Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category

By JC

“When is the war on terror over?”

So asked Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) today. And then he promptly answered himself:

I don’t know what the answer is to the question.”

When the head of the Senate Armed Service Committee asks a rhetorical question like this, and then has no answer, quite simply we are fucked.

Terrorism has been around since the dawn of time, and will be with the human species until we evolve socially and culturally beyond using war and violence to resolve our differences. 

Given the current climate in Washington, and all over the capitalist world, if we are going to maintain a permanent state of war via the AUMF until terrorism ends, then it will be a cold day in hell before we again see peace in, and being projected from, the United States.

Here’s Levin’s statement in context:

“We should be having a conversation about how to update the authorization of the use of military force, but we still have to protect the country while we’re having that discussion,” [Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas)] said. “Unfortunately, this puts the cart before the horse deciding to repeal [AUMF] before we know what will be used to replace it.”

“The world is still dangerous,” he added. “The terrorists are still coming for us. We need to keep this in place.”

Even if the measure had passed the House, the Senate is similarly ambivalent about taking on the AUMF, which also provides the legal basis for detaining terror suspects indefinitely in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) told HuffPost in an interview that his committee was not looking at a similar provision as it debates its own version of the NDAA bill this week.

“It’s a very complex issue,” Levin said. “If there’s no AUMF, what do you do with guys like Khalid Sheik Mohammed? If there is an AUMF, we have a right to keep people under the laws of war until that’s over.”

Levin admitted he was at a loss as to what to do.

“I’m the first one to acknowledge there’s a real intellectual problem here as to when is the war on terror over, or when does that authorization end,” Levin said. “It’s a huge issue. It needs to be debated. There needs to be hearings on it. I don’t know the answer to the question. Maybe if I knew the answer to the question I’d be a little more sure about an amendment. But I don’t know what the answer is to the question.”

He echoed Thornberry about the ongoing risk of terrorism.

“There continues to be a threat from the same threat or an associated source that existed when we passed the AUMF. That threat continues,” Levin said.

“A real intellectual problem here…”

I’d say. And I’d add that’s just the tip of the iceberg

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by jhwygirl

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to take an upteenth attempt at damaging U.S. economic stability and growth tomorrow with a number of bills coming to floor vote, six of which would once again embrace derivatives as a legitimate stable investment for our financial institutions.

Taxpayers beware. There is nothing prohibiting bailouts.

Passing out of House financial services on Tuesday and coming to a vote tomorrow is the Full Faith and Credit Act coming to a vote will prioritize U.S. debt and interest over the priority of running the government. Things like keeping the lights on, paying soldiers, social security & disability payments. You can see how willing to negotiate the House GOP Republicans are going to be for the upcoming debt ceiling discussion, estimated to come to Washington DC sometimes during that oh-so-pleasant month of August.

Six other bills which also passed out of financial services yesterday will weaken derivatives regulations within Dodd-Frank.

Addendum: Democracy Now reports that only six members of the House financial services committee voted NO to weakening the already
weak Dodd-Frank derivative regulations.

This’ll infuriate people who thought Dodd-Frank was weak to begin with. Pretty sure that both Lizard and JC fall into that category. I know I’m there.

HR992, the Swaps (meaning derivatives) Regulatory Improvement Act, will allow FDIC insured and uninsured foreign banking entities supervised by the Federal Reserve to utilize derivatives.

That’s right – one of the base elementary causes of the 2007 economic crash is being welcomed back for taxpayer insured FDIC banks.

As a bonus, the bill continues the bailout prohibition exemption for these banks. Which means in plainer language that FDIC insured banks can continue to be bailed out. Ahhh, the pleasures of Dodd-Frank.

I’ve seen or heard plenty saying that the Full Faith and Credit act isn’t likely to pass filibuster – but I’ve yet to see or hear the same for the nasty derivative porn. I say it’s amazing but it really isn’t anymore – the crap these electeds get away with. Because truth be told, it rests on us who keep elected these fools. But here we are, an already weak bill being weakened again. Embracing derivatives? Geezus.

What will Daines do? I’ll be calling his D.C. office first thing tomorrow morning (202-225-3211) to let his staff know where I stand – and that I’ll be watching.

by Pete Talbot

Pogie, over at Intelligent Discontent, has a post up on Sen. Max Baucus’ re-election bid.  To date, it has generated over 150 comments, so it must be an issue that many people are following, closely.

