    Linda Kelley-Miller on The Dark Side of Colorado
    Dan on A New Shelter for Vets or an E…
    Former Prosecutor Se… on Former Chief Deputy County Att…
    JediPeaceFrog on Montana AG Tim Fox and US Rep.…
  • Recent Posts

  • Blog Stats

    • 1,673,287 hits
  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 2,736 other followers

  • December 2019
    S M T W T F S
    « Oct    
    1234567
    891011121314
    15161718192021
    22232425262728
    293031  
  • Categories