Archive for the ‘Conservatism’ Category

by jhwygirl

What could get me wanting to try and throw out a few words? A bill seeking to repeal last session’s eminent domain debacle, HB198.

I won’t go into the past gory details on the 2011 eminent domain bill – you can click that link above for that – what I will do is offer a heartfelt THANKS to Sen. Debby Barrett, a Republican out Dillon.

Sen. Barrett has proposed SB180 which is a straight all-out repeal of HB198, which handed eminent domain powers straight to the utility corporations, and eliminating any role of assuring that the taking of private property was for public gain, yet alone fair compensation.

In other words, big business who’s priority is only bigger profits, and not necessarily Montana’s best interests, could crisscross this Montana with whatever form of transmission infrastructure they choose, to deliver their energy from..say…Canada to Colorado…and little old property owner in Dillon Montana is left to deal with the barrage of lawyers from big business.

Thank you? You have to wonder what the hell the people who voted for HB198 were thinking and you can’t really paint the Democrats with the lack of respect for private property rights – plenty of Republicans voted for this crappy bill, including Republicans Sen. Dave Lewis and Reps. Janna Taylor, Wendy Warburton and Duane Ankney.

For the Missoula people that care about private property rights, know that only Sen. Dave Wanzenried and Rep. Ellie Hill voted NO to that bill. Occasional commentor (from way-back) Rep. Mike Miller – a self-described Libertarian, I believe – also voted NO to this bill.

Last week, Sens. Wanzenried, Augare, and Windy Boy signed on as co-sponsors to Sen. Barrett’s bill. I’ll be watching this one closely.

Let’s see who respects private property rights, and who wants to let private corporations do what they will, with only the promise of “fair compensation” from their army of lawyers knocking on our Montana neighbor’s doors.

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by jhwygirl

In case you missed it, supermontanareporter John S. Adams busted out in his blog this morning with a preview of tomorrow (Tuesday) night’s Frontline on PBS, titled Big Sky, Big Money.

It’s a political “BOOM” if I’ve ever seen one – pulling together a strange connection of a stolen car, a meth dealer, the Montana GOP and American Traditions Partnership, ProPublica paired up with Frontline, releasing their report this morning.

I’m still reading through it all, but all I can say right now is that I’m really disgusted. What the ProPublica/Frontline report lays out is NOT a group of one or two bad individuals, but really an institutionalized and flagrant disregard for Montana law.

For a party that attempts to Lord some sort of moral superiority over Democrats. Or liberals. Or progressives – it’s a pretty sickening case of hypocrisy. They like the salutation “Patriot”? More like “Traitor.”

What’s clear is this: The Montana GOP are running candidates that are flagrantly violating established Montana law. This isn’t some sort of Ed Butcher bloc of crazies. The ProPublica/Frontline reports on 23 Montana legislators? How many more are there that we don’t know?

These guys swear to uphold the Montana and the U.S. Constitution. Obviously, it means nothing – they’ve got their own interpretation of it, and that’s how they fly.

It’s disgraceful.

Set your DVR’s for 8:30 p.m. tomorrow. Go read What everyone’s talking about: Big Sky, Big Money” over at The Lowdown – he’s got tons of links.

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

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

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 jhwygirl

That’s because the state’s low income health insurance plan for children through the age of 19 covers prenatal care, delivery and postnatal care for teen moms.

The cost? $720,000.

Yesterday, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the State of Montana for its selective policies regarding denial of birth control, saying it is a violation of privacy and equal protection rights in the state constitution

What is their policy?

Montana Public Radio reported that teens insured through CHIP, part of Healthy Montana Kids, cannot obtain birth control if it’s being used only to prevent pregnancy, though they can get birth control to treat acne or heavy menstrual cycles.

Now, that makes sense.