(The only post of Pogie’s that has received a higher volume of comments was on gun violence, but that subject is guaranteed to bring out more nuts than a Tea Party convention.)

Pogie says that despite Max’s flaws, unless there is a viable challenger in the primary who can go on to beat the Republican in the general election, he’s supporting Max.

Now I have great respect Pogie (Don Pogreba) and his site – I often go to Intelligent Discontent first when I open my laptop – but I’m not ready to concede his point.  And I planned to comment at his site but since my comment was going to run longer than his post, I thought I’d try something here at good ol’ 4&20.

I appreciate Pogie’s concern, having just read an article in the Washington Post about how Republicans are eating their own — the subject being how far-right candidates win in the primaries only to lose in the general elections.  Could this happen to the Democrats in Montana if a more progressive candidate won in our primary?

It’s possible.  But maybe, just maybe, voters are fed up with candidates who take a stand only after they’ve taken a poll, and who receive more in special interest campaign contributions than the GDP of most African nations.

Continue Reading »

By JC

Well, I guess Senator Tester and his “centrist” coalition finally may have gotten on to something:

“In other words, there is a bipartisan majority — of opposition to the president. Certainly a President Romney or a President Bachmann could put together a coalition of Republicans and moderate Democrats to get quite a lot done. And that is ultimately the problem with Obama’s strategy. You can only run against “obstructionists” if your own agenda is widely popular and credible. Obama doesn’t have that. His own party knows it. The voters know it. And the GOP presidential candidates know it.”

So, a few senators are more than willing to sacrifice having a democrat re-elected to the white house in ’12 so they can hold on to their seats. Then again, as Rubin says, maybe those senators are more interested in bipartisanship that aligns themselves with republican legislators and with a republican president, than with democracts and a democrat president.

Jes sayin’…

By JC
(This is but the opinion of one Occupier in Solidarity, and not the consensus of OccupyMissoula) 

Many people do not understand what the Occupy movement is all about, and preconceptions and prejudices abound. I have spent most of the last two weeks working to understand this movement and help organize OccupyMissoula. I’m not sure why I stuck my neck out, and devoted all my time, but it has changed the way I look at politics, movements, and my community.

In the words of an elderly gentleman I have known and respected for the 25 years I have lived in Missoula, “this is the most important movement I have seen since the the Great Depression.”

Similarly, last night I had the honor to meet 4 young high school students who had decided to put on suits and come down to the County Court House and OccupyMissoula to “check things out.” We had a great conversation and I felt inspired that our youth feel the same concerns that our more experienced community members do, and felt compelled to participate, and to write about their experience (one of them was a writer for their high school’s newspaper).

It took an article in no less than Fox News, tweeted across the internet in a “Holy Shit” moment to put it all into perspective for me: “The key isn’t what protesters are for but rather what they’re against.” Continue Reading »

By JC

Max Baucus, after  his recently appointed role to the super committee saddled with finding 1.2 to 1.5 trillion dollars in deficit reduction, conducted an interview with the Helena IR (Google cache) editorial board and revealed some thoughts about how he’s likely to proceed:

[Baucus] noted that the Bush tax cuts also are set to expire at the end of 2012, and if Congress wants to prevent that from happening, it would need to reach some sort of bargain – hopefully one that reforms the tax code to make it simpler, better for the economy, and able to generate the revenue needed to put the country’s fiscal house in order.

“Part of the solution here is reforming the tax code,” he said.

So Baucus is willing to “prevent” the Bush/Obama tax cuts from expiring if the tax code is reformed. Ok, so he’s waffling on his talk last year about letting the tax cuts for the rich expire. Well, what do you expect from a gumby? Here’s what Max had to say then about an amendment he was offering to extend middle income tax breaks:

Our amendment says:  Let’s make the middle-class tax cuts permanent.

And our amendment says:  Let’s not allow tax cuts for middle-class Americans to be held hostage to tax cuts for those who make the very most.

Anybody on the left here think that reforming the tax code during another economic hostage “crisis” (like the debt ceiling hike) is a good thing? Yes the tax code needs to be reformed, but it should be done in the light of day in the regular order, and not done behind closed doors by a 12 member “super committee,” a committee that now presents itself as a large target to lobbyists and campaign dollars from the oligarchs.
Continue Reading »

By JC

(Note: starting after this article’s note, I will no longer be linking to Lee Enterprises online newspaper articles, as they have instituted a paywall that prevents readers here from accessing those articles unless they have paid the subscription fee. Beings as I have not, and will not pay the fee, I will be linking to information from alternative sources).

“… A tearing away, an undermining, and a disrespect for the fundamental idea of the rule of law.”

“… A talisman that ipso facto sweeps aside Separation of Powers concerns.”

“Policy changes of questionable political viability, such as occurred here, can be forced using insider tactics without debate by attaching riders…”
— Federal District Court Judge Don Molloy

In a stunning decision with a scathing commentary, Federal District Court Judge Don Molloy declared that Senator Jon Tester’s wolf rider supporting delisting of wolves in Montana and Idaho, in his opinion, is unconstitutional. He also found that a 9th Circuit Court precedent prevented him from ruling against the rider, and was forced to let Tester’s controversial rider stand.

Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center For Biological Diversity, one of the groups that challenged the rider, was quoted in the Lewiston Tribune article:

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. “He is not only intimating the wolf rider is unconstitutional and the 9th Circuit is wrong but he is laying out a road map on how to appeal his own ruling and take it all the way to the Supreme Court. He does everything but buy us a bus ticket to Washington, D.C.”

Judge Molloy expounds on the role that the doctrine of Separation of Powers played in his decisions, and is must reading for any who would critique the power of Congress. And his analysis sets the framework for the inevitable appeal to the 9th Circuit.

I’ve had much to say here and elsewhere about Senator Tester’s use of riders to pass policy and this court case, so I needn’t go there again. You can read the Judge’s Final Order for yourself to get a sense of how upset he was that he was constrained from upholding the plaintiff’s case against the constitutionality of Tester’s rider process.

Here are some pertinent statements from the Judge about Senator Tester’s wolf rider:

“This case presents difficult questions for me. The way in which Congress acted in trying to achieve a debatable policy change by attaching a rider to the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011 is a tearing away, an undermining, and a disrespect for the fundamental idea of the rule of law. The principle behind the rule of law is to provide a mechanism and process to guide and constrain the government’s exercise of power. Political decisions derive their legitimacy from the proper function of the political process within the constraints of limited government, guided by a constitutional structure that acknowledges the importance of the doctrine of Separation of Powers. That legitimacy is enhanced by a meaningful, predictable, and transparent process.

In this case Defendants argue—unpersuasively—that Congress balanced the conflicting public interests and policies to resolve a difficult issue. I do not see what Congress did in the same light. Inserting environmental policy changes into appropriations bills may be politically expedient, but it transgresses the process envisioned by the Constitution by avoiding the very debate on issues of political importance said to provide legitimacy. Policy changes of questionable political viability, such as occurred here, can be forced using insider tactics without debate by attaching riders to legislation that must be passed.

You can read more excerpts from the Judge’s Order below the fold:
Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

I’ve not read even a portion of it, but here’s the entire enchilada of the deficit ceiling bill (or whatever the cool kids are calling it today).

What I did pass by today in my quick reads was this story which has $21.6 billion in savings for the taxpayers, but will cost students dearly. From the story:

This change would shift some $125 billion in loan volume over to unsubsidized loans and would cost students $18.1 billion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The student loan cuts start on page 71.

The whole student loan program is screwed up. The federal government guarantees student loans. They pay the interest on these loans while students are in school. Students get loans from banks. Banks get the money from the feds and charge students interest. Tell me that isn’t screwed up.

Why can’t the federal government back these loans? They can back Canadian-built transmission lines but they can’t back the higher education of its citizens? Student loans are a guaranteed steady source of income. You can’t default on them. Why does the federal government loan money at treasury rates to banks that will charge 7% or more in interest on loans that they know they will be able to collect? That’s just plain stupid.

We’ve handed the Class of 2011 one hell of a mess. They aren’t going to find jobs in this economy – and now we’re gonna make ’em fund the banks should they choose to further their education while the economy recovers?