And how did this happen? State Senator Keith Bales (a Republican) struck a deal in the last days of the session which removed funding for CHIP recipient’s birth control – but only when it’s used as birth control.

~~~~~
This really is the kind of stuff that is at stake here at the state level. Ya’all might not care to much for the national stuff, but I certainly hope everyone is paying attention to the state level. Make sure everyone you know is voting – shoot an email around, pick up the phone.

Get ‘er done, people It’s THIS important.

By Duganz

This Sunday the Hockey Mom herself is on her way to Missoula for a day of speechifying amazingingitty. And you can see her (in person!) if you are willing to give your money go to Teen Challenge, a faith-based program geared toward keeping kids off drugs.

I could give a damn about Hockey Mom. She’s become a fly––a pest that darts in and distracts, but adds nothing but static. Teen Challenge (TC) on the other hand, is a tragedy in motion––even when we’re not talking about the number of depressing stories relayed on sites (Sad, also sad) dedicated to covering the organization’s darker moments.

Continue Reading »

by problembear

give up?    an unholy alliance between republicans, fox, and the saudis.

that’s who.

wag the dog republican style. that’s the way to regain power. spend a little cash to cause a controversy. report on it with your own personal news service. wait for the stupid democrats to start fighting each other over it, then cash in on tea baggers hurling racist ignorant garbage at the president…..

that’s how.

brilliant!!!

By CFS

If you haven’t already gotten the chance to view this clip of the Daily Show – basically Jon Stewart gets so frustrated and dumbstruck with politics in Washington that he gives up trying to understand the method behind the madness that he feels like giving up – I ask that you do so now.  It sums up perfectly how I have felt about politics for about the last year and the utter failure of my meek mind to understand the stonewalling tactics of GOPers and the rise of the angry right.

The latest thing to blow my mind occurred last week when Colorado gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes’ claimed that Denver’s new bicycle share program was part of a conspiracy to “convert Denver into a United Nations community.”  Who knows what that really means but it seems that bikes could “threaten our personal freedoms.”  So while progressives are attempting to provide America with more transportation choices through making transportation funding more level for roads, transit, and non-motorized modes – and isn’t that what American freedom is all about… choice – a certain segment of conservatives would like to demonize bicycles and even ban them from our roads.  These are the types of people who are rising to the top thanks to the Tea Party… Dan Maes, Sharon Angle, and Rand?

According to a study conducted by several researchers from MIT way back in 2006, and recently updated, we live in the most partisan political atmosphere since the civil war reconstruction era.  Thanks to that radical partisanship we also have the first failed Presidency of the 21st Century… not another FDR but Hoover 2.0.  And I am referring to the perception of a failed Presidency that surrounds Obama at this point.  It is a perception that had its inception early on when the media hyped his first 100 days as akin to FDR’s famous energetic push of legislation and then Obama promptly disappointed.  No matter what the reality is of the Obama Presidency, no matter what pieces of legislation get passed, the last two years have been a failure compared to the hype of “change” that was such a clarion call to the ideologically muddled masses.

And thats the place in the story where the needle skips for me.  The gap between the reality of the Obama Presidency and the perception of Obama that has engendered the Tea Party insurgency, the “Just Say No To Everything” Republicans, and political candidates such as Dan Maes.  Obama as a danger to our future freedom has been manufactured and used to an amazing level of effectiveness.  Far from being the transformative figure he was original billed as, or the secret socialist taking over every facet of American life and ridding America of free-will that the Tea Party would like everyone to believe,  he has proven to be an inept and ineffectual manager of congress, his legislative agenda and worst of all an incrementalist rather than a radical.  In that vein he is akin to Hoover, understanding the gravity of the situation laid-out before him but being to meek to take truly bold action the like of which propelled FDR to the venerated position he occupies in the American psyche.