We didn’t just push this stuff off on the middle class – we directly billed a bunch of 20-somethings.

by jhwygirl

In Washington, at least. And some of the biggest players, too – Sen. Lindsay Graham? Sen. Tom Colburn?

Will we see sacred cows fall? Graham cites ethanol subsidies, and calls for ending “…a bunch of other subsidies that go to a few people” and put(ting) the money “back into the federal treasury” for debt reduction.

Looks like reality is making headway in the Senate, if not pissing off Grover Norquist, who may be seeing the beginning of his own insignificance.

Let’s hope, huh?

The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn is taking notice of the refreshing honesty coming from the GOP, pointing out that Reagan’s Budget Director David Stockman admitted that any austerity measures would most certainly make the jobs situation worse:

(Fareed) Zakaria noted that a policy of austerity, along the lines of what Stockman was recommending, would probably make the jobs situation worse. “Yes,” Stockman responded, “the scenario is pretty grim.” Stockman then went on to predict another decade of double-digit unemployment. “It sounds like very harsh medicine,” he said. “But it happens to be a very harsh reality.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty grim. Republican’s can’t impeded every solution offered – in this particular case, Reich was advocating for a massive infusion of infrastructure spending – and so far all I’ve heard them call for is cutting social security and medicare.

Both of which would cost them dearly, politically.

Well…I see I’ve digressed. I do find it interesting that GOPers like Lindsay Graham and Tom Coburn are talking about raising revenues. If they’re saying that, there’s more where they came from.

by Lesley Lotto

So he went and did it.  Caved to the pressure of the masses who said, “you must resign” because he let his third leg do the talking.  For shame.

I’ve been privately hoping Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York would stay in office.  It seemed that things quieted down quite a bit when the Weenie, err, Weiner went off to “rehab”.  Then there was the dumbest press conference I’ve seen in years with who else, Gloria Allred, and her latest victim (I mean “client”) accusing some man of some thing.  Ginger Lee, the “featured dancer” read: stripper and former porn star who may or may not have sent naked pictures of herself to Weiner.  She said Weiner should step down because he lied and encouraged her to lie and lying is bad I guess.  And I care what you say, because?

Seriously, WE. DON’T. CARE.

At least I don’t care.  I always thought the Congressman had an itch in his pants, but not the literal kind.  He was going to be the next Mayor of New York City after all.  At least that’s what Janeane Garafalo said on Bill Maher last week.

For those of you under a rock the last month, Congressman Weiner tweets his stuff to the world, unbeknownst to him… allegedly, a simple typo apparently, an @ instead of a d.  Then the women start coming out of the woodwork, literally, saying he did nasty things to them ONLINE.  What was illegal about that?  So he was indiscreet, being a married man and all.  One of his “victims” even saying she had to tell because she feared for her life, she feared for her toddler and, oh yeah, there’s that $10,000 ABC News paid me to share my private Weiner tweets which came in quite handy while living as a single mom and all.  Now that’s what I call a stimulus!

Some of the “risqué” photos that have now circulated online show Weiner holding his thing all proud, showing off his rather impressive 6 pack and most recently, posing in the House Gym holding himself again.  I’m guessing all the Congress members pose with their stuff in the mirror, but I’m thinking Debbie Wasserman-Schultz doesn’t then tweet the pic to unsuspecting young coeds.

To me, the whole thing boils down to a sad, insecure individual who was clearly not getting anywhere near the attention he desired.

Now his wife, who’s “Hillary Clinton’s Shadow” aka Deputy Chief of Staff comes back from Africa.  (She’s also “newly” pregnant by the way).  She reportedly encouraged her hubby of a year to stay in office, not resign.  But of course that was before all the mega powers in Congress told him to split the scene and make it keen. But he was “defiant”!

Man it would have been awesome to be a fly on the wall in Africa when the wife found out and told Hillary.  I’m guessing Hill had some words of encouragement, like tell him to stay in office but make him sleep on the couch.  Word is Weiner even apologized to Bill Clinton.  A good President, by any measure, with a tiny blemish on his record, remember that?  A B.J. in the Oval Office.