Little, if anything, fundamental about our country has changed since Obama’s election other than that sentiment in this country has taken another rightward lurch that seemed so unthinkable after eight years of George W. Bush.  The truly transformative presidents of the last 100 years (FDR, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan) all aggressively pushed through their legislative agendas in a paternalistic manner and largely controlled the conversation surrounding policy effectively enough to give us policies and programs that have stood the test of time and have become a part of the fundamental makeup of our Republic.  Whereas Obama has passed a health bill that a Republican resurgence will guarantee the demise of while also being unable occupy the rhetorical high ground in political battles.  Sorry Republicans, but George W. Bush gave us a more radical expansion of federal government powers, powers that fundamentally erode our rights as citizens, than anything Obama has given us.

I understand the anger and fear of an unknown future that people feel at the current moment as jobs continue to vaporize and an avalanche of foreclosures continue to steamroll the economy.  But Obama is not the great monster threatening our freedoms and our future… extreme partisanship and levels of income equality not seen since the 1920s.  30 years of conservative ideology and policies led us to a precipice which we promptly fell off with the bursting of the housing bubble… so it must be the next guys fault and not the cumulative result of decades of policy, greed, and bets gone wrong.

By CFS

“We are the army out to free men!” – Sheriff Richard Mack

I just want to get back to building an army and preparing for a revolution.” – Schaeffer Cox

“While the State exists there can be no freedom; when there is freedom there will be no State. – Vladimir Lenin

That last quote by Lenin could have easily come from the mouth of your average American Libertarian.

This last weekend saw Ravalli County political group Celebrating Conservatism host the first ever Liberty Convention held at the Adams Center on The University of Montana campus.  While the Adams Center might have seemed a little hollow with so few people in attendance, that fact didn’t  seem to bother the convention organizers.  “This,” said Mona Docteur, the driving force behind much of Celebrating Conservatism’s activities, “was mainly a chance to network with like minded individuals.”  But while the numbers might have been small, the philosophical foundation from which the Liberty movement is building upon is not; it is bold, steeped Western anti-government sentiment and rugged individualism, and wants to radically change the relationship between the individual and the state.

The fact that Conservatism is in the name of the group is an insult to true Conservatives.  Conservatism as a political and social philosophy is one that respects traditional institutions that work to uphold the functioning of a society and rejects radical change.  Many of the people brought into speak at the Liberty Convention made a point to specifically call for a radical break from current political institutions and radically reshape American society.  On the surface of things, Celebrating Conservatism and many similar small groups around Montana and the West are pushing for many policies that many would associate with conservatism… gun rights,  states sovereignty, small government, and individual freedom.

Peel back the public veneer and what this movement wants is much more radical; a libertarian utopia devoid of any from of central government “tyranny,” and ultimate freedom for the individual.  When speaking about the “proper” role of government Gary Marbut – local Missoula gun rights advocate and author of the Firearms Freedom Act – questioned whether building highways was a legitimate use of government authority.  If a so called  “conservative” is questioning the building of roads you can imagine his opinion on the BLM, Forest Service, Social Security, DUI laws, etc.  To them, individuals should operate as they see fit without any regulation upon behavior… except for vigilante justice dispensed by local citizen militias and an armed populace.  I guess a clean gun is supposed to make for good neighbors.

Many of the speakers at the convention expressly stated such beliefs based not only upon political philosophy but also scripture.  2008 Constitution Party Presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin – whom spoke Friday night – in a May 19th 2010 article available on his website predicts the breakup of the United States and applauds the prospect of states succeeding from the union (in the same article he also claims that bringing women into the military is a globalist plot to make our military less efficient and weaken our national security to the point that wee can’t operate without UN support).

Red Beckman – perpetual tax protester and long time militia movement supporter – shared this same view that the tyrannical Federal Government will be brought down because we as a nation have forsaken God and that, just as the USSR was brought down by God, the Federal Government will disappear as part of God’s will.  He also stated that illegal immigration was God’s curse on this nation for the Roe v. Wade decision.  They don’t just see the fall of the American Empire… they actively want to push it over the edge.

This group sees themselves as being oppressed by a tyrannical and unjust government that time and again ignores the constitution and has usurped individual freedom.  How they propose to reshape the political landscape is truly nothing short of a revolution.  Red Beckman implored the audience to follow the example of Romanian soldiers whom in 1989 turned on and killed the dictator.

The one feature of language used throughout the convention that surprised me was the constant allusions to and mentioning of “building an army.”  Speakers referred to the audience as “foot soldiers” and Mona Docteur asked them to, “stand on the front lines.”  As much as they disparaged against socialism, communism, and specifically the Bolshevik Revolutionaries it seems that they share much in common with the Bolsheviks in their formative year.  The pattern of history the Liberty Movement sees themselves part of is awkwardly similar to how Marx and Lenin foretold the fall of the oppressive Tsarist regime.

Just as the Bolsheviks saw themselves as the awakened and enlightened vanguard that would lead Russia to a proletariat democratic utopia; the Liberty Movement’s professional revolutionaries  on display this last weekend talked of “leading the charge,” and “bringing enlightenment to the rest of America,” from this small base of people that can, “see the truth,” of how oppressive and tyrannical the government is.  Speaker Schaeffer Cox – Fairbanks, AK militia organizer – talked of, “being right on the edge of having to bloody our swords… revolutions are not instituted, they are provoked, and they are provoked by government.”  Sounds oddly like “a revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation,” declared by Vladimir Lenin.

The normal person involved in these meetings and the movement are just that… normal people that are simply fed-up with the current political atmosphere and I’m sure they wouldn’t consider themselves revolutionary.  A lot of the allusions to revolution might be hyperbole… but it seems to me that these luminaries, the professional revolutionaries of the Liberty Movement, believe what they are saying.  They are in no why cynical and actually quite optimistic in their assessment of what they can and will accomplish and are attempting to build a larger coalition across the West.

Groups like these feed off of troubling and uncertain times and today is full a many challenges and uncertainties about the future.  Just as in the 1930s this country, saw a large uptick in communist and fascist party membership people today are looking for a fresh political movement that will provide a clear way forward and a promising future to those that currently see only despair.  While this movement is small today no group that openly talks of revolution should be ignored.  Rather they should be studied to understand the mechanisms by which they operate and grow so that their very legitimate concerns may be addressed within society at large.

Vladimir Lenin established his first revolutionary group in 1895, it wasn’t until 1917 that the revolution came to fruition… jolted violently to life by the collapse of the Russian economy after WWI.  The Liberty Movement is predicting such a collapse… hoping for such a collapse… and biding their time until such a collapse happens.

by Pete Talbot

(Consider this an open thread.)

Lots of folks bandying around that nasty “s” word these days.

For example, according to Ward 5 Councilman Dick Haines, an updated historic preservation ordinance ” … has the unmistakable stench of socialism to me.”

Jay writes over at LiTW that the current RNC motto, written by someone who skipped Marketing 101, is: “Save the country from trending toward Socialism!”

At the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, they just couldn’t use the “s” word enough:

“The hope and change the Democrats had in mind was nothing more than a retread of the failed and discredited socialist policies that have been the enemy of freedom for centuries all over the world,” Senator Jim DeMint, of South Carolina, said.

Let’s take a look at some of those failed and discredited policies. Germany, which is a democracy and part of the world last time I checked, has universal health care, a unionized work force, a strong social safety net … it must really be in trouble (courtesy Harper’s):

For here’s a strange fact: since 2003, it’s not China but Germany, that colossus of European socialism, that has either led the world in export sales or at least been tied for first. Even as we in the United States fall more deeply into the clutches of our foreign creditors—China foremost among them—Germany has somehow managed to create a high-wage, unionized economy without shipping all its jobs abroad or creating a massive trade deficit, or any trade deficit at all.