What could Weiner have possibly apologized to President Clinton for?  “I disgraced you because I couldn’t get ‘er done”?  One does wonder…

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 Lesley Lotto

Oh damn Tim Pawlenty, a devout Christian, is waiting until Monday to announce he’s running for President in 2012.  Joy and #Rapture.  I mean, couldn’t he have announced tonight?  Then I could have watched him on Fox and had his voice lull me to sleep.  I would like to go with everyone else in a peaceful manner and I cannot think of a more boring person to listen to as a take my last wink. snore… If the world really is ending tomorrow, as Harold Camping tells us, why would Pawlenty wait until Monday for his big announcement?

Yes, the former two-term Governor of Minnesota has announced he’s going up against Obama.  You know the President who recently pissed off the right by declaring there should be borders up in Israel like before the “Six Day war”.  (For you non-Jews, that’s one important war.)  As a Jewish person, I find it way offensive when Christians, I’m talking to you Glenn Beck, get all hoity toity about what should be done in Israel and how the US has it all wrong.  George W. knew what to do, but Obama, the Muslim, he knows not.  But I digress…

Pawlenty is believed to be the only serious candidate for the Republican party.  Hell Newt Gingrich’s “campaign” has already taken a death spiral.  (Have you seen that Gay Confetti video?)  Pawlenty could have run for a third term as Governor with his tidy record of conservatism, the not raising taxes and the being against abortion, except for those pesky core issues he mulled for a minute like raising taxes on cigarettes to balance his state budget and that nasty moment he considered Cap and Trade legislation. Then there’s the 5 Billion Dollar Budget hole he left for the new Governor and his taking of Stimulus Dollars from the Fed, what a thing!

Now Sarah Palin has reared her gorgeous mug and mane again, not wanting to stay out of the limelight for even a second, to say, “I’ve got the fire in my belly”.  Oh holy hell, she’s pregnant again?  No, and damn, she’s just toying with a run in 2012.  She wants to stay in the conversation, dontcha know.  After all why would she let Pawlenty  (a really tangible VP candidate pairing for McCain back in 2008) get all of the attention from the “Elite Media”?

Palin and her co-hort, Rep. Michelle Bachman also of Minnesota, oh please let the two of them run on the same ticket, are both considering a run in 2012.  But who could be the running mate when they both have the fire in the belly and all?  Bachman is loved by the “Tea Party” and Palin is loved by angry, old white men.  You know the type that will fondle themselves tonight to the likes of a threesome with Bachman and Palin before the world ends.

Meanwhile, Obama is getting down with the serious issues of our time and has no time for the nonsense of this all.  But then again if the world DOES end tomorrow, why would he care?

By CFS

In all this ongoing back and forth between the liberal/progressive/Democrat blogs of Montana (the Great Flame War of 2011) one point that is yet to be made is the differing approach that the two parties seem to deal with internal dissent.  One party gives the impression of eagerly embracing the mutiny… while the other is trying to quickly stomp out the fire before it can spread.

What started as a grassroots movement from outside the ramparts of a party historically known for it’s discipline in pulling it’s member into line on issues; the Tea People’s anger, enthusiasm, and naivety was quickly capitalized upon by the Republican establishment and old guard power base.  Organizations that, at first ad-hoc groups meeting at coffee shops bitching about how the Republicans had betrayed their ideals, were quickly provided with organizational support, funds, and training from long-time Republican political operatives.  Nation-wide organizations were built by the likes of Dick Army and elected Republicans such as Michele Bachmann embraced the mass of angry white people produced by a steady diet of Fox News.

Now that the Tea People are well ensconced in the warm and loving embrace of the GOP guess what happens whenever the Tea People get all uppity?  Thats right… Boehner quickly folds and make overtures to please his new far right base.

Contrast this with the current approach that the mainline Democrats seem to want to take when dealing the more progressive/liberal/whatever side of the party…

This attitude comes straight from the top as Obama and his press secretary have said more than once that they are tired of the criticism coming from the left.  Other Democrats have used this type of language, calling liberals “extremists.”

 The same attitude has been on display recently on various Montana progressive blogs.  Pogie actually did a great job of getting to the issue and fostering a discussion around the role of dissension within a political party in shaping policy and strategy.  Others however have been eager to follow the STFU guidelines.  From LITW:

Here’s the dealio.  Democrats still have value.  I like Jon Tester, even more for taking action on wolf control dictated by the judiciary.  Don’t like that?  Tough shit.  Leave.  I like Barrack Obama.  I think he called out the Republicans and has played them very well.  Don’t like that?  Tough shit.  Leave.  Seriously.  You don’t like Democrats?  Leave, assholes.

The problem with the STFU/your-either-with-us-or-against-us type attitude is that people really do leave.  People will choose to vote for third party candidate like Nader when they get frustrated enough which then gives us 8 years of THE ADVENTURES OF BUSHIT AND TURD BLOSSOM .

If a party doesn’t listen to internal dissent and respond to the criticism by addressing people’s grievances then people leave.  The Republicants were electorally successful in the last cycle specifically because they embraced the crazy hidden within themselves and physically manifested as the Tea People.

Do we really want to put this at the entrance to the Democratic party?

By CFS

The fight over the budget and debt continues in D.C. and I’m sure that Republicans will be making sacrifices and praying to the patron-saint of B-list Celebrities Turned Politician Ronald “The Gipper” Reagan  for strength and guidance.  I suggest that we on the left use the memory of Reagan to illustrate just how far right the party of Tea has moved since the golden age of fighting tyranny.  Because even Saint Ronnie raised taxes.

Same shit… different day.  Just a week after a compromise was reached to forestall shutting down the government the circus clowns are once again piling out  of the VW to debate the debt ceiling.  And one again nothing will actually change that makes a difference in our country’s fiscal solvency.

Will anything constructive take shape on the revenue side… doubt it.  Instead budget cuts will come at the expense of those that don’t have a voice at the table.  If you can’t afford a six figure lobbyist you don’t deserve to be at the table.  Fuck I’m being pessimistic today.

by Pete Talbot

Despite temperatures in the teens and a nasty Hellgate wind, Missoula was Montana’s hot spot this weekend. Lots of folks out-and-about, and here’s what I gleaned, politically, from overheard conversations (sources, unbeknownst to them, include Sen. Jon Tester, state senators John Brueggeman and Ron Erickson, state house members Sue Malek and Bryce Bennett):

The Montana Legislature will be a microcosm of the U.S. Congress. Both the state house and the U.S. House of Representatives have substantial Republican majorities.

The Republican majority is much smaller in the state senate and the Democrats have a slight edge in the U.S. Senate. The similarity in these two senate bodies, if the Democrats can hang together, will be the ability to stop veto overrides by the Republicans.

We’ll have to wait and see how much the President and our governor wield the veto pen. Judging from some of the bills already being considered in Helena, and the rhetoric coming from the newly elected in the U.S. House, there could be ample veto opportunities.

Here’s a link to the Helena bills. Prepare to take a week off if you want to review them in detail — there are already hundreds.

Some that came to my attention: Missoula’s only Republican legislator, Champ Edmunds, wants to repeal (not just revise) Montana’s Environmental Policy Act. So much for the Montana Constitution’s “clean and healthful environment” clause. Helena’s Republican Senator Dave Lewis wants a resolution demanding that Congress withdraw the United States from the United Nations. I can’t think of anything less important to a Montanan’s day-to-day existence than the doings at the UN. Thompson Fall’s Greg Hinkle (R) has a slew of wacko bills (example: Restrict authority of FWP to regulate ammo or firearms for hunting, otherwise known as “hunting whitetails with a grenade launcher” bill).

Well, the list goes on-and-on.

From the Democrats I listened to, there was guarded optimism. They certainly won’t be advancing any groundbreaking, progressive legislation but feel they can withstand the most virulent bills offered up by the Republicans. The trump card being a Democratic governor in Montana and a Democratic President.

Democrats at both the state and national level see some fissures in the GOP as the Tea Party types jostle for power and prestige with the more establishment Republicans. Democrats also offered encouragement for 2012, which, of course, they have to do after the drubbing of 2010. The point they make, though, is things just aren’t going to get that much better in the next two years, especially considering the dearth of bills from the Republicans actually addressing unemployment, fixing health care, getting us out of wars or reducing the deficit. And the voters, being a fickle lot, will toss the Republicans they just elected.

Finally, some links to outdoor issues in the lame duck Congress and budget considerations in the Montana Legislature to go along with my keen political insights.




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