And claims that America’s business sector is being taken over by government are a bit exaggerated, as this dandy graph illustrates (courtesy Atlantic Monthly magazine):

socialism chart.png

But I haven’t answered the headline’s question. Even the “experts” disagree — just what is socialism: planning and zoning, Social Security, Medicare, public education? Should we scrap these?

I have a feeling that the right is confusing socialism and communism, and using that confusion to scare the bejeezus out of the masses. It’s not saying that we might become another Germany (or France or Sweden). It’s saying that we’re becoming another Cuba or North Korea.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

“Give us a reason to vote for you, or we sit home”

by JC

Conventional wisdom already is telling us that the lesson democrats should take home (and republicans and the MSM is amplifying) is that when the base doesn’t turn out, as it didn’t in the NJ and Virginia gubernatorial races, that candidates should move to the right in order to capture moderates and independents.

Ezra Klein explains this phenomenon:

“…Barack Obama wasn’t on the ballot yesterday, and he won’t be on the ballot in 2010. If his voters stayed home last night, many politicians will take that as proof that they’ll stay home in 2010, too. That doesn’t just make the map harder for Democrats. It also moves Democrats to the right, as their consultants will explain that a winning coalition requires more voters from relatively conservative blocs, like seniors and downscale independents, and thus a more centrist campaign strategy.”

Kos takes the opposite approach, and clearly lays out why dems need to move to their left in order to shore up their electoral chances:

There will be much number-crunching tomorrow, but preliminary numbers (at least in Virginia) show that GOP turnout remained the same as last year, but Democratic turnout collapsed. This is a base problem, and this is what Democrats better take from tonight:

  • If you abandon Democratic principles in a bid for unnecessary “bipartisanship”, you will lose votes.
  • If you water down reform in favor of Blue Dogs and their corporate benefactors, you will lose votes.
  • If you forget why you were elected — health care, financial services, energy policy and immigration reform — you will lose votes.

Tonight proved conclusively that we’re not going to turn out just because you have a (D) next to your name, or because Obama tells us to. We’ll turn out if we feel it’s worth our time and effort to vote, and we’ll work hard to make sure others turn out if you inspire us with bold and decisive action.

The choice is yours. Give us a reason to vote for you, or we sit home. And you aren’t going to make up the margins with conservative voters. They already know exactly who they’re voting for, and it ain’t you.

So as we head into the 2010 election season, dems have a choice: work for the progressive base that swept Obama to power, and ignite them to help fight for change; or follow the CW and continue the tack to the right in the off-year election, in hopes of capturing enough independent and centrist votes to make up for the loss of the base.

It isn’t just the right that is struggling with a split in their party–conservatives ejecting RINOs in an attempt to purify the republican party is indicative of the failure of GOP politics. The left likewise is split with a strong progressive section that refuses to follow timid democrats ratcheting to the right. Bad dem politics, as exhibited by the likes of Max Baucus, already is beginning to cement a growing rift between progressives and mainstream democrats on the left.

Democrats need to make up their minds what is more important to their party heading into ’10: progressive ideals, or conservative, centrist and corporatist pandering. Because without a candidate like Obama on the ticket to turn out the progressive, young and minority base that his presidency owes its existence to, they’re left to their own devices (good policy votes for incumbents, strong stances by challengers) to motivate those voters to turn out.

As Kos said: “We’ll turn out if we feel it’s worth our time and effort to vote, and we’ll work hard to make sure others turn out if you inspire us with bold and decisive action.”

Obama should take that as a wakeup call for ’12.

by JC

going rogue

It’s election day, and the thoughts on my mind, one year after Obama and democrats swept to victory and republicans went down in defeat, are thus:

Will the conservative uprising in elections back east amount to anything more than a squabble in the GOP, and progressive democrats will succeed in wresting control of their party from its moderate entrenchment?

Or has the republican party completely lost its ability to govern, and the return of the two party system will revolve around a centrist democrat/republican corporatism vs. a far right conservative ideology?

Alternatively, anybody feeling the love, àla hope and change?




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